The place to be tonight is Moose Jaw where the Warriors and Brandon Wheat Kings will play the final regular-season game in the history of the Civic Centre (aka the Crushed Can).
Mark MacKay, the Warriors captain in 1984-85 when he became the only 20-year-old player in WHL history to be named rookie of the year, will drop the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff.
Kelly McCrimmon, the owner, GM and head coach of the Wheat Kings, has more than his share of Crushed Can memories.
He shared this with Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun:
“The Bob Lowes era versus the Al Tuer era where for whatever reason we seemed to have their number over a five-, six-year period, they maybe beat us three or four times and yet we never, ever beat them easily. It was just that kind of a series that we had going.
“We’ve had good playoff rivalries with them. We had Theran Yeo get attacked by their crowd, we had Bill Aulie (the father of former Wheat Kings D Keith Aulie) in the middle of a melee. There’s lots of things that happened in Moose Jaw over the years. Bobby (Lowes) and I both got suspended there for running on the ice when we caught them cheating one night. There’s been lots of funny stories coming out of Moose Jaw.”
McCrimmon was honoured by the Brandon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. He was presented with its 2011 President’s Award as the city’s business person of the year.
McCrimmon, of course, was the person most responsible for the 2011 Memorial Cup having been held in Brandon, something that was a boon to the city’s economy and also put the area in the national spotlight for a few days.
Goaltender Lucas Gore of the Chilliwack Bruins is believed to have set two WHL records on Wednesday night.
Gore, who is from Kamloops, stopped 77 shots, 72 of them through three periods, in the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Chiefs in Spokane.
According to the Bruins, those will be held as WHL records — most saves through 60 minutes, most saves through 65 minutes — unless proven otherwise.
(The WHL record for most shots on goal in a game belongs to the Brandon Wheat Kings who, on March 12, 1979, rang up 85 shots in a 14-4 victory over the visiting Regina Pats.)
The Bruins have picked up at least one point each of their last 10 games (7-0-3) and has moved from ninth all the way up to fifth in the Western Conference.
Gore, 19, is the biggest reason for the climb up the standings. He has been nothing short of phenomenal over the last month.
Of course, his superb play couldn’t have come at a better time, what with the franchise surrounded by rumours and speculation regarding an impending sale and relocation to Victoria.
But what if the recent play of the Bruins, sparked by Gore’s play, excites the hockey fans of Chilliwack area and they show up in record numbers for how ever many playoff games their favourites play?
And what if improved attendance is enough to spark a movement that results in the Bruins staying put?
Could Gore then be credited with the greatest save in WHL history?
JUST NOTES: F Brendan Gallagher (concussion) has been cleared to return to action and is expected to be in the Vancouver Giants’ lineup tonight against the visiting Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Giants will be without D Darren Bestland, who has drawn a one-game suspension for having incurred his third instigating penalty. . . . The Saskatoon Blades will be without F Jake Trask (head) and F Ryan Olsen (upper body) when they meet the Pats in Regina tonight. Both players were injured in Wednedsay’s 3-2 shootout victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades have asked the WHL for supplemental discipline on Moose Jaw F Brett Lyon for what they feel was a high hit on Trask. . . . Lorne Molleken, the Blades’ GM/head coach, told Cory Wolfe of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that the hit on Trask was a “cheapshot” and compared it to the hit last season by Pittsburgh Penguins F Matt Cooke on Boston Bruins F Marc Savard. “The hit by Lyon on Trask was a vicious blow to the head,” Molleken told Wolfe. “It was a cheapshot.” . . . Lyon has been suspended pending a further decision by the WHL office. . . . The Blades have brought in F Brett Stovin, 16, and F Austin Daae, 17, both of whom began the season in Saskatoon. Stovin had been with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. Daae finished up with the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals. . . . The Regina Pats, who finish up their season by going home-and-home with the Blades, have brought in three draft picks for some late-season work. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post reports that F Morgan Klimchuk and D Kyle Burroughs, two 2010 bantam picks, and F Jack Rodewald, a 2009 selection, will spend the weekend with the Pats. Klimchuk, the fifth overall pick in 2010, has played the last three games with the Pats, while Burroughs, a third-round pick, might make his WHL debut tonight in Saskatoon. Klimchuk played for the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes, while Burroughs was with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. major midget league. Rodewald has been with the midget AAA Notre Dame Argos in Wilcox, Sask. He was an eighth-round pick in 2009. . . .
