The WHL revealed late Tuesday afternoon that LW Brendan Ranford of the Kamloops Blazers has been suspended for six games.
That is the price Ranford, who leads the Blazers in all three major offensive categories, will pay for cross-checking linesman Kris Hartley across the chest during the second period of a game in Kamloops on Friday.
The Blazers were in the process of dropping a 5-1 decision to the Kelowna Rockets at the time, a loss that would be their fifth in a row. One night later, without Ranford in the lineup, they would lose 1-0 in a shootout to the Rockets in Kelowna.
Ranford will sit out the Blazers’ last two regular-season games — they are at home to the Prince George Cougars on Friday and will play in Prince George on Saturday.
Should the Blazers make the playoffs, Ranford will sit out the first three games of the first-round series. Should the Blazers not qualify, Ranford will be forced to watch the first three games of the 2011-12 regular season.
The Blazers go into tonight’s games in ninth place in the Western Conference, two points out of eighth and three out of seventh.
From here, I would suggest that Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president, hockey, who handles discipline, got this one about right. While Ranford’s crime was unforgivable, there wasn’t any attempt to injure Hartley, nor was the linesman knocked off his feet or even off-balance.
Still, there is no excuse for Ranford’s action.
But, in the end, Ranford and the Blazers will pay more than six games for this.
For starters, we will never know if Ranford’s presence might have made a difference in that 1-0 game in Kelowna on Saturday. The score would indicate that was a winnable game for Kamloops; however, Ranford has ended his regular-season with zero points in his last six games.
And, of course, we will never know what kind of impact he might have in the approaching two-game series with Prince George.
Let’s not forget, too, that for the rest of his WHL career, Ranford may as well wear a scarlet letter as someone who put a stick to an official. After all, what do you think the odds are of Ranford ever getting a break from the men in stripes, at least during the rest of his days in this league?
In Edmonton last night, the Oil Kings scored the game’s last seven goals and beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 8-1. . . . Edmonton F Jordan Hickmott played in his 300th regular-season game. Hickmott, who also has played with the Prince Albert Raiders and Medicine Hat Tigers, had a goal, his 28th, and an assist. . . . The victory lifted the Oil Kings, who are seventh in the Eastern Conference, to within a point of the idle Brandon Wheat Kings. Each team has two games remaining. . . . The Hurricanes (23-34-13), with two games to play, are ninth, two points behind the Prince Albert Raiders (28-36-5), who have three games to play. . . .
In Medicine Hat, F Max Reinhart scored the game’s first two goals to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 4-1 victory over the Tigers. . . . Reinhart has 34 goals. . . . The Ice was 1-for-3 on the PP; the Tigers were 1-for-9. . . . The victory kept the Ice in the chase for third place in the Eastern Conference as it now trails the Tigers by three points. Each team has two games remaining. . . . The Tigers are four points behind the Central Division-leading Red Deer Rebels, who also have two games to play. . . .
In Swift Current, G Mark Friesen stopped 32 shots to help the Broncos to a 6-0 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . The shutout was Friesen’s sixth this season. . . . Regina was 0-for-9 on the PP; the Broncos were 3-for-5. . . . F Brad Hoban had three goals, giving him 23, while F Justin Dowling returned to the lineup from an ankle injury and got his 20th goal. . . . The loss ended Regina’s faint hope of catching Prince Albert for the conference’s last playoff spot. The Pats now are six points back with just two games remaining. . . . The Broncos are a point behind Regina, so won’t be in the postseason either.
There are six games on Wednesday’s schedule.
The Prince Albert Raiders meet the Hitmen in Calgary. The Raiders can clinch at least a tie for eighth place with a victory. The Hitmen, the WHL’s defending champions, will finish last in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoffs. . . .
The Moose Jaw Warriors, who will finish fifth in the conference, are in Saskatoon to face the Blades, who will finish first overall in the WHL this season. . . .
The Everett Silvertips are to meet the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. The Silvertips aren’t likely to have G Kent Simpson (ankle) or F Landon Ferraro (groin) in their lineup. . . . Everett, which will finish with four road games in five nights, is eighth in the Western Conference, but a victory would life it past the idle Prince George Cougars and into seventh. . . . The Americans will finish fourth in the conference. . . .
The Vancouver Giants, having lost six in a row, are in Portland to face the Winterhawks. Vancouver, with four games left, is tied with the Chilliwack Bruins for fifth in the conference. The Bruins have three games left. . . . The Winterhawks, with four games left, continue to lead the conference, but are just one point ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . .
The Chiefs, who have four games to play, are at home to the Bruins. The Chiefs, by the way, will open the playoffs on the road as their building isn’t available on the March 25 weekend. . . .
The Kelowna Rockets, who will finish atop the B.C. Division and thus be the conference’s second seed for the first round, are at home to the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle is last in the conference. It is four points out of a playoff spot with four games remaining.
There would seem to be quite a tussle going on in the boardroom of the Chilliwack Bruins, with minority owners Moray Keith and Jim Bond trying to keep the WHL team right where it is.
The Chilliwack Progress has more right here, including confirmation from Keith on reports that Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins has expressed interest in being involved.
That story is right here.
JUST NOTES: The Kamloops Blazers have added F Matt Needham to their roster for the remainder of their season. Needham, the Blazers’ first pick in the 2010 bantam draft, already has played 11 games with Kamloops, earning seven points. He had 45 points in 38 games with the midget AAA Prep team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton this season. . . . Goaltenders Jacob DeSerres and Andrew Hayes were teammates for a Memorial Cup-bound team -- the host Brandon Wheat Kings -- a year ago. Earlier this season, both lost out in the 20-year-old numbers game, cleared WHL waivers and chose to try their luck in the QMJHL. Now they will meet up in the first round of the playoffs there, DeSerres with the Saint John Sea Dogs, who are having a record-setting season, and Hayes with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, who go in as the No. 16 seed. . . . Adam Brown of the Kelowna Rockets was named the CHL’s goaltender of the week. He was 3-0-0, 0.65, .979 last week. . . . D Brendan Kennedy, who was selected by the Prince Albert Raiders in the sixth round of the 2009 bantam draft, will play next season for the BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks. His twin brother, Jeff, who is a forward, also will play for Salmon Arm. Jeff’s WHL rights belong to the Kamloops Blazers, who placed his name on their protected list in November. The brothers are twins -- they will turn 17 on Feb. 6 -- from Terrace, B.C. They played this season with the midget AAA Prep team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C.