Friday, November 16, 2018

This and That

--Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.

--The dirt has been placed on the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2018 coffin.  At least I think it has.  The conversation about why this team has basically centred on the inability of the offence to move the football.  As a friend said to me earlier this week, imagine the 2013 offence with this defence.   Having the likes of Durant, Dressler, Sheets and Getzlaf to be on the other side of the ball from Jefferson, Hughes, Gainey and Eguavoen would have been a formidable force indeed, but it's not happening.

While Rider fans are optimistic about what the team can do if (and its a big IF) they can retain some of their key free agents, I am left to wonder about the CFL as a whole and what type of players we will see in the league when training camps open in May if they open.

As Chris Jones alluded to during his Tuesday end-of-season news conference, it is becoming tougher and tougher to find players because of the new Alliance of American Football.  Not only will the NFL take away some players who are CFL free agents, but so will the AAF.  By listening to what Jones had to say Tuesday and what others have said already, getting a player to continue his career in Canada is no longer an easy thing to do.   What does this mean for the quality of play in the league?  You could drop the number of Americans and add more Canadians, but would the fan appetite be there.   If Rider fans aren't going to come to Rams games, are they going to come games with more USports grads just because it is professional football?

Those efforts to recruit players are also being sabotaged by a league that is putting a salary cap on football operations staff and no longer allowing mini-camps.  That is a head-scratcher.  Scouts may find themselves out of work and players that can be found at mini-camps will no longer be found at a time when you are trying to get talent.  The league seemingly is draining that opportunity away.  It makes no sense to this blogger.

--When it comes to 2019, there are many questions the Riders will have to answer in the following months with the biggest one perhaps being who is the quarterback.   I don't see Zach Collaros or Brandon Bridge being back.  When it comes to Collaros, I am almost certain he won't be back.  I found it interesting that on Tuesday, the Riders trotted out Willie Jefferson, Marcus Thigpen and Brandon Bridge to speak to reporters.  Where was Collaros?  Where was the team's highest paid player? Apparently, he flew out Monday night or Tuesday morning.   Hmmmmmmm!  I guess he wanted to hightail it out of Dodge as quickly as he could.  Good on Bridge for coming in and answering questions as well.  He could have declined after his performance on Sunday, but he stood at the podium and answered every question.

While fans sit there and wonder what the plan is at quarterback, I have to wonder if that guy is right under their nose.   How would you feel with Nick Marshall being the quarterback in 19?  He can play the position and play it quite well. He did quarterback Auburn to an appearance in the 2015 national championship before losing to Florida State.  I think Jones, John Murphy and Jeremy O'Day can find a defensive back to replace Marshall on the corner.  It is no secret this team has to develop a young quarterback.  That young QB may already be here with a year under his belt despite the fact he spent a majority of his time on defence.

--Fans also aren't happy with the fact offensive co-ordinator Stephen McAdoo will be back.  Did you really expect he wouldn't be? He has been tied to the hip of Jones for years.  He was the OC of the team that won the Grey Cup with Jones in 15 and he was the OC of the team that led the league in touchdown passes in 2017. I don't think his schemes and gameplans have changed.  It can all be traced back to Collaros, who as Rod Pedersen rightly stated on the Sportscage was maybe never ever at 100 percent. 

Go back to the hit that almost folded him in two during the pre-season game against Calgary.  A couple of weeks later he was hurt in Ottawa although it was revealed he had been hurt from that hit against the Stamps.  You know the rest of the story.   It makes me wonder if we ever saw the real Collaros.  It also makes me wonder if we had gotten Jeremiah Masoli from Hamilton if this team might have won 14 or more games this year.

--Enough about the Riders.  Let's go to the division finals this weekend.  I have Calgary and Hamilton, but I have done some flip-flopping on the Eastern final.  At the end of the day, I think the Ti-Cats can get it done, but if it comes down to a Lewis Ward field goal chance at the end, Ottawa will be on their way to Commonwealth.   As for the West Final, Winnipeg squeaked past a Saskatchewan team that had very little to no offence.  They now face Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps.  The Bombers haven't won a meaningful contest in Calgary since 2003. They are 3-19 against Calgary since 2009 and two of those wins were at the end of the season when teams knew their playoff fates.  Calgary takes it.

