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Friday, March 24, 2017

VIGR RECAP: PATS 5 HITMEN 2 (REGINA UP 1-0)

 
REGINA - The Regina Pats weathered an early storm from the tenacious Calgary Hitmen and emerged with a 5-2 victory before a soldout Brandt Centre in Game 1 of their WHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

The Hitmen accomplished a goal of keeping it scoreless through the opening period despite being outshot 9-2.  They then opened the scoring at 10:50 of the second when Jake Kryski struck on the powerplay.

Pats fans could be forgiven if they were getting nervous, since their club rarely trailed at that point in a home game all season long.

However Regina's Josh Mahura tied it up on the powerplay at 16:28 and it was 1-1 after 40 minutes.

Pats captain Adam Brooks then led a takeover in third, netting back-to-back even strength goals 2:22 apart early in the frame for a 3-1 lead.

Calgary's Kryski potted his second of the game at 9:04 to make it a one-goal affair again, however late goals by the Pats' Bryan Lockner and Austin Wagner (shorthanded) put the game away.

GAME OVER: Pats 5 Hitmen 2

Regina outshot Calgary 32-22 while going 1/2 on the powerplay and 2/3 killing penalties.

Regina will look to go up 2-0 when they host the Hitmen Saturday at 7:00 pm on 620 CKRM and Access/Shaw.

RP
@rodpedersen

SCRUFFY'S THIS 'N THAT

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

-- The CFL has scored a touchdown! The lead-up to CFL Week may not have been the best, but the CFL has done a tremendous job this week with everything that has been going on over at EVRAZ Place.  It has been fantastic, and as one fan said to me on Thursday while I was touring through Fanfest, they should have this here every year. I don't know if that would happen, but I wouldn't complain, Good job CFL!

I don't know if the fans are enjoying this more or if the players are,  They have conducted many informal interviews with members of the media from across the country who have come. They have had a chance to socialize with one another in an environment where they can relax and not prepare for a game and have some fun they might not otherwise have when visiting Regina.  As for the fans, they are loving it and why wouldn't they.

Gainer is having fun, but does he realize whose neck he is squeezing. Riders chair Wayne Morsky could have him digging holes in Grand Coulee if he doesn't smarten up! Somehow, I don't think Wayne minds. Like everyone else, he's loving what has been happening at Evraz Place.

While the players are enjoying it, Darian Durant may be enduring it.  It doesn't look right seeing him in the colours of the Alouettes and I am sure it is uncomfortable for Durant to be in Regina not wearing green-and-white. You can tell by listening to him that his heart is still in Regina. It will probably be that way until he heads to training camp, and it may never ever leave.  I think the same can be said for Weston Dressler.  He's had his  year away from it, but Darian hasn't.  You have to wonder if at some time those two have spoken about what could have been here,  They arguably could have ended up as the greatest passer-receiver combo in Riders history,

-- Congrats to former U of S Huskies football coach Brian Towriss for getting named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. That didn't take long!

-- Congrats to former Rider Tyron Brackenridge who has joined Marc Trestman's coaching staff in Toronto. I get the feeling Brackenridge could join the likes of guys like Orlando Steinhauer, Barron Miles and Mark Washington as former CFL players who are going to go a long way in this league as a coach.

-- The CFL love gets put on hold tonight as the Regina Pats start what will be hopefully a long playoff road as they take on the Calgary Hitmen to start the WHL playoffs. Playoffs are a different animal, and things can change from shift to shift.  There's no reason to think Regina won't skate to 4 or a 5 game win, but in the playoffs anything, and I mean anything can happen and we all know that!

-- The Portland Winterhawks won 40 games this year and it was only good enough for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. There is going to be some great hockey played across the mountain during these playoffs.

-- The player who delivered a blind side elbow to former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth during an Alberta senior league game leaving him with a concussion was handed a 16 game suspension this week.  I am guessing if this similar incident had occurred in the NHL, the guilty party would have had about 2 or 3 games. Would I be right NHL player safety?

-- Would NHL player safety even consider calling Sidney Crosby? The Penguins captain left Ottawa's Marc Methot with a dangling finger after a two handed slash on Thursday. It was dirty. The slash shattered Methot's finger and he will be out for weeks. Should the NHL suspend Sid? Would the NHL suspend Sid? If it was Chris Neil doing that to Evgeni Malkin or Milan Lucic doing it to Nathan McKinnon, there would be a suspension. Your move NHL! Do you want to open this can of worms or not?

-- Some in Edmonton believe Oilers goalie Cam Talbot is making a late run at being a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.  Is he? He has had a solid year, but he isn't one of the top 3 tenders in the league as far as I am concerned.  That would go to the trio of Bobrovsky, Dubnyk and Holtby.

-- A massive investigation led to the discovery of Tom Brady's Super Bowl winning jersey in Mexico.  The FBI were involved in this.  The FBI? Local law enforcement is left to deal with missing persons and other more serious matters, but damn it when a Super Bowl winning jersey goes missing, the FBI is brought in.  I can't be the only one shaking my head on that one!  By the way, does this enhance Trump's argument to build a wall?

-- The University of Regina's athletic review is out.  That's about all you can really say on it.  Let's just say I weeded through 21 pages expecting more. Did I miss a page or two?  The one thing that did stand out besides a new AD needs to be hired to replace Dick White is Cougar Athletics needs a re-brand. Yes, it does. I hope the U of R even after losing some money in the provincial budget can find the right amount of cash to do a proper job of marketing. I think a limited budget in that area hurts them a lot.  There are good people, and good athletes at the U of R who deserve more than they get.  I am also guessing there are many businesses in our fair city who would like to throw some dollars the U of R's way, but they don't get a call for whatever reason.

