Monday, February 29, 2016

Oilers Sign Brandon Davidson to Contract Extension

The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenceman Brandon Davidson to a two-year contract extension.

Davidson, 24, has appeared in 47 games for the Oilers this season, posting 10 points (4G, 6A), 20 penalty minutes and he leads the Oilers with a plus six rating.

The 6’2”, 210-pound blueliner, who played his junior hockey with the WHL's Regina Pats,  has accumulated 11 points (5G, 6A) and 20 penalty minutes in 59 career National Hockey League games.

The Lethbridge, Alberta native has also appeared in 150 career American Hockey League (AHL) games, recording 28 points (11G, 17A), 115 penalty minutes and a plus 10 rating. He also played in 31 AHL playoff games, registering nine points (1G, 8A) and 14 penalty minutes.

(Edmonton Oilers)

Something to "Mitch" About

The NHL trade deadline is today. Depending on when you read this, the networks will be in full trade-centre mode. This means they are just rambling on about topic after topic after topic just begging for a deal to be made so they can analyze it. I am guessing James Duthie and "the panel" and Daren Millard and his gang at Sportsnet must just die a little whenever a trade is made in the days leading up to the deadline as it means more tap-dancing for them, and with the trades made this weekend, the tap-dancing will be a'happenin! In Duthie's book "I'm the Guy on the Left" (which is outstanding by the way), he talks about how this day is usually an utter disaster and how TSN actually mocks its way through it by some of the stunts they have pulled. Looking at the commercial TSN has to promote Trade Deadline day, it looks as if they are ready to mock themselves again. That's fine with me. TSN may have lost hockey, but that is still my go-to spot for NHL coverage. Sportsnet has some good people on their desk in Elliotte Friedman, Rich Sutter and Kelly Hrudey, but in my mind, they pale in comparison to the three letter. Agree or disagree?


I really like what the Florida Panthers did this weekend. Yes, they mortgaged their future somewhat by trading away a lot of draft picks, but GM Dale Tallon knows what he is doing and getting Teddy Purcell, Jakub Kindl and Jiri Hudler to strengthen what is already a very good team while not giving up role players like Quinton Howden, Mike Matheson or Vincent Trocheck along with guys in the system like Jayce Hawryluk and Dylan Olsen is a real coup. I heard rumblings Edmonton wanted Olsen and a lower round pick for Purcell, but that obviously didn't materialize,


I can't believe the Oilers actually got a 3rd round pick from Pittsburgh for Justin Schultz. Then again, as someone on Facebook informed me, it was Jim Rutherford who got Phil Kessel from Toronto. I didn't think Edmonton would come close to getting a 3rd round pick for Schultz who might be one of the biggest letdowns in Oilers history.  There was talk around the league about this guy being a Norris Trophy candidate when he spurned a chance to stay with Anaheim and chose Edmonton. Some have suggested a change of scenery and having the chance to play with guys like Crosby, Malkin and Letang will help his game.  If it does, good for Pittsburgh and Schultz, but I don't see it. Still with the Oilers, it only seems right that they win the last game against the Islanders at Rexall Place.


You can talk about Artemi Panarin, Dylan Larkin and Jack Eichel all you want for NHL rookie of the year, but my money is on Flyers d-man Shayne Gostisbehere. I was hoping to nab him in the late rounds of a perennial fantasy hockey league I am in and got beat to the punch. The guy has turned into one of the top 20 blueliners in the NHL in less than a season's work.  Gostisbehere should be on the roster of the "Young Guns" team (aged 24 and under) for the World Cup of Hockey. I am fascinated to see who else goes and who makes up Team Canada with some extra spots open due to those who will play on that 24 and under squad.


It was tough enough for Jolene Campbell and her Regina rink Thursday night at the Scotties when she let one get away in her last round-robin game. It was even tougher for her to watch New Brunswick give away a game they had control of by allowing Manitoba to score 3 in 10 to win the game and eliminate Campbell from a tie-breaker. Moments after Kerri Einarsson had won her game to end Team Saskatchewan's hopes, I texted Jolene asking her if she had 5 minutes to give for a Sportscage interview adding I would certainly understand if she didn't considering what her had last 16 hours had been like. Within moments of sending the text back, I got one back saying no problem and a while later we did the interview. As expected, she was disappointed, but encouraged over what had happened saying mistakes were made, but experience was gained and she is confident her team will be back. She didn't avoid the questions either in Grande Prairie or to myself. As I hung up the phone after the interview, I couldn't help but reflect back to Cam Newton's childish antics at the end of the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl didn't go Cam's way as mistakes were made, but experience was gained and I am sure he thinks his team can go back. The way Newton acted after the Super Bowl was a complete 180 from the way Campbell acted.  That's why one person gained a lot of respect in and out of the curling world this week and why another person lost a lot of respect in and out of the football world. How you handle adversity is how you define yourself, and Campbell showed nothing but pure class. Then again, what would you expect from someone who calls Saskatchewan home because for the most part, we are a pretty good bunch in good times and in bad.


A Riders fan asked me Saturday afternoon "Why is this guy (Chris Jones) gutting the Riders and getting rid of all the fan favourites? My response was the guy (Jones) wants to win and feels he can't with aging vets. The braintrust felt Weston Dressler and John Chick were too old, and too expensive, and he obviously felt Chris Getzlaf's shelf life had come to an end as well. I don't know how Getzlaf will do in Edmonton, but if his foot injury that has bothered him for the last two years are a thing of the past, he will be a nice weapon for Mike Reilly. I think Getzlaf would be the first to tell you the last two years were not what he envisioned, and I am sure he thought like many others his days in football would come to an end with him wearing the helmet with the /=S=/ on it.  It's not, and yes that sucks for fans who cheered for the hometown guy. The reality is though this team feels they can be better without Getzlaf, Dressler, Chick and others because of guys like Shawn Lemon, Justin Capiccotti, John Chiles, Kendial Lawrence, Jeremy Kelly and others.  It is a completely different squad than the one that walked off the field in Montreal  in their last game of the season having won their 3rd contest of the year. Jones came in with his agenda, he likely gave that agenda to Craig Reynolds when he was interviewed, and it was obviously approved.  Is it June yet?


When people get cars these days, do they have the option of getting ones without signal-lights because it sure seems as if many have forgotten how to use them.


Congratulations to Steve Burrows and the U of R Cougars mens basketball team.

They dug deep and then some to get past a pesky University of Winnipeg team winning the series in 3 games with the final being 69-62 on Sunday night. The Cougars didn't dress a full roster, and they were battling illness as a bug is going around the University, but they found a way especially on Saturday when they clawed back from a huge deficit midway through the 3rd quarter. It isn't going to be easy as they hit the road for quarter-final play this weekend in Kamloops, but playoffs always mean strange things. While the basketball team comes through after being down 1-0 in the series, the womens hockey team couldn't finish things off after beating UBC in Game 1 as the T-Birds took Game 3 3-2. A win by Sarah Hodges' squad and they would have hosted the CanWest championship next weekend.


Still with basketball, what Steph Curry did Saturday night in Oklahoma City simply defies logic and description. He is re-defining the game he plays and he isn't going away anytime soon.  Wouldn't it be great to see Golden State play Oklahoma City in the NBA playoffs. That would be very compelling theatre.


Cancer got another one on the weekend as the man who helped many enjoy a Grey Cup or two along with other sporting events and concerts has passed on. Word spread Sunday morning that Dave Ash had died after a bout with a disease that frankly can just you know what and go away anytime soon. RIP Dave! It is safe to say you will make sure you have the best seat in the house when the new stadium opens.


Ohio State coach (and former Florida) coach Urban Meyer said over the weekend at the NFL combine that Tim Tebow may be considering the CFL as he won't let his football dream die. Does Montreal still hold his rights? What a circus that would be! It would make the Michael Sam experiment look like a childrens story. Whatever happened to Sam anyhow? The last I heard he was trashing the CFL.


