Friday, 30 June 2017

Blades grad Shynkaruk would be great add to hockey Huskies

Jesse Shynkaruk (#14) celebrates scoring a goal for the Blades last season.
    Jesse Shynkaruk and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team would be a great match for each other, if that ultimately comes to pass.
    The 21-year-old centre exhausted his WHL eligibility last season playing for his hometown Saskatoon Blades. He had a breakout year netting career highs in goals (31), assists (25) and points (56) in 58 regular season games. Shynkaruk came through in the clutch as 10 of his tallies ended up being game winners.
    In his first three major junior seasons split between the Kamloops Blazers and Moose Jaw Warriors, Shynkaruk appeared in 196 regular season games recording 23 goals and 25 assists.
    Recently, Tyler Wawryk, who is the Blades manager of communications and community relations, caught up with Shynkaruk and inquired if the speedy forward was going to join the Huskies. Shynkaruk said he was one of three players battling for two spots on the Huskies.
    It would be great if both Shynkaruk and the Huskies could make things work out. Shynkaruk did so well last season with the Blades you almost wish he had one more season to play in the major junior ranks.
    With that said, a number of factors come into play when it comes to a major junior player joining a U Sports team. Thanks to two strong recruiting classes from the past two seasons, the Huskies have a fairly deep team. They came up just short of winning a Canada West title and dropped a 5-3 decision to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in the U Sports championship game.
    Shynkaruk, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 171 pounds, would bring a number of good intangibles to the Huskies. One is the fact he would likely really appreciate being on the team. Heading into training camp last season, Shynkaruk was without a major junior home after being released by the Warriors.
    Had he not made the Blades as a walk on player, the likelihood was high Shynkaruk’s time in major junior hockey would have been over.
Jesse Shynkaruk (#14) sets up for a scoring chance for the Blades.
    With the Blades, Shynkaruk rediscovered some of offensive touch from his final midget AAA season, when he netted 22 goals and 29 assists in 43 regular season games with the Saskatoon Contacts in the 2012-13 campaign. Shynkaruk helped the Blades make a serious push for a playoff berth.
    The Blades ultimately finished ninth overall in the WHL’s Eastern Conference and five points back of a playoff berth with a 28-35-7-2 record. Shynkaruk became a fan favourite, and he was also a good representative for the team at community events.
    When the Blades were on the road, he consistently left a good impression with the media that worked in other WHL cities. That has to be viewed as impressive, because Shynkaruk doesn’t get to interact with media members in other WHL centres on a regular basis like he does with the media members in Saskatoon. He always left a good impression with the hometown media members as well.
    After his final home game on March 17 when the Blades downed the archrival Prince Albert Raiders 5-3, Shynkaruk gave a heartfelt final post-game press scrum to the media in attendance. From that press scrum, it was easy to tell Shynkaruk generally cared about what was going on.
    Under the WHL scholarship plan, Shynkaruk doesn’t have to play with a U Sports team to use the four years of paid post-secondary schooling he has earned. If he wanted to, he could just attend a post-secondary institution and focus just on classes.
    For every season a player plays in the WHL, that player receives a scholarship package that sees all his tuition, compulsory fees and textbooks paid for a school year. Shynkaruk has four school years of paid tuition, compulsory fees and textbooks to use.
    As it stands, Shynkaruk would be a great addition to the Huskies or any other U Sports team. The hometown fans have to hope he will wear the “green and white” in the fall.

Blades pump out Monday updates

    For a little over a month the Saskatoon Blades have been pumping out Monday updates on their website, and they have been pretty well done.
    Tyler Wawryk, who is the team’s manager of communications and community relations, has been crafting the updates. The writing part reflects a style you once saw in WHL notebooks, which were commonly produced in mainstream media outlet newspapers. With these outlets often being cut to one or two staffers, the WHL notebook is rarely seen these days.
    The Blades update gives a roundup of various happening with the team and the club’s alums. The notebook points are usually accompanied by graphics.
    With most mainstream outlets in Canada having undergone severe cuts, the pressure falls on teams like the WHL’s Blades to do more coverage on themselves through their own website and social media platforms. The same holds true for every high level competitive sports program in Canada that is not an NHL franchise.
    Ultimately, Canadian sports leagues need to follow the lead of NFL teams, which have been covering themselves on a league and individual franchise basis for at least two decades. The NFL was pretty much the first league that did a lot of media coverage on itself on the Internet in the late 1990s.
    While most to almost all Canadian elite sports teams or groups do not have anywhere near the money the NFL brings in, the cold reality is they have to cover themselves, if they want to have a bigger presence in the public. Fans will read and view what is posted.
    The Blades have done a good job in trying out different tweaks on their website and social media platforms. The Monday update is a nice addition. I imagine creating all this content makes Wawryk extremely busy, so here is hoping he can keep it up.
    The last Monday update can be round here.

