Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Blades need to continue community efforts

Chase Wouters, right, signs autographs at a post-game skate with the Blades.
    The Saskatoon Blades can’t get complacent when it comes to being involved in the community.
    In a fickle market like Saskatoon that is becoming more and more saturated with sports teams, you have to keep doing the school visits, appearances at community functions and having game themes that involve the community to keep your team’s brand in the minds of the people.
    The Blades ended the 2018-19 campaign on a high note. They returned to the WHL playoffs for the first time since 2013 posting a WHL’s fourth best regular season record at 45-15-8.
    Their roster was filled with numerous likable players like captain Chase Wouters, Kirby Dach, Nolan Maier, Max Gerlach, Riley McKay, Dawson Davidson, Brandon Schuldhaus, Gary Haden, Ryan Hughes, Kyle Crnkovic, Randen Schmidt and Dorrin Luding.
Riley McKay, right, has fun with a young fan at a skate with the Blades.
    Saskatoon won its first WHL playoff series since 2011 sweeping the Moose Jaw Warriors 4-0 in a best-of-seven first round series.
    That set up a showdown with their archrivals the Prince Albert Raiders, who finished first overall in the regular season standings with a 54-10-2-2 mark.
    The Blade fell in an intense six-game series. The Raiders advanced on to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions.
    Saskatoon’s season ended with a 6-3 loss to Prince Albert in Game 6 of that second round clash. That contest was played at the SaskTel Centre and drew 10,521 spectators.
    While the Raiders had a large contingent of fans following their team down from “Hockey Town North,” it would be safe to say 70 per cent of the people in that crowd were out to support the Blades. Over five playoff home games, the Blades drew an average of 7,428 spectators per contest.
The Blades are active with school visits like this on in January of 2018.
    Saskatoon averaged 3,911 spectators per game over 34 regular season home dates in 2018-19, which was an increase from the 3,851 spectators per game the club drew in 2017-18 for 36 home dates.
    A surge at the gates late in the regular season in 2018-19 helped the Blades show a small improvement in average attendance. The most uplifting sight was the fact the Blades drew attendance figures of 4,270, 4,555, 4,454 and 9,188 in each of their respective final four home regular season games.
    The positive momentum the Blades had built by the end of the campaign can potentially create a false sense of security or the perception that the good times are about to roll.
Some of the performers that are seen at the Blades’ First Nations night.
    In Saskatoon’s sports scene, it seems like a team can fall of the cliff and lose all its positive momentum about 10 times faster than it took to build it up.
    Going into the 2019-20 campaign, the Blades need to continue their community ground game they have had since Edmonton product Mike Priestner became the owner of the team before the start of the 2013-14 campaign.
    Steve Hogle was the brains behind a lot of the community and game day initiatives the Blades put forward, when he became the team’s president before the 2013-14 campaign.
People take their citizenship oath at the Blades’ “welcome the world” game.
    Two of the most memorable are the when the Blades hold their First Nations night game and their “welcome the world” game. The latter sees about 45 newcomers to Canada become Canadian citizens.
    While both of those nights usually involve a tonne of moving parts, they create a feeling of inclusion, which helps attract new fans.
    Hogle stepped down from the president’s role after the Blades were eliminated from the 2019 WHL playoffs but will continue to be an alternate governor with the Saskatoon franchise. Hogle’s new role will allow him to live back in Edmonton, where he and his wife, Cathy, will be closer to family.
Steve Hogle was behind lots of the Blades community and game day events.
    Cliff Mapes, who is a veteran WHL executive, stepped down as the Blades vice-president of business operations after the team was eliminated from the playoffs. He has since joined the staff of the rival Raiders as their executive director of business operations.
    With Hogle residing more in Edmonton and Mapes departing to Prince Albert, the youngsters are left to execute the community and game day initiatives for the team.
    Blades general manager Colin Priestner has taken on the president’s role. Tyler Wawryk was promoted from being the team’s manager of communication to director of business operations.
    The club’s business operations staff is filled with young faces like Kim Varty, Maclean Nelson, Eric Anderson, Allie Lindal, Caitlyn Gray and Mat Lukash.
The Blades community involvement helps bring out the fans.
    Ryan Lafontaine, who is the Blades director of finance and administration, is a long time office veteran, but he is still on the younger side of the age spectrum.
    Overall, I think the youngsters are ready to run and continue what Hogle and Mapes did.
    Going into the 2019-20 season, the Blades will return popular players like Wouters, Maier and Crnkovic. Dach could end up playing in the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him third overall in June’s NHL Entry Draft and have signed him to a three-year NHL entry-level contract.
    If Dach returns, he becomes another good person the Blades can have in the community.
Blades right-winger Ryan Hughes sends a stick to the fans last season.
    Actually, head coach Mitch Love has the potential to be another person that can become enduring in the community. He has always become popular in his previous WHL stops most notably as a player and coach with the Everett Silvertips, but also as a player with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos.
    Blades have always been strong when it comes to community and game day initiatives since Mike Priestner became the team’s owner.
    For the Saskatoon club, this is a “do not fix what isn’t broken” spot and something that needs to continue in the future.

