First off, we were treated to some exceptional hockey in 2014. The NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are always exciting, the AHL brought fans in Winnipeg a little closer to St. John's as the IceCaps made a run to the Calder Cup Final, some great uniforms from the ECHL, Shannon Szabados becoming the first woman to win an SPHL game in history, Erin Blair and Katie Guay officiating a men's professional game in the SPHL, and a myriad of great hockey stories. The leagues were busy, and HBIC tried to bring you the best stories from those leagues.
There was that little hockey tournament in February known as the Sochi Winter Olympics, and it might have been the only time that I woke up to drink beer at 6AM in my life. Canada's two gold medals at the Sochi Olympics saw the women knock the gorilla off their back as they downed Team USA in the gold medal final while the men simply suffocated every team they played in the medal round until they had their hands on their gold medals. The hockey was incredible, and we were lucky to witness such amazing performances from both Canadian squads.
The IIHF World Junior Championships saw Finland win on an overtime goal by Rasmus Ristolainen, and it appeared the Finns would be a major player in the World Junior Championships once more. Flash forward to December, and the Finns were fighting for their lives in the most recent World Junior Championships. Combine that with Denmark winning their first-ever game at the tournament, and there have been some exceptional storylines for junior-aged players around the globe as well.
To every single hockey player, coach, and executive - professional, amateur, junior, peewee, atom, and every level in between - thank you for your love of the game, your skill, your passion, and your dedication. HBIC would be nothing without you.
The Hockey Show has had a phenomenal year in terms of listeners and fun. Part of the reason for that is that we've been attracting some incredible guests, and these people need to be thanked for giving up their time to help us to their stories. Some of these people have well-known names, but other names will be less recognizable. All of them, though, had fantastic hockey stories to tell, and we are proud to feature them as well as hopeful they will return. In no particular order, these people deserve a hearty round of thanks for appearing on The Hockey Show:
- Jared Keeso - star of 19/2 on Bravo and CTV.
- Nicole Haase - writer for Bucky's 5th Quarter.
- Jay Bodnar - musician from Eagle & Hawk.
- Vince Fontaine - musician from Eagle & Hawk.
- Jeremie Gauvin - MJHL/CIS/Hockey Canada official.
- Amanda Schubert - goaltender for the Manitoba Bisons.
- Alana Serhan - forward for the Manitoba Bisons.
- Tasmine Hemingway - forward for the Manitoba Bisons.
- Brody Jackson - Winnipeg radio host on QX104FM.
- Samantha Stevens - Winnipeg radio host on QX104FM.
- Kevin Wilson - director of the Re/Max Cup.
- Jeff Nepinak - player at the Re/Max Cup.
- Mike Dueck - official at the Re/Max Cup.
- Vin, Dave, and Ivan - players at the Re/Max Cup.
- Ted Irvine - retired NHL legend/forward.
- Dirk Digglers hockey team - Winnipeg legends.
- Jason Goulet - rep from Top Shelf Hockey.
- Andrew Loewen - Columbus Cottonmouths' goalie.
- Myles Doak - creator of SummerSkates.
- John Corallo - owner of The Coop Ink/Don Cherry's tailor.
- Brad Lukowich - retired NHL legend/defenceman.
- Ciarán Downes - musician from Big Lonely.
- Jake Heise - musician from Big Lonely.
- Cole Mortillaro - musician from Big Lonely.
- Theoren Fleury- retired NHL legend/forward & author.
- Al Strachan - HHOF-inducted journalist & author.
- Sean Pronger - retired NHL legend/forward & author.
To everyone who has stopped by, commented, sent an email, or clicked a link off this little project known as HBIC, thank you. As you know, I get paid nothing to do this, but it's you guys who keep me coming back. Th relationships I've forged with a number of you through this blog are held in the highest esteem, and I can't thank you enough for helping to make HBIC what it is. Thank you!
People like Neal and John who contribute articles continue to drive me to look at other opinions, and I love the interaction we have. I want to encourage anyone who has a desire to write to send me an article. I'm not going to destroy your work, and you will be credited entirely for the work you do. To all contributors here at HBIC, thank you for your hard work and effort. You guys make this blog so much better for everyone else.
There have been many companies who have generously and graciously sent me samples of products this year, and they have been put to good use by myself or by readers when awarded as prizes. I cannot thank enough those companies who have supplied some incredible stuff to me this year, and I want you to know that this blog is available to you for any news you may have on your products. To the book publishers, I am committing to reading a number of books now that I've settled in to the new home of HBIC, so everyone should be prepared for a lot of book reviews this year. Thank you to both the publishers and authors for this opportunity.
Finally, I want to say thank you to the people who are behind-the-scenes here at HBIC that do yeoman's work in keeping this blog running. I know I'm late some days with an entry, but these great people - and one mascot - continue to push me to keep abreast of everything in the hockey world: my parents, my brother, UMFM GM Jared, UMFM Program Director Michael, Brenden aka "Beans", Veronica aka "Columbus", carpooler and fantasy hockey lover Richie, Phuong, Marie the real estate agent, Chris Zuk, Jennifer Everard, and, of course, Meg the cat.
Happy New Year, everyone, from Hockey Blog In Canada and The Hockey Show. All the best to you and yours in 2015, and may this be the best year for hockey yet!
Until 2015, keep your stick on the ice!