Hockey Headlines

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! 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!

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! 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 "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.




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!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

It's Woven Into Canada

Canadians, for the most part are defined by a few key things: our weather seems to make people shake their heads when they try to comprehend our winters, we're known for being laid-back and fun-loving, we apparently like our beer, and we're pretty good at this game called hockey. Just as the fabric of our national identity has been woven, there are regional cultures that make us more unique as we work down the granular levels of our society, but it's clear from the number of arenas and participants across this country that we're tied together through hockey.

I made arrangements to send a favorite correspondent in my aunt, Barb, to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on Thursday for the unveiling of the Hockey exhibit that looks at the "national and personal obsession that brings us together at centre ice, in our living rooms and rinkside — playing, watching, cheering when our team wins and taking it personally when we lose". Barb's knowledge of hockey is about as deep as my knowledge is of ballet - she has an idea, but would be the first to admit that she knows nothing about the game outside of stick, puck, and skates. In other words, she's the perfect person to send to this exhibit if the Museum really wants to attract Canadians of all walks of life to see this presentation!

Barb wandered the exhibit for two hours as she read the information, participated in the interactive exhibits, and took in as much as she could when it came to the individual artifacts. Being a non-hockey person, she found the image-rich and informative exhibit to be speaking to her without overwhelming her or speaking down to her. The artifacts presented had all sorts of history attached to them, and Barb appreciated the leisurely walk through the exhibit where she could pace her own experience.

The staff, according to Barb, were knowledgeable and informative about each exhibit. Obviously, they knew about the hockey artifacts, but there was a lot of pop culture items in the exhibit that they had the back stories on. Things like hockey-themed board games, various tabletop hockey games, books, and food items are all in the exhibit, and Barb found that everyone knew why they were included. The majority of the exhibit was built through personal collections, collections from company archives, other museums, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the employees working around this collection knew everything possible about these artifacts!

While she's definitely not part of the exhibit, the woman to the right has had a big part in bringing it to the Canadian Museum of History. Her name is Éliane and she is the Social Media and Media Relations Officer at the Museum. She was responsible for bringing everyone together on Thursday morning to showcase the Hockey exhibit before it opens to the public. She has been instrumental in getting me the info needed to preview this fantastic exhibit at one of Canada's most important institutions, so say hi to her if you visit the Museum and tell her you read about the exhibit on Hockey Blog In Canada!

In saying that, Éliane wanted me to point out some of the highlights of the collection. They include Jacques Plante's revolutionary "pretzel" goalie mask, Hayley Wickenheiser's skates, "Rocket" Richard's All-Star jersey and Hall of Fame and Stanley Cup rings, Paul Henderson's Canada jersey from the 1972 Summit Series from Game Eight where he scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of play, and Shania Twain's hockey-inspired stage costumes!

Among the historical information are innovations in player safety, the growth of women's hockey, cultural politics, and the power of media in the world of hockey. In being included in the media portion of the preview of this exhibit, Hockey Blog In Canada needs to ensure that Éliane gets a big "thank you" and a grand "merci" for letting Barbara into the event to get me this info! Thank you et merci beaucoup, Éliane!

Some of you might be asking how much it costs to see the Hockey exhibit at the Museum since it is a special exhibit outside of the Museum's normal collection. I also had the same question, but this is where the Canadian Museum of History takes on the role of awesome. All of my research points to the Hockey exhibit being part of the general admission fee at the Museum!

Adults will get to see all the collections for $15, senior citizens over the age of 65 get into see all of the Museum for $13, students with valid student ID get in for $11, and children aged 3-12 will see the exhibits for $9! Families with two adults and 3-5 children can save some money by getting a family pass for $36! Pretty good deals there, right?

Without further adieu, here are some of the artifacts that Barb captured digitally while wandering through the Hockey exhibit! You can see all of this and more during your visit!

