Saturday, 14 July 2018

Bears’ Soyko grows into one of the SFMAAAHL’s best

Star power forward a player to watch in 2018-19

Abby Soyko has developed into one of the Bears biggest stars.
    Abby Soyko has emerged as a difference maker.
    The Prince Albert product began playing for her hometown Northern Bears of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League shortly before her 13th birthday in the 2014-15 campaign. After four full seasons with the Bears, she has evolved into one of the top players in the SFMAAAHL.
    The skilled winger has improved by leaps and bounds during every off-season. For the past two seasons, she has led the Bears in scoring and piled up an impressive 21 goals and 17 assists in 28 regular season games last season.
    Soyko keeps getting strong, faster and more explosive. You almost can’t wait until Bears regular season rolls around this year to see how much better she will be playing in her 17-year-old and final campaign in the midget AAA ranks.
Abby Soyko (#19) might capture all the Bears career scoring records.
    By the time she is finished her final midget AAA season, Soyko, who stands 5-foot-5, could potential own all the Bears career regular season scoring records. Currently, she has appeared in 108 regular season games piling up 48 goals and 46 assists for 94 points to sit as the Bears third all-time leading scorer.
    She is three points away from equaling Kaitlin Willoughby as the Bears second all-time leading scorer at 97 points. Willoughby, who just recently wrapped up her U Sports career as the star captain with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team, piled up 34 goals and 63 assists appearing in 96 career regular season games with the Bears from 2008 to 2013.
    Soyko is seven points shy of tying Kelly Regnier as the all-time leading scorer in Bears history with 101 points.
Abby Soyko (#19) has steadily improved during her SFMAAAHL career.
    Regnier, who moved on to play three seasons with the University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team, collected 50 goals and 51 assists in 83 career regular season games played with the Bears from 2010 to 2013.
    Soyko needs three goals to eclipse Regnier’s record for career regular season goals with the Bears at 50. If Soyko can set a new career high for assists in a season at 18, she will pass Willoughby’s mark of 63 career regular season assists to set a new standard for the Bears.
    If Soyko has another standout campaign, she could potentially finish inside of the top ten in career SFMAAAHL regular season scoring.
Abby Soyko, centre, enjoys scoring a goal for the Bears.
    While she topped the Bears in scoring in the 2016-17 campaign when they won the SFMAAAHL title and advanced to the Esso Cup national championship tournament, Soyko looked way more power making plays last season.
    She led the Bears with five game-winning goals helping them post a 22-5-1 regular season record to finish second overall in the SFMAAAHL.
    Soyko’s play was key in aiding the Bears return to the SFMAAAHL championship series last season, but the Prince Albert squad was swept in the best-of-five set 3-0 by a power Saskatoon Stars side.
    She comes from a really athletic family including triplet sisters Alli and Alex.
    Alli is a gritty forward for the Bears, while Alex plays basketball and soccer and is a member of the Carlton Comprehensive High School senior girls’ basketball team.
    Older brother Steven was a goalie with the Prince Albert Midget AA Raiders, and he exhausted his midget eligibility this past season.
    Soyko has overcome some down times in her career as well.
    Last season, she tried out for Saskatchewan’s under-18 female provincial team and was cut.
Abby Soyko (#19 on right) always respects the opposition. 
    The power forward didn’t allow that development to affect her performance with the Bears.
    In coming back from that setback, Soyko showed a lot of character.
    While she is a highly competitive player on the ice, Soyko is fairly personable off the ice. She socializes easily with players and coaches from opposing teams.
    Soyko is quick to pass on complements publicly if someone from another team is doing well and encouragement if another club from the SFMAAAHL is having success at a major tournament like Esso Cup.
    She is one of the most well-liked players on the SFMAAAHL circuit.
    When the Bears hit the ice, you know you will always get a solid effort from Soyko.
    Similar to former Regina Pats captain Sam Steel in the WHL ranks, you know Soyko will do all the right steps to be ready for each and every game, and you never have to worry about her.
Abby Soyko might play for a while after her days with the Bears wrap up.
    With the way she has improved already, you have to wonder how good Soyko could actually end up being.
    You can likely expect to see her playing for a lengthy number of years after her days with the Bears wrap up.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Sports teams closer to families in social media age

