Friday, March 31, 2017

CFL Notebook; Ricky Foley Released, Ryan Smith Retires

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are going to break from tradition and will reveal the players on their negotiation list.

The CFL club made the announcement Friday and will also provide videos exclusively to Ticats All Access members. Ticats All Access is a free program open to all fans.

``This initiative is consistent with our mandate to find new and innovative ways to engage with our fans and provide unique content through our digital platforms,'' Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell said in a statement. ``It's a great opportunity for Tiger-Cats fans to learn more about the team's prospect pool and potential future players.''

CFL teams can have up to 45 players on their negotiation list, giving the club exclusive CFL rights to them. Players can be added, removed or traded from the list at any time.

All clubs have always kept the players on their negotiation list private until now.


The Toronto Argonauts have parted ways with three-time Grey Cup Champion and former Most Outstanding Canadian Ricky Foley, the team announced Friday.

Foley, 34, was set to enter his 12th CFL season and sixth with the Argos over two separate stints.

A national defensive end from Courtice, Ont., Foley moved back home to Toronto for the second time in his career after being traded to the Argos in 2015. In his last two seasons with the Argos, he recorded 69 tackles and 10 sacks in 32 games.


 Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Ryan Smith has announced his retirement from professional football.

The news, which was revealed on Friday in a press release from the team, is sudden and surprising from the 25-year-old pass-catcher out of Wahpeton, N.D.

Smith joined the Bombers in February 2016 as a free agent after spending his first two CFL seasons with Saskatchewan.

“Although this was an extremely difficult decision, it is one that I am ultimately comfortable with,” said Smith. “I have the opportunity to pursue interests outside of football, and I just feel this is the time for me to step away.

“I would truly like to thank the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, my teammates, the CFL, and the fans of the Blue Bombers. Most importantly, Mr. Wade Miller, Kyle Walters and Coach O’Shea for their understanding and support throughout this process, and ultimately my decision.

“I will miss the game and the great people in it, but this was the right decision for me at this time.”

Last year, Smith accumulated 488 yards on 53 carries for one touchdown in 11 games. His best performance came in the Western Semi-Final against the BC Lions where he posted 106 yards on seven receptions for two scores.

In 2015, the North Dakota State product led the Riders in receiving yards and touchdowns, finishing with 59 receptions for 991 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith played in 24 games over two seasons with Saskatchewan, starting in 22.


This And That

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


--When I watched the Edmonton Oilers lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final, I had no idea what was about to happen. Either did many other Oiler fans!  The decade of disaster was beginning.  862 games, and 177 players later it is over as the Oilers are heading back to the playoffs.  Yes, myself and many others never gave up, but damn it was tough to see one bad team after another get iced. How did we do it? How did we manage to stay with this team through one horrid season after another.  While the arrival of the guy in the picture certainly helped, Connor McDavid doesn't get all the credit.  As 630 CHED's Brendan Ullrich told us on the Sportscage Wednesday, while many like Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli are to get a pat on the back, the credit has to lie at the feet of  Bob Nicholson. 

The chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group had a vision.  Yes, having four ping-pong balls bounce your way on a Saturday night in June of 2015 to land a once-in-a-lifetime player helped immensely as well, but Nicholson had a plan. One that was perhaps accelerated greatly after that June night. It involved Peter Chiarelli, it involved Todd McLellan and once he became theirs, it involved Connor McDavid. 

Nicholson knew what Chiarelli could do and he quickly grabbed him. Chiarelli went out and got McLellan. He then went out and convinced Milan Lucic to be a part of what was about to happen, he made what at the time was the unpopular trade of Taylor Hall and he also grabbed Cam Talbot. He took a chance on Mark Letestu, he took a chance on Drake Caggiula, he hoped Oscar Klefbom could develop and he resisted the urge to trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle while stealing Patrick Maroon from Anaheim.  He then allowed McLellan to do his thing, and do it he has.  McLellan has been through this before with the San Jose Sharks.  Those teams never got to the Cup final despite having all the talent in the world. Those Sharks didn't have McDavid.  

I don't know who Edmonton will play in the 1st round and they may not win a game once the playoffs hit, but the vision and the plan is there.  For Oilers fans like this blogger, we can forget about the past decade and concentrate on what will perhaps be ten years of triumph.  It will never be like the Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr days, but damn it is nice to know that once the quest for the Cup starts, the Oilers will be involved.   

--The Regina Pats are headed to the 2nd round.  I don't think that will surprise anyone, but did the ease of the four game sweep surprise you. Admittedly, it did to me.  That being said head coach and GM John Paddock and assistant coach Dave Struch are keeping this team grounded by saying they haven't been impressed. Has Calgary been that bad if Regina hasn't been good?  I guess we will find out in the 2nd round.  If Regina didn't play their best, they now go into the 2nd round having won I believe 12 straight. Not too shabby! How much fun will it be now with either Swift Current or Moose Jaw in Round 2.  I see that series going 7.

--Is there a faster player than Austin Wagner in the Canadian Hockey League?

--It was great being able to hear Peter Loubardias do the play-by-play of a hockey game again this week. Yes, I'm biased because he is a good friend of mine, but he should still be doing play-by-play in the NHL. His talents are being wasted. Considering what he went through last year, it makes it all that much more special.

--I don't know what Saskatoon-based Darren Dupont is getting for mileage, but with all the TV work he does outside Saskatoon, he must be in another tax bracket than I am.  I won't even comment about his well-coiffed lid!

--The signing of Tyson Jost by the Colorado Avalanche was a surprise.  The Avs now can keep him or send him to the Pats who have his rights. A year in Regina playing alongside Sam Steel, Nick Henry, Jake Leschyshyn and others might be better than playing with what will be a bad Avalanche team.  I am guessing John Paddock will be getting on the phone to speak with Joe Sakic and the Avs soon if he hasn't already.  I also wonder if the signing was an indication he wants to come after a season at North Dakota.

--Don Nachbaur stepped down as the coach of the Spokane Chiefs on Thursday.  I may be wrong with this one, but did all WHL teams end the year with the same coach they started with? If that is the case, I can't remember a season where that happened.

--The Blue Jays are back in Montreal this weekend. The love for the game in the city will be showcased again as Toronto finishes off its pre-season against Baltimore. For a while on Wednesday, many got excited when word came out that a group of investors had met the conditions MLB needed for a team. That excitement was doused by both Mayor Denis Coderre and one of those investors who said while some of the conditions were met, there was still a long way to go. I've said it before,  and I'll say it again. Montreal deserves another MLB franchise. The way the old Expos went out was criminal. It will happen, and when it does the team will thrive.  It would seem as if TSN would be a logical television partner which would be huge for the franchise and the sport as a whole.

--What would be your first clue that Flames forward Matt Tkaczuk is Keith's kid. He is going to have a prominent role in "The Battle of Alberta" over the next few years meaning I will hate this kid soon.

--The commercial featuring the guys playing pond hockey and then enjoying a nice cold glass of milk can go at anytime! If last night was its last airing, I'm OK with that!

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pats Move On To Round 2

Photo: Keith Hershmiller

The Regina Pats have sent the Calgary Hitmen home for the season. 

Austin Wagner had a pair as Regina completed a 4 game sweep of the Hitmen with a 5-1 win. They now await the winner of the Moose Jaw-Swift Current which is even at two going into Game 5 Friday at Mosaic Place. 

