Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WHL Conference Awards and All-Stars Named

WHL Player of the Year (Four Broncos Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Player of the Year – Jayden Halbgewachs (Emerald Park, Sask.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference Player of the Year – Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta.) – Everett Silvertips

WHL Top Goaltender (Del Wilson Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Top Goaltender – Logan Flodell (Saskatoon, Sask.) – Lethbridge Hurricanes
Western Conference Top Goaltender – Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta.) – Everett Silvertips

WHL Top Defenceman (Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Top Defenceman – Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference Top Defenceman – Cal Foote (Engelwood, Colo.) – Kelowna Rockets

WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year – Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Yukon) – Lethbridge Hurricanes
Western Conference Rookie of the Year – Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C.) – Vancouver Giants

WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year (Brad Hornung Trophy)
Eastern Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player – Aleksi Heponiemi (Tampere, Finland) – Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player – Cody Glass (Winnipeg, Man.) – Portland Winterhawks

WHL Executive of the Year (Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Executive of the Year – Alan Millar – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference Executive of the Year – Garry Davidson – Everett Silvertips

WHL Coach of the Year (Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Coach of the Year – Manny Viveiros – Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference Coach of the Year – Dennis Williams – Everett Silvertips

WHL Eastern Conference All-Star Teams

Goaltender – Logan Flodell (Saskatoon, Sask.) – Lethbridge Hurricanes
Defenceman – Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Defenceman – David Quenneville (Edmonton, Alta.) – Medicine Hat Tigers
Forward – Jayden Halbgewachs (Emerald Park, Sask.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Forward – Glenn Gawdin (Richmond, B.C.) – Swift Current Broncos
Forward – Aleksi Heponiemi (Tampere, Finland) – Swift Current Broncos

Goaltender – Logan Thompson (Calgary, Alta.) – Brandon Wheat Kings
Defenceman – Josh Mahura (St. Albert, Alta.) – Regina Pats
Defenceman – Colby Sissons (Edmonton, Alta.) – Swift Current Broncos
Forward – Tyler Steenbergen (Sylvan Lake, Alta.) – Swift Current Broncos
Forward – Jordy Bellerive (North Vancouver, B.C.) – Lethbridge Hurricanes
Forward – Brayden Burke (Edmonton, Alta.) – Moose Jaw Warriors

WHL Western Conference All-Star Teams

Goaltender – Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta.) – Everett Silvertips
Defenceman – Cal Foote (Engelwood, Colo.) – Kelowna Rockets
Defenceman – Ty Smith (Lloydminster, Alta.) – Spokane Chiefs
Forward – Matthew Phillips (Calgary, Alta.) – Victoria Royals
Forward – Cody Glass (Winnipeg, Man.) – Portland Winterhawks
Forward – Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Calgary, Alta.) – Spokane Chiefs

Goaltender – David Tendeck (North Vancouver, B.C.) – Vancouver Giants
Defenceman – Henri Jokiharju (Tampere, Finland) – Portland Winterhawks
Defenceman – Juuso Valimaki (Nokia, Finland) – Tri-City Americans
Forward – Ty Ronning (Burnaby, B.C.) – Vancouver Giants
Forward – Dillon Dube (Cochrane, Alta.) – Kelowna Rockets
Forward – Patrick Bajkov (Nanaimo, B.C.) – Everett Silvertips

The following individual and team awards were won during the 2017-18 WHL Regular Season:

WHL Regular Season Champions (Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy)
Moose Jaw Warriors: 72 GP – 52 W – 15 L – 2 OTL – 3 SOL – 109 PTS

WHL Top Scorer (Bob Clarke Trophy)
Jayden Halbgewachs (Emerald Park, Sask.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
72 GP – 70 G – 59 A – 129 PTS – +43 – 12 PIM

WHL Plus-Minus Award
Glenn Gawdin (Richmond, B.C.) – Swift Current Broncos
67 GP – 56 G – 69 A – 125 PTS – +61 – 101 PIM

WHL Conference Awards for WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, WHL Humanitarian of the Year, WHL Top Official and the WHL Business Award will be announced at a later date.

What Did You Miss On Tuesday?

--The WHL Bantam Draft will go Wednesday morning in Calgary. The lottery will involve the six non-playoff teams (Edmonton, Prince George, Calgary, Kootenay, Kamloops and Saskatoon) from the 2017-18 season. A team may only move up a maximum of two positions in the WHL Bantam Draft. Edmonton has the best chance of selecting first after a league-low 52 points followed by Prince George at 58 and Calgary at 59.

--The Columbus Blue Jackets made it 9 straight wins as they beat the Rangers 5-3. The win streak has put Columbus in the discussion to perhaps finish first in the Metropolitan Division as they are four points back of Washington with eight games to play.

