WHL heads into season’s final night . . . Winterhawks, Giants finish with victories . . . Happy birthday to the guy traded for a bus — Tom Martin!


On May 1, Medina Spirit, trained by Bob Baffert, won the Kentucky Derby.

On Sunday, it was revealed that Medina Spirit had failed a drug test and that Baffert had been suspended indefinitely from Churchill Downs in Kentucky, the site of the Derby.

The horse tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory.

Baffert, who has had five horses test positive in the past year, called the situation “disturbing” and added that it was “the biggest gut punch in racing for something I didn’t do.”

We now await the outcome of a second round of testing on Medina Spirit.

In the meantime . . .

On Monday, Baffert told ESPN: “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. . . . There’s problems in racing. But it’s not Bob Baffert.”

Also on Monday, Baffert was blaming “cancel culture” and saying that Medina Spirit “has never been treated with” betamethasone.

Sheesh, he even talked about the possibility of a groom taking cough medicine, urinating in the horse’s stall and the horse eating some of the tainted hay.

By Tuesday, Baffert was admitting that the horse had been treated with an anti-fungal ointment that contains betamethasone.

Talk about a new take on “the dog ate my homework . . . or did he?”

Anyway . . . the Preakness Stakes is scheduled for Saturday. Medina Spirit will come out of the three-hole in the field of 10.


Better


Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego Padres’ most watchable shortstop, and at least two coaches with the New York Yankees have tested positive. . . . The Padres put Tatis Jr., who was asymptomatic, and teammates Jorge Mateo and Jurickson Profar, who were close contacts, on the injured list. . . . The Padres are in Denver where they beat the Colorado Rockies, 8-1, on Tuesday night. . . . Phil Nevin, the Yankees’ third-base coach, and first-base coach Reggie Willits tested positive despite having been fully vaccinated. An unidentified member of the team’s support staff also tested positive after having been fully vaccinated. . . . As of last night, the team was awaiting test results for other coaches and support staff. . . . The Yankees are in Tampa Bay where they beat the Rays, 3-1, on Tuesday. They are planning to play again today as scheduled. . . . Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported that a source had said the game was allowed to proceed because contact tracing and the high rate of vaccinations among Yankees personnel indicated there was no significant additional risk.


Lives


Three more WHL teams concluded their seasons on Tuesday, with the last four set to do the same tonight (Wednesday) with the Prince George Cougars meeting the Blazers in Kamloops and the Victoria Royals facing the Rockets in Kelowna. . . .

F Kishaun Gervais broke a 2-2 tie at 4:10 of the third period and the Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks went on to a 5-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . This was the final game of the season for both teams. . . . Portland finished 13-8-3 by winning its last four games. . . . Tri-City (7-12-0) lost four in a row. . . . Portland got out to a 2-0 lead on goals from D Nick Cicek (5), at 12:06 of the first period, and D Clay Hanus (1), on a PP, at 2:47 of the second. . . . The Americans, who were beaten, 9-1, by the visiting Winterhawks on Sunday night, tied it on second-period goals by F Jake Sloan (4), at 3:13, and F Booker Daniel (4), at 16:57. . . . Gervais broke the tie with his first goal of the season, and F Gabe Klassen (8) made it 4-2, on a PP, at 10:03. . . . F Nick Bowman (5) pulled the Americans to within a goal, on a PP, at 15:23, but F Jaydon Dureau (10) put it away with the empty-netter. . . . Cicek also had two assists as he closed out his major junior career with a three-point outing. . . . Portland was 2-for-2 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-for-3. . . . The Winterhawks held a 43-20 edge in shots, including 16-1 in the first period. . . . From the WHL: “After 60 days and 55 games, the 2020-21 WHL U.S. Division schedule came to a successful conclusion on Tuesday.” The five U.S. teams went through 4,103 tests for COVID-19 with only two of those turning up positive. . . .

F Tristen Nielsen, playing the final junior game of his career, drew four primary Vancouverassists to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 6-1 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kamloops. . . . The Giants finished their season at 12-10-0. . . . The Royals, with one game remaining, are 3-16-2. . . . Nielsen, who turned 21 on Feb. 23, finished the season with 32 points, 15 of them goals, in 22 games. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (7) scored shorthanded at 11:03 of the first period and D Marko Stacha (1) scored at 12:13 to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead. . . . Stacha, a freshman from Ilava, Slovakia, scored his first WHL goal in his 22nd game. He also has five assists. . . . F Keanu Derungs (5) scored for the Cougars, on a PP, at 19:29. . . . But the Giants closed it out with one second-period goal — from F Justin Sourdif (11) — and three in the third. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (7), on a PP, F Justin Lies (3) and F Bryce Bader (5), on a PP, finished the scoring. . . . D Tanner Brown had three assists, with Sourdif adding two helpers to his goal. . . . Last season, Brown had one goal and one assist in 57 games. This season, he finished with two goals and eight assist in 22 games. . . . The Giants outshot the Royals, 37-13, including 20-2 in the second period. . . .

Meanwhile, on Monday night, a pair of 16-year-olds — F Connor Levis and F KamloopsFraser Minten — had five-point outings as the Kamloops Blazers whipped the host Kelowna Rockets, 10-2. . . . That lifted the Blazers’ record to 17-4-0, with the Rockets slipping to 9-5-1. . . . Levis scored three times — his second hat trick of the season — and drew two assists, with Minten scoring once and adding four assists. . . . F Caedan Bankier (11) and F Josh Pillar (10) each chipped in a goal and three assists. . . . Levis, the 20th selection in the 2019 bantam draft, has nine goals and five assists in 21 games, while Minten, a fourth-round pick in that same draft, has three goals and 15 assists in 19 games. . . . The Blazers also got two goals from F Matthew Seminoff (12) and singles from D Inaki Baragano (5) and F Orrin Centazzo (6). . . . F Alex Swetlikoff (5) and F Dillon Hamaliuk (6) replied for the Rockets, their goals coming early in the third period to cut the deficit to 6-2. . . . The Blazers got 24 saves from G Dylan Ernst. . . . Kamloops, which held a 44-26 edge in shots, scored four times in each of the second and third periods as it went 5-for-7 on the PP. Kelowna was 0-for-2. . . .

——

The WHL’s department of justice came down on the Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs after their starting goaltenders got into a scrap late in the third period of Sunday’s game. Each team was fined $500.



Prince Albert is another step closer to a new arena, one that would be home to the WHL’s Raiders, as city council has voted to award design-related contracts for an estimate $3.2 million to firms from Saskatoon and Toronto. . . . Interestingly, the vote was 6-3 with one councillor, Tony Head, upset that local companies didn’t receive more consideration from the city’s administration. . . . Jason Kerr has that story right here.


Truck


ICYMI, the Priestner Sports Corporation, which owns the Saskatoon Blades, has purchased the National Lacrosse League’s Saskatchewan Rush from Bruce Urban. Urban moved the franchise from Edmonton to Saskatoon in 2016. . . . Both teams play out of Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre. . . . The PSC is headed up by Mike Priestner, who also owns Go Auto, which controls 47 Canadian dealerships. . . . Colin Priestner will be the Rush’s governor and president while continuing on as the Blades’ president and general manager. . . . Derek Keenan will stay on as the Rush’s GM.


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Reading

Arena coming down in The Hat . . . Andrews moves on to new career . . . Rebels: 1,448 milk cartons, 165 dozen eggs

Terry Massey lives in Regina and knows his way around computers. Over the years, he has helped me a lot with my blog/website, especially when I was operating with a different host than this one. . . . Like so many of us, he, his wife and their twin boys have been impacted by COVID-19. . . . Terry, for example, is looking for work through all of this, and now everything has been interrupted by two positives tests. . . . Here’s his story; give it a read. . . . And then make sure to get vaccinated.


That’s it for the Medicine Hat Arena. As Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News wrote on Friday: “The ice is out, the asphalt is coming up and the Medicine Hat Arena may start coming down this year. Machinery and fencing was delivered to the shuttered facility in the North River Flats as the city begins reworking utility lines in the area as part of a delayed conditional sale announced in 2019 and set to close this summer.” . . . Shouldn’t Bob Ridley get to swing the first sledgehammer or push the plunger or whatever is going to happen when the destruction begins? . . . Gallant’s story is right here.


When the Regina Pats closed out their part of the WHL schedule in the Regina Patshub on April 27, it marked more than the end of a team’s season. It also signalled the end of a career for Phil Andrews, their one-time play-by-play voice who rejoined the team just to call the developmental season’s games. . . . On Friday, in thanking the team and the fans, Andrews revealed that he is joining Athletes in Action at the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

“It’s been a six-year journey to get here,” he wrote. “I found myself in a tough spot personally in 2015, making some serious mistakes and was left trying to pick up the pieces at home. In that process, I have found God and a faith that has changed my outlook on life. As a result, I have been in search of a career working with people and hopefully allowing my story to make a difference. I am very excited to announce I will be joining the campus staff of Athletes in Action at the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. I am really looking forward to this next chapter for myself and my family.”


