Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Pure Torts

Best. Presser. Ever.

Is there anyone who doesn't love John Tortorella in Columbus? He's become a softer, gentler, less angry Torts compared to what he used to be like, but this press conference is entirely what I expect from John Tortorella after a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers. Short, sweet, to the point without the swearing, cussing, cursing, ranting, and raving that we probably would have seen a decade ago from John Tortorella.

Keep up the great work, Torts! These kinds of press conferences make hockey fun!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Banned From The Party

The image to the left of the Russian players celebrating a win over Germany during the preliminary round of the 2014 Sochi Olympics will have six less players if they happen to win a game at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. The International Olympic Committee announced today that six players of the Russian women's hockey team have been banned for life for being involved in the state-wide doping scandal at the 2014 Olympics. It's a significant blow to any team when it loses a quarter of the team, but a few of the players who were officially banned for life are key members of the Russian team.

The six players who were banned by the IOC today includes captain, leading scorer, and four-time Olympian Yekaterina Smolentseva, Inna Dyubanok, Yekaterina Lebedeva, Yekaterina Pashkevich, Anna Shibanova, and Galina Skiba. Further to the ban of the six players, a statement on the IOC website reads, "The Russian Team is disqualified from the Women's Ice Hockey Event and the International Ice Hockey Federation is requested to modify the results of the event accordingly."

Wow. The IOC is finally showing some teeth! So it's time to ask what this all means.

First, the statement, "The six athletes are declared ineligible to be accredited in any capacity for all editions of the Games of the Olympiad and the Olympic Winter Games subsequent to the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014" is pretty clear in stating that the six athletes are no longer welcome at any and all future Olympiads in any capacity that requires accreditation. That includes coaching had any of these women had the aspiration to move into that role once their playing days ended, as any part of the delegation of the Russian women's hockey team, or as any part of the Russian Olympic Committee. Ouch.

Second, the "Russian Team" that was disqualified was the 2014 Sochi Olympic team, and any points or standings improvement they received under the IIHF's watch would be removed. This could have major effects on the Russian team as the IIHF qualified the Russian squad for the Olympics based on their 2016 World Ranking which is calculated from their finishes at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the 2013 to 2016 World Championships. Russia finished in sixth-place at the 2014 Winter Olympics so I suspect there shouldn't be too much upheaval in the world rankings, but the IIHF will have to recalculate and see what happens. As you can see to the upper-right, Russia jumped up two spots to surpass Sweden. Would there be enough movement to bump Sweden into the top pool at the Olympics and push Russia down to Group B?

We'll have to wait and see what the IIHF figures out regarding the calculation of the rankings as this could potentially change the fortunes of both the Russian and Swedish teams. According to the IIHF website, the calculations for the world rankings are made as per the following rules,
The team that wins the IIHF World Championship gold medal or the Olympic gold medal receives 1200 points. In general, there is a 20-point interval between two ranked positions (for example, 880 points for the 13th place and 860 points for the 14th place). As an exception to this principle there is a 40-point interval between gold and silver, silver and bronze, the 4th and 5th position and between the 8th and 9th position in the top division. The reason for the larger intervals for these positions is to give teams a bonus for reaching the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, the final and for winning the gold medal. (The bonus formula can be changed with any alterations to the playing format).

To enable the ranking to accurately reflect current form, the greatest importance is given to results of the last year's competition. To a lesser degree, attention is also paid to results from previous years. The system uses a four-year cycle as the points earned in one year decline linearly within the next 3 years and in the 5th year results are dropped from the calculation altogether.

Example: Value of the gold medal
Year 1: 100% value = 1200 points
Year 2: 75% value = 900 points
Year 3: 50% value = 600 points
Year 4: 25% value = 300 points
Year 5: 0% value = 0 points
Where this will get foggy in terms of the algebra and calculus that the IIHF uses is that the Russians lost in the quarterfinals in Sochi whereas the Swedes lost in the semifinals. However, as the rules state above, there's a bonus for making the various levels of the medal round that the Russians will now forfeit entirely by being disqualified from the tournament. Will it be a 55-point swing? We'll find out soon as the IIHF makes its adjustments based on the findings of the IOC today. What will matter is that if the changes result in the Russians losing more than 55 points in the world rankings, Sweden would join Canada, the US, and Finland in Group A while Russia - er, the Olympic Athletes from Russia - would drop to Group B and have to finish in the top-two of that pool to advance to the medal round. Ouch.

In any event, doping is not only affecting the six cheaters listed above, but it could affect the entire Russian women's hockey program if they lose standing in the world rankings and get bumped down to Group B. That's a harsh reality for these women to face, but it's what they deserve after Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov told The New York Times in 2016 that "[t]he entire women's hockey team was doping throughout the Games."

Cheaters never win, folks. Don't be a dope by doping at the Olympics.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Next Wave

Hockey Canada is preparing itself for another tournament that will happen from January 3rd to 6th, 2018 in Füssen, Germany at the 2018 Nations Cup. Canada will join the national teams from Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland over the four-day tournament, but Canada, as it has done in the past, will send the next wave of potential female hockey stars as they look to continue their ascent towards becoming Canadian icons. Most of these players took part in the Canadian National Development Camp held over the summer, and these women should be on your radar for the coming years as they represent Canada's female hockey future!

"Following a very successful summer camp where we had the opportunity to play teams from U SPORTS and Japan, we continued to evaluate players as they embarked on regular season action with their club teams to come to this group of players who will represent Canada at the Nations Cup," said Gina Kingsbury, a two-time Olympic gold-medallist for Canada in women's hockey and the current director of national women's team programs for Hockey Canada. "These players are part of the up-and-coming Canadian talent that we are tracking as we look towards next year's IIHF Women's World Championship and beyond to the 2022 Games. To be able to provide opportunities for them to play high-level, international events like the Nations Cup is invaluable for them as players, and for us as a management group as we continue to build our pipeline to Canada's National Women’s Team."

Well said, Miss Kingsbury. There has been a concern leading into the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games that Canada's core players were starting to hit the downward slope of their careers. There's always a question in terms of where the next wave of talent will come from, and we're seeing a good mix of players on this roster who could certainly push for roster spots come 2022 in Beijing.

