Tuesday, 7 April 2020

2017-18 Humboldt Broncos still bring out best in humanity

The Elgar Petersen Arena set for a vigil on April 8, 2018.
    The tributes came in early and often over social media lines on Monday for a team seemingly everyone still takes to heart.
    Monday marked the second anniversary of the tragic bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior A hockey team on April 6, 2018. 
    The bus carrying the Broncos, who are one of Canadas most storied junior A teams, was traveling to Nipawin to play a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game, and it collided with a semi-truck just north of Tisdale.
    The crash resulted in the deaths of 10 Broncos players including captain Logan Schatz, Logan Boulet, Adam Herold, Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Jacob Leicht, Conner Lukan, Evan Thomas, Parker Tobin and Stephen Wack.
    Head coach and general manager Darcy Haugen, assistant coach Mark Cross, play-by-play voice Tyler Bieber, stats expert Brody Hinz, athletic therapist Dayna Brons and bus driver Glen Doerksen were all among the total of 16 people who were killed.
A Saskatchewan farm yard display supporting the Broncos in April of 2018.
    The 13 survivors in players Graysen Cameron, Brayden Camrud, Kaleb Dahlgren, Bryce Fiske, Xavier LaBelle, Matthieu Gomercic, Derek Patter, Nick Shumlanski, Tyler Smith, Ryan Straschnitzki, Jacob Wassermann, Layne Matechuk and Morgan Gobeil have all ventured on in life with various physical injuries and emotional battles.
    Camrud and Patter were in the Broncos lineup when they opened the 2018-19 SJHL regular season on home ice at the Elgar Petersen Arena falling 2-1 to the Hawks.
    In the months after the crash, support poured in for the Broncos from seemingly everywhere including the province of Saskatchewan, the rest of Canada and the entire world.
    A GoFundMe campaign for Broncos players and staffers raised over $15.1-million with donations coming from over 141,900 individuals and entities in just under two weeks.
    It is crazy to think Humboldt residents Sylvie Kellington and Caitlin Hergott originally had the small goal of raising funds to cover parking costs for the families visiting hospitals with the GoFundMe campaign.
    Their efforts became the largest GoFundMe campaign ever in Canada and is still the fourth largest in the world.
A Swift Current fan with a Humboldt Broncos support sign in April of 2018.
    In Canada, the Broncos bus crash became one of those “where were you when” moments, because at the time it happened, no one wanted to believe it was true.
    In a lot of ways, it became the ultimate one degree of separation moment, because it seemed like everyone interacted with someone who was a family member or had a personal connection with the 29 individuals on the bus.
    In Swift Current, the Humboldt Broncos bus crash took on extra meaning. The WHL’s Swift Current Broncos suffered through a single-vehicle team bus crash on December 30, 1986 resulting the deaths of players Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff.
    The Swift Current bus flew off the highway having hit a patch of black ice shortly after leaving town on route to a road game in Regina to play the Pats.
    In April and May of 2018, the sticks were out for Humboldt at the Swift Current Broncos bus crash memorial. Inside of Swift Current and the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex during playoff games for the WHL’s Broncos, you didn’t have to look far to see a sign of support for Humboldt.
    The WHL’s Broncos would win the WHL title in May of 2018. In the season the WHL Broncos had their bus accident in 1986-87, the Humboldt Broncos captured the SJHL title.
    At the moment, the current day hasn’t been the greatest of times for the world. 
#SticksOutForHumboldt at the Swift Current Broncos bus crash memorial.
    The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has a number of countries in the world including Canada observing lockdown measures.
    At the time this post went live, over 81,000 people in the world and 375 individuals in Canada have died due to complications related to COVID-19.
    In Canada and the United States, shutdowns started to happen on March 11, when the NBA elected to postpone play causing a series of dominoes of postponements, cancellations and shutdowns to follow.
    For about four weeks now, the population of the world has been bombarded with anxiety inducing news regarding COVID-19.
    As strange as it sounds, it seemed like a ray of light to turn on the social media accounts on Monday morning and see tributes posted from various people and entities for the 2017-18 SJHL Broncos team. There were pictures of people once again leaving their sticks outside their doors for the Broncos players who have passed on to use.
    People are still holding those that were part of that Broncos team close to their hearts.
    A few of the surviving Broncos players posted gracious notes as well thanking the support they received throughout the world and noting they still miss their buds who passed away in that crash. A number of parents of Broncos players posted heartwarming notes too.
A Humboldt Broncos tribute jersey and puck from 2018.
    Tuesday is “Green Shirt Day” for organ donor awareness and registration in honour of the “Logan Boulet Effect.” Boulet, who was one of the players that passed in the Broncos bus crash, wanted his organs donated if he passed away, and his actions resulted in six lives being saved.
    Boulet succumbed to his injuries and passed away on April 7, 2018.
    As news of Boulet’s actions spread, over 100,000 people signed their organ donor cards in the days and weeks that followed.
    Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, the hashtag phrases of #SticksOutForHumboldt, #HumboldtStrong, #BroncosStrong and #LoganBouletAffect were shown to be alive and meaningful.
    Even as time passes, that Broncos team from that tragic bus crash in early April of 2018 is still bringing out the best in humanity.