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Saturday, 27 July 2019

Slobodzian back in Hockey Canada groove with Summer Showcase invite

Stars grad looks to earn time with national development team

Willow Slobodzian takes part in a skating session in Saskatoon.
  Willow Slobodzian will never take an invite to a Hockey Canada camp lightly.
    The 19-year-old defender, who is a graduate of the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA team, is one of 45 players slated to skate at the National Women’s Development Team Selection Camp, which runs Aug. 2 to 11 in Calgary, Alta.
    Athletes at this camp are playing for the chance to compete against the United States in a three-game series from Aug. 14 to 17 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
    The development team selection camp is part of Team Canada Summer Showcase that features more than 240 of Canada’s top men’s and women’s players. 
    Camp action is already underway on the men’s side.
Willow Slobodzian has played two seasons with the NCAA’s Big Red.
    Slobodzian was a member of Canada’s under-18 women’s team in the 2017-18 campaign, and she helped Canada win bronze at the under-18 women’s worlds in Dmitrov, Russia, in January of 2018.
    Last summer, she didn’t receive invites to any of Hockey Canada’s summer camps, so the Clavet, Sask., product is pumped to be going back this year.
    “I’m excited,” said Slobodzian, who stands 5-foot-7. “To say I am not a little nervous, I would be lying.
    “I wasn’t there last year, so it will fun definitely to go play with some old teammates and some teammates that I currently have. Overall, it will be a great time. I’m just really excited.”
    Slobodzian is coming off a successful sophomore campaign with the Cornell University Big Red women’s hockey team, where she appeared in all of her squad’s 36 games posting four goals, eight assists and a plus-22 rating in the plus-minus department.
Willow Slobodzian played for Canada’s under-18 women’s team.
    Cornell, which is located in Ithaca, N.Y., advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Frozen Four women’s hockey championship tournament in Hamden, Connecticut.
    The Big Red fell 2-0 in a semifinal match to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
    Slobodzian plays on a deep defensive unit at Cornell that includes Jamie Bourbonnais and Micah Zandee-Hart, who have both skated with Canada’s senior national women’s team. Both are eligible to return for their senior years with the Big Red.
    Bourbonnais will be at national development team selection camp along with Big Red forwards Grace Graham and Kristin O’Neill, who will both be seniors next season. O’Neill has skated with Canada’s senior national team as well.
    While Slobodzian enjoys the fact she will see some familiar faces at the national development team selection camp, she is focusing on her mental game heading into that event.
    “I think what is important for me personally is just going in there believing in myself and knowing that I was invited for a reason and that I belong there,” said Slobodzian. “I’ve prepared myself all summer, and whatever happens, happens.
Willow Slobodzian played in the NCAA’s Frozen Four.
    “It is very controllable. It is up to me to see how I do. I know if I put my mind to it I can do as well as I can.”
    Slobodzian said it has helped her game playing in a Cornell team that has a deep defensive unit and is well coach. She said her hockey smarts have improved during her two seasons with the Big Red.
    “Working with Jaime (Bourbonnais) and Micah (Zandee-Hart) and all the other girls, we all push each other in practices,” said Slobodzian. “We all push each other during games as well.
    “It is just amazing. We push each other, and we are always getting better. It is great to work with them, because everyone has like high goals in mind.”
    Slobodzian will also see some familiar faces from her midget AAA days. The list of invites includes her former Stars teammates in sisters Sophie and Grace Shirley, who are both skilled forwards and regulars in Hockey Canada’s system.
    Sophie had a huge freshmen campaign helping the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team win the NCAA championship. She appeared in 41 games posting 20 goals, 18 assists and a plus-36 rating and was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference rookie of the year.
Willow Slobodzian had a memorable sophomore season with the Big Red.
    Grace captained the Stars last season. In her final midget AAA campaign, she led the Stars in scoring with 27 goals and 21 assists in 25 regular season games.
    Grace helped the Stars win their fourth Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League title in the last five years. The Stars appeared in the Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament in each of those seasons.
    Slobodzian is looking forward to seeing the Shirley sisters again.
    “It will be awesome,” said Slobodzian, who helped the Stars win SFMAAAHL titles in 2015 and 2016. “It will feel like old times I think.
    “I love those girls. We have great friendships. It will make the camp that much more fun and enjoyable.
    “Being on the ice with them too, I’ll definitely enjoy it. They are great players. It is fun to play with them.”
    Brooke Hobson, who is a former captain with the Prince Albert Northern Bears female midget AAA team, rounds out the Saskatchewan representation at the national development camp. 
Willow Slobodzian in action with the Stars in 2016.
    Hobson posted six goals, 22 assists and a plus-27 rating in 38 games helping the Northeastern University Huskies women’s team advance to a quarter-final match in the NCAA championship tournament.
    The Big Red downed the Huskies 3-2 in overtime in that quarter-final encounter in Boston, Mass. Slobodzian had an assist in that encounter.
    She enjoyed her sophomore campaign with the Big Red.
    “The season was unreal,” said Slobodzian. “It was so much fun.
    “Being able to go as far as we did was an amazing experience. Throughout the whole season, our team just got better and better and came closer together. It was just a really great year overall.
    “I loved it.”
    In 2017-18, Slobodzian joined the Big Red for her freshman campaign, while she was still eligible to play a 17-year-old season in the midget AAA ranks. Slobodzian appeared in 25 games with the Big Red that season posting three goals, five assists and a plus-13 rating.
    She said she entered her second season with the Big Red with more confidence, because she felt more comfortable balancing the rigours of school as an arts and sciences major and hockey.
Willow Slobodzian, sitting, enjoys the Stars SFMAAAHL title win in 2016.
    Looking towards her junior season after Hockey Canada activities wrap up, Slobodzian believes special things can be in store for her Big Red squad.
    “Returning for my junior year, personally I want to see our team start right we ended off as a great close group and continue to move on from there and not have to take any steps backwards with the incoming freshmen and losing some seniors,” said Slobodzian, who was the Stars captain in 2016-17. “I really hope that we can just start off where we left.
    “To not go as far as we did last year would be a huge disappointment, because I know we have a very special group of girls that can do the same thing we did last year even if not more. I’m really excited. I’m hoping for the best for our team.”

