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THE HALFTIME REPORT News from the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

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Message from the Hall

We’re so excited, Alberta. Every day that goes by brings us one step closer to reopening. But be assured that safety will be priority number one when we can finally reopen. Keep checking our social media feeds and website for updates on our reopening plans. We can’t wait to share all of the changes with you.

This newsletter is sponsored by Premier Building Solutions

Future Events

Currently On Hold

As per the current Covid -19 Guidelines, all in-person events are on hold – be sure to check back here once restrictions are lifted for a list of exciting events happening at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

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New WHL Award named in recognition of Honoured Member Bob Ridley

Medicine Hat, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced March 1st the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, a new WHL Award which will be presented annually to a distinguished member of the radio, television, and print journalism industry in recognition of their outstanding contributions to sports journalism and the WHL.
Original WHL Article:
http://https://whl.ca/article/western-hockey-league-unveils-bob-ridley-award-for-media-excellence

Provincial Sport Organization of the Month: Baseball Alberta

Baseball Alberta had its birth in the early 1900s, known at that time as the Alberta Amateur Baseball Association. For much of the early 1900s, the Alberta Amateur Baseball Association focused solely on Junior and Senior levels as they oversaw the leagues and Provincial Playoffs.

By 1964, the Alberta Amateur Baseball Association began organizing baseball in the province at all levels from Pee-Wee to Senior. The Provincial Government saw the need to provide travel funds for teams travelling to Westerns and Nationals in 1970. Very quickly baseball began taking off, as in 1971 there were already 104 communities involved with 539 teams registered.

In 1986 the Alberta Baseball Association adopted the name Baseball Alberta as its working name of choice. Today, Baseball Alberta is a leader in developing and promoting baseball on the Local, Provincial and National scene.

Baseball Alberta has been a National leader in developing items such as the Canadian Rule Book, the first National Baseball Week, Baseball Canada Pitch Counts, Girls/Women’s Baseball, the NUCP and NCCP, the Respect in Sport initiative, the Rally Cap and Grand Slam Programs.

There are now close to 100 associations registered with Baseball Alberta from all parts of the province and has over 15,000 players registered and playing baseball.  Baseball Alberta prides itself on providing the opportunity for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to participate in the game of baseball.

This Month in Alberta Sports History

On March 3, 2019, the 27th Canada Winter Games wrapped up following an incredible two-week run in Red Deer. Approximately 2,400 athletes representing all ten of Canada’s provinces and all three territories took part in the event, which began on February 15. Team Quebec finished on top of the podium with 146 total medals, with Team Alberta in second with 100 total medals, and Team British Columbia in third with 87 total medals. Away from the sporting venues, the Games also featured a rich arts and cultural festival.

Artifact of the Month

Artefact: Silver Chalice Trophy
Accession #: 2001.15.08
Year: 1940s-1950s
Description:
The Alexandra Hotel Trophy was awarded to athletes competing in the Calgary Ladies Fastball annual championship between 1945 and 1956. Across the wooden base, there are seven small plaques with the names of the winning teams and the year of the championship. This trophy is made from silver and is shaped in the traditional ‘chalice’ style. Cup-style trophies began to appear at sporting events as early as the late 1600s. Since then, trophy style has changed considerably; with various shapes and designs found in modern trophies. The classic chalice-style, however, has remained one of the more popular choices in marking victory.

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The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame provides a family-friendly, interactive experience. You will be surprised by what you discover inside! Have fun, laugh, play and discover Alberta sports heroes together. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame is an interactive, hands-on celebration of Alberta's sporting history. Our over 7,000 square feet of exhibit space includes a multisport area with virtual baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer; an adaptive sports area, including a 200 meter wheelchair challenge; a Treadwall climbing wall; the Orest Korbutt Theatre; the Hall of Fame Gallery; an art gallery displaying works by provincial artists, and much more. Our venue boasts a collection of over 17,000 artefacts of Alberta sports history and showcases many of these items in a number of displays. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame also offers an education program, group activities, and a unique environment to rent for your birthday party, special event, corporate reception or meetings.

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Hunter’s wife testifies she warned husband not to drink and drive the night he died

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EDMONTON — A hunter’s wife has testified she texted her husband not to drink and drive or get in a fight the night he and his uncle were shot to death on a rural Alberta road.

Sarah Sansom told a jury trial in Edmonton on Tuesday that alcohol consumption had previously caused problems in her marriage with Jacob Sansom, who had quit drinking two years before his death.