CFL postpones start of regular season, other notes

CFL action has been put on hold until at least the start of July.
    The CFL is still hoping to play a full regular season, but its start has been postponed until the beginning of July.
    On Tuesday, the CFL released a statement from commissioner Randy Ambrosie stating the regular season won’t begin until at least the start of July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular season was slated to start on June 11 with the B.C. Lions traveling to Edmonton to face the Eskimos.
    In part of the statement, Ambrosie said, “Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. We salute the heroic efforts of those on the front lines of our health care system and our supply chain.
    “And, we are grateful for the leadership being shown by all levels of government. We respect the decisions being made by the federal government, provinces and municipalities on behalf of our safety, and we will continue to follow their directives. These include indications from Canadian cities that they will not allow sporting event to take place before the end of June.”
    On Friday, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said that Calgary’s ban on all public events until June 30 includes CFL and NHL games should those leagues resume before then.
    Toronto mayor John Tory announced last week his city is cancelling events through June 30 that require city permission. That ban did not extend to sporting events, but Ontario provincial gathering bans would factor in.
RB Andrew Harris (#33) and the Blue Bombers are the Grey Cup champions.
    Ambrosie also said in Tuesday’s statement, “While it is now clear that the 2020 CFL season won’t start before the beginning of July, we are committed to working with our teams, the Players’ Association, TSN and RDS to play a full season or as close as we can come to one. We recognize this may require creativity, and we are preparing for multiple scenarios.”
    The CFL previously announced on March 30 that training camps would be postponed until further notice.
    The last time the Grey Cup was not awarded was 1919 due to a lack of interest along with a rules dispute between the leagues that competed for the trophy at the time. The game was cancelled from 1916 to 1918 due to Canada’s participation in the First World War.
    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers downed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 in last year’s Grey Cup held at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta.
    This year’s Grey Cup is slated for Nov. 22 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
    In wrapping up Tuesday’s statement Ambrosie said, “We realize there are more important things on Canadians’ minds right now than games of any sort. But we also know Canadian football has long been a source of pride and unity for our country and – when the time is right – we can play an important role in its recovery.
    “Until then, let’s all be pragmatic enough to do what we need to do to stop the spread of this virus and protect one another.”

Jayda Sachs with the Fedoruk Cup in 2019.
  • Jayda Sachs has elected to bring her hockey career close to home. After playing one season with the University of Waterloo Warriors women’s hockey team, the 19-year-old forward, who is from Warman, Sask., decided to leave the Warriors to join the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team. The Huskies announced the addition of Sachs on Monday. Last season, Sachs played 23 regular season games with the Warriors collecting one goal and four assists. Due to the fact she is transferring between U Sports programs, Sachs has to sit out a full year before playing for the Huskies. From 2014 to 2019, Sachs played five seasons in the SFMAAAHL split between the Prince Albert Northern Bears and Saskatoon Stars appearing in 138 regular season games collecting 30 goals and 61 assists. She was a member of the Stars teams that captured the Fedoruk Cup as SFMAAAHL champions in 2018 and 2019.
  • On Monday, Prince Albert Raiders captain Zack Hayes signed an AHL contract for the 2020-21 campaign to play with a new team in Henderson, Nevada, which will be the AHL affiliate for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. The defenceman appeared in 60 regular season games for the Raiders this past season posting seven goals, 16 assists and a plus-37 rating in the plus-minus department. From 2016 to 2020, Hayes appeared in 272 career regular season games with the Raiders posting 15 goals, 64 assists and a plus-97 rating.
  • Tyrell Schroeder of the Saskatoon female midget A Comet Predators was named the Evan Thomas Memorial Sportsperson of the Year by the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association on Tuesday. The 15-year-old forward has played in the SMHA for the last 10 seasons all in the Comets system. Schroeder has maintained a 90 per cent average in her Grade 10 studies, and she also played on her school’s volleyball team. She will receive a $500 scholarship award. Thomas, who this award was named after, was one of the players that passed away tragically in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Saturday, 4 April 2020

Will the not so long ago old days of sports return?

