Thursday, December 31, 2015

Canada Drops Last Game of Group Play At WJHC to Sweden

While Thursday’s game against Sweden meant nothing for Canada as far as the standings went, it was a chance for the Canadian squad to get on track and start to piece things together heading into the quarterfinal. Instead, penalties and special teams caught up and Canada dropped their second round robin game of the competition.

It didn’t take long for special teams to play a role in Thursday’s game as Canada’s Jake Virtanen was whistled for roughing little more than four minutes into the game. It would take Sweden 17 seconds to strike on the power play as Alexander Nylander found the back of the net. Two minutes after going down 1-0, the Canadians were again shorthanded — this time down both Rourke Chartier and Anthony Beauvillier — when Gustav Forsling made it 2-0 Sweden.

Before the period was out, Canada got on the board thanks to a Mitchell Stephens goal that came off of a rebound kicked out by Swedish netminder Linus Soderstrom.

The second frame was more of the same story for Canada, however. The Canadians took three minor penalties in the second period, and Adrian Kempe, who assisted on Sweden’s second power play goal, blasted a one-timer past Canadian netminder Mackenzie Blackwood.

Sweden’s Anton Karlsson added an even-strength goal seven minutes into the third period, but Canada made the score 4-2 thanks to a Mitch Marner blast on a 5-on-3 power play. They would never get closer, though, as Rasmus Asplund iced the game with an empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining.

With the victory, Sweden finished the round robin with four regulation wins and all 12 possible points. Sweden now heads to a quarterfinal matchup with Slovakia, which was able to only muster one win — against the potentially relegated Belarusians — in the round robin.

Canada’s path to a potential medal will be much more difficult, however. Their quarterfinal game Saturday will pit them against the host Finns, who finished second in Group B with three wins and one loss. No team was higher scoring than Finland, which netted 23 goals in four games.

My Top 10 of 2015

The top 10 sporting moments for this blogger considering both national and local events.


Since Mosaic Place opened, it has been host to many events, but the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was perhaps its biggest ever. Could Mosaic Place and the city of Moose Jaw host a successful event. The answer was a resounding yes!! I had the pleasure of hosting the Sportscage from Mosaic Place all week and it was a blast as people like Jennifer Jones and Vic Rauter dropped by.

In the end,  Jones and her Winnipeg rink regained her crown as the queen of womens curling in Canada winning the final, but the real winner was Moose Jaw who showed Canada they are capable of hosting what they want to host with a venue that is more than ready to once again showcase itself as one.


It has not been the best of times for the Regina Pats. A new ownership group came in prior to the start of the 2014-15 season as Anthony Marquart and his Queen City Sports and Entertainment consortium bought the club from the Parker family. The team took forever to hire a new head coach, but just before training camp, it was announced John Paddock would be the man in charge. It took a while for the Regina hockey community to get behind what was a very entertaining product for whatever reason, but when they did, they liked what they saw. The trade deadline saw the Pats get busy as they dealt away several players like star Morgan Klimchuk, but the trades didn't see the teams fortunes sink. Players like Jesse Gabrielle, Connor Hobbs fit right in while players like Austin Wagner, Colby Williams and Adam Brooks showed rapid improvement under Paddock. The team went to the playoffs where a first round matchup against Swift Current awaited them. Regina had not been to the 2nd round of the WHL playoffs since the 2006-2007 season, but on April 1, they went into Swift Current and beat the Broncos 4-0 to record a first round sweep and a trip to Round 2 where they were quickly dispatched by Brandon. This year's team is hovering around the 500 mark and whether or not a playoff appearance happens can't be determined, but with players like Sam Steel, Leschyshyn, Adam Brooks, Jordan Hollett and Liam Schioler around it is safe to say the future looks good (as do their new unis).


When the Regina Rams took to the Mosaic Stadium turf on September 4 against the University of Alberta Golden Bears to start the 2015 Canada West football campaign, there was a new look to them. After many years on the sidelines during their junior and university days, Frank McCrystal was no longer holding the clipboard as former CFL assistant coach Mike Gibson had been chosen to take over. On October 30, Gibson walked off the field following a loss to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies still searching for his first win as a CIS head coach. Regina had their chances to win a couple of games including the last one to the Huskies, but a very porous defence led to their downfall. There were some bright spots with the brightest one perhaps being running back Atlee Simon who led the conference in rushing with 938 yards. The Gibson era did not start well, and there is a lot of concern about the future of the football team moving forward with many Regina high schoolers opting to play elsewhere or for the junior Thunder, but it is thought year 2 will see Gibson join McCrystal as Rams head coaches who have had a victory at the CIS level.


Being a Seahawks fan, I must admit it didn't look good as the Seahawks trailed the Green Bay Packers 16-0 with time ticking down in the 3rd quarter. It was then that Regina's Jon Ryan came through with the play that started to turn around what was a bizarre NFC Championship game. His touchdown toss got Seattle on the board and on their way to what was a devastating loss (more on that if you scroll down) two weeks later.


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It was met with angst around the NHL, especially in Buffalo where the Sabres tanked the season in an attempt to land the most coveted junior hockey player since Sidney Crosby, but in the end, the hockey gods smiled on Edmonton on the night of the draft lottery. There was shock and disbelief when NHL Deputy Commissioner announced Connor McDavid was going to Edmonton who had landed yet another number one overall pick. Whether or not his arrival had something to do with it, the Oilers then went and cleaned house getting Peter Chiarelli as GM and Melville's Todd McLellan as head coach. The Oilers go into the start of 2016 actually close to a playoff spot and McDavid is ready to return from a broken collarbone that has sidelined his rookie season.  This long-time Oilers fan could not have been any happier when the ping-pong balls fell Edmonton's way.


