Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tim Hortons Brier Preview

The Tim Hortons Brier returns to Saddledome ice for the fourth time, and if history is any indication, keep your eye on the local rinks. The previous three Briers in Calgary were won by Team Alberta: Skips Kevin Martin in 1997 and 2009, and Randy Ferbey in 2002.

The odds of a local rink winning it are doubled this year, with two Calgary-based rinks. Team Canada–skipped by John Morris–is coming in as the defending champion, while Kevin Koe–the former skip of Team Canada–left in the off-season to start a new rink (third Marc Kennedy, vice-skip Bren Laing, lead Ben Hebert).

This year's field is full of talent with a number of rinks having a chance at hoisting the trophy on March 8.

Northern Ontario, skipped by Brad Jacobs, enters as the clear favourite coming off an Olympic gold medal performance in Sochi. They also won the tankard back in 2013.

Brad Gushue returns to the Brier for the twelfth time. His Newfoundland and Labrador rink have won twice this season on the World Curling Tour and sit second in money earnings.

Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard is back for his ninth appearance; he won back in 2006 when the event was played in Regina.  Manitoba skip Reid Carruthers may be a rookie skip at the Brier, but he’s been on the big stage four times before, including winning it all as a second for Jeff Stoughton in 2011. Carruthers also had to beat one of the hottest teams in Canada this year, Mike McEwen in Manitoba play-downs, just to earn the right to play.

Not to be forgotten is British Columbia’s Jim Cotter, who was the runner-up in Kamloops last year. While Steve Laycock and team Saskatchewan sit fifth on the Canadian Team Ranking system, and are making their fifth appearance.

2015 also marks a changing of the guard in men’s curling. Absent are some of the most recognizable names in the sport: Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton and Kevin Martin, with some new faces coming to the forefront. While Stoughton has been replaced by Carruthers as Manitoba's rep this year, the Ontario rink, after being skipped by Howard for many years, is now led by Mark Kean.

Complete Brier coverage can be found by clicking right here

Friday, February 27, 2015

This And That

The usual assortment of thoughts running through my muddled mind in no particular order

 --Is it safe to say the Saskatchewan Roughriders may have started a succession plan on Tuesday afternoon when they announced assistant GM Jeremy O'Day had signed a three year contract extension and was now director of football operations.  There is no doubt O'Day is one of the bright young minds in the CFL and he has general manager written all over him. Do the Riders take him through to the end of the 2017 season and then make him GM while moving Brendan Taman to a spot higher up in the organization. O'Day has been and will continue to learn from Taman over the next three years and that should make him more than ready to take over.  This was a great move by the team to keep O'Day in the plans for not only the next three years but many more after that I would wager.

 --How many Rider fans breathed a sigh of relief when it was learned Nik Lewis had signed with Montreal. Many hated the Dwight Anderson signing because of his past but they grew past it. I don't think the same would have been said had Lewis been wearing green.

  --I've heard a lot of good things about defensive back Kris Robertson. The Canadian, who played CIS ball, at Concordia is said to be a real ballhawk and a great player. The Riders may have gotten a steal here if he can make that move to the next level.

 --Those suggesting the hit that knocked Patrick Kane out for what likely is the remainder of the hockey season was a dirty one make me shake my head. That hit wasn't dirty! Its a hockey play! Alex Petrovic gave him a stick in the hips like many d-men do and sadly for Kane, he lost his balance and went unprotected into the boards breaking his collarbone. The attention on this play is purely because it happened to one of the NHL's top players. Had Bryan Bickell, Brandon Saad or Kris Versteeg been the victim of this hit, we would not be talking about this.

 -With Kane being hurt, do they give the Leafs a call about Phil Kessel? How about perhaps going after a Jarome Iginla who won't win a Cup in Colorado this year.

 --Was Kane the front-runner for MVP this year, He would have been the first American MVP if he had been voted. How will Canadians react when an American is named MVP of what supposedly is "our game". Will it be treated the same way it was when Steve Nash was named MVP of the NBA and there was considerable moaning.

--Thursday was the night in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs that the David Clarkson era at the same time as the Zach Sill era started!

--I have no problems with the rule baseball is putting in place to speed up the game. Pitchers pitch and batters bat. This other crap that both do have to be stopped. Get the ball, get the signal, let the hitter dig in and throw the ball. No screwing around! Get it done!

 --The Regina Pats will have an "x"  beside their name on the WHL standings meaning they have clinched a playoff spot.  I hope this is the year the team can get to the second round of the playoffs. Swift Current will be tough, but I think the Pats have the horses to get it done. If not, it will be another long summer around here and I don't think QCSE wants that as they try to re-establish this teams identity.

--Speaking of the Pats, last week on the Sportscage, I asked people who was the next player who should have his jersey retired in the wake of the Warriors retiring Ryan Smyth's jersey. A few people said Rick Rypien's #11 and I couldn't agree more. The Winnipeg Jets are doing their best to honor Rypien by starting Project 11. It is a positive mental health program that helps Grade 5-8 kids in Manitoba. It is a Manitoba project, but the website is I don't know if there are any plans to expand this into Saskatchewan and I know there are agencies promoting mental health awareness, but lets hope. Here is a video the Jets played inside MTS Centre before their game against St. Louis Thursday night that centers around Rick and what he was all about. Its long, but if you're a fan of Rick, watch it!

For those who wondered why the Saskatoon Blades would play the Pats on a Monday afternoon and laughed about it or thought it was dumb,  Here is what CJWW's Dave Thomas had to say about the affair.

PS: This must be a part of the Pats season schedule in 2015-16 and beyond. Why wouldn't you do something like this?

There's an interesting poll on asking about the Riders logo and what your favourite one is. Over half say they like the current one which is fine, but 18 percent say its time to get a new, modern logo. I say no to that idea!