Lind, Messier highlight invites to under-18 women’s camp

Taylor Lind is the SFMAAAHL’s second all-time leading scorer.
    Two of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s all-time bests will be featured at Hockey Canada’s National Women’s under-18 Selection Camp.
    Now graduated Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats captain Taylor Lind and now graduated Saskatoon Stars star offensive-defender Ashley Messier are among the 44 players slated skate at the under-18 camp from Aug. 2 to 11 in Calgary, Alta. The under-18 camp is part of the Team Canada Summer Showcase that is going on right now with men’s camps.
    The players at the under-18 women’s camp are competing for the chance to go up against the United States in a three-game series from Aug. 14 to 17 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
    Last season with the Wildcats, Lind topped the SFMAAAHL in scoring for the second time in three years posting 29 goals and 31 assists for 60 points appearing in all of her team’s 28 regular season games.
    The skilled centre is the second all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL posting 93 goals and 77 assists for 170 points in 83 career regular season games.
    The Shaunavon, Sask., product is eligible to return to the Wildcats to play her 17-year-old season in the midget AAA ranks. Lind will be moving up to the NCAA ranks in the fall suiting up for the St. Cloud State University Huskies women’s hockey team in St. Cloud, Minn.
    The star forward originally committed to play for the Lindenwood University Lions women’s hockey team in St. Charles, Missouri, but after the Lions head coach was released by the team, Lind entered the transfer portal and joined St. Cloud State.
Ashley Messier was a stellar offensive-defender for the Stars.
    Messier, who is from Wilcox, Sask., had another stellar campaign playing on the Stars blue-line last season appearing in all of her team’s 28 regular season games setting new career highs in goals (five), assists (27) and points (32). For her efforts, Messier captured the SFMAAAHL’s Colleen Sostorics Top Defenceman award and helped the Stars win the SFMAAAHL title and advance to the Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament.
    In three campaigns with the Stars, Messier has appeared in 84 regular season games posting 11 goals and 58 assists.
    Last year, Messier went to camp with the United States under-18 women’s team and played against Canada in a three-game exhibition series.
    Messier is eligible to return for her 17-year-old season in the midget AAA ranks but will play for the Selects Girls Hockey Academy at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, N.Y., for her Grade 12 year. She has committed to play for the Cornell University Big Red women’s hockey team in the NCAA ranks starting in the 2020-21 campaign.
    Rounding out the Saskatchewan invites for the under-18 camp is feisty defender Brooklyn Stevely. Stevely had a solid campaign last season for the Regina Rebels. She appeared in all of her team’s 28 regular season games collecting one goal and 15 assists.
    Stevely helped the Rebels advance to the SFMAAAHL championship series and was named a first team SFMAAAHL all-star.
    She is eligible to return to the midget AAA ranks for her 17-year-old season but has elected to play for the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy women’s prep team in Kelowna, B.C.

Bohlken, Bourassa join U Sports all-stars at Summer Showcase

Leah Bohlken had a breakout season for the Huskies.
    Two of the top players from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team will have a chance to further cement a place on Hockey Canada’s radar.
    Defender Leah Bohlken and forward Bailee Bourassa are among the 21 players who will suit up for the U Sports women’s all-star team as part of activities involving the selection camp for Canada’s National Women’s Development team.
    The U Sports team will take part in training camp activities and take part in a series of five exhibition games from Aug. 2 to 11 in Calgary, Alta. The five exhibition games include one contest against France, two against Japan and two against Canadian national development team hopefuls.
    Last year, the U Sports squad won three out of four exhibition games including two contests against Canadian national development team hopefuls.
    Last season in her fourth year with the Huskies, Bohlken had a breakout campaign appearing in 27 regular season games posting career highs in goals (nine), assists (seven) and points (16). The Moose Jaw, Sask., product posted plus-three rating in the plus-minus department.
    Bohlken was a first team Canada West all-star.
    Last March, Bohlken helped Canada’s women’s team win a silver medal at the FISU Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Canada fell in a 2-0 heartbreaker in the gold medal final to the host Russian side.
    Bourassa completed her third year with the Huskies appearing in 27 regular season games posting career highs in goals (five), assists (11) and points (16). The Weyburn, Sask., product posted a plus-one rating.
Bailee Bourassa had a career season with the Huskies.
    Before joining the Huskies, Bourassa played for her hometown Weyburn Gold Wings female midget AAA team. She scored the winning goal in the championship game to allow the Gold Wings to down the Edmonton Thunder 2-1 in the 2014 Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament in Stoney Creek, Ont.
    Also suiting up for the U Sports squad is Saskatoon product Hannah Koroll, who plays for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds women’s hockey team. Koroll, who is an alum of the Prince Albert Northern Bears female midget AAA team, completed her rookie season with the Thunderbirds appearing in 28 regular season games posting two goals, five assists and a plus-one rating.
    Regina product Miranda Hatt rounds out the Saskatchewan born players on the U Sports team. Hatt finished her rookie season with the Saint Mary’s University Huskies appearing in 25 regular season games posting four goals, 14 assists and a plus-six rating.
    The U Sports squad is led by forward Alex Poznikoff of the University of Alberta Pandas. Poznikoff was named the U Sports player of the year last season and topped the Canada West Conference in scoring with 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points in 27 regular season games.
    Poznikoff had a plus-34 rating and helped the Pandas win their 13th Canada West title.

