Monthly Archives: May 2022

Stanley Cup: Great Matchups In Hockey’s Final Four


   Two down and two to go. And my crystal ball seems to be functioning quite well.

    It’s not 100 percent but at least I am batting .750. In round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs I went 6-for-8 as Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild prevented me from a perfect scorecard. And in the just recently completed second round, my only blemish of the four series was the Lightning again. They swept aside the Florida Panthers four straight.

  Having spent four and a half months in Tampa Bay this past winter I witnessed most of the Lightning’s home and away games on TV and I wasn’t impressed. They were not consistent and at times a total joke. Even their star players were out to lunch in some games.

   But in the playoffs the two-time Stanley Cup champions have turned things around. They are getting solid goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy. So does that mean for round three I am picking them to win? Check out below as I make my fearless predictions for round three — the Conference Finals.

Edmonton Oilers vs Colorado Avalanche

  This should be a high-scoring, free-wheeling series as both the Oilers and Avalanche both have high-powered offences. The Oilers led by Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane and Zach Hyman to name just a few. McDavid is virtually non-stoppable when he maneuvers with the puck combining his skills and size.

    On the other side of the fence the Avs finished first in their division with a talented lineup with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Artturi Lehkonen, Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen.

   Both teams are solid on the blueline with Cal Makar the leader for the Avs and Darnell Nurse for the Oilers.

  If there is a weak link it’s between the pipes for the Oilers with Mike Smith. I am not sold on this guy as he lets in a lot of softies. Granted, his stats are impressive somewhat but with an explosive team in front of him 75 percent of the play has been at the opposite end. That could change in this series with Colorado as they too are explosive. It should be a highly entertaining series.

   The Oilers are hoping to end a 29-year drought by winning the Cup for a Canadian-based team.

Prediction: Avalanche in seven games.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Rangers.

   This should be a dandy series. The Lightning have won 10 straight series which includes back-to-back Cup championships. They are also on a roll having won six straight games heading to New York.

   They are also well-rested with nine days off since disposing of the Florida Panthers in four straight. The rest has allowed Tampa to heal some of  those bruises and wounds they picked up in the first two rounds. However, there’s another side to the layoff. They could also be a little rusty heading into Wednesday’s opener in the Big Apple.

  New York on the other hand has played two tough seven-game series and have just one day off after sending the Carolina Hurricanes to the sidelines in game seven Monday night.

   The goaltending for both teams has been hot and that should continue. Lightning goalie’ Andrew Vasilevskiy, the MVP of the playoffs last year,  has allowed only four goals in his past five games. New York’s Igor Shesterkin has been impressive too, especially against Carolina.

   Both teams are noted for blocking shots which helps the goaltenders. I expect this series to be tight with specialty teams being a deciding factor,

   Both teams are loaded with talent. The Lightning have Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos while the Rangers have Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Both have solid defences with Victor Herman for Tampa and Adam Fox for New York. Both teams also have strong supporting cast members.

  One big question mark for Tampa is will Brayden Point be back in the lineup?  He was injured in game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs and missed the entire series with the Panthers. His absence leaves a big hole in the Lightning offence.

Prediction: New York in seven games as home ice is an advantage.

(Wayne Redshaw has covered sports in Niagara for over 50 years, 33 and a half at the Welland Tribune. He was publisher of the FORE! Golfers Only for 12 years and also wrote for many newspapers and magazines in Canada and the United States.)

Lasting Image: Ivy Riddell, She Loved Having Us Over

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

/Family photo

Ivy Riddell was always elegantly coiffed. I recall saying to her, “Ivy, you didn’t have to get your hair styled just because I was coming over for a visit.”  She said, kind of matter-of-factly, “I didn’t.” Talk about being quick on her feet! In my book, Ivy’s pride of appearance made her a lasting image.

She enjoyed having us for company a few times a year: Mary Jane Keenan, her long-time hair stylist, and me. Yes, she loved having us over. This started when Ivy was a resident of Wesley-Robbins Retirement Village on First Avenue a few years before the pandemic. She had a lovely apartment, one that was sun splashed especially on summer and fall afternoons, and she was very happy there.

Ivy, who died Tuesday, May 10, aged 94, was generous with libations, providing wine if we wanted it and snacks. Mary Jane often brought munchies as well. I brought myself. Most popular were Ivy’s red candy-coated peanuts which were waiting for us in crystal bowls, one apiece on tables adjacent to where we sat. We gobbled them up – Mary Jane and I –  shamelessly, by the dozen during those story swapping, memories sharing, Blue Jays bantering afternoons. Ivy was a great fan of the Jays. She could rhyme off names, batting averages and won-loss records of top pitchers. She’d followed the Jays for years.

After Wesley-Robbins, she moved to Seasons on First Avenue and the get-togethers continued, though not quite as frequent. At the time, Seasons was like a meeting place for retired city officials. Former mayor Allan Pietz lived there, and Ann Gono, the retired deputy clerk and Fred Turner, retired city treasurer. Then the pandemic came and our visits ended. I recall we reconvened there, once, before Ivy moved to Port Colborne and a room with a truly  majestic view, in Northland Pointe. 

