Friday, February 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. 

--Nailed it!  As so many including myself had predicted, Randy Ambrosie made fans in Saskatchewan and Hamilton happy yesterday as the CFL decided to "go for two" and announce the 2020 and 2021 Grey Cup hosts.  It was just a matter of who gets what game and almost right up until the announcement was made, it wasn't really clear.  It became a little murkier when a text from someone in Hamilton said it was us in 21 and them in 20 about 15 minutes before the actual announcement. That was quickly followed by a "I guess not".

It doesn't matter when the game is coming, but that the game is coming and football fans now can't wait for November 22, 2020 when the 108th Grey Cup will be the first Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium.  What a show it will be. With everyone gathering at Evraz Place for what should be an outstanding festival leading up to the game, it will show everyone again what Regina can do when the big events come to town.  We did it for the Brier and we did it for Memorial Cup.  When Regina is called to shine, we do.  Its the way we roll!   It is going to be a great few months in YQR getting ready for the game.  It will also be up for Jeremy O'Day and Craig Dickenson to have a team that can be in that game. What do they have up their sleeve moving forward.  Yes, the talk goes right back to the quarterback.

Perhaps it is time for O'Day to make a splash and get a quarterback that is here for this year and beyond.  It is time to get that guy.  It won't be Reilly and Mitchell.  Forget about Nichols and forget about Harris too. Streveler isn't your guy and let's not even bring up Manziel. See what the asking price is for James Franklin and give Hamilton a call and see what they would give up for Jeremiah Masoli.  Masoli just might be the guy the Riders need.  What's it worth? A call needs to be made.

--Randy Ambrosie will be at Mosaic Stadium for Randy's Road Trip 2.0 on Sunday afternoon.  I will be interested in seeing where Rider Nation goes with the questions he is asked and what is front and center on their minds.  Is it the schedule? Is it CFL 2.0? Is it officiating? Is it the CBA?  What will be main topic of discussion be?.  Ambrosie will be ready for all of it so for those who are going bring it on!

I would think the CBA is the most pressing issue, but fans don't want to know about what goes on behind the scenes, they want to talk about the product they see with their own two eyes. I am guessing we will get more people interested in things like officiating, player safety and possible rule changes ahead of whether or not we will play on time.  I guess we'll know on Sunday.

--Has anyone noticed we haven't been inundated with the Ford HotShots commercials during the Scotties?  It took me a couple of days to realize that.  Going back, I see Ford is no longer a major sponsor so that would explain it.  The question I have is why?  I am also hearing rumblings TSN may be wanting to get out of the curling game altogether and that Sportsnet is ready to jump in.  I don't know if I would be OK with that considering how much of a staple Vic Rauter has become to the game. As I have said many times, if it weren't for Vic Rauter, Ray Turnbull and Linda Moore, the sport in this country would not have the exposure it does.  Russ Howard and Cheryl Bernard have taken the torch left them and they've run with it.  Sportsnet does a great job and I like their personalities, but its not what TSN gives me.

--Jennifer Jones ahead of Sandra Schmirler when it comes to the all-time skip in Canadian women's curling. Puh-leeze!  The fact a member of the Jones rink took three of the four spots makes me wonder how many of the 31 who voted come from Manitoba.  Most of us in Saskatchewan know Sandra is the best all-time skip and we don't need verification of that.   I would love to see a best of seven between Sandra's squad and Jennifer's squad.  I think those of us in the 306 know who would take that and it wouldn't go seven!

--If the Canadian curling fraternity didn't know who Robyn Silvernagle was before, they do now.  She goes into the last day tied for first.  I think a lot of us knew she had a playoff-capable team,but I don't know if we thought her and her team would be as good as what they have been in their first Scotties.  She was understandably nervous in her first game and it showed against Jones.  She's not nervous now, but she is making other teams feel that way.  She should have a spot in the Page Playoffs.

--Yes, when I saw the Montreal Canadiens beat Philadelphia 5-0, I automatically thought Cam Talbot had made his debut in Philly orange.  While I didn't address the topic in Monday's column, I couldn't have been happier to see Talbot leave Edmonton.  Many praised him for his community work and that he was a nice guy.  Nice guys work for the Kinsmen Club!!  Cam Talbot needed to make some saves and he didn't make them. He had to be sent packing and he was.  While goaltending wasn't the number one issue plaguing the Oilers, there were games they could have won but didn't because he just didn't make the save.  Some might miss him, I won't.

--Dave Taylor's Cougar women's basketball team went into Calgary Thursday night and punched the Dinos right in the mouth.  So much for Calgary's 17-game win streak.  There is still a long ways to go in this best of three matchup, but one has to like Regina's chances after what happened Thursday with Regina's top player--Kyanna Giles, not having a big impact.  Michaela Kleisinger more than made up with that with four three-pointers which this blogger has no complaints about.

--On paper, it will go down as a 5-4 shootout win, but that win might have been the biggest of the year for the Regina Pats because of how it was achieved.  They were down 4-0 until the final couple of minutes in the second before storming back to tie it and win it in the shootout.  It is victories like that that can be huge moving forward for this team as they prepare for next season.  While the win-loss record isn't pretty this year, one has to see what this team is developing and think better times are ready to return.  I don't know if Regina is a playoff team next year, but they will be a lot closer to that than this year.

--The city of Regina has installed red-light cameras at Albert and Sask Drive, the Lewvan and Dewdney and Albert and Parliament.  May I request them to put one up at Fleet and Victoria? The amount of people that run the red on Vic going both east and westbound at that intersection is amazing. Is that intersection still one of the most dangerous in the city?

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

Thursday, February 21, 2019

GC 2020 Coming To Regina; 2021 To Hamilton

The Grey Cup has been awarded to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the City of Regina and the Province of Saskatchewan for 2020 and to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the City of Hamilton and the Province of Ontario for 2021, the Canadian Football League announced today.

“Congratulations to Saskatchewan on winning the bid for the 2020 Grey Cup. It’s exciting the Roughriders and their legion of fans, among the most passionate in all of sport, will cap the club’s 110th anniversary by welcoming the biggest event in Canadian sport,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

“We’re thrilled that Hamilton, which boasts a football tradition second to none, will welcome the Grey Cup in 2021, its first opportunity to host in 25 years. I know the Tiger-Cats look forward to showcasing the renaissance underway in the City of Hamilton, which will celebrate its 175th anniversary that year,” he said.

“Our Governors want to thank the Montreal Alouettes for a first-class bid. Unfortunately, 2021 was not an option for them because of expected renovations at Olympic Stadium. We certainly anticipate returning the Grey Cup in the future to the dynamic city that is Montreal and the welcoming province that is Quebec.”

The Canadian Football League’s new Grey Cup bidding system requires interested CFL teams and their partners to present their plans to the league’s Grey Cup Committee with the final choice resting with its Board of Governors. This is believed to be the first time in history that the league has awarded two Grey Cups at the same time.

“The Saskatchewan Roughriders are thrilled to host the 2020 Grey Cup in Canada’s newest outdoor stadium. We are excited to welcome the entire country to share in the culmination of our 110th anniversary and experience Saskatchewan’s legendary hospitality”, said Craig Reynolds, President and CEO of the community-owned Roughriders.

Saskatchewan last hosted the Grey Cup in 2013, with the Riders capturing the most prized trophy in Canadian sport on home soil in what may have been the most memorable day ever for Rider Nation.

“The 2021 Grey Cup will be a time to celebrate all that the Tiger-Cats and Canadian football mean to Tigertown,” said Bob Young, Caretaker of the Tiger-Cats since 2003. “But it’s also an opportunity for us to work with the City of Hamilton to showcase this community’s amazing growth and renaissance.”

Hamilton last hosted the Grey Cup in 1996, when the Toronto Argonauts captured the Cup in thrilling fashion in what is often described as the ‘Snow Bowl’, one of the most entertaining Grey Cup games ever.

Both Saskatchewan and Hamilton have moved into modern new venues since those Grey Cups: The Tiger-Cats have played at Tim Hortons Field since 2014 and the Roughriders moved into new Mosaic Stadium in 2017.

“We know both of these cities will build on the momentum that is sure to be created this November when Calgary hosts the 107th Grey Cup. Calgarians were the first to turn Canada’s championship game into a party that celebrates our game, our country and we know they’ll do a great job this year,” Ambrosie said.

“We have challenged our teams and their communities to raise the bar by making each Grey Cup the best ever. Edmonton took it to a new level last year and Calgary, Saskatchewan and Hamilton have put together plans that will continue to take the Grey Cup game and festival to new heights.”

Today’s announcement was made live on select TSN platforms as fans watched at special viewing parties across Saskatchewan and in Hamilton.

