Winnipeg SportsLife March/April 2020

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sportslife 2020 | Volume 6 | Issue 2

Team Einarson Wins the Scotties

Manitoba Wins 13 Medals at National Youth Speed Skating

Manitoba’s Maddux Mateychuk makes National Jr. Team, Prepares for MLB Draft

Manitoba Edition

Winnipeg’s Matthew Lehmann Makes Canada’s National Table Tennis Team MWJHL Playoffs in Full Swing Richert Signs with Formula Renault Team

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4 sports sportslife life

Manitoba is Golden

06 The Starting Line-Up

26 Table Tennis

Hottest News Stories in Manitoba Sports

Manitoban’s Succeed at Nationals and at World Juniors

28 badminton

Richert Signs with Inter Europol Competition for 2020 Season

30 youth soccer

Taryn Grant Coming Home to Manitoba to Coach This Summer

10 speed skating 13 Motorsport 14 waterski 16 ringette

Urgent Need For Referees in Ringette

18 basketball

News and Announcements

Manitoba has an Outstanding Championship Season/ CurlManitoba’s Hit-Draw-Tap Winners

Amateur Sports League Grows to be Canada’s Largest Touch & Flag League

20 curling

24 Flag Football

Matthew Lehmann named to Canada’s team for the 2020 World Championship

Para-Olympian Olivia Meier Working to Claim Spot at 2020 Olympics In Tokyo

This Year’s Golden Boy Tournament Gold Medal Finals

Manitoba Has a Brand-New Top-Level Preprofessional Soccer Team

32 Soccer

34 baseball

National Junior Team Member Maddux Mateychuk Talking to Major League Teams

36 raquetball

Canada’s National Team Member Christine Richardson

38 Hockey–junior Women’s Playoffs

Photo Feature

SportsLife is Manitoba’s amateur sports magazine. This is where sports fans will meet the Olympians of tomorrow and the medalists of today and they all compete right here in Manitoba. We exist to pay tribute to those who make sport so important to this province. Published by SportsLife Publications, it is edited by Scott Taylor and is designed and developed by Scott Taylor, Debbie Dunmall and OV Suvajac. SportsLife Magazine is printed by Quantum Graphics. Any opinions expressed belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily express the views of the magazine, or of the publishers. All published work is edited for accuracy, style, and clarity. We do accept unsolicited material as long as it refers to athletes, coaches, or volunteers involved in sport in Manitoba. For all information and advertising rates, we can be reached at 204-996-4146 or 204-915-6573. PUBLISHER OV Suvajac Box 66050, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3K 2E7 204-996-4146 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Scott Taylor ART DIRECTOR Debbie Dunmall Advertising and Promotions Scott Browning 204-296-GOAL (4625) COVER PHOTO Vauxhall Baseball Academy CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS James Carey Lauder, Laurie Anderson, Jeff Miller, Sport Canada, Dave Mahussier/University of Manitoba, Scott Taylor, Sport Manitoba, David Larkins/ University of Winnipeg, Connie Laliberte/CurlManitoba, Christine Richardson/Racquetball Canada, Jeff Wigelsworth/ @rdspeedskating, Speed Skating Canada, Richert Racing, Water Ski Manitoba, Michael Burns/Curling Canada, Richard Gray/World Curling Federation, Table Tennis Canada, Winnipeg Winter Club, Cam Nikkel, Vauxhall Baseball Academy CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Scott Taylor, Johnston Hall, Resby Coutts, Al Gowriluk

The Busy Season We’re living in crazy times. And I’m not talking politics, pandemics or the dark crevices of Winnipeg Jets Twitter. I’m just talking about March. March is what it comes down to. It’s that time of year for playoffs, league championships and world championship qualifiers. It’s that time of year when there just isn’t enough space for all the stories that cross our desk. That’s why you’re holding a 40-page edition of SportsLife. And what an issue it is. From our cover story on Junior National Baseball Team member Maddux Mateychuk and his preparations for the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft to National Team table Tennis star Matthew Lehmann and his move to Czech Republic, we have you covered. It’s the time of year when All-Star teams are named and you’ll meet Canada West basketball stars and the class of the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League. You’ll meet speedskating’s Alexa Scott, who climbed the podium at the Junior World Championships, and you’ll meet Olivia Meier who is trying to secure a spot at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Resby Coutts has the inside scoop on Manitoba’s sweep at the World Junior Curling Championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and Kerri Einarson’s heart-wrenching win at the Scotties in Moose Jaw. From auto racer David Richert to soccer’s new FC Manitoba and from Kelsey’s Wog’s brilliance at the national swim meet to water ski champion Taryn Grant’s return to Manitoba, this is a jam-packed issue of SportsLife. – SCOTT TAYLOR Editor-in-Chief

SportsLife is published at least six times a year by SportsLife Publications. All sales are managed by SportsLife Publications. All design and layout is provided by Debbie Dunmall and SportsLife is printed by Quantum Graphics. sportslife 5



Compiled by Scott Taylor, Photos by James Carey Lauder, Jeff Miller, Kelly Morton, David Larkins, Sport Canada, Sport Manitoba, Dave Mahussier/ University of Manitoba, Sport Canada SportsLife Magazine brings you the hottest news stories in Manitoba sports. Once again, we’ll catch up with a number of the star athletes who we’ve featured before and introduce you to some newcomers who have taken the local sports scene by storm…

BISONS’ WOG ONCE AGAIN USPORT’S TOP SWIMMER University of Manitoba Bisons’ fourth-year swimmer Kelsey Wog of Winnipeg won four gold medals for the second straight year at the 2020 U SPORTS Swimming Championships at the University of Victoria. Not surprisingly, Wog was named Female Swimmer of the Meet. Wog won the 200-metre individual medley – in which she beat five members of the UBC Thunderbirds, recorded a U SPORTS record, a pool record (set in 1994), and set the fastest time in the world this year with a 2:10.87 – and swept the breaststroke distances, winning the 50-metre, 100-metre and 200-metre distances. “It’s been a really fun meet and I’ve had a great time with my friends,” Wog told John Gaudes at the U of M. “I’m happy with my times. My 200 IM has come together nicely over the past few years, especially the back half of it.” For Wog, Kelsey Wog the next big event on the calendar is the Canadian Swim Trials from March 31 to April 5, as she attempts to earn a spot on Team Canada for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer. Wog has previously competed with the senior national team at the FINA World Championships (2019) and the Pan Pacific Championships (2018).

BISONS HONORED AT NATIONAL SWIM MEET In mid-February, University of Manitoba Bisons head coach Vlastik Cerny was named the U SPORTS women’s swimming Coach of the Year in his 27th year at the head of Manitoba’s teams. At the national swim meet at the University of Victoria, Cerny helped Bisons’ fourthyear Kelsey Wog and first-year Jamie Alexiuk set personal best times. As waell, fifth-year Bisons swimmer Anthony Iliouchetchev finished his university career with one last A-final, as he qualified and finished sixth in the men’s 100-metre freestyle, racing it in 51.54. In the final team standings, Cerny’s Bisons women finished 12th with 212.5 points while the men finished 15th with 69 points.

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Bisons swim coach Vlastik Cerny receives his Coach of the Year Award from USPORT

WESMEN’S AMBANZA NAMED SECOND-TEAM ALL-STAR University of Winnipeg Wesmen basketball star Narcisse Ambanza has been named an All-Canada West All-Star once again. It’s the fourth time that the fourth-year guard has been named a conference all-star becoming the first Wesmen player to make four straight all-star teams since Erfan Nasajpour did it from 2004 to 2008. Ambanza, who was named to Canada West’s second All-Conference team, was once again the on-court leader for a Wesmen men’s team that finished the conference season with a 10-10 record and made the post-season for the eighth straight year. The Toronto product averaged a teamhigh 18.1 points per game and finished eighth in the conference in scoring. His scoring mark was just 0.8 points per game off his career-high, set last season.

Todd MacCulloch

Narcisse Ambanza

TODD MacCULLOCH HOOP SCHOOL COMING BACK Basketball Manitoba, Sport Manitoba and former NBA star Todd MacCulloch have announced plans for the 21st Todd MacCulloch Hoop School Program (fall session) for inner-city kids. The TMHS is a program designed to teach basketball fundamentals to children of inner-city Winnipeg schools and is open to five schools from the Winnipeg 1 School Division that host Grade 5-9 students. This program is designed to teach basic basketball skills to inner-city youth (ages 1214) in a basketball camp format. The program is completely funded by MacCulloch and the Sport Manitoba Bi-Lateral Program and was written by Garth McAlpine of Winnipeg. Contact Basketball Manitoba for more information.

BISONS BROWNE AND WAGNER NAMED ALL-STARS The University of Manitoba’s Fifth-year guard, Rashawn Browne and fourth-year forward James Wagner were both named Canada West Conference All-stars this season. Browne was selected to the First Team for the first time, while Wagner was selected to the Third Team. Browne, 24, was named an All-Conference player for the second time in his career. He was named to the Third Team in 2018-19. The Toronto product is the first Bison to make the conference’s top team since Justus

Rashawn Browne

James Wagner

Alleyn in 2017-18. Browne averaged a career-high in points (19.6 PPG) that ranked third in the conference. The 6-foot-1 guard also finished third in assists (99), first in free throw attempts (121), and ninth in minutes per game (33.0). On the defensive end, Browne tallied 27 steals. Wagner, 21, was named All-Conference for the first time. The John Taylor Pipers alum was fifth in the conference with 9.1 rebounds per game while scoring a career-best 16.9 points per game.

