The Weekender (July 1, 2016)

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The Weekender (July 1, 2016)

By: Bruce Luebke, Sports Director, 880 CKLQ

Happy Canada Day everyone.  Despite some of our issues, this is the annual reminder that this is still a great country to live in.  Enjoy the Canada Day celebrations and the rest of the weekend!!

The Wheat Kings released their full 2016-2017 schedule and participated in the CHL Import Draft this week.  The club managed to snag 24 of their 36 home dates on Friday and Saturday nights, which are the two best days for drawing spectators to Westman Communications Group Place.  Some of the key games: the home opener September 24 vs. Moose Jaw; November 4 vs. Seattle in a rematch of last year’s WHL Championship Series; post-Christmas games December 28 and 30 vs. Regina and Moose Jaw respectively and the last game of the regular season March 18 against the Pats.  Brandon’s schedule also includes just one 3-in-3 weekend, occurring during the club’s excursion through the B.C. Division in late November and early December.

On Tuesday, Brandon selected a pair of defensemen in the CHL Import Draft.  Linus Nassen is a 6-foot-0, 175 pound Swede who was a third round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2016 NHL Draft.  One scout says Nassen uses his quickness and smarts to control play in the defensive zone while helping generate offense via his speed and slick passes.  Daniel Bukac of the Czech Republic is a 17-year old blueliner who is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft who some scouts project could be a Top-100 pick next June.  Nassen would be the second Swedish defenceman to suit up for the Wheat Kings (Alexander Urbom) while Bukac would be the team’s first-ever blueliner from the Czech Republic.

Isabela Onyshko, a Minnedosa product that now calls Brandon home, is off to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  She’s the first Manitoba gymnast since 1984 to be a competing member of the Canadian Olympic team.  Onyshko seemed a lock to make the team after winning 2016 Elite Canada Competition in February but still needed a strong showing at the Gymnastics Canada Rio Selection Camp, which is exactly what happened.  Onyshko will have plenty of company in Rio as her coach with the Brandon Eagles, Lorie Henderson, was named one of the coaches of the Canadian women’s team earlier this week.

Onyshko is likely one of two Western Manitobans headed to the games.  Rivers’ product Toon Van Lankvelt is expected to be a member of the Canadian men’s volleyball team after helping the squad qualify in early June at the last chance Olympics qualifying event.  The roster for the Olympics likely won’t be officially set for a couple of weeks.  Onyshko and Van Lankvelt would be two of ten Manitobans on the summer Olympics squad, the most from our province in recent memory. The Rio Olympics will begin on August 5th.

I thought there might be a third Westman athlete headed to the Olympics. I inquired about the status of Brandon product Dustin Schneider, who has been a member of the National Men’s Volleyball team for several years.  However, Schneider will not be off to Rio and, in fact, has decided to retire from the sport of volleyball.  I wanted to send my best to Dustin and thank him for how he represented our country and our city on the international stage for the last few years.  All the best in your future endeavors.

Brandon product Leah Hextall was one of the causalities when Rogers re-shuffled the deck for its NHL coverage for next season.  Hextall had been an NHL studio host on Sportsnet in Canada since they landed the NHL contract two years ago.  Hextall quickly landed on her feet though, landing a gig to do on-ice ice level reports and interviews for ESPN during the World Cup of Hockey.

Quick hits…Brandon University has applied to host the 2019 CIS Men’s Volleyball Championship, and expect to hear whether that bid will be successful in the next couple of weeks…the Provincial Lawn Bowling Championship is taking place at the Wheat City Lawn Bowling Club at Rideau Park in Brandon this weekend…  MHSAA Executive Director Morris Glimcher officially retired from his post as the school year came to a close this week, spending 40 years in the role.  I had occasion to interact with Glimcher many times over the years, and his love of high school sports and athletes was a key thing in his role with the MHSAA.  Enjoy your retirement Mo!