COVID-19 finds the Chiefs; three games postponed . . . Howdy, Neighbours . . . Ice’s new rink on hold indefinitely

Flanders


It took until this week but the COVID-19 virus has found the WHL.

The league now has postponed three games involving the Spokane Chiefs, who had two players test positive this week.

SpokaneThe Chiefs were to have played the host Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night and then travel to Victoria for Friday and Saturday dates with the Royals. Those games are expected to be rescheduled.

The two Chiefs players who tested positive, according to the WHL, “are fully vaccinated in accordance with the WHL mandatory vaccination policy.”

The Chiefs have halted all team activities, including practices and off-ice training “pending further test results.”

Under the WHL’s protocols, it requires that “all roster players, hockey operations staff, and other team and league office personnel be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine.” At the same time, the WHL “strongly recommended to each of its teams that players reside in billet households in which all eligible individuals are fully vaccinated.”

Spokane last played Friday and Saturday, losing twice to the visiting Silvertips — 5-4 and then 2-1 in OT — but according to the WHL “there are no other WHL clubs considered high-risk close contacts.”

With the two weekend games postponed, the Chiefs next are scheduled to play on Nov. 19 when they are to play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Nov. 20 when they are scheduled to be in Everett.

On Thursday, the Chiefs, with five forwards on the WHL injury list, acquired F Carter Streek, 17, from the Saskatoon Blades for a seventh-round selection in the 2022 draft. Streek, from Kamloops, was a fourth-round pick by the Portland Winterhawks in the 2019 draft. He is pointless in 21 career games, six of them this season, all with the Blades.

The Chiefs are listing F Reed Jacobson as being out month-to-month, with F Erik Atchison, F Grady Lane and F Michael Cicek all week-to-week. F Bear Hughes and D Graham Sward are shown as day-to-day.


THE RICH GET RICHER: The NHL’s St. Louis Blues returned F Jake Neighbours, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday. He had one goal and one assist in Edmontonnine regular-season games with the Blues. Yes, a 10th game would have kicked his three-year contract into gear. . . . He is expected to be in Edmonton’s lineup tonight against the host Regina Pats. . . . Neighbours, who was selected by the Blues with the 26th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft, had 70 points, including 23 goals, in 64 games in 2019-20. In the 2021 development season, he put up nine goals and 24 assists in 19 games. . . . The Oil Kings were No. 5 in the CHL’s latest weekly rankings, behind the Winnipeg Ice (1), London Knights (2), Kamloops Blazers (3) and Everett Silvertips (4). Yes, WHL teams occupied four of the top five slots and the Seattle Thunderbirds showed up at No. 9.


Fingers


POSTPONE A GAME? NOT YET: While the WHL was dealing with two positive tests on the Spokane Chiefs’ roster, the NHL’s Ottawa Senators found nhl2themselves with nine players and a coach on the COVID-19 protocol list. . . . D Josh Brown was added to the list on Wednesday, joining F Connor Brown, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete and F Austin Watson. As well, associate coach Jack Capuano tested positive and went into isolation. . . . Then, on Thursday morning, Ottawa had to add G Matt Murray and F Alex Formenton to the list. And on Friday afternoon they put D Nikita Zaitsev on the list. . . . If you were wondering how many players would have to be on a team’s protocol list for the NHL to postpone a game, it would seem that nine isn’t the answer. The Senators met the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. . . . After Zaitsev was added to the list, the Senators recalled Finnish D Lassi Thomson from AHL-Belleville and he made his NHL debut in what was a 2-0 loss to the Kings. Thomson, the 19th selection in the NHL’s 2019 draft, had 17 goals and 24 assists with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets in 2018-19. . . . The Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues all have dealt with outbreaks this season. The Sharks played on the weekend with seven players out of the lineup.


NEW HOME FOR ICE? NOT SO FAST: Because you asked, the Cranbrook Bucks are averaging 2,236 fans through five home games. That’s second in the BCHL, Winnipegbehind the Penticton Vees (2,342). . . . Because you’re wondering, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, which has played nine home games in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena, is averaging 1,603. The Ice announced attendance of 1,621 for each of its first eight games, then 1,456 for the ninth one. . . . Does anyone know the status of that new arena the folks who moved the WHL team from Cranbrook to Winnipeg said they would be building? Well, it turns out a new arena isn’t about to happen. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the Ice “won’t have a new home anytime soon and will extend their stay at the University of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena for the 2022-23 season and likely beyond.” Sawatzky added that “to date, no plan for the construction of a new arena has been established.” . . . More from Sawatzky: “Ice owners Greg Fettes, who serves as chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the club’s president and general manager, have been silent on the subject. WHL commissioner Ron Robison did not respond to a request for comment.”


