Wednesday, April 11, 2018

When Tragedy Hits Home

It’s always tough when tragedy hits close to home, but what happens when it hits directly at home. That has been one of the million thoughts that have passed through my mind since Friday night.

I had the pleasure of providing play by play for the Humboldt Broncos for about 15 games this season. I travelled with the team on the bus occasionally, including a trip to Nipawin. I’ve closed my eyes numerous times this past weekend and just thought about sitting in the bus with the team and looking around and seeing the faces that are no longer with us and others that were severely injured.

I spent 5 years in Estevan as the voice of the Bruins. One of the rookies in my rookie season was Mark Cross. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Mark was going to be a future leader of the Bruins, if he wasn’t already. Veterans like Kyle Garagan, Kyle Stroh, Riley Tetreault, Liam Brennan, Brody Haygarth, Brant Harris and others took Mark under their wing and groomed him to be the next leader of the Estevan Bruins.

I wish Mark and I spent more time talking about his teammates this year. But we did share a few memories of guys like Dylan Smith, Lucas Stubel , Troy Hunter , Josh Jelinski, Ty Ariss and others. The smile on his face when we talked about those guys said it all. He loved his teammates and every single teammate of Mark loved him back.

I spent a lot of time on the bus with Mark, three years in Estevan, and a few trips this year in Humboldt. In Mark’s rookie season he would sit right behind me, his 19 year old season he would move a little further back and in his final season, Mark would sit at the back of the bus in the “good seats” that would allow for some cards games. Then this season as a coach, Mark would sit in front of me. On my first bus trip this season with the Broncos, I spent a few minutes thinking how Mark went full circle (or whatever shape you want to call it) sitting on the bus.

On the ice, Mark was a solid two way center, he always contributed at both ends of the ice. The small dimensions of the Civic Auditorium suited Mark’s game perfectly. One on ice memory that we discussed a couple of months ago was the final goal at the Civic Auditorium, Mark remembered it even better than I did, as he should, it was his final point in Jr Hockey as he got the assist on Ryan Andersen’s goal. My favorite memory with the Bruins is always going to be the bonding that took place with the team after the final game in the Civic Auditorium. I’m not sure there are too many broadcasters who are lucky enough to take part in that special moment in Junior Hockey, but the memories from that night will make me smile for the rest of my life. If there has been anything that has helped me over the last few days is seeing all the pictures from Mark’s teammates and remembering the good times we all had in Estevan.

When I heard that Mark was hired as the assistant coach of the Broncos, I think there was no one in Humboldt who was more excited than me. One of the main reasons why I wanted to come back out of “retirement” and do some play by play for the Broncos was because Mark was with the team. I enjoyed our pregame talks before the games and our chats at the gym. There’s no doubt in my mind Mark was going to be a head coach if he wanted to. The Broncos had a quite a run in the second half of the season, after Christmas the only time the team lost back to back games was in March after the team had their playoff spot clinched. On the ice, the Broncos kept getting better and better and I think the biggest reason for that was the work of Mark, Darcy and Chris.

Mark’s parents were regulars at the Civic Auditorium and the Elgar Petersen Arena. They would come watch every game that Mark would play; sometimes they would be accompanied by Mark’s girlfriend Molly. They would travel from Strasbourg to not only Estevan, but to every single rink in the SJHL. I’m sure they can’t count on one hand, the amount of Mark’s games they missed. I remember one time at the end of my first season, Mark’s Dad came up to me and said “You know Blaine, I’m sure you’re an excellent announcer, but I’ve never heard you call a game. “ Most Junior Hockey parents have to rely on the radio to hear their kids play, but not Mark’s parents. I really enjoyed talking to them in Humboldt this season, especially smiling and waving to them from the press box at the EPA. My heart is bleeding is for Mark’s family right now, and they are in my thoughts.

One thing I’ve enjoyed over the last few days was reading the many articles from Mark’s family, and his teammates at York talk about how great of a guy he was, it just confirms what I already know.
Mark treated everyone with respect, he was kind, he was a leader to every team that he played and coached for. He always had a smile on his face and made sure he made everyone around him feel important. I’m so lucky to call him not only a “working colleague”, but a friend. One thing I’ve realized over the last few days, even though Mark was six years younger than me, I really looked up to him.