Could training camps be used to get athletes in shape again?

The Regina Pats walk the Moose Jaw Civic Centre hallway in 2000.
    Remember when athletes went to training camp to get into shape?
    It is possible those days might return.
    Due to society shutting down over the cononavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, elite level athletes haven’t been able to train at their high-level facilities on a regular basis for at least three weeks in most of North America. Often, these athletes train under the watchful eye of a skilled conditioning coach.
    At the moment, it is anyone’s guess when the sports world in the professional and elite amateur levels will return to where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
    Even for the amateur minor little children’s team, the only thing that is certain is uncertainly as to when their minor sports activities will return.
    With everyone trying to self-isolate in their homes, one wonders if the training camps held by various teams will be used to get athletes back in shape.
    In a not too distant past, training camps were held for that exact purpose.
Jason Clermont came from a time when year round training became a norm. 
    If anyone stumbles on the photo of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson smoking a cigarette with a soda pop at his feet from Super Bowl I on Jan. 15, 1967, you realize how far elite sport has come.
    Actually at halftimes of NFL games in those days through to the early 1970s, it was common for players to have a cigarette and a cup of coffee at halftime. Halftime was treated like a coffee break at a workplace.
    Even in the late 1980s and early 1990s, players often showed up at training camps in elite sport out of shape. In the WHL in the current day, players all look cut and in shape.
    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were only a few players that looked that way.
    Elite sport was still kind of commonly viewed a bit through the lens of being a pastime. It was reserved for the ultra-talents that had a pure knack for those games.
    If you worked full time while playing for an elite level sports team in those days, you could possibly lose your job if you decided to go to compete at a nationals competition, if it conflicted with work or you had already taken sizable amounts of time off.
Teams from the 1970s used to get in shape at training camp.
    The view of elite sports in Canada changed in the middle to the late 1990s, when year round training and off-season programs came into vogue. By the early 2000s, most elite athletes trained year round in their sport.
    Teams in that era would send athletes home with a training program and often hoped they would do it. Coaches would phone to check if their athletes were following the training program.
    Some athletes were starting to work at that time under the guidance of a strength and conditioning coach at an elite training centre.
    The start of training camps were designed to weed out athletes that didn’t do their training programs, and there were those that were weeded out.
    At that point, sport was still different. In hockey, teams didn’t introduce their style of play or work on items like the power play and penalty kill until the regular season started.
    Now, there are orientation camps and development camps in early summer, and players are playing a team’s system during rookie games at main training camps.
    There were still athletes who had bad habits in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Volleyball star Lisa Reynolds, seen here in 2000, smoked cigarettes.
    I believe the statute of limitations passed on this one, but back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lisa Reynolds, who was a star outside hitter for the University of Regina Cougars women’s team, is the last elite player I remember who had a cigarette smoking habit.
    She played for Canada’s senior national women’s team for a couple of seasons and played professional volleyball for a number of years. Reynolds was one of those all-time great characters, who had character, and was gifted at her sport.
    I remember hanging with her a number of times in a social setting, and she would just light up a cigarette of the blue and proceed to direct a fear of God order at me to not tell her coaches. Due to not seeing Reynolds for at least 15 years, I believe I can get away with telling that tale.
    Elite level athletes in the current day would have a hard time getting away with something like that.
    Under the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes at the moment are likely in the training spot they were in the early 2000s, where they follow a program at home that they have been given.
Barret Jackman, seen here in 2000, always arrived to training camp in shape.
    Due to how online and social media technology has evolved, it is possible for these athletes to direction from a strength and conditioning coach online.
    If the shutdown of elite level sports goes for three or four months, you might see a situation where elite level athletes go to training camp to get in shape at some levels in sport like in a not so long ago past era once again.
    That might have to be done, if some of these leagues in elite level sports want to have a season unless a decision is made to shut down for a year.
    Like many facets and areas of life, sports at the elite level are in uncharted waters.
    The possibility is there for what was once old could become new again.

