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.

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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.



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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 Saturday night while waiting for the really hot weather to arrive . . .

Scattershooting2

Deck
This was the temperature in the sun on our deck on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Yes, it was in the sun. But it was still 33 C at 9:45 p.m. Oh, and it’s only supposed to get hotter from here.

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a couple of thoughts about the tacky mess in which MLB finds itself:

“Two substances I’m not sure pitchers have tried: Tar from the LaBrea Tar Pits in Los Angeles (Mastadon Mud), and lemon meringue. Or a combo.

“Why are pitchers complaining? Because they are the biggest divas in sports, with the possible exception of bullfighters. Pitchers have been allowed to drag down the pace of play by treating every pitch like it’s a 20-foot putt for the Masters’ green jacket. Let the pitchers eat some humble pie. But not lemon meringue.”



The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their annual general meeting on StampedersThursday night and announced a profit of $178,702. How did that happen in what was a pandemic-riddled season? Well, according to the team, it “had received close to $83,000 in government assistance programs, which include the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, CEBA loans and Manitoba Bridge Grants.” . . . As well, Cramer Coulthart, the team president, said that “year over year we generated approximately the same revenue, but expenses were down” $250,000. He added that “with the (season) cut short, the majority of season-ticket holders and sponsors have donated some or all of their packages back to the team. This puts us in a much better position moving forward into 2021-22 season.” . . . A year ago, at their AGM, the Stampeders announced they had lost $80,906 in the 2019-20 season, leaving them in the red to the tune of about $240,000. The profit from the 2020-21 season, then, will take a big chunk out of that debt.



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “One of these days former hero mayor Rudy Giuliani might need to borrow one of those raincoats that Wall Street guys used to throw over their heads when Giuliani was perp-walking them back in the day.”


Carts


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, which has scheduled its season-Lakersopeners for Oct. 15, announced on Friday that it has added the Okanagan Lakers to its roster of teams. The Lakers, according to a news release, “are an independent collegiate team based in Kelowna and consisting of student-athletes from both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.” . . . Earlier, the Lakers had announced that Kevin Bathurst would be their first head coach. . . . With the Selkirk College Saints having ceased operations in March, the addition of the Lakers brings the BCIHL back up to five teams. . . . Like so many other leagues, the BCIHL didn’t play in 2020-21. The plan for 2021-22 is to have each team play 12 regular-season games with a four-game provincial championship to follow. The BCIHL will return to a 24-game schedule for 2022-23. . . . Chris Munshaw, the BCIHL’s president, also said that the league continues to look to expand. . . . The news release is right here.


In perhaps the poorest decision in the sporting world in 2021, MLB has decided that players in the All-Star Game no longer will wear their team uniforms as they have for years and years. . . . Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Isn’t it cool to see players wearing their own uniforms at the All-Star Game? It was a perennial treasure for the baseball-card companies, able to line up superstar pairings rarely seen, and I immediately think back to the Topps card ‘Managers’ Dream,’ showing Mickey Mantle alongside Willie Mays in 1962. It’s a big part of the charm for fans as the stars maintain their team identity. Well, MLB is all done with that. Players will be wearing homogeneous, corporate-looking jerseys — that’s right, during this year’s game in Denver — and everyone will look the same. Is that Buster Posey or Max Muncy? From a certain angle, maybe you’re not quite sure. Can you imagine anyone actually thinking this is a good idea?”


Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe, notes: “Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso was arrested Wednesday in Texas for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Silly man. Pot is legal in Los Angeles. In Texas he’d have been better off carrying a couple unregistered guns.”



Noah Doherty, who played briefly in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, is one of two men charged after Calgary police said they seized more than $1 million worth of drugs. . . . Doherty, 18, is from Airdrie, Alta. A defenceman, he was pointless in three games with the KIJHL’s Fernie Ghostriders in 2020-21. . . . According to a news release, Calgary police acted on two search warrants and “seized more than 11,000 grams of fentanyl, nearly 500 grams of methamphetamine, 200 grams of cocaine, 87 Oxycodone pills, along with smaller amounts of heroin, crack cocaine, and other unknown substances. The total street value of the drugs seized is estimated to be $1.187 million.” . . . Also charged was Justin Fedoruk, 21, who is from Airdrie. . . . Fedoruk was to have appeared in court on Friday (June 25), with Doherty scheduled to appear on Friday (July 2).


Spiders


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: Jimmy McKnight has signed on as the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head athletic therapist. McKnight had been with the OHL’s Barrie Colts, as head athletic therapist and strength coach since the 2017-18 season. He takes over from Brian Cheeseman, who left the Oil Kings for the CFL’s Edmonton Elks. . . . Brandon Switzer is joining the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as assistant general manager and associate coach. He spent last season scouting for the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, a role with which he will continue. Prior to that he coached with the bantam AAA Brandon Wheat Kings and the Brandon AAA U17 program.


Marriage

Things are messy in Portland . . . BCHL aiming for Dec. 1 start after long training camps . . . Stampede Corral soon to fall


We are halfway through July and the Portland Winterhawks haven’t yet changed hands.

Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported on June 18 that the WHL “is optimistic that the Winterhawks will have a new owner by the end of July.”

In that story, Danzer quoted Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, as having told whlreporters: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”

If you aren’t aware, the Portland franchise has been in receivership since May 7 after owner Bill Gallacher ran into some financial difficulties. The Winterhawks had been used as part of the collateral for a Cdn $20-million loan for which a repayment deadline was missed.

However, things have changed in Portland.

Of course, there is the pandemic. Also, the city has been through seven weeks of protests and demonstrations against the treatment of Black Americans by police. There’s a lot more right here on what transpired in Portland on Thursday night.

On Friday, Oregon Public Broadcasting, in a piece that is right here, reported:

“Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.”

A WHL fan who lives in Portland emailed me . . .

“The Oregon Health Authority reported a record-high 437 new coronavirus cases and two deaths on Thursday. It’s the third consecutive week that state officials reported a record-breaking daily total, according to Oregon Live. . . .

“A headline from oregonlive.com: Federal officers respond to Portland protests with gas, munitions Thursday amid growing attention from Trump administration . . .”

Then he added: “Gregg, it is an absolute mess and disaster in Portland . . . and in Oregon. . . . Oregon — record number of COVID cases . . . hospitalizations are on their way up — it’s very sad.

“I have just gotten numb to the protests . . . downtown businesses are being crippled. No sane person wants to go down to the city after about 5 p.m.

