Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Kamloops for Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night.
Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Thunderbirds, wasn’t there, though. It seems an undisclosed illness — sorry, no idea whether it’s an upper-body or lower-body illness — kept him at home in Kent, Wash.
And, furthermore, it seems that no one wanted to talk about it.
Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week visited the Seattle dressing room after the game and met up with assistant coach Kyle Hagel. Here’s what Hastings wrote:
“He’s just not here,” Seattle assistant coach Kyle Hagel told KTW.
Why is he not here?
“He’s just not here,” Hagel said.
Is it health related?
“He’s just not here,” parroted the T-Birds’ assistant coach.
Hastings added: “Hagel does not expect O’Dette to return for Game 2 . . .”
O’Dette wasn’t there for Game 2 on Saturday night, a game the Thunderbirds won, 4-1, to tie the Western Conference final, 1-1.
The question now becomes: Will O’Dette be back behind the Seattle bench for Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night?
Of course, there also are all kinds of questions concerning O’Dette’s health. Thom Beuning, the Thunderbirds’ veteran play-by-play man, said in the third period of Friday’s broadcast that O’Dette was out because of “illness” and that he had stayed home as a precautionary measure.
You are free to wonder if O’Dette has the flu or whether his “illness” is related to COVID-19. He didn’t respond to a text on Saturday night asking if he could provide clarification about his health and/or his status for Game 3.
SATURDAY IN THE WHL:
In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored the game’s last four goals, all in the third period, as it beat the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-1, to even the best-of-seven final, 1-1. . . . This was Edmonton’s first loss after nine straight playoff victories. . . . The Oil Kings had won, 5-4 in OT, on Friday night. . . . The next three games are scheduled to be played in Edmonton — Monday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . F Mikey Milne, who finished with three goals, got the scoring started, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead at 10:08 of the first period. . . . The Oil Kings pulled even at 18:45 when D Logan Dowhaniuk (2) scored, on a PP, at 18:45. . . . After a scoreless second period, Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe took a headshot major and game misconduct two minutes into the third. The Ice promptly took control with a pair of PP goals. . . . F Owen Peterson (7) struck at 3:15 and Milne made it 3-1 at 6:20. . . . Milne completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:24. That was his 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . D Max Streule (1), who had been the victim of Wiebe’s high hit, completed the scoring at 19:17. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-4. . . . Chances are Wiebe won’t be around for the next game or two as he almost certainly will be hearing from the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline. . . . The Ice got a big game from G Gage Alexander, who finished with 35 stops. Alexander started a game for the first time since March 5. He had come into Game 1 in relief of Daniel Hauser and stopped 18 of 19 shots. . . . G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 18 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . As per the tweets from Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press, Ice forwards Matt Savoie and Connor McClennon didn’t finish the game. Both will be evaluated Sunday before the teams heads for Edmonton. Savoie was the Ice’s leading regular-season scorer, with 90 points, while McClennon was tied for second, with 81. McClennon had a team-high 43 goals.
In Kamloops, F Conner Roulette broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period and the Seattle Thunderbirds went on to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers, evening the best-of-seven conference final, 1-1. . . . Kamloops had put up a 5-2 victory on Friday night. . . . The series now shifts to Kent, Wash., for games on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Game 5 scheduled for Kamloops on Friday. . . . Last night, the Thunderbirds scored the game’s last four goals after F Logan Stankoven gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 14th goal at 1:39 of the first period. . . . F Lucas Ciona (7) shot Seattle into a tie at 6:39. . . . Roulette (2) gave the visitors the lead at 5:32 of the second period. . . . F Sam Oremba (2) added some insurance at 5:25 of the third period, and F Reid Schaefer (6) iced it with the empty-netter at 17:55. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic was the game’s first start, with 40 saves. He beat Stankoven on a late second-period breakaway with Seattle leading 2-1, then made a wonderful come-across stop on Kamloops D Viktor Persson off a Stankoven pass. In the third period, Milic stopped F Luke Toporowski on a breakaway immediately after the Thunderbirds had gone ahead 3-1. . . . The Blazers got 23 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Thunderbirds were without F Henrik Rybinski, who apparently suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the series. He has 13 points, including 10 assists, in 13 playoff games. . . . Seattle also was again without head coach Matt O’Dette, who stayed home with an apparent illness. In his absence, assistant coaches Kyle Hagel and Matt Marquardt ran things for a second straight game.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning has signed F Jaydon Dureau of the Portland Winterhawks to a three-year entry-level contract. Dureau, who turned 21 on Jan. 20, was a fifth-round pick by the Lightning in the NHL’s 2020 draft. From White City, Sask., Dureau had 66 points, including 24 goals, in 49 regular-season games with the Winterhawks this season.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.