Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


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.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


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.


Sleeping

Bilous, Bruins win Game 7 . . . Ice opens by beating Warriors . . . Bankier streak to 15 as Blazers dump Giants

The host Estevan Bruins won the SJHL championship on Friday night, taking Game 7, 4-0, over the Flin Flon Bombers. G Boston Bilous earned the shutout with 29 saves. . . . Both teams will play in the 10-team Centennial Cup, though, because the Bruins are in as the host team. The national junior A championship tournament runs from May 20 through May 29.


The Brandon Wheat Kings announced Friday that general manager Doug Gasper Brandonhas chosen to leave the organization “for personal reasons.” . . . Gasper joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019, and was named GM on April 16, 2021. . . . Gasper took over from Darren Ritchie, who moved on to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. . . . According to the news release, Gasper “will transition out of his current position over the coming weeks and will assist in hiring his replacement.” . . . Kelly McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager for 27 seasons before leaving to join the front office of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Since 2016, Grant Armstrong, who now scouts for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Ritchie and Gasper have held the position.


With 14 of the WHL’s 22 teams having had their seasons reach the end of the road, you can bet that the coaching carousel is soon to start spinning.

For starters, the Spokane Chiefs introduced Matt Bardsley as their new general Spokanemanager this week, and you have to think there might be a coaching change in the offing there.

Ryan Smith has been the Chiefs’ interim head coach since head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith had been the club’s associate coach.

Should Bardsley choose to hire his ‘own’ coach, you have to think Kyle Gustafson, who just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will be in the running. Gustafson had been on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff since 2003 when he chose to join former Winterhawks associate coach Travis Green with the Canucks. Of course, Green was fired as head coach by the Canucks early in the season. Gustafson finished up the season under head coach Bruce Boudreau, who replaced Green.

Bardsley spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ front office, so he and Gustafson are quite familiar with each other. In fact, early in Bardsley’s stint as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, he offered the Blazers’ head-coaching job, and a four-year contract, to Gustafson.

There are expected to be changes in the Canucks organization and the coaching staff likely won’t escape unscathed. Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted on Friday that amateur scouts Brandon Benning, Pat Conacher, Tim Lenardon and Derek Richard have been dropped by the Canucks. Patrick Johnston of Postmedia added that Ted Hampson, another amateur scout, also is gone.

With change in the wind, perhaps Gustafson might be interested in making a pre-emptive move by returning to the WHL. Should that happen, expect Smith to stay on with the Chiefs as associate coach.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Regina Pats would seem to have a coaching Reginadecision on their hands, too.

You will recall that John Paddock, already the vice-president of hockey operations and general manager, took over as head coach after the firing of David Struch on Nov. 18. At the time, ownership stated that Paddock would be the head coach through the 2022-23 season. However, assistant coach Brad Herauf ended up the interim head coach from Feb. 11 through season’s end as Paddock was forced to deal with some health concerns.

It will be worth watching to see if Paddock, who will turn 68 in June, will remain the head coach.


Your daily reminder that the pandemic isn’t over, this one from The New York Times: “George Cheeks, the president and chief executive of CBS, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, just days after sitting beside President Biden at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the network confirmed on Friday.”


Gift


There were two WHL playoff games on Friday night as the Winnipeg Ice and WHLplayoffs2022Kamloops Blazers opened best-of-seven conference semifinal series with victories. . . . The pace will pick up tonight with all eight remaining teams in action. . . . In the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 Ice will again play host to the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, who fell 6-1 last night, while the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visit the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who hold a 1-0 edge. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 2 Blazers and No. 8 Vancouver Giants will meet again in Kamloops, where the home team won, 3-1, last night, while the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds open their series in Kent, Wash.

——

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored in the first minute of each period en route to a WinnipegIce6-1 victory over the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Ice leads the conference semifinal, 1-0, with Game 2 set for tonight in Winnipeg. . . . F Owen Pederson (4) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into the first period. . . . F Jakin Smallwood (4) upped it to 3-0 just 57 seconds into the second period. . . . F Mike Milne (6) made it 6-0 at 0:11 of the third period. . . . Pederson finished with two goals, giving him five in these playoffs, and an assist, while Milne added two assists to his goal. . . . Winnipeg G Daniel Hauser stopped 18 shots. He lost his shutout bid when F Brayden Yager (3) scored at 17:48 of the third period. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-4.

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Caedan Bankier had a goal and an assist, running his point Kamloopsstreak to 15 games in the process, as the No. 2 Blazers opened with a 3-1 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . Game 2 will be played in Kamloops tonight. . . . Bankier (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 18:28 of the first period. . . . Bankier, who put up 60 points in 68 regular-season games, has quietly put together a 15-game point streak. He finished the regular-season on a 10-game tear (five goals, 11 assists) and has put up two goals and six assists in five playoff games. . . . F Reese Belton (1), at 2:43, and F Ethan Rowland (1), at 16:29, gave the Blazers a 3-0 lead with second-period goals. . . . F Adam Hall (8) got the Giants on the board at 7:04 of the third. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand stopped 30 shots. In these playoffs, he is 5-0, 0.80, .968. . . . The Blazers lost F Luke Toporowski late in the first period with what appeared to be an injury to his left shoulder. F Daylan Kuefler moved into his spot on the team’s top line, alongside Logan Stankoven and Drew Englot. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted later that Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ GM/head coach, said the “early feel” is that Toporowoski’s injury isn’t long-term, that he’s “sore,” and that he’ll be re-evaluated Saturday. . . . Toporowski missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a knee injury. . . . On the same stoppage during which Toporowski left, the Giants lost D Mazden Leslie, who left while favouring his right leg.


JUST NOTES: Greg Brown is the new head coach of the Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team. After spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach or associate coach with the Eagles, he now takes over from the retiring Jerry York. Brown also played at BC before going on to a pro career that included 94 games in the NHL and eight seasons in Europe. . . .

Manny Viveiros was back behind the Henderson Silver Knights’ bench for an AHL playoff game on Friday night. Viveiros, a former WHLer, had been away from the team while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. In his absence, Jamie Heward, another former WHLer, handled the head-coaching duties. . . . Viveiros was the general manager and head coach, and Heward his assistant, with the Swift Current Broncos when they won the 2017-18 WHL championship. . . . Last night, the host Colorado Eagles beat Henderson, 5-2, thus winning the best-of-three first-round series, 2-0.


Donut


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

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.


Will

WHL’s second round set to begin . . . It’s Rebels at Oil Kings tonight . . . Bardsley takes over in Spokane

WHLplayoffs2022After taking a couple of nights off, the WHL playoffs resume tonight (Thursday) as the second round gets started with an Eastern Conference matchup — the Red Deer Rebels visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . No, I’m not going to make predictions but I will tell you that the teams met 10 times this season — the Oil Kings were 5-3-2, while the Rebels were 5-5-0. . . . Edmonton had a 34-29 edge in goals scored. . . . Over 68 games, the Oil Kings finished 50-14-4, which left them 10 points ahead of the Rebels (45-19-4). . . . If you’re looking for a harbinger, perhaps this is it — they evenly split their last four regular-season meetings, all of which came in April, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Edmonton outscored Red Deer, 16-15, in those four games. . . . Does that signal a close series? . . . The Oil Kings are coming off a sweep of the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes, while the Rebels took six games to shake off the No. 6 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .

The other Eastern Conference semifinal is to open Friday night in Winnipeg with the Ice playing host to the Winnipeg Warriors. . . . They met seven times in the regular season, with Winnipeg going 5-1-1 and Winnipeg 2-5-0. . . . There was a large discrepancy in offence with the Ice holding a 37-16 edge. . . . Winnipeg had the WHL’s best regular-season record (53-10-5) and wound up 20 points ahead of the Warriors (37-24-7). . . . They met three times late in the regular season, with Winnipeg winning, 4-0 and 8-1, on March 16 and 29. The last time they played each other, on April 2, the host Warriors won, 3-1. . . . In the first round, the Ice took care of the No. 8 Prince Albert Raiders in five games, while the Warriors did the same to the No. 5 Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Meanwhile, one Western Conference semifinal opens Friday night, with the other swinging into action on Saturday. . . .

