Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Riders Sign Josh Bartel To Contract Extension

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today national punter Josh Bartel has signed an extension to remain with the team through 2019.

Bartel has spent two of his four CFL seasons with the Green and White after entering the league with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2012. The Australian-born punter was originally acquired by the Riders prior to the 2014 season. After sitting out the 2015 season, the 31-year-old returned to Saskatchewan for 2016.

Last year, Bartel had 134 punts for 6,046 yards (45.1 average) with an 86-yard long and four singles while leading the league with 18 punts finishing inside the opposition’s 10-yard line.

Through 67 regular-season games, Bartel has totaled 469 punts for 20,566 yards (43.9 average) and 15 singles. He was named an East Division All-Star in 2012 and 2013.

(Ryan Pollock/Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Argos Make It Official --- Jim Popp and Marc Trestman are new GM and HC

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Jim Popp and Marc Trestman have been hired to lead a new era of Argos Football, President and CEO Michael Copeland announced at a media conference at BMO Field today.

Popp becomes the Argos’ 19th General Manager and Trestman its 43rd Head Coach.

“I am thrilled to introduce Jim Popp and Marc Trestman as the ideal leaders to bring excitement, success, and pride back to Argos football,” Copeland said. “Since the start of this process, we targeted individuals who have experience in establishing winning cultures and programs.  With Jim and Marc, we have hired the absolute best in the business. They are consistent winners, exceptional leaders, and fierce competitors.”

As a General Manager in the CFL, Popp has won four Grey Cups (1995 with Baltimore, 2002, 2009 and 2010 with Montreal) and has appeared in 10. He ranks second in all-time wins by a GM with 254. Popp was the General Manager and Vice-President of Football Operations for the Montreal Alouettes from 1996 to 2016, and led the Alouettes to 10 first place finishes, eight East Division Championships and three Grey Cups. Named the 2011 Sports Media Canada Executive of the Year, Popp brings with him a wealth of CFL experience.

“I am honoured to join a franchise with such a rich history of winning and look forward to doing everything in my power to build on that,” Popp said. “My first order of business as the Argos’ General Manager was to hire a head coach that will lead us to championships. There is no one more capable than Marc Trestman to bring the Grey Cup back to Toronto. He is a proven winner, and the ultimate leader.”

Trestman was Head Coach of the Alouettes from 2008 to 2012, appearing in three Grey Cups and winning two (2009 and 2010). He ranks fourth all-time in winning percentage by a head coach. He led the Als to four division titles and five playoff appearances during his five-year term. Trestman was named the 2009 CFL Coach of the Year, and in 2013 left the Alouettes to become the head coach of the Chicago Bears.  He was originally brought to the CFL by Popp after a long and successful career in the NFL and NCAA in various coaching positions.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be the Head Coach of the Toronto Argonauts,” said Trestman. “We have a special opportunity to re-establish a winning culture for this storied franchise. I am humbled by this organization’s history of winning. But most importantly, I am motivated by it. I can’t wait to get started.”

“From the outset, we’ve set our sights on playing dominant and exciting football, and winning championships,” Copeland stated. “Popp and Trestman will provide the vision, experience and leadership required to reach these goals.”

(Toronto Argonauts)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Riders Sign University of Ottawa Receiver Mitchell Baines

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Picture: Courtesy University of Ottawa

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national receiver Mitchell Baines.        

Baines (6’2 – 215) joins the Green and White after spending the last five seasons at the University of Ottawa. The 25-year-old Ottawa native played 29 career collegiate games with the Gee-Gees, registering 125 receptions for 1,889 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Last season, Baines was named a Second Team U Sports All-Canadian and First Team OUA All-Star after leading the nation with 65 receptions and 984 yards – averaging 123 yards per game – while ranking third with eight touchdown catches.  

(Saskatchewan Roughriders)

NHL Three Stars Of Week

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 Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg, Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 26.


Forsberg led all skaters in goals and points (8-2—10 in 4 GP), including back-to-back hat tricks, as the Predators gained seven of a possible eight standings points to improve their record to 31-22-9 (71 points), third in the Central Division. On Feb. 21, Forsberg recorded his third career hat trick in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames and followed it up with another three-goal performance, including the winning goal, in a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 23. In doing so,

Forsberg became the first player in franchise history to record hat tricks in consecutive games and the first NHL player to achieve the feat since Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, 2010. Forsberg closed out the week with one goal and two assists in a 5-2 triumph over the Washington Capitals on Feb. 25 and one goal in a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 26. The 22-year-old Ostervala, Sweden, native leads the Predators in goals and sits second on the team in points with 24-22—46 in 62 games.


Toews recorded multi-point efforts in each of the Blackhawks three games (4-5—9) as Chicago won all three contests to improve their overall record to 39-18-5 (83 points), second in the Central Division. On Feb. 21, Toews matched career highs for goals (3) and points (5) in a game, including the winning tally, in a 5-3 victory over the Central Division-leading Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks captain then notched two assists in a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 23 before closing out the week with one goal and one assist in a 4-2 triumph over the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 26. The 28-year-old Winnipeg, Man., native is currently riding a six-game point streak (5-8—13).


Gaudreau recorded eight points (2-6—8) in four road victories to propel the Flames (33-26-4, 70 points) to the first Wild Card position in the Western Conference. He began the week with four assists in a 6-5 OT win over the Nashville Predators Feb. 21. On Feb. 23, he recorded one assist in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning before being held off the scoresheet in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Feb. 24. Gaudreau finished the week with two goals and one assist, including the winner, in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 26. A 23-year-old native of Salem, N.J., Gaudreau sits second in Flames scoring with 43 points (13-30—43) in 53 games.
(NHL Media)

Something To "Mitch" About

THE CANADIAN QB CONUNDRUM -  When will a Canadian quarterback do something of substance in the CFL and how do we get it to happen?  That is the topic being discussed again after University of Montreal coach Danny Maciocia said this week the CFL needs to adjust its ratio rules allowing for the development of Canadian QB's.  It's nothing we haven't heard of before. The question is how much longer until the CFL acts and does something. It would be nice to see the coaches and GM's lobby the league on this effort to get the ball moving, but that isn't happening.  There are good CIS quarterbacks out there, there are good CIS quarterbacks who have played, and there are good CIS quarterbacks coming up through the country.  Sadly, 99.5 percent of them have no shot at getting meaningful reps in the Canadian game. That isn't right.

I won't sit here and tell you quarterbacks like Regina's Noah Picton, McMaster's Asher Hastings, UBC's Michael O'Connor and Ottawa's Derek Wendel should be starters because they aren't at that level, but they are good enough to be on a CFL roster.  All credit goes to the Stampeders for keeping Andrew Buckley around.  With Drew Tate moving onto Ottawa, some wonder if Buckley has a chance to back up Bo Levi Mitchell. Why not? He knows the system and he knows the Canadian game. Calgary is developing Buckley the way other teams should around the league. These guys just need a chance.

Why waste an import (sorry, an international) on a 3rd string quarterback when you could give it to a Canadian QB?   I am all for a rule change on this matter because it is good for the CFL.  I'm not saying every Canadian university football program has a QB who can move on to the next level, but several are being ignored and that has to stop. The sooner the better.

That being said, I love the fact CFL Week next month will showcase Canada West QB's in a passing competition. I don't know why it is for first and second year players, and I don't know why all USports Canada schools are given an opportunity to send QB's here, but maybe it's a start.

HOMAN WINS THE SCOTTIES -  She might have been wearing Manitoba colours, but I think Saskatchewan curling fans for the most part were cheering for Michelle Englot as the week went on in St. Catharines.  Sunday's final was outstanding, and had Rachel Homan lost she would have no one to blame but herself as she made several very questionable calls including the one at the end, but in the end, she made the shots necessary to end what was an outstanding season by Michelle validating every move she made in the winter. I thought she was going to pull it out, and I think a lot of us in Saskatchewan did too.  DAMN! As the L-P's Murray McCormick put on Twitter, the award for best drama on Sunday night went to the Scotties final. It was tremendous!

