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Sports – NHL Playoffs

Sports – NHL Playoffs

Sports with Patrick Townes

The NHL playoffs are approaching as over half the season is over now, and what is unique about this season and some of the past seasons, is that the Toronto Maple Leafs have known who their opponent will be from the 30-game mark.  A lot of discussion has been had regarding the NHL playoff system, utilizing the internal divisions and the wildcard spots.  There is less pressure on teams fighting for match ups in the playoffs, and it takes the excitement out of the regular season because teams are now just preparing for round one of playoffs.  The format should go back to the normal 1st place vs 8th seed, etc., in each of the conferences.  This was always exciting when an 8th place team gave a 1st place team a run for their money, and you have a better variation of teams matching off against each other in the first round.

At this point, the Boston Bruins look very, very, tough to beat in the east.  The Maple Leafs added some depth players they needed upfront for a playoff run, and now the same old song; they are one legitimate defence man away from being a true cup contender.  You could see what Shea Weber meant to Montreal when they made their run to the cup finals before being defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The playoffs are not comparable whatsoever to the regular season, and it, of course, is those teams who have character players and role players who succeed.  Many players make their mark in the playoffs and then sign major contracts in the following years, but they do not seem to have the same success during the 82-game season as they do in tightly matched playoff series when everything is on the line and the refereeing takes a 180 degree turn putting the whistle away.  Players like Nylander do great during the regular season, but do not put any judgement on a terrific season until he faces off the against a tough Lightning team in the first round of the playoffs.

The Scotties is currently going on with Team Canada and Manitoba in the finals.  The rink in British Columbia has been a quarter full for most of the games and that is extremely disappointing.  Tournaments should be awarded based on past attendance, rather than the location itself.  Curling Canada passed a rule that affected curlers who were pregnant, and excluded every team beyond the top 5 teams for an exemption to replace a player from a different Province if a player is lost to a pregnancy.  There needs to be more careful thought before rules are passed like this.  After the rule was announced, social media exploded and they of course changed the rule to every team, yet they said it would start next season. So….again, social media exploded and the rule was changed for this year.  Decision makers and rule makers in any sport or league need to consult with teams and players before announcing rule changes, especially ones you know are not correct.

Kevin Martin and Warren Hansen run a very successful podcast regarding curling and they are kind enough to answer emails and questions from fans throughout the year.  I emailed them previously regarding the camera angle in curling.  For grand slam events, they often show the camera angle from behind the sheet (from the end) in order to show the amount of curl when the rock goes down the ice.  For whatever reason, the Scotties and I assume the upcoming Brier still show the overhead view of the sweepers as the rock goes through the centre portion of the sheet and then approaches the house.  This camera view should simply be abolished.  Often times the announcers will be saying look at this rock curl, or this one is getting close to the guard, and the viewing audience cannot even see the stones that are in play yet.  The view from the end is sometimes shown as the replay and the announcers highlight the amount of curl or when the rock started to break.  I equate the view from the top that only shows the two sweepers and the rock like watching a baseball fly through the air.  The focus should be on the amount of curl and the view from the end of the sheet.  Think critically about the camera angle for the next game you watch on television.  Also, try turning the volume off and see how much of the game you actually do not see all the rocks in play.  The view from the top is very odd.

Finally, a rule in baseball that makes sense – the pitch clock! And do not forget the batter clock.  Spring training is underway and early reports are showing that games are being shortened by approximately 30 minutes from what I have seen so far.  By keeping the batter and pitcher on a clock, it is giving the players less time to walk around the mound, to fiddle with their equipment and jewellery, and to think about what they look like on television.  This was taken from ESPN.com.  Pitch clock – The new rule: Pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Hitters will need to be in the batter’s box with 8 seconds on the pitch clock.  How it will be enforced: If a pitcher has not started “the motion to deliver a pitch” before the expiration of the clock, he will be charged with a ball. If a batter delays entering the box, he will be charged with a strike. Each stadium will have two clocks located behind home plate on either side of the umpire while two more will be required in the outfield on either side of the batter’s eye. Spring stadiums may only have one clock in the outfield but will otherwise be fitted to the exact parameters as the MLB ones. Each umpire will be equipped with technology which will inform them when the pitch clock has expired. And for the first time, umpires will also have the ability to speak with each other via communication devices without having to meet in the middle of the infield.  What they’re trying to change: The average time of a nine-inning major league game in 2022 was 3 hours, 4 minutes, which is actually a six-minute decline from 2021’s all-time high — but the time of game has been rising consistently since first crossing the three-hour mark in 2014.

