It is a jammed-pack weekend over the next couple of days with a lot of events going on. Let us get right to it!
Saturday & Sunday—World Short Track Speed Skating Championships—www.cbcsports.ca—The world’s best short track speed skaters will be competing this weekend in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Canada will be represented by Marianne St-Gelais of Roberval, Quebec, who is currently ranked first in the world in the women’s 500 metres and Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Quebec, who is currently ranked third in the world in the women’s 1500 metres. On the men’s side, Charles Hamelin of Levis, Quebec, has won four career Olympic medals and is always dangerous in any discipline he competes in. The 500m (7:41 a.m. PT) and 1500m (6:51 a.m. PT) takes place Saturday, with the 1000m (7:49 a.m. PT) and relays (9 a.m. PT) taking place Sunday.
Saturday–World Baseball Classic—Canada vs. Colombia—Sportsnet—9 a.m. PT—It is an important game for Team Canada after they were destroyed 9-2 by the Dominican Republic on Thursday. Nick Pivetta of Victoria will get the start for the Canadians. Pivetta is a prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies system. The Canadians may have an advantage because they have Friday off. Colombia meanwhile will have played Friday against the United States in their first game of the tournament.
Saturday & Sunday—Tim Horton’s Brier—TSN—The playoffs for the 2017 Tim Horton’s Brier takes place this weekend from St. John’s, Newfoundland. As of press time we know that Kevin Koe of Calgary, who is representing Team Canada, will play Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs Saturday at 10:30 a.m. PT in the 3-4 game. The winner will then play either Manitoba’s Mike McEwen or Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue in the semi-final (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. PT). McEwen and Gushue are playing in the 1-2 game Friday evening with the loser playing in the semi-final and the winner playing in the final (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. PT).
Saturday—NHL—Philadelphia Flyers @ Boston Bruins—Sportsnet One—10 a.m. PT—In an Eastern Conference battle, the Bruins and Flyers are currently battling for playoff spots. The Bruins at 76 points, currently lead the Toronto Maple Leafs by two points in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia meanwhile is five points back of the New York Islanders for a playoff spot. Brad Marchand has had a great season for the Bruins as he leads the team with 32 goals and 70 points.
Saturday—World Baseball Classic—Venezuela vs. Italy—Sportsnet One—12:30 p.m. PT—In an extraordinary comeback Thursday night, the Italians came back from a 9-5 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to upset the host Mexicans 10-9. Blue Jays fans will need an Advil after watching Roberto Osuna’s horrendous performance. Osuna pitched to five batters and gave up three doubles and a walk.
Saturday—NHL—Toronto Maple Leafs @ Carolina Hurricanes—CBC—4 p.m. PT—Like the Bruins and Flyers, the Toronto Maple Leafs are battling for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are currently one point back of the Islanders. It has been a good week for the Maple Leafs as they have beaten the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on Tuesday and the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Thursday. Auston Matthews, who was drafted first overall by the Maple Leafs, leads Toronto with 31 goals and 55 points.
Saturday—NHL—Ottawa Senators @ Colorado Avalanche—CITY TV—4 p.m. PT—The red hot Ottawa Senators are unbeaten in the month of March as they have received great goaltending from Craig Anderson and Mike Condon. The Senators are not just thinking playoffs this year. They are only two points back of the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Sunday—World Baseball Classic—Dominican Republic vs. Colombia—Sportsnet–9:30 a.m. PT—One thing we have learned over the first week of the World Baseball Classic is how offensively explosive the Dominican Republicans are. Their lineup includes Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, Carlos Santana, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre. As Ryan Dempster found out on Thursday, there was nowhere for him to hide. The Dominican Republic are the defending champions of the World Baseball Classic and will be strong contenders to repeat in 2017.
Sunday—CIS Men’s Basketball Championship—Sportsnet 360—10 a.m. PT—The question heading into the 2017 Canadian national university men’s basketball championship in Halifax is will this be the year Carleton’s remarkable six year winning streak as national champions end? Last year they were not ranked number one, but got a lucky break when the first-ranked Ryerson Rams were upset 98-87 to the University of Calgary Dinos in the semi-finals. The Ravens then hammered the Dinos 101-79 in the finals. In 2017, Carleton beat the Dinos again 85-69 in the quarterfinals on Thursday and will face McGill in one of two semi-finals. Dalhousie faces Ryerson in the other semi-final.
Sunday—CIS Women’s Basketball Championship—Sportsnet 360—1 p.m. PT—The 2017 CIS Women’s Basketball Championship is taking place in the other end of the country in Victoria. In the semi-finals on Saturday, Laval is playing Queen’s and McGill is playing Carleton. The Ravens have won 12 national titles in men’s basketball, but zero in women’s basketball.
Sunday—NHL—Montreal Canadiens @ Edmonton Oilers—Sportsnet—4 p.m. PT—On Thursday we learned just how valuable Carey Price is to the Montreal Canadiens. Price was out with the flu and Al Montoya struggled mightily as he gave up five goals to the Calgary Flames and was clearly outplayed by Brian Elliott in a 5-0 Flames win. Connor McDavid continues to have an excellent year for the Oilers. He leads the NHL with 52 assists and 74 points.
Sunday—World Baseball Classic—Canada vs. United States—Sportsnet One—4 p.m. PT—Canadian baseball fans will be hoping for two things on Sunday in Miami. This game is meaningful because Canada would have needed to beat Columbia on Saturday for that to happen, and the hope that it is 2006 all over again. That year in Phoenix, Team Canada shocked the Americans 8-6 thanks to three and two thirds shutout innings by Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C., and a home run and a four run batted in performance by Adam Stern of London, Ontario.
Sunday—World Baseball Classic—Mexico vs. Venezuela—Sportsnet One—7 p.m. PT—At the start of the tournament, Mexico and Venezuela were the favourites to win Pool D. Things changed however when Italy upset Mexico 10-9 on Mexican soil Thursday, placing greater importance on this contest. Don’t forget the Mexicans finished last in their pool in the 2013 World Baseball Classic after being hammered 10-3 by Canada. It was also the second straight World Baseball Classic where Italy stunned Mexico as they won 6-5 in Scottsdale, Arizona four years ago.