Sunday, September 30, 2018

What Did You Miss Sunday?

--Johnny Manziel threw his first CFL TD passes, but it wasn't enough. The Riders made it six wins in seven tries as they held off a pesky Alouettes squad 32-27.  Zach Collaros threw for just under 400 yards and a touchdown as the Riders improved to 9-5   They are now four points up on both Winnipeg and Edmonton for second in the West.

----NFL scores from Sunday were...

New England 38, Miami 7
Dallas 26, Detroit 24
Chicago 48, Tampa Bay 10
Green Bay 22, Buffalo 0
Jacksonville 31, N.Y. Jets 12
Cincinnati 37, Atlanta 36
Tennessee 26, Philadelphia 23, OT
Houston 37, Indianapolis 34, OT
Seattle 20, Arizona 17
New Orleans 33, N.Y. Giants 18
L.A. Chargers 29, San Francisco 27
Oakland 45, Cleveland 42, OT
Baltimore 26, Pittsburgh 16

--The Pats are still looking for their first win of the season.  They were beaten 2-1 at home by Moose Jaw on Sunday to drop their record to 0-4. The win was Moose Jaw's first of the season,

-- Capitals winger Tom Wilson has been offered an in-person hearing for what has been deemed an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues centre Oskar Sundqvist, the league announced Sunday. The incident in question occurred during the two teams’ pre-season tilt on Sunday, during which Wilson laid out Sundqvist with the high hit during the game’s second period. Wilson was given a game misconduct as a result and could now face a suspension of six games or more. Wilson is no stranger to suspensions and controversial hits.

--There is still some work to do before the baseball season is over. Two divisions need to be settled in tiebreaker games on Monday.  The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers both won Sunday meaning the two will play Monday afternoon in Chicago to determine the National League Central winner and the best record in the league.  The LA Dodgers will host Colorado to determine the National League West winner.  The losers of each game will meet in the wild-card game Wednesday.

What Did You Miss Saturday?

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 --Canadian University football has a new all-time passing leader and his name is Noah Picton.  The Rams quarterback broke the record in dramatic fashion as he hit Kyle Borsa with a 35 yard touchdown pass in overtime.  The Rams won the game over Manitoba 32-31 when linebacker Cole Benkic swatted away a potential game-winning two point convert at the line of scrimmage.  Regina is now 3-2 on the season.

--The Winnipeg Blue Bombers forced seven turnovers as they walked into Commonwealth Stadium and shocked the Eskimos 30-3.  Both teams are 7-7. In the other game Saturday, Hamilton blasted BC 40-10 as Jeremiah Masoli threw three first half TD passes.  BC is now 6-7 while Hamilton is 7-7

--Game 162 in the majors will have some meaning for four teams.  Going into the last day of baseball's regular season, the NL Central and NL West are up for grabs.  Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs are tied for the lead in the Central with both teams at home on Sunday while Colorado and the LA Dodgers are tied for first in the West with the Rockies home on the season's last day and the Dodgers on the road.

--Team USA have been set the task of having to equal Ryder Cup history if they’re to retain the trophy on Sunday.Only nine teams in the 41 past editions of the biennial event have come from behind on the final day to win or draw the contest, with just one this century producing a winning Sunday comeback. Jim Furyk's side trail 10-6 heading into the Sunday singles in France, leaving an uphill battle to register their first Ryder Cup victory on foreign soil since 1993.

--It appears as though Sidney Crosby won't be getting a street named after him in his home province of Nova Scotia anytime soon. The city of Halifax had discussed renaming Dartmouth's Forest Hills Parkway to Sidney Crosby Parkway, but the staff is now advising against it. Crosby does not yet meet the existing criteria for commemorative naming because he's not retired, according to the Canadian Press' Alex Cooke.  A report states that while staff acknowledges "the broad range of positive impacts that Sidney Crosby's athletic achievements have on the local community," renaming the street after him would conflict with municipal policies

Friday, September 28, 2018

What Did You Miss Friday?

--The Calgary Stampeders have clinched a playoff spot.  They beat Toronto 38-16 to advance to the playoffs for a club record 14th straight year, While the Argos were only down by four points at halftime, the Stamps completely took over in the second half and scored 24 unanswered points to improve their record to 11-2 while handing Toronto their fifth straight loss.

--A major upset in Canada West football. Alberta hung on to beat UBC 26-21.  The Thunderbirds, who were selected to win the conference this season, are 1-4 and in last place.  On Saturday, the Rams are in Manitoba to face the Bisons in a battle of 2-2 teams.  The game can be heard on 620 CKRM starting at 1.

--Dylan Cozens had a hat-trick as the Lethbridge Hurricanes doubled the Regina Pats 8-4 at the Brandt Centre.  The Pats, now 0-3 on the season, will try to get their first win Sunday when the Moose Jaw Warriors visit in a 4 o'clock start.

--The AL wild-card game will be in the Bronx, where the New York Yankees bats have always felt at home. The Yankees cleared the Fenway fences four times on Friday night to tie the major league single-season home run record, clinching home-field advantage for the upcoming one-game playoff against Oakland with a 11-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox.  Colorado also clinched a playoff spot with a win over Washington

--Europe has pulled off a historic performance at the Ryder Cup. The home team completed its first shutout in any session since 1989 and its first sweep ever in foursomes. Just like that, Europe turned a 3-1 deficit after Friday morning fourballs into a 5-3 lead heading to Saturday. How big was this rout?
No match reached the 17th hole.

This And That

--Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they come in no particular order.

--Chris Jones will never say it with the cameras rolling and the microphones on, but he must be so excited at seeing what his defence will do Sunday in Montreal against Johnny Manziel.  I am sure Jones is ready to throw things at Manziel that will give him nightmares.  I have no idea what looks Jones is going to have for Johnny Football, but I think its safe to say Manziel could have a rough afternoon. At the end of the day, I see the Riders winning this by a lot.

