Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Golf star Wilson reflects fondly on other sports life

Sports Hall of Fame inductee shined at U of Saskatchewan

Barb Wilson, second from right, has great memories from U of S.
    At one time, golf wasn’t the only sport Barb Wilson was known for.
    On Wednesday at a press conference at the Saskatoon Field House, the 66-year-old was announced as an inductee for the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame class of 2017. With one Saskatchewan junior women’s golf title, five Saskatchewan women’s amateur titles and five Saskatchewan senior women’s title to her credit, Wilson’s selection to the local Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete was a fitting one.
    With the Field House being located right next to the University of Saskatchewan, Wilson found herself reflecting on the days when she was a member of the school’s athletics program. She played for what was then known as the Huskiettes basketball team from 1970 to 1974. Besides the hoops team, Wilson was also a member of the Huskiettes field hockey team and the track and field team.
    “I absolutely loved my five years in the university,” said Wilson. “You can’t get better than that.”
    “One of my best friends is Heather Witzel, who played with me on the basketball team. Pat Jackson was our coach at that time and was one of the all-time best coaches. She was actually the coach of the national team for the first couple of years that I played.
    “I remembered all the fun times that we had playing field hockey. We all had to learn how to play field hockey, because the university didn’t have a coach, so they asked Pat to coach it.”
    Wilson and Witzel played basketball together for three seasons from 1970 to 1973 helping the Huskiettes post an 85-11 record. The team won a bronze medal at the 1971 Canada Winter Games in Saskatoon.
Barb Wilson listens to her Hall introduction.
    Following those three campaigns, Wilson stayed on for the 1973-74 season helping the Huskiettes record a 15-5 regular season mark before being swept by UBC 2-0 in a best-of-three Canada West championship series.
    Back in those days, Wilson said all the members of the basketball team played field hockey to prepare for the hoops season. She remembered one time when Witzel had trouble adjusting to the changing conditions outside.
    “She (Witzel) came from B.C. and froze, absolutely froze because of our weather,” said Wilson. “Lucky devil her, she got to go in and have a hot shower before basketball practice where none of the others did.
    “We had very good times. I still go out to (Vancouver Island) to see Heather.”
    While Wilson cemented her star status on the provincial golf scene after leaving university becoming a member of the Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame in 2015, she still kept tabs on the U of S women’s basketball program, which has been known as the Huskies women’s basketball team for a lengthy stretch of time.
    Under current head coach Lisa Thomaidis, the Huskies have won five Canada West titles and a U Sports national championship in 2016.
    Remembering how different things were in the early 1970s, Wilson was amazed to see the attention Thomaidis’s teams have drawn and admits she wished her hoops teams could have drawn that same attention.
    “It is a good thing that she projects her team as one of the best if not the best,” said Wilson. “We were very good in our time with Pat Jackson, very good.
    “I don’t think we ever got any credit for that as what is going on now. That is alright.”
    While she has great memories from her university days, Wilson has countless memories playing golf. In a perky and upbeat way, she said it was really nice to be announced as an inductee to the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
    She also wants to get back to playing that sport on a more frequent basis. Since winning her last Saskatchewan senior women’s amateur title in 2005, Wilson was pulled off the golf course due to a battle with cancer.
    Having won her battle with cancer, Wilson said this year she feels ready play on a more regular basis again.
    “Golf is great,” said Wilson. “I started to golf when I was 12. I kept golfing all the way through.
    “I love that sport. I absolutely love it. I was hoping I could keep going on it.
    “I am getting back there now. I am going to go into a few tournaments this year, so we should see.”
Bryan Kosteroski listens to his Hall introduction.
    Also going into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame this year is Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association president Bryan Kosteroski under the builder’s category. Kosteroski has held numerous roles during a lengthy involvement in the city’s softball scene. He was pretty pleased to get the call to the local Sports Hall of Fame.
    “It is very exciting,” said Kosteroski. “I look who is all in the Hall of Fame it gets very overwhelming.”
    Currently, Kosteroski is the volunteer chairperson of the Friends of the Bowl Foundation not-for-profit group, which is continually working to keep refurbishing the Gordie Howe Sports Complex. He said working with the Friends of the Bowl, which was formed in 2013, has been very rewarding.
    “It has been awesome with the people we got to know, the goals we have and the all the sports groups working together,” said Kosteroski. “You don’t see that anywhere in Canada.
    “This project in Saskatoon is something special, and you are going to hear a lot more special things coming upon here in the fall. Working with all these different groups is tremendous.”
    Other athletes that are part of the 2017 Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame class include Cam Baerg in rowing, Erin Cumpstone in softball and ringette, the late Ted Dushinski in football and Joanne Jones Vause in track and field.
Some of the inductees for the 2017 Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
    Also being inducted as builders are late Keith Allen in hockey, Chris Baraniuk in artistic gymnastics and Huw Morris in soccer. 
    The 2007 Canadian Junior Football League champion Saskatoon Hilltops will enter in the team category.
    Curl Saskatoon was named the Sports Organization of the Year by the local Hall of Fame.
    The Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held Nov. 4 at TCU Place.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Nogier took big strides as a rookie pro with Moose and Jets