The Estephan and Gennaro families enjoy the Broncos’ WHL title win.
    It was one of the coolest sights when the Swift Current Broncos won the WHL championship back in May.
    During the post-game celebration, you looked around and saw all the players and coaches had their families on the ice surface with them at the Credit Union i-Plex in Swift Current. Everyone was enjoying the moment, and snapping pictures on their phones.
    The vibe was real positive, and the thought that runs through one’s head is, “This is great.”
    For myself the next day, it hit me that the players were really close with their families. That thought had run through my mind on a number of different occasions during the last four sports seasons.
Broncos family members took lots of pictures of WHL title memories.
    That Broncos celebration happened on May 13. Just two weeks later on May 27 at the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina, I was on the ice surface of the Brandt Centre, when the Acadie-Bathurst Titan celebrated winning major junior hockey’s biggest prize.
    The celebration was almost a carbon copy of the one the Broncos had, when they won the WHL crown.
    I believe the strengthened family links is one of the good things that developed from the social media age. Players and coaches are in contact more with their families due to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Titan family members flooded into Regina for the Memorial Cup.
    In circuits like Canada’s major junior hockey ranks, most players leave their homes to travel to a new centre to pursue their sport. Before social media existed, players’ family members back home didn’t learn about what was happening in that players’ life unless there was a phone conversation or a letter was mailed away.
    I can remember the days when players arrived at WHL training camps in August, and they wouldn’t see their families again until the Christmas break. Often, the news of what was happening in a player’s life was limited.
    With social media, the families back home have instant news about the life of a player, who is living away from home.
Families and friends cheer on the Pats in the 2017 WHL playoffs.
    The communication through social media makes family members more engaged with the life of a player. That engagement creates extra motivation for family members to make road trips to see the player play live.
    During the 2017 WHL playoffs, I worked a large number of games involving the Regina Pats, who advanced to the WHL Championship series that year. I saw the Pats play more than any other hockey team in the 2016-17 campaign.
    I hit a point I was recognizing the family members of the Pats players, when the Pats played on the road. I was impressed how many family members physically followed the Pats from centre to centre through that run.
Hilltops safety James Vause (#24) enjoys a PFC title win with his family.
    I remember one father of a Pats player coming up to me after a game in Swift Current and passing on a thank-you for covering the Regina team’s games.
    My experience was almost exactly the same this past WHL post-season covering games involving the Broncos. I couldn’t believe how many of the players’ families followed the Broncos all over the place.
    In past eras, families were present in the lives of the players but not to the extent I am seeing now.
    When I was a beat writer for the Medicine Hat News covering the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, I remember the families of the Tigers team that won the 2007 WHL title frequently being present in the rink.
    When the Tigers won Game 7 of the 2007 WHL Championship series 3-2 in double overtime at The Arena in Medicine Hat, I don’t remember the players’ families being present on the ice for the post-game celebrations.
The “Chippendads” cheer the Huskies women’s basketball team in 2016.
    I remember interviewing Tigers goalie Matt Keetley and watching Keetley point into the crowd and say how happy he was to see his family in the spot he pointed to.
    At that point in time, Facebook was in its infancy. Twitter wasn’t very well known and Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist.
    Following that Tigers victory in 2007, it seemed like everyone want to get to the post-game party as quick as possible.
    When the Broncos and Titan won their respective WHL and CHL titles this past season, it seemed like everyone wanted to soak in those moments with their families, and no one wanted to leave the rink. You would also see people racing to post photos of the moment on their Instagram accounts.
The Willoughby family enjoys time together after a Huskies win.
    In both cases, it seemed like all the players on the Broncos and Titan had quickly snuck in and out of their dressing rooms to get their phones during their respective victory celebrations.
    I haven’t just noticed this in major junior hockey. I have covered the Saskatoon Hilltops the last four Canadian Junior Football League seasons, and the Hilltops players, coaches and staff are really connected with their families. The Hilltops have won the CJFL title for the past four straight seasons, and it seems like the family members have been present every step of the way including road games and team practices.
    I see it with teams in U Sports. During each of the past four seasons, it was common to see family members of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s and women’s hockey teams sitting all over the Rutherford Rink at every game.
Kianna, left, and her mom Kim Dietz enjoy the Stars SFMAAAHL title win.
    The fathers of the players of the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team have become mini-celebrities at games sitting together court side and becoming known as the “Chippendads.”
    During my time at the University of Regina in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I remember players from U Sports athletic teams always being pumped to go out and party after the Saturday night game, which usually closed the action for the weekend. Now players in U Sports head off to spend the post-game doing something with their families.
    In the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, players’ families follow teams on that circuit in droves. The parent and family groups that back the Prince Albert Northern Bears, Saskatoon Stars and Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats are outstanding.
Roughriders DL Jordan Reaves, right, with dad, Willard.
    Even during my limited interactions with the CFL, it seems the families are more present. I remember interacting with members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2005, and it seemed the players couldn’t wait to go out and party after the game was done.
    There was a lengthy period of time in the late 1990s to the middle of the 2000s where I would always see members of the Roughriders or other CFL teams out for a party after games.
    During my interactions in the current day, players on the Roughriders are more focused with meeting up with their families after games and going out for a post-game meal at a nice restaurant.
    In pretty much all cases at each of these levels of sport, the families that are supporting the players are all awesome. They are all great and positively supportive of the players.
    I’ve had experience with bad parents and families during my time covering sports, but almost all the experiences in recent years have been outstanding.
    I hope players, coaches and staff members of sports teams can remain as connected to their families in the future similar to what I have seen in the present and at least in the past four years.

Back in the Express with FIBA tourney advancer

Nolan Brudehl, left, and Michael Lieffers celebrate and OT win last year.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with an advancer story for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters basketball event.
    For the second straight year, a FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters basketball stop is being held in downtown Saskatoon. Last year, the local Team Saskatoon entry advanced to the tournament final before falling 21-14 to Team Ljubljana.
    The Team Saskatoon squad containing Michael Linklater, Michael Lieffers, Nolan Brudehl and Steve Sir will be back for this year’s tournament, which is set for July 21-22 in downtown Saskatoon to be held in conjunction with Taste of Saskatchewan. 
Michael Linklater (#4) drives into the open for Team Saskatoon.
    Linklater, Lieffers and Brudehl were all members of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball team that won the U Sports national title in 2010. Sir is based out of Edmonton, Alta., and travels to join the other three.
    The tourney features teams from around the world, and it drew big crowds last year, especially when Team Saskatoon hit the court. It is expected big crowds will turn out again this year.
    My story on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters basketball even can be found right here.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Ex-NFL duo of Jones and Glanville a perfect Tiger-Cats fit

