Seattle head coach missing as WHL series opens . . . Stankoven leads way for Blazers . . . Oil Kings cool off Ice in OT

The last four teams standing in the WHL playoffs were in action Friday night as the two best-of-seven conference finals got started with the Edmonton Oil WHLplayoffs2022Kings in Winnipeg to play the Ice, and the Seattle Thunderbirds facing the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . There was intrigue in Kamloops, too, where Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Blazers, tweeted early in the first period: “Maybe I missed it . . . but no Matt O’Dette on the T-Birds bench for Game 1.” O’Dette is the Thunderbirds’ head coach and, although he wasn’t listed as a scratch before the game, he wasn’t working the Seattle bench. . . . So where was he? . . . It turns out that he isn’t even in Kamloops. . . . Thom Beuning, the Seattle play-by-play man, said that O’Dette was missing because of “illness” and “due to an abundance of caution he stayed back in Kent.” . . . O’Dette won’t be there for tonight’s second game, either, but the team is hoping he will be on the bench for Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night.

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Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, F Tyler Horstmann scored in OT to give the No. 2 Edmonton Oil EdmontonKings a 5-4 victory over the No. 1 Ice. . . . They’ll play the second game tonight in Winnipeg. . . . After the Ice overcame a 4-1 third-period deficit with three goals in a span of 4:36, Horstmann won it with his second playoff goal at 1:07. Horstmann took advantage of a puck-handling error by Ice G Gage Alexander that left the shooter looking at an empty net. . . . Horstmann had three goals in 27 regular-season games, none of them game-winners. In fact, this was his second winner in 92 WHL games, 85 of them regular-season assignments. He has two goals and two assists in seven games in these playoffs. . . . His OT goal improved Edmonton’s record this spring to 9-0. . . . F Mikey Milne (10) got things started at 8:34 of the first period, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead. . . . F Dylan Guenther (10) got Edmonton even at 13:08 as he ran his goal-scoring streak to nine games. Yes, he has scored at least once in each of the Oil Kings’ playoff games this spring. . . . The Oil Kings then got two second-period goals via special teams, with D Simon Kubicek (2) scoring shorthanded, at 0:47, and Guenther (11), who also had an assist, sniped on the PP, at 7:02. . . . Just 28 seconds later, F Logan Dowhaniuk scored his first playoff goal to make it 4-1. . . . D Benjamin Zloty got the Winnipeg comeback going with two third-period goals, the first, on a PP, at 6:48, and the second at 9:20. Those were his first two playoff goals, to go with 11 assists. . . . F Owen Pederson (6) got the Ice into a 4-4 tie, on a PP, at 11:24. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 22 shots for Edmonton. . . . Winnipeg starter Daniel Hauser was beaten four times on 21 shots. Alexander relieved him at 7:30 of the second period and stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced. . . . Alexander appeared in a game for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury on March 5. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-6 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-4. . . .
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Western Conference

KamloopsIn Kamloops, F Logan Stankoven, the WHL’s leading goal scorer in these playoffs, struck three times to lead the No. 2 Blazers to a 5-2 victory over the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The two teams will meet again tonight in Kamloops. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (4) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 8:06 of the first period, only to have F Kevin Korchinski (4) get Seattle even at 10:53. . . . Seminoff (5) added a second goal at 17:55, and F Logan Stankoven (11) upped the lead to 3-1 at 18:48. . . . Stankoven (12) scored again just 57 seconds into the third period with the Blazers holding a 5-on-3 advantage. . . . Seattle got to within two, at 4-2, when F Jared Davidson (7) got a PP goal at 17:47. . . . Stankoven, who was stymied by G Thomas Milic’s right pad on a breakaway earlier in the third, completed his hat trick with his 13th goal, into an empty net, at 18:39. . . . Stankoven leads all playoff scorers in goals and points (24). . . . F Luke Toporowski had three assists for the Blazers. . . . Seattle held a 38-27 edge in shots, including 16-7 in the third period. . . . G Dylan Garand turned aside 36 shots for Kamloops, 14 more than Milic. . . . The Thunderbirds were missing head coach Matt O’Dette, who stayed in Kent, Wash., with an illness. In his absence, assistant coaches Kyle Hagel and Matt Marquardt handled the bench.

