Silvertips one win from WHL final . . . East final heating up . . . Broncos tell rowdy bunch to cool it

ThisThat

G Carter Hart stopped 29 shots on Thursday night, leading the visiting Everett Silvertips Everettto a 3-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The result left the Silvertips with a 3-1 lead in the WHL’s best-of-seven Western Conference final, with Game 5 scheduled for Everett tonight (Saturday). . . . The Silvertips took a 2-0 second-period lead on goals from F Riley Sutter (6) and F Reece Vitelli (4), and never looked back. . . . Vitelli, who scored twice in 70 regular-season games, has four goals in 14 playoff games. . . . F Matt Fonteyne (6) added an empty-netter for the winners, after F Riley Sawchuk (2) had scored for the home side. . . . Everett F Martin Fasko-Rudas left the game with an undisclosed injury. His status for Game 5 isn’t likely to be known much before tonight’s pregame warmup. . . . The announced attendance was 3,537, representing the Americans’ largest crowd in six home playoff games. The Americans’ average announced attendance in these playoffs is 3,056 in the 6,000-seat Toyota Center. . . . During the regular season, the Americans’ average, according to announced attendance figures, was 3,649.


The WHL’s Eastern Conference final, with the Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes tied 2-2, is scheduled to resume tonight (Saturday) in Swift Current.

Things seem to be heating up, too, especially off the ice.

Following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final, won 5-1 by the host Hurricanes on Wednesday, Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, used his Twitter account to take Lethbridge hockey fans to task.

Dylan Purcell, a former Lethbridge Herald sports writer, chimed in with a tweet of his own.

Estephan, 20, played 288 regular-season games with the Hurricanes and was the team captain when he and G Stuart Skinner were traded to the Broncos in January.

Lethbridge fans responded Wednesday by booing Estephan when he was in possession of the puck. Of course, they also verbally abused Skinner, but that pretty much comes with the territory for a visiting team’s goaltender, doesn’t it?

Skinner responded by saying: “I’m fine with it. I like when fans get on me, but I would have expected a little bit more respect for the fans. Especially after everything me and Giorgio did for them.

“It kind of shows you the type of respect they have for us and how fast things can change. I’m fine with it . . . I saw it coming a long (time) ago.

“I want to beat the fans now. I’m ready to go.”

Meanwhile, in advance of Game 5, the Broncos announced a crackdown on “abusive or violent behaviour” at their home games. It seems the rowdies have been in evidence there, too.

In a news release, Trent McLeary, the organization’s acting chairman, stated that the SCBroncosteam “would like to ensure all of our fans that we are aware of incidents that have occurred at a couple of games in the first two rounds of playoffs involving visiting fans from Regina and Moose Jaw.

“Management from the hockey club has discussed behavioural issues with a number of individuals involved in incidents and made them aware there is zero tolerance for this behaviour in the future. All fans should be aware that abusive or violent behaviour will result in removal from the facility by security personnel and may be subject to review by the RCMP. . . .

“There have also been changes made to the seating arrangements for visiting fans to ensure everyone is having a safe and fun time at our events. We encourage our fans to hold themselves and others to a high standard that reflects appropriately on the hockey club and our community.”


The SJHL-champion Nipawin Hawks, led by three goals and an assist from F Brandan Arnold, downed the host Steinbach Pistons, 4-3, on Friday night in Game 1 of the ANAVET Cup. The best-of-seven series features the SJHL and MJHL champions against each other with the winner getting a berth in the Royal Bank Cup tournament at Prospera Place in Chilliwack, B.C., May 12-20. . . . Arnold snapped a 3-3 tie with his third goal at 18:56 of the third period. . . . They’ll play Game 2 tonight (Saturday) in Steinbach. . . . Arnold, 21, is from Dodsland, Sask. He has played 80 WHL games over three seasons, all with the Swift Current Broncos, recording five goals and five assists. . . . The Hawks got 29 saves from G Declan Hobbs.

In Wenatchee, Wash., F A.J. Vanderbeck scored at 6:17 of OT to give the BCHL-champion Wild a 3-2 victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series for the Doyle Cup. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Wenatchee tonight (Saturday). . . . Vanderbeck, 20, is from Monument, Colo. In 20 playoff games, he put up 13 goals and 15 assists. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky gave the Wild a 2-1 lead at 12:51 of the third period. . . . Spruce Grove D Brad Forrest tied it at 14:22. . . . The announced attendance was 2,486.


TheCoachingGame

Jeff Tambellini is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke TrailEaters. He replaces Cam Keith, who was fired on April 9 after two seasons on the job and despite having gotten the Smokies into the Interior Division final, where they lost in five games to the eventual-champion Wenatchee Wild. . . . From Port Moody, B.C., Tambellini played two seasons with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, during which he was named junior A player of the year in 2001-02. He played at the U of Michigan for three seasons before going on to a pro career that included 242 NHL games and finished in Europe. . . . He spent this season, his first after retiring as a player, as an assistant coach at the U of Michigan. . . . Tambellini’s father, Steve, is from Trail, while Steve’s father, Addie, played for the 1960-61 Smoke Eaters, the last amateur team from Canada to win the IIHF world championship.


