Friday, May 25, 2012

Shawinigan Sha-won-again, and other Friday Thoughts

It's the Friday of a short work week.  I am a full practitioner of 'Mail It In' Fridays so in honour of that here are a few not-so-in-depth thoughts...
- A tough ending to a fantastic season for the Edmonton Oil Kings.  After rolling through the WHL regular season and much of the playoffs (before an epic seven game battle with Portland in the league final) the Oil Kings simply looked awe struck at the Memorial Cup.  Perhaps the fact that they were the youngest of the four teams at the tournament, with their average age of 17.5 years, but for whatever reason they never found their groove.  Look no further than Laurent Broissoit.  The play of the Edmonton netminder (and Calgary Flames prospect) came nowhere close to replicating that which made him WHL Playoff MVP.  Combine that with the fact that three of their four forward lines had sub par tournaments (Samuelsson, Lazar, Legault were the lone exception) and the Oil Kings never had a chance this week.  The definite bright side for them... being such a young team this time around means they will have a strong core of players eligible to return for next year and a run at the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.

- The Canadian Hockey League will hand out its 2012-13 Player Awards tomorrow night in Shawinigan.  Alex Petrovic of the Red Deer Rebels is a finalist for Defenceman of the Year.  He is up against World Juniors star Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc of the  Rimouski Oceanic.  Here is the full list of award finalists.

- Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba and goaltender Patrik Bartosak will both among the draft-eligible players being put to the test at the NHL Scouting Combine, May 28 to June 2 in Toronto.  For Bartosak, this will be his first chance to shine after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this year.  Meantime, Dumba was on with my good friends Pat Steinberg and Brad Curle on Sportsnet 960 yesterday afternoon.  Have a listen!  Local product Mike Winther (Prince Albert Raiders) will also be taking part in the combine.

- The local baseball season is in full swing.  The Red Deer Stags played their Sunburst Baseball League (Senior AAA) home opener last night at Great Chief Park.  Unfortunately, the lost 11-5 to the Parkland White Sox.  The Red Deer Riggers were slated to play at Fort Saskatchewan but were rained out. 

- The Red Deer Razorbacks host the Innisfail Indians for Parkland Baseball League (Senior AA) action at Great Chief Park tonight at 6:45. 

- The Central Alberta Buccaneers are set to kick off their 2012 Alberta Football League season.  Hope are high for the senior men's squad after they made the playoffs in 2011 and knocked off the Calgary Gators in the opening round.  The Bucs and Gators hit the field for an exhibition game (controlled scrimmage) tomorrow night at Great Chief Park at 6pm.  Earlier in the day, the Buccaneers will be out and about for their annual Tackle Hunger campaign in support of the Lacombe Food Bank.  Last year, they raised 3400 pounds of food and are hoping to beat that this time.  They also have a challenge in place with the Lacombe Rams high school football team to see who can raise more donations.  It takes place from 9am - 2pm tomorrow in Lacombe.  Visit the Bucs website to find out more.

- It's a big day here in Red Deer as the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum honours its 2012 Class of Inductees...

Barb Clark Parolin              Swimming Athlete
Dale Henwood                      Multisport Builder
Edward Molstad                  Football Builder
Bob Niven                            Multisport Builder
Russ Parker                         Baseball Builder
Larry Robinson                   Rodeo Athlete
Michael Slipchuk                 Figure Skating Athlete/Builder

Gary De Man                       Achievement Award
Lorne Starko                        Bell Memorial (media)

Of all these, Lorne Starko hits closest to home for yours truly and anyone else involved with the Red Deer sports scene over the past thirty-plus years.  I never had the honour of working at the same radio station as Lorne but we did spend a few years covering many of the same events.  'Coach' was also the longtime stats guy for the Red Deer Rebels... and quite likely their biggest fan! (as Cam Moon noted in this Red Deer Advocate article published shortly after Lorne's passing in 2009).  Everyone around Red Deer misses Coach but at the same time we are all proud of his accomplishments and the honour he is receiving today.


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