Hey, CFL, what are you thinking? . . . Milic, Myatovic push Thunderbirds to Game 5 victory . . . Blazers, Giants ready for Game 6

I am hardly privy to what has been going on behind closed doors in the negotiations between the CFL and the CFLPA but, sheesh, gentlemen, read the room. Do you really think your fan base is so solid that you can play these kinds of off-season games? . . . Oh, and let’s not forget that you had all winter to get this done, didn’t you?


There remain six teams alive in the WHL playoffs with the Seattle Thunderbirds WHLplayoffs2022having stayed alive with a 3-1 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. . . . Portland leads the Western Conference semifinal, 3-2, with Game 6 scheduled for Kent, Wash. on Monday night. . . . The visiting team has won four of the five games in this series, including the last three. In fact, Portland is 2-0 in Kent, having won Games 1 and 4 there. . . .

Meanwhile, in the other Western Conference semifinal, the Vancouver Giants will be hoping to fight off elimination for a second time today as they play host to the Kamloops Blazers in Langley, B.C. . . . The No. 2 Blazers hold a 3-2 lead in the series, but the No. 8 Giants are coming off a 5-2 victory in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Vancouver may be without D Alex Cotton, a Langley native who was an early-season acquisition from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Cotton, besides eating up a whole lot of minutes, runs the first PP unit. He took a hit from Kamloops F Drew Englot late in the first period on Friday. Cotton, a fifth-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2020 draft, played a bit early in the second period and then retired for the night. . . . Cotton, who turned 21 on Thursday, has six goals and 10 assists in these playoffs. . . . The Giants already are without D Mazden Leslie, who was injured in Game 1. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported on Saturday that “Brenden Pentecost, 19, who split the season between the Giants and the B.C. Hockey League’s Coquitlam Express, is the most likely candidate to be added to the lineup if Cotton has to sit out.” . . . If the Giants are able to live to play again, Game 7 would be in Kamloops on Tuesday night.

——

SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Portland, F Nico Myatovic broke a 1-1 tie at 2:02 of the third period and the SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds went on to a 3-1 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Portland leads the conference semifinal, 3-2, with Game 6 in Kent, Wash., on Monday night. . . . Myatovic, 17, is from Prince George. He was a sixth-round pick by Seattle in the WHL’s 2019 draft. He had four goals and 24 assists in 67 regular-season games, and now has one goal and two assists in 10 playoff games. . . . F Henrik Rybinski (3) put the visitors out front at 12:46 of the first period. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (2) got Portland even at 19:15 of the second period. . . . Myatovic (1) broke the tie at 2:02 of the third period, with F Reid Schaefer (3) getting the empty-netter at 19:52. . . . Seattle was 0-for-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-for-3. . . . G Thomas Milic, selected the game’s first start, blocked 32 shots for Seattle. . . . Portland got 34 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Portland F Tyson Kozak, who had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 5-1 victory, was among the scratches. He’s out with an undisclosed injury believed to have been incurred in the third period on Friday.


Phone


So . . . there’s someone out there somewhere who earlier this week opened a Twitter account and called it NFL Schedule Leaks. In advance of the actual schedule being released on Thursday, this person made up a bunch of games and “leaked” them on the Twitter account. Inside of three days, the account had more than 10,000 followers. . . . “Guess who just got 10k followers by literally making up a bunch of NFL games because I was bored and faking out almost the entire football twitter landscape? This guy right here,” he tweeted on Thursday, then adding: “No wonder half this country thinks the election was rigged. Good (bleeping) lord.” . . . Just more proof that this is a great time to be alive.


The Penticton Vees won Games 1 and 2 of the BCHL final, beating the Nanaimo Clippers twice at home — 4-1 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday. The announced attendances: 4,459 on Friday, 3,906 on Saturday. . . . The series is to resume Tuesday and Wednesday in Nanaimo.


Children


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.


Crows

Ostapchuk sparks Giants in first-round WHL stunner . . . SJHL has new commissioner . . . Allan, Dach off to AHL

You are free to wonder about the chances of the Lucius brothers both playing in the WHL next season, Chad with the Portland Winterhawks and Cruz with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . After completing his freshman season at the U of Minnesota with nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games, Chad signed with the Winnipeg Jets on April 27. He was the 18th overall selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. That came three years after the Winterhawks selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Chad, who turned 19 on Monday, is eligible to play next season in the NHL, with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, or in Portland. . . . Cruz, 18, had committed to playing at Minnesota starting in 2022-23; however, he de-committed on Monday and now is exploring his options. The Thunderbirds selected him in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. Cruz is coming off two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Chad spent two seasons there, too, before going to Minnesota.


Kyle McIntyre is the new commissioner of the 12-team SJHL. He takes over SJHLfrom Bill Chow, who resigned after spending 11 years in the position. . . . From an SJHL news release: “McIntyre, a Saskatoon product, played U18 hockey with his hometown Contacts and Blazers before playing four seasons in the SJHL with Swift Current and Yorkton. He also served recently on the board of directors for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and Saskatchewan High School Athletics and was heavily involved in both minor hockey and minor baseball in Swift Current.

“McIntyre holds a Master of Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan and recently retired after a 30-year career in education including the past 20 years in a senior leadership position. McIntyre will assume the role fully on June 1.”


Dumbass


And then there were eight. . . . The first round of the WHL playoffs concluded on WHLplayoffs2022Monday night as the host Vancouver Giants eliminated the Everett Silvertips. . . . So now it’s on to the second round, which will open on Thursday with the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visiting the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings. The other Eastern Conference series is to being on Friday with the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors in Winnipeg to meet the No. 1 Ice. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 8 Giants will be in Kamloops to face the No. 2 Blazers on Friday, while the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds will open at home in Kent, Wash., to the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. Due to building availability in Portland — the arena is booked for high school graduation ceremonies — the Portland-Seattle series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1-1 format. . . . Meanwhile, here’s a look at what happened last night in Langley, B.C. . . .

——

MONDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants scored three first-period goals, each one from a defenceman, as they completed one of the biggest playoff upsets in WHL Vancouverhistory with a 6-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The No. 8 Giants, who finished 47 points behind the No. 1 Silvertips, won the series, 4-2. . . . How large was this upset? Prior to the game, Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Since the junior league went to a 16-team post-season split between two conferences in 2002, a No. 8 seed has never beaten a No. 1 in the first round of the playoffs, according to the league office.” . . . D Connor Horning (2) gave the Giants 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:15, with D Alex Cotton (4) upping it to 2-0 at 3:15, and D Mazden Leslie (2) making it 3-0 at 11:43. . . . After Horning’s goal, the Giants’ PP was 13-31 (41.9) in the playoffs. In the regular season, it operated at 17.7, good for 18th in the 22-team league. . . . F Ben Hemmerling (1) got Everett to within two goals at 12:40 of the second, only to have F Zack Ostapchuk (3), who assisted on each of the first two goals, get that one back at 17:51. . . . F Ryan Hofer’s sixth goal of the series, on a PP, at 10:00 of the third period cut the Everett deficit to two. . . . Vancouver restored its three-goal lead when D Damian Palmieri (1) scored at 15:32. . . . F Adam Hall’s seventh goal in six games, at 16:52, upped the lead to 6-2. . . . Everett D Jonny Lambos (1) closed out the scoring at 18:35. . . . Ostapchuk finished with a goal and four assists, giving him a WHL-leading 16 points, including 13 assists, in the series. . . . F Fabian Lysell added four assists. He totalled 15 points in the series. . . . The Silvertips were without three of their five leading scorers. Already without 46-goal F Jackson Berezowski (season-ending surgery), they lost F Niko Huuhtanen to an apparent leg injury in Game 5 on Saturday. He didn’t play last night and neither did F Michal Gut. Those three combined for 101 goals and 126 assists in the regular season.