Nelson Nogier signs autographs as part of a charity event in Saskatoon.
    Nelson Nogier couldn’t ask for much more in his rookie year of professional hockey.
    The 21-year-old defensive defenceman spent most of rookie campaign playing for the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose appearing in 60 games collecting two goals, 11 assists and a minus-five rating in the plus-minus department. The Moose are the farm club of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets
    On March 21, the Saskatoon product made his NHL debut with the Jets, and he helped them pull out a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
    Nogier appeared in 10 games with the Jets posting a minus-one rating.
    “It was an unreal experience,” said Nogier, who played four complete seasons in the WHL with his hometown Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Rebels. “The learning curve and the development process was sped up so much throughout those 10 games that I was up there.
    “I was able to soak in and learn a lot to try and set myself up here for a good summer.”
    Nogier experienced his first big highlight in his first professional regular season game. On Oct. 14, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa, Nogier fired home his first goal helping the visiting Moose down the Iowa Wild 3-1. He scored by keeping things simple.
    “Ryan Olsen passed me the puck out of the corner, and I just pulled it to the middle and threw it on net,” said Nogier. “Sure enough, it went in.”
Nelson Nogier during his days with the Saskatoon Blades.
    Like he did during his time with the Blades and Rebels, Nogier, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 191 pounds, focused on being solid in his own zone and becoming more consistent in his defensive game. He performed well enough that near the end of the campaign he received the break all rookie pros hope for.
    As injuries piled up on the Jets blue-line, Nogier received his call up to the big club.
    The night before he made his NHL debut he called his father, Pat, and mother, Lori, to tell them about the news. Both were able to make it to Winnipeg to see their son play his first regular season game with the big club and also receive some air time on TSN’s broadcast.
    The son will never forget that day.
    “It was amazing,” said Nogier. “For me, that was a dream come true, but to be able to share that with my parents who have had such an important role in my life, it is something that I will cherish forever.
    “Everything about it was kind of a whirlwind. It happened so fast. You’re kind of star struck at times, but you just try to be comfortable about it and go out there and play your game.”
    Another memory wasn’t a total highlight, but it was something Nogier laughs about afterwards. In the second period of a Jets 4-3 home ice overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks, Nogier had his first NHL fight taking on veteran heavyweight forward Jared Boll.
    Boll nailed Jets defenceman Mark Stuart with a high elbow, and Nogier came to the aid of his defence partner. The fight was a short one as Nogier walked into a right hand punch from Boll and went down.
    The rookie came out of that tussle unscathed despite being schooled by the veteran.
    “That was a tough situation,” said Nogier. “It was kind of a high hit on my D-partner, and I tried to step in for him and show the boys that I would be willing to step in for him when I needed to.
Nelson Nogier during his days with the Red Deer Rebels.
    “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but I just tried to hang in there for as long as I could, even though it was a pretty short while.”
    Overall, Nogier was satisfied with his first professional season.
    “It was a good development year for me,” said Nogier, who collected eight goals, 42 assists and 196 minutes in penalties in 235 career regular season games in the WHL. “I came in there from making the jump from junior into the AHL.
    “I did real well and kind of got comfortable with the role I was set to play with the Moose and then obviously earn myself an opportunity where I could try and show that I could play at the next level as well. I just tried to make the most of the opportunity and go from there.”
    Now the hope will be to have a longer stay at the NHL level in his second season of professional hockey.
    “You don’t want to get your hopes to, too, high,” said Nogier. “You never know what you are going to get thrown at when you come into camp.
    “It is just going to be a matter of me making sure I have a strong summer of training here and setting myself up to be in a good position when I come into camp.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to It should be noted that Nogier is my young cousin, and I do cherish the opportunities to write a piece like this.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Is Carter’s bad reputation from the past overblown?

Receiver might be a welcome surprise to Roughriders

Roughriders receiver Duron Carter (#89) high-fives a young fan.
    Is Duron Carter really the bad guy he has been made out to be in the media and even the social media world?
    The 26-year-old is one of the most intriguing arrivals on to the Saskatchewan Roughriders this season. After playing three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes, the picture that has been painted of Carter is one of the diva receiver like in the image of former NFL standouts Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.
    The reputation comes from Carter’s touchdown celebration last season in a game against the Ottawa Redblacks, where he knocked down Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. Carter was suspended one game for that incident by the CFL.
    In the second half of last season, he got into a couple of heated arguments with then Alouettes quarterback Rakeem Cato. Carter was released by the Alouettes following a Week 17 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
    During his collegiate career, Carter, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 205 pounds, was a member of four different programs over four years from 2009 to 2012 due to issues with academics. His stops included Ohio State University (2009), Coffeyville Community College (2010), University of Alabama (2011) and Florida Atlantic University (2012). Carter didn’t dress for a single regular season game during his time at the University of Alabama and Florida Atlantic University.
Duron Carter smiles during practice.
    He entered the collegiate ranks after obtaining star status with St. Thomas Aquanas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, helping that program win back-to-back Florida 5A state titles in 2007 and 2008. Carter’s fan interest also increased due to the fact he was the son of legendary NFL receiver Cris Carter.
    While Cris Carter faced adversity early in his NFL career, the Pro Football Hall of Famer is remembered for achieving greatness due to the fact he became the ultimate polished professional.
    When you see Duron Carter play, you see someone with NFL level talent. He spent the 2015 campaign on the practice roster of the NHL’s Indianapolis Colts.
    In the CFL, Carter has the ability to make explosive and exciting plays few others can in the league. That was seen on Friday, when he made a deep acrobatic catch in double coverage in the first quarter of a 42-10 pre-season loss to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.
    Back on Aug. 16, 2014, Carter showed off his athletic ability returning a missed field goal 123 yards for a touchdown for the Alouettes in a 16-11 loss to the Roughriders at historic Taylor Field.
    He is averaging close to 1,000 yard receiving in each of his first three complete CFL campaigns despite being out for chunks of time and Montreal having uncertainty at quarterback. In 14 games with the Alouettes last season, he had 61 catches for 938 yards and scored five touchdowns.
    During training camp with the Roughriders, Carter’s work ethic has been there. He has been jovial, but he hasn’t gone over the line in bragging like Owens or Johnson traditionally did. When he has been interviewed, he has shown good respect for veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was a former Alouettes teammate.
Duron Carter (#89) makes a TD catch during a scrimmage.
    When young fans arrived from various grade schools to watch Roughriders practice sessions in Saskatoon, Carter seemed to be in his element interacting with the youngsters.     He has done enough in his short time with the Roughriders you start to wonder if his bad press was overblown. 
    Having guys on your team who are jovial and have a lot of self-belief is a good thing. Good players have to believe in themselves in order to succeed. During the history of the CFL, there have been lots of players that have come through the league who have succeeded and been jovial and self-confident like Carter.
    The Roughriders are deep at the receiver position, and Carter is likely the most talented and the best pass catcher of that bunch.
    He might turn out to be a big catch for the team both on and off the field.