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Sunday, 21 July 2019

FIBA 3x3 tourney brought three years of thrills to Saskatoon

Gasper Ovnik drives the ball for Team Piran.
    As soon as Adin Kavgic’s long two-pointer went in, the party was over for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Saskatoon Masters tournament.
    The 32-year-old forward’s shot from beyond the arch finished off a 21-14 championship game victory for Slovenian’s Team Piran against Serbia’s Team Vrbas on Sunday at the intersection of 4th Avenue and 21st street.
    The win allowed Team Piran to take home a US$30,000 prize for first place. Team Vrbas was awarded US$20,000 for second place.
    This marked the third straight year Saskatoon has hosted a FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters stop, and Saskatoon’s three-year agreement with FIBA to hold this event has come to an end.
    The three editions of the tournament have allowed hoops fans in “The Bridge City” to see a unique brand of high-action basketball in a three-versus-three format.
Anze Srebovt passes the ball to a Team Piran teammate.
    All games go to 21 points or whatever the final score is after 10 minutes. Shots inside the arch are worth one point and shots outside of the arch are worth two points.
    There is a 12-second shot clock, and the ball has to be cleared beyond the arch. After a basket is scored, it is live for the other team to take possession where the ball falls.
    Under these rules, it feels like the play is non-stop.
    Locally, the tournament received an extra boost thanks to the success of Team Saskatoon during the first two years.
    In 2017 and 2018, Team Saskatoon was comprised of Michael Linklater, Michael Lieffers, Nolan Brudehl and Edmonton, Alta., product Steve Sir.
    Linklater, Lieffers and Brudehl are best remembered in Saskatoon for helping the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball team capture their first and to date only U Sports national men’s basketball title in 2010.
    At the FIBA World Tour Masters stop in Saskatoon in 2017, Team Saskatoon made the event’s championship game falling to 21-14 to Team Ljubljana from Slovenia.
The FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters stop contains a cool dunk contest.
    During that run to the title game, it felt like Team Saskatoon was experiencing a Huskies nostalgia tour. With the noise that was present, you would have thought you were at a Huskies playoff hoops game at the Physical Activity Complex on the U of Saskatchewan campus.
    The two sections of stands that are brought down from the SaskTel Centre for this hoops event were overflowing with spectators when Team Saskatoon hit the court.
    In 2018, Team Saskatoon made it to the semifinal round of the playoffs falling 21-15 to Team Novi Sad from Serbia.
    Team Saskatoon went into this year’s tournament with a revamped lineup. Linklater was the only returnee, and the 36-year-old said this year’s event in Saskatoon would be his final FIBA 3x3 tournament.
Michael Linklater in action with Team Saskatoon in 2018.
    Linklater, who also plays professionally with the Saskatchewan Rattlers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, said he will be retiring from competitive basketball once the Rattlers season comes to an end.
    Along with Linklater, Team Saskatoon’s roster contained Troy Gottselig, Willie Murdaugh and Shane Osayande.
    Gottselig was another former member of the Huskies 2010 U Sport national championship team, and he played with Team Saskatoon when it was first formed in 2010.
    Osayande was a more recent graduate from the Huskies program and currently plays with the Rattlers.
    Murdaugh, who is 49-years-old, was another former member of Team Saskatoon, who came out for a final hurrah.
Steve Sir in action with Team Saskatoon in 2018.
    Sir was still playing in the tournament with his hometown Team Edmonton.
    The new look Team Saskatoon failed to qualify for the playoff round losing both its pool play games in the event’s opening day on Saturday.  
    Team Saskatoon fell 22-18 in its first game to Team Liman from Serbia and dropped a 16-14 final to Team Kranj from Slovenia.
    While Linklater didn’t experience a storybook finish at this year’s tourney, he will go down as a player who had a huge positive impact on his First Nations community. Linklater showed what type of doors could be opened in basketball as a player.
    Despite the fact Team Saskatoon didn’t take part in Sunday’s playoff action, spectators still came out filling about 80 per cent of the stands. The local Serbian contingent vocally supported teams from their home country.
The FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters tourney bring out the crowds.
    The action on the court was phenomenal with four out of the seven playoff game being decided by either one or two points.
    The dunk and shootout contests were sweet.  Justin Darlington from Ajax, Ont., won the dunk contest taking home a US$2,500 prize. Kyle Landry of Team Edmonton claimed the shootout contest to capture a US$500 prize.
    The championship game looked like it would come down to the wire as Team Piran led Team Vrbas 15-13 with three minutes to play. Team Piran closed the contest with a 6-1 run to pick up the win.
Adin Kavgic cheers his championship clinching shot.
    Guard Gasper Ovnik from Team Piran was named the MVP of the event.
    You can bet the popularity of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Saskatoon Masters tournament played a part in the CEBL electing to put a team in Saskatoon.
    For the last two years, Saskatoon’s FIBA 3x3 World Tour stop has included a sizable beer gardens that has hosted an outdoor party.
    As the FIBA 3x3 World Tour stop was held in conjunction with the Taste of Saskatchewan festival, downtown Saskatoon became an extra busy place.
    FIBA 3x3 World Tour Saskatoon Masters tournament became something a sizable number of people in Saskatoon looked forward to in the summer. It could also be argued the fact it was held in “The Bridge City” for a three-year stay insured it didn’t become a stale event.
Team Piran is all smiles after a championship victory in Saskatoon.
    With three-versus-three basketball becoming a new sport for 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, that style of basketball will continue to draw interest in the future.
    The fact the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Masters stop enjoyed the success it did might mean Saskatoon could one day host some other FIBA event. For now, it was great to see how warmly the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Saskatoon Masters tournament was received in this three-year run.

