Sunday, 31 May 2015

Riot runs wild over Valkyries

Valkyries receiver Tori Giles is taken down by two Riot defenders.
    The Saskatoon Valkyries experienced a few not so good firsts on Saturday night.
    Taking on the rival Regina Riot, the Valkyries suffered their first loss ever on home turf, and it came in a definite fashion. The Riot thrashed the four time defending Western Women’s Canadian Football League champions 49-9 at Saskatoon Minor Football field.
    The loss ended a 17 game home winning streak for the Valkyries, and it also included another couple of dubious distinction. The Valkyries set new team records for most points allowed in a single game at 49 and largest margin of defeat at 40, which has been the only time Saskatoon has been blown out.
    Before Saturday’s outing, the Valkyries only lost one other time in a team history that dates back to 2011 falling 15-7 to the Riot in Regina on May 12, 2013. The Riot have built a reputation on giving the Valkyries tough games. The Valkyries regularly thump the rest of their other opponents.
    As much as the Valkyries can look at their latest loss to Regina as one of those nights where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, the Riot have to be given full credit for their strong effort.
    In the first encounter between these two squads back on May 17 in Regina, the Valkyries rallied from a 16-8 deficit to earn a 28-19 victory. The Riot had to lament a number of missed opportunities they had to win that contest and a number of drive killing dropped passes they committed.
Valkyries receiver Marci Kiselyk loses the handle on a pass reception.
    Saturday’s encounter didn’t appear it would be romp by the visitors early on. Just 1:34 into the contest, running back Sam Matheson ripped off a 29 yard touchdown run to put the Valkyries up 7-0. A large crown at SMF Field had to anticipate an 18th straight home victory.
    The Riot then rolled off 21 unanswered points to go up 21-7. Quarterback Aimee Kowalski hit her sister and receiver Alex Kowalski on a four-yard pass to tie things up at 7-7. Tailback Carmen Agar ran in a major from 15 yards out late in the first quarter and backup signal caller Sami Bray scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak early in the second quarter to give Regina a 14-point edge.
    Even at this point in the game, the Valkyries didn’t appear to be in trouble. They cut the gap to 21-9 after the Riot conceded a safety. After Saskatoon defensive back Shantel Stupnikoff recovered a fumble by Agar, the Valkyries drove deep into the Riot’s end of the field.
    On a third down gamble, Valkyries quarterback Stacey Boldt tried to connect with receiver Marci Kiselyk on a corner pattern in the end zone, but the pass attempt hit the upright.
    Regina proceeded to drive down the field. On the last play of the half, Aimee Kowalski’s end zone pass deflected off the hands of intended receiver Amanda Hungle and into the hands of Alex Kowalski for a major score from nine yards out. The positive bounce allowed the Riot to take a 28-9 lead into halftime and ended the competitive part of the contest.
    In the second half, the Valkyries seemed to battle through a drop in confidence, which was visible in dropped passes and blown assignments.
Riot tailback Carmen Agar motors away from a couple Valkyries defenders.
    Regina continued to play strong. Agar ran in a major from 30 yards out, Aimee Kowalski hit Hungle with a four-yard TD strike and running back Carly Kentz capped the scoring with a one-yard plunge.
    With the win, Regina improved to 2-1, while Saskatoon fell to 2-1. The Riot also holds the standings tiebreaker over the Valkyries outscoring their rivals 68-37 in the two head-to-head contests. The two teams top the WWCFL’s Prairie Conference standings.
    The Valkyries close the regular season this coming Sunday, when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Manitoba Fearless. The Riot will also be in Winnipeg to close the regular season this coming Sunday taking on the Winnipeg Wolfpack.
    With the loss, the Valkyries quest to win five straight WWCFL titles is not over. Odds are high Saskatoon and Regina will meet in the playoffs once again in the Prairie Conference final for a fifth straight year. In a likely rubber match, the Valkyries will have had three weeks to get their confidence back, so a result can’t be guaranteed for one side or the other.
    The WWCFL rivalry between Saskatoon and Regina definitely has some intrigue for the rest of the 2015 campaign.

Vashurin and Gardiner top Saskatchewan Marathon

Sask. Marathon winner Erin Gardiner
    The 37th Annual Saskatchewan Marathon proved to be memorable for all those that took part.
    Early Sunday morning at Diefenbaker Park in Saskatoon, about 3,000 runners participated in racing in one of four different distances including a five-kilometre race, a 10-kilometre race, a half-marathon and a full marathon. Most of the competitors had the aim of testing themselves on their own personal basis, and ultimate victory was achieved in finishing the race.
    In the full marathon, Sergii Vashurin of the Ukraine finished first overall running just over 42-kilometers in a time of two hours, 37 minutes and 55 seconds. Local product Erin Gardiner won the women’s division in the full marathon run for the second year in a row and posted a time of 3:00:21 on Sunday.
    Ruslan Kramariuk, another product from the Ukraine, won the half marathon in a time of 1:15:05. Saskatoon product Amanda Froelich topped the women’s division in a time of 1:27:00.
    In the 10-kilometre race, Ivan Heshko, the third product from the Ukraine taking part in the overall event, claimed the men’s division in a time of 33:03, while Christina Charles of Prince Albert took the women’s division in a time of 37:11.
    In the five-kilometre race, Ibrahim Mohammed of Saskatoon won the overall race in a time of 16:25, while Melfort’s Robyn Luthi claimed top spot in the women’s division in a time of 19:47.

Roughriders back in action

Offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte takes part in a Riders training camp drill.
     In the province that is well known for its wheat fields, it seems like the CFL off-season can’t end soon enough, as everyone seems anxious to throw on their Roughriders jerseys for another campaign.
    The Saskatchewan Roughriders got going again holding a two-day rookie camp on Wednesday and Thursday in Regina. The team’s main training camp officially opened on Sunday at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon as 91 players took the field for workouts.
    During the afternoon session, the stands on the west side of Griffiths Stadium were almost full of members of Rider Nation, and the majority were sporting their green and white jerseys. You can expect similar gatherings at Griffiths Stadium for the rest of the week.
    Early on in camp, Roughriders fans will be wondering how Darian Durant’s right elbow has healed up. Durant injured his elbow in a 30-24 road victory over the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Sept. 7 of last year and was out for the rest of the season. Saskatchewan was 8-2 when Durant was hurt and finished the 2014 campaign with a 10-8 regular season mark. In the playoffs, the Roughriders were eliminated in the West Division semifinal with an 18-10 loss to the Eskimos in Edmonton.
    Durant is also learning a new system, because Jacques Chapdelaine was brought in during the off-season to replace George Cortez as team’s offensive coordinator.
    Sights will also be set on receiver Nic Demski, who played last season with the University of Manitoba Bisons. The Riders selected Demski in the first round and sixth overall in the CFL Draft that was held on May 12.
    A whole host of familiar veterans were also on hand including offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte, receiver Chris Getzlaf, defensive lineman John Chick and defensive back Tyron Brackenridge.
    Camp also receivers Preston Bews and Evan Turkington, who both played in the Canadian Junior Football League last season. Bews helped the Regina Thunder win the CJFL title in 2013, while Turkington helped the Saskatoon Hilltops capture the CJFL championship last year.
    Most of the Roughriders on field sessions this week at Griffiths Stadium are set for 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., but their training camp schedule is subject to change.

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