WHL final opens tonight in Edmonton . . . Thunderbirds, Oil Kings ready to roll . . . Another hall of fame opens doors to Kid Dynamite

The 2022 Kamloops Kidney Walk is almost upon us. It will take place (virtually, Dorothy-040719thanks to the pandemic) on Sunday. . . . What this means is that you’re running out of time if you would like to sponsor my wife, Dorothy, who received a kidney on Sept. 23, 2013, and is fund-raising for a ninth straight year. . . . Thanks to so many of you who stop by here, she has set a new personal-best as she closes in on $4,000. . . . If you would like to join an NHL head coach, a former WHL franchise owner, a former WHL general manager who once won three Memorial Cups in four years, three former WHL play-by-play voices, the wife of a WHL general manager and head coach, the head coach of a team that will play in the Memorial Cup later this month, someone who once worked in the WHL office and a whole lot of other friends and acquaintances by donating, you are able to do so right here. . . . Thank you so much in advance.


Breakfast


The WHL’s 2022 championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup gets started tonight (Friday) in Edmonton as the Oil Kings face the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . EdCupEdmonton went into these playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed. The Oil Kings swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels, then dismantled the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 4-1. So the Oil Kings go into this final with a 12-1 record. . . . Seattle, the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, has travelled a much more difficult road. It started by eliminating the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, then went seven games to sideline the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and seven more to oust the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers. That all adds up to the Thunderbirds taking a 12-7 record into Game 1. . . . In the process, the Thunderbirds went 5-0 in elimination games, became the 16th team in WHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1, and became the first team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on the road in one playoff year. No, playing at Rogers Place in Edmonton isn’t going to bother these guys. . . . The Oil Kings were 29-4-1 at home in the regular season; they are 7-0 in the playoffs. On the road, they were 21-10-3 in the regular season and are 5-1 in the playoffs. . . . The Thunderbirds were 23-10-1 on the road in the regular season and are 6-4 in the playoffs; at home, they were 21-8-5 in the regular season and now are 6-3 in the playoffs. . . .

The Oil Kings will be a whole lot fresher, having played six fewer games this spring. . . . For what it’s worth, the Oil Kings are averaging 4.38 goals per game, while allowing 2.08. . . . The Thunderbirds are scoring 3.32 per game, and surrendering 2.42. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa is 12-2, 1.97, .909, while Seattle’s Thomas Milic is 12-7, 2.16, .926. . . .

It doesn’t mean a thing, but these teams last faced each other on Oct. 26, 2019, when the host Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals and the last three in a 6-2 victory. F Dylan Guenther, who will be a key figure in the championship final, had two goals and an assist.

There is a comprehensive series preview right here.

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So . . . the Seattle Thunderbirds’ home arena is booked for graduation ceremonies, meaning their WHL championship series will follow a 2-2-3 format. Should the series go seven games, five of them will be played in the home of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

But, you’re wondering, why couldn’t the Thunderbirds play in the Everett Silvertips’ home arena, or where the NHL’s Seattle Kraken play? . . . Here’s the explanation . . .



If you watched Game 1 of the NBA final on Thursday night, you were listening to Mark Jones call the play, with Mark Jackson providing the analysis and Lisa Salter on the sidelines. It was the first time in the history of the NBA final that a telecast featured all Black announcers. . . . How did that come to be? Because Mike Breen, who had been scheduled to call the play, remains out after testing positive for COVID-19, and because analyst Jeff Van Gundy and ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski both have tested positive. . . . Breen missed Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final after testing positive last week.


Gerry James, who once was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, doesn’t get nearly his dues as one of Canada’s all-time greatest athletes. Sheesh, this is a man who played in the CFL and the NHL at the same time; in fact, he is the only man ever to play in the Grey Cup game (Nov. 28, 1959) and a Stanley Cup game (April 9, 1960) in the same season. . . . The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame will be the sixth such honour for James. He also is an honoured member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1981), Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1982), Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1994), Yorkton Sports Hall of Fame (1998) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame (1999). . . . Through it all, he also was a huge supporter of Special Olympics. . . . Hey, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, are you paying attention? It’s long past time for you to make room for Gerry (Kid Dynamite) James alongside his father, Eddie, who already is an honoured member.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have signed general manager and head coach Tyson Ramsey to a four-year contract extension that is to run through the 2025-26 season. Ramsey joined the Oil Capitals as an assistant coach prior to 2018-19 and took over as GM/head coach for the 2019-20 season.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Meteor

Lowry next GM for Wheat Kings? . . . Pats, Thunderbirds sign prospects. . . . Remembering the NHL’s Saskatoon Blues


MacBeth

F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he had 15 goals and 19 assists in 53 games.


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There has been speculation involving Dave Lowry and the Brandon Wheat Kings for a couple of weeks now.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7 that Grant Armstrong’s contract wouldn’t be BrandonWKregularrenewed after he had spent three seasons there. Armstrong had been the assistant GM with the Victoria Royals before signing with Brandon. Prior to joining the Royals, he had been the Portland Winterhawks’ director of scouting.

A source has told Taking Note that Armstrong was in Penticton on Tuesday. It could be that he is a candidate for an opening with the Okanagan Hockey Group, which is looking for a general manager for its academy in Penticton.

Lowry, 54, has ample WHL coaching experience. He has been on staff with the Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Flames, Victoria Royals and Los Angeles Kings.