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Saturday, 20 July 2019

Clark’s place cemented in Raiders’ lore

Donn Clark 1962- 2019

Donn Clark on the Raiders Wall of Honour.
    It seems like the young people in Prince Albert love a certain colourful story about the late Donn Clark.
    The colourful story happened on Feb. 11, 2005, and those who were eight years of age or younger then enjoy hearing about it. Those listeners would be age 22 or 23 and younger now.
    Back on Feb. 11, 2005, Clark was the general manager of the Prince Albert Raiders who were hosting the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a WHL regular season clash at the Art Hauser Centre. The game went to overtime with the two sides locked in a 3-3 tie.
    At the 1:45 mark of overtime, Hurricanes left-winger Kris Versteeg hauled down Raiders captain and standout defensive defenceman Luke Fritshaw with a hook behind the Prince Albert net.
    Versteeg jumped on the loose puck and centred it to linemate Tyler Redenbach. Redenbach shot the puck past Raiders star netminder Rejean Beauchemin to give Lethbridge a 4-3 victory.
    Due to the fact the Hurricanes scored the winning goal on a play that should have resulted in an obvious penalty to Versteeg, Clark came storming on to the ice after referee Ryan Agar protesting the non-call.
    The Raiders and their fans weren’t pleased that night with the work performed by Agar and linesmen Paul Brunen and Zac Wiebe. Debris rained down to the ice surface from the 2,115 spectators in attendance showing their displeasure for the non-call that cost the Raiders the game.
    During that scene, Clark and Raiders head coach Peter Anholt proceeded to pursue Agar.
    At the time, I was working for the Medicine Hat News in my first season covering the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers as a beat writer, but I still heard that story from afar with keen interest. I covered the Raiders as a beat writer for the Prince Albert Daily Herald the three previous campaigns.
    The Hurricanes arrived in Medicine Hat to play the Tigers five days after that controversial win over the Raiders.
    I visited with Hurricanes general manager Darren Stocker before that clash with the Tigers, and he still couldn’t believe how that win over the Raiders played out.
    Stocker told me I should have been at that game. Stocker said Clark absolutely lost it that night.
    The Hurricanes general manager admitted the Raiders really got jobbed in that game, but his side wasn’t going to complain about being on the good side of fortune.
    Stocker said he was sitting among the crowd with a couple of Hurricanes staffers, and the Raiders fans in their section gave the look of rage towards the Lethbridge bunch sitting with them.
    Stocker said it seemed like some of the fans thought the Lethbridge side had conspired with the officials against the Raiders. The Hurricanes boss said he explained to the fans all those on his side were just as surprised as they were, and the Lethbridge squad didn’t have anything to do with what the officials called or didn’t call.
    Out of that story you saw Clark’s passion for the Raiders in a visible form. Raiders fans who were so young that they don’t have the most clear recollections of that time love hearing that story, or it seems they do when I visit “Hockey Town North” and tell it.
    Now as young adults or in their late teens, those fans enjoy hearing how Clark was out to stick up for his guys and was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, when the Raiders were hosed by a non-call by the officials.
    On March 1, the Raiders inducted Clark as a builder on to the Raiders Wall of Honour. Clark was still alive, but he wasn’t able to be at the Art Hauser Centre that night due to his battle with cancer.
    His brother and legend with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, Wendel, was in Prince Albert to accept the honour and offer thanks on behalf of the family. Donn Clark passed away the next day on March 2 in the palliative care unit at the St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon.
    The Kelvington, Sask., product was 56 years of age and two days shy of his 57th birthday. Clark and I both happen to have birthdays on March 4.
    Clark was a defenceman for the Raiders during their inaugural season in the WHL in 1982-83. He was the club’s head coach for two seasons from 1993 to 1995.
    During the 1994-95 season, the Raiders finished third overall in the WHL with a 44-26-2 mark and advanced to a league semifinal series against the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Wheat Kings claimed the best-of-seven series in a deciding seventh game.
    Had the Raiders won that Game 7, they would have advanced to the Memorial Cup tournament to play for the CHL title. The Kamloops Blazers had won the other WHL semifinal series that year, and they were the host squad for the Memorial Cup.
    Due to the fact the Blazers made the WHL final, their opponent in that series was guaranteed a berth in the four-team field at the Memorial Cup.
    Clark left the Raiders following that season. He returned to the club as head coach at the start of the 2000-01 campaign.
    At the beginning of the 2001-02 season, Clark held both the role of head coach and director of hockey operations. With the Raiders facing financial struggles, it was his idea to break up the general manager’s role into the roles of director of hockey operations and director of business operations to ensure the club’s business aspect got the attention it deserved.
    First Bob Twyver and then Robin Davie proceeded to get the Raiders back on their feet financially in the director of business operations role.
    Shortly into that campaign, Clark gave up the head coach role to focus on the player personnel side of the team to get that aspect of the club on good footing. He even got the better of Brandon Wheat Kings head coach, general manager and owner Kelly McCrimmon on a couple of trades.
    Clark’s position morphed back into the role of general manager at the start of the 2004-05 campaign, when the Raiders were again healthy on and off the ice. That season with a group of players that were extremely popular in the community, the Raiders went on “The Run” and advanced to the WHL Eastern Conference Championship series falling in seven games to the Wheat Kings.
    The Raiders wouldn’t go on another long playoff run until winning the WHL title this past season and advancing to the Memorial Cup.
    Clark remained the team’s general manager until being ousted on Jan. 14, 2008.
    During the time Clark was with the Raiders in a coach or management role over his two stints, the person that was the general manager of the Raiders immediately received heaps of fan criticism similar to the fan criticism heaped on any person that becomes general manager of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
    Looking back on time, I believe Clark dealt with that situation as well as anyone could have. He came up with the Wall of Honour idea for the Raiders and was quick to say he would probably never be on it.
The 2004-05 Raiders team picture including Donn Clark.
    I remember Clark telling me there would always be people that didn’t like Donn Clark, and he was content to live with that being an “it is what it is” situation.
    When I first arrived in Prince Albert in May of 2001 to work as a sports reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald, Clark gave me all his contact info and phone numbers during our first meeting.
    Over the years, he always returned phone calls and messages.
    At one point in the first half of the 2003-04 season, I remember stressors were coming up all over the place, and looking back, I wasn’t reading things with the team correctly.
    Clark set up a meeting in his office, where I met with him and Anholt. Clark knew the criticisms that had come up against him in town.
    Clark said whatever might come up that raises a concern his office door is always open.
    He went on to say if I have to come and yell “Clark you’re and asshole,” he said that was fine too.
    Clark said to come in, say that and we’ll talk about it.
    For the rest of Clark’s days on earth, that meeting allowed so many things to hit new heights even after I had left Prince Albert.
    About a month-and-a-half after that meeting, my father passed away from cancer, and the Raiders were a great family-type support system during that moment in time.
    I rode the bus with the team during in division road trips, and that made for great memories. During those trips, I learned how thoughtfully Clark could speak on all sorts of subjects.
    After I moved to Medicine Hat, I went out for Halloween once as NFL diva receiver Terrell Owens in 2006. The Raiders were in for a road game shortly after that, and Clark gave me the good-natured gears about my Halloween night out during a morning skate.
    I almost fell down laughing, because he was able to find out about that night from someone in town.
    Even when he was battling cancer for about the last four years, Clark would not let on with how he was doing in email or social media exchanges regarding his health. He always encouraged me in my freelance sports media pursuits and with the work I did on this blog.
    I remember this one email message he sent, where I was amazed at how beautifully written it was. Clark showed off another talent I didn’t know he had.
Donn Clark shakes hands with Evan Fiala at the Blades 2017 home opener.
    As the Raiders marched on to finish first in the WHL’s regular season standings and win the league crown this past campaign, it was great to see any difficulties people in Prince Albert might have had with Clark were buried in the past.
    It was cool to see that he was being remembered now in a fond way, and his place in Raiders lore was secure. For Raiders fans, Clark will always be one of theirs.
    I should note that doesn’t discount his time with the Saskatoon Blades. Clark was with the Blades for the full 1981-82 season and small parts of the 1980-81 and 1982-83 campaigns as a defenceman.
    Those involved with the Blades 1981-82 campaign are really close, and that group has taken the passing of Clark and Bruce Gordon in 2017 hard. Gordon, who also passed away from cancer, was a captain with the 1981-82 squad.
    Clark was the Blades head coach from the start of the 1995-96 season and was released part way through the 1997-98 campaign.
    Clark liked to show a tough exterior, but he really did have a soft interior. After he passed away, I saw lots of stories over social media telling about Clark’s various acts of kindness.
    Overall, he will always be identified for his time as a coach and an executive with the Raiders.
    Today at 2 p.m. at the Legion Hall in Kelvington, Sask., people from all over the hockey world will arrive to celebrate Clark’s life.
    It is safe to say all who knew him will miss someone who was as genuine as Clark was.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