F Dante Hannoun, now 22, played five seasons (2014-19) in the WHL, spending four-plus seasons with the Victoria Royals and finishing up with 28 regular-season games and a run to a championship with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . This season, the native of Delta, B.C., played with Sterzing/Vipiteno in the Alps Hockey League. He finished 20th in the scoring race, putting up 49 points, 16 of them goals, in 40 regular-season games. . . . Why am I dropping Hannoun’s name here? Well, during every Vancouver Canucks’ game there is an online 50/50 draw to benefit the Canucks Kids Fund. . . . The Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers, 6-3, on Thursday night and the draw brought in $121,080, with half of that going to the winner. According to the Canucks’ website that winner is “Dante Hannoun” and he pocketed $60,540. . . . Might it be the WHL’s Dante Hannoun or are there two of them out there? Whoever it is, I hope he’s buying lunch for his pals.


WhoRules


Lacrosse Canada announced Friday that it has cancelled nine 2021 national championships because of the pandemic. From that announcement: “The minor box lacrosse nationals, including the 12U, 14U, 14U girls, 17U and 17U girls National Championships, have been cancelled. The Founders’ Cup Junior B National Championship has been cancelled. As well, the field lacrosse nationals, including the U15 boys’ field, U18 men’s field and the senior men’s field National Championships, have been cancelled for 2021.”


The Vancouver Giants got two goals and two assists from F Tristen Nielsen as Vancouverthey scored five times on special teams en route to a 6-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Vancouver (11-9-0) had lost its previous two games. . . . Kelowna (8-4-1) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Nielsen, who turned 21 on Feb. 23, now has 15 goals and 13 assists in 20 games. He scored once on the power play and once while shorthanded, and drew two PP assists. . . . The Giants were 3-for-3 on the PP and 3-for-4 on the PK, while also scoring two shorthanded goals, the eighth and ninth allowed by the Rockets in 13 games. . . . Vancouver scored four second-period goals as it outshot Kelowna 17-5. . . . Nielsen opened the scoring, shorthanded, at 1:52 of the first period. . . . D Tanner Brown (2) made it 2-0 at 5:13 of the second. . . . F Steel Quiring (2) got Kelowna’s first goal at 6:44. . . . Nielsen added a PP goal at 10:10 and F Justin Sourdif then scored twice — on a PP at 10:44 and shorthanded at 14:53. . . . F Adam Hall (7) added another PP goal for the Giants at 9:43 of the third period. . . . D Kaedan Korczak (3) had Kelowna’s second goal, on a PP, at 12:57. . . . Sourdif also had an assist for a three-point outing. . . . In four games with the Rockets, Nielsen and Sourdif have combined for 21 points. Sourdif has four goals and seven assists; Nielsen has five goals and five assist. . . . The Giants got 18 saves from G Trent Miner. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 2-0 second-period deficit with five goals and Seattlebeat the host Tri-City Americans, 5-2. . . . Seattle (9-11-1) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Tri-City (7-10-0) has lost two in a row. . . . F Nick Bowman (4) and F Connor Bouchard (5) had the Americans ahead 2-0 early in the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson, who scored twice and added an assist, got the Seattle comeback started at 5:53 of the second period. . . . F Henry Rybinski tied it with his first of two goals at 7:08. . . . Rybinski (7) gave the Thunderbirds the lead at 9:45 with the club’s first shorthanded goal of the season. . . . F Nico Myatovic (3) upped the lead to 4-2 at 17:46 and Davidson (9) got the empty-netter. . . . Davidson has nine goals and nine assists in 21 games. Last season he had eight goals and eight assists in 59 games. . . . G Scott Ratzlaff, who turned 16 on March 9, stopped 18 shots to earn the victory in his first WHL start. From Irma, Alta., he was a second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . The Americans opened up five sections to vaccinated fans and youngsters with proof of negative tests. Unfortunately, they didn’t show an attendance figure on the online game sheet. . . .

The Everett Silvertips outshot visiting Spokane, 45-15, as they skated to a 5-1 Everettvictory over the Chiefs. . . . Everett (18-4-0) has won three in a row. . . . The Chiefs (6-8-5) had points in each of their previous four games (2-0-2). . . . The Silvertips outscored the Chiefs 3-1 in a second period in which they held a 24-4 edge in shots. . . . F Ethan Regnier (7) gave the winners a 1-0 lead at 19:43 of the first period, with F Matthew Ng making it 2-0 with his first WHL goal at 4:12 of the second. . . . Ng, from Cupertino, Calif., was playing in his fourth WHL game. Undrafted, he turned 17 on Jan. 13. . . . F Eli Zummack (9) struck for Spokane, on a PP, at 6:05, but F Cole Fonstad (16) and F Jackson Berezowski (7), on a PP, replied for Everett before the period ended. . . . D Ronan Seeley (5) finished Everett’s scoring at 2:54 of the third period. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 13 shots in 55:04, then made way for Evan May to make his WHL debut. May, an undrafted 16-year-old from Nanaimo, stopped the only shot he faced in 4:56.

——


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Social

Toigo and Giants ready for AHL challenge . . . Canada, Russia on to U18 final . . . Jarvis fills hat for Portland


Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, says his Vancouverfranchise is more than ready to deal with having a bit more competition should the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, to the Abbotsford Centre. . . . The Canucks said Tuesday that they intend to move the Comets, that they are negotiating with the City of Abbotsford, and that the AHL’s board of governors is expected to vote on the move during a meeting today. . . . The Giants play out of the Langley Events Centre, which is 34 km west of the Abbotsford Centre. . . . “It’s no different than the restaurant business, where a guy can open another restaurant just down the street,” Toigo, whose family owns the White Spot restaurant chain, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “It’s competition and I think that’s a healthy thing. It keeps everyone on their toes. It gets rid of complacency. It’s going to be more of a challenge. At end of the day, I think we’ll be fine.” . . .

Toigo also pointed out that with the pandemic still running amok, there still are a whole lot of unanswered questions with the start of the 2021-22 season hopefully around five months away.

As Toigo told Ewen: “Are people going to be allowed to come to games? If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”

Ewen’s complete story is right here.



F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats scored three times on Wednesday as Team U18Canada dropped Sweden, 8-1, in one semifinal game at the IIHF U18 World championship in Frisco, Texas. . . . Canada had beaten Sweden, 12-1, in a round-robin game. . . . In the other semifinal, Russia edged Finland, 6-5. . . . Canada will meet Russia for the gold medal today (6 p.m. PT, TSN). . . . That means it will be Bedard against Russian F Michkov Matvei, 16, who leads the tournament with 11 goals. Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Matvei also shares the points lead, at 13, with teammate Nikita Chibrikov. Matvei had one goal last night, while Chibrikov, the team captain, scored twice and added an assist. . . . Bedard has 12 points, including six goals, in Canada’s six games. He put up five goals and three assists in his last two games; he had two goals and three assists in a 10-3 victory over Czech Republic in a Monday quarterfinal game. . . . Bedard also is two points shy of F Connor McDavid’s output as a 15-year-old in the 2013 tournament in Sochi, Russia. McDavid had a tournament-high 14 points, eight of them goals, in seven games. . . . This will be only the second time in the U18 event’s history that Canada and Russia have met in the final. In 2008 in Kazan, Russia,, Canada beat Russia, 8-0. Team Canada’s head coach? Pat Quinn.


Stuffing


The WHL’s 2021 developmental season is into its final days. In fact, there are only seven days remaining with 12 teams — two in Alberta, five in B.C., five in the U.S. — scheduled to play 17 games before it’s over. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers will conclude their seasons tonight. . . .  There were three games on Wednesday night. . . .

In Kamloops, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots to lead the Prince George PGCougars to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars (9-7-3) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Giants (10-9-0) have lost two in a row. . . . The Cougars moved past the Giants into second place in the B.C. Division. . . . Vancouver’s loss also means that the idle Kamloops Blazers (14-4-0) will finish with more points than any of the other four B.C. teams. The idle Kelowna Rockets (8-3-1), however, are still able to finish higher by way of points percentage — with each team having four games to play Kamloops is at .778 with Kelowna at .708. The WHL ruled that first place in this developmental season will be decided by points percentage because of the difference in games played. . . . The Blazers and Rockets will meet once more, in Kelowna on Monday. . . . Last night, F Koehn Ziemmer scored the Cougars’ first two goals, at 4:36 and 17:31 of the second period. He’s got nine goals, five of them over his past three games. . . . F Tyson Upper (5) got the empty-netter. . . . Gauthier, making his 150th regular-season appearance, earned his first shutout this season and No. 6 for his career. This season, he is 7-6-0, 2.70, .917. . . . Vancouver G Drew Sim made 13 saves. . . . The Cougars were able to dress only 11 forwards and five defencemen, tweeting before the game that “the hub is taking its toll.” . . . D Jack Sander, the Cougars’ captain, played in his 200th regular-season game. . . .

F Gage Goncalves scored the only goal of a shootout to give the host Everett EverettSilvertips a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (17-4-0) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle now is 8-12-0. . . . Seattle held 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second period. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon scored first, at 4:49 of the first period, with F Henry Rybinski (5), who also had two assists, making it 2-0 at 1:06 of the second. . . . F Austin Roest (3) scored for Seattle at 9:43. . . . Jeri-Leon made it 3-1 with his 15th goal at 11:02. . . . The Silvertips tied it on second-period goals from F Jackson Berezowski (6), at 16:48, and Goncalves (12), on a PP at 18:19. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for Everett, four fewer than Seattle’s Berry Jackson. . . .

