G Leland Irving (Everett, 2003-08) signed a one-year extension with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 45 games, he was 2.50 and .921. He was third in the league in GAA and second in save percentage.
The Victoria Royals are in Kamloops tonight with a chance to wrap up their first-round series with the Blazers. A 6-3 victory in Victoria on Saturday left the Royals with a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series.
According to Blazers broadcaster Jon Keen, this will be the eighth time the Blazers will have been one loss from having either their playoff hopes or their season come to an end.
So . . . if you’re Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie who do you start in goal tonight? Your choices are Dylan Ferguson 20, who started but didn’t finish on Saturday, or Dylan Garand, 16.
In this series, Ferguson is 2-2, 3.56, .876 in four appearances, all starts. He has turned aside 92 of 105 shots.
Garand is 0-1, 2.18, .933 — he has stopped 42 of 45 shots — in two appearances.
In the regular season, Ferguson, who has signed with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, was the unquestioned starter, finishing 17-24-5, 3.01, .908 in 49 appearances. However, he was injured on March 6 and Garand — he went 11-7-3, 2.94, .902 in 27 regular-season appearances — was spectacular as the go-to down the stretch.
In the last six regular-season games, with Ferguson unable to even dress as the backup, when a regulation loss would have ended the Blazers’ playoff hopes, Garand went 5-0-1, 1.63, .939.
Garand also went the distance in the tiebreaker, stopping 27 shots as the Blazers beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 5-1, to get into the first round.
So . . . if you’re Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie who do you tap on the shoulder tonight?
As an aside, the Blazers have added G Rayce Ramsay to their roster. He has been with the team previously, most recently as Garand’s backup for part of the time while Ferguson was injured. Ramsay spent this season with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, whose season ended with a Game 7 loss to the host Estevan Bruins on Tuesday.
If was a year ago when Kelly Sowatsky took a sign with her to a Pittsburgh Penguins’ home game. She was in desperate need of a kidney transplant and had decided it might not hurt to get her message out there. . . . In the end, the sign paid off, and how it all came about is quite a story. . . . Ryan McGee, a senior writer at ESPN, has it all right here.
F Cam Recchi and F Coalson Walford each had a goal and an assist as the Notre Dame Hounds won the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Hounds won the best-of-five final, 3-1. . . . Recchi, 17, is the son of former WHL star Mark Recchi, who is a Hockey Hall of Famer and also a part-owner of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Hounds will join the Brandon Wheat Kings, Thunder Bay Kings and the host Tisdale Trojans in the Telus Cup’s western regional tournament starting Thursday.
Matt Hughes is the new head coach of the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s female prep team. He spent the past two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
NOTES: There is one WHL game on the playoff schedule tonight, with the Victoria Royals in Kamloops to face the Blazers. The Royals won, 6-3, in Victoria on Saturday night to move into a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. . . . Game 7, if needed, would be played in Victoria on Wednesday night. . . . The winner of this series will face the Vancouver Giants in the second round. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., on Friday. . . .
The Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes are going to a Game 7. The Hurricanes skated to a 7-6 OT victory in Calgary on Sunday in a game that featured six third-period goals, including one with 33 seconds left in regulation time. . . .
In Sunday’s other game, the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Tigers, 4-3 in OT, in Medicine Hat to win that series, 4-2. . . . The Oil Kings now await the winner of the series between Calgary and Lethbridge. . . . This was the third spring in a row that the Tigers’ season was ended by an OT goal. . . . Last season, F Linden McCorrister’s goal at 10:37 of OT gave the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Tigers in Game 6 of a first-round series. . . . In 2017, F Tyler Wong’s shorthanded goal at 3:03 of OT gave the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the Tigers in Game 7 of a second-round series. . . .
Darren Steinke, who worked at the Medicine Hat News not that long ago, tweets that Bob Ridley, the voice of the Tigers, called his 3,935th game on Sunday. . . . With road teams winning twice on Sunday, the home teams now are 21-20 in the first round. . . .
F Phillip Schultz scored three times for the host Victoria Royals in Saturday’s 6-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. A freshman from Germany, he is the first import in Royals history to enjoy a playoff hat trick. . . . He also is the fourth Royals player with a playoff hat trick, after F Tyler Soy (2018), F Brandon Magee (2015) and F Jamie Crooks (2012). . . .
