The summer of ’01: Where are the locusts? . . . SJHL keeping Chow in commish’s office . . . AJHL will look at 1-on-1 in exhibition OT

At 7:30 p.m., it was 43C in Kamloops. By 8:35, the temperature had retreated to 39C. We had hit our high at 5 p.m. — 46.4C. Hey, Jack, that’s 115.5F.

Environment Canada is calling for a high of 43C on Wednesday.

The overnight low was 24.6C at 5 a.m. You can’t even open windows and catch a fresh breeze. Our skylights are covered. The wall-to-wall windows on the east side of our kitchen are covered by vertical blinds with sheets over top of them. And still the A/C can’t keep up.

I should mention, too, that the South Thompson region, which includes Kamloops, is under a severe thunderstorm warning with the “potential for severe thunderstorms with very strong wind gusts, intense lightning and brief bursts of heavy rain.”

Did I mention there could be intense lightning?

Because the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has issued a bulletin calling for smoky skies in the South Thompson region.

“The region is being impacted or is likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours,” reads a statement that was issued Tuesday at 2:49 p.m.

Yes, wildfire season also is upon us with a vengeance. As of Tuesday evening, there are two huge blazes, one of them more than 3,700 hectares, located to the west of us. 

The last thing we need at this point in time is lightning.

In what used to be normal times, we might see 40C for a day or two in July, and the fire season didn’t really get roaring until August. Now we’ve got everything at once.

And if you haven’t heard there have been have been dozens of heat-related deaths in the Lower Mainland, and you can bet that the number will rise province-wide over the next few days.

The intense heat has sped up the snowmelt in some areas so there are flood concerns.

It seems that the only thing missing right now are the locusts. But, then, the murder hornets are said to be on their way.


As a reminder that the pandemic isn’t completely behind us, Baseball Manitoba announced Tuesday that it has cancelled all of its 2021 provincial championships. . . . From a news release: “The decision was made with the safety and development of our members as the top priority. Provincial championships create environments with large gatherings with people from across the province. Also, by cancelling provincial championships, we believe that there is more opportunity for a longer season for more players, as they compete late into summer within their regions.”


Newsflash



If anyone wants it, the title of the hardest-working person in the WHL is up for grabs for the first time in years. That’s because Rick Dillabough no longer is employed by the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun has more on Dillabough and his decision to walk away right here, and it’s great to see former owner Kelly McCrimmon singing the praises of his long-time employee and friend.


ICYMI, Bruce Springsteen was back on Broadway on Saturday night, and Peter Marks, the Washington Post’s theatre critic, was there for the district’s first full-length performance in 15 months. He wasn’t alone.

As Marks wrote, “His curation includes one of the key requirements for admission: a vaccination card. ‘It’s great,’ he remarks. ‘Unmasked, sitting next to each other.’ Bizarrely, theatergoers were greeted outside the St. James by a cadre of screaming, placard-waving anti-vaccination protesters, who feel aggrieved by the fact that the government wants to save their lives. Their rage is a bewildering counterpoint to the joy inside the theater at the freedoms the vaccines have given back to us. The demonstration is as out-of-touch as ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ feels in-touch.”



The SJHL’s board of governors and Bill Chow, the league’s commissioner, have sjhlagreed on a contract extension that will run through the 2022-23 season. Chow is preparing for his 11th season as commissioner. . . . Chow, who spent 10 seasons scouting for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, was announced as SJHL president in May 2011. That was after he had retired from the Prince Albert Police Service, where he had spent almost 30 years. . . . With the SJHL, Chow took over from Laury Ryan, who had been in place for eight years.


Meat


The AJHL held its AGM on Saturday and decided on a 60-game regular season ajhlthat will have each of the 16 teams playing 16 interlocking games. The addition of the expansion Blackfalds Bulldogs brings the roster to 16 teams. . . . Interestingly, the AJHL will experiment in its exhibition season with an overtime format that will end with teams playing 1-on-1. After each exhibition game, teams will play a six-minute OT period, starting with 3-on-3. At the first whistle after the four-minute mark, it will shift to 2-on-2. And it’ll be 1-on-1 at the first whistle after the two-minute mark. If there aren’t any goals, a “best-of-three” shootout will be held. . . . The AJHL’s complete news release is right here.


Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been named to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence management group. Anholt will oversee the U-18 program. . . . Philippe Boucher, the general manager of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, will guide the U-17 program, with James Boyd, the general manager of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, doing the same for the U-20s. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


USA Hockey has invited 44 players to the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., July 24-31. None of the 44 players were on a WHL team roster in 2020-21. . . . The Showcase will feature three teams this time around, with Finland and Sweden also to appear. The event is used to evaluate players who are eligible for the 2022 IIHF World junior championship that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . USA Hockey’s camp roster is right here.


Ding


The Edmonton Oil Kings announced Tuesday that Czech D Simon Kubicek has Edmontoncommitted to play for them in 2021-22. Kubicek, who will turn 20 on Dec. 19, has played 113 regular-season WHL games, all with the Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 16 goals and 39 assists. . . . On Jan. 25, the Oil Kings acquired Kubicek from Seattle for F Vladimir Alistrov, 20, of Belarus. The teams also swapped undisclosed conditional picks in the WHL’s 2023 prospects draft. . . . Alistrov spent 2020-21 with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. . . . Kubicek played at home in 2020-21, with Motor Ceske Budejovice of the Czech ELH. He also had a goal and an assist in four games at the IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Kubicek is the lone import on the Oil Kings’ roster, with the CHL import draft scheduled for today (Wednesday).


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JUST NOTES: The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Kyle Schneider, 22, as their new assistant coach. Schneider, who played for the Ice Wolves as recently as 2019-20, takes over from Gaelan Patterson, now the head coach of the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . The USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints have signed Greg Brown as their head coach. He takes over from Oliver David, who now is an assistant coach with EHC Biel of the Swiss National League. Brown, 53, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Rangers. . . . The BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks have signed Tyler Shattock, their assistant GM and head coach, to a two-year extension. Shattock, 31, took over as head coach in the middle of the 2019-20 season. From Salmon Arm, he has been with the team since signing on as an assistant coach in October 2018. . . . Simon Ferguson now is the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. He has signed a three-year deal that runs through June 2024. Ferguson took over as interim head coach in January 2020, not long after the franchise changed hands. The interim part of his title was dropped in March 2020. His staff includes assistant coach Ayrton Nikkel, Josh Gorges, assistant coach and player development director, goaltending coach Chad Carter and athletic therapist Michael Bois.


Open

Scattershooting on a Monday night while awaiting the arrival of 2020 . . . Happy New Year!

Scattershooting

I can count on Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, to come through annually with a link to a column by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is the column in which Collier uses a whole bunch of words to examine the triteness of language in sports over the previous year. . . . Well, Jack came through on Monday with the link to Collier’s column in which he, for the 36th time, awards the Annual Trite Trophy. . . .

At one point, Collier writes:

“Pirates play-by-play guy Joe Block must have set the record for earliest use of If The Playoffs Started Today, coming as it did on May 21, when he said that if the playoffs started that day, the Pirates would have been in a wild-card game.

“May 21.

“On the day the playoffs actually started, the Pirates were in last place, 22 games out.”

This is fun stuff — after all, it’s not Collier’s first rodeo — and it’s all right here. Enjoy!


The Fiesta Bowl, in which the Clemson Tigers got past the Ohio State Buckeyes, 29-23, in Phoenix on Saturday night, was all that is great about U.S. college football. We can only hope that the Jan. 13 BCS final, with Clemson meeting LSU in a clash of the Tigers, is as entertaining.


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Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with some observations from the 49ers’ 26-21 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday night:

“Russell Wilson’s greatest scramble this year came after Sunday’s game, as he tried to explain the Seahawks’ delay-of-game penalty. . . .

“While there has been no satisfactory explanation given for the Seahawks’ game-wrecking delay-of-game penalty, scientists have found that mental processes — specifically, quick thinking — may be impaired by overly-vigorous chewing of gum. . . .

“NFL referees and their supervisors have no earthly clue what PI is. Some of them believe it is a guy named Magnum.”


F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice cut into the middle of the ice in the offensive zone during the first period on Saturday night and F Marcus Sekundiak of the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings lowered the boom. Savoie, who will turn 16 on New Year’s Day, is listed at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds; Sekundiak, 19, is shown at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds. . . . Sekundiak wasn’t penalized for the hit, but Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote that “Sekundiak . . . was the target of payback afterwards, absorbing a number of punishing hits from Ice players.” . . . As expected, the usual sober reflection occurred on social media, with folks suggesting: (a) it was a clean hit; (b) it was a headshot; (c) the Ice should have responded by gooning Sekundiak; (d) Sekundiak should have stayed in close proximity to the unconscious Savoie; (e) there shouldn’t be a suspension; (f) a 25-game suspension would suffice . . . and on and on it goes.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the hit . . .

