Friday, 14 June 2019

Raptors NBA title win great for Canada in a big way, Saskatoon in a quaint way

Fan in Civic Square in Saskatoon celebrate the Raptors NBA title win.
    You almost wish those Jurassic Park parties for the Toronto Raptors would have been like the Energizer Bunny and kept going and going and going.
    On Thursday, the party came to an end in a joyous fashion across Canada. People all over the country were gathered in various Jurassic Park parties watching the Raptors capture the NBA title on big screens.
    In Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., the Raptors edged past the two time defending champion and host Golden State Warriors 114-110 to take the best-of-seven series 4-2. The contest was the last NBA game to be played in the Warriors long time home facility.
    With the win, the Raptors ensured the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy would be going to a team based outside of the United States for the first time in history.
The party erupts in Civic Square when the Raptors win the NBA title.
    In a number of centres in Canada, the party went well into the night.
    In Saskatoon, a cozy gathering of about 300 people gathered at Civic Square in front of city hall. The viewing parties in Saskatoon were held over the last five games of the NBA Finals thanks to the efforts of the Saskatchewan Rattlers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League and the City of Saskatoon.
    The quaint gatherings in “The Bridge City” were a great thing. They brought together people from all sorts of different cultural backgrounds, and they were united in support of Canada’s only NBA team.
The fans at Civic Square cheer on the Raptors on Thursday.
    The event felt inclusive and fun.
    The watch parties had a similar vibe to when the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades host their annual “Welcome the World” game, where a large number of newcomers to Canada become Canadian citizens during a pre-game ceremony.
    During the three hours that the Raptors watch party took place, everyone got along and was happy.      With all the adversities that can happen in life, it was great to see a gathering where everyone can stay in a great frame of mind for a small but still lengthy stretch of time.
    Thursday’s game featured 18 lead changes and nine points when things were all tied up. Even when the Raptors were behind, there was never an overriding fear that the outcome wouldn’t go the Raptors way.
Fans at Civic Square watch the early second half of the Raptors game.
    Had the Raptors lost, it felt like there would have been an “aw-shucks” reaction.
    When the Raptors made big plays or jumped out ahead, the cheers exploded from the crowd.
    Everyone was glued to the screen for the game’s climax, when the Raptors were holding a 111-110 lead inside of the final 10 seconds. The Warriors had possession after a Raptors turnover.
    Warriors superstar guard Seth Curry had a good look at a three-point shot, and as his shot went up, you could see people in the crowd in Saskatoon were starting to think about returning for a series-deciding Game 7 watch party on Sunday.
Fans collect video of the NBA title trophy presentations for the Raptors.
    Curry’s shot missed resulting in a long rebound, which was gathered up by Warriors forward Draymond Green. Green called a timeout, but since the Warriors didn’t have a timeout, a technical foul was called against Golden State with 0.9 seconds remaining on the clock.
    At that point, the celebration in Saskatoon started to begin in earnest as it was almost impossible for Golden State to win.
    Raptors star guard Kawhi Leonard hit the free throw on the technical. He was quickly fouled on the inbounds pass and hit two more free throws to seal the final outcome.
    As the last bit of time elapsed, the crowd at the Saskatoon watch party broke into elation with people turning to hug others they just met that night.
    Leonard finished with 22 points and was named the MVP of the NBA Finals. He received big cheers when he was shown accepting his MVP honours.
A fan at Civic Square watches the Raptors during the trophy presentations.
    Big cheers went out when Raptors star guard Kyle Lowry was shown on screen as well. Lowry and forward Pascal Siakam led the way in scoring for the Raptors with 26 points each. Overall, the Raptors played a really strong team game.
    The crowd in Civic Square happily dispersed as the post-game trophy ceremony went on with a few hardcores stay until the broadcast ended at 10 p.m.
    After all the watch party viewers left, the Saskatoon Police officers who were on site proceeded to depart with big smiles on their faces. A few officers said they were happy there were no troubles and added to was great to see everyone had fun during a nice evening in “The Bridge City.”
    It was apparent they enjoyed themselves that night too.
    It was cool to see an NBA team in Toronto could provide good times in Saskatoon.

Ice ink top pick Savoie

    The Twitter accounts of numerous persons from the WHL lit up with a big signing from the Winnipeg Ice.
    On Thursday, the Ice announced they had signed centre Matthew Savoie to a WHL Standard Player Agreement. Savoie, who is a 15-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., was selected first overall by the Ice in WHL Bantam Draft held in early May.
    Last season, Savoie played with the Northern Alberta Xtreme Midget Prep team of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. He had 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 regular season games and posted three goals and nine assists in five playoff games as the Xtreme won the CSSHL Midget Prep Championship.
    Savoie captured MVP honours for the league.
    Savoie had verbally committed to join the University of Denver Pioneers men’s hockey team in the NCAA ranks in March, before changing his mind to join the Ice. The Ice brought Savoie and his family to Winnipeg to tour their training facilities at the Rink Hockey Academy shortly after the WHL Bantam Draft.
    Earlier this year, Savoie and his family applied to Hockey Canada looking to gain exceptional status for Matthew, which would have allowed him to play on a full-time basis in the WHL as a 15-year-old.
    The application was denied.
    Savoie is eligible to play five regular season games with the Ice before his club team has its season come to an end. Once the season ends for his club team, he can join the Ice on a full-time basis. He could also play games with the Ice on an emergency basis.
    In early April, the Ice acquired the WHL rights of 17-year-old left-winger Carter Savoie, who is Matthew’s older brother, in a trade with the Regina Pats.
    Last season, Carter posted 31 goals and 42 assists playing 58 regular season games in the junior A ranks with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He was named the AJHL’s rookie of the year.
    Carter has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers and said in a tweet on Thursday he intends to honour that commitment and return to the Crusaders next season.
    Still, the fact Matthew Savoie has committed to the Ice is huge for that franchise going into its first season in Winnipeg after moving from Cranbrook, B.C.

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