Thursday, April 30, 2015

This And That

The weekly assortment of thoughts running through my muddled mind and as always they are in no particular order.

--Baseball embarrassed itself on Wednesday by having a game played in an empty stadium. Why should the Baltimore Orioles and the many people who work at their games take a financial hit by playing a game in front of no one?  I won't sit here and suggest what is happening in Baltimore is right because its not, but you can't tell me there wasn't another solution. They couldn't have played in Chicago? They couldn't have made the game up as part of a doubleheader later this season? They couldn't have played it elsewhere like perhaps nearby Washington. What message did having that game in Baltimore have? How much money did the Orioles lose because of it? It looked horrible and you can't sugarcoat it in any fashion.  As stated, what is happening in Baltimore is embarrassing to the city and is something that shouldn't be happening, but taking it out on the Orioles is fundamentally wrong as far as I'm concerned.

--Who coined the term "good stick". I've been told it was Jim Hughson, but I hear a lot of announcers use it. This might be the stupidest term I've heard. What exactly is a good stick? Is there a bad stick? Is there a mediocre stick?

--How do your hockey drafts look after one round?

--For what its worth, I had six of the eight first round series right getting the Tampa-Detroit and Minnesota-St. Louis series wrong. For what its worth, I am going with Anaheim, Chicago, Washington and Montreal in the 2nd round.

--Yes, I did take Montreal to beat Tampa, but if you are a Lightning fan, you have to like the fact Steven Stamkos didn't score against Detroit and they still won. If he gets going, look out!

--Reason #2875 why I wish TSN still had the NHL contract. Game 7 of the Detroit-Tampa series ends and there is no sign of Mike Babcock leaving the Detroit bench for perhaps the last time. If Gregg Popovich was perhaps leaving the Spurs or Bill Belichick the Patriots, the camera would be on him for sure.  Reason #2876 is after having Hughson do the Calgary series in the first round, they are moving him to Montreal and moving Paul Romanuk who did the Montreal series to the Calgary series. Shouldn't Hughson stick with Calgary and put Bob Cole into the Montreal series. I don't understand. I don't know if Rogers does either. Reason #2877 is the fact there is no great playoff montage before games like what Hockey Night in Canada had in past years. Those should be brought back.  Remember this from last year.

--The popular consensus is Carey Price will be the NHL's MVP this season, but my vote (if I had one) goes to John Tavares.

--What do the Toronto Raptors do in the off-season? Under Dwane Casey, the team has become relevant and I expect them to be a playoff team for many years with guys like Lowry, DeRozan and Valacunias leading the way, but there is no doubt this team is not a team made for the playoffs as they haven't gotten it done two years in a row when they have had home-court advantage. Something happened to the Raptors after the all-star break as they were a different looking team. Is Casey a guy that can only get them so far and someone is needed to push them over the playoff hill? I don't think the Raptors need to make a coaching change, but it wouldn't surprise me if they think about it. Then again, perhaps they should try and sign Paul Pierce.

--As we inch closer and closer to the CFL draft, I have no idea what the Riders are going to do with their first round pick. Some have said with the depth and talent in this year's draft, they should trade down and get two seconds if they can for their first rounder and then find a Canadian D-lineman and perhaps Addison Richards. I would be OK with that, but I'm not the one making the call. I have faith in what the Rider braintrust does. I would love to see them get Richards and after seeing the CFL rankings last week, he may not be a first rounder. That being said, if the green and white stand pat and don't make any trades, I don't see Richards being around in Round 3.

--Congrats to Noah Picton for having an opportunity to go to Riders training camp and learn from the pros. Wouldn't it be great to see him throwing to Addison Richards at camp?

--The first round of the NFL draft went Thursday night and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston went to Tampa with the first overall pick. Winston now joins other former Florida State quarterbacks like Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel, Chris Weinke, Charlie Ward, Peter Tom Willis and Danny MacManus. I might take Danny Mac ahead of all those guys because NONE of those guys had a solid NFL career. I don't think Winston is going to be what the Buccaneers are looking for.

