Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Return Of Jetta

There are so many things I want to say about today's announcement that Jetta Rackleff is returning to the crease for the Worcester Blades, but I can barely contain my excitement. I was shocked and stunned when the Blades announced that Rackleff wasn't one of the three netminders they had chosen out of training camp and the preseason despite some rather superior numbers compared to her colleagues, and I've quietly been hoping that someone within the Blades organization would come to their senses and bring Jetta back.

The first famous quote that came to mind comes from Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire when he said, "We live in a cynical world, a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors." I don't think this line has been truer this season for the CWHL where many excellent players came into the league, and there were a large contingent of players who simply couldn't find roster spots or decided to focus more on life by stepping away from the game.

Jetta, however, came to camp refreshed and looking forward to the competition for the starting goaltending position with the Blades after missing the vast majority of last season due to injury. It seemed as though Jetta was in the clear after posting some rather solid numbers against preseason opponents, but she was inexplicably not named to the roster.

The current netminders - Lauren Dahm, Mariah Fujimagari, and Jessica Convery - are being absolutely bombarded by opponents when it comes to shots-against and, as a result, their goals-against averages and save percentages aren't quite where one would hope they would be at this point in the season. Needing a spark whether it be through solid netminding or just a positive attitude in the dressing room, the Blades announced that Jetta Rackleff would start today against les Canadiennes de Montreal!

If you'll excuse a little creative parody, I believe this calls for a song. Sing it with me if you know the tune!
Guess who's back, back again!
Jetta's back, tell a friend!
Guess who's back? Guess who's back?
Guess who's back? Guess who's back?
Guess who's back? Guess who's back?
Guess who's back?
(Instrumental and background singing)
Ok, goofiness aside, today's game against the Canadiennes will be anything but a walk in the park for Rackleff as Montreal comes in with the best goal differential in the CWHL. However, if there's one player who will take this challenge head-on and give it 110%, it's Jetta Rackleff. Having gotten to know her prior to, during, and after the interview we did with her on The Hockey Show, I feel confident in saying that the Blades picked themselves up a world-class goalie and an even better individual to help their club search for wins.

I'd be crazy to suggest that Jetta Rackleff will be the difference in pushing the Blades past the Canadiennes. That's simply not how hockey works when it comes to the disparity between the two teams. I will say, however, that Rackleff will give the Blades a chance to compete with the Canadiennes for a part, if not all, of the game today. I have that much faith in her abilities.

More than anything, it's amazing to see Jetta back in CWHL nets for the simple reason that it appeared she had been written off by the club after she didn't make the roster. At the time of publishing this, the Blades are already down 2-0 and are being outshot 14-2 at the first intermission. It could be much worse than 2-0, but Rackleff is standing in there against some of the greatest female hockey players to have ever worn skates.

Seeing #77 standing in the crease leads me to another Jerry Maguire quote: "I'm not letting you get rid of me. How about that?"

Welcome back, Jetta Rackleff!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 16 November 2018

You Want More Goalie Goals?

That guy in what appears to be a mugshot photo is Ian Scott. Ian's a goaltender for the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders, and he's a draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who took him in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Prince Albert is absolutely destroying the WHL this season as they're out to an 18-1-0 record with their only loss coming at the hands of the Red Deer Rebels way back on October 6. Since then, they've rattled off 11-straight wins, and Ian Scott is a big part of that as he's gone 15-1-0 thus far this season to be the WHL's best goaltender in this young season. Not bad for the Calgary-born netminder, right?

Well, whatever dominance Scott has shown in between the pipes may just take a backseat to his offensive abilities now. Scott hadn't recorded a point in any of his 16 games that he's appeared in this season, but he decided to announce his arrival as a dual threat in a big way against the Tri-City Americans tonight!

Down 2-1 in the third period against the Raiders, the Americans pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. And Scott, perhaps seeing what former WHL netminder Tristan Jarry did earlier this week, decided he wanted in on the goal-scoring action!
Scott's goal made it 3-1 for the Raiders as he collected the insurance goal in the game in helping the Raiders win their 12th consecutive game! While there may be celebrating tonight for Scott's first goal in the WHL, they can't get too wrapped up in the excitement as division rival and third-place Brandon Wheat Kings visit tomorrow night. How long can this win streak last? Can Scott start a scoring streak? We'll find out tomorrow!

On an aside, let me be the first to say that announcers who scream like the two men did when both Jarry and Scott scored need to check their calls at the door. It's a goalie goal, not the championship-winning goal. Have some fun with it. Celebrate it. Talk about it. But for the love of all things good in this world, stop screaming at the top of your lungs, ok? Ok.

Congratulations go out to Ian Scott and the Prince Albert Raiders! Not only do they extend the winning streak, but they make a little history while doing it as Scott becomes the eighth goalie in WHL history to net a puck! The list in the WHL includes:
  • Ian Scott (Prince Albert) vs Tri-City on November 16, 2018
  • Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge) vs Medicine Hat on March 19, 2016
  • Chris Driedger (Calgary) vs Kootenay - February 1, 2014
  • Jordan McLaughlin (Prince George) vs Vancouver - March 5, '03
  • Jason Clague (Red Deer) vs Lethbridge - March 28, 1994*
  • Jeff Calvert (Tacoma) vs Moose Jaw - December 29, 1992
  • Chris Osgood (Medicine Hat) vs Swift Current - January 3, 1991
  • Olaf Kolzig (Tri-City) vs Seattle - November 29, 1989
Note: The italicized game was a WHL playoff game.

