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Friday, March 22, 2019

This And That



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

--If whoever gave Justin Dunk the information about the player ratio in the CFL possibly changing in an effort to try and divide the union as CBA talks continue than mission accomplished.  Since that news came out, there have been a thousand different takes on it.   A lot of them are solid arguments on both sides. 

There are plenty of quality Canadians who have shown they can play the game whether it be on this side of the border or in the NFL.  There needs to be a spot for these Canadians to play.  It is as simple as that.   You can argue all you want on a variety of other things and at the end of the day, you will be right in some areas and wrong in the other.  There is a lot of gray area. 

The thing that gets me is the outrage of the fans.  Hardcore CFL fan or not, the bottom line is 90 percent of you don't care where a player is from, you just care about how good he is and whether or not he can help your team win.   The proof in that is the fact many of you thumb your nose at University and Junior Football.   You show that by not attending games whether it be in Regina, Calgary, Edmonton or Winnipeg.   I have said time and time again that Canada West Football produces players that you have no idea about until they are drafted.   When that narrative begins to change, then the fans discord on the ratio will matter, but right now it doesn't.

I don't think the ratio should change.  I think it could go up a couple because there are a lot of players who either don't get the chance they deserve with their current team or they simply don't get a chance period.   If the idea is to reduce Canadians to add Mexicans, Germans, Italians etc. etc than that is wrong as well.

If the league and the PA are serious on this topic, they are walking a very slippery slope and one that could have drastic repercussions at the grassroots level.

--I have to admit I was surprised to see Dakoda Shepley sign on with the Riders when he did.  I thought he would take another shot at finding NFL employment.  Shepley is a beast.  He was a force at UBC ( again many would know that if they watched the T-Birds play when he was there) .  He makes what is a solid Rider o-line even better.   Add with him Labatte, Bladek, Blake and Clark and the Canadian depth the green-and-white have in that area may be the league's best.

--The first CFL mock draft I have seen is out.  Mock drafts are what they are and we all know you can't put a lot of stock into them, but the one on CFL.ca has the Riders taking DL Robbie Smith from Laurier.   Is DL an area of need for the green-and-white when it comes to Canadian talent.   You can never go wrong with an o-lineman and as always there are a lot out there, but I would like to see the team maybe upgrade its Canadian talent at RB. There are a couple of good Canadian RB's out there in Maleek Irons and Brady Oliviera, but I don't know if you take either at 6.   Its always at this time of year when I am fascinated by what goes through organization's minds and the mock draft after mock draft after mock draft that they engage themselves in.   I would love to be able to sit in a war room one night and watch things go down.

--A video of Johnny Manziel has surfaced in which he talks about the CFL.  Some believe Manziel is cutting down the league in his interview with reporters in Memphis.  I think he is being kind.  He talks about the 12th man and how uncomfortable he was up here,

--Mike Trout is making $430 million to play baseball.  I'll just leave this here.

--Opening day is now less than a week away.  Who's taking next Thursday off?

--We now have ticket prices for the Heritage Classic.  Thoughts?

--Its time to get real in the WHL as the playoffs begin tonight..  The Moose Jaw-Saskatoon series should be fascinating.  On one side of the blueline is a Moose Jaw team that has not had a lot of playoff success with some very good teams---teams better than this one against a Blades squad that is stacked and has not been to the playoffs for a while,   I could give you a lot of reasons as to why Saskatoon wins and a lot of reasons as to why Moose Jaw does.  This should be a great matchup.  Its a coin toss to me, but I will take Saskatoon just for the fact I think they have the better goalie in Nolan Maier.  Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to go to WHL Live to watch some playoff games around here.   The fact the WHL doesn't have a TV deal outside of the one Access has with the Pats is just wrong.  It hurts the overall product.

--The Tampa Bay Lightning have already clinched first place in the NHL overall standings.  They are the team many figure will win the Stanley Cup and for good reason.  With the season they are having, do they deserve to be called one of the best of all-time.  You have to win 16 games in the playoffs to ensure that, but is this Tampa team as good as those Islander and Oiler teams of the 80's the Wings of the 90\s and the Habs of the 70's?

I don't think there is any doubt Nikita Kucherov is the league's MVP,  but would you give Andrei Vasilevskiy the Vezina?  Would you give Jon Cooper the Coach of the Year Trophy. I wouldn't be.  You can't ignore what the Lightning have done this season, but are they the best team we have seen in the last few years?  I guess that debate will start if they win the Cup.

--Jaskirat Sidhu gets sentenced in Melfort today for what happened April 6, 2018.  I truly don't know what type of sentence he will get, but whatever it is, will it be enough?  I'd like to say he will get at least 5 years.

--Motley Crue has done a remix of Madonna's "Like A Virgin".  Why?  I repeat why?  WHYYYYY??!!

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Many Warriors Up For WHL League Awards

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MJ Warriors defenceman Josh Brook 



The Western Hockey League have announced the Eastern and Western Conference individual award winners for the 2018-19 WHL season.
 
WHL Conference Awards are voted upon by all WHL General Managers and Head Coaches.
 
All individual WHL Conference Award winners will be eligible for the overall WHL Awards at the 2019 WHL Awards luncheon in Red Deer, Alta., on Wednesday, May 1, 2019.
 
2018-19 WHL Conference Award Winners
 
WHL Player of the Year (Four Broncos Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Player of the Year – Trey Fix-Wolansky (Edmonton, Alta.) – Edmonton Oil Kings
Western Conference Player of the Year – Joachim Blichfeld (Frederikshavn, Denmark) – Portland Winterhawks
 
WHL Top Goaltender (Del Wilson Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Top Goaltender – Ian Scott (Calgary Alta.) – Prince Albert Raiders
Western Conference Top Goaltender – Dustin Wolf (Tustin, Calif.) – Everett Silvertips
 
WHL Top Defenceman (Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Top Defenceman – Josh Brook (Roblin, Man.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference Top Defenceman – Ty Smith (Lloydminster, Alta.) – Spokane Chiefs
 
WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year – Brayden Tracey (Calgary, Alta.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference Rookie of the Year – Lassi Thomson (Tempere, Finland) – Kelowna Rockets
 
WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year (Brad Hornung Trophy)
Eastern Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player – Justin Almeida (Kitimat, B.C.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
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 – Curtis Hunt – Prince Albert Raiders
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 – Marc Habscheid – Prince Albert Raiders
Western Conference Coach of the Year – Michael Dyck – Vancouver Giants
 
The following individual and team awards were won during the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season:
 
WHL Regular Season Champions (Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy)
Prince Albert Raiders: 68 GP – 54 W – 10 L – 2 OTL – 2 SOL – 112 PTS
 
WHL Top Scorer (Bob Clarke Trophy)
Joachim Blichfeld (Frederikshavn, Denmark) – Portland Winterhawks
68 GP – 53 G – 61 A – 114 PTS – +16 – 70 PIM
 
WHL Top Plus-Minus
Brayden Pachal (Estevan, Sask.) – Prince Albert Raiders
66 GP – 15 G – 36 A – 51 PTS – +76 – 113 PIM
 
WHL Conference Awards for WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, WHL Humanitarian of the Year and the WHL Business Award will be announced at a later date.

