Austin Schultz leads Oilers in split-squad game (The Associated Press)

September 21 2014 11:02PM

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- Austin Schultz had a goal and an assist in the Edmonton Oilers' 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in a split-squad exhibition game Sunday night.

@CGY - RECAP: Calgary 1, Oilers 0

September 21 2014 10:16PM

CALGARY, AB - Goaltender Viktor Fasth kept the Oilers in the game for the first two periods but a goal by T.J. Brodie lifted the Flames to a 1-0 pre-season win in Calgary.

The Oilers managed just one shot in the opening 20 minutes, while the Fl...

Rob Bironas, former Titans star kicker, killed in car crash

September 21 2014 10:55AM


NASHVILLE, TENN.—Rob Bironas, who worked his way through odd jobs and the Arena Football League before becoming one of the NFL’s most accurate kickers, died in a car crash. He was 36.

The former Tennessee Titans player died Saturday night when he lost control on a curve in his 2009 GMC Yukon Denali and crashed after 11 p.m. less than a mile from home, Metro Nashville Police said.

In a statement on the department website, police said his SUV was speeding when it went off the road and hit a line of trees before coming to a stop upside down in a culvert.

Bironas was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Police said there was no evidence of alcohol or drugs at the scene.

The Titans released Bironas in March after nine seasons. The Tennessean reported that Bironas worked out for the Detroit Lions and for Tampa Bay during the off-season.

Bironas married Rachel Bradshaw, daughter of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, in June. Police spokesman Don Aaron said a police chaplain was with her after the crash. Bradshaw did not appear on the “Fox NFL Sunday” pre-game show and was going to Nashville to be with his daughter.

A post on his verified Twitter account, @RobBironas, stated Sunday morning: “It’s w/ heavy hearts that we confirm the passing RB # 2 We appreciate your respect for the family’s privacy and your prayers at this time.”

The Titans, who play at Cincinnati, extended condolences Sunday.

“Rob made a significant impact as a player in his nine years with the team and more importantly touched many lives in the Nashville community off the field,” the team said in a statement.

Reaction poured out on Twitter, with former teammates, friends and fans remembering the kicker.

“Shocked and saddened this morning at the passing of Rob Bironas,” country singer Carrie Underwood wrote. “Such a nice guy. Sending prayers and love to his family ... RB # 2”

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty wrote on his Twitter account he shares with brother Devin of the New England Patriots: “Rest in peace to my former teammate Rob Bironas.”

Bironas was the fourth most-accurate kicker in NFL history, connecting on 85.7 per cent of his kicks (239 of 279). Only David Akers made more field goals (247) between 2005 and 2013 than Bironas. For kickers with 100 or more field goals since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, Bironas ranked third making 75.2 per cent of his kicks from 40 yards or longer (94 of 125).

He finished as the Titans’ second all-time leading scorer with 1,032 points, and he set a franchise record scoring triple digits in seven straight seasons. He also set an NFL record in 2011 in hitting a field goal from at least 40 yards in 10 consecutive games.

Bironas made a franchise-record 11 game-winning field goals during his career, including a 60-yarder against the Indianapolis Colts in 2006 that remains the longest field goal in Oilers or Titans history. Bironas kicked an NFL single-game record eight field goals in a 2007 victory over the Houston Texans, including a 29-yard game-winner as time expired. That helped him make his only Pro Bowl, the same year he was an Associated Press All-Pro.

He went to Auburn and transferred to Georgia Southern, where he won a Division I-AA national title. Bironas went to work for his father’s company in Louisville, Kentucky, and was cut by Green Bay in 2002. He played in the Arena Football League and even the AF2 while spending time in training camps with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh working as a part-time security guard and other jobs while trying to stick with an NFL team.

He won a roster spot with the Titans in 2005.

“To play in the NFL,” he said in 2006, “was the ultimate goal.”

Oilers take early look at possible Draisaitl line mates

September 20 2014 05:31PM

It is just an audition at this juncture, but planting playmaking centre Leon Draisaitl between the fleet-footed Benoit Pouliot and the quick-shooting David Perron will merit a few more looks as the Edmonton Oilers camp continues. The trio skated together Friday for a team scrimmage and will play again Sunday when the Oilers take on the Calgary Flames in a split squad game at Rexall Place.

Argos reverse the curse in B.C., beat Lions 40-23

September 20 2014 05:49AM


VANCOUVER—Toronto Argonauts have news for their fans and the entire league.

They are not dead.

With quarterback Ricky Ray and returning slotback Chad Owens leading the charge, the Argos reversed the curse and beat the B.C. Lions 40-23 at B.C. Place Friday night in front of 27,038 fans.

