Monday, October 30, 2017

NHL Three Stars Of Week

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New York Islanders center John Tavares, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Oscar Dansk and Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 29.

Tavares led the NHL with 6-1—7, including a pair of hat tricks, to power the Islanders (6-4-1, 13 points) to two wins in three starts. He posted 3-1—4, including the decisive goal and his 10th career four-point performance, in a 5-3 triumph over the Arizona Coyotes Oct. 24. After being held off the scoresheet in a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild Oct. 26, Tavares added his eighth career hat trick in a 6-2 victory against the Nashville Predators Oct. 28. In doing so, he became the third player in Islanders history to record two hat tricks within a span of three team games – and the first to accomplish the feat since March 3-5, 1996 (Ziggy Palffy). The 27-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native ranks third in the NHL with nine goals in 11 outings this season, pacing the Islanders with 13 points overall.

Dansk went 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .968 save percentage and one shutout to lead the Golden Knights (8-1-0, 16 points) to a perfect week, continuing the best start by an expansion team in NHL history. He made 29 saves in a 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks Oct. 24. Dansk then stopped all 32 shots he faced to earn the first shutout in Golden Knights history in a 7-0 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche Oct. 27. The 23-year-old Stockholm, Sweden, native – who made his NHL debut Oct. 21 – is 3-0-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and one shutout through his first three career appearances.

Pageau collected 1-5—6 as the Senators (5-1-5, 15 points) went 1-0-2 to extend their point streak to five games (2-0-3). He registered one assist in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings Oct. 24, followed by 1-2—3 (his fifth career three-point outing) in a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 26. Pageau capped the week with two more helpers in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils Oct. 27. The 24-year-old Ottawa native ranks fifth on the Senators with 1-7—8 in 11 contests this season.

(NHL Communications)

Something To "Mitch" About

There was some good Friday night at Mosaic, and there was some bad. At the end of the day, the Riders have another victory under their belt, and are one win away from being in the Western Conference playoffs with an 11 win season. Who called that at the start of the season? I was calling for 9 so this team has exceeded what I thought they would do. 

As for Friday, as I said there was some good and there was some bad.  First the good:

  • I was wrong. I didn't think Trent Richardson would be an impact player on this team. I thought he was done after a failed NFL stint. If he had played like he did Friday while in the NFL, he would still be there.  That arguably might have been the best game of Richardson's pro football career. He is becoming a force in this offence at the right time of year. I do question why he was in the game so late as that ankle injury could be worrisome. If he stays healthy, he becomes a worry for opposition DC's
  • I thought Chad Owens was supposed to just be a guy to return kicks? Yeah right! I knew if Owens got on the field he could be the player he has been. He showed it. Where do you put him when Naaman Roosevelt comes back.
  • Three thumbs up to the Rider organization.  The Darian Durant tribute was perfect. It was also done at the right time. I had no clue if the Riders would honour the face of the franchise for the last decade, but they did and they did it right. Well done 

The bad:

  • Focus! Where was it! As some said to me on the weekend, its a good job they were playing Montreal because other teams would have won this game going away. That can't happen next weekend in what is basically a playoff game. 
  • Do I even have to start with the Bakari Grant play?  I don't know what was worse---the play itself or the fact Jock Climie actually tried to defend him by saying he got lost on the field.  Milt Stegall promptly told Climie he shouldn't be lost on his own field since he plays on it every day. That was simply unacceptable
  • The QB rotation. I don't understand it. Does anyone? I kept waiting for Marcus Crandell and Steven Jyles to take some reps. 

Bottom line is that 3rd place in the West is up for grabs next Saturday at Mosaic when the Eskimos visit. Neither team wants to go in the playoffs on a losing note. The playoffs start now. 

The playoffs also start for the University of Regina Rams next weekend.  They will go in on a losing note after getting thumped 44-15 in Vancouver.  It means another date at TBird Stadium next Saturday afternoon which is not what the Rams wanted.  The 2nd quarter is not what they wanted either. 

They went into the 2nd quarter up 5-0 and went into the locker-room at the half down 35-5.  Give all credit to UBC as they were the better team and they took it to the Rams especially after scoring twice in 30 seconds after a fumbled kickoff.  However, it seemed as if the 13th man was against the Rams and by the 13th man, I mean the officiating in Vancouver.  How a completed pass which was evident to everyone including supporters of UBC could be called incomplete was incomprehensible.  There were other calls as well that were very questionable. As I said on the broadcast, it appeared as if Stampede Wrestling's Cedric Hathaway was the official. 

As mentioned, several at UBC also thought there was a definite odour surrounding the performance of the stripes.  At least neutral refs will be used next weekend which should please Blake Nill and Steve Bryce. The T-Birds will have the momentum as they should after winning by 29, but somehow I think next weekend will be different.  The same could be said with the other semi between Calgary and Alberta.  If the Golden Bears beat the Dinos by 50 in Calgary again next weekend, they can just hand the Vanier Cup to the U of A.  After all, Calgary was 7-0 coming in.  Then again, good Calgary football teams seem to struggle in late October and November right?

Speaking of which, the Stampeders have suddenly turned very ordinary. I didn't see any of the game Saturday night, and many were predicting the Eskimos to win.  Many are feeling as if the Stamps are once again guilty of taking their foot off the pedal now that they have first place in the bag. I can't disagree. 

The Bombers are limping to the finish line.  Are they ever!  However, injuries are playing a major part there as was evidenced Saturday against BC.  Yes, injuries are hitting everyone at this time of year, but if you don't have the likes of Nichols, Harris, Adams, Leggatt, Westerman etc etc, you are in trouble. Still want to go through the East? 

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It was a rather sombre Friday for many before the Rider game as the old girl came down. Around 5000 people flocked back to Taylor Field for one last visit.  It was like being there before a game. There were a lot of people where I stood at the corner of 10th and Retallack to see it come down.  For a while I didn't think it was going to. The delay of over an hour was very maddening for some who couldn't stick around for an extra 80 minutes. Perhaps the city should have told us 2 o'clock instead of 1 if they knew some final checks had to be made. Whatever! As I said on Twitter,  I was thinking Capital Pointe would be put up before the grandstand came down. 

When it did come down, it was surreal.  Some of those who didn't think they would feel emotion did and vice-versa.  Now the mess has to get cleaned up because the site of the now toppled over structure is saddening. It is a day Rider Nation won't forget. 

While in Vancouver, I was interested to see how the various teams there would be marketed and what signage there would be.  The winner was---------the WHL's Vancouver Giants.  I saw zero when it came to the Lions, the Whitecaps and the Canucks. Zero!  Why? Until teams start stepping up with marketing campaigns, they can expect to sit there and wonder why crowds are down. Yes, people may want to stay home and watch games on TV in a comfort-controlled environment, but it would seem as if our friends on the West Coast aren't trying-----or at least aren't trying in Richmond and at UBC.

I want to see Deshaun Watson play against Russell Wilson in a Super Bowl! My god that game was fantastic. One of the best I've seen.  When CFL fans tell you the NFL game is boring, show them this game. Classic!!!

I don't know who is winning this year's World Series, but I want it to go 7. It has been fantastic! The Astros and Dodgers are treating baseball fans to one heckuva series. We have just about seen it all in these games.  If you are a fan of either team, I don't know how you've survived.  It's like each game of the Stanley Cup final going into triple OT.   As for this baseball talk, how about we talk about how poor the pitching has been.  No one was talking about the baseball when the Dodgers bullpen were putting up zero after zero after zero.  At some point credit the hitters who are taking advantage of the many mistakes being made.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rams Lose in Vancouver; Back To UBC Next Weekend


The University of Regina Rams never recovered from a second-quarter outburst by UBC, ending up on the losing end of a 44-15 score on Saturday afternoon as both teams closed out the Canada West schedule at Thunderbird Stadium.