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Jake Caughill, whose duties at the rink in Kamloops have included operating the Zamboni at Blazers games, revealed Friday on Twitter that tonight will be his last time handling that responsibility. “I’ve done over 400 games over the last 14 years,” he tweeted. “It will be a sad day for me . . . as I love driving the games. So please come to the glass and give me a wave.” There was nothing like being the press box in an empty arena after a game, just finishing up writing, and listening to Caughill break into song while resurfacing the ice. He could sing, too! . . . Caughill isn’t going anywhere; his role at the arena is changing.


Wings


The NHL’s Dallas Stars, who are owned by Kamloops Blazers majority owner nhl2Tom Gaglardi, cleaned out part of their coaching staff on Friday. Head coach Rick Bowness is out, along with assistant coaches Derek Laxdal and Todd Nelson, both of whom had ties to the WHL. . . . Laxdal, a former WHL player and coach, had been with the Dallas organization since July 3, 2014, when he signed on as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars. He had been an assistant coach with Dallas since the middle of the 2019-20 season. . . . Laxdal, 56, played for the Portland Winterhawks, Brandon Wheat Kings and New Westminster Bruins (1982-86) and was the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach for four seasons (2010-14). . . . Nelson, 53, just finished his fourth season on the Stars’ staff. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, for three seasons. . . . Nelson played four seasons (1986-90) with his hometown Prince Albert Raiders.


COVIDFrom si.com: “The Cincinnati Reds placed four players — infielder Brandon Drury, starting pitcher Tyler Mahle, outfielder Albert Almora, and reliever Joel Kuhnel — on the restricted list Friday, indicating they are unvaccinated, ahead of the club’s series versus the host Toronto Blue Jays.” . . . At the same time, the Reds activated first baseman Joey Votto off the COVID-19 list. . . .

From The New York Times: Broadway theaters will continue to require ticketholders to wear masks at least through June 30, industry leaders said Friday. The Broadway League, a trade association representing theater owners and producers, said the owners and operators of all 41 theaters had agreed to the extension of the mask policy. The decision comes at a time when New York City has declared a “high Covid alert.”


Reading


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The junior B Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay  International Junior Hockey League are looking for a general manager and head coach after Briar McNaney “accepted a position at the junior A level,” according to a news release. McNaney had been with the Rockies since April 2020. This season, the Rockies, who play out of Invermere, B.C., went 30-9-2-1 before losing out in a second-round playoff series. . . .

The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder added Sean Brown and Jeff Shantz to their front office on Friday. What will their roles be? From a Thunder news release: “Sean Brown and Jeff Shantz have been hired as the club’s new coaches and general managers, effective immediately. Sean and Jeff will share these roles, with Jeff serving as head coach.” . . . Brown, 46, was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings for two seasons (2012-14). . . . Shantz, 48, played three seasons (1990-93) with the Regina Pats before going on to a pro career that included 642 NHL regular-season games. He has been coaching a U15 team at the Edge School in Calgary since 2017. . . .  With the Thunder, they replace Eric Thurston, who had been the GM and head coach for the past four seasons. . . .

The MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze has signed Jay Pylypuik as its general manager and head coach. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team. . . . The Freeze had announced on April 25 that Taurean White wouldn’t be returning. He had been with the team since Dec. 2. . . . The Freeze is owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice.


Turn


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Celery

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching the Daytona 500 (aka Daytona Demolition Derby) . . .

Scattershooting2

There was a time when I would have told you that the best rivalry in the WHL featured the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats. Brent Parker, then the Pats’ general manager, was never shy about firing verbal darts. You had head coaches battling at the player benches. You had a helmet ending up in the other team’s dressing room and coming out in unwearable condition. There was the play-by-play guy who showed up one night dressed as Donald Duck.

I mean, stuff happened. And I can only imagine what stuff might have happened had there been social media back in the day.

These days I would suggest that torch has been passed to the Portland PortlandWinterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds. Because when these two teams meet now . . . stuff happens. And there often seems to be an aftermath, too.

Take Saturday night in Portland. . . .

The first period wasn’t even two minutes old when Winterhawks’ F Jack O’Brien left with what appeared to be a bad leg injury.

