Saturday, 27 June 2020

Contacts’ Korchinski making waves in hockey

Kevin Korchinski in action for the Contacts last season.
    You can add Hockey Canada prospect to the list of accomplishments of young Saskatoon product Kevin Korchinski.
    The 16-year-old from the Saskatoon Contacts under-18 hockey team has come up thought the game as an offensive-defenceman. As a result of having the skill set to play that role, Korchinski will be a sought after addition at the highest levels of hockey.
    After collecting 10 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular season games with the Saskatoon Generals under-15 club in the 2018-19 campaign, Korchinski found a WHL home being selected by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round and 10th overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
    He proceeded to play his 15-year-old season with the Contacts as a rookie in Saskatchewan’s under-18 AAA hockey league. Korchinski posted seven goals and 19 assists for 26 points in 41 regular season games.
    He helped the Contacts finish third overall in the Saskatchewan under-18 AAA league with a 30-12-2 record. The Contacts swept the Prince Albert Mintos in a best-of-five league quarter-final series 3-0.
    Saskatoon proceeded to be swept by the Moose Jaw Warriors 3-0 in a best-of-five league semifinal series. The rest of the under-18 AAA playoffs were cancelled nationally on March 13 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
    Korchinski appeared in one WHL regular season game with the Thunderbirds in Seattle on Nov. 16, 2019. 
Kevin Korchinski put up 26 points with the Contacts last season.
    He posted a minus-two rating in the plus-minus department as the Thunderbirds downed the Portland Winterhawks 5-4 after a tiebreaking shootout.
    On Wednesday, Korchinski, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 154 pounds, found out he was one of 113 players named to Hockey Canada’s virtual under-17 development camp, which runs July 19-25.
    The players who are selected for this camp are on Hockey Canada’s radar to be placed on one of the three teams the sport body sends to World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. At the moment, the upcoming World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is slated for Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 for Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., depending how the world situation unfolds related to COVID-19.
    While Korchinski won’t get to compete in a live camp, the fact he picked up this camp selection is a result of all the hard work he has put in through this point in his career. He has gotten to this point with little fanfare outside of folks in personnel departments from WHL teams.
    With all that noted, Korchinski has the making to be one of those players you hear about in the game for some time to come.
    Overall, Korchinski was one of six Saskatchewan product invited to Hockey Canada’s virtual under-17 camp. Weyburn product Dylan Ernst, who is a Warriors under-18 goalie, will also take part in that virtual event.
Kevin Korchinski will participate in a virtual Hockey Canada camp.
    Defencemen Hunter Mayo and Kalem Parker, who both played for the Saskatoon Blazers under-18 AAA team, are both tabbed for the virtual camp. Mayo is from Martensville, and Parker is from Clavet.
    Parker’s older sister, Mackenna, was a former member of Canada’s under-18 women’s national team.
    Regina product Kyren Gronick, who played for his hometown Pat Canadians under-18 AAA team, and Delisle product Jhett Larson, who played for the Notre Dame Hounds under-18 AAA team, cracked the virtual camp invite list at forward.
    Niall Crocker, who is prospect forward for the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, and Brandon Lisowsky, who is a prospect forward for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, earned virtual camp invites too.
    For Korchinski and the rest of those young players, the under-17 virtual camp invite by Hockey Canada is likely just the next step towards making their biggest strides in the game.

Meaningful games mark real return for a sport, other notes

Who knows when Cody Fajardo (#7) and the Roughriders will play again.
    When sport jumps into action for real, its return should considered real at that point in time.
    That means the sport has to be engaged in regular season or post-season action, where a championship is on the line.
    At the moment in North America, that would mean the NASCAR Cup Series, UFC and PGA can be officially returned to action during these COVID-19 pandemic times.
    The COVID-19 pandemic created massive shutdowns in the sports world in North America starting on March 11, when the NBA paused its season.
    Besides the NASCAR Cup Series, UFC and PGA actually getting into action, there have been a lot planning for other circuits to get back into action. The NHL, NBA and MLB have cemented return to play plans that are slated to be executed in late July or early August.
    Until any of these leagues actually have teams participate in a meaningful game, you can’t say those circuits are officially back in action.
    The same goes for any sports league in Canada. That goes for the CFL, CHL, U Sports, CJFL or any minor sports.
    As far as the CFL is concerned, you wonder if it will return. On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are the flagship franchise of the circuit, announced they have $7.6-million in reserves and a stabilization fund, but all of that money is projected to be depleted by late fall.
    The Roughriders are projecting a loss of $10-million for 2020-21 fiscal year if the 2020 CFL regular season and playoffs for that year are indeed wiped out. The club posted a loss of $210,064 for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which included the club contributing just over $670,000 to the CFL for the management of the Montreal Alouettes.
    In Saskatchewan, minor baseball and softball games are planned for July. Until they play meaningful regular season games, those sports can’t be considered returned.
The return of Nolan Maier and the Saskatoon Blades is uncertain.
    Golf in Saskatchewan could be declared as returned as a Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour event was held Friday and Saturday at the Elmwood Golf Club in Swift Current.
    Still, there are no certainties on how sports will progress in Canada and North America. Over the past two weeks, it seems there have been a constant barraged of reports coming out of the United States of athletes testing positive for COVID-19.
    On Friday, the United States confirmed a record daily high for new COVID-19 cases at about 45,300. On Saturday, the state of Florida recorded a record of 9,585 new COVID-19 cases, which is a record for the state in a 24-hour period.
    Florida’s old record of 8,942 new COVID-19 cases was actually set one day earlier on Friday.
    Even the most powerful professional league in North America in the NFL showed cracks in its defiance of COVID-19 this week. NFL officials had given the impression the circuit would play a regular season that is close to normal.
    On Thursday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame cancelled the Hall of Fame Game set for Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio, that was to feature the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony set for Aug. 8 has been postponed until August of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    That might foreshadow a sign of things to come for the NFL.
    The COVID-19 case spikes in the United States offers further confirmation how contagious the virus can be.
    In Canada where there has been a total of just over 103,000 COVID-19 cases so far this year, there seems to be a more general feeling that Canadian government and medical health officials are doing a better job of handling the pandemic than officials in the United States are.
    In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe and Dr. Saqib Shahab, who is Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, should be praised for their work. As of Saturday, there were just 103 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
Will Rylan Kleiter, left, and the Saskatoon Hilltops play in 2020?
    While some have worried Saskatchewan’s re-opening plan hasn’t gone fast enough, Saskatchewan was the first province to come out with a plan, and those in charge have stuck to their plan in following through on it.
    In comparison to the United States, Saskatchewan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been at an all-star level as events have unfolded. If there were doubts about this in early June, they have likely been erased now.
    Still looking at what is happening in the United States, you can expect that will cause more caution to be used regarding when various sports teams, leagues and minor sports bodies will return to play in Canada.
    At the moment, it appears caution is definitely the best course of action.
  • On Tuesday, the Government of Saskatchewan announced contact sports were allowed in the province and spectators are allowed at sports games as long as they following physical distancing measures. Only outdoor sports facilities are permitted to be in action at the current time.
  • On Wednesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class of inductees. They include players Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre and Doug Wilson. Ken Holland, who is a long time NHL executive and current Edmonton Oilers general manager, is going in as a builder.
  • Theoren Fleury wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Here is hoping the retired star right-winger from the NHL’s Calgary Flames will crack into the Hall, because he has a lengthy list of accomplishments in the game and his journey of perseverance on the mental health front has been incredible.
  • Gregg Drinnan has been tracking the fallout from the lawsuit filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor against the CHL alleging various forms of abuse during their major junior careers. They are hoping to have the lawsuit certified as class-action. Drinnan rounded up various developments on that front in his Taking Note blog that can be found right here.
  • The 2020 Canadian Final Rodeo slated for Nov. 3 to 8 in Red Deer, Alta., has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On Friday, the Medicine Hat Cubs junior B hockey team announced it will not play in the 2020-21 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic and diminishing sponsorship revenues. The Cubs play out of the Heritage Junior Hockey League in Alberta.
  • On Friday, the Saskatoon Blades hired Jeff Harvey as their new goaltending coach. The 37-year-old played goal in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice, Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips from 2000 to 2004. Harvey suited up for five seasons in the U Sports ranks with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team from 2005 to 2010. Harvey replaces retired NHL goalie in 52-year-old Tim Cheveldae as the Blades goaltending coach.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Sask. products stay on radar for Hockey Canada female teams

