Sunday, September 30, 2012

Something To "Mitch" About

OK, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are now a team that has won four of its last five games with the last two wins being against the teams they have to catch in the standings---the Lions and Stampeders. In fact, look at the standings and you will see the two game win streak makes the green and white the hottest team in the CFL. Yes, they are the only team in the CFL on a two game win streak right now. As good as the Riders were against Calgary, they were that much better against B.C and it showed.

Just some thoughts on what happened Saturday night

--More home games on Saturday night are needed. That was a great atmosphere and the fans came through just the way Corey Chamblin asked them to. However that being said, I think many Rider fans would have been “juiced” up after a day to get ready anyhow. Jim Hopson, please make that happen. I’m OK with no Friday night games because it means some people who drive to the games have to leave early or just can’t go because of work, but get a few more Saturday night games on the sked.

--It couldn’t have been easy for CJME’s Jamie Nye to ask Weston Dressler what was up seeing he had left the team because of a family matter on Friday. Dressler told the media (which he didn’t have to) that he had gone back to North Dakota to be with his family after his 95 year old grandfather died. Dressler answered all questions about it and said his grandfather had the best spot in the house Saturday night. Weston came through at a tough time and only cemented his legacy as one of the best ever Riders in my lifetime. When I talk about Jamie asking the question, it is very awkward when you know these people and feel obligated to ask the question. I remember being the one to ask Michelle Englot about her thoughts after her father passed away just as the Scott Tournament of Hearts was starting in Regina. It’s a question you don’t want to ask and you shouldn’t be surprised if you are told no comment, but it’s a question you feel obligated to ask because you are a conduit to the fan and the public.

--Where does Dressler rank when it comes to all-time great Rider receivers? He’s got to be climbing that ladder to top 5 category. I don’t know if he will ever be considered greater than Ray Elgaard and Jeff Fairholm, but in my mind, he might be a solid 3rd. Please remember, I never saw Hugh Campbell play a game in a Rider uniform.

--The Riders ‘D” absolutely punished the Lions. Travis Lulay took several big hits and so did various other players, but the best hit of the night might have been Neal Hughes on Byron Parker. That was awesome!

--Darian Durant isn’t becoming a pocket passer, but his game is changing somewhat and you have seen the results the past couple of weeks. Durant’s hip is still bothering him, but if he can find the right formula as to when to do what he’s been doing and when to run, he could take his game to the next level.

--Has Jim Furyk finished lining his putt up on 18 yet? How exactly did the Americans lose the Ryder Cup anyhow? Were the Europeans that good on Sunday or were the Americans that bad. I hardly watched. How do the events of the day change if Rory McIlroy doesn’t make his tee time and how much grief would the world’s number one player have received in the future? It would seem to me as if McIlroy was about as confused as many of us when it comes time to spring ahead or fall back with many of us in Saskatchewan trying to remember who is on the same time as us and what time it is in other places.

--Corey Chamblin obviously never sent the guarantee e-mail to Kavis Reed on Friday night as Jon Cornish ran for 180 yards and a couple of touchdowns in a Calgary beatdown of Edmonton. I guess you could say Cornish went from showing his rear one week to kicking some rear this week.

--I can’t say enough about the performance of U of R Rams quarterback Marc Mueller on Friday night. The kid (can I call him that?) calmly led the Rams down the field on a 95 yard drive capping it off with a touchdown to Connor Haas to give the Rams a 30-27 win over Manitoba. On that drive, Mueller once again injured his shoulder (severity not known) and he actually threw a pair of touchdowns to win the game as one was called back on a phantom offensive pass interference call that made me wonder if NFL replacement refs had found their way to Regina and Canada West football. Mueller shrugged off the bad call and threw the TD pass moments later. Its sad to know that unless the CFL gets its you know what together and does something about Canadian quarterbacks that Mueller is into his final months as a quarterback. He should have a chance at playing in the CFL---and a legitimate one. This isn’t a criticism of the Riders, but why employ the ageless JT O’Sullivan as your 3rd stringer when someone like Mueller could fit the bill. He comes cheaper. Look around the CFL and there are likely some 3rd stringers that could be replaced by a Canadian QB like a Mueller or Kyle Quinlan of McMaster.

--A funny moment at the Rams game that I did not see. Security was not going to allow Rams radio play-by-play guy Michael Ball into the box and questioned who he was much to the chagrin of Ballsy. After what I hear was an interesting conversation, he did get in. I would have loved to have seen that exchange.

--If you watched the Rams game on Access Friday night, you heard yours truly doing play-by-play again. Its been a couple of years since I did that. There were some nice comments on Twitter by some friends about my return to the booth, but lets just say Rod Pedersen has absolutely NOTHING to worry about nor does any other credible football p x p guy. Speaking of Rods, lets just say I made Rod Black sound like Vin Scully! OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I am my own worst critic.

--Still with the Rams, those in the Riders room that have allegiances to the U of R were loving the win over the Huskies. Check out this pic from Ram alumni Brendon Labatte of his Husky teammates Ben Heenan and Patrick Neufeld.

I spoke with Heenan on Friday and he was wearing the shirt. I poked a little fun at him and he was not happy. He’s bigger than me so I quickly changed the conversation.

--Hey TSN, I could care less about Tiger Woods and his match at the Ryder Cup. When a CFL game comes on, its time for some football. The decision to wait and miss the opening couple of minutes of action just so we could see Tiger hack his way around Medinah was stupid. Speaking of TSN, they are going to show the final game of the 2005 World Juniors. That was arguably Canada’s best ever junior team as it had the likes of Crosby, Phaneuf, Getzlaf and Richards because of the NHL lockout. In advertising the game, TSN is saying “Conquest in Minnesota.” Ummmmm, the event and the final game was played in Grand Forks----Grand Forks NORTH DAKOTA!!! Is the person in charge of this promo the same person who said Anthony Calvillo goes up against “Kevin” Durant in the 2009 Grey Cup promo. Remember that?

--I hope you had a chance to see the Grey Cup train. It was fantastic. Whoever came up with the idea should be given heaping amounts of praise. I took my nine year old daughter on Friday and she enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. She had some questions for dear old Dad which made me happy and she got her pic taken with the Commish!

--Speaking of the Commish, Gary Bettman could take a real lesson from CFL boss Marc Cohon. The guy just oozes cool!! He was right there mixing in with the crowd at the GC train Friday chatting it up with as many people as he could. Could you see Bettman or MLB head honcho Bud Selig doing that? NOPE!!!

--Will someone please tell Buck Pierce it is time to hang up the helmet! He can not and should not be taking the abuse that he constantly takes. People like Matt Dunigan and Dave Dickenson need to have a sit-down with Pierce to tell him what his future is already going to be like and that it could get worse. How much more can his body take?

--The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons has a great idea. When the NHL lockout ends, both sides should agree that a specific amount of money be set aside to compensate all the team and league employees who have lost salary and work days. It would be a great public relations move on both sides.

--When 45 year old Omar Vizquel tells you that things are wrong in the Blue Jays clubhouse, you should listen if you are upper management. Vizquel has been around the block a few times and he has seen a lot. His criticism of the team this week should speak volumes with the decision-makers. Time will tell!

--So Packers fans, how do you like the regular refs that you wanted back so badly. Fox’s Joe Buck had the line of the day after an obvious Saints fumble was not called with the Packers unable to challenge. Buck saying “The honeymoon with the regular refs was shorter than the Kardashian honeymoon”.

--So let me get this straight. The Arizona Cardinals are 4-0 and the New Orleans Saints are 0-4? How much would you be taking home if you made that bet in Vegas a month ago.

--Next Saturday on FOX, West Virginia will play Texas. Watch the game just to see Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith. This weekend against Baylor, Smith went 45 of 51 for 656 yards with no picks and eight touchdowns---count em 8. On the season, Smith has completed 80 percent of his passes with 20 TD’s and no I-N-T’s. That is sick! I’m guessing he is NFL bound next year, but if not, what team has his rights in the CFL?

--They say if you truly love something, let it go, and I am truly in love with my body.

Have a great Monday!!

Eskimos Shuffle The Deck

Its official! The Edmonton Eskimos have pushed the panic button. Head coach Kavis Reed announced today Marcus Crandell has been demoted and is no longer offensive co-ordinator.  The new OC is -----yup, you guessed it. Kavis Reed!

Reed says Kerry Joseph will start this week against Hamilton with Mark Nichols serving as the backup and Steven Jyles the 3rd stringer.

Former Eskimo Sounds Off On Team

Always a guy to pipe up in his playing days, Aaron Fiacconi did it again on Saturday night, three months into his retirement.
The former Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman took to Twitter to voice his frustration after the team’s 39-15 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night.
“I owe so much to the esks as a franchise but this awful “management” of players has killed this team, zero confidence! Revolving door! JOKE!” he said in one of his post-game Tweets.
Almost 24 hours later, Fiacconi hadn’t cooled down.
“It’s sad to see. You can definitely say that,” he said of the team he retired from before the start of the 2012 training camp. The Eskimos have lost five straight games and are last in the Canadian Football League West Division with a 5-8 record.
The 32-year-old said that Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman is on the hot seat for taking a team that went 11-7 and played in the West Final a year ago and changing its look by trading quarterback Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts in the off-season.
“I’ve never sat in the GM’s chair,” Fiacconi said. “I know that he is definitely going to be in the crosshairs for some of the decisions, and that was obviously the gamble he was willing to take when it came to trading away a cornerstone of your franchise.”
Fiacconi, who suited up with the Eskimos from 2007 to 2011, said continuity was the key to the team getting back on track.
“I think they definitely have the players and the coach in Kavis Reed to do that. I think he’s a great motivator,” Fiacconi said. “He just needs to stop second-guessing himself and take a stand and take his guys, believe in his guys, put his best on the field and run with it, win, lose or draw.
“Enough with this shuffling the deck, different quarterback every week, different offensive linemen combinations, different bunch of receivers, trading, bringing in an extra running back when you’ve got two stars in the making. Why are you doing this? What’s the motivation behind this? I don’t understand it.”
In addition to the Eskimos picking up Cory Boyd shortly before Jerome Messam returned from his National Football League stint with the Miami Dolphins — a move that crowded the backfield with Hugh Charles already having a fantastic season as the team’s starting running back — Fiacconi also had trouble wrapping his head around the acquisition of kicker Brody McKnight.
McKnight came to Edmonton on Sept. 12, in exchange for kicker Derek Schiavone and the Eskimos’ first- and fourth-round selections in the 2013 CFL draft. The move was spurred by an injury to punter Burke Dales. Grant Shaw was struggling with field goals upon McKnight’s arrival, having missed game-winners on Sept. 3 and Sept. 7 against Calgary.
“Trading your first-round pick for a kicker … what kind of confidence does that put in Grant Shaw now? You think fear is going to drive somebody and make him play better? It doesn’t work like that,” Fiacconi said.
“It doesn’t work that way. It makes you more tentative, it makes you more nervous, more scared. You don’t play free, you don’t play on the edge and that’s what Eskimo football is about, man, that’s what being a professional is about, is playing on the edge.
“When you’re doing that type of stuff, your revolving door at quarterback, what message is that sending the rest of your team? What message is that sending to your quarterback? What message is it sending to your offensive line? Your kicker, your receiving corps? What are you looking for? What are you trying to find?”
Fiacconi said something that’s been missing from the team for a number of years is coaches standing behind their players. He pointed to his offensive line coach in 2009 and 2010, Jeff Bleamer, as someone who did that.
“We had a coach that believed in us and he would go to war for us and he would stand up for us, regardless if we played a lights-out game or we didn’t play a really good game at all,” Fiacconi said. “He was that kind of guy. He believed in us and that got away from us, it definitely did.”
Admitting he still had a great emotional investment with the team, Fiacconi said that watching the Eskimos struggle in his absence this year has made retirement doubly hard as he’s moved forward in a career with engineering firm WorleyParsons.
“I can honestly say that it is hard to watch because I care a lot about that organization,” he said. “They’ve done a lot for me, I care a lot about the guys in the locker-room and I felt like a papa bear, in a sense (speaking out). I do miss them and I miss that part of it. That’s always going to be in every football player, I imagine.”

(Courtesy Edmonton Journal)

Sounds From The Rider Room

Big, big win for the Riders as they hang on to knock off the Lions 27-21. Here are some comments from the Rider locker room when it was over starting with Head Coach Corey Chamblin.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Katz Apologizes To Oilers Fans

Oilers owner Daryl Katz has written a letter that appears in both the Edmonton Sun and Edmonton Journal today after he went on a fact-finding mission to Seattle because his attempts at securing a downtown arena have hit a snag. Here's the letter.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Those Dirty Eskimos

The Canadian Football League announced today that it has fined the Edmonton Eskimo Football Club $1,000.00 for having an ineligible player participate in practice.