I want to give a big thank you to Barb, my correspondent in Ottawa for this adventure, as she went and did the work, a second thank you to Éliane for allowing Barb and Hockey Blog In Canada into the exhibit, and to the Canadian Museum of History for bringing this great exhibit on Canada's official winter sport to life! The Hockey exhibit runs from March 10 until October 9, so plan your next trip to include this outstanding exhibit!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Change In Programming

I had an article ready to roll for tonight, but some news from the local AHL scene will interrupt that plan. The goaltender in the photo to the left is Manitoba Bisons goalie Byron Spriggs, and it appears he's mid-form in delivering a pro-style poke-check. I say "pro-style" because the Winnipeg-born netminder was needed in Thursday's AHL game for his first introduction to the professional side of the game, and the former Vincent Massey Collegiate Trojan and Winnipeg Blue donned the road colours of the Charlotte Checkers as they needed a backup goaltender!

With Michael Leighton out with an injury and Thomas McCollum unable to get to Winnipeg in time from Stockton, California, the Checkers needed an emergency goaltender for their game against the Moose last night. Jorge Alves has already played his one-game emergency fill-in, so the Moose turned to the local hockey scene and the Manitoba Bisons' netminder was available to watch the game from the best seat in the house!

The 23 year-old answered the call from the Checkers and made his way to MTS Centre where he wore #35 as seen to the right! He had a pretty decent season in Canada West men's hockey this year, posting a 12-8 record with a 2.82 GAA, a .913 save percentage, and three shutouts. He was instrumental down the stretch for the Bisons in helping them secure a playoff spot, and went 1-2 in a three-game series against the Mount Royal Cougars. As you can see, Spriggs got himself his own collector's item with his jersey as the rest of his gear still sported the brown-and-gold of the University of Manitoba. While Charlotte wasn't expecting him to set foot on the ice, would he be called upon in front of family and friends?

The answer would, unfortunately, be no. Daniel Altshuller was outstanding as he made 35 saves in thwarting an outstanding offensive effort by the Moose to help Charlotte to the 4-3 victory. Nevertheless, the young Manitoba netminder did get to take warm-up in the pre-game setup against an AHL squad. He'll always have a jersey, and the memories will be etched into Spriggs' mind forever!

Well done, Bryon Spriggs! A great story for a great kid will finish off this week!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 233

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is coming at you on the radio, via the internet, and on the UMFM app tonight at 5:30pm CT! Where will you be listening? Personally, I'll be listening and participating from The Centre of the Universe as TJ takes over the show tonight. My call to the show from Toronto will be as a secondary player only, so make sure you tune in for all the topics TJ is planning on bringing forth as he sits in the captain's chair tonight!

Among the topics that TJ is serving up tonight is a full audit of True North Sports and Entertainment! I kid, of course, but we'll discuss what a Jacob Trouba contract extension may look like, TNSE's announcement of $250 million in revenue generated for the city and whether that figure is accurate, the Moose looking like world beaters with the emergence of Kyle Connor at the AHL level, if it's better to extend Paul Maurice or let him walk, what to do with Toby Enstrom, upgrades at MTS Centre, naming a street in Winnipeg's north end after legendary head coach Fred Shero, the NHL playoff race, the MHSAA Provincial Championship, and a philosophical question of which city would you rather see a playoff game in this spring - Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, or Edmonton. There are also a few notes that I'll pass along, so we have a jam-packed hour of hockey goodness to come your way tonight!

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! 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 Jets defencmen, Jets coaching, the Jets' farmhands, the Jets' arena, Winnipeg legends, and playoff cities on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: March 9, 2017: Episode 233

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Back To The Roots

I rarely get a chance while away to see some live hockey simply because it's no fun going to watch people you don't know nor is it fun hanging out at an arena by yourself. In saying this, I was lucky to have arranged a night at the rink watching a good friend by the name of Teri as her team took to the ice at 9:30pm this evening. What should I expect? How good is the level of competition in her league? All of this matters not as beer league hockey is part of the fabric of this country with hundreds of thousands of adults suiting up in evenings and on weekends to play one more game!

