Saturday, 25 June 2022

The Top Dogs

As a guy who lived in an IHL city for a long time, you never quite lose the animosity that you held for a former rival. That's not to say that the Chicago Wolves aren't still a thorn in the sides of the other AHL teams, but the amount of success that they've had in both the IHL and AHL makes one a little envious of that franchise. Tonight, they added to their legacy as the Chicago Wolves earned their third Calder Cup since joining the AHL in 2001 by downing the Springfield Thunderbirds in five games. To the victors go the spoils, but this was an exceptional season by a very good team.

This was the first time since 2019 that the Calder Cup was awarded after the league decided to cancel both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons due to the pandemic, and it was the first time new AHL President and CEO Scott Howson was able to present the Calder Cup as well. The Carolina Hurricanes will celebrate a second-straight Calder Cup championship thanks to the Charlotte Checkers winning in 2019, so there were a number of changes since the last time the Calder Cup was awarded despite the Wolves still exhibiting championship-quality hockey as they seem to do annually.

Alex Lyon was stellar once more in the Chicago net, making 28 stops for his second shutout in the 4-0 win as his playoff record improved to 9-3 while sporting a 2.03 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He allowed just 25 goals in the 12 games he played as the former Philadelphia Flyers netminder looked impressive throughout the postseason. Chicago was bolstered by the arrival of Pyotr Kochetkov after Carolina was eliminated in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he went 5-1 with a 1.65 GAA and a .950 save percentage to give the Wolves an impressive netminding tandem.

Former Maple Leafs forward Josh Leivo was named as the Jack A Butterfield Trophy winner as playoff MVP as his 15 goals and 29 points in postseason were tops in the AHL. Leivo scored in the Game Five victory and was one of the best players on the ice every night that Chicago took the ice, so being named as the AHL's best player in the playoffs wasn't surprising. While Leivo's opportunities with the Hurricanes were limited, I suspect a handful of teams will come calling this summer during free agency.

Another free agent that may entice NHL general managers is Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski. Poturalski recorded 101 points in 71 AHL games this season before tacking on another 23 points in the playoffs, and he was noticeable throughout the entire playoffs. Alongside him is former Devils and Sharks forward Stefan Noesen whose 85-point regular season was followed by another 25 points in the playoffs. Both Poturalski and Noesen are free agents this summer, and they too should be fielding calls from NHL general managers.

I'd expect Carolina to promote Jack Drury next season after his impressive playoff showing. The 22 year-old centerman had a solid 52 points in the regular season, but kicked it into another gear in the Calder Cup Playoffs as he scored 24 points. Drury might only be scratching the surface of his potential with his breakout postseason performance, but it would seem he's made for the run-and-gun Hurricanes if they needed a replacement for a player like Martin Necas or Vincent Trochek. This could be his time after winning the Calder Cup.

Defensively, Max Lajoie led the way in goals with four from the blue line while Joey Keane led the way with 12 points. Both are restricted free agents for the Hurricanes, but I'd suspect that Don Waddell may want to start clearing space for them as both players looked more like seasoned veterans rather a 24 year-old and a 22 year-old, respectively. Both players could step in nicely in place of outgoing free agents Ian Cole and Brendan Smith.

I can't imagine head coach Ryan Warsofsky not being contacted after leading the Wolves to the Calder Cup and the AHL's best record this season. After 50 wins and 115 points this season, Warsofsky has amassed a record of 105-47-18 over three seasons with the Wolves as he's proven time and again he's one of the brightest head coaches in the AHL. His resumé also includes a trip to the Kelly Cup Final in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays in 2016-17, so it's pretty clear that Warsofsky knows how to get the most out of his players. Because of this, I suspect Warsofsky will be a target for teams needing a change behind the bench.

Chicago's fifth championship in the IHL and AHL and third exclusively in the AHL saw them defeat Rockford, Milwaukee, Stockton, and Springfield to capture this year's Calder Cup. Oddly enough, Chicago defeated Milwaukee and Rockford - in that order - to advance to the Conference Finals in 2008. Milwaukee missed the playoffs in 2001 and Rockford didn't exist until 2007, so the similarities between 2001 and 2022 are non-existant, but it's kind of weird to see the same two teams defeated, albeit in different rounds, in both of Chicago's most recent championships.

