Buffalo Sabres trying to reconnect with their fans in the Niagara Region…

by Rod Mawhood

Matt Ellis former Sabres player, current Assistant Coach and Welland native on the ice for practice. Photo: Facebook/Buffalo Sabres   The Buffalo Sabres have a longstanding connection with the Niagara Region. Despite many Toronto Maple Leafs calling Niagara home, the Sabres have a larger season-ticket base from the Region and are obviously closer geographically. Over […]

Welland Jackfish to Host 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown

by Rod Mawhood

Welland Jackfish Announce 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown: Expect Unprecedented Entertainment and Thrills. Photo Credit: Facebook/Welland Jackfish   Welland Jackfish to Host 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown Fresh off their 2023 Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) Championship season, the Welland Jackfish have been awarded the 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown. The event in the Rose City will be the […]

Canada’s Men’s National Basketball Team to hoop it up in St. Catharines

by Rod Mawhood

Canada Basketball and the CEBL Niagara River Lions team up. Photo Credit: Facebook/InvestinSTC   Canada Basketball, in partnership with the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), has announced that the Senior Men’s National Team will return home in February to St. Catharines as Canada opens the FIBA Men’s AmeriCup 2025 Qualifiers. Canada will face Nicaragua on […]

St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame welcomes five new members this week

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame to honour five new inductees at a free event in Meridian Centre on Wednesday. Photo Credit: City of Catharines   Free event at Meridian Centre takes place Wednesday The St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame will enshrine five new inductees Wednesday night inside its home at the Meridian Centre […]

Pelham native relishes World Series victory

by Rod Mawhood

Former Brock Badger and Welland Jackfish Player, Ryan Bench, celebrates World Series victory with the Texas Rangers after a remarkable journey. Photo Supplied   Ryan Bench is a former Brock Badger and Welland Jackfish It all started for Ryan Bench in January of 2022. Some 22 months later, the Pelham native and former Brock Badger […]

NFL regular season officially reaches halfway mark

by Rod Mawhood

Photo Credit: Facebook/Buffalo Bills   As of today if anyone tells you they know who’ll win the Super Bowl, simply put they’re lying. If there’s one thing we’ve learned after nine weeks of the National Football League (NFL) regular season it’s that parity reigns supreme. We’re officially at the halfway mark, and there are no […]

CFL playoffs kick off Saturday

by Rod Mawhood

CFL players make their 2023 Grey Cup predictions, leaning toward Winnipeg vs. Toronto in the Grey Cup. Photo Credit: Facebook/CFL   Two local kickers break it all down The calendar has officially flipped to November, which means one thing when it comes to football on this side of the border – It’s Canadian Football League […]

Happenchance leads to rowing scholarship

by Rod Mawhood

From basketball dreams to rowing Success: Grimsby’s Michael Gore earns scholarship at Syracuse University. Photo supplied by the Gore family.   Grimsby’s Michael Gore is Syracuse bound Something he originally said he “didn’t want to go to” has paid off big-time for Grimsby’s Michael Gore. “It’s definitely been a whirlwind of events over the past […]

A grand repeat?

by Rod Mawhood

Local curling fans sure hope the Grand Slam of Curling returns to Niagara Falls. Pictured: Canada’s Team Jones celebrates its victory in the women’s final. Photo credit: Grand Slam of Curling/Anil Mungal   Local curling fans roared in unison when Jennifer Jones won her 10th Grand Slam of Curling event Sunday at the Gale Centre […]

Grand Slam of Curling living up to the hype

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara Falls event features curlers from across the globe. Photo credit: Bruno Campagiorni    Driving through the parking lot of the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls says it all.  License plates from Quebec, Manitoba, Alaska, Oregon – and that’s just the curling fans that have driven to this week’s Hearing Life Grand Slam of Curling. […]

Curling world will call Niagara Falls home this week

by Rod Mawhood

Over 200 of the world’s best curlers slide into the Gale Centre, including Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher (pictured). Photo credit: Grand Slam of Curling/Anil Mungal   It all begins today, and will run until Sunday. The Grand Slam of Curling season, featuring the world’s top curlers, take to the ice at the Gale Centre in Niagara […]

Puck has dropped on NHL regular season

by Rod Mawhood

Every Canadian team has hit the ice in 2023. Photo credit: Twitter/Toronto Maple Leafs   If Wednesday night’s home and season opener was any indication, Toronto Maple Leafs fans could be in for another roller-coaster season.  The Maple Leafs battled back to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-5 in a shootout.  Sure, Auston Matthews notched the […]

The skinny on new NHLPA head Marty Walsh

by Dave Redekop

Most fans’ interest remains on the ice at the start of a new NHL season. Nonetheless, some off-ice developments include the appointment of a new NHLPA head. Photo credit: NHLPA   Earlier this year, Marty Walsh took the reins as executive director of the NHL’s players’ union. Walsh, whose last job found him a member […]

Zac Rinaldo hangs up his skates for a clipboard

by Rod Mawhood

Former NHLer is now head coach of the Pelham Panthers. Photo credit: Sportsnet   His National Hockey League (NHL) playing career spanned five different organizations, over 393 games, and didn’t end until the 2020-21 season when he hung up his skates after playing with the Calgary Flames.  Zac Rinaldo’s NHL playing days began in Philadelphia […]

Many questions surround Blue Jays early playoff exit

by Rod Mawhood

Toronto scored a mere one run across 18 innings versus Minnesota. Photo credit: AP/Abbie Parr   The aftermath of the Toronto Blue Jays playoff exit will likely be felt for weeks, if not in the months ahead.  The Blue Jays scored one measly run in 18 innings against the Minnesota Twins, who swept the best […]

Blue Jays Wild Card Playoff run begins Tuesday

by Rod Mawhood

Jays set to take on the Minnesota Twins. Kevin Gausman starts game 1 for Toronto. Photo credit: Getty Images/Cole Burston   It took 161 of their 162-game schedule to qualify for the postseason, but the Toronto Blue Jays will try to win their first playoff game since 2016 when they begin a best of three-game […]

Niagara IceDogs regular season begins Friday night

by Rod Mawhood

Twelve new players make up the IceDogs roster. Photo credit: Meridian Centre   Puck drop on the Niagara IceDogs 2023-24 season happens Friday evening in London. A night later, the IceDogs welcome the perennial powerhouse Knights back to Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines to complete the home and home. It’s certainly not an easy […]

St. Catharines Fire Department makes history at National FireFit Championships

by Rod Mawhood

Two teams from the Garden City made the relay final.     The St. Catharines Fire Department made history at the National FireFit Championships earlier this month in Sarnia.  For the first time in the history of the relay event, one city had two teams in the final.  “The weekend was great from an individual standpoint, […]

NHL training camps underway

by Rod Mawhood

Maple Leafs and Sabres began on-ice practicing Thursday. Photo credit: Facebook/Buffalo Sabres   Physicals Wednesday, on-ice practicing Thursday. NHL training camps are officially underway.  We’ll concentrate on the two closest teams to Niagara, of course the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Of the two clubs, the Maple Leafs made the most significant changes […]

Jackfish crowned IBL Champs

by Rod Mawhood

Franchise deemed ‘model’ after just four seasons in Welland. Photo credit: Facebook/Welland Jackfish   After just four years in existence, the Welland Jackfish have been crowned Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) Dominico Cup champions.  The Jackfish battled back from two games down to win four straight and beat the Barrie Baycats, including Saturday’s series clinching, emphatic, […]

It’s all about Hope in Motion this Saturday

by Rod Mawhood

Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital (pictured) holding fundraiser at Canada Games Park. Photo credit: Hotel Dieu Shaver   Almost a month to the day after the province announced it was investing $2.5 million dollars into the Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital, the Niagara Region’s only rehabilitation and complex care hospital will be holding a fundraiser this Saturday […]

Puck drops on local Junior B hockey season this week

by Rod Mawhood

Five Niagara based teams compete in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, including the Fort Erie Meteors (pictured). Photo credit: Facebook/Fort Erie Meteors   There’s one less Niagara based team in 2023, but the puck drops on the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) regular season this week.  After the Niagara Falls Canucks made the […]

Mike Strange (right) and Victor Pietrangelo (left) set to arrive at Oakes Park on Saturday. Photo credit: Mike Strange   Bee stings, mosquito bites, numerous falls, and several pairs of shoes later – and their latest battle, shin splints – Mike Strange and Victor Pietrangelo, down dozens of pounds, end their ‘Epic Run’ for childhood […]

NFL regular season kicks off Thursday night

by Rod Mawhood

 Is it finally Buffalo’s year? Photo credit: USA-Today Sports/Mark Konezny   Let the hype begin.  The chatter, the office pools, the trash-talking – it all starts this week.  Can Kansas City repeat as Super Bowl champions? Will Philadelphia get back to the big game? Is it finally Buffalo’s year? Three questions that will soon be […]

Paille finding his way as NCAA coach

by Rod Mawhood

Former Stanley Cup Champion and Welland native now an assistant at Canisius in Buffalo. Photo credit: Canisius Athletics   Dan Paille has taken his NHL Stanley Cup winning playing days to coaching.  After two seasons as a volunteer with the NCAA Division 1 Canisius Golden Griffins, the 39-year-old Welland native has been hired on full-time […]

Niagara Falls included as part of Hamilton’s Grey Cup Festival

by Rod Mawhood

City will host CFL Awards before the big game. Pictured is Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (right) and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Neil Lumsden at a preview event for the festival earlier this month. Photo credit: Facebook/Jim Diodati   Canada’s biggest football game in 2023 will be played in Hamilton, but the […]

Brock Badgers men’s and women’s hockey teams add impressive recruits

by Rod Mawhood

Photo credit: Brock Athletics/Stephen Leithwood   While the upcoming Labour Day weekend is move-in day for most Brock University students, Badger varsity athletes have already arrived in Niagara to begin training for their respective upcoming seasons. Look no further than the men’s and women’s hockey teams, including a brother and sister act from Hamilton in […]

Jackfish begin playoff run Thursday night at home

by Rod Mawhood

The Brantford Red Sox will provide the opposition in best of five series. Photo credit: Facebook/Welland Jackfish   The Welland Jackfish completed their second straight 31-win Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) season with an emphatic 18-5 victory over the Hamilton Cardinals Sunday afternoon in the Steel City.  “Back-to-back thirty-plus win seasons, pretty remarkable, and this year […]

How football became king

by Dave Redekop

Many trace football’s hold on the American viewing public back to the 1958 NFL championship game between the old Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants.   Early in September the viewing attention of Americans will suddenly shift. The return of football will signify autumn’s arrival and the end of the long national intermission between […]

 ‘Epic run’ continues for Councillors Mike Strange (left) and Victor Pietrangelo (right). Photo credit: BoxRun   They’ve run together many times in the past. But 2023 is different for Niagara Falls City Councillors Mike Strange and Victor Pietrangelo.  The latter is finally able to join the former Canadian Olympian for an entire journey – all […]

Jackfish clinch first pennant in franchise history as regular season champions

by Rod Mawhood

IBL playoffs begin next week. Photo credit: Welland Jackfish   History was made Sunday evening in Barrie. The Welland Jackfish were crowned regular season champions, clinching their first Intercounty Baseball League pennant in franchise history, with an 8-4 victory over the Barrie Baycats. With three games left in the regular season the Jackfish sit at […]

Sport Niagara officially launches

by Rod Mawhood

Legacy is the goal as Canada Games Host Society partners with Niagara Community Foundation. Pictured are Doug Hamilton (middle) and Bryan Rose (right). Photo credit: Sport Niagara   As was the hope, the Niagara Canada Summer Games will live on in legacy long past the 2022 celebration that brought thousands to the region. In August […]

Grand Slam of Curling just over two months away

by Rod Mawhood

One of the largest curling events in the world hits Niagara in October. Photo credit: Facebook/Grand Slam of Curling   The countdown continues.  Seventy days and counting.  One of the largest televised curling events in the world is about to hit the Honeymoon Capital. The Hearing Life Tour Challenge/Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling takes place […]

Team dropped 0-4 match to the Aussies Monday, eliminating them from the 2023 tournament. Photo credit: Sportsnet   Defending Olympic gold medalists.  Currently ranked seventh in the world.  And now done at the World Cup after a 4-0 loss to co-host Australia on Monday. Canada played one good half in Australia. 45 minutes. That’s it.  […]

River Lions give back to Niagara while preparing for CEBL playoffs

by Rod Mawhood

For the second year in a row, the team took part in its ‘Mesh Refresh’ initiative. Photo credit: Twitter/Niagara River Lions   The Niagara River Lions play their final regular season home game, before returning to the playoffs, Friday night at Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines.  The Montreal Alliance will provide the opposition.  However, […]

Grimsby goaltender one-step closer to living his NHL dream

by Rod Mawhood

Nathaniel Day drafted by the Edmonton Oilers. Photo credit: OHL/Natalie Shaver   It’s been a busy few weeks for Nathaniel Day. After being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the sixth round, 184th overall, of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, the Oilers flew out Day for a week in the Alberta capital […]

Thorold’s Jordyn Wheeler (left) and St. Catharines native Quinten Ethier (right) recently returned from Mexico after playing for the red and white in FIBA U16 Americas. Photo credit: Canada Basketball   As the sport of basketball continues to grow exponentially in Canada, two Niagara teenagers are living proof of that. Jordyn Wheeler, who calls Thorold […]

Niagara Falls Canucks make move to Jr. A OJHL

by Rod Mawhood

Team had been playing Jr. B for 52 years. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Canucks   The Niagara Falls ‘Jr. B’ Canucks are no more. After playing for 52 years under the Jr. B hockey umbrella, including most recently with the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), the Canucks are moving up and joining the Jr. […]

Can the real Toronto Blue Jays please stand up?

by Rod Mawhood

No fewer than five Blue Jays named MLB all-stars, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (pictured). Photo credit: ESPN   Most years there’s only one night off of the sports calendar for the four major North American sports.  The Big 4 include the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National […]

St. Catharines native hired as Niagara IceDogs associate coach

by Rod Mawhood

Boudreau name well known locally. Photo credit: ECHL/Fort Wayne Komets   It’s a homecoming of sorts for Ben Boudreau.  The 38-year-old St. Catharines native, who has helped run the Golden Horseshoe Hockey School in the Garden City – started by his father Bruce – for decades has been hired by the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) […]

Opening of NHL and NBA ‘Free Agent Frenzy’ lives up to the hype

by Rod Mawhood

Maple Leafs add grit, Sabres shore up their defense, Raptors lose FVV. Pictured is Tyler Bertuzzi. Photo credit: AP/Michael Dwyer   Canada’s self-proclaimed sports network dedicates an entire day of programming for it.  ‘TSN Hockey – NHL Free-Agent Frenzy’. Some years it fails to deliver, but 2023 it lived up to the hype – and […]

Welland’s Sabrina D’Angelo (pictured) is a goalkeeper for the red and white. Photo credit: Sky Sports   While discussion continues regarding funding for both the Canadian men’s and women’s national soccer teams, and the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, one thing is for sure – Welland’s Sabrina D’Angelo will once again be donning the red […]

FireFit 2023 hits St. Catharines this weekend

by Rod Mawhood

Seymour-Hannah Centre parking lot will host two-day event. Image from 2017 national competition. Photo credit: Facebook/FireFit Championships   It’s back.  For a second consecutive year FireFit has chosen the Garden City to bring its athletic, demanding, and entertaining show to the masses.  After a successful 2022 showing with 67 competitors running through a must-see course, […]

Gary Bettman: best commissioner in North American sports

by Dave Redekop

Bettman (pictured) took over as head of the NHL three decades ago. Photo credit: NHL   On June 13, Gary Bettman presented the Stanley Cup to Winnipeg native and Las Vegas Golden Knights Captain Mark Stone. With this milestone, Bettman’s time as NHL commissioner may have reached its zenith. As much as the moment signified […]

Scarborough’s Leonard Miller played for Fort Erie International Academy in 2022. Photo credit: Getty Images   Much like next week’s NHL Entry Draft everyone knows who will be selected first overall in this week’s NBA Draft. Connor Bedard in hockey will be taken by Chicago with the first overall pick in the NHL, while Victor […]

Dubas and Audibert honoured by Brock University, Niagara College

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara’s post-secondary institutions welcome back and recognize distinguished alumni. Pictured are President of Hockey Operations for the Pittsburgh Penguins Kyle Dubas (left) and broadcaster and analyst for the Miami Heat Amy Audibert (right). Photo credit: Brock University and NBA   Niagara has been a busy place this week with graduates from both of the region’s […]

The putt heard ‘round the country

by Rod Mawhood

Canada’s own Nick Taylor celebrates 72-foot bomb to claim Canadian Open on Sunday, June 11. Photo credit: PGA Tour   Where to start? I suppose after featuring PGA caddie, and former Niagara IceDog and pro hockey player, Mitchell Theoret last week, we’ll start with his quote on Nick Taylor’s incredible playoff victory at Oakdale Golf […]

