Sunday, June 30, 2019

Riders Depth Chart/Tidbits For Canada Day Game vs Toronto

--The first Canada Day regular season game in the CFL happened in 1984 and featured Toronto vs Saskatchewan 

--This will be the 21st regular season game to be played on Canada Day with Saskatchewan hosting four of them---the last in 2017 vs Winnipeg 

--Do you remember Canada Day 2010?  The Riders beat the Alouettes 54-51 in overtime. The teams combined for 13 TD's and over 1000 yds of offence. 

--Shaq Evans scored his first CFL TD last week snapping an 18-game TD-less streak. Last season Evans recorded the most receiving yards in CFL history (785) by any player without a TD catch. 

-- Charleston Hughes recorded two sacks last week to move up to 116 in 166 career games. He has had at least one sack in 80 of his 166 career games. 

--Through the first two weeks of the season, the Riders lead the CFL in rushing attempts with 57

Friday, June 28, 2019

This and That

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

--The Canada Day long weekend is here and believe it or not, we are halfway through 2019.  Is it just me or have the first six months of this year just flown by!

--After having to watch the green-and-white battle it out on the road the past two weeks, we can end the Canada Day long weekend by watching Canada's team on home soil for the first time this year as they will meet the Argos in a 5 o'clock start.   After seeing Toronto get blasted out of the water by Hamilton last week, one would think the home opener should be Craig Dickenson's first CFL win, but we all know things change from week-to-week.   That being said, I will still take the /=S=/ to win and win big.  They are favoured by 11 and a half and I would take them to get the "W" and cover.   This of course translates to a late Lauther FG for the win.

Even if the offence tails off from what happened in Ottawa, I am not expecting the defence to have another game like what they had so go with the Riders.    In talking with many this week,  no one is pushing the panic button after an 0-2 start, but there is frustration as many think the squad should be 1-1 which I would agree with.  If they are 0-3 come Monday night, you don't have to push the button, but you may want to take it out of the drawer and have it handy.

--I don't think we have to worry about it here, but it would seem to me as if early on in the season, there are some attendance woes.  Toronto did have a solid crowd for its home opener, but it seems as if numbers are down and for a league that is gate-driven, there have to be some concerns early on.

--While there has been no announcement, one can't help but notice the Regina Pats have a home game on the day after the NHL's Heritage Classic.  The game would be against Calgary.  You can't tell me that talk hasn't been had about having that game played at Mosaic.  Is Calgary the team you want though?  Nothing against the Hitmen, but Moose Jaw, Saskatoon or Prince Albert would be a much better sell.

--The Raptors run to the NBA title is still being celebrated by many and for good reason.  While the celebration continues, some are now saying (including Raps president Masai Ujiri) that basketball could overtake hockey in this country in the next couple of decades.  WHOA WHOA WHOA!!  The Raptors run to a title was tremendous and interest in the sport has piqued.  That can't be disputed.   However, what would the momentum be had Toronto gotten beat before the Finals.  Are the millions and millions that tuned in during the playoff run going to be fully invested when the new season starts.  I love the game, but it isn't taking over from hockey anytime soon.  In fact, I would say more will take up soccer than basketball over that time-frame in this country.  It's a great debate to have, but its one that won't be answered for quite a few years.

--Outside of Connor McDavid, is there any player in the NHL you would give up a whole bunch of first-round picks for?  All the talk about guys like Mitch Marner, Brayden Point and Patrik Laine changing addresses after signing an offer sheet is just talk to me. I just don't think the return is what teams want unless Marner or whoever can take you to the Stanley Cup.   That being said, after the Leafs nabbed John Tavares in free agency last year, wouldn't it be just like Lou Lamirello to stick it to Toronto and sign Marner.

--Congrats to Hayley Wickenheiser for getting named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  While Wickenheiser's selection is well-deserved, I question how guys like Sergei Zubov, Guy Carbonneau and Vaclav Nedomansky get in while Jeremy Roenick, Paul Henderson and Theoren Fleury still wait for the call. I would have the latter three in ahead of the other three, but I'm not part of that selection committee.

--Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz are bringing the Stanley Cup to the Saskatchewan Legislature a week from Saturday.  That should be a great afternoon.   The Riders meet the Stampeders that night at Mosaic. I think we know who might be making the call to 'Bring Em Out" as Hockey's Holy Grail will likely be paying a visit to Riderville

--Its a joke that the Canucks lose cap money due to the Roberto Luongo retirement.  If you subscribe to "The Athletic", read the excellent story on the situation by Ryan Blech. It is somewhat mind-boggling.

--It was great being at the Wascana for the Jon Ryan Gear Up Charity Golf Event.  J-R has never forgotten about the community even though he was gone for a long time.  While there are many good people in the sporting fabric of this city, you won't find many better than J-R.  It shows!

--The rain we had means mosquitoes are coming.  That's a shame because some of the nights we have had in Regina over the past couple of weeks have been absolutely perfect. If we could have that from May-September, not many would be complaining.

