A Nov. 26 trial date has been set for the three St. Francis Xavier basketballers, Tyler Richards, Eamon Morrissy and Will Donkoh, who were charged with assault in connection with a bar fight in Antigonish, N.S., back in February. The big takeaway, though, is that Richards, who averaged a team-high 19.6 points before being suspended, is facing an extra charge.
"In court Monday, Judge John Embree ordered that an additional charge against Tyler Richards, 23, of Dartmouth, N.S., will be heard at a trial tentatively scheduled for Nov. 26.

"That’s the same date when all three players will be tried on one count each of assault causing bodily harm.

"Richards' second charge is one count of threatening to use a knife while committing an assault."
Please note the charge is threatening to use a knife, not actually using a knife. Again, let us let the facts come out and let the court decide. Talk about a little egg on the face for a great program at St. FX.

Date set for St. Francis Xavier students facing assault charges (The Canadian Press)
Blogging duty calls to point out jwcfootball.com is your destination if you want a live feed or live scoring from the Junior World Championship in Canton, Ohio. Team Canada, under Laval coach Glen Constantin, is already assured of a spot in the semi-final heading into its second round-robin game vs. Japan which kicks off at 4 p.m. in Canton, Ohio.

It's not as if this event did not come to attention earlier, but it is not clear how seriously it should be taken. Canada, Mexico and the U.S. won their first games by an aggregate score of 184-7 over New Zealand, Sweden and France. Did the French run the original Statue of Liberty play against the Americans? It would also not as a shock if the only thing written on their quarterback's play wristband was, "Prenez un genou."

All kidding aside (jokes that require users to know arcane football terms and be bilingual, that's good fun), it sounds like an event which could be beneficial for Canadian football players and coaches. Canada's staff is who's-who of good university coaches. There is a fair bit of CIS representation on the field as well. The roster is Quebec-dominated, but incoming Calgary Dinos tailback Steven Lumbala and receiver Taylor Nill (son of Dinos coach Blake Nill, who's coaching Canada's linebackers) each got in the end zone in Saturday's win over the Kiwis. Guelph defensive back Jordan Duncan also took down an interception. Another new Dino, tackle Kirby Fabien, is supposed to be impressed. Ottawa native Ron Omara, who plays junior football with the Cumberland Panthers, also had five tackles in that first game.

At the same time, it has humble beginnings. Western coach Greg Marshall had to decline an invitation to join Constantin's staff since it would have cut into recruiting time. The London Free Press also noted each player had to raise $1,000 for the trip and sacrifice three weeks of summertime employment, which is hard, especially with Ontario's tuition levels.

Did Anyone Actually Check To Make Sure The European Kids Knew How To Play Football? (Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician)
It appears Simon Fraser will get safety Ray Wladichuk back from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Wladichuk actually made the Ticats, but he elected to go back to school with two years left on his earth sciences degree.
"It's frustrating because it ended up being a waste of time. We invested all of training camp in him, and we could have somebody else here instead." — Greg Marshall, Ticats defensive coordinator, via the Hamilton Spectator
It is probably not frustrating for the Clan, presuming his heart is still set on playing football.

Wladichuk shocks Cats (Drew Edwards, Hamilton Spectator)
There will be some effort made to figure out who's where with regard to footballers who were at CFL camps but had eligibility remaining.

Queen's has lost two major contributors. OUA rushing champ Mike Giffin has made the Montréal Alouettes as a fullback and special-teamer. D-lineman Dee Sterling is still in the mix with the Edmonton Eskimos. Giffin, a free-agent signee, was in tough after converting from tailback. He realizes as much:
"I didn't go in with a good attitude last year ... My head just wasn't in it with my wife (Heidi) being eight months pregnant. I didn't think I had to perform. I was naive."
— Kingston Whig-Standard
Any fan of a particular team obviously hopes their guys get a crack at the CFL, but it is always in the back of one's mind that they might return. As The Whig has reported, middle linebacker Thaine Carter's status is unclear after he hurt his shoulder at Winnipeg Blue Bombers camp. Cornerback-kick returner Jimmy Allin is a maybe to return for a fifth season, while centre Dan Bederman is expected to return.
Being on vacation last week meant missing a couple stories, not the least of which is that details are emerging about Carleton bringing back football. The Landsdowne Live group, which is aiming to redevelop Ottawa's downtown stadium over some opposition, wants to work to place a privately funded Carleton team in the new stadium. Quoth John Ruddy, one of the Lansdowne Live leaders (and a former Ravens defensive back):
"The Ravens would utilize our professional training facilities, they’d play in a new, fan-friendly stadium and they’d leverage our marking and operations staff ... At the end of the day, I think those elements would benefit recruiting and player development and fast-track success on the field."
In other words, the Ravens would run on a model similar to Laval and Regina in football and Lakehead in hockey. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said recently that Ottawa will come back into the pro league in 2012. Three years is enough lead time for Carleton to prepare the proper exploitation for a football revival. A dual launch in '12 would be sweet, eh.

Their operation would be fairly stand-alone.
"The next step for both groups, along with any other potential donors or partners, is to put together a solid business model that would fully fund a football program through outside sources. Once that model is on paper, the school would then have to apply to Canadian Interuniversity Sport for permission to field a team."
Other questions which hang off this are:
  1. How does this affect the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who play at Lansdowne? As an ottawasun.com user noted, the Gee-Gees would not want to play at a stadium run by a group which is putting its fundraising and marketing expertise toward their cross-town rivals. It would be similar to the situation where Waterloo used Laurier's stadium for many years, the irony here being that the Gee-Gees have been a powerhouse while Carleton was an also-ran more often than not.

  2. Carleton coming back could be taken to mean another OUA school is exploring starting a football team to bring the conference to even 12. Not to play coy, but feel free to speculate away about who might be that school.
David Naylor, The Globe & Mail's football writer, also blogged on it:
"... The revitalization of Lansdowne starts to look less like the building of a home for a CFL team and more like the construction of a community asset that will be used for two sports at both the amateur and professional levels.

That is surely the message the (Jeff) Hunt group wants to get out in advance of city council vote scheduled for Aug. 26."
Carleton aims for return of football (Terri Saunders, Sun Media, June 25)

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
The latest news from Nanaimo is...there is no news.

“That was their decision, was to not make a decision,” said Bruce Hunter, VIU’s athletic director.

Canada West, he said, couldn’t come up with league schedules that were acceptable to the existing members and applying members.

The conference floated the idea of a Tier 2 that would include the three applying schools – VIU, UBC-Okanagan and the University of Northern B.C. – and recent expansion schools Thompson Rivers University and the University of the Fraser Valley.

“That wasn’t acceptable, really, to anybody,” Hunter said.

(Nobody found that acceptable? Really? I can think of some NCAA-eyeing schools who might be more inclined to hang around if they didn't have to play certain schools. Or not. Tiering may not matter much; see the comments below.)

There's going to come a time when geographic and temporal limitations make it near-impossible to have everyone play everyone else they want to play. The OUA's East and West teams play each other seldom (if at all, in some sports). Canada West's greater distances probably mean, eventually, an all-B.C. division and another with the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba schools.

Virtually nobody wants to be second-tier, and nobody in this country wants to label others as second-tier, so it's not clear what will happen when "too many" schools join the same conference. Perhaps that's why the decision on VIU was put off for a year; they're not sure what will happen either.