--

 The Western Hockey League have announced  the Eastern and Western Conference All-Star teams for the 2018-19 WHL season.
 
WHL Conference All-Stars are voted upon by WHL General Managers.
 
WHL Eastern Conference All-Star Teams

FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Ian Scott (Calgary, Alta.) – Prince Albert Raiders
Defenceman – Josh Brook (Roblin, Man.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Defenceman – Dawson Davidson (Moosomin, Sask.) – Saskatoon Blades
Forward – Trey Fix-Wolansky (Edmonton, Alta.) – Edmonton Oil Kings
Forward – Tristin Langan (Swan River, Man. – Moose Jaw Warriors
Forward – Brett Leason (Calgary, Alta.) – Prince Albert Raiders

 
SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Mads Sogaard (Aalborg, Denmark) – Medicine Hat Tigers
Defenceman – Jett Woo (Winnipeg, Man.) – Moose Jaw Warriors
Defenceman – Brayden Pachal (Estevan, Sask.) – Prince Albert Raiders
Forward – Brandon Hagel (Morinville, Alta.) – Red Deer Rebels
Forward – Stelio Mattheos (Winnipeg, Man.) – Brandon Wheat Kings
Forward – Mark Kastelic (Phoenix, Ariz.) – Calgary Hitmen


 
WHL Western Conference All-Star Teams
 
FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Dustin Wolf (Tustin, Calif.) – Everett Silvertips
Defenceman – Ty Smith (Lloydminster, Alta..) – Spokane Chiefs
Defenceman – Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C.) – Vancouver Giants
Forward – Joachim Blichfeld (Frederikshavn, Denmark) – Portland Winterhawks
Forward – Cody Glass (Winnipeg, Man.) – Portland Winterhawks
Forward – Connor Dewar (The Pas, Man.) – Everett Silvertips


 
SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Beck Warm (Whistler, B.C.) – Tri-City Americans
Defenceman – Lassi Thomson (Tampere, Finland) – Kelowna Rockets
Defenceman – Scott Walford (Coquitlam, B.C.) – Victoria Royals
Forward – Parker AuCoin (St. Albert, Alta.) – Tri-City Americans
Forward – Matthew Wedman (Edmonton, Alta.) – Seattle Thunderbirds
Forward – Riley Woods (Regina, Sask.) – Spokane Chiefs

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2019 WHL Bantam Draft Goes Wednesday

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The WHL Bantam Draft lottery will be held Wednesday, March 20 at 11 a.m. MT at the WHL Office in Calgary to determine the order of the first six selections in the first round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
The WHL Bantam Draft Lottery will involve the six non-playoff teams (Swift Current, Winnipeg, Regina, Prince George, Kamloops or Kelowna, and Brandon) from the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season. A team may only move up a maximum of two positions in the WHL Bantam Draft.
The WHL Bantam Draft lottery will use a total of 21 balls, the allotment of which is as follows:
Swift Current*Six balls(Pick previously traded to Prince George)
WinnipegFive balls
Regina**Four balls(Pick previously traded to Saskatoon)
Prince GeorgeThree balls
TBD (Kamloops or Kelowna)Two balls
BrandonOne ball

The allocation of odds for the lottery draw of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft Lottery is as follows:
WHL Bantam Draft Lottery Odds (Fewest Points to Most)
Swift Current*28.6%
Winnipeg23.8%
Regina**19.0%
Prince George14.3%
TBD (Kamloops or Kelowna)9.5%
Brandon4.8%
*Pick previously traded to Prince George
**Pick previously traded to Saskatoon
The lottery position still to be determined will be clarified with the outcome of the 2019 WHL Tiebreaker Game, scheduled for tonight – Tuesday, March 19 (7 p.m. PT) – between the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. The winner of the 2019 WHL Tiebreaker Game will advance to face the Victoria Royals in the first round of the 2019 WHL Playoffs. The team that does not advance to the 2019 WHL Playoffs will receive two balls in the WHL Bantam Draft lottery.
The WHL Bantam Draft lottery will be streamed live on WHL.ca, Facebook and YouTube Live commencing at 11 a.m. MT.
The 2019 WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Red Deer, Alta., on Thursday, May 2, 2019.
The order of the second round and all other rounds of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft will be determined by the inverse order of final 2018-19 WHL Regular Season standings.
Players eligible for the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft will be 2004-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Shepley Signs With Riders

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley to a two-year contract, plus an option year in 2021.           

 Shepley (6’4 – 310) was selected by the Roughriders in the first round (5th overall) of the 2018 CFL Draft.

After four seasons at the University of British Columbia, the 24-year-old Shepley signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in April, 2018. Shepley attended training camp with Jets, playing three preseason games.

 Shepley, a native of Windsor, Ontario, played 32 career collegiate games with the Thunderbirds where he was named a 2017 Canada West All-Star and was part of the team that won the 2015 Vanier Cup.

(Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Monday, March 18, 2019

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Greiss, Perlini, McDavid


New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss, Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brendan Perlini and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 17.

FIRST STAR – THOMAS GREISS, G, NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Greiss topped the NHL with 116 saves (on 121 SA), compiling a 3-1-0 record, 1.25 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and one shutout to lift the Islanders (42-23-7, 91 points) back into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Greiss stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn his 13th career shutout in a 2-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets March 11. He then made 33 saves in a 2-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens March 14, followed by 20 stops in a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings March 16. Greiss closed the week with 32 saves in a 3-2 overtime triumph against the Minnesota Wild March 17. The 33-year-old Fussen, Germany, native owns a 22-12-2 record through 40 total appearances this season, ranking among the top five goaltenders in goals-against average (4th; 2.21), save percentage (4th; .928) and shutouts (t-5th; 5).

 SECOND STAR – BRENDAN PERLINI, LW, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Perlini shared the League lead with five goals (5-2—7 in 3 GP) to help the Blackhawks (32-30-9, 73 points) extend their overall winning streak to five games and move within five points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Perlini registered his first career hat trick, doing so against his former team, in a 7-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes March 11. He posted his second straight three-point performance with 1-2—3 in a 5-4 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs March 13. Perlini then added one goal in a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens March 16. The 22-year-old Guildford, England, native has collected 13-7—20 in 58 total contests this season, including 11-3—14 in 36 outings since being acquired by Chicago Nov. 25.

THIRD STAR – CONNOR McDAVID, C, EDMONTON OILERS

McDavid led the NHL with 3-6—9 in four games to power the Oilers (32-33-7, 71 points) to a pair of wins. He notched 1-1—2 in a 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers March 11, followed by two assists in a 6-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils March 13 to reach the 100-point milestone for the third straight season. McDavid then tallied 2-1—3, highlighted by his seventh career overtime goal, in a 3-2 triumph against the Arizona Coyotes March 16. He picked up two more helpers in a 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights March 17, stretching his multi-point streak to eight contests (3-15—18). The 22-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native and winner of the past two Art Ross Trophies ranks second in the League with 69 assists and 105 points through 68 total games this season (36-69—105).