“NOBODY would want to go near the Rose Quarter for a game these days.”

The Winterhawks play out of Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Moda Center, both of which are in the Rose Quarter.

Perhaps there might be better times to try to sell a WHL franchise in the Rose City.


Clone


The BCHL began its 2019-20 season on Sept. 6. On Friday, it announced that it “is BCHLplanning to start the 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 1, pending approval from the Provincial Health Office (PHO).” . . . Here’s Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, from a news release: “We’ve been having discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture since March around a safe return to play. The PHO has indicated to us that waiting until December gives us the best chance at ensuring we have an uninterrupted season, while also maximizing the amount of regular-season games we’ll be able to play.” . . . Teams will be allowed to open on-ice sessions on Sept. 8 — yes, almost three months before they hope to open the season. . . . The BCHL news release is right here. . . . The Nanaimo Clippers announced that “all players will be reporting” as of Sept. 8 and that teams in the Island Division will hold a tournament in October. . . .

Brian Wiebe, who covers the BCHL like fog atop the Coquihalla, posted a Q&A with Hebb.

Asked if he is “convinced that B.C. and Canada will be healthy enough for the BCHL to return to play in December,” Hebb told Wiebe: “We’re going to give the health authorities a chance to ascertain that. The problem that all of us have is that we’re not medical doctors. One of the things we’ve done a good job with at the BCHL is listening. Starting December 1 gives you a much better chance of not getting shut down because if the health authorities allow you to play in December, it’s probably a pretty good sign that they think things are under control.”

Hebb also explains how the BCHL arrived at the Dec. 1 date, how many games each team may play in the regular season, if the season could start earlier than Dec. 1, how many fans might be allowed in arenas, what teams might do with training camps that could run to three months, the possibility of the Wenatchee Wild operating out of Canada, and a whole lot more.

It’s all-encompassing and it’s right here.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders reported a loss of $80,906 at their annual general meeting on Thursday night. “The Stampeders reported a substantial loss this year, mainly due to a decrease in ticket sales, the inability to hold a spring camp, loss of playoff revenue, and fundraising falling short thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release on the team’s website. . . . There is more right here. . . . Earlier this month, Danielle Gordon-Broome of the Swan Valley Star and Times reported that the Stampeders “went into last season carrying nearly $200,000 in debt.”



Coupon


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NFL Players Association revealed on Thursday that 72 players had tested positive as of July 10. . . . Some teams will be having rookies report to training camp this weekend. . . . Nate Davis wrote in Thursday’s USA TODAY: “The league and players union still have widespread issues to resolve, including opt-out scenarios for players and numerous workplace protocols as well as COVID-19 testing procedures and even the actual number of preseason games, before football resumes in any form or fashion.” . . .

Dan Graziano of ESPN tweeted a number of the NFL’s travel rules that will be in place for this season, including no use of public or private transportation to or in other cities; no leaving hotel to go to restaurants open to public; no room visits by anyone outside the traveling party; no use of shared hotel facilities (pool, gym, etc.); masks required while traveling; buses at no more than 50 percent capacity; and at least one open seat between passengers on the plane. . . .

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NCAA president Mark Emmert had this to say on Thursday: “Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.” . . .

Here’s Pat Forde of si.com:

“There will be no college football crowds of the usual size. There might not be college football, period. Pessimism percolates as the time for solutions dwindles. We are speeding in the wrong direction as a nation in terms of combating the coronavirus pandemic, and one of the cultural casualties of American casualness is an endeavor millions of us want and every college athletic department needs.

“If the season dies, we know who had the biggest hand in killing any chance of it happening: Donald Trump.” . . . The complete column is right here. . . .

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference has suspended all intercollegiate athletics through Nov. 30, a move that affects 17 sports. A decision on the status of competition after Nov. 30 is expected to be made by Oct. 15. Simon Fraser U of Burnaby, B.C., is a member of the GNAC. . . .

The U of New Hampshire has cancelled all fall sports for its athletics teams in football, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and women’s volleyball. . . . A decision on winter sports, including hockey and basketball, is to be made at some point “in early fall,” according to the school. . . .

The West Coast Conference has shut down most of its sports until at least Sept. 24. Sports impacted are men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Not impacted, at least not yet, are men’s and women’s basketball and football. . . .

The Oregon-based four-team Wild West League, a wood-bat college-level baseball circuit in its infancy, is on hiatus for at least seven days after two players tested positive. The WWL made the announcement on Wednesday, just four days after beginning its first season. The Gresham Grey Wolves, Portland Gherkins, Portland Pickles ad West Linn Knights are the four teams in the league. . . .

The Canada West conference announced on Wednesday that it will hold championships in golf and swimming, but the cross-country championship won’t go ahead. . . . The golf championship tournament is scheduled for the Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna, Oct. 2-4, with the swimming championship to be held at the U of Calgary sometime early in 2021 rather than in November. . . .

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MLB announced nine players and one staff member tested positive in the week that ended on Thursday. MLB now has had 93 positive tests — 80 players and 13 staff members since late last month. . . . OF Austin Meadows, an all-star with the Tampa Bay Rays, is one of the players to have tested positive. . . . OF Yasiel Puig, a free agent, revealed on Friday that he has tested positive. He reportedly was on the verge of signing with the Atlanta Braves, but the positive test short-circuited that deal. . . . Twenty-eight of MLB’s 30 teams have had at least one positive test in their organization. . . .

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D Caleb Jones of the Edmonton Oilers skated with the team’s first group on Friday, then told reporters that he had tested positive, which is why had missed the first few days of training camp. He doesn’t know how or where he contracted the virus, but tested positive after arriving in Edmonton from Dallas and being tested two weeks ago. . . . Jones is one of only three NHLers whose positive tests have been made public, the others being F Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and F Jayce Hawryluk of the Ottawa Senators. . . .

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The KHL team Kunlun Red Star will play its entire 2020-21 season out of Russia. It is moving its operation to Mytishchi, about 20 km northeast of Moscow. . . . Mattias Forsblom of svenski.yle.fi reported that Kunlun and Dinamo Riga, from Latvia, were told by the KHL that they had to move to Russia because borders are closed and there aren’t any plans to open them. . . . Dinamo Minsk (Belarus), Jokerit (Finland) and Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) also operate from outside of Russia, but there haven’t yet been announcements concerning their relocation. . . . The KHL plans on starting its regular season on Sept. 2. . . .

