Saturday, 24 December 2016

People who rock part two

    I first wrote a column listing people who rock in June of 2015, and I have been itching to do it again.
    I thought the first time I wrote a “people who rock” column it made for a great feel good exercise to create some positive energy, and the post was really well received. I wish it didn’t take me so long to write another one of these lists, but it is better late than never.
    By no means is this list complete or in any sort of order. Here are a few “beauties” that just make life just so much better.

Brian Towriss

Brian Towriss shakes hands with U of Regina Rams players.
    Towriss stepped down on Monday from his post after 33 years as the head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team to shock of the football world in Canada and even beyond the country’s borders.
    In the aftermath, it was easy to see how many lives he had a positive impact on during his career. Tonnes of former players from the start of Towriss’s head coaching days spanning all the way to current players have talked about how meaningful an influence the bench boss had on their lives. To a lot of those players, Towriss was a second father.
    That reaction in itself is bigger than the U Sports record 196 career victories, 11 Canada West titles, nine Vanier Cup appearances and three Vanier Cup championships Towriss piled up walking the Huskies sideline as head coach. If you as a coach are trying to make your players better people on top of being better athletes, all the wins and championships and coach of the years honours will look after themselves.
    Towriss also had the ability to work with a diverse group of people over the years. He got the best out of players that were as cerebral as quarterback Brent Schneider and characters who had character that were a little bit out there in a good way in power tailback Tyler Siwak and rush end Brent Dancey.
    During his farewell press conference, Towriss said teams won a lot of games with honesty, respect and hard work. His Huskies teams were always respected for those qualities.
    “BT” did things the right way, and his Huskies teams produced a high-quality legacy in competition and away from the game that all U of S steams should strive to uphold.

Ehjae Chan

Ehjae Chan (#24) tackles an Edmonton Storm fullback.
    Chan is the kick butt defensive back/linebacker with the Saskatoon Valkyries women’s football team, and she was a member of Saskatchewan’s provincial team last summer that won nationals.
    She always tells me to include the linebacker position when talking about her role in football, and I don’t question that because she kicks butt. In an era of football that tends to be a little more pass happy, defensive players frequently have to play that tweener role between defensive back and linebacker.
    When Chan’s Valkyries face their arch rivals the Regina Riot, you definitely see she excels in that role. She is able to be the cover corner in the secondary that makes a key interception and tough enough to mix it up in the front seven to make a tackle to stop a tough runner.
    Chan is also known for her gifted artistic talents off the field. She can take some of the most beautiful pictures you have ever seen and they can span from amazing scenic shots to people pictures.
    Her ability to draw and paint is also a gift that has been handed down from a Higher Power. Her work is way better than anything you will find in a store or on display in a gallery.
    Chan also wears her soul on her sleeve, and when you combine everything she does, you have one incredibly inspiring person.

Jordon Cooke

Jordon Cooke has stood tall in goal for the Huskies.
    The gutsy goalie from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team just gets the job done wherever he goes.
    In his final season in the major junior ranks in 2013-14 with the Kelowna Rockets, Cooke was named the Canadian Hockey League’s goalie of the year. He posted a 39-7-4 record, a .922 save percentage, a 2.28 goals against average and four shutouts.
    Last season in his sophomore campaign in the U Sports ranks, Cooke had another dream season. He set a Huskies record for wins in a regular season at 19 posting a 19-5 record, a .921 save percentage, a 2.52 goals against average and two shutouts. 
    Cooke backstopped the Huskies to a Canada West Conference championship, was named the conference’s most outstanding player and took home honours as the top goaltender in U Sports.
    Currently in his third year with the Huskies, Cooke is having another outstanding campaign posting a 10-3-2 record, a .928 save percentage, a 1.98 goals against average, and three shutouts.
    He has the talent that should give him a shot to play in the NHL ranks, but those clubs shy away from drafting or signing goalies that stand 5-foot-10 and weigh 185 pounds like Cooke does. Cooke plays a style that is similar to Chris Osgood, who was a former star netminder of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Osgood also mirrors Cooke in size.
    Despite being overlooked, Cooke just goes about his business in a humble manner and always ensures to spread the credit around to his teammates that play in front of him for any success he has. Osgood used to do the same thing.
    With that in mind, good things do come to good people, and Cooke was recently named to Hockey Canada’s roster for the Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland. Canada opens play this coming Monday against HC Dinamo Minsk. The Leduc, Alta., product will be the first active Canada West player in over 30 years to play at this event.
    It would not be a shocker to see Cooke excel at this event and see other big doors open for him in hockey.

