Thursday, May 25, 2017


Prince Charles and Camilla to visit Wellington

Charles and Camilla to visit the County


The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit Wellington during their Royal Tour to Canada next month.

Mayor Robert Quiaff made the announcement at the opening of Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, noting he has been working with Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis and security teams to arrange details.

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, released the cities and dates Thursday which include Iqaluit, Nunavut, on June 29; Canadian Forces Base Trenton and Wellington on June 30 and Ottawa and Gatineau for the 150th Canada Day celebrations July 1.

Celebrations are focusing on four themes of Canada 150: diversity and inclusion, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, young people and the environment.

In Wellington, a community gathering will be held at the Farmers’ Market.

The full itinerary will be released before the start of the Tour.

This will be the 18th visit to Canada for the Prince of Wales and the 4th for The Duchess of Cornwall.

This will be the first official visit to Nunavut by the couple; however, His Royal Highness visited Iqaluit, then part of the Northwest Territories, in 1970. In addition, he has also visited the Northwest Territories and Yukon in 2001, 1979 and 1975.

Excluding the capital region, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited cities and communities in Ontario in 2012 and 2009. The Prince of Wales also visited Ontario in 1996, 1991 and 1970.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be attending the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill for the first time.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017


A Busy Spring in the Sports World

An understatement, to be sure. Baseball, hockey, basketball...and football is just around the corner. As an almost avid Bills' fan, I listen to 550 on the am dial for all the news from the Bills' camp.

The Royal Bank Cup wrapped up last Sunday in Cobourg. The Cougars won the title with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory. Ryan Casselman, from Napanee, tied with game with just over a minute remaining. Nick Minerva scored the winner to seal the deal.

Minerva's comments after the game: “I saw the puck come out, it kind of bobbled a little bit. I saw that the Brooks guys didn't challenge me at all. I blacked out and closed my eyes, took the hardest shot I ever took in my life, and it went in! It still hasn't hit me, to be honest with you.”

Cobourg had defeated Penticton in the semi-final. Cobourg forward, Theo Lewis, gearing up for the final game, summarized his thoughts. “It means the world. I kept thinking today that I don't want this to be my very last day of junior hockey. I want to keep fighting. I want to do everything that it takes to win the game, and be competing for the national championship. So I was fortunate to come up with that game-winning goal.”

Brooks defeated Terrebonne in the other semi-final. Captain Nick Prkusic, was also ready for the final. “Tomorrow is my final junior game, no matter what. Everything I've been through with these guys, this would be so spectacular just to finish it off this way with a win). I can't wait to get out there and give it our best.

For those of you who were expecting to see the game on TSN, as advertised, there was a glitch. The World Hockey Championship, that thing they have for losers in the Stanley Cup playoffs, ran overtime, including a shootout. It cut well into the RBC time. I think Sweden beat Canada in the final, in case you are remotely interested.

The Nashville Predators knocked off the Anaheim Ducks last night to gain a berth in the Stanley Cup final. Pekka Rinne was his usual spectacular self, leading the team to win the Clarence Campbell Bowl. As is tradition, no one dared to touch the trophy. Bad luck. The only silver that the players touch is the Stanley Cup, but only after they win it.

The Golden State Warriors advanced to the NBA finals on Monday night. The Boston Celtics have momentarily halted the progress of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I am certain LeBron will rectify that in the next couple of days to set up a date with the Warriors.

                                                                   LeBron James

And yes, the Toronto Blue Jays had a bit of a hot streak, only to be followed by a few losses. They dearly miss Donaldson and Tulowitzki, among others, at this point in the season. They are a very competitive club, but they are running out of time, even at this point in the season. I am sure the club brass is seriously mulling over dramatic changes.

A great time for sports fans!

James Hurst
May 23, 2017.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Bill White Passes Away at 77.

Bill White, who played a key role in Team Canada's historic victory over the former Soviet Union in the incomparable 1972 Summit Series, is dead at the age of 77.

The lanky six-foot-two defenceman played a solid, steady game for Canada, appearing in seven of the eight contests and finishing first on the team with a plus-7 rating.

White skated 10 seasons in the NHL, starting with the expansion L.A. Kings in 1967 and spending his last seven campaigns as a fixture on the Chicago Blackhawks blueline, often paired with fellow '72 Team Team Canada rearguard, Pat (Whitey) Stapleton.

White, from Toronto, played junior for the Marlboros and turned pro in 1960 in the AHL where he toiled for seven seasons before getting his NHL break with the advent of expansion.

• NHL stats
GP: 604; G: 50; A: 215; PTS: 265; PIM: 495.
(Playoffs: 91 GP, 7-32-39; 76 PMs.)

