Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 4 NFL Capsules


Week 4 of the NFL season sees the 0-3 Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh to face a Roethlisberger-less Steelers squad that is 1-2 in Thursday Night Football. To get a look at this game, and all the games in Week 4, click here 

Jordan Eberle to undergo shoulder surgery---out 4 to 6 Weeks

 Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle will be sidelined 4-6 weeks because of a shoulder injury sustained Tuesday in a preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes.

Eberle, 25, left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura against the wall behind the Coyotes' net. He did not return. Following the game Eberle left Rexall Place with his arm in a sling.

Eberle led the Oilers in scoring last season with 24 goals and 63 points in 81 games. He had one goal and one assist in four preseason games.

Eberle's injury overshadowed the Oilers victory against the Coyotes, giving them a perfect 6-0-0 record in the preseason.

The Oilers have two preseason games remaining before opening the regular season at the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 8.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 14 CFL Stars of the Week

With the CFL abandoning its "stars of the week" this year, I present to you as I have all year, the Week 14 CFL stars of the week.


The Stampeders receiver had a big game hauling in 9 Bo Levi Mitchell passes for 159 yards as Calgary hung on to beat Winnipeg


The Riders linebacker had his best ever game as a pro and he arguably had the best game for any defensive player in the CFL this season. Harris intercepted three Montreal passes with the third one being a pick six in what was Saskatchewan's 2nd win of the season.


Thanks to the fact Andrew Harris was injured in the Lions game against Edmonton, Messam regained the CFL rushing lead after a 117 yard performance in the win over Montreal on 18 carries. The Riders running back has 776 yards on the ground with five games to go.


He did miss an extra point, but the ageless Vancouver native added 4 field goals and a convert in the Riders 33-21 win. The 45 year old has made 28 of his 33 3 pointers this season.

Riders Trade for Rams OL Aaron Picton

Aaron Picton

The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders have made a trade.
The Riders send offensive lineman Randy Richards to Calgary for Aaron Picton.
The Regina Ram was taken by the Stampeders in the 6th round of the 2014 CFL draft. 
Richards played in two games for the Riders and made headlines for a clothesline tackle on Calgary's Tim Brown during a game at Mosaic Stadium August 22 which led to an ejection and a subsequent hail-mary touchdown from Bo Levi Mitchell to Eric Rogers that sent the Stampeders on their way to a victory. 
The Riders also announced on Tuesday the signing of wide receiver Laquan Williams. The University of Maryland product spent time in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens as a kick returner. 
They also announced the release of WR Matt Norzil and RB Steven Miller.
(620 CKRM) 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Something to "Mitch" About

It took 13 games and it may be too little, too late, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders finally played the type of football many knew they were capable of at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday in beating Montreal 33-21. The Riders were in control basically from the get-go with the score flattering a Montreal team who just seemed disinterested which I found surprising considering they are fighting for a playoff spot.  Here are some thoughts on what transpired.

--Macho Harris has taken a lot of abuse this year for his play and at times for good reason as he has missed several tackles, but he got the job done on defense intercepting three Montreal passes taking one of them back for a touchdown. It's Macho's first ever 3 pick game. It had to be his career best game.

--The aggression the Riders put on Montreal in the first series had Montreal on their heels right from the start. The way Kevin Glenn was slinging the ball in the first quarter it looked like he could have a 400 yard afternoon.

--Why hasn't Naaman Roosevelt been on the roster all season?

--The o-line had their best game of the season. Chris Best led the way.

--The balance shown by the offense was something you have to have to be successful and it may have been the first time that was realized this year.

--I don't know if Bob Dyce will go into 2016 as the head coach of the Riders, but he is making it tough on those who will do the hiring. There are still some flaws with this team, but there is a different demeanour amongst this group.

--Rob Bagg's 100th game was a memorable one as he caught one touchdown pass and let another one slip through his hands. For Rob to get to 100 games considering what he has gone through is a true achievement and is a sign of what this guy brings to the table. I said going into the 2013 Grey Cup that there were many guys I would be happy for if they won considering what had happened in their football careers and Bagg topped the list because of the battles he has gone through and that never-ending desire to stay on the football field. I still remember him leaving the field in tears a few years ago after he thought he had suffered another serious knee injury only to find out it wasn't as bad as first thought. The guy just refuses to stay down and that was the same thing yesterday after he got clocked by Chip Cox on a hit that went unpunished even though it was a head shot.

--Andre Monroe is a lot faster than I thought he was. The big man can scoot.

--Are the playoffs a possibility. Likely not, but a win over B-C next week will start people talking.As we have seen in the CFL though, never say never and with the Riders starting the last third of the season at 1-0, who knows!  I wouldn't make any bets on their future, but if you do, the odds will be high and you will cash in.

--Now we have that out of the way, let's get to some other things.

--A lot of credit has to go to the Argonauts. They walked into the beehive known as TD Place in Ottawa and beat a very good REDBLACKS team.

--Michael Sam says the CFL made him worse as a football player. WHATEVER!! The fact is big boy, you can't look in the mirror and see you just did what many others who have come to Canada thinking they will dominate and don't. You underestimated this league and the bottom line is you weren't good enough. Perhaps if you weren't such a diva (which people associated with the Alouettes say he was), and actually concentrated on trying to be a professional football player like what you claimed to have wanted, you wouldn't be making statements like this. Good luck finding a job in the game. Your act has worn thin to many.

--Jonathan Jennings became the 20th  quarterback to start a CFL game this year. That is not good in a nine team league and it will be 21 when Hamilton plays their next game.  There has been a lot of negatives in the CFL this year, but that one has to top the list.

--The University of Regina Rams were flat out embarrassed on Saturday afternoon as the number 1 team in Canada showed why. The University of Calgary, one week after putting 80 up on Alberta, put up 72 on the Rams beating them 72-8 at Mosaic Stadium. The game was on Access and SHAW and if it hadn't been on SHAW, I'd have been calling for Polkarama or Bingo to come on after the 1st quarter. In all my years of watching the Rams, I can't remember the team being beaten that badly. It is now up to head coach Mike Gibson to reinforce to his young troops that it was just one game and it was against the top team in Canada because I'm sure there are a lot of players on that team questioning themselves after that performance.  The old "if you don't like it, stop it mentality" can be taken too, but when Calgary is throwing deep with two minutes to go, it shows a cockiness on their part. I guess you can have that when you are on the top of the mountain though.