Friday, March 15, 2019

Tickets to the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic Go on Sale on Thursday, April 25



REGINA, Saskatchewan (March 15, 2019) – Representatives from the National Hockey League, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, National Hockey League Players’ Association, Tim Hortons, Province of Saskatchewan, City of Regina and Mosaic Stadium gathered today at Mosaic Stadium to detail plans for the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™. In January, the NHL announced that the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ will feature the Jets and Flames at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Sask., on Oct. 26, 2019. The event will be televised live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

Tickets to the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ go on sale April 25, 2019 at 10 a.m. CST via Ticketmaster, the official ticketing partner of the NHL®, on Ticketmaster.ca and Ticketmaster.com, as well as on the Ticketmaster app. In addition, information on a priority ticket pre-sale beginning in early April for Winnipeg Jets season-seat holders, Calgary Flames season-ticket holders and Evraz Place Backstage Club Members will be sent to those groups in the coming days. This opportunity is for a limited number of tickets to the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last.

 The Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ returns to the NHL regular-season schedule after games in 2016 in Winnipeg, 2014 in Vancouver, 2011 in Calgary and 2003 in Edmonton. The game will be the second regular-season outdoor contest for both the Flames and Jets. The Flames defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ in front of 41,022 fans at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. The Jets fell to the Edmonton Oilers in the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ by a score of 3-0 in front of 33,240 fans at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. This year’s matchup will mark the fifth Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™, a game with roots dating back to Nov. 22, 2003, when the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens in what would be the first of 27 NHL regular-season outdoor games. The Oct. 26 Jet-Flames matchup will be the 28th such game, and to date, the League’s 27 regular-season outdoor games have drawn total attendance of 1,459,359 – an average of 54,050 per game.

 Regina’s Mosaic Stadium at Evraz Place opened in 2017 and is home to the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Mosaic Stadium is the newest outdoor stadium in Canada and was recently awarded the 108th Grey Cup, which will cap off the Roughriders 110th-anniversary season in 2020. Evraz Place is the center of sport, business and entertainment for the Regina community. In addition to the Roughriders, the 100-acre property is home to Regina Pats, Regina Soccer Association, many minor and recreational sports, and numerous concerts, trade shows and conventions.
   

Tim Hortons is an iconic Canadian brand with a storied hockey history.  As a proud partner of the NHL and title sponsor of the NHL Heritage Classic since 2010, Tim Hortons supports hockey at every level in Canada from Timbits to junior hockey, and the NHL’s seven Canadian member clubs. Tim Hortons is proud to share their love of the game with the province of Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada on Oct. 26 in Regina at the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.

 The 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ will showcase a number of the top players in the NHL. The Jets are led by 2019 NHL All-Stars Mark Scheifele and captain Blake Wheeler, as well as, Patrik Laine, Dustin Byfuglien and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The Flames counter with 2019 NHL All-Star Johnny Gaudreau, as well as, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and captain Mark Giordano. Winnipeg currently sits atop the Central Division with 86 points and Calgary’s 93 points place them a point back of San Jose for the lead in the Pacific Division. The Jets and Flames franchises have faced off 30 times during the regular season, with Calgary holding a 10-point advantage over Winnipeg (CGY: 17-11-2–36; WPG/ATL: 12-16-2–26). The Clubs have met twice this season with Calgary winning both, 6-3 and 4-1 respectively. They meet again tomorrow night in Winnipeg for the third and final time this season.

 Two Flames players remain from the team that faced off against the Canadiens at McMahon Stadium in 2011: Giordano and forward Mikael Backlund. The Jets have 13 players on their current roster who took part in the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™.





(NHL Media)

This And That



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

--Wait a minute!  Have the Cleveland Browns truly turned into a relevant football franchise?  Can they actually be put in the Super Bowl conversation?  The trade for Odell Beckham Junior by the Browns has tongues wagging with some suggesting they are right up there with Kansas City when it comes to the most potent offence in the game.  That might be a stretch.

It is nice to see Beckham come to the Browns though as it will give Chris Jones someone to work with in the secondary. (Oh wait!).    In all seriousness, the grouping of Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, OBJ, Jarvis Landry and emerging tight end David Njoku will make the Browns a team one must contend with.  Are they a playoff team?  They might be, but they are nowhere close to being an AFC powerhouse.  Just cool the jets on that one!

--The CFL and the CFLPA say they plan on holding meetings across the country as they try to hammer out a new contract.  Why?  Sit your tails down in Toronto or wherever and get this done.  Now isn't the time for a PR move!  I don't care if you are meeting in Victoria, Saskatoon, Toronto or Halifax.  Just get it done!

--Where would you put the green and white in a CFL power ranking right now?  Want mine?


  1. Calgary
  2. BC
  3. Hamilton
  4. Winnipeg
  5. Saskatchewan
  6. Edmonton
  7. Ottawa
  8. Toronto
  9. Montreal
Discuss 

--CFL fans are talking about the fact Mike Reilly got $700,000 a season saying is a quarterback really worth that much. Let's fast forward to the NFL where Nick Foles just got 22 million a season to play in Jacksonville.  Why is it all players want to do their thing in the NFL.  Oh right!

--Being at the Brandt Centre Wednesday night for the Pats and Broncos just reminded me of how cyclical junior hockey can be.  Last year, these two teams were getting ready for the playoffs and a much-anticipated first round matchup that Swift Current won in 7.  Those teams had players like Tyler Steenburgen, Stuart Skinner, Sam Steel and Josh Mahura had on them.  It was hockey at its best and we enjoyed it.  Fast forward to a year later and the big names are gone and the win-loss record isn't great.  Neither team would sacrifice what they did to get to the point they did last year.  They knew what the future held and that the job to get back to the level they were at last year was back at square one.   Those critical of both teams for what they have done this year simply don't know the game.  Those who do know it know both teams will be competing for a playoff spot again soon.

--We will find out ticket prices for the NHL's Heritage Classic later today.  I am told the ticket prices will be comparable for that of an NHL game.  The attitude about prices for events in this city has to change.  If you think tickets are going to be cheap, think again.  Check the prices of your favourite NHL team for tickets.  You will find they aren't cheap.  Start getting your empty bottles and cans to SARCAN now.  This is going to be a great weekend in Regina with what I am guessing will be a celebration of the game at Evraz Place.  Its also an event that won't return anytime soon.

Tim Reid and his gang at Evraz Place continue to make that complex one of the best in Canada. You just don't do that by letting everything fall in your lap.  What that area has done for this city is immense and it's not going to stop anytime soon.   There are still some obstacles that EP have to work through like getting people in and out in an efficient time, but while it isn't perfect, it is better than what we have experienced in the past.   If there is a better sports/entertainment/convention complex in this country than what is there, I need to see it.

--Are we in for a battle in the curling world when it comes to pay equity?   Some on the women's side are a little chapped that the Scotties winner doesn't even make half of what the Brier winner made.  Curling Canada is trying to shift some of the blame on their corporate sponsors.  You can't do that.  However, Kruger Paper (Scotties) who have been a tremendous partner with Curling Canada in their sponsorship of the Canadian women's curling championship can't sit there and say they do other things.  More $$$ is needed.

--I bet a lot of women's curling rinks in the province heard Michelle Englot was coming back and teaming up with Sara England. For those that don't know, Sara is the daughter of the late Sandra Schmirler.  Sara was going to make some noise when she entered the women's ring and she certainly has found the right person to mentor her and her young team as they hit another level.  In talking with Michelle this week, she sounds very excited to get back out there after taking last year off.  I didn't ask her how much Fireball will be involved this year.  I can do that when the rocks start getting thrown next year.

