Rockets at seven positives, season suspended for two weeks . . . WHL postpones 10 games . . . QMJHL puts Sherbrooke into isolation

It was a record day in B.C. on Wednesday with the announcement of 1,013 new positive tests, the highest one-day number since the pandemic began over a Rocketsyear ago.

Unfortunately for the WHL and the Kelowna Rockets, they were part of the day’s tally.

The WHL announced late in the day that the Rockets have been shut down for at least 14 days because of a total of seven positive tests within the organization. That includes one staff member from Tuesday and six more people — two staff members and four players — from Wednesday.

As a result, all Rockets team activities have been suspended at least through April 14.

According to the WHL, all test results from the four other B.C. Division teams came back negative.

While the Rockets have been staying with their billets in Kelowna, the Victoria Royals are in a hotel there. In Kamloops, the Blazers with billets, while the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants are in a hotel.

The WHL also announced the postponement of 10 games, including Kamloops at Kelowna on Tuesday and a Wednesday game that was to have had Vancouver and Prince George meet in Kamloops. It was scrubbed out of an abundance of caution.

All told, nine games involving Kelowna have been postponed.

The Rockets last played on Sunday when they lost, 6-0, to the Giants in Kamloops. Kelowna next is scheduled to play on April 17 against the Cougars in Kamloops.

The Rockets also had someone in their organization test positive earlier in March, just prior to the start of this developmental season. That individual and someone deemed a close contact had to self-isolate but the Rockets’ schedule wasn’t impacted because it was deemed not to be in-season.

The WHL’s Wednesday news release is right here.


The NHL postponed a game between the visiting Calgary Flames and Vancouver nhl2Canucks just 90 minutes before it was to have started on Wednesday. . . . Vancouver F Adam Gaudette tested positive on Tuesday and was taken off the ice during practice. Another player whose identity wasn’t known last night has joined Gaudette on the COVID-19 protocol list, while a member of the Canucks’ coaching staff also has gone into protocol. . . . Both teams had skated and held media availabilities earlier in the day. . . . This was the 42nd game postponed by the NHL because of COVID-19. . . . Calgary’s next game is scheduled for Friday against the Oilers in Edmonton. . . . The Canucks, who just had six days off, are to play Saturday in Edmonton.


Cats


The QMJHL has put the Sherbrooke Phoenix into what it calls “preventative qmjhlnewisolation” following a positive test to a staff member on Wednesday. The Phoenix had been playing in one of the QMJHL’s “protected environment” events, this one in Sherbrooke. Because of the positive test, the Phoenix isn’t able to compete, leaving the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Olympiques to play each other on Thursday and again on Friday. . . . The Phoenix was to have played the Armada on Wednesday night, but that game was cancelled.


It was earlier in March when Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, suggested that there was room for optimism concerning a return to play for the OHL by month’s end. . . . Well, the final day of March came and went without any kind of announcement. And with Ontario apparently heading into some kind of a lockdown that likely will last at least 28 days it would seem that the OHL’s chances of having any kind of season may be in jeopardy.


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IN THE WHL ON WEDNESDAY . . .

The Saskatoon Blades ran their point streak to 10 games with a 3-2 victory over Bladesthe Winnipeg Ice in Regina. . . . The Blades (9-0-1) are off to the best start in franchise history, and now have won seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg slipped to 6-4-0. . . . G Nolan Maier earned the victory with 29 saves. He now has 86 career regular-season victories and that’s a franchise record. Maier, who is from Yorkton, now has one more victory than Tim Cheveldae (1985-88), who is from Melville. Cheveldae also was the Blades goaltending coach for seven seasons (2013-20). He tutored Maier for three of those seasons. . . . “I knew it was going to be broken and the fact that Nolan should break it, I couldn’t be more happy,” Cheveldae told Saskatoon radio station CKOM. . . . The Blades erased a 1-0 deficit on goals from F Brandon Lisowsky (4), F Kyle Crnkovic (4) and F Colton Dash (7). . . . F Connor McClennon (5) pulled the Ice to within one at 7:14 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon was without F Chase Wouters, who is serving a three-game suspension, and D Rhett Rhinehart, who is sitting out a two-game sentence. . . .

D Jeremy Hanzel broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Hanzel, a freshman from Coquitlam, B.C., has two goals and an assist in six games. . . . When Hanzel scored at 10:18, it was the first time Everett (5-1-0) had trailed to this point in the season. . . . F Ethan Regnier (3) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 18:10 of the second period. . . . F Conner Roulette (4) got Seattle (4-2-0) even at 3:27 of the third via the PP. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 32 shots to earn the victory. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf turned aside 36 shots.


Asphalt



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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Woodpecker

Lynn Lake legend takes on the ‘Hammer’ . . . Remembering a fax from Rocky . . . The virus finds the QMJHL

When I was a hockey-playing teenager in Lynn Lake, Man., Steve Andrascik was THE MAN.

Two years older than me, he played two seasons (1967-69) with the Flin Flon Andrascik.Bombers, totalling 62 goals and 62 assists in 110 games. He also earned 230 penalty minutes as he sometimes rode shotgun with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Steve was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 12-team NHL’s 1968 draft — 24 players were selected over three rounds.

Steve would come home in the offseason and work in the mine. Competitive? Sometimes he would stop off at the fastball diamond on his way to work and pitch for one of the men’s teams . . . while wearing work boots.

