Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Legends On Ice

It was an amazing day. Yes, I spent the majority of it helping people at the Reebok tent in Spectator Plaza, but the day ended with me watching the Alumni Game, seeing Teemu Selanne score a pair of goals, and skating on the same ice as the greatest collection of Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. There was a bit of a problem that the NHL should probably address regarding its policies and the security team they employed, but I'll explain that below. Right now, it's all about the Oilers and Jets alumni, my experiences, and the fantastic end to an already-incredible day!

Seeing the legends that I grew up watching on the ice again can only be described as surreal. Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Coffey, Anderson, Tikkanen, and Lowe were the backbone of the dominant Oilers dynasty of the 1980s, and standing across from there were names like Hawerchuk, McBain, Babych, Kyte, and Steen who were the foot soldiers that Winnipeg sent out to dethrone these mighty foes. Winnipeg, however, got some help from some the stars of the 1990s such as Selanne, Olczyk, King, and Eagles as the Jets assembled a nice mix of players from the 1980s and 1990s on their roster. Whether or not that roster would be good enough to dispatch the former "glory days" Oilers on this Saturday was yet to be seen.

Here's the thing, though: it didn't matter. Everyone was here to watch the legends they grew up watching in the old Smythe Division come together in celebration of what they did, of the future they helped to pave, and of the memories that came flooding back to the 38,000 people in attendance. This was about watching an all-star game that featured all our favorite players from a time when the hometown team was everything and the "evil" Oilers had to lose.

Smiles were big. Laughter was had. The twinkles in each player's eyes could have lit up the stadium on their own as the players took to the ice in a roar of approval from the crowd. While there was anticipation for the biggest stars, players who were never heralded as the fastest, the most skilled, the most dependable, or, simply, the greatest were suddenly everyone's favorite players. This game was as much about the players giving more memories to the fans as it was about the fans giving their heroes one last cheer for making their childhood memories so vivid.

Selanne scored. Kris King scored. Dale Hawerchuk scored. Mark Messier got one back. Mike Eagles might have scored his most memorable goal as a Jet. After 20 minutes of play, the Jet led 4-1 over the Oilers as the home team appeared to be having too much fun out on the ice. However, like their teams of the 1980s, these Oilers were not to be counted out. Craig Simpson, Mark Messier, and Craig McTavish all tallied goals in the second period to tie the game at 4-4 through 40 minutes, and it was down to one period of play to determine a winner.

BJ MacDonald put the Oilers up midway through the third period, but former Jets captain and current VP of Hockey Operations Kris King went to the net and found the back of the net off a great feed from Teemu Selanne, and we were tied again at 5-5. Would we see overtime? No, we would not as Craig Simpson hauled down Teemu Selanne with 3.6 seconds to play, and the Finnish Flash sniped the game-winner through Curtis Joseph's five-hole to give the Jets alumni the 6-5 win! All your highlights are below!
Ok, it's rant time and here's where I have a problem. I was stopped by security at the entry gate where they informed me that I was not allowed to bring in any camera that "had a detachable lens or had a lens longer than three inches". According to the security guard, this is a True North Sports and Entertainment rule that is also in effect at MTS Centre, and that they were told to strictly enforce the rule at Investors Group Field. According to the MTS Centre website,
Professional cameras are prohibited at all events in MTS Centre unless accompanied by appropriate facility media credentials. Video cameras, audio recorders, iPads or other tablets are also prohibited unless specifically approved on an event-by-event basis. MTS Centre will not check cameras or tablets for guests at events where such items are prohibited so patrons will be required to return them to their vehicle or stored elsewhere off-site. Still (non-professional) point and shoot cameras are allowed for Winnipeg Jets hockey games and certain other specified events (the use of flash is prohibited). Cameras with detachable lenses and/or ones that do not fit in a standard pant pocket will be prohibited. Venue reserves the right to determine acceptable size or type of camera and prohibit entry at their sole discretion. Camera policies for entertainment events can vary by artist and event type, and specific restrictions are not always known in advance. If unsure of camera policy for an event, enquiries can be made by calling (204) 987-7825.
I could probably accept this had this policy actually been enforced for all spectators. Instead, I took three steps inside Investors Group Field after having returned my camera to my car only to find a spectator without media credentials using his Canon camera with a clearly detachable zoom lens! What in the holy hell is going on here, TNSE? It's stuff like this that infuriates me as a fan because I miss out on giving you a picture of what the game looked like from my seat. If you read my article last week about the trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul, the Minnesota Wild had no issues with my camera, and the photos were pretty incredible to see! Get your act together, TNSE. People want to capture the memories of events like this.