--There's a lot of talk in football circles about Mark Chapman deciding to sign a contract with the new Alliance of American Football instead of signing one to play in the CFL after a failed attempt to be in the NFL.  At the end of the day, money is the main issue.  Chapman can get more playing south of the border than he can in the CFL.  Whether or not the talent level is greater than the CFL is something we can't discuss at this time because we don't know, but what we do know is he is not the only player to decide on a career in the AAF than the CFL.   Some believe the AAF and XFL 2.0 won't survive which is understandable.  As it stands right now though, the CFL must be very wary of what is happening.  Players need to be making more money which will be just one of the issues in what I think will be a very contentious off-season as the league and the PA try to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.  I still think it would be suicidal for the CFL to have a labour stoppage, but I also think we might get one. If it does, some won't even notice while others may need therapy.  I don't think I have to tell you what group Rider Nation will be in.

--Is it just me or has CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie disappeared? Has he been to a game in Regina this year? If he has, I missed it.  While I haven't seen all CFL games this year, I don't recall seeing him at many.

--I'm not sure how we got on the topic, but the one of a new arena in downtown Regina resurfaced on the Sportscage.  If you are going to build one, how big is it going to be?  Unless you have grand plans for said building, why bother.   Regina doesn't need a 15-20,000 seat hockey arena that will perhaps lure concerts away from SaskTel Centre.  The business model isn't there.  Regina has Mosaic Stadium, Saskatoon has SaskTel Centre.  Reginans will ask why Mosaic isn't domed.  What would the cost have that been? Who would have that cost downloaded on them? The same people who complain event prices are too high now--that's who.

The Brandt Centre is old, but it still serves a purpose and the renovations done inside the building for the Memorial Cup show there is still a lot of hockey to be played under the orange-top.  Some more things could be done inside, but I don't know if you can realistically do some of the improvements desired like an elevator.   The Brandt Centre isn't perfect, but it does the trick.

--NFL Lock of The Week ---- Chargers over 49ers
--NFL Upset of The Week ----Browns over Raiders

--Who in their right mind looked at the Flyers new mascot "Gritty" and said I love this!   Those persons don't care about the small Flyer fans who will have sleepless nights after seeing the lovechild of Youppi and Grimace who is recovering from a meth addiction or perhaps still on it.  Can't wait until those fabulous "warm-loving" Philly fans who are famous for booing Santa Claus take their wrath out on this creature some Wednesday night when the Flyers lose to the Rangers in overtime after being up two going into the third.

--The last weekend of the baseball season should send me to the drugstore for heart medication.  Yes, the Cubs are going to the playoffs, but having a one game lead over Milwaukee when you play the Cardinals and the Brewers play Detroit make me think a Game 163 may be needed to determine the National League Central and best record.  The baseball playoffs are going to be outstanding again this year. Can not wait!

--Looking forward to calling what I expect to be history on Saturday in Winnipeg.  Noah Picton goes in less than 300 yards away from being the all-time passer in Canadian University football.  Addison Richards and I will have the call of what should be a pretty good football game between a pair of 2-2 teams.  I think both teams are better than their record shows.  If Regina can keep their hands on the football and not turn it over, they should be OK, but the Bisons will give them a battle. If Regina has any chance at hosting a home playoff game, a win is a must.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

What Did You Miss Thursday?

 --Bob Cole will be back in the broadcast booth for his 50th and final year on Hockey Night in Canada, beginning with the first Saturday of the NHL season next month. Cole is scheduled to call 10 games, all of which will come in the first half of the 2018-19 season. Cole’s first game of the year will be on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, Oct. 6 for the game between Montreal and Pittsburgh. Further details of a tribute in his honour will be announced at a later date. Cole is 85 and started in TV in 1973.

--Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw for 465 yards and five TD's as LA improved to 4-0 with a 38-31 win over the Vikings.   Los Angeles is 4-0 on the season.

--The Rockies and Cubs did exactly what they needed to Thursday by earning wins and extending their division leads to a full game. Entering play Thursday, the Rockies and Cubs were in a position where they could be heading into their final series of the season in a tie for the division lead, but thanks to a 5-3 win over the Phillies by the Rockies and a 3-0 win over the Pirates by the Cubs, both teams can lock up their respective divisions by winning out.  Not to say that is going to be easy, the Cubs have to defeat a Cardinals team that is on the ropes and the Rockies have to take down a Nationals team fighting for some dignity, but the fact is if the teams win, the divisions are theirs.

-- Seth Jones, who will be out 4-6 weeks for the Columbus Blue  Jackets with a sprained right knee, said he feels fortunate the injury was not more severe. "I'm thankful it wasn't as bad as it could have been," the defenseman said Thursday, two days after he strained his medial collateral ligament in the second period of a 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres in the Kraft Hockeyville USA game at Clinton Arena in Clinton, New York. "Still, it [stinks] that I'm missing the start of the season with the guys and not being able to be around. "It could be a lot worse. You see Corey Perry and what happened. Same thing with me. He had an MCL and a couple of other things in there." Perry, the Anaheim Ducks forward, had surgery Wednesday to repair the MCL and meniscus in his right knee and is expected to be out five months.

--The NBA announced an innovative new aspect to its League Pass package on Thursday, introducing partial-game pricing for out-of-market regular-season contests. Fans will now be able to purchase a single out-of-market game on NBA League Pass from the end of the third quarter to the conclusion of the contest for $1.99. By December, the league plans on giving fans the option to buy from the start of any quarter. The base price for an entire single game will remain $6.99.

Week 4 NFL Preview

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As the NFL wraps up the first quarter of the 2018 season, three undefeated teams remain – the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0), LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-0) and MIAMI DOLPHINS (3-0). But while a fast start is helpful, it does not guarantee you a trip to the postseason. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 102 of the 138 teams (73.9 percent) to start 3-0 have qualified for the postseason. Last season, the Falcons and Chiefs both qualified for the postseason after starting 3-0.
Fourteen teams enter Week 4 with a sub-.500 record, but hope still remains. Since 1990, 74 teams with a losing record after the first three games made the playoffs, including the 2017 New Orleans Saints, who became the first team in the Super Bowl era to win its next eight games immediately following an 0-2 start.
As the league enters the quarter turn, quarterbacks across the NFL continue to shine. Entering Week 4, league-wide passing numbers continue to trend at a record pace, as the marks for completions (2,248), completion percentage (65.5 percent), touchdown passes (168) and passer rating (93.2) are all the highest in NFL history through the first three weeks of a season.

