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Friday, October 31, 2014

PATS 5 BLADES 2


REGINA -- Patrick D'Amico notched two goals and an assist to the lead the Regina Pats to a 5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades on Hallowe'en night in the Brandt Centre.  With the victory, the Pats have collected back-to-back home wins.

Regina led 2-0 after the first period and 4-1 heading into the third.  Regina's other goals came from jared McAmmond, Connor Gay and Pavel Padakin (EN).  Regina outshot Saskatoon 39-25 including 15-4 in the first period.

Daniel Wapple stopped 23 of 25 shots to earn the win in the Regina goal as the Pats went 2/6 on the powerplay and 5/6 killing penalties.  The announced attendance was 3,072.

Regina (7-8-1) is back on home ice Saturday night when they welcome the Swift Current Broncos in a 7:00 faceoff (6:35 pm Press Box Sports Bar Pregame Show).

TICATS 34 REDBLACKS 25

OTTAWA (CP) - It wasn't the way the Ottawa Redblacks wanted their final home game of their inaugural season to play out, but it ended in very similar fashion to most other games at TD Place this season.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a special teams touchdown and two defensive touchdowns Friday night in a 34-25 win over the Redblacks, who finish the year with two wins in nine home games.

"This is the way it's been all season and you don't want to get complacent or be happy about losing. They all sting,'' defensive lineman Keith Shologan said.

"We had some mistakes that cost us big time but there were some positives. The offence moved the ball and scored, we just had some plays that didn't go our way on both sides of the ball.''

Both Ottawa quarterbacks, Henry Burris and Danny O'Brien, threw a pick six while their counterpart Zach Collaros tossed a touchdown pass and no interceptions.

The Tiger-Cats (8-9) needed the win because they close out the regular season next week against the Montreal Alouettes (8-8) while the Toronto Argonauts (7-9) host the Redblacks (2-15).

With the West Division having already claimed the cross-over playoff berth, only two of the teams in the East Division will make the playoffs.

"We need Toronto not to win out. We're pulling for a loss this weekend, honestly,'' Tiger-Cats coach Kent Austin said.

"All we can do is take care of what we can take care of and now that's winning next week regardless of what happens in Toronto and Montreal's game this weekend. We needed to put ourselves in a position to possibly challenge for the division and get the bye week, so we'll see what happens this weekend.''

RAMS' SEASON ON THE LINE VS ALBERTA

KICKOFF: Saturday, Nov. 1 (2:00 p.m.)
SITE: Mosaic Stadium (Regina, Sask.)
CAPACITY: 33,427
RANKINGS: Alberta NR, Regina NR
TELEVISION: Access7 (Mitchell Blair/PxP, Gary "Chop" Bresch/CC)
REGINA RADIO: 620 CKRM (Michael Ball/PxP, Marco Ricci/CC)
LIVE VIDEO: www.canadawest.tv

Game Keys
• The Rams can enter the playoffs with either one of two scenarios - they can beat Alberta by at least two points combined with Manitoba (vs. Calgary) and Saskatchewan (at UBC) wins to finish fourth, or they can beat Alberta by at least 19 points combined with Calgary and UBC wins to finish third
• As well as being the final Canada West home game for retiring head coach Frank McCrystal, this will also be the last one for seven Rams in their final season of CIS eligibility - Landon Buch, Dillon Dawson, Justin Edralin, Patrick MacDonald, Jared Janotta, Cayman Shutter, and Dean Viena

SCOREBOARD WATCHING: The two other Week 8 Canada West games will also be played on Saturday - and both will help decide whether or not the Rams will reach the postseason with a victory over Alberta:
• If Calgary and UBC both win on Saturday, the Rams will finish in third place in the Canada West standings if they defeat Alberta by at least 19 points - the Rams would then play at Saskatchewan in the Canada West semifinals (Nov. 7, 7 p.m.)
• If Manitoba and Saskatchewan both win on Saturday, the Rams will finish in fourth place in the Canada West standings if they defeat Alberta by at least two points - they would then travel to Calgary for a Canada West semifinal game (Nov. 8, 2 p.m.)
• The Calgary/Manitoba game kicks off at 1 p.m. Saskatchewan time, with the Saskatchewan/UBC game scheduled for a 3 p.m. start

