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

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering about winter tires . . .

Scattershooting2


On Feb. 26, 1986, as the Regina Pats were beating the Warriors, 4-2, at the Crushed Can in Moose Jaw, no one was thinking about that day more than 30 years down the road when Kevin Gallant’s oldest son would score two goals and set up another in one game . . . for the Warriors.

In 1986, Kevin was the radio voice of the Pats. After a Jan. 11 game, in which the Warriors beat the Pats, 4-2, there were whispers that during the post-game show Gallant might have referred to the Moose Jaw organization as — gasp! — Mickey Mouse.

On Feb. 26, then, it was Mickey Mouse Night in Moose Jaw and Gallant did his part by showing up to another game in what then was the league’s hottest rivalry in a Donald Duck outfit.

Yes, stuff like that used to happen in the WHL. It really did.

Fast forward to 2021 and we find Matthew Gallant, 17, in the Warriors’ training camp, hoping to earn a spot on their roster as a defenceman. He had been listed by the Warriors a while back and, lo and behold, he had a terrific camp and the Warriors signed him to a WHL contract.

On Saturday night, he had three points — the goals came 16 seconds apart and gave his guys a 4-1 lead — as the Warriors won, 5-2, in Regina.

And don’t you know that young Matthew was named the game’s first star.

Yes, it was only an exhibition game, but still . . . the Brandt Centre in Regina once was the Agridome and it was then when the echo of Matthew’s father’s voice owned the rafters of that building.

Kevin now lives on the Lower Mainland of B.C., with his wife, Eva, and their other son, Michael, who also is a defenceman.

“Well,” Kevin told me, “I must tell you the irony of my son playing at the Agridome or Brandt Centre and scoring two goals and getting one assist for Moose Jaw over the Pats and then being named first star is quite a moment and one that I will never forget. Sitting in my living room and watching on WHL Live was surreal and quite a proud Dad moment.”

The Warriors’ regular-season home-opener is scheduled for Friday against the Saskatoon Blades. Eva and Kevin plan to be there. I don’t think he’ll be hauling the Donald Duck suit out of the closet for this one.

But maybe the Warriors will ask Kevin to drop the ceremonial first puck. Just for old time’s sake, you know.


Antimaskers


In his weekly Last Call column, Charles P. Pierce of Esquire began:

“We have become numb to the numbers. The pandemic continues to sicken people, and to make them die, and gradually, we’ve worked this situation into the habits of our daily being. The butcher’s bill is now as regular a part of the evening news as cold fronts and box scores. The stories even sort themselves now into iron categories: the Exhausted Nurses story, the No Beds Available story, and, most maddening of all, the Radio Talk Show Host Who Railed Against Vaccines and Masks and Died of COVID story.”


Dr. Ilan Schwartz is an infectious disease specialist at the U of Alberta in Edmonton. He told Dean Bennett of The Canadian Press that more restrictions and a vaccine card were needed in Alberta at least a month ago. Dr. Schwartz also noted:

“It’s absurd that we have (hospital) morgues that are full, we are cancelling cancer surgeries, we’re calling for the military, we’re talking about transporting patients 3,000 kilometres in order for them to find an ICU bed and we still have society going on as if nothing is the matter.”


Judging by a couple of tweets from Postmedia’s Steve Ewen, the Vancouver VancouverGiants won’t have their head coach at their bench when the WHL season opens:

“The WHL discipline page shows Giants coach Michael Dyck and Fs Kyle Bochek and Colton Langkow will miss the season opener Saturday on the road vs. Victoria Royals with one-game suspensions from the line brawl vs. the Prince George Cougars in preseason action on Friday in Maple Ridge.

“There were eight fighting majors, nine game misconducts and a cross-checking major assessed to Bochek at 19:03 mark of the third in Vancouver’s 3-1 win over PG. Giants have also been given a $1,000 fine. There’s no list of supplementary discipline for the Cougars.”

Keith McCambridge is the Giants’ associate coach. The team doesn’t list another assistant coach on its website.

If you’re wondering when the last time a WHL coach drew a suspension, well, according to the WHL website you have to go back more than three years. Kelly Buchberger, then the head coach of the Tri-City Americans, was suspended for one game after his team got involved in a “multiple-fight situation” with the Giants. That was on Sept. 2, 2018.



David Beard, the starting centre for the CFL’s Edmonton Elks, didn’t practise on Sunday because he was put into COVID-19 protocol. He is the 17th Edmonton player to be in protocol since this season began. The list is for those who have either tested positive or have been in close contact with someone who did. . . . Beard isn’t likely to play Tuesday against the host Ottawa Redblacks.


Job


Here’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to Rolling Stone:

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team. There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”


The really good news is that Dwight Perry, he of Sideline Chatter fame at the Seattle Times, is back in the saddle, and he didn’t lose it while he was away. “Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins is reportedly unvaccinated, putting his availability for some games into question,” Perry notes. “Making him the first NBA player this season to be criticized for his shot selection.”

——

After that dustup between the Blue Jays and Tampa Bay, Perry wrote: “Toronto plunked the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch, two days after he swiped Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk’s data card. Flummoxed scorekeepers couldn’t decide how to score it — hit by pitch or caught stealing?”


Rootbeer


The Prairie Junior Hockey League, a 12-team junior B league based in Saskatchewan, revealed on Saturday that “team governors have voted to implement a mandatory vaccination policy. The players will be informed of the details and timeline by their individual teams.” . . . When the Heritage Junior B Hockey League in Alberta made the same decision it lost two of its 15 teams.



This one had me laughing . . .


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.


Shakespeare

Scattershooting on Sunday night while wondering if summer has left us for another year . . .

Scattershooting2


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Swift Current Broncos. They opened their ScurrentWHL exhibition schedule on Friday night and admittance was $5 “or free with food donation.” The Broncos also had a vaccine clinic on site. Anyone getting a vaccination was given free entry to the game. Well done!


It would seem that the Boston Bruins have all but decided to send Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, their first selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft, to the WHL’s VancouverVancouver Giants. Don Sweeney, the Bruins’ general manager, told reporters at a prospects tournament in Buffalo on Sunday that “in all likelihood” Lysell will play in Vancouver.

What kind of player is Lysell?

“He’s got some areas, in traffic, and some things that he’s going to have to be aware of, and defensively,” Sweeney added. “All are things we believe we can teach those young players as long as they are willing and receptive to learn. But he’s got the skill set that’s pretty unique for us to be adding to our group and to be excited about.

“It will be important for him to play against kids in his peer group. We’re excited that he’s going to play over here. We do believe the transition to the smaller ice surface, especially with young guys, they have to play in the hard areas of the ice in order to be successful. He’s more than willing to do that but he’s got to find his space.’’

For more, check out Rinkside Rhode Island with Mark Divver, who pays particular attention to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. His latest file is right here.

