2010 was a very busy year in the Queen City when it came to sports. There was no shortage of headlines over the calendar year. What story was the biggest in your mind? I will let you decide. Read this post and then please vote on the poll that will stay up for the next week as I let you choose what the biggest Regina sports story of the year was
1. CHANGES IN THE FRONT OFFICE AT RIDERVILLE
The 2009 Rider season was an odd one for the fact that general manager Eric Tillman still worked for the team despite the fact he wasn’t at Mosaic Stadium. Tillman had been charged with sexual assault in an incident involving his babysitter. He was granted an absolute discharge and had no criminal record as he walked out of the courthouse in early January. Despite his innocence, Tillman and the football club decided he could no longer serve as general manager. He resigned a few days later and was replaced before January was over by Brendan Taman with Ken Miller assuming the role of vice president of football operations. Miller guided the team to another Grey Cup appearance, but just days after the loss to Montreal, Miller stepped down as head coach with his successor yet to be chosen.
2. 2010 ENDS THE SAME WAY AS 2009
After a heart-crushing defeat in the 2009 Grey Cup, the Riders came back in 2010 looking to avenge the defeat to the Alouettes and take what many felt was theirs had it not been for the unfortunate 13th man penalty. Some questioned if the Riders could get back to the big game after losing star defensive ends John Chick and Stevie Baggs and middle linebacker Rey Williams to the NFL along with the retirement of Eddie Davis. The team answered its nay-sayers by proving they were once again one of the top teams in the CFL. Darian Durant continued to show why he is the best young quarterback in the game. Andy Fantuz led the CFL in receiving yards which was the first time a Canadian player had done that in a decade. That translated into Fantuz being named the CFL’’s top Canadian. Those were just a couple of many honours the football team had. After an overtime win over B-C in the Western semi-final, the Riders went to Calgary and knocked off the Stampeders to get their much desired rematch against Montreal. The dream died on the Commonwealth Stadium turf though as the Alouettes beat the Riders to claim the CFL championship again.
3. SASKATCHEWAN WELCOMES THE WORLD
Regina and Saskatoon played host to the World Junior Hockey Championships. The Canadian team played a pair of exhibition games at the Brandt Centre with Reginans cheering loudly for the Pats duo of Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert who had once again made the team after winning gold in Ottawa the year before. While Canada played its round-robin games in Saskatoon, Reginans got treated to some great games courtesy of Sweden, Russia, Finland, the Czechs and Austria. In the end, the Americans took the gold medal in a dramatic overtime win over Canada, but it didn’t’ damper what was a tremendous performance both on and off the ice in both cities.
4. TRIPLE CROWN
One of the toughest things to do in baseball, if not the toughest thing to do is to lead your league in homeruns, RBI’s and batting average. Its called the Triple Crown. It has not been done in the majors since 1967. Regina Red Sox first baseman Mitch MacDonald accomplished the feat in 2010. The Regina born MacDonald had a season to remember as he led the Red Sox to their first ever division title. MacDonald hit .476 on the season with eight homers and 48 RBI’s. He was named the WMBL’s MVP for that performance.
5. SASKIES DO US PROUD IN VANCOUVER
The Vancouver Winter Olympics captured the imagination of all Canadians in February. If we weren’t in Vancouver watching some of it live, we were glued to our TV’s. Regina celebrated three gold medals in three different sports. Ryan Getzlaf took gold in mens hockey, Ben Hebert took gold in mens curling and Lucas Makowsky in speed-skating. The efforts of these three helped Canada to their best ever showing in a Winter Olympics.
6. PARKER DOESN’T TRADE EBERLE
Jordan Eberle was the best player to don the uniform of the Regina Pats in a long time. The Edmonton Oilers first round draft pick became a national celebrity after his heroics in a semi-final win over Russia at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa. He was one of the top players at the 2010 event in Saskatoon/Regina, but many in Regina wondered if their days of seeing Eberle in a Regina uniform were over. The team had made a trade for Lethbridge’s Carter Ashton in hopes that it could propel them into the playoffs. The gamble by GM Brent Parker fizzled as the team played terrible hockey in the time Eberle and Teubert were gone. It started the debate as to whether or not Parker should keep Eberle and Teubert or trade them away at the WHL trade deadline. Parker did not see a deal come his way that he thought would help his team in the long run and kept the two star players. The Pats didn’t make the playoffs. It’s a debate that many still engage in today as the team continues to flounder in the bottom half of the WHL’s Eastern Conference standings.
7. THE THUNDER ROLLS
When the Regina Rams left the world of junior football to the university ranks, it left a gaping hole in Regina football for a few years. The Regina Thunder were born a few years after the Rams left for the CIS and it took a long time for them to garner some respectability in the Prairie Football Conference. For whatever reason, the team couldn’t finish in the top two and host a playoff game---until this year, Led by quarterback Reid Quest and many others, the Thunder had a tremendous season that had them finish 2nd in the PFC. It meant they got to host their first ever playoff game. They won that game to advance to the PFC final against the Saskatoon Hilltops. The Hilltops won that game as they went on to another Canadian title and while it left sadness that a championship season had once again passed them by, many connected with the Thunder organization knew a major hurdle had been crossed.
8. THE CO-OPERATORS CENTRE OPENS
Regina has many great sporting venues and it unveiled its newest one in the spring of 2010. The brand new Co-Operators Centre opened its doors for the first time as the best female midget hockey teams in Canada competed for the Esso Cup. While Thunder Bay emerged as the winner on the ice, the winner off the ice was the brand new facility on the grounds of Evraz Place as many raved about a rink that many felt was needed in the city. The Co-Operators Centre is just one in a series of rinks on the Exhibition Grounds that has seen its fair share of activity this winter. The Pats used it for some pre-season games and practices while the rink has become the home of the U of R Cougars and the Regina Rebels female hockey team. It has also sparked talk that Regina could host many more national championships like the Telus Cup because of a facility like this.
Did I miss anything? If I did, I do apologize. Anyhow, please vote away and please feel free to leave any comments. Thanks!