Love the vintage look


    When the Saskatoon Blades put out their Twitter post announcing their home opener against the Swift Current Broncos, you had to love the graphic that contained the classic logos.
Braylon Shmyr looks to make a pass for the Blades.
    Actually during the off-season, the Blades have gone full out using their vintage blue and goal “Pac-Man” logo that was the team’s primary look through the 1980s and early 1990s. The team’s website was changed to use the retro blue and gold colour scheme as a primary look as well.
    The Blades have used the retro jerseys with the old “Pac-Man” logo as an alternate for some time. Among the team’s fans, that has always been the most popular look, and there has been a longing to make the retro jerseys the club’s full-time look once again.
    While official word hasn’t come yet, it seems with all the hints this will come to pass.
    Actually over the last decade, a number of pro teams in all sports and major junior teams have reverted to a past look, which has been received with a lot of praise. The Blades face one of those teams opening the regular season against the Broncos on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre.
    Before the start of the 2014-15 campaign, the Broncos ditched their black and blue modern looking jerseys for their classic blue, green and white look with the horseshoe, bucking bronco logo. The Broncos had this look when the franchise returned to Swift Current in 1986 after spending 12 seasons in Lethbridge. The switch to the retro look has been popular with Broncos fans.
Tyler Steenbergen zips into the offensive zone for the Broncos.
    This past season, the look was part of many pieces coming together for a Broncos revival. Other things that have powered the revival is the fact Sheldon Kennedy, who was the captain of the Broncos 1989 Memorial Cup winner, has been back to Swift Current a number of times in recent years and labelled as a real Canadian hero for his public work on the child advocacy front over the years.
    The small city also built a beautiful monument to remember players Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff who died in a team bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986.  The monument is located near the crash site on the outskirts of town.
    All of these things have come together to give the Broncos a new level of support the team likely hasn’t seen in some time. The Credit Union i-Plex, which is the Broncos home rink, was likely the loudest building in the WHL playoffs last season. Swift Current advanced to the second round and lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Regina Pats.
    It is always cool when a team brings a popular past look back into the future.

Brooks showing small guys can still play

Adam Brooks signed with the NHL’s Maple Leafs
    Recently graduated Regina Pats captain Adam Brooks had a moment which seemed at one point in time it might not come to pass.
    On Thursday, Brooks signed a three year NHL entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 21-year-old Winnipeg product was selected in the fourth round and 92nd overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Leafs.
    Brooks graduated from the Pats as one of the club’s most beloved heart and soul players. Over five seasons, he played in 317 regular season games collecting 119 goals and 216 assists. His 335 career regular season points make him the 10th all-time leading scorer in Pats history.
    The skilled centre stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 175 pounds, and for a while, it seemed like the NHL started drifting away from players that didn’t stand at least 6-feet in height and be at least 200 pounds in weight.
    Brooks topped the WHL in scoring as a 19-year-old in 2015-16 netting 38 goals and 82 assists playing in all 72 regular season games. Despite his stellar season and being arguably one of the top three forwards in the league, it was conceivable Brooks might not be drafted. The fact the Leafs picked him was a big milestone.
    He returned to Regina to captain the Pats as an overager collecting 43 goals and 87 assists to finish a point behind teammate Sam Steel for the WHL scoring lead. Brooks helped the Pats top the WHL’s overall standings at 52-12-7-1 and advance to the WHL Championship series, where they fell 4-2 in a best-of-seven set to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
    The fact Brooks signed NHL contract is another big milestone. With the Leafs having Mike Babcock as head coach, Brooks a real look to one day make the NHL.
    His story has to give confidence to other players that are short in stature. In this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected Spokane Chiefs winger Kailer Yamamoto in the first round and 22nd overall. Yamamoto, who turns 19 in September, stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 146 pounds. Despite being small, he piled up 42 goals and 57 assists in 65 regular season games this past season with the Chiefs, who are his hometown WHL team.
    The winger established himself as one of the WHL’s most exciting players. He might get to duplicate his accomplishments in the professional ranks one day.