Good luck to Steve Laycock at the Tim Hortons Brier. I don't see the drought ending with rinks like Morris, Jacobs and Kevin Koe in the field, but one never knows. TSN will have multiple games on each draw through their multitude of channels(where was that for the Scotties) with Bryan Mudryk being joined by David Nedohin.

Rob Ford is selling off his Rider jersey, but its for a good cause as money will go to fight the cancer he is battling. You can make a bid on that sweater right here.

I don't know how many radio types across this fine country of ours reads this blog on a day to day basis, but if you are looking for someone who will add to your newsroom, I highly endorse and recommend the name of Thomas Strangward. "Tom the Intern" as he became quickly known at 620 CKRM was a tremendous addition to our newsroom in the month of February from SAIT. If you are looking for someone, he would certainly fit the bill. Good luck Tom!

--Good luck also to the Cougar ladies basketball team. Dave Taylor's crew upset Fraser Valley last week and they have a very tough task this weekend battling UBC in Vancouver. GO COUGS!

And while this damn dress is stirring up debate all over the place for what colours it is, I think I can honestly say around here, there is no doubt as to what the colours of this fine garment are

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Northern 8---Good or Bad for CIS Football?

I'm sure you have read about this, but if not, Vancouver broadcaster Jim Mullin and Saskatoon businessman David Dube are trying to create a higher profile for Canadian university football.  They want to see the top teams in this country playing against one another and they want to see the product that is Canadian university football get more exposure across the country by having the games shown nationally on some network which isn't being done right now.

I love the concept and I think this is something that could fly, but it would seem there is a lot of resistance on the parts of some in the CIS to make it happen.

Watch this video and feel free to comment as on the surface, it would likely be a good thing for both of Saskatchewan's university programs.

David Dube will be with me in the Sportscage Friday afternoon at 505 to discuss this.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nik Lewis Heads To Montreal

The Montreal Alouettes announced on Wednesday that the team has signed international slotback Nik Lewis to a one-year deal with the club.

Lewis (5'10", 240 lbs.) has had an exceptional CFL career thus far he has won the Grey Cup twice (2008, 2014) and sits 11th on the all-time CFL receiving list with 11,250 yards. Throuhgout his career, the 32-year old caught 805 passes, including 65 for touchdowns. He played eleven seasons in the CFL, all with the Calgary Stampeders, where he was named to the CFL All-Star team three times (2010, 2011 and 2012) after being named the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie in 2004.

"Nik is another piece of the puzzle to an outstanding receiving corps for 2015," declared Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp. "His body of work speaks for itself and his style of play is very difficult to defend. We feel he adds a twist that every team in the CFL wish they could have."

The former South Arkansas University Mulerider caught at least one pass in 166 consecutive games leading up to week 5 last season, when the sequence ended. He had nine seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards, which places him tied for third in the CFL all-time list. In three Grey Cup games, the Mineral Wells, TX native caught 17 passes for 235 yards. In 11 career playoff games he amassed 413 yards on 38 catches. 

In Montreal, Lewis will join forces with Tom Higgins once again, as the latter was Lewis' head coach in Calgary from 2005 to 2007.

Riders Ink Three Canadians

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today national defensive back Michael Carter, national linebacker Kyle Jones, and national defensive back Kristopher Robertson have signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contracts were not released.   

Carter (5’10 – 175) has signed with the Riders after spending the last three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. The Windsor, ON native spent his first CFL season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after originally being selected by the by B.C. Lions in the 3rd round (19th overall) of the 2011 Canadian Draft.

Through his first four seasons, the 28-year-old has collected 15 defensive tackles and 10 special teams tackles in 39 career games.

Jones (6’2 – 209) will join the Green and White for what will be his sixth CFL season. The Mississauga, ON native spent last season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, appearing in 14 regular season games.

Through his first five seasons, the 28-year-old Bishop’s product has collected 36 special teams tackles, seven defensive tackles and one quarterback sack in 66 regular season games.       

Robertson (5’9 – 185) joins the team’s roster after the Riders acquired his rights in December’s 2014 negotiation list draft. The Pickering, ON native was originally selected by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2nd round (11th overall) of the 2013 Canadian Draft.  

The 24-year-old missed the 2013 season after suffering an injury. He returned to Concordia University for his final collegiate season, where he was named a 2014 All-Canadian after finishing second in the CIS with five interceptions. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Devon White To Speak at Red Sox Dinner

The Regina Red Sox are proud to announce that former Blue Jay Devon White will headline the 2015 Regina Red Sox Dinner and Auction presented by Water Warehouse.  

Originally drafted by the California Angels, White joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 and helped them win a pair of World Series Championships. 

During his 17-year career, White, a seven-time gold glove winner, played in 1,941 games, stole 346 bases and hit 208 home runs.    

“Our 2015 speaker, sponsored by 9 agents from Century 21, is Devon White.” said Gary Brotzel. “Devo will be forever remembered by Blue Jay fans for his incredible leaping catch in Game 3 of the 1992 World Series.”

In addition to his time with the Angels and Jays, the three-time all-star also played with the Marlins, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Brewers.  

“Our Annual Dinner is one of the team’s most important fundraisers,” said Brotzel. “The money raised helps the ball club continue its on-field success.”  

The Regina Red Sox Dinner will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the Turvey Centre. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Canadians Love their Curling

2015 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS on TSN is the Most-Watched Ever

– 2015 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS averaged a record 566,000 viewers on TSN –

– Average audience of 1.05 million watched Sunday night’s thrilling final –

February 23, 2015

TORONTO (February 23, 2015) – The 2015 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS was a record-breaker for TSN, with the network attracting an average audience of 566,000 viewers throughout the tournament, making the 2015 SCOTTIES the most-watched ever according to overnight data from Numeris.*

Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones’ thrilling 6-5 gold medal victory over Alberta’s Val Sweeting in the Scotties Final attracted an average audience of 1.05 million viewers to TSN on Sunday night, up against THE OSCARS® on CTV. Audiences for the gold medal game were up 15% compared to last year’s final.