JANOTTA WATCH: Jared Janotta became Canada West's all-time leader in receptions last game, surpassing former teammate Mark McConkey's old record of 180. He's now got 183 with one conference game remaining in his career, which is the ninth-highest total in CIS history (see right). Janotta is also close to Chad Goldie's University of Regina record of 2458 career receiving yards, as he needs just 28 more to pass that mark.

RICHARDS REPORT: Addison Richards now has 49 catches for 803 yards this season, leading Canada West in both categories and ranking second in the nation with an average of 114.7 receiving yards per game. Richards is within reach of a pair of school single-season receiving records, including Goldie's receptions mark (54 in 2007) and Chris Bauman's yards record (923 in 2006). He's also only 10 catches away from the Canada West single-season record of 59 shared by Calgary's Josh Borger (1983) and Alberta's Tylor Henry (2013).

RAMS IN THE PROS: The Rams currently boast three former players in the NFL, including P Jon Ryan (Seattle), DL Akiem Hicks (New Orleans), and DL Stefan Charles (Buffalo). Four University of Regina products are currently on CFL active rosters, including OL Brett Jones with Calgary and SB Chris Getzlaf and OL Brendon LaBatte with Saskatchewan. FB Neal Hughes remains on Saskatchewan's six-game injured list, while SB Chris Bauman was added to Calgary's practice roster on Wednesday and DL Micheal Dadzie (Ottawa), OL Chris Mercer (Edmonton), and DL Ryan Wellman (Saskatchewan) are also on practice rosters.

CONFERENCE LEADERS: Richards leads Canada West in two major receiving categories including receptions (49) and receiving yards (774), while Noah Picton's 104-yard pass to Mitch Thompson last game stands as the longest play from scrimmage in a conference game this season. Defensive end Tyler Perkins also leads the conference with three fumble recoveries.

QUARTERBACKS
• First-year QB Noah Picton is expected to get his third start of the season - he was 17-for-24 last game for 368 yards and three TDs after replacing Cayman Shutter in the second quarter
• Picton has a 63.2% completion rate this year and has 1562 passing yards and 10 TDs
• Shutter was injured in Saturday's game while scrambling for a career-long 51-yard gain, the longest run by a quarterback in the Rams' history at the CIS level
• Frankie Gray is third on the depth chart at QB, while fourth-year SB Landon Buch usually serves as the team's quarterback in short-yardage situations

(Courtesy U of R Athletics)

RAIDERS FIRE CLOUSTON

Prince Albert, SK—  The Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League have relieved Head Coach Cory Clouston of his duties effective immediately. Clouston joined the Raiders on June 1, 2013 and was in the second year of a two year contract with the team.
 
Associate Coach Dave Manson will be the Interim Head Coach tonight when the Raiders play the Warriors in Moose Jaw.  The Raiders will name a permanent Head Coach shortly.
 
Under Clouston the Raiders had a record of 41-41-3-2 including a mark of 6-9-0-0 this season.  In 2013-14 the Raiders were 35-32-3-2 and won a WHL tie-breaker game over Red Deer under Clouston, before being swept in the first round of the playoffs by eventual Memorial Cup Cham pion Edmonton Oil Kings.
 
The Raiders return home to host the Saskatoon Blades tomorrow night at 7:00 PM at the Art Hauser Centre.