Through Week 3, nine quarterbacks have a passer rating of at least 100 (min. 60 attempts), tied with the 2015 and 2008 seasons for the most in NFL history through three weeks of a season. There have been 42 individual performances, including 15 last week, with a passer rating of 100 or higher (min. 15 attempts) through Week 3, the most in league annals through the first three weeks of a season. Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES has a 137.4 passer rating through Week 3, the third-highest mark in NFL history by a quarterback through the first three weeks of a season, trailing only TOM BRADY (141.8 in 2007) and RANDALL CUNNINGHAM (141.2 in 1992).
Six quarterbacks have completed at least 70 percent of their passes (min. 60 attempts) through the first three weeks of the season, the second-most in league history through Week 3, trailing only the 2015 season (seven). New Orleans’ quarterback DREW BREES leads the NFL with an 80.6 completion percentage, the highest ever by a quarterback through Week 3. Oakland’s DEREK CARR (76.6 percent) has the fourth-highest completion percentage through the first three weeks of a season in league history.
As familiar faces continue to excel across the league, a new wave of quarterbacks is set to take the stage. Four rookie QBs are expected to start in Week 4 – Arizona’s JOSH ROSEN (first-career start), Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, Cleveland’s BAKER MAYFIELD (first-career start) and the New York Jets’ SAM DARNOLD. This marks the fourth time in the Super Bowl era (excluding the 1987 season) that at least four rookie quarterbacks will have started a game in the first four weeks of a season, joining the 2016 (four), 2012 (five) and 1971 (five) seasons.
Below are highlights of the Week 4 schedule:
Week 4 kicks off on Thursday night as the MINNESOTA VIKINGS square off against the LOS ANGELES RAMS at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime) in a battle of 2017 NFC division winners. The Rams, who enter the game at 3-0 with the third-ranked offense in the NFL (439.3 net yards per game), look to begin the season 4-0 for the first time since 2001. Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS ranks fourth in the NFL with 965 passing yards, the most by a Vikings’ quarterback in the team’s first three games of a season in franchise history.
Amazon Prime will stream the 11 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by FOX, which will also be simulcast on NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes, once again securing the league's "Tri-Cast" model of broadcast (FOX), cable (NFL Network, FOX Deportes), and digital (Amazon Prime Video) distribution.
TAMPA BAY’s league-leading offense (473.3 net yards per game) faces off against KHALIL MACK and the CHICAGO BEARS at Soldier Field on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Buccaneers wide receivers MIKE EVANS (367 receiving yards and three touchdown catches) and DE SEAN JACKSON (312 receiving yards and three touchdown catches) are the only pair of teammates in NFL history with at least 300 receiving yards and three touchdown catches each in a team’s first three games of a season. The Bears enter Sunday’s matchup with an NFL-leading 14 sacks and rank fifth in the league in total defense, allowing 289 net yards per game. Mack has recorded at least one sack and one forced fumble in each of his first three games with the Bears.
MIAMI, who is aiming for its first 4-0 start since 1995, travels to Gillette Stadium for an AFC East showdown with the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Last week, wide receiver ALBERT WILSON (52-yard touchdown pass and 74-yard touchdown catch) became the fourth player in NFL history to both throw and catch a touchdown pass of at least 50 yards in the same game. Dolphins quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL is 10-1 in his past 11 starts and ranks fourth in the NFL with a 121.8 passer rating. Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY has 494 career touchdown passes, the fourth-most in league history.
Sunday Night Football features a key early-season divisional matchup between the BALTIMORE RAVENS and the PITTSBURGH STEELERS at Heinz Field (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Ravens linebacker TERRELL SUGGS had 1.5 sacks in Week 3 and has 128 sacks in his 16-year career with Baltimore, the fifth-most sacks by a player with a single team since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. Steelers wide receiver JU JU SMITH-SCHUSTER, who had nine catches for 116 yards in Week 3, aims for his fifth consecutive game with at least 100 receiving yards. Smith-Schuster (356 scrimmage yards) and running back JAMES CONNER (352) rank first and second in the AFC, respectively, in scrimmage yards this season. ​

(All times eastern)
Bye: Carolina, Washington
Thursday, September 27
Sunday, September 30 (cont’d)
Minnesota at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 PM (FOX/NFLN/Amazon)
Miami at New England, 1:00 PM
Philadelphia at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Seattle at Arizona, 4:05 PM
Sunday, September 30
Cleveland at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Cincinnati at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 PM
Tampa Bay at Chicago, 1:00 PM
New Orleans at New York Giants, 4:25 PM
Detroit at Dallas, 1:00 PM
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Buffalo at Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Houston at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Monday, October 1
New York Jets at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Kansas City at Denver, 8:15 PM (ESPN)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Did You Miss Wednesday?

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--The Blue Jays will go into the off-season needing a new manager. The club confirmed John Gibbons will not be back for 2019. In his last game at home, the Jays beat Houston 3-1 to insure Gibbons will have a career record of over 500 as Jays manager. 

--The Colorado Rockies are in first place in the National League West.  A 14-0 win over Philadelphia combined with Arizona's 7-2 victory over the Dodgers leaves Colorado a half-game ahead of LA. Milwaukee beat St. Louis meaning both the Brewers and Cubs are heading to the playoffs.  Milwaukee can still win the division as they are a half-game back. 

--Riders head coach Chris Jones announced Wednesday Naaman Roosevelt won't play Sunday in Montreal.  The team's leading receiver was nicked up in the one-point win over Toronto.  Jones says the injury is nothing serious. 

