Monday, December 31, 2007

Pats lose to Blades

The Regina Pats had a two game winning steak snapped with a 2-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades, the WHL's worst road team, at the Brandt Centre last night. The game was broadcast on Access 7, but yours truly wasn't invited to take part. In the words of the great philosopher: whatever.

The game featured a line brawl, which would seem to indicate the Saskatoon-Regina rivalry still has some life left in it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pats named co-captains

Well, it was a terrific Christmas! I hope yours was full of good cheer and warm fellowship. Which, despite Jacob's fondness for the commercial aspect of the season, is really what it's all about. Again, deepest condolences to Regina's Davis family on the loss of patriarch Lorne Davis over the holidays.

Now let's get back to a bit of blogging. The two members of the Regina Pats on Team West for the upcoming World Under-17 hockey challenge have been named co-captains. I asked Garrett Mitchell if he'd like to wear a letter when he appeared on SportZone before we took a holiday hiatus. He said he was just excited to be wearing a Canadian jersey, and a letter would be an amazing bonus. Well, Merry Christmas Garrett! And you too, Alex Pym! The news release from the Saskatchewan Hockey Association is below.

Team West announces captains for the 2008 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge

Regina – The coaching staff of Team West announced Thursday the captains for Team West that will compete in the 2008 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in London, ON December 29, 2007 to January 4, 2008.

The roster for Team West includes eleven (11) players from each of the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Branches to represent Team West, bringing the total to 22.

Two members of the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats have been named co-captains for the event. Garrett Mitchell of Regina, SK, and Alex Pym of Winnipeg, MB will alternate wearing the “C” for Team West.

The alternate captains will also rotate, and will be represented by Carter Ashton (Saskatoon, SK), Jimmy Bubnick (Saskatoon, SK), Jared Cowen (Allan, SK) and Brayden Schenn (Saskatoon, SK).

The 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge brings high level International teams to Canada. Ten teams will arrive in London to compete in this prestigious event. Canada is represented by five Regional teams Pacific (BC and AB), West (SK and MB), Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic (NB, NS, NF, PEI) and five international teams from Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and USA.

The World Under 17 Hockey Challenge is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence to identify players that will continue to the National Under 18 and National Junior Teams. This annual event showcases some of the best young talent in the world, and is often a young player’s first experience in international hockey.

Many of Canada's brightest young hockey stars made their international debut at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge such as Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews, Nathan Horton, Rick Nash, Eric Staal, Marc-André Fleury, Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and Vincent Lecavalier. The Under-17 challenge has also featured some international rising stars in Alexander Ovechkin, Nikolai Zherdev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Joni Pitkanen and the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

SportZone lineup for Dec 17

Here's the lineup for the show. Due to the Christmas holidays, this show will air on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. for the next three weeks (!).

SportZone Guests for December 17/07
Christmas Extravaganza!
Community Co-Host – Carlo “Prancer” Palazzo

1. A Regina Pat rookie, and Regina native, will take part in the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, to be held Dec 29 – Jan 4 in London, Ontario. Guest: Garrett Mitchell (Regina Pats forward).

2. A profile of the Regina Speedskating Club. Guests: Bill Christ (Coach), Marsha Hudey & Kali Christ (skaters).

3. A mid-term report on athletics at the University of Regina. Guest: Dick White (U of R Director of Recreation & Athletics).

4. A visit from the play-by-play voice of the Riders and the Regina Pats. Guest: Rod Pedersen (Harvard Broadcasting Sports Director).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pats limp into Christmas break

The Regina Pats were humbled 6-1 in Moose Jaw last night. Colten Teubert was the only Pat to beat Warrior netminder Joey Perricone. Frankly, the Tribe ran the visitors out of the rink.

The loss also dropped Regina a point back of Brandon for top spot in the WHL's east division. And, a technical snafu caused us to miss the first ten minutes of the 3rd period on the CKRM broadcast. It was that kind of night.

The Pats are now off (cynics might suggest they started the break early) until December 27th, when they travel to Brandon. Will the roster be different when the players return? I wouldn't bet against it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's on!

The Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors kick off a home and home set tonight at the Brandt Centre. Recently the intensity of the rivalry has dropped off somewhat. Heck, I can't even remember the last real slug-fest between the two teams. Maybe we have to go back to the Sean O'Connor days? Heck, today's Leader-Post even contains a story about how the respective general managers (gasp) get along!

So, leave it to some other media types to stir things up. I imagine many of you also visit Rod Pedersen's blog on a regular basis. But, in case you don't, you have to read this post, including the comments. Oh, it's on! Let's hope that intensity carries over into the dressing rooms.

