Friendly neighbourhood sports department mails it in

Reuben Villagracia
A Reuben With A view

Your friendly neighbourhood sports department, a.k.a. the People’s Bureau, is mailing it in this week.

To be honest, with the NHL and NBA playoffs over and the World Cup but a memory (and no new horseshoe tournaments on the horizon), I’m fresh out of topics—for now.

But here’s a little known fact: the days of inactivity before and after Major League Baseball’s all-star game (held yesterday in Milwau-kee) is the only time all year that neither of the four major professional leagues in North America (MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL) are holding any games.

You don’t know how much pleasure hearing this brought to Times reporter Sarah McGinnis. She loathes the fact we (read me) talk mindless sports drivel day in and day out around here.

Sad times. But there are plenty of shoutouts to keep you occupied.

Kitchen Creek pro Steve Wood fired a six-over par 78 to finish in a share for ninth-place at the latest stop in the Head Pro series at Niakwa Golf and Country Club in Manitoba.

The field of about 40 club pros from Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario had to fight heavy winds and a high level of humidity during the one-round event.

“I didn’t play well,” said Wood. “The weather played a role but the pins were in a tough spot.”

Meanwhile, other local golf notables take to the links out west this week as Glen Mills and Brian Johnstone compete at a Manitoba Assistants Association event at Larters’ Golf and Country Club while local ladies club champ Christin Thomson is at the Manitoba Amateur/Senior championship at Breezy Bend where she’ll currently 16 shots off the pace after her two rounds of 81 and 85 heading into final round action today.

Fort Frances native Chris Lind-berg has signed a one-year deal with Aloie of the Swiss Elite League. The 35-year-old spent last season with three different league teams, racking up 19 points in 12 games.

Lindberg has been playing pro overseas since 1999 (courtesy of the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal)

Local bowler Elaine Ossachuk led her Northern Ontario team by knocking down 310 pins over her average at the national ladies’ master team tournament in Thunder Bay last week.

But collectively, they finished sixth out of eight teams with a total pinfall of 19,864 in 21 games. Manitoba was tops at 22,378.

The angling duo of Doug McBride and Steve Ballan barely held on to a 15th place finish at the annual Shoal Lake bass derby last weekend. They reeled in 26.93 pounds at the two-day event, but fell from 11th spot after Day One.

Sioux Narrows’ Dan Kelly and Dennis Mandamin bagged just over 31 pounds to take the title ahead of FFCBC regulars Norm Lindsay and Jess Swenson.

Close to 80 boats competed.

The Borderland Thunder on Monday signed Matt Alexander, an 18-year-old defenceman who stands 6’3″ and weighs 210 pounds.

Alexander, a member of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s inaugural all-star team, helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their fourth-straight MNJHL championship.

He scored seven points (two goals, five assists) in 19 games against SIJHL teams and 23 points (10 goals/13 assists) in MNJHL play.

Thunder general manager Brent Tookenay said Alexander will provide a good presence on the blueline, but added fans should expect more signings in the coming weeks – most notably to fill the skates of departed starting goal Rob Hrabec.

Still on the subject of SIJHL’s off-season, how odd is it that hte only coach in the six-team league to retain his job (so far) is the Thunder Bay Snowplowing Wolves’ Dave Simpson – that’s right, the guy who sported a 4-42-2 record last year.

Meanwhile, gone are Todd Howarth (Nipigon Hawks) and Brent Vescio (Thunder Bay Bulldogs) – both of whom took front office and coaching staff positions with the Wolves. Dave Vescio will coach the Bulldogs while Tony Menard is the new head guy in Nipigon.

The defending champion Dryden Ice Dogs still don’t have a replacement for Larry Wintoneak, who left for Saskatchewan in April. He had come in to replace Al Trotz back in February.

Earlier this week, the Northwest Wisconsin Knights replaced head coach Don Babineau with Eric Ballard, who had coached the Yellow Jackets last season.

As of this weekend, former Thunder Bay head coach Wayne Strachan – who was replaced by Dave Allison last month – hadn’t decided yet if he’d come back as an assistant.

Is your head spinning? Mine too.

If you are planning any sporting events or have some sports-related information, feel free to call me at 274-5373, or email me at