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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WINTERHAWKS 3 PATS 1

Photo courtesy Jared Dumba
REGINA -- The Portland Winterhawks earned a 3-1 win Tuesday in Regina against the Pats. With the victory, the Hawks improved to 2-1 on the season-high six-game road trip through the East Division.

Portland got off to a flying start with a pair of special teams goals in the first period. Keegan Iverson opened the scoring with a power play goal 6:33 into the game for a 1-0 lead. They padded the lead at the 12:30 mark while shorthanded when Skyler McKenzie pounced on a long rebound and fired it past Regina netminder Tyler Brown for a 2-0 lead Portland took into the second. It was McKenzie's first career WHL goal.

Regina got one back 36 seconds into the second on a goal from Dryden Hunt as they got within one at 2-1, the lone goal of the period.

With under two minutes to play in the third and the game still 2-1, the Regina Pats took a pair of penalties to give Portland a 5-on-3 power play. While on the two-man advantage, Miles Koules found Chase De Leo on the doorstep, and he banged it home for a 3-1 lead which would stand as the final.

De Leo finished with two points with a goal and an assist, while Nic Petan also had two points on a pair of helpers.

Portland was outstanding on special teams Tuesday, going 2-4 on the power play and a perfect 7-7 on the penalty kill with a shorthanded goal.

(Courtesy Graham Kendrick)

WILLY SET TO RETURN

WINNIPEG (CP) - With their season hanging by a thread, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers can at least look forward to the return of their regular starting quarterback on Saturday.

Drew Willy looked good in practice Tuesday after missing last week's game due to injuries.

"More than that, I liked what he said,'' coach Mike O'Shea said after practice. "He said he'll be fine.''

The Blue Bombers (6-10) will try to end a seven-game losing skid on Saturday against the B.C. Lions (8-7). Winnipeg will be eliminated from playoff contention with another defeat as the Lions are four points ahead in the race for the crossover spot in the CFL West.

Even if Winnipeg wins, the Blue Bombers would need a lot of help for a playoff spot to be possible. They would also need to beat the CFL-leading Calgary Stampeders and hope for a combination of B.C. and Toronto losses.

The Lions would need to lose their final two and the Argonauts (6-9) would have to lose two of their final three.

But first, the Bombers have to win, something they haven't managed to do since Aug. 22.

"We know we've got a good B.C. team coming in here,'' Willy said after practice Tuesday. "Their defence has been playing really well lately. They're not giving up touchdowns.''

And the Bombers haven't been scoring them.

"We've got to work extremely hard this week in the red zone to be efficient,'' he said. "We've been struggling in the red zone for sure at this part of the season so we've got to make sure we're executing at all phases.''

WEEK 17 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

TORONTO (CP) - Calgary running back Jon Cornish was named CFL offensive player of the week and top Canadian after his stellar performance in the Stampeders' 33-23 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week.

Cornish, from New Westminster, B.C., had 21 carries for 160 rushing yards and scored on a nine-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. He also had a 12-yard reception.

Edmonton linebacker Dexter McCoil was named defensive player of the week. He had a career-high seven tackles and added a pass knockdown and an interception to help the Eskimos to a 24-19 win over Saskatchewan.

Eskimos kick returner Kendial Lawrence took the special-teams honour after recording 150 combined return yards and scoring a touchdown.

RIDERS RELEASE THREE

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced the following transactions:
 
· RELEASE international running back Will Ford
· RELEASE international quarterback DeNarius McGhee
· RELEASE international receiver Eron Riley

TICATS ADD GRIGSBY

HAMILTON - The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have signed international running back Nic Grigsby, the team announced today.

Grigsby, a 5-11, 195-pound native of Los Angeles, California, started 14 games for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this year, rushing for 744 yards and eight touchdowns on 162 carries while catching 55 passes for 444 receiving yards and a score. He was released by the Blue Bombers on October 15.

The University of Arizona product has also spent time with the BC Lions, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

PATS GAME DAY: VS WINTERHAWKS

PORTLAND AT REGINA
7 pm, Tues, Brandt Centre
620 CKRM
Press Sports Bar Pregame Show 6:35 pm

Head-to-Head
The Regina Pats (5-5-1-0) welcome the Portland Winterhawks (2-8-0-2) to the Brandt Centre for their lone meeting of the season.  In last year’s game, the Winterhawks took a 5-2 win over the Pats in Portland while the Blue and White grabbed a 3-2 overtime win against the Hawks in Regina in 2012-13.

In last season’s matchup Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt each had goals against the Hawks while Winnipeg Jets prospect Nic Petan led Portland against the Pats with three points (1G, 2A).

The Hawks roll into Regina after a 10-3 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings on the weekend. You can listen to tonight’s contest on 620 CKRM with Home Depot Pats Hockey starting at 6:35 p.m.