--75 hundred people showed up at SaskTel Centre on Saturday afternoon to watch Connor MacDavid and the Edmonton Oilers battle the Minnesota Wild.

 The Oilers won the game and it would appear from the many I spoke with that MacDavid showed why there is so much hype around him. Many said it is not what he does with the puck that surprised him, it is what he does away from the puck and the smarts he has that impressed them. It is also my understanding the Wild basically dressed an AHL caliber team which I'm sure left many unimpressed.

--The Blue Jays are in and now we wait to see who they will play in the American League Divisional Series. There is no doubt David Price starts the opener, but then where do you go. I have had a lot of debate with Toronto fans on how the rotation should look. I say it should be Price, Stroman, Estrada and Dickey.  Others think Dickey should be number 2 and some others think Dickey should be 3. As good a second half as he has had, I just don't trust Dickey and that knuckleball.  It won't be an easy decision for John Gibbons no matter what way you look at it. By the way, was that celebration just a little over the top? If that is what they do for clinching a playoff spot, what are they going to do when they win the division and so on. However, seeing Munenori Kawasaki celebrate was worth it. That guy is a beaut. He has to be on Toronto's playoff roster somehow. One other thing and that is Sunday's walkoff homer secured the American League MVP award for Josh Donaldson. It shouldn't even be close when it comes time to vote.

--MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was on "The Dan Patrick Show" this week and said he would like to add two new franchises. If someone can pony up the money for a stadium in Montreal, you would have to think the re-birth of the Expos would be coming. The team can't and shouldn't play at Olympic Stadium, but if they can do so for a year or two while the new digs are being built, it would be great for baseball in this country.

--Back to football and thoughts on Week 3 of the NFL season

 --Ben Roethlisberger is the latest quarterback to go down. It has been a bad year for quarterbacks in both the CFL and NFL.

 --Only the St. Louis Rams would have a game delayed because their field caught fire because of the opening pyrotechnics.

--The Seahawks are fine, the Ravens are not!

--I thought Miami was supposed to have a good defense, who knew the Falcons would have such a good offense. By the way, if Julio Jones keeps up his current pace, he will catch 181 balls.

--The Raiders are 2-1 making me think Premier Brad Wall will make Derek Carr an honorary Saskatchewan citizen within days and maybe Charles Woodson too.

--Tom Brady continues to snub his nose at the NFL with his play. The guy is literally amazing.

--I can't wait for the first Cardinals-Seahawks matchup of the year. That will be fun.

--What the hell has happened to Colin Kaepernick?

--Texans defensive end and all around superman JJ Watt is a big Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Amber-Thiessen) fan. Can you blame him? He went to Twitter after seeing a picture of Tiffani holding up a mens magazine saying she heard he was looking for him saying his mind was blown that he had gotten a tweet from his all-time crush. Look out Zack Morris! 

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

CFL Tells Bombers A Mistake Was Made

They blew it.
The CFL admitted Saturday afternoon its officials screwed up a penalty call against the Bombers late in their loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night at Investors Group Field.
The Bombers were flagged for illegal procedure because they had no end on a third-and-short play at Calgary's 37 yard line with 39 seconds remaining. That pushed the Bombers back five yards, which meant they had to try a 50-yard field goal that would have tied the game.
Lirim Hajrullahu missed the kick and had to settle for a single, and the Bombers lost 25-23 to fall to 4-9 and remain out of the playoff picture in the West Division.
On Saturday the CFL admitted the official who threw the flag, believed to be side judge Jocelyn Paul, got the call wrong, and vice-president of officiating Glen Johnson explained to the Sun where it all went wrong.
Winnipeg receiver Darvin Adams split out wide left on the play, which was a simple sneak by quarterback Matt Nichols, and Adams checked with the side judge to ensure he was on the line of scrimmage. The offence must have seven players on the line for each play, and the official told Adams he was good.
“He said it a little premature, because (Adams) wasn't ultimately there,” Johnson told The Sun from Edmonton on Saturday. “So he kind of told him incorrectly that he was and then got distracted by number 66 (Stanley Bryant) on the interior line to see whether he had actually reported to be eligible or not. So he got caught up in that ...
“As soon as the play was over he ran into the referee and just said 'Did 66 report?' The referee said, 'No.' So then he forgot he had told the wide receiver that he was on the line, and he said, 'Then I have a procedure penalty.' And then they applied the penalty.
“It just kind of caused him to kind of get him off his focus and ultimately we called a penalty that we shouldn't have called.”
Even though Adams ultimately backed up too far to be considered on the line of scrimmage, Johnson said that shouldn't have mattered.
“When we tell a guy he's on the line, he's on the line,” Johnson said. “Wherever he is, if we told him he is, he is. That's been a long standing protocol of ours.”
The official will be “disciplined in accordance with the gravity of the situation,” Johnson said in an earlier statement issued by the CFL.
The Bombers, of course, believe the call cost them the game, that they were marching with plenty of momentum and surely would have found their way into the end zone for the winning score. Anyone who has watched the floundering Blue and Gold offence this season, however, knows that is no guarantee.
Winnipeg likely would have at least tied the game and sent it to overtime with a field goal were it not for the incorrect call, as Hajrullahu is 15-for-16 from inside 40 yards this season.
The statement Bombers president Wade Miller issued on Saturday afternoon certainly insinuated the call cost them the game. Interestingly, Miller's brother, Ritchie, is a CFL official.
“We’re deeply disappointed in what happened (Friday) night regarding the officiating error, as acknowledged by the league today,” said Miller, who berated the officials as they left the field Friday night. “While we understand that mistakes happen, it is extremely frustrating for our organization, and our fans, that it occurred at such a crucial point in the game, and our season.”
There is still enough time for the Bombers to make the playoffs, and at least they were saying all the right things after Friday's contest in an effort to look forward.
“You cannot rely on the officials,” O'Shea said. “You have to win games in spite of that. You can't make an excuse like this. This type of outcome has been happening since officials were involved in any sport, from the beginning of history of sport with officials. It just happens. Human error.”
How the CFL goes about trying to ensure a wrong call at the worst possible time in a game doesn't happen again will continue to be debated, but there's nothing that can be done to change what happened on Friday night.
“Now we move forward with our internal discipline process, and (the official) will be disciplined appropriately for it,” Johnson said. “We move forward and get better.”