The player was not eligible to practice with the club because he did not have a registered contract with the league office.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This And That

--The Riders are calling on the 13th man to bring it on Saturday night. I’m wondering if those on the east side can get under the skin of Travis Lulay the way they did Jon Cornish last week. Lulay is a good guy, but for three hours Saturday night he is the enemy. Could a chant of LOOOOOOOOOOO-LAYYYYYYYYYYY be heard throughout Mosaic?

--If Ricky Ray is hurt for a considerable amount of time and the Bombers are able to keep Buck Pierce healthy, could it be possible that the woeful Bombers finish 2nd in the East. If that is the case, they could very well host the Riders in a crossover game. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

--I’m guessing Roger Goodell won’t be going to Green Bay this weekend to watch the Packers play after what happened Monday night. Come to think of it, the Saints are at Lambeau and after what Goodell did to the Saints in the off-season, one would have to think he may not get of Green Bay alive.

--In the wake of Monday’s fiasco in Seattle, it only repeats my stance that the only reality television is sports and not this crap like Survivor, Big Brother, etc. etc. What we saw Monday night and the fallout from it was absolutely riveting. Sports is reality TV. End of story!

--Have you figured out what to do without NHL hockey in your life this winter? I thought this might end by January 1 so that the Winter Classic would go ahead as scheduled. I am talking to people now who say it might take all year to get this thing solved.

--If Goodell and the refs union could get things squared away in just a couple of real days of hard negotiations, why can’t the NHL and the NHLPA?

--If you are a Yankees fan and you listen to their games on radio, how on earth can you listen to Suzyn Waldman? Next to WWE diva/manager Vickie Guerrero, Waldman might have the most annoying female voice I have ever heard.

--I was informed on “The Sportscage” this week that Richie Hall is not eligible to go into the Riders Plaza of Honor because he is still a coach with the team. Who cares? The decision to keep Hall from getting his place in the plaza for a few years is a dumb one as far as I’m concerned. Change that policy and get a media wing established as well.

--Did you see the piece that TSN ran on Manon Rheaume Wednesday? It was 20 years ago that the female goalie played in an NHL exhibition game. She looked great 20 years ago, and she may look better today!

--The people at Old Dutch and Hostess should really thank me for consuming their product as much as I do. What is football without chips?

--I’m getting the feeling we are in for an outstanding season of playoff baseball.

--The Cubs are on the verge of losing 100 games this year. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

--I love the fact that the U of R womens soccer team has become a Canada West threat after years of being a doormat. It would be a great rags to riches story if they could get win the Canwest championship.

--The stars of High Impact Wrestling are back at it tonight at the Victoria Club. Alas, I am doing p x p for the Rams-Manitoba game so I will be unable to attend. I am sure there will be complete post-match coverage in the Leader Post Saturday morning.

--Have a great Friday and have fun at the football game. It should be a wild one with it being a Saturday night affair.

Cougar Athletics This Weekend

Home Events
Rams Football – vs. Manitoba, Friday (7:00 p.m.) at Mosaic Stadium
Men's Hockey – vs. UBC, Friday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre
Men's Hockey – vs. UBC, Saturday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre

Away Events
Women's Hockey – vs. Queen's, Friday (3:00 p.m.) in Lethbridge, Alta.
Women's Soccer – at Trinity Western, Friday (5:00 p.m. PDT) in Langley, B.C.
Cross Country – at Roy Griak Invitational, Saturday (10:00 a.m. CDT) in Minneapolis, Minn.
Women's Hockey – vs. SAIT, Saturday (1:00 p.m.) in Lethbridge, Alta.
Women's Soccer – at UBC, Saturday (7:00 p.m. PST) in Vancouver, B.C.
Women's Hockey – vs. UOIT, Sunday (9:00 a.m.) in Lethbridge, Alta.

Rams Football (CIS Ranking: No. 7) – The Rams (3-1) moved up two spots in this week's CIS Top Ten after recording a 35-26 road win over Saskatchewan last Friday. Third-year defensive end Ryan Wellman was named the CIS Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the win over the Huskies. The Rams will play just their second home game of the Canada West schedule this Friday night (7:00 p.m.), as they'll host No. 8 Manitoba in what will be a battle of 3-1 teams.

Men's Hockey – The Cougars completed their non-conference schedule last weekend with a pair of games at Manitoba, and now turn their heads to the Canada West slate. The U of R hosts the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend to kick off conference play, as the two teams will square off on Friday and Saturday at The Co-operators Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. on both nights.

Women's Soccer (CIS Ranking: No. 9) – The Cougars (4-0-0) keep rolling, running their school-record winning streak to four matches after blanking UNBC by a 3-0 score last Sunday in Prince George, B.C. One of just two CIS teams yet to surrender a goal this season, the Cougars will hit the road again this weekend for matches against No. 2 Trinity Western (5-0-0) and UBC (4-1-0).

Women's Hockey – The Cougars had a 1-1-1 record at the 2nd Annual Mandi Schwartz Challenge after defeating UBC 3-2, losing 5-3 to Manitoba, and falling 3-2 in a shootout to Team Saskatchewan Under-18. The non-conference schedule continues this weekend, as the Cougars play Queen's, SAIT, and UOIT at the National Female Hockey Challenge in Lethbridge, Alta.

Women's Volleyball – The Cougars opened their non-conference schedule at the U of R Invitational over the weekend, an eight team tournament hosted at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport. Featuring only two players past their third season of eligibility, the new-look Cougars went 1-4 at the event. The team will have three weekends off before continuing non-conference action at the West Coast Classic in mid-October.

Cross Country (Men's CIS Ranking: No. 6) – The Cougars opened their 2012 schedule at the Cougar Trot in Wascana Park and boasted individual champions on both sides. The men's team finished in first place in the overall standings and saw Kelly Wiebe, Iain Fyfe, and Wyatt Baiton place one-two-three in the individual standings. On the women's side, Karissa LePage broke away from the rest of the field early and cruised to a first-place finish for the Cougars. The men's and women's teams are both in action this Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Women's Basketball – The Cougars kicked off the 2012-13 schedule with a 103-35 exhibition win over Lakeland College on Friday. They'll have this weekend off and will begin the non-conference schedule at the Bob FM Shootout in Winnipeg, where they'll square off with Manitoba, Lakehead, and the host University of Winnipeg.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

They're Back!

The NFL and NFL Referees Association agreed to a deal in time for the members of the NFLRA to officiate Thursday night's Browns-Ravens game.

In a joint statement released by the NFL and NFLRA, the two sides agreed to terms on an eight-year Collective Bargaining Agreement, the longest agreement with game officials in NFL history.

“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”

“Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”

The referees will vote on the deal Friday and Saturday to finalize it and participate in a clinic before heading to game sites on Saturday.

The new, eight-year agreement includes the following key terms:

•The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season (or until the official earns 20 years of service). The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.
•Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement, which will have two elements: an annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official that will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019, and a partial match on any additional contribution that an official makes to his 401(k) account.
•Apart from their benefit package, the game officials’ compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.
•Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field.
The NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the NFL.

"The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating," Goodell said. “This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.

“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it’s time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.”

The NFLRA has been locked out by the NFL since June and the league hired replacement officials to work the first three games of the season.

Mitchell Out, Elimimian In For Lions

Khalif Mitchell is in the doghouse with his B.C. Lions coaches and teammates as well as the CFL over his actions last weekend in Edmonton.

But Mitchell, who was fined an undisclosed amount earlier this week for making throat-slashing gestures at the Eskimos, won't get a chance to make amends Saturday in Saskatchewan against the Roughriders. The defensive lineman will sit out with a thigh injury.

When he gets back, Lions coach Mike Benevides wants him to make sure he does not hurt the team.

The coach's message?

"Play the game like you love to play and we need you to play," said Benevides after practice Wednesday. "But after that, there's no need to put any other forces in place that will create a problem for him."

Mitchell was not on the field Wednesday but defended his actions a day earlier by saying he was making the sign of a cross and gesturing towards teammates, not the opposition. Mitchell's punishment came after he was suspended for two games in B.C.'s previous meeting with the Eskimos in July, when he twisted Edmonton offensive lineman Simeon Rottier's arm, hyperextending his elbow.

Mitchell, a 27-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., native who bypassed a chance to sign with the NFL's Miami Dolphins and remained with the Lions for a third season instead, is known for his outspoken ways and colourful personality. At six-foot-five and 315 pounds, he is a gentle giant and self-trained concert pianist off the field, but ferocious and temperamental on it.

Benevides said he has no problems with the way Mitchell plays the game, but added the player has to understand what happens away from the play.

"I have no issues with Khalif Mitchell," said Benevides. "Not as a person and not as a player. He is exactly what we need between the lines. Everything else? Obviously, we've gotta minimize the distractions."

Mitchell's teammates have spoken to him about the need to show more self-discipline in games. But they want to make sure he remains a free spirit.

"Controlling somebody is not what we're trying to do," said defensive end Keron Williams. "We're just trying to steer him and build great character amongst teammates and amongst friends and amongst family and push forward to a championship."

Williams said Mitchell has had a target on his back since the first game against Edmonton. But he added Mitchell understands the importance of B.C. bid for a second straight Grey Cup and does not want to do anything to jeopardize the team's hopes.

Centre Angus Reid said it's important for players to talk to Mitchell about his actions because they could cause damage the closely-knit team's unity. But Mitchell's teammates also have to support him.

"If you don't (talk), then you have dissension and you have nothing left," said Reid. "If you don't pull together and help each other out, then you fall apart. I don't care how much talent you have in the world. You're not a team anymore."

The absence of Mitchell's talent will be difficult to make up, but the West Division-leading Lions (9-3) were in the exact same situation before against the Riders (6-6). Rookie Jabar Westerman of Brampton, Ont., 22, replaced a suspended Mitchell against Saskatchewan in August and will again get the starting assignment.

Just as he did against the Riders in the previous game, Maurice Evans, a 24-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native, in his first year with the Lions, will again back up Westerman.

"There is nobody like Khalif Mitchell," said Benevides. "He's got a skill set that nobody else in this league has. But what (Evans) has is an outstanding physical ability to make plays."

Meanwhile, Solomon Elimimian will play his first game for the Lions since returning to the team following unsuccessful tryouts with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns. Benevides indicated Elimimian will play primarily on special teams while Adam Bighill retains the starting middle linebacker spot that he won after Elimimian, a 2010 CFL rookie of the year and 2011 All-Canadian.


The NHL 13 Hercules Check

This is simply outstanding!!!!!

Riders Add a "Rose"

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today they have signed import defensive tackle Robert Rose. As per club policy, financial details of the agreement were not released.

Rose (6’5” – 285) joins the green and white after opening the 2012 season with the Hamilton Tiger Cats where he appeared in eight games registering seven tackles.

After spending four years at Ohio State, the Cleveland native originally signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks before being released and joining the Miami Dolphins practice roster for the 2010 season. The three-year pro joined the Tiger Cats late in the 2011 season, appearing in three games registering eight tackles and one quarterback sack.

Best Ceremonial First Pitch Ever!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Give This Kid A Wisers Clap!

This 12 year old kid went to a Carrie Underwood concert in Louisville, Kentucky on the weekend. He went carrying a sign asking if Carrie would be his first kiss. This is what happened.

Well done kid! Well done!

Conacher Takes Leave of Absence

Regina Pats Head Coach Pat Conacher will not be with the team as it embarks on a three game road trip this week. In his absence, Assistant Coaches Malcolm Cameron and Josh Dixon will step in to fill the coaching duties.

Pats GM Chad Lang’s statement on the current situation, "I met with Pat (Conacher) early this week at which time he informed me that he needed to return back to Calgary to help deal with a family matter. Out of respect to his wish he has returned back to Calgary to assist with that family matter and we provide him with our full support during this time. It’s a situation now where we've got two capable individuals in Malcolm Cameron and Josh Dixon to lead our group until which time Pat is able to return to our hockey club."

Out of respect for the privacy of the Conacher Family, no details on the family matter will be released.

Engraved On A Nation

Toronto, ON (September 25, 2012) – Powered by a slate of documentaries directed by some of Canada’s most acclaimed and award-winning filmmakers, TSN today announced the broadcast schedule for the network’s ambitious original documentary series, ENGRAVED ON A NATION, leading up to its broadcast of the 100TH GREY CUP on November 25. The series premieres Thanksgiving Monday (October 8) at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN and TSN Mobile TV.

Kicking off ENGRAVED ON A NATION is THE 13TH MAN – a documentary that examines the unique love affair between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their fiercely loyal fans against the backdrop of the team’s heartbreaking loss at the 97th Grey Cup. THE 13TH MAN airs immediately following the CFL ON TSN game with Saskatchewan @ Toronto beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Encore presentations of the documentaries will air Saturdays at 7 p.m. ET on CTV Two and Sundays at 5 p.m. ET on CTV (visit to confirm local broadcast times). Fans can also watch all the documentaries on demand following their television broadcasts online at and iTunes. RDS has French-language presentations of the documentaries in October and November.