Via Twitter, Steve Ewen of Postmedia explained the Giants’ import situation:

“Assuming Swedish goalie Jesper Vikman is re-assigned to the Giants,  Vancouver would have three Euros (Vikman, Lysell and Slovak D Marko Stacha). They can only keep two. They’d have two weeks from the start of the WHL regular season to pick.

“Stacha and Lysell are both trade eligible, since Stacha played with the  Giants last season and Lysell was on their roster all season. Vikman, who was Vancouver’s import pick this off-season, is not trade eligible.”

Vikman, 19, was a fifth-round pick by Vegas in 2020, but has yet to sign with the Golden Knights.



SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE, PART I:

After the NFL’s Buffalo Bills announced that you will need to be fully vaccinated in order to attend home games, some fans said they’ll start going on the road. After all, at this point in time the Bills, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks are the only NFL teams that are implementing such a restriction. . . . So now the likes of receiver Cole Beasley, the Bills’ vocal anti-vaxxer, and centre Reid Ferguson are offering to buy tickets for those fans to some road games. . . . One of those fans, who won’t get vaccinated, told Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News: “I’ve had Covid, so in my opinion, I’ve already got the antibodies. I think they’re just as good as the vaccine. The vaccine came out pretty rushed. I don’t really know all the information. In my opinion, there’s so little information out there and it all seems to be one-sided. And then, personally, my religious beliefs. I think God created me for a purpose. He has a plan for my life. And whether I have the vaccine or not, I’m taken care of.” . . . That particular fan is 39 years of age and has five children.

——

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE, PART II:

The Blackfalds Bulldogs made their AJHL debut on the road on Friday night. The Brooks Bandits welcomed them to the league by dropping them, 17-0. Yes, 17-0. . . . (On Saturday, the Bulldogs went into Olds and beat the Grizzlys, 5-4.)

——

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE, PART III:

Sask


So . . . the Minnesota Vikings had the opportunity to beat the host Arizona Cardinals with a last-play field goal on Sunday. The kick was wide right, but Paul Allen, the radio voice of the Vikings, thought, well, give it a listen . . .



OF Eddie Rosario of the Atlanta Braves hit for the cycle Sunday afternoon in a 3-0 victory over the host San Francisco Giants. Yes, hitting for the cycle is a big deal in baseball. But think about this for a moment — in those four at-bats, Rosario saw a total of five pitches.


Dodgeball


A note from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “Jim Hughson, one of Canada’s premier sports broadcasters, is telling people that he has retired. Most recently, Hughson was the No. 1 play-by-play voice at Hockey Night In Canada, and long before that was the voice of the Blue Jays on TSN. He won’t be easily replaced. Rogers Sportsnet, as is their custom, has made no official announcement on his future of the Hall of Fame broadcaster.” . . .  Retirement? Already? Sheesh, it’s only been 43 years since we both were on the Brandon Wheat Kings’ beat, Jim with CKLQ radio and me with the Brandon Sun!



The OHL’s board of governors has approved the sale of the Guelph Storm. The franchise now is owned by Joel Feldberg and Jeffrey Bly, a pair of Toronto businessmen, who purchased it from Rick Gaetz, John Heeley, Rick Hoyle and Scott Walker. . . . Feldberg is the president/CEO of The Global Furniture Group of companies; Bly is the senior vice-president.


JunkDrawer


The best part of waking up today (Monday) will be knowing that it’s election day in Canada, which means all those attack ads on TV will be a thing of the past, at least until next time. And all those signs that are such a horrible blight around our intersections and on our hillsides will be gone.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “SF Giants starter Alex Wood, out nearly 3 weeks with COVID-19,“politely declined again to disclose his vaccination status.” Translation: He hasn’t been vaccinated. Sigh.”


Velcros


JUST NOTES: I spent part of Saturday night watching the CFL game in which the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat Edmonton, 37-22, and when it was over I was left thinking that the Elks just may be on to something with quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who made his first appearance. He’s a 6-foot-5 product of Oklahoma State and he can fling it. . . . Trevor Harris (neck), the Elks’ starting QB, is on the six-game injured list. . . . The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the visiting Toronto Argos, 30-16, on Friday night before an announced crowd of 25,883. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post pointed out that it was the Roughriders’ “lowest crowd since July 8, 2007 (25,862); ’Riders beat Calgary 49-8. . . . When we last heard from Andrew Milne, the general manager and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, the AJHL had fined him $1,000 and hit him with a 15-game suspension for the dastardly sin of discussing with the media a COVID-19 outbreak that had hit his team and community. He has served two games of that sentence and the Eagles won both games. With Milne in AJHL jail, the Eagles’ bench will be run by a three-headed monster featuring assistant coach Bryan Arneson; Mike Glawson, an Eagles’ scout who is the head coach of the U-18 AAA Calgary Flames; and Kyle McLaughlin, who was on the Eagles’ staff last season.


PineCone


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.


Voodoo

Border closure forces WHL schedule changes . . . Blazers cancel two home exhibition games . . . Brandon honours Don Dietrich

If you weren’t aware that Larry Walker was in camp with the Regina Pats — actually, he was in camp with the Pats on two occasions — there’s a piece right here that Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Jan. 22, 2020.


If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now — the WHL’s 2021-22 regular-season WHL2schedule is as fluid as the South Thompson River and it likely will continue that way for a while yet. . . . From a WHL news release that was issued on Wednesday: “Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., WHL clubs in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while WHL clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October.” . . . The original plan was to have teams in each conference playing only within their conferences in 2021-22. That plan remains in place for the 12 Eastern Conference teams. . . . As things now stand, the U.S. and B.C. division teams will play within their divisions until Nov. 3 when the Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to visit the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Unless COVID-19 decides otherwise, of course. . . . Fans of the 10 Western Conference teams are advised to consult online schedules for changes that have been made. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that the changes mean the Vancouver Giants, who were to have opened against the host Victoria Royals on Oct. 2, now will start their season in Kelowna against the Rockets on Oct. 1. But the Giants still are to play in Victoria on Oct. 2. No, they aren’t likely to fly from the Little Apple to B.C.’s capital. . . .

Another result of these changes is that the Royals and Prince George Cougars will play six straight games against each other. They are to meet Oct. 16 and 17 in Prince George, Oct. 22 and 23 in Victoria, and Oct. 26 and 27 back in Prince George.