The Argos had not won here since 2002, an 0-11 slide that made them heavy underdogs against the league’s best defence.

The Lions fell to 7-5.

However, after four straight losses, the Argos finally discovered how to win, and, with only six games left in the CFL’s regular season, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I’m really proud of the team,” head coach Scott Milanovich said after the game. “I’m proud of how they responded to a difficult loss last week in Calgary.”

The dressing room was alive with shouting and laughter, which is what their first victory since August will do for team morale.

Their record of 4-8 feels a whole lot better than being 3-9, which is what they faced if they didn’t produce a full 60 minutes of football.

And they knew it.

Owens spoke to his teammates at halftime, ramping up the energy level, so they wouldn’t become complacent in the second half after pulling ahead 21-9 with a 17-point second-quarter explosion.

In the second half, Owens put a scare into the coaching staff when he went down with an apparent injury. However, it turned out he was just cramping badly and returned to the game.

Owens was so enthused by the work of the offensive line that when he was awarded the offensive game ball by teammates, he turned the prize over to the offensive line.

“It starts up front,” an elated Owens said above the noise in the dressing room. “They’re in the trenches, man, and those guys don’t get enough credit. They protected against a great defence. They deserved it.”

Ray was sacked three times, but for the most part the offensive line protected him well and Ray was able to scramble out of the pocket and find targets when he was rushed.

Ray said the way the Argos finished the game will give them a lot of confidence heading into the final six games.

“This was a big win,” he said. “They’re a good football team and we haven’t had much success here.”

The Argos started much like they did last week against Calgary, building a big halftime lead. However, unlike last week, they didn’t crumble.

The Argos withstood a minor comeback against quarterback Kevin Glenn and the Lions, who scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the score closer than Toronto wanted it.

Again, Ray was the lightning rod for the offensive outburst as he completed 24 of 33 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also passed legendary Ron Lancaster to move into fifth place on the all-time career passing yards list.

Owens, who was making his first start in two games after sustaining a hyperextended knee injury last month, looked as dangerous as ever, catching a team-leading eight passes for 117 yards and one touchdown.

LaVon Brazill also caught a Ray pass for a touchdown and running backs Curtis Steele and Steve Slaton ran for two more majors as Toronto actually outran the Lions 137 yards to 93 as they contained Andrew Harris in the backfield. Harris was held to 40 yards.

Swayze Waters had another sensational game, kicking three field goals of 53, 45 and 50. The 53-yarder was a career best for him. His booming punts again forced the opposition to begin drives deep in their own territory.

The Argos finally stayed away from two of the areas of the game that have crippled them in the past. They didn’t take stupid penalties and they didn’t turn the ball over.

The Lions shot themselves in the foot as kicker Paul McCallum missed a 41-yard and 35-yard field goal.

Glenn was just as almost as good as Ray in this game.

The 35-year-old veteran completed 21 of 35 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns to Bryan Burnham and Emmanuel Arceneaux, while backup quarterback John Beck scored another major when he dived over the goal line late in the game.

The Lions had been on a roll, having won two in a row and they had given up only a total of 14 points in those two games.

This was Toronto’s strongest offensive performance since they beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 48-15 in the second game of the season.

The win did not come without some costs as defensive lineman Cleyon Laing suffered a shoulder injury and defensive back Jamie Robinson left the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a leg injury.

The Argos now have a week off to rest and get prepared for four straight games at home, starting Oct. 4 against the Edmonton Eskimos at the Rogers Centre.

MacKinnon: Fayne brings defensive responsibility to Oilers

September 19 2014 08:25PM

Mark Fayne is meant to be part of the solution on defence for the Edmonton Oilers, and he certainly brings an enticing resume to the job description. The 27-year-old defender spent four years at Providence College before joining the defence-first New Jersey Devils in 2010-11 and was tutored by the likes of Larry Robinson, Jacques Lemaire and Scott Stevens, Hall of Famers every one.

Westgarth always has to fight for a place on team

September 19 2014 07:22PM

Kevin Westgarth has dropped the mitts 111 times, so he rolls with the punches, but it’s interesting that he’s at the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp on a tryout after he was nailed by fellow beat cop Luke Gazdic at Rexall Place on March 1. When someone suggested that he was caught with a lucky punch, Westgarth laughed.

Petry shoulder injury considered a ‘tweak’

September 19 2014 07:21PM

Defenceman Jeff Petry left the first scrimmage of the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp with a shoulder injury that wasn’t framed as serious after the proceedings wrapped up on Friday. “He tweaked his shoulder. We don’t think it’s anything huge,” said head coach Dallas Eakins.