Golf world a buzz over merger as RBC Canadian Open tees off

by Rod Mawhood

Former Niagara IceDogs turned pro PGA caddie Mitchell Theoret (pictured, left, alongside Taylor Pendrith) weighs in. Photo credit: AP/Timothy Easley    The news broke late morning Tuesday, and the discussion and narrative continues days later.  After a year of bickering and drama fit for the hallway of high school, the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia-based […]

Starting point-guard for the River Lions and reigning CEBL Most Valuable Player Khalil Ahmad. Photo credit: CEBL   Perhaps CEBL analyst and former Niagara River Lions head coach Joe Raso said it best minutes after the River Lions hammered the Saskatchewan Rattlers 116-74 in their 2023 home opener. “You know what that was? That was […]

Stanley Cup Final features pair of former Niagara IceDogs captains

by Rod Mawhood

Pietrangelo of Vegas (pictured) and Verhaeghe of Florida will battle for Lord Stanley’s Mug. Photo credit: NHL   While most of the Stanley Cup Final discussion has centred around the Cinderella Florida Panthers, and the play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Matthew Tkachuk, there are a ton of other story lines including one here in […]

Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs rowing for more than medals

by Rod Mawhood

Pictured is Arden White (front) with his doubles partner Levi Patterson-Raby, alongside Arden’s older brother and Bulldogs coach Austin. Photo credit: Steve Smith   When the 50-plus Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs rowers take to the water later this week on Martindale Pond in Port Dalhousie for the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) Regatta they’ll […]

River Lions season tips off Friday in Montreal

by Rod Mawhood

Victor Raso (pictured) adds new title to his resume. Photo credit: CEBL The Niagara River Lions open their season Friday night in Montreal, and for head coach and general manager Victor Raso the goal for his club has never changed.  “I think our goal is to win the Eastern Conference and then win the league,” […]

St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics kick off season with victory

by Rod Mawhood

Home opener Wednesday. Photo credit: St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics   The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics season opener was a winning one.  The Athletics traveled to Six Nations on Monday afternoon for the Arrows annual bread and cheese game, and prevailed 10-7 as Ethan Fisher scored four goals for the A’s. St. Catharines head coach […]

Sports betting just getting bigger

by Rod Mawhood

Online sports gambling in Ontario has exploded since single-event betting was legalized in the province last spring. Photo credit: Getty Images/Paul Ellis   Okay be honest, over the past few months how often have you uttered the words “wow, another sports betting commercial?” You literally can’t go a single commercial break during a Toronto Blue […]

Welland Jackfish hoping for big things in 2023

by Rod Mawhood

Franchise had busy off-season, adding 1,600 new seats to stadium and several new players to line-up. Team kicks off 2023 campaign this week. Image from May 2022. Photo credit: Welland Jackfish/Steven Ruddy   Upgrades to their lineup and stadium means expectations are high this season for the Welland Jackfish.  First pitch on the 2023 campaign […]

Blue Jays and MLB at the quarter pole

by Rod Mawhood

Toronto’s fifth starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (pictured) is a perfect 5-0 to kick off the season. Photo credit: Getty Images/G Fiume   While most all-around sports fans are engulfed in the NHL and NBA playoffs, it may be hard to believe, but the major league baseball (MLB) season is already a quarter over as of […]

GM suspended two seasons, team captain and netminder kicked out of OHL over unspecified incident. Full rundown of the evolving situation and what’s been said to date. Photo credit: OHL/Natalie Shaver   It was an interesting 48 hours recently for the Niagara IceDogs. It was late last Thursday afternoon, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and […]

Newest Niagara River Lion hails from England

by Rod Mawhood

Patrick Whelan talks basketball and the King’s upcoming coronation. Photo credit: British Basketball League   The Niagara River Lions have announced the signing of 6’5 guard, Patrick Whelan. The 26-year-old from Warrington, England will join the team for the 2023 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) campaign, filling the international roster spot that is required by […]

Carter Verhaeghe (pictured) was drafted into the NHL by his upcoming playoff opponent. Photo credit: NHL   It was midway through a recent sit-down interview with former Niagara IceDogs captain, now member of the National Hockey League (NHL) Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Strome that I asked a simple question: Who is the most underrated player in […]

NFL first round draft recap

by Rod Mawhood

Bills move up to select tight end Dalton Kincaid (pictured) with first round pick. Photo credit: Syracuse.com via Getty Images   Thirty-one players were selected in the first round of Thursday night’s National Football League (NFL) Draft from Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station.  Three of the first four picks were quarterbacks.  Alabama’s Bryce Young went […]

Niagara IceDogs retool

by Rod Mawhood

Team makes 16 selections over two-day draft. Several local players drafted. Photo credit: Niagara IceDogs/Vivid Eye Photography   Rather than calling it a rebuild, Niagara IceDogs owner and general manager Darren DeDobbelaer called it a “retool.” After finishing the 2022-23 season last overall in the 20-team Ontario Hockey League (OHL), DeDobbelaer and the IceDogs brass […]

River Lions select Brock forward as part of U Sports selections

by Rod Mawhood

Pictured is Jordan Tchuente. Photo credit: Brock Badgers   The Niagara River Lions stayed close to home when they announced one of their two selections in the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) 2023 U SPORTS (Canadian University) Draft, selecting Jordan Tchuente of the Brock Badgers along with Aiden Warnholtz of Carleton University. The partnership between […]

Curling Canada announces majors changes

by Rod Mawhood

Tickets on sale and volunteers still needed for Pinty’s Grand Slam event coming to Niagara this fall. Photo credit: Facebook/Curling Canada    As plans for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling – coming to Niagara Falls in October – continue, Curling Canada has announced some major changes.  Canadian four-player curling teams looking to qualify for […]

NHL playoffs begin Monday night

by Rod Mawhood

Bruce Boudreau chimes in on the race to Lord Stanley. Toronto, Edmonton, and Winnipeg are Canadian representatives this post-season. Photo credit: NHL   Friday is the final day of the 82-game regular season for the 32 NHL teams.  The 16 teams that qualified for the postseason will begin competing for Lord Stanley’s mug Monday night.  […]

Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Famer previews NBA play-ins and playoffs

by Rod Mawhood

Amy Audibert (pictured) is now an analyst with the Miami Heat. Photo credit: Twitter/Amy Audibert   If the NBA ‘play-in’ format wasn’t intriguing enough, enter the Minnesota Timberwolves and this past Sunday.  To call it an epic meltdown might be a massive understatement.  First forward Jaden McDaniels broke his hand punching the wall in frustration […]

Brock University and Niagara College announce 2022-23 athletes of the year

by Rod Mawhood

Wrestling, rowing, soccer, and basketball athletes picked up the hardware. Pictured are Brock’s Stephen Harris and Mia Friesen. Photo credit: Brock University Athletics/Stephen Leithwood    The Brock University Badgers and Niagara College Knights have announced their 2022-23 athletes of the year.  A wrestler and rower from the Badgers, and a soccer and basketball player with […]

Weekend passes now on sale for Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling

by Rod Mawhood

Jennifer Jones (pictured, centre-left) can’t wait to curl in the Honeymoon City. Last week, representatives from the municipality, Sportsnet, and the Canadian curling community gathered in Niagara Falls to officially kick-off the countdown to October’s competition. Photo credit: Twitter/Jim Diodati   The hype is real.  Perhaps Olympic Gold Medalist, two-time World Champion and 16-time Grand […]

Niagara River Lions roster taking shape

by Rod Mawhood

Single game tickets now on sale. Pictured is Antonio “AJ” Davis. Photo Credit: CEBL    After announcing the signing of Canadian National Team member Phil Scrubb last week, the Niagara River Lions have announced they’ve inked 6’9 American forward Antonio “AJ” Davis.  The 28-year-old from Burford, Georgia will join the team for the 2023 Canadian […]

First pitch of Toronto Blue Jays regular season just hours away

by Rod Mawhood

Former Brock Badger, now Vice-President with the Blue Jays Andrew Tinnish (pictured) breaks down the 2023 season. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Chris Young   Optimism is once again the word most often used when describing the Toronto Blue Jays 2023 season.  With first pitch on the new campaign set to fly Thursday afternoon from St. […]

Niagara Falls one of six cities chosen to host pre-tournament games. Photo credit: Getty Images/Derek Leung   With less than two weeks until puck drop at the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship, Hockey Canada and the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) have unveiled the pre-tournament schedule and training camp locations for […]

CEBL continues to grow

by Rod Mawhood

TSN to air ‘Game of the Week’ plus playoffs. Photo credit: CEBL   To say the growth of the Canadian Elite Basketball League has been exponential would be a massive understatement.  For a league founded in 2017, that didn’t begin play until 2019, the CEBL is now the largest professional sports league in Canada.  And […]

Player and coach are part of defending Sutherland Cup Champion St. Catharines Jr. B Falcons. Photo credit: Twitter/GOJHL   They were supposed to be honoured Monday night at St. Catharines City Hall, but instead they’ll be playing Game 3 in their best of seven second round playoff series against the Caledonia Corvairs.  The duo are […]

Got your brackets ready?

by Rod Mawhood

March Madness tips off this week, with two local products participating in the iconic tournament. Former Ridley College Tiger Charles Bediako (pictured) plays for top ranked Alabama. Photo credit: Crimson Tide Photos/UA Athletics    You don’t have to be a basketball or sports fan, for that matter, to know these two words: March Madness.  Every March […]

Brock Badgers wrestlers continue to dominate the mat

by Rod Mawhood

This year’s U SPORTS championship banner marks the 21st in program history for the Badgers men’s wrestling team, more than double any other wrestling program across the country. Photo credit: Brock University Athletics/Brad Hamilton   If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s the success of the Brock Badgers wrestlers. The Brock Badgers men’s wrestling […]

Badgers are defending Quigley Cup Champions. Photo credit: Brock Athletics/Stephen Leithwood   And then there was one.  Only one team remains standing as the fall-winter sports schedule wraps up at both Brock University and Niagara College.  The Brock Badgers Women’s Volleyball team.  The Badgers, who are defending provincial champions, are off to their third straight […]

Local Jr. B hockey playoff preview

by Rod Mawhood

All four opening round series are underway for the six Niagara-based clubs. Photo credit: Twitter/Fort Erie Meteors   The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) is composed of three conferences and 24 teams.  Of those 24 teams six call Niagara home, and all are based in the Golden Horseshoe Conference.  The St. Catharines Falcons, Fort […]

Mike Nicholson (pictured) is believed to be the first black captain in Canadian university hockey history. Photo credit: Brock University    As the month of February, and Black History Month, wraps up, The Niagara Independent sports department reached out to three current Niagara based and related athletes and one former St. Catharines resident who has a […]

Jones and many of the world’s best curlers converge on Niagara Falls this October for the Pinty’s Cup. Photo credit: Getty Images/NBC Sports   Jennifer Jones, already regarded as the greatest female curler of all-time, just missed adding one more Canadian title to her resume on Sunday by dropping the Scott Tournament of Hearts Women’s […]

Grand Slam of Curling is Niagara bound

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara Falls Curling Club (pictured) will host the event in October. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Falls Curling Club   Over the years, so many leagues and teams have chosen Niagara Falls to highlight their particular sport.  Toronto Maple Leafs training camp, Red Bull Crashed Ice – just to name a couple.  Well now one of the […]

Brock Badgers and Niagara College Knights playoffs underway

by Rod Mawhood

On the court, the Brock women’s volleyball team enters the post-season ranked second in Canada after winning seven straight matches and finishing the regular season with an outstanding (18-2) record. Photo credit: Brock Badgers Athletics/Stephen Leithwood    Late February and early March usually mean one thing for the two post-secondary institutions that call Niagara home – […]

Welland Jackfish roster rounding into shape

by Rod Mawhood

MLB pitchers and catchers report to spring training as well. Photo credit: IBL/CJH Photography   It wasn’t only Monday’s sunshine and unseasonably mild temperatures across Niagara that made a lot of us think of spring. Major League Baseball (MLB) Pitchers and catchers also reported to their respective teams spring training locations across Florida and Arizona. […]

St. Catharines NFL free agent kicker breaks down the Super Bowl

by Rod Mawhood

Superstition comes into play for Lirim Hajrullahu. Photo credit: NurPhoto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images   Patrick Mahomes and the perennial powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs, and Jalen Hurts and arguably the best team all season long in the Philadelphia Eagles. Welcome to Super Bowl 57.  For the first time in history two black quarterbacks will go […]

Brianne Jenner ready to return ‘home’

by Rod Mawhood

PWHPA plays at Meridian Centre Friday night. Photo credit: Team Canada   Brianne Jenner figures it’s been close to 20 years since she’s played in St. Catharines. One of the greatest women’s hockey players of all-time will return to the Garden City Friday night when the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) Showcase drops the […]

NHL All-Star break is here

by Rod Mawhood

Thorold’s Conor Timmins talks joining the Toronto Maple Leafs. Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports/Jerome Miron   With the National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star break officially upon us, it’s time to check in on the two closest teams to us here in Niagara. The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting in a very comfortable third place overall […]

Bruce Boudreau loves Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Embattled former NHL head coach talks his former home and more. Photo credit: Getty Images/Jeff Vinnick   A week after being let go by the Vancouver Canucks, Bruce Boudreau was still reflecting on all the emotions running through his mind. The man they call ‘Gabby’ joined the Niagara Sports Report on Newstalk 610 CKTB to […]

River Lions set for ninth season of pro basketball in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

 The team’s 2023 home opener at Meridian Centre, in downtown St. Catharines, is June 3 against Saskatchewan. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara River Lions   It’s hard to believe the Niagara River Lions are entering their ninth season.  The professional basketball franchise’s first four were under the National Basketball League of Canada brand, the last four in […]

Proud ‘Wellander’ becomes first ever Canadian to sign with Arsenal

by Rod Mawhood

Sabrina D’Angelo is also a member of the Canadian Women’s National team. Photo credit: Twitter/Arsenal Women   Just days after the Green Bay Packers signed Niagara Falls native Tyrell Ford, the region was once again on the world sports map when a self-proclaimed, and proud, “Wellander” became the first ever Canadian to sign with the […]

Niagara Falls native signs with NFL Green Bay Packers

by Rod Mawhood

Former AN Myer Marauder was with Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Pictured (left) alongside brother Tre. Photo credit: CFL   At the start of the 2022-23 National Football League season 22 Canadians were on active rosters. You can add another player to that list entering the 2023-24 campaign.  Yes, it’s been quite the few months for Tyrell […]

NFL Wildcard Weekend was wild

by Rod Mawhood

Former Bills kicker and Niagara-on-the-Lake resident weighs in on playoffs. Photo credit: USA Today/Bills Wire   Steve Christie is still considered by many as not only the best Buffalo Bills kicker in franchise history, but also one of the best kickers in NFL history.  Christie has connected on nine field goals in overtime, an NFL […]

IceDogs make more trades on deadline day, name new assistants

by Rod Mawhood

Daniel Michaud (left) and Gerard Keane (right) fill out the IceDogs’ on-ice leadership team. Niagara sits in last place at the halfway point of the season. Photo credit: Niagara IceDogs   As the Niagara IceDogs prepare their official Memorial Cup bid to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), owner and general manager Darren DeDobbelaer swung two more […]

NFL Wildcard match-ups set

by Rod Mawhood

Two games Saturday, three games Sunday and one game on Monday. Bills take on Miami Sunday at 1:00pm. Photo credit: Getty Images/Michael Reaves   NFL Wildcard weekend is set.  First, let’s discuss how we got there, because the 2022-23 season was certainly not a normal one. We witnessed three ties.  The defending Super Bowl Champion Los […]

The day the NFL stopped

by Rod Mawhood

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin showing ‘remarkable improvement’. Photo credit: Getty Images/Dylan Buell   Let’s be honest, the National Football League (NFL) has a reputation for playing through the toughest conditions, wind, rain, and even blizzards have never stopped play. But that all changed Monday night in Cincinnati, Ohio when tragedy struck as Buffalo Bills […]

Another Connor taking the hockey world by storm

by Rod Mawhood

Canada rebounds from opening game loss as Bedard (pictured) emerges as phenom at World Juniors. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese   As the calendar turned to 2023, the holiday tradition continued. The World Junior Hockey Championships. For many people and their families, it’s truly the only time they watch hockey throughout the year.  And […]

2022 Niagara Sports Year in Review

by Rod Mawhood

Highlighted by the Canada Summer Games in August, 2022 was a big year in Niagara sports, for athletes, coaches, organizers, and spectators alike. Photo credit: Canada Summer Games/Anil Mungal    As we say bid adieu to 2022, and usher in 2023, The Niagara Independent would like to look back and highlight the year that was […]