BigBird


SORRY, PORTLAND: F Seth Jarvis is eligible to play another season with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. However, he’s with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and it doesn’t sound as though a return to the WHL is imminent. On Thursday, Kacy Hintz of WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., asked Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour: “Do you see any benefit at all in sending Seth Jarvis back to junior?” . . . The coach’s reply: “For the junior team, maybe.” . . . Jarvis has a goal and an assist in four games with Carolina this season. He put up 166 points, 73 of them goals, in 154 regular-season games over four seasons with the Winterhawks.


THE MOOSOMIN BLADES: Les Lazaruk, who has been calling Saskatoon Blades’ games since Noah set sail, tweeted from Moosomin, Sask., on Thursday night. Blades“Storm-stayed Thursday night in Moosomin.” . . . The Blades are scheduled to meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon tonight — “Assuming the Trans-Canada Skating Rink is more like a highway in the morning,” Lazaruk tweeted — and then travel to face the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday and Sunday. . . . At cjwwradio.com, Lazaruk wrote that the Blades encountered freezing rain, snow and gusty north winds east of Regina. “The first sign of a problem,” he added, “came around 3:30 Thursday afternoon when the Blue and Gold’s bus, piloted by Cal Loeppky, was forced to stop just east of Broadview while tow trucks rescued jack-knifed semi-trailer units out of the ditch. After a 45-minute stop, traffic moved again, but at an average speed of 30 kilometres-per-hour.” Upon hearing that there were more vehicles ditched and waiting for recovery east of Moosomin, the decision was made to stop for the night. Yes, they had supper at the Red Barn. . . . Lazaruk tells me that the Blades last were storm-stayed “in February of either 2018 or 2019” while on their way to Cranbrook to meet the Ice. (Remember when Cranbrook was in the WHL?) . . . The Blades spent a night in Pincher Creek, Alta., then headed to Cranbrook the next morning. The Blades won 3-2 in 2018 and 8-3 in 2019.


Rodgers


COVID GOES TO COLLEGE: You may be aware that California-Berkeley’s home game against the USC Trojans has been moved from Saturday to Dec. 4 because of positive tests among Golden Bears players. But did you know that there were at least 44 positives? . . . Matthai Chakko, a spokesperson for Berkeley Public Health, told the San Francisco Chronicle via email that “cases emerged in an environment of ongoing failure to abide by public health measures.” Chakko told the newspaper that there were players who didn’t get tested when sick or stay home when ill, and they didn’t wear masks while indoors. . . . There are 117 players and staff in the Golden Bears program and all but two are fully vaccinated. Those two both have tested positive. . . . Cal had scratched 24 players the previous weekend so the roster was short for what was a 10-3 loss to Arizona in Tucson.


TRAVELIN’ MAN: F Trentyn Crane, 18, is from Morden, Man. He began this hockey season with the WHL’s Victoria Royals, going pointless in four games. . . . His junior A rights were owned by the OCN Blizzard, who play out of The Pas, Man. . . . Crane had played 37 games with the Blizzard in 2019-20 and six last season. . . . Well, the Blizzard dealt Crane to the Summerside Capitals this week, getting future considerations in return. The Capitals are located in Prince Edward Island. . . . Summerside is 5,676 km from Victoria. . . . Might be time for junior A hockey to start a new recruiting campaign — “Come Play With Us and See Canada!”


Options


GREAT START: G Zach Fucale played in his first NHL game on Thursday night when he started for the visiting Washington Capitals and blanked the Detroit Red Wings, 2-0, with 21 saves. Fucale, 26, is the 26th goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout in his first start. . . . Interestingly, he is the final player from the Canadian team that won gold at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal to play in the NHL. Fucale and Eric Comrie were the goaltenders as Canada went 7-0 and beat Russia, 5-4, in the final. Head coach Benoit Groulx rotated the pair through the round-robin, then went with Fucale in all three playoff games. . . . If you’re wondering who else was on that team — you can start with Connor McDavid — the complete roster is right here.


COACHING CHANGE: The OHL’s Erie Otters fired head coach Chris Hartsburg on Thursday, with associate coach B.J. Adams replacing him. . . . The Otters are 3-7-1 as they prepare to meet the Storm in Guelph tonight and then entertain the London Knights on Saturday. . . . Hartsburg, a former head coach for two seasons (2009-11) with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, signed with the Otters in June 2017, replacing Kris Knoblauch, another former WHL coach, who had guided the team to the 2016 OHL title. . . . Hartsburg’s contract was to have expired after this season. . . . Adams is in his seventh season on Erie’s coaching staff.