Crown lawyers have said Jacob Sansom and his uncle Maurice Cardinal were followed on a rural road northeast of Edmonton in March 2020 and shot after a confrontation.

Roger Bilodeau, 58, and his son Anthony Bilodeau, 33, have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of second-degree murder.

Brian Beresh, the younger Bilodeau’s lawyer, recounted a statement Sarah Sansom gave to police and read text messages she sent moments before a security camera captured her husband and the Bilodeaus as they confronted each other.

“You recall repeatedly telling the police that you were surprised or shocked when you learned that he had been drinking,” asked Beresh.

“Yes,” Sarah Sansom responded.

“You’re saying, ‘Don’t drive,'” he said, quoting the text messages she sent.

“Then you add, ‘No fighting, no driving … Please don’t hurt yourself or (do) anything dangerous or illegal’ … because you knew that when he drank he had a tendency to become aggressive, correct?” Beresh asked.

“He wasn’t aggressive. He just did stupid things like fighting very rarely,” Sarah Sansom responded.

“He got stupid sometimes, and did stupid things,” she later added during cross-examination.

“It was like falling down a set of stairs and stumbling all over the house … and making himself look stupid.”

Prosecutor Jordan Kerr said in his opening statement Monday that Sansom and Cardinal had gone moose hunting so they could fill the family’s freezer with meat as COVID-19 was shutting down the world.

He said the older Bilodeau saw the hunters’ pickup truck slowly go by his homeand it looked like one that had been on his property that day. While following the hunters in his truck, Bilodeau phoned his son and asked him to follow behind and to bring a gun, said the prosecutor.

Security footage from a nearby gas station shows the Bilodeau men in their trucks following Sansom and Cardinal in theirs, Kerr said.

Court heard Roger Bilodeau and the hunters first stopped their trucks on the road. Anthony Bilodeau arrived soon after. Within 26 seconds, he shot Sansom, then shot Cardinal as the hunter was walking to his truck, said Kerr.

A motorist called RCMP after finding Sansom dead in the middle of the road and Cardinal’s body in a ditch.

Autopsies determined that Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was shot three times in his left shoulder, said Kerr.

Defence lawyer Shawn Gerstel said Anthony Bilodeau shot at the hunters because Sansom had smashed a window of Roger Bilodeau’s truck and punched him. He had also punched his youngest son, who was 16 at the time and was sitting in the passenger seat, the lawyer said.

He said the hunters were drunk, loud and obnoxious.

On Tuesday, Sarah Sansom testified that she told police following her husband’s death that she felt the Bonnyville area had a lot of “toxicity.”

“Bad stuff always happened when we go out there,” she said on the witness stand.

She recounted the time her husband had confronted gang members who were selling drugs to hisbrother.

“Now (he) is sober and he thanks Jake for that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

___

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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Battle of Alberta hockey allegiances split in Red Deer

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The old Crown and Anchor bar in Red Deer, Alta., was famous for its line drawn down the middle when hosting hockey fans during the fierce Battle of Alberta playoff games of the late-1980s.

Calgary Flames fans sat on one side. Edmonton Oilers fans were relegated to the other.

NHL allegiances are split in the city of just over 100,000 people that sits within a kilometre of the exact halfway point of the 300-kilometre drive along Hwy. 2 between Calgary and Edmonton.

The Flames host the Oilers in Game 1 to kick off the second round of the NHL playoffs on Wednesday, in a Battle of Alberta of proportions not seen in decades.

“To see both fan bases totally engaged in playoffs is something that has just never happened in a lot of people’s life times who are under the age of 40,” said Merrick Sutter, senior vice-president of the Red Deer Rebels, and nephew of Flames coach Darryl Sutter. “We see it every day in Red Deer, just the sheer nature of being exactly in the middle.”

While it marks the sixth time the two teams have battled in the NHL post-season, it’s the first time in 31 years. The Oilers own a 4-1 series record.

The Rebels tweeted, tongue in cheek, on Monday: “Pray for Red Deer.”

Red Deer actually wins, no matter which team emerges victorious, said Mayor Ken Johnston.

“Really, every city from Fort McMurray in the north to Lethbridge in the south is going to benefit from the series, the bars, the restaurants, the hospitality industry, the ability for people to come together and socialize … and it couldn’t come at a better time from that perspective. People are just so eager to get out and be in person.

