© Jason Malloy/The Guardian
Amin Suleman is a first-year guard with the UPEI Panthers. He's from Toronto.
The Island Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada meets the Niagara River Lions today at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre in the second of two weekend games that should be a good test for the Charlottetown-based club.
Friday ex-Storm standouts Brandon Robinson and Adrian Moss were back in town and from the talk at sports watering holes around the city, I expected the biggest crowd of the season.
Niagara is an interesting club and new to P.E.I. but it boasts stars like ex-Storm point guard Sammy Zeglinski, who is averaging 18 points per game plus standouts Marcus Lewis and Logan Stutz.
The Storm has a solid club with popular returnees Mike Martin, Nick Evans, Alex DesRoches from Moncton plus highly touted newcomers Terry Thomas, Brent Jennings and Malcolm Grant. Thomas, who had 21 points Sunday is a former star with St. F.X. from East Preston, N.S. He transferred from X to the Ottawa Gee Gees, where he was a second-team Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-star, so he'll be worth watching.
The UPEI men's basketball Panthers are among the top teams in the Atlantic conference. They also have a standout from Halifax in Tyler Scott, last year's CIS second-team all-star, who will be in action tonight against Acadia.
In defeating arch-rival Saint Mary's here last week, Scott was simply outstanding, scoring at will to the tune of 34 points.
Coach Tim Kendrick has put together a team with size and depth including a couple of impressive rookie guards in Zach Usherwood and Amin Suleman. Talented Brad States is averaging almost 20 points per game and how about the trio of big boys Dut Dut, Milo Sedlarevic and newcomer six-foot-eight Jonathan Hovingh, who all impressed in the 22-point drubbing of SMU.
The Acadia Axemen handed the Panthers two defeats in Wolfville, N.S., before Christmas, so this is a big game.
The teams played Friday and both men and women are at it again tonight at 6 and 8 p.m. at UPEI.
The Charlottetown Islanders are on the road tonight in Moncton before returning home Sunday against the Halifax Mooseheads in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play. The Islanders need a big second-half surge to climb into a more favourable playoff pairing.
In other hockey news, Jimmy Cullen, who starred here with the Old Spain Penguins Juniors with guys like Vince Mulligan and Stan Peardon in 1960 and who played with the St. Mikes Buzzers in the early 1960s, is back home permanently. Cullen's teammates at St. Michael's included stars like Mike Corbett, Mike Walton, Gary Dineen and Jim Keon.
Jimmy moved to Windsor, Ont., and was the sports editor at the Windsor Star for 35 years. It was great to see Jimmy and his sister Lynn this past week.
Live harness racing continues today at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a 13-dash card.
The $2,350 open mares has a field of seven with Best Risque and Sam on the outside. Congratulations to Bill Andrew of Meridian Farms on being named the winner of the Cam Fella Award for his tireless support of harness racing throughout Canada.
At Woodbine tonight, Dave Ratchford's Ms MacN Cheese is entered in the $30,000 open mares class.
At Yonkers, Melmerby Beach, Aslan and Phil Your Boots look the best in the $32,000 preferred class while at the Meadowlands, Atta Boy Dan, who was second in the Cup and Saucer, and Doctor Butch will be toughest in the $25,000 top class.
At Pompano Park, Florida, Serge Savard's Arthur Blue Chip (Wally Hennessey) has Post 6 in the $12,000 open pace.
The Prophet's Football Picks
The road to the Super Bowl narrows with four huge NFL playoff games this weekend.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots - The Pats are rested and getting healthy with receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman back. Patriots QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have a week to prepare and that's the difference. The Pats cover the four-point spread.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals - The Packers looked awesome in dumping Washington last week now they travel to Arizona where they were shelled 38-8 earlier this year. Are the Packers as good as they looked last week? Green Bay's offensive line and questionable pass defence against Cardinals Carson Palmer tells the Prophet Arizona can cover the 7.5-point spread.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers - The Minnesota Vikings should have beaten Seattle last week, but missed an easy field goal. Seattle travels to Carolina Sunday where they are three-point dogs simply because Carolina beat them 27-23 early in the season. Seattle gets Marshawn Lynch back and they're hot and lucky, which spells upset to me. Seattle by a TD.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos - The Steelers will be without top back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown while QB Ben Roethlisberger has a banged up throwing shoulder. If Peyton Manning has anything left, the Broncos win and should cover the seven-point spread.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.