Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, took part in a virtual gathering with various media on Thursday afternoon, and it’s obvious that the WHL is doing a lot of wishing and hoping.
It really doesn’t have any choice.
Robison talked about a lot of things, starting with the move — from Oct. 2 and then Dec. 4 — to Jan. 8 as a “firm” starting date for a regular season. But through his presentation there really wasn’t anything definitive, all of which shows just how much work is left before the WHL can return to the ice. And as for Jan. 8 being a firm date, well, it may be firm in the WHL office but is it firm in the COVID-19 head office?
The fact of the matter is that the virus is dictating the terms, as it has been doing since March. In the absence of a vaccine, which remains months away from us, the virus will decide if/when the WHL will get a regular season rolling, just like it is deciding what NFL and U.S. college football games will be played.
I won’t go through Robison’s effort piece by piece, but you are able to watch it at the WHL website. Nor will I detail Thursday’s numbers on the virus front, suffice to say that things aren’t looking good in Western Canada, Oregon or Washington state. Of course, Christmas still is more than two months away. So we can hope that things change for the better between now and then.
In the end, we all are like the WHL — wishing and hoping.
With some junior A and junior B leagues having moved to a pay-to-play format, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was adamant on Thursday that his league won’t be moving that way.
On Thursday, according to an excellent Twitter thread put together by Trevor Redden of panow.com and the radio voice of the Raiders, Robison told media that the “WHL is responsible for 100 per cent of player expenses. That’s the arrangement and we intend to honour that. We have a commitment through player agreement, and that’s the model. Have to admire ownership . . .”
According to Redden, Robison also made it clear that “owners have made it clear they’re committed to the players and their development. They’re prepared to meet commitment despite financial implications.”
Robison, Redden tweeted, re-affirmed his “admiration for owners resolving to make it work.”
Robison didn’t mentioned WHL and team employees who have been furloughed or laid off, some of them since March.
A few weeks ago, my wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant seven years ago, took in an organ transplant-related webinar that included a doctor who specializes in liver transplants. He said something that really stuck with me:
“You won’t find the virus; it will find you.”
So allow me to flash back to early September when the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League was working to get its season off the ground. As it turned out, the 100 Mile House Wranglers were one of three teams to opt out of the 2020-21 season.
As Wranglers president Greg Aiken told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press:
“We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.”
At the time, Aiken added that “we’re all disappointed. There’s nothing I want more than to bring hockey back this season but not with this risk. Our hospital would be overwhelmed. For seven years we’ve had tremendous support from the town, our fans, sponsorship. They’re our lifeblood so we want to make sure we don’t put them at risk.”
Thinking about their community and its health workers has moved the Wranglers to the top of my list of favourite teams.
There are reports that the Quebec government will be giving the QMJHL $12 million in subsidies to spread among its 12 Quebec-based franchises. That will be part of $70 million that is ticketed to the sports and leisure community, according to the Journal de Quebec.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
Terrible milestone: NBC News confirms over 8 million total COVID-19 cases in the United States
The NFL’s Atlanta Falcons shut down their facility on Thursday after there was a positive test within their organization. The Falcons (0-5), who fired GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn on Sunday, are scheduled to visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. . . .
Fred Dean, a hall-of-fame defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers, died on Wednesday of complications connected to COVID-19. He was 68. In 11 seasons with the 49ers, he won two Super Bowls and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981. . . .
U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, has cancelled 2021 national championships for all of its winter sports. Dick White, the interim CEO, said in a news release: ““Following consultations with the four conferences, we agreed that student-athlete safety remains our top priority. It is not logistically possible for teams to be travelling across the country at this time.” . . . Sports impacted are men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, swimming, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Curling championships were cancelled earlier by Curling Canada. . . .
The U of Ottawa has suspended its football team after five players tested positive. According to a statement received by CTV News Ottawa, the training program was shut down until further notice after the university received reports that some players were not following self-isolation rules. . . .
The U of New Mexico is scheduled to open its Mountain West Conference schedule on Oct. 24. But, the Albuquerque Journal reported, it had to pause all football workouts on Thursday after eight players and a coach came up positive. . . .
No. 8 Cincinnati won’t be playing at the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes on Saturday after an undisclosed number of positive tests with the Bearcats forced the game to be postponed. It has been rescheduled for Dec. 5. . . . Four games that had been scheduled for Saturday now have been postponed. . . .
Remember reading here about the Yale hockey team that shut things down a few days ago because of six positive tests. Well, the Yale Daily News reports that the total now is 18. . . .
WGME in Maine reported Thursday that “as many as 400 youth hockey players in southern Maine are in quarantine after a referee tested positive.” . . . Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine’s CDC director, said: “This is an individual who was on the ice as a referee for a total of eight games over a two-day period.” . . . One of the teams that played in that stretch is coached by former WHLer Brad Church (Prince Albert, 1993-97). He and his son, Weston, have both been tested and were told they are negative. “We’re taking this very, very seriously,” Church said. According to Church, players were masks until they get on the ice. But, he said, “Refs have not being wearing masks.”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Wishing everyone a happy thanksgiving weekend. Covid is still very much here, and cases are rising as anticipated. This is still very much our reality. If not vigilant for yourself, pls be for all those who can’t fight the virus. Do it for your gramma.We all love our Grammas!👊🐔
If it hasn’t been apparent before, it should be now.