She enjoyed looking out the large window on the busy marina below with its myriad small craft, and watching the lakers that seemed to glide effortlessly and silently out of view. I could see why: it was mesmerizing. Our last visit was late fall last year. There was some talk of a Christmas gathering, but for one reason or another it didn’t materialize. Now, that is regrettable. 

Never a shrinking violet, Ivy enjoyed political discourse. She could hold her own when it came to local and national issues largely because she was such a news junkie. Earlier in life she was a member of Welland city council and Niagara regional council. There were a few volunteer affiliations but the one she was most proud of was her involvement in South Niagara Rowing Club’s formative years. She loved attending the Captain’s Dinners that were held to celebrate the end of a rowing season and present awards to the athletes. 

Although Mary Jane and I thanked Ivy for putting out those red candy-coated peanuts they had to be acknowledged one last time, they’d become another lasting image. I bought a bag. I chomped on them, one after another, while writing this, enjoying the ‘crunch’ and savouring the taste but even more, much more, the memories of times we spent with our friend.

Ivy’s visitation and funeral is on Friday, June 3 at H.L. Cudney Funeral Home, Welland. For complete death notice and funeral information follow the link: Ivy Lilllian Riddell Obituary – Visitation & Funeral Information (

(Lasting Image is a recurring feature on the blog. Some others in the series:

Alirio Rodriguez, He Spent His Life Serving The Lord, May 25, 2021; Caesar Hajdu, Never One To Miss A Game, October 21, 2020; Fred Turner, Forever A First-Class Guy, March 29, 2020; Gerry Berkhout, He Shone His Light On Others, January 4, 2019; Frank Sernak, A Great Voice For Radio, December 8, 2018; Deacon Demers, Devoted to his Faith, August 3,  2018; Ivan Zecchini, His Countenance Glowed From Wide-Eyed Appreciation, July 18, 2018; Keith Hornibrook, Opening Doors to Addictions Recovery In Dignity, July 11, 2018; Augusto Macoritto, Gifted Lensman, August 21, 2018; Steve Krar, Neighbourhood Nostalgia Buff, Visionary Leader, July 11, 2018; Mother Alba Puglia, Tireless Trailblazer, June 18, 2018; Michael Santone, A Barber Of King Street, January 23, 2018; Marjorie Hannah, July23, 2015; Rosie Smith, June 26, 2014;  Bob Fralick, May 7, 2014; Frank Addario, February 24, 2014.)

Heritage Lives In Pictures: Swing Bridge Once Crossed The Two Former Locks In Port Colborne

 By Terry Hughes

In our second effort to present yesteryear and current day locations of interest, we go to Port Colborne and West Street  where a photo was recently taken looking east of the remnants of the old canal. The focus was on a metal ring that served as a bearing to support  the swing bridge that was used to cross the second and third canal lock at this point. Remember, West Street, also known as the Promenade, is directly behind. 

The second photo is from the early 1900’s before the present canal was built. East Street would be behind us before the present canal excavation demolished it. The photographer of the day is looking west with West Street in the background and the bridge filling the picture. Many of the buildings are still there housing many businesses like that fabulous candy shop!

The tunnel on the left was covered when the promenade and small boat dockage was built and was used to regulate the water levels in the older canals. The two structures over which the bridge was built were formerly locks. 

This wooden style of bridge was quite common over the third canal and was operated by placing a T-shaped key through the floor of the bridge that engaged gears turning the span. 

Buggies and early automobiles would have some difficulty passing each other while competing with pedestrian traffic.  

Next Heritage Lives In Pictures:  The Building With The Arches On Niagara Street. 

(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives In Pictures, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

Reunion Brings Back Alumni From Three Grad Classes

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

A Notre Dame College School reunion is being held in the waning days of the Irish spring, with one of three participating classes celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Two other classes are catching up on lost time because reunions were not held the two previous years due to the pandemic.

The classes celebrating are: 1970, 1971 and 1972. The get-together is on Saturday, June 4 at Casa Dante on Lincoln Street West.

Dan Marshall, organizer for 1972, said total number of grads for the three years is 403 and about 100 are expected at the reunion. Attendees will be able to meet for reminiscing and socializing indoors and outdoors, he said.

But reunions are getting more difficult to organize these days. Marshall and his wife, Mary, have been involved in every reunion since 1973, so he knows what he is talking about.

Social media has taken a toll, he suggested.

“You see everyone speaking to everyone on social media,” Marshall said.

 A consequence, for some people, is that there isn’t the same level of interest in attending reunions as there was in the past. 

He also said there have been “some concerns” about Covid.

But for Marshall, a gridiron star for the Irish when he was at ND, there’s nothing like sitting down with former classmates, some or many not seen in years, and chewing the fat.

“I like seeing people up close, I want to sit with them, I want the camaraderie. People have a lot of memories and I love hearing about them.”

Marshall said about 50 members from the Class of ’72 will be at the reunion.

“We were pretty tight, and still are,” he said.

