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Saturday, February 25, 2017

RODSERVATIONS

Keith Hershmiller Photography
THE BUZZ IN TOWN

1 - When my head hit the pillow Friday night, I didn't want to go to sleep. I was still on pins and needles from the atmosphere in the Brandt Centre last night where the Pats blew out the Swift Current Broncos 7-0. But it wasn't just about that game in itself.

I'll tell you why ..

2 - Sure, the game was great. All but one or two this year have been very entertaining, which is an amazing feat in itself. However Friday night fans looked at each other in astonishment as 18-year old Pats phenom Sam Steel whizzed around the ice, having his way with the Broncos. If you haven't heard already, the Anaheim first-rounder had a career-high four goals and an assist.

Sam Steel should be an absolute icon in this town - and by the time he's done he will be - but people seem to be slow to catch on. It's the same scenario as when Doug Flutie was with the Toronto Argonauts. He led the team to Grey Cup titles in 1996 and 1997 but Toronto sports fans didn't even realize it until afterwards when he went on to star in the NFL.  It was only then that Toronto people referred to him as, "Our Doug."

That's what could happen here with Sam Steel.

For instance, I was flabbergasted to wake up Saturday morning and see that not one comment had come into this blog about Friday's game and Steel's performance. I guess it was a shutout of the opponent, an offensive explosion, and therefore nothing to complain about.

3 - And back to Friday night's game. There was an electricity in the arena which has been slowly building over the past four or five months. The doors opened at 6:00 and the building was full almost immediately. Many people were in their seats by 6:10, which was a full hour before what would be the eventual opening faceoff.

What was the buzz in the building? Well this was the first home game since last Saturday's CHL announcement that Regina had won the right to host the 2018 Memorial Cup. So the murmur in the seats was about that, and how spine-tingling the next 15 months will be. There was talk of the Brier, this year's Scotties, and a little chatter about the Riders which we'll get to later.  But the main vibe was rightfully about the Regina Pats.

Just before game time, the concourses (which have always been wide enough) were completely clogged.  I had to walk out into the stands and dodge or step over people just to get to my seats.

It was a welcome inconvenience.

Kovacs
4 - I sat only a few rows up from the ice and had to pinch myself a few times to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  Let's see: the game was soldout, the Pats are the #1 team in the WHL and flirt with the #1 ranking in the country, the crowd was a mixture of old and young but more millenials than ever before, and the game itself was fantastic.

This is what we've always wanted. And now it's here.

And as an absolutely extra special bonus, Regina Pats legend Frank Kovacs came onto the ice before the game to help honour Pats forward Adam Brooks for playing his 300th career game. Brooks won't reach Frank's record 352 games played , but it's a tremendous accomplishment.

Bringing back alumni and having them be part of the pregame ceremonies? It's a tactic I've been pleading for this franchise to do for literally decades. This is lump-in-the-throat stuff for me and other fans who remember the good ol' days.

And now QCSEG is actually doing it. Former Pats captain Kyle Deck actually came out after Kovacs to drop the puck. The roof went off the place.

I honestly can't quite get over how utterly sensational this is.

And that's why I didn't want to go to sleep Friday night.

5 - Lastly on that particular point, although it was another sellout of 6,484, the rest of Regina and area has been a tad slow to catch on. It's similar, to me, to the 2013 Rider season when the football team was 8-1 and fans were bitching that receiver Geroy Simon wasn't been used properly enough. Really? Seriously? How insignificant does that detail look now since the club is 10-35 since the Banjo Bowl of 2014?

Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy it. I certainly am and it's like walking on air.

6 - The buzz in the Media/Scouts/VIP room before the game was of the CHL Top 10 rankings and how the Pats have been in them every week all season long while the Moose Jaw Warriors get nary a mention. Former SportsCage co-host Kelly Remple was particularly heated about this. "How can you beat the #1 team in the country three times and not even get an honourable mention?" steamed the Silver Fox.

The Ripplinger brothers - Todd and Jason - were in the room too and they mentioned that the rankings are a subjective thing, similar to college football. "They're designed to get people talking," one of them said. "There's no way to prove they're true."

Warriors GM Al Millar only chuckled about his team's snub and muttered, "I'd rather not be ranked all season long," referring to the fact that it's a great motivator.

