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Matteo Costantini continuing his hockey career living with Hall of Famer

by Rod Mawhood

Sometimes stories fall right into reporters’ laps. As was the case recently with St. Catharines native and 2020 Buffalo Sabres draft pick Matteo Costantini.

While trying to set up a radio interview with the 18-year old, via ‘Zoom’, I chuckled as his sign-in name was Scott Niedermayer. As in Hockey Hall of Famer, four-time Stanley Cup Champion, and five-time NHL All-Star Scott Niedermayer.

Matteo Costantini playing hockey

Rocks keep rolling for local curling clubs

by The Niagara Independent

Like all recreational activities, especially those played indoors, Niagara’s curling clubs have had to make several modifications in order to have their dedicated members return to the ice this season.

While membership at local clubs is not surprisingly down, club managers have gone above and beyond to ensure a safe and fun return to play.

St. Catharines Golf and Curling Club

Niagara Basketball United set to take to the court

by Rod Mawhood

It’s been discussed for almost 20 years, but it’s finally come to fruition.

Members of the Brock Badgers, Niagara College Knights, Ridley Tigers, Pelham Panthers and Niagara Tigers all came together to form Niagara Basketball United.

basketball net

Niagara Falls native now a two-time Canadian record holder

by Rod Mawhood

For someone that gave up the sport of running for years, Jim Dyck is certainly reaping its rewards later in life.
The 55-year old Niagara Falls native had a productive summer on the track to say the least, setting two Canadian records in the sport of running.

Jim Dyck

Four Niagara connections drafted to the NHL and professionally

by Rod Mawhood

The 2020 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone and no fewer than three players with Niagara connections heard their names called.
A day later another local player signed a professional contract.
Welland native Colby Ambrosio went in the fourth round to the Colorado Avalanche while St. Catharines native Matteo Constantini was drafted in the fifth round by the Buffalo Sabres.

Colby Ambrosio on the ice

Former IceDog Verhaeghe – Stanley Cup Champion

by Rod Mawhood

It’s kind of fitting that on National Hockey League Draft day we feature a player that was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but didn’t make his NHL debut until he landed with his third franchise.
Twenty-five year old Carter Verhaeghe finally got his shot in the show with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, and now he’s a Stanley Cup champion.

Carter Verhaeghe one the ice

Dogs await Draft: Three IceDogs on projected list

by Rod Mawhood

It’s happening three months later than usual, and virtually, but the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is set to go Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
It was originally scheduled for June 26–27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, but was postponed on March 25 of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cameron Butler of the Niagara IceDogs

Terry Fox’s Niagara connection

by Rod Mawhood

As elementary and high schools across Niagara wrap up Terry Fox fundraising and runs this week, it’s a little known fact that the Canadian hero’s first and only trip to Niagara Falls had to do with one of the city’s own legends.
Canadian Basketball icon Jay Triano, who calls Niagara Falls home, had a special bond with Fox – one that former Simon Fraser University Head Coach Stan Stewardson said brought Fox to the Honeymoon Capital.

Jay Triano and Terry Fox

Believing in Truebelieve

by Kevin Vallier

Tuesday Sept. 29 will see the running of the 85th Prince of Wales Stakes in Fort Erie.
The race is the second jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown and this year’s running will have some local flavour as Truebelieve, owned by Centennial Farms (Niagara), will be in the starting gate.

Truebelieve racing horse

Brock men’s hockey adds forward with special connection to University

by Stephen Leithwood

The Brock men’s hockey team recruited a power forward from Québec with a unique connection to the University.
D’Artagnan Joly, who was drafted by the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames, is the great grandson of Brock’s founding president, James A. Gibson, whom the Brock Library is named after. Gibson, who held office before his retirement in 1974, passed away in 2003.

D’Artagnan Joly

Jamal Murray continues to grow the game of Basketball in and for Canada

by Rod Mawhood

You don’t have to look too far to see how much the game of basketball has grown in Canada.
It was just Tuesday night of this week when four of the top five Twitter trends in Canada involved the National Basketball Association (NBA) and in particular one Canadian player.

Welland native is new director of player development for Sabres

by Rod Mawhood

There’s a reason Matt Ellis went undrafted and carried that into a 10-year NHL career. In fact it can summed up in two words – work ethic.
It’s something the Welland native has prided himself on, and something he plans to carry over off the ice into his new role as Director of Player Development with the Buffalo Sabres.

matts ellis

Catch 22: Rick Vaive to release new book

by Kevin Vallier

With all the great hockey players who donned the famous blue and white jersey throughout the team’s storied history, no player had ever scored 50 goals until 1981-82 when Rick Vaive scored 54 times. In fact, he did it three years in a row scoring 51 and 52 the following two seasons. Then, just a few seasons later, he had the captain’s C taken off his jersey and was callously shipped out of town.

Rick Vaive book cover

Is this the year for the Buffalo Bills?

by Rod Mawhood

Quick, when was the last time the Buffalo Bills won a playoff game?
Despite making the National Football League post-season two out of the last three years, the answer might shock some.
December 30, 1995.

buffalo bills

The Prince awaits his next fight

by Rod Mawhood

It might not have been world record pace, but it was definitely close – and impressive.
Lucas Bahdi’s first nine months as a professional boxer produced a perfect (9-0) record, and all victories were via knockout or stoppage.

Lucas Bahdi in the ring

DesChatelets Jr’s mental disposition is his key to success

by Rod Mawhood

“The first memory of the sport I have was not the best one. I remember going out there and being so, so nervous. I couldn’t feel my arms, my neck became so stiff I could barely turn my head – wow.”
Not the words you would expect to hear from a wrestler recently determined to be a future Canadian Olympian, but Richard DesChatelets Jr. is just that.

Richard DesChatelets Jr. on the podium

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman steps up for Ludzik and Foundation

by Rod Mawhood

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many people to do and try different things.

Look no further than Sportsnet’s and Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, who decided to go live on television with the beard he grew during the first few months of the pandemic.

Elliotte Friedman

Local minor hockey organizations hope to score a season

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara’s minor hockey players and parents have been eagerly awaiting news from their respective associations as to what this year’s season will look like. While normally this time of year tryouts for Niagara’s boys and girls travel teams would be ramping up in most rinks around the region, they remain fairly quiet for now. St. Catharines isn’t even putting their ice in until tomorrow – one of the last cities in the province to do so.

jack gatecliff arena

Triano continues to represent Canada, and Niagara Basketball globally

by Rod Mawhood

Jay Triano will never forget Friday nights at A.N. Myer High School in Niagara Falls.
That’s where the current lead assistant with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets began to make his mark on the basketball court.

Jay Triano

It was a trip to an Ottawa Senators game that completely changed Jensen Murphy’s life.
The Buffalo Sabres were in town, and a certain goaltender named Dominek Hasek was between the pipes.

goalie Jensen Murphy

IceDogs hope to hit the ice December 1st

by Rod Mawhood

The Ontario Hockey League, in collaboration with its 20 teams including the Niagara IceDogs, has announced its return to play plans.
The league, like most across Canada, halted play back in March when the coronavirus hit.

ice dogs players on ice

CEBL Summer Series in final stretch

by Rod Mawhood

It was trending on twitter during its first day of action on national television, nine days later the round robin portion of the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) Summer Series is about to wrap up.

Seven teams from across Canada are competing for a championship trophy including the host Niagara River Lions.

riverlions playing basketball

Former Badgers goalie signs with NHL’s Golden Knights

by The Niagara Independent

Logan Thompson’s time with the Brock Badgers may have been brief, but he credits the University with playing a pivotal role in him landing a contract with the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights.
The 23-year-old Calgary native signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the NHL franchise July 13.

goalie Logan Thompson

Mac Hollowell living out his hockey dream

by Rod Mawhood

Mac Hollowell grew up idolizing Darcy Tucker.
Although Tucker played a different position and Hollowell is not the antagonizer the pesky forward was, the 21-year old Niagara Falls native has always loved the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Mac Hollowell on ice at the leafs training camp

Major League Baseball is back

by Rod Mawhood

How will the Blue Jays look in a shortened season?
Most casual baseball fans have heard the name Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by now, but many don’t know the other young talent on the Toronto Blue Jays roster.

Andrew Tinnish standing in the ballpark

Welland will be home to Ontario rowing performance centre

by The Niagara Independent

The new Ontario Performance Centre officially has a home as Row Ontario announced on Friday that the City of Welland submitted a winning bid to become the host.
Welland will become the home of all Row Ontario proprietary events, as well as the Ontario Performance Centre, which includes the new Ontario Academy of Rowing. According to a statement Welland had all the facilities and benefits Row Ontario was looking for in a host.

welland rowing course

An inside look: What will the summer start to the NHL playoffs look like?

by Rod Mawhood

Former Niagara IceDogs captain Ryan Strome takes us through what the New York Rangers have done and are doing.
There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyday life.

New York Ranger Ryan Strome on the ice

Welland native Connor Walters inks first pro contract

by Rod Mawhood

There is a term in sports – late bloomer.
Connor Walters is just that.
The 23-year old Welland native, former OHL (Ontario Hockey League), and Brock Badgers blueliner really found his stride at the Canadian University level after five seasons of major junior hockey with the Owen Sound Attack and Hamilton Bulldogs.

Connor Walters skating onto the rink

Sabrina D’Angelo – representing Welland on the world stage

by Rod Mawhood

Sabrina D’Angelo has represented Canada at some level since she was 14 years old.
The Welland native, and soccer goalkeeper, has proudly worn the red and white at the provincial, national, and international level.

Sabrina D’Angelo

The sport of Cricket in Niagara is now world renowned

by Rod Mawhood

When you think of sports in the Region, hockey, rowing and even lacrosse may come to mind but what about cricket?
Yes, believe it or not cricket in Niagara dates back to the early 1800’s.
The sport itself is believed to have originated in England during medieval times.

cricket stick and ball

Napper’s Boxing Club gets green light to re-open

by Rod Mawhood

The sound of leather gloves pounding canvas heavy bags, or bare fists keeping rhythm on a speed bag.
For over a century it’s been the norm at Napper’s Boxing Club in Welland.

a boxer

Growing up in Regent Park in Toronto Charles Kissi could have only dreamed of what he’s accomplished decades later.
Over 40-percent of the residents in the Toronto neighbourhood are considered low income.
And sometimes those residents didn’t see eye to eye or respect authority – in particular the Toronto police.

Charles Kissi

Niagara could be home to nationally televised basketball tournament

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara, and the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, could be featured in a proposed basketball tournament that will be broadcast live across Canada on CBC Television.
As of now the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) tournament hinges on government approval during the Covid-19 pandemic and where Niagara stands in terms of a stage and restrictions. The Region currently sits in stage two of recovery.

river lions basketball on court

Dear Dad – Happy Father’s Day

by Rod Mawhood

The following is a special Father’s Day edition of our sports column by Niagara Independent sports reporter Rod Mawhood.