NFL playoff picture taking shape

by Rod Mawhood

Buffalo Bills star quarterback Josh Allen (17) in action against the Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve. Allen led the Bills to a convincing 35-13 win over the Bears Saturday, and in the process helped the team secure its third-consecutive AFC East divisional title and keep the hometown squad atop the conference. Photo credit: AP/Charles Rex […]

Local junior hockey teams at the holiday break

by Rod Mawhood

Last year’s GOJHL championship squad from St. Catharines currently sits atop the Golden Horseshoe Conference. The Fort Erie Meteors (pictured) are in third and lead the conference in offence, with 131 goals on the season. Photo credit: Facebook/Fort Erie Meteors   The holiday break can’t come soon enough for some local junior hockey teams, while […]

Epic Argentina victory at World Cup

by Rod Mawhood

Canada drops 12 places in rankings. Photo credit: Getty Images   It was called the best World Cup final ever. Some say the best sporting event ever. Be honest. Did you watch the 2022 World Cup? Or at least the highlights? Soccer’s biggest event lived up to the hype and then some, as Argentina knocked […]

PWHPA Showcase coming to Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines born Alexa Vasko (pictured, second from right) to play at Meridian Centre. Photo credit: Hockey Canada   The Niagara IceDogs and Ontario Hockey League (OHL) announced that they are partnering with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) to bring some of the best women’s hockey talent in the world, including a total […]

And then there were four

by Rod Mawhood

Semi-finals set at World Cup. Photo credit: Reuters/Matthew Childs   If you had Argentina, Croatia, France and Morocco as your final four at the World Cup you’re likely lying.  That’s right, two of the final four teams came out of Canada’s Group F. Belgium, who entered the tournament ranked second in the World, was the […]

Local content working the World Cup

by Rod Mawhood

Former Brock Badger is Logistics Site Manager in Qatar. Supplied photo.    Tyler Harrison has quickly taken his love of baseball to the soccer pitch. The former Brock Badger baseball player, and Sports Management student, has been in Qatar since last year preparing for and working the 2022 World Cup.  Harrison was actually working for […]

Another Niagara native set to make Maple Leafs debut

by Rod Mawhood

Thorold’s Conor Timmins joins Niagara Falls’ Mac Hollowell (pictured) in Toronto. Photo credit: The Hockey Writers/Jess Starr   It’s been quite the few weeks for Toronto Maple Leafs fans from Niagara, and a couple of select families.  After Niagara Falls native, and blueliner, Mac Hollowell made his debut for the blue and white on November […]

Niagara ‘Big 3’ sporting franchises team up for the Ultimate Fan Pack

by The Niagara Independent

River Lions, IceDogs and Jackfish also giving back to charity. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara River Lions   North America might have the Big 4 when it comes to professional sports, but here in Niagara we have the Big 3.  And what happens when you bring together the Niagara River Lions of the Canadian Elite Baseball League […]

Sir Winston Churchill senior girls basketball best in province

by The Niagara Independent

The Bulldogs took home OFSAA gold Saturday. Pictured is the team with their qualifying SOSSA banner. Photo credit: OFSAA   If you’re looking for the best girls AA high school basketball team in Ontario, look no further than St. Catharines’ Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School.  At OFSAA’s three-day, 18-team tournament at Stratford District Secondary School […]

Niagara IceDogs officially in the running for hosting 2024 Memorial Cup

by Rod Mawhood

With the capacity, proper accommodations in place, and collective will, St. Catharines seems like the natural front-runner in the four-city race. Pictured is inside the Meridian Centre. Photo credit: Facebook/Meridian Centre   The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) made it official on Wednesday, naming the Niagara IceDogs one of four finalists to host the 2024 Memorial […]

World Cup officially kicks off

by Rod Mawhood

Three Niagara soccer aficionados offer their thoughts and picks. Pictured Canadian players celebrate after beating the U.S. 2-0 in a qualifier back in January at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field. Photo credit: Twitter/Canada Soccer   The world’s biggest soccer event officially kicked off on Sunday from Qatar. The 2022 World Cup saw the host nation drop […]

Pair of Niagara natives playing in Grey Cup

by Rod Mawhood

Welland’s Johnny Augustine (pictured) and Tyrell Ford both play for Blue Bombers. The championship game takes place between Winnipeg and Toronto this Sunday in Regina, Saskatchewan. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jason Franson   Two interesting story lines highlight this Sunday’s 109th Grey Cup when the champions of the east, the Toronto Argonauts, meet the best […]

From bench to backroom, Niagara well represented in the NHL

by Rod Mawhood

Arizona Coyotes GM has called St. Catharines home since 1996. Photo credit: AP   Over the years, The Niagara Independent has featured NHL players and coaches that call the region home, but Niagara’s reach in the top professional hockey league in the world goes far beyond the ice and the bench.  From scouts to trainers, […]

Niagara Falls native takes her talents to South Beach

by Rod Mawhood

Amy Audibert now a member of the Miami Heat broadcast team. Pictured Audibert stands with legendary broadcaster Jason Jackson. Photo credit: Twitter/Amy Audibert   If there was a spokesperson for hard work paying off Amy Audibert would be it.  The Niagara Falls native has gone from playing NCAA basketball at the University of Miami, to […]

NFL season at the halfway mark

by Rod Mawhood

Buffalo and Kansas City tops in the AFC, Philadelphia in the NFC. Despite recent loss and injury issues, Bills, led by star quarterback Josh Allen (pictured), still favoured to represent the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl. Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports/Robert Deutsch   As the National Football League officially hits the halfway point of […]

Niagara College Women’s Soccer team makes history

by Rod Mawhood

 Over the weekend, the 2022 squad took home NC’s first-ever OCAA soccer medal. Photo credit: Niagara Knights   For the first time in school history Niagara College has medaled in the sport of soccer at the provincial level. The Knights downed the host Durham College Lords 3-2 to capture bronze at the Ontario Colleges Athletic […]

World Series preview

by Rod Mawhood

Only one Canadian involved in best of seven set. Phillies manager Ron Thomson (pictured), from southwestern Ontario, will try to win his sixth career championship ring against powerhouse Houston.     The 118th edition of the World Series is definitely living up to its moniker.  The Houston Astros roster features players from six different countries. The […]

Niagara Falls took home over $5.2 million for hosting Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino from July 1 to September 30, 2022. Over the first two quarters of this fiscal year, the city has received $11,542,491 from the OLG, already topping the $11,526,576 total it received for the entire 2021/22 fiscal year. Photo credit: Facebook/Casino […]

Niagara-based professional basketball league continues to grow

by Rod Mawhood

The Canadian Elite Basketball League, headquartered in Niagara, has expanded into Canada’s third largest city. The new Calgary Surge franchise was unveiled this week. Usman Tahir Jutt (left) and Jason Ribeiro (right) are credited with bringing pro basketball to Calgary. Photo credit: LiveWire Calgary/Aryn Toombs   It might just be the best kept secret in […]

NBA season tips Tuesday, Raptors open Wednesday

by Rod Mawhood

Raps looking to “grow and make a jump” this season. Photo credit: USA Today Sports/John E. Sokolowski   The National Basketball Association tips off its 2022-23 season Tuesday night.  The Toronto Raptors begin their regular season Wednesday night at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a (48-34) record last season, good for fifth place in […]

Girls Sports Day in Welland’ goes Saturday

by Rod Mawhood

The six-sport, all-day event is free for all girls aged six to 12. It takes places at the brand-new Empire Sportsplex in Welland (pictured). Photo credit: City of Welland   Michele O’Keefe hasn’t left a stone unturned, or should I say a ball out of play, for this Saturday’s ‘Girls Sports Day in Welland.’ The […]

Leafs and Sabres set to kick off respective NHL campaigns this week

by Rod Mawhood

The regular season officially begins tonight, with the semi-local Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres starting off their seasons on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Photo credit: NHL   The clock continues to tick on the Toronto Maple Leafs window to succeed, while the rebuild (again) is underway in the Queen City bringing optimism to the […]

Ludzik to be honoured at Niagara Falls Canucks game

by Rod Mawhood

The Steve Ludzik Press Box will be unveiled Friday night before puck drop.    It’s hard to put into words just how much Steve Ludzik has given to Niagara Falls, and the Region of Niagara as a whole. ‘Ludzy’, as he’s affectionately known, is the man behind the Steve Ludzik Parkinson’s Clinic, and the reason […]

Varsity sports well underway at both of Niagara’s post-secondary schools.    It’s called the Big 4 when it comes to ‘major sports’ in North America. The National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Hockey League (NHL) – and right now they’re all underway in some way, shape, or […]

Caleb Smith continues to grow the game of rugby in Niagara and beyond

by Rod Mawhood

For the DSBN elementary school teacher, rugby is a passion that started over three decades ago. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Flag Rugby   “Grow the game.” It’s an expression we hear often as it pertains to sport, but for Caleb Smith he truly lives that when it comes to rugby.  For over 20 years, Smith has been […]

Niagara IceDogs set to start barking Thursday night

by Rod Mawhood

The rebuilt St. Catharines franchise kicks off its 2022-23 season against the Mississauga Steelheads at home at the Meridian Centre. Pictured is 2022 second round pick Kevin He. Photo credit: Niagara IceDogs   The puck drops on the Niagara IceDogs 2022-23 regular season Thursday night at home against the Mississauga Steelheads.  The IceDogs are coming […]

A celebration of golf in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Saturday is also the 73rd Champion of Champions at the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club (pictured). Photo credit: St. Catharines Golf and Country Club   After a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to celebrate the sport of golf in Niagara.  And there’s not too many people in the region that […]

Steel Blade Classic back for Brock Badgers and new head coach

by Rod Mawhood

Brock takes on Guelph Gryphons. A sword from War of 1812 will be awarded to winner. Game takes place this Friday, September 23. Photo credit: Brock University   Many people involved in the game of hockey will say ‘Canadian University hockey is the best kept secret in Canada.’ That includes this reporter, and the new […]

The sport of Cornhole is bigger than most think, including here in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Participants take part in the ever-increasingly popular throwing game. Photo credit: Mackinac Island   Many of us have tried it, but there’s more of us that don’t realize just how big the sport of Cornhole is becoming. It’s no longer a backyard, get the family together, recreational sport.  Leagues continue to form truly around the […]

Brianne Jenner continues to do Canada proud

by Rod Mawhood

Team Canada gold medal hero grew up in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Toronto Star/Dave Holland   Raise your hand if you didn’t know that the 2022 Canadian Olympic MVP and World Championship Gold Medal game hero Brianne Jenner grew up and played minor hockey in St. Catharines. That’s what I thought.  Don’t worry, you’re not […]

GOJHL/Golden Horseshoe Conference Preview

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines Jr. B Falcons look to repeat as Sutherland Cup Champions. Photo credit: Twitter/GOJHL   The puck dropped on the 2022-23 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season last night in Hamilton as the Kilty B’s hosted the defending Sutherland Cup Champion St. Catharines Falcons. Will the Falcons repeat? Can they repeat? That’s just two […]

All eyes on the Buffalo Bills as NFL season opens this week

by Rod Mawhood

Led by superstar quarterback Josh Allen (no. 17), the Bills are widely considered to be Super Bowl favourites this year. The team kick offs its 2022-23 campaign against the defending champions in LA this Thursday evening. Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports/Mark Konezny   Even during their four straight appearances in the Super Bowl in the […]

Diodati takes his baseball talents to Oregon

by Rod Mawhood

The AN Myer graduate spent the last three years at the University of Alabama. Photo credit: Twitter/Owen Diodati   It’s hard to believe that it’s been over three years since Owen Diodati was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. The now 21-year-old decided to pursue his education first before becoming a professional baseball player and […]

New era of IceDogs hockey begins this week

by Rod Mawhood

Training camp takes place this Tuesday and Wednesday, with new owner Darren DeDobbelear excited to see the squad they can assemble. Photo credit: Twitter/Niagara IceDogs   A new era of Niagara IceDogs hockey begins this week with the opening of training camp.  For the first time since 2007, when the franchise relocated from Mississauga, the […]

Jackfish and Panthers meet in opening round of IBL playoffs

by Rod Mawhood

Welland finished the regular season tied for first. Photo credit: IBL   Despite finishing in a tie for first place overall in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) standings with a (31-11) record, the Welland Jackfish, due to tie breaking scenarios, were placed third and opened their first-round playoffs last night at home against the sixth-seeded […]

Doug Hamilton waiting to exhale

by Rod Mawhood

Chair of the Niagara Canada Summer Games has been at it since 2017. Pictured Hamilton (centre-left) receives the Key to the City from Mayor of St. Catharines Walter Sendzik (second from left), Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley (second from right), and St. Catharines regional and city councillors, Aug. 12, 2022. Photo credit: City of St. […]

Niagara kicks off second week of Canada Summer Games

by Rod Mawhood

Events continue at various venues around the region Tuesday. Games run until Sunday, August 21. Pictured Team Ontario celebrates taking gold in female box lacrosse. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games   After off days on Sunday and Monday, action at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games is set to restart Tuesday morning, with […]

Canada Summer Games delivers

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines native and Olympic gold medalist Kirsten Kit lights the opening ceremonies cauldron at Meridian Centre. Photo credit: Niagara 2022 Host Society    The first few days of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games have delivered.  From Olympic Gold Medalist, coxie and St. Catharines native Kristen Kit having the honour of lighting the cauldron […]

Six to enter Hall of Honour ahead of Canada Summer Games

by Rod Mawhood

Inductees include Niagara natives Stacey Allaster, Michael Strange (pictured, left, receiving the games’ ceremonial torch), and the late Don Goodwin. The 2022 Canada Summer Games take place across various venues around Niagara from Aug. 6 to 21. Photo credit: Niagara 2022 Host Society   The Canada Games Council will induct six remarkable alumni into the […]

Golden Horseshoe Hockey School enters 40th year

by Rod Mawhood

Current Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau started school in 1982. Photo credit: Facebook/Golden Horseshoe Hockey School   Amazing to think that 40 years after Bruce Boudreau laced up his skates for the then St. Catharines Saints, and an idea was born, the Golden Horseshoe Hockey School is celebrating four decades in the Garden City.  […]

Mooradian making the most of her time working with MLB Tampa Bay Rays

by Rod Mawhood

 St. Catharines native is an Advance Scout. Supplied photo.    Analytics and metrics.  Two words the average baseball fan has heard, but do they understand them? St. Catharines native Katie Mooradian lives them. The 24-year-old is an Advance Scout with Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Tampa Bay Rays.  But to know Mooradian’s love of sports, and […]

Mia Friesen already leaving her mark on the sporting world

by Rod Mawhood

The 20-year-old multi-sport athlete hopes to represent Canada on the Olympic stage for wrestling someday soon. Photo credit: Brock University   Mia Friesen has finally made the proclamation.  Having excelled in multiple sports for many years, including being a two-sport athlete at Brock University in lacrosse and wrestling, Friesen left no doubt which she prefers […]

St. Catharines native wins his pro debut in Karate Combat

by Rod Mawhood

Rob Buxton (pictured, white paints) has represented Canada in the sport of kickboxing in the past. Photo credit: YouTube/Karate Combat   Boxing has been around for centuries, while modern mixed martial arts (MMA) competition – consolidated under a regulated set of rules in the form of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – originated in 1993.  […]

River Lions sign Niagara product

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines native Abu Kigab (pictured playing for the Boise State Broncos) competes in his homecoming game at the Meridian Centre this Friday. Photo credit: Boise State Athletics   The Niagara River Lions made an historic announcement Monday. The River Lions signed 6’7 forward Abu Kigab of St. Catharines. Kijab becomes the first ever local, Niagara […]

NHL free agency 2022 begins

by Rod Mawhood

In a few early moves, Johnny Gaudreau departs Calgary for Columbus, while former Niagara IceDogs captain Ryan Strome (pictured) signs a five-year, $25 million deal with Anaheim Ducks. Photo credit: AP/Chris O’Meara   If you’re a fan of the Calgary Flames you may want to stop reading now. NHL free agency opened on Wednesday, and […]

New era of Niagara IceDogs hockey has begun

by Rod Mawhood

OHL board approved transfer of ownership of the team last week. Photo credit: Niagara IceDogs   For the first time since 2007 the Niagara IceDogs have new owners.  The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) has made it official, naming Brantford businessman Darren DeDobbelaer the new majority owner with the Great One, yes Wayne Gretzky, as a […]

St. Catharines man to run his fifth Ironman Triathlon

by Rod Mawhood

Kevin Vallier does it all while battling colitis. Supplied photo.  Take a deep breath. Think of this – all back-to-back – within a few hours. Swim two kilometres. Bike 90 kilometres. Then run 21 kilometres. It’s called an Ironman 70.3. St. Catharines resident Kevin Vallier will be taking part in his fifth Ironman Triathlon Sunday […]