--Henoc Muamba won't be suiting up for the Bombers in 2018.  Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters says they gave Muamba their best sales pitch and offer, but he wanted to be paid more than Andrew Harris and the Bombers said no.

“We were certainly not prepared to offer Henoc Muamba a contract higher than Andrew Harris, which is what they were asking for,” Walters said. “It was not going to happen from our end on a multitude of reasons.“We had an offer on the table and we were prepared to make Henoc the second-highest paid Canadian on our team. Within our salary cap and what we deemed was fair, we thought it was a good, fair offer.

--The Riders let it be known on Tuesday just how much they are giving to amateur football in Saskatchewan., As one would expect, they are giving out a sizable amount of money.

“It is extremely important to our organization that we provide valuable support to amateur football programs throughout the province,” stated Craig Reynolds, Riders President & CEO. “Our partnership with Football Saskatchewan and its members has allowed us to help grow the game of football at the grassroots and amateur level, making football accessible to youth of all ages.”

In 2017, the Club assisted Saskatchewan-based football programs with financial support in excess of $600,000, provided thousands of in-kind donations and prizes, and participated with over 100 hours of Rider player appearances at youth camps, games and practices.

--Kevin Koe's rink now has two Saskatchewan people on it.  Like many other teams, the Koe team is changing things up for the next Olympic cycle. With third Marc Kennedy and second Brent Laing leaving, Koe has replaced them with former Mike McEwen third BJ Neufeld and Saskatoon's Colton Flasch.  Ben Hebert of Regina remains lead. Flasch had left the Steve Laycock rink prior to this season to skip his own team--one that lost to Laycock in the SaskTel Tankard final.   As for McEwen, he has joined up with Reid Carruthers and will throw fourth stones 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Another Competitor to NFL Is Announced

Generic American football

A new football league will be joining the ranks of the NFL and the soon-to-be resurrected XFL.

Two months after Vince McMahon announced he was going to start the XFL again in 2020, Charlie Ebersol, the son of McMahon's former XFL partner Dick Ebersol, said he was going to create the American Alliance of Football, reported.

According to Ebersol, the new league will debut Feb. 9, 2019, one week after Super Bowl 53. The league will have eight 50-man teams consisting of players who didn't make the NFL cut and run 10 weeks.

"There are 28,000 Division I football players. Only 1,700 have NFL jobs," Ebersol said. "We're looking for those Kurt Warners working in grocery stores and we think we will find them."

The cities where the eight teams will be will be announced over the next three months.

To help with planning, Ebersol brought on former NFL general manager Bill Polian and former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will oversee the players operations. Former players J.K. McKay, Hines Ward and Justin Tuck will all serve as advisers.

Ebersol's father, Dick, will also serve as an adviser.

Financially, the new league will be backed by former Vikings linebacker Jared Allen, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and The Chernin Group, which owns a huge portion of Barstool Sports.

Ebersol said he know the league isn't going to blow up overnight and that it will take time and patience for it to catch on.

"I think where businesses like this fail is that they expect to have ludicrous and unrealistic ticket and media deal projections in Year 1," Ebersol said. "Our investors here understand that it's a 7-10-year plan."

According to Ebersol, he plans on fully incorporating Fantasy Football and a media plan into the league. He said he was strategic in choosing the time of year the American Alliance of Football will play, since people still crave Fantasy Football and watching games once the season is over.

"Fifty nine million people play fantasy and 20 million people play only fantasy football," Ebersol. "We have to be able to take advantage of the people who just stop playing fantasy when the NFL season ends."

What DId You Miss on Monday?

--The Saskatchewan Roughriders re-signed two nationals (Canadians) on Monday.  Both receiver Brett Blaszko and kicker Brett Lauther spent time with the team last year.

--Anthony Calvillo is the Toronto Argonauts new quarterback coach. Pro football's all-time passing leader is now reunited with Toronto head coach Marc Trestman. The quarterback played five seasons for Trestman in Montreal and the two won two Grey Cups together.

--Nothing official from the NFL, but there are reports out of Philadelphia suggesting the Eagles will open up defense of their Super Bowl win with an opening-night home game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 6.  The NFL schedule is expected to be released in about a month's time.

--Bad news for the LA Dodgers as the start of the baseball season inches closer. 3rd baseman Justin Turner suffered what the team says is a broken wrist when he was hit by a pitch during a game Monday night. Turner, the Dodgers' No. 3 hitter, batted .322 with 21 home runs last season, making the All-Star team for the first time.

--Pekka Rinne has won 40 games for the 3rd time in his career making him the 7th NHL goalie to accomplish that feat. The Preds goalie did it in a 4-0 win over Buffalo. The only other active goalie to do that is Braden Holtby of the Capitals.  Others to have done it in their career are Martin Brodeur, who had 8 40 win seasons, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Miikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov

Monday, March 19, 2018

NHL Three Stars Of Week

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 18.



