Last Week around the Leagues
by Fran Stuchbury
April 6, 2021 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL)
This past week the 14-team North American Rugby League formed, suspended NFL wide receiver Martavis Bryant signed with the Indoor Football League's Massachusetts Pirates, Knoxville Ice Bears goaltender Peter Di Salvo set the Southern Professional Hockey League record for career wins, and retired two-time NFL Super Bowl championship wide receiver Chris Hogan signed with the Premier Lacrosse League's Cannons club. Highlights from this week are from the North American Rugby League, Major League Rugby, American Hockey League, ECHL, North American Hockey League, Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Major League Soccer, National Women's Soccer League, NBA G League, and Premier Lacrosse League.
North American Rugby League
Our new North American professional rugby league competition launches today called the North American Rugby League. The 'NARL' will be a 14-team competition that will play its first round of games on the weekend of June 19 in Brooklyn and June 20 in Las Vegas. Teams from across the States will compete in two conferences, the East Coast Conference comprising of the Atlanta Rhinos, Boston Thirteens, Brooklyn Kings, Cleveland Rugby League, New York Rugby League and Washington Cavalry. The West Coast Conference is made up of the Austin Armadillos, Las Vegas Blackjacks, Phoenix Venom, Portland Loggers, San Diego Swell and San Francisco Rush. Due to Covid-19 regulations, a 'Canada Cup' will be played between the Toronto Wolfpack and Ottawa Aces before both teams enter the East Coast Conference in 2022.
A word from Robert Curtis, NARL's Chief Operating Officer
Major League Rugby
Top Five Tries - MLR Week 2
Due to Covid-19, player safety, and travel concerns, the 2021 WTT season will be staged in one location again this year. WTT will be making another announcement in the coming weeks regarding the location and dates of the 2021 season.
American Hockey League
Jordy Bellerive went coast to coast to win it in OT for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
ECHL Plays of the Week
ECHL Saves of the Week
Southern Professional Hockey League
Knoxville Ice Bears goaltender Peter Di Salvo set the SPHL record for career wins, defeating Huntsville 3-0. In recording his first shutout of the season, Di Salvo now has 104 career victories, breaking the previous mark of 103 originally set by Chad Collins (Fayetteville/Knoxville/Pensacola, 2004-09).
North American Hockey League
NAHL Plays of the Week
NAHL Stars of the Week
Western Hockey League
Regina Pats center Connor Beard lacrosse attempt goal.
United States Hockey League
The United States Hockey League (USHL) announced the format for the 2020-21 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs. This season's playoffs will feature four teams from each the Eastern and Western Conference beginning on Friday, April 30. This season, both the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals will be a best-of-three series before the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Champions are scheduled to meet in a best-of-five Clark Cup Final.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
QMJHL Plays of the Week
QMJLHL Saves of the Week
Canadian Football League
The Winnipeg Football Club released its 2020 annual report, announcing an overall loss of $7.0 million. "The unprecedented and rapid spread of COVID-19 and the related restrictions that were implemented in Canada throughout 2020 had a devastating impact on live sporting events across the country, which ultimately led to the cancellation of the 2020 CFL football season," said President & CEO Wade Miller. "This had a detrimental impact on the Club, not only with the cancellation of the 2020 season, but the shutdown of all events at IG Field."
Indoor Football League
The Massachusetts Pirates have signed former NFL wide receiver Martavis Bryant for the 2021 season. Bryant played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2014-2017. Bryant recorded 147 receptions, 2,423 receiving yards and 21 total touchdowns in 40 career games with the Steelers (including the playoffs). Bryant spoke with masspiratesfootball.com and is thrilled to play with the Pirates this season. "I'm excited to get into pads again and grateful to the Mass. Pirates for giving me this opportunity, and allowing me to come in and represent their organization in preparation of the CFL season. I look forward to contributing anyway I can. Big things are in store for the Pirates this year. I know a few of the players on the roster and am looking forward to stepping on the field with them."
Triple-A East League
In conjunction with the Miami Marlins, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp have announced their on-field staff for the 2021 Triple-A season. Boasting 13 years of minor league managing experience and seven seasons on a major league coaching staff, Al Pedrique will skipper the Jumbo Shrimp. Pedrique enters his first year with the Marlins' organization after spending the previous three years on the Oakland A's major league staff as first base coach (2018) and third base coach (2019-20).
The Houston Astros announced the coaching staff for the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters, with Mickey Storey named as the team's manager. Storey, 35, enters his third year as the manager of the Astros Triple-A affiliate and first with the Skeeters. He becomes the Skeeters first-ever manager as a Triple-A affiliate and the third manager in franchise history, joining Gary Gaetti and Pete Incaviglia. The former Major Leaguer helped lead Triple-A Round Rock to the most wins in Triple-A and the best record in the Pacific Coast League in 2019 (84-56), winners of the American Southern Division.