Rod Mawhood and his dad Rick

Despite No Reopen Date, NHL Looks to Move Forward with Playoffs

by The Niagara Independent

With Niagara residents enduring weeks of COVID-19 related lockdowns and isolation, many are wondering if they will see their favourite hockey player shoot a puck or watch their team raise the beloved Stanley Cup over their heads.
Since March 12, the NHL placed its season on hold just as leagues across the world began to respond to the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic. So far, no return date has been announced by governmental authorities or the NHL.

gary bettman at a podium

University fall sports shut out

by The Niagara Independent

There will be no fall season for Brock Badgers student-athletes to compete in this year.
Earlier this week, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) announced the cancellation of its sport programming and championships up until Dec. 31, 2020 based on provincial public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar announcements were made by other provincial governing bodies across the country Monday, and U SPORTS announced that all fall national championships were also cancelled.

Brock University’s Alumni Field

The Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame class of 2020 has a real St. Catharines feel to it.
In fact, a whole former St. Catharines team will be entering the Hall this year.
The 1990-1991 St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics will be honored in the ‘Team Category.’

Randy Mearns

The message is simple – it can happen to any of us.
Dan Giancola was a professional football player, turned personal trainer. Yet two Wednesday’s ago, after conducting an online training session, he suffered a heart attack.

They’re at the post once again in Fort Erie

by Rod Mawhood

It’s a little later than hoped for, but considering the circumstances the powers that be at Fort Erie Race Track are ecstatic that later today the bugle will sound to officially kick off the 123rd horse racing season at what truly is a Niagara Institution.
June 16, 1897 – Fort Erie Race Track officially opened.

New rules on the links as golf courses open in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

It was a welcome announcement from Premier Doug Ford a couple of weeks back – ‘golf courses can reopen.’
However the game of golf, or at least the normal golf course routines as most of us knew them, has changed, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

beechwood golf course

Hoping rowing gets back on the water

by Rod Mawhood

The sport of rowing dates back well over a century in St. Catharines.
It was 1903 to be exact that the St. Catharines Rowing Club was founded, the same year the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta moved to Martindale Pond in Port Dalhousie for good.

rowing

Lincoln loses boys Canadian fast pitch championships due to COVID-19

by The Niagara Independent

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Softball Canada, in consultation with the 2021 Canada Games Host Society and the Provincial/Territorial Softball Organizations, has made the decision to cancel both the U14 and U16 Boys Canadian Fast Pitch Championships that were scheduled to take place from August 5 to 9, 2020 at Southward Park in Grimsby and at Jordan Lions Park in Lincoln.

Shawn Spears – putting Niagara on the professional wrestling map

by Rod Mawhood

Almost two decades as a professional wrestler, including over five years working for the biggest promotion in the world, you would think Shawn Spears (real name Ronnie Arneill) would be happy with where his career is at

pro wrestler Shawn Spears

Welland Jackfish set for ‘virtual’ home opener

by Rod Mawhood

It’s certainly thinking outside the (batters) box.
The Welland Jackfish, like most sports franchises during these trying times, would like to be welcoming their fans to Welland Stadium for a summer of baseball.

jackfish home opener

Life after hockey

by Kevin Vallier

It’s not always easy for professional athletes to make a successful transition from playing the sport they love to a completely different career – one that probably won’t come with nice hotels, travel, being asked for an autograph and the thrill of scoring a goal or winning a championship in front of thousands of fans. But for most athletes the reality is there will be, has to be, a life after sport.

Even McGrath on the ice

Sweet home Alabama

by Kevin Vallier

It was starting out to be a great season of Division 1 college baseball for Niagara Falls native Owen Diodati. He had a spectacular debut with the Alabama Crimson Tide where Diodati plays left field and is a designated hitter in his sophomore year. Then, like everywhere else in the world, the season came to an abrupt halt with the onset of a global pandemic. While most people are self isolating with family in their homes, the young Canadian is stuck in Alabama away from his parents and living with a teammate’s family.

Owen Diodati

Three NHLers with local ties do their part during Covid-19 pandemic

by Rod Mawhood

The year 2020 will forever be engraved in our minds as a time of change. The world as we knew it will never be the same.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic everyone has done their part in trying to lessen the burden we all face on a daily basis.

Vince Dunn

Where are they now? Luca Caputi – IceDogs only 50-goal scorer

by Rod Mawhood

Luca Caputi wishes he played more than one season in Niagara with the IceDogs.
Caputi is still the only IceDog to score 50 (Jason Robertson did so but with Kingston and Niagara combined) or more goals in a season.

Luca Caputi

Bills average A- grade overall amongst draft analysts

by The Niagara Independent

Despite lacking a first round pick (thanks to a blockbuster trade up for top-tier receiver Stefon Diggs), the Buffalo Bills managed to turn in a solid scorecard for this year’s NFL draft.

With the 54th overall selection, Buffalo nabbed 21-year-old defensive end out of Iowa, A.J. Epenesa. Standing 6’ 5”, weighing 280 lb., the former Hawkeye is massive. What he lacks in flash and burst, he makes up for in power and rush versatility.

A.J Epenesa

Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell thinking outside of the (batter’s) box

by Rod Mawhood

It was just after his appearance at Romby’s Tavern & Smokehouse in St. Cathairnes, in early March, that Sportsnet’s – and the host of Toronto Blue Jays baseball – had a premonition.
“Sometime around then, when we hosted there, I was just trying to figure out a good way of reaching out to Blue Jays fans and sort of keeping the line open with them,” said Jamie Campbell from his home in Toronto.

Jamie Campbell

Wrestlers top Badgers’ athletic awards

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers didn’t let the cancellation of their annual awards gala stop them from celebrating their student-athletes.
The Badgers took to social media to hold a virtual gala, hosted by Matt Bonomi of Brock TV, in order to recognize and pay tribute to Brock’s outstanding 2019-20 season.

Brock wrestlers, Clayton Pye and Hannah Taylor

Sports no longer the positive distraction they once were

by Rod Mawhood

Sports origins date back at least 3,000 years. In fact the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. Sports have been a positive distraction for many on both a national, international and of course local level.
The oldest organized sporting franchise in Niagara, still in existence, is the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics lacrosse club.

welland stadium

Former St. Catharines Teepee Pat ‘Whitey’ Stapleton dies

by Kevin Vallier

He wasn’t very big in stature. In fact, by today’s standards he’d be considered a very small NHL defenseman. But what he lacked in height he more than made up with his huge heart and infectious smile. Pat Stapleton, listed at 5’8”, who patrolled the blue line for the St. Catharines Teepees before landing in the windy city to become a Chicago Blackhawk, passed away last week. He was 79 years old.

Pat Stapleton on the ice

OHL Draft: IceDogs select 15 players including highest draft pick ever

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs were poised to make their highest pick ever, since arriving in the Region back in 2007, in this past Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft.
First round, second overall.

Pamo Femis

What’s next for North America’s ‘Big Four’ sports leagues?

by The Niagara Independent

Athletic events have all but disappeared amidst the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, leaving fans, players, coaches, and multi-billion dollar operations in limbo.

Will there be a return to relative normalcy any time soon? Or will sporting in Canada and the United States remain on indefinite hiatus for the foreseeable future?

major sports logos

Woody Williams will never forget St. Catharines

by Rod Mawhood

He played almost 20 years of professional baseball, including 15 in the major leagues.
Yet if you ask former MLB all-star Woody Williams his favorite baseball memory his answer might surprise you.

Ex Major League all-star Woody Williams

River Lions re-sign 2019 captain

by Rod Mawhood

The game of basketball has been good to Ryan Anderson.
The now 32-year old Seattle, Washington native has traveled the world through sport.
Anderson has played in the Netherlands and numerous cities across North America including here in Niagara with the River Lions.

River Lions Captain Ryan Anderson

Bills make some big moves

by The Niagara Independent

Looking to build on last year’s 10-6 playoff-worthy season, the Buffalo Bills made some major moves recently.

Perhaps the most notable acquisition saw the Bills trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. The Bills gave up their 2020 first, fifth and sixth round draft picks and a fourth in 2021 in the exchange. Diggs, who boasts 30 career touchdowns and is coming off of two consecutive seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards, will help beef up a lacklustre Bills receiving corps that ranked 26th in passing last season.

josh allen, quarterback for the bills

Dogs done: OHL regular season shut down

by The Niagara Independent

Ontario Hockey League Commissioner David Branch announced on Wednesday that the 2019-20 OHL regular season is done.
Following a meeting with the OHL Board of Governors and consultation with medical professionals, it was determined that the remaining 56 games of the 2019-20 OHL Regular Season schedule will not played.

ice dogs playing hocking in the meridian centre

Niagara’s AAA minor midget teams were headed to OHL Cup

by Kevin Vallier

The Niagara North Stars and Southern Tier Admirals were supposed to be heading to Toronto next week to participate in the OHL Cup. Like many sporting events and tournaments the OHL Cup has been cancelled. It’s a big tournament from a team perspective but as individual players, it’s also one of the most important tournaments of the year as it’s the last time scouts will see the players in game situations prior to the Ontario Hockey League draft which takes place April 4.
In a statement organizers said, “Since the start of the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19, the OHL and GTHL have closely monitored the rapidly evolving situation with a view to the health and safety of players and their families, team and league staff, on and off ice officials, fans and the general public.”

north stars hockey team

Banner year for Badgers

by Rod Mawhood

Emily Allan’s air mile account will see a significant increase as the winter athletic season expires. Rightfully so.
The Brock University Associate Director of Athletics will visit at least two if not three provinces in a 10 day span.

Brock Badgers women’s basketball team

Badgers dream season continues

by Rod Mawhood

An impressive (17-5) regular season has transformed into something even more special for the Brock Badgers Women’s Basketball team.
That record has now been improved by three more victories, an Ontario University Association (OUA) Critelli Cup Championship and a trip to the USports Final 8 – National Championships – later this week in Ottawa.

brock women's basketball

Jackfish set for second season

by Rod Mawhood

Despite the recent weather in Niagara, March is only hours away and that means the boys of summer will be back.
Not since the days of the St. Catharines Stompers, in the mid to late 1990’s, has baseball been so prominent in the Region. And you can thank the Welland Jackfish for that.

jackfish player catching a ball

Playoff time for Niagara’s Jr. B hockey clubs

by Rod Mawhood

As the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – regular season wraps up this weekend only one first round playoff series remains in question.
Will either St. Catharines or Hamilton finish third or fourth respectively, and play either Thorold or Pelham?

niagara falls canuck hockey player on ice

Diodati belts three homers in ‘Bama debut

by Kevin Vallier

It wasn’t that long ago that Niagara Falls native Owen Diodati had a tough decision to make; One that most teenagers or adults will never have to make in a lifetime. Sign with a professional baseball team and bank a cool million bucks or go to college to play ball. Diodati turned down the money and a chance to become a Toronto Blue Jay and instead head to Alabama and play for the Crimson Tide.
This past weekend reaffirmed his decision. Not that there was much doubt.

owen diodati at bat

Brock set to host U SPORTS Wrestling National Championships

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers wrestling team will be aiming for its seventh-straight national title as it hosts the U SPORTS Wrestling Championships at Brock University Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22.
Both the men’s and women’s teams head into the championships ranked No. 1 in the country, having recently won their fifth and sixth-consecutive provincial titles, respectively, in dominating fashion.