“But certainly Red Deer will benefit. Every other town and city (in Alberta) is going to have a piece of this series.”

The Mayor’s allegiances, he wasn’t afraid to admit, are with the Flames. He worked in Calgary during the team’s heyday of the late ’80s, when they made the Stanley Cup final in ’86 and won it all in ’89.

He has a Calgary jersey and a hat signed by Flames legend Lanny McDonald.

“Being a good mayor, I also have a little Oilers fanfare to wear from time to time,” he added with a laugh.

Sutter said allegiances in the Battle of Alberta have generational roots. His, of course, were forged in his family’s long history with the Flames. His dad Brent, now owner, president and GM of the Rebels, coached the Flames for three seasons, and uncle Darryl’s first coaching stint in Calgary was in 2003.

“Not many can understand, but there’s not very many circumstances where you have two franchises with such a longstanding rivalry,” he said. “This goes back to grandparents and parents, back in the ’80s and whatnot. It’s embedded. Now, to be able to reignite it is special, but to me it’s really about the younger people who have never seen that rivalry.”

Troy Gillard, who does play-by-play of Rebels games, said Red Deer has unique connections to both teams — although he noted he wore a Flames polo to the office on Monday. There’s the Rebels’ ties to the Sutter family. But he believes the Oilers saw a surge of new fans when the club drafted Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall in 2011. He was the first Rebel to go No. 1 in the draft.

The Oilers also have defenceman Kris Russell, who’s from nearby Caroline, Alta., and had Red Deer native Colton Sceviour before waiving him in late-January.

“Even here at the Rebels, we’re split pretty much 50/50. It’s gonna be a lot of fun around here the next couple weeks,” Gillard said.

These playoffs are the first held in full arenas in Canada since the COVID-19 began. Red Deer was slammed by the Omicron variant this past winter that saw the world junior championships there cancelled four days after it started.

“That Game 7 in overtime was as close to a return to normalcy as you’re going to find,” said Sutter, who was in Calgary on Sunday night for the Flames’ 3-2 OT thriller over Dallas.

“To see the crowd at Rogers Arena (in Edmonton) in Game 7 two nights ago, that game ended with a late goal and a burst of energy, and then to match that and then probably even beat it (Sunday) night in Game 7, overtime (in Calgary) — game sevens with premium endings in their own arenas … you couldn’t script it any better than that.”

Red Deer bars are buzzing with anticipation after a couple of years of hard times amid the pandemic.

“We’re all very very excited, it’s been a long time to have this kind of thing happen,” said Brennen Wowk, owner of 400-seat Bo’s Bar & Stage. “Staff will be in jerseys of their choice, (he’ll be in his No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Oilers jersey), we’ll be pouring lots of beer, and have the volume on as loud as it can go. As much excitement we can put into this room, we’re going to put into this room.”

Dallas Gaume hopes Alberta’s teams in the post-season will see hockey registration numbers in Red Deer return to pre-pandemic numbers.

“A lot of eyes are going to be on the province in the next two weeks, and I really think we’re going to get some growth out of this,” said Gaume, the GM of the Red Deer Minor Hockey Association.

There was no season in 2020-21 due to COVID-19, and then number of returning players dropped by 7.5 per cent this past winter. Gaume believes it’s a combination of issues, such as players needing to be vaccinated to enter arenas and players finding other winter activities during the lockdown.

Like the city of Red Deer, Gaume’s allegiances are split. He coached Nugent-Hopkins with the Rebels, “so I’m a big fan of his. And I’m a big fan of the Sutters, I think Darryl is a terrific coach. So I like both teams.”

There’s no love lost between the two squads, he said, and said Canada vs. the U.S. in women’s hockey would be an adequate comparison.

“I know that’s an extremely strong rivalry, with lots of dislike for one another,” Gaume said. “I think the same could be said with these two teams. I know with a lot of people, if you like the Oilers, you generally hate the Flames and the same the other way. You can’t like both.”

If he had to pick a winner?

“I think the Flames are the better team. Doesn’t necessarily mean they win the series. How’s that for my sitting-on-the-fence prediction?” he said with a laugh.

Game 2 is Friday in Calgary before the series heads north to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4. The series winner meets either St. Louis or Colorado in the Western Conference Final.

“One of the Alberta teams is going to be playing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final,” Gillard marvelled. “It’s going to be heartbreaking for whichever team loses in Round 2, but for whichever team moves on, how exciting is that?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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