By the way, judging by Michelle's Twitter account.  She was taking the loss well.....

This has to get her a sponsorship from Fireball doesn't it? 

THE PATS MOUNT RUSHMORE -  When the Regina Pats start play in the 2018 Memorial Cup, who will be here when it comes to alumni to be celebrated.  I would think with the 100th year of the team happening next season that there will be a strong link to the many greats who have worn the Pats crest on their chest over the years, but as is usually the case at the Memorial Cup, what players will be trotted out to center ice during the tournament for ceremonial puck-drops.  I would think Clark Gillies and Ed Staniowski are a given.  I would think Jordan Eberle would be here too unless he is still playing with the Oilers or whoever.  Who else?  There are oh-so-many to choose from. Would Adam Brooks make it? What about a Garth Butcher or a Barret Jackman? Jock Callander and Dale Derkatch never had NHL careers, but their performance in Pats uniforms were something Regina hockey fans cherished.  Get that debate going.  You've got basically 15 months to make the argument for and against.

HMMMMM - Satellite radio is the best.  Being able to listen to ESPN Radio, the Dan Patrick show, the Rich Eisen Show along with NHL, NFL and MLB Radio are outstanding.  It really is outstanding when there is talk about issues close to home as was the case Saturday afternoon.. NHL Radio was discussing the young Toronto Maple Leafs and what they will do come the trade deadline. There is a thought process out there the Leafs are going to trade William Nylander, but many are wondering why seeing he is considered as one of their young guns.  It was rationalized the reason why might be the play of Adam Brooks. There is apparently a thought process in T-O that Brooks could be a full time Leaf by this time next year as he will spend half a year with the Marlies and then get the call.  Nothing against Adam, but I will believe that when I see it as Mike Babcock usually takes his time with prospects in the minors. I do think we will see Brooks playing on Saturday nights in the near future and that he will be one of the pieces in the Leafs turn-around.  FWIW, the talking heads Saturday also mentioned it would be beneficial for the Avalanche and Tyson Jost to come to Regina next year to play in a Memorial Cup season. I agree!

BISHOP TO THE KINGS -  I haven't quite wrapped my head around this one yet. Yes, Tampa gets rid of a salary that likely means they can now keep Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson, but L-A. They just got Jonathan Quick back, and Peter Budaj did a helluva job holding down the fort in his absence. During Saturday's game against Anaheim, they were saying Budaj might be the Kings MVP this year.  While Bishop provides insurance for Quick, I gotta wonder of LA GM Dean Lombardi made this move to keep Bishop out of Calgary.  The Flames are in a playoff spot despite shaky goaltending, and getting Bishop likely puts them in at the expense of the Kings.  Why do I get this feeling if LA gets in, they will be a very tough out again this year.

BACK IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY -  The University of Regina Cougars womens basketball team are going to another Canada West final four.

Dave Taylor has his team one step away (one big step) from another berth at the national championship.  While Saturday's decisive Game 2 win was a little more difficult than anticipated, once Katie Polischuk and crew turned it up a notch, Trinity Western was unable to handle it as Regina moves on to the conference championship in Saskatoon next weekend where they will play a very tough Winnipeg team with the winner likely taking on the defending national champion Huskies for the conference title. Both teams will go to the national championship despite the result in the final and the bronze medal team may get in as well.

This team isn't as strong as other Cougar teams in the past, but they are still very good and they are still a legitimate threat to not only win Canada West, but go to Victoria and bring the program its 2nd national title. A roadie to Saskatoon may be in the works for next weekend. If not, thank goodness for Canada West TV..

Cougar Athletics also trotted out a video board for this weekend's games.  It looked great with word being what was seen on the weekend will be back only on a much bigger scale.  It gives the games a better look in the gym.  Well done!

DUHHHH -  During Saturday night's HNIC doubleheader, Patrick Marleau's name came up with the talk being A) How much longer does he have before retiring and B) Is he a hall of famer.  I don't know about A as he is 37, but B is a no brainer with the answer being yes.  The only thing he is missing is a Stanley Cup and god knows, he was on enough San Jose teams capable of winning one only to falter come playoff time.  He has 500 career goals, he has 1000 career points, he has I believe a World Junior gold, he has Olympic gold. He fits the criteria in this guy's books.

Did Steve Harvey have something to do with the way the Oscars ended? 

That's all I got. Have a great week! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The CFL's Canadian QB Problem Comes Up Again

He's traded in his cleats for a tool bag, studies wiring diagrams instead of play books and slings copper cable instead of leather footballs.

The only time Jordan Yantz is still a quarterback is when he plays flag football in Regina, where teams are constantly asking him to be their “ringer.”

“I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the game,” Yantz, working as a Level 2 apprentice electrician, was saying over the phone, Friday. “It sucks not playing.”

Like virtually every other Canadian university quarterback, the former Manitoba Bison's dream of playing professionally was sacked before it got any traction.

Yantz got into two training camps in B.C. while playing junior ball there and a couple in Winnipeg with the Bombers. Each time he got a, “Thanks for coming out.”

Depending on whom you ask, the lack of Canadians in the most important position on the field is either bordering on criminal or an unavoidable fact of life.

A league that mandates 20 Canadians on every roster, seven of them starters, hasn't had a homegrown star at quarterback in nearly 50 years. The last, Russ Jackson, retired in 1969.

There are currently two Canadian quarterbacks on CFL rosters – Andrew Buckley in Calgary and Brandon Bridge in Saskatchewan -- and that's two more than there were in many of those intervening years.

How to change that, and develop the next Jackson, is something CFL types have been wrestling with for years.

Former CFL head coach Danny Maciocia, now coaching the University of Montreal, says it's time the league adjusts its ratio rules and forces teams to carry a Canadian.

“They’ve got to step forward and show some leadership on this issue,” Maciocia told the web site

CFL rules say if you start a Canadian quarterback, it doesn't count towards the seven mandated starting Canadians each team must field.

That seems to provide a disincentive for teams to try out Canadians.

But Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters says it's a moot point, that forcing teams to place a Canadian at the No. 3 position would end up being little more than window dressing.

“You can mandate this, but you can't mandate to (coaches), 'Get him reps in practice.' They're going to want to play the best guy,” Walters said. “And training camps are so short. We're trying to figure out if Dom Davis has a future, and where's Dan LeFevour at – let alone mandating that this Canadian kid's going to be the No. 3 quarterback.”

There may be one or two Canadian kids good enough, but not one for every team.

Walters says most teams would have a third quarterback from the vast talent pool down south waiting on the practice roster, ready to leapfrog the Canadian in the event of an injury.

This coming from a Canadian GM who used to coach university ball and who'd love to find a way to develop homegrown signal-callers.

“Everybody's on board that of course it's a good idea,” Walters said. “Ok, how? And no one can come up with it.”

One idea is to reward teams that dress a Canadian with an extra American on the roster.

“Every team would do that,” Walters said. “We'd dress you as the third-string quarterback. In principle, that's great. And everybody would see Jordan Yantz standing on the sideline. If that's what you want to do just for the sake of appearance, by all means.

“I don't think that does anything for the development of Canadian quarterbacks.”

Unless they come to camp already better than their American competition, which rarely happens, they'll be little more than public-relations passers.

The presence of Buckley in Calgary is interesting.
The former star at the University of Calgary, a two-time Hec Crighton winner as the best player in the country, earned a role as the Stampeders' short-yardage and goal-line quarterback.
Still just 23, Buckley scored eight touchdowns as a rookie, tying a 54-year-old record for most rushing majors in a season.A record set by Jackson.

“He got in a few pre-season games and put a drive together and next thing you know he's scoring a touchdown in the Grey Cup,” Yantz said of his old college opponent. “It's times like that where I kind of kick myself and say, 'Damn, I wish I was in his shoes, or was given the opportunity to be able to do that.' It's about timing.”

Buckley's timing in Calgary might be even better this year: the Stamps traded Drew Tate to Ottawa, leaving the No. 2 position open behind starter Bo Levi Mitchell.