Stars captain Kushniruk commits to Cougars, other notes

Makena Kushniruk is a big catch for the U of Regina Cougars.
    Makena Kushniruk is going to become part of a sister act at the University of Regina.
    On Tuesday, the University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team announced they signed the star captain of the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA team. Kushniruk’s older sister, Jadyn, just finished her rookie year with the Cougars this past season.
    Makena recently finished playing her third full season with the Stars, and it was her first campaign with the team where she was captain. As a 16-year-old forward, Makena, who stands 5-foot-4, piled up 10 goals and eight assists appearing in 28 regular season games for the Stars.
    She topped the Stars goals and finished second in team scoring in points.
    On top of playing with the Stars, Makena was a member of the Saskatchewan team that won a silver medal at the National Women’s under-18 hockey championship tournament last November.
    Makena was a 14-year-old underage player in her rookie campaign with the Stars in 2017-18.
Makena Kushniruk has been one of the Stars top players.
    The Stars won the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League title, the Western regional playdown and advanced to the championship game of the Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament in that campaign.
    The Stars fell in a 2-1 heartbreaker to the St. Albert Slash in that year’s Esso Cup held in Bridgewater,N.S.
    Makena had a breakout campaign as a 15-year-old sophomore in 2018-19 piling up 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points appearing in all of the Stars 28 regular season games. She finished sixth in team scoring on a very deep Stars team.
    The Stars again won the SFMAAAHL title and the Western regional playdown to return to the Esso Cup. Saskatoon finished fourth at that year’s Esso Cup held in Sudbury, Ont.
    Following that 2018-19 campaign, it was safe to say Makena was drawing sizable interest from teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks. It was big for the Cougars to be able to sign her.
    This past season, Makena had to adjust to the fact most teams focused on checking her, because she was the Stars top returning skater. The Stars were working through a massive turnover on their roster this past season and still posted a 12-14-4 regular season record.
Stars captain Makena Kushniruk always faces the opposition’s best.
    Makena is eligible to play in the midget AAA ranks for one more campaign and is slated to join the Cougars for the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
    Makena, who will turn 17-years-old on Sunday, actually never played midget AAA hockey together with Jadyn. Jadyn, who is a 19-year-old forward, played four seasons for the Prince Albert Northern Bears from 2015-19 piling up 38 goals and 31 assist for 69 points in 110 career regular season games.
    She was a member of the Bears SFMAAAHL championship team in 2016-17 and Western regional playdown winner that appeared in the Esso Cup.
    Jadyn had one goal and two assists skating in 22 regular season games this past season for the Cougars in the U Sports ranks.
    Makena and Jadyn could potentially play three seasons together with the Cougars.

  • On Wednesday, Stars 17-year-old forward Reauna Blight committed to join the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team for the upcoming season in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference ranks. Blight appeared in all the Stars 30 regular season games posting five goals and seven assists to conclude her final campaign of midget AAA eligibility.
  • On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Drag Racing Association announced the 2020 season at the Saskatchewan International Raceway located just south of Saskatoon has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced the operations of the Saskatchewan International Raceway had been suspended until further notice as well. The Saskatchewan Drag Racing Association cited the physical health for everybody involved with the track as well as the financial health of their organization as the main reasons for these decisions.
  • On Saturday, the six-time defending Canadian Junior Football League champion Saskatoon Hilltops announced they will continue to suspend team operations to a minimum of June 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That suspension of team activities was originally put in place on March 19. On Saturday, the Hilltops announced their spring camp set for May 1-3 has been postponed and new dates won’t be decided upon until the current public health crisis is under control. The Hilltops clubhouse will remain closed. The club’s support staff is working with the team’s players to create at home workouts as everyone continues to social isolate.
  • The Undertaker, who is one of the most legendary names in professional wrestling, is drawing rave reviews for his performance in a win in a Boneyard Match at Wrestlemania 36. The Undertaker literally buried opponent AJ Styles in the bout. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wrestlemania was pre-taped to be shown over a two day period tonight and Sunday. After The Undertaker’s match finished, it broke the Internet with positive reviews for a surge of time. The WWE provided a snippet of the match that can be found by clicking right here.
  • A year ago Sunday, the Prince Albert Raiders bombed the Saskatoon Blades 6-1 in Game 1 of a best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. I reposted the post I wrote that night on a Facebook and Twitter to the delight of Raiders fans. That post can be round by clicking right here.
  • For most of the day Friday, I went on a binge playing Madden 2008 on the PlayStation 2. For me, it proved to be a perfect distress moment to get away from all the COVID-19 pandemic craziness in the world. I have receiver Calvin Johnson jacked up in the franchise I am using, and it is a fun time to throw him the ball. I didn’t turn on any computer or a phone for a 24-hour period. Hope you all find funs ways to cope in this unprecedented time. Hope you all feel free to find a way to have some fun.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Honours keep coming to Kozun