The 107th Grey Cup game will be played November 24, 2019 at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta. The 108th Grey Cup game will be played Sunday, November 22, 2020 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan. The 109th Grey Cup will be played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario on November 21, 2021.

The Grey Cup, traditionally played on the last Sunday in November, will be played on the second last Sunday in November starting in 2020, the result of the CFL moving its season up.

Riders Sign Kienan Lafrance

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national free-agent running back Kienan Lafrance to a one-year contract.             

Lafrance (5’10 – 214) joins the Riders after spending last season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, where he registered 36 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns in 16 regular-season games. He also played in the Western Semi-Final and Western Final.   

This will be Lafrance’s second stint with the Riders after spending the 2017 season with the team. The 27-year-old Winnipeg native was originally selected by the Ottawa Redblacks in the 6th round (45th overall) of the 2015 CFL Draft.

In 61 career regular-season games through four seasons, Lafrance has totaled 147 carries for 590 yards and four touchdowns and 36 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He’s added six career playoff games and two Grey Cup games – winning with the Redblacks in 2016. 

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Riders Announce Football Operations and 2019 Coaching Staff

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced their football operations and coaching staff for the 2019 season:     

Vice President, Football Operations & General Manager: Jeremy O’Day
Assistant General Manager: Paul Jones
Director, Football Operations: Ryan Pollock
Manager, Player Personnel: Mike Davis
Coordinator, Football Operations: Jordan Greenly

Coaching Staff 
Head Coach & Special Teams Coordinator: Craig Dickenson
Offensive Coordinator & Assistant Head Coach: Stephen McAdoo
Defensive Coordinator & Defensive Backs: Jason Shivers
Quarterbacks: Steve Walsh
Running Backs:  Kent Maugeri
Receivers: Travis Moore
Offensive Line: Stephen Sorrells
Linebackers:  Chris Tormey
Defensive Line:  Mike Scheper
Special Teams: Merritt Bowden
Defensive Assistant & Assistant Defensive Backs:. Richard Kent

Equipment Staff 
Equipment Manager; Gordon Gilroy
Assistant Equipment Manager: Mike MacNeil
Video Staff
Manager, Football Analytics and Scouting:  Chad Hudson
Football Video & Research and Development : Alex Smith Jr.
Football Video & Research and Development: Nick Bowley

Health & Fitness 

Head Athletic Therapist: Ryan Raftis
Assistant Athletic Therapist: Trevor Len
Strength and Conditioning Trainer:  Clinton Spencer

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Thursday (all times CST)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Basketball – at Calgary, 7:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 1 (Vancouver, B.C.)

Friday (all times CST)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Basketball – at Calgary, 7:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 2 (Vancouver, B.C.)
Track & Field – at Canada West Championships, Day 1 (Edmonton, Alta.)

Saturday (all times CST)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (CKHS) – if necessary
Women’s Basketball – at Calgary, 7:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.) – if necessary
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 3 (Vancouver, B.C.)
Track & Field – at Canada West Championships, Day 2 (Edmonton, Alta.)

Women’s Volleyball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 10) – The Cougars needed a Calgary sweep over UBC last weekend to hang on to the No. 4 spot in the Canada West standings and that’s exactly what happened. The Dinos’ two wins over the Thunderbirds ensured the Cougars would host a home playoff series for the third time in history and for the first time since 2010, as they’ll host a best-of-three quarterfinal against UBC starting on Thursday night (7:00). The second match is set for Friday night (7:00) with a third match – if it’s needed – to be played on Saturday night with a slightly earlier start time of 6:00.

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 5) – The Cougars shook off the rust from their first-round bye to defeat Victoria in two straight games in a quarterfinal series at the CKHS, winning 71-51 over the Vikes on Thursday and closing out the series with an 81-60 victory on Friday. The series win moves the No. 3-seeded Cougars into this weekend’s Canada West semifinals, and they’ll travel to Calgary to square off with the Dinos in a best-of-three series that begins Thursday. The winner of that series not only will meet the winner of the Saskatchewan/Lethbridge series to decide the conference championship, but will also get an automatic berth to the 2019 U SPORTS Championship in Toronto.

Swimming – The Cougars finish off their 2018-19 season this weekend at the U SPORTS Championships, which will be hosted by the University of British Columbia from Thursday through Saturday. A total of eight swimmers will represent the U of R at the U SPORTS meet, including Ryan Jensen, Brian Palaschuk, Etienne Paquin-Foisy, Kareem Tarek Mohammed, Brendan Van Herk, and Noah Wasyliw on the men’s side and Bree Crookshanks and McKinley Penner on the women’s side.

Track & Field – The men’s and women’s teams will head up to Edmonton this weekend for the Canada West Championships on Friday and Saturday. A number of U of R athletes come into the meet ranked highly in the conference including Joely Welburn in both the high jump and long jump, Reagan Fedak in the weight throw, Greg Hetterley in both the 1000 and 1500, Shane Patmore in the long jump, and the men’s 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars’ season ended in Saskatoon on Friday after a loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West quarterfinals. They were defeated 99-68 in Game 1 on Thursday, and Saskatchewan took a 97-77 win the following night to advance to the conference semifinals. The Cougars could return almost everyone from this season’s team that was 14-6 in Canada West play with the exception of forward Kornel Tokolyi, the U of R’s lone graduating player.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars travelled to the West Coast for a best-of-three quarterfinal series against UBC but lost in two straight games, falling 5-0 and 5-1 to the Thunderbirds on Friday and Saturday. The series marked the final two games for veterans Emma Waldenberger and Nikki Watters-Matthes, who both graduate after five full years with the program.

Monday, February 18, 2019

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Kucherov, Tarasenko, Crosby

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 17.


Kucherov recorded multiple points in all three of his appearances, totaling 3-7—10 to propel the League-leading Lightning (44-11-4, 92 points) to a perfect week and their fifth straight win overall. Kucherov opened the week with consecutive four-point performances, collecting 1‑3—4 in both a 6-3 triumph against the Calgary Flames Feb. 12 and a 6-0 victory over the Dallas Stars Feb. 14. That marked the second time this season that Kucherov has posted four-plus points in consecutive team games (also Dec. 22-27: 2-7—9 in 2 GP) – the only two such instances in franchise history. He added 1-1—2 (including the winning goal) in a 3-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 16, Kucherov’s fourth straight multi-point outing overall (5‑8—13). The 25-year-old Maykop, Russia, native owns a seven-point lead atop this season’s Art Ross Trophy Race, pacing the NHL with 27-67—94 in 59 games. Kucherov, who led the League with five power-play points last week (1‑4—5), also has an NHL-best 37 power-play points in 2018-19 (11-26—37).


Tarasenko also registered multiple points in each of his contests, compiling 4-6—10 in four games to help the Blues (31-22-5, 67 points) match a franchise record with their 10th straight victory overall. Tarasenko posted his fourth career three-assist performance – and first since Dec. 9, 2016 (0-3—3 at NJD) – in an 8-3 win against the New Jersey Devils Feb. 12. He then scored twice, his fifth multi-goal outing of the season, in a 4-0 triumph over the Arizona Coyotes Feb. 14. Tarasenko capped the week with the winning goal in each of his final two contests, posting 1-1—2 in a 3-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche Feb. 16 and 1-2—3 in a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild Feb. 17. In doing so, the 27-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia, native eclipsed the 400-point milestone (204-197—401 in 478 GP), requiring the fifth-fewest games in franchise history to achieve the feat. Tarasenko ranks second on St. Louis with 26-25—51 overall this season (57 GP), highlighted by 11-11—22 during a career-high 12-game point streak.


Crosby notched 2-8—10 in four outings to lift the Penguins (31-21-7, 69 points) to a trio of wins and into the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. He recorded 1-2—3 in a 4-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 11, upping his totals to 40-57—97 in 65 career contests against Pittsburgh’s intrastate rival. Crosby then picked up one assist in a 3-1 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers Feb. 13. He finished the week with back-to-back three-point performances, registering 1-2—3 in a 5-4 loss to the Calgary Flames Feb. 16 and 0-3—3 in a 6-5 win over the New York Rangers Feb. 17. The 31-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner ranks eighth in the NHL with 25-47—72 in 56 total games this season, his sixth straight 70-point campaign.

Something To "Mitch" About

--Yeah, it's late, but it's a holiday Monday, I'm under the weather and there was curling on this morning, but here is the Monday column.

--Rider Nation is on pins and needles wondering if the 2020 Grey Cup game is coming to Mosaic Stadium.  At first, I thought it was a slamdunk when the Riders said there would be viewing parties set up Thursday afternoon, but then I found out Hamilton was doing the same thing.  One would think you wouldn't hold a party unless you knew what the verdict was going to be, but someone is going to be disappointed. 

