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From Biggar to better things as Sask.-born Hawkins headed to majors

“I honestly don’t think I’ve had anyone that has deserved it more,” said UBC head coach Chris Pritchett, who was drafted by Chicago Cubs in 1988.

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Biggar, Saskatchewan-born Garrett Hawkins is headed for the big leagues.

The right-handed pitcher was selected by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round (280th overall) of the 2021 MLB draft earlier this week.
 
The 6-foot-5, 230-lb. Saskatchewan native has been a workhorse for the UBC Thunderbirds, zipping 95-mph fastballs to the strike zone with regularity. Hawkins was the first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics player drafted even though public health orders and COVID-19 border restrictions robbed Hawkins of more games than those in U.S. schools.

Hawkins was elated to hear his name announced.
 
“There was definitely a lot of excitement and joy, knowing that all of the hard work and dedication that I have put into this game has paid off. When I first saw that I was selected it felt very surreal and it still has not fully settled in that I will be a professional baseball player,” Hawkins said.

This spring the third-year kinesiology student joined the Trenton Thunder of the new MLB Draft League which runs from late May to mid-August to showcase baseball’s best draft-eligible prospects. He went 1-0 with a 2.62 ERA in six starts, walking two and striking out 32 in 24 innings.

In two seasons with the T-Birds,”G-Hawk” went 8-6 in 19 starts, with 115 strikeouts in 109 innings. Last year Hawkins went 3-3 for UBC, pitching 46 strikeouts and 6 walks as he earned a 3.66 ERA.

“I honestly don’t think I’ve had anyone that has deserved it more,” said UBC head coach Chris Pritchett, who was drafted by Chicago Cubs in 1988. 

“Garrett has a tremendous work ethic and has shown a steep improvement over a short time. Even though we haven’t had any games for some time he never got frustrated and with his determination, he continued to work not only on his strengths but more importantly, he attacked his weaknesses, focusing on his overall arsenal, his secondary pitches and it has paid off. We’re so proud of Garrett and what he’s accomplished.”

Hawkins is the 25th T-bird to be drafted to the majors since 1997. Five other T-birds Pritchett coached have also been drafted: Niall Windeler (Minnesota 2019), Mitch Robinson (New York Yankees, 2018), Curtis Taylor (Arizona, 2016), Alex Webb (Cincinnati, 2016), and Bruce Yari (Cincinnati, 2016).
 
“Garrett’s a great example of what is possible,” continued Pritchett. “A reminder for Canadian kids coming out of high school that you can stay here and put yourself in good positions to develop and make that jump to professional baseball while being a part of a great collegiate program and earning a great education.”

“I can’t thank my family enough for the sacrifices they have made to make a moment like this come true,” added Hawkins. “The T-Birds will forever be my second home. They believed in me and gave me every resource I needed in order to be successful on and off the field.”
 
“When you surround yourself with the right people and have a passion and drive to get better, great things can happen. Amazing things can happen when you put your mind towards a goal. I’m very grateful I chose UBC and I’m excited to see more guys like myself get this opportunity.”

Hawkins earned $75,000 by signing with the Padres. He is also an alumni of the Vauxhaul Jets, Team Saskatchewan, Swift Current ‘57s, Saskatoon Giants and the West Central Diamondbacks. 

Saskatchewan has had two other major-leaguers. North Battleford’s Andrew Albers pitched 2013-2017 for the Twins, Blue Jays, and Mariners, while Melville’s Terry Puhl played Outfield from 1977-1991 for the Astros, Mets, and Royals.

Hawkins‘ hometown of 2,161 people is famous for its “New York is big, but this is Biggar” sign. In 1992, local grain and cattle farmer Milo Hanson shot the all-time greatest whitetail deer, judged at 213 5/8-points.

Harding is a Western Standard correspondent based in Saskatchewan

News

NHL releases update on rescheduled games

In the Battle of Alberta, the Calgary Flames will see eight home games and two road games pushed back., while the Edmonton Oilers have five home games and four road games rescheduled.

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A comprehensive update to the 2021-2022 regular-season games was released on Wednesday by the NHL.

The Vancouver Canucks have had six home games and one away game rescheduled.

In the Battle of Alberta, the Calgary Flames will see eight home games and two road games pushed back, while the Edmonton Oilers have five home games and four road games rescheduled.