No CIS for VIU, for now [Greg Sasaki, Nanaimo News Bulletin]

Former McMaster standout Mike Bradwell's productive night for the Toronto Argonauts in their final pre-season tune-up vs. Hamilton did not get much mention on the TV recaps (their focus is the game-changing plays, turnovers and touchdowns), but the print journalists noticed:
"One player who made great strides was receiver Mike Bradwell, the club's first pick (13th overall) in the 2008 draft, who had a team-high six catches for 73 yards."
Toronto Star

"Argos receiver Mike Bradwell has some stiff competition to earn a spot but had a good final test, catching six passes for 73 yards."
Sun Media
One would hope that's not the kiss of death for Bradwell. How many times have you read something optimistic on Wednesday about a Canadian university player trying to make a CFL team and ... well, you know.
Consider this a blind item. Is Luca Congi not getting the job done in Riderville?
"Don't be surprised if University of Regina Rams kicker Perri Scarcelli is at Roughriders practice on Sunday.

"That's what my reliable sources in Wascana Park are confiding, anyway." — Rider Rumblings
  • Kenny Perry, 6-foot point guard (University of San Francisco transfer, native of Halifax) — Perry becomes eligible to play after sitting out a season after transferring from USF, a West Coast Conference call (same conference as Gonzaga). Three seasons ago, he averaged 14.9 and 6.5 assists for well-regarded coach Andy Hertzog at Vanier College in the CEGEP AAA league. This is two years old, but here's one assessment of Perry's potential:
    "Perry is probably a good reserve. He doesn’t have a lot of game, but he can come in, move the ball around and play some defense."
    Matt Curtis' graduation created an opening at the 1-spot. Perry could be an option there along with 5-foot-10 third-year guard Ryan Barbeau.

    Kenny Perry's dad, Fred Perry, played for Brian Heaney's Saint Mary's teams in the early 1970s (pardon the young guy for not knowing if he was on the Huskies' '72-73 national championship team). His brother, Fred Jr., definitely won at least one national title playing at St. FX for Steve Konchalski in the early 2000s. Talk about a ready-made feature story if the Mustangs return to the Final 8 this season.
  • Zacharay Angus, 6-1 guard (Hamilton St. Mary's/Blessed Sacrament club team) — According to Western's release, Angus is expected to be an "immediate impact" player. His club team won gold and bronze medals the past two springs.
  • Greg Edelsward, 6-6 forward (Burlington Aldershot) — Put him down as a potential glue guy, since the release called him "gritty."
  • Joshua Robertson, 6-7 forward (St. George's School) — Robertson was nails in the B.C. AAA title game last March, hooping 24 points from inside and out as the St. George's Saints survived a white-knuckle ride to beat Vancouver College by one point. (P.S. Only in Canada would you see "three-point goals" make it into print.)

    Between Perry and Robertson, Western coach Brad Campbell has one recruit from the East Coast and one from the West Coast.
Another question to be answered for the two-time OUA West champs is whether forward Keenan Jeppesen will return for his fifth and final year of eligibility. Western is a different team with Jeppesen on the floor.
Condolences are due to everyone connected with Alberta Golden Bears hockey after the death of Dale Masson, who played for the U of A during the back half of the 1990s. He was a two-time all-Canadian and won the University Cup in 1998-99 to go along with the Memorial Cup ring he earned in 1992 with the Kamloops Blazers.

From Gregg Drinnan's Taking Note:
"Dale Masson, who played goal for five WHL seasons, died Saturday while taking part in the Kananaskis 100-kilometre relay. He was 36.

Masson played for the Kamloops Blazers and Victoria Cougars (1989-94) before going on to play five years with the U of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, the last four as the starter. He finished his CIS career with a national championship as the Golden Bears won it all in Saskatoon.

"He ended up studying law at the U of Alberta. He graduated in 2004 and was working for Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer in Calgary at the time of his death.

"Masson is survived by his wife, Tanya, and two sons – Wyatt, 2, and Sam, two months.

"Funeral arrangements will be finalized later in the week but the tentative plan is for a service to be held Friday afternoon in Calgary."
Financial contributions may be made to assist with the well-being of Masson's young family. Donations may be sent directly to:
Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer LLP
1400, 350 - 7 Avenue, S.W.,
Calgary, AB T
2P 3N9 ,
Attn. Wayne Weger.
Cheques should be made payable to Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP, in trust for the Masson Family Trust.

Masson remembered as quiet with a sense of humour (Mark Hunter, Kamloops Daily News)
There are a few things to note in this Gleaner piece on Kelsey Hodgson, the all-star guard from the Capers, who's heading to the World University Games in a few days. Of course, she's excited about it:

So excited, in fact that she has postponed an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in Sydney who wants to examine her for "compartment syndrome," a medical condition in which increased pressure within a confined space in the body impairs blood supply. Surgery may be required, but Hodgson won't pass up an opportunity to represent Canada on the international stage.

Something else that jumps out:
"I'm not a big tourist anyway," she said. "I'm there to play basketball. That's my number one reason for being there."
Having never been to Belgrade, I can't say whether she's missing out on the sights by intending to focus on hotel rooms, airports, and basketball courts, but Kate Hole had a few thoughts on this:

Obviously sport is the most important—I mean, basketball is the reason we travel at all—but I believe that you’re missing out on something crucial if you don’t make a point of seeing what each city has to offer. I had a blast in Thailand at the FISU Games, but we were kept forcibly within the confines of our university campus and (besides one quick jaunt to a night market) we didn’t do any touring at all. I came back from my trip and people asked me, “So what did you see? What did you do?” and my regrettable answer was “Outside of basketball? Well… not a lot.”

Anyway, it's nobody's place to say basketball experiences are inherently lesser than non-basketball ones, and it's fair to say there's a bit of jealousy coming from the guy who's forced fortunate enough to spend his summer in southwestern Ontario.

As for the injuries, it's hard to begrudge her an chance to play for Canada, and Hodgson isn't the first athlete to postpone medical treatment in order to participate in some event. Still, given what she played through last year (and with this excerpt from Warrior Girls still hanging around in the memory banks), one hopes that this doesn't catch up with her, and the folks at Cape Breton hope even more.

Hoop star Hodgson on a high [Bill Hunt, The Gleaner]
The St. Catharines Standard detailed Brock's recruiting class. Suffice to say, the Ken Murray's Badgers will likely be far and away the OUA West's youngest team, with three sophomores and two freshmen in the starting five. Brock should have only one player next season who's beyond his third year of eligibility.
  • Clinton Springer-Williams, 6-foot-5 swingman (London Regina Mundi) — Springer-Williams is pencilled in to start as the third guard alongside Brock's sophomore duo of Didi Mukendi and Joel Whitty. Check out the quote Badgers coach Ken Murray gave to The Standard about Springer-Williams:
    "He's probably going to be the most exciting player we've had in our lineup in a long, long, time."
    Springer-Williams, a HoopStars Canada top 50 player, had a tryout for Canada's junior national team, drew NCAA D-1 interest from the likes of Davidson, which had its Cinderella run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament in 2008 — not unlike Brock did in the Final 8, eh.

  • Brian Nahimana, 6-9 forward (London Montcalm) — Nahimana, who was also in the HoopStars top 50, is expected to be a shot blocker in the mould of Gord Wood, who was a force on Brock's great teams in the early 1990s (that era peaked with Murray's first national title in 1992). Nahimana boasts an 86-inch wingspan, which will come in handy, especially since Brock seems to prefer using a lineup with only one true big (based on the way their '08 team played).

  • Andrew Cicuttini, 6-6 forward, Dundas Parkside — City all-star in Hamilton last season who helped Parkside reach OFSAA three seasons in a row.

  • Riley Halpin, 6-7 forward (Halifax Citadel) — Halpin also offers some shot-blocking acumen and will probably be eventually looked at to replacing the inside scoring of Owen White, the '08 Final 8 MVP who finished his career this past season.