I have heard from a couple of people that Commissioner Randy Ambrosie will announce both the 2020 game and 2021 game for Saskatchewan and Hamilton or vice-versa so maybe that will be the case.  I guess we will have to wait.   Hamilton hasn't had the game in over two decades so they do deserve to showcase Tim Hortons Field and have the game back here, but everyone knows what a Grey Cup in Regina will be like.  As for Montreal, they seem to have been shut out of the picture altogether.

--The first wave of CFL free agency is over.  The news of free agent signings has started to trickle to a slowdown with announcements here and there.  Looking over what is left, there is still some value out there.

Names like Vidal Hazelton, Terrence Toliver, Weston Dressler, Jon Gott, Tristan Okpaulougo, Marcus Ball and Ciante Evans are still out there.  They can help someone.  I would have to think the Riders would like to add another receiver and then some depth in certain areas.

--How can you not like the Brett Lauther story?  When Tyler Crapigna went down last year, many wondered if Lauther could come in here after being out of the game for so-long and contribute.  We got our answer to that question early on.  As we found out, he ended up being quite the weapon for the green-and-white.  Where would they have been had it not been for him? I am guessing they aren't 12-6 and hosting a home playoff game.   If Lauther can even come close to duplicating what he did in 18, both this season and in 2020, he can look forward to what I'm sure will be another nice payday.

--I can't be the only one who isn't surprised that Ricky Ray hasn't announced his retirement yet.  I just can't see him coming back after last year's neck injury. He isn't really thinking about coming back to play is he?  If so why?  He has done everything you would want and a call from the CFL Hall of Fame will come..

--People in this country were quick to pounce on the fact that there was hardly anyone in the stands at the AAF game in Memphis this weekend.  620 CKRM Rider football analyst Luc Mullinder was quick to point out CFL fans shouldn't be gloating at that when there are attendance issues in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.  He is right!

--How can people in Ontario bitch and moan about the fact they were woken up because of an Amber Alert? There is no debating it, if you were one of those people, you are a horrible human being. You can't defend yourself on that one and it looks even worse because tragically the girl the Amber Alert was put on ended up dead.  Be proud!

--Regina mayor Michael Fougere, Chamber CEO John Hopkins, AGT Foods founder Murad al-Katib and another gentleman played some songs together at the Mayor's state of the city address last week.  I wish I would have seen that.  I now have to ask if this group can sit down and play "Experience Regina".  That needs to happen.  Yes it does!!

--Don Cherry certainly opened up a hornet's nest with his thoughts on the Carolina Hurricanes post-game celebrations.   I agree with some of what Cherry says, but on this one I am firmly on the other side.  There is no harm in what the Hurricanes are doing at all.  Cherry thinks the "schtick" is dumb, but has no problem with the "schtick" that is his wardrobe.  Cmon Don!  It's called having fun and professional sport needs more of that.

--I watched 5 minutes of the NBA all-star game on Sunday.  In honesty, it was 4 minutes more than I thought I would.  The 5 minutes I saw certainly wasn't basketball.  Can we please just get rid of all-star games and continue the season  I don't see the need for them anymore.

--Robyn Silvernagle has had a nice start at the Scotties, She is an inch or two from being 3-0 as she came oh so close to beating Jennifer Jones in her opener on Saturday.  There is still a long ways to go, but Silvernagle could so some damage in Sydney before all is said and done.  Everyone expects Jones and Rachel Homan to battle in the final and I understand that, but if any rink is going to throw a monkeywrench into that plan, it could be Silvernagle and her North Battleford gang.

--When you look outside and see what it is like and then you turn the channel on Sunday afternoon and see the PGA's Genesis Open being played, it makes your heart sink just a little.  Spring is coming right?

--It has probably taken you longer to read this than Cain Velasquez's effort in the octagon on Sunday, All it took was 26 seconds for Yannick Ngannout to turn out Velasquez's lights  The man is a bonafide monster!

--Happy Family Day everyone!   Enjoy the week!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Jefferson Ready For Life As A Bomber

Willie Jefferson had options, the way you’d think a two-time CFL all-star with freakish athletic ability would have.

The quarterback’s worst nightmare landed in Winnipeg, Friday, saying it was pretty hairy acting as his own agent in free agency, there were so many teams that wanted him.

“Pretty much everybody,” the 28-year-old former Rider said. “Doing the things I’ve been doing the last two years, a couple of teams were really hot on my line, Winnipeg being one of them.”

Some current Bombers helped bring Jefferson to Winnipeg: O-lineman Stanley Bryant, whom he’s knocked heads with, receiver Darvin Adams and former teammates like Nic Demski (Saskatchewan) and Matt Nichols (Edmonton).

“Matt was on my phone, heavy,” Jefferson said.

Little wonder, as the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder gave the Bomber quarterback fits last season, most notably with a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Banjo Bowl.

“He almost single-handedly beat us,” Bomber GM Kyle Walters recalled.

Nichols convinced Jefferson this is a good place to live and work, a nice contract from Walters worth some $200,000 did the rest.

Even if trading green-and-white for blue-and-gold doesn’t come easy.

“When the conversations first did start, I was kind of hesitant to come this way,” Jefferson said, noting the rivalry. “But it’s a business. And then once I looked at their side of things, it really became clear which organization really was going after me the most.”

There’s also the fact Winnipeg is a contender, with another of the CFL’s top defenders at linebacker, in Adam Bighill.

Signed for one year, Jefferson says if he likes it, he’ll stay.

But first things first.

“Hopefully we can make something big happen.”

(Winnipeg Sun)

Jones Looks To Make History In Sydney

Jennifer Jones will begin her quest for history on Saturday when the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts gets underway at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S.

Jones heads into the 2019 Scotties with six past victories, including last year at Penticton, B.C., at the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, tying her with her longtime teammate Jill Officer and Nova Scotia’s legendary skip Colleen Jones.

Officer, who has stepped away from competitive curling this season, will be the alternate for Jennifer Jones’s Team Canada lineup in Sydney.

Jones, with her current Winnipeg team of vice-skip Kaitlyn Lawes, new second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Dawn McEwen, Officer at alternate will open play on Saturday night (5:30 p.m. Saskatchewan time) against Saskatchewan’s Robyn Silvernagle 

The first draw of the 2019 Scotties will be Saturday at  12:30 p.m., which is when home-province hopeful Jill Brothers and her Nova Scotia team from Halifax hits the ice for the first time, taking on B.C.’s Sarah Wark (Abbotsford).

Also in that first draw will be 2017 Scotties champ Ontario’s Rachel Homan (Ottawa), who is pursuing her fourth Canadian title in the past seven years, and will be taking on 2016 Scotties silver-medallist Krista McCarville of Northern Ontario (Thunder Bay), while 2016 Scotties champ Chelsea Carey of Alberta (Calgary) is up against Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury (East St. Paul).

On Friday night, Casey Schiedigger of Lethbridge became the wild-card team with a victory over Kerri Einarsson of Winnipeg. as she is the 16th and final entry at the Scotties. 

he 16 teams are split into two pools of eight, based on their Canadian Team Ranking System standing as of Dec. 31; the Wild Card winner will be the No. 3 seed.

They will play seven round-robin games within their pool, with the top four teams in each pool moving into the Championship Pool. The four teams from Pool A will play the four teams from Pool B Thursday and Friday, and then the top four win-loss records (including the preliminary round) will move into the traditional Page playoffs beginning Saturday.

