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Vanstone: Regina Thunder is a wonder on and off the football field

The Regina Thunder, who are 8-0 in the PFC playoffs, also shine off the field due to their community initiatives.

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Robservations …


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• The Regina Thunder are a remarkable achievement, even when football is taken out of the equation. Members of the local Prairie Football Conference team – players, coaches, support staff, volunteers, etc. – are above all exemplary citizens. Those associated with the Thunder tirelessly perform various good deeds, all in the spirit of giving back to the community.

• On the football side, the Thunder have just finished their first regular season without defeat (8-0). The team coached by Scott MacAulay will host the Winnipeg Rifles on Sunday in the conference semifinals (1 p.m. Leibel Field). If the Thunder win, they will host the PFC home final on November 14. A third matchup of the season between the Thunder and the Saskatoon Hilltops would be a must-see, as these traditional rivals have collaborated for two regular-season classics. in September.

• MacAulay’s season summary at this point: “The ultimate goal of the players, coaches and organization was to make sure that we came out of the COVID shutdown better than getting into it. Watching their efforts pay off in the regular season has been great to watch and experience. Thunder alumni and the people of Regina should be proud of what these young men have accomplished to date. Not only did they finish the regular season in first place, but they ensured that the culture and dressing room remained strong, which was the No.1 priority for this season. Now the second season – the playoffs – begins for the Thunder, who hope to win their second national title. MacAulay guided the Thunder to a Canadian Junior Football League championship in 2013.


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• How is it for a transport? Ten members of the Thunder have been on the PFC All-Star squad, including three offensive linemen – Riley Schick, Logan Hubick and Connor Klassen. They were joined by quarterback Carter Shewchuk, receivers Rylan Sokul and Isaac Foord, kicker Eric Maximuik, defensive lineman Reece McCormick, linebacker Ryan Mills and defensive back Justin Mckerracher. McCormick, running back Ryland Leichert, wide receiver Tristan Bergquist and linebacker Stephen Smith represented the Thunder on the rookie squad.

• Also note: De Shawn Le Jour, formerly of the Thunder and Johnson Wildcats, was on the All-Star as a receiver. Le Jour caught 26 passes for 519 yards with the Edmonton Huskies, who will face hosts Hilltops in Sunday’s other semifinal. Le Jour’s nine TD receptions led the PFC by a comfortable margin. He added two more points in a 53-9 playoff win over the Calgary Colts.

Reginans Roll

• What a week it’s been for Regina NHL players. Ryan Getzlaf scored his 989th point on Sunday to become the Anaheim Ducks’ all-time leading scorer, edging Teemu Selanne. Cole Sillinger played his first two-goal big-league game on Wednesday before assisting overtime winner Jake Bean as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat host Colorado Avalanche 5-4. The following night, Jordan Eberle recorded the first hat trick in expansion Seattle Kraken history, which beat the Buffalo Sabers 5-2. Best of all, Eberle clocked a natural hat trick in the span of nine minutes and 41 seconds en route to claim the first star honors. The second star: Wilcox-born Jaden Schwartz, who assisted on Eberle’s first and third goals before scoring an empty net. Schwartz was plus-4.


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• Aaron Portzline, who covers the Blue Jackets so well for The Athletic, regularly answers readers’ questions. A curious mind wondered if Sillinger, 18, “was going to be a good or a great center in the NHL.” Response from Portzline: “When I think great, I think Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Yzerman… I’m not sure I’m ready to predict that, but I’ll say this: I think he’s going to be a hell of a player. for a hell of a long time. I thought the other day that of all the best prospects the Blue Jackets have had over the years, the reassurance I feel about Sillinger’s future is close to only two other Blue Jackets: Rick Nash and Zach Werenski. It’s like a puppy with huge paws. You just know they’re going to be huge. He has all the attributes to be a 1-2 center in this league for a long, long time.

Escape from Bédard?

• One night, Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats will explode for four or five goals. The sublime Bédard, who has scored four goals and six assists in 12 games, is late. Who knows? The breakout game may take place on Saturday against the Brandon Wheat Kings. He leads the WHL in shots on goal with 68.

• Underrated: Candiac-born Drew Englot, a 19-year-old center who does so much to help the Pats with so little fanfare. So here is a little fanfare.

• Watch Part 1: The Pats’ Tanner Howe, not turned 16 until Nov. 28, has three points in his last two games.

• Watch Part 2: Moose Warriors defenseman Jaw Denton Mateychuk, 17, but playing with the cool of a 20-something.


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Start the credits …

• Nice people who deserve a catch: Debbie Ziola, Frank Ziola, Kirk Ziola, Jack Abendschan, Marjorie Abendschan, Tyvan Taylor-Dyer, Carman Dyer, Stephanie Taylor, Anna Crowe, Savanna Belitski, Annie Ewenin, Jacqueline Herman, Bradley Mistol, Ryan Pedraza, Laura Woodward, Luke McGeough, Cody Mapes, Reid Johnson, Brad Folkestad, Preston Young, Paul Dornstauder, Manny Viveiros, Jason Johnson, Sheldon Kennedy, Todd Holt, Greg Gilhooly, Olga Coates, Joey Walters, Jordan Eberle, Cole Sillinger and Mélissa Fiacco.

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