The victory gives UBC second place in the Canada West standings, and the right to host the Rams next Saturday, Nov. 4 (3:00 PM PDT) in the conference semifinals.

The Rams led 5-0 after the opening quarter, but UBC turned the tide before halftime – and in a big way. After a Ben Cummings touchdown gave the Thunderbirds the lead, UBC scored two more majors in the span of 31 seconds. UBC took advantage of starting on Regina’s 39-yard line and finished off a short drive with a Michael O’Connor pass to Alex Morrison from 10 yards out. The Rams fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return, and the Thunderbirds were back in the end zone on the very next play when O’Connor hit Trivel Pinto for a 30-yard touchdown.

UBC added two more touchdowns in the final minute of the second quarter, including a 62-yard pass from O’Connor to Morrison and a one-yard plunge by backup pivot Cole Meyer on the final play of the half. All told, UBC scored 35 points in that second quarter and ended any chance of a Rams comeback with another Meyer touchdown midway through the third.

The loss overshadowed a monumental accomplishment by Rams running back Atlee Simon, who became the University of Regina’s all-time leader in rushing yards. Simon finished the game with 115 yards, enough for him to pass Neal Hughes’ career total of 2934 yards which had stood as the school record since Hughes’ last game in a U of R uniform in 2003.

O’Connor completed 14 of his 19 passes for an even 200 yards and three touchdowns, while Cummings rushed for 125 yards. Pinto and Morrison were UBC’s top receivers, with Pinto catching six balls for 67 yards and Morrison ending up with four catches for 90 yards. UBC’s defence registered five sacks in the win, two of which went to Connor Griffiths. Parker Simson also had an interception for the Thunderbirds, while Evan Horton recovered the fumble on the kickoff return that led directly to UBC’s third touchdown of the game.

Noah Picton completed 13 of his 18 passes for 106 yards, but gave way to redshirt freshman Seb Britton for almost the entire second half. Britton was 8-for-15, finishing with 100 yards including a five-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Huber for his first career touchdown and what would be the only major of the game for the U of R. Huber finished as the U of R’s top receiver, registering career highs in both catches (7) and receiving yards (71).

Nicholas Dheilly led the Rams defensively with two sacks, which came on back-to-back UBC possessions in the first quarter. Dheilly, who also had a pass breakup, ties the school single-season sacks record of 6½ set by Akiem Hicks back in 2011.

NOTES: Simon ends the season with 914 rushing yards, the fourth most by a Rams player in the program’s 19 years at the university level ... with one season of eligibility still remaining, Simon has 2943 career rushing yards ... fifth-year slotback Mitchell Picton caught four passes for 23 yards in the final conference game of his career ... Picton finishes as the U of R’s all-time leader in touchdown catches (24), third in school history in career receiving yards (2341), and fourth in career receptions (169).

(U of R Athletics)

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Taylor Field Grandstand Comes Down

The west-side grandstand at Taylor Field came down Friday afternoon. The structure was to have come down at 1, but there was a delay of over an hour as those responsible wanted to make sure everything was safe.

As you know, Taylor Field was the home of the Riders from 1936-2016.

How Bizarre Was Game 2 Of World Series

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ESPN's Jayson Stark went to Facebook to talk about how bizarre Game 2 of the World Series was with many things happening that make baseball so unique. A look at what he found can be seen right here

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars (1-4-1) suffered a pair of tight road losses to UBC last weekend. They lost 4-2 to the Thunderbirds on Friday night in a game which they led 2-1 going into the third, and were edged 3-2 by UBC on Saturday. Now finished with their string of five consecutive away games, the Cougars return to The Co-operators Centre for the next four contests including against Alberta this Friday night (7:00) and Saturday afternoon (3:00).

Women’s Basketball – The Cougars continued their winning ways last weekend, defeating Thompson Rivers and Victoria by lopsided scores in Calgary to notch their eighth and ninth consecutive wins of the non-conference schedule. The unanimous No. 1 selection in the Canada West preseason coaches’ poll, the Cougars will host Minot State (NCAA Div. II) on Saturday afternoon (3:00) at the CKHS in their final action before Canada West play begins on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 at Manitoba.

Rams Football (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 8) – The Rams (4-3) made a valiant comeback effort after spotting No. 2-ranked Calgary a 24-point lead in the first quarter on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium, but eventually fell by a 42-30 score to the undefeated Dinos. They’ll now play UBC two consecutive times – this Saturday’s meeting between the Rams and the Thunderbirds will decide second place in the conference standings and home-field advantage when the two teams match up again in the Canada West semifinals the following weekend. Saturday’s game will kick off at 1:00 PM at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars (4-2-0-0) battled to a weekend split with No. 2-ranked UBC, surrendering a late goal in a 4-3 loss on Friday before Jane Kish’s shutout and a goal by Tamara McVannel gave Regina a 1-0 win on Saturday. Now tied for second place in the Canada West standings with UBC and just one point behind first-place Alberta, the Cougars will head to Edmonton this weekend for games on Friday and Saturday against a Pandas team that’s currently the top-ranked team in the nation.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars (0-2) lost twice to a strong Calgary squad that opened up at No. 2 in the first U SPORTS poll of the year on Tuesday, falling in four sets on Friday and in straight sets on Saturday. They’ll continue the Canada West schedule on the road this weekend with an already-familiar opponent – the Cougars and the University of Winnipeg met three times in non-conference action, with Regina taking a pair of four-set wins and the Wesmen winning another in five sets. The Cougars and the Wesmen play on Friday night (6:00 CDT) and Saturday night (6:45 CDT) in Winnipeg.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars (0-2) were swept by Calgary last weekend at the CKHS, losing to the Dinos in three sets on Friday and in straight sets on Saturday. The U of R’s Canada West schedule starts with six consecutive matches against teams ranked in the U SPORTS Top Ten, and that string continues this Friday night (7:45 CDT) and Saturday night (5:00 CDT) at Winnipeg.

Cross Country – After sending a small contingent to the Saskatchewan Age Group Championships on Saturday in Yorkton, the Cougars will now gear up for their final meet before the U SPORTS Championships in November. The team will travel to Edmonton to compete in the Stewart Cup, a meet which will be held on Saturday at Goldbar Park in the northeast part of the city.

Wrestling – The men’s and women’s teams open up the 2017-18 schedule this weekend with the Dino Open in Calgary. The women’s team will compete in the Clan Invitational (Burnaby, B.C.) and the Cougar Invitational (Regina) in November, while the men’s team has the Cougar Invitational and the Huskie Invitational (Saskatoon) on the schedule for next month.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars improved their non-conference record to 4-4 with two wins last weekend at the WolfPack Invitational, defeating tournament host Thompson Rivers by an 84-76 score on Friday and then outlasting UBC Okanagan for a 77-71 victory on Saturday. While the other 16 Canada West teams begin conference play this weekend, the Cougars will have this weekend off before travelling for road games at Manitoba on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4.

Women’s Soccer – The Cougars (1-7-6) came into last weekend needing wins over Winnipeg and Manitoba to sneak into the Canada West postseason. They came through on Saturday with a tight 1-0 win over Winnipeg to keep their playoff hopes alive, but surrendered a goal in the 44th minute on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to the Bisons that ended their season. With only one player in her fifth year on the roster – midfielder Shayla Kapila – the Cougars expect to return the majority of their key contributors to their 2018 squad.