--We are now in a world where people are throwing sliced cheese on the faces of pets, children and others.  What has happened to us?  What I say?

--Enjoy the weekend! I'm on a few days vacay after today so if you don't see a Monday column that's why. 



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Macho Harris Retires a Rider

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that international defensive back Macho Harris has signed a one-day contract to officially retire as a Roughrider. 

Harris spent five seasons in the CFL, playing 59 career regular-season games and two playoff games. 

The Virginia Tech product spent four seasons with the Green and White after making his debut July 28, 2012. Harris collected 149 defensive tackles and four interceptions in 44 regular-season games.

He was a member of the Riders 2013 Grey Cup-winning team. 

“I want to congratulate Macho on his seven-year professional football career,” stated Jeremy O’Day, the Roughriders Vice-President of Football Operations and General Manager. “Macho was a solid character and always kept the team loose away from the field. However, when the game started he was an intense and intelligent player. He should be proud of his accomplishments through his college and professional years.”     

After an impressive four-year collegiate career, Harris spent three seasons in the NFL before coming to Canada. He played 15 games with Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and three games with the Washington Redskins in 2010.

Harris spent his final CFL season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2016.     

“It is with great pride that I officially announce my retirement from professional football,” Harris said. “I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to play pro football for seven years. I want to thank the Saskatchewan Roughriders and all of Rider Nation for four years of football and a life time of memories.”   

The 33-year-old Harris, his wife Kylie and their daughter Kamila make Regina their home. 

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

Monday, March 11, 2019

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Huberdeau, Bishop, Terry



Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau, Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop and Anaheim Ducks right wing Troy Terry have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 10.

FIRST STAR – JONATHAN HUBERDEAU, LW, FLORIDA PANTHERS
Huberdeau led the NHL with 4-5—9 and a +6 rating in four games to power the Panthers (30-27-12, 72 points) to a 2-1-1 week and within seven points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After being held off the scoresheet in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins March 5, Huberdeau (2-1—3) factored on all three Florida goals in a 4-3 defeat versus the Boston Bruins March 7. He then posted 1-3—4, his fourth career four-point performance and second of the season (also Feb. 28 at VGK: 1-3—4), as well as a career-best +5 rating in 6-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 8. Huberdeau added 1-1—2 in a 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings March 10. The 25-year-old Saint-Jerome, Que., native and 2012-13 Calder Memorial Trophy winner ranks second on the Panthers with 22-52—74 through 69 outings this season, already establishing personal highs for assists and points.

SECOND STAR – BEN BISHOP, G, DALLAS STARS
Bishop stopped all 59 shots he faced over two appearances to help the Stars (35-28-5, 75 points) earn two wins and maintain the first Wild Card position in the Western Conference. Bishop, who registered consecutive shutouts for the first time in his NHL career (362 GP), made 28 saves in a 1-0 triumph over the New York Rangers March 5 and 31 stops in a 4-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche March 7. In doing so, he became the first Dallas goaltender to post shutouts in consecutive team games since Kari Lehtonen from March 10-13, 2012. The 32-year-old Denver native has compiled a 22-14-2 record in 39 total contests this season, ranking second in the League in both goals-against average (2.13) and save percentage (.930) while sharing third place in shutouts (5).

THIRD STAR – TROY TERRY, RW, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Terry collected 2-5—7 in four outings to lift the Ducks (27-34-9, 63 points) to a pair of wins. He scored once in a 3-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes March 5. Terry then recorded consecutive three-point games, notching three assists in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues March 6 and 1-2—3 in an 8-2 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens March 8. He became the first rookie in Anaheim history to register consecutive three-point performances as well as the first rookie to achieve that feat for any team since Mathew Barzal from Jan. 13-15, 2018 (3-5—8 w/ NYI). Terry finished the week with one shot on goal and 17:42 of ice time in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings March 10. The 21-year-old Denver native, who played in two games in 2017-18, has totaled 4-6—10 through 23 contests this season.

(NHL Media) 

Something To "Mitch" About



--Rob Vanstone may have said it best on Twitter on Sunday afternoon when he said these are the kind of blah Sundays that make one pine for the NFL.  No kidding! That being said, it was a day to spend outside considering the weather we have had.

--What is Ricky Ray doing? Its a question being asked around the CFL.  Ray's season came to an early end last year when he suffered a neck injury.  It was one many said would be the end for the 39-year-old who will be a first ballot CFL Hall of Famer..  However, he isn't telling anyone what his future holds at this time.   It's time for Ray to call it a career.  What more does he need to do?  The Argos aren't the class of the East so it isn't as if he will want to take one more run at a Grey Cup.   I think the Argos have moved on with James Franklin, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Brandon Bridge.  Just make the announcement.

--It might just be me, but talk of Kyler Murray being the number one draft pick overall in the NFL makes me scratch my head.  Is Murray getting the same treatment Vince Young did back in the day?  He is the flavour of the week, but I just don't see him being a stud quarterback for some team.  The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of holes to fill and some of those holes are on defence.  Unless they were to trade the pick, I don't really see them having a need for Murray, but these are the Arizona Cardinals who are the NFL's equivalent of the Edmonton Oilers these days.

--Antonio Brown to the Raiders?  Does that mean A-B will play at Mosaic?  I still don't see that happening.


--Kevin Koe has icewater flowing through his veins.  What a shot he made in the 10th to win the Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon Sunday night.  Does he make that shot without good old Saskies Colton Flasch and Ben Hebert sweeping for him.  I think we know the answer to that.   Meanwhile, its an Alberta sweep at the Scotties and Brier this year.  What are they doing next door that we are not in the 306?

--Who decides on whether a 15 year old is an exceptional hockey player or not?  Matthew Savoie, who will barring a miracle be the first pick in this year's WHL Bantam Draft, has been reportedly told he will not be given exceptional player status meaning he can't play full-time in the league as a 15 year old.  Has the WHL ever had an exceptional player.   Players like Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and John Tavares have been given that distinction in the Ontario League.  I don't know if the Quebec League has ever had one.  Savoie is a talent, but someone is making the decision that he can't play in the league until he is 16.  Some now wonder if he will play in the WHL or head south of the border.  I guess time will tell.

--How and why does Flyer forward Jakub Voracek get two games for putting the brakes on and protecting himself from getting slammed by the Islanders Johnny Boychuk who gets slammed himself.  That's called a hockey play.  Boychuk was ready to paste Voracek into the boards.  Once again, I don't understand the NHL Department of Player Safety.  Do they?  The inconsistency is maddening.

--ESPN has a story on the recently concluded NFL combine called steak, booze and a sense of dull dread.  I thought that was a synopsis of my weekends!

--Good luck to U of R Ram players Ryan Schienbein, Kyle Moortgat, Cord Delinte, Layne Hull and Cole Benkic as they take part in the CFL West Regional Combine in Edmonton today.  Schienbein may lack the size, but he doesn't lack the heart.  If a CFL team wants to take a chance on a pick that could turn into gold, I would watch for Schienbein.  The kid has great hands and football smarts.

--Now that the weather is warming up, how long until the snow goes away.  Hopefully it won't take too long!