Brock university wrestler

River Lions set to roar louder

by Rod Mawhood

What some so called experts and pundits predicted may not work, has been exactly the opposite.
In fact – it’s been a roaring success.
Professional basketball is about to embark on its fifth season here in the Region with the Niagara River Lions.

riverlions basketbal court

Brock women’s soccer player to lace up for Trinidad & Tobago U20 squad

by The Niagara Independent

There will be a Brock Badger on the field when 20 international soccer teams clash at the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic from Feb. 22 to March 8.
Brock midfielder Arnelle Douglas, a second-year Humanities student from Bowmanville, was recently named to the Trinidad & Tobago U20 squad that will compete for a chance to qualify for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in August.

two university students playing soccer

Simon says Hall of Fame – Todd Simon enters Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame

by Rod Mawhood

The smell of what was then the Nabisco plant – now Post Foods Canada Corporation – was Todd Simon’s first memory of Niagara Falls.
Simon arrived in the Honeymoon capital in 1989, and three short years later left his mark on the city and Region he now calls home.

todd simon with participants of his hockey camp

Brock basketball honours seniors with a pair of wins

by The Niagara Independent

The essence of family was on full display during Seniors Night at Bob Davis Gymnasium.
The Brock men’s and women’s basketball teams celebrated their senior players with a pair of wins. The men beat the York Lions 94-81 in front of a sold-out crowd while the women defeated York 73-55..
The Badgers men honoured senior players Tyler Brown and Mitch Saunders, including Operations Coordinator William Gatchalian, during a pre-game ceremony prior to tip off.

Brock Badger basketball players

Just 27 years old, it’s hard to believe that Kirsten Moore-Towers has been figure skating since she was two.
The St. Catharines native is a two-time Canadian Pairs Champion with Sarnia’s Michael Marinaro after capturing earlier this month in Mississauga.

moore and marinaro skating

St. Catharines hosting the Memorial Cup of Lacrosse

by Rod Mawhood

It’s called the Memorial Cup of Lacrosse, and it’s coming to St. Catharines this summer.
The 2020 Minto Cup – the Canadian Jr. A Lacrosse Championship – has been awarded to the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics.

the Minto cup trophy

Akil Thomas continues to impress both on and off the ice

by Rod Mawhood

In the span of less than two weeks Akil Thomas has gone from being the captain of the Niagara IceDogs and second round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings, to a household name across Canada.

It started on Sunday January 5 when the now Peterborough Petes forward scored the game-winning ‘Golden Goal’ in Canada’s 4-3 victory over Russia at the World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

akil thomas and Mike Oke

IceDogs restock in a big-time way – trade Thomas and Tomasino

by Rod Mawhood

Most Niagara IceDogs fans knew general manager Joey Burke needed to restock his teams draft cupboard after last season’s ‘all in’ campaign.
Well Burke did that and then some during this week’s Ontario Hockey League trade deadline.

Phil Tomasino

IceDog scores golden goal

by Kevin Vallier

He didn’t see nearly as much ice time as he would with his club team the Niagara IceDogs but Akil Thomas sure made the most of it.
Thomas, a fourth line forward for the Canadian junior team that captured gold this past weekend in a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Russia, scored the game winning goal late in the third period on a partial breakaway that required quick thinking and lots of skill.

Akil Thomas scores

IceDogs’ Thomas celebrates birthday with world win

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara IceDogs’ forward and Los Angeles Kings second round draft pick Akil Thomas celebrated his birthday in fine style yesterday turning in a solid effort helping his Canadian teammates secure a never-in-doubt 6-1 quarter-final victory over Slovakia.

Thomas has seen more ice time as the tournament has progressed and sources tell The Niagara Independent that the skilled forward is a highly regarded by bench boss Dale Hunter. The Canadian kids will now head to the semi-finals (Saturday at 1 p.m.) where they will face a much stiffer challenge in the Fins who knocked off the Americans 1-0 in their quarter final game. The other semi-final will feature a classic showdown between Russia and Sweden.

Canada’s national junior team

Niagara sporting franchises ready for 2020

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara is blessed with a wide range of sporting franchises. All of which add to the unique cultural surrounding sports across the Region.
The Niagara IceDogs lead the pack when it comes to fall and winter sports across Niagara.

st catharines A's

Gallant helps Badgers into national rankings

by The Niagara Independent

When the Brock Badgers women’s basketball team return from the holiday break to start the 2020 portion of their season, their first home game of the new year will be the latest edition of the Paint the Meridian Red game back at the Meridian Centre on Saturday, Jan. 11.
The team has come a long way in the past two years. Brock’s women’s basketball team headed into the holiday break riding a six-game winning streak. Their 9-1 record has them ranked first in the OUA Central division and No. 9 in the nation.

Kristin Gallant and teammates

IceDogs brass happy at Christmas break

by Rod Mawhood

A .500 hockey club. Fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. A record of (7-2-1) over their last 10 games heading into the Christmas break. Many would say the Niagara IceDogs organization should be happy with the unofficial first half of the 2019-20 campaign.
Head Coach Billy Burke agrees.

akil thomas

The Interesting story of Al Jensen

by Rod Mawhood

From NHL goaltender, to St. Catharines Transit bus driver, to Director of Goaltending for NHL Central Scouting.
The story of Al Jensen is an interesting one.
Born in Hamilton, Jensen started playing goal for the same reason many kids do that first lace up the pads.

al jansen

Discipline helping Niagara North Stars win games

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara’s two minor midget AAA hockey clubs are having themselves solid seasons. Currently both are in the top three of the standings with the Southern Tier Admirals sitting comfortably in first place while the Niagara North Stars are in third. It’s an important year for the 15 year-olds as they hope to catch the eye of the scouts and get drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
Both teams are now past the half way point in their respective seasons and for Niagara North’s head coach Matt Miller things have gone pretty much according to plan. “We’re right where I expected us to be. We’ve been playing extremely well,” said Miller.

tai york

Canucks and Falcons in the hunt at halfway mark

by Rod Mawhood

The regular season crown might already be out of reach, but the battle for second place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – could come down to the wire.

It’s clear the Caledonia Corvairs, after taking a one-year hiatus from league play, are the class of the Golden Horseshoe but after that – just three points separate the second place Niagara Falls Canucks and third place St. Catharines Falcons.

Geater Ontario Hockey League logo

Sir Winston brings home cross country gold

by Kevin Vallier

There were nearly 300 high school student athletes braving the cold wind and the slippery snow covered trails in Sudbury at the recent Ontario high school (OFSAA) cross country championships. In the end, it was St. Cathairnes’ own Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs that captured the novice boys gold medal and the overall boys title while also showing a very strong performance on the girls side. The Bulldogs finished just one point away from the combined championship taking home silver.

novice boys champions

Welland’s Johnny Augustine is now a Grey Cup champion

by Rod Mawhood

What if Johnny Augustine got his original wish and never moved to Welland?
Perhaps he wouldn’t be the Grey Cup champion he is now.
Augustine’s dad, Saint-Ange, moved the family to Welland in Johnny’s grade nine year.

Johnny Augustine hoists the Grey Cup

Strong showing for Badgers at rugby nationals

by The Niagara Independent

On paper the Brock Badgers men’s rugby team were the No. 8 seed coming into the national finals tournament but they played like a much higher ranked team on the field. After dropping the first game to No. 1 ranked UBC, the Badgers powered their way past Guelph in the consolation semifinals and then flexed their durability against McGill.
“This win means a lot to us, we play as a family, we are brothers win or lose,” said senior Victory Eichie, about the McGill victory. Eichie was named the Man of the Match. “Coming from one of our worst seasons last year to one of our best this year is surreal, we owe it all the coaching staff, the athletic therapists holding us together and the strength and conditioning staff. We play a game with 15 players on the field, but our success this year took more than 50 individuals.”

badgers rugby

NLL season kicks off with Niagara connections

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara is home to dozens of professional lacrosse players and coaches. Perhaps none bigger than all-world goaltender Matt Vinc.
When it comes to Canada’s national summer sport there isn’t anything the 37-year old St. Catharines native hasn’t won.

goaltender Matt Vinc

Young Niagara curlers rocking the house

by The Niagara Independent

The curling season has begun in Niagara and local curlers have had some early success in provincial competitions.
Last weekend the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club hosted one of two regional playoffs for the Under 21 Ontario Curling Championships. At stake were three men’s and three women’s spots in the Provincial U21 championships to be held just after Christmas in Guelph. Those championships will see just eight men’s and eight women’s teams qualify for a four-day championship bonspiel.

curling

Brock Men’s Rugby off to National Championships

by Rod Mawhood

What a difference a year can make.
After finishing its 2018 season with a (1-7) record, the Brock Men’s Rugby team won an Ontario University Athletics bronze medal last weekend, and can improve on that starting tomorrow in Montreal as Concordia University hosts the Canadian University Championships.

badgers rugby

It’s amazing to think Tonya Verbeek didn’t start wrestling until she was sixteen years old while attending Beamsville Secondary School.
It was now colleague and fellow coach Dave Collie that brought women’s wrestling to the high school.

Tonya Verbeek at an Olympic wrestling match

Determined Marauders to battle fighting Irish for football title

by Kevin Vallier

Despite the lopsided score of the District School Board of Niagara’s senior boys’ championship football game Friday night, it wasn’t an easy win. It was a victory months in the making according to A.N. Myer head coach Dave Buchanan. “I don’t think it was anything Sir Winston did wrong, it’s just this group of players we have are completely motivated and focused,” Buchanan explained a couple of days after his Marauders beat the Bulldogs 52-0 in the final.

A.N. Myer senior boys’ football team

Wanita May Dykstra soars into St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame

by Rod Mawhood

Growing up as the youngest of six siblings, competition and sports were always a part of Wanita May Dykstra’s life.

In fact it led the now 44-year old to more than she ever expected.

Wanita May Dykstra

Scrappy Bulldogs to battle powerhouse Myer for football championship

by The Niagara Independent

The two semi-final senior boys’ football matchups couldn’t have played out any differently. The end result however is a one game showdown for the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 1 championship this Friday between powerhouse A.N. Myer Marauders of Niagara Falls and the determined, hard working Winston Churchill Bulldogs of St. Catharines.

There’s no question the Bulldogs are the underdogs heading into Friday night’s game under the lights at Myer. Head-to-head the Marauders have outscored the Bulldogs 76-12 in the two games the teams played against each other this season. The Bulldogs went 2-4 on the season while the Marauders went a perfect 6-0.

an myer football

Niagara College set to get ReuKnighted

by Rod Mawhood

It will be a first for Niagara College.
This Friday and Saturday former Knights will gather on Niagara College’s Welland Campus for ReuKnighted.
Past athletes, and alumni from the college’s broadcasting and sports management programs will come together for two days of celebration, sports and recognition.

Amy Audibert

Still in the Game – Former Stomper now with Nationals

by Rod Mawhood

As the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals prepare for Game 6 of the World Series tonight, one particular gentleman – with ties to St. Catharines – is hoping the Nationals can rebound from three straight losses at home and force a Game 7 in the fall classic.
Ralph “Rocket Wheeler” called the Garden City home back in the 1980’s and nineties.

