Sunday, April 5, 2015

KABOOM! Dynamiters into final with Storm . . . Bast seeing results . . . Religion in the dressing room

With apologies to Blackie Sherrod, we’re scattershooting:

1. The NHL is almost certain to use some form of 3-on-3 play in overtime next season. So you know that the WHL will follow suit. That might mean OT could last seven minutes if a goal isn’t scored.

2. The Cyclone Taylor Cup, the B.C. junior B championship tournament that is being held in Mission this weekend, gives three points for a regulation-time victory, two for an overtime victory and one for an OT loss. If a game goes into a second OT, they go to 3-on-3 and a minor penalty results in a penalty shot. Hmmmm . . .

3. If you watched any NHL on the weekend, you likely noticed that the on-ice officials are in playoff mode. Yes, they are letting the players decide things, and you can decide if that’s a good thing.

4. It’s kind of late in the season, but the Vancouver Canucks are going to need help in the faceoff circles if they are to get through the first round of the playoffs. Henrik Sedin and Linden Vey are liabilities in that area of the game, and having two centres in that boat in the playoffs will be too much to overcome.

5. It will be really interesting to watch things in Medicine Hat next season. The Tigers will move from the 4,006-seat Arena to the 7,000-seat Regional Event Centre, meaning the demand for tickets will change. How will the Tigers handle that?

6. The Kamloops Blazers underwent an ownership change after the 2006-07 season. In the eight seasons before then, the Blazers were 282-234-13, with 37 ties. In the eight seasons since then, the Blazers are 252-274-45. The Blazers missed the playoffs this season and last, the first time in franchise history that they have been on the outside looking in for consecutive seasons. . . . Under community ownership, the Blazers made the playoffs in seven of those eight seasons, losing out in the first round each time. Under private ownership, the Blazers have been in the playoffs in five of eight seasons — losing in the first round three times, the second round once and the conference final once.

7. In the last eight seasons, the Kelowna Rockets, who are the gold standard in B.C., are 356-177-43. In six of those eight seasons, the Rockets have reached at least the second round of the playoffs. . . . The Portland Winterhawks, over that same time span, are 327-217-32. Keep in mind that in the first two of those eight seasons, they won a total of 30 games. In the playoffs, the Winterhawks have made six straight appearances, getting to four straight WHL finals and winning once.

8. Those numbers really show how far a franchise has to go to get back to the top level once it falls off the pace.

9. If you are like me, you saw the announcement Saturday afternoon about Doug Ford joining the Hockey Hall of Fame board of directors and you thought it was still April 1.

10. When Ford is through with the HHoF, he’ll be taking over as the NHL commissioner.

11. If you are one who complains about the officiating in the WHL, I hope you saw the mess that was the Wisconsin-Kentucky basketball game on Saturday night.

12. Isn’t it interesting that Shaw TV didn’t show one game out of Cranbrook in the first round of the WHL playoffs, while showing all four games out of Calgary? Might that have had something to do with concern over attendance in Cranbrook? . . . The Hitmen and Ice will play Game 7 tonight in Calgary and, yes, it’s on Shaw. . . . BTW, there isn’t any word on Shaw’s plans for the second round but were I betting man I might put a few bob on the Kelowna-Victoria series seeing some TV time.

The Kootenay Ice are in Calgary to meet the Hitmen tonight in the first Game 7 of these WHL playoffs. A year ago, the Ice upset the Hitmen in six games. . . . Laurence Heinen of the Calgary Herald sets the stage right here.
The move to resurrect the Kamloops-Thompson Rivers University hockey program continues to move forward. Trevor Bast, who is heading up the project, had some positive news on Sunday, after I wrote about it right here: “As a result of your article, I received an email from an individual who offered to put up 10K if another 10K is raised first. It appears momentum is growing.” . . . If you are interested in getting involved, don’t forget that the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League has told Bast that he is looking at a May 3 deadline. . . . You are able to email him at
KABOOM! The Kimberley Dynamiters will play for the Cyclone Taylor Cup this afternoon against the Campbell River Storm. The Nitros reached the final with a 5-4 double OT victory over the North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon; the Storm beat the host Misson Outlaws 3-2 last night. . . . The winning goal came six seconds into the second extra period, with the teams playing 3-on-3. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has a game story right here. . . . The winner of the Cyclone Taylor Cup advances to the Keystone Cup, the Western Canadian junior B championship, which this season will be held in Cold Lake, Alta., with the Cold Lake Ice as the host team. Former WHL G Bolton Pouliot (Red Deer, Kamloops, Portland, 2010-15) is on the Ice’s roster. Pouliot, 20, signed with the Ice on Feb. 10 and joined the team in time for it to win its fifth straight North East Alberta Junior B League championship. He played all six games of the final, going 4-2, 2.79, .925.
The Kelowna Rockets will meet the Victoria Royals in the second round of the WHL playoffs. That series will open Friday in Kelowna. . . . Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Couriers previews that series right here. Just don’t be looking for any update on injured players. After all, this is the playoffs.
Now that the Red Deer Rebels have been eliminated from the playoffs, D Colton Bobyk will have knee surgery. Bobyk “gave us everything he could,” GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate, “but unfortunately he’s been playing injured the whole year. Now he’ll get done what needs to get done and hopefully he’ll come back and be at the level he wants to be at and where we need him to be at next season.” . . . Bobyk, who turned 19 on March 16, is expected to be ready for training camp in August. A native of Rimbey, Alta., he was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs earlier this season. The Chiefs selected him in the 10th round of the 2011 bantam draft. . . . Meachem’s season-ending story is right here.
Here’s Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe: “While spirituality is on display in other professional sports — with pitchers’ fingers pointing skyward, tattooed crosses adorning NBA arms, words of divine praise in postgame sideline interviews — that’s not the case in hockey. In the NHL, religion is mostly omitted from the conversation, God left unsaid.” . . . Religion, like mental health, is rarely talked about in the macho world of hockey, and that really is too bad because the time has come when both should be in the conversation. . . . Benjamin’s story is right here.
Major League Baseball has a problem — the offence stinks. Here’s Tyler Kepner in The New York Times: “The numbers are staggering. Last season, major league teams scored roughly 5,000 fewer runs, and hit roughly 1,500 fewer homers, than they did in 2000 — statistically, the height of the steroid era. The average team scored 4.07 runs per game last season, down from 5.14 in 2000. And pitchers pumped in about 6,000 more strikeouts last season than they did in 2000.” . . . What to do about it? Kepner examines the issue right here.

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