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Sunday, February 1, 2015

PATS 6 HURRICANES 2

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - Austin Wagner scored one of Regina's four second-period goals and added an empty-netter shorthanded as the Pats beat the Hurricanes 6-2 Saturday night.  With the victory, the Pats snapped a 6-game winless skid.

Taylor Cooper, Adam Berg, Patrick D'Amico and Sam Steel rounded out the attack for Regina who moved nine points up on Swift Current for second place in the WHL East and 16 points up on Moose Jaw.  Both the Broncos and Warriors lost on Saturday.

The Pats outshot the Hurricances 48-30 on "Ricky Ryp Night" as Lethbridge paid tribute to former Pats captain Rick Rypien in classy fashion.

Regina goalie Daniel Wapple made 28 saves to collect the win.  The Pats were 1/6 on the powerplay and 3/3 killing penalties.

Pavel Skumatov opened the scoring in the first for Lethbridge (12-31-6) while Brayden Burke added the other.

Regina (27-17-4-2) hosts the Prince Albert Raiders Tuesday at 7:00 pm on 620 CKRM (Press Box Sports Bar Pregame Show at 6:35 pm).

(With files from the Canadian Press)

SUNDAY SPORTS

NFL

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The Super Bowl is almost here. The big game takes place Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, with the defending champion Seahawks facing the Patriots (5:30 pm kickoff Sask time). Seattle is trying to become the first team since New England in 2004 and 2005 to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

A shortage of tickets made available to brokers on the secondary market has driven prices into five figures even for nosebleed seats.

As of midday Saturday the NFL Ticket Exchange, the league's official ticket re-sale website, didn't have tickets for less than $9,000. The cheapest ticket on StubHub was nearly the same. One listing on Craigslist in Phoenix was selling tickets for $8,000 each with the seller willing to meet the buyer at their bank to complete the transaction.

NFL-HALL OF FAME

PHOENIX (AP) - The Pro Football Hall of Fame will have eight new members this summer.

Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Will Shields have been elected to Hall of Fame, along with senior selection Mick Tingelhoff and contributors Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.

Seau was the only first-time eligible candidate to get in this year. He spent 13 of his 20 seasons with San Diego, made six All-Pro teams and was the Defensive Player of the year in 1992.

Bettis began his 13-season career by earning Rookie of the Year honours for the Rams. His 13,662 yards rushing rank fifth in history, and he had eight seasons of at least 1,000.

Brown ranked No. 2 in NFL history with 14,934 yards receiving, No. 3 with 1,094 catches, and No. 3 with 100 touchdown catches when he retired after the 2004 season.

Haley was the first player in NFL history to play on five Super Bowl-winning teams. He finished his career with 100 1/2 sacks and twice was an All-Pro, once at linebacker and once at defensive end.

Shields was a guard for Kansas City from 1993-2006, never missing a game in his 14 seasons. He was a first-team All-Pro three times, a second-team All-Pro four times, and was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

NFL-AWARDS

PHOENIX (AP) - The NFL is held its awards show on the eve of the Super Bowl in Arizona.

The Associated Press MVP is Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 38 touchdowns and a league-low five interceptions for the NFC North champs. Rodgers received 31 votes compared to 13 for Houston's J.J. Watt.

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray captured The AP Offensive Player Of The Year award after leading the league with 1,845 rushing yards, nearly 500 more than any other player. Murray topped the NFL with 2,261 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 touchdowns for the NFC East champs.

Watt is a unanimous selection as the AP's NFL Defensive Player Of The Year. Watt earned his second such honour with 20 1/2 sacks, 78 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 50 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and 10 blocked passes.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. beat out Dallas guard Zack Martin to win the AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Beckham tied Michael Irvin's NFL mark with nine consecutive games of 90 yards receiving and finished with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs.

St. Louis Rams tackle Aaron Donald is The Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year after recording 37 tackles and leading all rookies with nine sacks.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is the AP's Comeback Player Of The Year following his 82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, one year after missing nine games because of knee problems.

Arizona's Bruce Arians is the AP's Coach of the Year for the second time in three years after guiding the Cardinals to an 11-5 record. Arians also won the award in 2012 after stepping in for the ailing Chuck Pagano at Indianapolis.