--Bad news for the Anaheim Ducks.  Corey Perry is likely to be out for five months after significantly injuring his right knee during warmups for a preseason game. The 33-year-old forward tore his meniscus and injured a knee ligament during warmups at Honda Center on Monday night for a preseason game against Arizona.

--The UFC is looking to book one of the most anticipated rematches in mixed martial arts history at the end of the year, according to UFC president Dana White. In a text message to ESPN on Wednesday, White said the promotion would like to book a light heavyweight fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas. The bout is far from official, but White said he would like that matchup to close out the 2018 calendar year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What Did You Miss Tuesday?

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--The BC Lions have acquired running back Tyrell Sutton and a 2019 third round draft pick from the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for a second round draft pick. In nine games for the Alouettes this season, Sutton has 86 carries for 417 yards and a touchdown. He also has 30 receptions for 309 yards. The 31-year-old Sutton had spent his entire six-year CFL career with the Alouettes.

--The assault case against former star Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna ended when the prosecution withdrew the charge against him in exchange for a one-year agreement he stay away from the mother of his child and continue counselling. Speaking in Ontario court, prosecutor Catherine Mullaly said the complainant, Alejandra Roman Cota, had made it clear she would not return to Toronto to testify against Osuna. The pitcher was charged with a single count of assault on May 8th and subsequently suspended for 75 games by Major League Baseball.

--Connor McDavid has been named the top player in the NHL in a poll done for TSN  The Edmonton forward took 24 of 27 first place votes in the "Top 50" players balloting,  Two through five are Sidney Crosby, Nathan McKinnon, Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov.

--The status of Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Seth Jones will be worth keeping a close eye on as the regular season nears. The defenceman left Tuesday’s pre-season meeting against the Buffalo Sabres with a lower-body injury. The 23 year old Jones had his best season yet in 2017-18, tallying 16 goals and 41 assists. 

--The Pats acquired goalie Dean McNabb in a trade with Victoria.  McNabb played his midget hockey with  the Regina Pat Canadians. McNabb (6’2, 176), was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. He appeared in 30 games last season for the Royals and added three more in the 2018 WHL Playoffs.

Monday, September 24, 2018

What Did You Miss Monday?

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--Blades forward Kirby Dach is the WHL player of the week.  Dach, considered a top-ranked prospect for the 2019 draft, had three goals and four assists in two games as the WHL season opened with Saskatoon beating Swift Current twice.   The goalie of the week is Dylan Ferguson of the Kamloops Blazers

--Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 411 yards, but it wasn't enough for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  They were beaten 30-27 by Pittsburgh in the NFL Monday Night game. Ben Roethlisberger had a great night as well throwing for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

--The Baker Mayfield era has officially kicked off in Cleveland. The 2018 number-one pick will make his first start as Browns quarterback Sunday at Oakland. Coach Hue Jackson made the move to replace Tyrod Taylor with Mayfield after the rookie led the Browns to a 21-17 come-from-behind win Thursday night over the New York Jets. That was Cleveland's first win since 2016

--The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the ``Broad Street Bullies,'' he's far from cuddly. ``Gritty'' is a hulking Neanderthal-like figure with a pot belly, a orange mountain-man beard and two huge, lidless googly eyes. He is just the second mascot in Flyers history after the short-lived ``Slapshot'' in 1976.

--The Edmonton Oilers released winger Scottie Upshall from his professional tryout with the team on Monday. Upshall, who turns 35 in less than two weeks, failed his medical to open camp and, though he was cleared on Sept. 17, had not appeared in any preseason contests with the team.

Something To "Mitch" About

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--To quote Twitter legend Fake Gainer "Brett Fuqn Lauther".  One of the great stories of the 2018 CFL season wrote another chapter to the book with a massive 56 yarder to give the Riders a one-point win over the Argos.  It was a game where there was a lot of good and a lot of bad, but in the end, no one is apologizing for the two points and they will take it.

The offence got its act together as Zach Collaros and company made some big plays ---plays that were needed to keep drives alive.  Yes, he threw a couple of interceptions, but on both Trumaine Washington ripped the ball away from Naaman Roosevelt.. The "why aren't you throwing to Roosevelt" narrative came to an end as he had a 100 yard night and Marcus Thigpen ripped off another big touchdown run. The o-line had its ups and downs with a big up being the Dan Clark block to spring Thigpen, but they also had Collaros running more than what he wants to.

Defensively, the unit started well, but the team had difficulty stopping a pouty James Wilder Junior in the second half which just about cost them.  The pressure on the QB wasn't there as well---at least not until crunch time. Yes, Charleston Hughes did deliver a couple of solid shots on McLeod Bethel-Thompson (calls that were probably roughing the passer calls in the NFL), but he was just a split second too late from getting the sack.   Getting to MBT to disrupt a pass to SJ Green that would have won the game was huge.

In the end, the team is 8-5 and improved their chances thanks to Edmonton's loss in Ottawa at getting a home playoff game.  It is setting up for what will be a playoff-like game against the Eskimos on Thanksgiving Monday.

On to Montreal

--Its pretty obvious Duron Carter is not wanted in Toronto despite the fact he is getting a paycheque from them.  Marc Trestman is happy with letting Carter sit on the bench for whatever reason. He could have used Carter in Saturday's game, but he was content with letting him sit on the bench and rot. Is this tough love? Whatever it is, I am guessing Carter doesn't last the season in Toronto because it is obvious that Trestman has no desire to see him on the field.

--I would love to know what Wally Buono said to June Jones in the post-game handshake or what exactly he was thinking.  Holy catnip did Hamilton screw that one up.  Where do you start? Talk about showing no confidence in your kicker (which in hindsight proved to be true with the Hajrullahu OT miss).  You have to try that field goal and basically put the hammer down on the win. How can you not? Much like it is when a d-back drops a sure pick on the last drive, you just knew BC was going to come down and tie it didn't you? One has to think that final few minutes was a tremendous boost to the confidence of Jonathan Jennings.  You know this is his final chance to do something.