--The Regina Red Sox have gone into Alberta for a while, but maybe its time we start paying attention to this team. At 16-3, they are one of the best teams in the WCBL.  There will be many chances to see the team at Currie Field in July so go check them out if a baseball fan.  If we keep having some of these nights that we have had, weather won't be an issue.

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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Pats Grab Russian in Import Draft

The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce they have selected 17-year-old forward Daniil Gushchin seventh overall in the 2019 CHL Import Draft.

Gushchin (5’8, 161) from Yekaterinburg, Russia, played the 2018-19 season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL. He put up 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points in 51 games.

Gushchin played for Russia at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Hlinka Gretzky Cup and Under-18 World Championships in 2018-19, winning gold at the Under-17’s, silver at the Under-18’s and a bronze medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He put up 12 goals and 20 points in the three international tournaments.

“We are really excited to pick Daniil at seven today,” said Pats VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Paddock. “He is a highly skilled forward who played as an underage at two under-18 tournaments last year.”

With Gushchin, the Pats now have two imports on their roster, he joins defenceman Nikita Sedov who is entering his 18-year-old season.

(Phil Andrews/Regina Pats)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

CFL Fines Mak Henry

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The CFL has fined Riders DT Makana Henry for his sideline hit on Redblacks QB Dominique Davis.

In the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s game, Davis was pushed out of bounds after a 22-yard scramble. Replays showed Henry not move from his spot on the sideline and lean a shoulder into Davis, knocking him to the ground. Henry got a 15-yard penalty on the play.

As per CFL policy, the amount of the fine will not be disclosed.

(Derek Taylor/620 CKRM)

Pats Release 2019-20 Sked

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The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce the schedule for the 2019-20 Western Hockey League Season.

The Pats will open the regular season with their A&W Home Opener against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday, September 20 at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.

Regina will play 10 Friday night home games, eight on Saturday night and eight on Sunday to make 26 of the clubs 34 home games on weekend dates. Additionally, the Pats will host six Wednesday dates as well as one game on a Monday and a Tuesday.

The complete schedule can be found here

Riders Make Pick In 2020 CFL Supplemental Draft

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(Photo: Colorado State University) 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have selected offensive lineman Jake Bennett in the 2019 Supplemental Draft, the CFL announced on Wednesday.

In doing so, the Roughriders forfeit their third round selection in the 2020 CFL Draft.

The six-foot-three, 290-pounder was most recently a member of the Salt Lake Stallions in the AAF, suiting up at centre for the team.

In his senior year (2017) at Colorado State, Bennett was named first-team All-Mountain West by vote of coaches. He started all 13 games at center, blocking for an offence that ranked 11th in the country and first in the Mountain West with 492.5 yards per game. The offensive line allowed just 1.0 sack per game, a figure that ranked fifth in the country.

The CFL Supplemental Draft features a much smaller draft pool to choose from because of its nature. Players who were not declared Nationals in time for the CFL Draft now fall to the supplemental selection process. Each team has a chance to select the player(s) eligible but the team willing to forfeit the highest pick in the draft would receive the rights to any player eligible.

(CFL Communications)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Celebrate Canada Day At Mosaic Stadium

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Picture: Courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are throwing one big Canada Day celebration and want you to be a part of it.

 Not only will Canada’s team be showcasing its on-field stars for the first time during the home-opener against the Toronto Argonauts, but we’ll be celebrating all that it means to be part of our home and native land.

·       Reaffirm your love for our country by taking the citizenship oath among 30,000 other patriotic Canadians

·       See the unveiling of the biggest Canadian flag in sports

·       Celebrate Canadian music by rocking out to Big Sugar during our first Pepsi Summer Concert Series show

·       Gear up in limited edition Roughrider-themed Canada Day attire when you swing by the Rider Store

 Bring your family to the Coors Light Party in the Park starting at 2 p.m. (three hours before kick-off) for face-painting, games, inflatables, a live DJ and carnival games – but don’t wait too long to get your seats – the first 30,000 fans will be given rally towels courtesy of NexGen Energy to help cheer on the Green and White to their first win of the season.

 The Regina Rams 50/50 will also be kicked up a notch with a seeded pot starting at $100,000.

“We have so many new and exciting things in store to make Canada Day special for the whole family,” said Roughriders Chief Brand Officer Anthony Partipilo. “With the biggest Canadian flag in sports, an all-new in-stadium game day experience, and our 2019 Saskatchewan Roughriders making their home debut, you won’t want to miss the chance to celebrate alongside your loved ones and other members Rider Nation.”

(Arielle Zerr/Riders PR)

Hayley To The Hall; Wickenheiser Named to Class of 2019

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Shaunavon’s Hayley Wickenheiser has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The 40-year-old was among four players and two builders who got the call Tuesday.

Wickenheiser won four Olympic gold medals in five appearances with Canada’s women’s team. She also helped Canada claim seven world championship titles.

She retired in 2017 after playing for the national team for 23 seasons. She’s Canada’s all-time leading scorer with 168 goals and 211 assists in 276 games; that includes 18 goals and 51 points in 26 career games at the Olympics.