CFL THIS WEEK

HAMILTON AT OTTAWA - FRIDAY

Hamilton (7-9) could have clinched a playoff berth last weekend in Toronto but now must win its final two regular-season games to reach the post-season. The Ticats are 2-0 this season against expansion Ottawa (2-14) . Newcomer Nic Grigsby had just six yards rushing on six carries versus the Argos. It's expected the Redblacks will be auditioning talent for next year, which could pose continuity problems.

Pick - Hamilton
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WINNIPEG AT CALGARY - SATURDAY

What started so positively comes to a crashing halt for Winnipeg (6-11). The Bombers opened the season 5-1 but have just one victory since and dropped eight straight. Quarterback Drew Willy was sacked 10 times in last weekend's 28-23 loss to B.C. Calgary (14-2) has clinched first in the West and can rest key veterans but roster depth has been key for a team that's a CFL-best 7-1 at McMahon Stadium.

Pick - Calgary
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B.C. AT EDMONTON - SATURDAY

Edmonton (11-5) can clinch second in the West with a win and home field for the division semifinal. B.C. (9-7) is battling Saskatchewan for third although both teams have cemented post-season berths. Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian needs just six tackles to break the CFL single-season record of 130. Both defences are outstanding, which could lead to a low-scoring affair.

Pick - Edmonton
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TORONTO AT MONTREAL - SATURDAY

It's pretty simple for the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes on Sunday: a win equals a ticket to the playoffs.

Toronto (7-9) visits Montreal (8-8) for its first road game in five weeks. The Argos went 3-1 on a recent homestand, including a 26-24 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday that gave them the season series with their longtime rivals.

But it wasn't pretty as Toronto had four turnovers (three fumbles, interception) and was penalized 12 times. Then again, turnovers and penalties have been the Argos' nemesis all season.

A win Sunday would secure Toronto the season series, which is the tiebreaker should the Argos and Als finish with identical records. If the Argos finish the regular season by beating Montreal and then Ottawa on Nov. 7, it will take first in the East and host the division final.

Montreal can clinch a playoff berth - for the 19th straight year - with a win. And the combination of a victory over Toronto and Hamilton loss Friday night to Ottawa would give the Alouettes top spot in the East.

That would be remarkable after Montreal's dismal 1-7 start this season. The Als will conclude their regular season Nov. 8 in Hamilton against a Ticats team that's unbeaten at Tim Hortons Field.

The Als, Argos and Ticats are battling for just two East Division playoff spots as the fourth-place finisher in the West Division - B.C. or Saskatchewan - will cross over and become the third Eastern post-season seed.

Idle Saskatchewan (9-8) has clinched a playoff berth and will be on the road for either the East or West semifinal game.

Pick - Montreal
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Last week - 4-0

Overall - 50-23

(Canadian Press)

FRIDAY EYE-OPENER

The Canucks blew a 2-0 lead in the third period but Daniel Sedin's O-T goal put Vancouver in the win column. Sedin scored on the power play in extra time to give the Canucks a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Nick Bonino and Brad Richardson scored in regulation for Vancouver.

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Earlier, Patrick Sharp scored the only goal of the shootout to lift Chicago over the Senators 5-4 in Ottawa. Former Senator Marian Hossa recorded his 1,000th career N-H-L point with a goal for the Blackhawks. And in New Jersey, the Winnipeg Jets fell 2-1 in a shootout with the Devils. Jacob Josefson scored the winner.

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It wasn't exactly the homecoming Lebron James was hoping for. James poured in 17 points but was only 5-of-15 shooting as Cleveland dropped its first game of the season, 95-90 to the New York Knicks. James also committed eight turnovers in his first game in a Cavaliers jersey in four years. Kyrie Irving scored 22 points and Kevin Love added 19 points and 14 boards. Carmelo Anthony had 25 points for New York.

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New Orleans is on top of the NFC South after downing the Carolina Panthers 28-10 in the Thursday nighter. Drew Brees threw for a T-D and ran in another and Mark Ingram rushed for 100 yards and two scores. The win in Carolina snaps a seven-game road loss streak for the Saints that started last November.