2015 will not go down in the record books as a good year for the CFL. Where do you start? Starting quarterbacks went down week after week after week, refereeing continued to be scrutinized at a level never before seen, penalty flags had fans gnashing their teeth and TV ratings along with attendance at the games took a dip. The league did its best to make excuses saying the run of the Blue Jays and the womens World Cup had a part to play in it as did the fact the Toronto Argonauts were playing everywhere except home because of the Blue Jays. It came to a head during Grey Cup week in Winnipeg when a "new" logo was revealed that drew the ire of many across the land. While the run of the Ottawa REDBLACKS was a great story for the league, there were far more negatives than positives in 2015.


August 23 was a day many in Saskatchewan had been waiting for. Ever since the province of Saskatchewan organized a commission in March to sanction professional mixed martial arts cards, it was just a matter of time until the UFC came to the prairies.  UFC Fight Night 84 did not maybe have any marquee attractions, but there was a solid turnout at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon for the first ever card with the main event being Max Holloway against Charles Oliviera. That bout ended before it started because of a freak injury to Oliviera, but those in attendance were pretty happy with what they saw. I have no idea when the UFC will be back in Saskatchewan, and I am guessing it will be in places like Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton before it returns to the wheat province, but that night was one many UFC fans in Saskatchewan relished in. 


I am a Blue Jays fan, but when it comes right down to it, I bleed Cubbie blue. While the Jays run was outstanding, it paled in comparison to what was happening at Wrigley Field for this blogger.  It was a great day when Joe Maddon signed on to become the team's manager as he had a very young group to work with. When the season started, I thought a 500 season would be OK with 2016 being the season to make noise. The season to make noise was apparently 2015. Led by the likes of National League Rookie of the year Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the suddenly dominant Jake Arrieta, the Cubs had the 3rd best record in the National League and after disposing of Pittsburgh in the Wild-Card game and St. Louis in the National League Divisional Series, they fell to the Mets in the National League Championship Series. It was disappointing not to see the Cubs in the World Series, but I never expected them to be close this year. Is next year the year? Time will tell.


Super Bowl 49. A game said by those who watch the NFL Network to be the greatest game ever played. For those who aren't fans of the Seattle Seahawks, it probably was. As a Seahawks fan since their inception in the mid 70's, there was happiness and elation when the team captured their first Super Bowl beating Denver in Super Bowl 48 and the chance was there to repeat as going into the 4th quarter, they had a 24-14 lead. It was then that Tom Brady became Tom Brady and well, you know the rest. Brady threw touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman giving the Patriots the lead. Seattle got the ball with just over two minutes to play, but it looked like New England would win yet another Super Bowl until Jermaine Kearse made an improbable catch which ended up with Seattle at the ball at the one in the closing seconds. With the ball at the  one yard line and arguably the best running back in the NFL in the backfield, the Seahawks decided to throw instead of give the ball to Marshawn Lynch leading to this which made Malcolm Butler a household name. 

13 men on the field in 2009, Steve Bartman in 2003 and now this.  It was a loss that didn't go away for a long time much like the other ones. The call is still being debated and in truth, there is no way in knowing whether or not Lynch would have gotten in. Chances are he would have though and Seattle would have been a two-time champ. 


A storm blew through Mosaic Stadium just moments before the first exhibition game of the year against Calgary. Little did we know how symbolic that was as it was a dark, stormy season in Riderville as you all know. It started with the season-ending injury to Darian Durant and continued from there. With the team still in search of first win going into the Labour Day Classic, GM Brendan Taman and Head Coach Corey Chamblin were told their services were no longer needed. Jeremy O'Day and Bob Dyce took over in the second half with the team getting three wins to finish the season at a CFL worst 3-15. As you all know, new president and CEO Craig Reynolds then tipped the CFL foundation over by hiring Eskimos head coach Chris Jones as head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations. It will be his job to bring the Riders back to respectability and then some as the last season of football at Mosaic is to be played with the new stadium just about ready to move into. 

There ya go. My top 10! I'm sure your list would differ somewhat and that's cool! 

Have a great 2016! 

Monday, December 28, 2015

NHL Three Stars of Week

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 Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau, Dallas Stars goaltender Antti Niemi and Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 27.

            Gaudreau led the NHL with five goals in two games to help the Flames (17-16-2, 36 points) set a franchise record with their 11th consecutive victory on home ice. He opened the week with his third career hat trick – and second of the month (also Dec. 4 vs. BOS: 3-1—4) – in a 4-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Dec. 22. Gaudreau then scored twice, including the game-winning goal, in a 5-3 comeback victory over the Edmonton Oilers Dec. 27. The 22-year-old Salem, N.J., native paces the Flames and shares sixth in the NHL in both goals (17) and points (39) in 35 appearances this season. His five game-winning goals are one shy of the League lead (Joe Pavelski: 6).

            Niemi went 2-0-1 with a 1.02 goals-against average, .966 save percentage and one shutout to lift the Stars (27-7-3, 57 points) back into first place in the League standings. He turned aside 30 of 31 shots in relief of Kari Lehtonen in a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild Dec. 21. Niemi then made 20 saves for his 35th career shutout (third this season) in a 4-0 victory over his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, Dec. 22. He closed the week with 35 saves, plus another four in the shootout, in a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues Dec. 26. The 32-year-old Vantaa, Finland, native boasts a 15-5-3 record (2.28 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO) in 24 outings this season, his first with the Stars.

            Bozak ranked second in the NHL in both goals (4) and points (tied-5) to power the Maple Leafs (13-14-7, 33 points) to two victories in three starts. He recorded his second career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in a 7-4 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche Dec. 21. Bozak then collected one assist in a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes Dec. 22 before closing the week with one goal in a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders Dec. 27. The 29-year-old Regina, Sask., native shares second on the Maple Leafs with 9-15—24 in 30 games this season, including 5-5—10 in his last eight outings.

