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Monday, April 27, 2015

MOSAIC PLACE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


WHAT A WEEKEND!  LET'S DISCUSS...

1 - POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME:  Sunday evening Regina was treated to a fantastic show by rock legends Def Leppard at the Brandt Centre.  It certainly was a trip back in time.  Tight jeans, leather jackets, teased hair.  And that was just the guys!  Proving once again that the Queen City certainly is an 80's rock town, Def Leppard played a soldout show which included 17 songs over 90 minutes and they left with a standing ovation.  It definitely brought back memories of house parties, high school dances and the like.  We were treated to club seats by Fraser Strategy and had a great time.  Thanks Trent Fraser and Tony Playter for an enjoyable evening!  And thanks to Ian Jewsbury for the photo.

Devon White poses with fans at the Red Sox Dinner
2- SHUT-UP!:  On Saturday night I was pleased to be the MC for the 11th annual Regina Red Sox Sports Dinner & Auction at the Turvey Centre featuring three-time World Series champion Devon White of Toronto Blue Jays fame.  Sadly - and many in attendance will attest - the evening had somewhat of an awkward vibe since many in the soldout crowd paid no attention to what was going on on stage.  Initially it didn't bother me a great deal - I was getting paid regardless - but the incessant buzz from the crowd seemed to annoy Devon White.  Twice during his Q & A session with local reporters Lee Jones and Murray McCormick, "Devo" had to shush the crowd but it fell on deaf ears.  It was unfortunate that White had come such a long way from Florida to tell his baseball stories but was distracted for much of the night.  I ran into Devon at the Ramada Hotel Sunday morning and asked him about the event, but he just rolled his eyes.  Hey, I suppose if you pay your money you can do what you like but it didn't seem like the baseball-crazy crowds we've enjoyed over the years with such speakers as Tommy John, Rick Cerrone, Duane Ward, Jesse Barfield and Jose Canseco.  Regardless, the 2015 Red Sox season is right around the corner and season ticket info is available on their website at www.reginaredsox.com.

3 - ON ROUGHRIDERS:  The calendar is about to flip to May and we're headed into the most agonizingly long month of the off-season.  2015 Roughrider training camp will begin on Sunday, May 31 in Saskatoon but that seems like a million miles away.  The Rider coaches are enjoying their last few days off before reporting to Mosaic Stadium later this week to continue preparations for the upcoming season.

What's new with the Riders?  Not much, it appears from the outside, although the football operations staff continues to evaluate the individual performances from the April minicamp in Florida and settling on their training camp roster.

The hot question continues to be: how will the Riders fare this year?  The club is certainly optimistic, and eager to put the bitter 2014 season behind them.  CFL observers have whispered that the Riders have questions at the quarterback position but I don't agree.  Darian Durant says he's 100% and that's the biggest relief however if he goes down with injury again, the club moved swiftly to get a competent back-up in place with Kevin Glenn.

tickets.mosaicplace.ca
4 - MORE ON THE QUARTERBACKS:  Friday's release of pivot Seth Doege was disappointing but not entirely surprising.  The window to shine in pro football is small and unfortunately Doege faltered with his three interceptions in his only start on October 3 at home against Calgary.  Could he perform better under new offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine?  We'll never know, and clearly Chapdelaine wasn't satisfied with what he saw out of Seth on film and in Florida.

The release of Doege leaves the Riders with four quarterbacks: Durant, Glenn, Sunseri and newcomer Brett Smith.  Many fans have asked the whereabouts of youngster Keith Price, who joined the club's practice roster late in the 2014 season.  The Riders have told me that since Price ended the season on the PR, it means he technically isn't under contract but remains on their negotiation list.  The release of Doege opened up the option of signing another quarterback before training camp and Price is a candidate for that spot.

The most-fascinating question I have is, if the quarterback trio coming out of training camp is Durant, Glenn and Sunseri, then who comes off the bench to replace Durant if and when the situation arises?  Right now there is no answer for that, so it makes training camp and the preseason all the more interesting.

CFL on TSN analyst Paul Lapolice will join us on CKRM's Rider Monday in the SportsCage to breakdown the CFL's West Division going into 2015.