June Jones, second from left, gives instructions to Hamilton’s quarterbacks.
    REGINA – You were waiting for someone to yell, “Hey Glanville, Elvis has left the building.”
    It is uncertain how many of the 30,594 spectators in attendance for Thursday’s CFL contest at Mosaic Stadium were aware of the history Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach June Jones and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville have with the sport of football. 
    For those that follow football in Canada and the United States, it seemed strange to see both men, who have lengthy ties with the NFL, manning the sideline of the CFL’s Tiger-Cats, who fell 18-13 to the host Saskatchewan Roughriders.
    Both squads sat with identical 2-2 regular season records after that result.
    Jones joined the Tiger-Cats last season and brought Glanville on board before the start of this season.
    Jones is 65 years of age, while Glanville is 76-years-old and will celebrate his 77th birthday on Oct. 14. Both have made their money coaching football and can be long retired.
    Jones had some experience in the CFL working as a co-offensive coordinator with the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1986. Glanville had never been to a CFL game in person until this year.
You almost want to ask, “Why are you both here?”
    The site of the veteran sideline bosses appeared almost as head scratching as the appearance of former troubled Cleveland Browns NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel on the Tigers-Cats roster as a backup signal caller.
    Even if Manziel wasn’t with Tiger-Cats, you would still end up taking lots of looks at the Hamilton bench area due to the presence of Jones and Glanville. Visibly, they both look like they still enjoy the game.
Jerry Glanville sports his classic all black look with sunglasses and headset.
    With how well prepared the Tiger-Cats have been through their first four contests, you can tell Jones and Glanville are treating this job seriously and are legitimately invested in what they are doing. They have shown that they can adjust and learn.
    There have been a number of times where successful lifelong professional coaches from the United States end up failing in the CFL, because they don’t adjust to the Canadian game.
    As a duo, Jones and Glanville gained their notoriety during two NFL stints. The first game with the Houston Oilers, where Glanville was the defensive coordinator from 1984 to 85 and then the head coach from 1986 to 1989. Jones worked under Glanville on the Oilers staff as a quarterbacks coach in 1987 and 1988.
    The second stint came with the Atlanta Falcons. Glanville served as the Falcons head coach from 1990 to 1993. Jones joined the Falcons staff as an offensive coordinator in 1991 and took over as head coach in 1994 and stayed on until 1996.
    Glanville  displayed a colourful personality giving tonnes of off the wall quotes, and he often left tickets for the late Elvis Presley at his team’s games.
    The clubs Jones and Glanville coached were known for being aggressive, exciting and having swagger. The two men were known as players’ coaches, but their teams were often viewed as villains by their opponents.
    With the Oilers, the two men built a squad that played a hard-hitting and blitzing style of defence. The Oilers home stadium, the Astrodome, became known as “The House of Pain.”
    Besides hitting opponents hard, Oilers defensive players were often involved in fights on the field, especially if they were playing their AFC Central Division rivals in the Browns, Cincinnati Bengals or the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    Offensively, the Oilers could burn out the lights on the scoreboard with a high-powered passing attack led by quarterback Warren Moon.
June Jones looks at his play chart to call a play.
    With the Falcons, the blitzing style of defence used in Houston successfully transferred to Atlanta, which also included the fighting aspect. Atlanta’s defence also possessed great swagger from the play of cornerback Deion Sanders, who was one of the best to ever play the game.
    The Falcons offence shot out the lights in the 1991 season, and Atlanta posted a 10-6 regular season record and won one playoff game.
    The Falcons had celebrities like rapper M.C. Hammer and heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield hanging with them on the sidelines. Hammer’s song “Too Legit To Quit” became the theme track for the team.
    Atlanta only enjoyed a one-year wonder status as injuries because to derail the career of starting quarterback Chris Miller in 1992. Miller looked like he would be an NFL star for the long haul after a breakout 1991 campaign, and as a result, the Falcons traded then sophomore backup quarterback Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers before the 1992 regular season began.
    Of course, history will note the Packers became great beneficiaries due to the fact they added Favre to their roster.
    These days, Jones and Glanville are still players’ coaches. While watching the Tiger-Cats sidelines on Thursday, Glanville was constantly teaching and encouraging. When the defence was on the bench, he would often be found sitting beside various defensive players helping them out with adjustments.
    Jones had to be more involved with overseeing the overall game due to holding the head coach role. He still did his share of encouraging and helping players make adjustments on the offensive side.
    Both Jones and Glanville appeared to be father figures or even wise grandfather figures to their players.
    While the Tiger-Cats were held to 13 points, they put up 429 yards of offence and looked like they could be really explosive on that side of the ball.
Jerry Glanville bends down to survey a defensive situation.
    Glanville looks to have adjusted his defence to football’s current time, where the rules crack down more on violent hits and allow receivers a lot more freedom to run routes down the field compared to the 1980s and 1990s.
    The Tiger-Cats defence looked to get pressure on the opposing quarterback with a four-man rush from the defensive line, while the secondary played a variety of different coverages. They limited the Roughriders to 298 yards of total offence.
    Hamilton wasn’t able to intercept any passes and only recovered one fumble. Glanville’s defences in the NFL were known to go all out trying to score a touchdown after a turnover making a number of laterals, but the Tiger-Cats didn’t have any opportunities to show if they had that up their sleeve.
    They might get that chance in their next game, when they host the Roughriders on July 19.
    In the early going of the 2018 regular season, it appears Jones and Glanville are a good fit for the Tiger-Cats and the CFL. They are a surprising feel good story for the Canadian game.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Roughriders’ victory clunky but very much welcome