The Vancouver Giants, fresh off perhaps the biggest upset in WHL playoff history, are to be in Kamloops to face the Blazers on Friday night. . . . The Blazers are the highest seed in the Western Conference now. They went in as the second seed, but the top-seeded Everett Silvertips were ousted by the No. 8 Giants. . . . Kamloops finished the regular season at 48-17-3, 46 points ahead of Vancouver (24-39-5). . . . The Blazers, who swept the No. 7 Spokane Chiefs while outscoring them, 23-3, dominated the regular-season series, going 10-1-1 — Vancouver was 2-9-1 — and outscoring the Giants, 50-24. . . . These teams have met four times since Feb. 1 with Kamloops winning three of them — 3-2, 4-3 (OT) and 5-2 — while losing 4-3 in OT at home. . . .

The No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds are to open on Saturday night. Because the arena in Portland is busy with high school grads, this series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format, meaning it is to begin in Kent, Wash., before moving to Portland for two games. . . . The Winterhawks, who swept the No. 6 Prince George Cougars, had a 47-16-5 regular-season record, leaving them five points ahead of Seattle (44-18-6). . . . The Thunderbirds took out the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets in five games. . . . Portland and Seattle met 13 times in the regular season with the Winterhawks going 9-4-0; the Thunderbirds were 4-6-3. . . . Nine of the games were decided by one or two goals with Portland outscoring Seattle, 44-36. . . .

Go ahead. Make your picks. Then let the fun begin . . .


In the OHL, the No. 7 Kitchener Rangers took out the No. 2 London Knights on Wednesday night . . .


Cables


As expected, the Spokane Chiefs have signed Matt Bardsley as their general Spokanemanager, replacing Scott Carter who announced earlier in the season that he is leaving for health and family reasons. Carter had been the GM for six seasons (2016-22). . . . Contract terms weren’t revealed, but you would be safe to say that Bardley got three years and perhaps as many as five. . . . Bardsley is only the Chiefs’ third GM since 1990. Carter had replaced Tim Speltz (1990-2016), who left to scout for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Bardsley was the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager from 2018-21. Recently, he has been working as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . Bardsley, who is from Portland and spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ organization, left Kamloops for family reasons in May 2021. . . . Bardsley was in Kamloops last week for the third game of the Chiefs’ first-round playoff series with the Blazers and, in fact, was spotted in the Spokane dressing room after the game. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here.


In case you thought the pandemic was over, it isn’t. . . . Jackson Browne was supposed to have opened for James Taylor and his All-Star Band tonight (Thursday) at the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. But that isn’t going to happen because a “small number of positive COVID-19 cases” were found among tour staff. . . . According to a note on the tour’s website, the decision “was made out of an abundance of caution for the touring personnel, general public and the audience in Winnipeg.” . . . The next stop on the tour is scheduled for Saturday in Calgary. If the virus approves, of course.


Marathon


Mitch

Mitch Love, a former WHL coach and player, has been named the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s coach of the year. Love, 37, is in his first season as head coach of the Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Love played five seasons (2000-05) in the WHL, splitting time with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips. He was an Everett assistant coach for six seasons before spending three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Stockton went 45-16-7 to finish atop the Pacific Division and is awaiting a first-round playoff opponent.


JUST NOTES:

F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs will finish up this season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears after signing an amateur tryout agreement with them. Hughes, who just completed his 20-year-old season, was a fifth-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips has joined the AHL’s San Diego Gulls for the remainder of the season. The Anaheim Ducks selected Zellweger, who will turn 19 on Sept. 10, in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .

F Ridley Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings has joined the AHL’s Belleville Senators for their playoff run, as long or short as it may be. The Ottawa Senators grabbed Greig, 19, with the 28th overall pick in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

CapFriendly reported Wednesday that F Ryder Korczak of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Korczak, 19, was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 2021 draft. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have been purchased by brothers Ron and TJ Brar from Chuck Westgard, who had owned the team for 12 seasons. The league’s board of governors approved the sale last weekend, and it is effective immediately. . . . The Brars own Evergreen Herbs, which, according to a BCHL news release, is “a Surrey-based business that has grown into a leading provider of fresh herbs and vegetables to grocery stores across the country.” . . .

Rob DiMaio, a former WHL player, has been named assistant general manager with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He also will serve as the general manager of their AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. DiMaio was with the St. Louis Blues for the past 13 seasons, most recently as director of player personnel. He won back-to-back (1987 and 1988) Memorial Cups with the Medicine Hat Tigers and was the tournament MVP in 1988. . . .

Adam Nightingale is the new head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. For the past two seasons, he was a head coach with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He also has experience as an NHL assistant coach, most recently (2019-20) with the Detroit Red Wings. Nightingale replaces Danton Cole, the head coach for the past five seasons. . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles have renewed the contract of head coach Chad Cassidy. He took over the Eagles’ position on Jan. 7, replacing Jake Grimes, who had resigned for personal reasons.


Therapist


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

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.


Cake

Beyak chooses to end things on his terms . . . Revisiting two epic WHL comebacks . . . Oil Kings end Hurricanes’ season

Rich Franklin spent time in the front office of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and now is an executive with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. . . . The above tweet is from the Kraken’s home game on Wednesday night and I have to tell you that it warms my heart.


DennisBeyak
DENNIS BEYAK

Dennis Beyak, one of hockey’s best play-by-play voices, has decided to partially retire when this season is over, something that will happen for him on Sunday. Beyak has been the voice of the Winnipeg Jets on TSN since 2011. Unfortunately, because of blackout regulations, a lot of hockey fans likely have never heard him call an NHL game. . . . Beyak, who turned 70 on Nov. 23, will call his final Jets’ game on Sunday afternoon when they meet the visiting Seattle Kraken. . . . Thankfully, we will be able to hear him on occasion as TSN plans on giving him some international assignments. His work on many World Junior Championship games that don’t involve Team Canada has been terrific. . . . Here’s hoping he’s on the call for some games from the WJC in Edmonton in August. . . .

If you aren’t aware, Beyak is a former WHL play-by-play man and also a former WHL executive. . . . He began his play-by-play career at CFAR in Flin Flon in 1970 as the voice of the Bombers at a salary of $57.50 per week. He would go on to call the play for the Saskatoon Blades, Victoria Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He had stints in management, too, as the Blades’ assistant general manager and as GM of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. . . . He also has been the play-by-play voice of the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .

Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun wrote that Beyak explained his decision this way: “When I turned 70, I started to think about this, about how much longer I wanted to do this. I always wanted to kind of go out while I was still able to do it. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was questioning myself — should I have done it earlier?” . . .

Oh, and did I mention that he is an excellent emcee, who could have been a standup comedian?


Weight


Only two teams in WHL history have fallen behind 0-3 and gone on to win a best-of-seven series — the 1995-96 Spokane Chiefs and the 2012-13 Kelowna Rockets.

Let’s take a brief look back, shall we . . .

The Chiefs completed the 1995-96 regular season with a 50-18-4 record — that Spokanefour denotes ties (remember them?). They wound up atop the seven-team West Division. The Portland Winterhawks, meanwhile, finished in sixth place, at 30-39-3.

The series opened in Spokane with games on March 22 and 23, and the Winterhawks skated to 3-2 (OT) and 7-4 victories. They won the opener on F Brad Isbister’s goal at 6:23 of OT, then got three goals and two assists from F Richard Zednik in Game 2.

Playing at home on March 26, Portland got two goals and two assists from Todd Robinson, with Zednik chipping in two goals and an assist, in a 6-4 victory. And just like that the Winterhawks led the series, 3-0.

But one night later the Chiefs got out to a 4-1 lead before the first period was 13 minutes old and went on to a 5-3 victory. F Darren Sinclair and F Jason Podollan each scored twice for the visitors.

Back in Spokane on March 29, G David Lemanowicz turned aside 34 shots as the Chiefs won, 5-0. Podollan had three goals and an assist, giving him six scores in the five games.

The series headed back to Portland for Game 6 and the Chiefs won, 4-3, to get back on equal footing. After Spokane F Joe Cardarelli tied it on a PP with his second goal of the game, and fourth of the series, at 19:29 of the third period, the teams went into double OT before deciding it. It ended when F Randy Favaro struck for his first goal at 3:50.

On April 3, the Chiefs, playing at home, wrapped up the series with a 4-3 victory. Again, the teams went to OT, with Sinclair winning it 58 seconds into extra time.

The Chiefs went on to eliminate the Kamloops Blazers in six games, then would lose the WHL championship final to the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games. Only one of Spokane’s last 11 playoff games needed OT.

——

In 2012-13, the Rockets finished with a 52-16-4 record, good for second place Kelownain the Western Conference, while the Seattle Thunderbirds wound up 24-38-10 and in seventh place.

Their seven-game series would feature five games that needed extra time to decide a winner.

The first two games were played in Kelowna with the Thunderbirds winning twice in OT — 5-4 on a goal by F Luke Lockhart at 19:09 and 2-1 when F Alex Delnov scored at 2:41.