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BISONS’ RANDALL AND BARTLETT NAMED ALL-STARS University of Manitoba fourth-year guard Taylor Randall and first-year guard Lauren Bartlett were both selected to All-Conference teams this season. Randall was selected to the Canada West Conference’s Third Team for the third consecutive season, while Bartlett was selected to the All-Rookie Team. Randall, 22, continued to round out her game in her fourth year at Manitoba as she earned her third straight selection to the Third Team All-Stars (2017-18 and 2018-19). The product of Dundas, Ont., led the Bisons and finished seventh in the conference in points per game (18.0) while also shooting 34.3 percent on three-pointers. Randall’s 70 assists also put her seventh in CW, while her 40 steals ranked ninth. Bartlett, 18, quickly had an impact on the Bisons, forming a great backcourt pairing with Randall in her first season. The Oak Park Raiders alum made history with her outside shooting, as her 46.9 three-point percentage ranked in the top 15 all-time seasons in Canada West history and was best Taylor Randall in the conference this season.

Anna Kernaghan

Lauren Bartlett

WESMEN GUARD KERNAGHAN NAMED ALL-ROOKIE University of Winnipeg guard Anna Kernaghan has been named to the Canada West All-Rookie team. The product of Sturgeon Heights Collegiate, who was the province’s No. 1-ranked player out of high school, finished 19th in the conference in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game to lead the Wesmen, one of only two freshmen in the conference to lead her team in scoring. She scored in double digits in 13 conference games, hitting double digits in her final four conference games and nine of 11 after the holiday break. She averaged 13.1 points per game in the second half of the season. She finished as a 34.8 per cent shooter from the perimeter, second among all freshmen in Canada West and logged a team-high 33.3 minutes per game, which was tops among all rookies and ranked fifth overall in the conference. Her 83.3 per cent rate at the free-throw line was also among the best in Canada West, ranking fourth. Kernaghan became the second Wesmen player named to the all-rookie team in the past three seasons, joining Robyn Boulanger who earned the honour in 2017-18.

BISONS’ GREGOIRE NAMED TO ALL-ROOKIE HOCKEY TEAM Kate Gregoire, a two-sport athlete who also competes on the University of Manitoba Bisons’ women’s golf team was named to the Canada West All-Rookie team for the 2019-20 season. Her numbers were sparkling in her first year at Manitoba. A product of the minor hockey system in Ste. Anne, Man., she finished second among Canada West rookies with eight goals, six of those coming in the final seven games of the season. The former St. Mary’s Academy Flames star had two multi-goal games – against Alberta (Feb. 7) and UBC (Jan. 18) – and also had an assist to finish the season with nine points, averaging 0.32 points per game. Gregoire, 18, is the first women’s hockey All-Rookie selection for the Bisons since Sheridan Oswald in 2017-18. Manitoba finished the 2019-20 campaign with a record of 10-17-2-1.

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Kate Gregoire

BOCKRU AND GOWANLOCK HEAD TO CFL COMBINE Fourth-year receiver Macho Bockru and fourth-year defensive end Brock Gowanlock have received invitations to the national CFL Combine, March 26-28 in Toronto. That means the University of Manitoba Bisons football team will have five players taking part in CFL combines leading up to the 2020 CFL Draft. Bockru, 22, was a Canada West All-Star for the first time in 2019. He led the Bisons in receiving yards (493) and finished fifth in the conference in that category. His five receiving touchdowns led Canada West and was tied for fourth in the nation. Gowanlock, 22, had his best campaign to date from the defensive end Macho Bockru position in 2019. The Duncan, B.C. product had 31 total tackles and a sack and played in all eight games for the Bisons during the regular season. Three additional Bisons — fourth-year quarterback Des Catellier, fourth-year receiver Riley Harrison, and fifth-year offensive lineman Ryan Wengelinski — have received invitations to the Western Regional Combine on March 20 in Edmonton. These Brock three Bisons will have the opportunity to advance to join Gowanlock (9) Bockru and Gowanlock at the national combine in Toronto.

STAR FORT RICHMOND GUARD SIGNS WITH WESMEN Before she even got to high school, Maltha Uwambajimana dreamed of one day getting the chance to play for the University of Winnipeg Wesmen. Uwambajimana, a Grade 12 guard from Fort Richmond Collegiate, will now get that chance, signing her national letter of intent prior to a recent Wesmen game. “In Grade 8, when I first watched the Wesmen play, I’ve always wanted to play here,” she said. “I saw the (Manitoba Basketball) Hall of Fame (at the Duckworth Centre) and then I was like ‘Wow, I really want to play here now.’ It’s always been in the back of my mind hoping Tanya (Coach McKay) Wesmen sign Fort Richmond guard Maltha Uwambajimana would recognize me and hopefully offer me to play for them, so this is very exciting for me.” The player they call “Marty” averaged 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. Her high school head coach. Megan Noonan, was a two-time all-conference guard with the Wesmen. She graduated in 2017. A member of the Manitoba provincial program, Uwambajimana was named a 2017 Sport Manitoba Women to Watch athlete grant. She joins Vincent Massey’s Kat Rogan as the first two members of McKay’s 2020 recruiting class. sportslife 9

Manitoba Speed at Long Track Nationals By Scott Taylor, Photos by Jeff Wigelsworth @rdspeedskating Team Manitoba speed skating coach Will Dutton doesn’t waste any time with hyperbole. After all, as a former National Team member who skated in the 2014 Olympics and has five World Cup medals to his name, he’s not easily impressed. Still, when two young Manitoba skaters win overall age-group gold medals at the Canadian Youth long Track Speed Skating Championships, he can certainly acknowledge the effort. “They skated well, most of the team showed up,” said Dutton, who was obviously pleased with the team’s performance last month. “There were plenty of personal bests and medals, we’re quite pleased.” Back in February, Ethan Vandenberg won the U14 Boys Overall Title while Sofia Bieber won the Girls U13 Crown, while Adam Buchwald was second overall in the U13-year-old boys’ category, as Manitoba had a superb national meet in Red Deer. The CYLTC, formerly known as Canadian Age Class Championships, was held Feb. 9-10 in Alberta. Skaters aged 11-15 had the opportunity to compete against the top athletes in their age category from across Canada. Athletes competed in six events, which included a variety of different competition styles. There were pack skating events, mass start

events, Olympic style events, and team pursuit events. Team Manitoba had 13 athletes in total at the competition and accumulated 13 medals, two championship titles, and won three of the Dave Thompson Memorial races. Buchwald was one of those winners. For Manitoba’s young skaters, this was a huge step forward. “We are definitely improving,” Dutton said. “Sometimes we’re hurting for numbers, but we’ve shown some pretty strong performances, especially considering our membership numbers compared to medals won. Medals-tomembers, we’re pretty outstanding. “We anticipated that both Ethan and Sofia would do pretty well. We knew they’d both have a good shot at winning. It wasn’t that surprising, but they did what they needed to do and, in some cases, outperformed what we thought they would do.” Vandenburg won three gold medals and one silver, taking the overall title by a large margin. Bieber also won three gold medals, but had an unfortunate fall during the seven-lap mass start event where she finished ninth. However, her finish in that race – after the fall – is what eventually gave her the national overall title. Had Sofia not jumped back up right away and raced to the finish, but likely would have finished 14th or lower in the seven-lap event. Anything

lower than 13th and she would not have won the overall title. “Sofia was going by her competitor pretty fast and she was going to win the race, no question, but she bumped into one of the skaters she was passing in the last corner and went down,” explained Dutton. “She was pretty disappointed. But if she’d stayed down on the ice, she wouldn’t have won the overall title, so she got right back up and finished the race. She showed that true competitive spirit that drives her and makes her successful.” Coach Dutton is originally from Saskatchewan but while skating with the National Team in Calgary in 2009, he met Manitoba’s other provincial coach, Tyler Derraugh and the two became close friends. They were teammates on a professional speed skating team in Norway and trained together there for a year. While Derraugh has been coaching here for the last five years, also works here for True (hockey and skates) and needed an assistant. Dutton was taking on-line classes, completing his Kinesiology degree so Derraugh brought him to Winnipeg where he gets to coach the sport he loves while continuing to taking his on-line classes. “It’s been good,” Dutton said. “I’m a Winnipegger now. Although Manitoba is not a whole lot different from Saskatchewan.” l Sofia Bieber