--What do we think of the decision by the CFL to add an 8th official? Yes, if like me you just shake your head.  As the CFLPA basically stated "Is this the best you can do"?  They aren't even giving this extra official a flag.  He will just be an added body on the field.  This is why the CFL gets mocked the way it does and the thing is they have no one to blame but themselves. 

--Week 11 NFL Lock of the Week -- Saints over Eagles
--Week 11 NFL Upset of the Week -- Titans over Colts

--I just want to make sure I have this right. Sportsnet is the home of the NHL, but TSN does the Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies live  TSN is home of the CFL, but you won't see the CFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony live.  Will we see the player awards live this year next week in Edmonton?  Do I just over-think some of this stuff?

--No names will be mentioned on either side, but there are some really good CFL/Rider podcasts out there and some really bad ones.  I had the misfortune to check out a really bad one this week.  What CFL/Rider podcasts do you check out?  How many do you listen to?

--Both Alberta NHL teams should be playing their number 2 goalies a lot more. Is Cam Talbot or Mike Smith a bigger disaster?  Greasy doesn't even start to describe the game-winner by the Habs at the Saddledome Thursday night.

--When Montreal is in Western Canada, their fans come out in droves as you know.  I asked Global Edmonton's Quinn Phillips ( the daughter of the legendary Oiler broadcaster Rod Phillips)  this week if its more annoying when Montreal or Toronto comes to town.  She didn't hesitate to say Toronto and say it with great authority. I agree!

--Some day the Green Bay Packers will win in Seattle, but Thursday was not that day.  Mwah hah hah!!

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

CFL Adding Official For Divisional Finals & Grey Cup To Protect QB's

The Canadian Football League released a statement regarding player health and safety on Thursday:

“An eighth official whose only responsibility is to watch for any blows delivered to the head or neck of a quarterback, one of the most vulnerable players on the field, will be added for this weekend’s Eastern and Western Finals and the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, the Canadian Football League has announced.

The change comes after a high hit to Saskatchewan Roughrider quarterback Brandon Bridge, which should have been assessed a penalty for roughing the passer, was not flagged during last weekend’s Western Semi-Final game. Video from a camera worn by the Head Referee revealed his view had been blocked by a different player.

“It is very important that this sort of potentially dangerous play is penalized on the field in addition to being subject to supplementary discipline. Not only is it important to the integrity of the game, it can act as a deterrent,”  said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

“That is why we are adding an additional set of eyes, with a strictly limited but well defined mandate, to our officiating crew. No system is fail safe and no human is incapable of error. And nothing we do on player safety should be held up as the ultimate solution. Our approach must constantly evolve. But we believe this is a step forward. We will continue to look for ways to not only penalize dangerous play but, more importantly, prevent it.”

The decision to act was made after the issue of quarterback safety was discussed this week with the nine CFL member clubs and this particular proposal was presented yesterday to the four clubs still in contention for Canadian professional football’s ultimate prize, the Grey Cup.

“I want to thank the clubs for their input and counsel. I especially want to acknowledge the view of some that making a change in the middle of the playoffs has some significant risks,” Ambrosie said.

“I understand and even sympathize to a large extent with that position. Making changes at this point is another variable coaches and players and even officials, all of whom are under pressure at this critical time of year, have to consider.  But we ultimately came to the conclusion that this step is needed at this time. We have done much over the years to protect quarterbacks, including rule changes. This year, we increased fines and even imposed suspensions. We tweaked our officiating protocols to assign to umpires as well as head referees the responsibility for detecting and calling high hits to the quarterback. But it is clear we need to do more.”