Genetics


The Kamloops Blazers cancelled a pair of home-ice exhibition games, while Kamloopsscheduling another one in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Interior Health, which covers Kamloops, won’t allow more than 50 fans to attend indoor events. Northern Health, which governs Prince George, will allow teams to play in front of crowds that are 50 per cent of capacity. . . . Why the difference? How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar? . . . Anyway, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told Radio NL in Kamloops that “this is why we’re bringing in the vaccine card. So that if we’re going to Blazer games — and there will be people going to Blazer games this year — will be able to do so safely. Knowing that everyone in the rink is vaccinated . . . vaccine cards don’t stop people from doing things, they enable people to do things.” . . . It all means that the Victoria Royals won’t play in Kamloops on Sept. 15, and the Cougars won’t visit on Sept. 17. . . . The Blazers, however, will play in Prince George on Sept. 15. Kamloops also will play in Prince George on Sept. 18 in a game that was on the original exhibition schedule.


Bugs


The BCHL also has had to adjust its schedule in the hopes of having the bchlWenatchee, Wash., Wild play a complete season after sitting out what there was of a 2020-21 regular season. . . . The Wild is the BCHL’s only American franchise. . . . The league announced Wednesday that because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel going north, the Wild will play only road games “in the early part of the season.” That means its four scheduled October home games have been dropped, hopefully to be rescheduled later in the season. . . . The Wild will open the season on Oct. 9 in Penticton against the Vees. It then will play five more road games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30 and two in Vernon against the Vipers on Nov. 5 and 6. The Wild now is scheduled to play its home-opener on Nov. 12 against the West Kelowna Warriors. . . . “The BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force continues to investigate solutions if the land border remains closed beyond October,” the league said in a news release.


It was precisely the issue with the border that resulted in the junior B Spokane kijhlBraves pulling out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for a second straight season. . . . If you’re a regular here, you will recall a piece I posted here on Aug. 29 that included snippets of a conversation between Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets. In that conversation, Hamilton said that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” He added: “To have our team travel (to the U.S.), we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.” . . . Taking Note was told that KIJHL teams weren’t about to pay that kind of money to go south, and that contributed in large part to the Braves’ decision. . . . You can bet that expense will impact WHL and BCHL teams, too, if the U.S. chooses not to open the border to Canadians for non-essential travel over the next two or three months.


FiveGuys


Former Brandon Wheat Kings D Don Dietrich, who died earlier this year at 59, is Brandonto have a street in the Wheat City named after him. City Council has voted unanimously to honour Dietrich by naming a street in the Bellafield development after him. . . . Dietrich was from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He spent three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1978-81), playing on a WHL championship team in 1978-79 and captaining the club in 1980-81. . . . According to the Brandon Sun, Coun. Shawn Berry said: “This was a man who through his life battled cancer twice and Parkinson’s disease most of his life from 30 on, and never once felt pity or sorry for himself. He went back to his hometown, gave back to the community, started a breakfast program for kids to come out and learn hockey before school started on his own time. . . . He left us way too young, but even through he wasn’t a Brandon boy, Don’s legacy in Westman is well known and I know the short time he was in Brandon here he was very well respected.” . . . Brandon also is home to other streets named after former Wheat Kings, including forwards Ray Allison, Laurie Boschman, Ron Chipperfield, Bill Fairbairn and Ray Ferraro, and G Glen Hanlon. . . . Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a street named after the late Brad McCrimmon. Perhaps the City of Brandon is preparing to name its next new development after the McCrimmon brothers, Brad and Kelly.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Señor Froggy Restaurant, which has two FroggyKamloops locations. . . . Ownership is closing both restaurants from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 for “a mental health break.”

“We’re all exhausted. Staff and owners alike,” management posted on social media. “Something critically important to our local business is putting our people first. So as we ease into fall and before the rush of school fundraiser lunches begins, we are practising what we believe in and will be closing for a one-week ‘mental health break.’

“This decision was made with the input and support of our team. (Don’t worry — we are taking care of our staff to thank them and ensure time off doesn’t impact their ability to pay their bills.)

“We know this temporary closure may inconvenience some and for that, we apologize and hope you’ll come back when we re-open.”

No apology necessary, and we’ll see y’all when you get back.




JUST NOTES — With the NFL regular season scheduled to open tonight (Thursday), I believe that only three teams — the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks — have told fans they will have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to be admitted to games. . . . It’s Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener. Are you aware that Brady is 44 years of age? . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Swedish G Jesper Vikman, 19, has arrived in Vancouver and will be with the Giants until Tuesday when he heads to camp with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He is expected back with the Giants before Oct. 1, however. According to Ewen, the Giants still expect to see Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, and Slovak D Marko Stacha, 19, who was with them last season, in camp. Yes, WHL teams may keep only two imports. . . .

According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Donnie and Dhali Show, D Viktor Persson, a draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks who will be 20 this season, “will be flying into Kamloops next week.” . . . The Kelowna Rockets have added to their staff by signing Quintin Laing as an assistant coach. Laing, now 42, played 260 regular-season games over four seasons (1996-2000) with the Rockets. Of late, he has been coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, something he will continue to do. With the Rockets, Laing will work with head coach Kris Mallette, assistant Josh MacNevin and goaltending coach Adam Brown.


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.


Unvaxxed

Lightning strikes twice in two years for ex-WHLers . . . Raiders sign import goalie . . . Horrible day for Roughriders

Vaccine



A brief weather-related note: As we were driving into Kamloops early this afternoon, the temperature was 31C. . . . That is 16 degrees higher than what it was at 2 a.m. . . . It also is 16 degrees ‘cooler’ than what it was here on June 29. . . . Is this a great time to be alive, or what?


Grant Armstrong has added a couple of rings to his haberdashery since leaving the WHL. Armstrong and his wife, Lezlie, were in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night to celebrate with the Lightning as they won their second consecutive Stanley Cup. . . . “I’m a little weary because it was a late night,” he told Tom Zillich of the Surrey Now-Leader on Thursday, “but well worth it. It’s special.” . . . Zillich’s complete story is right here. . . . Armstrong was with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons (2007-12) and the Victoria Royals for three (2013-16) before working for the Brandon Wheat Kings for three seasons (2016-19) as general manager. . . . He has been scouting for the Lightning for two seasons and, yes, he now has two Stanley Cup rings. . . .

Also on Tampa Bay’s scouting staff is Josh Dye, a former Portland scout who has been with the Lightning for two seasons, meaning that he, too, has a pair of rings. Dye scouted for Portland from 2006-13 before spending three years with Newport Sports Management Inc. He returned to Portland prior to the 2016-17 season as the team’s U.S. and European scout. . . .

And let’s not forget Jason Berger, the Lightning’’s assistant equipment manager. Berger spent four seasons (2007-11) with the Seattle Thunderbirds as their equipment manager. He just completed his fourth season with the Lightning.

——

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s front office also includes two former WHL players — Jamie Pushor and Stacy Roest. . . . Pushor is assistant general manager, director of player personnel. Pushor played 204 regular-season games over five seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He has been with the Lightning for 10 seasons now. . . . Roest, the Lightning’s assistant general manager, director of player development, played four full seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He has been with the Lightning for eight seasons; he also is the general manager of Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Roest’s son, Austin, is a 17-year-old forward preparing for his second season with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.


