Sunday November 23, 2014


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A busy year for Bruins, curlers, racers, golfers and more

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771-S-Sports Year in Review w pics 2,290 words

A busy year for Bruins, curlers, racers, golfers and more

By David Willberg


Bruins photo: Estevan Bruin Connor McKenzie tussles with a Flin Flon opponent during a game in October. (Photo credit: Jennifer Durr Photography)

Globetrotters photo: The world famous Harlem Globetrotters paid a visit to Spectra Place, and their renowned basketball wizardry was on display for nearly 1,500 spectators in attendance.

SJHL HOF photo: (L-R) John Shinske (accepting on behalf of Bill Shinske), Ron Dunville, Alan May, Terry Simpson, Ray Frehlick and Bruce Firth gather for a group picture following the SJHL Hall of Fame induction ceremony in February.

ECS Football photo: Estevan Comprehensive School Elecs' running back Cole MacCuish sweeps past a Moose Jaw Central Cyclone in an October game.

Turnbull photo: Estevan's Aaron Turnbull won the modified division at the Estevan Motor Speedway, and was the top driver on the Dakota Classic Modified Tour. (Photo credit: Mackenzie Hientz).

Rodeo photo: The Canadian Cowboys Association made its annual stop in Estevan in September, and there were events in many different disciplines.

It's been another busy year for the local sports community. While Estevan's bid for the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games was at the forefront throughout the year (see front page story for a recap), there was plenty happening for the other sports in the community. Here is a look back at some of the more memorable stories:

Bruins struggle, make a coach and GM change: The Estevan Bruins were eliminated in the Sherwood Conference semi-final for the third straight year in March, as they lost in five games to the eventual SJHL champions, the Yorkton Terriers.

Estevan finished fifth in the conference in the 2012-13 regular season, despite high expectations. They knocked off the Kindersley Klippers in four games in a best-of-five first round series, but then lost to Yorkton.

The Bruins' on-ice struggles resulted in the dismissal of Keith Cassidy as the head coach and general manager at the end of March. Chris Lewgood, who built a junior B powerhouse during his six years with the Pilot Butte Storm, was announced as Cassidy's replacement two months later.

The Bruins have been better in 2013-14, as their record was 15-13-2-3, which left them third in the newly-formed Viterra Division.

Globetrotters come to Estevan: One of the highlights of the year came in early 2013, when the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters visited Estevan. The Globetrotters cruised to a 99-87 win over the Global Selects, but the result was of secondary importance, as the Globetrotters dazzled the crowd with their array of on-court skills, and kept fans laughing with their antics.

Estevan hosts curling southerns: The Power Dodge Curling Centre was the site of the SaskTel Mobility Southern Men's Playdowns in late January. Many of southern Saskatchewan's top curling teams were entered. Estevan's Brent Gedak went 5-2 at the tournament, and won a C final to advance to provincials. Lampman's Mark Walter, meanwhile, won one of four games at southerns.

New name for curling club: The Estevan Curling Club announced early in 2013 that it was selling the naming rights for its building. Power Dodge will pay $250,000 over the next 10 years for the building to be known as the Power Dodge Curling Centre. The Estevan Curling Club will be retained as the rink's incorporated name. It's one of the first instances of a Canadian curling venue selling its naming rights.

Six inducted into SJHL Hall: Six men were inducted into the SJHL's Hall of Fame in early March. Ron Dunville, Bruce Firth and Alan May were the players enshrined. Dunville remains the Bruins' all-time career scoring leader. Firth was a top scorer, too, and May parlayed his time in Estevan into an NHL career. Another former Bruin player, Terry Simpson, was enshrined, too, but his biggest contributions to the SJHL came as the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders' dynasty in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Long-time Bruin executive member and supporter Ray Frehlick, and beloved former general manager Bill Shinske were the other inductees. Frehlick served the team in several different capacities, while Shinske was the general manager when the Bruins were in the WHL, and later the SJHL.

Four locals win national title: Four hockey players who hail from southeast Saskatchewan were part of the Minot State University Beavers team that won the American Collegiate Hockey Association national title in 2013. Goaltender Riley Hengen, defencemen Ryan Curzon and Nigel Dube, and forward Brody Haygarth, were on the team. Dube was named a tournament all-star, while Haygarth scored the championship-winning goal.

Wallewein wins bronze at provincials: The Estevan Comprehensive School's boys curling team, skipped by Riley Wallewein, won the bronze medal at provincials. They had a 4-3 record, and beat Swift Current in the bronze medal game.