He was the Royals’ head coach for five seasons (2012-17) before leaving to join Los Angeles as an assistant coach. He spent two seasons with the Kings before being dismissed on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

David Anning has been the Wheat Kings’ head coach for three seasons, after spending four seasons as an assistant coach. McGillivray has been on staff as an assistant coach through three seasons.

Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, has yet to announce whether the contracts of Anning and McGillivray will be extended.


The CHL import draft is scheduled for June 27 with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos holding the first selection. . . . The complete order of selection for the two-round draft is right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Spencer Penner to a WHL contract. Penner, from Blumenort, Man., was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, Pennder had 14 goals and 26 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Eastman Selects. . . . The Thunderbirds now have signed each of their first three selections from the 2019 bantam draft. D Kevin Korchinski and F Jordan Gustafson, both first-round picks, signed WHL contracts earlier this month.

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The Regina Pats have signed F Zane Rowan to a WHL contract. The Pats held three third-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, and used the first one to take Rowan, who is from Torrance, Calif. . . . Last season, he had 18 goals and 18 assists in 53 games with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.



Tyson Ramsey is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. Ramsey, 42, spent seven seasons on the coaching staff of the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings, the last four as head coach. He joined the Oil Capitals as an assistant coach prior to this season. . . . Ramsey, who is from Brandon, also has been scouting for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Ramsey replaces Troy Leslie, whose contract wasn’t renewed following the end of this season.


The Lacombe Generals, winners of the 2019 Allan Cup as Canada’s senior AAA champions, have folded. The decision, combined with a similar one by the Rosetown Red Wings, has left Allan Cup Hockey West with two remaining teams — the Innisfail Eagles and Stoney Plain Eagles. . . . Ashli Barrett of the Lacombe Globe has more right here.


It was in 1983 when the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, then owned by Ralston Purina, were sold to a Saskatoon group headed up by Bill Hunter, one of the WHL’s founding fathers. Of course, the whole thing fell apart when the NHL board of governors voted 15-3 against allowing the sale to go through. . . . But the tale of how Hunter worked to pull off the purchase is a great read, and it’s all right here from Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Enjoy!


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Wilson heads up Victoria’s 2020 Memorial Cup bid . . . Ex-WHLer has court date in Prince Albert . . . Fire threatens eagles’ nest


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F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-2010) signed a two-year contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). . . .

D Mark Louis (Brandon, Red Deer, 2003-08) signed a one-year contract extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, he had two assists in 30 games. Louis is spending this summer in Cardiff completing his MBA. . . .

F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a a tryout contract with Davos (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga), he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 53 games. An alternate captain, he led the team in assists and points. . . .

F Rihards Bukarts (Brandon, Portland, 2013-16) signed a one-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 17 games with Zlín (Czech Republic, Extraliga); one goal in 14 games with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL); and one assists in two games with the Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL).



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The wheels are in motion in Victoria as the Royals prepare to bid on being the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Royals announced this week that businessman John VictoriaRoyalsWilson will chair the bid committee, with Darren Parker, who is the Royals’ senior vice president of sales and marketing, the vice chair. . . . Wilson, a Victoria native, is the president and CEO of The Wilson’s Group, which, according to a Royals’ news release, “serves as Vancouver Island’s largest charter transportation company, and has been in operation since 1962.” . . . He is involved in the ownership groups for the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies and the junior B Peninsula Panthers. He also is part of the group that owns baseball’s Victoria HarbourCats, the perennial leaders in attendance in the West Coast League. . . . Parker, meanwhile, has been with the Royals since the franchise relocated from Chilliwack over the summer of 2011. . . . The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes also have said they will involved in the bidding for the 2020 Memorial Cup. Organizations and cities will present their bids at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. The host city is scheduled to be revealed at the end of that meeting.


There is an interesting sidebar involved with the fire that broke on Shuswap Road in Kamloops on Thursday. A tree that was near the fire on Thursday has a bald eagle’s nest on its top. Right now, that nest is home to a pair of chicks. . . . Firefighters were able to keep the flames away from it on Thursday. On Friday evening, with high winds having arrived as was forecast, the fire blew back and, as you can see from the below tweet, Kamloops firefighters were again working to save the tree, the next and the chicks.


Barkley Swenson, who played 150 regular-season WHL games over four seasons (1990-94), will be back in a Prince Albert court room on Aug. 2 after being charged with possession of stolen property, obstructing a peace officer, attempting to evade police, dangerous driving and being unlawfully at large while on an undertaking. . . . Swenson, 44, was in court on Thursday, according to Charlene Tebbutt of panow.com, represented himself and was released on bail. . . . Swenson was arrested following an incident on June 24. . . . He played 80 regular-season WHL games with the Prince Albert Raiders and 70 with the Tacoma Rockets. In all, he had 35 goals, 50 assists and 251 penalty minutes. . . . Tebbutt’s story is right here. . . . An earlier story from panow.com is right here.



Tyson Ramsey has signed on as an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. . . . Ramsey, who is from Brandon, spent the past seven seasons with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings, three as an assistant coach and the last four as head coach. . . . Last season, he also was the head coach of the bantam AAA Westman Wildcats female team. . . . He has scouted for the Moose Jaw Warriors for the past three seasons. . . . With the Oil Capitals, Ramsey will work alongside GM/head coach Troy Leslie.


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