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Thursday, January 18, 2018

COORS LIGHT RECAP: PATS 4 RAIDERS 3

PRINCE ALBERT - The Regina Pats picked up a third straight win on Wednesday night, 4-3 in Prince Albert over the Raiders.

The Raiders led 1-0 after a powerplay goal five minutes into the first, but Jake Leschyshyn would tie it up with his 15th of the year and it was 1-1 after one.

In the second, the Raiders made it 2-1 off the stick of Curtis Miske, but 25 seconds later Matt Bradley tipped home his 28th and it was 2-2 after 40 minutes.

In the third, the Pats killed off over a minute of 5 on 3 powerplay time for Prince Albert to keep the game tied and then went to a powerplay of their own. Matt Bradley would score his second of the night, 29th of the season, and Regina had their first lead at 3-2.

On another powerplay, Jesse Gabrielle added to the lead with his third of the year and it was a 4-2 game. Prince Albert got one back with less than five minutes left but Regina held on from there for the 4-3 win.

Bradley had the two goals and Cameron Hebig chipped in with two assists to lead the Pats offence. Ryan Kubic did the rest making 34 saves.

The Pats were outshot 37-33, the powerplay was two for four and the penalty kill four for five.

Quick Hits
- Libor Hajek picked up his first point in a Pats uniform.
- Ryan Kubic is 3-0-1-0 in goal since being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades.
- The Pats are 5-0-0-0 against Prince Albert this season.

What’s Next?
The Pats (24-19-4) are back in action Friday night against the Moose Jaw Warriors at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.Tickets are available at reginapats.com and the Brandt Centre Box office.

(Phil Andrews/ReginaPats.com)

SOBER BOWL CANADA TICKETS ON SALE NOW

NFL cities Houston, Indianapolis and Minneapolis are holding their annual Sober Bowl parties on February 4 and now the popular event is coming to Canada!

The inaugural Sober Bowl Canada party will be held at Tony Roma's Regina on Sunday, February 4 as football fans are invited to a family-friendly, alcohol-free event to watch the NFL's Big Game.

It's your chance to mingle with CFL personalities, enjoy a nacho and chili bar and win great prizes!

Tickets are advance sale only, and are $30 for adults and $20 for kids.

For ticket info or to purchase, email pedersenrecovery@aol.com.

7 TO WATCH AFTER SJHL/MJHL SHOWCASE

By: Mike Stackhouse

The first ever SJHL/MJHL Showcase was held this week in Regina, at the Cooperators Centre and, hopefully, it further enhanced the positions of players who are being looked at for potential NCAA commitments.

The format saw each league ice a team of players born 1999 and later as well as two teams of players born in 1997 and 1998.

In the six games, the SJHL managed to win five (one in overtime).  However, the majority of the games were quite competitive and the result could have gone the other way if not for a few bad minutes or a fortunate bounce at the most inopportune time.

SJHL President Bill Chow says this event will take place again next year and the intent is for it to be re-evaluated after three years.

Having watched all six games, here is a list of seven players who may have seen their stock rise after their performances in the two games played.  Keep in mind this is only one person’s opinion and I am not a pro scout. 

1-Josh McDougall, NIpawin Hawks
McDougall appears to be a heavy favorite to win the SJHL Top Defenseman Award, maybe even the SJHL Most Valuable Player. He controls games from the blueline and while he didn’t put up any eye popping displays of offense this week, what he did show those in attendance is that he’s underrated in the areas that do not show up on the scoresheet.  McDougall already has a scholarship to Mercyhurst, but there are whispers of an NHL future here. 

2-Chance Longjohn, Notre Dame Hounds
Longjohn had the week’s single best performance by virtue of his two goals and three points on Monday night; however he was a threat far beyond the numbers.  Longjohn has a well earned reputation as a quality person as and he’d be a fine addition to any post secondary line-up in that he can play the game as a depth player, capable of moving in to a more prominent role quite quickly.

3-Chrystopher Collin, Flin Flon Bombers
Collin’s release is already at an elite level despite being a first year junior.  He’s building an impressive resume with his gold medal from the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge and his two-goal effort on Monday.  He doesn’t need to improve a great deal to be considered a player that has a pro shot.  That’s his ticket.

4-Tim Gould, Notre Dame
Gould is a 2000 born defenseman, so he’s a year younger than most Junior ‘A’ rookies.  He also completed his academic schooling in eleven years, not the usual twelve.  His off-ice maturity is already beyond what you would expect and his on-ice acumen is up there too.  He still needs to fill out his physical frame, but he was the only player to drop the mitts over the course of two days, showing his intensity.  He did so, despite nursing a serious gash on his eye (result of a high stick from Saturday).

5-Logan Schatz, Humboldt
Schatz has tremendous gifts offensively.  He also is a very likeable young man and has not been shy about volunteering his personal time while in Humboldt.  His academics are strong and he has improved the defensive side of his game in his 20-year-old season.  Tuesday night’s game, he was dangerous every time he stepped on the ice.  He could be in for a monster finish to the regular season.

6-Brenden Newton, Flin Flon
No player is more valuable to his team’s fortunes than Newton.  The Bombers have an overall record that is 4-games under .500; but Newton is 4-games over .500 on his personal ledger.  He stoned MJHL shooters with a number of acrobatic saves on Tuesday before the players in front of him went for a nap with seven minutes to go, damaging the final stat line.  He has the potential to steal a series all by himself come playoff time.

7-Michael McChesney, Estevan 
McChesney was the only player to score more than two goals this week, finishing with a pair on Monday and another one on Tuesday.  There is no questioning his offensive abilities.  He has a natural nose for the net and the fact that he’s American should, hopefully, further open the eyes of NCAA scouts in attendance.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

FORMER ARGO COACH ONE WIN AWAY

When interviewing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Scott Milanovich was asked why he'd want to give up the Toronto Argonauts' head-coaching job to become the NFL club's quarterback coach.

The answer was simple: To win a Super Bowl.

Milanovich and the upstart Jaguars find themselves one win away from the NFL title game. On Sunday, they visit the five-time champion New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

"I always knew I wanted to be a coach and that (winning Super Bowl) is something I've always dreamed of,'' Milanovich said during a telephone interview this week. "Hopefully it can happen in a few weeks but there's still plenty to do.''

New England is an 8.5-point favourite despite Jacksonville's 45-42 divisional round shootout win over Pittsburgh last weekend. Then again, the Steelers were seven-point favourites despite having lost 30-9 to the Jaguars in October.

"You kind of (let yourself think about being close to Super Bowl) but not really,'' Milanovich said. "You get it ... but you're in such a grind the whole time, it's just one step after another.

"You go to Pittsburgh, beat them, come back and then you've got Tom Brady so you don't really have much time to think about it. But you can feel it around this city.''

Milanovich, 44, resigned as Argos coach late last January to join the Jaguars. He left just three days after GM Jim Barker was fired.

Barker hired Milanovich in December 2011 and gave the Butler, Pa., native his first CFL head-coaching job. Milanovich was the CFL's coach of the year in 2012 after leading the Argos to a Grey Cup win but they missed the playoffs in 2016, finishing last in the East Division with a 5-13 record.

"There was uncertainty there with regards to the GM and a lot of things,'' Milanovich said. "This was a very good job and while my daughters might argue, it wasn't a major move for the family.

"I just felt like when the call came ... it was time to give this a shot. It was almost like the perfect storm, I guess.''

That's because Milanovich was hired despite knowing only player-personnel director Chris Polian within the Jaguars organization. Even then, Milanovich met Polian while he was the Indianapolis Colts GM (2009-11).

Tom Coughlin, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowls as their head coach, returned to Jacksonville as executive vice-president of football operations. Head coach Doug Marrone was also hired Milanovich became quarterback coach after Nathaniel Hackett was promoted to offensive co-ordinator.

Despite those changes, Jacksonville returns to the AFC championship for the first tine since '99 when Coughlin was head coach.

Milanovich said his departure from Toronto, where he compiled a 43-47 record, was very amicable and he remains good friends with many people still with the organization and across the CFL. He followed both his former club and league when he could this year, texting Argos president Michael Copeland before the team's stunning 27-24 Grey Cup victory over the Calgary Stampeders.

"I had a great time there and am very thankful for opportunity I was given,'' Milanovich said. "Sometimes things can get sticky and I'm glad it worked out for everybody.''

Toronto hired Jim Popp as GM and Marc Trestman as head coach - Milanovich worked with both as part of Trestman's coaching staff in Montreal, winning two Grey Cups there. With Trestman and veteran quarterback Ricky Ray leading the way, the Argos claimed their first CFL championship since '12.

Ray, 38, enjoyed a resurgence under Trestman. Limited to just 12 games over two injury-plagued campaigns, Ray made 17 starts and registered his first 5,000-yard passing season since '08 in leading Toronto (9-9) atop the East Division and being named the conference MVP.

Ray's currently pondering his future following a record fourth Grey Cup win as a CFL starter.

"I'm so happy for Ricky,'' Milanovich said. "The only question I had about Ricky was he'd had such a hard time staying healthy the last several years.

"Ricky Ray is as accurate a quarterback as there is at any level. It was great to see him get that record.''

It's also been a rejuvenation this season for Jacksonville's Blake Bortles. Once ranked among the NFL's worst quarterbacks, the 2014 third overall pick elevated his game dramatically this year, registering career bests in fewest interceptions (13) and passing percentage (60.2 ).

With an improved Bortles under centre, the NFL's best rushing attack and second-ranked defence, Jacksonville won the AFC South with a 10-6 record after finishing 3-13 last year. Instead of having to carry the Jaguars, Bortles' responsibility has been executing the gameplan and playing smart.

"Running the ball on first and second down simplifies to some degree what you're going to see and get regarding matchups,'' Milanovich said. "If they're going to load up the box against you, that means there's less people in the secondary to defend.

"To me, it really simplifies what you're able to do as far as taking shots down the field, being aggressive and able to get one-on-ones. Blake's good at play action, he's a good ball faker, he's good under centre so all of those things really fit into his skillset right now.''

Bortles has completed 26-of-49 passes (53 per cent) for 301 yards with two TDs and no interceptions in Jacksonville's two playoff wins. The Jaguars remain the NFL's post-season rushing leader (319 yards, 4.6-yard average, four TDs) with Bortles standing third overall with 123 yards on 15 carries (8.2-yard average).

"Blake has been great, he's very coachable,'' Milanovich said. "But listen, I'm not taking credit for him.

"Before I even got to work with him he spent a lot of time in California working on his release and it looked nothing like it did when I watched film or saw him for the first time. He deserves much of the credit for working hard and making a more efficient release.''

Milanovich said his CFL head-coaching experience has helped him become a better assistant coach.

"I think I understand what the co-ordinator is going through, I understand to some degree what the head coach is going through,'' he said. "I think I'm in a better position now knowing what I know to support them and do right by them as an assistant.

"When you're the head coach you still have relationships but it's not the same as being in the room with the guys every day and coaching them positionally. To get back to the fundamentals of playing the position I love and just coaching that position, I really enjoy it.''

(Dan Ralph/Canadian Press)

PATS ANNOUNCE MEMORIAL CUP TICKET PRICING

The Regina Pats 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup Host Organizing Committee, together with the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), is pleased to announce that ticket packages for the 100th anniversary Mastercard Memorial Cup championship will be made available for sale to Regina Pats season-ticket holders January 18, 2018.

“We’re thrilled to announce this ticket offering,” says Shaun Semple, President and CEO of the Brandt Group of Companies and chair of the Host Organizing Committee. “Our plans for the Memorial Cup event will make the 100th anniversary edition unique in the history of the championship and we’re very proud that it all happens right here in Regina; Canada’s hockey capital!”

Ticket packages for the ten-day event will include eight guaranteed games (plus a tie-breaker if needed), with season-ticket holder pricing set at $695.00 for Centennial-level seating and $645.00 for Festival-level seating. Regina Pats season-ticket holders will also enjoy an exclusive ticket presale opportunity from January 18-26.  Season Ticket holders are not guaranteed their current seat but the Host Committee in conjunction with the Regina Pats will do all they can to limit seat relocation.

Season ticket holders will be able to purchase their tickets by can logging in to their season ticket AccountManager at www.reginapats.com/accountmanager. Clients can login to their account and purchase tournament packages by clicking the ‘New Invoice’ link in the section labeled ‘Memorial Cup Tournament PKG’. This links to the package available and the payment options which include a payment plan extending to April 15, 2018.

Following presale, tickets will be released to the general public on January 30. Non-season-ticket holders interested in reserving ticket packages can do so at www.mastercardmemorialcup.ca, starting January 19th.  A four-installment payment plan will be available to all ticket package purchasers. Brandt Centre suite holders will have the opportunity to reserve their suites by contacting Evraz Place.

There will be numerous additional entertainment opportunities for fans to enjoy at this unique hockey event.

The Centennial Celebration Zone, located in the EventPlex at Evraz Place, will be open daily in conjunction with Memorial Cup game times and will feature full food and beverage services. Daily entertainment will feature bands such as Loverboy, Emerald City Band and Emerson Drive, with more acts and venues to be announced in the coming weeks.

The Pats are anticipating strong demand for ticket packages and are urging hockey fans to act quickly to avoid disappointment. Fans planning to attend this 100th anniversary championship can purchase their packages by visiting mastercardmemorialcup.ca, clicking on ‘Tickets’ and following the purchase instructions.

10 THINGS I THINK I THINK FOR SOBER BOWL CANADA

1- WE MADE IT: It's been a bitterly cold winter in Saskatchewan. NEWSFLASH: They all are. But it's going to get up to +3 today and for the time being, the worst is behind is. People in the 306 didn't get as crabby as they normally do during the cold snap so for that, kudos.

2 - EBS: Something struck my while watching the Islanders get past the Canadiens this week; Jordan Eberle has his smile back. The Regina product has 36 points riding shotgun for the real Johnny Hockey and has a shot at the playoffs in New York. All it took was getting out of Edmonton, which almost ruined him. That place is a graveyard for careers.

3 - OLYMPICS: Hockey Canada announced its roster for South Korea last week and unless you're a hardcore Dub nerd, you have no idea who the players are. (Not surprisingly, Tom Renney and Willie Desjardins picked the squad). But I'd watch Canada's games even if they were a team of off-duty mechanics. Go Canada Go!

4 - CLASH OF THE TITANS: The Regina Pats are in Prince Albert Wednesday night but that's just the appetizer for Friday's main course. Because on Friday, Tim Hunter's Moose Jaw Warriors come into Regina which will evoke memories of our Pack The Dome Nights from the 80's and 90's. Moose Jaw is the #2 team in the nation but are a lot more demure than they were last year at this time, which is right around the time the Pats swept them in a home-and-home series. The Tribe was never the same again. I'll be calling Friday's game on Access/Shaw TV province-wide, and am already losing sleep over it!

5 - ALUMNI CLASH: I'd planned on heading back to Phoenix the week of the Pats Homecoming (Riderville Arizona is Feb. 22) but after the list of NHL Alumni was published, I don't see how I can. It's a Who's Who including Wendel Clark, Darryl and Brian Sutter, Barret Jackman, Robyn Regehr, Tiger Williams and an impressive roster of others. They'll face off on Feb. 17 in the Brandt Centre. What hockey fan can turn that game down?

6 - SJHL/MJHL SHOWCASE: The All Stars of the SJHL and MJHL were in Regina this week for a two-day showcase for NHL, NCAA and WHL scouts. There were over 60 scouts on hand representing most NHL teams and the Cooperators Arena was packed for the games. Now, Regina just needs an SJHL franchise to play out of the Coop and all will be perfect.

7 - DARIAN: Who was surprised Darian Durant refused Kavis Reed's take-it-or-leave-it offer in Montreal this week? Not me. But now Durant is a free agent with a baby on the way and you have to wonder if his CFL days are done. They shouldn't be but at age 35, his best days are certainly behind him. Anybody who knows Darian knows he's not a #2. But if he wants to keep playing, he's going to have to become one.

8 - STEROIDS: Rider lineman Bruce Campbell was nailed for a positive steroid test and admirably owned up to it (which is rare). But, just like concussions, fans don't care about steroid-use. How is this any different than our beloved WWF in the 80's or MLB in the 90's when we all knew our favourite stars were juiced up? Just entertain us! If you want to destroy your body, that's your business. Pro Choice.

9 - COACHES: Chris Jones told me in Banff that he's hired a receivers coach but was still talking to five candidates for their QB coach position. When he's ready, the Riders will announce their entire staff together. Meanwhile this week in Miami, Danny Barrett was fired as Dolphins RB coach and you have to wonder if D.B. would be interested in a return to Saskatchewan? Can he be a #2? Or #3? We'll find out before long. And oh ya ... why would you ever want to be a coach??!!

10 - SOBER BOWL CANADA: Canada's premiere sober sporting event is coming to Regina to celebrate the NFL's Big Game! It's a fun party for families to watch the NFL championship, mingle with CFL personalities and keep Saskatchewan roads safe on Championship Sunday! Tickets will be going on sale by the end of the week so keep watching for details.

Y'er welcome,
RP
@rodpedersen

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

RIDERS' CAMPBELL SUSPENDED FOR POSITIVE DRUG TEST

TORONTO – Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive lineman Bruce Campbell has been suspended for two games after testing positive for a banned substance (Ibutamoren), under the drug policy of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA).

Players who test positive will face a two-game suspension for a first doping violation, a nine-game suspension for a second violation, a one-year suspension for a third violation, and a lifetime ban for a fourth violation.

Under the policy, a suspended player cannot participate in games. It is up to the Club to determine whether that player can participate in other team activities, such as practices and meetings.

All players will be subject to mandatory drug testing once testing positive and will participate in an assessment and clinical evaluation to determine if they need additional counselling.

The policy mandates a total number of random tests equal to 100% of the players in the CFL.

Random testing is ongoing and is conducted year-round.

Statement from Bruce Campbell:
First, I would like to apologize to the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization and my teammates for putting them in this position. I’d also like to apologize to Rider fans and fans across the league. I take full responsibility for my actions and ensure you it will not happen again. I accept the Canadian Football League decision and will not be appealing the two-game suspension.

ALOUETTES NAME COACHING STAFF

Montreal – The Montreal Alouettes announced the coaching staff for the upcoming season on Tuesday. Paul Dunn (offensive line coach and run game coordinator), Bert Hill (defensive line coach), Jason Tucker (receivers coach), Todd Howard (linebackers coach), André Bolduc (running backs coach) and Billy Parker (defensive backs coach) will be a part of head coach Mike Sherman's coaching staff for the 2018 season. Quality control coaches will be added at a later date.

Dunn worked for the Atlanta Falcons where he coached the offensive line from 2008 to 2013. In 2014, the Philadelphia, PA native held the same position with the Houston Texans. The 57-year-old started his coaching career in the NCAA with the University of Pittsburgh, his alma mater, where he was an offensive lineman from 1978 to 1982. Dunn also worked at Penn State University, Edinboro University, Rutgers University, the University of Maine, the University of Cincinnati, Vanderbilt University, Kansas State University and the University of Kentucky before returning to Pittsburgh. He brings nearly 25 years of experience at the collegiate level, mainly as an offensive line coach.

Hill has more than 30 years of experience in the NCAA and in the NFL. Last season, he coached the defensive line at Texas A&M University. He has also spent 14 years in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions, serving in various roles as an offensive coach, defensive coach, and strength and conditioning coach. He also worked in the NCAA for the Southern Methodist University Mustangs as a defensive line coach for seven seasons. He helped his team play in four Bowl games, developing several players who broke into the NFL, including Taylor Thompson. He also coached the defensive line at Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland, Texas.

Tucker, a former CFL standout receiver earning the Grey Cup MVP in 2003 and elected a CFL All Star in 2004 and 2005, was the Edmonton Eskimos receivers coach in 2009-2010 before joining the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the same position from 2012 to 2014. He then joined the Tennessee Titans as the assistant wide receivers coach in 2015 and 2016.

Howard spent the last three seasons as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive line coach, where he saw his protégés cumulate 44 sacks in 2017, helping the team host a home playoff game for the first time since 2011. Under his guidance, Jamaal Westerman was named the West Division Most Outstanding Canadian. Prior to joining the Bombers, the 52-year-old Bryan, TX native spent two seasons as the Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive line coach, helping the team win the Grey Cup in 2013. He  also coached in the NCAA and NFL, notably with the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his 22 years of coaching experience, he was a defensive assistant with the St. Louis Rams when the team won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Bolduc enters his 17th season as a football coach as he was named running back coach, same position that he held in 2017. The 46 years-old, Alma, QC native joined the Alouettes coaching staff in 2014 occupying many positions since, from assistant offensive coordinator, to receivers coach and special team assistant coach. Bolduc enjoyed a productive CFL career from 1996 to 2001, playing with the Ottawa Rough Riders, Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes. He was the former Head Coach with the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or for five seasons from 2007 to 2011 and also coached the Collège Montmorency, leading the team to its first Bol d'Or game in 2005.

In 2017, Parker was a defensive assistant coach with the Montreal Alouettes and worked closely with the defensive backs.  Under his tutelage, defensive Back Jonathon Mincy earned 54 tackles and two interceptions in only 14 games. Mincy's impressive season allowed him to receive multiple workout opportunities from NFL teams. As a coach, Parker also sent some time in the Football Indoor League and in the Southern Indoor Football League. The 36-year-old played with the Montreal Alouettes from 2009 to 2016. He was an East division all-star in 2013 and was a member of both the 97th Grey Cup and 98th Grey Cup championship team with the Montreal Alouettes.

ALOUETTES RELEASE DARIAN DURANT





MONTREAL -The Montreal Alouettes released veteran quarterback Darian Durant on Monday, the day before he was scheduled to receive a significant bonus.

Durant, 35, was due a $150,000 roster bonus Tuesday.
Durant signed a three-year, $1.25-million deal with Montreal after being acquired from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Montreal posted a CFL-worst 3-15 record last season, missing the playoffs for a third straight season.
Durant threw for 3,233 yards with 15 TDs but also had 16 interceptions.

On Saturday, Montreal signed former NFL starter Josh Freeman to a two-year deal.

When Mike Sherman was hired as Montreal's head coach Dec. 20 he wouldn't commit to Durant, adding the starting job was "up for grabs.''

(CP)