Monday, October 23, 2017

Brendon Labatte Signs Four Year Contract Extension

Image result for brendon labatte

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced national offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte has signed a four-year contract extension to remain with the team through the 2021 season.       

LaBatte (6’4 – 304 lbs.) is currently in his tenth CFL season and sixth with the Riders after joining the team as a free agent in February, 2012. To date, the University of Regina product has started 83 of 85 regular season games, four playoff games, and one Grey Cup for the Green and White. 

Before joining the Riders, the 31-year-old Weyburn, SK native spent four seasons, playing 70 regular-season games, two playoff games and the 2011 Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after the team selected him in the first round (6th overall) of the 2008 CFL Draft.

LaBatte is a seven-time division all-star, four-time CFL all-star and was named CFL most outstanding offensive lineman in 2013. He won his first Grey Cup in 2013 as a member of the Roughriders.     

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Stamkos, Kucherov, Couture

 Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov and San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 22.

Stamkos posted four multi-point games, compiling a League-leading nine assists and 11 points (2-9—11) to power the Lightning (7-1-1, 15 points) to a 3-0-1 week and first place in the overall NHL standings. He collected two assists in a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings Oct. 16, three points (1-2—3) in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils Oct. 17 and two more helpers in a 2-0 triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 19. Stamkos capped the week with 1-3—4, including the winning goal and his ninth career four-point performance, in a 7-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins Oct. 21. The 27-year-old Markham, Ont., native has registered at least one point in all nine of his appearances this season, pacing the NHL with 15 assists and 18 points. Stamkos is the first player to average at least two points through his team’s first nine games of a season since 2012-13, when Thomas Vanek accomplished the feat with the Buffalo Sabres (8-11—19 in 9 GP).

Kucherov shared the League lead with five goals and ranked second with eight points (5-3—8) in four outings to help the Lightning equal their best nine-game start to a season in franchise history (also 7-1-1 in 2003-04). He scored in each of his first two contests of the week, recording 2-0—2 (including the game-winning goal) in a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings Oct. 16 and 1-1—2 in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Devils Oct. 17. In doing so, Kucherov became the sixth player in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) – and first since 1992-93 – to register at least one goal in each of his club’s first seven games of a season. He then added one assist in a 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets Oct. 19 and 2-1—3 in a 7-1 triumph against the Penguins Oct. 21. The 24-year-old Maykop, Russia, native also has posted at least one point in each of his first nine outings this season, tying for the League lead with 10 goals and placing second with 16 points.

Couture ranked third in the NHL with 5-2—7 in three games to lead the Sharks (3-4-0, 6 points) to a pair of wins. He posted 2-2—4, his third career four-point outing, in a 5-2 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 17. After being held off the scoresheet in a 3-0 victory against the Devils Oct. 20, Couture notched his second career hat trick (also March 29, 2016 at VAN) in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders Oct. 21. The 28-year-old Guelph, Ont., native has collected 185-199—384 in 511 career NHL games, including a team-high 6-2—8 in seven contests this season.

(NHL Media) 

Something To "Mitch" About

OH MY GOODNESS!!  Where do you start!  Was it just me or did the coffee taste better Saturday morning? Did the air seem fresher Saturday and was everyone in a good mood.  It is amazing what beating the Calgary Stampeders can do for a fan-base. Of course, win or lose no one can seemingly bother to use a signal light in this city when out and about, but that is another story for another time.

As one person said on my Twitter account Friday night once the 30-7 beatdown of the Stampeders was over, is it nicer seeing the Riders win or just seeing Calgary lose.  It may be the latter!  What a night at McMahon and what a night for the man who orchestrated it all--the one and only Chris Jones.

The man in charge once again showed he is a riverboat gambler, and methinks he sucked all of us in this week. It took a while to figure it out, but once the pieces came into place, it all came into shape.

While we knew about the events of Monday's practice with the Duron Carter-Sam Williams fight, I had no idea that Carter had been working out with the defensive backs at that get-together.  Those who were in attendance at said practice obviously didn't either or else something would have been said.  I don't know if the "scrap" was part of the plan, but Chris Jones took all the focus away from his football team and how to beat Calgary and put it all on Carter's shoulders and his own.  The questions didn't revolve about how to stop Jerome Messam, how to rebound from the tough loss to Ottawa, how do you beat the Stampeders juggernaut, etc. etc. etc  It was all Duron Carter and how is he going to play in a completely foreign position.  It was all "Is Chris Jones crazy?" Why are you doing this. As we saw, the plan worked to perfection. Did it ever! Not only did it allow his team to concentrate on the task at hand, it made Calgary go "HUH?" and frankly, lose their focus somewhat.