In any case, congratulations to the Chicago Wolves, your 2022 Calder Cup Champions, and I suspect that a number of these players will either be in Carolina's lineup in the near future or some other NHL team's lineup for the unrestricted free agents! If you're looking for quality players, the AHL is where to look and the Chicago Wolves have a pile of them who can all be called 2022 AHL Champions!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 24 June 2022

Updating The Crown

I normally have nothing to write about when it comes to the ACAC being that HBIC Headquarters is two provinces to the east. The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference is a significantly important league when it comes to Canada West hockey history, though, as that league has graduated the likes of the Lethbridge Pronghorns, the Mount Royal Cougars, and, most recently, the MacEwan Griffins to the U SPORTS level. To say that ACAC hasn't had an effect on U SPORTS and Canada West hockey would be similar to saying that the IHL had no effect on the AHL: it's simply not true.

One team that had applied for university status, like the three listed in the previous paragraph, was Red Deer College as they looked to elevate their status across the nation by applying to become a university one year ago. They were instead granted the status of a "polytechnic school" by the Alberta government through this reclassification process. As a result, Red Deer College changed its name last summer to Red Deer Polytechnic, but their sports teams still needed an update to reflect their new school status.

While we await the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens hockey team to update their look, the men debuted their new look yesterday and it seems that the Kings will look good in their new threads next season!

Ok, there's a lot to unpack on the new look for the Kings, but this Dallas Stars-esque design works fairly nicely. It's clean, the jerseys look like hockey jerseys, and the logo isn't some overly elaborate design. If the Red Deer Polytechnic was following the KISS concept - "Keep It Simple, Stupid" - they achieved a good look in their new design according to this writer.

According to the release put out by Red Deer Polytechnic, "[f]eedback from two virtual Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics Engagement Sessions, along with responses from a public online survey during Winter 2022 Term were used to help shape the creation of the updated logo, which remains a Crown."

As the title of this article states, if your sports teams are called the "Kings" and Queens", a crown would be a very good choice of a logo. Not changing the logo, in this case, means a update would be needed and Red Deer Polytechnic went far simpler without abandoning the important elements. As you can see on the old logo, the detailing would make recreating the logo a bit of an effort if there were layouts needed for silk screening on merchandise. The new logo, though, is fairly easy to recreate, and the three points still create a crown-like design. Is it perfect? No, but it accomplishes the job with far less intricate design. If we're keeping it simple, Red Deer Polytechnic hits the mark with the logo redesign.

"The new Red Deer Polytechnic brand was unveiled on October 1, 2021, and this included a new logo," Kristine Plastow, Dean of Students, said in the release. "As a result of the changes, the brands of the Polytechnic and Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics were not aligned, so we engaged with stakeholders to better connect the two. With the bold and modern features of the updated Crown, along with the single green colour, the relationship between the two brands is now strongly correlated."

Design rhetoric aside, the jerseys follow the same green colour idea as Red Deer Polytechnic goes from a primarily white-and-black uniform design to one that is white-and-green. Automatically, this gets a massive thumbs-up from me due to my wanting more green on uniforms along with the retirement of the black uniforms as primary uniforms, but the new home and road uniforms look more like traditional hockey sweaters with their hem stripes, sleeve stripes, and the shoulder yoke on the white jersey. These upgrades to the design of the jersey along with the colour change are a positive upgrade in my books.

The only thing I don't like? That number font. That doesn't fit the uniforms at all, so let's hope they come up with something a little more regal for the Kings and Queens on these uniforms.

What shouldn't be forgotten, though, is that Red Deer Polytechnic can keep the black uniforms as an alternate or throwback uniform if they wish. Being that the Kings have played in some special games, the alternates black uniform can be brought out for those games if they wish, giving the Kings a complete hockey closet of jerseys. They have options here with the new uniform set, so why not use them all?

