Pro basketball is finally back in the spotlight Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre when the Island Storm (3-4) meets the Moncton Miracles (1-4) in an important Atlantic Division meeting.
In their home opener back on Thursday, Nov. 6, the Storm rallied to defeat Saint John 108-102 in a thriller before almost 2,800 fans. Tomorrow‚Äôs game is the first weekend game for the Storm this season and I expect another great crowd. Don‚Äôt let Moncton‚Äôs record fool you, they lost in overtime last time against the Storm in a game the Miracles led from start.
The Halifax Rainmen lead the Atlantic with a 3-2 record, with the Storm and Saint John Mill Rats are 3-4. Moncton has beaten Halifax and lost two close ones to the Rainmen and Storm, most recently 117-112 to the local club.
The Storm is much different than the team that opened the season here as both Renardo Sidney and point guard Myron Strong have been released.
Six-foot-11 centre Nick Evans has been a big surprise for the Storm playing much more than in the previous two years and delivering big time. Brandon Robinson, one of the league‚Äôs best pure shooters, is again among the league‚Äôs leading scorers and last week was named the National Basketball League of Canada‚Äôs player of the week.
Sharpshooting point guard Sammy Zeglinski continues to impress, as he pumped in 22 points in the overtime win over Moncton while newcomer Louis Birdsong, who had just arrived, bagged 25 points and five rebounds. Tomorrow‚Äôs game is the second of two this weekend for the Storm who is in Halifax today against the Rainmen with first place on the line.
Canada‚Äôs greatest football game, the Grey Cup, goes tomorrow in Vancouver and it sees Eastern Conference champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stamps. The Cats mauled Montreal last week in Hamilton while Calgary dominated Edmonton and both teams scored 40 or more points, setting the stage for the big matchup.
Tiger-Cats‚Äô quarterback Zach Collaros and Calgary‚Äôs Bo Levi Mitchell are young and up and comers and it will be interesting to see how they handle the Grey Cup stage. The Grey Cup has always been a thrilling game and I don‚Äôt see this year‚Äôs contest to being any different.
In university football, the Vanier Cup goes today in Montreal and it pits McMaster Marauders, who beat Mount Allison 24-12 last Saturday, against Montreal Carabins, who edged the Manitoba Bisons 29-26 on the strength of quarterback Gabriel Cousineau, who threw for 420 yards and two touchdowns.
The UPEI men‚Äôs hockey Panthers complete their first half schedule tonight at MacLauchlan Arena when they entertain the St. Thomas Tommies.
The Panthers (6-7-2) can get back to .500 with the win while the Tommies (1-11-3) are trying to move up in the standings. The Tommies can score, but have problems defending. The Panthers can defend, but need scoring.
The Panthers are getting great performances from high-scoring defenceman Reg Traccitto, speedy Chris Desousa and Cole MacMillan, son of ex-NHLer Bob MacMillan. Cole is not only great with the biscuit, but will flatten you like his uncle Billy MacMillan, one of the most feared NHL body checkers in the 1960s with the Leafs.
The annual drivers championship headlines the afternoon card at the city track as the eight top drivers at the local oval will be competing for money and the trophy presented to the top driver in the afternoon competition.
Jason Hughes and Marc Campbell, who are battling for the wins title, are among the eight drivers along with Corey Macpherson, Gilles Barrieau, Vince Poulton, Gary Chappell, Ron Matheson and Terry Gallant.
Chappell had been slated to drive but due to a clerical error, Mark Bradley was omitted from the original eight. In a real show of sportsmanship, Gary took himself out of the competition and handed the reins to Bradley.
‚ÄúClerical errors do happen,‚ÄĚ laughed Chappell, who finally persuaded Bradley to drive in his place this afternoon.
For the fans, there will be various draws for turkeys, betting vouchers and other merchandise, which should make for a great day at the track.
Racing begins at 1 p.m. and the $1,600 feature goes in Race 12 and it‚Äôs the final leg of eight races in the drivers championship. The starters are from the rail out: Van Zant, Brodys Leona, Sa Summers Luck, Cambest Kisser, This Bird Will Fly, Astronomical Union, Teddys Place and Blu Meadow Willie.
At Woodbine this past week, Charlottetown owner Dan MacIsaac‚Äôs top trotter Catch the Dream continued his winning ways with an easy 1:54:2 score in the $22,000 Monday trot class. That should keep Dan in the Cuban cigars for quite some time.
Jimmy Quinn‚Äôs Big Surf, who had handled the $15,000 claimers, was second last week at Woodbine in 1:51:2 for trainer Richard Moreau and driver Trev Henry. Quinn bought this Somebeachsomewhere three year old from Reg Petitpas a few months ago.
The $30,000 feature tonight at Woodbine has a top field with Nickle Bag (Trev Henry) and Dapper Dude (James MacDonald), the favourites, leaving from Posts 9 and 5, respectively.
At Yonkers Raceway, Mark MacDonald has a full slate of 12 drives and has been red hot at the New York track. Mark drives former Jug winner Michaels Power from Post 2 in the $35,000 top class in a tough field, including Gold Cup elimination winner Mickey Hanover.
Charlottetown‚Äôs Kent Oaks was in Toronto late this week for Standardbred Canada meetings and took in a horsemen‚Äôs game between Jamieson‚Äôs Jets and the Brewmasters. Jody Jamieson and Michael Whelan scored for the Jets in the 3-2 loss, but according to Kent, Jets goalie Curtis MacDonald was spectacular keeping it close as J.J. and his mates seldom ventured into their own end.
The harness racing community lost another former owner with the passing last week of Summerside‚Äôs Ulric Gallant, who was
also a top senior player with hockey Summerside Aces of the 1960s. To all connected, my condolences.
After a trio of Thursday Thanksgiving games, there is still very much to decide in the NFL.
New England Patriots (9-2) at Green Bay Packers (8-3) ‚Äď This contest features the two best quarterbacks in the league in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The Patriots are underdogs at Lambeau, but not by this odds maker. I cannot go against the Pats, no matter where they play.
Washington Redskins (3-8) at Indianapolis Colts (7-4) ‚Äď As I said many times previously, the Colts always beat the teams they should beat and the Redskins are not much stock. The Skins finally replaced Robert Griffin III with Colt McCoy but it doesn‚Äôt matter. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is the real deal.
Miami Dolphins (6-5) at New York Jets (2-9) ‚Äď Normally I wouldn‚Äôt bet the Florida teams coming north into cold winter weather, but the woeful Jets were blasted last week by Buffalo Bills. Miami has a top quarterback in Ryan Tannehill while the Jets have Geno Smith or Michael Vick. Gotham needs Batman right now.
San Diego Chargers (7-4) at Baltimore Ravens (7-4) ‚Äď Here‚Äôs a west coast club coming east and I don‚Äôt like that scenario. The Chargers are always tough with Phil Rivers at QB, but the Ravens showed heart with a goal-line stand against the Saints last week. If you bet the Ravens you give up six points, so jump aboard.