Oct 312017

The play of Canucks rookie Brock Boeser inspired this year’s pumpkin carving. Since it’s October and Boeser is having a great start to his rookie season, #Brocktober only seems natural!

I began with a photo of Brock Boeser. Using Photoshop, I modified the photo to black and white, then increased the contrast on the photo and repeated that process until only a few shades remain: black, white and some easily discernible areas of grey. From there, I roughly shaded the areas of darkness on the pumpkin.

Here I began carving the pumpkin. Remember that when carving, the thinnest areas will appear lightest, and the thickest areas will appear darkest. For the areas that will be the darkest, only a thin layer of the hull is shaven off. For the areas that are lighter, I carved deeper.

The carving process continues deeper. Each time I carved specific areas I would do a quick lighting test. A LED light inside the pumpkin is helpful. For the hair, I did not shave off any of the hull; instead, I carved lines that followed the sweet flow of Brock’s hair. More lines means more light could come through.

Here things are looking great. The only parts of the face that I did not carve the hull of the pumpkin are the hair, and the pupils of the eyes, which should be black. The only areas that are carved right through are the whites of the eyes. Everything else is a varying depth of carve that will determine the amount of light coming through.

The finished pumpkin as featured on Bardown and Sportsnet! No effects on the photograph, just a longer shutter opening to capture more light.

 Posted by at 7:55 am
Jul 202017

The 2017 White Rock 11U AAA Tier 1 All-Stars won the Boulanger Memorial tournament championship, capping a great weekend of baseball on the Canada Day long weekend.

In the round robin games, White Rock showed that they have a hard hitting lineup, and the rally starts from anywhere in the order. In Game 1 against Richmond, Jack Clayton hammered a 2-run shot, and Ben McKinnon launched 2 homers for 5 RBI. In Game 2 against Chilliwack, Sam Manship and Austin Hexter each had home runs. In Game 3 against Victoria, Austin Hexter hit his second home run of the tournament.

In the semi-final game, 3 White Rock pitchers (Vasya Seymour, Matty Ng, Garin Wickstrom) combined on a 3-hit shutout in a 10-0 win over Ladner. White Rock jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first, which featured a 2-run homer from Max Ross. White Rock then extended the lead to 8-0 in the second inning on the strength of a 2-run homer by Tyson Craven.

White Rock prevailed 4-2 over Cloverdale in a tight final game, which featured some remarkable team defensive play, and timely hitting. Ben McKinnon pitched 4 solid innings as White Rock came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie the game twice. In the bottom of the 4th inning, Tyson Craven doubled to drive in a run, and Garin Wickstrom followed that up with an RBI single to give White Rock a 4-2 lead. Vasya Seymour took the mound in the top of the 5th, striking out 1 and walking 3 batters to load the bases. Just when it looked like Cloverdale would rally, White Rock brought the infield in, and turned a gem of a double play going 6-2-3 (McKinnon, Ng, Burden) to put out the fire. Vasya finished the 6th inning by striking out the side to earn the save, and MVP honours.

So far, this team has gone 14-0 in combined tournament and league play. Good luck to all the other White Rock teams in July – here’s to a successful run for these boys of summer.

 Posted by at 11:15 pm
Feb 022017

Bo Horvat started this season as the 3rd line centre behind Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter. Despite ranking 5th in TOI/GP for forwards this season, and with very little time on the power play, Horvat is leading the team this season in goals and points. He has been a professional through everything this season – good or bad. Horvat  represented the Canucks at the NHL All-Star Game, and he did not look out of place, showing off his speed against Patrik Laine, and scoring 2 goals in the 3-on-3 tournament.

Nikita Tryamkin started this season in the press box. He refused a demotion to Utica, instead choosing to stay in Vancouver. Due to all the injuries on the blue line, Tryamkin finally drew into the lineup on November 3. He hasn’t relinquished his spot in the lineup since, ranking 4th on the team in plus/minus, and leads the team in penalty minutes. At 6’7″ and 265 lbs, Tryamkin’s size got him to the NHL, but he has shown surprising mobility for a big defenceman.

Everyone loves an underdog, and Richmond’s Troy Stecher fits the bill perfectly. Undrafted and undersized for a defenseman, Stecher had a great pre-season, but was sent down to Utica to start the year. Since he got the call to return to the Canucks, he has excited the fanbase with his play. He can rush the puck with his speed and leads all Canucks defensemen in shots on goal and points.

