Hockey Headlines

Friday, 31 March 2017

Zero Teeth

The image to the left of Nicole Hensley should be tacked to the bulletin board in Canada's dressing room following their 2-0 loss to the Americans to open the Women's World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan. That's not to say that the Canadians should have any ill will towards Hensley, but it's a sign of two programs that seem to be moving in opposite directions when it comes to their philosophies on the ice. The Americans and Canadians played a spirited game that had chances, but the issues of how Canada is teaching its best to play the game reared its ugly face in this one as one team was, by far, the more aggressive.

Is there some reason or some sort of coaching mandate that tells Canadian coaches to not attack the middle of the ice? This isn't just seen on the international stage. I witnessed it numerous times at the Canadian university and high school hockey levels this season as well, and it's shocking to me that the "home plate scoring chance area" isn't attacked repeatedly by Canadian players of all skills. For those unaware, the highest chances of scoring come from the area outlined below.

In tonight's game against the Americans, Canada had virtually no home plate scoring chances throughout the entire game. They seemed content to cycle the puck along the outside without ever penetrating into the middle of the ice. This has been a concern for me for some time now, and tonight's game only exacerbated those concerns. If you can't get pucks to places where you get good looks at the net, the chances of scoring goals against good goaltenders such as Hensley will be nearly zero. Or, in Canada's case tonight, it was zero.

Hensley made 18 saves in the victory for the Americans tonight, and there were maybe four or five really good scoring chances for the Canadians. Comparatively, the Americans had 30 shots on Shannon Szabados with at least 10-12 chances being of high quality. This isn't how Canada plays hockey. The loss I can accept as the Americans are an exceptional team, but the play of the game in which Canada was out-shot, out-skated, out-chanced, and out-scored is not indicative of Canadian hockey. The women on this team are some of the best in the world, but they looked off in a big way tonight. That should bother them as they prepare for Finland tomorrow.

The other thing that really bothered me about Canada's game is how careless they are with the puck in their own zone. There were few tape-to-tape passes, breakout passes missed their targets, and rimming the puck around the boards with no one to pick it up on the other side seemed to be Canada's "out" in most cases when it got in trouble. Without having anyone to receive the puck, those outs became turnovers and Canada was pinned in their zone for extended periods of time. They need to clean up their defensive quick quickly because an aggressive Finnish squad has just enough talent to make Canada pay for sloppy play.

All in all, it was a solid performance by the Americans and a very uncharacteristic performance by Canada. They'll need to play well against both Finland and Russia if they hope to meet the Americans for a rematch with medals on the line.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 236

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, invades Winnipeg airspace with its sultry sounds as all three of Teebz, Beans, and TJ will be back tonight, and it will be TJ sitting in the pilot's chair tonight as he welcomes a guest for an interview that is near-and-dear to him. We often try to find guests who don't fill the traditional hockey guest personas. Tonight, we welcome a man who has played all over North America despite facing some pretty long odds, and he was one of the more feared men to ply his trade in a few of the toughest leagues in North America!

Now you might look at his picture to the left and say, "Wait a second, Teebz, that's not a hockey uniform," and you'd be correct. That's part of his story, though, as welcome Manitoban and indigenous hockey player Jason Bone to the show! From March 20-24, the University of Manitoba held Indigenous Awareness Week, and that's the conference that TJ was working at last week when he stepped aside from the show. To do our part at UMFM and on The Hockey Show, we are proud, honoured, humbled, and privileged to welcome Jason to the show to tell his story about growing up in Keeseekoowemin Ojibway First Nation and making it to play pro hockey! He's done some incredible stuff in his career, and that includes getting his Master of Arts degree at the University before joining the Indigenous Studies Program! Jason has a helluva story to tell, so I highly encourage you to join us tonight on the program as we talk about his life, his hockey career, his academic career, and much more!

If you're gonna be out and about tonight, but still want to hear the show, you really should download the UMFM app. Like now. I'll wait while you go do that because it's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so get to it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today!

If you're all over social media, we try to be as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, we're proud to welcome Jason Bone to tell his story to the world about the struggles and achievements he experienced as an indigenous hockey player on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: March 30, 2017: Episode 236

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Watching A Pillar Crumble

I am at a loss for words today. There is really nothing more disheartening than taking terrible news with no preparation for it, but the actions today by the University of North Dakota administration have left a sour taste in everyone's mouths. The announcement of their dissolving the Division-I women's hockey program as part of larger cost-cutting measures in the university's budget is a bitter pill to swallow for everyone, but especially for the players affected.

Perhaps the worst part of this announcement is that the majority of players found out via Twitter after their practice or while at the Women's World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan. Honestly, I'm not sure there's a worse way to deliver the news to 25-or-so women who were giving their all for the school than for them to find out via Twitter from newspaper reporters and news outlets. The fallout from this public relations nightmare won't be good.

I take no credit in posting any of these tweets below, so full credit goes to the writers who composed them. I am simply posting the timeline so you can see how some players found out. Note the times on the tweets.
At 3:30pm at a news conference, the rumours turned into reality as the UND women's hockey program was cut. Suddenly, life changed in an instant for the women and staff that worked in the hockey program, and many of the women would have some tough decisions to make when it came to their hockey futures. The WCHA statement is below regarding the loss of the North Dakota program.

And it doesn't stop there. What do recruits who expected a scholarship do? It's not like there are unlimited budgets at other D1 schools for them to accept. Their futures might be most at-risk when it comes to post-secondary education and, perhaps one day, playing for their country. One such player? Emilie Harley from Jamesville, NY.
And it seems no D1 school waits to improve itself. The remains of the women's program were still warm when, apparently, the UND players were already being contacted.
And that young lady who had flown in to tour the campus when this news was delivered. Her name is Lauren Hennessey, and she's a goaltender from Lynnfield, Massachusetts. If you'll note, that's a recruit from New York and another from Massaschusetts who had committed to UND for next season and beyond.

"I had multiple Division I offers, but made my decision on UND because of its Olympic and professional hockey history," Hennessey told Inforum's Ross Torgerson. And it only got worse.
And then, the news came.

After watching the UND women's team practice, Hennessey was asked to meet and talk with the coaching staff. That is when head coach Brian Idalski informed Hennessey that the UND women's hockey program was getting cut from the athletic department. The dream was no longer a reality.

"My parents and I were in complete shock," Hennessey said. "It all took a while to sink in before we realized what was truly happening."
And...
"I rejected a lot of Division I offers to come to UND," Hennessey said.

With a majority of Division I women's hockey programs already locking in their commitments for this year and the year's ahead, Hennessey is now worried that her hockey career might be coming to an abrupt end.

"This puts me in a very tough situation," Hennessey said. "My dream of playing Division I hockey is now slim-to-none."
Look, I understand that budget cuts to any program are going to result in some tough decisions to be made. UND was told by the state of North Dakota to axe some $32 million from its budget this year after projected shortfalls were much worse than expected. As a state-funded institution, UND's budget was on the chopping block when it came to minimize the projected deficit.