Willow Slobodzian takes part in a skating session in July of 2019.
    Being a virtual invite to a summer camp for one of Hockey Canada’s women’s teams is a huge thing in these coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic times.
    On Monday, Hockey Canada announced seven Saskatchewan products were among 109 players to earn invites to a pair of virtual camps with Canada’s National Women’s Program.
    Forwards Sophie Shirley and Grace Shirley along with defenders Brooke Hobson, Ashley Messier and Willow Slobodzian are among 50 players who will meet weekly on a virtual basis as part of Canada’s national women’s development team summer camp. These meeting will continue until these athletes return to university in the fall.
    Forwards Neena Brick and Baylee Kirwan are among the 59 players who will meet weekly on a virtual basis as part of Canada’s national women’s under-18 summer camp. These sessions will run until the 2021 under-18 women’s worlds.
    The upcoming under-18 women’s worlds are slated to run Jan. 5 to 12, 2021 in Linkoping and Mjolby, Sweden.
    Normally, these players would physically get to skate in a camp that is usually held in August in Calgary.
    This year, these players wouldn’t have the chance to impress Hockey Canada brass with an in-person performance. Due to the shutdowns that occurred in North American due to the COVID-19 pandemic starting in earnest on March 11 and 12, most of these players missed playing time in the post-season resulting in another lost chance to turn heads of Hockey Canada decision makers.
Grace Shirley in action for the Stars in the 2018-19 campaign.
    No national championships were won in NCAA women’s hockey, U Sports women’s hockey and in Canada’s female under-18 AAA ranks, because they were all cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    If you are a player who is taking part in these virtual female camps run by Hockey Canada, you have accomplished a big thing. You have done enough to remain on Hockey Canada’s radar despite some lost opportunities to turn heads.
    Sophie Shirley, who has been in Hockey Canada’s female national team system since 2015, had an impressive sophomore season with the defending NCAA champion University of Wisconsin Badgers.
    In 36 overall games, the star forward and Saskatoon product piled up 29 goals, 32 assists and a plus-36 rating in the plus-minus department.
    Sophie was named a second team Western Collegiate Hockey Association all-star and was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the NCAA’s top female collegiate hockey player.
    Grace Shirley, who is Sophie’s younger sister, finished up her rookie campaign with the Badgers. With the Badgers, dynamic forward went through a learning year netting one goal and four assists in 36 overall games.
    Grace helped Canada win gold at the under-18 women’s worlds in 2019.
Brooke Hobson in action for the Bears in April of 2017.
    Prince Albert product Brooke Hobson had a solid junior season controlling the blue-line for the NCAA’s Northeastern University Huskies. Hobson posted six goals, nine assists and a plus-22 rating in 30 overall games, and she has been named the Huskies captain for her upcoming senior season.
    Messier, who is Wilcox, played for the Selects Hockey Academy in Rochester, New York, for her Grade 12 year. In November of 2019, Messier helped Team Saskatchewan win silver at the National Women’s under-18 Championship, which features provincial all-star teams.
    This past January, the slick offensive-defender helped Canada take home silver at the under-18 women’s worlds.
    Slobodzian, who is from Clavet, finished her junior season with the NCAA’s Cornell University Big Red. She appeared in 31 overall games posting two goals, 15 assists and a plus-28 rating.
Slobodzian’s 15 assists, 17 points and plus-28 rating were career highs.
    The Shirley sisters, Messier and Slobodzian are alums of the Saskatoon Stars female under-18 team. Hobson is an alumna of her hometown Prince Albert Northern Bears female under-18 team.
    As for the under-18 camp invites, Brick had an impressive 16-year-old campaign helping her hometown Regina Rebels finish first in the Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League with a 27-2-1 record. She was the SFU18AAAHL’s top scorer piling up 30 goals and 28 assists for 58 points.
    Brick was named a first team SFU18AAAHL all-star and claimed the circuit’s Hayley Wickenheiser Most Valuable Player award and the Kelly Bechard Top Scorer award.
Neena Brick was the SFU18AAAHL’s most valuable player last season.
    Kirwan, who is a Gull Lake product, had a spectacular 16-year-old campaign helping the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats finish second in the SFU18AAAHL with a 22-7-1 record. She finished third in SFU18AAAHL scoring with 29 goals and 12 assists for 41 points.
    Kirwan was a second team SFU18AAAHL all-star and claimed the circuit’s Fiona Smith Most Sportsmanlike Player award.
    All seven of these players with Saskatchewan roots have already made waves in the game. They have the potential to be playing hockey at an elite level for a lengthy number of years to come.