Todd Bowles is the recipient of the inaugural AP Assistant Coach Of The Year award. Bowles guided Arizona's defence this season before being named head coach of the Jets.

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NHL

The Edmonton Oilers had no answer for Calgary tonight. The Flames scored four straight goals in the third period to beat Edmonton 4-2. Lance Bouma led the charge with two goals. Paul Byron and Sean Monahan had the others. The Oilers held a 2-0 lead going into the third.

Another game, another loss for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Michael Del Zotto scored the only goal Philadelphia needed and Steve Mason stopped all 30 shots as the Flyers edged Toronto 1-0. That's the ninth straight loss for the slumping Maple Leafs, who have scored one goal or less in eight of their last nine games.

John Klingberg was the difference as the Stars topped the Jets. The Dallas defencemen struck twice and added two assists en route to a 5-2 victory in Winnipeg. The Stars scored four goals on the power play, including one of Klingberg's. Jason Spezza, Patrick Eaves and Shawn Horcoff also scored for Dallas.

Earlier in NHL action, the Ottawa Senators dominated Arizona in a 7-2 victory. Marc Methot led the offensive charge with three assists while seven different Sens skaters found the back of the net. And in Montreal, Carey Price stopped 36 shots in his second straight shutout and Max Pacioretty scored in OT as the Habs beat Washington 1-0.

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NBA

The Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to six straight games, but it wasn't easy. Toronto squandered a 17-point lead in the second half but came back for a 120-116 overtime win over the Washington Wizards. Kyle Lowry scored 23 points, Lou Williams had 19, Amir Johnson added 17 and DeMar DeRozan finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Atlanta Hawks just can't lose. Al Horford scored 23 points and Atlanta recovered after squandering a 21-point lead to beat the 76ers 91-85. That stretches their franchise-record winning streak to 19 games. The Hawks led by 21 in the first half but the 76ers stormed back to take their first lead at 83-81 with less than 3 minutes remaining.

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PGA

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Martin Laird has a three-shot lead after three rounds of the PGA's Phoenix Open. He stands 13-under par after a 3-under 68.

Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Zach Johnson are tied for second at minus-10.  Weyburn's Graham DeLaet is tied for seventeenth at 7-under.

(CP/AP)

DRESSLER SIGNS FOUR YEAR EXTENSION


REGINA - Weston Dressler won't be hitting the CFL open market.

The veteran slotback signed a four-year contract extension with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday. Dressler was slated to become a free agent Feb. 10.

That means Saskatchewan will have two of its three biggest names under contract when free agency begins. Earlier this week, the Riders re-signed safety Tyron Brackenridge.

That leaves offensive lineman Ben Heenan, who was expected to not only test the CFL free-agent waters but also listen to offers from south of the border.

The five-foot-seven 179-pound Dressler has spent his entire CFL career with Saskatchewan. He re-signed with the Riders last August after being released by the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.

Dressler, 29, has appeared in 107 career CFL games and is the Riders' third-leading career receiver with 469 catches for 6,856 yards. His 44 receiving touchdowns rank fifth on the franchise's all-time list.

(The Canadian Press)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

SUPER BOWL XLIX MATCH-UPS

Matchups for the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium:

When the Seahawks (14-4) have the ball:

If the Patriots can tame the Beast, they will have a big head start toward a fourth NFL championship since 2001. RB Marshawn Lynch (24) will try to impose his will on a solid but not overwhelming defence led by DT Vince Wilfork (75), DE Rob Ninkovich (50), LBs Jamie Collins (91) and Dont'a Hightower (54). If Lynch is slowed, that leaves the onus for running on QB Russell Wilson (3). While highly capable - he rushed for 849 yards and six TDs in 2014 - Wilson would prefer balance on offence.

When he throws, he must avoid the interceptions that plagued him vs. Green Bay for the NFC title. Not that Wilson was always off-target, with two of his picks being off tips by WR Jermaine Kearse (15). But he was not nearly as precise as usual.

Kearse, who caught the winning TD pass in the past two NFC title matches, was targeted on all four interceptions against the Packers. He'll see plenty of CBs Darrelle Revis (24) and Brandon Browner (39), a Seahawk last season, and could struggle getting open deep. S Devin McCourty (32) also will help in coverage on WR Doug Baldwin (89) and TE Luke Willson (82).