It was a great discussion, and it's always nice to be back with the hockey boys.

7 - A very real concern if you're a local Pats fan: how are you going to get into these games come playoff time if they're all soldout? Obviously, you're going to want to purchase your playoff ticket packages well in advance because this is going to be an historic run and this city is going to go nuts.

Fortunately for you, it appears we'll have a lot of the playoff games televised on Access and Shaw.

But there's no substitute for being there in person.

By the way if this team doesn't go all the way, it'll be really hard to take but again, I'm just trying to savour every moment of what they're doing now.  It's great.

8 - The U of R Cougar womens basketball team is off to the Final Four after sweeping Trinity Western in their Best-of-3 conference quarterfinal this week.  On Friday night at the CKHS, Regina won 57-41. We were in attendance on Thursday night and it was a real treat.

When did the U of R add the electronic video screen? It looked big time.

Why do people say there's nothing to do in this town?

It never seems to be a problem for me.

9 - I saw two long-time lady Rider fans at the Pats game last night.  Their names are Leanne and Marlene.  I said, "Are you lost? There's no football game here?"

Marlene said, "We came because you told everybody to on the radio."

10 - While at Thursday's Cougar game and then last night at the Brandt Centre, I was peppered with questions about the Roughriders. The vast, vast majority of them centred around quarterback Vince Young.

In fact the exact line of questioning is, "Is he coming or not? Yes or No?"

It was too pointed of a question for me to give a simple Yes or No to, but CKRM analyst Luc Mullinder offered an emphatic NO on Friday's SportsCage.

Given the fact the Roughriders have refused comment on the entire Young matter, I'd have to lean towards the "No" side too.

So who will start in Week 1 ... Kevin Glenn? Brandon Bridge? Jake Waters? G.J. Kinne? Someone else entirely?

Sorry to say, but no one knows. It's February 25 so there's plenty of time for that scenario to play out.

11 - Another football note: Saskatchewan lost a legend on Thursday when Gord Currie passed away at the age of 93.  No one in Saskatchewan football is spoken of with the reverence that Gord Currie enjoyed during his time on earth. Frankly, it was an honour to know him and have the chance to discuss football with him.

12 - The inaugural Mark's CFL Week is coming in just a matter of weeks. Check out the full schedule of events here: www.markscflweek.ca.

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BIRTHDAYS: Happy Birthday on Friday to Rider alum Jordan Sisco, Wayne Shaw and Andre "Juicy" Monroe ... and Happy 52nd Birthday on Sunday to Rider legend Don Narcisse!

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THAT'S ALL! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!
RP
@rodpedersen

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great read Rod! The vibe around this team is fantastic, Go Pats! I'd like to Congratulate Michelle Englot and team Manitoba for making it to the Scotties final, Go Michelle!

Anonymous said...

Rod the reason why people are slow to catch on to Sam Steel and there are zero comments about his performance on your blog are the same reason why people say there's nothing to do in town - it's because they believe or have been force-fed a narrative that has nothing positive to say about Regina. Why would you post any kind of a positive comment why you've been told over and over again that you've been living in a dump your whole life? Sadly too many people buy into this line of thinking

Anon said...

Obviously people aren't as geeked over hockey as you are.

Rod Pedersen said...

Their loss.

Jeff Sastaunik said...

Always love your columns. Great work. My feeling is Jones will still pull offs bona fide number 1 guy before camp go pats n go riders

Rudyman said...

A sugestion. Maybe the pats should televise the sold out games for the rest of the year?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent Pats coverage as of late Rod. The lack of comments on last nights game doesn't surprise me. A twist on the old saying, "if you have nothing negative to say, don't say anything at all." There were way more comments after Pat's losses. I have a guy that sits behind me that constantly complains about the Pats. Last year, his number 1 target was the "over rated" Sam Steel. Now that Steel has proved that wrong, he has moved on to complaining about other things. Most recently the Mahura trade has been his target. People just fail to see the reality, the Pats are about to set their own single season record for points. If you can't enjoy it now, you might never enjoy it folks. I do realize that the complainers are not the majority.