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From the Files of Paul Svoboda.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


The Royal Bank Cup 2017

The Royal Bank Cup is in the midst of preliminary rounds at present in Cobourg, Ontario. As the host team, the Cobourg Cougars receive an automatic bye into the chapionship. There are five teams in the tourney, vying for the prize as the best junior hockey team in Canada, excluding the CHL teams. There are 132 teams at this level, and some fine young hockey players in the mix.

The top five teams, with some very good players are on the ice in Cobourg this week. There are many sets of eyes keenly observing these lads. Included in this group are several scouts from all over North America-pro scouts, amateur scouts, college and university scouts, scouts from various levels of hockey.

More than a hundred former Royal Bank Cup players have had at least a cup of coffee at the National Hockey League level. As far as I can discern, only one Wellington Duke who played at the RBC in Charlottetown, moved on to the NHL. That is Liam Reddox. If you check the list posted at Hockey Canada, you will find the names of some fine players, including four of the Sutter brothers.

Thus, the job of the scouts at the tourney is to assess these young players, to find the gem who just might be a super star in the NHL. On several occasions, I have run into Andre Savard at hockey games in Florida. He is a pro scout for the New Jersey Devils, and he was at the Brooks Bandits game with other personnel from the Devils. It is their job to separate the wheat from the chaff, in terms of hockey talent.

                                   Cale Makar-Photo credit Murnaghan-Hockey Canada

As was the case with several other scouts at that game, they were focusing on a young defenceman for the Bandits, Cale Makar. Makar has already stirred up quite a bit of interest in the scouting hockey circles. Rather small relative to other backliners, (5' 10”-175 pounds), he is slated to be a top prospect in this year's NHL draft. The New jersey Devils won the first pick in the lottery. Makar was the MVP at last year's RBC, and also the top scorer.

Brooks Bandits coach Ryan Papaioannou is well aware of the situation. “I think a lot of it with him is just his skating ability, his puck skills. He is offensively=minded, but because of his feet, he's able to defend very well. He's done a really good job establishing his footing in this year's NHL Draft. We're always impressed with the way he plays, but like all coaches, we keep encouraging him. There's more he can do, and we want him to be better.”

I spoke with one of his teammates at the Bandits' first game against Terrebonne. Orca Wiesblatt and his brother Ocean play with Makar. There were both in the stands for the first game. “Cale is committed to play at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the fall.”

No question that the Bandits are a team to watch. They won the RBC in 2013, and played in the semi-finals last year in Lloydminster. The other teams in this year's tournament are the Cobras de Terrebonne, and the Penticton Vees.

                                               Cale Makar- Hockey Canada

Round Robin play will continue until Wednesday night, when the host Cougars will play the Bandits at 7:30pm. The Cougars started the tourney with an overtime win over the Trenton Golden Hawks; however, as we witnessed in Charlottetown, and in Camrose with the Dukes, until the final buzzer goes, anything can happen.

James Hurst
May 15, 2015.

Monday, May 08, 2017


The Dudley Hewitt Cup 2017

As expected, the final game of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, was a fine dual between two evenly matched teams, and two great goaltenders. When the final buzzer sounded, the Trenton Golden Hawks emerged victorious, winning 2-1. They earned the right to participate in the Royal Bank Cup, for the Canadian Championship, which will take place this year in Cobourg.

The Georgetown Raiders put the pressure on the Hawks in the dying seconds, but could not find the equalizer to send the game into overtime. The Golden Hawks did not help their own cause late in the third period, taking a two minute tripping penalty with less than two minutes remaining. Playing six skaters against four for the Hawks, the Raiders could not get the puck past Chris Janzen, and had to settle for silver medals. Janzen was the game MVP.

                                                     Chris Janzen-MVP

The Raiders were the league champions, having defeated Trenton 1-0 in the seventh game of their final to win the Buckland Trophy. They were led by playoff MVP Jack Jacombe, their diminutive forward who led the league in scoring with 91 points. He is headed for Clarkson next year.

Trenton's win was their second in as many seasons, the first time that has happened since the 1990s. The other two teams participating in the tournament were the Powassan Voodoos, and the Dryden Ice Dogs. Dryden will host next year's Dudley-Hewitt Cup.

                                                        Braeden Allkins

Just before the puck dropped for the final game, I spoke with Dryden's Braeden All kins. Braeden hails from Golden, British Columbia. The twenty year old decided before the season to head east to play a year in Ontario. He led his team with 53 goals, and was the regular season and playoff MVP. He came third of all the players on the 132 teams playing in the Canadian Junior Hockey league.