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The Central Okanagan Minor Baseball Association suspended play on Friday because “a player within the organization has come in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.” There aren’t any confirmed cases with players or coaches, but the association has suspended activities as a precaution. . . . The association, which is based in Kelowna, covers girls’ and boys’ teams from ages five to 18.


Headline at The Onion: Jerry Jones Changes Team’s Name To Redskins Now That It’s Available.


Billy Keane is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . He spent three seasons as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues before being replaced by Gord Burnett prior to last season. Burnett signed on as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors earlier this month. . . . Keane is a brother to former WHL/NHL F Mike Keane.


Water

Canucks cancel Penticton event . . . Will NFL fans have to sign virus waivers? . . . High River team bows out

 


The Vancouver Canucks have pulled the plug on the 2020 version of the Young Stars Classic that was to have been held in Penticton, B.C., Sept. 11-15. . . . The tournament was to have featured prospects from the Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. . . .

The NBA announced on Thursday that nine of its players tested positive from June 24-29. It has acknowledged that it has had 25 players and 10 staff members test positive. . . . All told, 351 players and 884 staff have been tested. . . .

The NFL is planning on playing a complete season, although it has trimmed its exhibition season, which it hopes to to start on Aug. 20, to a pair of games per team rather than four. At the same time, the NFL really wants to have fans in attendance at its games. The Athletic has reported that the league may ask fans to sign a coronavirus liability waiver before being allowed into a stadium. As John Breech of CBS Sports explained: “By signing the waiver, fans would agree not to hold the NFL responsible if they were to catch COVID-19 while attending a game. Basically, fans would be forfeiting their right to sue the league and would be assuming all health risks that come with being in a stadium during a global pandemic.” . . .


Hornets


FC Dallas arrived at its ‘bubble’ in Orlando on Saturday and had six players test positive. . . . On Wednesday night, The Athletic reported that three more players and a coach also tested positive, although “those four results still must be confirmed by follow-up tests.” If those tests stand, Dallas FC will have had nine players and a coach test positive, all since arriving in Orlando. . . . Does this mean the ‘bubble’ already is contaminated? . . . MLS says not to worry, everything is under control. . . . Thomas Laforgia of Deadspin isn’t convinced: “Here’s the important part, which seems to have gotten lost in the league’s self-congratulatory wash: Only two of the six players tested positive on the day of the squad’s June 27 arrival. The remaining four players spent at least two days among the hotel’s general population — bound to a particular floor, but out of quarantine, in relatively close quarters with teammates. Put in practical terms? Over the next few days, more positive tests are likely to emerge in and around Disney’s ‘Swan and Dolphin‘ resort complex.”

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The Vancouver Whitecaps are to open the MLS tournament on July 9 against . . . Dallas FC. The Whitecaps were to have flown to Orlando on Wednesday but considering all that’s going on there — the Columbus Crew also have had a player who was in the ‘bubble’ test positive — they have delayed their departure. The Whitecaps also had all their players tested again on Thursday. . . . Toronto FC also has delayed its departure and head coach Greg Vanney told The Canadian Press: “There’s concern, no doubt. Because it’s showing that the bubble is not impenetrable and there are some issues that are going on. The question is how quickly can the protocols that are in place down there get things under control so it doesn’t start to spread inside of the bubble. That remains to be seen.”


Rick Pitino now is the head coach of the Iona College Gaels men’s basketball team and the Greek national men’s team . . .

 

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Boise State has trimmed US$3 million from its budget by dropping its men’s baseball and its diving and swimming programs because of the pandemic. . . . The baseball program had been revived a year ago, after a long absence, and there had been plans to build a new stadium.


If you are on Twitter, there is a good thread here . . .

 

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Meanwhile, college kids in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are throwing COVID parties. . . . “They put money in a pot, and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” Sonya McKinstry, a city councillor, told ABC News. “They’re intentionally doing it.” . . . The city is home to the U of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. . . . This gives new meaning to Roll Tide!


BusinessCard


The National Basketball Coaches Association has expressed concern that some of its members won’t be allowed to work during the NBA’s anticipated restart because of age concerns during the pandemic. However, Rick Carlisle, the association president, said Tuesday: “We’ve been assured by the league that no one will be red-flagged by the league from going to Orlando based on age alone.” . . . According to the NBA, all coaches and staff members, like the players, will be screened and tested.


 


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Dr. Harry Edwards will be nominating Colin Kaepernick for a Nobel Peace Prize. . . . And wouldn’t it be something in Kaepernick was awarded one of those and you know who doesn’t get a Noble Prize?

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Here’s part of what Dr. Edwards told Ostler: ““A Nobel nomination was always my ultimate goal for Kaepernick, not only because he deserves it, but because he would stand in representation of all of the other unsung athletes who have contributed and sacrificed so much while paving the way and priming the pump for those who would come after.”


The Heritage Junior B Hockey League has lost a second team with the news that the High River Flyers have chosen to sit out the 2020-21 season. “The 2019-20 season was already difficult financially for the club, and the pandemic still affects everyone and everything has not made things any easier,” the team said in a news release. “The main sources of fundraising . . . have all been placed on hold or potentially will be cancelled altogether, and with uncertainty around the amount of fans that will be allowed to be in the arena, along with the potential restrictions around how fans can watch the games, the team’s home-game revenue will be very much affected as well.” . . . Earlier, the Medicine Hat Cubs announced that they won’t be answering the bell for the 2020-21 season whenever that may be.

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We are starting to get a feel for other junior teams that really are feeling the pinch. The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have asked city council for financial help to the tune of about $44,000 as they try to deal with what was about $60,000 in debt before the pandemic hit. . . . Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders were around $200,000 in the hole when last season began. Yes, that figure is likely greater than that now, which is why they are about to start charging players $2,000 to play for them. . . . Danielle Gordon-Broome of the Swan Valley Star and Times has more on the Stampeders right here and how they got in this deep.


If ever you wondered how July 1 came to be known as Bobby Bonilla Day, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the story right here.


Elephant

Scattershooting on a Friday evening while wondering if it’s Christmas shopping season yet . . .

Scattershooting

“As the discussion about the cult of shinny rages on, I find it most disturbing that some opinionists are just now discovering that hockey is not for everyone.” . . . That is how Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade, began a blog posting the other day. . . . If you have been following hockey’s latest mess, and if you haven’t yet had your fill, you should give this a read. It’s good stuff — it’s nail-meet-hammer kind of stuff, and it’s right here.