With that being said, here is your Canadian roster for the 2018 Nations Cup!
  • F Lindsay Agnew - University of Minnesota.
  • F Victoria Bach - Boston University.
  • F Ashton Bell - University of Minnesota-Duluth.
  • F Loren Gabel - Clarkson University.
  • F Rebecca Leslie - Boston University.
  • F Emma Maltais - Ohio State University.
  • F Hannah Miller - St. Lawrence University.
  • F Kristin O'Neill - Cornell University.
  • F Éve-Audrey Picard - University of Vermont.
  • F Amy Potomak - Hockey Canada.
  • F Sophie Shirley - Calgary Inferno (CWHL).
  • F Brooke Stacey - University of Maine.
  • D Jamie Bourbonnais - Cornell University.
  • D Codie Cross - Northeastern University.
  • D Jess Healey - University of Minnesota-Duluth.
  • D Allie Munroe - Syracuse University.
  • D Josiane Pozzebon - Clarkson University.
  • D Ella Shelton - Clarkson University.
  • D Kaitlin Tse - Harvard University.
  • G Marlène Boissonnault - Cornell University.
  • G Tricia Deguire - McGill University (U SPORTS).
There are some absolute stars-to-be on this team, and you're going to find that at least four or five of these women will most likely be on the Canadian Olympic roster in 2022. Those five should include Amy Potomak, Victoria Bach, Sophie Shirley, Rebecca Leslie, and Loren Gabel. There may be more, but these five are absolutely tearing up their respective leagues in scoring right now, and that's something for which the Olympic team is always on the hunt.

Victoria Bach has 23 goals and 17 assists in just 19 games with Boston University this season. In the month of November alone, she tallied an incredible 21 points and 13 goals while finding chemistry with long-time friend and teammate Rebecca Leslie whom she has known since playing youth hockey in Ottawa.

Sophie Shirley is leading the CWHL's Calgary Inferno in scoring this season at the tender age of 18. Her four goals and five assists may not sound impressive to lead a first-place team, but she has yet to play an NCAA game in her life. To make the jump to the professional league from her time at a prep hockey academy and have the success she's having is something about which very few players - male or female - can boast.

As stated above, Rebecca Leslie has seen her stats explode as her and Victoria Bach rekindled some chemistry as linemates. Leslie currently has 15 goals and 21 assists in 19 games, and she has been the other half of the lethal duo that Boston University sends out to terrorize their opponents. In her fourth year at the school, Leslie has never scored less than 14 goals or 31 points, so Leslie has shown an incredible offensive talent during her time in the NCAA.

Loren Gabel is having another outstanding season at Clarkson where she's potted 15 goals and added 20 helpers in 21 goals. She has never scored less than 18 goals in any of her three seasons - extrapolating for this season, of course - and had career highs of 22 goals and 20 assists last year. She's a point-per-game player in the NCAA, and that's always something that will get a player on a Hockey Canada roster.

Amy Potomak, as you may recall, was playing with Hockey Canada's Olympic squad prior to being released from the evaluation. It was thought that Potomak would return to the University of Minnesota, but it's clear that Hockey Canada wants to keep her in the loop. Potomak is an outstanding scorer, and she'll be counted on as a leader for this Team Canada squad.

Canada is always a favorite at the Nations Cup, having won 11 gold medals in the following years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016. Canada will warm-up for this tournament against the Austrian national team on December 30 before celebrating New Year's Eve in the Alps. Not a bad way to usher in the new year! We'll see if they can bring home the first gold medal of 2018 for Hockey Canada!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

These Bars Are From Mars

I have to admit that I'm not much of a candy guy. In saying this, I had a large amount of the fun-sized Mars Bars kicking around in a box sitting atop my fridge from Halloween for which I simply had no use. The "best before" date was approaching, and I'm not one to waste money or food by throwing something out when there's absolutely nothing wrong with said food. In not being a candy guy, though, I needed a recipe for these Mars Bars to turn them from their bite-sized chocolate pieces into something else. I think I may have found a recipe that almost anyone can use!

This recipe comes from Genius Kitchen so I can't take credit for coming up with it, but kudos to whomever did because it's fast, easy, and there's almost no ingredients in turning these Mars Bars into Rice Krispie squares!

Ingredients

4 regular-sized Mars Bars or 20 fun-sized Mars Bars
1/2 cup of butter
3 cups of Rice Krispies
1 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

That might be one of the easiest list of ingredients to assemble! So let's get to making these Rice Krispie squares!

Directions

Melt the butter and Mars Bars over medium-low heat in a large saucepan until smooth for about ten minutes. Make sure you stir often in order not to burn the chocolate or caramel! Remove from the heat once the mixture is smooth, and stir in the Rice Krispies and chopped nuts (f included). While the recipe recommends pressing it into a greased pan, I opted not to use a greased pan as it seemed there was ample moisture in the Rice Krispie mixture. I'll let you decide on how you want to navigate this step.

If you're using the chocolate chips, top the pan of Rice Krispie mix with the chocolate chips and place under a broiler for thirty seconds until the chips melt. Remove from the pan from oven and spread the chocolate evenly over squares. In my photo below, you'll see I opted not to go with the chocolate topping. Place the pan in the fridge in order to have the chocolate harden in the mixture and, if applicable, atop the mixture. Serve when ready.

And the end result?
They taste like Mars Bars, but have the texture of a Rice Krispie square! Ok, that seems like a Captain Obvious statement, but they're like a crispy Mars Bar! They taste so good - as seen in the missing row of Rice Krispie squares - and they came out of the pan quite nicely without the added grease. Overall, I'll definitely make these again!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Everybody's Doing It

I'm not sure what Walt Disney did to convince every minor-league hockey team to do a Star Wars-branded night, but it seems there have been dozens of teams at every minor-pro level doing a Star Wars night. Most of the themed jerseys are pretty "meh" in their efforts, but the AHL's San Antonio Rampage might be the leader when it comes to the best theme jersey right now. Granted, there are probably about fifty more Star Wars-themed games on the docket before all is said and done, but we have an early leader when it comes to making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs!

Yes, I know a parsec is a unit of distance. You don't need to remind me.

Regardless of how it's measured, one can certainly see that the Rampage did their homework when it came to the jerseys they donned this evening as they hosted the "Galatic Empire Bakersfield Condors".
Dramatic music aside, those look pretty awesome in their representation of the Rebel pilots. While they won't have X-Wings on the ice, the Rampage will certainly look like their storming the Death Star in their solid representation of the Rebel fighters!

As you can see, the Rampage have recreated the jumpsuits that the Rebel pilots wore with all the details including the chest electronics and the chest protector the pilots wore. The added details of the Rebel Alliance logo on the shoulders and the off-center Rampage logo to allow the chest electronics to take center-stage are nice touches. As I stated above, San Antonio is out in front when it comes to having the best Star Wars-themed jerseys with everything they've done.

You might be asking who designed the jerseys for the Rampage. Well, that can be answered.
Well done, Aaron! Your design is, by far, the best I've seen of any Star Wars jerseys to date. While I can't bestow any awards or anything upon you for this great design, knowing that HBIC considers your design the best to date is usually a nice honour to hear.