Coaler three-peat: The Bienfait Coalers won their third straight Lincoln Cup as the Big 6 Hockey League champions. Bienfait swept the Arcola-Kisbey Combines in four straight games in the league final. Bienfait had a 19-2 record in the regular season, and a 9-0 mark in the playoffs. It was their 13th title in franchise history.

Chargers win again: The Estevan Power Dodge Bantam A Chargers won their second straight South Saskatchewan Female Hockey League title in March. They defeated the Southwest Cyclones 7-3 in a two-game, total-goal league final. The Chargers were the class of the league in 2012-13, as they had a 27-1-4 record between the regular season and the playoffs. The Chargers also reached the provincial final, but lost 10-5 to a Saskatoon team.

Rider coach visits Estevan: The Estevan Football Family's annual fundraising banquet in April had a marquee line-up. Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Cory Chamblin and Rider star receivers Weston Dressler and Geroy Simon were at the event. The event raised thousands of dollars for youth football in Estevan.

Mermaids had a great year: Members of the Estevan Mermaids synchronized swim club continued to thrive in 2013. More than 50 team members competed at provincials in April – the most of any club in the province – and they brought home many medals. Twelve members of the club qualified for Synchro. Saskatchewan's high performance program in the summer, and Mackenzie Dahl was selected to participate in a top summer camp program.

At the provincial awards banquet in the fall, several Mermaids received awards. The organization's head coach, Brenda Lyons, received the Grassroots Volunteer of the Year Award at the national convention in Halifax in November.

Provincial bodybuilding champions: Three competitors from Estevan had first place finishes at bodybuilding provincials in April. Maria Conchita Humphreys was first in the junior women's event. Maureen Gervais finished first in women's physique. And Dana Barlow took first in grand master men's bodybuilding.

New back nine opens: The TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course celebrated the opening of its new back nine in May. The course was shut down in 2011 due to flooding, and it operated as a nine-hole course in 2012 – while the back nine was being rebuilt – and early in 2013. The new back nine drew rave reviews from golfers, and was well-used thanks to many tournaments at the course.

Top athletes recognized: Three people were recognized in May for their contributions to athletics in Estevan. Jeremy Godfrey (football) and Taylor Johnson (wakeboarding) were respectively presented with the Boston Pizza Estevan and District Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards, respectively, while Renee Buskow was honoured with the Estevan Kinsmen Club Volunteer Coach of the Year Award.

Stanley Cup champions panel: Local sports fans had a unique opportunity in May to hear from a trio of Stanley Cup champions, as Bryan Trottier, Marty McSorley and Gary Leeman were the guest speakers at the Estevan Bruins' annual sportsman's dinner fundraiser. They reflected on their careers, and discussed winning hockey's greatest prize, during a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session.

National billiards champions: Kevin and Steven Lalonde won the national doubles title at the Royal Canadian Legion's billiards championship in New Brunswick. Kerry Lalonde and Chris Wright also competed at nationals.

Softball teams at provincials: The Estevan Girls Softball Association sent three teams to provincials in the summer. The Estevan Gem Well Bantam Elite went 3-2 at provincials, and were eliminated in the semi-finals. The Rocket Sales Peewee Elite went 2-2 in the round-robin to finish third in their pool. And the M&H Squirt Elite were 1-2 at their tournament.

A couple weeks after provincials, the bantam Elite travelled to a 19-team, international tournament in B.C., and won a consolation final.

A good year for lacrosse in Estevan: It was a strong year for lacrosse in Estevan. The Tarpon Energy Juvenile Big Dogs went 3-7 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but they went 3-2 in their final five regular season games. Rhett Handley led the Prairie Gold Lacrosse League in scoring with 72 points, and Dylan Smith was second with 58. The Big Dogs also hosted the provincial all-star game in June.

The Harris Oilfield Impact senior team won a couple games and reached the league final.

At the provincial awards ceremony, the Estevan Box Lacrosse Association was presented with the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association's Promotion and Development Award for its growth in 2013, and president Jody Harris was presented with an award from the Canadian Lacrosse Association for her outstanding support and contributions.

Turnbull wins mod tour: Estevan's Aaron Turnbull won the overall championship for the Dakota Classic Modified Tour in July. Turnbull won two of the six races on the tour, including the Estevan tour stop. He also finished in the top five in four of the six features. The tour attracts modified drivers from the Saskatchewan and numerous U.S. states.