F Seth Jarvis scored three times as the visiting Portland Winterhawks beat the PortlandAlternateTri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . The Winterhawks improved to 10-8-3. . . . The Americans (7-9-0) had won their previous two games. . . . D Marc Lajoie (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into the game. . . . Portland then struck for five first-period goals — two from Jarvis, two from F Mason Mannek, who has 10, and one from F Simon Knak. . . . Jarvis completed his second hat trick of the season at 18:47 of the second period when a shot by F Jack O’Brien went in off one of his legs. . . . Knak (14) got his second goal of the night in the third period. . . . F Nick Bowman (3) had Tri-City’s other goal. . . . Tri-City D Lukas Dragicevic, the fourth overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, picked up an assist on Bowman’s goal. It was Dragicevic’s first WHL point and came in his fifth game. He’s only 108 points behind his father, Milan, who put up 109 points, 34 of them goals, in 240 games split between the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90). . . . Tri-City scratched D Luke Zazula, its captain, presumably with an undisclosed injury.



Bologna


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Brent Hughes has joined the junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League as head coach. Hughes 55, played four seasons in the WHL (1983-87, New Westminster Bruins, Victoria Cougars) before going on to a pro career that included 357 NHL games. He takes over the Flames from Bayne Ryshak, who was dropped after last season. . . . The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Braden Malsbury as their director of marketing, communications and broadcasting. According to a news release, he “will oversee the team’s marketing and communications effort. He also will return to the broadcast booth for his ninth season of calling games in the SJHL.” He had been the radio voice of the Ice Wolves for MBC Radio until being laid off on March 29.


Cheerio

Canucks make their Abbotsford intentions official . . . OT the rage in WHL’s Tuesday games . . . Does CFL draft make Bob Lowes a Blue Bombers’ fan?


The Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate won’t be setting up shop in Kamloops or CanucksKelowna. But it appears that it will be operating out of B.C. next season. . . . Although negotiations with the City of Abbotsford aren’t yet complete, the Canucks said Tuesday that they intend to move the Utica Comets to the Abbotsford Centre for the 2021-22 season. . . . Here’s Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini from a statement: “With momentum starting to build, we are pleased to confirm our goal to bring our AHL franchise and Canucks prospects home to the City of Abbotsford. The move would bring significant opportunities for both our team and the community and it would begin a new chapter, bringing Canucks hockey to even more fans throughout the Lower Mainland.” . . . The Canucks’ AHL team has been in Utica since the 2013-14 season. The New Jersey Devils are expected to move their AHL franchise, the Binghamton Devils, to Utica in time for next season. . . . The Calgary Flames had their AHL affiliate, the Heat, play out of Abbotsford for five seasons (2009-14), before relocating it to Stockton, Calif.

——

Only time will tell what kind of impact, if any, having the Vancouver Canucks’ Vancouvertop affiliate in Abbotsford might have on the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . The Giants play out of the Langley Events Centre, which is located 34 km west of the Abbotsford Centre. Both facilities are just off the Trans-Canada Highway. . . . The Giants have played four seasons out of Langley after relocating from Pacific Coliseum after the 2015-16 season. . . . In their last season in the Coliseum, announced attendance averaged 5,169. . . . In their four seasons in Langley, starting in 2016-17, the announced average has been 3,848, 3,383, 3,826 and 3,920. That last figure was from the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in which the Giants ended up playing 30 home games. . . . The Lower Mainland also is home to four BCHL franchises — the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen and Surrey Eagles. . . . You would think that the presence of one more hockey team — this one featuring prospects who belong to the area’s NHL team — will have an impact of some kind somewhere along the line. . . . Also, having a new team on the block certainly won’t help the junior teams as they try to find their ways back into the hearts of their fans after having been away from live crowds for what will have been about 18 months . . . assuming, that is, that the 2021-22 season gets started in the fall and that teams will be allowed to have fans in attendance.



Three more WHL teams, all from Alberta, played their final games of this developmental season on Tuesday night. The other two will wrap up their seasons on Thursday night. . . . That will leave 10 WHL teams left with games on the schedule, all of them in B.C. or the U.S. . . . All told, there were four games played last night with three of them needing OT to decide a winner. . . .

The Calgary Hitmen tied the game late in the third period and then scored late Calgaryin OT to beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 4-3. . . . Calgary (10-8-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Red Deer (4-15-4) finished with points in each of its last four games (2-0-2). . . . Both teams were playing their final games of this season. . . . D Mason Ward (2) put the Rebels out front at 16:43 of the first period. . . . The Hitmen went ahead on second-period PP goals from F Sean Tschigerl (13), at 16:40, and F Riley Stotts (6), at 18:13. . . . Stotts also had two assists. . . . Red Deer took a 3-2 lead when F Ben King scored two third-period goals — at 9:14, on a PP, and 16:45. . . . Calgary got it to OT as F Josh Prokop (10) scored at 19:13. . . . F Adam Kydd (9) won it at 4:21 of extra time. . . . King also drew one assist. The 13th overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft finished with 28 points, including 12 goals, in 21 games. He totalled four goals and four assists over his final three games. . . . Tschigerl, the fourth overall selection in the 2018 draft, finished on a 12-game point streak, putting up 11 goals and seven assists over that stretch. . . . The Hitmen got 32 saves from G Brayden Peters. . . . Red Deer G Chase Coward turned aside 42 shots. Coward appears to suffer a cut to one wrist during a scramble in his crease at 13:55 of the third period. He was replaced by Byron Fancy, who stopped four of five shots in finishing the period. Coward was back for OT. . . .

In Edmonton, F Josh Williams scored 21 seconds into OT to give the Oil Kings a Edmonton3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings (19-2-1) will finish with the best record among the five Alberta teams. . . . The Hurricanes (9-12-3) lost their last two games (0-1-1). . . . Lethbridge played its final game of this season; Edmonton and the Tigers will conclude their seasons in Medicine Hat on Thursday. . . . Williams gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead at 10:12 of the first period. . . . Lethbridge took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Chase Wheatcroft (8), at 15:11 of the first, and F Ty Nash (4), at 14:52 of the second. . . . F Jalen Luypen (16) pulled Edmonton even at 17:32 of the second. . . . Williams won it with his 17th goal of the season. . . . Nash was unable to score on a penalty shot at 1:09 of the third period. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 27 shots, nine fewer than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . .

F Samuel Huo scored the game’s final two goals, the last one in OT, to give the Americansvisiting Tri-City Americans a 4-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Americans (7-8-0) have won two in a row. . . . The Chiefs (6-7-5) have points in four straight (2-0-2). . . . Tri-City took a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period when F Tyson Greenway (3) scored. . . . The Chiefs got two goals before the period ended, from F Adam Beckman (16), on a PP, and D Graham Sward (1). . . . F Connor Bouchard (4) got Tri-City back into a tie, on a PP, at 14:18. . . . F Luke Toporowski (1) gave Spokane the lead at 9:41 of the third period in his second game since returning from the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. . . . Huo, who also had an assist, tied the score at 12:47 and won it with his ninth goal, just 23 seconds into OT. . . .

The Prince George Cougars have points in five straight games after beating the PGhost Kelowna Rockets, 2-1. . . . The Cougars (8-7-3) are 4-0-1 in their five-game streak. . . . The Rockets (8-3-1) had at least a point in each of their previous six games (5-0-1). . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (7) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 7:08 of the first period. . . . F Connor Bowie (7) upped that to 2-0 with a shorthanded goal, the seventh the Rockets have surrendered this season, at 5:23 of the second. . . . Kelowna didn’t cut the deficit in half until F Mark Liwiski (9) scored at 15:38 of the third period. . . . The Rockets had a 30-18 edge in shots, including 12-4 in the third period. . . . G Taylor Gauthier earned the victory with 29 saves.


Artisans


The CFL held its annual draft on Thursday, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers used a fourth-round pick, 34th overall, to take LB Robbie Lowes of the Regina Rams. . . . He’s 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, and may well end up in the Bombers’ defensive backfield. He also is the son of Bob Lowes, the former WHL player and coach who now is the director of amateur scouting for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Robbie lost the 2020 season, which would have been his fifth in USports, to the pandemic. But USports is allowing those players to return to play a fifth season so that option still will be open to him.


Don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: F Tristen Robins of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades is joining the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Robins, 19, had 10 goals and 13 assists in 16 games in the WHL’s Regina hub. The Sharks selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2020 draft.


Radio

WHL stars headed for AHL . . . Beckman nets second straight hat trick . . . Bankier money in bank for Blazers


Two of the WHL’s top forwards — Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice — are preparing to play some AHL games. . . . Greig, 18, is in quarantine in Ottawa and will join the AHL’s Belleville Senators for their final seven games. The parent Ottawa Senators selected him 28th overall in the NHL’s 2020 draft. He had two assists in four games will Belleville earlier this season. In the WHL’s Regina hub, he had 32 points, 10 of them goals, in 21 games. . . . Krebs, who turned 20 on Jan. 26, will be joining the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights for the remainder of their season, and then could well be added to the Vegas Golden Knights’ roster for their Stanley Cup run. Vegas selected him 17th overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. Krebs actually began the season with the Silver Knights, scoring once and adding four assists in five games. In the WHL this season, he led the Regina hub in scoring with 43 points, 30 of them assists, in 24 games. . . . Note that there won’t be any playoffs in the AHL this season.


ASAP


While Greig and Krebs and looking forward to AHL games, 12 WHL teams were on the ice Saturday night . . .