The WHL, which has maintained that its teams can’t/won’t operate without being allowed to play before crowds of 50 per cent capacity, won’t be playing for a while in B.C., not unless something changes.
Brendan Pawliw, a reported with Vista Radio and mypgnow.com, spoke with Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, on Tuesday.
Here is what Dr. Henry said in regards to attendance at such events as hockey games:
“We have been in ongoing discussions with a number of professional and amateur sports leagues about how to do sports safely, and the challenge we are going to have particularly as we go into the next few months is that we’re not having large groups of people together.
“In B.C., the order around no more than 50 people still stands and I know that the WHL and the BCHL are very dependent on gate receipts to keep the league going. But it is just very dangerous during this pandemic to have people in that type of an environment, so I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year.
“I know that’s a difficult thing for these leagues and I know the government is looking at how we can support these leagues or postpone seasons until we have something like a vaccine, so it’s still ongoing . . . very concerning and challenging discussions.”
The Prince Albert Raiders, who won the WHL championship in 2018-19, held their annual general meeting on Wednesday night and announced they had lost $331,895 in 2019-20, quite a difference from a year ago when they revealed a profit of $633,314.
The WHL has four community-owned teams that are required to hold AGMs and release their financial statements.
Late last month, the Swift Current Broncos announced a loss of $791,000 for the abbreviated 2019-20 season, while the Moose Jaw Warriors dropped $391,299.
I will do the math for you . . . the three Saskatchewan-based community-owned teams combined to lose $1,514,194.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes, the WHL’s fourth community-owned team, is to hold their AGM sometime in November.
Prior to their championship season, the Raiders had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of five seasons; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.
When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.
The pandemic short-circuited any kind of playoff run, though, and the results of that were evident on Wednesday night.
In explaining the loss, Gord Broda, the Raiders’ president, mentioned a couple of things that were pandemic-related. The Memorial Cup, which was to have been played in Kelowna, was cancelled, taking with it a revenue-sharing plan that included WHL teams. With the season ending prematurely, Sportsnet didn’t have to fulfil the financial aspects of its contract with the CHL.
There also was the matter of a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit that the CHL chose to settle for $30 million. The Raiders say they had to pay $166,667 as their share of the settlement. Interstingly, the Warriors, at their AGM, said their share of that settlement was $180,846. (BTW, that settlement, while agreed to by the parties involved, hasn’t yet been approved by the court.)
“If you take those things out of the equation,” Broda told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald, “we would have had another season in the black.”
BREAKING: Major setback in Czech Republic; Minister of Health Roman Prymula stops all professional and amateur sports in the country for at least 14 days from coming Monday, thus responding to the worsened coronavirus situation. https://t.co/3Y8Y4Yk0CWpic.twitter.com/uTliNa5JHy
The QMJHL appears to have lost another team at least until the end of October. The Drummondville Voltigeurs play out of a region that is being declared a red zone by the provincial government, which means suspending play until at least month’s end. . . . The Voltigeurs are expected to play two weekend games — tonight and Saturday against the visiting Val-d’Or Huskies — and then shut things down. . . . The same thing has happened to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Quebec Remparts. . . . Meanwhile, the Sherbrooke Phoenix has been hit by at least eight positive tests after playing a weekend doubleheader agains the Armada, which has had 18 positives. The Phoenix also has shut down operations indefinitely.
With officials in the Saskatchewan government having approved return-to-play guidelines the SJHL has the OK to begin exhibition games on Oct. 17 and start its regular season on Nov. 1. . . . The Regina Leader-Post has more on the province’s return to play right here.
The NFL’s Tennessee Titans reported two more positive tests on Thursday, bringing the total to 25, and there were reports that the NFL and NFLPA are looking into multiple instances of players taking part in unauthorized workouts. Once the positive tests started coming in, the team was ordered to shut down everything. Apparently, some players held workouts away from the team’s facility. . . . With the Titans’ facility still closed on Thursday, the NFL moved Sunday’s game with the visiting Buffalo Bills to Tuesday night. Of course, that is only if there aren’t more positives with the Titans. . . . The Bills were scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 15, but that game will go to Oct. 18, as long as the Buffalo-Tennessee game doesn’t get postponed again. . . .
Les Miles, the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks football team, has tested positive. Miles, 66, found out Thursday and is in self-isolation. . . . Kansas is next scheduled to play on Oct 17 when it visits West Virginia. . . .
The New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes 11 NCAA Division III schools, has cancelled its winter season. The conference said the decision by NESCAC presidents was unanimous. . . . The schools involved are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College. . . .
St. Francis Xavier University, which is located in Antigonish, N.S., “has suspended all varsity practices and training privileges for two weeks after some student-athletes attended a Saturday off-campus party that exceeded more than 50 people,” reports Glenn MacDonald of the Halifax Chronicle Herald. . . . Leo MacPherson, the school’s director of athletics and recreation, said “there were a number of athletes from a number of teams present . . . in numbers greater than allowed by the public health authority guidelines.” . . . The complete story is right here. . . .