If you have a couple minutes to spare, Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics also made a quick video that shows all of their logos and history. There are some rather terrible designs in their history, but there are some that are good too. In short, they have a fun history with their sports teams, and this video highlights some of that fun!

Overall, I think this is an excellent rebranding for the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings men's hockey program. They didn't go overboard, they went more colourful, and they look like traditional hockey uniforms. One has to wonder if the women will wear the same design as the men, but they wouldn't lose any points if they did since this is a solid rebrand for Red Deer. Thumbs-up from this writer, and I can't wait to see the Kings on the ice in their new uniforms for the 2022-23 ACAC hockey season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Hockey Show - Episode 509

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back on the UMFM airwaves tonight with some splendiferous hockey talk! Ok, that was simply an excuse to use the word "splendiferous" in a blog post, but, now that I've accomplished that feat, we'll get into some serious hockey talk tonight based on what's been happening in Ottawa this week. No, it has nothing to do with the Senators or their quest for a downtown arena, but that may get mentioned as well. Hockey Canada's in front of the House of Commons, and we'll break down all the legal manoeuvring!

With Hockey Canada under investigation, Teebz and Jason will look at what was said, what was alleged, and some of the fall-out already seen from the Canadian government's examination of Hockey Canada's handling and settlement of a sexual assault case. Needless to say, there were a lot of things revealed by Hockey Canada in the past week that were unsettling, so we'll unpackage all of that. Beyond that serious discussion, there was a CanWest signing in Sweden, the Stanley Cup Final continues, we're looking for a winner in the "Guess The Bison" contest, we'll attempt an exit interview with Bryan S. once again, the Canada West hockey schedule was released, and we'll try to squeeze in a pile of other news. It's another crazy show, so tune in at 5:30pm CT so you can hear The Hockey Show on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

If you live outside Winnipeg and want to listen, we have options! The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online so you cnn call in for the contest as well. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Jason chat about being in hot water, being down in a series, moving halfway around the world, getting set to travel, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

The Most Canadian Grand Prix

If you haven't been following trends in the sports world, you might be surprised to see HBIC writing about the F1 racing world today. As per ESPN's numbers, 2021 saw the most fans tune into an F1 season ever on American television with some 934,000 viewers per race - a 54 percent increase over 2020. Those viewership numbers are staggering in terms of the overall growth, but it speaks volumes in the power of marketing and investing in the coverage of the sport. With the Canadian Grand Prix being raced this past Sunday, today is all about the most Canadian method of racing starring a guy who was a big star in La Belle Province!

Max Verstappen won this past weekend's race in Montreal with a time of 1:36:21.757 in completing 70-laps of the 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. He wasn't involved in the most Canadian of races, though, as former Canadiens defenceman PK Subban invited drivers Sergio "Checo" Perez and Yuki Tsunoda along with Olympic Gold medalist and snowboard legend Seb Toots to run a time trial in a vehicle very familiar to Canadians: a Zamboni ice resurfacer!

Red Bull Racing sponsored this fun exercise deemed "the slowest time trial ever" as the three men navigated the race course on a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine. Settle in for some laughs because this race is all about maximum speed - 9 miles per hour as per Zamboni's information - and expert steering through some tight turns!

Obviously, this is a fun way to sell the F1 racing scene to hockey fans, but I have no idea what accolades Sergio "Checo" Perez and Yuki Tsunoda have accumulated in their careers. I also didn't watch this past weekend's race, and, if we're going for full disclosure, I didn't even know it was being held this past weekend. My total knowledge of F1 racing can be held within a thimble, and there'd still be room left over.

What I do know is that this a fun way to promote the Canadian Grand Prix in a city that loves its hockey and its hockey heroes. What I do know is that both Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda did not finish the race on Sunday, so there was no celebrating two victories in Montreal for Sergio Perez. Both men will leave Montreal empty-handed after Tsunoda finished off the top of the podium and Perez's trophy mishap.