That came after he was hit along the boards by Seattle F Matthew Rempe. SeattleRempe, who is listed at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, was given a kneeing major and game misconduct.

After the game, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for @pnwhockeytalk, asked the two head coaches about the incident.

Mike Johnston of the Winterhawks responded: “I thought it was a cheap hit. I know Rempe has had quite a few of those. He’s been suspended a few times this year even. He’s a big guy who has to get control when he’s hitting people. I don’t know what he was thinking. I just know it was knee-on-knee. You have to be careful when you go in with your knee, especially when you are a big guy like that.”

(NOTE: Rempe has served two suspensions this season. The first was for two games under supplemental discipline for something that happened in game with the host Tri-City Americans on Nov. 5. The second, for one game, was assessed after he was given a charging major and game misconduct during a game against the Silvertips in Everett on Nov. 21. Last season, Rempe was suspended once for one game, that after he took a kneeing major and game misconduct in a game at Portland on Dec. 31.)

When Critzer asked Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette about Saturday’s hit, the response was:

“I thought their player was coming down the boards and our guy tried to finish his check. It was along the boards, wasn’t in open space where it was knee-on-knee in my opinion. I thought their guy lunged out of the way and (Rempe) kind of hit his leg that was dragging behind.

“(Rempe) is a big guy and, when he’s on his path, he’s come a long way to be a clean hitter. He’s a big guy and sometimes he’s just bigger than the other guy, which is why he gets penalties. I thought everything was compact — arms down, legs in — on that hit. Sometimes unfortunate plays can happen not intentionally.”

So . . . that was that. Right? Well, not quite. On Sunday, just as the Daytona 500 was heating up, there were sparks flying between Portland and Seattle.

It started when Thom Beuning, the long-time play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, tweeted: “So just saw that video of the Rempe major for kneeing. My reaction? ‘Where’s the penalty?’ I don’t see a minor, let alone a major. No initial call on the ice, so what changed?”

Beuning also tweeted: “Incidental contact happens all the time in hockey, including knee-to-knee. Doesn’t mean it is a penalty, doesn’t mean it’s a major, doesn’t mean it is a suspension. Example A, Ty Bauer injury.”

(Bauer, a forward with the Thunderbirds, suffered a knee injury during a game against the Blazers in Kamloops on Dec. 10 and hasn’t played since that night. There wasn’t a penalty on the play.)

After Beuning fired things up, Andy Kemper, a former Portland radio analyst who now is the Winterhawks’ historian, tweeted: “Rempe led into the check with his leg not his upper body. O’Brien was moving to the corner and Rempe put his leg out to stop him and it went knee on knee. That is not incidental. No intent, but it was a kneeing penalty.”

Beuning: “Wrong.”

Kemper: “Yeah, I figured that would be your response. Have a nice day.”

That is when Nick Marek, the Winterhawks’ broadcaster and media relations manager, chimed in with: “Andy said it very well. Everyone knew there was no intent to injure (also why no match penalty assessed) and ‘he didn’t mean to do it.’ Still looks like everything was followed correctly according to the WHL Rule Book.”

Beuning: “Rempe compacts his body to deliver the hit, to avoid a check to the head. O’Brien moves down along the boards to avoid the hit, thus exposing his trailing leg to the contact. Incidental. Same reason there was no penalty when Bauer was injured. Or are you saying the league was wrong?”

Kemper: “The rulebook doesn’t account for incidental or not. The first four words in the rule book are clear: ‘All knee on knee.’ Since it resulted in an injury, the major penalty was assessed. I didn’t see the Bauer hit. Are you saying the league is wrong?”

Beuning: “By not calling a penalty on the Bauer hit, the league has determined there is knee-on-knee contact that doesn’t warrant a penalty.  Plenty of time to review and bring forth supplemental discipline. They didn’t.”

Kemper: “OK. But there is a difference between assessing a penalty and assessing a suspension. Doesn’t mean that a penalty should not have been assessed at the time on the Bauer play. The league may decide to not suspend Rempe for the infraction.”

Beuning: “Have you not been around the WHL for a while now? I might very, very reluctantly concede the minor. But players often put themselves in vulnerable positions. Some of the onus is on that player.”