  • Nathan Samuels, 5-11 guard, Brantford Assumption — The buzzword with Samuels would be seem to be quickness; Mukendi and Springer-Williams are pretty fast too.

  • Anto Raic, 6-7 forward, Welland Notre Dame — Perimeter threat who's billed as an under-the-radar game. Oddly enough, he's about the same height and plays the same position as McMaster's Cam Michaud, another player out of Ontario's fruit belt.

  • Alex Reis, 6-4 guard, Hamilton Cathedral — Another perimeter threat, out of a well-regarded sports school in the Hammer.
London star headlines talented and deep recruiting class (Bernie Pulchaski, The St. Catharines Standard)
Laurier's women's basketball recruiting class includes one last name which will jump out at you:

  • Alena Luciani, 5-foot-11 forward (Oakville Holy Trinity) — You guessed it, she's the younger sister of former Laurier football stalwarts Dante and Vince Luciani (Dante made the catch on a third-and-long which helped set up the Golden Hawks' winning field goal in the 2005 Vanier vs. Saskatchewan).

    Alena Luciani did a post-graduate year at Berkshire Prep in New England, so she stands to come in a little more seasoned than the typical rookie.

  • Anna Southall-Millward, 5-11 post (Hamilton Westdale) — Laurier's press release notes that Southwall-Millward is expected to have "immediate impact." Hamilton, as you know, is the hotbed of female hoops in Ontario, and Southall-Millward's school and club teams each won provincial medals in Ontario's top divisions this season. Her Westdale Warriors lost out in the semis at quad-A OFSAA, but she helped her Blessed Sacrament club team win the OBA Division 1 gold this spring.

    (It is presumed OFSAA still gives a medal to the fourth-place team at a basketball or volleyball championship. It's one of those odd Ontario things you just accept, like having high school graduation in October.)

  • Nicole Roeder, 5-7 guard (Waterloo Collegiate/K-W Lightning) — Roeder was an intergral part of the Waterloo Vikings winning the OFSAA quad-A bronze medal last season, over Southall-Millward's team no less.

  • Aimee Van Dam, 6-foot-1 forward (Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg) — It's unclear what calibre of competition the CMU Blazers face, since colleges in Manitoba are outside the CCAA structure. However, Van Dam had a few double-doubles last winter while playing against the likes of Minot State-Bottineau, and she can block shots.
Coach Paul Falco's Golden Hawks lost out to eventual OUA champion Windsor in the second round of the playoffs. The Golden Hawks open Aug. 29 vs. the Vermont. The game will be a homecoming for Catamounts guard May Kotsopoulos, who starred at Waterloo Collegiate.
From afar, one theme of Jack Drover's four decades at Mount Allison was the tugging match between competitive goals and student participation in varsity athletics. In his time, Mount A went from having a nationally ranked men's hockey team in the '70s to not having one by the end of the '90s. It went from producing a timeless football player such as two-time Hec Crighton winner Éric Lapointe to once losing 105-0 on the gridiron to Saint Mary's.

The Times & Transcript's article certainly captured that:
"... (Drover's) other top memories include guiding the men's soccer team to AUS championships in 1978 and 1990, taking the reins of the women's hockey team one day before its first ever season in 2002, watching his son, Scott, play two years of men's soccer in the Mounties' garnet and gold, and last October's Globe and Mail Canadian University Report Card that gave Mount Allison an A- for its recreation and athletic programs.

"There were tough times, too. Most notably, the 1998 decision to cut the men's hockey team. Citing gender equity, increased professionalism in men's hockey and the need to re-allocate funds to other areas, Mount Allison pulled the plug on its century-old men's hockey program."
There are a lot of external factors which have affected smallish AUS schools located outside of Halifax, the Maritimes' hub city. Mount A has a tough job recruiting, given that it's hard to hide the football players in a very brainy student body of only 3,000 or so students. It owes more to some of the small liberal arts colleges in New England which play at the Division 3 level, rather than being a scale model of a D-1 school, like most varsity programs in the other three conferences.

Times have changed, plain and simple. Everyone has a soft spot for Mount Allison and hopes they can be competitive, but it's a tough job. Drover's successor will have to be very innovative.

Mount Allison veteran athletic director wraps up 35-year career (Sean Hatchard, Moncton Times & Transcript)
Here you thought McGill alum Kevin O'Neill was walking into a buzzsaw in 2003 when he became coach of the Toronto Raptors right when Vince Carter was beginning the Big Sulk. He has been hired as coach of the USC Trojans, who are in hot water with NCAA investigators these days. The reaction has been less than warm, but please keep in mind there is always squawking no matter who is coach.

For those who have not been following it, USC is facing an NCAA investigation which mostly revolves around the recruitment of O.J. Mayo, who did his obligatory one year of college and became a NBA lottery pick in 2008. Former coach Tim Floyd has already resigned. The L.A. Times' Adam Rose notes:
"A USC spokesperson confirmed this is not considered an interim hire, which surprised this writer. Terms of the contract, including length, have not been released. O'Neill may ultimately prove just to be a stopgap measure. But, hey, anything can happen in sports. Carroll certainly wasn't the choice for the football job."
They might as well go with O'Neill. USC might need a coach with a us-against-the-world mentality, since recruiting is going to be very difficult.

USC hires Kevin O’Neill to replace Floyd as coach (The Associated Press)
USC hires Kevin O'Neill; fans don't seem thrilled (Adam Rose, The Fabulous Forum)
The Toronto Star's high school and university sportswriter David Grossman had a post which some athletic administrators might want to mull over.
"I find it surprising that, with the exception of the University of Guelph, not a peep from Canadian universities and colleges about the student athletes they are luring or have already accepted - and with those small entrance scholarships. I guess it's something. I am not so sure those athletic awards or bursaries or grants (Ontario universities don't like when we call them scholarships) are widely known."

" ...Canadian universities need to become more aggressive promoting their new recruits.

"Oh yes, and the existing ones too."
It is fair comment.

By the same token, it is a bit rich to say there has not been so much as a "peep" about recruiting and newcomers. A quick check of cisblog.ca's archive shows that since the recruiting label was added in March, there have been posts on newcomers for the following CIS schools and teams:
  • Acadia (men's basketball)
  • Alberta (football, men's basketball)
  • UBC (football, men's hockey)
  • Carleton (men's basketball)
  • Guelph (men's hockey, men's basketball)
  • Lakehead (men's and women's basketball)
  • Manitoba (men's hockey)
  • Queen's (football, men's hockey)
  • Regina (men's hockey)
  • Saint Mary's (women's basketball)
  • Western (football, women's basketball)
  • Windsor (men's basketball)
  • UVic (women's basketball)
Please bear in mind that is limited by how much time the authors have to dedicate to this aspect of university sport. The reason for not doing it is (A) there are plenty of message boards and sites such as HoopStars Canada for basketball and All Canada Gridiron for football which already focus on this very well; (B) it's assumed that our readers also visit the athletics websites of the schools they follow, so a regurge can waste good time and bandwidth and (C) it's hard to determine sometimes how much space you should give to incoming players who were heretofore unknown to you.

For this site's purposes, it's far more productive to sit down in July, August and September and try to project lineups for the marquee team sports such as football and basketball.

Calling all recruits (David Grossman, School Sports Blog, Toronto Star)
A short note: University Football Reporters of Canada, the new association of journalists across the country helmed by The FAN 590 host Mike Hogan and Jim Mullin, sports director of CKNW in Vancouver, announced yesterday it is taking the reins of the Top 10 voting and player of the week selections.