(Braden Konschuh/Cougar Athletics)

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 many people will show up at Taylor Field today as the west-side grandstand comes down?  I would think a great deal of Rider Nation will come to see it. Why wouldn't they?  Yes, what you have now is state-of-the-art, but Taylor Field is where your love of the game started.  It is where you saw Ronnie and George do their thing.  It is where you saw Dave Ridgway make kick after kick after kick, it was where you saw Bobby Jurasin, Bill Baker and John Chick sack opposing quarterbacks and it is where Darian Durant and the 2013 Riders won the Grey Cup on what is likely the biggest night in Saskatchewan sports history.

It will be interesting to see the looks on the faces of those who went to the archaic football cathedral to cheer on their team as the building comes tumbling down. Many have said the numerous pictures that have been taken since deconstruction started have been tough because of the memories they have watching the game in there. I completely agree.  While none of us would trade what we have now, there is no denying Taylor Field holds special football memories for many people in this city, this province and the CFL as a whole.

It is also ironic that the building that Durant brought joy to so many on that November 2013 night comes tumbling down on the same day Darian makes his first appearance at Mosaic Stadium as a member of the opposition.  Some will say Darian's career is crumbling away much like Taylor Field and the way this season has gone, they have every right to.  One thing is for sure and that is Darian doesn't think so. What type of reaction will he get? That is the hot topic of the day---at least if Thursday's Sportscage was any indication.

 I am hoping those who realize what he did for this organization will give him the respect he is due. Yes, the ending was one I think both sides would like to forget, but at the end of the day, there is no doubting what Darian did for the Riders. The 2013 Western semi-final should be enough. Without those efforts, we aren't seeing him and others get the Grey Cup on their home field.

--The votes for CFL team awards are being made.  I do not get a vote.  If I were, it would go like this
  • Most Outstanding Player  -- Duron Carter (not an easy decision either)
  • Top Defensive Player - Ed Gainey (not an easy decision either)
  • Top Offensive Lineman - Brendon Labatte
  • Top Canadian - Brandon Bridge
  • Top Rookie - Tobi Antigha 
  • Top Special Teams Player - Tyler Crapigna 
You don't get a vote either, so who are your guys?

--Week 8 NFL Lock of The Week --  Saints over Bears
   Week 8 NFL Upset of The Week --  Lions over Steelers

--I have nothing wrong with Vancouver, but I don't really want to hop on a plane and go there two straight weekends. I think the U of R Rams feel the same way.  It is winner gets home-field tomorrow afternoon at Thunderbird Stadium when the Rams meet UBC. Win the game and you host UBC next weekend in a Canada West semi-final. Lose and you do it all again in Vancouver next weekend.  I'm expecting playoff-type football from both teams with neither wanting to surrender anything. It should be a ring-a-ding-dong dandy. I'll have it all for you alongside Addison Richards at 2 o'clock SK time.

--Game 7 of last year's World Series was one to remember.  Game 2 of this year's World Series may have topped it. If you are a huge fan of the Astros or Dodgers, I don't know how you got through that one. Oh wait I do, because I had to in Game 7 last year!  From Vin Scully's appearance to the final out, it was must-watch TV.  I've said it once, I'll say it again----sports is the ultimate reality TV. You just can't write that stuff up.

--I'm not a Yankees fan, but they blew it in letting Joe Girardi walk away. No manager has won as much as Girardi since he took over the Bronx Bombers. Does this pave the way for Dusty Baker to move in? Somehow that may have made Yankee fans scream!

--The Vancouver Whitecaps had 25000 fans for a playoff game against San Jose. The BC Lions had a shade under 20000 for their home game against Edmonton. Please keep telling me how Major League Soccer is not a threat to the CFL.  The blame doesn't fall on the CFL here though, it falls on the Lions much like it falls on the Argos and Alouettes in Toronto and Montreal.  Marketing, marketing, marketing,  I don't know how much tickets are for both teams, but I am guessing it is more affordable to go watch the Whitecaps.

--With a month to go, the 105th Grey Cup is sold out. Ottawa is going to be a fantastic host. The fact the game is sold out with a month to go until the game is also a very positive sign for the league. There is a lot of good in the CFL, but sadly it gets overshadowed by the bad that at times can't be ignored.

--How much longer does Marc Bergevin have in Montreal? When he goes, will Claude Julien follow?

--Those who said the Vegas Golden Knights would be better than Arizona might as well just say they won that bet now. Will Arizona ever win? Who is the #1 pick supposed to be.  The Coyotes might very well be the Alouettes of the NHL. Oh wait, Montreal has at least won something.

-Is that BBQ smokehouse pizza from Little Caesars any good?  That commercial makes me want to buy one, but will I regret it after?

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Darian Durant Talks About His Return to Saskatchewan

Darian Durant is back in Saskatchewan.

The long-time Rider, who will be the starting QB for the Montreal Alouettes Friday night, spoke about his return and what will be going through his head when the two teams battle at Mosaic Stadium.

Week 8 NFL Capsules

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Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have a home date against the Miami Dolphins to start Week 8 of the NFL season. For a preview of that game, and the others this weekend. click here

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Durant To Start For Alouettes Friday

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Given his choice between two, and potentially, three quarterbacks, Kavis Reed predictably went with his heart. In this season of disarray, the Alouettes’ general manager remains compassionate to a fault.
With the Als building toward the future, one painstaking game at a time, Reed could have started rookie Matthew Shiltz at quarterback Friday night, when Montreal meets the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium. Instead, Darian Durant, in his return to Regina, will try to end a nine-game losing streak.

“He’s coming back to Saskatchewan. He’s legendary there. When you look at where we are in the standings and what the end of our season looks like, why not give (Durant) an opportunity for the things he’s done … for this league,” Reed, the Als interim head coach, said after practice Tuesday.
“A lot of thought went into it. I think it’s healthy for him to start,” Reed added. “What is good and what is right is to start Darian in Saskatchewan.”

Durant spend the first 11 seasons of his Canadian Football League career in Saskatchewan before being traded to the Als last January, providing Montreal with its first legitimate threat at the position since the retirement of Anthony Calvillo. Things, of course, haven’t worked out for Durant or the Als, the future of the 35-year-old — at least with Montreal — clouded in uncertainty.

Durant has passed for 3,107 yards and 15 touchdowns, but also has been intercepted 15 times. He failed to complete a game, yet again, last Sunday, replaced by Shiltz to begin the second half against Hamilton.

But it would have shown a lack of decency on Reed’s part to leave Durant on the bench this week. Truth be told, if he and the offence continue to struggle Friday night, Durant will wind up there, eventually.

Reed also said it would have put Shiltz in a potentially tenuous position at this point of his career having to start in a hostile environment. If he proves to be the Als’ quarterback of the future — no certainty — he’ll eventually experience enough of those scenarios.

Durant, of course, said it’s just another game, especially since he has never played at new Mosaic Stadium. Emotions aside, he’s simply trying to direct this team to a much-required victory for morale.
“It’s not about proving points anymore. What’s done is done,” Durant said. “I don’t try to read in between the lines. I’ve been around this business too long. I’ve seen guys being told one thing and it’s been something completely different. I’ve seen guys have a feeling this is going to happen and the total opposite happens.