Blades colour “Pac-Man” logo for pride festival

    A big thumbs up has to go to the Saskatoon Blades for this sweet Twitter post on June 9.
    The Blades put out this tweet on June 9 to signal the start of the 25th Saskatoon Pride Festival, which included a cool artistic rendering of the team’s classic “Pac-Man” logo in rainbow tinged colours. The tweet contained a link taking you to a web page with information about the festival.
    When it comes showing acceptance for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community, all the little things add up. This tweet was a cool thing to see come from a WHL club.
    While the game on the ice has changed a lot in the WHL over the past two decades with the focus concentrated on systems and skill, there are still a lot of casual followers that see the circuit as a rough and tumble league with three to four fights and possibility a couple of line brawls occurring each game. Stereotypically, circuits like the WHL and men’s hockey in general are viewed as places where men are supposed to men and masculine and aren’t tolerant of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community.
    The tweet by the Blades helps challenge this stereotype.
    Back in the days when I worked at the Medicine Hat News covering the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, I checked out the Pride Parade in Saskatoon in 2012, while in the city on a vacation week. I tweeted a few photos of that event, because the artistic imagery with the colours was just so great.
    When I returned to work at the News, I was talking with a very social conscious co-worker. The co-worker said it was a good thing I tweeted those pictures of Saskatoon’s Pride Parade due to the fact I was known for covering the Tigers and my actions showed others it was OK to be accepting.
    I didn’t think that hard about tweeting those photos, but I liked the fact in a small way it was a public show of acceptance. The Blades Tweet does the same thing.
    It should be noted as well the University of Saskatchewan Huskies put a rainbow flag behind the logo on their Twitter account for the Saskatoon Pride Festival. During the 2015-16 season, the Huskies did a launch to announce they would be part of the “You Can Play Project,” that believes athletes should be judged on talent, heart and work ethic and not sexual orientation or gender identity.
    The Saskatoon Pride Festival runs to June 25, and the annual Pride Parade is set for June 24 at 1 p.m. in downtown Saskatoon.

Fights not fun plagued some Rush post-game parties

Good Rush fans tailgate near SaskTel Centre in 2016.
  The Saskatchewan Rush of the National Lacrosse League put on the best home game spectacle out of any sports team based in Saskatoon, but it seemed this season the positive vibe often didn’t find its way to the after parties.
    During the Rush’s first season being based out of Saskatoon in 2016 that saw the club win the NLL title, fans often bolted out of the SaskTel Centre to Saskatoon’s various night hot spots. They had a great time celebrating what the Rush did like Saskatchewan Roughriders fans do during good times after home games in Regina.
    This season, Rush post-game celebrations seemed to take on a different feel. Back on a Saturday in February, I took off to one of my favourite night spots to see some friends after covering U of Saskatchewan Huskies hockey. Rush lacrosse was going on at the same time that night as Huskies hockey.
    When I arrived at the nightspot, I saw three fights going down in the parking lot and eight police officers trying to calm the situation down. I saw a friend who worked security at the night spot looking super stressed, and I had never seen him like that before.
    Judging the clothes some of the fight participants wore, you could tell they likely attended the Rush game and likely got rowdy after having a few too many alcoholic beverages. I didn’t make it in the doors of the nightspot and instead elected to go home.
    Over the next few weeks, I talked with a handful of friends, who are veterans working in Saskatoon’s night club scene. In general, they said Rush game nights went from being their favourite working nights in 2016 to least favourite working nights in 2017. The change in opinion came from the fact more rowdiness and fights were present in recently completed 2017 campaign.
    That was sad to hear, because I know sports fans in Saskatchewan can be way better than that. Here is hoping Rush post-game parties at local nightspots will return to the vibe they had during the franchise’s first season in Saskatoon.

Carpenter-Boesch has a good hockey tough look

Lilla Carpenter-Boesch.
    I couldn’t believe I didn’t come across this before, but I came away impressed with Lilla Carperter-Boesch’s mug shot on her profile page of the University of Regina athletics web site.
    Carpenter-Boesch was a rookie centre for the Cougars women’s hockey team this past season, and her left eye was looking black from a hockey battle.
    When it comes to picture day for a university team’s individual profile pictures, players from women’s teams usually doll themselves up with makeup to look perfect.
    As for Carpenter-Boesch, she looked like she wanted the share a memento from a hockey battle.
    The mug shot likely would have given the 18-year-old street cred from the alums of the Cougars 2001 Canada West Championship winning team, who always had a sense of pride of being able to battle in the hard areas of the ice.
    On the statistical front, Carpenter-Boesch had a strong season appearing in all 28 of the Cougars U Sports regular season games netting five goals and six assists.
    The Gray, Sask., product was a standout for three seasons with the Regina Rebels of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League from 2013 to 2016 collecting 40 goals and 32 assist in 82 regular season games.
Lilla Carpenter-Boesch (#17) in action for the Cougars.
    She had career highs with 15 goals and 15 assists in her final campaign with the Rebels in 27 regular season games.
    Carpenter-Boesch can go all out to look good for events too that don’t have a rough and tumble aspect to them.
    On April 27 in her hometown, she looked classy-professional good during a visit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
    Between her hockey mug shot and being able to hang out with the prime minister, Carperter-Boesch gets to be a few extra steps ahead of everyone else when it comes to looking and being cool.
    Her picture with Trudeau on the Instagram account of the Cougars women’s hockey team can be found right here.