Lead Up:
On the final game of their road trip, the Pats didn’t have any trouble earning scoring chances, but struggled to find the back of the net.  That lack of finish caught up to them as the Hitmen started to bury their chances in the middle period with Travis Sanheim scoring twice and Pavel Karnaukhov burying to send Calgary to a 3-0 lead after forty.  Morgan Klimchuk scored in the third, but Radel Fazleev and Carsen Twarynski scored to run the score up for Calgary.

Road Trip:
The Pats play their first game at the Brandt Centre since October 10th tonight.  They return home after going 1-2-0-0 on a Central Division road swing, playing three games in three nights.  Overall the Blue and White are 3-3-0-0 away from the Brandt Centre.  The Pats have scored 20 of 35 goals on the road.

Klimchuk Back at the Brandt:
Morgan Klimchuk returned to action on the weekend after missing the first nine games of the season due to injury.  The Calgary, AB has goals in his first two games, scoring against Lethbridge and Calgary.

Busy Schedule:
It’s one of the busiest times of the year for the Pats as they’re in the midst of playing seven games in eleven nights.  The stretch started with the Pats’ three-in-three the previous weekend and culminates in a second three game set this weekend in which Regina faces Swift Current twice and Lethbridge.

Upcoming Schedule:
at Swift Current – Friday, October 24th, 7:00 p.m. – Credit Union Iplex (CKRM)
vs. Swift Current – Saturday, October 25th, 7:00 p.m. – Brandt Centre (CKRM)
vs. Lethbridge – Sunday, October 26th, 7:00 p.m. – Brandt Centre (CKRM)

(Courtesy Daniel Fink)

TUESDAY EYE-OPENER

It took six tries, but the Oilers finally have their first win of the season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins broke a 2-2 deadlock at 16:35 of the third period to lift Edmonton over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in the lone NHL game on Monday. Ben Scrivens made 22 saves for the Oilers, who are now 1-4-1 on the season.

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The Regina Pats return from a 1-2-0 road trip to host the Portland Winterhawks Tuesday evening at the Brandt Centre.  Faceoff is 7:00 pm on 620 CKRM.

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Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a dizzying stretch late in the first half, helping the Steelers rally for a 30-23 win over the Houston Texans in the NFL Monday Nighter. Pittsburgh needed just over a minute to turn a 10-point deficit into an 11-point lead as the Texans self-destructed while losing their third straight.

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The Atlanta Hawks had six different players score double digit points in a 117-114 overtime victory against the Charlotte Hornets in NBA pre-season play. Atlanta's Paul Milsap led all scorers with 21 points. Charlotte trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half before forcing extra time.

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Mason Plumlee had 20 points and 17 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets downed the Philadelphia 76ers 99-88. Deron Williams added 13 points for the Nets, who improved to 4-and-1 in exhibition play.

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NCAA President Mark Emmert said there is no talk about allowing compensation for autographs and signed memorabilia. Emmert made his remarks at a luncheon while Georgia running back Todd Gurley remains suspended due to a school investigation into possible violations of NCAA rules involving autographs and memorabilia. Florida State is also is reviewing whether star quarterback Jameis Winston received improper benefits from a large number of autographs being sold online.

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Trisha Yearwood and Carlos Santana are among the musicians set to perform the national anthem during the World Series. According to Major League Baseball, Yearwood will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner'' before Game 1 Tuesday night and Santana will perform an instrumental rendition of the national anthem with his son before Game 4 on Saturday at the AT&T Park in San Francisco.

(Canadian Press)

Monday, October 20, 2014

CHL TO "VIGOROUSLY DEFEND" LAWSUIT

A class action lawsuit launched against the Canadian Hockey League alleges its players are underpaid and seeks millions in financial compensation.

The suit claims players have been paid less than the minimum wage required by law in their regions and asks for $180 million in back wages, overtime and vacation pay, as well as punitive damages.

The CHL is the umbrella organization for the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It touts itself as the top development league for the NHL.

There are 60 teams in the CHL stretching from Victoria to Halifax as well as eight teams based in the United States. More than 1,300 players ranging from age 16 to 20 play in the CHL's leagues, which comprise both privately owned and community-owned clubs. Teams such as the Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings are owned by the NHL team in their respective cities.

The lawsuit is the latest labour shot across the major junior hockey's bow. An attempt to unionize major junior players stalled in 2012, but Canada's largest private sector union Unifor expressed interest in July in representing the players in the future.

A statement of claim filed last Friday in Ontario court alleges that if players want to participate in these leagues, they must sign contracts paying them a weekly fee between $35 and $125 per week with no set hourly wage, overtime, vacation or holiday pay.

The lawsuit cites OHL players as examples, saying they devote 35 to 40 hours to a team and receive $50 a week on average.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The crux of the lawsuit isn't whether the players are professional or amateur, but whether they are employees of their teams or "independent contractors.''

