Game Notes - Saskatoon

By: Kacie Albert  Thursday, November 22, 2018 @ 5:01 PM

This weekend, PBR Canada will crown its 2018 Champion inside the SaskTel Centre with all 21 competing riders in contention for the title. Photo: Covy Moore/

ALL ROADS END IN SASKATOON – This weekend PBR Canada’s Monster Energy Tour stops in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at the SaskTel Centre, for the ninth and final event of the nationally-televised, cross-nation tour, the 2018 PBR Monster Energy Canadian Finals, presented by Mac’s/Circle K and Dakota Dunes Casino. The event marks the third-time the tour has visited Saskatchewan’s largest city. As the PBR Canadian Finals, the event is the culmination of a more than 30-event slate of bull ridings from the year between both the Monster Energy Tour and Touring Pro Division. The thirteenth annual finals will mark the PBR’s ninth consecutive year hosting the event in Saskatoon.

RELATED: Click here for the complete Game Notes

FIERCEST BATTLE IN HISTORY – This year, the race for the 2018 PBR Canada Championship has been one of the fiercest in league history. With 2,250 points up for grab at the two-day finals event in Saskatoon, numerically, all 21 competing riders mathematically have the chance to leave the province of Saskatchewan with the Canadian title. Atop the standings, the Top 3 are separated by fewer than 100 points, while the Top 8 are all within 1,000 points of one another. Earning an invite to the Canadian Finals courtesy of his finish in the world rankings, No. 17, Dakota Buttar will compete inside the SaskTel Centre needing to make-up the most ground, entering the event No. 28 in the Canadian national standings, 2072.49 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson.  

SO FAR THIS SEASON – Making eight regular-season stops in 2018, the most in tour history, the already held events have played host to the rise of new faces. After young-gun Brock Radford kicked off the Monster Energy tour’s season with a win in Calgary, the series then travelled East for a four-event stretch. Beginning in Ottawa, fans watched on as 18-year-old Texan Austin Richardson went a perfect 2-for-2 inside the home of the Ottawa Senators to capture his first PBR event title. The following two weekends, however, belonged solely to surging Brazilian Marcos Gloria. Compliments of his wins in both Québec and Halifax, he surged to No. 30 in the world and catapulted to the top of the Canadian national standings. Concluding the slate of events, rising Canadian Lonnie West stunned the sold-out crowd in Moncton, going 2-for-3 to capture the title at the first-ever PBR event in the city. In Kelowna, Australian sensation Lachlan Richardson continued his strong summer surge going 2-for-2 to earn his first win on the tour. Collectively recording two event wins and 13 Top-5 efforts across both Canadian tours, Richardson is presently the No. 1 ranked rider in the Canadian national standings, 83.33 points ahead of No. 2 Cody Coverchuk, and 94.99 points in front of No. 3 Brock Radford. After a three-month break, the tour resumed action in Abbotsford. Jared Parsonage, the most consistent rider in Canadian competition thus far this season, swept both rounds to propel himself to his career-first win on the nation’s premier tour. He also rose into title contention, now ranked No. 4in the nation, 460 points behind Richardson. At the final regular-season event of the year, veteran Aaron Roy earned his career first win on the tour inside the Edmonton EXPO Centre, and is now in position to win the fourth Canadian title of his career, currently No. 8 in the standings, 999.99 points behind Richardson.

NEW YEAR, NEW FORMAT – This weekend’s PBR Canadian Finals in Saskatoon will feature a field of 21 riders. Every rider will attempt one bull each in Round 1 and Round 2 on Friday and then face one more bovine athlete in Round 3 on Saturday. The Top 12 will then advance to the championship round. At event’s end the PBR Canada Champion in addition to finals event winner and Rookie of the Year will be crowned. With 2,250 points available, all entered riders have a viable pathway to the national title.

HOME PROVINCE HOPEFULS – Of the 21 riders set to compete inside the SaskTel Centre, 15 are Canadian, including six home province hopefuls. Among the contingent of Saskatchewan-natives set to compete, are the top finishing Canadians in the 2018 PBR world standings, Dakota Buttar (Kindersley) and Tanner Byrne (Prince Albert). Able to compete with the event falling after the conclusion of the elite tour season, the season will mark the first time Buttar has competed at the Canadian Finals since 2016, while for Byrne it will be his first trip to the season-culminating event since he won the Canadian title in 2015. The current elite tour regulars are joined by three-time Canadian Champion and eight-time World Finals qualifier Aaron Roy (Yellow Grass) looking to cap his first season back competing since fracturing his femur on a high note. Among the Saskatchewan contenders, Cody Coverchuk (Meadow Lake) leads the contingent in the national standings, ranked No. 2, followed closely by Jared Parsonage (Maple Creek), ranked No. 4. The remaining Saskatchewan native is Todd Chotowetz (Major).