Marty Hastings covers the Kamloops Blazers for Kamloops This Week.


PhoneBooth


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: D Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders has joined the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Allan, 19, has signed with the Blackhawks, who selected him 32nd overall in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Colton Dach of the Kelowna Rockets also has joined the IceHogs. Dach, 19, was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2021 draft and signed an NHL contract on Oct. 1. . . . Rockford opens a best-of-three first-round series against the visiting Texas Stars on Wednesday. . . .

Nick Oliver is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. He had been an assistant coach with the St. Cloud State Huskies since 2018, after working as assistant coach/director of scouting with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede for three seasons (2015-18). He also spent two seasons (2009-11) playing with the Force. He replaces Scott Langer, who spent one season as head coach. The Force was 28-28-4 and lost out in the first round of the playoffs. Langer remains the winningest regular-season coach in NAHL history, thanks to a five-season run with the Aberdeen, S.D., Wings.


Oz


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.


Brunch

Englot in Blazers’ lineup after penalty changed. . . . Kamloops one victory from second round . . . Everett top gun hit with two-game suspension

Nets


F Drew Englot was in the Kamloops Blazers’ starting lineup for Game 3 of their first-round series with the Spokane Chiefs on Monday night. . . . Englot had been assessed a match penalty for attempt to injure late in the Blazers’ 6-2 victory over the visiting Chiefs on Saturday night. The incident occurred during a scrum at 19:28 of the third period and included Englot hitting referee Corey Koop. Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote: “Among the combatants was Blazers’ forward Drew Englot, who struck an official in the head during the rumble.” . . . Englot told Hastings: “Obviously, there was no intention. The guy hit me in the face. My hand just came up to protect myself and came down and hit him in the face. Obviously, it’s an accident, right? You don’t mean to, but stuff happens.” . . . On Monday the WHL turned the match penalty into a game misconduct, a move that allowed Englot to start Game 3 on the right side of Kamloops’ top line, alongside Luke Toporowski and Logan Stankoven. . . . Englot had one assist in the Blazers’ 5-1 victory.


The Everett Silvertips will be without F Alex Swetlikoff, who led them in points this regular season, for Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series with the Vancouver Giants. He has been hit with a two-game suspension for a check from behind on Vancouver F Payton Mount in Game 2 in Everett on Saturday. Swetlikoff was given a double minor on the play. Mount left the game, didn’t return, and wasn’t on the ice with the Giants on Monday. . . . “We’re concerned about Mount,” Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “He took a pretty heavy hit. He got his head slammed into the glass. He’s had some concussion issues. . . . It’s not about him getting back in the series. We’re concerned about his health.” . . . Swetlikoff put up 84 points, including 51 assists, in the regular season. . . . The Silvertips were without F Jackson Berezowski, who led them with 46 goals in the regular season, for Games 1 and 2. He is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . The series is tied 1-1 and will resume with Games 3 and 4 in Langley, B.C., on Wednesday and Friday. Game 6 is set for Everett on Saturday. . . . Ewen sets the stage for Game 3 right here.


Dennis


During the just-completed NBA regular season, only five players got into all 82 of their teams’ games. As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel put it: “In the NBA, they call it ‘load management.’ In other jobs, it’s called ‘not showing up for work.’ ”


MONDAY IN THE WHL:

There was only one playoff game on Monday’s schedule, with the Spokane Chiefs in Kamloops for Game 3 of their first-round series with the Blazers. . . . There are six games on tap tonight, with five of the visiting teams holding 2-0 leads. The exception? The Red Deer Rebels go into Brandon for a game with the Wheat Kings and the series is 1-1. . . . Meanwhile, last night . . .

In Kamloops, F Logan Stankoven had a goal and two assists as the Blazers Kamloopsskated to a 5-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . .  The Blazers lead the series, 3-0, having swept all three games in Kamloops, outscoring the Chiefs, 20-3, in the process. They’ll resume hostilities in Spokane on Friday. The reason for the 3-3-1 format and the time off before Game 4? Sir Paul McCartney is in Spokane for a Thursday night concert so the building has been tied up. . . . With four goals and six assists in the three games, Stankoven has figured in half of the Blazers’ goals. He leads the playoff points derby by two points over linemate Luke Toporowski, who had a goal and an assist last night. . . . F Fraser Minten scored the eventual game-winner, giving Kamloops a 2-0 lead at 18:44 of the first period. He has a goal in each of the three games. . . . The Blazers got 25 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . .  Kamloops was 2-for-6 on the PP; Spokane was 0-for-6. . . . G Cooper Michaluk stopped 34 shots for the Chiefs. G Mason Beaupit, who left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, wasn’t dressed. Manny Panghli, who is from Kamloops, backed up Michaluk.


“Mike Tyson unloaded on an obnoxious airplane passenger who was harassing him, repeatedly punching the guy and bloodying his face,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The man was identified only as ‘George’ — presumably not George Foreman.”


WifeMissing


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.


Fez

Timing not right for one WHL award . . . Oil Kings draw first blood as playoffs begin . . . Wheat Kings borrow Broncos’ radio voice

Having spent more than 40 years paying close attention to the WHL, mostly as a sports reporter at four different daily newspapers and lately in retirement, I WHLlearned a long time ago not to pay a lot of attention to post-season awards.

While they rarely make everyone happy, they almost always end up as a source for discussion among fans. It also seems that there almost always are one or two that seem to carry with them something of a political odour.

The WHL announced a whole bunch of awards and nominations and all-star teams on Thursday, and one of them was a real eyebrow-raiser.

The way things work in the WHL is that the divisional nominees for various awards are named, then at some point the list is shortened to conference nominees. Then, much later, the league award winners are announced.

On Thursday, then, the Prince Albert Raiders were revealed as the East Division nominee for the WHL Business Award. According to a WHL news release, this award goes annually to the organization “that best exemplifies giving back to the community and producing an electrifying game-day experience for fans.”

While I have no doubt that the Raiders meet the criteria — you are able to read about the group’s accomplishments right here — let us not forget that the organization was guilty of a real mis-step during the season.

It was early in the season when the Raiders revealed that they were revisiting their past to introduce an alternate sweater. That sweater would include a logo that harkened back to the early 1980s, one that no longer is seen as being politically correct.