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Reports say Stampeders great and prominent Calgary businessman John Forzani was put on life support in a California hospital yesterday. Family members have told a number of Calgary-based media outlets that the 67 year old had a heart attack in his sleep and was taken to Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs.

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The San Diego Padres have declined former Blue Jay Josh Johnson's $4 million option for 2015. Johnson didn't throw a pitch for the Padres in 2014 while making $8 million dollars. He suffered an elbow injury during spring training and underwent reconstructive surgery. He was 2-and-8 with a 6.60 E-R-A through 16 starts with Toronto in 2013.

(Canadian Press)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CKRM'S WEEK 19 CFL PICKS

SCHEDULE
Friday: Hamilton at Ottawa
Saturday: Winnipeg at Calgary
BC at Edmonton
Sunday: Toronto at Montreal

ANNCR/RECORD/PICKS
LUC (54-20): HAM - CGY - BC - MTL
CARM (53-21): TBD
REMPLE (53-21): HAM - CGY - BC - MTL
SHARKY (50-24): HAM - CGY - EDM - MTL
BALLSY (50-24): TBD
PHIL (50-24): HAM - CGY - BC - TOR
ABOU (49-25): TBD
SCHULTZ (48-26): HAM - CGY - EDM - MTL
SCRUFFY (48-26): HAM - CGY - EDM - MTL
R.P. (48-26): HAM - WPG - BC - MTL
SAM (47-27): HAM - CGY - EDM - TOR
LYNCH (45-29): TBD
COIN (44-30): OTT - CGY - BC - MTL

* Winner gets a $100 gift card to the Press Box Sports Bar!

THIS WEEK IN COUGAR ATHLETICS

Rams Football – The Rams (2-5) collected a huge 56-41 victory over No. 9 Manitoba on Saturday to stay alive in the Canada West postseason race. Rookie running back Atlee Simon earned CIS Offensive Player of the Week honours after tying U of R records with four touchdowns scored and three touchdown runs and finishing with 243 all-purpose yards (154 rushing, 89 receiving) in the victory. The Rams finish the conference schedule at home this weekend against Alberta (3-4), needing a win and a little help from the out-of-town scoreboard to qualify for the postseason.

Men's Hockey – After a weekend off, the Cougars (0-8-0) return to action with a pair of home games this Friday and Saturday against UBC (4-2-2) at The Co-operators Centre. Both games will face off at 7 p.m. The two games against the Thunderbirds mark the first of a stretch of five consecutive two-game weekend sets for the Cougars, who will also face Lethbridge, Saskatchewan, Mount Royal, and Lethbridge again before taking a break from the Canada West schedule during the month of December.

Women's Basketball (CIS Ranking: No. 8) – The Cougars were rewarded for posting an 8-3 record against CIS competition in non-conference play with the No. 8 slot in this week's CIS Top Ten, the first poll of the season. They'll lift the lid on the conference schedule this Friday and Saturday with a road trip to Vancouver Island to take on the Victoria Vikes in a two-game weekend set. Both games will be webcast live at www.canadawest.tv.

Men's Basketball – The Cougars closed out their non-conference schedule at Brock last weekend, losing a pair of two-point heartbreakers to both York and host Brock along with a Saturday setback to No. 5-ranked Windsor. The Canada West schedule begins this weekend for the Cougars, who will travel to the West Coast for a pair of games against the No. 10-ranked Victoria Vikes.

Women's Volleyball – The Cougars (1-3) registered a weekend split with Winnipeg in their first home matches of the Canada West schedule, losing in five sets on Friday but recovering for a four-set victory on Saturday. Tori Glynn had a fine weekend for the U of R, leading the Cougars in both kills (32) and digs (33) while hitting a team-high .253 over the two matches. The team is back in action this weekend with two road matches against Thompson Rivers (2-4).