From Rams to ’Riders – Ryan’s football life comes full circle

Jon Ryan boots a punt for the U of Regina Rams in 2002.
    Jon Ryan’s most famous play in the NFL came via his arm and not his punting leg.
    On January 18, 2015, Ryan was playing for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, who were trailing 16-0 in the third quarter of the NFC Championship Game to the visiting Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.
    Facing a fourth-and-10 at the Packers 19 yard line, the Seahawks sent out their field goal unit. Ryan served as the holder on the field goal team for place kicker Steven Hauschka.
    The Seahawks called for a fake. Ryan, who was born and raised in Regina, Sask., took the ball, rolled to his left and floated a 19-yard touchdown pass to offensive tackle Garry Gilliam to cut the Packers lead to 16-7.
    Seattle rallied to win that contest 28-22 in overtime.
    Ryan is still the last Canadian born player to throw a touchdown pass in an NFL conference title game thanks to his toss on that fake field goal against the Packers, who he broke into the NFL with in 2006 and 2007.
Jon Ryan sets up to punt during Roughriders training camp.
    “It was pretty cool,” said Ryan. “It was quite the experience to be able to throw a touchdown pass and be able to do a fake, not only that but in a game of that magnitude.
    “To be able to represent Canada in that situation meant a lot to me.”
    These days, Ryan is back in his hometown playing for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. After four games, the 37-year-old has punted the ball 24 times for the league’s second highest average at 47.5 yards per kick.
    The Roughriders (1-3) are slated to host British Columbia Lions (1-4) at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium.
    Until the start of this season, Ryan hadn’t played in the CFL since starting his professional career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2004 and 2005.
    With the Bombers in 2005, Ryan appeared in 17 regular season games punting the ball 118 times for an average of 50.6 yards per kick. That average yards per kick is still a CFL record for most punt yards per kick for one season.
    After his time with the Bombers, Ryan played 12 straight seasons in the NFL with the Packers and Seahawks appearing in 191 career regular season games. Over that time, he punted the ball 914 times for 40,895 yards and averaged 44.7 yards per punt.
Jon Ryan (#9) is the recognizable hometown face with the Roughriders.
    Ryan admits his days with the Bombers seem like a long time ago. He is happy things worked out that he was able to return to the CFL with the Roughriders.
    “It has been cool,” said Ryan, who stands 6-feet and weighs 217 pounds. “It has kind of been a dream, a goal for a long time.
    “It is just kind of coming to fruition now. It is fun to be out here with the guys. It is fun to be back with family and friends.
    “It is good to be back in Saskatchewan.”
    With his return to Regina, Ryan’s football days have pretty much come full circle. He played high school football with Regina’s Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in 1999 after stepping away from being a hockey goalie on a full-time basis.
    In 2000, he joined the University of Regina Rams in the U Sports ranks tabbed to be both a place kicker and a punter. The Rams were in their second season at the Canadian university level after leaving the Canadian Junior Football League following the 1998 campaign.
Jon Ryan (#15) made lots of catches with the Rams from 2000 to 2003.
    Ryan took over the Rams place kicking and punting duties on a full-time basis as a rookie. He was responsible for scoring the winning point in the Rams first ever U Sports playoff victory on Nov. 3, 2000.
    In the last play of a Canada West Conference semifinal playoff game against the U of Calgary Dinos in Calgary, Alta., Ryan booted a 36-yard punt single to lift the Rams to a 33-32 victory.
    The Rams won two more playoff games to earn a berth in the Vanier Cup, which is the U Sports championship game. They fell 42-39 to the U of Ottawa Gee-Gees in the 2000 Vanier Cup.
    Ryan’s versatility began to take further form during that first campaign with the Rams. As that season went on, he began taking more reps at practices and games at wide receiver.
    Ryan made his most memorable offensive play as a sophomore in 2001 in a regular season game at Griffiths Stadium against the host U of Saskatchewan Huskies. After a goal-line stand, the Rams were at their own one yard line.
Jon Ryan launches a punt for the Rams in 2000.
    The Huskies came with a blitz, and Rams quarterback Marc Anderson threw a deep sideline streak pattern to Ryan. Ryan out jumped a defender for the ball, came down with it and raced down the sideline for a 109-yard touchdown reception.
    The Rams fell 34-28, but Ryan’s catch was something that would never be forgotten.
    In his final season with the Rams in 2003, Ryan was named the all-star punter in the Canada West Conference and a first team U Sports all-Canadian all-star averaging 45.9 yards per boot on 67 attempts. He also had 27 catches in eight regular season games to lead the team with 501 receiving yards, while scoring four touchdowns on receptions.
    Due to the fact many of his former Rams teammates work in Regina, Ryan has been doing some catching up on that front.
    “It has been great,” said Ryan. “I’ve talked to a lot of them.
Jon Ryan kicks a field goal for the Rams in 2003.
    “Maybe, we will have a little almost 20-year reunion from the Vanier Cup days.”
    Ryan has enjoyed catching up with his large, extended family as well. Having played 12 straight seasons in the NFL with the last 10 of those campaigns coming in Seattle, Ryan’s visits fell off in frequency.
    When he wasn’t an NFL roster after parting way with the Seahawks, Ryan lived in Los Angeles, Calif., with his wife and famous comedian Sarah Colonna.
    On June 5, Ryan received an honourary doctor of laws degree along with his mother, Barb, from the University of Regina. Ryan’s father, Bob, passed away on Dec. 1, 2006 due to cancer.
    “I was living in Seattle and now I live off-season in L.A.,” said Ryan, who is serving a one-year contract with the Roughriders. “I see them (his family) once or twice a year.
    “When you have 12 nieces and nephews, a lot changes in a year when I don’t get to see them. Now, I’ll be able to see them on a regular basis. I’ll be able to see my mom and my brother and my sisters.
Jon Ryan jogs out for starting intros in 2003.
    “My nieces and nephews, I will be able to watch all their sporting events and all the things that they do. It is going to be pretty special, and it already has been.”
    On the field, Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said Ryan hasn’t shown signs of losing any of his power.
    “I knew he was pretty good,” said Dickenson. “He has actually gotten better.
    “He was a little rusty the first few days. He has a big leg there is no doubt.”
    Suiting up as the hometown product for the Roughriders, Ryan is inevitably watched more than a number of his teammates.
    He has dealt with that before in the NFL.
    During his time with the Seahawks, Ryan was one of the team’s most popular players, and he was a team captain over his final four seasons with the club.
    Ryan holds the Seahawks team records for most career punts (770), most career yards (34,480) and highest career average for yards per punt (44.8).
    He is comfortable with being in the spotlight.
    “You feel like a little bit you live in a fishbowl sometimes,” said Ryan, who helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl XLVIII following the 2013 regular season. “That is kind of how it was in the NFL too.
Jon Ryan (#9) and Jorgen Hus chat at Roughriders camp.
    “No matter what position you are, you are always kind of being watched whether it be on the field or off the field. I feel that is the same here. It is one of those things I kind of thrive off of.
    “I like it, and I’m used to it.”