The series then headed for Kent, Wash., where Seattle won Game 3, 3-2, scoring the game’s last three goals and winning when D Evan Wardley counted at 4:55 of OT. That left the Thunderbirds with what appeared to be a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Rockets started the long road back on March 27, winning 4-0 in Kent, behind two goals and an assist from F Tyson Baillie, a goal and two assists from F Zach Franko, and 25 saves from G Jordan Cooke.

They played Game 5 three nights later in Kelowna, with the Rockets building a 4-1 lead and hanging on to win, 4-3, as Seattle counted twice in the game’s last minute.

Then it was back to Kent for an April 2 game that the Rockets won, 4-3 in OT, to tie the series, 3-3. Game 6 was bizarre in that the first six goals all were scored in the first period. Lockhart’s third goal of the series gave Seattle a 3-1 lead at 9:23. Kelowna tied it on goals from F Tyrell Goulbourne (14:56) and F Cody Fowlie (16:20). The Rockets, who held a 59-43 edge in shots, won it when D Myles Bell got his fourth goal of the series at 10:39 of OT.

The very next night the series ended in Kelowna as the Rockets completed their remarkable comeback with a 3-2 victory and, yes, it took overtime.

Wardley gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period. The Rockets grabbed a 2-1 lead on two goals from Baillie — his fifth and sixth of the series — at 9:17 of the second period and 13:09 of the third. Lockhart’s fourth goal in seven games tied it at 19:53. That left it for Baillie to complete his hat trick at 5:10 of OT. Baillie finished the series with seven goals and five assists.

The Rockets moved onto the second round where they were swept by the Kamloops Blazers. The last two games of that series needed OT, meaning Kelowna went into extra time in seven of its 11 playoff games that spring.



THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

There was one playoff game last night, and there are six on tap tonight. While the Edmonton Oil Kings completed a sweep of the host Lethbridge Hurricanes last night, four more teams — the Kelowna Rockets, Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs — will face elimination on tonight’s six-game schedule. . . . Here’s a brief look at last night’s game . . .

Eastern Conference

In Lethbridge, F Josh Williams broke a 4-4 tie late in the third period and the EdmontonEdmonton Oil Kings went on to  a 6-4 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings won the series, 4-0, and now await a second-round opponent. . . . F Justin Hall (1) pulled the Hurricanes into a 4-4 tie at 15:17 of the third period. Williams scored his first goal of the series just 40 seconds later. . . . F Jakub Demek (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Edmonton held a 47-17 edge in shots. . . . F Dylan Guenther scored Edmonton’s first goal, giving him one in each of the four games. . . . The Hurricanes took all four of the game’s minor penalties and surrendered two PP goals. . . . The Hurricanes join Prince George on the outside looking in after the Cougars were swept by the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday night.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Vancouver Giants will be without D Tom Cadieux and F Matthew Edwards when they entertain the Everett Silvertips in Game 4 of their first-round series tonight in Langley, B.C. Each player drew a one-game suspension for indiscretions in Game 3. The Silvertips hold a 2-1 edge in the series. Game 5 is scheduled for Everett on Saturday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has an advancer for tonight’s game right here, including a few words about how things are heating up between the two head coaches. . . .

The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder has named Sean Brown the interim general manager and head coach. He has been operating his hockey development business, Breakout Hockey, but joined the Thunder earlier as assistant GM/assistant coach. The Thunder announced Wednesday that Eric Thurston was out as GM/head coach after four seasons. . . .

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald tweets that “Scott Langer is out after one season” as head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. According to Schlossman, “The top candidate to replace him will be SCSU assistant Nick Oliver, a highly regarded young coach who played for the Force.”


Cops


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

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.


Dad

Broncos’ goaltender detailing U-18 team’s adventures . . . Zellweger, Toporowski expected back on Friday . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup, WJC have their dates

The WHL’s Swift Current Broncos will have seven players off their roster playing in the IIHF’s U-18 World championship when it opens in Germany on HockeyCanadaSaturday. . . . Six of those players will skate with Team Canada, the first time one team has had that many players on the roster. G Reid Dyck, D Owen Pickering, F Josh Davies, F Josh Filmon, F Connor Hvidston and F Mathew Ward all are part of Canada’s 25-man roster. . . . D Rayan Bettahar of the Broncos is on the host team’s roster. . . . Other WHLers on Team Canada’s roster are G Ethan Buenaventura, Calgary Hitmen; D Lukas Dragicevic, Tri-City Americans; D Kalem Parker, Victoria Royals; D Grayden Siepmann, Calgary; F Connor Bedard, Regina Pats; F Tanner Howe, Regina; and F Brayden Schuurman, Victoria. . . . I will be curious to see how F Matthew Wood of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies stacks up here. Wood, who turned 17 on Feb. 6, is from Lethbridge He led the WHL in goals (45) and points (85) in 46 games. He has committed to attend the U of Connecticut for 2023-24. The Regina Pats selected Wood in the second round of the WHL’s 2020 draft.. . . Canada will open Saturday against Team USA. . . . The tournament will be played in Kaufbeuren and Landshut, and is to run through May 1. . . . Team Canada’s roster is right here.

——

Team Canada already is in Germany, and G Reid Dyck of the Swift Current Broncos is blogging for the WHL team’s website, and his first posting is most entertaining and includes photos. He reports that Monday began with a 2:45 a.m. wakeup call in Regina. . . . You can read all about his day right here, a long travel day that ended when luggage belonging to Dyck and two teammates didn’t make it.



An email from a WHL fan who is a regular visitor to Taking Note:

“Your pet peeve loser points . . . Everett gets rewarded getting 10 loser points. Kamloops gets punished for having more regulation-time victories. . . . The WHL should do one or the other — copy the IIHF by giving the winner in regulation-time three points or go back and only give points to the winner.”

Or dump overtime and that silliness that is the shootout and bring tie games back into existence.

You ask, what’s this all about? It’s all about rewarding teams for losing — aka the loser point.

The Everett Silvertips finished atop the Western Conference with a record of 45-13-10. The two teams that finished one point behind them — the Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks — each had more victories (48 and 47) but far fewer loser points. While Everett cashed in 10 of those, Kamloops had three and Portland five.

Of course, Everett finished with fewer regulation-time losses (13) than Kamloops (17) and Portland (16).



F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats finished the WHL’s regular season with 51 goals. He was born on July 17, 2005, so hasn’t yet turned 17. As a result, he is the youngest player in WHL history to reach the 50-goal mark. . . . F Glen Goodall scored 63 goals with the 1986-87 Seattle Thunderbirds. He was born on Jan. 22, 1970, so had turned 17 before season’s end. BTW, he was a regular with Seattle at the age of 14, so already was in his third season when he hit for 63. . . . F Dan Lucas of the Victoria Cougars scored 57 goals in 1974-75. He was born on Feb. 28, 1958, so also had turned 17 before season’s end. That was his second season with the Cougars; he had played 29 games in 1973-74. . . . Bedard, of course, played with the Pats in the 2021 development season, scoring 12 goals in 15 games before heading off to play for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF World U-18 championship in Texas. Canada won that tournament, beating Russia 5-3 in the final. Bedard had seven goals and seven assists in seven games.



Fred


The Everett Silvertips expect to have Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-Everettscoring defenceman, back in the lineup on Friday when they open the playoffs against the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . “Olen will be set to play,” Dennis Williams, Everett’s general manager and head coach, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald. . . . Zellweger led defencemen in assists (64) and points (78), all in 55 games. . . . He hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury on April 10. He sat out Everett’s last two games, both road losses — 5-1 to the Portland Winterhawks and 4-1 to the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Silvertips go into the playoffs having lost three in a row while being outscored 13-3. In fact, they are just 2-3-2 in their last seven outings.


The Kamloops Blazers expect to have F Luke Toporowski, 20, back in their Kamloopslineup when they open against the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Friday. Toporowski, who was acquired from the Chiefs on Jan. 17, has been out with a leg injury since March 11. In 22 games with Kamloops, he had 34 points, including 20 goals. . . . F Nick McCarry, who was part of the package that went to Spokane in that deal, put up 16 goals and 19 assists in 36 games with the Chiefs. . . . Interestingly, Ryan Smith, the Chiefs’ interim head coach, spent one season on the coaching staff of the Medicine Hat Tigers working alongside Shaun Clouston. At that time, Clouston was the Tigers’ general manager and head coach; today, he wears both hats for the Blazers. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has a chat with Smith right here.


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.