IKEA


ICYMI, the Swift Current Broncos fired Jamie LeBlanc, their trainer and equipment manager, on Monday “following revelations of a recent pattern of demeaning and derogatory comments, threatening behaviour and unprofessional conduct that is inconsistent with the values of the organization and the Western Hockey League.” . . . LeBlanc, whose nickname is Butter, was in his 10th season as the Broncos’ head trainer. In November 2017, the portion of a street leading to the Innovation Credit Union iPlex’s bus door was named Butter Way. . . . On Wednesday, the Broncos hired Andrew Kutnikoff as their athletic therapist/equipment manager. A native of Prince Albert, he had been in his second season with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. . . . The North Stars now are in the hunt for an athletic therapist/equipment manager.



There was an interesting goaltending matchup in the OHL on Monday night, one that featured two former WHLers. . . . The visiting London Knights had Dylan Myskiw, 20, in goal, going against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Bailey Brkin, 19. . . . London won, 6-5 in OT. Myskiw, who is from Winnipeg, stopped 17 of 22 shots, but was replaced at 4:30 of the third period with his side down, 5-4. Brkin, from Sherwood Park, Alta., went the distance, stopping 33 shots. . . . They last had gone head-to-head on Oct. 6, 2018, when Brkin’s 28 saves helped the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who got 29 saves from Myskiw.



I paid $1.15.9 a litre when I filled up on Nov. 25. By the next day, it was $1.31.9, and it has stayed there. You can bet that Kamloops drivers are hoping for a better Christmas present than that from big oil.


English


Hey, there’s hockey in Cranbrook, only it’s not of the WHL or BCHL variety. The junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing a handful of games in Cranbrook after an ammonia chiller failure shut down the Golden and District Centennial Arena. . . . The Rockets will play at least six December home games in either Memorial Arena or Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. . . . Their home arena, affectionately known as the Plywood Palace, will be closed at least until the new year.



I’m wondering how much your father paid you when/if you scored a goal during your hockey career? Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers scored the Teddy Bear goal in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. “I told my Dad before the game, ‘I think I’m going to get it this year,’ and he kind of put a little wager on it,” Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week quoted Zary as saying. “He said he’d give me 100 bucks if I scored it. When I came off the ice, the first time I looked at my phone, I had a little e-transfer from him.” . . . Maybe I didn’t get that kind of dough because my father’s etransfer app didn’t work on his phone in 1968.


F Matt Savoie was selected by the Winnipeg Ice with the first pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. He is to turn 16 on Jan. 1. . . . It has long been said and written that 15-year-old players are limited to five WHL games while their club team still is playing. However, as Paul Friesen of Postmedia referred to the rule in September, it is a “hard and not-so-fast rule.” . . . For example, F Kirby Dach played 19 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades in 2016-17, putting up six goals and four assists. . . . In that same September piece, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Friesen about Savoie: “We’re going to be probably at least in the 30 to 35 range. That would be a high-water mark. We’re still working through what that schedule looks like. We’re going to try and maximize his games through the course of the season.” . . . That being the case, it is time for the WHL to drop the pretense and throw open its doors to all 15-year-old players. . . . Savoie, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., has two assists in his first seven games.


If you are a subscriber to The Athletic, you don’t want to miss the story about former NHLer Gene Carr, who played with the Flin Flon Bombers back in the day, that was written by Lisa Dillman and Eric Duhatschek. The story is headlined ‘New kid in town’ — How a former King met the daughter he didn’t know existed.


Doctor


There are times when junior hockey’s coaching merry-go-round seems to spin at an incredible rate. . . . See if you can follow this. . . . In May, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders signed Geoff Grimwood as general manager and head coach. You may recall that he spent some time with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors last season and has since filed a lawsuit against then-owner Kim Dobranski after being hired, fired, rehired and later fired again. . . . Anyway, Grimwood resigned from the Stampeders on Friday, saying that he needs to “take some time away from the game.” . . . Meanwhile, Barry Wolff spent last season as the GM and head coach of those same Stampeders, who reached the MJHL’s championship final. But he left to sign on as GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. They fired him nine games into his stint there. Of late, he has been helping out with the junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. On Friday, the Stampeders, who are 17-10-2, named him GM and coach, replacing Grimwood. . . . Got all that?


The WHL has to be a little nervous when it looks at the standings these days because, as Larry Fisher noted in the above tweet on Wednesday, the race(s) for playoff spots are pretty much non-existent. . . . Two of 10 teams in the Western Conference won’t make the playoffs, and those will be the Seattle Thunderbirds and Prince George Cougars. . . . The Eastern Conference drops four of its 12 teams, with the Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos already out of the picture, as they continue to pay for having gone all-in for playoff runs in recent seasons. Going into Friday games, the Moose Jaw Warriors were eight points out with five games in hand, but appear to be in seller’s mode having moved F Jadon Joseph, 20, to the Kelowna Rockets recently. The Red Deer Rebels, another team in a rebuilding stage, are six points out but the odds appear to be long. . . . It has to be a tough way to sell tickets when the fans know their favourite team is out of the playoffs in the first week of December.



JUST NOTES: Is Dak Prescott the NFL’s most over-rated quarterback? After Dallas owner Jerry Jones fires head coach Jason Garrett, should he also fire the general manager? Oh wait, Jones is the GM. . . . The Portland Winterhawks took two games from the Cougars in Prince George this week, winning 3-0 on Tuesday and 5-4 in OT on Wednesday. The same two teams are playing in Portland this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. That’s right. They are playing their entire season series in a span of six nights. . . . In case you haven’t noticed, the Carolina Hurricanes have become the NHL’s fun bunch. . . . Baseball’s winter meetings get started on Sunday through Thursday in San Diego. Are you ready for some wheeling and dealing?

Comings, goings and happenings . . . and now back to baseball and The Border

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, well, I’ve been right here. I am taking some time away from writing, just taking a break. . . . I also have cracked open The Border, the third book in author Don Winslow’s terrific trilogy about, yes, the U.S.-Mexico border and a whole lot more. So I have been spending some time with Art Keller (hey, Google is your friend). . . . If you haven’t read the trilogy, start with The Dogs of War, then move on to The Cartel. After that you’ll be ready for The Border. . . . A warning though — this stuff is gritty. . . .