The end result included an apology from Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, who said in a statement: “On Friday night, the Prince Albert Raiders unveiled an alternate third jersey, which was inspired by a highly successful era in club history. We recognize the dated design is insensitive and offensive. After consultation with the Prince Albert Raiders, this uniform and brand will be discontinued effective immediately. On behalf of the WHL and the Prince Albert Raiders, we regret this uniform design was approved and sincerely apologize for any harm it may have caused.”

(You only have to turn to Google and look for “Prince Albert Raiders logo offensive” to see the reaction to the unveiling of the alternate sweater.)

It should also be remembered that early in the 2013-14 season the Raiders had introduced a new mascot that was fashioned after that same logo. It was met with such a response that it was put back in the closet in short order.

Look, you don’t have to dig very deep these days to find incidents involving racism in various levels of hockey, each of them accompanied with comments about how hockey really has to do better if it is ever to rid itself of these occurrences.

While I don’t doubt that the Raiders have done a whole lot of good work that benefited their community, I would suggest this just wasn’t the right time to salute them by giving them the East Division’s WHL Business Award.

——

If you visit the WHL website at whl.ca you will find all of Thursday’s announcements, including conference first- and second-team all-stars and individual award nominees.


Child


There are few things in life that compare to the histrionics hockey coaches go Everettthrough when asked about injuries to any of their players, especially during playoffs. . . . Take the case of Dennis Williams, the general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, who will open their first round tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Everett didn’t have Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, for its last two games, while F Jackson Berezowski, a 46-goal man, sat out the last game. . . . Asked on Wednesday about their status, Williams told Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “You’re just going to have to wait and see on Friday. I won’t be commenting on any injuries.” . . . That came a day after Williams, when asked about Zellweger, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “Olen will be set to play.” . . . The betting here is that Berezowski and Zellweger both are in the lineup.



Flower


THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

In Edmonton, G Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 shots to lead the Oil Kings to a 4-1 Edmontonvictory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings lead the best-of-seven first-round series, 1-0, with Game 2 scheduled for Edmonton on Saturday. . . . Cossa lost his bid for his first playoff shutout when F Tyson Laventure scored, on a PP, at 18:12 of the third period. . . . Cossa has 14 regular-season shutouts in his career. But with the playoffs being cancelled each of the previous two seasons, this was his first post-season appearance. . . . F Carter Souch scored the game’s first goal, at 9:30 of the second period, with F Dylan Guenther upping the lead to 2-0 at 14:47. . . . The Hurricanes got 44 saves from G Bryan Thomson. . . . There are seven playoff games scheduled for tonight, with eight set for Saturday.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: When Brandon opens its first-round playoff series against the host Red Deer Rebels on Friday night, Craig Beauchemin will be the radio voice of the Wheat Kings. Beauchemin, the play-by-play voice of the Swift Current Broncos, will handle all Wheat Kings playoff games after Branden Crowe left to join Hockey Canada. . . .

G Garin Bjorklund and D Dru Krebs, both from the Medicine Hat Tigers, have joined the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Bjorklund, who will turn 20 on May 28, was a sixth-round pick by the Capitals in the NHL’s 2020 draft. Krebs, who turned 19 on Feb. 16, was taken by Washington in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. . . .

D Logan Nijhoff, 20, will finish the season with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. He was the Regina Pats’ captain this season. . . . Earlier in the week, he was named the 2022 Dayna Brons Honorary Award recipient for his work with Hockey Gives Blood. . . . The Pats also saluted Nijhoff with the Mike Kartusch Community Service Award.


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.


Peanuts


JUST NOTES: Vaughn Rody was a WHL linesman back in the day, before going on to work 21 seasons in the NHL. Rody is from Winnipeg and now lives in Lake Stevens, Wash. It was only fitting that the final game of his NHL career should come in Seattle on Wednesday as the Kraken beat the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2. . . .

Tom Renney, who once coached with the Kamloops Blazers, is retiring from Hockey Canada, effective July 1, after eight years as the CEO. Sean Smith, already Hockey Canada’s president, will add CEO to his office door. . . . “This is a decision I have been preparing for over the past year and while it is never easy, I know the time is right and I am grateful for the past eight years,” Renney, a Cranbrook native, said in a news release. . . .

Carla MacLeod, the head coach of the U of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey team, has been named head coach of the Czechia national women’s team. She is the first woman to be that team’s head coach. . . .

Jokerit, a pro hockey team that plays out of Helsinki, spent eight seasons in the KHL before pulling out late in February after Russia attacked Ukraine. Now it has announced that, while it won’t operate in 2022-23, it hopes to return to Finland’s top league (Liiga) for 2023-24. It’s also worth noting that former Edmonton Oilers star Jari Kurri now is Jokerit’s sole owner after buying the 40 per cent of the club that had been owned by the Russian company Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy. . . .

Adam DiBella has been named head coach of the junior B Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He replaces his father, Mario, who has chosen to retire. Adam spent four seasons as an assistant coach alongside his father. . . . Lance Morey remains as the Leafs’ general manager. . . .

Mark Peterson is the new head coach of the U-18 AAA Saskatoon Contacts. He had been the team’s director of scouting and recruitment. Peterson replaces Dale Lambert.


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.


Dawn

Blades give fans chance to gamble on playoff tickets . . . Milne fills hat as Ice dumps Warriors . . . Pickleball big in Washington

Vacation


The Portland Winterhawks and Saskatoon Blades have qualified for the WHL playoffs and have playoff tickets/packages available for purchase.

It’s interesting to see the different approaches these organizations have taken.

The Blades (34-23-4) are fifth in the Eastern Conference and appear headed for Saskatoona first-round confrontation with the Moose Jaw Warriors (34-22-5). The Warriors, who hold a three-point edge, are scheduled to be in Saskatoon on Friday to conclude the season series. The Blades are 5-2-0; the Warriors, who beat the visiting Blades 7-0 on Saturday, are 2-4-1.

Saskatoon has made available what it calls a Playoff Pass. One adult Playoff Pass sells for $79. “This will guarantee your seat through the entire post-season, no matter how far we make it,” reads a news release on the Blades’ website. “That means you could enjoy as many as 16 playoff games for less than $80!”

So here’s the deal . . . this is an opportunity for you to roll the dice.

If you purchase one adult Playoff Pass and the Blades bow out in a first-round sweep, meaning two home games, well, that will have cost you $39.50 a game. But if they get into the second round and end up playing six home games, it’s $13.17 per game. A third-round appearance and, say, nine home games and it’s $8.78 per game.

“Or,” as Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, told me, “you can just buy game-to-game and get the same seat with credit card on file but you’ll pay a higher price each round.”

OK, Blades fans, which will it be?

BTW, a youth Playoff Pass can be yours for $39, with a child’s going for $29.

The Blades haven’t yet revealed single-game playoff ticket prices but a regular-season adult ticket is $25.

Meanwhile, the Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference and could be Portlandheaded for a first-round matchup with the Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals.

The Winterhawks are selling 11-game packages for various prices, running from US$152 to $362.

