With the tough economic conditions facing newspapers in Canada and across the world, newspapers have been forced to significantly decrease the size of their news gathering operations. One newspaper section impacted by this down-sizing is sports. Niagara’s journalists are doing their best but are stretched beyond their limits as they attempt to cover everything that is happening at the local level. No one can argue important stories aren’t being told and deserving athletes and teams aren’t getting their proper due.
The goal of BP Sports Niagara (BPSN) is to provide the intensely-local, people-focused grassroots coverage of local sports that Niagara residents have come to expect from their sports reporters. For the past three decades, Bernie Puchalski and Bill Potrecz have chronicled the exploits of local sports teams and athletes and would love nothing more than to continue what they believe is an important component of building and defining communities.
To achieve this worthwhile goal, BPSN needs your help. We need support via sponsors and advertisers, the purchase of voluntary subscriptions and clicks on our website. Please check the Help Us section of our website for details on how you can help.
As we gauge support from readers, sponsors and advertisers, we are busy doing our homework and getting back to speed on what’s happening in the sporting community. We have launched this website to help keep our writing skills sharp and show the St. Catharines/Thorold sporting community what it can expect from our website. We want to be at the top of our games when your support makes this site a fixture of the Niagara sporting scene.
To begin, we will focus our coverage on the St. Catharines/Thorold area with an emphasis on Brock University, the Niagara IceDogs, the Niagara River Lions, junior B hockey and high school sports. BPSN will also cast a wider eye across the Niagara region for teams and athletes making their marks at the provincial, national and international level.
Bill Potrecz, a Welland Notre Dame and Niagara College graduate, spent 32 years as a sportswriter at The Standard covering almost every sport imaginable from high school, to junior hockey, to a World Series and Stanley Cup final. He took a voluntary buyout from the St. Catharines Standard in early 2017.
By his estimation he has covered more than 1,500 junior hockey games.
His passion is baseball but hockey is a close second. His guilty pleasure is professional wrestling, specifically the glory years of the National Wrestling Alliance.
From 1993 to 1999 he covered the St. Catharines Blue Jays/St. Catharines Stompers chronicling the early years of future stars such as Pat Hentgen, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Vernon Wells and Michael Young.
He also covered three Minto Cup championship lacrosse finals and wrote a weekly baseball column, “Inside Baseball,” from 2000 to 2016.
He also has fond memories of covering both the Niagara Falls Canucks and St. Catharines Falcons as they captured Sutherland Cup provincial hockey championships as well as Marilyn Bodogh’s 1996 World Curling championship in Hamilton.
Bill believes strongly in the importance of local sport and is looking forward to keeping BPSN’s readers up to date with the latest news from the local sporting scene.
His love of sport extends to the community where he coaches both baseball and hockey.
Bernie Puchalski, a graduate of Brock University and Niagara College, worked in journalism in Niagara for more than 27 years before taking a voluntary buyout from The Standard at the end of 2016. He started his career as a news reporter for the Niagara Falls Review before switching to sports reporting. He was a sports reporter and sports editor at the Niagara Falls Review before joining the Standard’s sports department in 1996. He was named the Standard’s sports editor in 2000 and became the regional sports editor, in charge of the Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and Standard, in 2015, a position he held until he left the company. During his time in newspapers, he was a multiple winner and finalist for numerous Ontario and Western Ontario Newspaper Awards for sports reporting, spot news reporting and humour writing.
He was a member of the Standard Boys Basketball Tournament committee and co-chair of the Standard Girls Basketball Tournament, helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars for bursaries presented to participants in the tournament. He also served on countless local sports committees both in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.
Throughout his tenure as a sports editor in Niagara, Puchalski made local sports his primary emphasis. BPSportsNiagara.ca’s slogan “Local sports is news to us” perfectly describes Puchalski’s beliefs and that of BPSN co-founder Potrecz.