Clark writes from Hockey Canada bubble
|Emily Clark, centre, is at a Hockey Canada bubble training camp.|
That environment could be a more loose bubble. That basically means athletes exist by just community back and forth traveling between home and their athletic facility.
You don’t associate with anyone else outside of that little world.
The tight bubble sees all athletes from a team or league get rounded up and live at a hotel connected to an athletic facility. Those athletes are cut off physically from the rest of the world, and they live in their hotel rooms, a social room with their teammates or at the athletic facility.
Athletes and team officially are usually tested daily for COVID-19 in that setup.
That tight bubble environment is what most people think about of when it comes to a bubble environment. That bubble environment was used successfully by the NHL, NBA and WNBA to successfully complete their post-seasons in 2020.
It was used successfully by the International Ice Hockey Federation to complete the men’s world juniors in Edmonton, Alta., which wrapped up Jan. 5 when the United States blanked Canada 2-0 in the gold medal game.
|An Emily Clark hockey card.|
The national women’s team camp began on Sunday and runs through to Saturday, Jan. 30. A total of 35 players will take part in this camp, while 12 were invited an unable to attend due to school commitments and other reasons.
Sophie Shirley, an alumna of the Saskatoon Stars female under-18 AAA team, was one of the invites that was unable to attend as the star centre is playing NCAA regular season games with the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
The national para men’s team began camp on Saturday and runs through to Tuesday, Jan. 26. A total of 14 players will take part in skating sessions in that camp, while another 13 players were invited but unable to participate.
Players have to quarantine for three days upon arriving in Calgary, and they are closed to the public and media.
On the women’s side, national team veteran and Stars alumna Emily Clark typed out a post on Hockey Canada’s bubble blog on Tuesday.
In the short piece Clark wrote, the 25-year-old Saskatoon product said she went straight to her room upon arriving at the team hotel. Once she was at her room, she unpacked and waited for her first COVID-19 test and dinner to arrive at her door.
For down moments, she brought a Nintendo Switch game system and books to pass the time.
Clark wrote about all the Zoom meetings she took part in on Monday along with medical check ins. She visited with teammates on FaceTime and wrote it was strange to visit with someone that way, when they are in hotel rooms in the same building.
|An action shot Emily Clark hockey card.|
Clark’s full piece can be found by clicking right here.
In both camps, the players will start on ice sessions by skating in small groups before they grow to the size of full practice groups. In both camps, the full practice groups will see the players split into teams red and white.
The camps will progress to the point where there are red and white intrasquad games.
These tight environment bubble camps Hockey Canada is having for the national women’s team and the national para men’s team won’t likely be the last of their kind.
It is a good bet the tight bubble environment will be used for camps and league and post-season games in the sports world for the foreseeable future to come.
Video shows Badgers at their best
Last weekend, the Badgers looked like the 1980s Edmonton Oilers sweeping the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers at the LaBahr Arena in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers hammed the Gophers 5-0 last Friday and rolled to a 6-3 victory last Saturday.
The Gophers entered the two contests as the top ranked team in NCAA women’s hockey, while the Badgers were ranked number two.
The two-game series was expected to be a hard-fought showdown, but the Badgers proved to be too much improving their overall record to 6-2.
Badgers star centre Sophie Shirley, who is an alumna of the Saskatoon Stars female under-18 AAA team had a goal and an assist in Friday’s win and followed that effort up with a three-assist night in Saturday’s victory.
The 21-year-old has three goals and eight assists appearing in all eight of the Badgers games so far this season.
The Badgers roster also contains Sophie’s younger sister, Grace. Grace, who plays forward, is another Stars alumna.
The Badgers were so impressive in the sweep that the University of Wisconsin athletic department put out a cool one-minute highlight video on their social media feeds. The video can be found below.
Hurricanes suffer small loss in 2019-20, other notes
|Peter Anholt, left, watches over his Hurricanes in Dec. 2015.|
During a virtual AGM that was held on Monday, the Hurricanes announced they lost just $1,030 on the 2019-20 campaign. As one of four community owned teams in the WHL, the Hurricanes present their financial statements at an annual general meeting.