Wickenheiser, who was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame earlier this year, is now the assistant director of player development for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

Wickenheiser was joined in the Class of 2019 by fellow players Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky and Sergei Zubov, and builders Jim Rutherford and Jerry York.

Pats Acquire Overage Forward From Vancouver

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The Regina Pats Hockey Club has announced they have acquired 20-year-old forward Dawson Holt and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2022 from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for 18-year-old forward Sergei Alkhimov and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2022.

Holt (5’11, 195), is coming off a run to the WHL Championship series with the Giants. The product of Saskatoon put up seven goals and 16 points in 22 games in the playoffs, after a regular season total of 19 points in 53 games. Holt was drafted eighth overall in the 2014 Bantam Draft and has played in 200 regular season games in the WHL, all with the Giants, putting up 25 goals and 76 points.

“We are happy to add Dawson to our club,” said Pats VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Paddock. “He is a veteran guy who is coming off a really good playoffs and will be a big part of our team this season.”

Alkhimov (5’11, 213), was drafted by the Pats in the first round of the 2018 CHL Import Draft. He put up 13 goals and 27 points in 66 games with Regina in 2018-19.

“We wish Sergei all the best in Vancouver,” said Paddock. “He is headed to a great organization and we know he will help their club.”

With this trade, the Pats will be able to make one selection in the 2019 CHL Import Draft on Thursday. Regina holds the seventh overall pick. The draft will begin at 9 a.m. Regina time.

Season tickets for the 2019-20 season are now on sale at Check out the Split Season Tickets and Flex-34 options.

(Phil Andrews/Regina Pats) 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Something To "Mitch" About

--Disagree if you will, but I thought the weekend games of CFL football were just plain bad. Yes, part of that is because it's still early in the season and you can't expect Picassos, but the Riders-Ottawa game was by far and away the best one of the three-game weekend.  Why was it there were only three games again? In a nine-team league, there should be four games per weekend.  End of story! I digress.

I may have to re-think my stance on the BC Lions being the second-best team in the West.  This is a team that paid 700k to have Mike Reilly as their starting quarterback and the collective total of the money being paid to the o-line might be $70.  Reilly was beaten up terribly by the Eskimos defence in his return to Commonwealth Stadium Friday.  Yes, it is only two games in, but if Reilly is going to be "protected" like that, he won't last the season.  Maybe Devone Claybrooks needs to have Duron Carter play o-line.

Of course, I am used to having a quarterback not have a quality offensive line around him as I see Russell Wilson get pressured and sacked wayyyyy too much with the Seahawks.  The only difference is at least Russell can move around a little.  Reilly can too, but he isn't as elusive as Wilson.

--As for the Argos.  OMG! For a team trying to capture some sort of foothold in the Toronto market, this was not the way to do it.  That was beyond horrible and they had a Week 1 bye.  That was like watching a train-wreck. What now?  Maybe the Argos need to get Kawhi Leonard to a game.  The performance makes one think the Riders game against Toronto on Canada Day should be a slam-dunk, but we have seen what has transpired when that scenario presents itself (rewind to last year's home game against Montreal).   I think the Riders can go into that game knowing Toronto can't be any worse than what they were against Hamilton.

--Congratulations to the Regina Riot for a big road win in Edmonton.  It means they will play the Saskatoon Valkyries for all the marbles next weekend in Regina.  What type of crowd can Mosaic get for that one?

--The NHL Draft has come and gone and for the most part despite a lot of talk before it about this player moving and that player moving, it was rather uneventful.  PK Subban's career is now moving from Nashville to New Jersey.  It's no secret I am not a Subban fan and haven't been since his days in Montreal.  I don't think he is as good as advertised.   Being in the shadows of New York City, will he be more interested in promoting himself or helping the Devils try to win a Cup.  Sadly for New Jersey fans, I don't think its the latter.

--Its far too early to talk about players who were taken and who will have the biggest impact.   Some in Chicago feel the Hawks shouldn't have taken Kirby Dach.  As is the case with just about everyone, we will find out who made the grade and who didn't in the next 2-3 years. Personally, I think the steal of the first round was the Habs getting Cole Caulfield at 15.  Add him to the likes of Nick Suzuki and Ryan Poehling and Montreal may have some offence in the next couple of years.

--The Leafs had to give up a first rounder just to send Patrick Marleau to Carolina? Perhaps now we know why the Oilers won't be getting rid of Milan Lucic anytime soon.   Yes, that pick will likely be a high first round pick, but you couldn't have shed a 3rd or 4th round pick.   That my friends is today's NHL.   At the end of the day, shedding the salary means the chances of keeping Mitch Marner are high, but still.

--At the end of the day, the WHL led the way in players drafted with 28 including seven in the first round. The league may struggle when it comes to the Memorial Cup for whatever reason, but I will say it again, there is no better developmental league in the world than what we have in our backyard. It is why the product should be enjoyed whether your team is atop the ladder or not.  The stars of tomorrow are available right now so take it in when the chance arises.  By the way, would you like to see the stars of the WHL, OHL and Quebec league take on the US National Development Team that had so many players drafted.  I would much rather watch that than Canada-Russia.  How do we make that happen?