The Pats are doing something long overdue today and that is having a game which will see over 3000 school kids in attendance as they drop the puck with the Red Deer Rebels in an 1130 start (1105 pregame show on 620 CKRM after some schmuck brings you the 11 AM news).  Many other teams have done this and Regina is finally getting on board. I would love to see this one and see the atmosphere in the rink. I am guessing it will be tremendous.


That's all I got. Have a good week as we head into March


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Deciding Games For Two U of R Teams on Sunday

The University of Regina’s men’s basketball team dug deep and came up with a gutsy 67-64 win over Winnipeg on Saturday night at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport to force a deciding game in the best-of-three Canada West play-in series.

The Cougars trailed by one at the half, but it looked like they had let the game get away from them as Winnipeg bolted out of halftime on a 15-2 run to go up 49-34, their biggest lead of the game.

But just as Winnipeg did to Regina yesterday, the Cougars completely erased the huge second-half deficit. They scored the next 10 points to get back to within five, and another 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter gave the U of R a lead they would never relinquish.

The two teams will decide the series on Sunday night at the CKHS. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.


The University of Regina women’s hockey team was blanked by the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday night, which sets up a decisive Game 3 in the Canada West semifinal series.

Kathleen Cahoon scored the game’s lone goal, striking at the 11:38 mark of the first period with a high wrist shot that beat Toni Ross short side.

UBC’s top line was responsible for the difference maker, as Rebecca Unrau and Logan Boyd collected assists on the goal.

Danielle Dube did the rest for the T-Birds, stopping all 25 Cougar shots to earn the shutout and help force a third game.

The 3rd and deciding game will go Sunday afternoon in a 3 o'clock start Vancouver time (5 Regina time).

(U of R Athletics)

Busy Day For Panthers and Oilers

The Florida Panthers added some scoring punch to their offense Saturday, acquiring winger Jiri Hudler from the Calgary Flames and Teddy Purcell from the Edmonton Oilers in separate trades.

The Flames received a second-round draft pick this June plus a fourth-round pick in 2018 for Hudler. The Oilers got a third-round pick for Purcell.

Hudler, a pending unrestricted free agent, has 10 goals and 25 assists this season for the Flames.

Drafted in 2002, Hudler, 32, played his first seven seasons with the Detroit Red Wings before heading to Calgary as a free agent in 2012.

Purcell has 11 goals and 21 assists in his second season with the Oilers. A 30-year-old forward, he also has played for the Kings and Lightning.

The Panthers also announced they acquired veteran defenseman Jakub Kindl in a deal with the Red Wings for a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft.

The Panthers' flurry of moves come as they prepare for what would be the franchise's first playoff appearance since the 2011-12 season.

In a move to hopefully help them in the future, the team announced the signing of Moose Jaw Warriors forward Dryden Hunt. The WHL's leading scorer will be eligible to join the Panthers or one of their minor league teams once his season in Moose Jaw comes to an end.


The Edmonton Oilers have lost their whipping boy for what has been another terrible season.

On Saturday, the Oilers  traded defenceman Justin Schultz, to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round 2016 pick, following on the heels with a trade of winger Teddy Purcell to Florida, also for a third-rounder this June which means they have three of them.

Earlier in the day, the Oilers sent backup goalie Anders Nilsson to St. Louis for a fifth-rounder — they now have two of those — and Swedish prospect goalie Niklas Lundstrom, who’ll report to Bakersfield.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Good Night For Cougar Womens Hockey; Bad Night for Cougar Mens Basketball

 The University of Regina women’s hockey team sailed to a 3-0 win against the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday night to take a 1-0 series lead in the Canada West semifinal series.
Brooklyn Moskowy, Carleen Meszaros and Jaycee Magwood all lit the lamp for the Cougars, while Toni Ross stopped every one of the 28 shots that were directed her way for her second consecutive playoff shutout.
The Cougars will look to complete the sweep of the Thunderbirds as Game 2 of the best-of-three series faces off at 7 p.m. local time on Saturday night.
 The University of Winnipeg trailed by 17 at one point in the third quarter, but the Wesmen came all the way back to take an 80-73 victory over the host Regina Cougars on Friday night in Game 1 of a best-of-three Canada West play-in series at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport. 
Winnipeg used a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter that included three consecutive Jelane Pryce buckets to take its first lead since midway through the second. A corner three by Regina’s Jonathan Tull tied the game at 69-69 with three minutes to go, but it was all Wesmen from there. The Cougars didn’t score again until less than 20 seconds remained, and by then Winnipeg had scored eight straight to take a stranglehold on the contest. 
Ryan Oirbans had one of two double-doubles for Winnipeg, finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists to lead the Wesmen in all three categories. William Sesay also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Pryce finished with 15 points, Marcello Kambola scored 12, and Denzel Lynch-Blair came off the bench to score 11 while grabbing seven rebounds. 
Jonathan Tull led the Cougars with a game-high 22 points, while Will Tallman finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to collect a double-double before fouling out late in the contest. Alex Igual had 10 first-quarter points and finished with 14, and also had nine rebounds to fall just short of a double-double.
The two teams meet again Saturday night at the CKHS in a 7 pm tip. If the Cougars win to set up a 3rd and deciding game, it would go Sunday night at the CKHS in a 7 pm tip. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

This and That

Welcome to Friday and the usual set of weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.

--I don't know if the Regina Pats will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the WHL playoffs, but if they do, I hope they have the same mentality they had in Wednesday's game in the southern Alberta city. Regina won the game 9-8 in a contest where there were over 100 shots on goal. This is hockey the way it is supposed to be as far as I am concerned. From listening to 620 CKRM's Phil Andrews lose his mind for most of the game, it seemingly had everything. There were obviously goals, there were chances, there were big hits.  The game came just a few hours after I heard a hockey coach say that some of his more skilled players had to play a more defensive game.  1-0 and 2-1 games don't sell tickets. I am guessing 90 percent of those leaving the Enmax Centre Wednesday night left having thoroughly enjoyed themselves even though their hometown Hurricanes lost. We need more hockey like this, and not the defensive minded crap that has taken over. You don't need 4 on 4 hockey, you don't need 3 on 3 and you don't need to change the rules. Let the teams play the game and show some creativity. Sadly, we all know this will never happen which is a shame. Premier Brad Wall states let's never go back, but when it comes to hockey, I'd be OK if we did, and I think a lot of others would be as well.

---Speaking of the Regina Pats, they are turning some heads having won their last seven with victories on this streak coming in Lethbridge against the top team in the conference, in Prince Albert against the 2nd place team in the Eastern Division and a home ice win against the top team in the division---the Brandon Wheat Kings. They are doing it all without their captain Colby Williams who can be a gamechanger as well. Connor Hobbs has stepped up, Adam Brooks continues to shine, and many others are as well including Tyler Brown who has stopped a lot of rubber in this win streak.   The rink should be jammed for tonight's encounter against the Raiders with a win putting Paddock's proteges firmly in the rear-view of the Raiders as they will be 5 points back with 11 games to play. I don't know where Regina is going to finish when all is said and done, but they are going to be a tough out.