The gold-medal game is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24; the winner will represent Canada at the 2019 LGT World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Pioneer Hi-Bred, March 16-24 in Silkeborg, Denmark, and also will return as Team Canada to the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Teams listed according to seeding, and listed in order of skip, vice-skip, second, lead, alternate, coach; hometown and CTRS ranking as of Dec. 31)


1. Ontario, Rachel Homan (Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, Lisa Weagle, Marcel Rocque; Ottawa, 1)
4.  Manitoba, Tracy Fleury (Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe, Kristin MacCuish, Taylor McDonald, Andrea Ronnebeck; East St. Paul, 4)
5. Alberta, Chelsea Carey (Sarah Wilkes, Dana Ferguson, Rachel Brown, Dan Carey; Calgary, 6)
8. British Columbia, Sarah Wark (Kristen Pilote, Carley Sandwith, Jen Rusnell, Michelle Dunn, Rick Fewster; Abbotsford, 26)
9. Northern Ontario, Krista McCarville (Kendra Lilly, Jen Gates, Sarah Potts, Lorraine Lang, Rick Lang; Thunder Bay, 30)
12. Nova Scotia, Jill Brothers (Erin Carmody, Sarah Murphy, Jenn Brine, Kim Kelly, Taylor Ardiel; Halifax, 53)
13. Quebec, Gabrielle Lavoie (Patricia Boudreault, Anna Munroe, Julie Daigle, Marie-France Larouche, Daniel Charette; Quebec City/Saint-Romuald, NR)

16. Nunavut, Jenine Bodner [throws second] (Jennifer Blaney [throws fourth], Alison Griffin [throws third], Megan Ingram, Sadie Pinksen, Susanne Martin; Iqaluit, NR)


2. Team Canada, Jennifer Jones (Kaitlyn Lawes, Jocelyn Peterman, Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, Viktor Kjäll; Winnipeg, 
3. Wild Card:  Casey Schiedigger (Carrie-Anne McTaggart, Jessie Haughian, Kristie Moore)
6. Saskatchewan, Robyn Silvernagle (Stefanie Lawton, Jessie Hunkin, Kara Thevenot, Marliese Kasner, Lesley McEwan; North Battleford, 8)
7. Prince Edward Island, Suzanne Birt (Marie Christianson, Meaghan Hughes, Michelle McQuaid, Mitch O’Shea; Charlottetown, 22)
10. Northwest Territories, Kerry Galusha (Sarah Koltun, Brittany Tran, Shona Barbour, John Epping; Yellowknife, 31)
11. New Brunswick, Andrea Crawford (Jillian Babin, Jennifer Armstrong, Katie Forward, Charlie Sullivan; Saint John, 44)
14. Yukon, Nicole Baldwin (Hailey Birnie, Ladene Shaw, Helen Strong, Wade Scoffin; Whitehorse, NR)

15. Newfoundland/Labrador, Kelli Sharpe (Stephanie Guzzwell, Beth Hamilton, Carrie Vautour, Michelle Jewer, Leslie Anne Walsh; St. John’s, NR)

(Curling Canada) 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Who Hosts GC 2020? The Answer Comes Thursday

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The Canadian Football League (CFL) is set to award the 2020 Grey Cup on Thursday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m. ET which will be carried live on select TSN platforms.

The League’s Grey Cup Committee has reviewed bids for what will be the 108th Grey Cup from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders, and their respective partners, with the final decision resting with the CFL Board of Governors.

“We want to thank all three organizations for first-class bids, any one of which would continue to take the Grey Cup game and festival to new heights,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

“We look forward to next Thursday and the excitement it will generate at the same time we plan to ‘Experience The Energy’ at what we know will be a great 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw this November in Calgary.”

Saskatchewan Roughriders President & CEO Craig Reynolds:

"We want to thank the CFL and the Grey Cup committee for their diligence throughout the bid process. 

We feel like we put forth a strong and compelling bid to host the 2020 Grey Cup in our 110th anniversary year where we will be able to showcase Mosaic Stadium and Saskatchewan's incredible hospitality. 

We encourage our fans to come together on February 21st as we anxiously await the announcement.”

The 2020 Grey Cup  announcement can be watched live on TSN at 5:30pm Thursday, February 21.

Three Canadian Brewhouse locations will be hosting Grey Cup announcement watch parties – Regina Grasslands, Regina Eastgate, Stonebridge Saskatoon. Roughrider players are scheduled to be in attendance at each location.

Riders Re-Sign Roosevelt, Sign Arceneaux and Extend Lauther

Picture: Courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have re-signed international receiver Naaman Roosevelt to a one-year contract.

Roosevelt (6’1 – 195) will remain with the Riders after spending the previous four seasons with the Green and White.

Last season, the 31-year-old Buffalo native registered 48 receptions for 570 yards and four touchdowns in 14 regular-season appearances. He added seven receptions for 79 yards in the Western Semi-Final.

Through four CFL seasons with the Riders, Roosevelt has totaled 224 catches for 3,188 yards and 19 touchdowns. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Roosevelt was named a West Division All-Star in 2017 and nominated as the Riders’ Most Outstanding Player in 2016.


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international free-agent receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux to a one-year contract.

Arceneaux (6’2 – 210) has signed with the Riders after eight CFL seasons with the B.C. Lions.

Through 129 career regular-season games, Arceneaux has registered 556 receptions for 8,169 yards and 55 touchdowns. He has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark four times (2010, 15-17) including a career-high 1,566 yards in 2016.

Last season, the 31-year-old Alcorn State product had 32 catches for 553 yards and one touchdown in nine regular-season games.

Arceneaux was named a CFL All-Star in 2015 and 2016, and a West Division All-Star in 2015, 2016 and 2017.


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national kicker Brett Lauther to a one-year contract extension, keeping him with the club through 2020.

Lauther (6’1 – 195) spent 2018 with the Riders after signing with the team last March.

The 28-year-old Saint Mary’s product connected on 54 of 60 field-goal attempts (90%) including a 56-yard long. The 90% success rate was the second-best in franchise history and the 56-yarder is the seventh-longest successful kick.

Lauther had two games going a perfect 6-for-6 and another two connecting on all five field-goal attempts.

At the end of the season Lauther was selected as a West Division All-Star. He was also named the Riders’ 2018 Most Outstanding Special-Teams Player and Most Outstanding Canadian.

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

This And That

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

--Rider Nation isn't exactly the happiest fan-base right now after the early days of CFL free agency.  The wishes they had weren't exactly answered.  The news Zach Collaros was coming back was met with a hard resounding "thud" by many.   I think we all knew Mike Reilly wasn't coming here and despite the fact the team did make a solid offer to Bo Levi Mitchell, there shouldn't be anyone surprised that he is back in Calgary.  He says he left more money on the table, but a part of me thinks he was  trolling the Riders and Toronto as there was no way he was leaving Calgary after failing to find work in the NFL.

Yes, I am surprised Collaros is back.  Despite what he said on Wednesday, I don't think he liked his time very much in Riderville last year because of the way things went.  I am also surprised that considering his health that the Riders reached out to him. No matter where Collaros would have played this year, there is a fear that we are going to see his brains get scrambled again and it won't be good.  Collaros has become a modern-day Buck Pierce.  Pierce was smart enough to get out as was Dave Dickenson back in the day.  I am sure the team knows where he stands health-wise, but I am also guessing that health status takes a dramatic turn downwards once he takes that first big hit.

This may sound like I'm not a Collaros fan, but I am.  I just want to see him play the game to his best abilities and not have another concussion derail his future.  I'd be saying the same thing if he had employment with any other team.  We didn't see the real Collaros last year because of the concussion he suffered in the pre-season when he was folded up in what I think was his second series of the pre-season.  A healthy Zach Collaros can be a very good Zach Collaros. In fact, I am on record as saying a healthy Zach Collaros is better than Trevor Harris.  The move doesn't excite me, but I'm not disappointed either.  Keeping Zach healthy is priority #1.

--Collaros also talked about player safety and how the league isn't doing enough.  Rider fans are still upset seeing their number one and two quarterbacks get clocked with vicious head shots.  Collaros isn't the happiest of campers.  I asked Zach if he thought the CFL should adopt a targetting rule like they have in the NCAA and he said he would be in favour of it.  I think a lot of quarterbacks would be as well.

“I think it would be a good step moving forward, but again I don’t make the decisions,” Collaros said. “I don’t know if it’s helped the play down there but it’s helped player safety. It’s made defenders or even offensive guys more cautious about taking that cheap shot.”  Odell Willis and Jackson Jeffcoat knew the most they would get if the penalty was called was 15 yards.  An ejection and a fine with possibly a suspension for repeat violators would quiet this issue down.

--I am trying to figure out if BC or Edmonton won the day when it comes to free agency.  BC got the biggest player in Mike Reilly, but what a Plan B by Brock Sunderland.  Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson and Sir Vincent Rogers should more than appease Eskimo supporters who weren't happy with the loss of Reilly.  You know Sunderland's time in Ottawa played a big part in getting the three former REDBLACKS to reunite with him in Edmonton.    Meanwhile, Ed Hervey took some nice pieces from around the league to build around Reilly.  Do these guys know in advance what the salary cap is going to be this year?  They both seemed to spend as if money was no option.

At the end of the day, the teams in the West took a big step up while the Riders didn't.  William Powell and Micah Johnson are solid additions, but when you look at what the other teams did, the green-and-white has some work to do if they don't want to be left behind.  Some might think its too late as it is.  One also must remember as Jeremy O'Day said Wednesday, Grey Cups are not won in February.  Some might not have faith in J-O, but I don't think he is done tweaking this team as he tries to make it better.  Training camp is a ways away yet and O'Day has time to continue working on things.