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Monday, 22 June 2020

Thankful to get out and ride

Appreciating activities you can do in COVID-19 world is good

Biking is an activity that always helps me clear my mind.
    In a current world that seems to be going crazy, it is always a huge pump up to be able to get out and ride.
    At least for me, it is always good to get out and ride one of my mountain bikes. I appreciate I can still get out and do that in this world that is gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Actually, I think it is healthy for anyone to keep enjoying activities they might still be allowed to do during this time. You might find a new appreciation for doing some activities you like you never had before.
    Of course when the shutdowns first started in North America around the dates of March 11 and 12, it might have been harder to keep up with doing activities you like. As reopening plans have rolled out in various parts of North America since the start of May, it might become easier to engage in activities you like.
    For myself living in Saskatoon, I could have started biking right when the shutdowns happened. I should note that through most of March and April I found it too cold to get outside and do that.
I enjoy biking along the Meewasin Trail in Saskatoon.
    I held off until May. My first medium length ride in May likely felt that much better than normal due to all that has happened.
    I actually have three mountain bikes stored at my place. One I am trying to get rid of at some point in time.
    I have a blue 18-speed I bought at Canadian Tire for $108. I use that bike when I decide to go to a store or even to go to a work place.
    I will ride that bike in all sorts of adverse weather conditions. If that bike ever gets damaged or stolen, it is not a big deal to go out and spend another $108 for a similar bike from Canadian Tire.
    I actually had the seat and tires stolen off one of those $108 bikes, when it was locked up at a store once.
    The third mountain bike is the one I baby and try to ride it when conditions are good. It is by far my best mountain bike.
    It is actually an old one too.
    Believe it not, I won that one during my University of Regina days. Back in 1999, I accompanied the U of Regina Cougars women’s basketball team to the U Sports nationals, which were held in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Me with the bike I won in 1999 pictured at my Regina home in 2000.
    At halftime of the tournament’s championship game that saw the U of Alberta Pandas down the U of Victoria Vikes 54-46, I banked home a half-court shot to win the bike as part of the entertainment of the festivities at that point in time. I sunk a foul shot too for five dollars, but that shot seemed to be forgotten along with the fact I rimmed out a three-pointer for $10.
    I only hit a half-court shot twice in my life, and one of those came in a packed Lakehead University gym.
    A family of diehard Cougars fans brought the bike home for me to Regina.
    I have used that bike out at the lake country Waskesiu in Saskatchewan and Elkwater in Alberta. While I haven’t done any rides at those locations this year, I find the lake rides give me my greatest sense of calm usually because nature looks so serene.
    Biking in Saskatoon is enjoyable too. I seem to get glued to the Meewasin Trail that runs along both sides of the South Saskatchewan River.
It is always a treat to bike at Waskesiu.
    There are a tonne of paths I still haven’t got to. I find biking is one of those things that clears my mind.
    It is an aerobic activity I never have a problem getting into. I find it harder to go on a long run.
    With that said, I know lots of people who love to go on long runs. In Saskatoon, you can do that too, so if you love doing that, feel free to get out and do it.
    When July rolls around, it seems everything is set to allow baseball and softball to take place on a house league level and city league level. While it sounds like the rules might be modified for the current pandemic time, I would say get out and play those sports, if you enjoy them.
    About two months ago, the prospect of any type of outdoor ball appeared grim.
    You also don’t have to rediscover sporting pursuits. If you enjoy doing things like playing instruments like the guitar or piano, these pandemic times provide opportunity to rediscover those pursuits.
    If you have a talent for artistic drawing, feel free to rediscover that gift too.
    At the moment, you can go out and see family or close friends in Saskatchewan, so spend an evening or two doing just that.
    If you like to take off and go fishing, feel free to do that.
I like to bike wearing jerseys of some of my favourite teams.
    These pandemic days have provided the chance to re-engage and rediscover pursuits you may have put aside.
    When you take the time to take those pursuits up again, you might rediscover some forgotten joys.
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Sunday, 21 June 2020

Much respect to those in sports who keep marching on

Riley Pickett is training for a season in the fall of 2021.
    The elite athletes and those that make a living in sports have to be given tonnes of respect for marching on, while the COVID-19 pandemic keeps casting a shadow over the world.
    Even with the fact there is no certainty of when a next competition or a season will occur, there are a tonne of athletes still training all over the place trying to ensure they will be at their best when action resumes.
    Canadian Olympic level track athlete Sage Watson usually does most of her training in the United States and usually competes around the world in her specialty the 400-metre hurdles. Last year in Lima, Peru, she won gold in the women’s 400-metre hurdles at the Pan American Games.
    When the shutdowns started to occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11 and 12, she returned to her family ranch near Medicine Hat, Alta. Watson’s family has been in the ranching business for over 100 years in that area.
    Since arriving back home, she has continued to train on her own. She was set to represent Canada at the Summer Olympic Games that were originally slated for July 24 to Aug. 9 in Toyko, Japan.
    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those games have been postponed to run from July 23, 2021 to Aug. 8, 2021.
    At this point, Watson doesn’t know when her next competition will be. Still, she can be found training on her ranch or at the Rotary Track in the Crescent Heights neighbourhood of Medicine Hat striving on her own to be the best she can be.

    Watson turned 26-years-old on Saturday and has enjoyed reconnecting with her family in a way she hasn’t been able to since she moved away from home at age 18 to compete in the NCAA track and field ranks.
    If you are fortunate enough to get to know Watson’s family for even a short time, you know she will always make her father, Wade, and mother, Jolene proud. They are likely feeling blessed that their prodigal daughter has been home for an extended stay.
Brant Morrow is training hard for a season that is uncertain.
    You can bet Sage has enjoyed bonding with her younger brother, Waylon. Waylon, who turned 15-years old in April, was a member of the Medicine Hat AAA All-Stars baseball team that won the Canadian Junior Little League Championship last year.
    Since arriving back home, Sage has shared a number of posts hanging out with Waylon on her Instagram account.
    In all parts of her life, Sage Watson keeps writing an ultimate feel good story.
    Besides looking at Watson’s example, you can find lots of athletes that keep working at their craft. University of Saskatchewan Huskies defensive lineman Riley Pickett keeps training, even though he won’t see any regular season action until the fall of 2021.
    You can find Saskatoon Hilltops defensive back Brant Morrow going hard, and the six time defending CJFL champion Hilltops aren’t guaranteed of a campaign in 2020.
    Big respect goes out to Hilltops president Chris Hengen-Braun and the Hilltops team board and executives.
    They are spending tonnes of hours trying to make a 2020 season a reality.
    At the WHL level, the same goes for Saskatoon Blades general manager and president Colin Priestner and director of business operations Tyler Wawryk for the upcoming 2020-21 campaign.
Blades GM Colin Priestner and staff are working hard on a 2020-21 plan.
    If you travel from Saskatoon up Highway 11, you can find Prince Albert Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt and business manager Michael Scissons are doing their best to try and make a 2020-21 season a go.
    Numerous administrators for minor sports bodies are getting up every day putting in a solid effort trying make things happen.
    All these sports people are trying to do their flat out best, when the reality is a health or government official could easily strike down the most innovative idea to make action happen.
    Of course, the concern about returning to action is real, when you consider the constant stories coming out of the United States this past week about positive COVID-19 tests in the sports world. It has gotten to the point it is hard to keep up with the information on the positive tests.
    Late this past week, positive tests were confirmed in Major League Soccer, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
    The MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies shut down their facility in Clearwater, Florida, and the Toronto Blue Jays did the same in Dunedin, Florida, due to COVID-19 concerns. The Phillies had five players and three staff members test positive and one Blue Jays player showed symptoms.
Raiders GM Curtis Hunt and staff are working towards a 2020-21 plan.
    The San Francisco Giants closed their facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a visitor and one family member exhibited symptoms.
    A report surfaced on Friday from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun that Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews tested positive for COVID-19, and he is apparently self-isolating at his home in Arizona.
    On Saturday, media reports surfaced that at least 30 players from the defending NCAA football champion Louisiana State University Tigers have been quarantined due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
    With all that noted, you have to love how elite athletes continue to train and administrators and executives bring a top level effort on a daily basis, even if that work does not produce a result due to factors beyond anyone’s control.
    At the moment, it appears those in the sports world are going up against a stacked deck.

