Thursday, 8 June 2017

Agar more than just a power running back for Riot

Carmen Agar (#23) of the Riots gets past Shaylyn de Jong of the Valkyries.
    It might sound cliché, but Carmen Agar of the Regina Riot is like the Energizer Bunny, because she just keeps going and going.
    The 24-year-old power tailback is in her sixth season running mainly in between the tackles for the Riot. In churning out yards in a cloud of dust, Agar absorbs a large share of hits, but she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
    She is consistent too. Whenever the Riot hit a rut moving the ball offensively, they give the ball to #23 and the team always seems to get going again.
    While her ability to run over the opposition is her calling card, Agar is actually a very complete running back. That was seen in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League Prairie Conference championship game on Sunday, when the host Riot downed the defending WWCFL champion Saskatoon Valkyries 34-24 in the last competitive tackle football game ever played at Taylor Field.
Riot RB Carmen Agar (#23) pushes past Nichole LaVallee of the Valkyries.
    Agar carried the ball 13 times for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns along the ground. She also caught four passes for 50 yards to lead the Riot in both of those categories.
    What sometimes can get lost is the fact Agar can take off in the open field, and she has excellent hands catching passes out of the backfield. If the Riot ever needed it, Agar could have the type of game where she gets over 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.
    On top of her abilities to gain yards, Agar can block as well and allow Riot star quarterback Aimee Kowalski to get the ball out to a group of talented receivers.
    Agar played a key role in helping the Riot return to the WWCFL title game for the second time in three years. Regina claimed the WWCFL title in 2015 defeating the Edmonton Storm 53-6 in Winnipeg.
Carmen Agar (#23) throws a block on a running play.
    The Riot, who are 5-1 overall, face the Calgary Rage, who are 4-0 overall, on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in this year’s WWCFL title game at Saskatoon Minor Football Field in Saskatoon. The Valkyries, who are 4-2 overall, take on the Edmonton Storm, who are 2-3 overall, in a consolation final at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday at SMF Field.
    In Sunday’s win over the Valkyries, Agar helped get momentum back on the Riot’s side, when her team needed it the most. After Regina took a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter, Saskatoon stormed back with 13 straight points to cut the host’s edge to 21-16 going into the fourth quarter.
    Early in the fourth quarter, Riot linebacker Artemis Kouropoulou blocked a punt from Valkyries receiver/kicker Carly Dyck near midfield. 
Carmen Agar, middle, scores her second TD in the WWCFL Prairie final.
    Agar went to work churning out yards on the ground and scoring her second major of the game to put the hosts up 28-16. Momentum was back on the Regina’s side, and that surge helped push the Riot to victory.
    On the field, Agar looks to be in the best physical shape she has ever been in, and the 2017 campaign has the potential to be a very memorable one. Besides the chance to help the Riot win a second WWCFL title, Agar will play for Canada at the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship, which runs June 24 to 30 in Langley, B.C., with eight of her Riot teammates.
    Aimee Kowalski, her sister Alex Kowalski, Kouropoulou, Adrienne Zuck, Ashley Viklund, Katie Hungle, Claire Dore and Emilie Belanger will all be on the Canadian team. 
Carmen Agar (#23) celebrates a TD with her teammates.
    Riot head coach Olivier Eddie will be the special teams coordinator and receivers coach for the national team.
    Last year, Agar had a strong showing on the national stage at Football Canada’s in augural Senior Women’s National Championship tournament, which was held in Regina. In the event’s championship game, Agar piled up 137 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored a touchdown to help Team Saskatchewan down Team Quebec 34-22.
    It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Agar turn heads on the international stage later this month.
    Agar keeps on going and keeps getting better. There is no telling how good she may get.

Madden football a preferable house visit from Roughriders

The Roughriders do a cheer after their mock game last Saturday.
    Hmm…. If I had members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders over to my place for a social get together, I think I would prefer a Madden video game football party over dinner.
    Knowing how offensive and defensive lineman can eat, I think having a Madden party would be a wiser social encounter. For football teams at all levels, normally one of the common away from the game bonding experiences is playing Madden football at someone’s house.
    When everyone arrives, everyone throws in money for pizza or takeout. Often, the Madden party is done on the cheat day, when it comes to getting a break from eating healthy.
    So you are liking this baby that came out of the blue?
    I got the inspiration to write that when I received a trio of emails on Monday saying Saskatchewan Roughriders play-by-play voice Rod Pedersen was taking shots at me. I checked his blog post on Monday and got a chuckle over it. I think the “taking shots” idea might have been a little overblown.
    Anyways, Pedersen was responding to a blog post I posted on June 1 regarding familiarity with players on the Roughriders roster. He wrote that he took “umbrage” with a “Who are these guys” comment I wrote.
    There was a mention about getting over the fact that players like Darian Durant, John Chick, Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf are no longer with the team. On a side note, the Roughriders still haven’t played a regular season game since Durant’s rights were traded to the Montreal Alouettes in January.
    Pedersen also didn’t mention my name in his piece.
    He asked if I expected the current Roughriders to show up at my place for dinner.
    That expectation never crossed my mind or was it ever expected, but like late CFL icon Cal Murphy, I don’t mind being the host for a visit. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could match Murphy’s level at being a real good host. I’ve visited Murphy at home, so I would know.
    With that said, my mind began to think about a possible good team bonding activity. I figured a Madden football party would be perfect.
    I remember NFL legend Brett Favre saying jokingly in an interview once there are guys in the pros that likely know their Madden playbooks better than their actual playbooks. The comment reveals how addictive that game can be even for grown men.
    During Madden parties with football teams, I always find guys get into situations where they like to tease each other in a good-natured way or just have overall fun cheering big plays.
    The only downfall is all the versions of Madden I have are older ones. Life kinds of gets in the way of pursuits like playing video games.
    My newest version is Madden 11 for the Playstation 2. 
    I have four versions of Madden for the Sega Genesis including a cartridge of the original Madden football.
My collection of Madden football games.
    If you want to really go down memory lane and see a real blast from the past in video football game history, I could dig out the old Nintendo Entertainment System to play “Tecmo Super Bowl.”
    I could see that developing into situations where guys are using the Los Angeles Raiders to play the Los Angeles Raiders, because everyone knows Bo Jackson is “The Truth” in that game.
    Hey, it would definitely provide a break from Roughriders practices and video study sessions.
    Actually during the regular season, the Roughriders communications department should do a story about who is the best at Madden football on the team. It would make for hilarious video.
    On the dinner front, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with an individual player getting a meal in the lounge of a nice restaurant, where sports is on television. Back in 2011, I had a great impromptu dinner with then Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Lance Frazer at the Earl’s lounge on the east side of Regina the night before that year’s Labour Day Classic.
    We had a great visit and talked about all sorts of subjects. To top things off, the Roughriders won the next day.
    In Saskatoon, Cactus Club Café is a great classy spot to pick up a nice meal. That spot has traditionally been great bring members of the Saskatoon Valkyries women’s football team and the Saskatoon Hilltops Canadian Junior Football League team on as staff, so eating there helps those individuals out too.
    The players I would like to eat out with at the Cactus Club Café with would be receiver Duron Carter or receiver Nic Demski. From Carter, I would love to hear his take on what the interactions between his father, legendary NFL receiver Cris Carter, and colourful late NFL coach Buddy Ryan were actually like.
    As for Demski, he once played for the University of Manitoba Bisons football team, so I would love to hear more comical stories involving Bisons head coach Brian Dobie.
    I have a few stories Murphy told me that I always get pumped to retell to anyone of any walk of life.
    On the serious front, I know how much of a CFL players’ time is eaten away with preparation. Anytime you get a free moment, you dash to spend it with family. If social interactions occur with players, they will develop over time.
    The interactions I’ve had with Roughriders players in the past have all developed over time as part of regular life.
    As far as my “Who are these guys” line goes, that is an old Sun Media tabloid technique reflective of that company’s days before being owned by Postmedia. It was the eye-catching and maybe over the top line to draw a person into the piece. I believe it worked.
    I think I did a good job in that piece painting a picture of that moment in time about a fan’s difficulty in figuring the “who is who” on the Roughriders. That realization hit me the first time I saw the team live at a workout. A few fans in public have come up to me and shared those same comments.
    Of course, you always have people that don’t agree with what you say, and I am all good with it.
    Pedersen’s line with the dinner reference also reflects Sun media-type tabloid writing before that company was purchased by Postmedia.
    When it comes to writing about the Roughriders in his blog, Pedersen will at times have the tone of “us against the world” towards those that write anything that is viewed at taking a shot towards the current team and also fall extremely heavily on the homer side.
An all-time classic video game.
    Hey, a sizable minority of Roughriders fans exist that have an “us against the world” attitude when it comes to following the team if you say anything against the team. To me it is all fun and good.
    There are a number of fans that identify with what Pedersen writes, and I enjoy what he writes. It is all part of the game.
    There are a lot of times when any type of bad comments or press are good business. I know a lot of bosses at big mainstream media companies usually direct employees to ignore individuals that have exited from the mainstream to keep those individuals out of sight and out of mind. That includes individuals that are members of sports Hall of Fames.
    Pedersen’s brief post sent a few readers my way even if my name wasn’t mentioned, so I thank him for that. Plus, it allowed me to have fun writing this part of my post.
    If you want to see my post regarding familiarity of cheering on the Roughriders, you can do so by clicking here.
    If you want to see the part in Pedersen’s post about what I wrote, it is point “number nine” and you find it by clicking here.

Blades prospect Maier off to Hockey Canada goalie camp

    Saskatoon Blades prospect goaltender Nolan Maier will get a chance to ingrain himself on Hockey Canada’s radar.
    The 16-year-old product from Yorkton, Sask., will be one of 30 netminders that will take part on Hockey Canada’s 12th annual Program of Excellence goaltending camp. The camp starts Friday and runs through to Sunday in Calgary.
    Maier, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 160 pounds, will be one of 16 goalies looking to earn a spot at Canada’s national under-17 development camp later on this summer.
    The Blades selected Maier in the second round and 25th overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. As a 15-year-old rookie in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, he had a strong campaign with the Yorkton Rawtec Maulers posting a 13-9 record, a 2.72 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.
    Maier represented Team Saskatchewan at the Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup in October of 2016.
    If Maier can keep improving, he could help the Blades potentially set up one of those more welcome situations for the coming season in goal at the major junior level, where you have an older starting goalie paired with a young apprentice goalie. That would mean pairing Maier with overage netminder Logan Flodell, who named to a WHL Eastern Conference second team all-star last season.
    With that noted, there is always the potential for things to happen between now and when training camp begins typically in the second half of August.
    There are a few goaltenders with WHL experience at the Hockey Canada Camp. Carl Stankowski of the Seattle Thunderbirds is one of seven netminders there at the under-18 level. Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips, Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders and Stuart Skinner of the Lethbridge Hurricanes are part of the group of seven netminders that are at the under-19 level.
    Hart was a member of Canada’s world junior team last season. Hart played in the gold medal game at the last world juniors on Jan. 5 in Montreal, where Canada fell 5-4 after a tiebreaking shootout to the United States.

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