(Winnipeg Sun)                                                 

Week 4 Canada West Football Wrap

The UBC Thunderbirds fell to 2-2 in Canada West football play (3-2 overall) on Friday night, dropping a 45-29 decision to the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies (2-2).

The T-Birds found themselves at a 21-0 deficit by the end of the first quarter, and though they fought valiantly, couldn't claw their way all the way back.

UBC head coach Blake Nill addressed the consistency concerns following the game, emphasizing the need for his veterans to become leaders when things get out of hand. as they did in the first quarter.

"The big thing is that this is a team that's growing," he said. "It shows in that we're making big plays at times, but it's a youth situation, and I keep coming back to the fact that I need my veteran players to provide some leadership here."

UBC's freshman quarterback Michael O'Connor (Orleans, Ont.) completed 30 of 48 passes for 335 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk (Victoria, B.C.) also contributed a large chunk of the T-Birds' scoring, nailing all four of his field goal attempts, as well as a rouge. Tailback Brandon Deschamps (Prince George, B.C.) had a solid all-purpose day, rushing for 53 yards on eight carries, and adding three catches for 46 yards, while receiver Marshall Cook (Nanaimo, B.C.) was all over the field catching a game-high nine balls for 92 yards.

O'Connor's Saskatchewan counterpart, senior quarterback Drew Burko, went 16-for-21 for 324 yards and two scores. Running back Jarvis James also provided balance to the Saskatchewan attack, piling up 159 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Several Saskatchewan receivers had big days, with Mitch Hillis hauling in five balls for 110 yards and Juan Lynch bringing down four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Both teams will next take the field on Saturday, Oct. 3. UBC will be in Edmonton to face the Alberta Golden Bears, while Saskatchewan will battle Calgary.

(University of Saskatchewan)

The University of Alberta Golden Bears couldn’t hold off the rampaging Manitoba Bisons as the No.8 ranked and defending Canada West champion Bisons picked up a 42-32 come-from-behind victory under the Friday night lights at Foote Field.

The Bears (2-2) got touchdowns from third-year runningback Ed Ilnicki, freshman quarterback Ben Kopczynski and third-year receivers Tylor Henry and Aundrey Webster, while racking up 518 yards of offence.

Manitoba, now 2-2, stops a two-game losing streak and moves into a four-way tie for second place in the conference standings, along with Alberta, UBC and Saskatchewan. The Huskies beat UBC on Friday night as well, winning 45-29 in Vancouver.

The Bears will next be in action on October 3 when they host the UBC Thunderbirds, while Manitoba is home to Regina on October 2.

(University of Alberta)

Running back Michael Webber rushed for over 130 yards in his first career start, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Rams were buried 72-8 by No. 1 Calgary on Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium.

The Rams were within a touchdown after one quarter, but Calgary scored majors on four consecutive possessions in the second to pull away for good. The visiting Dinos led 41-0 at the half and 55-8 after three quarters on the way to their 64-point victory.

Calgary (4-0) had a fine outing from quarterback Andrew Buckley, who completed 21 of his 29 pass attempts for 478 yards and four touchdowns. Rashaun Simonise hauled in two of Buckley’s four touchdown passes, opening the scoring with a 37-yard major in the first and also scoring on a 42-yard catch-and-run in the second. Simonise finished with four catches for a game-high 106 yards.

William Maxwell needed only two plays to lead all players in all-purpose yardage. He had a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the third, and closed the scoring with a 73-yard catch on a ball delivered by backup quarterback Jimmy Underdahl. Maxwell finished with 222 all-purpose yards.

Matt Carson and Doctor Cassama both notched a sack and a pass breakup for the Dinos, with Cassama also recording a team-high nine tackles (8 solo, 2 assisted). Boston Rowe also had a sack, while Robert Woodson and Michael Schmidt added pass knockdowns and Cory Robinson had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on the same play in the fourth quarter.

Making his first career start for the Rams with Atlee Simon injured, Webber finished with 18 rushes for 135 yards and scored the team’s lone major of the game with a 21-yard rumble in the third.

Mason Rossler had an unassisted sack and combined with Michael Stefanovic on another, while Eric Wicijowski added another sack for the Rams defence. Joey Dwyer, Korey Greene, and Polis Koko all had pass breakups.

The Rams (0-4) will now prepare for a road game against Manitoba, which will enter Week 5 with a 2-2 record. The teams will kick off at Investors Group Field next Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. CDT.

(University of Regina)

Depth Charts for Sunday's Riders-Alouettes Game

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Friday, September 25, 2015

This and That

It's Friday and that means another set of thoughts running through my muddled mind and as always, they are in no particular order.

--I will make my last visit of the year to the grand old girl known as Mosaic Stadium for Saskatchewan Roughriders football on Sunday. It is the 2nd to last home game of the season and due to commitments I have with the University of Regina Rams in Calgary, I won't be at the home finale against the Eskimos. One year left! I've thought about what it will be like being at Mosaic for the last Riders home game and before you know it that time will be here. Throw the record out the window because that last game will be an extremely emotional affair for many who have been a part of the Rider Nation for years.

--It is Plaza of Honor weekend and a big congratulations goes out to the Old 96er Scott Schultz.  It is a definite achievement when you are remembered as one of the all-time greats and when it comes to players who have worn the /=S=/, he certainly is. The fact he is all-Saskatchewan makes it that much better. Many will say their best Scott Schultz moment is the 2007 Grey Cup and the picture of him holding the trophy while smoking what might have been the biggest cigar in Toronto that night, but for me, my favourite Scott Schultz memory will be him absolutely destroying Spurgeon Wynn on the last play of the half thus completely screwing up the half-time show as the little cheerleaders performance had to be altered while an ambulance came on the field to take Wynn away. Schultzie just about killed a man on national television. Congrats again Schultzie!  Congrats to Tim McCray also. Enjoy every moment of the weekend gents!

--I wonder if the Riders have ever thought about moving Plaza weekend up. Its alright where it is now, but could you generate some more excitement about the event if you had it in mid-July and perhaps make it bigger than what it is.

