WHL PLAYOFF NOTES:
The Winnipeg Ice will be without F Zack Ostapchuk for the first game of their second-round playoff series. He has been suspended for one game after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct 55 seconds into Winnipeg’s 3-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Wednesday night. The Ice swept the series with that victory and now is awaiting a second-round opponent. . . .
After a Friday night that featured four games, there will be two games tonight. . . .
The Saskatoon Blades take a three-game winning streak into Regina for Game 6 of their first-round series with the Pats. They met last night in Saskatoon, with the Blades winning, 4-2, to assume a 3-2 lead. And, yes, the Brandt Centre in Regina will be packed tonight.
A little later, the Everett Silvertips will tangle with the Winterhawks in Portland. The Silvertips fought off elimination last night, winning, 5-0, at home, but still trail the series, 3-1.
Meanwhile, in Kennewick, Wash., the Prince George Cougars beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-2, to take a 3-2 lead in that series. They will finish that series in Prince George starting with Game 6 on Sunday.
And one more team was eliminated last night, as the Calgary Hitmen had their season come to an end with a 6-5 OT loss to the Rebels in Red Deer. The Rebels won that series, 4-1, and now await a second-round opponent. . . . The Rebels were the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed for the first round because they won the Central Division’s regular-season title. The Saskatoon Blades, the third seed, actually finished with more points — 101-92 — than the Rebels. . . . Remember that survivors will be reseeded according to regular-season points for the second round, meaning the Rebels would be No. 3 should Saskatoon get past Regina. . . . In short, if Saskatoon wins that series, the second round will have the Blades against the Rebels, with the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice meeting the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . A Regina victory would send the Pats up against Winnipeg, with the Rebels facing the Warriors.
FRIDAY IN THE WHL PLAYOFFS:
THE BEDARD REPORT — F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has skated in five playoff games over the past eight days. He has 10 goals and five assists in a first-round series with the Saskatoon Blades. Bedard scored two more goals last night as the Pats dropped a 4-2 decision in Saskatoon. . . . The Pats have scored 20 goals in the series and Bedard has been in on 15 of them. . . . He leads the WHL playoffs in goals and points. . . . Combined with this regular-season numbers, Bedard has put up 158 points, 81 of them goals, in 62 games.
Regina (6) at Saskatoon (3) — F Egor Sidorov scored twice to help the host Saskatoon Blades to a 4-2 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . This was the first time in the series that the home team emerged triumphant. . . . The Blades, who lost the first two games of this series at home, now hold a 3-2 edge with Game 6 in Regina tonight. If they need a Game 7, it’ll be played Monday in Saskatoon. . . . Last night, the Blades led 2-0 before the game was six minutes old and the Pats spent the rest of the game chasing. . . . F Connor Bedard (10) scored twice for Regina, his first goal getting the Pats to within one, at 2-1, at 11:24 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon had a goal disallowed at 6:25 of the second period due to incidental contact with Regina G Drew Sim. . . . F Conner Roulette (1) restored Saskatoon’s two-goal edge, scoring on a delayed penalty situation, at 15:52. . . . That allowed the Blades to head into the second intermission with a lead for the first time in the series. They overcame 3-1 third-period deficits to win Games 3 and 4. . . . Bedard got that one back, also on a delayed penalty, at 3:09 of the third. . . . Sidorov’s fifth goal of the series, at 10:46, came off a 3-on-1 break and provided some insurance. . . . Each team was 1-for-2 on the PP. In the five games, Saskatoon is 5-for-15; the Pats are 4-for-11. . . . Attendance was announced at 12,083, the largest crowd in this season’s WHL playoffs to date. . . .