-- That's all I got. Enjoy your weekend. Get down to Evraz Place and take in some of CFL Week while catching the Pats in a sports weekend we haven't seen like this around here in a long time.  Maybe even go check out "Hoopla" if you can!

MARKS CFL WEEK DAY 3 RECAP


REGINA - Mark's CFL Week celebrated the future of the game in Saskatchewan on Thursday with a full roster of events for kids and prospects. Homage was paid to the greats of the game, with Warren Moon and the newly-announced Canadian Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 out and about at FanFest, giving fans incredible access to some of the best.


The day began with visits to two local schools: Bo Levi Mitchell and Brad Sinopoli engaged kids in a before-school BOKS session at Ecole Centennial Community School with Randy Chevrier, Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge, and adidas Canada President Michael Rossi. Seven Stones Community School received a Jumpstart donation of new football equipment from Brad and Bo later in the day.


46 talented prospects strutted their stuff in front of scouts at the Western Regional Combine presented by adidas. Every event was full of tough competition, and five players (wide receiver Mitchell Hillis, wide receiver Julan Lynch, wide receiver Alex Morrison, defensive back Adam Laurensse and running back Ante Milanovic-Litre) were invited to display their athletic abilities once again in front of CFL scouts, coaches, and management at the CFL Combine presented by adidas on Friday and Saturday.


Head coaches and GMs from all nine teams took questions from the media on everything from draft preparations to their impressions of Mark's CFL Week at press conferences this afternoon.

Alouettes Head Coach Jacques Chapdelaine called New Mosaic Stadium "phenomenal", but that he "wouldn't expect anything less from the Province of Saskatchewan".  Ticats Head Coach & GM Kent Austin referred to the new stadium as "unbelievable".

All coaches agreed that the biggest challenge facing the CFL currently is to attract new fans, particularly young ones.

Warren Moon meets with reporters on Thursday
Meanwhile three generations of quarterbacking greatness - CFL legend Warren Moon, new Canadian Football Hall of Fame member Anthony Calvillo and Edmonton pivot Mike Reilly - participated in a panel hosted by TSN's Rod Smith on Overcoming Obstacles, Achieving Excellence presented by Athabasca University. Calvillo and several of his fellow Class of 17 cohorts also signed autographs for fans and took part in #MarksCFLWeek Live with Brodie Lawson at CFL FanFest.

Young football fans took place in a fun girl's flag football session and a co-ed session to learn the basics from CFL Players and the Canada Women's National Tackle Football Team. And fans of all ages enjoyed the activations and activites at FanFest and on the sold-out sidelines of the Western Regional Combine presented by adidas.

You Make the Call, an interactive workshop on refereeing with CFL SVP of Football Glen Johnson exploring real on-field CFL scenarios was held Thursday evening in the Fan Cave.

(Photos, recap courtesy CFL PR/Paulo Senra)

CAPS LEAD PJHL FINAL 1-0

Morgan Gallais scored two minutes into overtime to give the Regina Capitals a 5-4 victory over the Saskatoon Quakers in Game 1 of the PJHL championship series Thursday evening in Saskatoon.

Six of the nine goals scored came on the power play in the series lid-lifter.

Brayden Cockwill scored first for the Caps and Cody Hegion followed with a natural hat trick to put the game at a 4-4 tie and pushing it to overtime.

That set the stage for Gallais' heroics in the extra session.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series goes Saturday night at the Al Ritchie in an 8:15 pm faceoff.

(Courtesy Rob Crone)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MARKS CFL WEEK HALL OF FAME GALA PHOTOS


The 2017 Canadian Football Hall of Fame VIP Gala Wednesday evening was the first event ever held in Mosaic Stadium. This year's induction class includes Anthony Calvillo, Geroy Simon, Kelvin Anderson, Mike O'Shea, Stan Schwartz and Brian Towriss.

Here are some photos!



Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge brings greetings from the CFL ..


TSN's Rod Smith served as MC for the evening ..


Chris Jones and Dave Dickenson ..


Don Narcisse, Belton Johnson and Matt Dominguez ..


Gene Makowsky and Narcisse were two of several CFHOF'ers in attendance ..


A group of CFL players including Jon Jennings and Chad Owens ..


Huskies Head Coach Scott Flory and former Rider Chris Best ..


TSN's Gary Lawless and Argonauts President Michael Copeland ..


The Voice of the Calgary Stampeders Mark Stephen and the man he calls "Alberta's most popular politician" ... Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall ..


Mrs. SportsCage (in the black), her friend Celeste, and star CFL QBs Drew Willy, Ricky Ray, Matt Nichols and Mike Reilly ..


Huff and RedBlacks coach Rick Campbell ..


Putting a cap on the night ..


From the Main Stage at Fan Fest, the inaugural Respect Camp sponsored by the Red Cross and Shaw ..


Respect Camp speakers Dan Clark, Bo-Levi Mitchell, Nic Demski, Spencer Moore, Mike Reilly and Rob Bagg ..


And making the rounds on the media circuit, Blue Bombers receiver Weston Dressler ...

GET READY FOR DAY 3!

RP
@rodpedersen

PATS RETURN TO #1 JUST BEFORE PLAYOFFS

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the Week 26 and final edition of the CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2016-17 season.  The weekly rankings of the CHL’s Top-10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.