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




Friday, March 8, 2019

This And That



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

--Are the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers coming to Mosaic Stadium?  That is what people are talking about since Sportscage CFL insider and 3DownNation.com's Justin Dunk reported it Monday.  I don't see it happening.

Who is going to pay for the revamping of the field? Does Mosaic Stadium have holes for the US goalposts to be put in? From what I hear, the answer is no.   I can't think the CFL would really be happy with this either.   Unless it is Week 3 of the NFL pre-season when the starters play a majority of the game, this will be a glorified CFL game with no Canadians being mandated.   Don't get me wrong, I would love to see it and if it happens. I will be there.  However, if you think you are going to see Aaron Rodgers, Devante Adams, Clay Matthews, Derek Carr and, and, and ....well you get my point, you will be sadly mistaken.   What I do know is there is a major concert coming to Mosaic in August.  The sooner that gets announced (although I think many of us already know who it is), then this story will probably go away.

--Some that I speak to think the BC Lions are now the class of the West now that Mike Reilly is there.  This just in.  The Calgary Stampeders are still the class of the West.   Much like the New England Patriots, everyone hates them and wants to write them off, but they still have Bo Levi Mitchell and others that have kept them atop the CFL ladder for years.  They aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  Yes, that bothers me as well, but like the Patriots. you can respect them, but you don' t have to like them and in Rider Nation, we don't like them.

--If and it's a big if because I think he will find CFL employment and could be back in Saskatchewan, but if Weston Dressler calls it a career will he do what Tristan Jackson did and retire as a Rider.  I would hope so.  I just wonder what the relationship between Dressler and the organization is after his release.   Then again Chris Jones is no longer here,

--The complaints have started about the NHL playoffs. With three of the NHL's top four teams residing in the Atlantic Conference (Tampa, Boston, Toronto), some are wondering why the NHL simply wouldn't go back to the 1 vs 8 format.  The NHL wanted the format they have to spark division rivalries.  I'm OK with either if the truth be told.  In the second round, you are still going to likely get a matchup that will see some two of the top teams facing one another if they aren' t victim to a first round upset.  A lot of this posturing comes from Toronto it would seem.  God forbid if their beloved Leafs had a tougher time in getting to a place where they haven't been for a number of years.

--Who is the second best team in the NHL right now?

--Its been a fine showing for Kirk Muyres in Brandon at the Brier.  Some will say he's beaten the teams he should have beat and has lost to the ones he should have.  That's a fair statement, but Muyres has played these teams before and has been successful.  The Brier is a different animal.  This isn't a cashspiel in Medicine Hat.  Some teams are used to the bright lights and others may not be.  If that is what has happened to Team Saskatchewan this year, they will be better for it next if they get back.  The rivalry that Muyres and Matt Dunstone will have over the next few years will be one of the best we have seen in Saskatchewan men's curling in a long time.  That might be the best news of all.  By the way, I fully expect Brad Gushue to be hoisting the trophy again Sunday night.

--Down 13 at the half and without their best player, it looked grim for the U of R Cougar womens basketball team at the nationals in Toronto.  They found a way to make a game of it though. Sadly for Dave Taylor's group, another great look at the basket didn't result in what would have been a game-tying basket at the end as Carolina Gonsalves couldn't make the shot and Regina lost 65-63 in a game that had a similar ending to the Canada West final last weekend in Saskatoon when Michaela Kleisinger's shot wouldn't fall at the key time giving the Huskies the win.  Another appearance at the nationsls is nothing to sneeze at, but one year it would be nice to see that team go all the way.



--If you haven't seen the documentary on former Humboldt Bronco Logan Boulet and how being an organ donor saved six lives, go watch it.  It is 40 minutes that will be well spent.  Greg Bishop (who I spoke with on the Sportscage Thursday) and crew did an amazing job both with the documentary and the article






Thursday, March 7, 2019

Experience The Energy at Grey Cup 2019

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Football fans are invited to “Experience the Energy” of the 2019 Grey Cup Festival presented by Shaw, this November in Calgary.

Today, the organizing committee for the 2019 Grey Cup Festival unveiled details about the event leading up to the Grey Cup game at McMahon Stadium on Nov. 24 including the fact Festival activities will be focused at world-famous Stampede Park.

“One of our goals for this year’s Grey Cup Festival is to host all Festival events in one place – Stampede Park,” said Geordie Macleod, Executive Director of the 2019 Grey Cup Festival. “We want to make it simple for our guests to enjoy all that the Grey Cup Festival has to offer. Just come here, that’s it – it’s all right here.”

The 2019 Grey Cup Festival launches on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 20 with the Tim Horton’s Kick-off Party.

On the morning of Thursday, Nov. 21, the entire Nissan “Street Festival” outdoor site will officially open and will feature 140,000 square feet of activation space. The centrepiece for the Street Festival will be the Stratosphere Projection Dome, a 65-foot inflatable screen on which images will be displayed.

The Shaw CFL Awards will be presented on Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which will also be the site for Friday’s Grey Cup Gala.

On Saturday, the first-ever Grey Cup Rodeo will be held at the historic Stampede Corral.

In addition to announcing the event’s location, the Grey Cup Festival’s “Experience the Energy” logo was unveiled. The logo includes the Calgary skyline as well as the Three Sisters mountain range. A red maple leaf with white football laces is also featured along with the “Experience the Energy” slogan rendered in a Western-style font.

“I can tell you we spent a fair amount of time on our logo and worked hard to ensure that it is properly reflective of our beautiful city and province, as well as our wonderful Canadian game,” said Macleod.

The Government of Alberta, City of Calgary and Tourism Calgary have joined forces with Presenting Partner Shaw Communications to bring fun and exciting events to fans in the week leading up to the Grey Cup game.

“We are thrilled to join forces with the province, the city and Tourism Calgary for the Grey Cup Festival,” said Mike Franco, Director of Business Operations for the Calgary Stampeder Football Club and Chair of 2019 Grey Cup Festival. “We plan to make the 2019 Grey Cup presented by Shaw the best one to date and, thanks to the support of these great partners, I know we will achieve that goal.”

“Our government is thrilled to help bring the Grey Cup back to Alberta for the second year in a row,” said Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism. “The Grey Cup Festival will bring together Calgarians and thousands of visitors to celebrate our amazing city. Last year, this boost in tourism infused approximately $80 million into Edmonton’s economy, and I am glad that Calgary has the chance to benefit from this exciting sporting event as well.

“Welcoming CFL fans from around the country to Calgary in celebration of the Grey Cup Festival offers us a great opportunity to showcase our city’s love of sport, and further our reputation of being the ultimate host city,” said Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary. “We’re looking forward to hosting the best Grey Cup Festival yet for the benefit of the more than 30,000 visitors who will travel to Calgary for the experience, and for all Calgarians.”

“As a Calgarian and someone who loves Canadian football, I am so excited we are hosting the 107th Grey Cup,” said City of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “This is a huge moment for Calgary to show our community pride. I love the energy our city is feeling and what we’re capable of doing when we work together.”

The 107th Grey Cup and Grey Cup Festival will be presented by Calgary-based Shaw.