If you're going to do a theme night with a special jersey, it's better to go all-out and make it great rather than holding back and being subtle. Aaron and the San Antonio Rampage did it right on this night. So how did they look on the ice?
Pretty darn good, right? Rocco Grimaldi recorded the first hat trick of his career in helping the San Antonio Rebel Rampage down the Bakersfield Condors in a 5-2 victory. They say that when you look good, you play good. The Rampage are certainly proving that mantra to be true!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 8 December 2017

There's An Octopus In Your Yard

It was always a fun sight to see when Al the Octopus would descend from the ceiling in Detroit for a Red Wings game. Al was, of course, a play on the octopi that usually hit the ice in Detroit, a phenomenon seen often in the playoffs, due to the NHL's days of yore where winning eight games was the required number of victories needed to hoist the Stanley Cup. The tradition lived at Joe Louis Arena, but that arena, like eight-win Stanley Cup championships, are no more. Al didn't move to Little Caesars Arena, so what happened to Al the Octopus?

Well, it turns out he can live at your home. Or rink. Or some other larger area needing a monstrous octopus. Starting tomorrow, a huge number of old artifacts and pieces from Joe Louis Arena are going up for auction, and Al the Octopus is one of those items! Measuring ten-feet by ten-feet by eight-feet, Al does come separate into smaller pieces for easier transport, but you're most likely going to need a few moving trucks to haul Al away.

Among some of the other cooler items include the Red Wings-branded door header from the locker room, the press conference background (sponsored by Meijer), a stand where they sold programs, the "Red Hot Wings" vendor sign, and much more. Literally, anything that could have been saved was saved in this auction, so take a look through the nearly-1000 items that the auction is offering and see if you can grab something of note before December 16.

If you own a sports bar or are a die-hard Red Wings fan, this auction literally has something for everyone. From pictures that hung all over the rink of players past and present to signs that were on walls all over the rink to some of the bigger ticket items like Al the Octopus, there is nearly something for every fan's taste in this auction. I'm not that attached to the Red Wings, so don't expect me to drive up the bidding on any items, but if you've ever wanted to skate out below Al the Octopus on your backyard rink, today's your lucky day!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 272

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with a special guest! Often we search out people who have played in or are from Manitoba when it comes to our guests because there's a great connection there. Tonight, we're proud to continue that tradition as we welcome a guest who grew up in southern Manitoba, played hockey in the NCAA, gets paid to play hockey now in the CWHL, and is kind enough and generous enough to lend us an hour of her time on The Hockey Show!

The young lady to the left is none other than Taylor Woods, and she grew up and called Morden, Manitoba home! Woods played with a few teams in Manitoba on her journey, suited up for Team Canada, represented the Cornell Big Red for four seasons, and is now playing for the CWHL's Markham Thunder! We'll talk to Taylor about growing up in Morden, playing at Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg, playing alongside some big names in women's hockey and what she learned from them, life in college and what "Environmental Exploration" is in terms of a college major, getting paid to play hockey, heading to China for games this season, and more! It should be another great show where we introduce you to an incredible Manitoban, so get the radio over to 101.5 on the FM dial for this one!

How do you tune in to hear Taylor's interview tonight, you ask? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 FM and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! 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. 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 talk Hawks, Team Canada, Blazers, Big Red, Thunder, big goals, big names, international travel, exploring the environment, and more as we meet and talk with pro hockey player Taylor Woods from the CWHL's Markham Thunder on The Hockey Show found only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: December 7, 2017: Episode 272

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

For The First Time Ever

I wasn't going to add anything else to this post, but it's exciting to see the efforts put in by Bisons women's hockey being recognized by national voters as they have done something they've never done before! For the first time in the program's history, the Bisons are the number-one ranked team in the nation! Well done, ladies!

It also dawned on me that the Bisons, Pandas, and Thunderbirds occupy the top-three spots on the U SPORTS National Top-Ten rankings. I believe that may be the first time in Canada West's history that three teams from Canada West have held the top-three rankings nationally as well. Don't quote me on that, but it seems more than likely!

In any case, the western teams are looking strong as they head into the holiday break and the second-half of the season. While I won't count out the 11-1-2 St. Francois-Xavier team nor the 11-0-1 Queen's team from the discussion about gold medals at the national tournament, the worst part of this setup is that one of Manitoba, Alberta, and UBC won't get to play in the tournament as only two teams from Canada West can advance. That's a tough pill to swallow if you're that team.

In any case, there's lots of hockey to play, but one thing is certain: don't mess with the west!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Welcome Back, Comrades!

There was a major decision to be made today regarding Russia's inclusion at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and it turns out that the International Olympic Committee may actually have a spine! After the state-sponsored drug scandal by the Russians was uncovered and exposed in Sochi, a vast number of Russian athletes have been found guilty of doping, causing the IOC headaches over this incredible amount of doping at the Olympics not seen since the days of East Germany. The question of what to do about the Russians was to be answered by the IOC today, and it seems they found the will to do what most believed they wouldn't.

The IOC's full slate of findings and its announcement can be read here, but the summary of the decisions is as follows:
In short, Russia, as a country, has been banned from the upcoming Olympics and has been fined $15 million by the IOC for the doping scandal. Further to this, clean Russian athletes will be permitted to take part if they are scrutinized and found by a panel to be clean athletes, but will compete under the name "Olympic Athletes from Russia" and abbreviated "OAR" at the Winter Games. The Russian flag nor the Russian national anthem will be part of the 2018 Winter Olympics. There were several individuals identified in the findings as well - including KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko - who will lose their standings within the various Olympic Organising Committees and/or with the Olympics altogether. Needless to say, the IOC did right.

Obviously, Russia will have to respond to this, and we've already heard the KHL boast about not allowing any players of any nationality play at the Olympic Games if the IOC imposed a ban on Russia over the doping scandal. With Russia being the favorites to win the gold medal after the NHL prevented its players from playing, it might be time to ask a big "What If" regarding the Russian men's and women's Olympic teams.

What if they wore the old CCCP uniforms?

Now, obviously that might be in poor taste, but if Putin and the Russian Olympic Committee really want to stick it to the IOC, why not break out the old CCCP uniforms and let their hockey teams rule the ice like they once did?

Julia Ioffe wrote an incredible piece in The Atlantic about Russia's humiliation in 2010 and 2014 on the ice that seems to have haunted Vladimir Putin for the last eight years. Politically, it seems there were idealisms that if the Russian Olympic team did well in Sochi, Putin would gain the confidence in annexing Ukraine. The Russians did do well in Sochi prior to the drug scandal being exposed and costing Russia a number of medals, and Russia did annex Ukraine before that idea fell apart and costing Russia millions of dollars as well.

The idealism of Vladimir Putin trying to pull the Soviet Union back together as it had been when he was working his way through the rank-and-file of the Russian military and political systems would be thrust into reality if Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, and Markov arrived in Pyeongchang wearing the iconic jersey below.
And, really, what could the IOC say or do? They're abiding by the rules laid out to them that the flags and crests of Russia not be worn, so it's not like the IOC could demand that the players change their uniforms. This move, if it happened, would be a metaphorical middle finger to the IOC and the west by Vladimir Putin and his minions when it came to the sanctions levied against his country.

Personally, I'm kind of rooting for this to happen just to see the reactions.

