Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Bitten's parents were each Olympic badminton players (Plymouth Whalers photo)Moving up to a higher echelon of hockey hardly fazes William Bitten, thanks in part to the experience that's been passed down to the Plymouth Whalers top pick.

    The centre's parents, Mike Bitten and Doris Piché, each represented in Canada at the Summer Olympics in badminton long before raising a family with two ambitious hockey players, William and his 14-year-old brother Samuel. That's given William Bitten, who set a league scoring record last winter while playing for the Ottawa 67's minor midgets, the comfort of knowing he has support to fall back on when the strain of elite hockey seems too stressful.

    "They know how it is and they know what the pressure is like at the highest level," says Bitten, who Plymouth chose No. 7 overall in the OHL priority selection draft. "They always give my brother and I us good feedback, good tips on what to do in games. If I'm down or if there's a problem, they always have an idea of what to do. If they weren't there for my brother and I, I don't know where we would be.

    "They always say train really hard and the rest will come later."

    Read More »from Plymouth Whalers’ William Bitten leans on former Olympian parents: Making The Jump
  • Berhanemeskel has scored at least 25 points in each of Ottawa's wins this week over NCAA competition (Fred Chartrand, The Canadian Press)

    It's hardly a shock any more when a CIS basketball squad beats a NCAA foe in an August exhibition game. The Ottawa Gee-Gees and Johnny Berhanemeskel once again illustrated why that's the new normal while pulling off a 79-76 comeback win over University of Illnois at Chicago Flames for their third win over a Division I team in four days.

    Ottawa didn't have its best shooting night on Wednesday, unlike in its head-turning win three days earlier against the fabled Indiana Hoosiers. Yet the intimidation factor that was a reality for CIS teams not so long ago against NCAA teams wasn't there. The reigning CIS silver medallist trailed an athletic, tough mid-major by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but chipped away with a string of stops and scores. In the final minute, Berhanemeskel drew an offensive foul on Illinois-Chicago guard D'Juan Miller, then sank a falling-out-of-bounds, tiebreaking three-pointer off a kick-out pass from point guard Mike L'Africain.

    Read More »from Ottawa Gee-Gees, Johnny Berhanemeskel show why top CIS hoops teams beating NCAA foes in August is the new normal
  • Draisaitl had a 100-point season for Prince Albert during his draft year (Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

    Evidently, P.A. is not part of Plan B for Leon Draisaitl. The Edmonton Oilers, according to a report from Global TV Edmonton's Dean Millard, have not so indirectly tossed another log on the fire that is the debate over what is best for a 19-year-old with sky-high potential, as indications are that the NHL's No. 3 overall choice will not be back with the Prince Albert Raiders under any circumstances.

    Normally, for a draft pick from the Canadian Hockey League, it's either make the big club or return to junior until his age-20 season. It is hardly unheard of, though, for an import who came over when he was 17 to play two seasons in the CHL and then sign to play for pay in a men's league in Europe. Nail Yakupov did the same in 2012-13 after being drafted by the Oilers (not without complications), and it appears Draisaitl, who had 105 points in just 64 games, could do the same if the NHL learning curve proves too steep.

    Read More »from For Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers eye Europe, not WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, as fallback — report
  • Toronto Raptors mulling later game times due to construction chaos — report

    The Raptors won their second Atlantic Division title in 2013-14 (Nathan Denette, The Canadian Press)

    #WeTheNorth and #WeNotThereYet became synonymous last season for Toronto Raptors fan.

    While the Raptors, for a change, were giving fans a reason to want to be in their seat before the tip-off at Air Canada Centre, that was easier said than done. Toronto's endless traffic congestion, exacerbated by construction and maintenance on the much-maligned Gardiner Expressway, caused significant delays for fans. Patches of empty seats were clearly visible on television.

    From the looks of it, the Raptors are planning to account for this by shifting start times for weeknight home games to 7:30 p.m.. Canada's NBA team has tipped off at 7 since it was an expansion team playing at Skydome.

    Read More »from Toronto Raptors mulling later game times due to construction chaos — report
  • Ethan Williams’ family say late Moose Jaw prospect had 8 concussions

    Williams was Moose Jaw's fifth-round pick in 2012 (

    Two weeks ago, young Winnipeg hockey player Ethan Williams ended his life, and that feeling of hopelessness that usually accompanies learning of the loss of so much human potential descended.

    Now the Moose Jaw Warriors prospect's mourning family members, in the hope no other family will have to experience what they are going through, are warning other hockey parents about the consequences of brain injuries. The Williamses aren't seeking redress and aren't laying blame, but are simply stating that their son's depression over the final months of his life was linked to the eight "diagnosed concussions" that Ethan sustained while playing competitive hockey.