Waldo


JUST NOTES: There now are official dates for the eight-team 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the 10-team 2022 World Junior Championship. The former, for U-18 teams, is scheduled for Red Deer, July 31 through Aug. 6. Canada will be in Group A, along with Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. Group B is to comprise Czechia, Finland, Germany and the U.S. The WJC is scheduled for Rogers Place in Edmonton, Aug. 9-20. You will recall that the WJC actually got started in December before a number of positive tests among players and on-ice officials resulted in its being cancelled. From a news release: “The results from games played in December will not be carried over to this summer’s World Juniors, and players born in 2002 or later will remain eligible to represent their respective countries.” Canada is to play in Group B with Czechia, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia. Group A is to feature Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. . . .

Manny Viveiros, a former WHL player and coach, is on leave from his position as head coach of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights as he progresses into “the next steps of his recovery,” according to a news release. Viveiros is fighting prostate cancer. . . . In his absence, assistant coach Jamie Heward takes over as interim head coach. . . . Viveiros was the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, with Heward as assistant coach, when they won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship. . . .

D Gannon Laroque of the Victoria Royals will finish this season with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. He could be in their lineup tonight against the host Bakersfield Condors. Laroque, from Edmonton, was a fourth-round selection by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Tarun Fizer, the Royals’ 20-year-old captain, will finish up with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. . . . Adam Nugent-Hopkins has joined the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., as the head coach of the the U-18 prep team. He spent the 2021-22 season as head coach of the U-18 AAA Greater Vancouver Canadians. He is the older brother of Edmonton Oilers F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Policy


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.


Eating

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if spring finally has arrived (sorry, Brandon and area) . . .

scattershooting

F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats will be on the roster when Hockey Canada announces the roster of the team that will play in the IIHF U-18 world HockeyCanadachampionship in Germany later this month. . . . That means he will be reunited with David Struch, who was fired as the Pats’ head coach on Nov. 18 and will be an assistant coach with Team Canada. . . . Bedard and his Pats closed out their WHL regular season on Sunday with a 7-4 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. Bedard put up five points — two goals and three assists — to finish the season with 100 points, including 51 goals, in 62 games. . . . Bedard, who will turn 17 on July 17, is the third 16-year-old in WHL history to score 50 times in one season. F Glen Goodall of the Seattle Thunderbirds scored 63 times in 1986-87, which was his third season in the WHL, while F Dan Lucas of the Victoria Cougars struck 57 times in 1974-75. . . . The U-18 tournament is to run from April 23 through May 1 in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany. . . . I believe that Bedard also is eligible to play in the 2022 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup early in August in Red Deer and the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is scheduled for Aug. 9-20 in Edmonton. . . . As for his future in the WHL, well, there already are rumblings in the hockey world that he could end up with the Blazers if Kamloops wins the right to play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup. Now that would be a trade for the ages!


SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

In Regina, F Connor Bedard ended his season with a flourish, putting up five points as the Pats beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 7-4. . . . Included in Bedard’s effort were his 50th goal and 100th point of the season. He finished with 51 goals. . . . F Tanner Howe (27) snapped a 4-4 tie, on a PP, at 7:15 of the third period. Bedard followed with No. 50, on another PP, at 13:50, then got No. 51 into an empty net at 19:36. . . . Howe’s season shouldn’t be overlooked in all the Bedard hype. Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, finished with 69 points, including 42 assists, in 64 games. . . . F Cole Dubinsky (20) added two goals and an assist for the winners. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (13) score twice for Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors will meet the Saskatoon Blades in the first round of the playoffs; the Pats didn’t qualify. . . . Regina ended up tied for ninth with the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen, each with 59 points, two shy of a playoff spot. . . .

In Calgary, F Alex Thacker’s OT goal gave the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Thacker’s 14th goal came just 19 seconds into extra time. . . . The Hurricanes led this one 2-0 before the first period was 12 minutes old. . . . Calgary F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (28) tied it, on a PP, at 18:27 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and will meet the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the opening round. . . . The Hitmen didn’t qualify.


Osprey
The osprey have arrived back on the South Thompson River east of Kamloops. This happy couple have started rebuilding their nest, while also looking for food. The latter won’t be an issue with lots of fish in the river.

SOME NUMBERS: F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels won the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL scoring king with 112 points. He was one of four players with at least 100 points, the others being linemate Ben King (105), F Logan Stankoven (104) of the Kamloops Blazers and F Connor Bedard (100) of the Regina Pats. . . . King led in goals (52), one more than Bedard. . . . Bains was tops in assists (69), five more than D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips. . . . King finished with 15 game-winning goals, one off the WHL record that was set by F Brian Propp of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1978-79. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Winnipeg Ice had the best GAA, at 2.00, while G Taylor Gauthier, who was acquired by the Portland Winterhawks from the Prince George Cougars during the season, was tops in save percentage (.928). . . . Hauser and Dylan Garand of Kamloops led in victories, each with 34. . . . Hauser had a WHL-high eight shutouts. . . .

According to numbers compiled by the WHL, the average attendance for 748 games was 3,203. That’s down from 4,154 for 694 games in 2019-20 and from 4,361 for 748 games in 2018-19. Of course, this season’s numbers are skewed because of pandemic-related restrictions in the early going.


THINKING OUT LOUD: Nothing sums up the end of the race for playoff spots in the WHL’s Western Conference like the Prince George Cougars starting Saturday in seventh place, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Rockets in Kelowna that night, and, despite the loss, moving up to sixth place in the final standings. . . . The Winnipeg Ice won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s top regular-season team. If the Ice goes on a deep playoff run, will it play all of its home game in what is the smallest arena in the 60-team CHL? The most frequently announced attendance in the Wayne Fleming Arena is 1,621. . . . The playoffs open on Thursday with the Lethbridge Hurricanes visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Because of a Paul McCartney concert in Spokane on April 28, the Chiefs and Kamloops Blazers will open with three games in Kamloops, and then have a break between Game 3 (April 25) and Game 4 (April 29). This is the first stop on the tour, so they will start setting up and staging on April 24. Perhaps the Chiefs can get Sir Paul to hang around and do the anthems before Game 4. Hey, why not? After April 28, he’s off until May 2 in Seattle.


Insomnia


If you’re a baseball fan, you no doubt were disappointed on Wednesday when Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts yanked left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who was throwing a perfect game through seven innings. Kershaw had thrown 80 pitches and the Dodgers held a 7-0 lead over the host Minnesota Twins at the time.

There was a whole lot of indignation on social media, with Roberts getting mostly roasted.

But the best take I saw came from Joe Posnanski, who wrote in part:

“There was no chance in the world that Clayton Kershaw was pitching nine innings on Wednesday in Minnesota. We all knew it. We might not have liked it, might have wished for something else, but I mean, when that game started, if someone had asked you, “What are the chances that Clayton Kershaw throws a nine-inning complete game today?” you would have said: Zero percent.

“Not 1%. Not 0.5%. No: 0.000000000000000%.”

Posnanski went on to point out that Kershaw “finished last season with his elbow barely intact . . . he only began throwing again in January . . . in a shortened spring training, he threw a grand total of 101 pitches . . .” Posnanski also mentioned that Kershaw hadn’t thrown a complete game in almost five years and it was “like 30 degrees with a howling wind at Target Field.”

Posnanski’s complete take is right here.


Google is your friend if you aren’t aware of Tom House and his accomplishments in the world of baseball.


Bacon


Joe Maddon, the manager of the Los Angeles Angeles, ordered up a bases-loaded walk in a Friday game.

How did that work out?

Here’s Joe Posnanski: “Here’s something funny about managing a baseball game: You could do the absolute right thing from a percentage and logic standpoint and have it blow up in your face. And you could do the dumbest thing imaginable for the dumbest reason imaginable and have it work out perfectly.”

His complete take on Maddon’s move is right here, and it’s a great read.



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Kiara Thomas was arrested and charged with assault in Laurel, Mississippi, for punching an umpire at a 12-year-old girls softball game, WLBT-TV reported. The capper? In her mugshot, Thomas rocks a ‘Mother of the Year’ t-shirt.”

——

Perry, again: “LSU outfielder Gavin Dugas was hit by a pitch 13 times in his first 103 plate appearances this season. Twins scouts love him, saying he’d be a perfect for Target Field.”


Dennys


The Athletic’s Chris Branch reports: “MLB commissioner Rob Manfred gifted every major leaguer a shiny new pair of Bose headphones on Opening Day as a way of saying, ‘I’m sorry for trying to withhold as much money from you as possible’ after a lockout that got particularly nasty at points. At least those pregame playlists will sound crisp now.”

