Four Games In For The WHL. Major Stumble On Streaming Service Leads To Major Backlash

The debut of the new streaming service for the WHL took place over the weekend to heavy criticism. The very bright picture which was tough at most times to see blue and red lines as well as the puck was in addition to the problems faced with people trying to log into the system. People were not able to load the app on their phones and had issues with tablets and other devices. During the broadcast, the WHL Twitter feed was constantly in defense mode and ultimately, the WHL and CHL released the following statement:

“The streaming experience that was delivered last night through WHL Live on CHL TV was disappointing for our fans and we are working diligently with our service provider to correct the issues. We have heard your frustration and we understand your disappointment. We are working to address the issues that have presented themselves with mobile devices, and we are also working to correct the brightness problems with video playback. We value and appreciate the passion of CHL fans and we thank you for your patience and support.”

The initial games took place on Friday as the WHL unveiled its first pair of actual games to be put in the record books. Medicine Hat scored first in the first period but saw four straight goals by Red Deer including one in the middle of the third, to look at a major deficit. However, the game is sixty minutes, and the Tigers would find a way with three goals, tow just over a minute apart as the third period was winding down to send the game into overtime. Two minutes into overtime, Corson Hapwo worked the puck over the Rebels blueline and shot as he crashed into both goaltender and defenseman for the Rebels to score. The referees verified the goal, and the Tigers drew first blood against the Rebels 5-4. Red Deer outshot Medicine Hat 33 -31 and each team scored once on the powerplay with Red Deer with five chances to Medicine Hat’s four.  

The next night, it was a celebration of sorts while online for the longest serving man in the WHL, Medicine Tigers’ Bob Ridley. Ridley, who you can read more about below, was honored in-house pregame with photos shown throughout the first period. To show their appreciation, the Tigers popped in 4 goals in the first thirteen minutes of the period. The Rebels didn’t reply until the last couple minutes of the second period and scored again just past the four-minute mark of the third period. However, three goals by Medicine Hat later, including an empty net goal sandwiched in the middle of their three-goal output in the third allowed them to skate away with a strong 7-2 win and take two straight from the Rebels. The Tigers outshot the Rebels 33-19, scoring once on the six-man advantage opportunities and holding the Rebels off the scoreboard on their single chance. 

Up the street in the Downtown Arena, in the first game, the Edmonton Oil Kings manhandled the Lethbridge Hurricanes 7-1. They spread out the goals with a pair in the first and second periods and three more in the third. Led by a pair of goals and assists by Dylan Guenther, the Oil Kings shellacked 47 shots on Carl Tetachuck to just 27 by the Canes on Sebastian Cossa.

The next night, the same four teams would meet again as they traded arenas by heading to Lethbridge. In the opener, Edmonton spaced out the seven goals and used backstopper Sebastian Cossa. In Lethbridge, they would use the same goaltender in game two and piled on the first five goals of the game with Dylan Guenther again leading the way with two goals and an assist in leading his first star selection to two games in a row.

Justin Hall of the Hurricanes split up a couple of the Oil Kings goals with two of his own, the only ones the Canes would get as the Oil Kings once again got a lopsided 7-2 win. Lethbridge didn’t play Carl Tetachuk in net, instead they used an even younger Byron Thomson with the same goal give up. Edmonton outshot Lethbridge 37-19, holding Lethbridge scoreless on their 6 powerplay chances and grabbing 2 of 4 on their own. 

The second night of broadcasts were far better, less whitewash and as a result, far fewer complaints as the WHL gets ready for an unveil in the next week with the Calgary Hitmen contributing to the mix.

The next games up will see action March 5 and 6 when Calgary will see action when they play Red Deer and see Lethbridge sit out during the bye week. 

The Western Hockey League posted the following in celebration of Bob Ridley’s achievements in creating the award. 

Medicine Hat, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, a new WHL Award which will be presented annually to a distinguished member of the radio, television, and print journalism industry in recognition of their outstanding contributions to sports journalism and the WHL.

Bob Ridley, the longtime radio play-by-play voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, is the first recipient and the namesake for this prestigious honour. Bob Ridley was recognized by WHL Commissioner Ron Robison and the Medicine Hat Tigers during a special ceremony at Co-op Place in Medicine Hat on Saturday, the day of Ridley’s 4,000th career WHL game.