“Who knows what next year holds? My job’s to help this team win and show I still have a lot of football left in me. I’ve had a losing season before. I’ve had people tell me I’m done before — and I’ve come back to win Grey Cups.”

Meanwhile, veteran slotback Nik Lewis, who last Sunday told the Montreal Gazette he didn’t expect to play again in 2017, now is scheduled to start against the Riders. And he’s mentally preparing for it to be the final game of his career — unless, of course, it isn’t.

“I’ll get an opportunity to walk off the field the way I want to. I’m pretty sure this will be my last game,” the 35-year-old said. “I’ll make the decision in the off-season. It all comes down to who comes in next (as head coach). If they want me around as a player, I’ll be ready to go. I feel like I have a lot left. But I’m also ready to transition (into retirement).

“I’m at peace with this being it — if it is.”

(Herb Zurkowsky/Montreal Gazette) 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

World Series Preview

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First Base:

Astros: Yuli Gurriel. The 33-year-old rookie from Cuba has made a pretty smooth transition to the majors after signing a $47.5 million, five-year contract. A right-handed hitter with pop, he’s solved a problem spot for Houston at first base and provided a clutch bat in October, batting .366 in the AL playoffs.

Dodgers: Cody Bellinger. The runaway favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, Bellinger set an NL rookie record with 39 home runs — second in the league this season to Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton (59). Bellinger made his debut April 25 and wound up leading the team in RBIs (97) and runs (87). His natural power belies a lean build, and he’s shown an excellent glove at first base. His father, Clay, was a light-hitting backup on championship teams with the Yankees.

Edge: Dodgers.


Second Base:

Astros: Jose Altuve. Size matters not. The 5-foot-6 (and that’s generous) dynamo is one of the best players in the game. Altuve batted .346 this season, winning his second straight batting crown and third overall. He clocked 24 homers, stole 32 bases and had 204 hits to lead the AL for the fourth season in a row, making him a top contender for MVP along with giant Yankees rookie Aaron Judge. Altuve put on a show in the playoffs, too, hitting .400 with five homers to go with acrobatic defense and daring baserunning. That performance included three home runs in the Division Series opener against Boston, two off Chris Sale. At the plate, Altuve hammers even the hardest heat.

Dodgers: Logan Forsythe or Chase Utley. After two productive seasons with Tampa Bay, the right-handed-hitting Forsythe was obtained in an offseason trade but dipped to .224 with six homers and 36 RBIs. He has a good eye and is batting .316 in his first postseason. The 38-year-old Utley, a six-time All-Star from 2006-14, remains a hard-nosed player who sees time against righties. Utley homered in his first World Series at-bat with Philadelphia in 2008 and has a wealth of postseason experience. He’s 0 for 9 with four strikeouts this year, though.

Edge: Astros.



Astros: Carlos Correa. The first pick in the 2012 amateur draft out of Puerto Rico, the 23-year-old Correa is one of baseball’s brightest young stars. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year is an outstanding athlete who has power to all fields and can really play shortstop.

Dodgers: Corey Seager. Another one of the game’s top young talents, the 23-year-old Seager was last season’s NL Rookie of the Year and finished third in MVP voting. A two-time All-Star already, Seager is expected back in the lineup after missing the NL Championship Series against the Cubs with a back injury. His older brother, Kyle, is a fine third baseman for the Seattle Mariners.

Edge: Astros.


Third Base:

Astros: Alex Bregman. Drafted second overall in 2015 out of LSU, Bregman batted .284 with 19 homers, 71 RBIs and 39 doubles this year in his first full major league season. He hit .190 in the playoffs but did have two homers, two doubles and five RBIs. He’s a converted shortstop with good skills at the hot corner.

Dodgers: Justin Turner. The red-bearded bopper, a part-time player with minimal power early in his career, was cast off by the Orioles and Mets. He caught on with the Dodgers in his native Southern California, remade his swing and morphed into a very dangerous hitter who earned his first All-Star nod this year. Turner was co-MVP of the NLCS after socking a game-winning homer, and he’s a .368 career postseason hitter with five homers and 24 RBIs in 26 games. What a find.

Edge: Dodgers.



Astros: Brian McCann or Evan Gattis. A seven-time All-Star from 2006-13, the 33-year-old McCann was traded by the Yankees last offseason to make room for Gary Sanchez behind the plate. After an 0-for-20 slump, McCann delivered a couple of big hits in the final two games of the ALCS to help beat New York — which must have felt good. He isn’t quite the hitter he used to be, but McCann remains a steady presence and respected leader. The brawny Gattis offers raw power from the right side and sometimes catches against lefties.

Dodgers: Austin Barnes or Yasmani Grandal. With an .895 OPS in 262 plate appearances and athletic defensive skills behind the dish, the surprising Barnes appears to have wrested much of the playing time away from Grandal at this point. Barnes almost certainly will catch the Series opener, though Grandal could get back in there against some right-handed pitching. He has 49 home runs over the past two seasons but is hitting .093 with one homer and 19 strikeouts in 43 career postseason at-bats — only five this October.

Edge: Astros.


Left Field:

Astros: Marwin Gonzalez. The versatile switch-hitter can play all over the diamond and earned a regular role this year with a breakout season. Gonzalez batted .303 with 23 homers and a team-high 90 RBIs, but struggled at the plate during the playoffs.

Dodgers: Enrique Hernandez, Andre Ethier or Curtis Granderson. Hernandez, another utility player by trade, brings instant energy and a live right-handed bat that lands him in the middle of the lineup against lefties. He had a career night and a magical moment in the NLCS clincher at Wrigley Field, with three home runs and a record seven RBIs. The slumping Granderson might not be an automatic start against righties, but that’s where the depth on Los Angeles’ versatile roster really comes in handy. Enter the 35-year-old Ethier, an old pro who homered in the NLCS after missing most of the past two seasons with injuries.

Edge: Astros.


Center Field:

Astros: George Springer. With rare power at the top of the lineup, the athletic Springer had 34 homers and 85 RBIs this season and made his first All-Star team. He hit nine leadoff home runs, most in the majors, and can definitely go get it in center field. Springer batted .412 with a homer and two doubles in the ALDS but only .115 (3 for 26) in the ALCS.

Dodgers: Chris Taylor. Another versatile player who has excelled after being pulled off the scrap heap by the opportunistic Dodgers. Taylor, like Turner, also changed his swing to generate more power and it paid off. The former Seattle shortstop came out of nowhere this season to establish himself as an everyday leadoff hitter, batting .288 with 21 homers, 72 RBIs and 17 steals. He helped fill in at shortstop for Seager during the NLCS and took home co-MVP honors with Turner after compiling a 1.248 OPS with two homers and four extra-base hits in five games.

Edge: Astros.


Right Field:

Astros: Josh Reddick. Winner of a 2012 Gold Glove, Reddick spent the final two months of last season with the Dodgers after being traded from Oakland. He signed a $52 million, four-year contract with Houston in the offseason and batted .314 with 13 homers and 82 RBIs. He hit .375 in the ALDS but went 1 for 25 against the Yankees, finally snapping a long hitless skid late in the series.

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig. Bursting with tools and talent, Puig was aptly nicknamed “The Wild Horse” by revered broadcaster Vin Scully. The enigmatic outfielder from Cuba was runner-up for 2013 NL Rookie of the Year and a starter in the All-Star Game the following season. But he fell out of such favor with the Dodgers that they demoted him to the minors last year. He’s bounced back with the best full season of his career (28 homers, 74 RBIs), and put up huge numbers in the NL playoffs with a 1.169 OPS. Puig’s speed, rocket arm and powerful swing still come with some discipline issues, cocky antics and bat flips that rankle opponents. But his approach at the plate has matured and he’s playing consistently excellent baseball lately. Seems to be having plenty of fun, too.

