A Busy Weekend in Sports Ahead

Is there any better weekend for sports than U.S. Memorial Day weekend? Sure, we had our long weekend last week, but nothing can compare to the sports events in America (and around the world) this weekend. Here are some quick thoughts/reminders on what’s on.

  • Bigger than anything else, for me at least, is the Memorial Cup. The local Saint John Sea Dogs are playing hosts Shawinigan in the semifinal tonight (7pm ET, Sportsnet). The winner gets a birth in the final Sunday night against London (also 7pm ET, Sportsnet). The Sea Dogs are the defending champions, while the Knights are of the most decorated franchises in CHL history. I’ve really enjoyed Sportsnet’s rejuvenated coverage of junior hockey this season. The weekly Friday Night Hockey broadcast has a 90s-esque Hockey Night in Canada feel. It is THE place to see junior hockey on a weekly basis, much like Hockey Night was for the NHL before TSN and Sportsnet began showing games every night. I’ll have more on this next week.
  • While I prefer the Memorial Cup, the highest ratings earner this weekend will surely be game 6 (and possibly 7) of the Eastern Conference Final between New Jersey and the Rangers. Game 6 goes tonight (8pm ET, CBC). I haven’t seen ratings for game 5 yet, but game 4 hit 1.42 million viewers Monday night. Season finales (House, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol this week) and the lack of Canadian teams have resulted in low Conference Finals ratings for CBC. Game 5 of the East Final last year (Boston vs. Tampa Bay) averaged 2.29 million viewers on CBC.
  • FOX’s Saturday Baseball heads to primetime for the second straight week this Saturday. Sportsnet One will show Tampa Bay @ Boston (commentators: Dick Stockton and Brian Anderson). This game is also on many of the Eastern Fox stations available in Canada, including Boston, Buffalo and Rochester. Those with FOX stations from Seattle and Spokane will get Anaheim @ Seattle (commentators: Victor Rojas and Eric Byrnes). I like Fox showing primetime Saturday baseball in May and June. It coincides nicely with the end of Saturday night NHL hockey.
  • Going head-to-head with FOX baseball on Saturday night is ABC’s coverage of game 7 of an NBA playoff series between the Celtics and 76ers (8pm, ABC). The NBA’s Conference Finals begin on Sunday as the Thunder visit the Spurs (8:30pm, TSN).
  • The Roland Garros Tournament starts Sunday on TSN2. The men’s final will air on CTV Two to protect the start of the Canadian Grand Prix on TSN. TSN will use a mix of ESPN, international feed and NBC coverage.
  • A big weekend in racing. The crown jewel of Formula 1, the Monaco Grand Prix starts off a long Sunday for race fans (7:55am ET, TSN); then its the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will feature tributes to Dan Wheldon (11am, ABC); as usual, NASCAR’s longest race, The Coca-Cola 600 caps off the evening from Charlotte (5:30pm ET, FOX).
  • The Indian Premier League championship match is Sunday morning (10am, Sportsnet) as Kolkata faces Chennai. While the league’s world television ratings have fallen in 2012, coverage in Canada has increased vastly. Just last season the final was only available on PPV. I am interested to see if the league, which goes against all traditions of cricket, is sustainable long-term. Especially now that it has competition from other countries, such as Australia’s Big Bash League. There is also talk of a potential American league, which could start as early as next year. Many in traditional cricket markets think Twenty20 is perfect for American television, due to its similarities to baseball.
  • Golf even has a couple of big events this weekend. In Europe there is the British PGA Championship, the second largest event on the continent (after the Open Championship). England’s James Morrison is the surprise leader through two rounds (-12). Luke Donald, Alvaro Quiros and Juston Rose aren’t far behind though. Golf Channel has the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. This side of the Atlantic there is the Senior PGA Championship. I’d argue that outside of the majors and the very top PGA Tour events, the Senior majors still have the most attraction to the average sports fan.

2012 Memorial Cup: Starts Friday on Sportsnet

The NHL isn’t the only league with playoff hockey this may. The Canadian Hockey League postseason wraps up in the next week with the Memorial Cup. Sportsnet will show complete coverage of every game. Here are more details.

With the Canadian Hockey League Championship up for grabs, Sportsnet heads to Shawinigan, Que. for comprehensive coverage of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. Sportsnet is there every step of the way to the Championship Final with multiplatform coverage across television, radio, digital, mobile and print, kicking off on Friday, May 18 at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific as the host team Shawinigan Cataractes battle the Edmonton Oil Kings.

From the first puck drop to the hoisting of the Memorial Cup, HOCKEY CENTRAL host Daren Millard and analysts Nick Kypreos and John Garrett will be live on location at the Centre Bionest in Shawinigan to provide pre-game, intermission and post-game analysis. Play-by-play commentator RJ Broadhead and analyst Sam Cosentino will call all of the games, alongside host Rob Faulds.

Sportsnet primes fans for the highly-anticipated CHL tournament with the MasterCard Memorial Cup Preview Show on Thursday, May 14 at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE. The one-hour special, hosted by Millard, Kypreos and Garrett, will feature predictions from the panel, introduction to the stars playing the MasterCard Memorial Cup and the top plays of the year from Friday Night Hockey. Broadhead and Cosentino will also appear with analysis and Faulds will look back at the history of the tournament

Continue after the break for the complete schedule and the rest of the PR.