Paramedics


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.


Minigolf

Victoria bows out, three remain in running for 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Signings, signings, everywhere a signing . . . Murray Westgate dies at 100

ThisThat

And then there were three . . .

The Victoria Royals bowed out of the race for the 2020 Memorial Cup on Monday, leaving the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets still in the hunt.

Victoria, with Vancouver, will play host to the 2019 World Junior Championship. With the VictoriaRoyalshigh costs associated with attending events such as the Memorial Cup and the WJC, and considering that the Royals would be asking their ticket-buying public to support both events, you can bet that the organization and the bid committee grew wary of going to the well once too often.

“Everybody wants to be the very, very best. Not just win the bid but win the bid in a way that the Memorial Cup you put on is the best one that’s ever been put on,” Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, told Marlon Martens, the team’s radio voice. “I think we’re close. I think it’s possible we could win this bid for 2020. But the truth of it is there are a number of boxes that I think we will tick much, much better two or three years down the road.

“Everything from our club and the building of the club, although that’s a secondary issue for us. I think we’ll be competitive in 2020, but the venue . . . there’s some changes we want to make to the arena that would enhance it for the fans and for everybody and the community.

“We are just about to embark on a wonderful World Junior Championship and it’s a significant ask of our fans to buck up every year for season tickets — which they do and our base grows every year — and then go to that market and ask them to pay not an insignificant amount for World Juniors, which is a big tournament, and then ask them again the following season to buck up again for a big tournament like the Memorial Cup.

“Those things are all factors I think we could overcome, but when you combine them we have to think about the reality of the very best time to bid.”

Hope admitted that this decision has been a while coming.

“The bid committee has been working on this for a few months . . . assessing what our bid would look like for 2020 and whether or not we think it’s the right year to go,” Hope said. “The bid committee has decided they are going to focus on 2023.

“We agonized over it . . . spent a lot of time deciding whether or not it was the right thing . . . it’s clearly the right thing to do.”

Martens’ complete interview with Hope is right here.

The Rockets, of course, were the host team in 2004 and it was such a good show that it KelownaRocketswas the benchmark for Memorial Cup tournaments to that point. Obviously, the city and the organization know what it takes, and there isn’t any doubt but that they would put on a terrific show.

Kelowna’s bid committee is headed up by Tom Dyas, a former president of the city’s chamber of commerce. Paul Mitchell and Bill Winter, who headed up the bid committee prior to the 2004 event, also are heavily involved.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, has said that the team will foot the bill for the tournament, including about $100,000 to improve dressing rooms in Prospera Place.

“This is the Kelowna Rockets putting this on,” Hamilton said at a news conference in April. “We’ll get some support I’m sure from other areas, but the city is taking no risk at all except they’ll be very involved in helping to prepare the bid.”

The Blazers announced in November that they would be bidding for 2020, which will Kamloops1mark the 25th anniversary of their having won the 1995 tournament.

Norm Daley of Daley and Co., who has been involved in bid committees that have brought numerous events to Kamloops, including the 2016 IIHF World Women’s Championship, heads up the Blazers’ bid committee.

“One thing is, we’ve lost,” Daley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in April. “So we understand we didn’t get the 2013 women’s worlds (curling), we didn’t get the 2009 Olympic curling trials. So we’ve lost.

“So we understand where maybe there’s some shortcomings in what the bid process is when we did it those times . . . so we have that understanding of what it takes to win, so we actually have won a number of other ones . . . so that’s the big thing. We can take the information of what we maybe did wrong in those bids and use it for our advantage in this one.”

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes, with Bill Reddick of Mercer Wilde Group Charter LethbridgeAccountants chairing the bid committee, have received assurances from city council that it will kick in $750,000, along with $250,000 in in-kind services, should the bid be successful. The in-kind package would include such things as costs, including labour, involved with the use of the ENMAX Centre.

While Kelowna no doubt is alone as the favourite now that Victoria is out, you have to think that Lethbridge is at least a sentimental favourite, even with the tournament having been held in Red Deer in 2016. (Prior to that, it hadn’t been held in Alberta since 1974 when it was played in the Calgary Corral.) After all, it was slightly more than three years ago when the franchise was in dire financial straits. The team had missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and had lost well over $1 million in the process. On top of that, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell to private interests.

Since then, well, Peter Anholt has taken over as the general manager, things are looking up on the ice, where the Hurricanes have reached the Eastern Conference final each of the past two seasons. Anholt and the likes of Terry Huisman, the GM of business operations, have got things turned around to the point where the organization announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season.