Edge: Dodgers.


Designated Hitter:

Astros: Gattis or Carlos Beltran. Gattis is a throwback who doesn’t wear batting gloves and looks like some kind of mountain man. He swings his lumber like a club and has an incredible back story that brought him to the big leagues after he just about gave up baseball and was working odd jobs to barely make ends meet. The 40-year-old Beltran, one of the game’s greatest postseason performers, returned to Houston this season hoping for his first World Series ring. The respected switch-hitter went 1 for 12 with four strikeouts in the ALCS but has embraced his leadership role of wise and savvy veteran.

Dodgers: Ethier, Grandal or Hernandez. With AL rules in play when the World Series shifts to Houston for Game 3, the Dodgers will have plenty of options at DH. Ethier or Grandal could offer left-handed pop against a right-handed pitcher. Hernandez seems a lock to be in the lineup against lefties, at least. Seager might also show up in the spot, depending on how he’s moving defensively.

Edge: Astros.


Starting Pitchers:

Astros: For a team that went all seven games in the ALCS, the Astros are in good shape with their solid rotation. They can start left-hander Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA) in the opener and fellow Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in Game 2 on regular rest. Verlander is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA this postseason, including his first career relief appearance. The ALCS MVP is 9-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 67 strikeouts in nine outings for Houston since agreeing to a trade from Detroit that was completed only seconds before the Aug. 31 midnight deadline for postseason eligibility. Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62) and Lance McCullers Jr. (7-4, 4.25) combined to shut out the Yankees in Game 7. They both have good stuff and would make fine options for Games 3 and 4 in any order — if the Astros don’t need to use them too much out of the bullpen early in the series. McCullers, an All-Star in July, features a wipeout curveball and appears to be rounding back into form following an injury-plagued second half.

Dodgers: It all starts with Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA, 202 Ks), who has waited his entire career for this moment, a chance to pitch in the World Series. The three-time Cy Young Award winner goes in Game 1 on regular rest at home. He won the NLCS clincher at Wrigley Field with a stingy outing, but has had his share of postseason struggles. The left-hander with five ERA titles and seven All-Star selections is 6-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 21 playoff games, including 2-0 this year. After that comes lefty Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32), who pitches well at home. Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86, 209 Ks) was obtained from Texas at the July 31 trade deadline to give the rotation a right-handed ace and he delivered in the NL playoffs, winning both his starts. Left-hander Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72) hasn’t had a chance to pitch much in this postseason following the best year of his career.

Edge: Even.



Astros: On paper, this is where Houston comes up woefully short. While the Astros have several capable relievers with successful track records, including Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and closer Ken Giles, manager A.J. Hinch has been hesitant to use some of them in big games lately. A few lack much October experience, and the group as a whole hasn’t performed very well when called upon. Instead, the creative Astros have used starters such as Verlander, McCullers, Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh to fill gaps in the mid-to-late innings. Whether they can keep that up remains to be seen.

Dodgers: Anchored by Kenley Jansen, perhaps the most dominant closer in baseball, the Dodgers have a deep bullpen that’s been a big reason for their success. Los Angeles relievers have thrown 23 straight scoreless innings in the postseason, dating to Game 2 of the Division Series against Arizona. Jansen and setup man Brandon Morrow look untouchable right now, combining for 15 strikeouts and one hit allowed in nine scoreless NLCS innings. The unit, which helped the Dodgers compile an NL-low 3.38 ERA this season, has only been augmented by starter Kenta Maeda and the midseason additions of left-handers Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson. Because of that lights-out bullpen, manager Dave Roberts doesn’t even ask his starters to go very far.

Edge: Dodgers.


Pick: Astros in 6.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Brendon Labatte Signs Four Year Contract Extension

Image result for brendon labatte

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced national offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte has signed a four-year contract extension to remain with the team through the 2021 season.       

LaBatte (6’4 – 304 lbs.) is currently in his tenth CFL season and sixth with the Riders after joining the team as a free agent in February, 2012. To date, the University of Regina product has started 83 of 85 regular season games, four playoff games, and one Grey Cup for the Green and White. 

Before joining the Riders, the 31-year-old Weyburn, SK native spent four seasons, playing 70 regular-season games, two playoff games and the 2011 Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after the team selected him in the first round (6th overall) of the 2008 CFL Draft.

LaBatte is a seven-time division all-star, four-time CFL all-star and was named CFL most outstanding offensive lineman in 2013. He won his first Grey Cup in 2013 as a member of the Roughriders.     

NHL Three Stars Of Week

Stars of the Week, Stamkos, Kucherov, Couture

 Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov and San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 22.

Stamkos posted four multi-point games, compiling a League-leading nine assists and 11 points (2-9—11) to power the Lightning (7-1-1, 15 points) to a 3-0-1 week and first place in the overall NHL standings. He collected two assists in a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings Oct. 16, three points (1-2—3) in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils Oct. 17 and two more helpers in a 2-0 triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 19. Stamkos capped the week with 1-3—4, including the winning goal and his ninth career four-point performance, in a 7-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins Oct. 21. The 27-year-old Markham, Ont., native has registered at least one point in all nine of his appearances this season, pacing the NHL with 15 assists and 18 points. Stamkos is the first player to average at least two points through his team’s first nine games of a season since 2012-13, when Thomas Vanek accomplished the feat with the Buffalo Sabres (8-11—19 in 9 GP).

Kucherov shared the League lead with five goals and ranked second with eight points (5-3—8) in four outings to help the Lightning equal their best nine-game start to a season in franchise history (also 7-1-1 in 2003-04). He scored in each of his first two contests of the week, recording 2-0—2 (including the game-winning goal) in a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings Oct. 16 and 1-1—2 in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Devils Oct. 17. In doing so, Kucherov became the sixth player in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) – and first since 1992-93 – to register at least one goal in each of his club’s first seven games of a season. He then added one assist in a 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets Oct. 19 and 2-1—3 in a 7-1 triumph against the Penguins Oct. 21. The 24-year-old Maykop, Russia, native also has posted at least one point in each of his first nine outings this season, tying for the League lead with 10 goals and placing second with 16 points.

Couture ranked third in the NHL with 5-2—7 in three games to lead the Sharks (3-4-0, 6 points) to a pair of wins. He posted 2-2—4, his third career four-point outing, in a 5-2 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 17. After being held off the scoresheet in a 3-0 victory against the Devils Oct. 20, Couture notched his second career hat trick (also March 29, 2016 at VAN) in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders Oct. 21. The 28-year-old Guelph, Ont., native has collected 185-199—384 in 511 career NHL games, including a team-high 6-2—8 in seven contests this season.

(NHL Media) 

Something To "Mitch" About

OH MY GOODNESS!!  Where do you start!  Was it just me or did the coffee taste better Saturday morning? Did the air seem fresher Saturday and was everyone in a good mood.  It is amazing what beating the Calgary Stampeders can do for a fan-base. Of course, win or lose no one can seemingly bother to use a signal light in this city when out and about, but that is another story for another time.

As one person said on my Twitter account Friday night once the 30-7 beatdown of the Stampeders was over, is it nicer seeing the Riders win or just seeing Calgary lose.  It may be the latter!  What a night at McMahon and what a night for the man who orchestrated it all--the one and only Chris Jones.