Sports, including women's hockey and both the men's and women's swimming programs, weren't the only departments to be affected by the cuts. The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences was forced to cut $4.9 million from its clinical departments. The women's hockey program, in comparison, will save the campus approximately $1.5 million annually. Yes, that's a big number for an athletics program, but it's hard to argue with the results when nine women currently playing at the Women's World Championship represent the University of North Dakota. For all the free marketing the program gets when mentioned on the broadcasts of these games, it's all for naught now as the university starts pinching pennies.

"I am worried about my academic opportunities because I'm not ready to graduate yet," senior Antonia Kalal told Liz Kacher of Dakota Student. "I am worried about professional programs, like the law school, since we have the only law school in the state."

In that same article, it was reported that, "Athletics has been asked to now find ways to reduce its budget by $1.3 million," an amount that is less than the UND women's hockey program's costs. The swimming program's cuts appear to be due to North Dakota's impending move to the Summit League in 2018-19 and the costs it will incur if they can't find the funding to continue the program which Miss Kacher outlined below.
Members of the Summit League are required to pay the league a penalty amount of $150,000 for each Summit-sponsored program that is eliminated during the first eight years of membership. Being that UND won't enter the Summit League until the 2018-19, it is uncertain whether or not this will affect UND's future.
It seems as though the swimming programs were doomed from the start. UND, based on this knowledge, most likely cut the swimming teams as they looked ahead at a future $300,000 hit if the state and school were to continue cutting the athletic department's budget. This evidence leads me to believe that the only cut that the school was going to make at today's announcement was women's hockey based on the information above and the tweet that Brad Schlossman sent out about how swimming staff were to also be at the scheduled meeting with the women's hockey staff.

Ultimately, UND ruined the lives of many men and women today because of the state's shortfall in its budget. What bothers me is that they seemingly identified the $1.3 million budget cut by focusing in on the one program that costs them $1.5 million annually despite the recognition that program brings the school. It's why women from Massachusetts and New York were interested in playing in North Dakota rather than staying closer to home with schools in the northeast. It's why you have nine women playing at the Women's World Championships right now.
You've lost my support, UND. Not that you cared anyway.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Winnipeg (-Owned) WHL Team

For years, I've held hope that someone in Winnipeg would bring a WHL franchise back to the city. The city has seen WHL history from yesteryear, but there hasn't been a team in the Manitoba capital in my lifetime. There have been teams for sale in recent years that would filled that void, but with the arrival of the AHL Manitoba Moose there was really no reason to hold out hope that True North Sports and Entertainment would entertain the idea. Tonight, however, there are two Winnipeg businessmen who have ventured into the WHL ranks as owners, but it seems they will keep the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, BC.

Kootenay Ice President and GM Dean Chynoweth announced on Tuesday that the Chynoweth family, who had owned the franchise since 1995, had agreed to sell the team to businessmen Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell. Fettes and Cockell are both Winnipeggers with customer service and hockey backgrounds as Fettes is the founder of 24-7 Intouch, a global customer service outsourcing company, while Cockell is the former Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for True North Sports and Entertainment among the many hockey titles he's held over his career.

Cockell will be relocating his family to Cranbrook as he takes over as President and General Manager from Chynoweth, and will oversee all business and hockey operations of the Kootenay Ice. The former fifth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 1997 played for four WHL teams in three seasons, was a coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings, and was part of the gold medal-winning Canadian Women's Hockey Team at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. His connection to Fettes came through 24-7 Intouch where Cockell served as Chief Customer Officer. He'll have a big job ahead of him in trying to get people come back to the rink as the team averaged under 1700 people per game and own one of the worst records in junior hockey over the last two seasons.

"Our family is looking forward to becoming an active community member, and we are excited to engage directly with some of the greatest fans in the entire Western Hockey League," Cockell said in a statement.

The sale is conditional upon the WHL Board of Governors approving the deal at a special meeting on April 27 to review the new ownership application. The team has been up for sale since 2012, one season after they had claimed the WHL's Ed Chynoweth Cup as the WHL champions. They also won the championship in 2000 and 2002, and claimed the Memorial Cup Championship in 2002 as well. There were discussions to move the team to Nanaimo, BC upon the completion of a new arena, but residents in Nanaimo balked at a new $80 million events centre.

It seems the two Winnipeg men will keep the team in Cranbrook and work to re-establish the team's winning ways. If you're a junior hockey fan in Manitoba, don't get too excited when it comes to seeing a second junior team in the province. It appears that Fettes and Cockell will do what they can in BC to make Kootenay successful once more, and I commend them for committing to that community before exploring other options for the team. If anything, that commitment should resonate well with Ice fans as a start.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 27 March 2017

From Coast To Coast

It's that time of the season where many college-aged players are being signed to contracts by NHL teams as they look to bolster their rosters with undrafted talent for the next few years. The one segment of the collegiate and university players that always seems to be overlooked is the Canadian university scene, yet there have been many players who have emerged from this group as successful and contributing members of the NHL fraternity. Guys like Mike Ridley, Stu Grimson, Joel Ward, Randy Gregg, Steve Rucchin, and Cory Cross are but some of the names who have attended Canadian universities en route to finding an NHL roster spot. We might be adding another name to the list soon as it was announced tonight that UNB Varsity Reds forward Philippe Maillet had signed a deal with the AHL's Ontario Reign!

Maillet's path to UNB is like most other players currently toiling in USports men's hockey in that he was a former CHL undrafted player who used the opportunity once his junior eligibility was up to go back to school. Maillet was a high-scoring member of the QMJHL's Victoriaville Tigres before moving into university hockey in 2013-14. In three seasons with UNB, he's continued his torrid scoring pace in averaging nearly 1.5 points per game in three seasons. He was USports Player of the Year and he was the Tournament MVP this season. Clearly, the kid can score and he's good at what he does.

Maillet helped UNB to another USports National Men's Hockey Championship this spring, and now the Reign are going to see if he can help them in their quest for a Calder Cup. Maillet shouldn't look out of step in the AHL, but the speed of the game might require some adjustments to his game. Maillet seemed to find the right places to be in the games I saw him in, so he has the vision needed to be a scoring threat at any level as long as he can adjust to the speed of the game.

Let's go to his first practice and interview with the Reign!
As Maillet stated, he needs to adjust to the speed of the AHL just as I did, but he's been a scoring star at every level so I suspect he'll adapt well in the AHL ranks. As Maillet stated, he'll use his speed and try to score some goals which he's also done at every level. Personally, this is a fantastic signing by the Reign, and it should pay off in spades as Maillet settles into his pro career.

If there's a major segment of hockey players who the North American teams seem to miss out on each and every year, it's those men playing in USports in Canada. There should be teams taking a shot with players such as Calgary's Elgin Pearce and Carleton's Michael McNamee, but Ontario and the Los Angeles Kings picked up the best player this season in Maillet who has 166 points in 101 games over his U Sports career. Perhaps some of the Canadian teams needing help should be looking in their own backyards for players who can make an impact within their organizations.

Congratulations, Philippe, and best of luck in California!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

20 Years Ago Today


15 minutes of one of the most memorable brawls in NHL history. Feel free to watch at your leisure. 39 penalties, 148 penalty minutes, 10 fights. That all happened 20 years ago today, and the animosity between these two teams last for years afterwards. The brawl includes the infamous moment when Claude Lemieux turtled against Darren McCarty, and McCarty not letting up once Lemieux ducked and covered. There's also the infamous Patrick Roy-Mike Vernon scrap where Vernon bloodied Roy. Needless to say, we may never see this kind of anger, hatred, and bloodshed again in the NHL.