If the eighth official sees a blow to the head or neck of the quarterback that has not already been flagged, he will advise the Head Referee, who can then assess a penalty for roughing the passer. The eighth official will have no other responsibilities and cannot suggest or call a penalty for other infractions. The role of the eighth official will be filled by someone who has experience as a head referee.

“After the Grey Cup, we will assess this change as part of a complete review of what we are doing, and what else might be done,  to protect quarterbacks and improve health and safety for all of our players,” Ambrosie said.

“The addition of an eighth official may prove to be an interim step. It may become part of a broader package of reforms which may include changes to the mandate of the Command Centre. That will be determined by a process that will include our Canadian Football League Players’ Association, our Rules Committee, our officials and our governors. The process of improving player health and safety is very important to us and it never ends.”

Week 11 NFL Preview

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The NFL has entered the second half of the season and the excitement is building as playoff races tighten.

Seventeen teams are currently in or within one game of playoff position, including nine teams that did not advance to the postseason in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. But a slow start does not mean a team can be counted out. Since 1990, 27 teams have qualified for the playoffs with a losing record through nine games.

Five teams are currently riding win steaks of at least four games, led by the New Orleans Saints, which have won eight consecutive games. The Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers have both won six straight games, while Pittsburgh and Kansas City have won five and four consecutive games, respectively. The Texans, which began the season 0-3, are the second team since 1970 to win six consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start, joining the 1970 New York Giants.

Last week, 19 of the league’s 28 starting quarterbacks (67.9 percent) recorded a passer rating of 100 or higher (minimum 15 attempts), the most in a single week in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of 17 set in Week 2 of the 2018 season.    Four quarterbacks - Pittsburgh's BEN ROETHLISBERGER (158.3), Cleveland's BAKER MAYFIELD (151.2), New Orleans' DREW BREES (150.4) and Chicago's MITCHELL TRUBISKY (148.6) - recorded a passer rating of at least 145 (minimum 20 attempts) in Week 10. The four quarterbacks with a 145+ passer rating (minimum 20 attempts) last week were the most in a single week in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of three which occurred four different times, most recently in Week 3 of the 2017 season.

One of the season’s most anticipated matchups takes place on ESPN’s Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET), as the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) take on the Los Angeles Rams (9-1) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a battle of two of the league’s top contenders. This is the fifth meeting between teams with one or fewer losses in Week 11 or later since 1970 and the first since November 17, 2013 (Denver (8-1) vs. Kansas City (9-0)).

Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES (3,150 passing yards, 117.4 passer rating) and Rams quarterback JARED GOFF (3,134 passing yards, 113.0 passer rating) rank first and second, respectively, in the NFL in passing yards and are two of only eight quarterbacks in league history with at least 3,000 passing yards and a 110+ passer rating in their team’s first 10 games of a season. Each of the previous six quarterbacks to accomplish the feat captured Associated Press Most Valuable Player honors in their respective seasons.

Below are highlights of the Week 11 schedule:

Week 11 kicks off on Thursday night as the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to battle the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime). Packers running back AARON JONES rushed for 145 yards on 15 carries (9.7 average), including two rushing touchdowns, in Green Bay’s 31-12 victory over Miami in Week 10. Jones is the second running back in franchise history to rush for at least 140 yards and two touchdowns on 15 or fewer carries, joining AHMAN GREEN (October 24, 2004 vs. Dallas). Seahawks quarterback RUSSELL WILSON has thrown at least three touchdown passes and recorded a passer rating of 120 or higher in four of his past five games.

The Houston Texans and Washington Redskins square off in a battle of first-place teams at FedExField (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Texans wide receiver DE ANDRE HOPKINS had 10 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s Week 9 win at Denver. Since 2017, Hopkins has four games with at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception, the most in the NFL over the span. Houston defensive end J.J. WATT ties for third in the league with nine sacks this season and is one of three players with at least eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss (11), joining the Rams’ AARON DONALD (12.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss) and the Vikings’ DANIELLE HUNTER (11.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss). Washington, led by defensive end MATT IOANNIDIS (7.5 sacks) and safety D.J. SWEARINGER (four interceptions), is tied for second in the NFC allowing 19.4 points per game.