Outside of this one major pain in the rear, the entire day was incredible. I never would have guessed that I would see the likes of Teemu Selanne, Dale Hawerchuk, and Mark Messier score goals at my age today, but the Heritage Classic event allowed me to see my hockey idols once more, perhaps for the last time, on ice. If this is the last time I see Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Hawerchuk, Olczyk, and Selanne on the ice in Winnipeg, I can happily say I saw the guys I watched growing up defeat one of the greatest teams of all-time!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Next Three Days

While the title of this article is the same as a Russell Crowe movie, I assure you there will be no appearances from the Mystery, Alaska star. I have spent a vast number of days on the road this month, and I finally arrive back home only to spend the next three days working outdoors at the Heritage Classic Spectator Plaza! I'm sure I'm going to be exhausted after this weekend, but I happily accepted a position in the Reebok tent where I'm sure there will be many people who visit. What will I be doing? I can only explain it - I wasn't allowed to take pictures - so I'll do my best in walking you through what the tent and plaza will offer!

We'll start on the right side nearest the entrance. With Tim Hortons as the key sponsor of the Heritage Classic, there is a spot where the Canadian coffee company will hand out free warm beverages that consist of hot coffee and hot chocolate. Both have become staples of the Canadian hockey culture, so there's no surprise here on either choice that Tim Hortons is offering.

It also appears that Tim Hortons will be offering up a booth where those who are collecting the Upper Deck Tim Hortons hockey cards can acquire a specially-designed album for the card set. I haven't seen said album, but they were loading boxes into the tent and they had a few out, so I assume that's what may have been happening. I also assume there is some sort of card exchange there, but I didn't have time to stop and chat with these people. They were busy, and so were we!

The next tent was occupied by Fantasy Scoreboards. These scoreboards will display the game info from whichever team one selects for every game from what I understood. I get that some man-caves may require a scoreboard, but isn't that why you watch the game? Anyway, they had scoreboards for a number of teams and it appears they know their stuff when it comes to their products. They have a slick presentation.

The Reebok tent is up next, and it's where I am spending the weekend. There's a cool opportunity for fans to have the Heritage Classic clothing and jerseys superimposed over their own clothes for a photo, and then that photo can be texted to a cell phone! It takes some maneuvering to get the superimposed clothing just right, but it actually looks pretty cool when everything "fits" properly. There's also a cool virtual hockey game where one can partake in a skills competition or two players can play an air hockey game using real sticks! How cool is that? We didn't get to play much today, but this appears to be one of the more high-tech booths at Spectator Plaza.

Honda has a pile of stuff to do in the next tent, and they appear to be giving away all the goods as well. They were hauling in bags and sunglasses and other assorted boxes of stuff, so it appears that there's a chance to win something with their target practice game. Needless to say, you're probably going to want to get your free gear from Honda if you stop by their tent.

At the end of the row is the Rogers Fan Hub where there's a pile of Rogers-based stuff to do. You can have your face on a magazine, you can get a virtual autograph, and there's a virtual reality setup. It's a pretty solid assortment of things to do, and it's warm inside the trailer if it happens to get cold! That's always a bonus!

As one turns the corner, there's the main stage where Sum 41 will play on Sunday. It appears that there's enough room for a good crowd to gather in front of the stage, so there could be a heckuva lot of people watching the band play this weekend. They were testing the video screens by running a top-20 outdoor game moments as well, and there's some great images and history in that video compilation!

Past the beverage vendor is the Molson Canadian bubble hockey station. It is literally a bubble that one can enter and play some two-on-two hockey inside! How cool is that? The guys setting it up appeared to be using it more as protection from the rain, but the idea of playing inside the bubble in a two-on-two game sounds like a blast!

Next to the bubble hockey game were the food trucks. Nothing special here: chicken wings, wraps, poutine, and beer. In other words, standard Canadian hockey food when it comes to watching the game with friends!