Let’s hold off on falling sky for “green and white”

Roughriders HC and GM Chris Jones addresses the team after a practice.
    A large number of fans on Rider Nation are definitely being fanatical.
    On Friday night, a lot of Saskatchewan Roughriders supporters were speaking doom and gloom on social media after the team dropped its final pre-season game 42-10 to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver. The doom and gloom voices were at it again on social media, when the Roughriders made their final cuts on Saturday. Among the cuts was veteran running back Anthony Allen, who voiced his displeasure on Twitter.
    The reaction was opposite to when the Roughriders played the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a pre-season 25-25 tie on June 16 at the first CFL game ever held at new Mosaic Stadium in Regina. After that result, it seemed like a number of Roughriders fans were envisioning a playoff berth and maybe even a Grey Cup win at the end of the season.
    Such is the life surrounding the Roughriders, who are the most followed and scrutinized team in the CFL. It seems emotions peak and valley with the club even in the best seasons.
    I would suggesting holding off until after Week 6 of the regular season before passing any judgements or evaluations. As for the loss to the Lions, legendary B.C. head coach and general manager Wally Buono returned a lot of key players and is for sure guiding a team that will contend for a Grey Cup title.
    One thing that is certain is the honeymoon a number of Roughriders fans have with second-year head coach and general manager Chris Jones seems to be over unless positive results start coming. It feels like the pressure is on to produce a playoff berth.
    On paper, it appears the Roughriders have the talent to make the post-season. Injuries will ultimate be the key factor in determining how a season will ultimately progress. The Roughriders open the regular season on Thursday traveling to Montreal to play the Alouettes.
    Away from the field, anyone that interacted with the Roughriders players at their training camp in Saskatoon had to feel encouraged how well-mannered and polite they were. That usually transitions to a good intangible on the field.
    The sky isn’t falling just yet, so let’s get a better sampling size of this year’s team before calling the campaign a write off.

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Eyolfson growing into bigger role with Valkyries

Alex Eyolfson fires a pass downfield for the Valkyries.
    Alex Eyolfson had trouble grasping that the Western Women’s Canadian Football League season was over, but the 19-year-old quarterback was pumped her team went out on a high.
    On Saturday at Saskatoon Minor Football Field, the host Saskatoon Valkyries downed the Edmonton Storm 44-20 in WWCFL consolation final. The win allowed the Valkyries to finish the campaign with a 5-2 overall record, while the Storm were 2-4 overall.
    The Valkyries played their seven games over seven consecutive weeks without a bye week. While Eyolfson was pleased her team went out on a winning note, the graduate of Saskatoon’s Holy Cross High School said it felt different that the season was over.
Alex Eyolfson (#15) rolls out of the pocket for the Valkyries.
    “It went by so fast,” said Eyolfson. “It was so condensed.
    “We all need a break now. It was a good hard season. It is crazy. It went by in like a month and a half.”
    After the Valkyries received a consolation plaque, the Regina Riot took the field for the WWCFL championship game and blanked the Calgary Rage 53-0. The Riot claimed their second WWCFL title in three years.
    The Valkyries claimed the WWCFL championship last year. Their quest to repeat came to an end with a 34-24 WWCFL Prairie Conference championship game loss to the Riot on June 4 at Taylor Field in Regina. That contest was the final competitive tackle football game played at the fabled facility.
    Eyolfson admitted there was a bit of a sad feeling that her team wasn’t playing in the WWCFL title game.
    “Definitely, we are all disappointed,” said Eyolfson. “We could have had that game.
Alex Eyolfson (#15) calls out signals for the Valkyries.
    “We went into this game just going it is our mission go play, go win and finish off the season on a strong note.”
    The Valkyries did just that on Saturday, with Eyolfson completing 7-of-14 passes for 82 yards, two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Both of her touchdown throws came in the first quarter.
    The sophomore signal caller hit sophomore receiver Alyssa Wiebe for an eight-yard strike at the 1:42 mark of the first quarter to put the Valkyries up 7-0. With 1:49 to play in the first quarter, she hit Jaime Lammerding, who plays both offensive and defensive line, for a two-yard TD toss that got the Valkyries bench rocking.
    Lammerding is one of four players to play in all seven seasons the Valkyries have existed, and her touchdown score was the first of her career. The catch increased the Valkyries lead to 20-0. Saskatoon’s other seven-year members included linebacker Beth Thomson, defensive back Tori Giles and defensive lineman Lori Smith.
    In between Eyolfson’s touchdown tosses, kicker Carly Dyck nailed field goals from 30 and 35 yards out.
    The Valkyries also did a few other different things in their final outing. Wiebe played quarterback for a series completing one of her two pass attempts hooking up with receiver Kelsey Murphy for a 38-yard gain.
Jaime Lammerding (#21) celebrates her TD reception for the Valkyries.
    Rookie Devyn Peters, who turned heads playing linebacker and defensive back this season, was inserted at running back, and she carried the ball 15 times for 218 yards and scored two touchdowns.
    “We just wanted to go out and have fun and play hard our last game,” said Eyolfson. “It was fun like getting Devyn (Peters) in at running back, and she got two touchdowns.
    “It was good to get (Alyssa) Wiebe in too at quarterback.”
    Edmonton did make the consolation final interesting. With 10.8 seconds to play in the first quarter, Storm running back Brenna Bouchard ran in a major from 18 yards out to cut the Valkyries lead to 20-7.
    Early in the second quarter, Storm quarterback Aria McGowan ran in a touchdown from 36 yards out to further shrink the Valkyries edge to 20-13. Edmonton’s conversion attempt failed after that score.
Devyn Peters (#31) had a monster game rushing.
    The Valkyries surged back up to hold a 34-13 lead thanks to rushing majors coming from Peters from 12 yards out and Melanie Harris from one yard out.
    As the second quarter expired, Storm running back Sarah Deutscher ran in a score from a yard out to trim the Valkyries edge to 34-20.
    The Valkyries rounded out the game’s scoring in the third quarter with a 37 field goal from Dyck and a spectacular 73 yard touchdown run from Peters.
    McGowan completed 9-of-24 passes for 163 yards and one interception for the Storm. She ran the ball eight times for 134 yards.
    Due to numerous injuries the team sustained this season, the Valkyries had a number of new faces playing new roles like Peters and running back Ricki Obed. Eyolfson enjoyed seeing how everyone improved.
    “A lot of girls stepped up, and we played like amazing,” said Eyolfson. “We stepped up played for the injured players.
    “For sure it was a hit to our team, but like girls stepped up and played awesome. It was great.”
    Eyolfson took big strides as well. During her rookie year last season, she split time at quarterback with Reed Thorstad for the majority of the campaign.
Alyssa Wiebe tears upfield after a pass reception.
    Eyolfson went the distance in that year’s WWCFL Prairie Conference championship game completing 10-of-18 passes for 151 yards and four touchdowns in a 29-14 win over the Riot.
    This year as a sophomore, Eyolfson was the Valkyries starter all season and went the distance in their two regular season matches with the Riot and the playoffs outside of Wiebe’s one series in the WWCFL consolation final.
    On May 21, Eyolfson hit Murphy for an eight-yard winning touchdown pass with seven seconds to play to lift the Valkyries to a 20-17 regular season win over the Riot at Taylor Field.
    That moment at the storied stadium, which is best known as the long-time home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, was a huge season highlight.
    “Winning in the last minute and getting that pass, that was something I won’t forget,” said Eyolfson.
    The best might still be coming for Eyolfson whose command and presence in the huddled has grown immensely the past two seasons.
The Valkyries celebrate their WWCFL consolation final win on Saturday.
    As she turns 20 in September, she doesn’t plan on walking away from football just yet.
    “I love it,” said Eyolfson, who studies kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan. “I will be playing at least a few more years. We will see.
    “I love all the girls. We made friends for life. It is just great playing with this group of girls.
    “They work so hard, and we all work for each other. It is amazing, and they are awesome.”