In any case, the KHL and Russia will need to decide what to do now that the IOC has ruled on the matter. If the KHL holds true to its threat, the Russian team won't be so ridiculously talented. But if they back off and send the boys over, the old Soviet Socialist Republic jerseys would be the icing on the cake, especially if Russia wins the gold medal in men's hockey.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 4 December 2017

A Little Radio On TV

If you caught Rogers Hometown Hockey last night from the start, you may have seen the segment on Tara Slone doing colour commentary for the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team alongside TJ Phillips and myself. I will honestly say that TJ and Tara did amazing jobs on the broadcast, and I've linked the broadcast of the first period with Tara Slone's debut below for those that may have missed her debut in the Wayne Fleming Arena broadcast booth. In any case, I think Tara could have a future if she ever wants to give up her host role!

If you missed the clip on Rogers Hometown Hockey last night, here it is in its entirety as TJ Phillips and I run Tara Slone through the pregame discussions and preparations prior to TJ and Tara calling the first period of the game between the #2 UBC Thunderbirds and #4 Manitoba Bisons!
We are so grateful for Rogers Hometown Hockey and Tara Slone to have joined us on Saturday for the game, and I can't say enough great things about the experience. Thank you again, Tara, Deidre, Randy, and Rob, for this amazing experience and all the fun we had. This is a clip that will permanently be on my life's highlight reel.

As you may know, UMFM broadcasts all home games for Bisons men's and women's hockey via the UMFM 101.5 FM frequency or the UMFM Second Stream online broadcast for the entire season including home playoff games. We'd love for you to tune in and listen for free to some of the best women's hockey found on the planet. The entire Bisons women's hockey schedule can be found here for your convenience!

Nothing like a little national exposure for the Bisons women's hockey program on Rogers Hometown Hockey. With their win on Saturday over the second-ranked Thunderbirds, maybe the Bisons will find themselves atop the national rankings tomorrow too?

DOWNLOAD TARA'S RADIO DEBUT HERE!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Rundown - Week 9

It's the final week of the first-half of the Canada West women's hockey schedule, and everyone is jockeying for positions in the standings as the December break starts. Alberta and UBC are hunting down Manitoba, Saskatchewan is trying to remain among the top-four teams, Regina is chasing down their provincial rivals, Lethbridge and Calgary are battling for the sixth-place spot, and Mount Royal is looking to rally to push those two teams. The action would be highlighted by another clash of top teams as UBC visited Manitoba this week, so we'll break down all these games today on The Rundown!

SASKATCHEWAN at REGINA: Friday's night game went in Regina where the Huskies and Cougars met for the third time this season. The week and the game started off well for Regina's Martina Maskova. After being named to the Czech national team for the Four Nations tournament held in the Czech Republic in December, Maskova opened the scoring just 2:32 into the game when she picked up a deflected centering from Jordan Kulbida and went high over Chloe Marshall on the backhand to put the Cougars up 1-0!
That goal was Maskova's first Canada West goal in her career! The two teams would continue to battle through the remaining 17 minutes of the period, but Maskova's goal was the only one in the frame as Regina went to the intermission up 1-0!

Saskatchewan came out in the second period looking far more dangerous and aggressive, but a penalty midway through the period would cost the Huskies. Jaycee Magwood fed Tamara McVannel at the point, and her wrist shot towards the net caromed off of a player in front and found the seam through Marshall's legs for a power-play goal at 11:45 to put the Cougars up 2-0. Despite Saskatchewan outshooting Regina 10-6 in the middle stanza, the Cougars carried the 2-0 lead through to the third period!

In the final period, Jane Kish was outstanding, making save after save in stymieing the Huskies time and time again. There's a reason why she's one of the top goalies as she squared up to Saskatchewan shooters and staring them down. The Huskies outshot the Cougars 12-4 in the third period, but nothing would find the net behind Kish on this night as the Cougars earned the 2-0 shutout win! Kish stopped all 31 shot she saw on this night for her third clean sheet of the season while Chloe Marshall made 17 stops in the loss.

REGINA at SASKATCHEWAN: The inter-provincial battle would move north on Highway 11 for Saturday's clash between the visiting Cougars and the hometown Huskies. It would be Regina who answered the bell in the first period in this game as they blitzed Jessica Vance with 16 pucks on net, but Vance would stand tall in keeping them out. At the other end, Jane Kish only needed to make eight saves as the two teams remained scoreless after one period.

Whatever was said during the intermission by head coach Steve Kook fired the Huskies up because, just as they did on Friday, they came out as the more aggressive team in the second period. It seemed like Kish had an answer for every Huskies shot once more, but Saskatchewan would finally break through on a power-play. Emily Upgang found Kaitlin Willoughby for a one-timer that was kicked out by Kish. However, the rebound fell out in front of Kish and Willoughby pounced on it, jamming it home stick-side on Kish at 11:50 for the power-play marker and the 1-0 lead! Saskatchewan would still control the pace after the goal, but the horn would sound to end the second period with Saskatchewan leading 1-0!

The third period saw both teams kept to the outside as Regina led in shots 6-4. Saskatchewan was effective at not letting Regina find the middle of the ice, and Jessica Vance took care of all the pucks sent her way. When the final horn sounded, Vance and the Huskies had returned the shutout favour in the 1-0 victory. Vance made 27 saves in recording her third shutout of the season while Kish took the loss in a 23-save performance.

LETHBRIDGE at CALGARY: With Lethbridge having a one-point advantage over Calgary in the battle for sixth-place and the final playoff spot, the results of this series could loom large when all is finally said and done this season. Lethbridge looked like the stronger team in the opening period as the Pronghorns took the game to Kelsey Roberts and the Dinos. The only problem? Roberts was equal to the task. Despite being outshot 13-6 in the opening period by Lethbridge, Calgary weathered the storm to go into the intermission in a scoreless draw.

We would see a goal in the second period. Kate Lumley picked up a blocked shot and made a drop-pass to Katie Duncan. Duncan made a move around a Pronghorns defender and wristed a shot top-corner on Alicia Anderson at 5:41!
That goal would be Duncan's first career goal in Canada West, and she put her team up 1-0! The Pronghorns would come on late in the period as they surged back against the Dinos, but Roberts made two outstanding saves to keep this game 1-0 in Calgary's favour through two periods of play!

The third period was far more wide open as both teams looked to strike. End-to-end action saw prolonged bouts of pressure in the offensive zone by both teams, but Roberts and Anderson kept the doors shut. Coach Michelle Janus would pull Anderson with 2:15 to play as she tried to give her team some additional firepower with the extra attacker, but Roberts and the Calgary defence stood tall on this night as Roberts picked up her conference-leading fifth shutout with the 1-0 victory! Roberts stopped all 30 shots she faced in pitching the clean sheet while Anderson stopped 19 of 20 shots in the loss.