Sofia Bieber at the top of the podium

Champion Ethan Vandenberg Adam Buchwald

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THE FINAL RESULTS FOR TEAM MANITOBA Overall Results: Ethan Vandenberg – 1st overall, Champion T2T 14 Boys Sofia Bieber – 1st overall, Champion T2T 13 Girls Adam Buchwald – 2nd overall T2T 13 Boys Skylar Van Horne – 4th overall T2T 12 Girls Lindsey Smart – 11th overall T2T 13 Girls Maya Kemp – 9th overall T2T 13 Girls Ian Mcpeek – 8th overall T2T 14 Boys Ryan Kulbacki – 6th overall T2T 15 Boys Aaron Riehl – 13th overall T2T 13 Boys Erik Kulbacki – 15th overall T2T 12 Boys Olivia Krawchuk – 12th overall T2T 11 Girls Ben Routledge – 14th overall T2T 15 Boys Rebecca Bieber – 14th overall T2T 12 Girls 300m Pack-style Finals: Sofia Bieber – 1st place Ethan Vandenberg – 2nd place Seven-Lap mass Start: Ethan Vandenberg – 1st place Adam Buchwald – 2nd place Team Pursuit 3/5 laps: T2T 13/14 Female (Sofia Bieber, Lindsey Smart, Maya Kemp) – 1st place T2T 14/15 Male (Ethan Vandenberg, Ryan Kulbacki, Ian Mcpeek, Ben Routledge) – 1st place 500m Olympic Style Sofia Bieber – 1st place Ethan Vandenberg – 1st place Adam Buchwald – 3rd place 1500m Olympic Style: Sofia Bieber – 1st place Ethan Vandenberg – 1st place 1500m Pack Style: Skylar Van Horne – 2nd place Adam Buchwald – 2nd place

Scott Wins All-Around Bronze at World Juniors By Scott Taylor, Photo courtesy Speed Skating Canada Clandeboye’s Alexa Scott became the first Canadian woman since 2008 to reach the All-Around podium at the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships after winning overall bronze in Poland. She joins Sylvia Burka (‘73) (MB), Liz Appleby (‘76) (MB), Shannon Rempel (‘03, ‘04) (MB) and Justine L’Heureux (‘08) (Que.), as the only ones to ever accomplish that feat! Making her the fourth Manitoban to achieve this accomplishment! Scott came in third in overall individual standings, thanks to finishing achieving fourth in the 1000-metre and 10th in the 3000-metre races on the final day of competition. These were the best results in her three career World Junior Championships. “I was really excited about it, it was one of my goals,” said Scott, who finished fifth last year and 18th in 2018. “I had to persevere through some stuff, but it was a good achievement at the end of a hard weekend. I got close to the podium in the 1000, I was just off of it, that was a little disappointing, but I did what I had to do to get to third place in the All-Around, so I’m pretty happy.” Scott started the weekend off by placing fifth in the 500-metres and eighth in the 1500. On the final day, she was only 0.182 seconds behind the bronze medalist in the 1000. Scott, who trains at the Susan Auch Oval in Winnipeg and at the University of Manitoba, will now prepare for the final races of the season in Calgary in mid-March. l

Dave Thompson Memorial 12 lap mass start: Adam Buchwald 1st place – T2T 12/13 Males Skylar Van Horne 1st place – T2T 11/12 Females Sofia Bieber 1st place – T2T 13/14 Females


Alexa Scott

Ethan Vandenberg

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Richert Signs With Inter Europol for 2020 Race Season By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Richert Racing

Manitoba’s international racing sensation, David Richert, is back on the circuit. Richert has signed to compete with Inter Europol Competition for the 2020 race season. He’ll be driving a Formula Renault 2.0 in the Ultimate Cup Series, a championship featuring events on current and former Formula 1 circuits throughout Europe. “It’s a great feeling to know that I will be back in a race car shortly,” Richert said. “I’m extremely excited to reunite with Inter Europol Competition once again to make that happen. Richert grew up on a Manitoba farm and began his pursuit of advancing into the highest levels of motorsport at the go-kart level here in Manitoba.

Now, 20-years later and he’s driven formula cars at Monaco. “Through the support of an enormous number of people, I’ve been able to battle through the difficult challenges of a sport driven by financial resources,” he said. This year marks a reunion for Richert and Inter Europol Competition powered by Keese Motorsport. They first competed together in 2014. The partnership has resulted in Richert gaiuning experience in several cars within Inter Europol Competition’s stable including a Formula Renault 2.0, GP2, and LMP3 cars. Inter Europol is a Polish bakery situated near Warsaw, that delivers bread and bread related products to more than 30 countries worldwide. “Poland is now my second home so I am very proud to partner with a

team that will have a Polish flag on the side of the car,” he said. “I have a huge amount of respect for the progress that Inter Europol Competition has made as a team so I hope I can contribute to the continuation of that progress.” The first race weekend of the Ultimate Cup Series will take place at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, from March 20-22. l

h c a e B a n i o J e u g a e L l l a b Volley ! r e m m u S s i th Hosted at Sargent Park Beach Volleyball Centre or Maple Grove Rugby Park!

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Youth & Adult competitive and recreational divisions available! sportslife 13

Elite water skier to introduce athletes to competive waterskiing By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Water Ski Manitoba It takes a lot these days to get one of the World’s best water skiers, Taryn Grant, to leave her adopted home at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and return to her family home in Winnipeg for an extended period. However, given an opportunity to pass on her love and passion for water skiing to a new generation, she’ll evidently jump at the chance. Grant, who won gold in the women’s slalom competition at the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation’s World Under-21 Water Ski Championships in Sesesña, Spain, in 2015, will come back to Manitoba to coach this summer. In fact, she’ll spend most of June, July and August on the lake coaching in Waterski Manitoba’s Learn to Compete Program. Although she’s now in Grad School, competing her Masters of Communications, at LouisianaLafayette, she’s excited to be part of this new project. “Yep, I’ll be heading home this summer and I’m looking forward to it,” said Grant, who is still part of the Water Ski team at Louisiana-Lafayette, even though she’s graduated and completed

her four years of NCAA eligibility. “Waterski and Wakeboard Manitoba has this new program designed to get athletes who are already competitive to take up water skiing and learn to love it the way I do. Any opportunity I get to pass on my own love for the sport and passion for competing, I’ll jump at the chance. “Waterskiing has done so much for me. I got a full four-year college scholarship, an undergraduate degree and now I’m in Grad School. I’ve travelled all over the world to compete and had a four-year NCAA career at Louisiana-Lafayette. “I’m just happy to be a part of a program that will get more people involved in competitive waterskiing. So, if you know of any hockey, basketball or volleyball players who would like to compete in a great summer sport, let them know about the program. Basically, what I did from the time I was five until I was 18 was play hockey in the winter and waterski in the summer. And waterskiing sure did a lot for me.” The concept is simple. If you are already a competitive athlete that would like to add waterskiing to

your athletic portfolio, join Waterski Manitoba’s Learn to Compete Program this coming summer. It’s the perfect opportunity for athletic young people ages 12-16 to build waterski skills with top water ski coaches like world champion Taryn Grant right here in Manitoba. Training is tailored to each athlete’s individual needs, expectations, mental preparation, fitness and recovery. The focus will be on learning the basics of water skiing and Waterski and Wakeboard Manitoba will provide the boat, the coaches and all the equipment. For those who want to take it to the next level, there will be WSWM Tournaments. “I want to get as many kids as I can to become as interested in waterskiing as I am and hopefully they will become as passionate about the sport as I am, too,” Grant said. “And for those athletes who already know how to ski, but want to learn to slalom or go over the ramp and start jumping, we’ll be right there to help them. We’re excited about working with young athletes who are already competitive.” l

Taryn working in the boat while sharing her love of the sport

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Law & Order By Al Gowriluk In the Winnipeg Ringette League the players are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The referees who enforce the rules of the game and the suspension committee who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. A misconduct is anything verbal, directed to officials or opponents, while a match is a penalty with intent to injure. Once a player is given a match or a misconduct penalty that’s when the WRL suspension committee comes in. The WRL referee in-chief, convenes a hearing, in short order to go over all the evidence that has been submitted. The evidence comes from what the referees write on the game sheet, submit with a written follow up report as well as the player, the coaches and involved players from both teams. The player who has been given the penalty has the right to appear in-person to the committee, or if unable to attend may still submit a written report in their own defence, which will be read to the record. If the player is less than 18 years old, may have a parent attend the hearing as support and an observer but not allowed to take an active role. Usually the hearing takes about an hour with the verdict within 24 hours. All

committee members are volunteers. “There are not enough referees to go around. The WRL situation is approaching critical. They recruit, train & support their referees. Over the years, they have had a decline of new referee applicants. There have been some games where there is only a single ref on the ice. “That is partially due to their personal scheduling conflicts” says WRL Referee In-Chief, Danielle Edginton. The WRL is always looking for new referees. Anyone who is 16, and looking for a part time job, can send an email to the Referee In-Chief of the WRL, Danielle Edginton at ric@ Referees are Levels 1 through 5 with ranking A B or C. The pay starts at $21.65 per game and goes up to $29.09 per game based on qualifications / level of play. Not to worry, new referees start out at the U10 level. l

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REGISTRATION DEADLINE FRIDAY MARCH 27 at 4:30 pm or when the camp sells out!

BOYS BASKETBALL CAMP Boy’s sessions will be lead by the University of Manitoba Bisons and the University of Winnipeg Wesmen and their respective coaching staff and select players.