TSN’s complete ENGRAVED ON A NATION broadcast schedule is as follows*:
• Monday, Oct. 8 – THE 13TH MAN at 7:30 p.m. ET
• Friday, Oct. 12 – STONE THROWER: THE CHUCK EALEY STORY at 10:30 p.m. ET
• Thursday, Oct. 18 – THE KID FROM LA PUENTE at 9 p.m. ET
• Friday, Oct. 26 – PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME at 8 p.m. ET
• Friday, Nov. 2 – THE CRASH OF FLIGHT 810 at 8 p.m. ET
• Friday, Nov. 9 – THE PHOTOGRAPH at 10 p.m. ET
• Friday, Nov. 16 – WESTERN SWAGGER at 10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday, Nov. 20 – THE GREATEST TEAM THAT NEVER WON at 8 p.m. ET
*Schedule subject to change

Commissioned by Bell Media, ENGRAVED ON A NATION celebrates the 100th Grey Cup with eight 60-minute documentaries demonstrating how one of the oldest trophies in professional sport has played an intrinsic role in shaping Canada’s history and national identity.

“ENGRAVED ON A NATION is a special project unlike anything TSN has done before. Transcending football, we’ve engaged the independent production community and worked with passionate documentary filmmakers to bring to life eight powerful stories of history, politics, culture, family, passion, and loyalty,” said Shawn Redmond, Vice-President, Programming, TSN. “As we get closer to the 100th Grey Cup, all of us at TSN and Bell Media are looking forward to putting a national spotlight on these films and reminding Canadians how the CFL and its championship trophy have left an indelible mark on our heritage.”

ENGRAVED ON A NATION is being featured prominently and promoted across Bell Media’s robust television, online, digital, radio, and social media platforms with an integrated marketing campaign that reflects all aspects of the original documentary series. Key components of the campaign include original promo spots for the ENGRAVED ON A NATION series and each documentary, along with weekly features and promotional integration on TSN broadcasts, and support on TSN-related Facebook and Twitter sites.

• THE 13TH MAN, directed by Larry Weinstein – premieres Monday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN
The unique love affair between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their fiercely loyal fans – known as the “13th man” – lives far beyond what happens on the field. On the cusp of winning the 97th Grey Cup, the Roughriders suffered a 13th man penalty that triggered a dramatic defeat. The unprecedented twist in CFL history shattered an entire province and left millions of Canadians heartbroken. In the wake of the team’s Grey Cup defeat, the faithful fans in Riderville staunchly stood by the Roughriders – proving why they have forever been the team’s symbolic “13th man” on the field.

• STONE THROWER: THE CHUCK EALEY STORY, directed by Charles Officer – premieres Friday, Oct. 12 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TSN
The revealing and emotional story of how gifted Ohio-born quarterback Chuck Ealey found refuge in Canada and the CFL in the face of racial intolerance in the United States. Ealey, who went undefeated at the quarterback position throughout high school and university, signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1972 and led his team to a Grey Cup victory in his rookie season – becoming the first African-American quarterback to win the CFL’s championship trophy. Along with giving him a place to play the game that he loved, Canada became the place Ealey chose to raise his family, and where he proudly remains rooted today. Ealey recounts his early struggles and successes while his daughter Jael tries to peel away at a reserved man to uncover missing pieces of his story.

• THE KID FROM LA PUENTE, directed by Shelley Saywell – premieres Thursday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. ET on TSN
Anthony Calvillo’s inspirational journey from the gang-ridden slums of east L.A. to la Belle Province, where he builds a family and emerges as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Canadian football history is examined in THE KID FROM LA PUENTE. Narrated by Calvillo's younger brother Mario, this classic against-all-odds story examines how he pushed through repeated obstacles – on and off the field – to lead the Montreal Alouettes to its first Grey Cup in 25 years in 2002. For the first time ever, the three-time Grey Cup champion opens up about passing life’s hardest tests as a kid in La Puente to becoming a devoted family man in Montreal – earning the title of football’s all-time leading passer in the process.

• PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME, directed by John Walker – premieres Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
As tensions heightened during the Quebec FLQ conflict in 1969, CFL commissioner Jake Gaudaur not only planned to hold the Grey Cup in Montreal for the first time since 1931, but he invited the FLQ’s arch-enemy, Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliot Trudeau, to perform the ceremonial kick-off at the beginning of the game. Gaudaur, a passionate Canadian nationalist with a vision of football as a unifying force, may not have fully understood what he was getting himself into. Russ Jackson, the Canadian-born quarterback hero of the Ottawa Rough Riders, oblivious to the dangers plaguing Montreal, knew exactly what he had to do. This was the last game of his illustrious career and he was determined to beat Saskatchewan in what was destined to be one of the greatest games in CFL history against a complicated backdrop of political unrest.

• THE CRASH OF FLIGHT 810, directed by Paul Cowan – premieres Friday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
Before the birth of the modern day Grey Cup in 1958 there was an annual East vs. West All-Star game. In 1956, Vancouver’s Empire Field hosted the annual game, which was followed by arguably the greatest tragedy in CFL history. A flight carrying five All-Star players crashed into a mountain in BC, killing everyone onboard. The tragedy sent shockwaves through the CFL and ripped the heart out of the league. For Calgary Stampeders Edwin Harrison’s family, the impact of the crash is still felt to this day. Harrison’s grandfather Calvin Jones was on his way to becoming one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play football when he tragically died in the crash. Now, more than 50 years later, Harrison embarks on an emotional journey – from Calgary, to Texas, to Ohio, and finally to the crash site – to piece together a family both connected and torn apart by football.

• THE PHOTOGRAPH, directed by Manfred Becker – premieres Friday, Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. ET on TSN
Football was an important distraction for Canadians during the dark days of the Second World War. When the Toronto Royal Canadian Air Force Hurricanes won the 1942 Grey Cup, it boosted the morale of a country deeply affected by war. After their victory, many Hurricanes were sent overseas to fight, but the brotherhood forged during the Grey Cup would live on. The Hurricanes’ Jake Gaudaur, a flight instructor who stayed behind in Canada, was devastated when many of his teammates became casualties of war. Determined to honour their memory, Gaudaur dedicated his life to the CFL and became the league’s longest serving commissioner. Growing up, his daughters Jackie and Diane Gaudaur always wondered why their father’s prized possession was a tattered photograph of his old team. Now 70 years later, Jackie and Diane embark on an emotional and revealing quest to discover why the Hurricanes and the old team photo were so important to their father and ultimately to the rest of the country.

• WESTERN SWAGGER, directed by Barry Greenwald – premieres Friday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. ET on TSN
WESTERN SWAGGER is as much a story of political drama as football. While the discovery of oil in Alberta solidified Canada as an energy superpower during the 1970s and 80s, the province’s prowess on the gridiron was being ignited by the Edmonton Eskimos’ unprecedented five consecutive Grey Cup titles. With the mighty Eskimos dominating on the field, former Eskimo and Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed battled Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the boardroom over the National Energy Program, which risked putting Alberta’s economy in a dangerous tailspin and tipping the country on a brink of constitutional chaos. WESTERN SWAGGER demonstrates Alberta’s unshakable determination on and off the football field and the beginnings of an East vs. West rivalry that can still be felt today.

• THE GREATEST TEAM THAT NEVER WON, directed by Christie Callan-Jones – premieres Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
It was a magical moment in time. The mavericks from the 1971 Toronto Argonauts captivated a city that was shedding its “Toronto the Good” image and coming alive both on and off the gridiron. After a 20-year drought, Canada’s oldest football franchise was determined to bring the Grey Cup home. Legendary CFL coach Leo Cahill spent a fortune on a young and wild roster, fielding one of the league’s most colourful teams with characters like Tricky Dick Thornton, Dave Raimey, Jim Stillwagon, Gene Mack, Leon McQuay and Joe Theismann. With the adoration of a city behind them, the team made it to the 1971 Grey Cup – only to have their championship dream fade away on a last-minute fumble. For the first time since the infamous fumble, the stars of the 1971 Argos reunite to relive the game that changed their lives forever and to remember those wild and heady days in Toronto.

Pats Trade Underwood

The Regina Pats have completed a trade with the Red Deer Rebels, acquiring a 4th round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, sending 20-year old defenceman
Brandon Underwood to the Rebels.

The move brings the number of overage players on the Pats roster down to four including Matt Hewitt (G), Lane Scheidl (F), Andrew Reider (F) and Colton Jobke (D).

Underwood suited up for 54 games with the Pats last season as well as their first two games of the 2012-13 campaign. He totaled thirteen points in 2011-12 and featured a combined plus-8 plus/minus rating during his time in Regina.

“It’s always tough when you have to move a veteran player. Especially one who has been a tremendous teammate and leader within our locker room,” says General Manager Chad Lang. “Given our 20-year old situation we wanted to provide Brandon an opportunity to continue his career in the Western Hockey League.”

Chamblin Updates Injuries -- Sort Of

The Riders started getting ready for Saturday's game against B.C. It wasn't a strenous practice by any means, but there was a reason for that. Here is what Coach Chamblin had to say after practice as he gave a status update on injured Riders like Brent Hawkins, Keith Shologan and Eddie Russ along with asking fans to make sure they are ready to go Saturday as well.

NFL Statement On Packers-Seahawks Finish

In Monday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.

Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

The result of the game is final.

Applicable rules to the play are as follows:

A player (or players) jumping in the air has not legally gained possession of the ball until he satisfies the elements of a catch listed here.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 of the NFL Rule Book defines a catch:

A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:
(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).

When a player (or players) is going to the ground in the attempt to catch a pass, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 states:

Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:

Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

Grey Cup 101 Ticket Info

The Saskatchewan Roughriders, proud host of the 101st Grey Cup Championship at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, November 24th, 2013 announced their ticket seating and pricing information today.

Starting immediately, current Roughrider season ticket holders will have the opportunity to renew their season tickets for next year and to purchase their seat for the Grey Cup game.

2013 Roughrider season tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning on February 14th, 2013. This will also provide fans the opportunity to purchase their seat for the 101st Grey Cup.

All remaining tickets for Grey Cup 101 will go on sale to the general public beginning June of 2013.

General admission tickets for Canada’s largest sporting event being held in Saskatchewan will range from $149-$349 for season ticket holders and from $179 to $399 for non-season ticket holders.

“There is no question, Grey Cup 101 being held in Saskatchewan next year will be an event that is embraced by the entire province and throughout the country,” stated Grey Cup 101 Executive Director Neil Donnelly. “We look forward to welcoming the entire nation to Saskatchewan in 2013 and want to remind fans that, until tickets go on sale in June of 2013, the only way to secure your tickets to the Grey Cup game is by being a Roughrider season ticket holder.”

For more information on Grey Cup seating charts and prices, please visit or call 1-888-474-3377.

The Seattle Oilers?

On the same day Mayor Stephen Mandel set an Oct. 17 "drop-dead date" for the Katz Group to explain what it wants in an arena agreement, Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz was in Seattle as the Washington state city approved a new $480-million arena project.

"I can confirm that Daryl Katz, Patrick LaForge, Kevin Lowe and others from the Oilers leadership group are in Seattle for meetings and to attend the Seahawks game," Katz Group vicepresident Bob Black, who was also with the group on Monday, said in a statement released to the media.

"We remain committed to working with City administration to achieve a deal commensurate with what Winnipeg and Pittsburgh have done to sustain the NHL in those small markets," said Black. "If we can achieve such a deal, the Oilers will remain in Edmonton and we can get on with the important work of developing the new arena and investing in the continued revitalization of Edmonton's downtown core."

While the Katz Group being in Seattle sends a provocative message to city council, not to mention the Oilers fan base, Mandel wasn't hopeful a deal will be reached when he talked to reporters Monday.

On the same day Mayor Stephen Mandel set an Oct. 17 "drop-dead date" for the Katz Group to explain what it wants in an arena agreement, Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz was in Seattle as the Washington state city approved a new $480-million arena project.

"I can confirm that Daryl Katz, Patrick LaForge, Kevin Lowe and others from the Oilers leadership group are in Seattle for meetings and to attend the Sea-hawks game," Katz Group vice-president Bob Black, who was also with the group on Monday, said in a statement released to the media.

"We remain committed to working with city administration to achieve a deal commensurate with what Winnipeg and Pittsburgh have done to sustain the NHL in those small markets," said Black. "If we can achieve such a deal, the Oilers will remain in Edmonton and we can get on with the important work of developing the new arena and investing in the continued revitalization of Edmonton's downtown core."