The Regina Pats have returned to their roost atop the CHL Top 10. Closing out the regular season with eight consecutive victories to stake their claim to the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as WHL Regular Season Champions, the Pats will face the Calgary Hitmen in the opening round of the 2017 WHL Playoffs. Game 1 is scheduled for Friday at the Brandt Centre in Regina.

The Medicine Hat Tigers finish the campaign ranked seventh in the CHL Top 10. The Tigers won eight of their final 10 games to close the regular season and claim the Central Division title. Medicine Hat will take on the defending Ed Chynoweth Cup-champion Brandon Wheat Kings to begin the 2017 WHL Playoffs. Game 1 is scheduled for Friday at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat.

The Everett Silvertips wrap up the season by moving back into the CHL Top 10, landing in ninth. The Silvertips went 6-2-1-1 down the stretch to fend off the Seattle Thunderbirds and earn the U.S. Division title. Everett will face the Victoria Royals to open the 2017 WHL Playoffs. Game 1 is scheduled for Friday at the XFINITY Arena in Everett.

Rounding out WHL representation in the final edition of the CHL Top 10 is the Seattle Thunderbirds with an honourable mention.

CHL Top 10 Rankings – Week 26

1 Regina Pats (52-12-7-1)
2 Erie Otters (50-15-2-1)
3 Saint John Sea Dogs (48-14-5-1)
4 Owen Sound Attack (49-15-2-2)
5 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (48-16-3-1)
6 London Knights (46-15-3-4)
7 Medicine Hat Tigers (51-20-1-0)
8 Charlottetown Islanders (46-18-4-0)
9 Everett Silvertips (44-16-9-3)
10 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (43-18-2-5)
 
Honourable Mention:
Seattle Thunderbirds (46-20-4-2)
Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (43-19-4-2)
Windsor Spitfires (41-19-5-)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

DURANT SPEAKS AT MARKS CFL WEEK

The first photo of Darian Durant in a Montreal uniform at CFL Week
Darian Durant has moved on from a football perspective. Closing the door on 11 years worth of personal memories hasn't been quite so easy.

The veteran quarterback is back in Regina for CFL Week, just over two months after Saskatchewan dealt his rights to Montreal. Not long after, Durant, 34, signed a three-year deal with the Alouettes, officially closing the door on his 11-year tenure with the Roughriders.

"I've had some time, a good amount of time, to wrap my mind around the change and I'm comfortable with it,'' Durant said Wednesday. "It's good being around my new teammates this week and I'm excited.''

What's been tougher, though, has been cleaning out his Regina-based home.

"More than anything, the toughest part is when you look at all the memorabilia,'' he said. "Having to pack all that stuff up and get rid of it is tough.

"This place has meant so much to me over the past 11 years, I've spent almost a third of my life here in Saskatchewan. It's definitely not easy leaving but I am excited about what's ahead.''

Durant appeared in 157 career regular-season games with the Riders, earning Grey Cup rings in 2007 and '13. The first came as a backup but Durant was a key figure in leading Saskatchewan to its convincing 45-23 win over Hamilton at Mosaic Stadium for his second.

Durant amassed a 58-54-1 record in 113 career regular-season starts and stands second in club history in pass attempts (3,519), completions (2,186) and yards (28,136) and third in TD strikes (149). But Durant was also a fan favourite because of his approachable nature and countless hours spent in the community.

"Being somewhere for 11 years is defying the odds in itself,'' he said. ``I am truly thankful for that.

"Being somewhere where football is so special just gave me an appreciation for the career I have ... it's really helped me mature and become a better man and appreciate the things that life has to offer. I'll forever be grateful.''

However, Durant's departure from Regina wasn't without some angst.

In November, Riders head coach/GM Chris Jones publicly referred to Durant as "moderately successful.'' Then when asked about trading the 'face of the franchise,' Jones replied matter of factly. 'Well, we won five ball games last year, with Darian - so that's reality.'

Durant maintains Jones is certainly entitled to his opinion but wishes the situation was handled better.

"After 11 years and all I've done for that team, that community ... I expected or would've liked a simple, 'It's time to part ways.' or something of that nature,'' Durant said. "No doubt, I felt it got personal.

"I just didn't think I deserved that.''

Durant joins a Montreal team that's been looking for a bona fide starter since Anthony Calvillo - currently its quarterbacks coach - retired following the 2013 season. The Alouettes finished tied for second in the East Division last year (7-11) with Hamilton but missed the CFL playoffs after losing the season series with the Tiger-Cats.

Durant should have no shortage of receiving weapons with veteran slotback Nik Lewis (102 catches, 1,136 yards, three TDs), the healthy return of S.J. Green and off-season addition of Ernest Jackson, who scored the game-winning TD in Ottawa's thrilling 39-33 overtime Grey Cup win over Calgary in November.

"Oh my goodness, the pieces are in place in my opinion,'' Durant said. "On paper we look great.

"It's all about staying healthy and putting the work in and developing chemistry. We have some weapons that if we can all put in the work and do what's necessary, we can make a great run.''

After suffering season-ending injuries in 2014 and '15, Durant made 15 starts in 2016, completing 66.5 per cent of his passes for 3,839 yards with 14 TDs and just seven interceptions. For the first time in three years, Durant's off-season is about preparation, not injury rehab.

"I'm stronger than I've ever been, I'm in great shape,'' he said. "I can't wait to get started.''

(Canadian Press)

CALVILLO, SIMON HEADLINE 2017 CFHOF INDUCTION CLASS

2017 CFHOF Class Wednesday night in Regina
They spent their CFL careers on different squads but quarterback Anthony Calvillo and receiver Geroy Simon will now forever be teammates.