Marek: “Thom, this take is ridiculous. Essentially saying ‘he shouldn’t have been standing there.’ If that’s your belief, then I suppose you should say the same onus is on Bauer for his major injury he suffered. Can’t believe you just said that honestly.”

Beuning: “What’s the old expression? Keep your head up? It happens all the time. Players duck to avoid a hit and put their heads in the path of an opposing players shoulders. Or they turn at the last second and put their backs to the hit in the corner, exposing their numbers.”

Kemper: “I have been around a long time and every time something like this happens, the bias of the individual looking at the play comes out in how they see it called. I’m not going to change your opinion, nor you mine. By the rule book, it was a major penalty. I’m done.”

——

Here’s a tweet that includes the video of the play in question, so you can be the judge . . .

And here’s another angle . . .

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The Winterhawks played host to the Spokane Chiefs on Sunday night and O’Brien was in the lineup; in fact, he scored twice and added an assist in a 9-1 victory.

It could be that, as the old all-star centre Billy Shakespeare of the Stratford-upon-Avon Rivermen once wrote, it all was “much ado about nothing.”

The Winterhawks and Thunderbirds are scheduled to meet four more times this season — March 11 and 19 in Kent, Wash., and March 20 and April 2 in Portland.

So there’s still time for even more fun.

——

BTW, the Thunderbirds won Saturday’s game, 5-1. Portland leads the season series, with a 5-4-0 record. Or maybe the series is tied, because Seattle is 4-3-2. Yes, thanks to loser points each team has 10 points from the series.


Bruce Vance is one of the good guys. He really is. At one time he worked in the Prince Albert Raiders’ front office, and now he is the the city’s marketing and sponsorship co-ordinator. He and his wife, Liane, also have been through more in the past few years than anyone should have to face in three lifetimes, but they have kept on smiling. Both have battled cancer and Bruce now is having another go-round with the Big C. . . . My wife, Dorothy, is a wonderfully positive person and she will tell you how important that frame of mind was as she went through a kidney transplant. . . . Well, Liane and Bruce are writing about their adventures on a blog — it’s right here — and through all the ups and downs positivity is a huge part of their approach. . . . Teena Monteleone of paNOW wrote about Liane and Bruce right here.


RuinDay


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “A cargo ship packed with luxury cars caught fire and is aimlessly adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Sort of the nautical equivalent of the L.A. Lakers.”

——

Perry, again: “The team that won the opening coin toss now has now lost the past eight Super Bowls. Where’s the public outcry over the unfairness of that?”



SATURDAY IN THE WHL: The Everett Silvertips, with points in 12 straight (10-0-2), clinched a playoff spot on Saturday night, beating the visiting Victoria Royals, 3-1. This is the Silvertips’ 18th season in the WHL and they have been in the playoffs in every one of them. . . . F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers ran his point streak to 19 games on Saturday in a 4-3 OT loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants. Stankoven, who had a goal and an assist, has 17 goals and 22 assists on his tear. Vancouver, now 1-19-0 when trailing after two periods, won it on F Fabian Lysell’s second goal of the game, and 17th of the season, at 4:33 of extra time. Kamloops is 28-1-2 when trailing after two. . . .

F Ben King’s second goal of the game, his WHL-leading 37th, gave host Red Deer a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Ice as the Rebels overcame a 2-0 third-period deficit. F Arshdeep Bains had two assists for Red Deer; after Saturday’s games, he led the WHL in assists (46) and points (71). . . . F Connor Bouchard’s ninth goal of the season at 2:01 of OT gave the Tri-City Americans a 4-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . .

In Prince Albert, F Jagger Firkus scored his 29th goal and added two assists as the Moose Jaw Warriors doubled the Raiders, 4-2. The Warriors have points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . F Dylan Guenther scored four times, giving him 32, as the host Edmonton Oil Kings spanked the Saskatoon Blades, 9-1. G Sebastian Cossa is 24-6-3, 2.30, .915 for the Oil Kings, who have won five in a row. . . .

F Ridly Greig had a goal and an assist to lead the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. He’s got 50 points, including 23 goals, in 32 games. The Wheat Kings went into the Central Division and won four games in six nights. The Wheat Kings ended up spending the night in Swift Current because of the horrid weather conditions that swept across the Prairies. . . . F Reid Schaefer scored twice, giving him 23, as the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-1, for their seventh straight victory. . . .

In Prince George, the Kelowna Rockets got past the Cougars, 3-2, giving them a sweep of the weekend doubleheader. On Friday, the Rockets also had won, 3-2. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes rode two first-period goals to a 2-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers, who have lost six in a row.

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SUNDAY IN THE WHL: F Kyle Crnkovic reclaimed the WHL scoring lead with two goals — giving him 32 — and an assist as the visiting Saskatoon Blades beat the Calgary Hitmen, 4-1. That boosted Crnkovic’s points total to 73, two more than F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Clay Hanus had a goal — his 13th — and two assists as the host Portland Winterhawks dropped the Spokane Chiefs, 9-1. The teams combined for 118 minutes in penalties, with 69 of those going to the visitors. It was the sixth game between these teams since Feb. 5; the Winterhawks won five of them, outscoring the Chiefs, 39-10, in the process. Portland won the season series, 10-2-0, while the Chiefs went 2-9-1.


Headline at fark.com: NBC wants you to know their Super Bowl ratings KILLED IT. Oh, and their Olympics . . . look, a bunny.


“A new study shows the horse medicine, ivermectin, is useless in combating COVID,” tweets comedy write Alex Kaseberg (@AlexKaseberg). “This is hard to believe based on the tireless research of that great medical mind Aaron Rodgers.”


Minecraft


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Dr. Oz vs. Dr. Phil in an old-time steel cage match — no way to root, right?”

——

Lupica, again: “Novak Djokovic says he’s not anti-vaccine, but he’s still not going to get jabbed. What an amazing tennis hill on which to die. Taking this kind of stance against something that has saved lives all over the world.”



Dick Butkus — yes, that Dick Butkus — is enjoying Twitter, witness this: “The USFL is back. Herschel Walker is all over the news. Did I have a stroke, or is it still 1985?”


You may have heard that NBA analyst Charles Barkley is talking about retiring in a couple of years once his contract with TNT expires. As he explained: “I don’t want to die on TV. I want to die on the golf course or somewhere fishing. I don’t want to be sitting inside over (by) fat-ass Shaq (waiting) to drop dead.”


Arthur Blank, who owns the Atlanta Falcons, apparently referred to the NFL teams and their seeming inability to hire minority head coaches as “just not acceptable.” It was then that Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune pointed out: “It’s apparently acceptable in Atlanta, where his Falcons are one of 13 franchises never to have had a Black head coach.”


THINKING OUT LOUD:

As a hockey fan, are you old enough to remember when the boards were the boards and not the wall? . . . Are you old enough to remember when the goaltender’s crease was the crease and not the blue paint? . . .

The best entertainment-related news I’ve heard in a long while: Randy Bachman has cut a deal with Corus Entertainment under which some of its radio stations will carry a two-hour Vinyl Tap once a week. It all starts on March 6. . . . CBC Radio dumped Vinyl Tap in July after a 16-year run. . . .

Here’s to a happy retirement to Vicci Weller after 22 years as the Thompson Nicola-Regional District film commissioner. It was because of her that Clint Black was once in the area filming a movie and made acquaintance with my wife, Dorothy, who was working at the time at a Shoppers Drug Mart outlet. Yes, it gave her quite a thrill when he struck up a conversation and then showed her family pictures.


ChocBars


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.


Math

Agent disappointed with WHL reaction to “racially motivated situation” after offender traded . . . Gut returning to Everett . . . Cougars release two forwards

Kai Uchacz, one of the players involved in some nasty stuff with the Seattle WHL2Thunderbirds, has been traded to the Red Deer Rebels for a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft.

From a WHL news release:

“Uchacz was removed from the roster of the Seattle Thunderbirds on March 25, 2021 following a thorough review by Thunderbirds staff after it was discovered he had directed racist comments and actions towards another player on the team.”

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reported in March that the Thunderbirds had released two forwards because of “a racist taunting incident in which the squad’s lone Black player alleged he was called a racial slur and a banana was waved in front of him.”

The target of the slur was F Mekai Sanders. His agent, Scott Norton, the president of Norton Sports Management, didn’t react to the trade in a favourable fashion on Friday.

Norton tweeted: “Enough is enough. Time for things to change in hockey and society!”

That was on top of this statement from Norton:

“On behalf of my client Mekai Sanders and myself, we are very disappointed that the Western Hockey League has not issued a statement or any disciplinary actions following the racially motivated situation that occurred on the Seattle Thunderbirds during the 2020-21 season. We appreciated the actions of general manager Bil La Forge and the Thunderbirds management during the season, but a league that claims ‘zero tolerance’ should have stepped up and dealt with the individuals as well. In light of today’s trade involving one of the offenders, we are calling upon the WHL Commissioner Rob (sic) Robison and the league to take action immediately.”

Norton also tweeted: “What is the point of having a zero tolerance policy if you do not hold your players to that standard? This was not a 1-time isolated, incident! How many chances does the victim get to live his life and chase his dreams?”

According to the WHL, Uchacz has undergone training and education in the areas of “anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion. . . . As a result of demonstrating significant progress with his ongoing education and genuine remorse for his prior behaviour, Uchacz’s return to the WHL has been fully endorsed by the diversity consulting agencies that conducted the training and education program.

“In addition, once he joins the Rebels, Uchacz will be required to continue his diversity and respect training in Red Deer. All WHL players are required to complete the Respect in Hockey educational program, which includes Respect in Sport certification, each season.”

Uchacz, 18, is from Calgary. The Thunderbirds selected him with the 10th overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . He had one goal and one assist in five games in 2018-19, then added two goals and six assists in 52 games in 2019-20. In 2020-21, he played three games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints, picking up one assist. . . . According to Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of such things, the Rebels held two second-round picks in the 2021 draft — their own (No. 24) and the Winnipeg Ice’s (40). It’s not clear which pick was sent to Seattle.


The Everett Silvertips confirmed Friday that Czech F Michal Gut will be in their Everettlineup for 2021-22. He was the team’s rookie of the year for 2019-20 after putting up 13 goals and 23 assists in 51 games. . . . Gut, who will turn 19 on Aug. 16, stayed home for 2020-21 and played with HC Banik Sokolov in the Czech2. He finished with 10 goals and 11 assists in 20 games. . . . The Silvertips now have their two imports in Gut and Finnish F Niko Huuhtanen, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in last weekend’s NHL draft.


Golf


American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, the world champion, won’t compete at Covidthe Tokyo Olympics after testing positive. Kendricks, 28, had won a bronze medal at the 2016 Games. . . . Another pole vaulter, German Chiaraviglio of Argentina, also has tested positive and has been ruled out of the Games. . . . Organizers revealed 24 new positives on Thursday among Olympic personnel, with three of those being athletes. At that point, six American athletes had tested positive. . . . There’s more on the Kendricks story right here.


CTV Calgary — “Canada’s top doctors say Alberta’s decision to end isolation requirements for those who test positive for COVID-19, or who have been in close contact with someone who has, could have ripple effects across the country.”



Entertainment Weekly: “Netflix is not taking the fourth wave lightly. It has become the first major Hollywood studio to require vaccinations on productions.”

Entertainment Weekly: “Broadways sets rule for audiences to be vaccinated and wear masks for performances through October. . . . Performers, backstage crew and theatre staff are also required to be vaccinated.”



CBC News: “The Australian city of Sydney experienced a rise in local COVID-19 cases and warned the outbreak would get worse. Australian authorities have sought help from the military to enforce a city-wide lockdown.”


Masks


It’s believed that more than 90 per cent of the players with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers are vaccinated. DE Nick Bosa, a Pro Bowler, isn’t one of them. “I’m just evaluating everything right now,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I haven’t made a decision quite yet.” . . . Meanwhile, the team’s entire coaching staff has been vaccinated.


Matthew Dolan, Detroit Free Press: “University of Michigan to require COVID-19 vaccination on all campuses. All students, faculty and staff on all three campuses of the University of Michigan are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, submit their vaccination information before the start of the fall.”


The 2022 World Women’s Curling Championship is scheduled to be played in PGPrince George, from March 19-27. The event was to have been held there in 2020 but was cancelled as the pandemic was just getting started. . . . The 2021 championship was decided in a bubble in Calgary. . . . The 2022 event will be held at the CN Centre, the home of the WHL’s Cougars. This means that the Cougars will finish the 2021-22 WHL regular season by playing seven of their last eight games on the road. . . . After entertaining the Victoria Royals on March 11 and 12, the Cougars will hit the road for four games — yes, four in a row — in Victoria on March 18, 19, 25 and 26, and singles against  the Vancouver Giants, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets. The Cougars will return home to conclude their regular season on April 3 against the visiting Blazers. . . . The big question is: How will they spend their time between doubleheaders in Victoria? Do they stay on Vancouver Island or return home, then travel back to Victoria? Does it influence the decision if there is a playoff spot on the line?


Divorce


F Ethan Browne and F Dave Griffin have cleared WHL waivers and been released by the Prince George Cougars. . . . Browne, 20, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. The Everett Silvertips selected him 14th overall in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He got into nine games with Everett before landing in Prince George and playing four seasons there. In 149 regular-season games, he scored 19 goals and added 53 assists. . . . Griffin, 19, had one assist in three games with the Cougars in 2019-20 and one assist in 15 games during the 2021 development season. . . . The Cougars had six other 2001-born players on the roster that finished the 2021 season — F Connor Bowie, F Brendan Boyle, G Taylor Gauthier, F Jonny Hooker, D Majid Kaddoura and F Tyson Upper.


The New York Times — Starting Friday, Disney World in Florida will require guests older than 2 to wear masks in indoor spaces, reversing its policy that allowed fully vaccinated guests to go without them.



G Roman Basran, 20, has cleared WHL waivers after having released by the RocketsKelowna Rockets, so now is a free agent. He got into eight games in the 2021 development season, going 4-2-1, 3.86, .876. . . . Basran, from Vancouver, played 120 games over four seasons with the Rockets, finishing 52-41-11, 2.90, .905. He also put up five shutouts. . . . The Rockets finished that 2021 season with seven other 2001-born players on their roster — D Tyson Feist, D Jake Lee, D Kaedan Korczak, F Mark Liwiski, G Cole Schwebius, F Alex Swetlikoff and F Dallon Wilton. . . . That same roster also included two other goaltenders — Nicholas Cristiano, who will be 17 on Sept. 3, and Cole Tisdale, 19.


F Kishaun Gervais would appear to be finished with the Portland Winterhawks. PortlandGervais, who will turn 20 on Nov. 4, wrote on his Instagram account on Wednesday: “Thank you for making my dreams of playing in the WHL come true. #RoseCityForever.” . . . From Kamsack, Sask., he was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . He had eight goals and nine assists in 31 games in 2019-20, then added a goal and an assist in 19 games in the 2021 development season. . . . The roster with which Portland finished the season contained six more 2001-born players — Danish D Jonas Brondberg, F Jaydon Dureau, G Brock Gould, D Clay Hanus, F Reece Newkirk and D Kade Nolan. . . .

Off the ice, Gervais founded a clothing company — Teddy Wear Clothing — over a year ago and also has been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. . . . For more on Gervais, take a look at this story right here by Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.

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Brian Pellerin has joined the Portland Winterhawks as an assistant coach. He’ll work alongside Mike Johnston, the organization’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Don Hay. . . . Earlier in his career, Pellerin spent four seasons (2004-08) with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach. He also worked as associate coach with the Tri-City Americans (2014-20). . . . Pellerin is a former WHL player, having spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . BTW, Pellerin is from Hinton, Alta., which is just a couple of slapshots west of Old Drinnan Town, the entrance to which is pictured at the top of this site.


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

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Swift Current Broncos have signed Devan Praught as an assistant coach. From Summerside, P.E.I., he has been in Wilcox, Sask., at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame for the past eight seasons. Praught, 33, has been the head coach of the U-18 AAA Hounds for five seasons. . . . Former WHLer Jason Christie has joined the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres as an assistant coach. Christie, 52, spent the previous four seasons as the head coach and vice-president of hockey operations with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen. From Gibbons, Alta., he played four seasons (1986-90) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Former WHL G Ty Rimmer has joined the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters as their goaltending coach. From Edmonton, Rimmer split 159 regular-season WHL games over four seasons (2009-13) between the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars, Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes. In Trail, he replaces Cam Basarab, who now is with the Rink Academy in Kelowna. . . . Kory Achtymichuk is the Prince George Cougars’ new equipment manager. From Wadena, Sask., he has spent the past four seasons as the Regina Pats’ assistant equipment manager. In Prince George, he takes over from Ramandeep (Chico) Dhanjal, who left to become the equipment manager with the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks.


LSD

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


Scattershooting on a Thursday night while wondering what it is about Regina drivers and their phones . . .

Scattershooting


The New York Yankees and host Houston Astros combined to use 14 pitchers — seven apiece — in Game 6 of the ALCS. The game, won 6-4 by the Astros as they won the series, took four hours nine minutes.

——

On Oct. 13, 1960, Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski hit a ninth-inning home run to give the Pirates a 10-9 victory over the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. That game featured nine pitchers, five by the Yankees, and took two hours 36 minutes.

——

Yes, Major League Baseball has a problem.


Messages


I really don’t know what was more fun — social media in the two weeks before the Canadian election or social media on Tuesday, the day after said election.


With the NBA regular season opening this week, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, writes: “I would like to pose a rhetorical question to the players on the team that wins the NBA Championship next June. I am sure that many — if not most — of those players would choose not to accept an invitation to go to the White House as part of their championship celebration — and I have no problem at all with that. Here is my question: If President Xi Jinping of China invites the NBA champions to come to his office for an honorary visit, would you go, or would you stiff the President of the PRC? . . . Oh, while I am at it, let me ask Commissioner Silver what his position might be in this circumstance?”


Hey, Regina, this police officer wrote 1,134 distracted driving tickets all of last year. . . .


Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade, writes: “Tiger Woods has taken up the quill and will write a memoir to tell the ‘definitive story’ of his life as a golf prodigy and icon. So we’ll finally get the answer to that burning question: ‘When Elin found out about all the blonde cocktail waitresses and escorts that Tiger was shagging, did she attack him with a nine-iron or a pitching wedge?’ ” . . . There is a lot more Swansson gold right here.


AirportSecurity


“Some 310 birds crashed into the windows of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building in Charlotte, N.C.,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Even more stunning, the birds were chimney swifts, not racing pigeons.”


Here’s a memory from Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Welterweight boxing champ Errol Spence spectacularly flipped his Ferrari, but he apparently got off easy with fairly minor injuries. Spence, unbelted, was ejected from his chariot. Flash back decades. A flight attendant asks then-heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali to fasten his seatbelt. Ali: ‘Superman don’t need no seat belt.’ Flight attendant: ‘Superman don’t need no airplane.’ ”



Alexander Gulyavtsev is the head coach of the KHL team Amur Khabarovsk. He is from the Russian city of Perm, as is Victor Gashilov, a referee in a game on Monday. During that game, an unhappy Gulyavtsev told Gashilov: “I’m going to set fire to your car in Perm.” . . . The KHL has fined the coach 300,000 rubles, or about US$4,700. . . . Gulyavtsev later said it was a joke. As he put it: “I just said car; it’s not as if I said apartment.” . . . The score in the game? Dynamo Moscow won, 5-1.


In all of hockey, there may be nothing more over-rated than the game-day morning skate. In an era when the importance of rest finally is being recognized, more and more teams are doing away with something that has been there seemingly forever. Here is Mike Sullivan, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, explaining why he has done away with them to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey: “It’s like, ‘Why does the whole league have morning skates?’ It reminds me of why my mother cut the side of the hams off before she cooked ‘em. I asked her, ‘Why do you cut the sides of the hams off?’ She said, ‘I don’t know. Because that’s how my mother taught me.’ So I asked my grandmother. I said, ‘Why do you cut the side of the hams off before you put ’em in the oven?’ She said, ‘That was easy. I didn’t have a pan that was big enough.’ That’s my analogy.”


Here’s Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “Kenyan superstar runner Eliud Kipchoge broke the 2-hour marathon barrier in 1:59.40.2, a once unfathomable feat. I once covered 26.2 miles even quicker, but didn’t get credit because I was in a car.”


ICYMI . . . the WHL returned to Cranbrook on Thursday . . .

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