--Without throwing his hands up in the air and retiring, someone in the NFL needs to sit Clay Matthews down and explain what he needs to do when it comes to hitting the quarterback.  Does he have to pick him up and lay him down gently?  Once again, the Packers linebacker was victimized by a horrible call.  He wasn't the only one.  Dallas' Tyrone Crawford also got called for what was an atrocious "ROP" call on Russell Wilson and I'm a Seahawks fan so you know it was bad.  The rule needs to be changed. More are seeing and saying that. If the NFL doubled down last week after the Matthews hit on Kirk Cousins, lets see what they do this week.

--Hands up if you had Minnesota in a survivor pool this week?  I wasn't one of them, but oh yeah, I had Houston.  So much for the Texans being a solid team when Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt are back.. They're 0-3.

-If the Browns had a kicker, they would be 3-0.  If the Seahawks had an offensive line, they would be 3-0. Aren't the Patriots supposed to be 3-0 just because they're the Patriots? When does the "Is this it for the Patriots talk?" start?

--I received a text from someone at the Pats game Saturday night saying it was going to be a long year.  Let's relax a little.  The home team was taking on a team many believe will win the Eastern Division.  Yes, it is going to be tougher to get some goals, but from what I saw watching the game on Access there was nothing to be that concerned about.  There are still 66 games to go.

--Is anyone watching NHL pre-season hockey? Like the NFL and CFL, please tell me when everything counts.

--In the last week of the baseball season, I will be cheering for the Colorado Rockies to get into the playoffs. They deserve to be there.

--There has to be some more nice days in front of us right.  Right?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

What Did You Miss Sunday?

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23: Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates making a par on the 18th green to win the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

--Tiger Woods is a winner again. Woods finished 12-under to capture the Tour Championship for his first P-G-A victory in more than five years. It's also the 80th victory of his P-G-A Tour career. That leaves him two behind Sam Snead for the most all time.

--Rays left-hander Blake Snell boosted his Cy Young Award chances with another brilliant outing against the Blue Jays. Snell won his ninth straight start in Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory at Toronto's Rogers Centre. He boosted his record to 21-and-5 and leads the league in wins.

--The Marlins became the first major league team to draw fewer than 1 million fans at home since the 2004 Montreal Expos, beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-0 in front of a crowd of just 13,595. Miami went 38-and-43 at home and drew 811,104 for an average of 10,014. They are last in the N-L East at 62-93 overall, their eighth consecutive losing season.

--Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson became the first Lion to run for over 100 yards in 70 games as Detroit beat New England 26-10 for their first win of the year.  The Patriots are now 1-2 on the season.

--The Toronto Raptors are one of several teams apparently interested in making a trade for Jimmy Butler. He has told the Minnesota Timberwolves he wants a trade. Houston, Cleveland and Portland are also said to be interested in acquiring the four-time all-star who apparently is fed-up with teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony  Towns.