--I like the Naaman Roosevelt signing.  He brings something to the field and to the room.  He is a quiet leader.  All rooms need guys like him.  Like Collaros, he needs to stay healthy.  When he is, he is a big weapon as Rider Nation knows.

--Would the Riders make an offer to Weston Dressler?  Should they make an offer to Weston Dressler? There is no doubt he is still beloved by Rider Nation and he was the one mistake player-wise Chris Jones made when he cleaned house.  I think a lot of people would like to see WD7 finish his career with the same team he started it with.

--Why is it when someone leaves a franchise in free agency, the hate starts?  It happened again on Tuesday with a lot of negative comments being thrown at Mike Reilly, Greg Ellingson and apparently Willie Jefferson.  This just in, YOU DON"T MATTER!!  Guys are making decisions based on what is best for them.  Are you going to tell me if you had an opportunity to make things better for yourself that you wouldn't take it?  It's not just Rider fans, its fans of all teams.  It's a really bad look.

--It was reported the Denver Broncos were interested in signing Bo Levi Mitchell.  That obviously didn't happen. BLM had stated he wanted an opportunity to compete for a job and be a backup.  The Broncos didn't take a guy who has been the CFL MOP twice and still has a lot to give opting instead to make a trade for an aging Joe Flacco.  I'd rather have BLM if I were the Broncos.  This just shows you that it is very tough for CFL guys to make it south of the border especially at the marquee positions.  When a two time MOP can't make the NFL, it says something.  The same could be said for guys like Adam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian who have gone down and failed.  It just makes what guys like Brett Jones have done that much greater.

By the way, Joe Flacco?  Like Chris Jones, it would seem as if John Elway can't find a young quarterback to develop.  Unlike Chris Jones, Elway should know what a young quarterback needs to have and he obviously doesn't by looking at the flotsam he has brought in over the years.  Tim Tebow, Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum.  That's not exactly a murderers row is it!

--The Anaheim Ducks aren't making the playoffs.  Here's hoping once the trade deadline hits that Sam Steel is called up from San Diego. Steel is obviously a big part of Anaheim's future so you might as well get him some meaningful minutes now.

--Is Brayden Point the second best Moose Jaw Warrior behind Theoren Fleury.  A solid argument could be made for Ryan Smyth, but one has to think if Point continues doing what he is and gets his name scrawled on the Stanley Cup that it will be him.  Feel free to weigh in Warriors fans!

--It wasn't surprising, but it is disappointing to see the Chicago Cubs are leaving WGN TV after more than 70 years.  People in Chicago and around North America won't be able to watch the team on free TV anymore as the Cubs get set to launch their own channel which is something other teams have done.  It sucks for the fans, but its the next wave when it comes to what teams are doing these days.   If it weren't for WGN in the early 80's and daytime baseball at Wrigley Field, I might never have fallen in love with that team the way I have.  WGN is the Cubs to me and vice-versa.  Before becoming a subscriber to MLBTV,  WGN was my outlet for Cubs baseball.  It won't be the same not watching them on Channel 9, but as mentioned, it is the way the business is going these days.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Randy's RoadTrip 2.0 Coming To A CFL City Near You

Throughout the 2019 offseason, Commissioner Randy Ambrosie will travel across Canada to meet with fans in every Canadian Football League (CFL) market in a series of town halls.‘Randy’s Road Trip’ will kick off on February 19 in Calgary and conclude March 30 in Atlantic Canada.

 This marks the second year in a row that Ambrosie has gone coast-to-coast to interact with fans.
“I very much enjoyed my last Road Trip, which was full of great conversations and important opportunities to answer questions,” said Ambrosie. “I know how knowledgeable and passionate our fans are, and I think we have a lot to learn from each other. I’m excited to ask for their feedback on some big new ideas.”

At each stop on his tour, Ambrosie will connect with fans in public forums that give them the opportunity to ask their questions and have their say.

Exact times and locations will be announced to participants at a later date. Below is the schedule:

Feb 19: Calgary
Feb 24: Saskatchewan (Regina)
Feb 27: BC (Vancouver)
March 1: Winnipeg
March 7: Hamilton
March 8: Toronto
March 9: Ottawa
March 13: Montreal
March 14: Edmonton
March 30: Atlantic Canada

Chris Kunitz Hits the 1000 Game Mark

 When Chris Kunitz signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1, he joined a team that already had its share of Stanley Cup winners.

But Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said the 39-year-old forward, who has won the Cup four times (with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, 2016 and 2017), brought a different voice and perspective that was immediately welcomed.

"It's nice to have someone like that, that you can talk to about their different experiences, and not just for us but for the young guys, as well," Kane said. "There's a lot of talk about the success the Blackhawks have had in the past, but he's won four Stanley Cups, none of them with the Blackhawks. He knows what it takes to win, so it's good to lean on someone like that."

 Kunitz will play in his 1,000th NHL game when the Blackhawks host the New Jersey Devils at United Center on Thursday.  He has had a tremendous career, with 613 points (264 goals, 349 assists) in 999 NHL games with the Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Blackhawks.

"Obviously, I've had a lot of great teammates and coaches and great opportunities to be part of this League for so long, so those are the first things that cross your mind," said Kunitz, who has four points (one goal, three assists) in 33 games with Chicago. "Just how your career evolves and all the people you've come across, how your own family gets to be part of different things. I'm very fortunate to be in this League a long time and have some successful years that make those memories a lot more vivid.

"So it's just creating those relationships, but also being part of some special organizations and people who gave you opportunities to make a life-long dream of doing a kid's job."

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton called Kunitz "a great person, a great teammate."

"His career has been fantastic, and I think he's been playing pretty well lately, giving us professional shifts," Colliton said. "He does a lot of little things away from the puck. There's a reason why he's had so much success as a player and played on championship teams over and over again. To have that presence on the team, certainly we have a few guys like that, but the more the merrier."

Kunitz was an undrafted free agent out of Ferris State when the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim signed him in 2003. On teams that included forward Teemu Selanne and defensemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, each now in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Kunitz found his niche as a net-front presence.

"Once you get [to the NHL], you realize you have to do something to create a different outcome in the game and when you can do that, someone will rely upon you and put you out there consistently," he said. "For me, it worked to go to the net front on the power play and play with some good players.

"I didn't have to beat too many people at skill, I just had to get to the right spot for a lot of those guys."

On the way to scoring 192 points (81 goals, 111 assists) in 397 games with the Ducks, Kunitz also took leadership aspects from some of those veterans.

"Learning from [Selanne] and seeing how much he worked at his craft and how much he enjoyed the game every single day, even into his later years, the calm presence that [Niedermayer] always brought and the fieriness of [defenseman] Chris Pronger," Kunitz said. "A lot of great players that you've come across, you just kind of take bits and pieces of their energy, try to mold that into yourself, try to keep doing it every day as long as you can."

When the Ducks traded Kunitz and center Eric Tangradi to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Ryan Whitney on Feb. 26, 2009, Kunitz bolstered Pittsburgh's secondary scoring. He had 388 points (169 goals, 219 assists) in 569 games with Pittsburgh, setting NHL career highs in points (68) and goals (35) in 2013-14. He usually played on a line with center Sidney Crosby, who said Kunitz brought the same reliable game every night.

"He played on both sides of the puck really well," Crosby said. "Competed offensively, but then he could block a shot with a big play defensively as well. He scored timely goals and he read the play well. I mean, I think he's a guy that, over the years, we talked a lot in practice and in games. It felt like we were always able to adjust and that's something that, to his credit too, he's able to find different ways to be productive."

Penguins goalie Matt Murray compared Kunitz to center Matt Cullen, who also won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017. Murray said each player had a big impact on him.

"As a young guy, you can be pretty apprehensive coming into a league with such good players and playing with grown men for the first time. They really helped me settle in, and I know they did for a lot of the young guys," the 24-year-old said. "So, I know [Kunitz] was a big factor in obviously us winning the Cup. He's been through it all, he's seen a lot of different scenarios. I mean, he has four Cups, right? So, four Cups speaks for itself."

Kunitz signed a one-year contract with the Lightning on July 1, 2017, and had 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 82 games with Tampa Bay last season before joining the Blackhawks.

Kunitz doesn't know how much longer he'll play. With that in mind, he has been more reflective lately, and he has a tremendous career on which to look back.

"You remember a lot of the different people you've come across, look at some of the rosters of players who had those little moments, who took you out to dinners in your first days," Kunitz said. "You take that into perspective now and how much it means at the moment to be part of something bigger than just being in the League."

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Thursday (all times CST)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Victoria, 7:00 PM (Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport)
Men’s Basketball – at Saskatchewan, 8:00 PM (Saskatoon, Sask.)