History


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed G Tikhon Chayka of Belarus, who was Raiderspicked in the CHL’s 2001 import draft. . . . Chayka, who turns 18 on Aug. 26, got into three games with Belarus at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas, going 2-1-0, 2.67, .911. . . . In 29 appearances with Team Belarus in a junior league there, he was 3.60, .870. . . . The Raiders didn’t have any imports on their roster in the Regina hub earlier this year. They finished the 2019-20 season with three on their roster — F Daniil Stepanov, now 20, of Belarus; F Aliaksei Protas, now 20, also of Belarus; and F Ivan Kechkin, now 19, of Russia.


Martyr


The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders haven’t opened training camp — that happens on Saturday — but they lost four players to torn Achilles injuries on Thursday as they worked out at Mosaic Stadium in preparation for things getting serious. DE Freddie Bishop, MLB Larry Dean, RB Jonathan Femi-Cole and DB Nelson Lokombo all went down in a matter of minutes. General manager Jeremy O’Day told reporters that he expects all four to be out long-term. . . . Bishop and Dean were projected as starters after signing in February. . . . “It wasn’t a competitive drill by any means,” O’Day told reporters. “It happened close enough that while one trainer was dealing with one, then another trainer was dealing with another.” . . . Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post has more 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.


JUST NOTES: Barry Wolff has signed a two-year contract extension with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. According to a team news release, the contract contains “an option for a third year if he chooses.” Wolff is heading into his fourth season with the junior A team. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted on Wednesday that “longtime Vancouver Giants equipment manager Shingo Sasaki has left the club for a post with the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL team in Abbotsford.” . . .

Scott Burt, a former WHL player and assistant coach, has signed on as head coach and director of hockey operations with the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Burt spent 2019-20 as an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads. Burt, 44, played three seasons (1995-98) in the WHL, suiting up with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. He later spent six seasons (2013-19) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Jackson Playfair has joined the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team as a full-time assistant coach. Playfair, 27, played in the WHL for three seasons (2012-15) with the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans before going on to spend four seasons at Dalhousie U. His father, Jim, also a former WHL player, is an associate coach with the Edmonton Oilers. . . .

USA Hockey has added F Cross Hanas of the Portland Winterhawks to the roster for the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., from July 24-31. Hanas, a draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, is the only WHL player on the 44-man roster. . . . Matt Bardsley, who spent the previous three seasons as the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager, has joined the Philadelphia Flyers as an amateur scout. He left the Blazers with three years left on his contract, saying that he wanted to get his family back to the U.S. He will spend most of his scouting time working WHL games out of Portland. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice will have a new play-by-play voice following the resignation of Mitch Peacock, who had been its manager, broadcast and communications. He handled the play-by-play for each of the previous two seasons. . . . Hockey Canada has invited 45 players, 17 of them from the WHL, to it U-18 summer development that is scheduled for the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina National near Calgary, from July 25 through Aug. 4. The six-man coaching staff includes three WHL head coaches — Brent Kisio (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Brad Lauer (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dennis Williams (Everett Silvertips). There’s more right here.


Soccerplayer

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering about the (mis-)state of NHL officiating . . .

Scattershooting2


Had you suggested to me in January that I would have two shots of Pfizer in me by now, I would have told you that you were nuts. But that’s the case. I got Pfizer’d for a second time on Saturday, 10 days after Dorothy got her second dose. . . . We got all four of our shots at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops and, let me tell you, the operation there was running like a a well-oiled machine. On Saturday afternoon, I had a 2:15 appointment. I walked in the door at 2 o’clock. Got my shot at 2:06. Was on my way out the door at 2:21.

——

On the way home, I made one stop, ducking into a small grocery store to get some plastic utensils. You know . . . just in case.


Here are a few notes of interest from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, from a piece on the website on Tuesday: “In the 2016 season, there were 3,294 more hits than strikeouts in the majors. By 2018, strikeouts had narrowly overtaken hits. And if the 2021 numbers continue at the current rates, there will be about 5,200 more strikeouts than hits this season.” . . . Yes, MLB has a problem.


It was with some interest that I noticed Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, WHL2was given a three-year contract extension by the board of governors the other day, and that the pooh-bahs had voted unanimously in favour of it. He has been in his office for 21 years, which is as long as Ed Chynoweth ruled the league, albeit in two separate stints. Interestingly, I don’t ever recall Chynoweth having unanimous support when it came time for a new deal. . . . In fact, I can remember one time, in March of 1976, when Chynoweth actually offered up his resignation. “It isn’t a play for money,” he said. “It is simply that there is too much hassle. It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I go to the airport and fly to Flin Flon.” . . . No, his offer wasn’t accepted.


Time out. My ears are ringing. I just gotta answer this one. It might be an incoming call from Bill Gates. Be right back . . . Ahh, it was only another coal train — or maybe it was an oil train — on the CP mainline across the river.


Wed


First it was Dominique Ducharme, the Montreal Canadiens’ interim head coach, nhl2testing positive for COVID-19, while every other team member has come up negative. . . . And then word came on Sunday that Kelly McCrimmon, the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, also has tested positive and is in self-isolation in Montreal. Apparently, no other team member has tested positive. . . . How does it happen that only one person in a team situation like this tests positive? Or is this all of this just an example of COVID-19’s quirky sense of humour? . . . BTW, that fourth Wheat Kings goaltender in the tweet at the top of this post is actually D Ryan Pulock, now of the New York Islanders. He made a game-saving stop on Saturday as the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . When McCrimmon was running the Wheat Kings, he drafted Pulock and helped turn him into the player he is today. McCrimmon, of course, also has had a thing or two to do with putting together the Golden Knights. What this means is that McCrimmon could end up having something to do with two teams reaching the NHL final.


A lot will be said and written about Kevin Durant’s airball at the conclusion of Saturday night’s Milwaukee Bucks’ OT victory over the New Jersey Nets. But not enough will be said and written about the defence provided by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday on the play. He was on Durant like you’re supposed to be and he did it within the rules. . . . BTW, Durant played all 53 minutes. He was 0-for-6 from the field in the OT period. Might his legs have left him?

——

It was Herb Brooks who told his 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that “the legs feed the wolf.” That might well have been proven on Saturday night when the Nets didn’t eat.


In mentioning here last week that the WHL’s board of governors had scrubbed Vancouverinter-conference play at least for 2021-22, I suggested that it likely was done in an effort to cut costs because teams haven’t had any revenue coming since mid-March of 2019. . . . Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, doesn’t see it that way. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Toigo balked at the idea that cost-cutting was the main factor in the league’s decision to do away with these road trips for a season. He says that it’s more about extended travel coming out of these COVID-19 times.” . . . Ewen then quoted Toigo as saying: “I think you want to do what you know you can count on being able to do. I think it’s logistical more than anything. We’re going to do more games with the U.S. teams. There’s good teams in the U.S. The more you see them, the more intense the games get, and the better the rivalries get.”