I spent the past three years as the match of Brody Hinz through the Big Brother & Little Brother program Most of time spent with Brody was watching and talking sports. Among his loves were Ron McLean and Don Cherry, he often talked about McLean’s stories on Hometown Hockey and Don Cherry memorial tributes on Coaches Corner.  Besides Ron and Don, Brody loved the Winnipeg Jets, the San Francisco 49ers , Toronto Blue Jays, Saskatchewan Roughriders and of course the Humboldt Broncos.

Brody spent his time volunteering with Big Brothers, Soup Kitchen, his church, the HCI Mohawks Football team and other sport teams at the high school. I’m probably missing a few since volunteering was a passion for Brody. He started volunteering with the Broncos this season and was planning to continue working with the Broncos next year. He was looking into a career possibly in sports administration and he was taken from us, way too soon.

There’s no doubt I feel a strong connection with Tyler Bieber., We grew up in Humboldt, we loved sports and we both became broadcasters. Tyler’s true passion was volunteer coaching, there were a few times this season I had to fill in for him as Radio announcer so Tyler could coach basketball. Tyler has been a volunteer coach with the HCI Mohawks Football team for many years, but my first memory with him and the football team, was 15 years ago when Tyler was volunteering with the team as an equipment manager. My heart goes out to Tyler’s family.

My interactions with Darcy Haugen were limited, unfortunately it was only after Friday’s tragedy that I recall seeing Darcy’s pictures inside of the old Civic Auditorium in Estevan. I really only have one memory of Darcy. When I travelled with the Broncos to Nipawin a couple of months ago, Darcy brought one of his sons on the bus. As you can imagine, the little guy was beyond excited. I remember him asking Darcy a million questions, and I kept wondering if Darcy was going to get mad or lose his cool, but each and every time he looked at his son, and I just saw smiles and warm kindness. Darcy answered every single question and the tone of his voice was with loving care. Like many others, I find myself now thinking I wish I could’ve gotten to know Darcy better.

There was a sign in the area by our Tim Horton’s in December that said over 430 volunteer hours provided by the Humboldt Broncos team. Considering that was in December, I could only imagine what that total would be now. Volunteer work is what Junior A Hockey is all about. The community comes out and supports the team and the team comes out and support the community. I should say region, the Broncos not only volunteered in Humboldt, but they spent time in Watson, Cudworth, Bruno and so many of the small towns in our area. Humboldt lost a huge chunk of our heart and spirit on Friday.

While I always sat in front of the bus, I was always one of the last guys off. The players had to unload the all the equipment while I was lucky enough to head straight to my car and drive home. On my last bus trip with the Broncos, 20 year Connor Lukan stopped and offered me to go ahead of me. I respectfully declined, but even before Friday that small, kind gesture really meant a lot to me.

Heading into the first game of the playoffs against the Melfort Mustangs, the one player who I kept thinking about was Jaxon Joseph.  Joseph was traded to the Broncos from Melfort in the middle of the season. He excelled after his trade to Humboldt, ending up with 28 goals. But no doubt, Joseph was highly motivated for Game 1 of the playoffs at the Northern Lights Palace. Joseph responded leading the Broncos with 2 goals and an assist in a 7-2 win over Melfort. Joseph ended the series with 6 goals. It’s always great to see when a motivated player like Joseph not only succeed but thrive in the moment. All I can remember from that night was hearing the boos from the Mustangs fans, but all I could see was the smile on Jaxon’s face.

Sometime over these next few days please take time to learn more about Kaleb Dalhgren and all the volunteer work he does. Along with Diabeauties program, Kaleb spent countless hours volunteering at the rink, playing floor hockey and helping out at the local schools. I’ve heard a lot stories from my friends who have kids, and they all have said that Kaleb is a really nice kid and how great he treated their own. Kaleb was very approachable, he would say Hi, how’s it going when you walk pass him, and he was always game for an interview. On a team full of special kids, Kaleb definitely stands out and I’m happy that he is still here with us.