No COVID-19 vaccine thoughts fires up anxiety, other thoughts

Downtown Saskatoon was deserted early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, a couple of thoughts come up that fire up anxiety regarding the idea of a vaccine.
    One thought is what happens if a vaccine isn’t developed for COVID-19 or the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease?
    The other thought is what happens if it takes a long time to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 or the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease?
    I try not to think about those questions, but they do cross my mind from time to time.
    The COVID-19 pandemic is often compared to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was a deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus.
    The first licensed flu vaccine didn’t appear in North America until the 1940s. When the Spanish Flu pandemic hit in 1918, the frequency of cases about 15 months later dropped to negligible levels.
    In an apples to oranges comparison, medical science has developed light years from what the world knew in 1918. Back in 1918, people still died of all sorts of ailments, and it was still a frequent occurrence in North America to see babies pass away within the first three months of being born.
    You have to hope it doesn’t take over 20 years to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
    On the front of thinking about a vaccine not being developed, HIV/AIDS comes to mind.
    HIV/AIDS was first identified in the early 1980s. There still hasn’t been a vaccine developed for the HIV virus that causes AIDS or effective treatment for HIV/AIDS. It has been classified as a pandemic for decades.
    The HIV virus mutates quickly, which makes hard to develop a vaccine for it.
    In thinking about those two situations, one wonders if we are going to have to figure out a way to live with COVID-19 for the long stretch. Over the past week, there have been constant media reports that several states in the United States have seen a record number of cases in recent days.
    There has been a steady stream of positive COVID-19 tests from the sports world in the U.S., which gives further proof as to how easily this virus spreads.
    Looking at past historical examples, it is possible the COVID-19 pandemic could continue for some time without a vaccine. There are no clear paths on how to react, if that becomes the case.
    Thinking too much about all of that just does damage on the mental health front with regards to anxiety, so the best move is to try to stay focused on day to day tasks.

  • On Thursday, former NHL and CHL player Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor, who played in the WHL for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders from 2008 to 2010, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the CHL and its three member leagues in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto over hazing. The allegations haven’t been proven in court. Carcillo played in the OHL from 2002 to 2005 with the Sarnia Sting and the Mississauga IceDogs. This appears to have the potential to get extremely ugly and drag out for years before it is done. The allegations that have been made are extremely ugly. Rick Westhead of TSN did a story, and it can be found right here.
  • On Friday, the Government of Canada approved a cohort quarantine proposal by the NHL. The proposal makes players and staff exempt from the 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering Canada. Instead of quarantining individually, the cohort quarantine would keep NHL players and staffers separate from the general public. The move clears one hurdle towards making a Canadian city a hub city for NHL post-season play.
  • On Friday, the 17-member Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference cancelled all sports season play for the fall of 2020. For sports that are only conducted in the fall in golf, cross-country running and soccer, the ACAC is planning to run those sports in April of 2021.
  • On Friday, the Camrose, Alta., based University of Alberta-Augustana Campus Vikings, who play out of the ACAC, announced the program was withdrawing from men’s hockey, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball from the 2020-21 campaign. Vikings Athletics cited economic and COVID-19 pandemic concerns for the decision along with aligning a plan of action with what the University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas programs have done at the U Sports level.
  • Over this past week, I thought social media was a little more kind than it was in the week previous. It seemed a little rough on Saturday. That was just from my subjective observation, but other might have not had the same experience.
  • I am fine with sports administrators and executives trying to find ways to make their sports work in these COVID-19 pandemic times. Besides trying to prevent falling off people’s radars, many sports teams and organizations in Canada are just trying to find ways to survive.
  • Starting about seven days ago, New Zealand began holding professional rugby games allowing full stadiums with no social distancing guidelines. One game at Eden Park in Auckland on June 13 drew around 43,000 spectators. The moves were done after New Zealand got down to zero active COVID-19 cases. It helps that New Zealand is an island nation with about 4.9-million people. As of the time this post went live, Worldometer, which accurately tracks various worldwide statistics, stated New Zealand has nine active COVID-19 cases. New Zealand observed strict lockdowns to originally get down to zero cases, so one has to wonder if those lockdowns will return. Still, it was cool to hear one country held large sporting events with no restrictions.
  • Just want to add a disclaimer that what I write or say about the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t matter in the big picture of things. I am not a government official or a health official that has power to make decisions on that front. In the big picture, what I say doesn’t really mean much on that front. I just try to navigate the waves on day by day basis the best I can, because I don’t have control over anything else.
  • I am pleased I wrote a review on Friday’s #CFLsim broadcast put together by The Rod Pedersen Show. It appears the simulation game broadcast and my review gave people some much needed fun and helped provide some relief from the difficult times the world is experiencing. I think the public at least in Saskatchewan misses seeing comments like the one below from Fake Gainer.