A NBA-related note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “A Twitter pal said ‘John Stockton’s stupidity has jinxed the Jazz.’ Hey, as good an explanation as any how a No. 1 seed with a 22-point lead against the Kawhi-less Clippers could not only blow a lead but lose by 12.” . . . She added: “For those who missed it, Stockton appeared in an anti-vaccine video.”


Sharks


Things I wonder about at 3 in the morning . . . How is the WHL going to deal with league and team officials, on-ice officials and players in regards to vaccinations in the lead-up to and during the 2021-22 season? . . . What if the Toronto Blue Jays had a bullpen? . . . How is construction on that new arena that is to house the Winnipeg Ice coming along? Will it be done in time for the 2021-22 season? . . . What’s happening with the lease-related lawsuit the City of Cranbrook filed against the WHL and the Ice’s owners in January? . . . Is it time for the NHL to go back to having one referee on the ice? Or maybe games  should play without any as they seemed to be doing for much of Sunday’s game between Vegas and host Montreal. Either way, the two-man system just doesn’t seem to be doing the job, does it? . . . More than two months have passed us by since the BCHL confirmed that it was leaving the umbrella of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. When will it let the world in on its plans for the immediate future?


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Man gets away with murder after eyewitness turns out to be NHL referee.


On Thursday, Brazil’s health ministry said there had been 66 positive tests among people involved with the Copa America soccer tournament. By Friday, that number had grown to 82. . . . Gee, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to move the tournament into one of the world’s hotspots? . . . Don’t forget that tournament organizers had said that it would be “the safest sporting event in the world.”

——

Soccer’s World Cup is to be decided in Qatar in 2022 and the country’s government has announced that spectators will have to have been vaccinated in order to be admitted to venues. . . . To date, Qatar has experienced 220,800 positive tests and 585 deaths. . . . The World Cup is scheduled to open on Nov. 21, 2022.


Look, everyone knows that baseball is full of enough numbers to choke a calculator. But this from Dan Shulman, the sometimes voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, about blew me away: “On the heels of (Saturday’s) nine-pitch AB, how about this — Bo Bichette has fouled off 278 pitches this season, more than anyone in baseball . . .” So that got me to wondering if there’s a post-season award for that?


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.


Confucius

OHL sets opening date, while WHL has some legitimate questions . . . Yankees, Phillies have COVID-19 issues . . . Hulak running back to Saskatoon

Parachute


When you’re trying to figure out who are the powerbrokers in the WHL, you have to know that Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, is among the select few.

He was been a WHL owner since 1991 when he purchased the Tri-City WHL2Americans. He sold that franchise in 2000 and has been the Giants’ majority owner since he paid $2 million for an expansion team and got it on the ice for the 2001-02 season.

The point being that if you’re a WHL fan, you should be paying attention when Toigo speaks, as he did last week in an interview with Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.

This particular Ewen story dealt primarily with Toigo’s reaction to having the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, into the Abbotsford Centre, which is 34 km east of the Langley Events Centre, the facility the Giants call home.

However, it sounded like Toigo had a lot more on his mind concerning the 2021-22 season than having an AHL team nearby.

“Are people going to be allowed to come to games?” Toigo said as he looked ahead a few months. “If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”

If this is what’s on Toigo’s mind, you can bet that this is the kind of conversation that has been happening whenever the WHL’s board of governors — or even the executive committee that includes Toigo — have hooked up for a meeting.

In other words, WHL teams are well aware that they may not be able to open the doors and invite everyone in come October.

The best quote I have seen recently on what’s ahead for all of us came from Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees’ ace right-hander.

“I don’t think this is going to be over for a few years,” he said one day last week. “I think we’re going to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. Every time these things come up, we’re gonna have to adapt and learn as a species. So, well, we’re gonna take it one step at a time and do the best we can with it.”

I would suggest that is exactly what the WHL and its teams will be doing — one step at a time and doing the best they can under the circumstances.


BettyWhite


The OHL, which wasn’t able to get in any games in a 2020-21 season that it ohlultimately cancelled on April 20, announced on Thursday that its 2021-22 regular season will open on Oct. 7. . . . Training camps are to open on Sept. 4. The schedule, which hasn’t yet been revealed, will call for each team to play 68 games, with playoffs to begin on April 7 and run through May 30. . . . The OHL release has the Memorial Cup, which is to be held in a QMJHL city yet to be named, running from June 2-12.

Here’s hoping that the OHL is able to meet these dates, which would mean that the WHL would be able to start up about the same time. However, that fly on the wall in the OHL office actually was the virus in disguise. “Hmm,” it buzzed. “We’ll see . . .”



The New York Yankees have reported eight positive tests among players, coaches and support staff. That includes one player — SS Gleyber Torres, who went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Thursday. Torres, who had tested positive during the offseason, has been fully vaccinated, as have each of the other seven people who tested positive. They all were given the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. . . . All eight of them are asymptomatic. That includes pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin, who had symptoms early on, first-base coach Reggie Willits and four members of the travelling staff. All are quarantining  in Tampa. . . . Yankees GM Brian Cashman said: “The one thing I take from this is that the vaccines are working. . . . It will save you and protect you from a lot more than what you think.” . . .

The Philadelphia Phillies have placed C J.T. Realmuto on the COVID-19 protocol list after her reported a stomach ache and fever on Wednesday night. He was tested for COVID-19 and was found to be negative. But he didn’t travel with the team to Florida on Thursday. . . .

Meanwhile, Bill Maher, the host of Real Time With Bill Maher, has tested positive, forcing cancellation of this week’s taping. Maher, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive during weekly staff testing. He was reported Thursday to be asymptomatic.


——

Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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: Derek Hulak has returned to the U of Saskatchewan, where he spent four seasons (2010-14) as a player, to work as an assistant coach with the Huskies under head coach Mike Babcock. Hulak also spent four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL, the first 19 games with the Regina Pats and the remainder with the Saskatoon Blades. Hulak, a 31-year-old native of Saskatoon, announced his retirement after playing eight games this season with HC Thurgau of the Swiss League.


Octopi

Toigo and Giants ready for AHL challenge . . . Canada, Russia on to U18 final . . . Jarvis fills hat for Portland


Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, says his Vancouverfranchise is more than ready to deal with having a bit more competition should the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, to the Abbotsford Centre. . . . The Canucks said Tuesday that they intend to move the Comets, that they are negotiating with the City of Abbotsford, and that the AHL’s board of governors is expected to vote on the move during a meeting today. . . . The Giants play out of the Langley Events Centre, which is 34 km west of the Abbotsford Centre. . . . “It’s no different than the restaurant business, where a guy can open another restaurant just down the street,” Toigo, whose family owns the White Spot restaurant chain, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “It’s competition and I think that’s a healthy thing. It keeps everyone on their toes. It gets rid of complacency. It’s going to be more of a challenge. At end of the day, I think we’ll be fine.” . . .