NBC New York reported Thursday night that The Broadway League is to announce today that the theatres will remain closed through May 30, 2021. Broadway performances have been shut down since March 12.
Under what once was considered normal circumstances, the 22-team WHL would start a regular season in late September. Each team would play 68 regular-season games, with playoffs — four rounds of best-of-seven series — beginning in late March.
In other words, teams would take six months to play those 68 games. In 2018-19, the teams played the regular season in 178 days, then took 53 days to complete the playoffs.
Then, like the big, bad wolf, along came the coronavirus and the resulting disruption of all things normal.
A few weeks ago, the WHL announced that it hoped to open its 68-game regular season on Oct. 2.
On Thursday, the goal posts moved again; now the WHL is targeting Dec. 4 as opening day, and continues to say it plans on having each team play 68 games.
While the WHL didn’t reveal a closing date, the OHL on Wednesday said that it hopes to play a 64-game season from Dec. 1 through April 29, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for June 17-27.
Presumably the WHL will be following a similar blueprint, meaning it will have to play its regular season in five months. Should it get to open on Dec. 4 and play through April 29, each of its teams would play 68 games in 147 days — 31 fewer days than it took to play the same number of games in 2018-19.
That means teams would be playing as many as four games a week. There likely would be an increase in the dreaded three-in-three weekends. You may recall that decreasing the number of tripleheader weekends was one of the reasons given when the league shortened its schedule from 72 games.
A Dec. 4 start surely would mean a shorter Christmas break — the league stopped for 10 days in 2018-19 and nine days in 2019-20.
But let’s be honest. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a season.
As the WHL’s news release read, all of this “remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial/state jurisdictions in WHL territory.”
The WHL’s announcement didn’t mention the situation involving the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, something that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2020, at least not at B.C. crossings. That would lead to teams playing inside their own divisions for the early part of a schedule.
The news release also didn’t mention players and school. The OHL said Wednesday that it will have its players stay home and start school there, so it likely is safe to assume that the WHL do the same as everyone awaits further developments.
The most important thing to remember is that everything — and I do mean everything — is fluid.
What follows are some thoughts from a few WHL officials, all speaking after Thursday’s announcement . . .
Gord Broda, the president of the Prince Albert Raiders, who are the WHL’s defending champions, told Trevor Redden of panow.com: “As frustrating as this (process) has been, I just can’t emphasize enough that as a league, safety is at the forefront. Safety for our players, safety for the people in our buildings when we get going, safety for our fans. We’re at a time where patience is necessary.”
Broda also said: “I’ll speak for the Prince Albert Raiders only, even at 50 per cent capacity, we’re going to have financial shortfalls. I think it’s a realistic goal as a starting point to maybe work with our medical authorities and hopefully they find that an acceptable capacity level. And at the same time at least it’s a reasonable start from a financial perspective. It’s going to be financially very challenging to have reduced capacity in all the buildings. We all know we’re a ticket-driven venue and we’ve got to have fans in the seats.” . . .
Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Being fluid is really important. If the border remains closed, we’ll have to deal with it. If it opens and there are restrictions we have to adhere to, we’ll see if that’s workable and make those decisions as we go.” . . .
Brent Sutter, owner, president, general manager, and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, told Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate: “We gotta have people in the building, no question. We have to have some kind of attendance and that’s our goal right now. And yet we’ll just have to see where it goes because it continues to move. It’s a moving target that’s changing all the time. It changes from week to week. You look at the other leagues — junior A leagues, American Hockey League, National Hockey League — no one is going to be playing in November.”
Ron Robison, WHL commissioner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity. We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”
Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of the Everett Silvertips, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “The anticipation was that we would be further ahead with (the pandemic) within not only Washington and Oregon, but the four western provinces. The more we looked at things and the way (Washington) is in a holding pattern with Phase 2 (of the state’s reopening plan), it was probably the only decision we can look at. They’re talking about us in Washington not looking at hosting events until Phase 4, so this makes the most sense now. It gives us time to work through things.”
The Canadian Junior Football League announced Thursday that it has cancelled its 2020 season and has turned its attention to getting a 2021 season off the ground. . . . The CJFL is the governing body for 18 teams in six provinces that play in three conferences. . . .
The U of Alberta’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have been reinstated by Canada West, so will be eligible to play should the conference start up again in January. The reinstatement comes after the programs received a financial infusion from almuni. . . . The athletic department announced on June 17 that it was suspending all Canada West competition for 2020-21 for financial reasons. . . .
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has cancelled football’s 2020 season, while pushing girls volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading to January. . . . The only sports left on Hawaii’s fall high school sports calendar are air riflery and bowling. . . . Delaware also has cancelled its high school football season. There are 12 states who have done that, while at least 28 others have postponed the start of the football season. . . .
The U of Louisville booted three players off its men’s soccer team and suspended three others for their roles in a Saturday off-campus party that resulted in 29 positive tests within the school’s athletic department. The three who were kicked off the team apparently organized the party. Players from both soccer teams, as well as the field hockey and volleyball teams, tested positive. . . .
Today was the deadline for highly paid NFL players to opt out & 66 are gonna sit out the season. Meanwhile, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, most of whom don't get paid, are preparing to go play the Rutgers Covid Positives. What's wrong with this picture?