For the winning streak, the Raiders have a little work to do to catch the Victoria Cougars as the Cougars put together a 24-game winning streak back on February 6, 1981 through October 9, 1981. They're halfway there with their win tonight over Tri-City, so maybe we'll see some more history made this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 15 November 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 321

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, gets back to basics tonight as Beans returns from his absence, we chat all about the hockey stories coming from across the globe, and we have general insanity on the show once more. It's been a crazy week for me this week as I've been touring the city a little in efforts to meet two remarkable people in former NHL netminder Curtis Joseph and celebrity hockey fan Jay Baruchel! Both men were incredible people in speaking with them, and the doors were left open for a possible future appearance on The Hockey Show! Chances are they'll have a ton happening and won't be able to swing it, but you never know unless you ask, right?

Beans and I will unpack all the stories from the past week and dive into the heart of the matters on tonight's show! Among the topics we'll cover will be the reduction in the suspension to Tom Wilson, Josh Morrissey's bodyslam on TJ Oshie and why he should get the same punishment as Florida's Mike Matheson, Gavin McHale becoming a household name for one night, Tristan Jarry scoring a goal, Gary Bettman's zero interest in expanding the playoffs, Tanner Pearson and Carl Hagelin switching teams and jerseys, Blake Wheeler finding his game while wearing a moustache, the Bisons facing UBC, and much more! It should be a busy show tonight, so make sure you have your radio dial set to 101.5 FM or your internet browser set to UMFM.com at 5:30pm CT!

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 look at suspensions, suspension-worthy plays, goalies, sticking with 16 teams, trades, players making a difference, 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: November 15, 2018: Episode 321

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Good Day For Goalies

It's Wednesday. It's Hump Day. It's November 14, but it's not a special day for most. I assume there are a swath of people in society who are celebrating a birthday or another special day, but the majority of the world didn't have anything remarkable to write home about regarding today. Well, hold on a second. There were a couple of people who had a very good day based on how the day went for them, and we need to talk a little about them due to their big days! Both men are goalies who have suited up in the NHL, but one guy had himself a great day in the AHL while another guy got to happily sit on the bench for the evening!

In an early AHL game as AHL teams invite school kids to the rink for the day, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were up 3-1 late in their game against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Being down late sent Springfield goalie Michael Hutchinson to the bench for an extra attacker as the Thunderbirds tried to erase the two-goal deficit. And that's when Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry decided to take matters into his own hands.
Announcer screams aside on that video, Tristan Jarry scored his first goal as a goaltender in his professional hockey career today! Jarry became the 14th goaltender in the AHL's 83-year history to record a goal, and the ninth goaltender to physically shoot the puck the length of the ice to score a goal! I'd say that's a pretty awesome day for Jarry, right?

The 14 goalies who have etched their names into the AHL record book for being recorded as a goal scorer include:
  • Darcy Wakaluk, Rochester – Dec. 5, 1987 at Utica
  • Paul Cohen, Springfield – Mar. 28, 1992 vs. Rochester
  • Robb Stauber, Rochester – Oct. 9, 1995 at Prince Edward Island
  • Christian Bronsard, Syracuse – Oct. 30, 1999 at Rochester
  • Jean-Francois Labbe, Hartford – Feb. 5, 2000 at Quebec
  • Chris Mason, Milwaukee – Oct. 15, 2001 at Utah
  • Antero Niittymaki, Philadelphia – Apr. 11, 2004 at Hershey*
  • Seamus Kotyk, Milwaukee – Apr. 17, 2005 at San Antonio
  • Drew MacIntyre, Manitoba – Feb. 20, 2008 at Chicago*
  • Chris Holt, Binghamton – Mar. 19, 2010 vs. Rochester
  • Reto Berra, Lake Erie – Jan. 16, 2015 at Chicago
  • Jonas Gustavsson, Bakersfield – Mar. 24, 2017 vs. San Diego
  • Alex Nedeljkovic, Charlotte – Mar. 10, 2018 vs. Hartford
  • Tristan Jarry, W-B/Scranton – Nov. 14, 2018 at Springfield
The two starred goals scored by Niittymaki and MacIntyre were overtime goals, but Jarry didn't need that today as his goal helped the Penguins win the game 5-1 over Springfield!

From that cool story, we move to another great story. Well, unless you're Braden Holtby who missed tonight's game for the Capitals against the Winnipeg Jets with an upper-body injury. But as they say, when one door closes, another opens, and tonight that door opened for a gentleman by the name of Gavin McHale!