"The big question is whether the players are employees within the meaning of minimum-age legislation across the country versus an independent contractor,'' said Toronto lawyer Ted Charney, who is representing the players. "If the judge hearing the class action decides they're employees, in my opinion, there is a breach of legislation across the country.''

CHL commissioner David Branch counters the players are neither employees nor independent contractors.

"They're amateur student-athletes,'' Branch said in an interview Monday. "We'll certainly vigorously defend ourselves because this could not only in our view have a negative effect on hockey in Canada, but through all sports in which amateur student-athletes are involved.''

(Canadian Press)

PATCHAT

The Week That Was
A busy stretch for the Pats started on the road as the team went through a three-in-three weekend.  It opened in Cranbrook as Wyatt Hoflin shut the door on the Pats in a 1-0 shutout loss to the Kootenay Ice on Friday.

The following evening saw the Pats’ offence make up for lost time as the Queen City Kids rolled to a 6-1 win against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.  Dryden Hunt, Connor Gay and Patrick D’Amico combined for eight points on the evening.

The weekend came to a close in Calgary on Sunday where the Pats couldn’t capitalize on early opportunities and the Hitmen powered their way to a 5-1 win.

The Week Ahead
Tuesday, October 21st – Pats vs. Portland (7:00 p.m.)
It’s a homecoming for the Pats who despite just a quick jaunt West, haven’t played at the Brandt Centre since October 10th.  It will be Morgan Klimchuk’s first game on home ice since returning from injury.  The Pats face off against the four time defending Western Conference Champion Portland Winterhawks.

Friday, October 24th – Pats at Swift Current (7:00 p.m.)
For the second weekend in a row the Pats play three games in three nights.  It starts in Swift Current as the Pats take on the Broncos for the first time this season.  The teams battled it out last year for the East Division crown. Listen to the action with Home Depot Pats Hockey on CKRM2.

Saturday, October 25th – Pats vs. Swift Current (7:00 p.m.)
In the back half of the home and home, the Pats go pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Night.  The Pats have been Funding the Fight for ten years and look forward to fans joining in to help combat cancer and support those who suffer from it.

Sunday, October 26th – Pats vs. Lethbridge (6:00 p.m.)
A tough stretch of games wraps up as the Pats welcome the Lethbridge Hurricanes.  It’s a rematch of Saturday’s matchup in Alberta in which the Blue and White took a 6-1 win over the ‘Canes.
Klimchuk in the Lineup

Morgan Klimchuk returned to the lineup Saturday in Lethbridge and didn’t waste any time in making an impact.  The sniper scored a powerplay marker against the Hurricanes and followed it up with the Pats’ only goal Sunday in Calgary.

Brown Makes Debut
Call-up netminder Tyler Brown made his WHL debut Saturday in Lethbridge and almost had a perfect night.  The former Winnipeg Wild stopped 29 of 30 shots against the Hurricanes en route to his first win.

Toonie Tuesday
Tuesday’s game against Portland marks the first Toonie Exchange Night for Season Ticket Holders.  Unused Season Tickets can be exchanged at the Brandt Centre Box Office for tickets to the game for just $2.  Only tickets for game dates which have passed may be redeemed.

Funding the Fight for Ten Years
It’s the 10th Anniversary of the Pats Funding the Fight against Breast Cancer.  As in past years, the ice at the Brandt Centre will be turned pink for the game thanks to Imagination Ink.  More of the details for Breast Cancer Awareness Night will be revealed this week.

(Courtesy Daniel Fink)

DAYTONA HOMES MONDAY MORNING GOALIE

The first of Sunday's tailgaters. My buddy Fuji (#74) and the gang..
10 MONDAY LEFTOVERS:

1 - There are millions of fans in the Rider Nation and therefore there are a million different opinions following Sunday's 24-19 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos - the Riders' fourth defeat in a row.  With the Riders up 13-4 at halftime, I thought the table was being set for an upset but the 95-yard kickoff return touchdown by Edmonton's Kendial Lawrence on the first play of the third quarter was the TSN Turning Point.  (Does TSN still do that?).

For whatever reason the Riders weren't ready to start the second half and that completely let the air out of their tires.  Upon watching the replay of the game, Lawrence was only touched once on that return, and it was by Rider safety Tyron Brackenridge.  "Folks are still eating their hotdogs and sucking back beers and can't believe that just happened," stammered TSN colour commentator Matt Dunigan on the broadcast.  "A lot of them are still down in the concession area!"

Dunigan's commentary over two weekend CFL broadcasts was pure gold.