The Prince captures lightweight crown is his hometown

by Rod Mawhood

Lucas Bahdi improves 12-0 as a pro. Supplied photo.    To win your first professional title is one thing, but to win it in your hometown brings it to a whole other level.  That was the case for Lucas Bahdi Saturday night at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre.  A sold out crowd watched ‘The Prince’ […]

‘The Prince’ fights for title in his hometown Saturday night

by Rod Mawhood

 Lucas Bahdi (pictured celebrating after a previous KO victory) brings his perfect 11-0 record into the fight. Photo credit: Falls Boys Promotions   Not many fighters get their first title fight in their hometown.  But not many fighters are Lucas ‘The Prince’ Bahdi.  The Niagara Falls native will put his perfect (11-0) record, with 11 […]

Port Colborne native Emma Koabel is Duke bound

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara Prep product (pictured) just won silver for Team Canada in Argentina. Photo credit: Twitter/Emma Koabel   Last week no fewer than four Canadians were drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) including two in the top-10.  Andrew Nembhard, out of Gonzaga, was selected 31st overall by the Indiana Pacers.  Four short years ago, […]

FireFit arrives in St. Catharines this weekend

by Rod Mawhood

Hundreds of competitors will compete in the Garden City. Photo credit: Facebook/FireFit Championships    A new sporting spectacle of sorts arrives in the Garden City this weekend.  The 2022 St. Catharines FireFit Competition takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Seymour-Hannah Centre parking lot located on St. Paul Street West.  Captain Corey Miller, an 11-year […]

St. Catharines Jr. B Athletics open playoffs at home Friday night

by Rod Mawhood

A’s host Guelph in Best of 5 series. Photo credit: St. Catharines Jr. B Athletics   The Niagara Region’s oldest sporting franchise added a new club to its portfolio this season, and they’re about to embark on their first playoff run. The St. Catharines Jr. B Athletics Lacrosse Club is now part of the St. […]

St. Catharines fighter part of UFC card this Saturday

by Rod Mawhood

 Jasmine Jasudavicius (pictured) making her presence felt in the octagon. Photo credit: UFC   Her last name might not be easy to say, but Jasmine Jasudavicius continues to impress in the mixed martial arts (MMA) world.  After making her Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut, and winning via unanimous decision back in January, Jasudavicius (jazz-da-viss-ee-us is how […]

CFL opening week underway, Ti-Cats set to start season this Saturday

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara native Anthony Federico (pictured back-turned, bottom left) trying to crack Hamilton line-up. Photo credit: Twitter/Hamilton Tiger-Cats   The Canadian Football League (CFL) off-season was definitely a turbulent one.  Many wondered if the league would be able to kick off its season on time as contract, labour and collective bargaining agreements took up most of […]

Canada Summer Games torch officially Niagara bound

by Rod Mawhood

The ceremonial flame left Ottawa Monday afternoon, exactly months before the start of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. The Games take place between August 6 and 21. Pictured is Canadian sprinter Sam Effah on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, June 6, 2022. Photo credit: Niagara Host Society   The Canada Summer Games torch has officially […]

Myer baseball makes it to OFSAA Final Four

by The Niagara Independent

The last time the championship tournament was played in 2019, the Niagara Falls high school earned a silver medal. The young team will look to strike gold this Wednesday in London. Photo credit: Twitter/OFSAA Baseball    Last week in Windsor, the A.N. Myer Marauders baseball team successfully advanced to the Final Four of the OFSAA […]

Paul Coates continues to lead

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines Athletics president named Sportsperson of the Year. Photo credit: Facebook/St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics    For Paul Coates it’s all about giving back.  Years after his sons Dan and Spencer graduated from the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics program, Coates continues to volunteer and serve as Athletics president.  Earlier this week, the now […]

Remembering the Oilers’ 2006 playoff run that rallied a nation

by Nick Redekop

Edmonton Oilers assistant captain Ryan Smyth celebrates with Shawn Horcoff after the latter scored on the San Jose Sharks during the third period of Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference semi-final playoff game in Edmonton, Alberta, May 17, 2006. Photo credit: NHL   It is playoff time again! Many of us are keenly watching […]

The Niagara Falls high school has now made it to OFSAA for boys baseball four out of the last five times the tournament’s been held. Supplied photo.    The last full season of high school baseball occurred in 2019. That year, perennial powerhouse from Niagara Falls A.N. Myer won the SOSSA championship and then went […]

Photo credit: Facebook/Fort Erie Race Track   There’s not too many people, places or things in Niagara that can say they’re celebrating 125 years. Fort Erie Race Track can.  The historic horse racing track opens its doors for the 2022 campaign Tuesday with a first call to the post at 4 pm. Opening Day will […]

Team advanced to championship for first time since 2012. Pictured is the soon-to-be decommissioned Jack Gatecliff Arena in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   Perhaps it’s only fitting that an arena opened in 1938 will feature a championship game in its finale.  Jack Gatecliff Arena, formerly Garden City Arena, will play host to the […]

Buffalo shooting tragedy too close to home for Buffalo Bandits goaltender

by Rod Mawhood

Matt Vinc (pictured) is one of four St. Catharines natives on team. Photo credit: Inside Lacrosse/ Sara Schmidle   Let’s be honest, as someone that grew up in Niagara, travelling over to the United States on one of our four border crossings is almost second nature. Sure the Covid pandemic halted that, but going on a […]

St. Catharines Roma Wolves add League 1 women’s team

by Rod Mawhood

Men’s team home opener is Friday night. Photo credit: Facebook/St. Catharines Roma Wolves   The St. Catharines Roma Wolves inaugural season in Men’s Premier League 1 Ontario was so successful that the club decided to expand and introduce a women’s premier team under their brand.  Roma Wolves League 1 Head of Operations Carmine Provenzano is […]

It’s a family thing for Badgers volleyball

by Rod Mawhood

KJ Robinson (right) signs a letter of intent to play for the Brock men’s volleyball team alongside brother Kersey, who currently plays for the Badgers, and parents Todd and Shelley. Photo credit: Brock Athletics   It’s all in the family for the Brock Badgers men’s volleyball team. Badgers head coach Matthew Ragogna announced his 2022 […]

Bruce Boudreau can’t wait to get ‘home’

by Rod Mawhood

Gabby talks Stanley Cup Playoffs, and his eagerness to return to Niagara. Photo credit: NHLI via Getty Images/Jeff Vinnick    Bruce Boudreau may have just finished one heck of a season behind the bench coaching the Vancouver Canucks, and is currently back where he resides in Pennsylvania, but he can’t wait to get ‘home.’ And […]

Athletics looking for more straight A’s on the floor

by Rod Mawhood

The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics practice inside the brand new Canada Games Park. Photo credit: Facebook/St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics    After an off-season that saw the St. Catharines Athletics brand and organization grow, the Athletics flagship team is set to take to the floor at their new home next Wednesday night (May 11) […]

NHL playoff preview

by Rod Mawhood

Plenty of Niagara connections permeate the 2022 post-season, such as former Niagara IceDogs captain and current New York Ranger Ryan Strome (pictured). Photo credit: Associated Press/Jay LaPrete   You don’t have to like Sheldon Keefe’s words to describe the Toronto Maple Leafs first round NHL Playoff Series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it certainly […]

River Lions set to roar again

by Rod Mawhood

Season begins in less than a month. Pro hoops team arrived in Niagara in 2015. Photo credit: CEBL/Niagara River Lions   It’s hard to believe that the Niagara River Lions are entering their seventh season of entertaining basketball fans across the region. A lot has changed since 2015, including the league the River Lions play […]

Niagara golf season in full swing

by Rod Mawhood

 ‘Ladies Try Golf series’ is here too. Sawmill Golf Course in Fenwick. Photo credit: Facebook/Sawmill Golf Course   As the temperature, finally, begins to climb here in Niagara, golf courses across the Region continue to open their greens.  There are over 40 golf courses in Niagara, and most are now open for the 2022 season.  […]

Jackfish return to the diamond in 30 days

by Rod Mawhood

The team kicks off its expanded 42-game schedule at home in Welland against the Brantford Red Sox on May 19. Photo credit: Twitter/Welland Jackfish   One month today, two words baseball fans love to hear will be music to their ears in the Rose City: “Play ball!” The Welland Jackfish return for their third season […]

Niagara Sports Wall of Fame accepting nominations

by Rod Mawhood

  Committee (pictured, 2019) hoping to induct six new members in January of 2023. Gord Singleton located far right, back row of image. Photo credit: Niagara Sports Wall of Fame   The average Niagara native doesn’t know the name Gord Singleton.  Yet, he’s one of the biggest names to ever participate in the sport of […]

Raptors first round playoff opponent determined

by Rod Mawhood

 Dinos headed to the City of Brotherly Love for Game 1 Saturday. Photo credit: Getty Images/Mark Blinch   The Toronto Raptors likely won’t say it publicly, but they got the first round playoff opponent they wanted. The team was (3-1) against the Philadelphia 76ers this season. It’s hard to fathom that Toronto would want to […]

Niagara IceDogs head coach and general manager suspended

by Rod Mawhood

Team also fined $150,000.   To say it’s been an interesting week for the Niagara IceDogs would be a massive understatement.  Just hours after losing in Sudbury Tuesday night, and finding out they wouldn’t make the Ontario Hockey League playoffs for the first time since they arrived in Niagara back in 2007, the OHL issued […]

GOJHL playoffs set to go

by Rod Mawhood

All six Niagara based teams qualify for the postseason. Photo credit: Twitter/Fort Erie Meteors    It’s playoff time in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. A slightly shortened 48-game regular season ended Sunday night with all six Niagara based teams in the Golden Horseshoe Conference set for the post-season.  The St. Catharines Falcons were the […]

Ceremony is set for tonight. Photo credit: NHL/Buffalo Sabres    After 51 years behind the mic, 79-year-old Rick Jeanneret will have his name raised to the rafters at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY this evening (Friday, April 1). Jeanneret was born in St. Catharines, and still makes the commute to Buffalo from his home in […]

Badgers women’s basketball and men’s hockey both off to nationals as well. Photo credit: Brock Athletics/Mackenzie Gerry   The Brock Badgers men’s basketball team brought a packed Bob Davis Gymnasium to a frenzy Saturday afternoon. The Badgers won their first provincial title since 1992, defeating the Queen’s Gaels 95-75.  “We fight. Every day is about […]

Knights shine in 2021-22

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara College Athletics put together an incredible year at both the team and individual level. Amongst the many achievements was a bronze medal for women’s basketball at the provincial finals last week. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Knights   While the Brock University Badgers are garnering a lot of attention lately, and well deserved I might add, […]

Banner season for Brock Badgers

by Rod Mawhood

This past weekend, both the Brock Badgers women’s hockey team and women’s volleyball team (pictured) were crowned provincial champions. Photo credit: Brock Athletics   No fewer than five Brock Badgers teams are still standing. Can we call it March Madness, Canadian university style? In a span of 10 hours on Saturday, the Brock Badgers women’s […]

The Garden City native (bottom row, second from right) pictured with Canada’s gold medal-winning women’s eight rowing crew in Tokyo last August. Photo credit: Twitter/Team Canada   As a reporter sometimes stories just fall in your lap.  Sometimes you’ve got to dig, and sometimes you run into athletes like Kristen Kit.  The 33-year-old St. Catharines […]

Former Niagara IceDogs captain afflicted by ongoing conflict in Ukraine

by Rod Mawhood

Ivan Lodnia, who played two years in St. Catharines for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, is of Ukrainian heritage and still has family in the war-torn country. Photo credit: Twitter/Minnesota Wild    Quick question off the top.  How many current NHL players hail from Ukraine? The answer may shock many. Zero. Former Niagara IceDogs captain […]

Conflict in Ukraine enters the sporting world

by Rod Mawhood

Numerous organizations and athletes denounce Putin, with Russia facing bans from several international leagues. Alex Ovechkin (pictured with Putin in 2014) called for an end to the war in Ukraine. Photo credit: Reuters/Ria Novosti   You can’t go too far these days without reading about, hearing, or watching the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. […]

Another gold medal, and MVP honours, for Brianne Jenner

by Rod Mawhood

Raised in St. Catharines, the hockey superstar (pictured, right) remembers her time in the city fondly. Photo credit: HHOF-IIHF Images/Andre Ringuette   The story, journey, and resume continues to grow for Brianne Jenner.  The gold medalist, and tournament MVP in Beijing, is coming off tying a women’s record for scoring the most goals in women’s […]

Canada captures 26 medals in Beijing

by Rod Mawhood

Tied for second most in the country’s history. Photo credit: Getty Images/Lars Baron via CBC   Many on Team Canada’s 2022 Olympic squad landed back on Canadian soil Monday, and with them brought an impressive 26 medals in tow.  The Red and White captured four gold, eight silver and 14 bronze medals at the Beijing […]

Former local major leaguer wants to continue to give back to youth

by Rod Mawhood

Scott Bullett talks spring training, as well as Black History Month.    As the Major League Baseball lockout continues, it was time to reach out to a former MLB player that calls Niagara home. Scott Bullett played parts of four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs back in the 1990s. Part of his […]

Sports teams in Niagara and across the province receive Valentine’s Day gift

by Rod Mawhood

Photo credit: Niagara IceDogs   It was music to many sporting franchises ears on Valentine’s Day.  On Monday, the Ontario government announced it will speed up the province’s reopening timeline.  In terms of sports, that means locally the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the six regional-based Junior B teams of the […]

The Super Bowl hits Hollywood

by Rod Mawhood

SoFi Stadium (pictured), home of the Los Angeles Rams, is just 11 miles south of Hollywood Hills. Photo credit: LA Rams   We’re just hours away from the biggest single sporting event in the world as the LA Rams clash with the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56.  Over 91-million viewers, world-wide, tuned into last year’s […]

Niagara River Lions season tickets on sale this week

by Rod Mawhood

Ticketholders will be able to enjoy an extended schedule this season, as the CEBL has expanded to 10 teams. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara River Lions   The Niagara River Lions roar will be heard longer this year.  The River Lions, and the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), have announced their 2022 schedule. This season’s schedule has […]

Rempel relishes Paralympic experience

by Rod Mawhood

Paralympic medalist, author, keynote speaker, and Niagara native Kevin Rempel. Photo credit: Keynote Speakers Canada   As the Beijing Olympics officially begin Friday with the opening ceremonies, we continue to focus on Niagara athletes with connections to the games, past or present.  One such athlete is Vineland native, and former Paralympian, Kevin Rempel.  Everyone’s Olympic […]

Two ex-Niagara IceDogs, and one former Ridley College Tiger Beijing bound

by Rod Mawhood

Ho-Sang (left) and Jenner (right) for Canada; Smith for China.   “I can’t even describe it.” Those are the words of former Niagara IceDog Josh Ho-Sang after being named to Team Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey roster. “The fact that I was even on (Hockey Canada’s) radar means a lot to me, but I wouldn’t have […]

NHL at the halfway point

by Rod Mawhood

Former Niagara Falls Canuck and NHLer Keith Jones (pictured) breaks things down. Photo credit: NHL   Quick, raise your hand if you knew long-time NHLer Keith Jones was a former Niagara Falls Canuck. That’s what I thought. This reporter didn’t know Jones played in the Honeymoon Capital either.  Jones put up some fantastic numbers during […]

Final four set in NFL playoffs

by Rod Mawhood

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen exits the field after a heartbreaking OT loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night. The Bills were the only underdog team not to win on Divisional weekend. Photo credit: Buffalo News/James P. McCoy   If you’re a Buffalo Bills fan, like many here in Niagara, your thought is likely […]

Raptors analyst talks team’s progress at midway point of season

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara Falls native, and Niagara College Broadcasting alum, Amy Audibert breaks things down. Photo credit: Niagara College/Robert Deak   The (21-21) Toronto Raptors officially reached the midway point of their season earlier this week.  The NBA, and its 30 teams, play 82-game schedules.  The 2021-22 campaign has been another interesting one for the Raptors, who […]

Smrek soars to NCAA MVP honours

by Rod Mawhood

The 6-foot-9 Welland native recently finished off her rookie season with the Wisconsin Badgers women’s volleyball team as a national champion. Photo credit: University of Wisconsin Badgers   To say Anna Smrek has the genes to be an impressive athlete would be a massive understatement.  And at just 18 years old. she’s already reached heights […]

GOJHL teams trying to navigate latest pause in play

by Rod Mawhood

For whatever reason, the GOJHL doesn’t qualify as an “elite” league under provincial guidelines. Photo credit: Pexels/Tony Schnagl   They’re ready to play, and wish they could be.  The latest COVID-19 restrictions meant that all six of the Niagara-based Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) Golden Horseshoe Conference teams had their seasons paused for at […]