The man in charge once again showed he is a riverboat gambler, and methinks he sucked all of us in this week. It took a while to figure it out, but once the pieces came into place, it all came into shape.

While we knew about the events of Monday's practice with the Duron Carter-Sam Williams fight, I had no idea that Carter had been working out with the defensive backs at that get-together.  Those who were in attendance at said practice obviously didn't either or else something would have been said.  I don't know if the "scrap" was part of the plan, but Chris Jones took all the focus away from his football team and how to beat Calgary and put it all on Carter's shoulders and his own.  The questions didn't revolve about how to stop Jerome Messam, how to rebound from the tough loss to Ottawa, how do you beat the Stampeders juggernaut, etc. etc. etc  It was all Duron Carter and how is he going to play in a completely foreign position.  It was all "Is Chris Jones crazy?" Why are you doing this. As we saw, the plan worked to perfection. Did it ever! Not only did it allow his team to concentrate on the task at hand, it made Calgary go "HUH?" and frankly, lose their focus somewhat.

The Riders just went out and did their thing. They went out and they slapped the CFL bullies right in the mouth and this just in, they didn't respond well.  The shenanigans at the end of the first half and the game proved that.  Do you think Calgary is relishing a possible date in the Western final against that team?  One has to wonder how Winnipeg is feeling as well after seeing that result especially after losing to the Argos in front of a few hundred fans.

While Duron Carter has made many plays in his one year in Rider green, it is safe to say his pick-six of Bo Levi Mitchell will go down as one of the biggest plays of the season and one of the biggest plays we have seen in Riderville since Darian Durant hit Geroy Simon for his first touchdown of Grey Cup 2013.  If the Riders were to somehow end this season with a Grey Cup, the Carter TD could be equated with the Kerry Joseph QB draw in the 2007 Labour Day Classic.   As Carter twisted and turned his way through the Calgary offence, I don't think there was any Rider fan or CFL fan who were amazed at what they saw. As expected, the internet exploded with Bo Levi's chirp at Carter being the focus of attention.  The TD call from Rod Pedersen which is punctuated by a "SHUT YOUR MOUTH BO LEVI" is the call of the year and one that went viral in the hours that followed.

While Mitchell did take his fair share of grief for the pick-six, he was also gracious enough to go back to Twitter after the game to praise the Riders and Carter. You can dislike the guy all you want, but you do have to respect him.  He is good for the CFL, and that can't be denied.  Carter is also good for the CFL, but the difference between himself and Mitchell is quite vast as you know.

The next month is going to be a lot of fun in these parts as playoff football has returned.

--Playoff football is in the Rams future as well, but will that playoff game be in Regina or not.  For whatever reason, the Rams were not ready to go Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium as they were down 24-0 just 9 and a half minutes in.  Give credit to Steve Bryce's crew as they fought back to make a game of it, but when Calgary needed a play late in the 4th quarter on offence or defence they got it.  It is why one team is 7-0, and the other is 4-3.  The Rams know they will play UBC in the playoffs and they know the winner of next week's finale at TBirds Stadium will have home-field for that game.

--While playoff football is in the Rams future, the Thunder will look to next year as their season ended in Saskatoon Sunday as the Hilltops won yet another PFC Championship with a national title likely to follow.  The Thunder were down 6 in the 4th quarter, but they couldn't find a way to beat the Toppers with the final being 36-24. Congrats to them as the beat just doesn't stop.

--After the Rams game, I went by the old Mosaic Stadium once again to get a look at the place in its final days. It really is surreal to see the building in the shape it is in now knowing Rider Nation was still converging there less than a year ago.

This picture just sums it up with the old stadium being a skeleton now with the new one in all its glory standing behind it.  I have to think that by Easter, there won't be any remnants of the old girl as a big vacant lot will stand where so many football memories were made for so many people.

--Just when we thought we were going to see a Dodgers-Yankees World Series, the Houston Astros decided to step in and remind everyone about their team. We will see two 100 win teams compete in the World Series for the first time since the 70's. That's hard to believe.  The Yankees couldn't get the hits when they needed them in Games 6 and 7, and when they did get some hits, the Houston defence snuffed out scoring opportunities.  Center fielder George Springer thought he was Devon White with some of the catches he made in the final two games. The Dodgers will be favoured in the World Series as they should be after dispatching the Cubs in the NLCS.  As a baseball fan, I think we just ask for Clayton Kershaw to go up against Justin Verlander in a Game 7 because that would be fantastic.  The decision by the Astros to get Verlander has certainly paid off.

--The much-hyped Super Bowl rematch was a dud.  New England owned Atlanta on a foggy night in Foxboro.  I am starting to wonder if the Falcons have really recovered from that 4th quarter collapse at the Super Bowl because they have really looked nothing like the team that were oh so close to winning it all last year.

Meanwhile, NFL fans should be thankful that the New York Giants will play Cleveland . Both of those teams just re-define horrid. Speaking of the Giants. it was a historic day for football in this province at Met-Life Stadium when the Seahawks met the G-Men. I believe it is the first time in history two Saskatchewan boys (Jon Ryan & Brett Jones) have faced one another in an NFL game.  That is an accomplishment all in itself with many having a right to be very proud.

--The one thing I didn't want to have happen for the Regina Pats is happening.  A fan-base got spoiled after last season with some believing this team should be dominating the way it did last year.  The question being asked of this guy is "When does Paddock start making his moves?" It won't be for a while yet, but when it happens, this team will be more than capable of not only getting back to the Ed Chynoweth Cup final, but representing themselves well at the Memorial Cup.

--Keep fighting Craig! Former Riders, now Bombers scout Craig Smith let us know this week he has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. The work has already started to try and win this battle. Knowing Craig, he will give it every ounce of strength he has and be back scouting talent across this country and the U-S in short order.  The football world is in the huddle with him as he starts this fight.  Kick cancer's ass Craig. We all know you can do it.  Oh yeah, f**k cancer!

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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Too Little, Too Late For Regina Rams

 Courtesy: Piper Sports Photography

After 10 minutes of play, it looked as if the University of Calgary Dinos were going to have no problem with the University of Regina Rams in Canada West football play at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but the home team had other ideas.

The Dinos jumped out to a 24-0 lead, but Regina fought back and had a chance in the final two minutes to win before falling 42-30 to the number 2 ranked team in Canada to put their record at 4-3 with Calgary now 7-0

Regina cut the lead to 26-14 at the half and had reduced Calgary’s lead to 5, but they could not take the lead with their last hope coming in the game’s final moments but a potential game-winning drive was snuffed out by Calgary who scored a touchdown in the final seconds for the 12 point margin of victory.

Mitch Picton had a huge day for Regina as the Riders draft pick had 10 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns while Atlee Simon continued his torrid pace running the ball as he had 181 yards on the ground.

Regina quarterback Noah Picton became the all-time leading passer in Canada West history, surpassing former Ram Teale Orban’s career total of 9,449 yards early in the contest. He finished the game with 299 passing yards, bringing his career total to 9,736 with one game left in the 2017 season.

The Rams, who have already clinched a playoff spot, will finish the season next Saturday afternoon in Vancouver as they meet the UBC Thunderbirds.