Duron Carter (#89) defends a pass for the Roughriders.
    REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders latest victory was so clunky that even the scoreboard operator began to act in similar fashion.
    With 8:54 remaining in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s CFL regular season clash at Mosaic Stadium, kicker Brett Lauther booted a 41-yard field goal to give the host Saskatchewan Roughriders a 12-10 lead over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The scoreboard operator accidently put the three points up on Hamilton’s side of the ledger, and the Tiger-Cats were listed as having a 13-9 edge.
    Some of the 30,594 spectators in attendance had a bit of a short freak out. The mistake was spotted and the scoreboard was eventually corrected in about 30 seconds of real time listing Saskatchewan as holding a 12-10 edge.
    A little over three minutes later, the Tigers-Cats went back in front 13-12, when Hamilton kicker Lirim Hajrullahu nailed a 39-yard field goal.
    The Roughriders went back out in front 18-13 with 1:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, when running back Marcus Thigpen ran home a touchdown from 34 yards out to cap a four-play drive that covered 77 yards. The ensuing two-point conversion failed after the seventh lead change in the contest.
Roughrider receiver Naaman Roosevelt (#82) tries to avoid tacklers.
    The 18-13 scored held up as the final after the Roughriders stopped the Tigers-Cats on their last ditch two-minute drill drive. Both teams saw their respective records sit at 2-2 following the contest.
    While the win wasn’t a work of art, the Roughriders and their fans will gladly take it. The victory helped give relief from the sting of a confidence deflating two-game losing skid.
    Before the win over the Tiger-Cats, the Roughriders were crushed 40-17 on June 21 to the Redblacks in Ottawa. Saskatchewan followed that performance up with a 23-17 setback at Mosaic Stadium to the Montreal Alouettes, who had lost 13 straight regular season games heading into that contest.
QB Jeremiah Masoli (#8) had 333 passing yards for the Tiger-Cats.
    If Rider Nation wasn’t panicking, the fans had their hand over the panic button. If there wasn’t panic, there seemed to be quiet fear the Roughriders were going to embark on a bad season.
    The Roughriders are currently forced to work through key injuries to starting quarterback Zach Collaros and defensive back Nick Marshall. The play of their offensive line had been suspect.
    After two deflating losses, most Saskatchewan fans didn’t think their Roughriders could a Tiger-Cats squad that was coming off two straight impressive wins.
    Even in desperate times, over 30,000 came out to support the Roughriders outside of a sprinkling of Hamilton supporters. There wasn’t much for the home side to cheer about over the first 20 minutes as Hamilton slowly built a 4-0 lead.
    With 5:22 remaining in the second quarter, it appeared Roughriders starting quarterback Brandon Bridge scored on a 15-yard touchdown run.
The Roughriders’ special teams take down Tiger-Cats return Brandon Banks.
    On video review, it was ruled he fumbled before crossing the goal-line and the Tiger-Cats recovered the ball in the end zone to end the scoring threat.
    For fans in attendance, Bridge’s fumble seemed like par for the course looking back at the Roughriders two previous games.
    On the Tiger-Cats ensuing possession, Roughriders defensive lineman Charleston Hughes created a huge spark knocking the ball high into the air out of the hands of Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Hughes grabbed the ball in the air and raced 57 yards downfield for a defensive touchdown to give Saskatchewan a 6-4 lead.
Charleston Hughes had a big game on Thursday night for the Roughriders.
    In classic Roughriders form, Lauther proceeded to miss the ensuing conversion attempt.
    Hajrullahu kicked a 30-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to give the Tiger-Cats a 7-6 edge at halftime.
    Despite doing very little on offence, the Roughriders had a legitimate chance to win.
    The teams traded field goals in the third quarter to allow Hamilton to exit the frame with a 10-9 edge. That set the stage for the dramatics in the fourth quarter.
    From a fan perspective, the Roughriders have a tendency to lose games they shouldn’t lose but seem to manage to win games they shouldn’t win.
    Masoli completed 23 of 43 passes for 333 yards to mark the ninth straight regular season game he surpassed 300 passing yards to equal a CFL record held by Sam Etcheverry and Kent Austin. Etcheverry achieved his streak in 1956 with the Alouettes, while Austin accomplished the same feat in 1991 with the Roughriders.
Christion Jones (#22) returns a kick for the Roughriders.
    Despite Masoli’s big game, the Roughrider still won.
    On the Saskatchewan side offensively, no one had an outstanding night.
    The Roughriders offensive really only caught fire for one series, and that was on the 77-yard march that resulted in the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
    That series included an acrobatic 29-yard catch from receiver Joshua Stanford and Thigpen’s 34-yard touchdown run.
    When the game ended, Roughriders fans were elated their team won, but that elation seemed followed by a stunned query of, “Did we actually win that game?”
Members of Rider Nation celebrate the Roughrider victory.
    Going into a bye week, Thursday’s win brings some relief and restores some optimism to the Roughriders and their fans.
    The Roughriders now have ample time to prepare for their next game on July 19, when they travel to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats once again.

Back in the Express with NCAA champ

    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a story on National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I lacrosse champion in Brendan Rooney.
    Rooney is a Saskatoon product who just completed his third season playing for the Yale University Bulldogs lacrosse team. He scored a goal for Yale, when they down the Duke University Blue Devils 13-11 in the NCAA lacrosse championship game on May 28 in Foxboro, Mass.
    A forward with the Yale lacrosse team, Rooney majors in molecular bio-physics and biochemistry in the classroom and aims to get into Yale’s medical school. He has a not so ordinary summer job too.
    The story on Rooney can be found by clicking right here.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Cheering for the Roughriders is not a joyride

