WHL’s Final Four all set . . . Thunderbirds complete comeback, oust Winterhawks . . . Kamloops next up for Seattle

Dan Russell, the longtime host of the Vancouver-based radio show Sportstalk, has written a book. Oh, has he! . . . While it’s the story of his life and career to this point, Russell doesn’t pull any punches. There are lots of anecdotes and a ton(ne) of behind-the-scenes stories. . . . You are able to purchase Kindle and soft-cover editions at Amazon and a hard-cover edition is on the way. . . . Full disclosure — I may have provided Russell with a helping editing hand, an ear and, at times, a shoulder. Despite all that, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in Russell’s story.


Router


And then there were four . . .

WHLplayoffs2022The WHL’s 2022-23 playoffs are down to the Final Four — the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice and No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference, and the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers and the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Conference. . . . The Thunderbirds beat the Winterhawks, 6-3, in Portland on Tuesday night to win that series, 4-3. Seattle trailed, 3-1, only a few days ago. . . .

So . . . the playoffs now take time off while the WHL holds a couple of its drafts. Game action is to resume on Friday with the opening games in both conference finals — the Oil Kings will be in Winnipeg and the Thunderbirds will spend some time in Kamloops.

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TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Portland, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds scored three second-period goals in a span of 2:11 and went on to beat the No. 3 Winterhawks, 6-3, in Game 7 of Seattletheir conference semifinal. . . . Seattle became the 16th team in WHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. . . . The Thunderbirds last appeared in a Western Conference final in 2017 when they went on to win the franchise’s first league championship. . . . They will open the conference final with games against the No. 2 Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Kent, Wash., on May 24 and 25. If necessary, they’ll play in Kamloops on May 27, in Kent on May 29 and in Kamloops, again, on May 31. . . . Last night, F Nico Myatovic (2) got Seattle started with a shorthanded goal at 19:05 of the first period. . . . The Thunderbirds really took control early in the second period with those quick goals. D Jeremy Hanzel scored his first two playoff goals at 5:48 and 7:20, and F Lucas Ciona (6) made it 4-0 at 7:59. . . . The Winterhawks halved the deficit with a pair of PP goals — F Jaydon Dureau (1) struck at 10:03 and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (3) at 19:09. . . . Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (7) pretty much iced it when he upped the lead to 5-1 at 11:51 of the third period. . . . Portland brought G Taylor Gauthier to the bench as it went on the PP with 5:22 left in the third period and it paid off as Fromm-Delorme (4) scored at 15:50. . . . Seattle F Reid Schaefer (5) iced it for good with an empty-netter at 17:22. . . . G Thomas Milic, who was especially solid over the final three games, stopped 33 shots in this one, nine more than Gauthier. . . . Portland was 3-for-6 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . .

The last time a WHL team erased a 3-1 deficit to win a series? It happened twice in the spring of 2017 — and remember that there weren’t any playoffs in 2020 or 2021. Anyway, in 2017, the Lethbridge Hurricanes beat the Red Deer Rebels, who had led 3-1, in a first-round series, and, in an Eastern Conference semifinal, the Regina Pats got past the Swift Current Broncos after trailing 3-1. . . . That same Pats squad went on to lose to the Thunderbirds in the championship final. . . .

Kamloops and Seattle met three times earlier this season, with the Blazers winning twice. . . . They faced off twice in November in Seattle, with Kamloops winning, 5-1, on the 20th and, 4-1, on the 24th. . . . They played in Kamloops on Dec. 10, with the Thunderbirds winning, 6-1.



Chris Branch, writing The Athletic Pulse for Tuesday, sums up the biggest story going into the weekend’s PGA Championship:

Terror reigns in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. Fans at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday, will have to pay the following prices for beer:

Michelob Ultra: $18

Stella Artois: $19

People are understandably flabbergasted. We are used to paying more on gameday as sports fans, but this feels like too much. . . . Who’s paying $19 for a Stella anywhere?

Sadly — and as a cheap-beer lover, I don’t say this lightly — the beers are simply suffering from a branding problem. Nowhere on the menu does it say how many ounces are in that beer — they’re 25-ounce brews. Still expensive at about $9 for a 12-ounce beer, but not the rip-off you think it is. Just a little more expensive than the average beer price at NFL stadiums.

The $16 chicken caesar salad, though? That’s a bridge too far.


Bill and Denise Burke, the owners of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, announced on OHLTuesday that they have sold the franchise to Darren DeDobbelaer, a businessman from Brantford, Ont. . . . The transaction awaits the stamp of approval from the OHL’s board of governors. . . . DeDobbelaer owns the junior A Brantford 99ers and the junior B Brantford Bandits. . . . The Burkes had owned the franchise for 15 years. . . . The Burkes purchased the Mississauga IceDogs and moved the franchise to St. Catharines where it has operated as the Niagara IceDogs. . . . From Luke Edwards of the St. Catharines Standard: “While the team had made an impact and was visible throughout Niagara, the franchise also experienced some turbulent waters earlier this year. Billy and Joey Burke, the team’s head coach and general manager, respectively, were given two-year suspensions after the league learned about a group chat where the pair made comments that violated the league’s harassment and abuse/diversity policy. The pair are also part-owners of the team. . . .”


