Friday, 31 July 2020

U Sports backtracking on age cap welcome development in COVID-19 world

Yol Piok heads downfield after a big catch for the Huskies.
    It was a headache that wasn’t needed in the U Sports world.
    When the dust settled, it was good cooler heads prevail in the U Sports ranks with regards to the age cap rule for football.
    Under the age cap rule, players who turn 25 before Sept. 1 age out of U Sports football. Football players have seven years to complete their five years of eligibility in U Sports upon graduating from high school.
    On Monday, U Sports announced a review had been launched with regards to the eligibility policies relating to football. The anticipated completion of the review is slated for February of 2021.
    U Sports stated that due to the time frame of the review, it will provide a one-time exception to Policy 40.10.4.3.1.1 permitting all currently eligible student-athletes to participate in the 2021 football season even if they exceed the current policy before the start of the 2021 campaign.
    To put it in simple terms, any athlete that turns 25-years-old before Sept. 1, 2021 will be eligible to play in the 2021 U Sports football campaign.
Colton Klassen piles up the yards after the catch for the Huskies.
    This is important due to the fact U Sports cancelled all its fall national championships due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic back on June 8.
    The football cancellation included the Vanier Cup national title game and the semifinal contests in the Mitchell Bowl and Uteck Bowl. The Vanier Cup had been contested in every year starting with 1965.
    The Canada West Conference, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics have all nixed plans to play regular seasons in 2020-21.
    The Reseau du sport etudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) is the only conference under the U Sports umbrella holding out hope of having a regular season in football in the 2020-21 campaign.
    Back on June 8, U Sports said student-athletes without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic scholarships. At the time, there was no word regarding the age cap for football.
    That all changed on July 9, when  TSN broadcaster Farhan Lalji reported over Twitter that U Sports had voted against extending the age cap rule for football by a year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Kyler Mosley (#85) secures a catch for the Rams.
    That initial tweet caused a surge of stories to come out of various media outlets in the mainstream and non-mainstream that were almost all of the uproar variety.
    University of Alberta Golden Bears head coach Chris Morris stepped down as the head of both a university football coaches’ committee and a technical subcommittee over the initial decision regarding the age cap.
    With U Sports announcing its review of football eligibility and giving a one-time exception to the current age cap policy, it allows around 300 athletes to know their U Sports football careers won’t come to a sudden end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    On the University of Saskatchewan Huskies front, that means star utility offensive player Colton Klassen, running back Jace Peters, receiver Yol Piok, offensive right tackle Nick Summach and receiver Joseph Trumpy will all be eligible to play in 2021.
    On the University of Regina Rams front, that means linebackers Robbie Lowes and Cody Peters, defensive lineman Cameron Cross, fullback Colton Hippe and receivers Sam Mike and Kyler Mosley can suit up in 2021.
Nick Summach (#62) leads a running play downfield for the Huskies.
    Of course, U Sports announced their decision in a way via political speak to try and show they weren’t reversing course on the original decision to hold firm with the age cap.
    At this moment, it is a waste of time to get emotionally worked up with regards to the political speak.
    Ultimately, U Sports made the right decision. Those that couldn’t play their final season of U Sports football due to the 2020 campaign being cancelled will be able to hit the field in 2021. That is the big thing right now.
    The overall work in progress debate of eligibility for football in U Sports is something that can be worked on over the next seven or so months.
    When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, it will be a huge benefit to U Sports to return as many veteran players as possible in every sports league under its umbrella. The familiarity will be needed in an attempt to bring back fans.

Bubble visit will be short for some NHL teams, other notes

A Carey Price card.
    For eight NHL teams, their restarts will be a just blip on the radar.
    On Saturday, the NHL begins its 2020 playoffs with a 24-team tournament playing in the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The Western Conference teams play in Edmonton, while the Eastern Conference teams skate in Toronto.
    The first round features eight play-in series that are best of five in length and will feature 16 out of the 24 teams in the post-season. The other eight teams will be playing round robin games against each other for playoff seeding for what is termed the official first round, where the 16 remaining teams will play in eight series that are best of seven in length.
    At the moment, the final day for the qualifying round of games is Aug. 9. That means eight teams will have left or be leaving their bubble cities on Aug. 10 to head into the off-season.
    Those clubs will have been back together for the period of a month considering training camps began for the 24 NHL teams taking part in post-season play in July 10.
    The NHL paused its 2019-20 campaign on March 12 due to the world falling in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pause, it was decided the circuit would try to finish the 2019-20 campaign with a 24-team playoff tournament starting on Aug. 1.
    For the teams that will be eliminate in the play-in series round, the modified playoffs provided a month reprieve for what is an extend off-season. Those players went four months without being together, got together for a month and then resumed off-season activities until possibly going to training camp for the 2020-21 campaign.
A Jonathan Toews card.
    At the moment, the 2020-21 campaign is slated to start with training camps opening on Nov. 17 depending how the pandemic plays out.
    Actually, the 24-team tournament is going to go by very rapidly reducing the number of teams that are staying in the bubble cities.
    After the play-in series wrap up, the 16 remaining teams begin the official first round of the playoffs on Aug. 11 and action in that round is expected to be wrapped up by Aug. 24 eliminating another eight teams. Those eight clubs will have been together for a month and a half.
    For the clubs that advance to the quarter-final round, the conference finals and the Stanley Cup final, the post-season will feel like more of a marathon grind.
    For the teams that are eliminated in the play-in round and the official first round, the post-season provides just a quick reprieve away from off-season activities.
    Even a hub city will be eliminated as the playoffs progress. The conference finals are slated to open on Sept. 8, and all action in that round and the Stanley Cup final will be played in Edmonton.
    Of course, only four teams will still be in action when the conference finals round takes place.
    For most players in the NHL, the playoffs will end seemingly as quickly as they began. For a lot of fans, they might find the post-season will go by in the blink of an eye assuming there are no complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you haven’t seen it, this story from CBC Saskatchewan raised a tonne of uproar this week. On Tuesday, Fiona Odlum and Bonnie Allen from CBC released a story that said five hockey teams from Saskatchewan with players aged seven to 12 traveled to Winnipeg for a tournament that ran July 16 to 19. The Government of Saskatchewan has said there is to be no interprovincial travel for sports teams. A number of the Saskatchewan hockey teams that attended the Winnipeg tournament changed their name, concealed the identity of players and told parents not to post anything on social media. One team coach that was contacted said he was on a fishing trip at the time of the tournament, but the CBC story stated there was a photo that showed that team coach was indeed in Winnipeg. The CBC story can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Thursday, CBC’s Alex Soloducha wrote a story about how Saskatoon attorney David Samuel trained to get into the best shape of his life, when COVID-19 cases began popping up in Canada. After someone infected with the virus passed through his law office, Samuel is now battling the COVID-19 virus. The CBC piece on Samuel can be found by clicking right here.
  • In the MLB, the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies haven’t return to action since completing a three-game series against each other this past Sunday in Philadelphia. That series opened the respective regular seasons of both clubs. The season was stopped for both clubs after a COVID-19 breakout on the Marlins roster. As of Thursday, 17 players and two coaches from the Marlins had tested positive for COVID-19. The Phillies have had one coach and one clubhouse staffer test positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday. Both teams aren’t slated to play again until this coming Tuesday, when they are scheduled to face each other in Miami.
  • On Thursday, Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province reported the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks gave a written termination notice to 49 people employed on a full-time basis in its business operations staff on Wednesday. It is estimated roughly 200 people work in the Canucks business office. Johnston’s story can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Tuesday, Gregg Drinnan put together another round up about how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the sports world in his Taking Note blog. As usual, Drinnan provides a sobering reality check. His piece can be found by clicking right here.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Saturday, 25 July 2020