Kylie Gavelin

Kylie Gavelin wheels in the offensive zone for the Cougars.
    Gavelin is the silky smooth offensive sparkplug for the University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team.
    If you are not aware of where Gavelin is in the offensive zone, she will make you pay. If she has time and space, her rocket snapshot will be in the back of the goal. During her career with the green and gold, Gavelin has netted a couple of impressive overtime winners where the goalie could see the shot and had no chance to stop the puck.
    The Mankota, Sask., product started to turn heads as a sophomore at the university level during the 2014 playoffs, where she netted three goals and two assists in eight games as the Cougars advanced to the Canada West championship series. They eventually fell to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a hard fought best-of-three series that went beyond the distance.
    In her third year in 2014-15, Gavelin, who stands 5-foot-6, picked up a career high 13 goals and netted eight assists in 27 games.  She had her best season last year picking up 11 goals and 16 assists in 26 games.
    Now in her final season of eligibility, Gavelin will get to wear Canada’s colours in the new year. She will play for Canada’s women’s hockey team at the FISU Winter Universiade, which runs Jan. 29 to Feb. 8, 2017 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Gavelin will be joined by U of R teammates Jaycee Magwood and Alexis Larson.
    Gavelin is also pretty popular with her teammates in the Cougars dressing room, but the opportunities to see her in action are running out as this is her retirement run. The gifted sniper has six goals and six assists in the Cougars first 16 games this season.
    She will be part of one more run through the playoffs and players that wear #13 for the U of R Cougars women’s teams seem to traditionally create magic in the post-season. Gavelin likely still has a little more magic on her stick.

Brooklyn Haubrich

Brooklyn Haubrich is the Huskies feisty forward.
    Haubrich is the feisty forward for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team who will kill you with kindness.
    The former captain of the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats midget AAA team standing only 5-foot-4, but she is not afraid to be an energy player and battle in all the greasy areas on the ice. In almost all of those physical battles, she is usually battling against a player that is bigger physically than her.
    The Hodgeville, Sask., product is also a happy intense player. No matter how intense the physical battle gets, Haubrich always has a huge smile on her face. When you are around her, you think she has never had a bad day in her life. Her style of play on the ice mirrors what former NFL receiver Hines Ward used to do with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    As a rookie last season with the Huskies, Haubrich chipped in a little bit offensively collecting four goals and three assist appearing in all 28 of her team’s regular season games. She has managed an assist in 11 appearances this season.
    Her speedy and feisty style of play will help change the tone of a game in her team’s favour after one shift. Her upbeat personality also makes the morale in the Huskies dressing room take a big spike upwards.
    Haubrich is one of those unsung heroes, who plays a key part in helping the Huskies succeed.

James Vause

James Vause gets set in the Hilltops secondary.
    Vause is the kick butt and first rate person safety of the current three time defending Canadian Junior Football League champion Saskatoon Hilltops.
    Since joining the Hilltops in 2014, Vause has become one of the key leaders on the defensive unit becoming one of the team’s captains this past season. Off the field, he always seems to be one of the first guys to step up and do the blue and gold’s community functions.
    In July of 2015, Vause played a big part in organizing the Cody Smuk Memorial Road Hockey Tournament, which raised funds for Choc ‘la Cure. Choc ‘la Cure collects funds for equipment at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre.
    Vause’s sister, Stephanie, was engaged to Smuk. Smuk was the heart and soul gritty glue guy forward of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team, who passed away in June of 2015 after a battle with cancer that lasted over a year.
    On the field, James Vause’s specialty is pass defence. He has a strong ability to dissect a play and get to where the ball is going to make a knockdown or interception. He has also earned huge respect from his rivals thanks to his heightened level of sportsmanship.
    When you lose to the Hilltops and then meet Vause, you come away with a great impression of that team.
    On the humourous front, Vause is well-known for breaking up the Hilltops dressing room with impersonations of the team’s head coach Tom Sargeant. Vause also gives killer funny interviews on radio shows in the days leading up to a Hilltops contest.
    The Hilltops are fortunate to have the Aden Bowman Collegiate grad on their roster for another two seasons.

The Happiest Christmas Tree

The Happiest Christmas Tree.
    I know this isn’t a person, but it is Christmas time and you have to love the Happiest Christmas Tree.
    I bought this at the Wal-Mart in Medicine Hat about three or four years ago. You should have seen the looks and smiles on people’s faces, when I had this thing in my shopping cart.
    When you get it singing its song and dancing, you can’t help but laugh. One word of warning, the tune this things sings is catchy.
    You can hear the Happiest Christmas Tree doing its thing in a video that can be found right here.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass on about this post, feel free to email them to The first “people who rock” column can be found right here.