In 2014-15, Luca Sbisa was everyone’s favourite scapegoat. In 2015-16, injuries kept him out of the lineup for half of the season. Finally this year, Sbisa is getting a chance to consistently show why the Canucks signed him to an extension through 2017-18. He looks far more comfortable on defense, making solid contact to gain possession of the puck and make a good first pass out of the zone. He has stayed healthy, and leads the team in plus/minus and hits. Solid.

Markus Granlund came to Vancouver via a trade with Calgary for Hunter Shinkaruk. There were a lot of armchair GM’s out there that called for Jim Benning’s head, but at this point in time, the Canucks are the clear winner of that deal. On Brandon Sutter’s left wing, Granlund has provided the Canucks with some much needed secondary scoring, playing in every game and potting 12 goals so far. Shinkaruk on the other hand has spent most of his season in the AHL. He has played 7 games for the Flames and has 1 assist.

 Posted by at 7:19 am
Jan 082017

In 2009, I received The Gingerbread Architect as a gift. It’s a great book, and it comes with recipes and ingredients for 12 different gingerbread masterpieces. Since then I’ve made a number of gingerbread houses, including 2011’s Urban Brownstone, and the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in 2012.

stewart-farmhouseThis year, for the second time, I decided to make my own designs for a house. My inspiration came from a real heritage building, right here in Surrey.

The Farmhouse at Stewart Farm was built in 1894 by John and Annie Stewart. The house has that Victorian style and features a veranda and bay windows at the front and side of the house. It is a picturesque site, and one of the most photographed landmarks in Surrey because of it’s romantic old world charm.

Thank you to everyone who follows along every year. While there are some late nights in December, it’s always fun to create something that people enjoy!

 Posted by at 7:10 am
Oct 112016


As the success of the Canucks comes and goes, so do the fans. For the casual fan that’s still on board, you may not recognize the team, and for good reason. Initially billed as a retooling, this is a full rebuild. Remember the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup final? Only 6 of those Canucks are still around: Alexandre Burrows, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Chris Tanev, and Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

This will be the second year in a row that there is no goaltending controversy. Miller is the starting goalie and Markstrom is a backup that is more than capable. What’s more is that the plan for the future is clear: Markstrom may be the starter next year but the future is Thatcher Demko.

On defence, Edler and Tanev now make up the Canucks shutdown top pairing. Both can move the puck, and both are solid in their own end. The Canucks added size and toughness on defence by acquiring big defenceman Erik Gudbranson from Florida for Jared McCann which solidifies the second pairing behind the shutdown top pair of Edler and Tanev. Gudbranson is a former 3rd overall pick from the 2010 draft, and he’s a big, right shot, stay-at-home type. His style should make a good fit with the freewheeling left shot of Ben Hutton. Luca Sbisa should be a lock as the fifth defenceman, but the sixth man spot is anyone’s guess. The Canucks know what they have with Alex Biega, but also love the raw potential of Nikita Tryamkin, who is 6’7″ and 228 pounds.

The Sedins are destined to retire as Canucks. Hansen and Burrows are the other forwards that remain from the 2011 run to the final. They are both versatile, both can still skate, both can play up and down the lineup, and in any situation.

The Canucks lost Radim Vrbata during free agency, but the twins received scoring help in the form of Loui Eriksson. The hope is that with a healthy Brandon Sutter the Sedins will get some second line scoring support, leaving Bo Horvat to continue his development on the third line, along with linemates Sven Baertchi and Jake Virtanen. The 4th line would feature Mikael Granlund and Derek Dorsett. Emerson Etem has not had a great training camp, and after a standout MVP season in Swedish Hockey League, Anton Rodin could also make the roster.

 Posted by at 6:22 am
Oct 292015


A coworker asked me today if this will be a good year for the Canucks. I didn’t have a simple answer for him.


Predicting this year’s Canucks is akin to predicting the behavior of children. As a parent, sometimes you’re shocked at your kid’s actions. Sometimes, you swell with pride. And other times you are moved to tears. But most of the time you’re just hanging on for dear life as it is a hundred mile-an-hour whirlwind of all the emotions.

With the infusion of youth on the Canucks roster, we’re going to bear witness to some horrible mistakes, and some brilliant displays of hockey. There will be nights where you will be soul searching, questioning your fan status, and there will be nights that make you glad you didn’t jump off the bandwagon.

