Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Random Ramblings

Tis been a while!

Since last time I mustered up a post, the Yorkton Terriers won an SJHL Championship, the Stanley Cup playoffs came and went, and so did summer.

Just figured instead of cramming thoughts on Twitter, I'd throw something together, and maybe sleep better tonight with my thoughts on paper (or a screen)!

- I'm past my one-year anniversary at DR Auto Extras.  We had a very good summer for RV sales, despite winner hanging around well into April this year.  Yes, things are slowing down a little now, but there are certainly deals to be had this time of year (so ya know, come see me!).  Still enjoying the change, but always missing what I used to do, as I knew dang well I would.  A gal I worked with at DR just took the receptionist job at GX and asked me about working there, and I couldn't think of a bad thing to say if I tried.

- My wife and kids were in Saskatoon for a wedding over September long, and went up a few days early.  I painted a bathroom, and thought I was throwing in an old "mix CD" while I was working.  Turned out it was 10 or so intermission 'features' I ran during my first season of broadcasting games, 2005-2006 at CKDM in Dauphin.  Unreal to think that's closing in on 10 years ago!  Jeez I was a young pup.  Turned 19 the day that season started.

- My daughter Bailey turned 3 in May, and Kaiden will be 7 months this week.  He's just started eating solid foods (well, mush), and is FINALLY starting to sleep all, or most of the night.  Not that I know the difference... you think I was waking up with him??

- I'm like a little kid, as I think that it's '4 more sleeps' until the next Rider game.  I heard the saying that there are 2 days in Saskatchewan. 1) Rider Game Day 2) Waiting For Rider Game Day.  Ain't that the truth.  What an eye-glazer of a Banjo Bowl, though.  The Bombers deserved kudos, but as a Rider fan, I'm worried.

- I'm not worried because of how they played Sunday, losing to a 1-8 team.  I'm worried because I truly believe this team, albeit 8-2, has played MAYBE 3 complete games this season, and I'd even say they haven't had a 'great' game since Week 4.  Week 1 in Edmonton, they dominated start to finish, taking their foot off the gas only when it was well out of reach in the 4th quarter.  They trailed Calgary by as much as, I think, 17-3 the next week, before storming back in the second half, and that's been the theme.  They were okay in Toronto the next week, one of their more complete games, and then whitewashed Hamilton 37-0 at home the next week.  I was there for that one, and even it was a slow start.  If I'm not mistaken it was scoreless after one quarter, and 13-0 at half.  At Hamilton, they were down early... at Calgary, turned the ball over on offense for the first time all season, on the first offensive series of the game, were down 7-0, and never got back into it... home to Montreal, absolutely should have lost, and would have had Calvillo played the whole game - needed an unprobable 2-minute comeback to steal it... at Edmonton, again, trailed early, Chris Milo had them up 12-10 at half, they made Mike Reilly look amazing, and won by a field goal... Labour Day, another slow start, down at half time, and then steamrolled them in the second half.  And the Banjo Bowl was, well, the Banjo Bowl.

- Like Coach Chamblain says... you're not going to blow teams out every week.  I get that.  It's an 8-team league and it's competitive.  But if you're a so-called elite team, why does take until halftime to get going?  The experts say they 'wait to see what the other team's doing, and then adjust.'  Again, if you're 'elite', then make them play YOUR game, make THEM adjust.  They've got 8 tough games to go, and against Toronto, BC and Calgary especially, they can't expect to win by playing 30 minutes.

- I'm not of the one extreme of fans who thought everyone should be fired and Durant should be benched when they were 6-1 and Durant's TD-INT ratio was 17:0.  However I'm not the sunshine and roses breed either, who thinks "as long as they win that's all that counts, who cares how they play!"  Ultimately, I guess it doesn't matter a whole lot... you play for wins and losses, and playoff positioning.  I just don't see Calgary losing a game they should win, meaning if the Riders don't beat them there in October, it'll mean 2nd place at best... and should they, say, win only 1 of their 3 meetings with BC (or, none)... that would likely mean NO home playoff game.

- Darian Durant IS the QB who can get this province their next Grey Cup.  I sure hope it's this year.  But stop calling for his head!  I'd put Ricky Ray ahead of him (and he's hurt) this season, and that's it.  Sure hope the fans don't end up running him out of town.

- I think it will take 14 wins to host the West Final, and with the team regressing lately, I just don't see them going 6-2 down the stretch to attain 14 W's.  I wouldn't doubt they go 4-4 and finish 12-6.  12-6 will leave them 2nd with B.C. breathing down their necks.  3 BC's @ Calgary, vs Edmonton twice, vs Toronto, at Montreal.  Are there 6 wins there?  Sure could be, just not banking on it.  It's a huge back to back weeks at home coming up, with the Argos here Saturday night and BC the following Sunday.  Sweep those two, and top spot is more than realistic.  I think they needed the loss in Winnipeg to wake up.  Part of me also worried that they'll be stuck in mediocrity and lose some close games they were winning earlier..... or worse, that the Banjo Bowl could start a free-fall, a la last year (5 game skid around this time of the season).

- I feel like a Debbie Downer here, but I want this team to succeed as much (or more) as any other fan, and probably take it more seriously than I should.  I've just always been cautiously optimistic.  In my years as a Rider fan, there've been some lean ones (90's), and some close calls that almost rip a person's heart out (09). 

- Last time I posted something, I said how pumped I was for Blue Jays baseball.  What a disappointment.  Can't tell you the last time I watched a whole game, or inning.  Call that a bandwagon jumper, but they're still my favourite team, but if I'm going to spend 3 hours watching something, I'd like it to be relevant.  I don't think there's any sense blowing it up.  Anthopolous made the moves to go for it and we all thought he was a genious for it.  Keep it together for another year at least, try to add a pitcher or four, and give the AL East a run.  They've got the horses.

- I was at a wedding during the NHL Draft weekend, and I either forgot or never knew that the Toronto Maple Leafs sent picks to Chicago for Dave Bolland at the draft.  I'm on Twitter, just about constantly, so I have no clue how I could have missed/forgot, but I did!  Just today, the Leafs, finally worked something out with Kadri, too.  So a team that struggled with depth at centre this time last year, can now throw out Bozak, Kadri, Bolland & McClemment on lines 1 through 4.  I like that dynamic.  No, there's no Crosby or Datsyuk or even Bergeron in that mix, but it's two who should clearly be in the top 6, and two can check and do a little of everything.  Here's hoping they make it 2 straight years in the playoffs and maybe win a round (or more) this time.

- SJHL Pre-Season is in full swing, and I'm still doing my thing with the SJHL & Yorkton Terriers websites.  There are three new coaches in the SJ this season (Estevan, Weyburn, La Ronge), so it could explain why we're not getting ALL game sheets from exhibition games.  It's tough to get info, and I saw the diehards already have their annual "SJHL WEBSITE SUCKS" thread going on the fan forum.  It's tough to get info this time of year.  Most coaches don't want to tell us what rookies are good bets to make the team, and want things to play out through camp, and understandably so, and as mentioned, even game results aren't always sent in.  It'll be better once the regular season kicks off Sep/19.

- I hunkered down and tried to work and sell as much as I could all summer, so I didn't really take holidays.  Just a few days last week to help with harvest, and that was out of the blue.  But I've got the next 2 weeks off.  Heading to Minot with the family early next week.  Never been there before, but we're staying at the Sleep-Inn with the Waterpark, Mall, etc.  Any other Minot recommendations?  I hear there's a good zoo, and have heard of some good places for grub.  Looking forward to getting out of dodge.  Not sure the last time we were out of the 'Yorkton-Farm-Saskatoon' triangle.

Well that was a good head-clearing session!  If you're reading, and you obviously are if you can see this... thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

NEW ARRIVAL!

So, I thought I'd click my hit counter and see if anyone's still stopping by... and, to my surprise, anywhere from 50-100 of you still are each day... I assume by accident??!

Just figured I'd toss on a pic of my TWO little ones.  My wife and I, and Bailey welcomed our son, Kaiden John Stein on Tuesday, February 12th.  He was 6 lbs, 12 oz, 20 inches long.

His big sister will turn three in May, and she absolutely adores him.

If you're wondering, YES... I absolutely miss my old job... and I told you I would before I even left.  Playoffs are coming and I found myself looking at old playoff preview blogs tonight... I've definitely still got the itch, and probably always will.

But again, big picture, those two at the top of the screen are my whole world, and my career change has been very beneficial for them, and in turn, for me.  Before Kaiden was born, I had Bailey in the hospital one night, and had to take the next day off to stay home with her.  I would have been on a Kindersley/Battleford road swing had I still been at GX.  And now that we have a terrible two and an infant at home... I really don't know how my wife would do it, basically on her own for the next few months.

AND, I do enjoy what I do now too.  Definitely not the same rush or excitement every day, but it is a rush of a different kind, and I'm very much looking forward to DR Auto Extras Indoor Show at the Gallagher Centre Feb/23 - Mar/3.  It kicks off our trailer season, and will hopefully have me busy!

No disrescpect intended to any other team, but I'd say there's about a 95% chance that either Yorkton or Melville will play in the SJHL final.  They just really seem to be separated from the rest of the south right now.  Estevan could be a sleeper and they're tough to figure out.  Whoever comes out of the north will provide a stiff test, but the Mils or Terriers are absolutely in the mix to be heading to Nanaimo and even Summerside in the spring.  I'll be a little jealous but a lot excited for the players and coaching staff if it happens!

While spending more time at home, I've come to love the NHL again.  Purchased Centre Ice for the first time, haven't missed a Leafs' game, and am beyond pumped for Blue Jays baseball and CFL football.

Anyway, thought I'd check in!  Might do it again in another 8 or so months!

Steiner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sunday, June 10, 2012

THAT'S IT, THAT'S ALL, FOLKS

The career, and life change is now official.  I worked my last day at GX94 on Friday (June 8th), and spent a little time at DR Auto Extras the last couple Saturdays, before starting full time on Monday (June 11th).

I'm excited for the new challenge, and once again want to thank all those who I've been in contact with over the years, doing what I was doing.  Also a thanks to those who took time to comment, text, send letters, etc, with kind words and well-wishes... it means a lot.  I'll miss so much about covering sports on the air, and will always keep a keen interest in the local sports scene around here, and would love to get involved in some capacity again, whether it be volunteering, PA announcing, coaching (when my kid(s) get older!), or... just being a fan.

I did keep my Twitter account, but changed the name from @GX94Sports to @Steiners_Stall.  Expected to lose half my followers, but it's actually stayed pretty even (so far!).

I'm sure I'll get itchy fingers, especially when hockey gets back rolling, so I'll probably dabble with Twitter and the Blog when I feel like it... so check back when you please.  It also sounds like I'll be continuing my duties with the SJHL and Yorkton Terriers' websites, so it'll be nice to 'stay in the game' that way too.

Thanks again!

Steiner

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

LINE CHANGE... ERR, LIFE CHANGE

My feelings are definitely mixed when I say I'm leaving broadcasting after 8 wonderful years behind the mic.

Starting June 11th, I'll be heading to DR Auto Extras in Yorkton, where I'll work for Kevin & Cyndy Mundt, mainly concentrating on RV Sales, while also getting a grasp on other aspects of the store, as RV Sales is largely seasonal.

What it boiled down to, almost 100%, is that for 7+ months a year, I've been on the highway 3 or 4 nights a week, anywhere from North Battleford, to La Ronge, to OCN, to Winnipeg, to Estevan, and with a young family at home, I felt like I've been missing too much.

I came to GX94 BECAUSE I knew the load of games I'd get to do.  I was single (engaged, not living in the same city as my fiance, now wife), and having kids felt like a long way away.  Needless to say, priorities change when a little one comes into the picture, and I think they change for the better.  It's not impossible to be a play by play guy and have a family, guys do it all the time.  But in my case, doing almost only road games for four teams in two provinces, it meant I wasn't home a heck of a lot.  I actually didn't spend that many nights in hotels, but I still wasn't home during waking hours a whole bunch.

A typical week would see me do a game Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday.  So... up early Tuesday, before my wife and kid.  Go straight from my shift to wherever I was going that night.  Home in the middle of the night... wife and kid are up and gone before I'm awake.  I head into work around 10:00... go do another game, home late again, sleep late again Thursday.  Probably see the family Thursday night... then up early Friday before them, and do it all again.

Calling hockey, that was the life!  I loved it.  It's all I ever wanted to do.  But then I started learning about "firsts" my daughter did, via text.  Maybe I was halfway to Portage, or on the bus to Kindersley.  This past spring break, my wife and daughter went to Saskatoon as my wife had the week off, and I was doing games late in the regular season.  I was on my way back from a game in Dauphin, about midnight, and I got a text from Carly that Bailey was in Emergency because she couldn't stop coughing and was having trouble breathing.  She was treated for pneumonia in the middle of the night, everything ended up fine... but talk about a helpless feeling, and a guilty feeling.

That was one of the final kicks in the pants that it might be time to look elsewhere.  It wasn't about me anymore, and I needed to be around more.

Another came when I arrived home at 4:00 AM after the my first playoff broadcast this season in OCN.  Carly was still awake and couldn't wait to tell me she was pregnant with our second child.  Then and there, I basically made up my mind that that would be my last playoff run I'd do on the air.  Unfortunately, as I posted a while ago, we lost that little guy/girl to a miscarriage, but we still want to grow our family more, and give Bailey a little brother/sister that she was so excited to have.

I've poked my nose around a little bit in each of the last 2 or 3 summers to be honest.  And, to tell the truth, I'm glad nothing came of it, because I was treated to some magical playoff runs since.  But a couple summers ago, I was close on a sports-related Communications job, and had a phone interview with a Western Hockey League team, but missed out on both.  I returned to cover the most exciting team I've had the chance to watch regularly, the 2010-2011 Yorkton Terriers.  They also, narrowly missed out on their ultimate goal, with a Game 7 loss in La Ronge in the SJHL Final.  Last summer, I was looking at trades (plumbing, electrical, etc), but just couldn't commit to making the change. 

The opportunity with DR Auto Extras came out of the blue.  I was recommended by a former co-worker, I had a short, informal interview, and accepted the job, all in a fairly short time period.

I've got some learning to do, but I'm confident I'll do it.  Kevin & Cyndy are giving me a great chance to make a change and have what's important to me, and that's being at home more often.  I'll be home for supper every night, and be able to put my daughter to bed every night, which is the best part of my day.

They're taking a chance on me, and I'm also taking a chance, leaving something I love and something that's comfortable, that I feel I can do consistently well.  And as I look back on my broadcasting days, a LOT of people took chances on me, especially Allan Truman and Hector Paulhus in Dauphin.

I graduated High School in June of 2004, and after just over three months at WABC in Saskatoon, I was hired to do evenings and weekends at 730 CKDM in Dauphin, MB.  I moved on Boxing Day, and started the following day.  The Sports Director & Play by Play guy was a dude named Curt Solomon.  He was incredible at his job, and was in his third season covering the Kings.  I was often his board-op, and was stunned when I saw a job posting for his job at the end of the regular season.  Curt was going back to Lethbridge, AB to continue his schooling.

In passing, a greener than green 18-year-old Craig told Sales and Operations Manager Hector Paulhus that, "I'd love to do sports, but don't think I could do Play-by-Play."  Hector said "Hmm, that's intriguing, but yeah, we need someone for Play by Play for sure.  I thought, "Okay, no biggie, PLENTY of chances like this will come along, right?"  They hired someone, and for reasons I'm not positive of, things didn't pan out.  I didn't know that, and my phone rang at my $300/month apartment on Main Street.  It was Hector. "Hey Craig, do you wanna do sports at CKDM?" "What?" "Do you wanna do sports at CKDM?" "Uh... why what happened?" "The offer's there, take the day to think about it."

Again, I passively thought, "I'm young, there'll be other chances... might as well keep playing music from 5:00 - Midnight... wait, take it you idiot!"

Marched to the station, accepted it, got a $225/month raise, which blew my mind (that put me just over $1500/month), I wasn't expecting one at all, heck, I'd just got a raise for passing my three month probation!

That was May 2005.  I had some time to settle into the sports role before the 2005-06 season.  In late August, the players started rolling into town.  I was a 1986-born raw rookie broadcaster, and the Kings, coached by Doug Hedley (Marlin Murray was his Assistant) were a veteran-laden club, full of 20-year-olds, born in 1985.  Their Co-Captain, and 5th year King, T.J. Warkentin, took me under his wing.  I was too timid to approach these guys and T.J. made the effort to make me feel welcome and introduce me to some of the guys.  Other 20's on that roster included Cory Baldwin, Jason Shaw, Joey Moggach, Tyler Harder, and goaltender Marc Lesage.  I don't think I missed an on-ice session of Fall Camp.  Couldn't believe I was going to cover this team for a living.

I went to the old MPB Arena, to watch some Parkland Summer Hockey League Games, and pretended to practice, sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud, but just couldn't get into it when it wasn't "real."  I went into my first broadcast, Dauphin @ Swan Valley, on my 19th birthday, September 21, 2005, without a lick of experience under my belt.

We had no Pre Game Show.  We had religious programming run right until game time, and my Op didn't time out right... as the program ended at about 7:33.  I had a script I'd planned out at least a week in advance, and even though the first period was three minutes old, I let 'er buck, and read off my paper, about a minute, talking about Training Camp and stuff.  Oh man.  What else can go wrong?  There was a terrible echo.  Morning Show host Cory Noel, and Hector, were both back at the station.  Hector turned on his radio at game time and heard Focus on the Family, and bolted to the station, and I think Cory was just always there.  "Something's wrong, you sound like F***in R2D2" said Hector.  Cory was guiding me through what button might be pushed that shouldn't be.  Looking back, I think my headphones were just cranked too much.  The headset I had back then, well, the earphones barely covered your ears, and hurt your ears, honestly.  So you really had to crank it to hear the Op, and when your headphones are cranked, your mic picks up the sound and feeds back and I'm pretty sure that's what must have happened.

GX94's Terry Struthers and Danny Ismond were down to my right, calling the came for Swan.  Little did I know I'd take the reigns from Terry, a 20-year vet, and end up working with Danny for 5 years.  We've got kids around the same age and our families are good friends.  All I really remember is that Terry really looked like he knew what he was doing... and he had two bottles of Pepsi.

Anyway, Dauphin product Jordan Pernarowski scored the first goal I ever called, and the Kings won that game 7-1.

I was pumped.  I called a win.  I didn't care that I sounded brutally awful doing it.  And I did sound awful.  I don't actually have any tape from my first season, which is disappointing, and a blessing.  I remember doing games by myself, and when the whistle went, I wouldn't say a word until the puck was dropped again.  Zero flow, very little excitement.  I THINK it got better as that first season went on, but it was sure rough at the start.  I remember getting an email from Joel Malchuk's dad late in the season saying I'd come a long way and he enjoyed listening.  That sure meant a lot.  Especially after watching myself get ripped to shreds on the message board all year!

The Kings finished first overall in the league that year.  They lost the first two games of their series with the Portage Terriers in round one, but re-grouped and won it in 6.  In the Sherwood Final, the Kings won Games 3 and 4 in OCN to grab a huge 3-1 edge coming home.  OCN had almost all their key players hurt or suspended.  Don Melnyk, Ryan Constant, Kyle Annesley, Matt Summers.  They were ALL out for Game 5 in Dauphin (and there may have been more).  The Blizzard greased out an ugly 3-2 win, got some guys back for Game 6, won 3-1 at home, and then 3-0 in Game 7 in Dauphin.  I remember my humble self after Game 4 Googling directions to whatever rink the Winnipeg Blues played in at the time, because it was all but certain the Kings were off to the final against Ken Pearson's Blues, but it wasn't to be.  Heck, I think I was even calling Battleford and Yorkton to see if they had an extra phone line for the Anavet Cup!

So that was a rough end to my first season... but the Kings would be moving into a new rink the following year, and despite losing a lot of key cogs, they had a good crop coming back too.

----------------------

July long weekend, 2006, it's Simpson's (my hometown) homecoming.  I got back to Dauphin after the weekend, and had an email from none other than Rob Carnie. 

Everyone should know Rob Carnie.  He was the voice of the Moose Jaw Warriors for 15 years, and after he passed the torch, remained at CHAB as the News/Sports Director.  He was the most colourful radio play by play guy I've ever listened to, and really, one of the main reasons I got into the business.

I'd emailed Rob my resume, and an air-check, more to get feedback than to apply for a job.  He was extremely helpful whenever I had questions, and I jumped out of my seat when I read, "Craig, things have "changed" here at Goldenwest Radio-Moose Jaw.  I'd like to get in touch ASAP."

Voice of the Warriors Randy Merkley had resigned, and they were looking for a new Play-by-Play voice.  Did I REALLY have a shot at my dream gig (Voice of the Warriors) at the age of 20, with one year under my belt???  As it turned out, no.  But I ended up with the next best thing.  James Gallo, who did colour for I believe 7 seasons previous, accepted the Play-by-Play job, and I was offered the Morning Sports / Colour Commentary position, and also covered a little news.

I felt that doing colour in the WHL got me closer to doing PBP in the WHL, than doing PBP in Junior 'A' did, and trekked it back to my home province in August of 2006.

One of my first days there, the Warriors had a press conference, announcing they'd signed their 1st and 2nd round draft picks... forward Justin Maylan and defenseman Kevin Smith.  Walking into the old Crushed Can, where I'd watched countless Warrior games growing up, I couldn't believe that was now my job!  I met Warriors' GM Chad Lang, Coach Steve Young, and Assistant Rene Lemire.

I was pretty green at colour, much like I was at PBP the year before, but again, got through a shaky start and got better.  I learned a lot from James, and got to jump into his chair when he went down with an illness for a few days.  The first WHL game I called (Play-by-Play)... Pats @ Warriors, at the Crushed Can.  A 16-year-old Jordan Eberle led the Pats to a lopsided win, I think 6-2.  And I can't forget to mention the goaltending matchup.  Two California-born Italians... for what had to be the first time in WHL history... Joey Perricone vs Tommy Tartaglione.  Perricone was the Warriors' #1 guy, while TT normally backed up Linden Rowat.  Carns did colour.  I'm not sure I really appreciated what I was doing that night, but I do now looking back.  Pats/Warriors, in the rink I watched so many games growing up, with the guy I grew up listening to, doing colour WITH ME!  I also did a three game swing with the club that weekend, to Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Kootenay.  I met Bob Ridley in Med Hat, a veteran of close to 40 seasons of Tigers hockey.  I'd actually forgot a microphone to plug into my recorder for Pre Game Interviews.  Bob lent me his, let me take it on the rest of the trip, and I mailed it back.  Surely you know the Bob Ridley story.  He's missed ONE Tigers' game in their existence, and he drives the team bus.  What a trooper, and a down to earth guy.  Curt Solomon, who I replaced in Dauphin, also did colour with me in Lethbridge, which was really neat.  Also, during that week, the Warriors relieved Young of his duties and gave the reigns to Lemire.

Riley Holzapfel, Steven Gillen, Jordan Knackstedt... all were studs on that Warrior team.  And on that bus trip, 16-year-old Travis Hamonic was in the seat behind me.  He's now a regular on the New York Islanders blue line, and was a great, polite kid to talk to back then.  I was also in the first media "scrum" with a young Quinton Howden, when the Warriors signed him after selecting him with the 1st overall pick in the 2006 WHL Draft.  Two World Junior appearances and a 1st round Florida pick, Howden will be off to the pro ranks this coming season.

It was very cool to experience that league, but as the following season started, I caught wind of the opening at GX.  I applied, and honestly, wasn't that interested!  I thought I was in the right place for the time being... and if I had to go to Yorkton for an interview, probably wouldn't have bothered.  But it happened that GX Morning Guy and Program Director Brad Bazin was in Assiniboia for the Southern Rebels Lotto, an hour south of Moose Jaw.  I remember Clark Gillies was in Moose Jaw (his hometown) the day of my interview to promote an upcoming golf tournament he was starting, I believe.  I was sent to the Golf Course to interview him, a little more than an hour before my job interview in Assiniboia, but of course I couldn't tell Rob Carnie what was up!  I got to Assinboia about five minutes early, but finally found the rink about five minutes late.  Golf shirt, khakis, really didn't think I wanted the job that badly!

But, looked at their broadcast schedule, liked the number of games, liked what Brad had to say, they gave me a little bigger salary, and in radio, a few hundred extra bucks a month is a lot! 

So, for those reasons in part, I accepted the offer when it came a week or so later.  I also felt I needed more game calling experience to get a WHL Play-by-Play job, and James was doing a great job in Moose Jaw, and he's still doing an outstanding job in Moose Jaw.  So, I thought I should get more games under my belt, and surely that, with my year of experience in the WHL, would work to my advantage.  Welp... five years and 400 games later, a couple close calls, but no dice.  But still, five very, very exciting years, covering not one, not two, but four Junior 'A' teams in Eastern SK, Western MB at GX94.

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I did colour for the first 5 games of the Warriors' 2007-2008 season before getting the gig at GX94.  And I missed 10 or so broadcasts here at the start fo that season, as I got here in mid-October.

My second day on the job, myself and Blaine Weyland, now the voice of the Estevan Bruins, hauled the station vehicle cross-province to Battleford, for a Terriers' Battleford-Kindersley trip.

That was the second SJHL game I'd ever watched.  The first, was the previous Friday night, when my dad and I checked out the Terriers home game against Melfort and left my mom to do most of my unpacking!

Going back to Play by Play was an adjustment, and once again, it took some time time to get back in the rhythm.  Ed Zawatsky, Jamie Fiesel, Guy Vestby and Barry Butler all made it pretty easy and made me feel welcome.

My first year, one of the big memories was the Swan Valley Stampeders' young, up and coming team, NEARLY upsetting the eventual league champs in Round 1.

17-year-old Stephan Vigier scored on a short-handed breakaway in overtime to win Game 1 in Portage.  He would score in overtime again in Game 6 to prolong the series. Devin Reinhardt opened the scoring for Swan early in Game 7, but the Stamps would lose 5-1.

I thought the team the Melville Millionaires had that year might have been the most talented Mils team I covered.  Dion Campbell on one line, Kale Dolinski on another line, Levi Lind on another, Matt Kinnunen on another.  They were deep.  And, after appearing to be in good shape all series against Kindersley in the South Final, they let Game 5 slip away on home ice, and lost Game 6 in Kindersley in double overtime.

My second season, the Millionaires took me the furthest once again.  They were given a scare by their rivals though. The Mils finished 2nd, one point back of Weyburn, and quite a bit ahead of 3rd place Yorkton. Melville won the first two games, but Yorkton rattled off the next three, including a double overtime winner from Corey Silverson in Game 4, and another OT winner from Derek Serdachny in Game 5.  The Mils came from behind in the third period to win Game 6, and then won a lopsided seventh game.  They had an incredible series with Weyburn in the South Final, winning Game 1 in overtime.  Game 3 was one of the most fabulous finishes I've witnessed.  Down 3-1 late, the Mils scored three times in 1:33 to win it in regulation.  Logan Herauf potted the winner.  Casey Dion scored on a seeing eye wrister from the point to win Game 4 in double overtime, before Travis Bosch posted a shutout in Game 6 to send the Mils to the final.  They won Game 1 in Humboldt on Kale Dolinski goal with 16 seconds left.  Game 2, they owned the Broncos almost from start to finish, outshot them heavily in period one but had just a 1-0 lead, and they went on to lose. They dropped Game 3 in OT in Humboldt... and Game 4 looked a lot like Game 2.  Mils had the edge in play, but not on the scoreboard, and they then lost Game 5 by quite a bit.

Year three was highlighted by the improbable run to the final by the Terriers, and a stacked Swan Valley team, that, had Dauphin not been hosting the RBC Cup, may have done some serious damage in the MJHL.  The Stampeders scoring attack was led by Myles Stevens, Ryan Marshall, Chris Reimer, Shelby Gray, Darcy Riddell and Carter Selinger.  Their back end was solid, with Paul Bonar, Dylan Trowell, Brent Wilson and Cody Straker.  And, they bolstered their goaltending by acquiring Jayme Janzen from Wayway on December 1st.  They got by Portage in five games, but Dauphin was just too much.  The Stamps almost made a series out of it, after going down 3-0, including a 12-2 walloping in Game 3.  They won Game 4 at home, and then lost Game 5 in Dauphin 3-2, and came dangerously close to tying it late.  Meanwhile the Terriers recently handed the Head Coaching reigns to Trent Cassan late in the season.  They finished 5th in the Sherwood Conference, and 10th overall in the 12 team SJHL.  La Ronge, they were 4th in the Bauer, 7th in the SJHL.  But wouldn't you know it, those two teams hooked up in the final.  The Terriers upset Melville in the Survivor Series, rolled by first place Weyburn in five games, and then won an outstanding seven game series with Kindersley.  Kevin Stringfellow scored in overtime in Game 7 to end it... a goal that still gives me chills when I listen back.  They went on to lose the final in six games, also in overtime, to the Ice Wolves.

The Terriers and Ice Wolves both lost a lot of players from those teams that finished near the bottom of the 2009-2010 standings, but both would reload and finish first in either conference, and meet up in the final yet again.  The 2011 playoffs were easily my most memorable, and a lot took place before the that final.  The '8 seconds' game in Winkler.  The Wayway Wolverines were down 3-1 with 8 seconds left in Game 3 of their series.  Dave Williams scored from behind the net to cut it to 3-2, and off the faceoff from centre, Ryan Duhaime jammed in a Paul Vandevelde rebound at the buzzer.  Shane Goodrunning scored early in overtime to cap likely the most amazing finish I witnessed in the hundreds of games I called.  Swan Valley lost Round 1 to Portage, the eventual Anavet Cup Champs, in 6 games, with a pile of games going to overtime.  Melville, with 4 remaining 20-year-olds, pushed an Estevan team with 9 overagers to the max 5 games in the Survivor Series, with all games decided by one goal, four of them in overtime, and the one that was in regulation, saw the Mils come from behind and win it with a minute left.  Michael Rogoschewsky ended the longest game I ever called, late in triple overtime in Game 3 in Estevan, just after midnight.  All that was before the Yorkton Terriers played a playoff game.  They swept a tired Bruins team in Round 1, and steam-rolled Kindersley in the South Final, by a combined 24-4.  Breitkreuz, Ciolfi, Buzzeo, Boyer, Eisenhut, Majkowski, Tendler, Remenda, Peters, etc... that was a stacked club.  As I look back, it seems like most series that the team I covered lost, especially in finals and semi-finals... the key to the series was Game 5.  That was definitley the case in this one.  The Terriers had won Game 4 on home ice to tie the series, and led 2-0 and 3-1 in La Ronge in Game 5, before getting into penalty trouble.  They gave up 4 PP goals, and lost 4-3.  They also had a miraculous comeback in Game 6 at home, and an Eisenhut OT winner to send the series to seven... but before the Terriers knew it, they trailed Game 7 2-0... and while they did stop the bleeding, weren't able to get a lot of pressure on Adam Bartko, and they went on to lose 3-1.

This past season, I think you all remember because it just happened!  Another Yorkton/Melville series in the SJ, and another Game 7 in the South Final with Melville and Weyburn. The Mils lost, and again, Game 5 was the pivotal one.  Weyburn took the lead with under 2 minutes left.  Ian McNulty tied it with just under a minute left.  Coltyn Sanderson gave the Wings the lead again in the dying seconds... and the Mils actually JUST narrowly missed tying it right before the buzzer!  Melville won Game 6 by a wide margin infront of a packed HCUC, but fell 2-0 in Game 7.

It's disappointing I never got the chance to call a league championship in my 8 seasons of calling hockey, but it's not like I'd ever hold that against the players... I'm just the radio guy!  They gave it their all.  A lot of close calls, that obviously stung worse for them and the coaching staffs.  But belting out overtime winners in the playoffs is a feeling that will never be topped professionally for me, I know that.

I shouldn't even start naming names because it's impossible to mention everyone I'd like to thank.

But I've met life long friends at the rink, on the bus, and at the radio station these last few years.

I went to broadcasting school with Cody Glydon, and we worked together in Dauphin, and the guy was in my wedding party.  My old roommates in Dauphin, Randel Mauricio and Perry Thiessen, I admit I've lost touch with a lot, aside from Facebook (congrats on tying the knot PT!).  Lee (Davis) Guse in Moose Jaw remains one of my good friends to this day, and working with Rob Carnie was a thrill.  Great boss, we somehow got a lot of work done while always having fun.  He cracked the whip when he had to and still had everyone's respect, despite being a clown!  In Yorkton, I lived with Trent Cassan for about a year when he moved to town as the Terriers' Assisant Coach, and Trent and I have become good pals.  And there aren't two better guys to spend a road trip with than Jamie Fiesel and Don Chesney.  Both guys are hilarious and have been amazing to deal with on a weekly, almost daily basis.  And I've also learned a lot aside from hockey from guys like those two.  I spent an evening at Feez's place until about 3:00 AM a few years ago where we talked about everything under the sun.  He's a good guy.  And Chez, while he puts a spin on life lessons that only he can, he actually makes a lot of sense once you stop laughing and think about what he says.  Like, "Listen hummer, you pound the road all winter and good for you.  Just make sure, when you DO get a night off... don't be goin' to the bar and shootin' pool with your buddies... you take your wife to the show or somethin'."  And, "I've been in hockey for 40 years but I really don't know nothin' about it.  But I DO know women, cuz I've been married to four of them."  I also appreciated getting to know Guy Vestby and Dwayne Kirkup in Swan Valley, and Barry Butler and company in Wayway.  Barry spends countless hours running the Wolverines, and running a farm as well.  He's gotta be the busiest guy I know, while Danny McKay in Ochap can't be far behind.  Those guys are constantly on the go, and all for the love of the game.


All my current and former co-workers at GX94 have been great to work with, no use rambling names!  But the guys who did colour will definitely stick out.  Blaine Weyland was a big help in my first season, and Clark Stork did most of three seasons, and probably well over 100 games with me, and we had a blast... and listening back to the 2011 final, I think we sounded pretty damn good together!  Brendan Pawliw showed a lot of initiative and got involved on the broadcast this past season too.  Clark, Blaine and Brendan would definitely be the three who did the most games with me, and there were others, too.    At the rink, Donna and Norm in Yorkton, Jeremy in Swan, you guys/gals are my pals!  Bob & Lila Walker in Swan, two of the nicest people you'll meet. Parents of players, are too many to name, but I appreciate all the conversations with those who took some time to talk.  Other play by play guys around the league(s) have become good friends, too. Dan O'Connor is now in Prince George after 4 years in North Battleford, and he earned it, and has the ability to keep climbing the ladder.  There are others who can do the same, too.

I hadn't written off my own chances, but I also have to consider that my wife went to University for five years, and was fortunate enough to get a full-time permanent teaching contract, straight out of school, with the Christ the Teacher Catholic School Division.  Teachers make more money that radio guys, and took a lot more schooling too.  So for me to just up and move, would mean she has to start applying for jobs again too, and possibly start subbing again, which would be very insecure, and would have no benefits with it, no pay over the summer, and no guaranteed position after maternity leave as we grow our family.  Our parents are both just two and three hours away too, and the grandparents love being able to see Bailey any weekend they want, and we love having them so close, especially when daycare goes on holidays (like for the past two weeks).  It might sound like sour grapes, and it's not like I was ever in position to turn down another job at a higher level, but at this point I would have to be very picky WHERE I go, and beggars can't be choosers.

There's a great job here waiting for someone.  If you want to do a lot of games, I'm not sure there's a better Junior 'A' job in the country.  With four teams, someone is always in the mix for a league title.  I did an SJHL Sherwood Final every year with either Yorkton or Melville, and an SJHL Final in three straight years, and just barely missed four, and even five. I KNOW I'll miss it, but I HOPE I won't regret it... because I believe the time is right for a change, and that I'm doing it for the right reasons.

One of the sticking points for me when I was pondering a change, was, "So what was the point of these last 8 years then?"  Well first off, you never know... I figure I'll be working for another 40 years... so who knows if broadcasting will come back into the picture.  Second, I've met a lot of people and made a lot of local connections in five years... and that can't hurt when entering a sales position.  And... hey, it was fun!  Even though I'll be doing something else, this was a blast, and I wouldn't trade it, not a chance.

Thanks to all those who made my broadcasting years possible.  Those who hired me, took a chance on me, worked with me.  Players, coaches, managers, other staff members, volunteers.  Listeners.  Blog readers.  This thing is now past 550,000 hits, and I've already had people asking if it will continue.  Honestly, I'm leaning towards NO... just because I won't have access to players and interviews and recording equipment.  But who knows.  I'm not going to delete it... but it likely won't be very active, if at all.  Who really wants to know what an RV Salesman has to say about sports?  The two people I've asked that to, have both responded with, "I do!"

We shall see, but immediately my focus will be on learning my new career... and, I'm still here for a little while... so you haven't heard/seen/read the last of me yet!

Thank you all!


Craig Stein
GX94 Sports

Monday, May 28, 2012

MILS BASEBALL COACH BRIC STEED

The WMBL's Melville Millionaires will be coached by Bric Steed (Head Coach, pictured) and Brandon Jones (Ass't Coach) this season.  Steed and Jones both coach in the college ranks in Paris, Texas, and made the trip from Texas to Saskatchewan over the weekend.  I spoke with Steed this morning.  Some iffy cell quality at times, but audio is good for the most part.

video

Saturday, May 26, 2012

STRUBLE/PATERSON TO SAIT


(Courtesy Yorkton Terriers)

The Yorkton Terriers are pleased to announce that graduating twenty-year-old forwards Riley Paterson (Calgary, AB) and Brent Struble (Wawota, SK) have committed to play for the SAIT Trojans hockey program for the upcoming hockey season. The Trojans, based in Calgary, play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC)

Both Struble and Paterson have been an integral part of the Yorkton Terriers for the past three seasons, providing admirable leadership on the ice and in the community as Captains for two of those seasons.

Paterson played in 160-regular season games with the Terriers over three full seasons. During that time he amassed 34-goals and 32-assists while also playing in 40-playoff games.

In the 2011-12 season Paterson served as the Terriers team captain where he scored 17-goals and 17 assists. He was received the teams Most Popular player award and the Coaches Award.

Struble suited up for 134- regular season games with the Terriers over three full seasons where he scored 40-goals and added 75-assists in his career. He also played 27- playoff games during that time.

In the 2011-12 season Struble served as an Assistant Captain for the second consecutive season. He registered 14-goals and 30-assists to go along with a team leading plus-38 rating. In 5 playoff games he also led the Terriers in scoring with 7-points in 5-games played. At the Terriers year-end awards banquet Struble was named both the teams Playoff MVP as well as the regular season MVP.

The Yorkton Terriers wish to congratulate Riley and Brent and wish them the best in their academic and athletic endeavors at SAIT.