The record-setting performers headline a solid 2017 class named for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Simon and Calvillo were both selected in their first years of eligibility Wednesday night at Mosaic Stadium.

`"You look at the history of the CFL and the people that have been inducted and it's a special, special place to be,'' Calvillo said. "Whether it's in your first year, second year or 15th year, to me the most important thing is if you get in, you're in.

"It just speaks volumes to go in with someone like Geroy who mastered his craft, was great for so many years and was so enjoyable to watch.''

Calvillo and Simon will form the Hall of Fame's most prolific passing tandem. Calvillo is pro football's all-time passing leader while Simon remains the top receiver in CFL history.

"A.C. was probably the best quarterback in the league for a long time, it wasn't even close,'' Simon said. "It's pretty amazing when you consider the all-time leading passer and all-time leading receiver are going in at the same time.

"I felt like I had a very good career and pretty much accomplished everything I wanted. But when I got the call, it was totally unexpected and really exciting.''

Also named in the players' category were running back Kelvin Anderson and linebacker Mike O'Shea while Stan Schwartz and Brian Towriss were selected as builders. The six will formally be inducted in Hamilton in mid-September and boost the Hall's membership to 289.

"Every class is special and this is one is exemplary,'' Mark DeNobile, the executive director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement.

Calvillo, 44, played for three clubs (Las Vegas, Hamilton and Montreal) during his illustrious 20-year CFL career. The Los Angeles native retired after the 2013 season with 79,816 passing yards and is the only player in league history to register over 400 TD strikes.

Calvillo led the Alouettes to three Grey Cup titles (2002, 2009, and 2010) and was named the CFL's outstanding player three times (2003, 2008, and 2009). Calvillo is currently Montreal's quarterbacks coach.

Simon, 41, spent 15 CFL seasons with Winnipeg (1999-2000), B.C. (2001-2012) and Saskatchewan (2013). The native of Johnstown, Pa., played for three Grey Cup-winning teams (2006, 2011 with the Lions, 2013 with the Riders) and remains the league's all-time leader in receiving yards (16,352 yards) and catches (1,029) and third in TDs (103).

Simon, currently the Lions' director of Canadian scouting, was proud to be named for induction in Regina. After ending his playing career in 2013, Simon spent a year in the Riders' front office.

"It's pretty cool,'' Simon said. "Even though my time was short in Saskatchewan, I feel like I had a lasting impression on that province, on that organization.

"I get warm feelings every time I touch down in Regina or anywhere in Saskatchewan for that matter.''

Anderson, 45, ran for over 1,000 yards in all eight of his CFL seasons, a league record. He spent his first seven years with Calgary before finishing up with B.C. in 2002.

Anderson was the CFL's top rookie in 1996 and a three-time league all-star. He was a finalist for the outstanding player award in 1998 and 2001.

O'Shea, a 46-year-old native of North Bay, Ont., played 16 CFL seasons with Hamilton and Toronto. He was the league's top rookie in 1993 with the Tiger-Cats and won three Grey Cups with the Argos (1996, '97, '04).

O'Shea's 1,151 career tackles rank first among Canadian-born players in the CFL and second overall. He played 205 games with Toronto, second only to Don Moen (222) in club history and was named the league's top Canadian in 1999.

O'Shea made his CFL coaching debut as Toronto's special-teams co-ordinator in 2010 and helped the Argos win the 2012 Grey Cup. He was hired as Winnipeg's head coach Dec. 4, 2013.

Schwartz, of Medicine Hat., Alta., spent five decades in Canadian football as a coach and administrator. He served as Calgary's president for eight years starting in 1996 and during his tenure the club played in three Grey Cups, winning in 1998 and 2001.

Towriss played defensive tackle for the Saskatchewan Huskies before becoming one of Canadian university football's top coaches at his alma mater. The 60-year-old native of Moose Jaw, Sask., served as the school's head coach from 1984 to 2016, winning three Vanier Cup titles in nine appearances.

Towriss was Canadian university football's coach of the year in 1994. During his tenure, 47 Huskies went on to play in the CFL and another in the NFL.

(Canadian Press)

PROPOSED CFL RULE CHANGES FOR 2017

Glen Johnson Wednesday in Regina
REGINA - The CFL's rules committee wants to limit when coaches can challenge plays to enhance the flow of play and overall fan experience.

A recommendation tabled by the committee Wednesday requests coaches no longer be able to challenge a play following a television commercial. It approved, coaches would have to throw their flag within the first 30 seconds of the break rather than be allowed to wait the entire duration before doing so.

The committee also wants to change what coaches can challenge, limiting what can be contested on roughing-the-passer calls when a quarterback is in the act of throwing or slides head-first across the line of scrimmage. It suggests unnecessary roughness penalties against the passer behind the line of scrimmage, such as facemasking or horse collar tackles, as well as actions that occur when the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage with the ball no longer be challengeable.

In addition, the committee requested the replay official only change a call that was clearly wrong rather than try to officiate plays to ensure they're right.

"What we've done is take three of four things that as a package will make the whole coach's challenge process better,'' said Glen Johnson, the CFL's senior vice-president of football and chairman of the rules committee. "There will be less of them, they'll be shorter, they won't impact the flow of the game.

"When you bundle this all together, it should result in a reduced number of challenges and result in a better flow of the game and better fan experience.''

Johnson said the roughing-the-passer recommendation will further streamline the coaching challenge process.

"They'll only be able to challenge the specific roughing the passer rule,'' he said. "That's when they're in that vulnerable position of passing or about to pass, or have just passed.''