--The Regina Pats keep making off the ice moves with the latest one being local businessman Marty Klyne becoming the team's new chief operating officer. The team also moved Chad Lang into a different position. Many feel Lang's time in Regina didn't accomplish much for the hockey team. Those people should remember it was Lang who engineered the trade to get goalie Daniel Wapple from Medicine Hat and it was Lang who was a big figure in the team winning the Eastern Division in 2013-14. The names of Adam Brooks, Austin Wagner, Colby Williams and Wapple can all be traced back to Lang. He wasn't perfect, but who is in the hockey game? Don't be surprised if teams come calling on his services in the off-season.

--It would be nice if the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight got people talking about boxing again, but I don't think the fight will have a long shelf-life when it comes to discussion and the sport will just fade back into the limelight again.

--That's all I got, have a great weekend!!

Cougar Mens Basketball Add Two

University of Regina men’s basketball head coach Steve Burrows announced Thursday that the Cougars have received commitments from forwards Kolton Bellamy and Stephen Shields for the 2015-16 season.
Bellamy, who checks in at 6-6 and 215 lbs., helped Balfour Collegiate qualify for the 5A provincial championships in all three of his seasons with the school’s senior team. A two-time RHSAA all-star for Balfour, Bellamy had his best statistical season as a Grade 12 with an average of 19 points and 15 rebounds per game for the Bears. Bellamy also has experience at the provincial level, competing for Team Saskatchewan at the 2011 15U National Championship in Toronto and at the 16U level at the 2012 Western Canadian Basketball Championship in Edmonton.
“Kolton has been well coached throughout his high school career,” Burrows said. “He’s got a huge upside and we love that he’ll come in with good size and good length. He’s shown he’s been a good leader at Balfour and I think he’s got the ability to become an impact player for us.”
Shields was a 2008 graduate of Neelin High School in Brandon, where he and former Cougar guard Sterling Nostedt helped lead the Spartans to a 3A provincial championship in their Grade 12 season. Shields was also a standout for Neelin’s volleyball team and chose to concentrate on that sport after high school, redshirting with Brandon University in 2008-09 and appearing in six Canada West matches for the Bobcats in 2009-10. After a year at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alta., Shields headed back home to Brandon and played basketball for Assiniboine Community College during its abbreviated 2011-12 season. Shields measures in at 6-7 and 260 lbs. and is expected to have two seasons of CIS eligibility remaining.
“Stephen’s going to bring us some toughness and some scoring at the forward position,” Burrows said. “For us to be successful in Canada West, depth up front is very important and he’s going to help us there immediately.
Bellamy and Shields are the first two members of the team’s 2015-16 recruiting class. They’ll help bolster a front court that will also return Zach Mihalicz, Travis Sylvestre, Will Tallman, and Jeremy Zver.

Riders Are Heading Back to Saskatoon For Training Camp

The Saskatchewan Roughriders officially confirmed today that they will once again be holding this year’s training camp at Griffith’s Stadium at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

This will mark the third consecutive season the team will travel to the U of S campus to hold training camp after the Green and White held practice sessions there in 2013 and 2014.

The 2015 edition of Saskatchewan Roughrider training camp will open with on field workouts beginning Sunday, May 31st. The team will stay in Saskatoon practicing through Wednesday, June 17th at which time they will return to Regina ahead of their final preseason game June 19th at Mosaic Stadium versus the Calgary Stampeders.

Further details including practice times and fan events will be released in the coming weeks.   

Sunday, May 31:
  • First day of training camp at the University of Saskatchewan’s Griffiths Stadium.

Thursday, June 4:
·         Afternoon walk through in Prince Albert

Saturday, June 6:
·         Rider Fan Fest Day – evening practice with mock game
-       More information on Fan Fest Day will be released soon.

Monday, June 8 & Wednesday, June 10:
·         Morning practices at Gordie Howe Bowl in Saskatoon

Saturday, June 13: Pre-Season Game ‘B’
  • Saskatchewan at Edmonton – 8:00 pm – Fort McMurray

Thursday, June 18
·         Walk through at Mosaic Stadium in Regina

Friday, June 19: Pre-Season Game ‘C’
  • Saskatchewan vs. Calgary – 7:30 pm – Mosaic Stadium

A Letter To CFL Fans From The New Commish

Dear CFL Fans:

As I wrap up my first official day on the job, I’m checking in with my new bosses.

That's you, our fans.

All of us who work on behalf of this league are ultimately accountable to you.

You support our teams. You cheer on our players. You help make us better.

