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Hilltops Release 2015 Schedule

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PHOTO COURTESY: Steve Hiscock

The Saskatoon Hilltops will open defense of their PFC and Canadian Bowl Titles on the road, August 16th in Calgary in a rematch of last year’s championship game.

The teams’ home schedule kicks-off two weeks later when they host Winnipeg August 30th at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.

Also of note will be the teams’ annual In The End Zone Fundraising dinner that is set for September 5th when they host Regina in a night game at SMF Field.

Here is the complete schedule:

WHL Round 2 Preview And Picks!

WHL Countdown To Faceoff 3

After correctly picking six of the eight first round WHL play-off match-ups. Here is a preview of round two complete with my prognostications.

Round 2 of the 2015 WHL Playoffs opens on Friday as eight WHL Clubs continue their quest to become the 49th WHL Champions and earn a spot at the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Quebec City, QC.

In the WHL’s Eastern Conference, the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy-winning Brandon Wheat Kings are in Round 2 after defeating the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings in five games. The Eastern Conference champions will now face the Regina Pats who are coming off a four-game sweep of the Swift Current Broncos

The Calgary Hitmen edged out the Kootenay ICE in a competitive seven-game series and now match-up with the Medicine Hat Tigers, who eliminated the Red Deer Rebels in five games.

In the WHL’s Western Conference, the Western Conference Champion Kelowna Rockets eliminated the Tri-City Americans in four straight games. The Rockets will now meet a familiar B.C. Division rival in the Victoria Royals, who handed the Prince George Cougars a series defeat in five games.

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds in six games to advance to Round 2. The Winterhawks now face an Everett Silvertips squad whose stingy defensive game saw them win the U.S. Division title and beat the Spokane Chiefs in a six-game Round 1 series.

All four Round 2 WHL Playoff series will be divisional contests.

2015 WHL Playoffs, Eastern Conference – Round 2

BRANDON WHEAT KINGS vs REGINA PATS

National Championship Dives Into Saskatoon

Water Polo

Saskatoon Sports Tourism and Water Polo Saskatchewan are excited to announce that the 2015 16 and Under National Championship League will be hosted at the Shaw Centre in Saskatoon. This will be the third time since the Shaw Centre opened in 2009 that Saskatoon has hosted a national championship event. The event will run April 9-12, 2015.

“The National Championship League represents a new push by Water Polo Canada to bring high quality water polo events to more cities. This event will feature some of the best in 16U water polo from across Canada”, commented tournament director Evan Andrews. “The event will be an excellent way to showcase Saskatoon’s beautiful Shaw Centre and outstanding hospitality.”

CFL Adopts New Rules

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Significant changes to the convert, passing rules and the pace of the game will be in place when the new Canadian Football League season kicks off this June.

The league’s Board of Governors approved today most of the changes proposed earlier this Spring by the CFL’s Rules Committee.

“The Board endorsed the view that this is a great time for our league to innovate,” said Michael Copeland, the CFL’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

“We’re looking forward to putting in place changes that have the potential to improve an already great game.”

The CFL is modifying the convert that follows a touchdown to make it less predictable.

A kick for a single point, which took place from the 12-yard line in past seasons, will now be kicked from the 32-yard line.

Another Spot To Gear Up In Rider Green In Toontown

Ben Heenan

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are excited to announce that a new Rider Store location will open in the Mall at Lawson Heights in Saskatoon. The Rider Store will be the second location in Saskatoon and fifth in the province.

The newest Rider Store will be the largest to date, featuring 3,000 square feet of Rider merchandise for the whole family. The new store is designed to make your visit a better overall shopping experience including on site jersey cresting so fans in Saskatoon can get their favourite name and number on a jersey immediately. The new location will not only serve Saskatoon residents but will make it more accessible for fans in Northern Saskatchewan to get the best Rider gear.

The Lawson Heights store has also been built using eco-friendly galvanized slat walls that requires no paint and less maintenance, and includes LED light fixtures that are longer lasting and reduce heat and energy costs. Because green is the colour!
The Mall at Lawson Heights is located on Primrose Drive – off Warman Road in Saskatoon’s North end.