-- Speaking of tough outs, are you ready? Are you ready to invest yourselves in the Toronto Blue Jays like you did last summer or will you wait again until August 1 as most non-baseball fans did. Spring training is underway across Major League Baseball, and in just over a month's time, it will be time to play ball. When Toronto opens the season, Jose Bautista will be in the lineup, but one has to think his time in Toronto is likely coming to an end. Word on the street is Bautista at the age of 36 wants a 5 year, 150 million dollar contract. Do the math and yes, that's 30 million dollars a season. If I am the Blue Jays, I am saying thanks, but no thanks to that offer if it is indeed what Jose is looking for.  ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips says no team will take on that salary. No kidding! Take nothing away from what he has done for the team over the last few seasons, but contrary to what some say, he is not the face of the franchise anymore  as far as I am concerned. He was for the last couple of years, but that honor goes to reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson. Toronto has Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin locked up and chances are they will lock up Edwin Encarnacion to a far cheaper deal than what Bautista wants. Add to that, he is also a few years younger. There is a chance Bautista is back, and if he is, that is good news for Toronto, but don't be surprised if this is his last season in a Toronto uniform, and if they are out by the trade deadline, don't be surprised if his days in Toronto end in late July.  There's a reason the team was trying to get Cincinnati's Jay Bruce ( a rightfielder with pop in his bat) in a trade, and while that deal fell through, I wouldn't be shocked to see talks get revived.  The extra money can also go to shoring up that bullpen and perhaps adding another starter to go with Stroman, Estrada, Hutchison and Dickey.  A pitcher who could slot as the number 3 guy in that rotation would improve that area greatly. You also might want to think about what you are going to give Donaldson who will likely get a huge deal once his current two year deal is up. Would you rather have Donaldson for the next 5 or Bautista for the next 5 Jays fans?  The answer should be simple.

--A question was asked of me the other day about the Riders and their farewell season at Mosaic. The question was how hard will it be to get tickets and what are the Rider plans for the final home games at the old girl. I don't know is the answer. I would think its a guarantee that the Labour Day game is once again a sellout, and I would be shocked if the October 29 finale isn't a sell-out especially if we know there will be no home playoff game as the lights will get turned on for the final time that night. As for what the team has planned, I am sure they will let you know when the time is right, but I hope they honour the greats, and that they bring back the greats for one last ovation.  The likes of George Reed, Roger Aldag, Bobby Jurasin, Gene Makowsky, and others, many others deserve to get one last ride in the golf cart around the stadium hearing the cheers of the Rider Nation from the stadium where they became famous. The Riders do their best to make every home game a special one, and in this the final season or "The Farewell Season", I am sure they are ready to usher the old girl out in memorable fashion. Is it June yet?

--While I am sure the Riders will market "The Farewell Season" in the proper way, I don't know if CFL marketers know what they are doing. Then again, the same might be said for the players association.  What is it going to take for this league to do things properly? There is no hype being shown towards the CFL draft whatsoever.  South of the border, there is probably too much attention on the combine going on. NFL Radio was discussing quarterbacks and how scouts look at their pinky to thumb ratio to see if their hand is big enough. What is more important? Having a proper pinky to thumb length, throwing a 20 yard out to the sidelines or recognizing who is coming on the blitz and what kind of coverage you are facing.

  Back to the CFL and their non-hype. How about doing some promotion of the league's top draft-eligible players as we approach the big day. Keep that hype maching rolling in the off-season! As for the association, perhaps start talking to corporate Canada about how to get some CFL'ers involved in marketing campaigns of meaning (sorry Humpty's!!).  Players like Henry Burris, Mike Reilly, Weston Dressler and Zach Collaros amongst others should have their names attached to some company, Hell, if Jennifer Jones can do ads for Scott Paper, can't CFL players be involved in ads for some of their corporate sponsors. That isn't the league's fault, its the players associations fault. Several years ago, a high ranking member of the association told me you can't market CFL'ers nationally, but you can regionally. That was a load of horsecrap then, and it is now.

--The CKHS should be alive this weekend.

The U of R Cougars mens basketball team plays their first home playoff games since 2009 when they play the University of Winnipeg. If you are going to the games which tip off at 7 tonight, Saturday and Sunday if necessary, then I have three words for you. MAKE SOME NOISE!!

--If Jolene Campbell tossed and turned in her hotel room bed in Grande Prairie, one couldn't blame her. If her missed hit with last rock in 10 for the win was the last stone she throws at the Scotties, she won't forget it for a while, She knows that game was in her backpocket, and she has made that shot many times before. Alberta's Chelsea Carey knows they got lucky. Many rinks will be cheering for New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud to beat Manitoba's Kerri Einarsson in the final draw. CMON SYLVIE!!

--The Thunder know who did it, but we don't. Whoever paid off the Thunder mortgage with a 75-thousand dollar anonymous donation should be recognized for his good deed. He or she obviously doesn't want that though and that's fine. Whoever it is has helped Regina's junior football team out immensely.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Another Busy Weekend For U of R Athletics

At Home – Friday
Men's Basketball vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)
At Home – Saturday
Men's Basketball vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

At Home – Sunday
(if necessary) Men's Basketball vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

On the Road – Friday
Swimming at CIS Championships, Day 1 (Quebec City, Que.)
Wrestling at CIS Championships, Day 1 (St. Catharines, Ont.)
Track & Field at Canada West Championships, Day 1 (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Women’s Hockey at UBC, 7:00 p.m. PST (Vancouver, B.C.)

On the Road – Saturday
Swimming at CIS Championships, Day 2 (Quebec City, Que.)
Wrestling at CIS Championships, Day 2 (St. Catharines, Ont.)
Track & Field at Canada West Championships, Day 2 (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Women’s Hockey at UBC, 7:00 p.m. PST (Vancouver, B.C.)

On the Road – Sunday
Swimming at CIS Championships, Day 3 (Quebec City, Que.)
(if necessary) Women’s Hockey at UBC, 3:00 p.m. PST (Vancouver, B.C.)

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars finished the Canada West schedule with an 11-9 record after a weekend split with Saskatchewan that saw them lose on Friday, but come back for an 84-74 win on Saturday. The win solidified fifth place in the Pioneer Division for the U of R, and with it a home date against Winnipeg in a best-of-three Canada West play-in series in what will be the first men’s basketball postseason games played in Regina since the 2008-09 season. The Cougars and Winnipeg will tip off at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport with a third game – if necessary – to be played on Sunday, also at 7 p.m. The winner of the series will meet Thompson Rivers in the Canada West quarterfinals.

Swimming – Five Cougars will represent the University of Regina at the 2016 CIS Championships this weekend in Quebec City, including Noah Choboter, Brent Hill, Lexy King, Eva Madar, and Chris Myers. Choboter and Madar are the U of R’s top-ranked swimmers coming into the meet, with Choboter being ranked in the top 12 in the CIS in each of the three backstroke events – including the 50 back, where his time of 25.69 seconds is the seventh fastest registered by a CIS athlete this season. Madar, a butterfly specialist, is ranked ninth in the 200-metre butterfly and 10th in the 100 fly.

Wrestling (Women’s CIS Ranking: No. 7 / Men’s CIS Ranking: No. 9) – Nine Cougars will wrestle at the CIS Championships hosted by Brock University this weekend. Leading the women's side are veterans Kayla Brodner and Kristine Longeau, both Canada West gold medalists who will be joined by third-year grappler Indyhra Linares and rookie Erica Ravelo. The men will send five wrestlers, including conference gold medalist Gaelan Malloy. Also wrestling on the men’s side this weekend are Sean Belisle, Lucas Hoffert, and newcomers Daniel Amberson and Waylon Decoteau.

Track & Field – The Cougars will make the short trip north to Saskatoon this weekend to compete in the Canada West Championships at the Saskatoon Field House. The men’s team enters the meet with two athletes ranked in the top three of the 60-metre dash, with Tevaughn Campbell as the top-ranked athlete with a season-best time of 6.78 seconds and Kahlen Branning seeded No. 3 (6.94 s). Branning is also ranked No. 3 in the 300-metre dash with a seed time of 34.28 seconds, while Ahmed Alkabary has the conference’s top performance in the long jump (7.17m) and Arthur Ward ranks second in the triple jump with a season-best effort of 14.22 metres. Joy Becker leads the women’s team, as she’s ranked second in the long jump (6.01 s) and third in the 60-metre dash (7.67 s).