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Saturday, 13 July 2019

Can the regular person identify with today’s elite athlete?

Most regular people can’t comprehend the work Tyler Chow (#5) put in.
    Can the regular person identify with today’s elite athlete?
    That is a question I have been struggling with for the past two years, especially looking at the sports scene in Canada. I don’t think the regular person realizes how hard today’s athlete has to work at their craft to be good at the elite levels of sport, unless the regular person worked in elite athletes in recent time in some capacity.
    I feel like there is a perception out there that lives of elite level athletes are like what had been before the late 1990s when year round training came into vogue.
    Before the late 1990s came around, there was a period of a good 80 to 90 years where the commonly viewed approach to elite athletics was the same.
    You basically showed up at training camp to get into shape and take part in practices and games. When you were not participating in a practice or a game, you likely weren’t doing something specific to your sport.
    You were doing normal real life things like tending to family matters, participating in social activities or even working a regular job in the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours.
    Actually, the elite athlete in the old days was viewed as a regular person who happened to be good at sports.
Most regular persons wouldn’t understand Libby Epoch’s joy for basketball.
    When the off-season came around, the time you spent on your sport likely got spent lying on a beach, golfing or partying. Often when one sports season ended, you might even follow another sport pursuit.
    For example, if you played hockey in the winter you might play baseball in the summer.
    If you worked out or lifted weights during a season, you likely got teased by your teammates.
    In the late 60s and early 70s, it was common for players in a sport like in professional tackle football to sit back, drink a coffee or smoke a cigarette at halftime.
    If you are an elite athlete in the current day in Canada, your sport is your full-time job, and it seems like you are doing something sports specific year round.
    There are very few athletes that participate in two sports at an elite level like Saskatoon’s Kaitlin Jockims, who is gifted in both hockey and basketball.
    The off-season conditioning programs of the current day are far more advanced and evolved than those offered in the early 1990s. If you visit a training facility like Ignite Athletics in Saskatoon, you will end up getting an education in core conditioning and be surprised how much goes into getting physically prepared for sport at the elite level.
    Most regular persons have never stepped into a facility like Ignite Athletics and would be shocked at what all happens there under the guidance of the facility’s outstanding staff.
Kaitlin Jockims is the rare star in two sports at the elite level.
    When the sports season begins right from training camp, elite athletes will also be immersed in classroom video sessions in their sport.
    In hockey, you are already starting to execute the systems a team wants to use during the regular season and playoffs. When the regular season starts, you hit the ice going at full pace.
    Regular persons would be shocked at how much time goes into video preparation.
    Even eating is different. Elite athletes are very aware about eating healthy. Even if they are out at a social function where alcohol is present, elite athletes will be aware about even having one alcoholic drink and might not even have an alcoholic drink at all.
    In athletics at the university level and even in major junior hockey just 10 years ago, athletes often looked forward to the Saturday game, because afterwards you were usually allowed to go out and party on a non-curfew night.
    That was usually time elite athletes in those sports were able to let loose and have fun, because in university you didn’t play a game again until the upcoming Friday.
Jaime Bourbonnais - a highly talented athlete who works hard.
    In major junior hockey, you usually went out and socialized on the Saturday if you next game wasn’t until Wednesday.
    Now, university athletes and major junior hockey players are worried about rest and recovery after the Saturday game even if a long break follows. In those situations, you often find players holding a protein shake and finishing off a cool down after visiting family.
    If teams go out on average twice every four months on a social outing these days, that is a lot.
    Even in curling which has always been viewed as the most social of sports, the athletes in that sport are now perfectly conditioned. The elite curlers aren’t stopping at the curling club lounge to have an alcoholic drink after their games, which was commonplace in the past.
    Most regular persons wouldn’t image putting all of that attention in to be able to do a sport. Also with the way the world has changed, most regular persons in Canada are often focused on the hustle and bustle of their own lives trying to get by.
    The goal is often to go on a vacation to a tropical spot like Hawaii. In most cases, the regular person worries about themselves and finds anything outside of their worlds as being irrelevant.
    Most of today’s elite athletes put full-time job efforts into their sport for very little financial reward.
Rylan Kleiter excels at football and curling.
    The number of athletes that reaches the level to make millions at the professional level is a very small fraction of the elite athletes who have tried to get to that spot.
    For most regular persons, it is all about the financial reward. They are better off financially working a full-time job than most elite athletes and will view those elite athletes as being stupid.
    The regular person can’t see positive traits elite athletes establish in pursuing their sport. Some of those traits and skills are better social skills, strong work ethic, teamwork and leadership skills.
    Due to the fact today’s elite athletes focus on their sports more than ever before, they don’t interact as much with persons in the regular work world. As a result, regular persons have no emotional investment in elite athletes.
    So yes, I believe there is a disconnection between regular persons and elite athletes in Canada in today’s world.
    The regular person just can’t get why elite athletes do what they do.