Twins reach provincial final: The Southeast Legacy Midget AAA Twins advanced to the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League final in July. The Twins went 13-16 in the regular season, but came together for provincials. They went 2-1 in the round-robin, and then knocked off the Saskatoon Giants 7-6 in the semi-final round. The Twins lost 8-4 to the Regina Wolf Pack in the final. Their performance at provincials earned them a ticket to western Canadians in August, where they suffered three narrow defeats, and went 0-5 overall.

Haulers and Sluggers at provincials: The Estevan Sherritt Coal Bantam AA Haulers went to provincials in North Battleford, and finished with a 1-2 record. The Estevan KPC Mosquito AA Sluggers reached the semi-final round of their tournament in Martensville.

Eels third at provincials: The Estevan Golden Eels swim club finished third at the provincial tournament in Melfort with 597 points. Eighteen local swimmers attended the meet. Two Estevan swimmers won the high aggregate point total for their respective age groups: Hanna Mantei in the nine and 10 girls, and Samuel Beahm in the 15 to 17 boys.

Cubs win Saskota League: The Kenosee Cubs won the Harbourne Cup – which goes to the Saskota Baseball League champions – for the first time in franchise history. The Cubs were strong in the regular season, as they went 13-2-1. Then they defeated the two-time league champions, the Carlyle Cardinals, in the semi-final, and the Lampman Pirates in the final.

Grube wins Men's Classic: Brendon Grube defeated Marcus Friess in the first playoff hole to win his first TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course's men's classic in early August. Both golfers had a 148 total during the two-round tournament.

Steelers win bronze: The South East Steelers women's fast pitch team won the bronze medal at the Western Canadian tournament in August. The Steelers lost the semi-final game to the Calgary Outlaws 2-1 in extra innings, but recovered to beat the Edmonton Warriors 7-4 in the bronze medal game.

Speedway track champions: Aaron Turnbull (modifieds), Gregg Mann (stock cars) and Brandon Beeter (hobby stocks) were the track champions at the Estevan Motor Speedway. It was the second Estevan track championship for Turnbull, and the first for Mann and Beeter.

National wakeboarding medalists: Two members of the No Boundaries Wakeboarding Club won medals at the national wakeboarding championship in August. Taylor Johnson earned the silver medal in the women's division and bronze in the pro women's class. Sage Dayman took first place in the boys' rail competition.

New beach volleyball courts open: Two new beach volleyball courts opened at the Woodlawn Regional Park's Boundary Dam Beach Site in August. A tournament was held in September. It is hoped that the courts will host tournaments and leagues in the future.

Rodeo action in Estevan: More than 200 entrants were in Estevan in September for the city's annual stop on the Canadian Cowboys Association's rodeo tour. Semi-professional and novice entrants competed in various rough stock and timed events.

Minor football recap: The Estevan Lions Club Bantam Steelers finished the season with an 0-7-1 record, and missed the playoffs in the Regina Minor Football League. As for the Estevan Sherritt Coal Atom Miners, they won their home opener in August against the Regina Cougars – their first win in several years – and went 1-5 in the regular season. They lost a bowl game to end the season. Many of their losses were in tight, low-scoring games.

Elecs win one in 2013: The Estevan Comprehensive School Elecs football team won just once in 2013, but it was a historical triumph. They defeated the Moose Jaw Vanier Vikings 14-7 in late September for their first-ever win over a Moose Jaw team. The Elecs' season came to an end in mid-October, when they lost a playoff game to Weyburn.

Speedway creates Wall of Fame: The Estevan Motor Speedway recognized three of its key contributors at its year-end awards banquet, as Bertha Harris, Jim Barnstable and the late Lawrence Lafrentz were inducted into the speedway's Wall of Fame. Harris ran the concession for many years; Barnstable was active as a driver, a builder and a volunteer; and Lafrentz played a pivotal role in the track's formation, construction and growth.

Vilcu receives ultimate honour: Long-time local martial arts instructor Harold Vilcu was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame in November. Vilcu, who operates Vilcu's Karate Club in Estevan, was saluted for his commitment to the sport at local, national and international levels, and for the development of many athletes.

National title for Bittman: Estevan's Michael Bittman won the Canadian Bowl national junior football title in November, when he and his Regina Thunder teammates throttled the Vancouver Island Raiders 55-26 in the final. Bittman, a linebacker for the team, is in his third year of junior football.

Inaugural World Curling Tour event: The Chinese Men's Olympic curling captured the inaugural Weatherford World Curling Tour Classic at the Power Dodge Curling Centre in late November. The Chinese team, skipped by Rui Liu, defeated three-time Saskatchewan men's provincial champion Bruce Korte 4-2 in the final. Liu's only loss was a defeat against local favourite Brent Gedak in the opening round.

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