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, […]

hosang on the ice

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 – […]

Dave Burkholder

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 […]

men's rowing

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.

Corey Conners

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.

Lakers team photo

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 […]

ryu pitching

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.

Shapovolov celebrating

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.

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.

Ice Dogs on the ice playing hockey

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.

Carey Price

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.

Guillaume Payen-Boucard on the court

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”.

Mackenzie Hughes on the green at the US open

‘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.

fort erie racetrack

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.

rowing tteam

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 […]

Dawson Lukey on the ice

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.

Joey Burke

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.

Sahlen Field

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.

Jakub Buczek, Luke Gadsdon, Gavin Stone, and Will Crothers.

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.

Tre Ford on the field

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 […]

Matthew Ragogna

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.

Bruce Boudreau

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.

Cal Clutterbuck on the ice

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.

people sitting on the dock at the Welland International Flatwater Centre

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.

Jason Robertson on the ice

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.’

Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott

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.

Melissa Tatti, head coach Mike Rao, and Sam Keltos

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.

Ice Dogs playing hockey

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.

Mel Krist

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.

Alex Nedeljkovic

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.

young atheletes

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.

kyle debas

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.

Andrew Tinnish

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.

Tyler Angle on the ice

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.

Javin DeLaurier

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.

Welland Stadium

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.

Amy Audibert

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.

owen diodati

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.

Casey Candaele

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.

Walter Gretzky

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.

soccer ball

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.

Akil Thomas with his Willie O'Ree skates.

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.

guerrero jr

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’

ice dogs goalie

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.

Coca Cola Field

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.

Tomasino on the ice

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.”

Brock Men's hockey team, 1968

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.

laura mateo playing rugby

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.

Chris Vanzeyl

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.

dylan well in the net

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.

George Springer

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.

bills vs chiefs

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.

Former Buffalo Bill Steve Christie

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?

bills

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.

Josh Allen

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.

Rudy Gobert touching all the microphones

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.

Matt Mannella on the ice

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.

ice dogs hockey

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.

Buffalo Bills players

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.

NFL kicker Lirim Hajrullahu

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.

Dylan Cozens on the ice

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.

dave baseggio

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.

Alberto Callaspo at bat

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.

puck drop

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.

hepple

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 […]

pat hantgen throwing a ball

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.

Malachi FLynn on the basketball court

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.

Kim Ng

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.

Ellen Harrigan at the World Series

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.

Chris Trivieri

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.

Steve Lidstone

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.

icedogs player shooting on net

Matteo Costantini continuing his hockey career living with Hall of Famer

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

Matteo Costantini playing hockey

Rocks keep rolling for local curling clubs

by The Niagara Independent

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

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

St. Catharines Golf and Curling Club

Niagara Basketball United set to take to the court

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

basketball net

Niagara Falls native now a two-time Canadian record holder

by Rod Mawhood

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

Jim Dyck

Four Niagara connections drafted to the NHL and professionally

by Rod Mawhood

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

Colby Ambrosio on the ice

Former IceDog Verhaeghe – Stanley Cup Champion

by Rod Mawhood

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

Carter Verhaeghe one the ice

Dogs await Draft: Three IceDogs on projected list

by Rod Mawhood

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

Cameron Butler of the Niagara IceDogs

Terry Fox’s Niagara connection

by Rod Mawhood

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

Jay Triano and Terry Fox

Believing in Truebelieve

by Kevin Vallier

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

Truebelieve racing horse

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

by Stephen Leithwood

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

D’Artagnan Joly

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Welland native is new director of player development for Sabres

by Rod Mawhood

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

matts ellis

Catch 22: Rick Vaive to release new book

by Kevin Vallier

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

Rick Vaive book cover

Is this the year for the Buffalo Bills?

by Rod Mawhood

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

buffalo bills

The Prince awaits his next fight

by Rod Mawhood

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

Lucas Bahdi in the ring

DesChatelets Jr’s mental disposition is his key to success

by Rod Mawhood

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

Richard DesChatelets Jr. on the podium

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman steps up for Ludzik and Foundation