Regina 0 3 2 - 5
Calgary 0 0 1 - 1

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Ahl Reg (slashing), 0:22; Hobbs Reg (tripping), 1:47; Buziak Reg (roughing), 9:18; Kastelic Cgy (roughing), 9:18; Fyten Cgy (high sticking), 19:18.

2nd Period-1, Regina, Davidson 1 (Buziak, Brooks), 2:51. 2, Regina, Wagner 2 (Hobbs, Leedahl), 7:47 (PP). 3, Regina, Wagner 3 (Ahl, Hobbs), 19:25 (PP). Penalties-Gordon Cgy (checking from behind), 6:14; Nielsen Cgy (high sticking), 18:08.

3rd Period-4, Calgary, Nielsen 1 (Reagan, Kastelic), 7:03 (PP). 5, Regina, Hobbs 1 (Steel, Henry), 17:53 (PP EN). 6, Regina, de Wit 1 (Harrison, Mahura), 19:11 (PP). Penalties-Dorsey Cgy (cross checking), 2:57; Sloboshan Reg (slashing), 5:08; Malenstyn Cgy (roughing), 17:09; Gennaro Cgy (game misconduct), 18:27; Zipp Cgy (cross checking), 18:27.

Shots on Goal-Regina 10-17-12-39. Calgary 9-5-7-21.
Power Play Opportunities-Regina 4 / 6; Calgary 1 / 3.
Goalies-Regina, Brown (21 shots-20 saves). Calgary, Porter (38 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Adam Bloski (16), Derek Zalaski (8).
Linesmen-Sean Donnelly (109), Michael Roberts (87).

Elsewhere in the WHL Playoffs 


Red Deer 5 Lethbridge 3  --  Lane Zablocki, Brandon Hagel (RD) 2 goals (Rebels lead best of 7 series 3-1) 


Portland 5 Prince George 4 --  Matt Revel (PORT) 2 goals  (Best of 7 tied at 2) 

Avalanche Sign Tyson Jost

Avalanche prospect Tyson Jost during a 2016-17 game with the University of North Dakota.

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Tyson Jost to a three-year, entry-level contract. Jost is scheduled to join the Avalanche for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Jost, 19, was Colorado's first-round selection (10th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. He recently completed his freshman season at the University of North Dakota, tallying 35 points (16g/19a) in 33 games. Jost finished second on the team in points, goals (tied) and assists, and shared the club lead with five power-play goals. His 35 points currently rank second among all NCHC freshmen.
"We are excited to announce that Tyson has signed his entry-level contract and will be joining us for the rest of this season," said Avalanche Executive Vice-President/General Manager Joe Sakic "Tyson is an all-around player. He competes, plays the game hard and is reliable at both ends of the ice. He just finished a strong year at North Dakota and we're looking forward to seeing him in an Avalanche sweater."

A native of St. Albert, Alberta, Jost helped Team Canada to a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal/Toronto this past January. The 5-foot-11, 191-pound center tallied four points (1g/3a) in seven games during the tournament.
Prior to enrolling at North Dakota, Jost was named the 2015-16 British Columbia Hockey League Most Valuable Player (Vern Dye Memorial Trophy) after tallying 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists) in 48 games for the Penticton Vees. His 62 assists led the BCHL, while his 104 points ranked third. Jost's 2.17 points-per-game average was the highest in the league.
Jost captained Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he led the entire tournament in scoring with 15 points (6g/9a) in seven games. His 15 points established a Canadian record at that event, surpassing the previous mark set by Connor McDavid (14) in 2013. Jost was selected as the tournament's "Best Forward" and was named to the All-Star Team.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WHL Playoffs Update

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Seven of the eight first round matchups continued in the WHL playoffs Wednesday night with the only series having the night off being the one between the Pats and Hitmen which will resume Thursday in Calgary.

Here is what happened Wednesday night


Swift Current 5 Moose Jaw 2 -- Ryley Lindgren (SC) 3 goals (best of 7 series tied at 2)
Medicine Hat 3 Brandon 2 -- David Quenneville (MH) 2 goals (Tigers win series 4-0
Red Deer 4 Lethbridge 3 (2OT) -- Evan Polei (RD)  GWG @ .48 2 OT (Best of 7 series tied at 1) 


Victoria 2  Everett 1 -- Griffen Outhouse (VIC) 30 saves  (best of 7 series tied at 2)
Kelowna 1 Kamloops 0 -- Michael Herringer (KEL) 24 saves ( Rockets lead best of 7 3-1)
Prince George 6 Portland 1 -- Jansen Harkins (PG)  2G, 3A (Cougars lead best of 7 2-1)
Seattle 9  Tri-Cities 2  -- Ethan Bear (SEA) 2G, 3A (T-Birds lead series 3-0)

Calgary's Mayor Says CalgaryNEXT Project is Dead

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The plan to build a new home for the Calgary Flames in the city’s West Village is “dead,” according to Calgary’s mayor.

Naheed Nenshi went on record on Monday evening, confirming the proposed hybrid arena-stadium-field house, called CalgaryNEXT, is not being considered by the City of Calgary.

“The thing about a new arena project – and I’ll use those terms because CalgaryNext, the West Village, is dead – but the thing about a new arena project is that our first criterion has always been public money for public benefits,” Nenshi said. “So, it really is up to the Calgary Sports and Entertainment [Corporation] to figure out what the public benefit is.”

A city report pegged the cost of CalgaryNEXT at $1.8 billion.

The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) also put forward a so-called Plan B which would see an arena and event centre located on the Stampede Grounds in Victoria Park, a separate fieldhouse in the city’s northwest near the University of Calgary, and some renovations done to McMahon Stadium.

“A potential site in Victoria Park makes way more sense,” Nenshi said. “Because those infrastructure investments, including the Green Line [LRT], are happening anyway.”

CSEC president and CEO Ken King told News Talk 770 he thought CalgaryNEXT had been paused, not killed.

“We’ve been working on a Victoria Park consideration,” he said. “The field house probably will get built someplace else, but I just thought we could solve a lot of problems with the one large project.”

(Global Calgary)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Another Big Night From Sam Steel Leads Pats To Game 3 Win in Calgary

Sam Steel's hat-trick paced the Regina Pats to a 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen in Game 3 of their best of 7 first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Pats now lead Calgary 3-0 and can wrap the series up Thursday night at the Saddledome.

Steel, who was named the CHL Player of the Week on Tuesday,  has 9 points in the first three games of the series and leads the WHL in playoff scoring. He also led the league in scoring during the regular season.

Regina Pats 5 at Calgary Hitmen 2

Regina 3 1 1 - 5
Calgary 0 0 2 - 2

1st Period-1, Regina, Steel 2 (Leedahl, Harrison), 1:02. 2, Regina, Steel 3 (Zborovskiy, Henry), 9:31. 3, Regina, Sloboshan 1 (Hobbs, Brown), 19:57 (PP). Penalties-Davidson Reg (boarding), 10:12; Kastelic Cgy (inter. on goaltender), 12:16; Kastelic Cgy (hooking), 18:39.

2nd Period-4, Regina, Leedahl 3 (Brooks, Hobbs), 16:59 (PP). Penalties-Brooks Reg (slashing), 1:09; Ahl Reg (holding), 9:08; Zipp Cgy (slashing), 15:44.