CALGARY at LETHBRIDGE: The two teams would head south on Highways 2, 518, 23, and 3 in traveling just over two hours to Lethbridge for the Saturday clash to finish off the home-and-home series and the first-half of the Canada West schedule. We'd see a goal early in this one. Chelsea Court was sent in on Alicia Anderson on a partial breakaway, and Anderson stopped her with her right pad. However, Kate Lumley followed up the shot by whacking home the rebound just 3:40 into the game!
With Calgary leading 1-0, Lethbridge pushed back, but the Dinos' defence wasn't breaking. Brett Campbell would clang one off the crossbar behind Roberts, but it wouldn't go in. That would be the only puck to get by Roberts in the opening twenty minutes, though, as Calgary went into the intermission with the one-goal lead.

The second period started much kinder to the home side as Lethbridge found the equalizer before the midpoint of the period. Tricia Van Vaerenbergh found Mackenzie Gal at the point in the Calgary zone, and her shot eluded the bodies in front of Roberts to find twine high on the blocker side to pull the Pronghorns even at 1-1 at 8:24. That score would last for 6:30 until Delaney Frey knocked home her own rebound at 14:54.
Frey's goal restored the one-goal lead for Calgary, but they weren't done in this period just yet. Paige Michalenko spotted Sage Desjardins on the backdoor, and she scored on a five-on-three power-play.
Desjardins' power-play marker at 18:11 sent the teams to the second intermission with Calgary leading 3-1 on the scoreboard and 18-17 in shots!

The third period saw another Lethbridge blitz on the Dinos, but Roberts and the improving defensive play of Calgary did the same thing they did on Friday in stymieing the Pronghorns. Roberts made an outstanding save on Olivia Alexander that is one of the best I've seen this season, and the Dinos skated to the 3-1 victory despite being outshot 10-3 in the final frame! Roberts picked up another win with her 26-save effort while Alicia Anderson took the loss while stopping 18 shots.

MOUNT ROYAL at ALBERTA: The number-one ranked team in the nation hosted Canada West's last-place team on Friday night, and I know what you're thinking already: mismatch. Things didn't start well for the Alberta-based Cougars either. Alberta carried the play in the first period, and they struck midway through the period. Kennedy Ganzer took down a Mount Royal defender, allowing Alex Poznikoff to pick up the loose puck and fire a cross-ice pass that found Abby Benning. Benning fired a wrist shot from just above the hash marks on the right side that beat Zoe DeBeauville high on the glove side at 11:23 to put Alberta up 1-0! The four shots that Dayna Owen faced in the first period had very little chance of beating the netminder, so it was a solid period of hockey from the home side at both ends of the rink as Alberta led 1-0 after one period.

The two teams would play a much better period in the second period as Mount Royal's offence showed signs of life, but they still struggled to find seams in the Alberta defence to mount a lot of offence. In any case, Alberta outshot Mount Royal 9-7 in the middle frame, but it remained a one-goal game after forty minutes.

Early in the third period, Alberta would double their lead. Off an initial Jacky Normandeau shot that DeBeauville stopped, she also made a great save off Hannah Olenyk on the rebound. However, the third attempt by Autumn MacDougall found its way through DeBeauville and into the net at 1:31 to put Alberta up 2-0!

Six minutes later, Mount Royal cut the deficit to one goal off a face-off. Kennedy Bozek won the face-off cleanly to her right where Erin MacLean redirected it to the point off her skate. The redirected puck came to Mairi Sorensen, and her point shot was blocked. However, Bozek snapped the blocked shot past the Alberta defender and past Dayna Owen at 7:24 to make it 2-1! Alberta, though, would close out the game with MacDougall and Poznikoff on a two-on-one. MacDougall attempted a pass across to Poznikoff that Sorensen got her stick on, but DeBeauville had already slid across in anticipation of the pass to Poznikoff and the puck slid with Sorensen into the yawning cage at 17:11 to give Alberta the 3-1 victory. Owen made 15 saves in the victory while DeBeauville stopped 26 shots in the loss. Highlights of this game are below!

ALBERTA at MOUNT ROYAL: Both teams headed south on Highway 2 to Calgary where the Cougars would play host to the Pandas at Flames Community Arena as the back-half of the home-and-home to finish off the first-half of the schedule. If you were basing this game on Friday's results, let's just say you were in for a surprise. The Cougars got on the board at 8:06 when Kennedy Bozek's centering pass deflected off Lindsay Weech's leg and past Kirsten Chamberlin for the 1-0 lead. Despite outshooting Mount Royal 13-7 and dominating the Cougars at times, the Pandas found themselves down a goal at the end of the period.

Alberta continued the relentless attack early in the second period on a pair of power-plays, but the Cougars weathered the storm. It looked like DeBeauville might be in some trouble midway through the period when Amy Boucher ripped a slap shot off her mask, but she was back on her feet a few minutes later after shaking off the blast. That seemed to spark Mount Royal as they went to the power-play shortly thereafter. Anna Purschke's shot from the slot was stopped by Chamberlin, but Tatum Amy was on the doorstep to tap in the rebound at 13:00 for the power-play goal and the 2-0 lead! Despite being outshot 24-15, Mount Royal owned a two-goal lead through forty minutes!

A two-goal lead seemed to give Mount Royal confidence as they came flying out of the intermission. Alberta took an early penalty, and the Cougars went back to work on the power-play. Channia Alexander's shot was stopped, but Chamberlin couldn't corral the rebound and a scramble ensued. Rachel Piitz would eventually jam the puck past Chamberlin at 4:22 on the power-play, and the Cougars were up three goals. Alberta head coach Howie Draper was looking for an edge and pulled his goalie on a power-play with over five minutes to play, but it would be Kennedy Bozek who iced the game with her shorthanded, empty-net goal at 15:05 to send the Cougars into the break with a 4-0 victory! Zoe DeBeauville made 34 stops for her second shutout of the season while Chamberlin was on the losing end of a 22-save performance.

UBC at MANITOBA: The second-ranked team in the nation, the UBC Thunderbirds, traveled to the easternmost city in Canada West to visit the fourth-ranked team in the nation in the Manitoba Bisons. The anticipation at the Manitoba campus for this game was pretty high as these two potential Canada West finalists met for their second series of the season. While both teams are among the highest scoring teams in the conference, this game was more about the defences as they really limited shots and chances at both ends of the ice. The first penalty of the game came at the 9:00 mark to the Bisons, and the T-Birds used a rare power-play opportunity to strike. Alexa Ranahan's point shot from the middle of the ice was stopped by Lauren Taraschuk's right leg with all sorts of traffic in front of her, but the rebound came right to Brielle Bellerive who kicked it to the blade of her stick and slid it under Taraschuk as she was moving at 10:42 to put the Thunderbirds up 1-0! Tory Micklash denied all five Manitoba chances in the first frame, and the T-Birds took their lead to the locker room after twenty minutes.