GIRLS BASKETBALL CAMP The girl’s sessions will be lead Basketball Manitoba High-Performance Coach Randy Kusano along with other support coaches. GIRLS CAMP SESSIONS, DATES & TIMES Session 1: ages 10-12, Mar. 30 to Apr. 2, 10:00am-12:00pm Session 2: ages 13-15, Mar. 30 to Apr. 2, 1:00pm-3:00pm If a session is sold out, get on our waiting list GIRLS CAMP LOCATION St. John’s Ravenscourt School, 400 South Drive, Winnipeg, MB (map below) / $110.00 per person

Basketball Manitoba Awards Voting & Scholarships Announced; DEADLINE TO VOTE: MARCH 24 at 4:00 PM All-Manitoba Voting for the 2019-20 season. We are proud to present the annual All-Manitoba Awards, recognizing Manitoba’s finest players and coaches at the high school level. As a lead-up to the presentation of the Basketball Manitoba Awards on Saturday, April 18 at the Victoria Inn Hotel and St. Paul’s High School, we are inviting you to play a part in who is recognized for these top honours after calling for nominations in February. The awards include • All-Manitoba Teams • Manitoba Players of the Year • Manitoba Coaches of the Year • Special Recognition & Service Awards • Carl Ridd Award • Jim Bulloch Coaching Award • Mike Spack Lifetime Achievement Award • Ron Meyers Leadership Award • Donovan Gayle Balling for the Cure Scholarships • Lena Wenke Courage Award

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BOYS CAMP SESSIONS, DATES & TIMES Session 3: ages 10-12, Mar. 30 to Apr. 2, 10:00am-12:00pm Session 4: ages 13-15, Mar. 30 to Apr. 2, 1:00pm-3:00pm If a session is sold out, get on our waiting list. BOYS CAMP LOCATION Canada Games Sport for Life Center, Winnipeg, MB $110.00 per person REGISTRATION DEADLINE FRIDAY MARCH 27 at 4:30 pm or when the camp sells out! • Morris Glimcher Student Manager Award Over $4800 in grants and scholarships are available to basketball players and coaches in Manitoba! We are inviting ALL basketball coaches in Manitoba to cast their votes before the deadline of Tuesday, March 24 at 4:00 pm. To cast your vote and apply for one for the scholarships...

The initial plans for the summer of 2020 include (this will be updated as the summer approaches) 15U&17U Female Teams - NIKE Tournament of Champions* (Chicago, IL) July 10-12 15U&17U Female Teams - North Tartan Meltdown* (Minneapolis, MN) July 20-22 15U&17U Male - Canada Basketball National Championships (Kingston, ON) Aug 3-8 15U&17U Female - Canada Basketball National Championships (Charlottetown, PEI) Aug 3-8 * NCAA Sanctioned

Player Eligibility Manitoba Player Eligibility All eligible players Provincial Team All eligiblemust playersfit must fit into one into one of the following age divisions and Basketball of the following have been a resident of Manitoba

Tryouts for Age 15U & 17U ageFebruary divisions on or before 1, 2020. May 22-24 at Canada and have been 15U Female - born in 2005 or later Games Centre a resident of 15U Male - born in 2005 or later The 2020 Provincial Team Tryouts for the upcoming 17U Female - born inManitoba 2003 or later on or 17U Male - born in 2003 or laterFebruary 1, summer will occur May 22-24, 2020 at the Canada Games before Sport for Life Centre (145 Pacific Avenue in Winnipeg, MB). 2020. THE HOME OF 10 NATIONAL Any Manitoba resident who is in one of the defined age MEDALS SINCE 2011 born categories is eligible and welcome to try out. The summer 15U Female: of 2020 will see a total of 4 Provincial Teams formed at the in 2005 or later male and female 17U and 15U age levels. The Manitoba 15U Male: born in Provincial Team 2005 orProgram later is the The programs will culminate at the Canada Basketball premier player 17U Female: born National Championships in Kingston, Ontario for the and17U coach development program in the in 2003 or later and 15U male teams and Charlottetown, PEI for the province. 17U The program attracts the top players and coaches to represent Manitoba and 15U female teams from August 3-8, 2020. 17U Male: born in at national and international events. The 2003 or May later program operates annually through The initial plans for the summer of 2020 include August. (this will be updated as the summer approaches) 15U&17U Female Teams: NIKE Tournament of Champions* (Chicago, IL) July 10-12 15U&17U Female Teams: North Tartan Meltdown* (Minneapolis, MN) July 20-22 15U&17U Male: Canada Basketball National Championships (Kingston, ON) Aug 3-8 15U&17U Female: Canada Basketball National Championships (Charlottetown, PEI) Aug 3-8 * NCAA Sanctioned


Friday May 22, 2020


Age Level

5:00pm - 7:30pm


15U Male - Session #1

7:30pm - 10:00pm


17U Male - Session #1

Saturday May 23, 2020 9:00am - 11:00am

3 15U Female - Session #1

11:00am - 1:00pm

4 17U Female - Session # 1

1:00pm - 3:30pm


15U Male - Session #2

3:30pm - 6:00pm


17U Male - Session #2

6:00pm - 8:00pm

7 15U Female - Session #2

8:00pm - 10:00pm

8 17U Female - Session # 2

Sunday May 24, 2020 10:00am - 12:00pm


15U Male - Session #3

12:00pm - 2:00pm


17U Male - Session #3

2:00pm - 4:00pm

11 15U Female - Session #3

4:00pm - 6:00pm

12 17U Female - Session # 3


For more information and to register go to: ml

The Manitoba Provincial Team Program is the premier player and coach development program in the province. The program attracts the top players and coaches to represent Manitoba at national and international events. The program operates annually May through August. For more information and to register go to:

Adult Leagues Ages 18+ registration can be completed now at sportslife 19

Manitoba is Golden By Resby Coutts, Photos by Connie Laliberte, Michael Burns/Curling Canada, Richard Gray/World Curling Federation It was one of the greatest weekends in Manitoba’s storied curling history. Separated by 15 time zones, but linked forever in the history books, on the February 22-23, 2020 weekend, Manitoba teams skipped by Jacques Gauthier and Mackenzie Zacharias won world junior championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and a team skipped by Kerri Einarson won the Canadian Women’s Scotties championship in Moose Jaw, Sask. With those results, Manitoba has already had an outstanding curling championship season and there’s more to come. Three teams qualified for the national Juniors with a pair of Canadian championships followed by two gold medals at the World Championships, two teams qualified for the national Women’s (Scotties) with a Canadian championship and a bronze medal, and two teams have qualified for the national Men’s (Brier). With the Tim Hortons Brier just underway at press time, this season’s successes are reminiscent of 1995 when teams skipped by Kerry Burtnyk,

Connie Laliberte, Kelly Mackenzie (now Scott), and Chris Galbraith represented Canada at four world championships and won two world gold (Burtnyk-men and Mackenziejunior women), world silver (Lalibertewomen), and world bronze (Galbraithjunior men). THE JUNIORS Jacques Gauthier, Jordan Peters, Brendan Payette, Zach Bilawka (Coach John Lund and their alternate Thomas Dunlop along with Mackenzie Zacharias, Karlee Burgess, Emily Zacharias, Lauren Lenentine, Coach Sheldon Zacharias and their alternate Rachel Erickson have already accomplished something never before achieved by a pair of Manitoba Junior teams – they both won gold medals in the same year. The teams’ records were remarkably similar at the World Juniors in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Both lost their opening games. Both won the next seven games. Both lost their final round robin match to finish second in the standings. In those games, both

The National Women’s Champions, Manitoba’s Team Einarson

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were beaten by the team which finished first as Scotland beat Gauthier’s men 6-5 in an extra end while Korea beat Zacharias’ women 7-1. In the semi-finals, Zacharias and her team needed the extra end to beat Russia 9-8 while Team Gauthier was a 7-4 victor over Germany. In the gold medal game, Zacharias started slow and fell behind 4-1 after four ends but scored a deuce on the fifth. With the momentum going into the mid-game break, they outscored the previously unbeaten Korean team 4-1 the rest of the way for a 7-5 win. Playing Switzerland, who had upset first place Scotland in their semifinal, Gauthier and his team were never seriously challenged. They led 2-1 at the mid-game break and scored five over the next three ends in a 7-2 victory. Only once before has Manitoba had a chance to win two World Junior medals in the same year. In 1995, Kelly Mackenzie’s foursome won world junior gold while Chris Galbraith’s team won bronze. In fact, Manitoba’s success at the national junior level has been quite limited. Since the first World Junior Women’s event in 1988, only four previous Manitoba teams have represented Canada. Those were teams skipped by Cathy Overton in 1990 (bronze), Mackenzie in 1995 (gold), and Kaitlyn Lawes in 2008 and 2009 (bronze, silver). From the first World Junior Men’s in 1975, only nine previous Manitoba teams have represented Canada – with two gold medals before this year. The previous teams were skipped by Mert Thompsett in 1980 & ’82 (two silver), Hugh McFadyen in 1987 (one silver), Chris Galbraith in 1995 (one bronze), David Hamblin in 2002 (one gold),

The J

The Junior Women’s World Champions, Manitoba’s Team Zacharias

Junior Men’s World Champions, Manitoba’s Team Gauthier.