--It's no secret I am not a Marcus Stroman fan.  He was at his "best" again Sunday as he felt it was appropriate to scream at the Boston Red Sox dugout after a strikeout to end the 6th. You can argue that all you want to, but the fact Stroman was criticized by Dennis Eckersley for his antics was a tad hypocritical.  Eckersley was famous for celebrating strikeouts and letting batters and the opposition know about it.  One remembers the Robbie Alomar homer off of Eck in the 92 ALCS which came an inning before he let I believe it was Ed Sprague have it.  Criticizing Stroman is fair in this situation, but the guy doing the criticizing shouldn't be the guy who was specializing in trash-talk on the mound during his day.

--Why is it so many local online clothing companies only go as high as XXL?  They are losing out.  Can't shop local when the product while desirable isn't what you want.   There is a lot of good stuff coming out these days as well.  Oh well!

--Pete Paczko and I will put the wraps on another season of "Locker Talk" Tuesday night.  As the guests come into Access Communications every Tuesday night, I am reminded of how diverse Regina's sports community is.  There is an awful lot we should be proud of in this city and a lot of people we should be proud of whether it be athletes, coaches, volunteers whatever.  When it comes to local sports, we are a community that has many stories to tell.  Take a bow!

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

WHL Sees 28 Players Taken at NHL Draft

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 The Western Hockey League is proud to announce 28 WHL players have been selected at the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.

Since the 1967 NHL Amateur Draft, a total of 2,048 players have been selected out of the WHL, including 315 first-round selections. Of the 71 players selected across the Canadian Hockey League at the 2019 NHL Draft, 28 came from the WHL.

Of the 28 WHL players selected, 16 heard their names called during the first three rounds of the 2019 NHL Draft, including seven in the first round, five in the second round and four in the third round.
The Kelowna Rockets led the way among WHL Clubs with four players selected. In addition to the selections of Thomson and Foote in the first round, defenceman Kaedan Korczak was selected 41st overall by the Vegas Golden Knights while forward Dillon Hamaliuk was chosen 55thoverall by the San Jose Sharks. 

The Seattle Thunderbirds enjoyed a strong showing with three players selected. The Calgary Hitmen, Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Prince Albert Raiders, and Vancouver Giants each had a pair of players selected. Eleven other WHL member Clubs saw a single player from their team selected. 

2019 NHL Draft – WHL Players
Overall – Player (Pos.) – NHL Team; WHL Team; Hometown

Round One (7) 
#3 – Kirby Dach (F) – Chicago Blackhawks; Saskatoon Blades; Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
#4 – Bowen Byram (D) – Colorado Avalanche; Vancouver Giants; Cranbrook, B.C.
#7 – Dylan Cozens (F) – Buffalo Sabres; Lethbridge Hurricanes; Whitehorse, Yukon
#17 – Peyton Krebs (F) – Vegas Golden Knights; Winnipeg ICE; Okotoks, Alta.
#19 – Lassi Thomson (D) – Ottawa Senators; Kelowna Rockets; Tampere, Finland
#27 – Nolan Foote (F) – Tampa Bay Lightning; Kelowna Rockets; Kelowna, B.C.
#29 – Brayden Tracey (F) – Anaheim Ducks; Moose Jaw Warriors; Calgary, Alta. 

Round Two (5)
#37 – Mads S√łgaard (G) – Ottawa Senators; Medicine Hat Tigers; Aalborg, Denmark
#41 – Kaedan Korczak (D) – Vegas Golden Knights; Kelowna Rockets; Yorkton, Sask. 
#49 – Matthew Robertson (D) – New York Rangers; Edmonton Oil Kings; Sherwood Park, Alta.
#55 – Dillon Hamaliuk (F) – San Jose Sharks; Kelowna Rockets; Leduc, Alta.
#56 – Brett Leason (F) – Washington Capitals; Prince Albert Raiders; Calgary, Alta.

Round Three (4)
#69 – John Ludvig (D) – Florida Panthers; Portland Winterhawks; Kamloops, B.C.
#75 – Adam Beckman (F) – Minnesota Wild; Spokane Chiefs; Saskatoon, Sask.
#77 – Gianni Fairbrother (D) – Montreal Canadiens; Everett Silvertips; North Vancouver, B.C.
#91 – Aliaksei Protas (F) – Washington Capitals; Prince Albert Raiders; Vitebsk, Belarus

Round Five (5)
#125 – Mark Kastelic (F) – Ottawa Senators; Calgary Hitmen; Phoenix, Ariz. 
#133 – Carson Focht (F) – Vancouver Canucks; Calgary Hitmen; Regina, Sask.
#136 – Henrik Rybinski (F) – Florida Panthers; Seattle Thunderbirds; Vancouver, B.C.
#140 – Sasha Mutala (F) – Colorado Avalanche; Tri-City Americans; Vancouver, B.C.
#147 – Reece Newkirk (F) – New York Islanders; Portland Winterhawks; Moose Jaw, Sask. 