WHL US Division Preview


General Manager: Garry Davidson
Head coach: Dennis Williams
Pre-season record: 3-1-1-2
2017-18 record: 47-20-2-3, First in U.S. Division
2018 Playoffs: 14-8-0-0, Eliminated in the 2018 Rogers WHL Championship Series to the Swift Current Broncos (4-2)
Top scorers: RW Patrick Bajkov (33-67-100), LW Matt Fonteyne (35-53-88), C Garrett Pilon (34-46-80)
20-year-olds:  LW Sean Richards (20-29-49), RD Sahvan Khaira (6-20-26)
Imports: LW Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia), LW Peter Melcher (Slovakia)
Forwards: For the first time in the past five seasons, the Silvertips won’t have the reliable duo of Matt Fonteyne and Patrick Bajkov leading their attack up front, but that doesn’t mean their future is bleak.
After leading the team with 38 goals last season and hearing his name called by the Minnesota Wild at the 2018 NHL Draft, Connor Dewar was named captain of the team and figures to lead them into the club’s next generation.
The same goes for Riley Sutter, who surpassed the 50-point mark for the first time in his WHL career last season, hearing his name called at the NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. This coming season should see the next in the line of the Sutter family continue his development while causing headaches for his opponents in the U.S. Division and Western Conference.
A breakout year for Bryce Kindopp saw the Lloydminster, Alta. product record 36 points (24G-12A) to provide serious secondary scoring, a trait that will need to continue into this season.
The one side-effect to last year’s talented roster was that other players didn’t get the chance to show their true form. That’s true for import Martin Fasko-Rudas, who finished the regular season with 15 points (6G-9A) in 70 games, but added an impressive eight points (5G-3A) in 20 games. Seeing what he could do in an increased role this season could be another big boon to the Silvertips.
Defence: The departures from the Silvertips continued on their blue line as long-time defenceman Kevin Davis concluded his 347-game WHL career with the Silvertips.
In order to partially fill the void left by him on the right side, the Silvertips acquired Sahvan Khaira. A steady hand the Silvertips saw clearly during the WHL Championship, Sahvan is the younger brother of Edmonton Oilers forward Jujhar, a Silvertips alumni himself.
The team will also continue to look towards homegrown product Wyatte Wylie to lead them from the blue line. After being made a selection of the Philadelphia Flyers at last June’s NHL Draft, Wylie is set to inherit the leadership role on the team’s blueline for the next few seasons.
On the rise for the team is 2017 first round selection Ronan Seeley. After playing at a point-per-game pace with the Lethbridge AAA Hurricanes in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League last season, Seeley could find himself gradually taking on a sizable role with the club as he steps up to the WHL game.
Goaltending: While the Silvertips will miss parts of their forward core and blue line, it goes without saying that the biggest absence for the Silvertips will come between the pipes. Carter Hart is eligible to return for another season, but after posting video-game like numbers last season for the Silvertips, the three-time Del Wilson Memorial Trophy winner and two-time Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year he appears more than ready for the challenges of professional hockey.
The goaltending situation is still promising despite Hart’s departure as the reins between the crease now shift to Dustin Wolf. After rotating through a few goaltenders at the start of the season, the team found a quality backup in Wolf, who posted a 13-6-0-0 record, 2.25 goals-against-average, and a 0.928 save percentage along with four shutouts in 20 games against serious competition. The one question that remains is seeing how he handles the rigors of a full 68-game schedule, but him being up to the task could keep the Silvertips as a conference contender.
Prognosis: It’s inevitable that all teams who make their way to the Rogers WHL Championship Series will turnover a significant portion of their roster the following year and the same is true for the Silvertips. However, the Silvertips will still have plenty of talent to help them contend in their bid repeat as U.S. Division champions and will have no problem challenging for a playoff spot if those key pieces remain healthy.
General Manager: Mike Johnston
Head coach: Mike Johnston
Pre-season record: 2-2-1-0
2017-18 record: 44-22-1-5, Second in U.S. Division
2018 Playoffs: 5-7-0-0, Eliminated in Round Two of 2018 WHL Playoffs to Everett Silvertips (4-1)
Top scorers: C Cody Glass (37-65-102), LW Skyler McKenzie (47-40-87), LW Kieffer Bellows (41-33-74)
20-year-olds: LW Connor Barley (35-32-67) (Selkirk Steelers of the MJHL), RW Conor MacEachern (3-12-15), RD Jared Freadrich (12-20-32), LD Brendan De Jong (6-19-25)
Imports: LW Michal Kvasnica (Czech Republic), C Dean Schwenninger (Switzerland)
Forwards: It’s been roughly 14 months since the Vegas Golden Knights made Cody “Confirmed Good at the Hockey” Glass the franchise’s first-ever draft choice. Since then, he’s continued to show the team’s brass and WHL fans just how talented he is, posting his second-straight 30-goal season and the first 100-point campaign of his WHL career. The 2018-19 WHL Regular Season provides Glass with another 68 games plus playoffs to continue punishing opposing defences throughout the league.
If he can replicate performances like November 2017 where he tallied 26 points (13G-13A) in just 12 games throughout the entirety of the season, there’s a good chance Glass could contend and lead the league scoring race.
While both McKenzie and Bellows are eligible to return, their path in the 2018-19 season may understandably lead them to the professional game, opening the door for the likes of Ryan Hughes and Seth Jarvis among others. Overshadowed in a star-studded lineup was Hughes, who tallied 13 even-strength goals as part of a 41-point campaign last season. The recently-turned 19-year-old will see his role and responsibilities rise more this season.
While Glass remains the established leader, another Winnipeg, Man. product is set to make noise on the WHL scene as well with the expected full-time debut of Seth Jarvis. The 11th overall selection from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft had an 11-game audition with the Winterhawks last season, picking up a pair of assists. The challenge of the WHL was necessary for the 16-year-old after he averaged nearly two points per game with his hometown Rink Hockey Academy in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League.
Defence: Last season, the Winterhawks allowed the third-fewest goals in the entire WHL, finishing only behind the two teams competing for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. With aspirations to return to the winner’s circle themselves for the first time since 2013, repeating that feat or maintaining a similar standard of a stingy defence will be key.
Unfortunately, the biggest questions for the Winterhawks undoubtedly come on their blue line. After 344 games of service, Keoni Texeira has graduated and the uncertain status of both Henri Jokiharju and Dennis Cholowski leave a lot of questions best left answered through seeing how Johnston uses his rear guards.
Brendan De Jong could be the team’s top defenceman with Matthew Quigley stepping into a bigger role as well. John Ludvig and Clay Hanus will also be counted on to contribute after making their WHL debuts last season and playing significant time.
Goaltending: When he’s not too busy pulling off an impressive Salt Bae impersonation, 19-year-old Shane Farkas is also pretty good when he gets peppered with pucks.
The Penticton, B.C. product is set to handle the starting role for this season. In 24 games last season, he full-time action in short bursts, but wasn’t completely sheltered behind Cole Kehler either. On four occasions last season, he was required to stop 35-plus shots, winning three of those games.