(NHL Media)

Familiar Name to Manage Regina Red Sox in 2016

The Regina Red Sox will go into the 2016 WMBL season with a new manager.

The 2015 runner-up will go with Regina native and former Red Sox player Mitch McDonald to lead them through the season after being the assistant coach for the last two seasons.

MacDonald played with the Red Sox in 2006 and again from 2009-2012.  His Red Sox resume is quite impressive as he was the first player to win the WMBL Triple Crown and is a two-time league champion. During his last three years as a player he also served as the Red Sox hitting coach.
“I’m excited and humbled by the opportunity and responsibility given to me by Bernie, Gary and the Red Sox board of directors,” said MacDonald. “I’ve been part of the Red Sox organization in some capacity since I was 18 and I’ve enjoyed it every step of the way.”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Canada loses opener at World Juniors

Goals by Louis Belpedio and Auston Matthews in a 41-second span late in the third period to give the United States a 4-2 victory over Canada 4-2 in the first round-robin game for both at the world junior hockey championship.

Belpedio, a defenceman from Miami of Ohio, broke a tie with 3:18 left with Matthews, the projected number one pick in the 2016 draft, completing the scoring with 2:37 to go. He plays for

Matt Barzal and Dylan Strome scored for defending champion Canada, and Mason McDonald made 21 saves.

In the other Group A game, Dmytro Timashov had two goals and an assist in Sweden's 8-3 victory over Switzerland 8-3. That game saw Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander leave early after taking a head shot from a Swiss player who received a 5 minute major and a game misconduct

In Group B, Russia edged the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout, and Finland routed Belarus 6-0.

A Holiday "This and That"

Its a holiday assortment of the things running through my muddled mind as we devour turkey, enjoy family and friends and open presents. As usual, they come in no particular order.

--How many people get screwed up over what day of the week at this time of year? Many by the sounds of it, and yes put me in that category as I forgot as I started to type this that it was Saturday morning.

--The Saskatchewan Roughriders made five signings just before Christmas. None of the names were players who jump out at you, but one player I think could make an impact on the team moving forward is former UBC running back Brandon Deschamps. I have had the opportunity to see this kid play several times and he is a load. He could be a Neal Hughes 2.0 and if he can have the type of career Hughsie had here, the Riders have themselves a nice piece of Canadian talent to work with.

--With it being year's end, TSN and Sportsnet are doing their year-end shows and Sportsnet continues to capitalize on the Toronto Blue Jays by showing the emotion-filled 7th inning of Game 5 of the American League Divisional series against the Texas Rangers. The one that ended with the "play of the year" which was the Jose Bautista homerun to give Toronto the series. The more times I watch that inning, the more times I wonder just what would have happened in Toronto that night had the Rangers won. I seriously believe we would have had a very ugly situation develop in and outside the Rogers Center as all hell would have broken loose. While the Jays were winners, the fans embarassed themselves with their actions and they would have taken to the streets in an angry mood. Bautista kept a season alive and a city from having a very black mark put on it.  That 7th inning just reminded me again that reality television is not Survivor and all those other shows, it is sports because you just can't write up what you see. As ESPN's Dan Shulman said, they have to make a 30 for 30 special on that game and that inning alone.

--It is time to watch the World Juniors. The Canadians start against the Americans which ruins a New Years Eve tradition, but Canada-US is still something to watch as is the rest of the tournament so enjoy it. Can Canada win gold? Yes, but they will have to have everything working right as this tournament as has been seen over the last decade is no slam-dunk anymore.

--As the tournament begins, lets hope tournament officials have thoroughly inspected the nets. The fact Sweden scored three times against Canada in a pre-tournament game with the puck going through the net should leave those officials asking WTF? Did they get the nets from Finland Tire?

--Back to the Riders for just a second and no one can tell me a 3-15 season hurt the team when it comes to merchandise sales. Being in the Rider Store at both Northgate and Mosaic in December and seeing the amount of people in there buying something with the iconic /=S=/ on it for someone shows me the appetite is still very strong when it comes to the Rider Nation supporting their football team. With all apologies to Sportsnet who refer to the Blue Jays as Canada's team, that distinction remains solidly with the Riders.

--The L-P's Rob Vanstone has spoken to Santa after his yearly trek around the world. I don't if I laughed harder when Santa said he bought the outgoing coaching staff a new drill set since the drills they used last year obviously didn't work or the fact he gave CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge an etch-a-sketch in an attempt to create another logo for the league.

--If Adarius Bowman is getting a contract which pays him 250-thousand a year base salary, Eric Rogers should get at least 300-thousand. Both are very good players, but I think Rogers is far more valuable than Bowman. Someone will have to break the bank to attain his services if he returns to the CFL and that is a big IF as I think Rogers may have played his last down in the CFL and will be with an NFL team next year. 

--We don't get this opportunity in Saskatchewan so it might not be a fair question to ask, but with an NFL game on Christmas Eve that was well-attended as were five NBA games on Christmas Day, would you go to a sporting event on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? I think it would be great to get up, open presents, and then head off to a game and then come home for the feast, but others would be horrified at such a notion.

--Week 16 NFL Lock of the Week --- Steelers over Ravens
--Week 16 NFL Upset of the Week --- Jets over Patriots

--Have we seen the last of Peyton Manning? If the answer to that question is yes, which I believe it is, the question then is what network will he be a part of next year.

