Coun. Hong: "I want to apologize to the community..." over heated interactions during events centre process. "This was rushed." #nanaimo— Dominic Abassi (@domabassi) March 14, 2017
Coun. Thorpe: "we will take this as a lesson," on a message sent by voters of council's poor behaviour.— Dominic Abassi (@domabassi) March 14, 2017
"It's a shame" the WHL rushed us
More than 48 hours after the taxpayers of Nanaimo resoundingly defeated a referendum that would have led to the relocation of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice to the Vancouver Island city, the WHL has yet to comment.
Presumably, the high foreheads are huddled together and studying options after that referendum — the City wanted the OK to borrow $80 million for an events centre that would house a WHL team — was soundly rejected. If you missed it, 80 per cent of the 23,885 people who voted said NO.
So . . . if places like Winnipeg, Wenatchee, Wash., Penticton and Abbotsford aren’t options, what’s left?
You may recall that it was eight months ago when Alberta’s Frog Lake First Nation announced that it wants to build a complex just west of Lloydminster, Alta., that would include an arena. It also revealed that it wanted a WHL franchise for that arena.
It seems that those plans continue to move forward but there isn’t yet a shovel in the ground. In fact, mylloydminsternow.com reports right here that it all is moving through the regulatory process with Vermilion River County and the City of Lloydminster.
The plans for the complex also include a casino and that awaits direction from Alberta Gaming and Liquor, which presently has in place a moratorium on any new casinos. With the proposed site just off Highway 16 (the Yellowhead Highway), there also is traffic-impact study in progress.
In other words, an arena there is a long ways away.
The difference between that site and Nanaimo is that the Vancouver Island community has a facility — the 2,400-seat Frank Crane Arena — that would have housed the WHL team until the new arena was ready. In Lloydminster, the Centennial Civic Centre, with 1,700 seats, likely is seen as being too small, even on a temporary basis. It is home to the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.
It’s interesting that the WHL went so far as to sign a memorandum of understanding with Nanaimo that guaranteed a team and a 20-year lease had the referendum passed and a new arena been built.
Bruce Simms, the project manager for Frog Lake, told mylloydminsternow.com:
“What we’re hearing is ‘if you build a building, and you talk to us to apply, we’ll be very interested.’
“They’re not really going to talk to you seriously until you’ve taken concrete steps to build a facility. But the fact that we are talking to them, and hearing what they have to say about arena size and equipment, etc., they understand we’re serious.”
The WHL has to hope they’re serious, because that flat, undeveloped piece of land just west of Lloydminster, Alta., may be their only hope right now.
Coun. Bestwick says unless there is a different model, events centre discussion likely won't come up again for 10+ years in #Nanaimo— Dominic Abassi (@domabassi) March 14, 2017
Just because Wenatchee isn’t an option for the WHL at the moment, doesn’t mean it won’t re-enter the picture at a later date.
Bliss Littler, the BCHL’s franchise’s general manager and head coach, told Taking Note on Monday evening: “We’re not there as an organization yet. We should catch up soon.”
The Wild plays out of the 4,300-seat Toyota Town Center.
The Wild had the BCHL’s best record (45-9-4) during the regular season and eliminated the Prince George Spruce Kings from a first-round series on Sunday. The Wild is preparing to face the Chilliwack Chiefs in the second round.
According to announced attendances, the Wild drew 73,837 fans to 29 home regular-season games this season, an average of 2,546 per game.
F Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds has been isolated while the team waits to see if he does have mumps.
Russ Farwell, the WHL team’s general manager, said Monday morning that “we are being careful but will not know for three days. We are treating it as mumps until we learn otherwise.”
Barzal has undergone tests and it is those results which the team awaits.
If it turns out that Barzal has mumps, the Thunderbirds will become the fourth WHL team to have been stricken, along with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos.
The Victoria Royals are awaiting tests on head coach Dave Lowry and defencemen Ralph Jarratt and Mitchell Prowse, who have been isolated since late last week after showing symptoms.
There is an outbreak of mumps in the state of Washington and it has spread to the U of Washington, where at least a dozen students have been diagnosed.
According to KING 5, a Seattle TV station, the Washington State Health department has reported 563 cases of mumps, with more than 200 each in King and Spokane counties. That is quite an increase from 2016 when 154 confirmed and probable cases were reported statewide.
The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Ethan Regnier, 16, who is a native of Prince Albert. He played this season with the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires, recording 18 goals and 36 assists in 44 games. Last season, he had 10 goals and eight assists in 41 games with the Legionnaires. . . . He was an 11th-round selection in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Regnier was on the bus with the Broncos when it left Monday for Brandon and a game tonight (Tuesday) with the Wheat Kings.
F Tate Popple, who turned 17 on March 3, has joined the Moose Jaw Warriors for the remainder of this season. Popple, from Brandon, played the past two seasons with the midget AAA Wheat Kings. He had 30 points, including 12 goals, in 44 games last season. This season, he put up 22 goals and 32 assists in 41 games. . . . He is the son of Lavern Popple, who played 18 games with the WHL’s Wheat Kings (1977-80).
The Kootenay Ice has shut down D Austin Wellsby and D Sam Huston for the remainder of the season, both with undisclosed injuries. . . . Wellsby, 19, had six goals and 12 assists in 60 games in what was his second full season with the Ice. From Chilliwack, B.C., he was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. . . . Huston, 17, had a goal and four assists in 45 in his freshman season. From Brandon, he was a ninth-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft.
The Everett Silvertips have added F Dawson Butt to their roster. He has been playing for the Everett Jr. Silvertips 16UAAA club (NAPHL), who are coached by former WHL/NHL F Turner Stevenson. A native of Buckley, Wash., Butt was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He has played two games with the Silvertips this season. . . . In 22 regular-season games with the Jr. Silvertips, Butt had 18 goals and 11 assists. . . . He is the son of Jamie Butt, who played four WHL seasons (1992-96) with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets.
The Kamloops Blazers have added three 16-year-olds — D Devan Harrison, G Max Palaga and F Brodi Stuart — to their roster for the remainder of this season. . . . Harrison, a second-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft, had five goals and 24 assists in 44 games with the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals. . . . Palaga, who is from Kamloops, played this season with the Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . Stuart had 44 points, including 18 goals, in 34 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.
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Dave Burkholder won’t be back for a 17th season as head coach of the Niagara U Purple Eagles. The move comes after a 5-31-3 season. That included three regular-season victories and two more in a first-round upset of RIT in an Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series. Canisius eliminated Niagara from playoffs last weekend. . . . The school is saying the decision for change was “mutual.” . . . In a news release, athletic director Simon Gray said: "Both Dave and the university have decided that a change in leadership is best for the program.” . . . Burkholder’s record at Niagara was 247-279-68.
If the playoffs began today . . .
Regina vs. Calgary
Medicine Hat vs. Brandon
Moose Jaw vs. Swift Current
Lethbridge vs. Red Deer
Seattle vs. Tri-City
Prince George vs. Victoria
Kelowna vs. Kamloops
Everett vs. Portland
No Games Scheduled.
TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):
Swift Current at Brandon, 7 p.m.
Edmonton vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Red Deer at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Regina, 7 p.m.
Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.
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