That included his second career WHL shutout, a 37-save blanking of the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick in late February. A week later in the same location, he stopped all 30 shots to deny the Americans for the full game.
Not that goaltending numbers mean everything, but a 14-6-0-1 record, 2.79 goals-against-average, and a 0.913 save-percentage are solid numbers and Farkas seemed to show more confidence between the pipes, filling in with apt performances when required.
Prognosis: With nine straight seasons of more than 30 wins, eight of which reached 40 or more, the Winterhawks have been the toast of the U.S. Division. At the same time, they’ve won the division just three times in those nine years and are yearning for more banners to call their own.
While the team has loftier goals than just winning the U.S. Division, the Winterhawks will be a team to watch out for all season long and likely well into the 2019 WHL Playoffs.
General Manager: Scott Carter
Head coach: Dan Lambert
Pre-season record: 4-1-1-0  
2017-18 record: 41-25-3-3, Third in U.S. Division
2018 Playoffs: 3-4-0-0, Eliminated in Round One of 2018 WHL Playoffs by Portland Winterhawks (4-3)
Top scorers: C Jaret Anderson-Dolan (40-51-91), C Hudson Elynuik (31-55-86), LD Ty Smith (14-59-73)
20-year-olds: RW Jeff Faith (5-12-17), LW Riley Woods (25-32-57), RD Nolan Reid (14-22-36)
Imports: LD Filip Kral (Czech Republic), LD Egor Arbuzov (Russia)
Forwards: From top to bottom, the Spokane Chiefs could arguably employ the best core of forwards in the WHL’s Western Conference this season. Undoubtedly, the Chiefs will be led by Los Angeles Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who led the team with 40 goals and 91 points last season. The date when he returns from the Kings’ main camp will put the other 21 WHL member Clubs on notice.
Another pair of 1999-born forwards in Jake McGrew and Ethan McIndoe will also be counted on for bigger roles as the season progresses. McGrew, a prospect of the San Jose Sharks, balanced out his first season with 38 points (19G-19A) in 65 games while McIndoe added 42 points (21G-21A) in 71 contests. Both players are part of the Chiefs’ strong 19-year-old group and should help power the team into the conversation to capture their first U.S. Division title since the 1999-00 season.
Overage forward Riley Woods could lead the charge of the year’s 20-year-olds after surpassing the 20-goal plateau and 50-point benchmark for the first time in his WHL career last season.
Of all the players expected to have big seasons, it’s the newest face in Jack Finley that will also have NHL Scouts watching even though he isn’t eligible until the 2020 NHL Draft. A star at the 2017 WHL Cup, the sixth-overall selection comes in at a solid 6-foot-5, 203 pound and is just 16-years-old. How the Kelowna, B.C. product contributes to the Chiefs will be paramount for both parties.
Defence: You may have heard of this Ty Smith guy. Well the Chiefs and their fans already know what the Lloydminster product can do and this past summer, they added a new fan base in the New Jersey Devils to cheer on the rear guard. The 17th overall selection from the 2018 NHL Draft finished third on the Chiefs in scoring last season and second among all WHL defencemen. He did this while turning 18-years-old towards the end of the season. Whether Smith spends one or two more seasons with the Chiefs now becomes the debate, but with the departure of captain Tyson Helgesen on the blue line, Smith appears to be the team’s unquestioned leader on the back end. With Anderson-Dolan up front, the two will provide one of the top forward-defence pairings in the entire league. Smith is also pretty smart off the ice too.
Beyond Smith, Fiip Kral was also selected at the 2018 NHL Draft, going in the fifth round to the Toronto Maple Leafs and should provide more to the left side of the team’s defence. On the right side, overager Nolan Reid will be counted upon to be a leader as well.
Last season, the Chiefs allowed 240 goals. That marked their third-straight season allowing 240 or more goals in a single campaign which isn’t particularly comforting. Yes, they countered that figure by scoring the most goals (282) by a Chiefs team in a single season since the 2010-11 season, but these are all small parts of a reality the Chiefs will no doubt want to address if they want to push deeper than Round One of the WHL Playoffs.
Goaltending: The Chiefs will enter the year with a pair of 1999-born Alberta-made net minders looking to win the job in Red Deer’s Dawson Weatherill and Sherwood Park’s Bailey Brkin. At some point, Lambert will be forced into a decision one way or the other, but based on experience, it’d be fair to give Dawson Weatherill the edge, even though Brkin is the older of the two, though just by six days.
A 26-win campaign and a pair of shutouts marked a career year for Weatherill, who also set new personal bests in save percentage (0.893) and goals-against average (3.09). Now, to be considered among the WHL’s elite goaltenders, those last two stats will obviously need some improvement, but they kept the Chiefs within contention throughout the year that any further improvement to those numbers will make the Chiefs a tougher team to beat.
After both Weatherill and Brkin each had an opportunity to prove themselves in net during the 2018 WHL Playoffs, it was Weatherill who helped the team dig out of a 3-1 deficit to force Game Seven against the Portland Winterhawks, stopping 110 of 119 shots in the final three games of the series.
That being said, Brkin showed strongly in seven games of action with the Chiefs last season following a deal with the Kootenay ICE. If he’s ready and able to take on a bigger role this coming season, Brkin could be a solid option for the team.
Prognosis: Seattle, Everett, and *drumroll please* Spokane? The past four seasons has seen the U.S. Division represent the Western Conference in the Rogers WHL Championship Series and an early indication from the team’s make up is that they could be the team to make it four in a row. The Chiefs possess one of the best forward cores entering the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season and even though their defensive core may lack another game-changer outside of Smith, Kral and Reid, that should be enough to get them into the 2018 WHL Playoffs. As much as the window for the Chiefs is open with departures from other teams in their division and conference, it won’t be a cakewalk either.
General Manager: Bob Tory
Head coach: Kelly Buchberger
Pre-season record: 2-5-0-0
2017-18 record: 38-25-8-1, Fourth in U.S. Division
2018 Playoffs: 10-4-0-0, Eliminated in Western Conference Championship by Everett Silvertips (4-2)
Top scorers: C Morgan Geekie (30-54-84), LW Jordan Topping (38-42-80), RD Dylan Coghlan (17-46-63)
20-year-olds: LW Nolan Yaremko (22-34-56), LD Anthony Bishop (0-16-16), LD Tyler Jette (1-0-1), LD Dan Gatenby (0-5-5)
Imports: C Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic), LD Roman Kalinichenko (Russia)
Forwards: With their top two scoring forwards in Morgan Geekie and Jordan Topping departing from the club for professional hockey, the responsibilities continue to captain Michael Rasmussen, assistant Nolan Yaremko, and second-year winger Isaac Johnson.
Rasmussen’s return seems likely, though the timeline is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, Yaremko’s 56-point campaign more than doubled his point total in one season. For Johnson’s debut season in the WHL, he didn’t look out of place either, notching 48 points (17G-31A) in 68 games. Anaheim Ducks prospect Kyle Olson is coming off a season where he was only able to appear in half the games as the season before. Eager to regain his scoring touch, expect Olson to be a man on a mission this coming season.