Now to hockey, the Pats will face some challenges if Buziak and Holmes are out for any length of time. They are already short Ahl and Smart, Ahl was limping fairly bad at the game. I heard them call his limp a charley horse, looks to be more then that. A few injuries at this time of the year will make it harder to give Steel and Brooks less minutes down the stretch.

Go Pats Go
Pats7

mark said...

Man, it took a lot of thumb strokes to get past all that Pats propaganda LOL

Anonymous said...

Agreed about Sam Steel. What a fantastic hockey player he is. And lets not forget about Adam Brooks and some of the others. Both of these players are going to be legends around Regina long after their WHL careers are over and the more team success the Pats have this year and next year, the more it will cement their legacies. I think it's so important for the Pats to win championships over the next couple of years unless this team wants to be known as the best Pats team to never win anything.

I've been excited about this season since last season. I've been enjoying the ride all year long until Paddock traded too much forward depth away. That ticked me off to be honest. I'm still enjoying the season, but I think their chances of winning the Memorial Cup this year took a big hit when all of their forward depth was shipped out of Regina. All of the injuries aren't helping either.

Either way, there's still 3 weeks for the team to gel, heal and improve before the playoffs. I have no doubt that the Pats will be ready to go come playoff time. Anytime you have the number of dangerous weapons in the top two lines like the Pats do this year, you can never count them out of any game or series. I just hope the 3rd and 4th lines are able and willing to step up and play huge in the playoffs and give this team a real chance to go all the way to Windsor.

Anonymous said...

Pats7,

If it's just a really bad CharlieHorse, there's plenty of time for Ahl to heal and come back. I wouldn't worry about that. I doubt the team would lie about it. If it was more serious and they didn't want people to know, they'd just say it's a lower body injury.

Buziak and Smart's injuries appear to be unknown or unreported and Holmes has some sort of shoulder injury? Hopefully it's not too serious.

It's definitely going to be difficult to give Steel and Brooks a rest. There's a lot of tough games coming up.

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget

Anonymous said...

Steel takes me back to the wickenhiser days when he was dominate in the 80s teams.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what the pats do the rest of the season the Warriors will end the pats season in the playoffs, so enjoy it while you can.

Anonymous said...

Logically, I just cannot see a situation where Kevin Glenn is not our starting QB. Brandon Bridge will be somewhere behind him. Who else can realistically start for the Riders in 2017? I say the chance of Vince Young being on our roster Week 1 is 10% or less. Let's say he's signed. First he has to get through mini camp, then training camp. He hasn't played for a long time, so I think the competition for him will be tough. Kevin Glenn is our starting QB until they develop someone better. How long until that happens? I wish I knew. Evan

Anonymous said...

I have been watching these games a long time. Steele and Brooks dare I say the last time I watched that was Derkatch/Leeman. Different era with no Byers riding shot gun, but Steele - he's on a completely different level. To have him back next year would be in Anahiem's best interest as he can go to McDavid/Marner levels which will make him a better pro.

Anonymous said...

Things sound so good Rod, why are you complaining?

Rod Pedersen said...

Who's complaining?

Johhny K. said...

Wow !! I didn't come on early because Mr. Weppler usually has the page full so I didn't I would get my two cents worth in.
Pedersen is just trying to get the people riled up to buy Season tickets because those who have Season tickets next year will get first chance of getting tickets for the Memorial Cup the following year. Plus the fact he is such a Homer he thinks the Pats can walk on water. Pedersen I just cannot buy the fact that you couldn't sleep because they just abolished the Very Lowly Swift Current Broncos. Would you have slept if it was the same atmosphere and they were playing Moose Jaw and lost in regulation or OT ? Or perhaps the whole crowd wouldn't have been there an hour before the game because they were so excited that the Memorial Cup was coming in two years. What a Bunch of Hogwash . But YOU enjoy it because it won't last forever . Oh by the way ... IS THIS PRINTABLE?

william weppler said...

Very good read RP. Got nothing more to add to this column as it appears have to leave room for some other bloggers :))

Chris Harris said...

The in game feed you see on the big screen is available for streaming on WHL.ca

Anonymous said...

So, you're saying Steele doesn't back check either? That's my memory of the Wickenheiser Blaisdell Flockhart line.

Anonymous said...