One thing Seattle won't do is lose faith even when things aren't working on offence. And behind an unsung offensive line led by LT Russell Okung (76) and C Max Unger (60), they won't back off, either.

When the Patriots (14-4) have the ball:

Unquestionably the key matchup, as it often is these days when the Patriots are on the field, will be All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski (87) against the legions trying to cover him. However, for Seattle's Legion of Boom, much of the assignment will fall to S Kam Chancellor (31). Chancellor has the size (6-3, 232), speed and tackling skills to somewhat neutralize Gronkowski.

If he can do that, it frees All-Pro S Earl Thomas (29) to help with versatile WR Julian Edelman (11), who mostly will draw All-Pro CB Richard Sherman (25) in coverage. QB Tom Brady (12) is particularly comfortable throwing to Gronk and Edelman, and the Seahawks want to force him to look at others instead.

But even if the coverage is strong, Seattle must get pressure from pass rushers DEs Michael Bennett (72) and Cliff Avril (56) and LBs Bobby Wagner (54), an All-Pro, and Bruce Irvin (51). Brady is most vulnerable - which isn't very vulnerable - when he has to throw before he wants to and can't set his feet.

That means an unheralded offensive line featuring tackles Sebastian Vollmer (76) and Nate Solder (77) needs to be steady.

Green Bay showed the Seahawks can be run on, so RB LeGarrette Blount (29) could wind up being a featured player.

Special Teams:

Although the Seahawks were not great on special teams this season, they were spectacular in beating Green Bay. A fake field goal pass for a TD by holder Jon Ryan (9)-_ one of the NFL's most accurate punters - and an onside kick that kept them alive for the NFC title won't be forgotten in the Pacific Northwest.

Generally, though, New England has the edge here. Coverage is very good on punt and kickoff returns, led by Pro Bowler Matthew Slater (18). Edelman (11) was second in the NFL with 12 yards per punt return and had one for an 84-yard TD. Stephen Gostkowski (3) missed only two field goals and led the NFL with 156 points.

Coaching:

Pete Carroll's revenge? It's not a major story line, but it should be recognized that Carroll preceded Bill Belichick in New England. He wasn't a bad coach there, either, going 28-23, but that pales compared to Belichick's numbers.

No team brings more energy to the field than the Seahawks, and it stems from Carroll. He always has the pulse of his team: Carroll saw how Seattle was suffering from a Super Bowl hangover early in the schedule. He not only got the Seahawks to snap out of it, but reach peak form down the stretch _ at least until last week, when they got lucky, too.

Belichick just surpassed Tom Landry's mark for postseason victories (21). Regardless of the findings of the NFL's probe into under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship contest, he is known as an innovator _ just as much as he is known for stretching the parameters of the rulebook. Belichick keeps things fresh by finding new ways to exploit the opposition.

He will have something unusual lined up for Carroll and the Seahawks.

Intangibles:

Seattle seeks to become the first repeat winner since the Patriots managed it a decade ago. A victory would stamp these Seahawks as an all-time great team, particularly having beaten Peyton Manning and Brady in successive Super Bowls. The Seahawks also come off a mediocre performance in the NFC title game, which should spur them on.

New England, of course, doesn't want to add a stigma of Super Bowl loser by dropping three in a row after winning in its first three trips with Brady and Belichick. Brady can equal Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana with four Super Bowl rings, while Belichick can tie Chuck Noll with four.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

ICE 4 PATS 3 (OT)

Rinat Valiev's even strength goal at 3:27 of overtime was the winner as the Kootenay Ice held on for a 4-3 victory over the Regina Pats Friday evening in Cranbrook, BC.  In the process, the Pats' season-high winless streak hit six games.

The game was scoreless after the first period but the Ice jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second frame.  Regina battled back to tie it over the final 30 minutes on goals by Braden Christoffer, Austin Wagner and Pavel Padakin.  Daniel Wapple took the loss in goal making 39 saves.

Regina was outshot 43-27 while going 0/1 on the powerplay and 1/2 on the penalty kill.  The attendance was 2152.

The Pats (26-17-4-2) wrap up their two-game Central Division swing Saturday night in Lethbridge in an 8:00 faceoff on 620 CKRM (Press Box Sports Bar Pregame Show at 7:35 pm).  Regina's next home game is Tuesday against Prince Albert.

