Thursday, 30 August 2018

All about business – Hilltops road winning streak at 20 games and counting

The Hilltops celebrate a touchdown by Ben Abrook, left, in Regina.
    When the Saskatoon Hilltops hit the road, it is all about business.
    That mindset has served the venerable Canadian Junior Football League club well. Going into Sunday’s road clash at St. Vital Mustangs Field against the Rifles (1-1) in Winnipeg, the Hilltops (2-0) are riding a 20-game winning streak on the road. 
    That streak includes three road Canadian Bowl victories in Saskatoon’s current running of winning the last four straight CJFL titles.
    “We travel well,” said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. “We have a blueprint. We have a plan, and we stick to it.
    “They are business trips. We don’t make these into fun things. We work hard, and we practice hard.
    “We take advantage of every opportunity we can to get two points (in the standings). That is a credit to the coaching staff and the team for staying focused and doing the task at hand.”
Receiver Connor Graham, right, makes a circus road catch for the Hilltops.
    The last time the Hilltops suffered a setback on the road came way back on August 17, 2014, when they dropped a 19-16 overtime decision to the Thunder at Taylor Field in Regina. That happened to be the opening regular season game for both sides in 2014, and the Thunder entered that contest as the defending CJFL champions.
    Saskatoon led that clash 13-10, when Thunder kicker William McGee hit a 35-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to create a 13-13 tie and force overtime.
    The Hilltops had the first possession of overtime and went ahead 16-13 on a 42-yard field goal from kicker Brett Thorarinsson.
The Hilltops players meet their supporters at a game in Regina.
    The Thunder won the contest on their OT possession, when quarterback Jaeden Marwick hit running back Matt Frass on a 15-yard touchdown pass to give Regina the 19-16 victory.
    Hilltops third year defensive tackle Jesse McNabb was caught off guard to find out the team’s winning streak on the road stands at 20 games.
    “It is crazy, but it speaks to the tradition that we have going here,” said McNabb, who has 1.5 sacks in the Hilltops first two games. “You team is run by your fifth years, and you win for them.
    “It is not about you. It is about the team.”
    McNabb credited the Hilltops coaches for setting the tone to have success on the road.
Hilltops QB Jordan Walls (#19) calls out signals during a road clash.
    “The coaching staff hasn’t changed for how many ever years,” said McNabb, who noted the staff continuity under Sargeant. “They do keep their mentality the same way.
    “It is kind of easy to win, when you have a good coaching staff around you.”
    Besides the coaches setting the tone, the Hilltops also have a sizable group of fans that follow them on the road. A contingent dressed in blue and gold was highly visible among the 2,043 spectators at Mosaic Stadium in Regina this past Aug. 18, when the Hilltops downed the host Thunder 41-7 in the regular season opener for both clubs.
    Sargeant said the Hilltops see a sizable number of fans in the stand no matter where they play.
    “We have a wonderful following,” said Sargeant. “So many of our families and friends come and rally and support the team.
Receiver Jason Price, right, jets upfield after making a catch for the Hilltops.
    “It makes a difference. It seems like every game is a home game. We love the energy.
    “It energizes us and gets us excited. It keeps us in check and focused so we come out and play great football. You only get to perform once a week, so you better take advantage of it.”
    McNabb said the players on the Hilltops really enjoy spending time together and love hanging out in close confines on the bus, in hotels and in restaurants on the road. When it comes time to play the game in an opposing stadium, McNabb said bonding time in those moments help the players play that much harder for each other.
    “It is always fun to be with guys,” said McNabb. “You get a weekend away from home you just focus on football.”

Durant to speak at Hilltops End Zone Dinner

QB Darian Durant (#4) fires a pass downfield for the Roughriders in 2016.
    One of the Saskatchewan Roughriders greatest all-time quarterbacks will be holding court at this year’s Saskatoon Hilltops End Zone Dinner.
    Darian Durant is slated to be the guest speaker at the End Zone Dinner, which is set for Sept. 22, at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. The gates for the event open at 4:15 p.m. with dinner scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
    The event will include a pre-game address from Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. Following dinner, the Hilltops will face the Regina Thunder at 7 p.m. at SMF Field.
    The net proceeds of the End Zone Dinner go towards the Hilltops scholarship and bursaries.
    Durant played for the Roughriders from 2006 to 2016 and guided them to a 45-23 Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 24, 2013 in the final CFL championship game ever played at Taylor Field in Regina. He was a reserve quarterback in the Roughriders Grey Cup victory in 2007. 
QB Darian Durant (#4) fires a pass down a seam for the Roughriders in 2016.
    With the Roughriders, Durant sits second in team history for career pass attempts (3,584), completions (2,226), yards (28,507) and touchdown passes (152).
    During his 12 seasons in the CFL, the 36-year-old former signal caller completed 2,500 out of 4001 passes for 31,740 yards, 167 touchdown passes and 115 interceptions. He played last season with the Montreal Alouettes and elected to retire from playing football this past May.
    The Hilltops End Zone Dinner tickets include a game ticket for that night’s clash with the Thunder. The End Zone Dinner tickets can be purchased 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.
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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