Does a reality check wait as pro sports ramps up in N.A.?

A Sidney Crosby card.
    Business is hitting a higher gear for pro sports in North America as we are only days away from seeing Sidney Crosby and the NHL crew play actual games.
    Actually, we are just three days away from that moment. On Tuesday, Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins face their archrivals the Philadelphia Flyers in an exhibition tilt in Toronto, which is the NHL’s hub city for all Eastern Conference action.
    Following that contest, the Toronto Maple Leafs will battle the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto.
    Out in Edmonton on Tuesday which will be the hub city for Western Conference teams, the Edmonton Oilers take on their archrivals the Calgary Flames.
    The post-season official begins on Aug. 1 with five contests that will open the play-in round, which contains eight series that are best-of-five in length.
    The NHL was last in action with five regular season games on March 11. On March 12, the league suspended play due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
    Now about four-and-a-half months later, the 2019-20 NHL campaign is set to resume with games played in arenas without fans in Toronto and Edmonton. The players and team staffs are being kept in nice hotels away from the general public in a bubble type situations.
    The NHL isn’t the only circuit that has gotten going. Major League Baseball held its opening day on Thursday with a pair of games. The New York Yankees downed the Nationals in Washington 4-1 in a game that was shortened to six innings due to weather and the host Los Angeles Dodgers thumped the San Francisco Giants 8-1.
A Carey Price card.
    In Canada on Friday, there was some excited online chatter as the Toronto Blue Jays slipped past the Rays in Tampa Bay 6-4 in the opening regular season game for both those clubs.
    The Blue Jays will be playing the majority of their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., after they were unable to get approval from the Government of Canada to get around COVID-19 restrictions to host games in Toronto.
    The WNBA regular season tipped off Saturday with six games at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. That circuit is set to play its entire campaign at that facility.
    The Canadian Elite Basketball League started its month long Summer Series tournament with a pair of games at the Meridian Centre in St. Catherines, Ont., marking the first professional sports action in Canada since March 11. The entire CEBL tournament will take place at the Meridian Centre.
    On July 30, the NBA resumes its regular season with a pair of games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.
    NFL players are slated to report to training camps on Tuesday.
A Bo Horvat card.
    The NASCAR Cup Series season and UFC cards have been going full speed ahead since May.
    Those in the amateur sports world in Canada and United States will have their figures crossed looking to see how life unfolds in North America’s pro sports world.
    If these pro sports circuits can finish their seasons with as few hiccups as possible, it increases the optimism the amateur sports world can get going more in full swing.
    In Saskatchewan, sports like golf, baseball and softball are taking part in meaningful competitions on the amateur side.
    If action in the North American pro sports circuits gets derailed by a surge of positive COVID-19 tests, that scenario could cause action that is already going on the amateur sports world to get rolled back. A surge in positive tests is possible as the amount of new COVID-19 cases in the United States seems to increase by an average of 60,000 a day at the moment.
    In Germany, the pro soccer Bundesliga restarted on May 16, and Bayern Munich won an eighth straight league crown. The Bundesliga officially wrapped up on July 6, when Werder Bremen played Heidenheim to a 2-2 draw in a relegation game and avoided being knocked out of Germany’s top professional tier.
    The Bundesliga proved what could be done if focus is maintained regarding virus testing and medical protocols.
    Even with the success the Bundesliga had and the momentum the pro sports circuits in North America have, there is still uneasiness on the amateur side of sports in North America.
A Brendan Gallagher card.
    This past Monday, the Southwestern Athletic Conference postponed all fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic including football, and it is an NCAA Division I conference. The SWAC still aims to get football going with a seven-game conference schedule for football starting with an eight-week training period in January 2021.
    The QMJHL has started to adjust its plans for the 2020-21 campaign. That circuit will shorten its regular season from 68 to 60 regular season games with the regular season slated to start Oct. 1. The league’s 18 teams will be split into three divisions of six clubs each and squads will only play in-division games.
    At the moment, fans of professional sports in North America have to be pumped action has already started to happen or will happen. In Canada, there will be lots of excitement for the NHL as the Oilers, Flames, Leafs, Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets will all be part of the play-in round.
    Still, could there be a COVID-19 reality check waiting around the corner that could bring everything to a halt?
    That is the big fear as things play out.