Women's Hockey – The Cougars travel to Vancouver this weekend to take on the No. 8-ranked UBC Thunderbirds in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series. The Cougars earned a spot in the semifinals by sweeping the sixth-seeded Calgary Dinos on home ice last weekend, taming the Dinos with 4-1 and 1-0 wins. Chelsea Perepeluk, Caitlin Dempsey, Kylie Gavelin and Jaycee Magwood scored in the opener, while Bailey Braden’s goal and 29 saves by Toni Ross were enough to put the Dinos away on Saturday.

Women’s Basketball (CIS Ranking: No. 5) – In front of a packed CKHS both nights, the Cougars and provincial rival Saskatchewan split a thrilling two-game weekend set. Regina took an 83-78 win on Friday night to set up a winner-takes-all showdown for first place in the Pioneer Division on Saturday, but the Huskies pulled out an 81-72 win the next night. The Cougars’ second-place finish in the division gives them a first-round bye and home court for a best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series against Calgary, which is scheduled to begin next Friday, Mar. 4.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars closed out the 2015-16 season with two road losses at Saskatchewan, as the Huskies won in three sets on Friday and in four sets on Saturday. They were the final matches in a U of R uniform for Andre Borgeaud, Jacques Borgeaud, and Matthew Lueck – and all three leave significant marks on the school’s record book. Jacques Borgeaud once again broke the U of R’s single-season record for digs this year (238) and finishes as the school’s all-time leader in career digs (950) and sets played (360). Andre Borgeaud retires as the U of R’s career leader in service aces (56), while Lueck finishes second in career aces (48) and in the school’s top ten in both kills and digs.

Women’s Volleyball – The 2015-16 season finished for the Cougars last weekend at Saskatchewan, where they lost twice to the Huskies to close out the conference schedule. The lone fifth-year player on this year’s team, Tori Glynn finishes her career as the only player in school history to record at least 750 kills and 750 digs since the rally point was instituted prior to the 1999-00 season. Glynn’s career total of 774 digs ranks second in the U of R record book.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Getzlaf to Edmonton?

The Edmonton Eskimos are expected to sign veteran Canadian receiver Chris Getzlaf in the next few days.

According to a member of the new Saskatchewan Roughriders football operations staff, the 33-year-old free agent was not extended an offer to return to their club where he spent the better part of his highly productive eight-year CFL career. Word is the veteran did not fit into new GM and head coach Chris Jones’s well-branded philosophy of younger and cheaper.

It’s a similar situation to the one Fred Stamps faced in Edmonton, the only CFL team he had played for before Jones & Co. showed up. After sitting on the bench for much of 2014, the beloved Eskimos vet was traded to the Montreal Alouettes last year in exchange for Kenny Stafford, nine years younger. Stafford quickly established himself, leading the team with nine touchdown receptions.

Ironically, Stafford has since rejoined the Alouettes in free agency. But a far more stinging loss for the Eskimos in free agency was the disappointing departure of talented young Canadian receiver Shamawd Chambers, who opted to follow Jones to rival Saskatchewan. One of two first-round draft picks by the Green and Gold in 2012, Chambers was starting to come into his own at age 26, as evidenced by his selection as the Most Outstanding Canadian in this past November’s Grey Cup.

Now, almost three months later, this is where the imminent Getzlaf signing comes in, because it’s Canadian for Canadian in a league where each club is required to start seven Canadians.

Born and raised in Regina alongside younger brother Ryan of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, Chris was a Round 5 draft pick (33rd overall) by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2007.

After a couple of months in Hamilton, he was acquired by then Roughriders GM Eric Tillman (Jason Armstead swapped for Corey Holmes and Getzlaf), where he went on to amass 5,686 yards and 37 touchdowns on 367 catches. The hometown hero participated on two championship Riders teams, including the 2007 Grey Cup during the same year his brother hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Ducks.

Success in Saskatchewan, though, proved to be a double-edged sword in the CFL’s salary-cap era. It brought a big price tag as the years progressed and placed Getzlaf among a group of veteran Roughriders making north of $200,000 a year.

After an ugly 3-15 season, the new Chris Jones era brought rapid change in Riderland. Productive but high-salaried veterans like John Chick and Weston Dressler were cut, and the club simply declined to offer Getzlaf, who has missed 13 games due to injuries the past two seasons, a new contract.

Having those three paycheques off the books — and restructuring the contract of the team’s biggest ticket, quarterback Darian Durant — allowed the Roughriders to create the cap space that allowed them to be among the most aggressive in CFL free agency, which included signing four former Eskimos: Chamber, Kendial Lawrence, Otha Foster and Andrew Jones.

In Saskatchewan, it’s about rebuilding, but in Edmonton, it’s about repeating. Coaching and player departures aside, the Eskimos are once again expected to be among the CFL’s elite clubs. If healthy, the anticipated signing of Getzlaf would certainly enhance those lofty expectations, but the move could not be confirmed as general manager Ed Hervey declined the request for an interview on this anticipated addition.

(Edmonton Journal)

NOTE: The Eskimos confirmed the signing late Thursday afternoon

Riders Sign Four to Contracts Including A Quarterback

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced international quarterback/receiver Armanti Edwards, international defensive back David Barks, international linebacker Samuel Eguavoen, and international linebacker D.J. Lynch have all signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contracts were not released.

Edwards (5’11 – 190) signs with the Riders after spending five seasons in the National Football League as a receiver. The 27-year-old played 39 regular season games through four seasons with the Carolina Panthers after being selected by the team in the 3rd round (89th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Greenwood, South Carolina product added two more regular season games in 2013 after joining the Cleveland Browns midseason.

Before pro, Edwards spent four seasons at Appalachian State University, starting 49 of 51 collegiate games at quarterback, where he led the Mountaineers to four straight Southern Conference championships and consecutive NCAA Div. 1 Football Championships (FCS) in 2006 and 2007. During his tenure, Edwards became the first quarterback in NCAA Div. 1 history to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards on his way to picking up All-Southern Conference 1st Team honours in 2006, 2008, and 2009.

Barks (6’0 – 185) joins the Riders after spending the previous four seasons at Northwood University. In 39 career collegiate games, the Detroit, Michigan native registered 116 defensive tackles, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, and one quarterback sack.

Eguavoen (6’0 – 227) joins the Green and White after playing four seasons at Texas Tech. The 23-year-old registered 225 defensive tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 quarterback sacks and one interception in 48 career collegiate games.

Lynch (6’0 – 252) signs with the Riders after playing 48 career collegiate games through four seasons at Bowling Green University. The 23-year-old collected 230 defensive tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, and eight quarterback sacks.


The Montreal Canadiens celebrating hitting one million Twitter followers by creating a bot to put Twitter handles on Habs jerseys.

When the Montreal Canadiens reached 1 million Twitter followers Tuesday night, they decided to throw an avatar party, but it very quickly got out of hand.

These custom avatars were designed to feature Twitter handles on a jersey featuring 1M instead of the famous CH. Fans who tweeted the hastag #CanadiensMTL1M were autotweeted a jersey with their name on it, but without a strong enough filter, the Twitter bot spewed out racist and offensive handles along with legit ones (and a couple from Leafs fans who liked the look of Go Leafs Go on a Habs jersey).

The Habs apologized Wednesday morning and removed the offensive tweets from their feed. Very few of the racist tweets were retweeted.

(Montreal Gazette)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

UFC 196 Main Event Is Off

Rafael dos Anjos has been forced to withdraw from next week's highly-anticipated UFC 196 main event fight against Conor McGregor.

According to multiple sources, dos Anjos suffered a broken left foot last Friday, forcing him to pull out of the lightweight title fight against McGregor. The Brazilian was hoping the injury would get better over the weekend but when it didn't his team had to make the call to cancel the fight on Monday.

