It’s that time of year again. Yes, the 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk is almost upon us.
This year, we’re back to walking outdoors, and we’ll be hitting the trail at McDonald Park on June 4.
My wife, Dorothy, who in September will celebrate 10 years as a transplant recipient, is once again taking part. And, yes, she is fund-raising and would love for you to be part of her team.
If you are so inclined, you may make a donation right here. Thank you so much, in advance.
THE BEDARD REPORT: F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats was rather quiet on Friday night as his guys dropped a 3-2 decision to the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . Bedard, who had put up 17 points, including nine goals, in his previous four games, was blanked by the Blades for the fifth time in 56 games this season. . . . He still leads the WHL in goals (70), assists (72) and points (142). . . . Bedard has one game remaining in the regular season. He and the Pats will entertain the Prince Albert Raiders tonight.
What kind of an impact did F Connor Bedard and his Regina Pats have on the Saskatoon Blades’ final regular-season attendance figures this season? . . . Well, let us take a quick look. . . . The Travellin’ Bedards visited the Pats twice this week — putting 14,768 fans into the SaskTel Centre on Sunday and again on Friday night. Prior to those two dates, the Blades’ average attendance was 3,865. Afterwards, the number was 4,506. . . . The Blades drew 153,214 fans to 34 games. Last season, those numbers were 114,586 and 3,370. . . . This season’s average attendance, then, is up 1,136 over last season. . . . And that’s with the playoffs — yes, the Travellin’ Bedards will be playing the Blades in the first round — to come. . . . BTW, this season’s average attendance in Saskatoon is the highest it’s been since 2012-13, a season in which the Blades were the host team for the Memorial Cup tournament. That season, the Blades drew 217,447 fans to 36 games, an average of 6,040. . . . BTW, had the Blades paid Bedard 25 cents per seat filled for the Sunday and Friday games, he would have put $7,384 in his hockey bag.
I saw this photo on Facebook this week, along with this note: “I saw this car at the lights today — I think we all need to share share share — hope he finds a donor.”
The car belongs to Vic Morin, who is a friend through the Kamloops Kidney Support Group. His wife, Colleen Bruce, commented on the photo: “Thank you for taking the time and posting your picture. It is my husband that needs the kidney very desperately.”
And that is the absolute truth. So, please, “share share share” and also consider sharing a kidney.
If you are interested in at least checking out what is involved in donating a kidney, there is more info further down on this post.
Dan Tencer, the Saskatoon Blades’ director of scouting, escaped a serious car accident with only minor injuries on Wednesday night, according to Colin Priestner, the WHL team’s president and general manager.
Tencer, who is resting at home in Edmonton, was on a scouting assignment en route to a tournament when the accident occurred on Highway No. 2 in Alberta.
“Despite being hit at 120 km/h, he was pulled from the vehicle by a Good Samaritan with only minor bruises and cuts . . . a total miracle,” Priestner tweeted.
Both vehicles — Tencer’s truck and a car — were destroyed. The other driver apparently wasn’t injured, either.
“Let’s all send him our best wishes, and I know he’ll be back in the rinks before you know it because he loves it so much. He even asked me (Wednesday) night, in total shock, who was winning the Edmonton Oilers game.”
Priestner also took time to give a “shout out to all the amazing scouts who live on the road for the love of the game, their clubs and these kids trying to make it one day.”
He added: “We probably don’t tell you enough how much we appreciate what you do and the risks you take in these Canadian winters for us.”
If the WHL playoffs started today (x-locked in):
Winnipeg (1) vs. Medicine Hat (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Calgary (7)
x-Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
x-Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
x-Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
x-Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
x-Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)
x-Prince George (4) vs. Tri-City (5)
(NOTE:There are excellent playoff previews available on the WHL’s website.)
FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
F Zach Ostapchuk’s shootout goal gave the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . F Dawson Pasternak (15) gave Brandon a 2-1 lead at 13:49 of the third period, but F Briley Wood (2) got Winnipeg back into a tie just five seconds later. . . . Winnipeg (56-10-1) will win the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for finishing atop the overall standings for a second straight season. That means the Ice will have home-ice advantage for as long as its playoff run goes. . . . Brandon (26-32-9) has lost five in a row (0-4-1) and won’t be in the playoffs. . . . These two teams will finish their regular-season schedules tonight in Winnipeg. . . .
