Saturday, 15 December 2018

Germany Moves Up

It's always bittersweet to see the teams who qualify to move from IIHF U20 Division 1 World Championship to the main tournament. Often, those teams have players who will have aged out of the tournament the following year when they make their appearance, likely making that team one of the two who play to avoid regulation. It's a bit of an unfair cycle, but this is the reality we live in when it comes to the promotion of teams for an annual tournament. The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place in Ostrava and Třinec, Czech Republic, and a familiar foe will return to the big tournament after winning the Division 1 tournament that took place over the last week in Fussen, Germany. And this team will have returning players who can participate next year as well!

The six teams who competed in the 2019 IIHF U20 Division 1 World Championship in Fussen included host Germany, France, Latvia, Belarus, Norway, and Austria. Latvia and Belarus are often up and down in terms of being included in the top tournament, but Germany is always a surprise in needing promotion after years of success at the U20 level. They had struggled the last three years at this event, failing to gain promotion over countries like Denmark, Kazakhstan, and the Latvia.

In 2020, the tournament in the Czech Republic will feature a German squad once more after they claimed promotion in their home country!

It didn't look like this outcome would happen at the start of the week as Germany barely squeaked by Austria in a 3-2 shootout victory. Germany held a 2-1 lead through two periods before Austria tied the game, sending this one to overtime. With nothing solved there, the shootout was necessary. The two teams traded goals in Rounds Two and Four before Austria's Niklas Wurschl mishandled the puck in Round Five, setting up Germany for a possible win. Alexander Ehl made no mistake in beating Austria's Paul Mocher, and Germany claimed the shootout win for two points in the tournament.

Perhaps that game against Austria was the wake-up call that Germany needed because they came out on December 10 and played some solid hockey in shutting out Norway by a 4-0 score. Taro Jentzsch, Tim Brunnhuber with a pair of goals, and Justin Schutz tallied all the offence for the Germans who limited the Norwegians to just 17 shots in the game compared to the 35 they fired at the Norway net. With the regulation-time win, Germany moved to five points, but still trailed the 2-0-0-0 Belorussians in the standings.

December 12 saw Latvia as Germany's opponent, and this game was played much like the Norway game. Tim Brunnhuber, Nicolas Appendino, Marco Bassler, and Dennis Lobach staked Germany to the 4-0 lead before a late power-play goal by Latvia broke Hendrik Hane's shutout, but Germany still claimed the 4-1 victory. The victory kept the Germans on pace with Belarus who won their third-straight game with a 5-0 win over Austria, so it appeared that these two teams would decide the tournament when they met the very next day.

Thursday's game showed just how ready Germany may be to take on the world's best. It was 3-0 within the first 12 minutes of the game for the Germans with Justin Schutz, Marco Bassler, and Tim Wohlgemuth scoring in a 4:38 span to put the Germans way out in front to end Andrei Grishenko's night in the Belorussian net at 11:54. The two teams would trade goals in the middle frame to put Germany ahead 4-1 before Dominik Bokk iced the game with 3:27 to play when he pushed the score to 5-1 with his goal. This victory all but guaranteed promotion as Germany moved to 3-0-1-0 while Belarus fell to 3-1-0-0.

With one game left on the schedule, Germany needed just one point against France to guarantee themselves promotion to the top level in 2020 while Belarus needed to win and have France defeat Germany if they were to advance. Germany had the earlier game, so Belarus would find themselves scoreboard watching as the game began.

The Germans would start the game off right with a power-play goal on their first opportunity from Yannik Valenti to make it 1-0 through 20 minutes of play. Nicolas Appendino made it 2-0 five minutes into the second period before Antonin Plagnat answered back with a power-play goal for France with seven minutes left in the period to make it 2-1. However, Taro Jentzsch restored the two-goal lead just 43 after the French goal to make it 3-1, and Belarus needed France to make a big push in the third period if they had any chance in being promoted.