Or maybe Calgary will simply fill the hole with another import.

And we'll be no closer to finding the next Russ Jackson.

(Paul Friesen/Winnipeg Sun) 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Getting Down To Crunch Time In PJHL

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The Prairie Junior "B" Hockey League is in the middle of playoffs with division semi-finals getting underway.

The 2nd round begins Friday night.  Here's a look at the playoff schedule 

This And That

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

--Regina lost a true great this week. Gord Currie was a great football coach, a great educator and a tremendous man. The words of wisdom that he gave to many in this community will not be forgottten by those he spoke to. Many that played with him for the Rams know what type of individual he was as he shaped them to be the person they are today. His departure leaves a big hole in our community.

--We are in the homestretch of the WHL season, and it is safe to say someone has some explaining to do in the scheduling department.

Wednesday night's Pats game in Saskatoon was the end of a 5 game roadie which saw them play 6 games in 9 days in 6 different cities. On the March 3 weekend, they will play three games in three days with that third one being an afternoon game in Brandon.  That's insane!  I realize the league tries to do things in mind with keeping education at the forefront, but what the Pats are going through right now is just stupid as far as I am concerned.  I am sure if I looked at other teams I could find anomalies in their schedule too.

--Since when did NHL goalies become unable to play back-to-back nights?  Several times this year I have heard coaches say they didn't want their guy playing on back-to-back nights  because of the toll it would take on them.  I'm sure the legendary Glenn Hall laughs at that when he played over 800 consecutive games.  Goalies do need nights off, but I think its OK if you play them in back-to-back games.

--I have said before I think its ridiculous when a guy gets laid out in open ice with a hard, clean check that he then has to drop the mitts and stand up for himself as someone comes in.  The idea was floated out this week on NHL Radio that if a player comes after someone for delivering what is a clean check, he should be given a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct. I could not agree more!

--The Seattle Seahawks held a media combine this week for you know whats and giggles. I can truly hope the Saskatchewan Roughriders do not try to do the same thing. Then again, training camp is in Saskatoon and I won't be there so go ahead and do it up there.

--The Arizona Coyotes told their fans to stop doing the wave.  1) God bless the Arizona Coyotes and 2) They have fans??

--Baseball is back!!

--FS1 is getting rid of Jay and Dan. ?????   How that network can release those two and keep Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe around is beyond explanation.  I can't see it being much longer till TSN snaps them back up. Would they go in where Dutchy and Hedger are or would they take over their old slot and bump Kate and Natasha.  Can they go head to head against Tim and Sid doing the same type of show and rid of us of those two?  For that matter, would they go to Sportsnet? No matter where they go, many Canadians will follow including this guy.

--Thank you Chris Best!

--It may only be one win, but Penny Barker has one at the Scotties. It has been a tough week for the Moose Jaw rink, but at least she can take one positive away from the week. Maybe she can finish things off with another "W" today to finish off round-robin.  As for Michelle Englot, she just continues to roll along. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her game as this week has shown. I'm not betting against her in the playoffs.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gord Currie Dies at the Age of 93

Gord Currie, a legendary coach, teacher and Saskatchewan politician, has died at the age of 93.

Currie is best known for being a football coach.

He was the head coach of the Balfour Redmen high school football team leading them to eight provincial titles including six in a row from 1959-65.

During his time at Balfour, the team won 40 straight games at one point.

After leaving Balfour, Currie became the head coach of the Regina Rams and had as much success with them as he did with Balfour.

During his tenure, the Rams won 109 of their 136 games, one Alberta Junior League Championship, eight Manitoba-Saskatchewan League Championships, seven Western Canadian Junior Championships and six Canadian Championships. The final national crown coming in his last game in 1976.

Currie also spent time in politics as the Conservative MLA for the riding of Regina-Wascana and spent time in cabinet as the province’s minister of Advanced Education and Science and Technology.

He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1979, and was enshrined in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Currie Field, the home of the Regina Red Sox, was named after him.

Chris Best Calls It A Career

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today national offensive lineman Chris Best is retiring from the Canadian Football League.

Best is a veteran of 10 CFL seasons and played 114 career regular-season games after making his Rider debut July 8th, 2007. The Calgary native was originally selected by the Green and White in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2005 CFL Draft after spending four seasons at Duke University before transferring to the University of Waterloo to obtain his Masters in 2007.

Best also played in seven career playoff games and three Grey Cup games, winning in 2007 and 2013. He was named the Riders’ Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2011.

"I want to thank the Roughriders and entire province of Saskatchewan for everything they have done for me. It’s been an incredible privilege to play for the Roughriders for the past 10 years,” said Chris Best. “I want to give a special thanks to my coaches, teammates, and especially Rider fans for your continuous support over the years.”  

The 33-year-old Best, his wife Emily, and their daughter Libby have made Regina their home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Home Schedule – Thursday
Women’s Basketball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Friday
Track & Field – at Canada West Championships, 2:00 to 8:30 p.m. (Regina Fieldhouse)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Saturday
Track & Field – at Canada West Championships, 11:00 to 4:30 p.m. (Regina Fieldhouse)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Trinity Western, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS) – if necessary

Away Schedule – Friday
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 1 (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Wrestling – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 1 (Winnipeg, Man.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 2 (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Wrestling – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 2 (Winnipeg, Man.)

Away Schedule – Sunday
Swimming – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 3 (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Wrestling – at U SPORTS Championships, Day 3 (Winnipeg, Man.)

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 3) – The Cougars host a best-of-three conference quarterfinal series against Trinity Western starting on Thursday, with the winner advancing to the Canada West Final Four next weekend. Regina and the Spartans will tip off at 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, with the same start time set for Saturday if a third and deciding game is required. The two teams met twice in Langley in late November, with Regina taking 57-51 and 85-47 wins.

Track & Field – The Cougars host the 2017 Canada West Track & Field Championships this Friday and Saturday at the Regina Fieldhouse. Events are scheduled for 2:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and 11:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The women’s team is led by fifth-year athlete Joy Becker, who enters the meet ranked first in the conference in both the 60-metre dash and the long jump and second in the triple jump. Reagan Fedak is also ranked first in Canada West in the weight throw, while the men’s squad features No. 1-ranked Tevaughn Campbell (60-metre dash) and the top-ranked 4x400-metre relay team.

Swimming – The Cougars are in Quebec preparing for the 2017 U SPORTS Swimming Championships, which will be hosted from Friday through Sunday by the UniversitĂ© de Sherbrooke. Noah Choboter, Mitchell Hebert, Jong Hoon Lee, Brian Palaschuk, and Noah Wasyliw will all represent the men’s team, while Kendall Horan, Georgia Kaluznick, Lexy King, and Eva Madar qualified on the women’s side.

Wrestling (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 6 / Men’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 7) – Also getting ready for nationals this weekend are the wrestlers, who will make the relatively short trip east for the 2017 U SPORTS Wrestling Championships hosted by the University of Winnipeg. Amber Wiebe (51 kg), Dalynn McKay (67 kg), and Inga Hammer (82 kg) will compete for the women’s team, while Daniel Amberson (54 kg), Joshua Zimroz (57 kg), Lucas Hoffert (68 kg), Geraldo Fox (72 kg), Brett Kryger (76 kg), Gaelan Malloy (82 kg), and Waylon Decoteau (100 kg), and Jordan Tholl (120 kg) will all participate on the men’s side.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars’ season ended in the Canada West play-in round with a series loss to Manitoba last weekend. The Bisons won Game 1 by a 94-84 score, then held off a late U of R rally for an 88-80 series-clinching win in Game 2. Travis Sylvestre and Matthew Augustine both had strong games in the final U SPORTS games of their careers, with Sylvestre scoring 13 points and Augustine ending up with nine points and three assists.