Previously, the CIS held a media poll. The UFRC's poll will include both coaches and media, which will likely include a mix of traditional media and writin'-for-the-web guys.

Again, this site really seems like a good way to bring together the writers and broadcasters who have a real passion for Canadian university football. University sports are nichey in Canada, but those like it, like it a lot, and it sort of emboldens one in her/his efforts to know there are others out there.
The Queen's Gaels have been awarded the 2012 CIS men's volleyball championship, eight weeks to the day of its opening of the Queen's Centre.

Obviously, it's a pretty big coup for Gaels coach Brenda Willis and AD Leslie Dal Cin. It will be the first time Queen's has hosted a national championship in a winter team sport, and several players off their present roster, including outside Joren Zeeman (second-year), middle Anthony Pitfield and libero Alex Oneid, would potentially still be on the team. Via the press release:
"The entire Eastern Ontario region has a strong core of avid volleyball followers," said Dal Cin. "Our new venue combined with additional areas of athlete support and general excitement about volleyball in Kingston will make this a memorable event for participants and fans alike."
The construction of the Queen's Centre has had the usual controversies (cost overruns, the decision to scrap an arena and the way some student fees that went to the construction were passed). However, getting a national championship is something new for the university and for Kingston. The region has been on a building booms with arenas; in fact, the three big junior hockey teams, the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs, OJHL's Kingston Kimco Voyaguers and the Junior C Napanee Raiders all play in rinks which are less than five years old. (Kingston Mayor Harvey Rosen said last night that the Voyageurs will host the RBC Cup in three years ago, so there could be more big stuff going on in K-town in 2012.)

The men's v-ball is out west for the next two years (Thompson Rivers in '10 and Trinity Western in '11). Laval will host in 2013. All told, the CIS announced hosts for 13 championships in v-ball, soccer, cross-country and athletics today.

Queen's has the CIS cross-country championships this fall; previously, the only nationals they had hosted were cross-country in '99 and men's soccer back in '91.

(It was almost cold enough that day in '99 for cross-country to count as a winter sport.)
It would be remiss to omit that Mario Gaetano, one of Andy Sparks' assistant coaches with defending OUA East women's basketball champion Ottawa, was honoured by the Ottawa-area high school league
"Mario's teams' winning records are outstanding and obviously impressive, but most impressive is the manner in which he conducts himself as a coach and educator with young, impressionable student-athletes." — convener Laura Gillespie, via Scouring The Sidelines
Gaetano has coached for many years with the St. Matthew Tigers and St. Peter Knights, rival teams in Ottawa's east end.
The Manitoba Bisons have added another Western Hockey League grad to their roster for the upcoming season with the commitment of forward Ian Duval. Duval finished up his junior career with the WHL champion Kelowna Rockets.

Duval put up a career year splitting time between the Moose Jaw Warriors and Rockets. Duval was better than a point per game player during the regular season tallying 61 points in 57 regular season games, and was impressive in the playoffs notching 10 goals and eight assists en route to the Rockets trip to the Memorial Cup in Rimouski.

Duval, a native Winnipeger, will join fellow WHL grads and Manitobans Jesse Deckert and Brandon Lockerby as part of the Bisons for the 2009-2010 season. Deckert, a 22 year old netminder, has limited CIS experience after a brief four game stint with the Lethbridge Pronghorns during the 2007-2008 season and will be attempting a comeback with the Bisons. He spent parts of five seasons in the WHL and had his most succesful campaign in 2005-2006 with the Prince Albert Raiders when he posted a 19-20-3 record with a 2.70 GAA and .909 save %. A Winnipeg boy himself, Deckert will provide depth for the Bisons in net, playing behind starting netminder Steve Christie who started all 28 of the Bisons regular season games last season.

Lockerby, a 6"0 defenceman had seven goals and 28 assists for a 35 point campaign with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Lockerby spent four seasons in the WHL, with the 2008-2009 season being the first in which he saw time in more than 40 games. The Douglas, MB native took advantage of that increased game action leading the Oil Kings in defenceman scoring.

The Bisons also have the commitment of Blair Macaulay who had an impressive season with 86 points in only 38 regular season games with the Winnipeg Saints of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The 5"11 forward had WHL stints with both the Saskatoon Blades and Tri-City Americans in between his time with the Saints.
Neat story about sophomore-to-be York Lions forward Cassidy Preston creating his own summer job by running a program called Complete Hockey Training.
"Never one to settle for a typical summer job, Preston ... has spent most of the past decade avoiding work indoors at the mall or flipping burgers at a fast food joint by plying his trade as a hockey player at various summer camps.

"That experience allowed the kinesiology student to develop his own training regimen about three years ago, using both his parents' basement and friend's garage as a two-pronged base of operations to train a handful of local hockey players.

"The past couple years, however, Preston has moved his summer livelihood to the spacious confines of Canadore College, Elite Hockey and the worldwide web, to help young hockey players improve their game by aiming to increase their speed, power, strength, agility, balance, reaction time and flexibility."
For a lack of a more profound term, it's always nice to see a student parlaying her/his knowledge into paying work in mid-degree and sharing information.

Ex-Trapper prepping for busy OUA off season (Jordan Ercit, North Bay Nugget)
You might have seen mention about the trial of Robin Gomez, a Victoria Salmon Kings player who is charged with assault causing bodily harm in connection with a fight that occurred during an ECHL game in March 2008.

What people might be interested to know is that former Ottawa Gee-Gees goalie Jordan Watt (pictured) is one of Gomez's defence lawyers, along with his father, Alexander "Sandy" Watt.

Gomez's accuser is Chris Ferraro, a former NHLer who was playing for the Las Vegas Wranglers. Here's the crux of what's before the court, as detailed by the
Victoria Times-Colonist:
"Gomez can be seen stepping onto the ice from the Salmon Kings bench, skating up to the Wranglers forward and punching him on the right side of the face. The blow sends Ferraro to the ice, hitting his head, as the crowd screams and a brawl breaks out between the two teams.

" 'I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Ten to 15 minutes later, I was coming out of an unconscious state, getting (eight) stitches to the back of my head,' said Ferraro, whose twin brother, Peter, also a Wranglers player, sat in the court gallery.

" ...Ferraro said that for about five weeks after the attack, he suffered from Bell's palsy, a short-term paralysis to the left side of his face."
It's for the court to decide if a criminal conviction is warranted

It just seems like an interesting intersection of the highways and byways of Canadian hockey and legal annals.

Watt played for the Gee-Gees from 2000-04 and after a two-year stint as an assistant coach, ended up playing a fifth and final season in '06-07. Before you form preconceived notions about the son of a lawyer who is now a lawyer, he had an unusual background for a hockey player and a lawyer. Watt was raised mostly by his mother, who died when he was 14, and his grandparents. He didn't play hockey until he was in his teens, and made his first WHL team as a walk-on. He was a very good interview subject, so it seemed post-worthy when I saw his name pop up in the news.

Assault trial of former Salmon King: Star hockey player says he was sucker-punched; Fighting is regular part of hockey, defence says (Katie DeRosa, Victoria Times-Colonist)
Trial on hockey assault charge opens in Victoria (CBC.ca)

(Links via Gregg Drinnan at Taking Note.)
Queen's announced two newbies for coach Brett Gibson:
  • Stéphane Chabot, defence — The 6-foot-1, 208-lb. Rockland, Ont., native is pretty much your standard stay-at-home D-man. Chabot helped the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs reach the RBC Cup, the national Junior A championship last season, after playing in the OHL (if not for an OHL team) with the cross-town Frontenacs in 2007-08. His first two major junior seasons were in Brampton.