2 - You had to be impressed by the play and the poise of Kerry Joseph, despite the loss.  The 41-year old threw for 213 yards with two touchdowns and two picks in his first start since 2012.  Rider GM Brendan Taman said before the game, "Everybody around here thinks Kerry gives us the best chance to win" and he certainly did that.  He wasn't on the field for the kick return touchdown which really turned the tide in the game.

"I thought Kerry was awesome," Rider coach Corey Chamblin said in his postgame news conference. "I couldn’t ask too much out of him.  I thought he had to have help around him and he got it.  He gives us a chance.  When you look in his eyes, there was always a look that we could win it.  That’s what you want."

Offensive coordinator George Cortez's playcalling won't be questioned this week as they passed 36 times and rushed the ball on 19 occasions.  Running back Will Ford rushed for just 27 yards on nine carries and was attacked each and every time he got a touch.  There may have been some rust there as he hasn't been used regularly in over a month.  It remains to be seen if he'll be the workhorse down the stretch since Anthony Allen was a late scratch due to back spasms.

3 - Like I said, there are a million different opinions on the Riders right now.  One of the guys in the photo above, my buddy Yoda (in the black shirt), figures the Riders won't win another game the rest of the way.  He said it with a smile on his face so it was tough to argue and maybe he'll be right?  The fact is nobody knows how this 2014 campaign is going to turn out.  However whether it's Durant or Joseph pulling the trigger, I think this team still has a chance to win it all.  But they need to get back to being the scrappy team we came to love in the first half.  Sunday's effort was a step in the right direction.

4 - The comments in the Mosaic Place Recap on this blog are purely entertaining.  Are these people loony or just into the sauce?  One guy was calling for the firing of Rider President Jim Hopson.  That's interesting since he'll be retiring in just a few months.  Again, the 24 hours after a loss are always when people are the most heated.  Unfortunately the nutjobs detract from the reasoned commenters.  Which ones should you listen to when they're all anonymous?


5 - So the 13-2 Calgary Stampeders are next for the Riders as the two West Division foes will collide at McMahon Stadium Friday night in a 7:30 kickoff.  With first-place clinched for another year by the Stamps, you have to wonder if coach John Hufnagel will rest some guys.  With second place out of reach for the Riders, you have to wonder about their approach as well.  The game will likely be used as another tune up for the playoffs and we now know the Riders will be going on the road in the 2014 postseason.  All that remains is whether or not it's through the West or through the East.

It's interesting to note that the Stampeders have had the good fortune of beating Edmonton twice (without Mike Reilly), the Bombers once (without Drew Willy) and will face Saskatchewan twice without having to face Darian Durant.  Don't forget that whenever the Stampeders have won the Grey Cup over the past 20 years, they haven't had to face Saskatchewan in the playoffs.

It will be interesting to see what happens between now and November 30.

6 - The Regina Thunder's season is over.  They fell 20-17 at home to the Calgary Colts Saturday night to end their quest of repeating as CJFL champions.  Congrats on a fine season however.

7 - What a disastrous season for the U of R Rams.  They've been close, but not quite good enough in too many games this season and currently sit at 1-5 following Saturday's 33-32 loss at UBC.  A late rouge was the difference.  The Rams aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet but need to sweep their two remaining home games.  Perhaps Saturday's game will be known more for the technical difficulties Scruffy had trying to get the broadcast on 620 CKRM.  He ended up calling the game over his cell phone.  Marco Ricci was there for the colour commentary but wasn't used.  He went all that way for nothing.  What a shame.

8 - The Regina Pats open a brand new week sitting fourth in the WHL East at 5-5-1.  They were routed 5-1 in Calgary on Sunday completing their weekend road trip at 1-2-0.  They played three games in three nights in Kootenay, Lethbridge and Calgary.  That's an insane schedule and were likely out of gas by Sunday's stop in the Saddledome.  And on Tuesday they host the Portland Winterhawks where I'll be hosting a bunch of Roughriders plus the Tony Roma's staff in the Molson Box.  The Pats are paying for their lax early schedule now.

9 - Leave it to a guy from Wilcox, SK to do in the Arizona Coyotes.  Wilcox's Jaeden Schwartz netted his first NHL hattrick and added an assist as well his St. Louis Blues routed the Coyotes 6-1 Saturday night at Gila Riva Arena to end the Coyotes' season-opening homestand.  Other than that, it wasn't a real exciting weekend in the NHL, from what I saw.

10 - Catch Houston at Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football tonight at the Press Box Sports Bar.  You can get a full rib dinner (which is excellent) for just $9.99 plus you'll have a chance to win a Texans or Steelers jersey.  Kickoff is 6:30 pm.

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Here are the postgame comments of 26-year Roughrider radio analyst Carm Carteri on 620 CKRM.