Johnson said limiting the replay official to changing just calls that are obviously wrong is in keeping with the original spirit of the replay format.

"We brought this in to fix big mistakes,'' he said. "We didn't bring it in to try and officiate the game to perfection.''

The committee would also like to retain a rule adopted last year that coaches lose a timeout if they get a challenge wrong.

Another recommendation was increasing a replay officials' duties to correct errors when flags are thrown for:

- a line of scrimmage penalty (offside or procedure)

- an unnecessary roughness penalty following a play and the video official sees other unnecessary roughness infractions

- an illegal contact call on a receiver that should be changed to defensive pass interference because the ball had been thrown

The committee also requested changing all 10-yard illegal low block penalties to 15-yard unnecessary roughness calls. Another recommendation was preventing a kick-return team from putting a player on the field just prior to the snap to hide him so he can receive a lateral pass from the kick returner.

That play would be subject to a 10-yard penalty.


The recommendations must be reviewed by the CFL's competition committee and ultimately approved by the board of governors to become official.

(CP)

PATS, PADDOCK DOMINATE EASTERN AWARD NOMINATIONS

Calgary, AB - The Western Hockey League announced on Wednesday Eastern and Western Conference individual award winners for the 2016-17 WHL season.

All individual conference award winners will be eligible for League awards at the 2017 WHL Awards in Calgary, AB on Wednesday, May 3rd.

2016-17 WHL Conference Award Winners

WHL Player of the Year (Four Broncos Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Player of the Year – Sam Steel (Sherwood Park, AB), Regina Pats
Western Conference Player of the Year – Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, BC), Seattle Thunderbirds

WHL Top Goaltender (Del Wilson Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Top Goaltender – Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, AB), Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference Top Goaltender – Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, AB), Everett Silvertips

WHL Top Defenceman (Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Top Defenceman – Connor Hobbs (Saskatoon, SK), Regina Pats
Western Conference Top Defenceman – Ethan Bear (Ochapowace, SK), Seattle Thunderbirds

WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year – Aleksi Heponiemi (Tampere, Finland), Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference Rookie of the Year – Rudolfs Balcers (Liepaja, Latvia), Kamloops Blazers

WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year (Brad Hornung Trophy)
Eastern Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player – Tyler Steenbergen (Sylvan Lake, AB), Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player – Kevin Davis (Kamloops, BC), Everett Silvertips

WHL Executive of the Year (Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Executive of the Year – John Paddock, Regina Pats
Western Conference Executive of the Year – Bruce Hamilton, Kelowna Rockets

WHL Coach of the Year (Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy)
Eastern Conference Coach of the Year – John Paddock, Regina Pats
Western Conference Coach of the Year – Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks

The following individual and team awards were won during the 2016-17 WHL regular season:

WHL Regular Season Champions, Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
Regina Pats: 72 GP - 52 W – 12 L – 7 OTL – 1 SL – 112 PTS

WHL Top Scorer (Bob Clarke Trophy)
Sam Steel (Sherwood Park, AB), Regina Pats
72 GP – 50 G – 81 A – 131 PTS - +49 – 40 PIM

WHL Plus-Minus Award
Sergey Zborovskiy (Moscow, Russia), Regina Pats
63 GP – 7 G – 33 A – 40 PTS - +72 – 64 PIM

Conference award winners for the WHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Top Official and Business Award will be announced at a later date.

HOOPLA IN REGINA THIS WEEKEND

The ‘Road to Hoopla’ has led 48 teams, representing all 14 of our Athletic Districts, to Regina this weekend. This is a weekend looked forward to by the teams and their schools, as well as the many school sport enthusiasts from across Saskatchewan.

A total of 54 games will occur over the three days leading to 10 different provincial champions. We look forward to the championship – a celebration of the season-long effort by coaches and players, the thrill of the competition, the excitement of the crowds, and the displays of good sportsmanship all of which are significant parts of the HOOPLA experience.

1A BOYS
#1 Middle Lake vs. #4 Lake Lenore
Middle Lake has wins this season over the other three teams but the match up against their next
door neighbour should be interesting especially with both schools having advanced in the 1A
Girls competition as well.
#2 Rocanville vs. #6 Buffalo Narrows
One of these two teams will earn the first ever victory at HOOPLA for their school. Both schools
are making their first trip to the championship. Rocanville head coach, Todd Volk, has led teams
from Moosomin to HOOPLA in the past. The team from Buffalo Narrows (Twin Lakes School)
under the leadership of coach David Wells upset the defending champions from Davidson in
overtime to earn their berth in the championship.

2A BOYS
#1 Saskatoon Ecole Canadienne vs. #4 St. Brieux
This is a rematch of the past two gold medal games in the 2A classification. St. Brieux won in
2015 and Ecole won last year in Moose Jaw.
#2 Maidstone vs. #3 Osler VCA
Osler VCA won a bronze medal last year and has been to HOOPLA for 8 straight year. Maidstone
is making the school’s first appearance in the March showcase. Maidstone defeated VCA in an
earlier meeting this year but VCA seems to be hitting their stride as the playoffs have
progressed.

3A BOYS
#1 Regina Christian vs. #4 Birch Hills
The two teams met the first weekend of March during the ROCK tournament in Regina where
Regina Christian came away with the victory. Birch Hills, last year's silver medallists, struggled
with their shooting in early March but based on the numbers that they have put up the past
couple of weekends it looks like they are righting the ship and should give the Grizzlies a run for
the money.
#2 Saskatoon Legacy vs. #3 Clavet
Legacy leads the season series 3 games to 1 but each game has been closely contested. Both
schools have had much success at HOOPLA in the past. Legacy are the defending champions in
the 3A Boys category.

4A BOYS
#1 Weyburn vs. #12 Saskatoon Bedford Road
This is a rematch of last year's semi final that Weyburn won on their way to a silver medal.
Bedford Road was an unknown going into last weekend where they upset the #4 and #5 seeds
earning their spot in the championship. Jacquie Williams has had the Weyburn Eagles at
HOOPLA each of the past 3 years.
#2 Moose Jaw Peacock vs. #3 Moose Jaw Central
Peacock won the regular season series between the teams but Central won the Moose Jaw city
championship. This should be one of the premiere games of Friday.

5A BOYS
Saskatoon St. Joseph vs. Regina Riffel
Yorkton Regional vs. Regina Campbell
Regina LeBoldus vs. Saskatoon Centennial
North Battleford Comprehensive vs. Saskatoon Bishop Mahoney
LeBoldus is back to defend their championship from last year. The Golden Suns have won the
past four titles. Regina Riffel is the last team to win the championship before the Suns went on
their run. After a middle of the pack regular season finish, Saskatoon St. Joes peaked at the
right time in order to win the Saskatoon city championship. This classification should build into
some great match ups on Saturday to determine the final provincial placings.

1A GIRLS
#1 Kenaston vs. #4 Lake Lenore
Kenaston is making it a habit to be competing the weekend of HOOPLA. This is the Kodiaks 6
th straight year at HOOPLA. Lake Lenore has lost close games in regional finals each of the last
two years but got over the hump with a convincing win over Southey to qualify for this year’s
tournament.
#2 Asquith vs. #3 Middle Lake
This is a rematch from HOOPLA 2016 semi finals. The Middle Lake Avengers won that game and
then went on to capture their third consecutive HOOPLA championship with a win over Fillmore.
Asquith has finished fourth the past two years but they are another year older and another year
more skilled. Asquith won the only meeting of the year between the two schools. Should be
one of the best girls’ games of Friday.

2A GIRLS
#1 Wynyard vs. #4 Foam Lake
Highway 16 rivals meet for the second time in the 2017 playoffs as Wynyard defeated Foam
Lake in a conference final earlier in the month. The Wynyard Bears have not only been the
dominant team in the 2A classification they have been competitive against the top teams from
all classifications of girls basketball. The Bears have won three of the last four championships
and the year that they didn't (2014) it was a silver medal after a loss to Foam Lake in the final.
#2 Kinistino vs. #3 Shaunavon
Kinistino won a bronze medal last year. The Blues beat the Silhouettes in an earlier match up in
the year so they should be favoured to move into the gold medal game this year. Shaunavon
makes a return to HOOPLA under coach Tim Miller. Miller has had HOOPLA success in the past
coaching both boys and girls teams from Shaunavon.

3A GIRLS
#1 Lumsden vs. #4 Saskatoon Christian
Saskatoon Christian has had much success in the Saskatoon Championship league this year
while Lumsden has been dominating their opposition most of the season in a schedule that
competes with many of the top programs in the province.
#2 Regina Christian vs. #3 Indian Head
A rematch from the conference final two weeks ago that Regina Christian won 69-45. This is the
6th straight appearance at HOOPLA for coach Dave Clark and Indian Head Broncs.

4A GIRLS
#1 Melfort vs. #4 Weyburn
Melfort has been the consensus #1 all year long in the classification with only one loss in their
classification. Weyburn returns to HOOPLA after a silver medal performance last year.
#2 North Battleford vs. #3 Moose Jaw Peacock
Both teams were at HOOPLA last year. The Toilers are the 3 time defending champions but they
are the underdog in what should be a great game. North Battleford is the only 4A team to beat
Melfort this year having split the season series. The Toilers and the Vikings has met two other
times this year with North Battleford coming out on top both times.

5A GIRLS
Saskatoon Holy Cross vs. Regina Miller
Estevan vs. Regina Riffel
Regina Campbell vs. Saskatoon Tommy Douglas
Prince Albert Carlton vs. Saskatoon Centennial
Holy Cross has been in the championship game for 7 straight years but word has it that this is
the best team that Coach Hundseth has brought to the championship tournament. Saskatoon
Tommy Douglas has had some success this year against Campbell but will being at home be the
difference for the Tartans. PA Carlton has been dominant outside of Regina and Saskatoon.
They will be a good test for any team that they match up against this weekend. Coach Jessie
Smoliak from Estevan was part of the Fillmore dynasty in the early 2000’s so she has plenty of
HOOPLA experience to draw on. Her team had a come from behind victory over Notre Dame in
the regional semi-final in order to advance.

MARKS CFL WEEK IN FULL SWING

CFL.ca's Brodie Lawson chats with CFL QB stars on Facebook Live
 MARKS CFL WEEK NOTEBOOK

1 - You could ask anyone who was there, but I think CFL agent Rob Fry said it best on Tuesday when asked his thoughts on the inaugural Marks CFL Week in Regina. "The CFL nailed it," Fry said on CKRM's SportsCage from Fan Fest.

Indeed, they have. Close to 60 CFL stars, staff from all nine CFL teams and thousands of CFL fans have descended upon the Queen City for this ground-breaking event.

It's immense, and incredibly impressive in its magnitude.

2 - Of course, the CFL has been conducting an event similar to this for years in Toronto but 2017 is the first year the League has taken this show on the road and opened its doors to fans. Many were leery of what to expect - which is understandable because it's the first of its kind - but just a few hours into Tuesday's Media Day, we knew this event was going to be a homerun.

3 - CFL staffers had hinted that this would have a mini-Grey Cup feel but in a way, it's better. I'm not sure even the Grey Cup itself would pull together this many of the league's biggest stars, and make them so accessible. If you're a fan of Canadian football and want to discuss it with the likes of Bo-Levi Mitchell, Mike Reilly or even Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge, this is where you want to be.

4 - So many people wondered what this was all going to be about, but now after seeing coverage on TSN and listening on 620 CKRM's SportsCage, even more fans are clamouring to get here before the week is over. As is the CFL's "all-inclusive" nature, they'll make room for you.

5 - Undoubtedly the busiest man is Commisioner Orridge, and I bumped into him at breakfast, on our radio show, and later at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar. He's been everywhere, and the week is just getting started. Likely the second-busiest man is TSN's Gary Lawless who's been starting his days at 6:00 am and his head hasn't hit the pillow until after midnight. And again, we're just getting going.

6 - And just like Grey Cup, while the fans are celebrating Canadiana and taking selfies with the players, the league power-brokers are huddled up at a downtown hotel meeting well into the night discussing league business. From what we've learned, the Rules Committee is kicking around ideas to make the flow of games better (like making amendments to the timing of reviews and challenges and tweaking the rules). CFL V.P. of Football Glen Johnson will meet with the media on Wednesday morning for a briefing on the committee's findings.

7 - It's my understanding that Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon will be arriving in Regina on Wednesday evening to participate in Thursday's panel on the Main Stage with TSN's Rod Smith, Anthony Calvillo and Mike Reilly.

Mr. Moon will be on the SportsCage Wednesday at 5:35 pm.

His agent? Leigh Steinberg.

8 - There's media here from all CFL centres and the coverage and exposure generated has equalled an absolute avalanche. It's a buffet of content for reporters, and the winners are the fans who devour our reports. Truthfully, this should tide us all over for a good, long time.

9 - The guy I was most shocked to see was former All Star Rider cornerback Omarr Morgan who unexpectedly jumped onto the SportsCage on Tuesday afternoon. He's at the combine scouting, but didn't mention for whom. Omarr absolutely grilled Kevin Glenn during our segment in Hour 2 of the SportsCage, and it's definitely worth a listen on our podcast at www.sportscage.ca. I felt like turning the entire show over to "O" because he was getting more out of K.G. than I possibly could have, but the quarterback didn't seem to mind.

Morgan was slated for induction into the Plaza of Honor two years ago but was unable to make arrangements to attend. Hopefully that matter is rectified in the near future, because he's definitely worthy. Omarr told us he's been busy running his store in L.A. and coaching his son in football.

He's so great.

10 - The player I enjoyed talking with the most on Tuesday (aside from our own guys)? Winnipeg Blue Bombers safety Taylor Loffler. He's my kind of football player. A throwback. Old School. He sauntered into the media room on Tuesday wearing a ball cap, Wrangler jeans and long blonde hair. But it wasn't a Fabio kind of hairdo ... more like Clay Mathews.

He seemed to feel awkward and out of place in that banquet room. Sort of like ... he only feels at home on the football field or on his ranch just outside Billings, MT.

And lo and behold, after I turned my tape recorder on, I learned the UBC product was born in Regina and considers Regina his hometown! "Pretty much all of my family is still here," Loffler said.

I hope, one day, he wears Green & White before his career is over.

11 - Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was booed loud and lustily when introduced on the QB Club panel with host Brodie Lawson Tuesday at 4:00 pm at Fan Fest. He loved each and every second of it. Sort of like a heel in wrestling.

12 - The Fan Fest doors open daily at 3:00 pm and remain open until 9:00 pm. There's a beer gardens on hand and tons of interactive exhibits. In that way, I'd suggest it beats Grey Cup because last year's event in Toronto didn't offer this much to fans.

13 - Day 2 on Wednesday offers another Media Day with players like Weston Dressler, Derek Dennis, Ernest Jackson, Ricky Ray, J.C. Sherritt and many more. They'll do their TSN video and photo shoots in the Credit Union Eventplex and then get turned loose on the fans.

14 - Tickets for the Regional and National Combines have become very hot commodities but if you weren't quick to snap them up at www.MarksCFLWeek.ca, you're likely out of luck. However there are a few floating around and we'll be giving some away on the SportsCage.

15 - You may or not be surprised to learn the #1 topic - in the circles which I've been in - is Vince Young. The players have been asked about V.Y. in their interviews and the fans are buzzing about him coming to the CFL as well. Unfortunately, he's unable to attend but clearly he's big news.

A football podcast from the United Kingdom called me up on Tuesday and we chatted about Young for a good 20 minutes. The mere addition of Vince Young has made the Roughriders a global topic.

You can listen to the podcast here.

3DownNation.com's Drew Edwards theorized on Tuesday that Vince Young's decision to come to the CFL may influence other former NFL stars like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III to come noth.

16 - There was some concern way back when CFL Week was announced that this event would overshadow Round 1 of the Pats-Hitmen WHL Playoff series. I'm not sure that it has. In fact, there are thousands of people driving by the Brandt Centre ticket office on their way to Banner Hall for CFL Week. That alone should garner plenty of Pats ticket sales if the hockey team promotes it sufficiently.

Regina defenceman Connor Hobbs was on the SportsCage on Tuesday saying the club generally feels no pressure heading into the postseason, other than to continually prove they're the best team in the WHL which they've pretty much done all season long. Hobbs also noted that the Pats are a "mature team" heading into the playoffs unlike the past two years when they achieved the second round but no further.

Hobbs also stated the hockey club's slogan for the playoffs is "Do Your Job".

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*That's all for now -- chat with you Wednesday from Marks CFL Week.

PHOTOS FROM THE TSN SHOOT AND FAN FEST






*Photos courtesy CFL

COUGAR ATHLETICS GETS SCATHING REVIEW

At long last the University or Regina has released its much-anticpated athletic review. The document can be viewed here.

The review, conducted by four individuals, was done to reflect upon and evaluate the direction and performance of the Athletics department over the past decade and provide recommendations that foster progress towards the vision of creating a sustainable organization consistently characterized by excellence academically, competitively, and in the community.

The 21 page document highlights several areas:

-There is a lack of a clear strategy and vision and this has caused frustration among coaches and staff. Due in part to leadership issues, there is poor alignment between the athletic department, senior leadership and important internal university partners.

-The current departmental structure is not fit for purpose or able to keep up with the demands of supporting 16 programs in an effective or sustainable manner.  This calls for the possibility of some programs being eliminated to more effectively use resources to support competitive excellence and fund a structure that is able to support coaches, staff and student athletes for many years to come

- Members of the University community, even if they are not inherently supportive of the varsity sport agenda, are committed to working with Cougar athletics in order to create a more competitive program

- The student population has an apathetic attitude towards Cougar athletics.

Recommendations include:

- Hiring an athletic director which is something the University has not had since the retirement of Dick White

- Developing a new scholarship strategy

- Articulate a mission and an objective for Cougar Athletics with a re-brand of Cougar Athletics occurring after that mission and objective is identified and created

The review states at present, there is no strategic plan for the athletic program and the majority of
people who participated in interviews commented on the lack of vision. This is an area of significant concern that must be addressed before progress can be made.

It closes by saying the University of Regina has an unprecedented opportunity to take steps to set the
stage for success, both on the field of play and off, for years to come. This will require a definitive mission and vision, a “fit for purpose” department structure and the appropriate number of sponsored programs/teams, as well as a commitment to regularly track the progress of the new plan and its alignment to strategic objectives.

The good news is that there is a desire to make changes and support this important program. This extends from the athletes to the President’s Office and the motivation is clear as well as ambitious.

The time is now to take action in order for Cougar Athletics to become an even stronger point of pride for the University of Regina and the city of Regina.

PAT C'S WIN SASK MIDGET AAA CROWN

Regina Pat Canadians are League and Provincial champions for the 2016 – 2017 season, they defeated the Tisdale Trojans in game 3 to sweep the series.  The game score was 4 – 1 on Tuesday evening.

They now play in the Western Regionals in Steinbach, Manitoba next weekend – they will play the Manitoba champion – Winnipeg Wild, the Northern Ontario champion – Thunder Bay Kings and the host team the Eastman Selects.

(Courtesy John Smith)

UofR RAMS FEATURED PROMINENTLY AT CFL WEEK

REGINA, Sask. – A total of 37 University of Regina Rams players will be participating in various segments of the first annual CFL Week to be held this Tuesday through Sunday at Evraz Place in Regina.

The list of participating Rams includes slotback Mitchell Picton and offensive lineman Jeremy Zver, who have both been invited to the CFL Combine to be held on Friday and Saturday. Picton was named a first-team All-Canadian this past season, while Zver started all nine games at left tackle for the Rams in his final season of U SPORTS eligibility.

“I’m very excited that the Rams are heavily ingrained in the first ever CFL Week happening in Regina,” Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. “We are involved in many of the facets of the week, including coaching, players participating in the combine, and volunteers. We’ve reached out to assist in any way possible to help make this week a tremendous success.”

The Rams also have six players in Thursday’s CFL Western Regional Combine, each hoping to gain an invitation to join Picton and Zver in the national combine. Wide receiver Andrew Bennett, offensive lineman Matt Degelman, linebacker Zack McEachern, defensive lineman Bryce McKinnon, defensive back Jeff Propp, and linebacker Michael Stefanovic will all participate on Thursday, while the Rams coaching staff will also get involved – they’ll run the position-specific drills at the regional combine.

Three Rams quarterbacks will also serve as throwers in the combines. Seb Britton, Noah Picton, and Tyler Vieira will all throw at the regional combine on Thursday, while Picton will also throw at the national combine.

CFL Week will also feature the Canada West Passing Showcase, a 7-on-8 non-contact tournament for players completing their first or second seasons of U SPORTS eligibility. On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams will showcase quarterback Seb Britton, running backs Scott Jones, Sam Varao, and Brayden Wagg, and receivers Colton Friesen, Kyle Moortgat, Adam Rask, Ryan Schienbein, Daniel Scraper, Michael Scraper, Josh Tipton, and Tanner Zaharia. The defensive roster features linebackers Aidan Anderson, Brody Dirk, Kaiden Jones, Marcus Kuling, and Alex Rorke along with defensive backs Cord Delinte, Dilan Elgert, Royce Hanna, Polis Koko, Liam Lerat, Braedy Will, and Luke Wilson.

The Rams will play three games on Friday night, taking on Saskatchewan at 4:30 before meeting Manitoba (5:25) and Alberta (7:15). The playoff round for the four-team Canada West Passing Showcase will take place on Saturday morning.

A total of five Rams will also volunteer as guest coaches for CFL Flag Football. Kuling, Rask, Blake Anaka, Eric Eads, and Jack Loisdort will all coach at the clinic, which will be held on Thursday night.

(Courtesy Braden Konschuh/UofR Athletics)