Getting Semenko a piece of video history

Dave Semenko, back row centre, in an old Oilers team picture.
    The world let along the sport of hockey lost one of its best characters on Thursday when famed Edmonton Oilers enforcer Dave Semenko passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 59.
    I never met Semenko, but I was still sad to hear of his passing. I also got a chuckle remembering the various colourful interviews he did over the years.
    In a round-about way, I helped contribute indirectly of getting him a piece of hockey history. During my first year living in Medicine Hat cover the WHL’s Tigers in the 2004-05 campaign, I met former Tigers and Winnipeg Jets standout Morris Lukowich at an old timers’ charity game.
    I had a VCR copy of the last contest ever played in the history of the World Hockey Association, when the host Winnipeg Jets defeated the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the WHA title series to win the Avco Cup. Lukowich was a member of that winning Jets team.
    When I handed him the tape in order to get the cover autographed, he asked if that tape really had a copy of the game on it. I said it did, and he asked if I could mail him a copy of that tape to his place. I made a copy of that game and sent it to Lukowich.
    Later on that season, I ended up calling Lukowich for a throwback story for the Medicine Hat News. When the interview was done, we ended up talking about that tape. Lukowich thanked me for sending it to him.
    Having a few video machines at his place to use for coaching, Lukowich told me he made copies to send to all his former Jets teammates and coaches. He then told me he made a copy and sent it to Semenko, who was on that Oilers team that lost to the Jets.
    I laughed and couldn’t believe it. The Jets won that contest in a 7-3 romp at the old Winnipeg Arena, and I thought Lukowich might have been trying poke some fun at the legendary pugilist.
Lukowich laughed and said they were good friends. He added Semenko scored the final goal in that contest, which was the final goal ever in the history of the WHA. Lukowich thought it would be a nice keepsake.
    With that knowledge, I contributed to delivering a memory to Semenko about one of his historic hockey moments.

Huskies duo completes Banff Marathon


    Lauren Zary and Kaitlin Willoughby showed their athletic prowess isn’t limited hockey, and they went to Banff to display that fact.
    Back on June 18, the pair completed the Banff Marathon. Zary, who just exhausted her eligibility with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team, crossed the finish line in four hours, 25 minutes and 30 seconds, and Willoughby, who is a star centre entering her final season with the Huskies, finished officially one second back of Zary.
    For anyone to complete a race that is 42.2 kilometres in length is impressive, so a big congratulations is passed on to the pair. Both Zary and Willoughby accomplished something most people in the world won’t do. As an added bonus, they did it in the scenic mountain terrain of Banff.

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

Monday, 26 June 2017

Leschyshyn and Patrick smart NHL Draft picks despite injuries

Jake Leschyshyn (#19) wins a battle in the corner for the Pats
    The player personal staffs of the Vegas Golden Knights and the Philadelphia Flyers might one day look back in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and give themselves a pat on the back for their bravery.
    Both clubs each picked a player from the WHL who had their respective 2016-17 campaigns cut considerably short due to injury.
    The Golden Knights selected 18-year-old centre Jake Leschyshyn of the Regina Pats in the second round and 62nd overall. Leschyshyn was limited to 47 regular season games and missed the Pats entire post-season run to the WHL Championship series after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
    The Flyers picked centre Nolan Patrick, who will turn 19 in September, in the first round and second overall. The Brandon Wheat Kings star was often projected to be the first overall selection, but two sports hernia injuries limited him to 33 regular season games and kept him out of the playoffs.
Nolan Patrick in action for the Wheat Kings in May of 2016.
    Any teams that passed on either player might regret that decision one day. If you are an elite athlete that plays any sport at a high level over a lengthy period of time, chances are high you will eventually have to deal with a major injury in your career.
    Due to the fact Leschyshyn and Patrick are really young looking at the grand scheme of the hockey picture, they have lots of time to make respective full recoveries and return better than ever.
    Leschyshyn, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 182 pounds, first really turned heads in the WHL after putting on a gritty performance in the 2016 playoffs. He had a goal and three assists in 12 games as the Pats advanced to the second round before falling 2-1 in a series deciding Game 7 to the Red Deer Rebels. During that post-season, Leschyshyn was noticeable on the ice due to a fierce work ethic that was displayed when he had to battle in the hard areas.
    This season, Leschyshyn piled up 17 goals and 23 assists in 47 regular season games. When he did hit the ice, he gave the Pats a dynamic one, two, three punch at centre playing behind Sam Steel and Adam Brooks. Leschyshyn played a big part in helping the Pats post the best record in the league at 52-12-7-1.
Jake Leschyshyn (#19) creates a screens a goalie for the Pats.
    He comes from a real good family that is tied into the game too. Father, Curtis, had a lengthy NHL career as a defenceman and younger sister, Anna, is a star centre with the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA team. Thanks to his family, Jake will have great guidance when it comes to a career in the NHL.
    As for Patrick, he watched the New Jersey Devils pick 18-year-old centre and Switzerland product Nico Hischier first overall. Flyers proceeded to select Patrick with the second overall pick.
    It almost seemed like Patrick’s spectacular sophomore season with the Wheat Kings in 2015-16 was forgotten. The Winnipeg product appeared in all 72 of the Wheat Kings regular season games piling up 41 goals and 61 assists.
    He played a huge role in helping the Wheat Kings capture the WHL Championship in 2016 recording 13 goals and 17 assists in 21 post-season games. Patrick, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 198 pounds, was named the MVP of the playoffs that season.
Nolan Patrick (#19) sets up in the offensive zone in May of 2016.
    Due to his later in the year birth date, Patrick wasn’t eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until the end of his 18-year-old season. After he played so spectacular as a 17-year-old, it seemed almost inevitable Patrick would be a first over selection.
    Having played such a big role in Brandon in 2015-16, one wondered what more amazing things he could do for an encore. Injuries hampered those hopes.
    Patrick also comes from a good family that has a strong hockey background. His father, Steve, played six seasons in the NHL at right wing in the 1980s. His uncle, James, had a lengthy career as a defenceman.
    The influence of both Steve and James, who is the new head coach of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, will ensure Nolan has a pretty good heads up regarding waters he will have to navigate as a professional.
    The injuries both Jake Leschyshyn and Nolan Patrick had to battle through would definitely create doubts for some. At the moment, their ability to help a club in the immediate short term is still questionable.
    Over the long term, both the Golden Knights and Flyers will likely be rewarded with their sound selections of the two respective centres.