Suddenly, I'm really looking forward to being in the press box tonight. Tomorrow night's sojourn to Moose Jaw (I'll be doing the colour commentary on CKRM) should also be pretty interesting. Here's hoping, anyway.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pyett makes the final cut

Regina Pats captain Logan Pyett has made the final roster of the national junior hockey team. That means the Pats will be without the services of their leader, and top defenceman, for at least eight more games.

Good for Logan, though. His game has really, really improved in the past year. And his maturity level has risen dramatically as well.

Among the notable cuts are Quebec Remparts forward Angelo Esposito (who failed to make the squad for the 3rd year in a row), Everett goaltender Leland Irving, Moose Jaw blueliner Keaton Ellerby and Calgary forward Ryan White.

Team Canada opens the World Junior tournament December 26th in the Czech Republic.

Update: Pyett has been named one of the alternate captains for Team Canada. Calgary defenceman Karl Alzner will wear the C for Canada.

Pats play Santa

Once again, the Regina Pats have done wonders for the confidence of a WHL bottom feeder. Talk about generosity! This time, the Pats (who firmly believe they're an elite-calibre team) dropped a 3-2 overtime decision in Saskatoon. The Pats led 2-0 before the game was six minutes old.

The win is just the Blades' 12th of the year, however Saskatoon does have an impressive home record of 10-4 so far this season. Still, Regina has now lost six times to the weakest teams in the league - twice to Saskatoon and Red Deer, and once each to Prince Albert and Portland. Elite teams shouldn't be losing those games. On the bright side, the Pats are still on pace for a 42 win season - so it's not as if the team is falling apart at the seams.

The Pats take on Moose Jaw in a home-and-home series this weekend. Obviously, a better effort will be required against the Warriors, who have only one regulation time loss in their last ten games.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SportZone lineup for Dec 10

Lots of hockey talk on this week's show, airing Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. on Access channel 7. Here's the lineup:

SportZone Guests for December 10/07
Community Co-Host – Corey Matthews

1. An introduction to Krav Maga, a self-defense system used by law enforcement and military groups. Guest: Richard Kim (Owner, Krav Maga Regina), Angela Miller & Jeff Walker (Krav Maga students).

2. A preview of the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, to be held Dec 29 – Jan 4 in London, Ontario. Guest: Blaine Sautner (Team West Head Coach).

3. An update on the Regina Capitals junior B hockey club. Guest: Rob Dowie (Assistant Coach).

4. An update on the Regina Rebels midget AAA girls hockey team. Guests: Doug Folk (Head Coach) & Chelsea Bender (Forward).

5. The Regina Red Sox hire a new head coach, and prepare for the team’s annual winter baseball camp. Guest: Bernie Eiswirth (General Manager).

6. An update on the University of Regina men’s basketball team. Guests: Kris Heshka & Jordan McFarlane (Players).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Help is on the way

A high-scoring, bruising power forward has the potential to lift the Regina Pats to new heights. Granted, the kid I'm thinking of won't be eligible for full-time duty in the WHL for another EIGHT years, but still.

Young Jacob had a career day for the novice rec Bullets yesterday, notching three goals in tournament action. Maybe not Crosby-esque numbers, but let's keep in mind the Jakester did score 60% of his team's goals, while shutting down the opposition's top forwards. At least that's how it looked from my vantage point!

I really, really like that kid.

Update: The prodigy scored the winning goal in the Bullets' 3-0 victory this afternoon. I imagine Ripper will be calling any day now.

I see the Pats knocked off Kelowna this afternoon. Bonus.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cancer claims Knox

Update: For those wondering, the memorial service for Chris Knox will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Western Christian College in Regina.

24-year old Chris Knox of Regina lost his battle with cancer this morning. Knox won the hearts of Saskatchewan Roughrider fans everywhere, who were touched by his devotion to the green-and-white, and inspired by his courage. Rest in peace Chris. Here's the story that will appear in tomorrow morning's Leader-Post:

Inspiring man
Chris Knox, who captured hearts of many, loses battle with cancer at age 24

Rob Vanstone
Friday, December 07, 2007

Chris Knox touched the Grey Cup, along with the hearts of people who followed the Saskatchewan Roughriders during their storybook season.

"Chris, more than anybody else this year, really crystallized the understanding with the players that it's not about us individually. It's about other people,'' Roughriders head coach Kent Austin said after learning that brain cancer had claimed Knox at age 24 on Friday morning. "Chris was more of a blessing to us than we were to him.''

Knox's story became public in early September, shortly after his terminal illness was diagnosed. After Knox expressed a desire to attend the annual Labour Day Classic against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, his wish was brought to the Roughriders' attention. Team president-CEO Jim Hopson promptly arranged for two prime seats to a sold-out game.

After the Roughriders won 31-26, the 24-year-old Reginan was invited into the CFL team's locker room to help the players savour the victory. But there was a greater celebration to come. Knox flew to Toronto on a provincial-government jet with Premier Brad Wall to watch the Roughriders oppose Winnipeg in the Grey Cup. The Roughriders ended up defeating the Blue Bombers 23-19 on Nov. 25.

