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Sunday, January 21, 2018

DARIAN EXPLAINS SIGNING WITH THE BOMBERS


Darian Durant thinks he'll be fine in unfamiliar territory.

The veteran quarterback signed a one-year contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday to be the backup to starter Matt Nichols.

It's been a long time since the 35-year-old headed into a season in that role. His 12-year CFL career includes 11 seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and last year with the Montreal Alouettes.

"I don't think it'll be difficult at all,'' Durant said Sunday on a conference call.

"When I first started my career, I was a practice-squad guy, then I was a third-stringer, then I was a backup, so I had to work my way up.

"I think that everybody on a team has a role. I'm looking at this as, 'Where can my talents be best served?' ''

The answer for him is offering his experience on and off the field.

"I just want to come in and help out Matt as much as I can and just have a role with the team, whether it's in meetings, whether it's short yardage,'' Durant said.

"Whatever the case may be, just come in and bring my veteran presence and just try and bring a Grey Cup to Winnipeg.''

Durant said the Bombers were one of three teams that approached him since the Alouettes released him last week. He was reportedly about to receive a $150,000 bonus and the Als had tried to restructure his three-year contract.

The five-foot-11 North Carolina product began his CFL career in 2006 with the Roughriders. He was a backup for the team's 2007 Grey Cup championship, led them to title games in 2009 and 2010 and won as the starter in 2013. He suffered an elbow injury in 2014 and tore his Achilles tendon in the first game of 2015.

He played 15 games in 2016, but the injury-riddled 'Riders went 5-13 and Durant was traded to Montreal in January 2017 after a new deal couldn't get done.

He wasn't the saviour for the floundering Alouettes.

Montreal finished 3-15, losing its last 11 games. Durant threw for 3,233 yards in 15 games, but his 16 interceptions eclipsed his 15 touchdowns.

"Looking at the locker-room in Winnipeg, I just wanted to get into a work environment where I was happy every day and I saw this as that opportunity because the past couple years have been very troubling and it's been a tough time for me,'' Durant said.

He declined to go into specifics about what went wrong in Montreal.

"It's just been a tough time over there,'' Durant said. "There have been so many coaches, different guys in and out of the lineup.

"It's hard to build that stability when there's so much change. I love what (Montreal general manager) Kavis (Reed) is doing. I think he has those guys going in a great direction, but I just saw going elsewhere as a better fit for me at this time.''

Durant said he has spoken to Nichols and told him he'll support him any way he can.

Nichols took over as Winnipeg's starter in July 2016 and has led the team to a 21-9 record and back-to-back playoff appearances.

Last October, Nichols broke the ring finger on his throwing hand and also suffered a strained calf. He missed the final regular-season win (12-6), but played in the West Division semifinal loss to Edmonton.

In a press release after signing Durant, Bombers GM Kyle Walters said the team wanted to "solidify depth'' behind Nichols.

Backup pivot Dan LeFevour is a pending free agent and the team has Dominique Davis under contract, as well as prospects Philip Nelson and Josh Straughan.

Despite having to pack his bags for a new football home again, Durant said he never thought about retiring.

"Not at all,'' he said with a chuckle. "I feel like the body feels good. I feel like I have a lot of football left in me so it never crossed my mind.''

Durant will begin the 2018 season with 31,740 career passing yards on his resume, ranking him 14th on the league's all-time passing yards list.

(Canadian Press/Judy Owen)

COORS LIGHT RECAP: BLADES TOP PATS 4-3 IN OT

SaskatoonBlades.com
SASKATOON – The Regina Pats dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre.

The Blades scored the game’s first two goals in the opening period, but Jesse Gabrielle got one back late in the frame, his fifth of the year and it was 2-1.

In the second, Cameron Hebig tied it up with his 32nd and then Sam Steel gave the Pats their first lead with his 17th and it was 3-2 heading to the third.

In the final frame, Evan Fiala tied it up for Saskatoon which eventually forced overtime in a 3-3 tie.

In the extra frame, Eric Florchuk tipped home the winner and gave the Blades the extra point in a 4-3 final.

The Pats outshot Saskatoon 50-30 in the defeat, the powerplay was oh for four and the penalty kill was one for one.

Sam Steel and Cameron Hebig led the offence with a goal and an assist each while Max Paddock made 26 saves.

Nolan Maier made 45 saves in the Blades goal to collect the win.

Quick Hits
- Cameron Hebig scored a goal and added an assist in his first game against his former team.
- Max Paddock returned from injury and got his first start since December 27 in Brandon.
- The Pats are now 8-3-2-0 in 12 games since the Christmas break.

What’s Next?
The Pats (24-20-5) will host a rematch with the Blades on Wednesday night at the Brandt Centre at 7 p.m.  Tickets are available at reginapats.com and the Brandt Centre Box office.