D Wyndan Cyr, 20, of the Prairie Junior Hockey League’s Ochapowace Thunder suffered three fractured vertebrae in a playoff game Monday night.
No penalty was called on the play in which he was injured, and his family is said to be considering legal action. That story is right here.
There weren't any games played Thursday night.
Here’s a game-by-game look at what’s happening tonight, with the number in parentheses representing position in conference standings . . .
(all teams have two games remaining)
Saskatoon (1) at Regina (10): The Blades will finish atop the East Division, the Eastern Conference and the overall standings. . . . The Pats are out of the playoffs for a third straight season. . . . These teams will finish their schedules in Saskatoon on Saturday.
Red Deer (2) at Edmonton (7): The Rebels need one point to clinch the Central Division pennant and the conference’s second seed. . . . The Oil Kings are one point behind the sixth-place Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Rebels and Oil Kings will play again Saturday in Red Deer.
Kootenay (4) at Lethbridge (9): The Ice is three points behind the fourth-place Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Hurricanes are ninth, four points out of a playoff spot. They need to win their last two games and have the Prince Albert Raiders lose twice in order to force a sudden-death game. . . . The Ice and Hurricanes also will play Saturday in Cranbrook.
Brandon (6) at Moose Jaw (5): The Wheat Kings are a point ahead of Edmonton, while the Warriors will finish fifth. . . . This will be the last regular-season game in the history of the Moose Jaw Civic Centre. . . . The teams will play again Saturday in Brandon.
Swift Current (11) at Prince Albert (8): The Broncos won’t make the playoffs. . . . The Raiders need one point to clinch the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, and a first-round date with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Broncos and Raiders will play again Saturday in Swift Current.
Everett (7) at Portland (1): The Silvertips, with three games left, are seventh, a point up on Prince George and four ahead of Seattle and Kamloops. . . . The Winterhawks lead the conference by one point over Spokane. . . . Everett will play in Chilliwack on Saturday and Vancouver on Sunday. . . . Portland is in Kent, Wash., against Seattle on Saturday and at home to Spokane on Sunday.
Kelowna (2) at Vancouver (6): The Rockets will finish atop the B.C. Division, so are locked in as the conference’s second seed. . . . The Giants, who have lost seven straight, are a point behind Chilliwack and four ahead of Everett. . . . Vancouver plays in Kelowna on Saturday and is at home to Everett on Sunday.
Seattle (9) at Spokane (3): The Thunderbirds are tied for ninth, three points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Chiefs are a point behind conference-leading Portland. . . . The Thunderbirds are at home to Portland on Saturday and Tri-City on Sunday. . . . Spokane is in Kennewick, Wash., against Tri-City on Saturday and in Portland on Sunday.
Chilliwack (5) at Tri-City (4): The way the standings are now, this is a first-round playoff preview. While the Americans will be the No. 4 seed and have home-ice advantage in the first round, the Bruins are only one point ahead of Vancouver. . . . The Americans are at home to Spokane on Saturday and on the road against Seattle on Sunday. . . . The Bruins are at home to Everett on Saturday.
Prince George (8) at Kamloops (10): The Cougars are three points ahead of the Blazers, who have lost six straight, and Seattle. The Cougars and Blazers will complete their schedules in Prince George on Saturday. . . . With the possibility of three-point games, the permutations involving Everett, Prince George, Seattle and Kamloops are mind-numbing. . . . Results from tonight’s game may help clarify the situation.