The Winnipeg Jets had a little stand at the end of the middle row with various facts about the Jets to which kids could compare themselves. There was a 6'6" Blake Wheeler height chart, Dustin Byfuglien's death grip, and Mark Scheifele's sprint or something to those effects. It appears that the Jets will be looking for their next diamond in the rough with these challenges!

On the left side, Scotiabank had a pretty awesome igloo set up where one could get a 360° image of some sort. They weren't allowing anyone inside, so I assume this is some sort of new-fangled technology. Or simply a panoramic setup of cameras. Either way, the Scotiabank igloo is something I want to check out at some point this weekend.

Hershey brought out a ton of Reese peanut butter cups, but they weren't being given away. Instead, there appeared to be Reese cake - chocolate cake with icing and Reese's Pieces on top - and the new Reese's snack mix. Honestly, the sweet and savory snack was good! Reese mini peanut butter cups with peanuts and pretzel pieces? Yeah, that's good eats. I'm gonna partake in more of those this weekend.

And last, but certainly not least, there was a ball hockey rink set up that used the rules of pond hockey. It appeared that multiple people could play at the same time, and there were a pair of rinks ready to go. I'm not sure I'll get in there, but there will most likely be street hockey games happening all weekend long!

The NHL Alumni Game goes tomorrow while the Heritage Classic game goes Sunday. I'll have more updates as the weekend progresses! I am going to the Alumni Game, so expect a full recap about the legends playing in the game! If you're in Winnipeg for the game, stop by the Reebok tent and say hi! I'll be there all weekend as well!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Hockey Show - Episode 213

Whoa, check out that banner! The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is on the air tonight with a special guest and a special show as we hunker down for UMFM's Pledge-O-Rama fundraising drive! We'll get to the show info in a minute, but Pledge-O-Rama is always a big deal for the station and for our show. All of the funds raised goes back into doing cool things like acquiring the mobile units being used for Bisons Sports broadcasts and at festivals across this great province. This year, all of the monies raised is going to a new transmitter so that UMFM remains loud, clear, and stronger than ever in our community and across the globe via the online options. All we ask is that if you like our show, please pledge whatever you can. It doesn't have to be a dump truck full of money or anything - although that would be awesome - but every nickel, loonie, quarter, and dime really goes a long way!

Tonight, we are proud, humbled, privileged, and humbled to welcome a woman I've known for a long time and someone I am proud to call my friend in Rhonda Galloway! Rhonda is an amazing photographer who has done some incredible artwork that has been nominated for awards! While her body of work stands on its own, she's also married to NHL linesman Ryan Galloway who will be in Winnipeg working the Heritage Classic this weekend! We'll talk to Rhonda about her life, her photography, her business, being nominated for a photography award, and much more! Rhonda and Ryan have also made a special bond with the Delaloye family after Ryan and Rhonda met the family, and we'll bring you some special news about Alyx Delaloye on tonight's show! It's going to be a great Pledge-O-Rama show, so tune in!

If you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else in the social media world, that's ok. However, you've missed the announcements on what's happening surrounding Pledge-O-Rama and our show. Pledges to the station will get you some cool UMFM gear. What kind of gear, you ask? Well...
... there are two different t-shirts this year, our annual Transmissions compilation CD, a canteen, a mug, some embroidered patches, and some ear plugs for those loud concerts, crying kids, or any other noise you want to block out. There are various pledge levels where you can acquire these incentives, so I recommend you check all the incentive levels to get what you want!

On top of that, The Hockey Show is running a week-long pledge prize draw! For every $25 incremental pledge you make to The Hockey Show, you will receive one entry into our prize draw. These prizes are added to the incentives above, so this is a pretty solid add-on if you're already pledging at an incentive level! So what do we have to offer up, you ask?
  • Hosting the show on December 8 where you run The Hockey Show and talk hockey!
  • Artwork from Rhonda Galloway (and it's pretty incredible)!
  • A Fast Air/St. Paul Tourism gift pack!
  • A signed copy of the Hockey Karma graphic novel from Howard Shapiro which will be released in bookstores on November 1!
  • UofM Bisons t-shirts and mugs!
  • Anything else in The Hockey Show shwag bag! There's an assortment of t-shirts, books, signed pucks, and more, so we're literally giving it all away!
Remember, this isn't just during the hour we're on the air tonight. You can pledge anytime this week to The Hockey Show and be entered into the draw! I realize that it's pay day for some people tomorrow and it would be easier to pledge then for one of the awesome prizes above, so don't feel like you're left out. Pledge whenever you can for whatever amount you can afford because we appreciate your support! And if you live out of town, use the online pledge form to help us out. You may not live in Winnipeg, but you're part of the UMFM community and The Hockey Show appreciates your support and listenership!