The Indianapolis Colts welcome the Tennessee Titans to Lucas Oil Stadium in a key AFC South contest (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Titans quarterback MARCUS MARIOTA passed for 228 yards with two touchdowns, rushed for 21 yards and had a 21-yard reception in Tennessee’s Week 10 win over New England. Mariota became the third quarterback in league history with at least 200 passing yards, 20 rushing yards and 20 receiving yards in a single game, joining Carolina’s CAM NEWTON (December 4, 2011) and Chicago’s JIM MC MAHON (October 21, 1984). Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK threw three touchdown passes in the Colts’ 29-26 victory against Jacksonville last week and is one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to record at least six consecutive games with three or more touchdown passes in a single season, joining TOM BRADY (10 consecutive games in 2007) and PEYTON MANNING (eight in 2004). Brady and Manning were each named Associated Press Most Valuable Player in those respective seasons.

On Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints (4:25 PM ET, FOX) in a showdown of 2017 NFC playoff teams. Philadelphia quarterback CARSON WENTZ is one of two players in the NFL (Atlanta’s MATT RYAN) to average at least 300 passing yards per game (306.9) while completing at least 70 percent of his passes (71.0) this season. Saints quarterback DREW BREES leads the league with a 77.3 completion percentage which is on pace to surpass the NFL record of 72.0 percent, which was set by Brees last season, by 5.3 percentage points.

​Sunday’s nightcap is a battle for first place in the NFC North between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN has 78 catches this season, tied with New Orleans’ MICHAEL THOMAS (78) for the most in the NFL. Thielen and Thomas, along with Philadelphia’s ZACH ERTZ (75), join JULIO JONES (80 catches in 2015), and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (75 in 2002) as the only players in NFL history with at least 75 catches in their team’s first nine games of a season. Chicago quarterback MITCHELL TRUBISKY recorded a 148.6 passer rating in the Bears’ Week 10 win over Detroit and is one of two NFL quarterbacks (CAM NEWTON) this season with a 100+ passer rating (101.6), at least 300 rushing yards (320) and three rushing touchdowns (three).

(All times eastern)
Bye: Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, New England, New York Jets, San Francisco
Thursday, November 15
Sunday, November 18 (cont’d)
Green Bay at Seattle, 8:20 PM (FOX/NFLN/Amazon)
Houston at Washington, 1:00 PM
Oakland at Arizona, 4:05 PM
Sunday, November 18
Denver at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 PM
Dallas at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:25 PM
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Minnesota at Chicago, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Carolina at Detroit, 1:00 PM

Tennessee at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Monday, November 19
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Kansas City at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 PM (ESPN)
Tampa Bay at New York Giants, 1:00 PM

(NFL Communications)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Kootenay Ice To Winnipeg?

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Many in the community of Cranbrook, B.C. say they are losing hope amid fears the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice is moving to Winnipeg.

“It opens up an old wound,” John Hudak told Global News Wednesday morning.

Hudak is the marketing director for the Green Bay Committee, a group of Cranbrook residents who have been working with the team to increase ticket sales and outreach.

However, the group ceased all further ticket sales Tuesday saying they’ve lost faith in the owners and amidst speculation the team being moved to the prairies.

“(We) haven’t heard from the Ice ownership if it will remain… their silence on the subject has become deafening.”

The group said it had raised around $50,000 that will now be refunded to those who have purchased future season tickets.

In a letter sent to Ice co-owner Matt Cockell on Tuesday, Hudak said they are disappointed in the new ownership.

“We believe that this failure has become the biggest obstacle in our ability to achieve a highly successful sales campaign and to create an effective steering committee. As a result, we are terminating our Green Bay Committee effective immediately.

Ice co-owners Greg Fettes (founder and CEO of Winnipeg-based 24-7 InTouch) and Matt Cockell purchased the franchise from Edmonton’s Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season. The prior owners had relocated the team to Cranbrook from Edmonton, AB in 1998.