"A lot of people didn't give the Roughriders a lot of hope against an Edmonton team that was fighting to host the Western Semifinal in Edmonton.  We all hoped that Kerry Joseph could give this offense a little bit of hope and he did.  He threw two touchdown passes and I thought moved the ball pretty well.  Were there some plays he wished he could have back?  Of course.  But this was a game that the Riders needed to show their fans that they'd fight to the end and they did that.

"I think there's a glimmer of hope for this football team with Kerry Joseph.  Not for next year, it's for next week which will be in Calgary and then again back here November 8 against Edmonton.  The Riders had a good game plan in here today.  They allowed Kerry to throw the ball downfield and I was impressed with a lot of his passes.  The problem is you start the third quarter and you allow a 95-yard kickoff return."

I pointed out that Joseph wasn't on the field for that meltdown.

"That's the big thing for this football team!" Carm continued.  "Plays like that hurt this team.  Not the lack of offense or their quarterback.  Is there room for improvement?  Of course there is.  Is there a glimmer of hope for this team?  Yes there is because this was a pretty good football game and it never really got away from this Rider football team until late in the fourth quarter on that Mike Reilly run. But there were other factors in this game that led to this defeat, not the play of Kerry Joseph.  So I do see some positive signs."

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Roughrider General Manager Brendan Taman joined us on CKRM's pregame show as he always does weekly and discussed the lack of production with back-up quarterbacks Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege since Durant's absence.  Keep in mind this interview aired before Sunday's game.

"You know it's frustrating because when you look at Tino, when he's started games, he hasn't been very good," Taman said.  "When he's come off the bench he's been excellent.  How that gets translated to when he starts, I have no idea.  From my chair, when he has the ability to show it, he does at times but he hasn't been consistent.  And Seth didn't really shine when he had a chance.

"When you have young quarterbacks it can go either way.  I know people out there look at Bo-Levi Mitchell or Jonathan Crompton (and their early success) but this is a team game.  I think we need guys around the quarterback to make plays on both sides of the ball.  Our defense needs to take away the ball or get a stop and our receivers need to make a catch or the quarterback needs to throw the ball accurately.

"It's disappointing to me because I really thought that one or both would be okay and we wouldn't have to get to this with Kerry but we are and that's where it's at and we have to move on."

Despite the losses, the time has flown by since Darian Durant's injury at Winnipeg on September 7 and we're already at the stage where Durant will be on the roster for Friday's game at Calgary.

"When you do this show you get some inside information and he's actually been throwing in the locker room to be honest with you," Taman reported.  "So you're gonna see him develop a little bit more as the weeks go on and from talking to him Friday, we're right on course with a lot of what we've been saying all along.  I know a lot of people are out there waiting to see what's going to happen with him but I foresee him playing in the last game of the year.  I really do if everything keeps going the way it's going."

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: WEEK 7 IN THE NFL

If it seems as if NFL records are broken or tied every week this season, well, that's because they are.

And not just by Peyton Manning.

Yes, Manning generated the most talked-about mark Sunday, topping Brett Favre's old record of 508 career touchdown passes by getting to 510 with four in Denver's 42-17 victory over San Francisco at night - and, according to receiver Demaryius Thomas, even orchestrating the way some Broncos teammates teasingly played keep-away with the football caught for No. 509 by Thomas.

Manning, making all of those neck operations seem like a distant memory, actually added to another record of his, too: It was his 33rd game with four passing TDs.

Earlier Sunday, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers had his fourth game in a row with zero interceptions and at least three TD tosses, tying Tom Brady for the longest such run. Seattle's Russell Wilson became the first player in NFL history with 300 yards passing and 100 yards running in the same game.

And showing that running backs still can matter in the modern game, DeMarco Murray helped Dallas improve to 6-1 by gaining 128 yards on 26 carries, making him the first player to run for at least 100 yards in each of a season's first seven games.

In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season's seventh Sunday:

BOLD FISHER: Holding onto a two-point lead, facing fourth-and-3 at their 18 with about 3 minutes left, the Rams lined up in punt formation, of course. But coach Jeff Fisher had punter Johnny Hekker throw a pass - and the bold call resulted in an 18-yard completion for a first down and a chance to run out the clock in a 28-26 victory over Seattle. Earlier, the Rams got a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown from Stedman Bailey, when Tavon Austin, their usual returner, lured most of Seattle's coverage unit by pretending to be tracking the ball near the opposite sideline.

FOCUS ON OFFICIALS: With all the penalties being called, officials are getting plenty of attention - and a couple of players were ejected Sunday after making contact with a guy in stripes. Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly left a loss to Green Bay, and Colts linebacker Erik Walden was kicked out of a victory against Cincinnati. Saints coach Sean Payton made clear how he felt after his team was whistled for a dozen penalties in its 24-23 loss at Detroit: "I wasn't happy with how that game was officiated.''