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

Elliotte Friedman

Local minor hockey organizations hope to score a season

by Kevin Vallier

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

jack gatecliff arena

Triano continues to represent Canada, and Niagara Basketball globally

by Rod Mawhood

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

Jay Triano

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

goalie Jensen Murphy

IceDogs hope to hit the ice December 1st

by Rod Mawhood

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

ice dogs players on ice

CEBL Summer Series in final stretch

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

riverlions playing basketball

Former Badgers goalie signs with NHL’s Golden Knights

by The Niagara Independent

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

goalie Logan Thompson

Mac Hollowell living out his hockey dream

by Rod Mawhood

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

Mac Hollowell on ice at the leafs training camp

Major League Baseball is back

by Rod Mawhood

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

Andrew Tinnish standing in the ballpark

Welland will be home to Ontario rowing performance centre

by The Niagara Independent

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

welland rowing course

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

New York Ranger Ryan Strome on the ice

Welland native Connor Walters inks first pro contract

by Rod Mawhood

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

Connor Walters skating onto the rink

Sabrina D’Angelo – representing Welland on the world stage

by Rod Mawhood

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

Sabrina D’Angelo

The sport of Cricket in Niagara is now world renowned

by Rod Mawhood

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

cricket stick and ball

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

a boxer

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

Charles Kissi

Niagara could be home to nationally televised basketball tournament

by Rod Mawhood

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

river lions basketball on court

Dear Dad – Happy Father’s Day

by Rod Mawhood

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

Rod Mawhood and his dad Rick

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

by The Niagara Independent

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

gary bettman at a podium

University fall sports shut out

by The Niagara Independent

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

Brock University’s Alumni Field

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

Randy Mearns

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

They’re at the post once again in Fort Erie

by Rod Mawhood

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

New rules on the links as golf courses open in Niagara

by Rod Mawhood

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

beechwood golf course

Hoping rowing gets back on the water

by Rod Mawhood

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

rowing

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

by The Niagara Independent

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

Shawn Spears – putting Niagara on the professional wrestling map

by Rod Mawhood

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

pro wrestler Shawn Spears

Welland Jackfish set for ‘virtual’ home opener

by Rod Mawhood

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

jackfish home opener

Life after hockey

by Kevin Vallier

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

Even McGrath on the ice

Sweet home Alabama

by Kevin Vallier

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

Owen Diodati

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Vince Dunn

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Luca Caputi

Bills average A- grade overall amongst draft analysts

by The Niagara Independent

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

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

A.J Epenesa

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Jamie Campbell

Wrestlers top Badgers’ athletic awards

by The Niagara Independent

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

Brock wrestlers, Clayton Pye and Hannah Taylor

Sports no longer the positive distraction they once were

by Rod Mawhood

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

welland stadium

Former St. Catharines Teepee Pat ‘Whitey’ Stapleton dies

by Kevin Vallier

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

Pat Stapleton on the ice

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Pamo Femis

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

by The Niagara Independent

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

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

major sports logos

Woody Williams will never forget St. Catharines

by Rod Mawhood

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

Ex Major League all-star Woody Williams

River Lions re-sign 2019 captain

by Rod Mawhood

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

River Lions Captain Ryan Anderson

Bills make some big moves

by The Niagara Independent

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

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

josh allen, quarterback for the bills

Dogs done: OHL regular season shut down

by The Niagara Independent

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

ice dogs playing hocking in the meridian centre

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

by Kevin Vallier

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

north stars hockey team

Banner year for Badgers

by Rod Mawhood

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

Brock Badgers women’s basketball team

Badgers dream season continues

by Rod Mawhood

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

brock women's basketball

Jackfish set for second season

by Rod Mawhood

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

jackfish player catching a ball

Playoff time for Niagara’s Jr. B hockey clubs

by Rod Mawhood

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

niagara falls canuck hockey player on ice

Diodati belts three homers in ‘Bama debut

by Kevin Vallier

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

owen diodati at bat

Brock set to host U SPORTS Wrestling National Championships

by The Niagara Independent

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

Brock university wrestler

River Lions set to roar louder

by Rod Mawhood

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

riverlions basketbal court

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

by The Niagara Independent

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

two university students playing soccer

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

todd simon with participants of his hockey camp

Brock basketball honours seniors with a pair of wins

by The Niagara Independent

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

Brock Badger basketball players

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

moore and marinaro skating

St. Catharines hosting the Memorial Cup of Lacrosse

by Rod Mawhood

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

the Minto cup trophy

Akil Thomas continues to impress both on and off the ice