Overall, 7 million unique Canadian viewers watched some part of the 2015 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS on TSN.

TSN’s live coverage of Season of Champions curling continues with the TIM HORTONS BRIER, beginning on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET on TSN.


NHL Three Stars Of Week

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin and Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 22.


Quick went 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .959 save percentage to backstop the Kings (28-18-12, 68 points) to three consecutive victories, including a 2-1 triumph over the rival San Jose Sharks in the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. He opened the week with 21 saves in a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Feb. 16. Quick then recorded 42 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Feb. 18. He capped his performance with 31 saves during the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Feb. 21, becoming the first goaltender in Kings history to reach the 200-win milestone. Quick also extended his – and the team’s – winning streak to seven games (1.86 GAA, .934 SV%). It marks the third time in his career that Quick has posted at least seven consecutive victories, also: Jan. 21 – Feb. 6, 2010 (9-0-0) and Oct. 23 – Nov. 13, 2010 (7-0-0). The 29-year-old Milford, Conn., native has appeared in 50 games this season, compiling a 24-15-10 record with a 2.43 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and three shutouts.


Sedin registered four consecutive multi-point games and shared the League lead with eight points as the Canucks (34-22-3, 71 points) won three of four starts. He posted 1-1—2 in a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild Feb. 16. Sedin then scored twice, including the tying marker with 2:00 remaining in regulation, in a 5-4 shootout triumph against the New York Rangers Feb. 19. He closed the week with a pair of two-assist performances: in a 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils Feb. 20 and in a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders Feb. 22. Sedin became the first Canucks player to notch four straight multi-point performances since Mikael Samuelsson Feb. 1-7, 2011 (4-5—9). Sedin also has accomplished that feat two previous times: Dec. 2-12, 2009 (0-13—13 in 6 GP) and Dec. 31, 2009 – Jan. 7, 2010 (2-8—10 in 4 GP). The 34-year-old Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native shares third in the NHL with 42 assists this season and paces the Canucks with 54 points in 59 games, four more than his total in 2013-14 (70 GP).


Pacioretty shared first in the NHL with four goals and a +6 rating to lead the Canadiens (38-16-5, 81 points) to five out of eight possible standings points. He tallied 1-1—2 in a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 16. Pacioretty then registered one point in each of his next two games, finding the back of the net in a 4?2 loss to the Ottawa Senators Feb. 18 and picking up one assist (and scoring in the shootout) in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Feb. 19. He capped the week with a pair of goals, including the game-winning marker, in a 3-1 triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 21. The 26-year-old New Canaan, Conn., native leads the Canadiens and shares sixth in the NHL with 29 goals in 59 games this season. He also paces the League with a +33 rating, while his seven decisive markers are one off first place.

Brian Peters Is NFL Bound

On Monday the Minnesota Vikings announced that the club has signed free agent LB Brian Peters.
Peters played the last two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. In 2014, Peters led the Roughriders with 78 tackles and added 3.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 interceptions, including one for a touchdown. Peters played the 2012 season with the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League after a four-year career at Northwestern. During his collegiate career, Peters started 34-of-52 games and ranks third in school history with 12 career interceptions.

(Minnesota Vikings)

Something to "Mitch" About

The defending Olympic gold medallists  are once again the queens of Canadian womens curling,

The Jennifer Jones rink from Winnipeg consisting of Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen are leaving Moose Jaw with a smile on their face and why wouldn't they after this....