The Tri-City Americans opened up an early 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 Americansvictory over the host Portland Winterhawks. . . . With Portland having lost in regulation time, it means the idle Everett Silvertips will finish atop the U.S. Division. . . . The Americans (6-8-0) had lost their previous three games. . . . The Winterhawks now are 9-7-3. . . . Tri-City grabbed that lead on first-period goals from F Nick Bowman (2), at 0:30, F Tyson Greenway (2), at 11:13, and F Sasha Mutala (6), at 12:50. . . . F Reece Newkirk, playing in his 200th regular-season game with Portland, got his eighth goal, on a PP, at 8:32, and F Jaydon Dureau (5) cut the deficit to one at 10:12 of the third. . . . Tri-City G Talyn Boyko stopped 37 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Winterhawks had F Cross Hanas, D Clay Hanus and F James Stefan in the lineup for the first time. They spent most of this season with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. . . . F Jack O’Brien, the fourth Portland player to have skated with Lincoln, played in his second game back with the Winterhawks. . . .

F Adam Beckman scored three goals for a second straight game, helping the Spokanehost Spokane Chiefs to an 8-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Spokane (6-7-3) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle (7-11-0) has lost six straight. . . . Beckman, who led the WHL with 48 goals in 63 games last season, now has scored 15 times in 16 outings this season. . . . Beckman scored two second-period goals — on a PP at 2:28 for a 3-1 lead and at 16:50 for a 6-2 lead. He completed the hat trick with a shorthanded goal at 13:24 of the third period. That gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead. . . . Spokane’s other goals came from F Eli Zummack (8), F Copeland Fricker (2), F Blake Swetlikoff (4), D Matt Leduc (1) and F Ben Thornton (1). Thornton was the 15th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . Spokane D Bobby Russell had three assists. . . . F Jared Davidson (6), D Cade McNelly (1) and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (12) replied for Seattle. . . . Seattle F Payton Mount played in his second game after being injured on April 13 when he struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the team’s bench. . . . F Luke Toporowski was back with the Chiefs for the first time, after playing 32 games with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. He had 33 points, including 14 goals. . . . G Scott Ratzlaff made his WHL debut by playing the third period for Seattle. A second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft, he stopped eight of 10 shots. . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 6-3 Lethvictory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Hurricanes improved to 9-11-2, while the Tigers slipped to 13-7-1. . . . F Logan Barlage (8), on a PP, and F Cole Miller (1) got Lethbridge into a first-period lead, and F Alex Thacker (3) made it 3-0 at 8:49 of the second. . . . Miller, the 16th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his 10th game. . . . F Teague Patton (2) scored for the Tigers at 9:15, but the Hurricanes opened the third period with goals from F Dino Kambeitz (6), at 4:00, and F Chase Wheatcroft, on a PP, at 6:34, to take a 5-1 lead. . . . F Corson Hopwo (14) and F Carlin Dezainde (1) scored for the Tigers before game’s end, with Wheatcroft (7) getting the empty-netter. . . . Dezainde, an undrafted skater from Calgary, got his first WHL goal in his 11th game. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels ended a 13-game losing skid with a 4-2 victory over the RedDeervisiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Red Deer (3-15-3) had been 0-12-1 in its previous 13 outings. . . . The Oil Kings had won the past 17 meetings between these teams. . . . Edmonton (18-2-1) had points in each of its previous 10 games (9-0-1). . . . F Ben King (10) gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead with goals at 0:40 and 4:07 of the first period, the second one coming via a PP. . . . F Logan Dowhaniuk got Edmonton on the scoreboard at 15:52. . . . Red Deer got that one back when F Chris Douglas (7) scored, shorthanded, at 7:56 of the second period. . . . Dowhaniuk got his fourth of the season, on a PP, at 15:57. . . . F Ethan Rowland (6) of the Rebels got the empty-netter. . . . Edmonton F Jake Neighbours, who is on a 19-game point streak, sat out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Chase Coward, an undrafted goaltender from Swift Current, earned his first WHL victory in his second start with 24 saves. . . . F Josh Tarzwell was back in Red Deer’s lineup after being out since April 9 with an undisclosed injury. . . . Edmonton head coach Brad Lauer was fined $500 after taking a game misconduct at the end of Friday’s game, an 8-3 victory over the host Calgary Hitmen. . . .

F Caedan Bankier scored with 12.4 seconds left in OT to give the host Kamloops KamloopsBlazers a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Kamloops (13-4-0, .765) had lost its previous two games. . . . Kelowna (8-2-1, .773) had won five in a row. . . . Bankier, a sophomore from Surrey, B.C., had 20 points, including seven goals, in 55 games last season. His OT goal gave him his first career hat trick. He has 17 points, including eight goals, in 17 games this season. . . . Bankier, on a PP at 3:45 of the second period, and F Josh Pillar (9), shorthanded at 9:23, gave Kamloops a 2-0 lead. . . . The Rockets tied it on second-period PP goals by F David Kope and F Alex Swetlikoff (4), at 11:09 and 17:43. . . . Bankier scored on a PP at 2:38 of the third period for a 3-2 lead, only to have Kope (5) tie it at 8:59. . . . Kope also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Kamloops got 35 stops from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Rockets had beaten him and the Blazers 6-1 in Kelowna on Friday night. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary missed his second straight game after absorbing a high hit from F Jonny Hooker of the Prince George Cougars on Wednesday night. Hooker has been suspended, although the length of the suspension has yet to be announced. . . . The Cougars are scheduled to play the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops tonight. . . .

F Justin Sourdif and F Tristen Nielsen scored in the shootout to give the VancouverVancouver Giants a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (10-7-0) had lost four in a row. . . . The Royals now are 2-13-2. . . . The Giants held a 42-19 edge in shots, including 15-3 in the third period. . . . F Carter Dereniwsky (1) gave Victoria a 1-0 lead at 1:46 of the first period. . . . A second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, he was playing in his 16th game. . . . D Connor Horning (1) and F Adam Hall (6), on a PP, gave the Giants the lead before the period ended. . . . Victoria went back out front with second-period PP goals from F Keanu Derungs (3), at 2:39, and F Brandon Cutler (7), at 3:00. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (6) and F Kaden Kohle (1), at 4:29 and 5:02, got Vancouver back into the lead. . . . F Taren Fizer (4) scored, shorthanded, at 13:29 of the second to get Victoria into a 4-4 tie. . . . Vancouver G Drew Sim stopped 15 shots, while Victoria’s Connor Martin turned aside 38.


The playoff stage is set after Saturday’s games at the IIHF U18 World U18Championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. . . . Canada ran its record atop Group A to 4-0 with a 5-2 victory over Belarus (2-2). Team Canada will play Czech Republic (1-2-1) in a quarterfinal game on Monday (TSN4, 1 p.m. PT) in Frisco. . . . Team USA (3-0-1) beat Finland 5-4 in OT to finish third, behind Finland (3-0-1) and Russia (3-0-1) in Group B, and now will meet Sweden (3-1-0) in a Monday quarterfinal game (TSN1, 6 p.m.PT). . . . The other quarterfinals on Monday will have Russia (3-0-1) against Belarus (10:30 a.m. PT) and Finland against Switzerland (1-3) (3:30 p.m. CT). . . . Latvia (0-4 in Group A) and Germany (0-4 in Group B) didn’t qualify for the playoffs.


Pan


Don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Saturday that Ken Law has moved into a full-time position as general manager, with Travers Rebman, who had been an assistant coach, moving up to head coach. Head scout Larry Hamilton has added the assistant general manager’s job to his duties. Thierry Martine and Carl Poole remain as assistant coaches, with Travis Hoy staying on as goaltender coach and Shea Kearns as strength-and-conditioning coach. . . . Law had been the head coach and assistant GM, with owner Jason Tansem serving as the GM.


BatesMotel

WHL exempt from Alberta gov’t restrictions . . . AJHL has another team on virus leave . . . Rebels’ Sexsmith opens up about the season


If you’re paying attention, you already know that COVID-19 had another good day on Thursday.

In fact, you have to wonder if behind closed doors junior hockey operators are WHL2starting to wonder if the 2021-22 season is going to start anywhere close to on time, at least in Western Canada. Because — and let’s be honest here — we aren’t anywhere close to seeing the end of this.

When Alberta released its Thursday numbers, they were the worst the province has seen since the pandemic began in the early days of 2020.

So, from the Department of Better Late Than Never, the Alberta government responded with restrictions that cover various cities with particularly horrendous numbers, like Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer, each of them home to a WHL franchise.

Part of those restrictions included this:

“All indoor fitness activities are prohibited. This includes: all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes and training sessions; all one-on-one lessons and training activities; all practices, training and games.”

But never fear WHL fans because it seems your favourite teams are exempt from these restrictions. With Red Deer playing on Thursday night, Rebels interim radio voice Troy Gillard tweeted that a “team official tells me the WHL does indeed remain exempt and games will continue as scheduled.”

Other areas under the restrictions are Airdrie, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Strathcona County, which includes Sherwood Park.

It would appear that the AJHL, like the WHL, is exempt from the restrictions because the Grande Prairie Storm is at home to the Sherwood Park Crusaders tonight (Friday) and Saturday, with the teams to play next weekend in Sherwood Park.