F Trevor Wong broke a 2-2 tie at 11:10 of the third period as the Saskatoon Blades got past the visiting Regina Pats, 3-2. . . . Wong won it with his 25th goal of the season. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (37) gave Saskatoon a 2-0 lead with goals at 17:53 of the first period and 5:19 of the second. . . . The Pats got third-period goals from F Tanner Howe (35), shorthanded, and F Sam Oremba (10). . . . Saskatoon (47-15-5) will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed when the playoffs open and will face No. 6 Regina (34-29-4). . . . The Blades won the season series, 4-2-0. . . . They will open with two games in Saskatoon, on March 31 and April 2. . . .
F Jagger Firkus scored twice to help the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Raiders came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game with three PP goals, two of them from F Sloan Stanick (28). . . . F Ryder Korczak (28) broke the tie at 16:27 of the third period and Firkus added insurance with his 40th goal at 17:42, via the PP. . . . Moose Jaw (41-23-3) will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference and face No. 5 Lethbridge in the first round. The Warriors won the season series with the Hurricanes, 3-1-0. . . . Prince Albert (27-37-3) has lost three in a row. . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes built a 5-1 lead and hung on for a 6-4 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Tristen Doyle (4) gave the Hurricanes that 5-1 lead at 2:23 of the second period. . . . The Rebels got to within a goal, at 5-4, with third-period goals from F Talon Brigley (4), at 7:38, F Craig Armstrong (11), at 13:48, and F Jace Isley (30), at 14:12. . . . Lethbridge D Joe Arntsen (7) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Earlier, Red Deer F Kai Uchacz scored his 50th goal of the season. . . . The winners got four assists from F Brayden Edwards. . . . Lethbridge (36-25-6) clinched fifth in the Eastern Conference and will meet No. 4 Moose Jaw in the first round. The Hurricanes and Warriors haven’t met in the playoffs since 1997. . . . Red Deer (42-19-6) will be the No. 2 seed but doesn’t yet know it will be playing Medicine Hat or Swift Current. . . . The Rebels and Hurricanes will meet again tonight, this time in Red Deer. . . .
The Swift Current Broncos kept alive their playoff hopes with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Caleb Wyrostok (24) scored twice, the second one coming on a shorthanded penalty shot at 12:16 of the third period for a 3-0 lead. . . . The Broncos ended up with three unassisted goals. . . . F Gavin McKenna (4) scored for the Tigers at 13:40 of the third. . . . Swift Current (31-32-4) has won three in a row. . . . Medicine Hat (29-29-9) had won its previous game. . . . They’ll play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. The Broncos go into the game in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one points behind the Tigers. . . .
D Kevin Korchinski scored twice and added two assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 7-3 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Korchinksi, who has 11 goals, figured in each of Seattle’s first four goals as it took a 4-1 lead in the second period. This was his third four-pointer of the season. Korchinski has 73 points, 62 of them assists, in 54 games. In his career, he now has 148 points in 145 games. . . . F Reid Schaefer (28) had a goal and two assists for Seattle. . . . F Brad Lambert scored his 17th goal. He’s got 38 points in 26 games with Seattle. . . . Seattle was 3-for-5 on the PP and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. . . . Kyle Gustafson, Portland’s associate coach, ran the bench with GM/head coach Mike Johnston away at a family wedding. . . . Seattle (54-10-3) will finish atop the Western Conference and meet up with Kelowna in the first round. . . . Portland (39-20-8) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . The Thunderbirds and Winterhawks will wrap up their regular seasons tonight in Kent, Wash. . . .
F Carlin Dezainde scored once and added two assists to help the Prince George Cougars to a 7-2 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . After F Connor Levis (27) opened the scoring for the Blazers at 1:43 of the first period, the Cougars scored six straight goals. . . . F Zac Funk scored his 26th goal of the season for Prince George. He’s got eight goals over his past eight games. . . . Prince George (36-24-7) has points in 10 straight (7-0-3). . . . Kamloops (48-13-6) has lost two in a row. . . . These two will wrap up their regular seasons tonight in Prince George. . . .