SAINTS' ROAD WOES: The Saints are unbeaten at home so far but simply can't win on the road: They've dropped seven regular-season games in a row away from New Orleans - including four in 2014 - after blowing a 13-point lead in the last four minutes at Detroit. Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose late interception set up the Lions' final score, said: ``The worst feeling in professional sports is when you feel like you let your team down.'' The Bears, meanwhile, have the opposite problem: They can't win at home. A 27-14 loss to Miami left Chicago with an 0-3 record at Soldier Field, where shouting could be heard coming from the locker room before reporters were allowed in.

AILING ATLANTA: The Falcons are reeling. They have lost four games in a row - and five of six - and each by at least 10 points. A 29-7 defeat at Baltimore on Sunday was also the fourth consecutive time Atlanta scored fewer points than the game before, going from 56 to 28 to 20 to 13 to seven.

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We'll break Sunday's game down on the SportsCage's Rider Monday at 4:00 pm.  Mike Abou-Mechrek and I will chair the affair and we'll be joined by football maven John Lynch and blogger CFL Joe from Ottawa.

Don't forget the Regina Pats are home to the Portland Winterhawks Tuesday at 7 pm on 620 CKRM.  We'll see you there!

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HAVE A GREAT WEEK
RP
@sportscage

(With files from the Canadian Press)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

MOSAIC PLAC RECAP: ESKIMOS 24 ROUGHRIDERS

REGINA (CP) - The Edmonton Eskimos landed three staggering blows on Sunday, all of which helped to bring down the Saskatchewan Roughriders on their home field.

Kendial Lawrence, Mike Reilly and the Eskimos' defensive unit all played pivotal roles in Edmonton's second straight victory, a 24-19 triumph over the Riders at Mosaic Stadium.

It was Reilly and the Edmonton offence that delivered the knockout punch midway through the fourth quarter.  Reilly orchestrated an 84-yard touchdown drive that proved to be the decisive points in the come-from-behind win _ one that improved the Eskimos' record to 11-5. The veteran quarterback called his own number on the touchdown, a five-yard run that saw him dive across the goal-line for the score to make it 24-13.

"We didn't execute all that well in the first half and (Saskatchewan) was giving us a bunch of different looks that they hadn't shown all year and it confused us a little bit,'' said Reilly, whose team trailed 13-4 at halftime. "But we started to execute our plays in the second half and started to figure out what they were doing.''

Reilly threw for 260 yards on the day, including 177 yards in the second half.

A late touchdown reception by the Riders' Korey Williams brought the home team to within five, but the two-point convert failed and the Riders' offence never touched the ball again.

The Eskimos' special teams delivered the first punch of the second half in the form of a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Lawrence, a play that opened the third quarter. Edmonton's defence quieted the Riders' faithful and shut out quarterback Kerry Joseph and the Saskatchewan offence until the game's final minute.

"It was huge,'' Reilly said of Lawrence's kickoff return. "It seems like every time we need a spark we've got it, whether it's our defence causing a turnover, or special teams scoring for us or giving us good field position. We just feed off of each other, and when two of the three units needs a push then the third one usually provides it.''

The kickoff return for a touchdown was the fifth touchdown the Riders have allowed on special teams this season.

Joseph, playing in his first game in more than a year, started at quarterback for the Riders and provided a spark in the first half. The 42-year-old found slotback Brett Swain for a 17-yard touchdown. Swain made a pretty diving catch in the end zone for the only major score in the first half.

Chris Milo kicked a 17-yard field goal and the Riders, who have lost four straight games, enjoyed a rare lead at the half. The Riders occupy third place in the West Division with a 9-7 record.

"He gave us a shot (to win),'' Riders' head coach Corey Chamblin said of Joseph's performance.

Joseph finished the day 17 for 36 passing for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a pair of interceptions.

Chamblin said Joseph will start on Friday in Calgary against the first-place Stampeders, but this is the week that injured quarterback Darian Durant is eligible to return from the six-game injured list. Durant had surgery about a month ago to repair a torn tendon in right elbow.

"You can't just wait to turn it up when Darian gets back. That's crap,'' Foley added. "We had a chance to win today and you just have to make the plays.''

Saskatchewan's offence again struggled to incorporate slotback Weston Dressler into their attack. Dressler managed just two catches for 31 yards on Sunday and has been limited to 10 receptions in his past four games.

Adarius Bowman caught six passes for 111 yards and broke the Eskimos' single-season reception record, set in 1990 by Craig Ellis. Bowman leads the CFL in catches with 107. The CFL record for catches in a season is 160, set by Derrell Mitchell in 1998.

"He has taken a big step in his career in maturing this off-season and mentally understanding the big role he needs to play in this offence,'' Reilly said. "He has taken the initiative and it's not me asking the receivers to get together to talk. That's all on Adarius now. It's nice to see him turn into that veteran playmaker.''

Edmonton has a bye this week.

