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Friday, March 30, 2012


Lets be honest.  Very few people thought the Ice Dogs would be in this predicament.  Oh sure, many may have thought there would be a game 5 in this series, but most thought it would be a game for the Ice Dogs to wrap up the series, not the pivotal Game 5 with we will witness tomorrow night. (Grumpy author aside: I had the Ice Dogs in 5)

Credit goes to the Oshawa Generals who have turned a series that was threatening to be a laugher  into something that is serious business if you are a fan or a player of the Ice Dogs.    If  I'm an Oshawa supporter I'm not sure if I'm thrilled at the very real possibility of an upset or ticked off because this is the team they should have seen all year long. Heck, even the casual Oshawa fan seemed to turn their back on the Generals as the attendance at the GM Centre has averaged less than the tight and friendly confines of the Gatorade Garden City Complex. 

Even the relentless Ice Dog fans who him every time he touches the puck will admit that Lucas Lessio has been the best forward on both teams in the series in the last two games.  He's been dangerous every time he's touched the puck and has shown an extra gear which was particularly in full effect in the goal which gave Oshawa a 3-2 lead in the third.   Boone Jenner has scored four goals in the last two games and has been a leader on the ice.  More surprising is the fact that Oshawa has climbed back into the series with modest contributions from both Christian Thomas and Nicklas Jensen, two players who combined for 60+ goals during the season, but just two so far in the playoffs.  Daniel Altshuller has been spectacular at times in the Oshawa net and every bit the rookie that he is at other times.  Don't be fooled by the 47 shots the Ice Dogs generated in game 3.  Too many opportunities were from the perimeter and with minimal traffic impeding Altshuller.  Coach Gary Agnew looked like a coach that had lost his team after Games 1 and 2. Now his decision to call a timeout in the third period of game 3 with the score 4-3 Ice Dogs made him look like a genius as the Gens have outscored Niagara 8-3 since that point.   Notice that the elephant in the room "team discipline" has not even been mentioned yet, but the Generals have either been smarter or better disciplined as the Ice Dogs have had less opportunities with the man advantage in Games 3 and 4 and the Generals have been more focused on puck battles. 

On the Ice Dogs end of things, everything that they are doing poorly is correctable.  This is a team that was the stingiest when it came to goals against, yet they have given up 11 goals in the last two games.   Allowing the Generals to freewheel in the neutral zone has been the result of forwards not getting back and defensemen backing into too much.  Mark Visentin has not come up with the big save that Niagara has needed but you can hardily lay the blame at the feet of the Phoenix 1st rounder for the sudden demise of the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.   Simplicity should be the key for the Ice Dogs in Game 5.  Stand up at the blue line and re-claim the neutral zone and the Ice Dogs are in better shape.  Offensively there has been no shortage of shots, but a dearth of quality opportunities.  More traffic to the net of Altshuller might test the nerves of the young goaltender.  One astute e-mailer noticed that Oshawa is trying to keep the puck away from Visentin on the shoot-in.  No doubt neutralizing the best puck-handling goalie in the game has played a small but significant role in the Generals fine play.   

You hate to over dramatize a moment, particularly if you are the host broadcaster, but this is the game of the year for the Ice Dogs.  Win, and the hammer of momentum swings back to them, but lose and all the pressure in the world falls on the shoulders of an Ice Dog team that was expected to playing deep into May. 

The hottest selling T-Shirt in Niagara is emblazoned with the date of the Memorial Cup and the words "Why not us?"  Now the question should be "Why us?"  The Ice Dogs have to do some inner reflection in order to get back to the things that made them highly successful during the regular season. 

We will have Game 5 Saturday March 31st 7pm on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack.  I will be joined by Ed Burkholder and Al Galloway on the call. 

Steve Clark
Ice Dogs TV Play by Play

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Call me the end result of a diverse mind, or call me too scattered and idle to develop a cohesive column, but here are a few scattered and very, very random thoughts as I ruminate on the OHL, NHL, Toronto sports, Wrestlemania, basketball and a few other choice subjects.