There have been a number of rookies that have come and gone in the Canucks short history. There have been only a few Canucks campaigns that have had memorable rookie seasons, and even fewer that featured more than one or two rookies at a time. This season’s version of the team features sniper Jared McCann, speedy defenceman Ben Hutton, and local talent Jake Virtanen, all of whom are entering their first NHL season. Add sophomore Bo Horvat. Young prospect Sven Baertchi. Add recent call-up Brendan Gaunce. Even Luca Sbisa was born in 1990 (yes, younger than Chris Tanev).

Player      Position    Birth Date  Age      
Jake Virtanen RW August 17, 1996 19
Jared McCann C May 31, 1996 19
Bo Horvat C April 5, 1995 20
Brendan Gaunce C March 25, 1994 21
Ben Hutton D April 20, 1993 22
Sven Baertschi LW October 5, 1992 23
Luca Sbisa D January 30, 1990 25

All of a sudden that tired old Canucks team is full of young players and a couple actual teenagers, complete with erratic behavior that will give the most die-hard fan a few more grey hairs.

If you can be patient, sometimes that youthful exuberance will surprise you and make you glad you were there to see it. First seasons. First goals. First home ice wins.

First cup? There’s a first time for everything.

 Posted by at 6:29 am
Jul 292015

The 2015 White Rock U9 Tadpole All-Stars won the Andrews Invitational championship, going a perfect 15-0 in tournament play this summer. For these kids, this is the first season where they pitch to batters, and hit from other pitchers.

Andrews Invitational Tournament Recap

Game 1 featured great hitting throughout the lineup and some solid defense. Vasya Seymour got things started with a triple in the 1st inning, scoring lead off hitter Matthew Ng, while speedster Max Ross busted out of a slump going 2-for-2. The play of the game was a highlight reel sno-cone catch by Ben Friedel in right field, who then threw out a runner at 2nd for a double play, earning him Game MVP honours. In games 2 and 3, White Rock kept the bats going and ground out a couple sloppy wins, taking both games 22-11 and earning a spot in the semi-final.

In the semi-final game, White Rock allowed 3 runs in the top of the 1st inning, but roared back to score 4 in the bottom, and kept the bats going on their way to a 15-4 win. Ben McKinnon went 2 for 3, with 3 RBI in the game. Sam Persaud had one heck of a 5th inning, tracking a long fly into foul ground at left field in the top half, then picking up 2 RBI with a clutch base hit that ended the game in the bottom half, earning his team a spot in the tournament final.

White Rock prevailed 3-2 over Ladner in a tight final game, which featured the return of great team pitching, and some remarkable team defensive play. Briggham Kokotailo set the tone for the pitchers, striking out the Ladner side in the top of the 1st. Vasya Seymour went 2-for-2, scoring once, and also pitched a scoreless inning. Ben McKinnon struck out one, and walked the bases loaded. Just when it looked like Ladner would get on the board, Ben Pulfer snagged a hard line drive at 2B, then flipped the ball to 1st for a smart double-play to end the threat. Pulfer also pitched a scoreless inning to earn himself Game MVP honours. Zak Burden and Sam Persaud each pitched a solid inning, allowing 1 run each.

The Boys of Summer – I never will forget those nights / I wonder if it was a dream

Personally, the last 5 weeks have been a blur. Many times I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be at work the next morning or at the ball park. The team played a total of 26 games, and practiced on most of the other nights. Some personal highlights of the season for me:

  • The dedication of all of the families to the team. One of our practices was scheduled for the Monday after a tournament; the coaches decided to call it “optional”. Every single player showed up. It turned out to be a 3 hour long batting practice session, with many of the dads shagging fly balls and grounders, trying to show the kids “how it’s done”.
  • The willingness of siblings to help. All of the players have siblings, but 3 in particular – Evan Ng, Liz Kokotailo, and Madelyn McKinnon went above and beyond. I half expected to hear Evan wailing about being boredddddd, but instead he took on the role of team scorekeeper and statistician. He might be halfway to a degree in sabermetrics. After Coach Randy was on the injured reserve, Liz and Madelyn helped to keep the practices and pregame warmups going with their live arms.
  • There is crying in baseball. And it usually occurs when kids don’t get on base. The hilarious part of it is that all the kids were really good at getting on base. In those moments when the tears flowed, the kids were so good to each other, picking their teammates up when they were feeling down, and helping each other get back on the field and play their best.