Bills win AFC East, Colts crash, and Raiders-Chargers produce instant classic

by Rod Mawhood

NFL Wild Card Weekend is set. Locally, the Buffalo Bills will host the New England Patriots on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 8:15 pm. It will be the two teams’ third meeting in just five weeks. Photo credit: AP/Steven Senne   The NFL is calling it ‘Super Wild Card Weekend.’ For the first time the league’s […]

Local sports paused, other than OHL Niagara IceDogs

by Rod Mawhood

Photo credit: Twitter/Niagara IceDogs   The latest COVID-19 protocols across the province have put a pause on local sports here in Niagara. Arenas and gym doors are locked, while minor hockey, basketball, volleyball and curling have had the rest of their seasons either postponed or canceled.  The Brock University Badgers and Niagara College Knights have […]

What NFL playoff picture looks like with one week to go in regular season

by Rod Mawhood

The Bills clinched a playoff berth Sunday with their win over the Falcons. If Buffalo beats the New York Jets on Jan. 9, the team wins the AFC East division for the second consecutive year. Photo credit: USA Today Sports/Mark Konezny   One week.  That’s all that remains in the 2021-22 NFL regular season. And […]

Niagara sports – year in review

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines’ Kristen Kit (bottom, second from right) winning Olympic gold with the women’s eight rowing crew was one of only several momentous sports accomplishments achieved by an athlete with a direct Niagara connection in 2021. Photo credit: Canadian Olympic Committee/Lean Hennel   It’s hard to believe that 2022 is here.  2021, despite its cancellations, […]

Former Niagara River Lion joins NBA defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks

by Rod Mawhood

CEBL continues to garner respect across the basketball world. Photo credit: Niagara River Lions   It was an early Christmas present for a former Niagara River Lion, and the organization. Two days before the holiday, the River Lions were thrilled to announce that Javin DeLaurier signed with the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball League […]

‘Twas the night before Christmas – Niagara sports edition

by Rod Mawhood

  ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Niagara Region, not a sport was playing, not even on the TV at the Merritton Legion The stockings were hung by the Meridian Centre with care, In hopes that sports soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their River Lions beds […]

Covid wreaks havoc on sports – again

by Rod Mawhood

Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. The Flames franchise currently has over 30 members, including Sutter, in Covid protocol. The NHL, NBA, and NFL are all suffering case surges and havibg to postpone games due to the pandemic’s latest wave. Photo credit: NHL Perhaps it’s time to change the name Covid-19.  The average person doesn’t […]

Boxing and MMA highlight a big weekend in Niagara sport

by Rod Mawhood

Photo credit: Boxing Ontario   Fans of the sweet science and cage fighting will have their fill this weekend in Niagara. Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are front and centre in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls starting Friday evening. ‘Murphy’s Gloves’ is an annual fundraiser that supports youth initiatives at the St. Catharines Boxing […]

Overtime haunts CFL and NFL fans in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (8) hugs linebacker Curtis Newton (44) after losing the 108th CFL Grey Cup at home in Hamilton to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. The overtime loss came shortly after the Buffalo Bills suffered their own heartbreaking OT defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers […]

Sport of curling continues to grow in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Participants enjoy a match at the Niagara Falls Curling Club (NFCC). Photo credit: Facebook/NFCC   Fresh off the Canadian Olympic Trials, in which Jennifer Jones and Brad Gushue earned the right to represent the Red and White in Beijing, the sport of curling continues to grow in Niagara. Stephen Fish is a coach, promoter, and […]

Two Niagara natives crowned Vanier Cup champions

by Rod Mawhood

 Valvano of St. Catharines (#29, seated front-centre), Andrews of Niagara Falls (#20, seated front-right) bring home Canadian university football championship as part of powerhouse Western Mustangs squad. Photo credit: Western Mustangs   There were two local players crowned Vanier Cup champions this past Saturday in Quebec City. Fifth year full back Antonio Valvano of St. […]

Brock Badgers enter holiday break in impressive fashion

by Rod Mawhood

It’s been an impressive return to sports for a number of Brock Badgers teams. Currently, no less than five of Brock’s sports programs are ranked in the Top-5 of the U Sports weekly rankings, including the women’s volleyball team (pictured). Photo credit: Brock Athletics   The global pandemic shutdown Badgers Athletics in March of 2020. Twenty […]

Photo credit: Pexels/Bk Aguilar    Signing up for or participating in sports may not be as easy as most would think, especially here in Niagara. That according to the Ontario Sport Network (OSN), which recently announced the launch of a new awareness campaign. ‘This is Your Sport’ highlights the importance of sport and recreation across […]

NHL at the quarter pole

by Rod Mawhood

Updating all local and IceDogs connections. Pictured is Carter Verhaeghe. The former Niagara IceDogs captain has an impressive six goals, 15 points in 19 games this season as part of the league-leading Florida Panthers. Photo credit: Icon Sportswire/Mark LoMoglio   By the end of this upcoming weekend, almost every NHL team will have played at […]

The Beautiful Game continues to grow, including here in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Canadian men’s national team has vaulted 40 spots in the world rankings over the past five years. Pictured Canada plays Mexico in wintry conditions with snowy sidelines in Edmonton last week. Photo credit: Boston Globe   It was a week ago tonight that Canada Soccer took another step forward in making history, winning 2-1 over […]

Pitcher Robbie Ray at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Photo credit: Sportsnet    What a difference a year makes. Robbie Ray is about to become a rich man.  Not to say that his one-year $8-million dollar contract this past season was nothing to turn his nose up to, but Ray now has ‘Cy Young Award’ winner beside […]

World Series Champion started his baseball career in St. Catharines

by Rod Mawhood

Then-Atlanta Braves trainer Mike Frostad (left) comes off the field with Brian McCann (center) and manager Brian Snitker during a game against the Miami Marlins in April 2019. Photo credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/John Amis   Twenty-six years after starting his professional baseball career in St. Catharines, Mike Frostad can now say he’s a World Series […]

Niagara River Lions head coach and general manager Victor Raso. The former CEBL Coach of the Year, along with co-general manager Antwi Atuahene, will return for another season after re-signing with the team earlier this week. Photo credit: CEBL    The Niagara River Lions have announced that head coach and general manager Victor Raso will […]

Ex-NHL goaltender and coach back providing guidance in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Long-time Detroit Red Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard offering instruction to attendees at a 2018 elite training camp in Rochester, NY. Photo credit: Twitter/Legacy Global Sports    Talk about full circle. He began coaching goaltenders in Niagara 27 years ago. Three Stanley Cups later, Jim Bedard is back in the region he calls home doing what […]

Eichel Vegas bound

by Rod Mawhood

Sabres had no choice but to deal disgruntled forward. Photo credit: Boston Globe   Finally. After a public feud that lasted eight months, he left the Buffalo Sabres no choice. Disgruntled forward, and former captain, Jack Eichel was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights along with a 2023 third round draft pick for forwards Peyton […]

Sledge hockey league set to slide into Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

Grimsby, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland will all ice teams. Photo credit: Winnipeg Free Press/Ruth Bonneville   A new hockey league is set to take to the ice in Niagara. In fact, four municipalities will feature teams in the Niagara Sledge Hockey League.  All Niagara residents 13 or over, or 12 and under with […]

Mike McRae (centre-left) during his time as lead pitching coach at VCU. McRae, originally from Niagara Falls, was recently named head coach of the College of William & Mary baseball squad. Photo credit: Twitter/VCU Baseball   On Tuesday, it was announced that Niagara Falls, Ontario native Mike McRae will serve as the new head coach […]

Ho-Sang feels ‘understood’ in Toronto

by Rod Mawhood

Former Niagara IceDog loves playing in his hometown. Pictured is Ho-Sang in pre-season action as a Maple Leaf before signing a deal with the team’s AHL affiliate earlier this month. Photo credit: Toronto Marlies   His play not only garnered the attention of the hockey world, but a few of his words also stood out.  […]

New era begins for Toronto Raptors

by Rod Mawhood

Raptors’ point guard Fred VanVleet. Many view the 27-year-old as Kyle Lowry’s natural successor and hope the sixth-year player can lead Toronto into the next era. Photo credit: AP/Mary Altaffer   The Toronto Raptors first regular season home game in Toronto in 600 days didn’t exactly go as planned. The Raptors tipped off their season […]

Coaching mentorship programs having big impact on pair of local athletes

by Rod Mawhood

Carley Blomberg in action as a Brock Badger. Blomberg is one of a pair of Niagara athletes to be recently awarded the opportunity to take part in a selective coaching mentorship program. Photo credit: Brock Athletics   Many athletes consider making the transition to coaching, but few do, or at least get the opportunity to […]

Two historic lacrosse organizations to merge

by Rod Mawhood

The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics. The organization will merge with the city’s Jr. B lacrosse club, the St. Catharines Spartans. Photo credit: St. Catharines Athletics   Quick, name the oldest sporting franchise in Niagara? Give up? It dates back to 1877, believe it or not – it’s the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics Lacrosse […]

NHL preview: four Niagara based players discuss their new teams, mental health

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines native Dougie Hamilton. After three seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes and an eventful free agency, Hamilton signed a seven-year, $63-million contract with the New Jersey Devils at the end of July. Photo credit: USA Today Sports/James Guillory   As the puck gets set to drop on another NHL season, four Niagara based players […]

Officials and Games mascot Shelly announce the 2022 torch relay program at Lock 3 beside the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, Oct. 6, 2021. Photo credit: Niagara 2022 Host Society   When you think of Niagara, what first comes to mind? Wineries. Yes.  The casinos. For sure.  But what about the Welland Canal? An engineering […]

IceDogs ready to bark in 2021

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara IceDogs in exhibition action against the Oshawa Generals at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Sept. 20, 2021. Photo credit: Niagara IceDogs/Vivid Eye Photography   A month-long training camp that started with close to 70 players, dozens of cuts, and six exhibition games is in the books, as the Niagara IceDogs are set to […]

Pair of Niagara River Lions sign NBA contracts

by Rod Mawhood

Xavier Sneed in action as a Niagara River Lion. Sneed is one of two players from the St. Catharines-based basketball team to sign an NBA contract this week. Photo credit: CEBL/Matthew Winick   The Niagara River Lions have quickly garnered respect across the basketball world. The River Lions, who play out of the Canadian Elite […]

GOJHL hockey season underway

by Rod Mawhood

Six Niagara based teams make up eight-team Golden Horseshoe Conference. Pictured: the Welland Jr. Canadians get ready for the season earlier this month. Photo credit: Twitter/Welland Jr. Canadians   Frank Pietrangelo breathed a sigh of relief Friday night. The Niagara Falls Canucks were finally back on the ice, playing a real, meaningful game.  The current […]

Bills rebound in South Beach

by Rod Mawhood

Buffalo Bills star quarterback Josh Allen throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Photo credit: USA Today Sports/Sam Navarro   The Buffalo Bills needed a bounce back win in Miami in Week 2, and that’s exactly what they got Sunday, dominating the Dolphins 35-0. The Bills, who dropped a 23-16 […]

High school sports back around the region

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines’ Governor Simcoe Secondary School football team in action against Greater Fort Erie Secondary School, Sept. 2018. Photo credit: Facebook/Governor Simcoe   It certainly seems longer than the 18-plus months it’s been, but a long-standing tradition has returned to Niagara-area high schools. Sports! The Covid-19 pandemic halted organized sports at all levels, including at […]

Canadian tennis has officially arrived

by Rod Mawhood

Montreal native Leylah Fernandez returns a shot during the women’s singles championship final at the US Open, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Photo credit: USTA/Garrett Ellwood   A finals appearance in the women’s championship. A semi-final appearance in the men’s championship. And almost forgotten, and certainly not in the same conversation as the men’s and women’s […]

Jackfish host Baycats to begin playoff run

by Rod Mawhood

Welland Jackfish in action during the team’s inaugural season. Photo credit: Facebook/Welland Jackfish   As Welland Jackfish fans continue to flock to Welland Stadium in record numbers the team began its second playoff run, since arriving in the Rose City, last night at home against the Barrie Baycats.  The (15-15) Jackfish finished fourth in the seven […]

Bills the class of the AFC East once again

by Rod Mawhood

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis (right) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback John Allen in the team’s final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Aug. 28, 2021. Photo credit: AP/Adrian Kraus   As the 101st NFL season is set to kickoff Thursday night in Tampa Bay, when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Buccaneers, we know […]

Hajrullahu still looking to find an NFL home

by Rod Mawhood

St. Catharines kicker Lirim Hajrullahu hoists the Grey Cup after scoring the championship-winning field goal as a Toronto Argonaut, Nov. 26, 2017. Photo credit: Alex D’Addese   The last 18 months have not been normal for all of us, but for St. Catharines’ Lirim Hajrullahu they’ve been downright daunting.  And perhaps Hajrullahu’s background has given […]

With season six weeks away, Niagara IceDogs begin training camp

by Rod Mawhood

Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara IceDogs   There’s been three words missing from local’s vocabulary the past almost 18 months: “Go Dogs Go!” Yes, the Niagara IceDogs last played a game, and hit the ice, at Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines on March 8, 2020.  However, that changed this week as the IceDogs opened training camp […]

2021 NLL Hall of Fame class has a real Niagara feel to it

by Rod Mawhood

 St. Catharines native Steve Toll during the final season of his playing career with the Edmonton Rush in 2012. Toll and friend and fellow St. Catharines native Pat McCready are both part of the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame 2021 class. Photo credit: Twitter/Panther City Lacrosse Club   The 2021 National Lacrosse League (NLL) […]

River Lions look to roar into CEBL final

by Rod Mawhood

River Lions guard Xavier Sneed takes a shot against the Ottawa BlackJacks. Photo credit: CEBL/Matthew Winick The Niagara River Lions earned a bye into CEBL Championship Weekend in Edmonton, and after a 12-day layoff from game action will meet the Fraser Valley Bandits in the semi-final action this evening.  The (10-4) River Lions enter the […]

Niagara’s oldest sporting franchise adds another Ontario championship

by Rod Mawhood

The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics after winning the 2021 Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (OJLL) championship earlier this month. Photo credit: OJLL/Nanticoke Photography The oldest sporting franchise in Niagara, and one of the oldest in the province, added another Ontario championship to its name. The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics Lacrosse club, founded in 1877, […]

Niagara helps propel Canada to impressive medal showing at Tokyo Olympics

by Rod Mawhood

Canadian long-distance runner Mohammed Ahmed (left) with teammate Justyn Knight. Ahmed, who calls St. Catharines home, won silver in the men’s 5000m last week in Tokyo. Knight finished seventh. Photo credit: Twitter/CBC Olympics  It was an Olympics to remember, for more reasons than one. Despite declaring a state of emergency the week before the games […]

Niagara River Lions regular season wraps up this weekend

by Rod Mawhood

Team has already clinched a playoff berth. Photo credit: Niagara River Lions The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was the first professional sports league in Canada to return to play during the pandemic with the 2020 CEBL Summer Series. Less than a year later, a shortened 2021 campaign is set to wrap up with fans […]

“Really proud to represent St. Catharines”

by Rod Mawhood

Garden City native Kristen Kit (bottom row, second from right). Kit and Canada’s women’s eight rowing crew captured gold in Tokyo last week. Photo credit: Twitter/Team Canada There’s no doubt the women have been the story for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics.  As of Monday evening, 13 of the 14 medals won by Canadians were […]

NHL free agent frenzy – Niagara edition

by Rod Mawhood

NHL forward Josh Ho-Sang in action with the New York Islanders. Ho-Sang is one of four former Niagara IceDogs to sign a new contract this week. The Toronto native penned a Professional Tryout deal with his hometown organization Wednesday. Photo credit: AP/Tony Gutierrez Over 70 National Hockey League (NHL) players signed new contracts this week, […]

Burkholder back in the Rose City

by Rod Mawhood

 Dave Burkholder. The veteran bench boss is set to take over the Welland Jr. Canadians. Photo credit: Twitter/Welland Jr. Canadians Life has truly come full circle for Dave Burkholder. The now 59-year-old – who grew up watching the Welland Jr. Canadians, then played for the franchise, then watched his son skate for the team – […]

Niagara well represented at Olympic Games

by Rod Mawhood

Canada’s Men’s Four rowing Olympic contingent. The crew features two Niagara connections: St. Catharines Rowing Club’s Jakub Buczek (far back) and Brock University’s Luke Gadsdon (second to back). Photo credit: Team Canada/Canadian Olympic Committee The Tokyo Olympics officially kicked off Friday with the opening ceremonies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dampen this year’s games […]

Canadian golfers excel at British Open, set sights on Olympics

by The Niagara Independent

Just four weeks after an excellent performance at the U.S. Open, Mackenzie Hughes was still playing great golf last weekend entering the final round of the storied British Open. Hughes was seven under-par after three days and entered the tournament’s fourth round tied for fifth.