Men's Volleyball – The Cougars (0-4) were defeated twice by Winnipeg last weekend in the U of R's first conference matches of the season at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport. Fifth-year middle Steve Carston had team highs in both kills (13) and hitting percentage (.429) over the weekend for the Cougars, who will now prepare for a pair of matches at Thompson Rivers (0-6) in Kamloops, B.C.

Wrestling – Jacob Luczak highlighted the University of Regina's first competition of the season, placing first at 100 kg in last Saturday's Dinos Invitational in Calgary. Sean Belisle also medalled for the Cougars, finishing third at 90 kg. The women's team will split the squad this weekend, sending Iyanu Adetogun, Emily Foerster, and Sydney McIntyre to the Can-Am Open in Jamestown, N.D. and entering Vicki Busch, Dalynn McKay, and Dakoda Sinclair in the Clan International hosted by Simon Fraser in Burnaby, B.C.

Swimming – The Cougars have their first road meet of the 2014-15 schedule this weekend, as they'll travel with a full squad to compete in the Odlum Brown Colleges Cup hosted by the University of British Columbia on Saturday and Sunday. It'll serve as a major tune-up for the Canada West Championships for the Cougars, which will be held Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 in Lethbridge, Alta.

Women's Hockey – Another weekend, another split for the Cougars as they move to 1-3-3-1 on the season with a 3-2 overtime win over UBC on Friday and a 2-0 loss to the Thunderbirds on Saturday. Brooklyn Moskowy scored the game-winning goal on Friday for the Cougars, who now sit in sixth place in the Canada West standings with 10 points. The U of R will have this weekend off before returning to the conference schedule on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 at home against Lethbridge.

Cross Country – Matt Johnson again provided the highlight for the cross country teams at the Stewart Cup in Calgary on Saturday, finishing in first place to win his fourth race in as many starts this year for the Cougars. Both the men's team and the women's team finished in third place in the overall standings, and the Cougars will now prepare for the CIS Championships hosted by Memorial University on Nov. 8.

(Courtesy Braden Konschuh)

CFL EXECS FINED

TORONTO - The Canadian Football League announced on Wednesday that it has fined two executives.

Toronto Argonauts general manager Jim Barker has been fined $2,500 for violating the league's sideline policy by positioning himself on the goal-line directly behind an official in an attempt to communicate with that official, during last Saturday's game between the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"I made a mistake and I accept the fine and the subsequent sanction as determined by the CFL office,'' Barker said in a statement. "It was not my intention to be outside of the player box as per the CFL sideline policy. In fact, I was making my way to the designated area and I was waiting for the series end. My actions were in no way pre-meditated and I did not intend to communicate with the official.''

Barker has also been informed that he will not be permitted on the sidelines during play for the remainder the Argos' 2014 regular and post-season.

Hamilton Tiger-Cat owner Bob Young has also been fined $10,000 for public comments criticizing CFL officiating.

(The Canadian Press)

PAT C'S WIN 9TH IN A ROW

The Regina Pat Canadians hosted the Yorkton RawTec Maulers on Wednesday and won their ninth game in a row, coming away with a 3-2 victory. Riley Woods scored from Jake Tesarowski and Riley Mohr at 2:27 of the overtime period to lift the Pat C's to the victory.

Jake Tesarowski had 1 goal and 1 assist, while Tyler Adams had the other regulation time goal. Riley Woods had the O/T winner and 1 assist.

Clarke Flegel stopped 21 of 23 shots directed his way in the victory.

The next home game for the Regina Pat Canadians is Sunday, November 2, when the Notre Dame Hounds are in town - puck drop is 7:30 PM.

(Courtesy John Smith)

THURSDAY EYE-OPENER

Predictably, it all came down to Madison Bumgarner. He pitched five innings of near-perfect relief and the San Francisco Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Game 7 of the World Series. It is San Francisco's third championship in five seasons. Bumgarner put in a historic performance throughout the World Series, earning the MVP Award.