It has been one heck of a season for all of us. As I write this, there is a hole in my heart that is roughly the size of a baseball. I’ve received emails and texts from the other coaches already, talking about being bored, and of course, watching baseball. Because after coaching baseball for 30 straight days, you take a break from that by watching more ball.

Thanks to everyone involved for all the wonderful memories. Here’s to many more hazy summers filled with baseball dreams.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm
Jul 152015

Last weekend, the White Rock U9 Tadpole All-Stars played in the Rupert Reed Invitational Tournament in Ridge Meadows. The boys went undefeated, posting a 5-0 record on their way to the tournament championship.


White Rock U9 All-Stars victory lap with the championship trophy

At this age group, pitchers are only allowed to pitch one inning per game. A deep pitching rotation and solid bullpen are the hallmarks of this team, as 6 White Rock pitchers combined to pitch 2 no-hitters in a row. In the last game of the tournament, the boys defeated the Ladner Red Sox 9-5 in an exciting final. Early in the game, the top of the order delivered 4 runs in the top of the 1st inning for White Rock. In the bottom of the 1st, Zak Burden made a solid defensive play at 2nd to preserve the lead.

Later in the top of the 4th inning while nursing a 5-4 lead, White Rock broke the game wide open on a clutch 2 RBI double by Austin Hexter, who drove in what turned out to be the game winning runs.

Many of these boys are still 8 years old, but are displaying some great baseball smarts. Throughout the tournament, the boys displayed a combination of patience and power at the plate, and showed flashes of smart and aggressive base running.

So far this summer season, the boys have gone 10-0 in tournament play. Their last tournament of the summer season will from July 26 to 29, in Cloverdale.

Ben Friedel swings at a pitch in the top of the 1st

Ben Friedel swings at a pitch in the top of the 1st

 Posted by at 6:15 am
Jul 062015


This weekend the White Rock Tadpole U9 All-Stars went undefeated on their way to the championship at the Diane Cook Tournament in Newton. These boys pitched for the first time in a game this week, and did very well for themselves, playing some great baseball.

Some of the highlights included some excellent shut-down pitching from Ben McKinnon throughout the tournament, stellar defensive plays from Vasya Seymour, and consistent hitting from Matthew Ng.


The tournament champions with their medals!

The final game against the Cloverdale White Spurs was a back and forth affair, with numerous lead changes in the first 4 innings. The highlight of the final game was a 2 run double to left center from Briggham Kokotailo in the bottom of the 4th, who earned Game MVP honours in the final with those clutch RBIs. White Rock shut down Cloverdale the rest of the way to earn the championship.

With offensive and defensive contributions from every single player in the lineup, it really was a great team effort. The boys played great baseball not just for their age, but any age. Moreover, they are picking each other up, and being excellent teammates. Lots more great baseball is in store for these boys of summer.

The team’s next tournament will be in Ridge Meadows, and they will finish the season with a final tournament in Cloverdale.

 Posted by at 5:45 am
Apr 262015


Much has been said about the Canucks bandwagon, and the legions of fans that have broken ankles jumping off and on. Let’s not forget the debacle that was last season. Remember that prior to this season, the Canucks main objective was to make it back to the playoffs. Many Canucks fans jumped off the bandwagon throughout last year. Many of us that stayed on the wagon felt that the playoffs were unlikely.

In that regard, the Canucks season was a success. They put up 101 points this season finishing 2nd in the Pacific Division, and while expectations were raised, they were not realistic.

I’ll leave the heavy duty analysis to the hockey experts that have played the game and analyzed the game at a high level.

I am merely a fan.

My love affair with this team goes back for decades. What I’ve always loved about this team through the 80s and 90s was that they always worked hard.

Linden set the standard for hard work with one shift, and I think of that shift as a mission statement for this club:

With respect to the love affair, the Canucks are like that grade school crush. That girl (or boy) that was so cute in September when you first laid eyes on her. Every day you saw her in class, and your feelings grew. You sat next to her, talked to her, and as the school year went on, your feelings grew stronger. Then, all of a sudden late in the spring, class dismissed, and your heart was broken.

As summer came and went, you went about to other things – summer camps, baseball, and days at the beach.

Then, there she was next September, and the love affair begins again.

 Posted by at 5:17 am