5 - UP IN FORT MAC:  There's lots brewing in the Northern Alberta community of Fort McMurray these days.  They are hosting the Junior A Western Canadian Challenge Cup to decide who moves onto the Royal Bank Cup in Portage, Manitoba.  Our old buddy Curtis Hunt is the Coach & GM of the host Fort McMurray Oil Barons who are 1-1 so far after a 3-1 victory over Portage on Saturday and a 6-0 loss to the Penticton Vees on Sunday.  There are generally two berths available in the RBC out of the WCCC but this year there are three since the Portage Terriers will host the RBC.

Meanwhile the community of 61,000 is buzzing over the CFL preseason game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and host Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, June 13 (8:00 pm kickoff).  How many Rider fans will be making the trip up to SMS Equipment Stadium for the clash?  Tickets are going for around $100.  We can't wait to get there, and call all the action on 620 CKRM.

6 - SEASON TICKET CRUNCH:  The Roughriders sent out a lengthy questionnaire to season ticket holders recently hoping to get a handle on fans' thoughts as they pertain to moving into Mosaic Stadium 2 in 2017.  It's a highly-delicate matter because the club wants as little displacement as possible.  I'm a season ticket holder but left Mrs. SportsCage to fill out the survey because she's the one who uses the tickets.  Two of the most-important factors are: how important are sightlines to you versus staying amongst your section mates?  Perhaps you can still have both.  Honestly I wouldn't be as concerned about keeping the community around me together  -- I watch Pats games from a different location each night -- but I know it's incredibly important to others.  The social aspect of Rider games is huge.

Roughriders VP of Business Development Gregg Sauter will be on the SportsCage on Monday to answer your questions.

7 - AROUND THE CFL:  The Calgary Stampeders held their annual minicamp at Bradenton, FL's IMG Academy over the weekend with little fanfare.  Calgary is engulfed with Flames Fever right now and the city's football team was able to get their work in without any distractions ... One CFL type scoffed that the Riders were intent to pump information back to Regina about their camp but that actually wasn't the case.  With the Roughriders being the biggest game in this province, they had no choice but to let the media in.  Most other CFL teams don't draw the type of attention the Green & White does ... The Hamilton Tiger-Cats open their 2015 minicamp on Monday but aren't headed to any sunny locales.  Coach & GM Kent Austin will put his troops through their paces at Hamilton's McMaster University this week and they're looking for a back-up quarterback for Zach Collaros after Dan Lefevour bolted to Montreal this winter ... The B.C. Lions will be holding an "offensive minicamp" at their facility in Surrey this week under new head coach Jeff Tedford.  Did you forget the Lions hired Tedford?  The West Division is shaping up to be tougher than normal in 2015 ... In Winnipeg, Investors Group Field continues to be a horror story.  The CEO of the construction company which built the home of the Bombers - David LeMay of Stuart Olson Dominion - held a news conference on Friday at which he maintained his company stands behind its work and delivered the product which was ordered.  Stuart Olson said in its statement of defence that stadium owner Triple B and the Manitoba government approved the design without regard for potential problems.

8 - VERY WINNIPEGISH:  Over to hockey, and Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler told the L.A. Times that the incessant booing and catcalling directed towards him by Jets fans in their opening round series only served to spur him on.  "It energizes me.  Obviously you hear it," Kesler told Helene Elliot of the Times.  "Obviously I'm doing something right.  I fed off it and it helped my game."  If you're a Jets fan, that's an "ouch".  They helped the other team!

9 - HAIL THE PENS:  Which American NHL team draws the highest television ratings in its own market?  That's right, the Pittsburgh Penguins for the sixth consecutive season.  The Sports Business Journal published the study over the weekend and it appears the City of Pittsburgh has the biggest love affair with its team out of the 23 U.S. markets.  Who has the worst TV ratings in its own town?  The Florida Panthers, who finished 30th.  The least-watched American team in the NHL's Western Conference are the Arizona Coyotes.  Plenty of work to be done there.  Ratings of Canadian NHL teams in their own markets weren't available.