Sekundiak wasn’t suspended and played in Brandon’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Monday night. . . . Savoie, who I think it’s safe to assume is in concussion protocol, didn’t play in Winnipeg’s 3-2 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders on Monday night. BTW, the Ice moved atop the East Division with that victory.



With the year’s end upon us, there are more lists and awards out there than there are snowflakes in a blizzard. . . . Patti Dawn Swanson, aka the River City Renegade, has joined the club, but her list is different, a whole lot different, than the norm. Check right here to see who earns The Old Man Shouts and Waves His Fist At Clouds Cup, The Flip Flop And Don’t Tell A Lie Laurel, and The Tranna Maple Beliebers Bauble, among others. It’s all good fun, unless you’re a recipient.


“Antonio Brown is working out for the New Orleans Saints,” Janice Hough, who is at leftcoastsportsbabe.com, wrote last week. “Have to assume head coach Sean Payton is just (toying) with Roger Goodell.”

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One more from Hough: “Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who just returned from Mar-A-Lago, says despite being voted by NHL fans as an All-Star Game captain he’ll accept a one-game suspension and miss the game to ‘listen to his body.’ So did he miss the message from his body not to go party for a few days and eat junk food with Donald?”

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Hough, again: “Melting down over a movie cameo cut by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014? With all due respect I have blueberries in my fridge with thicker skins than Trump.”


Don’t be afraid to click on the link and check out the thread . . .


ICYMI, the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired Brandon West, their general manager and head coach, on Friday night. . . . Simon Ferguson was named interim head coach. He was in his second season as head coach of the major midget Okanagan Rockets. . . . John Murphy and Rod Hume, the Warriors’ new owners, said in a news release: “This decision is about becoming a better hockey club now and in the future.  We are charting a new course and building a new culture.” . . . The Warriors were 7-23-7 and in last place in the seven-team Interior Division at the time of the move. . . . Former owner Kim Dobranski hired West on Jan. 28. Murphy and Hume purchased the franchise in October. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks dumped general manager and head coach Scott Atkinson on Monday. Former WHLer Tyler Shattock, who had been on staff as an assistant coach/assistant GM, has taken over as interim head coach. . . . Brooks Christensen, who had been the operations manager, now is the GM. . . . Atkinson had been with the Silverbacks since June 1, 2017. Salmon Arm was 1-8-1 in its 10 games prior to the axe falling. On the season, it is 21-15-2 and third in the Interior Division.


LemonWedge


JUST NOTES: Old friend Jay Varady, the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, will be the Pacific Division head coach at the AHL’s 2020 All-Star Classic in Ontario, Calif., Jan. 26 and 27. Varady, who coached in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, is in his second season with the Roadrunners. They had the AHL’s best record (23-6-0) through 29 games, with the coaches of division leaders after 29 games named to the Classic. . . . The festive season is almost over. How do I know this? Because the leftovers are almost gone and the fridge is looking terribly bare. . . . Have to wonder if F Kobe Mohr got a bigger suitcase for Christmas? He started the season with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, lost out in the 20-year-old game and went to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons, made a stop with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, was dealt to the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, lost out, again, in the 20-year-old racket, and now is back with the Dragons. And the trade deadline isn’t even here yet. . . . Pitchers and catchers report in 42 days. . . . Happy New Year, and here’s to a healthy and safe 2020!


Blades and T-Birds add forwards . . . Rebels’ Hagel gets NHL deal . . . Two goalies get first WHL victories

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The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Zach Huber, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a Saskatoonsixth-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . This season, Huber had four goals and an assist in 14 games with the Hitmen, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 56 games as a freshman with Calgary. . . . Huber could be in the Blades lineup when they entertain the Kootenay Ice on Thursday. . . . “Zach adds some depth scoring and some grit to our lineup,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “He’s a right-handed shot and 18 years old as well, which we feel fits our needs.”


The Seattle Thunderbirds have acquired F Brecon Wood, who will turn 18 on Dec. 5, Seattlefrom the Moose Jaw Warriors for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . From Edmonton, Wood was a seventh-round pick by the Warriors in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . In 91 regular-season games with Moose Jaw, he had five goals and two assists. This season, he had one goal in seven games before choosing to leave the Warriors and join the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints.