Plague


The AJHL has suspended the team activities of another team — the Calgary Canucks — after a positive COVID-19 test result was identified within the ajhlteam’s cohort. As per the league’s return-to-play protocols, the Canucks are on hold for at least 14 days. They were scheduled to play the Drayton Valley Thunder in Calgary tonight (Friday), on the road Sunday and May 7, and May 9 in Calgary, but those games all have been cancelled. . . .

On Tuesday, the AJHL halted team activities for the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs for 14 days because of a positive test in the Wolverines’ group. Those two teams had played each other on Saturday and Sunday. . . .

On Sunday, the Okotoks Oilers were put on hold for 14 days because of a positive test in their cohort. . . .

On April 23, the Drumheller Dragons experienced a positive test and they, too, were shut down for 14 days. . . .

On Wednesday, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced that they were ending their season out of an abundance of concern for the safety of players, billets and their community, which is under a local state of emergency. . . .

The league has seven teams up and running — Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie Storm, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints in the North Division, and Brooks Bandits, Camrose Kodiaks and Olds Grizzlys in the South Division.

With seven teams and three two-team cohorts, the Spruce Grove Saints were left without a partner. That problem went away with the news regarding the Canucks. So the Saints are to play the Thunder tonight (Friday) in Spruce Grove and Saturday in Drayton Valley.

The AJHL schedule is to conclude on May 8.


File this under The Best Laid Plans: The Los Angeles Rams rented and outfitted a 9,000-square-foot beach house in Malibu from which their personnel was to set up shop and conduct the NFL draft. . . . On Thursday, general manager Les Snead announced that he has tested positive so will isolate at home and conduct the draft from there.


Retire


Mark Brennan, the Portland Winterhawks’ equipment manager, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this season. He has been the club’s equipment manager since 2012, after also working with, among others, the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. When Portland’s season ends on May 11, Brennan will have worked 2,251 games. The Winterhawks’ news release is right here.

Brennan wasn’t behind a bench on Thursday night — he’ll be there tonight with Portland playing host to the Everett Silvertips — but there were three other WHL games . . .

In Lethbridge, the Medicine Hat Tigers broke a 1-1 tie with two shorthanded Tigersgoals and went on to beat the Hurricanes, 6-2. . . . Medicine Hat (13-6-1) had lost its previous three games. . . . Lethbridge is 8-11-2. . . . F Brett Kemp gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 6:44 of the first period, with F Jett Jones (5) getting the Hurricanes even at 12:07. . . . D Cole Clayton (9) sent the Tigers out front with the first shorthanded goal, at 3:51 of the second period, with F Nick McCarry (7) adding the second one at 10:48. . . . Medicine Hat put it away with the next three goals, too — Kemp’s second and 12th of the season, and two from F Lukas Svejkovsky, who also has 12. . . . F Ty Nash (2) got Lethbridge’s second goal on a late PP. . . .

F Cael Zimmerman’s OT goal gave the visiting Calgary Hitmen a 4-3 victory Calgaryover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Hitmen improved to 9-7-2. . . . The Rebels (2-15-3) have lost 13 in a row (0-12-1). . . . F Josh Prokop (9) put Calgary out front, while shorthanded, at 2:39 of the first period and the teams exchanged goals through game’s end. . . . F Carter Anderson (2) got Red Deer even at 13:19, with D Jackson van de Least (3) replying for Calgary at 17:40. . . . Red Deer tied it on D Jace Weir’s second goal at 19:52. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (5) put the Hitmen back out front, 3-2, at 10:18 of the second period. . . . F Chris Douglas (6) forced OT with a Red Deer score at 12:48 of the third. . . . Zimmerman won it with his sixth goal of the season, at 4:19 of extra time. . . . Calgary F Sean Tschigel had two assists, giving him 18 points, including 10 goals, in 18 games. He went into this season with five goals and nine assists in 64 games. . . .

BTW, if you are interested in a good story about what life’s been like with the RedDeerstruggling Rebels who have been living in the arena since this season began, here’s a taste from D Joel Sexsmith:

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really tough,” the 19-year-old told Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate. “It hasn’t been easy here. It certainly hasn’t been easy when you’re losing, too. I think the dynamic would shift if we’d been winning all the time and we haven’t been, that’s just the reality.

“We live here, we look at the rink every day and it kind of serves as a reminder that we are where we are in the standings. I think that’s really tough mentally. I would say I’m really grateful that I’m able to go through this with this group of guys. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I love this group of guys on this team.” . . . Hackett’s complete piece is right here and it’s well worth a read. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff broke a 3-3 tie at 18:27 of the third period as the Kelowna RocketsRockets beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . The Rockets (7-2-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Giants (9-7-0) have lost four straight. . . . Swetlikoff’s fourth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . . Kelowna D Jake Lee (2) had tied the game at 14:29 of the third. . . . Vancouver led this one 2-0 on two first-period goals from F Zack Ostapchuk, at 9:03 and 9:40. . . . Ostapchuk, who has six goals in 16 games this  season, finished last season with five in 44 games as a freshman. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (4) got Kelowna’s first goal, on a PP, at 13:21. . . . The Rockets tied it on F Turner McMillen’s first WHL goal, shorthanded, at 4:19 of the second. That was Kelowna’s fifth shorthanded score in nine games. . . . McMillen was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. He played two games last season and this was No. 9 this season. . . . Vancouver went back out front when F Bryce Bader (4) scored at 7:40. . . . Watching the replay of the winning goal, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s changed to F Mark Liwiski, who appeared to score off a Swetlikoff rebound.


Belarus (2-1-0) secured a quarter-final berth in the IIHF U18 World U18Championship in Texas on Thursday, with a 6-2 victory over Latvia (0-3-0) in Group A. . . . Sweden (2-1-0) beat Switzerland (1-2-0), 3-1, in the other Group A game. . . . In Group B, G Kaidan Mbereko stopped five shooters in the shootout as Team USA beat Czech Republic, 2-1. . . . In the other Group B game, Russia (2-0-1) skated past Germany (0-3-0), 6-1. . . . There are two games scheduled for today — Canada (2-0-0) meets Switzerland in Group A, while Finland (2-0-0) plays Germany in Group B.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Monkees

Nova Scotia, with virus numbers rising, pulls plug on Women’s Worlds . . . WHL adjusts schedule; some teams won’t get in 24 games . . . CFL provides an update

It sure looked as though the IIHF Women’s World Championship was going to start in Halifax and Truro on May 6. But that’s before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and said: “Not so fast.”

On Wednesday, with Team Canada already training in Halifax and one day WomenHockeybefore nine other teams were to begin arriving for their quarantine sessions, the Nova Scotian government chose to inform the IIHF and Hockey Canada that the tournament was off.

In a statement, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO, said: “While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority.”

René Fasel, the IIHF president, said: “This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin. We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, which, according to CBC News, is “the highest daily total since November 24 when 37 cases were diagnosed. It pushes the province’s seven-day average to 10, which is the first time it has been in double digits since early December.”

On April 15, Nova Scotia had 42 active cases; on Wednesday, it announced that it now had 79.

In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin admitted to being “very concerned” about the rising number.

“We are seeing early signs of community spread and we must strictly follow all public health protocols to get back on track, especially in the greater Halifax region,” Rankin said.

CBC News reported that “19 of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes the Halifax area. Four cases are related to travel outside the region.”

Canada’s Atlantic provinces have done better than the rest of the country — the far north excluded — at keeping COVID-19 at bay and one of the major weapons has been travel restrictions. So with the numbers threatening to keep going up, the province chose the health of its citizens over playing host to an international tournament.

Really, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

The IIHF and Hockey Canada are still hopeful of holding the tournament at some point during the summer. There also were reports later Wednesday that the Dallas Stars and USA Hockey are exploring the possibility of playing it in Texas, perhaps in Frisco and Plano, where the U18 IIHF World championship is to open on Monday.

But, at least for now, the Women’s world championship has been scrubbed for a second straight year. The tournament also was to have been held in Halifax and Truro a year ago.


Hotel


The WHL announced a number of schedule changes on Wednesday, all of them WHL2necessitated by teams having missed games because of positive tests. . . . The end result is that without any more postponements a number of teams won’t play 24 games in this developmental season as was originally hoped. . . . Two of the teams that have experienced positive tests, the Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets, will play 21 and 16 games respectively. . . . The Hitmen, by the way, have completed their 14-day isolation period and have been cleared to resume team activities. They now are scheduled to return to game action on Friday afternoon against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The WHL’s news release on the schedule changes is right here. . . .

——

Meanwhile, there were three WHL games played on Wednesday and PP goals were the hot item. All told, the six teams involved struck for 26 goals, with 13 of them coming with the man advantage. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored twice to help the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-2 victory Brandonover the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Wheat Kings (16-3-2), who have won five straight, now hold a three-point lead over the idle Saskatoon Blades (14-3-3) and the Winnipeg Ice (15-5-1), which beat the Moose Jaw Warriors last night, atop the Regina hub standings. . . . The Broncos (4-16-1) have lost two in a row. . . . F Lynden McCallum (13) gave Brandon a 1-0 first-period lead, with Ritchie, who has 10 goals, making it 2-0 at 14:49 of the second. . . . D Mat Ward (5) scored for the Broncos, on a PP, at 16:39. . . . Ritchie got that one back at 17:33 and D Rylan Thiessen (1) added another at 19:04. . . . F Brett Hyland (3) and D Vince Iorio (5) added PP goals for Brandon in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-for-6. . . . Brandon held a 33-18 edge in shots. . . .

