Home In the news Sports with Patrick Townes, Springwater and area

Sports with Patrick Townes, Springwater and area

Diverse group of kids playing soccer.

Apologies as the below article did not make it in time for press in the last addition: 

• When the knee of Corey Perry struck the head of John Tavares, I am sure, like many others, my jaw dropped and I went silent with great concern.  Injuries in any sport are very unfortunate, but they do happen.  When you really sit back and think about things, it is surprising that there are not more injuries.  During the playoffs players are giving up their bodies in the line of fire, particularly when trying to block slap shots from the point.  It is amazing how more of these pucks do not come in contact with players and cause major injuries. 

 Watching John Tavares trying to get up off of the ice was very scary.  Accompanied by the silence of the empty rink joined by players screaming for medical attention, all focus turned to the health of the person — not a sport, not a game, not a win — a person.  Kyle Dubas immediately ran down to the ice so that he would be able to provide the Tavares family with an update after seeing the unfortunate accident on the ice.  Key word, being accident!

 Nick Foligno on the next draw fought Corey Perry.  This was totally unnecessary and met with much criticism considering what transpired was a complete accident.  There are definitely actions that would warrant immediate retaliation. but this was not one of those times.  It is totally understandable that you want to defend a teammate, but there is a time to do it.  For those who question what Foligno did, one would have to question more the decision of the Montreal coach to put Perry back on the ice.  That is a head scratcher.  

Kyle Dubas was quick and correct to criticize to Toronto Sun for the post on the front page of the newspaper.  Simply put, whoever was responsible for this should lose their job.  As a General Manager of a team that is known for a heightened attraction for media attention, one would question whether or not the team would want to continue to allow the Toronto Sun to interview players and have access to the team.  Like many things in sports these days, there are likely agreements in place to prevent this from happening due to legal contracts, but it should have been considered nonetheless.  On one side you have a silent bench of teammates, a family at home holding their breath, a medical team working on the ice with all their power and, on the other hand, you have a media outlet that must totally lack knowledge of any sports-related situation making light of a bad situation for a cover storey.  This is embarrassing.  

 On the topic of rosters, Montreal has been shuffling their lineup during the first three games of the series.  In game 3, rookie sensation Cole Caufield played his first game.  Caufield arguably was not good enough to make the cut in the lineup for the first two games, but then in game 3 is good enough to be on the ice during the last remaining minutes and seconds of the game with their team trailing by 1.  This reminds me a lot of the player management that took place under the previous coaching regime for the Maple Leafs.  It is good to see that the top players are playing more.  

 The Toronto Blue Jays are sinking.  As the Jays sink, the top 3 teams in the division are catching fire.  One criticism of the team is the lack of an established rotation so early in the season.  One would think that at the start of the season you would have 6-7 starting pitchers lined up to fill a typical 5-person rotation.  There are obviously injuries in play but the lack of depth is concerning.  The bullpen is good but, like last season, they will tire out when they have to continually pitch 4-5 innings per game.  

 No-hitters are on the rise in major league baseball. Is this concerning? No.  What is concerning is the stat of the 10 highest strikeout rates in league history by year in descending order: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.  That is concerning.  

• At the time of this article, the Maple Leafs are out and the Blue Jays are afloat.  It is usually the defence that gets heavily criticized on the Maple Leafs, but perhaps for once, they are not to blame.  The offence was always pressuring but the top four defencemen of the Canadiens, and of course Carey Price, were tough to solve in the full seven-game series.  I am personally glad I am not a gambler, because I would have lost a lot of money on this series…and the next one apparently.  The Jets were poised to walk over Montreal but they again had other ideas.  Price has been the most valuable player of the playoffs thus far, but outside of the North Division, competition is tough.  Colorado and Vegas both look very strong and have deep lineups, on the offensive and defensive side of things.  Carolina has also impressed.  Of note Carey Price was the first player who makes more than $10 million annually to win a playoff series.  Of the top 15 player salaries, he was the only one to make the second round this year.  What to do with the Maple Leafs?  At this point nothing can be ruled out or shocking in terms of changes. What they have is not working come playoff time.  They also did not see the toughest teams in the league throughout the season.  And this hurt them. 

 The Blue Jays are now 30-27 and only trail Boston and Tampa Bay in the division.  Tampa Bay continues to get the job done which is astonishing given the team’s make up and vacancies that have occurred.  They lost their top pitcher and have traded away a talented shortstop, but that is how they operate.  Guerrero Jr. is on a most valuable player pace and has improved on his defensive play.  Some Blue Jay players are still not doing the little things right, such as hustling out of the batter’s box every time.  The coaching has been suspect, once again including decisions with starting pitchers.  These guys have to be stretched out before the bullpen is overtaxed and out of gas come the end of the season.  There needs to be more accountability on the team and players need to be disciplined when appropriate.  Coaches cannot always play the nice guy. 

Spirit extend elmvale native general manager Dave Drinkill

Saginaw, MI – Saginaw Spirit owner Dick Garber announced today the team has extended the contract of general manager Dave Drinkill through the 2023-24 Ontario Hockey League season. In turn, Drinkill has extended the contract of head coach Chris Lazary through the 2023-24 season.