    Read More »from Ethan Williams’ family say late Moose Jaw prospect had 8 concussions
  • Kamenev no-show at Remparts camp: the coast-to-coast

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    Leon Draisaitl signed with the Edmonton Oilers, all but indicating there is no chance he'll be back in Prince Albert. (, Edmonton Sun)

    No Curtis Lazar and no Sam Reinhart for Team Canada at the world junior? (The Hockey Writers)

    It's Edmonton Oilers prospect Greg Chase talking about his career, unabashed, uncondensed and uncensored. Well, maybe a little censored. (The Pipeline Show)

    Lethbridge has agreed to terms with 6-foot-4 defenceman Ethan King, its second-rounder in the bantam draft. (Lethbridge Herald)


    Are the Erie Otters about to be out two Swedish forwards? That's some harsh barley, potentially.

    Ottawa Senators prospect Nick Paul is set to be a "leader" in North Bay. (Bay Today)

    Read More »from Kamenev no-show at Remparts camp: the coast-to-coast
  • Saigeon is eager to join the OHL franchise that P.K. Subban once graced (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Brandon Saigeon is armed with good advice ahead of his first go-round with the Belleville Bulls.

    The Bulls selected a potential offensive cornerstone in April when they used their No. 4 overall pick on Saigeon, an agile 6-foot-1, 185-pound centre from Grimsby, Ont.. As a native of the Niagara Escarpment with big ambitions, Saigeon has been fortunate enough to have had pros such as Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Ellis.

    "Ryan Ellis is one guy who's really helped me," says Saigeon, who shone in AAA midget with the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs. "He just took me under his wing for this summer training. The same with Jeremy Williams. There's a few others but those are the two main guys who have really helped me the last little while.

    "I try not to bug him [Ellis] too much but I'm always trying to get information from him, asking him about different situations, what the transition was like going from minor hockey to the OHL and from there to the NHL," Saigeon adds. "What's changed and what it takes to adapt to new situations.

    Read More »from Belleville Bulls’ Brandon Saigeon ready to expand his game: Making The Jump
  • Ang is at the head of ballyhooed Petes priority selection draft class (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Jonathan Ang might be uniquely suited to be a big cog with the smaller-market Peterborough Petes.

    The OHL's oldest continually operating franchise's first-round pick distinguished himself as a savvy, skilled centre on a Markham Waxers midget team that struggled for much of last season. Ang took to relishing the challenge of upending expectations, which is something he'll bring with him as he joins a Petes team that might be on the cusp of Eastern Conference contention.

    "I haven't always been on the strongest teams, but we competed and worked hard," says Ang, who was the No. 9 overall pick in April.

    "It's going to be different," Ang adds of his jump to major junior. "The players are going to be a lot stronger, a lot bigger. It's going to be faster paced. I just have to get into the mindset that it's not going to be the same as last year and the competition's going to be a lot better."

    Read More »from Peterborough Petes’ Jonathan Ang aims to back up skill with strength: Making The Jump
  • Laval Rouge et Or finally suspend quarterback, one year after charges in bar fight

    Skinner steered Laval to its third Vanier Cup in four seasons (Andrew Vaughan, The Canadian Press)

    Better late than never / Mieux vaut tard que jamais. Last fall, there was controversy following the Laval Rouge et Or's latest Vanier Cup victory when it emerged there had been some "unusual delays and complications" with charges against quarterback Alex Skinner and two other players in connection with a bar fight being heard in court.

    Now, nearly a year after the incident in question and eight months after the end of the 2013 season, the university football juggernaut has finally acted. Skinner will miss the first two Quebec conference regular-season games. Both are against the Rouge et Or's fellow Francophone programs, the Montreal Carabins and Sherbrooke Vert et Or, so they're not necessarily as a foregone a conclusion as the typical Laval game.

    Skinner, an Ottawa native, took the controls of Laval's offence midway through last season.

    Read More »from Laval Rouge et Or finally suspend quarterback, one year after charges in bar fight
  • Rasmus Andersson commits to Colts: the coast-to-coast

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    So why do the Red Deer Rebels deserve to host the 2016 Memorial Cup. By the way, the tournament has not held in Alberta in more than 40 years. (The Pipeline Show)

    Will a stint with Canada's under-18 team curb Moose Jaw goalie Zach Sawchenko of his "over-aggressive" tendencies? (Moose Jaw Times-Herald)

    Former Spokane goalie Eric Williams is carrying on with the UBC Thunderbirds. (Langley Advance)

    Larry Fisher performs introductions for all 10 new head coaches. (The Hockey Writers)


    Chatham, Ont., has a decent location for an OHL-sized arena, but that is worth as much as, well, talk. (CKSN)

    Eighteen-year-old Swedish defenceman Rasmus Andersson has committed to the Barrie Colts, who might have to replace a 1996-born defender this season. (OHL)

    London Knights GM Mark Hunter vows to be on the bench less during an anticipated retooling season: "“I have to focus on doing my job. If you are coaching, you have to be on the ice every day. It’s too much if you have to do your other job." (London Free Press)

    Twins traded in tandem, you don't see that every day: 17-year-old forwards Jack Webb and Mitchell Webb are headed from Peterborough to Saginaw for two priority selection picks. (OHL)

    Read More »from Rasmus Andersson commits to Colts: the coast-to-coast


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