Rocket Wheeler

Where there’s a Will there’s a way

by Rod Mawhood

Willy Manigat sounds like a seasoned vet. A veteran head coach.
You would never guess he’s just months into his new, and first, role as a head coach.
Manigat was named bench boss of the Brock Badgers Men’s Basketball team back in June, and officially took over the job on July 5.

Willy Manigat

Gillard gives back after career ending injury

by Rod Mawhood

It was four years ago this past week that Matt Gillard’s life changed – but thankfully not forever.
The then 19-year old was living the dream. A Welland native playing for one of the top junior hockey league’s in the world, in essentially his hometown, for the Niagara IceDogs.

Matt Gillard

Becoming a Leafs captain

by Kevin Vallier

There was a lot of hype a few weeks ago as to who would be the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It consumed Toronto media and “Leafs Nation”. Eventually most hockey pundits were right in their prediction it would be veteran forward and former Islanders captain John Tavares who would skate onto the ice for the team’s home opener with the ‘C’ on his jersey.

Following Tavares’ first game as captain, a video showing the Leafs’ star forward walking into an office with GM Kyle Dubas was made public. They were met by team president Brendan Shanahan and Tavares’ wife and baby. It was a nice moment for Tavares, his family, the team and their fans and it was certainly different from how the captain was named in the past.

rick vaive on the ice

Former Major Leaguer will never forget his St. Catharines Blue Jays days

by Rod Mawhood

When your professional baseball career spans 17 seasons, and features a World Series Championship with the New York Yankees, you might think one would forget about St. Catharines, Ontario and Community Park but David Weathers isn’t your average former major league pitcher.
In fact, the Tennessee native lists St. Catharines as his favorite pro baseball memory.

David Weathers pitching

Two out of three stars ain’t bad

by Kevin Vallier

The Niagara IceDogs lit the lamp eight times in front of a loud crowd at the Meridian Centre Friday night. The offensive explosion was lead by Philip Tomasino and Kyen Sopa who combined for a total of 11 points in an 8-4 victory. The IceDogs now sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2-1-1 record good enough for eight points.
Not only did Tomasino and Sopa earn post-game star honours but they were both recognized by the Ontario Hockey League for their offensive efforts with Tomasino earring the league’s first star of the week and Sopa earning second star.

Icedogs Sopa and Tomasino

Soccer and Rob Lalama go hand in hand

by Rod Mawhood

He’s dedicated over 40 years of his life to the game of soccer.
And he wouldn’t have any other way.
Rob Lalama began his coaching career at the age of fourteen, and did so to help out one of his brothers.

Niagara College soccer coach Rob Lalama

Garlent feeling the Rush

by Rod Mawhood

Holden Garlent was quick with his answer when asked whom he thought of first when he donned a Saskatchewan Rush jersey and hat at the 2019 National Lacrosse League (NLL) draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Garlent was drafted in the first round, fourth overall, by the Rush and is listed as a defense/transition player.

Holden Garlent

Conduct unbecoming of a captain

by Dale Horton

At first glance, an initial reaction might have been to shrug, and say “boys will be boys”. Especially rich boys. But upon further review, this moment in Auston Matthews’ career path has far more depth to it than you might think.
Earlier this week the Leafs’ star player had to face the media after it was revealed he and some pals, in a drunken stuper, allegedly approached a loan female security officer while she was sitting in her locked car at 2 a.m. outside a condo complex in Scottsdale, Arizona. The group were allegedly taunted the woman and tried to (or acted like they were going to) enter the vehicle. Matthews pulled down his pants before leaving the scene, making a rude gesture.

austin matthews

IceDogs off to good start

by Rod Mawhood

When you lose nine regulars from your line-up the previous season any team would acknowledge a rebuild is underway.
Enter the 2019-20 Niagara IceDogs who feature 12 new faces to this year’s squad.
Gone is five-year veteran goaltender, and franchise wins leader, Stephen Dhillon, Ben Jones, Ivan Lodnia, Kiril Maksimov, Canadian Hockey League (CHL) leading scorer Jason Robertson, Jack Studnicka, Jacob Paquette, Johnny Schaefer and Matt Brassard.

drew hunter

High school football kicks off

by Kevin Vallier

It’s a sure sign of fall. High school athletes are taking to the gridiron all across the region this week as high school football kicks off for another season.

The St. Paul Patriots look to repeat as Niagara Catholic Athletic Association (NCAA) senior boys champions while A.N. Myer in Niagara Falls looks to repeat as District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) champions.

high school football

Badgers split games against two nationally ranked teams

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock men’s soccer team defeated the nationally-ranked McMaster Marauders to remain undefeated on Saturday. Unfortunately for Brock they had to turn around and play the No. 4-ranked York Lions (3-0-1) on Sunday, a game they lost 3-0.
Brock upended No. 8 McMaster by a score of 4-2 at Brock Alumni Field, on Saturday improving to 2-0-2.

brock soccer

IceDogs trade top defenceman

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara IceDogs’ General Manager Joey Burke pulled the trigger yesterday on what many fans speculate won’t be the only trade of the season that sees the Dogs in a rebuild mode.
Burke acquired four draft picks from the Peterborough Petes, three in 2021, in exchange for defenceman Jacob Paquette.

paquette

Puck drops on Niagara’s Jr. B Hockey season

by Rod Mawhood

With Pelham, and the newest arena in Niagara, serving as the back drop the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League kicked off its season this past weekend.
Over 20 teams made the trek down Highway 20 to play in the GOJHL Showcase at the Meridian Community Centre.

puck drop

Steel Blade Classic becoming Niagara hockey tradition

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers are once again set to hit the ice for the legendary Steel Blade Classic in downtown St. Catharines Friday, Sept. 13.
The 21st annual event returns to the Meridian Centre as the Badgers men’s hockey team takes on the Guelph Gryphons in a 7 p.m. start.

steel blade brock hockey

You don’t hear or see this too often.
A father and son coaching the same sport at the two biggest educational institutions in the same Region.
But it’s happening right here in Niagara.

mike and chris rao

North Stars have Miller on draft

by Kevin Vallier

For the top minor midget AAA hockey players in Canada it’s a year like no other. Same goes for the head coaches of those teams. That’s because this is the year the kids have played their entire minor hockey careers for – their major junior draft year. For those playing in Ontario it’s their shot to take their hockey careers to the next level – the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
It’s a pressure packed year for the young players, parents and the coaching staff. Niagara North Stars’ minor midget AAA coach is no stranger to guiding young OHL and NHL hopefuls through their most important minor hockey season. Matt Miller has been there and done that. Miller, a Pickering native who now lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, played NCAA hockey before going behind the bench to pass along what he learned over the years as a player and from his former coaches.

matt miller

Niagara IceDogs training camp preview

by Rod Mawhood

It may still be August, and summer is winding down, but the sounds of pucks hitting the glass and the train horn going off at Meridian Centre is fresh on the mind of many hockey fans across the Region.
Yes, Niagara IceDogs training camp opens today, and preseason game action begins Friday night for the team that has called St. Catharines home since 2007.

ice dogs training camp

River Lions head west for championship weekend

by The Niagara Independent

It’s been a season of firsts for the Niagara River Lions.
After being the first team to register a Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) win, they were the first team to clinch a playoff spot. Now, they’re the first #1 seed in CEBL history, finishing the regular season with a 15-5 record.

riverlions

Jackfish swim into semis

by The Niagara Independent

For the first time in franchise history the Welland Jackfish have eliminated a team in the post season. Tuesday night saw the London Majors come to the rose city for the fifth and as it turned out final game of the opening series. Welland defeated London by a final score of 11-7 taking the series four games to one.
“It feels great, to win a series in our first year is terrific, however we’re not done yet,” said Jackfish manager Brian Essery. “We just have to continue to play our game. Pitching, defence and team speed. It is certainly positive the way our bats have come around at the right time.”

jackfish

The kids are all right

by Dale Horton

The Toronto Blue jays have a long history of exciting young talent coming up to the big leagues amidst a ton of fanfare. From Tony Fernandez, to Lloyd Moseby, to Jesse Barfield, Carlos Delgado, Shannon Stewart, and on and on.
But nothing seems to compare with the combined hype for this new group of kids now taking the city by storm. Their performances, at least early on, suggest that the expectations heaped upon them seems warranted, and in some cases, might even have been low.

bo bichette and cavan biggio

“Bama Bound for Baseball

by Kevin Vallier

After having some time to reflect on one of the most stressful decisions any 17 year-old (he turns 18 this month) will have to make, Niagara Falls native Owen Diodati is all business and all baseball.
It was just last month when the strong power-hitting catcher had to decide between turning pro after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays or pursue his education while playing the game he loves. The Jays approached Diodati in the early rounds and made him an offer. The youngster had a number in mind and said the Jays weren’t far off which made the decision even tougher. “I had a number in my head. The Jays came really close to it and it made it a really tough choice but I want to go to school,” explained Diodati. He ended up still being drafted. “For the Jays to still draft me in the later rounds was pretty special. So much thought goes into draft day leading up to it and then I had about five minutes to make a life changing decision.”

owen diodati

Jackfish hoping to catch playoff fever – first round begins tonight

by Rod Mawhood

The Welland Jackfish will begin their first ever playoff round tonight. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that wouldn’t agree the Welland Jackfish inaugural season in the Rose City was a massive success. The team averaged 776 fans over 18 regular season home games. What’s more impressive? It’s the first time the franchise […]

jackfish

IceDogs finalize coaching staff

by Rod Mawhood

August has officially arrived and that means Niagara IceDogs hockey is just around the corner. In fact the IceDogs, who arrived in Niagara back in 2007, kick off their pre-season schedule August 30 at the Vale Centre in Port Colborne against the Barrie Colts.
Earlier this week the team announced, and finalized, its coaching staff for the 2019-20 season.