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Craig Smith scored twice as the Nashville Predators bounced back from their first regulation loss of the season to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in NHL play. The loss snapped Edmonton's four-game win streak. Earlier, the Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2.

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DeMar DeRozan had 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors topped the Atlanta Hawks 109-102 in Toronto's home opener. Kyle Lowry added 11 points and 10 assists for Toronto.

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LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the injury-depleted Oklahoma City Thunder 106-89. The Thunder only suited up nine players. Most notably they were without reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant, who had surgery for a fractured bone in his right foot this month and will likely be sidelined until December.

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Las Vegas has taken a step toward getting an NBA or NHL franchise. Developers say they're starting construction on a privately-funded $1.4 billion dollar retractable-roof sports arena and resort backed by a former UNLV and NBA player Jackie Robinson. Although they await final approval from several agencies, the plan is to have the 22-thousand-seat All Net Resort & Arena opened in early 2017.

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The Vancouver Whitecaps' Major League Soccer season ended on a bitter note. A late penalty-kick goal created by a controversial handball call gave F-C Dallas a 2-1 win over Vancouver in the knockout round of the MLS playoffs. Midfielder Michel stutter-stepped and slid his shot into the left side of the net in the 84th minute for the winner.

(Canadian Press)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TAMAN ON THE 9-8 ROUGHRIDERS

In his weekly radio appearance on 620 CKRM, Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Brendan Taman fielded questions on the state of his 9-8 team, the losers of five games in a row.

ON FRIDAY'S 40-27 LOSS IN CALGARY

BT:  To sum it up it's been two weeks in a row where we haven't been able to finish off a football game.  At halftime against Edmonton we were up and didn't finish and in Calgary we were up after three quarters and didn't finish so that's disappointing. When you lose a fourth quarter 25-0, you've got some problems.  It's frustrating and disappointing and it's something we have to get fixed because we're not going to go very far when you play like that.

IS THE TEAM GETTING BETTER?

BT:  From my perspective not really because when you lose a football game, you lose a football game.  The optics and the optimism just because certain guys played well here and there doesn't change the results for me.  I think we've shown signs in certain phases that we're better but, again, when you can't string four quarters together in all three facets of the game you're not going to win and we haven't for five weeks.

ON THE PLAY OF QB KERRY JOSEPH

BT:  He sort of mirrored the team.  He did a lot of good things for most of the game but had some throws he'd like to have back.  I think he gave us a good chance to win the game when he was on his game.  But like everybody else when you have a breakdown or two, it cost us.  However to be fair to him he's still pretty fresh to this whole situation so I can't be too hard on him.  I thought he did a good job for most of the game.

ON PREPARATION FOR THE EDMONTON GAME NOV. 8

BT:  It's something you fight with on a daily or hourly basis.  When Corey Chamblin gets back we'll sit down and discuss how we'll approach that final regular season game of the year because, really, we don't control anything at all in that game.  For us, the last thing we need is to have somebody good get hurt and in a weird way it's almost going to be like an exhibition game, unfortunately, because of that situation.  Although when you've lost five in a row, you have to get some momentum in your mind.

You're weighing what is smart and what we need to do to get a win, but quite frankly winning that game won't change anything in terms of who we'll play in the playoffs.  We have to be smart about it and there's a lot of tough decisions we've gotta make going into that game.  Obviously we want to play good football and we want to win but we have to be smart about it and if a guy needs another week to be fully ready, we're probably going to have to go that way.

WILLY'S GOT O'SHEA'S VOTE

WINNIPEG (CP) - He's closing in on 4,000 yards passing but couldn't get his Winnipeg Blue Bombers into the playoffs, yet quarterback Drew Willy is still coach Mike O'Shea's nominee for the team's most outstanding player this season.

"I think that's an easy choice,'' O'Shea said Wednesday.