There will never be a day in my life that I won’t forget about those there were taken from us. Like everyone else I’m keeping the other players and Dana in my thoughts and hope that they will all be able to go home some day.

When people ask how I’m doing, I’m grieving, but I’m not grieving alone. I’m grieving with family, friends, my community, my province and really the entire world.

This past weekend I had a lot of What Ifs in my mind, but now the question has to be changed from What If to What Can I do. And right now the only thing I can do is help share the stories of those we lost on Friday, April 6.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Putting Your Money on Red Week 1 (Fantasy Football Picks)

Today is one of my favorite days of the year, it's opening day in the NFL. Nothing but football from the moment I open my eyes until I go to sleep...sounds like heaven to me.

Besides the football games itself, the thing I love most about FootballDay (I won't be calling it Sunday until February) is Fantasy Football.

Most people tune into ESPN, NFL Network, FOX, CBS (ok no one under 50 watches CBS) for the latest fantasy advice, and years of watching these "fantasy experts" has made me believe I'm just as smart as these hacks, so I'm going to prove it.

I actually filmed a video explaining my start ems and sit ems, but I didn't realize how long it takes to upload the video, so I promise next week this feature will be in video form.

But here's my list of start em's and sit ems'.



Andrew Luck- Indy
Colin Kaepernick- SF
Carson Palmer- Ari
Derek Carr-Oak


Arian Foster-Hou
Matt Forte-Chic
Toby Gerhart-Jax
Mark Ingram- NO

Emmanuel Sanders- Den
Vincent Jackson-TB
Pierre Garcon- Wash
James Jones Oak


Vernon Davis- SF
Denis Pitta- Bal
Zach Ertz-Phil
LaDarius Green-SD


New Orleans Saints
Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Bucaneers
Detroit Lions

Sit ems


Phil Rivers- San Di
Cam Newton- Car
Brian Hoyer- Clev

Steven Jackson-Atl
Maurice Jones-Drew Jax
Bernard Pierce- Bal

Keenan Allen- SD
Sammy Watkins- Buf
Kelvin Benjamin- Car


Antonio Gates- SD
Eric Ebron- Det
Jared Cook- St.L


Washington Redskins
Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 NFL Predictions

Ever since I was a little kid I've always made predictions for the major sporting leagues (I count the CFL as major league in this case).

So feel free to take a look at these picks and laugh now, trust me it's funnier looking back at them in about 6 months.

Predicted Regular season standings

AFC East
1. New England-- Another year on top, but the gap is closing.
2. NY Jets-- At this point I'm more worried about their secondary than their offence
3 Miami- If their offense improves, might push for a wildcard
4. Buffalo- Unless Watkins is the new Megatron, their trade with Clev. will look incredibly stupid


1. Cincinnati- I like this team in the regular season. Playoffs though...
2.  *Baltimore- A bounce back year for the Ravens.  
3. Pittsburgh- If there's a team that reeks 8-8, it's this one.
4. Cleveland- Wouldn't be surprised if they traded Manziel with 2 first rounders in is Cleveland remember, and I'm sure Jerry would listen.


1. Indy-- Andrew Luck is going to have an MVP type season
2. *Houston- I'm predicting Mallett takes over by Week 6
3. Jacksonville- Next year could be the Jags breakout year.
4. Tennessee- Possible landing spot for Winston or Mariota if they declare.


1. Denver- Probably the best record in the regular season.
2. Oakland- Only reason I think this, is because Carr is starting at QB and not Schaub.
3. San Diego- Not sold on the Chargers D
4. Kansas City-  Let's see how KC handles a tougher schedule.


1.Philadelphia- The Eagles won't miss a beat. 
2.Washington- Their offence is going to be good this year..not sure about their D.
3. NY Giants- The Giants are going to break the trend being good every second year.
4. Dallas- How is this D going to be better when they got rid of their best player.


1.Green Bay- Only question I have on this team is their secondary.
2.*Chicago- The D is going to be better, the offence will still be good
3 Detroit- Should've made the playoffs last year. Not going to this year again
4.Minnesota- Wouldn't be surprised if AP is traded after this season.