The only problem was that Germany was on a mission. Taro Jentzsch scored 2:29 into the period and added his third goal for the natural hat trick at 11:37 to make it a 5-1 game. Dennis Lobach added one more goal at 16:56, and the celebration was on as Germany downed France 6-1 to earn the promotion to the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship!

What's key for this team as they make their way back to the top level is that 10 of the 22 players who played in this tournament were born in 2000 or later meaning they'll be eligible to participate in next year's World Junior Championship. That will help Germany immensely as they look to stay in the top group for more than one tournament. Of the players who are eligible to return, they include goaltenders Henrik Hane and Florian Mnich, defenders Niklas Heinzinger, Leon Huttl, and Moritz Seider ('01), and forwards Justin Schutz, Dennis Lobach, Dominik Bokk, Taro Jentzsch, and Yannik Valenti. Yes, a number of those players played large parts in helping this German team get promoted, so it will be interesting to see how they fare next year against the world's best.

Just as a note, the game between Belarus and Latvia that ended up meaning nothing was won by Latvia by a 3-1 score in which the Belorussians simply looked disinterested in playing. I feel for them, but there's still pride and country for which they should be playing. In the end, it seemed the disappointment of missing the chance to be promoted got the better of them.

Congratulations to Germany on their victory and their promotion to the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Třinec, Czech Republic! This might be the best holiday gift these kids have ever received as they can all start preparing for a guaranteed trip to the Czech Republic next Christmas, and I look forward to having Germany back at the big dance next year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 14 December 2018

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

If there's one thing that I see players across a number of sports trying to control, it's those beads of sweat that run down one's forehead and possibly into one's eyes. While we've heard the old adage of "Never let them see you sweat," it happens through body heat and effort as sweat is the body's way of trying to keep one cool. As you might expect, sweating happens while playing sports often, but what if I told you there was an affordable, effective product that can help athletes remain drier than normal while still achieving greatness?

I'd like to introduce you today to NoSweat. NoSweat is a lifestyle brand and manufacturer of products that are 100% USA made and built to increase performance, safety and hygiene for anyone who sweats and wears some type of hat, helmet, visor or hard hat. Founded in 2008 by Justin Johnson and based out of Minneapolis, NoSweat offers a growing, patented line of sweat absorbing solutions.

While this entry may seem like product placement, I assure you that I, along with a high-performance athlete, had a chance to test out a few of the NoSweat liners, and the science is pretty convincing. The NoSweat liners that I tested were worn in a couple of ball caps while I had Bisons women's hockey forward Jordyn Zacharias test the helmet liners as I went looking for these hat and helmet liners to fail in their claim where one can say goodbye to sweat.

First, let's take a look at the pitch NoSweat makes.
They call it "Dri-LID technology" in terms of the sweat absorption qualities, but there isn't much information on what's actually inside the NoSweat liner. That being said, I do know that the NoSweat liners are easy to install, keep one's forehead dry and one's hat from developing those unsightly sweat marks, and don't actually change the way the hat sit on one's head. In other words, they live to their claims.

If there was one drawback in wearing the cap liners while shoveling snow, working around the house, and running errands, it's that the stickiness of the liner can start to fade after time, making a replacement necessary. I suppose that the glue used by NoSweat was never meant to be permanent in the first place, so if this is the only drawback in the product that I found I really have nothing to complain about in the overall review. NoSweat cap liners absorbed the sweat and oils on my forehead, kept my hat looking new, and were unobtrusive and unnoticeable in terms of wearing it.

Beer league hockey sometimes doesn't give me the heavy sweating that I would see if I were a high-performance athlete, so I turned to Jordy of the Manitoba Bisons for a little help in testing the NoSweat helmet liners. While she claimed she only "glowed" while playing and practicing, she said, "The NoSweat liners absorbed the sweat well, and I never noticed any sweat rolling down my forehead while playing. I don't recall needing to wipe my brow with a towel in between drills, so the NoSweat liners work."

A solid review from Jordy, but the question of whether she would use them again needed to be answered. "Yeah," she stated, "I didn't even notice them while practicing, so I'd use them again. They did the job they were supposed to do and they didn't affect my play in any way, so I'd use the NoSweat liner again."

