Blades and Raiders help Big River celebrate special occasion . . . First Nation opens complex in honour of ex-NHLer Jim Neilson . . . Rangers were there, too

Hey, folks, this is what it’s all about . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades joined the people of the Big River First Nation on Tuesday to take part in the grand opening of the Jim Neilson Sports Complex, a multi-use facility that includes a 1,500-seat arena. It is named in honour of Neilson, the late NHL defenceman who was from Big River.

Joel Willick of MBC Radio has more on the opening right here.

Meanwhile, Dan Tencer, the Blades’ scouting director, posted four tweets later Tuesday, and here they are, in order:

  1. I’m in the hotel elevator last week in downtown Saskatoon and a mother and daughter get in. I ask about the very yummy plate of food they have and the daughter smiles. They tell me they’ve come from a barbecue for a gender reveal.
  2. Mom sees the logo on my shirt and asks if I work for the Blades. I say yes, I lead the group that scouts players for them. She excitedly says “you’re coming to Big River! We’re all coming out to watch.” I tell her I can’t wait to be there and they should find me and say hi.
  3. Game today ends, I’m outside by the team bus. Same mother and daughter walk up with the little girl imploring her mom to find the “scout leader.” It made my week. I was so touched that she had remembered our 25-second meeting.
  4. I was so proud that we were there to play at the opening of the new rink in their community. Hockey is a wonderful game and can facilitate so many connections in so many ways. Small as it might be, I’m so glad they found me again today.


More than a few followers of the Kamloops Blazers were surprised (shocked?) when D Mats Lindgren, 18, was traded to the Red Deer Rebels on Aug. 29. Those Kamloopssame people were even more surprised to find out that Lindgren, a fourth-round selection of the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2022 draft, had asked out of Kamloops. . . . So what happened? . . . “It was the best thing for me for personal reasons and I’m just excited for this new opportunity,” Lindgren told Greg Meachem of . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, told Marty Hastings of Kelowna This Week: “Sometimes, players are looking for a different opportunity. Sometimes, things aren’t a perfect fit. This is a scenario where both teams are able to give their players an opportunity with another team.” . . . The Blazers, who open their exhibition season at home to the Kelowna Rockets on Friday, acquired D Kyle Masters, 19, and a lottery-protected 2025 first-round draft pick in the deal. If the Rebels miss the 2024-25 playoffs and thus are in the draft lottery, the pick will move to the 2026 draft. . . . Lindgren would have eaten up a lot of minutes for the Blazers this season, and would have been on the No. 1 power-play unit on a team that will play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. So to find out that he had asked for a trade immediately after the NHL draft left a lot of people wondering what had gone wrong in Kamloops. . . . The Blazers, then under general manager Matt Bardsley, selected Lindgren with the seventh pick of the WHL’s 2019 draft. Bardsley was able to get Lindgren signed a couple of months later, but two years later the GM resigned for what he said were family reasons. . . . Just spit-balling here, but you wonder if Bardsley’s departure, followed by that of associate coaches Cory Clouston, after the 2020-21 development season, and Mark Holick, after last season, had anything to do with Lindgren’s unhappiness?

Meanwhile, Holick is back at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., where he will coach the U17 men’s prep team. He had spent three seasons as the head coach of Yale’s U18 prep team before joining the Blazers. That lasted one season before he resigned citing “personal reasons.”


You could make the case that a penalty taken by an inactive player cost the Saskatchewan Roughriders a victory in what ended up being a 20-18 loss to the CFLlogoWinnipeg Blue Bombers in Regina on Sunday. . . . With the game tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter, and neither team having yet scored in the second half, the Roughriders had moved into field goal range when a schmozzle developed at the Saskatchewan bench. WR Duke Williams of the Roughriders, not dressed because of an ankle injury, was flagged for yapping with fewer than 11 minutes to play. Saskatchewan took a holding penalty on the next play and, because the penalty had pushed them out of field goal ranger, was forced to punt.

According to freelancer Jeff DeDekker, who covers Saskatchewan home games for The Canadian Press, Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson had this to say about the Williams penalty:

“I can tell you this much, moving forward there will be no players on the bench area that aren’t either playing or thoroughly involved in coaching because that was very disappointing. That hurt us and it hurt us bad.

“It was a stupid penalty and Duke feels bad about it and he should. Hopefully he’s expressed that to his teammates.

“He’s an emotional guy and his emotions got the best of him. I think they called it pretty tight. I don’t know what he said to the guy but it wasn’t complimentary. I’ll talk to (Roughriders general manager) Jeremy O’Day and see what we can do. That hurt our team. He feels bad about it and he should.”

On Tuesday, the Roughriders released an American, but it wasn’t Williams. Instead, it was DL Garrett Marino, who also has been more than a handful in the discipline department. Already having served a four-game suspension for, among other things, a hit that took out Ottawa Redblacks’ QB Jeremiah Masoli, Marino got away with a late hit on Winnipeg QB Zach Collaros late in Sunday’s game.

Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Hockey Canada insists it can change its culture without replacing leadership, changing culture.

THINKING OUT LOUD — I don’t know what it means, but think about this for a moment: The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks signed F J.T. Miller to a contract the other day that will pay him US$56 million over seven seasons; the NFL’s Denver Broncos signed QB Russell Wilson to a five-year, US$242,588,236 deal that included a $50-million signing bonus. . . . Miller is 29 years of age; Wilson is 33. . . . Summer is over. How do I know? Because the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League opened its regular season with one game on Wednesday night. There are two more on tonight’s schedule and four on Friday. . . . I also know that summer is over because the NFL season gets started tonight (Thursday). I’m riding with the host Buffalo Bills over the Los Angeles Rams. Could it be a Super Bowl preview?



Vincent Tremblay, the play-by-play voice of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, tweeted Tuesday that the club “will have a sponsor on the helmet.  Real estate company Trilogies Inc.” . . . Hmm, corporate logos on helmets. Can other junior teams be far behind? Not if there’s sponsorship money involved. . . .

Joe Mahon, who played in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks and Calgary Hitmen, will be in the NHL this season . . . as a linesman. Mahon, 28, is from Calgary. He has been officiating since 2019. Last season, he worked in the WHL and the AHL; this season, he’ll see action in the AHL and NHL. And he’ll be wearing No. 89. . . . Mahon played two seasons in the WHL. He had two goals and an assist in 41 games with Portland in 2012-13, then put up nine goals and nine assists in 56 games with the Hitmen in 2013-14. . . .

Eddie Gregory is the new play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Giants, having joined them after spending 18 seasons calling games for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. Gregory, 40, takes over from Dan O’Connor, who left for the athletic department at UBC where he now is sports information co-ordinator. . . .

Damon Pugerude has signed on as the Everett Silvertips’ head equipment manager. He had been with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, as head trainer and equipment manager, for the past six seasons. He also has worked with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder and Sherwood Park Crusaders.

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