——

One more note from Branch: “Jrue Holiday started Milwaukee’s 133-115 loss to Cleveland on (April 10), his 67th game this season, but didn’t stick around for long. Seconds after the opening tip, Holiday intentionally fouled Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, exited the game and never came back. Why? Holiday’s game total triggered a $306,000 bonus in his contract. That’s $38,250 per second of play. Not bad.”

The aforementioned Dwight Perry chimed in with: “Which pencils out to a tidy $136.8 million an hour.”


Headline at The Beaverton — Canada to distribute remaining vaccines through “Roll Up the Rim to Win” contest.

One more from The Beaverton — Study finds cycling healthiest way to get hit by a car.


Headline at TheOnion.com — Climate report finds Antarctica could support multiple golf courses by 2050.


It was just a week ago when I mentioned in this space that OF Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins was capable of having an MVP-type season if only he could stay healthy. . . . Well, he went down in the Twins’ 8-4 victory over the Red Sox in Boston on Friday afternoon. He left the game in the first inning with soreness in his right knee, and now is likely to miss at least a week.


Manure


If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to be on her team by sponsoring her, you are able to do that 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

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.


Feta

Sorting through WHL tiebreaking procedure to set up playoff matchups . . . Chiefs, Cougars, Giants, Raiders get in . . . Voice of Wheat Kings calls last game

So . . . right here, from the WHL’s own website, is an explanation of how it is to deal with a three-team tie in its final standings . . .

“In the event three (3) or more clubs finish tied in total points in WHL WHLstandings, the edge goes to the club with the most victories. Should the clubs have won the same number of games, then the higher position shall be awarded to the club having the greatest ratio when taking goals for and subtracting goals against in regular schedule play.”

What the WHL forgot to tell us is that there is another step in the procedure, as you shall see if you read on . . .

After Saturday’s games, the Prince George Cougars, Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver Giants all had 24 victories and 53 points. They were tied for sixth place in the Western Conference.

So under the above tiebreaking procedure, I had thought you would take the goals-for and goals-against for each team, subtract, and go from there. That would have put the Cougars (-63) in sixth, the Giants (-69) in seventh, and the Chiefs (-101) eighth.

But it seems that there is a step missing, one that would have provided some clarity, from that tiebreaking procedure as it is spelled out on the WHL website.

You see, in this instance, you only use that tiebreaking procedure to decide the sixth-place team. In this case, that would be the Cougars.

With the Cougars out of the way, the WHL went to a two-team tiebreaker to decide between the Giants and Chiefs. And goals-for and goals-against isn’t used for that one. Instead, because the teams finished with the same number of victories, the edge goes “to the club with the most points in games between the two during the regular season.” The Chiefs won the season series, 3-1-0, so they get seventh place.

That leaves the Giants in eighth.

(Confusing? As I write this, the standings on the WHL website have the Chiefs in sixth, followed by the Giants and then the Cougars.)

What we do know for sure is that the Royals, with 52 points, fell one point shy of that logjam. We also know that each of the first-round series will feature a U.S. team against one from B.C.

In the Eastern Conference, the Prince Albert Raiders wrapped up eighth place, and the last playoff spot, while the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen and Regina Pats were eliminated.


Happy


There are two games remaining in the WHL’s regular season but neither one will have any bearing on playoff positions. . . . Today, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are to visit the Calgary Hitmen, with the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina to play the Pats. . . . Here’s how things wound down last night (GR — games remaining). . . .

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Everett Silvertips — Will finish atop the U.S. Division and the conference. One point ahead of Kamloops and Portland. . . . Everett will play Vancouver in the first round. Each team was 2-2-0 in the season series. . . . GR (0).
  2. Kamloops Blazers — Won B.C. Division. . . . Also finished with one more victory than Portland, 48-47. . . . Will meet Spokane in first round. Series will have a 3-3-1 format with the first three games in Kamloops and next three in Spokane. . . . Kamloops won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . GR (0).
  3. Portland Winterhawks — One point behind Everett, tied with Kamloops. As third seed draws Prince George in first round. Portland swept the season series, 4-0-0. . . . GR (0).
  4. Seattle Thunderbirds — Finished fourth so have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . Seattle finished 3-1-0 in the season series; Kelowna was 1-2-1. . . . GR (0).
  5. Kelowna Rockets — Finish fifth and draw Seattle in first round. . . . GR (0).
  6. Prince George Cougars — Placed sixth through tiebreaking process. . . . Will be riding the bus to Portland to open there on Friday. . . . GR (0).
  7. Spokane Chiefs — Slipped into seventh by sweeping weekend series in Victoria. . . . Gets Kamloops in the first round. . . . GR (0).
  8. Vancouver Giants — Wound up eighth through the tiebreaking procedure. . . . Will open against Everett. . . . GR (0).
  9. Victoria Royals — Not this season.
  10. Tri-City Americans — Not this season either.

——

EASTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Winnipeg Ice — Wins the East Division, Eastern Conference and WHL regular-season pennants. . . . Will meet Prince Albert in first round. Winnipeg was 5-1-2 in the season series; Prince Albert was 3-4-1. . . . GR (0).
  2. Edmonton Oil Kings — Finished second and open against Lethbridge. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . GR (0).
  3. Red Deer Rebels — Wound up third and meet Brandon in the first round. . . . Each team was 2-2-0 in the season series. . . . GR (0).
  4. Moose Jaw Warriors — Ended up fourth and have home-ice advantage in first-round series with Saskatoon. . . . GR (1): at Regina today.
  5. Saskatoon Blades — Will finish fifth and meet Moose Jaw in first round. . . . Saskatoon won the season series, 6-2-0; Moose Jaw was 2-5-1. . . . GR (0).
  6. Brandon Wheat Kings — Will finish sixth and meet Red Deer in the first round. . . . GR (0).
  7. Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Calgary today.
  8. Prince Albert — Woke up in 11th spot on Friday and clinched the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with a victory in Swift Current on Friday and another over visiting Brandon last night. Will meet the Winnipeg Ice in the first round. . . . GR (0).
  9. Swift Current Broncos — Will finish ninth and out of the playoffs. . . . GR (0).
  10. Calgary Hitmen — No playoffs here either. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge today.
  11. Regina Pats — In 11th spot after losing 6-4 to the Winnipeg Ice last night. The Ice were the home team for Friday and Saturday games in Regina and swept the Pats. . . . GR (1): at home to Moose Jaw today.
  12. Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.

Stars


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

F Keaton Sorensen and F Evan Herman each scored twice to help the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The victory allowed the Raiders to grab the conference’s last playoff spot. They’ll be in Winnipeg to play the Ice in a first-round opener on Friday. . . . The Raiders go into the playoffs as defending champions. They won it all in 2018-19; the pandemic took care of playoffs the past two seasons. . . . Herman, who has 28 goals, scored the game’s first two goals. . . . Sorensen has 12 goals. . . .

In Regina, the Pats’ playoff hopes ended with a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice played in Regina as the home team on Friday and Saturday nights in games moved from Winnipeg because of a Prairie blizzard that had hit the area. The Ice, with the WHL’s best record this regular season, won both games. . . . The Pats never led in this one, but got to within one, at 5-4, when F Easton Armstrong (6) scored at 8:22 of the third period. . . . Ice F Matt Savoie (35) got the empty-netter at 19:22. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots to earn the victory. He finished this season 34-3-1, 2.00, .914. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists. He has 95 points, including 49 goals, in 62 games. . . . Announced attendance was 1,481. . . .

In Red Deer, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Rebels. . . . F Jake Neighbours (17) gave the visitors a 3-0 lead at 7:53 of the second period. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, who will win the WHL scoring title, got the Rebels to within a goal at 3-2 at 11:56 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Bains, who also had an assist, unofficially leads the WHL in assists (69) and points (112). . . . The teams combined to take 22 minor penalties. Edmonton was 1-for-9 on the PP; Red Deer was 1-for-8. . . . Rogan Dean, the Oil Kings’ equipment manager, worked his 1,000th game with them.

——

Western Conference:

G Mason Beaupit stopped 35 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-2 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The outcome clinched a playoff spot for the Chiefs and eliminated the Royals. . . . Tied 1-1, the Chiefs scored two goals in the second half of the first period to take control. . . . The winners got a goal and an assist from each of F Ty Cheveldayoff (10) and F Cade Hayes (9). . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and went on to beat the Everett Silvertips, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Sasha Mutala, who played 266 games over five-plus seasons with the Americans, scored the game’s last goal and also had two assists. He finished with 19 goals. . . . Everett wins the U.S. Division and Western Conference pennants, with 100 points, but have fewer victories than the Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks, both of whom finished with 99 points. While Everett won 45 games, Kamloops got to 48 and Portland 47. However, Everett ended up with 10 loser points; Portland got five and Kamloops three. . . .

