The Hamilton Spectator
Rock’s seven straight great, but big games still ahead
Plus, Ticat in training, Nexxice, Kilty B’s and Mac on the mat
When there’s a three-team race for two important playoff positions, every game is critical, but the Rock really need to take advantage of another anticipated 9,000-plus audience — it’s Country Music night, with a live performances by Tim Hicks — against Rochester on Saturday (7 p.m.) at FirstOntario Centre. The Rock lost to the Knighthawks earlier in the year, giving Rochester a current leg up in the tiebreaking formula for final positioning. Buffalo, Rochester and the Rock top the NLL East at 8-2, but only two of them will get the chance to host a sudden-death first-round playoff game with the other forced onto the road. So despite eight games to go, this one is huge. So is a two-game set with traditional rival Buffalo over the season’s final three weeks — April 1 in Hamilton, April 22 in Buffalo — to conclude the regular season.
The Rock are 4-1 at home and on the road, and the increasingly raucous crowds at FirstOntario Centre are a definite advantage. The Rock, who also visit Philadelphia on Monday night, have won seven straight, and have scored more goals and allowed fewer goals than any team in the NLL, but are still ranked third in their conference. It’s going to be an interesting stretch run.
Two Nexxice teams off to worlds
It’s been a banner 2023 so far for Nexxice, the renowned BurlingtonHamilton synchronized skating team.
After both the junior and senior teams won their respective national championships in January, Nexxice seniors captured the Mozart Cup in Austria in January and finished third at the Spring Cup in Milan, Italy, in mid-February. They were named to represent Canada, along with Les Suprêmes (who won in Milan), at the 2023 world championships from March 31 to April 1 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Nexxice juniors won the Hevelius Cup in Poland and were third at the Spring Cup and advance to the world junior championships on March 10 and 11 in France.
Nexxice also won gold in the open and intermediate categories at the 2023 Skate Canada Cup last week in Calgary, while the novice team surged from sixth place after the short program to capture a silver medal.
Kiltys open playoffs
The Hamilton Kilty B’s, who fell one point short of St. Catharines for the best overall record in the 25team GOJHL, begin what could be a long, gruelling playoff run Thursday and Saturday against Welland, both at 7 p.m. at the Dave Andreychuk Arena.
The Jr. Canadians host the Kiltys in Welland on Sunday and Tuesday. Caledonia, which finished fourth, plays fifth-place Thorold in another Golden Horseshoe Conference quarterfinal.
Hamilton’s Dawson McKinney finished eighth in overall league scoring with 31 goals and 64 points in 41 games. The Kiltys have also signed Hamilton native Aaron Chiarot. The younger brother of NHLer Ben Chiarot had been playing junior-A with Cobourg.
Mac mat maestros
McMaster Marauders Amy Bellavia (women’s 59 kilogram) and Karanveer Mahil (men’s 125 kilogram) were crowned national champions over the weekend at the U Sports Wrestling Championships in Edmonton.
McMaster’s men’s team finished second in the team championship to Brock, while the Marauder women were barely edged out by runner-up Brock in the women’s division, to finish third behind winner Alberta.
Silver medals in the individual events went to McMaster wrestlers Serena Di Benedetto, who was also named the Canadian female rookie
wrestler of the year, and men’s team members Omogbai Asekohme and Howard Moffatt. McMaster national bronze medallists were Gianluca Fortino and Luken Lawson of the men’s team, and Vanessa Fonrose and Simi Jayeoba of the women’s squad.
Ticat looking beyond playing career
Hamilton Tiger-Cats sophomore defensive end Anthony Federico is off to the CFL’s regional combine this week, but not as a player. He’s one of six CFLers — along with Shaq Evans, ex-Ticat Larry Dean, Kamar Jorden, Patrick Neufeld and Jeshrun Antwi — who were selected for the second season of the Player Mentorship Program, a oneweek joint venture between the league and the CFLPA. They’ll be mentored in how the CFL functions by a variety of people in and around the league.
Prior to going to Queen’s to study economics, Federico studied sports management at Niagara College while he was playing for the Hamilton Hurricanes. At last year’s national combine for draft-eligible players, they were told about the new mentorship program and Federico knew immediately it was perfect for him.
“During the season I mentioned to (Ticats personnel executives) Drew Allemang and Spencer Zimmerman that I would like to be a CFL general manager some day,” Federico told The Spectator. “This program is exactly what I want. I can learn about different roles in the CFL, the policies and regulations, how to develop and implement strategies. Overall, I just want to grow my knowledge of the business side of CFL football.”
Hamilton boxing program honoured
Big shoutout to 1996 Olympic boxer Nickolos Farrell, whose accessible grassroots program teaches Hamilton youth self-confidence and empowerment through development of basic boxing skills. He is one of seven former Olympians whose works has been recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee with a $10,000 OLY Canadian Legacy Grant for not-for-profit community initiatives. Farrell was awarded a John C. Holland Community Service Award in 2020. Also of note(s) When the great Percy Williams travelled to the 1928 Olympics, where he won the sprint double in the 100-metre and 200-metre races, he was training with the Hamilton Olympic Club. Those gold medals were stolen from the BC Hall of Fame in 1980 and have finally been replaced, 43 years later. The family re-donated them to the hall … Former Stoney Creek Sabres Nikki McDonald (U of T) and Tiana Faccio (Guelph) are facing each other in the OUA women’s semifinals ... Thanks to local sports history guru Cec CarterSmith for pointing out that when the McMaster Marauders visit Carleton for the OUA women’s basketball semifinal Wednesday, Ravens’ coach Dani Sinclair will be up against her former coach Theresa Burns. Sinclair played three seasons (1998 to 2001) at Mac and was 2001 McMaster athlete of the year before transferring to Victoria, where she captained a national championship run. Burns has won national titles as a captain (U of T, 1986) and as coach (Mac, 2019).