Roughriders DB Ed Gainey defends a pass in the end zone.
    REGINA – It was one of those nights you sat in the stands at Mosaic Stadium and asked yourself, “Why do I cheer for this team?”
    The question is asked with both dismay and amusement after the host Saskatchewan Roughriders dropped a 23-17 decision to the Montreal Alouettes in a CFL regular season clash. Both sides sport 1-2 records following the contest.
    Going into the game, you thought it was a contest the Roughriders couldn’t lose. The Alouettes had lost 13 straight regular season games dating back to last season and seemed poised to go a full calendar year without a win.
Signs supporting the Humboldt Broncos were all over Mosaic Stadium.
    Saturday was also the “Humboldt Strong” game, where the Roughriders were honouring the junior A Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
    Back on April 6, the bus carrying the Broncos team was involved in a collision with a semitrailer about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale. The Broncos were on their way to Nipawin for an SJHL playoff game against the Hawks.
    The crash resulted in the deaths of 16 players and team officials and injuries to 13 other players from the team.
    The Roughriders played host to the Broncos immediate and billet family members, officials from the Broncos organization, the community of Humboldt and first responders who helped the victims on the day of the crash. Numerous “Humboldt Strong” signs were displayed throughout the stadium and ribbons were painted on the turf at the 29 yard line to represent the 29 people who were on board the Broncos bus.
DL Eddie Steele leads the Roughriders on to the field.
    During the pre-game ceremonies, a rousing video tribute was shown for the Broncos and people involved with the team were brought to the field.
    Defensive lineman Eddie Steele led the Roughriders on to the field and the near sellout crowd of 33,308 listed on the CFL website roared in huge appreciation. Surviving Broncos players took part in the coin toss, which was performed with a Broncos puck, and Steele told the Broncos players the Roughriders were playing for them.
    As a fan, the feeling at that moment was, “We are going to roll the Montreal Alouettes. We are going to make the Montreal Alouettes wish they were never born.”
    On the Roughriders first offensive play, quarterback Brandon Bridge fired a deep pass to wide open running back Marcus Thigpen, who let the ball fall through his hands. Had Thigpen caught the ball, he was in the clear to sail home on a possible 76-yard touchdown reception.
Roughriders DL Eddie Steele (#97) charges to the field.
    It felt like the air was let out of the stadium.
    For Roughriders fans, this was a “here we go again” bad omen.
    From that point, a defensive slugfest ensued that was aided by some really bad offence by both sides. Montreal finished with 287 yards of total offence, while Saskatchewan had 279 yards.
    The Roughriders never led in the game. Montreal held a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, and Saskatchewan kicker Brett Lauther hit a 39-yard field goal with 4:42 to play in the second quarter to force a 3-3 tie.
    The Alouettes went into halftime scoring 10 straight points to go ahead 13-3 on a 79-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Drew Willie to receiver Chris Williams and a 32-yard field goal from kicker Boris Bede.
Humboldt Broncos players take part in the “puck” toss.
    Williams was the only one that a good night offensively hauling in three passes for 130 yards.
Still as a fan, you are trying to convince yourself the “real Roughriders” would come out in the second half and put the boots to the Alouettes. For a moment, you try to believe what you are seeing isn’t real.
    At the start of the second half, the Roughriders insert 25-year-old David Watford into the game for his first action ever as a CFL quarterback. As a fan, you think this is an act of desperation with the Roughriders coaches stretching to look for a spark.
Members of the Humboldt Broncos watch game action from the sidelines.
    The game grinds into the fourth quarter with the Alouettes holding a 17-6 edge.
    Early in the fourth quarter, there was finally a spark, when Roughriders kick returner Christion Jones bought a punt back 53 yards to the Montreal 17 yard line. Just two plays later, Watford hit Roughriders star receiver Naaman Roosevelt for a five-yard touchdown pass to cut the gap to 17-12. The two point conversion failed but there was life.
    On the ensuing Montreal possession, Alouettes running back Tyrell Sutton fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Roughriders defensive end Willie Jefferson at the Montreal 33 yard line.
QB David Watford, top centre, throws a pass for the Roughriders.
    This was the time the Roughriders were finally going to go ahead. Instead, a pass by Watford to open Roughriders receiver Caleb Holley in the end zone deflected off the upright. The hosts settled for a 25-yard field goal from Lauther to cut the Alouettes edge to 17-15.
    Bede booted two more field goals for the Alouettes before conceding a safety with one second left on the clock to leave the Alouettes holding a 23-17 lead.
    The Roughriders attempted to pull the “Stanford Marching Band” play making a number of laterals in a desperate final kickoff return to score. It appeared Roosevelt found a crease, and he was going to score. He was stopped after a 40-yard gain.
Roughriders DL Zach Evans (#92) looks to get past a blocker.
    As a fan, you come away thinking “typical Roughriders.”
    While you remember great times cheering for the team like Grey Cup wins in 1966, 1989, 2007 and 2013, you are well aware of a history of bad times.
    Roughriders’ fans know the term “Reign of Error” to describe the club’s plight of missing the CFL post-season for 11-consecutive years from 1977 to 1987. You remember hapless stretches like missing the playoffs for four straight years from 1998 to 2001 and a 3-15 campaign as recently as 2015.
    Even Grey Cup appearances can bring back bad memories. Just mention “Too Many Men Game,” and Roughriders fans think of the 28-27 Grey Cup loss to the Alouettes in 2009.
Roughriders kick returner Christion Jones (#22) looks to lateral the ball.
    After Saturday’s game finished and even on radio post-game shows, fans sent criticism the Roughriders way. I found the rage aspect to be subdued this time around in the immediate aftermath compared to the Roughriders 40-17 loss on June 21 to the Redblacks in Ottawa.
    It seemed like there was more quiet disappointment and the acceptance of the possibility that this could be a bad Roughriders season. Too many of the team’s followers have seen this script before.
    With that said, there are still loud voices on social media looking to get their disappointment across.
    On the bright side, it was nice to wake up on Sunday morning and see social media posts from people connected to Humboldt and the SJHL Broncos that they had a great time at Saturday’s Roughriders game despite the final outcome.
The Humboldt Broncos supporters had fun at Saturday’s game.
    It seemed the night out with the larger Saskatchewan community was another step in the healing process. Being out with others in public was important.
    That reaction put into perspective that the Roughriders and Alouettes were just playing a game.
    As a fan, you are reminded of the fact the Roughriders play through lots of downs and ups in the past, and they will play through those in the future.
    Even during a down game on the field, it is still a nice distraction from regular life.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Brockman is the Swift Current Broncos’ man