Single-game tickets will go on sale once opening-round matchups are set. But a seat will cost anywhere from $18 to $63.50 in the first round. Should the Winterhawks get to the championship final, the prices will run from $20 to $66.50. (BTW, the priciest seats are the ones along the glass.)

Portland’s info, including a seating diagram, is right here.



The IIHF has released the schedule for the U18 men’s World Championship that is to run April 23 through May in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany. . . . With Russia and Belarus having been suspended from international competition, this will be an eight-team tournament. Canada (1), the U.S. (4), Czechia (5) and Germany (8) will be in Group A, with Sweden (2), Finland (3), Switzerland (6) and Latvia (7) in Group B. . . . There are more details right here.


Recipes


The Columbus Blue Jackets were without head coach Brad Larsen and assistant coach Steve McCarthy, both former WHLers, when they met the visiting New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Yes, both coaches tested positive and entered COVID-19 protocol. With them gone, associate coach Pascal Vincent ran things at the bench. . . . The Blue Jackets dropped a 4-3 decision to the Islanders. . . . Just wondering, but do you think the WHL would let the public know if a team or teams had staff members, say a coach or even an athletic therapist, out of action because of COVID-19? Hey, just thinking out loud.


Dorothy-040719My wife, Dorothy, is fund-raising, again, as she takes part in her ninth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, this one will be held virtually, again, but she continues to take it seriously. She is more than a little thankful for having had a kidney transplant more than eight years ago, and this is her way of giving back. . . . As of Tuesday evening, Dorothy is the No. 1 fund-raiser in B.C. . . . If you would like to donate to the cause and become a member of her team, you are able to do so right here.



TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

F Mikey Milne scored his 33rd goal just 24 seconds into the game and the host WinnipegIceWinnipeg Ice went on to beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 8-1, in the night’s only game. . . . Before the game was eight minutes old, Winnipeg held a 4-0 lead as F Conor Geekie (21), F Zach Benson (22) and F Jack Finley (24) joined the party. . . . Milne finished with three goals — his first WHL hat trick — and an assist. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 22 shots to record the victory. He is 29-2-1, 2.03, .913 this season. . . . The Ice (48-9-5) is the first WHL team this season to crack the 100-point barrier. It leads the Eastern Conference by six points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (46-13-3). . . . The Warriors (35-22-5) are fourth, three points ahead of the Saskatoon Blades (34-23-4).


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald, who once upon a time was that newspaper’s man on the Silvertips’ beat, tweeted Tuesday that “the Snohomish County-led effort to make pickleball Washington’s official state sport came to fruition Monday when Governor Jay Islee signed the bill into law.” Take that baseball, football and hockey. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia posted this tweet on Tuesday: “(The Vancouver Giants’) injury report, which had been listing C Ty Halaburda (upper body) as sidelined week-to-week, has him now at indefinite. D Alex Cotton (LBI, week-to-week), LW Cole Shepard (LBI, week-to-week), G Jesper Vikam (LBI, week-to-week) and C Zack Ostapchuk (UBI, day-to-day).” The Giants have eight regular-season games remaining, starting with a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. The Giants are tied for sixth in the Western Conference with the Victoria Royals, who have five games left. . . . G Tavin Grant, who played with the Prince George Cougars (2014-18), was the EBUG for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night as they met the Canucks in Abbotsford. Due to injuries, the Marlies signed G Talor Joseph, 27, who plays for the BCIHL’s Trinity Western Spartans and started him. Grant didn’t get into the game, as Joseph turned aside 34 shots in the Marlies’ 5-3 victory.



Former WHLer Ryan Pilon is the new coach of the Estevan Bears, a U18 AAA men’s hockey team. He takes over from Riley Hengen, who had been the interim head coach since Nov. 24 when Jeff Smith was fired. . . . The Bears just completed their second season in the SMAAAHL. . . . Pilon, 25, played parts of five seasons (2011-15) in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Brandon Wheat Kings. He has been an assistant coach with the U18 AAA Beardy’s Blackhawks, who were dropped from the SMAAHL by Hockey Saskatchewan and replaced by the Bears, and the junior  B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League.


Carrot


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.


Romance

Royals complete sweep of Rockets . . . Ice alone atop WHL standings . . . Coaching vacancy in MJHL

In a piece posted here late Tuesday, I questioned why some hockey leagues are so quick to get through their playoffs after playing through a lengthy and kijhlgrinding regular season. . . . As an example, I used the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . Well, the Nelson Leafs and Revelstoke Grizzlies will play in the KIJHL’s best-of-seven championship final, and the schedule was released on Wednesday. . . . If the series goes seven games, the teams will play seven games in nine days. Seriously! . . . The series is scheduled to open Friday in Revelstoke, with Game 2 there on Saturday. The scene shifts to Nelson for games on Monday and Tuesday. If necessary, they then will play three games in as many nights — March 31 in Revelstoke, April 1 in Nelson, April 2 in Revelstoke. . . . Just thinking out loud here but maybe it is time junior hockey players had some kind of players’ association to stand up on their behalf when things like this happen.


A tip of the hat to the BCHL for taking advantage of more playoff time to spread bchlthings out. You may recall that the BCHL no longer is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, so won’t take part in the Centennial Cup tournament.

From Steve Ewen of Postmedia:

“The BCHL champion won’t be in the running for the Centennial Cup national title, since the league pulled out of the Canadian Junior Hockey League last spring and lost its spot in that tournament. The BCHL had sent a letter to the CJHL regarding multiple concerns. They wanted player transfers to be less restricted, for instance. The CJHL never responded to BCHL’s concerns, and the BCHL opted to leave.

“It did give the BCHL an opportunity to start its season later, which allowed it to spread out games. The league wasn’t concerned about having its schedule completed to link up with the other leagues for playoffs.

“I think this will make winning our league mean even more,” said (Penticton Vees GM/head coach Fred) Harbinson.

Ewen’s story is right here.


Stress


The Team 980, a radio station in Washington, D.C., had been the voice of the city’s NFL franchise since 2008. It ended its relationship with the team, known the Commanders, on Wednesday morning. Why? Kevin Sheehan, the station’s morning host, made the announcement. He explained: “The team and our company disagreed on the value of the broadcast. It’s also very important for us as a sports talk station, even as a long-time flagship station for the team, it was important for us to continue to be able to provide honest, objective information and analysis about the team on our talk shows.” . . . As Brandon Contes of Awful Announcing wrote: “Sheehan’s statement implies the Commanders have or would attempt to censor the content and topics that were discussed about the team on-air. The ability to speak objectively and honestly about NFL teams should be a requirement for sports radio stations, especially as it pertains to the Washington Commanders.” . . . Hmm, shouldn’t that be a requirement for any broadcast outlet?



WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL:

In Victoria, F Marcus Almquist had a goal and two assists to lead the Royals to a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Almquist, an 18-year-old from Denmark, went into the game with two goals and four assists in 34 games. . . . He also has goals in two straight games, having scored the game’s first goal on Tuesday when the Royals beat the Rockets, 4-2. . . . Last night, the Rockets got four assists from F Tanner Scott and two goals — he’s got 28 — and an assist from F Brayden Schuuman. . . . Almquist’s second goal, at 4:00 of the third period, gave the Royals a 4-2 lead. . . . The game featured two minor penalties — one to each team — and each team was 1-for-1 on the PP. . . . G Campbell Arnold stopped 36 shots to earn the victory. . . . Victoria (21-34-6), with four straight victories, is seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Vancouver Giants and five ahead of the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kelowna (34-18-6) is fifth, four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at this game and his post is right here. . . .

G Daniel Hauser ran his winning streak to 10 games as the visiting Winnipeg Ice beat the Saskatoon Blades, 4-2. . . . Hauser, who was called on to make only 16 stops, now is 26-2-1, 2.06, .913 this season. His career numbers are 33-2-1, 2.28, .909. . . . F Chase Wheatcroft’s 13th goal, at 2:06 of the third period, gave Winnipeg a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner. . . . The Ice was without top-end forwards Matthew Savoie and F Conor Geekie, both of whom were in Kitchener, Ont., at the Top Prospects Game. . . . Winnipeg (45-9-5) leads the overall standings and the Eastern Conference by two points over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Saskatoon (33-22-4) is fifth in the conference, three points behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and nine ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The MJHL’s OCN Blizzard won’t be re-signing Billy Keane, who had been the general manager and head coach since July 16, 2020. The Blizzard (18-29-7) finished last in the six-team West Division and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.


——


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.


Tequila

Alberta, Saskatchewan change things up, B.C. stays course . . . Giants, Rockets postponed . . . Mick goes Wild

With the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments having all but capitulated on the pandemic, WHL teams in those provinces are going to be able to return to operating without some restrictions.

For Alberta teams that means 50 per cent capacity in their facilities, open concession stands and no more checking for vaccination status. Fans will be required to wear face masks in some facilities, though, so will need to check before they go. The restriction on attendance and the mask mandate likely will disappear on March 1.

“It is clear that we passed the peak of our current infections about three weeks ago and are now seeing the result as COVID-related hospital admissions are declining,” Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, told reporters.

After that statement, Scott Schmidt of the Medicine Hat News tweeted: “In case anyone is stuck on the math regarding (Kenney’s) claim that hospital numbers are on the decline . . . Hospitalizations are at 1,623 (an increase of 81 in 24 hours) and ICU is at 129 (an increase of 11 in 24 hours). And that’s with 13 people dying.”

Meanwhile, Scott Moe, Saskatchewan’s premier, said his province, which no longer provides daily COVID-19 updates, is dumping its vaccine passport mandate on Monday. As well, the province’s mask mandate will be over at month’s end. Saskatchewan is the only province not to have implemented capacity restrictions on indoor events since the arrival of the highly transmissible Omicron variants, so that hasn’t been a concern for WHL teams there.

In B.C., teams will have to continue living with various restrictions and mandates regarding capacity, face masks and vaccine passports. Premier John Horgan said on Tuesday that his province doesn’t determine public health policy based on the demands of a “handful of protesters.”

“We’re going to follow the same path that we have been on since the pandemic began, and that is to take advice and council from public health officials,” Horgan said at a news conference in Victoria.

He also told reporters that masks are “effective in protecting people” and said that “the vast majority” of people in B.C. support vaccine passports.

There has been speculation that there could be changes to B.C. restrictions  around Feb. 21, which is Family Day.

——

I have a couple of friends who live in Edmonton, both of them having been impacted by kidney disease that has left them with compromised immune systems. And I can tell you from experience that it takes a whole lot of energy to navigate the outside world in a pandemic when you have a compromised immune system. I also can tell you how it feels to have anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers suggest that when you are in that situation you should just “stay home.” (We won’t even get into how some people who walk among us don’t seem to have any value for the elderly, either.)

It is so so frustrating to feel abandoned by our government,” one of my Edmonton friends, who has undergone a kidney transplant, told me. “I had to get off Twitter and Facebook . . . it was depressing me too much.”

The other friend is dealing with polycystic kidney disease and is doing hemodialysis three times a week. A surgical procedure has been scheduled for May during which the right kidney is to be removed. Full of cysts, doctors estimate that the kidney weighs about 15 pounds. This friend is hoping and praying that the lifting of restrictions in Alberta doesn’t result in another wave and even more pressures on the healthcare system.

That right kidney is causing a lot of pain and this friend really, really doesn’t want the surgery delayed.

These are the kinds of things that get lost in the moaning and groaning over lost “freedoms” and the whining and whimpering about having to wear face masks or show proof of vaccination.

Anyway . . . here’s hoping that the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan know something that the medical and scientific communities haven’t yet figured out.


The Vancouver Giants have had a second game postponed because of their latest Vancouverrun-in with COVID-19. The Giants were scheduled to play the Rockets in Kelowna tonight (Wednesday), but that won’t happen after the WHL announced a postponement on Tuesday. . . . The Giants also had a scheduled home game postponed that was to have been played against the Seattle Thunderbirds on Feb. 6. . . . From Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “Two Vancouver players tested positive Saturday night in Kent, Wash., where the Giants were playing the Seattle Thunderbirds. That led to the Giants’ Sunday afternoon game against the Thunderbirds at the Langley Events Centre being postponed Sunday morning. The Giants’ weekly roster update that was published on the WHL website Tuesday listed defenceman Tom Cadieux and winger Jacob Boucher in COVID-19 protocol. They were among 23 players from across the 22-team league who were either added to protocol or were returning to action from protocol this week.” . . . According to WHL regulations, a team has to “ice a roster with a minimum of 14 healthy skaters in order to compete.” The Giants’ roster report shows the two players in COVID protocol, five others out day-to-day with injuries, and one other out indefinitely. . . . The Giants are scheduled to travel to Prince George for Friday and Saturday games against the Cougars. Obviously, the WHL is going to have to make a decision on those games before the Giants climb on their bus and head north. . . . Ewen’s story is right here.



Fine


It’s almost the middle of February. We should be starting to get excited about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. But that isn’t going to happen.

With owners scheduled to meet in Orlando, Fla., this week, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, offered up a couple of thoughts . . .

“One of the major problems I have had with baseball’s CBA negotiations over the years is that the fundamental issues never seem to change very much. The two sides fulminate at each other and eventually come to a sort of agreement that merely puts a Band-Aid on the wound and leaves in place all the fundamental disagreements. Then, five years later, they go into the memory banks and drag out the old issues and begin fulminating again. This time around, the two sides — and I mean BOTH sides — seem to have chosen to play the game of chicken very close to some real calendar imperatives. . . .

“Let me return to a fundamental theme I have offered here in the past. MLB and the MLBPA should be much less antagonistic to each other than they are now — and have been for the last 40 years. The two sides are, in reality, partners — not opponents — in producing and distributing a ‘television series.’ The reason top players are routinely making $30M a year or more is TV network money; it is not the marketing genius of the owners, and it is not the athletic genius of the players — it is both working in concert. That sort of camaraderie never seems to surface.”

Nail, meet hammer!