Other rule changes include banning the shift and including larger bases.  It is crazy to think even why a rule like controlling where fielders play is required.  Today’s hitter shows no willingness to adjust their swing or hit the ball to the opposite field, so the fielders react to this and load up the one side of the diamond.  This does hurt baseball by limiting hits.  But if the players could just adjust, the shift would banish without a need for a rule change.  I wonder what base stealers think of the larger bases – are you technically not now closer to the bag?  Seems odd, but safety first, as in most rule changes in baseball.

It has been a great ride for me since taking over this newspaper article following my dad’s retirement, but things are getting busy in life and I will be taking a little break from writing the article.  The next article will be my last for a little while and I truly do appreciate those who read and report on the article.  As you probably noticed, the number of articles and content has been slowing down.  Stay tuned.


Rovers Announce Local Players Graduating

Barrie ON Feb 22, 2023: Simcoe County Rovers FC are proud to announce five news players that will be joining the First Team in 2023. Ryan Silverstein, Andre Beecher, Luc Ihama, FearGod Ozomba and Justin Avonyo are joining the Rovers First Team permanently, after successful development periods at Rovers Reserve and Affiliate programs. Three of the five players are local Barrie residents.

Luc Ihama (2003) – Rovers Reserve Team | Barrie SC

From Barrie, Luc is a strong and talented Fullback/Winger who played his entire youth career with Barrie SC. Rovers First Team staff  closely followed the Barrie SC U21 team last year where Luc played a key role. He earned a call up to the First Team during the Team’s League1 Semi Final match. Luc will be a full time Rover in 2023.

FearGod Ozomba (2003) – Rovers Reserve Team | Barrie SC

Like his teammate Luc, FearGod played his youth football with Barrie and has been identified as a standout player by the Rovers staff at the U21 level. FearGod is a talented and creative winger who was called up to the first team last season and will be joining the Rovers First Team in 2023.

Justin Avonyo (2004) –  Rovers Reserve Team | Barrie SC

Justin is a Barrie SC product who had the opportunity to play in the Spanish youth system prior to returning home during the 2022 season. A creative and technical player, Justin was introduced to the Rovers First Team by Barrie SC Technical Director Mark Crisante towards the end of the 2022 season.. He will be joining the Rovers First Team in 2023.

“We are very proud of these three talented young men who have worked hard to become great players and young men with good character off the field. We look forward to watching them continue evolve as they move into the highly regarded Simcoe County Rovers First Team.” Mark Cristante – Barrie Soccer Club Technical Director

Andre Beecher (2004) – Rovers Reserve Team | Athlete Institute FC

Andre is a strong Centre Back/Right Back who is one of many talented AIFC players the club has been able to push on to collegiate and professional levels over the last five years. Andre is a scholarship player at USPORTS powerhouse Cape Breton University and was called up to the Rovers First Team on multiple occasion during the 2022 season. This year Andre will be joining the Rovers First Team as full-time member.

“I first became aware of Andre’s character and ability when I was the Club Head Coach of an OPDL program a few years ago. So, to have the opportunity to coach him in his next phase of football development is very exciting. I think he will get plenty of playing minutes and we look forward to having him with us on a full-time basis” Jason Beckford  – Simcoe County Rovers FC Head Coach

Ryan Silverstein (2006) – Rovers Affiliate | Aurora FC

Ryan is a talented Winger who has played his entire youth football career with Aurora FC. He is regarded as one of the best players in his age group and has also been a part of the Ontario Provincial program. Ryan was invited to train with the Rovers last year as an underage player and will be joining the Rovers First Team in 2023.

“We are extremely proud of Ryan earning this opportunity to test himself at the next level. It’s been a pleasure to witness his hard work & dedication over the last 6 years. We look forward to following his journey with Simcoe County Rovers”  Marco Ciampa – Aurora FC Assistant Technical Director

“This was exactly our vision when building the relationships with our youth partnerships” stated Ali Sozeri, Rovers Club General Manager. We wanted to bring a winning, high performance football team to Simcoe County to challenge for trophies while providing a complete pathway to local youth clubs and players that haven’t had this opportunity without having to relocate. We are very confident that this intake of local youth players will serve our First Team well, and we hope that this can inspire even more youth players from Simcoe County and surrounding areas to pursue their football dreams. The talent is there. We are committed to, and will continue to identify, develop, and provide a platform for our local players to reach their full potential A massive thank you to our partners Barrie SC, Athlete Institute FC and Aurora FC in providing top level youth development programs to local players.”

The Simcoe County Rovers FC started pre-season training February 14th  and will play their first match of the season in mid-April. The full schedule will be released by League 1 in the near future.

For more information, please contact media@roversfc.ca  Submitted by Director of Marketing & Digital Strategy, Simcoe County Rovers FC

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