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Friday Night Hockey Returns to Saint John

Sportsnet’s Friday Night Hockey will return to Saint John for the third time in as many months this week. The Sea Dogs will host Rimouski in game 1 of the Presidents Cup final on national TV beginning at 8pm Atlantic. This is the penultimate Friday Night Hockey telecast of the year. The final Friday night broadcast of the year, on May 11, will feature game 5 in the OHL final between Niagara and London.

Here is the press release with details of Friday’s broadcast.

Sportsnet’s Friday Night Hockey kicks off the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup Championship Series when the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs host the Rimouski Oceanic. Coverage begins on Friday, May 4 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific.

HOCKEY CENTRAL host Daren Millard and analyst Nick Kypreos set the stage for Friday’s series opener from the Sportsnet studio, while play-by-play announcer RJ Broadhead, analyst Sam Cosentino and host Rob Faulds will be at the Harbour Station arena in Saint John to call the game.

Friday Night Hockeyon Sportsnet provides CHL playoff game coverage Friday nights throughout the post-season, culminating with wall-to-wall coverage of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup beginning Friday, May 18 at 7 p.m. ET through to the Championship Final on Sunday, May 27 at 7 p.m. ET. (Full MasterCard Memorial Cup broadcast schedule to be released at a later date).

The Sea Dogs are on Sportsnet Again

Defending Memorial Cup champions Saint John Sea Dogs will appear on Sportsnet for the second time this season. The Sea Dogs playoff opener against Cape Breton Screaming Eagles from Harbour Station is on Sportsnet Ontario and Pacific Friday night at 8pm AT. The game is also on Sportsnet Sens, for those in the East region. Here is Sportsnet’s press release with more information.

Sportsnet’s Friday Night Hockey kicks off the 2012 Canadian Hockey League playoffs – and the 65 day-long road to the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, QC – with the QMHJL’s No.1-ranked Saint John Sea Dogs hosting the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Friday, March 23 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet Ontario and Sportsnet Pacific. For viewers in the east, the game will also be available on the Sportsnet ONE companion channel, Sportsnet Sens.

HOCKEY CENTRAL host Jeff Marek, alongside analyst and former NHL GM and player Brian Lawton, set the stage for Friday’s playoff game from the Sportsnet studio, including a closer look at the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champion Sea Dogs who finished the 2011-12 campaign with the best record in the CHL. Play-by-play announcer RJ Broadhead, analyst Sam Cosentino and host Rob Faulds will be front and centre at the Harbour Station arena in Saint John to bring viewers all of the live action from the QMJHL’s playoff opener.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise to hockey fans in New Brunswick. The same broadcast crew is covering the CIS University Cup in Fredericton on the weekend. Logistics likely played a bigger role in the game choice than anything else.

5 More CHL Regular Season Games on Sportsnet

Sportsnet announced their CHL Friday Night Hockey schedule for the remainder of the regular season today. 5 games will air on Sportsnet on Friday nights in February and March. Coverage will continue through the playoffs as well. There are 2 OHL games, 2 QMJHL games and 1 WHL game on the schedule. The highlights include Patrick Roy and the Quebec Remparts visiting the defending Memorial Cup champion Sea Dogs in Saint John and two appearances for the top ranked London Knights, including a game against top prospect Nail Yakupov and the Sarnia Sting. Here is Sportsnet’s press release with more information.

Sportsnet today announced the remaining regular season broadcast schedule for Canadian Hockey League games on Friday Night Hockey, featuring five hard-hitting match-ups as teams gear up for the 2012 CHL Playoffs and 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. (Please see full broadcast schedule below).

Sportsnet’s Friday Night Hockey resumes on Friday, Feb. 17 with two of the QMJHL’s top teams as the Quebec Remparts visit the Saint John Sea Dogs at 7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario and Sportsnet Pacific. The defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champion Sea Dogs, which include 2011 third overall NHL Entry Draft pick and Canadian World Junior bronze medalist Jonathan Huberdeau, will host 2012 top prospect and leading QMJHL rookie scorer Mikhail Grigorenko who earned silver with Russia at the World Junior Championship.

Sportsnet’s Friday Night Hockey broadcasts will be handled by play-by-play announcer RJ Broadhead, analyst Sam Cosentino and host Rob Faulds. Each broadcast features a pre-game studio show with analysis, scores, interviews and features. CHL coverage also extends to Sportsnet Connected and HOCKEY CENTRAL with all the latest news and highlights. On sportsnet.ca, columnist Patrick King will take a deeper look each week at the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Cosentino will also appear on the website with a weekly blog and discuss CHL news on Skype chats with fans, while Sportsnet magazine will continue to feature regular coverage of key CHL issues, topics and players. On Radio, Sportsnet 590 The FAN and Sportsnet 960 The FAN will provide regular updates on game results and stats.

Sportsnet’s CHL coverage will continue through the 2012 Playoffs leading up to and including the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Quebec. The 2012 playoff broadcast schedule will be announced once matchups are confirmed. Sportsnet has been the exclusive media partner of the CHL since 1998.

And here is the broadcast schedule:

Friday 2/17, 7:00pm – Quebec @ Saint John (East, Ontario, Pacific, One)
Friday 2/24, 8:00pm – Kootney @ Saskatoon (One, West)
Friday 3/2, 7:00pm – Oshawa @ London (East, Ontario, Pacific)
Friday 3/9, 7:00pm – Rimouski @ Shawinigan (East, Ontario, Pacific)