The Kelowna Rockets have done the unthinkable. They have gone into the Saddledome and beaten the Calgary Hitmen twice to take a 2-0 lead in the WHL final with the next two games going on their home ice. The Rockets scoring four times in the 3rd for a 5-2 win. Mikael Backlund had a pair for the winners. Backlund is property of the Flames so Calgary hockey fans perhaps got a painful taste of the future. I am stunned over this development as I thought the Hitmen would roll right through Kelowna the way did Brandon, Lethbridge and Edmonton. I don't care who you are, it is tough to beat a team four out of five with three of those games going in the other teams rink.
The Humboldt Broncos opened up the RBC Cup with a 2-1 win over the host Victoria Grizzlies. The Broncos went into the 3rd down 1-0 but they tied it two minutes into the final period on a goal by Spencer Braaten and then win it on a shorthanded goal by Scott Schroeder at the 19:59 mark of the 3rd. That has to leave a mark on the Grizzlies.
It was a Saturday night spent at the Press Box with luminaries. Rod Pedersen, Pete Paczko, Tom Vernon and "The Hedgehog" Chad Jeremy from 620 CKRM, web-man extraordinaire Jeff Armstead, Chris Szarka stalker and uber-fan Chris Garton along with Derek Meyers and Lee Jones. What a motley crew we make. With stories being told and beverages being consumed, we watched the Hawks erase a 2-0 deficit after one and go on to double the Canucks 6-3. Chicago just continues to play with that we don't care what the score is attitude, they just keep coming and coming and coming. As I have said before, they are fun to watch. Meanwhile it was time to play some hockey and end the hype as the Penguins and Capitals started their series. Ex-Warrior Tomas Fleischmann with the winner early in the 3rd as Washington takes the opener 3-2.
While many were in the Press Box to watch the hockey game, many others came out to watch boxing. Apparently the sport still has some relevance. They were there to watch Manny Pacquiao take on Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao laid a serious ass-kicking to Hatton finishing him off with a crumpling left to the noggin late in the 2nd round much to the joy of those watching at the PB. When I talk about boxing not having any relevance anymore, I mean it. That sport is just dying off thanks to mixed martial arts. There are seemingly no charismatic boxers left and there is no American superstar in the heavyweight division. You have to be a real fanatic to still enjoy the sport and know who is doing what. To those who still have boxing high on their radar, good on you.
One other NHL note. Islanders owner Charles Wang says he regrets buying the team nine years ago and says if he had the chance to do it again, he would say no. I think Islander fans regret Wang buying the team too.
Citing the team's annual audited financial reports, Newsday reported Saturday on its Web site that Wang has spent US$208.8 million -- an average of $23 million per year -- to keep the team operating. He also spent $74.2 million when he and Sanjay Kumar bought the club and assumed $97 million in liabilities. You know with people in Saskatoon saying a new football facility should be built in their city and that the Riders should move there, why don't you pony up your money and make an offer to Wang to buy the Islanders. That way when they come for training camp they can just stay. Yeah, OK!!
Once again, Saskatchewan shines at the CFL draft. The Rams had five players taken at the CFL draft which is more than any other school while the Huskies had two players selected. Since joining the CIS in 1999, the Rams have now seen 19 players get their name called in the draft. While not all 19 have been able to make it to the CFL, its still pretty impressive to have that amount of players go. Same for the Huskies who have done one better having 20 players get drafted. It tells you what type of programs Frank McCrystal and Brian Towriss are running. While they get a lot of credit, so should high school coaches and coaches in Regina and Saskatoon minor football along with programs in the other cities. From the grassroots up there is no better football province than the good old 306 and this proves it once again.
I haven't seen the details of it but HBO starting in June is going to run a show called "Joe Buck Live". The host of the show will be the main play by play man for both MLB and the NFL on Fox--the legendary Joe Buck. If HBO can have "Joe Buck Live" than I am calling for Global Regina to scrap "ET Canada" and have "Rod Pedersen Live". After all, I do refer to Roddy as Canada's Joe Buck because he is a two sport superstar. CMON!!! Who's with me on this one!!! It would be television at its finest. Then again, they could have Vanstone and I doing a late night show. That would draw in the ratings!!!!! (When will I learn that dripping sarcasm just doesn't work in print!!). Later!