F Andrew Cristall scored twice and added an assist to lead the host Kelowna Rockets to a 3-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Cristall’s second goal, his 28th of the season, gave the Rockets a 3-0 lead at 14:19 of the third period. . . . F Colton Dach drew three assists. . . . Cristall, who turned 17 on Feb. 5, finished with 69 points in 61 games. He tied the franchise record for most points by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Shane McColgan put up 69 points in 2009-10. . . .

F Logan Stankoven scored his 45th goal and added an assist to help the host Kamloops Blazers to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Stankoven finished with 104 points in 59 games as he led the league in points-per-game, at 1.76.


The Saskatoon Blades honoured former general manager/head coach Lorne Molleken prior to and during their 2-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night. . . . I only hope the music man played ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man at least once in Lorne’s honour.

Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was on hand and he posted this piece right here.


Brad Meier, a former WHL referee, worked his final game as an NHL referee on Saturday night. . . . Cory Wolfe is a former sports writer at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, which is in Meier’s hometown. . . .


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Branden Crowe, the radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings for six seasons, called his final game last night. He is moving on to work for Hockey Canada. He also has been the Wheat Kings’ director of strategic marketing and social sales. According to a news release: “An interim play-by-play voice for the upcoming playoffs will be named in the coming days Long-time colour commentator Pete Gerlinger will remain on the broadcast team.” The Wheat Kings are scheduled to open a first-round playoff series against the Rebels in Red Deer on Friday.


Begun


If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation here, primarily because my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation 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

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.


Locks

It’s Green Shirt Day as we promote organ donation and remember the Humboldt Broncos . . .


The boys played a hockey game last night. Yes, they shook off the rust and away they went.

They did pretty well, too, getting 37 saves from goaltender Parker Tobin in posting an 8-0 victory before a world-wide audience.

Tobin was making his first appearance with his new team, having been acquired from the junior A Humboldt Broncos in exchange for defenceman Xavier Labelle earlier in the day.

“We were fortunate we got a great performance from Tobin and our top scorers scored,” said general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan.

The boys were led by the line of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Schatz and Evan Thomas, who combined for 12 points, including six goals.

There was a scary moment early in the second period when Schatz appeared to catch an edge as he cut behind Tobin’s net. Schatz crumpled to the ice and for a moment it looked as though he had suffered a knee injury. Athletic therapist Dayna Brons, the only girl on the boys team, was quick to the scene. She helped Schatz to the dressing room and was able to get him back to the bench before too much time had elapsed.

“She’s got magic fingers and she’s great with tape,” said Schatz, who also is the team captain. “If there’s an MVP on this team, she’s it. I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Haugan was thrilled when Schatz returned to the bench and Brons signalled that the captain was OK to go.

“That allowed us to keep our lines intact and to execute our game plan to a T,” Haugan said. “We wanted our power play to obviously be big. We didn’t expect it to be that big so we’re very fortunate. You need your top guys to be your best guys and they were.”

The boys counted five times on eight power-play opportunities and that really was huge.

Joseph finished with three goals and an assist, with Schatz chipping in two of each, and Thomas putting up a goal and three helpers.

Defenceman Adam Herold, the youngest player on the team, and forward Conner Lukan also scored. Lukan was skating alongside Jacob Leicht and Logan Hunter, and that threesome easily could have had four or five more goals. Hunter recorded two assists, with Leicht getting one. Defenceman Stephen Wack also had one assist.

As for the opposition, Haugan said, they “stepped up all night, they were relentless. Obviously our guys did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and didn’t allow them to penetrate to the middle of the ice. We did get a couple of breaks so we did get lucky but all-in-all to escape with a 1-0 lead after one, we’ll gladly take it.”

Defenceman Logan Boulet showed a lot of heart and leadership in earning six assists for the boys.

“I felt great out there,” Boulet said. “I was using a Brad McCrimmon model stick and, man, I really was able to throw some great saucer passes out there. And I don’t know that the stick had anything to do with it, but I never wanted to leave the ice.”

Haugan added: “(Boulet) was a beast out there.”

Ahh, yes, the sticks.

Haugan said one of the toughest tasks he and assistant coach Mark Cross faced was getting the players to pick out the sticks they wanted to use.

“I have never seen or heard of a team having such a wide selection to choose from,” Haugan said. “There were sticks everywhere. We may have to build some kind of stick warehouse to house them all.”

After the game, the boys admitted to being quite excited about having been able to replace one of their travelling staples.

“One of the boys picked up a copy of Slap Shot,” Haugan said. “He got it from somewhere in Portland, I think. You can’t be on the road without Reggie Dunlop and Slap Shot, but our original DVD got broken somehow and, let me tell you, there were some broken hearts when that happened.

“But all’s well that ends well.”

It’s worth pointing out that the boys led 1-0 after the first period, which was played in Chicago Stadium. They were up 4-0 after the second, which was played in Maple Leaf Gardens. The teams played the final period in the Montreal Forum. The travel arrangements were all under the control of Glen Doerksen, the team’s travelling secretary.

So . . . what’s next for the boys?

Well, Haugan said, the coaches are well aware that focusing on one sport isn’t the way to go.

“The guys are talking about wanting to play some baseball,” Haugan said. “Apparently, some guy in Iowa built a ball diamond in a cornfield. So I think we’re wanting to give that a try.

“But we’ll have to scrounge some bats, balls and gloves first.”

JUST NOTES: There was a third man behind the bench with Haugan and Cross, and Haugan later revealed that he has added Brock Hirsche to his coaching staff. Hirsche played in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars, then returned to his hometown to play with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . .

Also joining the boys is Jonathan Pitre, who is incredibly popular with the media and will handle public and media relations. . . .

Tyler Bieber, an up-and-coming play-by-play voice, called last night’s game on 107.5 FM (aka The Prayer), with sports fanatic Brody Hinz handling the analysis and statistics, including zone entries and Corsi. . . .

(Christopher Lee of the Humboldt Journal may recognize some of the quotes here. Thanks for loaning them to me.)


The OHL dropped the hammer on the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday, a month after some members of the organization were alleged to have used improper OHLlanguage in a group chat on WhatsApp, a transcript of which was given to the league. Joey Burke, one of the team’s minority owner and the governor, and Billy Burke, the head coach and a minority owner, have been suspended indefinitely. The IceDogs also have been fined $150,000. . . . From an OHL news release: “Based on the results of the league investigation, it is the position of the league that their conduct is prejudicial to the welfare of the OHL as it violates the league’s Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program, which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words.” . . . According to terms of the disciplinary action, both are able to apply for reinstatement on June 1, 2024. “At that time,” reads the news release, “the Commissioner will assess whether they have successfully completed counselling and education to ensure that there will be no additional violations of League rules, policies, or expected conduct.” . . . Rick Westhead of TSN later tweeted: “IceDogs co-owner Bill Burke, Joey and Billy’s father, told The Welland Tribune that ‘today a very sad day for the Burke family. We will have more to say in the coming days. We would . . . like to thank everyone that has reached out today with their overwhelming love and support.”


Meanwhile, the AHL has suspended F Ben Holmstrom of the Rochester Americans for eight games for using “homophobic language” during a game against the visiting Utica Comets on March 30. He was ejected at the end of the first period. . . . “As part of the suspension,” the AHL said in a statement, “Holmstrom will be participating in diversity and inclusion education.”


Now let’s hop on over to Quebec for this from Guy Quenneville of CBC News . . .

“More Black minor hockey players in western Quebec are coming forward with allegations of racial slurs less than a week after another Black player spoke out.

“On Monday, Hockey Outaouais and the team L’Intrépide de Gatineau confirmed in a statement they have launched an investigation after two of the team’s players said they were subjected to racist remarks. 

“One of those players, Anthony Allain-Samaké, told Radio-Canada the bullying led him to quit the team.”

His mother, Julie Allain, speaking French, told Quenneville: “Being called the N-word was still quite common for several players. I told him it is totally unacceptable.”

Quenneville’s story is right here.