Following the game, Roughriders players Mike McCullough, Andy Fantuz, Marcus Crandell and Corey Grant took the Grey Cup to Knox's hotel room.

"Really, he has been the 13th man for the past number of weeks in the province," Wall told reporters at the legislature on Friday. "That was the case at the Grey Cup. His story is one that, I think, is a reflection of the story of our province when you consider that his cause also resulted in so much of an outpouring from Saskatchewan people that 10 others who are battling cancer were able to go to the Grey Cup because of the additional money that was just flowing in from everywhere."

After the Roughriders defeated the B.C. Lions in the West Division final on Nov. 18, Kelly Schermann launched a fundraising campaign in the hope that enough money could be generated to fly Knox and his loved ones to Toronto for the game. Trevor Lowey of Kelvington quickly joined forces with Schermann to organize the excursion.

More than $100,000 was donated or pledged in a matter of days. As a result, there were sufficient funds to send 10 young Saskatchewan-based cancer victims and 20 chaperones to the Grey Cup, along with Knox.

"These guys are going into the most important game of their lives -- maybe the only Grey Cup of their lives -- and they're inspired by these 11 young people who came to see them,'' Schermann said on Friday. "Usually we're looking up to the people with the money, the fame and the power and the glory and these football players are deriving inspiration from young kids who are battling some really tough stuff. The story just absolutely exploded. It just was amazing.''

Schermann and Lowey hope to use any money that remains from the "Rider Pride Ride For Cancer'' to start a legacy fund in memory of Knox and Regina's Erin Lawrence. The fund would enable children with cancer to attend sporting events in Saskatchewan.

Lawrence, whom Roughriders quarterback Kerry Joseph befriended early in the 2007 season, died of stomach cancer on Aug. 6 -- one day before her 21st birthday. Joseph wore an "I Love Erin'' wristband during games as a tribute to Lawrence.

"This has become something so much more than a football game,'' Schermann said. "It's something we need to perpetuate and keep going.''

Knox. who was at home with his family when he died, is survived by his mother (Sharla Folk), stepfather (Kim Folk) and father (Ron Knox). The family also experienced heartache in 2001 when Dustin Knox -- Chris's older brother -- died in a car accident at age 20. Funeral arrangements for Chris Knox are pending.

"Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to everybody who did everything to make his wish come true,'' Kim Folk said Friday afternoon. "He got to go with 10 other kids. As a family, we're just so humbled and so appreciative.''

People also rallied around Knox in the fall to help him to take a trip to Tofino, B.C. Money donated to the Chris Knox Fund enabled him to see the ocean for the first time. Before leaving for B.C., Knox discussed his situation with the Leader-Post.

"I just can't sit here saying, 'Poor me,' ''Knox, who was treated in the Allan Blair Cancer Centre's pediatric oncology department, said in a Sept. 17 interview. You should see the little kids who have cancer. I wish you could see (fellow patient) Braden. He has the biggest smile on his face ... just the happiest kid in the world. There's no way you can sit here feeling sorry for yourself after seeing all these little kids.

"I can't complain. I had it good.''

-- with files from Murray Mandryk
© Leader-Post 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Regina Pats column for the week of Dec 5

I've been remiss in posting these columns, which appear bi-weekly in the Regina Pats' CHL Insider e-newsletter. Here's this week's:

Pats captain packs his camping gear

Regina Pats captain Logan Pyett is hoping to sample some eastern European fare over the Christmas holidays. To do so, the 19-year old blueliner first has to crack the roster of the Canadian junior national team, which will represent this country at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. The tournament opens December 26 in Pardubice and Liberec.

Pyett is one of 37 players invited to the Team Canada selection camp, which runs December 10 -14 in Calgary. The training camp roster includes 15 players from the WHL, 12 from the OHL, 8 from the QMJHL and two players from U.S. colleges. Only three returnees from last year’s squad will attend the camp.

"I was hoping to be on the list so it's a bit of a relief,” Pyett told the Regina Leader-Post. “I've always been looking forward to that next step. Now that the camp is finally here, it's really exciting. Hopefully I can play good hockey and make the team. It would be a dream come true."

Pyett is no stranger to representing Canada at international competitions. He was part of the gold medal Canadian team at the 2006 under-18 Junior World Cup championship, and also represented Canada at the World under-18 championships last year. Now, he has his sights set on the brass ring, a spot on the world under-20 team; skating alongside the top junior-aged players in the country.

“I've kind of taken every step along the way and each step has gotten a little bit bigger," Pyett said after being informed of his invitation to the selection camp. "I think they know what I can bring to the table offensively," said the smooth-skating native of Milestone, Saskatchewan. "I'm going to show them I'm not a liability defensively.”