    It's not surprising Queen's would recruit a player from the Voyageurs. Gibson and assistant coaches Alyn McCauley and Andrew Haussler are all Vees alumni.

  • Payton Liske, winger — Listed at 6-foot-4, 212 lbs., Liske should bring some beef up front and the numbers he put up with Saint John in the QMJHL the past two seasons (18 and 19 goals, 43 and 45 points) suggest he might add some badly needed scoring punch for the Gaels. Queen's scored an OUA-worst 57 goals last winter. It doesn't take P.J. Stock to point out you cannot win many games if you don't score a lot of goals, although P.J. Stock probably would point that out.

    Liske played for Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL before getting his release and going to the QMJHL. (Saint John seems to lead the Q in taking former OHLers.)

(It was kind of a running joke in Kingston hockey circles last season that the Voyageurs had their best season in team history while using three players who had been released by the OHL's Frontenacs. Out of Left Field has been known to satirize the Fronts' futility once in a while, but it's aimed at their management, never the players.)
What's depicted on the right, from the RiderFans Twitter, would be very welcome news for Saskatchewan Roughriders fans.

After all, former Hec Crighton Trophy winner Andy Fantuz, who starred at Western, and free-agent signee Jason Clermont (U of Regina), are already drawing comparisons to the Canadian slotbacks the 'Riders had when they won a Grey Cup 20 years ago, Ray Elgaard and Jeff Fairholm. (Granted, the bigger worry in Riderville this spring is who is going to be throwing the passes, not who's catching them.)

Meantime, the Regina Leader-Post's beat writers had some nnotes on second-year Canadian wideout Rob Bagg (Queen's) in their dispatches from Sunday's workouts, posted at Rider Rumblings.
"On the turf, Chris Jones and Rob Bagg took turns making dazzling catches. Bagg made a lovely gliding catch on a pass from Dalton Bell and Jones showed his speed when he cut under a defender for what turned out to be an easy reception. He just made it look effortless.

"LB Sean Lucas and Bagg also had a spirited battle during one-on-one drills. It was a great moment within training camp. Lucas had Baggg covered on a sideline route. Bagg battled to get open and Bell delivered the perfect pass for the catch. It was a play where everyone did their job. Pretty to watch."
Former Ottawa Gee-Gees receiver Adam Nicolson also "went down during a drill with an injury to his left knee or calf." It seems like Nicolson, the former B.C. Lions draft choice, has often been snakebitten with injuries.

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field, which also has a Twitter, twitter.com/outofleftfield.)
There's a little news about Bol Kong.

Kong, just for anyone needing a refresher, is a guard from Vancouver who was supposed to go to a big-time basketball school, Gonzaga, two years ago but, as a citizen of Sudan, was kept out due to visa issues. However, Kong is among 19 college-age and slightly older players whom Canada Basketball has invited to a development camp which begins Monday in Toronto. It wouldn't figure that Canada Basketball would invite someone unless he had received citizenship or was very close to doing so, right? SB Nation's Gonzaga blog, The Slipper Still Fits, jumped to that conclusion, so might as well join 'em there.
"If Bol is a Canadian citizen, he can clearly enter the United States of America. Therefore, if Bol can enter the United States of America, he can play basketball for Gonzaga University (look at my Gonzaga education at work).

"This certainly goes along with what we had been hearing, which was that everything was looking good for Bol, and I wouldn't be overly surprised to see him here in late June for the second session of summer school. What I do know is this is the most definitive news I have seen publicly on the status of Bol, and I think we can start preparing to finally see Bol in a Gonzaga uniform, after over a year of speculation."
It's of interest to this site snce there was strong speculation about six weeks ago Kong might play at Trinity Western University if it didn't work out with Gonzaga.

Anyway, calls and e-mails are in to Canada Basketball in hope of getting some confirmation.

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)

Here Comes Kong!!! (The Slipper Still Fits)
Former McGill all-Canadian defenceman David Urquhart has earned a new one-year contract with the American Hockey League's Hartford Wolf Pack, the farm club of the NHL's New York Rangers.

Urquhart played 58 games in Hartford, recording 14 points (6G-8A) and a +13 plus/minus. That's not a bad first year in pro hockey, especially for someone used to playing about 40-45 games in collegiate hockey. Even four-year NCAA players need time to make that adjustment.

(As an Ottawa resident who's not a Senators fans, it's tempting to say if carrying Wade Redden's contract ever gets too burdensome for the Rangers, they could send him to Hartford and call up Urquhart.)
Women's basketball in the OUA West last season was the Big One (Windsor) and the Other Seven, but Western having National Elite Development Agency alumna Jacklyn Selfe set to play in January might alter the dynamic.

Selfe, a 5-foot-10 guard with extensive Team Ontario experience, has transferred in after a half-season at Troy in the Sun Belt Conference. ESPN.com identified her as one of the top 10 players in Canada in the class of 2008. With the graduation of Bess Lennox, Western is going to need someone to step up scoring-wise and the rebounding might have to become more of a group effort, so having a big guard would not hurt in that respect.
"This is great news for our program. To welcome in a player of Jacklyn's calibre has us very excited I've known Jacklyn for the greater part of her high school career and was always impressed with her on the court as well as how she conducted herself off the court. As a player she is a constant triple threat, being a superb passer, shooter and ball-handler." — Western women's coach Steph Barrie, via press release
Selfe has been occasionally limited on the court by compartment syndrome which — as near as this former English major can understand — is a cause of what used to be known more casually as shin splints. Western does have an excellent sports therapy clinic, so that should help Selfe.

Meantime, pun aficionados can look forward to the first time Selfe finds a Mustangs teammate for an open layup and the play-by-play announcer calls it a "Selfe-less act." Sorry, that was terrible.
It's more idle talk at this point, but out in B.C. there's speculation about the Lions someday having two Canadian tailbacks: Jamall Lee, a West Coast guy who played university football back East at Bishop's, and Andrew Harris, a Winnipegger who plays junior football in Vancouver.

" 'We (Canadians) can play ball too, right?' says Harris. 'A lot of Americans come up here and they're shell-shocked, because it's such a different game. Being a Canadian can play into your favour in most situations.'

"Harris has broached the northern backfield idea with Lee, a two-time CIS rushing champion from Bishop's, via Facebook.

" 'I told him, "You've gotta come back to make an all-Canadian backfield," ' Harris says. 'That would be pretty cool. But I'm still a while away from that possibility. I just got to take it day by day so I can get there.' "
For that scenario to happen, correct me if I'm wrong (please!), the Lions would need to be able to draft Andrew Harris in a year's time. He's at their camp on a territorial exemption.

Still, after seeing his highlight reel, it's fun to imagine him and Lee lining up together. Harris looks pretty impressive.

(And of course, the Edmonton Eskimos are trying a Canadian tailback platoon with former McMaster Hec Crighton Trophy winner Jesse Lumsden and Calvin McCarty.)

Lions backfield could make Canada proud (Mike Beamish, Canwest News Service)
There isn't enough time to chronicle all the comings and goings with CIS athletes trying out for the CFL, but former Concordia all-Canadian Mike Renaud might get getting a shot to punt full time for Winnipeg, reports the Calgary Herald. He's been dealt for a conditional sixth-round pick:
"(Renaud) did enough good things over the past week and a bit here to become employable, and it paid off on Saturday with a trade to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, whose punting woes over the past couple seasons have been well-chronicled.
He was a long-shot to beat out his former Concordia teammate Burke Dales with the Stamps, of course, but word spread quickly about Renaud’s performance."
Winnipeg seems to be the Team X in pre-season, between having four quarterbacks competing for the starting job. (Personally, Stefan LeFors is the guy to root for, since he's a rare left-handed passer in the CFL and he has the same last name as a minor character in Mallrats.)