Netminder named Huskies male athlete of the year

Taran Kozun was named the Huskies male athlete of the year.
    Taran Kozun might have to expand where his trophies are displayed at his place.
    The star netminder for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team has collected an array of honours over his three full seasons in the U Sports ranks. On Wednesday, the 25-year-old product of Nipawin, Sask., added another accolade to his already lengthy list.
    Kozun was named the winner of the E. Kent Phillips Trophy as the male athlete of the year for Huskie Athletics for the second straight year.
    The Huskies held their Huskie Salute and announced their Major 7 Awards in a series of social media posts on Wednesday. The original Huskie Salute was scheduled for last Friday, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
    The puck stopper collected a lengthy number of awards this season. Kozun, who stands 6-feet and weighs 175 pounds, won the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as the U Sports player of the year, and he took honours as the U Sports goaltender of the year.
    He became the first player in U Sports history to claim both awards in the same season. On top of those honours, the graduate of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds was named a U Sports first team all-Canadian all-star.
Taran Kozun was the U Sports player of the year for men’s hockey.
    Kozun also captured honours this season as the Canada West Conference player of the year, Canada West goaltender of the year and a first team Canada West all-star.
    He had an outstanding campaign for the Huskies appearing in 22 regular season games posting a 17-3-2 record, a 1.87 goals against average, a .931 save percentage and five shutouts. He also became the second goalie in the history of the Canada West Conference to score a goal as well during those regular season appearances.
    Kozun was first goal goalie in the Canada West Conference to be awarded a goal after shooting the puck into the net.
    He topped the Canada West Conference in wins and save percentage, while posting the lowest goals against average. His five shutouts equalled a record for regular season play in Canada West which he set last season along with U of Alberta Golden Bears goalie Zach Sawchenko.
    Thanks to Kozun’s efforts, the Huskies finished second in the Canada West Conference with a 22-4-2 record.
Taran Kozun was the Canada West Conference player of the year.
    In the Canada West playoffs, the Huskies swept the University of Calgary Dinos in a best-of-three semifinal series 2-0 and pulled out the brooms again for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds taking the best-of-three Canada West Championship series 2-0.
    Kozun won all four of those starts posting a 1.84 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.
    At the David Johnston University Cup held in Halifax, N.S., the second seeded Huskies fell in a 3-2 upset to the seventh seeded University of Western Ontario Mustangs in a quarter-final match on March 12. The rest of that event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic later that same night.
    Last season, Kozun was named both the Canada West goaltender of the year and the U Sports goaltender of the year as well as a U Sports first team all-Canadian all-star and a first team Canada West all-star.
    Kozun beat out a tough field to be named the Huskies male athlete of the year. 
Taran Kozun scored a goal in the 2019-20 campaign.
    The three other nominees included defensive back Nelson Lokombo from the Huskies football team, who was the U Sports defensive player of the year, Hunter Lee from the Huskies men’s wrestling team, who won gold medals at the Canada West Conference tournament and the U Sports nationals, and Huskies men’s track and field team sprinter Karson Lehner, who was named the Canada West Conference and U Sports male track athlete of the year.
    At the Canada West Championships, Lehner ran the 300-metre race in a meet record time of 33.07 seconds breaking a 35-year-old record set former Huskies track athlete Cyprian Enweani, who ran 33.50 seconds in 1985.
    Michelle Harrison of the Huskies women’s track and field team claimed the Mary Ethel Cartwright Trophy as the female athlete of the year for Huskie Athletics. Harrison was named the U Sports female track athlete of the year.
    She won gold medals in the 60-metre hurdles at the Canada West Championship and U Sports nationals. Harrison set a new U Sports nationals record in the 60-metre hurdles running in a time of 8.15 seconds and was named the female athlete of the meet.
Evan Machibroda was named the all-around male athlete for the Huskies.
    Evan Machibroda, who is a fifth-year defensive tackle with the Huskies football team, was named the winner of the Rusty MacDonald Cup as the all-around male athlete for Huskie Athletics. The award is given to the male Huskie athlete that shows excellence in sport, the classroom and citizenship.
    Machibroda piled up 22 total tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery helping the Huskies football team post a 5-3 regular season record.
    Fifth-year guard Megan Ahlstrom of the Huskies women’s basketball team took home the Valerie Girsberger Trophy as the top all-around female athlete for Huskie Athletics. The award is given to the female Huskie athlete that shows excellence in sport, the classroom and leadership.
    Ahlstrom helped the Huskies women’s basketball team win U Sports national titles in 2016 and this past season.
    Wrestler Carson Lee took the Howard Nixon Trophy as the male athlete of the year for Huskie Athletics. He was named the Canada West and U Sports rookie of the year for men’s wrestling. Lee captured gold in the 82-kilogram weight class at the Canada West Championships and U Sports nationals.
Megan Ahlstrom, left, was the Huskies top all-around female athlete. 
    Halle Krynowsky from the Huskies women’s soccer team won the Patricia Lawson Trophy as the female rookie of the year for Huskie Athletics. The defender scored a pair of goals and was named to the Canada West Conference all-rookie team.
    The Colb McEwon Trophy as the coach of the year for Huskie Athletics went to Huskies women’s basketball team head coach Lisa Thomaidis. Thomaidis led the Huskies women’s basketball team to their fourth Canada West title in the past five years and second U Sports national title in team history.
    She led the Huskies women’s hoopsters to their first U Sports national crown in 2016 as well.
    The Dr. Walter Hader Award as student trainer of the year went to Ben Taylor from the Huskies track and field teams and cross country teams.
    The 2019-20 campaign was a great season for the Huskie Athletics program that included four Canada West team championships and one U Sports national title.
Lisa Thomaidis was named the coach of the year for Huskie Athletics.
    The Huskies captured conference titles in men’s wrestling, women’s track and field, men’s hockey and women’s basketball. The women’s basketball team captured the Bronze Baby Trophy as U Sports national champions.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Monday, 30 March 2020