The second period featured more stifling defence as the two teams combined for just seven shots over the twenty-minute frame. Micklash was outstanding in the UBC net as she squared up to shooters, controlled rebounds effectively, and smothered rebounds with the help of her defence keeping the front of the net clear of Bisons. While Manitoba did put five pucks on Micklash, the UBC netminder seemed to have little trouble with any of the shots.

The third period featured a little more offence as the Bisons opened up their play a little to try and push for the equalizer. UBC used some of this extra space on the ice to test Taraschuk nine times, but the rookie netminder would have none of those shots get past her. With the Bisons pressing, head coach Jon Rempel pulled Taraschuk in favour of the extra attacker with two minutes to play, but UBC would find the empty net twice as Emily Costales and Celine Tardif prevented any comeback on this night with goals. At the final horn, UBC prevailed in a 3-0 shutout win! Micklash was solid in stopping all 16 shots she faced for her first shutout of the season in helping snap the Bisons' nine-game winning streak while Taraschuk took the loss in a 15-save performance.

UBC at MANITOBA: Despite the two late empty-net goals scored the night before, the chess match between the T-Birds and the Bisons on Friday set up Saturday's game as Manitoba needed a win at Wayne Fleming Arena to split with UBC and retain their hold on first-place in Canada West. If Manitoba had any chance of earning the split, though, they'd have to find a way to beat Tory Micklash! Just like Friday's game, this one was more of a chess match as the two teams tried to find seams to get their offences going. It would take the special teams to finally crack Micklash midway through the period. Erica Rieder's shot was stopped by Micklash on the power-play, but Lauren Warkentin snuck in from the right face-off circle and snapped the rebound home at 11:20!
Warkentin's first Canada West goal in her career put the Bisons up 1-0! UBC would use their own power-play to strike back minutes later. Hannah Clayton-Carroll somehow got just enough on a shot to get it past Rachel Dyck for puck to just inch across the goal line, but it fully crossed the line at 14:44 and the T-Birds pulled even at 1-1! Despite chances in the final five minutes for both side, this game would head into the intermission at 1-1.

The second period saw Manitoba start to figure out the UBC defensive zone as they began getting more pucks and bodies to the net, but Micklash refused to allow anything by her. In the Manitoba end, Dyck was less busy than Micklash, but she too denied all chances. In fact, despite Manitoba outshooting UBC 17-7 through the second and third periods, this game was dominated by the goaltenders as Micklash and Dyck denied chances after chance through the final two periods. And you know what that means, right? FREE HOCKEY!

In the overtime period, Brielle Bellerive buried Alana Serhan into the boards in the corner, and she was given a seat in the sin bin for two minutes to reflect upon her illegal bodycheck. On the Manitoba four-on-three power-play, this happened.
Some good movement at the top of the power-play unit between Hovi and Rieder got the UBC triangle moving, and Hovi's one-timer from Sharman went directly below the crossbar for the overtime winner at the 2:00 mark as Manitoba takes the second game by a 2-1 score! Rachel Dyck stopped 12 shots for her fourth win in a row while Micklash stopped 25 shots in the overtime defeat.

CANADA WEST WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Manitoba
10-4-2-0
34 38 29
W1
JANUARY
British Columbia
9-4-1-2
31 35 25
L1
JANUARY
Alberta
7-3-3-3
30 37 29
L1
JANUARY
Saskatchewan
9-6-0-1
28 26 23
W1
JANUARY
Regina
6-8-1-1
21 27 31
L1
JANUARY
Calgary
6-8-0-2
20 17 23
W2
JANUARY
Lethbridge
3-9-2-2
15 18 24
L2
JANUARY
Mount Royal
3-11-2-0
13 22 36
W1
JANUARY

The Final Word

You know what? Today's Final Word isn't going to be an examination of the players or stats or teams or anything like that. Instead, I want to say thank you to a number of people who made the first-half of the Canada West season so enjoyable for me.

To my broadcast partner, TJ Phillips: you're going to be a broadcast legend one day. Thanks for being the voice of the Bisons women's hockey team for the last few years, for being a sounding board to my analyses and colour commentary, and for making this gig so much fun!

To the Manitoba Bisons: thanks for giving us the opportunity to call your games, the time for interviews, the exciting action, and the fun we have at the rink. It is truly an honour and a blessing to be able to call games all season long, and we'd be nothing without your hard work, dedication, and abilities. Thank you!

To Sports Information Director, Chris Zuk: thanks for putting up with our quirks and requests. You allow us to speak to the Bisons women's hockey team each week with no issues, and your interviews done on This Week In Bisons Sports and at the press conferences are invaluable to our broadcasts! Thanks, Chris!

To Ryan Stelter and Jason Pchajek of The Manitoban: thank you for coming on the intermission reports and delivering great news and insight into Bisons women's hockey and hockey in general. You guys are an invaluable resource on our broadcasts, and the university newspaper is lucky to have a couple of hard-working, dedicated, passionate reporters writing outstanding pieces for them. Thanks for everything, gents!

To the Mount Royal Cougars, Lethbridge Pronghorns, Calgary Dinos, Regina Cougars, Saskatchewan Huskies, Alberta Pandas, and UBC Thunderbirds: we've seen some of you this season at Wayne Fleming Arean while others will visit in the second-half of the season, but thank you to all of you for making this the most memorable first-half of hockey in recent memory. Your coaches and athletes are exceptional people both on and off the ice, and I love seeing the stories about them on social media! Thanks for being great teams with fantastic people!

To the parents and fans of the Manitoba Bisons: keep bringing the noise! Wayne Fleming Arena sounds like BellMTS Centre when the old barn is rocking! Your support of these players and this team mean the world, and we're happy to lend a voice to those who can't be in attendance. Thank you for your ongoing support of these amazing student-athletes!

It's been a fabulous first-half of hockey, and I'm already excited for January! I'll be taking the next couple of weeks off from The Rundown with no hockey being played, but I may still runa few features with the Bisons women's hockey team depending on schedules. Stay tuned for that here on HBIC!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Special Guest Saturday

Today was a fairly crazy day in the lives of TJ and myself as the broadcast crew for UMFM's Bisons women's hockey broadcast. Normally, our broadcasts are fairly crazy as it is since we chat about all sorts of stuff and have some fun on the radio broadcast, but today was a little closer to insanity as we welcomed a third person into the broadcast booth to do colour commentary! We've had guests in the past, so this shouldn't have thrown us for a loop, but today's guest was one of the people both TJ and I look up to in terms of broadcast professionalism and the national stage on which she performs! It's a big weekend for hockey in Winnipeg, and we're happy to have been a part of the fun!

The woman standing beside TJ in the press box picture above is none other than Rogers Hometown Hockey host Tara Slone! I reached out to Tara and the Rogers team when the Hometown Hockey locations were announced back in October, and Tara was gracious enough to allow us some of her time in her busy schedule to join us for the Bisons women's hockey broadcast!