10 - WHAT'S GOING ON IN EDMONTON?:  It seems the teams that missed the NHL playoffs are the ones most in the news this spring.  The Edmonton Oilers replaced Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish on Friday with Peter Chiarelli as GM and President of Hockey Operations however as one Oilers fan put it: they must have a huge office at Rexall Place because no one ever actually gets fired there!

Meanwhile the father of projected #1 pick Connor McDavid - Brian McDavid - came out in his son's defense in a column by Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun last week.  (Why are they interviewing players' parents anyways?  If it's not Walter Gretzky, I don't care to hear from them).  Regardless, the elder McDavid explained why his son seemed so stunned at Edmonton winning the NHL's Draft Lottery last weekend.  Brian McDavid said his son hadn't considered the thought of Edmonton going to to the Oilers because the odds were so stacked against them.  However he said his son would be honoured and humbled at the opportunity to play in Oil Country.

Don't think for a second that the Oilers won't draft McDavid either by the way.  Wayne Gretzky placed a call to Connor as did Jordan Eberle and a few other Oilers stars after the lottery.  He can start getting used to blue and orange.

You also know it's absolutely eating Edmonton alive that the Calgary Flames have lapped them in terms of rebuilding, whatwith the Flames off to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Oilers still spinning their wheels.

Meanwhile not everyone in Calgary has Flames Fever.  My Facebook friend Tammy Bessette from the Stampede City wrote on Twitter over the weekend: "I dont think I've ever HATED the Calgary Flames as much as I do right now: Hoping for a nice Anaheim sweep in Round 2. Funniest part is the Dome has been 1/2 empty the past 4 seasons, now-suddenly- EVVVVERYBODY is a Flames fan.....Typical f'ing Calgary"

- And one last NHL note -- it was disturbing to read former NHL'er Mike Peluso's open letter in the Globe & Mail on Saturday in which he laid blame at the feet of trainers, coaches and management for the post-career physical issues he's battling.  The Hibbing, Minnesota product played parts of 10 NHL seasons and won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995 however these days he's dealing with a variety of problems associated with his many concussions.  The simple question I have for Peluso - as I have for all ex-athletes dealing with these problems - is: would you have done anything differently in your career?  They invariably say "no".  Peluso stated he was eager to play and would do anything it took to stay in the NHL.  For him, that meant fighting.

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THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY!  THANKS FOR READING
RP
@sportscage
Instagram: ridervoice

BOMBERS RELEASE TWO VETS

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers today announce the club has released International defensive end Jason Vega, and National offensive lineman Steve Morley.

“We have been very active throughout the offseason, through free agency and such, and with that come decisions you must make in regards to the salary management system,” said General Manager Kyle Walters. “Both Steve and Jason are very solid individuals, and we sincerely thank them for their time with the Blue Bombers.”

Morley has been with the Blue Bombers since 2009, while Vega spent 2011-2012 with Winnipeg, and returned for the 2014 season.

LANG GETS NEW ROLE WITH PATS

The Regina Pats are pleased to announce Chad Lang will be assuming a new position with the hockey club.   He is leaving the role of Senior Vice President to become a Senior Advisor for the organization, effective June 1. 

“Having been born and raised in Regina, working with my hometown team has been a dream come true,” said Chad Lang.  “This new role allows me to continue to remain with the organization, but also gives me the ability to fully explore other business opportunities.” 

In his new role, Chad will work directly with the owners of the Pats, Regina based Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group (QCSEG).  His extensive knowledge and experience will also be utilized with the teams business and hockey operations.  

Lang has been with the team for five years as General Manager and Senior VP.  During his time the club amassed a 161-154-26-19 record.  In the 2013-14 season he helped the Pats capture the WHL Eastern Division Title for the first time since 2007-08.  This year the Regina Pats made it to the WHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time since the 2007-08 season as well.   

“Chad is well-respected in the WHL and we are lucky to be able to maintain our strong relationship with him,” said Pats President Todd Lumbard. “Having Chad take on a Senior Advisor role gives him flexibility and us the chance to rely on his extensive knowledge and expertise.  We have valued his contribution to the team and helping the ownership transition.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

CAMCO PLUMBING & HEATING MONDAY EYE-OPENER

Carey Price made 43 saves as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-0 to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs. Montreal won the best of seven series 4-2, but lost two in a row after taking a 3-0 series lead. It was the first time all season Ottawa was shut out.