——

The curmudgeonly one’s complete piece is available right here, as are all of his daily musings.


Organizers have rescheduled the annual Mac’s Midget hockey tournament for Aug. 6-10. The Calgary tournament is usually held in the days after Christmas but was scrubbed because of the pandemic. . . . It’ll be a 24-team event with teams to be announced on March 1.


Troy Mick, a former BCHL and WHL player, coach and executive, is on his way back to the BCHL, this time with the Wenatchee Wild organization. Effective April 1, Mick will be the hockey director and head coach — with Jordan McGaggart staying on as co-head coach — of the 18UAAA Wenatchee, Wash., Wolves and 16UAAA Wenatchee Wilderness. . . . As hockey director, Mick also will oversee the 14UAAA Wenatchee Wolverines and a 12U Showcase team. . . . Mick, who is from Vernon, B.C., spent the past two seasons as the general manager of the Philadelphia Hockey Club and the head coach of its 18UAAA team. . . . The Wild’s news release is right here.


Found


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.


Bike

Giants add coach, goaltender . . . Ice, fans will wait for Finley . . . Pull goalie in OT? It works for Fedorov


The Vancouver Giants, in preparing for the next month of the WHL’s regular Vancouverseason, have added an assistant coach and a goaltender over the past few days. . . . With head coach Michael Dyck on the coaching staff for Canada’s national junior team, the Giants are bringing in former WHL/NHL D Brent Seabrook to help associate coach Keith McCambridge behind the bench. Seabrook, who is from Delta, B.C., won three Stanley Cups while with the Chicago Blackhawks. . . . The Giants also cut a deal with the Seattle Thunderbirds, acquiring G Connor Martin, 18, for an eighth-round pick in the 2024 bantam draft. As Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports, Vancouver G Jesper Vikman, 19, is expected to be on the roster of Sweden’s national junior team when it is announced today. If that’s the case, the Giants will use Martin and Will Gurski, 19, while the World Junior Championship is being played in Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . This was the second trade of the season for Martin. On Nov. 4, Seattle got him from the Victoria Royals for an eight-rounder in the 2022 draft. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.


Cow


The Winnipeg Ice and its fans may have to wait until January to see the team’s Winnipegnewest acquisition in action. On Monday, the Ice acquired F Jack Finley, 19, and a seventh-round pick in the 2024 WHL draft from the Spokane Chiefs for F Chase Bertholet, 18, F James Form, 19, and a second-round pick in 2024. . . . Before reporting to the Ice, Finley, 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, will attend the selection team for the Canadian team that will compete in the World Junior Championship. The tournament runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, so should he make the team, he won’t be in Winnipeg for about a month. . . . Finley was the Chiefs’ captain. The Tampa Bay Lightning has signed him to a contract after selecting him in the second round of the 2020 NHL draft. His father, Jeff, played three seasons (1984-87) with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks before going on to a lengthy pro career. After two seasons as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets, he spent 10 seasons as an amateur scout with the Detroit Red Wings. He now is in his third season as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. . . . Although they hadn’t been added the Spokane’s online roster as of Tuesday night, Bertholet and Form could play Friday in Portland.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The host Brandon Wheat Kings dumped Medicine Hat 6-4 on Tuesday night, handing the Tigers their 15th consecutive loss. The Tigers haven’t won since beating the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, 6-2, on Oct. 22. Since then, they are 0-12-3. The Tigers are to visit the Regina Pats tonight. . . .

The WHL has two drafts scheduled for the next two days. I won’t be posting here for the next couple of days, but there will be lots on the drafts elsewhere, I’m sure. . . .

Last week, the OHL postponed three games involving the Sudbury Wolves after 12 players turned up positive. Those games have been scheduled for Dec. 1, 3 and 4. Now the league has postponed games that were scheduled for Friday and Sunday, both of them against the visiting Soo Greyhounds. The Wolves next are scheduled to play on Dec. 16 against the host Barrie Colts. . . .



The NFL is having COVID-19 issues of its own. . . . Twelve players were placed on the COVID-19 list after testing positive on Monday — WR Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers, C Evan Brown of the Detroit Lions, TE Stephen Carlson and TE David Njoku of the Cleveland Browns, LB Blake Cashman of the New York Jets, DE Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints, LB AJ Klein of the Buffalo Bills, QB Jordan Love of the Green Bay Packers, G Wes Martin of the New York Giants, RB Jalen Richard of the Las Vegas Raiders and OT Trenton Scott of the Carolina Panthers. . . .

Players activated off the COVID-19 list this week include CB Patrick Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, OL Tommy Doyle of the Buffalo Bills, long-snapper Charley Hughlett and FB Johnny Stanton of Cleveland, OT Terence Steele and TE Blake Jarwin of the Dallas Cowboys and S Kevin Beard of the Tennessee Titans,



These days, former NHL star Sergei Fedorov is the head coach of CSKA Moscow KHLof the KHL. His club has won its last two games, both of them in OT, by using an innovative tactic that has yet to reach the NHL. . . . On Dec. 1, Fedorov exchanged his goaltender, Ivan Fedotov, for the extra attacker in the middle of OT and F Mikhail Grigorenko scored to give CSKA Moscow a 1-0 victory over Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. . . . Then, on Monday, Fedorov did it again. This time D Nikita Nesterov scored for a 3-2 victory over Moscow Dynamo. . . . When you think about it, why not? The 3-on-3 OT has turned into a game of puck possession. So why not outnumber the other guys in their zone and run plays as though you’re on the PP? . . . Now we will watch to see which NHL coach has the jam to be the first. Or would someone — hello, Mike Johnston — give it a whirl in the WHL?

After posting the above, I received a note pointing out that an NHL team pulling its goaltender in OT and giving up an empty-net goal would forfeit the loser point it had earned by playing to a regulation tie. So I’m sure the WHL plays under this rule, too. . . . From the NHL rule book . . .

“A team shall be allowed to pull its goalkeeper in favor of an additional skater in the overtime period. However, should that team lose the game during the time in which the goalkeeper has been removed, it would forfeit the automatic point gained in the tie at the end of regulation play, except if the goalkeeper has been removed at the call of a delayed penalty against the other team. Should the goalkeeper proceed to his bench for an extra attacker due to a delayed penalty call against the opposing team, and should the non-offending team shoot the puck directly into their own goal, the game shall be over and the team that was to be penalized declared the winner. Once the goalkeeper has been removed for an extra attacker in overtime during the regular-season, he must wait for the next stoppage of play before returning to his position. He cannot change ‘on the fly.’ If he does, a bench minor penalty shall be assessed for having an ineligible player.”


Wifi


You may have missed it, but two KHL teams played a game in Dubai on Friday. Yes, that would be Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. . . . Ak Bars Kazan scored a 3-1 victory over Avangard Omsk before about 5,150 spectators in the Coca Cola Arena. . . . “Everything that we did here was a big win for hockey and the KHL,” Bob Hartley, Avangard’s head coach, said. “Apart from our result, the whole trip was excellently organized, I’d like to congratulate everyone for their work on this event.” . . . Andy Potts of IIHF.com has more right here.


