Fiddler's Facts: Storm games worth price of admission

Fred MacDonald
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Canadian junior hockey team should have more players from Quebec league

If you love basketball Sunday’s 2 p.m. game at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown  between  the hometown Island Storm (7-5) and the power-packed Windsor Express (9-4) is where you should be.

Windsor, the second-place team in the professional National Basketball League of Canada, is loaded with talent. Stefan Bonneau, who is averaging 24 points per game, is a standout and he has a great supporting cast with the likes of Darren Duncan (16 points per game), Chris Commons (19) and Quinnel Brown (15). Some league followers believe  the Storm and Express  have the personnel to bring home a championship.

The Storm’s Antonio Ballard is a tremendous player at both ends, leading the Charlottetown- based team with 22 points per game and in rebounds as well. Brooklyn, N.Y.,  native Greg Plummer is averaging 16 points and a pair of slick guards in Al Stewart and Shawn Vanzant bring ball handling and playmaking to another level. I’ve been to Storm games and with tickets at $10, I guarantee you will be a repeat customer. If you haven’t seen the Island Storm yet, give yourself a Christmas present and take in Sunday’s game.

National junior team

The Hockey Canada folks have me really annoyed.

The national junior team once again has overlooked the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when it comes to selecting the team that will carry Canada’s colours at the upcoming world junior championship during Christmas and New Year’s. The Quebec league has won four of the last five Memorial Cups — Shawinigan, Halifax and Saint John twice — yet those that select the team have picked just four players from it to the 25-man roster for the tournament. In the recent Russian national junior team’s tour of Canada, the Quebec league won both their games while the Russians took two of two from Ontario and split with the Western league.

If you listen to Ontario and Western league spokesmen for the national junior team, you get the impression the selection process is fair and just.  They want you and I to believe they take the best players available, but I have a huge problem with that. And don’t tell me those organizers know what’s best. I still think of Wayne Gretzky sitting on the bench while five others were selected for a shootout in Canada’s seventh-place finish at the Olympics in Italy. I know, it was the Olympic team, but it’s the same hockey group — all based in Toronto.

While the national junior team is set to begin practices in Toronto, you will not hear any mention of the imbalances as to which league the players represent. But think of this, Toronto has Rob Ford as mayor, the Ontario government of Wynne-McGuinty  is entangled in at least three separate $1 billion dollar-plus fiascos (Ontario Power Corp., SARS and Ontario Northland Transportation), Toronto Blue Jays have Alex Anthopoulos and  John Gibbons and they finished dead last in 2013, Toronto Maple Leafs had Brian Burke and Ron Wilson, the sad-sack basketball Raptors call Toronto home, and there’s more.  Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls all these pro teams. last year hired Tim Leiweke as CEO and president. Are there no Canadians that could guide the fortunes of the Maple Leafs, one of hockey’s great franchises?  

If you are waiting for an apology from Team Canada for overlooking the Quebec league, don’t hold your breath waiting.

Around the NFL

The weather has been bitterly cold in the eastern U.S. and some of the NFL games were played in the snow last Sunday.

What birdbrain made the decision to play the Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium in the Meadowlands, New Jersey, on Feb. 2, 2014? It should be played in a location where the weather is not a factor or in a dome stadium.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at some of the teams trying to get to a Super Bowl appearance.

The New England Patriots literally “stole” that game last Sunday at Foxboro, beating Cleveland Browns 27-26, thanks to a phantom pass interference call in the final seconds. This Sunday, the Pats (11-3) visit the Miami Dolphins (7-6), who are in a must-win situation. The Fish are tough at home, have a big pass rush and are “field goal” dogs.

Denver’s loss to San Diego on Thursday night means the Patriots have home-field advantage over Denver in their conference if they win over Miami and handle both Oakland and Buffalo in the final two weeks. I know I should never bet against Tom Brady in a meaningful game, but I’ll  take a chance and stick with the Dolphins.

Kansas City (10-3) at Oakland (4-9): I don’t like giving up points and I love the home dogs, but the Raiders were terrible last week and Kansas City crushed the Redskins. Give up four points and jump aboard the Chiefs’ wagon, the spread is away off line.  

Houston (3-10) at Indy (8-5): Colts quarterback Andrew Luck beats the teams he should beat and this is such a game. The spread is just six points and, although the Colts have clinched a playoff spot, they’ve got to stop the skid. If you’re betting  Carolina or even Atlanta at home this week, the spread is seven for Atlanta and 11 for Carolina. I don’t like the idea of giving up double-digit points.

Cincinnati (9-4) at Pittsburgh (5-8) is a much better proposition where you give up 2.5 points if you bet the visitors over the Steelers. The Steelers’ once great secondary looks slower and older and Andy Dalton should have a big day.