Ok, that trophy might be a better reason as to why they are smiling.
 The Jones rink was favoured coming into the Scotties and they didn't disappoint as they came through in Sunday's final beating Val Sweeting 6-5.
Stefanie Lawton's Scotties came to an end in tough fashion early Sunday night when a potential game-tying draw came up well short giving Sweeting the win. One bad shot does not ruin what was a great week of curling for Stefanie and crew. They represented the home province well.
I hope there are many in Moose Jaw smiling because they should be. The city should be quite proud of itself for pulling off a first class event. I don't think there was any doubt they would, but if Moose Jaw wasn't on the sporting map before it is now as the Scotties ran extremely smoothly with everyone doing nothing but complimenting Mosaic Place for being one of the best facilities in Canada.  As promised on Friday, a special thank you goes out to co-chairs Danielle Sicinski and Glenn Hagel for being so good to me and the Sportscage not only before the event but during as they were always there if I needed someone. A special thank you also goes out to Robin Wilson of the Canadian Curling Association for coming through with any request made including the one to get Team Manitoba on the air which was a last second call. Garry McKay was one of the many volunteers who also made the week a success for yours truly while Mosaic Place GM Scott Clark was able to come through in a variety of ways to make sure it was smooth sailing. Its not easy doing a show centred around curling for four days and I know a  lot of you missed your football talk this week, but sometimes you have to concede that another sport should get its share when the spotlight is shining is on it and I think that is what was accomplished. Thank you to the many who popped by the booth to introduce yourselves and say you listen all the time. Much appreciated! 
OK Moose Jaw, what's next? I truly think if the right people get their heads together and create a solid business plan that there is no reason why the Memorial Cup can't come to Mosaic Place. The event may be a little pricier than it is in other locales, but it would be worth it and you know after this event that the Friendly City would be a tremendous host for the CHL championship. With the big event going in Red Deer in 2016 it means the earliest Moose Jaw could get it is 2019 or 2022. That's a long ways away, but don't let it fall off your radar Moose Jaw. Start asking questions now!
Wasn't it great on Saturday to see Stefanie Lawton representing Saskatchewan at the Scotties while Graham DeLaet was trying to get his first PGA win in the afternoon with Saskies like Patrick Marleau, Jarret Stoll and Todd McLellan then taking part in the latest NHL outdoor game. Saskatchewan is all over the place....add names like Mark McMorris, Ryan Getzlaf and Jon Ryan to the list amongst others and us Saskatchewanites just continue to shine on the national and international stage. Its great watching these athletes do their thing and show off this province isn't it?
Speaking of DeLaet, he has to be wondering when and if that first tournament will ever come. He came into the last round of the Northern Trust Open just two shots back, but an early double bogey had him chasing all day long and he could never recover. Its another top 10 finish which is great, but its not what Graham wants and its not what his many fans back in Saskatchewan want. We want him to fire a final round 67 and win one of these damn events sooner or later.
The SJHL is getting notoriety this week for all the wrong reasons. First, word is the Kindersley Klippers like the Weyburn Red Wings are seriously in debt and may not be able to continue and then a brawl between Melville and Flin Flon goes viral on the internet. Yes, fans love their brawls as was witnessed at the historic Whitney Forum, but its not a good message to be sending these days and its not a good message when you have two teams who have revealed their financial problems,. You can't tell me as I said before that they are making money in places like La Ronge and Nipawin. The higher-ups better get involved in a damn hurry and do something to save this league or else there won't be one. I had some ideas when I was there, but the league seemingly didn't want to build or pursue on them instead opting to go back to their old ways. I've probably said enough on this topic.
The Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades play one another at 1130 this morning in Saskatoon. Its a promotion aimed right at the kids and its a promotion that is long overdue in Regina. The Edmonton Oil Kings started it off a few years ago and many teams have copied it and had kids in the stands for a late morning faceoff.  Why it hasn't been done in Regina is a mystery to me and I hope Anthony Marquart and company can get such a promotion going next year.  The positives far outweigh the negatives.
Sportscage Insider Arash Madani suggested Friday the Florida Panthers are kicking the tires of Leafs forward Phil Kessel. Panthers GM Dale Tallon has a nice thing going in Miami with some talented young forwards. Does he really want to perhaps spoil things by adding Kessel. Yes, Kessel could do his thing in anomynity in Miami and perhaps be the player he used to be, but is that the roll of the dice you want to take.
NBC's Hockey Day in America was on Sunday. It followed the annual Hockey Day in Canada celebrations that CBC started many years ago. The idea was floated out there on Twitter Sunday afternoon and I couldn't agree more. When will someone start organizing a "Football Day In Canada". There are many great stories out there that should be told. Could Mosaic Stadium or any place in the CFL start the day off with a high school game followed by a junior/university one followed by a CFL game. Lets not forget about minor football either. I think a "Football Day in Canada" would be a tremendous thing. What are your thoughts?
Can I also get your thoughts on this. What do you like better? The Sportsnet production of NHL Hockey or what NBC and the NBC Sports Network gives us. I gotta tell you, I lean towards what NBC is doing for a variety of reasons.
Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best to play the game and will likely end up in the Hall of Fame one day. Fitzgerald just signed a new contract in Arizona which will probably end up being his last. I just wonder why Fitzgerald would stay in Arizona when he could go somewhere that has a top notch quarterback. Fitzgerald has done his thing under a cornucopia of average to less than average quarterbacks with the exception of Kurt Warner and even then Warner was at the end of his Hall of Fame career. . He deserves to go out catching passes from someone like Brady, Rodgers, Manning or Brees. One can only imagine the #'s Fitzy would have if he had one of the NFL's best throwing to him.
Colby Rasmus will make eight million dollars this season striking out offensively and lollygagging defensively for the Houston Astros this season. Think about that!
That's all I got. Have yourselves a great week. Talk to you in the Cage at 4. Take a bow Moose Jaw, you deserve it.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lawton Named Scotties All-Star

Three members of Team Manitoba earned first all-star team nods — third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen — while another, skip Jennifer Jones, was named to the second team. The all-stars were decided based on players’ shooting percentages during round-robin play.
For both Officer and McEwen, it was the sixth time they’ve been named to the Scotties first all-star team.

The all-star teams:
First Team
Skip — Stefanie Lawton, Saskatchewan (83 per cent)
Third — Kaitlyn Lawes, Manitoba (84 per cent)
Second — Jill Officer, Manitoba (86 per cent)
Lead — Dawn McEwen, Manitoba (90 per cent)

Second Team
Skip — Jennifer Jones, Manitoba (81 per cent)
Third — Lori Olson-Johns, Alberta (82 per cent)
Second — Stephanie Schmidt, Saskatchewan (82 per cent)
Lead — Lisa Weagle, Team Canada (88 per cent)

The Joan Mead Builder Award was presented to Regina’s Bernadette McIntyre. Each year, this award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the growth and development of women’s curling in Canada. The Builders Award is named after Joan Mead, the late CBC producer who is credited with many innovative developments in curling broadcasting. McIntyre was the chair of the 1998 Scott Tournament of Hearts host committee, was the executive vice-chair of the 2008 Scotties host committee and also volunteered at the very first Tournament of Hearts, in 1982 in Regina.

The Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award was presented, for the second straight year and the third time in her career, to Saskatchewan third Sherry Anderson. The cherished Award is voted on by the curlers and is named in honour of the late Saskatchewan skip who won the first world women’s title for Canada in 1980. The award honours an individual who the competitors feel exemplifies the spirit of curling.