WWCFL season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Valkyries R Haley Girolami is a nurse in Saskatoon.
    The Western Women’s Canadian Football League will have to wait a year before enjoying a milestone 10th season.
    On Monday, WWCFL announced in a release its 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WWCFL’s executive and board met via a conference call on Sunday night and made a unanimous decision to call off the campaign.
    With regards to the cancellation, Monday’s release stated, “This decision was made based on a number of factors the primary of which being the health and safety of all those involved in our league. Additional factors included the financial ramifications the COVID-19 situation has had on our teams and players to this point and will continue to have, as well as the uncertainties posed by the situation overall.”
    The WWCFL hit the field for its inaugural campaign in 2011 and hadn’t missed crowning a league champion until this year.
    Main training camps for the WWCFL were expected to start around April 20 with regular season expected to kickoff about May 2.
    Last season, the Saskatoon Valkyries won their sixth WWCFL title downing the host Regina Riot 25-3 on June 29, 2019 at Mosaic Stadium. The Riot have won the WWCFL crown three times in their history.
    Overall last season, the Valkyries posted a 9-0 record closing the campaign by downing the Montreal Blitz 39-12 in an exhibition tilt at Saskatoon Minor Football Field on July 6, 2019.
    The 2020 season cancellation for the WWCFL follows a whole host of other cancellations and postponements in the sports and entertainment world. Even the 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been postponed for a start in July of 2021.
Valkyries OG Shelby Payne (#60) is a paramedic.
    The eight-team WWCFL is a working women’s league, which means the players are affect by numerous off field developments due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) breakout.
    It is pretty well known that significant layoffs have already occurred in a number of industries and a large number of businesses have seen a huge drop in daily revenues.
    The WWCFL faced challenges like most other leagues under the scare of COVID-19. Eventually, each league hits a date where decisions have to be made to cancel venue bookings in order to save money.
    On top of that, the WWCFL has to judge restrictions imposed by various levels of governments regarding large gatherings and travel could still be in place by the time the season comes around. With Saskatchewan under a state of emergency, all athletic facilities are currently closed and gatherings of over 10 people are banned.
    The WWCFL would have a hard time trying to push back the season, because the facilities they play out of have a good chance of being booked for other events.
    On top of all that, it is safe to assume the WWCFL likely saw a drop in sponsorship due to most businesses facing a revenue crunch at this time.
    Of course, the healthy and safety factor still comes down as the biggest reason to call things off.
    The Valkyries would be very conscientious about the health and safety factor. Receiver Haley Girolami, who had a breakout rookie season in last year’s WWCFL championship campaign, works as a nurse, and standout offensive guard Shelby Payne is paramedic in Saskatoon’s health system.
The Valkyries celebrate winning the WWCFL title last year.
    Both will likely have experienced the front line battles against the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The WWCFL release concluded stating, “We want to thank the players, coaches and staff of all of our teams for the work they’ve put in leading up to this season, as well as our fans, sponsors and volunteers for all of their support. We look forward to playing and celebrating the WWCFL’s 10th season in 2021.”
    Looking at all the factors, the WWCFL pretty much had no choice to pull the plug on the 2020 campaign. It likely won’t be the only league that has to make this tough choice.