(Photo courtesy KootenayIce.net)

MESSAM HOPING TO STAY WITH RIDERS

He's not patient by nature, but the business of pro football has taught Jerome Messam how to play the waiting game.

The Saskatchewan running back is scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 10. Although talks between Messam's agent, Montreal-based Darren Gill, and the Roughriders are continuing, the 29-year-old Toronto native isn't worrying about the uncertainty surrounding where he'll be next season.

Instead he's focused on what he does control, most notably his off-season preparation. That wasn't always the case for Messam, but it's a lesson learned from playing for four different teams over his five-year CFL career.

"I'm not a patient person but I've learned to be,'' Messam said with a chuckle during a telephone interview. "I've learned through maturity and life and knowing you can't always have things your own way and have grown to become a more patient person.

"That's all you can do. It's out of my hands.''

Not that the patient approach is the easiest.

"It's tough, especially for me,'' Messam said. "I've been a guy that's bounced around a little bit in the league.

"I'd like to find a place where I fit and they can utilize and appreciate my talents. It's difficult to deal with not knowing where you're going to be but ideally I'd like to end up back in Saskatchewan.''

The Riders locked up veteran Weston Dressler on Friday. The 29-year-old slotback, who was also slated to become a free agent next month, agreed to a four-year extension.

The six-foot-three 245-pound Messam joined the Riders last July. He rushed for 382 yards on 70 carries (5.5-yard average) with one TD last season while adding eight catches for 134 yards.

Saskatchewan used multiple running backs as Anthony Allen rushed for a team-high 930 yards with Will Ford (452 yards), Messam and Hugh Charles (86 yards) also seeing action.

The Roughriders had the CFL's third-ranked ground attack (132.2 yards per game) last season. But the team's quest to repeat as Grey Cup champions fizzled after starter Darian Durant suffered an elbow injury in a 30-24 win over Winnipeg on Sept. 7.

Saskatchewan (10-8) limped into the playoffs, losing six of its final eight regular-season games before dropping an 18-10 decision to Edmonton in the West Division semifinal. With a healthy Durant expected back in 2015, Messam likes the Riders' chances to be a factor again in the West Division.

"We were on a roll before Darian had his injury,'' Messam said. "There's a great group of vets and young talent there and I think the sky is the limit.

"It was a great situation last year in Saskatchewan ... I love playing there as the fans are awesome and the community treats us like gold. But I know the nature of the beast, football is a business at this level before anything. Wherever I go, I'm going to be happy to be working and still living my dream. I just want to go and be able to contribute and help the team the best I can wherever I can.''

Messam's best season was in 2011 when he was named the CFL's top Canadian after rushing for 1,057 yards with Edmonton. He has run for 1,115 yards over the last three years combined with the Eskimos, Montreal and Saskatchewan, but has averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

Messam, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., has 2,264 career rushing yards and is averaging a solid 5.02 yards per attempt.

One factor that could help Messam return to Saskatchewan is the club's recent hiring of Jacques Chapdelaine as offensive co-ordinator. Chapdelaine held that post with the B.C. Lions in 2010 when Messam was a rookie with the Vancouver team.

"Jacques Chapdelaine and I do go back to my rookie year,'' Messam said. "We've talked and it will be an open training camp so hopefully we can get this deal done and get back together.''

Wherever he ends up, Messam is eager to have the benefit of a full training camp to show he's capable of being a featured back.

"My legs still feel great,'' Messam said. "I've been blessed to not really have had any serious injuries to hold me back or keep me from playing too long.

"There's bumps and bruises that go along with the season but you fight through those. Over the past few years I feel like the game has slowed down and become a lot more fun to play.''

(CP)

ODELL SIGNS EXTENSION

EDMONTON - Odell Willis is remaining with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The veteran defensive end signed a contract extension with the CFL club Friday. Willis was scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 10.

The six-foot-two, 255-pound Willis had a team-high 13 sacks last season. He also had a career-high 32 tackles, six pass knockdowns, five forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions en route to being named a league all-star.

Willis joined the Eskimos as a free agent in February 2013. The six-year veteran has recorded 155 tackles, 62 sacks, two interceptions and six fumble recoveries over his CFL career.