The Atlanta Braves announced the Gwinnett Stripers' coaching staff for the 2021 season. Matt Tuiasosopo has been named the seventh manager in Gwinnett history. Entering his second year as a manager in the Braves organization overall, the 34-year-old Tuiasosopo will be both the youngest manager in Gwinnett history and the first former Gwinnett player to manage the team.
Double-A Central League
Former MLB infielder Gregorio Petit will serve as manager of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, the Houston Astros. Petit, 36, was set to make his professional coaching debut in 2020 prior to the cancellation of the Minor League season. He is the eighth manager in the 17-year history of the Hooks.
Double-A South League
The Miami Marlins announced their Double-A minor league coaching staff assignments for the 2021 season. Kevin Randel will lead Pensacola as the team's manager after spending the 2019 season at the helm for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Randel began his managerial career in the Marlins organization in 2015, where he managed the Class-A Greensboro Grasshoppers for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Randel went on to lead the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads for two years before making the move to Jacksonville in 2019.
The Atlanta Braves announced the organization's minor league coaching staffs for the 2021 season. Former major league catcher Wyatt Toregas (tuh-ray-gus) will lead the 2021 Mississippi Braves and become the club's eighth field manager. After spending the previous five minor-league seasons managing in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, the upcoming campaign will be his first with the Braves, including most recently with High-A Bradenton in 2019.
High-A East League
The Asheville Tourists 2021 coaching staff was announced by the Houston Astros Player Development Department. Leading the way, in his first season as Manager of the Tourists and third as the High-A Manager for the Astros, is Nate Shaver. Nate Shaver joined the Astros organization in 2018 as a Developmental Coach for the Carolina League champion Buies Creek Astros. In 2019 he became the High-A Manager for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. Nate guided the Woodpeckers to the Carolina League playoffs by securing a second half southern division title.
High-A West League
The Vancouver Canadians Baseball Club will start the 2021 season in Hillsboro, Oregon due to the Canadian/US Border closure caused by Covid 19 restrictions. "We have had to make a very tough decision that impacts so many people, however, as much as we would love to be starting at the Nat, we have had to find a temporary home and we are very fortunate to find a location that will welcome us like Hillsboro", stated C's President Andy Dunn. The Canadians will share Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro with the Hillsboro Hops Class A (Arizona Diamondbacks).
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, announced their coaching staff for the 2021 season. Ray Hernandez will replace Nate Shaver as the club's manager. Shaver is taking over the same role he held in Fayetteville for the Class-A Advanced Asheville Tourists. Hernandez was the manager in 2019 for the Quad Cities River Bandits, the former Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The River Bandits are now an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
The Augusta GreenJackets, Single-A Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, in conjunction with their parent club, are excited to announce the Inaugural Field Staff for the 2021 Championship Season at SRP Park. Michael Saunders will take the helm as Manager in his first season with the GreenJackets. Michael Saunders brings nine years of experience in Major League Baseball, having spent time with the Seattle Mariners (2009-2014), Toronto Blue Jays (2015-2016), and Philadelphia Phillies (2017).
Major League Soccer
Watch the Top 5 Goal Line Clearances from the 2020 MLS season.
Top 5 Midfield Goals of All-Time in MLS
National Women's Soccer League
Kansas City Field of Legends Stadium Virtual Walkthrough
Major Arena Soccer League
The Florida Tropics and San Diego Sockers kicked off their 2021 Ron Newman Cup Semi-Final series at Cable Dahmer Arena and 4 quarters was not long enough to decide it. It was in the extra period the Sockers got the game winner from Brian Farber for their 3rd straight overtime playoff win.
NBA G League
This group was special. Once we started clicking, there was no stopping." Hear from NBA G League Champion Tahjere McCall about his season with the Lakeland Magic.
Women's National Basketball Association
The WNBA Draft 2021 presented by State Farm will be held on Thursday, April 15. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the draft picks live on ESPN with exclusive coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET, and top prospects will take part virtually. The draft will also be available on the ESPN App. The Dallas Wings own the top pick in the draft, as well as the No. 2, 5 and 7 picks in the first round. If the Wings keep and use the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, they will become the first WNBA team ever to make the top two picks in a single draft. Dallas also could become the first team to make four first-round selections in a single draft.
The BIG3 announced its fourth season will tip off on July 10, 2021 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The league's 2021 season will have ten weeks of action with players competing in Las Vegas and one of the country's premier HBCUs, Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans. Each game will be broadcast live, with the majority airing exclusively nationwide on CBS Television Network, with all CBS broadcasts also streaming live on Paramount+.
Premier Lacrosse League
Former New England Patriots wide receiver and Super Bowl Champion, Chris Hogan has signed with the Cannons Lacrosse Club of the PLL.
Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from April 6, 2021
- Knoxville's Mathieu Roy Named Warrior Hockey/SPHL Player of the Week - Knoxville Ice Bears
- Havoc Add May 2nd Game - Huntsville Havoc
- Knoxville's Mathieu Roy Named Warrior Hockey/SPHL Player of the Week - SPHL
- Huntsville Takes Two Straight from Knoxville - Huntsville Havoc
- Last Week around the Leagues - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.