Matt Dunstone in 2013 and 2016 (two bronze), Braden Calvert in 2014 and 2015 (one gold). THE WOMEN Many Manitoba curling fans watching the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Rivers had a good feeling about Manitoba’s chances of sending a potential national champion to the Canadian shoot-out in Moose Jaw. Those fans they were right. As the provincial in Rivers got underway, the three top ranked teams in the nation were all playing for the right to represent Manitoba. Tracey Fleury and her team were the

defending champions and they faced the challenge of second seed Kerri Einarson and Manitoba curling legend Jennifer Jones, in the uncharacteristic position of being considered the third ranked Manitoba team. The showdown between the three teams over the next three weeks will be talked about for years to come. At the national Scotties, Manitoba had a pair of teams in the field. Einarson, the Manitoba champion, was seeded first; with Rachel Homan as #2; Jones, the wild-card entry, as #3; and former Manitoban Chelsea Carey, the defending champion, as #4 seed. The first face-off between the three Manitoba’s Men’s champions, Team Gunnlaugson

at the nationals came in the wild-card playoff game. Fleury scored a three on the ninth end to tie and Jones had to make a last shot draw to earn the wildcard entry. The first Einarson-Fleury match of the week took place on the last day of preliminary play. Einarson and Jones were both assured of advancing to the playoff round but playoff position was yet to be determined as the day started with the Einarson team set to play both Jones and Homan, between them holders of nine national women’s titles. The Gimli foursome faltered badly, losing 12-7 to Jones in the first game of the day. Not allowing that loss to kill their momentum, Einarson and her team bounced back for a 9-6 victory over Homan. At the same time Team Jones was losing to Northern Ontario. Einarson, Jones, and Homan all finished with 9-2 records, but the last day’s results meant Einarson would play Jones in the 1-2 game in the pageformat playoff draw. This time, Einarson was not to be denied. Her team played well and she, herself, made critical shot after critical shot to post a 9-6 victory. When Jones lost the semi-final, the Einarson team faced a final game against Rachel Homan. With leads of 4-1 (four ends) and 6-2 (six ends), the Manitobans seemed set to cruise to victory. However, a two for Homan on the ninth end and two more on the tenth, when Einarson was heavy with a draw to the four-foot circle, forced an extra end. Not willing to allow that single heavy

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Brier-bound Mike McEwen

Team Jennifer Jones

Team Einarson in action at the provincials, Val Sweeting throwing with sweepers Brianne Meilleur and Shannon. Birchard

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draw to define her week, Einarson controlled her disappointment and, facing defeat, won the game with a dramatic last rock draw which had to touch the four-foot but came to rest covering the Hearts logo in the centre of the button. For Einarson, Val Sweeting, Brianne Meilleur, Coach Patti Wuthrich and Alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire it was a first Canadian women’s title. Second Shannon Birchard won with Jones two years ago, sparing for Kaitlyn Lawes. That year, Einarson won the silver medal when she lost the 2018 final to Jones – Einarson had skipped the wild-card team and Jones was Team Manitoba. This year’s Einarson-Jones-Fleury showdown had begun two weekends earlier at the provincials in Rivers when the three teams had all advanced to the final day. Einarson beat Fleury on Saturday evening in Rivers to go direct to the Manitoba final while Fleury took on Jones in the semi-final. A last shot draw on an extra end gave Jones the win over Fleury. In the final, Einarson made a pressure filled last rock draw to the button which Jones was unable to follow. Einarson and her Gimli team won their first Manitoba title while Jones and Fleury would meet a week later in that wildcard playoff game for the final berth at the nationals. THE MEN The top two seeds in the field of 32 teams met in the final of Manitoba’s Viterra Men’s Championship at the Eric Coy Arena in Charleswood. Two seasons ago, these two skips met in the last chance wild-card game with McEwen winning to join his now-third Reid Carruthers in the Tim Hortons Brier. This year, Gunnlaugson was not to be denied in winning his first Manitoba title and trip to the Brier. The Gunnlaugson team (Alex Forrest, Adam Casey, and Connor Njegovan) led McEwen 4-0 after four ends. They gave up a three on the fifth end, a score which in years past might have foreshadowed a loss of concentration or momentum. Not this year. Team Gunnlaugson stayed focused and posted a 7-4 victory.

The good news for Team McEwen was that they again had earned that last chance invitation to play in the Brier. McEwen and veteran Glenn Howard were the highest ranked teams not already qualified. To qualify as the 16th team in, the McEwen foursome defeated the veteran Glenn Howard in a last shot 5-4 victory in the Brier wild-card game Friday evening, February 28th. UP NEXT Four Canadian championship events, including seven actual championships, are scheduled for Portage la Prairie’s Stride Place and the Portage Curling Club in mid-March. In the Canadian Senior Championships in Portage (March 16-22), recently crowned Manitoba Senior Women’s champion Terry Ursel and her Arden team and Manitoba Senior Men’s champion Dave Boehmer and his Petersfield team will represent the host province. To win Manitoba, Ursel defeated Maureen Bonar (Charleswood) 5-4 in an extra end final and Boehmer won 8-4 over Randy Neufeld (La Salle). The Manitoba Seniors wrapped up February 24 in Morris. In the 18-team Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship in Portage (March 17-22), Derek Samagalski & Krysten Karwacki will represent Manitoba after winning the Manitoba Mixed Doubles title with an 8-2 win over Stacey Fordyce & Steve Irwin. The USPORT-Curling Canada University Championships (March 11-15) will feature Brandon University teams skipped by Hallie McCannell and Mitchell Katcher as the host teams. Seven teams will contest the men’s championship while there are six teams in the women’s event. At the same time, The Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA)-Curling Canada College Championships will take place in Portage. Manitoba will not be represented at the Championship as the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MACA) has only recently become affiliated with the CCAA and does not currently compete in curling. l

Learning the Game

By Resby Coutts, Photos courtesy CurlManitoba Mickayla Zurba and Jordan Height of Dauphin and Robyn Buchel Elmwood came out on top in curling’s version of Punt, Pass and Kick. More than 800 young curlers across the province took part in CurlManitoba’s Hit-Draw-Tap junior development and incentive program in 2019-20. The program, which is modelled on football`s Punt, Pass and Kick, is very similar to junior development initiatives in other sports. Starting from more than 30 clubs and then playing in regional competitions, 24 junior curlers in three age groups took part in the provincial championships on championship ice at Charleswood`s Eric Coy Arena on the final Sunday of the Viterra Championship. The young curlers arrived from as far afield as Melita in the southwest and Thompson in the north. They represented the curling clubs in Beausejour, Brandon, Dauphin, LaSalle, Morden, Pilot Mound, St. Adolphe, Selkirk, and Stonewall as well as the Charleswood, Elmwood, and Pembina clubs in Winnipeg. The concept is a simple one. Each player plays a hit on a rock touching the button, a tap on a rock biting the front of the rings, and an open draws and points are awarded based on the final resting point of the stone (5 for button, 4 for 4 foot, 3 for 8 foot, etc).

The six-eight-year-olds play from the hack to the rings near them while the nine-10 and 11-13-year-olds play the full length of the ice. Playing on the precisely conditioned arena ice is a challenge for the kids compared with ice conditions in their home clubs but the opportunity to play in an arena with a crowd in the stands cheering them on may create a memory for a lifetime. Of course, it is more than the opportunity, in the moment it is also the competition as the young curlers display the skills they have acquired through junior program activities and games played. The winners of the competition came from seven different curling programs. 6-8 YEARS OLD: 1: Mickayla Zurba (Dauphin) 2: Alexis Ernest-Yoko (BurntwoodThompson) 3: Thium Kadigamuwa (Melita) 9-10 YEARS OLD: 1: Jordan Height (Dauphin) 2: Cohen Anderson (Burntwood) 3: Adam Bonikowsky (Beausejour) 11-13 YEARS OLD: 1: Robyn Buchel (Elmwood) 2: Nolan Hildebrand (La Salle) 3: Liam Salmon (Selkirk)

The Hit, Draw, tap winners

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Growing On the Fast Track By Johnston Hall, Photos courtesy Jeff Miller It’s unlikely any single amateur sports league in Manitoba has grown at the rate that PIT Football has. The numbers are rather astounding. In 2008, PIT Football had 40 teams and 300 players. Today, just a dozen years later, the league has 467 teams and more than 4,000 players. “We have also partnered with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Football Manitoba, the Manitoba Bisons, and the Winnipeg High School Football League,” said League President Jonathan Franklin. “We even developed a high school flag league for WHSFL teams to help grown the game of touch football in Manitoba. We also have plenty of former and current CFL players who participated in the league, including Nic Demski and Brady Oliveria of the Bombers, Shai Ross of the Eskimos and Anthony Coombs of the Redblacks. And everyone them is currently playing in our winter season.

Anthony Coombs

“We’re also seeing more and more females picking up the sport,” Franklin added. “This winter we have 15 coed teams and two all-girls teams competing as well.”