The Riders just went out and did their thing. They went out and they slapped the CFL bullies right in the mouth and this just in, they didn't respond well.  The shenanigans at the end of the first half and the game proved that.  Do you think Calgary is relishing a possible date in the Western final against that team?  One has to wonder how Winnipeg is feeling as well after seeing that result especially after losing to the Argos in front of a few hundred fans.

While Duron Carter has made many plays in his one year in Rider green, it is safe to say his pick-six of Bo Levi Mitchell will go down as one of the biggest plays of the season and one of the biggest plays we have seen in Riderville since Darian Durant hit Geroy Simon for his first touchdown of Grey Cup 2013.  If the Riders were to somehow end this season with a Grey Cup, the Carter TD could be equated with the Kerry Joseph QB draw in the 2007 Labour Day Classic.   As Carter twisted and turned his way through the Calgary offence, I don't think there was any Rider fan or CFL fan who were amazed at what they saw. As expected, the internet exploded with Bo Levi's chirp at Carter being the focus of attention.  The TD call from Rod Pedersen which is punctuated by a "SHUT YOUR MOUTH BO LEVI" is the call of the year and one that went viral in the hours that followed.

While Mitchell did take his fair share of grief for the pick-six, he was also gracious enough to go back to Twitter after the game to praise the Riders and Carter. You can dislike the guy all you want, but you do have to respect him.  He is good for the CFL, and that can't be denied.  Carter is also good for the CFL, but the difference between himself and Mitchell is quite vast as you know.

The next month is going to be a lot of fun in these parts as playoff football has returned.

--Playoff football is in the Rams future as well, but will that playoff game be in Regina or not.  For whatever reason, the Rams were not ready to go Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium as they were down 24-0 just 9 and a half minutes in.  Give credit to Steve Bryce's crew as they fought back to make a game of it, but when Calgary needed a play late in the 4th quarter on offence or defence they got it.  It is why one team is 7-0, and the other is 4-3.  The Rams know they will play UBC in the playoffs and they know the winner of next week's finale at TBirds Stadium will have home-field for that game.

--While playoff football is in the Rams future, the Thunder will look to next year as their season ended in Saskatoon Sunday as the Hilltops won yet another PFC Championship with a national title likely to follow.  The Thunder were down 6 in the 4th quarter, but they couldn't find a way to beat the Toppers with the final being 36-24. Congrats to them as the beat just doesn't stop.

--After the Rams game, I went by the old Mosaic Stadium once again to get a look at the place in its final days. It really is surreal to see the building in the shape it is in now knowing Rider Nation was still converging there less than a year ago.

This picture just sums it up with the old stadium being a skeleton now with the new one in all its glory standing behind it.  I have to think that by Easter, there won't be any remnants of the old girl as a big vacant lot will stand where so many football memories were made for so many people.

--Just when we thought we were going to see a Dodgers-Yankees World Series, the Houston Astros decided to step in and remind everyone about their team. We will see two 100 win teams compete in the World Series for the first time since the 70's. That's hard to believe.  The Yankees couldn't get the hits when they needed them in Games 6 and 7, and when they did get some hits, the Houston defence snuffed out scoring opportunities.  Center fielder George Springer thought he was Devon White with some of the catches he made in the final two games. The Dodgers will be favoured in the World Series as they should be after dispatching the Cubs in the NLCS.  As a baseball fan, I think we just ask for Clayton Kershaw to go up against Justin Verlander in a Game 7 because that would be fantastic.  The decision by the Astros to get Verlander has certainly paid off.

--The much-hyped Super Bowl rematch was a dud.  New England owned Atlanta on a foggy night in Foxboro.  I am starting to wonder if the Falcons have really recovered from that 4th quarter collapse at the Super Bowl because they have really looked nothing like the team that were oh so close to winning it all last year.

Meanwhile, NFL fans should be thankful that the New York Giants will play Cleveland . Both of those teams just re-define horrid. Speaking of the Giants. it was a historic day for football in this province at Met-Life Stadium when the Seahawks met the G-Men. I believe it is the first time in history two Saskatchewan boys (Jon Ryan & Brett Jones) have faced one another in an NFL game.  That is an accomplishment all in itself with many having a right to be very proud.

--The one thing I didn't want to have happen for the Regina Pats is happening.  A fan-base got spoiled after last season with some believing this team should be dominating the way it did last year.  The question being asked of this guy is "When does Paddock start making his moves?" It won't be for a while yet, but when it happens, this team will be more than capable of not only getting back to the Ed Chynoweth Cup final, but representing themselves well at the Memorial Cup.