Former NHLer Mark Mancari

Athletics season ends with semi-final playoff loss to Burlington

by Rod Mawhood

A promising regular season, and playoff outlook, came to abrupt end Sunday night for the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics lacrosse club.
The Athletics were defeated in six games in the Ontario Lacrosse semi-finals by the Burlington Chiefs.
“This is obviously not what we wanted,” said A’s head coach Steve Toll who didn’t want to make excuses but admitted injuries were a factor down the stretch.

st catharines A's

‘Doc’ Halladay was one of the best

by Dale Horton

The late Roy Halladay; all star pitcher, two-time Cy Young winner, former Blue Jay and Phillie, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this week. He made it into Cooperstown in his first year on the ballot, receiving 85.4 percent of the votes from the 425 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Over 16 seasons, Halladay had 203 wins and just 105 losses, with a 3.38 lifetime ERA and tossed a very impressive 67 complete games.
From all accounts of those who knew him, Halladay was the consummate professional. He possessed all the qualities of the top athletes…talent, drive, commitment. But Roy had that bit extra. His focus to his sport, to his craft, was unsurpassed. It was widely reported that “Doc” could be prickly on the days he pitched, and was known to hold teammates to that same standard. But there was no denying Roy’s love and respect of the game, and the will to be the best he could be every time he took the mound.

roy halladay

84th running of the Prince of Wales Stakes goes tonight

by Rod Mawhood

The Fort Erie Race Track has been one of Niagara’s crown jewels since 1897, and tonight the biggest race at the Fort for the last eighty plus decade’s takes place with the running of the 84th Prince of Wales Stakes – the second jewel in Canada’s triple crown of thoroughbred horse racing.
Five horses make up the field for the race that will begin just before 7:40 p.m, and broadcast live across the country on TSN.

frank salive

Will the Stro Show go?

by Dale Horton

Almost constantly, professional sports teams are faced with situations that are pointed to by the fans and media as “defining moments”. Sometimes this rings true, while others are just the next moments in a series of important decisions that teams are faced with on the road to improvement and, ultimately, the top of the championship mountain.
Which brings us to the Blue Jays and Marcus Stroman. Stroman has been a unique entity in his tenure as a Blue Jay. He brings a blend of talent and swagger to the mound each and every time, utilizing the motivation that somewhere along the road someone told him he wasn’t big enough to compete at baseball’s highest levels.

stroman

Jackfish hitting it out of the park in inaugural season

by Kevin Vallier

Exceeding expectations. That’s how Welland Jackfish President and CEO Ryan Harrison would describe his ball team’s inaugural season in the Rose City. Well into the second half of their 36 game regular season schedule the Jackfish are an impressive 14-11 and sit in third place, five games back of first place Barrie Baycats.
“Our goal was to be 18 and 18 this season and knock on wood we should be above that at the end of the year,” said Harrison. This past weekend the Jackfish won two and lost one. “We had a big win against Guelph on Saturday as they are right behind us in the standings.”

jackfish

Athletics and Arrows meet again in the playoffs

by Rod Mawhood

The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics first round playoff opponent is a familiar one. For the third time in four years, the Athletics will meet the Six Nations Arrows in the opening round of the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse Association playoffs.
The previous two series have been sweeps. The Athletics last season, and the Arrows in 2016.

St Catharines A's on the bench

Brock Badgers score new men’s basketball coach

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers have reached into the powerhouse Carleton University basketball program to find the new head coach for the Brock men’s basketball team.
Willy Manigat, who has won three national university basketball titles as a player and two as a coach, will become the ninth coach in the history of the Brock men’s program. His appointment takes effect July 5.
Manigat spent the past four years with the Carleton Ravens, who have won 14 of the last 17 national championships. He served as lead assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.

willy manigat

This is not your father’s NHL

by Dale Horton

It is a brave new world we are seeing unfold across professional hockey with the number of potential free agents-restricted and unrestricted- that have hit the open market. The salary cap, which was supposed to help curb spending by certain teams, and to create a more balanced, competitive league, might actually be doing the opposite. You now have situations where teams can build a good team through wise drafting and shrewd trades, but often won’t be able to keep them together long enough to actually win the Stanley Cup.
Gone are the days of the Chicago Blackhawks, who won two Cups before they were forced to break up the band. Now, teams like Toronto and Winnipeg are facing the potential of having to dismantle very good rosters long before they have won anything significant.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu’s proud to be Canadian

by Rod Mawhood

As Canadians from coast to coast celebrated Canada’s 152nd birthday yesterday, one professional athlete with Niagara roots has a special recollection of why this country is so special.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu fled worn torn in Kosovo as a youngster and found his way to St. Catharines.

Ti-Cats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu

Nunez from Stomper to Royal

by Rod Mawhood

Summer brings back many fond memories for this reporter, but none maybe fonder than my first professional sports announcing gig.
It was 1996, and I was lucky enough to be working in the big smoke and at Canada’s largest radio station – 680 News in Toronto.
I remember meeting with then St. Catharines Stompers’ General Manager John Belford at the team’s office on Merritt Street, and getting the job.

nunez

IceDogs forward selected in the 1st round of NHL Draft

by Rod Mawhood

Phil Tomasino joined an impressive list this past Friday night in Vancouver, British Columbia – the site of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Tomasino joined the list of Niagara IceDogs players drafted in the first round, as he was selected 24th overall by the Nasville Predators.

tomasino

Former Brock Badgers men’s basketball head coach Charles Kissi is now head assistant coach with Raptors 905. It was a view that will be etched into his memory for the rest of his life. In an interview with The Niagara Independent, former Brock Badgers men’s basketball coach Charles Kissi, who is now the head assistant […]

kissi

Enjoy the party

by Dale Horton

1993. Seinfeld was at the peak of the TV mountain. Jurassic Park was turning CGI cinema on its collective ear. The Montreal Canadiens won their 24th Stanley Cup, and became the answer to the trivia question: “When was the last time a Canadian team won the Cup?”
And the Toronto Blue Jays won their second World Series. The last Toronto “top four” sports franchise to even appear in a final.
Also of note, on Nov. 4 1993, the Toronto Raptors were born. They would start playing in the NBA the following year. Yesterday’s championship parade is testament to how far this franchise has come.

raptors

The Niagara Stanley Cup Connections

by Rod Mawhood

There was a definite Niagara feel to the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup victory this week.
No fewer than three former Niagara IceDogs sipped from Lord Stanley’s mug after the Blues bested the Boston Bruins in seven games with a 4-1 win Wednesday night.
Former Niagara IceDogs captain, and current St. Louis captain, Alex Pietrangelo was huge for the Blues during the post-season.

Alex Pietrangelo hoists the Stanley Cup

Big week for Myer Baseball on and off the field

by The Niagara Independent

A.N. Myer’s baseball team spent the weekend in Whitby competing for a chance to play for a medal in the provincial championships later this week.
The team, coached by Dave Buchanan, was successful in their quest to play for a medal in London on Wednesday after going 4-1 this past weekend with their only loss coming to Mount Carmel in their second game which extended over two days. Tied 4-4 the game was called due to rain and play started again the following day. Mount Carmel ended up winning 6-4 to hand Myer their only loss of the tournament.

anmyer baseball

Cory Annett to enter Fort Erie Sports Wall of Fame

by Rod Mawhood

You may remember the name Cory Annett from his Canadian Football League playing days, but did you know he was a first round, third overall, pick in the 2002 CFL Draft?
Annett remembers draft day vividly because he gathered friends and family around for what he expected would be a long day.

Former CFLer Cory Annett

Love of baseball turns into passion for golf – RBC Canadian Open

by Rod Mawhood

A lot of people want to leave work early to hit the golf course – weather permitting of course – well Dan Pino’s job is literally at the golf course.
And not just any course, but Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario. It’s one of Canada’s most famous golf courses, and the home of Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It’s hosted 30 Canadian Open’s.
And for the last almost 20 years it’s been Pino’s work place.

rbc open

High school track and field championships

by Kevin Vallier

The crack of the starter’s pistol is quickly followed by the thundering sound of high school track stars racing towards the finish line while family, teammates and coaches scream encouragement from the sidelines.
Yesterday and today more than 1,200 student athletes representing high schools from Brampton and Georgetown all the way around to Fort Erie descended on St. Catharines to compete in the South Region finals and a chance to represent themselves and their school in Guelph next week at the Ontario high school track and field championships.

track and field

From the bleachers

by Dale Horton

I wasn’t always a Blue jays fan. A native Winnipegger, I grew up in Boston in the 60’s, and became a huge Red Sox fanatic….which formulated my angst at a young age as my beloved Sox tempted and let me down more times than I could count. From Bill Buckner to Bucky “Freakin’ “ Dent, my soul was tormented year after year until 2004….glorious 2004…when the ghost of Babe Ruth was finally exorcised in perfect, sweet irony in beating the hated Yankees.
As the years went by, and the Sox started winning championships with alarming regularity, I found that my desire to support the team lessened each time they won. It was almost as if they had become the juggernaut that everyone loved to hate, rather than the New Yorkers.

Vladimir-Guerrero-Jr on bench

Athletics hoping for big things in 2019

by Rod Mawhood

There’s no doubt expectations are high for the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics in 2019.
And three games into their season the Athletics, thus far, are living up to the hype.
Coming off their best campaign in over a decade in 2018, the A’s are (3-0) to start this season, including Wednesday’s 7-4 win over the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves.

lacrosse

Welland Jackfish are hoping fans get hooked on local baseball

by Rod Mawhood

It’s been 30 years since Intercounty Baseball League action was played in the Rose City.
That all changes this Saturday at Welland Stadium.
Despite a rain out last weekend, all systems are a go for a planned home and season opening celebration Saturday at 1 p.m.

welland complex

IceDogs to play in Port

by The Niagara Independent

The Guelph Storm defeated the Ottawa 67s 8-3 to capture the Ontario Hockey League championship, the Memorial Cup, Sunday in game six of the best of seven series. For the third series in a row the Storm found themselves down two games to none and found a way to claw back and win the series. It’s the fourth time in franchise history that Guelph has won the Memorial Cup.
Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki earned the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award as OHL Playoff MVP, leading all players with a Storm franchise record 42 points (16-26–42) in 24 games.
With the OHL season just barely wrapping up, teams from across the league are already preparing for next season, including the Niagara IceDogs who yesterday announced the team will be opening their home exhibition schedule at the Vale Health and Wellness Centre in Port Colborne.

Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele (far right) welcomes Niagara IceDogs mascot Bones to Port Colborne.

Mike Strange to be inducted into Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame

by Rod Mawhood

Thirty-eight years, and counting, dedicated to the sport of boxing.
Former Canadian Olympian, and Niagara Falls native, Mike Strange can thank his neighbour for getting him to step into the ring for the first time.
Saturday night, almost two decades later, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist will enter the Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame.

mike strange

Rose City soccer star enters Welland Sports Wall of Fame

by Rod Mawhood

Simon Gatti’s soccer career spanned the globe.
Sunday afternoon at Seaway Mall that career came full circle as the current head scout for the Montreal Impact (MLS – Major League Soccer) Academy entered Welland’s Sports Wall of Fame.
“I’m honoured and privileged,” said Gatti who began playing soccer in the Rose City at the age of five, and before long was running up and down the field with players much older.

Simon Gatti

Badgers ink women’s basketball coach to three-year deal

by The Niagara Independent

Brock University has shown their confidence in women’s basketball head coach Mike Rao by signing him to a three-year deal. Rao guided the lady Badgers to their first playoff berth since 2012.
This year, Rao and the Badgers improved their win total to 11 victories and reached the OUA Critelli Cup quarter-finals.
In a statement released earlier this week, Brock’s Associate Director of Sports Emily Allan said, “Mike has done a phenomenal job with the program. He has worked tirelessly from day one to improve and build a culture of excellence.” Allan went on to add, “He is continually recruiting talented student-athletes to elevate this team, and he is producing results.”