Needs


COVIDFrom the New York Daily News: Eric Clapton, who has railed against lockdowns and vaccines, has tested positive for COVID-19. The 77-year-old English singer has canceled two upcoming concerts, Tuesday in Zurich and Wednesday in Milan, after being diagnosed, his team announced Monday.

From The New York Times: Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ryan Ward is the new head coach of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms. He had been the director of player development with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Ward replaces Brad Patterson, who had been with the Phantoms since 2009-10, the franchise’s inaugural season, and had been head coach since 2016-17. . . .

If you have interest in being a junior hockey play-by-play voice, you should know that two BCHL teams — the Merritt Centennials and Salmon Arm Silverbacks — are looking for new radio voices. . . .

In the BCHL last night, the visiting Penticton Vees got a goal from F Stefano Bottini (3) at 2:55 of OT to beat the Nanaimo Clippers, 3-2. . . . The announced attendance was 2,332. . . . The Vees lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for tonight in Nanaimo.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

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.


Waste

Jets’ first-rounder could end up in Portland . . . Three WHL teams live to play another game . . . Winterhawks finish off Cougars


In a move that could have implications in the WHL, the Winnipeg Jets have signed F Chaz Lucius to a three-year entry-level contract that is to begin next WHLseason. . . . Lucius, who turns 19 on May 2, is from Lawrence, Kan. This season, as a freshman, he had nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games with the NCAA’s Minnesota Golden Gophers. Before that, he played two seasons in the U.S. National Team Development Program. . . . The Jets selected him with the 18th overall pick of the NHL’s 2021 draft. The Portland Winterhawks grabbed his major junior rights in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Next season, assuming he doesn’t crack the Jets’ roster, Lucius will be eligible to play in the AHL, with the Manitoba Moose, or the Winterhawks. . . . Eric Vegoe, a freelance writer who follows the Gophers, tweeted: “I’d be absolutely shocked if Lucius went to the AHL. He’d be a phenomenal fit in Portland and be one of the league’s top scorers for a franchise that knows what (it’s) doing with prospects.” . . . Lucius’s brother, Cruz, 18, has committed to playing at Minnesota next season after spending the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He was selected by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. With his brother no longer at Minnesota, you wonder if the younger Lucius might be rethinking his immediate future, too?



WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

There were six playoff games with four of the teams staring elimination squarely in the face. Three of those teams lived to fight another day, with only the Prince George Cougars having their season come to an end. . . . You should know, too, that only two teams in WHL history have come back from trailing 3-0 to win a series. . . . In 1996, the Spokane Chiefs beat the Portland Winterhawks in Game 7 at home. . . . In 2013, the Kelowna Rockets did the same thing against the Seattle Thunderbirds, winning Game 7 at home. . . . In tonight’s only game, the Edmonton Oil Kings take a 3-0 lead into Lethbridge against the Hurricanes. . . . Here’s a brief look at what happened last night. . . .

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., the Everett Silvertips took a 2-1 series lead over the Vancouver EverettGiants with a 6-2 victory. . . . They’ll play again Friday in Langley, then head for Everett and Game 5 on Saturday. . . . Everett, which got two goals from each of Ryan Hofer (3), Niko Huuhtanen (5) and Matthew Ng (2), held period leads of 3-0 and 5-2. . . . Huuhtanen has nine points in the three games. . . . G Braden Holt stopped 32 shots to earn the win. . . . Vancouver G Jesper Vikman returned after missing Game 2 and blocked 18 shots. . . . Everett was without F Alex Swetlikoff, who was suspended for two games after taking a checking-from-behind major in Game 2 on Saturday. . . . Swetlikoff and F Jackson Berezowski, who is out with an undisclosed injury, were the Silvertips’ top two scorers in the regular season. . . . Vancouver F Tom Cadieux was tossed with an interference major at 12:50 of the third period. Then, at 19:00, F Matthew Edwards of the Giants left after taking a headshot major. . . . The Silvertips had Vancouver’s own Dave Sheldon handle the play-by-play “with Casey Bryant unavailable to travel.” Sheldon was part of the Everett broadcast crew back in the day (2003-06). These days, Sheldon is the team operations manager for the NLL’s Vancouver Warriors. . . .

In Prince George, the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks scored two first-period goals Portlandand hung on for a 2-1 victory over the No. 6 Cougars. . . . The Winterhawks swept the series, 4-0, and now go home to await and as-yet undecided second-round opponent. . . . F James Stefan (2) put the visitors out front at 8:22 of the first period and F Luke Schelter (1) made it 2-0 at 11:51. . . . The Cougars got to within a goal when F Jonny Hooker (1) scored at 6:55 of the third period. . . . Portland’s took the game’s only three minor penalties, the last one to D Cross Hanas for delay of game at 18:59 of the third period. With G Tyler Brennan on the bench, the Cougars held a 6-on-4 advantage but weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 29 shots for Portland, including 12 in the third period. He finished the series 4-0, 1.00, .965. . . . Brennan turned aside 40 shots. He got into all four games, going 0-2, 1.86, .954. . . . The Cougars had to scratch F Riley Heidt as he served a one-game suspension for the kneeing major and game misconduct he took in Game 3 on Tuesday. . . .