AUSSIE SEEKS HISTORY– Heading into the Canadian Finals, Australian Lachlan Richardson holds the No. 1 ranking in the standings, leading No. 2 Cody Coverchuk by 83.33 points. Should Richardson maintain his lead and claim the 2018 PBR Canada Championship, he would become the first Australian to accomplish the feat, and only third non-Canadian rider in history to win the title, joining 2014 Champion Stetson Lawrence (Williston, North Dakota) and 2009 Champion Beau Hill (Glacier, Montana). A frequent competitor on the Canadian tours, Richardson as had great success in the Great White North in 2018. The 24-year-old earned two event wins, including his career-first Monster Energy Tour event victory in Kelowna, in addition to 13 Top-5 efforts. Heading into the Canadian Finals, Richardson is fresh off his best World Finals effort in his seven appearances at the most prestigious event in bull riding. The Gresford, New South Wales native went 2-for-4 before he was sidelined by injury on Championship Sunday to finish 14th. Opting to take no time off, Richardson competed during the one weekend between the World and Canadian Finals, going 1-for-2 to finish seventh at the Velocity Tour event in Ontario, California.

MILLION DOLLAR MAN – With his career earnings currently totaling $994,077.95, Aaron Roy could become the first Canadian to eclipse the $1 million mark in career earnings this weekend in Saskatoon. Currently No. 9 in the national standings, 999.99 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson, Roy also has the potential to earn his record fourth Canadian title this weekend. Competing for the first time since fracturing his femur during Round 1 of the 2016 PBR World Finals, Roy has earned three event wins, including his career-first Monster Energy Tour victory in Edmonton, along with 12 Top-10 efforts thus far in 2018. Roy is one of three former Canadian Finals event winners competing this weekend, joined by Zane Lambert and Edgar Durazo.  

LAMBERT LOOKS FOR THREE– Last season, Zane Lambert made history, becoming just the second rider to earn multiple Canadian titles, joining Aaron Roy, and the first to win the Canadian Finals in multiple seasons, let alone back-to-back years. While he travels to the SaskTel Centre this season No. 8 in the national standings, 983.33 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson, after making the journey last year No. 2 and 379.16 points behind then No. 1 Brock Radford, with 2,250 points available it is possible for Lambert to further etch his name in history books as a three-time Canadian Champion and Finals event winner. This year, Lambert has earned an event win in addition to 10 Top-10 efforts in PBR Canada competition.

RADFORD LOOKS FOR REDEMPTION– After entering the 2017 Canadian Finals the No. 1-ranked rider in the national standings, and winning Round 1 of the event via an 87.5-point ride on Minion Stuart, Brock Radford let his first national title slip from his grasp, bucking off his final two draws, including a heartbreaking 7.81-second trip on Buck Nasty in the championship round. This season, however, Radford will look for redemption, currently No. 3 in the national standings, just 94.99 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson. Having one of the best seasons of his career, logging two event wins, including at the season-launch Monster Energy Tour stop in Calgary, along with 9 Top-5 efforts on Canadian soil, Radford also made 10 appearances on the elite Unleash The Beast including three outs at the World Finals where he was an alternate. Despite the success, Radford will need to overcome a knee injury, a torn left MCL and ACL, which will require surgery following the event.

JOHNSTON RIDES HOT INTO SASKATOON – One rider will enter Saskatoon with a win on his resume at the last event he competed at – Milk River, Alberta’s Dayton Johnston who won the final regular-season Canadian event of the year at the Touring Pro Division event in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Johnston went a flawless 2-for-2, covering Dylan’s Devil for 84 points and Blow Me Away for 87 points, to capture the second PBR victory of his career. Compliments of the win, Johnston rose to No. 10 in the national standings, and enters the Canadian Finals 1,152.49 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson.

ROOKIE RACE – This weekend, in addition to the 2018 PBR Canada Champion, the 2018 PBR Canada Rookie of the Year will be crowned. Ranked No. 9 in the national standings, 1014.99 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson, Calgary’s Nick Tetz enters the event the front runner for this season’s title. Close behind is No. 11 Daylon Swearingen of Piffard, New York. Rounding out the field of riders in contention for the title is No. 24 Austin Richardson of Wilmer, Texas.