--That's all I got. Hope Santa was good to you. Enjoy the day!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Brayden Point Named Canadian World Junior Captain

Hockey Canada named the leadership group for Canada's National Junior Team earlier to day in Helsinki. Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Point will wear the 'C' for Canada, while Victoria Royals defenceman Joe Hicketts will don an 'A.'

In addition to Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL), Point (Calgary/Moose Jaw, WHL) will have Lawson Crouse (Mt. Brydges, Ont./Kingston, OHL) as an alternate captain.

"These three players have set a tremendous example for the rest of our team from the start of our camp,” said head coach Dave Lowry. “The leadership, work ethic and attention to detail shown by Brayden, Lawson and Joe are the standard for their teammates."

Hicketts and Point are two of seven current WHL players suiting up for Team Canada this year. Additionally, former Calgary Hitmen Jake Virtanen joins the group after being loaned from his NHL club.

Canada won gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship on home ice in January. The team has not won in Europe since 2008 – the fourth of five consecutive gold medals for Canada’s National Junior Team from 2005-09.

Week 16 NFL Capsules

Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders are home to the San Diego Chargers in Christmas Eve NFL action to start the second to last week of the regular season. Click here for a preview of the game and all the others happening in Week 16.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Riders Sign 5 Players

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced national receiver S.J. Haidara, international offensive lineman Jarriel King, national defensive back Kwame Adjei, national offensive lineman Aaron Picton and national running back Brandon Deschamps have all signed with the team. As per club policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

Haidara (6’1 – 215) will return for his fourth CFL season and second with the Riders after joining the team in June, 2015. Last season, the 26-year-old played nine regular season games picking up eight receptions for 58 yards and one special teams tackle.

Haidara has played 43 career regular season games through his first four years after originally being selected by the BC Lions in the 2nd round (12th overall) in the 2013 CFL Draft.  

King (6’5 – 315) was acquired by the Riders last week in a trade with the Toronto Argonauts. The 28-year-old South Carolina product played three regular season games for the Argonauts in 2015. Through three seasons with the Argos, King has played 29 regular season games, with 26 starts, spending time at guard and tackle.

Both Haidara and King were eligible to become free agents on February 9th.

Adjei (6’1 – 205) signs with the Riders after playing five collegiate seasons at Mount Allison. The 22-year-old Brampton, ON native picked up 176 total defensive tackles, 6.5 quarterback sacks, and eight interceptions in 40 career regular season games.

Adjei attended training camp with the Riders last season after the team selected him in the 5th round (42nd overall) of the 2014 CFL Draft.    

Picton (6’4 – 295) officially joins the Green and White after his draft rights were picked up by the Riders in a September, 2015 trade with the Calgary Stampeders. The Regina native spent the last five seasons with the University of Regina playing 38 career conference games on the Rams offensive line.  

The Stampeders had originally selected Picton in the sixth round (53rd overall) of the 2015 CFL Draft.

Deschamps (6’0 – 215) signs with the Riders after spending the previous five seasons at the University of British Columbia. Last season, the Prince George, BC  rushed for 1,098 yards on 150 carries in 12 regular-season and playoff games in 2015, when UBC won the Vanier Cup. He had attended the B.C. Lions’ 2014 training camp as an undrafted free agent.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday CFL Notebook

The Edmonton Eskimos have extended the contracts of pending free agents Adarius Bowman and Almondo Sewell, keeping the all-star duo in Green and Gold through 2017.

Bowman recorded 1,304 receiving yards on a league-high 93 catches with a career-high seven touchdowns in 17 games (17 starts). He added five 100+ yard receiving games this season, including a 12-catch, 208-yard performance where he hauled in a touchdown pass in Week 18.

During the 103rd Grey Cup Playoffs, the Oklahoma State product recorded six catches for 74 yards and one touchdown in the West Final against Calgary. In the Grey Cup championship game, Bowman had four receptions for 73 yards, highlighted by a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Bowman was named a CFL Player of the Week three times, as well as a CFL Player of the Month for October. He also earned his second consecutive CFL All-Star nod.

Entering his 9th CFL season, Bowman has amassed career totals of 448 catches for 6,729 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Sewell recorded 35 defensive tackles, four quarterback sacks, one forced fumble and one knockdown in 18 games (18 starts). He started in the West Final against Calgary, recording three tackles and one forced fumble. In the Grey Cup championship game, he recorded three defensive tackles.

Earlier this month, he was named a West Division All Star and a CFL All-Star for the third consecutive season.

Entering his sixth CFL season, the native of Buff Bay, Jamaica, amassed 155 career defensive tackles and 27 quarterback sacks.

(Edmonton Eskimo Football Club)


Calgary Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel is pleased to announce the re-signing of international defensive back Joe Burnett. Burnett was set to become a free agent in February. As per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Burnett, who had been eligible to become a free agent in February, played 13 games during his first season with the Red and White. He earned a starting job at cornerback in Week 6 and excelled until suffering a season-ending injury on Sept. 25 in Winnipeg.

Burnett totalled 25 tackles, three tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, eight knockdowns and two interceptions on the year. He also returned 12 punts for 139 yards.

“Joe played great football at cornerback for us and it was unfortunate that his season was cut short by injury,” said Hufnagel. “I look forward to seeing Joe back at full strength and speed in training camp so that he can try to pick up where he left off.”

A four-year CFL veteran, Burnett played three seasons with the Eskimos before signing with Calgary on Apr. 10, 2015. He was a CFL all-star in 2012 when he led the league with six interceptions.

“I enjoyed my first season with the Stamps and I’m working hard to come back strong in 2016,” said Burnett. “I just want to put my hand in the pile and contribute in any way the team needs me.”