The scenario is simple: a Regina win clinches second place and home field for the Rams, while a UBC victory would do the same for the Thunderbirds. Either way, the Rams and UBC will meet in the postseason for the right to play for the Hardy Cup.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Depth Charts For Friday's Riders-Stampeders Game

620 CKRM's game-day coverage starts at 4 with kickoff at 7 

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Home Schedule – Friday
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 6:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 8:00 PM (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Saturday
Women’s Soccer – vs. Winnipeg, 12:00 PM (U of R Field)
Rams Football – vs. Calgary, 2:00 PM (Mosaic Stadium)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 5:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Calgary, 7:00 PM (CKHS)
Women’s Hockey – vs. UBC, 7:00 PM (The Co-operators Centre)

Home Schedule – Sunday
Women’s Soccer – vs. Manitoba, 12:00 PM (U of R Field)

Away Schedule – Friday
Men’s Basketball – at Thompson Rivers, 3:00 PM PDT (Kamloops, B.C.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Thompson Rivers, 5:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Hockey – at UBC, 7:00 PM PDT (Vancouver, B.C.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Cross Country – at Sask Athletics Age Group Championships (Yorkton, Sask.)
Men’s Basketball – vs. UBC Okanagan, 11:00 AM PDT (Kamloops, B.C.)
Men’s Hockey – at UBC, 2:00 PM PDT (Vancouver, B.C.)
Women’s Basketball – vs. Victoria, 7:00 PM (Calgary, Alta.)

Rams Football (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 8) – The Rams (4-2) clinched a playoff spot after emerging victorious in what was the highest-scoring game in team history, outlasting Alberta for a 58-55 double-overtime road win on Saturday afternoon. Atlee Simon became the school’s all-time touchdown king and was named the Canada West Offensive Player of the Week, Mitchell Picton took over as the U of R’s career leader in touchdown catches, and Daniel Scraper earned Canada West Special Teams Player of the Week honours after drilling a 26-yard game-winning field goal in the second extra session. The Rams will take a crack at unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Calgary (6-0) this Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:00.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars (3-1-0-0) vaulted into a tie for first place in the Canada West standings with a big six-point weekend against Mount Royal, taking a 4-2 win on Friday and a 3-2 win on Saturday. Jaycee Magwood and Jensen Smigelsky both had three-point weekends to lead the way offensively for the Cougars, who are right back at home this weekend with games against the team they’re tied with for tops in the conference standings. They’ll play UBC on Friday night and Saturday night at The Co-operators Centre, with both games set to start at 7:00.

Women’s Volleyball – Now finished with the non-conference schedule after a pair of tune-up matches against Saskatchewan at Ochapowace First Nation, the Cougars will move into Canada West play beginning this weekend at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport. The Cougars will host Calgary on Friday night (6:00) and Saturday night (7:00) to start off the conference schedule.

Men’s Volleyball – Now in their 40th season of intervarsity competition and 17th season as full members of Canada West, the Cougars lift the lid on the conference schedule this weekend with two matches against the University of Calgary. The Cougars, who played a non-conference schedule consisting of tournaments hosted by Brandon and the U of R, will meet the Dinos on Friday night (8:00) and Saturday night (5:00) at the CKHS.

Women’s Soccer – The Cougars (0-6-6) suffered a 5-0 loss to Canada West-leading Trinity Western last Friday, but battled Fraser Valley to a hard-fought 1-1 draw on Saturday thanks in large part to a goal in the 63rd minute by Daniela Castro. The Cougars still have a chance to qualify for the playoffs but will need wins over both Winnipeg and Manitoba this weekend combined with a Saskatchewan win over Manitoba. The Cougars will battle the Wesmen on Saturday and the Bisons on Sunday. Both games are scheduled for a noon start at the U of R Field.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars (1-2-1) had a three-point road weekend at Mount Royal, taking a 7-6 shootout win on Friday before losing 5-4 on Saturday in another shootout. Brody Luhning and Ian McNulty both had four-point weekends for the Cougars, with Luhning racking up four assists and McNulty scoring a goal and adding three helpers. Regina heads to the West Coast this weekend for a pair of games against a 1-3-0 UBC squad.

Women’s Basketball – The Cougars marched through their second straight three-win weekend with home victories over Windsor (79-46), Saskatchewan (74-73), and Brandon (107-55) to take the Cougar Classic title. The team now has a 7-1 non-conference record and will take a seven-game winning streak into Calgary this weekend, where they’ll play Thompson Rivers and Victoria in two of their final three tune-up contests before Canada West play starts.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars travelled east for the second consecutive weekend, this time playing in the Naismith Classic at the University of Waterloo. After losses to Ottawa and Wilfrid Laurier to start out the tournament, the Cougars finished off with a nice 93-75 win over host Waterloo to improve their non-conference record to 2-4 on the season. The Cougars will play Thompson Rivers and UBC Okanagan this Friday and Saturday at the WolfPack Invitational in Kamloops, B.C.

Cross Country – Adam Strueby was second overall and the first U SPORTS runner across the line on Saturday at the Vikes Invitational in Victoria with a 10K time of 31:17. Alex Eiswerth and Marc Turmel finished in 10th place and 11th place with times of 32:20 and 32:21, respectively, to help the Cougars place fourth in the tightly packed team standings. The Cougars will send a small crew to the Sask Athletics Age Group Championships this Saturday in Yorkton.

Swimming – The Cougars had their first meet of the 2017-18 season over the weekend at the Lawson Aquatic Centre. Brian Palaschuk won both the 100-metre freestyle and the 100-metre backstroke at the Fall Break Out, while newcomer Etienne Paquin-Foisy took first in the 100-metre butterfly and Noah Wasyliw won the 100-metre breaststroke. Eva Madar led the women’s team with first-place efforts in both the 100-metre freestyle and the 100-metre butterfly. The Cougars will now prepare for the Colleges Cup Pacific, which will be hosted by UBC on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4.

Braden Konschuh
Sports Information Director
University of Regina

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.

--As the Riders go into Calgary tonight to play the Stampeders, I think it is safe to say this has been the most interesting and perhaps the most chaotic week the team has had under Chris Jones' watch.  It all started with the fight Monday involving Duron Carter.  One that had the enigmatic receiver sending Rider Nation into a frenzy with one cryptic seven-word tweet and one that will end with Carter playing receiver and defensive back against the Stamps.  What happened Monday? We will never know.  We know Carter and Sam Williams were involved, but that is it.  The team isn't talking about it, the coaches aren't talking it and everyone just wants to forget it.  If it wasn't Carter that was involved, it probably would be by now. 

As Chris Jones mentioned on Tuesday, boys will be boys and fights will happen. It is part of football. This team is fired up coming down the homestretch. Did Carter's attitude have anything to do what happened? Whether it did or it didn't, it doesn't matter because it shows an intensity around here that wasn't around last year when the team's fate was basically sealed by this time.  Yes, I have questions as to why Carter is playing on the corner against a good Calgary offence in what is a big game, but there is a method to Chris Jones' madness.

  Like he has numerous times in his short tenure here, he is rolling the dice. On some it has worked, on others it hasn't.  The one thing that can't be denied is he has all eyes on his football team again this weekend. The CFL won't admit it, but they love it.  The Riders move the needle much the way the Yankees do in MLB, the Patriots do in the NFL and the Leafs do in the NHL.  When people are talking about the Riders, they are talking about the CFL. It makes me wonder if the CFL would get more attention if Carter's antics were happening with him being a member of the Argos. You can't tell me it wouldn't help! No one at the league office is complaining when TSN leads its afternoon Sportscenter with the latest in Riderville because everyone who is a CFL fan is watching and those who aren't have to have a passing interest. 