Niagara’s own NBA champion

by Rod Mawhood

As the National Basketball Association Finals continue, and the growth of basketball continues in this country, one has to think of Niagara’s only NBA Champion: Mike Smrek.

Blue Jays at the all-star break

by Rod Mawhood

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu. The team’s bullpen is the focus heading into the second half of the season. Photo credit: Getty Images/Mark Brown There’s two ways to look at the Toronto Blue Jays, and their record, at the Major League Baseball All-Star break.  Sitting at (45-42) on the season, and only […]

Canadian tennis on the upswing

by Rod Mawhood

No matter the result of Denis Shapovalov’s semi-final match against top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Friday, there’s no denying that this week’s results from Wimbledon have solidified Canadian tennis’ position around the globe.

Six Pack Recruiting is branching out

by Rod Mawhood

She was sitting in a restaurant with her husband three years ago when the proverbial lightbulb went off for Dale Melnick.

Niagara IceDogs release 2021-22 schedule

by Rod Mawhood

As things slowly but surely return to normal across Niagara, sports are no different.

The Niagara River Lions began their regular season last week, the Welland Jackfish will begin their season next week, while the Niagara IceDogs released their 2021-22 schedule on Tuesday.

Two all-world goaltenders highlight the 2021 Stanley Cup Final

by Rod Mawhood

There’s no doubt that Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy are the focus of both combatants and most fans as the 2021 Stanley Cup Final began Monday night in Tampa Bay.

Niagara River Lions season underway

by Rod Mawhood

When you land players from two of the most storied basketball programs in North America, you’re already ahead of most when it comes to recruiting.

Niagara Peninsula native Mackenzie Hughes puts on commendable performance at U.S. Open

by The Niagara Independent

Just after 4 p.m. EST on Sunday the retiring CEO of the USGA (United States Golf Association), Mike Davis, stepped up to the 1st tee announcer’s microphone at Torrey Pines Golf Course in California and said, “from Canada, Mackenzie Hughes”.

‘The Fort’ resumes racing

by Rod Mawhood

It’s amazing to think about the history of Fort Erie Race Track.

It all began in November of 1896, when the Fort Erie Jockey Club and its president John Hood put the wheels in motion to break ground for racing in Fort Erie.

Her resume speaks for itself, but one thing is missing: an Olympic appearance.

That last accomplishment can be, and will be, checked off this year for Kristen Kit.

IceDogs draft 16 players, including two with Niagara connections

by Rod Mawhood

Dawson Lukey in action with the Southern Tier Admirals in 2020. Lukey was the Niagara IceDogs’ final pick of the OHL Priority Selection draft. The St. Catharines native should feel right at home with his new team. Photo credit: BP Sports Niagara/ Bill Potrecz Like a lot of things these days, it certainly wasn’t the […]

Niagara IceDogs prepare for OHL Draft during unprecedented times

by Rod Mawhood

Imagine trying to build a hockey team and drafting close to a dozen players who haven’t played in a ‘real’ game in more than a year.

Then, add the fact that the players you’re drafting are fifteen and sixteen years old and could have easily added a few inches in height and/or 10 to 20 pounds to their frames.

Toronto Blue Jays set to move to Buffalo – again

by Rod Mawhood

It was thought to be a one-time thing, but the COVID-19 pandemic means the Toronto Blue Jays are heading back to Buffalo, N.Y. this spring and summer.

Sahlen Field is the usual home of the Blue Jays AAA affiliate – the Buffalo Bisons – but the Bisons are playing their home games in Trenton, New Jersey after the Jays announced in early May they would be returning to Buffalo.

Olympic dream comes true for local rower

by Rod Mawhood

Not many athletes, or people in general, can say their dreams came true within 10 years – especially imagining such a lofty dream as p marticipating in the Olympics.

But that’s exactly what happened for Brock Badgers rower Luke Gadsdon.

Niagara Falls native Tre Ford continues to impress

by Rod Mawhood

Football has been part of Tre Ford’s DNA since he was a youngster.

His father introduced the game to him and his twin brother Tyrell here in Niagara.

From volleyball coach to ‘Youth Life Coach’

by Rod Mawhood

Matthew Ragogna. At 27, the Brock University men’s volleyball coach is the youngest coach in all Canadian university sport. Photo credit: Brock News/Stephen Leithwood Coaches across Niagara, the province in fact, have all become zoom-meeting masters over the past year or so. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant different times in the world of sports. For […]

Let’s start in the Canadian/North Division, and who better to talk the Toronto vs. Montreal series than a man who was on the ice the last time these two teams met back in 1979, on the side of the Leafs.

Clutterbuck has that fire back

by Rod Mawhood

As the puck gets set to drop on the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Saturday, there are a number of Niagara natives, or players with connections to the region, who will be in action — but no one with more experience than Cal Clutterbuck.

Multisport court in Welland will be both accessible and inclusive

by Rod Mawhood

The City of Welland is about to become a leader in inclusivity.

The Jumpstart Inclusive Multisport Court will not only benefit the Rose City but the entire Niagara Region and beyond, according to Manager of Recreation and Culture for the City of Welland Richard Dalton.

Former Niagara IceDog in NHL ‘Rookie of the Year’ Conversation

by Rod Mawhood

Not many players in Niagara IceDogs history, heck OHL history, have averaged more than two points a game.

Yet in the 38 games he played in an IceDogs jersey, Jason Robertson did just that, tallying 79 points in those 38 games and winning the Ontario Hockey League scoring title.

Bills bolster defence in 2021 NFL Draft

by Rod Mawhood

The one glaring need for the Buffalo Bills entering the 2021 NFL Draft was a defensive-end pass rusher, or as they’re regularly referred to these days: ‘edge rusher.’

Let’s rewind to February 22, 2020. The Brock Badgers were down 51-32 to the Windsor Lancers heading into the fourth quarter, but managed to outscore their opponents 29-6 over the final 10 minutes in a 61-57 victory.

Billy Burke is used to making phone calls to his players and staff, but last week was a little different.

The Niagara IceDogs head coach, along with his younger brother Joey (IceDogs General Manager), called every one of his players to inform them that the 2020-21 OHL (Ontario Hockey League) season had been cancelled, after a return to play plan could not be worked out with health officials and the provincial government.

Brock University names new Director of Sports

by Rod Mawhood

Called a proven leader in university athletics, with extensive experience supporting the development of student-athletes and coaches, Brock University has named Melissa Krist its new Director of Sports.

Alex Nedeljkovic taking his game to another level

by Rod Mawhood

It’s astonishing to think Alex Nedeljkovic cleared NHL waivers just a few months ago.

The Carolina Hurricanes netminder, and former Niagara IceDog, could have been picked up by any other club, now he’s near the top in every NHL goaltending category.

Young athletes and the Covid-19 pandemic

by Rod Mawhood

As a sports talk-show radio host I often receive guest requests and suggestions.

A couple of weeks back I received a response to a tweet in regard to young athletes and their mental health through the Covid-19 pandemic. I immediately started looking into sports psychologists here in Niagara and came across the name Dr. Chris Friesen in Grimsby.

Maple Leafs make biggest splash at NHL Trade Deadline

by Rod Mawhood

Every team in the North (Canadian) Division made moves on NHL Trade Deadline Day, but it was the Toronto Maple Leafs that made the biggest splash.

Maple Leafs General Manager, and Brock University Sports Management graduate, Kyle Dubas was the busiest of the seven Canadian general managers.

Tinnish’s tenure with Blue Jays continues

by Rod Mawhood

It’s been 20 years since Andrew Tinnish last donned a Brock Badgers baseball uniform.

Since then, the Burlington native has traveled the globe working in the sport he loves, and doing so for Canada’s only Major League Baseball franchise.

Thorold’s Tyler Angle signs with the Columbus Blue Jackets

by Rod Mawhood

Tyler Angle continues to prove his doubters wrong.
In fact, he uses his naysayers as extra-motivation.
The 20-year old Thorold native was expected to be playing his overage season in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) with the Windsor Spitfires this year, instead he just signed an NHL contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets and is averaging a point per game with the Blue Jackets AHL (American Hockey League) affiliate – the Cleveland Monsters.

Former Duke Blue Devil captain signs with Niagara River Lions

by Rod Mawhood

There aren’t too many basketball programs bigger than the Duke Blue Devils.
The perennial college basketball power house has churned out dozens of legendary NBA stars including newly acquired Toronto Raptor Rodney Hood, and Canada Basketball standout RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks.

2021 Toronto Blue Jays Season Preview

by Rod Mawhood

They will definitely be improved, but can they make the jump to the elite of the American League or more importantly the American League East?
Let’s preview the 2021 Toronto Blue Jays.

Jackfish commit to the Rose City long-term

by Rod Mawhood

The Welland Jackfish made it official earlier this week, signing a six-year lease with the City of Welland.
The Jackfish, members of the Intercounty Baseball League, arrived in the Rose City in 2019 and immediately gained a following welcoming over 15,000 fans to Welland Stadium – or “The Pond” as it’s affectionately known.

Niagara Falls native part of all female Toronto Raptors broadcast

by Rod Mawhood

When you look up the definition of hard work paying off, Amy Audibert’s bio and story should appear.

The Niagara Falls native is set to make Canadian Broadcasting history tomorrow night when she’ll be a part of TSN’s all female broadcast crew working the Toronto Raptors – Denver Nuggets game.

Owen Diodati rollin’ with the Tide in Alabama

by Rod Mawhood

There’s something about the bases being loaded and Owen Diodati at the dish.
The 19-year old Niagara Falls native hit his third grand slam of the season as the University of Alabama Crimson Tide rallied to outscore their interstate rivals – The University of Southern Alabama – 11-8 in recent NCAA Baseball action.

Bisons announce coaches

by Rod Mawhood

The Toronto Blue Jays have announced their minor league coaching appointments.
The Blue Jays named Casey Candaele, the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons next manager. The former Bisons infielder and American Association All-Star becomes the 22nd manager of the Bisons during the modern era.

Walter Gretzky remembered

by Rod Mawhood

He was known as the ‘Ultimate Hockey Dad.’
Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne, passed away at the age of 82 last Thursday and the tributes have not stopped.

Top Level Soccer is back in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

It’s hard to believe the St. Catharines Club Roma Wolves franchise dates back to its founding in 1967.
The team enjoyed stops in the Canadian Soccer League (CSL), the National Soccer League and the Canadian Professional Soccer League.

Thomas and Roberts blazing a trail for others

by Rod Mawhood

Black History Month may have wrapped up this past weekend, but two former Niagara IceDogs are still forging ahead in their effort to grow the game of hockey for minorities around the world.

Battle of the bulge affects pro athletes too

by Rod Mawhood

It’s something that inflicts the majority of the population at some point in their lives.
Weight gain.

Super Saturday for current and former Niagara IceDog goaltenders

by Rod Mawhood

Sometimes an email or message can just brighten your day.
That was the case Saturday afternoon when the Niagara IceDogs sent out an email titled: ‘Tynan joins Iowa Wild on ATO’

Buffalo Bisons sign long term agreement with Major League Baseball

by Rod Mawhood

It’s hard to believe that the Buffalo Bisons are entering their ninth season of affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Former IceDog Tomasino turns pro

by Rod Mawhood

We’ve entered the third week of February, and Phil Tomasino still hasn’t celebrated Christmas with his family.
It was a whirlwind end to 2020, and the first six weeks of 2021 have been no different for the former Niagara IceDogs forward.

History on ice: How Michael Nicholson became a hockey trailblazer

by Stephen Leithwood

When Michael Nicholson (BA ’70) was named captain of what was then known as the Brock Generals men’s hockey team in the fall of 1968, his teammate Michael Rohatynsky (BA ’71) thought little other than it was a deserving honour.
“At the time when Mike was named captain, we didn’t see it as a big deal,” says Rohatynsky. “No question Mike was our leader and he had every right to be our captain.”

From Niagara to the Philippines National Team – the Lora Mateo story

by Rod Mawhood

There’s not many people in Canada that can say the first sport they tried was rugby. But Niagara Falls native Lora Mateo is one of those people.
“All my cousins were older than me, and they hyped up the sport so much, and I needed something to do during high school and they recommended rugby and the first tryout I ever did, it was something I fell in love with,” Mateo explained.

Fonthill native and CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman joins TiCats

by Rod Mawhood

Growing up in Fonthill, Chris Van Zeyl was like most youngsters across Niagara. He played a wide range of sports, but somehow he settled on football.
From St. Alexander Catholic Elementary in Fonthill, to Notre Dame College (High) School in Welland, to McMaster University in Hamilton, to the Canadian Football League (CFL), Van Zeyl’s football journey has been an interesting one.

Wells relishing his Edmonton Oilers call-up

by Rod Mawhood

I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with and interviewing thousands of athletes over the past almost three decades spent working in this interesting business.
From a professional level, two of the finest athletes to deal with were former St. Catharines Blue Jay and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen and all-time Toronto Argos great Mike “Pinball” Clemons.

Blue Jays spend big in off-season acquisitions

by Rod Mawhood

The Toronto Blue Jays were rumoured to be in on basically every free-agent available this off-season. It seemed as if every day there was another story about a player the Jays would be making an offer to, or trying to acquire.

The Bills will be back

by Rod Mawhood

The Kansas City Chiefs proved why they’re the defending Super Bowl Champions.
Despite an early 9-0 lead, thanks to a muffed punt, the Buffalo Bills were thoroughly dismantled in a 38-24 AFC Championship Game final.

Buffalo Bills a win away from the Super Bowl

by Rod Mawhood

January 23, 1994.
Twenty-seven years and one day later after their last appearance in the AFC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills will take on Kansas City this upcoming Sunday evening with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Bring on the Ravens

by Rod Mawhood

Just over 24 hours after securing their first playoff win in a quarter century, the second seeded Buffalo Bills were told they would be hosting their first ever night playoff game.
The only question – who would they be facing next Saturday night at Bills Stadium? Would it be the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Baltimore Ravens?

Buffalo Bills ready for playoff football

by Rod Mawhood

There’s not a hotter team entering the National Football League playoffs than the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills clinched the second seed in the AFC, a week after claiming their first division title since 1995, with an annihilation of the Miami Dolphins. 56-26 was the final.

2021 sports predictions – local and beyond

by Rod Mawhood

Happy New Year!
The year 2020 will never be forgotten, in particular from the world of sports.
One of the most telling sports pictures (now GIFs) of the year that just passed, that expanded well beyond the realm of athletics, and one that many people have forgotten, was NBAer Rudy Gobert touching all the microphones that lay in front of him at the podium after a Utah Jazz game – after he tested positive for the Coronavirus.

Niagara Falls native working World Junior tournament as linesman

by Rod Mawhood

It’s no secret that many athletes want to stay involved in sports in some way after their playing careers come to an end.
Whether it’s coaching, managing, scouting – athletes want to give back or get something more from the game they had dedicated so many hours to in trying to perfect or master.

Puck drop on OHL season delayed again

by Rod Mawhood

It’s definitely the tale of two leagues when it comes to seeing or watching live hockey over the next few months.

While the National Hockey League released its 2021 schedule this week, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), home of the Niagara IceDogs, had to delay the start to its season once again.

Buffalo back on top of AFC East

by Rod Mawhood

Josh Allen wasn’t even born the last time the Buffalo Bills won the AFC East.
Now he’s at the helm of a team that has won their first division title since 1995.

NFL kicker punted back to St. Catharines due to work visa issue

by Rod Mawhood

The year 2020 will go down in history as one we’ll all try and forget.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its protocols and restrictions affected many locally, nationally and internationally. Cancellations and postponements were also the norm when it came to the sports world.

Lots of local content in World Juniors

by Rod Mawhood

Ratings for the World Junior Hockey Championships are always big, but throw in the COVID-19 pandemic with more people at home, no fans allowed in the arena, and the 2021 Championships could set a ratings record.
This year’s tournament begins on Christmas Day from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

Baseggio gets Kraken

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara Falls native Director of Pro Scouting for NHL’s newest franchise

He’s certainly not a household name in Niagara, but he has one of the most important positions with the NHL’s newest franchise.

Jackfish sign former major leaguer

by Rod Mawhood

The Welland Jackfish play their home games out of Welland Stadium – affectionately known as ‘The Pond.’

The second year franchise, in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL), has done everything right off the field in terms of branding and promotion.

Deadline looms for local Jr. B hockey clubs

by Rod Mawhood

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the local sports scene.

The Niagara IceDogs, in conjunction with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), have pushed their start date back to Feb. 4, 2021.