“Willo” deserves professional shot with CWHL’s Inferno

Expect Huskies’ alum to give effort to earn place at next level

Kaitlin Willoughby celebrates an OT goal in January of 2017.
    Could Kaitlin Willoughby live out a situation that is meant for a dream in Calgary?
    From 1996 to 2013, Jarome Iginla starred at right wing for the Calgary Flames, and when he left the Saddledome after practice or a team function, he almost always stopped at the gates to the team parking lot and signed autographs for all the fans that were waiting there. He became one of the Flames most beloved players thanks to the culmination of small little actions like that.
    Willoughby, who graduated as the captain of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team after last season, may one day have to stop and sign autographs for fans outside of the home rink of the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
    On Sunday, the 23-year-old Prince Albert, Sask., product, who originally hails from Canwood, Sask., was selected in the seventh round and 37th overall in the CWHL Draft held in Toronto, Ont., by the Inferno. The Inferno have a partnership with the Flames making the NHL franchise a major supporter of the CWHL club.
    The CWHL is a professional women’s hockey league established in 2007, and it mimics the National Lacrosse League in establishing a sustainable business model.
    Willoughby announced publically on her Twitter account on Sunday she plans to follow through on her draft selection and join the Inferno. Inferno training camp is slated to run Sept. 19 to 23 in Calgary. The CWHL regular season usually begins in October.
Kaitlin Willoughby gets set to fire a shot on goal for the Huskies.
    A number of steps still have to transpire for Willoughby, who stands 5-foot-6, to ever attain star status in the CWHL. The speedy and skilled right-winger is part of the top one per cent of female players in Canada, and she deserves this opportunity.
    During her time with the Huskies, Willoughby finished as the second all-time leading scorer with the program recording 111 career points in 132 regular season games. Her career regular season goal total of 50 ranks third all-time and career regular season assist total of 61 is fourth all-time in team history.
    Last season, Willoughby finished fifth in Canada West regular season scoring with nine goals and 10 assists in 26 regular season games.
    She has attended the women’s summer camp run by Hockey Canada in 2016, 2017 and earlier this month and helped Canada win silver at FISU Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in February of 2017.
    Still, Willoughby will join the Inferno coming in as an underdog looking to make an impact on the CWHL ranks. If she makes an impact, she could possibly open more doors in her hockey future like getting a shot to make Canada’s senior national women’s team.
    The six-team CWHL is made up of players from Canada, the United States and Europe who are all part of the top one per cent of female players in the world. Willoughby will be facing numerous players that are veterans of senior national team programs and have played in the Winter Olympics.
    At this point in time, Willoughby will likely rank at the bottom of that top one per cent of female players in the world. That won’t change until she does something to raise her stature at that level.
    Willoughby will be really busy with her new life as a professional player as well, but she has already handled schedules that contain very little down time. The CWHL is also a working women’s league, where most of the players work full-time career jobs away from the game.
Kaitlin Willoughby gets set to start a rush up ice for the Huskies.
    Players can earn $2,000 to $10,000 per season playing in the CWHL and teams operate under a salary cap of $100,000. Willoughby is still finishing her studies in the nursing program at U of S, so her efforts to finish that program will have to be worked around her hockey schedule similarly to when she played with the Huskies last season.
    In order for female players to continue with hockey at an elite level when their university careers wrap up, everyone who is part of a players’ support system have to be “all in” to make it work.
    Willoughby has had the unconditional support of her family and friends since her minor hockey beginning in Canwood, and the number of people who back her have multiplied over the years. She will have the support system, when she makes that jump to become a pro.
    As far as the on-ice aspect of game is concerned, Willoughby needs to play in the CWHL and with the top one per cent of players in the world to get even better at the game. When she starts skating with the Inferno on the CWHL circuit, Willoughby will likely find she likes it.
    Everybody will have an elite skill set, and she will start to realize there are more opportunities to be creative with her linemates. She will probably discover she has more space to make plays due to the fact she won’t be the target of agitator type players that will try to do something underhanded to get her off her game like in the U Sports ranks.
    At the CWHL level, anyone trying to engage in an agitation type tactic really opens themselves up to being exploited by a skilled play.
Kaitlin Willoughby looks to make a play in the offensive zone.
    Most of the other players in the CWHL are usually good character persons, so Willoughby will find that enjoyable too.
    One thing that Willoughby does have that gives her an advantage over the other players in the league is the fact she can respond and act in a positive way when things go wrong or there is a really disappointing outcome in a big game. On the media front, Willoughby can responsibly handle tough questions from a tough and even a controversial loss, and she can get herself refocused to do better the next time out.
    While the most of the players in the CWHL are good character people, a lot of them don’t know how to handling things when the water gets really rough, because they have never experienced that before. With the CWHL’s playoff and all-star games airing on television, the intangible of Willoughby’s ability to handle that type of adversity has to be remembered.
    In getting to this point in her hockey career, Willoughby has earned her way here. Playing for the Prince Albert Northern Bears female midget AAA team from 2008 to 2013, she recorded 34 goals and 63 assists in 96 career regular season games. She was the team’s captain in her final season with the Bears.
    Skating in an era of the SFMAAAHL when players like Emily Clark, who is now on Canada’s senior national women’s team, and Olivia Howe were putting up insane point totals, Willoughby was viewed as a good player but not a guaranteed blue-chip prospect. She improved greatly during her university career and outscored and outperformed players that scored more than she did in the midget AAA ranks.
    In my time dealing with Willoughby, I will never say she can’t do something lofty or seemingly unattainable, because I will end up looking bad, when she goes out and does it.
    Willoughby still has potential to keep improving in the future, and her best still yet to come. It is great to see that she will have a chance to reach new peaks in the sport.

Back in the Express with cover story on Dach

The cover of this week’s edition of the Express.
    I was back in the Saskatoon Express this week with a cover story on Saskatoon Blades centre Kirby Dach.
    The Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., product is entering his 17-year-old sophomore season with the Blades. As a 16-year-old rookie last season in the WHL, Dach piled up seven goals and 39 assists in 52 regular season games.
    Earlier this month, Dach helped Canada win gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which was held jointly in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta. The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is the annual best-versus-best under-18 hockey tournament.
    At that event, Dach played right wing on a line that featured Peyton Krebs of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice at centre and Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic at left wing. Dach netted two goals and five assists helping Canada post a 5-0 record at that event.
    I came away from the one-on-one interview with Dach more impressed than I had been with him before. I liked the demeanour he had, when I asked him about handling agitation tactics from opposing teams in the WHL.
    His approach is similar to what former Regina Pats star centres Adam Brooks and Sam Steel and former Swift Current Broncos star right winger Tyler Steenbergen follows. That is a very good sign for Dach.
    The hard copies of the Express containing the story on Dach can be found at stands and locations throughout Saskatoon. You can also check out the story on Dach by clicking on the link right here.