(Calgary Stampeders)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Riders Sign George and Webster to New Deals

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced international defensive lineman Tearrius George and national defensive back Matt Webster have signed extensions to remain with the team. As per club policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

George (6’4 – 277) will return for his ninth CFL season and sixth with the Riders. The Kansas State product originally joined the Green and White as a free agent in February 2011. Through 111 career regular season games, George has collected 181 defensive tackles, 42 quarterback sacks, and six forced fumbles.

George was named a West Division All-Star in 2013 and 2014, and also won his first career Grey Cup as a member of the Riders in 2013.

Webster (5’11 – 195) will remain with the Riders for his third CFL season after originally being selected by the team in the 5th round (39th overall) in the 2014 CFL Draft. The 23-year-old Queen’s University product has played 25 regular season games through his first two seasons, picking up 25 defensive tackles and 17 special teams tackles.

Webster was eligible to become a free agent on February 9th.

The Riders also announced they have released national kicker Paul McCallum and international defensive back Tristan Jackson.

McCallum returned to the Riders in July, 2015, playing 14 regular season games last season. He had previously been with the team for 12 seasons from 1994-2005 before spending the next nine seasons with the BC Lions. 

Jackson spent the last five seasons with the Riders after being acquired from the Eskimos in a 2011 trade. He is a veteran of eight CFL seasons.

NHL Three Stars of Week

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Varlamov went 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .981 save percentage and one shutout to help the Avalanche (17-16-1, 35 points) extend their winning streak to five games, their longest such run since March 25 – April 5, 2014 (6-0-0). He stopped all 29 shots he faced, including 20 over the final two periods, to earn his 19th career shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Dec. 15. Varlamov then allowed one goal in each of his next two starts, making 33 saves in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders Dec. 17 and 39 saves in a 5-1 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers Dec. 19. The 27-year-old Samara, Russia, native has won six consecutive decisions, equaling a career high last achieved March 4-19, and boasts a 12-8-1 record in 22 total outings this season (2.45 GAA, .921 SV%, 1 SO).


Oshie paced the NHL with five goals and shared the League lead with eight points as the Capitals (24-6-2, 50 points) won all four of their games to move into first place in the overall standings. He opened the week with 2-1—3 in a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Dec. 14. After being held off the scoresheet in a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Dec. 16, Oshie responded with 2-2—4 – his third career four-point game and first since Jan. 3 at SJS (3-1—4 w/ STL) – in a 5-3 comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Dec. 18. He finished the week with one goal in a 7-3 triumph over the New York Rangers Dec. 20, the team's second consecutive multi-goal comeback win. The 28-year-old Everett, Wash., native has 13-9—22 in 32 games this season, his first with the Capitals.


Koivu tied for first in the NHL with 3-5—8 in three games to lift the Wild (17-8-6, 40 points) to a pair of wins. He started the week with 1-3—4 – his third career three-point performance and first since Jan. 2, 2011 vs. PHX (0-4—4) – in a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Dec. 15. Koivu followed that with 2-1—3 in a 5-2 triumph over the New York Rangers Dec. 17 before collecting one assist in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators Dec. 19, ending the team's season-high point streak at nine games (6-0-3). The 32-year-old Turku, Finland, native leads the Wild with 8-21—29 in 31 contests this season, his seventh as the club's captain.

(NHL Media)

Something to "Mitch" About

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Are you ready? If not, here's hoping you find time to get that Christmas shopping done because if the last Saturday before Christmas wasn't hectic enough, I can't imagine what the next three days will be like for you.  I don't like going out at all on the last Saturday before Xmas because of the stupidity you can find out there in parking lots, etc. etc., but I had to drop something off Saturday morning and on the way home I drove by Costco at about 945. As one can imagine, the parking lot was jammed. I have no desire to know what type of chaos was going on inside.


It would seem as if the CFL train slowed down somewhat this week, but I am expecting things to heat up again after Xmas as teams use January to try and re-sign potential free agents. With the Riders getting rid of some guys who would have been free agents, it will be interesting to see just what the future holds for guys who are still FA's and just how much interest there is in those guys from Chris Jones and company. It was mentioned to me last week that there could be a 60-70 percent turnover on the roster from last year. At first thought, you think that is extreme and then you take a closer look at it and go there's a shot. As was noted, many of the cuts came on the defensive side of the ball with Andre Monroe getting traded on Friday for o-lineman Jarriel King, so you have to wonder if Jones and crew are happy with the way the offense played as two young quarterbacks got their feet wet. I don't know what the future holds for guys like Adcock, Bagg, Fulton and Ryan Smith, but I would think they can serve a role here. The question still remains and will so until free agency hits and that is just how many FA's from the Stampeders and Eskimos will be lured here. I am hearing "many". By the way, if you missed it, Sportscage Insider Arash Madani reported on the weekend the football club has hired Scott Annand is about to join the Riders front office. Madani says Annand is a friend of Jones and is somewhat of a big deal when it comes to football in Nova Scotia.


People keep referring to Chris Jones as a young Don Matthews. It is hard not to make that comparison and certainly the two men have a solid track record when it comes to what they have done in the CFL when it comes to playoff appearances and Grey Cups.  With all due respect to the Riders new head honcho, I don't think he will come close to having the wins Matthews had with that number being 231 by the time his career is over, but as he gets those wins which will come, here's hoping many of them are under that Riders banner.


The U-S College Football Bowl season started Saturday with the first of what is wayyyyyy too many. I love my U-S college football, but the amount of games we see is a little obscene with some teams getting rewarded for a season where they finished 500 and in the middle of the pack in their conference. The big bowls still see the best teams though so these money-grabbing secondary ones will continue to come and go. There is no doubt the real ones will start up between Christmas and New Year's with the two national semi-finals on New Year's Eve.


Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind right now. It was another outstanding outing from the Seattle quarterback to not only help me get to the finals of one fantasy league I am in, but more importantly get Seattle to the playoffs.  It is starting to look like they could be in the way of Carolina's perfect season as the two teams could meet in Round 2 of the playoffs. If it happens, I am more than ready to see that matchup.


If there is a team that will prevent New England from winning the Super Bowl, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Can anyone cover Antonio Brown? How many receptions is this guy going to end with this year. At his current pace, it will be between 130-150! 


I have no interest in going to Star Wars whatsoever. Those who are "geeked out" can continue to do so, but I won't be bothering with it.


How much longer will the Anaheim Ducks continue to have Bruce Boudreau behind the bench and what point does one start to wonder what is wrong with Ryan Getzlaf who has just one goal this year.


I am becoming more and more convinced that automakers are making new vehicles without turn signals and sending those vehicles to Regina. It is something that eludes many it would seem.


Steve Harvey....YOU HAD ONE JOB. Click here to see what that job was and how he failed miserably! I'm guessing Steve won't be invited back for next yea.


That's all I got. Have a great week! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Canada's World Junior Team Will Have Solid WHL Representation

Hockey Canada revealed the 23-man roster for Canada’s National Junior Team ahead of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship on Sunday. Included in the final roster are seven players currently playing in the Western Hockey League.

Both Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, BC / Victoria Royals) and Brayden Point (Calgary, AB / Moose Jaw Warriors) return to the team this year after helping Team Canada to a gold medal one year ago.

Calgary Hitmen alum Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, BC / Vancouver Canucks) also returns to the team after being loaned to Team Canada by his NHL club.

WHL Players – Team Canada Final Roster

Defence H W DOB Hometown WHL Club NHL Draft
Haydn Fleury 6’3” 203 7/8/1996 Carlyle, SK Red Deer Rebels CAR ’14 (1, 7)
Joe Hicketts 5’8” 175 5/4/1996 Kamloops, BC Victoria Royals DET ’14 (FA)
Travis Sanheim 6’3” 184 3/29/1996 Elkhorn, MB Calgary Hitmen PHI ’14 (1, 17)

Mathew Barzal 6’0” 181 5/26/1997 Coquitlam, BC Seattle Thunderbirds NYI ’15 (1, 16)
Rourke Chartier 5’11” 190 4/3/1996 Saskatoon, SK Kelowna Rockets SJS ’14 (5, 149)
Brayden Point 5’10” 163 3/12/1996 Calgary, AB Moose Jaw Warriors TBL ’14 (3, 79)

 The 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship begins on December 26 in Helsinki, Finland when Team Canada will face Team USA.

In addition to the seven WHL players that will represent their country, the WHL will be well represented on the staff of Team Canada once again this year. Tim Speltz (Spokane Chiefs) was named to the Program of Excellence Management Group earlier this year, while Victoria Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry will be Team Canada’s bench boss. Brandon Wheat Kings General Manager and Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon will serve as an assistant coach under Lowry. Brian Cheeseman of the Edmonton Oil Kings will serve as a therapist for Team Canada, while the Victoria Royals’ Matt Auerbach was named as an equipment manager.

Canada’s final roster was named Sunday after Team Canada defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 on a goal by Kelowna Rockets forward Rourke Chartier. Canada will play Sweden on Wednesday in exhibition play; its final tune-up before the tournament begins.

“Our goal is always to assemble the best possible team to represent Canada. We had a really good evaluation period in Toronto and Imatra, and were able to see how the players responded to different situations – from practices to games,” said Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations and national teams for Hockey Canada. “These are never easy decisions, but we feel confident in the team we have and their ability to make the nation proud and give us all something to get behind this holiday season.”

Canada won gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship on home ice last January. The team has not won in Europe since 2008 – the fourth of five consecutive gold medals for Canada’s National Junior Team from 2005-09.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday CFL Notebook

The Toronto Argonauts have acquired international DL Andre Monroe from the Saskatchewan Roughriders today in exchange for the rights to international OL Jarriel King.

Monroe joined the Riders as a free agent before the 2015 season and played in eight regular season games, with seven starts. The 23-year old registered 17 defensive tackles, four quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles as a CFL rookie. Prior to signing in Saskatchewan, the Washington DC native played four seasons at the University of Maryland where he set a school record with 25 career QB sacks.

King joined the Argonauts prior to the 2013 season and played 29 games over parts of three seasons.


The Ottawa REDBLACKS today announced multiple appointments to head coach Rick Campbell’s coaching staff for the 2016 season – six returning coaches and one newcomer.

The REDBLACKS defence will once again be led by defensive coordinator Mark Nelson, with Leroy Blugh as defensive line coach, Ike Charlton as defensive backs coach and Derek Oswalt as linebackers coach. Under their guidance last season, the REDBLACKS reestablished “Capital Punishment” on the D-line and established “D-Block” in the secondary. The REDBLACKS defensive line led the CFL in sacks with 61. The team defense tied for the league lead in interceptions with 26 and limited opposing teams to a league low average of only 70.8 yards rushing per game.

On the offensive side, receivers coach Travis Moore and offensive line coach Bryan Chiu have each signed for next season. Both played integral roles in coaching an offense that led the CFL in passing yards (5,816), overall completions (499), rushing touchdowns (18) and featured 4 players with over 1,000 yards receiving (Chris Williams, Greg Ellingson, Brad Sinopoli and Ernest Jackson).

“We had a lot of great players and great coaches last season and I’m glad we we’re able to bring back the guys we’ve announced today for continuity and to keep rolling,” said REDBLACKS head coach Rick Campbell. “Our objective for the coming season is to grow as a team and get better.”