Brock University women’s basketball head coach Mike Rao

St. Catharines pursues world rowing championship

by Kevin Vallier

The dedicated group of rowing enthusiasts that year-after-year maintain the rowing course and facilities at Henley Island in St. Catharines, organize regattas and continuously promote the sport are once again aiming to host the rowing world.
While the initial target year to host a world event was 2020 the group now has their sights set on the World Rowing Championships of 2024. Regional councillor and long-time rowing volunteer Tim Rigby said the St. Catharines group that was working on the bid for the 2020 championships realized there were just too many roadblocks getting in the way of their bid submission. Rigby said the main hurdle was a strict financial piece that FISA (the governing body for world rowing) had in place at the time.

rowing

The future arrives today

by Kevin Vallier

It’s the most anticipated arrival of any Blue Jay in the team’s history.
After Wednesday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, Jays’ skipper Charlie Montoyo finally announced what Toronto baseball fans have been waiting to hear for a long time… their most prized prospect, the number one prospect in all of baseball, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is being called up to the show.
It’s being called V-day. Ticket sales and media interest spiked both in Canada and south of the border when news broke of Vladdy’s call-up. Guerrero’s Buffalo Bisons teammate and highly ranked prospect in his own right, Bo Bichette, tweeted out Wednesday night, “You’ve become like a brother to me and I can’t wait to watch you play. Wayyyyyy overdue. Yo te amo.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Three former Thorold Blackhawks, one former Niagara IceDog, capture EIHL

by Rod Mawhood

There was a definite Thorold Blackhawks and Niagara IceDogs feel to the Cardiff Devils this season.
And that Niagara connection was a big reason why the Devils were crowned Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) champions.
Joey Martin, and Sean Bentivoglio – both of Thorold – and Mike Hedden of Dunnville all played on a line together as Cardiff beat Belfast 2-1 in the championship game last Sunday.
“They say the hockey world is small, and this kind of proves it,” said Martin who recently joined the Niagara Sports Report on 610 CKTB.

Joey Martin with EIHL championship trophy

Grimsby Peach Kings after another Schmalz Cup

by Rod Mawhood

There’s no denying that the Grimsby Peach Kings are one of the most successful teams in Ontario junior C hockey history.
In fact, only one team has won more Schmalz Cup’s than the Peach Kings at five. The Essex 73’s with seven.
Friday night a quest for a sixth championship begins for Grimsby when they travel to Napanee to take on the Raiders in game one of the best of seven series final.

peach kings

Frank Pietrangelo had one goal this season – get to the Sutherland Cup.
Sixty-three games later, he’s closer than he’s ever been as head coach of the Niagara Falls Canucks.
The Canucks, now seated as the second seed, open a best of seven Ontario Hockey Association semi-final series against the Waterloo Siskins tonight at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls.
The Canucks haven’t been to the Sutherland Cup finals since 2011.

niagara falls canucks

Five Niagara natives drafted into the OHL

by Rod Mawhood

Saturday was a big day for five Niagara hockey players and their families.
The 2019 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection was held and four players from the Niagara North Stars organization and one from the Southern Tier Admirals were drafted.
Connor Federkow was the first local to have his named called as the London Knights drafted the St. Catharines native in the third round, 53rd overall.

Matteo Giampa of the Niagara North Stars

Playoff rivalry continues with IceDogs vs Generals

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs will take on the Oshawa Generals in the second round of OHL playoff action. It’s almost becoming a spring tradition. For the sixth time since 2011, the Niagara IceDogs and Oshawa Generals will face each other in Ontario Hockey League playoff action. This time it’s in the OHL Eastern Conference semi-finals which […]

The Niagara IceDogs will take on the Oshawa Generals in the second round of OHL playoff action.

Buffalo Bisons baseball – the tradition continues

by Rod Mawhood

It may have a new name in 2019 but the product it houses is still the same – a great baseball experience.
Buffalo Bisons baseball inside what is now called Sahlen Field.
In fact, professional baseball in Buffalo dates back to 1877. The current Bisons were born in 1979 when the then-Eastern League AA team was formed in the city.

sahlen field

River Lions roster takes shape

by The Niagara Independent

The Niagara River Lions recently announced their thirteen selections in the 2019 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Entry Draft, including Canadian National Team member, Kaza Kajami- Keane as first regional round pick, followed by Kassius Robertson, Guillaume Payen Boucard and Tyrone Watson.
“I’m excited for the Niagara region to watch Kaza Kajami-Keane and Kassius Robertson play,” said Head Coach and General Manager, Victor Raso. “They are two young professionals with a lot of potential who will make our country proud.”

riverlions

Brock women’s curling captures silver at nationals

by Stephen Leithwood

They don’t call them ‘Team Resilient’ for nothing.
The Brock University’s women’s curling team proved why they’ve earned the moniker by securing a silver medal at the national university curling championships Tuesday.
This is the second consecutive year the women’s squad brought home a medal from the U SPORTS Curling Championships, this time held at Willie O’Ree Place in Fredericton, N.B.
“Our women’s team has been nicknamed ‘Team Resilient’ and they remained supportive of each other throughout the game and the season,” said head coach Murray Etherington. “I am extremely proud of the women’s efforts and competitive display today.”

brock curling

IceDogs win Central Division – open playoffs Thursday night at home

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs capped off a very successful regular season with a number of milestones as they now prepare for what many are predicting to be a long playoff run.
Firstly, they claimed the Ontario Hockey League Central Division crown for the first time (and second time in Niagara IceDogs history) since 2012.
Secondly, the club also featured three 100-point scorers as Jason Robertson won the OHL scoring title with 117 points, including 79 in just 38 games since coming to Niagara in a trade with Kingston last November.

icedogs playoffs

GOJHL Golden Horseshoe Conference semi-finals begin tonight

by Rod Mawhood

There was not much suspense in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – quarter-finals, but that will likely change in the semi-finals which begin tonight on two fronts.
Three of the four teams in the semis advanced with four-game sweeps in their opening round playoff series.
The top seeded Niagara Falls Canucks swept Lockport, second ranked St. Catharines toppled Welland in four straight games, while number three Hamilton got by Fort Erie in four as well.

Niagara Falls goalie Zachary Moore will look to backstop the top-seeded Canucks through the semi-finals against Pelham.       

Falls native signs with Leafs

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Falls native Mac Hollowell has done what many budding young Niagara hockey players dream about, sign a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 20-year-old, the 5.10, 163-lb defenceman who currently leads all Ontario Hockey League defencemen in goals (23) and points (73) with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, signed a three-year future entry-level contract. In 254 regular season games over five OHL seasons with the Greyhounds, Hollowell has collected 178 points (41 goals, 137 assists) while recording 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in 47 playoff games.

Mac Hollowell has signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs

Olympic hopefuls will be put to the test in Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

Young athletes from around the region who have aspirations of being an Olympian, will be put to the test this weekend as Brock University plays host to an Olympic combine talent search.
The first stop for RBC Training Ground in Ontario will be tomorrow at the university’s Sports Performance Centre.
Training Ground aims to provide amateur athletes a chance to compete in Canada’s Olympic pool. It’s the third time the combine will be held in Niagara.

olympic training

Fergie Jenkins on his new book and St. Catharines based foundation

by Rod Mawhood

How many people can honestly say they knew the first Canadian ever to win a Cy Young award has a connection to St. Catharines?

Thought so.

Ferguson Jenkin’s Foundation is alive and well, and is indeed located in the Garden City.

The 76-year old Chatham, Ontario native now calls Arizona home, but recently told the Niagara Sports Report on 610 CKTB how the foundation formed in St. Catharines.

fergie jenkins

Powerhouse Ravens end Badgers’ season

by The Niagara Independent

Probably the greatest Canadian university sports program continues its roll, this time right over the Brock Badgers.
The Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team nearly doubled up on the Badgers Wednesday night in the nation’s capital with a 86-44 victory in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinals. The Badgers, who had a strong season with an overall record of 18-9 were simply no match for the powerhouse program at Carleton. Brock could only manage 25 first half points while the Ravens poured in 44. Carleton never let up outscoring the Badgers 24 to nine in the final quarter. The Badgers shot 27.8 per cent from the field compared to Carleton’s 46 per cent.

Brock's Tyler Brown (left) defends Troy Reid-Knight of the Carleton Ravens during the OUA semifinals in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Swimming is his life

by The Niagara Independent

Swimming isn’t just what Gokhan Bozyigit does for fun, or for the thrill of competing. It’s who he is.
Swimming is what brought Bozyigit to Canada, and specifically to Brock University, from his native Turkey. The sport is also what has given him clear career goals, both as an athlete and as a coach.
“Without swimming I am pretty sure I would have never thought about coming to Canada,” he said. “All I can say is swimming is my whole life. It is a part of who I am and without it I would be lost.”

Brock swimmer Gokhan Bozyigit recently competed in the national championships this past weekend.

The Merritton /Wissahickon hockey exchange is one for the record books

by Rod Mawhood

Fifty-five years and counting.
Although not officially declared, the Merritton Athletic Association/Wissahickon Skating Club hockey exchange is the longest tenured exchange in North America if not the world.
What begin in 1964 has become an annual event every February featuring two teams from both organizations – in the peewee and bantam age group – travelling to each other’s home rinks and playing a weekend of hockey which features an exhibition game, championship game, banquet and all the life lessons and friendships one can imagine.

merriton hockey

Brock Men win Silver and Women take Bronze at OUA curling championships

by Kevin Vallier

Brock University will be sending both its men’s and women’s curling teams east to the national championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick with impressive performances this past weekend at the Ontario finals.
“I’m very proud of our Varsity men and women for working so hard all year and achieving the goal of medalling at OUAs and reaching USport Nationals. Our entire curling program, from our developmental teams to our coaching staff and support people, share in our success,” said head coach Murray Etherington.

brock curling

Ken Murray’s path into the Ontario Basketball Hall of Fame a unique one

by Rod Mawhood

His resume speaks for itself.
And Monday night, fittingly on a basketball court, Ken Murray was inducted into the Ontario Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Brock Badgers legend was officially recognized at centre court Monday night at Scotiabank Arena when the Toronto Raptors hosted the Brooklyn Nets.

Ken Murray recognized at Monday night’s Toronto Raptors game.

Niagara College to host women’s volleyball national championships

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara College (NC) is set to host the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Volleyball Championship.

The event will see the top eight women’s volleyball teams from colleges across Canada face off at NC’s Welland Campus Athletic Centre next month from March 6th to the 9th.

Fred Batley, CCAA Women’s Volleyball Convenor said, “With world-class athletic facilities and the Niagara area hospitality and attractions, the student-athletes, coaches and spectators will be in for an amazing and exciting National Championship.”

knights volleyball

Swiss forward may be the best European player ever drafted by the IceDogs

by Rod Mawhood

It’s one thing to come to a new country and visit, but it’s a whole other level when you move to Canada to play hockey and everything that comes with that.
New food. New culture. Billets. New teammates.
The list goes on and on.
Enter Swiss native, and Niagara IceDogs forward, Kyen Sopa.