Four years ago today Sermon goes live

    Crazy to think that four years ago today the first post ever went live here on the Stanks’ Sermon blog.
    I started this blog more as a vehicle to get back to writing. I had left my position as a sportswriter with the Medicine Hat News on June 30, 2014 to make a family move to Saskatoon.
    I had been settled in Saskatoon for about a month, when I typed my first post. That post contained thoughts that ran through my head on what it was like to be back in Saskatoon and back living in the province of Saskatchewan.
    I was trying to figure out what my role and identity would be in the community. I find that it has seemed to change over the last four years.
    I have enjoyed continuing to cover the sports scene through this blog. I have gained a tonne more awesome memories I never thought I would make, when I arrived in Saskatoon a little over four years ago.
    With that in mind, I don’t plan to look back at various memories I have made at this moment. I love marveling how simple my first post looked. It didn’t contain a single picture, which is one aspect I know everyone enjoys when they see my posts.
    If you like to look back on that first post from August 29, 2014, you can do so 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.
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Saturday, 25 August 2018

Klisowsky fits in as new O-line starter, Hilltops hammer Colts

Ryder Klisowsky, left, is the Hilltops new starting left guard.
    Ryder Klisowsky was ready to be a starter on the Saskatoon Hilltops offensive line, but that still didn’t prevent him from being attacked by pre-game nerves.
    On Saturday, the fourth-year Watrous, Sask., product made his second career start for the Hilltops slotting in at the left guard position on the offensive line. Klisowsky and the Hilltops first offensive unit piled up 354 yards of offence and a 45-0 lead by halftime of a Canadian Junior Football League regular season clash with the Calgary Colts.
    With the offensive starters getting a rest for the second half, the Hilltops cruised to a 59-1 victory before 1,065 spectators at Saskatoon Minor Football Field to improve to 2-0 on the campaign. The Colts fell to 0-2.
    Klisowsky went the distance in the Hilltops 41-7 regular season opening win over the Thunder in Regina on Aug. 18. The 21-year-old has enjoyed the anticipation that comes, when a start closes in.
Ryder Klisowsky, right, forces a Colts pass rusher into a double team.
    “It is a big change,” said Klisowsky, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 318 pounds. “It was kind of nerve-racking the first couple of games, because I’ve never really started.
    “It was an interesting thing to play a whole game and start off. I like it, and it feels good to start finally.”
    When he attended Winston High School in Watrous, Klisowsky played six-man football. He was placed in a pure offensive line position in the six-man game, which he said eased his transition to the 12-man game.
    In the six-man game, some offensive linemen can become pass receivers.
    “It wasn’t that bad of a change,” said Klisowsky. “It was kind of easier coming, so you didn’t have to run patterns or anything.
    “It was just straight up blocking.”
Ryder Klisowsky, left, protects the Hilltops pass pocket.
    In his preparation to become a starter with the Hilltops, Klisowsky said he was able to refine his game due to the help of the club’s long time offensive line coach in Donnie Davidsen.
    “He (Davidsen) has been a good help,” said Klisowsky. “He is a nice coach. He is great on the line.
    “He knows his stuff. He helps us out a lot. It is nice to have him around.”
    Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant was pleased by the effort put in by the Hilltops starting offensive line on Saturday. The four other starters include Kirk Simonsen at right tackle, Taylon Elderkin at right guard, Patrick Arno at centre and Mason Ochs at left tackle.
    Simonsen, Elderkin and Ochs were all Prairie Football Conference all-stars last season, while Simonsen and Ochs earned nods as CJFL all-Canadian all-stars. 
Ryder Klisowsky (#61) gets set at the line of scrimmage.
    Simonsen took home honours as the PFC’s most outstanding lineman last season as well.
    “Ryder (Klisowsky) is fantastic, and they all played great,” said Sargeant. “We know we are physical.
    “We know we can run and pass for the most part. The tape we are putting out is pretty good tape right now.”
    Klisowsky faced the challenge of fitting in as the only new starter on the Hilltops offensive line replacing Jack Sloboda, who exhausted his CJFL eligibility at the end of last season, coming into the current campaign.
Joshua Ewanchyna (#18) ran for a pair of touchdowns for the Hilltops.
    “I had to kind of mesh with them better, but I think we are doing well as a unit so far,” said Klisowsky. “We need to work on some more things, but I think we’re getting to that point that we are feeling good as a unit.”
    During his time with the Hilltops, Klisowsky has helped the club win CJFL titles in his first three campaigns with the team. He said that has been a highlight along with being around the rest of the players on the squad.
    “It is a blast,” said Klisowsky. “We are all a good group of guys.
    “It is all fun. We all have a good time on and off the field. It is nice to start and be a part of it all.”
    The Hilltops are trying to win an unprecedented fifth straight CJFL title this season, but Klisowsky said no one on the team is dwelling on the “drive for five” concept.
Keegan Dicks secures a catch near the sidelines.
    “It is in the back of everyone’s mind for sure, but we try to focus on our next game,” said Klisowsky. “That is our most important is the next game coming up.”
    The Hilltops stormed out to a 17-0 lead with just 6:12 elapsed in Saturday’s game as running back Joshua Ewanchyna ran in major scores from three and 20 yards out respectively and David Solie booted a 46 yard field goal.
    Saskatoon’s edge expanded to 31-0 by the end of the first quarter thanks to a one-yard plunge by fullback/defensive tackle Garth Knittig and a 12-yard touchdown reception from receiver Tanner Rhode, which was thrown by star quarterback Jordan Walls.
    In the second quarter, Walls hit receiver Keegan Dicks with an eight-yard touchdown toss and ran in a major score from 10 yards out to give the host side a 45-0 lead.
    Hilltops backup quarterback Tyler Hermann started the second half. In the third quarter, he connected with receivers Dillan Heintz and Carter Norrish on respective 31 and 27 yard touchdown passes to give the Hilltops a 59-0 advantage.
Hilltops DT Garth Knittig stops Colts RB Vad Wayne Kiana.
    Shortly before the third quarter expired, Colts kicker Dylan Pye scored a single on a missed 31-yard field goal attempt to round out the 59-1 final score.
    Walls connected on 14-of-19 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Ewanchyna ran the ball 11 times for 98 yards and scored two touchdowns.
    The Hilltops piled up 163 yards rushing and 348 yards passing of gross offence as a team.
    The Colts had 109 yards rushing and 80 yards passing of gross offence.
    Defensive tackle Jesse McNabb had four tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery for the Hilltops. 
    Backup defensive end Connor Delahey had a pair of sacks for the Hilltops, while fellow backup defensive end Jordan Seipp also had a sack.
    Safety Brant Morrow had an interception for Saskatoon.
Hilltops receiver Carter Norrish (#88) zips to the end zone after a catch.
    “We certainly challenged our team that we want to come out and play at a high level of great execution on offence, defence and specials teams, and we did that,” said Sargeant. “At the end of the day, it was fun to watch, fun to coach and fun to play.
    “More importantly, we got to build some capacity and got a lot of players on the field and that is only going to make us practise better and compete better and make this team better in the long run.”
    The Hilltops return to action on Sept. 2, when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Rifles (1-1).