Tara continually told TJ and I that she had never done this kind of broadcasting before, but we knew she'd be an excellent radio broadcaster. We gave her the all-important position of colour commentator on the broadcast, and she seemed a little overwhelmed at first. However, she absorbed a ton of information from TJ and I as we tried to make her job as easy as possible.

Once the game started, it seemed as though Tara settled in quite nicely! She was making astute observations, she had statistical information that she relayed to listeners, and she sounded like a seasoned veteran of a thousand hockey broadcasts by the middle of the first period. In all honesty, Tara would make an exceptional hockey broadcaster if she ever wanted to do a little extra broadcasting on the side! She'll say I'm crazy for suggesting that, but it's true! She really was outstanding!

I'll talk about the game tomorrow on The Rundown, but everyone from the Rogers Hometown Hockey crew that joined us on this day was a delight to meet. Rob was the first person I met, and he brought the enthusiasm as he stood in Wayne Fleming Arena. Randy, the cameraman who was documenting everything, was incredible as he has a zest for life like no one I've met before. These two guys might be the most positive and happy guys on the planet, and I feel lucky in saying that I met these two gentlemen! Thank you, Rob and Randy!

Deidre, the producer of Rogers Hometown Hockey, is a phenomenal woman who was kind enough to work with me in getting everything for this day set up. We had a good chat about how long TJ and I have been doing the radio broadcasts, a few words about The Hockey Show, how she's related to Friend of the Show Brandon Reid, and the whole Hometown Hockey production. She has a passion for her job and her attention to detail made it easy for me to ensure that the notes we had for Tara made Tara's job as colour commentator easy. It was an absolute pleasure to meet and speak with Deidre, and I hope our paths will cross again in the future! Thanks, Deidre!

And then there's Tara Slone who is simply one of the best at what she does. The fact that she jumped into colour commentary with both feet and not having had any experience in doing any sort of play-by-play in her life is a testament to the professionalism she brings to every assignment and broadcast. She's funny, she's dedicated to her craft, and she's an outstanding woman who did an exceptional job on the UMFM broadcast! Thank you for everything, Tara!

If you caught the broadcast today, I hope you enjoyed our call of the game. There was an obvious drop-off in talent and knowledge once Tara left the booth after the first period and I resumed my job, but I hope you'll continue to listen to TJ and I call games in the second-half of the Bisons' season once games resume in January. We really enjoy calling the games for our listeners and fans of Bisons women's hockey!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 1 December 2017

When The Bears Come To Town

Wow. I am running on no sleep, but I think the excitement and adrenaline is keeping me going right now. As you may have read yesterday, The Hockey Show was in Shilo, Manitoba for an amazing night of hockey as the CFB Shilo Stags played the Boston Bruins alumni to help raise funds for the Shilo Minor Hockey Association. To say that this night was incredible is seriously underselling how much fun we had out there, and I cannot say enough good stuff about the people and the town of Shilo in terms of their hospitality. We'll get to that in a minute, but let's do a little photo-blog for now!

I want to be upfront and say that all of these photos can be found on the CFB Shilo Stag newspaper Facebook site and the Shilo Stag Twitter account. Their ongoing coverage in and around the Shilo area is second-to-none, and they really captured some excellent visuals from the game! All photos were taken by CFB Shilo Stag editor Jules Xavier on this night with his Nikon camera, and he did an incredible job in photographing this game!

The Bruins lined up along the blue line prior to the game. They were announced individually much to the delight of the crowd, so let's run down the list of legends from farthest to nearest: Bob Sweeney, Terry O'Reilly (#24), Roy Nolan (goaltender), Bruce Crowder, Bruce Shoebottom (#40), Dan Lacouture, Tom Fergus (#28), Jay Miller, Al Iafrate (#43), Rick Middleton, #11 was a player named MacFarlane who joined the Bruins team, Ray Bourque, #17 is Sgt. Ian Taylor who put this whole thing together, #16 was another player who jumped aboard named Cullen, and the man nearest to the photographer was named Pandolfi!

The Bruins assumed the home bench in the game as they wore their iconic black-and-yellow jerseys. Jay Miller is standing in front of Tom Fergus on the ice while Rick Middleton and Al Iafrate take their spots on the bench.

Their opponents? The CFB Shilo Stags who looked sharp in their white uniforms! Standing at the far side furthest from the photographer in the #9 jersey is Montreal Canadiens legend Chris "Knuckles" Nilan! Stephen Black is the goaltender beside Nilan, and the shorter player beside Black is Isabelle Dubord. I'll talk a little about Miss Dubord below, but let me just say upfront that she stood out on the ice due to her incredible skill! #31 and closest to the photographer is Krista Eaton, and there was an incredible story written in The Brandon Sun by Ian Froese on the netminder earlier this year!

As you can see, a solid crowd filled the rink for the game with a lot of people decked out in Bruins merchandise. And jackets. Man, it was colder than a meat locker in Shilo Gunner Arena! And yes, it's a small rink, but Shilo isn't a big town. There isn't a major junior team there or anything, so it serves its purpose as a recreation center and rink. As you can see, the wooden rafters and ceiling show the rink's age, but it is really well-maintained. Honestly, there was a lot of character in the old barn, and it was a cool experience in seeing the old rink!

Let's talk a little about these Bruins legends because they can still play. Ray Bourque's first goal of the night saw him skate end-to-end past four checks like they weren't even there. He literally looks like he floats above the ice while he's skating. It's that effortless yet he moves like the wind. His goal was scored on the rush from the top of the right face-off circle where he fired a wrist shot that was more akin to a laser beam that beat Miss Eaton three inches off the ice and ripped through the netting behind her to land outside the goal. Ray Bourque can still play, and his seven points in the game is proof that his abilities have not diminished since retiring from the NHL!

While he didn't unleash any of his patented slap shots, Al Iafrate was also incredible on the ice. It's been twenty years since he last played in the NHL - man, I feel old! - but time hasn't slowed him down. Whatever was ailing his knees and back two decades ago wasn't slowing him last night. He turned on a dime when needed, picked corners on the poor Stags netminders like he was winning carnival prizes at the shooting gallery, and made some great stretch passes to the Bruins forwards. Between Iafrate and Bourque, they probably could have played two-on-five and the game still would have been competitive!

I'm not certain about the rules, but I believe Terry O'Reilly is breaking a number of them in carrying this minor hockey player! O'Reilly was up to his usual jovial ways on the ice as he was making others smile while playing his brand of old-time hockey. For a guy who is 66 years-old, O'Reilly looks like he still loves the game as he did when he was a central figure for the Big Bad Bruins in the 1970s. In speaking to him after the game, he's one of the nicest men you'll ever meet as well, making it hard to imagine that he was once one of the toughest hombres to lace up the skates in the NHL!