Northern Ontario Curling truly representing the colors of Saskathewan Provincial flag at Scotties Tournament of Hearts..

Anonymous said...

Steel was amazing last night. He put on quite the show. Love going to the Pats games. They are a fun team to watch. We don't have season tickets but decided to get playoff ticket packages. If you don't get your tickets now, you may be out of luck and we sure weren't going to be sitting at home during the playoffs. GO PATS GO!

As for the Riders, I don't think Jones has any QB plans beyond what he already has. I think he believes he has what he needs. Rider fans, on the other hand, have a lot of concerns there. Could be another very long season for the green guys.

Anonymous said...

With the Pats, it goes to show you by bringing in a quality hockey coach/GM (John Paddock) and let him do his thing for 3 years, let him groom the young guys and bring in new guys that he thinks will make his team better and I never once saw anyone on this blog complain about what he is doing, how come the Pats were not winning in his first and second years in command - everybody just let him do what he does best. Yet when the Riders do the very same thing by bringing in Chris Jones and letting him do his thing, everybody on here is all up in arms and complaining about Jones. Maybe all you so-called fans should give Jones the same courtesy that was provided Paddock.

Anonymous said...

The Riders need to focus on getting Baker Mayfield on their roster and not these old timers. I am concerned about them having Vice Young take up a spot on he roster. Although Rod "leans" towards him not being a Rider,this still means there is a chance.

Anonymous said...

I am a Pats fan and "geeked" about whats going on. However i also realize that at the end of the day it is junior hockey. Kids.

It's short term entertainment until, well until you know what starts again in the spring.

The Pats are absolutely has high as they can get in this city. Not a bad thing. Kudos to them.

Anonymous said...

People need to stop comparing the Pats and Riders.

It would be like comparing my kids U16 soccer team to the pats.

they are exponentially different. even beyond the difference in sport.

Anonymous said...

The Warriors will take great pleasure in bringing them crashing back to Earth

Anonymous said...

Yep Sooners QB Baker Mayfield was arrested yesterday in Arkansas. Let's get him.

donna Campbell said...

Sorry Rod, Pats will not make the Memorial Cup this year. to many very good teams out west, Kelowna, Everett, Prince George to name 3.

Anonymous said...

Does Moose Jaw's head coach Tim Hunter live in Regina?

Anonymous said...

I disagree now with the Concourses, they are not wide enough now. With all the crap club seating it has made them narrow along the sides. With over 6,000 fans jammed in to the old barn on a regular basis compare to the usual 4,000 for years, it makes it very difficult at intermissions to get around. If we had an outer ring concourse all the way around like the north side partially does, it would be great and make it much easier to walk around the arena.

Anonymous said...

Hey.... Rush 8 Calgary 7 Final in OT.
15,045 another Sell out In Toon Town. Go Rush Go.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Riders traded baker mayfields rights away last year.

He's like the Raptors pick a couple years back who the pundits joked was 2 years away from being 2 years away.

Mayfield can run around a la johnny football, but he's not a pure passer and would need to ride the pine and learn for several years.
He's not likely to be a professional starting QB in any league.

Anonymous said...

Dump PG and add Seattle, but don't forget they have to play each other!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mayfield is the property of the Argos.
And yes, he was just arrested.

Anonymous said...

I have season tickets and the concourses are so crowded, I only buy food/drink as soon as the doors open an hour before game. I don't leave my seat again until after the 3 stars. If it wasn't so crowded in the concourses, I would gladly get up and buy more beer or food during intermissions.

Anonymous said...

Tough loss for Pats in OT Sunday. Let Speedy Creek score that tying goal at 19:47, while thinking of their post game celebrations. Glad Moose Jaw meets them in the first round and not Regina.

Anonymous said...

This comment is just for fun. I was hoping that Sam Steel would join Minnesota Wild, and play on a line with Eric Staal and the unretired Jarret Stoll. I can hear the play by play man now. "Stoll, from Staal and Steel!" or "Steel, from Stoll and Staal!" Reminds me of the Schock, Shack and Schinkel line from long ago days.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Rod is back to being all about the Pats. Hmmmm, what's different??? Almost nothing for last few years, but now they are winning and get the MCup, wonder what it could be.