The dates for one second-round Western Conference series have been announced. . . . Everett and Spokane Chiefs will use a 2-3-2 format because Cirque du Soleil will take over the Silvertips’ home arena for a few days. The series will open in Everett on Saturday and Sunday, then move to Spokane for games on April 10 and 12 and, if necessary, April 13. The last two games, if needed, would be played in Everett on April 15 and 17. . . . Everett finished on top of the U.S. Division, at 47-16-5, with Spokane second, at 40-21-7. The Silvertips won the season series, 6-0-2; the Chiefs were 2-5-1. . . . They have met once since the Jan. 10 trade deadline — Everett won, 3-1, in Spokane on March 5. . . .
Meanwhile, the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades are looking on with interest after sweeping their first-round series. They’ll being the second round with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Sunday, with Games 3 and 4 in Saskatoon on April 9 and 10. If needed, Game 5 would be played in Prince Albert on April 12, with Game 6 in Saskatoon on April 14, and Game 7 back in Prince Albert on April 16. . . . Prince Albert went 54-10-4 to finish atop the overall standings; Saskatoon was second in the East Division, at 45-15-8. . . . The Raiders were 6-2-0 in the season series; the Blades were 2-5-1. . . . They have met twice since the trade deadline — Saskatoon won, 3-2, at home on March 15; the Raiders won, 3-1, at home the next night.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes, who were 33 seconds from having their season end, got a goal from F Taylor Ross at 3:57 of OT to earn a wild 7-6 victory over the host Calgary Hitmen. . . . The series is tied, 3-3, with Game 7 set for the Nicholas Sheran Arena in Lethbridge on Tuesday night. You will recall that the world men’s curling championship is being decided in the Enmax Centre, so the Hurricanes are playing home games in the arena that is home to the U of L Pronghorns women’s and men’s teams. . . . On Sunday, the Hurricanes jumped out to an early 3-1 lead but weren’t able to hold it. . . . F Kaden Elder (1) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 1:00 of the first period. . . . Lethbridge responded with three quick goals from F Zachary Cox (1), at 2:08; F Dylan Cozens (4), at 3:08; and F Jordy Bellerive (2), on a PP, at 6:32. . . . Calgary pulled even on goals from F Cael Zimmerman (2), on a PP, at 12:53, and D Devan Klassen (2), at 5:42 of the second period. . . . F Nick Henry (4) put Lethbridge back in front, on a PP, at 2:57 of the third period. . . . Calgary tied it when F Ryder Korczak (2) scored at 11:12. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (6) gave Lethbridge a 5-4 lead, on a PP, at 11:47. . . . Calgary went ahead 6-5 on goals from F James Malm (2), at 13:05, and F Mark Kastelic (4), at 17:37. . . . With the Hitmen seemingly on the verge of winning the series, Lethbridge D Calen Addison, who also had three assists, scored his second goal of the series at 19:27. . . . Ross, a 34-goal man in the regular season, won it with his first goal of the series. . . . Leschyshyn also had three assists, with Zimmerman chipping in two. . . . Lethbridge was 3-4 on the PP; Calgary was 1-4. . . . The Hurricanes got 27 stops from G Carl Tetachuk, while G Jack McNaughton stopped 34 shots for Calgary. . . . Calgary had a 3-2 edge in OT shots.
F Vince Loschiavo scored at 2:43 of OT as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Tigers, 4-3, in Medicine Hat. . . . Edmonton won the series, 4-2, and will play either the Calgary Hitmen or Lethbridge Hurricanes in the second round. That series likely will open on Friday night in Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings won on Sunday by scoring the game’s last three goals. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (3) put Edmonton out front at 4:09 of the first period. . . . The Tigers took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Corson Hopwo (1), at 5:54 of the first; F James Hamblin (4), at 7:14 of the second; and Hamblin (5), on a PP, at 7:41. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (1) scored at 8:06 to get the Oil Kings to within a goal, and D Conner McDonald (1) tied it 31 seconds into the third period. . . . Loschiavo’s fourth goal of the series, off a pass from Fix-Wolansky, won it at 2:43 of extra time. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-3 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-1. . . . Edmonton held a 37-29 edge in shots, including 10-5 in the third period and 3-1 in OT. . . . The Oil Kings got 26 saves from G Todd Scott, while G Mads Søgaard stopped 33 shots for the Tigers.