Some stuff has happened over the last few days, so what follows is a summary. No, I’m not back on a daily basis. Not yet. . . . You see, I’m only halfway through The Border. . . .


MacBeth

F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Csíkszereda Miercurea Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he put up 42 goals and 43 assists in 61 games. He was tied for the league lead in goals and was second in points. . . .

D Brenden Kichton (Spokane, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga), he had eight goals and 15 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Lukáš Králík (Victoria, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Nový Jičín (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 28 games with Draci Šumperk (Czech Republic, 2. Liga), he had seven goals and four assists. . . .

D Matt Pufahl (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Everett, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had one assist in six games. He also had one goal and one assist in 26 games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . The Glasgow press release states that Pufahl will enrol in the MBA program at Glasgow Caledonian University while playing for the Clan. . . .

F Wacey Rabbit (Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 70 games. He led the team in goals and points, and was tied for the lead in assists. . . .

F Michael Burns (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-12) has signed a try-out contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). He didn’t play last season. In summer 2018, with the Sydney Bears (Australia, AIHL), he had five goals and five assists in nine games. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

F Kevin King (Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cortina (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, in 45 games with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Austin Carroll (Victoria, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 45 games. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a one-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games; he was an alternate captain. . . . He was traded to Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 26, and had five goals and four assists in 19 games. . . .

F Jim O’Brien (Seattle, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Belleville Senators (AHL), he had one goal and two assists in 11 games. . . .

F R.J. Reed (Vancouver, Prince Albert, 2010-11) has signed a one-year contract with Diez-Limburg (Germany, Regionalliga West). Last season, with the Nijmegen Devils (Netherlands, BeNeLiga), he had 33 goals and 17 assists in 19 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. He was third in the league in goals. . . .

D Brendan Mikkelson (Portland, Vancouver, 2003-07) has signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 47 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had six goals and eight assists in 47 games.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers have signed Shaun Clouston as their head coach, replacing Serge Lajoie who was one-and-done. Clouston arrives in Kamloops after spending 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was dismissed as general manager and head coach on Kamloops1May 30 so that the Tigers could bring back Willie Desjardins to fill both roles. . . . The Blazers also named co-owner Darryl Sydor an associate coach. He was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Clouston for not ducking questions about what happened in Medicine Hat. The Tigers announced his departure in a three-paragraph news release in which the team said they and Clouston “have parted ways.” . . . Clouston told reporters in Kamloops on Wednesday that he was in shock — he likened it to a “punch in the stomach” — when the Tigers dumped him. . . .

The Blazers didn’t announce any terms of their contract with Clouston, but you have to think it is at least four years in length. After all, they originally offered Kyle Gustafson a four-year deal, only to have him choose to remain with the Portland Winterhawks as associate coach and assistant GM. The offer to Gustafson was made before Clouston’s time ran out in The Hat. . . .

What makes things interesting in Kamloops is Sydor’s presence as associate coach. He also is one of the team’s five co-owners and hasn’t hidden his desire to be a WHL head coach. Sydor has never been a head coach, but has ample experience as an NHL assistant coach, having worked with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. . . .

With the Blazers having hired Clouston, it leaves the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs as the only WHL teams still searching for head coaches. . . . The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have a announced the hiring of Jim Playfair as an associate coach under head coach Dave Tippett. There continues to be speculation that Mark Lamb, presently the Cougars’ general manager, could be joining the Oilers as an assistant coach. He has a long history with Tippett.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


A couple of notes from Postmedia’s Jim Matheson:

“Connor McDavid’s junior coach Kris Knoblauch lost out for the Columbus farm team head job in Cleveland to Mike Eaves. . . . Hearing Los Angeles head coach Todd McLellan would have hired his other Oilers assistant Manny Viveiros, but there’s only room for two assistants for budgetary reasons. Viveiros is very much in running for an assistant’s job in Ottawa, though. No surprise Trent Yawney, who’ll look after L.A.’s defence, is joining McLellan again.”



I watched most of the Minnesota Twins’ 17-inning victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. One night later, Dick Bremer, the TV play-by-play voice of the Twins, passed along some interesting numbers. In a nine-inning game, he said, MLB teams will go through between six and 18 dozen baseballs. On Tuesday, in a game that included 487 pitches, they used up 27 dozen baseballs. . . . That’s a lot of souvenirs!


Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos for the past nine seasons, will be the new play-by-play voice of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, according to Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner. . . . According to Davies, Mullin will replace Rob Snoek of Extra 90.5FM. Snoek told Davies that he won’t be back and that “it wasn’t my decision.” . . . Davies’ story is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 20, from the Victoria Royals Lethbridgefor a pair of unspecified conditional bantam draft picks, one in 2021 and the other in 2022. Jerome is from Lethbridge. . . . Other 20-year-olds on Lethbridge’s roster include D Koletrane Wilson, D Ty Prefontaine, F Scott Mahovlich and F Zach Cox. F Jake Leschyshyn, F Jordy Bellerive and F Nick Henry also are 1999-born players, but are likely to begin their pro careers in the fall. . . .

The Royals also lost D Jake Kustra, 20, on waivers to the Swift Current Broncos. Kustra played under Broncos head coach Dean Brockman when both were with the Saskatoon VictoriaRoyalsBlades. . . . With Kustra, the Broncos have three 20-year-olds on their roster, the others being F Ian Briscoe and F Ethan O’Rourke. . . .

Having trade away Jerome and placed Kustra on waivers, Victoria has six 20s on its roster — D Will Warm, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on June 13, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, who is from Victoria, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford and G Shane Farkas, an offseason acquisition from the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

Meanwhile, the Broncos have signed F Mat Ward to a WHL contract. From Kamloops, he was the 14th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have waived F Zach Russell, 20. He got into 36 games with them last season. Earlier, the Oil Kings had dealt D Will Warm, 20, to the Victoria Royals. . . . The Oil Kings are left with four 20s on their roster — F Riley Sawchuk, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on May 16, G Dylan Myskiw, D Conner McDonald and D Parker Gavlas. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but is likely to begin his pro career in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


Bart


An interesting note from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot: “Bob Molinaro in the Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Forbes has put out another list of the highest-paid athletes. It’s the usual dull cluster of dollar signs and numbers, but with one amusing twist. Strictly by salary, Tom Brady ranks fifth on the list — among Boston athletes alone. The top paid Beantown jock is Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, followed by teammates Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Red Sox left-hander David Price slips into fourth place. Not taken into account is the cash value of six Super Bowl rings.”