Top Ten Tuesday: Trouble In Hockey Town North? AND Do We Really Need To Take A Chance On Him?

Top 10 2

It has been a very interesting past seven days. In no particular order here are my top thoughts from the week that was:

10 – Word out of Prince Albert is that the Northern community may only be able to support their WHL team for another five or six seasons unless the financial structure of the league changes. I am not privy to the Raiders financial statements nor do I profess to understand their market place. What I do know is that the Hockey Town North staff are terrific and do all that they can to enhance fan the fan experience and make game days fun days. That being said the biggest marketing strategy is simple, W-I-N! However, that too is hampered by the league’s financial structure. Scouting, player development, training it all takes money and in smaller markets finding that extra money is definitely a challenge.

9 – If there was an award to knowing their market that would have to go to the Calgary Hitmen. The team has been good both on and off the ice since their inception in 1994. Through their Teddy Bear Toss and their targeted marketing at families the team continually demonstrates how to engage their city. Case in point, understanding that their game seven against Kootenay was not only up against NHL action with big play-off implications (especially for the Flames),opening day in Major League baseball and was going to be broadcast along the Shaw network the Hitmen lowered their play-off ticket price to $12 taxes and fees in! The result 7,191 butts in the seats at the Scotiabank Saddledome on a Monday night for the deciding game in their season.

8 – One more from the WHL and the league released their regular season attendance figures.

From the Playground To The Pros! Done In Style:

Hilltop Indoor Workout

A few years back I had an intriguing conversation with Brian Guebert, then of Football Sask, about a program he was developing. Fortunately there was some small support that I could lend the program through and support that I could lend through Saskatchewan Roughrider broadcasts. The program was called: From the Playground to the Pros.

The premise was simple, all players that went on to play professional, college or junior football all started in the same place, on a playground or open field with their friends. At that time numerous athletes, coaches and administrators shared their love of the game and their passion for the sport not to mention their goal of having participants succeed on and off of the field.

Today that program has morphed into a camp that is being held this week,

Top 10 Tuesday: Time to Sound off About An Amazing Young Man

New Mosaic Stadium

10 – Thanks to Darren Entner for sharing his flyby picture of the new Mosaic Stadium. My reaction is goosebumps! I think the facility is going to be amazaing and the shell that we are starting to see emerge is spectacular.

9 – Social media blew-up with the release of the picture of the Roughriders new digs with some reactions ranging from ‘Money Pit’ to ‘Waste of time.’ Everyone is, of course, entitled to their own opinion but with two young boys entering minor football the opportunities are endless.

Hilltops Looking Forward To Defending Their Crown:

Hilltop Indoor Workout

The Saskatoon Hilltops off-season workouts are well underway and the team has their eye on a repeat.

About 100 players took to the turf at the Sasktel Sports Centre on Sunday with a wide array of players. Athletes varied from veterans looking to supplement their off-season regime to hopefuls trying to make an impression on the coaches, all were put through the paces in individual and team drills.

Head Coach Tom Sargent was impressed by what he saw especially from his leaders. He noted the confidence that his core group displayed and the upgrade in their football IQ over a year ago.

You can hear

Dave’s Dis N’ Dat: The Numbers Game AND A Heartfelt Thanks

Happy Friday

It must be tax time or something!!!! Numbers are floating around everywhere. With that in my I decided to grab a few that were rattling around in my brain to wrap up the week. Enjoy!

16 WHL teams are left in the WHL season. Play-offs open tonight. Here are my first round picks.

4 Games for Kelowna to defeat Tri-City.

5 Games for Victoria to defeat Prince George.

5 Games for Everett to defeat Spokane.

6 Games for Portland to defeat Seattle.

4 Games for Brandon to defeat Edmonton.

6 Games for Swift Current to defeat Regina.

5 Games for Calgary to defeat Kootenay.

6 Games for Red Deer to defeat Medicine Hat.

16 Wins will be collected by Kelowna on their way to winning the WHL title.

20% of players in the WHL were not selected in the bantam draft