(Phil Andrews/ReginaPats.com)

DURANT SIGNS WITH WINNIPEG


WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers added veteran depth to the quarterback position by signing Darian Durant to a one-year contract on Saturday night.
Durant, a 12-year CFL veteran, is expected to play behind starter Matt Nichols.
"One of our objectives this off-season was to solidify depth at the quarterback position behind Matt Nichols,'' Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said in a release.
"Not only is Darian a veteran player in our league, but he brings a wealth of experience to our quarterback room and our locker-room. In many facets, it's a great addition for us, and we welcome Darian to the Bomber organization.''
The 35-year-old Durant spent last season with the Montreal Alouettes after 10 years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Montreal released him on Monday - a day before he was due to receive a $150,000 bonus. Durant signed a three-year, $1.25-million deal with Montreal after being acquired from the Roughriders.
The Alouettes struggled to a CFL-worst 3-15 record in 2017 and missed the playoffs for a third straight season. Durant threw for 3,233 yards with 15 TDs, but also had 16 interceptions.
He led Saskatchewan to three Grey Cup appearances and a Grey Cup victory in 2013.
(Canadian Press)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

RUSH FALL 16-15 IN OT TO BUFFALO

SASKATOON - Pat Saunders scored 1:46 into overtime as the Buffalo Bandits came from behind to hand Saskatchewan its first loss of the National Lacrosse League season, beating the Rush 16-15 on Friday.

Mitch Jones had three goals and seven assists while Dhane Smith had four goals and five helpers to pace the Bandits (3-3). Jordan Durston scored twice and added six assists, Vaughn Harris had two goals and two assists, Nick Weiss struck twice, Josh Byrne had one goal and four assists while Craig England scored once to round out the scoring.

Mark Matthews had two goals and six assists, Robert Church had a hat trick and two assists and Ben McIntosh scored three times as the Rush (4-1) built up a 6-0 lead after the first quarter and a 9-3 advantage at the half before a second-half collapse.

Chris Corbeil and Ryan Keenen also scored twice while Mike Messenger, Jeremy Thompson and Jeff Shattler added singles.

Zach Higgins earned the win after stopping 34-of-45 shots for Buffalo, which scored seven fourth-quarter goals to force overtime. Evan Kirk made 42 saves in defeat.


COORS LIGHT RECAP: WARRIORS 5 PATS 3

Keith Hershmiller Photography
REGINA - A tough first period was the difference as the Pats fell 5-3 at home to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday night.

The Warriors led 4-0 after the opening 20, outshooting Regina 21-8 in the process.

The Pats responded in the second with a powerplay goal from Jesse Gabrielle, his fourth of the year, and it was 4-1 after two.

In the third, Moose Jaw got the lead to 5-1 with Jayden Halbgewachs potted his 50th of the season.

Josh Mahura would then score twice for the Pats, his 15th and 16th tallies of the year to make it a 5-3 game and that was the final score.

The Pats outshot Moose Jaw 37-16 in the final 40 minutes and outscored them 3-1, but could not complete the comeback.

Regina outshot the Warriors 45-37, the powerplay was two for four and the penalty kill one for three.

Josh Mahura led the way with two goals and an assist while Ryan Kubic made 32 saves.

Quick Hits
- The Pats outshot Moose Jaw 37-16 and outscored them 3-1 in the final two periods.
- Sam Steel has points in seven straight games with four goals and seven assists in that stretch.
- Josh Mahura has four goals and six assists in his last four games.

What’s Next?
The Pats (24-14-0) are right back at it Saturday in Saskatoon against the Blades at 7 p.m. on 620 CKRM. Next home game is Wednesday against Saskatoon at 7 p.m. at the Brandt Centre. Tickets are available at reginapats.com and the Brandt Centre Box office.

(Phil Andrews/ReginaPats.com)

Friday, January 19, 2018

RIDERS, COLLAROS AGREE TO NEW DEAL

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced international quarterback Zach Collaros has agreed to a new contract for the 2018 season.  

The Riders recently acquired Collaros in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The 29-year-old University of Cincinnati product is a veteran of six CFL seasons. After spending his first two years with the Toronto Argonauts, Collaros signed with Hamilton in January, 2014 as a free agent.

Over the last four seasons with the Ti-Cats, Collaros has completed 930 of 1,396 passes (66.6%) for 11,342 yards and 66 touchdowns in starting 43 of 53 regular-season games. He also started two playoff games and the 2014 Grey Cup. 

Collaros was named the Tiger-Cats’ nominee as Most Outstanding Player in 2014 and 2015.      

He won his first career Grey Cup in 2012 as a backup quarterback with Toronto.

SCRUFFY'S THIS 'N THAT

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

-  First off, best of wishes to former Rider Don Narcisse after word he has been diagnosed with Stage 1 of Prostate Cancer.  We are all pulling for you and hope this can be put in the rear-view mirror a-s-a-p. Rider Nation is behind you Narco!