--Keep fighting Craig! Former Riders, now Bombers scout Craig Smith let us know this week he has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. The work has already started to try and win this battle. Knowing Craig, he will give it every ounce of strength he has and be back scouting talent across this country and the U-S in short order.  The football world is in the huddle with him as he starts this fight.  Kick cancer's ass Craig. We all know you can do it.  Oh yeah, f**k cancer!

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Too Little, Too Late For Regina Rams

 Courtesy: Piper Sports Photography

After 10 minutes of play, it looked as if the University of Calgary Dinos were going to have no problem with the University of Regina Rams in Canada West football play at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but the home team had other ideas.

The Dinos jumped out to a 24-0 lead, but Regina fought back and had a chance in the final two minutes to win before falling 42-30 to the number 2 ranked team in Canada to put their record at 4-3 with Calgary now 7-0

Regina cut the lead to 26-14 at the half and had reduced Calgary’s lead to 5, but they could not take the lead with their last hope coming in the game’s final moments but a potential game-winning drive was snuffed out by Calgary who scored a touchdown in the final seconds for the 12 point margin of victory.

Mitch Picton had a huge day for Regina as the Riders draft pick had 10 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns while Atlee Simon continued his torrid pace running the ball as he had 181 yards on the ground.

Regina quarterback Noah Picton became the all-time leading passer in Canada West history, surpassing former Ram Teale Orban’s career total of 9,449 yards early in the contest. He finished the game with 299 passing yards, bringing his career total to 9,736 with one game left in the 2017 season.

The Rams, who have already clinched a playoff spot, will finish the season next Saturday afternoon in Vancouver as they meet the UBC Thunderbirds.

The scenario is simple: a Regina win clinches second place and home field for the Rams, while a UBC victory would do the same for the Thunderbirds. Either way, the Rams and UBC will meet in the postseason for the right to play for the Hardy Cup.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Depth Charts For Friday's Riders-Stampeders Game

620 CKRM's game-day coverage starts at 4 with kickoff at 7 

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Home Schedule – Friday
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 6:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 8:00 PM (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Saturday
Women’s Soccer – vs. Winnipeg, 12:00 PM (U of R Field)
Rams Football – vs. Calgary, 2:00 PM (Mosaic Stadium)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 5:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 7:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)

Home Schedule – Sunday
Women’s Soccer – vs. Manitoba, 12:00 PM (U of R Field)

Away Schedule – Friday
Men’s Basketball – at Thompson Rivers, 3:00 PM PDT (Kamloops, B.C.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Thompson Rivers, 5:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Hockey – at UBC, 7:00 PM PDT (Vancouver, B.C.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Cross Country – at Sask Athletics Age Group Championships (Yorkton, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – vs. UBC Okanagan, 11:00 AM PDT (Kamloops, B.C.)
Men’s Hockey – at UBC, 2:00 PM PDT (Vancouver, B.C.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Victoria, 7:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)

Rams Football (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 8) – The Rams (4-2) clinched a playoff spot after emerging victorious in what was the highest-scoring game in team history, outlasting Alberta for a 58-55 double-overtime road win on Saturday afternoon. Atlee Simon became the school’s all-time touchdown king and was named the Canada West Offensive Player of the Week, Mitchell Picton took over as the U of R’s career leader in touchdown catches, and Daniel Scraper earned Canada West Special Teams Player of the Week honours after drilling a 26-yard game-winning field goal in the second extra session. The Rams will take a crack at unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Calgary (6-0) this Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:00.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars (3-1-0-0) vaulted into a tie for first place in the Canada West standings with a big six-point weekend against Mount Royal, taking a 4-2 win on Friday and a 3-2 win on Saturday. Jaycee Magwood and Jensen Smigelsky both had three-point weekends to lead the way offensively for the Cougars, who are right back at home this weekend with games against the team they’re tied with for tops in the conference standings. They’ll play UBC on Friday night and Saturday night at The Co-operators Centre, with both games set to start at 7:00.

Women’s Volleyball – Now finished with the non-conference schedule after a pair of tune-up matches against Saskatchewan at Ochapowace First Nation, the Cougars will move into Canada West play beginning this weekend at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport. The Cougars will host Calgary on Friday night (6:00) and Saturday night (7:00) to start off the conference schedule.

Men’s Volleyball – Now in their 40th season of intervarsity competition and 17th season as full members of Canada West, the Cougars lift the lid on the conference schedule this weekend with two matches against the University of Calgary. The Cougars, who played a non-conference schedule consisting of tournaments hosted by Brandon and the U of R, will meet the Dinos on Friday night (8:00) and Saturday night (5:00) at the CKHS.