Gavin is the Winnipeg Jets' emergency goalie, so he gets to watch a lot of Jets games for free while he waits for the tap on his shoulder. Normally, Gavin wouldn't see the ice whatsoever from the vantage point to the right, but with Holtby injured and unable to play, McHale was sent down to the Washington Capitals' room to suit up and back-up Pheonix Copley in tonight's game! Donning jersey #41, McHale was able to get into the warm-up, face guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Oshie as they prepared for the game, and he can now claim he's part of the reigning Stanley Cup champions!
Ironically, the first shooter that McHale faced tonight in warm-up was none other than Alex Ovechkin. And Ovechkin ripped a shot past McHale. Welcome to the NHL, kid.

The 31 year-old netminder is a former Portage Terrier of the MJHL and played in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds, and he now works as a fitness coach when he's not on the ice training Lauren Taraschuk, Erin Fargey, and Devan Johnson of the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team as their goaltending coach. McHale's been doing the emergency goalie thing for the Jets for a couple of seasons now, and his debut on national hockey in the US and Canada thanks to NBC and Sportsnet did not go unnoticed on social media!

Congratulations to Tristan Jarry for scoring his first goal, and Gavin McHale for blowing up the internet as a Washington Capital! Wednesday, November 14 was a pretty good day for goalies, it seems!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Make It Up As You Go

You may have heard, one day after the NHL issued a very light settlement with the players of the class-action lawsuit regarding head injuries, that the independent arbitrator looking into Tom Wilson's 20-game suspension following his check to the head of St. Louis' Oskar Sundqvist had reduced Wilson's suspension to 14 games, making him eligible to return to play today as well as restoring nearly $400,000 in salary to Wilson. That man, pictured to the left, is Shyam Das. He's the same man who reduced the suspension to Austin Watson following his domestic abuse allegation, and he was the same man fired by Major League Baseball shortly after overturning Ryan Braun's suspension after he was found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. It might be time for the NHL to look for another arbitrator after today's decision to reduce the 20 games to 14 games seems as arbitrary as pulling numbers from a lottery machine.

I have no words for the decision he came down with today, so I'll let Stephen Whyno tell you about how he came to the suspension-reducing decision.
I beg to differ on Das' opinion that the 20-game suspension "was not supported by substantial evidence". Pittsburgh's Zach Aston-Reese couldn't eat solid food all summer thanks to a broken jaw in last season's playoffs, Robert Thomas of the St. Louis Blues was the target of a late hit in the preseason, and Sammy Blais of the St. Louis Blues was driven into the boards by Wilson. All three instances drew suspensions, so the "substantial evidence" is clearly there. Or perhaps Das doesn't understand how suspensions work in the NHL.

I'm going with the latter.

In any case, Das then decided to impose his own mathematical equation in determining an appropriate suspension period with absolutely zero logic or reasoning behind the equation. As Whyno wrote in his tweet, Das "came to 14 for Wilson by treating 3-game playoff suspension as a 6-gamer, doubling it and adding 2 for Sundqvist injury." So, according to Das, the Aston-Reese hit counts as evidence, but the Thomas and Blais hits do not? Getting the double-credit for the playoff games is a good start, but why do the two games for Thomas not count and the four games for Blais not count? If you do the math, that's how the NHL came up with 20 games, so what evidence does Das provide that would negate the six games against the two Blues players?

None. Not one shred of evidence other than his personal feelings, apparently.

As per The Associated Press, Das was dismissed shortly following his overturning of Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs due to a technicality. They write,
Das decided in February to overturn the 50-game suspension of Braun for a positive drug test. Lawyers for the Milwaukee outfielder, the reigning NL MVP, argued that the collection procedures specified in baseball's drug agreement for the urine sample were not followed with Braun's sample last Oct. 1 because it was not immediately left at a Federal Express office.

The collector testified that because the sample was taken on a Saturday and could not have been shipped that day to the testing laboratory outside Montreal, he concluded the sample would be more secure at his home. He then took it to a FedEx office on the following Monday.

Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

Management loudly and publicly disagreed with his decision.
Baseball decided that Das' ruling on Braun's suspension was outside the realm of integrity of the game regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs and MLB's testing for them, and they relieved him of his duties within baseball in May 2012. While the lawyers for Braun may have been correct and Das was within his right as an arbitrator to reduce the suspension, Das seems to live in an alternate reality where his decisions can be attained through whatever means he deems important, and his decisions often undercut the integrity of the game and the league for whom he is working.

Reducing Wilson's suspension is garbage. He deserved the 20-game break for his repeated offences and his blatant disregard for both the rules of the game and safety of his colleagues in the NHLPA. While Capitals fans will be happy to get their high-priced power forward back, the NHL should be looking for a new arbitrator today after Das' ruling. His decision makes zero sense, he provides no evidence for reducing the suspension, and he completely disregards the suspensions assigned to Wilson for his garbage play in the preseason.

That's not how this process is supposed to work, and Das' track record of questionable decisions are bubbling to the surface. I guess if you don't have any hard evidence to prove that the suspension was overly harsh, you just make it up as you go along. At this point, I could be an arbitrator if all it takes is random math equations and ignoring previous incidents.

What a bunch of crap.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!