In September, sources told Global News the owners of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice were planning to move the franchise to Winnipeg in time for next season.

Global News reached out to Fettes and the Western Hockey League at that time and received the following statement:

“The entire Kootenay Ice organization is focused on providing a premier experience for our players, corporate partners, and patrons in Cranbrook,” Fettes said to Global News via email on Sept. 9. “We look forward to another amazing season and continuing to build our relationship with the community of Cranbrook and the surrounding area.”

Fettes did not respond directly to questions about moving the team to Winnipeg. However, the majority owner did purchase two domain names, and, in April 2017 right after the initial sale of the team went through.

Both remain active.

Fettes has also partnered with Brad Rice, who opened Winnipeg’s The Rink Training Facility in 2009, and is building a new facility south of the city. Sources have told Global News a new 5,000 seat arena is planned to be developed on the site to accommodate the WHL team.

“As a fan, parent, and owner, I am passionate about hockey development in Winnipeg and across Canada. Because of this passion, I am involved with The Rink Player Development and their new facility at McGillivray and Loudon, including their expansion and development in the surrounding area,” Fettes told Global News in September.

The WHL confirmed it has not yet received an application from the owners to relocate the franchise. The league’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet in February 2019.

(Global Winnipeg)

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Thursday (all times CST)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (CKHS)

Friday (all times CST)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Manitoba, 12:00 PM (CKHS)
Men’s Basketball – vs. Manitoba, 2:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (CKHS)
Men’s Hockey – vs. Calgary, 7:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)
Women’s Hockey – at Calgary, 8:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)

Saturday (all times CST)
Men’s Hockey – vs. Calgary, 3:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)
Women’s Hockey – at Calgary, 4:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Manitoba, 4:00 PM (CKHS)
Men’s Basketball – vs. Manitoba, 6:00 PM (CKHS)

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars (4-4) enjoyed a big home weekend at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport with a pair of three-set wins over Thompson Rivers. Friday’s win over the WolfPack saw a pair of tightly contested sets, but Saturday’s victory saw the Cougars dominate in all aspects of the match and took just 65 minutes to settle. The U of R is back at home this weekend with a rare Thursday/Friday series, as they’ll take on UBC (3-5) starting at 7:00 on both nights at the CKHS.

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 9) – The Cougars (4-2) took two big road wins over Brandon last weekend, getting a team-high 21 points from Kyanna Giles in a 103-55 win on Friday and a 17-point, 10-rebound effort from Macaela Crone in a 90-50 victory on Saturday. The Cougars will play at the friendly confines of the CKHS this weekend against a Manitoba team that’s off to a strong start as the Bisons hold a 5-1 Canada West record through the first three weekends of conference play. The two teams will play at noon on Friday and at 4:00 PM on Saturday.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars (4-2) secured an important road sweep with a pair of wins over Brandon to run their winning streak to four games. Samuel Hillis had double-doubles in both games, while Brayden Kuski and Carter Millar both had career highs in points in Saturday’s 97-82 win over the Bobcats. Next up for the Cougars is Manitoba, as they’ll square off with the 2-4 Bisons on Friday afternoon (2:00) and Saturday night (6:00) at the CKHS.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars (4-5-0-1) were blanked twice by a strong Alberta team that’s now ranked No. 3 in the nation in this week’s U SPORTS Top 10. The Pandas skated to a 4-0 win on Friday and followed that up with a 5-0 victory on Saturday afternoon. Next up for the Cougars is a pair of road games against Calgary (1-8-0-1), with the two teams scheduled to play at Calgary’s Father David Bauer arena on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars (2-7-1) lost a pair of road games to No. 3-ranked Alberta last weekend in Edmonton, falling 6-0 to the Golden Bears on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday. The U of R will play its fifth and sixth straight games against ranked opposition this weekend, as the Cougars will host No. 5-ranked Calgary on Friday night (7:00) and Saturday afternoon (3:00) at The Co-operators Centre.