One of the great memories from 1972 is the senior boys basketball team’s outstanding year.

The senior Irish (team photo above) were city, Zone 3 and SOSSA champs. They came close to winning the all-Ontario championship in London.

The team was ranked 15th in the province but defeated powerhouses Hamilton Cathedral, third-ranked Ottawa Lisgar and Burlington Nelson before losing in the championship final to Windsor Brennan by six.

Irish eyes will be smiling at the reunion because several players from the celebrated hoops team will be attending, said Marshall.

“We had buses from the school go to London for the Golden Ball weekend,” he recalled. “It was quite the time.”

Bill Berkhout, the 1970 organizer, expects “40 to 45” of his classmates to attend. He said 35 had signed up as of earlier this week.

“Reunions are  great for catching up on old times and seeing what’s going on in the lives of old friends,” he said. 

Adding to the sentiment: this is the year many in the Class of 1970 are “turning 70”, Berkhout said. “That makes it special too.”

Several teachers from the1970s will be at the reunion, Berkhout said. They include Gerry Pupo, Ed Benchina, Ted O’Leary, and Donna Lacavera. 

Steve Talosi, organizer for 1971, was president of the ND student council that year. He remains close to the school through his 31-year involvement in Notre Dame Family. 

“It’s a tight-knit community,” he said. 

Talosi looks forward to meeting up with old friends from high school days.

“For most of us, high school holds a special place in our hearts.” 

Note: If you’re a grad of the classes of 1970, 1971 and 1972 and haven’t yet made arrangements to attend the reunion, please call Dan Marshall, as soon as possible, at 905-401-0918.

Gadabout Gardener

Still have some cleaning up to do, but the side yard garden is coming along just fine. Let the sun shine! (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

(Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog, with a focus on randomly selected or recommended garden spaces in the city. Do any sights or sites come to mind as photo suggestions? Contact Gadabout Gardener at:

Heritage Lives: The Fort Erie Race Train

By Terry Hughes

Today, we are offered a variety of games of chance, lotteries  and other forms of gambling. Back in 1947 there were only two recognized opportunities to gamble. Either you were purchasing Irish Sweepstakes tickets which were illegal or betting on the Sport of Kings which was horse racing! So with Buffalo’s Coney Island at Crystal Beach and the race track nearby, Fort Erie was the place to be.

The car is an important method of travel today but after the Second World War, not so much. Although there was a growing need to have a car back then, the roads of the day were not conducive to long distance travel. The Queen Elizabeth Way ended at Niagara Falls from Toronto and most provincial roads followed concession or county boundaries. That meant a lot of ninety degree turns. Some of our rural roads still follow that pattern.

In order to reach Fort Erie, you took the train. It was quite common for industries and companies to hire a train to carry their employees to Crystal Beach Amusement Park eg. Procter and Gamble from Hamilton and  Atlas Steels from Welland. Although regarded as a ramshackle operation before being taken over by E.P. Taylor in 1952, for two weeks in the summer Fort Erie was important, particularly with the running of the Prince of Wales Stakes. So CNR would run every day an all air conditioned train from Toronto with a parlour car for those who needed to quench their thirst on their way to the race track.  

The train would not encounter any major obstacles until it reached Merritton. Here, all traffic headed down to the south of the peninsula had to tackle the toughest grade on the entire railway, having to climb the Niagara Escarpment parallel to the flight locks on the Welland Canal at a  2.8 % grade..

 In order to get tonnage up this grade required a helper engine as an assist for extra power. In our first photo a freight train has reached the top of the escarpment and is crossing Bridge 10 over the canal. The helper engine has dropped off and made its way down the escarpment to assist the Race Train. Here we see the helper preparing to couple on to the passenger engine and slog up the hill. Having reached the top of the gradient, the helper engine returned to Merritton Station to await its next assignment while the passenger train follows the freight train across the canal at Thorold.

As the train passes through the south of Welland and its line of factories such as the Electro-Metals pictured here, the sky is nearly white from the extreme humidity and the smoke from nearby ovens rises straight into the sky. 

In our next photo, we reach Welland Junction or Dain City and swing down the Cayuga Sub to Fort Erie. As we pass through the next photo shows a T.H.& B. freight engine switching the trackage and later, moving on to Port Colborne.

Our last photo shows the lead passenger car of the train uncoupled from the engine. The road engine has moved off to the coaling station for servicing. This model of the coaling station was scratch-built like most of the structures and in real life, it serviced 800 engines every month.

The Race Train would return to Toronto after the last race at 5:30 pm.

Note: The photos for this Heritage Lives feature are of the author’s model train layout.

Next:  Heritage Lives in Pictures – a swing bridge over the old canals.      

(Terry  Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

Barky’s Billboard

(Please support/attend this deserving community event!)

Coming to watch and cheer athletes and crews racing at the 2022 South Niagara Invitational on Saturday May 21st? Here is a map and some parking information to help. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take lots of pictures and tag us #rowsnrc and #SNInvite2022

(Barky’s Billboard is a recurring feature on the blog)