The Kamloops Blazers are down to three 20-year-olds with F Travis Walton having cleared WHL waivers and signed with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Walton had nine goals and nine assists in 48 regular-season games over three seasons with the Blazers. . . . The 20s remaining on the Blazers’ roster are F Zane Franklin, F Kobe Mohr and D Jackson Caller. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers announced Thursday that they have signed Colin (Toledo) Robinson, their trainer, to a contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Robinson has been with the Blazers since then GM/head coach Dean Clark signed him in 2005. Robinson is prepping for his 25th WHL season, having also worked for the Swift Current Broncos and Vancouver Giants.


The Prince Albert Raiders named Curt Brownlee as their director of player personnel. He has been with the Raiders since 2011 when he signed on as a scout. He takes over from the late Ron Gunville, who died in December.


There is zero chance of the Tampa Bay Rays splitting their American League seasons between the Florida city and Montreal. None. Zilch. Nada. . . . This is simply a cheap way for the Rays to try and pressure their way to a new ballpark in Tampa.


If you’re wondering about the costs of operating a junior A hockey team, consider this from Michael Reeve of radio station Q101.1 from the AGM of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials:

“Beth Nadeau, the team’s treasurer, provided an update on last (season’s) financials. While the team’s expenses came in at approximately the same amount as last (season), this (season’s) revenue was down close to $23,000. All of that resulted in the team losing $95,644.68 last (season), up from a loss of $75,329.99 the season before.”

Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their AGM on Wednesday night and reported a deficit of $6,402.95. The Stampeders had a long playoff run or it would have been a lot worse. . . . For more, check out Benny Walchuk’s blog right here.


Tweetoftheday

WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

MacBeth

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


ThisThat

Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

——

The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

——

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

——

The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


Tweetoftheday

No surprises from Bettman in front of MPs. . . . Fix-Wolansky turns into Monster. . . . Nyren to undergo psychiatric assessment


MacBeth

D Martin Gernát (Edmonton, 2011-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had eight goals and 12 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Brandon Kozun (Calgary, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). This season, with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Russia, KHL), he had 19 goals and 22 assists in 52 games. He led his team in goals, and was tied for the team lead in points. . . .

F Malte Strömwall (Tri-City, 2011-13) has signed a one-year contract with Sochi (Russia, KHL). This season, with KooKoo Kouvola (Finland, Liiga), he had 30 goals and 27 assists in 52 games. He led the league in goals and points. . . .

G Patrik Bartošák (Red Deer, 2011-14) has signed a two-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was 26-21-0, 2.17, .935, with one shutout and one assist in 47 games. He led the league in save percentage. . . .

D Vojtěch Budík (Prince Albert, 2015-18) has signed a one-year plus option contract with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two assists in 34 games. On loan to Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal and one assist in three games. . . .

D Paul Postma (Swift Current, Calgary, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). This season, with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL), he had eight goals and 20 assists in 57 games.


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Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, appeared on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday to appear before a committee of Members of Parliament who are studying sports-related concussions. . . . “Sure, Bettman has been on the job more than 26 years,” writes Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star. “He’s been an honoured member of the hockey hall since he was inducted last fall. But Wednesday confirmed they didn’t put him there because he benevolently served the good of the sport, its players and its future. They gave him the blue blazer and the ring because he profitably grew the business of his employers. And the business of his employers is clearly still served best by concussion denial.” . . . Feschuk’s column is right here.


The WHL announced its individual award winners, all-stars teams and more on Wednesday in Red Deer. You will find all of that information on the WHL’s website at whl.ca.

The annual bantam draft is scheduled to begin bright and early today (Thursday) in Red Deer. You won’t find much draft coverage here because it’s something that I just don’t spend a lot of time following.



F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings will finish his season with the Cleveland EdmontonOilKingsMonsters, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . Fix-Wolansky, an Edmonton native, will turn 20 on May 26. The Blue Jackets selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and have signed him to a three-year entry-level contract. . . . This season, his third with the Oil Kings, he had 37 goals and 65 assists in 65 regular-season games. In 206 career regular-season games, he has 245 points, including 93 goals. . . . He wasn’t in Cleveland’s roster last night as it dropped a 5-2 decision to the Marlies in Toronto in Game 1 of a playoff series.


Giffen Nyren, the former WHL defenceman who is facing charges after a youngster was taken from his mother on Sunday at a Kelowna beach, appeared in court on Wednesday and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment. . . . Nyren, 30, is facing one count of assault and one count of willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer. . . . He remains in custody and is to be back in court on May 15. Nyren’s mother was in court when he made his appearance yesterday. . . . Doyle Potenteau of Global TV has more right here.


Taking Note has been told that veteran coach Barry Wolff will be joining the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials as their general manager and head coach. . . . After spending five seasons (2013-18) with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, one as head coach and four as general manager/head coach, Wolff spent this season as GM/head coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. They lost Game 7 of the championship final to the Portage Terriers. . . . Wolff has had previous BCHL stints with the Quesnel Millionaires, Langley Hornets and Langley Chiefs. He also has coached the junior B Fernie Ghostriders, the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard and the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . In Merritt, Wolff will replace Joe Martin, who left to take over as GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.


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Aaron Schulze of northeastnow.com reported Wednesday that the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League have decided not to renew the contract of Darrell Mann, their general manager and head coach. . . . Mann had been with the Trojans, in one position or another, for 16 years. . . . Schulze wrote that team president Greg McShannock “confirmed to northeastNOW that Mann’s contract was up for renewal and the team decided to move in a different direction.” . . . Mann spent 10 seasons with the Trojans before singing on as head coach of the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs. He returned to the Trojans for 2013-14. This season, the Trojans finished second in the regular season, at 32-7-5, before losing a best-of-five semi-final series, 3-1, to the Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Trojans then won the Western Regional as host team and went on to finish third at the Telus Cup. . . . Schulze’s story is right here.


Marty Murray, the general manager and head coach of the Minot Minotauros, has been honoured as the NAHL’s GM of the year. Murray, 44, is from Deloraine, Man., and played four seasons (1991-95) with the Brandon Wheat Kings before going on to a pro career that included 261 regular-season NHL games. . . . The Minotauros went 36-21-3 to finish second in the Central Division this season, and are presently involved in a second-round playoff series. They finished ninth in the NAHL in attendance, drawing more than 1,400 fans per game.