“On behalf of owner Dick Garber, we recognize the strong effort that Dave Drinkill and Chris Lazary demonstrate everyday as our General Manager and Head Coach”, said Spirit President and Managing Partner Craig Goslin. “Our ultimate goal is to win an OHL Championship for our community. Dave, Chris, and their entire staff has built a championship-contending roster with back-to-back West Division Championships and a culture of development for our players that, we feel, is second to none.  The total player development program mirrors the Saginaw Spirit core values of strong work ethic, loyalty, pride, integrity, empathy, respect and honesty, as well as matches our mission statement of developing young talented athletes into successful people, on and off the ice.”

Drinkill is set to embark on his sixth season with the Spirit after COVID-19 cancelled the 2020-21 OHL campaign. Since the start 2015-16 season, Drinkill has oversaw 166 regular season victories making him the winningest general manager in Spirit history. The Elmvale, Ontario native has also recruited some of the most talented players to ever wear the Spirit red, white, and blue including Cole Perfetti, Blade Jenkins, Bode Wilde, Filip Hronek, Damien Giroux, and D.J. Busdeker.

“I would like to thank Dick Garber, Craig Goslin, Jimmy Devellano, Brandon Bordeaux and Chris Osgood for their outstanding ownership, passion, and commitment to our program and the community of Saginaw,” said Drinkill. “I am extremely happy and grateful that I will continue to be the general manager in Saginaw for the next three seasons and I look forward to pushing our program to the next level. I truly believe that Saginaw is an outstanding place for young men to play junior hockey and grow as people, on and off the ice. It is truly a hidden gem in the OHL. We provide our players everything they need to reach their goals and dreams. Working side-by-side with our head coach Chris Lazary, I believe we have created one of the premier programs in the Canadian Hockey League. I am happy that we were able to come to terms with Chris and extend his contract, as well. He is an outstanding young coach that has tremendous work ethic and an extreme passion for the game. I know all our current and incoming players will continue to develop under Chris and his staff. I am excited to see what the future has in store.”

After an 11-9-1-1 start to the 2018-19 season, Dave Drinkill elected to promote then associate coach Chris Lazary to head coach. The Spirit went on to win 34 of their next 46 games to finish out the most successful regular season in franchise history with a 45-17-3-3 record and the team’s first West Division Championship since the 2010-11 season. The team also enjoyed their longest playoff run in 2019, getting to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Chris Lazary enters his second full season as head coach and fifth year behind the Spirit bench after being named associate coach prior to the 2016-17 season. His .704 regular season winning percentage is the highest of any head coach in Spirit franchise history.

During the 2019-20 season that was shortened due to COVID-19, the Spirit were on track to break their single-season wins record they had set the previous year. With six games to go, the Spirit needed five victories but had won seven straight games and picked up at least one point in 11 of their final 12 contests before the pause. Following the cancellation of the season, the Spirit were recognized by the OHL as West Division Champions for the second year in a row. Another in the long line of first for the team since Drinkill and Lazary have been at the helm.

The Saginaw Spirit look forward to a return to the ice this fall with an Ontario Hockey League start date set for October 7th. If you would like us to contact you regarding season ticket information for the 2021-22 season, please fill out the web form at saginawspirit.com/season-tickets.

Hillsdale Athletes Return to Baseball this summer!

With the return to play restrictions that the Ontario government has put in place the Georgian Bay Minor Softball League would not be able to confidently organize league style play for kids for the second season in a row.  Hillsdale Athletes have introduced a plan that will allow a limited number of kids from the different centers within GBMSL to play within the guidelines in the new three step plan. Karen and Mike Kelly and friends have planned a 4 division bubble, following the guidelines to ensure everyone involved could participate safely. Stage one will allow practices to begin June 14th with the hope that we move into Stage 2 by July when playing games can begin.

The plan has changed from the standard 2 year age group to a 3 year age group in order to create divisions that work with the number of players.  The four divisions are as follows, and a couple are still open for kids to sign up @ http://hillsdaleathletes.com/softball-registration/

U16 (2005-2007) -Full

U13 (2008-2010) -Limited Spots Available

U10 (2011-2013) -Limited Spots Available

U7 (2014-2017) -Full

A big thank you to Mike and Karen for taking on such an enormous task so local area kids can play baseball this summer. Stay tuned here for updates throughout the summer.

Parkhill, Ont. goalie makes history as first female ever selected in OHL Draft

LONDON, ONT. — Taya Currie made Ontario hockey history Saturday afternoon when she became the first female ever picked in the OHL Priority Selection.

The Sarnia Sting chose Currie with the 267th overall pick in the 14th round.

The Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs AAA goaltender was touted as one of the top keepers in Alliance Hockey.

“It was the athletic ability, great hands and the way she challenges the puck that drew us to her game,” Sting GM Dylan Seca told CTV news earlier this week.

Shannon Szabados, who played in the Western Hockey League, tweeted moments after the pick.

“Congrats Taya! Watched this live. Can’t wait to watch you on the world stage one day.”

Seca was excited at the thought of Currie breaking barriers in the league, but was also excited about her talent.

“I’m a father of two girls both who play girls’ hockey and I’ve coached both of them,” says Seca, who had discussions with his goalie coach this week about her size (5’7) and wasn’t worried that would be a hindrance in the OHL.

“I’ve always thought the day is coming when one of the girls is good enough to play in our league. Whether it’s this year or another year, I am excited that we’re even having the conversation.”

Currie has NCAA aspirations in the women’s game, but told CTV earlier this week she’d have to decide what her future holds if she got picked.