Jay Woodcroft is the new head coach of the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Woodcroft takes over from Gerry Fleming who, along with assistant coach Tony Borgford, were fired. . . . Woodcroft, 41, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Oilers, under head coach Todd McLellan. The two of them also were together for three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and seven with the San Jose Sharks. . . . This season, the Condors finished 31-27-9-1. They were seventh in the eight-team Pacific Division and missed the playoffs. . . . The Oilers also dumped assistant coaches Ian Herbers and Jim Johnson. . . . Herbers just completed a three-year sabbatical from the U of Alberta Golden Bears and will be returning to that post. Serge Lajoie, who was the head coach in Herberrs’ absence, has been interviewed by the Saskatoon Blades, who are looking for a head coach to replace the fired Dean Brockman. . . . With Herbers behind the bench, the Golden Bears won the Canadian university championship in 2014 and 2015. Lajoie just led the Golden Bears to the 2018 title.


Dominique Ducharme, the head coach of Canada’s national junior team at each of the past two World Junior Championships, has been signed as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . A veteran QMJHL coach, Ducharme spent the past two seasons as GM/head coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads for five seasons. . . . The Canadiens also announced that assistant coaches Jean-Jacques Daigneault and Dan Lacroix won’t return, while goaltender coach Stephane Waite has signed a new contract.


MacBeth

F Mike Aviani (Spokane, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract extension with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). A dual Croatian-Canadian citizen, he had 10 goals and 14 assists in 50 games. . . .

F Andrew Clark (Brandon, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract extension with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). In 54 games, he had 24 goals and 35 assists. He led his team in scoring and was sixth in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Ryan Hollweg (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) signed a one-year contract extension with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). In 41 games, he had two goals and two assists. Next season will be his seventh with Plzeň. . . .

D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 45 games. He led his team in goals, led the league in goals and points by a defenceman, and was named to the league’s all-star team. . . .

D Kristian Khenkel (Lethbridge, 2013-14) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). In 55 games, he had two goals and three assists. . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract extension with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). An alternate captain, he had six goals and seven assists in 36 games.


Tweetoftheday

Advertisements

Scattershooting . . . Drawing goes viral . . . Big League for Broncos . . . Vandekamp back in coaching game

Scattershooting

A drawing showing players from the Humboldt Broncos asking Jonathan Pitre to join them in a game of shinny has exploded on social media. If you haven’t seen it, it’s in the tweet below. . . . It is the work of Kerry MacGregor, whose father, Roy, writes for The Globe and Mail and whose essay on the Broncos’ tragedy was linked to here on Monday. . . . The father and daughter have been in the news this year because of the release of their children’s book The Ice Chips and the Magical Rink.


Logan Boulet, a defenceman who didn’t survive the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on Friday, registered as an organ donor as he turned 21 on March 2. That story became most popular on social media when the information was made public by his family. But who was Logan Boulet? Dylan Purcell has the answer right here as he visits with folks who knew Boulet in his hometown of Lethbridge.



There are wordsmiths and there are wordsmiths . . . and then there is Charles P. Pierce. On Tuesday, SI.com posted a Pierce essay that is well worth your time. Yes, it’s about hockey and Humboldt and billet families and a whole lot more, and it’s all right here.


On that subject, here is Doug Johnson, the general manager and head coach of the Nipawin Hawks, talking to Postmedia’s Nick Faris:

“The people (who) are no longer with us were on that bus to play. They were on that bus to chase a dream and make it to the Canalta Cup final. If we don’t play, we do them a huge disservice. To me, the only way to truly honour Humboldt is to play.

“I think it’ll help our players with the grieving process. Will it be tough? Absolutely. Will sometimes it not make sense? Absolutely. But talking with people (who) have been through tragedies, to a person, they just say, ‘Get back and honour them through play. That’s what they would want.”

That conference call is scheduled for today (Wednesday).



Tom Cochrane, who really should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, paid a visit to TSN on Tuesday evening. Cochrane, the pride of Lynn Lake, Man., took the time to treat viewers to a special version of his hit song Big League.


Thank you so much to all who commented on the story I posted here earlier on Tuesday. I am thrilled that so many people read it, and were able to get something positive out of it.

I awoke Tuesday at 3 a.m., after having been asleep for about two hours. I was wide awake, but couldn’t figure out why. As I poked and prodded the depths of my mind, it came to me. Anyone who has written will understand when I suggest that I didn’t get much sleep for the rest of the night.

Again, thank you so much for the reaction. I would respond individually but this, I think, is better than cluttering up timelines.


And now for a couple of BCHL-related items . . .

Mike Vandekamp is back in the coaching game as the general manager and head coach Cowichanof the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals.

Vandekamp was in his seventh season as the Nanaimo Clippers’ GM/head coach when he was fired by new owner Wes Mussio on Dec. 22. Mussio cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the move.

With the Capitals, Vandekamp takes over from Brian Passmore, who will stay on in the area of hockey development, working, according to a news release, with the team’s U-16 program and other youth hockey initiatives.

This season, the Capitals finished 10-41-5, with two ties, and didn’t make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, in Trail, the Smoke Eaters, who are owned by Minnesota businessman Rich Murphy, have fired Cam Keith, their general manager and head coach, after a season in Trailwhich they went 32-21-4, with one tie, and reached the league’s final four for the first time since 2003.

In the second round of the playoffs, the Smokies won a seven-game series from the Penticton Vees, who had finished 17 points ahead of them in the Interior Division. Trail then lost the conference final in five games to the Wenatchee Wild.

Keith’s departure was announced via a one-paragraph, two-sentence, 46-word news release.

Jim Bailey of the Trail Times reported that Keith, who is from Nelson, “was conspicuously absent at the City of Trail ceremony that honoured the team Monday afternoon, and it was revealed later in a press release that Keith had been relieved of his duties that morning.”

Keith completed two seasons in Trail. In 2016-17, they finished 26-26-5, with one tie, good for third in the division.