While the Katz Group being in Seattle sends a provocative message to city council, not to mention the Oilers fan base, Mandel wasn't hopeful a deal will be reached when he talked to reporters Monday.

"Hopeful wouldn't be the adjective I would use," he said. "I think we're a long way apart. Right now, I don't know how far apart we are. I think that the Katz Group, whoever it happens to be - it doesn't have to be Mr. Katz - needs to come to council."

Mandel, who last week asked representatives from the company that owns the Oilers to bring issues they can't resolve with city staff to council, said this must happen by the Oct. 17 council meeting.

He called this a "drop-dead date" for a presentation, but wouldn't give details about what might happen aside from predicting the day will be "interesting."

"Timing is vitally important," said Mandel. "We need to move ahead. I think everybody in the city of Edmonton, including the Katz Group as well as all councillors, is frustrated.

"What is it? What do you want? We have been dealing with this for four years. You should know by now ... It's not a complicated issue of what you want. We just don't know what it is."

The Katz executives, who were joined in Seattle by former Oilers great Wayne Gretzky, toured the old Key Arena before attending Monday's NFL game between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

"Nonetheless, and as the city of Edmonton is aware, the Katz Group has been listening to proposals from a number of potential NHL markets for some time," Black said in his statement. "After more than four years of trying to secure an arena deal and with less than 24 months remaining on the Oilers' lease at Rexall Place, this is only prudent and should come as no surprise.

"We are extremely grateful to Oilers fans for their patience and loyalty as we work through this process towards what we sincerely hope will be a long and successful future for the Oilers in Edmonton.

"We have no further comment on the status of our discussions with other markets at this time."

Although the city administration has been approached to work out any problems, and he has spoken to someone from the company, Mandel said he isn't sure they're any further ahead than they were a week ago. The city reached a 17-part frame-work agreement last October on how to finance, build and operate a $450-million downtown arena, but a final binding con-tract hasn't been completed.

(Courtesy Edmonton Journal)

Monday Night Madness

Agree or disagree with how last night's Monday Night Football game in Seattle ended, the bottom line is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has now seen his worst nightmare come true and that is a team has arguably lost a game because of a call from a replacement ref. Its a judgment call and in the eyes of the referee, Golden Tate made a simultaneous catch with Green Bay safety M.D Jennings and if its a simultaneous catch, than a touchdown is awarded. The call went upstairs and the review official (who isn't a replacement official) had an opportunity to overturn the call, but he did not because he could not find sufficient evidence thus it was a touchdown. Had it been called incomplete or an interception, I am positive that call could not and would not have been overturned. Tate should also have been called for a terrible push-off, but how many of those do you see in hail mary situations. It simply never gets called!

The game was a good one, but it was marred by several calls and non-calls including Seattle's final drive when tight end Evan Moore was blatantly interfered with by Charles Woodson only to see no flag be tossed when guys were being flagged on both sides all night long for a lot less than the mugging that Woodson delivered. The consistency just isn't there.

A lot of bitching occurred in 1998 when Vinny Testaverde scored a touchdown for the Jets against the Seahawks when he clearly wasn't in----a play that resulted in instant replay being brought to the NFL and a lot of bitching occurred in Super Bowl 40 when the Steelers were handed the Super Bowl by referee Bill Leavy and crew after several terrible calls went against Seattle in a game that the American public years later say is the worst officiated performance they have ever seen.

Everyone wants the regular refs back and now every call that is missed by the officials is scrutinized to the point that Roger Goodell is being sent one message after another in every game that is played by announcers, analysts, fans, etc. etc. etc.

You win some and you lose some. You celebrate if your team wins and you bitch if your team loses. That will never change in pro sports.  The winner Monday night was the Seahawks and as a Seahawks fan, I am taking it, but the loser was the NFL whose integrity once again takes a major hit.

By the way, can anyone tell me definitively that had the regular refs been in that the same result wouldn't have happened. Can you?

One other thing. Wouldn't it be nice if an NFL head coach had the personality of John Tortorella. With what we have seen over the past few weeks, we would have a rant for the ages!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cornish Apologizes

The fallout after yesterday's Rider win wasn't so much about the 30-25 victory by the green and white, but the actions of Calgary running back Jon Cornish. Several people in the east side stands said Cornish mooned them during the second half of the game as they got on his case. Last night, Cornish said he was adjusting his equipment, but he is now confessing to his crime. Cornish put this on his Twitter account around 1130 this morning.

My conduct last night was unbecoming of a professional athlete. I extend my apologies to my team, the Rider's organization and their fans.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Something To "Mitch'" About

(photo courtesy JC-Fotos)

The Riders needed a win over a quality opponent and they got one. It was a little tense at the end, but the Riders were the better football team Sunday and it showed in the 30-25 win. You have heard the audio from some of the key players in the previous post. Here are just some thoughts from yours truly on what transpired.

--Darian Durant didn't want to run the football because of his hip. Durant haters have said in the past he is not a pocket passer. He proved those doubters wrong with his performance. After the game, Durant had an interesting quote in which he said as he ages, his legs will go so he has to start becoming more of a pocket passer if he is going to extend his career. Does Darian think he's getting old? I think he has lots of miles left in those legs.

--The Riders were very fortunate to keep the ball when Jock Sanders fumbled---and yes he did fumble--only to have Calgary's challenge rejected. The Calgary Herald's Al Cameron got a hold of Tom Higgins and the CFL officiating head said they couldn't determine in the control centre if Sanders was down before losing control of the football. The Riders knew they got a break and so did the fans. More about refs later in the column----NFL refs that is.

--Jock Sanders and Kory Sheets are a nice 1-2 punch

--The Brendan Taman haters should know that BT has brought in veteran leadership like Diamond Ferri, Milt Collins and the very effective Joe Lobendahn. Please remember that!

--I would say something about Weston Dressler, but what can you say that hasn't already been said about the North Dakota wunderkid.

--Odell Willis just makes me shake my head. The guy  has talent, but he does some stupid things at key times. Make no doubt about it though, he is an impact guy when he has his game on and he did for the most part on Sunday.

--Did Jon Cornish really moon the East side fans? Cornish has seemed to have a problem with his pants all  year long. Was it just a reoccurrence. Several have told me no it wasn't. If that is the case, it shows a definite lack of class from the Calgary running back and I would have to think if there is some video evidence of it that he will be suspended.

--The fake punt to end the first quarter was just ugly.

--The Riders need to wear the retros for every home game. DAMN, that looks sharp!

Other thoughts...

--Is it just me or have the Hamilton Tiger-Cats taken a step back? Could George Cortez be a one and done in Hamilton? I doubt it seeing he signed a 4 year deal, but you have to wonder just what it is going to take for that team to get it done. The acquisitions of Burris and Fantuz have not done what was hoped.

--Congrats to those in Saskatoon who turned out at Griffiths Stadium Friday night to see the Huskies lose to the Rams. Just over 9-thousand took in the contest. That is a great job of marketing by the Huskies. I wonder if the U of R can get something like that done for their home game against conference powerhouse Calgary. I can't imagine Mosaic would ever get 10-grand for a University game, but hey why not give it a shot and see what happens. Get that marketing train in motion!

--Perhaps U of R information director Braden Konschuh asking me to do play-by-play for Rams games on TV this year could lure people into the seats. Why watch it on TV with this schmuck when you can watch it live I say!!!!!

--The New Orleans Saints are 0-3??!! Does this mean Sean Payton is the coach of the year?

--The Baltimore-New England game proved again how badly the NFL needs their regular refs back. That being said, that was one of the most entertaining games I have seen in a long time. Was that game winning field goal by Justin Tucker really good?

--Ed Reed is the best safety in the history of the NFL

--How Ravens receiver Torrey Smith could  play the way he did just hours after losing his brother in a motorcycle accident is beyond me. I don't think there is any way I could do what he did. All the power to him!

--What type of fine does Bill Belichick get for grabbing an official?

--Why don't football officials ever toss a head coach? If a hockey ref can do it and an umpire can do it in baseball, why doesn't a football official? Are they allowed to?

--I could be the Joe Mack of fantasy football after deciding to yank Matt Ryan out of my starting lineup in one of my leagues Sunday in favour of Robert Griffin III. Oops!!

--Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is not on my favourite list right now. What a horrid performance against Notre Dame. How about another red zone turnover Denard? What CFL team has him on their neg list. I hear it used to be Hamilton. Is it still?

--The Vikings beat the Niners???? Really???? How many survivor pools have just exploded after that result and the one last week where the Patriots were beaten by Arizona.

--Where would sports TV be without the efforts of Steve Sabol. The man behind NFL films died after a battle with cancer this week. NFL Films brought the game closer to you and many leagues adopted what Sabol had done in an effort to win over fans. Sabol was a pioneer.

--Another media guy in this town is blogging. Check out CTVs Lee Jones thoughts right here.

--The fall TV season begins this week meaning many new shows for Mrs. Scruffy to watch, many old shows with new episodes for Mrs. Scruffy to watch and no upstairs TV time for me!

--A Saturday night dealing with five screaming nine year olds at a birthday party/sleepover could have been a recipe for disaster. Thankfully it wasn't.  YIKES!!

--The Boston Pizza in the East end should build a pedway that connects their lounge with Chuck E Cheese so that parents have a place to "relax" while the munchkins are doing whatever.

--Why wouldn't the Regina Thunder play their game against the Saskatoon Hilltops Saturday afternoon so as not to conflict with the Pats home opener. I'm sure both crowds were affected.

--Is it coincidence that TSN personality "Cabbie" voices over a contest sponsored by "Advil". The guy is enough to give me a headache!

--The Score's Cam Stewart was interrupted on his TV show Friday afternoon when UFC girl Brittney Palmer delivered pizza to him in the studio. I hope he tipped well!

--NHL teams might not be playing, but scouts remain busy. Over 125 were at the USHL Fall Classic in Iowa this weekend. Wings coach Mike Babcock was also in attendance.

--Check out Locker Talk on Access 7 this week. The show will get an aura of professionalism ---well lets just say it will look a lot better than it normally does. Its probably the beginning of the end for Pete Paczko and myself. You will see why if you tune in.

--What the hell is Gangnam Style...nevermind, I don't want to know.

--Have a great Monday!

Sounds From The Rider Room

The Riders hung on to beat the Stampeders 30-25 Sunday afternoon to keep hopes of a home playoff game alive. Here are some comments made after the game by various Riders and head coach Corey Chamblin.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sounds From Mosaic

The Riders and Stampeders are ready to do battle on what should be a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Mosaic. Here is what Eddie Russ, Darian Durant and Head Coach Corey Chamblin were saying the day before the game.

Remember that pre-game activities begin at 1130 on 620 CKRM with Michael Ball and "The Touchdown Club" followed by Rod and Carm with Countdown to Kickoff at 1 and the play-by-play at 2.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cougar Action This Weekend

Home Events
Women's Volleyball – at U of R Invitational, Friday through Sunday at CKHS
Women's Basketball – vs. Lakeland College, Friday (3:00 p.m.) at CKHS
Women's Hockey – vs. UBC, Friday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre
Cross Country – at Cougar Trot, Saturday (12:15 p.m.) at Wascana Park
Women's Hockey – vs. Manitoba, Saturday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre
Women's Hockey – vs. Team Saskatchewan Under-18 (12:30 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre

Away Events
Rams Football – at Saskatchewan, Friday (7:00 p.m.) in Saskatoon, Sask. (LIVE ON ACCESS7)

Men's Hockey – at Manitoba, Friday (7:00 p.m. CDT) in Winnipeg, Man.
Men's Hockey – at Manitoba, Saturday (2:30 p.m. CDT) in Winnipeg, Man.
Women's Soccer – at UNBC, Sunday (12:00 p.m. PDT) in Prince George, B.C.

Pats Acquire 19 Year Old

Ahead of their Regular Season Opener in Brandon, the Regina Pats have completed a trade with the Swift Current Broncos, adding forward Adam Rossignol (’93) in return for a 12th round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.

The 6’0”, 180 lbs. forward comes to the Pats with WHL Championship experience having raised the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2011 with the Kootenay Ice. Rossignol split last season between Kootenay and Swift Current, totaling 21 points in 71 games in 2011-12.

“Adam brings experience along with speed and skill to our lineup,” says GM Chad Lang of the 2008 7th round Bantam Draft pick. “Given the two significant injuries (Hunt and D’Amico) in our lineup, we felt we needed to add a player to create some depth up front and is why we made the move to acquire his rights.”