F Teague Patton scored twice and added an assist as the Victoria Royals skated out of Everett with a 6-4victory over the Silvertips. . . . The Royals opened a 3-0 lead, and the Silvertips cut it to 3-2. That’s when Patton, who has 16 goals, scored at 13:52 of the second period and 4:38 of the third. . . . F Jackson Berezowski, who also had an assist, scored three times for Everett, giving him 47 this season. That equals the single-season franchise record that was set by F Josh Winquist (2013-14). . . . Everett also got a goal (17) and three assists from F Raphael Pelletier, with F Jesse Heslop adding three assists. . . . Victoria (17-43-7) has won two in a row. . . . Everett (32-32-3) has lost two in a row. . . . These teams will meet again tonight, this time in Victoria. . . . The Royals are likely to be without F Reggie Newman, who left at 5:03 of the third period with a headshot major and game misconduct. . . .
F Reese Belton and F Jalen Luypen each scored three times for their first WHL hat tricks as the Tri-City Americans skated to a 7-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City broke a 3-3 tie with four third-period goals — two from Luypen, who has 18 goals, and two from F Reese Belton, who also has 18. . . . Belton also had two assists, with Luypen getting one. . . . F Carter Streek scored twice for the Chiefs. He’s got — you guess it! — 18 goals this season. . . . Tri-City (33-26-8) has points in six straight (5-0-1) as it prepares to meet Prince George in the first round. . . . Spokane (15-43-9) won’t be in the playoffs this time around. . . . The Americans and Chiefs will finish up tonight in Spokane. . . .
F Samuel Honzek scored twice, including the winner, as the Vancouver Giants got past the Kelowna Rockets, 3-2, in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants overcame a 2-0 deficit with Honzek equalizing at 4:44 of the third period and then winning it with 0.5 showing on the clock. He’s got 23 goals. . . . F Kayden Longley had given the Rockets a 2-1 edge with his first WHL goal at 11:52 of the second period. Longley, a 13th-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft, scored in his seventh game. . . . The Rockets lost F Ty Hurley to a charging major and game misconduct at 6:28 of the third period. . . . Vancouver (28-31-8) has won two in a row. . . . Kelowna (26-37-4) has lost four straight (0-3-1). . . . The Giants and Rockets will end their regular seasons tonight in Kelowna.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The 2024 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is to be played in Moncton on Jan. 24. This will be only the second time that the game will be played in Atlantic Canada (Halifax, 2013). . . .
Dave Liffiton has signed on as interim head coach of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. He will be working alongside associate coach Bob Beatty and assistant coach Tyler Gow. . . . Colin Birkas, the Clippers’ general manager and head coach, was suspended on March 17 while, according to the team, “a third-party investigation into complaints filed under Hockey Canada’s discipline and complaints policy” is undertaken. Beatty and Gow were running things until Liffiton was brought on board. . . . You may recall that Liffiton joined the Clippers as an assistant coach prior to the 2022 playoffs after then-head coach Darren Naylor and Birkas were suspended pending an investigation for alleged violations of the BCHL’s code of conduct. Birkas was reinstated, however, and coached during the playoffs. Naylor never did return, nor were results of the investigation ever released to the public. . . . The MJHL’s OCN Blizzard signed Naylor as GM/head coach in July, but he wasn’t reinstated from his suspension. So the Blizzard ended up hiring Doug Johnson, longtime GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks, as head coach and assistant GM.
THINKING OUT LOUD: Hey, Regina, Friday was one of the big days of your year. Yes, it was opening day at the Milky Way. Enjoy! . . . So two of the Staal brothers chose not to wear Pride Night sweaters for the Florida Panthers’ pregame warmup on Thursday night. And then photographic evidence was found showing Eric wearing one with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2020-21 season. Whoops! Especially when he earlier had said: “I haven’t before. I never have . . . I haven’t worn a pride jersey before.” Double whoops! . . . Once again, the NHL proves that not everyone is welcome in its world. . . . Hey, Sportsnet, Friday night without NHL hockey on any of your channels. What’s up with that? . . . Hey, TSN, you and the WHL missed the boat by not taking the Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades playing in front of a full house and putting them on one of your channels on Friday night. Yes, I know they were available on something called TSN+, but I already pay for half-a-dozen of your channels and that’s about four too many on most nights.
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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
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
Or, for more information, visit right here.