TEAM CANADA – With the next date for the inaugural Global Cup set for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Feb. 9-10, 2019, the contingent set to represent the Maple Leaf is just half complete. While three-time Canadian Champion Aaron Roy will return to lead the nation, three slots and the alternate position remain to be filled. With Roy qualifying for this weekend’s Canadian Finals, he will have yet another opportunity to evaluate some of the nation’s top talent, while riding side-by-side with the entirety of his already announce team members, including Dakota Buttar, Tanner Byrne, Zane Lambert and Jared Parsonage.  

PAST PBR CANADA CHAMPIONS – To culminate one of the most fiercely contended PBR Canada title races in history, Zane Lambert overcame a 500-point gap in the national standings on the final day of last season’s Canadian Finals to earn his second PBR Canada Championship at the SaskTel Centre. With the victory, Lambert joined Aaron Roy (2008, 2010 and 2012) as the only repeat title holders in Canadian history. The complete list of past Canadian Champions is:

2017                    Zane Lambert

2016                    Ty Pozzobon

2015                    Tanner Byrne

2014                    Stetson Lawrence

2013                    Zane Lambert

2012                    Aaron Roy

2011                    Tyler Thomson

2010                    Aaron Roy

2009                    Beau Hill

2008                    Aaron Roy

2007                    Tyler Pankewicz

2006                    Scott Schiffner

PAST EVENT WINNERS – Last season, Zane Lambert became the first rider in PBR history to win the Canadian Finals in multiple seasons, let alone in back-to-back years. The Ponoka, Alberta native tied for the event win with Edgar Durazo, after going 2-for-3. Lambert delivered an impressive 86-point ride aboard Finning Lil Shorty in Round 1, before covering Crooked Nose for 87.5 points in Round 2. Durazo also went 2-for-3 with his 8-second efforts coming aboard Heaven's Basement for 85.5 points in Round 1, and Herf for 88 points in the Championship Round. The complete list of past Canadian Finals event winners is:

2017                    Zane Lambert / Edgar Durazo

2016                    Zane Lambert

2015                    Brady Oleson

2014                    Aaron Roy

2013                    Scott Schiffner

2012                    Ty Pozzobon

2011                    Dusty Ephrom / Harve Stewart

2010                    Mike Lee

2009                    Guilherme Marchi

2008                    Jock Connolly

2007                    Vince Northrup

2006                    Brian Canter

A STREAK CONTINUES – With Scott Schiffner making his retirement from bull riding at the 2018 Canadian Finals Rodeo, Zane Lambert is now the lone rider to have qualified for all 13 editions of the PBR Canadian Finals. This year, Lambert travels to Saskatoon ranked No. 8 in the nation, 983.33 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson.  

RETURNING CHAMPIONS – With only two riders, Aaron Roy (2008, 2010 and 2012) and Zane Lambert (2013 and 2017), having won multiple Canadian titles in their career, one additional past Champion, Tanner Byrne (2015) has also qualified ride in Saskatoon, looking to join the elite club of multi-time title holders. He travels to the SaskTel Centre ranked No. 19 in the national standings, 1839.99 points behind No. 1 Lachlan Richardson.

BULL PEN – Not only will this weekend’s event feature the top riders in the Canadian national standings, but it will also highlight the country’s rankest bulls. The Canadian Finals bull pen will be led by Two Bit Bucking Bulls’ Happy Camper who has earned Bull of the Event honors twice so far this season. The bovine athlete first earned the honor in Calgary when he was marked 43.5 points for his 4.44-second buckoff of Jake Gardner. His second high-marked out came in Ottawa where his 0.93-second buckoff of Austin Richardson earned him a bull score of 44.5 points. On the PBR stage, Happy Camper last bucked during Round 3 of the World Finals, ridden by Dener Barbosa for the second consecutive year, this season for 84.75 points. Also bucking at the Canadian Finals after appearing at the PBR World Finals are: Wild Hoggs’ Tykro Pound Sand, covered in Round 3 by Joao Ricardo Vieira for 81.75 points and Vold Rodeo’s Whiskey Hand, who dispatched Nathan Burtenshaw in 3.47 seconds in Round 3.

NEXT UP – PBR Canada’s Monster Energy Tour will begin its 2019 season on January 26, 2019 at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba with the Winnipeg Classic. Action gets underway at 7:00 p.m. CT.

PROVIDING PROTECTION – As voted on by the riders, the bull fighters on hand for this weekend’s PBR Canadian Finals are Jesse Byrne, Brett Monea and Ty Prescott.