Friday (all times CST)
Women’s Hockey – at UBC, 6:00 PM (Vancouver, B.C.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Victoria, 7:00 PM (Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport)
Men’s Basketball – at Saskatchewan, 8:00 PM (Saskatoon, Sask.)

Saturday (all times CST)
Women’s Hockey – at UBC, 6:00 PM (Vancouver, B.C.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Victoria, 7:00 PM (Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport) – if necessary
Men’s Basketball – at Saskatchewan, 8:00 PM (Saskatoon, Sask.) – if necessary

Sunday (all times CST)
Women’s Hockey – at UBC, 4:00 PM (Vancouver, B.C.) – if necessary

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 6) – After a bye through the first round of the Canada West postseason, the No. 3-seeded Cougars host a best-of-three quarterfinal series against No. 7 seed Victoria at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport. The teams played earlier this year in Victoria, with the Cougars winning 85-50 in the first game of the weekend doubleheader but falling 70-69 to the Vikes the next night. Game 1 and Game 2 are set for Thursday and Friday, respectively, with a third game set for Saturday if it’s needed. All games will tip off at 7:00 PM at the CKHS.

Men’s Basketball – Myles Hamilton scored 29 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the Cougars to a 106-83 home win over Mount Royal in a Canada West play-in game on Friday. That sets up a showdown against Saskatchewan in the conference quarterfinals in Saskatoon, with the best-of-three series set to go Thursday through Saturday. All games will tip off at 8:00 PM at the Physical Activity Complex on the U of S campus.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars were topped 6-1 and 1-0 on the road by UBC last weekend in what was their final two games of the Canada West schedule. They finish with 34 points in 28 Canada West games, which puts them at sixth in the conference standings and sets up a rematch with the Thunderbirds in a best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver that starts Friday.

Women’s Volleyball – The surging Cougars capped their conference schedule with a pair of road wins over Manitoba, winning in three sets on Friday and in four sets on Saturday to finish with a 16-8 Canada West record. It’s been a monumental season for the U of R – the Cougars set a program record for wins (16), finished with the second best winning percentage (.667) in program history, and head into the postseason riding a school-record 10-match winning streak. They have this weekend off, and will know by Saturday whether they finish fourth or fifth in the Canada West standings.

Track & Field – Greg Hetterley won the 1000-metre run at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston on Saturday and set a pair of records in the process. His time of 2:24.84 is not only a University of Regina record, but also breaks a mark of 2:25.91 that had stood since 1990 as the fastest time ever by a Saskatchewan resident. The rest of the Cougars competed at the Pandas Open in Edmonton and the Regina Indoor Games as the teams had their final tune-up meets leading up to the Canada West Championships, which will be held in Edmonton on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.

Swimming – The Cougars had their final tune-up competition before the U SPORTS meet this past weekend, as the teams headed up to Saskatoon to participate in the Goldfins Brainsport Winter Classic. Bree Crookshanks highlighted the meet with a stellar win in the 100-metre breaststroke, with her time of 1:11.84 standing as her long-course personal best and lifting her into the No. 6 ranking nationally in the event. The Cougars will have next weekend away from competition before competing at the U SPORTS Championships from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 in Vancouver.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars bid farewell to fifth-year forwards Corey Kosloski and Zach McPhee on Saturday as both players appeared in the final game of their U SPORTS careers. Regina closed out the 2018-19 season with a pair of home losses to UBC, falling 5-1 to the Thunderbirds on Friday and 2-0 the next day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Collaros Says He is Healthy and Ready To Make Amends For 2018 Season

Picture: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The last time Rider fans saw Zach Collaros he was walking off the field after absorbing his third concussion of the 2018 season in a game against the B.C Lions.   Many thought Collaros’ days in green-and-white were over and maybe his CFL career was as well.

That isn’t the case though as Collaros is back with the football team having signed a one-year deal with them on Tuesday.  He was back at Mosaic Stadium Wednesday saying its time to get back to work and he is excited about it.

“I feel great!” Collaros proclaimed. “I’m not surprised to be back.  I spoke with Coach Dickenson several times after he got the job and he mentioned how he felt about me, Regardless of some of the things that happened, I had a blast and I’m looking forward to being back here.”

Collaros admits his touchdown to interception ratio was not ideal last season, but he did say they won a lot of games last year and he intends to win a lot more this year as well.

When asked about retirement, Collaros said it was something he never thought about.

“Retirement didn’t really cross my mind in the off-season.” Collaros said. “About a week after that final game, I was feeling pretty good and I haven’t had any issues sent.  I love this game, I’m a competitive person and I just want to get out there and play so no, retirement wasn’t on my mind.”

General Manager Jeremy O’Day, who announced Collaros will go into the season as the number one quarterback on the depth chart, admits the health status of Collaros is a concern and the team is speaking with some veteran quarterbacks about coming in.  While O’Day would not say who those quarterbacks are, it is thought he was speaking about Travis Lulay and Kevin Glenn.

O’Day also spoke about what the team has done in the first two days of free agency saying he feels like the squad is better than what it was when free agency started with the additions of running back William Powell, defensive lineman Micah Johnson, linebacker Dyshawn Davis and receiver Cory Watson.

He added several other offers were made, but the interest in player was not reciprocated by that player having interest in the team for whatever reason.  When it came to Willie Jefferson, O’Day said they did their best to try and keep the team’s nominee for most outstanding player and top defensive player around, but Jefferson had a desire to change addresses.

“We were having discussions with Willie before free agency. I won’t speak to the reasons as to why he didn’t come back, but we made him a fair offer.  He decided to enter free agency and we asked him to keep us in the loop with an invite to come back if he desired.” O’Day explained. “In the end, he decided to go elsewhere. ”

O’Day also said the team is speaking with Naaman Roosevelt about coming back and that the team still has its targets on some players  with offers out there.  He would not say how many players they are speaking with though.

Riders Sign WR Cory Watson

Image result for saskatchewan roughriders helmet

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national free-agent receiver Cory Watson to a one-year contract.             

Watson (6’3 – 211) joins the Riders after spending last season with the B.C. Lions where he picked up 406 yards and three touchdowns in 18 regular-season games.

The 34-year-old Watson is a veteran of eight CFL seasons after originally being selected by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2nd round (9th overall) of the 2010 CFL Draft. Watson spent five seasons in Winnipeg before joining the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015 where he spent three seasons.

In 133 regular-season games Watson has collected 328 receptions for 3,737 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s also played six career playoff games and two Grey Cup games.     

He won his first career Grey Cup in 2015 with the Edmonton Eskimos. 

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR) 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

CFL Free Agent Moves

CFL free agency is underway.   Here are some of the moves

  • Eskimos sign former Hamilton LB Larry Dean
  • Lions sign former Edmonton QB Mike Reilly 
  • Montreal extends WR BJ Cunningham
  • Calgary extends WR Eric Rogers
  • Edmonton signs former Ottawa OL Sir Vincent Rogers 
  • Saskatchewan signs former Ottawa RB William Powell 
  • Hamilton re-signs DL Adrian Tracy & WR Mike Jones 
  • BC signs former Winnipeg OL Sukh Chungh 
  • Edmonton signs former Ottawa WR & QB Greg Ellingson and Trevor Harris
  • Edmonton signs former Calgary WR Davaris Daniels 
  • Edmonton signs former Winnipeg LB Jovan Santos-Knox 
  • MTL re-signs DL John Bowman 
  • Calgary re-signs QB Bo Levi Mitchell 
  • Saskatchewan signs former Lions LB Dyshawn Davis 
  • Winnipeg re-signs WR Nic Demski 
  • Saskatchewan signs former Calgary DL Micah Johnson 
  • Winnipeg signs former Riders DL Willie Jefferson
  • Edmonton signs receiver Ricky Collins Junior 
  • Montreal signs former BC receiver Devier Posey 
  • Montreal signs former BC linebacker Bo Lokombo
  • Montreal signs former Calgary DB Patrick Levels 
  • Saskatchewan re-signs QB Zach Collaros
  • Hamilton signs former DB Tunde Adelake
  • Edmonton signs former Hamilton LB Don Unamba
  • Toronto signs former BC RB/KR Chris Rainey
  • Toronto signs former Wpg DB Kevin Fogg
  • BC signs former Edm DB Aaron Grymes 
  • BC signs former Calgary WR Lemar Durant
  • BC signs former Edm DB Josh Woodman

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hufnagel Thinks Bo Will Be Coming Back to Calgary

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Calgary Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel feels optimistic he can re-sign quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

The CFL star is among several players scheduled to become free agents Tuesday.

"He's not signed yet," Hufnagel said Monday at McMahon Stadium. "We're talking. I'm very optimistic something will get done. I just don't know when."