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Friday, 24 August 2018

Capitals’ Stephenson set to bring Stanley Cup to Humboldt

Chandler Stephenson is all smiles holding the Stanley Cup.
    Chandler Stephenson’s smile was a mile wide when he brought the Stanley Cup to Kiwanis Memorial Park in Saskatoon on Thursday.
    The 24-year-old centre helped the NHL’s Washington Capitals win hockey’s most storied trophy back in June. During a public event that lasted two-and-a-half hours on Thursday afternoon, people were able to come to Kiwanis Memorial Park to have their picture taken with the Cup and meet Stephenson and get their pictures taken with him.
    On Friday, Stephenson is taking the Stanley Cup to Humboldt. When the Capitals held a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup championship series over the Vegas Golden Knights, Stephenson said he intended to bring the storied prize to Humboldt, if Washington locked up the set.
    Moments after the Capitals down the Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 in Las Vegas on June 7, Stephenson vowed to bring the Stanley Cup to Humboldt.
A couple of young fans get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup.
    The promise came with hope it will help the small Saskatchewan city of about 6,000 people to continue to heal in the aftermath of the April 6 bus crash involving the junior A Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
    On that day, the bus that was carrying the Broncos to play a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game in Nipawin was involved in a collision with a semi-truck just north of Tisdale. The unthinkable event resulted in the deaths of 16 players and team personnel.
    Stephenson is friends and trains in the off-season with Broncos players and crash survivors Brayden Camrud and Kaleb Dahlgren.
    “(I’m) just (hoping) to give back to that community and hopefully put some smiles on people’s faces,” said Stephenson, who has six goals and 12 assists in 67 regular season games with the Capitals last season. “(I) just (want to) make it a good day.
Chandler Stephenson, right, signs and autograph for a young fan.
    “I know the community deserves it.”
    Stephenson will be joined by more than a dozen former and current NHL players for Humboldt Hockey Day, which was organized by the NHL and NHLPA to celebrate the strength and resilience of the community. 
    Stephenson and the Stanley Cup will be at the Elgar Petersen Arena from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., and interactive games and street hockey contests are slated to run from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.
    Humboldt Hockey Day also coincides with the first day of Broncos training camp.
The line of people to see Chandler Stephenson and the Stanley Cup was long.
    As for Thursday’s stop at Kiwanis Memorial Park in Saskatoon, the line to see Stephenson and the Stanley Cup stretched from the Vimy Memorial almost all the way to the Broadway Bridge at one point.
    Parents with young children made up the majority of the people that came out to see Stephenson and the Cup. A sizable contingent of Stephenson’s family members were on hand, and it was obvious he knew some of the people who were waiting in line.
    Through the whole session, it seemed like it was impossible to erase the huge smile that was on Stephenson’s face. The graduate of the WHL’s Regina Pats said he was enjoying all the festivities.
    “It was pretty crazy, the anticipation to get it,” said Stephenson, who had two goals and five assists appearing all of the Capitals 24 playoff games in their Stanley Cup winning run. “To have it, it has been a lot of fun.”

Blades open training camp on Saturday

The Blades are set to begin training camp on Saturday.
    The Saskatoon Blades are slated to open their training camp on Saturday.
    Players will meet at the Elite Performance Centre for registration and fitness testing on Saturday. On Sunday, the 39 forwards, 26 defencemen and nine goaltenders brought into camp will be divided into four teams for a series of scrimmages to be held at the SaskTel Centre.
    Scrimmage games are slated for 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. on Sunday. They continue with contests slated for 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on Monday.
    The scrimmages conclude on Monday with a third place game at 2 p.m. and a first place game at 4 p.m. The winning team gets awarded the Kirkness Cup, which is named after long time dressing room attendant Bobby Kirkness.
    Last season, the Blades post a solid 35-33-3-1 record playing out of an incredibly tough East Division in the WHL. Saskatoon fell three points shy of the Prince Albert Raiders (32-27-9-4) for the second wildcard playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
    The Blades had the seventh best record in the 12-team conference in missing the playoffs.
    The Blades open their regular season schedule on Sept. 21, when they travel to Swift Current to face the Broncos. Those two clubs meet again on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre to mark the Blades regular season home opener.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Thursday, 23 August 2018

