Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Robb Bagg-Saskatchewan Roughriders

Last Saturday, Robb Bagg dropped by Mary Ann Sills Park in Belleville to watch a little football. His cousin, Matthew Mead, is the quarterback for the Bancroft entry in the Belleville Minor Football League.

As he was leaving the grounds at the end of the third quarter, Bagg quietly suggested to Mead’s father that he should carry out his fakes after he has handed the ball off to a running back, rather than watching the ball. He watched the game intently, with “football eyes”.

It is a game he has chosen to play professionally, and he will begin his fifth season with the Green Riders this coming season. But it was not always a football world for Robb Bagg. He played “AAA” hockey for many years, until Grade 11, in the Kingston area. He played a few exhibition games for the Voyageurs and Coach Evan Robinson, against the Wellington Dukes.

But it was on a sunny summer afternoon that he had a significant revelation. He was tossing the football in the backyard home of his grandfather, Bob Pearson. His grandfather told me that he knew Robb was a fine athlete. “I could tell that Robb had the makings of a fine football player. He had soft hands. He had participated in several track championships, so we knew he could run.” Bagg credits his grandfather for his move to football from hockey.

“At that stage of the game, I had had enough hockey. I was limited in the number of other sports I could play at school. When I left the “AAA” program, I played high school hockey at Frontenac Secondary School. That’s when I started to play football, in Grade 11, and lacrosse as well. I ran track too, and remember running the 800 metres at OFSSA here in Belleville in 2001.”

He told me that two of his high school friends excelled at that event. Dylan Wykes is a marathon runner. Nate Brennan runs the 800 meter event. Both have qualified to run at the Olympics in London this summer. Bagg played all of his university football at Queen’s. One of his team mates was Jimmy Allin, who starred in the Belleville Minor Football League. Allin went to Quinte Secondary School, then had an outstanding career at Queen’s. He is currently studying medicine in Brisbane, Australia.

Bagg hopes to spend this coming November preparing for the Grey Cup. He started for the Riders in the Grey Cup game in 2009, and had three catches for 27 yards, but was sidelined with a separated shoulder in the first quarter. He spent the entire season last year on the injured reserve list, recuperating from a knee injury. Bagg was most impressed with the play on the field in Belleville.

“This is really great,” he told me. “It’s nice to see us catching up with Canada West, as they have had similar programs for many years.” He chuckled when I told him that the most successful professional athletes to come out of the Belleville Football program are: Andrew Shaw, Andrew Raycroft, and Brad Richardson. They are all current NHL players, but benefited from the training at the minor level.

Bagg had to leave before the game ended, as he had a function to attend as a volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

James Hurst May 15, 2012

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


Stranley Cup 2012-Round Three, SVP

Everything has been settled in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Kings will face off against the Phoenix Coyotes to decide the finalist from the west. Needless to say, the emergence of those two teams was not exactly expected. A couple of weeks before the regular season ended, neither of those teams was seriously entertaining post season play! It does say a thing or two about parity in the National Hockey League. Granted, goalies for both teams have playe
d a significant role thus far. That is an understatement. Mike Smith from the Coyotes and Jonathan Quick from the Kings have stood on their proverbial masks to keep pucks out of their goals. Both have played brilliantly, sometimes under difficult circumstances. They are screened, they are slashed and kicked and run over by opposing players. And yet they somehow get themselves into position to keep the biscuit out of the basket. The Nashville Predators will go to sleep for the next couple of weeks envisioning Smith on his knees, at the edge of his crease, cradling another shot from the blue line and stopping the play. All of the television sets in the Smith and Kristalyn homes in our area will be tuned to the final games. Smith’s parents attended Prince Edward Collegiate, then escaped the County to Verona. According to Hoyle, that does make him a local boy, but does not give Mike sufficient accreditation to qualify as the first County born and raised resident to play in the NHL. On the Belleville side of the Bay of Quinte, all eyes will focus on Brad Richardson. Brad survived an appendicitis operation a couple of weeks ago, and is now going full tilt for the Kings. A graduate of the Quinte hockey system, as well as the Belleville Minor Football League, Brad has played well for the Kings all year. Management does not expect him to fill the net every night. But he plays his position well, and has earned a berth in the semi finals, along with his team mates. Keep an eye on the Kings’ Anze Kopitar. He has emerged as a brilliant playmaker and scoring threat. He is a large power forward, but also possesses brilliantly soft hands. The puck follows him around the rink, and he knows what to do with it when it arrives. The Kings also have a defenceman well worth the watching, namely Drew Doughty. Nothing has been decided in the Ranger-Capitals series. It has been a war, and the Caps let a critical game slip through their fingers on Monday night. They allowed the Blueshirts to score and tie the game with six seconds remaining, in one of those mad scrambles at the side of the net. One of those Staal brothers from Thunder Bay potted the winner in overtime. The New Jersey Devils are in the driver’s seat in the other Eastern Conference series. Again, goaltending has made a difference, as forty year old Martin Brodeur has kept the Philadelphia Flyers at bay, for the most part. Brodeur will saunter into the Hall of Fame at the end of his career, as one of the all time greats. Former Belleville Bull David Clarkson has just completed the best season of his career for the Devils, and is enjoying a great playoff run. Great hockey in early May. James Hurst Sportslices.blogspot.com

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