After leading the Stampeders to a Grey Cup and winning the award for the CFL's most outstanding player for the second time in his career, Mitchell worked out for several NFL teams in the off-season.

No deal was announced south of the border for the 28-year-old from Katy, Texas, contributing to Hufnagel's confidence in bringing Mitchell back in the fold.

"I would expect that if he was going to sign an NFL contract, it would have been done, but what I expect and what's actually going on behind closed doors, I'm not sure," the GM said.

The other hurdle to retaining Mitchell, however, is the price tag.

If Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly can command around $700,000, as he is rumoured to be able to do when he hits the free-agent market Tuesday, the bidding for Mitchell couldn't be far off that number.

"It's quite significant no question about it," Hufnagel said.

"I have a budget with Bo Levi. Now, I said I'm optimistic, but does it fit the budget? We'll have to see. I have a good number. Hopefully that number works."

It will also have to be a competitive number because of the unusual number of established quarterbacks on the market this year.

Ottawa's Trevor Harris joins Mitchell and Reilly as the free-agency headliners, but only Hamilton (Jeremiah Masoli) and Winnipeg (Matt Nichols) have starters under contract.

"I haven't lost any sleep over other people's quarterback situations," Hufnagel stated. "I'm concerned about mine."

Mitchell has thrown for almost 25,000 yards and 150 touchdown passes in his seven seasons with Calgary, including five as starter.

His backup Nick Arbuckle scored five short-yardage touchdowns and threw for 144 yards in 2018. Calgary replaced third-stringer Larry Brihm Jr. with Montell Cozart in August.

"We have two young guys that we like who are very capable and promising," Hufnagel said. "If things went south with Bo, I think we still have the skill at the position to win football games."

Hufnagel signed defensive lineman Junior Turner and Ese Mrabure to extensions on the weekend, bringing the number of potential Stampeder free agents back under contract to 17.

"We have a lot of good depth at most of the positions," Hufnagel said. "Obviously Bo is a cornerstone."

All-star defensive tackle Micah Johnson is putting himself on the market Tuesday.

"Micah's had his offer for a couple of weeks now," the GM said. "He wants to go to free agency so I'm not quite sure how that is going to go. Probably can't use the word 'optimistic' when I'm talking about Micah."


Sam Hurl Staying In Riderville

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national linebacker Sam Hurl to a one-year contract extension.                

Hurl (6’1 – 230) will remain with the Riders for a second consecutive season after signing with the team as a free agent in February, 2018.

Hurl was originally selected by the Riders in the 2nd round (12th overall) of the 2012 CFL Draft. After three years in Saskatchewan, Hurl joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2015 where he remained for three seasons.   

Last season, Hurl started all 18 games at middle linebacker where he registered 41 defensive tackles, six special-teams tackles and two tackles for loss. He also started the Western Semi-Final picking up three defensive tackles.   

Through seven CFL seasons, Hurl has collected 207 defensive tackles, 53 special-teams tackles and eight quarterback sacks in 108 career regular-season games. He has also played five career playoff games.

He was a member of the Riders 2013 Grey Cup championship.  

Hurl was eligible to become a free agent on February 12.

Simoni Lawrence Staying In Hamilton

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Monday the football club has re-signed international linebacker Simoni Lawrence to a two-year contract.

Lawrence, 30, played in 18 regular season games with the Tiger-Cats in 2018, registering 68 defensive tackles, three quarterback sacks, three tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. The 6-1, 231-pound native of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania has appeared in 113 career CFL games (97 starts) with the Edmonton Eskimos (2012) and Tiger-Cats (2013-18), posting 435 defensive tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback sacks, eight interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 16 pass knock downs and 18 special teams tackles. He has also seen action in 11 playoff games, including two Grey Cup appearances in 2013 and 2014 with Hamilton.

Lawrence’s CFL accolades include being named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player and a CFL All-Star in 2015, and three consecutive Divisional All-Star nods from 2014 to 2016. The University of Minnesota product was originally acquired by the Tiger-Cats on February 5, 2013 from the Eskimos along with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and offensive lineman Greg Wojt in exchange for linebacker Nathan Kanya and offensive lineman Carson Rockhill. Throughout his pro career, Lawrence has also spent time with five National Football League teams, including the St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings.

The Ti-Cats also announced they have signed defensive back Delvin Breaux to a contract extension.

Something To "Mitch" About

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It won't be like a Saturday at Costco, but CFL GM's are ready to fill up their shopping carts and get at it as free agency begins Tuesday.

If the reports out of Vancouver are true, Lions GM Ed Hervey went right to the high-priced items and is ready to cash in on Mike Reilly with a $700,000 per year payday.  There is no way the Riders would even come close to making that offer for Reilly as good as he is.  Would you have wanted the Riders shelling out that much for him? If you hated the $400,000 plus that Zach Collaros got, I can't see you loving that pay structure for Reilly.

Speaking of Collaros, is he done in Saskatchewan?  Craig Dickenson indicated to a Calgary radio station last week that the team would reach out to Collaros.  There is no way he can come back to Saskatchewan at last year's figure and I don't think any team is willing to pay him what he got last year after the season he had.  Dickenson and GM Jeremy O'Day will obviously throw a figure out there for the Collaros camp.  I would guess that figure would be in the $200,000-$250,000 range which would still be a huge drop from last season.  If Collaros thinks he can get more elsewhere, he won't accept it.  If he does, one never knows.

If Reilly is indeed heading to B.C, I am guessing Brock Sunderland will be contacting Trevor Harris' agent to see what the asking price is.  What would you pay for Harris? He did make around $425,000 last season I think. I would think 500k would be a fair price.  I would think the Riders could land Harris if he wants to leave Ottawa. but Edmonton might be more attractive to him because of the relationship with Sunderland.

When the Riders start doing their shopping, where do they start.  I would think once you get your quarterbacking situation figured out, you start on receivers--especially if Naaman Roosevelt ends up somewhere else.  Shaq Evans, KD Cannon and Kyran Moore are all going into their 2nd year and I don't know if we really know what those guys can do.  Do you need to find a couple of pass-catchers first though to get that QB here?  If so, I am sure Trevor Harris would take notice if Greg Ellingson moved West.  There is one Canadian receiver out there that might be available and might be a great pick-up.  Mike Jones had a nice year in Hamilton catching 49 balls for 841 yards and three touchdowns.  He could be a tremendous discount signing.

While keeping Willie Jefferson in green is a priority, there is one guy I would like to see the team add on defence and that is Winnipeg's Taylor Loffler.  The guy is a beast. I've loved Loffler since he was at UBC.  He would look great in green.  He will command some $$$ though and he may be too expensive.

Tuesday should be interesting all over the league.

--Did you watch the AAF on Saturday night?  I was unable to watch live so I PVR'ed out and checked it out Sunday morning.  It wasn't the best football, but it wasn't the worst either.   The quarterback play was not outstanding. I am not sure how San Diego's Mike Bercovici was able to continue playing after he was absolutely rocked by a San Antonio linebacker, but both he and San Antonio's Logan Woodside didn't seem sharp. It is only one week though.  By the way, are helmet-to-helmet hits allowed in the AAF or did the refs miss one.  There is no doubt that hellacious hit was a helmet-to-helmet and would have been a 15 yard penalty in both the CFL and NFL----unless of course it was the waning stages of the Western semi-final.  I digress!

What I did like was in the first quarter when the challenge flag was thrown that we were allowed to hear the conversation between the official and the replay official.  We got to hear exactly what was being discussed and what was being seen. When the replay official said a catch had not been made, we were told why and what happens now with both the ball placement and the time.  This is what the CFL needs. As a fan and a broadcaster, we need to know why the command center is calling what they do and why they are doing so.  With the questions we have about calls, this would be a perfect initiative for fan engagement which is what Randy Ambrosie has called for.

I am somewhat choked I didn't get into any AAF Fantasy Leagues this year!

-Some CFL players are talking about the AAF and how there could be a talent drain up here.  I can't disagree.  The CFL is looking at growing its game in other countries while a league is threatening to take away players as they now have another what looks to be a viable option now.  This initiative could have waited until after a new CBA was built---one that will be built which will make it more attractive for Americans to come north.  Those leagues in Mexico, Germany, etc etc aren't going anywhere.  Getting a new CBA and other issues resolved are more important to this guy than seeing agreements with other leagues that feature players who will have a tough time making CFL rosters if what I am hearing is correct.  Perhaps the league should look at adding a couple of more homegrown Canadians to their rosters so we see more USports grads playing the game then having some Euros.