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

akil thomas and Mike Oke

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Phil Tomasino

IceDog scores golden goal

by Kevin Vallier

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

Akil Thomas scores

IceDogs’ Thomas celebrates birthday with world win

by Kevin Vallier

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

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

Canada’s national junior team

Niagara sporting franchises ready for 2020

by Rod Mawhood

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

st catharines A's

Gallant helps Badgers into national rankings

by The Niagara Independent

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

Kristin Gallant and teammates

IceDogs brass happy at Christmas break

by Rod Mawhood

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

akil thomas

The Interesting story of Al Jensen

by Rod Mawhood

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

al jansen

Discipline helping Niagara North Stars win games

by Kevin Vallier

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

tai york

Canucks and Falcons in the hunt at halfway mark

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

Geater Ontario Hockey League logo

Sir Winston brings home cross country gold

by Kevin Vallier

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

novice boys champions

Welland’s Johnny Augustine is now a Grey Cup champion

by Rod Mawhood

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

Johnny Augustine hoists the Grey Cup

Strong showing for Badgers at rugby nationals

by The Niagara Independent

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

badgers rugby

NLL season kicks off with Niagara connections

by Rod Mawhood

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

goaltender Matt Vinc

Young Niagara curlers rocking the house

by The Niagara Independent

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

curling

Brock Men’s Rugby off to National Championships

by Rod Mawhood

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

badgers rugby

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

Tonya Verbeek at an Olympic wrestling match

Determined Marauders to battle fighting Irish for football title

by Kevin Vallier

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

A.N. Myer senior boys’ football team

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

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

Wanita May Dykstra

Scrappy Bulldogs to battle powerhouse Myer for football championship

by The Niagara Independent

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

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

an myer football

Niagara College set to get ReuKnighted

by Rod Mawhood

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

Amy Audibert

Still in the Game – Former Stomper now with Nationals

by Rod Mawhood

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

Rocket Wheeler

Where there’s a Will there’s a way

by Rod Mawhood

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

Willy Manigat

Gillard gives back after career ending injury

by Rod Mawhood

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

Matt Gillard

Becoming a Leafs captain

by Kevin Vallier

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

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

rick vaive on the ice

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

David Weathers pitching

Two out of three stars ain’t bad

by Kevin Vallier

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

Icedogs Sopa and Tomasino

Soccer and Rob Lalama go hand in hand

by Rod Mawhood

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

Niagara College soccer coach Rob Lalama

Garlent feeling the Rush

by Rod Mawhood

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

Holden Garlent

Conduct unbecoming of a captain

by Dale Horton

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

austin matthews

IceDogs off to good start

by Rod Mawhood

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

drew hunter

High school football kicks off

by Kevin Vallier

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

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

high school football

Badgers split games against two nationally ranked teams

by The Niagara Independent

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

brock soccer

IceDogs trade top defenceman

by The Niagara Independent

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

paquette

Puck drops on Niagara’s Jr. B Hockey season

by Rod Mawhood

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

puck drop

Steel Blade Classic becoming Niagara hockey tradition

by The Niagara Independent

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

steel blade brock hockey

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

mike and chris rao

North Stars have Miller on draft

by Kevin Vallier

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

matt miller

Niagara IceDogs training camp preview

by Rod Mawhood

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

ice dogs training camp

River Lions head west for championship weekend

by The Niagara Independent

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

riverlions

Jackfish swim into semis

by The Niagara Independent

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

jackfish

The kids are all right

by Dale Horton

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

bo bichette and cavan biggio

“Bama Bound for Baseball

by Kevin Vallier

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

owen diodati

Jackfish hoping to catch playoff fever – first round begins tonight

by Rod Mawhood

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

jackfish

IceDogs finalize coaching staff

by Rod Mawhood

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

Former NHLer Mark Mancari

Athletics season ends with semi-final playoff loss to Burlington

by Rod Mawhood

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

st catharines A's

‘Doc’ Halladay was one of the best

by Dale Horton

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

roy halladay

84th running of the Prince of Wales Stakes goes tonight

by Rod Mawhood

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

frank salive

Will the Stro Show go?

by Dale Horton

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

stroman

Jackfish hitting it out of the park in inaugural season

by Kevin Vallier

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

jackfish

Athletics and Arrows meet again in the playoffs

by Rod Mawhood

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

St Catharines A's on the bench

Brock Badgers score new men’s basketball coach

by The Niagara Independent

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

willy manigat

This is not your father’s NHL

by Dale Horton

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

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

by Rod Mawhood

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

Ti-Cats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu

Nunez from Stomper to Royal

by Rod Mawhood

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

nunez

IceDogs forward selected in the 1st round of NHL Draft

by Rod Mawhood

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

tomasino

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