- Was anyone surprised to see Kevin Glenn land on his feet?  Say what you will about KG, but he showed people last year he can still play.  The question now is can he stay afloat in the CFL until the Atlantic Schooners come on board seeing he has completed the CFL circle? I say Kevin has had a hall-of-fame career and will get there. 

In baseball, you go in wearing a team's cap.  If KG had that, what team would he take?   My guess is Winnipeg! Would it be safe to say Glenn is the only athlete to have accomplished playing for every team in a professional league.  Considering the CFL doesn't have the teams the other pro leagues have, the answer would have to be yes!

-- I wonder what a sit-down would be like between Kevin Glenn and Mike Sillinger.  It's not as if both wouldn't have stories about travelling from team to team. Sillinger would probably look at him and say you ain't done nothin' compared to me kid.

-- Was anyone surprised to see Darian Durant get released by Montreal?  I think we all knew what choice Darian would make after getting a take it or leave it ultimatum from the Alouettes.  In all honesty, Darian likely wanted out and to get away from that tire-fire as quickly as possible.  Does he have a CFL home though?

Darian will have to eat some humble pie and realize his days as a full-time starter are likely done and with that comes the big salary as well.  I'm guessing he could still command a six-figure salary, but it would be nowhere near the six figures he was making.  Winnipeg would appear to be the best landing spot for him and I'm sure he wouldn't mind the opportunity to throw to Weston Dressler and be in a Paul Lapolice offence again.  I still think though if Ricky Ray retires that he ends up in Toronto backing up an unproven James Franklin and working with someone who has gotten older QB's like Anthony Calvillo and Ray to have a renaissance in their careers---and that is Marc Trestman.

-- Tell me there isn't excitement for tonight's tilt at the Brandt Centre between the Warriors and Pats.  The new-look Pats want to send a message to Moose Jaw.  The Warriors want to let the Pats know that rebuilding their team meant squat as far as they are concerned.  It should be to quote the great Ed Whalen "a ring-a-ding-dong dandy"!

-- The Regina Pats solidified their hockey operations staff with the multi-year contract extensions signed by John Paddock, Dave Struch and Brad Herauf.  What these three have done for the organization simply can't be measured in wins and losses.  They have helped make this organization the envy of many in the Western Hockey League and one of the flagship franchises.   This trio have worked together to devise a plan and vision for this team which is being met.  Yes, part of that plan was winning a championship---one they were oh so close to last year, but being oh so close was better than not having a sniff at one as we had seen for the last many years.  This is nothing but good news for Regina hockey fans.

-- Will WHL fans be able to enjoy playoff hockey this year?  Thanks to the bone-headed decision by those at SHAW to get rid of sports programming, will we be able to watch the battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup play itself out in our living rooms as it has for the past number of years.. Access has picked up the ball by having many Pats games, but will they want to go to Swift Current or Moose Jaw if that is where the final is this year and would they send a crew to whatever Western Conference team is playing.  It may happen in the East, but not in the West.  Here's hoping someone steps in to fill the void because as we have seen over the years, the WHL final and the entire playoffs is must-see hockey.

-- I don't see the New England Patriots losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home on Sunday in the AFC Championship, but the Patriots will be dealing with their Kryptonite in a way. The man that beat them twice in the Super Bowl--Tom Coughlin-- is the executive director of football operations for the Jags. He knows how to win, and he knows how to beat the Patriots. Do you think he has been sharing some nuggets of wisdom with the team this week.

For what it's worth, this Jags D reminds me a lot of the young Seahawks D when they were starting to enter their prime.  Remember Richard Sherman coming up to Tom Brady after the Seahawks beat the Patriots in Seattle and said " Why you so mad Bro?".  That's when guys like Sherman, Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner were just starting to become household names.  Jalen Ramsey is the new Richard Sherman. He is as loquacious and as brash as Sherman and he is just as good as are several other members of that Jacksonville D.  Can they pull off an upset. It wouldn't surprise me, but I still have New England by a touchdown.

-- There is no way the Vikings game can be as exciting as last week's.  They should have no problem in beating the Eagles right? That's what we said about Atlanta!  The Eagles will have a distinct homefield advantage.  If the Nick Foles that beat Atlanta comes out again, Philly could very well ruin the after-effects of the Minneapolis Miracle.   I will take the Vikings though.

-- If Pats hockey isn't on your Friday night agenda, may I suggest U of R Cougars basketball?  They will be home to Brandon starting with the ladies game at 6 followed by men.   If that doesn't interest you, the stars of High Impact Wrestling are doing their thing at the Hungarian Club.  It's been a long time since I've been to Gronkville. Too long!

-- Have a great weekend! I know I will!