Pietrangelo led the NHL with 3-6—9 in four games to power the Blues (39-28-5, 83 points) to a 3-1-0 week and within one point of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. He collected two assists in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks March 12 before being held off the scoresheet in a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche March 15. Pietrangelo bounced back with 2-1—3, his fifth career three-point performance, in a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Rangers March 17. He then set a career high with 1‑3—4, highlighted by the tying goal with 1:22 remaining in regulation and an assist on the overtime winner, in a 5-4 triumph versus the Chicago Blackhawks March 18. In doing so, Pietrangelo became the second defenseman in Blues history to record consecutive three-point games (also Rob Ramage: Dec. 26-27, 1987). The 28-year-old King City, Ont., native shares first place among NHL blueliners with 15 goals and ranks 10th among League defensemen with 50 points in 68 outings this season (15-35—50).


MacKinnon paced the NHL with six goals and ranked second with eight points (6‑2—8) in four games as the Avalanche (39-25-8, 86 points) went 3-1-0 to climb into the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. He scored one goal in a 5-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 13. MacKinnon then registered 2-1—3, including his League-leading 11th game-winning goal of the season (tied with Calgary’s Sean Monahan), in a 4-1 triumph over the St. Louis Blues March 15. He added one goal in a 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators March 16 before capping the week with 2-1—3, his League-best 13th three-point effort of the campaign, in a 5-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings March 18. The 22-year-old Halifax, N.S., native paces the NHL with 1.39 points per game and ranks third overall with 38-51—89 in 64 contests this season, highlighted by 13-11—24 during an active 12-game point streak.


McElhinney went 3-0-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and one shutout as the Maple Leafs (43-22-7, 93 points) posted a perfect week to move within two wins of matching the single-season franchise record (reached in 1998-99, 1999-00 and 2003-04). He made 13 saves in relief and added two shootout stops in a 6‑5 victory over the Dallas Stars March 14. McElhinney then turned aside 38 shots in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres March 15. He closed the week with 33 saves for his eighth career shutout in a 4-0 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens March 17. The 34-year-old London, Ont., native owns a 10-4-1 record with a 2.09 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and three shutouts in 16 appearances this season.

CFL To Use New Football in 2018

The Canadian Football League (CFL) is rolling out a new and improved ball for the upcoming 2018 season.

“We are currently delivering to our teams a ball that is slightly different from the one we’ve used in the past,” said Ryan Janzen, Senior Director of Football Operations for the CFL.

“The new ball is virtually identical, to the eye, to the old one. It has the same laces and markings including our stripes. But it is made of a slightly harder leather. Our partners at Wilson say that allows it to hold its pebbles better.”

The new ball may also be just a tiny fraction larger. It is the same length as the old one. But Wilson provides a range for what constitutes an acceptable circumference upon inflation and that could be up to an eighth of an inch larger for the new ball.

During 2017, CFL clubs were given the opportunity to test, at mini-camps and in training camp, the Wilson ball used in the NFL. Feedback from quarterbacks indicated they preferred the laces used on CFL balls but the leather of the NFL balls.

CFL General Managers subsequently proposed that the league adopt a new ball that has the laces, stripes and other markings of the old CFL ball but the leather and size of the NFL ball. The Board of Governors recently discussed the change at its winter meetings and the new balls were ordered.

“A new, improved and unique CFL ball has been created. And it is being delivered to our clubs now,” Janzen said.

Something To "Mitch" About

Image result for western hockey league

--Its playoff time in the WHL and if Friday night is any indication, hockey fans in Swift Current and Regina can get ready for what should be one heckuva first round battle.  I was not at the Brandt Centre Friday night, but I had a chance to watch the game on Access and it was a battle.  That is perhaps an understatement.  I would think what you saw on Friday at the Brandt Centre is what you will see in this series with a lot more on the line.

For what its worth, the first round should be great across the league.  You have:

Moose Jaw vs Prince Albert
Brandon  vs Medicine Hat
Regina vs Swift Current
Lethbridge vs Red Deer

Everett vs Seattle
Portland vs Spokane
Victoria vs Vancouver
Kelowna vs Tri-Cities.

--The greasefire that is the Saskatoon Blades continued Sunday. Less than 24 hours after their season ended, the team told Head Coach Dean Brockman his services are no longer needed. Smart teams would keep Dean Brockman around. Smart teams would recognize the Blades were sellers and that the P-A Raiders were buyers at the trade deadline so the swoon that Saskatoon went on was expected. Smart teams would see the Blades improved by nine points in each of the two seasons that Brockman was behind the bench.   Smart teams would see the talent that is being accumulated and give a guy who has a huge track record of success a chance to continue working with that talent. Smart teams would be keeping Brockman around----if indeed he wanted to stay.