Rush thank you commercial sweet touch

The Rush players salute the SaskTel Centre fans.
    The Saskatchewan Rush gave a salute to their fans since their National Lacrosse League campaign came to an end.
    In both years the NLL franchise has been based out of Saskatoon, the Rush have advanced to the best-of-three league championship series. A year ago, the Rush swept the Buffalo Bandits 2-0 to claim the Champion’s Cup.
    Game 2 of that series was one for the ages as Rush defenceman Jeff Cornwall went coast-to-coast to score the series-winning goal with 12 seconds to play that broke a 10-10 tie and gave the Rush an 11-10 victory before 15,182 spectators at the SaskTel Centre.
    Having won the Champion’s Cup in 2015 when the team was still located in Edmonton, the Rush franchise was trying for the three-peat this season. The Rush returned to the NLL championship series only to be swept 2-0 by the Duluth-based Georgia Swarm. Game 2 of the series was a heartbreaker for the Rush, who fell 15-14 in overtime at the SaskTel Centre on June 10.
    During the regular season, the Rush topped the Western Division standings with a 12-6 mark. Between the regular season and playoffs, the Rush always drew over 14,000 spectators to each of their home games. The energy created by the fans at Rush games is second to none.
    Since falling in the NLL finals, the Rush have run commercials on local television to thank the fans. The commercial is also posted on the team’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
    It was a classy move by the team and one that will always payoff in some positive way down the road.

Back in the Express with Roughriders analysis

Kevin Glenn (#5) throws a pass downfield at Roughriders training camp.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this past week with a column that provide analysis about the Saskatchewan Roughriders prospects for the 2017 CFL season.
    Due to the nature of writing for a weekly publication, the piece went to print before the team announced final cuts on June 17. The issue of the Express that contained the piece hit the streets on June 19.
    Since that time, the Roughriders opened the regular season dropping a 17-16 heartbreaker on the road to the Alouettes in Montreal last Thursday. I wrote in my piece that playoffs are possible for the Roughriders, and I still hold on to that despite the opening day result.
    When you check social media lines, the loss to the Alouettes has some Roughriders fans jumping ship. Had Roughriders kicker Tyler Crapigna nailed a 45-yard field goal attempt on the game’s final play to win it, you would see fans jumping on the bandwagon. Those reactions come with the territory of following Saskatchewan’s CFL franchise.
    The season opening game likely worked out a lot of emotion regarding Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones and Alouettes and former Roughriders franchise quarterback Darian Durant. Jones traded Durant to the Alouettes in January as part of a huge effort to retool the Roughriders.
    After Crapigna missed his kick, Durant gave a big celebration directed at the Roughriders bench. Jones walked off the field looking more upset than normal after the setback. It was obvious from their respective reactions and both Durant and Jones have personal upset feelings regarding the end of Durant’s time in Saskatchewan.
    With all that said, the CFL regular season is a marathon and not a sprint due to the fact every club plays 18 regular season games. The Roughriders return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 7 p.m. at new Mosaic Stadium.
    The piece I wrote on the Roughriders for the Express can be found here.

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

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.

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

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 stankssports@gmail.com. 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.

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.

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

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.”

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

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.

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