- The OHL playoffs sure are fun, and unpredictable.  Consider:

  • The Ice Dogs were 3:30 away from a 3-0 series lead, and a chance to sweep away the Generals on Sunday.  Two goals in eight seconds now push us to a pivotal game four , and a series in which Oshawa is very much alive
  • The Belleville Bulls were about 10 minutes away from squaring their series at 2-2 as they held a comfortable 3-0 lead on Ottawa.  That lead dissipated and the 67's furious rally placed the game in OT.  All was well in Belle-Vegas as Brady Austin won it in OT and sent the series to a best of three. 
  • The #2 seed in the West, the Plymouth Whalers were in deep trouble in their series as they were down 2-0 to Guelph.  The Whale posted an emphatic 7-1 pasting to get right back in the series.  
  • The Sudbury Wolves and Brampton Battalion series was deemed to be a pick 'em by many prognosticators, and yours truly had Sudbury in 6.   Here we are approaching Game 4 and the Troops are prepared to bring out the brooms versus the Wolves
- What is not fun right now is being a Toronto fan of either the Raptors or the Leafs.  Raptor fans are cheering a free slice of pizza for hitting a 100 points, even though their team trailed by 18 at the time.  Leaf fans are embracing the phrase " Tank Nation", something evidently embraced by osmosis by the pitiful collection of Leafs that wear the Blue and White

- Quebec is breaking ground on an NHL style arena, though they are missing the key component of an NHL franchise.  I'd just like to point out Hamilton's Victor K. Copps Coliseum was built in 1985 for many of the same reason as Quebec.  Both have adopted the mantra "If you build it, they will come".  I've dubbed Copps as the White Elephant on Bay Street

- While the Leafs suffer through their 7th straight non-playoff campaign, the Red Wings just garnered their 21st post-season appearance in a row.  No need for further commentary

- Wrestlemania goes on Sunday wit the highlight being John Cena vs The Rock.  The build up for this match was lacklustre at best until Monday night when the two engaged in a spirited verbal showdown.  I was in before, but now my level of intrigue has increased.   

- Congrats to the NBL of Canada for a successful first season. Success in Canadian professional basketball is measured by if all your franchises survived the first year.  Plans for expansion are in the works and the London Lightening/Halifax Rainmen drew over 5 000 at the John Labbat Centre for the pivotal Game 5 which was won by the Lightening.  Hopefully the league will expand to Hamilton so that there is a more central point between the existing franchises in Oshawa and London. 

- With Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas and Ohio State in the Final Four, my two least favourite coaches are left standing with the equally smug John Calipari and Rick Pittino.  At least one of the two will be beaten out on Saturday as it's an all Kentucky match up involving the two coaches.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Game 3: Oshawa 6 Niagara 4

You really didn't believe the Ice Dogs were going to win 16 straight and waltz into the Memorial Cup did you? As the Plymouth/Whalers and Guelph Storm proved, anything can happen in the OHL playoffs.  The 7 seed Storm have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the #2 Whalers, a team many picked to go to the OHL finals.  

With the Niagara/Oshawa series, game three was not an aberration.  Loaded with NHL calibre talent, the Generals made two significant changes to their game plan  One was start rookie Daniel Altshuller, who looked a little unsteady at times, rock solid at other points.  The second one was to try and stay away from their undisciplined play that had them in the penalty box 15 times over Games 1 and 2.  The Generals certainly made their trips to the box, handing the Ice Dogs six power plays, but their penalty killing was much better and allowed the Ice Dogs only one power play goal, while utilizing their own power play effectively going 2/5. 

A lot of the buzz on the message boards had written off the Generals prior to game three, but this was a loose bunch who engaged in a spirit game of keep before the game, giving no indication that they were a team that got outscored 14-3 in the first two games of the series.   More commentary on social media seemed to lean towards the theme that the Ice Dogs did not play their A game on Sunday night and "allowed" Oshawa back in the series.  That was only part of the equation.  Clearly, Oshawa came out much more focused, and did not allow the Ice Dogs to dictate the pace of the game and were full value for a victory that gets them right back in the series.  As for the Ice Dogs, lapses in defensive zone coverage are a rarity for the top ranked defensive team but they had two glaring ones.  One was to allow Scott Laughton to waltz uncontested in front of Mark Visentin for the tying goal, and then a number of Ice Dogs missed their assignments scant seconds later allowing Lucas Lessio to roof the eventual game winning goal.   50 shots were fired by the Ice Dogs at Daniel Altshuller, but 24 of them were in the 3rd period.   

Boone Jenner led the way, as a captain should, with a hat-trick, Scott Laughton added a pair and the eminently lovable Lucas Lessio netted the winner during a wild third period that saw each team score three times and also blow a lead.   

Ryan Strome had two for the Ice Dogs, while Dougie Hamilton and Steven Shipley added singles. 

Game four is Wednesday in Oshawa, and we very much have a series.   