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

In Spokane, F Nick McCarry struck 10 seconds into OT was the Chiefs beat the SpokaneEverett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . McCarry, who has 22 goals, has seven points, five of them goals, over his past four games. . . . Olen Zellweger, the  WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, scored his 14th goal and added an assist. He has 76 points in 53 games. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 32 shots, 18 of them in the second period, for Spokane. . . . Announced attendance was 7,252, an awfully impressive number for a midweek game. . . . The Chiefs’ victory eliminated the idle Tri-City Americans from the chase for a playoff spot. . . . Spokane (23-37-5), with three games remaining, is sixth, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals, and two up on the Prince George Cougars. . . . Everett (44-10-10) leads the conference by four points over the Kamloops Blazers. Each team has four games remaining. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the KelownaCougars, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . The Rockets, who won 1-0 in OT there on Tuesday, have won six straight in Prince George. . . . F Colton Dach scored once, his 26th, and added two assists. . . . F Pavel Novak (28) broke a 1-1 tie at 18:52 of the first period and the visitors put it away with two third-period goals. . . . Kelowna (39-19-6) now is two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds with each team having four games to play. . . . The Cougars are ninth, one point from a playoff spot.

Eastern Conference:

The host Lethbridge Hurricanes struck for six goals in the third period as they Lethbridgedropped the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1. . . . The game’s seven goals all came in the third period. . . . D Joe Arntsen scored twice, giving him seven, and added an assist, with F Justin Hall and F Alex Thacker each adding three assists. . . . F Jordan Keller scored his first WHL goal in his eighth game for the Blades. Keller, who turned 17 on March 8, is the son of Aaron Keller, who played four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers before going on to play 17 seasons in Japan. Aaron now helps out the Blazers as a development coach. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots in his first opportunity to break the WHL career record for victories. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings and five ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (36-26-4) remains fifth, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and five ahead of Brandon.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs and Rick Swan, their general manager and head coach, “have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately,” the team announced Wednesday. Swan had been with the organization for 10 years, the last nine as GM and head coach. This season, the Pontiacs went 36-16-8, good for third in the North Division, then lost a six-game first-round series to the Whitecourt Wolverines.



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.


Scattershooting on a Sunday while hoping someone can help out a Gretzky fan . . .

scattershooting


A Facebook post from Aron Gratias, an avid hockey fan . . .

Family and friends, I need your help!!

Anyone who knows me has probably seen my passion for The Great One.

It pains me to have to write this, and very emotional to think about, a 40+ year passion, my Gretzky Collection, stolen and what’s even worse, is the majority of items were personally signed to me, for me, along with autographed pictures of my face and my families faces in them.

We had recently moved and were storing some of our household and garage items in storage containers near Shellbrook. Someone entered the yard and proceeded to cut the locks off ONE of TWO containers and selectively removed the Gretzky collection from the storage container, leaving some expensive household and garage items. Not to mention a whole other container was untouched. Very interesting!! Small group who knew!!!

19 Gretzky jerseys, autographed, every team since he was 12, large pictures, like 4’x4’, large painting, like 5’x5’, all autographed and serial numbered, autographed sticks, autographed pucks all in display cases, boxes of cards, close to 10,000, 2,200 of Gretzky alone, some autographed, and one framed Gretzky Rookie Card PSA 8, 1979 Mattel dolls still in boxes, figurines, signed family photos, plates, helmets, masks, skates, just to name a few.

Some autographed Crosby stuff, rookie card, jersey, Sakic and Thornton signed jerseys, pile of Team Canada autographed pictures, men’s and women’s, jerseys and cards. I am in some of the autographed frames pictures as well as my family so those will be hard to sell.

I have reported to the RCMP and they were out today to start the investigation. Someone will be trying to push a massive Gretzky collection so please notify the RCMP if you hear anything. If you notify me, I’m coming equipped with a lot of passion!!!

This collection was worth way more then just money to me, it was priceless and a true passion, it was never meant to be sold, it was meant to be passed down to generations and future generations and I feel bad for my children, it was theirs.

Please, please keep an eye out and pass pass this on!!

Thank you!


Onearm


By now, I’m sure you’re tired of reading and/or hearing about the Will Smith-Chris Rock confrontation during the Academy Awards show. But even if you’ve had your fill, if you haven’t read the piece written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you might want to take a few minutes out of your day and give it a glance. It’s the best piece I’ve seen on the subject and it’s right here.


Headline at The Beaverton: NHL refs an inspiration to millions who would love to get paid for not doing their job.


It’s true. The Detroit Red Wings have fired Al Sobotka, their longtime Zamboni driver.

Sobotka, 68, had been part of the organization for 51 years, most recently as operations manager at Little Caesars Arena.

There long has been a tradition of fans tossing octopi onto the ice during playoff games — when the Red Wings are good enough to qualify, of course. Sobotka would venture onto the ice to clean them up and invariably would twirl one over his head and incite the crowd.

While a reason for the dismissal hasn’t been made public, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times writes: “We’re guessing thin ice.”


Kids


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, at his curmudgeonly best as he looks at March Madness:

“I have another observation about the TV coverage of the tournament this year. We are now ‘treated’ to two in-game interviews with the head coaches during scheduled timeouts. These seemingly have replaced the ceremoniously stupid in-game interviews in the stands with players’ parents and/or coaches’ wives and/or the next-door neighbor of the assistant coach’s tax accountant. For that reason, I guess I should be appreciative and thankful, but I have a serious reservation here. . . .

“There is one – and only one – appropriate question for the sideline reporter to ask the coach in these circumstances: ‘Coach, what is it you would be telling your team in the huddle if you were not contractually obligated to be here talking to me?’ . . . That is all viewers would want to know — and it would let people know the forced nature of the oral exchange they were about to watch.”

Don’t every change, Jack. Don’t ever change!

If you haven’t already made The Sports Curmudgeon part of your day, you are able to so right here.


THINKING OUT LOUD: I’m sorry, but I giggle whenever I see that Chevrolet Silverado commercial starring a cat named Walter. Those commercials were shot on a 100,000-acre ranch in Utah using nine look-a-like cats. And it’s reported that the cats were so easy to work with that little in the way of CGI was needed. . . . It’s Canada vs. Belgium on Nov. 23 in Qatar. Game time will be 11 a.m. PT. Plan accordingly. . . . And how huge will the TV audience be in the Excited States when their men meet England at 11 a.m. PT, on Black Friday? It’ll be a holiday down there so there could a whole lot of TV viewers. Of course, it’ll be football competing with football on the telly that day, won’t it? . . . I really need someone to explain how this NHL-on-TV thing works. Watching the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Second intermission arrives. Check the on-screen guide. The Edmonton Oilers are visiting the Anaheim Ducks. Go to check the score. Whoops! Blacked out. But the Philadelphia Flyers are up against the Rangers in New York and I can watch them. All three games were on Sportsnet channels. What I don’t understand is why I can’t watch the Canadian team in my part of Canada.


Moms


SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

The Kamloops Blazers erased a 3-1 first-period deficit and beat the Cougars, 4-Kamloops3 in OT, in Prince George. . . . D Daylan Kuefler scored the winner, his 38th goal of the season, on a PP at 0:56. . . . F Jonny Hooker (15) gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead on a PP at 17:08 of the first period. . . . Kamloops tied it on second-period goals from D Ethan Brandwood (6), at 2:39, and F Reese Belton (12), at 6:46. . . . F Logan Stankoven scored his 42nd goal and added an assist for Kamloops. With 96 points in 55 games, he continues to lead the WHL in points-per-game, at 1.75. . . . The Blazers have completed their road schedule, finishing 24-10-0. . . . Kamloops (46-16-2) is second, three points behind Everett and three in front of Portland. . . . Prince George (22-37-4) is ninth, one point behind Spokane and two in arrears of Vancouver and Victoria. . . .

F Nick McCarry scored twice to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the SpokaneVancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Chiefs had won 5-2 in Langley on Saturday night. . . . McCarry has 21 goals this season, including four in a three-game scoring streak as the Chiefs won once in Kamloops and twice in Langley. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 30 shots for Spokane. . . . Spokane (22-37-5) is in possession of the conference’s last playoff spot and is just one point behind Vancouver (23-35-4) and Victoria.

——

Eastern Conference:

In Edmonton, the Red Deer Rebels scored the game’s last two goals as they beat RedDeerthe Oil Kings, 5-4, in OT. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe’s PP goal at 18:04 of the third period put his guys ahead, 4-3. . . . F Arshdeep Bains pulled the Rebels even with 9.2 seconds left in the third period. It was his 38th goal and WHL-leading 101st point of the season. He finished with a goal and two assists. . . . F Jhett Larson’s 11th goal of the season won it at 2:10 of extra time. . . . Red Deer F Ben King picked up his WHL-leading 48th goal of the season. . . . It was a weekend sweep for the Rebels, who had beaten the visiting Oil Kings, 4-3, on Saturday night. . . . Edmonton has lost three straight game for the firs time since Nov. 11-17, 2019. . . . Red Deer (43-17-4) is third, six points behind Edmonton (46-14-4), which has four games remaining and is seven points behind Winnipeg. . . .