Hilltops’ Peters expands horizons at ’Riders camp

Cody Peters was the most outstanding linebacker in the PFC last season.
    Cody Peters will go outside of his comfort zone to prove he can play, even if it means he will take his lumps.
    The 22-year-old star linebacker for the Saskatoon Hilltops attended training camp with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders back in late May and early June. He earned the chance to be on the Roughriders practice roster, and he helped that spot for about two weeks into the regular season before he fractured his ankle. He healed up in time to be ready for the Hilltops season.
    At Roughriders training camp, Peters saw action at every linebacker spot, and he played in the secondary at defensive halfback, cornerback and safety. The experience in the secondary proved to be eye opening, when Peters had to line up against the Roughriders veteran receivers.
    “It was a little overwhelming at first, because I have never played DB before in my life until that point,” said Peters, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 215 pounds. “I think the biggest issue for me was just trying to get the playbook down and learning all the plays for each position.
    “It was scary at times, because those guys are just so fast compared to this. That was also my first time playing DB, so it was a lot to take at once.”
    Overall, Peters enjoyed his time at Roughriders camp, which he attended alongside Hilltops star third-year defensive back Colton Holmes. Peters was opening to trying new things hoping that the Roughriders coaches would notice his willing to learn and see that approached everything with a good attitude.
Cody Peters in action at Roughriders training camp in May.
    “It was unreal for me to go up there and experience that and play with all those professional athletes and just get that opportunity to be out there,” said Peters, who has helped the Hilltops win the last four straight CJFL championships. “Those guys are just phenomenal athletes with just the stuff they can do out there.
    “I learned a few like new techniques and different ways to play and prep for the game.”
    With the experience he gained with the Roughriders, Peters’ confidence grew and he said he started to really believe that he could play in that circuit one day.
    “I would like to think so,” said Peters. “That is sort of the dream of what I am striving for.
    “You never know what could happen.”
    Now in his fifth and final season with the Hilltops, Peters is an established star in the Canadian Junior Football League. Last season, he recorded 30 tackles, 12 assisted tackles and one pass knockdown in eight regular season games. Thanks to those efforts, Peters was named the most outstanding linebacker in the Prairie Football Conference and a PFC all-star.
    Going into the current campaign, he cracked the CJFL’s top 50 to players to watch list at the seventh spot.
    “Cody number one he is a terrific kid,” said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. “He has just every year got better and better. He works so hard.
    “(He has) a respectful demeanor, work ethic and he is a great teammate. Ultimately at the end of the day, forty-four gets in between the lines he makes a lot of plays. He was out best playmaker on defence on Saturday night.
Cody Peters (#44) charges out of the tunnel with the Hilltops.
    “He forced two fumbles. He is always around the ball. He is so with it, understands what is in front of him, and he can really accelerate and make plays. He is fun to watch and a great kid.”
    Peters had a standout game for the Hilltops last Saturday, when they downed the Thunder in Regina 41-7 in the CJFL regular season opener for both teams. The graduate of Saskatoon’s Bethlehem High School had five tackles and two assisted tackles to go along with his two forced fumbles.
    Sargeant said the fact Peters spent as much time as he did with the Roughriders brings more confidence and experience back to the Hilltops. Overall, the Hilltops legendary sideline boss was pleased how things went for both Peters and Holmes at Roughriders training camp.
    “Number one, we really respect the Saskatchewan Roughriders for allowing us the opportunity to send a few players,” said Sargeant. “This year, we sent two defensive players in Cody Peters and Colton Holmes. They represented.
    “They went out there and showed what Hilltop football is all about. I know they performed well. They both got injured during the process, which is unfortunate. 
    “It is my job to give opportunity. It is their job to kick a door down. I feel real good about what transpired, and hopefully, there will be more opportunity in the future for them at the pro level.”
Cody Peters (#44) aims to enjoy every moment of his final CJFL campaign.
    The Hilltops return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Calgary Colts (0-1) at 7 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. While the Hilltops had a good season opening win against the Thunder, Peters said his team can still improve.
    “There was a little rust to shake off in that first game,” said Peters. “We have some things we need to correct to come out playing a lot better in the next game.”
    As the campaign progresses, Peter is focused on savouring every experience from his final CJFL season.
    “Right now, I’m trying not to think too much about it,” said Peters. “I’m just trying to enjoy living in the moment right now.”
    NOTE - On Tuesday, Hilltops running back Ben Abrook was named the CJFL’s offensive player of the week for his efforts in the club’s win last Saturday against the Thunder. Abrook carried the ball 27 times for 171 yards, and he scored three touchdowns. 

“Doubles” is coming to Saskatoon

Darian Durant (#4) will speak at the Hilltops End Zone Dinner.
    Recently retired legendary Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant is on his way to “The Bridge City.”
    The 36-year-old former signal caller is slated to be the guest speaker at the Saskatoon Hilltops End Zone Dinner, which is set for Sept. 22, at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. The gates for the event open at 4:15 p.m. with dinner scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
    The event will include a pre-game address from Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. Following dinner, the Hilltops will face the Regina Thunder at 7 p.m. at SMF Field.
    Durant played for the Roughriders from 2006 to 2016 and guided them to a 45-23 Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 24, 2013 in the final CFL championship game ever played at Taylor Field in Regina. He was a reserve quarterback in the Roughriders Grey Cup win in 2007.
    With the Roughriders, Durant sits second in team history for career pass attempts (3,584), completions (2,226), yards (28,507) and touchdown passes (152).
    During his 12 seasons in the CFL, Durant completed 2,500 out of 4001 passes for 31,740 yards, 167 touchdown passes and 115 interceptions.
Darian Durant scores an overtime TD for the Roughriders in 2016.
    He played last season with the Montreal Alouettes and elected to retire from playing football this past May.
    The Hilltops End Zone Dinner tickets include a game ticket for that night’s clash with the Thunder. The End Zone Dinner tickets can be purchased 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.
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Saturday, 18 August 2018