Dean Brockman holds court in a media scrum in the 2016-17 season.
    Dean Brockman’s hiatus from the WHL didn’t last long, and he will likely be a great fit in his new stomping grounds.
    On Wednesday, Brockman was introduced as the new head coach and director of hockey operations for the Swift Current Broncos at a press conference in Swift Current. Brockman fills the void that was created when Manny Viveiros stepped down as the Broncos head coach and director of player personnel on May 24 to become an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
    Brockman spent the previous four seasons working for the Saskatoon Blades. He was an assistant coach with the Blades in his first two campaigns with the club and spent the past two seasons working for the Blades as head coach. Brockman was released by the Blades on March 18.
    During Brockman’s run as head coach, the Blades posted a 63-68-10-3 record. He is credited with 62 of those victories having missed one of those wins to attend a funeral. The Blades posted a 35-33-3-1 mark this past season to finish three points behind the Raiders (32-27-9-4) for the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
    Saskatoon last made the WHL playoffs back in 2013.
    Before joining the Blades, Brockman, who will soon turn 51-years-old, was best known for his 17 years in the junior A ranks working with the Humboldt Broncos from 1997 to 2014 in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He started as an assistant coach and assistant general manager before becoming the head coach and general manager in 2004. During Brockman’s years in Humboldt, the SJHL Broncos won the Royal Bank Cup for junior A supremacy in 2003 and 2008.
    Brockman comes on board with a Broncos WHL franchise that hit heights the club hadn’t seen in some time with Viveiros as head coach. Viveiros, a 52-year-old St. Albert, Alta., product, was in Swift Current for two seasons.
    In the 2016-17 campaign, Viveiros led the Broncos to a 10th overall finish in the WHL’s regular season standings with a 39-23-4-6 record. The Broncos advanced to the second round of the WHL playoffs falling in a tough seven-game series to the Regina Pats, who would advance to the WHL Championship series.
Dean Brockman, centre, mans the Blades bench last season.
    This past season, Viveiros guided the Broncos to the second best record in the WHL’s regular season at 48-17-5-2. The Broncos set a record playing 26 games in the WHL playoffs winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup and capturing the league title for the first since 1993. Swift Current advanced to the Memorial Cup tournament to play for the CHL title.
    At the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina, Sask., in May, the Broncos went 0-3 in round robin play falling by a one-goal margin each time out.
    When Brockman steps behind the bench for the first regular season as Broncos head coach, they will have a much different look than the squad that won the WHL title in May. The Broncos begin the regular season on Sept. 21, when they host the Blades at 7 p.m. at the Credit Union i-Plex.
    Swift Current graduated three key overagers from last season in captain Glenn Gawdin, Giorgio Estephan and Matteo Gennaro. Last season, the Broncos finished carrying 11 players on their roster who were in their 19-year-old seasons and only three can return as overagers.
    Candidates who appear to be already out for consideration include star right-winger Tyler Steenbergen, who has signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes, defenceman Colby Sissons, who has signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils and netminder Stuart Skinner, who has signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
    Finnish left-winger Aleksi Heponiemi won’t be back for his 19-year-old season, because he signed a two-year professional contract with Karpat Oulu in Finland near the end of May.
    Gawdin, Steenbergen and Heponiemi combined to form a dynamic top line for the Broncos over the past two seasons. Sissons brought a steady presence to the Broncos back end for the past three seasons.
    Brockman will be overseeing the Broncos through a reloading period.
    The Broncos also need to replace director of hockey operations and head scout Jamie Porter, who officially resigned from the team on Tuesday.
    On Thursday, the Broncos took their first steps in their reload under Brockman selecting two players in the CHL Import Draft. The Broncos selected Finnish forward Joona Kiviniemi, who turns 17-years-old in December, in the first round and 59th overall. Swift Current proceeded to pick up 17-year-old Finnish defenceman Roope Pynnonen in the second round and 119th overall.
Dean Brockman runs a Blades practice last season.
    Brockman will be a good fit in his new stomping grounds. His departure from Saskatoon was one of those situations that comes up in the business of hockey were all involved decide to go their separate ways.
    He is a player’s coach and is very community minded. Brockman also goes to a community in Swift Current that is similar in a lot of ways to Humboldt. Both are tight-knit farming communities, where the main difference is Swift Current has a larger population than Humboldt.
    Swift Current is also the second smallest market in the CHL with the defending Memorial Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League coming from the CHL’s smallest centre in Bathurst, New Brunswick.
    With his outgoing, personable and honest personality, Brockman is going to be an easy quick fit in Swift Current. Brockman is a person that is made to coach an entrenched community-owned franchise like the WHL’s Broncos.

Blades back to full stable with imports

    The Saskatoon Blades returned to having a full stable of import players after making two selections in Thursday’s CHL Import Draft.
    In the first round and 23rd overall, the Blades selected defenceman Emil Malysjev, who has dual citizenship in both Sweden and Russia. Malysjev, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 187 pounds, played in Sweden’s top junior league last season with HV71, where he had four assists in 29 games.
    In the second round and 83rd overall, the Blades selected forward Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen of Norway. Roykas-Marthinsen, who turns 19 in late August and stands 6-feet and weighs 186 pounds, was selected in the seventh round and 213th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.  
    He played in Sweden’s top junior league last season recording 23 goals and eight assists in 23 games with Almtuna IS.
    Before selecting Malysjev and Roykas-Marthinsen, the Blades didn’t have any import players on their roster due to the fact Russian defenceman Mark Rubinchik, who was eligible to return as a 19-year-old, signed a two-year, two-way contract to play for Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League back in May.
    Malysjev and Roykas-Marthinsen are expected to attend Blades training camp, which will open near the end of August.

Raiders pick Protas in Import Draft

    The Prince Albert Raiders made one selection in Thursday’s CHL Import Draft.
    In the first round and 26th overall, the Raiders selected 17-year-old forward Aliaksei Protas from Belarus. Protas, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 179 pounds, played for the Belarus U17 Team in Vysshaya Liga, which is the development league for the Belarusian Extraleague. He recorded nine goals and 11 assists in 49 games.
    The Raiders have the potential to return both of their overage players from last season. Czech defenceman Vojtech Budik is entering his overage season and odds are high he will elect not to return to Prince Albert in order to pursue professional options.
    Defenceman Sergei Sapego, who is from Belarus and will enter his 19-year-old season, is expected to be back in the fold next season for the Raiders.

GoFundMe campaign for Vandervlis exceeds $67,000

Ryan Vandervlis drive up ice for the Hurricanes in April of 2017.
    The GoFundMe campaign that was set up to help Lethbridge Hurricanes centre Ryan Vandervlis has exceeded $67,000.
    On June 15, Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive, Vandervlis and former team member Matt Alfaro, who currently plays for the University of Calgary Dinos, were all involved in a mishap at the family home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong just west of Calgary. Wong was hosting nine of his friends at the family residence, and they were planning to go golfing and camping the next day.
    There was an explosion from the campfire that was started that night at the Wong residence. Bellerive, 19, and Alfaro, 21, sustained burns to their upper bodies and Vandervlis, 20, sustained burns to the front of his body and was placed in a medically induced coma. Vandervlis was taken off dialysis on June 18.
    Vandervlis sustained critical injuries. The Red Deer, Alta., product is facing months of recovery and multiple surgeries. On Tuesday, Vandervlis emerged from his coma but remains in hospital in Calgary.
    Alfaro was released from hospital on June 21. Bellerive was released from hospital on Tuesday.
    While Alfaro and Bellerive won’t have a problem returning for the upcoming hockey campaign, hockey is likely the furthest thing from the mind of Vandervlis, who is slated to enter his overage season with the Hurricanes.
    The fundraising efforts will help him and his family get past this rough stretch.
    Anyone looking to donate to the GoFundMe campaign for Vandervlis can do so by clicking right here.