Women’s Soccer – The Cougars (0-6-6) suffered a 5-0 loss to Canada West-leading Trinity Western last Friday, but battled Fraser Valley to a hard-fought 1-1 draw on Saturday thanks in large part to a goal in the 63rd minute by Daniela Castro. The Cougars still have a chance to qualify for the playoffs but will need wins over both Winnipeg and Manitoba this weekend combined with a Saskatchewan win over Manitoba. The Cougars will battle the Wesmen on Saturday and the Bisons on Sunday. Both games are scheduled for a noon start at the U of R Field.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars (1-2-1) had a three-point road weekend at Mount Royal, taking a 7-6 shootout win on Friday before losing 5-4 on Saturday in another shootout. Brody Luhning and Ian McNulty both had four-point weekends for the Cougars, with Luhning racking up four assists and McNulty scoring a goal and adding three helpers. Regina heads to the West Coast this weekend for a pair of games against a 1-3-0 UBC squad.

Women’s Basketball – The Cougars marched through their second straight three-win weekend with home victories over Windsor (79-46), Saskatchewan (74-73), and Brandon (107-55) to take the Cougar Classic title. The team now has a 7-1 non-conference record and will take a seven-game winning streak into Calgary this weekend, where they’ll play Thompson Rivers and Victoria in two of their final three tune-up contests before Canada West play starts.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars travelled east for the second consecutive weekend, this time playing in the Naismith Classic at the University of Waterloo. After losses to Ottawa and Wilfrid Laurier to start out the tournament, the Cougars finished off with a nice 93-75 win over host Waterloo to improve their non-conference record to 2-4 on the season. The Cougars will play Thompson Rivers and UBC Okanagan this Friday and Saturday at the WolfPack Invitational in Kamloops, B.C.

Cross Country – Adam Strueby was second overall and the first U SPORTS runner across the line on Saturday at the Vikes Invitational in Victoria with a 10K time of 31:17. Alex Eiswerth and Marc Turmel finished in 10th place and 11th place with times of 32:20 and 32:21, respectively, to help the Cougars place fourth in the tightly packed team standings. The Cougars will send a small crew to the Sask Athletics Age Group Championships this Saturday in Yorkton.

Swimming – The Cougars had their first meet of the 2017-18 season over the weekend at the Lawson Aquatic Centre. Brian Palaschuk won both the 100-metre freestyle and the 100-metre backstroke at the Fall Break Out, while newcomer Etienne Paquin-Foisy took first in the 100-metre butterfly and Noah Wasyliw won the 100-metre breaststroke. Eva Madar led the women’s team with first-place efforts in both the 100-metre freestyle and the 100-metre butterfly. The Cougars will now prepare for the Colleges Cup Pacific, which will be hosted by UBC on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4.

Braden Konschuh
Sports Information Director
University of Regina

This And That

Welcome to Friday!  Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

--As the Riders go into Calgary tonight to play the Stampeders, I think it is safe to say this has been the most interesting and perhaps the most chaotic week the team has had under Chris Jones' watch.  It all started with the fight Monday involving Duron Carter.  One that had the enigmatic receiver sending Rider Nation into a frenzy with one cryptic seven-word tweet and one that will end with Carter playing receiver and defensive back against the Stamps.  What happened Monday? We will never know.  We know Carter and Sam Williams were involved, but that is it.  The team isn't talking about it, the coaches aren't talking it and everyone just wants to forget it.  If it wasn't Carter that was involved, it probably would be by now. 

As Chris Jones mentioned on Tuesday, boys will be boys and fights will happen. It is part of football. This team is fired up coming down the homestretch. Did Carter's attitude have anything to do what happened? Whether it did or it didn't, it doesn't matter because it shows an intensity around here that wasn't around last year when the team's fate was basically sealed by this time.  Yes, I have questions as to why Carter is playing on the corner against a good Calgary offence in what is a big game, but there is a method to Chris Jones' madness.

  Like he has numerous times in his short tenure here, he is rolling the dice. On some it has worked, on others it hasn't.  The one thing that can't be denied is he has all eyes on his football team again this weekend. The CFL won't admit it, but they love it.  The Riders move the needle much the way the Yankees do in MLB, the Patriots do in the NFL and the Leafs do in the NHL.  When people are talking about the Riders, they are talking about the CFL. It makes me wonder if the CFL would get more attention if Carter's antics were happening with him being a member of the Argos. You can't tell me it wouldn't help! No one at the league office is complaining when TSN leads its afternoon Sportscenter with the latest in Riderville because everyone who is a CFL fan is watching and those who aren't have to have a passing interest. 