The best part? I remember watching it on TV twenty years ago. Ah, memories of a simpler time when teams went toe-to-toe and righted wrongs committed on the ice through pure gladiatorial combat. In all seriousness, this might have been the last pure rivalry borne out of hate towards another team. Can we get some more of that in today's game, please?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

TBC: A Guy Like Me

With spring upon us and the opportunity to sit outdoors on quiet early mornings with a coffee and good book, I will happily thaw out Teebz's Book Club for the summer as I want to tackle more reading. Honestly, I'm not planning on reading books filled with numbers and stats like a texbook; rather, I want to read stories and biographies from the people in and around the game. I'm happy to do that today as Teebz's Book Club is proud to review A Guy Like Me, written by John Scott and Brian Cazeneuve, and published by Howard Books. You're probably veyr aware of who John Scott is either through his NHL All-Star Game appearance or his pugilistic manner on the ice, but what is one of the most feared fighters of our generation like off the ice? A Guy Like Me gives an entirely new look into John Scott's life behind the scenes, and I guarantee your thoughts on him will change once you've read through his story.

From his biography on the Simon and Schuster site, "John Scott is a Canadian professional ice hockey player in the National Hockey League. Scott previously played for the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, and Montreal Canadiens of the NHL. Scott was born in Edmonton, Alberta, but grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with a mechanical engineering degree. Scott and his wife Danielle have four daughters: Eva, Gabrielle, Estelle, and Sofia."

From his W. W. Norton & Company biography, "Brian Cazeneuve is a staff writer at Sports Illustrated, where he has been covering the Olympics since 1995. His freelance work has appeared in numerous national publications, including Time, People, the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC Sports, and others. He lives in New York City." His work with Sports Illustrated has taken through many sports and many stories in his coverage of the numerous Olympic Games he's been assigned to, and his stories are well-read as features in the magazine.

Enforcers in the NHL always carry some stigma. For hometown fans, they are the larger-than-life cartoon-like characters who thwart evil and keep the peace - sheriffs on the ice, if you will. For fans in opposing rinks, they are the villains we like to boo and razz for their seemingly limited hockey skills. John Scott had these reputations, but it wasn't always like that for the undrafted defenceman who turned into a forward.

As a youngster, John loved hockey like most kids do. He played in some good programs in Ontario before catching a break with Michigan Tech. John had the option of staying in the Ontario junior ranks, but his father thought it might be better for John to pursue an education in case this hockey thing didn't work out as he had dreams. John went off to Michigan Tech where he began his pursuit in mechanical engineering. Don't ever say enforcers don't have brains!

It was there where he met Danielle, his future wife and rock in the relationship, but she didn't really give him the time of day when they met. John was determined not to let Danielle get away, and his dogged determination turned into a relationship with Danielle. Meanwhile, both were pursuing their degrees and John was playing a little hockey as well! John goes through his college career - the ups and downs - in playing for Michigan Tech until he finally signed his first pro deal with the Minnesota Wild after showing significant improvement in his defensive game!

John's NHL career has taken him through a number of cities including Chicago, Buffalo, San Jose, Phoenix/Glendale, and Montreal, but the bonds he has formed with teammates over these stops are unbreakable. His appreciation for Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton in San Jose is unwavering. His love of playing in Chicago with Toews, Kane, and Keith show through in spades. The appreciation and respect he has for coaches such as Todd McLellan, Dave Tippett, and Joel Quenneville is undeniable. But at the end of the day, John's always been a family man and there is no team he protects and works harder for than the team he has with Danielle and his four daughters.

I always find the conversation about other tough guys from tough guys to be interesting. John goes over a number of names that he engaged with during his time in the NHL, and I find the conversation about who fought well, who followed the code, and who didn't to be fascinating.
"Tom Sestito is another guy who fought quite a bit, but his chief weapon was his mouth, which never really closed. A few of the guys referred to Sestito as Fantasy Camp, because that's how they viewed his presence on the ice. He once took twenty-seven penalty minutes in one second of playing time. He ran around, and anytime I asked him to fight, he was always saying, 'Oh, my wrist hurts, my hands hurt, sorry, I can't.' And the next thing you knew, he was fighting someone else. The one time he did fight me, it was because I buried one of his guys and he came up and jumped me from behind. I have no respect for that. It's how he runs his mouth. Most of the guys in the league are respectful, but to me he is not one of those guys."
Sestito, who was recently suspended for four games for a check from behind on Winnipeg's Toby Enstrom, probably isn't on the Scott's Christmas card list. I respect John for speaking about Sestito, though, because it goes to show what kind of enforcer he is, and it's clear he plays with no honour when it comes to the code. This just adds more evidence that Sestito's role is not a hockey role.

Overall, I'm glad I made time to read A Guy Like Me. I knew a little about John Scott's hockey career, but some of the stuff that he experienced and saw behind the scenes during his career is definitely worth the read. Scott won't wow you with gaudy stats or significant historical achievements, but he was an honest player, a hard worker, and he's a true family man when it comes to his teammates or his own family. A Guy Like Me is a great read and is suitable for most readers due to a few PG-rated words, but A Guy Like Me absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Find A Guy Like Me at your local bookstores and libraries, and read John Scott's story. You won't be disappointed!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Gustavsson Gets His First

There are a lot of words that can be used to describe Jonas Gustavsson: goaltender, journeyman, Swede, Bakersfield Condor, former Oiler/Bruin/Red Wing/Maple Leaf. The one thing that he's never been called before is "goal scorer", but that all changed tonight in an AHL game against the San Diego Gulls. There's nothing quite like finding out that a goaltender has scored a goal, and Jonas Gustavsson gets to write his name into the record books tonight as he was added to the list of goal-scoring goalies.

Gustavsson became the 12th goalie in 81 AHL seasons to be credited with a goal, and the first since Reto Berra's goal with Lake Erie against Chicago on January 16, 2015. Gustavsson didn't actually shoot the puck, as you'll see below, but he was the last player to touch the puck for the Condors before the puck came to rest in the San Diego net.

With San Diego down 4-1 on the scoreboard and on a 5-on-3 power-play with just over three minutes to play in the game, San Diego pulled Dustin Tokarski to go up 6-on-3 as they looked to climb back into the game. From there, I'll let the video take over.
The Bakersfield commentators are loving that sequence. San Diego's Spencer Abbot missed the net after the puck grazed Gustavsson shoulder, and the puck ended up on the stick of Kalle Kossila who passed the puck to the point without looking. Those last two words - "without looking" - are important because the pass missed what appears to be Shea Theodore at the right point, and slides all the way down into the San Diego net for the goal. With Gustavsson being the last Condors player to touch the puck, that's his first goal of his North American pro career!