Toigo also pointed out that with the pandemic still running amok, there still are a whole lot of unanswered questions with the start of the 2021-22 season hopefully around five months away.

As Toigo told Ewen: “Are people going to be allowed to come to games? If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”

Ewen’s complete story is right here.



F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats scored three times on Wednesday as Team U18Canada dropped Sweden, 8-1, in one semifinal game at the IIHF U18 World championship in Frisco, Texas. . . . Canada had beaten Sweden, 12-1, in a round-robin game. . . . In the other semifinal, Russia edged Finland, 6-5. . . . Canada will meet Russia for the gold medal today (6 p.m. PT, TSN). . . . That means it will be Bedard against Russian F Michkov Matvei, 16, who leads the tournament with 11 goals. Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Matvei also shares the points lead, at 13, with teammate Nikita Chibrikov. Matvei had one goal last night, while Chibrikov, the team captain, scored twice and added an assist. . . . Bedard has 12 points, including six goals, in Canada’s six games. He put up five goals and three assists in his last two games; he had two goals and three assists in a 10-3 victory over Czech Republic in a Monday quarterfinal game. . . . Bedard also is two points shy of F Connor McDavid’s output as a 15-year-old in the 2013 tournament in Sochi, Russia. McDavid had a tournament-high 14 points, eight of them goals, in seven games. . . . This will be only the second time in the U18 event’s history that Canada and Russia have met in the final. In 2008 in Kazan, Russia,, Canada beat Russia, 8-0. Team Canada’s head coach? Pat Quinn.


Stuffing


The WHL’s 2021 developmental season is into its final days. In fact, there are only seven days remaining with 12 teams — two in Alberta, five in B.C., five in the U.S. — scheduled to play 17 games before it’s over. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers will conclude their seasons tonight. . . .  There were three games on Wednesday night. . . .

In Kamloops, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots to lead the Prince George PGCougars to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars (9-7-3) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Giants (10-9-0) have lost two in a row. . . . The Cougars moved past the Giants into second place in the B.C. Division. . . . Vancouver’s loss also means that the idle Kamloops Blazers (14-4-0) will finish with more points than any of the other four B.C. teams. The idle Kelowna Rockets (8-3-1), however, are still able to finish higher by way of points percentage — with each team having four games to play Kamloops is at .778 with Kelowna at .708. The WHL ruled that first place in this developmental season will be decided by points percentage because of the difference in games played. . . . The Blazers and Rockets will meet once more, in Kelowna on Monday. . . . Last night, F Koehn Ziemmer scored the Cougars’ first two goals, at 4:36 and 17:31 of the second period. He’s got nine goals, five of them over his past three games. . . . F Tyson Upper (5) got the empty-netter. . . . Gauthier, making his 150th regular-season appearance, earned his first shutout this season and No. 6 for his career. This season, he is 7-6-0, 2.70, .917. . . . Vancouver G Drew Sim made 13 saves. . . . The Cougars were able to dress only 11 forwards and five defencemen, tweeting before the game that “the hub is taking its toll.” . . . D Jack Sander, the Cougars’ captain, played in his 200th regular-season game. . . .

F Gage Goncalves scored the only goal of a shootout to give the host Everett EverettSilvertips a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (17-4-0) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle now is 8-12-0. . . . Seattle held 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second period. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon scored first, at 4:49 of the first period, with F Henry Rybinski (5), who also had two assists, making it 2-0 at 1:06 of the second. . . . F Austin Roest (3) scored for Seattle at 9:43. . . . Jeri-Leon made it 3-1 with his 15th goal at 11:02. . . . The Silvertips tied it on second-period goals from F Jackson Berezowski (6), at 16:48, and Goncalves (12), on a PP at 18:19. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for Everett, four fewer than Seattle’s Berry Jackson. . . .

F Seth Jarvis scored three times as the visiting Portland Winterhawks beat the PortlandAlternateTri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . The Winterhawks improved to 10-8-3. . . . The Americans (7-9-0) had won their previous two games. . . . D Marc Lajoie (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into the game. . . . Portland then struck for five first-period goals — two from Jarvis, two from F Mason Mannek, who has 10, and one from F Simon Knak. . . . Jarvis completed his second hat trick of the season at 18:47 of the second period when a shot by F Jack O’Brien went in off one of his legs. . . . Knak (14) got his second goal of the night in the third period. . . . F Nick Bowman (3) had Tri-City’s other goal. . . . Tri-City D Lukas Dragicevic, the fourth overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, picked up an assist on Bowman’s goal. It was Dragicevic’s first WHL point and came in his fifth game. He’s only 108 points behind his father, Milan, who put up 109 points, 34 of them goals, in 240 games split between the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90). . . . Tri-City scratched D Luke Zazula, its captain, presumably with an undisclosed injury.



Bologna


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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: Brent Hughes has joined the junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League as head coach. Hughes 55, played four seasons in the WHL (1983-87, New Westminster Bruins, Victoria Cougars) before going on to a pro career that included 357 NHL games. He takes over the Flames from Bayne Ryshak, who was dropped after last season. . . . The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Braden Malsbury as their director of marketing, communications and broadcasting. According to a news release, he “will oversee the team’s marketing and communications effort. He also will return to the broadcast booth for his ninth season of calling games in the SJHL.” He had been the radio voice of the Ice Wolves for MBC Radio until being laid off on March 29.


Cheerio

Rockets dinged by positive test . . . Brandon to get hockey academy, rink . . . P.A. moves closer to three new arenas

Someone within the Kelowna Rockets organization has tested positive for RocketsCOVID-19, with one other individual identified as a close contact. The WHL announced Thursday that “the positive test result was discovered during the initial return-to-play testing phase.” . . . That means that person will self-isolate, as will the person who was found to be a close contact. . . . The Rockets hadn’t yet moved into team activities, so at this point their schedule won’t feel any impact from these positive tests. . . . The Rockets and Victoria Royals are headquartered in Kelowna as the five B.C. Division teams prepare for a return to play. The Rockets’ players are with billets, while the Royals are staying in a hotel owned by the GSL Group, which also owns the WHL team. . . . The Royals and Rockets are scheduled to meet in Kelowna on March 26 in the division’s first game of the developmental season. At this point, the Rockets’ schedule hasn’t needed to be changed. . . .