The UFC is currently working on finding a replacement to fight McGregor on less than two weeks' notice, however, nothing has been finalized at this time.

It's déjà vu all over again for McGregor. Last summer, then-featherweight champion Jose Aldo withdrew from his fight against the Irishman just eleven days before UFC 189. Of course, back then, the UFC adjusted quickly and booked Chad Mendes to fight McGregor and the event went off without a hitch. Furthermore, this marks the fourth time in McGregor's eight UFC fights that his original opponent was forced to pull out of their fight.

McGregor, the current featherweight champion, was on the verge of history, as he was hoping to become the first fighter in the promotion's history to hold two belts at the same.

According to dos Anjos' coach Rafael Cordeiro, RDA won't need surgery on his injured foot at this time, however, he can't put any pressure on it for at least three weeks.

"I am devastated," he said, "because we were preparing well for this fight and we were ready."

Thus far, members of Team Donald Cerrone and Team Anthony Pettis, including Pettis himself, have openly campaigned for the fight. Nate Diaz and Frankie Edgar have also been considered, however, Edgar is currently injured.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Pats Forward Adam Brooks Named WHL Player of The Week

The Western Hockey League announced today that Regina Pats forward Adam Brooks has been named the WHL Player of the Week for the week ending February 21st, 2016.

Brooks recorded 13 points (5g-8a) in four games to lead the Regina Pats to a perfect record of 4-0-0-0 for the week.

On Monday, February 15th against the Swift Current Broncos, Brooks tallied an assist and scored the shootout winner as Regina prevailed with a 4-3 victory. On Wednesday, February 17th, Brooks lit the lamp three times to notch a hat-trick while also collecting an assist to lead the Pats to a 4-2 win over the Prince Albert Raiders. The Regina Pats captain continued his impressive play with a career-high six points (2g-4a) against the Kootenay ICE on Friday, February 19th. Brooks also earned a plus-5 rating and first star mentions as the Pats came away with a 7-5 victory. On Sunday, February 21st, Brooks capped off a productive week as he notched two assists against the Edmonton Oil Kings in a 3-1 victory.

The 19-year-old Winnipeg, MB native has collected 97 points (33g-64a) in 58 games this season to sit second overall in scoring amongst all WHL skaters. The 5-10, 175 lb forward is in his fourth WHL campaign with Regina and has amassed 182 points (71g-111a) in 237 career WHL regular season contests.

NHL Three Stars of Week

Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr,Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula and Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 21.


Jagr scored three goals in three games to move into sole possession of third place in NHL history and help the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers (34-18-7, 75 points) pick up five out of a possible six standings points. He celebrated his 44th birthday - becoming the 10th player (and second forward) in League history to appear in a game at that age or older - in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 15. Jagr then scored the team's lone goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks Feb. 18. He capped the week with two goals, the 741st and 742nd of his career, to move past Brett Hull (741) and into sole possession of third place in NHL history in a 3-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Feb. 20. The Kladno, Czech Republic, native has collected 20-23-43 in 56 games this season, reaching the 20-goal milestone for the 19th time - tied for the third-most such campaigns in League history with Dave Andreychuk and Brendan Shanahan.


Haula shared first place in the NHL with 2-5-7 in four games to lead the Wild (27-22-10, 64 points) to a sweep of their four contests, including a victory in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. He began the week with a pair of multi-point performances, recording 0-2-2 in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Feb. 15 and 1-1-2 in a 5-3 victory against the Calgary Flames Feb. 17. After being held off the scoresheet in a 5-2 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers Feb. 18, the University of Minnesota alumnus registered 1-2-3 - his first career three-point game (171 GP) - in a 6-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 21 in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The 24-year-old Pori, Finland, native has picked up 7-13-20 in 53 appearances this season, matching a career high in goals while setting personal bests in assists and points.


Anderson posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.58 goals-against average and .951 save percentage to backstop the Senators (28-26-6, 62 points) to three straight wins. He made 38 saves and denied both shootout attempts he faced in a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Feb. 16. Anderson then stopped 30 shots in a 4-2 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes Feb. 18. He closed the week by making 29 saves and turning aside all three shootout attempts he faced in a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 20. The 34-year-old Park Ridge, Ill., native has compiled a 25-19-4 record in 48 outings this season, including a 2.76 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and three shutouts.

(NHL Media)

Something To "Mitch" About

Where would curling be if it wasn't for TSN, and what would Vic Rauter be doing if it wasn't for curling?  The Toronto Star published a tremendous article on the Canadian broadcasting icon, (and yes, he is) on the weekend as Vic settled in for yet another Scotties Tournament of Hearts. It is the 30th year he has been the "voice of curling" in this country and on Saturday afternoon at 230 when he came on and said "Hello Canada, and welcome to Grande Prairie, Alberta for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts", you know the next month is his time to shine with the Scotties, the Brier and then the Worlds. Former TSN compadre Jay Onrait refers to Rauter in the article as "The Vin Scully of Curling". I can't argue that. Vic, along with Linda Moore and Ray Turnbull to start, and now Russ Howard and Cheryl Bernard bring the game right into our living rooms and while the sport isn't pleasing to some, more than a million watch the final of the Brier and the Scotties (which is more than some CFL games in the past couple of years) as they make you feel right at home. As was evidenced in Moose Jaw last year, Vic is as popular to those in attendance as players like Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan and Stefanie Lawton. When it comes to the popularity of himself and the game, Vic as he always does deflects anything away from him by saying in the article "“People will often say hockey is the lifeblood of the country, but I’ll tell you, there are plenty of towns, particularly in the Prairies, where there’s no hockey arena, but there’s a curling club.”  I can't argue with that.


Those who know me know I am a huge supporter of U of R Athletics. Getting a chance to speak with the coaches and players of the respective teams on "Locker Talk" on Access every week just reminds me what great ambassadors for the U of R these student-athletes are.  Having done p x p of Cougars basketball for Access in the old gym and the CKHS along with having the privilege to be the public address announcer for the basketball teams the last few years obviously means I have a soft spot for both programs, and I was delighted to see what did on Friday.  The gym was full for the womens game against the U of S. I think it is the first time I have seen it that way in any game that wasn't national championship related.

 I went to Friday's game as a spectator seeing another engagement prevented me from doing p-a duties. When you have two of the top 5 teams in the country going at it, you would expect a great game and it was with Regina winning in the end. As I sat in the stands before moving courtside, the people just kept flowing in. It was great to see and with playoff basketball on the horizon for both the men and women, I hope the trend continues. I will say this though for those in attendance. It's OK to cheer and get loud! A group of Huskies fans were in the crowd Friday night---about 10 or so---and they made more noise than the pro-Cougar crowd that was in there. When Katie Polischuk hit a 3 in the 1st half, I let out a yell and had several look at me as if I needed to be committed. Its OK to cheer people. It really is! It's something that has affected those at the Brandt Centre from time to time when watching Pats games too. We don't sit on our hands at Rider games, so why do we do it elsewhere! Bottom line is the Cougars will be home the next two weekends with Winnipeg here to play the men in a best of three next weekend and Calgary here for a date against the ladies team in two weeks team. Many will be in the gym so why don't you make some noise for something other than a free t-shirt!


From what I was told, Saturday night was a great night at the CKHS too, but like many others in Regina on Saturday night, I was at Brad Paisley.

The Brandt Centre was sold out for one of the top performers in country music and he showed everyone why with a great night of music. He sang all his great songs like "Whiskey Lullaby", "Online", "Ticks", and "Crushin It". When he went into "Country Nation" and Rider highlights came on behind him on the video-board, the crowd went nuts. Nice touch Brad! The Regina stop was his last Canadian one after being in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. I am guessing he didn't go to Winnipeg because he couldn't find any Bomber highlights to insert into the package.


Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun points out that the CFL season opener featuring the Ti-Cats and Argos at BMO Field will happen on the same night as the NBA draft. It is safe to assume more attention will be paid on what the Raptors are doing with their future than what the Argos are doing with their present. Did anyone take a look at any potential conflicts? 


Friday's column in which I placed the Stampeders ahead of the Eskimos in the standings caught the attention of many people including Bo Levi Mitchell and Odell Willis who both tweeted out responses. There are some out there who believe Edmonton will go first from worst in the West. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. 

I would have loved to see the Minnesota Wild honor the North Stars by wearing their jersey for Sunday's outdoor game against the Blackhawks. The alumni wore it at an old-timers game the night before. That jersey was great! 

During Sunday's outdoor game, the NHL on NBC gave an all-Minnesota team of players currently playing in the NHL. What would an all-Saskatchewan team look like? Braden Holtby would be the startting goalie, you would have guys like Jared Cowen, Matt Dumba and Nick Schultz on the blueline with the forwards having the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Bozak and Brayden Schenn on it. I think it would be cool if we could have an all-Canadian tournament featuring a Team BC, a Team Alberta, a Team Sask/Man, a Team Ontario, Team Quebec and Team Maritimes. Alas, that is just a pipe-dream. It would be a great event though. 


There are some out there suggesting Kobe Bryant is greater than Michael Jordan. I can only laugh at that. Yes, it is well known I am not the biggest Kobe fan, but it isn't even close as far as I am concerned as to who the better player is. I'm not even sure if Kobe is the greatest Laker to ever wear the purple and yellow with that honour likely going to Kareem or Magic Johnson. 


If anyone is wondering why Jordan Spieth shot one of his worst ever rounds on Thursday at the Northern Trust Open, look no further than this blogger who took Spieth in a 5 dollar Draftkings contest. The luck of Scruffy rings true again! 


That's all I got. Have a great week! 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Jennifer Jones Looks To Add Another Scotties to her Resume

A victory at the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie will further cement Jennifer Jones’ place as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

One more national title under Jones’s name make her the first skip to win back-to-back championships on separate occasions. Jones, along with second Jill Officer, and lead Dawn McEwen claimed the 2008, ’09, and ’10 championships as Teams Manitoba and Canada. Winning last season’s Scotties event in Moose Jaw, Sask., has set up the potential to win back-to-back again. While third Kaitlyn Lawes was not part of the previous championship run, she can help etch her team’s name in the history books by winning her second national championship at Revolution Place.

A 2016 Scotties victory would be the sixth for Jones and Officer and put them in elite company. The pair would join Colleen Jones at the top of the record book for most national championships won.

It’s hard to imagine Jones finishing outside of the playoff picture at the 2016 Scotties. When it comes to qualifying for the final four, Jones has been perfect since her Scotties debut in 2002, qualifying for the playoffs in all 11 of her appearances so far.

Jones won her first national championship in 2005 with a last-end in-off shot – dubbed ‘The Shot’ – to defeat Ontario’s Jenn Hanna 8-6. While McEwen was on the ice for the game, she was playing for Hanna’s team at the time. Hanna returns to the mix at this year’s event and fans will be treated to a rematch of that game on Feb. 25 during the evening draw.

In 2006 Jones played her way to the final and was hoping to seek her first back-to-back championship; however, she lost in the final to British Columbia’s Kelly Scott. Scott once again eliminated Jones during the semifinal in 2007.

The team’s first back-to-back championship run started in 2008 with a 6-4 win over Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink and they went on to win that year’s world championship. In 2009, Jones defeated Marla Mallett 8-5 in the final, and claimed a third consecutive championship with an 8-7 victory against PEI’s Kathy O’Rourke in 2010.

Jones, now armed with Lawes at third, aimed to match Colleen Jones’s fourth consecutive Scotties championship in 2011, but she was edged 8-7 by Amber Holland of Saskatchewan. In 2012, Jones settled for bronze after losing to Heather Nedohin of Alberta in the semifinal, and defeating Marie-France Larouche 8-6 in the bronze medal game.

In 2013 Jones went undefeated through the round robin, but was bested by Ontario’s up-and-coming (at the time) team of Rachel Homan 9-6 in the final.

The following year Jones was not at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the first time since 2004 that she did not appear. But she and her Winnipeg team had their sights set on another prize. In 2014, Jones went on an undefeated run to win her first Olympic gold medal.

The team returned to the Scotties in 2015 and wasted no time climbing to the top of the podium. Jones defeated Val Sweeting of Alberta 6-5 at last season’s event.

(Curling Canada)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Riders Add Three on Defence

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced international defensive lineman Sage Harold, international linebacker Dede Lattimore, and international defensive back Johnathan Shuler have all signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contracts were not released.

Harold (6’3 – 245) joins the Riders after attending training camp with the Washington Redskins last season, playing three preseason games before being added to the teams practice squad.

The 24-year-old originally signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent after four standout seasons at James Madison where he collected 117 defensive tackles, 25.5 quarterback sacks and 13 forced fumbles in 41 career collegiate games.   

Lattimore (6’0 – 237) signs with the Green and White after spending parts of the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears. The 25-year-old originally signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in May, 2014. The University of South Florida product went on to play ten regular season NFL games as a rookie in 2014.

Lattimore returned to the Bears training camp in 2015 where he played one preseason game.  

Shuler (6’1 – 188) has signed with the Riders after spending four seasons at Austin Peay. The Nashville product collected 225 total defensive tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and two quarterback sacks in 44 career collegiate games.

Last season, Shuler attended rookie camp with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent.   

This and That

Welcome to Friday and the usual set of weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.

--CFL fans got what they wanted at high noon on Thursday. The schedule is here, and no sooner did it come and the bitching started. There is no happy medium in this marketplace for when Rider games are as everyone loves one time, but hates another. You can't please everyone.  I'm OK with it. I am a guy who likes Saturday home games and there are five of them, The Thursday night game comes the night before Canada Day so that is fine. The league still has a desire to go head to head with the NFL on Sundays, and that is OK too as football fans will make their decision as to what brand they want to watch. Some day the CFL will learn, but it won't be in 2016. 

--While I am OK with the schedule, I do have one question,  That is why is it in a nine team league, we have back to back games?  The Labour Day games are fine as those are tradition, but do we really need a back to back against the Stampeders and a back to back against the Lions to finish off the season? 

--Some in Winnipeg were not happy when I asked on Twitter Wednesday how signing four members of the 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders that were 3-15 is going to improve their football team. They seem to think that those four will fit nicely into their rebuild.  While I do think Weston Dressler will help them immensely, I am not sold on the other three making a major impact with the club. Are they falling for false hope once again in Winnipeg? It would appear as if the answer is yes. 

--Speaking of Dressler, I had the chance to see "Steve Largent--A Football Life" on the NFL Network. I don't know why I never thought of it before being a Seahawks fan, but Dressler is a modern day Largent with the way both play the game. 

--Who holds the balance of power in the West right now after a wild off-season? Winnipeg believes they are stronger, and certainly the additions of Andrew Harris and Dressler make them better. BC hasn't really done a lot, but they do have Wally Buono as head coach again. Edmonton is substantially weaker than the team that held the Grey Cup high in November, Calgary is not the team it was by losing players like Jon Cornish, Jeff Fuller and Keon Raymond while the Riders have improved themselves which really is no shock when you consider a 4 win team in 2016 would be an improvement.  While it pains me to write it, the power in the West once again resides in Calgary--at this time. They have the best quarterback in Bo Levi Mitchell,  and from top to bottom have the best looking roster.  After that, I would say Edmonton with the other three then fighting it out for 3rd. 