Here are the highlights:

Thursday, March 22, 2012


On the cusp of night one of the OHL play-offs, time to bring out the ol' crystal ball for some 1st round predictions.  It should be noted that predicting is a tenuous thing to grasp.  In my two NCAA pools, I'm first in one pool and last in the other, choosing to tweak the peaks from pool to pool. Naturally the one I put money into is the one I'm last in.  Anyways, here goes!!!


Niagara over Oshawa in 5 games.
This is a rematch of last years 2nd round that was won by the Ice Dogs in five.  The Generals have had a slew of suspensions, and a number of guys over 100 PIM, have changed coaches, parachuted three defensemen in at the trade deadline and still could not find that magic combination.  These will be good hard fought, physical games ,but the Ice Dogs have been red-hot and have the better skill-set.

Ottawa over Belleville in 6 games. 
Ottawa comes into the play offs having lost 4 of 5, and have the spectre of last years unceremonious 4 game sweep versus Sudbury looming over them.  Belleville is team that performed well at times, horribly at others.  Malcolm Subban and Petr Mrazek is a tantalizing goalie match up, but Ottawa's skill-set should play well on the big ice surface of Belleville and they will survive in the end.

Barrie over Mississauga in 7 games. 
Mississauga has become an increasingly frustrating team to play against, due to their stingy defense led by Leaf draft pick Stuart Percy and their veteran goaltender Brandon Maxwell.  Barrie closed out the season playing very well, and even though they will miss Tanner Pearson  due to injury, should have enough depth on offense to prevail.  This could be a series in which the team that establishes their style first comes out on top.

Sudbury over Brampton is 6 games
A very even match up between two very-well coached teams.  Brampton stumbled a bit in the 2nd half of the season, but should be hungry after being swept aside by Niagara last season, while Sudbury is a team that is playoff ready. They play a rough and tumble game, have a dominant scorer in Michael Sgarbossa and a solid one-two goalie tandem in Johan Mattson and Joel Vienneu.


London over Windsor in 5 games
Much like the 1-8 match-up in the East, the #1 Knights will have their work cut out for them in this one with a Windsor squad with history and tradition on their side.  London has far too much talent and depth and will prevail, but expect them to get tested along the way. Next year Windsor will be vastly improved, but this year they will learn some valuable lessons.

Saginaw over Sarnia in 6 games
Eulogies were being written in Saginaw until Todd Watson was dismissed and Greg Gilbert came in.  This was a team that appeared to be sellers at the deadline as they jettisoned Jamie Oleksiak to Niagara.  I really, really like the talent level in Sarnia, but I'm unconvinced that they can put it all together in the play-offs.  This could be the prediction that I could be the most off on.

Kitchener over Owen Sound in 6
I don't know what it is about Kitchener, but I am not convinced that they are a team poised for a deep play-off run, but they should knock off Owen Sound, who are a mere shell of the team that won the OHL championship last year.  Mike Halmo, arguably the heart and soul of the team is unavailable due to suspension and two of their top D-men in Matt Petgrave and Geoff Schemitsch went to Oshawa.

Plymouth over Guelph in 5
Plymouth, under the combative Mike Vellucci had a fine season and gained the second seed in the conference and had the second most points in the OHL along with Niagara.  Guelph waited until the last week of the season to officially qualify.  I only saw each team a couple of times this year, so I'm just going with the deeper, more talented upper seed.

See everyone in Round 2.

Remember we will have Game 1 of the Oshawa/Niagara series on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack at 7pm tonight. Game 2 will be up in Oshawa tomorrow night and then we will have Game 3 Sunday at 6pm (note the special start time)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Broadcast Booth Wednesday March 21st 10 pm Cable 14

Images from the show taping:



The Broadcast Booth Episode 1: Wednesday March 21st 10 pm

The first episode of the Broadcast Booth went in the can last night. By the way, that's TV talk for the episode being finished, not a commentary on the content and entertainment value of the production. Well, at least that is what I hope it means...

It's strange though.  I've been doing local TV now in a variety of roles for eight years now, but I never have felt as nervous as I did last night.  Maybe it was all the people running around setting up set, lighting, cameras audio, but I think more so, it was the fact that it was my name on the marquee, so to speak.   Literally my name was attached to the success or failure of the show. All worries went by the way side though.  My guests, The Hamilton Spectator's Scott Radley and Junior hockey commentator Al Galloway were fantastic, as they were both knowledgeable and entertaining and we literally could have spent the whole half hour on one topic, always a good sign for a talk show. 