If you're a proud owner of an iPad, iPod, or iPhone AND want to listen to The Hockey Show, you can easily listen to the show by downloading the UMFM app! Just follow this link on your iDevice and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show!

If you're an Android user, we've had the app out for a few weeks already so you should already have it on your phone or tablet. You do have it, right? What do you mean you don't have it? Why not? Look, get yourself on the right path by following this link and getting the Android app so you can listen too!

You can also 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're all about raising money, meeting Rhonda, updates on Alyx, the Heritage Classic on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

No Fin(n)ish Jokes

When the top-two draft picks from last year's NHL Entry Draft deflect all questions about them meeting in their first NHL game, you know that both are focused on winning hockey games. The Toronto Maple Leafs visited the MTS Centre tonight to meet the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets were certainly floundering after having been thumped by a Boston team a couple of days earlier after the Bruins were hammered by the Leafs on Saturday. Needless to say, both young teams needed their best players to show up tonight and play well. And we got a helluva performance from one of those players tonight at the Phone Booth in downtown Winnipeg.

I will admit that things looked bleak after the Maple Leafs built a 4-0 lead through the first 30 minutes of the game. The Jets looked confused, discombobulated, and entirely lost at times. The Leafs, meanwhile, went about their business methodically as head coach Mike Babcock had laid out, and the results were fairly evident on the scoreboard.

And then Mark Scheifele woke up. Scheifele has arguably been one of the best Jets in the early going this season, and his setup to Tyler Myers was reminiscent of Scheifele's confident play from late last season. As the top-line centerman, he is expected to carry a load, perhaps even a larger load with Bryan Little out, and he certainly made a great play to Myers to break the shutout. The Jets, though, still trailed by three goals with only 20 minutes to play.

And then the kid woke up. Patrik Laine, whose shooting skills and goal-scoring ability were lauded up to, during, and after the draft, suddenly figured out Fredrik Andersen as he scored his second goal of the season just under the crossbar just 1:00 into the period.
That's a heckuva shot, and Laine's goal made it 4-2. Mark Scheifele, who I mentioned above, added his third goal of the season at 6:05 of the third period. Suddenly, we had a game on out hands, and you could feel the momentum shift on the Scheifele goal as the Jets seemed to get a burst of energy while the Leafs appeared to be back on their heels.

And then Laine hit the scoresheet again with his biggest NHL goal yet as he tied the game with 55 seconds to play!
Ehlers finds Patrik Laine in his familiar spot that we've seen him occupy so many times before, and Laine made no mistake in burying the shot to tie the game at 4-4 with the power-play goal. Clearly, the kid can score goals if he gets into shooting locations on the ice. It's just up to the Jets to find him in those locations on the ice when the stick is in the air.

Auston Matthews, who had an assist in this game, was relatively quiet up to this point, but he had a chance in overtime to end this game. On the breakaway, however, he was stopped by Michael Hutchinson, and that led to the following sequence.
Holy jumpin'! Notice who was chasing Laine up the ice while looking gassed? #34 and first-overall pick Auston Matthews. And he got a heckuva look at the winning goal that Laine wristed past Andersen for his first NHL hat trick, his first NHL overtime goal, and first NHL game-winning goal. Not a bad night for the second-overall pick at all!

They say the NHL is becoming a young man's game. Tonight's scoresheet showed this. Check out the names of the goal-scorers: Carrick, Kadri, Nylander, Myers, Scheifele, and Laine. The oldest player in all those names is Tyler Myers who is 26 years old, some eight months older than Nazim Kadri. Let's not forget about all the other young players on these two rosters either as players like Connor, Morrissey, Lowry, Zaitsev, Marner, and Matthews all played major roles for their teams.

These two teams have bright futures in the next few seasons if these players keep electrifying crowds and fans. While there will be some struggles this season and possibly next season, there is no doubt that these two teams have the horses to be dangerous in the future.