Winterton will always be linked to Raiders, other notes


    It is hard to imagine going to a Raiders hockey game in Prince Albert without Doug Winterton in attendance.
    Whenever the Raiders do resume playing home games with fans at the Art Hauser Centre in a world that is caught in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, Winterton won’t be sitting his is seat located in the first row of the west end of the facility a couple of sections north of goal on that side of the building.
    He sat in that spot of the Art Hauser Centre next to his wife, Joan, for as long as anyone can remember.
    This past Monday, Doug Winterton passed away of natural causes at age 91. He was born on December 23, 1928 and moved to Winnipeg at age 21, where he met Joan.
    They lived in Manitoba and Alberta before settling in Prince Albert in 1972.
    Upon arriving in Prince Albert, Winterton became involved with the Raiders, who were still playing in the Junior A ranks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League at that time, and the Cooke Municipal Golf Club.
    Winterton served as the Raiders secretary for seven years and was the club’s president from 1978 to 1980. He was a charter member of the Raiders booster club, and he and Joan were billets for a lengthy stretch during the club’s time in the SJHL.
    Doug Winterton’s involvement and support of the Raiders continued when the club moved to the major junior hockey ranks joining the WHL in 1982.
    This past season, Winterton could still be found volunteering his time to help out in the media and scouts lounge even after he celebrated his 91st birthday. He was inducted to the Raiders Wall of Honour on September 27, 2013.
    Winterton could tell you stories about the Raiders recalling the team’s entire history for hours and hours. While he had fond memories of the Raiders past, he was really proud of the players coaches and staff of the organization in recent years.
Doug Winterton enjoyed watching the Raiders win the WHL title in 2019.
    When Brayden Pachal, Sean Montgomery, Parker Kelly, Cole Fonstad, Spencer Moe, Zack Hayes, Max Martin and netminder Ian Scott first began playing together in 2016-17 going through growing pains as youngsters posting a 21-44-5-2 regular season record, Winterton saw something special.
    During that 2016-17 season, he would tell anyone that came into the Raiders media and scouts lounge about how much he enjoyed watching how hard that group worked and how much that group was improving as the campaign went on. Winterton said he believed that group of players could do something special.
    On May 13, 2019, Winterton was in his seat to see that core group of eight players help the Raiders as veteran team members win the WHL title. The Raiders claimed Game 7 of the WHL Championship series with an epic 3-2 overtime win over the Vancouver Giants with Dante Hannoun scoring for the Prince Albert side in the extra session.
    Doug and Joan were on their feet cheering and stayed to witness the on-ice post-game celebrations with the Ed Chynoweth Cup for a lengthy amount of time.
    Doug Winterton will be remembered as one of the Raiders most passionate supporters. In spirit, you get a sense he will still be a fixture at their games.

  • On Thursday, the Prince Albert Raiders announced they have signed CHL Import Draft selection Uladzislau Shyla to a WHL Standard Player Agreement. Shyla, who is from Minsk, Belarus, was selected by the Raiders in the first round and 45th overall in the CHL Import Draft held on June 30. The 17-year-old, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 147 pounds, had 10 goals and nine assists in 55 games for Belarus’s under-18 team this past season.
  • Veteran Regina Leader-Post sports columnist Rob Vanstone was featured in a CTV story in his quest to lose weight and improve his health. CTV’s sports reporter Claire Hanna produced an uplifting piece and that story can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Thursday, 15-year-old Brooklin Fry won the Saskatchewan women’s amateur golf championship at The Legends Golf Course in Warman. The Shell Lake product posted a 7-over-par 223 to take the title. Fry, who is set to enter her rookie season with the Prince Albert Northern Bears female under-18 hockey team, had won the Saskatchewan junior girls’ golf title on July 16 in Swift Current. The Saskatchewan men’s mid-amateur golf championship also wrapped up at The Legends Golf Course on Thursday with Danny Klughart of Prince Albert taking that title for a second straight year. On Friday, Saskatoon product Ty Campbell captured the Saskatchewan men’s amateur golf championship at The Legends Golf Course.
  • On Friday, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., announced he was opting out of the NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic via Twitter. The 29-year-old is the starting right guard for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. He has played for the Chiefs since 2014. Duvernay-Tardif graduated from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine in May 2018 with a doctor of Medicine and a master of surgery. He began working at a long-term care facility in April in Montreal and remained in that role through June. Duvernay-Tardif has decided to continue to work in the health care system and is waiting for another role. Before joining the Chiefs, Duvernay-Tardif played in the U Sports football ranks for the McGill University Redmen.
  • Gregg Drinnan continues to do an ace job rounding up how the COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the sports world in his Taking Note blog. His latest offering can be found by clicking right here.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Return of even limited minor sports is good for the soul

Braxton Buckberger fires off a pitch for the Cubs.
    “We don’t shake hands now, do we?”
    Those words have been spoken lots at various sports fields around Saskatoon due to the fact the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still grips the world. When games come to an end, thoughts drift towards a natural act of sportsmanship, which has become frowned upon in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
    That common query about handshakes doesn’t dampen an uplifting development. For the past two weeks in Saskatoon, a number of minor sports have resumed.
    Baseball and softball games are taking place at a number of diamonds across the city.
    On Tuesday, Golf Saskatchewan will start running its women’s amateur, men’s amateur and men’s mid-amateur championship tournaments at The Legends Golf Club in Warman.
    Actually on Thursday, Golf Saskatchewan’s junior boys and girls provincial championship tournaments concluded at the Elmwood Golf Club in Swift Current. Josh Nagy of Saskatoon took the boys’ title with a 3-under-par 213 over three rounds, and Brooklin Fry of Shell Lake claimed the girls’ championship with a 7-over-par 223 over three rounds.
    Across the province over the past two weeks, it has become easier to locate an amateur sporting event that is taking place.
    Those who are involved with sports organizations across Saskatchewan have focused over the last four months on flattening the curve. The reward has come with actual competition.
Softball has been in action at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    For those taking part in those competitions or watching them, there is a renewed appreciation for what is taking place. When everyone is at a park, it seems to be mentally good for those that are there to have something normal back in their respective lives.
    One of the best examples of that took place at Leakos Field on Saturday as the Saskatoon Cubs faced the Muenster Red Sox in doubleheader battle between U-18 AAA baseball teams.
    The host Cubs had a sound system set up to allow for someone to fulfill the role of public address announcer and for music to be played between each half inning.
    A quaint crowd took in the games, and physically spaced out down the baselines of the park. When groups of four gathered, everyone was usually from the same family unit or at least had close personal ties.
    As the Cubs swept the series with an 11-10 victory in the first contest and a 13-8 win in the second encounter, it felt like the troubles in the current world were forgotten for a short time.
    Overall, it just seems right to go to a place like the Gordie Howe Sports Complex on a weekday night and hear activity in the air across all its baseball and softball diamonds. During May and June especially, it felt like something was missing when those sounds weren’t there.
A baseball hitter fouls off a pitch at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    More and more missing sites are starting to take place. On Saturday in Regina, the Kings Park Speedway opened the local stock car season in the Saskatchewan capital. The crowd was capped at 150 people at a facility that can seat 1,500.
    Seeing the Regina racers hit the track, it has to spark optimism that action will return at the immaculate Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon.
    About six days ago via social media, the crew from the Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association said work is still going on with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to try and run events in August and September.
    The Wyant Group Raceway can pack in 3,319 spectators and usually hosts an annual NASCAR Pinty’s Series stop. It is the dream track in Saskatchewan.
    While it would be nice if the entire sports world in the province was back in action, the sports action that has taken place has been good for the soul.