The PIT grew from numerous after-game discussions between founders Frankiln and Scott McArthur. They wanted to find a way to make indoor football in Manitoba better. Naturally, some

Brady Oliveira

Canada’s Largest Touch & Flag Football League Men’s/Women’s/Coed/High School/Masters (Over 40) Divisions available Team or Individual Registration Available All Skill Levels Welcome 24 sportslife

suggestions were outlandish, some were impossible, but almost all of them had a certain degree of merit. “The more the conversations progressed the more we kept coming back to the concept of the Game Day Experience,” said Franklin. “If we were to start a touch football league we would have to provide the best game day experience for our players. This included, but was not limited to, the best fields, referees, and teams playing in an atmosphere that promoted both competition and fun. At the time, both Franklin and McArthur had more than 27 years of football experience and they had both made a lot of contacts, and perhaps more importantly, a lot of friends. “However, Winnipeg lacked the facility in which to house our grandiose expectations,” Franklin said. “Years went by and so did the same conversations. Serendipitously Scott came across a link to a new venue being built at the University of Manitoba. This facility had the best playing surface, lighting, team locker

rooms, and fan seating with room to expand for a pro-shop, lounge, and restaurant. “In our first two indoor seasons – Fall 2008 and Winter 2009 – the PIT had more than 100 men’s and women’s teams register across twelve very competitive divisions. The path to starting our league was rocky and took years in the making, however the future looks


2020 SPRING FLAG FOOTBALL • No previous football experience needed • Boys and girls age 7-17 • Season: May to June • Join as an individual or on a team

Nic Demski

Shai Ross

bright for the PIT and its concept of the best game day experience.” Today there is no better touch football league in Canada than Winnipeg’s own PIT. Since 2008, PIT has never wavered from his commitment to giving its players the best Game Day Experience possible. It’s a pledge that has stood the test of time and has created a football league that is the envy of the nation. l

DO YOU WANT TO PLAY YOUTH TACKLE FOOTBALL? Manitoba youth tackle leagues are starting registration now! • Manitoba Girls Football Association (MGFA) • Manitoba Minor Football Association (MMFA) • Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL)

Visit our website for more information

Registration Now Open! Visit us to find out more sportslife 25

Taking on the World By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Table Tennis Canada

For Matthew Lehmann, it’s all about the speed. It’s about how fast the game we once played in the rec room for laughs has become the fastest net sport on the planet. And if you ask Lehmann why he fell madly in love with the sport, he’ll make it very clear, he just loves the speed. “Table tennis is fast,” he said. “It’s arguably the fastest sport in the world, not due to the top speed of the ball, but due to the short proximity of the players. It’s dynamic and studies have shown that top table tennis players have aerobic endurance (VO2 max) on par with top soccer players. And there’s a beautiful quality to it. Just go to YouTube and type in ‘top table tennis rallies’ and you won’t be disappointed.” About a dozen years ago, Matthew started out playing at Winakwa Community Centre and has since moved up through the Manitoba and Canadian rankings. After appearing in more than one Canada Games, he had his first major breakthrough by qualifying for Canada’s national team at the 2018 World Championships. Then, last month, he was named to Canada’s team for the 2020 World Championships in Busan, Korea from June 21-28. After spending last year studying at the University of Manitoba, he now lives and trains full-time with his Czech coach Tomas Demek in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Like so many successful table tennis players from around the world, Lehmann has always been an athlete. “I’ve always loved “sports” in general,” he said. “I was the setter and captain on my high school volleyball team, the only male varsity athlete in 2016 to win three provincial MHSAA gold medals in track and field, and I played many other sports throughout the years. I share this because when most people in North America hear “table tennis” they don’t understand

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the athletic ability required for the sport. Table tennis is just like all the other sports I played, but one I really fell in love with, was successful in, and was able to take me around Canada, and later around the world.” Lehmann is a graduate (2016) of JH Bruns Collegiate in Winnipeg and while he’s enrolled in Actuarial Mathematics at the University of Manitoba Asper School of Business, he’s doing his courses on-line while living and training in Europe. “For most of my career, I trained in Winnipeg, only occasionally going to training camps outside of the province,” he recalled. “Eventually there weren’t any training partners at my level, so after high school I moved to Austria for two years to train. That experience completely opened my eyes to how intricate the sport of table tennis is, and how little I knew. “I returned home to Winnipeg for a year and studied at the University of Manitoba and worked a lot on strength and conditioning and sport psychology with the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba. Then last fall I moved to the Czech Republic. My coach here, Tomas Demek, has been really working with me on serves, shot selection, and body positioning in between shots. The progress we made over the last few months made the difference to give me the results that resulted in my selection to the national team.

“Last time around Canada sent five players to the World Championships, and this year they’re only sending four. Also, in 2018 one of Canada’s top players did not participate as he was focusing on qualifying for the Youth Olympics, so I knew this time would be much more difficult to make the team. It was very exciting when I got the news that I was selected. It’s been my main goal for two years so it felt really great to achieve it.” Like so many elite athletes, travel takes its toll on Lehmann, a young man who likes Vance Joy’s music, eating Wiener Schnitzel, going to movies and playing the Ukulele (not a joke). It’s especially difficult when he has to travel from one continent to another. “Travel definitely has a substantial effect on playing,” he said. “For a two-hour flight or so, it takes a day to get adjusted and back into form. For a transatlantic flight, I’m still figuring out how to adjust better. If you sit and watch movies the entire eight hours, you’re in pretty bad shape for competition when you land, in terms of jet lag and stiffness. “From my support team at the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba, I get plans to adjust my sleep schedule in the days before I fly to reduce jet lag. On the plane I try to walk around and stretch every hour or so, so if you see someone doing lunges down the aisle, it’s probably me.” Once he lands, Lehmann has a precise method for his prematch preparation. “It always depends if it is your first match of the day, or if you already have played,” he explained. “Usually, my prep involves about 10 minutes of warm up (skipping, dynamic stretching, etc.) off-table, then 30-45 minutes of practicing on table. For international matches you have to hand in your racket for approval about 20 minutes before the match. During that time, I’ll usually listen to some music, and do some visualization and any other mental preparation I need.” Lehmann will admit he’s been fortunate to travel all over the world because of table tennis. And when he’s on the road, he takes every advantage to see the sites.

“Whenever I get the chance I try to make the most of it and explore the place I’m in,” he said. “It’s really cool that I’ve seen famous places like Rome and Budapest, but also places I’d never have thought I’d travel to like Otočec, Slovenia, or Sofia, Bulgaria. I have a ukulele I like to play and a subscription to Netflix, so I’m all set for the travel.” And, of course, like any successful international athlete, family has played a major role in his success. “Family has been everything to me,” he said. “From driving across town to practice or sitting in cold basement gyms for tournaments when I was younger, to supporting me in moving to Europe to play, this wouldn’t be possible without my family. It can be tough playing an individual sport, so you really need that support system around you. My family have been that since day one.” l



HardestRacquet RacquetSport Sport✱ * ✱ World’s Hardest * World’s GamesGames WinterGames Games✱ * 2019Olympic Canada Winter 2020 Olympic * ✱2020 * 2023✱Canada

Manitoba Table Tennis Association has a program for you! ✱ Boys - Girls ✱ All Ages ✱ All Abilities ✱ ✱ Programs for Athletes, Coaches & Officials ✱ ✱ Coaching ✱ Recreational Practice ✱ School ✱ ✱ Tournaments ✱ Leagues ✱ Exhibition Clinics ✱

e-mail: contact M.T.T.A.: 925-5690 or 925-5943

A program of

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Becoming the Best By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy the Winnipeg Winter Club Olivia Meier has played racquet sports at the Winnipeg Winter Club since she was eight years old. She played tennis, squash and badminton and was quite proficient in all three sports. But it wasn’t long before she was concentrating on her badminton skills and little else. By the age of 10, she was a tournament player. By her midteens, she was a member of Manitoba’s provincial junior team. “Badminton was the sport my grandpa and my mom played,” she said. “I think it was kind inevitable that would eventually concentrate on badminton.” All this despite a right-side weakness that would allow her to qualify as a ParaOlympian. It was a remarkable story then and it’s an even more remarkable story now. Although she was a terrific player against able-bodied athletes, when she was 16, she was asked if she’d be interested to competing in Para-Badminton. She almost immediately accepted the challenge and today she’s working to claim a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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“In 2016, there was an Open Call for potential Para-Olympics athletes,” Meier explained. “I went to the call and got my classification (SL Class 4) and have been competing ever since. I’m kind of fortunate in a way because there aren’t any Para-Badminton players other than me in Winnipeg to compete against, so I do all my training with able bodied athletes. It’s something that really helps me with my movements. In other countries, the Para-Teams are together, but here in Canada, I get to train with some very able-bodied players and I think that really helps.” Meier, 20, is a third-year commerce student at the University of Manitoba, but she’s also one of the best ParaBadminton players in the entire Western Hemisphere. If you watch her, you might mistake her skills for those of an able-bodied player but she is indeed in the SL4 category – categorized as a lower body impairment, single below the knee amputation, cerebral palsy, hip dysplasia or a leg length difference (of minimum 7 cm). The sport of Para Badminton will be making its Paralympic Debut at Tokyo 2020 and she wants to be there also she admits in could be difficult. “The top six or seven athletes in my class will get to compete in Tokyo,” she said. “Right. Now, I’m ranked about 11th in the world. It’s going to be hard to knock off