3rd Period-5, Regina, Steel 4   4:16 (SH). 6, Calgary, Gennaro 1 (Yeryomenko, Bean), 9:41 (PP). 7, Calgary, Coleman 1 (Gordon, Fyten), 16:42. Penalties-Hobbs Reg (slashing), 3:17; Gennaro Cgy (tripping), 6:45; Wagner Reg (slashing), 8:40; Zborovskiy Reg (slashing), 13:42; Hobbs Reg (roughing), 16:42; Fyten Cgy (high sticking), 16:42.

Shots on Goal-Regina 14-11-10-35. Calgary 10-16-17-43.
Power Play Opportunities-Regina 2 / 3; Calgary 1 / 6.
Goalies-Regina, Brown (43 shots-41 saves). Calgary, Dumba (35 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Reid Anderson (53), Chris Crich (20).
Linesmen-Chad Huseby (59), Jared Mackey (52).

Other WHL Playoff Scores

Eastern Conference

Moose Jaw 4 Swift Current 3 -  Thomas Foster (MJ) 2 goals.  (Warriors lead best of 7 series 2-1)
Medicine Hat 6 Brandon 2 - David Quenneville (MH) 1 goal, 3 assists (Tigers lead best of 7 series 3-0)

Western Conference 

Kamloops 4 Kelowna 1 - Lane Bauer (KAM) 2 goals.  (Rockets lead best of 7 series 2-1)
Everett 2 Victoria 0 - Carter Hart (EVT) 25 save shutout (Silvertips lead best of 7 series 2-1)

Agreement Reached To Sell Kootenay Ice

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Cranbrook, BC – Jeff Chynoweth, President and General Manager of the Kootenay ICE Hockey Club today announced the Chynoweth family, owners of the Edmonton and Kootenay ICE franchise since 1995, have entered into an agreement to sell the WHL team to Winnipeg entrepreneur Greg Fettes and hockey executive Matt Cockell. The transfer of ownership of the franchise is conditional upon the approval of the WHL Board of Governors. The WHL has scheduled a special in-person meeting on April 27 to review the new ownership application.

Matt Cockell, who will be relocating his family to Cranbrook, plans to take over the role of President and General Manager and will be responsible for all business and hockey operations of the Club. The new ownership group looks forward to a fresh start for the team and the City of Cranbrook. “Our family is looking forward to becoming an active community member, and we are excited to engage directly with some of the greatest fans in the entire Western Hockey League,” continued Cockell.

There will be no further comment on this matter until formal approval is granted by the WHL Board of Governors.

About Greg Fettes
With over 20 years entrepreneurial experience in sales, marketing and operations, Greg Fettes is the founder of 24-7 Intouch, a global customer service outsourcing company with over 8000 employees in 14 sites around the world including Canada, United States, Guatemala, Jamaica, and the Philippines. Greg provides the strategic direction for one of the fastest growing companies in North America, helping them think outside the box and disrupt a stagnant industry for some of the greatest tech, retail, and consumer brands in the world.

About Matt Cockell
In his previous role, Matt Cockell acted as Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, for True North Sports + Entertainment overseeing the development and growth of all business relationships with corporate partners. Cockell has over 17 years of hockey experience with Hockey Canada, the Brandon Wheat Kings, Winnipeg South Blues and Hockey Manitoba. Cockell was a member of Canada’s National Women’s Hockey Team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia that won a gold medal. He was also a member of the WHL Brandon Wheat Kings coaching staff that participated in the MasterCard Memorial Cup in 2010 and 2016. Cockell was selected in the fifth round (117th overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft and played three seasons in the WHL (1996-99) with the Saskatoon Blades, Seattle Thunderbirds, Regina Pats and Spokane Chiefs. Cockell also held the position of Chief Customer Officer at 24-7 Intouch, where he oversaw and lead the strategy and execution for all Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience functions. Utilizing his WHL Scholarship, Cockell graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2004 with an Honours degree in Marketing and Small Business Finance.

(Kootenay Ice)

Monday, March 27, 2017

NHL Three Stars Of Week

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 Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 26.


Kucherov posted 5-2—7 in three games, all multi-point performances, to lead the Lightning (36-29-9, 81 points) to a pair of victories and help the team remain within three points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. He collected 1-1—2 in a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes March 21. Kucherov then registered his third career hat trick, including his League-leading 16th and 17th power-play goals of the season, in 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins March 23. He closed the week with another 1-1—2 effort, highlighted by his second career overtime goal (also Jan. 9, 2016 at VAN), in a 2-1 triumph against the Detroit Red Wings March 24. The 23-year-old Maykop, Russia, native ranks second in the NHL with 38 goals and sixth with 78 points in 67 outings this season, both career highs.


Lehtonen went 3-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and one shutout to guide the Stars (31-33-11, 73 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He earned his 36th career shutout via 30 saves in a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks March 20. Lehtonen then made 24 stops in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks March 23, but bounced back with a pair of 20-save wins: in a 6-1 triumph over the Sharks March 24 and a 2-1 overtime victory against the New Jersey Devils March 26. The 33-year-old Helsinki, Finland, native owns a 20-22-7 record with a 2.79 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 54 appearances this season.


Getzlaf shared the League lead with seven assists in three games – all wins – to propel the Ducks (41-23-11, 93 points) into first place in the Pacific Division. He notched three helpers in a 4-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers March 22. Getzlaf then was held off the scoresheet in a 3-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets March 24, but responded with four assists – the eighth such performance of his career – in a 6-3 win against the New York Rangers March 26. The 31-year-old Regina, Sask., native ranks fourth in the NHL with 52 helpers in 68 contests this season (14-52—66), the seventh time he has reached the 50-assist milestone.

The Raiders Are Vegas Bound

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The Vegas Golden Knights have company!

NFL team owners voted to approve the Raiders' proposal to relocate to Las Vegas during the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix on Monday, The final tally to approve the move was 31-1,

The Raiders won't immediately move to Las Vegas since construction of their planned $1.7 billion domed stadium isn't expected to be completed until 2020. They will play this season at the Oakland Coliseum and have a contract option to play there again in 2018. After that, they likely will have to find a temporary venue to play in until their new stadium just off the Las Vegas strip is built.

Once they move, it will mark the franchise's third relocation since its inception in 1960.

It marks the third NFL team relocation in less than 14 months. The Rams moved from St. Louis back to Los Angeles last year and the Chargers announced their decision to move from San Diego to L.A. in January.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Something To "Mitch" About

14 MORE -  Am I surprised to see the Regina Pats going to Calgary with a 2-0 lead over the Hitmen in Round 1 of the WHL playoffs. Nope! I'm guessing most of you feel the same way too.  John Paddock's proteges shook off what I thought were a couple of tentative starts to beat Calgary 5-2 and 5-1 in front of sold out Brandt Centre crowds on the weekend,  Sold out crowds that had to be told by 620 CKRM's Brandon Basler to make noise and wave towels. Cmon people!!  It's OK to make some noise at the good old hockey game. Then again, you should be commended because you didn't do the wave!  I digress!

In the playoffs, your best players have to be your best players in the first two games that has happened as Adam Brooks controlled Game 1 and Sam Steel controlled Game 2.  Steel's performance, and yes you could say it on a nightly basis, just makes me shake my head as to why he wasn't a member of Team Canada at the World Juniors.  Kelly Remple tweeted Phil Andrews after Saturday's game saying it will be great watching Sam in Buffalo (the sight of 2018 World Jrs) at Christmas time. I had to ask if its a guarantee seeing he was snubbed this season before suggesting he have a chat with Warriors head coach Tim Hunter who will once again be an assistant to Dominic Ducharme at this year's event.  One would think Steel is an automatic, but who knows!