Round Six (3)
#169 – Roddy Ross (G) – Philadelphia Flyers; Seattle Thunderbirds; Meadow Lake, Sask. #171 – Luka Burzan (F) – Colorado Avalanche; Brandon Wheat Kings; Surrey, B.C.
#182 – Quinn Schmiemann (D) – Tampa Bay Lightning; Kamloops Blazers; Wilcox, Sask. 

Round Seven (4)
#194 – Cole Moberg (D) – Chicago Blackhawks; Prince George Cougars; North Vancouver, B.C.
#199 – Matthew Wedman (F) – Florida Panthers; Seattle Thunderbirds; Edmonton, Alta.
#202 – Trent Miner (G) – Colorado Avalanche; Vancouver Giants; Brandon, Man. 
#214 – Dustin Wolf (G) – Calgary Flames; Everett Silvertips; Tustin, Calif. 

Good Night For WHL at 2019 NHL Draft

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The Western Hockey League is proud to announce seven WHL players have been selected during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. on Friday night.

Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach was the top player selected from the WHL, chosen third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram was the top defenceman selected, chosen fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche. Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens was selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres to round out the strong WHL representation in the top 10.

Winnipeg ICE captain Peyton Krebs was selected 17th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights. A pair of Kelowna Rockets were selected, as defenceman Lassi Thomson went at 19th overall to the Ottawa Senators while forward Nolan Foote was chosen 27th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Tracey went at 29th overall to the Anaheim Ducks.

The seven first-round selections brings the WHL’s number of all-time first-round NHL Draft selections to 315 since the 1967 NHL Amateur Draft. The NHL Draft resumes Saturday morning with the second round beginning at 11 a.m. MT on Sportsnet.

2019 NHL Draft – WHL Players
Overall – Player (Pos.) – NHL Team; WHL Team; Hometown

Round One
#3 – Kirby Dach (F) – Chicago Blackhawks; Saskatoon Blades; Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
#4 – Bowen Byram (D) – Colorado Avalanche; Vancouver Giants; Cranbrook, B.C.
#7 – Dylan Cozens (F) – Buffalo Sabres; Lethbridge Hurricanes; Whitehorse, Yukon
#17 – Peyton Krebs (F) – Vegas Golden Knights; Winnipeg ICE; Okotoks, Alta.
#19 – Lassi Thomson (D) – Ottawa Senators; Kelowna Rockets; Tampere, Finland
#27 – Nolan Foote (F) – Tampa Bay Lightning; Kelowna Rockets; Kelowna, B.C.
#29 – Brayden Tracey (F) – Anaheim Ducks; Moose Jaw Warriors; Calgary, Alta.

Kirby Dach – Saskatoon Blades (Third overall, Chicago Blackhawks)
A product of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., forward Kirby Dach posted 73 points (25G-48A) in 62 games during the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season, ranking third in team scoring. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound forward was a driving force as the Blades made their triumphant return to the WHL Playoffs, with Dach recording eight points (5G-3A) in 10 games. In 133 WHL regular season games, Dach has accrued 129 points (38G-91A). Internationally, Dach has won gold with Hockey Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and played with Canada Black at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Bowen Byram – Vancouver Giants (Fourth overall, Colorado Avalanche) 
A product of Cranbrook, B.C., defenceman Bowen Byram enjoyed an extremely successful 2018-19 campaign with the Giants, tallying 71 points (26G-45A) in 67 games. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound rear guard led all CHL defencemen in goals during the regular season, also making WHL history twice. His six overtime goals are now the most by any player ever in a single regular season. He also led all WHL players in scoring during the 2019 WHL Playoffs with 26 points (8G-18A) in 22 games, the first defenceman to ever accomplish the feat. For his WHL career, Byram has recorded 98 points (32G-66A) in 138 regular season games, along with 33 points (11G-22A) in 29 WHL playoff games. Internationally, Byram won gold with Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and captured silver with Canada Red at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Dylan Cozens – Lethbridge Hurricanes (Seventh overall, Buffalo Sabres)
A product of Whitehorse, Yukon, forward Dylan Cozens has thrived in the WHL since making his debut as a 15-year-old. A dynamic forward, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound forward posted 84 points (34G-50A) in 68 games with Lethbridge during the regular season. The 2018 recipient of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as WHL Rookie of the Year has recorded 138 points (57G-81A) in 128 WHL regular season games, adding 29 points (14G-15A) in 35 WHL playoff games. Internationally, Cozens has won gold with Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and won silver with Canada Red at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He also served as an alternate captain with Canada at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

Peyton Krebs– Winnipeg ICE (17th overall, Vegas Golden Knights)
A product of Okotoks, Alta., ICE captain Peyton Krebs has been an offensive standout for his organization. The first-overall selection from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft led the ICE in the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season with 68 points (19G-49A) in 64 games. Making his WHL debut as a 15-year-old, Krebs recorded four points eight days before he turned 16-years-old. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward has recorded 128 points (37G-91A) in 137 WHL regular season games. On the international stage, Krebs won gold with Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He also captained Canada Red to a silver medal at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and recently led Canada’s entry at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