The higher-ups have made Brockman fall on the sword because they gutted the team at the trade deadline to get better ---or at least try to.  GM Colin Priestner says they thought they had a playoff team and fell short of expectations. I guess that is what happens when you get rid of your best players at the deadline. Who would have pulled the trigger on those deals by the way? Would it be the same guy who told Blades players---even those who were graduating not to say anything about what happened? Saskatoon hockey fans should be disgusted with this move. Oh, and if you took into account you were playing in perhaps the most competitive division in all of the Canadian Hockey League and still finished better than last year and would have been 2nd in the Central, it makes this move that much more ridiculous.

Congratulations should really be in order for Brockman who will find work again in this league if he wants it.  He is just too good. When he can actually work for someone who has some intelligence when it comes to the game he will succeed.  Smart hockey people know what the problem is in Saskatoon and it wasn't Dean Brockman.

--Did anyone think Max Paddock would emerge the way he has?  Paddock was rock-solid for the Pats down the stretch and are starting to get more and more scouts to pay attention. He ended up statistically being one of the top goalies in the WHL this season and who saw that back in September when everything opened up.  Let's see what the kid can do in the playoffs.  There is no indication to think he won't carry on the way he has.  I am guessing he gets the start for Game 1 against the Broncos. How can't he even though Ryan Kubic is healthy.

--Sam Steel ends his Regina Pats regular season career with 338 career points. That is good for 10th overall in team history. It's too early to say where Steel ranks in team history, but he has to be in the top 10 doesn't he? Yes, we have seen the likes of Sobchuk, Wickenheiser, Gillies, Eberle and Derkatch roll through here, but we have to put number 23 on that top 10 list don't we? It would be cemented if his days as a Pat ended up with him holding the Memorial Cup high as he skated it around Brandt Centre ice, but is that needed to secure a top 10 spot.  Discuss!

--There was an MLS game on CTV Saturday afternoon.  If MLS can get games on CTV, why can't the CFL?  With all apologies to Toronto FC and Whitecaps fans, I'd rather watch a Argos-Lions game on CTV or any CFL game on CTV!!

--The Canadian Football Hall of Fame announces its 2018 class later this week. I am guessing Arland Bruce III will not be getting a call.

--The opening weekend of March Madness continues to be four of the best days in sports for this blogger. University of Maryland Baltimore County becomes the first ever 16 seed to beat a 1 seed as they did to Virginia Friday night. Who's kidding who, they blasted them out of the water.  Then you see Michigan win at the buzzer over Houston, you see Texas Tech just squeak by Florida, you see Loyola-Chicago get their 2nd upset with another last second win over Tennessee. You see Florida State upset Xavier. Brackets are busted all over the place. Who's the favourite now??  LOVE IT!

--Do you win with offence in the NHL or defence? The Tampa Bay Lightning have scored the most goals on average this season at 3.59.  The Nashville Predators have allowed a league low 2.38 goals a game. Those are the only two teams sitting at 100 points. Hmmmmmm!!!

--Good luck to Lafleche in their bid to become Kraft Hockeyville. No Saskatchewan town has won the honour before which really is somewhat surprising.  Let's get the whole province behind this and make Lafleche Hockeyville!

--I can't even start to guess what must have been going through the mind of young Braden Halladay Saturday afternoon as he stood on the mound as a member of Canada's National Junior team to face the Blue Jay. Braden is the son of the great Roy Halladay who was tragically taken from us late last year. If you saw the game, you saw a young Roy on the mound.  All he did was do what his dad had done many times in his career, that is put down the other team 1-2-3. One can only wonder what dad would have been thinking had he been there

By the way, if you missed Arash Madani's feature on Braden, it was outstanding and can be seen right here. 

--The Raptors need to stop whining. I am sure they had calls go against them when they were on a 12 game win streak. They had calls go against them Sunday and they imploded.  If they want to be considered as a championship calibre team, they need to grow up and stop complaining.  They also need to recognize that some days they just aren't the best team as was the case Sunday when they lost to Oklahoma City. 

--Rory McIlroy says he is tired of fan behaviour on the course and wonders if alcohol sales should be limited.  McIlroy became agitated with a fan who kept yelling his wife's name during the 3rd round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  We have seen golfers get mad before because of fan behaviour and earlier this year Justin Thomas had someone removed who was a little too exuberant.  At a football game, you cut alcohol sales off at the 3rd quarter, at a hockey game its after the 2nd period and I think at a baseball game its after the 7th. What are you supposed to do with golf? Everyone is moving around so you can't say after the 12th hole sales are cut off.  Fans that pay their money ( even the stupid ones) can act in an idiotic manner if they so choose.  Fans around them can police that behaviour somewhat if they want to.  I think McIlroy's pleas will go on deaf ears unless golf wants to charge an exorbitant amount of money for beer and whatever. By the way, Rory won so it couldn't been that much of a bother to him.

--That's all I got. Have a great week!