The three other B.C. teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants — are centred in Kamloops. The Blazers are with billets; the Cougars and Giants are in a hotel owned by Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . The Blazers, Cougars and Giants have been cleared to begin skating and, in fact, were on the ice for the first time in Kamloops last night. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted Thursday that Giants F Cole Shepard has an undisclosed injury and that GM Barclay Parneta has said Shepard, 19, isn’t likely to play in this 24-game set. Shepard has 11 goals and 18 assists in 2019-20 after having hip surgery in May 2019. That was his first season with Vancouver after playing with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.


Ladder


F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks was tied for the AHL scoring lead with 11 points in nine games when he had to leave the Chicago Wolves, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers had seven points in nine games with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, when he had to leave, too.

Obviously, both were doing just fine in their first tastes of pro hockey. But under the terms of the NHL-CHL agreement (aka the pro-junior agreement) Jarvis and Zary had to return to their WHL clubs. Drafted players under the age of 20 have two options — play in the NHL or return to major junior.

However, there could be interesting times ahead for that agreement, which expired after the 2019-20 season, but was extended for a year because of the pandemic.

There long has been a feeling among NHL executives and scouts that exceptional 18- and 19-year-old players should be allowed to play in the AHL once they are seen as having nothing left to prove in major junior. At the same time, major junior operators don’t want anything to do with such exceptions because they don’t want to prematurely lose their best players.

This is going to be worth watching over the next while.

Frank Seravalli has a whole lot more on this situation right here.


Drivers


Jared Jacobson isn’t about to let the ice melt under his feet. The new owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings — he purchased the WHL team from Kelly McCrimmon in September — is building a new ice surface in Brandon and also will open a hockey academy in the city. . . . Jacobson is CEO and president of the Jacobson and Greiner Group of Companies. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun reports that the new facility that will be home to the Western Canadian Hockey Academy “will include a National Hockey League-sized ice surface, three shooting bays on ice, a performance centre, middle-years classroom, six-lane 100-metre track and on-ice video training.” . . . Jacobson is hopeful that this will do something to keep younger hockey players at home longer. As he told Bergson: “For me it’s about developing players and keeping people in the centres they grew up in. Time flies by for families, and I just look at when kids are 12, 13, 14, it’s tough to leave home . . . I just wanted to look at a hybrid model to help the mid-market centres keep kids if they want to have another choice in their years of hockey to stay local and develop. I think it’s just a great fit, and it’s been well received by Hockey Brandon. I’m so happy for that because we wanted to create an opportunity, not a conflict.” . . . Players who attend WCHA will play for their minor hockey teams. The academy will ice teams — the Wolves — in the spring. . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


Hey, who knew that Saskatchewan was a province of such riches?

No sooner had I wondered here yesterday whether Regina or Saskatoon would be the first city with a new arena than I received a note informing me that “you forgot the third entry in the race: PA. They might even be in the lead.”

Yes, it’s true. And, yes, Prince Albert is in the lead. And it isn’t close!

Prince Albert is working towards a facility that will include three arenas — one with 4,500 seats and two others, each with an NHL-sized ice surface and perhaps 800 seats. Also included will be an aquatic centre with wave pool, water slides and a whole lot more.

That is Phase 1 of the project, and it might be ready late in 2023.

Phase 2 will include a new home for the WHL’s Raiders, with 20 corporate boxes and a banquet room. Opening date? Sometime in 2024.

The total cost is likely to run around $140 million.

Work already has started on getting the site ready for construction, which is to begin late this fall.

Now back to Saskatchewan and all that money . . .

You will recall that Regina now is home to Mosaic Stadium, a football facility that opened in 2017 and cost in the neighbourhood of $278 million. . . . And let’s not forget Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw that opened in 2011 — yes, it already has been almost 10 years — and cost $61.2 million to build.

Hey, Swift Current, are you getting in on this, too?


Toby Boulet sees the contradiction and, seriously, it’s hard not to. While the Alberta government studies a private member’s bill that would raise some speed limits to 120 km/h from 110 km/h, another private member’s bill that would promote organ and tissue donation didnn’t make the cut so won’t get to the floor this spring. . . . In fact, as Boulet said, “It’s not going to happen for a long, long time.” . . . Unfortunately. . . . Yes, one bill is certain to lead to more accidents and deaths, while the other would save lives, providing people with the opportunity to enjoy extended lives. . . . Boulet has been a leading proponent for organ donation in Western Canada since his son, Logan, died as a result of the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos on April 6, 2018. Logan had registered as an organ donor and his organs went to six people. . . . Colette Derworiz of The Canadian Press has more on this story right here.


The AJHL announced Thursday night that it has “completed a fourth round of testing in its return-to-play plan with no positive COVID-19 results across 391 players and staff.” . . . There have been 1,532 tests conducted to day and the weekly tests will continue through the end of the season.


The QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar had two players come up positive on Thursday, so the team has had to pull out of a protected environment event — that’s what the league calls its scheduled events where three or four teams play in one city — that was to run in Sherbrooke from March 19-24. The Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Sherbrooke Phoenix now will play each other four times over that stretch. . . . Meanwhile, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will be without general manager/head coach Mario Pouliot indefinitely after he suffered a heart attack. Brad Yetman has taken over as the interim head coach.


Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 622 cases of #COVID19 announced in B.C. today, as the province is now at its highest rolling average of new cases since January 12. . . . Hospitalizations up to 286, a 32% increase in one month. . . . Eight new deaths.

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CBC News — Alberta reports 505 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. The province has identified 91 new variant of concern cases which account for 12% of all active cases.


March Madness got rolling in Indianapolis with play-in games on Thursday, but it is without six game officials who were to have worked the tournament. One of them tested positive and contact tracing impacted the other five. . . . The NCAA had four other officials on standby, so those four now are in the regular rotation.



The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have met the visiting Rochester Americans tonight (Friday), however the game has been postponed. According to the league, the move was made due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Comets, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. In this pandemic season, the Canucks also are sharing the Comets with the St. Louis Blues.




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: The Northern Alberta Xtreme announced Thursday that Adam Stuart has taken over as the head coach of the academy’s U15 team for 2021-22. He had been on the staff of the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks after working for two seasons as an assistant coach with Edge Academy’s U18 prep team. . . . Kevin Undershute, who played four WHL seasons (2004-08) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks, has signed on as an assistant coach alongside Stuart.


Wings

B.C.’s WHL, BCHL teams are looking for $9.5 million from gov’t . . . We remember Mickey Mouse Night at the Crushed Can . . . Hey, whatever happened to Doyle Potenteau?

——

Walter Gretzky would have loved this little guy’s approach to the game . . .