"He missed a game so if he's in for that game he probably throws for over 4,000. He won us a bunch of games early. He's been a good player for us, very good. He's the guy you build everything around.''

Willy will start again Saturday when the Bombers (6-11) bring the curtain down on their disappointing season in Calgary against the Stampeders (14-2). This is the third season in a row the Bombers have missed the playoffs.

The Bombers saw their faint playoff hopes disappear last Saturday when they dropped a 28-23 decision to the B.C. Lions.

Despite their problems, they've had some outstanding performances from some players besides Willy.

Receiver Clarence Denmark has followed through with his pre-season promise and topped 1,000 yards for the first time in his four years in the CFL. He's currently at 1,022 yards, second only to Edmonton's Adarius Bowman.

The Bombers also scored big in rookie kicker Lirim Hajrullahu. The native of St. Catharines, Ont., came out of Western and his 141 points are good for third on the CFL kicking points list right now.

And if that wasn't impressive enough, he's had to handle punting duties as well because of Mike Renaud's injury issues. Hajrullahu has averaged a respectable 43.8 yards a punt.

O'Shea acknowledges both, despite favouring Willy for the team's top honour.

"Clarence Denmark's had a very, very good season. Without throwing the ball, he doesn't get those yards, right?'' he said of his top receiver.

CHL WEEK 6 TOP TEN

1 Kelowna Rockets (12-1-0-0)
2 Erie Otters (11-0-0-1)
3 Rimouski Oceanic (13-4-0-1)
4 Medicine Hat Tigers (11-2-1-0)
5 Sault Ste. Marie (10-3-0-0)
6 Brandon Wheat Kings (11-3-1-0)
7 Saint John Sea Dogs (9-3-0-3)
8 Oshawa Generals (11-2-1-0)
9 Sherbrooke Phoenix (12-5-0-0)
10 Everett Silvertips (8-1-2-1)

Honourable Mention:
Belleville Bulls (9-3-0-0)
Baie-Comeau Drakkar (11-5-0-1)
Edmonton Oil Kings (9-3-0-1)

THE WEDNESDAY THRILLER ... WITH PHIL ANDREWS

With Phil Andrews
Happy Wednesday! Let’s get right to it:

Regina Pats star rookie forward Sam Steel is off to Sarnia Ontario today ahead of the 2014 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge which gets underway this coming weekend. Steel will represent Team Canada Black for the tournament as they open on Sunday against Team Russia at 2 o'clock. The Sherwood Park native has 3 goals and 9 assists in 15 games this season with the Pats and is tied for 2nd in team scoring with 12 points. Add to that the fact that he leads the team at plus 10, he has been even or on the plus side of the ledger in every game besides one where he went -1.

Steel says he he can't wait for the opportunity. "I've been looking forward to it ever since I was named to the team. It just started to set in after that last game (on Sunday). That's my main focus for the next 10 days or so and then once I get back then it's all business again here (in Regina)."

Sam is not the only standout rookie from the WHL that will be playing with Team Black. Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants and Cale Klague of the Brandon Wheat Kings are on his team.  All three of them top 5 picks in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Add to that list Calgary Hitmen defenceman Jake Bean, Vancouver d-man Ryely McKinstry and Seattle forward Nolan Volcan as the other WHLer's. Won't be the last time we see the likes of Steel dawn the Canadian colors.

Steel will miss three games for the Pats for the tournament, this weekend against Saskatoon and Swift Current and then next weekend versus the Calgary Hitmen.

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SLAPSHOTS

- Fans of the WHL are being treated to quite the crop of rookies breaking into the league this year. The 16 year old class is better than I have ever seen. I'm sure there are people who have been around a lot longer than I have but we will be seeing these 1998 born kids light up the league for the next 3-4 years. Sam Steel and Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings each have 12 points, Kamloops Jake Kryski has 11 along with Vancouver's Tyler Benson. Star players with bright futures.