Nugent-Hopkins ready to take charge on ice

September 19 2014 06:44PM

There’s a sureness that wasn’t there last fall when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stepped onto the ice for the Edmonton Oilers. But after an off-season uninterrupted by shoulder rehabilitation, he’s stronger physically, as well as mentally, which is why the Oilers’ first-line centre is certain he can elevate his game.

WHL season gets underway: the coast-to-coast (Buzzing The Net)

September 19 2014 05:17AM

Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ... WHL Nick Patterson ponders whether post- Mike Johnston Portland will still be best in the U.S. Division . ( Everett Herald , The Columbian ) Our own Scott Sepich has previews for the U.S. and B.C. divisions . The Vancouver Giants are starting the season with three goalies, notes Steve Ewen . One, and possibly two, will play in the opener vs. Victoria. ( Vancouver Province , Vancouver Sun ) Daniel Nugent-Bowman highlights the intractable problem of starting the season while stars and stalwarts are at NHL camps: "It simply doesn't make sense. ( Saskatoon StarPhoenix ) There's your Calgary Hitmen season storyline: from first-round ouster to the WHL penthouse? ( Calgary Sun ) How will a stint with the Dallas Stars (thank you, Derek Laxdal ) propel Edmonton's Mads Eller into the new season? ( Edmonton Sun ) Everett will have to score a lot more than 3.0 goals per game. ( Everett Herald ) Torrin White is one of the few Moose Jaw Warriors who was around for the club's last playoff run in 2012: "I think we should be able to attain it ... We're a skilled team and we're moving the puck quickly." ( Moose Jaw Times-Herald ) Sophomores Matteo Gennaro and Brendan Guhle will find themselves in much bigger roles in Prince Albert if a certain pair of 19-year-olds find spots elsewhere with Western Canada NHL franchises. ( Prince Albert Daily Herald )

WHL season gets underway: the coast-to-coast (Buzzing The Net)

September 19 2014 05:17AM

Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ... WHL Nick Patterson ponders whether post- Mike Johnston Portland will still be best in the U.S. Division . ( Everett Herald , The Columbian ) Our own Scott Sepich has previews for the U.S. and B.C. divisions . The Vancouver Giants are starting the season with three goalies, notes Steve Ewen . One, and possibly two, will play in the opener vs. Victoria. ( Vancouver Province , Vancouver Sun ) Daniel Nugent-Bowman highlights the intractable problem of starting the season while stars and stalwarts are at NHL camps: "It simply doesn't make sense. ( Saskatoon StarPhoenix ) There's your Calgary Hitmen season storyline: from first-round ouster to the WHL penthouse? ( Calgary Sun ) How will a stint with the Dallas Stars (thank you, Derek Laxdal ) propel Edmonton's Mads Eller into the new season? ( Edmonton Sun ) Everett will have to score a lot more than 3.0 goals per game. ( Everett Herald ) Torrin White is one of the few Moose Jaw Warriors who was around for the club's last playoff run in 2012: "I think we should be able to attain it ... We're a skilled team and we're moving the puck quickly." ( Moose Jaw Times-Herald ) Sophomores Matteo Gennaro and Brendan Guhle will find themselves in much bigger roles in Prince Albert if a certain pair of 19-year-olds find spots elsewhere with Western Canada NHL franchises. ( Prince Albert Daily Herald )

Questions surround Oilers as new season begins

September 18 2014 07:52PM

Back when the Edmonton Oilers last made a playoff appearance, Leon Draisaitl was 10 years old, no one had a Twitter account, let alone an iPhone, and Daryl Katz had yet to make his first formal pitch to buy the club. Now here it is, eight years later and the Oilers are set to move into another training camp with the kind niggling questions that could signal an even longer playoff drought.

Yakupov enters Oilers camp stronger, more comfortable

September 18 2014 06:55PM


Yakupov enters Oilers camp stronger

MacKinnon: Head coach Dallas Eakins opens up — as usual — as Edmonton Oilers report to camp

September 18 2014 06:06PM

A tick or two less than six minutes into his season-opening media briefing, Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins responded without hesitation or apparent irony to a question about what he had learned about himself last season. “Probably to talk less,” Eakins said.

David Perron easing his way into Edmonton Oilers training camp with hip issue

September 18 2014 05:32PM

EDMONTON — David Perron, one of the bright lights in a dark, miserable Edmonton Oilers season in 2013-14, is pencilled in on an attacking line with Leon Draisaitl and Benoit Pouliot at Friday’s first practice — but the operative word is pencil. Perron, who scored 28 goals last season, had a labrum problem in his hip that knocked him out him from playing for Canada at the world championship last spring in Belarus.