What if Carter makes some impact plays on "D"? If he were to grab a pick six, Bo Levi Mitchell's Twitter account would be rudely assaulted by Rider fans. BLM threw the first salvo which Carter graciously accepted and threw back. Any chance Rider Nation has to chirp BLM is one they will take and like it or not, the Calgary quarterback is ready for it.  Like him or not, what he does on Twitter to get the fires rising is what the CFL needs.  It is harmless fun!  It is why we need more of this. 

--As we approach the final 3 weeks of the CFL season, here is a look at the standings if you seeded teams 1-9 

1. Calgary    27 pts
2. Winnipeg  22 pts
3. Edmonton 18 pts
4. Saskatchewan 16 pts
5. Ottawa 15 pts
6. Toronto 14 pts 
7. BC 12 pts
8. Hamilton 8 pts
9. Montreal 6 pts

We know that there will be a crossover team and that Calgary and either Ottawa or Toronto will get a first round bye as winners of the East.  IF you went 1-9, you would see the Stamps and Bombers would have a first round bye with Edmonton playing Toronto and Ottawa in Saskatchewan for Round 1.  However, going into the final 3 weeks BC would still have a shot and so would Ottawa and Toronto in a quest to get a first-round playoff game.  A Riders home playoff game would be there now, but would it be there after the weekend? There is a lot more drama in the 1-9 scenario than what we are currently getting.  While I know many want the current format to stay, there are many others who want change including me. 

--The Gordon Hayward injury from Tuesday night is absolutely horrific.  It might be one of the worst ones I've seen. The only one worse may be from the 2007 Vanier Cup when a running back from Manitoba suffered a gruesome broken leg.  When it was shown on the big screen at Skydome, a collective "OHHHHHHHH" came out from what was a good-sized crowd.  Many outlets decided not to show the sight of Hayward sitting on the court with his ankle and leg not looking the way it should.  It's out there if you haven't seen it. If you are squeamish, don't look for it.  If not, have at er, but be warned!

--Can we just fast forward the NHL season and have the Leafs play Vegas for the Stanley Cup? Meanwhile, Oilers fans like me are wondering what exactly is happening as the start has not been what we were expecting.  Connor McDavid has only scored in one game, the defence has been horrible and the goaltending has been sub-standard.  From what I have seen, the decision to trade Jordan Eberle instead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a mistake as RNH continues to play soft as he did in the Carolina game. Perhaps its the fact the Oilers are wearing those ugly orange uniforms at home instead of the traditional blue . Change it back! Maybe an OT win in Chicago will start turning the fortunes around. 

--While the Riders are in Calgary, the University of Calgary will be in Regina this weekend.  Much like the CFL, the road to the title will go through Calgary. The Dinos are 6-0 on the season so the 4-2 Rams have a huge challenge in front of them.  It will be a tough test for a Regina defence that has given up a lot of points in its last two games, but if Noah Picton and company can find a way to get 35-40 points, I like their chances. It is going to be a lot of fun Saturday at Mosaic. Game time is 2. Get out there and watch the likes of Noah Picton, Mitch Picton, Atlee Simon, Danny Nesbitt and Nick Dheilly. 

--On Sunday in Saskatoon, the Thunder and Hilltops will meet again for all the PFC marbles. It will be meeting #3 on the year between the two with each team having won on the road. This will be an outstanding football game with the winner likely going on in a couple of weeks to take the Canadian Bowl.  I am sure a lot of Regina fans will make the trip north and I am sure they will be met by many Hilltops fan to make it another October afternoon to remember with a lot on the line.

--Week 7 NFL Lock Of The Week --- Cowboys over 49ers
   Week 7 NFL Upset Of The Week --- Packers over Saints

The Sunday night game has the Falcons in New England in a rematch of last year's Super Bowl. It doesn't matter what the score is after three quarters, KEEP WATCHING! 

--It's been very quiet in Calgary since the re-election of Naheed Nenshi as mayor.  Yes, some members of the Flames weren't happy about it and voiced that displeasure on Twitter, but it would appear the Flames camp is either re-grouping or pouting. Whatever it is, the team should look to get a new person in front of the camera.  Ken King isn't going to help the cause any.  In my opinion, he should be replaced as the face of this fight.  I'm not the only one that feels that way as some in Calgary believe the same thing. If not, this situation won't improve anytime soon.

--RIP Gord Downie. The impact you had on many in this country is immense. Your music will keep your memory alive for years.

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