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Saturday, 20 June 2020

The Rod Pedersen Show has hit with #CFLsim

Virtual Cameron Judge does a sack dance on a big TV screen.
    The crew with The Rod Pedersen Show appears to have hammered a home run with a CFL simulation broadcast.
    On Friday night, The Rod Pedersen Show ran a Facebook Live broadcast of a virtual clash between the host Saskatchewan Roughriders and the visiting Montreal Alouettes. The virtual showdown played out on a Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football video game, and it occurred when the regularly schedule regular season game was supposed to happen between both sides.
    At the moment, real life CFL action has been sidelined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic has no bearing on simulation games.
    Actually, #CFLsim games have been shown for a least a couple of weeks now on
    The Rod Pedersen Show elected to broadcast Friday’s game featuring the virtual Roughriders and reported picking up over 9,000 views are Facebook Live.
    Rod Pedersen provided the play-by-play of the broadcast, and Darren Dupont took on colour commentator duties.
    The action was swift and very enjoyable thanks to the outstanding efforts by Pedersen and Dupont. 
Virtual Nick Marshall makes an interception on my TV screen.
    Their commentary kept you glued to the broadcast that ran about 94 minutes in length.
    Pedersen was the Roughriders play-by-play voice for 20 years before Derek Taylor took on that role before the start of last season.
    With all due respect to Taylor who is a good and talented guy, it was refreshing to hear Pedersen doing a call of a Roughriders game, even a virtual one. For people in Saskatchewan, Pedersen’s call provided a feeling of normalcy.
    Dupont was ace on colour thanks to his knowledge of Canadian players, who played at the U Sports level.
    The broadcast began with the real Teagan Littlechief singing the Canadian national anthem. Littlechief is a regular anthem singer for real Roughriders games along with a number of other teams in Saskatchewan.
    She has developed a healthy fan following due to her spectacular rendition of O Canada.
    The virtual Roughriders came away with an 8-3 victory.
    The fans a virtual Mosaic Stadium cranked up the noise, when the Alouettes had the ball.
    After watching the game, one had to wonder if Roughriders receiver Mitchell Picton is the toughest player in the virtual CFL.
Friday’s #CFLsim game brought fun to this big TV screen.
    He handled most of the Roughriders punt return duties on Friday and was viciously erased on every return.
    Every time he touched the ball, Picton took the equivalent of a Ray Lewis hit or worse. Picton, who is an alumnus of the University of Regina Rams, got up each time and kept playing hard.
    Honestly, half the shots Picton absorbed on Friday would have eliminated fellow Rams alum in the ultra-tough Jason Clermont from the contest.
    Virtual defensive back Nick Marshall was a stud for the Roughriders and made as many big plays as the real life Marshall does.
    Viewers also learned virtual Roughriders linebacker Cameron Judge has an interesting sack celebration.
    The Rod Pedersen Show also showed comments from viewers who would make criticisms that are as colourful that occur during real life Roughriders post-game phone in shows.
    During the shutdowns that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual simulations of sporting events have proved to be popular.
    The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League developed a healthy following showing its junior A league playoffs via a virtual format. It is also a great way for these leagues to keep themselves on the forefront of people’s minds.
Darren Dupont, left, and Rod Pedersen commentate on a big TV screen.
    There have been virtual showings of NASCAR races from various NASCAR circuits too during the pandemic.
    For those that turned into Friday’s #CFLsim broadcast from The Rod Pedersen Show, they would have been very entertained. Checking out future broadcasts is a definite recommendation.
    During a time when it seems like there is so much bad in the world, The Rod Pedersen show gets huge kudos for Friday night’s fun viewing.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Didn’t realize significance of last U Sports, WHL moments

The Huskies celebrate winning the Canada West title on Feb. 29.
    Have I seen my last U Sports and WHL games for an undetermined lengthy stretch?
    That question has passed through my mind the last four days or so. With the world in the grip of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it has crossed my mind it could be some time before I see action in either circuit.
    When they resume, life might take me to a point, where I won’t have involvement in either circuit. It is possible life could take me out of the city of Saskatoon.
    Actually, I try not to think about what the mid to long term future might look like, because I find I engage in mental gymnastics that eats up time and raises the anxiety.
    With that said, it seems pretty obvious the sports scene in Canada will look a lot different and potentially unrecognizable when the pandemic ends. If the shutdowns and restrictions in North American last to next year and even just two years, you can already see a number of teams, leagues and minor sports organizations fold.
Levi Cable scored twice for the Huskies in their Canada West title clincher.
    Add in all the businesses that are struggling and closing, it is hard to conceive there would be enough government money to hand out to keep everything afloat. All of these entities would be healthy, if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic which can cripple daily revenue streams by 50 to 90 per cent.
    While the province of Saskatchewan is undergoing phases of a reopening plan, I had an eerie feeling all is still not well, when I stopped at an intersection between the Saskatoon Inn and Heritage Inn on Saturday.
    At each hotel, I saw just two cars in the parking lot. This has gone on for three months. I know that is not a good sign.
    Usually, those hotels are starting to rock with the wedding season in summer.
Even with the shutdowns and restrictions that have been in place since the middle of March, there has already been unprecedented damage done to the economy, and things won’t be what they were for a very long time.
    Unfortunately, the only options to navigate the pandemic are all bad and difficult.
    There is a great and legitimate fear about how contagious and how fast COVID-19 can spread.
    One of the most recent reminders came Monday when reports surfaced a number of members from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texas tested positive for COVID-19 including Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Carson Stadnyk scored in the Canada West title clincher.
    The government and medical health officials are trying to find the least crappy option through all this, but there isn’t a good option.
    Still, the mind drifts back to a naΓ―ve time that was not that long ago.
    Back on Feb. 29, I was at Merlis Belsher Place when it was still serving its original purpose of being a hockey rink as opposed to a COVID-19 field hospital in waiting.
    The University of Saskatchewan Huskies downed the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 3-1 in Game 2 of the Canada West Championship series in men’s hockey before a record crowd of 2,667 spectators. The Huskies swept the best-of-three series 2-0 to capture the title.
    Levi Cable scored twice for the Huskies, and Carson Stadnyk had a single in the win. Netminder Taran Kozun, who would be named the U Sports player of the year and goaltender of the year in March, made 17 saves to earn the win in goal.
    The crowd at Merlis might have been the loudest it had ever been for a Huskies game in the new facility. The Huskies moved to Merlis before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
    No one at the Huskies Canada West title winning game envisioned U Sports coming to a halt. There will be no national championships in fall or no to possibly limited action in three conferences.
    If hockey gets off the ground, it won’t be until January of 2021, and the Huskies men’s and women’s hockey teams will have to play in different digs.
A crowd of 2,667 saw the Huskies win the Canada West title at Merlis.
    If that Canada West title win was the last time I potentially work a Huskies game, at least the departure was a memorable one.
    In dealing with U Sports since moving to Saskatoon in the summer of 2014, I realize there is a political spectrum you have to accept and deal with on that circuit that wasn’t always fun and did in some years make me not want to hang around on that sports body.
    I found I had a good natural chemistry dealing with the Huskies football team the past two seasons and the Huskies men’s hockey team this past season that brought the fun back.
    I know my February playoff rivalry pieces regarding the Huskies women’s hockey team and the Thunderbirds women’s team weren’t the most popular things I typed out. After the Huskies women’s team was swept 2-0 falling twice in extra sessions, I know I wasn’t the most liked person with some in that camp.
    I have passed a couple of email messages with graduated captain Brooklyn Haubrich and graduated star defender Leah Bohlken since that time.
    With all that has happened in the world over the last three months, those rivalry pieces don’t even look like that big of a thing to me anymore.
Aliaksei Protas and the Raiders rolled to an 8-3 win on March 3.
    Overall, I regained my joy being on the U Sports circuit, and just when that happens, it stalls out because of factors beyond the circuit’s control.
    March 3 marked the last time I was in the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. The defending WHL champion Raiders hammered the visiting Calgary Hitmen 8-3 before 2,481 spectators.
    The Raiders sat first in the WHL’s East Division, and there was optimism in “Hockey Town North” about there being another long playoff run.
    I remember the post-game interview with Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid rolled really great that night. Prince Albert products and Huskies women’s hockey team members Morgan Willoughby and Jessica Vance were saluted before that contest during the ceremonial puck drop.
    No one envisioned the Raiders would only play three more games in the 2019-20 campaign before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season.
    March 6 marked the last time I worked a live WHL game as the Regina Pats faced the Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre. Just 29 seconds into overtime, left-winger Kyle Crnkovic scored off a backdoor setup from Tristen Robins to give the Blades a 2-1 victory before 4,478 spectators.
    That win officially locked up a WHL playoff berth for the Blades, and the mood was upbeat and vibrant on the Saskatoon side during post-game interviews. Little did anyone know, that would be the Blades final home game for the 2019-20 campaign.
Kyle Crnkovic celebrates his OT winner for the Blades on March 6.
    About eight days later, the Blades players were bound for their off-season homes as the shutdowns started to occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    During the Huskies Canada West title winning game, the last Raiders game I was at or that final Blades home game, it never occurred to me to soak in the night, because it was going to be awhile before these things happened again.
    Today, the WHL put out a release targeting Oct. 2 as a potential start date for the 2020-21 campaign with hopes each team will play a standard 68-game regular season. Due to the league’s 22 clubs playing in four provinces and two states in the United States, I realize there are a lot of hurdles to go before any meaningful hockey games are played on the circuit.
    For now, at least my final recollections of being at home games involving the Huskies men’s hockey team, the Raiders and the Blades were good ones. If that is the end of chapter for me, at least it went out on a high.