The NFL’s Green Bay Packers said Thursday that they will play their first two home games without fans. That will be re-evaluated after the two games. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders had announced earlier that they will play the entire season without fans in their brand new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . . Since July 21, when rookies reported to training camps, the NFL has had at least 56 positive tests. . . . The NFL had 66 players opt out of the season by Thursday’s deadline. A complete list is right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
A @KHL story that's gained some traction: Former Kunlun Red Star coaches Curt Fraser, Steve Kasper and Dusty Imoo are pursuing legal action against the team. They argue they had contracts for 2020-21 that were not terminated (in writing) until after their start date (1/2)…
F Tyler Coulter (Brandon, 2012-17) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kristianstad (Sweden, Division 1) after Tyringe (Sweden, Division 1) received monetary compensation from Kristianstad. In 20 games, he had a team-high 12 goals, along with 12 assists. . . . Coulter had a clause in his contract with Tyringe that allowed him to move to another Division 1 club if the new club was in the playoffs. With two games left in the regular season, Tyringe cannot make the playoffs. Kristianstad has qualified for the playoffs for promotion to Allsvenskan for 2019-20.
#PrinceAlbert#Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid, centre, is presented with a jacket and the framed puck and gamesheet for hitting 500 career regular season wins. Puck and gamesheet were from the 500th win in Lethbridge. pic.twitter.com/Odo9lEgZAt
There is an interesting scenario unfolding in Prince Albert where the Raiders are nearing the end of a glorious regular season.
On Friday night, they dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. The Raiders (46-7-3) lead the WHL’s overall standings by 14 points over the Everett Silvertips.
Trevor Redden, writing for panow.com, points out that as rosy things are with the Raiders right now, the future is more than a little hazy.
“As for what lies ahead beyond this season, we still don’t have any answers,” Redden writes. “When the subject of staffing for next season was brought up post-deadline with GM Curtis Hunt, he declined comment on his own status or that of the coaching staff, with all contracts set to expire at the end of this (season).
“As for (head coach Marc) Habscheid, he wasn’t able to provide any further illumination when asked for an update this week on his status beyond this season.
“ ‘No, nothing. Haven’t heard anything so I really don’t know what’s going on. That’s all I can say,’ Habscheid said.”
The staff includes associate coach Jeff Truitt and assistant coach Dan Gendur.
The Raiders, of course, are community-owned, as opposed to having private ownership, something that may, or not, be having an impact on the situation.
Habscheid took over as the Raiders’ head coach on Nov. 1, 2014, replacing the fired Cory Clouston. At the time, the Raiders hired Habscheid to finish the 2014-15 season. On April 21, 2015, the Raiders announced that they had signed Habscheid to a four-year deal running through the end of this season.
As for Hunt, he took over as general manager on June 8, 2015, after the Raiders and Bruno Campese chose to go their separate ways. Interestingly, the Raiders hired Hunt more than six weeks after signing Habscheid. That, of course, goes against the hockey adage about a GM wanting his own coach. And, as the standing show, Hunt and Habscheid appear to be making it work.
Time will tell if they’ll be together again next season.
FWIW: A (now former) OHL GM told me years ago that you need to be exceptionally dumb or burn someone pretty bad to get caught for recruitment violations.
The OHL has fined the Niagara IceDogs a total of $250,000 and taken away 2019 and 2021 first-round draft choices after they were found to have “violated certain league player recruitment policies.” . . . In a Friday afternoon news release, the OHL said that it had the law firm of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottleib LLP handle the investigation.
“The league takes our commitment to our players and their player experience very seriously, which includes ensuring a fair and competitive on-ice experience among all teams,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said in a news release. “In order to maintain the integrity of this player experience and competitiveness within the league, it is critical that all clubs operate within the league recruitment guidelines. When a club ignores these guidelines, significant sanctions are required.”
Later Friday, the IceDogs released this statement: “All current Niagara IceDogs players and hockey operations staff have no involvement in the sanctions assed today by the Ontario Hockey League. An appeal will be filed. Therefore, no comment will be made.”
The Niagara IceDogs aren't talking about the $250k fine they have been assessed for recruiting violations. It wasn't long ago the team's owner said it would be a "catastrophe" if the IceDogs had to pay players min. wage.https://t.co/nSaHXKiMMI
D Zach Wytinck’s OT goal gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Brandon (25-22-7) has won two in a row and is six points from a wild-card playoff spot. . . . Prince Albert (46-7-3) has points in six straight (5-0-1) and has a 14-point lead atop the overall standings. . . . The teams will meet again tonight, this time in Brandon. . . . F Sean Montgomery (23) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 10:35 of the first period. . . . Brandon took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (17), at 13:46, and F Cole Reinhardt (17), at 3:27 of the second period. . . . F Parker Kelly got the Raiders into a tie at 14:10, and F Aliaksei Protas (10) provided them with a 3-2 lead at 2:48 of the third period. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) tied it at 8:43, but Kelly (29) put the Raiders back out front, on a PP, at 13:25. . . . The Wheat Kings scored the last two goals to win it. F Luka Burzan (32) tied it at 13:40, and Wytinck’s fourth goal of the season won it at 3:06 of OT. . . . Parker added an assist to his two goals. . . . G Jiri Patera stopped 28 shots for Brandon, five more than the Raiders’ Boston Bilous. . . . With G Ian Scott still sidelined, Bilous made his third straight start. . . . Montgomery was back in Prince Albert’s lineup after a one-game absence, but Scott and F Brett Leason remain sidelined. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted his story right here.