Teri, seen to the right, is the netminder for the Sharks. As seen above in the lede photo, the Sharks are in first-place in their league so things are going well for the most part. Tonight's game has the Sharks playing host to the Ladybugs, and I automatically am giving the edge to the predatory animal due to both standings and the their lust for blood. Ok, so maybe the ladies don't have a real lust for blood like sharks do, but they would need to be aggressive against the Ladybugs!

The puck was dropped shortly after 9:30pm, and the action started slowly as both teams looked to get their legs under them. The Ladybugs got the first great scoring opportunity, though, as Teri was forced to make a good save less than a minute in on a partial breakaway. The first period contained a lot of play in the corners and through the neutral zone, but there were a few highlights from the opening frame. A Ladybugs forward got loose behind the defence for a breakaway, but her backhand-forehand deke caused the puck to roll off her stick as Teri avoided what could have been an early goal-against.

At the other end, Jalina, wearing #29, had a couple of chances late in the period including a good shot that was stopped and smothered by the Ladybugs netminder with 1:53 to play that had the back of the net written all over it. The Ladybugs pressed in the closing minutes of the period, but Teri stopped two glorious opportunities by #15 with under ten seconds left, and the two teams would swap ends at the horn with the game deadlocked in a scoreless draw.

Early in the second period, the Sharks came out with pressure and it appeared that Stacey would break the 0-0 tie, but she just couldn't elevate the backhander over the Ladybug goalie enough to light the lamp. A minute later, the Ladybugs had an incredible opportunity as #8 spotted #77 cruising into the slot and send a pass out to her that #77 attempted to one-time, but she fanned on the shot that seemed destined for the back of the net had she connected.

The first marker was not far behind those two scoring chances. The Ladybugs built some good pressure and had the Sharks chasing them in the defensive zone when a redirection by #17 found its way past Teri on the backdoor, and the Ladybugs led 1-0 with 6:34 to play in the second period. Jalina had another partial breakaway, but was stopped by a shoulder save. The Sharks kept the pressure coming and they had multiple chances on sequences in the period with less than two minutes to play, but the Ladybugs would not break.

With 43.8 seconds to play, speedy defenceman Clara made an nice move down the left wing, cut hard towards the net, and attempted to go across the crease with the puck but was upended by the diving Ladybugs goaltender. Clara fell on top of the sprawled netminder, and her reward was a punch to the cage! Pretty clear penalty on the goalie, right? Well, according to the officials, the roughing call was a no-brainer, but somehow Clara ended up in the box for goaltender interference for the off-setting minor penalties! I'm not sure how Clara was assessed that penalty, but the officials gave her two minutes to think about what she did. The final seconds would tick off in the period with the Ladybugs leading the Sharks by a 1-0 score.

The Sharks clearly needed a spark to start the third period if they were going to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but the third period started off with a massive save! Just 14 seconds in to the period, the Ladybugs worked the puck deep only to spot #9 wide-open in the slot for the one-timer on Teri, but the agile goalie showed incredible lateral movement to deny the Ladybugs their second goal! That save was worthy of the highlight reel! What came out of that was a momentum change ass the Sharks began to assert their will!

The Sharks had opportunities as they retrieved pucks dumped into their zone and moved them quickly up the ice as they put the Ladybugs on their heels. It would be this quick puck movement that would get them on the board. Megan, wearing #19, chipped the puck past a defender on the left wing and broke in on a partial breakaway after gathering the puck. She made no mistake as she ripped a wrist shot past the Ladybugs' goalie on the stick side for the 1-1 equalizer!

With the thought of a tie looming, the Sharks continued to pressure the Ladybugs with good puck movement and an excellent transition game that kept the Ladybugs from mounting any real offence. With time ticking down, Megan forechecked against a Ladybugs defender at her own blue line when the defender fell! Megan quickly scooped up the puck, went outside-inside on the second defender to get loose where she cut across the top of the crease, and she slid the puck under the diving Ladybugs goalie with 1:02 to play as the Sharks grabbed a 2-1 lead!

