Sports with Patrick Townes

On both sides of the border, the Saginaw Spirit and hockey operations continue to be busy following a cancelled season and during the COVID-19 stricken offseason.  The Spirit typically host a development camp and banquet to welcome all the new players that have been drafted by the team, however like many sporting events, the camp and banquet was cancelled.  Instead, General Manager Dave Drinkill and Head Coach Chris Lazary got in the car and set-out to deliver jerseys and hats to all the Ontario draft picks, which were selected in the Ontario Hockey League draft and the Under-18 Draft. 

 Drinkill highlighted that “we wanted to do something special for our draft picks since our development camp and banquet had to be cancelled this summer”.  Drinkill and Lazary travelled a total of 1,100 kilometers and 13 hours in order to visit all the draft picks and to meet their families, all across Ontario.  As noted, each player was presented with their first official Spirit jersey and hat. 

 One of those players selected by the Spirit in the Under-18 Draft was Ian Phillips who resides just outside the Township of Springwater in the Vasey area. In addition to playing minor hockey in the area, Phillips has competed in Georgian Bay Minor Softball and the Simcoe Rural League for the Vasey Countrymen (alongside his father Jason).  He was drafted after playing last season for the North Central Predators (Major Midget).  Phillips is signed to play this year in Junior B, for the Elmira Sugar Kings.  However, he has his sights set on making the Spirit for this upcoming season.  The Phillips’ household has a gym in the basement where Ian has been completing his daily workouts to get stronger for the upcoming seasons, accompanied by the physical workload on the farm.  He also has been able to get on the ice as of late. 

 His family was eagerly watching the live draft in their living room when the Commissioner announced the selection.  Following the initial excitement, a call from General Manager Drinkill followed to officially welcome Ian to the Saginaw Spirit family.  He was super excited to hear his named called and stated “I have put in a lot of hard work into my game, and it’s nice to see that all my time and effort has been recognized”. 

 Phillips explained that it is helpful to have a familiar and local face running the organization that he was drafted to.  He noted that you get a certain comfort level when you know people on a team or within an organization you are going to become a member of.  Drinkill has a reputation for drafting good hockey players and good people.  As noted in previous articles, the Spirit organization not only puts a high value on a player’s skills and hockey sense, but also on the type of person that player is.  Drafting respectful and reliable players goes a long way towards building a successful team that contributes so much to the local community.  When asked about joining the Spirit organization, Phillips responded “my thoughts on the Spirit organization is that they are a great organization and they have an exceptional reputation of developing their players”. 

 Given the location of Saginaw south of the border, the upcoming schedule and hockey camps are not scheduled, and there is some uncertainty when this will occur.  However, the Elmira Sugar Kings are scheduled to ramp up their season and will host their pre-season camp on September 8.  Similar to the Spirit, the Sugar Kings are known to have a good reputation in terms of Junior B teams and Phillips is excited to report to camp. 

 Like many young hockey players, there are many people who contribute to the success of a hockey career.  For Phillips, he would like to thank his family, past coaches and his teammates.  Best of luck Ian and we all wish you success this season! 

 If there was not enough uncertainty surrounding baseball, there is now even more uncertainty surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays.  The original plan to live and play at the Rogers Centre was not well received by the Jays players and, in the end, was not supported by the Federal Government.  The Jays are no longer permitted to play in Toronto and are searching for a new home for their “home” games.  Plans to play in Buffalo were scrapped due to the lighting not being up to major league standards, and plans to play in Florida are being balked at due to increased COVID-19 cases.  The latest rumour has the Jays looking to play in Pittsburgh.  The optimism for many teams and fans seem to be continually fading.  As the season approaches, there are more and more questions arising from the ability to use ball barks, player safety measures, and living arrangements. 

 For those waiting for baseball on television and the radio, here is your broadcast lineup for this season:

  • Television “From the Booth” – Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez
  • Blue Jays Central – Jamie Campbell and Joe Siddall
  • Remote Reporting – Hazel Mae, Arash Madani, Pat Tabler and newcomer Justin Morneau
  • Radio – Ben Wagner and Mike Wilner