|Keith Hershmiller Photography|
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.
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.
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!
THAT'S ALL! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!