any of the athletes ahead of me because they are all from Europe and Asia, but what we’re working for now is a hope that if the Olympic organizers want to open up the sport to athletes other than Europeans and Asians, my partner Pascal Lapointe, are now No. 1 in the Pan Am Region and perhaps we can make it that way. We’re just hoping to qualify for that extra spot. That’s where we stand the best chance.” Meier just returned from a successful trip to South America with Team Canada and her personal coach, Elliott Beals, the head badminton professional at the Winnipeg Winter Club. She competed in both Brazil and Peru. Back in January, Meier teamed up with Lapointe (QC) to play Duc Goi (ON) and Yuns Oh (MB) in the SL3/ SL4 Doubles Final. Lapointe and Meier won the gold quite easily with a straight sets victory, 21-11, 21-11. Olivia then had to play Pascal in the SL4 final which proved to be a difficult task. Still, winning a Gold and Silver at the Nationals in her hometown was quite impressive. “Pascal and I have had some good tournaments recently,” she said with a laugh. “I have some very good success this past year, especially in mixed doubles.” When asked if she’d rather play singles or doubles, Meier had a very interesting answer. “I think I would rather play singles because you have more control of the outcome,” she said thoughtfully. “But I would rather watch mixed doubles. Mixed doubles is a really exciting sport because there is so much team work involved and the spectator isn’t always sure what will happen next.” Meier has some competitive down time until June when the Ottawa international tournament takes place. “It’s exciting to be in the position we’re in,” said Meier. “Para-Badminton in Canada is 15 years behind the rest of the World. We didn’t even get started until four years ago. We’re excited just to have the chance to qualify.” l


8 - 18 years old

July 6th - 10th, July 13th - 17th July 20th - 24th July 27th - 31st Aug 24th - 28th

Ages 5-11 years old age 8 – 14 years

July 6th - 10th, July 13th - 17th Aug 24th - 28th

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The Golden Boy is Golden Once Again By Scott Taylor, Photos by Cam Nikkel Teams from Winakwa, Garden City, Oakbank, Whyte Ridge, Lindewoods and Southdale were among the winners at this year’s huge Golden Boy Indoor Soccer Tournament. Presented each year by the Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association (WYSA) this year’s Golden Boy set a record for out-of-town teams with 50, up 14 from last year, and those out of towners dominated the older age groups at the gigantic event held every year at the WSF Soccer South, WSF Soccer North, and the Axworthy Health & RecPlex indoor facilities. For those unaware, the Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association manages the largest year-round youth soccer league in Manitoba. The leagues are comprised of premier and

developmental Club teams ages 9-18, and, recreational teams through our Community Centres, also with aged 9-18 players. In recent years, WYSA has managed the largest indoor high school soccer league and has played a key role in bringing accessible soccer programming to youth in Winnipeg’s inner city. No wonder this year’s event was another rousing success.

“Setting a new mark of 50 out-ofteams is a credit to the competitive level our community who’ve helped make the tournament so successful over the last 11 years,” said WYSA Executive Director, Carlo Bruneau “Whether under 9 or under 18, the intensity level is heightened and the


U9 Rec Boys. . . . . . . . . . . Garden City 0 vs. SWCC Price 4 U9 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . . Winakwa 2 vs. Lakehead Express 0 U10 Rec Boys . . . . . . . . . Lakehead Express 6 vs. Garden City 2 U11 Rec Boys . . . . . . . . . Lindenwoods All-Stars 2 vs. Lorette 5 U11 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . SWCC 0 vs. Corydon 2 U12 Rec Boys . . . . . . . . . Oakbank Wolves 1 vs. West St. Paul 2 U12 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . Lakehead Express 6 vs. CYSA 1 U13 Rec Boys . . . . . . . . . Whyte Ridge 0 vs. Lindenwoods 1 U13 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . Southdale 0 vs. SCSA Spitfires 1 U14 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . North Kildonan 0 vs. Lorette 1 U15 Rec Boys . . . . . . . . . Whyte Ridge 0 vs. Corydon 1 U15 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . SWCC 2 vs. Winakwa 0 U16 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . CYSA Holland 2 vs. Hanover Fusion 1 (ET) U18 Rec Girls. . . . . . . . . . Minot Magic 5 vs. Minnedosa 1 U9 DL Boys . . . . . . . . . . . BVSC Akoh 2 vs. BVSC Fuentes 5

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action was truly outstanding.” This year’s Golden Boy Tournament was made up of U9 to U18 boys’ and girls’ teams, across 30 divisions represented by about 2,400 players. The 50 out-of-town teams represent rural Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and North Dakota. Held in mid-February, there were more than 300 matches over five days, involving 176 teams. “The response from our local soccer community and those who are willing to travel here for the tournament continues to impress us,” Bruneau added. “There is no question the tournament has become a highlight of the indoor soccer season for many teams.” l

U9 DL Girls. . . . . . . . . . . . WPFC Rychliski 4 vs. BVSC Ramuscak 0 U10 DL Boys. . . . . . . . . . Phoienix FC 2 vs. BVSC Bagnas 3 U10 DL Girls . . . . . . . . . . FC Regina Seniors 2 vs. FCNW D’Andrea 3 (PK) U11 DL Boys. . . . . . . . . . FC Regina Bluestars 3 vs. Impact Lafuente 1 U11 DL Girls . . . . . . . . . . SC Force 1 vs. WSEU White 2 U12 DL Boys. . . . . . . . . . BVSC Donaires 1 vs. BVSC Pansini 0 U12 DL Girls . . . . . . . . . . FC Regina Bluestars 2 vs. FCNW Bellino 0 U13 Premier 1 Boys . . . BVSC Guay 1 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 6 U13 Premier 1 Girls. . . . Thunder Bay Chill 4 vs. Astra Academy 1 U13 Premier 2 Boys . . . Lakehead Express 0 vs. SC Force 1 U14 Premier 1 Girls. . . . Astra Academy 0 vs. WSEU Red 2 U14 Premier 2 Boys . . . BVSC Hjermenrude 0 vs. Astra Academy 1 U15 Premier 1 Boys . . . FC Regina Bluestars 0 vs. WSEU White 1 U15 Premier 2 Girls. . . . Minot Magic 0 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 2 U16 Premier 1 Boys. . . FC Regina Bluestars 3 vs. Thunder Bay Chill 0



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Garcea Family to Operate New FC Manitoba By Scott Taylor, Photo by Scott Taylor

FC Manitoba general manager Enrique Garcea

FC Manitoba is on its way to Winnipeg. A brand-new top-level preprofessional soccer team replacing WSA Winnipeg in USL 2, will begin its season in Kaw Valley, Kansas on May 21. Playing as FC Manitoba, the new/ old franchise will likely be made up primarily of the top local players in Manitoba with a few imports. John and Enrique Garcea of Garcea Group of Companies in West St.

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Paul, have taken over the team from Eduardo Badescu, who now sets his sights set on creating a competitive women’s team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. “My dad, John, has purchased WSA Winnipeg from Eduardo,” said Enrique who will take over as the team’s general manager. “John bought the rights to the local USL team that Eduardo had operated for 10 seasons. “With the purchase, we came up with a new brand, FC Manitoba. I’m the manager and dad will be the man who overlooks everything and is behind the scenes. Myself and Jorge Cabral, who has been a big advocate for a lot of it, are sort of the front guys.”

The USL has three divisions, under MLS,” Enrique explained. “There is USL Championship, which is the top flight. Then USL 1 and USL 2. We are in USL 2, which is pre-professional. “The other two leagues, Championship and 1 are fully professional leagues. Our league has 80 teams. However, there are eight teams in our division and there are 20 teams in our conference. The teams we play against are Thunder Bay, the only other Canadian team; along with Green Bay, Peoria, Chicago, Kaw Valley, KS, St. Louis and Des Moines. It’s a lot of travel and that’s the financial complexity that we face being a semi-pro organization. Your expenses are very high but you’re

John and Enrique Garcea of Garcea Group of Companies in West St. Paul, have taken over the team from Eduardo Badescu... still not seen as a professional league. Our budget will be about $100,000 and that is going to make it difficult in our first year.” USL 2 was a summer elite college league in the past. All the top college players who returned home in the summer would play at a highlycompetitive level and that’s where the pro scouts would go and watch. It still is a great opportunity for local stars to strut their stuff. “Our players this year will, in the majority, be local,” Enrique said. “That has a lot to do with our time line. Our first game is on May 21 in Kaw Valley so it’s coming up right away. We play our first games over a weekend against Kaw

Valley, St. Louis and Des Moines and then we have another weekend away in Thunder Bay before coming home to play Green Bay on June 7. Going out to one place to play at least two games is how we set up the schedule. It’s too expensive to head out onto the road for one game and come home. “We will play a 14-game season and then the best team in the conference combined with the top team in each division will make the playoffs. That’s our four-team playoff. It’s very competitive. “We’re still deciding on our coaching staff and then we’ll look more closely at our player pool. The majority of the team will be local. We’ll be contacting

guys in the next month or so to see what their plans are, they want to do and what they want to fulfill. Our goal is to have a Winnipeg-based team that is highly competitive, but in the future, it’s likely that we’ll bring three-tofive players from outside Manitoba. Ultimately, it will be up to the coach. If he wants an attacking midfielder, it will be my job to go and find him his player. “It’s been a very busy three months and it’s only going to get busier.” The team is planning to play its games at the Soccer Complex on Waverley. The first home match is June 7 at 3 p.m. against the Green Bay Voyageurs. l

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getting ready for the call By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Vauxhall Academy On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Major League Baseball will begin selecting the best amateur baseball players and assigning them to organizations throughout MLB. It’s the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft and in tiny Dominion City, Man., one particularly gifted 17-year-old will be waiting to hear a Big League team call his name. After all, Maddux Mateychuk has all the tools. The Grade 12 student at Vauxhall Academy in Alberta is a 6-foot-3, 220-pounds and has a fastball that has been clocked, more than once, at 93 miles per hour. He’s also a member of Canada’s National Junior Team, is looking at a four-year US college scholarship and has already begun talking to Major League teams. This kid, named after Atlanta’s Hall of Fame righthander, Greg Maddux, is poised to get the call. “I’ve done about 10 (Major League team) surveys and I’ve talked to a few teams,” said Mateychuk. “My dad has talked to a few, as well. If I’m going to get drafted, it will speed up later in the year. I’m excited about the draft. I look forward to the opportunity and hope it happens.”