Abrook goes beast mode in Hilltops 41-7 romp at Mosaic

Ben Abrook (#32) jets home on a 22-yard touchdown run for the Hilltops.
    REGINA, Sask. – The Regina Thunder likely saw enough of Ben Abrook for one night.
    The third-year Saskatoon Hilltops running back left a host of would be Thunder tacklers laid out all over the turf at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday making the first start of his Canadian Junior Football League career.
    When the dust settled, Abrook ran the ball 27 times for 171 yards and scored three touchdowns as the four time defending CJFL champion Hilltops rumbled over the Thunder 41-7 in the regular season opener for both sides played before 2,043 spectators.
    Abrook’s biggest run came with 32 seconds remaining in the first half. With the Hilltops holding a 13-7 lead and gambling on a third-and-one situation at the Thunder 22 yard line, Abrook powered the ball on a run off the left off tackle and darted home for his second touchdown of the game to put the Toppers up 20-7.
Hilltops RB Ben Abrook powers his way through all obstacles.
    The 20-year-old’s dash to pay dirt capped a 105-yard touchdown drive.
    “It was awesome to get our (offence) all the way down the field and get a touchdown,” said Abrook. “It felt awesome to the team. It gave us confidence.”
    Abrook was looking forward to running behind the Hilltops starting offensive line made up of right tackle Kirk Simonsen, right guard Taylon Elderkin, centre Patrick Arno, left guard Ryder Klisowsky and left tackle Mason Ochs.
    “The O-line couldn’t have played better,” said Abrook. “I owe it all to them honestly.
    “It is just a veteran O-line group. They do it.”
The Hilltops celebrate a third touchdown from Ben Abrook (#32).
    Lost in Abrook’s overpowering performance was the fact Hilltops fifth-year starting quarterback Jordan Walls had an outstanding night. Walls hit eight different receivers completing 20-of-29 passes for 316 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
    Still with the Hilltops having lost Adam Marchart to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team in the U Sports ranks and Joshua Ewanchyna sitting out Saturday’s game with a minor ailment, Abrook’s impact was a welcome sight to Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant.
    “Ben Abrook is a third year, and this is his time,” said Sargeant. “He was ready to go.
    “What we thought we knew, now we know. He is a primetime player, played his butt off today and everyone rallied around him. We all know that Josh (Ewanchyna) is a key player to what we are going to be doing this year.
Receiver Connor Graham comes down with a circus catch for the Hilltops.
    “Ben has moved up the ladder. He has got more opportunity. He is going to get more touches to continue to impact games like he did today.”
    Abrook scored his first touchdown on a six-yard run that capped the Hilltops first offensive series of the game early in the first quarter, which happened to be the first offensive possession of the contest.
    The Thunder tied things up at 7-7 later on in the opening 15-minutes, when quarterback Brock Sich hooked up with receiver Tanner Zaharia on a deep 41-yard touchdown pass.
    Saskatoon exited the first quarter holding a 10-7 lead after David Solie booted home a field goal from 42 yards out. 
Hilltops DB Logan Bitz sacks Thunder QB Brock Sich.
    Near the midway point of the second quarter, Solie hit a 36-yard field goal to give the Hilltops a 13-7 lead.
    Late in the second quarter, it appeared the Hilltops would be pinned deep in their end of the field, when they started a drive at their own five yard line. On a fairly well-executed march that included a couple of circus catches from receiver Connor Graham, the Hilltops drove for a key score that put them in control of the contest at halftime holding a 13-point lead.
    “That is just experience,” said Sargeant. “We went with a different formation.
    “We were able to put some guys in spots. Connor Graham made some big catches all the way down the field that set that up. That was Connor’s touchdown.”
    Early in the third quarter, Abrook ran in his third touchdown of the contest to give the Hilltops a 27-7 edge.
QB Jordan Walls threw for 316 yards for the Hilltops.
    Just 12 seconds into the fourth quarter, Walls hit Matt Turple with a six-yard touchdown toss to give the Hilltops a 34-7 advantage. After substituting in a number of backup players, the Hilltops rounded out the game’s scoring with 2:22 to play, when running back Kelton McLean scored on a one-yard plunge.
    Sich completed 13-of-24 passes for 205 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Thunder gained 233 yards as a team through the air and 66 yards on the ground.
    Hilltops third-year defensive back Logan Bitz helped disrupt the Thunder passing game with three well-timed halfback blitzes. He picked up a key sack in the third quarter after the Hilltops went ahead 27-7.
    “That is how I got on the field last year is that coach likes me blitzing,” said Bitz. “That is my kind of calling card I guess.
    “It is nice to get out there and show I can get do something different that everybody else doesn’t do, like get out there and make my mark. Hopefully, I will get a couple more this year.”
Hilltops DB Logan Bitz (#23) and LB Landon Schutte (#46) make a tackle.
    Bitz said this was the first campaign he was slated to be a full-time starter on the Hilltops defence. The graduate of Saskatoon’s St. Joseph High School received a boost of confidence with how Saturday’s game played out.
    “I woke up this morning in a minor panic attack,” said Bitz. “I was flailing everywhere. I didn’t know what to do.
    “I just finally got here, and I think after the first quarter it was finally out when I make a couple of plays and couple of tackles. It was just like, ‘OK, I can play in this league and not be an average player and make some plays. Overall, I can make my mark.’”
Hilltops RB Kelton McLean picked up a few fourth quarter carries.
    Fifth-year receiver Jason Price topped the Hilltops with 74 receiving yards coming off three catches. Veteran Thunder receiver Lee Brown led all pass catchers with eight receptions for 113 yards.
    The Thunder return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Winnipeg Rifles at 4 p.m. at Leibel Field.
    The Hilltops return to Saskatoon to host their home opener this coming Saturday against the Calgary Colts at 7 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
    Overall, Sargeant liked what he saw from his squad in the opener, but he still sees room for improvement going forward.
    “I’m very proud,” said Sargeant. “At the end of the day, I wasn’t happy with how we started with a lot of little mistakes, but you know first game jitters.
The Hilltops celebrate their season opening victory.
    “Once we got through that, the team started to roll with the flow. Young guys were making plays. We had a lot of guys running around making plays, and we felt good about that and lots to build on.
    “There are a lot of correctable things I am still not very happy about, if you know my style. We’re going to pound on these guys hard and keep the expectations even higher, so we come out and play even better.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Friday, 17 August 2018