Back to the present,  Regina goes into Calgary looking to complete the sweep.  With all due respect to the Hitmen, I don't think I'll be seeing them on Sunday for a Game 5. A lot will have to go right for them at the Saddledome to make that happen.

One other thing, and it has been said before on this blog.

Pats photos Courtesy Keith Hershmiller

 What the Pats do for an intro is second to none as they salute their long-standing relationship with the military along with showing the young man skating from the Legislature to the Brandt Centre,   I don't know if Sportsnet is planning on doing any Pats playoff games from the Brandt as these playoffs go along, but if they do, I hope they show the opening ceremony from start to finish. As I said on Twitter on Saturday, if there is a better intro in junior hockey today in this country that is done on a nightly basis than I need to see it. The country needs to see it!   I have seen that intro countless times since it started, and it still captures my attention the moment it starts.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Was I the only one who thought the presentation of the regular season trophy before Game 1 was needed?   If I want to see Commissioner Ron Robison presenting a trophy to the Pats, it is at the end of the playoffs and not the start.  I had no problem with the banners being unveiled, but the presentation was something that could have angered the hockey gods. I don't think Bill Daly presents the NHL team that gets the most regular season points at the end of the regular season before the playoffs. Perhaps I'm just being a little nitpicky. I know of a couple others that felt the same way though as I patrolled the concourse in the intermissions of Game 1.

ALL TIME PATS FAVES -  A couple of posts below this one is a post on former Pat goalie Josh Harding and how life after hockey is going for him after his career was cut short due to MS.  If you haven't read it, go do so.  A couple of people came up to me at the games this weekend thanking me for putting that up, with one asking me where Josh ranks as I have said previously he is the best goalie I have ever seen wearing a Pats uniform. Please remember I was just a young lad attending my first ever games when Ed Staniowski was doing his thing. What a great question.  I had to think about it for a moment before concluding my favourite Pat all-time would be Jordan Eberle.  As I drove home Friday night, I started wondering about that and who my all-time faves are.  In no particular order,  Eberle, Harding, Rick Rypien, Dave Michayluk, Dale Derkatch, Josh Holden, Darren Veitch, Ron Flockhart are just a few.

CFL WEEK -  CFL Week is over, and as mentioned in Friday's column,  the league scored a touchdown. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they do this again next year in Regina, although several places may bend the league's ear to have it in their city.  It was great walking around Evraz Place chatting with the likes of Wayne Morsky, Craig Reynolds, Steve Bryce, Farhan Lalji and Justin Dunk.  Seeing the guys do their thing at the combine was outstanding. You watch the combine on the NFL Network and it can seem somewhat mundane, but when you see this guys live looking to do their best in front of peering eyes, it is something to watch.. The one on one battles between o-linemen and d-linemen were fantastic. and by all accounts the work done between the receivers and defensive backs was just as great with both Noah Picton and Asher Hastings throwing ropes.  I wonder if any of the 9 teams noticed those two guys. I certainly hope so!

As Regina Rams offensive lineman Jeremy Zver told me Saturday after he was done. "This is the ultimate job interview if you want to continue playing the game".  For Zver, he has exhausted his university eligibility so he had to show teams why he can play at the next level. He succeeded as did many others.

I don't know how many people went through Evraz Place, but I think some in the CFL were even surprised to see the level of activity.  Can things be done better if they do this again in Regina? Absolutely it can be, but that is the case with anything that is done in its infant year.  If the league wants to come back, and the Riders want to host it again, why not? One suggestion, and this is a minor one, but it is valid.  Perhaps push the event back from Tuesday to Saturday and make it Wednesday to Sunday. It allows for those from out of town to come in and enjoy.  I ran into a gentleman and his 8 year old boy Saturday afternoon who had come from Saskatoon not knowing the fan-fest ended at 3. They had gotten to EVRAZ Place at 12:45. Having the fan-fest go Saturday until 9 and Sunday until 3 would have been a lot more feasible. Again, its a lesson learned for next year no matter where it is held.  At the end of the day, a tremendous job was done by those in the CFL office. Can the momentum be kept up now until draft day which leads us basically to training camps. I hope so!

It was also good to get a couple of moments with Darian Durant Friday afternoon.. Before heading inside the Brandt Centre, I went over to his autograph session which you can imagine was very popular, Many of Darian's fans showed up to perhaps say one last goodbye.

I was hoping just to catch his attention to say hi, but he was gracious enough to stop what he was doing for a second or two and come over to shake my hand.  I wish him nothing but success in Montreal. Say what you will about him Rider Nation, but he was all class when he was here and he showed that until the end with a heartfelt message to fans when his autograph session was over.  Would this team have gotten to three Grey Cups without his efforts? Nope!  And that includes 2013!

Chris Jones got me thinking Saturday afternoon.  (This just in---I did wayyyyy too much thinking this weekend)

When speaking to the local media about the combine, Jones was asked what type of questions they ask potential players. He said one of the things they ask is "What's the first thing you think about when you open your eyes?". What a great question! Do you even think about that when you roll out of bed?  Jokingly, I say god, I made it through another night.  That is something we perhaps should all ask ourselves.

The event wrapped up with the Canada West passing showcase as the Rams, Huskies, Bisons and Golden Bears went at it with the U of S winning. It was great seeing the up and coming stars of Canada West perform as the event was limited to first and second year players in what was a no-contact 6 on 7 event.  The future looks great. By the way Saskatoon, if Mason Nyhus isn't on your radar yet, he will be soon. The kid was throwing darts around the Eventplex during the event.

--NEED FOR CHANGE? - With the NHL's Metropolitan Division having three 100 point teams in it with the chance of the Rangers making it a 4th, there is talk about wanting to change the NHL playoff structure yet again.  Does the NHL want to go down this road?  If they do, can we make it simple and then just have it 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5 in the first round and then go from there. I have no problem with the current playoff format, but admittedly 1 vs 8 might be better.  Remember, when it was 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, etc etc in the first round. I would love to see that happen again, but it won't.  I say just leave it alone.  In the end, we will see the two best teams fighting it out for the Cup which is what we want.  Looking at the standings in both conferences, what a final two weeks we are in for.  I think Chicago is home and cooled as far as first in the Central goes, but the other three divisions are wide open.   It's a three way battle for first in the Metropolitan, and a three way battle for first in the Pacific with Calgary trying to make it a 4 way race.  The Islanders, Tampa and Carolina are trying to get a late surge to get an Eastern Conference wildcard spot while the Western spots seem to be taken care of. Once again, there can't be any clear Stanley Cup favourite. Isn't that what we want as fans?

--THE MADNESS CONTINUES  -  The NCAA mens basketball tournament is one of my favourite events of the year.   The emotion and passion can't be matched at times.  This weekend, Florida and Wisconsin had a classic as did North Carolina and Kentucky.  It just doesn't get any better than that.
How is my bracket going into the final 4. Pretty damn good if you ask me, especially on the right hand side.

 QUEEN RACHEL -  Canada is back atop the womens curling ladder thanks to Rachel Homan. What a week for her Ottawa crew in Beijing as they rolled through the world championship with a perfect record capping it off beating Russia in the final.  Its Canada's first gold at the event since Jennifer Jones in 2008.  It also tells me the only person who could beat Homan this winter was Regina's own Michelle Englot. She did it twice at the Scotties before dropping the final. Tells you just how good Michelle's rink was doesn't it!