Viewers of the show, I hope will be pleasantly surprised at the final product, as the guests were unafraid to voice their opinions, even if they would be considered dissenting view points.  Also, I think we raised some issues on Hockey in Hamilton going forward. 

I'll post a couple of pictures later on. 

The Broadcast Booth Wednesday 10 pm Cable 14 Hamilton, and also online at 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Broadcast Booth

The Broadcast Booth With Steve Clark Debut's Wednesday March 21st 10pm on Cable 14

Here's a quick post, and a rather gratuitous bit of self-promotion.  I've been working hard in getting my own sports show in the Hamilton area and it has finally come to fruition with the debut of The Broadcast Booth With Steve Clark on Cable 14. 

The show will air Wednesday nights at 10:00 pm and will repeat Saturday mornings at 10:30 am.  The goal of the show is to discuss some of the major sporting issues that affect the Hamilton area.  I will feature different guests, or a round table depending on the topic at hand. 

Wednesday's show will deal with the theme Hockey in Hamilton.  With NHL dreams all but dashed, Hamilton has an AHL team that struggles to gain a consistent foothold, a Provincial Jr A team in the Redwings and rumours of an OHL franchise relocating to the Steel City.

They also have a 17 000 seat arena that is over 25 years old, and a 2 500 arena that was recently renovated to a certain extent. Where does Hamilton fit in the current hockey landscape?  That very issue, and more will be discussed with The Hamilton Spectator's Scott Radley and Junior Hockey Commentator Al Galloway.   

When:  Wednesday March 21st 10 pm
Where: Cable 14 TV, and also online for local Cable 14/Source Cable and Cogeco subscribers

Thursday, March 8, 2012


A few musings to ponder and consider as the Mississauga St-Mike's Majors come to town to take on the Ice Dogs for the final time in Niagara in the regular season:

-The OHL continues to baffle me with its ruling/lack of ruling.   No suspensions, it appears, for either Alex Friesen or Tyler McCarthy.  Friesen, I thought, would get a 3-5 game banishment.  I would not have agreed with the ruling, but from what the OHL is trying to promote this year, and the fact Friesen was assessed a game misconduct, I thought they would give Friesen a little supplemental attention.   Tyler McCarthy getting nothing for his blatant head shot to Tom Kuhnhackl also goes unpunished, astonishing in a year in which 10 games has been the norm for contact to the head.   It's almost like the OHL wanted to give a free pass to the teams, considering the circumstances of the game itself.

- Mississauga has returned Leaf 1st round draft pick Stuart Percy, and veteran D-Man David Corrente to the line up and that makes them a difficult team to play against.  Along with Oshawa, I consider Mississauga to be something of a sleeper team in the playoffs, should both teams make it.   The Majors can boast veteran Brandon Maxwell in net and he had a deep run with Kitchener a couple of years back where he played 20 games in the post-season.   Caveat Emptor to all teams that may face Mississauga in the 1st round

- Erie, with G Adam Wood, between the pipes lost 10-6 to Plymouth last night.  This should put to rest the fact that the Ice Dogs were running up the score versus Erie.  If you actually watched the game, you could see the Ice Dogs only put the pedal down after McCarthy felled Kuhnhackl with a head check.   More people would criticize the Ice Dogs for having key personnel out when the issue had long been decided.  The Dogs were down to 10 forwards in the third period, after Friesen's ejection and Kuhnhackl's injury.   With all the mixing and matching that the Ice Dogs had to to do, you were guaranteed to see Strome, Hamilton, Agozzino and Ritchie every other shift.

- The Otters are on the verge of a two year least at Tullio Arena, according to various reports.  I myself have visited the Tullio arena and have a lovely picture somewhere of myself in front of the Louis J. Tullio plaque/statue (can't remember which).  How many people can claim that?

- The idea of saluting Connor Crisp after the game on Sunday came from the Ice Dog players themselves, who then suggested it to Marty Williamson.   It was a classy move by a team that has been unfairly bashed on some of the social media sites.

- Our TV Cogeco video of the Erie game has been everywhere, from the National Post to Deadspin.  Happy to report that only two people made reference to "idiot Niagara TV broadcasters", which I'm guessing is about average.

- On a different note, the Nazim Kadri I saw in junior hockey had speed to burn, creativity and an edge and aggressiveness to him.  Now the Leafs have misused him to the point that he does not rate a call-up when the team is floundering, instead the Leafs called up journeyman bruiser Jay Rosehill, who save for a couple of foolish penalties, has made zero impact.  Baffling.