Women’s Hockey – The U of R lost out in the Canada West quarterfinals last weekend at Saskatchewan, losing a pair of hard-fought battles by scores of 4-3 and 2-1. Merissa Zerr, Tamara McVannel, and Jaycee Magwood all scored in Game 1, while Jolene Kirkpatrick provided the offence in Game 2. The series marked the final times in a U of R uniform for fifth-year players Kylie Gavelin, Alexis Larson, Krista Metz, and Meghan Sherven.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars closed out the 2016-17 season with a pair of Canada West losses at Calgary, losing in straight sets both nights to finish the year with a 3-21 conference record. Taylor Ungar fell just short of setting a school single-season digs record, as she finished with 293 – just two behind Kelly Cowan’s record of 295 set during the 2006-07 season. Jenna Krahn and Molly Wade-Cummings both played their final matches for the U of R, with Wade-Cummings finishing third in school history with 280 blocks over her five seasons with the Cougars.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars finished the year at Calgary, losing to the Dinos in three sets on both Friday and Saturday at the Jack Simpson Gym. Matthew Aubrey had 19 kills in the two matches as the rookie right side finishes the conference schedule with a team-leading 212 kills and an average of 2.68 kills per set. The Cougars could return their entire roster next season with the exception of fifth-year middle Nathan Wiggins.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

REDBLACKS Get Drew Tate in Trade with Calgary

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The Ottawa REDBLACKS have acquired quarterback Drew Tate from the Calgary Stampeders in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2018, the club announced Tuesday.
Tate, 32, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Stampeders, completing 380 of 572 passes for 4,670 yards and 32 touchdowns in 45 games. Frequently used in short yardage situations, Tate had a CFL-best 10 rushing touchdowns in 2014.
“It’s always paramount in the CFL to have at least two veteran quarterbacks that you know you can win with,” said REDBLACKS Head Coach Rick Campbell. “Drew is a proven performer in this league and we’re happy to have him in Ottawa.”
The former Iowa Hawkeye has also spent time on the practice rosters of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Saskatchewan Roughriders Sign DL Zach Minter

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international defensive lineman Zach Minter.      

Minter (6’2 – 300) joins the Riders after spending last season with the Calgary Stampeders where he picked up six defensive tackles and two quarterbacks sacks, starting three of five regular season games played.

The 26-year-old Montana State product spent the previous season with the B.C Lions after signing with the team in March, 2015. Starting seven of 10 regular season games, Minter registered 16 defensive tackles and three quarterback sacks.

Before coming to the CFL, Minter spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals during 2014. He signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in April, 2013 where he went on to play two regular season NFL games.

The team also confirmed the signings reported last week of WR Bakari Grant and LB Glenn Love

(Saskatchewan Roughriders)  

Monday, February 20, 2017

NHL Three Stars Of Week

 Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine, Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 19.


Laine led the NHL with five goals and eight points in four games to propel the Jets (28-29-5, 61 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He recorded his third career hat trick, including the winning goal, in a 5-2 triumph over the Dallas Stars Feb. 14. In doing so, Laine became the first player in NHL history to register three hat tricks before his 19th birthday as well as the first rookie to collect three hat tricks in one season since 1992-93. He scored again in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 16. Laine then finished the week with consecutive multi-point efforts, notching 1-1—2 in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 18 and two assists in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators Feb. 19. The 18-year-old Tampere, Finland, native paces rookies with 52 points in 54 games this season and also shares third place in the entire NHL – as well as the rookie lead – with 28 goals.


Kadri picked up points in each of his four games, totaling 4-2—6 to lift the Maple Leafs (27-20-11, 65 points) to a split of their four contests. He recorded 1-1—2, including the decisive goal, in a 7-1 victory over the New York Islanders Feb. 14. Kadri then scored twice, his fifth multi-goal outing of the season, in a 5-2 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 15. He closed the week with one goal in a 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators Feb. 18 and one assist in a 4-0 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes Feb. 19. The 26-year-old London, Ont., native already has established a career high with 24 goals in 58 appearances this season, while his 46 points are four shy of his personal best set in 2013-14 (20-30—50 in 78 GP).


McDavid continued his quest for the Art Ross Trophy, racking up 2-4—6 in three games to guide the Oilers (32-19-8, 72 points) to three straight wins. He began the week with two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Feb. 14. McDavid then posted 1-2—3, his eighth three-point performance of the campaign, in a 6-3 triumph against the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 16. He capped the week by scoring his 20th goal of 2016-17 in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 18. The 20-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native paces the NHL with 47 assists and 67 points in 59 games this season.

(NHL Media)

Something To "Mitch" About

IS IT 2018 YET?   -  As I saw Regina mayor Michael Fougere outside the Regina Pats dressing room on Sunday morning, I asked him if he was going to re-brand the city as Canada's Sports Capital. Why not? 2018 is going to be a very busy one in the YQR and arguably the biggest one we've ever seen, You could stretch it out and make it 18 months as when the calendar hits July 1 and Regina showcases New Mosaic Stadium to the rest of Canada, it will be something never before seen here as Regina will be opening its new jewel while preparing to host events like the Grand Slam of Curling, Skate Canada, the Tim Hortons Brier, the USports Canada university womens basketball championship and now the Memorial Cup. 

When word got out about how good the presentation Shaun Semple and the Pats bid committee made to the Canadian Hockey League, I think we were all just patiently waiting for approval to be given. There were rumblings the announcement was going to be made, and I was sent a text Friday night saying it would be announced in Regina during "Hockey Day in Canada" festivities.  Sportsnet's Carly Agro was in Regina for the day, but it was just coincidence as it turned out. When Ron McLean ever so casually mentioned that a special surprise for Saskatchewan was coming, we all knew what i was.

Queen City Sports and Entertainment told us good times were coming for Regina hockey fans, and they have delivered.  The Brandt Centre started becoming the place to be late last season, and the momentum has carried on.   The Pats have not disappointed this season, and John Paddock will make sure they don't disappoint next season either. There is no guarantee the Pats will hoist the Memorial Cup trophy this year or next, but they will have as good a shot as anyone. Git your popcorn ready.  It is going to be a helluva show as this team celebrates its 100th anniversary with the 100th Memorial Cup being played as well.

Some have asked if Regina can handle so many events in such a short time. We will find out!  This city is known for the passion it has for sports and its volunteers.  Many an event whether it be the Grey Cup, the Queen City Marathon, the Junos, the Memorial Cup or Brier has succeeded because of the volunteer committment this city has.  I have no doubt that by the time all these events are over, Regina can be referred to as "Canada's Sports Capital".  Oh yeah, we will have a Grey Cup soon at NMS so get ready for that too.   In the words of John Frenzy, "it's just gonna be fantastic!"

HEY MOOSE JAW, CAN YOU JOIN US?  -  As Rob Vanstone so aptly said it on Saturday, the Moose Jaw Warriors-Regina Pats rivalry has become one of mutual respect. Yes, the two teams still don't like one another on the ice, but there is now some love between the two organizations. The Warriors allowed the Pats to use one of their board-rooms to watch the Memorial Cup announcement before the two teams played at Mosaic Place. Hell, years ago, the Warriors would have told the Pats if they wanted to watch the announcement to trudge across the parking lot from the old Civic Centre to Zellers in the Town n Country Mall to watch it on TV there.  When the announcement was made, I couldn't help but think if the Warriors could join the Pats May 17-27, 2018. If that happened, I don't know if Belle Plaine, Pense and Grand Coulee would survive.  Highway 1 between the two cities would be a steady stream of traffic.  With the likes of Brett Howden, Josh Brook, Jayden Halbegewachs and Zach Sawchenko, they will give it a good chance!

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?  - It started Friday night at High Impact Wrestling, continued Saturday morning at London Drugs and went all the way through the weekend. Many asked the same question.  That question being "Is Vince Young really coming here?".  You know what, I think he is.   Will he take a snap for the /=S=/? That is another story.

   Agent Leigh Steinberg was with Rod Pedersen Friday on Saskatchewan's #1 sports show--the Sportscage, and he said everything an agent should say. He said Young still has a desire to play the game, that he isn't using the Riders and CFL as a stepping stone back to the NFL, and that he is healthy.  The fact remains he has not played in a game or thrown a pass in a professional football game since 2011.  Doug Flutie and Tommy Maddox are the only other QB's to have that distinction according to ESPN, but I think the four-letter is forgetting about Flutie's time in Canada.