I found it interesting that Washington Capitals star TJ Oshie was one of the brand ambassadors for NoSweat. Along with Oshie, Golden Tate of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Keuchel of MLB's Houston Astros, Brandon McManus of the NFL's Denver Broncos, PGA stars Stewart Cink and Scott Langley, Matt Adams of MLB's St. Louis Cardinals, and tennis broadcaster Kerry Feirman all are brand ambassadors of the NoSweat product.

NoSweat found its first professional alliance with the New York Rangers, and there are "now 27 teams who regularly wear the product in their helmets" as well as the "NHL Officials Association, who ordered over 21,000 of the Performance Liners for the 2017-2018 NHL season". They're also an officially licensed partner of the PGA Tour! With that kind of support, it's fairly clear that this product not only works, but is the only choice for all those who wear a hockey helmet at the NHL level!

I've been using the NoSweat liner in my ball cap for the last three weeks, and it has delivered on every feature that the company promises. The additional cap liners I have will be used this summer while playing and umpiring baseball as I often find myself with a damp cap after being out in the heat all day. I have a feeling that NoSweat liners will keep my hat dry and comfortable all day long!

You can purchase NoSweat liners at a number of retail outlets across North America or you can get them directly off the NoSweat website. They're priced at $5 USD for a three-pack of liners while a 12-pack will set you back $18 USD and a 25-pack will cost you $35. Honestly, for the low price NoSweat is charging for the liners, I would have guessed they would have been more expensive than their current price point. In saying that, the benefits are certainly worth the low cost of the liners, so I not only recommend them but I certainly can endorse them at their current prices!

In recent news, it was announced that NoSweat entered a five-year international licensing agreement United Sports Brands, parent company of Shock Doctor, Nathan, McDavid, Cutters and XO Athletic! Expect to hear more and more about the NoSweat brand as they continue to grow and market themselves extremely well!

If you find yourself drying your brow while playing sports or doing work, NoSweat liners should be part of your uniform. The cap and helmet liners absorb sweat and wick it away, keeping your hat or helmet and your forehead dry over the course of several games or weeks. With NoSweat's low prices, it's an incredible product that won't destroy your wallet. Because of its effectiveness and its pricing, NoSweat will be in my hockey bag and baseball bag going forward!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 325

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with a number of things to discuss regarding hockey. We'll be joined by a very special guest who has more knowledge and skills in the hockey world than Beans and I combined, and we'll talk about everything that's been happening. It's always a privilege when this guest has time for us, so we'll use that time as best as we can to get the low-down on everything happening with her as well!

See this goal? It was one of the featured first-half highlights from Bisons Sports, and Beans and I are proud, honoured, privileged, and humbled to welcome back to the show that player with all the right moves in Karissa Kirkup! We'll talk to Karissa about the season thus far, her work doing her teaching practicum, how her brother Tyler is doing at Bemidji State as a member of the men's hockey team, and some of the charitable and community stuff that the Bisons women's team is doing over the holiday season! After that, we'll break into discussing the National Women's Under-18 Championship awarded to Morden and Winkler, the colour-changing hockey puck being used by the NHL, Manitoba's first all-accessible rink at Dakota Community Centre and how Manitoba seems way behind on accessibility for all, ESPN examining the health inspector reports for the major four sports in North America, and more! It all starts tonight on UMFM at 5:30pm!

You might be wondering where the blurb about the UMFM app has gone. I'm going on record to say you can still use it, but the new UMFM website will fill the needs of our listeners because the new online streaming player is pretty awesome. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store. The UMFM app will currently work for you, but there's some work being done to realign it with UMFM's new website, so it may go silent soon. If it does, TuneIn. It's a solid app.