Scouting during a pandemic

by Rod Mawhood

Imagine being on the road, at different arenas, in countries all over the world, for over two decades and all of a sudden it comes to a complete stop.
That’s the case for thousands of hockey scouts across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who call St. Catharines home.

Pat Hentgen It’s hard to believe that Pat Hentgen’s illustrious baseball career started right here in St. Catharines The Detroit Michigan native was just seventeen years old when he was drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 1986 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. A few days later he was assigned to […]

Raptors go small in NBA Draft

by Rod Mawhood

The Toronto Raptors entered Wednesday’s NBA Draft with the 29th and 59th overall picks over the course of two rounds.
Unlike the NHL and NFL drafts where seven rounds make up hundreds of selections or the 40 rounds in Major League Baseball – the NBA Draft is just two rounds where a total of 60 players are selected.

Ng makes history with the Miami Marlins

by Rod Mawhood

Fresh off The Niagara Independent’s feature on longtime Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers administrator and executive Ellen Harrigan last week, the Miami Marlins made history themselves naming Kim Ng the first female General Manager in major sports history.

Talk about paying your dues, Ng started in baseball over 30 years ago as an intern with the Chicago White Sox.

World Series Champion started her baseball career in St. Catharines

by Rod Mawhood

There was a local, Niagara, connection on the World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ellen Harrigan – Director of Baseball Administration with the Dodgers – was once the General Manager of the St. Catharines Blue Jays. In fact she was hired by the Jays as an 18-year old.

Brock alum receives award for life-saving efforts

by Stephen Leithwood

Chris Trivieri’s job isn’t for everyone, but for him and the athletes under his wing, it means everything in the world.
As the head athletic therapist for the Niagara IceDogs Trivieri (BPhEd ’12) never stops brainstorming worse-case scenarios.

Getting athletes to their peak performance

by Rod Mawhood

What happens when you combine body function, emotion, and training techniques into one?
You get Sport Performance.
It’s a term we’re hearing more and more throughout the sporting world as teams and organizations hire specialists to deal with their respective athletes.

Niagara IceDogs will return to the ice in 2021

by Rod Mawhood

It’s official.
The Niagara IceDogs, along with the Ontario Hockey League, will return to action on Feb. 4, 2021.
OHL Commissioner David Branch made the announcement Thursday morning.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.’

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

“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.”

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 […]

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.

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.

‘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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

IceDogs off to solid start

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs were the fifth ranked major junior team in the country to start the season, and despite a hiccup in Peterborough last Thursday night have lived up to the early hype in the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference standings.
The IceDogs sit at (3-1) on the season after picking up four of a possible six points this past weekend.
Thursday in Peterborough, Niagara jumped out to a 2-1 first period lead but was shutout the rest of the way.

Friday Football has all the makings of a classic

by Kevin Vallier

Football fans in Niagara Falls will be treated to what is expected to be a competitive and entertaining high school gridiron battle this afternoon between Westlane-Stamford and A.N. Myer. The game will be played at Stamford and is the first football game played there since their football program merged with Westlane. The Junior teams play at 1 p.m. while the Senior squads kickoff at 3 p.m.

While still favored to come out with a victory, Myer knows they are going into a hornet’s nest at the smaller confines of Stamford High.

A trio of former NHLers now leading local junior B hockey clubs

by Rod Mawhood

Quick hockey trivia question.

Name a league with just eight teams, that features a Stanley Cup Champion and two former first round National Hockey League picks as head coaches?

The answer – the Golden Horseshoe Junior B hockey league that consists of six teams from right here in the Niagara Region.

St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, Thorold and Pelham are the six teams that hail from Niagara, while Hamilton and Lockport, NY round out the eight-team league.

Making the IceDogs feel and look good

by Rod Mawhood

There’s an adage – look good, feel better.

That saying definitely rings true for the Niagara IceDogs hockey club, thanks in large part to two individuals who spend countless hours making sure the IceDog players feel good, and look even better.

Pete Dobbin has been with the Ontario Hockey League franchise for 11 seasons as Athletic Therapist, while Nick Hornby is entering his third season as Equipment Manager.

“My typical day starts with a morning workout with the older boys (players),” said Dobbin a 44-year old Niagara Falls native who has also worked with Baseball Canada in the same capacity.

Life of a Leaf Captain

by Kevin Vallier

As the Toronto Maple Leafs wrapped up their training camp in Niagara Falls and begin the exhibition season and then finally onto the games that matter, Niagara resident and former Leafs captain Rick Vaive reflects on the past and eagerly awaits the future. It’s a roster full of talented young guns with Leafs nation having high expectations.
Vaive took part in the alumni game Saturday night at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls. The game was sold out and the crowd was a sea of blue and white Leafs jerseys. Fans came to see their favourite players from years past including the likes of; Vaive, Darcy Tucker, Brad May, Darryl Sittler, Dan Daoust, Al Iafrate, Nik Antropov and of course Doug Gilmour.

Vaive reflects on training camps now and then

by Kevin Vallier

This is the first in a two-part series discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs with former captian Rick Vaive as the Leafs begin training camp in Niagara Falls this weekend.
The Toronto Maple Leafs begin their training camp in Niagara Falls today at the Gale Centre and according to one former Leaf great, training camps aren’t what they use to be.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain and Niagara resident, Rick Vaive says the way training camps are run today is different in many ways then when played but also similar in others. When asked about the often heard comment about players showed up to camp 30 years ago to get into shape whereas today they show up to camp already in shape, Vaive, now 59, says there is some truth to that, but camps were structured differently. “We had two full weeks of two-a-day practices before we played an exhibition game,” said the three-time NHL 50 goal scorer. “Now, guys are playing in exhibition games three days into camp so if you’re not in shape when you arrive, you might get hurt or cut from the team.”

Niagara’s little known elite soccer program

by Kevin Vallier

Heading into its fourth year, the Empire United Niagara soccer program has made a lot of local soccer stakeholders sit up and take notice.
There are four teams, two boys’ teams and two girls’ teams, featuring Canadian kids and Canadian coaches, practicing in Canada but playing their home games in the United States – Buffalo and Rochester. Oh, and the director of the Empire United Niagara is Italian.

Catholic high school football season will be a competitive one

by Kevin Vallier

The Niagara Catholic Athletic Association’s 2018 high school football season is shaping up to be a highly competitive one. St. Paul Patriot’s head coach Rick Oreskovich has a feeling the 2018 season will feature a lot of parity. “I think all teams will be competitive this year. St. Michael’s will be good, they will be an exciting team to watch; Notre Dame is always good and Blessed Trinity will have a good team,” predicts the veteran coach. “If you take any team lightly it will come back to bite you.”
One thing that has helped with creating good competition throughout the league is good coaching. “There are good coaches all around,” said Oreskovich.

IceDogs need Moore

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs felt lucky that Lleyton Moore was still available when it was time to make their first round selection at the 2018 Ontario Hockey League Priority draft back in April.
A few months later the 12th pick overall is making the most of his first OHL training camp, and more importantly making the Niagara brass happy they selected the former Toronto Marlboro minor midget player.
Moore had a fantastic opening week of training camp, and donned an IceDogs jersey for the first time last Friday night in Thorold in a pre-season game against Barrie.
“It was a great experience, and just a surreal moment,” said the 16-year old, 5’8, 165-pound defenceman.
“Being a part of the IceDogs organization is amazing, and playing my first exhibition game was just a great feeling for me and my family. It was an exciting moment.”

High School Football Season Ready to Kick Off

by Kevin Vallier

A.N. Myer football coach Dave Buchanan knows there will be some stiff competition in this year’s top high school football league, and he’s looking forward to it.

“There’s some good parity this season. Teams like Fort Erie, Grimsby and Stanford/Westlane have strong programs and good coaches,” said Buchanan after putting his troops through the paces Thursday afternoon.

Each team will play five games and then head into the playoffs. The championship team coming out of the public board will then play the championship team from the Niagara Catholic board. The winner of that game goes on to compete at the Southern Ontario (SOSSA) championship and potentially the provincial final (OFSSA).

Former first round NHL draft pick is new Niagara IceDogs Associate Coach

by Rod Mawhood

You won’t find too many OHL coaches with the experience of Jody Hull.
And now the sixteen-year NHL veteran, and former first round pick of the Hartford Whalers is bringing that experience to the Niagara IceDogs.
Hull, a 49-year old Petrolia, Ontario native was recently named Associate Coach of the IceDogs, taking over from the departing Ted Dent who accepted a scouting position with the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes.

Steel Blade Classic brings Brock Badgers back to Meridian Centre

by The Niagara Independent

The Brock Badgers are set to take over the Meridian Centre again for one of the biggest shows in Canadian university hockey.
The Badgers men’s hockey team, which made it to the U SPORTS National Championships last season, will open the 2018-19 pre-season with their annual Steel Blade Classic to be held Friday, Sept. 21 in downtown St. Catharines.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the tournament, a single-game, winner-take-all matchup between the Brock Badgers and Guelph Gryphons.

Niagara Olympian training next generation

by Kevin Vallier

Welland resident Kyle Jones has experienced the ultimate highs and the some significant lows throughout his athletic career. Originally from Oakville, the husband and father of two children has been to two Olympic Games and in a very controversial decision was left off a third Canadian Olympic triathlon team.

Jones was a runner early on in his life. As a ten-year-old he raced in some local Kids of Steel races – mini triathlons for youngsters. His performances were impressive.

He credits his introduction to triathlon (swim, bike and run) to his father who would participate in six or seven races a year around Ontario. “We’d go and watch my dad and cheer him on and that was my exposure to the sport early on,” said Jones.

Niagara Spears Prepares Players for Next Steps

by Nicholas Tibollo

For 15 seasons, the Niagara Spears have been successfully fielding high-quality football teams and preparing young prospects for university play.

Formed in 2004 as a non-profit organization, the St.Catharines-based academy is one the region’s most successful sports development programs. Over the years, all three of the program’s age groups have won or played for numerous championships across Ontario’s premier junior football leagues.

St. Catharines Hockey Legend Stan Mikita Remembered

by The Niagara Independent

Chicago Black Hawks and St. Catharines Teepees legendary centreman Stan Mikita died last week, he was 78 years old.
Mikita was born in Sokolce, Czechoslovakia in 1940 but moved to St. Catharines as a young boy where he lived with his aunt and uncle and took on their last name of Mikita. He was a star centre for the Teepees from 1956 to 1959. At the end of the 1959 junior season he went up and played three NHL games with the Black Hawks. He would play every season after that with the Hawks until his retirement in 1980. Only three players have played more games while playing their whole careers with the same team.

Henley Regatta takes effort on and off the water

by Kevin Vallier

As Peter Scott, Chairman of the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta describes it, there are basically two levels of action taking place at the annual event held in St. Catharines – what’s happing on land and what’s happening on the water.

In fact Scott’s been so busy dealing with issues off the water that he hasn’t had time to see a single race. He arrives at 4:45 a.m. and doesn’t return home until close to 9 p.m. where he walks his dog then settles in to review the results of the day. He’s quick to point out that there is an army of volunteers that make one of the top regattas in the world run as smooth as possible.

Burke hoping IceDogs are top dogs in 2019

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara IceDogs are one of just two Ontario Hockey League franchises to make the playoffs every year over the past 11 seasons.
Not an easy accomplishment for a team that arrived in St. Catharines from Mississauga back in 2007.
Since then, only the London Knights can claim to have the same success as the IceDogs.

World class rowing set to launch at Henley

by Kevin Vallier

This weekend more than 2,000 athletes and coaches will descend on Port Dalhousie to compete in one of the most historic and prized rowing competitions on the planet – the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
With crews from all over the world, including the feel good story crew from Zimbabwe, this week-long regatta which gets started Sunday with the Masters competition, is an annual rite of passage for many young rowers. In its 136th year the Henley is, too most crews, the regatta to win.

Brock coach heading to Raptors’ organization

by The Niagara Independent

After leading the Brock Badgers men’s basketball team to a record setting season in terms of wins in 2017-18 and mading it to the National Championships for the first time in 10 years, head coach Charles Kissi is taking his development as a coach to the next level.
Kissi has been named an assistant coach for Raptors 905 — the NBA G League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors — by Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela and ownership group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Jets Soccer Flying High

by Kevin Vallier

Girls soccer in Niagara is taking off like a jet.

The St. Catharines Jets soccer organizations is one of the most well established in the Region and in the province. Founded in 1972 the program has developed hundreds of girls into well rounded soccer players and good kids on and off the field.

Although the structure of the elite travel teams in Niagara for girls soccer has changed, there was a time when the Jets organization was graduating players to NCAA Division One schools on a regular basis. In fact, between 2008 and 2014, 44 girls went on to receive scholarships to play soccer in the United States. But it’s not just about getting to that level. There is a house league division at all age levels where the focus is on exercise and fun.

Canadian Open Tees Off at Glen Abbey

by The Niagara Independent

There will be plenty of Canadian content at this week’s RBC Canadian Open being held just down the QEW at Oakville’s Glen Abbey Golf Club.
Five players from Ontario are in the field including; Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., Corey Conners of Listowel,Ont., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., and former Master champion, Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ontario. They are joined by fellow Canadian PGA players Adam Hadwin (highest ranking Canadian on the PGA Tour) and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C.

Fletcher back home in Niagara after working second straight World Cup

by Rod Mawhood

He’s still jet-lagged, but Joe Fletcher wouldn’t change his part-time job for anything.

The Niagara Falls native just returned from Russia and the 2018 World Cup where he had the opportunity to work nine games – three on the field – and six in the video room.

It was Fletcher’s second consecutive World Cup appearance after refereeing in Brazil in 2014.

Tomasino Invited to Canada Summer U-18 Selection Camp

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Ice Dogs’ Philip Tomasino is among forty-four of the nation’s top under-18 hockey prospects that will gather in Calgary at the end of July to compete for a chance to wear the Maple Leaf on home ice as part of Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team competing at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and Red Deer this August.
The invitations have been extended to four goaltenders, 14 defencemen, and 26 forwards who are developing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Canadian Junior Hockey League.
Tomasino previously represented Canada Black at the World U17 Hockey Challenge last fall.

Maple Leafs fly back into Niagara Falls

by Rod Mawhood

For the third straight year the Toronto Maple Leafs are using the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls as part of their training camp.
In 2016 the Leafs held their development camp in the Honeymoon City, while last year their main training camp was in the Falls.
This year, once again, their main camp will consist of three days of on-ice and off-ice events in Niagara Falls.

Jays Rebuild begins in earnest

by Kevin Vallier

In August of 2015, when Mark Shaprio was hired to run the Toronto Blue Jays organization, he was coming off of a successful rebuild of the Cleveland Indians. Shapiro had been with the Indians since 1991, rising through the ranks of player development to the top of the front office.
When he arrived with the Jays, they had a veteran laden team, having traded off prospects to acquire the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and R.A. Dickey. The lineup featured All Star Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Buehrle. Jays fans fretted that Shapiro would immediately tear apart the team and rebuild it in his own vision but having these stars under contract the Cleveland’s front office tandem, now ensconced at the Rogers Centre, decided to give the playoffs another serious run in 2016 and to a certain extent in 2017. But with many of these stars now gone or on the injured reserved list, the Jays are now featuring their future prospects night in and night out in their sub .500 lineup. The rebuild is officially here.

A new chapter in Niagara College athletics began this week as Welland native Michele O’Keefe returned home to take over the role as Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation.

The former President and CEO of Canada Basketball returns to the Rose City after working in the sport of basketball on and off for 24 years.

Leafs and Sabres dominate free agent frenzy headlines

by The Niagara Independent

Only in Canada.
Only in our home and native land, on our national birthday, on the hottest weekend in many years, could hockey occupy centre stage.
July 1 is not only Canada’s birthday but also “Free Agent Frenzy” day in the NHL. Every July 1 at noon, all NHL teams can start to sign NHL free agents. Weeks of speculation on which free agent will go where lead into the big day.

Has Ricky Ray played his last CFL game?

by Sandy Annunziata

This past week, CFL fans across the country perhaps witnessed the last snap future Hall of Fame quarterback Ricky Ray might ever take. Slow of foot, scrambling outside the safety of his pocket, he was sandwiched between two Calgary Stampeder defenders. Crumpled to the turf, the Argonaut faithful released a collective sigh of panic and under their breath whispered “oh no, not again”. Oft-injured over the tenure of his Toronto career, watching him fitted with a neck brace, lifted onto the trainers cart, only galvanized the fears of his fans, this one included.

Niagara’s NHL Draft Connections

by Rod Mawhood

Akil Thomas is a darn good player. This past weekend he became a stronger person off the ice.