   The fact also remains Vince Young will be 34 when training camp starts. He will be learning a new version of a game he is familiar about. The wider field, the 12th man, the motion, etc. etc. etc.

   I put a poll up on Twitter asking if you think Vince Young will ever take a snap for the Riders or any team in the CFL in a regular season game and 70 percent of you said no.  I tend to agree.  Dwayne Jarrett and Limas Sweed (remember them) came to Saskatchewan with hopes of reviving their football career, and both didn't last.  I see that scenario happening here as well.  If I am wrong, then it may be good news for the Riders.

WHO IS GOING WHERE AND WHEN? -  The Riders already had a talented receiving group with the likes of Naaman Roosevelt, Rob Bagg, Duron Carter and Caleb Holley to name a few.  Add the names Chad Owens and Bakari Grant to that list and it has some wondering about the stockpiling of receivers and what it means.  With the ongoing chatter about James Franklin or Vernon Adams Junior wearing Rider colours in 2017, it has many wondering about who is going to go since all the pass-catchers can't stay.  With Ottawa losing Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams to free agency, do they enter the equation? I can't see Trevor Harris coming here and I can't see Brock Jensen being the guy either.  We will wait and wonder I guess.  Chris Jones has something up his sleeve, but what it is remains a mystery. Will this take us up to draft day or not? That's my question!

FIND A GOALIE CHEVY! -  It is no secret that I am an Oilers fan, and even this Oilers fan was skeptical whether or not the team could get to the playoffs.  They could still collapse down the stretch, but I don't see it happening, Playoff hockey appears to have a date at Rogers Place in its first year of existence thanks to Connor and company.  While an Oilers fan, I do keep a close eye on the team to the east of us as well and I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to cheer for the Jets. Some weeks they are on, and others they are off.  A win over Ottawa yesterday has them within a point of a playoff spot. They have the talent with the likes of Schiefele, Laine, Little, Byfuglien and Myers, but its obvious they need a goalie they can depend on.  Connor Hellebuyck, Ondrei Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson can't be counted on from game-to-game.  A "tender" is needed at the deadline, but where.  Could they get Mike Smith from Arizona? Could they get Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh? Could they get Ben Bishop from Tampa.  The Jets have a lot of good young assets. They need to make sure a top-notch goalie is calling Winnipeg home by the time the trade deadline expires. It may be the deciding factor as to whether or not GM.

COME BACK!!!  -  Many Regina wrestling fans made the trip to Saskatoon Sunday night for a WWE card.  The stars of "Smackdown Live" made an appearance at Sask-Tel Centre. How long has it been since the WWE came to Regina? It's been too long! For those who were there, how was the show?

UH-OH! -  Saskatchewan has started 0-3 at the Scotties.  YIKES! It is safe to say early on that the debut of Moose Jaw's Penny Barker has not been what they wanted it to.  It is never easy making your first appearance on the big stage. Hopefully the jitters can go away and Penny can calm down to roll off a few wins before the week is over.  Hey, she won her last 5 to win in Melville, so who knows.

WELCOME BACK WASKIMO -  The Waskimo Winter Festival was a great thing that was put on ice (no pun intended) when the Big Dig of Wascana Lake started.  It is great to see the event get revived. The weather is more than co-operating so if you get a chance, spend some time on the lake today and have fun while out there enjoying the activities that will be going on. 

That's all I got. Enjoy the holiday Monday and the rest of the week.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Regina Pats To Host 2018 Memorial Cup

The Mastercard Memorial Cup is coming back to Regina.

The Canadian Hockey League announced Saturday afternoon that the 100th version of Canada's junior hockey championship will be hosted by the Regina Pats and played at the Brandt Centre May 17-27, 2018.

“The 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup and the celebrations around this centennial event will truly capture, preserve, and enhance the legacy of one of the most prestigious trophies in all of sport while honouring the brave men and women who served and continue to serve our country,” said CHL President David Branch. “I applaud our national Site Selection Committee who were challenged with the decision of choosing between three outstanding bids.  On behalf of the CHL we look forward to working with the City of Regina and the Regina Pats to engage the entire nation in what will truly be a historic event.”

The event, which was last staged in Regina in 2001 when Red Deer won the title, will once again see the Pats welcome the top teams from the Western, Ontario and Quebec Hockey League

“Our local team worked hard to put together a great bid, and we are extremely excited, and honoured, to be able to host the 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup,” says Shaun Semple, President and CEO of the Brandt Group of Companies and Chair of Regina’s Host Organizing Committee. “We’ve got some great ideas and plans, and we look forward to the opportunity to engage with junior hockey fans across the country, as we celebrate this historic centennial year.”  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thaddeus Coleman Returning To Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international offensive lineman Thaddeus Coleman.      

Coleman (6’8 – 320) returns to the Riders after becoming a free agent on February 14th. The 31-year-old Mississippi Valley State product was originally acquired by the Riders in a May, 2016 trade with the Edmonton Eskimos where he spent his first three CFL seasons.  

Last year, Coleman started all 18 regular season games for the Green and White spending time at both right and left tackle. He was named the Riders Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman at seasons end.

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

This And That

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

--How ya feelin Rider Nation?  You got Doubles back this week (Derek Dennis) and he comes with the Flyin Hawaiian. With Chad Owens in Rider green, are you trading watermelon helmets in for pineapple ones? I think you have to be very satisfied with what Chris Jones and the /=S=/ organization have done in free agency. Yes, there was that excitement last year and the free agent class fizzled tremendously, but I think Jones has learned from his mistakes in year 1 as a general manager and is maybe doing a little more homework as to what is/was out there and who can help this football team moving forward. Then again, it looks like the Vince Young story has legs to it and he may be coming north of the border. Like many of you, I don't really understand that move and don't see a lot of positives in it. 

--I can't help but think Vernon Adams Junior will be a Saskatchewan Roughrider by the time training camp starts. It seems as if he has no future in Montreal, and it seems like he isn't a Kavis Reed guy. Many of you have suggested the Riders have enough receivers and could afford to give one up to get the former Oregon standout whom Montreal acquired for a first round pick from BC last year. I can't see Naaman Roosevelt joining Darian Durant in Montreal and you know Duron Carter isn't going back. It sounds like Armanti Edwards is now out of the equation leaving guys like Ricky Collins Junior and Caleb Holley. If a trade is made, my money is on one of those guys. That being said, Ernest Jackson is now an Alouette so perhaps they don't need another pass-catcher.

--What ever happened to Compete Street? Where's the sign? Questions that need answering.  If anyone knows where that sign is, they should send it over to Michael Ball. It would look great in his backyard!

--If the Edmonton Oilers knew what they were going to get out of Patrick Maroon this year, would they have signed Milan Lucic to the contract they did? Maroon definitely let Brandon Manning know what happens when you mess around with Connor McDavid.  Its not like Semenko with Gretzky, but the muscle is there if needed.

--Who saw Claude Julien coaching the Habs before the season was over after he was fired by Boston?  I don't know about you, but I really want to see a Boston-Montreal playoff matchup now.

--Why doesn't anyone talk seriously about Patrik Laine when it comes to rookie of the year talk. Take nothing away from the Leafs duo of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but Laine is right there and is arguably ahead of the pack. For that matter, why isn't Matt Murray involved in the ROY conversation?

--What has happened to the Toronto Raptors? Oh wait, this is Saskatchewan.....not many people care.

--Congrats to Cliff Mapes.  He is back in the WHL working with the Saskatoon Blades as their new VP of business operations. Great hire! If Cliffy could have success in Regina dealing with some bad Pats teams and other factors, he can succeed in Saskatoon.  The Blades imprint on Saskatoon is about to get larger.

--While passing out congrats, one also goes to perhaps the biggest all-around degenerate in Regina, but also an overall good schmuck and that is Josh Shaw.  He has been named  the director of operations at the new Mosaic Stadium.  I'm guessing this means he will have a big office where he will sit in a big chair and do absolutely nothing, but hey why not.  I shudder to think what could play on the big screen late at night though.