That's all I got. Have a great week! 

WHL Playoffs Sunday Recap

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Lethbridge 5 Red Deer 2 --Igor Babenko (Leth) 3 goals    (Best of 7 series tied at 1) 


Prince George 5 Portland 2  -- Aaron Boyd (PG) 2 goals (Best of 7 series tied at 1) 

Jordan Eberle Reflects on NHL Career After Playing Game 500

If you ask Jordan Eberle, the first NHL playoff game he ever suits up for next month will mean a whole lot more than the 500th league game he played Saturday night against Colorado Avalanche.
But 500 is still 500, and only 20 Edmonton Oilers players in all of history can say they’ve played that many.

To put that in perspective, Paul Coffey only played 532 before he was traded to Pittsburgh. Esa Tikkanen played 522 in two different stints here.

Eberle’s played more Oilers league games than Sam Gagner and Georges Laraque, Dave Semenko and Bill Ranford. So, yeah, it means something for an organization that’s closing in 40 NHL years.
Eberle, who went into Saturday’s game with 27 points in 28 career games against the Avalanche, waxed philosophical as he tried to digest being about to reach 500 Saturday morning after practice.

“There’s been some long years,” he said. . “I’ve been here the whole time and it’s gone by quick.
“But the thing I’m most excited for is a playoff game. Took this much time to hopefully get into the post-season.”

Five hundred is a nice round figure, though no matter how you look at it, even if Eberle is keeping it in perspective.

“It’s obviously an accomplishment but it’s taken this long to get to the playoffs. What did Jaromir Jagr get the other day, 1,700 games? I’ve got a while to go” he said.

There have been far too many struggles than highlights for Eberle with the Oilers.

“The first six years really, with the exception of the lockout year, you get into this thing – probably what Colorado’s going through – where you’re out of it and you’re really just playing for pride and the season can be pretty long when it’s not going right,” he said.

“This season, just to have a taste of winning, it makes you excited for the years to come.”

Eberle’s first NHL game Oct. 7, 2010 against Calgary was one for the ages. He scored his first NHL goal on arguably the highlight-reel play of the season. Busting past defenceman Ian White with a great toe-drag, Eberle deked goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and threw a backhand up under the crossbar. A dream-like sequence of steps in the Oilers’ 4-0 victory.

“Exciting game, Hockey Night in Canada, but the best thing was having my family there to experience it with me. It was awesome. You always say, you’ll take your first NHL goal off your skate but it just worked out the way it did,” said Eberle.

Lots of NHLers were lucky enough to play 10 games or 25, but Eberle’s hit 500.

“You look at the Oilers and you’re around these hall of famers and icons a lot. Growing up, too, the alumni in the NHL is so good talking to the younger guys. I remember playing junior in Regina and running into Mike Sillinger (formerly of Oilers player development ) who kind of took me under his wing,” said Eberle. “He always told me it’s hard to make the NHL and harder to stay. That’s always stuck with me, especially now with all these young guys coming in”

Sillinger played on a slew of NHL teams though, not the one Eberle’s been on.

“Yeah, I think he’s got the record, 13 or 14 teams,” said Eberle, who was just off of the dozen teams Sillinger played on through trades or signings. “I’ve seen his silver stick for his 1,000 NHL games and there’s a lot of different teams on there. That’s a testament to him, though, on how many different teams wanted him and what a likeable guy he was. But we’ve definitely had different career paths for sure.

“I still remember my first shift, it was against Jarome Iginla. Shawn Horcoff and I were lined up against him. I think back and I’m lining up against guys like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin too and you’re kind of star-struck. But it changes quickly.”
Eberle looks at his goals and assists and points, along with the games now that he’s hit 500. But also the guys behind the bench.

“Yeah, I might have the (team) record for coaches: Tom Renney, Ralph (Krueger), Dallas (Eakins), Todd (Nelson), Todd (McLellan) and I guess MacT (Craig MacTavish). I was at camp when Pat (Quinn) was here too but didn’t play for him,” said Eberle.“It hasn’t been the easiest 500 games for sure but now I’m starting to get a taste (of playoffs).

“I know if I line up for my first playoff game, It’ll be a weight off my shoulders. TSN always has this feature about players who’ve gone so long with no playoff games. Now, I won’t be in there. That’ll be nice.”

(Jim Matheson/Edmonton Journal)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pats Up 2-0 On Hitmen

It was almost a carbon copy of Game 1,  The Regina Pats looked tentative off the opening puck drop, but once they got their skates underneath them, there was nothing the Calgary Hitmen could do.

Sam Steel had a goal and 4 assists while Dawson Leedahl had a pair in Regina's 5-1 victory to take a 2-0 lead in the best of 7.

Game 3 goes in Calgary Tuesday with Game 4 on Wednesday.  If Calgary can win one of those two, Game 5 will go in Regina Sunday April 2 at 4:00

Calgary Hitmen 1 at Regina Pats 5 - Status: Final
Saturday, March 25, 2017 - Brandt Centre - Regina, SK

Calgary 0 1 0 - 1
Regina 1 2 2 - 5

1st Period-1, Regina, Leedahl 1 (Steel, Mahura), 11:44. Penalties-Leedahl Reg (boarding), 3:24; Brooks Reg (interference), 7:52.

2nd Period-2, Calgary, Fyten 1 (Mrkonjic), 2:16. 3, Regina, Brooks 3 (Hobbs, Steel), 4:17 (PP). 4, Regina, Leedahl 2 (Steel, Zborovskiy), 9:38. Penalties-Gennaro Cgy (hooking), 3:11; Fyten Cgy (hooking), 3:34; Kastelic Cgy (cross checking, cross checking), 9:14; Buziak Reg (inter. on goaltender, roughing), 9:14; Wagner Reg (slashing), 10:33; Ahl Reg (roughing), 12:57; Wagner Reg (inter. on goaltender), 12:57.

3rd Period-5, Regina, Henry 1 (Steel, Leedahl), 7:26. 6, Regina, Steel 1 (Hobbs), 17:00 (EN). Penalties-Fyten Cgy (slashing), 18:19.

Shots on Goal-Calgary 11-11-5-27. Regina 14-12-13-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Calgary 0 / 4; Regina 1 / 3.
Goalies-Calgary, Porter (38 shots-34 saves). Regina, Brown (27 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Fraser Lawrence (10), Kyle Kowalski (15).
Linesmen-Sean Dufour (50), Tarrington Wyonzek (137).

Other WHL Playoff Scores


Moose Jaw 3 Swift Current 2  -- Brayden Burke (MJ)  GWG  w/4:11 to go in 3rd. (Best of 7 Series tied at 1)
Medicine Hat 5 Brandon 3 -- John Dahlstrom (MH) 2 goals (MH leads best of 7 2-0)
Red Deer 4 Lethbridge 2 -- GWG w/1:57 to go in 3rd (RD leads best of 7 1-0)


Victoria 4 Everett 3  -- Tyler Soy (Vic) 2 goals  (Best of 7 series tied at 1)
Kelowna 3 Kamloops 2 --  Dillon Dube (Kel) 2 goals  (Kelowna leads best of 7 2-0)
Seattle 5  Tri Cities 2  -- Aaron Hyman (Sea) 1 G 1 A (Seattle leads best of 7 2-0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Captain Comes Through In Game 1

The WHL playoffs are underway and it was a nerve-wracking 30 plus minutes for the Regina Pats and a sold-out crowd at the Brandt Centre.