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Outdoor hockey may be coming to Ottawa. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke with media in Ottawa before the Montreal Canadiens win over the Senators. He addressed many subjects, including the league's desire to host an outdoor game in Canada's capital. Bettman also says there is no team likely to relocate at this time.

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Zach Parise scored twice, including a short-handed, highlight-reel goal to get Minnesota going in the first period, and the Wild advanced to the Western Conference semifinals with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Wild set up a rematch of their second-round loss last year to Chicago. The Blackhawks beat Nashville in six games to move on.

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Two goals and an assist from Arthur Miller and a goal and a helper from Owen Sillinger helped the Regina Pat Canadians to a 6-3 win over the Strathmore Bisons on Sunday and the bronze medal at the 2015 TELUS Cup.

Meanwhile Ryan Bonsteel found the back of the net twice as part of a four-goal first period, and Dalton Ewing made 35 saves to help the Toronto Young Nationals hoist the 2015 TELUS Cup with a 6-2 win over the Grenadiers de Châteauguay on Sunday.

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The Toronto Raptors were emphatically swept out of the NBA playoffs by the Wizards with a 125-94 defeat in Washington. Bradley Beal led Washington with 23 points. Kyle Lowry was the best Raptor with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists but also got in to foul trouble early. Also, Cleveland completed a sweep of Boston with a 101-93 victory in Game 4 of their playoff series.

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Justin Smoak's RBI single was the only run Toronto would score as the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays with a 5-1 victory. Chris Archer pitched two-hit ball in seven scoreless innings for the Rays. Toronto scored six runs in the series and are 11-and-21 in road games against Tampa Bay since 2012.

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Lydia Ko won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic for the second straight year, beating Morgan Pressel on the second hole of a playoff. Canadian Brooke Henderson, the 17 year old from Smiths Falls, Ontario, had a 74 and missed the playoff by one shot.

(CP/Hockey Canada)

SUNDAY SPORTS

NHL:  The Calgary Flames are moving onto Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Matt Stajan broke a tie with 4:17 left and Calgary beat Vancouver 7-4 to win their Western Conference Quarterfinal in six games.

The Flames will face the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.

Michael Ferland and Jiri Hudler each scored twice, and Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau added goals for Calgary. Hudler tied it at 4 with a power-play goal at 6:14 of the third period.

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Duncan Keith scored with 3:48 left and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Saturday night to win the first-round playoff series 4-2.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago, and Corey Crawford stopped 13 shots after replacing Scott Darling in the first period after the rookie gave up three goals.

Chicago will face St. Louis or Minnesota in the Western Conference semifinals.

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Petr Mrazek stopped 28 shots and the Detroit Red Wings rebounded from a disappointing loss to shut down the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round NHL playoff series. Riley Sheahan, Drew Miller, Pavel Datsyuk and Danny DeKeyser scored for the Red Wings. They can close out the Eastern Conference matchup by winning Game 6 at home Monday night.

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The New York Islanders are still alive. Nikolay Kulemin scored the go-ahead goal with 9:27 left as New York took Game 6, 3-1 over the Washington Capitals to even the best-of-seven series at three games apiece. The first-round set will conclude in Washington with Game 7 on Monday.

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MIDGET AAA:  The Regina Pat Canadians are out at the Telus Cup in Quebec.  Nolan Regan broke a 1-1 tie seven minutes into the third period, and the Toronto Young Nationals booked their spot in the gold medal game at the 2015 TELUS Cup with a 3-1 semifinal win over the Regina Pat Canadians on Saturday.

Toronto handed Regina its first loss of the week, and became the fourth No. 4 seed in the past six years to beat the top-ranked team from the preliminary round in the semifinals.

Ryan Bonsteel and Jordan Sambrook had the other goals for the Young Nationals, who avenged a 7-2 round-robin loss to the Pat Canadians, and earned a semifinal win after losing at the same stage of Canada’s National Midget Championship one year ago.