1.New Orleans- Best record in the NFC
2. Tampa Bay- A sleeper pick of mine, but I like their offence and their D will be a lot better
3. Carolina- Unless Cam Newton is the MVP, I can't see a return trip to the playoffs
4. Atlanta- Defense wins championships, and this isn't even close to a championship D.


1. San Fran- If they stay afloat early, the returns of Bowman and Aldon will spark this team
2. *Seattle- I like Russell Wilson, would cheer for the guy on probably any other team
3. Arizona- Carson Palmer isn't a playoff QB
4. St. Louis- Shaun Hill and Case Keenum ain't taking you to the playoffs in this division.


New England beats Houston
Baltimore beats Cincinnati
Indy over New England
Denver over Baltimore
Indy over Denver


Philly over Chicago
Seattle over Green Bay
San Fran over Philly
Seattle over New Orleans
San Fran over Seattle

Super Bowl

San Fran over Indy

Off Player Andrew Luck
Def Player JJ Watt

Off Rookie- Derek Carr
Def Rookie- JaDeveon Clowney 

Enjoy the season everyone..

Rediscovering a Passion

How long can a writer’s block last? Judging by this blog you can tell that mine has now lasted for a year. When I moved back to Humboldt, I was initially going to continue blogging except I couldn’t figure out what the heck I was going to write about. I didn’t feel like I could blog on the local sports scene because I’m not connected to the sports scene like I was when I was working as a play by play announcer.

If you know me, sports are a big part of my life, and you shouldn’t fight your passion in life, you should embrace it as much as you can. I admit for months I was ready to start blogging again, I kept thinking who the hell really cares what I think? Truth is I still think about that question, but I realized it doesn’t matter, and it's pointless just thinking about it. I just want to express my thoughts about the sporting world and resume an old hobby. 

I’m not sure how often I will blog, but I’m going to do some different things on the blog. I’ve got some ideas, and while I don’t have a clear direction where I am going, I look forward to the creative freedom I experience when working on the blog. 

So feel free to continue reading on the blog, my next posting will be my thoughts about the NFL season and my predictions. 

This blog is going to be more of what the title implicates..My 2 Cents... It's just going to be more of my 2 cents on the sporting world, and soon enough I just may provide my 2 cents outside of sports.

I’m going to close with a quote from one of my favorite athletes of all time, Michael Jordan.

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What I Did This Summer and What I'm Doing This Year

You may have noticed that I pretty much took the summer off from blogging..I've spent the summer transitioning into my new job as a Producer for Access Communications in the Humboldt-Melfort area.

There has been a lot of adjustments moving back..even if it's my hometown.

I did manage some vacation time during August as I traveled west to Vancouver for a wedding and managed to head to Seattle for a couple of days to check out the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners in a pair of games at Safeco Field.

I took the train down from Vancouver to Seattle while the scenery was beautiful, the 2 hour delays weren't. The 4 hour ride turned into a 6.5 trip.

The first Blue Jays and Mariners game I went to manage to take a picture of the opening pitch from the right field bleachers. (pictured to the right) Which was a good thing because Jose Reyes would crush this pitch to Center Field about two sections from me, it was pretty cool seeing the first pitch go over the fence.

I stayed in downtown Seattle for the night so I wasn't too far away from the major tour attractions. In the morning I stopped by Pike Place Market.

Then it was up to the Space Needle and you get such a beautiful view of Seattle from the top of the Needle.

Also at the Seattle Centre there's the EMP Museum, and you would enjoy if you're like me a  huge Nirvana fan as they have an entire wing dedicated to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.

I went to the third and final game of the Jays and Mariners series. While the Jays lost, it was still a fun day to be at the ball park.

So that's a quick summary of my trip to Seattle. I took like a 1,000 pics but I couldn't post them all on here.