Yes, he was a Lynn Lake legend.

As a pro, he played 77 games in the WHA and had stints in the CHL, SHL and AHL, finishing up with the Hershey Bears with whom, as I understand it, he was quite popular.

His NHL career consisted of one game, a playoff game in Madison Square Garden. After spending the 1971-72 season with the AHL’s Providence Reds — he had 14 goals, 10 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 74 games — the New York Rangers added him for their playoff run. On April 20, he was in their lineup for a 3-2 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of what would be a sweep of the Blackhawks.

The Rangers would lose the Stanley Cup final in six games to Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins. Steve didn’t get in the New York lineup but he was along for the ride.

That brings us to the following tweet . . .

——

The tweet referencing the bout between Steve Andrascik and Dave Schultz reminded me of a WHL-related story from a few seasons back.

This is one of those stories that really is too good to try and confirm just in case it didn’t happen. It just may be one of those stories best prefaced with “Legend has it . . .”

But, hey, here it is . . .

It was early in December of 1996 and Rocky Thompson and the Medicine Hat Tigers were preparing to head out on a three-game swing into B.C. They were scheduled to visit the Kelowna Rockets (Dec. 10), Kamloops Blazers (Dec. 11) and Prince George Cougars (Dec. 13).

Defenceman Scott Parker was the man with the Rockets, while the Blazers had forward Rob Skrlac. In Prince George, Zdeno Chara, a young 6-foot-8 defenceman from Trencin, Slovakia, was making people sit up and take notice.

Thompson, of course, knew the challenges he would face on this road trip. He was in his fourth season with the Tigers, although he would be traded to the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 24, which was the trade deadline. Todd McLellan, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, acquired Thompson, 19, and sniper Josh Green, 19, for F Tyler Perry, 19; F Andrew Milne, 18; D Kevin Mackie, 15; F Brett Scheffelmaier, 15; and a 1997 second-round bantam draft pick.

But that trade was yet to happen.

Preparing to head into the rugged B.C. Division, Thompson was well aware of just who would be his dance partners.

He knew all about Parker and Skrlac, both of whom were WHL veterans. But, hey, what about the new guy in Prince George?

Well, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to really test the new guy, so before heading out on the road he sent a fax to Chara via the Cougars’ office. “I’m coming for you” is all it read.

The Tigers opened the trip in Kelowna and, true to form, Thompson and Parker scrapped right off the opening faceoff. Moments before the puck was dropped, Parker skated up from the Kelowna blue line and traded shots with the Rockets’ starting right winger, which put him nose-to-nose with Thompson, who was lined up at left wing. The epic bout that followed is available on YouTube.

One night later, Thompson was back in the Tigers’ lineup in Kamloops, but as hard as Skrlac tried in the early going he wasn’t able to engage the Medicine Hat tough guy. Eventually, the referee approached Thompson and  asked if he had plans to accommodate Skrlac. Thompson told him that he had damaged a hand in the bout with Parker so wasn’t about to scrap with Skrlac.

Two nights later, Thompson picked up a roughing minor in Prince George, but there wasn’t a bout with Chara.

The best laid plans — and sent faxes — and all that . . .

BTW, the Tigers made out just fine on the trip, beating the Rockets 5-4 in OT on a goal by F Jason Chimera at 4:48 of extra time, winning 3-1 in Kamloops and earning a 2-2 OT tie (remember ties?) in Prince George.

Of course, we are referencing the same Rocky Thompson who, at the age of 43, is preparing for his first season as an associate coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He spent the previous three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He also was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for two seasons, helping them to the 2017 Memorial Cup title.



These are interesting times in major junior hockey, where the OHL and WHL are qmjhlnewhoping to get their regular seasons started in December. The QMJHL, meanwhile, has one weekend under its belt and has lost three teams. . . . The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have suspended all in-person activities. That comes after an Armada player tested positive following a weekend doubleheader between the teams. . . . At the same time, the Armada and Quebec Remparts have been shut down at least for the rest of this month as they are in a red zone as defined by the provincial government. . . . Armada staff and players are in isolation as they await further testing and results, and the outcome of contact tracing. . . . The Armada and Remparts each has eight games on their October schedules.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.

“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”


That’s Kelly Olynyk at the left of the photo in the following tweet. He and his Miami Heat are scheduled to play Game 4 of the NBA final tonight in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers tested positive on Monday. According to the Oilers, he is “in voluntary self-quarantine at his home. He will continue to be monitored and will follow all associated health protocols. He is feeling well and is experiencing mild symptoms.” . . .

Kevin Sumlin, the head coach of the Arizona football team, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation while contact tracing is conducted. His team is scheduled to begin practising on Friday, with its first game scheduled for Nov. 7 against host Utah. . . . “My family and I have been aggressive in our efforts to remain safe and healthy throughout the past seven months,” Sumlin said in a statement. “My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.” . . . At least four FBS coaches have tested positive since July, the others being Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Jason Candle of Toledo and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. . . .

Bobby Bowden, who spent 34 years as the head coach of the Florida State football team, has tested positive. Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Bowden, who will turn 91 next month, “tested positive following his release from (a Tallahassee) hospital last weekend while being treated for an unrelated leg infection.” . . . He had been released from hospital on Thursday and was informed on Saturday that he had tested positive. . . . Bowden retired in 2009 after 44 seasons as a football coach.


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.