Huskies to get new turf at Griffiths, other notes

Adam Machart and the Huskies will get new turf at Griffiths Stadium.
    Whenever the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football and soccer teams return to meaningful U Sports action, they will get to utilize a new field turf field at Griffiths Stadium.
    On Friday, the Huskies hosted a press conference and ground breaking ceremony at Griffiths.
    It marked the first time the Huskies hosted any type of function on campus since a rally was held at the Physical Activity Complex on March 11. The rally on that day served to honour the Huskies women’s basketball team for winning a U Sports national title and individual U Sports national champions gold medal winners from the Huskies wrestling and track and field teams.
    It was believed the Huskies would receive funding from the Government of Saskatchewan to replace the turf at Griffiths Stadium that was installed for the start of the 2006 season. Field turfs usually have a life of 10 years before needing to be replaced, and the one at Griffiths was past its expiry date.
    Due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world, one had to wonder if the turf replacement would happen.
    On Friday, it was announced the U of S received $3.14-million in funding from the Government of Saskatchewan to replace the turf at Griffiths.
    On top of replacing the turf, the funding will include a field expansion to accommodate regulation-sized football and soccer events, improving the shock absorption of the playing surface and an update to the lighting system to help reduce power consumption.
    Midfielder Taneil Gay, who has played four seasons with the Huskies women’s soccer team, and running back Adam Machart, who is coming off a stellar campaign with the Huskies football team, both spoke at Friday’s festivities.
    A final soccer and football kickoff was performed on the current turf before a ceremonial ground breaking took place.
    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Huskies football and soccer team saw their 2020 campaigns get cancelled.
    While it is uncertain if any U Sports activities will take place in 2020-21, the turf replacement at Griffiths was a welcome bit of good news during this down time for the Huskies program.

  • On Wednesday, the Canada West Conference announced it was cancelling its cross-country championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was going to be hosted in the fall by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. The Canada West swimming championships, which were slated for November, are being rescheduled for early 2021. The Canada West golf championships are slated for Oct. 2-4 in Kelowna, B.C.
  • The Saskatoon Blades have created an alumni registry. The Blades are working to build a database of players and staff who have been a part of the franchise since its inception in 1964. Former Blades players and staffers who would like to join the registry can do by accessing a form on the team’s website that can be found by clicking right here.
  • On Wednesday, Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Daemon Hunt and Everett Silvertips centre Gage Goncalves were added to the roster for Hockey Canada’s national junior team summer development camp. The camp is being held in a virtual form online from July 27 to 31.
  • On Wednesday, USA Hockey cancelled its summer showcase slated to start this coming Friday and run through to July 31 in Plymouth, Mich. Originally, USA Hockey invited 44 players to this event that was slated to be part of the evaluation process to determine the makeup for the United States’ entry at world juniors. The upcoming world juniors are slated to run Dec. 26, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.
  • On Wednesday, the Tournament of Roses Parade slated for January 1, 2021 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tournament of Roses Parade is normally held on an annual basis in New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.
  • Gregg Drinnan has continued to track how the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked havoc on the sports world in his Taking Note blog. His roundup from Friday can be found by clicking right here.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Flashback Friday - “West is the Best”

Cougar hockey star rips up CIAU women’s league

By Darren Steinke
Special to CIAU.ca
Brandy West in action for the Cougars in the 2000-01 campaign.
    (*Note – This piece originally ran on the CIAU.ca website on January 4, 2001. Unfortunately in Canadian sports, pieces like this usually get lost for the ages. I rediscovered this piece and decided to run it as a flashback post, so it could see the light of day once again.*)
    In CIAU women’s hockey, there are players, there are stars, there are superstars and then there is Brandy West.
    West is the undeniable premier player in the CIAU. In her first two years with the Cougars, she has been a CWUAA first team all-star twice, the CWUAA rookie-of-the-year in 1999, the CWUAA player-of-the-year twice and a CIAU all-Canadian twice.
    Over her first two seasons, this third-year forward has scored 63 goals and recorded 47 assists for 110 points in 50 games. Up to the Christmas break of this season, West has averaged 2.17 points per game in regular season play. She is arguably the greatest female athlete in the history of all University of Regina Cougars programs.
    “She probably works as hard as anybody on the ice and off the ice as well,” says head coach Sarah Howald. “She is the first one in the gym in the summer and the last one out as well.
    “She has got the goal scoring tough that not very many people are blessed with.”
    West, who hails from Langbank, Saskatchewan, started playing hockey with the boy’s team in Kennedy, Saskatchewan at age seven. She joined the team after spending a year watching a friend play.
Brandy West was the CIAU player-of-the-year in 2000-01.
    Even though she played on a boy’s team, West says she was treated like any other play. The sport was a way of life in her home-town area.
    “It was what you did after school,” she says. “You went outside and played shinny out in the dugout.
    “That is what you did in the winter.”
    After growing up playing hockey, West decided to attend the University of Regina to get her education degree. Since the sport of women’s hockey was growing, the U of R did not have a team in CIAU women’s hockey during her first year. She spent that season playing on a women’s club team.
    When the University of Regina established a Cougars Women’s Hockey Team in her second year, West decided to tryout. She did not realize what she was about to accomplish.
    “It was unexpected,” says West, who is the Cougars team captain. “I came out and tried my hardest.
    “I started out with some good players and put some in.”
    The move also brought Howald into West’s life. Aside from her grandfather John Cancade, West says the biggest influence in her hockey career has been Howald.
    “She has given me new things to try,” says West.
    This five-foot-six forward’s efforts on and off the ice have been appreciated by her teammates. They see her as the team’s leader.
Brandy West, right, takes part in a ceremonial faceoff in February of 2001.
    “She always puts the team before herself,” says teammate Tanya Hutcheon. “She is an open ear. You can always talk to her.”
    Guen Kernaleguen, who plays defence for the Cougars, says West is usually cheerful and good-natured.
    “I think she is definitely a role model for a lot of female athletes,” says Kernaleguen. “She brings spectators, and she brings other female athletes out.”
    Despite her individual success and the success of the Cougars, West has obtained her accomplishments in relative obscurity compared to the other Cougars women’s programs. The U of R’s traditionally strong and established women’s basketball program often overshadows West and her team. It is a situation that does not bother West.
    “This whole thing is real new for me, so any recognition at all is kind of like an honour,” says West. “You see the basketball team, and they are winning all the time.
    “Those are the teams that are going to get the recognition.”
    However, West’s Cougars are on a path to establish a tradition of excellence that will match their basketball counterparts. After the Cougars Women’s Hockey Team completed their first season with a 7-19 overall record, the U of R met the heavily favoured University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West quarter-final in the 1999 playoffs.
Brandy West, left, and the Cougars are all smiles after a goal in 2000-01.
    West scored four goals as the Cougars eliminated the Huskies with a 5-3 victory. She regards that game as the most memorable moment of her hockey career.
    After losing in the 1999 Canada West semifinal 4-1 to the University of Alberta Pandas, the Cougars moved on to post an impressive 18-4-2 overall record last season. This success did not translate into playoff success.
    The Cougars finished fourth in the 2000 Canada West Championship tournament after suffering one-goal losses to the University of Calgary Dinosaurs and the University of Manitoba Bisons.
    West believes this is the year the Cougars can make a long playoff run.
    “This year we are going to be close,” says West. “We are going to come a long way this year.”
Besides hoping to help the Cougars obtain their playoff goals, West also has a dream of playing hockey after university.
    “I’d like to go all the way to the Olympic team,” says West. “I will keep trying as long as I can.”
Howald sees this type of potential in West.
    “I don’t think it is out of reach for her,” says Howald. “I think she has a shot at national team at some point.”
    Until that time, the Cougars look forward to having West as a key part of their team. They are also glad she still has two years of eligibility remaining after this year.
    “I think when she is gone it will be a big loss for our team,” says Hutcheon. “It will be a big letdown when she leaves the rink.”
The Cougars are 2001 CWUAA champs. (Photo from Erin Balfour-Marshall)
    (*Epilogue – West was named the CIAU player-of-the-year for her exploits in the 2000-01 campaign. West topped the Cougars in regular season scoring with 22 goals and 15 assists for 37 points powering the Cougars to a first place finish in Canada West with a 13-1 record. In February of 2001, West led the Cougars to their only Canada West title to date. They swept the Pandas in the best-of-three Canada West Championship series 2-0 at Exhibition Stadium in Regina. West helped the Cougars advance to the CIAU championship in Late February of 2001 in Calgary, where they fell 4-3 to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. West’s jersey from the 2000-01 campaign sits in the Hockey Hall of Fame.*)

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Sunday, 12 July 2020

2019 Canadian Bowl win a big moment for Hilltops’ “Sarge”

HC Tom Sargeant, centre, celebrates the Hilltops CJFL title win in 2015.
    When it comes to honouring CJFL coaching legends, it only makes sense to start with Saskatoon Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant.
    On Wednesday, the CJFL started a weekly feature to celebrate its legendary coaches, and the first coach to be featured was Sargeant.
    When you have more post-secondary head coaching victories in the Canadian amateur football ranks that anyone else, it only makes sense to lead a list of features on coaching legends.
    Under Sargeant’s watch as head coach, the Hilltops have won 13 CJFL titles, including nine out of the last 10 championships and the last six straight titles in a row.
HC Tom Sargeant gives tips to Hilltops QB Tyler Hermann (#12).
    He was also part of two Hilltops CJFL title winning teams as an assistant coach and won his first CJFL championship with the team as a player in 1985.
    Sargeant has a career 210-30-2 head coaching record in the CJFL’s regular season and post-season. The 55-year-old has a 155-21-2 record in the CJFL regular season and a 55-9 record in the CJFL post-season.
    At the moment, the Hilltops are on a 31 overall game winning streak including action in the CJFL’s regular season and playoffs. The Hilltops have won their last 29 straight games on the road including the CJFL’s regular season and post-season.
    Having won the last six straight CJFL titles, the Hilltops have won a CJFL record 20 straight post-season contests.
    One of Sargeant’s best works as a head coach may have come in the Hilltops most recent victory in the Canadian Bowl to become CJFL champions.
Hilltops HC Tom Sargeant grades a situation from the sidelines.
    On Nov. 16, 2019, the Hilltops downed the host Rams in Langley, B.C., 11-6 to capture the CJFL title.
    The game was a defensive slugfest.
    On top of being the Hilltops head coach, Sargeant doubles as the team’s offensive coordinator. On the competitive side as an offensive coordinator, you had to know it bothered Sargeant his offence wasn’t scoring more points.
    Still, the Hilltops defence was on fire and kicker Rylan Kleiter came up clutch hitting 3-of-4 field goals.
    In the role of head coach, Sargeant focused towards playing into the hand that gave his team the best chance to win with the way that game was flowing.
Hilltops HC Tom Sargeant has receiver Rylan Kleiter run in a play.
    That meant creating the best conditions to allow the Hilltops defence under the guidance of defensive coordinator Jeff Yausie and Kleiter to win the game.
    Offensively, that meant the Hilltops ran the ball a lot more and focused on not turning it over.
    In that moment, Sargeant swallowed his pride as an offensive coordinator in order to create the best opportunity for his team to win the CJFL championship on that day. That is a big thing, and it played out to being a key factor as to why the Hilltops prevailed on that day to capture their 22nd CJFL championship.
    It should also be noted the Hilltops have had monster offensive CJFL championship games with Sargeant calling the plays on offence.
Hilltops HC Tom Sargeant conveys orders in the 2018 Canadian Bowl.
    In the Canadian Bowl held in 2018 at Saskatoon Minor Football Field, the Hilltops hammered the Rams 58-21 with Sargeant serving as the offensive coordinator.
    In the Canadian Bowl held in 2017 in Windsor, Ont., the Hilltops dismantled the Windsor AKO Fratmen 56-11 with Sargeant calling the offensive plays.
    Reading what you have to do on that particular day to win is one of the many factors that makes “Sarge” an all-time coaching great.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Age cap rule hurts U Sports football in COVID-19 times

Nick Summach (#62) leads a running play downfield for the Huskies.
    It was a tough to digest piece of news that dropped for football players in U Sports.
    On Thursday, TSN broadcaster Farhan Lalji reported over Twitter that U Sports had voted against extending the age cap rule for football by a year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That initial tweet caused a surge of stories to come out of various media outlets in the mainstream and non-mainstream.
    University of Alberta Golden Bears head coach Chris Morris stepped down as the head of both a university football coaches’ committee and a technical subcommittee over this move.
    Of course, this became a big story in U Sports circles, because back on June 8, U Sports cancelled all its fall national championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The football cancellation included the Vanier Cup national title game and the semifinal contests in the Mitchell Bowl and Uteck Bowl. The Vanier Cup had been contested in every year starting with 1965.
    The Reseau du sport etudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) is the only conference under the U Sports umbrella holding out hope of having a regular season in football in the 2020-21 campaign.
Colton Klassen heads up field for the Huskies.
    The Canada West Conference, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics have all nixed plans to play regular seasons in 2020-21.
    Back on June 8, U Sports said student-athletes without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic scholarships. At the time, there was no word regarding the age cap for football.
    Under the age cap rule, players who turn 25 before Sept. 1 age out of U Sports football. Football players have seven years to complete their five years of eligibility in U Sports upon graduating from high school.
    Any player who would have gone into their final year of eligibility for U Sports football in the cancelled 2020 season will see their career come to an end. According to U Sports, this affects approximately 300 out of 2,335 athletes.
    On top of that, a large number of veteran players will also lose a year of eligibility under this decision.
    While discussions have come up regarding concerns of more physically mature older athletes going up against younger not as physically mature recent high school graduates, all that talk takes away from the issue in the current day.
Yol Piok heads downfield after a big catch for the Huskies
    The athletes that are getting slighted are being slighted by a factor outside of anyone’s control in the COVID-19 pandemic.
    When U Sports does resume action after the pandemic, it will be in a rebuilding state. That goes for all sports operating under the U Sports umbrella.
    On the football side, you don’t want to be casting aside veteran players, who could help trigger name recognition whenever action resumes.
    At the moment, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team is looking at not being able to return star utility offensive player Colton Klassen, running back Jace Peters, receiver Yol Piok, offensive right tackle Nick Summach and receiver Joseph Trumpy.
    In the CFL Draft that was held on April 30, Summach was selected in seventh round and 57th overall by the Edmonton Eskimos. Klassen was picked in the eighth round and 69th overall by the Montreal Alouettes.
    All five of those players are fairly well known in the football community of Saskatoon. Klassen is one of the best known Huskies.
Jace Peters rumbles downfield on a run for the Huskies.
    Their returns to the Huskies could bridge action before and after the stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The University of Regina Rams face the same challenges on this front. They are looking to be without linebacker Cody Peters, who should be able to play one more season but is going to age out.
    Peters had a stellar five-year career winning five straight CJFL titles with the venerable Saskatoon Hilltops. He was named the CJFL’s defensive player of the year in 2018.
    Before rejoining the Hilltops for his final CJFL season 2018, Peters attended training camp for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Following his time with the Hilltops, Peters joined the Rams.
    Peters is known in the football community in Regina and throughout Saskatchewan.
    Due to the fact there won’t be a 2020 season for U Sports football thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, some U Sports football players will be making critical life decisions about whether they will continue to play football or move on to another phase of their lives.
    For recruits that just graduated from high school and were planning to join a U Sports football team as a rookie in 2020, those recruits might ultimately decide not to play and focus on other educational or working world opportunities.
Joseph Trumpy makes a big catch for the Huskies.
    Taking a year away from playing meaningful games throws a wrench into the plans of every player. They don’t need to be given any extra incentive to not play.
    On top of all that, football is the only sport under the U Sports umbrella that has to follow an age cap rule. Just from that perspective, it would be fair to eliminate the age cap rule and make football eligibility mirror that of the other sports in U Sports.
    When these pandemic times come to an end, it is likely you won’t see the U Sports football teams filled with veterans in the starting ranks who are aged 26 and 27. That was a trend in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s.
    This time around concern has to centre on just getting the sport of football going again just like any other sport that is governed by U Sports.

NHL will provide good distraction if show goes on, other notes

The Oilers, seen here in a 2017 pre-season game, are hub city NHL hosts.
    Fan chatter on the NHL is starting to trickle through on social media lines.
    If the circuit can execute its return to play out in two hub cities in Edmonton and Toronto, it will provide a good distraction for sports fans in Canada in these COVID-19 pandemic times.
    The NHL is resuming the paused 2019-20 campaign with a 24-team playoff tournament. Teams are slated to report for training camps on July 13.
    The post-season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 1 with five games that open five different best-of-five play-in series. A total of 16 teams are taking part in the play-in round to determine eight clubs that will advance to the main 16-team post-season bracket.
    The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars have been placed in the main 16-team bracket.
    All of the post-season games will be played in Edmonton and Toronto. Both the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs held off until Friday before making official announcements that their centres would indeed be hub cities.
    That development is convenient for Canadian sports networks that dump tonnes of resources into television coverage of these games.
    Those networks don’t have to fear dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic border restrictions between Canada and the United States due to all the post-season games being played in Canada.
    Over the past couple of days, you are starting to see a social media post two coming from fans who believe the team they support will win the playoff tournament and capture the Stanley Cup.
    If the playoffs can progress to crowning a Stanley Cup champion, fan chatter will likely increase to the point where you won’t know that a pandemic is indeed going on.
    If the playoff tournament gets derailed by positive COVID-19 tests that results in a team or teams dropping out or the post-season not get completed, the fans that want to watch the league for the distraction will likely just go silent.
    Critics that don’t want the NHL to jump back into action will likely become more vocal and might even gloat over the failure.
    For the moment, fans that just want to see games just to have a distraction have something to look forward to.

  • On Wednesday, Sportsnet announced it was trimming its six-stop Grand Slam of Curling circuit to just two events next season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first slam event will be the Players’ Championship set for Toronto from April 13 to 18 in 2021. The second event will be the Champions Cup set for Olds, Alta., starting on April 27, 2021 running to May 2, 2021. The Grand Slam of Curling stops are part of the World Curling Tour seasonal calendar.
  • Gregg Drinnan has been doing ace work in rounding up the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic is playing on the sports world, especially in the hard hit United States, in his Taking Note blog. His round up from Friday can be found by clicking right here, and the round up from Thursday can be found by clicking right here. The amount of positive tests, postponements and cancellations keep piling up.
  • On a sobering note, the United States has hit the point where just over one out of every 100 persons in that country has contracted COVID-19 at some point this year. At the time this post went live, the United States had 3,355,646 total COVID-19 cases this year for a country that has a population of just over 331,060,000. Worldwide deaths this year from COVID-19 at 567,628 at the time of this post have passed total deaths by suicide, which sit at 566,508.
  • While U Sports decision to hold firm on the football age cap was disappointing for many, Dick White, who is the U Sports interim Chief Executive Officer, is still the right person to lead that sports body through these trouble current pandemic days. White has a strong passion for U Sports and has experience dealing with tough financial times as the director of athletics for the University of Regina. Like most sports bodies in Canada, U Sports is in for a tough road ahead.
  • Baseball and softball got going at the house and city league levels this past week in Saskatoon. It was a great site to see various diamonds in action around the city. Many have their figures crossed that this great development continues.
    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to stankssports@gmail.com.
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Thursday, 9 July 2020

Fun with photos

Garth Knittig (#59) dives in for a TD for the Hilltops.
    Defensive lineman touchdowns always make great photos.
    Anyway how saw big old Garth Knittig fly through the air like a bird in the 2017 PFC final for the Saskatoon Hilltops would know that was true. 
    The defensive tackle, who was dubbed “the Delisle Destroyer,” looked like a stout thick building standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 285 pounds getting some serious air time taking the ball on a short-yardage plunge and diving in over top of the Regina Thunder defence from a yard out.
    Knittig’s score came with 96 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and it put the Hilltops up 36-24 over the Thunder. The score would be cemented as the final outcome of the contest at Saskatoon Minor Football Field on Oct. 22, 2017.
    Before Knittig’s touchdown, the Hilltops were holding on to a 29-24 lead against their Regina rivals late in the fourth quarter and wanted to ensure the Thunder didn’t have a chance to pull out any last minute heroics.
    On Knittig’s goal-line short-yardage score, he actually wasn’t supposed to get the ball. He was in the Hilltops short-yardage offensive package to be a blocking fullback.
    Hilltops star quarterback Jordan Walls didn’t hear the play call correctly and was supposed to hand off to a regular ball carrier. He also didn’t question what he heard, because Knittig was a strong, tough and hard-working defensive tackle.
    Everyone in the Hilltops huddle would have been in favour of getting Knittig into the end zone. Little did anyone know, Knittig could run the one-yard dive play as well as Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen, who was an all-time NFL great with the Los Angeles version of the Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Garth Knittig gets set on defence in the 2017 PFC final.
    After that win, the Hilltops advanced on to win a fourth straight CJFL title.
    The image of Knittig’s score in that PFC final is one of the many photos I have captured over the years I enjoy looking at. Since I started this blog in late August of 2014, readers have constantly said they like the photos I have posted.
    Readers might not always like what I have to write, but I don’t think I have ever received a bad word regarding a picture I have posted. Most of those pictures have been from sports events that I have covered.
    Actually, I have usually received great feedback from my picture taking at sporting events. The first photos I ever took came from the second school year I worked at the University of Regina student news paper, The Carillon, in 1997-98.
    I shot a tonne of photos during my time at the Prince Albert Daily Herald from 2001 to 2004.
    I then went through a period of time where I didn’t shoot extensively. When I joined the Medicine Hat News in September of 2004, I was brought on to be a WHL beat writer that covered the Medicine Hat Tigers.
    While I did write about other sports, my main focus was on the Tigers and stories on the WHL league front.
    When I first got to the news, we had a deep editorial staff with three talented photographers. I wasn’t needed to fill that role.
The Hilltops celebrate winning the PFC title in 2017.
    During my time there, the News was sold to Glacier Media and the budget cut era began to take hold at that outlet. I took up shooting photos once again during the 2010-11 hockey season and have kept doing that craft since then.
    I actually like shooting photos more than I do writing.
    During these days that pass under the cloud of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it seems doom and gloom can overcome life.
    I figured I would share 10 more photos in no particular order I have taken over the years that look cool. I saw on my Instagram account I have posted at the moment 1,299 photos I have taken that I really like.
    That volume makes it hard to cut down to a handful of favourities. I figured this could be a fun post I could do on continuing basis even after the pandemic ends.
    With all that said, I hope you enjoy the first batch of photos I have collected for this post. 

Hannoun’s Game 7 OT winner gives WHL title to Raiders

    This will go down as the most iconic photo I have ever taken.
    Overage centre Dante Hannoun (#17) reacts to scoring the overtime winner for the Prince Albert Raiders in Game 7 of the WHL Championship series played on May 13, 2019 at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
    Hannoun’s goal gave the Raiders a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. It also gave the defining moment in the history of the Raiders legendary home rink in the Art Hauser Centre.

Rams’ Hughes the Huskies in the dust

    University of Regina Rams running back Neal Hughes was one of that program’s all-time top playmakers before going on to a 10-year CFL career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
    Before he won two Grey Cup rings with the Roughriders, Hughes blasts away from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies defence in this photo take on Sept. 15, 2001. He ran the ball 17 times for 141 yards and scored two touchdowns and caught six passes for 80 yards and a major score.
    The Rams won the Hall of Fame game 31-21 before 7,238 spectators on the frozen concrete of Taylor Field.

Smith’s joyful Ruthy moment with Huskies

    Chloe Smith only played two seasons for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team, but that was enough time to carve out a memorable moment.
    In this photo taken on Feb. 24, 2018, Smith (centre) celebrates scoring the winning goal for the Huskies who downed the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 2-1 in Game 2 of a Canada West semifinal series. She was in her rookie season with the Huskies when she scored this goal.
    The win allowed the Huskies to sweep the best-of-three series 2-0.
    Smith’s tally goes down as the final U Sports women’s playoff series winner scored at the ancient Rutherford Rink.

Shirley so good at age 15 with Stars

    So good, so young.
    Sophie Shirley is pictured in action here for the Saskatoon Stars at age 15 during a Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League semifinal series against the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats at the Agriplace Arena.
    At the time standing just 5-foot-4, Shirley weaved her magic piling up 12 goals and 12 assists helping the Stars win all nine of their league playoff games in 2015 and capture their first Fedoruk Cup as SFU18AAAHL champions.
    She finished second SFU18AAAHL regular season scoring with 22 goals and 17 assists in 27 games.
    Now standing 5-foot-9, Shirley is a star centre with the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team and a member of Canada national women’s development team. She helped the Badgers win an NCAA national title in 2019 and has a decorated list of accomplishments in hockey having just turned 21-years-old.

Huskies’ Machart follows Riley to the end zone

    Running back Adam Machart rocked and rolled for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in 2019.
    In this picture taken on Sept. 6, 2019, Marchart follows the block of left guard Mattland Riley in the Huskies homecoming game against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds at Griffiths Stadium.
    Machart had a big night carrying the ball 15 times for 134 yards and scoring two touchdowns. He caught an additional five passes for 39 yards in a 40-7 Huskies victory before 6,278 spectators.
    That was the beginning of a huge campaign for Machart. He set a new Huskies team record for most rushing yards in a season piling up 1,330 yards on 156 carries, where he scored eight touchdowns.
    Machart also caught 20 passes for 204 yards and scored three majors through the air. His 1,534 all-purpose yards were a new Huskies team record for one regular season.
    Riley would be selected in the first round and seventh overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL Draft held this past April 30.

Cornwall blows roof of SaskTel Centre for Rush

    Jeff Cornwall gave the Saskatchewan Rush a dream finish to their first campaign playing out of the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
    On June 4, 2016, Cornwall, who is a Rush defender, scored a on a coast-to-coast rush with 12 seconds to play in the fourth quarter to break a 10-10 tie with the Buffalo Bandits and put the Rush ahead 11-10 sending 15,182 spectators into delirium. That 11-10 score held up as the final in Game 2 of the National Lacrosse League Championship Series.
    The Rush swept the best-of-three set 2-0 to capture their second NLL title in team history. Their first came the previous season in what was their final campaign based in Edmonton.
    This photo shows the Cornwall (centre in front) celebrating his winning goal in 2016. I like the zoomed out photos of this moment the best, because they show how crazy the SaskTel Centre crowd was.

Moskaluke performs on Canada in 2017

    Just to show I can take pictures of happenings outside of the sports world, I had to throw in this picture of Jess Moskaluke.
    In this picture, Moskaluke is performing at Diefenbaker Park in Saskatoon on Canada Day of 2017. I guess it wouldn’t be much of an admission to say I love taking pictures of Jess Moskaluke performing in concert.
    I’ve only done that twice in my life. I hope I will have another opportunity to take pictures of her in action in the future.
    She has quite the stage presence, and of course, a fantastic singing voice.

Steel’s all-heart goal celebration for the Pats

    Sam Steel represented everything that was good about the WHL’s Regina Pats.
    The star centre gave his heart and soul to the historic major junior team every time he stepped on the ice.
    This picture was taken on April 17, 2017, and it was of Steel’s celebration in scoring the Pats first goal in a series deciding Game 7 of a second round playoff series against the Swift Current Broncos.      This picture shows Steel was locked into performing heroics with the Pats.
    He finished the night with two goals in a 5-1 Pats victory. The Pats trailed in the series 3-1 before pulling out three straight wins to take the set.
    It still marks the only time in the post-season the Pats have rallied back to win a series in which they trailed 3-1.

Caller versus Loewen

    This at the moment goes down as my best photo from a hockey fight, but the fight actually wasn’t as good as the photo was.
    On Dec. 9, 2017, the Saskatoon Blades hosted the Kamloops Blazers in a WHL regular season game at the SaskTel Centre. At the 11:45 mark of the first period, Blades 18-year-old defenceman Jackson Caller fought Blazers powerhouse 19-year-old left-winger Jermaine Loewen.
    Moments before this fight, Loewen had driven Caller’s defensive partner, Evan Fiala, hard into the boards.
    Caller, who stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 189 pounds, hung in a little bit with Loewen, who stood 6-foot-4 and weighed 221 pounds. Loewen overpowered Caller and won the fight without dispute.
    The fight was one-sided, but an early still made the bout look more competitive than it was. The Blazers took the game 4-1.

Willoughby plays hero for Huskies

    Kaitlin Willoughby had a number of big moments for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team, but one picture I took of her goes down as an all-time classic.
    This photo taken on Jan. 21, 2017 shows Willoughby celebrating her overtime winner that gave the Huskies a 5-4 victory over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in a U Sports regular season game at the ancient Rutherford Rink.
    Willoughby’s tally was a highlight reel one that saw her speed down the left wing in the Thunderbirds zone, cut to the net and snipe the winner top corner past diving Thunderbirds defender Kelly Murray and netminder Amelia Boughn.
    Willoughby, who was in her fourth season with the U of S at the time of this photo, finished as the Huskies second all-time leading scorer with 50 goals and 61 assists for 111 points in 132 regular season games.

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