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Kuster steps into spotlight in Riot’s WWCFL title win

Payton Kuster (#22) celebrates her second punt return touchdown.
    Payton Kuster had her finest hour to help bring a second Western Women’s Canadian Football League championship to the Regina Riot.
    The sophomore kick returner/defensive back ran back two punts for touchdowns and hauled in two interceptions on defence to help the Riot blank the Calgary Rage 53-0 in the WWCFL championship game on Saturday night at Saskatoon Minor Football Field in Saskatoon. 
    She was also named the game’s MVP for the Riot in the runaway win, which marked the second time Regina claimed the league title in three years.
    Kuster wasn’t part of the Riot’s first championship back in 2015, so she was pretty perky happy about playing in Saturday’s championship victory.
Payton Kuster returns a punt for a score.
    “Our whole team each and every one of us we’ve worked so hard,” said Kuster. “This is what we talked about since the beginning of the season of achieving.
    “It is what we have been putting in all our hours on the field and training for. It is just so wonderful to have it pay off.”
    Being the game MVP added a nice little bonus to the whole night.
    “I’m speechless. I’m at a loss for words,” said Kuster. “I’m so thankful for this team and all the girls that have worked hard.
    “We did it. It is incredible.”
    Kuster had her big day on a night when the Riot won feasting off Rage errors. The Riot only put up 106 yards of net offence in the romp.
    Kuster actually outgained her offensive team returning three punts for 133 yards. That included her 67 yard punt return for a touchdown and her 54 yard return for a score.
    The Rage turned the ball over 10 times, while the Riot gave the ball away twice. That ultimately played a huge part producing the final outcome of the contest.
    Regina got its first touchdown to go up 7-0 just 1:40 into the first quarter on a one-play drive, where veteran star quarterback Aimee Kowalski hit rookie receiver Jennilea Coppola with a four-yard TD strike. That possession was set up by a bad Rage snap on a punt, which allowed the Riot to get the ball on the Calgary four.
Aimee Kowalski (#12) throws one of her four TD passes for the Riot.
    A short time later, Riot running back Carmen Agar ran the ball in from 10 yards out to put Regina up 14-0. That drive was set up, when the Rage fumbled away a punt return allowing the Riot to take the ball on the Calgary 10.
    The Rage fumbled the ball away on their next offensive possession allowing the Riot to start a dive on the Calgary 20. Kowalski hit rookie receiver Jenna Koller for a 20-yard touchdown strike to put Regina up 21-0.
    Things kept snowballing from there.
    On the next Rage possession, they had another bad snap on a punt to allow the Riot to take possession on the Calgary eight. Kowalski connected with veteran receiver Rachelle Smith for an eight-yard touchdown throw.
Jennilea Coppola had two TD catches in the Riot’s win.
    Regina made a two-point convert on a fake extra point, where running back Mallory Starkey connected with offensive lineman Angie Douville on a five-yard toss to make the score 29-0 in the Riot’s favour.
    Regina scored again before the first quarter ended. After the Rage failed to convert a third down gamble, the Riot put together a short 32-yard touchdown drive, where Kowalski hit Coppola on a 12-yard strike to allow Regina to lead 36-0.
    Kuster was surprised to see how that first quarter transpired.
    “It is crazy how it happened so high paced,” said Kuster. “At the end of the day, we’ve prepared for those situations, and we capitalized on them.
    “Everyone played their fullest. Everyone did their job perfectly. It was amazing.”
    When the second quarter started, she ran home her two punt return scores down the right sideline to put the Riot up 50-0.
    “I had 11 girls blocking for me,” said Kuster. “They opened up huge holes.
    “It was perfect. It feels unreal.”
    Kowalski was pulled from the game with the 8:23 to play in the second quarter and the Riot holding a 50-0 lead. She completed 6-of-7 passes for 53 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Riot DB Emilie Belanger (#27) helps sack Rage QB Becky Heninger.
    The Rage conceded a safety touch before the first half ended to give the Riot a 52-0 lead. Regina’s final score came from a 35 yard punt single from kicker Morgan Turner late in the fourth quarter to make the final outcome 53-0.
    The Riot finished the campaign with a 6-1 overall record, and Saturday’s game marked the fourth shutout victory of the season for the team. The Rage, who finish with a 4-1 overall mark, were only able to put up 18 yards of net offence.
    Linebacker Courtney Dawson was named the game MVP for the Rage.
    Riot defensive lineman Chantal Vogel had five solo tackles and two sacks in her team’s victory.
    Star Riot linebacker Adrienne Zuck had five total solo tackles, a fumble recovery and shared a sack with defensive back Emilie Belanger in the win. Zuck said her team had a season on defence where everything came together.
    “I think that we have a good coaching staff,” said Zuck. “We have a lot of veteran players as well.
Riot defensive end Aly Bell takes down a Rage ball carrier.
    “A lot of our new players are just good athletes, quick learners and smart people. We really try to push hard work and playing to the end even at practice. It pays off obviously.”
    After being part of the Riot’s 2015 WWCFL championship team, Zuck returned to the Riot after taking 2016 off. She enjoyed being part of the second championship win.
    “It feels good to come back and just see the team continue to grow and get better and being a part of it and watching these new people to get a chance to play as well,” said Zuck. “It is great.”
    As far as the Riot’s overall success was concerned in 2017, Zuck credited first-year head coach Olivier Eddie, who had been the team’s offensive coordinator previously, for focusing on bringing everyone together as a team.
The Riot are all smiles after their WWCFL championship win.
    “I think everybody bought into it and everybody believed that and that is what I think made us such a good unit as a whole team,” said Zuck. “We are family.
    “We believe in family. We believe in what our message is. Our success has shown that.”
    In the WWCFL consolation final that was played right before the Riot’s win, the Saskatoon Valkyries downed the Edmonton Storm 44-20.