- Ed and I will have the in-arena pre-game show at about 6:40 today.  We went on the "road" for our last vignette, and did it from the Ice Dog merchandise store.  Who knows where we will end up next?  Maybe we will try and do it from the Mississauga bus.  After all Dave Cameron is not around to give us the death stare.

Steve Clark

Monday, March 5, 2012


I thought that had seen it all when we the lights went out in the Gatorade Garden City Complex a couple of years ago, forcing a 45 minute delay and then the subsequent completion of the game in front of about 200 enthusiastic fans. 

Then there was Sunday March 4th 2012.   It was the day Centre/Goalie Connor Crisp became a media sensation and the #4 trending topic in Twitter when he was forced to replace starter Ramis Sadikov who got ran over by Alex Friesen because Erie did not bring a back-up goalie.  Friesen, by the way,  inexplicably got a five minute charging penalty and a game misconduct instead of the usual 2 minutes for goaltender interference. . 

Ironically I had asked Paul Roper, the fine radio play by play voice, of the Otters before the game about what would happen if the Otters did lose their goaltender and we all had a good laugh pre-game about how maybe the Otters would turn their net around, just like you used to do when you rented the ice and only had one goalie. 

What followed was something along the lines of a tragic-farce.  Crisp, who admitted that he never strapped on the goalie pads since he was five years old,  bumbled his way on the ice, handled a couple of easy warm up shots and then promptly fell down.   While the fans had a good laugh, and we chuckled on air a little bit too. However, we tried to also made the point that this was a bit of an embarrassment to the OHL, supposedly the top feeder league to the NHL,  because the Otters solution was more along the lines of house league or beer league hockey.What else were the Otters to do? 

  They could forfeit the game, and thus, enrage 3000 paying customers who would correctly demand a refund, and the Burke's, who are the owners of the Ice Dogs would likely have to honour their demands.  Or they could put a position player in the net because it had become abundantly clear that Sadikov's day was done.  

Predictably Freddie Hamilton would test Crisp from the outside with a harmless wrist shot that eluded the befuddled goaltender rang off the post and in.  Freddie Hamilton, an astute hockey mind if there ever was one, reacted with sheepish amusement.  No celebration, no jump into the boards, just a head down and an acceptance of reluctant congratulations from his equally bemused teammates.   

The Otters would actually make a game of it in the first period after spotting the Ice Dogs a 3-0 lead, by striking back twice against an Ice Dog team who did not really know how to handle the situation.   

When the second period began Crisp started to skate to the wrong side of the rink, drawing some more guffaws from the crowd and the game began to get a little more predictable.  Ryan Strome netted a hat trick in the second period and the Dogs went into the second period locker room with a 7-3 lead.  

Unintentional humour was provided by the officials when then assessed Niagara's Milan Doudera with a delay of game penalty.  This after the Otters took 20 minutes to stitch and sew Crisp's name and number on a jersey and then delayed the game a good three times more by having to do up his pads during stoppages

After the teams traded goals, the games intensity got ratcheted up when Tyler McCarthy took a run at Ice Dogs Tom Kuhnhackl and levelled the Ice Dog forward with a direct shot to the head.   A ludicrous two minutes for contact to the head was assessed by the officials, and from that point on the Ice Dogs poured it on a little bit with five straight unanswered goals and Strome would end the day with five goals and one assist. 

A nice moment came at the end of the day as the crowd rose to give the battling Crisp a nice round of applause and the Ice Dogs came over and congratulated the embattled goaltender.   Crisp was named the first star of the game, and he gets credit for facing not only  one of the top offences not just in the OHL, but also the CHL.   

Sadly social media came alive and there was the predictable dissing of the Ice Dogs for running up the score.   Really, what else were the Ice Dogs to do?  Dump the puck in the corner while on a 2 on 1.  I remember asking former Tiger Cat and McMaster Marauder football coach Greg Marshall on what he thought of a team that scored a meaningless touchdown against his squad when the game had long been decided.  He told me that it is more of an embarrassment if it is obvious that a team is trying not to score, rather than scoring when the opportunity presents itself.  Play hard until the end of the game was his mantra, and it is one that I have believed in since. 