So we really do work for you.

I want to start my tenure here by thanking you for the opportunity to contribute to a league that is growing, strong, and primed for an even more exciting future.

Also, many thanks for the personal well wishes so many of you have already conveyed to me and my family.

And most of all, I want to express how grateful I am to you for the passion you have for our game.

I have been fortunate enough to play, coach, and work in sports most of my life; I have seen kids hit their first home run, a Dream Team take over an Olympic Games, the donation of sports equipment help to transform some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world.

And I will say, the energy you bring to the CFL, your bond with our athletes, and your desire to come together at Grey Cups and all year round, is truly unique.

I’m honoured to work for you and with you!

The draft and training camps and the season are all rapidly approaching. It’s going to be a great year. I look forward to seeing you soon where we both want to be… at a CFL stadium, on game day.

Jeffrey L. Orridge
Canadian Football League

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Riders Add Rams QB To Training Camp Roster

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that national quarterback Noah Picton has been added to the team’s training camp roster.

Picton plays at the University of Regina and will join the Riders after being appointed by the CFL as part of the Canadian quarterback internship program.

Last season, the Regina native started four of eight regular season games. The 19-year-old redshirt freshman completed 123 of 192 attempts (64.1%) for 2,029 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 20 rush attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown. He added 147 passing yards on 14 completions in the Canada West semi-final. 

UFC Strips Jon Jones Of Title.

UFC stripped light heavyweight champion Jon Jones of his title Tuesday, one day after he turned himself in to police custody on a felony charge in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jones, 27, is the first champion in UFC history to be stripped of a title due to disciplinary reasons. UFC officials also announced Tuesday that the promotion has indefinitely suspended Jones and pulled him from a scheduled title defense against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas.

In addition, Reebok terminated Jones' endorsement contract, effective immediately, on Wednesday morning. Jones had lost his deal with Nike after a mutual split in Sept. 2014.

Former title contender Daniel Cormier will replace Jones in the pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to fight for the now-vacant light heavyweight title.

"He's very disappointed. He's upset. He wanted to go down as one of the greats or the greatest," UFC president Dana White said on "Fox Sports Live" of Jones. "He's disappointed, but it is what it is. It is the decision we had to make.

"For us to go in and have to strip him of his title and suspend him is not fun, but you know what they say: The show must go on."

Johnson echoed those sentiments to on Wednesday.

"I can say that I'm kind of disappointed with the mistake Jon made, but he is human," Johnson said. "I definitely wanted to fight him for the title. He's the best. Everybody wants to fight the best, if you're in this sport for the right reasons."

Jones appeared in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court on Tuesday for a felony first appearance. Judge Maria Dominguez granted a request made by Jones' attorney, Vincent Ward, to remove any travel restrictions on the fighter, which kept alive the possibility of Jones fighting next month in Las Vegas.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein and White flew to Albuquerque to meet with Jones and his representatives Tuesday afternoon. UFC announced Jones had been stripped of the title hours later.

"UFC feels strongly that its athletes must uphold certain standards both in and out of the Octagon," UFC said in a statement. "While there is disappointment in the recent changes, the organization remains supportive of Jones as he works through the legal process."

Widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Jones allegedly was involved in a three-car accident Sunday morning. Witnesses said a man fitting Jones' description ran a red light, collided with another vehicle and fled on foot. According to police reports, the man apparently returned to the vehicle to grab a "large handful of cash" before fleeing a second time.

The driver of the car that was struck, a 25-year-old pregnant woman, was taken to the hospital. Police confirmed she suffered a fractured arm and wrist.

Jones did not enter a plea during his court appearance Tuesday. The district attorney has 60 days to determine whether to move forward with the case, according to court spokeswoman Camille Cordova.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Riders Launch New Community Theme

The Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club today has launched a new community theme, "Pass It On," which aims to redefine and elevate the impact that Roughriders community initiatives have in Saskatchewan.  “Pass It On” will be represented across all of the community programs and partner organizations that the Roughriders are involved with. In 2014-15, the commitment provided by the Rider organization had a direct financial impact to not-for-profit and various charitable organizations of $1.1-million.