- The Pats finally got the puck to go in on Sunday against the Lethbridge Hurriances. I have never seen a team so snake bitten as the Pats were in the previous four games where they scored just once in each contest, all of them losses. From posts to bad bounces to missing wide open nets the team just could not score a second goal in their games but it all came together against the Canes on Sunday. Yes people will argue that it was just the Hurricanes but Lethbridge had won three in a row coming in, including against the defending memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

- Seems like Morgan Klimchuk has come into full form 6 games in. The 19 year old Flames 1st rounder had his first multi-point night on Sunday with a goal and two assists. That's a welcome sight for the Blue and White.

- The Leafs aren't getting my hopes up this year, a 4-4-1-0 start is mediocre. No parades are being planned and I'm not going to get duped into thinking they are contenders this year. At least not at the moment. The Blue Jays did it to me this summer, quite possibly the most hope I've had for the team only to have those dashed. Don't get me wrong I want them to win and do well however I'm not sure I can take another year of ups and downs.

- Talking with Luc Mullinder on the Sportscage on Monday we came to the conclusion that while the Riders may have up and down years, they always get it together at the end of the year it seems and validate the early season hopes of Rider Nation. Everyone seems pretty optimistic over the first three quarters of Friday's game in Calgary. Kerry Joseph looked pretty darn good, yes the fourth quarter was one to forget but I for one feel a lot better about their chances with KJ at the helm.

- It's almost a guarantee the Riders will head East for the playoffs. Yes I know it always seems tough to win out there but at the end of the day it won't be as bad going to Hamilton, Toronto or Montreal as opposed to Edmonton and Calgary on the road to the Grey Cup game. I'm not sitting here thinking the Riders will be there at the end but they have a chance and in the playoffs that's all that matters.

- Interesting comments from General Manager Brendan Taman on Monday's Sportscage on the decision he and the coaching staff face when it comes to who should play in the final game of the regular season against the Eskimos. It's a fine line between getting guys healthy for the playoffs and wanting to get a win and some momentum before the elimination games start. One thing for sure is that the Eskimos likely will rest some guys as they will be locked into second place in the West Division. Taman said it will likely be a lot like an exhibition game. Tough to say whether guys should sit or if they should play to get some good mojo going.

- Congrats to the Saskatoon Hilltops on yet another PFC Championship over the weekend in their win over the Calgary Colts.

- The Kansas City Royals didn't look nervous in the least last night in game 6 of the World Series hammering the San Francisco Giants 10-0. Rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura was unfazed on the big stage in an elimination game going 7 scoreless innings. Giants veteran arm Jake Peavy on the other hand struggled and didn't get out of the 2nd inning. The home team has won 9 straight game sevens in the World Series and I for one hope the Royals make that streak 10 games. They are the feel good story in baseball and I am on board.

- Pats in the pro's update: Dyson Stevenson has played three games in the ECHL with the Gwinnett Gladiators and has 11 penalty minutes. Lane Scheidl has his East Coast season off to a good start in Kalamazoo with 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games. Colton Jobke has 2 assists in 6 ECHL games with the Alaska Aces. Chandler Stephenson with the Hershey Bears of the AHL has a goal in 6 games played.

- Lots of rumours floating around yesterday on Twitter that Jordan Weal might get a call up to play with the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar did not play last night because of an injury and people were speculating that Weal would get the call to play against the Philadelphia Flyers. That didn't happen - some quoted cap issues as the reason why but he would make just 610 K in the NHL under his entry level deal so that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. At any rate it won't be long before we see the Pats third all-time leading scorer on the big stage. He has a goal and 5 assists in 5 games so far with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL.

- Pats TV this week on Access 7 on Wednesday at 7 o'clock features defencemen Colby Williams and Carter Hansen as well as Athletic Therapist/Trainer Greg Mayer.

That's it from me today, have a good week!

Phil
@PhilTheThrill18

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