Kyen Sopa

Summer games leadership heads west

by Kevin Vallier

In just two weeks from today Red Deer, Alberta will kick-off the 2019 Canada Winter Games. At those games will be a contingent of Niagara representatives observing, asking questions and taking note of how to successfully run a national sporting event.
Doug Hamilton, chair of the 2021 Host Society Board of Directors, says there will be three groups heading to Red Deer at three different times. Ten Niagara representatives will be making the trip west in two weeks for the opening ceremonies while another group of similar numbers heads to Red Deer mid-games and the last group of 10 to 12 people will book their flight for the closing ceremonies.

summer games

River Lions name Victor Raso Head Coach and General Manager

by Rod Mawhood

When one of the top names in the history of Canada Basketball endorses you, you know the Niagara River Lions made the right choice in naming Victor Raso as their new Head Coach and General Manager earlier this week.
“He’s been around the game his entire life, and this is the next step,” said Canadian national team head coach and current NBA – Charlotte Hornets – assistant coach Jay Triano.
“He has the attitude of a coach and isn’t afraid to keep learning.”

raso

Brock Curlers in the Mix at Canadian Junior Championships

by The Niagara Independent

Two of Brock University’s curlers, women’s varsity team third Jessica Humphries and freshman men’s varsity team skip Sam Steep, have won the junior provincial championships and are currently competing for their respective teams at the New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Prince Albert, SK.
Steep, a first-year recreation student at Brock, spent his holidays leading his hometown rink to the Ontario U21 championships title in Ajax.

curling

Niagara to host Canadian wrestling trials

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara will be hosting another national sporting event. This time the sport is wrestling.
Wrestling Canada Lutte, the 2021 Canada Games Host Society, and the Brock Wrestling Club will host the Canadian Wrestling Trials in December of 2019.
The trials will serve as a selection event for the opportunity to represent Canada at international qualifying events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Niagara has a strong history of wrestling and has developed significant wrestling talent that has gone on to represent Canada successfully in numerous competitions around the world.

wrestling

Pelham hosts successful silver stick

by Jennifer Chornley

Pelham Minor Hockey Association hosted its final Silver Stick tournament event of the 2018-19 season with the International Silver Stick Finals.
From January 10 to 13, Pelham and surrounding communities throughout Niagara hosted 99 participating teams from Canada and the United States.
To kick-off the association’s 20th annual event, this year’s opening ceremonies were held on January 10 at the community centre. The celebrations commenced with a Parade of Champions of the 99 teams, and a welcoming speech from Mayor Marvin Junkin on behalf of the Town.

Pelham Minor Hockey Association hosted its final Silver Stick tournament

Curlers earn berth to provincial finals

by The Niagara Independent

Some of the top female curlers in Ontario put their skills on display at the Niagara Falls Curling Club this past weekend. Up for grabs was the two remaining spots to compete in the provincial finals and a chance to play in the Scottie’s national women’s championship.

Six teams from around the province have already secured a berth to the provincial championships. In total, eight teams play in the Ontario final, leaving just two spots remaining. “It was very high calibre curling,” said Niagara Falls Curling Club general manager Bob Garvin.

Chelsea Brandwood

IceDogs ALL IN this season

by Rod Mawhood

If there was any doubt about the Niagara IceDogs intentions this season, they were put to bed this week.
The IceDogs acquired two more National Hockey League drafted players giving them a total of nine on their 21-man roster.
General Manager Joey Burke’s latest deal involved a trade with Oshawa Generals.

Studnicka

Brock hockey teams making a push to playoffs

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers men’s and women’s hockey programs enjoyed a strong first half to the OUA season and have begun the second half equally as impressive.

The men’s hockey team climbed into the national rankings a handful of times during the first half of the campaign. They roared out of the gate with four consecutive wins and currently sit with one of the lowest goals against in the league.

This past Saturday Brock was back in action as Ayden MacDonald scored the game-winning goal and the Brock Badgers slipped by the York Lions 4-3 on the road. The Badgers have now won four consecutive games.

“We had a great third period to find a way to win.” said head coach Marty Williamson.

brock goalie

Not to be: Canada loses in World Junior Quarter Final

by Kevin Vallier

Canadian world junior teams have never failed to medal when the tournament was held in Canada, until now. Wednesday night in Vancouver, in a stunning and bizarre late turn of events, Canada was knocked out of this year’s tournament by Finland, losing 2-1 in overtime.
The game was a defensive struggle as both teams played things tight. Both goalies, Mikey DiPietro for Canada who made 32 stops and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for Finland who made 24, played brilliantly.
After a scoreless first period, Canada opened the scoring early in the second when Barrett Hayton carried the puck into the Finland zone dishing off to defenceman Ian Mitchell joining the rush. Mitchell shot a laser over the left glove hand of Luukkonen.

Canada Juniors lose

Pair of Niagara IceDogs playing at World Juniors

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs are well represented at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship.
No fewer than three IceDogs were named to their respective countries teams.
Forward Jason Robertson is playing for Team USA, defenseman Daniel Bukac for the Czech Republic, while Kyen Sopa did make the Swiss team but was sent back to Niagara after sustaining a minor injury during training camp.

jason robertson

Team Canada win first two as expected

by The Niagara Independent

Gold medal defenders usually get a good draw in the following years tournament and this year in Vancouver proved no different for Team Canada.  Canada started the tournament with an overwhelming defeat of an overmatched Denmark squad.  In the 14-0 affair, 18 of Canada’s 20 skaters hit the scoresheet.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds centre Morgan Frost led early on with a quick hat trick.  He ended the game with 3 goals and two assists.  Max Comtois, expected to lead this team in all aspects, didn’t disappoint as he followed up Frost’s hot start with four goals of his own.  His linemate, the very slick centre Cody Glass, had four helpers.  Evan Bouchard led the backend with three assists of his own.

While he didn’t face many shots, just 14 in all, starting goalie Mike DiPietro was perfect throughout the night pitching the shutout.  “It was a game where I made as many saves as our team had goals, it was crazy”, said DiPietro.

hockey canada

World Juniors 2019: Checking out Canada’s Competition

by The Niagara Independent

As usual, this year Canada is expected to face its stiffest competition from Russia in Group A. Group B has three teams that are all highly competitive; Sweden, Finland and the U.S.A. Here’s a look at each of these four teams.

canada denmark

World Junior Hockey: Team Canada Preview

by Kevin Vallier

The holiday season brings Canadians the gift of what has become the country’s favourite annual sporting event: The World Juniors. The tournament this year will be played in Victoria and Vancouver. Canada is in Pool A with Denmark, Switzerland, Russia and the Czech Republic. As usual, Canada kicks off its tournament play on boxing day when they face off against Denmark at 8 pm eastern. That will be followed by an 8 pm game on the 27th against Switzerland and a game on the 29th against the Czech Republic. The New Years eve game will feature Canada vs. Russia.
Canada’s team is made up of nine players from the OHL, six players from the WHL, five from the QMJHL, and two from the NCAA. The team is coached by former Calgary Flame Tim Hunter.
The Canadian team features from the 2017 NHL draft, five first round picks, five second rounders, two third rounders and two fourth round picks. From the 2018 NHL draft the Canadian team carries five first round picks and one second round pick. The team is rounded out with a 2019 draft eligible player and a 2020 draft eligible player in 17-year old Alexis Lafreniere from the QMJHL.

Women’s hockey wall of fame to be unveiled

by Kevin Vallier

For the first time in Niagara an all female hockey wall of fame will be permanently on display. On Saturday at 4 p.m. inside the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre, the St. Catharines Female Hockey Association (SCFHA) will unveil the women’s hockey wall of fame at a special ceremony.

The event will be the highlight of what is being called “Jr. Badger Day”. The SFHA’s teams are known as the Jr. Badgers and have an affiliation with the Brock University women’s hockey team.

SCFHA board president, Sue Guarasci said Saturday will be an exciting day for everyone involved. “As the president of SCFHA Brock Jr. Badgers this is a very proud day for our organization as we recognize these elite athletes and their outstanding careers and accomplishments in women’s hockey.  It’s exciting that these players found their love for the game of hockey right here with our association and they were able to take that on to higher levels.”

IceDogs enter the holiday break on a high

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara IceDogs entered the holiday break as one of the hottest teams in the Ontario Hockey League.
The IceDogs picked up 15 of a possible 16 points over their last eight games to close out the unofficial first half of the season sporting a (20-7-5) overall record in the OHL Eastern Conference standings.
And they did that without icing a complete line-up for the majority of their first 32 games.
In fact, only five Niagara players have suited up for every game thus far this season.
“Yes, we’re very happy where we are at,” said IceDogs head coach Billy Burke. “We have dealt with adversity and injuries all year and to finish with 20 wins and only seven regulation losses is a great accomplishment.”

Ridley Tiger set to represent Team Canada

by Rod Mawhood

It was the best Christmas present a hockey player could receive.
A call saying “you made the team.”
And not just any team, but Team Canada.
That was the case for 18-year old Shailynn Snow of the Ridley College Tigers Prep Girls hockey team earlier this week.
“Once I hung up the phone after hearing from the Team Canada assistant coach (Courtney Kessel) all my emotions escaped and I started crying and couldn’t stop,” Snow said.

Niagara-on-the-Lake minor soccer is small but mighty

by Kevin Vallier

With schools closing and the town’s population filling up with Toronto retirees, it’s impressive that Niagara-on-the-Lakes youth soccer program continues to hold steady with its registration numbers.  Last year close to 400 kids, 80 of them first time participants, signed up to play the beautiful game in the historic town. The number of participants has held steady for the better part of a decade according to club President, Ted Vanderkaay.

“It’s always a challenge for minor sports organizations to maintain participation numbers in a town that’s primarily a retirement community. There just aren’t a lot of kids,” said Vanderkaay. The organization, which has kids in all age groups from four year olds to 18, has a few things going for it that contributes positively to the stead enrollment numbers. One of them is there technical director Matt Hahn. “He’s a great resource for all of our coaches,” said Vanderkaay. Hahn, who also coaches the girls travel team, will also come out to other teams’ practices and observe and provide feedback to the coaches, many of whom are volunteers who may not have an extensive soccer background either as a player or a coach. He also runs coaching clinics throughout the year. “It helps us ensure that as best as possible the kids are receiving consistent coaching and learning the proper skills to improve their game,” explained Vanderkaay. “We strive for uniform development throughout our system.”

Badgers bring Christmas cheer to kids in hospital

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock men’s hockey team had an experience so heartwarming Wednesday it could melt the ice they normally play on.
The Badgers paid a visit to the Children’s Health Unit at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines site, on a mission to bring holiday cheer to the little ones inside.
Head coach Marty Williamson accompanied forwards Jared Marino (Niagara Falls), Ryan Burton (Thunder Bay), Frankie Pucci (Sault Ste. Marie), Ayden MacDonald (Langley, B.C.) and defenceman Connor Walters (Welland) as they went room to room while handing out high-fives, Brock apparel and water bottles, but more importantly, spending time visiting with children.

The surprising, and surging, Buffalo Sabres

by The Niagara Independent

No one.

Not a single person could have predicted this.

From worst to first, started from the bottom – however you want to word it – the Buffalo Sabres are for real.

In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau the Sabres are the first team ever to finish the previous season with the worst record and then lead the National Hockey League outright in points after 25 games.

Impressive to say the least.

So what’s been the difference?

First and foremost, it starts in goal with Carter Hutton. Hutton has played like a number one goaltender, and his leadership off the ice has definitely made a difference in the Buffalo dressing room.

IceDogs wheel and deal in go for it year

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs have made no bones about it – the 2018-19 season is a go-for-it year.
That was the message since day one of training camp, and it was solidified last week as IceDogs general manager Joey Burke pulled off a huge trade with the Kingston Frontenacs.
Burke dealt sophomore defenceman Billy Constantinou and second year forward Ian Martin, along with 11 draft picks, to the Frontenacs for a pair of 19-year olds in winger Jason Robertson and blue liner Jacob Paquette.