Their financial loss was quite a bit less than the WHL’s other three community owned teams, which are all located in Saskatchewan.
On Sept. 29, 2020, the Swift Current Broncos announced they lost $791,000 on the 2019-20 campaign. On that same day, the Moose Jaw Warriors announced a loss of $391,299 for 2019-20.
On Oct. 7, 2020, the Prince Albert Raiders announced they lost $331,895 on the 2019-20 season. In the Raiders case, they would have easily made money had they hosted their final two home regular season games and from their home playoff dates.
The losses of all four community owned teams were compounded by money they didn’t receive from the Sportsnet television contract for broadcasting CHL games. Sportsnet didn’t have to pay out for games that weren’t played due to the COVID-19 pandemic and from the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament that was cancelled in Kelowna, B.C., that annually determines a CHL champion.
|The Hurricanes celebrate a goal in 2017-18.|
The games will likely be played without fans.
Danica Ferris of Global News reported that Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt said playoffs are planned to be held to crown division champions, but the post-season structure hasn’t been decided upon.
When asked why the league has decided to go ahead with a season that will mean a significant hit to clubs, Anholt said it’s in the best interest of the league’s future.
“You know there’s always the other side of it, if we don’t do it, what’s our league going to look like coming out the back end,” said Anholt. “I think that’s a big, big concern to us.
“So this season is all about development for our players and for our players alone.”
Ferris’s story can be found by clicking right here.
- On Thursday, Jan. 14, Kalli Hiebert, who is a 17-year-old defender with the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA team, committed to join the Fredericton based University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds women’s hockey team in the U Sports ranks for the 2021-22 campaign.
- Last Friday, Boston Buckberger, who is a 17-year-old defenceman with the Saskatoon Blazers under-18 AAA hockey team, announced he has committed to play for the Madison based University of Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team in the NCAA ranks. Buckberger plans to play in the junior A ranks first before joining the Badgers.
- On Monday, offensive lineman Mattland Riley signed with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Roughriders selected Riley in the first round and seventh overall in the 2020 CFL Draft. Riley, who is from Melfort, Sask., played four seasons for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team from 2016-19. Suiting up at left guard, Riley was a second team U Sports all-Canadian all-star in 2018 and a first team U Sports all-Canadian all-star in 2019.
- On Monday, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced the men’s world championships were being pulled out of Belarus following pressure from opposition groups and threatened boycotts by sponsors due to political unrest in that country. The tournament was slated to start on May 21 and was to be co-hosted with Latvia. The IIHF said it will seek a new co-host country or elect to allow Latvia to host the event on its own.
- On Tuesday, Diane Jones-Konihowski, who was a superstar with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s track and field team from 1969 to 1975, was named to the Canada West Hall of Fame. She helped the Huskies win Canada West title in 1970, 1971 and 1975, while capturing 12 individual gold medals. Jones-Konihowski represented Canada at the Olympic Summer Games in 1972 and 1976 and won gold for Canada in the pentathlon at the 1978 Commonwealth Game in Edmonton, Alta.
- The QMJHL is slated to resume its regular season on Friday. The major junior circuit last hit the ice for regular season games on Nov. 29, 2020 and paused after new COVID-19 cases continued to rise in the communities the circuit is based in. The 12 teams in Quebec will play in protected environment bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. The circuit postponed a total of six games involving the six teams in the Maritimes Division slated for Friday and Saturday following meetings with government and health officials in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
- On Wednesday, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) levied sanctions against Basketball Canada after it decided its men’s senior national team would not to attend a FIBA AmeriCup qualifier this past November on the advice of medical experts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada was to play two games in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Canada could lose a point in the FIBA AmeriCup standings and is slated to be fined between $80,000 to $160,000 in Swiss Francs, which worked out to $113,988 to $227,997 in Canadian funds. If Canada plays the final stage of the FIBA AmeriCup qualifier set for Feb. 18 to 22 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Canada won’t lose a point in the standings and only be fined the lesser amount. CBC did a detailed story about this situation, and that piece can be found right here.
- Happy birthday shout outs for Thursday go to Jordan Kulbida, who is a forward with the University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team and a pitcher for the Saskatoon G-Force women’s softball team, and Kirby Dach, who is an alumnus of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades and a centre with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
- On Thursday afternoon, the Manitoba Under-18 AAA Hockey League went public with a letter to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to reopen sports facilities and let games resume in the midst of that province’s COVID-19 restrictions. The open letter cited fears about the mental health challenges young player face due to being isolated and not playing sports. The letter is sure to be controversial. People from the sports community have chimed in agreeing with it in initial reactions. Others have chimed in accusing this being the work of selfish parents that want to live their lives through their children and jeopardize public health in the process. Just want to note that I am just passing on the message. The letter can be found right here.
- On the fun side of things, I’ve been reintroduced to the WWE Universe thanks to the kick butt storyline involving Alexa Bliss, Bray Wyatt, who goes by his alter-ego persona “The Fiend,” and Randy Orton that has gone on for the last seven months. I was checking out various social media accounts from WWE talent and marveled at home many “Millions and Millions” of followers they have. A veteran line John Cena has 12.7-million followers on Twitter and 14.7 million followers on Instagram. Charlotte Flair has 1.8-million followers on Twitter and 4.3-million followers on Instagram. There are fan accounts of these WWE superstars that have tens of thousands of followers. Two really good ones follow Bliss. The @Era_Of_Bliss account on Twitter has over 20,000 followers and the @alexa_bliss_wwe._ account has over 59,000 followers. The fans also make tribute music videos of the WWE Superstars they follow and post them on Youtube. A lot of them are quite good. I came to a new realization just how big the WWE Universe actually is and how many people follow. I am also impressed with the passion of the ultra-passionate fans.
- On Monday, I watched Monday Night RAW from beginning to end live just for the second time in the last three years. The main aim was to check out Alexa Bliss and what would happen next with her new evil persona character, and that didn’t disappoint. She was so good. The other part of the show I got a kick out of was duo of The Miz and John Morrison. They made fun of Goldberg and WWE Champion Drew McIntyre on their interview show “The Dirt Sheet” having Gillberg and mini Drew McIntyre appear on the show. The whole segment is hilarious. The Miz and Morrison are outstanding in the comedy department.
- Sticking with the WWE, after Alexa Bliss hit Randy Orton with the “fireball shot heard round the world” on the Jan. 11 edition of Monday Night RAW, the WWE put out a top 10 video of “Superstars throwing fire” this past Sunday. The Bliss fireball topped the list. The fireball stunt is a dangerous one, and most of the videos in the list are from the 1980s and 1990s. That shows the WWE doesn’t bring it back very much. One of the videos on the top 10 list featured Sabu from the ECW days. One I forgot about that made the list was Hulk Hogan taking a fireball shot from Yokozuna’s photographer at King of the Ring in 1993. Yokozuna proceeded to win the WWE title after that fireball shot. The top 10 fireball shot video can be found by clicking right here.
- In checking out the WWE, I noticed their creative team is great at weaving a glimpse of the personal lives of the company’s talent away from the camera and the show’s storylines. One was a video from October of 2020 of Alexa Bliss, whose real name is Lexi Kaufman, visiting with her mom, Angela Kaufman, who works as a nurse in Florida actively treating COVID-19 patients. The video was one of the few in person meetings the two have had during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can be found by clicking right here.
- The sports community in Saskatchewan is morning the passing of veteran Regina-based sports broadcaster Warren Woods. Woods passed away on Wednesday at age 66 due to complications battling COVID-19. Woods was a mainstay on Regina’s version of Sportsline, which air on STV that later became Global Regina. He then moved from Global Regina to work the radio waves with CJME. He was involved with many sports communities with the strongest ties going to the curling community and the University of Regina Rams football team. All-time great Regina Leader-Post sports columnist Rob Vanstone typed a heartfelt farewell piece on “Woodsy,” which can be found right here.
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