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Friday, 9 June 2017

Rage make history in run to WWCFL title game

The Rage defensive line gets set.
    In 2017, the Calgary Rage have gone to places they have never gone before, and they don’t want to stop just yet.
    The Rage had by far their most successful campaign in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League posting their first undefeated 4-0 regular season record. With three teams active in the circuit’s Western Conference this season, the first place finish gave the Rage their first conference title and first berth in the WWCFL championship game.
    Calgary travels to Saskatoon on Saturday to face the Prairie Conference champion Regina Riot, who are 5-1 overall, at 8:30 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field for the league championship. The championship game follows a consolation final between the Saskatoon Valkyries, who are 4-2 overall, and the Edmonton Storm, who are 2-3 overall, which is set for 5:15 p.m. at SMF Field.
    For veteran running back Erin Walton, the 2017 campaign has been the fulfillment of a dream so far. She joined the Rage for their first season in 2009, which was two years before the formation of the WWCFL.
    Walton played for Canada’s silver medal winning team at the 2013 International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in Vantaa, Finland, and while the individual success was great, she desperately wanted to be part of a special season with the Rage.
    When the Rage downed the Storm in Edmonton 34-29 on May 27 to finish the regular season at 4-0 and clinch a berth in the WWCFL title game, Walton said her team made sure to enjoy the moment, but they don’t want to stop there.
    “We really took a couple of days to celebrate that,” said Walton over the phone from Calgary. “We had a lot of fun as a team celebrating that win, and we really enjoyed ourselves.
    “The message has been it is not over. It feels great to achieve something we have never done in our club’s history. We’re really going to take the time to celebrate that and enjoy it in the off-season.
    “Until the season is over, we are not done. We’re looking to make even more history. We just have to believe we can do it and work hard for it.”
QB Becky Heninger has been a big addition to the Rage roster.
    The Rage entered the season with a new look coaching staff with Carlo Iannuzzi installed as the head coach and offensive coordinator. He was the club’s defensive coordinator last season and an offensive assistant in 2015. Iannuzzi oversees a six-person staff.
    The bench boss knows his side is fighting history in the WWCFL championship game as the circuit’s first six title contests have been won either by the Valkyries or the Riot. The Valkyries won it all from 2011 to 2014 and 2016. The Riot claimed the WWCFL title in 2015.
    Iannuzzi said the Rage want to be the first team to bring the WWCFL title to Alberta, and he knows how big of a challenge it will be.
    “It is going to be monumental,” said Iannuzzi over the phone from Calgary. “We understand the task at hand too, but that is why this is a championship game.
    “They’ve earned the right to be there, because they are a good football team. We understand that. We’re not looking at this as an impossible challenge.
    “As far as I’m concerned as soon as the ball kicks off it is anybody’s game. We just have to keep our emotions in check.”
    The Rage’s fortunes received a boost when veteran star quarterback Becky Heninger joined the team. Heninger played for the Lethbridge Steel from 2012 to 2014 and the Steel made the WWCFL final in each of those campaigns falling to the Valkyries each time out. She played quarterback the first two seasons and all over the field for her third season before other life commitments took her away from the game.
    “It all starts with Becks at quarterback,” said Iannuzzi. “She has a great arm.
    “She connects really deep downfield with our receiver Alicia Wilson. It is really awesome to see how those two have jelled together,”
    Heninger and Wilson will play for Canada at the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship, which runs June 24 to 30 in Langley, B.C.
    Running back Tolu Fasuba and receiver Diane Nesbitt, who played for the Riot’s 2015 WWCFL championship team, are also a couple of big offensive threats for the Rage.
Erin Walton (#21) catches a pass for the Rage.
    Iannuzzi said the team’s front five really make the offence motor.
    “We’re able to do things on the offence, because we a dedicated offensive line,” said Iannuzzi. “They are so studious at the game, and they are always working hard to get better.
    “They never quit on anybody too. The play really starts and ends with the offensive line.
    “As an offensive coach, I have complete faith in the five that we have up there too. They protect Becks incredibly well, and they will open up some awesome running lanes too.”
    On defence, the Rage have a linebacker that will turn heads quickly playing the role of a terminator.
    “On the defensive side of the ball, it all starts and ends with Courtney Dawson,” said Iannuzzi. “You can’t miss her. She just has a nose for the ball.
    “She is ruthless. She is relentless. She is everything that a coach wants out of a linebacker.”
    Robyn Tarrant anchors the defensive line at defensive tackle. She stood out at Football Canada’s inaugural Senior National Women’s Championship tournament held last year in Regina. Tarrant played a key role helping Alberta post a 30-12 bronze medal game victory over New Brunswick.
    “I think her performance in the bronze medal game against New Brunswick was one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Iannuzzi. “She is a good foundation for us to have on the D-line.”
    Alyssa Quinney supplies a good rush from her defensive end spot, and safety Tatrina Medvescek-Valentine and defensive back Jennifer Mclean are the backbone of a tough secondary.
    While the players have delivered a stellar season for the Rage, Walton said Iannuzzi and his coaching staff have been outstanding in bringing everything together.
    “He (Iannuzzi) likes to have fun when we play football, and I think that is an important aspect of football,” said Walton. “Sometimes, that takes a little time to build.
    “There is a fine line between fun and not being productive and fun and being productive. He has been a really good addition to our club, and he has brought that kind of next step coaching that we have always been looking for.
    “I think one of the biggest things for us was that we just committed to just trying bring the vision of what our coaches wanted us to do to life.”
The Rage raise the Western Conference championship trophy.
    Now the only thing left for the Rage to do is add the finishing touch to their dream season, which would be capturing the WWCFL title. Having once lived in Regina, Walton knows her side is in for a battle against the Riot.
    “It is going to the hardest game of the season for a reason,” said Walton. “You don’t get to the championship game and not expect to be playing the best other team.
    “They are the best team that came out of their conference. We are the best team that came out of our conference. I’ve known a lot of players on that team for a lot of years, and I’ve got some great friends on that team.
    “The only thing going through my mind is man I just want to beat them, because I know if we can beat them we’ve beaten the best and that makes us the best.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to All the photos in this post are courtesy of Candice Ward Photography in Calgary. Stanks’ Sermon passes on a huge thanks to Candice Ward Photography for the photos of the Rage.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Agar more than just a power running back for Riot