--When watching the Scotties this week, remember Penny Barker is representing Team Saskatchewan and Michelle Englot is representing Team Manitoba.  I think many of us will be confused as the week goes on. 

--Canadian tennis star/model Genie Bouchard paid up after a Patriots fan asked her if she would go out with him if New England came back to win the Super Bowl via Twitter.  The two went to a Brooklyn Nets game Wednesday.  C'mon Genie, as a Canadian you couldn't have taken the guy to a hockey game?  Doesn't really matter though as the two are going to go out AGAIN! As one friend has says, it will prompt men to start sending messages via Twitter to models.  Why not! It apparently works!!!

--The stars of "High Impact Wrestling" do their thing at the Hungarian Club Friday night at 7.  What does the monthly meeting of Gronkville have in store this time around? 

--If you haven't read Corey Hirsch's article for "The Players Journal", do so.  It is worth the time you will take to read it.

--Has anyone seen the ESPN 30 for 30 on the XFL yet? I hear it is one of their better efforts. Who scored the first points in league history.  The answer would be Paul McCallum. 

--The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League allowed fans to call their offensive plays via an app Thursday night in a game vs the Nebraska Danger (love that name).  Let's hope the CFL doesn't turn to this to engage the fans.  Oh yeah, as I type this, the Screaming Eagles were losing 63-39.  Did the fans turn on one another for their shoddy play-calling as the game progressed?  I wonder if the Eagles have Vince Young on their neg list? 

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Vince Young's Agent Starts Negotiations With Riders

And with that from Leigh Steinberg, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have people in the football universe talking about them again.

Last week, it was Johnny Manziel, and now it is Vince Young as Leigh Steinberg has confirmed talks are underway on bringing the soon to be 34 year old to the Riders and the CFL.

Chosen as the third-overall pick in the 2006 draft by Tennessee after taking Texas to a national chapionship in a dramatic win over USC at the Rose Bowl, Young had his moments under center for the Titans. Compiling a 30-17 record, Young threw 42 touchdowns and 42 picks in Tennessee before later starting three games for the Eagles during the  2011 campaign.

Young later emerged to sign a one-year deal with the Browns in 2014, but Cleveland released him less than two weeks later. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound passer announced his retirement from the NFL soon after.

Alouettes Sign Ernest Jackson

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The Montreal Alouettes announced Thursday they have concluded a two-season pact with sinternational receiver Ernest Jackson.

Jackson (6'2 ", 220 lbs.) Joins the new Alouettes' offensive unit after an unforgettable season with the Ottawa REDBLACKS with which he won the first Grey Cup in his career last November . He brings with him a wealth of experience and a remarkable track record. Jackson enjoyed a breathtaking 2016 year, winning 1,225 yards on reception, a good mark for seventh in the league in this regard. He was one of the favorite targets of quarterbacks Henry Burris and Trevor Harris, as shown by his 88 catches and 10 touchdowns.

The dangerous and dynamic 30-year-old receiver averaged 13.9 yards per catch in 17 regular season games. As has been the case since the beginning of his career, he has continued to multiply dramatic catches, demonstrating that he is an offensive threat at all times. Jackson also showed consistency throughout the 2016 season, totaling five games of 100 yards or more on receiving. He crowned his dream season with Eastern Division All-Star team nominations and the CFL All-Star team as well as being named the Eastern Division's nominee as Most Outstanding Player

"The contracting of Ernest brings new possibilities for our attack in view of the next season. Its addition is part of our plan to do everything we can to make our offensive unit spectacular and productive for our supporters next year, "said Alouettes chief executive Kavis Reed. "Ernest is one of the most formidable recipients of the League and I am confident that he will be among the favorites of the crowd," concluded Reed.

Cito Gaston To Speak At Regina Red Sox Dinner

The man who guided the Toronto Blue Jays to their two World Series titles in the 90's is coming to Regina to speak at the Regina Red Sox dinner.

Red Sox President Gary Brotzel was on 620 CKRM's Sportscage Wednesday afternoon to make the announcement that Cito Gaston would be their guest speaker as he joins a long list of former Blue Jays who have spoken at the event.

Gaston had two different stints as manager of the Blue Jays over a 12 year period and was their manager when they won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

He was six games shy of 900 career wins when he left the Toronto dugout at the end of the 2010 season.

The dinner will be held on Saturday, April 29 at the Turvey Center.  Tickets are $90 each or $750 for a table.  For more information or to purchase yours, please email or visit the team's website at

Chicago Cubs Ready to Repeat

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon has his slogans ready for 2017. Get the T-shirts ready.

After guiding the club to its first World Series championship since 1908, Maddon arrived in camp this spring with a three-pronged approach to the new season, plus a throwback to one that started before he showed up.

The Cubs' themes for 2017? Be uncomfortable, authenticity, and don't forget the heartbeat.

"It's really important to become uncomfortable," Maddon said "If you become comfortable, that subtracts growth from the equation. I think if you remain uncomfortable, you continue to grow, you don't become stagnant or complacent. On every level, I want us to be uncomfortable, and I think that's a really positive word."

That's a message Maddon will deliver prior to the team's first official workout for pitchers and catchers. The full squad will hear it on Sunday.

Part two is authenticity.

"It's not to remind them that they're authentic, but the pertinent part is that if you are in fact an authentic person, you can repeat what you've done in the past naturally," Maddon said. "I really want us to understand the authentic part of who we are and for that to sustain what we've done in the past just by being us. Don't try to do anything different."

Which means Maddon and his creative coaching staff have ideas on how to keep Spring Training interesting, and it will begin on Sunday prior to the first full squad practice. After live bear cubs and mimes last year, it could be anything.

The heartbeat theme became obvious in Game 7 of the World Series, Maddon said.

"Things went badly for a bit," he said of a 5-1 blown lead against the Indians, who tied it with three runs in the eighth inning. "We came back and regrouped because our guys got together in a room, void of any kind of statistical, video, or analytical information. They went in there as human beings and came out unified. You do that, and it's kind of antithetical to what's going on right now. I don't want us to forget the heartbeat ever."

That moment came prior to the 10th inning when Jason Heyward called the Cubs players together in the weight room during a rain delay.

Maddon's messages in the past have included "Do Simple Better," "The Process is Fearless," and "Try Not to Suck." But there's also a theme that started in the Cubs' Minor Leagues before Maddon arrived that he'll emphasize as well, which is "That's Cub." President of baseball operations Theo Epstein explained it.

"When a player in a Minor League game or instructional league or on a back field in Spring Training would make a great play or back up a base or do something positive for a teammate, just organically, the other players started to say, 'That's Cub right there,'" Epstein said. "It really stood out. For a century, 'That's Cub' had a different connotation."
It's not a boast, Epstein said.

"It's a two-word celebration of what they've created," he said. "It means something to be a Cub now, and we shouldn't back away from that and we should be proud of that."

Catcher David Ross also delivered a message immediately after the team won the World Series, which was "Turn the Page."

"Obviously, we'll ride the energy of last year -- we just won the world championship -- but it is a new year," Kyle Schwarber said. "We've got to take that energy that we had last year into this year."
So, expect new T-shirts.

"Yeah -- 'Turn the Page,' with David's face on the back," Schwarber said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Away Schedule – Thursday
Men’s Basketball – at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. (Winnipeg, Man.)