Lassi Thomson – Kelowna Rockets (19th overall, Ottawa Senators)
A product of Tampere, Finland, defenceman Lassi Thomson led all WHL rookies on the blue line with 41 points (17G-24A) and was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Year with the Rockets. Thomson’s 17 goals ranked him in a tie for third among all WHL defencemen while he was fourth in team scoring. The 6-foot-0, 187-pound Thomson was selected by the Rockets in the first round, 53rd overall, of the 2018 CHL Import Draft. With Finland, Thomson won a gold medal at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

Nolan Foote – Kelowna Rockets (27th overall, Tampa Bay Lightning)
A product of Kelowna, B.C., forward Nolan Foote recorded a career-high 63 points (36G-27A) this season. Those totals led the Rockets in goals while ranking in a tie for second in team scoring. With Tampa Bay, Foote joins his older brother Cal, who was selected 14th overall by the Lightning in the 2017 NHL Draft and formerly captained the Rockets. The 6-foot-3, 188-pound Foote has appeared in 168 WHL regular season games, recording 138 points (68G-70A). He’s also compiled 10 points (3G-7A) in 22 WHL playoff games. On the international stage, Foote won a silver medal with Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Brayden Tracey – Moose Jaw Warriors (29th overall, Anaheim Ducks)
A product of Calgary, Alta., forward Brayden Tracey had a breakout rookie season with the Warriors, recording 81 points (36G-45A) in 66 games during the regular season. The 6-foot-0, 174-pound forward was named the recipient of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the 2019 WHL Rookie of the Year. Overall, Tracey finished in a tie for 13th in league scoring and was third among all Warriors in team scoring. At the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Tracey won a silver medal with Canada Red. He also represented his country at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

Recent NHL Draft Results (WHL):
2018 NHL Draft: 20 WHL players selected, including two in the first round
2017 NHL Draft: 33 WHL players selected, including seven in the first round
2016 NHL Draft: 34 WHL players selected, including four in the first round
2015 NHL Draft: 35 WHL players selected, including five in the first round
2014 NHL Draft: 37 WHL players selected, including nine in the first round
2013 NHL Draft: 33 WHL players selected, including eight in the first round
2012 NHL Draft: 32 WHL players selected, including six in the first round
2011 NHL Draft: 33 WHL players selected, including five in the first round
2010 NHL Draft: 43 WHL players selected, including seven in the first round
2009 NHL Draft: 31 WHL players selected, including five in the first round
2008 NHL Draft: 37 WHL players selected, including nine in the first round


This and That

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

--A lot of good and a lot of bad.  That is how you have to look at what happened in Ottawa Thursday. As discussed with Derek Taylor in the Sportscage on Friday, I never in my wildest dreams thought the Saskatchewan Roughriders offence would score 41 and lose.  How could that happen with that defence especially with Dominique Davis calling the shots  It did!  Back to the D in a moment.  Let's start with the good:

               - Cody Fajardo showed us he can run the offence.  Fajardo looked nothing like he did against Hamilton.  He was "huckin and chuckin" it and he was succeeding as he set a team record for passing yards in his first start as a Rider.  Will this continue against Toronto?

               --Kyran Moore and Shaq Evans were two players who had to step their game up going into this season and early on both have.  Both will be needed moving forward

The bad

                -Was it just one of those nights for the D.  The same D that shut down Jeremiah Masoli and the Ti-Cats a week earlier.  If this had been Game 1 of the season, I would have some worries. I am taking this as a one off and hoping it doesn't repeat itself against the Argos

               --While Nick Marshall had a night to forget, lets credit Davis for making some great throws.  Would we be on Marshall's case if had been Bo Levi or Mike Reilly throwing the football?

               --Micah Johnson where are you?  Is this a repeat of the Derek Dennis signing that was not a good one from a couple of years ago?

               --Mak Henry's shoulder into Davis was not as egregious as the Lawrence hit on Zach Collaros, but it was just as dumb.  There was no need for that play from Henry and in my mind he should have gotten 25 yards and not 15.  I'll be interested to see if supplementary discipline comes  If the league is serious about player safety, he will.  Yes, this likely means he won't

               --The punt cover team is atrocious.  Jon Ryan averages 48 yards a punt, but the net is terrible because no one downfield can make a tackle.  The hang time is there, the execution is not.  It is as simple as that.  This is a team that had problems covering punts when Josh Bartel was here as the opposition ran four punts back for TD's last season.

At the end of the day, there was a lot to be optimistic about, but there is also a lot to be worried about.  The team gets over a week to prepare for Toronto.  It's not a must-win at Mosaic on Canada Day, but 0-3 won't go over well with anyone.

--Everyone is upset with the fact the CFLPA is grieving the two game suspension issued to Simoni Lawrence.  The association is protecting the Hamilton linebacker, but doing nothing for Zach Collaros.  This situation is no different than any other where a player gets suspended.   While the association sticks up for Lawrence, the question about who sticks up for Collaros is more than valid and fair.  The association should answer that question.  I am guessing they won't though.  Who's kidding who, you know they won't.