--A member of the Regina football community said to me this week "I wish Craig Reynolds was in charge of the Rams!". I didn't get where this was going, so when I asked, the response was "It took Reynolds how long to hire Chris Jones after the CFL season was over and its taking how long for the Rams to get their new head coach?  It has been a month since the search started for a new individual, and yes, they are getting close as they indicated Thursday it is between former Rams defensive back Sheldon Gray and former Rams linebacker Stephen Bryce. Many wanted it to be Scott McAulay, but the Thunder coach is turning down the chance to join Frank McCrystal as Rams coaches to have a CIS win under their belt by saying he is staying with the Thunder, and more importantly staying with his job with Pfizer. That was certainly a consideration I am sure he wrestled with, but he has two great gigs and he would have had to give up his job with Pfizer to join the Rams.

 It is too bad for the University football team because he was the right guy in my mind (and was a year ago as well), and in the minds of many others, but it is great news for the Thunder who I expect will once again challenge the Hilltops for junior football supremacy in not only this province, but Canada. As for the Rams, they have got two guys who know what makes this football team tick, and I am hoping they don't make the same mistake that was made last time around when they had the wool pulled over their eyes. I think they'll be fine, but whether it be Gray or Bryce, there is some work to do. Both of those gentlemen know that. Here is one thing for certain---2016 won't be the same as it was in 2015. 

--Did Steve Yzerman really have to come out and say the team wasn't trading Steve Stamkos at the deadline? Doing that would completely blow up any chance the Lightning have of returning to the Stanley Cup final and perhaps winning it.  Yes, it may have put some people at ease, but I don't think anyone really seriously considered trading for Stamkos unless he was signed to a new deal and I don't think any of the contenders have the cap space to do that right now.

--I thought a Canadian team could make the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it appears that won't be happening and that a Canadian team will likely have the number one draft pick meaning both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews will be playing on Canadian teams. The hockey world would most certainly riot if the gold card had the Oilers logo on it again.  I will be completely honest when I say this---I hope Matthews ends up as a Flame or a Jet. Having the game's youngest marquee players in Western Canada would be outstanding and if he were to land in Calgary, it would guarantee a huge revival of the Battle of Alberta. 

--All of the Canadian teams will be sellers at the deadline so perhaps this is a question to ask after the trade deadline, but what team has the best looking roster moving forward. When you have McDavid, you could say the Oilers, but Calgary is very balanced and would be better with a number one goalie, Montreal would be better if they had some scoring and will be better when Carey Price is back, and Winnipeg has a lot of good young talent in Ehlers, Trouba and Schiefele to go along with guys like Byfuglien, Ladd, Little and Wheeler. I'm not sure why the wheels fell off in Ottawa while Vancouver and Toronto are just messes with a lot of work to do. Bottom line is I see this Canadian failure this year being a blip on the radar. 

--I wonder how US teams will react if Auston Matthews ends up in Canada just like McDavid did. It will be great for Sportsnet and TSN, but it will suck for that audience Gary Bettman wants so desperately to have. Buffalo and Columbus are really the only American hopes. After tanking last year and not getting McDavid, I really don't want to see Buffalo get Matthews. 

--It would be nice to see Dennis Wideman just accept his punishment like a man wouldn't it? Talk about phony! By the way, how is it Bettman and the NHL get to see text messages? It's a good job Tom Brady isn't an NHL'er!!!

--It is starting to get ugly in Montreal and I can't see Michel Therrien and PK Subban co-existing for much longer after the defenceman got called out by his coach and then benched. Both are taking a lot of heat for what is happening in Montreal, and some have seen Subban was bailed out wayyyyy too many times for bad plays by Carey Price. I have never been the biggest Subban fan, and it would seem Montreal fans are starting to wake up and smell the coffee. This just in--PK won't go anywhere, but Therrien will be on the unemployment line shortly after the NHL season ends. There is no way he can stay now even if Montreal should find a way to get in the playoffs

--This winter has been very un-Saskatchewan like as we all know, Am I the only one thinking we will pay for what we have been given this year?

--I don't care what anyone says. What Moose Jaw Warriors forward Dryden Hunt has done over the past two weeks has to be one of the all-time great feats in hockey. Four hat-tricks in five games? I am guessing many of the greats have not accomplished that.

--People ask me how far I think the Pats can go in the WHL playoffs. I don't know! That team has been so hot and cold this year that they remain a mystery to me. If they are a mystery to me, I can't imagine what they are to John Paddock. Whoever draws them in the first round should have a battle on their hands. 

--Good luck to Jolene Campbell and her rink from the Regina Highland as they compete at the Scotties in Grande Prairie starting tomorrow, Methinks Jolene is going to surprise some people and land herself in a playoff spot, It will be hard to dethrone Jennifer Jones as champ, but she isn't going to get a free pass. 

--There are some big events on this weekend when it comes to the Cougars. Sarah Hodges' womens hockey team has a big quarter-final matchup against Calgary at the Co-Operators Centre while at the CKHS, the womens basketball team has a first place showdown against the U of S with the mens team looking to end the regular season on a strong note against the Huskies as they get ready for playoffs.  I'll be at the CKHS tonight and I'll be at the Co-Operators Centre for a Game 3 if its needed on Sunday. Brad Paisley takes priority on Saturday though, That should be a great show! 

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Riders Add Four

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced international receiver Etauj Allen, international running back Terrance Cobb, international offensive lineman Darryl Johnson and international offensive lineman Kamalie Matthews have all signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contracts were not released.

Allen (5’9 – 185) has signed with the Riders after playing three seasons at Ouachita Baptist University. The 25-year-old played 31 career collegiate games at defensive back, collecting 84 defensive tackles and three interceptions. He was named First Team All-Conference in 2013 and Second Team All-Conference in 2012.

Allen attended training camp with the Edmonton Eskimos last season as a receiver where he played one preseason game.

Cobb (5’11 – 220) returns to the Riders after attending training camp with the team in 2015. The 25-year-old originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent after establishing school records with 4,414 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns through four seasons at Cumberland College.

The Tennessee native also sent time with the Oakland Raiders after singing with the team in December, 2014.

Johnson (6’4 – 295) joins the Riders after spending four seasons at the University of New Mexico, playing 38 collegiate games. The Louisiana native went on to sign with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent and attended 2014 training camp.

He attended 2015 training camp with the Buffalo Bills after signing with the team in January.

Matthews (6’2 – 310) signs with the Green and White after playing 35 career collegiate games through three seasons at Murray State.

Last season, the 23-year-old Georgia native attended training camp with the Seattle Seahawks after signing with the team as a undrafted free agent.

2016 Riders Sked

This Week In Cougar Athletics

At Home – FridayWomen’s Basketball vs. Saskatchewan, 6:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey vs. Calgary, 7:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
Men’s Basketball vs. Saskatchewan, 8:00 p.m. (CKHS)

At Home – SaturdayWomen’s Basketball vs. Saskatchewan, 6:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey vs. Calgary, 7:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
Men’s Basketball vs. Saskatchewan, 8:00 p.m. (CKHS)
At Home – Sunday (if necessary)Women’s Hockey vs. Calgary, 7:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
On the Road – ThursdaySwimming at Speedo Eastern Canadian Open, Day 1 (Montreal, Que.)

On the Road – Friday (all times CST)Women’s Volleyball at Saskatchewan, 6:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Volleyball at Saskatchewan, 8:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Swimming at Speedo Eastern Canadian Open, Day 2 (Montreal, Que.)
On the Road – Saturday (all times CST)Women’s Volleyball at Saskatchewan, 6:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Volleyball at Saskatchewan, 8:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Swimming at Speedo Eastern Canadian Open, Day 3 (Montreal, Que.)