The Winnipeg Jets will see six home games and three away games rescheduled.

The revised schedule includes:

  • New dates for 98 games that had been postponed over the two-month period from Nov. 18, 2021 through Jan. 18, 2022.
  • Date changes to 23 other games to accommodate the new dates for postponed games.
  • 95 games scheduled for the 16-day window from Feb. 7-22, designated previously as a pause to accommodate NHL player participation in the Olympic Games. Games are scheduled on all 16 dates, highlighted by a 10-game slate on Thursday, Feb. 17.

“We are profoundly grateful to our fans for their support and understanding during a challenging time and to our clubs, the NHL Players’ Association and the players for their cooperation in a rescheduling of unprecedented logistical complexity,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

The complete 2021-22 regular season schedule can be viewed and accessed at www.nhl.com/flames.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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News

NHL postpones another 8 games due to attendance restrictions

The league said all games will be rescheduled for a later date when restrictions can be eased or lifted.

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The National Hockey League announced Friday it has axed another eight games due to COVID-related Canadian attendance restrictions.

The league said all games will be rescheduled for a later date when restrictions can be eased or lifted.

Affected games include:

Monday, January 3
Minnesota @ Ottawa

Wednesday, January 5
New York Islanders @ Vancouver

Saturday, January 8
New York Islanders @ Edmonton

Tuesday, January 11
New York Islanders @ Calgary

Wednesday, January 12
Minnesota @ Edmonton

Friday, January 14
Vegas @ Edmonton

Saturday, January 15
Vegas @ Calgary

Sunday, January 16
Edmonton @ Winnipeg

As well, due to the New York Islanders three other road game postponements, the Islanders-Seattle game on Tuesday, January 4 in Seattle has been postponed.

The league has yet to establish make-up dates for the postponed games.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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News

World junior hockey tournament cancelled because of COVID

Remainder of IIHF world junior cancelled! Four out of 250 players test positive and they call it off? that’s criminal,” tweeted longtime Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones.

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The world junior hockey championship being held in Alberta have been cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) made the announcement early Wednesday afternoon.

The United States team, the winner of the last championship, was forced to forfeit a game Tuesday against Switzerland after two players tested positive for COVID-19.

Russia and Czechia also had to forfeit after they had a player each test positive.

The IIHF announced officials would have to wear masks during games until further notice.

“Remainder of IIHF world junior cancelled! Four out of 250 players test positive and they call it off? that’s criminal,” tweeted longtime Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones.

The teams had been living in COVID-19 bubbles since they arrived in Alberta for the start of the tournament on Boxing Day.

Games were being played in Red Deer and Edmonton.

But Bob McKenzie on TSN said: “The players were in hotels that were open to the public, it’s as simple as that.”

“Following a recommendation by the tournament COVID-19 Medical Group and the IIHF Medical Committee, the IIHF Council has decided that, due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship will be cancelled to ensure the health and safety of all participants,” reads the IIHF website.

The decision comes following a positive case on a player on the Russian national team, which would have necessitated a forfeit of the Russia-Slovakia game scheduled for 29 December. The game is the third to be cancelled due to positive cases, following Switzerland-USA and Finland-Czechia, it said.

“In addition to ensuring the health and safety of participants, the Council has determined that with another forfeiture – the third forfeited game in two days – the sportive integrity of the event has been compromised, and the event must be cancelled,” said the website.

“Together with the teams, we came into this event with full confidence in the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the IIHF, the LOC, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif.

“The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread. This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement when positive cases were confirmed.”

“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work. Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”

Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and CEO Tom Renney shared the following statement:

“Hockey Canada has worked tirelessly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure it would be equipped to host world-class, international events in a safe and healthy environment. Despite our best efforts, and continually adapting and strengthening protocols, we have unfortunately fallen short of our goal of completing the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship and handing out medals on Jan. 5 due to the challenges of the current COVID-19 landscape.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have always made the health and safety of event participants and the community at large a priority, and given the news that we have encountered positive cases within the World Juniors environment, we understand and support the decision to cancel the remainder of the event. Although we know this is the right decision, we sympathize with all participants who have earned the opportunity to represent their countries on the world stage and that will not be able to realize that dream in its entirety.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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