In Kelowna, F Adam Kydd scored in OT to give the Rockets a 3-2 victory over the KelownaSeattle Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle holds a 3-1 lead as the series returns to Kent, Wash., for Game 5 on Friday night. . . . The Rockets erased a 2-0 second-period deficit to get the game into extra time. . . . F Lucas Ciona (3) scored both Seattle goals, at 19:41 of the first period and 3:16 of the second. . . . G Gabriel Szturc (1) got the Rockets to within a goal, on a PP, at 6:28 of the second and D Noah Dorey (1) tied it at 12:45 as he ended a 43-game goal drought. . . . Kydd won it with his second goal of the series, on a PP, at 15:55 of OT. . . . F Andrew Cristall drew the primary assist on each of Kelowna’s last two goals. . . . The Rockets got 36 saves from G Talyn Boyko, who had watched Game 3 from the bench. . . . Kelowna was 2-for-5 on the PP; Seattle, which went into the game 10-for-19, was 0-for-3. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who was suspended for two games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in Game 3 on Tuesday. . . . F Matthew Rempe (undisclosed) was among Seattle’s scratches. . . .

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Eastern Conference

In Prince Albert, G Tikhon Chaika stopped 25 shots to help the No. 8 Raiders to a PrinceAlbert3-1 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice now holds a 3-1 edge in the series, with Game 5 in Winnipeg on Friday night. . . . D Remy Aquilon (1), on a PP, at 1:53 of the second period, and D Eric Johnston (1), at 1:06 of the third, gave the home team a 2-0 lead. . . . Ice F Mikey Milne got his fourth of the series, on a PP, at 18:51, but F Sloan Stanick (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-3 on the PP and now is 9-for-18 in the series. The Raiders are 2-for-19. . . .

In Brandon, the No. 6 Wheat Kings scored the game’s last three goals to earn a Brandon3-1 victory over the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Red Deer on Friday. Then they’ll return to Brandon for Game 6 on Sunday. . . . F Jace Isley (2) gave the Rebels the lead at 7:44 of the first period. . . . F Trae Johnson (1) tied it at 13:01. . . . The Wheat Kings won it on two PP goals from F Marcus Kallionkieli, at 18:24 of the second period and 19:22 of the third. The second one was an empty-netter. . . . Kallionkieli, a Finn who turned 21 on March 20, also drew an assist on Johnson’s goal.

In Saskatoon, F Kyle Crnkovic scored twice to lead the No. 5 Blades to a 5-3 Saskatoonvictory over the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Moose Jaw leads the series 3-1 and can win it at home on Friday night. . . . The Blades actually coughed up 2-0 and 3-1 leads with Warriors F Ryder Korczak (2) getting his guys even, at 3-3, at 2:54 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon D Rhett Rhinehart (1) broke the tie at 8:37 and Crnkovic’s second goal of the game and series, an empty-netter, iced it at 19:31. . . . D Maximus Wanner (3) scored twice for Moose Jaw. . . . The Blades got 32 saves from G Nolan Maier.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Tri-City Americans have named D Marc Lajoie as the 33rd captain in franchise history. The Americans went without a captain this season as they didn’t qualify for the playoffs. Lajoie, the 14th pick in the 2018 WHL draft, has played three seasons with the Americans. . . .

Neil Pilon, who played 263 games over five seasons in the WHL, was named head coach of the Kamloops-based U-18 AAA Thompson Blazers on Wednesday. Pilon played with the Kamloops Junior Oilers, Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors and Seattle Thunderbirds (1983-88). . . . Pilon also is the greens superintendent at the Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club, which is located near Merritt, B.C. . . .

Eric Thurston, the general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder, is leaving after four seasons with the organization. In a news release, the Thunder said it “regrets to announce” that Thurston is leaving. . . . The news release didn’t indicate any reason for Thurston’s departure. . . . This season, the Thunder was 33-17-10, good for fourth in the North Division, before being swept from a first-round series by the Spruce Grove Saints. . . .

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “Brad Patterson is out as head coach of the (USHL’s) Youngstown Phantoms.” . . . Their season ended with first-round playoff loss on Tuesday night. . . . Patterson had been on the Phantoms’ coaching staff since 2009-10, and was the head coach since 2016-17. . . .

The OHL’s Peterborough Petes and general manager Michael Oke have agreed on a two-year contract that will take them through the 2023-24 season. Oke has been the Petes’ GM since Feb. 14, 2013. He joined the organization as the director of player personnel in July 2010.


Child


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


A note involving Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, from Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 32 Thoughts:

“During the second week of April, five Canadians lived atop five 40-foot flagpoles for 100 hours. The significance of that length is 100 years ago, Sir Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin to help manage diabetes. One of those five was Wilson Gaglardi, the 16-year-old son of Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi. To donate toward a cure, please go to canadacuresdiabetes.ca.


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.


Restaurant

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