Carmen Agar (#23) of the Riots gets past Shaylyn de Jong of the Valkyries.
    It might sound cliché, but Carmen Agar of the Regina Riot is like the Energizer Bunny, because she just keeps going and going.
    The 24-year-old power tailback is in her sixth season running mainly in between the tackles for the Riot. In churning out yards in a cloud of dust, Agar absorbs a large share of hits, but she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
    She is consistent too. Whenever the Riot hit a rut moving the ball offensively, they give the ball to #23 and the team always seems to get going again.
    While her ability to run over the opposition is her calling card, Agar is actually a very complete running back. That was seen in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League Prairie Conference championship game on Sunday, when the host Riot downed the defending WWCFL champion Saskatoon Valkyries 34-24 in the last competitive tackle football game ever played at Taylor Field.
Riot RB Carmen Agar (#23) pushes past Nichole LaVallee of the Valkyries.
    Agar carried the ball 13 times for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns along the ground. She also caught four passes for 50 yards to lead the Riot in both of those categories.
    What sometimes can get lost is the fact Agar can take off in the open field, and she has excellent hands catching passes out of the backfield. If the Riot ever needed it, Agar could have the type of game where she gets over 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.
    On top of her abilities to gain yards, Agar can block as well and allow Riot star quarterback Aimee Kowalski to get the ball out to a group of talented receivers.
    Agar played a key role in helping the Riot return to the WWCFL title game for the second time in three years. Regina claimed the WWCFL title in 2015 defeating the Edmonton Storm 53-6 in Winnipeg.
Carmen Agar (#23) throws a block on a running play.
    The Riot, who are 5-1 overall, face the Calgary Rage, who are 4-0 overall, on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in this year’s WWCFL title game at Saskatoon Minor Football Field in Saskatoon. The Valkyries, who are 4-2 overall, take on the Edmonton Storm, who are 2-3 overall, in a consolation final at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday at SMF Field.
    In Sunday’s win over the Valkyries, Agar helped get momentum back on the Riot’s side, when her team needed it the most. After Regina took a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter, Saskatoon stormed back with 13 straight points to cut the host’s edge to 21-16 going into the fourth quarter.
    Early in the fourth quarter, Riot linebacker Artemis Kouropoulou blocked a punt from Valkyries receiver/kicker Carly Dyck near midfield. 
Carmen Agar, middle, scores her second TD in the WWCFL Prairie final.
    Agar went to work churning out yards on the ground and scoring her second major of the game to put the hosts up 28-16. Momentum was back on the Regina’s side, and that surge helped push the Riot to victory.
    On the field, Agar looks to be in the best physical shape she has ever been in, and the 2017 campaign has the potential to be a very memorable one. Besides the chance to help the Riot win a second WWCFL title, Agar will play for Canada at the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship, which runs June 24 to 30 in Langley, B.C., with eight of her Riot teammates.
    Aimee Kowalski, her sister Alex Kowalski, Kouropoulou, Adrienne Zuck, Ashley Viklund, Katie Hungle, Claire Dore and Emilie Belanger will all be on the Canadian team. 
Carmen Agar (#23) celebrates a TD with her teammates.
    Riot head coach Olivier Eddie will be the special teams coordinator and receivers coach for the national team.
    Last year, Agar had a strong showing on the national stage at Football Canada’s in augural Senior Women’s National Championship tournament, which was held in Regina. In the event’s championship game, Agar piled up 137 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored a touchdown to help Team Saskatchewan down Team Quebec 34-22.
    It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Agar turn heads on the international stage later this month.
    Agar keeps on going and keeps getting better. There is no telling how good she may get.