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Mateychuk, whose school-principal father, Jason, was one of the best players ever to play in the Manitoba Junior Baseball League. “I throw a two-seam fastball, changeup and slider. I used to try and throw a curveball but it wasn’t working for me so I incorporated the slider. If I get drafted and go to Single A, I assume they’ll have me working on a few more pitches. “I did really while at the Alomar Tournament in Toronto, the T-12 so then the National Team, people called me after that and told me I was invited to play on the Junior National Team. I was very excited for that opportunity. The T-12 is the biggest tournament in Canada, scouts-wise. “Everything depends on the offer. If it’s a good signing bonus, I’d probably take it, but I’m going to look at playing in college, as well. Hopefully a good four-year school.” Mateychuk is an outstanding allaround athlete who comes by his gifts naturally. His dad had an outstanding junior career from 1987-92 with the Elmwood Giants and excelled as a pitcher, first baseman, and power hitter. He then went on to have a terrific four-year career at Mayville

State and was All-conference in 1993. He’s still an active coach who has had success at all levels from grassroots baseball to Junior, Senior, and Provincial teams. “I started throwing the ball around with my dad when I was four or five,” Maddux said when asked his father’s influence. “My dad was a good player. I played all my minor ball in Dominion City and then in Peewee I started playing with South-Central.” All of Maddux’s four siblings participate in sports at some level. In fact, Maddux’s younger brother Denton, 15, is a 5-foot-10, 170-pound defenseman who has played for Canada’s U16 team at the Youth Olympics and has already played seven games with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors this season. Maddux was a solid hockey player himself. In 2017-18, he had 40 goals and 78 points in 36 games for the Eastman Selects’ City Midgets and in 2017 was selected by the Neepawa Natives in the MJHL Draft.

“I played hockey until I came here to Vauxhall in Grade 11,” he said. “I would have kept playing if I was back in Dominion City, for sure.” However, for the last two years, after the initial offer from Vauxhall Academy arrived, he’s be focussed solely on baseball. He’s now in his second year at the Alberta baseball academy and it’s paid off. This year, he got a call from Canada’s national junior team. “Vauxhall has been great,” Maddux said. “We have an indoor facility that we use every day from November until the end of March, although we do go down to Vegas in the middle of March for a couple of weeks. This year, though, I’ll be with the National

Junior Team in Florida at that time. At the end of March, we get outside to practice every week day and we get the weekends off. I’ve really enjoyed my time here. “Making the national junior team was really good. At, T-12, which is probably the biggest event in Canada when it comes to having scouts there watching, Baseball Canada talked to me at the tournament and then told me they’d like me to play with the National Junior Team. Our first trip is to St. Petersburg, Fla., on the fifth of March. It’s coming right up here so that’s exciting. I pitch against the Detroit Tigers and the Fort Lauderdale Stars.” Perhaps the most interesting thing about Mateychuk is a rare combination of velocity and durability. He throws hard, has four pitches (a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a change-up and slider) and yet, has never been injured. “When he first arrived at Vauxhall, the administrator said tom, ‘You haven’t filled out all the forms,’” Jason said. “I told her I believed I had, but she said, ‘No, you didn’t fill out the form with Maddux’s injury history.’ I

smiled and said, ‘There is nothing to put down.’ And she looked at me in disbelief. All teenaged ball players have had injuries. But I just said, ‘Maddux has never been hurt. Maybe a bit of a sore arm. It’s not like he’s Superman, he can’t pitch every day, but he’s never had an injury.” He has velocity, durability, athletic skills and smarts. He’s not just a thrower, but a very good pitcher who is getting better every year. Of course, with a name like Maddux, he had to be good. “Yeah, that’s what my dad thought he’s call me and my mom (Keela) agreed with it so I’m named after Greg Maddux,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a good thing I’m a pitcher.” l Do your kids scare you when they jump from heights and tumble around the house?



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Richardson Finishes Second at National Qualifier By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Christine Richardson and Racquetball Canada It’s amazing that Christine Richardson had the time to compete in one of the nation’s biggest racquetball events, even if it was played in her adopted hometown. Back in early February, the Winnipegbased member of Canada’s National Racquetball Team lost in the final of the first National Team Selection tournament of the year, 6-15, 11-15, to Michèle Morissette of Baie-Comeau, PQ. The loss did not affect Richardson’s position on the national team and while winning silver was never her plan, it’s not something that upsets her too much. “I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” said Richardson, smiling as she spoke. “Every competitive athlete wants to win every time. But to Michelle’s credit, she made every shot. If I left it up, she’d put it away. The loss will push me to better at our Nationals in May.” Racquetball Canada has three major National Team events every year. There are qualifying tournaments in February and November and the National Championships in May. Morissette, meanwhile, had been

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training and competing for several years as both a junior and an elite athlete so this win is one that she has been building towards for several years. “I am very happy to win my first national title and I am excited to see what the next events bring,” said Morissette who did defeat the No. 1 seed in the gold medal final. In the men’s open event, the top three seeds finished in order. Samuel Murray of Baie-Comeau defeated Coby Iwaasa of Lethbridge 2-1 in the final by scores of 9-15, 15-7, 11-1. Murray has now won several consecutive national team selection events. Results from the National Team Selection Event will be used to determine teams for international competition in 2020 including the Pan Am Championships and World Championships. They will also impact nominations for Sport Canada Athlete Assistance funding. Richardson intends to play at the World Championships. But although she has qualified, she will pass on the Pan Am Championships this year. Her racquetball schedule is busy enough, but there are also some important personal matters on her plate as well. “I started playing racquetball in Regina in 1996,” Richardson said. “My dad got me and my brother Graham into the game and I wanted to be just like my big brother so I pursued it and I’ve had some nice successes along the way. “In 2014, I got into a two-year program in B.C. for prosthetics and orthotics and in 2016, I was offered a job here in Winnipeg. So, I’m quite busy at work. I’m a prosthetist and I work with amputees right from the initial assessment, to the casting, to the fitting and the

final alignment of the prosthesis. So I have my work schedule to take into account, but I’m also getting married in Vancouver in October. So, I’ve decided to play at the World Championships in Mexico, but I won’t attend the Pan Ams this year. Lots going on these days. l

Women’s Open Singles Results Round Robin Play Round 1 (1) Christine Richardson (Winnipeg, MB) defeated (4) Cassie Prentice (Macrorie, SK), 12-15, 15-3, 11-0; (2) Michèle Morissette (Baie-Comeau, QC) defeated (3) Juliette Parent (St. Jacques de Montcalm, QC), 15-7, 15-5. Round 2 (1) Richardson defeated (3) Parent, 15-11, 15-2; (2) Morissette defeated (4) Prentice, 15-6, 15-5. Round 3 (2) Morissette defeated (1) Richardson, 15-6, 15-11; (3) Parent defeated (4) Prentice, 15-8,15-12.

Women’s Open Singles Final Standings

1. Michèle Morissette (Baie-Comeau, QC) 2. Christine Richardson (Winnipeg, MB) 3. Juliette Parent (St. Jacques de Montcalm, QC) 4. Cassie Prentice (Macrorie, SK)

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Shayna Moore, Prairie Blaze

The Junior Women’s Playoffs Are Here

Autumn DeGraeve, Silvertips

By Scott Taylor, Photos by Laurie Anderson

Alicia Prociuk, Polar Ice

Paige Collins, Western Predators

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The best junior women’s hockey league in the country, the Manitoba Junior Women’s Hockey League, is into its playoff season and all seven teams – the Prairie Blaze, Manitoba Blizzard, Northern Stars, Western Predators, Polar Ice, Manitoba Gray Owls and Silvertips – are taking part in the most exciting time of the season. This year, SportsLife Magazine sent photographer Laurie Anderson out to the Bell MTS Iceplex to record all the action, including this year’s All-Star Game. All seven players on this page were All-Star Game participants. If you want to catch the action, all playoff games are at the Bell MTS Iceplex. l

Ashten Vankoughnett, Manitoba Blizzard

Cortney Marko, Manitoba Gray Owls

Jorien Friesen, Northern Stars

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Articles from Winnipeg SportsLife March/April 2020