What if Carter makes some impact plays on "D"? If he were to grab a pick six, Bo Levi Mitchell's Twitter account would be rudely assaulted by Rider fans. BLM threw the first salvo which Carter graciously accepted and threw back. Any chance Rider Nation has to chirp BLM is one they will take and like it or not, the Calgary quarterback is ready for it.  Like him or not, what he does on Twitter to get the fires rising is what the CFL needs.  It is harmless fun!  It is why we need more of this. 

--As we approach the final 3 weeks of the CFL season, here is a look at the standings if you seeded teams 1-9 

1. Calgary    27 pts
2. Winnipeg  22 pts
3. Edmonton 18 pts
4. Saskatchewan 16 pts
5. Ottawa 15 pts
6. Toronto 14 pts 
7. BC 12 pts
8. Hamilton 8 pts
9. Montreal 6 pts

We know that there will be a crossover team and that Calgary and either Ottawa or Toronto will get a first round bye as winners of the East.  IF you went 1-9, you would see the Stamps and Bombers would have a first round bye with Edmonton playing Toronto and Ottawa in Saskatchewan for Round 1.  However, going into the final 3 weeks BC would still have a shot and so would Ottawa and Toronto in a quest to get a first-round playoff game.  A Riders home playoff game would be there now, but would it be there after the weekend? There is a lot more drama in the 1-9 scenario than what we are currently getting.  While I know many want the current format to stay, there are many others who want change including me. 

--The Gordon Hayward injury from Tuesday night is absolutely horrific.  It might be one of the worst ones I've seen. The only one worse may be from the 2007 Vanier Cup when a running back from Manitoba suffered a gruesome broken leg.  When it was shown on the big screen at Skydome, a collective "OHHHHHHHH" came out from what was a good-sized crowd.  Many outlets decided not to show the sight of Hayward sitting on the court with his ankle and leg not looking the way it should.  It's out there if you haven't seen it. If you are squeamish, don't look for it.  If not, have at er, but be warned!

--Can we just fast forward the NHL season and have the Leafs play Vegas for the Stanley Cup? Meanwhile, Oilers fans like me are wondering what exactly is happening as the start has not been what we were expecting.  Connor McDavid has only scored in one game, the defence has been horrible and the goaltending has been sub-standard.  From what I have seen, the decision to trade Jordan Eberle instead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a mistake as RNH continues to play soft as he did in the Carolina game. Perhaps its the fact the Oilers are wearing those ugly orange uniforms at home instead of the traditional blue . Change it back! Maybe an OT win in Chicago will start turning the fortunes around. 

--While the Riders are in Calgary, the University of Calgary will be in Regina this weekend.  Much like the CFL, the road to the title will go through Calgary. The Dinos are 6-0 on the season so the 4-2 Rams have a huge challenge in front of them.  It will be a tough test for a Regina defence that has given up a lot of points in its last two games, but if Noah Picton and company can find a way to get 35-40 points, I like their chances. It is going to be a lot of fun Saturday at Mosaic. Game time is 2. Get out there and watch the likes of Noah Picton, Mitch Picton, Atlee Simon, Danny Nesbitt and Nick Dheilly. 

--On Sunday in Saskatoon, the Thunder and Hilltops will meet again for all the PFC marbles. It will be meeting #3 on the year between the two with each team having won on the road. This will be an outstanding football game with the winner likely going on in a couple of weeks to take the Canadian Bowl.  I am sure a lot of Regina fans will make the trip north and I am sure they will be met by many Hilltops fan to make it another October afternoon to remember with a lot on the line.

--Week 7 NFL Lock Of The Week --- Cowboys over 49ers
   Week 7 NFL Upset Of The Week --- Packers over Saints

The Sunday night game has the Falcons in New England in a rematch of last year's Super Bowl. It doesn't matter what the score is after three quarters, KEEP WATCHING! 

--It's been very quiet in Calgary since the re-election of Naheed Nenshi as mayor.  Yes, some members of the Flames weren't happy about it and voiced that displeasure on Twitter, but it would appear the Flames camp is either re-grouping or pouting. Whatever it is, the team should look to get a new person in front of the camera.  Ken King isn't going to help the cause any.  In my opinion, he should be replaced as the face of this fight.  I'm not the only one that feels that way as some in Calgary believe the same thing. If not, this situation won't improve anytime soon.

--RIP Gord Downie. The impact you had on many in this country is immense. Your music will keep your memory alive for years.

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Week 7 NFL Capsules

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Week 7 of the NFL season starts off with a game between AFC West rivals Kansas City and Oakland. For a look at that game and all the others in the NFL this weekend, click here 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Riders Discuss Monday's "Fight"

Duron Carter was talking, but wasn't really talking one day after an alleged fight with teammate Sam Williams during Monday's practice.  Jovon Johnson and Chris Jones also spoke out today. Here is a recap of what they said.




Make of it what you will!

Monday, October 16, 2017

MLB Expansion and ReAlignment???

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Ever since the Expos moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005, there has been an ongoing movement in the Canadian city to regain a major league franchise. There has even been talk of support for building a ballpark downtown, which was one of the missing ingredients that led to the Expos' departure.

In September, the folks in Portland, Ore., were given hope that they, too, could be home to an expansion team when commissioner Rob Manfred, speaking in Seattle, for the second year in a row mentioned Portland as a potential site for a franchise, and was quoted as saying "a team in the West" would be a part of any expansion.

And there is a legitimate ownership group in Portland that has the necessary financing along with support for a stadium, which would be partially funded by a $150 million grant. Approved by the state of Oregon to help finance a stadium when efforts were underway in 2003 to be the site for the relocation of the Expos (who instead moved to Washington, D.C.), the grant is still available.

There seems to be a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration. It will lead to major realignment and adjustments in schedule, which will allow MLB to address the growing concerns of the union about travel demands and off days.

One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel, particularly for teams on the East Coast and West Coast, and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles.

Consider four eight-team divisions with the addition of teams in Portland and Montreal:

East: Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

North: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, both New York franchises and Toronto.

Midwest: Both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.

West: Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Key elements of this alignment:

A 156-game schedule would include 24 total games against the eight teams in each of the three other divisions—three games against each opponent.
The schedule would include 12 games—six home and six road—against each of the seven divisional opponents.
 The format would provide for an off day every week (such as every Monday or Thursday) and would fit into the same foot print for beginning and ending as the 2018 schedule. The season could start on a weekend, which would offset only one three-game series played the week of the All-Star Game.
The 156-game schedule would reduce each team's slate by six games, but revenue could be made up by a major reduction in travel costs.
Fan interest could be maintained by allowing for the four first-place teams in each division to advance to the postseason, and having play-in games against the eight remaining teams with the best records.
The winners of the four wild card games would advance to the Division Series, which would feature a wild card team against each division champion.
Those four winners would advance to the Championship Series, and the winners of that round would meet in the World Series.
That would add postseason product to the broadcast packages and provide postseason hope for 12 of the 32 franchises, which could boost attendance in September, again offsetting any impact from the season being six games shorter.
With a day off every week, there would be a regular rest routine, much like prior to expansion when teams would often play Sunday doubleheaders and Monday would be off. It could be used for travel so teams did not have to make long flights, arriving in cities at 3 a.m. or later.
And the schedule would drastically reduce travel, while keeping teams in their time zones, except for the Rockies and Twins. They, however, would be playing teams in a time zone an hour earlier, which is less demanding than an hour later, and also provides increased TV ratings because of prime time viewing. The other intra-division teams would have to travel to Colorado or Minnesota just six games per year.
All teams would open the season with an inter-division series, and all out-of-division road trips would be two-city trips.

(Baseball America)