CFL postpones training camps indefinitely

Cody Fajardo fires a pass downfield for the Roughriders.
    The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc on the CFL’s football year.
    On Monday, the CFL announced that the start of the league’s training camps had been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) breakout. Rookies had been scheduled to arrive on May 11 with a rookie camp start date set for May 13.
    Main training camps were set to open on May 17.
    In a statement, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said, “As for our future plans, we are in the hands of our public health officials, the advice they are providing governments and the directives those governments are issuing to us all, and we acknowledge their timetable will be dictated by the virus itself. We will make further decisions when we can and share them with our fans and the public as soon as possible.”
    The CFL had already cancelled two regional combines and its national combine. Its Global Draft, which was originally set for April 16, has been postponed to coincide with the start of training camps. Global players were to arrive in Toronto, Ont., for a combine before the Global Draft, but all of that is up in the air now.
    The CFL Draft remains scheduled for April 30.
Safety Mike Edem (#15) blitzes the quarterback for the Roughriders.
    On top of worrying about the health and safety of players, staff and fans, the CFL has to juggle with the possibility restrictions regarding gatherings of large crowds and travel could still be in place, when training camp activities were slated to start.
    Most of the CFL’s players and coaches come from the United States and the border between the United States and Canada is currently closed to non-essential travel. It is unclear what type of travel restrictions could be in place, when the CFL training camps are originally slated to open.
    In Monday’s statement, Ambrosie thanked the workers on the front line of health care and the supply chain.
    He said those in the CFL are “pragmatic optimists.”
    The statement closed with Ambrosie stating, “We continue to look forward to a CFL season and the Grey Cup.”
    During these uncertain times, it is still possible things could change to allow CFL training camps to start on time. Due to the fact the number of cases of COVID-19 are still rising, the CFL made the responsible decision to postpone training camps until further notice.
The Blue Bombers celebrate a TD last season.
    Of course, these developments are followed hard in Saskatchewan, which is home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their passionate Rider Nation fanbase.
    The last time the Grey Cup was not awarded was 1919 due to a lack of interest along with a rules dispute between the leagues that competed for the trophy at the time. The game was cancelled from 1916 to 1918 due to Canada’s participation in the First World War.
    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers downed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 in last year’s Grey Cup held at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta.
    This year’s Grey Cup is slated for Nov. 22 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Saturday, 28 March 2020

Madden 2008 finally came out in these COVID-19 days

I dug out Madden 2008 for the PlayStation 2.
    Madden 2008 made its first appearance at my household during these COVID-19 self-isolation times.
    On Friday night, I finally dug out the PlayStation 2 and fired up the Madden 2008 video game. The franchise I was using was in off-season mode, so I didn’t play any actual full out games.
    I spent a couple of hours working through the very realistic off-season that was created in the game. In future versions of Madden, the off-season was toned down to fit with the hyper fast life most of North American society lives.
    Still, real football geeks more tilted to the fantasy side love the off-season mode in Madden 2008. I like it too, but I normally wouldn’t find time to play through something like that.
With society being shut down, I have been in the home office lots.
    With society being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked my off-season up to training camp and played through a couple of drills before packing it in for the night.
    Even just for playing the off-season, it was a fun change of pace.
    Over the past week, I think I have come to accept the fact the world won’t snap back to the way it was before the shutdowns that started to happen in North America on March 11 to try and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
    At the moment, it is pretty safe to say the local sports world that I am involved in won’t be resuming normal activity for some time yet or at least until governments at all levels start lifting emergency measures and some travel restrictions.
I pulled out the Wayne Gretzky jersey on Thursday.
    While many things have shut down, I still kept busy this week. Usually, WHL playoffs would have started during this period of time, and I would be hyper busy.
    This week, I have been busy at a steady controllable pace.
    One thing I feel that has gone away for myself is the daily anxiety when it comes to checking messages and social media links for the first time each day. When the shutdowns first started to happen, I dreaded turning on any electronic device to see what new measures governments at any level might be bringing in.
    I like socializing, and I worried what it was going to be like to not be out at sporting events. A lot of my work involves getting out and meeting people.
    Over this past week, it hasn’t bothered me to work from home. Actually, most places I do to or spend time at away from home are now closed, so it is easy to spend time at home.
    With the extra time I have during the day, I have started into a habit of sleeping in. I’ve come to the conclusion that is allowing me to have the extra energy I need to carry on through the day and face anything that comes up.
I suspect I won’t be taking pictures of moments like these any time soon.
    Right now, there is so much uncertainty about how the world will unfold under the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The sports world, especially at the professional level, is really at the mercy of what governments elect to do with their emergency measures and travel bans.
    Even the Summer Olympic Games have been postponed until next year.
    Right now, there is so much speculation going around it is hard to know what to believe. There has been a fear the MLB, CFL, and U.S. college football seasons could be totally called off.
    I’ve heard speculation that society would be smart to stay in lockdown for a year.
    I’ve heard other speculation that this could let up in a month or two months.
The streets in my Saskatoon neighbourhood are quiet.
    Rod Pedersen, who does recovery and addictions work along with sports broadcasting, said and wrote the world is in a state of trauma.
    He said the two definitions of trauma he learned are “any situation your brain can’t comprehend,” or “a deeply distressing or disturbing event.”
    The COVID-19 pandemic is something the brain can’t comprehend, and it is an event that is deeply distressing or disturbing. I am pretty certain the world is experiencing trauma.
    As I have said before, I am just taking things day by day, because that is all anyone can control is how they react daily to something when it unfolds. The governments of the world have chosen their courses of action, and they aren’t going to change.
I’ve spent time reflecting and wondering when things will be normal.
    It feels weird to have not seen or covered a live sporting event since March 12.
    I try not to look too far ahead in the future, because that fuels anxiety. I am mindful that the world will likely be very different when the COVID-19 pandemic runs its course compared to where the world was before it started.
    In Canada, that last normal day was likely March 10.
    I hope this will be over by the middle of May, or the outlook will be better even two weeks from now. That is also an unknown.
    Until then, I just worry about finishing the most pressing task I need to get done that day, and try to spend some down time with family and friends.
    It is really the only way to proceed right now.