HITMEN 5 PATS 1

CALGARY, AB - Defenceman Travis Sanheim had three points, scoring twice and adding an assist, to lead the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-1 win over the Regina Pats Sunday evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
After a scoreless first period, the Hitmen offence tallied back-to-back powerplay goals less than four minutes apart to build a 2-0 lead before the mid-way mark of the second period.  The first came from Sanheim, the second from Pavel Karnaukhov while Sanheim added another goal at even strength before the end of the frame to extend the Calgary lead to 3-0 after 40 minutes.
 
In the third, Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk put the Pats on the board before Radel Fazleev and Carsen Twarynski rounded out the scoring for the Hitmen.  Fazleev added an assist to finish the game with two points (1g, 1a) while Greg Chase also had a two-point outing with two assists.
 
Calgary outshot the Pats 30-20 with Evan Johnson making 19 saves to record the win.  Daniel Wapple made 25 saves in the loss.
 
The Hitmen have now won three of their last four games to improve to 6-4-0-1 while Regina falls to 5-5-1-0.

(Courtesy Brad Curle)

PAT C'S SWEEP ROAD WEEKEND

The Regina Pat Canadians were on the road for a pair this weekend as they beat the Blackhawks in Beardy's 7-2 Saturday and the Mintos 6-0 in P.A. on Sunday.

On Saturday at Beardy's, scoring for Regina were Jake Tesarowski (2-1-3) with singles from Bryce Platt, Ryan Roberts, Tyran Brown, Riley Woods and Arthur Miller.

Clarke Flegel stopped 30 of 32 shots directed his way in earning the victory.

The Beardy's Blackhawks goal scorers were Chase Daniels and Nick Shumlanski.

Curtis Meger earned the shutout on Sunday stopping all 18 shots in P.A.

The goal scorers for the Pat Canadians were Blake Dempsey with a single and two assists, Connor Chaulk, Arthur Miller, Bryce Platt, Mark Edmands and Owen Sillinger. Ty Barnstable added two assists.

The Pat Canadians are on the road again on Tuesday, October 21st when they travel to Swift Current to play the Legionnaires.

The next home game for the Regina Pat Canadians is Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 4:30 PM vs the Tisdale Trojans.
(Courtesy John Smith)

MULLINDER'S WEEK 17 PRIMER

By: Luc Mullinder
Believe this … It’s a 42 man effort.

This is a production based business.  Kerry Joseph is going to be the startinq quarterback for the 2014 Saskatchewan Roughriders until a better chance to win football games presents itself in the minds of the coaching staff.  Joseph gets the start on Sunday when the Roughriders host the Edmonton Eskimos at 2 pm on TSN and 620 CKRM.

We can all quit debating whether it’s the right move or not.  For every argument one can make towards developing the young talent on this team; there are just as many rebuttals as to why playing Joseph is the way to go.

Me?  I feel like the organization is handcuffed, and as much as I’d rather see Kerry Joseph under centre versus the other QBs in the Riders' stable, I am very realistic as to what that means moving forward.

The bottom line here is that the young QBs on this roster weren’t ready to contribute consistently on a professional level, and KJ gives the team a slightly better chance to win on Sunday.

What gives Joseph the edge over our younger guys?  Well the obvious answers here are confidence and experience.  But isn’t a 41 year old QB SUPPOSED to have the edge in that category when you compare them to pups?  As outsiders, we cannot expect a fairy tale game from #5 where he throws the squad on his shoulders and carries us into the sunset.  That would be unfair.  In order for the Riders to win on Sunday, it’s going to have to be as a team -- where Kerry plays the role of facilitator, rather than playmaker on offence.

There’s going to be a very deliberate scheme by which the Edmonton Eskimos operate when it comes time to defend against a KJ-led offence.  Obviously Edmonton will try and stifle the running attack of the green and white, and if they’re successful with that task, there may be a couple of ways they choose to deal with the 2nd and long downs.   I wouldn’t be surprised if the Esks send more than 1 extra guy when they choose to blitz, maybe 2 or 3.  Teams have been successful against Joseph in the past by making him rush into his decision process.

Another possible card the Esks can play is perhaps showing a blitz look, sending an extra guy, but dropping into zone coverages.   Either way, teams that have been successful against Kerry are the teams that have sped up the game in front of him and made an already shaky QB, in terms of accuracy, throw the ball under duress.

Now that we said all of that, and in keeping with the “Kerry needs to be a facilitator” theme, let's take a look at some of the guys that will help immensely when it comes to putting the team in a position to win.

Offensive Line

Getting Mike Reilly and the playmakers of the Edmonton offence off the field will be as much on the Offense as it is on the defence.  The Riders have to string together a few first downs consistently, especially early on, and that will require a mammoth effort from the Riders' front 5.  Dan Clark will be in tough all day with the likes of Sewell and Steele testing his technique every down.  Both Edmonton DTs are super athletic, but they’re also very smart players that have made good use of the film available to them when it comes to scouting their opponent.