The PA could have made it easy and said they stand alongside the league when it comes to player safety initiatives.  They could have said no to Lawrence's grievance and made him serve his penalty. Lawrence himself could just be a man and accept his punishment but that won't happen.

--The Toronto Blue Jays make stops across the country during the off-season to promote themselves and Major League Baseball.  In Regina, they had Kevin Pillar and Marco Estrada pop in a couple of years ago and we see alumni come in for Honda Supercamps and the Regina Red Sox dinner.  I hope the Raptors take notice of this and start something similar after what we saw from Canadians during this playoff run.  I will take it one step further.  You can't tell me that people didn't notice the crowds that showed up at Mosaic Stadium.  How about possibly rewarding those people by coming here for an exhibition game and bring the "Larry O-B" with you so we can get a good look at it.   The Raps have played exhibition games in Winnipeg and Calgary so why not Regina and Saskatoon?

--If you saw the piece with  Carey Price at the NHL Awards Wednesday night, you can't tell me you didn't tear up just a little.  What a moment that was! I didn't think it could be any better than it was when the Habs goalie first met his young fan whose mom died of cancer during the season,,,,,but it did.  Robin Lehner's speech was a close second.

--Remember when people were asking where all the talent in the WHL was.  I think those questions can be silenced after seven went in the first round of Friday night's NHL draft.  It's far too early to see who won and who lost in the first round, but the fact Cole Caulfield slipped all the way to Montreal at 15 may be one discussed in future years.  That kid could score 20 with his eyes closed.

What happened to all the rumoured trades?

Tell me Gary Bettman doesn't love being booed.  He embraces it as evidenced by his opening address on Friday night.

----If Brett Hull ever hangs out with Alexander Ovechkin in the summer, we need to make a reality TV show of it.  Imagine!

--The Tampa Bay Rays/Montreal Expos story was one that caught most off guard when it came out Thursday morning.  Is there any doubt that you have to call the team the Ex-Rays? (All credit on that goes to my good friend and baseball afficianado Craig Slater).  I don't know how this will actually happen because there are a lot of hurdles to cross including permission from the Players Association, but if it can somehow get Montreal back on the MLB grid, its great.

--Is Global Regina ever going to replace Tiffany Lizee?

--The late week rain may have been frowned on by some, but you can guess everyone in the agricultural community was loving it.  There is nothing like the smell of a fresh rain and the sound of it pounding down. I've missed that and I'm guessing some of you have as well.

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

Friday, June 21, 2019

NHL Rule Changes

The National Hockey League announced today a series of rule changes for the 2019-20 season which will include the use of expanded video review and enhanced player safety initiatives, as well as promoting even more offense and flow in the game. 

The rule changes were unanimously approved by the League’s Board of Governors, NHL General Managers and the Competition Committee over the past week. NHL Hockey Operations will work on the precise Rule Book language over the coming weeks.  Following is an overview of the changes:


NEW CATEGORY: In addition to Coach’s Challenge for “Off-side” and “Interference on the Goalkeeper”, a third category will allow for the Coach’s Challenge of goal calls on the ice that follow plays in the Offensive Zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage, but did not.

This change will allow Challenges of plays that may involve pucks that hit the spectator netting, pucks that are high-sticked to a teammate in the offensive zone, pucks that have gone out of play but are subsequently touched in the offensive zone and hand passes that precede without a play stoppage and ultimately conclude in the scoring of a goal.  Plays that entail “discretionary stoppages” (e.g. penalty calls) will not be subject to a Coach’s Challenge.
Coach’s Challenges for these types of plays (and for “Off-Side” Challenges) will only be available if the puck does not come out of the attacking zone between the time of the “missed” infraction and the time the goal is scored.

PENALTIES FOR UNSUCCESSFUL CHALLENGES: The number of Coach’s Challenges that can be made will no longer be limited based on the availability of a team’s time-out.  Teams will be permitted to exercise a Coach’s Challenge at any time, but with escalating “consequences” for unsuccessful Challenges. The consequences of unsuccessful Coach’s Challenges will be made consistent across all three Categories of Coach’s Challenges: (1) minor penalty for Delaying the Game on a Club’s first unsuccessful Coach’s Challenge; and (2) double minor penalty for Delaying the Game for each additional Coach’s Challenge that is unsuccessful. 

The Situation Room in Toronto will continue to be responsible for initiating video review in the final minute of regulation time and overtime as well as continue to have final authority over all Coach’s Challenge video review decisions with input and consultation from both the On-Ice Officials and a former Official staffed in the Situation Room.


MAJOR & MATCH PENALTIES: Referees will be required to conduct an on-ice video review for all Major (non-fighting) and Match Penalties they assess on the ice for the purpose of: (a) “confirming” the penalty; or (b) “reducing” the penalty to a two-minute minor penalty.  Referees shall not have the option to rescind a called penalty altogether.

The Referees will be provided with all available video to review their own calls but will not otherwise consult with the NHL Situation Room with respect to their review.

DOUBLE MINOR FOR HIGH-STICKING: Referees will have the ability to conduct an on-ice video review to confirm (or not) their original call on the ice, and, in particular, whether the stick causing the apparent injury was actually the stick of the Player being penalized.  The Referee’s review of all High-Sticking/Double-Minor Penalties will be discretionary and not mandatory and will be conducted without consultation with the NHL Situation Room.