(Canadian Curling Association)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Manitoba-Alberta Final At Scotties

Alberta’s Val Sweeting is moving on to the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
She beat Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton 7-6 in semifinal play at Mosaic Place on Saturday to advance to the gold-medal game. Lawton had a chance to send the game to an extra end, but a draw to the four foot came up short giving Sweeting the victory. With her last shot, Sweeting came down to a Lawton stone in the four foot on a shot that if not made could have given the Saskatoon rink a shot at three and the win.

Olympic champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba locked up a berth in Sunday’s final by winning the one-two Page Playoff game on Friday.

Lawton made the Mosaic Place crowd in Moose Jaw happy earlier on Saturday as she beat Canada’s Rachel Homan in the three-four Page Playoff game ending Homan's two year run as Team Canada.

The medal games will be played Sunday with Lawton facing Homan at 2 followed by the championship matchup at 7.

This year’s Scotties winner will represent Canada at the March 14-22 world women’s curling championship in Sapporo, Japan.

Over 60-thousand people have taken in the event and organizers are expecting the totals to be over 65-thousand by the time tomorrow is over.

Friday, February 20, 2015

This And That

Yes,. the usual Friday assortment of random thoughts is a little late, but forgive me as I've been a little busy this week.
This has been my home base for most of the week as Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw has been the host venue for the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Lets just say this, Saskatchewan knew about Mosaic Place and how great of a facilitiy it is and now Canada knows from either the many from out of town attending in person or watching it on TSN.
It has been a fantastic week of curling and there's still a weekend to go. At the start of the week, everyone said it would be Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, Val Sweeting and Saskatoon's own Stefanie Lawton fighting it out for the first four spots and that is what happened, but if you want to crown someone the winner now go ahead! There isn't a lot separating the teams who are left.  If I had to bet on someone, it would likely be the Olympic gold medal team from Winnipeg.
A special thank you to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. PR Man Ryan Pollock asked me Thursday if there was a chance of getting in amongst the curling talk, Ya know I wasn't saying no and it was great to see Brendan Taman, Jeremy O'Day and Kevin Glenn to come on live from Mosaic and get some people talking Rider football in the stands.  Glenn was even a hit with Team Saskatchewan,,,
I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it, but before this pic was taken, Glenn and the Riders entourage that was here sought out a Saskatchewan fan and they found a family with a small child. They waved the family over and presented the family with hats and the child--a girl around 10 or so--with the first Kevin Glenn 5 jersey that had been made. Those are the moments that Rider fans need to see more of when they bitch, moan and complain about what is going on, Those are how fans are made. That family will not forget that moment and I'm guessing that little girl will want to wear that Glenn jersey at the first home game.
Speaking of Kevin Glenn, I think it is great having him back in Riderville. As I was told on Thursday, if you go back and look at what QB has the most wins in the CFL over the last 5 years it is him, Rider fans should be extremely happy with what GM Brendan Taman has done in the off-season,  Can one say the Riders won the free agency war? They have in my mind,
Some are wondering now why sign both Glenn and Tino Sunseri. I say why let it bother you, This gives Tino more time to develop. I don't know if Sunseri is the heir apparent to Darian Durant when number 4's days are done, but this gives him more time to learn the game and keep his feet out of the fire, '
The Glenn signing overshadowed the John Chick contract extension somewhat. At least it did in my mind. That move is huge as well as perhaps the best defensive end in the league will be staying here. I don't have to tell you what a monster number 97 is and its good to have him in green. Perhaps that's another reason why Glenn signed here instead of going elsewhere.
I will touch upon it more on Monday in "Something to Mitch About", but the last week hosting the Cage from Mosaic Place was a blast and part of the reason for that is the curling community. They are great and I find the women curlers are better than the men for whatever reason when it comes to yakking about the game and socializing in and out of the arena.  There are also many who have to be thanked, but I will wait for Monday for that,
I can't wait for Monday to put this pic up though. It was a true privilege to have the chance to talk to TSN's voice of curling live on Thursday's show. Vic Rauter was everything I knew he would be and more, I wish I had more time. Vic got the interview started off on the right foot when I said I've been waiting all week for this interview and he replied "You have no life right?" There is no more of a professional out there than Vic and I hold him in the same esteem as guys like Cuthbert, Buck and Michaels when it comes to broadcasting their respective sports, He is one of the best and without him, one can only imagine where curling would be,  Yes. TSN takes a lot of credit for it, but Vic is as much a household name in this country as Ron and Don.  The numbers prove it.
CTV's Lee Jones wins the award for story of the week. This story about Jennifer Jones and a young curling fan is a must-see and a warning----you might want to have a Kleenex handy. Go to the 2 and a half minute mark to start watching and don't say you weren't warned.
The question has been asked once and it will be asked again. Why doesn't Regina have a Bonanza anymore? It is a must-visit when going to the Friendly City, but Deja Vu is a great 2nd option. Talk about a huge meal!
The Steve Montador story is a sad one and one that we have lived here with the deaths of Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard. Sports needs to find a way to stop these stories from happening. I don't know if they ever will.
I am the Colby Rasmus of Roll Up the Rim. I am 1 for 10. SIGHHHH!!! Not even a Tim's from Moose Jaw could provide me with a winner.
If you are going to be in Moose Jaw at the Scotties wear green tomorrow and cheer on Stefanie Lawton. Make Mosaic Place sound like Mosaic Stadium.
Have a great weekend!!



Scotties Playoffs Are Set

They are down to the final four in Moose Jaw as round-robin play wrapped up Friday morning,

Click here the playoffs writeup by the Canadian Curling Association

Riders Add Two To Coaching Staff

Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin has added two coaches to the 2015 staff. 
Jermaine Copeland will join the Riders as the receivers coach.
After a stellar 11 year CFL playing career, Copeland entered the coaching ranks in 2012 as a receivers coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. After spending one season in Hamilton, Copeland returned to school in order to complete his degree at the University of Tennessee.
Copeland’s CFL playing career began with the Montreal Alouettes in 2001, where he spent four seasons. He then joined the Calgary Stampeders in 2005 before being traded to Toronto in 2010 where he played his final two seasons. He is a two-time CFL All-Star (2003, 2009) and a two-time Grey Cup champion having won in 2002 and 2008.
Justin Chapdelaine will join the Riders as an offensive assistant.
After a four year career at Queen’s University, Chapdelaine signed with the Ottawa Redblacks in February, 2014 but was released prior to training camp.
Chapdelaine spent last season as the running backs coach with Simon Fraser University.