The Calgary Hitmen stayed stride for stride with the Pats and scored the first goal of the series when Jake Kryski beat Tyler Brown on the power-play at the 10:50 mark of the 2nd period.  Regina responded with a power-play goal of their own courtesy Josh Mahura at 16:28 setting the stage for Brooks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick deftly converted a Filip Ahl pass into the net to make it 2-1 4 and a half minutes into the 3rd and then added another under two minutes later as Regina took Game 1 by a score of 5-2.

The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 6484--the Pats 15th sellout of the season.

Game 2 will go tomorrow at the Brandt Centre starting at 7. Phil Andrews will have the radio call on 620 CKRM starting with the pre-game show at 6:35 while those with Access can watch the TV broadcast with Rod Pedersen starting at 7.


Calgary Hitmen 2 at Regina Pats 5 - Status: Final
Friday, March 24, 2017 - Brandt Centre - Regina, SK

Calgary 0 1 1 - 2
Regina 0 1 4 - 5

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Reagan Cgy (cross checking), 11:01.

2nd Period-1, Calgary, Kryski 1 (Bean, Stukel), 10:50 (PP). 2, Regina, Mahura 1 (Brooks, Hobbs), 16:28 (PP). Penalties-Mahura Reg (hooking), 9:55; Fyten Cgy (interference), 15:03.

3rd Period-3, Regina, Brooks 1 (Ahl, Hobbs), 4:25. 4, Regina, Brooks 2 (Ahl), 6:03. 5, Calgary, Kryski 2 (Mrkonjic, Reagan), 9:04. 6, Regina, Lockner 1 (Steel), 14:14. 7, Regina, Wagner 1 (Brooks), 16:59 (SH). Penalties-Hobbs Reg (holding), 10:50; Leedahl Reg (tripping), 16:27.

Shots on Goal-Calgary 2-9-11-22. Regina 9-11-12-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Calgary 1 / 3; Regina 1 / 2.
Goalies-Calgary, Porter (32 shots-27 saves). Regina, Brown (22 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Kyle Scrivens (77), Reagan Vetter (39).
Linesmen-Kelsey Mahoney (138), Devan Thiessen (94).


Other WHL Playoff Scores

Eastern Conference

Swift Current 2 Moose Jaw 0   --  Jordan Papirny (SC) 40 saves (Broncos lead 1-0)
Medicine Hat 7  Brandon 2  -- Mark Rassell (MH) 3 goals  (Tigers lead 1-0)

Western Conference

Portland 4 Prince George 2 -- Keegan Iverson (Port) GWG (Winterhawks lead 1-0)
Kelowna 4 Kamloops 0 --  Rockets outshoot Blazers 48-15 (Rockets lead 1-0)
Seattle 4 Tri-Cities 2  -- Keegan Kolesar (SEA) 2 goals 1 assist  (T-Birds lead 1-0)
Everett 4 Victoria 2 -- Patrick Bajkov (EVT) 2 goals 1 assist  (Silvertips lad 1-0)

Josh Harding Happy After Hockey

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Former Pats goalie Josh Harding had to cut his NHL career short after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

The Regina native is doing quite well though as evidenced by this story from the Minnesota Wild. 

The Pats Playoff Road Begins Tonight

The Regina Pats (52-12-7-1) kick off the 2017 WHL Playoffs tonight, at home to the Calgary Hitmen (30-32-8-2). Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. The Pats wrapped up the regular season on Saturday in Brandon with an eighth straight win, 6-0 over the Wheat Kings. The Hitmen won their last two games of the regular season against the Kootenay ICE. The Pats went 3-1-0-0 against Calgary during their regular season series. The game can be heard on 620 CKRM with Bennett Dunlop Ford Pats Hockey beginning at 6:35 p.m. The game will also be broadcast on Access 7.

Lead Up: Pats Win 8th in a Row Saturday
The Regina Pats closed the 2016-17 season with a 6-0 win in Brandon over the Wheat Kings on Saturday night. The Pats got a 34 save shutout from Jordan Hollett while Adam Brooks led the offence with a goal and two assists. The Pats led 1-0 after 1, 4-0 after two and 6-0 at the end of the contest. Regina finishes the year on an eight game winning streak and a 52-12-7-1 record. Regina outshot the Wheat Kings 44-34 in the win, the powerplay was oh for one and the penalty kill seven for seven.

Head to Head
The Pats went 3-1-0-0 against Calgary in their four game regular season series. The Pats scored 19 goals in the four games to the Hitmen’s 13. Regina was six for 17 on the powerplay and the penalty kill 17 for 20. The Pats outshot the Hitmen 138-125 in the four games. Sam Steel scored seven goals and added five assists against Calgary. Connor Hobbs recorded eight points, Adam Brooks seven and Nick Henry and Dawson Leedhal each had six. Goaltender Tyler Brown was 2-0-0-0 with a 0.99 G.A.A., a .965 save percentage and one shutout. The Hitmen were led by Jake Bean, Matteo Gennaro and Luke Coleman who put up five points against the Pats. Three others had three points in the four meetings.

Franchise Record
Pats defenceman and Washington Capitals prospect Connor Hobbs set a franchise record for goals in a season by a defenceman in the final game of the regular season. Hobbs recorded his 31st goal of the campaign in the club’s 6-0 win over Brandon on Saturday. The previous record of 30 goals was held by John Miner from the 1984-85 season. Hobbs led all WHL defenceman in goals (31) and points (85).

WHL Awards
Five members of the Pats organization were among the WHL’s All-Stars and Conference Awards announced on Wednesday. Head Coach and GM John Paddock was named the Eastern Conference Executive and Head Coach of the Year. Sam Steel, who won the Bob Clarke Trophy as the league’s leading scorer, is the Eastern Conference Player of the Year, Steel was also named a First Team All-Star. Connor Hobbs was named the Eastern Conference Defenceman of the Year as well as a First Team All-Star. Forward Adam Brooks, who finished a point behind Steel in the WHL scoring race with 130, was also a First Team All-Star in the East. Finally defenceman Sergey Zborovskiy, who led the league at plus 72, was named a Second Team All-Star.

Upcoming Schedule
Game 2, Pats Vs Calgary – Saturday March 25, 7 p.m. – Brandt Centre (CKRM)
Game 3, Pats @ Calgary – Tuesday March 28, 7 p.m. – Scotiabank Saddledome (CKRM)
Game 4, Pats @ Calgary – Thursday March 30, 7 p.m. – Scotiabank Saddledome (CKRM)

(Phil Andrews/Regina Pats)

This And That

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

--The CFL has scored a touchdown! The lead-up to CFL Week may not have been the best, but the CFL has done a tremendous job this week with everything that has been going on over at EVRAZ Place.  It has been fantastic, and as one fan said to me on Thursday while I was touring through Fanfest, they should have this here every year. I don't know if that would happen, but I wouldn't complain, Good job CFL!

I don't know if the fans are enjoying this more or if the players are,  They have conducted many informal interviews with members of the media from across the country who have come. They have had a chance to socialize with one another in an environment where they can relax and not prepare for a game and have some fun they might not otherwise have when visiting Regina.  As for the fans, they are loving it and why wouldn't they.

Gainer is having fun, but does he realize whose neck he is squeezing. Riders chair Wayne Morsky could have him digging holes in Grand Coulee if he doesn't smarten up! Somehow, I don't think Wayne minds. Like everyone else, he's loving what has been happening at Evraz Place. 