If you’re looking for a cold weather game how about Chicago (7-6) at Cleveland (4-9)? The Bears looked sensational in routing the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Josh McGowan was brilliant. This is a another must-win for the Bears and it’s an even money game, too close to call.

How about Seattle (11-2), coming off a loss to San Francisco, against the hometown Giants ( 5-8)? The boys from Gotham are seven-point dogs and they should be after they rolled over in that lopsided loss to San Diego last Sunday. The Seahawks will be hungrier than Wes Sheridan at a Maritime Electric shareholders meeting, so go with Seattle.  

As always, pay the mortgage first. The picks are for fun.

Harness racing

Live harness racing continues this afternoon at the Charlottetown track with a 15-dash card and a 1 p.m. post time.

The $2,000 feature goes in Race 13 and it brings back last week’s winner Pinner, handled by Marc Campbell for co-owners Lillian and Brian Ladner. Pinner drew Post 4 against a tough field that includes Bunny Mach (Jason Hughes), Artist List ( Mark Bradley), Stayoutofmyaffair (Ken Arsenault), Blu Meadow Willie (Brodie MacPhee), Dance Hanover (Brian MacPhee), Nobestbfor (Walter Cheverie) and Doll R General (Mark MacKinnon).

Congratulations to co- owners Billy MacKinnon, Calvin Larkin, Michael Gallant and Shaun MacIsaac as their Shadow Play freshman Braveheart De Vie scored in 2:05 and change last Saturday in Charlottetown for trainer-driver Gilles Barrieau.

The $34,000 Woodbine top class goes tonight and it has, from the rail out, Sparky Mark (Anthony MacDonald), Camaes Fellow (Bill Davis), Casimir Jitterbug (James MacDonald), Franceschetti (Mike Horner), Ideal Race (Jack Moiseyev) and Upfront Hoosier Boy (Randy Waples).

The 13-dash Meadowlands card is also available at the Charlottetown track via simulcast. The $25,000 top class has horses like Dial or No Dial, Fat Mans Alley, Meirs Hanover, Townslight Hanover and four others.

At Pompano Raceway tonight, Wally Hennessey, Rideau Carleton’s top driver John MacDonald and Simon Allard are all in action.

Yonkers Raceway is also available via simulcast where Mark MacDonald has seven horses in to go.

There could be snow flurries in the weather today and that could mean veteran horsemen Horace MacKay and Harold Gillis from Tyne Valley and ex-Woodbine handicapper Bill (Wee) McTague from St. Nicholas will be staying up west and watching via computer.

And let’s not forget the O’Brien Awards in Charlottetown in February. A ticket or two for that event would make a great Christmas present.

See you at the track.

Fred MacDonald’s column appears

in The Guardian each Saturday. He can be reached at

Organizations: Eastlink Centre, National Basketball League of Canada, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Toronto Maple Leafs Ontario Power Ontario Northland Transportation Toronto Blue Jays Team Canada Steelers NFL New England Patriots Foxboro Pats Miami Dolphins Raiders Redskins Dallas Cowboys Seahawks Maritime Electric

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Quebec, Canada Ontario Toronto Brooklyn Shawinigan Saint John Meadowlands Italy Denver San Diego Oakland Atlanta U.S. Metlife Stadium New Jersey Seattle Miami Buffalo Dolphins.Kansas Kansas City Cincinnati Pittsburgh Chicago Cleveland San Francisco Yonkers Tyne Valley

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Recent comments

  • Paul Arsenault
    December 14, 2013 - 21:18

    Right on Fiddler.The Quebec league plays the closest to European hockey and they deserve more respect. Canada has been going downhill since 2009 from Gold to silver,Bronze and nada last year. Also tell me why they don;t have any players from US COLLEGE hockey? You think there are no Canadians playing US College that can.t help the team?Most of the US team comes from College and they won the gold last year

  • Jackofalltrades
    December 14, 2013 - 13:56

    When has the QMJHL won the last 4 of 5 Memorial Cups? They've won the last three. but not a fourth. When did you see Saint John win two Memorial Cups? They were there twice but won once. Get your facts straight before going off on a rant on someone, you might have a little more credibility when doing so.

    • huh
      December 14, 2013 - 18:25

      you're right, but the error is fairly inconsequential to his point.

  • bruce martin
    December 14, 2013 - 08:01

    fred i'm not saying you're wrong but 1 thing the people should know about winning the memorial cup it's allways the teams that illegally spend to make it there.moncton halifax and st.john have huge buildings and lots of corporate money .if the islanders are going to compete they better be prepared to pay big money.when the rich teams know they have a shot they bring big money players in at the trade deadline and do you ever notice the quality of the european imports on the rich teams .