The IIHF met this week and decided that, yes, the Chinese men’s hockey team will get to play in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. I know. You’re shocked. . . . The Chinese team slots into Group A, along with, uhh, Canada, the U.S., and Germany. . . . Yeah, there’ll be some entertaining hockey in that group.



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.


Podcasts

How a coach wound up with two WHL teams at same time . . . Friedman puts focus on Ingram . . . B.C. mess has schedule implications

Bob Tory, the general manager of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, heard from a Americansfew potential goaltending coaches on Wednesday.

There was one problem . . . the Americans have a goaltending coach in Eli Wilson.

If you tuned in late, Wilson also is Kelowna’s goaltending coach, something that Rockets president/GM Bruce Hamilton announced on Monday.

A goaltending coach working with two teams in the same league? Only in the WHL, you say.

Well, here’s how it went down . . .

On Nov. 7, the Rockets acquired G Talyn Boyko, all 6-foot-7.5 of him, from the Americans for G Cole Tisdale, 19, and a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2024 draft.

Boyko, 19, a fourth-round pick by the New York Rangers in the NHL’s 2021 Rocketsdraft, has been a long-time student of Wilson’s, having attended his goaltending camps as well as working with him with the Americans.

After the trade, when Hamilton asked Tory if Wilson could work with Kelowna’s goaltenders, Tory said he didn’t have a problem with it, as long as it didn’t interfere with the one week a month that Wilson, who lives in Kelowna, is to spend with the Americans.

So that’s how Wilson came to be on the ice with the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday while the Americans were riding the bus to Kamloops where they spent the night. Tri-City is to practise in Kamloops this morning and then head to Prince George for a Friday-Saturday series with the Cougars.

With the Rockets, Wilson replaces Adam Brown, who no longer is with the organization. Brown, 30, spent four seasons (2008-12) tending goal for the Rockets and five (2016-21) on their coaching staff.


It was an exciting evening in this household on Oct. 24 when G Connor Ingram made 33 saves in his NHL debut and helped the visiting Nashville Predators to a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Ingram, 24, is a favourite in these parts for a couple of reasons. First, we had many conversations as he put up 81 victories during his three seasons (2014-17) with the Kamloops Blazers. Second, his folks, Joni and Brent, have long supported Dorothy in her annual Kidney Walk fund-raising efforts.

In January, Connor left the Predators and voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, going on to spend 40 days at a facility in Malibu, Calif.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has lots on Ingram and the subsequent diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in his latest 32 Thoughts.

“This is the kind of OCD you do not hear about,” Ingram told Friedman. “You hear about repeatedly washing hands or being incredibly organized. My apartment is a disaster, I’m not one of those people.”

It’s worth reading to understand what Ingram has been through.

But it was something that Brian Poile, Nashville’s assistant GM and director of hockey operations, told Friedman that really struck me. When Ingram decided that he needed help, the Predators were in Dallas and it was Poile who stayed with him in a hotel as things were put in motion to get help.

“In professional sports,” Poile told Friedman, “we sometimes forget these are young men, some of them not fully developed physically or mentally. In many cases, they leave their homes and families in their prime development years to chase their NHL dreams. These young men devote the majority of their days and years to hockey, and in some cases at a significant compromise to the other areas of their life, to become exceptional at the game they love.”

If you are a follower of junior hockey take a few moments to think about that because Poile hit the nail squarely on the head.

Friedman’s complete 32 Thoughts is right here. Items 23 through 27 deal with Ingram.


The events of the last few days in the area to the west of my world are almost beyond comprehension. After getting through a horrendous summer that included devastating wildfires — one wiped the community of Lytton right off the map — and a heat bubble that took temperatures into the high 40s and resulted in hundreds of deaths, areas of B.C. are faced with surveying untold damage, mopping up and eventually rebuilding after a weekend of torrential rain.

Blake Shaffer, an assistant professor in the economics department of the U of Calgary, tweeted on Wednesday that this will be the “costliest natural disaster in Canadian history . . . won’t even be close.”

The resulting landslides, mudslides and flooding has left the highways into the Lower Mainland — generally recognized as the area west of Hope — all shut down. (Highway 7 opened to westbound passenger vehicles from Hope on Wednesday at 5 p.m., allowing more than 1,000 people who had been stranded there to head for home, and then was closed two hours later. . . . There are reports that Highway No. 3 could be open to some traffic at some point over the approaching weekend.)

People being people, of course, grocery stores throughout B.C. — from Prince George to Vancouver — found themselves hit by hoarders on Tuesday and many quickly ran out of a whole lot of stuff, from toilet paper to produce to milk products and meat, bringing back memories of the same thing happening in the early days of the pandemic. For people in places like Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George, it didn’t seem to matter that highways to the east remain open to trucks bearing supplies. Hoard on, Garth!

Anyway . . . the transportation issues have resulted in a number of hockey leagues having to keep a close eye on their schedules.

For starters, the WHL has postponed a game that was to have had the Victoria Royals play the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday. It has been rescheduled for Feb. 16. The Royals, however, will travel to Langley, B.C., to play the Vancouver Giants on Saturday night. . . . The Blazers are to play the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday night. Teams going south are able to bypass the Lower Mainland by travelling through Osoyoos, B.C., and entering the U.S. at the Oroville crossing. . . .

In the BCHL, a Wednesday night game between the visiting Merritt Centennials bchland the Penticton Vees was postponed with a rescheduled date yet to be announced. Merritt, with a population around 7,500, remains under an evacuation order after its wastewater treatment plant was compromised by flood water from the Coldwater River. . . . That evacuation order is expected to be in place for at least another week. . . .

The BCHL also postponed a pair of Merritt home games — Friday against the Vernon Vipers and Saturday versus the Prince George Spruce Kings.

All told, the BCHL has postponed eight weekend games and added a pair. There’s a news release detailing it all right here. . . .

Two BCHL teams were forced into extended road stays after being unable to get home after weekend games. The Victoria Grizzlies flew home from Penticton on Wednesday, one day after most of the Coquitlam Express drove from Kamloops to Kelowna and then boarded a plane for home. . . .

The junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey kijhlLeague was to have entertained the Chase Heat on Wednesday night. However, the Storm’s home arena at McArthur Island is being used to house evacuees from Merritt so the game was postponed. The Storm’s next home game is scheduled for Sunday against the North Okanagan Knights. . . .

The KIJHL had postponed a Tuesday game in Princeton that was to have had the Posse meeting the Kelowna Chiefs. Princeton was hit with an evacuation order for 295 homes after the Tumaleen and Similkameen rivers overflowed. The Posse next is to play on Friday in Summerland against the Steam, before returning home to face Chase on Saturday. . . .

In the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, a game scheduled for Friday that was to have had the host Lake Cowichan Kraken meet the Victoria Cougars has been postponed with a new date yet to be determined. . . . Also postponed is a Friday game between the visiting Kerry Park Islanders and Saanich Predators and two Sunday assignments — the Campbell River Storm at Saanich and the Islanders at the Westshore Wolves. . . .