“For the past four years, we have had the honour of presenting the Grey Cup and the Grey Cup Festival across the country and to millions of Canadians, but there is nothing quite like bringing it to our own backyard,” said Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Affairs, Shaw Communications. “We are proud to call Calgary our home, and we are excited to work with our partners at the CFL, the Calgary Stampeders, and the entire community to deliver the most memorable Grey Cup and Grey Cup Festival presented by Shaw yet.”

Grey Cup Tickets for the general public go on-sale May 7. Fans can secure 2019 Grey Cup tickets by purchasing Stampeder Season tickets or Premium Experiences. Visit greycupfestival.ca for more information.

Tristan Jackson Retiring As A Rider

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that international defensive back and returner Tristan Jackson has signed a one-day contract to officially retire as a Roughrider. 

Jackson is a veteran of nine CFL seasons and played 124 career regular-season games after making his debut June 28, 2008 with the Edmonton Eskimos. The Mississippi native spent three seasons with the Eskimos before being acquired by the Roughriders in March, 2011. He joined the Ottawa Redblacks in 2016 after five seasons with the Riders.     

Through his career, Jackson ranks second in kickoff return yards with 6,478 and fifth in combined return yards with 10,868 among all-time CFL leaders.     

In 75 career games in the Green and White, Jackson ranks second in franchise history in kickoff returns (146) and kickoff return yards (3,435). He also holds the Riders’ longest missed field goal return, taking a kick back 129 yards for a touchdown.

He played six career playoff games, including three with the Riders, and one Grey Cup game – winning with Saskatchewan in 2013.

“I want to congratulate Tristan Jackson on an outstanding nine-year CFL career,” stated Jeremy O’Day, the Roughriders Vice-President of Football Operations and General Manager. “T-Jack was a great teammate. He came to work every day and gave you everything he had, which contributed to the longevity and the consistency throughout his career.”   

Jackson was named the Riders’ most outstanding special teams player in 2014, the Eskimos most outstanding special teams player in 2008-09, and the Eskimos most outstanding rookie in 2008. 

“I humbly announce my retirement from the Canadian Football League in order to officially close the final chapter of my career,” Jackson said. “I want to thank the Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Ottawa Redblacks for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great league for nine seasons. I also want to thank fans across the league, especially Rider Nation, for their support. I will never forget it.”   

The 32-year-old Jackson currently resides and works in the Edmonton area. 

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR) 

Monday, March 4, 2019

DUNK; Raiders To Perhaps Host NFL Exhibition Game at Mosaic Stadium

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3DownNation.com and Sportscage Insider Justin Dunk is reporting the city of Regina and the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders are in discussions for an NFL pre-season game to be played at Mosaic Stadium.

Dunk's story can be found here

NHL Three Stars Of Week



Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 3.

 FIRST STAR – MARC-ANDRE FLEURY, G, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

 Fleury went 3-0-0 with a 0.33 goals-against average, .987 save percentage and two shutouts as the Golden Knights (36-26-5, 77 points) improved their overall winning streak to four contests to sit third in the Pacific Division. Fleury began the week by making 23 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars Feb. 26. He then posted back-to-back shutouts stopping 34 shots in a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on March 1 and making 19 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks March 3. The 34-year-old native of Sorel, Que., leads all NHL goaltenders in wins (32) and shutouts (8) this season. He became the fifth goaltender in NHL history to record nine or more campaigns with at least 30 wins and his eight shutouts are two shy of his career high of 10 set in 2014-15.

SECOND STAR – BLAKE WHEELER, RW, WINNIPEG JETS

 Wheeler finished the week tied for first among scorers with 5-3—8 in three games as the Central Division-leading Jets (39-22-4, 82 points) won two of three contests. Wheeler opened the week by notching one assist in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild Feb. 26. On March 1 he recorded one goal and two assists in a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators. Wheeler closed out the week with a four-goal effort in a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 3, the second four-goal game by a player last week (also Arizona’s Brad Richardson on Feb. 28). The 32-year-old native of Plymouth, Minn., leads all Jets skaters with 17-63—80 in 65 games this season. Only Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (75) has recorded more assists in 2018-19.

 THIRD STAR – SIDNEY CROSBY, C, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

 Crosby tied for the League lead in scoring last week with eight points (3-5—8 in 3 GP) as the Penguins (34-22-9, 77 points) gained five of a possible six points to hold the first Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. Crosby opened the week by notching one goal and one assist in a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 26. On March 1, he recorded one goal and one assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Crosby finished the week with one goal and three assists in a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on March 2. In doing so, Crosby passed Alex Ovechkin to move into 48th on the NHL’s all-time points list. The 31-year-old native of Cole Harbour, N.S., ranks tied for fourth in the NHL with 29-54—83 in 62 games this season. 

(NHL Media)

Something To "Mitch" About

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--John Tavares received a standing ovation from those at Scotiabank Place on Saturday night.  The Toronto media gushed all over it as if it was a move that united the country.  It was a move that made me and some others just barf.

 Yes, Tavares was roundly booed in his first game back in Uniondale after he bolted the Islanders for the Leafs in free agency.  Islander fans have every right to do so much like Rider fans had the right to boo Henry Burris every time he walked onto Taylor Field.  Tavares is  a big boy. I think he can take it. His skin isn't that thin is it?

However, Toronto had to show their love for Tavares Saturday while belitting the Islander fan base for what they had done.  Where was this on opening night when Tavares was introduced to the crowd?   Did they have to wait until the 3/4 mark of the season to show "Johnny Toronto" as Joe Bowen called him how much he was revered amongst their fan base?   What a laugh!  When is the standing ovation coming for Jake Gardiner?   I said last week I would like to see a Leafs-Islanders first round playoff matchup.  Can I double down on that?

--Still with the Toronto media and laughs. The Toronto media is obsessed with Connor McDavid wanting to tell the Oilers to move him.  They love the fact that McDavid is once again going to miss the playoffs and that this will be three of four years he has done so.

Do we remember when Mario Lemieux didn't make the playoffs in four of his first five years in the league?  How did Lemieux's career turn out?  Oh yeah!

The Toronto media should stick to making sure John Tavares goes to bed a happy boy and isn't picked on anymore by those nasty, nasty Islander fans!  By the way, what do you think happens if and when one of the Leafs top players leaves via free agency.  I am guessing he won't get a key to the city in his first game back in Toronto.  Then the narrative will be how the Toronto hockey fan "deservedly" stuck it to said player for deserting them.    Wait for it!

--Rider fans continue to feel uneasy about their team.  I understand that.  They feel as if the other teams are passing them by.  I see what has gone on in the off-season and I understand that.  Jeremy O'Day tried to get Bo Levi Mitchell in Saskatchewan colours and when he couldn't do that, he reached out and brought Zach Collaros back seeing Mike Reilly and Trevor Harris went elsewhere.  What else was he to do?  I still say O'Day has something up his sleeve when it comes to quarterback that we will see before camp.

--Can Duron Carter last a season in BC? I'd love to say yes, but I can't.  With Mike Reilly throwing him the ball, Carter could have his best season ever if he keeps his head on straight and doesn't alienate himself to teammates.  That's easier  said than done.

--Friday night at the PAC in Saskatoon watching the Cougars and Huskies battle it out for the Canada West title was tremendous and a little revealing as well.  The sad truth of the matter is the U of R should be embarassed after what went down on Friday---at least the student body should be. 