Madden football a preferable house visit from Roughriders

The Roughriders do a cheer after their mock game last Saturday.
    Hmm…. If I had members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders over to my place for a social get together, I think I would prefer a Madden video game football party over dinner.
    Knowing how offensive and defensive lineman can eat, I think having a Madden party would be a wiser social encounter. For football teams at all levels, normally one of the common away from the game bonding experiences is playing Madden football at someone’s house.
    When everyone arrives, everyone throws in money for pizza or takeout. Often, the Madden party is done on the cheat day, when it comes to getting a break from eating healthy.
    So you are liking this baby that came out of the blue?
    I got the inspiration to write that when I received a trio of emails on Monday saying Saskatchewan Roughriders play-by-play voice Rod Pedersen was taking shots at me. I checked his blog post on Monday and got a chuckle over it. I think the “taking shots” idea might have been a little overblown.
    Anyways, Pedersen was responding to a blog post I posted on June 1 regarding familiarity with players on the Roughriders roster. He wrote that he took “umbrage” with a “Who are these guys” comment I wrote.
    There was a mention about getting over the fact that players like Darian Durant, John Chick, Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf are no longer with the team. On a side note, the Roughriders still haven’t played a regular season game since Durant’s rights were traded to the Montreal Alouettes in January.
    Pedersen also didn’t mention my name in his piece.
    He asked if I expected the current Roughriders to show up at my place for dinner.
    That expectation never crossed my mind or was it ever expected, but like late CFL icon Cal Murphy, I don’t mind being the host for a visit. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could match Murphy’s level at being a real good host. I’ve visited Murphy at home, so I would know.
    With that said, my mind began to think about a possible good team bonding activity. I figured a Madden football party would be perfect.
    I remember NFL legend Brett Favre saying jokingly in an interview once there are guys in the pros that likely know their Madden playbooks better than their actual playbooks. The comment reveals how addictive that game can be even for grown men.
    During Madden parties with football teams, I always find guys get into situations where they like to tease each other in a good-natured way or just have overall fun cheering big plays.
    The only downfall is all the versions of Madden I have are older ones. Life kinds of gets in the way of pursuits like playing video games.
    My newest version is Madden 11 for the Playstation 2. 
    I have four versions of Madden for the Sega Genesis including a cartridge of the original Madden football.
My collection of Madden football games.
    If you want to really go down memory lane and see a real blast from the past in video football game history, I could dig out the old Nintendo Entertainment System to play “Tecmo Super Bowl.”
    I could see that developing into situations where guys are using the Los Angeles Raiders to play the Los Angeles Raiders, because everyone knows Bo Jackson is “The Truth” in that game.
    Hey, it would definitely provide a break from Roughriders practices and video study sessions.
    Actually during the regular season, the Roughriders communications department should do a story about who is the best at Madden football on the team. It would make for hilarious video.
    On the dinner front, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with an individual player getting a meal in the lounge of a nice restaurant, where sports is on television. Back in 2011, I had a great impromptu dinner with then Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Lance Frazer at the Earl’s lounge on the east side of Regina the night before that year’s Labour Day Classic.
    We had a great visit and talked about all sorts of subjects. To top things off, the Roughriders won the next day.
    In Saskatoon, Cactus Club Café is a great classy spot to pick up a nice meal. That spot has traditionally been great bring members of the Saskatoon Valkyries women’s football team and the Saskatoon Hilltops Canadian Junior Football League team on as staff, so eating there helps those individuals out too.
    The players I would like to eat out with at the Cactus Club Café with would be receiver Duron Carter or receiver Nic Demski. From Carter, I would love to hear his take on what the interactions between his father, legendary NFL receiver Cris Carter, and colourful late NFL coach Buddy Ryan were actually like.
    As for Demski, he once played for the University of Manitoba Bisons football team, so I would love to hear more comical stories involving Bisons head coach Brian Dobie.
    I have a few stories Murphy told me that I always get pumped to retell to anyone of any walk of life.
    On the serious front, I know how much of a CFL players’ time is eaten away with preparation. Anytime you get a free moment, you dash to spend it with family. If social interactions occur with players, they will develop over time.
    The interactions I’ve had with Roughriders players in the past have all developed over time as part of regular life.
    As far as my “Who are these guys” line goes, that is an old Sun Media tabloid technique reflective of that company’s days before being owned by Postmedia. It was the eye-catching and maybe over the top line to draw a person into the piece. I believe it worked.
    I think I did a good job in that piece painting a picture of that moment in time about a fan’s difficulty in figuring the “who is who” on the Roughriders. That realization hit me the first time I saw the team live at a workout. A few fans in public have come up to me and shared those same comments.
    Of course, you always have people that don’t agree with what you say, and I am all good with it.
    Pedersen’s line with the dinner reference also reflects Sun media-type tabloid writing before that company was purchased by Postmedia.
    When it comes to writing about the Roughriders in his blog, Pedersen will at times have the tone of “us against the world” towards those that write anything that is viewed at taking a shot towards the current team and also fall extremely heavily on the homer side.
An all-time classic video game.
    Hey, a sizable minority of Roughriders fans exist that have an “us against the world” attitude when it comes to following the team if you say anything against the team. To me it is all fun and good.
    There are a number of fans that identify with what Pedersen writes, and I enjoy what he writes. It is all part of the game.
    There are a lot of times when any type of bad comments or press are good business. I know a lot of bosses at big mainstream media companies usually direct employees to ignore individuals that have exited from the mainstream to keep those individuals out of sight and out of mind. That includes individuals that are members of sports Hall of Fames.
    Pedersen’s brief post sent a few readers my way even if my name wasn’t mentioned, so I thank him for that. Plus, it allowed me to have fun writing this part of my post.
    If you want to see my post regarding familiarity of cheering on the Roughriders, you can do so by clicking here.
    If you want to see the part in Pedersen’s post about what I wrote, it is point “number nine” and you find it by clicking here.

Blades prospect Maier off to Hockey Canada goalie camp

    Saskatoon Blades prospect goaltender Nolan Maier will get a chance to ingrain himself on Hockey Canada’s radar.
    The 16-year-old product from Yorkton, Sask., will be one of 30 netminders that will take part on Hockey Canada’s 12th annual Program of Excellence goaltending camp. The camp starts Friday and runs through to Sunday in Calgary.
    Maier, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 160 pounds, will be one of 16 goalies looking to earn a spot at Canada’s national under-17 development camp later on this summer.
    The Blades selected Maier in the second round and 25th overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. As a 15-year-old rookie in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, he had a strong campaign with the Yorkton Rawtec Maulers posting a 13-9 record, a 2.72 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.
    Maier represented Team Saskatchewan at the Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup in October of 2016.
    If Maier can keep improving, he could help the Blades potentially set up one of those more welcome situations for the coming season in goal at the major junior level, where you have an older starting goalie paired with a young apprentice goalie. That would mean pairing Maier with overage netminder Logan Flodell, who named to a WHL Eastern Conference second team all-star last season.
    With that noted, there is always the potential for things to happen between now and when training camp begins typically in the second half of August.
    There are a few goaltenders with WHL experience at the Hockey Canada Camp. Carl Stankowski of the Seattle Thunderbirds is one of seven netminders there at the under-18 level. Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips, Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders and Stuart Skinner of the Lethbridge Hurricanes are part of the group of seven netminders that are at the under-19 level.
    Hart was a member of Canada’s world junior team last season. Hart played in the gold medal game at the last world juniors on Jan. 5 in Montreal, where Canada fell 5-4 after a tiebreaking shootout to the United States.

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