Stars and Contacts to move to Merlis Belsher Place

    The Saskatoon Stars and Saskatoon Contacts will play out of a new home rink next season.
    The Stars, who are the defending champions of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, and the Contacts, who have long been an elite club in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, will play out of Merlis Belsher Place, which is being built on the campus on the University of Saskatchewan. The new multisport facility, which will have two pads of ice, is expected to be open in October.
    The Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association announced the switch of venues for the two teams on Wednesday. Merlis Belsher Place will be the new home of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s and women’s hockey teams.
    The Stars had been playing out of the Agriplace Arena. Last season, the Stars finished first in the SFMAAAHL with a 24-3-1 record, won the SFMAAAHL title for the third time in the last four years and advanced to the Esso Cup national championship tournament for the third time in the last four years.
    Saskatoon made the championship game of the Esso Cup held in Bridgewater, N.S., in April. The Stars fell 2-1 to the St. Albert Slash from Alberta, who won the Esso Cup for a second straight year.
During their history, the Stars have won the female title at the Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament twice.
    “Moving to a new state-of-the-art facility will help raise the profile of our program in the community and provide a sports and scholastic focused environment where our athletes will be exposed to ever expanding opportunities for both personal and team growth for years to come,” said Stars president Don Karnes in a statement.
    The Contacts have been playing out of the Schroh Arena. Last season, the Contacts finished sixth in the 12 team Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League this past season with a 20-18 record. They were swept 3-0 in the best-of-five first round playoff series by their archrivals the Prince Albert Mintos.
    The Contacts have won the SMAAAHL title on six occasions, the male title at the Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament twice, the bronze medal at the Telus Cup national championship tournament twice and Telus Cup national title in 2005.
    “The Saskatoon Contacts leave behind a rich history and tradition at Schroh Arena,” said Contacts president Jim McIntyre in a release. “We look forward to this great opportunity and the start of a new tradition at Merlis Belsher Place.”
    Approximately 1,500 hours of ice time will be dedicated annually for use by SMHA teams at Merlis Belsher Place, and the Stars and Contacts are expected to use less than 15 per cent of that allotted total. The SMHA will gain access to ice times vacated by the Stars and Contacts at their former home rinks.
    The Saskatoon Blazers midget AAA club will continue to play out of the Rod Hamm Arena. Last season, the Blazers finished eighth in the SMAAAHL and were swept 3-0 in a best-of-five first round playoff series by the Notre Dame Hounds, who moved on to capture the SMAAAHL title and the Telus Cup as national champs.

CBC story shows bonds of the Humboldt Broncos girlfriends

    On Friday, the CBC released an online feature focused on how the girlfriends of the players on the Humboldt Broncos were rallying together in their own group after the tragic crash of the team bus on April 6.
    Back on April 6, the bus carrying the Broncos team was involved in a collision with a semitrailer about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale. The Broncos were on their way to Nipawin for an SJHL playoff game against the Hawks.
    The crash resulted in the deaths of 16 players and team officials and injuries to 13 other players from the team.
    The girlfriends of the Broncos players gather together in Saskatoon from June 22 to 24 and made a trip out to Humboldt during that time. CBC followed their story and it was sweet and heartbreaking.
    The CBC feature of this remarkable group of young women 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.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Monday, 25 June 2018

WWCFL title clash delivered classic showdown

Riot prevail 14-10 in comeback victory over Valkyries

Mallory Starkey (#7) rushed for two touchdowns for the Riot on Sunday.
    As the Regina Riot relished in a championship victory, the spectators on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium likely came away with the feeling they saw something special.
    In the Western Women’s Canadian Football League title game in the Saskatchewan capital city, the Regina Riot faced their archrivals the Saskatoon Valkyries. The WWCFL playoff format was changed before the start of the 2018 season to create the opportunity for the two powerhouse clubs to meet in the league’s title game.
    Since the WWCFL was formed in 2011, the Riot and Valkyries have created what is becoming a lengthy list of classic encounters, which included meetings in the Prairie Conference championship game.
    They successfully added to that list of classic engagements creating the most exciting WWCFL title game to date. In the process, they both showed how good elite level women’s tackle football can be, where the Riot claimed a 14-10 victory in a fierce defensive battle.
    During the clash, the Valkyries came out hot offensively in the first quarter. Carly Dyck booted a 29-yard field goal and running back Sarah Wright scored a touchdown on a two-yard run to complete a solid offence drive to give the visitors a 10-0 edge in the fourth quarter.
    The Riot comeback was a gutty one thanks to the fact the Valkyries wouldn’t allow the hosts to have anything easy.
    The host side got a spark in the second quarter when clutch cornerback Courtney Tafelmeyer intercepted Valkyries star quarterback Alex Eyolfson at the Saskatoon 51 yard-line and set the Riot up on the Saskatoon 47 yard-line.
    The Riot marched down the field, converted three gambles on third down and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run by running back Mallory Starkey to cut the Valkyries edge to 10-7.
    Saskatoon’s edge was further trimmed to 10-8 in the third quarter, when the Riot scored a single on a 17-yard missed field goal by kicker Morgan Turner.
    Early in the fourth quarter, the Valkyries defence came up with a goal-line stand to prevent the Riot from going ahead.
    Late in the fourth quarter, the Riot went ahead 14-10 on a one-yard touchdown run by Starkey that capped a 10-play drive that covered 59 yards.
    The Valkyries attempted a two-minute drill drive to retake the lead, but the drive stalled, when Eyolfson was sacked for a big loss by Riot linebacker Adrienne Zuck.
    Zuck had another sack in the final seconds of the frame, when the Valkyries were trying to find a miracle play to go ahead.
    The win allowed the Riot to capture their second straight WWCFL title and third in team history. Regina finished with a 7-0 overall record to create the first undefeated season in team history.
    The Valkyries, who were 4-3 overall, claimed the WWCFL championship the five other times it has been handed out winning four straight crowns from 2011 to 2014 and one in 2016.
    In the aftermath of Sunday’s clash, Twitter was filled with posts saying how great the game was as well as passing on congratulations to the Riot.
    The game was shown on Access 7 in Regina, and it will likely be rebroadcast to allow more opportunities for people in Access 7s viewing area to see the encounter.
    Sunday’s contest has created some buzz in Saskatchewan for how great the WWCFL game can be.
    Both sides have strong coaching staffs with Olivier Eddie heading up the Riot and Pat Barry heading up the Valkyries.
    Both clubs are led by star quarterback in veteran Aimee Kowalski of the Riot and Eyolfson, who is still a youngster at age 20, guiding the Valkyries.
    There will be some interesting storylines to follow next season. The Manitoba Fearless improved greatly and proved they can play with the Riot and Valkyries. Will progression of the Fearless continue next season?
    The Valkyries are expected to get running back Samantha Matheson back from injury, and Dyck, who returned from injury to kick in the playoffs to perform kicking duties, is expected to return to a receiver spot with the Valkyries next season. Both have shown they are special players, and it will interesting to see if they can recreate their big performances of the past.
    The possibilities of what the WWCFL can hold in the future are endless.