While the players are enjoying it, Darian Durant may be enduring it.  It doesn't look right seeing him in the colours of the Alouettes and I am sure it is uncomfortable for Durant to be in Regina not wearing green-and-white. You can tell by listening to him that his heart is still in Regina. It will probably be that way until he heads to training camp, and it may never ever leave.  I think the same can be said for Weston Dressler.  He's had his  year away from it, but Darian hasn't.  You have to wonder if at some time those two have spoken about what could have been here,  They arguably could have ended up as the greatest passer-receiver combo in Riders history,

--Congrats to former U of S Huskies football coach Brian Towriss for getting named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. That didn't take long!

--Congrats to former Rider Tyron Brackenridge who has joined Marc Trestman's coaching staff in Toronto. I get the feeling Brackenridge could join the likes of guys like Orlando Steinhauer, Barron Miles and Mark Washington as former CFL players who are going to go a long way in this league as a coach.

--The CFL love gets put on hold tonight as the Regina Pats start what will be hopefully a long playoff road as they take on the Calgary Hitmen to start the WHL playoffs. Playoffs are a different animal, and things can change from shift to shift.  There's no reason to think Regina won't skate to 4 or a 5 game win, but in the playoffs anything, and I mean anything can happen and we all know that!

--The Portland Winterhawks won 40 games this year and it was only good enough for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. There is going to be some great hockey played across the mountain during these playoffs.

--The player who delivered a blind side elbow to former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth during an Alberta senior league game leaving him with a concussion was handed a 16 game suspension this week.  I am guessing if this similar incident had occurred in the NHL, the guilty party would have had about 2 or 3 games. Would I be right NHL player safety?

--Would NHL player safety even consider calling Sidney Crosby? The Penguins captain left Ottawa's Marc Methot with a dangling finger after a two handed slash on Thursday. It was dirty. The slash shattered Methot's finger and he will be out for weeks. Should the NHL suspend Sid? Would the NHL suspend Sid? If it was Chris Neil doing that to Evgeni Malkin or Milan Lucic doing it to Nathan McKinnon, there would be a suspension. Your move NHL! Do you want to open this can of worms or not?

--Some in Edmonton believe Oilers goalie Cam Talbot is making a late run at being a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.  Is he? He has had a solid year, but he isn't one of the top 3 tenders in the league as far as I am concerned.  That would go to the trio of Bobrovsky, Dubnyk and Holtby.

--A massive investigation led to the discovery of Tom Brady's Super Bowl winning jersey in Mexico.  The FBI were involved in this.  The FBI? Local law enforcement is left to deal with missing persons and other more serious matters, but damn it when a Super Bowl winning jersey goes missing, the FBI is brought in.  I can't be the only one shaking my head on that one!  By the way, does this enhance Trump's argument to build a wall?

--The University of Regina's athletic review is out.  That's about all you can really say on it.  Let's just say I weeded through 21 pages expecting more. Did I miss a page or two?  The one thing that did stand out besides a new AD needs to be hired to replace Dick White is Cougar Athletics needs a re-brand. Yes, it does. I hope the U of R even after losing some money in the provincial budget can find the right amount of cash to do a proper job of marketing. I think a limited budget in that area hurts them a lot.  There are good people, and good athletes at the U of R who deserve more than they get.  I am also guessing there are many businesses in our fair city who would like to throw some dollars the U of R's way, but they don't get a call for whatever reason.

 --That's all I got. Enjoy your weekend. Get down to Evraz Place and take in some of CFL Week while catching the Pats in a sports weekend we haven't seen like this around here in a long time.  Maybe even go check out "Hoopla" if you can!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Heavy Regina Rams Presence at Mark's CFL Week

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A total of 37 University of Regina Rams players will be participating in various segments of the first annual CFL Week being held this week at Evraz Place in Regina.

The list of participating Rams includes slotback Mitchell Picton and offensive lineman Jeremy Zver, who have both been invited to the CFL Combine to be held on Friday and Saturday. Picton was named a first-team All-Canadian this past season, while Zver started all nine games at left tackle for the Rams in his final season of U SPORTS eligibility.

“I’m very excited that the Rams are heavily ingrained in the first ever CFL Week happening in Regina,” Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. “We are involved in many of the facets of the week, including coaching, players participating in the combine, and volunteers. We’ve reached out to assist in any way possible to help make this week a tremendous success.”

The Rams also have six players in Thursday’s CFL Western Regional Combine, each hoping to gain an invitation to join Picton and Zver in the national combine. Wide receiver Andrew Bennett, offensive lineman Matt Degelman, linebacker Zack McEachern, defensive lineman Bryce McKinnon, defensive back Jeff Propp, and linebacker Michael Stefanovic will all participate on Thursday, while the Rams coaching staff will also get involved – they’ll run the position-specific drills at the regional combine.

Three Rams quarterbacks will also serve as throwers in the combines. Seb Britton, Noah Picton, and Tyler Vieira will all throw at the regional combine on Thursday, while Picton will also throw at the national combine.

CFL Week will also feature the Canada West Passing Showcase, a 7-on-8 non-contact tournament for players completing their first or second seasons of U SPORTS eligibility. On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams will showcase quarterback Seb Britton, running backs Scott Jones, Sam Varao, and Brayden Wagg, and receivers Colton Friesen, Kyle Moortgat, Adam Rask, Ryan Schienbein, Daniel Scraper, Michael Scraper, Josh Tipton, and Tanner Zaharia. The defensive roster features linebackers Aidan Anderson, Brody Dirk, Kaiden Jones, Marcus Kuling, and Alex Rorke along with defensive backs Cord Delinte, Dilan Elgert, Royce Hanna, Polis Koko, Liam Lerat, Braedy Will, and Luke Wilson.

The Rams will play three games on Friday night, taking on Saskatchewan at 4:30 before meeting Manitoba (5:25) and Alberta (7:15). The playoff round for the four-team Canada West Passing Showcase will take place on Saturday morning.

A total of five Rams will also volunteer as guest coaches for CFL Flag Football. Kuling, Rask, Blake Anaka, Eric Eads, and Jack Loisdort will all coach at the clinic, which will be held on Thursday night.

(Braden Konschuh/U of R Athletics) 

A-C Going To the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as is Geroy Simon & Brian Towriss

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum’s stellar Class of 2017 features the Canadian Football League running back with the most consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, the game’s leading passer, one of its top tacklers, its all-time leading receiver, an Alberta football stalwart and a legendary university coach from Saskatchewan.

“Every class is special and this one is exemplary,” said Mark DeNobile, Executive Director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum (CFHOF), as he officially announced the names of this year’s inductees at a celebration event at the new Mosaic Stadium.

“The Inductees are Kelvin Anderson, Anthony Calvillo, Mike O’Shea and Geroy Simon in the player category. In the Builder category, long time administrator Stan Schwartz and recently retired Coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Brian Towriss have been selected.”

The introduction of the class is one of the highlights of Mark’s CFL Week, a new series of signature events that celebrate Canadian football and herald the approach of the upcoming Canadian Football League season, which kicks off this June. Formal induction ceremonies for this year’s CFHOF class will be held later this year, at the Hall of Fame game in Hamilton on September15th and during the week prior to the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw in Ottawa.