(The Canadian Press)

Friday, January 30, 2015

BERNIE WON'T BE BACK

REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina Rams announced Friday that offensive coordinator Bernie Schmidt will not return for the 2015 season.

"Despite having been here for only a short time, it's extremely obvious how dedicated Bernie has been to the program," Rams head coach Mike Gibson said. "But I have the responsibility to put together a staff that will move together in the direction that I see the program going in. I wish Bernie all the best moving forward."

Schmidt had served as the team's offensive coordinator for all 16 seasons at the CIS level and the Regina Rams' final 15 years in the CJFL, with much of that time as a volunteer. The Rams not only won seven CJFL national championships and advanced to the 2000 Vanier Cup with Schmidt as the architect of the team's offence, but also saw numerous offensive players advance to the professional ranks including CFL Draft first-round selections Jason Clermont, Chris Bauman, and Brendon LaBatte.

"Bernie has had an impressive career running the Rams offence," University of Regina acting director of athletics Curtis Atkinson said. "He has played an important role in the success of the team and individual student-athletes, and we thank him for his contributions to the Rams and the University of Regina."

Schmidt's final date of employment at the University of Regina will be Saturday, Jan. 31. Gibson is expected to announce his coaching staff for the 2015 season in February.

The University of Regina Rams would like to thank Bernie for his dedication and commitment to our players and football program over the past 37 years. Bernie is best known for his exciting, high-calibre offences that were always ranked among the best in the country. He was always a mentor to his players and a good friend to all members of the organization and we wish him and his family the very best.

DAYTONA HOMES FRIDAY RODSERVATIONS

FRIDAY QUICK HITS

- The Roughriders added to their offensive arsenal on Thursday by adding five-year CFL veteran WR Cory Watson (pictured) from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  The move came as a bit of a surprise, initially because the Riders and Bombers aren't historically trading partners.  The trade is being hailed as a "win-win" by both clubs because Saskatchewan added a third starting-calibre Canadian receiver (to go along with Chris Getzlaf and Rob Bagg) while Bomber GM Kyle Walters was ecstatic to move up 11 spots in the draft by swapping a third round pick for the Riders' second.  They also see a big upside in receiver Kris Bastien, who Saskatchewan shipped to Winnipeg in the package.  Clearly, Bastien didn't fit into the Riders' plans.

- When breaking down the pregame match-ups before Roughrider-Bomber games over the past number of years, we always circled Watson as a threat.  In two games against Saskatchewan in 2014, Watson caught four passes for 47 yards but never found the endzone.  Watson comes to Saskatchewan with an injury-prone past (mostly hamstring issues) but he says he's 100% and the Riders feel he's just scratched the surface of his potential.  However Assistant GM Jeremy O'Day was quick to point out on Thursday that potential means nothing if the desired results are not achieved.  But 2015 could be a breakout season for Watson and all he may need is a change of scenery.

- We were tipped off prior to Thursday's live interview with Watson on the SportsCage that he's a shy type, and doesn't relish the spotlight.  However he gave a thoughful 10-minute interview and said once the shock of the trade wears off, he'll be ecstatic to be a part of the Rider Nation.  One of his comments which stuck out the most is that he's glad to be "joining a winning organization".  Unfortunately for Cory, he didn't do a lot of winning while in the Manitoba capital.

- For some reason the quote from Andy Fantuz when he signed with Hamilton in 2012 popped into my mind during the interview.  Andy felt the Tiger-Cats were "closer to winning" at that time than Saskatchewan and that was one of the biggest reasons for the move.  That, of course, turned out not to be the case.  However Fantuz doesn't seemingly regret fleeing Saskatchewan, although I'm told he felt a tinge of repentance while walking off the field after the 2013 Grey Cup.

- It took about eight minutes into Jeremy O'Day's session with Regina reporters on Thursday for him to be asked about contract talks with pending free agent receiver Weston Dressler.  O'Day said the talks have "intensified" over the past couple of days and although they are progressing, no agreement has been reached.  Those close to Dressler feel he'll get much closer to the February 10 free agent deadline before making his final decision.  He'll see what he's worth on the open market and then try to pry that out of the Roughriders.  However in the end, most everyone agrees he'll be back in Green & White in 2015 and beyond.  For instance, why would he have been in meetings with Darian Durant and new O.C. Jacques Chapdelaine if he didn't plan on being part of the plans?  My conclusion is that he signed back here once (last year) and there's no reason to think he won't do it again.