The projected, all season long, first round NHL pick had to sit through 50 picks before his name was finally called Saturday morning in Dallas, Texas, site of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Bisons Baseball is a Great Catch

by Kevin Vallier

The baseball season is in full swing and most people in this neck of the Ontario woods are focused, frustratingly focused, on the “Canada’s Team”, the Toronto Blue Jays. There is, however, a professional ball club just a baseball throw away, over the bridge that is near the top of the division and playing entertaining ball night in and night out.
The Buffalo Bisons are the Triple A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and play in the International League. Niagara and Ontario Jays fans, have the unique opportunity of watching future Jays, current Jays who are rehabbing, or sent down to the farm to work out kinks in their swings or pitching mechanics before making it back permanently to Toronto.

IceDog’s Akil Thomas ready for NHL Entry Draft

by Rod Mawhood

By the end of this week Akil Thomas’ life could change.
The 18-year old Niagara IceDogs forward, and Brandon Florida native, will be drafted to the National Hockey League.
The only question – what round and what team will take the talented player that’s called Niagara home for the past two hockey seasons?

Ridley Tigers roar for Team Canada at FIBA’s

by Rod Mawhood

There’s a local connection – in fact two of them – at this week’s FIBA U-18 Americas Championship basketball tournament at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.

The Bediako brothers, who both play for the Ridley College Tigers Prep Team, are suiting up for Team Canada.

Jaden, 17, is a 6-foot-11 centre, while younger brother Charles, who just turned 16, is a 6-foot-9 centre/forward.

Both brothers grew up in Brampton before making the trip down the QEW to join the Tigers.

The Quarterbacks of the East

by Sandy Annunziata

“The late great Sports writer, Jim ‘Shaky’ Hunt, had a great line that perfectly summed up the appearance of apathy and disinterest when it came to Canadian Football. “The CFL is a lot like porn; everyone watches it, but no one will admit to it”. This past November, an average audience of 4.3 million Canadians tuned in to TSN (4.1 million) and RDS (220,000) to watch the Toronto Argonauts defeat the Calgary Stampeders in the championship game. Overall, nearly 10 million unique viewers, or almost 30 per cent of Canadians, watched some or all of the Argo’s dramatic 27-24 victory. One in three Canadians watching television across Canada on that Grey Cup Sunday were tuned into the game. Drama always draws viewers and without exception, it is almost always delivered by the performance of your quarterback.
If the Western Division offers the greatest talent at the QB position, it’s the East that offers the greatest intrigue and perhaps the most drama.

Vegas Golden Knights’ Cinderella Season

by Austin Broad

One season.

That’s all it took for the Vegas Golden Knights to make the Stanley Cup Final.

The NHL’s 31st franchise has been having a season to remember, and now they are three wins away from becoming the first franchise in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.

In many ways the 2018 Stanley Cup Final has been the most unlikely final in recent memory.

Vegas is an expansion franchise that no one expected to win more than 20 games, let alone make the cup final. On the other side the Washington Capitals haven’t made it to the final since 1998, and have been labeled as chokers for the last decade.

Both teams have defied the odds and are on the verge of capturing hockey’s greatest trophy.

2018 CFL Season Set to Kick-Off

by Sandy Annunziata

The 2018 Canadian Football League Season started in earnest this past week as all nine CFL clubs welcomed their respective rosters to training camps all over the Country. For some, it will mark the beginning of a Grey Cup Journey. For others, an end to a playing career that for most, started when they were just little boys. Such is the fate of a pro football player. With an average career expectancy of just under 3 years, training camp offers a chance to turn heads, make an impression, win a roster spot and turn a childhood dream into a career. But be forewarned, it comes with a price and will test every part of you.

Niagara Track Star has OFSSA Podium in his Sights

by Austin Broad

A special kind of athletic ability is required in order to successfully compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprinting events.

For Niagara native Ethan Pasco, running in both events is something that comes naturally to him. The dual sport athlete is on the verge of finishing his final year at St. Paul High School and just successfully qualified for OFSAA.

Fort Erie native part of women’s hockey championship

by Austin Broad

The Niagara region has produced some amazing professional hockey stories this year.

First it was former Fort Erie Meteor Andrew Sturtz signing his first career professional contract, then it was Fort Erie native Megan Delay winning the Clarkson Cup in her first season with her Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) team the Markham Thunder.

Niagara lands another world class sporting event

by Rod Mawhood

The Niagara Region continues to grow its sporting landscape. Look no further than the past three years when the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines has landed national or international events including the 2016 IIHF U-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships, the 2017 Canadian Women’s Curling Championships (Scott Tournament of Hearts) and now the 2018 U-18 […]

High School Baseball: Myer vs. Myer

by The Niagara Independent

Myer’s Ryan Shannon rounds the bases during play in the Bullet Proof  high school baseball tournament. Photo Credit: Jeff Eidt Last week the annual Bullet Proof High School Baseball tournament was held in St. Catharines.  A.N. Myer of Niagara Falls, which has ‘threepeated’ as SOSSA champions and finished in the top five in OFSAA the last […]

Former Falcon Sturtz Signs with Sens

by Austin Broad

Every young hockey player dreams of one day making the pros and signing an NHL contract.

For Buffalo N.Y. native and former St. Catharines Falcon and Fort Erie Meteor Andrew Sturtz that dream became a reality on March 28 when he signed with the Ottawa Senators.

“I had interest from multiple teams I had talked to about 10-15 teams throughout the year and at the end of the year there was four or five and Ottawa was the team that I went with,” said Sturtz describing the process of deciding where to sign.

Brock Basketball Rookie Named All-Star

by The Niagara Independent

As a rookie, Kristin Gallant figured her first year with the Brock Badgers women’s basketball team would see her play a small role and fight for playing time.
But after a busy season that saw the 18-year-old Halifax native become a young leader on her team, Gallant was named to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-star game.

Pursuing the Canadian dream through a parents perspective

by Rod Mawhood

Sixteen years old, and drafted to the OHL.

Might sound great to some, but what’s lost is your leaving home. You’re off to a new school. New friends. New teammates. All part of the process that many often forget.

And what about the parents? They’re entrusting a new billet family with ultimately their son’s future.

Niagara Continues to be a Lacrosse Hotbed

by Rod Mawhood

Two questions.

How many people across Niagara know the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame is located in St. Catharines? Or that the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics have been around since 1877?

Don’t worry you’re not alone.

The Jr. A Athletics lacrosse club is one of the oldest sporting traditions in all of Canada.

Myer Graduate Tre Ford invited to Montreal Alouettes camp

by Kevin Vallier

It’s very rare for a freshman quarterback to start a Canadian University football game. But when you have the skill set and the confidence of Niagara’s Tre Ford it’s really no surprise he bucked that trend.

The former A.N. Myer student-athlete is now behind centre with the University of Waterloo Warriors. Ford just finished his first year with the team, used primarily in a platoon role but also getting a start. His performances were so impressive Ford claimed the Norm Marshall trophy as the Ontario University Athletics’ rookie of the year becoming just the second player in school history to do so.

Finding Clarity on Concussions

by Kevin Vallier

“There’s a lot of marketing on the internet mixed in with a lot of unproven recommendations.” That was a key message from one Canada’s top neurosurgeons talking about concussions.

Dr. Charles Tator, a world-renowned expert in concussions and spinal cord injuries, spoke to The Niagara Independent prior to his talk, Concussions — What Are They and What Can I Do? held at Brock University last Thursday.

Dr. Tator joined a panel of Brock faculty members, students and alumni to provide an overview of the current state of concussions from a broad perspective.  Members of the panel included: Dr. Omar Khan (working with concussion patients through ODK Physical Medicine at Hotel Dieu Shaver’s Medical Clinic) Hilary Findlay, PhD (Associate Professor, Sport Management— legalities around concussions for sport organizations), Caitlyn Gallant (Brock University doctoral candidate — research focusing on the ability to understand others’ thoughts and emotions, Theory of Mind, among individuals with concussions/mild traumatic brain injuries) and Stephanie Cowle, Manager, Knowledge Translation, Parachute.

A.N. Myer Catcher Owen Diodati earns a spot on Canada’s Junior National Team

by The Niagara Independent

A.N. Myer High School’s baseball program has been having great success over the last few years.  Success that rivals that of the school’s legendary football program – whose senior team had 3 successive SOSSA Championships as well as victories at OFSAA which included the #2 ranking in Canada in 2016.

Myer baseball is on a similar streak with 3 successive SOSSA championships and 3 straight trips to OFSAA, which included the #3 ranking in Ontario going into OFSAA last year.

Solid Season and Bright Future for IceDogs

by Kevin Vallier

As the Niagara IceDogs cleaned out their lockers and reflected on their season that ended recently with a 4-2 loss to their k-9 rivals the Hamilton Bulldogs who won the hard-fought second round series four games to one, much is expected of the 2018-19 edition of the IceDogs.

This year’s team had a successful year with 35 wins, 23 losses, seven overtime losses and three shootout losses for a season total of 80 points, good enough for a fourth place finish in the Eastern Conference.  Overager Sam Miletic who split his time between the London Knights and Niagara lead the team in scoring with 92 points in 63 games played (28 with Niagara). He finished sixth in OHL scoring. Second year centre and top rated NHL prospect Akil Thomas had an impressive sophomore season with 81 points in 68 games.

River Lions Continue to Roar

by Rod Mawhood

The in-arena setup is second to none. The atmosphere is electric. Most importantly, the quality of basketball is on par with any professional team across North America.

The Niagara River Lions are in their third year of existence, playing out of the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, as part of the National Basketball League of Canada.

Niagara’s Future of Golf at Augusta

by Brody Whetham

With the coming of spring, and The Masters now come and gone, the golf season is finally upon us. So, who was the “real” winner of this year’s Masters Tournament? Yes, there were some great story-lines, including Patrick Reed and his ugly shirt choices, putting on the green jacket. Jordan Speith put on a putting clinic, Tiger made his return to a major and Jack Nicklaus’ grandson made his first-ever hole-in- one at the Par 3 contest. But there is something else that I hope everyone had an opportunity to watch…  the Drive, Chip and Putt Finals.

The Drive, Chip and Putt Final is an accumulation of a years’ worth of qualifying sites for thousands of junior golfers from across the United States and Canada to vie for a chance to compete at Augusta National Golf Club. For the last few years I make every attempt to watch television on the Sunday prior to the grand tournament, to celebrate the start of “Masters Week”. Memories come back from my junior golf days as a member of Southbrook Golf & Country Club in Binbrook, Ontario as I spent my entire summer chasing a ball around that golf course for 18, 36 and 45 holes daily. This year Canada was well represented with three junior golfers participating in the finals. One of Canada’s brightest, up and coming golf stars, Vanessa Borovilhos, won the 11-12-year-old girls division.

Brock Proposes Temporarily Managing Sport Tourism for Region

by Kevin Vallier

Winning the right to host more sporting events in the Niagara Region is what a group from Brock University hopes to convince the Region they can do if given the opportunity to lead the process, at least temporarily.

Dr. Julie Stevens, an Associate Professor in Brock’s Sport Management program and Director of Brock’s Centre for Sport Capacity was at the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting this week outlining a proposal that would see Brock’s Centre for Sport Capacity manage the sport hosting process, data collection and post event analysis for the Region, at least on an interim basis.

Ice Dogs off to Round 2 in OHL playoff action in battle of the Dogs

by Rod Mawhood

If the regular season was any indication, the Niagara Ice Dogs would be the favorites heading into their second-round playoff series against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Unfortunately, most in the world of sports know the regular season means nothing when it comes to the post-season – especially in hockey.

The Ice Dogs entered the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference standings but won five of six games against the top-ranked Bulldogs during the regular season.

Brock Women Win Bronze at U Nationals

by Stu Black

“Whoever played against us today . . . would not stand in our way.” Brock Badger’s curling coach, Murray Etherington, was referring to the Brock women who steam-rolled over Mount Allison Mounties to win the bronze medal at the U-Sports Canadian Championships in Leduc, Alberta on Wednesday. The scoreboard showed Brock leading 12 to 2 after 6 ends, and that was enough for the Mounties. The Badgers team, Skip – Terri Weeks, Vice – Jessica Humphries, Second – Marcia Richardson, Lead – Joanna Francolini and Alternate – Jeanette Burnside, shot a combined 83 per cent in their final match together.

High School Hockey Gaining Respect

by Kevin Vallier

After another impressive run in the Ontario high school hockey season, for the second year in a row, Denis Morris Catholic High School hockey coach Billy McLaren hopes the game at the post-secondary level will start to get the respect it deserves. Recently finishing a very impressive fourth in Ontario, McLaren is proud of his troops and their dedication both on and off the ice. “These kids are true student-athletes with great character,” the coach said. “We emphasize effort in the classroom as much as we do effort on the ice and we hold them accountable to both,” he added. The Reds lost to Lakeshore Catholic in the Southern Ontario Secondary School Association (SOSSA) but were automatically entered into the provincial tournament as the host team. The Reds had a very impressive regular season and proved they belonged in the provincial tournament going undefeated in pool play.

High school hockey in Niagara and across the province has improved in both quality and reputation in recent years. McLaren admits it used to be seen as a bit of a goon league and was never taken too seriously. There were, and at times still is, a lack of cooperation between local travel hockey coaches and the high school teams. Many higher-end travel hockey coaches discourage their players from suiting up with their school teams for fear of injury or fatigue. When kids at that level do join their high school teams, it happens during the playoffs. “Some teams in the GTA for example will have AAA kids play a couple of games during the regular season with their high school team so they get their eligibility, and then come playoff time, when their club team is finished, some schools will parachute-in several AAA players to their team and make a run in the provincial championships,” McLaren explained.

Badgers Helping Badgers – The Unique Partnership in Girls Hockey

by Kevin Vallier

One of the most exciting events in the Meridian Centre’s history was the gold medal women’s under-18 hockey game in January of 2016. It was a sea of red and white, and one of the largest crowds ever to fill the downtown St. Catharines sports and entertainment facility. The enthusiasm should have come as no surprise, given the rise in popularity of girl’s hockey across the country and right here in Niagara. The St. Catharines Female Hockey Association (SCFHA) has formed a unique partnership with the top female hockey teams in the region to help continue that growth.

St. Catharines CYO Minor Hockey introduced a girl’s hockey program back in 1995. In 2008, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association officially sanctioned the merger of the St. Catharines CYO Chaos Rep Hockey Association and the St. Catharines CYO Girls House League to form the SCFHA. The only all-female hockey association in St. Catharines, the SCFMA – branded as the Jr. Badgers, offers both a house-league and rep (travel) program for girls aged 4 to 21 years of age.

Saturday in Dunedin, Florida, the Blue Jays held their annual spring training exhibition game against Canada’s Junior National Team.  Seventeen-year old Braden Halladay, son of the late Blue Jays pitching legend Roy, ‘Doc’ Halladay, made an appearance in the eighth inning of the game and provided a wonderful sports moment.

Braden is a 6’2” 165 right handed pitcher.  He was born and raised in Toronto when his Dad was performing brilliantly year after year in a Blue Jays uniform.  The two-time Cy Young Award winner, perhaps the greatest ever Toronto Blue Jay pitcher (a fair debate to be had with Dave Stieb fans), died last year in a plane crash in Florida.

IceDogs chomping at the bit for another playoff run

by Rod Mawhood

As the Niagara IceDogs get to set to embark on yet another playoff run – their eleventh straight since arriving in St. Catharines – head coach Billy Burke feels his team doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

Entering play on Friday the IceDogs hold down fourth place in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) Eastern Conference Standings, and will likely play the Oshawa Generals in the first round of the playoffs.

“Regardless if we get home ice or not, I still think a lot of people will see us as underdogs,” Burke, the first year Niagara head coach, said.

Niagara Shooting for $15M Curling Win

by Stu Black

One major success in Niagara may soon lead to another. Shortly after the wind-up of last year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, the bid chair was being asked if we could do it again.  Doug Geddie said, “Sure, but this time, why don’t we aim for the Brier in 2020.” The economic benefit to a community hosting the Tournament of Hearts is estimated between 8 and 10 million dollars. For the Brier, that number jumps to 15 million, with 130,000 visitors projected.

After receiving warm praise from the Canadian Curling Association for their hosting of the Tournament of Hearts last year, Geddie asked officials outright: “Are we crazy to take a run at the Brier?”

The Brock University curling program continues to experience its winning ways in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Curling Championships.  The Men’s Varsity won the Gold and the Women’s Varsity rink captured Bronze in Sault Ste. Marie in late February.

Brock curling has quietly experienced great success since Head Coach Murray Etherington took over nine years ago.  In the last five seasons alone, the Brock Varsity Men have won three OUA Bronze Medals and one OUA Gold Medal, while the Varsity Women have won two OUA Silver Medals and one OUA Bronze Medal. While these Brock teams haven’t medalled in the last few tries at the U-sports Championships, the Varsity women did win silver in 2011 and 2012; the Varsity men won Bronze in 2012 at the national championships.

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