With the final minute ticking down, the Sharks were just content to dump the puck down the ice to kill the clock, and the final buzzer saw the Sharks escape with a 2-1 win! I have no idea how many saves Teri made in the victory, but there were at least two highlight-reel saves for her on this night, and the win bumps the Sharks to 14-5-3 as they hold onto first-place in the league regardless of the other outcomes!

Teri and I had a post-game adult beverage where we talked a lot of women's hockey, and it was great to be able to sit down and just talk about the game. We went over what I saw on the ice, and we eventually began debating who may and may not be on the Canadian Women's Olympic Team in 2018. It seems we have the majority of the roster set had Team Canada approached us, but there was deep discussion on goaltending and defencemen that needed to be had. At the end of the night, I'll give a major stick-tap to Teri - she knows her hockey well!

A win, a beer, some hockey chatter, and lots of laughs. That's what grassroots hockey is in Canada. No one lets the wins get too high or the losses get too low, but the competition is high and players still enjoy the thrill of a win. I enjoyed watching this game, and it's always great when I can break out of the professional hockey world by returning to the place where dreams of Stanley Cups are built. Tonight's game at the Westwood Arenas complex in Etobicoke was well worth the visit!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Wheels Up

I escaped blizzardy Manitoba for a warmer climate today as I have arrived in Toronto, Ontario for work. I'm not fond of traveling to Toronto with the Maple Leafs doing as well as they are, but there was almost nothing said about the Leafs in my wandering of Pearson Airport or while in the cab to the hotel. I did get acquainted with the Leafs in a unique way within my first hour of being here, but the falling rain and 10°C temperature made me forget about wintery Winnipeg for an hour or two as I settled into my temporary digs in The Big Smoke.

I don't normally review restaurants on Hockey Blog In Canada, but I decided to venture over to Wendel Clark's Bar and Grill for dinner once I had checked into the hotel. A short five-minute walk from my hotel, Clark's quaint restaurant was actually pretty quiet compared to what I may have been expecting. There were ample televisions showing both the Brier curling event and the Red Wings-Leafs game, so I settled in for a night of sports and good eats.

There was less Maple Leafs gear and pictures on the wall than I expected as well. You'd think an athlete who played for as long as Clark did and was as beloved in this city as he was would have a few more artifacts on the walls of his restaurant. Apparently, that's not the case as the restaurant was cozy, but a little cavernous with all the empty seats. Nonetheless, I settled in at a table in the back where I had a good view of multiple televisions.

The young lady serving, named Olivia, was a delight. She was quick to bring me an adult beverage on special, and she was attentive to her tables. I felt she might have really benefited from a second server working with her, but the bartender who basically stood against a wall all night did zero to help her. When he did decide to lift a finger, he was nearly useless. He retrieved my plate after I finished eating, but didn't bother to take the condiments or ask me if I wanted a refill on my beverage. Apparently, the idea of a restaurant generating revenue was lost on him. But I digress.

I decided to go with something simple to see how the chefs or cooks in the back operate. I ordered some deep-fried pickles to start and followed it with a buffalo chicken sandwich as my entree. The pickles were alright in that they had a crispy exterior, but they had cooked too long and didn't have that distinctive crunch as I bit into them. It doesn't take much to make deep-fried pickles so I wasn't expecting the world in ordering them, but they were a decent starter.

At this point, I should note, the Leafs were leading the Red Wings 3-0 in the second period.

I received the buffalo chicken sandwich minutes after finishing the pickles, and it looked more like it was a deep-friend chicken breast between the buns. There was a massive leaf of lettuce, a tomato slice, but there was very little hot sauce as I had chosen. The bowl of shoestring fries were fine in both texture and taste, but I had my concerns about the sandwich. In any case, I needed to bite into to give you the full story so the next few moments were spent biting and chewing.

And tasting very little buffalo sauce.

I'm not sure how the wings are seasoned in the kitchen at Wendel Clark's, but the majority of places where one can buy wings has them tossed in a bowl with a selected sauce. It was clear that the chicken in the middle of my sandwich had not been a part of that process at all. It seems that it was deep-fried to get the breading crispy, followed by hot sauce being dripped onto the top of the chicken. Overall, the taste of the chicken sandwich was fine, but it just wasn't very "buffalo" in nature. C'est la vie, right?