The Chicago Blackhawks have signed F Brandon Hagel, 20, to a three-year entry-level Red Deercontract. Hagel is third in the WHL scoring race with 28 points, including 12 goals, in 15 games. . . . Hagel, from Morinville, Alta., wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft. In 208 regular-season games, all with the Rebels, he has 205 points, 74 of them goals. . . . Hagel, who will remain with the Rebels, signed as a free agent. He was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL draft but was never signed. Prior to this season, Hagel was in the Montreal Canadiens’ rookie camp. . . . “Negotiations started a few days ago and were just kind of finalized today,” Hagel told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “It’s a dream come true. My goal was to prove (the Sabres) wrong and I think I did a pretty good job of it. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


There is a move afoot in the United States to change the process by which athletes are recruited by NCAA Division 1 schools. . . .

Here’s Matt Wellens of the Duluth, Minn., News Tribune: “Last month the NCAA Division I council introduced two recruiting proposals into the legislative process in hopes of slowing down recruiting not only in hockey, but all sports. Should the proposals pass in April, the days of verbal commitments by high school sophomores, freshmen and even eighth-graders will be a thing of the past.

“The creators behind these proposals also believe the changes will reduce the number of decommitments and maybe even bring some civility back to a recruiting environment that has become hostile in recent years as the validity of verbal commitments is questioned.”

Wellens’ complete story is right here.


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks have added Tyler Shattock to their staff as an assistant coach. Shattock, 28, is from Salmon Arm.  . . . He played four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and the last part of 2009-10 with the Calgary Hitmen. He won a WHL title with the Hitmen and put up seven points in four Memorial Cup games. . . . He had an eight season pro career that ended after he played last season with the EIHL’s Braehead Clan.


TUESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Kootenay Ice scored the only goals of a shootout and beat the host Swift Current KootenaynewBroncos, 2-1. . . . The Ice (5-7-3) had lost its previous two games, and now is 1-3-2 on the road. . . . The Broncos (1-14-1) have lost eight in a row. They are 0-4-1 at home. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Brett Davis scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, while both Swift Current shooters were blanked. . . . F Ethan Regnier (3) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the first period. . . . Davis (6) tied it, on a PP, at 15:49 of the third. . . . The Broncos spent the first four minutes of OT on the PP after Kootenay F Jaeger White was given a double minor for slewfooting as the third period ended. . . . The Ice got 41 stops through OT from G Jesse Makaj as he posted his first WHL victory. He now is 1-3-1 this season. . . . Earlier in the day, the Broncos released D Carter Spenst, 17. He was pointless in four games. He is expected to join the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, which is where he played last season. . . . Meanwhile, the Ice added F Owen Pederson, 16, to its roster. He had 20 points, six of them goals, in 12 games with the OHA Edmonton prep team. Peterson was a fifth-round pick by the Ice in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.


The Brandon Wheat Kings erased a 3-1 deficit and went on to beat the host Prince George BrandonWKregularCougars, 5-4. . . . The Wheat Kings (7-3-5) are 1-2-2 on a seven-game road trip; they now are 1-1-1 in the B.C. Division. The trip wraps up after games in Kamloops on Friday and Kelowna on Saturday. . . . The Cougars (5-7-3) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). . . . F Josh Maser (4) gave the home side a 3-1 lead at 19:41 of the first period. . . . The Wheat Kings got second-period goals from F Connor Gutenberg (6), on a PP, F Linden McCorrister (3) and D Braden Schneider (2) for a 4-3 edge. McCorrister added two assists to his goal. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (14), who also had three assists, upped the lead to 5-4 at 10”14 of the third period. . . . Prince George got to within a goal when F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (2) scored at 11:20. Mikhalchuk also had two assists. . . . Mattheos has 25 points, including 14 goals, in 15 games. This was his fourth career four-point game. . . . Brandon got 26 saves from G Ethan Kruger as he earned his first WHL victory. He is 1-0-2 in three starts this season. . . . The Cougars started G Taylor Gauthier, but he left after being shaken up in a goal-mouth collision with three seconds left in the second period. Gauther, who stopped 23 of 27 shots. was on the bench for the third period as Isaiah DiLaura stopped 16 of 17.


D Ty Smith drew three assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the visiting SpokaneChiefsSeattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Chiefs improved to 8-4-3; the Thunderbirds now are 7-4-2. . . . F Riley Woods (10) scored two PP goals for Spokane, giving it a 2-0 lead at 7:59 of the second period and making it 3-1 at 6:20 of the third. . . . F Egor Arbuzov (1) added the empty-netter at 18:57. . . . The Chiefs got 22 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . Spokane was without F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who has an undisclosed injury.


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