Cross Country – Greg Hetterley and Kaila Neigum were the top finishers on the men’s side and the women’s side, respectively, as the Cougars finished their 2018 season at the U SPORTS Championships in Kingston, Ont. Hetterley finished the 10K men’s race in a time of 33:18 to place 71st overall at the national meet, while Neigum placed 105th in the women’s standings with an 8K time of 31:52.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Jones Looks More To Future Than Past

Saskatchewan Roughriders Head Coach Chris Jones didn't really want to talk about his football team and what they had gone through in 2018 during a 23 minute session with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

While discussing what happened to his football team this year, Jones was more interested in talking about having to reduce the pay of his coaching staff and himself and in some cases eliminating some positions. 

It is not something Jones wants to do, but an edict from the CFL means all nine teams will have a salary cap of 2.738 million dollars when it comes to the 11 coaches and 17 other football operations employees they have. 

"The unfortunate reality is there are going to be about five or six people who won’t be with our organization anymore and for the rest of them who are here, some of their bonuses and things — the reasons why they came here — are being taken away plus six- to 10-per-cent pay cuts.” Jones said. "These are people that are like your family"

It was one of many things discussed during the 23 minutes.   Some of the other highlights

  • When asked if offensive co-ordinator Stephen McAdoo would return, Jones said "Absolutely". McAdoo took a lot of blame from fans for the team's efforts on offence this season---one that included the fact the Riders had a league-low 25 touchdowns and did not throw a touchdown pass in their last 23 quarters
  • The new American Alliance of Football is creating problems in signing players and that likely won't change when the second version of the XFL begins. 
  • Quarterbacks need to be protected and that perhaps ejections are needed if a quarterback or any player is guilty of delivering a hit to the head. 

Marcus Thigpen, Willie Jefferson and Brandon Bridge also spoke at the last scheduled availability of the season. 

Thigpen, who will avoid free agency after signing a one-year contract extension, says he wants to retire as a Rider and that the community, the fan-base and the dressing room under the watch of Jones is amazing. 

Jefferson, who is scheduled to be a free agent, says Saskatchewan is a place he would like to call home, but that he has to do what is best for him and his family whether it be the CFL, the AAF or NFL/ 

Bridge doesn't know if his football future will continue in Saskatchewan, but if he does return he needs to know that the coaches will roll with him through the good times and the bad.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Hartung Takes 2nd Berth For SaskTel Tankard

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Kody Hartung has become the second entrant into the 2019 SaskTel Tankard in Whitewood.

Hartung defeated Bruce Korte 6-4 in the final of a Saskatchewan Mens Curling Tour event at the Highland Club in Regina on the weekend to take the honour.

Hartung wasn't the only rink from Saskatchewan celebrating on the weekend.  Saskatoon's Kirk Muyres won the Grand Slam of Curling's Tour Challenge--Tier 2 side by going unbeaten throughout the week. Muyres capped it off  by beating Scott McDonald of Kingston, Ont. 8-3.  The rink takes home $10,000 plus a promotion to the 2019 Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask., with gas money and accommodation provided.

“This one’s marked on the calendar,” Muyres said. “We want to play a Slam in Saskatchewan any time we can and it’s only about an hour from home. To get to play one there is awesome. We obviously can’t wait and hopefully, we can put on a good show there.”

It’s the first year for the new club with Muyres, who previously played for Steve Laycock, making the move up to skip alongside his brother, Dallan Muyres, at lead and twins Kevin and Daniel Marsh at third and second, respectively. Captain Kirk has taken to skip duties like a fish to water with the team running the table here posting a perfect 7-0 record.

“It’s so good. We had a slow start and we were building and building,” Kirk said. “It’s my first year skipping, so it’s so tough to know if it was going to come together for us. The last few weeks it just start to and then today we just put on a dominating performance. It’s pretty nice to have these guys stick by me when I was learning to skip and now I’ve kind of got there but we can always get better from here.”