Away Schedule – Friday
Women’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 6:00 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. (Winnipeg, Man.)
Men’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 7:30 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Women’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 4:00 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Volleyball – at Calgary, 5:30 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. (Winnipeg, Man.) – if necessary

Away Schedule – Sunday
Women’s Hockey – at Saskatchewan, 7:00 p.m. (Saskatoon, Sask.) – if necessary

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars came up with a huge weekend sweep over Thompson Rivers last weekend at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport to clinch a postseason berth for the second year in a row. They beat TRU by an 81-54 score on Friday, then held off the WolfPack for a thrilling 79-74 win on Saturday. The Cougars enter the conference playoffs as the No. 12 seed and will travel east this weekend for a best-of-three Canada West play-in series at Manitoba. The series will be played on Thursday, Friday, and – if a third game is needed – Saturday, with all games scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start time.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars closed their Canada West regular season with a split against Calgary and will head to Saskatoon this weekend for a conference quarterfinal series against the Saskatchewan Huskies. Regina (10-13-4-1) took three of the four regular season meetings against the Huskies, including wins in both games at the University of Saskatchewan’s Rutherford Rink. The best-of-three series is scheduled to be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at 7 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars were defeated twice by UBC in Vancouver last weekend, falling in straight sets on both nights to the No. 4-ranked Thunderbirds. Regina (3-19) will finish off the 2016-17 schedule this weekend against another ranked opponent, as the Cougars will square off with No. 5 Calgary on Friday and Saturday in Calgary. Third-year libero Taylor Ungar enters the final weekend of the season leading Canada West with an average of 3.89 digs per set and needing just 16 more digs to break Kelly Cowan’s school single-season record of 295 set during the 2006-07 season.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars lost twice in Vancouver last weekend to the No. 6-ranked UBC Thunderbirds, falling in straight sets on Friday and in four sets on Saturday. The U of R (1-21) plays its final matches of the season this weekend at Calgary against a Dinos team that will come into the series with a 7-13 record. First serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (MST) on Friday and 5:30 p.m. (MST) on Saturday.

Wrestling (Women's U SPORTS Ranking: No. 6 / Men's U SPORTS Ranking: No. 7) – Nine Cougars captured top-three finishes at the Canada West Championships in Saskatoon on the weekend, including Amber Wiebe (51 kg) and Daniel Amberson (54 kg) who both won gold medals for the U of R. The Cougars finished in fourth place in the team standings on both the men’s side and the women’s side at the conference championships, while the U of R’s nine medal-winning wrestlers will advance to the U SPORTS Championships hosted by the University of Winnipeg on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 3) – The Cougars finished their Canada West schedule with a pair of home wins over Thompson Rivers, winning 74-36 on Friday and 76-36 on Saturday over the WolfPack. Regina finishes the Canada West schedule with a 17-3 record and will enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the conference. The Cougars will get a bye through the first round of the playoffs before hosting either Trinity Western or Brandon in a best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series beginning Thursday, Feb. 23.

Track & Field – Alex Eiswerth and Joy Becker both had two first-place finishes and set new school records over the weekend at the Golden Bear Challenge in Edmonton. Eiswerth won the 1000-metre run in a U of R record time of 2:28.71 and also placed first in the 1500, while Becker broke her own school record in the long jump (6.29 m), won the triple jump, and hit the U SPORTS standard in the 60-metre dash. The Cougars have this weekend off to prepare for the Canada West Championships, which they’ll host at the Regina Fieldhouse on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars wrapped up the Canada West schedule with two losses on home ice against the No. 8-ranked Calgary Dinos. The Cougars (3-22-3) fell 2-1 in overtime on Friday and 4-2 in Saturday's rematch. Cody Fowlie, Tyler Bell and Ian McNulty had goals for the Cougars.

Flyin Hawaiian On His Way To Riderville

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international receiver/returner Chad Owens.        

Owens (5’7 – 180) spent last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after signing with the team as a free agent in February, 2016. Through 12 games, the Hawaii native racked up 58 receptions for 808 yards and five touchdowns. He missed the final six games due to injury.

Before joining the Tiger-Cats, Owens spent six seasons with the Toronto Argonauts where he was named the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2012 and the CFL’s most outstanding special teams player in 2010. He won his first career Grey Cup with the Argos in 2012.    

Through his career, Owens has registered 504 receptions for 5,982 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 365 punt returns for 4,027 yards and six touchdowns.  


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette.        

Brouillette (6’1 – 220) is a veteran of seven CFL seasons after originally being selected by the Montreal Alouettes in the 3rd round (23rd overall) in the 2010 Draft. 

In 103 regular season games with the Al’s, Brouillette has picked up 202 defensive tackles, 30 special teams tackles, eight quarterback sacks and five interceptions. 

Last season, the 31-year-old Montreal native started all 18 regular season games for the Alouettes, totaling 34 defensive tackles, three special teams tackles and one interception. He was named a 2016 East Division All-Star at seasons end.     

The Riders also announced the signing of Canadian OL Ryan White and Canadian RB Aaron Milton on Wednesday

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Riders Sign OL Derek Dennis & RB Kienan Lafrance

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed international offensive lineman Derek Dennis

Dennis (6’3 – 341) joins the Riders after playing 23 regular season games with the Calgary Stampeders over the previous two seasons. Last year, the 28-year-old Queens, New York native started all 18 games, the West Final and Grey Cup for the Stamps and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and a CFL All-Star.

Before joining the Stampeders in September, 2015, the Temple University product spent time with the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.     


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national running back Kienan Lafrance    

LaFrance (5’9 – 205) signs with the Green and White after spending the previous two seasons with the Ottawa Redblacks. The 25-year-old joined the Redblacks after being selected by the team in the sixth round (45th overall) of the 2015 CFL Draft.

In 16 regular season appearances last year, LaFrance had 37 carries for 163 yards while adding 12 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. The University of Manitoba product broke out during the East Final where he racked up 157 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He then followed it up with 42 yards on 11 carries and six catches for 31 yards as the Redblacks won the 2016 Grey Cup.          

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR) 

Claude Julien Becomes New Canadiens Coach

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Montreal Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin announced Tuesday the appointment of Claude Julien as the Club's new head coach. Michel Therrien has been relieved of his duties.

"I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. Claude Julien is an experienced and well respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track," said Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin.

Claude Julien, 56, enters his second tour of duty as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens after assuming the role of head coach from January 2003 to January 2006 with a record of 72-62-10-15 in 259 regular season games at the helm of the team (holding a .531 winning percentage).

Claude Julien has coached 997 regular season games in the NHL (Montreal, New Jersey and Boston), including the last 10 season as the Bruins bench boss (2007 to 2017). Throughout his NHL career, Julien managed a record of 538 wins, 332 losses, 10 ties and 117 overtime losses for a .603 winning percentage.

(Montreal Canadiens)

Stamps Sign Two Key Veterans Before Free Agency Hits

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The Calgary Stampeders have signed international receiver Marquay McDaniel to a contract that runs through the 2018 season. The eight-year CFL veteran had been eligible to become a free agent today.

McDaniel was the Stamps’ leading receiver in 2016 with 83 receptions for 1,074 yards in 16 games. He had four touchdowns and one two-point convert reception. It’s the third time in the past four seasons McDaniel has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark.

“Marquay is one of the most reliable and well-rounded receivers in the CFL and I’m pleased that he has chosen to remain with the Red and White,” said president and general manager John Hufnagel. “He has been a key contributor to our offensive success since joining the team and I’m confident that will continue to be the case.”

McDaniel signed with the Stampeders in 2011 after spending two full seasons and part of a third with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 115 career CFL games, McDaniel had 489 receptions for 6,441 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was a CFL all-star in 2013 and was a member of the Stamps’ 2014 Grey Cup-championship squad.

“I’m really happy to finally get this deal done,” said McDaniel. “Staying with Calgary was always my first choice and I’m looking forward to being with the Stamps for the next two years.”


The Calgary Stampeders have signed international defensive lineman Micah Johnson to a contract that runs through the 2018 season. Johnson, a 2016 CFL all-star, had been eligible to become a free agent today.

Johnson started 17 games in 2016 and recorded career highs with 36 tackles and seven sacks. He had two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and three knockdowns. The fourth-year Stamp also played a key role in a run defence that gave up a league-low 4.6 yards per carry to the opposition.

“Micah has established himself as one of the premier interior linemen in the CFL and he is a key part of our defence,” said president and general manager John Hufnagel. “I’m pleased that we were able to come to an agreement and I look forward to seeing Micah continue to perform at a high level.”