Here’s a closer look at its members:


Kelvin Anderson played for the Calgary Stampeders from 1996 to 2002 and joined the BC Lions for his final season in 2003. He was a CFL Rookie of the Year, a three-time CFL All-Star (1998, 1999 and 2001), and the West Division’s leading rusher four times (1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001). He was a league finalist for Outstanding Player in 1998 and 2001. He ranks first on the All-Time CFL list for consecutive 1,000 yard seasons with eight. Anderson also ranks first on the Calgary Stampeders’ All-Time list for carries, 1,000 yard seasons and consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.


Anthony Calvillo played for three teams (Las Vegas Posse, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the Montreal Alouettes) during his 20-year career as quarterback in the CFL. He was a Grey Cup Champion three times during his career in 2002, 2009 and 2010, all with Montreal. Calvillo was a ten-time Eastern All-Star, a five-time CFL All-Star and a six-time CFLPA All-Star. Calvillo was the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player seven times and the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player three times (2003, 2008 and 2009). In 2002, he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Grey Cup. He threw for 79,816 yards, making him the CFL’s - and pro football’s - all-time leading passer.


Mike O’Shea played in the CFL for 16 seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts. He was Rookie of the Year in 1993, a CFL All-Star Linebacker in 1999, and won the John Candy Memorial Award (given to the Toronto Argonaut Player of the Year) in 1999. He ranks second on the All-Time CFL List for defensive tackles with 1,151, seventh on the All-Time CFL List for special team teams with 169, and second on the All-Time Toronto Argonaut List for Most Games Played with 205. To that impressive total he added 22 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and 30 quarterback sacks. O’Shea is a three-time Grey Cup Champion (1996, 1997 and 2004).


Stan Schwartz has been part of Canadian football for five decades, dedicating himself to the Calgary Stampeders, the CFL and the game at various levels. He began his involvement in the 1970’s as the defensive coordinator for the Calgary Mohawks junior team and joined the Stampeders in 1976 where he served as assistant coach. He was the Calgary Stampeders’ President for eight years, starting in 1996. During his tenure, the Stampeders reached the Grey Cup three times and captured the trophy in 1998 and 2001. Schwartz was inducted into the Calgary Bantam Football Wall of Fame in 2003 and into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 2005. He was awarded the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award in 2009 in recognition of his contributions to the CFL.


Geroy Simon’s 15-year CFL career brought him to three teams: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1999-2000), the BC Lions (2001-2012) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2013). A six-time CFL All-Star (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011), Simon appeared in four Grey Cup games and is a three-time Grey Cup Champion (2006, 2011 and 2013). In 2006, he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player. He had 63 100-yard games and three 200-yard games. Simon is the CFL’s All-Time leading receiver with 16,352 receiving yards and 1,029 receptions.


A former defensive tackle for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Brian Towriss coached at his alma mater for 37 years. Joining the Huskies as an assistant coach in 1979, he served as Head Coach from 1984 to 2016, when he retired. Towriss led his team to nine Vanier Cup appearances (1989, 1990, 1994, 1996,1998, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006) and three national championships (1990, 1996, and 1998). He was the CIS Coach of the Year in 1994. During his tenure, Towriss coached 71 All-Canadians and had 47 players join the CFL and one go on to have a career in the NFL.

“I would like to thank the Selection Committee for their commitment and dedication in selecting a truly excellent Canadian Football Hall of Fame class. This is the fifth class selected under the new terms of reference under which we recognize all levels of football in Canada. We are very pleased to see significant representation in the 2017 class,” said Mark DeNobile.

“On behalf of the CFL, our Board of Governors and our fans, congratulations to this year’s inductees on this great honour,” said CFL Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge. “Every one of these gentlemen had a tremendous impact on the growth of football in our country, and for that we are forever indebted to them. Thank you to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Selection Committee for helping us all recognize dedication and greatness.”

The new inductees will bring the total number of Hall of Fame members to 289 in the Hall’s Zone of Champions, which features busts of each member of the Hall, and which will be relocated to Tim Hortons Field in 2017.

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum operates as a non-profit registered charity. Located in Hamilton, Ontario since 1963, it is home to more than 80,000 Canadian football artifacts, ranging from equipment and trophies to photos and videos.


CFL Rules Committee Recommending Changes

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 The Canadian Football League’s rules committee is proposing changing some rules and procedures around coaches’ challenges to improve the flow of the game and improve the fan experience.

“These measures would, in some instances, speed up when a coach issues a challenge, alter what he can challenge, and ensure more video reviews occur during commercial timeouts instead of on top of them,” said Glen Johnson, senior vice-president of football for the CFL and chair of the league’s rules committee.

“Finding the right balance between using technology to help officiate the game and protecting the flow of the game is a challenge facing all sports and leagues including the CFL. We are tackling that challenge with the best possible fan experience, in stadium and on broadcast, as a top priority.”

Specifically, a coach would no longer be allowed to challenge a play following a TV commercial timeout.

If the change is approved, a coach would have to throw his challenge flag within the first 30 seconds of the TV break.

Currently, where there is a TV timeout on the field, a coach can wait the entire duration of a break before deciding to challenge, as long as he does so before the next snap. The result can be a two-minute commercial break followed by a 90 second challenge, hampering the flow of the game.

The committee is also suggesting limiting the types of actions challengeable under Roughing the Passer to the pure definition of Rule 7.2.4. on page 56 of the CFL Rulebook, which applies to when a quarterback is in the act of passing or potentially passing the ball, and when the quarterback slides feet-first across the line of scrimmage.

Other unnecessary roughness penalties that may occur against the passer behind the line of scrimmage, such as grabbing the facemask or horse collar tackles, would no longer be challengeable.

As well, actions that occur when the quarterback is across the line of scrimmage running with the ball, a quarterback sneak and dead ball fouls on the quarterback would no longer be challengeable.

The committee believes this will reduce the number of challenges while still ensuring the quarterback is protected when in the act of passing or potentially passing he ball, the original intent of making roughing the passer reviewable.

It is also recommending retaining a rule change made at midseason least year, which put a timeout at risk for every coach challenge that is incorrect. The committee is also proposing that the replay official only a change a call where there is clear and indisputable evidence that it is wrong, rather than attempt to officiate plays to ensure they are correct.

Members believe these two combined measures, in place for a full season, will discourage coaches from using their challenges, especially as they put timeouts at risk. They estimate this can reduce the number of challenges by 20% or more while still allowing coaches to challenge big plays that have a material impact on the game.

Finally, TSN will go to commercial on every challenge it can. It’s estimated that 80% of challenges will now be done during a commercial, up from 20% last season. That will significantly reduce unnecessary stoppages in the game and improve the fan experience both in stadium and on broadcast.

The committee has also recommended increasing the duties of the video official in the Command Centre so they can correct errors when:

When a flag has been thrown for a line of scrimmage penalty (offside or procedure)
When a flag has been thrown for an unnecessary roughness penalty following a play and the video official sees other unnecessary roughness infractions
When a call for illegal contact on a receiver should be changed to defensive pass interference because the ball had been thrown

To further promote player safety, the committee wants to change all 10-yard illegal low block penalties to 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalties. The committee recognized the importance of signaling that such dangerous blocks have no place in the game.

The committee wants to prevent the return team on a kicking play from putting a player on the field a split second prior to the snap and trying to hide him so he can receive a lateral pass from the kick returner.

This sort of “sleeper play” would be subject to a 10-yard penalty.

All rules committee recommendations must be reviewed by the league’s competition committee and ultimately approved by its Board of Governors before they go into effect.

The rules committee includes representatives from every club, the Canadian Football League Players’ Association, the Canadian Professional Football Officials’ Association and the CFL.