Team SK Is Playoff Bound At Scotties

Alberta's Val Sweeting came up short in her attempt to run the table in round-robin play at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Her Draw 16 loss, however, means little at this point of the tournament.
Sweeting fell to Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton 9-1 on Thursday in evening play, but had already clinched a berth in the one-two Page Playoff game set for Friday night against Manitoba's Jennifer Jones.
Sweeting and Jones, both 9-1, will play twice on Friday. They'll meet in the round-robin finale in the morning with the winner to earn the first seed.
"I think you just go hard twice," said Jones, who won Olympic gold last year in Sochi. "You never want to let up (with) anything. We just want to go out there and play our very best."
Jones locked up her spot with a pair of victories earlier in the day. She beat Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt 10-3 and Northern Ontario's Tracy Horgan 6-3.
Sweeting, meanwhile, scored two in the last end for a dramatic 7-6 victory over Canada's Rachel Homan in Draw 15 — which allowed her to move on regardless of how she fared in the evening draw with Lawton.
"It wasn't the best throw, I'm not going to lie," she said of the winning play against Homan. "It was a little crafty. But the girls held it so well and they're just such good sweepers that I knew it'd be close."
Homan, the two-time defending champion, also lost to New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud 6-5 in evening play and sits in a tie for fourth spot with Horgan at 6-4.
Lawton, who also dumped Robichaud 9-4 earlier in the day, has sole possession of third at 7-3.
Ontario's Julie Hastings (5-5), Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault (5-6), Birt (4-6), Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador (4-7), are all eliminated from playoff contention as only the top four teams at the end of round-robin play advance. Robichaud is 10th in the 12-team field at 3-7.
Quebec's Lauren Mann is next at 3-8 and B.C.'s Patti Knezevic is last at 1-10.
Regardless of the results in the last two draws, B.C. will finish last in the round robin as Quebec and New Brunswick both hold the tiebreaker advantage. As a result, B.C. will fall into the qualification round at the 2016 Scotties in Grande Prairie, Alta.
The Yukon and the Northwest Territories were eliminated in this year's qualifier and will round out next year's qualifier field with Nunavut, if that territory decides to participate.
Northern Ontario won this year's qualifier to claim the last spot in the main draw.
The loser of the one-two Page Playoff game will play the winner of Saturday's three-four Page Playoff game in the semifinal on Saturday afternoon. The winner of the one-two game advances straight to Sunday night's final.
The winner of the Scotties will represent Canada at the March 14-22 world women's curling championship in Sapporo, Japan.

(Canadian Press)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gibson Announces Rams Coaches For Upcoming Season

University of Regina Rams head coach Mike Gibson announced Thursday the addition of eight assistant coaches to his staff, including longtime defensive coordinator Paul Dawson returning in that same role.
Also retained from last year’s staff will be Steve Hanson (offensive line), Dwayne Masson (running backs), Sheldon Neald (offensive line), and Alex Smith (special teams coordinator). Greg Nesbitt (defensive line) returns to the Rams after a season off from coaching last year, while newcomers Sheldon Gray (defensive backs) and Nathan Hoffart (wide receivers) also join the staff.
“I’m extremely excited at the group of coaches that we’ve put together,” said Gibson, who was named the team’s head coach in January. “We’ve got guys who have been here before and know the lay of the land, and we’ve got new guys who will be great coaches and are excited to be a part of this program. They’ve already got a great rapport and good chemistry as a group and I’m hopeful that they’ll be here for a long time.”
Dawson, who has served as the Rams’ defensive coordinator since 2001, has also been a teacher at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in Regina but will now coach on a full-time basis. He’s overseen a Rams defence that has not only produced NFL linemen Stefan Charles and Akiem Hicks over the past few seasons, but also has had a total of seven different players earn first-team All-Canadian status during Dawson’s tenure. Dawson also coached linebacker Mat Nesbitt, the 2007 CIS Defensive Player of the Year.
Greg Nesbitt had been a defensive line coach with the Rams for 12 years – including as the position coach for both Charles and Hicks – and returns to the staff after not coaching in 2014. Gray comes over to the Rams from the Regina Thunder, where he spent 2012 and 2013 as an assistant. He also has coaching experience at the provincial level and with both LeBoldus and Miller Comprehensive High School in Regina. Gray is no stranger to the Rams, having played for the U of R in each of its first five seasons at the CIS level – his 83-yard interception return in his second season stood as a school record for almost a decade before it was finally broken.
Smith returns for his second season as the team’s special teams coordinator. Prior to joining the Rams in 2013 he had coached with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 16 seasons, mostly as a linebackers and special teams coach.
Hanson and Neald return to guide an offensive line that could return all five starters from the 2014 season. Hanson joined the staff prior to last year after starting for the Rams at right guard from 2009 to 2012, while Neald will return for his sixth season as an offensive line coach with the U of R. Masson returns for his third season as the team’s running backs coach after considerable time coaching at both the junior level and the high school level.
Hoffart joins the staff as a receivers coach after serving in the same role at Miller. He attended the University of Saskatchewan and played for the Huskies before being drafted in the first round by the Roughriders in 2005. Hoffart suited up for both Saskatchewan and Toronto during his CFL career, which finished after playing with the Argonauts in 2008.
Gibson expects to name an offensive coordinator before the team’s spring camp, which is scheduled for April 24 through April 26 at the U of R Field.

Riders Ink Kevin Glenn To Contract

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international free agent quarterback Kevin Glenn has signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.   
Glenn (5’10 – 200) joins the Riders for the second time in his career ahead of what will be his 15th season. The Illinois State product originally entered the CFL with the Green and White in 2001, spending three seasons in Saskatchewan.
Last season, Glenn started 17 regular season games for the B.C. Lions completing 302 of 479 pass attempts (63.0%). He finished second in the league with 3,918 passing yards and third in touchdown passes with 17. He also added 16 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown.  
The 35-year-old Michigan native sits 8th all-time among CFL quarterbacks with 43,336 career passing yards. His 238 career touchdown passes rank 10th all-time. In addition to the Riders Glenn has also spent time with Winnipeg (2004-08), Hamilton (2009-11), Calgary (2012-13) and B.C. (2014) through his 222 career games played.

The Riders also announced today they have signed national free agent offensive lineman Gord Hinse.
Hinse (6’4 – 307) is a six year CFL veteran. The University of Alberta product was selected by his hometown Edmonton Eskimos in the 2nd round (11th overall) of the 2009 Canadian Draft. He spent his first five seasons in Edmonton before joining the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for 2014.
The 27-year-old has played 52 career regular seasons games spending time at both centre and guard. 

Chick Signs Contract Extension

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that international defensive lineman John Chick has signed an extension to remain with the team through the 2016 season. As per club policy, financial details of the contract were not released.
Chick (6’4 – 250) will be entering his sixth year with the Roughriders after originally signing with the team ahead of the 2007 season. Last year, the Utah State product started all 18 regular season games at defensive end where he led the CFL with 15 quarterback sacks and 11 tackles for loss while also collecting a career high 45 defensive tackles. At seasons end he was named a CFL All-Star and the Riders nominee as Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
The 32-year-old has played 73 career regular season games, all with the Green and White. His 42 quarterback sacks currently place him 5th on the Riders all-time list. Chick is a two-time Grey Cup champion (2007, 2013) and was named the 2009 CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
He returned to the Riders in 2013 after spending the 2010-2012 seasons in the National Football League.      

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alberta Leading The Way At Scotties

Alberta's Val Sweeting is the lone unbeaten rink at 8-0 after 13 draws of play at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as she beat Quebec's Lauren Mann 8-6 and Ontario's Julie Hastings 8-5 on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Manitoba's Jennifer Jones suffered her first loss and ended a run of 23 straight round-robin victories at this event.
Jones shot just 69 per cent and made some uncharacteristic errors in a 9-6 loss to Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault.
"They're all great teams and we weren't at our best and they played very well today," Jones said. "A couple of rocks we'd like back but at the end of the day it's just one loss."
Arsenault hit a tapback for three points in the eighth end and gave up a deuce in the ninth before holding on for the win.
"We got some breaks," she said. "We haven't gotten any breaks at all this week and they all came in one game."
However, Jones, the reigning Olympic champion, is in second place at 7-1 after bouncing back with a 9-7 win against New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud in the evening draw. 
The Manitoba skip has been strong all week and came through when tested in an extra-end win over Rachel Homan on Monday night. But she struggled against the veteran Arsenault, who has five Scotties titles of her own.
Jones made a pair of mistakes in the pivotal eighth end. Her first shot rubbed a stone early and she followed that by knocking her own stone out of the four-foot.
"They were playing really well and we just didn't capitalize on our opportunities," Jones said. "We had a couple of chances and if we make a good one, we'd probably have a good chance. We just didn't make it.
"So that's the way it goes and you're not going to win those games if you don't make the big shots."
Arsenault improved to 4-5 later in the day with 7-6 win over Homan, who sits in third place at 6-2.
The Nova Scotia skip was a longtime second on the powerhouse team led by Colleen Jones that was dominant over a decade ago. Arsenault won the Scotties for the first time in 1999 and added four straight titles from 2001-04.
She's back for a 12th Scotties appearance with a young lineup that includes Christina Black, Jane Snyder and Jennifer Baxter.
"Well I've been there, done that," Arsenault joked after the win. "For the young-ins, they're very excited. They were very excited just to play them. They said, 'How often do you get to play Olympic champions?'
"So they were extremely happy. Even after we lost such a tough one last night (6-5 to Saskatchewan), they were so excited going to bed that we were going to be playing Jennifer today."
Saskatchewan's Stephanie Lawton held off Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador 4-2 but fell to Northern Ontario's Tracy Horgan 6-1 in evening play. Lawton and Horgan sit in a tie for fourth spot at 5-3 while Strong is seventh at 3-6.
Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt and Ontario's Hastings are tied for fifth at 4-4. Robichaud is currently in eighth position at 2-6 while B.C.'s Patti Knezevic and Quebec's Mann are at the bottom of the standings at 1-8.
The top four teams will make the playoffs.
Round-robin play continues until Friday morning. The medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

(Canadian Press)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Something to "Mitch" About

--The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is underway at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw and opening weekend didn't really go to well for the Saskatchewan rink skipped by Stefanie Lawton (above). Lawton started things off well beating BC, but she lost to the favourites to be in the final as she dropped a Saturday decision to Rachel Homan's Team Canada rink and a Sunday game to Manitoba's Jennifer Jones.  The good news is Lawton has seen the best two rinks already and can move on. The bad news is she can't afford many other stumbles. She has a big Monday today with games against Quebec and Ontario. She will be expecting to be 3-2 at the end of the day Monday. 