Gustavsson was named the second star of the game after stopping 30 of 31 shots for the win, but let's be honest in saying that he probably should have been first star for the goal, the stats line, and the win. With his goal, Gustavsson adds his name to the following list:
  • Darcy Wakaluk, Rochester – Dec. 5, 1987 at Utica
  • Paul Cohen, Springfield – Mar. 28, 1992 vs. Rochester
  • Robb Stauber, Rochester – Oct. 9, 1995 at Prince Edward Island
  • Christian Bronsard, Syracuse – Oct. 30, 1999 at Rochester
  • Jean-Francois Labbe, Hartford – Feb. 5, 2000 at Quebec
  • Chris Mason, Milwaukee – Oct. 15, 2001 at Utah
  • Antero Niittymaki, Philadelphia – Apr. 11, 2004 at Hershey (OT goal)
  • Seamus Kotyk, Milwaukee – Apr. 17, 2005 at San Antonio
  • Drew MacIntyre, Manitoba – Feb. 20, 2008 at Chicago (OT goal)
  • Chris Holt, Binghamton – Mar. 19, 2010 vs. Rochester
  • Reto Berra, Lake Erie – Jan. 16, 2015 at Chicago
  • Jonas Gustavsson, Bakersfield – Mar. 24, 2017 vs. San Diego
Congratulations, Jonas Gustavsson!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 235

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns to UMFM's airwaves and the UMFM app with a new voice joining the show! With TJ playing a prominent role in a conference in the city and Beans playing a prominent role in parenting, the two normal co-hosts alongside Teebz are off tonight. In their place will be a voice that has been a guest a number of times as well as a broadcasting partner of Teebz, and that voice belongs to Manitoba Bisons forward Alana Serhan! With Alana on the show tonight, we're going to do a little housekeeping and bring everyone up to date on stories that have happened and will happen over this last two-week period so we're ready to go for next week when TJ will take the reins for a special show!

As you can see to the left, the ol' desk has a few items on it that we need to go through. While not my real desk, I have had some stories pile up on The Hockey Show's desk, so we'll clean all of it off tonight. Alana and I will discuss the Female World Sport School Challenge and her broadcasting experience, the USports National Women's Championship that saw Alberta capture gold and UBC capture bronze, a quick blurb about the Men's Hockey Championship where UNB downed Saskatchewan, Bisons women's hockey and the USports All-Star Team, the 8OT game in Norway as Alana was part of the 5OT game in the Canada West playoffs, MHSAA Boys' and Girls' Provincial Hockey Championship results, Letterkenny's win at the Canadian Screen Awards, Bisons men's hockey netminder Byron Spriggs suiting up in the AHL on an emergency basis, an update on the Aalborg Pirates and how they're doing, the KHL's Kunlun Red Star finding new coaches for the men's and women's teams, Hometown Hockey going this weekend in Portage la Prairie, and a major street hockey tournament returning to the University of Manitoba!

If you're gonna be out and about tonight, but still want to hear the show, you really should download the UMFM app. Like now. I'll wait while you go do that because it's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so get to it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today!

If you're all over social media, we try to be as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, I have Alana Serhan in the studio as a special guest co-host as we discuss everything that's been happening in the last two weeks around the hockey world on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: March 23, 2017: Episode 235

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

I Stand With Them


Figure it out, USA Hockey. This is ridiculous. If these were your sisters or daughters, you'd be correcting this in a heartbeat. This isn't your most talent women demanding special treatment. It's them asking for similar treatment. Get your act together, USA Hockey.

It's very simple: if you're not with them, you're against them. And these women are not ones who back down from anyone. I'm sure the rest of the world can attest to that fact.

I stand with the American women. Whole-heartedly and genuinely. Even if they are our sworn hockey enemy.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

More Coaching Perspective

The man to the left is Chris Larade. Larade coaches the Saint Mary's Huskies women's hockey team in the AUS, and he won his second consecutive USports Coach of the Year Award this past weekend. Chris is an outstanding coach, but he doesn't quite have the coaching record of UConn's women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma. UConn has 109 victories in a row and counting, and that's a record that may never be touched by any other team in any other sport. I made the comment this weekend at the Female World Sports School Challenge while watching the Minnesota Revolution play Shattuck-St. Mary's about the body language of some of the players when the Revolution got down a few goals. Yesterday, Auriemma brought body language into a hole new spectrum for sports.

Watch this video of Geno Auriemma talking about the type of players he looks for when it comes to recruiting and playing time. The man has built a program that simply doesn't lose, so his philosophy on building a team is one that every coach, parent, and player should be absorbing. The amazing thing is that it applies to any team sport on this planet in my view.

There's a lot of amazing philosophy in that video, but it comes down to a couple of key phrases about not scoring enough or not getting enough minutes. I hear this at minor-hockey games a lot, and it's bothersome because there are only six spots on the ice at any one time. I also see coaches playing favorites on occasion where specific players get increased playing time simply due to skill or bloodlines. Both sides need to realize that it's a two-way street when it comes to kids in sport and work together to see the success of the team be prioritized over the stats or minutes of one player.

Auriemma mentioned benching Breanna Stewart in his speech. Stewart is an amazing basketball player, and she was the first overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm. In high school, she was the National Gatorade Player of the Year, the Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, and a McDonald's All-American. In college, she led UConn to four consecutive National Basketball Championships. She was the Final Four's most outstanding player a record four times, and was a three-time consensus national player of the year before jumping to the WNBA where she was named Rookie of the Year. So yeah, she can play a little.

Auriemma's team was led by Stewart, but his philosophies hold more water than how many points one can score. He said in the video,
"And if your body language is bad, you will never get in the game. Ever. I don't care how good you are. If somebody says, well, you know, you just benched Stewy for 35 minutes in the Memphis game a couple of years ago. Yeah, I did. That was to motivate her for the South Carolina game the following Monday? No, it wasn't. Stewy was acting like a 12-year-old. So I put her on the bench and said sit there."
Parents of minor-hockey teams would be outraged if a leading scorer was pinned to the bench for playing like an individual. Yet too often, it's this individuality that causes teams to lose games simply because coaches lean too heavily on those individual players or parents scream murder about how the coach isn't playing that player enough when it comes to winning. If we want to see sports help us develop great people, we need to start teaching good lessons early on in the lives of our children.

I'd wager a bet that Geno Auriemma would be successful in a number of sports that he coached with this team-first philosophy. He gets his players to buy into the attitude that if the team is successful, its players will be successful. He asks his players to show enthusiasm, excitement, and happiness for the accomplishments by her teammates, and takes note of those players who aren't contributing to the general positivity of the team. After that, it's all on the players to play the game, but their overall success is built on the same things that you and I would expect from family members: support, enthusiasm, and excitement for one another's achievement.

Sports teams are often compared to families in terms of the closeness that players exhibit. They know about each other's lives, they're involved in each other's lives, and they certainly enjoy being around one another. There's the occasional conflict, but what family doesn't have that? What Geno Auriemma has done is fostered that family-like environment into his team, and the result is that the UConn Huskies are the most successful team on the planet right now.

If your child is spending that much time under the guidance of someone else and around other people who have the same interest, wouldn't you want him or her to have the same support he or she gets at home in his sporting endeavor? Maybe it's time to change the way we look at success in sports. There will always be winners and losers in sport because that's how games are setup, but team success should be the same as family success. If everyone helps everyone else on the team, amazing things can be accomplished!

Well done, UConn and Coach Auriemma! You're changing the spectrum of sports for the better with your philosophies, and everyone will be better off for it. Let's hope that a few teams begin to put your ideas to work in their own programs!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 20 March 2017

It's Not Over Yet?