F Jakin Smallwood opened and closed the scoring as the Winnipeg Ice got past Winnipegthe Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5 in OT, in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (15-5-1) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Warriors are 8-11-2. . . . F Cade Hayes (4) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead with a PP goal at 14:38 of the third period. . . . F Peyton Krebs (13), who now has points in 20 straight games, tied the game at 18:48 with G Carl Stankowski on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Smallwood, who had opened the scoring at 1:08 of the first period, won it with his 13th goal at 1:46 of OT. . . . The Ice erased deficits of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 to win this one. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 2-for-3. . . . Krebs finished with two goals. After being blanked in his first game, he’s got 13 goals and 26 assists in his 20-game streak. Last season, he scored 12 times in 38 games. . . . The Ice also got two goals from F Skyler Bruce. He has three on the season. . . . Hayes finished with two goals and an assist. . . .

F Justin Sourdif and D Alex Kannok Leipert each scored once and added two Vancouverassists to help the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 lead over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . The Giants (9-3-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Royals (1-10-1) have lost seven straight. . . . The game’s first five goals came via the PP. . . . F Brayden Tracey (8) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period. . . . Kannok Leipert (4) tied it at 15:32. . . . Victoria went back out front on a goal by F Tarun Fizer (3) at 2:58 of the second period. . . . The Giants took control with the next three goals — from F Eric Florchuk (4), at 14:58, Sourdif (5), at 16:21, and F Zack Ostapchuk (4), at 3:18 of the third. . . . F Ty Yoder (3) got Victoria to within a goal at 4:57, but F Justin Lies (2) restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead at 13:47. . . . The Giants finished 3-for-9 on the PP; the Royals were 2-for-5. . . . Vancouver had a 38-20 edge in shots, including 11-5 in the first period and 12-5 in the second.


Masks


The CFL said Wednesday that it hopes to open its 2021 season on Aug. 5, which CFLwould be almost two months later than the June 10 opening date at which it once was aiming. . . . The plan is to open training camps in late June, have each team play 14 games, down from the normal 18, and hold the Grey Cup game in Hamilton on Dec. 12 instead of Nov. 21. . . . Here’s Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner: “We will play CFL football in 2021.” . . . He then admitted that it all hinges on getting approval from public health officials in various jurisdictions and getting the OK from government and health officials to have “a significant number of fans in the stands, in a significant number of venues at the start of the season, and in the rest of our venues soon after that, so a 2021 season is financially tenable for our clubs.” . . . In the end, like so many other things, the CFL will go ahead if the virus allows it. . . . In the meantime, get vaccinated so that we can get all sports back and with fans in the stands. . . .

In Regina, Jeremy O’Day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager, informed players that the reporting date is July 2, followed by a seven-day quarantine period. Training camp is set to open on July 10. . . . O’Day also had this message for players: “We know these have been challenging times. One major way to help us with our return to play and getting fans in the stands is by getting vaccinated. Our medical professionals are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and are critical to getting our team back on the field. If you would like to speak to one of the Roughrider doctors about the vaccine, please let me know and we will arrange that.” . . . Justin Dunk of 3Down Nation has more right here.


The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was to have opened its 2021 season on June 5. It announced on Wednesday that it has moved opening day of its 14-game season to June 24. Under normal circumstances, teams each would play 20 games. . . . The CEBL spent its 2020 season in a bubble in St. Catharines, Ont., but says it won’t be playing in that environment this 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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats unveiled their player card sets on Wednesday morning and sold out the first printing — 500 sets — in fewer than three hours. It wasn’t long before there was a Connor Bedard card available on eBay for $100, and a complete set — including “Connor Bedard Official WHL Rookie Card” — for $149.95 or best offer. . . . The AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs, who are to being their first season in the fall, have added Brady Bakke to their coaching staff. He spent two seasons (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the U18 AAA St. Albert Raiders, and then two seasons as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Bakke, 27, is from Red Deer.


Earth

No WHL playoffs for second straight year . . . Desjardins No. 1 in Tigerland . . . Krebs runs point streak to 19 games

For a second straight year, COVID-19’s presence has kiboshed the WHL playoffs.

The league announced Monday afternoon that its season will end when its 22 WHL2teams conclude the developmental schedule that they now are playing.

From a news release: “Due to current public health conditions and the ongoing challenges with COVID-19, including restrictions on travel across both provincial and international borders, the WHL is not in a position to conduct the 2021 WHL playoffs.”

If the WHL chooses not to extend its schedule in order to get all teams to 24 games, the season will end after games of May 12.

The Kelowna Rockets, who returned to play Saturday after having been shut down due to positive tests, have a schedule right now that has them finishing with 15 games.

According to the online schedule, the Calgary Hitmen, who last played on April 5 and are on hold because of a positive test, have four games remaining, with the first of those to be played on April 30 and the last on May 5. That would leave them with 18 games.

The Tri-City Americans managed to play 12 games before a positive test sidelined them late last week. So far, they have had three games postponed through Wednesday. The schedule has them with nine games remaining, but their team activities are on hold pending further test results.

You have to wonder just how much hunger there has been within the WHL to extend its season with any form of playoff setup. With Kelowna, Calgary and Tri-City having been impacted by positive tests, and with the Medicine Hat Tigers having missed games after being deemed close contacts of the Hitmen, it might be that the WHL has decided it’s simply time for everyone to go home. After all, some of the players and others closely associated with teams have been hunkered down for well over a month.

The CHL, the umbrella organization that oversees the WHL, OHL and QMJHL, announced last week that the Memorial Cup tournament won’t be played for a second straight year. The QMJHL is going ahead with a playoff schedule that is to begin tonight (Tuesday), whole the OHL hasn’t been able to play so much as one game in 2020-21 and, in fact, is likely to announce one of these days that it has cancelled its season.

——

The Medicine Hat Tigers beat visiting Red Deer, 3-2, to sweep a three-game Tigersweekend series. . . . The Tigers (12-3-1) had won 4-2 at home on Friday and 5-2 in Red Deer on Saturday. . . . The Rebels (2-15-2) have lost 12 in a row. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (8) gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 12:58 of the first period, only to have F Dallon Melin (2) tie it at 15:02. . . . The Tigers took control on goals from D Rhett Parsons, his first in the WHL, at 12:36 of the second period and F Oren Shtrom (4), at 9:28 of the third. . . . Parson was a fifth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . F Chris Douglas (5) got the Rebels to within a goal at 19:37. . . . F Corson Hopwo of the Tigers had one assist, but had his eight-game goal streak snapped. . . . The Tigers were 1-for-1 on the PP. In 16 games, they are 28-for-61 (45.9), by far the best in the WHL. The Winnipeg Ice is second at 33 per cent (30-for-91). . . . The victory was No. 376 for GM/head coach Willie Desjardins behind the Tigers’ bench. That is one more than Shaun Clouston put up during his run with the Tigers. Clouston and the Tigers parted company in May 2019 — he now is the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers — and Desjardins replaced him. Desjardins had left the Tigers after the 2009-10 season and Clouston, who had been on the coaching staff for seven seasons, took over from him. . . . All told, Desjardins has 386 regular-season WHL coaching victories. He took over as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades during the 1997-98 season and picked up 10 victories there. . . .

F Peyton Krebs ran his point streak to 19 games as the Winnipeg Ice dumped the WinnipegSwift Current Broncos, 5-2, in Regina. . . . Krebs had a goal, his 11th, and an assist for the Ice, which erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three second-period goals. . . . Krebs, the first pick in the 2016 bantam draft, leads the Regina hub in assists (26) and points (37). He was shut out in his first game of this season and has at least a point in every game since then. . . . F Zach Benson added two goals for the Ice. The 14th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft has eight goals and nine assists in 20 games. . . . Winnipeg also got a goal and two assists from F Michael Milne (4). . . . Broncos G Isaac Poulter stopped 40 shots, 34 more than the Ice’s Gage Alexander. . . . Winnipeg (14-5-1) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Broncos are 4-15-1. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors erased a 1-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to MooseJawa 5-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . The Warriors (8-11-1) snapped a four-game losing skid. . . . The Raiders are 7-10-3. . . . F Evan Herman (7) put the Raiders out front at 1:20 of the first period. . . . The Warriors tied it on goals from F Riley Krane (3), at 12:55 of the first, and F Jagger Firkus (5), on a PP, at 6:52 of the second. . . . F Josh Hoekstra (2), F Eric Alarie (10) and F Brayden Yager (7) stretched the lead to 5-2 before F Reece Fitelli (5) scored for Prince Albert, on a PP, at 19:17 of the third. . . . Yager, the third overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, has 14 points in 20 games. . . . Moose Jaw got 29 saves from G Brett Mirwald. . . .

F Adam Hall’s third-period goal and 33 saves from G Trent Miner gave the VancouverVancouver Giants a 2-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (8-3-0) has won three straight and now leads the B.C. Division by two points ahead of the idle Kamloops Blazers (7-2-0). . . . The Cougars (4-5-2) have lost two in a row. . . . F Eric Florchuk (3) gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 17:44 of the first period. . . . F Riley Heidt (2) tied the game at 1:56 of the third. . . . The Cougars got 27 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . Miner, the game’s first star, is 8-2-0, 1.18, .952 this season. . . .