Pyett was a key member of the Canadian team that beat Russia in this summer’s Super Series. He’s one of 22 players from that team to be invited to the world junior camp. Despite his offensive talents, his key to making the team will be strong play in the defensive zone. “That's going to be the biggest thing. In the Super Series I had a little bit different role that way. I was penalty killing probably more than I played the power play. I just had to make sure I wasn't getting scored on. It worked well for me in the Super Series and they liked what they saw so hopefully I can do it again."

Pyett is having an outstanding season with the Pats. He leads all WHL defencemen with 13 goals in 31 games. He also has 28 points and leads the team with a plus-11 rating. Obviously, he’ll be missed at home if he makes the national team. That scenario would take him out of the Pats lineup for up to nine games. The Pats will already be without the services of head coach Curtis Hunt, who will serve as an assistant coach with Team Canada for a second straight year.

"I'm excited right now, there's no doubt about it, but I have to stay focused here in Regina," added Pyett. "Hopefully while I'm still here with the Pats we can get some winning done. It's going to be tough leaving the guys. If I was to make the team I'd be away from them for a while so I just want to finish strong here in Regina. Hopefully things go well before I leave."

The Pats have a busy week ahead of them. Regina hosted Brandon on Tuesday night (a 5-2 loss), then visits Edmonton and Red Deer on Thursday and Friday, before returning home to host Kelowna Sunday afternoon at the Brandt Centre.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

SportZone lineup for Dec 3

Here's the lineup for this week's show, airing Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. on Access channel 7:

SportZone Guests for December 3/07
Community Co-Host – Corey Matthews

1. A preview of the annual Balfour Classic high school basketball tournament. Guest: Glen Fekula (Balfour Head Coach) & Bryce Patchyluk (Player).

2. The Regina Pats survive the annual west coast trip; now look to make some noise on home ice. Guest: Tim Kraus (Pats forward).

3. A profile of the Regina Ski Club, gearing up for a busy winter season. Guests: Judy Young and Brian Gray (RSC board members).

4. A profile of the Campbell Tartans boy’s volleyball team; which overcame some unique obstacles to finish third in the city. Guests: Calvin Toffan (Head Coach), Roger LePage (Assistant Coach) & James Bell (Player).

5. A profile of the Scott Collegiate junior boy’s basketball squad. Guests: Jordan Allary, Lelond Robillard & James Pratt (Players).

6. An update on the University of Regina women’s basketball team, off to a strong start in CIS play. Guests: Jessica Lynch & Jacquie Kenyon (Players).

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pyett gets the call

Regina Pats captain Logan Pyett has been named to the 37-player roster for Canada's national junior selection camp in Calgary next week. Pyett is the lone Pat invited to the camp. Blueliner Nick Ross, a 1st round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007, is conspicuous by his absence from the camp roster.

Regina native Riley Holzapfel, a forward with the Moose Jaw Warriors, has also been invited to the training camp for the World Junior team. Pats bench boss Curtis Hunt is an assistant with Team Canada, which will shoot for a 4th straight gold medal at this year's tournament in the Czech Republic.

I suspect a pair of 17-year old Pats, forward Jordan Eberle and defenceman Colten Teubert, will get the call to skate with Team Canada next year.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scoring sensation!

I am proud (holy crap am I proud!) to report 8-year old Jacob Paczko's 2-point performance led the Hockey Regina novice rec Bullets to a 3-0 victory today. Included in my offspring's offensive outburst was his first goal of the season. And since this is his first year of hockey, that makes it his first goal EVER!!!!!!!

I'd also like to take a moment to apologize to the parents sitting next to me at the moment young Jacob dented the twine. I'm sure the hearing loss is only temporary.

As for the Regina Pats, they dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Kootenay Ice last night. Jordan Eberle was the only Pat to score in the shootout. Does that surprise anyone? I assume General Manager Brent Parker's Christmas shopping list includes a little goal scoring support for Eberle. Certainly hope so, anyway.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pats devour Tigers

Well, maybe "devour" is a bit over-the-top, but the Regina Pats did look good in blanking the Medicine Hat Tigers 3-0 on Friday night. The Pats winning streak now sits at three games, and goaltender Linden Rowat has notched two shutouts in a row. Regina's home-ice record is now 12-3 on the year. Not bad!

Super sophomore Jordan Eberle opened the scoring for the Pats on a ridiculous short-handed effort, demonstrating his impressive skills by stuffing in the puck from behind the Tigers' net. Newcomer Todd Kennedy was impressive, notching a goal (his first in the WHL) and an assist. He's a definite upgrade over the departed Levi Lind.

The Pats are back in action tonight at the Brandt Centre against the Kootenay Ice. Veterans Troy Ofukany and Tim Kraus, who sat out last night for disciplinary reasons, will likely watch this one from the seats as well.