CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Island Storm knew re-signing Franklin Session, regarded by many as the best player in the National Basketball League of Canada, would be a difficult task and competing against oil-rich Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula with the highest per-capita income in the world would be a huge hurdle to overcome.
Although Session will play this season in Qatar, the Storm has signed two standouts from the same Drew League in Los Angeles where Sessions performed. The summer league features collegiate players, many NBA stars like James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, P.J. Tucker, and Kobe Bryant, streetball legends and international stars on 28 invitation-only teams. It was there where Session, the Drew League MVP, sharpened his skills and it is from the same league where the Storm hopes to strike gold again.
Team owner Tim Duncan and head coach Tim Kendrick believe the addition of high-scoring six-foot-four guard Robbie Robinson from The Pandas of the Drew League and the signing of six-foot-five guard Jarrell Tate, a teammate of Session’s with Birdie’s Revenge will make the 2018-19 Storm possibly stronger.
In addition to these two, the Storm also added six-foot-eight forward Sampson Carter, who played his college career at UMass and played briefly with the NBA Memphis Grizzlies as well as professionally in Portugal, Spain and Mexico. That’s great news for Island basketball fans.
Popular and talented six-foot-eight centre Carl Hall will be back, and he was the team’s best forward down the stretch and in the playoffs. Also returning are former UPEI Panthers Tyler Scott and Brad States as well as former Holland College standout Trenity Burdine, who provided useful minutes off the bench last year.
Training camp opens Oct. 31 and the first Storm inter-squad game is set for Nov. 6 at Bluefield. Exhibition games against a touring USA pro team are set for Nov. 9 and 10 at Kensington and Westisle.
The Hunter’s Corner Mudmen RFC captured the Maritime Division 1 rugby championship, the Caledonia Cup, last Saturday at UPEI and returned the trophy to the red soil of P.E.I. for the first time since that powerful Charlottetown Nomads club of 1955.
The victory is a tribute to the dedicated leadership the last 20 years of stalwarts like head coach Eddie Macdonald, Phil Gallant, Sean Doyle, Mike Lloyd and predecessors like 1970s stalwart Ray Moore, ex-UPEI coach Dale MacLeod and standouts like Billy Doucette, Justin Ellis and a host of others. Winning the Caledonia Trophy after a 60-plus year drought is an amazing accomplishment, well done boys.
On the local hockey front, the Charlottetown Islanders are off to a modest 5-5-1 start heading into weekend play, but they entertain high-flying Rimouski Oceanic tonight at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre in a game that should tell us if we are serious contenders in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Rimouski comes into tonight game with five or six players with more points than Islanders leader Derek Gentile (1-8, nine points before Friday’s action). Dmitry Zavgorodniy (7-12, 19) Alexis Lafreniere (4-13, 17), Summerside’s Carson MacKinnon (7-6, 13), Olivier Garneau ( 7-5, 12), Jimmy Huntington (6-6, 12) and Cedric Pare (3-7, 10) provide Rimouski with more firepower than any other team in the league. This is a big test for the Islanders and should tell us what the remainder of the season could look like.
Live harness racing continues today at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a 13-dash card.
Red-Hot Three Truths, co-owned by Jason Rice and Darren Doyle, has the outside post in the five-horse field and this horse has been very sharp for Ken Arsenault. Others in the top class, from the rail out, include: Jackson K Down, Half-Cut, Winter Blast and Czar Seelster.
Also on the card, Mile Hill Willie looks like the best in the $7,000 Maritime Breeders two-year-old trot while Buddy White is the favourite in the $7,850 Maritime Breeders sophomore trot.
There’s an 11-dash card at Summerside Sunday at 1 p.m. with a $2,200 feature, which includes Salmonier Storm, Pictonian Storm, Mando Fun, White Fish Flash and Machinthesand.
At Mohawk tonight, Nocturnal Bluechip is the favourite in the $34,000 top class, which includes Easy Lover Hanover (James MacDonald), Physicallyinclined (Jason Drury) and three others.
Lincoln James (JMac) leaves from Post 2 in a $24,000 conditioned pace for trainer Harry Poulton.
Also at Mohawk, Reg MacPherson’s Shadow Play colt, Carlissimo, won easily Thursday for James MacDonald and trainer James Friday Dean, winning a $17,000 overnight in 1:54:2. The colt is 5-for-11 this season and add that to Sock It Away who is 15-for-15, that’s a lofty Reg MacPherson batting average. On the same card, Claude Poirier’s Shadow of a Daut posted a sharp 1:54:2 victory as well at $17,000.
At The Meadows tonight, there’s a card full of Breeders Crown eliminations where Anthony MacDonald has Lawmaker and Cruising In Style in two eliminations at $25,000 each. A freat card with all the best on the grand circuit.
At Yonkers tonight, Mark MacDonald has Dr J Hanover (Post 3) in the $44,000 top class against the likes of Scott Rocks, Gokudo Hanover and five others.
The NFL heads into Week 7 and on Sundays there are no easy games.
New England Patriots (4-2) at Chicago Bears (3-2) – Last week the Bears were up 10 points in the third quarter but lost to the home Dolphins. Now the Bears go to New England. Betting against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, you could wind up in the soup kitchen. The Pats are only three-point favorites, jump aboard.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) – Last week, I said the Steelers would beat the Bengals at home and they did. Cincinnati cannot win big games and especially not on the road. Chiefs easily cover the six-point spread in a high-scoring game.
Tennessee Titans (3-3) at L.A. Chargers (4-2) – Tennessee were at home last week to Baltimore yet lost badly and had the ball for just 22 minutes. That’s what I call a stinker. Now the Titans are on the road at the L.A. Chargers and Phil Rivers. No thanks, not even with six points.
Cleveland Browns (2-3-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) – Cleveland has a rising QB star in Baker Mayfield and he meets a porous Tampa Bay defence. I like the Browns as three-point road dogs.
Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1) at New York Jets (3-3) – Here’s a tip I got from ex-Colonel Gray great QB Tony MacKenzie, “take the Vikings on the road versus the New York Jets.” The Vikes have Kirk Cousins and are three-point road favourites and he’s up against Jets young QB Sam Darnold. Love Tony’s pick.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.