On the Road – Sunday
Swimming at Speedo Eastern Canadian Open, Day 4 (Montreal, Que.)
Women’s Hockey - The Cougars host a best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series beginning this Friday after finishing in third place in the conference standings after split with Saskatchewan over the weekend. They’ll host Calgary, a team which the Cougars defeated three out of four times in Canada West play this season. The first two games will go on Friday and Saturday, and a third and deciding game - if it’s needed - will be played on Sunday. Game time is set for 7 p.m. each night.
Women’s Basketball (CIS Ranking: No. 5) - The Cougars fell two spots in this week’s CIS Top Ten after a weekend split at Calgary, as they lost 95-83 in overtime on Friday night before recovering for an 83-71 win on Saturday. Now with a 16-2 conference record, the Cougars enter the final weekend of the season needing a sweep over No. 2-ranked Saskatchewan (17-1) to finish in first place in the Pioneer Division. The Cougars and the Huskies will tip off at 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
Men’s Basketball - Though the Cougars suffered 115-91 and 95-79 losses at Calgary last weekend, they clinched their first playoff berth since 2011 on Saturday thanks to Alberta’s road win over Saskatchewan. With one weekend left on the Canada West schedule, the Cougars (10-8) are one of four Pioneer Division teams with 10 wins and they can finish anywhere from fourth to seventh depending on the results of the next two games. They’ll host Saskatchewan at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the CKHS.
Swimming - After a weekend off from competition, the Cougars are back in the pool this weekend at the 2016 Speedo Eastern Canadian Open in Montreal. Noah Choboter, Brent Hill, Jacee Kaczmar, Lexy King, and Chris Myers will all compete this weekend as the team continues final preparations for this year’s CIS Championships, which will be hosted by Université Laval from Feb. 26 through Feb. 28.
Women’s Volleyball - The Cougars finish off their 2015-16 season with road matches at Saskatchewan this Friday and Saturday. It will be the final two matches in a University of Regina uniform for Tori Glynn, who will finish her career ranked second on the school’s all-time digs list and needs just two more service aces and three more kills to move into No. 4 in U of R history in both categories.
Men’s Volleyball - Coming off a bye week following a weekend split at MacEwan in early February, the Cougars will play their final matches of the season this Friday and Saturday at Saskatchewan. Fifth-year libero Jacques Borgeaud broke his own school single-season digs record in that MacEwan series and leads the entire CIS with 224 digs this year, while fellow fifth-year veterans Andre Borgeaud and Matthew Lueck will also be playing in the last matches of their career this weekend.
Track & Field - Three Cougars hit CIS standards over the weekend at the Golden Bear Challenge, including Ahmed Alkabary (long jump), Kahlen Branning (300-metre run), and Tevaughn Campbell (60-metre dash). That makes four U of R athletes who have automatically qualified for this year’s CIS Championships, as Joy Becker hit the mark in the long jump earlier this season. The Cougars will now rest up to prepare for the Canada West Championships, which will run on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at the University of Saskatchewan.
Wrestling (Women’s CIS Ranking: No. 7 / Men’s CIS Ranking: No. 9) - Competing at the Canada West Championships last weekend in Winnipeg, the Cougars got gold medals on the women’s side from Kayla Brodner (67 kg) and Kristine Longeau (72 kg), while Gaelan Malloy (72 kg) also won an individual championship on the men’s side. Those three all qualified for the CIS Championships with their performances at the conference meet, as do Erica Ravela and Indhyra Linares for the women’s team and Daniel Amberson, Sean Belisle, Waylon Decoteau, and Lucas Hoffert from the men’s side. The CIS meet will be hosted next weekend by the University of Alberta.
Men’s Hockey - The Cougars dropped a 5-3 decision at Saskatchewan last Friday, but bounced back for a 4-3 win over the No. 3-ranked Huskies on Senior Night at The Co-operators Centre. Brock Appleyard scored twice in his final game as a Cougar, while fellow fifth-year forward Sanfred King also scored in the season-ending win.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Riders Add One, Drop 3

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced international free agent defensive lineman Markus White has re-signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contract were not released.

White (6’4 – 264) will re-join the Riders for his third season in Green and White. Last season, the 28-year-old Florida State product played 10 regular season games, starting three, while collecting 15 defensive tackles, four special teams tackles, one quarterback sack, one tackle for loss, and a blocked punt.

White originally joined the team in May, 2014 going on to play one regular season game.

·         The Riders also announced they have released international offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick, national defensive back Keenan MacDougall, and international defensive back Nick Taylor.

Another Broom Brouhaha is Brewing In Curling

Curling's sweeping saga is heating up again ahead of the men's and women's Canadian curling championships.

The Frankenbroom controversy of 2015 has sprouted a second head on the eve of curling's marquee events and could create tension between teams.

The World Curling Federation declared a moratorium on broomheads with "directional fabric" in November with Curling Canada following suit. But new issues with currently legal brooms have left curling's governing bodies with little time to react before the Canadian championships.

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts main draw starts Saturday in Grande Prairie, Alta. The Tim Hortons Brier follows March 5-13 in Ottawa.

Brooms with brushheads featuring "artificially-textured" fabric and hard inserts were banned after almost 50 of the world's top teams declared they would not use them. The brooms were used to manipulate the trajectory of a thrown rock in unprecedented ways, and curlers were worried they would affect the integrity of the game.

But the brooms also spawned a radical directional sweeping technique, with one sweeper sweeping at a time instead of two simultaneously. One sweeper enhances the rock's curl, while the other sweeper is responsible for making the stone glide straight.

The technique continued after the Frankenbroom ban because sweepers can influence a stone's movement in the same manner, though to a lesser extent, with "legal" brooms.

Directional sweeping is a trending topic heading into the Scotties and Brier, but another broom brouhaha is brewing.

Brushes made with natural hog or horse hair were introduced to the sport in the 1980s, but have also undergone a recent transformation. They're now produced with synthetic hairs or a combination of synthetic and natural.

Hair brushes are legal under the rules and known to be effective in frosty ice conditions. They're in heavy use again because of directional sweeping.

But there is debate raging in the curling community over whether a hair brush scores the ice with the same intensity as the banned directional fabric and thus impacts a rock's movement the same way.

It has created bad feelings at some provincial championships in the form of pointed comments and complaining to officials.

"There's definitely been instances of tension," Alberta skip Chelsea Carey said. "It's basically been people disagreeing with hair brooms being legal or kind of taking the stance they already are illegal, which they are not.

"It really kind of puts a damper on what used to be a lot of fun and great camaraderie between teams and opponents and things like that, but now has become a bit contentious in some cases."

The WCF was pressed into hurry-up mode to study and address the directional fabric issue.

Curling Canada's high-performance director Gerry Peckham says there isn't enough time for the world governing body to do the same with hair brushes and come up with a policy for its member federations prior to the Scotties, Brier and the men's and women's world curling championships.

"How could you ever have anticipated that two different sweeping devices and two different products would both go through a manufacturing transition in such a short period of time, where one wasn't a viable option for the other?" Peckham asked.

"The perfect storm."

Newfoundland skip and Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue says testing his team has done proves a hair brush straight out of the box scratches the ice as much as the outlawed directional fabric does. Gushue's team has posted video of their testing on YouTube.

"A new hair brush has the exact same impact," Gushue said. "I'm hoping it gets banned before the Brier. It shouldn't be in play. We have too much control over the rock with those brooms."

But Gushue says if Glenn Howard's Ontario team pulls hair brooms out of their curling bags in Ottawa, his team will too.

If that sounds hypocritical, Gushue is not about to give up a competitive advantage to an opponent. The stakes, financial and competitive, are now too high in curling.

There's $1.5 million to be won in the Grand Slam of Curling, $100,000 in the annual Hot Shots, national and world titles on the line and berths to the Canada Cup, Continental Cup and Olympic trials to be gained.

"You can't play at a disadvantage," Gushue said. "We work too hard and spend too much time to allow not obviously just Glenn Howard, but any team that's there to have an advantage on us.

"We have all kinds of hair heads ready to go."

(Canadian Press)