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WHL:  The Brandon Wheat Kings are halfway to the WHL's Championship Series.  Tyler Coulter scored 51 seconds into overtime as the Wheat Kings edged Calgary 3-2 to grab a 2-0 series lead over the Hitmen in the WHL's Eastern Final.

The Western Final is tied 1-1 after Portland's 3-2 victory at Kelowna Saturday night.

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MLB:  The Toronto Blue Jays continue to struggle against Tampa Bay. Tim Beckham hit a tiebreaking double during a three-run eighth inning and the Rays won their fourth straight game by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2. That's Toronto's fifth loss in six games against Tampa Bay so far this season.

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Former Expos executive Jim Fanning has died at age 87. Fanning was named Montreal's first GM in August 1968 and spent 25 years with the franchise. He served as vice-president, scout and had two stints as field manager, compiling a 116-103 career record as skipper.

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NBA:  The Milwaukee Bucks avoided a sweep with a 92-90 victory over the Chicago Bulls. Jerryd Bayless made a layup at the buzzer off an inbounds pass as Milwaukee drew within 3-1 in their Eastern Conference playoff series. Jared Dudley threw a high-arcing pass toward the basket from side court with 1.3 seconds left. Bayless caught the ball and quickly threw up the layup for the winning basket.

The Toronto Raptors look to avoid a sweep by Washington in Game 4 of their first round NBA series on Sunday.  No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

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PGA:  Erik Compton birdied three of five holes after a nearly six-hour rain delay, giving him a share of the lead with Jason Day early in the third round of the rain-plagued Zurich Classic. Compton and Day were at 13 under, a shot ahead of Justin Rose, Blayne Barber, Jerry Kelly and Canadian David Hearn at TPC Louisiana when play was suspended because of darkness.

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UFC:  UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson retained his title in dominant fashion, controlling opponent Kyoji Horiguchi for nearly the entirety of their five-round affair before scoring the latest submission win in UFC history - tapping out his opponent with just a single second left in the fight.

The bout served as the featured contest of Saturday's "UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi'' event, which took place at Montreal's Bell Centre Saturday night.

(Canadian Press/Hockey Canada)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

RIDERS RELEASE DOEGE, FOUR OTHERS

Doege

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced Friday the release of the following five players:

· International defensive lineman Chancey Aghayere
· International offensive lineman Pierce Burton
· International linebacker Justin Cole
· International quarterback Seth Doege
· International defensive back Ryan Steed

* Doege (Pronounced: DAYG-ee) appeared in four games with the Riders in 2014, starting one.  The Texas Tech star and former Atlanta Falcons quarterback completed only 14 passes for 150 yards while throwing a whopping five interceptions.  The move leaves the Riders with four quarterbacks on their roster: Darian Durant, Kevin Glenn, Tino Sunseri and Brett Smith.

SILLINGER SHUTS UP THE CRITICS

By: Dave Brien/Hockey Canada

In hockey, it’s never easy to have a famous name on the back of your jersey.

It’s even harder when the man behind that name stands behind you on the bench every time you’re on the ice.

But Regina Pat Canadians captain Owen Sillinger seems to be handling the pressure just fine.

Owen is the son of long-time NHLer Mike Sillinger, who might be best known for being the most traded player in NHL history, but also happened to play over 1,000 games, be a captain in the NHL and win a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

Mike is also an assistant coach with the Pat Canadians, and has had a front-row seat to his son’s performance not only at Canada’s National Midget Championship, but all season long.

After leading Regina in regular season and playoff scoring, Owen was honoured Friday night at the 2015 TELUS Cup awards banquet, taking home Top Scorer and Top Forward honours for his 14-point performance in the round robin, along with the big prize – the TELUS Cup MVP award.

“The big thing with Owen is that he’s a late developer,” Mike says. “He didn’t get the opportunity to play AAA at 15 because he simply wasn’t big enough. Now, we’re almost the same size and after having a good season last year, he’s followed up with an exceptional one.”

On first glance, it would appear to be a delicate balancing act between being a father and being a coach, particularly at the higher levels of minor hockey, but the junior Sillinger says that’s not the case.