In Kelowna, the Rockets dumped the Victoria Royals, 7-2. . . . The Rockets (3-1-Rockets0) were the visiting team for this one. . . . The Royals (1-9-1) have lost six in a row. . . . Kelowna has played two games since being off for 18 days due to positive tests and has scored seven goals in each one. The Rockets are scheduled to play their third game in four nights tonight against the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Last night, the Rockets took control by snapping a 1-1 first-period tie with four straight goals. . . . F Trevor Wong (5), who had four goals in a 7-5 victory over the Prince George Cougars on Saturday in Kamloops, gave Kelowna a 2-1 lead at 12:25 of the first period. . . . F Mark Liwiski (2), F Dylan Wightman and F Andrew Cristall (2) stretched the lead to 4-1 before the second period was 12 minutes old. . . . Liwiski and Wightman, who also had an assist, each scored twice. F David Kope, 20, an eighth-round pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 bantam draft, had a goal and two assists in his fourth game with Kelowna.


Sharks


The Minnesota Twins, who had three games postponed due to COVID-19 testing Twinsand contact tracing, are scheduled to play the host Oakland A’s in a doubleheader today (Tuesday). . . . The Twins haven’t played since losing 10-3 to the host Los Angeles Angels on Friday night. They were to have played in Oakland on Monday, but that game was postponed, thus today’s doubleheader. . . . SS Andrelton Simmons tested positive last week and didn’t accompany the Twins when they headed west. OF Kyle Garlick also has tested positive, as has one other unidentified player and a staff member.


Eyelash


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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Rubberband

$catter$hooting on a $unday night while wondering why the NHL didn’t $crub the re$t of the Canuck$’ $ea$on . . .

Scattershooting2

It’s hard to restrain the enthusiasm for the Vancouver Canucks after watching Canuckstheir 3-2 OT victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night. . . . But based on that one game Travis Green should be the favourite for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year. . . . Oh, and maybe the Canucks’ ownership might see fit to sign him to a contact before he chooses free agency after this season. . . . If you aren’t aware, Green was one of the 20-plus folks in the Canucks organization who tested positive for COVID-19 — and that doesn’t include numerous family members. Green also was quite ill. . . . If you are wondering what he went through, Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has that story right here.

Full marks to Canucks G Braden Holtby for his performance on Sunday. He was solid all night, but it was his early play that allowed the Canucks to get their legs underneath them and gave them time to come to the realization that, yes, they could still play this game at a high level. . . . Kudos, too, to D Tyler Myers. His season to date has been so-so, but he was a minute-eater in this one, especially after D Alex Edler was tossed with a kneeing major. Myers also made a terrific play to get F Bo Horvat started towards the play that resulted in the game-winner. . . . It’s the Canucks and Maple Leafs from Vancouver again on Tuesday night. It should be just as interesting as was Sunday’s game. . . . Vancouver assistant coach Newell Brown was missing on Sunday because of COVID-19.


Dorothy . . . Kamloops Kidney Walk . . . June 6, virtually . . . Join her team with a donation right here. You’ll be glad you did!



Old friend Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times dug up this nugget — “Stumpycricket blogger Jack Mendel, to News.com.au, on cricket officials wanting to change the term ‘wickets’ to ‘outs’ to attract new fans: ‘Utterly, utterly nonsensical semantic bollocks . . . It almost feels like they are trying to de-cricket cricket.’ ”

It could be said that’s what MLB is trying to do by allowing each team to start extra innings with a runner on second base — trying to de-baseball baseball.


A statue of the late Fred Sasakamoose, the first hockey player with treaty status to play in the NHL, is being commissioned and is likely to be placed near the entrance to Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre. . . . COVID-19 claimed Sasakamoose in hospital on Nov. 24. . . . His story — Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treaty Indigenous Player — is to be released to book stores on May 18.


Fraser Downs, a harness racing track in Cloverdale, B.C., closed its door after Friday night’s races. According to Harness Racing BC, it simply couldn’t make ends meet without receiving money from the casino that it isn’t allowed to operate in these pandemic times. The closure put 135 people out of work.


——

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle attended an Oakland A’s home game the other night. Afterwards, he wrote: At the A’s ballpark, I interviewed one of those cardboard fans, the only one that was not smiling. Said the fan, “I wasn’t cut out for this.”


Apple


The Minnesota Twins had Saturday and Sunday games against the host Los Angeles Angels postponed because of positive tests, and now their Monday series-opener in Oakland against the A’s also has been postponed. The reason? MLB says it’s “to allow for continued testing and contact tracing involving members of the Twins organization.” The Twins have had at least three players and one staffer test positive.

——

A quick note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons declined a COVID-19 vaccine last week, and Wednesday tested positive. Another reminder there is no correlation between athletic ability and intelligence.”



Seattle University informed students this week that it now has a requirement that “all SU students —undergraduate, graduate and professional — be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and report it to the university prior to arriving on campus in the fall. Additional details will be provided in the coming weeks, but students will be required to register their vaccination status once completed.”


The pitching mound in the six-team independent Atlantic League will be moved back one foot, to 61 feet, six inches, for the second half of the season. It’s an experiment being conducted at the behest of MLB, which badly wants to see fewer strikeouts and more balls in play.

Here’s former starting pitcher Mike Krukow, now a broadcaster with the San Francisco Giants in conversation with Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I’m really not sure what to think about it. Nobody does — you can’t know until you try it. This could have a big effect on breaking pitches, which are the hardest to command. Just in general, though, the players’ union could prevent all this with a widespread emphasis on situational hitting — using the whole field, a style that worked so well for years and really keeps the fans interested. Now we have to change the rules because players can’t make the adjustment? To me, that’s insulting.”

He’s right.

The complete column is right here.


If MLB really wanted fewer strikeouts and more balls in play, it could start by putting the New York Yankees’ season on hold. If you haven’t noticed, the Yankees can’t hit and can’t catch the ball. Manager Aaron Boone is lucky that George Steinbrenner no longer is with us, because he would have brought back Billy Martin by now. Yes, I know that Martin no longer is with us. The Boss still would have made the change.


D Bill Mikkelson of the 1974-75 Washington Capitals finished at minus-82, the worst plus-minus in NHL history, on a team that wound up 8-67-5. As he told TSN: “We had a good team. We were just in the wrong league.”


The QMJHL’s regular season is over, with playoffs of some sort set to begin on qmjhlnewTuesday. . . . The 18 teams in the league played between 27 and 43 games. . . . The Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs, the league’s three New Brunswick-based teams, open a nine-game round-robin tournament on Tuesday. There aren’t any playoffs for the other Maritimes teams because of travel restrictions. . . . The round-robin is scheduled to end on May 2, with the winner meeting the Charlottetown Islanders in the Maritimes Division final. The Islanders finished with the QMJHL’s best record (35-5-0). . . . The Maritimes winner and three Quebec-based teams that emerge from their series will meet in a bubble event to decide the championship.


Wolves


In the WHL on Sunday . . .

D Braden Schneider came out of the penalty box to score the winner in OT as the BrandonBrandon Wheat Kings got past the Winnipeg Ice, 5-4, in Regina. . . . F Peyton Krebs (10) had given the Ice a 4-3 lead, on a PP, at 15:23 of the third period. . . . F Ridly Greig, who was in the penalty box when Krebs scored, tied it at 18:34. . . . Schneider took a headshot minor at 19:49 of the third period, then scored the winner, his fourth goal this season, at 1:56 of OT. . . . F Nolan Ritchie (8) and F Marcus Sekundiak (2) scored first-period goals for Brandon, with F Jakin Smallwood (11) counting for Winnipeg at 19:35. . . . F Owen Pederson (11) got the Ice into a tie at 4:08 of the second. . . . D Neithan Salame (3) put the Wheat Kings back out front at 13:31. . . . Ice F Connor McClennon tied it at 8:16 of third period with his 13th goal. He also had two assists as he ran his point streak to 12 games. He has nine goals and 11 assists over that stretch. . . . Brandon (15-3-2) has won four in a row; it went 4-0-0 against Winnipeg in this shortened season. . . . The Ice now is 13-5-1. . . . Winnipeg was 3-for-8 on the PP; Brandon was 1-for-4. . . . F Ben McCartney drew four assists for the Wheaties. . . . Krebs added three assists to his goal and now is on an 18-game point streak. He was blanked in the season’s first game and now leads the Regina hub with 35 points, 25 of them assists. . . .

F Drew Englot’s first goal of the season broke a 3-3 tie as the Regina Pats beat Patsthe Prince Albert Raiders, 4-3. The game was played in the Regina hub, but the Pats were the visiting team. . . . Englot scored his first goal, on the PP, in 19 games at 17:59 of the second period. . . . The Pats (7-9-3) had lost three in a row. . . . The Raiders (7-9-3) had been 3-0-1 in their past four outings. . . . F Cole Dubinsky and F Carter Chorney (3) gave Regina a 2-0 lead before F Tyson Laventure got the Raiders on the board at 9:03 of the second period. . . . Dubinsky (4) upped Regina’s lead to 3-1 just 48 seconds later. . . . Laventure scored his fourth goal of the season at 14:28 and D Tre Fouquette (1) tied it at 15:50. . . . Laventure has four goals and three assists this season, all against the Pats. . . . Fouquette, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, also added an assist in just his second WHL game. . . . The Raiders lost F Justin Nachbaur in the first period with a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on F Braxton Whitehead. . . .