Dach watch intensifies for Blades fans

Kirby Dach has signed with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
    The watch by Saskatoon Blades fans to see if star centre Kirby Dach will return to the team next season got a surge in intensity.
    On Monday, the 18-year-old product of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., signed a three year NHL entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks selected Dach in the first round and third overall in the NHL Entry Draft held in June.
    Due to Dach’s early draft selection and now that he has a signed NHL contract, the odds have increased that he could play in the NHL next season.
    As Dach hasn’t entered his overage season of junior eligibility, the Blackhawks have to return him to the major junior ranks if they don’t elect to have him play in the NHL.
    Last season, Dach, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds, appeared in 62 regular season games with the Blades last season posting 25 goals, 48 assists and a plus-15 rating in the plus-minus department.
    He helped the Blades finish fourth overall in the WHL’s regular season standings at 45-15-8 and advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Blades fell in six games in the second round to the eventual WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders.
    If Dach makes the NHL this season, most would be happy for his success. The Blades would take that development as a good thing and move on as best they can.

“Texan Sniper” takes his talents to Switzerland

Max Gerlach is going to be sniping in pros in Switzerland.
    Sharpshooting right-winger Max Gerlach is on his way to Switzerland.
    On Wednesday, the former Saskatoon Blades standout, who is nicknamed the “Texan Sniper,” signed a one-year contract with HC Ambri-Piotta in Quinto, Switzerland. He will be loaned to the HCB Ticino Rockets in Biasca, Switzerland.
    Last season, Gerlach played out his overage major junior campaign with the Blades appearing in all of the team’s 68 regular season games posting 42 goals, 32 assists and a plus-seven rating in the plus-minus department.
    He played four seasons in the WHL split between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Blades recording 141 goals and 110 assists in 278 career regular season games.
    The product of Flower Mound, Texas, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 165 pounds, was a fan favourite in both of his WHL stops.

Nickolet departs Blades for NHL’s Hurricanes

    No matter Cody Nickolet will no longer be a fixture around Saskatoon Blades games.
    On Thursday, Nickolet joined the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes as an amateur scout. Last season, Nickolet was the Blades director of analytics for the WHL and one of their scouts in Saskatchewan.
    He first joined the Blades way back in 2011-12 as the team’s communications manager. Nickolet was on the Blades scouting staff for the past four seasons.
    His time with the Blades was broken up being a prospect analyst for one season with the NHL’s Florida Panthers.
    It will be a change for SaskTel Centre building staff and team supporters to no longer see Nickolet around the rink on a regular basis. He got along well with everyone, and you can bet those that know him are happy to see this opportunity come his way.

Raiders’ Leason signs NHL deal with Capitals

Brett Leason has signed with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.
    Prince Albert Raiders star right-winger Brett Leason further cemented his path to the professional game.
    On Thursday, Leason signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals selected Leason in the second round and 56th overall in the NHL Entry Draft held this past June.
    Last season, Leason, who stand 6-foot-4 and weighs 210 pounds, had a breakout year with the Raiders posting 36 goals, 53 assists and a plus-55 rating in the plus-minus department in 55 regular season games.
    He helped the Raiders finish first overall in the WHL regular season with a 54-10-2-2 record and win their second WHL title and appear in the Memorial Cup tournament. In the WHL playoffs, Leason posted 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points and a plus-six rating in 22 games.
    The Calgary, Alta., product also earned a spot on Canada’s team at the last world junior tournament played in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.
    Leason is eligible to return to the Raiders for an overage campaign, but he will likely play somewhere in the Capitals system next season.

Raiders’ Protas also signs with Capitals

Aliaksei Protas, left, has signed with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.
    Prince Albert Raiders import left-winger Aliaksei Protas professional hockey path has moved more towards the capital city of the United States.
    On Wednesday, Protas, who is from Vitebsk, Belarus, signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals selected Protas in the third round in and 91st overall in the NHL Entry Draft that was held this past June.
    Protas, who is 18-years-old, signed a day before his linemate in right-winger Brett Leason inked a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Capitals.
    Protas, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 205 pounds, was a WHL rookie in the 2018-19 campaign, and he steadily improved posting 11 goals, 29 assists and a plus-24 rating in 61 regular season games. He had a head turning WHL playoffs posting 12 goals, 10 assists and a plus-12 rating in 23 games helping the Raiders win a league title.
    Protas will likely rejoin the Raiders next season for a sophomore campaign unless he makes the Capitals NHL team.

Football Canada Cup Hail Mary something to see

    If a television-type broadcast camera had been present, the Football Canada Cup would have had a highlight that could have potentially on viral across North America.
    This year’s Football Canada Cup is going on right now in Kingston, Ont., the first of two semifinal games held on Wednesday provided a crazy highlight.
    In the first semifinal, Team Quebec led Team Alberta 23-16 with one snap to go in the fourth quarter and Alberta had the ball around midfield. Alberta quarterback Eli Hetlinger fired a Hail Mary pass down the right sideline that deflected off the hands of two Quebec defensive backs to Alberta receiver Dawson Gladue.
    Gladue secured the catch at the Quebec 16 yard-line and raced the rest of the way for a touchdown that forced a 23-23 tie score and overtime.
    Quebec prevailed 29-27 after a fourth set of overtime possessions.
    Gladue’s touchdown catch was shown on TSN, but the cameras used for the Internet telecast of the game weren’t the best quality. The score still looked good on the overhead shot, but it could have been better.
    Had there been a television broadcast quality camera present, you would have had a crazy highlight that could have been shown anywhere.
    There are NCAA athletic programs in the United States that have Internet broadcast quality cameras that are almost as good as television broadcast cameras.
    Unfortunately, sports bodies in Canada don’t have that type of money to purchase technology that is used by the top end NCAA athletic programs.
    Gladue will always have that lasting memory of his catch. Still, it could have been bigger moment for amateur sports in Canada.

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