Money crunch hammers U of Alberta athletics, other notes

Trevor Cox and the Golden Bears won’t be on the ice in 2020-21.
    It was a move that will send shock waves through not just the scene in U Sports but Canada’s national sports scene as a whole.
    On Wednesday, the University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas athletics program announced it will not be participating in men’s and women’s hockey, volleyball and basketball in the upcoming 2020-21 U Sports season due to a lack of financing.
    The U of A athletics program is viewed as one of the greatest in all of U Sports. The Golden Bears and Pandas teams in men’s and women’s hockey, volleyball and basketball have combined to win a total of 43 U Sports national titles.
    Back on June 8, U Sports cancelled all of its fall national championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    On top of those announcements on June 8, the conferences of Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics announced all varsity sports will shut down for the remainder of 2020.
    Also on June 8, the Canada West Conference, which U of A plays out of, cancelled play in all team sports through to the end of 2020. Canada West will determine the fates of conference championships in men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross-country running and men’s and women’s swimming to be held in fall by July 15.
    Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball are targeted to start in early January of 2021. A decision on the fate of those sports will be made by Oct. 8.
Kirsten Chamberlin and the Pandas won't play in 2020-21.
    Due to a budget crunch, the U of A athletics program decided to pull the plug on those programs now.
    In a release, the Golden Bears and Pandas program cited cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the demand from the Government of Alberta that universities balance their budgets and reduce expenditures in year and the reduction to the University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee in causing a major shortfall.
    The University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee was completely waived for the spring and summer semesters.
    “This scenario has brought most of our diverse revenue streams to a complete halt, and the athletics budget is no longer able to support participation for the 2020/2021 season,” said U of A athletics director Ian Reade in a release. “While this is an extremely hard decision for us, it is in the best interest of the student-athletes that we make this decision now, so their future is somewhat more clear.”
    Reade said the U of A athletics department will remain committed to those student-athletes who have written commitments to receive Athletic Financial Assistance.
    At the moment, the Golden Bears and Pandas teams still plan to participate in tournament sports including wrestling, cross-country running, track and field, rugby sevens, curling and swimming at the Canada West Conference level.
    U of A is slated to host the U Sports nationals for men’s and women’s wrestling on Feb. 26-27, 2021.
    In an interview with The Gateway, which is the U of A student newspaper, Reade said the school’s athletic programs is budgeting for University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee will be reduced by 70 per cent for the fall term by the U of Alberta Students’ Union due to an expected reduction of access because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cole Sanford created lots of excitement for the Golden Bears.
    Reade told the student newspaper U of A athletics lost $1-million, when it couldn’t run its summer sports camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    He told The Gateway he expects an estimated $1.2-million loss in base funding for the U of A athletics program.
    Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it would have been hard to imagine the Golden Bears and Pandas sitting out a sports season.
    The Golden Bears have won the most titles in U Sports national titles in men’s hockey at 16 and the Pandas are the all-time leaders in most national championships in U Sports women’s hockey at eight.
    The Golden Bears men’s volleyball team has captured eight U Sports national titles, and the Pandas women’s volleyball team has won seven U Sports national championships.
    The Golden Bears men’s basketball team has earned three U Sports national titles, and the Pandas women’s basketball team has won one U Sports national crown.
    The Golden Bears and Pandas teams are so storied you would think their unofficial theme songs would be “The Best” by Tina Turner and “We are the Champions” by Queen.
    Their exploits alone should cause Edmonton to restore the “City of Champions” signs at all entrances to the Alberta capital.
    Overall, the Golden Bears and Pandas student-athletes have the right type of good confidence and swagger. Along with winning a lot, the Golden Bears and Pandas team member carry themselves well.
    They epitomize winning with class and losing with class.
Autumn MacDougall of the Pandas led Canada West in scoring last season.
    If the U of A teams aren’t able to go in 2020-21 due to financial reasons, one wonders how many other U Sports programs might decide to pack it in and not play during that campaign as well.
    Across Canada, a number of teams, leagues and minor sports organizations are having talks regarding decisions to play or not to play, and if those teams, leagues and minor sports organizations do play, those bodies have to figure out if they will be throwing good money after bad money.
    Despite all that gloom, the U of A athletics program is aiming to return to regular participation in U Sports in 2021-22.
    Reade and the U of A decision makers are doing their best to ensure the Golden Bears and Pandas teams will add to their epic exploits in the future after the 2020-21 campaign.

  • On Monday, Golf Canada cancelled all of its amateur competitions for the duration of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It previously announced the cancellation and postponement of a number of its junior and amateur competition scheduled through mid-June.
  • On Wednesday, Golf Saskatchewan announced it will go ahead with eight individual championships but will not host the Women’s Rosebowl or the Mixed Championship, which operate in shotgun start formats. The first event is the 102nd Saskatchewan Women’s Amateur Championship set for the Willows Golf and Country Club in Saskatoon from July 9 to 11. The dates for all the tournaments can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Sunday, the Assiniboia Southern Rebels junior B team announced they had requested and been approved of a one-year leave of absence from the Prairie Junior Hockey League. The Rebels cited uncertainty created due to the COVID-19 pandemic as reason for the move.
  • On Tuesday, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies announced their Dogs’ Breakfast fundraiser set for Sept. 3 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is an annual fundraiser for the Huskies football team. Those who bought a ticket can donate the purchase to the Huskies football team, defer the ticket to the 2021 Dogs’ Breakfast, receive a partial refund or a full refund. More info on how to deal with a Dogs’ Breakfast ticket can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Tuesday, Medicine Hat Tigers right-winger Lucas Svejkovsky was invited to the United States World Junior Summer Showcase slated for July 24 to Aug. 1 in Plymouth, Mich. In 52 regular season games split with the Vancouver Giants and Tigers last season, Svejkovsky, who will turn 19 in November, netted 18 goals, 20 assists and a plus-27 rating in the plus-minus category. The camp is used by the United States to evaluate players for the upcoming world juniors slated to start Dec. 26, 2020 and run to Jan. 5, 2021 in Edmonton and Red Deer. Svejkovsky came to the Tigers from the Giants last season via a trade.
  • On Tuesday, Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Kaiden Guhle was invited to be part of Hockey Canada’s virtual national junior team development camp, which runs July 27 to 31. Prince Albert product Braden Schneider, who plays defence with the Brandon Wheat Kings, will also take part in the virtual camp. The virtual camp also includes two Saskatoon products in Adam Beckman, who plays left wing with the Spokane Chiefs and Connor Zary, who plays centre for the Kamloops Blazers.
  • On Tuesday, Saskatoon Blades head coach Mitch Love was named an assistant coach for Canada world junior team for a second straight year. Love helped Canada win gold at last season’s tournament.
  • On Wednesday, the Saskatoon Blades released popular utility player Randen Schmidt, who is set to enter his overage season. Schmidt played three season for the Blades appearing in 129 regular season games collecting three goals, 17 assists and a plus-one rating.
  • Over recent weeks, I know there has been a call for police departments across North America to do better. I believe any local calls from Saskatoon to defund the Saskatoon Police Service are misguided. I do have family and friends who are members of the Saskatoon Police Service. If you ask members of the police service, they would agree more funds should go into social programs, because it would prevent the chances of those growing up in not the best social circumstances cycling into the justice system as an offender. Defunding the police right now would create a lot of problems. While you can always improve, all one needs to do is talk to retired Saskatoon Police Service sergeant Ernie Louttit about how much the Saskatoon police have improved from the 1980s until now. Also, the Saskatoon Police Service put out this music video back in September of 2018, which allows people in Saskatoon to say their police service is better than yours.

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Saturday, 13 June 2020

Tournament, interprovincial travel ban clamps down Sask. summer sports season

There is no interprovincial travel for minors sports teams in Saskatchewan.
    It will be all about house leagues and city leagues, if competitive sports are played in any form this summer in Saskatchewan.
    After Saskatchewan entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan on Monday, minor sports organizations and teams waited to hear announcements for dates of when the first and second parts of Phase 4 would occur.
    The reopening plan was created to start returning Saskatchewan to action in a world that is in the grip of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
    In the first part of Phase 4, sports and recreational activities for children and adults may resume including activities taking place on soccer fields, volleyball and basketball courts, baseball diamonds, lawn bowling greens and football fields.
    The second part of Phase 4 will see indoor pools, indoor rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres and casinos and bingo halls open to the public.
    Full contact sports like tackle football, rugby, wrestling, boxing, martial arts and ice, ball and field hockey with checking will not be allowed during any part of Phase 4. Athletes can do conditioning and skills training in those sports, but won’t be able to engage in competitions with the way these plans unfold at the moment.
    During a press conference on Thursday, the Government of Saskatchewan said it plans to announce a date for the first part of Phase 4 early next week.
    At that same press conference, deputy premier and minister of education Gord Wyant said kids’ sports and activities will go ahead this summer. He proceeded to add there would be no tournaments or interprovincial travel for sports teams and no handshakes.
    The big bomb there was the fact tournaments and interprovincial travel for sports teams was nixed. It would be safe to say most sports organizations likely weren’t expecting that to come down the pipe.
    It is safe to say minor sports bodies were hoping to conduct competitions within the province including provincial championships.
    The Government of Saskatchewan did not define the length of this tournament and interprovincial travel ban for sports teams. One has to wonder if it will extend into September, October, November or December, when the weather turns cold and the winter sports season usually starts up.
    On Tuesday, Baseball Sask announced it was cancelling all of its provincial championship tournaments citing it couldn’t wait any longer for a date to be announced for the first part of Phase 4.
    Softball Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Soccer Association haven’t announced what the fate will be of the provincial championship tournaments each of those bodies run.
    The tournament and interprovincial travel ban will likely end the hopes of Saskatchewan Rugby hosting provincial championships as well.
    Golf Saskatchewan annually hosts a pile of provincial championship tournaments in junior, men’s and women’s amateur, men’s and women’s mid-amateur and men’s and women’s senior amateur play. All of those have sizable followings, and all of those events have to be thrown into doubt.
    Since golf is an individual sport, it might be able to get around the tournament and interprovincial travel ban, because groups of players traveling together wouldn’t be considered teams. Still, the Government of Saskatchewan didn’t provide any clarity on this front.
    On the summer hockey front, it is considered a contact sport and there is a tournament and interprovincial travel ban, so it is likely the rinks won’t see any sort of games this summer.
    The announcement of the tournament and interprovincial travel ban was skillfully tucked in with announcements regarding grad ceremonies and places of worship on Thursday.
    Outdoor grad ceremonies can have 30 graduates for class and 150 in attendance overall.
    Places of worship will be allowed to have one-third of the seating capacity of a building or a maximum of 150 people whichever is less.
    Those two announcements drew the bulk of the attention on Thursday. Concerns about graduations or attending places of worship actually far exceed concerns people have about returning to the world of sports.
    As for the provincial sports scene, it is possible that the Government of Saskatchewan and the medical officials could make new decisions making a return to play more of a possibility for even contact sports.
    Still, there are a tonne of questions about the tournament and interprovincial travel ban for sports teams. Hopefully, more details about the travel ban will emerge sooner than later.

Third Saskatoon Black Lives Matter rally draws 1,000

Protesters take a knee at Saturday’s Black Lives Matter rally in Saskatoon.
    Saskatoon seems to have the magic touch when it comes to hosting peaceful anti-racism rallies which have been held across the world to support the Black Live Matter movement.
    The third such rally occurred in downtown Saskatoon on Saturday and around 1,000 people turned out. The rally ran from noon to about 4 p.m.
    The march started at Kiwanis Memorial Park, moved to the police station, cycled down to city hall and finished up back at Kiwanis Memorial Park. The protesters in the march filled the air with chants and a number of people carried signs.
    There were speakers who took centre stage addressing the crowd at each stop of the march. At the police station, the protesters at the rally took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds to remember George Floyd and other minorities who lost their lives unjustly at the hands of police.
    These demonstrations were triggered due to the death of Floyd, who is African-American, on May 25 after he was arrested by police in Minneapolis, Minn.
    Video of the arrest showed Floyd being pinned on the ground with a police officer identified as Derek Chauvin driving his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck.
    Four officers were fired over the incident including Chauvin, and at first, Chauvin, who is Caucasian, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over Floyd’s death. The charges against Chauvin were increased to second-degree murder on June 3.
    The three other officers - Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
    The crowd at the Saturday rally in Saskatoon was about 60 per cent between the ages of 18 to 24. The rest of the crowd encompassed various age backgrounds.
    The rally seemed to attract a number of families too. A wide variety of cultures were present as well.
    The rally wasn’t as big as the one held in Saskatoon on June 4, which was called the “Justice for George Rally.”
    It is now estimated the crowd at the June 4 rally contained around 4,000 people. About 95 per cent of the people at that rally were age 18 to 24.
    The one noticeable difference was the presence of the Saskatoon Police Service. At the June 4 rally, members of the Saskatoon Police Service mingled with those at the rally, which include posing for pictures.
    The Saskatoon Police members did a great job of blocking off streets to allow the June 4 march to happen without any hiccups.
    Since that time, a number of other stories have come out in the mainstream media regarding police clashes with minorities and a couple of high profile cases in Canada involving interactions with police and people of First Nations decent.
    Some of the stories include clashes between those attending Black Lives Matter rallies in Montreal and the police service in that centre, where protesters were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed.
    The organizers of Saturday’s rally asked for the Saskatoon Police Service to not have a presence at that rally. The Saskatoon Police members kept their distance and efficiently blocked off streets to allow Saturday’s march to take place.
    There were calls at the Saturday rally to defund the police in order to transfer money into social programs to deal with issues of racism and mental health. The “defund the police” line originated in the United States due to the continuing racial turmoil in that country.
    The people in the Saturday rally in Saskatoon made their voices heard, and everything went off in a peaceful way.
    If the rallies continue to happen in a peaceful way, it will help those organizing the rallies to get their anti-racism message out.

New heights for COVID-19 frustration, other thoughts

People in the COVID-19 pandemic want to get after each other like this.
    One has to wonder if frustration over the COVID-19 pandemic is reaching new heights at least in Saskatchewan.
    Over social media lines, it seems there are a large number of people that want the province to start returning more to normal due to the low number of COVID-19 cases in the province. As of Saturday, there were 23 active cases in Saskatchewan including one person in intensive care in Saskatoon and one receiving in patient care in the northern part of the province.
    Between the four western Canadian provinces in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, there are a total of 67 hospitalizations as of today due to COVID-19 with nine of those cases needing intensive care.
    There are a lot of people on social media lines who want restrictions to be relaxed, and they do not want society to be held down by those low hospital rates. These people want to be out and about and live their lives like normal.
    There are still others who view the COVID-19 pandemic as a serious crisis and believe restrictions are being relaxed too quickly and everything should be locked down. Those people fear leaving their homes.
    There are a handful of people who look at the Worldometer statistics to try and determine how dangerous COVID-19 is. Worldometer seems to be extremely accurate in counting deaths in real time.
    At the time this post went live, Worldometer stated 432,475 deaths due to COVID-19 this year. Worldometer also stated so far this year there have been 3,711,624 deaths by cancer, 2,259,154 deaths caused by smoking, 1,130,291 deaths caused by alcohol, 759,706 deaths by HIV/AIDS, 484,615 deaths by suicide, 443,281 deaths by malaria, 220,187 deaths by seasonal flu and 139,684 deaths from mothers giving birth.
    It should be noted that HIV/AIDS has been a pandemic for decades.
    The Worldometer also stated at the time this post went live there was over $180,792,000,000 spent on illegal in the world so far this year.
    No matter where you sit in belief on how dangerous COVID-19 actually is, it does seem people only look at the situation from their own person perspective. There doesn’t seem to be much empathy for those who see things differently.
    If you have a job in an industry that is keeping you financially sound at the moment, it seems some in that situation don’t care if others slip to poverty due to the fact those others work in an industry that could totally collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    It is almost, “I’m glad that is not me, and tough luck to the other person.”
    It is safe to say chronic stress regarding this situation that has no end date is affecting a lot of people.
    If everyone could find a way to a touch more kind and empathic, that would help.
  • Blake Nill, who is the head coach of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds football team, agrees with the cancellations of the fall sports seasons announced by U Sports, the Canada West Conference, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics that were announced on Monday. Nill told J.J. Adams of Postmedia for a Tuesday article, “Ultimately, universities have to provide leadership. They have to set an example. And this is absolutely about that.” Adams’s story can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Thursday, multiple media reports out of Regina stated late University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team running back Samwel Uko tried to seek help for mental health issues from a Regina hospital twice on May 21, which was the day he died. The 20-year-old died of an apparent suicide by walking into Wascana Lake. Overall, this is just a horrible thing to hear about.
  • Gregg Drinnan, who was the best ever when it came to covering the WHL, posted a lengthy column on his Taking Note blog on Friday about the various difficulties the sports world is encountering with the COVID-19 pandemic. That piece can be found by clicking right here.
  • A year ago today on June 13, 2019, the Toronto Raptors downed the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. With the win, the Raptors took the best-of-seven series 4-2 to capture the first NBA title. There were huge watch parties across Canada including in downtown Saskatoon to view that win. Right now, there are likely a lot of people in the country who would want to go back to that moment.
  • On the uplifting front, big congratulations go out to Muenster, Sask., product Logan Hofmann. On Thursday, the 20-year-old right-handed pitcher was selected in the fifth round and 138th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the MLB Draft. Hofmann played this past season with the Northwestern State University Demons baseball team in the NCAA Division I ranks. With the Demons in a shortened season, Hofmann pitched 28 innings without allowing an earned run. He won all four of his starts striking out 38 batters earning second-team all-American honours. Hofmann will turn up from time to time to train at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex here in Saskatoon.
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