The other highlight was covering the Stanley Cup Day in Lanigan with Sheldon Brookbank. I've had the opportunity to kiss the Stanley Cup. Still I think I topped that experience

Along with my normal day to day with duties with Access, I'm going to be joining the SJHL Game of the Week broascasts on Access as an ice level reporter. You'll see during the intermissions of the broadcasts as I interview the players and coaches of the SJHL. I'm looking forward to covering all the teams after spending the last 5 years following one team. So that is part of what I will be blogging, I'm looking forward to traveling the province and checking out of the SJHL rinks from a different perspective. My first two games involve my old team the Estevan Bruins, first the opener which is tonight and then I head to Estevan next week.

I'll also be launching a Humboldt version of Locker Talk in the near future as it will be taking place at the new Boston Pizza when it opens this fall.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

So Long Estevan..Thanks for the Memories..

It’s been a month since I left my position of the Play by Play Announcer as the Estevan Bruins and Morning News & Sports Anchor for Goldenwest Radio. I was planning to post a final blog posting from Estevan around that time of my departure but the final weeks in Estevan were quite hectic and left me little time to wrap around my final thoughts.  During my holidays there were a couple of times I attempted to put together a blog posting but I suffered the famous “writers block”.

But first off I just want to thank the community of Estevan for the past 4+ years, I met some amazing people during my time in the Energy City and to list them all would be nearly impossible. Thanks to anyone that helped me out whether it was at the radio station, at the rink or anywhere else in the community.

There are a few memories that stick out in time in Estevan. One of them was being a part of the football program. When I first moved to Estevan I was shocked to find out there was no high school football program in the city, coming from an area with tiny communities that had 6 man football I just couldn’t believe a City with over 10,000 people didn’t have a high school team. I’m proud to have been a member of the Elecs football for their first 4 seasons of existence. 

 I really enjoyed my time as a coach for the Elecs and while the team didn’t win too many games, I believe the foundation has been made for future success. I want to thank Marco, Mark and the rest of the coaching staff for making the coaching experience so enjoyable, the players who were great to work and the volunteers of football in Estevan who are some of the hardest working people that I know. 

One of the things I enjoyed about my time in Estevan was the Fundraising Dinners, whether they were for Spectra Place or for the Football program. I had the chance to listen to a lot of great speakers over the years, but the one dinner that will always stick out in my mind is the dinner in March of 2010 which was highlighted by Steve Yzerman only a couple of weeks after Canada claimed Gold in Men’s Hockey of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It was just amazing shaking the hand of Yzerman and getting to meet one of the greatest Captains in hockey history. 

One of my favorite days in Estevan was the Kraft Celebration Tour. It’s kind of weird thinking that Estevan will be the last stop for Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole in Saskatchewan as a part of the tour with the announcement that they will be leaving for FOX Sports One in LA next month. Jay and Dan were two of the nicest guys I have ever had the chance to interview. I was amazed by the energy Jay had in his suit despite the temperature being around +33 throughout Sportscentre. At the time Estevan had the largest attendance on the Kraft celebration Tour and it was great to see the community rally together after the severe floods from the spring of 2011.

But no doubt the best part of my job was being the voice for the Estevan Bruins. First I want to thank all the volunteers and staff of the Bruins organization, the fans, the parents of the players for all of their support over the years. I want to thank Karry Biette, Sean Garagan, Chad Leslie, Keith Cassidy and Cole Zahn for all of their help as coaches of the Bruins. They always made job a lot easier and were all very accessible for interviews whenever I needed them. 

The Estevan Bruin players were unbelievable to me. In my 5 years with the Bruins every single Bruins player was great to me and I really appreciated that.  It was unfortunate that the Bruins never achieved much success in the standings during my time with the team but I will always look back with fond memories because of the friendships I made with the team.

One of the guys who I have to give a special shutout is Lucas Stubel. There was no one in Estevan who I interviewed more  than Stubs, I think in his first year he was a little bit hesitant but soon enough he became my go to guy whenever I needed an interview from a Bruin. It was unfortunate that Stubel got injured late in his 20 year old season but if there was one benefit it was that he stepped inside of the booth to provide color commentary, a job he would continue to help me out for the last couple of years while he played Senior Hockey in Bienfait and Midale. Also I have to give a shout out to Mark Cross and Ty Ariss for being the other two players who were with the Bruins for my first three years with the team. 