Blades’ Florchuk may be steal for Capitals

The Capitals drafted Blades LW Eric Florchuk.
    When the Washington Capitals look back on the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, they might look back on their selection of Eric Florchuk as a steal.
    The Capitals picked the 18-year-old left-winger from the Saskatoon Blades in the seventh round and 217th overall in the NHL Entry Draft, which wrapped up Saturday in Dallas, Texas. Florchuk was the last player picked in the NHL Entry Draft.
    In the NFL, the final selection of the NFL Draft is dubbed with the title “Mr. Irrelevant.” The “Mr. Irrelevant” in the NFL actually gets invited along with his family to spend a week at Newport Beach, Calif., during the summer after the draft.
    The festivities include enjoying a golf tournament, a regatta, a roast where advice is given to the new draftee and a ceremony where the draftee is presented the Lowsman Trophy. The trophy mimics the Heisman Trophy, but it depicts a player fumbling the football.
    While Florchuk won’t get to spend a week having fun in Newport Beach, Calif., he has legitimate potential to an impact player for the Capitals someday.
    The Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., product was selected in the first round and 13th overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft by the Victoria Royals. As a 16-year-old rookie in 2016-17, Florchuk appeared in 51 regular season games with the Royals collecting three goals and six assists.
    In his sophomore campaign last season, Florchuk had seven goals, 21 assists and a plus-10 rating in the plus-minus department playing his first 43 games with the Royals. He was acquired by the Blades shortly before the WHL trade deadline.
    Playing on a youthful Saskatoon roster, Florchuk saw increased ice time and played in a number of different situations for the Blades. He posted nine goals, 13 assists and a plus-one rating in 28 regular season appearances with the Blades.
    He first turned heads in Saskatoon in his first home game with the Blades on Jan. 20, when he tipped home a shot from linemate Kirby Dach for the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory over the Memorial Cup hosting Regina Pats.
    Florchuk, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 173 pounds, still has a lot of potential to grow and his best days in the WHL are ahead of him. He will likely become one of the Blades top forwards, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he shaped up into being a good pro.

Raiders’ Fonstad off to Les Canadiens

The Canadiens drafted Raiders RW Cole Fonstad (#24).
    Cole Fonstad has been one of the Prince Albert Raiders most dynamic players the past two season, and his efforts were rewarded with an NHL Entry Draft selection.
    The 18-year-old right-winger was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round and 128th overall in the NHL Entry Draft, which wrapped up Saturday in Dallas, Texas. Fonstad played his first two regular season games with the Raiders as a 15-year-old call up in the 2015-16 campaign.
    In 143 career regular season games with the Raiders, Fonstad has piled up 32 goals and 68 assists. The Estevan, Sask., product has a breakthrough season this past campaign appearing in all of the Raiders 72 regular season games collecting 21 goals and 52 assists.
    He added four goals and an assist in the post-season for the Raiders, who fell in a heartbreaking best-of-seven first round playoff series 5-4 in Game 7 to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
    As Fonstad stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 162 pounds, there is always a fear that he might not get the call from an NHL club due to the fact his isn’t bigger from a physical stature perspective. During his time with the Raiders, the Estevan, Sask., product has never been afraid to go into the greasy areas on the ice.
    On the character side, the members of the Prince Albert Northern Bears female midget AAA team say he is a good guy, so that reference is good enough for me to go forward on that front.
    Fonstad is one of those players you have to get out and watch while he is still in the WHL.

GoFundMe campaign started for Vandervlis

Hurricanes C Ryan Vandervlis reacts to a goal in April of 2017.
    The road to recovery for Lethbridge Hurricanes centre Ryan Vandervlis appears it is going to be a long one.
    On June 15, Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive, Vandervlis and former team member Matt Alfaro, who currently plays for the University of Calgary Dinos, were all involved in a mishap at the family home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong just west of Calgary. Wong was hosting nine of his friends at the family residence, and they were planning to go golfing and camping the next day.
    There was an explosion from the campfire that was started that night at the Wong residence. Bellerive, 19, and Alfaro, 21, sustained burns to their upper bodies and Vandervlis, 20, sustained burns to the front of his body and was placed in a medically induced coma. Vandervlis was taken off dialysis on June 18.
    Bellerive and Alfaro are slated to have relatively short roads to recovery, but the same can’t be said for Vandervlis, who sustained critical injuries. The Red Deer, Alta., product is facing months of recovery and multiple surgeries. He is slated to enter his overage campaign in the upcoming WHL season, but hockey is the furthest thing from the minds of his family and friends.
    A GoFundMe page has been started to assist Vandervlis and his family as the WHL veteran goes through his lengthy recovery process. The campaign set a goal of raising $25,000 and over $45,400 has been raise so far.
    Vandervlis’s billet mom, Meghan Calder, gave a lengthy description of extend Vandervlis has made to leave a positive impact on the community of Lethbridge.
    Should donations exceed the actual cost of recovery, the excess amount in full will be donated in full to a not for profit organization of Vandervlis’s choice.
    In 162 regular season games played over four seasons with the Hurricanes, Vandervlis had collected 30 goals and 37 assists.
    Those looking to donate to the GoFundMe campaign for Vandervlis can do so by clicking right here.

’Riders voice shares alcohol battle story with Leader-Post

    Saskatchewan Roughriders play-by-play voice Rod Pedersen shared his story of recovering from alcohol addiction noting it almost cost him his role with the CFL team.
    Pedersen, who is now sober, has shared his personal experiences in the media in a number of instances over the past couple of years. In a recent video interview with the Regina Leader-Post, Pedersen said he was suspended from work due to his alcohol addiction and it almost cost him his livelihood.
    Even fans of opposing teams have to admit Pedersen’s road to recovery has been an amazing one. Pedersen has stirred the pot to get fans all rambunctious on the CFL circuit over the years.
    The Leader-Post video interview can be found right here.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
-------
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.