The Calgary Hitmen held a 48-31 edge in shots as they beat the visiting Swift CalgaryCurrent Broncos, 5-2. . . . Calgary jumped into a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by F Steel Quiring (12) and D Tyson Galloway (5), but F Josh Filmon (23) got the Broncos close at 14:49. . . . The Hitmen put it away on goals from F Zac Funk (19) at 8:58 of the second period and D Grayden Siepmann (9) at 5:30 of the third. . . . G Brayden Peters earned the victory with 29 saves, 14 fewer than Isaac Poulter of the Broncos. . . . Calgary (25-31-8) is ninth, one point behind Swift Current (26-33-7), which is three points behind Lethbridge. Prince Albert is one points behind Calgary.



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.


Towels

Wiesblatt’s season over . . . Warriors snap Ice’s hot streak . . . Dureau fills hat for Winterhawks


The Prince Albert Raiders have had to shut down F Ozzy Wiesblatt for the remainder of this season due to an undisclosed injury. The Raiders revealed on Saturday that the decision was reached during “consultation” between their medical staff and doctors with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Wiesblatt was selected by the Sharks in the first round of the 2020 NHL draft. He finishes this season with 41 points, including 10 goals, in 43 games. . . . According to the Raiders, “Wiesblatt will head to San Jose for further evaluation to determine the appropriate next steps in his recovery.”


Philip Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer, returned to the WHL team on Friday after being sidelined thanks to a positive COVID-19 test. “Was great being back in the rink for game day,” Varney tweeted. “Covid finally got me. Wasn’t pleasant but wasn’t awful. Very grateful for vaccines, N95s, at home rapid testing and HEPA air purifiers.” . . . At one point in mid-January, Varney had been involved with more than 20 members of the Thunderbirds’ organization, including players and staff, who had tested positive.


Bananas

A tip of the fedora to the Saskatoon Blades, who were back to ‘normal’ on Saturday after a stint as the Saskatoon Bananas. If you missed it, the Blades did up an April Fool’s Day gimmick the way it’s supposed to be done. The franchise rebranded in the morning as the Bananas and went the distance with the promotion, with signage, new uniforms with the new logo, and a whole lot more. Well done! . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling’ blogger, was in attendance and has more on the Bananas right here.


Discus


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

The Red Deer Rebels erased a 3-2 third-period deficit and beat the visiting RedDeerEdmonton Oil Kings, 4-3. . . . F Justin Sourdif (22) scored shorthanded at 16:26 of the second period to give Edmonton that 3-2 lead. . . . F Kai Uchacz (13) pulled Red Deer event with a shorthanded score at 2:58 of the third and F Arshdeep Bains (37) got the winner at 12:24. . . . Edmonton was 1-for-7 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-for-5. . . . Red Deer got 32 saves from G Chase Coward as he won his 20th game. . . . The Rebels have two 20-game winners for the first time in franchise history. Coward is 20-9-2, 2.41, .909; Connor Ungar is 20-8-1, 2.28, .912. . . . The Rebels (42-17-4) are headed for a third-place finish. . . . The Oil Kings (46-14-3) have five games remaining and are eight points behind the conference-leading Winnipeg Ice. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored the game’s last two goals and hung on for a 2-Brandon1 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . F Josh Pillar (13) gave the Blades the lead at 4:25 of the first period, only to have F Landon Roberts tie it at 10:29. . . . Brandon got the eventual winner from F Nate Danielson (21), on a PP, at 2:46 of the second period. . . . The Blades were 0-for-4 on the PP with all four opportunities coming in the game’s final 3:51. . . . The Wheat Kings (32-25-5) are sixth. With six games remaining, they are five points behind the Blades (35-25-4), who have four left to play. Saskatoon is three points behind Moose Jaw. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice in the last 30 seconds of the third period MooseJawto beat the visiting Winnipeg Ice, 3-1. . . . D Cole Jordan (2) gave Moose Jaw a lead at 14:30 of the first period. . . . Winnipeg D Tanner Brown (6) tied it at 13:43 of the second. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (11) snapped the tie at 19:38 of the third, with F Cordel Larson (10) adding insurance at 19:53. . . . G Jackson Unger stopped 37 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Warriors (36-23-5) are fourth, three points ahead of Saskatoon. . . . The Ice (49-10-5), which had won 13 straight, is headed for a first-place finish in the conference. . . .

F Justin Hall had a goal and two assists to help the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a Lethbridge6-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Hall has 34 goals this season. . . . Lethbridge was 3-for-3 on the PP. . . . The Hurricanes swept the season series, going 8-0-0. . . . G Bryan Thomson stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, losing his shutout bid at 19:58 of the third period when F Ashton Ferster scored his ninth goal of the season. . . . The Tigers honoured Bob Ridley, their long-time play-by-play man, in a pre-game ceremony that included the raising of a banner with his name on it being raised into the rafters. His name joins former players Lanny McDonald and Tom Lysiak up there. Health issues have kept Ridley out of the broadcast booth this season. He is expected to return to the booth for the  Tigers’ final home game, on April 15. . . . Lethbridge (29-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind Brandon and three ahead of Swift Current. . . . The Tigers (11-48-4) have lost seven in a row. . . .

PrinceAlbertD Nolan Allan scored once and added three assists to lead the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Allan has seven goals this season. . . . The Raiders also got a goal and two assists from each of F Reece Vitelli (25) and F Evan Herman (23). . . . F Connor Bedard scored his first WHL shorthanded goal. It also was his 45th score of the season, tying the franchise record for most goals by a 16-year-old. He shares the mark with F Jeff Friesen (1992-93). . . . The announced attendance was 3,040, the Raiders’ largest crowd this season. That topped the 2,962 figure for a visit by the Pats on Feb. 18. . . . Prince Albert (26-33-5) is two points out of a playoff spot. The Raiders have four games remaining, one more than eight-place Swift Current (26-32-7). . . . Regina (24-33-5) is six points from a playoff spot with six games remaining.

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Western Conference:

F Jackson Berezowski broke a 1-1 tie at 17:30 of the second period and the EverettEverett Silvertips went on to a 2-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Berezowski’s 45th goal came via the PP. . . . The Silvertips got 25 saves from G Braden Holt. . . . Everett (44-10-9) leads the conference by five points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (18-41-5) has four games remaining and is six points out of a playoff spot. . . .

The host Portland Winterhawks blew a 4-0 lead and then came back to defeat Portlandthe Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-4. . . . F Jaydon Dureau, who has 21 goals, scored once in each period for the winners. His third goal, on a PP, broke a 4-4 tie at 12:51 of the third period. . . . Dureau’s last goal came just 1:19 after F Henrik Rybinski (20) had pulled Seattle even on a PP. . . . Portland was handed 15 of the game’s 27 minor penalties. . . . Seattle was 2-for-7 on the PP; Portland was 1-for-4. . . . Portland (43-16-5) is third, one point behind Kamloops and six behind Everett. . . . Seattle (40-18-6) now is five behind Portland. . . .

G Jari Kykkanen recorded his first WHL shutout as the host Kelowna Rockets Kelownabeat the Victoria Royals, 5-0. . . . Kykkanen stopped 15 shots. . . . The Rockets held a 38-15 edge in shots. . . . A 17-year-old freshman from  Lloydminster, Alta., Kykkanen is 6-2-0, 3.12, .889 this season. . . . F Colton Dach’s 25th goal, on a PP, at 4:08 of the first period stood up as the winner. . . . Kelowna (37-19-6) is fifth, six points behind Seattle with six games left to play and two in hand on the Thunderbirds. . . . Victoria (22-36-6) is tied for sixth with Vancouver. . . .

In Langley, B.C., the Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last five goals and beat Spokanethe Vancouver Giants, 5-2. . . . F Jaden Lipinski, who has eight goals, scored twice in the first period to put Vancouver out front. . . . F Chase Bertholet (22) and F Ty Cheveldayoff (9), with the first of two, got the Chiefs even in the second period. . . . F Nick McCarry (19) broke the 2-2 tie at 4:03 of the third period. . . .  Spokane (21-37-5) now is tied with Prince George for eighth, which is the conference’s last playoff spot. . . . Vancouver (23-34-4) is tied for sixth with Victoria, three points ahead of Prince George and Spokane.


Bartender


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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Beer

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