On the kicking side, placekicker, Alexis Serna is an American whose punting is best described as a work-in-progress, since he did it for only one season when he was at Oregon State. Meantime, feel-good story Dan Giancola has a hamstring problem and, hey, Renaud is live and kicking.

Renaud gets his shot in Winnipeg (Allan Cameron, Stamps Insider)
As the old saw has it in basketball, you can't teach height. Our own Greg Layson reports on the Guelph Gryphons' redwood-sized recruits. It's no small wonder people are hailing Guelph's recruiting class as one of the OUA's best anywhere south or west of Ottawa.
"Coach Chris O'Rourke yesterday announced a commitment from 6-foot-9 centre Colton Hood, who will join the team in September and study psychology.

"Hood is the third high school recruit to stand 6-foot-9 or taller. John Brutto (6-foot-9) and Dan Latka (6-foot-11) are the others.

" 'It was a priority, no question. We needed to get bigger and deeper inside,' O'Rourke said. 'We've been trying to do that for a few years. You need that component if you're going to win.' "

"The rival Western Mustangs, with a towering, athletic front court, won the West Division regular season and championship before losing the OUA championship and CIS semifinal to the eventual national champion Carleton Ravens."
Hood attended Rockway Mennonite near Kitchener, a provincial powerhouse in Ontario's small school divisions. Brutto is from London St. Thomas Aquinas, while Latka is from Parry Sound, a town which one produced a pretty noteworthy hockey player.

Gryphons cagers reach new heights; Three recruits stand 6-foot-9 or better (Greg Layson, Guelph Mercury)
Les Berry landed on his feet after his departure from Acadia, finishing out last season with Nova Scotia's minor pro team, the Halifax Rainmen.

Metro Halifax is reporting Berry will be back with the Rainmen, who play in the Premier Basketball League. Berry previously was the women's coach at Brandon and an assistant to Ross Quackenbush at Saint Mary's.

Rainmen bring back Berry (Matthew Wuest, Metro Halifax)
Credit is due to the Charlotte sportswriter who coined a new term — Canadian running — in a profile Jamall Lee, the Bishop's tailback who's on the Carolina Panthers' roster. It makes up for running over all the well-trod stereotypes about bacon, excessive politeness, snow and using British spelling.

Basically, Jamall Lee is fitting in well. The veterans would not be teasing him if they didn't respect his ability.
"Teammates try to mimic his accent, ask him how Canadians act and talk, and want to know about cultural differences such as bacon vs. Canadian bacon.

"They also kid him about his upright running style, telling him that's Canadian running right there. But the style is no joke. Unless Lee lowers his body, and thus his pads, to take advantage of his size (6-foot-1, 225 pounds), he'll present too large a target for defenders. If he returns to Canada, nobody wants it to be with a limp.

"Lee says he's learning to get lower. What he doesn't have to work on is his first step. Although he's big, his acceleration appears instant.

" 'As he's learned our system I'm seeing more of that speed,' coach John Fox says after Wednesday's summer camp practice. 'The more comfortable he's gotten, the better he's looked.' "
Maybe it's time to get some money down on whether Casey Printers will play for the B.C. Lions this season before Lee does.

Canadian Lee makes strides with Panthers (Tom Sorensen, Charlotte Observer)
Carter Smith, who was a 20-goal man with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels, is headed to the Regina Cougars, who have been a goal-starved team in Canada West across the past two seasons.

Tim Switzer notes the Cougars scored just 65 goals last season and 60 in 2007-08. That works out to just 2.23 goals per game if our Ontario public education system math is to be trusted. Quoth Blaine Sautner:
"I'm not saying he’s going to come in and score 15 or 20 for us, but if he can score from eight to 10 that would be a good first year."
It's always good to see more newspapers taking an interest in CIS hockey recruiting. It might speak to how more people are becoming aware of the quality of play.

U of R Cougars hockey coach hopes Carter Smith can improve team (Tim Switzer, Regina Leader-Post, June 8)
Presumably those in the know knew already, but Windsor has lost guard Steve Priolo to another sport, lacrosse. Granted, with another big guard, 6-foot-6 Justin Wiltshire, transferring in, coach Chris Oliver has covered his tracks.

The St. Catharines Standard reported that the 6-foot-5 Priolo has quit basketball, opting to focus on lacrosse, where he's playing Junior A with the St. Catharines Athletics.
"I got a scholarship for basketball and didn't work out, but it was an easy transition back to lacrosse. It’s the same sport defensivley except lacrosse is more fun because you can hit."
Priolo averaged 3.8 points and 2.6 points in 14 OUA games last season. You can hardly fault him for switching sports. You only get to be young, fit and 20 once.

(Two lacrosse posts in one 24-hour news cycle has got to be a cisblog.ca record.)

Priolo changes pace with move to lacrosse (Bill Potrecz, St. Catharines Standard)
Chances are you might not be checking out the OUA website regularly in June, so you might have missed the news that Western Mustangs attackwoman Lindsay Doxtator is playing for the Haudenosaunee entry at the Women's Lacrosse World Cup which begins next week in Prague.

For generations there was a taboo against women taking up the stick, as the release explains:
"The Haudenosaunee will be the first team of women to represent the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the Women's World Cup. Lacrosse is seen as a sacred sport to the Iroquois and was traditionally a sport reserved for only men. In earlier tournaments, clan mothers protested the women's team playing the sacred sport and threatened to lay down on the field to prevent them from playing."
The mere fact there is a Haudenosaunee team seems pretty significant. Doxtator, who's from Six Nations, is one of only two players from a Canadian university going to the tournament.
The Étienne Légaré experiment is in full swing at the Toronto Argonauts camp. The Argos used the No. 2 overall pick in the CFL draft on someone who was a meast (half man, half beast) in the middle of Laval's defensive line, but who is old for a rookie at age 26 and also is working in his second language. Légaré is working through it, though:
"It's tough. I have to understand all the football stuff and I have to express myself in English ... It's not my first language, so sometimes the word doesn't come."
Meantime, first-year Argos coach Bart Andrus had some glowing praise:
"We have a little saying around here: 'You're going to be respected in the CFL by the way you play on video,' And when you put the practice video on and you watch him, he's doing the things that veteran players start to do.

"I think that combined with his motor -- he's got a high motor -- is something that's well respected by the team as a whole and by his position group. He's starting to make that transition from college to pro football."

Late bloomer makes impact at Argos camp; Rookie Legare; Lineman has been playing for just six years (Michael Traikos, National Post)
Both Lakehead basketball teams have shown a flair for recruiting from far and wide. OUA West all-star Kiraan Posey was from Baltimore, while the women's team has a Japanese player, Chiaki Nakamura.

The Thunderwolves men's recruiting class includes 6-foot-5 guard Matt Nagy, a native of Arkansas who helped his his prep school team win a state championship in New Jersey last season. Who knows how well he'll adjust, but you have to credit Lakehead for taking a shot at bringing in a U.S. player.

Another addition is 6-foot guard Cam Hornby, who previously played at South Dakota St. and Winnipeg.

The Lakehead women have announced some recruits from some good Ontario high school programs:

  • Erin Duhaime, 5-foot-7 guard, London Oakridge (high school), London Ramblers (club): Duhaime led her high school team to the city finals last season and won a provincial juvenile title with her club team in 2008. Both her parents were Lakehead athletes (mom in hoops, dad in wrestling).

  • Tamara Duncan, 5-foot-9 wing, Dryden: It's somewhat noteworthy that Duncan went all the way to Winnipeg for her club ball. She also helped her high school team win an OFSAA volleyball medal this winter.

  • Dana Rae Somerville, 5-foot-8 guard, Ottawa St. Matthew, Ottawa Shock: Somerville, who is also a national-level rugby player, is coming out a hothouse for women's hoops, Ottawa's east end. She played for a club program coached by Ottawa Gee-Gees coach Andy Sparks, while she's coming out an area of the city which has produced Canada Basketball stalwarts such as Steph MacDonald (sophomore at Canisius) and Courtnay Pilypaitis (senior at Vermont). It's hard to believe Carleton and Ottawa let her get away.

Ex-Tiger headed to Canada (Benton County Daily Record)
For those who haven't seen, Samuel Giguère, the Sherbrooke receiver who was on the Indianapolis Colts' roster last season, is on the mend from a fractured fibula.

Giguère's CFL rights belong to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. One wonders how much time a NFL team can spare for an undrafted free agent who has a broken leg. There's a lot of time until training camp, so you'd assume Giguère would get at least one more go at making the Colts as a reserve receiver and special teams contributor.
"I looked at the last two years," he said. "One play I look like I'm an all-pro in the NFL and the next four or five I shouldn't even be starting in (Canadian Interuniversity Sport)." — Ricky Foley
Former York standout Ricky Foley trying to establish himself at Cam Wake's defensive-end spot for the B.C. Lions is a good training story. The Lions already start one Canadian at d-end.
"Foley again began his quest for a spot as a second non-import starter on the front four alongside Brent Johnson, a feat that could well set a precedent in the three-down league."
The subtext, of course, is that even at age 26, Foley is still relatively raw. He was a Southern Ontario farmboy, "as country as an ear of unshucked corn," (Mike Beamish, Vancouver Sun) who never put on the pads before enrolling at York U. However, just on his potential, Foley got a look from the NFL despite his dearth of experience and football pedigree.

The question has become whether that he can be turned into a more complete football player, not just someone who's exceptionally big and fast. The Lions have 1980s sackmaster James 'Quick' Parker tutoring him, so here's hoping it works out (except when B.C. plays Saskatchewan). Like Parker says:
"You can't just speed-rush people. "He has some speed but if they take away your speed rush what are you going to do? I think I can teach him some stuff for sure."

Foley brings new attitude this time around; Defensive end expected to have larger role with team this season (Lowell Ulrich, Vancouver Province)
Kitchener-Waterloo Record junior hockey reporter Jeff Hicks has rundown on the OHLers who are joining Shawn Camp's Guelph Gryphons. Three of the four played with the OHL's Storm, which Camp once coached.
  • Jake Lalonde: Six-foot-two, 200-lb. winger who played four seasons in the OHL, mostly with the Soo Greyhounds, before splitting his overage season with Windsor and Kitchener.

  • Matt Lyall: Smallish centre who played for an also-ran Sault Ste. Marie team (his most productive season was a 57-point campaign in '07-08). Lyall's first two OHL seasons were in the OHL with the Storm (that was after Camp had moved on to the Sarnia Sting).

  • Nathan Martine: A big defenceman (listed at 6-1, 208) who spent five seasons in the OHL, including the past two with the Storm.

  • Tim Priamo: Guelph native who played three seasons with his hometown junior club, notching 30 goals (15G-15A) last season. A 6-foot-2, 195-lb. defenceman.
It sounds like Guelph has some experienced guys stepping on to a team which went 14-12-2 last season, nabbing the sixth and final playoff spot in the western half of the OUA.
Just a note that Hamilton Tiger-Cats safety Dylan Barker, a former Saskatchewan Huskie, will be on The FAN 590 in Toronto at 9:40 a.m. on Friday. That would be The Bullpen, hosted by Mike Hogan and Mike Toth, who are huge supporters of Canadian university football.

Barker, as you know, is coming off a star-crossed introduction to the pros. The No. 1 overall choice in the 2008 CFL Canadian College Draft lost almost all of the 2008 season to a broken leg.

(All of this is via the TicatsPR Twitter, which has nearly twice the followers of yours truly, which is Twitter.com/outofleftfield, by the way.)

Nerd alert: One of the American rookies in the Ticats camp is Chase Clement, a quarterback from Rice University in Houston who broke the school records held by Tommy Kramer, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback of the late 1970s and '80s.

This is only being mentioned since (a) I'm probably the only person to have ever used the Rice Owls in the dynasty mode of the NCAA Football 08; (b) knows that Chase Clement had a blocker at Rice, left tackle Scott Mitchell from Manotick, Ont., who has the same name as the Ticats president; and (c) cheers for the Minnesota Vikings, the former team of Tommy Kramer.
The addition of forward Justin McCrae gives the UBC Thunderbirds something unique in university hockey.

McCrae was captain of the Spokane Chiefs when they won the Memorial Cup in 2008 and he'll be teaming up with forward Matt Pepe, who captained the runner-up Kitchener Rangers in the Canadian major junior hockey championship that season. Crazy.

UBC just squeaked into the final Canada West playoff spot last season after a spirited second-half run. Adding McCrae, who has a fourth-round selection of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes just two seasons ago, would seem to be a pretty nice score on the recruiting front.

(How long until it takes McCrae, who spent his entire junior career in Spokane, to adjust to playing for the Thunderbirds after having the Seattle Thunderbirds as an opponent for five seasons?)
The Calgary Dinos have found the man they hope can lead their men's hockey team to elite status in the Canada West. The Dinos have announced that Mark Howell will take over the head coaching duties after former head coach Scott Atkinson was dismissed nearly two months ago.

Howell comes to the Dinos after handling both the head coaching and GM duties with the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League since 2006. Before that Howell spent time coaching the Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Howell brings Western Hockey League experience to the Dinos as both a player and coach. Howell played three seasons in the WHL, first with the Seattle Thunderbirds before finishing up with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings for two seasons before moving onto Drayton Valley.

Howell played one season in the CIS winning a University Cup in 1992 alongside current Golden Bears assistant coach Serge Lajoie, before injuries forced Howell to retire.

After a very disappointing season that saw the Dinos miss the playoffs, Howell will have no easy task in trying to elevate the Dinos from the bottom of the conference to an elite team with the likes of Saskatchewan and Alberta. He does have some building blocks that if given more of a supporting cast should see the Dinos have greater success this upcoming season.

Forwards Torrie Wheat and rookie Brock Nixon led the Dinos offensively, with Nixon finishing second in conference rookie scoring well behind Canada West MVP, Rookie of the Year and CIS Rookie of the Year Steven DaSilva. On the back end the Dinos were led by Travis Friedley who was a Canada West first team all star and second team All-Canadian.

The Dinos lacked a true identity last season, and were inconsistent from start to finish. They weren't good enough on home-ice going only 7-7-1, including an OT loss and regulation loss to the UBC Thunderbirds in the final regular season weekend to let a playoff spot slip out of their grasp.

Howell's first order of business - recruitment. He will need to bring in some high calibre talent if his Dinos hope to erase last season's frustrations and get back into the playoffs. That work will determine just how successful the Dinos will be starting in September.
Ottawa Gee-Gees coach Dave Leger was kind enough to explain the tweaks to the OUA men's hockey league, both the schedule and playoff format.

The OUA has expanded the playoffs from 12 to 16 teams and eliminated the first-round playoff bye, in the wake of a post-season where none of four playoff seeds made it to the Queen's Cup. (Trois-Rivières was the only one to win a playoff round, and it needed two overtimes in the decider.) The trade-off is 16 of 19 teams will make the playoffs — 8-of-10 in the East, which adds the expansion Nipissing Lakers, 8-of-9 in the West.

It seems much tidier just to revise the post from earlier.
  • The playoffs will be a true 1-through-8, meaning an end to barely .500 teams earning the No. 2 seed and getting a first-round bye. Last season's No. 2 seeds, Toronto in the East and York in the West, had the fourth- and fifth-best records in their conferences.

    "The main feature is having two more playoff teams on each side," Leger said. "We'll still have the four divisions, but the only purpose for those delineations is to help sort out the cross-over scheduling."

    In effect, it will be a two-division conference. It would be similar to the early 1980s, when the NHL had a 1-through-16 playoff format. The divisions were still there, but for playoff purposes, they weren't there.

  • There is more of an emphasis on conference play. Cross-over scheduling will be set up to "achieve balance over a period of time." It will take 3-4 years for everyone to play everyone, but the intention is to address concerns that certain teams played the Lakeheads of the world more often than some of their rivals.

    "There was a real appetite from the coaches to have a cross-over," Leger says. "There was talk about having all East teams play all West teams, but some of the coaches and athletic directors weren't too happy. However, there was a lot of interest to have a cross-over, and thankfully we're going to have one.

    "Having a strong team like a Waterloo or a Western is good for our team and good for our school."

  • It seems like cross-over play, based on two teams' schedules which were posted online, will all take place before Jan. 1. That means teams will be going head-to-head during the closing sprint that begins on the first weekend of January, which is a positive development.

    Last season, Ottawa was dealing with an injury bug when it went just 1-2-1 during a four-game swing vs. Mid West teams, which made it harder for hold off Queen's for the final playoff spot.

  • The schedule is sticking at 28 games. Lakehead and Queen's each posted schedules that had 30 conference games, but the schedule increase didn't get approval.
As a personal opinion, the net gain seems to be increasing the integrity of the post-season, since the team with the second-best record actually won't be starting a second-round series on the road. As noted in the comments, perhaps the higher seed for the 1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7 series could get all three games at home. Two divisions also makes sense; most leagues have gone too far subdividing themselves (like the NFL with eight groups of four).

There likely will be some sniping about increasing the size of the playoff tournament, especially after Canada West reduced its from six teams to four. However, the OUA is essentially pursing the same objective, getting rid of byes in the post-season that can leave a team sitting around and doing special teams drills for a week.

Meantime, Leger did pass along some recruiting news with a Kingston angle. Stay-at-home defenceman Tyler Hill, who captained the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs team which won the Central Canadian title, is joining the Gee-Gees.

(Thanks to Todd Mathers for the tip about the expanded playoffs. He's also got a good suggestion about possibly having fewer teams in the post-season and playing best-of-5 series.)

New format for OUA (tbnewswatch, June 9)
Seven CIS players are on Canada's women's basketball team for the World University Games, July 1-12 in Serbia. Does anyone else find it odd Canada is travelling with only 10 players, when 12 is the standard roster size for basketball?
  • Guard: Robyn Buna, Simon Fraser; Carolann Cloutier, Dawson College (CEGEP); Kelsey Hodgson, Cape Breton; Vanessa Kabongo, Delaware (NCAA); Courtnay Pilypaitis, Vermont (NCAA); Chanelle St-Amour (Laval).

  • Forward: Zara Huntley, UBC.

  • Centre: Kayla Dykstra, UVic; Marie-Michelle Genois, Laval; Laurelle Weigl, Simon Fraser.
The Winnipeg Free Press' Blue Bombers training-camp coverage includes a capsules at some Canadian rookies: Fullback Peter Quinney (Laurier), linebacker Thaine Carter (Queen's), defensive tackle Don Oramansionwu (Manitoba) and offensive lineman Mike Morris (UBC).

The Freep also unearthed Carter and Quinney's highlight packages. Whoever edited Quinney's (which is about seven minutes long) must have really liked The Karate Kid movies back in the day.



Former J.P. Metras Trophy winner Randy Chevrier, who's earned two Grey Cup rings as a defensive tackle and long snapper, is moving over from the dark side to the more cerebral side of the ball, according to Herald beat writer Allan Cameron's blog:
"Got my first look at the depth chart for training camp, and a couple things jumped out at me: notably, Randy Chevrier being shifted to offensive line (a move to add some depth during games)."
Chevrier will turn 33 years old on Saturday. It's a unique move, but evidently Calgary must really value his long snapping. As Stampeders coach John Hufnagel went on to explain:
"Chevy is what he is as a defensive lineman. If he's needed, he's very capable ... But the defence, for the most part, played without Chevy in the rotation. So I thought this would be a great opportunity for him, so that if needed to play, he'd have a training camp under his belt of practising the position . . . He accepted it very well."

One need not be a writer for Sports Illustrated to appreciate a good snapper.
It might be unprecedented in recent CFL history. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, as reported in the Regina Leader-Post, six Canadian candidates for their open spot at cornerback, which has long been a domain of Americans.
"The list of candidates for the job includes three raw rookies: (Tamon) George, the Regina product whom the Roughriders selected in the second round of the 2009 Canadian college draft; Joel Lipinski, another Reginan who signed as a free agent in the offseason; and, Jeff Zelinski, a fifth-round pick in 2008 who played with Lipinski in the secondary of the Saint Mary's Huskies last season.

"Three CFL veterans also are in the running: Donovan Alexander, whom Saskatchewan acquired in February from the Als for two draft picks; Leron Mitchell, who played in two games for the Roughriders last season before suffering a season-ending broken leg; and Konrad Wasiela, who dressed for three games with the Roughriders in 2008.
Perhaps more remarkable is five of the six played at Canadian Interuniversity Sport schools (Mitchell played at Western and Wasiela was a Saskatchewan Huskie). Alexander, a Winnipegger who played at North Dakota, is the only one who played in the NCAA.

Granted, part of this is a reflection that the CFL has become a slotback league. Teams might be putting more focus on lining up their best secondary players at the halfback and safety positions. The field-side wide receiver tends to see the ball the least out of all the receiver positions, so a team doesn't have to use its best defender at the corner.

Nevertheless, it's progress, since there was a time when a Canadian at the corner was rarer than a six-leaf clover. The 'Riders have six in camp.

A Canadian likely to play cornerback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders (Ian Hamilton, Regina Leader-Post)
A fun fact about Queen's Golden Gaels defensive back Jimmy Allin attending the Montréal Alouettes' upcoming rookie camp: It's a first step to competing for a spot against a guy whose record he broke.

Allin, as you might remember, set a record in the shuttle run at the CFL combine in March. The previous mark was held by current Alouettes safety Mathieu Proulx, which is kind of noteworthy (or not).

This could be seen as somewhat of a first step for Allin.

The Corbyville, Ont., native is headed to rookie camp as undrafted free agent who slipped through the CFL Canadian College Draft. That was perhaps since, as one can only assume he's sick of being reminded, he's undersized at 5-foot-10 and 170 lbs. However, Allin has some freaky athleticism, and he's also a very intelligent player (he took Life Sciences at Queen's, which is a bit more rigorous than English, eh).

The bottom line is Allin is going in as a bit of an underdog story, but there should be confidence he can at least earn a longer look from the CFL. To see him play is to know he's a unique talent. Queen's has a good track record with producing linemen, running backs and receivers who have rated a look from the pros, but Gaels d-backs getting such an opportunity has been fewer and farther between. Go get 'em, Jim.

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
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