Rossignol could see his first action in a Pats uniform tonight when the Blue and White hit the road to face off with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the team’s Regular Season Opener broadcast on 620 CKRM starting at 6:05 MST.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This And That

Just a weekly collection of some warbled thoughts going my mind

--A lot of people are worked up over the Corey Chamblin guarantee. Why? Chamblin put it out there and lets see if his defence responds. They responded when he tore a strip off of them the last time Jon Cornish and the Stampeders played. He is taking a different approach this time around. I love it! Chamblin is not a conventional coach and that is one thing that sadly he has going against him because so many people in this province are hesitant to change and to break out of that mold they have settled so comfortably in. Corey Chamblin is brash, he is unpredictable and he is a breath of fresh air. How can you not like the guy?

--North American NHL’ers that go to play in Europe are hypocrites as far as I’m concerned. Be united with your brothers whether they be superstars or sweater-fillers. You are all after the same common good aren’t you? It really sends the wrong message

--Is it true when you buy NHL 13 that you can play the commissioner’s mode in which your Xbox or PS3 simply won’t turn on when you go to start a season? Speaking of which, I know they have to sell the product, but the EA sports ads hawking the game doesn’t have much punch when there is no game to watch.

--TSN carrying That’s Hockey and Sportsnet having Hockey Central during the lockout is just dumb!

--The WHL season started tonight with Edmonton taking on Kootenay. Most everyone believes the Oil Kings and Portland will once again be the two finalists and its tough to disagree with that statement. However, you know the Saskatoon Blades will be tough because they are going to be the Memorial Cup hosts and should be the Eastern Division pennant winner. Where will the Pats finish? I honestly don’t know. Coach Pat Conacher was on the Sportscage Wednesday and I asked him if its one of those scenarios where the team could finish 2nd in the division or last because there isn’t a lot separating the teams in the division and he agreed. The team that works the hardest will get the spoils and if Conacher can get the same out of his guys this year that he did last, they will be OK. Their blueline scares me right now though because it seems a little inexperienced. I will take the Pats for 3rd in the division behind the Blades and Wheat Kings which should translate to a playoff spot in the lower half of the top 8.

--With the Civic Center now being a thing of the past, does that mean the rink that has the most character on the Prairies is the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon?. I am so glad that I had a chance to visit that arena during my days in the SJHL. It really is a building that a hockey fan needs to go to at least once just to see the names that have been associated with the Bombers and the pennants that fly overhead.

--I like Thursday night NFL football for a lot of reasons, but I don’t like it for a lot of other reasons as well.

--The Regina Humane Society wants tougher penalties for animal cruelty. I couldn’t agree more. People that abuse animals in any fashion are nothing but toilet scum in my books.

--Its becoming more and more evident that a vote for Chad Novak is a wasted vote. Its also becoming more and more evident after last night’s mayoral debate between candidates that Michael Fougere is the man to take Regina into the future. A vote for Fougere will not be a wasted vote.

--The Lethbridge Hurricanes reported a deficit of over 600-thousand last year and the Swift Current Broncos reported a deficit of just under 200-thousand. Do other teams in the WHL report their financial numbers? What‘s the bottom line for the Warriors now that they are in a new home? What was the bottom line for the Pats after getting a couple of playoff dates? Was that info revealed because if it was, I missed it.

--UFC 152 in Toronto should be great! I'm guessing many will spend their Saturday night watching the proceedings and seeing perhaps the best MMA fighter today--Jon "Bones" Jones doing his thing.

--If there is a better communications person in the world of sports out there than WHL communications guy Cory Flett, I’d like to meet him. He is fantastic at what he does.

--I had a gentleman ask me at the Northgate Mall the other day if my wife is ever going to get back into television. My wife isn’t in and never has been on television! My wife IS NOT former CTV weather girl Angel Blair. She has much better taste in men!

--I dug out the Riders 2007 GC champions t-shirt this week. How long should one have a t-shirt for before discarding it. Its still comfortable and it still fits five years later so why not? Is there a timeframe?

--Kneeldowns are a stupid play, but if it’s a one score game I have no problem with the Tampa Bay Bucs doing what they did to the Giants last Sunday. If its not a one score game though, just let the kneeldown happen and be done with it.

--Baseball is reportedly considering having pitchers wear some sort of protective headgear to stop them from getting blasted in the melon by a comebacker like Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy did earlier this month. I am all in favour of that. As I’ve said in the past, I think you will see a baseball player get killed in a game because of a line-drive before you see a football player or hockey player get killed because of a hit.

--Chocolate, sex and laughter are all key to a healthy brain. Hey, at least I’m batting .667!

Stamps Reaction To "The Guarantee"

Courtesy Ian Busby/Calgary Sun

Maybe the Calgary Stampeders should be thanking Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin.

Instead of any lingering talk about how Stamps players were involved in an altercation Sunday after a concert, the focus is now squarely on the football field. Correct that … the focus is all on Jon Cornish.

By putting down a guarantee that Cornish wouldn’t rush for 100 yards on Sunday in Regina or someone’s going to get cut, Chamblin has put the onus on his defence against the Stampeders running back.

A month ago, the Stamps went into Mosaic Stadium and Cornish rushed for 159 yards as the Stamps controlled the ball and the clock in a 17-10 win during a windy day.

Stamps head coach John Hufnagel didn’t sound too happy when asked if he would work hard at getting Cornish over 100.

“We’re trying hard to go out and win a football game,” Hufnagel said. “I don’t care if Jon Cornish gets one yard and we win. That’s the only thing on our minds.”

So what if they stack the box against you?

“If you watched our last game there, because it was such windy conditions, the only way they could put more people in the box is if they used their fans,” Hufnagel said.

Oh baby, it’s on.

Cornish was a little surprised there was so much focus on him after Thursday’s practice, calling the idea ‘novel.’

“When the coach says something like that, it’s rather unprecedented,” Cornish said. “As a player, you have to respond as you would to anybody talking, with play on the field. I would be happy with five yards if we get the win. In the face of a challenge, all great athletes rise to the occasion.”

The Stamps won’t have to make any roster moves due to the altercation on Sunday. Defensive back Tad Kornegay recovered to participate in practice on Thursday, and he declared himself ready to play on the weekend.

The Stamps should also have Kenny Pettway back in action after a week off. Slotback Nik Lewis didn’t do a whole lot in practice on Thursday, but Hufnagel said it was to get more work for receiver Anthony Parker, who will be the main backup in the slot.

Other than Pettway returning and receiver Romby Bryant coming back after one week off due to a leg injury, there might not be any other roster moves for the Stamps heading into Regina.

NFL Week 3

After a record-setting Kickoff Weekend, offenses continued to put up points in Week 2. A total of 1,556 points have been scored this year, the most through the first two weeks of any NFL season in history.













As the NFL enters Week 3, six teams – Arizona, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco – find themselves undefeated at 2-0. Of those six, three – Arizona, Philadelphia and San Diego – did not make the playoffs last year. But that’s the unpredictability of the NFL. In each of the past 16 seasons, at least five clubs made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the previous year. Will that streak continue in 2012?

“We’re 2-0,” says Eagles linebacker DE MECO RYANS. “We’re excited about it and we’re happy about it. A win is a win. Wins are hard to come by in this league. Any time you can get one, no matter how you get it, it counts as a ‘W.’ So we’re excited to be 2-0 but we know we still have things to clean up.”

And don’t count out any of the 1-1 or 0-2 teams. Since realignment, 70 of the 120 playoff teams (58.3 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including eight teams last year. Among those eight were the Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants.

There are 20 teams with 1-1 records, the most through the first two weeks of a season in NFL history.

It’s two weeks down – but there is a long way to go. Here’s a look at some of the key showdowns in Week 3:

NEW YORK GIANTS (1-1) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-1) (Thursday, NFL Network, 8:00 PM ET)

Week 3 kicks off on Thursday night when the Giants visit the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Both teams are coming off Week 2 victories.

The Giants knocked off Tampa Bay 41-34 and became the second team in NFL history – 1951 Los Angeles Rams – to have a 500-yard passer and two 150-yard receivers in the same game. ELI MANNING passed for 510 yards and HAKEEM NICKS (199 yards) and VICTOR CRUZ (179) each went over the 150-yard mark. The other trio to accomplish the feat featured three Pro Football Hall of Famers: NORM VAN BROCKLIN (554 passing yards), ELROY (CRAZYLEGS) HIRSCH (173 receiving yards) and TOM FEARS (162).

“We hung in there and kept playing,” says Giants head coach TOM COUGHLIN about the team’s Week 2 win. “It was right down to the wire. We are happy to be 1-1 at this juncture. There’s plenty to correct but it’s a lot better correcting it when you win.”

The Panthers were victorious in Week 2, defeating New Orleans 35-27. Quarterback CAM NEWTON passed for 253 yards with a 129.2 passer rating and rushed for 71 yards with a touchdown in the win. He joins MICHAEL VICK (11/15/10) as the only players in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards with a 125+ passer rating and at least 70 rushing yards with a TD in a single game.

“The vibe is changing,” says Newton about the attitude in Carolina. “Not only this team, but the whole organization. The fans are building as well. We found out so much about ourselves with this win. Our potential is through the roof.”


A pair of 2-0 teams will meet at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are also coming off thrilling last-minute victories in Week 2.

Quarterback MICHAEL VICK passed for 371 yards and rushed for the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the Eagles’ 24-23 win over Baltimore. In Week 1, Vick threw the game-winning TD to CLAY HARBOR with 1:18 left in the game as Philadelphia beat Cleveland 17-16. The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to start 2-0 and win each of its games by one point.

“Going into the fourth quarter, I felt confident,” says Vick. “You just want to get it done. It was an opportunity to be 2-0 and that’s what it all boiled down to.”

Arizona aims for the franchise’s first 3-0 start since 1974. The Cardinals defeated the Patriots 20-18, handing New England its first loss in a home opener at Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002 (previously 10-0). Arizona’s defense limited the Patriots to 18 points, snapping New England’s streak of 25 consecutive home games with at least 20 points.

Over the past 11 games dating back to last season, the Cardinals are tied for the best record in the NFL at 9-2.

“We have a lot of games left,” says Cardinals head coach KEN WHISENHUNT. “We still have a story to tell as far as who this team is going to be.”


On Sunday night, the Patriots and Ravens will meet for the first time since last year’s AFC Championship Game, which was won by New England (23-20).

Both teams will look to rebound from Week 2 losses. The Patriots lost by two points to Arizona while the Ravens were knocked off by a single point at Philadelphia.

New England quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 316 yards last week and moved past Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHNNY UNITAS (40,239) with 40,531 passing yards. Brady has a touchdown pass in 34 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.

For the Ravens, running back RAY RICE had 152 scrimmage yards (99 rushing, 53 receiving) against the Eagles. He will look to continue his success against the Patriots. In four career meetings, including the playoffs, Rice has 515 scrimmage yards (128.8 yards per game).

“We fought and competed,” says Baltimore head coach JOHN HARBAUGH about the team’s Week 2 contest. “It didn’t go our way at the end, but I’m proud of our guys. I like the way they competed and I think we’ll be just fine coming out of this game going forward.”


Week 3 concludes with a Monday-night showdown between two NFC clubs coming off Week 2 wins. The Packers defeated the division-rival Bears 23-10 and the Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-7.

Green Bay’s defense had seven sacks and four interceptions last week, including 3.5 sacks by linebacker CLAY MATTHEWS and two interceptions by cornerback TRAMON WILLIAMS. Combined with an offense led by MVP quarterback AARON RODGERS, the Packers hope to build momentum off last week’s win.

Seattle rookie quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl last year, won his first NFL game and posted a 112.7 passer rating last week. Running back MARSHAWN LYNCH rushed for 122 yards and has now recorded 100+ rushing yards in a team-record six consecutive home games.

“We’re a smart team, a tough team and a team that plays together,” says Seahawks safety KAM CHANCELLOR. “We’re very stingy and stubborn and we don’t want to give up anything.”


NFL FACTOID: Buffalo running back C.J. SPILLER, who leads the NFL in rushing with 292 yards, is only the second player in NFL history to open a season with back-to-back 100-yard games while averaging at least 8.0 yards per carry in each contest. Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN accomplished the feat in 1963.

Robison's Vision For WHL This Year

Thursday night is the start of a new Western Hockey League season as the puck drops at Rexall Place between the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Kootenay Ice (Shaw TV, 7 p.m.).
The highlights of the 47th WHL campaign include the 2012 Western Canada under-16 Challenge Cup, the 2012 Subway Super Series with the WHL hosting games in Vancouver (Nov. 14) and Victoria (Nov. 15), and the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon (May. 17 to May 26).

And, in the foreseeable future, WHL commissioner Ron Robison is bracing for the ripple effects of an NHL lockout.

“If (the 2004-05 NHL lockout and WHL season) was an indicator, we certainly saw and increase in Calgary and Vancouver, our NHL markets at the time, and we expect we would see the same pattern to continue this year if it was an extended lockout,” Robison said. “We don’t believe there will be much impact in the other centres where we enjoy reasonably good attendance overall.”