The newcomer to the REDBLACKS coaching staff is special teams coordinator Bob Dyce. Most recently, Dyce, a native of Winnipeg, served as interim head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders after serving as the Riders’ special teams coordinator from 2013-2015. Prior to taking on special teams, Dyce served the Roughriders as offensive coordinator (2012) and passing game coordinator and receivers coach (2010-2011). He also served as receivers coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2003-2009) and receivers coach at the University of Manitoba (1996-2002).

“Bob Dyce is a very good coach and a man with great character,” said Campbell. “I’m looking forward to working with him and I know the players will as well.”


Calgary Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel is pleased to announce the re-signing of national receiver Anthony Parker. Parker was set to become a free agent in February. As per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Parker is coming off his best year as a pro, registering 31 catches for a career-high 443 yards and adding two touchdowns in 18 games. He also had eight carries for 56 yards, three punt returns for 16 yards, four kickoff returns for 77 yards and a missed field goal return for 22 yards.

He was the team’s leading receiver in the final regular-season game, hauling in four passes for 122 yards and scoring his longest career touchdown on a 70-yard pass from Drew Tate.

Parker started in both playoffs games, totalling five catches for 48 yards and adding a two-point convert.

“Anthony has worked very hard during his time with the Stamps,” said Hufnagel. “He’s made some big plays for us when called upon and has made progress every season. I believe he has the potential to grow even more and I look forward to watching his continued development.”

Parker has spent five seasons with the Stampeders after being selected third overall by the club in 2011 CFL Draft. He has played a total of 72 regular-season games and recorded 91 receptions for 1,109 yards and eight touchdowns along with 23 carries for 190 yards.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to continue my career in the place that it started,” said Parker. “This is the best organization in the CFL top down and I expect big things to come in 2016. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

This and That

It is Friday and that means here are the thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, they are in no particular order.

--The bombs continue to drop at Mosaic Stadium.  As you all know, the Riders released 19 players on Tuesday as Chris Jones and company start re-tooling the 3-15 roster. Some are not happy over some of the players who were cut and the way they found out about it. When you are 3-15 and it is your job to do some cleaning up, you do it!
Yes, I was surprised at some of the players who were let go, but you really couldn't argue with who was told their services were no longer needed. The two biggest surprises to me were Anthony Allen and Weldon Brown. Allen's departure makes me wonder what the team will do at running back although with all the running backs the Eskimos went through last year, I am sure Chris Jones can bring one of those guys here. The other surprise was Weldon Brown who was injured early in the season adding to the woes on the defensive side of the ball.  The turnover rate on the roster will be immense this year, but as a fanbase that is what you should be expecting after the nightmarish season of 2015. It isn't over yet and some players who are more popular than the guys let go on Tuesday may be next. By the way, is it safe to say Mr. Jones isn't easing into his new position and he is not #$%^%$#$-ing around. We've still got six months until we see what type of players will be on the field at training camp. Are you counting down the days?

--I will admit I didn't know a lot about John Murphy when he was hired. Yes, I knew who he was and what his resume looked like, but he could have walked past me in Calgary and I wouldn't have recognized him because he was one of those behind the scenes guys. If you want to know Murphy and what he is about, listen to Tuesday's podcast of the Sportscage as Rod and Luc Mullinder had a fantastic interview with him.

--I don't know about you, but Jeffrey Orridge is on Strike two when it comes to CFL commissioner. Saying coaches can't move without the league's approval is A) too late and B) goes completely against what the CFL has done for years. Yes, the Noel Thorpe situation which arguably resulted in the edict being handed out is a little greasy, but you can't change the rules once the kids are in the sandbox with the rules having been in place for years. You do it before the kids get in. If Orridge wants to do this, that is fine, but as I have stated previously, you announce this once the season is over so that it takes effect for all squads thinking about coaching moves in 2017. Perhaps he should have done this three weeks ago in Winnipeg instead of introducing us to that stupid logo.By the way, I am guessing this not allowing Thorpe to go to Edmonton story is a long ways from being over. How can the guy go back to Montreal now?

--Question asked of me Wednesday night. If the Riders were to win the Grey Cup and say the Argos pulled off a Craig Reynolds and managed to get Jones and his entire staff to continue their renegade tour and pack up and go to Toronto, how would it be accepted here. I think I know the answer to that one, and I think you do too. However, it would have meant the Riders were at the top of the CFL mountain again. I don't think Jones and crew are a one and done in Saskatchewan, but if that one results in a championship than I would think Craig Reynolds would say what Ed Hervey did and that is Chris did what we wanted him to.

--If the Rider brass asks Darian Durant to take a pay cut, what would be a fair one to take?  Durant is making a rumoured 500-grand a season and he earned that for what he did in 2013, but he has only played a half season since then. 250 is too much, but I think 325 with bonuses would be a very fair proposition. Say what you will about Doubles, but he is the face of the franchise and will continue to be for a while. I am guessing he wants nothing more than to be heaving passes in the direction of numbers 6 and 7 and I am guessing he is ready to get back on the field after missing virtually all of 2015.

--The Winnipeg Sun's Kirk Penton has surmised the CFL off-season has been more exciting than the regular season. I can't disagree with that!

--Since the CFL came out with its latest draft rankings, I have been trying to determine just what route the Riders should go when it comes to who will go first overall. There is no doubt Manitoba DL David Onmeyata would look good in green and white as would Calgary RB Mercer Timmis and UBC DB Taylor Loffler.  Who's kidding who, Iowa's Tevaun Smith would be a nice target for Darian as well and at 6-2, 205, he would be a big receiver that Chris Jones and John Murphy would both covet. This won't be an easy call to make. I would probably go with Onmeyata meaning he won't be the guy.

--Serena Williams gets the honour of Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. Did those who vote forget about Steph Curry? There were many people I would have put in there ahead of Serena Williams.