Tonight's game, though, was a heckuva a Finnish finish.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Metal Ligaen Under Siege

The above image is quite appropriate considering the wreckage that has been left behind in the Metal Ligaen. The Aalborg Pirates, a team I introduced you to back in July, is currently sacking the league like only pirates could as they've escaped eight contests with 23 points - one short of perfection. Coached by Brandon Reid, the Aalborg Pirates aren't laying waste to their opponent, though. No, Reid has them playing what can only be called "playoff hockey" in October as six of eight games have been decided by one goal. The key in this statistic, though, is that the Pirates are 6-for-6 in one-goal games already in this season. If Reid is looking to have a playoff-ready team for the end of the season, starting early might prove beneficial when it comes to building resolve in his players!

The only point missed by the Pirates thus far came back on October 4 when the Herning Blue Fox took the Pirates into overtime tied in scoreless draw. A shootout would be needed, and the Pirates got goals from Peter Quenneville and Christopher Frederiksen while 28 year-old French netminder Ronan Quemener stopped both Herning shots to secure the win for Aalborg. There hasn't been a start in the Metal Ligaen in some time of this caliber, and it seems that Brandon has the team sailing in the right direction!

Today, with their eighth win in eight games, the Pirates took down reigning Danish champions Esbjerg in a 2-1 final. While other teams have more talented rosters on paper, it seems that Brandon Reid has really brought this collection of players together quickly. Because of their quick start this season, the Pirates have a nine-point cushion on the second-place Rodovre Mighty Bulls, a team they beat on October 11 by a 4-1 score. For a team that went 14-24-3-4 last season, the fans in Aalborg are quickly endearing themselves to this plucky squad this season.

Before we start handing out awards and trophies, there is evidence that there is still work to be done. That could be seen in the October 14 game against last-place Herlev where the Pirates jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before squandering those leads. The Pirates would push back to take the game by a 5-4 final score, but it was far from a perfect game according to newspaper reports. While is seems this young team suffers from the occasional lapse of concentration on the ice, they are getting the job done by the time the final horn sounds!

So who is making all the noise on this Pirates team? American Andrew Blazek and Canadian Peter Quenneville both have nine points on the season, and trail former NHL star Fabian Brunnström by two points for the overall lead. Quenneville plays on the top line for Aalborg, and has really seen his game take off playing alongside the aforementioned Frederiksen and centerman Julian Jakobsen. It's Blazek, however, who has really looked impressive after jumping from the ECHL to Aalborg. The defenceman is creating all sorts of chances for his team, and players such as Sebastien Ehlers and Martin Hojbjerg are benefiting greatly. The Pirates have a balanced attack, and are using that balance to throw teams off their defensive strategies early on in this season.

Perhaps the biggest surprise out of the team is goaltender Ronan Quemener. He suited up for France at the 2011 IIHF World Championship and most recently played for the Swedish second-division team Asplöven HC. In 46 games with Asplöven last season, Quemener was 17-25-0 with a 2.99 GAA and a .905 save percentage - hardly anything to write home about from a struggling second-division team. He was, however, the French League's rookie of the year 2009-10 and the French League's top goaltender in 2010-11 with Gap Rapaces before joining Grenoble Brûleurs de Loups and winning two French League championships. Maybe he's not so bad after all?

I would say that question can be answered with his stats this season. Quemener is 8-0-0 on the season with a miniscule 1.61 GAA and .937 save percentage. He's given up just 13 goals on 205 shots, and has backstopped Aalborg as the best defensive team in the league thus far. While the adage of "show me a good coach, and I'll show you a good goaltender" might hold true in this small eight-game sample size thus far, I believe that Brandon Reid and his Aalborg Pirates are for real.

The Pirates will be tested in their next two games as they have a home-and-home series with the Frederikshavn White Hawks. The White Hawks sit tied for third-place with 13 points on the strength of a 3-2-2-0 record, but familiarity breeds contempt as the saying goes. The White Hawks get a couple of cracks to see if they can knock the Pirates off their winning ways, and there's a chance they could find a weakness in the league's top defensive team over those two games. The Pirates will have to be ready to play on the 21st and 25th if they hope to make it ten in a row... or should I say X in row. Because X marks the spot!

Don't be surprised if these Pirates roll through your town and pillage and plunder your local Danish hockey team for three points. They're proving their whole is greater than the individual parts on the ship steered by head coach Brandon Reid, and he's got them full-steam ahead on this journey to greatness! Arrr, matey!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!