The entire CFL is still wondering what they’re feeding Odell Willis, but this kid is playing off the meat rack!  I’d chalk it up to great coaching more than I would Odell wanting to get his act together, but whatever it is, he’s probably the best End in the league right now.  Fortunately the Riders have a pretty decent response to Odell Willis in the shape of Ben Heenan and Levy Adcock.

Adcock has the makings of a star: he plays mean with solid technique. The more the 25 year old plays, the better he is getting and he’s gaining the confidence of everyone in the locker room, coaching staff included.  As for Ben Heenan, he has very quietly become one of the CFL’s best Offensive Tackles.

The Riders need to be physical with Willis.  He’ll shut down after a constant barrage of physical plays, so whenever the Riders run the ball or can “jump set” #41 on passing downs, the one necessary procedure is getting after Odell Willis violently and with bad intentions.

We’ve talked about the line needing to set the tone all year.  Never has it been more necessary over the course of the last few games.  I’ll let you be the judge regarding the performances up until now Ridernation, but with Kerry Joseph at the helm, in order to keep the newly found confidence at a high point, our hoggies need to physically dominate.

Front Seven

In order to be successful against any opponent, teams have to eliminate the “big play.”  Typically these are plays that go for more than 15+ yards and usually affect field position in a negative way (defensively speaking).

The last time that Edmonton was the opponent, big plays against the Rider defence seemed to come in droves but it wasn’t really about WHAT the Esks were running; it was more about HOW they were having their success.  On more than one occasion, the Rider defence, specifically the front seven, were caught out of position.

Whether it was the defensive line failing to balance their rush lanes and giving Reilly a lane to run through, or one of our linebackers over-pursuing their tackling angles and getting beat; there were things on film that stuck out as fundamental mistakes.

It wasn’t that the Eskimos were imposing their will on our guys -- being physically bullied isn’t something that is easily fixed.  Luckily the deficiencies from the last meeting between these two squads are of a mental nature.  These types of mistakes can be remedied with ease.

The defensive unit of the Riders has had all week to rewind and make note of things that need to be improved on from the first game.  The result may look incredibly different if the Saskatchewan defence doesn’t make the mental mistakes they did in Commonwealth Stadium.  It's one thing to have a good QB make all the throws, but it’s another thing entirely too just let an opponent off the hook.  If the Riders have them pinned down, they need to finish this week.  #BottomLine

Secondary

This isn’t an actual, “they need to be better” deal.  This is more of a “don’t stray from what’s made you successful” statement.  This is a group that cannot afford to question the way they go about their routines.

Last week's game was a bit misleading.  Montreal did get a few good plays off through the air however some of their plays were just Jonathon Crompton throwing the ball into the air, and their big receivers playing the jump ball.  There were no patterns, no earth shattering routes being run, it was just simple math; the bigger guy with the longer arms won.  The Riders can’t let that discourage them.  They need to continue to be the aggressors out there on their individual islands and continue having fun.  The moment that stops, is the moment where everything will slide.

If teams want to beat the Riders by lofting the ball at the sticks and having the big guys go get it, then the Wolf Pack will eventually get their due and start creating INTs.

#NoChangingFormulas

So it’s Kerry Joseph at the helm for the 2014 Saskatchewan Roughriders.  It is what it is and the need for everyone around the QB position to elevate their game is still present.  Does George Cortez open up his playbook a little more with Joseph in the huddle?  Who knows.  If he does open up things a little bit, I doubt it will be through the air.  This is still a team that has built its foundation on the run game and the fact that KJ is not one's prototypical pocket passer doesn’t bode well for those expecting the long ball.

The immediate beneficiaries to Joseph’s presence are the receivers that operate in the slot.  There may be chances for big plays if the Riders can hit the routes that lie underneath the zones that Edmonton may drop in to.  Cortez hasn’t called for screens and draws persistently this season however, those calls may help immensely against the up field pressure of the Eskimo defensive front.

The order for the day…Keep it simple.  Let the QB call the plays and have his teammates do the heavy lifting.  The weight of the world should not be on Kerry Joseph's shoulders.  It also should not have been on Tino Sunseri’s shoulders either, but hey … it certainly seemed to finish that way.

This season isn’t lost by any stretch of the imagination.  Things just have to be done differently.  The one advantage of having KJ here is that the Riders may now have the ability to do the different things with a lot more confidence in the huddle.  How far that confidence goes, remains to be seen.

Maybe that’s where the belief factor finally comes into play.  It’s not about the belief of those in Ridernation (as helpful as that is). It’s the belief from guys on the field.  If they continue to believe in each other, they have a chance.

Cheers to the boys finding a way.

#ProPerspective