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Oilers waiting for McCrimmon? . . . Terriers win another MJHL crown. . . . WHL conference finals resume tonight

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The way Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com sees it, “Edmonton Oilers’ CEO Bob OilersNicholson will certainly have a rooting interest in the San Jose Sharks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of their opening-round series Tuesday.” . . . Nicholson is heading up the Oilers’ search for a general manager to replaced the fired Peter Chiarelli. With this in mind, Brownlee and a host of other observers feel that Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager, is at or near the top of Nicholson’s list of potential general managers. Should the Golden Knights lost Game 7, one could assume that GM George McPhee would give permission to other organizations, like Edmonton and the expansion Seattle club (Totems?), to chat with McCrimmon. . . . Brownlee’s piece is right here.

From a WHL perspective, one wonders what would happen if McCrimmon were to end up signing on with the Oilers as their general manager. That would, in theory, make him responsible for two WHL teams. He owns the Brandon Wheat Kings; the Oilers own the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Remember the hue and cry a couple of seasons ago when the Prince Albert Raiders traded F Leon Draisaitl, whose NHL rights belonged to the Oilers, to the Kelowna Rockets, whose majority owner, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and widely seen as the most powerful person in the league? Can you imagine the hullabaloo were McCrimmon to be in Edmonton and a prominent player moved from there to Brandon or vice versa?

That, of course, is a long way from happening, but . . .


Latvia beat Slovakia 2-0 on Monday in a Group B game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. That improved Latvia’s record to 1-2 and lifted it into the quarter-final round. Prior to this year, Latvia had never placed higher than ninth at this tournament. . . . Slovakia, meanwhile, slipped to 0-4 and will face the loser of today’s game between Finland and Switzerland in the best-of-three relegation round. . . . . In Group A on Monday in Umea, Switzerland gave up a 3-0 lead then came from behind to beat Belarus, 5-4 in OT. Switzerland (1-2) will finish the round-robin today against Finland, while Belarus (2-1-1) is on to the quarter-final round. . . . In other games today, Canada (3-0) will meet Czech Republic (2-1), Russia (2-1) is to play Sweden (2-1), and Team USA (3-0) is to meet Latvia. . . . The tournament concludes on Sunday.


F Reece Henry scored at 5:26 of OT to give the Portage Terriers a 3-2 victory over the Terriersvisiting Swan Valley Stampeders in Game 7 of the MJHL’s championship series. . . . The Terriers, under GM/head coach Blake Spiller, won the title, and the Turnbull Cup, for the fourth time in five seasons. They have won MJHL championships in 15 seasons. . . . This was the first MJHL final to go seven games since 1996 when the St. James Canadians beat out the Neepawa Natives. . . . Last night, the Stampeders forced extra time when F Matthew Osadick scored his second goal of the game with 7.3 seconds left in the third period. . . . D Sam Huston and F Chase Brakel also scored for the Terriers. . . . They will meet the SJHL-champion Battlefords North Stars for the ANAVET Cup with Games 1 and 2 in Portage la Prairie on Friday and Saturday nights.


Kelvin Cech is the new head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. Cech, 36, spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of British Columbia Thunderbirds. . . . Cech replaces Steve Mullin, whose contract wasn’t renewed when the Flyers’ season ended. . . . In Winkler, Cech, who is from Edmonton, will work alongside general manager Jeff Jeanson.


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NOTES: The WHL’s conference finals both resume tonight. . . . In the Eastern Conference final, the Oil Kings will entertain the Prince Albert Raiders. The teams split in Prince Albert, the Raiders opening with a 1-0 victory on Friday, and the Oil Kings coming back with a 4-3 OT victory on Saturday. . . . In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead over the Chiefs as they gather for two games in Spokane. The Giants won 4-1 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday in Langley, B.C. There has been one key injury in the series as Spokane F Luc Smith, 20, left Game 1 in the opening minutes of the first period with an apparent ankle injury. He didn’t return to that game and wasn’t dressed for Game 2. Will he play tonight?


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Matt Savoie headed to Crusaders? . . . Tracey, Gauthier lead Canada past Finland. . . . WHL playoffs set to resume


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F Chris Langkow (Spokane, Saskatoon, Everett, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had 17 goals and 22 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Brayden Low (Portland, Everett, 2010-15) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with the Reading Royals (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 18 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Dylan Yeo (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Jordan Draper (Red Deer, 2007-08) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 12 goals and nine assists in 42 games. . . .

F Jaedon Descheneau (Kootenay, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). This season, with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL), he had 19 goals and 32 assists in 52 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points.


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It appears that the Savoie brothers, Carter and Matt, don’t have any plans of playing in the WHL. . . . Carter, 17, just finished his first season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park SherwoodParkCrusaders and plans on returning for 2019-20. He has committed to attending the U of Denver and playing for the Pioneers in 2020-21.

On Thursday, Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) tweeted: “Despite having his rights traded to Winnipeg, Carter Savoie WILL NOT be going to the WHL. He will stay with the Crusaders next season.” . . . A ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, his major junior were traded to the Winnipeg Ice on April 3 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and two conditional selections. . . . At this point, the Ice holds the first and ninth picks in the 2019 draft.

Yaremchuk posted that tweet after having Kyle Chase, the Crusaders’ president of hockey operations and general manager, on his podcast — Inside The Cru.

Matt Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is ranked by most, if not all, observers as the No. 1 prospect among players eligible for the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that is scheduled for Red Deer on May 2. . . . He has committed to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . He played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, and is expected to return there for 2019-20.

Savoie attended the Crusaders’ recent spring camp, which prompted Yaremchuk to ask Chase: “Is he that good?”

Chase’s response: “Yeah. Yeah, he is.”

Chase’s son, Greg, who played in the WHL and has played professionally for the past four seasons, watched Savoie for a bit before saying: “He’ll be in the NHL in four years.”

According to Kyle Chase, his son then asked “what a lot of us ask: How did he get that good so fast?”

Chase went on to describe Savoie: “He shoots bullets. He’s physical. He’s an elite skater. He’s tenacious. He’s on the puck. When you talk about those elite players . . . those guys are high-end and high-octane and high-energy. Matt’s got a little bit of Wendel Clark in him; when you take the puck from him he’s going to blow you up and take it back. He’s not just interested in lifting your stick. . . . He’s got a ton of courage and he’s got a ton of skill. . . . He’s head’s up . . . he’s unselfish.”