Robins cleans up on Blades awards, other notes

Tristen Robins won four Blades team awards.
    Tristen Robins was the man of the hour, when the Saskatoon Blades announced their team awards on Thursday night.
    The 18-year-old sophomore centre from Clear Lake, Man., had a breakout campaign leading the Blades in scoring with 33 goals and 40 assists for 73 points in 62 regular season games. Robins, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 173 pounds, posted a plus-16 rating in the plus-minus department.
    Thanks to his efforts, Robins was named the WHL team’s top defensive forward, the most gentlemanly player, best forward and most valuable player.
    Due to government restrictions against gatherings of over 10 people at the present time, the Blades weren’t able to hand out their team awards after the final game of their regular season or at a team function.
    They neatly rolled out their awards via Twitter on Thursday night. They were able to produce great short videos with team supporters announcing the award winners.
    Captain Chase Wouters was another multiple award winner being named the club’s hardest working player and taking the team’s community minded award.
    Overager Scott Walford was named the Blades best defenceman. Left-winger Colton Dach, who was playing through his 16-year-old season, claimed honours as the Blades rookie of the year.
Captain Chase Wouters won two Blades team awards.
    Overage defenceman Nolan Kneen took home honours as the Blades hardest hitter. Sophomore rearguard Aidan De La Gorgendiere claimed the award as the club’s most improved player.
    Rookie 16-year-old centre Jayden Wiens claimed the Bentley Memorial Academic Award.
    Feisty overage left-winger Riley McKay captured the Fan’s Choice Award as the team’s favourite player for a second straight campaign.
    The Blades fan of the year award was given to Ryan Collinge.
    The Blades had locked up a playoff berth for the second straight season and had a 34-24-2-3 record in the regular season before the CHL cancelled the remainder of the regular season and entire post-season in the 2019-20 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Blades have to love the fact they have Mitch Bach as their new manager of communications. Bach was a skilled broadcast sports journalist, who spent a lengthy stretch at CHAT Television in Medicine Hat, Alta. The tribute videos he created for the Blades digital networks for overage players Kneen and McKay have been outstanding. The video for Walford is slated to run at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
  • While there is great excitement in Regina the historic Pats will get to select Connor Bedard first overall in the WHL Bantam Draft on April 22, Saskatoon got to enjoy watching two highly touted bantam draft prospects play this past season. Forwards Brayden Yager and Riley Heidt had outstanding seasons playing as underage players for the Saskatoon Contacts midget AAA team. Yager had 18 goals and 24 assists appearing in all of the Contacts 44 regular season games. Heidt also played in all of the Contacts 44 regular season games piling up 17 goals and 20 assists. Bedard has exceptional player status to allow him to play full time in the WHL as a 15-year-old. Yager and Heidt were prospects for the exceptional status tag, but there hasn’t been any word if either of them would get that tag. Even if they don’t get that tag, they will be great additions for the WHL teams they join.
  • With most gyms closed across the country and everyone trying to stay home as much as possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve seen pictures of a handful of home gyms come across various social media lines. Most have a partial old school feeling to them. Some of the coolest I’ve seen have been courtesy of track and field star Sage Watson, Hamilton Tiger-Cats long snapper Aaron Crawford, Saskatoon Hilltops receiver/kicker and star curler Rylan Kleiter and Hilltops alum and University of Regina Rams defensive lineman Garth Knittng.
  • Big props to the crew I work with at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex for the newsletter that was put out this week. The lead front page column dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and sports was outstanding. Just to note, I did not have a hand in writing it, but it is fantastic. You can check it out by clicking right here.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.