“The WHL and our member Clubs are honoured to pay tribute to Bob’s remarkable career with the Medicine Hat Tigers by establishing the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Bob has made an incredible contribution to the WHL and the Tigers over the past 50 years and as he gets ready to call his 4,000th WHL game it is only fitting we recognize his legacy with this new league-wide award named in his honour.”

Since the Tigers began play during the 1970-71 WHL Regular Season, Ridley has been the only play-by-play voice in team history, calling every single game the Tigers have ever played, with the exception of one. In 1972, Ridley missed one Tigers game after he was sent out on assignment to attend the Women’s National Curling Championship in Saskatoon, Sask.

Ridley has been synonymous with Medicine Hat Tigers hockey for 50 seasons, with the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season representing his 51st campaign at the mic. Ridley called the Tigers WHL Championship victories in 1973, 1987, 1988, 2004, and 2007, and was there to tell the story of the Club’s two national titles at the Memorial Cup in 1987 and 1988.

In addition to his work as the Tigers play-by-play voice, Ridley also served as the Club’s bus driver for 45 seasons. His unique role helped forge everlasting bonds with players across more than five decades.

Ridley’s contributions to Major Junior hockey in Western Canada have been recognized on a number of previous occasions:

  • 1995 – Medicine Hat Civic Recognition Sports Award
  • 2005 – Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Bell Memorial Award
  • 2005 – Alberta Centennial Award
  • 2006 – WHL Distinguished Service Award
  • 2007 – Lifetime Achievement Award, Radio Television Directors News Awards
  • 2011 – Inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame
  • 2019 – Inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame

In 1995, he was the recipient of the Medicine Hat Civic Recognition Sports Award. In 2005, Ridley was named the recipient of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Bell Memorial Award, and he was also presented with the Alberta Centennial Award by the Government of Alberta. In 2006, Ridley was recognized with the WHL Distinguished Service Award.

A 76-year-old native of Vulcan, Alta., Ridley began his pursuit of broadcasting working weekends at CJDV Drumheller while attending Mount Royal College in Calgary. From there, he moved on to CKSW Swift Current, working as a rock disc jockey and calling play-by-play for an intermediate baseball team in Swift Current, Sask. Ridley then spent two years at CKKR Rosetown before joining CHAT Radio and settling in Medicine Hat.

The Portland Winterhawks released their roster for 2020/21 as they get ready to face Tri-City in a few weeks. As expected, Dante Giannuzzi and Brock Gould will tend the net. The Forwards are listed as rookies Aiden Litke, Kyle Chyzowski, Jonah Bevington and Marcus Ngyen. Returning on the front-line would-be Robbie Fromme-Delorme, Reece Newkirk, Gabe Klassen, Tyson Kozak, Jaydon Dureau, Seth Jarvis, Mason Mannek, Seth Jarvis and Kishaun Gervais. The back line would feature rookies Luca Cagnoni, Ryder Thompson, Ryan McCleary and Brody Tallman. Returning players would be Nolan Kade, Kurtis Smythe, Nick Ciecek and Jonas Brondberg. 

The BC Division still waits for the green light in the WHL and time for anything close to a “season” is running out. Submissions have been made to the Public Health Officer, but so far people are still waiting. 

In the OHL, they too are still waiting for the go ahead as they try to figure out if a season can be made. Though Covid-19 numbers are headed down, the issue remains that they are too high and spike where they don’t want them to. In addition, they are still having issues with allowances for bodychecking which remains part of the game.  

The QMJHL continues with two separate leagues. Quebec teams play in Quebec only and Maritime teams play on their own. So far it has worked as they face the continued uphill battle against the disease. 

About Stuart Kemp 203 Articles
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club since 2008 and has been following hockey from his native Canada since he can remember, though he can't skate, but played road hockey for several years. Loving hockey and professional wrestling, he has traveled to most of the WHL cities and with wrestling, has seen four provinces and five states. It is true that every Canadian city with more than 500 residents has a hockey rink, well at least it looks that way. Stuart has had his hand in every facet of independent Professional wrestling as he debuted as an announcer in 1986 which started his career.

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