“The work we do in communities across this province is one of the most important things we do as an organization,” said Saskatchewan Roughriders Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, Gregg Sauter. “Giving back is at the core of our culture and our values as a football club.  We could not be prouder of the incredible partners we have at both the grassroots and corporate level that allow us to have such a positive impact on individuals and communities across the province.”

"Our partnership with the Saskatchewan Roughriders is critical in our efforts to provide bullying prevention education to schools and communities across the province," said Cindy Fuchs, provincial director of the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan. "Players like Scott McHenry, Dan Clark and Neal Hughes have reached over 50,000 students in the last five years."
“Partnering with the Saskatchewan Roughriders has helped making an amazing impact on women facing a life-threatening diagnosis of cancer,” said Jonathan Huntington, Manager, Community Investment at Cameco.

“The partnership between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Football Saskatchewan has enabled us to provide our members more opportunities to grow the sport of football across the entire province while enhancing the quality of the game for all those involved,” said Director of Football Operations for Football Saskatchewan, Mike Thomas. “Through the Centennial Legacy and Grey Cup Legacy Grant Programs, amateur football in Saskatchewan is thriving thanks to the great efforts of our Saskatchewan Roughriders!”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Are Argos About To Be Sold??

Toronto Argonauts owner David Braley is in talks with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Bell Media about purchasing the CFL club, according to reports.
The 73-year-old Braley has been actively searching for a buyer to take over the franchise for some time.
TSN and the Toronto Star say he’s negotiating with Bell and Tanenbaum.
The CFL confirmed on Monday that Braley is in talks to sell the club, but would not confirm who all is involved with the negotiations.
“We’re aware that discussions are currently taking place between owner David Braley and certain interested parties regarding the Toronto Argonauts,” the league said in a press release. “Out of respect to all parties involved, we are going to allow this process to take its course and we will not be commenting any further while negotiations are ongoing.”
If a deal was to go through, it’s believed that the CFL club would move its home games to BMO Field, the current home of MLSE’s Toronto FC. The team’s lease at its current stadium, the Rogers Centre, expires after the 2017 season and won’t be renewed.

(Canadian Press)

Something To "Mitch" About

A busy, busy, busy weekend in the YQR for yours truly that finished off with a few thousand people at the Brandt Centre checking out 80's rockers Def Leppard. Without a doubt, one of my favourite all time bands. They aren't the same as they were in their hey-day, but its close and they still bring it.  A sold out crowd went back in time as they performed all their great songs to a crowd that enjoyed every second of it. Saskatoon's One Bad Son was pretty damn good too.  LOVED IT!!

The weekend started Friday night at the Highland Curling Club in Regina as the stars of High Impact Wrestling did their thing at their biggest card of the year--Spring Meltdown.

 (Photo by Rachel Ling)

 As is usually the case, you will usually find me around the venue and I was there calling the mayhem for Access 7 along with Locker Talk host Pete Paczko.. Mayhem is a good word to describe what was just a great night. The guys that do what they do in front of crowds large or small just bring it every time they walk through the curtain. Its not easy being an independent pro wrestler and these guys put their body on the line for very limited $$$ unlike those who work for the WWE. The show at the Highland was fantastic and many people walked out entertained. The crew that is assembled are very good people working hard to entertain and certainly did that Friday.

I even had a fan ( a citizen of Gronkville as I refer to the audience as)  make a sign for yours truly which is a first....

Surprisingly, there were no spelling mistakes!

Saturday was a trip over to the Brandt Centre to catch the Harlem Globetrotters...

Its the first time I had seen the Globetrotters in over a decade. The schtick is still the same and its just as entertaining. The Washington Generals haven't won a game since 1971! Rider fans thought they had it bad in the 80's! No, I don't know if John Herrera is working for the Generals!

Do you remember the Simpsons episode where Homer goes to space and problems arise with an inanimate carbon rod saving the day. The rod becomes a celebrity and there is a parade held for it. Why do I think you could do the same thing with the ping-pong ball that gave the Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid! Who's kidding who, if the kid brings glory back to Northern Alberta, the argument could be made to hang the banner of a ping-pong ball alongside that of Gretzky, Coffey, Messier and the others. The changes have been fast and furious in Edmonton since the Oilers won the draft lottery and they are showing the young man they are serious about ending their days of being a doormat. The question I have now is what player will go and for who. I still think its Taylor Hall, but yes Oiler fans the days of Jordan Eberle continuing his career in Edmonton could be limited. McDavid arrives, Chiarelli comes on board and Lowe hits the proverbial road. No complaints from this guy! None!

The Oilers are in Saskatoon on September 26th to play the Minnesota Wild in an NHL pre-season game. Would Edmonton bring McDavid to the Bridge City? Its buyer beware, but I might want to take the chance on that one.

Congratulations to the Calgary Flames for beating the Vancouver Canucks. I hope you are rewarded for that by getting blasted by Anaheim. There is no doubt I want the Ducks to take that series, but once again thank you Calgary for ridding us of Vancouver.

The Saturday night Stanley Cup games were just outstanding. That is the way hockey should be played. I don't think you can argue that. 

Brendan Gallagher's goal to give the Canadiens their series against Ottawa wasn't ruled a high stick? It looked that way to me when I saw the highlights. 

I think its safe to say the St. Louis Blues have taken the torch from the San Jose Sharks as a good regular season team and a bad playoff team. Three straight years they have had Cup winning capabilities and they are out in Round 1. Too many good players on that team not to go further three years in a row. Is Ken Hitchcock going to take the fall for that?

A couple of stories you should read this week. A couple of very good stories.

The first one is from Hayley Wickenheiser who opens up about life as an athlete and how its not as easy and glamourous as one might think. You can see that one here.

The other comes from Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and it is a fascinating read on being a head coach and why football matters. Check that one out right here

A question for baseball fans. We all know what Pete Rose did and we all know what Barry Bonds did. If you could only vote one into the baseball Hall-of-Fame would it be Rose or Bonds? One gambled on the sport, but not when he was a player while the other violated the rules while a player to make him better. Who would you put in?

When the Kansas City Royals take the field are they doing so now to the music of the NwO? These guys are becoming the Broad Street Bullies of Baseball.  Pitcher Yordano Ventura has now been suspended twice in the first month of the season for instigating the benches to empty. After what happened with Jose Bautista this week, is it safe to say the first series between the Jays and Royals could be a little explosive.
Drew Willy is making $250 thousand and he wants more? What has he done to get himself the money he is getting now and why does he believe he should get more. Do something if you want more money Drew! Your resume doesn't exactly equal that of quarterbacks like Lulay, Mitchell and Durant who all have quarterbacked Grey Cup winning teams in your division.  FWIW: Does anyone see the Bombers as it stands right now being at the same level the Stamps, Eskimos and Riders are at. I honestly see them fighting for a crossover spot right now and that's the best they can do.  That opinion may change by the time the season starts, but I just don't see them being in the top 3 in the West.

Finally, this is the newest thing coming to hockey games at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I think you might agree this MUST be something we see at the Brandt Centre, Mosaic Stadium, Currie Field or wherever. Yes, its a taco cannon!

First, it was Taco in a bag and now this!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Regina Pat Canadians Win Bronze at Telus Cup

After a disappointing loss in the semi-final to Toronto on Saturday, the Regina Pat Canadians rebounded at the Telus Cup to win bronze by beating Strathmore 6-3 in the 3rd place game Sunday afternoon.

Arthur Miller and Riley Woods each had three points in the victory.

It ends a week that saw several players for the Pat C's shine as Owen Sillinger was named the tournament MVP, top scorer and top forward while Jake Tesarowski was named the event's top defenceman.

(Photo Courtesy Hockey Canada)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Do NFL Teams Get Bad Schedules?

Washington Redskins fans, you might not want to hear this.

University at Buffalo engineers, who have done a study on imbalances in the NFL schedule and presented it at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference earlier this year, have studied the 2015 NFL schedule that was released this week. One of the main imbalances they look at is which teams get the most games against "rested" opponents – those coming off Thursday night games or bye weeks.

Yep, Washington got the shortest stick in that area.

Washington plays five games against opponents with extra rest this year, the UB engineers said. That's the most in the NFL. The Redskins have three games against teams coming off bye weeks and two games against teams coming off a Thursday game. That's a very high number; it's almost one-third of Washington's schedule.

Other teams shouldn't be too happy either. The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks each have four games against opponents with extra rest. The New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills (who have frequently gotten imbalanced schedules the past few years), San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs are next at three each.

"We had a detailed look at the 2015, and we see again the imbalances are significant," said Murat Kurt, PhD, an assistant professor in UB’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Some teams should be much happier with their draw. The Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals don't play any games against teams coming off a bye or a Thursday night game.

This all might not seem like much, but it is a disadvantage. In a 16-game season in which playoff spots are almost always determined by just one game or tiebreakers, it's worth noting. When the engineers studied the issue they found that from 2009-13 a team's average winning percentage decreased by 3.77 percent against rested teams. In 2013 it was a decrease of about seven percent.

Rested opponents aren't the only factor UB engineers note. A cluster of divisional games in a row can be inequitable. The Green Bay Packers are the big losers there. From Nov. 15 to Dec. 3 the Packers play four divisional games in a row, something that is very rare.

"Playing four back-to-back divisional games – which are often your toughest because those opponents know you best, they're playing hard and it means the most – is difficult," said Mark Karwan, PhD, Praxair Professor of Operations Research and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. "They should be spread out."

Another scheduling inequity the Buffalo engineers focused on was at least three road games in a row. Buffalo, Miami, Jacksonville and Atlanta got three road games in a row this season. The Bills have five road games in six weeks, a particularly tough stretch.

Travel itself can be unbalanced. Kurt provided the examples of Baltimore and Tennessee. The Ravens have back-to-back trips out west twice during the season; Weeks 1 and 2 at Denver and Oakland and Weeks 6 and 7 at San Francisco and Arizona. Compare that to the Titans. Their first two trips aren't too bad (at Tampa Bay and Cleveland) and then they have a five-week stretch in which they won't leave Nashville. From Week 3 to Week 7 they have four home games and a bye week.

"They don’t leave their home for 5 weeks," Kurt said. "That’s kind of easy."

Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Seattle all have a four-week stretch that includes three home games and a bye.

The schedule will never be entirely fair, but the UB crew of Kurt, Karwan, Niraj Pandey (a PhD candidate in UB’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering), and Kyle Cunningham (earned a bachelor of science degree from UB in 2014), tried to figure out a solution. They came up with the study “Alleviating Competitive Imbalances in NFL Schedules: An Integer-Programming Approach,” and created a mathematical model called a mixed-integer linear program to produce the most fair schedule possible. They're Bills fans, and part of the reason for the study was that the Bills complained about playing many rested opponents. Sure enough, the engineers found that the Bills played more games against rested opponents (26) than any other team from 2002-2014. (For those curious the Bengals have been the most fortunate team in that regard; their 12 games against rested opponents are three fewer than any other NFL team.)

But the NFL has other considerations when making the schedule, most notably television partners and conflicts at stadiums. Even in the UB model, they're unable to eliminate all inequities; Karwan said their model will still have issues like three road games in a row. It's tough to fit a 256-piece puzzle together.

"There will be inequities due to the TV considerations and stadium availability and special requests by teams," Karwan said. "But what they may be able to do is think about these competitive imbalances – and I’m sure they do because I’m sure everybody thinks they’re against them – but they can spread them out over the years."

The NFL generates thousands of versions of the schedule through its computers to come up with the best one to satisfy everyone's desires. But in the end, there will always be a few teams that have a complaint.

"Eventually they have to come out with the schedule," Karwan said. "It’s a mathematical impossibility to make everyone happy."

Friday, April 24, 2015

WHL Eastern Conference Final Preview

The Eastern Conference Championship Series opens Friday as the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Calgary Hitmen continue their quest to become the 49th WHL Champions and earn a spot at the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Quebec City, QC.

WHL Regular Season Champion Brandon Wheat Kings advance to the Eastern Conference Championship Series for the first time since 2010 after defeating the Regina Pats in a five-game series in Round 2. The Wheat Kings now face the Calgary Hitmen, who defeated the Medicine Hat Tigers in five games in their Round 2 match-up. 