Red Bull won't leave Montreal too disappointed, though, as Max Verstappen is a Red Bull Racing driver, and he claimed the checkered flag this past weekend! Beyond that, I'd say they also successfully pulled off the first-ever Canadian Grand Prix time trial on Zamboni ice resurfacing machines in F1 history!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Body Contact Is Hazardous

For years, Don Cherry made a ton of cash off packaging and selling physicality in the form of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Hockey videos. One has to wonder how many of those teeth-rattling and bone-crushing hits rattled teeth, broke bones, and resulted in concussions, but there's no way to know unless we can examine those players' brains for CTE and their bodies and skeletons for scars. I've heard the arguments that hitting in hockey should start earlier, should start later, should be banned altogether, and every variation in between, but we may now have conclusive evidence that one of those opinions is correct thanks to work done by the University of Calgary.

From 2015-16 until 2017-28, the University of Calgary's Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre ran a study that followed 608 non-elite minor hockey players from bodychecking divisions in Calgary, Airdrie, and Edmonton to track injuries and concussions in players who engaged in three-or-more years of bodychecking compared to 396 players from Calgary, Vancouver, and Kelowna who had two years or less of checking. One may think that exposing players earlier to checking would result in better preparation and less injuries after learning how to throw and receive a bodycheck, but anyone thinking that would be very wrong.

According to the study, "[t]he rate of injury was 62% lower and rate of concussion was 51% lower in leagues not permitting body checking." That's a significant statistic when one considers the developing brains and bodies of players between the ages of 15-17, and it's one that's hard to ignore when it comes to minor hockey and the age when players start to throw checks. If parents of players knew they could reduce the rate of injuries by 62% simply by removing hitting, why would anyone vote to have players throwing checks?

"This is just further evidence in support of removing body checking in youth ice hockey to help prevent injuries," Paul Eliason, a post-doctoral fellow in the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, told the CBC.

The study was actually started after Hockey Canada had removed hitting in the U13 level of hockey, and they were worried that more players were being injured from bodychecks as they got older by not having that experience. Based on the findings that players with three-or-more years of hitting experience suffered a much higher rate of injuries and concussions, I'd say that Hockey Canada's decision was the right one.

The study itself broke down the numbers even further as "it looked at the rates of all types of injuries, injuries that resulted in more than seven days off the ice, and concussions." The findings show that "players who had more checking experience were injured or concussed more than 2½ times the rate of the less experienced players. And the most common injury was a concussion — regardless of experience — making up more than a third of the injuries."

You might think player size or weight or position would factor into the results, but the study "didn't find any notable difference in injuries or concussions based on weight, or player position". In short, it doesn't matter whether players are tall, small, big, little, forwards, defenders, or goalies when it comes to bodychecking and the high rate of injuries for those who start earlier.

The only attribute that seemed to matter when it came to the rate of injuries was hockey skill. The study found that "lesser skilled players were injured nearly 1½ times more often than the better skilled, elite players who represented the top 20 per cent." A lot of that skill is based on the ability to skate well, so it might be more important to ensure that your son can skate better than he hits.

Eliason is quick to point out that we shouldn't cherry-pick from the findings when it comes to the safety of players.

"The take home still needs to be that really we're just showing here that more experience isn't protective, which is what the belief is in the hockey community," said Eliason.

If checking is removed from bantam hockey altogether, the end result would be less injuries and less concussions. If we're talking about players who are 15-17 years of age, these are important years where grades can matter when it comes to academic scholarships and stats on the ice can matter when it comes to athletic scholarships. Injuries, specifically concussions, can derail both of those opportunities, so it might be a good idea if we hold off exposing players to bodychecking at the bantam level if injuries occur 62% less and concussions happen 51% less.

I'm not in charge of any provincial hockey associations, but this study should be something that all associations should be reading. If they want kids to remain in hockey longer, reducing the potential for injuries and concussions is an easy fix that can be made and it might lead to more elite hockey players competing at higher levels. That last segment - "more elite hockey players" - is what every hockey association wants.

I doubt this study will land on the desks of those who make these decisions, though. Instead, it will be debated and dismissed by those who believe that teaching bodychecking earlier does, in fact, make the game safer despite the study conclusively proving it does not. No one is suggesting that hitting be removed from the game, but just starting it later in players' careers once they leave bantam hockey.

It seems pretty elementary to me. But I'm a nobody.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!