He added the WHL is in discussions with the NHL should they begin their season late and have to deal with the release of players.

“We have a general idea of how that would impact our teams at this time,” Robison said. “We’re working through a list that would be released, should an NHL season start late. If it was a normal start-up, we would be releasing our players but a late start, we’d be dealing with a more limited list of players. We haven’t come to a conclusion on what that list would look like but we’re in discussions right now.”

Safety continues to be an issue as the WHL continues to make strides on protecting players from concussions and other injuries.

The WHL’s Seven Point Plan includes new playing rules, more severe suspensions for repeat offenders, production of an educational video on the risks of concussions, a seminar for WHL head coaches and general managers, soft cap elbow and should pads, expanded research data and a review of all WHL arena facility safety standards.

There is also a few WHL playing rule changes this year, including the adoption of a staged fighting rule and new delay of game penalties for players who use their hand to cover the puck on the ice to prevent an opponent from playing it or on a faceoff.

(Courtesy Calgary Herald)

Kansas City or Winnipeg???

A sports radio talk show host in Kansas City was not pleased with the Chiefs effort in Buffalo this past Sunday. That's putting it mildly. This guy absolutely goes off on the Chiefs and when you listen to it, you could think the guy was maybe in Winnipeg with the way the Bombers have played since the Paul LaPolice firing. Take some time out of your day and have a listen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WHL Eastern Conference Preview

The Western Hockey League’s 47th season begins on Thursday, September 20th, as fans gear up for another exciting winter of WHL hockey.

The Edmonton Oil Kings were crowned 2012 WHL champions last spring after knocking off the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL championship series. Can the Oil Kings make another run for the Ed Chynoweth Cup?

In Saskatoon, SK, the Blades know they will be playing in the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup next May as the tournament’s host team. Do the Blades have what it takes to get to the tournament through the front door as WHL champions?

Eastern Conference fans will surely enjoy watching many of the young, rising stars hit the ice such as Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart, the 2012 WHL Rookie of the Year, Medicine Hat’s puck wizard Hunter Shinkaruk, Brandon’s dynamic defense duo of Ryan Pulock and Eric Roy, Edmonton’s superstar-in-waiting Curtis Lazar, and exciting youngster Brayden Point of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Which team will emerge as the Beasts of the East during the 2012-13 WHL regular season? Which players will stand out and take the Eastern Conference by storm this season?

Here’s a look at the WHL Eastern Conference (also attached):

East Division

Brandon Wheat Kings
General Manager: Kelly McCrimmon
Head Coach: Dwayne Gylywoychuk
2012 pre-season: 1-3-0-0
2011-12 Record: 39-28-1-4, 83pts (3rd in East Div., 6th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 273 GA: 257
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 26.3% (3rd); PK: 76.9% (15th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in four games to Edmonton in second round
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Mark Stone 66gp-41g-82a-123pts

Michael Ferland 68gp-47g-49a-96pts

Brenden Walker 68gp-26g-55a-81pts

Up Front: The loss of their top three scorers from last season – Mark Stone, Michael Ferland and Brenden Walker – means the Wheat Kings will need to replace a combined 114 goals and 300 points. 19-year-old Swiss winger Alessio Bertaggia is the only returning forward to have cracked the 20-goal mark last season, and will be counted on to better his 24-goal, 50-point rookie season. 20-year-old Nick Buonassisi was acquired from Lethbridge to add a veteran presence and inject some offense as well. Buonassisi put up 16 goals and 49 points last year. Czech rookie Richard Nejezchleb also figures to be a factor in the offense, having shown good offensive instincts during the pre-season, while bigger contributions will be needed from the likes of Jens Meilleur, Tyrel Seaman and Jason Swyripa to offset the loss of their three stars from last season.

On The Blue Line: Third-year rearguards Ryan Pulock and Eric Roy head up the Wheat Kings’ defence corps this season. Both Pulock and Roy have already established themselves at elite offensive defencemen in the WHL, having combined for an impressive 30 goals and 113 points from the blue line last season. Expect both to enjoy strong campaigns as they head into their NHL draft-eligible season. Also returning are Ryley Miller, Ayrton Nikkel and Rene Hunter, who were all regulars in the line-up last season. 20-year-old Tyler Yaworski was acquired from Prince Albert during the offseason to inject some size and toughness to the defence corps. Rookies Colton Waltz and Riley Van Horne will help provide depth as they embark on their first WHL campaigns.

Goaltending: Corbin Boes returns as the team’s top netminder for the 2012-13 campaign. Having shared duties with veteran Brandon Anderson last season, expect Boes to take on more work this season as the go-to guy. Boes enjoyed a strong season last year, posting a 23-10-0-2 record with a .916 save percentage in 41 games, and was even better in the post-season. 18-year-old Curtis Honey, who got into a handful of games last season, will slot into the back-up role behind Boes.

Player to Watch: Eric Roy
Roy is coming off a breakout season in 2011-12 where he put up 11 goals and 53 points in 69 games and established himself as a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. The Beauval, SK, product has size, strength and can be a physical presence on the ice. His offensive contributions are what stand out. A calm and poised player with the puck, Roy makes smart passes, reads the play very well, and has great awareness in the offensive zone. Playing alongside fellow NHL draft-eligible star Ryan Pulock, expect Eric Roy to put up big numbers again for the Wheat Kings this season.


Moose Jaw Warriors
General Manager: Alan Millar
Head Coach: Mike Stothers

2012 pre-season: 3-1-1-0
2011-12 Record: 45-19-6-2, 98pts (1st in East Div., 2nd in Eastern Conf.) GF: 258 GA: 213
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 23.0% (8th); PK: 79.9% (7th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in five games to Edmonton in Eastern Conference Championship Series
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Cam Braes 74gp-41g-41a-82pts

James Henry 69gp-16g-55a-71pts

Quinton Howden 52gp-30g-35a-65pts

Up Front: The Warriors see many changes among their group of forwards this season, and will be a much younger group. Gone are five of their top six scorers from last season, with Sam Fioretti being the lone returning 20-goal scorer. Fioretti will have to take on much more responsibility this season, both in producing offense and in providing leadership. Fellow overager Justin Kirsch will also be counted on for veteran leadership and scoring, while 18-year-old Andrew Johnson will aim to improve on a 13-goal, 37-point campaign last year. Sophomores Carter Hansen and Torrin White should be ready to contribute more in their second seasons, while rookie Brayden Point will look to make a big impact this season after enjoying an outstanding 2012 playoff run with the Warriors.

On The Blue Line: The Warriors will return five rearguards from last year’s club, including 18-year-old Morgan Rielly, who was drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer. Having missed most of last season with an injury, expect Rielly to step in and make a huge impact for the Warriors this season. Also back are defensive stalwarts Kendall McFaull and Joel Edmundson, who not only bring size and a physical presence, but valuable leadership as well. Travis Brown, drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in June, adds another strong puck-moving presence in the defense corps. 19-year-old Reid Jackson was acquired from Prince George during the offseason, adding another experienced veteran presence to the Warriors’ blue line.

Goaltending: The Warriors will be young and relatively inexperienced in net this season with 17-year-olds Justin Paulic and Daniel Wapple expected to platoon in goal. Paulic appeared in two regular-season games and a pair of playoff games for the Warriors last season, while Wapple has just one pre-season game of WHL experience. Both Paulic and Wapple were selected by the Warriors in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

Player to Watch: Brayden Point
One of two first-round picks by Warriors in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, Point has already made his mark with the Warriors. Called up for the 2012 WHL playoffs, Point got into 14 games and scored seven goals and 10 points to help the Warriors reach the Eastern Conference championship series. A shifty playmaking pivot, Point has terrific offensive skills, great vision and a strong work ethic. Though he may not be the biggest player on the ice, it hasn’t stopped Point from producing points at every level. Looking to follow in the footsteps of other undersized scoring stars like Brandon Kozun or Jordan Weal, Point will be a difference-maker for the Warriors this season.


Prince Albert Raiders

General Manager: Bruno Campese
Head Coach: Steve Young

2012 pre-season: 1-3-0-0
2011-12 Record: 21-45-3-3, 48pts (6th in East Div., 12th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 219 GA: 312
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 19.4% (18th); PK: 73.9% (21st)
2012 Playoffs: Did not qualify
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Justin Maylan 72gp-26g-63a-89pts

Anthony Bardaro 63gp-36g-38a-74pts

Mark McNeill 69gp-31g-40a-71pts

Up Front: Led by 20-year-old Anthony Bardaro, the Raiders return several of their top guns from last season. Bardaro broke out for 36 goals last season, splitting the year between Prince Albert and Spokane, and will be counted on to post similar numbers this season. 19-year-old Mark McNeill should be in line for a dominant season after putting up 63 goals and 152 points over the last two seasons combined, while 18-year-old Mike Winther is hoping to build on his own breakout year last year where he netted 32 goals. German rookie Leon Draisaitl, the second overall pick in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, should be able to fill a top scoring role after starring for Germany’s Under-18 team. 18-year-old Logan McVeigh is also capable of stepping into a much bigger role this season. Look for the likes of Shane Danyluk and Jonas Knutsen to add scoring depth for what should be a pretty solid group up front for the Raiders.

On The Blue Line: The Raiders return four regulars from last year’s club, and have added a few new faces to the fold as well. 17-year-old Josh Morrissey excelled as a rookie last season, scoring 10 goals and 38 points. A highly-regarded prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft, Morrissey has the skill and smarts to be one of the WHL’s elite offensive blue liners. Also back is veteran Antoine Corbin, who provides good two-way play and leadership. 19-year-old shutdown defender Harrison Ruopp and 18-year-old Sawyer Lange are also back from last season, while the Raiders acquired 18-year-olds Shayne Gwinner and Riley Guenther over the summer to add depth to the blue line and help the team improve what was the 21st-ranked penalty killing unit last year. The Raiders added even more depth and size when they acquired veteran Evan Morden from the Everett Silvertips.

Goaltending: The Raiders acquired a pair of new netminders prior to the season’s start. 20-year-old veteran Luke Siemens came over from Moose Jaw during the offseason, giving them a bona fide No. 1 goaltender. Siemens got into 55 games last season for the Warriors, posting 35 wins and a solid .907 save percentage, and helped the team reach the 2012 Eastern Conference championship series. 18-year-old Andy Desautels was acquired from Everett for last year’s starter, Cole Holowenko, just after pre-season play finished. Desautels, who played with Siemens in Everett, will help ease Siemens’ workload this season.

Player to Watch: Josh Morrissey
The Raiders’ first-round pick, sixth overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Morrissey burst onto the scene in Raiderland with a terrific 16-year-old campaign last year, scoring 10 goals and 38 points in 68 games. He also turned heads with his strong performance for Canada at the Under-18 level. A smooth skater with great passing skills, vision and patience, Morrissey is a dynamic two-way defenceman who can quarterback a power play, play smart defensive hockey and make that crucial first pass out of the zone. The Calgary, AB, product worked hard on his defensive game last season, and figures to be the go-to guy on the Raiders’ blue line this season.


Regina Pats

General Manager: Chad Lang
Head Coach: Pat Conacher
2012 pre-season: 2-2-0-0
2011-12 Record: 37-27-6-2, 82pts (4th in East Div., 7th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 230 GA: 214
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 20.7% (13th); PK: 77.9% (12th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in five games to Moose Jaw in first round
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Jordan Weal 71gp-41g-75a-116pts

Lane Scheidl 70gp-27g-28a-55pts

Brandon Davidson 69gp-13g-36a-49pts

Up Front: The graduation of star Jordan Weal leaves a big hole in the Pats’ offense. However, with some young talent ready to step up and take on bigger roles, the Pats should be able to ease the loss of Weal, who led the team in scoring in each of the past two years. 18-year-old Chandler Stephenson is preparing for a big season after being picked by the Washington Capitals in the 2012 NHL Draft. Stephenson should easily better the 22 goals he scored last season. 20-year-old veteran Lane Scheidl will have to build on his 27-goal season last year while also helping the younger forwards along. 17-year-old Morgan Klimchuk is a candidate to enjoy a breakout season. The Calgary, AB, product has the skill to be a scoring star in the WHL. Veteran Dyson Stevenson can provide secondary offense, a physical presence and leadership while 17-year-old rookie hopeful Patrick D’Amico will also look to contribute this year after a strong pre-season.

On The Blue Line: The Pats could return four regular rearguards from last year’s team that had shaved off 98 goals allowed from the previous season. 20-year-old Colton Jobke, the team’s best all-around defenceman, could be back but could also play in the AHL with the Houston Aeros. Should Jobke not return, 20-year-old Brandon Underwood would be the elder statesman of the group, and will be relied upon to stabilize the defence corps. 19-year-old Luke Fenske and 17-year-old Kyle Burroughs are also back. Burroughs is a candidate to step into a bigger role and contribute some offense from the blue line. The Pats were busy adding depth to their defence corps during the offseason and pre-season, acquiring Cole Wedman from Spokane, Tye Hand from Everett and Kade Pilton from Victoria. All three stand over 6’3”, giving the Pats’ blue line some much-needed size.