The Blazers, Hurricanes and Rockets will present their bids to the WHL’s board of governors at a meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. It is expected that the host city will be named later that same day.


This is why you won’t find any scrimmage-related news on this site . . . I am retired and can’t afford to pay the fine.


F Kole Gable, who helped the Swift Current Broncos win a WHL title last season, will SCBroncosopen this season with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Gable, 20, is from Fort McMurray. . . . Last season, he had six goals and 10 assists in 68 regular-season games with the Broncos, then added one assist in 26 playoff games. . . . Gable was a ninth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2013 bantam draft. He played 61 games with the Oil Kings before being dealt to the Broncos during the 2016-17 season. . . . In 166 regular-season WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 21 assists. . . . The Broncos have five 20-year-olds on their roster — F Kaden Elder, F Andrew Fyten, Russian D Artyom Minulin, F Tanner Nagel and D Ryan Pouliot. Minulin, who is from Russia, would be a two-spotter should he return.


The Prince George Cougars have signed F Craig Armstrong, a first-round selection, ninth PrinceGeorgeoverall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, to a contract. From Airdrie, Alta., he led his hometown bantam AAA Xtreme in scoring in the regular season and playoffs. He put up 23 goals and 31 assists in 34 regular-season games, then added 14 goals and nine assists in 13 playoff games. He also had three goals and four assists in five games at the Western Canadian bantam AAA championship tournament.

Armstrong’s signing leaves two of the 22 first-round selections without WHL contracts. . . . F Trevor Wong, taken 18th overall by Kelowna, attended the Rockets’ camp but has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . The Cougars took G Tyler Brennan of Winnipeg with the second-last pick of the first round and have yet to sign him.

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The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

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The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed Sammy May, 15, to a WHL contract. May, from SaskatoonRichmond, B.C., was an 11th-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . “Despite his position in the draft, May quickly earned himself an offer on the final day of training camp,” the Blades said in a news release. . . . Last season, with a bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy, he had 11 goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . May is expected to get a taste of WHL action when the Blades open their exhibition season against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Thursday.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed G Mads Sogaard, who will turn 18 on Dec. 13, and F Tigers Logo OfficialCaleb Willms, a 16-year-old from Cochrane, Alta. . . . Sogaard, from Aalborg, Denmark, was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. The 6-foot-7, 190-pounder played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, going 2.64, .909 in 22 appearances. . . . He is expected to push veteran Jordan Hollett, 19, for playing time. . . . Willms, a list player, spent last season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR  Bisons, putting up three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca to a WHL contract. SeattleKukuca, who will turn 19 on Nov. 14, scored 43 goals and added 27 assists in 44 games for Trencin’s team in Slovakia’s U-20 junior league last season. He added 18 goals and 10 assists in 18 playoff games. . . . The Thunderbirds have yet to sign their other 2018 import draft selection — Czech D Simon Kubicek, who is to turn 17 on Dec. 19 — but it is believed that he is getting his paperwork in order before joining them. He was pointless in four games with the Czech U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup earlier this month.


The Victoria Royals have signed F Trentyn Crane, 15, who was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. From Morden, Man., he had 46 goals and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks, who are based in Morden and play in a Winnipeg league.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed D Lucas Brenton, 15, and D Cole Jordan, who will MooseJawWarriorsturn 16 on Sept. 21, to WHL contracts. . . . From East St. Paul, Man., Brenton was a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Sharks, he had nine goals and 15 assists in 32 games. . . . Jordan, from Brandon, was added to the Warriors’ protected list in January. He had three goals and 15 assists in 46 games with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings last season.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Owen MacNeil, 15, to a WHL contract. He was selected in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Calgary, he had 15 goals and 32 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Royals, and also had a goal and two assists in five games with the minor midget CRAA Blue.


The Tri-City Americans have signed three players — D Bryan McAndrews, 17, from tri-cityEdmonton; F Parker Bell, who will turn 15 on Sept. 26, from Campbell River, B.C.; and F Sequoia Swan, 16, from Winnipeg. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. McAndrews played last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s midget prep Red team, putting up five goals and six assists in 25 games. . . . Last season, Bell scored three goals and added seven assists in 20 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Swan, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, had eight goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy’s elite 15s last season.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


“With football already underway and hockey starting soon,” writes Jack Todd in the pages of the Montreal Gazette, “it’s a good time to talk about toxic parents on the sideline.” . . . This right here is a good piece, and there are a handful of rules, all of them worth following, at the end of it.


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