HELMETS: Subject to further consultation with the NHL Players’ Association on precise language, a Player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play must (a) exit the playing surface, or (b) retrieve and replace his helmet properly on his head (with or without his chin strap fastened). A Player who is making a play on the puck or who is in position to make an immediate play on the puck at the time his helmet comes off, shall be given a reasonable opportunity to complete the play before either exiting the ice or retrieving and replacing his helmet. Failure to comply with the above will result in a minor penalty being assessed on the offending player. A Player who intentionally removes an opponent’s helmet during play shall be assessed a minor penalty for roughing.

LINE CHANGES FOR DEFENSIVE TEAM: The defensive team will not be permitted a line change when a goalie freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line. Similarly, if the actions of a skater of the defensive team cause a stoppage by unintentionally dislodging the net from its moorings, the defensive team will not be permitted to make a line change. In both of these instances, the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.

FACE-OFFS FOLLOWING AN ICING & TO BEGIN A POWER-PLAY: Following an icing as well as at the beginning of any power-play, the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place. 

AWARDED GOAL: If the goal post is deliberately displaced by a goalkeeper during the course of a “breakaway”, a goal will be awarded to the non-offending team.

PUCK OUT OF BOUNDS: When the attacking team is responsible for the puck going out of play in the attacking zone, in all instances, the face-off will be conducted at one of the two face-off dots in the attacking zone.

(NHL Media) 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Riders Lose High-Scoring Affair in Ottawa

Were the offences that good or the defences that bad Thursday in Ottawa?

If you ask the Ottawa Redblacks they won't care after escaping with a 44-41 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Dominque Davis threw three touchdown passes and Lewis Ward kicked six field goals in the Redblacks' win, but it was the Riders who led 468-447 in total yardage.

The Redblacks won't care about that either.

"I really like the group and their mindset. They just keep plugging along but we're well aware that we've got work to do and there's plenty of room for improvement," Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said.

The Redblacks went into the fourth quarter with a 38-27 lead that Ward upped to 41-27 with a 28-yard field goal five minutes in.

The Riders and quarterback Cody Fajardo wouldn't quit as they drove the field. Marcus Thigpen scored on a six-yard run with less than five minutes to play. The extra point was no good however, leaving the Riders trailing 41-33.

Ward made it 44-33 with a 22-yard field goal with less than two minutes to play, but Fajardo scored on a one-yard run with 26 seconds left and threw a two-point conversion to Shaq Evans.

The Redblacks recovered the ensuing onside kick. Fajardo threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as the Riders fell to 0-2 with the home opener coming Canada Day against the Toronto Argonauts.

"I'm not a big stats guy. Obviously the biggest stat for any quarterback is wins and losses. We just have to get on the game film and figure out what we can get better at," Fajardo said, referring specifically to two lost fumbles.

"We had more turnovers than them and usually that's what this game is about, turnovers. I think both teams played well and they played well enough to win. We played well enough to win but we had a couple of bad breaks."

Davis meanwhile had 354 passing yards and no interceptions as the Redblacks head into their bye week with a 2-0 record. He threw four interceptions last week in a road win over the Calgary Stampeders.

"That was my main goal coming into this week — taking care of the ball. I knew that if we take care of the ball we've got a good chance at winning games," Davis said.

"It's good to go into a bye week 2-0 and get ready for Winnipeg. There will be a lot of corrections to make once we watch the film and it definitely wasn't our best game and there's still room to grow."

The Roughriders opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Fajardo to Thigpen at 7:08 of the first quarter and the score was converted by Brett Lauther for a 7-0 lead.

The Redblacks responded with nine points before the end of the quarter to take a 9-7 lead.

First, Davis connected with namesake Dominique Rhymes for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 left in the quarter and then found Caleb Holley for the two-point conversion.

The ensuing kickoff from Richie Leone went for a single point.

Things got crazy in the second quarter as Lauther booted a 57-yard field goal in the opening minute of the quarter as the Roughriders reclaimed the lead at 10-9.

Davis threw touchdown passes of 23 and seven-yards to J.C. Beaulieu and R.J. Harris respectively with a two-point conversion following each to give the Redblacks a 25-10 lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the half.

Former Redblack William Powell scored on a nine-yard run at 8:03 cutting the lead to 25-17 following the conversion before Ward kicked field goals of 30 and 45 yards, the second coming in the final minute.

Fajardo then took the Roughriders 75 yards in 15 seconds culminating in a 43-yard touchdown pass to Evans with just four seconds to play in the half making the count 31-20 Redblacks.

The first series of the second half ended with a Saskatchewan fumble that the Redblacks recovered and tuned into a 30-yard field goal by Ward.

Lauther then hit a 20-yard field goal of his own cutting the deficit to just seven at 34-27 seven minutes into the third. That lead was pushed to 11 before the end of the quarter on another 30-yard field goal from Ward and a 64-yard punt single from Leone.