Thursday, 23 October 2014

Weekend will be jumping in Saskatoon

Setups in progress for the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour stop.
              It seems like everything is running to Saskatoon this weekend.
            One can almost forget how busy life can get in a bigger city. When you leave Medicine Hat, Alta., which has a population of about 62,000, Towntown definitely feels like a big city with a population of about 261,000 calling it home.
            During a walk through downtown today, I immediately encountered crews setting up for the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour stop. The tour is part of the promotional package Rogers put together in conjunction with its new broadcast deal with the NHL, which started this year.
            Crews were scattered along 21st street extending for about two blocks from the front of the Delta Bessborough hotel already starting to set everything up. Equipment was scattered everywhere.
            Activities with the tour stop start at 12 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be a meet and greet with NHL alumni, local hockey heroes and celebrities, a market showcasing local culinary and hometown food trucks, local bands and entertainment, and a kids zone filled with hockey themed games.
            There will also be a viewing party for the broadcast of Sunday’s NHL contest between the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks. Of course, long time hockey broadcaster Ron MacLean will be in town as part of all the festivities.
Items wait to be placed for the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour stop.
            Besides that toured in function, the local sports scene is frantic. The Saskatoon Blades host a pair of WHL games, The University of Saskatchewan campus is packed full of varsity athletics activities including basketball, football, soccer and hockey, and the Saskatoon Hilltops host the Calgary Colts in the Prairie Football Conference championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
            That is just a quick rundown of what is happening as far as sports is concerned, and I am not even close to knowing what is going on as far as the arts scene or anything else that might be happening.
            The rebuilding Blades are starting to frequent the win column on a more regular basis lately. They are 4-1 in their last five games and sit 4-7 overall.
On Friday, the Blades tangle with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (2-8-0-1), and on Saturday, they face the Portland Winterhawks (3-9-0-2). Game time is 7:05 p.m. on both nights at the SaskTel Centre.
Blades rookie goaltender Nik Amundrud picked up his first career WHL victory on Wednesday night making 31 stops in a 5-2 victory at home over the Kootenay Ice. Before that contest, Ice left-winger Tim Bozon, who is out with a lower body injury, dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff before a standing ovation from the 3,498 spectators on hand. He spent 27 days at Royal University Hospital last March while battling Neisseria meningitis.
            On campus, the men’s basketball team is hosting the Graham Shootout pre-season tournament, which started on Thursday. The Huskies faced the Edmonton based MacEwan Griffins on Thursday night, were to battle the Nipissing Lakers from North Bay, Ont., at 7 p.m. on Friday and the University of Victoria Vikes at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
            The Huskies women’s hockey team has a two-game set against the University of Calgary Dinos at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday night at the ancient Rutherford Rink. The Huskies football team battles the University of Alberta Golden Bears at 1:30 p.m. at Griffiths Stadium.
            The Huskies soccer team are both hosting Canada West single elimination quarter-final games on Sunday at PotashCorp Park. The women’s team faces the MacEwan Griffins at 12 p.m. and the men’s team battles the University of Winnipeg Wesmen at 2:15 p.m.
            The Hilltops battle the Colts in Sunday’s PFC final for the right to go to the Canadian Junior Football League championship game, the Canadian Bowl, which will be hosted by the British Columbia Football Conference winner.
            Saskatoon topped the PFC with a 6-2 record in the regular season, while the Colts were third in the six-team league with a 4-4 mark. The Hilltops thumped the Colts in Calgary 47-19 in the only regular season meeting between the two clubs on Sept. 21. Calgary turned the ball over five times in that contest, while Saskatoon avoided any giveaways.
            The Colts outgained the Hilltops in total offensive yards 404-340. If the visiting Colts clean up the turnovers, this contest could be closer than a lot of people anticipate. I still expect the Hilltops to prevail.
            With all that is going on, this will definitely not be a weekend in Saskatoon, where you want to stay home. 

Safety a state of mind

            It still seems hard to believe two Canadian soldiers died this week in two suspected home-grown terror attacks on home soil.
            It feels like no words would ever be able to comfort the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was shot guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was run down by a car in a community just south of Montreal on Monday. I do offer condolences to both families on deaths that were tragic and needless.
            When I was in downtown Saskatoon on Thursday at about 1 p.m., I ran into a curious situation. I saw a radio reporter interviewing two separate individuals on the street asking them if they felt more fearful about their safety after the two attacks.
            The reporter and the interview subjects were just a short distance away from three different street creatures situated in three different spots. The three street creatures turned out to be fine, as they did talk in a friendly manner to me, when I walked past. I could also envision a different scenario, where you are mugged for the possessions on your person.
            Living in a city like Saskatoon, you can face dangers on the street every day. While Saskatoon is a beautiful centre, it isn’t immune to the crime problems that plague a big city, and anyone who lives here can honestly tell you that.
            If  you are hanging around 20th Street or 22nd Street during a night hour or at times during the day, you likely have a better chance of something bad happen to you than being the victim of a terror attack.
            In February of 2010, one of my old buds Bob Florence, who is now a former desker and sportswriter for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, was knocked out heading home from work, and he spent two weeks in intensive care, in an induced coma, and required two months of hospitalization. Charles Ellwood was convicted for assaulting Florence, who has no memory about what happened that night because of his injuries.
            In all reality, you will only feel as safe as you want to feel safe. I feel if you let a terror attack convince you not to go somewhere, you have allowed the terror attacker to win at some level.

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