As the sun set on Thursday, there didn’t seem to be anything new to report on bchlthe BCHL, its 17 teams and a potential return to play. . . . During Question Period on Wednesday in Victoria, Shirley Bond, the interim leader of the B.C. Liberals and the MLA for Prince George-Valemount, asked: “Simple question, hopefully a very simple answer: Will the premier provide B.C.’s local hockey teams with the $9.5 million in funding they need to survive the hockey season? They are asking for $9.5 million so that WHL teams and B.C. Hockey League teams, like the premier’s own Victoria Grizzlies and my Prince George Spruce Kings, can survive.” . . . Premier John Horgan, the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island, replied: “There’s going to be more news about both hockey leagues. They provide an economic benefit. Certainly the WHL restart will be a bonus for Kamloops and Kelowna. But it will also be a difficult time for those teams, because outside of those two cities, they will not be having revenue coming in. We understand the issue. We’ve been working on it for a number of months. I regrettably have to say, ‘Stay tuned’ at this point.” . . . Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news obtained a letter written last week by Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, to government and health officials. In his report, Mackin wrote: “If (the) BCHL does not get the go-ahead by March 3 for the its return-to-play plan, Hebb wrote that a motion will be prepared for team owners to vote March 4 to cancel the season.” . . . Apparently, that didn’t happen on Thursday. . . .  Jay Janower of Global tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that “it’s my understanding that as of right now, league will continue to hold its vote on cancelling the season on Friday.” . . . That, of course, would be today. The waiting game continues.


Trees


It was on Feb. 25 when I wrote this:

“We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days.”

It turns out I wasn’t alone with that thought.

Steve Ewen, who covers junior hockey, the Vancouver Giants in particular, for Postmedia, wrote this on Wednesday:

“The WHL fanned on a glorious opportunity to show they believe intentions outweigh outcomes. . . .

“No one official has ruled it out, but playoffs aren’t likely. This is going to be an exhibition season. At its very best, it’s giving players something to grasp onto in the midst of this pandemic chaos. For some, it’s also a chance to show their wares for NHL teams or minor-pro clubs, or even Canadian universities moving forward.

“So why did the WHL stick to the traditional roster construction and only allow three 20-year-olds per team? Why not give teams a fourth or even a fifth 20-year-old so they can bolster the resume of some older players who have been loyal to the league in this very tricky time?”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.



What ever happened to . . . Doyle Potenteau?

Potenteau spent a lot of years at the Kelowna Daily Courier and was a regular on the WHL beat as he wrote and wrote and wrote, mostly about the Kelowna Rockets.

At one point, he started up an on-line publication — DubNation — that was all WHL all the time, and really was ahead of its time.

He left print journalism a while back — he had left sports and was the Daily Courier’s managing editor — and now is in TV with Global Okanagan out of Kelowna. That’s him in the above photo — top row, second from right.


The 2022 Arctic Winter Games have been postponed. They were to have been held in Wood Buffalo, Alta., from March 6-12, 2022. The Games that attract about 2,000 international participants normally are held every two years. The 2020 Games were to have been held in Whitehorse but were cancelled a week before opening. Organizers didn’t want a repeat of that so made the decision well in advance.



It is readily apparent that the medical profession continues to learn new things about COVID-19 as we move through this pandemic. On Thursday, there were reports about a peer-reviewed study of pro athletes returning to play after dealing with the coronavirus that found few cases of myocarditis or pericarditis. . . . Thomas Ketko of Sportsnet reported that “several professional North American sports leagues collaborated on the effort, including the NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, WNBA and MLS. A total of 789 athletes who had COVID-19 participated in the study, which took place between May and October 2020 and sought to gauge how often the leagues’ return-to-play cardiac screening techniques found instances of inflammatory heart disease.” . . . Only five of those athletes were found to have inflammation of the heart. . . . Ketko also reported that “prior studies on the risk COVID-19 poses to the heart drew more uncertain conclusions, too.” For example, one earlier study found that 60 of 100 people who had tested positive had at least some signs of myocarditis. . . . Yes, the learning continues. . . . Ketko’s complete story is right here.


Bernie Lynch, a former WHL coach (Regina Pats, 1988-89), has been suspended by the junior A Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. According to a report from CBC News, Lynch was suspended on Jan. 2 via a letter that referenced “inappropriate” emails and conduct. He also was ordered to have no further contact with the players. . . . The CBC report also notes that “more than two months later, neither the team nor the league has publicly disclosed this.” . . . According to the CBC story, “Hockey Canada says it has launched an investigation, under the guidance of Glen McCurdie, its vice-president of insurance and risk management. Yet neither the player nor his parents have been contacted. Nor, apparently, has Lynch.” . . . The entire CBC story is right here.


Hello there, ESPN. It’s been a long winter so I really have been looking forward to watching some baseball. But I have tried to watch two of your telecasts in the last few days — Cubs and Mariners, then Nationals and Mets — but have bailed on both of them. I want to watch baseball with the accompanying play-by-play and commentary, and not be subjected to a bunch of interviews over top of the play. Please stop trying to re-invent the wheel. . . . Thank you for listening!


Bacon


The IIHF’s nine-team 2021 women’s world championship that is scheduled to be held in Halifax and Truro, N.S., has been moved to May 6-16. It had been scheduled for April 7-17 in those communities. . . . The 2020 tournament was to have been held there but was cancelled. . . . The IIHF is hoping that a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend games.


Some NCAA hockey teams are dealing with virus-related issues. . . . Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) reported via Twitter on Thursday: “Merrimack won’t be able to continue with its season. Games vs. UVM (the U of Vermont) this weekend are canceled and per a source, Merrimack won’t compete in the HEA playoffs, which is scheduled to begin with the first round on Wednesday.” . . . St. Lawrence U cancelled its last four regular-season games, all of which were to have been against Clarkson. . . . Earlier, Colorado College had cancelled its final two games, both against Denver, that had been scheduled for last night (Thursday) and Saturday. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Restrictions are being loosened in Nova Scotia, meaning the province’s three QMJHL teams will be allowed to play home games again. The Halifax Mooseheads are scheduled to play at home three times in the next 10 days, while the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have one home game scheduled.



DrGoogle


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: Phil Andrews is returning as the radio voice of the Regina Pats on 620 CKRM. He had been the play-by-play voice since 2011, and took over as director of media and communications in 2016. He left that post in July and the position was filled by the hiring of Evan Daum, who will serve as the analyst on Pats’ broadcasts. CKRM will carry 19 of the club’s 24 games in the upcoming developmental season, with five weekdays games available on the station’s website. . . . The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers have signed Justin Falk as assistant general manager/assistant coach. A 32-year-old native of Snowflake, Man., Falk will work alongside GM Jeff Jeanson and head coach Kelvin Cech. Falk played in the WHL (2005-08) with the Calgary Hitmen and Spokane Chiefs before going on to a pro career that included stints with five NHL teams. He last played in 2018-19, when he spent time with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles and Belleville Senators and the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. . . . The Flyers also announced that Mike McAulay has added the director of player personnel duties to his previous job as head scout.


Pizza