“Most people think that having the father and son relationship would make him pretty pushy, but honestly he’s just looking to give back to the community,” Owen says of playing for his father. “He works the defense and our two other coaches run the offense and that’s perfect.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s not a little bit of teaching going on. After, Mike did have 548 NHL points, and three seasons of 100+ points in the WHL, so he wouldn’t exactly be classified as offensively challenged.

“He mostly shares what the typical father says:  work hard and display a great work ethic,” Owen says. “He was a face-off specialist in the NHL so he’s taught me a great deal in that department because I’m a centre as well. He’s also taught me a lot about focusing on the things you can control.”

After a hip injury ended Mike’s career in 2009, the Sillinger family returned to his hometown of Regina, just as Owen, the oldest of three boys, entered his formative minor hockey years.

After averaging more than a point per game with the Regina Oilers (Bantam AA) in 2011-12 and Regina Wild (Midget AA) in 2012-13, Owen set his sights on the Pat Canadians, where Mike was about to join the staff.

“When Brad Herauf took over as head coach two years ago, he asked me if I wanted to help out,” said Sillinger, a legend in Regina hockey circles. “I was honoured, but I was also hoping my kid would make the team too.

“I [just] didn’t want people to think that I was coaching to get my kid on the hockey club. It speaks for itself that he was good enough to make the team, but you’re always careful about what people think of the coach-dad relationship.”

While gold is the goal in Rivière-du-Loup, the 2015 TELUS Cup holds a deeper meaning for father and son.

The week is about new experiences, about enjoying the final days of minor hockey, and about one last chance for Owen to pull on a jersey both Sillingers hold so close to their hearts.

 “It’s very special,” Mike says. “Because I played with the [Regina] Pats [in the WHL] as a sixteen year-old, all my buddies at the time had the opportunity to play in the Air Canada Cup back in ’88, and they won it. I guess I felt like I missed out on something back then after seeing them enjoying such success.

“In a sense, it’s more gratifying now as a coach. The boys understand that it’s not every kid who has the opportunity to do this. They’ve learned that it’s all about chemistry and it shows that they care for each other. They’ll do anything for each other and it’s a big thing to put the team first.”

http://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/news/Following-in-the-footsteps

ACCESS 7 SATURDAY EYE-OPENER

Bobby Ryan is back. He scored his first two goals of the post-season as the Ottawa Senators staved off elimination again with a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5. The Habs still lead the first-round series 3-2. Craig Anderson was solid in goal, making 45 saves. Game 6 goes Sunday in the nation's capital.

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It was a good day for Devan Dubnyk. He was named a finalist for the Vezina trophy and then made 36 saves in Game 5 as the Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1. The win gives the Wild a 3-2 lead in their first-round series. Dubnyk was coming off a Game 4 performance where he gave up six goals in two periods.

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are done. Pittsburgh's season ended after Carl Hagelin scored in O-T as the New York Rangers beat the Pens 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series to win 4-1. Henrik Lundqvist was solid in net making 37 saves.

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In the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday, Washington visits the N.Y. Islanders (1 pm), Detroit is at Tampa (4 pm), Nashville visits Chicago (6 pm) and Calgary entertains Vancouver (7 pm).

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The home teams were the winners on the opening night of the WHL's Conference finals.  In the East, Brandon trounced Calgary 9-4 in Game 1 while in the West, Kelowna snuck past Portland 3-2 in the lid-lifter.  Games 2 go Saturday night.

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The Raptors are in trouble. John Wall produced 19 points and 15 assists and the Washington Wizards closed in on a first-round playoff sweep by beating Toronto 106-99. Paul Pierce continued his hot series by hitting two late 3-pointers to secure the win. Washington leads the series 3-0 and has a chance to close out the Raps Sunday.

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It was one of those nights for R-A Dickey and his knuckleball. He gave up eight runs and nine hits in 4-and-two-thirds innings as the Toronto Blue Jays fell 12-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays came into the game on a three-game winning streak after sweeping the Baltimore Orioles at home. James Loney, Rene Rivera and Tim Beckham each hit a two-run homer for Tampa.

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The Subway series is back in New York. Mark Teixeira hit a pair of two-run homers to help the Yankees end the crosstown rival Mets' 11-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory. Michael Pineda pitched into the eighth inning for the Yankees. His record improved to 3-0 with the win.

(CP)