Calgary (7) at Red Deer (2) — The Red Deer Rebels scored the game’s final three goals, the last one coming in OT, to beat the Calgary Hitmen, 6-5, and win the series, 4-1. . . . F Ben King (3) ended it at 4:56 of OT. . . . D Mats Lindgren (2) had given the Rebels a 3-2 lead with PP goals at 19:23 of the first period and 7:32 of the second. . . . Calgary then took a 5-3 on goals from F Maxim Muranov, at 12:19 of the second, F Oliver Tulk (1), on a PP, at 2:46 of the third, and Muranov (2), shorthanded, at 9:32. . . . D Matteo Fabrizi (2) pulled Red Deer to within a goal at 15:32, and D Christoffer Sedoff (2) tied it at 17:18. . . . Lindgren added two assists — including the primary on the winner — to his two goals and finished the series with eight points. . . . Red Deer had a 44-24 edge in shots, including 4-0 in OT. . . . The Rebels were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Hitmen were 2-for-5.
Portland (3) at Everett (6) — The Everett Silvertips scored twice before the first period was five minutes old and went on to a 5-0 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The series, which Portland leads, 3-1, is to resume tonight in Portland. . . . If Portland wins this series, the Winterhawks will open the second round in Kamloops on Friday. . . . G Tyler Palmer stopped 27 shots for his first WHL playoff shutout. In the four games, he is 1-3, 3.32, .891. . . . F Caden Zaplitny (1) got Everett started at 2:49 of the first period, and F Beau Courtney (1) upped it to 2-0 at 4:14. . . . F Jackson Berezowski and F Austin Roest each scored his third goal of the series. . . . The Silvertips were never headed after that and enjoyed a 36-27 edge in shots. . . .
Prince George (4) at Tri-City (5) — The Prince George Cougars snapped a 2-2 tie with three third-period goals as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Cougars lead the series, 3-2. And now the teams are on the road to Prince George where Game 6 will be played on Sunday, with Game 7, if needed, there on Tuesday. . . . F Reese Belton (1) got the Americans into a 2-2 tie at 16:22 of the second period. . . . F Caden Brown (3), who also had two assists, gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead at 8:01 of the third period, with Cole Dubinsky (2) adding insurance at 14:39, and F Zac Funk (3) getting his second of the game, an empty-netter, at 17:42. . . . D Bauer Dumanski (2) had two goals for the Cougars. . . . The Cougars got 26 saves from G Ty Young, who has been playing since Tyler Brennan left late in the second period of Game 3 with an undisclosed injury. . . . Reports in Prince George have more than 4,000 tickets for Sunday’s game having been sold as of Friday evening.
This is an interesting story out of Kelowna involving the Rockets, past Memorial Cup bids, perhaps one in the future and some secrecy. Just keep in mind that the 2025 Memorial Cup tournament is to be held in a QMJHL city, with the WHL back as the host league for 2026.
My man Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, was pondering The Masters this week when “suddenly I realized that I had forgotten what ‘LIV’ stands for. I kept trying to use those letters as an acronym but things like ‘Living In Valhalla’ just made no sense. So, Google was my friend and, in case you too have forgotten what LIV stands for . . .
LIV is the Roman numeral for the number 54;
54 is the score one would card on a par-72 course if you birdied every hole; and,
54 also is the number of holes to be played in an LIV tournament.”
The curmudgeonly one, as he often is, is a fountain of information.
Going into Friday night’s playoff games . . .
F Nolan Ritchie of the Brandon Wheat Kings has signed with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies and made his professional debut last night in Boise, Idaho, against the Steelheads. . . . He was plus-1 with two shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to Boise. . . . The Grizzlies are an affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. . . . Ritchie, who played out his eligibility this season, is from Brandon. This season, as the Wheat Kings’ captain, he finished with 70 points, 27 of them goals, in 67 games. . . . In 185 games with Brandon over five season, he totalled 185 points, including 76 goals. . . .
Anthony Stella is the new general manager of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, the reigning Memorial Cup champions. He had been the team’s assistant GM and head scout since 2018. His promotion was made after Trevor Georgie, the Sea Dogs’ president and GM, was named president and CEO of JSM Sports Entertainment, which owns the QMJHL franchise. . . . Stella started with the Sea Dogs as a scout prior to the 2014-15 season.
With the 10th anniversary of her kidney transplant within in sight, Dorothy is taking part in her 10th straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. So, yes, she is fund-raising. . . . The 2023 Walk is scheduled for June 4. . . . If you would like to donate to her cause, you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
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.