Goaltending: 20-year-old Matt Hewitt is back for his final WHL campaign. The New Westminster, B.C., native posted 32 wins to go with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage last season, and gives the Pats solid goaltending this season. 18-year-old Adam Beukeboom, last year’s back-up, and 17-year-old Teagan Sacher are gunning for the other spot in the tandem, and both are making a strong case for the job. Beukeboom has 19 games of experience from last season, while Sacher has been good in pre-season play.

Player to Watch: Morgan Klimchuk
Klimchuk was the Pats’ first-round pick, fifth overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, and made his full-time WHL debut as a 16-year-old last year. He did not disappoint. The Calgary, AB, product put up 18 goals and 36 points for the Pats last season, and showed why he is a highly-regarded prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. An offensive force at every level he’s played, Klimchuk has high-end puck skills, a great shot and displays plenty of creativity. Yet, it’s his strong work ethic and willingness to dig around in the corners that sets him apart. With Pats’ star Jordan Weal moving on to the professional level, expect Klimchuk to play a much larger role in the Pats’ offense this season and establish himself as the next great Pats forward.


Saskatoon Blades
General Manager / Head Coach: Lorne Molleken
2012 pre-season:
2011-12 Record: 40-29-1-2, 83pts (2nd in East Div., 5th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 268 GA: 250
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 22.1% (9th); PK: 80.1% (6th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in four games to Medicine Hat in first round
2011-12 Top Scorers:
Matej Stransky 70gp-39g-42a-81pts
Josh Nicholls 56gp-30g-38a-68pts
Lukas Sutter 70gp-28g-31a-59pts

Up Front: It’s a big year for the Blades, who host the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament. Though they lost a few veterans from last season, they still return a number of quality forwards who can put the puck in the net, including their top three scorers. Veterans Matej Stransky, Josh Nicholls and Lukas Sutter all topped at least the 28-goal, 59-point plateau last season and will be expected to match or better those numbers this season. Sutter, a second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2012, also brings a feisty, physical element to the table. The Rockets also acquired playmakers Shane McColgan from Kelowna and Brenden Walker from Brandon to add veteran experience and proven offense to the mix. Expect both to play big roles in the attack. Jessey Astles, also acquired from Kelowna, brings even more size and toughness to the equation. With players like Brent Benson, Brett Stovin and Nick Zajac, the Blades should have adequate secondary scoring.

On The Blue Line: Dalton Thrower, Darren Dietz and Duncan Siemens head up the Blades’ defence corps as they embark on their Memorial Cup quest. Thrower is coming off a huge 2011-12 campaign that saw him put up 18 goals and 54 points. As good as he is offensively, Thrower also plays a physical game and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. Siemens is a tower of strength who punishes opposing forwards and can chip in offense as well, while Dietz plays a responsible two-way game. Also back are Connor Cox and Matt Pufahl, who were regulars last season. Cox, a 20-year-old veteran, is a quality puck-mover with over 200 games of WHL seasoning, and Pufahl will look for a bigger role in his first full season with the Blades.

Goaltending: Russian netminder Andrey Makarov returns to build on what was a strong rookie campaign with the Blades last year. The 19-year-old from Kazan, who signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabres recently, also played well for Russia in the 2012 World Junior Championship, helping the team win the Silver medal. 17-year-old Alex Moodie was very impressive in a 13-game stint with the Blades last season, and could help ease Makarov’s workload throughout the season.

Player to Watch: Lukas Sutter
The son of former NHLer and Lethbridge Bronco Rich Sutter, Lukas was the Blades’ second of two second-round picks in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft. An energetic, hard-working, physical forward in the Sutter mold, Lukas makes life extremely difficult on the opposition with his willingness to hit, grind and stand up for his teammates. Yet, Sutter is coming off a 2011-12 campaign where he potted 28 goals, showing he can also bring plenty of offense to the table. Drafted in the second round, 39th overall, by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL Draft, expect Sutter to be a key cog in the Blades’ plans as they embark on their Memorial Cup run.


Swift Current Broncos
General Manager / Head Coach: Mark Lamb
2012 pre-season:
2011-12 Record: 27-37-2-6, 62pts (5st in East Div., 10th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 216 GA: 272
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 24.5% (4th); PK: 72.0% (22nd)
2012 Playoffs: Did not qualify
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Taylor Vause 72gp-37g-46a-83pts
Coda Gordon 66gp-30g-23a-53pts
Brad Hoban 69gp-21g-32a-53pts

Up Front: The Broncos will miss the offense from former captain Taylor Vause, who has moved on from the WHL. Yet, they return 18-year-old Coda Gordon, who scored 30 goals as a rookie last season. Gordon, who was drafted by the Calgary Flames in June 2012, becomes the go-to guy for goals among Broncos forwards, and will hopefully help maintain what was the fourth-best power play in the League last season. Also returning is Graham Black, who is coming off a 50-point campaign, and 20-year-old veteran Ryon Moser, who put up 40 points last season. Both will need to put up similar, if not better totals this season. Adam Lowry is back and ready to go for the Broncos after missing the last half of last season with an injury. Having Lowry back not only adds a point-per-game player, but a big, physical presence as well. The Broncos acquired 6’5” veteran Chance Lund from Seattle during the pre-season, adding a big, physical forward up front.

On The Blue Line: 19-year-olds Reece Scarlett and Richard Nedomlel headline a group of six regular rearguards eligible to return from last season. Scarlett, a New Jersey Devils prospect, and Nedomlel, a Detroit Red Wings draft pick, both bring plenty of offense, having combined for 19 goals and 95 points last season. Expect both to log heavy minutes on the blue line this season. 20-year-old Dalton Reum and 19-year-old Graeme Craig are also back, adding depth in the defensive zone. 17-year-old Dillon Heatherington will look for more responsibility this season in his second campaign in Swift Current. 16-year-old Brycen Martin, the second overall pick from the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, is slated to make his full-time debut, and could contribute in his first season in the League.

Goaltending: 19-year-old Eetu Laurikainen, the Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, looks to take on the starting job for the team. An athletic and quick netminder, Laurikainen has already drawn rave reviews for his pre-season effort. 18-year-old Steven Myland and 17-year-old Landon Bow are battling for a spot behind Laurikainen. Myland has two games of WHL experience from last season. Bow was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

Player to Watch: Coda Gordon
A relative unknown at the start of the 2011-12 season, Gordon quickly established himself as a quality finisher, putting up 30 goals and 53 points as a 17-year-old rookie last year. The result was an invite to the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and eventually hearing his name called by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. A Cochrane, AB, product, Gordon’s best assets are his hockey sense and nose for the net. He won’t wow fans with blazing speed or fancy stickwork, but he will always find those spots on the ice where he can bang in a rebound or get his stick on a point shot. His ability to find loose pucks and turn them into goals will make him a valuable cog in the Broncos’ offense this season.

Central Division

Calgary Hitmen
General Manager: Kelly Kisio
Head Coach: Mike Williamson
2012 pre-season: 4-2-0-0
2011-12 Record: 44-25-2-1, 91pts (2nd in Central Div., 3rd in Eastern Conf.) GF: 273 GA: 221
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 20.9% (12th); PK: 81.0% (4th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in five games to Brandon in first round
2011-12 Top Scorers:
Jimmy Bubnick 72gp-36g-41a-77pts
Cody Sylvester 66gp-23g-45a-68pts
Victor Rask 64gp-33g-30a-63pts

Up Front: The Hitmen lose their top scorer from last year, Jimmy Bubnick, to graduation, but still return four forwards who scored at least 23 goals last season. 19-year-old Swede Victor Rask will be the key cog in the offense. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect scored 33 goals as a rookie last season, and could dominate this year. Also back is 20-year-old veteran Cody Sylvester, who is the leading point-getter among returning players. 19-year-old Brady Brassart, who tallied 25 goals and 59 points last season, will factor heavily in the offense while more will be expected from players like Greg Chase, Chase Clayton and Calder Brooks. Expect young Jake Virtanen, the first overall pick of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, to contribute in his rookie campaign. With three quality 20-year-old forwards – Sylvester, Brooks Macek and Trevor Cheek – and overage veteran defenceman Spencer Humphries still in the mix, the Hitmen will have tough decisions to make on who fills the maximum three overage spots.

On The Blue Line: Led by 20-year-old Spencer Humphries, the Hitmen return five regulars from last season. Humphries, a two-way defender, put up eight goals and 38 points along with a solid +17 rating last season. He will log plenty of minutes this season, should he survive the overage situation. Also back are 19-year-olds Peter Kosterman, Alex Roach and Washington Capitals prospect Jaynen Rissling, who all bring plenty of size and experience to the blue line. 18-year-old Kenton Helgesen, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, newcomer Darian Henry and rookies Josh Thrower and Colby Harmsworth give the Hitmen a lot of depth on defence.

Goaltending: 18-year-old Chris Driedger will be the Hitmen’s top man in goal this season after platooning with Brandon Glover last year. Driedger, selected in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators, appeared in 44 games last season, posting 24 wins and a 2.80 goals-against average. 17-year-old rookie Mack Shields will take on back-up duties. Shields was a fourth-round pick by the Hitmen in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

Player to Watch: Victor Rask
The Hitmen’s top pick, third overall, in the 2011 CHL Import Draft, Rask came over to Calgary for the 2011-12 campaign and was one of their top offensive players, netting an impressive 33 goals and 63 points in 64 games. The Carolina Hurricanes’ second-rounder boasts elite level puck skills, shoots the puck well and has good size and skating ability. Once questioned on his compete level, Rask answered back with a strong rookie season in the WHL, showing he could handle the workload. Look for the 19-year-old Swede to be a dominant performer for the Hitmen this season.


Edmonton Oil Kings
General Manager: Bob Green
Head Coach: Derek Laxdal
2012 pre-season: 3-2-0-0
2011-12 Record: 50-15-3-4, 107pts (1st in Central Div., 1st in Eastern Conf.) GF: 310 GA: 193
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 27.6% (2nd); PK: 83.7% (2nd)
2012 Playoffs: 2012 WHL Champions
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Michael St. Croix 72gp-45g-60a-105pts
Dylan Wruck 66gp-21g-59a-80pts
T.J. Foster 69gp-30g-45a-75pts

Up Front: The Oil Kings are set to return most of their forwards from last year’s team that boasted the second-best offensive output in the WHL. Veterans Michael St. Croix, Dylan Wruck, T.J. Foster, Travis Ewanyk, Stephane Legault and Mitch Moroz are all back, looking to pick up where they left off. St. Croix, a New York Rangers prospect, is a candidate to lead the WHL in scoring this season. Wruck and Foster are also expected to put up big numbers. Sophomore Henrik Samuelsson is primed for a big year after being drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft in June, while 17-year-old Curtis Lazar should also be able to better the 20 goals and 31 points he scored last season. Latvian rookie Edgars Kulda and veteran Klarc Wilson provide good scoring depth to what will be a very dangerous offense.

On The Blue Line: Though they lose last year’s captain Mark Pysyk to the AHL, the Oil Kings still return a deep and talented group of defencemen who helped the team to the second-best defensive record last season. 19-year-olds Keegan Lowe and Martin Gernat, along with 18-year-old Griffin Reinhart, provide the Oil Kings with as good a top 3 defencemen as there is in the WHL. Gernat and Reinhart form a terrific duo for the Oil Kings’ power play as both possess great shots from the point. 19-year-old Cody Corbett, 18-year-old Ashton Sautner and 17-year-old Mason Geertsen are also back, giving the Oil Kings tremendous defensive depth. 16-year-olds Aaron Irving, the ninth overall pick from the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, and Dysin Mayo are waiting in the wings to join the talented Oil Kings’ defence corps.

Goaltending: Laurent Brossoit took over the starting job in the Oil Kings’ cage last season and led them to the WHL championship, where he was named the MVP of the championship series. The Calgary Flames prospect is back and ready to help the Oil Kings in their quest to defend their WHL title. In Brossoit, the Oil Kings have one of the WHL’s top netminders at their disposal. 17-year-old Tristan Jarry is also returning, and will back up Brossoit for a second season. Jarry posted an 8-2-1 record with a 2.93 goals-against average in 14 games last season.