It was a tough pill to swallow, not making the final of this tournament,” he told me. “Both finalists are great teams.” He figured that Trenton might emerge victorious, only because they were hosting the event, and had a barn full of supporters.”

                                                        Anthony Sorrentino

Trenton opened the scoring with less than a minute remaining in the first period off a turnover at the Georgetown blueline. Lanky forward Anthony Sorrentino ripped a shot that eluded Nicholas Latinovich, slipping between his pads. Georgetown tied the game late in the second period when Jordan Crocker wristed a low shot past Janzen.

At the 4:31 mark of the third period, North Bay's Michael Silvery stood parked on the right hand side of Georgetown goaltender Latinovich. He made no mistake, firing the puck into the net for the winning goal.

         Trenton Mayor Jim Harrison and John McDonald, Director of business operations

The Royal Bank Cup opens on Saturday in Cobourg, with the final taking place may 21st. Perhaps I will see you there!

James Hurst
May 8, 2017.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


The Stanley Cup Playoffs 2017

On the first Monday of each month, several friends gather together at a Shopsy's on Woodbine Avenue, just north of the 401 in Toronto. The group includes former NHL players, officials, managers, coaches, and others who take a couple of hours to reminisce about the game.

I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to throw out that favourite question, at this time of year, “Who is going to win the Stanley Cup this year?”. I threw that out to half a dozen of the guests. Most of them had a standard answer, almost instantly. The answer involves goaltending.

Brian McFarlane has never been far from the game. Born in 1931, he grew up in Ontario, and went to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, on a hockey scholarship. After several radio and television gigs, he landed work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and began an extensive career as an interviewer and host for NHL games. Many of us looked forward to seeing Brian between the periods on the weekly “Hockey Night in Canada” telecasts. His smooth, relaxed manner set the players at ease, and they responded well to his questions.

I buttonholed Brian at the lunch with the all-important question. Now in his mid-eighties, he is still a keen observer of the game. Until quite recently, he played weekly in Fort Myers at the Skatium, located beside The City of Palms Park, the former Boston Red Sox Spring Training facility. “This is great hockey to watch,” he told me. “The speed of the game, and the skill of the players is amazing.” He refrained from picking a winner.

Ron Hurst played many years for the Leafs. Also in his eighties, he rarely misses a trick. “At this point in time,” he told me, “I have to give the nod to the Penguins. I saw Crosby lying on the ice in front of the goal, and he shot the puck over the goalie into the top corner of the net with one hand on the stick! I also like the way that big Russian guy shoots the puck for the Capitals. He just sets up and “Blam!”, the puck is in the net.”

Each month, a player is recognized for his contributions to the game. On Monday, former Leaf Gary Collins got the nod. He won the Memorial Cup twice with the Marlies to begin his career. He was also an outstanding baseball prospect, and was heavily scouted. He told the crowd he pitched one game, came out of the bullpen to help in the second game of a double-header, and blew out his arm. “That was that for my baseball career. There was no 'Tommy John' surgery in those days.”

Jim Morrison played and coached hockey for more than 50 years. He played for five NHL teams, over a dozen years in the NHL. He deferred on the Stanley Cup question, but paid homage to this year's Leaf team, particularly Auston Matthews. “They will be a force in the years to come.”

Pete” Conacher is impressed with the play of the Oilers, and Connor McDavid. “Sure he is a fine player, but the amazing thing is that he is so far ahead of the other guys on the ice. He is a great skater, and he passes the puck so well.”

Sandy Air enjoys the get-together with his friends at the luncheon. He won the World Championship with the Whitby Dunlops, and has memories, some fond, of his games at the Memorial Arena in Belleville, “You tell me who the best goalie is, and I will tell you who will win the Stanley Cup,” he told me. “Pittsburgh is fortunate to have two great goalies. When Murray got hurt, they brought back Marc-Andre Fleury, and he has played really well. On the other hand, Holtby has been a little shaky for the Capitals.”

                                                                 Will Norris

Former referee Bruce Hood was on hand, and introduced a couple of linesmen who toiled with him for many years Will Norris was one of those lads. Will was my brother Dick's roommate when they attended Guelph University in 1963!

Another aspect of the game that has become important in recent years is shot blocking. Most of the veterans indicated that the style of the equipment has resulted in those changes. “Every once in a while a shot gets through that armour, however. Nasty stuff,” Ron Hurst added.

So many of these games have been decide in overtime, increasing the excitement for the fans. With all of the games from the west, and the overtime segments, you may miss a bit of sleep. That is why the afternoon nap was created.

James Hurst
May 2, 2017

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