Hilltops approach “drive for five” in similar way to past seasons

Jason Price, right, zips downfield on a touchdown catch for the Hilltops.
    Saskatoon Hilltops plan to soak in each moment, because they expect the 2018 season will pass quickly.
    The Toppers are embarking on a quest to win an unprecedented fifth straight Canadian Junior Football League title. Last November, they became the first team to win four straight CJFL titles, when they romped over the host AKO Fratmen in Windsor, Ont., 56-11 in the Canadian Bowl.
    The Hilltops open this year’s regular season on Saturday, when they travel to Regina to face the Thunder at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium. Saskatoon tops the CJFL’s power rankings, while Regina is rated eighth.
    While the CJFL campaign is still in its infancy, Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant expects time will pass at a rapid pace.
    “When we had our kickoff meeting, I talked to the fifth years,” said Sargeant. “In a blink of an eye, they are in their fifth year, and this is it.
    “We’re very proud that people stay loyal and committed to this program. The biggest reason we win is because of our fifth-year players. We coach and honour that.
The Hilltops celebrate a touchdown last season at Mosaic Stadium.
    “We expecting big things, expecting them to make a lot of plays and have a lot of fun with it. That is what Hilltop football stands for. It is about family, about fun and about playing together and going for the ultimate goal we set is winning the championship for our fifth-year players.”
    With those words, the Hilltops will approach their “drive for five” in similar fashion to past seasons. For as long as anyone can remember, Sargeant has talked about playing to honour the fifth-year players by helping them depart their playing days as champions.
    Naturally, fifth-year star quarterback Jordan Walls is focused on embracing every moment in his final campaign with the team. He admits to becoming more aware about how quickly time goes by.
    “I’ve tried not to think about it too much about the last year,” said Walls, who topped the CJFL’s pre-season top 50 players to watch list. “It is in the back of your mind.
    “It is taking it one day at a time. It is hanging out with your buddies, having fun in the locker room and getting to business on the practice field.”
QB Jordan Walls fires a pass downfield for the Hilltops.
    Walls is confident the Hilltops will play under control and not get over anxious trying to figuratively win a fifth-straight Canadian Bowl on every play.
    “We’re just approaching it like business as usual,” said Walls. “We’ve got a veteran squad here.
    “We have lots of guys returning from last year. We’re excited to finally get on the field for Saturday for sure.
    “They are not handing out the Canadian Bowl after every game. We’ve got a long season ahead. We just have to approach it every week, take our practices seriously and then get into the games, respect our opponents and get at it.”
    Sargeant said the Hilltops did a great job of staying in the moment last season in posting an 11-1 overall record in winning a fourth straight national title, and the 20th CJFL championship in team history. The sideline boss said that experience will help, but the Hilltops of the current year will ultimately write their own story.
    “It is always good to learn from the past, but every year each team creates their own identity and what they stand for,” said Sargeant, whose team has won seven out of the last eight Canadian Bowl games. “This team is already different than last year’s team.
Hilltops HC Tom Sargeant is already to go.
    “I think we are going to do things a little differently. We have to coach and build towards their strengths. They have to build their own individual and team confidence so when they come out and play, this uniform certainly stands for unbelievable tradition and high expectations.
    “They have to match that and honour that knowing they have the biggest bullseye in Canada. We embrace that. We are excited about that. We can’t wait to get this show on the road.”
    The two sides met in the Prairie Football Conference final last October, which the Hilltops claimed 36-24 after scoring a late fourth quarter touchdown to seal victory.
    “It is always a challenge playing Regina,” said Walls. “They come in and they are tough and they are physical.
    “They fly around, and they make a lot of plays. They never quit. That is something we found out a lot last year, especially the two games at SMF Field.
    “They were down, and at times, they looked like they were out. They clawed back and fought back every drive and made the game come right down to the wire.”
    When the Hilltops travel to Regina, they are usually followed by a large convoy of fans from Saskatoon. The Toppers supporters have done a great job of making the crowds mixed ones during their stops in Regina.
    Actually, the Hilltops fans in recent years have done a great job in creating a presence at most of the club’s road games. Sargeant said that type of support is appreciated and is special for the team.
The Hilltops fans like to flood the stands on team road trips.
    “It seems like every game is a home game,” said Sargeant. “We have great support and a great following. That is what makes us so proud.
    “Everyone is for one another. There is not a lot of big egos around here. Everyone is just working hard and knowing that we have a big job ahead of us.
    “We love the pressure. We love the challenges. We love what is in front of us, and I love this team. If we do the right things, good things happen for the Saskatoon Hilltops.”