The host Everett Silvertips scored three third-period goals as they skated to a Everett6-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Ethan Regnier completed his first WHL three-goal game at 15:33 of the third period. He’s got six goals. . . . Regnier and F Jalen Price (1) gave Everett a 2-0 lead with second-period goals. . . . Everett F Brendan Hunchak, who turned 18 on April 10, earned the primary assist on Price’s goal for his first career point in his eighth game. He is the son of former WHL coach Dave Hunchak. . . . F Seth Jarvis (7) got Portland on the board at 11:42 of the second, but Regnier got that one back at 16:23. . . . D Ryan McCleary (2) pulled the Winterhawks to within one at 19:36. . . . The Silvertips put it away with third-period scores from F Hunter Campbell (5), F Ryan Hofer (3) and Regnier. . . . G Dustin Wolf earned the victory with 37 stops. . . . Everett is 11-3-0 after its second straight win. . . . Portland (6-5-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). . . .

G Trent Miner stopped 27 shots and F Tristen Nielsen scored three times as the VancouverVancouver Giants beat the host Kamloops Blazers, 4-0. . . . Miner leads the WHL with four shutouts. He blocked 30 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Blazers on April 5. . . . The Giants (7-3-0) have put up five shutouts in their 10 games. . . . Nielsen enjoyed his second natural hat-trick of the season as he gave the Giants a 4-0 lead with the game’s last three goals. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (3) got the game’s first goal at 3:34 of the first period. . . . Nielsen, who has 11 goals in 10 games, scored at 11:01 of the first period and 9:20 and 18:07 of the second. . . . The Blazers (7-2-0) had won their previous three games. . . .

F Carter Souch scored twice and added an assist to help the Edmonton Oil Kings Edmontonto a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Souch, who has four goals, opened the scoring at 9:23 of the first period. . . . F Josh Williams (9) made it 2-0 at 17:24. . . . F Dino Kambeitz, who had sat out the Hurricanes’ last two games, scored his fourth goal 40 seconds into the second period. . . . The Oil Kings came back with goals from F Caleb Reimer (2) and Souch at 1:44 and 2:15 for a 4-1 lead. . . . F Carson Latimer (5), who also had two assists, had Edmonton’s other goal, while F Logan Barlage (5) and F Noah Boyko (9) finished Lethbridge’s scoring. . . . Edmonton F Jake Neighbours ran his point streak to 15 games with one assist. He’s got 26 points, 20 of them assists, during his tear. . . . The Oil Kings now are 14-1-1. . . . The Hurricanes are 7-8-2. . . . On Saturday, Lethbridge went into Edmonton and won 6-5 in a shootout after losing 4-0 to the visiting Oil Kings on Thursday.


Manitoba


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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Editor

Canucks’ sked remains unsettled . . . BCHL’s Clippers put on hold . . . Shutouts gone wild in WHL


One day after F J.T. Miller said he and his Vancouver Canucks teammates needed more time to recover from a COVID-19 outbreak before returning to game Canucksaction, the NHL scrubbed at least one of their upcoming games.

The Canucks, who haven’t played since March 24, have been in the middle of the outbreak since March 30.

They were scheduled to play host to the Edmonton Oilers tonight (Friday) and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The NHL acted Thursday to postpone the game against Edmonton, and more changes could be announced today.

Including tonight’s game, the Canucks have had nine games postponed.

The Canucks had at least 21 players test positive, along with four members of the coaching staff, including head coach Travis Green. After once having 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, only three players were there on Thursday — F Nils Hoglander, D Nate Schmidt and F Jake Virtanen.

On Wednesday evening, the Canucks had indicated that their Thursday morning practice — the first since March 31 — would be open to the media. However, Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) tweeted on Thursday at 9:08 a.m., saying that “today’s practice, originally scheduled open to media, is now a closed practice.”

Miller, who was able to escape the virus, had said on Wednesday that “it’s kind of frustrating if I’m being 100 per cent honest with you. We try to talk about the No. 1 priority is the players’ health and the families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to achieve that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return.”


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers stopped all team activities on Thursday “to allow Nanaimofor further analysis of a potential positive COVID-19 test result,” the league announced. . . . All team members, who have been tested once a week since the BCHL returned with a pod-type season, went into isolation until results are confirmed one way or the other. . . . The league said it would “provide an update once further analysis has been completed.” There wasn’t an update as of Thursday at 10 p.m. PT. . . . The Clippers were to have played the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last night, but that game was postponed. . . . The Clippers, Bulldogs, Victoria Grizzlies and Cowichan Valley Capitals have been playing in Alberni Valley under the cohort format. . . . Victoria and Cowichan Valley are scheduled to play tonight, with Nanaimo and Victoria on tap for a Saturday afternoon game, followed by the Capitals and Bulldogs that night.


Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, held a news conference on Thursday morning.

Among other things, she indicated that the OHL won’t be starting up anytime soon.

With COVID-19 and variant numbers on the rise in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, she said: “The ground has shifted significantly. . . . We will not be putting young athletes at risk.”

There is a whole lot more right here from Queen’s Park Briefing.


Radio-Canada reported Thursday morning that the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for June 13 in Montreal. According to Radio-Canada, “Montreal public health authorities concluded that even behind closed doors without spectators, the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the Formula One event is too high.”


Boxes


Shutouts were the order of the night in the WHL on Thursday, with three goaltenders in the spotlight . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart scored three times to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 4-1 Bladesvictory over the Pats in the Regina hub. . . . Rhinehart, who went into the game with one goal, came out of it with his first career hat-trick. Interestingly, Regina’s lone goal went in off one of Rhinehart’s skates. It was credited to F Logan Nijhoff. . . . The last Saskatoon defenceman with three goals in one regular-season game? Ryan Flaherty (@RFlahertyGlobal) tweeted that Darren Dietz had four goals in a 7-3 victory over Swift Current on Feb. 17, 2012. . . . Rhinehart scored his first two goals at 8:07 and 11:41 of the first period. . . . Nijhoff counted his ninth goal at 3:08 of the second, but Rhinehart got that one back at 18:23. . . . Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (8) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon had a 35-21 edge in shots, including 16-3 in the third period. . . . The Blades (14-2-2) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Pats, who are 0-3 since F Connor Bedard left to join Canada’s U18 team, are 6-9-3. . . . The Pats were without F Zack Smith, who absorbed a headshot from D Landon Kosior of the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday. Kosior has been suspended for three games. . . .

G Max Paddock turned aside 45 shots to earn the shutout as the Prince Albert RaidersRaiders beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 2-0. . . . The Warriors (7-10-1), who have lost three in a row, outshot the Raiders, 45-25, including 21-8 in the second period. . . . The Raiders now are 7-8-3, with points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . This was Paddock’s first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. . . . Prince Albert’s goals came from F Michael Horon (4), at 17:41 of the first period, and F Eric Pearce (7), at 16:37 of the second. . . .

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 30 shots to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-0 Edmontonvictory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The 6-foot-6 Cossa now has won 12 straight games. He has two shutouts this season and six for his career. This season, he is 12-0-0, 1.33, .948. Yes, he is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored the only goal Cossa would need, at 16:55 of the first period. . . . F Jayden Henderson (1), F Jalen Luypen (11) and D Matthew Robertson (3) added third-period goals. . . . The Oil Kings (13-1-0) have won four in a row. . . . Lethbridge (6-7-2) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). . . . Edmonton was 3-for-9 on the PP. . . .

G Drew Sim earned his first career shutout as the Vancouver Giants dumped the VancouverVictoria Royals, 4-0, in Kamloops. . . . Sim, who is 2-1-0, was making his fourth appearance of the season. . . . Vancouver had a 40-16 edge in shots, including 14-5 in the second period and 17-5 in the third. . . . The Giants are 6-3-0 and have posted shutouts in four of those victories. . . . The Royals (1-7-1) have lost four in a row. . . . Vancouver was 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4), D Alex Kannok Leipert (3) and D Mazden Leslie (5) had second-period goals, with F Tristen Nielsen (8) scoring in the third. . . . Leslie, who turned 16 on Thursday, scored his fifth goal in eight games for the Giants. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft.


Mower


F Payton Mount of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who was taken to hospital on a Seattlestretcher after a Tuesday night game against the visiting Tri-City Americans, was back with his billets on Wednesday morning. . . . According to the Thunderbirds, “All of Mount’s diagnostic tests at the hospital showed positive results and he was diagnosed with a contusion from the impact of the puck.” . . . Mount was seated on the Seattle bench near game’s end when he was struck on the neck by a puck that glanced off the back wall. . . . The Thunderbirds are next scheduled to play tonight against the visiting Everett Silvertips.


G Braden Holt of the Everett Silvertips will play for Team USA at the U18 IIHF EverettWorld championship that opens April 26 in Frisco and Plano, Texas. Holt is the only player on Team USA’s roster who isn’t out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. . . . Holt, 17, is from Bozeman, Mont. The Silvertips selected him in the 12th round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Holt is 1-1-0, 2.75, .862. Last season, in eight games backing up Dustin Wolf, Holt was 4-2-0, 1.82, .926. . . . With Holt gone, the Silvertips are left with Wolf and Evan May, a 16-year-old from Nanaimo, as their goaltenders. An 11th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, May has yet to appear in a WHL game.


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation 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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


West