- Nice work by the Leader Post's Murray McCormick who uncovered the scoop that Mike Sinclair is expected to be announced as the Riders' Defensive Line coach when Corey Chamblin's staff is unveiled next month.  That will be a popular move amongst the players.  Who else will be on the staff?  I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole.  I've learned breaking those stories causes a lot of problems.

- CKRM football analyst Luc Mullinder broke the story one week ago (has it already been a week?) that the Riders have come to terms with non-import kicker Hugh O'Neill who was recently cut by Edmonton.  Rider GM Brendan Taman confirmed on Monday that the club "has interest" in O'Neill, but did not confirm anything's been signed.

- I was reminded again this week how massive the Roughriders have become despite the distasteful second half of 2014 and the stunted playoff run.  While paying for some items at the 7-11 at the corner of Pasqua St. and 13th Avenue on Wednesday, the nice Filipino lady behind the counter said to me dejectedly, "I'm really going to miss Mr. Foley!  He was in here all the time and he's such a nice guy!"  It used to be the "new Reginans" in these places didn't know a Roughrider from a Rough Rider but now they're all on board.  Now go buy tickets!

- These recent Rider transactions seem to have quelled the negativity around the team this off-season, which I never understood in the first place.  In two quick years Ricky Foley became a fan favourite and the angst over his departure is understandable but the Rider Nation quickly came to realize what's coming the other way in Shea Emry.  But the uproar amongst the fans seemed to stem from Corey Chamblin's decision to replace coordinators George Cortez and Richie Hall with Jacques Chapdelaine and Greg Quick.  The head-scratcher to me is that by the end of September last year, most of these people wanted those guys gone!  Such is life in the Rider Nation.

- Who's excited for Super Bowl?  If it wasn't for the Jon Ryan-connection around here, there might be far less hype for Sunday's Seattle-New England match-up in Arizona.  Even at that, one SportsCage listener pointed out on Thursday that you have to look far and wide to see a #9 RYAN Seahawks jersey in these parts.  That's odd to me.  Jon Ryan could walk into a Regina restaurant and not be hassled however to this day when Jason Clermont walks in for lunch, the whole place freezes.  CFL is, and always will be, king around here.

- As for Sunday's game, I'll be pulling for Seattle due to Jon Ryan.  But it's pointless to pick a winner, since the point spread is only one point in favour of the Patriots.  And whenever I hear the term "Pats" around here, I still think of our junior hockey team even though this past while it's been in reference to the Patriots.

- Marshawn Lynch doesn't want to make you want to cheer for Seattle.  However the Patriots have their share of punks too, beginning in their backfield.

- Interesting watching James Duthie host TSN's Super Bowl coverage from Glendale, AZ.  As always he does a great job but he seems more of a fit hosting World Junior Hockey coverage or Insider Trading.  Where's Rod Smith?

- The results are in - and as expected - Regina remains an Oilers town.  However the gap is dwindling.  In an online poll on this blog over the past 10 days, the Edmonton Oilers won out as the Queen City's NHL team.  Here are the results:

Edmonton 27%
Montreal 15%
Calgary 13%
Winnipeg 10%
Toronto 10%
Vancouver 5%
Other 16%

It's no shock.  The 30-45 crowd loves the Oilers from their glory days while the 45+ crowd is still in love with the Canadiens and it may stem from their affiliation with the Regina Pats going back to the 1960's and before.  However a few short years ago the Oilers won the poll with close to 70% of the vote.  The question now is: who is the 18-30 crowd pulling for in this town?

- Good grief there are a lot of bad teams in the NHL this season.  Edmonton, Toronto, Buffalo, Carolina, take your pick.  There's a huge separation between the wheat and the chaff this year.

- The Martin Brodeur situation in the NHL seems almost exactly the same as the end of Geroy Simon's career.  The Devils thought Brodeur was done after 22 seasons, so they put him out to pasture.  Brodeur didn't think his career was over so he signed with St. Louis.  That experiment lasted six games and he promptly retired to join the Blues' front office.  That one has everyone in the NHL scratching their heads because you'd think Brodeur would have ended up working for the Devils.  However you'd have to think Brodeur was so hurt by New Jersey, that he wants nothing to do with them.