The Pacific Junior Hockey League postponed a Wednesday night game that was to have had the Aldergrove Kodiak visit the Richmond Sockeyes. . . .

The AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks were to have played host to the Bakersfield Condors on Friday and Sunday. Those games have been moved to Jan. 5 and Jan. 10. . . . Abbotsford’s next home game is scheduled for Nov. 30 against the Ontario Reign. . . .

The message here is that if you are planning on attending a sporting event in these times, you need to check a schedule to see if the game is still on, all the while being sure to see what pandemic-related restrictions are in place.


Using a whole lot of numbers, Rhianna Schmunk of CBC News put together a comprehensive look at the situation in B.C., and it’s all right here. It’s a scary read, especially when you realize that this is happening right down the road.



The NHL’s Ottawa Senators, who have had as many as 10 players and one coach nhl2on the COVID-19 protocol list, are scheduled to play the Colorado Avalance in Denver on Monday. By that point, eight of those players could be back, depending on how the testing process goes. . . . The Senators have had three games postponed. . . . Ottawa F Michael Del Zotto explained the situation to Toronto radio station TSN 1050 on Wednesday: ““Some guys have had some loss of taste and smell, and I think that’s about as serious as it’s gotten, at least to my knowledge. Everyone is vaccinated so that certainly helps, but it’s scary how quickly it can spread and how quickly it went through the team. This is 20 months now still talking about (COVID-19) and it would be nice for us to get past this.” . . .

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have put three players — F Michael Amadio, F William Carrier and F Johnathan Marchessault on the NHL’s COVID-19 list since the start of the week. The Golden Knights are to entertain the Detroit Red Wings tonight.


Meetings


The Los Angeles Chargers have some COVID-19 issues as they prepare to meet the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in a Sunday night NFL game. Defensive linemen Joey Bosa, Christian Covington and Jerry Tillery are on the COVID-19 list, as is LB Drue Tranquill. The unvaccinated Bosa was deemed a close contact to Tillery, but has tested negative and could return to workouts on Saturday.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is scheduled to be played in Kingston, Ont., on Feb. 2. . . . You will recall that the Spokane Chiefs were to have spent last weekend in Victoria playing a doubleheader against the Royals. That, of course, didn’t happen after two Spokane players tested positive. Those two games now have been rescheduled for Jan. 11 and 12. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that F Cole Shepard is back skating with the Vancouver Giants. He hasn’t played since March 2020 and has since undergone hip surgery. Shepard, 19, may be cleared to play at some point next week. . . . G Jack McNaughton, 20, who made 87 appearances over three-plus seasons (2018-22) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, has signed with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers.


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.


Number

WHL rests before busy weekend . . . B.C. sports hall honours Ewen . . . Avalanche coach tests positive


There weren’t any WHL games on Thursday’s schedule as it prepares for a 19-game weekend, although there aren’t any games on Monday, which is the Canadian Thanksgiving. . . . However, there were two WHL games on Wednesday night . . .

In Lethbridge, F Logan Dowhaniuk scored at 17:42 of the third period to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 2-1 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Edmonton got its other goal from F Jalen Luypen, shorthanded, with 1.1 seconds left in the second period. . . .

In Winnipeg, F Zach Benson, the 14th pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft, scored twice to help the Ice to a 5-2 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Ice F Mikey Milne had two assists, giving him seven points in three games.


Machete


The QMJHL has suspended Nicolas Daigle and Massimo Siciliano of the Victoriaville Tigres at least until the court has dealt with charges against them. They were charged with sexual assault on Tuesday. They also were charged with recording the incident and Daigle is facing a charge of having shared images of the alleged victim. . . . The charges arose after an incident that is alleged to have occurred in a hotel in Lac-Beauport on June 6 after the Tigres’ won the QMJHL championship in June. . . . The QMJHL’s news release is right here.


Jared Bednar, a former WHLer who is the head coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, will miss a pair of exhibition games after testing positive for COVID-19. . . . The Avalanche is to play the Stars in Dallas on Thursday, with the two teams meeting in Denver on Saturday. . . . In Bednar’s absence, assistant coaches Ray Bennett and Nolan Pratt, both of whom are former WHLers, will run the Colorado bench. . . . Bednar played in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Spokane Chiefs, Medicine Hat Tigers, Prince Albert Raiders, 1990-93). He is in his sixth season as Colorado’s head coach. . . . Bennett spent one season (1992-93) as the Moose Jaw Warriors’ assistant general manager. He also scouted for the Spokane Chiefs (1994-95). . . . Pratt spent three-plus seasons (1991-95) as a defenceman wit the Portland Winter Hawks.



Steve Ewen of Postmedia has been named as a recipient of an Eric Whitehead Inspired Service Award as presented by the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Among other things, Ewen covers junior hockey for the Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun. “In 2010, Ewen was diagnosed with a solitary plasmacytoma, a type of blood cancer, needing two rods and 15 screws to be inserted into his back and neck,” wrote Postmedia’s J.J. Adams. “In a six-month hospital stay, he had eight back surgeries, leaving his spine fused from his neck to the middle of his back. The cancer returned in 2017, when he had a stem cell transplant.” . . . Whitehead, a former Province sports editor, was heavily involved in the founding of the Hall of Fame. . . . Adams’s story is right here.


Diaper


David Branch, the OHL commissioner, told reporters on Wednesday that all of his league’s players are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. He also said that the OHL had one player opt out of playing rather than get vaccinated. . . .

The OHL’s Sarnia Sting opened its regular season on Thursday night with a 6-3 victory over the Spitfires in Windsor. But associate coach Brad Staubitz wasn’t there. The team announced earlier in the day that Staubitz has taken a leave of absence for non-COVID-related personal reasons. He has been on the Sting’s coaching staff since 2016. . . . On Wednesday, the Sting announced that assistant coach Mark Mancari would be away “for the foreseeable future to deal with a personal health issue.” He had been with the Sting since June 2020. . . . Alan Letang, the head coach, and goaltending coach Franky Palazzese are the only other coaches listed on the Sting’s website.


The Brooklyn Nets are scheduled to play an exhibition game at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night and guard Kyrie Irving is listed on their roster as out/ineligible. . . . Irving has refused to get vaccinated and under New York City requirements only those who are fully vaccinated are allowed in city facilities.


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.


JUST NOTES: Maggie Sinclair was elected to the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors at the organization’s AGM on Sept. 30. She is the first female member of the board; the Warriors have been around since 1984. From a Warriors’ news release: “Sinclair currently works as a the Chief Risk and Compliance Officer with Conexus and has decades of experience in banking.” . . . Krista Funke made her debut as an AJHL referee on Wednesday night in Lloydminster where the Bobcats beat the Sherwood Park Crusaders, 8-2. She and fellow referee Daniel Gadowski handed out 10 minor penalties, five to each team. Funke, from Regina, is quite story. She was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2012 while at the U of Toronto. Jennifer Ackerman of the Regina Leader-Post detailed Funke’s story on Jan. 31, 2019. That story is right here.


Penguin

%d bloggers like this: