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Sunday, February 7, 2016


Keith Hershmiller Photography
Regina, SK – The Regina Pats (23-22-3-4) beat the Prince George Cougars (31-21-2-1) 5-3 at the Brandt Centre before over 5000 fans on Saturday night.  The win gave the Pats back-to-back weekend home wins to solidy their hold on a playoff spot with just over a month to go in the regular season.

Game Story
The only meeting of the season between the Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars was a physical affair, evidenced by 45 penalties in the game.  In the end, it was the Regina Pats who came out victorious, 5-3.  This is the first time the Pats have won back-to-back games this season.

The contest marked the return of Jesse Gabrielle to the Brandt Centre who was dealt to Prince George in the off-season for Lane Zablocki.  It was Gabrielle who opened the scoring late in the first when he streaked in on the left side beating defenceman James Hilsendager to the net, slipping the puck past Tyler Brown on the stick side..  Regina would get on the board in the second thanks to Sam Steel who found himself at the corner of the Cougars net, beating Prince George’s Nick McBride for the power play goal.  The visitors would add two more in the period, which included 12 penalties between the two teams.  Regina would even things up late in the frame when Cole Sanford would notch his 25th of the season.  Before the goal could even be announced, Jared McAmmond beat McBride glove side to tie the game up.

With three and half minutes left in the third, the Pats Rykr Cole broke the deadlock to pull ahead.  Cole Sanford would seal the deal, with an unassisted, empty netter to preserve the victory.  The leading scorer in the WHL, Pats Forward Adam Brooks, added three assists on the night to bring his season points total to 81.

Quick Hits
-Adam Brooks now has points in four straight games (10A)
-Sam Steel has points in three straight games (2G, 2A)
-Jared McAmmond played the 100th game of his career
-26 penalties were handed out in the third period
-Tonight’s attendance 5054

What’s Next?
The Regina Pats get five days off before their next game action when they travel to Prince Albert in a Friday night affair, against the Raiders.  The game will be broadcast live on Access Communications at 7 p.m., and heard on Bennett Dunlop Ford Pats Hockey on 620 CKRM beginning at 6:35 p.m.  This will be the first of three games in four days for the club who will host Brandon on Saturday, then travel to Swift Current for a Family Day matinee.  Saturday’s game sponsor is the Brandt Group of Companies.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.ca, the Brandt Centre Box Office and all Safeway locations throughout Regina.

(Courtesy Mark Rathwell/Regina Pats)

Saturday, February 6, 2016


SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Peyton Manning's last game? Cam Newton's finest moment?

For all the golden tinge the NFL is placing on Super Bowl 50, this one just might come down to how the two star quarterbacks deal with the dynamic defences bent on humbling them.

There can't be a better storyline than a five-time MVP likely to take his final snaps with a championship on the line. Except, perhaps, the league's rising star carrying his franchise to its first NFL title in the face of detractors.

Throw in those defences: Denver's ranks first overall in many statistics and certainly in intimidation, with a pass rush capable of neutralizing any air game; Carolina's makes game-changing plays to the tune of a league-high 39 takeaways and a plus-20 turnover margin.

Add in a pair of coaches at the peak of their NFL careers, a relatively new stadium with nearly all imaginable technology, and a half-century of America's biggest game and the intrigue meter hits the stratosphere.

"If you have any appreciation for the game, and certainly you have watched Super Bowls, played in the Super Bowls, have a sibling that has played in the Super Bowls,'' Manning says, ,"it does make it maybe even more special.''

Some attention-grabbers for Sunday's game at Levi's Stadium:

QUARTERBACKS: Manning has been mum on whether this will be the end of one of the most prolific and entertaining careers in sports history. He's 39, has been plagued by injuries for much of the last five seasons, and, win or lose, has nothing left to prove.

It's his fourth Super Bowl and, although he brings a 1-2 mark into this game, the losses don't detract from his legacy.

"I think it is important to use all of your experience to your advantage,'' Manning says. "I think you can always refer back to prior situations and two-minute drives, or a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. The more experience you have, you can use that to help you.''

Newton doesn't have that background yet. But he was the NFL's most dominant - and sometimes most polarizing - player this season. No one has more fun playing the game than the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, 2011 top overall draft pick and 2015 All-Pro quarterback who threw for 35 touchdowns and ran for 10.

If Manning represents the old guard, Newton - with his celebrations, dabbing and just plain coolness - is the future.

Some media compared Newton to Usain Bolt.

"Really?'' Newton says, entertained by the comparison. "I got the opportunity to meet Usain last year. He was a cool guy. He was like real cool, you know? Like internationally cool. I'm just locally cool, you know?''

Bolt owns a vault full of gold medals. Newton goes for the gold of Super Bowl 50.


DefenceS: Don't for a minute think the defences can't decide this matchup.

Carolina feasts on mistakes, and Denver was a minus-4 in turnover differential, including 31 giveaways. With two All-Pros at linebacker in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and another one with cornerback Josh Norman, the Panthers have playmakers all over. Safety Kurt Coleman tied for the NFC lead with seven interceptions and added two in the playoffs. DT Kawann Short is a disruptive force and had 11 sacks.

That unit struggled in the second half of the divisional-round win over Seattle, but it has a superior offence that scored 500 regular-season points to provide balance.

The most vivid memory of January football this year has to be Denver's full-out assault on Tom Brady. While Newton is far more adept at avoiding the pressure than Brady is, he doesn't have Brady's surgical skills at dissecting a defence.

All-Pro linebacker Von Miller and studs such as LB DeMarcus Ware, CBs Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby - along with a deep line - will provide a formidable obstacle for Newton.


COACHES: Ron Rivera was tagged with the nickname "Riverboat Ron'' years ago. He's not truly a gambling coach, more someone who lets his players do what they do best. Sometimes that means taking chances, such as a reverse to Ted Ginn Jr. that resulted in a 22-yard TD in the NFC championship game.

Rivera has guided Carolina to three straight NFC South crowns, and couldn't be more popular with his players because "he gives us the freedom to be us,'' star tight end Greg Olsen says.

Gary Kubiak was an enlightened choice to take over the Broncos when team boss John Elway decided to release John Fox. He is Elway's former backup and long-time buddy, and he has focused on building a balanced team that isn't overly reliant on Manning.

Like Rivera, Kubiak's players have his back.


SUPER BOWL L: All season, the NFL has celebrated 50 years of the Super Bowl, starting with changing its logo and thankfully dropping the Roman numeral. The 50-yard line on every field was painted gold. Past "Super Bowl Heroes'' were celebrated along with the games they participated in.

The big game has come back to Northern California for the first time in 31 years. Will it live up to the Super billing?

Stay tuned.

(Associated Press)


SASKATOON (CP) - Zack Greer scored seven goals and added two assists as the Saskatchewan Rush beat the Calgary Roughnecks 19-12 on Friday night in National Lacrosse League play.

Ben McIntosh and Robert Church had hat tricks while Curtis Knight and Mark Matthews both struck twice for the Rush (3-1). Jeff Cornwall and Chris Corbeil also scored.

Curtis Dickson scored four goals, with Dane Dobbie adding three more for Calgary (2-3). Wesley Berg and Jeff Shattler had two goals each, with Tyler Digby rounding out the attack.

Aaron Bold made 35 saves for the win in net. Frankie Scigliano took the loss after turning aside 21-of-30 shots in 17:50. Mike Poulin made 18 saves in relief.

Saskatchewan was 5 for 7 on the power play while the Roughnecks scored twice on five opportunities.

Friday, February 5, 2016


Keith Hershmiller Photography
Regina, Saskatchewan – The Regina Pats (22-22-3-4) defeated the Medicine Hat Tigers (20-29-3-1) 5-1 at the Brandt Centre before over 4300 fans on Friday Night.  It was a huge victory for the Queen City Kids as it fattened their lead over Medicine Hat to seven points for the final playoff spot.

Game Story
The Regina Pats got on the board early and often in the first as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Medicine Hat scored one late on the power play.  The Regina goals came from Sean Richards, Austin Wagner and Lane Zablocki to get things started.  The story in the first, however, was Pats Forward Adam Brooks who notched three assists to bring his season point total to 77.  In doing so, Brooks took over the league lead in scoring.  He currently sits one point up on the Moose Jaw Warriors, and former Pat, Dryden Hunt in the scoring race.

Regina would add one in the second from Sam Steel and an empty netter late in the third from Sergey Zborovskiy.  With the win the Pats move seven points up on Medicine, sweeping the season series 4-0.  Regina Pats Goalie Tyler Brown turned away 41 shots en route to the victory.

Quick Hits
-The Pats are back to .500 on the season.
-Adam Brooks leads the WHL in scoring with 77 points.
-Jared McAmmond played the 99th game of his WHL career.
-Tonight’s attendance 4713

What’s Next?
The Pats are back in action on home-ice tomorrow night at 7 p.m. when they host the Prince George Cougars.  The puck drops at 7 p.m.  The game sponsor is Home Depot who will be giving away toques before the game.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.ca, the Brandt Centre Box Office and Safeway locations throughout Regina.

(Courtesy Mark Rathwell/Regina Pats)


WINNIPEG -- Kyle Walters expects to be busy Tuesday.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM said he'll be active when CFL free agency begins at noon ET. Walters restructured a number of contracts with his current players in December to free up money for the free-agent period.

"Yeah, we've got some plans,'' Walters said in a telephone interview Friday. "It's interesting when you go through your salary cap and budget and then have Plan A, which is spend this quantity of money and target this player or this player.

"The interesting thing becomes when they don't pick you and you're left with that money and then you move to the next list. We'll definitely be active. It's just a matter of just how far down the list do you go?''

Walters' hope is to land playmakers for quarterback Drew Willy and new offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice. As of Friday, more than 140 players were scheduled to hit the open market, including Canadian running backs Andrew Harris - a Winnipeg native - and Jerome Messam as well as receivers Shamawd Chambers, a native of Markham, Ont., who was the top Canadian in Edmonton's Grey Cup win over Ottawa, Chad Owens and Jeff Fuller.

"We need our offence to be more productive,'' Walters said. "I thought our defence near the last half of the year was a solid, middle-of-the-pack defence, they were just on the field too much.

"I think the trend will be, certainly in our organization, to spending your money on offence.''

Winnipeg (5-13) missed the playoffs last year for the fourth straight season. And with Walters and head coach Mike O'Shea in the final year of their deals, there's a sense of urgency to fix that immediately.

"Every year is obviously important but you can't hide the fact in our line of work when you're not winning jobs are lost,'' Walters said. "That's a reality we really don't need to talk about but it's understood and that's just what you sign up for.''

Winnipeg was 3-3 last year before losing Willy to a season-ending knee injury. Robert Marve and Brian Brohm both started games after Willy was hurt before veteran Matt Nichols was acquired from Edmonton in September.

Nichols finished 149-of-248 passing (60.1 per cent) for 1,757 yards with 10 TDs and seven interceptions with Winnipeg before re-signing last month rather than become a free agent.

Last season, Winnipeg was last in scoring (19.6 points per game) and net offence (291 yards) and second-last in passing (231.4 yards). The Bombers also didn't have either a 1,000-yard receiver or rusher in 2015 but signed Weston Dresser, a five-time 1,000-yard receiver, after he was released by Saskatchewan.

Harris (1,039 yards) and Messam (1,006) were two of the CFL's three 1,000-yard rushers and Walters expects both will draw free-agent interest.

"Anytime a quality Canadian starter is a free agent, they'll get a lot of attention across our league, for sure,'' Walters said.

But like all CFL GMs, Walters has financial guidelines to stick to, namely the CFL's $5.1-million salary cap, up $50,000 from last year.

"I think the belief that everybody is going to get this financial windfall is just unrealistic,'' Walters said. "And that ($50,000 cap increase) is gone because I guarantee you the returning players' salaries have all bumped up way more than $50,000.''

Walters believes an abundance of players testing free agency is the new norm in the CFL with the advent of one-year contracts and elimination of the option year for veterans. The biggest advantage of a short-term deal is a player coming off a big years can cash in and Walters said top-end performers will always command top dollar.

Trouble is, that leaves less for mid-level performers gambling on hitting it big in free agency. And Walters predicts the CFL's economic landscape will keep GMs up at night.

"I think you're going to see some very difficult decisions over the next couple of months when it comes to veteran CFL players,'' Walters said. "If they're making good salaries and even if they're productive players, there's going to be many cap hits in our league moreso than in years past.

"I think it will take a year or two to sort itself out.''

(Canadian Press)


TORONTO - The Toronto Argonauts re-signed offensive lineman Wayne Smith and defensive back Jermaine Gabriel, both Canadians, to contract extensions Friday.

Smith's deal is for two seasons while Gabriel is under contract through to the '18 campaign. Both players were scheduled to become free agents Tuesday.

"Jermaine is a young player who is at the prime of his career and we think it's time for him to establish himself as a leader in our locker room and the best safety in the league,'' Argos GM Jim Barker said. "He is a proud Toronto native who is an active member in our community and we look forward to seeing him continue his career here.''

The five-foot, 199-pound Gabriel, a Toronto native, had a career-high 51 defensive tackles and two forced fumbled in 13 regular-season games last season.

"I'm excited to be able to stay in Toronto and play in front of my friends and family, there's nowhere else I would have preferred to be,'' Gabriel said. "I look forward to continuing to build as a player and a role model here, and can't wait to get to training camp to start our journey towards the 104th Grey Cup.''

The six-foot-two, 300-pound Smith, a native of Burlington, Ont., is entering his 12th CFL season and fifth with Toronto.

"Wayne's versatility has made him an invaluable member of our offensive line since he arrived in Toronto,'' Barker said. ``He is a leader in the locker room and a player that has really bought into the Argonauts culture.''

Smith, a two-time Grey Cup champion, has started 40-of-68 games since joining the Argos prior to the 2012 season.

"I'm excited to extend my career with the Toronto Argonauts and couldn't imagine finishing my career anywhere else but here at home in Toronto,'' Smith said. "I can't wait for our new beginning at BMO Field this season.''

(Canadian Press)


Welcome to the usual set of Friday thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, they are in no particular order.

-- Super Bowl 50 is here. On Monday morning, we will either be talking about Peyton Manning's last game being one where he was a winner or Cam Newton winning his first Super Bowl. I would love to see Peyton go out on top, but the Panthers have the better team and should win this game by more than a touchdown, but one just never knows what could happen. If this is Peyton's last game and all indications are it likely is, does a win or loss change his legacy. Yes, it will look better to see two Super Bowl wins on his resume, but with what he has done, does that matter? He is going to the Hall of Fame no matter what. For whatever reason, and I don't know why (maybe I've bought into the white jersey theory), I am taking the Broncos to win this one by a score of 19-16.  Do not take this bet to the bank for any reason!

-- We are now just a few days away from CFL free agency which is great. I wonder when the league will get around to telling us when the draft is and when the schedule will come out. Many are counting down the days to June 1 around here. It doesn't matter if the Riders are 15-3 or 3-15, fans just want their football fix to begin.

-- It looks like Chad Owens is going to go to free agency. Would the Riders be interested in Owens. I can't see it. Chris Jones wants size and Owens doesn't give him that. Besides, he had an Owens type player and he is in Winnipeg now.

-- Ottawa wants the 2017 Grey Cup. Why not? I think a Grey Cup game in Ottawa would be tremendous for the CFL especially if the REDBLACKS continue to be a force in the East.

-- Bret (Hitman) Hart revealed Monday he is battling prostate cancer. I think I speak for many when I say I hope he puts the sharpshooter on and wins this battle. He has been through enough already.

-- It is hard to believe Tuesday night's game between the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets will be the first one Jordan Eberle and Connor McDavid had played together and one has to wonder what numbers Eberle would have if they had playing together from night one!

Would the Oilers be in a different position if both had been healthy all year long? I think the answer is "yes"! There is a lot of talk about whether or not GM Peter Chiarelli will trade Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to get the defenceman they desire. I just can't see Ebs being traded because he is a winger while Nugent-Hopkins is behind both McDavid and Leon Draisiatl on the depth chart. Does Edmonton really want RNH as their third-line center? We will find out before the trade deadline methinks! At the end of the day, I don't see any moves being made, I don't see the Oilers making the playoffs and I don't see them getting a gold card at the lottery.

-- Can you imagine the crowd on Rose Street in downtown Regina if Eberle brought his linemate (and no, not Benoit Pouliot) to the 2016 Sticks on Rose event. That my friends would be a sight to see.

-- As the stretch drive to the playoffs begin, one would have to think Patrick Kane is the odds-on favourite to be named the league's MVP and former Saskatoon Blade Braden Holtby would be named the Vezina Trophy winner, but could Holtby do what Carey Price did last year and win the MVP. I don't see it, but I am guessing a lot of votes will go his way.

-- The NHL got it right with the Dennis Wideman suspension. There is no ifs, buts or maybes about it. The guy cross-checked a linesman from behind and he looks on video to have done it deliberately. You can't have that in the game. See ya Dennis! If you don't give him a long suspension, you are sending the wrong message. I would like to see Wideman just accept his punishment, but he is saying all the things he has to say as he appeals the decision.

-- Interesting comments and a great endorsement from Regina Thunder president Brin Werrett on the Sportscage Wednesday. Werrett was asked if there was any concern on his part of current Thunder coach Scott McAuley going to fill the vacant U of R Rams spot as many have suggested. Werrett said if he were the Rams, that would be the first guy he would be calling as Scott is considered one of the best young coaches in the game. Hmmmmmmm!! Brin also went on to say that if Scott were to leave, which he obviously hopes he doesn't, he thinks there are guys on the current staff who could take over. Werrett also announced Gizmo Williams will be the guest speaker at their sports dinner March 19 and that the team will honor former Rams coach Frank McCrystal and the great Marco Ricci which makes me wonder if Boston Pizza Emerald Park is catering the shindig. Go to reginathunder.ca to get ticket details on what should be a great night at the Turvey Center.

-- Watching Steph Curry play basketball is just a treat. There has been a lot of talk about how Curry's Golden State Warriors would do against Jordan's Chicago Bulls. That would be fun to watch. I know how Curry's Warriors would do against Isiah Thomas' Bad Boys--Detroit Pistons!

-- Speaking of basketball, the Cougar men and women are home for some big games this weekend against Victoria. Tip off both Friday and Saturday night is 6 PM.

-- Before I go, I have to type a few lines about a guy that I gave the moniker of "Mayor of Gronkville". For years, I have been going to High Impact Wrestling and for just about every show I have been at, a guy named Phil Alderson has been there and more oft than not, he had the audacity to wear Zubaz pants. Word came down Thursday morning Phil passed away after suffering a pulmonary embolism at an age way younger than he should have.  It will not be the same at High Impact shows not seeing him around as he would saunter over to take a shot or two, ask about the Riders and the latest in the WWE. The guy loved his Riders and he LOVED his wrestling whether it be the pros or the guys in HIW, or any other promotion that rolled through town,  Those conversations won't be happening anymore. RIP Phil!! Get a front-row seat for those wrestling shows in the sky! Gronkville has lost a huge member of the fraternity!

-- That's all I got. Have a great weekend and enjoy the last football game that matters until late June or early July.