--I was asked this week who I would pick to be the Riders nominee for Most Outstanding Player this season. That's a great question. Who is the top defensive player? Who would your nominees be? I think the only slam dunks are Jerome Messam for top Canadian and Jeff Knox Junior for top rookie. Is Messam the M-O-P candidate as well. He just might!

--If my calculations are correct, seven of the nine teams in the CFL have now seen their starting quarterback go down to injury. Ricky Ray hasn't seen the field in Toronto, Darian Durant, Jonathan Crompton and Mike Reilly got hurt in Week 1 and it has gone downwards from there with Travis Lulay, Drew Willy, Kevin Glenn and now Zach Collaros going down. You have to wonder if Henry Burris and Bo Levi Mitchell think they are living on borrowed time. It has been a bad year for the league for many reasons and this is one of them. The league needs its marquee players in its marquee position and they haven't had that in 2015.

--Week 3 NFL Lock of the Week (2-0)  --Seahawks over Bears
  Week 3 NFL Upset of the Week (0-2) --Raiders over Browns

--Connor MacDavid had two assists in his first pre-season game against Calgary on Monday night and TSN devoted 10 minutes to his performance analyzing shift after shift after shift. Love the kid for obvious reasons, but I am going to get sick of this real quick if it continues in the regular season and you know it will. Let the kid breathe. This is just another reason why I am so glad MacDavid did not end up a Toronto Maple Leaf. The Oilers are in Saskatoon this weekend and I hope for those who bought tickets to the game that he plays. Edmonton says Jordan Eberle will be in the lineup which is nice, but MacDavid is the drawing card. It would be nice to see former Pat Braden Christoffer play as well. He has impressed Todd McLellan and company at training camp.

--The Jaromir Jagr story is just outstanding on so many levels. Sorry sweetie, you ain't gettin nothin except a whole boatload of embarassment. You don't even get a gold star!Go try blackmailing someone else! That's a great big Wisers Clap for JJ.

--While the Jagr story is outstanding, the Patrick Kane story is just getting weird. The events of this week where the evidence bag was dropped off anonymously at the door of the accuser's mother is just bizarre and now the accuser's lawyer is quitting the case.. Something happened in Kane's house that night, but we may not know for a long, long time exactly what went down if indeed we ever find out.  The question now is should the Hawks have Kane in the lineup while this plays out. If he hasn't been charged, I don't know you can't play him, but once a charge is issued if one is ever issued, he has to be taken off the ice. Charge or no charge, this will stay with Kane for the rest of his life and he has no one to blame but himself. He's not the first and he won't be the last.

--The number 1 Canadian university football team is in town Saturday afternoon as the University of Calgary Dinos take on the Regina Rams. After seeing what Calgary did to Alberta last week, I shudder to think what could happen Saturday. The Rams will need every bounce to go their way and then some. A couple of years ago the Dinos walked in here feeling quite good about themselves and the Rams came through with a huge upset thanks to a Joey Dwyer pick six. Could it happen again? Game time is 4 o'clock at Mosaic. It will also be on Access and SHAW. If you are going to the game, it should end around 7, so make your way over to the Brandt Centre for the Pats home opener! More on them in a moment!

--I think it is safe to say Josh Donaldson will be named the American League MVP, but is David Price the Cy Young award winner?  He has certainly put himself into the discussion with his play in Toronto with Houston's Dallas Keuchel and Seattle's Felix Hernandez.

--I will admit I am not the biggest Buck Martinez fan ( I still want Jamie Campbell back as the Jays p x p man), but he just seems to be morphing into the ever-annoying Hawk Harrelson with each passing game. This makes me hope we get the American calls from FOX, TBS, ESPN or the MLB Network come playoff time and that Buck is replaced by someone. Actually, they can have a Buck on the broadcast as long as his first name is Joe.

--As much as I wanted to be at Mosaic Place for Thursday's WHL opener between the Pats and Warriors, I could not get there in time so it was great to be able to watch the game on Access. There is no doubt Brandon will once again be the class of the Eastern Division. I am not sure where the Pats will finish and I am not sure where Moose Jaw will finish, but it would appear Warriors GM Alan Millar is going all out to finish 2nd with the deals he made to get former Pat Dryden Hunt and Tanner Faith. There is some talk Millar doesn't want to trade Brayden Point which has some around the league wondering if another Jordan Eberle situation is about to materialize. Time will tell, but I think Point would be a sweet addition to a club looking to play at the Memorial Cup in Red Deer and with all due respect to  the Warriors, I don't think they are in that equation. If there is a change of heart and Point does get traded, I think I speak for many in these parts when I say--DON'T SEND HIM TO BRANDON!!!

--Still with the WHL, the league's top 125 that they released this week is a great flashback. The top 10 players this league has seen over the last 50 years will bring tremendous debate. If Joe Sakic, Theoren Fleury and Wendel Clark aren't in the top 5, I'll be shocked. I don't know when the first goalie on the list will pop up, but the first one on my list would be Mike Vernon. The former Calgary Wrangler was the best junior tender I have ever seen and Ken Wregget and Grant Fuhr wouldn't be far behind.  10 Pats made the list and I can't argue with any of the names on there as all of them are great, but I would have taken Derek Morris ahead of Brad Stuart. I was disappointed not to see Josh Harding's name up there as he was the best goalie I have seen in a Pats uniform, I guess I did see Ed Staniowski play along with Clark Gillies, Greg Joly and Dennis Sobchuk, but I was only 7!!!!

--While on the topic of Fleury, I found it a little surprising he wasn't a part of the opening night game with the Warriors choosing instead to be represented by Ryan Smyth. Theo is the greatest player in the history of the Warriors is he not? Smyth would certainly be number two on that list, but I thought it would be a given that Fleury would be a part of the WHL's big night.

--A movie is being made in our fair city right now called "Chokeslam", It is a movie that has a wrestling motif to it, but it isn't a wrestling movie. Apparently, some of the filming is happening at Exhibition Auditorium which is where I was a fixture during the 80's when Stampede Wrestling was on as I would watch the likes of Bret Hart, the Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, the Honky Tonk Man and others, That was wrestling at its best and I so wish High Impact Wrestling could get to that level. The fact they are in the auditorium made me want to go out to be an extra, but my schedule wouldn't allow it. I think it would be so cool to see the stars of High Impact go back to the Auditorium for one more night. We might be in amongst the rats and god knows what else, but it would be a night to remember.