Pats goalie Max Paddock since the Christmas break:
5-6-0-1 with a 2.40 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.
Goals against average has dropped from 3.93 to 3.41 and his save percentage up to .898 from .880. #WHL
G Max Paddock stopped 32 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 4-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Regina (16-37-3) won’t be in the playoffs this season. . . . Edmonton (31-18-8) leads the Central Division by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours and they also have had a flu bug in their dressing room. The Oil Kings have had illness in their room of late. This time, F Trey Fix-Wolansky and F Quinn Benjafield joined F Zach Russell in being unable to play. . . . Paddock record his second shutout of the season. . . . The Oil Kings were blanked for the first time this season. . . . F Austin Pratt (21) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 11:22 of the first period. . . . F Riley Krane (12) added insurance, on a PP, at 10:24 of the second period, and F Carter Massier (2) upped it to 3-0, while shorthanded, at 14:55. . . . Regina’s final goal came from F Garrett Wright (4) at 10:22 of the third period. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 3-1-0. The Oil Kings had been looking for the second sweep of the Pats in franchise history; the first was in 2010-11.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes got three goals from F Jake Elmer en route to a 7-2 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) has won two in a row. It is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Swift Current (10-40-4) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1). The Broncos have lost 40 games in regulation-time for the first time since 2010-11 (26-44-2). That (44) is the most single-season losses for the Broncos since they moved back to Swift Current from Lethbridge for the 1986-87 season. . . . Elmer gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with first-period goals at 1:47 and 4:41 of the first period. The second of those came while shorthanded. . . . Elmer completed his second career hat trick with a PP goal at 12:43 of the third period. That was the game’s final goal. . . . The Hurricanes got two goals from F Noah Boyko, who has seven, and singles from F Logan Barlage (12) and F Nick Henry (21). . . . F Carter Chorney (12) and D Connor Horning (6) replied for the Broncos, who were 0-8 on the PP. . . . The Hurricanes were 1-3 on the PP. . . . Lethbridge unleashed a season-high 56 shots at G Riley Lamb. . . . G Bryan Thomson stopped 26 shots for Lethbrige.
G Carl Stankowski stopped 29 shots to help the host Calgary Hitmen to a 3-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Calgary (29-21-5) is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. They also are fourth in the Central Division, four points behind the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat (31-20-5) has lost two in a row. They are third in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The same teams will play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . F Mark Kastelic (39) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:40 of the second period. . . . D Egor Zamula (10) made it 2-0 at 7:41. . . . The Tigers got to within a goal at 19:13 as F Elijah Brown scored his 11th goal. . . . F Carson Focht (16) iced it for Calgary at 18:59 of the third period. . . . Medicine Hat got 27 saves from G Jordan Hollett. . . . The Tigers had D Linus Nassen back in their lineup. . . . The Hitmen had Zamula and D Dakota Krebs back from injuries, but remain without F Jake Kryski and G Jack McNaughton.
F Kyle Crnkovic scored twice and added two assists to help the Saskatoon Blades to an 8-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Saskatoon (36-13-8) has points in 12 straight games (10-0-2). It also has won one more game than it won all of last season. The Blades are second in the East Division, 12 points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Kootenay (11-36-8) has lost four in a row. . . . The Blades, in their last appearance in Cranbrook, scored the game’s first four goals to take a 4-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Max Gerlach (36), Crnkovic and F Eric Florchuk, with two, accounted for those goals. Florchuk now has 20 goals. . . . F Peyton Krebs (19) got the Ice on the scoreboard at 11:22 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon responded with the next four goals, from F Chase Wouters (14), F Ryan Hughes, with two, and Crnkovic, who now has nine goals. Hughes has 23. . . . D Martin Bodak (10) and F Jaeger White (22) had the Ice’s last two goals. . . . Crnkovic enjoyed his first career four-point game. . . . Florchuk also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Saskatoon D Dawson Davidson had two assists, running his point streak to 15 games; he has two goals and 26 assists in that stretch. He also has at least one assist in 15 straight games. In his past five games, he has 12 points, including 11 assists. . . . Gerlach had a goal and an assist in running his point streak to 14 games. He has 23 points, including 12 goals, in that stretch. . . . Saskatoon had F Kirby Dach back in the lineup. He had missed two games after being struck on the throat by a puck.
G Max Palaga, in his first start since Jan. 20, stopped 31 shots as the Everett Silvertips beat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna. . . . Everett (39-13-3) has points in three straight games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by nine points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (23-27-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett took a 2-1 lead into the third period; it now is 31-0-1 when leading after two. . . . F Kyle Topping (20) gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 7:26 of the first period. . . . Everett tied it at 12:18 as D Gianni Fairbrother (9) scored, on a PP. . . . Silvertips F Bryce Kindopp broke the tie at 8:18 of the second period, then added his 32nd goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:43 of the third period. . . . G Roman Basran stopped 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . Rockets D Lassi Thomson left the game late in the first period, after being high-sticked by Kindopp, then returned in the second wearing a full cage. . . . That may, or may not, have had something to do with the two head coaches — Everett’s Dennis Williams and Kelowna’s Adam Foote — exchanging greetings late in the first period. . . . Everett headed for home after the game as it has to be in Kent, Wash., to meet the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight. Then it’s off to Prince George for the Silvertips who will play the Cougars on Monday (2 p.m.) and again on Tuesday night.
F Tanner Sidaway scored the game’s first two goals to get the Victoria Royals started to a 4-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Victoria (28-23-3) is second in the B.C. Division, eight points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-6) has lost 14 in a row (0-11-3) and is 10 points from a playoff spot. The Cougars are 0-3-0 since firing head coach Richard Matvichuk and replacing him with general manager Mark Lamb. . . . Sidaway, who has seven goals, scored at 3:50 of the first period and seven seconds into the second, while shorthanded. His second goal set a franchise record as the fastest goal to start a period. The previous record of nine seconds had been done on four occasions. . . . This also was Sidaway’s first multi-goal game. . . . The Cougars cut the deficit in half when F Josh Curtis (12) scored at 6:22. . . . F Kaid Oliver (24) restored the two-goal lead at 16:32, and F Logan Doust (4) added another goal, at 6:46 of the third period. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse posted his 109th regular-season victory, and moved into seventh on the WHL’s all-time list. The record (120) for most career victories is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92). . . . Victoria F Ty Yoder returned to play after being out since Jan. 4.
The Seattle Thunderbirds built up a 5-1 second-period lead and hung on for a 6-4 victory over the Red Deer Rebels in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (22-27-6) holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazes. . . . Red Deer (29-20-5) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Calgary Hitmen for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . F Noah Philp gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 7:45 of the first period, only to have F Zak Smith (10) tie it for Red Deer 37 seconds later. . . . The Thunderbirds responded with four second-period goals, from F Matthew Wedman, Philp (22), on a PP, F Andrej Kukuca (20) and F Henri Rybinski (4). . . . The Rebels got back in it with third-period goals from D Alexander Alexeyev (8), F Oleg Zaytsev (11) and F Reese Johnson (21), the latter scoring at 18:34. . . . Wedman wrapped it up with his 30th goal at 19:03. . . . With his two goals, Wedman, who also had an assist, ran his goal streak to five straight games. . . . F Brandon Hagel had three assists for Red Deer. . . . F Jeff de Wit, a Red Deer native who is on his second go-round with the Rebels, played in his 300th regular-season game. He also has played with Regina, Victoria and Kootenay. He has 54 goals and 55 assists in the 300 games. . . . The Thunderbirds had F Nolan Volcan, their captain, back in the lineup after missing nine games. He hadn’t played since Jan. 26.
G Beck Warm turned aside 42 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (30-20-3) has won two in a row. It is in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot and is fourth in the U.S. Division, three points behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kamloops (21-28-5) is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds in the race for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Tri-City took a 1-0 lead as F Sasha Mutala (14) scored at 1:45 of the first period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 5:08 as D Montana Onyebuchi (5) scored. . . . The Americans took a 3-1 lead on second-period goals from F Connor Bouchard (6), at 11:08, and F Nolan Yaremko (20), at 18:17. . . . F Kobe Mohr (6) got Kamloops to within a goal at 3:42 of the third period. . . . D Wil Kushniryk (3) restored the two-goal lead at 6:59. . . . F Brodi Stuart (16) again got the Blazers to within a goal, at 17:51. . . . F Parker AuCoin (32) put it away for the Americans at 19:15. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Americans were without D Dom Schmiemann, who completed a two-game suspension.
The Vancouver Giants scored three straight PP goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (38-13-3) has won six straight games. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (30-18-6) had points in each of its previous seven (6-0-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead at 3:13 of the first period on a PP goal by F Luc Smith. . . . The lead lasted 15 seconds until D Kaleb Bulych (2) scored for Vancouver. . . . Then came the three PP goals, from F Justin Sourdif (16), at 13:28 of the first period; F Milos Roman (21), at 18:38 of the second period; and F Jared Dmytriw (13), at 19:08. . . . The Chiefs got to within a goal, at 4-3, as Smith (25) and F Eli Zummack (13) scored at 3:47 and 11:51 of the third period, respectively. . . . After the Chiefs had a goal disallowed — it was ruled to have been kicked in from the crease — F Jadon Joseph (16) scored for Vancouver at 15:46. . . . F Riley Woods (27) scored for Spokane at 18:50. . . . Zummack also had two assists. . . . The Giants were 3-4 on the PP; the Chiefs were 1-7.
If you like what you read here, and even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.
With the move of @WHLKootenayICE to Winnipeg next season, it was time for a "Nostalgia Tour" of Cranbrook today…starting with the Memorial Arena…home for the ICE the first 2 years… pic.twitter.com/x7aSauzLdJ
The Prince Albert Raiders, one of four community-owned WHL franchises, held their annual general meeting on Tuesday night and shareholders learned of a $168,430 loss from the 2017-18 season. That was an improvement from the $250,850 loss for 2016-17. . . . According to Trevor Redden of panow.com, the 2017-18 loss came despite “a 13 per cent year-over-year increase in revenues.” . . . Brad Toporowski, the organization’s vice-president, told shareholders there was an 18 per cent increase in travel expenses, some of that due to a U.S. road trip with a low Canadian dollar. . . . Redden’s story is right here.
Two of the other community-owned teams have scheduled their annual meetings for next month. Shareholders in the Moose Jaw Warriors are scheduled to meet on Sept. 12, with Lethbridge Hurricanes’ shareholders to gather on Sept. 17. . . . A year ago, the Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710 for 2016-17, while the Warriors reported a loss of $463,566, but that came after they contributed more than $700,000 to Mosaic Place to cover a previous pledge and for upgrades in lighting and the sound system. . . . The Broncos don’t seem to have set a date for their annual general meeting just yet, but last year it was held on Sept. 25. They revealed a profit of $135,922 at that meeting.
For those who have not heard, Aug. 31 is my final day at the Herald. Not my choice, but theirs. Local sports is is going the way of the dinosaur. It has been my honor to share your stories for 18 1/2 years.
The press coverage of two WHL teams has taken a huge hit with the departures of two reporters who have long written about the Tri-City Americans, Kelowna Rockets and, indeed, the WHL.
Annie Fowler, a reporter with the Tri-City Herald for more than 18 years, will work her last day there on Aug. 31. She has been laid off, another victim of everything that ails the newspaper industry these days.
In Kelowna, veteran writer Warren Henderson spent his last day with the Capital News after more than 17 years of banging out superb copy. It seems that he will be working in the landscaping business. Henderson didn’t waste away his last day as a reporter, either, as he posted a story on F Trevor Wong, the Rockets’ first-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, who has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers but admits that Kelowna isn’t out of the picture. That story is right here.
Today’s the last day at @KelownaCapNews for sports reporter Warren Henderson. He’s going out on his own terms. Warren and I started in Kelowna in the fall of 2000. We enjoyed covering the 2009/2015 Memorial Cups together with many laughs along the way. 35 years in TV/Newspaper.
D Tyson Terretta, a seventh-round selection by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2015 WHL bantam draft, apparently has ended his playing career. . . . Terretta, 18, is from Okotoks, Alta. . . . He was pointless in two games with Seattle in 2016-17, then had one assist in 42 games last season.
The Saskatoon Blades have added two Manitoba-based scouts to their staff. . . . Craig Lane of Virden, Man., will be scouting for a WHL team for the first time, although he has scouted for MJHL and SJHL teams for at least 10 years. Lane, whose son, Grady, a forward, was an eighth-round pick of the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is a senior manager with Tundra Oil and Gas. . . . Matt Patton of Winnipeg is also a first-time WHL scout. He is a veteran of the MJHL scouting game, and is a supervisor with Maple Leaf Foods.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have firmed up their scouting staff by adding Mark Blair, Zenon Herasymiuk and Todd Ripplinger. They join returnees Tanner McCall, Justin Rayner and Brendan Wust. . . . Blair, who spent the past 11 seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, is the Warriors’ senior regional scout — west, while Todd Ripplinger has been named senior regional scout — east. Ripplinger, a brother to Jason Ripplinger, the Warriors’ assistant general manager, has worked with the Kamloops Blazers (1991-97) and was the Regina Pats’ scouting director (1997-2011). Of late, he has been the head scout for the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. . . . Herasymiuk, from Calgary, was with the Kootenay Ice for the past two seasons. . . . McCall, from Weyburn, is into his third season with the Warriors. He also is the general manager and head scout for the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. . . . Rayner, from Regina, is starting his third season with Moose Jaw. He is responsible for scouting WHL teams for the Warriors. . . . Just has been with the Warriors since January 2016. He is the director of player personnel for the junior B Abbotsford Pilots of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . . The Warriors’ complete news release is right here.
If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.
A note from Stuart Kemp’s wife, Cathy, indicates that he has been given the OK to start driving again, “but during the daytime only.” . . . As she points out, “This is huge . . . as it gives him his freedom back. He has had to sit in the apartment by himself all day, every day by himself.” . . . If you’re late to this story, Stuart, the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club, is working to come back from two recent strokes.
I had heard from Stuart earlier Wednesday. He wrote that he has been “working hard on getting better,” adding that he had seen a doctor on Tuesday, who was “amazed at my recovery.”
Later Tuesday, he attended Winterhawks’ training camp at the Moda Center, something that I’m sure did him a world of good.
“It was great seeing many people,” he wrote, “Probably 100 or so came up and said hello. I think I surprised a few as well. . . . It was great to talk to so many who either read online or had heard about it . . . and were shocked to see me there.”
He also has a goal in mind.
“I want to be close to 100 per cent going into the regular season,” he noted. “I figured I’d be between 50 and 60 right now. It’s a lofty goal, but one where I am determined to give this a run for its money.”
Don’t forget that there is a GoFundMe page where you are able to help out Cathy and Stuart. You are able to find it right here.