Niagara athletes to compete in upcoming national championship

by Nicholas Tibollo

On Saturday, Canada’s two best collegiate football squads will square off in a rematch of last year’s Vanier Cup.

In 2017’s national championship, the Western Mustangs defeated the Laval Rouge et Or 39-17.

Since last November’s contest, both teams have gone undefeated, dominating their respective conferences.

The defending champions will look to once again overwhelm the perennial powerhouse Rouge et Or on offence; this time, though, in front of what will be a hostile Quebec City crowd.

Saint Paul Patriots to battle in provincial football final

by Kevin Vallier

The Saint Paul Patriots high school football team from Niagara Falls is headed to Ottawa next Monday for a one game championship showdown with the Lorne Park Spartans from Mississauga.
After a somewhat surprising playoff run that saw them defeat A.N. Myer and then Hamilton Westmount, the Patriots find themselves in a position to win the Golden Horseshoe Bowl in the nation’s capital Tuesday morning. Head coach Rick Oreskovich said the key to the team’s success is not looking too far ahead. “We’re the kind of team that does it play by play and handles the challenge in front of us.”
The Patriots, who lost to the Spartans in an exhibition game back in mid-September, know they will have to be better this time around. “The team we’re playing is one of the top teams in the province and when we played them in that exhibition game, they handled us,” said Oreskovich. But he added: “They were ready and we weren’t.” Oreskovich said the Spartans’ quarterback is: “a big, strong kid and he’ll be a handful.”

Canucks and Falcons the class of the local Junior B hockey loop

by Rod Mawhood

As the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) season approaches the midway mark, it’s become quite clear that the Golden Horseshoe Conference could come down to two local teams.

Both the Niagara Falls Canucks and St. Catharines Falcons are beginning to separate from the rest of the pack in the eight-team division.

The Canucks began the week as the top team with an (18-2-1) record and 37 points, with the Falcons nipping at their heels just six points behind with two games in hand at (15-3-1) at 35.

Hockey stars of Niagara’s north

by Kevin Vallier

Running one of the top AAA hockey organizations in the province can be like a full-time job, but for Niagara North Stars President Paul Allan the success on and off the ice is worth every minute.

The organization recently hosted its first tournament, sponsored by Front Row Sports, for Atom and Peewee divisions. It’s been a long time since St. Catharines has hosted a AAA (the highest level in minor hockey) tournament, so Allan and his board decided to explore the idea of hosting one a couple of years ago.

“The big thing was finding that sweet spot where it was on a weekend with less tournament competition and then working with the city to get enough ice time,” explained Allan. “In order to have enough time to market the tournament properly to other teams, we needed to secure the ice well in advance which meant putting a proposal together and presenting it to city council.” The plan was approved and the result was a very successful first year tournament with 32 teams and over 500 families.

Marauders vs. Patriots in Niagara High School Football Championship

by Anne-Marie Iemmolo

After a rough start to the season, St. Paul has bounced back. After winning the Niagara Catholic championships, St. Paul will be playing in the Niagara regional high school championship this Wednesday evening. After a slow start and losing its first two games, St. Paul was beginning to lose hope for a successful season. The group, however, was able to bounce back with a strong winning streak. The team advanced to the playoffs and won its championship game last Friday night with an impressive 27-7 score.

St. Paul’s opponent, Notre Dame, was heavily favoured to win the game. According to the Canada Football Chat, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were ranked 28th out of all high schools in Canada. After beating the Fighting Irish, St. Paul now has the chance to win the region. It all comes down to Wednesday night’s game, where the last two standing teams will battle it out on Kiwanis Field in St. Catharines.

Women’s Rugby Player earns National Community Service Award

by The Niagara Independent

U SPORTS recently presented Brock University women’s rugby player, Katelyn Heyens, with the Student-Athlete Community Service Award during the annual women’s rugby All-Canadian gala in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

“I am honoured to receive this award and am incredibly humbled by it. However, this was a team effort. I would not be here if it wasn’t for the support from all the amazing people in my life,” said Heyens. “I am truly thankful for all the people who have encouraged me to get involved, and for all those who have helped me grow as an athlete and individual over that last few years.”

Last month, the OUA also awarded Heyens the Russell Division Community Service Award.

IceDogs sitting where they want at quarter-pole of season

by Rod Mawhood

Seventeen games into their 2018-19 campaign is exactly the quarter-pole for the Niagara IceDogs and their 68 game Ontario Hockey League schedule.
And sitting at (10-5-2-0) – good for first place in the OHL Central Division standings and second overall in the Eastern Conference – head coach Billy Burke is happy with where his team is situated.
Burke is especially pleased, and pleasantly surprised, with three young blueliners, including a pair of rookies who had to step up their games when Liam Ham, Drew Hunter and Elijah Roberts missed a total of 34 man games to injury.

Niagara’s high school football champions to be crowned tonight

by Anne-Marie Iemmolo

As the playoffs come to a close, championship games begin today at the A.N. Myer football field. The senior boys matchup features the A.N. Myer Marauders who went undefeated, taking on the Westlane Spartans. The Marauders have been the only team to defeat Westlane this season. This has become the Spartans driving force to defeat the Marauders and continue to the provincial championships. As for the juniors, A.N. Myer has also reached the championships. They will take on the Greater Fort Erie squad in Fort Erie.

The Fort Erie Gryphons have a talented group of players that went undefeated this season. The Marauders also had a successful season. The Gryphons were the only team to defeat the Myer boys. The final score of that contest was 34-22 and no doubt will set the tone for tonight’s championship contest. The Marauders are looking to redeem themselves as they may have lost the battle but hope to win the war and hoist the championship trophy. Both teams have worked hard all week in practice in preparation for tonight’s rematch.

Name and logo unveiled for new Welland Baseball Team

by Kevin Vallier

The new Intercounty Baseball League team that will call Welland home for the upcoming season officially has a new name and look. The Welland Baseball Club announced the Jackfish as the new name for the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) team. The name represents the city of Welland fishing past time along with the river that is home to the northern pike, also called jackfish.
Team officials also unveiled the colors and uniforms during a news conference at Welland Stadium, which will serve as home field for the new team. Officials on hand for the team announcement included Welland Jackfish Majority Owner and CEO, Ryan Harrison, local Welland Owners Brent Coulombe and Mike Konderka and Intercounty Baseball League Commissioner John Kastner.

Playoff time in high school football

by Anne-Marie Iemmolo

As the regular football season comes to a close, teams across the region have begun preparing for the upcoming playoffs. The post-season began last Wednesday at Westlane secondary school. Their senior boys team won their first playoff game of the season against Greater Fort Erie. Westlane will advance and play the winner of the A.N. Myer versus Churchill game. In the junior division, the Myer Marauders have played against the Welland Centennial Cougars while the Westlane juniors played against Fort Erie. Preparation for upcoming games has been intense, both players and coaches are hard at work in hopes that they are victorious in the playoffs. All teams have the same goal in mind; win the championship.

Myers’ Junior boys team have had a solid season, with three wins and one loss in the regular season. The Centennial Cougars have won two games and suffered two losses. The Cougars have been hard at work to prepare for the semi-final game. The team has been putting in lots of effort during practices. They hope they will see their hard work pay off as the season comes to a close. “In our first game against Myer, we had a few blown tackles and those, unfortunately, went for touchdowns,” says Brad Barter coach of the Cougars team. Barter has worked hard to get his troops prepared for the playoffs; practices have become more intense in preparations for big games.

Ham returns to IceDogs lineup

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara IceDogs goalie Stephen Dhillon keeps an eye on the play while wearing his superhero jersey Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd versus the Windsor Spitfires. Not even a stretch of home cooked meals or an arena full of superheroes could help the IceDogs secure the maximum number of points over a rare, […]

Marauders versus Gryphons; A rivalry in the making

by Anne-Marie Iemmolo

Tonight at 7 p.m., the A.N. Myer Marauders senior boys’ football team will travel to Fort Erie to play against the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons. This highly anticipated game will conclude the regular season for both teams with playoff implications at stake. With over 200 points scored and only six points given up, the Marauders are favoured to win this Friday night’s game. However, the Gryphons have defeated the Marauders in the past. Two years ago the Gryphons were able to keep a tight defense and defeat the Marauders, knocking them out of the playoffs. Both teams have had a good week of practice and are ready to play under the Friday night lights.

Head coach and offensive coordinator, Dave Buchanan, has prepared his team to face their rivals. Despite Myer handedly defeating their opponents this year, Buchanan is keeping the team level-headed and focusing on improving their skills on the field. The team is led by senior quarterback Ryan James who credits this year’s success to focusing more on conditioning and strength training. His strong throwing arm gives Myer a formidable passing game. On the receiving end of his throws are wide receivers Winfield Organ and Dallas Bone. The two senior boys give valued experience to the offense and continue to stay focused on the game. Myer also has a strong ground attack lead by running back, Jeremiah Nyambiya. Nyambiya says “play hard, practice hard”, this is how he has remained successful throughout the season.

Friday Night Lights is back in Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

Last Friday night at A.N. Myer’s new turf sports field, 300 people braved the cold to sit under the lights and watch a heavily favoured Myer senior football team handily defeat visiting Grimsby Secondary.

It was eight degrees but felt like four. The grandstand was jammed; the cheerleaders were dressed for warmth but braved the elements to cheer on their home team. The home team delivered, ultimately winning handily over an overmatched Grimsby team.

Brock Men’s hockey begin Quest for Queen’s Cup

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers men’s hockey team is looking to build off last season’s impressive playoff run when they open their season at home tonight. The Badgers will host the York Lions at 7:15 p.m. at the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre.
Brock is coming off a successful season where they posted a record of 14-9-5 and upset Guelph, York and Laurier in the playoffs. They reached the U SPORTS National Championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick, but were eliminated in the first round.

Welland hoping for homerun with the return of minor league baseball

by Kevin Vallier

The City of Welland recently announced a three-year contract that will bring an elite minor league baseball team to Welland. The new franchise, yet to be named, will play in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) beginning in the 2019 season.
For the first time in Niagara, an IBL team will play at the city’s 2,500 seat Welland Stadium and showcase Minor League Baseball. The official announcement was made last week by Welland Baseball’s Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Harrison who explained that the league’s Burlington team is relocating to the Rose City and calling the Welland Stadium home.

Girls hockey continues to rise around the world and at home

by Kevin Vallier

Across the globe female hockey players, coaches, referees and volunteers are celebrating World Girls Hockey Weekend. The female game continues to grow both among young girls as well as adults who are playing the game they love longer along with women who are picking up the game for the first time. Hockey Canada is celebrating girl’s hockey across the country this weekend and here in Niagara, local organizations are as well. Locally, the St. Catharines Female Hockey Association, known as the Jr. Badgers, had several teams represented at last night’s Niagara IceDogs game.

The growth and respect of the female game can be seen on a number of fronts. While most international competitions still come down to a gold medal showdown between Canada and the United States, the round robin games against other nations are far more competitive than they used to be. Added to that are the number of former Canadian national team members who are now respected commentators in the media as well as the recent hiring of the top player in women’s hockey history, Haley Wickenheiser, by the Toronto Maple Leafs as their new assistant director of player development.

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