The U of S student body came out to support their club which is something the U of R doesn't do for whatever reason.   The area behind the Cougars bench was a madhouse. It forced Dave Taylor to bring his team onto the court during timeouts so he could get his message across.  Yet when the Cougars are home, there is no or very little activity behind the visitors bench when a basketball game is being played men or women.  Why is that? 

There were members of the U of S football team, the soccer team and the wrestling team there.  How many Cougar athletes are there to show support for the basketball team at their playoff games? How many U of R students are there? Yes, some athletes and students do come but it pales in comparison to what the Huskies athletic roster were doing ---at least on this night it did. I am guessing many more were at the new Merlis Belsher arena cheering the men's hockey  team onto a win over Alberta.  I am also told this was not a one-time thing.

If the Huskies can get a solid homecourt advantage because of loud fans, then Regina should be able to as well shouldn't they?  One would think so!  Its time for the student population in Cougarville to bring their game up a notch or two starting next year. Be proud!

As for the game itself, it was a grind-it out game that the Huskies prevailed in despite the fact I thought Regina played better.  Regina just couldn't hit shots and get key rebounds.  The Huskies made stupid mistake after stupid mistake after stupid mistake but they did enough to win.  If Michaela Kleisinger's short runner with about 12 seconds goes in, we are probably going to overtime and who knows what happens then.  Can these two teams meet again at the nationals as they have the last three years? The two teams are on different sides of the bracket so if we get a rematch, it will be in the title game.  I'd be all for that!  The fact Regina lost Kyanna Giles to what looked like a season-ending knee injury makes it very difficult though.

It was a lot of fun sitting with the parents and supporters of the team watching Dave's squad do their thing while rooting them on albeit unsuccessfully. That chance doesn't come around very often. It was a lot of fun.  Apologies to former Cougar Kehlsie Crone whose sister plays on this year's team.  She was right in front of me and in firing range with yells of encouragement.  Then again, she was screaming too as we looked for at least one "3 in the key" call that didn't come.  Does anyone call that anymore?

--The Pats did it right Saturday.  Midway through the first period, they saluted both Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry with a video and yes, both admitted to coming close to tearing up.   Who's kidding who, they probably did.  Leschyshyn and Henry may not have gotten the ink that guys like Adam Brooks, Sam Steel and Connor Hobbs got over the good years, but they were just as instrumental.  Congrats to Nick for signing a deal with the Avalanche on the weekend.  The trade that sent those two to Lethbridge in which numerous assets came back could result in players that get the Pats back to the level they want to be at.

--If you haven't seen the video where Carey Price gives a fan of his a huge hug and some autographed sticks, go find it and go find the story behind it.  You might also then want to dry your eyes.  What a great move by the Habs goalie. 

--Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge told reporters Sunday his team could break the records for homeruns hit in a season breaking last year's mark of 267.  That number broke a record that had stood for two decades. .  He may be right.  That New York lineup is a modern day Murderers Row again with Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar leading the way.  Boston might still be the class of the AL East, but the Yankees have narrowed the gap and that is bad news for Tampa, the Jays and Baltimore who all should likely be well under 500.

--Say what you will about Bryce Harper, but his decision not to wear 34 in Philadelphia because that was Roy Halladay's number is a classy move. He gets it!

--If the NBA season ended today, the Detroit Pistons would meet the Toronto Raptors in the first round. Dwane Casey would have a chance to hand his old team another early playoff exit.  How delicious would that storyline be!  Detroit beat Toronto in both games this year too.  It just gets better!

--Midget Wrestling is coming to the Press Box in May.  Need I say more!

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

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Cougar Womens BBall Team Get 5 Seed at Nationals

Picture: Arthur Images 


U SPORTS announced Sunday its bracket for the 2019 U SPORTS Women's Final 8, with the University of Regina Cougars earning the No. 5 seed and matching up against No. 4-seeded Ottawa in the tournament quarterfinals.

Regina and Ottawa will match up on Thursday night (8:00 EST) in what will be the first meeting in history between the two teams on the championship side of the national tournament bracket.

"Ottawa was ranked No. 1 in the last national poll so obviously this is an extremely tough matchup," Cougars head coach Dave Taylor said. "They check all of the boxes - they have a big post, a dynamic point guard, a great stretch-four, and they're a well-coached, experienced group."

The two teams have already met this season. Regina won 63-53 on the road over the Gee-Gees in what was the Cougars' first non-conference game of the year, though Taylor was quick to point out that Ottawa was missing OUA first-team all-star Hilary Hanaka for that contest.

Both teams enter the national tournament after losing in their respective conference finals. The Cougars were edged 53-49 by Saskatchewan on Friday in Saskatoon, while Ottawa suffered a 79-75 home loss to McMaster on Saturday.

The winner of the Regina/Ottawa game will advance to the tournament semifinals on Saturday to face the winner of the Laval/Ryerson quarterfinal. Laval is the top seed, while host Ryerson enters as the No. 8 seed.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 McMaster will play No. 7 Concordia in one quarterfinal while No. 3 Saskatchewan will face No. 6 Acadia in the other.

NOTES: The only time Regina and Ottawa have met in a national tournament game was in the 2005 consolation semifinals in Winnipeg, which Ottawa won by a 66-64 score ... the Cougars will be playing in the 4/5 game for the third time in the last four seasons, as they were also seeded No. 5 in 2017 (72-62 loss to McGill) and were the No. 4 seed in 2016 (73-70 loss to Ryerson).

----

No. 1 Laval Rouge et Or

Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Regular season / playoff records: 15-1 / 2-0
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 74.3 points/game, 14th
Team defence: 53.5 points allowed/game, 1st

Team Leaders
Points per game: Jane Gagné, 15.4
Rebounds per game: Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, 9.1
Assists per game: Claudia Emond, 3.9

The Laval Rouge et Or flirted with perfection in 2018-19, as they came close to the first undefeated season of their 48-year history. They lost a close call in their very last game of the season at McGill, to finish the year 15-1, good for first place in the RSEQ for a third year in a row and setting a new team record for points (1187) since the formalization of the 16-game season format in 2003.The Rouge et Or would finish off the season leading the conference in 16 different categories.

The Rouge et Or boast a mature team, led by RSEQ MVP fifth year guard Sarah-Jane Marois, the defensive player of the year and Texas Longhorns transfer Khaléann Caron-Goudreau, and Jane Gagné, the 2017 conference MVP and Laval leading scorer this year. Marois and Gagné were on the 2017 Rouge et Or team that won silver at the U SPORTS Championship.  


No. 2 McMaster Marauders

Playoff finish: OUA champions
Regular season / playoff records: 21-3 / 3-0
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 79.3 points/game, 3rd
Team defence: 59.0 points allowed/game, 9th

Team Leaders

Points per game: Sarah Gates, 17.1
Rebounds per game: Linnaea Harper, 8.2
Assists per game: Linnaea Harper, 4.0

The McMaster Marauders finished second in the OUA standings with a 21-3 record. The team would draw much of its success from its offensive dominance, while also demonstrating their ball control leading the nation in assists per game (18.5). The largest loss for the Marauders was just 14 points to Ottawa, who had the best record in the OUA. Subsequently the Marauders would capture a pair of 50-plus point wins in their final three weeks of the season to propel their momentum into the playoffs.