Back to our server in question, Olivia was working her tail off as three additional tables had come in during my time at the establishment. Our bartending hero was still doing his best job being absolutely useless in taking only my plate from in front of me, so it was a few minutes until Olivia returned to my table to ask if I needed anything. I informed her that I was doing well, but would need the bill when she had a moment.

Olivia returned a few minutes later with the bill and the debit machine, and she came with a message. She said, "You've been the most polite customer I've had. Thank you for that."

We had a short discussion after she paid me that compliment, but that's not what's important. It's hard for me to understand why Olivia hasn't been promoted through the business with her attentiveness to detail, her customer focus, and her general pleasant demeanor. Food aside, I'd go back just to sit in Olivia's section again because she worked her butt off in keeping customers happy when she had little to no help, she never lost the smile on her face while serving her section, and she made my meal better than what it was. If someone from Wendel Clark's is reading this, she deserves to be rewarded for her excellent work because she's the reason I'd come back.

Overall, the food was average, the drink special was decent (bottles of craft beer for $5?), and the atmosphere was pretty good. Let's be honest here, the overall marks if we don't include the efforts from Olivia would be middling at best. A lack of requested sauce on the "buffalo" chicken sandwich really did the food marks in, so my final grade for Wendel Clark's would be ★★★ out of a possible ★★★★★. However, if you're visiting the Vaughan location, ask to sit in Olivia's section if she's working. She was a pleasure, and she alone deserves a ★ for making my dinner experience 20% better.

Oh, and the Maple Leafs hung onto win the game over the Red Wings by a 3-2 score.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Mike Milbury Would Be Proud

We're a few years away from the 40th anniversary of the above incident where Boston's Mike Milbury climbed into the stands at Madison Square Garden and brawled with fans before hitting a fan with a shoe. That game happened on December 23, 1979, and it's a moment that neither Mike Milbury nor the NHL is particularly proud of, but it's now a part of NHL history. Seeing players go into the crowd is increasingly rare in today's game, but one player tried to recreate the insanity seen in New York with his actions on Saturday.

We go to Lord Beaverbrook Rink in Saint John, New Brunswick for this tale of craziness a fan in the crowd captured this video using a cell phone. It was the fifth and final game in the best-of-five series between the the Southern Sting and the Grand Lake Moose of the New Brunswick Junior B Hockey League when a Grand Lake player sitting in the penalty box began receiving taunts following a donnybrook on the ice in the third period. The player responded by reaching over the glass with his stick and whacking a fan on the head which prompted a fan to dump a beer on the player in the penalty box. And that's when all hell broke loose.

Before clicking the video, a couple of warnings: TURN YOUR VOLUME DOWN because one of the fans is screaming like a banshee at the start of the video, and there is some PG-rated language in the video. View at your discretion. Here we go.
If it matters, Southern went on to win 4-2 to advance to the final, but it took police some 20 minutes to restore order and allow the game to finish. With players and fans wondering what the league will do, it was little surprise that NBJHL president Sheldon Hay didn't have much to comment on following the game.

"We are waiting for the referee's report," he told CBC's Gail Harding, adding that a committee from the league will assess everything according to the league rules before making their decisions on what will happen to the teams and players involved.

Honestly, this is ugly. The Grand Lake player is partly responsible for reaching over the glass into the crowd with his stick, and the fans are responsible for the taunts and beer pouring. I'll credit Southern for bringing on more security for the NBJHL final, but don't be surprised if alcohol sales are banned for the final in the Southern rink. The guy wailing like a banshee sounded like he may have had some adult beverages, so I can only imagine the mob mentality that happened before the camera started recording.