The junior B Traveland RV Storm of the Prairie Junior Hockey League has signed Cory Unser as head coach. . . . Unser, 38, is from Sedley, Sask. He played two seasons (1998-2000) in the WHL, both with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Joe Murphy once was the first overall selection in an NHL draft. He was a skilled forward, the furthest thing from an enforcer. These days he’s homeless and hanging around Kenora, Ont. The road he travelled to get there isn’t pretty. But how much responsibility does the NHL have for what has happened to Murphy? . . . Rick Westhead of TSN has Murphy’s story, or at least part of it, right here.
If you check out Steve McLean’s timeline, you will find some interesting chatter about OHL ticket prices . . .
Here are the single game ticket prices for each OHL team ranging from lowest to highest. These are all for an adult ticket and all prices are in Canadian. Some teams dont have them out yet, Sudbury still has last seasons posted.
F Marek Viedenský (Prince George, Saskatoon, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had 11 goals and 10 assists in 42 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). . . .
F David Rutherford (Vancouver, Spokane, 2004-08) signed a one-year contract extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, he had 17 goals and 23 assists in 31 games. . . .
F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 28 games with the University of Alberta (Canada West, USports).
If you are here looking for coverage of the Summer Showcase, I’m sorry but . . .
It’s July, and soon to be August. The temperature in B.C.’s Interior is sizzling . . .
Teenage hockey players should be waterskiing, fishing, golfing, playing beach volleyball . . . anything but playing hockey, especially with their junior teams about three weeks away from opening training camps . . .
I’m retired and there is no way that I am going to spend part of my summer in an arena watching hockey. Not when I don’t have to . . . not a chance.
So if you’re looking for Summer Showcase coverage, I’m sorry, but you’re in the wrong neighbourhood.
The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Ethan O’Rourke, 19, and a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for D Sahvan Khaira, 20. . . . O’Rourke split last season between the Prince George Cougars and Everett, totalling six goals and 12 assists in 66 games. He was a third-round pick by the Cougars in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . The 6-foot-4 Khaira has played four WHL seasons after being selected by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the ninth round of the 2013 bantam draft. In 77 games with Seattle over two seasons, he had one goal and six assists. . . . In 168 regular-season games with the Broncos, he totalled eight goals and 42 assists. . . . Last season, he had career bests in goals (6), assists (20) and points. He added two goals and five assists in 26 games as the Broncos won the WHL title. . . . Khaira’s older brother, Jujhar, played one season (2013-14) with Everett and now is with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Sahvan has attended NHL camps with the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton. . . . The Broncos’ then-braintrust emptied the cupboard last season in building the championship team, so the acquisition of draft picks is important these days.
The Silvertips now have two 20-year-olds on their roster — Khaira and F Sean Richards. . . . F Spencer Gerth, 20, also had been on Everett’s roster but has chosen to leave the WHL and attend Trinity Western U in his hometown of Langley, B.C., and play for the Spartans. . . .
The Broncos still have six 20-year-olds on their roster — F Kaden Elder, F Andrew Fyten, F Kole Gable, Russian D Artyom Minulin, F Tanner Nagel and D Ryan Pouliot, who was claimed on waivers from the Kootenay Ice last week.
Meanwhile, the Broncos also announced that they have signed D Roope Pynnonen, who is from Finland and was one of their two selections in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . Pynnonen, 17, had two assists in 16 games with HPK’s U-18 team last season. . . . Last week, the Broncos signed their other 2018 import draft selection, Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi. . . . Swift Current also has Minulin on its roster. Minulin, 20, would count as a two-spotter should he return.
The Prince Albert Raiders have signed Belarusian F Alexei Protas, their only selection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. Protas, 17, and the Raiders other import, D Sergei Sapego, are from Vitebsk, Belarus. . . . Last season, Protas had nine goals and 11 assists in 48 games with the U-17 Team Belarus. . . . Sapego, who will turn 19 on Oct. 9, will be returning for a second WHL season, after being acquired from the Tri-City Americans early last season. He had two assists in three games with the Americans, then put up four goals and 13 assists in 41 games with the Raiders. Injuries limited his playing time with the Raiders, who obviously are hoping he is in for a healthy season. . . . Trevor Redden of paNOW.com has more right here.
Excited to be joining the @MJWARRIORS scouting staff for the upcoming season. I am thankful for this great opportunity as well as the support of my family and friends in the hockey community that made it possible.
As you can see by the above tweet, Zenon Herasymiuk now is working for the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . He had been with the Kootenay Ice, but they split in May.
Matt Summers is the new head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Summers, who is from Savage, Minn., played three seasons (2003-06) with the Blizzard. He spent last season in Bay City, Mich., as head coach of the Tri City Ice Hawks, who play in the Premier Division of the U.S. Premier Hockey League. . . . With the Blizzard, Summers takes over from Doug Hedley, who left after last season and now is the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings.
Darren Reid has joined the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder as an assistant coach. Reid, 35, played two-plus seasons (2001-04) with the Medicine Hat Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 21 games in the NHL and 259 in the AHL. . . . Before joining the Tigers, he played three seasons with the Thunder, helping them to the 2002 AJHL championship. . . . In Drayton Valley, he will work alongside GM/head coach Eric Thurston.
WHL schedule matrix for 2018-2019. Read across for home games, read down for away games. Division games are color-filled: Red-East, Yellow-Central, Blue-BC, Green-US. (Previous version was missing a colored square.) pic.twitter.com/oUFcxraTb6