Player to Watch: Curtis Lazar
The Oil Kings’ first-round pick, second overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Lazar established himself as a big-time player as a 16-year-old last year, despite playing on a team with tremendous offensive depth. The Vernon, B.C., product scored 20 goals and 31 points in 63 games, then took his game up a level in the post-season with eight goals and 19 points in 20 contests to help the team win the WHL championship. Blessed with size, speed and an outstanding shot, Lazar is a tough player to handle for opposing defencemen. Whether it’s bulling his way to the net or making finesse plays, Lazar can do damage in a lot of different ways. Expect the 17-year-old to see his numbers increase this season and cement himself as a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft.


Kootenay Ice
General Manager: Jeff Chynoweth
Head Coach: Ryan McGill
2012 pre-season: 2-3-0-0
2011-12 Record: 36-26-6-4, 82pts (4th in Central Div., 8th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 222 GA: 201
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 19.7% (16th); PK: 80.5% (5th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in four games to Edmonton in first round
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Max Reinhart 61gp-28g-50a-78pts
Sam Reinhart 67gp-28g-34a-62pts
Jesse Ismond 71gp-16g-39a-55pts

Up Front: The Ice return just two of their top five scorers from last season, including reigning WHL Rookie of the Year Sam Reinhart. Though he won’t have his older brother, Max, to help him this season, Sam has already proven to be a top-line scorer for the Ice, despite being only 17 years old. The Vancouver, B.C., product is expected to be a go-to guy for what will be a younger group of forwards. 20-year-olds Brock Montgomery, Elgin Pearce and Drew Czerwonka are battling for the overage spots. All three would be valuable to the Ice. Czerwonka, a feisty, crash-and-bang leader, has been named the team’s captain, while both Pearce and Montgomery are coming off 20-goal campaigns. Younger players like Luke Philp, Levi Cable and Jaedon Descheneau will need to step their games up, while the Ice also hope Czech rookies Jakub Prochazka and Petr Vesely can find the back of the net.

On The Blue Line: 20-year-old Joey Leach and 19-year-olds Jagger Dirk and Tanner Muth are the elder statesmen on the Ice blue line. Leach is one of four 20-year-olds battling for three overage spots, but would be an invaluable cog in the defence corps with his two-way ability and veteran experience. Dirk put up seven goals, 29 points and a +22 rating last season, and will be relied on for heavy minutes this season. 18-year-olds Mike Simpson and Jeff Hubic add size to the back end while 17-year-old sophomore Spencer Wand, who stands 6’5”, has shown potential as a solid shut-down defender. Wand and fellow sophomore Tanner Faith are two of four 17-year-olds looking for regular duty on the Ice blue line.

Goaltending: With Nathan Lieuwen moving on to the AHL, the Ice will have a new face as their starting netminder. The starting job looks to be in the hands of 18-year-old Mackenzie Skapski, who got into 19 games as Lieuwen’s back-up last season. Skapski was a third-round pick in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft. 17-year-old Wyatt Hoflin will push Skapski for playing time in his first season in the WHL. Hoflin, a Spruce Grove, AB, product, was a second-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

Player to Watch: Sam Reinhart
The youngest of three Reinhart brothers, Sam made his debut for the Ice last season and immediately established himself as one of the team’s top offensive players. The 16-year-old put up 28 goals and 62 points in 67 games for the Ice, and was named the WHL Rookie of the Year for his efforts. The captain of Canada’s Under-18 team that won Gold at the 2012 Memorial for Ivan Hlinka tournament, Reinhart has tremendous offensive skills, great vision and hockey sense, and a strong work ethic. As the go-to guy up front for the Ice this season, expect to see Reinhart among the upper echelons in the WHL scoring race this season and continue to establish himself as a contender for the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.


Lethbridge Hurricanes
General Manager / Head Coach: Rich Preston
2012 pre-season: 3-3-0-0
2011-12 Record: 29-42-0-1, 59pts (6th in Central Div.,11th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 225 GA: 292
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 21.8% (11th); PK: 76.0% (19th)
2012 Playoffs: Did not qualify
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Brody Sutter 65gp-30g-30a-60pts
Nick Buonassisi 69gp-16g-33a-49pts
Philip Tot 61gp-14g-31a-45pts

Up Front: The Hurricanes boast a young and talented group of forwards who should help mold the team into a contender over the next couple of years. 20-year-old Graham Hood, 19-year-old Brady Ramsay and 18-year-old Russ Maxwell are the most experienced returning forwards, with only Hood having more than 200 games of WHL experience. Expect those three to take on big roles in providing leadership to a forward unit dominated by 17 and 18-year-olds. Sophomores such as Jay Merkley, Sam McKechnie, Craig Leverton and Jamal Watson will have to take on more responsibility in the offense while rookies like Reid Duke and Remi Laurencelle should see plenty of opportunity to contribute as well. 17-year-old Swedish rookie Axel Blomqvist joins his older brother, Albin, on the ‘Canes’ roster after being drafted in the 2012 CHL Import Draft.

On The Blue Line: 20-year-old Daniel Johnston heads up a group of five rearguards who are back from last year’s team. Johnston will be relied on to play heavy minutes and be the glue that cements together a young defence corps. 19-year-olds Spencer Galbraith and Albin Blomqvist are also back while 17-year-old Macoy Erkamps looks to be ready for an increased role. Erkamps should be able to improve on the four goals and 20 points he put up last season. 16-year-old rookie Ryan Pilon is highly regarded by the ‘Canes and could make an impact in his first WHL season. 17-year-olds Joel Topping and Adam Henry are also hoping for regular duty on the ‘Canes’ blue line.

Goaltending: The Hurricanes acquired 20-year-old veteran Ty Rimmer from the Tri-City Americans during the offseason, giving them one of the best netminders in the WHL. Rimmer led all goaltenders with a 2.43 goals-against average and boasted an impressive .922 save percentage last season for the Ams, and was a finalist for the WHL Goaltender of the Year award. Though he may see more action with a younger defence in front of him, Rimmer should give the ‘Canes a chance to win every night he plays. Rookies Tanner Kovacs, 18, and Christopher Tai, 16, are in the running for the back-up job.

Player to Watch: Reid Duke
The second of two top-5 picks for the Hurricanes in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, Duke is expected to become a major impact player for the ‘Canes’ over the next few seasons. A talented offensive player who has put up points at every level, Duke already showed he can contribute at the WHL level with two goals and six points in 12 games for the Hurricanes as a 15-year-old call-up last season. Duke also played for Canada’s entry at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games, helping the team to a Bronze medal, and played for Team Alberta in the 2011 Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup, helping the team to a Gold medal. With the Hurricanes icing a younger group of forwards this season, expect Duke to establish himself as an important cog in the offense, even as a 16-year-old.


Medicine Hat Tigers
General Manager: Brad McEwen
Head Coach: Shaun Clouston
2012 pre-season: 2-3-0-0
2011-12 Record: 42-24-2-4, 90pts (3rd in Central Div., 4th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 255 GA: 209
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 24.3% (5th); PK: 77.3% (14th)
2012 Playoffs: Lost in four games to Moose Jaw in second round
2011-12 Top Scorers:

Emerson Etem 65gp-61g-46a-107pts
Hunter Shinkaruk 66gp-49g-42a-91pts
James Bettauer 74gp-21g-37a-58pts

Up Front: The Tigers will miss the 61 goals off the stick of Emerson Etem, who has moved on to the pro ranks. However, in Hunter Shinkaruk, the Tigers return one of the most exciting and offensively gifted forwards in the WHL. The Calgary, AB, product is coming off a 49-goal, 91-point season last year, his second WHL campaign, and is a safe bet to hit the 50-goal plateau this season. Shinkaruk will be the focus of opposition defences, meaning the Tigers will need to get scoring from other sources. 19-year-old Curtis Valk scored 24 goals and 51 points last season, and will be counted on to up those totals this season. Players like Boston Leier, Jayden Hart and Miles Koules will also be expected to play a role in generating scoring up front. 20-year-old veteran Kale Kessy should provide plenty of physical play and leadership for what will be a smaller group of Tigers forwards.

On The Blue Line: 20-year-olds Alex Theriau and Derek Ryckman and 19-year-old Dylan Busenius anchor the Tigers’ blue line that loses their top two rearguards from last season. Ryckman, who was acquired from Tri-City during the pre-season, is a solid defensive presence who posted a +27 rating with the Ams last season. Theriau is recovering from offseason surgery and won’t be ready until October. Expect 18-year-old rookie Kyle Becker to step in and take on a big role, especially on the power play, while sophomores Tyler Lewington and Spenser Jensen should see increased responsibilities. Rookies Ty Stanton and Matt Staples will both get their feet wet in their first WHL campaigns.

Goaltending: With the graduation of Tyler Bunz, the Tigers will go with a new starting netminder for the first time in three years. Czech goaltender Marek Langhamer, who was selected by the Tigers in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, hopes to fill the big shoes left with the departure of Bunz, the reigning WHL Goalie of the Year. Langhamer is a Phoenix Coyotes prospect who has good size and athleticism. 19-year-old Kenny Cameron, last year’s back-up, and 18-year-old Dawson MacAuley are battling for the other netminding job.

Player to Watch: Hunter Shinkaruk
At 5’10”, 175-lbs, Hunter Shinkaruk may not be the most intimidating physical specimen. Yet, when the puck is on his stick, the Calgary, AB, product can strike fear in the most seasoned of WHL defencemen. After an impressive rookie campaign in 2010-11, Shinkaruk exploded for 49 goals and 91 points last year, playing alongside star sniper Emerson Etem. Now that Etem is gone, Shinkaruk becomes the focal point of the Tigers’ attack. Supremely skilled with the puck, and with speed to burn, Shinkaruk may be one of the most exciting players to watch in the WHL this season, and is considered a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. Expect him to be right near the top of the WHL scoring ladder as the 2012-13 season progresses.


Red Deer Rebels
General Manager: Brent Sutter
Head Coach: Jesse Wallin
2012 pre-season: 0-5-1-0
2011-12 Record: 32-34-1-5, 70pts (5th in Central Div., 9th in Eastern Conf.) GF: 204 GA: 231
2011-12 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 16.9% (19th); PK: 79.9% (8th)
2012 Playoffs: did not qualify
2011-12 Top Scorers:

John Persson 70gp-23g-35a-58pts
Matt Dumba 69gp-20g-37a-57pts
Alex Petrovic 68gp-12g-36a-48pts

Up Front: The Rebels will look to their veterans in hopes of improving on what was the lowest-scoring offense in the Eastern Conference last season, with 20-year-old forwards Turner Elson, Charles Inglis and Adam Kambeitz expected to carry a heavy load up front. Elson and 19-year-old Tyson Ness are the only returning forwards to have hit the 20-goal mark last season, while Elson and Inglis are the only two returning forwards to top the 40-point mark. 19-year-old Colten Mayor should be able to improve on his 14 goals from last season while other returnees like Chad Robinson and Cory Millette should add some secondary scoring. Look for 16-year-old rookie Conner Bleackley to help out the offense this season after getting into 16 games as a 15-year-old last season.

On The Blue Line: There will be no underestimating the importance of 18-year-old Mathew Dumba for the Rebels this season. Not only will the Minnesota Wild first rounder be counted on to anchor the blue line, Dumba will also be tasked to contribute significant offense as well. Coming off a 20-goal, 57-point season last year, Dumba is one of the WHL’s most exciting blue liners, capable of scoring big goals and delivering big hits. Also back from last season are 19-year-old Cody Thiel, 18-year-olds Stephen Hak and Devan Fafard, and 17-year-old Kayle Doetzel. Doetzel played a strong shutdown role for Canada’s Under-18 team this past summer, and should see more responsibility in the Rebels’ end this season. The Rebels are hoping 6’2” Czech rookie Jan Bittner, 19, can provide some solid two-way play this season.

Goaltending: 19-year-old Czech netminder Patrik Bartosak is back to assume the starting job for the Rebels. Bartosak was very impressive in the Rebels’ cage through the early part of last season until an injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. With Bartosak healthy, the Rebels should get steady and stingy netminding. 18-year-old Bolton Pouliot returns to fill the back-up role. Pouliot was strong in 17 appearances last year, posting a .909 save percentage and a 2.60 goals-against average. With Bartosak and Pouliot in the fold, goaltending should be a strong point for the Rebels.

Player to Watch: Mathew Dumba
If the Rebels are to make the post-season this year, there is no question that Matt Dumba will need to play a huge role for the team. The 18-year-old from Calgary, AB, is well known as one of the WHL’s top defencemen and a player who makes an impact in all areas of the ice. The seventh overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Dumba is feared for his offensive exploits and his physical presence. Coming off a 20-goal campaign last year, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Dumba led the Rebels in scoring this season. Yet, as the anchor of the Rebels’ blue line, Dumba will have to be equally strong in his own end. Fans can also expect to see the 6’0”, 182-lb defender suiting up for Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship after being the youngest invite to last year’s selection camp.