It's not exactly the same as Geroy, but close.  The only difference is Simon proved to be productive in his final CFL season with the Riders.

That got us to thinking on the SportsCage Thursday ... Luc Mullinder said "Father Time is undefeated" when it comes time for players to hang it up.  However, upon further review, Jason Clermont is an example of a guy who proved a team wrong when they thought his career was over (see: B.C. Lions).  Any others come to mind?

- Thursday night's San-Jose/Anaheim game on NBCSN seemed to be a battle of some of the NHL's nicest jerseys (the Sharks' blacks) versus some of the NHL's worst (Anaheim's black, orange and white).  The Ducks look like they're sponsored by Cabella's of Elmer Fudd!  Please go back to the purple.

- Great to see the Lethbridge Hurricanes honouring former Regina Pats captain Rick Rypien with "Ricky Ryp Night" when the 'Canes host the Pats Saturday night.  Rick, a product of nearby Crowsnest Pass, AB, died in 2011 at the age of 27.  The Ricky Ryp Foundation was founded by Rick's brother Wes Jr. for the sole purpose of continuing Rick's legacy through charitable works.  He was one of the greatest Pats captains ever and that loss is still very tough to swallow.

- Happy birthday today to Regina Pats alum Rob Tudor (Dysart, SK), 1972-76.  Memorial Cup champion.

- The U of R Cougar Mens Hockey Team closes out its season tonight with a home date against the Calgary Dinos at the Cooperators Arena.  We'll be in attendance and the only question I have is, with Dick White having retired as U of R A.D., will they finally open the blinds so we can watch from the lounge???????  Dick and I argued over that point until we were both blue in the face.  Faceoff Friday night is 7:00.

- For some Rider talk, tune into Global's Morning News Friday at 7:15 am.  I'll be on the air with Global's Taylor Shire talking about the Cory Watson trade and the future of Weston Dressler.   And of course Scott Schultz and I will have Four Seasons Football Friday in the SportsCage on 620 CKRM at 4:00 pm Friday.

- And don't forget to come out to the SportsCage Bud Light Super Bowl XLIX Party at the Four Seasons Sunday afternoon!

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THAT'S IT FOR TODAY.  ENJOY THE WEEKEND!
RP
@sportscage
Instagram: ridervoice

MOSAIC PLACE FRIDAY EYE-OPENER

www.mosaicplace.ca
The NHL's Eastern Conference lead has changed hands once again. The Tampa Bay Lightning are back on top, one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens.

Rookie Cedric Paquette capped his first career hat trick by netting a short-handed goal in the Lightning's 5-1 rout of Detroit. Paquette snapped a 1-1 tie late in the first period and guided Tampa Bay to its fourth victory in five games. Steven Stamkos and Mark Barberio also tallied as the Lightning ended the Red Wings' six-game winning streak.

The Islanders had won six of seven before Tuukka Rask stopped 43 shots in Boston's 5-2 triumph over New York. Milan Lucic and Reilly Smith each had a goal and two assists in the Bruins' seventh victory in nine games.

Montreal picked up its fourth straight win by beating the New York Rangers 1-0 on Max Pacioretty's goal with 4:17 remaining. Carey Price handled 24 shots in his third shutout of the season and 28th of his career.

Anaheim's lead in the Western Conference is down to two points over Nashville. Barclay Goodrow and James Sheppard each had a goal and an assist while San Jose was scoring five times in the second period to take a 6-1 lead in a 6-3 rout of the Ducks. Patrick Marleau also had a goal and an assist for the Sharks.

The Predators picked up a point on Anaheim, although T.J. Oshie scored once in regulation and again in the shootout as St. Louis downed Nashville 5-4. Kevin Shattenkirk provided the deciding shootout goal that sent the Blues to their eighth victory in nine games, leaving St. Louis four points behind the Central Division-leading Predators.

Elsewhere on NHL ice:

- Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds furnished a goal and an assist apiece in Philadelphia's 5-2 triumph over Winnipeg. Steve Mason made 36 saves as the Flyers handed the Jets their second straight loss since a five-game winning streak.