I'm changing up the social media portion as well. I'm losing faith in Facebook, so that option will slowly be allowed to drift off into the horizon. However, the other options still work! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans welcome Bisons sniper Karissa Kirkup to the show where they'll discuss life and hockey with Karissa before tackling a big tournament, a long-overdue rink, a seemingly-useless innovation in pucks, rather disgusting findings at stadiums and arenas, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: December 13, 2018: Episode 325

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Temporarily Moving Southwest

This is the larger overview of the communities of Morden and Winkler in Manitoba. It has long been a hockey hotbed for women's hockey with the Pembina Valley Hawks producing all sorts of high-level talent at the U SPORTS and NCAA levels. There's a couple of kids who call the area home who played in the NHL as Dustin Penner, Eric Fehr, and Justin Falk from nearby Snowflake, Manitoba all played in the area. The Hawks bantam female team routinely is in the mix regarding Manitoba's berth at the Esso Cup every year as the Hawks always produce solid teams, and it seems that Hockey Canada is rewarding these efforts with a major tournament next year!

Hockey Canada announced today that the National Women's Under-18 Championship will be played in Manitoba for the first time in its history in the towns of Morden and Winkler! A tournament of this magnitude shouldn't really surprise anyone in and around the Morden area, though, as the town has successfully hosted the 2017 Esso Cup, Canada’s National Female Midget Championship, while the town of Winkler has been on the national sports map a numbers of times after hosting a very successful Hockey Day in Canada and being tapped for an upcoming Sportsnet Hometown Hockey weekend in March. Needless to say, these towns should be ready and willing when it comes to hosting the National Women's Under-18 Championship!

"We welcome the chance to work with Winkler on hosting the National Women’s Under-18 Championship," Morden Mayor Brandon Burley said in a statement. "Although both communities are capable of hosting large-scale events on their own, we are stronger together. We are excited to have the opportunity to build on the success of the Esso Cup."

While more news will develop as we get closer in terms of activities surrounding the games, which teams and officials will be participating, and more, I can honestly say that I will likely be booking some holidays off work to see if I can take The Hockey Show on the road for a few days down to Morden and Winkler. I love visiting the area, the community is incredible, and the hockey action will be great. Expect HBIC, if nothing else, to have reports on the action during the tournament as I apply for media credentials.

All in all, it looks like 2019 will be another solid year for women's hockey in Manitoba with Hockey Canada awarding the National Women's Under-18 Championship to Morden and Winkler. I, for one, am already excited for the tournament, and I'm hoping that Morden and Winkler continue their proven track record of putting on events that rank second to none!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Weird Rule Denies Blues

The man to the left is NHL referee Tim Peel. Tim has never played in the NHL, but it took a weird bounce tonight for him to score his first NHL goal. Technically, he won't get credit, but let's be honest in saying that sometimes the ugliest goals are the most memorable. In tonight's game between the visiting Florida Panthers and the St. Louis Blues, it was tied early in the first period when Tim Peel beat Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo with a solid deflection for which I believe neither Peel nor Luongo were ready. I'm not sure if Peel is a Blues fan having been born in Hampton, New Brunswick, but I can't imagine he was feeling too hot after scoring his first goal in over 1250 NHL games in the way that he did.

Here's the video of Peel's first NHL goal.
As you saw, the second referee announced that the goal will not count and the Blues play-by-play broadcaster was right in that goals cannot be scored directly off the referee. Rule 78.5, Section iii states the following:
So while it appeared that Robert Bortuzzo was set to be awarded the goal, the officials made the correct call in denying Bortuzzo his second goal of the season after it deflected off Peel in the corner and all the way to the middle of the ice. I can understand why Peel was shaken up - that's a long way for that puck to travel off the midsection of an unsuspecting official.

How often does one see that play? Well, it happened to Calvin De Haan last season while with the Hurricanes against the Bruins when a puck deflected into the net off Francois St. Laurent. This goal, too, was disallowed.
In other words, it happens enough for a rule to be written, but not often enough that remember the last time it happened.

In any case, the NHL officials are doing their jobs well in knowing the rules. And it seemed like Tim Peel was well out of the way of that dump-in by Bortuzzo, but it just goes to show you that you should never take your eye off the puck as a fan or an official.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!