The Marauders would have an extra special end to the season, seeing two of their fifth-year seniors reach the 1,000 point club at the end of their OUA careers: Linnaea Harper and Hilary Hanaka who reached 1,003 and 1,136 points respectively. A third key player to keep an eye out for is Sarah Gates, ranked second in the OUA in points per game and leads the team infield goals/game and free throws/game.

No. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies

Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Regular season / playoff records: 16-4 / 5-0
Last U SPORTS championship: 2016
Total U SPORTS championships: 1
Team offence: 81.3 points/game, 1st
Team defence: 55.7 points allowed/game, 3rd

Team Leaders

Points per game: Sabine Dukate, 15.6
Rebounds per game: Summer Masikewich, 8.2
Assists per game: Libby Epoch, 3.9

It was another dominant season for the Saskatchewan Huskies, who earned the Canada West No. 1 seed in the playoffs due to holding the highest RPI in the conference.  After starting the year 4-2, Saskatchewan went on a 12-game winning streak that stretched from Nov.16 – Jan.26. During that streak, Saskatchewan outscored their opponents 1073-594. Saskatchewan is in the U SPORTS Final 8 for the sixth straight season, with two medals from that stretch, including a gold medal in 2016 and second place last year. 

For the Huskies, Final 8 experience runs through the veins of many members of the roster. In particular, returning players Sabine DukateMegan AhlstromVera Crooks and Janaya Brown were all present on the 2016 national championship squad. Among those veterans, Dukate leads the team in field goals/game (5.8/13.9), points/game (15.6), was 3rd in the nation in three-point percentage (42.7) and was named the Canada West Player of the Year.

No. 4 Ottawa Gee-Gees

Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Regular season / playoff records: 21-2 / 2-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 77.4 points/game, 7th
Team defence: 56.1 points allowed/game, 4th

Team Leaders

Points per game: Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu, 14.0
Rebounds per game: Angela Ribarich, 7.2
Assists per game: Brooklyn McAlear-Fanus, 4.9

Turning in their best regular season performance in program history, the Ottawa Gee-Gees women's basketball team ascended to the top of the nation's rankings in the 2018-19 season. Their campaign has had two noteworthy runs – the first was following a two-point heartbreaking loss to Carleton in the first game of the season. The Gee-Gees refocused and reeled off 10 straight wins to close 2018 and kick off the New Year. Signature wins over Lakehead and McMaster highlighted the powerful first semester for the Garnet and Grey. In their second game of 2019, the Gee-Gees suffered their last loss of the regular season in Toronto to Ryerson, to which they responded to with an 11-win tour de force with a revenge win over the Rams and a big-time win at the Capital Hoops Classic against Carleton.

The team has yet to claim a national title but got close in 2012 when they claimed the bronze medal at the Women's Final 8 in Calgary. The offensive talents of Angela Ribarich who finished the regular season fifth in the country in field goal percentage (54.8) and second in blocks (44) will be a key player in Ottawa's hopes to bring home the programs first title.

No. 5 Regina Cougars

Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Regular season/playoff records: 17-3 / 4-1
Last U SPORTS championship: 2001
Total U SPORTS championships: 1
Team offence: 79.7 points/game, 2nd
Team defence: 57.1 points allowed/game, 6th

Team Leaders

Points per game: Kyanna Giles, 18.4
Rebounds per game: Kyanna Giles, 8.8
Assists per game: Michaela Kleisinger, 3.9

The Cougars went to work over the regular season sitting amongst the top in the Canada West standings with a 17-3 record. The Cougars had an eight-game win streak to conclude the regular season, winning five of those contests by 20-plus points. While the team has demonstrated its offensive ability, it's their defensive talents that set them apart from the pack. They lead the nation in rebounds (51.3) and blocks (4.7).

With a similar squad to last year's team that won a bronze medal on home court, the familiar presence of third-year Guard Kyanna Giles' talents have been crucial in the team's success as she leads in six statistical categories. Giles is only the third player from the Cougars to win multiple Canada West First Team all-star selections. The program is no stranger to the women's Final 8, and the Cougars will be looking to build from last year's performance and look to win the their second national title.

No. 6 Acadia Axewomen

Playoff finish: AUS champions
Regular season / playoff records: 13-7 / 3-0
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 78.3 points/game, 5th
Team defence: 69.8 points allowed/game, 31st

Team Leaders

Points per game: Haley McDonald, 23.3
Rebounds per game: Sarsha Cadle, 7.5
Assists per game: Haley McDonald, 3.7

The Axewomen finished third in the AUS standings with a 13-7 record and had a seven-game win streak before dropping their final four games of the season to Cape Breton, UPEI and UNB. However, the team finished first in the conference in field goals/game (28.5), rebounds/game (40.8), assists/game (17.1), and steals/game (10.1).

While the team had its ups and down this season, it proved a monumental one for third-year guard, Haley McDonald, who now owns the team record for points scored in a single season record (465). The team will look to McDonald to build from last year's Final 8 experience after bowing out in the quarterfinals to Saskatchewan.

No. 7 Concordia Stingers

Playoff finish: RSEQ finalists / at-large berth
Regular season / playoff records: 10-6 / 1-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 65.6 points/game, 27th
Team defence: 60.4 points allowed/game, 10th

Team Leaders

Points per game: Myriam Leclerc, 18.8
Rebounds per game: Lodanna Lamonth, 9.2
Assists per game: Myriam Leclerc, 4.6

The Concordia Stingers makes its first appearance at the national championship since 1999.
Under the guidance of head coach Tenicha Gittens, Concordia finished second in the Quebec conference with a 10-6 record. The Stingers were ranked in the Top 10 for 12 of 13 weeks this season and peaked at No. 2 for three weeks. They wrapped up the regular season in the No. 10 spot. 

Concordia has a good balance of youth and experience. They have depended on RSEQ Rookie of the Year and first team all-star Myriam Leclerc, a five-foot-10 guard, to lead them alongside third-year guard Caroline Task, also a first team all-star. They finished first and third in conference scoring, averaging 18.8 and 15.6 points a game, respectively. 

A never-say-die team that plays aggressively and emphasizes defence, Concordia should not be underestimated

No. 8 Ryerson Rams

Playoff finish: OUA quarterfinalists / Hosts
Regular season / playoff records: 17-6 / 1-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 73.0 points/game, 17th
Team defence: 57.1 points allowed/game, 5th

Team Leaders

Points per game: Sofia Paska, 13.3
Rebounds per game: Sofia Paska, 7.8
Assists per game: Hayley Robertson, 4.3

The Ryerson Rams had a tough final weekend of their regular season dropping two straight games to York and Queen's to finish 17-6. The Rams began the season off strong on a nine-game win streak demonstrating their depth of an offence which finished third in the conference in field goal percentage (40.6). The Rams would dominate the first round of playoffs with an 85-40 win over Laurentian before losing to the Carleton Ravens in the OUA quarterfinals.

This will be the last season for three veteran superstars on the Rams: Sofia Paska, Katherine Follis and Cara Tiemens who were all part of the 2016-17 team that won the team's first OUA title and placed second at the National Championship.

(U of |R Athletics/USports Canada)