The biggest storyline to watch this season comes in the form of Sasha Mutala. Eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft and a highly-touted prospect, Mutala has represented Canada twice in the past 12 months, winning gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, but has looked best in the red, white, and blue. A 26-point rookie campaign didn’t place him among the league’s best rookies in terms of statistics, but as he steps into a bigger role this coming season and is relied upon more, you can bet Mutala will continue to rise to the challenge.
Parker AuCoin saw his production dip slightly for the 2016-17 season to 2017-18, but remained a consistent scoring threat for the Americans and will be looked to once again.
Defence: Though they’re all eligible to return, the departures of Juuso Valimaki to the Calgary Flames, Dylan Coghlan to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Jake Bean to the Carolina Hurricanes seem incredibly likely at this point, a huge loss, but not necessarily an unexpected one.
In this case, the Americans will look to a defence-by-committee approach with the likes of Roman Kalinichenko, Anthony Bishop, and Dan Gatenby among others. Minnesota product Tyler Jette could find himself in a full-time role to help ease the team’s defensive needs as well, but that begins to throw the team’s overage situation into a bit of disarray. Other defensive contributors like Mitchell Brown will look to continue growing as they spend another year in the WHL, learning to play the game at a high level.
It’s difficult then to predict how this will impact their chances this season. In such a tight division, offence can take you far as the other clubs have shown, but it’s defensive responsibilities that end up winning the day.
Goaltending: After goaltender Patrick Dea aged out, it appears the Americans are set to go with the tandem of Beck Warm and Tayln Boyko in net this season. This is a duo that can stay intact for two full seasons, providing a great deal of stability to the team’s crease.
While Dea started more games than Warm last season, a 47-35 split for games played is still relatively even by WHL standards. Warm’s 16-11-1-1 record, 3.58 goals-against-average, 0.889 save percentage, and one shutout were pretty standard for a goaltender who has yet to play in 50 WHL regular season games. The pressure this season comes with the step back the team’s blue line will take and figuring out if he can handle the extra workload.
Joining him will be Talyn Boyko. The Drumheller, Alta. product was a third round selection of the team at the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft and has seen three pre-season games of action to date, posting relatively expected numbers for a 15-year-old who doesn’t turn 16 until mid-November. His crowning moment during the pre-season came when he stopped 45 of 48 shots against the defending Western Conference Champion Everett Silvertips to to secure a 4-3 shootout win. Having him at the top of his game, even in a limited role, could be strategically beneficial for the Americans.
Prognosis: In a division where competition is fierce, the Tri-City Americans know that all too well. With key injuries throughout last season, many wrote them off, even as they qualified for the 2018 WHL Playoffs. Then came two straight four-game sweeps and a dogfight of a six-game series against the Everett Silvertips in the Western Conference Championship.
With incoming head coach Kelly Buchberger, there’s bound to be a transition period where the team gets used to the coach and vice-versa, but the former Moose Jaw Warriors forward knows the league and is no doubt determined to have immediate success.
There’s no way to look past the departures on defence, but it isn’t all doom and gloom. Besides the losses of Geekie and Topping, the Americans can boast a healthy array of talent up front that should keep the team competitive for a spot in the 2019 WHL Playoffs.
General Manager: Bil La Forge
Head coach: Matt O’Dette
Pre-season record: 4-3-0-0
2017-18 record: 34-28-8-2, Fifth in U.S. Division
2018 Playoffs: 1-4-0-0, Eliminated in Round One of 2018 WHL Playoffs by Everett Silvertips (4-1)
Top scorers: LW Nolan Volcan (32-44-76), C Donovan Neuls (22-54-76), Zack Andrusiak (36-38-74)
20-year-olds: LW Nolan Volcan (32-44-76), LW Zack Andrusiak (36-38-74), C Noah Philp (14-36-50) 
Imports: RW Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia), RD Simon Kubicek (Czech Republic)
Forwards: The ago-old adage about developing from within is perhaps best exhibited by the Seattle Thunderbirds and their group of forwards. With names like Barzal, Easnor, and Kolesar making good on that statement in recent years, those responsibilities have now fallen onto the shoulders of those named Volcan, Andrusiak, and Wedman among others.
Returning two 30-goal-plus scorers in Volcan and Andrusiak is a big boost for the club, who will depend on the duo for steady offence after learning the ropes of those duties last season. Secondary scoring from the likes of Noah Philp and Matthew Wedman will also be counted upon as the team looks to replace three of the players who surpassed the 20-goal plateau for them last season.
After a six-game audition last season, Payton Mount will be looking to impress in his rookie campaign. The 19th overall selection from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft was a point-per-game player while helping his home province of British Columbia win gold at the 2017 WHL Cup. The Thunderbirds will appreciate watching his talents grow over the coming season and beyond as will scouts ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Import forward Andrej Kukuca has already made an impact with the club, leading them with nine points (4G-5A) in pre-season play.
Defence: This year’s blue line will be led by a pair of 1999-born talents in Jarret Tyszka and Reece Harsch. The Montreal Canadiens prospect Tyszka showed promising development last season and should figure to take another step forward this season as the Thunderbirds look to climb back up the standings in the U.S. Division.
Harsch has attracted interest from NHL clubs, attending camp with the Vegas Golden Knights and the right mix of opportunity and talent have Harsch poised for a career year that could very well put him on the radar for the 2019 NHL Draft.
The T-Birds will also look to the likes of 2016 first round WHL Bantam Draft selection Jake Lee to take a step forward, especially in his first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft.
Goaltending: The 2017-18 year was one of transition in net for the Thunderbirds, one they’ve appeared to stabilize for at least the next two seasons with Liam Hughes. In the 2017-18 campaign, Hughes was an early-season addition to the T-Birds and posted a respectable 16-12-5-1 record with a 3.15 goals-against-average and a 0.909 save percentage in 36 games.
The thing about last year though is that there were times where Matt Berlin and Dorrin Luding picked up the slack. Now, the T-Birds appear to have full confidence in Hughes and for good reason, but where the team may be challenged is in the use of their backup as Hughes will inevitably need time off. Right now, that backup position lies with either Cole Schwebius and Eric Ward, a pair of 2001-born talents who have put up fairly good numbers in their limited pre-season action. While both are young, the decision will play a big part in terms of the team’s success every night and not just when one goaltender is in net.
Prognosis: Now a full season removed from their Ed Chynoweth Cup victory, the Seattle Thunderbirds have already turned over the majority of their key players from that championship victory, but remain strong at all three positions. The question looming for the T-Birds is how big the gap this year is between great and elite. The Thunderbirds should have no problem filling the net and returning to the WHL Playoffs, but with other clubs looking to take a better shot, the Thunderbirds may need to find another gear in their play in order to challenge those at the top.