There was only one player who was with the Bruins for 4 years during my time with the team and that was Dylan Smith. Smitty was an outstanding player on the ice and he always very accommodating to me with interviews, whether it was practice, after the game or when he was in Connecticut. I appreciate all the help he provided me over the years.

While I enjoyed all five years with the Bruins, my favorite was my third season with the Bruins (2010-11). There were a lot of great guys who were with the Bruins for that season only like Troy Hunter, Ben Findlay, Joel Kot, Joel Danyluk, and others. Along with the vets there were a lot of talented rookies on the team including Josh Jelinski, Ryan Ostertag, Eric Baldwin, Cole Olson. With the mix of vets and rookies it made for a great locker room atmosphere, and while the team failed on their high expectations, I looked back at that year with fond memories that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I also have to give a special shutout to Cole Olson. It’s been a lot of fun watching Olly play over the last three years, it almost seemed like yesterday I was chasing him in Battlefords for our first interview. On the ice, Olly was the hardest working player who gave it all on every night. Off the ice, while he didn’t say too much, everyone loved Olly and you will never hear anyone ever say a bad word about Olly.
Other players who I just want to say thanks for everything they’ve done for me during my time in Estevan include Matthew Dochylo, Chris Daniels, Michael Hengen, Calder Neufeld, Dominic Perrault, Matt Brykaliuk, Tanner Froese, Tyler Poskus, Austin Yano just too name a few, I know I’m missing some names but like I said the list would be too long to name it all.  

I’ve just started my new position in Humboldt as an Assistant Producer for Access Communications. You may see my face (and hear my voice) with the SJHL broadcasts on Access in the fall.
I plan on keeping this blog running, there probably won’t be much material for the next bit while I get settled in the new job. I might just post some random thoughts of mine in the sports world while I get settled back in the local scene. 

 I also plan on producing/hosting Locker Talk in Humboldt so check back for details on that in the future.  I do plan on making some changes as compared to the show I did in Estevan but I have no timetable yet on when I will start that up. 

And while I look back on my days in Estevan fondly, I’m excited to be back home and seeing the familiar faces in my life once again. I hope you come back and see the world of sports through my eyes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Thank You

In case you don't follow me on Twitter but I announced today that I've stepped down as the Play by Play Announcer for the Estevan Bruins and New/Sports Anchor for Goldenwest Radio in Estevan.

I'll provide a more appropriate Thank You blog posting before my final day which is next Friday, but I quickly want to thank everyone who has made these last 5 years in Estevan so great.

Thanks Again!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Estevan Bruins Spring Camp

The Estevan Bruins held their Spring Camp this weekend, and I had the chance to speak with Bruins Scout (former Assistant Coach) Cole Zahn about the camp and what's next for the Bruins.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Q an A with Riders Weston Dressler, Geroy Simon and Corey Chamblin at Estevan Football Dinner

It was another successful Estevan Football Fundraiser Dinner last night at the Days Inn Plaza. The guest speakers of the evening were the Saskatchewan Roughriders Head Coach Corey Chamblin, newcomer Geroy Simon and the popular Weston Dressler.

All the money raised will be going to the football program here in Estevan. I had a chance to speak with all three speakers.

Geroy Simon

                                                                       Corey Chamblin


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cassidy Removed as Head Coach/GM of the Bruins

The Estevan Bruins announced today they would be parting ways with Keith Cassidy. I apoligize I won't be able to provide more details as I'm away on vacation until next week.
Here's the statement from the team
The executive of the Estevan Bruins Hockey Club would like to announce it has decided not to renew the contract of head coach and general manager Keith Cassidy. He will no longer handle head coach and GM duties effective immediately.
"We would like to thank Keith for his contributions to the Bruins organization. Keith played a key role in the team's transition to Spectra Place and has been a stro
ng ambassador in the community," said president Jeff Pierson. "However this is a results based business and there is no getting around the fact the past year was a disappointing one. We feel our fans deserve a winning team and we will take all steps necessary to make that happen."
Pierson added that the search for a new head coach and GM will begin immediately.