Sherwood Bassin, owner of the Otters, has come out with an apology for what happened, which I thought was a classy move.  What has not been so classy is the level of vitriol dumped on the Ice Dogs' players, particularly Ryan Strome, who was deemed to have padded his stats after a five goal performance.  Ryan Strome does not need my defense, but I think people need to be reasonable in this situation.  

 The bigger issues is not whether or not a team ran up the score, but rather the curious way the officials handled the game in light of the Friesen and McCarthy calls and the fact that OHL needs to address the fact that a team did not have a back up goaltender. 

I have long since given up tried to figure out how the OHL handles supplementary discipline, so I will not even try to offer an opinion as to how they are going to handle some the penalized elements of this game.  I am a humble part time sports commentator, not the Amazing Kreskin.   

In the long run, I felt all the players on the ice, with the exception of a couple, handled themselves with grace and class, none more than Crisp himself who has become something of a hero for stopping 33 of 46 shots directed at him. 

How the OHL handles this particular situation going forward will be interesting to say the least.    

Here are the highlights


Steve Clark

Thursday, March 1, 2012


In a country where we have TSN, TSN2, 5 Regional Sportsnet Channels, The Score and CBC, the Nationals are being broadcast on regional cable.   Now, I know that Sportsnet was in the mix and a deal could not be struck and The Score and TSN have been quality carriers in the past, though TSN has lapsed into tape-delayed programming, which may as well be throwaway programming in a age in the tech savvy age that we live in.   The CBC, who is supposed to promote those Canadian sports that don't get the mainstream programming, has not shown the slightest hint of interest in university sport, save for the ill-fated and quickly quashed CBC SportsPlus, which had it come to fruition would have shown some university 

Also, I know that ratings and advertising drive the bus when it comes to live sports programming and the CIS just does not draw the consistent numbers needed to generate the neccesary revenue, so you cannot expect sports networks to pay anything to the CIS.  The best they can hope for is for a network to absorb the production costs.  Heck, that was basically the deal that the NHL struck with NBC.  What needs to happen is that the CIS needs to go to the member conferences and get them to kick in some dollars to help cover some of the costs, and to shoot an ad for their conference.  Individual universities can then pony up more money if they want their university featured on top of the conference. 

The CIS did the best it could, considering the 11th hour was fast approaching, and some coverage is better than none.  The next logical step would be to get NBA Canada involved on a greater level, carrying some regular season games live next year, including the championships building a show around Canadian basketball.  Small steps, but I've long maintained consistency of coverage is the best way to steadily build an audience.  With all due respect to The Score, they cannot expect many eyeballs this weekend when they cover the Wilson Cup because essentially it is a one off and there is a lack of familiarity in the athletes and the product wit the core fan.  The best numbers the CIS drew, at least in Ontario, was when the CHCH game of the week gave teams consistent exposure and when the championships were on TSN the games drew some modest numbers.   

Sport business commentator Howard Bloom lavished praise on the CIS for doing what they could.  Sorry Howard, I can't give the CIS a free pass on this one  I know that they have been without a marketing director for four months, but to me, that is not the wisest business plan when you know that you have major winter championships coming up.  Plus, the CIS has had a wonderful year with football.  Again, more consistent coverage on The Score, RDS and TSN has been a major booster in this regard.  Plus, Sportsnet will be carrying the CIS Hockey Championships, so it seems basketball may have got the short end of the stick when it came to negotiating rights. 

Plus, someone I know in sports marketing had a sound TV friendly idea with 6 conference winners automatically in the draw, and the next 8 best teams (6 conference losers, and two next highest teams) battling it out for the final two spots.  The only downside is that you have something of a meaningless final two game, as both teams have already qualified.  Call it Wild Card Weekend, and you've got a nice television weekend of basketball.  

The sky is not falling yet for CIS basketball. There is a lot of good infrastructure in place and I have not even mentioned SSN Canada, which has been a quality partner and though it is in the fledgling stages right now, looks to be the future.  Maybe some day in the future the SSN Network can be its own digital cable channel.  Surely the national focus it would have would make even the curmudgeons at the CRTC smile.   

The best comparable that someone made to me to regard to the CIS, and its conferences  was the CHL.  I have covered the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL for five years now and I can tell you that they are light years ahead of the CIS/OUA when it comes to being media friendly.  In many markets OHL games viewership rival those of the NBA games shown on the Super Sports Action Pack.  Hockey rules in this country, no doubt about it, but the next step is the for the CIS and its member conferences to adopt the OHL model, which is build locally, branch out to regionally but always have your eye on what you could offer a national sports network.