As for Sherwood Park’s plans, Chase said that “our intention is to affiliate him. We spoke to the family and to Matt. We want him affiliated . . . and play a minimum of 10 games as an affiliate with us next (season). The family has been very receptive . . . and Matt’s on board. We’re excited to have him around the organization.”

The complete podcast, which runs about 20 minutes, is right here.


F Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice as Team Canada erased a 3-0 Canadasecond-period deficit and went on a 5-3 victory over Finland in its opening game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . Tracey tied the score at 3:57 of the third period, on a PP, as he finished off a 2-on-1 with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice). . . . Tracey scored what stood as the winner at 14:31, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) getting the lone assist. . . . Krebs iced it with an empty-netter. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 39 shots. He was terrific in the first period in holding the Finns to two goals on 20 shots. . . . Canada is scheduled to play Switzerland today. . . . The tournament runs through April 28. . . . Team Canada added G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) to its roster earlier in the week. However, F Kirby Dach of the Blades had to turn down an invitation due to an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 5 of a second-round series with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . In other opening-day games, Russia beat Slovakia, 6-3; Team USA dropped Sweden, 6-1; and Belarus beat Czech Republic, 4-3.


The WHL’s two games in the 2019 CIBC Canada-Russia Series will be played in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. . . . The six-game series that also features two games against the OHL and QMJHL, is to be played Nov. 4-14. . . . For the first time since 2013, the series will begin in the QMJHL (Saint John, Nov. 4; Moncton, Nov. 5), then move to the OHL (Kitchener, Nov. 7; London, Nov. 11). . . . The series-ending games will be played in Saskatoon on Nov. 13 and Prince Albert on Nov. 14. . . . There is a news release on the series right here.


The Prince George Spruce Kings won the franchise’s first BCHL championship — the Fred SpruceKingsPage Cup — on Wednesday night, beating the Vipers 3-1 in Vernon to sweep the championship series in four games. . . . That ended a remarkable playoff run for the Spruce Kings, who went 16-1, the best post-season record in BCHL history. . . . F Ben Poisson, the Spruce Kings’ captain, gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:14 of the second period. That goal, his 13th of the playoffs, stood up as his second game-winner in as many nights. Poisson had scored the OT winner in a 4-3 victory in Vernon on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Spruce Kings, who entered the BCHL for the 1996-97 season, also clinched a berth in the National Junior A Championship, which is to be played in Brooks, Alta. Before that, the Spruce Kings will meet the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits for the Doyle Cup. . . . That series is to open in Brooks on April 26.

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In the MJHL, the Portage Terriers beat the host Swan Valley Stampeders, 5-2, on Thursday night, tying the championship final, 3-3. . . . They’ll play Game 7 in Portage la Prairie on Monday. . . . Last night, the Terriers held a 50-26 edge in shots. . . . F Jay Buchholz, an 18-year-old from Fargo, N.D., had two goals for the winners, who trailed 2-1 with fewer than eight minutes to play in the third period. . . .

In the SJHL, the championship final between the Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs is to resume tonight. The North Stars, with a 3-1 lead, will play host to Game 5. . . . A sixth game, if needed would be played Sunday in Melfort.


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NOTES: The WHL playoffs resume tonight as the conference finals get rolling with games in Prince Albert and Langley, B.C. . . . Each of the four teams still alive is 8-2 in these playoffs. . . . WHL fans have to be thinking it would be nice to see a couple of long series. The first round, with a maximum of 56 games, played out in 43, with three of the eight series going six games and one going the distance. . . . The second round, however, was finished in 19 games as the winners went 16-3. . . . F Dante Hannoun of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants lead the scoring race, each with 14 points, one more than Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . . Hannoun is tops in goals (9) and Koch leads in assists (12). . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders and G Bailey Brkin of the Spokane Chiefs each has eight victories. Scott has the best GAA, at 1.81, while Brkin is tops in save percentage (.931). . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders, who finished atop the overall standings (54-10-4), will entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton topped the Central Division (42-18-8). . . . In the regular season, the Raiders won the season series, 3-1-0; the Oil Kings were 1-2-1. . . . They have met twice since the trade deadline, with the Oil Kings winning, 6-3, in Prince Albert on Feb. 1, and the Raiders winning, 5-1, in Edmonton three days later. . . . In the four games, Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky had five goals and two assists, while D Conner McDonald had three goals and three assists. . . . G Todd Scott of Edmonton went the distance in three of the games, going 1-1-1, 4.62, .883. G Dylan Myskiw, who has had the hot hand in the playoffs, was 0-1-0, 5.04, .853. . . . F Noah Gregor led the Raiders, with two goals and six assists in the four games. F Cole Fonstad, who missed the last two games of the Raiders’ second-round series, had four goals and three assists, while F Brett Leason had a goal and six assists in three games. . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders was 2-1-0, 3.27, .897. . . . The Raiders will be without F Justin Nachbaur tonight as he completes a two-game suspension.

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In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants will be trying to prove that they are the WHL’s “top team” as they play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Giants finished atop the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. . . . The Chiefs were second in the U.S. Division, at 40-21-7. . . . According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, the Giants have seized on a couple of quotes from a Kevin Dudley story in the Spokane Spokesman-Review and are using them as a rallying point. . . . After the Chiefs had eliminated the Everett Silvertips, who had finished on top of the U.S. Division, at 47-16-5, head coach Dan Lambert made reference to having ousted “the top team in the league.” . . . At the same time, Spokane G Bailey Brkin told Dudley: “We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7.” . . . Yes, the Giants took note. “It bothers you to a certain extent,” D Dylan Plouffe told Ewen. “We’re just going to use it for motivation. That’s really all.” . . .

The Giants went 3-1-0 in the season series; the Chiefs were 1-2-1. . . . They have played each other three times since the trade deadline. The Giants won 6-4 in Spokane on Jan. 18 and 5-4 at home on Feb. 15. The Chiefs won 4-1 in Spokane on March 8. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods had a goal and five assists in six games, while F Luc Smith, in three games, had four goals. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw led his side with three goals and two assists in four games. F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had a goal and three assists. D Bowen Byram had a goal and two assists in the four games. . . . Brkin, who might be the playoff MVP to this point, was 1-1-0, 3.03, .915 against the Giants. . . . The Giants used both goaltenders — David Tendeck was 2-0-0, 3.88, .843; Trent Miner was 1-1-0, 4.13, .833.


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