--If that linebacker doesn't punch out Jets quarterback Geno Smith before the start of the season, are the Jets in playoff contention going into Week 15 of the NFL season. I think not!

--Week 15 NFL Lock of the Week --Seahawks over Browns
   Week 15 NFL Upset of the Week --Giants over Panthers

--Stat from Pro Football Talk....Since Russell Wilson entered the league in 2012, he has won 50 total games. That's the same number of games the Browns have won since 2006.

--Was it just me or was ketchup battling mustard on the NFL Thursday niter?  Those jerseys were god-awful hideous! 

--Is Johnny Gaudreau to the Calgary Flames what Mike Comrie was supposed to be for the Edmonton Oilers?

 --Message to Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Either sign Steve Stamkos to a contract or trade him somewhere to this endless droning by everyone on him going to the Leafs can stop!

--Message to Calgary GM Brad Treliving. As an Oilers fan, please make a trade for Jonathan Bernier!

--Message to Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba. You have done nothing in this league to even consider asking for a 56 million dollar contract. What makes you think you should be earning that type of money. Realism kid----try it sometime!

That's all I got. It's the last Saturday before Christmas so do what you have to do, and be civil about it when going outside. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

CFL Releases Statement on Noel Thorpe Situation

 It looks as though defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe will remain in Montreal for the time being.  The Canadian Football League released a statement Thursday after an investigation was done by the League and Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge.

Earlier in the week, there was talk that Thorpe was to resign from his post in Montreal and potentially join the Edmonton Eskimos’ coaching staff.

“Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge has done a thorough and complete investigation of the facts surrounding the Noel Thorpe matter and has determined that Thorpe’s purported resignation from his contract with the Montreal Alouettes on Tuesday December 15, 2015 in order to secure a coaching position with the Edmonton Eskimos was invalid based on the terms of his contract with Montreal and the existing by-laws of the CFL,” the CFL said in a statement Thursday.

“Thorpe is currently still under contract to Montreal and is not free to resign from his existing contract to accept employment from Edmonton, or any other CFL Club, unless written permission is received from Montreal in advance and subject to the current protocol of advance approval from the League office.

“Commissioner Orridge has also determined that Edmonton did not violate the existing CFL by-laws and will not be subject to any discipline in this matter.”


Week 15 NFL Capsules

Two of the top rookies in the NFL will be on the field Thursday night as Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off Week 15 of the season with a game in St. Louis against Todd Gurley and the Rams. For a look at that game and others this weekend, click here

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge Weighs In on Coaches Shuffle

 Image result for jeffrey orridge

Effective immediately, there will be a moratorium on any coaches’ movement from one Club to another Club, unless such transaction is expressly approved in writing by the Commissioner or his delegate, prior to the movement taking place. This only applies to coaches who are currently under contract with a CFL Club.
For greater clarity, no Member Club or any person connected directly or indirectly with the Club will be allowed to have any contact or discussions with a CFL coach currently under contract with another Club, unless:
(a) permission in writing has been first obtained from the coach’s current Club (President or General Manager) to engage in such discussions and express permission has been granted to enter into a contract with the other Club, and
(b) approval in writing by the Commissioner or his delegate copied to both Clubs and the coach, for the coach to engage in such discussions with the other Club.
Furthermore, the fact that a CFL coach currently under contract attempts to resign with his current Club in order to sign with another Club will not void or circumvent the two pre-conditions above for the duration of the coach’s contract, provided that the coach’s contract is legally enforceable.
This moratorium will be in place until further notice.

Brand New Slate of Assistant Coaches in Riderville

Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations Chris Jones is announcing who his assistant coaches will be and a majority of them served with him in Edmonton. 
The assistants will be

Stephen McAdoo – Offensive coordinator & assistant head coach
Craig Dickenson – Special teams coordinator
Jarious Jackson – Quarterbacks coach & passing game coordinator
Mike Scheper – Offensive line coach
Phillip Lolley – Linebackers coach
Jason Shivers – Defensive backs coach
Ed Philion – Defensive line coach
Craig Davoren – Running backs coach & special teams assistant

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Riders Unveil Front Office Structure While Releasing Many Players

Saskatchewan Roughriders vice president of football operations, general manager and head coach Chris Jones has announced his football operations staff.

Joining Jones in the front office will be assistant vice president of football operations and player personnel, John Murphy.

Murphy joins the Riders after spending eight seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, originally joining the team during their 2008 Grey Cup winning season. He joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as director of player personnel for the 2009 season before returning to the Stampeders where he spent the last five seasons as assistant general manager and director of player personnel.

Long serving Roughrider, Jeremy O’Day remains with the club after being named assistant vice president of football operations and administration.

O’Day originally joined the Riders front office in 2011 as a football operations coordinator after playing 202 regular season games through 12 seasons with the team. He has spent the last four seasons as assistant general manager and director of football operations. Last year, O’Day was named interim vice-president of football operations and general manager where he remained for the final nine games of the 2015 regular season. 


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released the following players:

·         International running back Anthony Allen
·         International safety Tyron Brackenridge
·         International defensive back Weldon Brown
·         International defensive back Marshay Green
·         International defensive back Macho Harris
·         National linebacker Nathan Kanya
·         National defensive back Hugo Lopez
·         International defensive back Terrell Maze
·         National fullback Scott McHenry
·         International defensive back Junior Mertile
·         National linebacker Kyle Norris
·         International receiver Jamel Richardson
·         International defensive lineman Cameron Sheffield
·         International quarterback Blake Sims
·         International receiver Taj Smith
·         International running back Chad Spann
·         International defensive back Alex Suber
·         International defensive lineman Derek Walker

·         National linebacker Ryan Wellman