Beyak chooses to end things on his terms . . . Revisiting two epic WHL comebacks . . . Oil Kings end Hurricanes’ season

Rich Franklin spent time in the front office of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and now is an executive with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. . . . The above tweet is from the Kraken’s home game on Wednesday night and I have to tell you that it warms my heart.


DennisBeyak
DENNIS BEYAK

Dennis Beyak, one of hockey’s best play-by-play voices, has decided to partially retire when this season is over, something that will happen for him on Sunday. Beyak has been the voice of the Winnipeg Jets on TSN since 2011. Unfortunately, because of blackout regulations, a lot of hockey fans likely have never heard him call an NHL game. . . . Beyak, who turned 70 on Nov. 23, will call his final Jets’ game on Sunday afternoon when they meet the visiting Seattle Kraken. . . . Thankfully, we will be able to hear him on occasion as TSN plans on giving him some international assignments. His work on many World Junior Championship games that don’t involve Team Canada has been terrific. . . . Here’s hoping he’s on the call for some games from the WJC in Edmonton in August. . . .

If you aren’t aware, Beyak is a former WHL play-by-play man and also a former WHL executive. . . . He began his play-by-play career at CFAR in Flin Flon in 1970 as the voice of the Bombers at a salary of $57.50 per week. He would go on to call the play for the Saskatoon Blades, Victoria Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He had stints in management, too, as the Blades’ assistant general manager and as GM of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. . . . He also has been the play-by-play voice of the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .

Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun wrote that Beyak explained his decision this way: “When I turned 70, I started to think about this, about how much longer I wanted to do this. I always wanted to kind of go out while I was still able to do it. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was questioning myself — should I have done it earlier?” . . .

Oh, and did I mention that he is an excellent emcee, who could have been a standup comedian?


Weight


Only two teams in WHL history have fallen behind 0-3 and gone on to win a best-of-seven series — the 1995-96 Spokane Chiefs and the 2012-13 Kelowna Rockets.

Let’s take a brief look back, shall we . . .

The Chiefs completed the 1995-96 regular season with a 50-18-4 record — that Spokanefour denotes ties (remember them?). They wound up atop the seven-team West Division. The Portland Winterhawks, meanwhile, finished in sixth place, at 30-39-3.

The series opened in Spokane with games on March 22 and 23, and the Winterhawks skated to 3-2 (OT) and 7-4 victories. They won the opener on F Brad Isbister’s goal at 6:23 of OT, then got three goals and two assists from F Richard Zednik in Game 2.

Playing at home on March 26, Portland got two goals and two assists from Todd Robinson, with Zednik chipping in two goals and an assist, in a 6-4 victory. And just like that the Winterhawks led the series, 3-0.

But one night later the Chiefs got out to a 4-1 lead before the first period was 13 minutes old and went on to a 5-3 victory. F Darren Sinclair and F Jason Podollan each scored twice for the visitors.

Back in Spokane on March 29, G David Lemanowicz turned aside 34 shots as the Chiefs won, 5-0. Podollan had three goals and an assist, giving him six scores in the five games.

The series headed back to Portland for Game 6 and the Chiefs won, 4-3, to get back on equal footing. After Spokane F Joe Cardarelli tied it on a PP with his second goal of the game, and fourth of the series, at 19:29 of the third period, the teams went into double OT before deciding it. It ended when F Randy Favaro struck for his first goal at 3:50.

On April 3, the Chiefs, playing at home, wrapped up the series with a 4-3 victory. Again, the teams went to OT, with Sinclair winning it 58 seconds into extra time.

The Chiefs went on to eliminate the Kamloops Blazers in six games, then would lose the WHL championship final to the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games. Only one of Spokane’s last 11 playoff games needed OT.

——

In 2012-13, the Rockets finished with a 52-16-4 record, good for second place Kelownain the Western Conference, while the Seattle Thunderbirds wound up 24-38-10 and in seventh place.

Their seven-game series would feature five games that needed extra time to decide a winner.

The first two games were played in Kelowna with the Thunderbirds winning twice in OT — 5-4 on a goal by F Luke Lockhart at 19:09 and 2-1 when F Alex Delnov scored at 2:41.

The series then headed for Kent, Wash., where Seattle won Game 3, 3-2, scoring the game’s last three goals and winning when D Evan Wardley counted at 4:55 of OT. That left the Thunderbirds with what appeared to be a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Rockets started the long road back on March 27, winning 4-0 in Kent, behind two goals and an assist from F Tyson Baillie, a goal and two assists from F Zach Franko, and 25 saves from G Jordan Cooke.

They played Game 5 three nights later in Kelowna, with the Rockets building a 4-1 lead and hanging on to win, 4-3, as Seattle counted twice in the game’s last minute.

Then it was back to Kent for an April 2 game that the Rockets won, 4-3 in OT, to tie the series, 3-3. Game 6 was bizarre in that the first six goals all were scored in the first period. Lockhart’s third goal of the series gave Seattle a 3-1 lead at 9:23. Kelowna tied it on goals from F Tyrell Goulbourne (14:56) and F Cody Fowlie (16:20). The Rockets, who held a 59-43 edge in shots, won it when D Myles Bell got his fourth goal of the series at 10:39 of OT.

The very next night the series ended in Kelowna as the Rockets completed their remarkable comeback with a 3-2 victory and, yes, it took overtime.

Wardley gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period. The Rockets grabbed a 2-1 lead on two goals from Baillie — his fifth and sixth of the series — at 9:17 of the second period and 13:09 of the third. Lockhart’s fourth goal in seven games tied it at 19:53. That left it for Baillie to complete his hat trick at 5:10 of OT. Baillie finished the series with seven goals and five assists.

The Rockets moved onto the second round where they were swept by the Kamloops Blazers. The last two games of that series needed OT, meaning Kelowna went into extra time in seven of its 11 playoff games that spring.



THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

There was one playoff game last night, and there are six on tap tonight. While the Edmonton Oil Kings completed a sweep of the host Lethbridge Hurricanes last night, four more teams — the Kelowna Rockets, Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs — will face elimination on tonight’s six-game schedule. . . . Here’s a brief look at last night’s game . . .

Eastern Conference

In Lethbridge, F Josh Williams broke a 4-4 tie late in the third period and the EdmontonEdmonton Oil Kings went on to  a 6-4 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings won the series, 4-0, and now await a second-round opponent. . . . F Justin Hall (1) pulled the Hurricanes into a 4-4 tie at 15:17 of the third period. Williams scored his first goal of the series just 40 seconds later. . . . F Jakub Demek (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Edmonton held a 47-17 edge in shots. . . . F Dylan Guenther scored Edmonton’s first goal, giving him one in each of the four games. . . . The Hurricanes took all four of the game’s minor penalties and surrendered two PP goals. . . . The Hurricanes join Prince George on the outside looking in after the Cougars were swept by the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday night.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Vancouver Giants will be without D Tom Cadieux and F Matthew Edwards when they entertain the Everett Silvertips in Game 4 of their first-round series tonight in Langley, B.C. Each player drew a one-game suspension for indiscretions in Game 3. The Silvertips hold a 2-1 edge in the series. Game 5 is scheduled for Everett on Saturday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has an advancer for tonight’s game right here, including a few words about how things are heating up between the two head coaches. . . .

The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder has named Sean Brown the interim general manager and head coach. He has been operating his hockey development business, Breakout Hockey, but joined the Thunder earlier as assistant GM/assistant coach. The Thunder announced Wednesday that Eric Thurston was out as GM/head coach after four seasons. . . .

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald tweets that “Scott Langer is out after one season” as head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. According to Schlossman, “The top candidate to replace him will be SCSU assistant Nick Oliver, a highly regarded young coach who played for the Force.”


Cops


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.


Dad

Four Don Cherry games remaining . . . Giants’ Ronning gets NHL deal . . . Dauphin beckons for Wheat Kings

MacBeth

F Grant Toulmin (Swift Current, 2005-07, 2008-09) has signed a one-season extension with the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL). Last season he had 22 goals and 20 assists in 27 games. He led the team in goals and points. . . . The AIHL regular season opens on April 21.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Four of the WHL’s 17 Canadian teams will hold their WHL Suits Up With Don Cherry games this weekend.

The Victoria Royals will have their game on Friday, with the Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades following suit on Saturday.

If you’re new to this, the home teams wear sweaters fashioned after the outfits worn by Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner. Those sweaters are available via auction, with proceeds going to the local branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

There also are Don Cherry bobbleheads available, as well as Upper Deck cards featuring Cherry, and some really nifty mini-hockey helmets.

The Medicine Hat Tigers are one of the teams that held their game last weekend. When it was all over, the Tigers had raised almost $50,000 through the sweater auction.

Scott Roblin of CHAT News in Medicine Hat has a story right here that tells all you need to know about this promotion and its importance. It’s about people like the mother and daughter who took part in the ceremonial puck drop in Medicine Hat, and it’s all about organ donor awareness.


When the Portland Winterhawks chose to try and get an exemption from Oregon laws regarding the paying of minimum wage and other benefits, you have to think they, and the WHL, weren’t anticipating what followed.

“What started as something the WHL and the Winterhawks thought would be a simple whlprocess,” Ken Campbell of The Hockey News writes, “has degenerated into a nightmare, largely because some people in Oregon stood up to junior hockey. The local United Food and Commercial Workers, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, Oregon Working Families and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association all spoke out against the bill and in fact created a website urging people to contact their senators to vote against the bill.”

Campbell’s complete piece, which explains what went on, is right here.


The New York Rangers have signed F Ty Ronning of the Vancouver Giants to a three-year entry-level NHL contract. Ronning, 20, has 55 goals and 22 assists in 64 games with the Giants this season. . . . He is the WHL’s second-leading goal scorer and now holds the Giants’ record for goals in one season. . . . The 5-foot-9, 172-pound Ronning was a seventh-round pick by the Rangers in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . He finished last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, and had two goals and three assists in 12 games. . . . He is the son of former WHL/NHL F Cliff Ronning. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on Ty’s signing right here.


JUST NOTES . . .

The Portland Winterhawks will induct former players Andrew Ference, Marian Hossa, Brendan Morrow and Todd Robinson into their Hall of Fame on Saturday night, prior to a game against the visiting Tri-City Americans. At the same time, they will honour the 1998 Memorial Cup-winning team, with most of the players and coaches from that team expected to be on hand. The ceremony will be emceed by the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, who was the radio voice of the Winterhawks for so many years. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings announced Monday that should they qualify for the playoffs, they will play their first-round home games at Credit Union Place in Dauphin, Man. As always happens, the Wheat Kings will get bumped from their home arena, Westoba Place, by the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair. . . . The Wheat Kings, who have seven games remaining, hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, four points ahead of Prince Albert and eight ahead of Saskatoon. 


TheCoachingGame

The MJHL’s Dauphin Kings are looking for a general manager and head coach. . . . The Kings started the season with Marc Berry as the GM and head coach. But they fired him in November after a 4-18-2 start. . . . Mitch Giguere, an assistant coach since August, was named interim GM and head coach on Nov. 19. At the time, the Kings stated that they would be “looking into all options” to fill the GM/head coach position following the season. . . . The Kings finished the season at 14-44-2 — 10th in the 11-team league — and didn’t make the playoffs. . . . There’s more on the opening right here.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert at Moose Jaw

Brandon at Medicine Hat

Regina at Swift Current

Red Deer at Lethbridge

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

MONDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Lethbridge at Brandon, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Regina at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.

Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Spokane at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

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