--Do you recognize the two girls in the middle of this photo. They are Jenna and Sara England---the daughters of the late Sandra Schmirler. They were working the phones Sunday in the telethon for the foundation named after their mother. I had a chance to speak with Sara and my god her mother would be proud of her as her father Shannon most certainly is. What an outstanding young lady! She is someone who is just starting to realize what kind of legacy Sandra left with us and as she begins her career in the sport, she is determined to do what Mom did and represent Saskatchewan at the Scotties and beyond. Many are pulling for her.  I couldn't help but think back to after the 1998 Scotties in Regina when Sandra was representing Team Canada after winning Olympic gold. When the event came to an end for her on the Saturday afternoon, she did the interview with media and Sara, then a small child was enthralled with my microphone, So much so Sandra asked if I wanted to do yet another interview with her because Sara had likely ruined mine, Talking to Sara on Sunday just made me feel old. I can't believe its been so long since Sandra was taken away from us. There are days you remember in this business for all the right reasons and all the wrong ones. That was one of the days I'll never forget but for the sadness that was brought and not the joy, 

--I won't lie. I was a little nervous Saturday afternoon after Pats play-by-play man Phil Andrews informed me the team had left for Prince Albert and their regularly scheduled game against the Raiders despite the nasty weather. After what happened years ago to the Swift Current Broncos, I always worry a little about kids travelling across the province in less than ideal weather on the bus. Needless to say I was relieved when I heard the Pats were back home safe and sound. If you saw the pictures of what it looked like on the highway, you can thank what I'm sure was a white knuckled bus driver who probably had a double or two once he got home knowing he had gotten home safely.

--Morgan Klimchuk returns to Regina today as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings. I would hope the Pats would do something nice for Klimmer by having some kind of tribute on the brand new scoreboard and thanking him for his time as a Pat.

--Who the hell is Anders Lee and what is he doing collecting a very quiet 28 points on the season for the Islanders. More importantly, why can't the Oilers find guys like this?

--I am mixed when it comes to the Riders sked as I'm sure a lot of you are. The thing which jumps out at me though is the fact four of the last five are on the road including the last two. . I don't like that at all. At the end of the day, you have nine games at home and nine games on the road, but I would have liked to see a little more balance. I am guessing its extremely tough for the Riders to try and get a home sked that is appetizing to all because every one has different reactions to when games are.

--The CFL really screwed up the schedule release. The idea to have fans unlock the schedule by asking for 10-thousand tweets was good in principle, but it needed to be thought out a little more. Then to screw it up on the website by making many in Rider Nation believe right off the bat that the annual Labour Day Classic against the Bombers was not going to happen makes me wonder who is double and triple-checking things in the office these days.

--Did anyone see the movie about the couple making out on the bus this weekend. I think it was called "50 Shades of Greyhound"!

--Some kid in Idaho gave a Valentines Day card to all 650 girls in his high school. I'm thinking this kid still didn't see any action over the weekend. Nice attempt though!

--That's all I got. Have a good holiday Monday and enjoy the week. Talk to ya from Moose Jaw on Tuesday,

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tino Is Back!

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international free agent quarterback Tino Sunseri has re-signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.   

Sunseri (6’0 – 206) will stay with the Riders for his third CFL season after originally signing with the Green and White in May 2013 out of the University of Pittsburgh.

Last season the 26-year-old played all 18 regular season games, with four starts, completing 73 of 123 pass attempts (59.3%) for 973 yards and six touchdowns while also adding 20 carries for 97 yards and touchdown.

Through 36 career games, Sunseri has completed 87 of 141 attempts (61.8%) with six touchdowns. He won his first career Grey Cup with the Riders in 2013.

·         The Riders also announced they have released national defensive end David Lee.

Riders 2015 Schedule


                                                                                                                  (Sask. time)
DATE                                                 GAME                                                            TIME          TV
SATURDAY, JUNE 13   SASKATCHEWAN         @         EDMONTON                 TBA
(Fort McMurray)                                 

FRIDAY, JUNE 19                     CALGARY        @         SASKATCHEWAN         7:30 PM 

SATURDAY, JUNE 27               WINNIPEG        @         SASKATCHEWAN         6:00 PM     TSN           

SUNDAY, JULY 5                      TORONTO        @         SASKATCHEWAN         1:30 PM     TSN

FRIDAY, JULY 10          SASKATCHEWAN         @         B.C.                             8:00 PM     TSN

FRIDAY, JULY 17                               B.C.        @         SASKATCHEWAN         8:00 PM     TSN

SUNDAY, JULY 26                    HAMILTON       @         SASKATCHEWAN         5:00 PM     TSN

FRIDAY, JULY 31          SASKATCHEWAN         @         EDMONTON                 7:00 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, AUG 8       SASKATCHEWAN         @         TORONTO                     5:00 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, AUG 22                 CALGARY        @         SASKATCHEWAN         5:00 PM     TSN

SUNDAY, AUG 30         SASKATCHEWAN         @         OTTAWA                      2:00 PM     TSN

SUNDAY, SEPT 6                     WINNIPEG        @         SASKATCHEWAN         2:00 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, SEPT 12   SASKATCHEWAN         @         WINNIPEG                    4:30 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, SEPT 19               OTTAWA          @         SASKATCHEWAN         7:00 PM     TSN

SUNDAY, SEPT 27                   MONTREAL      @         SASKATCHEWAN         2:00 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, OCT 3       SASKATCHEWAN         @         B.C.                              5:00 PM     TSN

FRIDAY, OCT 9             SASKATCHEWAN         @         HAMILTON                    5:30 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, OCT 24                 EDMONTON     @         SASKATCHEWAN         5:00 PM     TSN

SATURDAY, OCT 31     SASKATCHEWAN         @         CALGARY                     1:00 PM     TSN

SUNDAY, NOV 8           SASKATCHEWAN         @         MONTREAL                  12:00 PM   TSN