I have to admit that I stopped watching W Network's Hockey Wives show once they opted not to bring back Emilie Blum. Emilie and Jonathon Blum had the only real story I was interested in as Jon was playing with the AHL's Iowa Wild while the other hockey wives all had NHL husbands. They ran through a second season that contained a lot of in-fighting and squabbling behind the scenes, so this "reality" program seemed more like a soap opera than the lives of real people. Needless to say, I stopped watching when it got a little over-the-top with some of the women.

It was announced today by Corus Entertainment that a third season of Hockey Wives will air on W Network starting on April 19, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT. I received the press release, but didn't really give it any thought until this evening when I wanted to know which wives and players would be spotlighted on this season's show. It turns out that one returnee, one call-back, and four new women will tell their stories on what it's like being the wife of a professional hockey player.

We'll start with the returnee and the only woman who has appeared on all three seasons: Maripier Morin. Morin is engaged to Brandon Prust whose career in the NHL seems to have stalled. In this season, Prust may look at options to play abroad, but that means the pair must endure the stress of a long-distance relationship. Morin was one of the background players in Season One, but took a more prominent role in Season Two. I imagine she'll play a large part in this season's storylines.

The woman who was called back to the show from Season One is none other than Emilie Blum. I've kept up with Emilie and Jon via Twitter so I know how their story unfolds, but this season's story will follow Emilie as a solo parent with Jon playing in the KHL with Vladivostok. Emilie is an amazing woman who has endured a lot while Jon was in Russia last season, so we'll see how she fares once again with Jon in Russia for another season.

The new women cover a wider range of professional levels. Catherine LaFlamme, wife of Kris Letang, joins the program as the Penguins defenceman comes off a Stanley Cup championship while she launches her own children's clothing line. Martine Auclair Vlasic, wife of San Jose Shark Marc-Edouard Vlasic, will have all sorts of new challenges as Marc-Edouard's career takes off following a successful playoff run and a World Cup of Hockey championship. Vanessa Vandal, girlfriend of St. Louis Blues forward David Perron, navigates life with David being traded back to St. Louis when she decides to go back to school only to learn that she's pregnant. The sixth hockey wife is Erica Lundmark, wife of Jamie Lundmark, who looks after their three kids and her own career as Jamie plays hockey in Austria!

Here's the trailer for Season Three.

As you can see, there are a lot of storylines to follow, but this inside look at the lives off the ice of players and their families is something unique. Having the show head across the ocean to Austria, Germany, and Russia only adds to the intrigue of what happens in these womens' lives, so it might be worth catching an episode or two if you're a fan of reality TV.

We're a month away from seeing this season's premiere. If you're not up to date with the careers of these men and women, this would be a good program to start watching. Seeing how they navigate the long-distances between the men and their families are one of the strongest traits of these woman. Hockey Wives won't gloss over the tough parts of that life, but that's part of the life these men and women have together.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The West Emerges

I had been saying for weeks since they eliminated the Manitoba Bisons that the Alberta Pandas looked like the best team in the nation. Granted, my watching of OUA, RSEQ, and AUS teams was significantly less than what I had seen from Canada West, but the Pandas threw a 14-game winning streak up before dropping a pair of games to the UBC Thunderbirds - the top-ranked team in the nation - in the Canada West Final. With their appearance there, the Pandas would garner an invitation to the USports Women's Hockey Championship in Napanee, Ontario where they had a chance to shock the world. Well, everyone except their fans and me, apparently.

It was hard to deny that the best team in the second-half of the Canada West season wasn't the Alberta Pandas. While the UBC Thunderbirds jumped out to the big lead, it's never how you start the season, but only how you finish. The Pandas and Thunderbirds used all three games to determine a Canada West Champion, but the Pandas wouldn't be deterred by a Game Three loss when a bigger championship stood before them.

It would be in Napanee where the two Canada West teams began their assault on the other six teams. On Thursday, UBC moved on to the semi-final round with a 2-1 victory over the hosts from Queen's University after a late Nicole Saxvik goal put them ahead. On Friday, Alberta scored a pair of second-period goals from Amy Boucher and Cayle Dillon before surviving late pressure from the St. Mary's Huskies to advance on a 2-1 victory as well. Four teams advanced, and both Canada West teams were still in the hunt.

The first semi-final game would pit the Thunderbirds against the McGill Martlets. This game had a little bit of everything - great defence, incredible goaltending, chances for both teams, and some good pace. However, a late goal by Gabrielle Davidson with 2:29 remaining in the game was all the scoring needed as the Martlets upset the top-ranked team in the nation to advance to the final on the strength of a 1-0 victory. UBC's dream of returning to the championship game would end, but they would still have a medal opportunity as they'd play for the bronze medal on Sunday.

Alberta, however, caught a significant break when the underdog Concordia Stingers downed the Guelph Gryphons in their quarterfinal game the day before. The upstart Stingers wouldn't just roll over for the Pandas, so Alberta would need to bring a solid game once again. Concordia jumped out to a lead just 19 seconds in when Claudia Dubois scored. Alex Poznikoff would pull the Pandas even at 9:24 while on the power-play, but Marie-Joelle Allard would restore the one-goal lead just 35 seconds after the Alberta goal, and the Stingers would carry the 2-1 lead into the intermission.

While some eyebrows were raised after the opening frame, Alberta head coach Howie Draper had no time for surprise as he took his troops into the dressing room, drew up some changes, and the Pandas came out like the dominant team they were through the second-half of the Canada West season. Five consecutive goals later, and the Pandas booked their ticket to the USports National Women's Hockey Final with an impressive 6-2 victory over Concordia in which they limited the Stingers to just six shots over the last 40 minutes of play. Needless to say, that suffocating defence that the Pandas had played since January now had them in the biggest game of the season!

Before we get there, though, we had a bronze medal game to play as the Concordia Stingers of the RSEQ met Canada West's UBC Thunderbirds! Could Concordia have one more upset in its bag of tricks or would the nation's top team rally back from a heartbreaking defeat? Well, it turns out that the T-Birds had just enough gas left in the tank. A first-period goal by Cassandra Vilgrain at 17:42 on the power-play put UBC out in front, and they iced it almost 40 minutes later when Logan Boyd added a second power-play goal at 17:23 of the third period. Amelia Boughn stopped everything that the Stingers threw her way in backing the Thunderbirds to the bronze medal in a 2-0 win!

After earning a silver medal last season, the Thunderbirds close out this season with another medal and a win to give Canada West the third-place podium finish. Would Canada West finish atop the podium or with a second-straight silver medal as Alberta geared up to play McGill in the championship final?

It took until the second period, but that tenacious Alberta defence and solid transition game finally broke through when Amy Boucher used a defenceman as a screen and snapped a shot past McGill's Tricia Deguire on the far side to put Alberta up 1-0 at 17:38 of the middle frame. Alberta, who has had no worry when holding a one-goal lead, gave up a power-play early in the third period, and McGill would capitalize when Melodie Daoust fired home a cross-crease pass from Olivia Atkinson to even the game at 1-1 at the 3:15 mark of the third period.

From there, both Deguire and Alberta's Lindsey Post took over and denied chance after chance through to the end of the third period with neither goaltender giving an inch in the 1-1 tie. Despite McGill scoring on one of their twelve shots in the third period, the two teams would go to overtime where they would continue the battle. And once more, the goaltenders stood tall as Deguire stopped all four shots from the Pandas in the extra frame while Post would stop the three shots sent her way. And once more, we'd need to roll into another period!

Double-overtime saw Alberta go down a man early as Morgan Kelly was whistled for hooking at 1:06, but the Pandas weathered the storm with Post making a couple of key saves to preserve the tie. It wouldn't be longer after, though, where we'd finally crown a winner. Taylor Kezama's shot ricocheted off the foot of a Martlets defenceman and found its way past Deguire at 8:13 to give the Pandas the USports National Women's Hockey Championship and Alberta's eighth national title in 20 years!

"It didn't feel real at first, I was like, 'did this go in?'," Kezama said with excitement post-game. "My excitement level went through the roof. It's the most amazing feeling I've ever had in my life."

Alberta gives Canada West two wins on Championship Sunday as the Pandas captured the gold medal while the UBC Thunderbirds captured the bronze medal. Canada West featured three of the top-six teams at the end of the season, and had a number of teams move up and down the Top-Ten standings all year. There will be changes next season for both teams as a number of players are graduating, but no one can take these victories from these women.

Congratulations to the UBC Thunderbirds on their bronze-medal performance! And congratulations to the Alberta Pandas for winning this nation's highest honour for university hockey players as they are the 2016-17 USports National Women's Hockey Champions! It should make for an exciting Canada West season next year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Car Ride Home

I spent my day watching a lot of amazing girls play hockey at a level higher than I ever reached as they participated in the Female World Sport School Challenge. These girls are amazingly gifted, but hockey is a sport in which there are winners and losers with nothing in between. Most of these girls had parents in the stands, and that means there was a good chance most of the parents would have driven their children to the rink and home from the rink. While doubt they got "the talk" on the way home, most kids do have some sort of conversation about the game when they're younger. Here's where the stats go off the rails.

70% of kids quit sports before high school. Seventy percent. Say those two words out loud: seventy percent. That's seven in ten kids who quit sports before they hit high school. Why do they quit, you ask? The top reason, according to True Sport, is that sports aren't fun any longer. And the place where kids hear it most is usually during the car ride home.

The video below might be hard to watch for parents, but this sort of things happens daily at fields, rinks, and courts all over our great nation. It needs to be watched, though, so that one can see the negative impact it has on the young boy. Watch the video below, and we'll pick up the discussion below it.
Pretty brutal, right? That happens all over our country, and I hope the impact of that video gets into your head if you're a parent.

"I would be one of the classic parents — you know, [the kids] hop in the car at the end of a game and they didn't know they should be miserable until I told them," Michael Langlois, a sports consultant who has worked with amateur and pro coaches and teams, told CBC's Jamie Strashin. "I regret that as a dad. But I think it's something a lot of us need to acknowledge. The car ride home shouldn't be miserable for kids."

The message seen at the end of the video reads, "You need to take a good hard look at yourself." It's a message that True Sport hopes to push on parents so that more kids will remain in sport throughout and past high school. Remove the pressures of winning and let kids play. Let them have fun! And don't trap them in the car with negativity about the game they just played.

"You are inside of this capsule where you are stuck for a period of time, so I think it's an excellent opportunity for you as a parent to ask some questions in a gentle way about how things went," Dr. Penny Werthner, a former Olympian who has spent 30 years studying sport and psychology, told Strashin.

"That opens up the door for them to start the conversation and tell you as a parent what they are feeling, what they are frustrated about, what they are thinking. That provides you with an opportunity to then come back and start giving some direction."

There have been a number of parents and athletes who have reached out to lend support to True Sport's initiative. Some of the notable names are:
  • Ken and Arlene Olynyk - parents to NBA star Kelly Olynyk, Saskatchewan Huskies basketball player Maya Olynyk, and BC rugby player Jesse Olynyk.
  • Keith Wilkinson - father of Canadian soccer star Rhian Wilkinson.
  • Jan Scott - mother of Olympic cross-country gold medallist skier Beckie Scott.
  • Rosemary Brydon - mother of former Olympic downhill skier Emily Brydon.
We have to remember that our kids are having fun out there. Win, lose, or draw, they're playing a sport they love and enjoy doing, and parents should be supporting them in their endeavors and worrying less about performances.

"It was really important to not talk about it until she opened up the conversation," Rosemary recalled to Strashin. "We never asked her. If it was a bad result, we'd steer clear, she would find us when she was ready. They have to absorb what happened and how they are going to cope with it."

"After a race, Emily came up to us and said, 'I'm really glad that you are my parents.' And we went, 'Why?' And she said, 'You don't care if I win or lose.' That's my favourite story."

Enterprise Rent-A-Car leapt at the opportunity to help True Sport. Getting that kind of support is amazing for this initiative, and I commend Enterprise for getting involved. They produced a great message, so, if the first video made you sad, this one should pick you up a little.

Remember that it's just a game. You want to see your kids playing and having fun, so don't turn it into a chore. They'll find a way to succeed if they feel they're supported, but I've seen too many kids drop out of sports because it became a job with the stress and pressures of winning. Sports is about playing and participating instead of about worrying about the scholarships and scouts. The elite in every sport will get a shot, but for most of our kids they'll just continue to play like we do in our beer league softball and hockey leagues because we have fun. It's all about having fun for 99% of our children.

So please, I beg of you, don't lose sight of what's important when it comes to your child's happiness. You're their number-one fans. Support them as you would your professional sports idols.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Look Beyond

Let's be honest: losing sucks. Losing is disheartening, it's frustrating, and it's a let-down for all involved. When you've had a successful season like the Aalborg Pirates did, it seems to be worse than it actually is. However, the animated picture just above this line is something that fans, players, staff, and management of the Pirates may want to refer to when summing up this season. Yes, there was a prize to be had at the end of the season like the doubloon seen, but the bigger picture is that the ship will bring you more treasures. The Pirates are on the right track when it comes to opportunities for sustained treasures!

Aalborg lost their Game Seven battle with Gentofte today by a 3-0 score, and it was the first time they were shutout in back-to-back games all season. Coach Brandon Reid indicated that there were a number of banged-up players who were out of the lineup, but he wouldn't let that be an excuse in their series when we spoke last. With key players such as Andrew Blazek on the shelf, the Pirates lost some firepower they had relied on throughout the season, but I'd be remiss in not mentioning that Gentofte played incredibly well to dismiss the top-ranked team in the Metal Ligaen. Putting those factors together, the Pirates almost overcame some odds they hadn't really faced all season, but will now watch from the sidelines for the remainder of the season.

Let's all take a collective deep breath here for a moment.

Losing sucks. I'll point out this fact again, but there isn't a person on the planet who likes losing. It's brutal. However, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, and that's the fact that mistakes were made. In making mistakes, we, as human beings, learn. From those mistakes, we get smarter, wiser, more experienced, and the result is that we're better off for it. There's an old mantra in sports that one must first learn how to lose before one can win. The Aalborg Pirates suffered a loss today of a large magnitude.

The expectations that the Pirates carried with them into these playoffs were certainly deserved after finishing first-overall in the Metal Ligaen. However, we should look at the bigger picture when it came to this season's success in that a lot of these players had never experienced the kind of success they had this season. When adversity hit in the form of injuries combined with the pressure of playing a team who had risen to the occasion, the Pirates threw all they could at the Stars, but fell in the final two games - both being shutouts - after never trailing in the series. Again, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but look beyond this year's doubloon, fans.

I spoke about a month ago about how a loss in the opening round of the playoffs would hurt. The linked article, though, spoke of the growth of the team's fan base through sustained winning seasons and how the Pirates are doing things right by changing the culture. Brandon Reid stated, "About three years if all according to plan, we have 5000 spectators for each game, not only because we continue to win, but because hockey culture is back in town," and it should be noted that this was Year One. The doubloon is nice, Pirates fan, but why not grab the pirate ship?

While this loss will sting, the growth and steps forward this franchise made this season will lay the foundation for future successful seasons. If we're talking about a three-year plan, the Pirates stepped beyond the blueprint with this first successful season. They'll have some hard work to do in the off-season and there will be difficult decisions to make, but the Pirates are certainly on their way to securing the pirate ship rather than the individual doubloon.

Pirates like shiny metal objects, and there's no treasure better than a shiny metal cup like the one to the right. Yes, the Pirates were the favorites going into the playoffs, but there are a vast number of factors why teams lose in a seven-game series. This isn't some one-and-done tournament where a single loss ends it, but a drawn-out seven-game war. In their first year of their new culture and environment, the Pirates fell just short of their intended haul. Like any good pirates, though, they'll regroup and come back next season with a hunger that will only be satiated with more wins. It's in this hunger where the Pirates will find the will, the effort, and the determination to take that next step.

Look beyond the doubloon, Pirates fans. There are bigger treasures out there, but you'll need a ship to get there. And a ship doesn't sail anywhere without a fantastic crew. That's on you, Pirates fans, so get onboard!

Yo-ho, yo-ho, it's a Pirates life for me!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 234

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back on the air at UMFM tonight where we're going to get everyone set for the release of Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers tomorrow by having a serious discussion about fighting in hockey with a man who has a special interest in the pugilistic nature of enforcers in hockey! After the Pittsburgh-Winnipeg fiasco, it might be a good idea to hear about this guest's experience with guys like McGrattan, Westgarth, Semenko, and Schultz!

The man to the left? That's Mr. Scorgie! Adam is an Edmonton-based filmmaker who has brought to life other films such as The Union: The Business Behind Getting High and The Culture High. He has acted in TV shows such as Whoopi, All My Children, The Guiding Light, and As the World Turns. While life may not have been as soap opera-ish as his career, Adam is currently working on a new biopic about Danny Trejo! We'll talk to him about Ice Guardians, some of his previous projects, his upcoming biopic, and his thoughts on Goon 2 as we prepare you for the Friday release of Goon 2!

If you're gonna be out and about tonight, but still want to hear the show, you really should download the UMFM app. Like now. I'll wait while you go do that because it's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so get to it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today!

If you're all over social media, we try to be as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, we talk acting, producing, scrapping, movie-watching, and more as we talk to Ice Guardians executive producer Adam Scorgie on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: March 16, 2017: Episode 234

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Busy Weekend

This week has been insanely busy, and it's not going to end any time soon. We have a great guest on The Hockey Show tomorrow, and then I have to prepare for the tournament to the left! UMFM will be broadcasting the semi-final and medal games from the fifth annual Female World Sport School Challenge being held in Winnipeg at the MTS IcePlex! The tournament runs from Thursday through to Sunday, but being that we're everyday people with regular full-time jobs we won't be broadcasting the Thursday or Friday set of games. However, we will have all the action from the weekend inside the Canadian Tire rink at MTS IcePlex, so it should be a good addition to the video webcast that the tournament produces!

This year’s eight-team tournament brings together North American female hockey teams from six sport schools along with two AAA regional teams. Sport school teams participating include host St. Mary's Academy Flames from Winnipeg, defending champions Shattuck-St. Mary's Sabres from Faribault, MN, Pursuit of Excellence from Kelowna, BC, Notre Dame Hounds from Wilcox, SK, Northern Alberta Xtreme from Edmonton, AB, and the Minnesota Revolution from St. Paul, MN. The Thunder Bay Queens and Eastman Selects are the AAA regional teams joining the challenge this year.

Joining me on Saturday will be Manitoba Bisons winger Alana Serhan as she'll come along to watch some games and provide colour commentary. As a broadcaster, it's always nice to get someone alongside you in the booth who has played against some of these teams and is acquainted with the program and some of its players. Alana, for those that don't follow Bisons women's hockey - yet you really should - grew up in Saskatchewan where she honed her skills, so she'll be familiar with the Notre Dame Hounds who are coming to play in this tournament as she squared off against them while playing midget women's hockey in the rectangular province.

On Saturday, TJ returns to his usual seat as he'll do play-by-play for the bronze and gold medal games with myself providing colour commentary. We will have a second special guest, though, as graduating Bisons netminder Amanda Schubert will add her expertise on the broadcast. Amanda was instrumental in the success of the Bisons over the last four seasons, and she can speak to some of the pressure the netminders will feel in the two medal games as both TJ and I have never played net before. Amanda has also coached and watched a few players from these teams, so she'll have some incredible knowledge to pass on to our listeners as well!

Tickets for the tournament are available at the door of the MTS Iceplex. Tournament passes are $25 and individual game tickets are $5 (children 12 and under free). For more information about the 2017 FWSSC, visit the FWSSC website where you can watch the live video feed of the tournament (no sound!) or listen to our broadcasts via the player on the page on Saturday and Sunday! Follow the tournament on Twitter at @FWSSChallenge and on Instagram at @fwsschallenge.

We'll see you out at the IcePlex this weekend!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Without Some Kind Of Fight

There's a million clichés that I could toss out about overcoming adversity. Young teams often find themselves in a battle against experienced teams when the playoffs arrive, and our favorite Danish Metal Ligaen team is embroiled in a winner-takes-all battle as the Aalborg Pirates and the Gentofte Stars are tied 3-3 in their series after Gentofte avoided elimination with a 1-0 win on home ice today. There are some factors as to why the top team in the Metal Ligaen needs a seventh game in this series, but this adversity may prepare them for what awaits in the next round if they survive Friday's game.

The Pirates could claim that injuries to their defencemen have made life more difficult as they're missing a few key players, but in speaking with head coach Brandon Reid he felt that was no reason they shouldn't be able to close out this series. "We'll figure out a way," he messaged me when asked about the injury troubles. Brandon also mentioned the play of Gentofte's eight international players as being another reason for Gentofte's success, but he still found no reason why Aalborg wouldn't be successful.

It's interesting to me that the Pirates and Stars have both gone 3-0 on home ice in this series. Aalborg won Game One by a 5-2 score, but the defence has tightened as this series progressed. The Stars won Game Two 3-1, the Pirates won Game Three 3-1, and the remaining three games were all one-goal victories with Aalborg winning Game Five with the Stars grabbed wins in Games Four and Six. If you're seeing a trend, Aalborg hosts Game Seven on Friday where they're 3-for-3 this postseason, so I'm hoping the trend continues!

Teemu Virtala is the player doing the most damage for Gentofte as he leads the Metal Ligaen Playoffs in scoring with two goals and nine points. Joonas Riekkinen has four goals to tie for the lead in goal-scoring in the playoffs. Despite the balanced scoring from the Pirates, they aren't getting the lights-out production from their go-to players as only Julien Jakobsen is anywhere near his regular-season scoring pace with four assists. There have been good games from individual players, but Aalborg needs to put together a few of those good games in Game Seven.

It's said that nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. Rose Kennedy stated, "Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great." Malcolm X famously said, "There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time." In each of these statements, there's a chance for Aalborg to stare adversity down and rise above it.

Game Seven demands it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Jackets Are Included

The Columbus Blue Jackets might be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference this season with their incredible play, outstanding goal differential, and their being in the hunt for top spot in the Metropolitan Division and the NHL. Granted, there are some other good teams in the mix in the Metropolitan Division that they trail in the standings, but it's not like they're far off the pace that Washington and Pittsburgh are running. Tonight was a special night for the Blue Jackets franchise as they set the mark for the best franchise record in a season with their 44th win and a new record for points in a season up which that will likely continue to improve. It's been a pretty good season for Columbus as they get set for the tougher Second Season starting in April.

Brandon Dubinsky scored a power-play goal in the third period to break a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Jackets would set those marks with a 5-3 win over the other Pennsylvania team. I say "the other Pennsylvania team" because it appears that the Pittsburgh Penguins may be the first-round match up for the Jackets, and there's no love lost between these two teams. They met in a heckuva playoff series once already, and it appears they may be preparing to renew acquaintances this spring. For the Blue Jackets, though, they seem to want something more.

"It was a huge two points for us tonight," Brandon Dubinsky told Adam Kimmelman of NHL.com. "We're just trying to look up. Washington is right there, we're right in their rearview mirror. We're going to keep pushing and try to catch those guys."

Could the Blue Jackets actually finish first-overall and capture the President's Trophy for the first time in franchise history? With their win tonight, the Blue Jackets are one point back of both Washington and Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division, and seemed destined to finish with their first 100-point season in team history. Maybe that's not out of reach just yet.

The one factor that we should take into consideration is the remaining schedule for all three teams. Let's run down those games.

COLUMBUS: FLA, NYI, NJD, TOR, WAS, PHI, BUF, CAR, CHI, WAS, PIT, WPG, PHI, TOR.

PITTSBURGH: PHI, NJD, FLA, BUF, OTT, NYI, PHI, CHI, NYR, CAR, CBJ, NJD, TOR, NYR.

WASHINGTON: MIN, NAS, TBL, CAL, CBJ, ARI, MIN, COL, ARI, CBJ, TOR, NYR, BOS, FLA.

I'll assign half a point to teams on the bubble while teams in the playoff picture safely will get a full point. Obviously, the lower the point total it is, the easier the schedule is for that team down the stretch. Bubble teams must be within four points of a playoff spot to count!

Using this method, Columbus faces four teams who will most likely play in the playoffs while two are bubble teams for a total of five points. Pittsburgh sees five playoff-bound teams and one bubble team for a total of 5.5 points. And Washington has the toughest final stretch as they play eight playoff-bound teams and two bubble teams for nine points. Washington also has to deal with Minnesota twice - including tomorrow - and Chicago once, so they may want to regroup quickly after their recent 0-4 run against the Western Conference which allowed both Pittsburgh and Columbus to climb back into the first-overall conversation.

Could they do it? Honestly, they have a good shot when looking at the strength of the schedules. There's a three-game section where their standing might be determined, and that will see them play Chicago, Washington, and Pittsburgh in a five-day stretch from March 31 to April 4. The Blue Jackets will need to be playing their best hockey during that stretch if they hope to have any shot at the President's Trophy as two of those three games are essentially four-point games against the two teams they're competing with for the regular season's top prize.

The Jackets are 2-1-0 against the Capitals this season with one win coming in overtime on November 15. They're also 2-0-1 against the Penguins this season with each team splitting overtime victories. In other words, the Blue Jackets have played well against their divisional rivals this season. That obviously works in their favor when looking at trends. However, we should be wary of those other teams that the Blue Jackets play. The role of spoiler means there's no pressure on those teams.

The only teams that the Blue Jackets see where they have a .500-or-below record this season are the Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres. Against the remaining teams on their schedule, the Jackets have a winning record, but we did see a few teams get stronger at the deadline. Chicago has come on as of late, Toronto added a couple of pieces, and Philadelphia also made some adjustments. What once was may not be heading down the stretch as these teams look to push for or strengthen playoff positions with these additions.

Is it possible? I'm going to say yes. Could the Blue Jackets host a first-round playoff series? I'd say that's even more likely based on Pittsburgh's and Washington's schedules to the end of the season. However, there's still work to be done, and defenceman Seth Jones made that clear in his postgame comments when he stated, "We're just scratching the surface with this group. It's been a great year, we've accomplished a lot, we should be proud of ourselves. The real hockey hasn't started yet."

Blue Jacket fans will get their to see their team play this spring. They will get to see "real hockey" once more. It will be up to the Blue Jackets to determine their own fate once they hit the playoffs, but the accolades earned during the season are results of hard work, determination, and buying in. When things come together, great things can be achieved as the Blue Jackets are proving. But they're not quite done with this season just yet, and the final 14 games will determine the Blue Jackets' path to the Stanley Cup.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Norway Will Play All Night

See the kid to the left? Who would have thought he'd one day be the answer to a trivia question long after his days with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and the QMJHL were over? He looks different now after aging about ten years since his days in Canada, but the Norwegian-born Joakim Jensen returned home to play professional hockey since 2007 with Storhamar. He's had a good run with Storhamar in being a respectable scorer averaging nearly a point per game, but no one would see what happened today in Norway coming in Jensen's future.

Some 8.5 hours after they dropped the puck to open the game, Joakim Jensen ended the game in the 11th period of play with his goal after 217 minutes and 14 seconds of play! Officially, this is now the world's longest regulation hockey game ever, and here's how that game-winning goal was scored.
Jensen ended the game for the Storhamar Dragons on their 96th shot of the game in the 2-1 victory! Their opponents, the Sparta Warriors, had 93 shots on net at the other end, so this game was not for the faint of heart. What's funny is that the game went so long that people called the police about possible missing persons!
Translated, the tweets read, "Hamar; Due hockey match between Storhamar and Sparta, which has lasted longer than usual, there are people who miss their loved ones." and "Several calls to the police about this. FYI it is not the fight finished." How crazy is that?!?

The game's length officially broke the record set by the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Maroons in 1936 when they played a total of 176:30. Of the 5500 fans who started the game at the rink, it was estimated only 1100 fans or so witnessed Jensen's game-winning goal. Jensen's goal put Storhamar up 3-2 in their playoff series against Sparta, meaning we could see at least one more incredible battle like this if these two teams are as evenly matched as they seem!

In all seriousness, we probably won't see a game anywhere close to this length again. In case you were wondering, Samuel Ward, a 21 year-old Swedish netminder, took the 94-save loss on the night - that's mind-boggling to write! Game Six goes on Tuesday despite the two teams playing nearly four games today, and we'll see what kind of effect this game has on that game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!