I would not be proud of yourselves, Sting fans. This isn't what hockey is about.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Rundown - Week 20

The Rundown is down to two teams as the Canada West women's hockey championship is decided this weekend. The Alberta Pandas, the second-place team this season, head west to Vancouver for a best-of-three series against the first-place UBC Thunderbirds with a CWUAA Championship banner on the line. Both teams feature scoring, defence, goaltending, speed, and skill so this series is all about which team puts on more of a show. With both these teams heading to Napanee for the USports National Championship, they'll try to prevent injuries, but I suspect we'll see both teams lay it on the line for pride and bragging rights in this week's edition of The Rundown!

ALBERTA at UBC: If there was ever a matchup where the underdog could actually be the favored team, it might be this one. Alberta came into the series against UBC on a 13-game winning streak while UBC hung on for dear life against a plucky Saskatchewan team in the semifinal. Would we see the Pandas continue their winning ways?

In a word, yes. The Pandas used the same tenacious play where they blocked a ton of shots and disrupted passes with sticks in lanes to upend the T-Birds in Game One. A scoreless first period saw Alberta lead the way in shots by a 6-5 margin, but it could have been easily in favor of UBC is it wasn't for Alberta's play in their own zone. The second period saw an onslaught of shots directed at Amelia Boughn in the UBC net, and it would be a power-play marker that put the Pandas out front as Abby Benning's shot was stopped, but Amy Boucher was in the right place to pot the rebound past Boughn at 15:13 to give the Pandas the 1-0 lead.

The third period saw UBC play with a little desperation, but the Pandas continued to sacrifice bodies to block shots and making life difficult for UBC. It would become even more difficult at 11:53 when Hannah Olenyk grabbed a rebound in tight to the crease and found enough room past Boughn to make it a 2-0 game for Alberta. From there, it was simply a matter of time as the Pandas did everything necessary to help goaltender Lindsey Post as the Pandas grabbed the lead in the series on the strength of a 2-0 shutout for Post. Post stopped 20 shots in blanking the Thunderbirds while Boughn stopped 23 shots in a losing effort.

ALBERTA at UBC: With Alberta switching to have last change on Saturday, UBC's backs were against the wall despite them playing on home ice. It was do-or-die for the T-Birds, and they got a big effort out of a few players. Alberta opened the game by controlling possession and getting some chances, but Amelia Boughn was stellar once again on this night as she shut the door in the first period. Her work seemed to rally the T-birds as they slowly began to impose their will on the Pandas, and it would pay off late. Kathleen Cahoon showed all sorts of jump and hustle to get to a loose puck in the Alberta zone, and her quick wrist shot beat Post cleanly at 18:34 to give UBC their first lead of the series. That lead would double less than a minute later when Haneet Parhar whacked a bouncing puck out of the air and into the net past Post at 19:25, and the T-Birds would go into the intermission up a pair!

The Thunderbirds continued their assault on the Pandas in the second period, and it was Lindsey Post's time to shine as she stood tall in denying the T-Birds on all attempts. Alberta used a power-play to cut the deficit to one when Taylor Kezama's shot found its way through Boughn at 13:45 to make it a 2-1 UBC game. At the end of 40 minutes, UBC led Alberta by one shot and one goal with one period to play.

The third period saw UBC continue to press as they never took their foot off the gas pedal in this game. Melissa Goodwin would restore the two-goal lead with 5:55 to play when she one-timed a feed from Jenna Carptener-Boesch past Post to make it 3-1, and that goal iced the game as Alberta mustered very little in the final five minutes. UBC takes Game Two and pushes the series to the limit with the 3-1 win. Amelia Boughn stopped 25 shots in the win while Post dropped her first game in a long, long time while making 18 stops. I want to point out that the Pandas' 14-game winning streak coincidentally started with a victory over the Thunderbirds on January 7 which snapped UBC's 15-game winning streak - a fact not lost on a desperate UBC team on this night!

ALBERTA at UBC: With each team scoring three goals in this series - the Pandas' goals were all scored power-play - one team would have to break the stalemate in this even series! It would be the same two goalies who got these two teams to this point as Lindsey Post suited up for Alberta while Amelia Boughn took the blue paint in the UBC net. These two would be the story if not for one blemish on the scoresheet because they were spectacular in their positions.

UBC came out flying and looked like they did the night before as they carried the attack all night long. They outshot the Pandas 8-3 in the opening frame, but both Post and Boughn would have none of the shots get by them as the two teams went to the first intermission still knotted up in a scoreless draw.

The second period started like the first period, but we'd see some dented twine at 7:26. Logan Boyd led a two-on-one into the Alberta zone, and she feathered a gorgeous pass across to Cassandra Vilgrain who simply needed to put a stick on it for an easy deflection goal. Pass, stick, goal as Lindsey Post couldn't stop Vilgrain's redirection and the UBC Thunderbirds had the 1-0 lead! Alberta doubled-down on their efforts, but they still couldn't solve Boughn as the horn sounded with the T-Birds leading by the thinnest of margins through 40 minutes of play.

Despite an early four-minute power-play where Alberta had a number of glorious opportunities, Boughn stood tall again for the Thunderbirds as she denied the Pandas an equalizer. The Thunderbirds were relentless in their pursuit of the puck as Alberta's opportunities were thwarted prior to getting shots on net. Post would be called to the bench with 1:32 remaining, but that incredible effort by the T-Birds continued as Boughn did not see a shot for the remainder of the game. When all was said and done, the Thunderbirds had won Game Three by a 2-0 score, won the series by a 2-1 margin, and won the Canada West Women's Hockey Championship for a second-straight year! Boughn stopped all 16 shots she faced for the shutout victory while Post made 16 stops for the silver medal.

Your 2016-17 CWUAA Women's Hockey Champions are the UBC Thunderbirds!

That will do it for The Rundown this year. Yes, I realize that the USports National Women's Hockey Championship is coming up next week, but that event will get its own entries. I want to thank everyone who has read these updates all season long. We'll be back next season with more action and more fun as I work through another Canada West Women's Hockey Season in 2017-18! Best of luck to both the Alberta Pandas and the UBC Thunderbirds as they look to bring the USports National Championship back to the west!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A New Exhibit

One of the things I enjoy doing when traveling is hitting museums and exhibits. While in Chicago a few years back, I went to the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and I was only there for a week! Museums hold a lot of great information and often have amazing exhibits featured at them, so I highly recommend visiting them. The building above is the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, and they are kicking off a major exhibit starting on March 10 that is all about hockey!

I received an invitation to attend the exhibition this week, but you're probably well aware that I don't live anywhere near Quebec. I'm a little disappointed that I can't be there because I think this exhibition is going to be great, but you should be going if you have the means. The exhibition opens on March 10 and runs until October 9, and it will feature all sorts of historic highlight reels, interactive components, and one-of-a-kind artifacts for you to enjoy!

They sent me a great video that gives you a glimpse into the exhibition's vision as they get ready to open it this upcoming weekend. It really focuses on the culture of hockey and how the game is ingrained in our Canadian ways which, as you know, takes us from the rinks in remote lands to the NHL rinks in the middle of cities and every team and every fan that enters those buildings. Here's the video, and I'll talk a little more about this after the video break.
That's a pretty awesome video that takes you across this great land through a number of rinks, and that's exactly what the Hockey exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History will celebrate! Being that I cannot be there, I've taken it upon myself to find a correspondent in the Ottawa region, and I'm hoping that the Canadian Museum of History will accept this person in my place. I have full faith that this correspondent will report back with a good write-up and great photos, so HBIC will try to have that posted next Friday for you. If you are on the fence about visiting the exhibit, hopefully next week's article will prompt you to go visit!

If you're more into social media accounts, I hope you'll follow the Canadian Museum of History's various accounts to get updates and information on the exhibit as well. You can find them at:

TWITTER - @MusCanHistoire and @CanMusHistory.

FACEBOOK - MusCanHistoire and CanMusHistory.

INSTAGRAM - MusCanHistoire and CanMusHistory.

I really hope you'll take a trip to Gatineau before October 9 to see this exhibit. It sounds like it will be a celebration of all things hockey in Canada, and that should make all Canadians proud of the Canadian Museum of History!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!