Blades trio gets boost with Hlinka Gretzky Cup win, other notes

Kirby Dach stood out playing for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
    Victory at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup should give a Saskatoon Blades trio some great positive vibes heading into the 2018-19 season.
    Centre Kirby Dach, netminder Nolan Maier and first year Blades head coach Mitch Love all helped Canada take the event’s gold medal game 6-2 over Sweden last Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta. Love was an assistant coach on the Canadian side working under head coach Andre Tourigny, who is the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s.
    The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is a best-versus-best tournament featuring the top national teams in the world in the under-18 age group.
    Dach, who will enter is 17-year-old sophomore season with the Blades, captured the attention of media and hockey personnel at that event with his play. The Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., product, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 181 pounds, recorded two goals and five assists in the five games Canada played, which were all wins.
    Sweden actually jumped ahead 2-0 early in the gold medal game, and Dach netted the equalizer for Canada with 5:25 remaining in the first period to even things up at 2-2. That was part of Canada’s six-goal surge to finish that contest.
    Maier, who stands 6-feet and weighs 168 pounds, started four games for Canada posting a 3.12 goals against average, a .872 save percentage and one shutout. The Yorkton, Sask., product, who will enter his 17-year-old sophomore season with the Blades, made 34 saves in Canada’s 6-5 overtime victory in a semifinal game Aug. 10 against the United States.
Nolan Maier played four game for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
    There was a bit of a controversy in the semifinal clash with the United States, because Canada scored inside of the final second of the third period to tie things up at 5-5 and force overtime. 
    Video review showed the puck went into the net after time expired on the equalizer, but the goal counted as all teams agreed before the tournament that video review couldn’t be used. The original call on the ice was the shot was a goal.
    Maier had a rough start in the gold medal game turning away one of three shots sent his way before being pulled for Taylor Gauthier, who plays for the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, at the 11:33 mark of the first period. Gauthier turned away all 16 shots he faced in relief in Canada’s win.
    Despite being pulled in the final game, the tournament was still an overall good experience for Maier playing in a high-level event.
    Love kept adding to what is starting to become a lengthy resume with his accomplishments contributing to Canada’s gold medal win from behind the bench. The 34-year-old product of Quesnel, B.C., has worked his way up the coaching ladder to get to the point to become the head coach of the Blades.
    He joined the Blades after spending seven seasons on the staff of the Everett Silvertips. Love came on board with the Silvertips in 2011 as an assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach. He was an assistant coach and an assistant to the general manager this past season.
    As one of the Silvertips bench bosses, Love helped Everett finish third overall in the WHL’s regular season standings with a 47-20-2-3 mark this past season. In the playoffs, the Silvertips advanced all the way the WHL Championship series, where they fell 4-2 in the best-of-seven set to the Swift Current Broncos.
Blades HC Mitch Love was an AC for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
    During his years with the Silvertips, Love was also an assistant coach for a couple of Canadian teams at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in 2015 and 2016. The under-17 tournament saw Love earn a gold medal working with Team Canada White.
    Overall, Dach, Maier and Love became the first members of the Blades to be part of Canada’s entry at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup since defenceman Duncan Siemens helped Canada win goal in 2010, when the event was still known as the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
    As another bonus, Dach, Maier and Love got a head start in getting to work together for the first time before training camp rolls around. The Blades players are expected to start cycling back to Saskatoon after the weekend for training camp activities that will likely start mid to late next week.  
    The Blades missed the WHL playoffs last season despite posting a solid 35-33-3-1 record playing out of a tough East Division.
  • Blades forward Gage Ramsay announced his retirement from junior hockey on Friday. Ramsay, who will turn 20-years-old in October, appeared in 63 regular season games with the Blades last season collecting six goals and 14 assists. In 166 career regular season games split between the Vancouver Giants and the Blades between 2014 and 2018, Ramsay posted 18 goals and 19 assists. He has elected to pursue post-secondary studies and will attend Saskatchewan Polytechnic in September.
  • Saskatoon Stars defender Abby DeCorby has committed to join the Ryerson University Rams women’s hockey team for the 2019-20 season. DeCorby, who stands 6-feet, hasn’t missed a regular season game in her two full campaigns with the Stars recording seven goals and 21 assists in 56 regular season games in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League. The defensive defender had three goals and 12 assists in 28 regular season games last season. She is entering her final season with the Stars, and will turn 17-years-old in early November. DeCorby played in the SFMAAAHL as an underage player in the 2015-16 campaign registering two goals and four assists playing all 28 regular season games with the Prince Albert Northern Bears.
  • Medicine Hat, Alta., has to be in full party mode, as the Medicine Hat Mavericks captured their third Western Major Baseball League title in team history on Thursday night. The Mavericks took the best-of-five set claiming a series deciding Game 5 by an 8-2 final over the Regina Red Sox at Athletic Park in Medicine Hat. Mavericks infielder Carson Johnson was named the WMBL playoff MVP. In 13 playoff games, Johnson had 18 hits and five walks in 54 at bats.
  • The Delisle Chiefs of the junior B Prairie Junior Hockey League announced Eric Ditto and David Richard will be returning to the club’s coaching staff for the upcoming campaign. Ditto, 27, enters his fourth season as the team’s head coach joining the club partway through the 2014-15 campaign. Richard, 29, enters his second season as an assistant coach. Back in the 2004-05 campaign, Richard helped the Saskatoon Contacts midget AAA team win a Telus Cup national title playing forward. He moved on to play four seasons in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds recording 42 goals and 60 assists in 256 regular season games. Former Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders forward Dustin Cameron makes his debut with the Chiefs as an assistant coach. From 2004 to 2010, Cameron, 29, appeared in 284 regular season games with both the Blades and Raiders piling up 86 goals and 84 assists. He was the Raiders captain in his final two campaigns in the WHL running from 2008 to 2010.
  • After spending four seasons as an assistant coach with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s and men’s hockey teams, Scott Dutertre is leaving Saskatoon to become an assistant coach with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos made that announcement on Monday. Dutertre is well-known in the Saskatoon area coaching players individually in skill development camps. The Broncos also hired Brandin Cote as an assistant coach. Both Dutertre and Cote will be working under the guidance of new Broncos head coach and director of hockey operations Dean Brockman.
  • Defenceman Connor Cox has signed on with the professional hockey ranks. Cox will join the Dundee Stars in Scotland for the upcoming season. Cox, 26, just finished a five-year playing career with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team in the U Sports ranks appearing in 120 regular season games from 2013 to 2018 collecting nine goals and 40 assists. He graduated with his business degree and a major in finance. Before joining the Huskies, Cox played five seasons in the WHL from 2008 to 2013 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Blades and Silvertips appearing in 278 regular season games collecting 12 goals and 93 assists.

Help return gear to Huskies’ alum Cooke

    Former U of Saskatchewan Huskies goalie Jordon Cooke experience an unwelcome downer embarking on his first season of professional hockey.
    Cooke departed to France to play for Gap Rapaces, but Air Canada lost all his goalie gear and his suit during the voyage from Canada to France. Cooke shared on Twitter on Thursday that Air Canada informed him his gear can’t be located.
    The 25-year-old was a member of the Huskies for the past four seasons, and he posted a 16-7 record, a 2.29 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and three shutouts last season.
    This is a shot in the dark, but here is Cooke’s initial tweet about his missing gear in case anyone finds these items.

Tiger-Cats’ Crawford gets engaged

    The feel good social media post of the week goes to Hamilton Tiger-Cats long snapper Aaron Crawford.
    One of the CFL’s top good guy, Crawford brought his girlfriend from the Hamilton, Ont., area to his hometown of Medicine Hat, Alta., with the Tiger-Cats enjoying a bye week.
    He proposed to her at the Methanex Bowl, which is the stadium in that Hat that hosts high school and minor football, and she said, “Yes.”
    The couple brought Crawford’s Tiger-Cats jersey and his Crescent Heights High School Vikings football jacket for the occasion.
    I should note Crawford and I were teammates for the 2006 season for the now defunct Medicine Hat Marauders senior tackle football team of the Alberta Football League, so I am happy to see this development.
    Those in Saskatchewan might remember that Crawford played for the CJFL’s Thunder as a linebacker in 2006 and 2007. The Tiger-Cats return to action on Aug. 23, when they host the Edmonton Eskimos.
    Crawford posted engagement photos on Instagram on Friday.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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