--I've gone on long enough. Have a great weekend! GO RIDERS!! GO SEAHAWKS!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WHL Eastern Conference Preview

East Division

Brandon Wheat Kings
General Manager/Head Coach: Kelly McCrimmon
2015 Pre-Season: 4 GP, 3-0-1-0
2014-15 Record: 53-11-4-4, 114pts (1st in East Division) GF: 340  GA: 219
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 25.7% (2nd); PK: 77.1% (17th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in four games to Kelowna Rockets in 2015 WHL Championship Series
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Tim McGauley                   72gp-42g-63a-105pts
Morgan Klimchuk             60gp-34g-46a-80pts
Peter Quenneville             72gp-27g-48a-75pts       

The Brandon Wheat Kings took a big step forward last season as they claimed the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s top Club in the regular season. The Wheat Kings also advanced to the 2015 WHL Championship Series for the first time since 2005 before falling to the Kelowna Rockets. With a collection of young, high-end talent, the Wheat Kings own a deep roster and will be eyeing not only a return to the WHL Championship Series, but claiming the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Up front, the Wheat Kings return several key forwards from what was the highest scoring offence in the WHL last season. Tim McGauley, Rihards Bukarts and Jayce Hawryluk lead a dangerous attack while sophomore Nolan Patrick could also be a difference-maker in the Wheat Kings’ offence. Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Ivan Provorov will lead a defensive group that allowed the third-fewest goals against in the Eastern Conference last season. Provorov capped an impressive rookie campaign with 61 points (15g-46a) which led all first-year players and ranked fourth amongst WHL defencemen. Veteran defencemen Macoy Erkamps and Colton Waltz look to solidify a well-rounded blue line both offensively and defensively. Jordan Papirny will return as the starting netminder after leading all goaltenders with 44 wins in 59 games last season and further impressed in the post-season, picking up 12 victories.

Player to Watch:  Stelio Mattheos

A 16-year-old from Winnipeg, MB, Mattheos enjoyed a successful season with the Winnipeg Wild Midget AAA squad in Manitoba Minor Hockey League. The first overall selection in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft scored 14 goals and 25 points in 27 games as a 15-year-old.  A big-bodied center who can skate, play physical and generate offence, expect Mattheos to make an immediate impact on the Wheat Kings and be a significant contributor to the Club on both ends of the ice.

Moose Jaw Warriors
General Manager: Alan Millar
Head Coach: Tim Hunter
2015 Pre-Season: 7 GP, 3-3-0-1
2014-15 Record: 32-35-4-1, 69pts (4th in East Division) GF: 221  GA: 266
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 15.7% (20th); PK: 76.7% (19th)
2015 Playoffs: Did not qualify
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Brayden Point                    60gp-38g-49a-87pts
Jack Rodewald                  71gp-35g-50a-85pts
Axel Blomqvist                  61gp-25g-34a-59pts

The Moose Jaw Warriors head into the 2015-16 season looking to end a three-year playoff absence.  Up front, forward Brayden Point could carry much of the offensive load if he is returned from the Tampa Bay Lightning where he is currently impressing. The 19-year-old Lightning prospect recorded another strong campaign with 87 points last season which tied him for eighth overall in point scoring amongst all WHL skaters. While Jack Rodewald and Tanner Eberle will be missed, Brett Howden looks to fill the scoring void along with veteran Torrin White. Recently-acquired Dryden Hunt also provides another option. Defensively, the Warriors aim to improve on their 19th ranked defence last season. Dustin Perillat led all Warriors defencemen with 28 points (8g-20a) in 53 games and will likely need to be a contributor on the power play that ranked 20th overall last season. The second-year defenceman will be joined alongside veterans Dallas Valentine and Tyler Brown who each bring size and experience to the Warriors’ back end. Now-veteran goaltender Zach Sawchenko should take full control of the reins for the Warriors after appearing in 49 games last season and posting 21 wins.

Player to Watch:  Brett Howden

The 17-year-old forward from Oakbank, MB, enters his second full season in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors after posting 22 goals and 46 points in 68 games as a rookie last season. Howden’s impressive rookie campaign landed him a spot on the 2015-16 NHL Central Scouting Futures List. Howden was drafted by the Warriors fifth overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Howden played for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in 2015 and helped guide Canada to a gold medal. Howden also suited up for Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World U18 Championships and won a bronze medal. Expect Howden to be a difference-maker for the Warriors when called upon this season.


Prince Albert Raiders
General Manager: Curtis Hunt
Head Coach: Marc Habscheid
2015 Pre-Season: 6 GP, 2-4-0-0
2014-15 Record: 31-37-2-2, 66pts (5th in East Division) GF: 215  GA: 257
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 20.1% (14th); PK: 77.9% (16th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Did not qualify
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Reid Gardiner                    67gp-34g-30a-64pts
Craig Leverton                  70gp-20g-33a-53pts
Jayden Hart                        59gp-22g-27a-49pts

After making two consecutive playoff appearances in 2013 and 2014, the Raiders did not qualify in 2015 despite winning seven of their final 10 games to close out the regular season. It is a new era in Prince Albert with Curtis Hunt entering his first season as the Raiders’ General Manager and Marc Habscheid beginning his first full season as Head Coach. The Raiders are retooling after trading key veterans such as Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey midway through last season. The team does boast promising young talent to step up and help the Raiders take the next step. Reid Gardiner led the Club in scoring with 34 goals and 64 points while Buffalo Sabres prospect Brendan Guhle finished second amongst Raiders defencemen in scoring with 32 points in 72 games played. It will be up to veterans Simon Stransky and Jordan Tkatch to take on important offensive roles for a squad that finished 17th in goal scoring last season. Acquired from the Kelowna Rockets via trade last season, Jesse Lees looks to lead a young group of Raiders defencemen to the next level and compete for a playoff spot in the competitive Eastern Conference. 18-year-old Nick McBride played in 37 games as a sophomore last season, posting 13 wins and two shutouts. The 2015 Scholastic Player of the Year could split playing time with Rylan Paranteau who notched 18 wins for the Raiders last season.

Player to Watch: Simon Stransky

Stransky, a 17-year-old from Ostrava, Czech Republic, enters his second season in the WHL and is looking to be an impact player for the Raiders. The 6-0, 169 lb forward played in 70 games last season and registered 42 points (12-30a) after being selected 24th overall by the Raiders in the 2014 CHL Import Draft.  Stransky was named to the 2015-16 NHL Central Scouting Futures List and has plenty of international experience including capturing a silver medal for the Czech Republic at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial. Stransky will likely see a major role for the Raiders this season. 


Regina Pats
General Manager/Head Coach: John Paddock
2015 pre-season: 7 GP, 1-6-0-0
2014-15 Record: 37-24-5-6, 85pts (2nd in East Div.) GF: 263  GA: 258
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 15.3% (21st); PK: 80.3% (9th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in five games to Brandon in Round Two
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Adam Brooks                     64gp-30g-32a-62pts
Taylor Cooper                   65gp-25g-35a-60pts
Braden Christoffer           72gp-26g-33a-59pts

General Manager and Head Coach John Paddock guided the Regina Pats to a second place finish in the East Division and a trip to the 2015 WHL Playoffs. The Pats will look to reach to the next level with their young core including Adam Brooks and Sam Steel. Gone are top-scoring veterans Braeden Christoffer, Patrick D’Amico and Pavel Padakin parting the primary offensive responsibilities to dynamic young players such as Steel and L.A. Kings prospect Austin Wagner. The defensive unit is solid with veterans Colby Williams and Sergei Zborovskiy leading the unit. Along with Connor Hobbs, the Pats are full of strong two-way defenders who are capable of putting up points and keeping the pace of play steady in their own defensive zone. Daniel Wapple looks to be back as the starting goaltender for the Pats after playing in a career-high 56 games last season, posting 29 wins and a .906 save percentage.

Player to Watch: Sam Steel

The second overall pick from the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft came into his first season in the WHL last year and made a substantial contribution to the Regina Pats.  The 17-year-old from Sherwood Park, AB, put up 17 goals and 54 points along with a plus-10 rating in 61 games. Steel also appeared in all five playoff games for the Pats in the 2015 WHL Playoffs. A great skater with elite-level offensive skill and instincts, Steel has the talent and ability to elevate his game and continue to provide an immediate impact in the Pats’ lineup.


Saskatoon Blades
General Manager/Head Coach: Bob Woods
2015 Pre-Season: 5 GP, 4-0-1-0
2014-15 Record: 19-49-2-2, 42pts (6th in East Division) GF: 195  GA: 308
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 21.7% (9th); PK: 75.3% (21st)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Did not qualify
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Brett Stovin                        72gp-29g-21a-50pts
Same McKechnie              69gp-22g-21a-43pts
Cameron Hebig                 72gp-18g-22a-40pts

The Saskatoon Blades endured a difficult season last year and hope the rebuild is complete. The Blades have stocked up on young players who will look to further improve the Club’s standing in the East Division after finishing last year with 19 wins. Cameron Hebig and Ryan Graham are amongst a squad looking to display their skill set and take the Club to the next level. 18-year-old Wyatt Sloboshan and 20-year-old Nick Zajac will also be tasked with providing offence for the Blades who struggled in goal scoring last season. On the blue line Brycen Martin, who was acquired from the Swift Current Broncos midway through the 2014-15 campaign, will lead a young defensive unit that is eyeing improvement. The Blades have an abundance of goaltenders including Brock Hamm, Nik Amundrud and rookie Dorrin Luding who all saw action in the pre-season and are competing for the starting job in the Blades’ cage. Amundrud led all Blades goalies in games played last season with 33 appearances and several highlight-reel stops.

Player to Watch: Nikita Soshnin

An 18-year-old from Lipetsk, Russia, Soshnin enters his second season in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades and is looking to contribute much more on the offensive end. The 5-10, 163 lb forward was chosen ninth overall by the Blades in the 2014 CHL Import Draft and collected 27 points (10g-17a) in 70 games last season. Soshnin will be relied on to help the Blades improve in many offensive categories and provide a steady presence for a young team entering the 2015-16 campaign.

Swift Current Broncos
General Manager / Head Coach: Mark Lamb
2015 Pre-Season: 6 GP, 1-4-1-0
2014-15 Record: 34-33-1-4, 73pts (3rd in East Division) GF: 221 GA: 245
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing ranking: PP: 21.9% (7th); PK: 81.2% (8th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in four games to Regina in Round 1
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Jake DeBrusk      72gp-43g-39a-81pts
Colby Cave          72gp-35g-40a-75pts
Coda Gordon      62gp-25g-36a-61pts

The Swift Current Broncos have many key players returning to a Club who finished third in the East Division last season and qualified for a playoff spot before losing to the Regina Pats in Round 1 of the 2015 WHL Playoffs. 18-year-old veteran Jake DeBrusk could return from the Boston Bruins’ camp to head up what should be a productive unit. The Bruins prospect was tied for sixth in goal scoring last season with 42 while veteran forward Glenn Gawdin had a productive season scoring 15 goals and 54 points. The Broncos added offensive depth up the middle with the acquisition of centre Scott Feser from the Red Deer Rebels in the off-season. The Broncos also return a strong defence corps, led by veterans Max Lajoie and Jordan Thomson. 20-year-old Landon Bow may return to the Broncos after playing in 66 games last season, picking up 31 wins along the way and seven shutouts, which was tied for first amongst WHL goaltenders. Travis Child is slotted into a back-up role but can push Bow for more starts after getting into action 22 times last season.

Player to Watch: Maxime Lajoie

Lajoie enjoyed a consistent campaign with the Broncos as a rookie last season, netting seven goals and 40 points while playing in all 72 games. Lajoie also contributed three points (1g-2a) in four playoff games for the Broncos. The 6-1, 185 lb rearguard was selected 95th overall by the Broncos in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft and boasts strong offensive skills from the blue line. Lajoie has already drawn the attention of NHL scouts and landed a spot on the 2015-16 NHL Central Scouting Futures List for players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. Lajoie is expected to take a large role for the Broncos’ defensive unit and will likely see plenty of minutes on the power play.

Central Division

Calgary Hitmen
General Manager: Mike Moore
Head Coach: Mark French
2015 Pre-Season: 7 GP, 7-0-0-0
2014-15 Record: 45-22-1-4, 95pts (1st in Central Division) GF: 289  GA: 203
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 21.7% (8th); PK: 82.6% (3rd)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in five games to Brandon in Eastern Conference Championship Series
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Adam Tambellini               71gp-47g-39a-86pts
Connor Rankin                  72gp-32g-47a-79pts
Travis Sanheim                  67gp-15g-50a-65pts

The Calgary Hitmen enjoyed a terrific 2014-15 regular season and took significant strides by reaching the Eastern Conference Championship Series before being eliminated by the Brandon Wheat Kings. Head Coach Mark French guided the Club to a Central Division crown and enters his second season behind the Hitmen bench with a roster poised to compete among the elite Clubs in the WHL. Veterans Jake Virtanen and Chase Lang should lead a strong offence that also includes Calgary Flames prospect Pavel Karnaukhov in the mix, if returned from NHL camps. The Hitmen scored 289 goals last season, good enough for third-best in the WHL. With talents like Mike Winther, Radel Fazleev, and Elliott Peterson also in the mix, the Hitmen have plenty of offensive options. The Hitmen boast a deep defensive unit that includes the possible return of team captain Travis Sanheim and rookie standout Jake Bean. Sanheim led all WHL defencemen in scoring last season with 65 points (15g-50a) and also notched 18 points (5g-13a) in 17 post-season contests.  A deep defensive unit will get deeper with the return of Ben Thomas and possibly 20-year-old Flames prospect Keegan Kanzig. Goaltending looks to be the job of Brendan Burke, but Kyle Dumba is another goaltending prospect that boasts the bloodlines for success.

Player to Watch: Jake Bean

A 17-year-old product of Calgary, AB, Bean appeared in 51 games for the Calgary Hitmen and made the most of them. Bean was productive on both sides of the ice as he collected 39 points (5g-34a) to go along with a plus-20 rating.  The 6-1 182 lb two-way defender established himself as an impact player as the season went on and drew the attention of NHL scouts. Bean was listed in the 2015-16 NHL Central Scouting Future’s List and is eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. Bean has the qualities to continue to develop his presence in the WHL and will play a big role with the Hitmen in 2015-16. 

Edmonton Oil Kings
General Manager: Randy Hansch
Head Coach: Steve Hamilton
2015 pre-season: 5 GP, 2-3-0-0
2014-15 Record: 34-31-4-3, 75pts (5th in Central Division) GF: 217  GA: 204
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 18.5% (17th); PK: 84.8% (1st)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in five games to Brandon in Round 1
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Brett Pollock                      70gp-32g-30a-62pts
Lane Bauer                         71gp-25g-30a-55pts
Dysin Mayo                        72gp-14g-37a-51pts
Ashton Sautner                 72gp-12g-39a-51pts

The Edmonton Oil Kings’ streak of three consecutive WHL Championship appearances ended last season with a first round exit to the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Oil Kings are striving towards an improvement after capturing the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2012 and 2014. Brett Pollock and Lane Bauer will lead the offence after strong 2014-15 seasons in which they recorded 62 points (32g-30a) and 55 points (25g-30a) respectively. Brandon Baddock, if he returns, and Andrew Koep will provide depth for the Oil Kings and will likely need to be relied on if the Oil Kings want to reach the next level. The graduation of Ashton Sautner certainly leaves a big hole to fill when it comes to the Oil Kings’ backend. However, the Oil Kings have a strong defensive unit that may include the return of Arizona Coyotes’ prospect Dysin Mayo and veteran Ben Carroll. This is also a defensive unit that posted the League’s best penalty kill efficiency last season, converting at an 84.8% rate. With the graduation of long-time goaltender Tristan Jarry, the starting goaltending job is up for grabs as Patrick Dea and rookies Alec Dillon and Carter Phair look to take the reins.

Player to Watch: Brett Pollock

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, AB, Pollock led all skaters for the Oil Kings in point production with 62 points (32g-30a) which marks a point increase every season since he first entered the League in 2012. The Dallas Stars prospect will be expected to carry an even larger offensive workload this season in Edmonton with the departure of Edgars Kulda. Pollock was chosen by the Dallas Stars in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft.


Kootenay Ice
General Manager: Jeff Chynoweth
Head Coach: Luke Pierce
2015 Pre-Season: 6 GP, 2-3-1-0
2014-15 Record: 37-31-1-3, 78pts (4th in Central Division) GF: 245  GA: 248
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 19.9% (15th); PK: 81.8% (6th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in seven games to Calgary in Round 1
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Luke Philp                           71gp-30g-52a-82pts
Jaedon Descheneau         70gp-34g-47a-81pts
Sam Reinhart                     47gp-19g-46a-65pts

The Kootenay ICE are coming off a 2014-15 campaign that saw them finish above .500 for a WHL-record 16th consecutive year.  This success was largely due to the dominant performances of Luke Philp, Jaedon Descheneau and Sam Reinhart. The trio combined to score 83 goals and 228 points en route to a playoff berth for the 17th consecutive season. With Reinhart likely not returning to the ICE, some of the young forwards will need to make strides to make up for Reinhart’s production. WHL graduates Tim Bozun and Levi Cable are also not returning to the ICE for the 2015-16 season which indicates that Descheneau and Philp will be relied on heavily to produce offence. The ICE will look to Zak Zborosky and Matt Alfaro to fill the scoring void. Defensively, Tyler King will be counted on to log big minutes for the ICE while third-year defenceman Troy Murray will likely see a larger role on the back end. 20-year-old Wyatt Hoflin may be back as the starting goaltender for the ICE after leading all WHL goaltenders in games played last season with 67. Hoflin has posted 47 wins and a 3.15 GAA in 110 career appearances with the ICE.

Player to Watch: Luke Philp

A 20-year-old from Canmore, AB, Philp will be relied on heavily this season to provide leadership and scoring. Over his career, Philp has steadily improved and now boasts 206 points (82g-124a) over 225 games. One player that will be looking to follow in Luke’s footsteps is his brother, Noah. The younger Philp enters his rookie season in the WHL this year after spending last year in Junior ‘A.’


Lethbridge Hurricanes
General Manager: Peter Anholt
Head Coach: Brent Kisio
2015 Pre-Season: 6 GP, 3-2-1-0
2014-15 Record: 20-44-5-3, 48pts (6th in Central Division) GF: 202  GA: 304
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 15.2% (22nd); PK: 78.3% (14th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Did not qualify
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Tyler Wong                        64gp-27g-29a-56pts
Jamal Watson                   66gp-26g-28a-54pts
Giorgio Estephan              64gp-23g-28a-51pts

The Lethbridge Hurricanes enter a new era after going through a difficult stretch. General Manager Peter Anholt and new Head Coach Brent Kisio begin their first full season with the Hurricanes and are looking to steer the team in a positive direction. Up front, the ‘Canes look to improve on their offence that ranked 19th and power play which finished last in overall efficiency last season. Veterans Tyler Wong and Giorgio Estephan are back and are looking to pace the attack. The Hurricanes have several young players who will likely compete for both spots and playing time throughout the course of the season.  Rookie forwards Zane Franklin and Brett Davis are amongst several young prospects looking to make an impact for the Hurricanes. Defensively, the Hurricanes gave up the second most goals against in the WHL last season and will have plenty of new faces on the back end. The Hurricanes acquired long-time Vancouver Giants defenceman Arvin Atwal over the off-season via trade to help stabilize the defensive unit. In the net, 17-year-old Stuart Skinner and 19-year-old Jayden Sittler should start the year as the Hurricanes’ goaltending tandem. The pair combined for 19 wins last season in 63 games played between the two of them.

Player to Watch: Jordy Bellerive

The second overall selection from the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft enters his first season in the WHL looking to help turnaround the Hurricanes’ fortunes. A 16-year-old from North Vancouver, BC, Bellerive enjoyed a productive campaign with Okanagan Hockey Academy of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) last year.  The 5-9, 175 lb centre put up 34 goals and 49 points in 27 games. Bellerive is an offensively skilled forward who has the opportunity to establish himself as a scoring threat for the Hurricanes. Bellerive is a player who the Hurricanes will count on to put the puck in the net and help the team back into the playoffs. 


Medicine Hat Tigers
General Manager / Head Coach: Shaun Clouston
2015 Pre-Season: 5 GP, 4-1-0-0
2014-15 Record: 45-23-2-2, 94pts (2nd in Central Division) GF: 268  GA: 213
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 20.9% (11th); PK: 81.3% (7th)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in five games to Calgary in Round 2
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Trevor Cox                         69gp-29g-80a-109pts
Cole Sanford                      72gp-50g-45a-95pts
Dryden Hunt                      71gp-33g-50a-83pts

The Tigers come into the 50th Season with many key players returning to the fold and are poised for another playoff run. Medicine Hat ranked second in the Central Division after being narrowly edged by the Calgary Hitmen at season’s end and were also defeated by Calgary in Round 2 of the 2015 WHL Playoffs. Up front, overagers Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford could once again in line for major offensive roles. Combined with recently-departed Dryden Hunt last year, the line posted 112 goals and 287 points which helped the Tigers finish fifth overall in goal scoring last season. Veterans Steve Owre, and Chad Butcher are a couple other names expected to round out the Tigers attack.  Ty Schultz and Ty Stanton should provide depth for the Tigers to help offset the graduation of Tyler Lewington and Kyle Becker.  Sophomore David Quenneville should be ready for a major workload on the Tigers’ defensive unit after having success at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial winning a gold medal. With the graduation of veteran netminder Marek Langhamer, the starting role is up for grabs. Nick Schneider suited up in 27 games for the Tigers last season and earned 15 wins. The Tigers brought in former Portland Winterhawks goaltender Evan Johnson to join Nick Schneider in the goaltending tandem.  Johnson has 19 games of WHL experience combined with the Winterhawks and the Calgary Hitmen, posting six wins along the way. 

Player to Watch: Cole Sanford

A 19-year-old product of Vernon, B.C., Sanford enters his fourth WHL season and is expected to have a productive season offensively. Sanford was one of two skaters to score 50 goals in the 2014-15 regular season and his 95 points were fourth-best amongst all skaters. Sanford’s 50 goals marked a 17-goal improvement from the previous season and he has become one of the League’s biggest offensive threats. After a successful campaign last year, expect Sanford to be amongst the leaders in several offensive categories in the WHL this season.

Red Deer Rebels
General Manager / Head Coach: Brent Sutter
2015 Pre-Season: 5 GP, 3-2-0-0
2014-15 Record: 38-23-5-6, 87pts (3rd in Central Division) GF: 240  GA: 227
2014-15 Power Play / Penalty Killing Ranking: PP: 20.2% (13th); PK: 83.7% (2nd)
2015 WHL Playoffs: Lost in five games to Medicine Hat in Round 1
2014-15 Top Scorers:
Riley Sheen                        71gp-24g-47a-71pts
Connor Gay                        71gp-23g-38a-61pts
Brooks Maxwell                71gp-27g-32a-59pts

The Red Deer Rebels returned to the post-season in 2015 after a one-year absence, but were eliminated in Round 1 by the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Red Deer Rebels will host the 98th edition of the MasterCard Memorial Cup this season and look to take the next steps in becoming a contender. This year, the Rebels could return many of their key players including team captain Conner Bleackley. A native of High River, AB, Bleackley scored 27 goals and 49 points in 51 games to go along with a plus-13 rating. Adam Musil and Wyatt Johnson provide a scoring punch for the Rebels while newly-acquired forward Lane Pederson provides depth up front for the Rebels. Red Deer posted the league’s second-best penalty kill last year and a big factor in that success was due to the Rebels’ strong defence corps. 19-year-old Hayden Fleury leads a strong core that also features veteran standout Kayle Doetzel. Rylan Toth looks poised to be the starting goaltender for the Rebels this season while Trevor Martin and Dawson Weatherhill will push for a spot. The biggest threat on the Rebels, though, may come via trade as the Club builds for a national championship.

Player to Watch: Jeff de Wit

17-year-old power forward Jeff de Wit comes into his second season in the WHL and is looking to play a big role up front for the Rebels.  A big-bodied skater, de Wit notched 13 points (3g-10a) in limited action for the Rebels last season. The native of Red Deer, AB, was named to the 2015-16 NHL Central Scouting Future’s List and will have plenty of opportunities to help guide the Rebels to a deep run both the post-season and at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup.