Most of my long weekend was spent in Saskatoon with my wife's side of the family, except for Saturday afternoon when I went to the farm to help brand calves. All in all, a good Easter, good long weekend, and now the "off-season" begins to set in, with my first "full week" since hockey's ended ready to kick off. It's easier as far as hours, this time of year, but much harder in terms of content. We're spoiled by having no shortage of national sports and wire audio courtesy The Canadian Press, but I figure if I don't have SOME local sports on the air, then I really didn't do anything that day aside from copy/paste. So that's the goal... get local sports on the air, when really... there's not any local sports going on! Gotta find local angles, like local players in the WHL, on other Jr 'A' teams, etc, check in with the golf courses in the area, and find out when all the local ball, lacrosse, etc gets going. I wake up a lot of mornings this time of year wondering what I will have on the air, but something always seems to come up.
One thing that is coming up, is the 5th annual "Football Night in Saskatchewan." It's a fundraiser for Yorkton Minor Football, and this year's event is May 14th at the St. Mary's Cultural Centre. It's sold out again, and has been since this time last year. I had Roby Sharpe on the air late last week, and he announced that Wes Cates will be the keynote speaker. Other current and former Riders will also be in attendance, along with Yorkton's own Jordan Matechuk of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Matechuk will be running his annual Football Camp that weekend, May 13th and 14th, while Brittany Thies will have her annual Cheerleading Clinic at the same time. It's a great football weekend, and I look forward to watching Randy Atkinson do all the work again, while I enjoy myself and grab a few interviews!
Once I got to about Foam Lake on my way back from Saskatoon, I started to get MBC Radio's Yorkton feed, and CFRY Portage, and it was just in time, about 5 minutes before the puck dropped on Game 7 of the Anavet Cup. I flipped between both stations (whichever came in the best at the time!) for the first period, which was scoreless. Portage scored once late in the 2nd, and tacked on three more in the 3rd for a 4-0 decision. As I said last week, I would have given La Ronge better odds to win, having seen each team 6 or 8 times this year... but until you put two teams from different leagues on the same ice, it's hard to gauge how they'll match up. A slow start to the series (down 2-0) ended up costing La Ronge, and Coach Bob Beatty said their 7 game series against the Yorkton Terriers had a lot to do with that. I'm not shocked that Portage won, they've got a fast, hard-working, deep team, with two #1 goalies, and now they're going to Camrose for the RBC Cup in less than a week. Blake Spiller's one of my favourite guys to deal with and it's well-deserved for him and his group.
After following La Ronge-Portage, and the Chicago Blackhawks tie their series with Vancouver at 3-3, I caught the end of the Vernon Vipers and Spruce Grove Saints online. That was also Game 7 to decide who would go to the RBC Cup. Vernon won 4-2 with a late empty-netter, and the Vipers are going to the National Championship for a 3rd straight year, and are looking to win it for a 3rd straight time. They beat Humboldt in the 2009 final, and the host Dauphin Kings last year. They are likely a favourite again, especially after beating Spruce Grove, who I believe was ranked first overall in the country for most or all of the season, with a ridiculous record of 50-6-4.
RBC Cup Teams
Camrose Kodiaks (Host, AJHL)
Vernon Vipers (Pacific, BCHL)
Portage Terriers (West, MJHL)
Wellington Dukes (Central, OJHL)
Pembroke Lumber Kings (East, CJHL)
Vernon meets Camrose in the opening game Saturday night. Portage plays their first game Sunday afternoon against Pembroke.
Davis Vandane and the Spokane Chiefs fell 2-1 to the Portland Winterhawks Sunday night, which ties the WHL Western Conference Final at 1-1. Spokane struck first in Game 2, but Portland tied it, and Ryan Johansen scored his 8th of the playoffs for the winner. Vandane still managed a +1 rating, and is now +11 in 13 playoff games. He might be an offensive defenseman, but that +/- should tell you he can play in his own end too.
John Niebrandt and the Kootenay Ice are up 2-0 on Medicine Hat after 6-5 (OT) and 3-0 road wins on the weekend. Kootenay returns home for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. That club is really rolling, after sweeping Saskatoon, and I believe they came back from down 2-1 on Moose Jaw to win it in six. If that is indeed the case, that would give them 9 straight wins in these playoffs.
The West Final shifts to Spokane Wednesday and Friday. Guessing rink availability is more of an issue for Junior Hockey in Major U.S. Cities than in Medicine Hat and Cranbrook!
Hope your weekend was great! Enjoy this weather!