Friday, September 20, 2013
1. Here we go with Plaza of Honor weekend in Regina, and it's a home game weekend to boot! The Rider Nation will pause Friday evening to celebrate Rider Pride as franchise greats Eddie Davis and Gene Makowsky are enshrined in the Riders' Hall of Fame. It's a pleasure to be the Master of Ceremonies for the induction dinner which will be held at the Credit Union Eventplex. We'll also be broadcasting the SportsCage live from the event beginning at 4:00 pm.
2. Once Plaza is done we'll turn our attention to Sunday's massive showdown between the 8-3 Saskatchewan Roughriders and the 7-4 BC Lions at Mosaic Stadium. Second-place in the CFL West is on the line and it's a monumental game for the Green & White. It's absolutely pivotal. A win will signify that the Riders have snapped out of their recent funk while a loss could send them into a dreadful tailspin.
3. The forecast for Sunday's 2:30 pm kickoff calls for a mix of sun and cloud and 21 degrees Celsius. You can't ask for much better this time of year. As of Thursday evening the Riders were 5.5-point favourites for the game.
4. Rider coach Corey Chamblin agrees this game is huge. On Thursday he noted that this game marks the end of the "middle third" of the schedule and they're 3-2 over the past five games. A 4-2 record means they're still a winning team while 3-3 puts them at .500 for the stretch after going 5-1 in the "opening third". He desperately wants to be a winning team.
5. Hall of Fame football writer Bob Hughes said on In The Huddle this week that it's time that the Riders' Code of Conduct be abolished. That notion was tabled in this column last week.
6. Week 13 in the CFL opens Friday evening with the Edmonton Eskimos at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Edmonton is favoured by 3-points and they've won their past five trips to Winnipeg.
7. The Bombers are after their 600th franchise win in this game. The Edmonton Eskimos are the only other CFL team with 600 wins in franchise history (according to league statistics).
8. The Bombers will start Max Hall at quarterback in this one meaning the Bombers have started four different quarterbacks in their past four games against Edmonton.
9. Two more notes on Friday's game: 1) The Eskimos' snapped an 8-game losing streak last week with a win over Winnipeg which was their longest in 42 years. 2) Winnipeg hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in four games.
10. On Saturday afternoon Montreal will oppose Hamilton in Touchdown Atlantic III in Moncton, NB. Sportsnet's Arash Madani noted on CKRM's SportsCage on Thursday that the neutral site series has lost it's luster, but isn't sure why. This edition of the series features Montreal for the first time while Hamilton's played in it twice. In 2010 Edmonton beat Toronto 24-6 while in 2011, Hamilton beat Calgary 55-26. There was no Touchdown Atlantic in 2012 because the CFL focused on the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto.
11. Saturday's game is Ticats quarterback Henry Burris's 180th career start and he's 344 yards away from tying the greatest Roughrider Of 'Em All, Ron Lancaster, for fourth all-time (50,535).
12. This blogger did not criticize for Regina for only 4100 fans showing up to watch the Calgary Flames beat the New York Islanders 4-2 in a preseason game in the Brandt Centre Tuesday evening. Tickets were too expensive and it wasn't deemed a "sexy" match-up. However those in attendance saw a tremendous hockey game with a fantastic fight. However I feel the teams missed a great marketing opportunity by not setting up souvenir shops to hawk jerseys, t-shirts and hats.
13. Evraz Place was not trying to gouge Reginans with the ticket prices. They were simply trying to make their money back for purchasing the game, but ended up taking a bath. It may be a long time before the NHL comes back however an Edmonton, Montreal or Toronto appearance assuredly sell-out.
14. In the Oilers' 4-1 preseason win at Vancouver on Wednesday, Reginans Jordan Eberle and Boyd Gordon combined for five points for Edmonton. Still, national TV sports anchors can't say Jordan's name properly. It's EB-ER-LEE not EB-ER-LAY! Sheesh!
15. While speaking to a Grade 9 English class at Campbell Collegiate this week the kids asked me who's the most famous person I've ever interviewed. I was stumped for an answer and they suggested it must be Jordan Eberle. Perhaps he is. Personally I think it's Bill Polian, who was President of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts at the time.
16. No more belly-aching about the CFL schedule! The NFL's Philadelphia Eagles played three games in 11 days to open the season. They went 1-2 in the stretch.
17. Someone asked this week who's my favourite NFL TV announcer. I had to think for a bit, but it's Brad Nessler of the NFL Network who called Thursday's Eagles-Chiefs game. His voice has nuts and he's Old School. He's also the voice of NCAA Football on EA Sports, which I used to play a lot.
18. The small markets can still survive in the WHL! The preseason favourites in the East Division are the P.A. Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. It's been 20 years since they've both been on top at the same time.
19. Happy birthday today to former Regina Pats forward Matt Strueby and to the Voice of the Moose Jaw Warriors James Gallo.
20. Some thank you's: to the Riders, Pats, Cougars and Thunder for tweeting their player and coach appearances on 620 CKRM's SportsCage! We never asked them to do it; they did it all on their own. Also a thank you to Moose Jaw Toyota for sponsoring the short-lived Moose Jaw Warriors Report in the SportsCage. It lasted only one day before the WHL intervened, but I appreciate the effort. And finally a thank you to San Jose Sharks colour commentator Drew Remenda who emailed the show on Thursday to say how much he enjoyed the hockey talk. Thanks Drew!
21. What a shame the Legends Football League (formerly Lingerie Football League) game for the Regina Rage tomorrow night at the Brandt Centre has been cancelled. The league is clearly in peril but we're not sure to what degree. It's unfortunate because the cancellation has denied the head coaching debut of former Rider Brent Hawkins. Hopefully the league gets back on track.
22. Finally today my friend Gregg Zaun of the Blue Jays broadcast crew asked me to put it out there that he's looking for a house to rent for Grey Cup weekend. He's willing to pay top dollar. Please email me at email@example.com if you're willing to open your doors!
THANKS FOR READING AND WE'LL SEE YOU AT PLAZA!