Johnson joined the Stamps in 2013 after spending time with several National Football League clubs including the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers. In 46 career regular-season games with the Red and White, the University of Kentucky alum has recorded 103 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, 18 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, seven knockdowns and one interception.

“This is just the perfect situation for me from top to bottom,” said Johnson. “From the coaches to the guys I play with to the city of Calgary, this is just the right place for me.”

(Calgary Stampeders)

Blue Jays Ready For 2017

The four-month-long wait that seemed like it would never end is finally over. Blue Jays baseball is back for another season.

Spring Training officially opens this week at Toronto's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla. That's where the work begins for a journey the Blue Jays hope results in a third consecutive postseason appearance.

Toronto made a lot of changes this winter, but this team still looks strikingly similar to 2016's model, and that's probably a good thing. Jose Bautista re-signed, the starting rotation remains intact and Josh Donaldson isn't going anywhere. The loss of Edwin Encarnacion will hurt, but wholesale changes for a team that still has unfinished business might have stung even more.

Here's a closer look at some things you need to know with Toronto's Spring Training set to open at the Bobby Mattick Training Center at Englebert Complex.
Pitchers/catchers report: Tuesday.
First full-squad workout: Saturday.
First Spring Training game: Feb. 25 @ Atlanta, 1:05 p.m. ET.

New faces: DH Kendrys Morales, 1B Steve Pearce, LHP J.P. Howell, RHP Joe Smith.
Morales faces the toughest task of having to replace Encarnacion. But the role isn't exactly new, as the 33-year-old has spent most of his 10-year career as a middle-of-the-order bat. He's coming off a season in which he posted a .795 OPS, but the Blue Jays believe a switch to the hitter-friendly ballparks of the American League East will help Morales get closer to the .847 mark he put up in 2015.

Pearce is the type of player that every contending team would love to have. He can play all over the field, but most of his work is expected to take place at first base in a platoon with Justin Smoak. Even though Pearce was signed primarily because of his numbers against lefties, if Smoak struggles, he could move into more of a full-time role.

Toronto's additions to the bullpen came very late in the offseason, but the club found a way to plug its holes at a relatively cheap price. Howell and Smith should be expected to pitch a lot of high-leverage innings in middle relief, but if one of them doesn't work out, the $3 million price tag means the club still has the ability to look elsewhere. Low risk, with the upside of some moderate reward.

Interesting non-roster invitees: IF Gregorio Petit, RHP Gavin Floyd, RHP Lucas Harrell, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, LHP TJ House.

Petit won't make the team out of camp, but he could serve as an important depth piece if the Blue Jays eventually lose Ryan Goins on waivers. Goins is out of options and cannot be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers, which seems to be the likely course of action, given that Darwin Barney is projecting to be the backup infielder.

Floyd, Oberholtzer and House are competing for a job in the bullpen. Floyd has a pretty good chance at securing a spot, and while Oberholtzer and House are more longshots, that could change if anything happens to Howell. Harrell could also be in the mix for the bullpen, but more realistically, he provides some much-needed starting depth at Triple-A Buffalo.

Prospects to watch: OF Anthony Alford, 1B Rowdy Tellez, RHP Conner Greene, RHP Sean Reid-Foley, IF Richard Urena, IF/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

None of these prospects are a threat to crack the Opening Day roster, but how they perform this spring will say a lot about their future development. Alford needs to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, Greene needs to re-establish himself as a top pitching prospect and Urena needs to continue his development as a reliable switch-hitter.
Tellez might be the most interesting prospect on this list to follow over the next few months. Pearce and Smoak will open the season in a platoon at first, but if that plan doesn't work out, then Tellez could enter the mix later on with a strong start to the year. Guerrero is still years away from the big leagues, and he'll spend Spring Training on the Minor League side, but it shouldn't be long before he becomes Toronto's top prospect. The club might even reward him with a temporary call-up for an exhibition game this spring.

The Blue Jays play their first spring game against Atlanta on February 25 with their season opener April 3 in Baltimore.

(Toronto Blue Jays)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Plans For CFL Week Announced

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN (February 13, 2017) – Mark’s is partnering with the Canadian Football League to deliver something new and exciting for Canadian football fans.
Mark’s CFL Week – coming to Saskatchewan March 21-26 – will bring together the game’s biggest stars, leading coaches, top prospects and most beloved legends in the same place for one amazing fan experience.

“We couldn’t be more excited to take our CFL partnership to the next level by becoming the title sponsor of Mark’s CFL Week. As a Canadian company, we want Canadians to know we love football just as much as they do and what better way to do that, than this,” said David Lui, Vice-President of Marketing at Mark’s.

“This will be the biggest off-season event in the long and storied history of the league,” said Christina Litz, Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Content at the CFL.

“We’re combining some of the most important events on our calendar, such as the CFL Combine for draft eligible prospects, with new opportunities for fans, including a week-long Fan Fest, a VIP reception unveiling the 2017 Class of the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame, and much, much more.”

At a special media event today at the Victoria Square Shopping Centre’s Mark’s store, details of the Mark’s CFL Week line-up was unveiled.

Here are some of the highlights:
Star players are coming: 50 of the CFL’s top players will be in town for the week to attend various events, including a massive TSN/RDS/adidas photo and video shoot for the upcoming season. Stars confirmed so far include Bo Levi Mitchell, Jerome Messam, DaVaris Daniels, Alex Singleton, Charleston Hughes, Mike Reilly, Adarius Bowman, Almondo Sewell, John White, JC Sherritt, Naaman Roosevelt, Rob Bagg, Henoc Muamba, Willie Jefferson, Kevin Glenn, Duron Carter, Andrew Harris, Jamaal Westerman, Weston Dressler, Matt Nichols, Taylor Loffler, Zach Collaros, Simoni Lawrence, Luke Tasker, Ted Laurent, Drew Willy, Shawn Lemon, Trevor Harris, Brad Sinopoli, Antoine Pruneau, Darian Durant, SJ Green, Bear Woods, Manny Arceneaux, and Samuel Giguère.

Legends will be honoured: For the first time, the names of the 2017 Class of the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame will be unveiled to fans at a VIP Reception on March 22 at the sparkling new Mosaic Stadium. A Who’s Who of CFL greats past and present – including Don Narcisse, George Reed, Gene Makowsky and Damon Allen -- will join fans for an intimate look at the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ new home and news about one of the most anticipated classes in the Hall’s history. Tickets go on sale March 1.

The next generation will be on display: The CFL National Combine, presented by adidas, where the 60 best prospects from Canadian university football and the NCAA strut their stuff for CFL coaches and general managers, takes place March 24 and 25 at Evraz Place. It’s preceded by the Western Regional Combine, on March 23, the last chance for local talent to earn an invite to the national event.

CFL brass will tackle the state of the game: The coaches, general managers and team and league executives will meet to chart the course for the upcoming season, with the Rules Committee gathering on March 21 and 22 and the Competition Committee meeting March 22.

CFL coaches will hold court: East and West Division head coaches will talk about their plans for the upcoming season at special media conferences on March 23.

Young arms will impress: The Canada West Passing Showcase on March 25 and 26 will feature first- and second-year football athletes from the University of Regina, University of Calgary, University of Manitoba, University of Alberta and University of Saskatchewan in a fun but ferocious touch football showdown.

Fans in Saskatchewan can experience it: The CFL FanFest at Evraz Place from March 21 to 25, features autograph sessions with players and alumni, your chance to take your photo with the Grey Cup trophy, the opportunity to participate in your own CFL Combine, and prizes and activities delivered by Kal-Tire, BOKS, Athabasca University, Michelin and other members of the CFL family. And the Fan Cave beer garden will be open on weekday afternoons and all day Saturday.

Fans everywhere can be a part of it: Mark’s CFL Week Live will be streamed LIVE each day at 4pm CT on Facebook. Host Brodie Lawson will connect fans with their favourite CFL personalities.

For more details and future updates on Mark’s CFL Week, please visit

(CFL Communications)