Here’s a look at the Eastern Conference Championship Series: 


2014-15 Regular Season Records Brandon:                                   53-11-4-4, 114pts 
                     45-22-1-4, 95pts 

2014-15 Head-to-Head Records Brandon:                                   3-1-0-0, 6pts
                  1-2-0-1, 3pts 

2014-15 Head-to-Head Top Scorers 
Nolan Patrick (B
DN)                 3gp-1g-4a-5pts
Ryan Pilon (B
DN)                     3gp-0g-5a-5pts
Rihards Bukarts (B
DN)             4gp-4g-1a-5pts
Morgan Klimchuk (B
DN)           4gp-2g-3a-5pts
Radel Fazleev (CAL)                 4gp-2g-2a-4pts
Connor Rankin (CAL)                4gp-1g-3a-4pts
Adam Tambellini (CAL)             4gp-1g-3a-4pts

The Brandon Wheat Kings and Calgary Hitmen meet in the Eastern Conference Championship Series for the fourth time in WHL Playoff history. The Hitmen prevailed in the 2009 and 2010 Eastern Conference Championship Series against the Wheat Kings
,while Brandon took the Conference title in 1998The two Clubs last met in Round 1 of the 2012 WHL Playoffs when Brandon advanced in five gamesIn total, the Wheat Kings and Hitmen have met in the post-season on six occasions and have each posted three series victories. The Hitmen and Wheat Kings met four times during the regular season as Brandon claimed three of four.

The Brandon Wheat Kings advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship Series after eliminating the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings followed by the Regina Pats, each were five-game series. Offensively, Tim McGauley and Rihards Bukarts are amongst 10 different Wheat Kings that have notched two goals or more thus far in the 2015 WHL Playoffs. McGauley has continued a strong year that saw him record 105 points (42g-63a) during the regular season, third-best in the WHL. Defensively, Ivan Provorov and Eric Roy lead a blue line that has only given up 21 goals in 10 post-season games entering this series. Special teams has played a key role for the Wheat Kings as they have converted on 28.2% of their power play opportunities and have killed 85.0% of their penalties. Brandon has embraced playoff hockey as they own a record of 5-1-0-0 in one-goal contests through their first 10 games of the 2015 WHL Playoffs. Goaltender Jordan Papirny has been terrific for the Wheat Kings, with a 1.98 goals against average and a .938 save percentage, and has started each game so far.

The Calgary Hitmen return to the Eastern Conference Championship Series for the first time since 2013 after edging out the Kootenay ICE in a tough seven-games series before defeating the Medicine Hat Tigers in five games. The Hitmen enter the series as the highest scoring Club in the 2015 WHL Playoffs with a total of 49 goals scored. Hitmen forward Adam Tambellini leads the League with 21 (9g-12a) post-season points while Travis Sanheim leads all WHL defenceman with 15 points (5g-10a). The power play has clicked so far for the Hitmen as their 13 power play goals lead all Clubs. Goaltenders Mack Shields and Brendan Burke have shared the crease this post-season, with Shields receiving the nod of late. Shields owns a 6-1-1 record  in nine appearances so far to go along with a 2.33 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.  

Series Schedule(Game 6 to be announced in the coming days)


Friday, April 24
7:30pm CDT
Saturday, April 25
7:30pm CDT
Tuesday, April 28
7:00pm MDT
Wednesday, April 29
7:00pm MDT
Friday, May 1
7:30pm CDT
Tuesday, May 5
7:00pm CDT
*If necessary

Current NHL Prospects

Brandon Wheat Kings
NHL Club
Jayce Hawryluk
Florida Panthers
Peter Quenneville
Columbus Blue Jackets
John Quenneville
New Jersey Devils
Morgan Klimchuk
Calgary Flames
Reid Duke
Minnesota Wild
Eric Roy
Calgary Flames

Calgary Hitmen
NHL Club
Kenton Helgesen
Anaheim Ducks
Chase Lang
Minnesota Wild
Jake Virtanen
Vancouver Canucks
Adam Tambellini
New York Rangers
Radel Fazleev
Philadelphia Flyers
Keegan Kanzig
Calgary Flames
Ben Thomas
Tampa Bay Lightning
Travis Sanheim
Philadelphia Flyers
Brendan Burke
Arizona Coyotes

2015 NHL Draft Prospects

Brandon Wheat Kings
NHL CSS Final Ranking
Ivan Provorov
7 (NA Skaters)
Ryan Pilon
24 (NA Skaters)
Jordan Papirny
28 (NA Goalies)
Tim McGauley
165 (NA Skaters)

Calgary Hitmen
NHL CSS Final Ranking
Pavel Karnaukhov
118 (NA Skaters)
Micheal Zipp
189 (NA Skaters)