- Sean Bergenheim's goal with 6:52 remaining lifted Florida past Columbus 3-2. Roberto Luongo stopped 30 shots to help the Panthers pull within six points of the Rangers for the final East playoff berth.

- Dallas blew a 3-0 lead before John Klingberg scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period of the Stars' 6-3 win over the Senators. Jason Spezza was held scoreless in his return to Ottawa.

- Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots and Zach Parise scored the only goal in Minnesota's 1-0 shutout of Calgary. The Flames still own a one-point lead over Los Angeles in the battle for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

- Third-period goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Martin Hanzal and Sam Gagner lifted Arizona over Toronto 3-1. The Maple Leafs have scored just seven times during their eight-game losing streak.

- Buffalo extended its losing streak to 13 games as Matt Fraser and Anton Lander each had a goal and two assists in Edmonton's 3-2 triumph over the Sabres. Ben Scrivens needed to make just 17 saves to preserve the win.

NHL-BRODEUR

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Martin Brodeur has officially announced his retirement as an NHL player.

The all-time leader in victories and shutouts has accepted a front-office position with St. Louis, where he wrapped up his career after 21 outstanding years with the Devils. He said he is leaving the game with a smile on his face and excited about his next opportunity.

Brodeur ends his career with 691 victories, 125 shutouts, a 2.24 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He said he would certainly entertain a return to the Devils as a team executive.

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SUPER BOWL/NFL

NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino says the inspection of the footballs by referee Walt Anderson before the AFC championship game was handled properly.

But Blandino also said the process of checking the footballs and security surrounding the inspections will be enhanced for Sunday's Super Bowl.

As the league's investigation into the Patriots' use of under-inflated footballs moves along, Blandino made it clear the officiating crew for New England's win over Indianapolis did its job.

As Blandino put it, "Officiating is not part of the investigation.''

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CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) - Tom Brady's cold continues to be big news in Phoenix as the Patriots and Seahawks gear up for Sunday's Super Bowl. The Patriots quarterback still sounded congested when he said Thursday "I expect to be 100 per cent on Sunday. I'll be ready to go.''

He participated fully in practice on Wednesday and said he felt a lot better today.

On the Seattle side of things, running back Marshawn Lynch actually made some comments to reporters. In short he simply said he's got nothing to talk about. He left after his mandatory five minutes.

In actual football news, Seahawks' coach Pete Carroll says the referees will use hand signals to indicate clearly when normally eligible receivers check in the Super Bowl as ineligible, a technique the Patriots have used in the post-season. Carroll spoke about conversations he had with league officials after Seattle and New England reached the Super Bowl to get an understanding how those players would be identified.

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CLEVELAND (AP) - Browns receiver Josh Gordon says his latest trouble with the NFL results from having a few drinks with teammates on a flight to Las Vegas on Jan. 2, after Cleveland's season ended.

The former Pro Bowler was suspended for last season after testing positive for marijuana, and he says the penalty was reduced in part by his willingness to agree not to drink alcohol for the rest of the season. Gordon said in an open letter on Medium that he accepts responsibility for a failed alcohol test that could bring another suspension from the league.

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PHOENIX (AP) - The NFL says the rate of concussions among players fell 25 per cent this season, even as injury reporting and trips to injured reserve lists rose overall.

Data provided to The Associated Press by the NFL ahead of its annual pre-Super Bowl health and safety news conference shows there were 111 concussions in games during the 2014 regular season, down from 148 in 2013, and 173 in 2012. That's a 36 per cent drop over that three-year span.

League Senior Vice-President of Health and Safety Jeff Miller says the reason things have changed is because the players have changed the way they are tackling.

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WASTE MANAGEMENT OPEN

PHOENIX -- Tiger Woods has opened his 2015 PGA schedule with a 2-over 73 in the first round of the Phoenix Open. Woods was plus-5 following four bogeys, a double-bogey and a birdie, but he rallied with an eagle on the par-5 13th hole.

Ryan Palmer was the clubhouse leader after carding five birdies and an eagle for a 7-under 64, one shot ahead of Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley. Daniel Berger was on the course at minus-6 when play was suspended by darkness.

Weyburn, SK's Graham DeLaet carded a -4 which has him tied for ninth entering day two.

(CP)