--Congrats to Kirk Muyres, his brother Dallan and the Marsh brothers Dan and Kevin.  They are off to the Brier in Brandon after what was a tremendous final between Muyres and Matt Dunstone.  It had it all with Muyres needing last rock to put a draw at the top of the four to win the province for the first time as a skip.  I get the feeling this won't be the last time we see these two battling it out for a Tankard and like I said last week in Whitewood when we did the Cage from out there, I don't see it being too much longer with these two curling in Saskatchewan that the drought will end and we can stop talking about 1980 which was the last time a rink from this province won the Canadian mens curling championship.

--I would like to be optimistic over the fact the Bakersfield Condors---the AHL team of the Edmonton Oilers, has won 12 straight games.  However, when I look at the mess of their parent team I can't because I know that they will likely screw things up there as well.  Its tough being a fan of that team, but I'm not ditching them.

--The Anaheim Ducks are dead in the water.  Call up Sam Steel from San Diego and give him some valuable minutes.  He is that team's future at center.

--When was the last time before Saturday night that a Leafs-Canadiens post all-star game contest had such meaning.   There is a legitimate chance we could see a playoff series between those two teams this year.  If that happens, we will we hear of any other series or anything else in this country.  Nope!

--Don't tell me there isn't collusion in baseball when many big name free agents are still looking for a home on the eve of spring training.  Its just like last year.  In the end, everyone will find a home, but it is ridiculous that guys like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbriel and Dallas Keuchel are still looking for one.

--As I said on Twitter Sunday night, I would rather watch a repeat of this year's Super Bowl than 15 seconds of the Grammys.  If there is or there was something I had to see, that's why there is YouTube.

--That's all I got.  Have a great week and enjoy free agency!!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

DUNK: Lions Re-Sign Bryan Burnham

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3Down Nation's and Sportscage CFL insider Justin Dunk is reporting the BC Lions will be keeping Bryan Burnham having signed the receiver to a new deal. 

Some believed if the Mike Reilly to BC story is accurate that the Lions may not have the money to keep Burnham.

Dunk's story can be found here 

Vancouver Province Says Reilly To Lions

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It would appear as if Mike Reilly is ready to get paid. 

Ed Willes from the Vancouver Province is reporting Reilly will sign with the BC Lions once CFL free agency begins with the price-tag in the $700,000 a year range.

The story can be found here

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Mak Henry Staying With Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national defensive lineman Makana Henry to a one-year contract extension.             

Henry (6’1 – 275) has spent the last three seasons with the Riders after originally signing with the team in August of 2016.

 Last season, Henry registered 15 defensive tackles and a quarterback sack while playing 10 regular-season games at defensive tackle.

Through three CFL seasons, Henry has collected 46 defensive tackles, three special-teams tackles and two quarterback sacks in 31 regular-season games. He has also played two career playoff games with the Green and White.

Henry was eligible to become a free agent on February 12.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Jason Shivers Named New Riders DC

Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson announced today the team has named Jason Shivers defensive coordinator.

“I am happy to introduce Jason Shivers as our team’s defensive coordinator,” stated Craig Dickenson. “I have had the opportunity to work alongside Jason for several years now. He is a very intelligent coach and communicator. He earns the players respect and they feed off his energy and work ethic.”

Jason Shivers is in his fourth season with the Roughriders’ and his first as defensive coordinator. Shivers worked with the team’s defensive backs for three seasons after joining the club in 2016. 

“I want to thank Coach Dickenson for his support and for giving me this opportunity,” stated Shivers. “I look forward to continuing to work with this coaching staff and the talented group of players. Saskatchewan is a great place to be a coach and I can’t wait to get back to work.”

Shivers, who hails from Phoenix, Ariz., is in his sixth season as a CFL coach. He initially entered the full-time coaching ranks with the Toronto Argonauts in 2013 before spending two seasons on Chris Jones’ staff with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Shivers won a Grey Cup as a coach with Edmonton in 2015.

This and That

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

  --If I was any good at Photoshop, I would have had a picture of Bo Levi Mitchell wearing a Riders jersey.  There are reports suggesting Mitchell may see what his price is if and when he comes back to the CFL.  While I think the chances of him returning to Calgary are 99.9 percent, it is interesting to hear that.  Could the Stampeders say we need a decision now or we're moving on when it comes to their franchise player?  I seriously doubt it, but if they did, you know the Riders would make a play.  How could they not?  Imagine Bo Levi Mitchell playing for the Riders.


If you thought Craig Reynolds turned the CFL upside down when he hired Chris Jones and his staff after they won the Grey Cup in 2015, imagine the chatter if Mitchell were to wear green!  It would be fantastic theatre and the CFL Twitterverse might explode.    At the end of the day, I don't see it happening, but oh if it did.

-- By this time next week, we will be full into CFL free agency.  Will Mike Reilly have a home? Will Willie Jefferson have one? What about Trevor Harris?  I would like to think names will be flying on Tuesday once free agency begins, but I also think there won't be a lot of moves involving marquee players because of the CBA and what it could mean to them.

The list of Rider FA's is a long one.  While guys like Zack Evans, Mike Edem and Patrick Lavoie have signed new deals, there are still some others who haven't.  Does Rob Bagg get a new lease on life in Riderville with Craig Dickenson around? Is Naaman Roosevelt part of the plan moving forward? What about Eddie Steele, Tobi Antigha, Cam Marshall and Josiah St. John? Expect those four to move to new teams or stay with their old one before guys like Roosevelt, Cameron Marshall and Jefferson sign.

--When you look at the Riders lineup as it stands now, where are you looking when it comes to free agency? If quarterback is the place, I think it is safe to say that a huge bid will not be made for Mike Reilly, but what type of money would you throw at Trevor Harris or Jonathan Jennings?  Once the Reilly domino falls, the rest should come into place.  In the meantime and in between time..........

--The Alliance of American Football starts this weekend. Will you be watching? Of course you will because its football and you want to see how good it is.  You will see some ex-Riders in this league like Trent Richardson, Marquise Williams and Nick James.  Williams is a guy that I wish would have stuck around.  That young quarterback we need to develop may have been right here and he was let go.  This league will not be a threat to the NFL, however it will serve as a developmental league to the NFL.  19 games are going to be on the NFL Network so they obviously don't have a problem in helping promote the league. Time will tell what type of impact it will have on the CFL, but I would think we should get ready for a talent drain of Americans----I mean Internationals!

--With all of these European leagues starting to associate themselves with the CFL, how are they going to be classified?  Will teams really want to take someone from Germany if it means an American player has to be let go.  I don't think so.  Does the league add two roster spots for Europeans so that no Canadian or American is affected?

--The people of Whitewood should be very proud of themselves.  The SaskTel Tankard has come to their little town about 90 minutes east of Regina and if day one is any indication, they have knocked it out of the park. 

We went there on Wednesday to do the Sportscage and the place was 90 percent full for the first draw.  To see small towns take the task of hosting an event like this means others can do it as well.  The big events don't necessarily have to be in the big cities all the time and while we all know what small-town Saskatchewan hospitality is all about, its always good to get a reminder every now and then.

TSN's Russ Howard is in Whitewood coaching his son Steven's team at the Tankard.  He sat in with me on the Sportscage on Tuesday and I think I caught him off guard when I asked him if himself, Cheryl Bernard and Vic Rauter are the Don and Ron of Curling.  Howard quickly chirped "I don't look good in those collared shirts." The argument could certainly be made because those three are as popular as McLean and Cherry.

--If you need a reminder of how popular McLean and Cherry are, head to Swift Current on Saturday for "Hockey Day in Canada". They will be front and center.  There might be no one in this business as good as McLean.  The only one better might be Chris Cuthbert.  I could talk with McLean all night long about the game and hang on his every word.  Watching him do his thing at Hockey Day in Canada in Shaunavon many years ago and being a part of that event was a day I fondly remember. It is right up there with the 2007 and 2013 Grey Cups when it comes to events I have covered.

--This cold weather has me aching more and more for the start of baseball season. Just sayin! The cold weather also has me just aching.  Again, just sayin!

--Tuesday's Journey Tour at the Conexus Arts Centre reminded me of two things.

 1) How great a venue the CAC is.  It has been a while since I have been to a concert in that place.  Is there a bad seat in the building?  My seat certainly wasn't as I watched the Hunter Brothers, High Valley, Jess Moskaluke and Paul Brandt perform and 2) How many great Canadian country artists there are that are from Western Canada.  Those four just scratched the surface.  It was a great night at Conexus as I knew it would.

--Looking forward to tonight's Canada West play-in game between Mount Royal and the U of R in what will be the last appearance of the year for Steve Burrows and the men's basketball team at home.  I'm not sure if I like these play-in games to be a one-game affair and a not a best of three, but that's what you have.  Head down to the CKHS for the game and check it out.  It starts at 7.

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