Among the many people I met in Shilo while doing the ol' radio thing was Isabelle Dubord who wore #2 for the Stags. Isabelle came out onto the ice wearing a GoPro, so she immediately stood out thanks to the added protuberance on her helmet. The GoPro was the last thing we talked about once the game started, however, because Isabelle's skill on the ice stood out in terms of how good she was. She's an excellent skater, she reads plays extremely well and often finds herself with the puck because of this skill, and she had some moves and jukes that Al Iafrate had to defend a few times!

What we didn't know at the time the game started was that Miss Dubord has professional hockey experience! Isabelle was a member of the Quebec Avalanche in the original NWHL back in 2005-06! In her rookie season, she scored a pair of goals in 17 games! How cool is that? Needless to say, we talked about that on the broadcast once we found out that Miss Dubord had quite the hockey history!

I will say this about the people of Shilo: they're awesome! We met Karen who was our heroine on this day. Anything we needed, she made it happen. From getting us a roster for the Stags to making us coffee to keep us warm in the frigid arena to checking on us routinely to ensure everything was going well, Karen was our first star of the night without any doubt! Thank you, Karen, for your incredible hospitality and allowing us to invade your arena!

The MVP of the night can be no other than Sgt. Ian Taylor of CFB Shilo. It was he who contacted Rick Middleton of the Bruins alumni team and helped to facilitate this amazing night of hockey and festivities. Having met and chatted with him at the after-party, Ian is a humble guy who loves his hockey and the Bruins, and he deserves a pile of recognition and kudos for all the hard work he did behind the scenes to make today happen. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that he picked up an assist in the third period while playing for and with the Bruins!

The staff at both the Garrison Grill, where the radio party picked up dinner, and at the Shilo Gunner Arena canteen were beyond phenomenal, and I can't recommend them enough if you have a chance to stop there. They are the happiest, smiley-est, outgoing-est people I have ever met, and their incredible spirit was genuinely welcoming. I cannot say enough good things about the people of Shilo, and I am better off for having met a number of them!

In the end, the Bruins officially won the game 13-8, but the score on the scoreboard was of little concern to all those in attendance. There was an electricity in the crowd in seeing the Bruins legends take the ice, and there was genuine happiness from all those working at the rink as they made a bundle of money for Shilo minor hockey. That was precisely the goal of the evening, and I'm happy to report that the Shilo Minor Hockey Association will be in good hands for some time.

It's not often one gets to mingle with the likes of Bourque, Iafrate, Middleton, O'Reilly, Crowder, Shoebottom, Miller, Sweeney, Fergus, Lacouture, Nilan, and Dubord in terms of professional hockey players, but the town of Shilo welcomed them with open arms and showed them just how big the heart of small town can be. The Bruins, for their part, put on quite a show in helping the Shilo Minor Hockey Association raise a boatload of cash, and that's the best part of this story.

I, Joel, my father, and The Hockey Show were proud, honoured, humbled, and privileged to be a part of this amazing day in Shilo, Manitoba, and I have a feeling that I'll be visiting again in the future! Thank you for allowing us to take part in this great event!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 271

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, finally made it to Shilo Gunner Arena! As you may be aware, we're out in the Manitoba town known better for the military installation that makes up the majority of its population for a night of fundraising, fun, and some NHL alumni action! It sounds as though the majority of the rink's tickets have been sold, if not completely sold out by this point, so there should be a good crowd on-hand for a great night of hockey here in Shilo, Manitoba!

Tonight, The Hockey Show will begin its broadcast at 4:30pm on UMFM's Second Stream, the online stream that is separate from the radio frequency. We'll broadcast the entire show on the Second Stream tonight as we have a special broadcast that will involve some very notable NHL alumni! Of course, we'll have our normal 5:30pm to 6:30pm show via UMFM's 101.5 FM frequency, but I will be calling the PFC Shilo Stags game as they battle the NHL's Boston Bruins alumni team starting at 6pm! Among the players who are confirmed and in Shilo as you read this include Ray Bourque, Rick Middleton, and Terry O'Reilly, so this game is already star-studded just with those three names mentioned! If you want to listen to the full broadcast, hit the UMFM's Second Stream to listen to the extended show and the calling of the alumni game as The Hockey Show lends its support to Shilo, Manitoba in an effort to help raise funds for the Shilo minor hockey association!

Social media is a god place to catch up on everything going on, and we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! 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. 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 talk Bruins, Shilo minor hockey, Shilo hockey in general, and we try to find a couple of big-name stars who may want to have a little radio time on The Hockey Show found exclusively in its entirety on UMFM's Second Stream!

PODCAST: November 30, 2017: Episode 271

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Two-For-Two With Yellow

I always like it when players do something to make their looks unique in the world of sports. While I'm not suggesting not falling into form when it comes to wearing the team uniform, hockey players rarely get to personalize their looks unless one is a goaltender. The picture to the left was taken five days ago, however, when the Dallas Stars honoured long-time Star Jere Lehtinen as they retired his jersey. Lehtinen, as you'll see below, wore yellow skate laces when he played, so the current team honoured him by donning his iconic look against the Calgary Flames on November 24.

Lehtinen, seen to the right wearing his bright yellow laces, was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars 88th overall in 1992, and played his entire fifteen-year career with the Minnesota/Dallas franchise. There are images of him wearing white laces, but his time in Dallas was capped off by having the veteran Finnish player wear yellow laces. There haven't been many players who have worn laces other than white in the NHL, it's nice to see that Lehtinen, who always seemed to shy away from the spotlight, is being recognized for something that made him stand out.

So why is this important, you ask? Well, the Dallas Stars skated with the yellow laces on Friday at home against the Calgary Flames, and they won the game 6-4 to move to 12-10-4 on the season. Tyler Seguin had an outstanding night in registering the hat trick for half his team's offence, scoring the game-winning goal, and adding an empty-netter. Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist, Antoine Roussel and Gemel Smith added singles, and Ben Bishop recorded the 34-save win.

Ok, so there's nothing special there, right? Well, the Vegas Golden Knights welcomed the Dallas Stars to Sin City last night. Vegas is neck-and-neck with the Los Angeles Kings for the Pacific Division lead, so they're no pushovers as they are 9-1-0 at home. With the Stars still wearing the yellow laces, let's go to the video!
Radek Faksa records the natural hat trick in the middle frame, Ben Bishop made 34 saves (again) in recording the shutout, and the Dallas Stars won 3-0. That's two wins with the "Lehtinen Laces" and you know how superstitious NHL players can be, right? I suspect we'll see these yellow laces until they lose.

The Dallas Stars: invincible with yellow laces? We shall see!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Give A Toast!

Today is officially Giving Tuesday, and I don't usually partake in goofy promotions unless there's a significantly good cause attached to it. Asking me to toss my hard-earned money away on something frivolous is like asking me to cut off my right arm with a butter knife. It's never going to happen, and, quite frankly, it's a dumb request. However, when goofy promotional items are tied into a good cause, I tend to lean towards helping said cause by purchasing the promotional item. Canadian Tire and its Jumpstart program are doing some good work in helping kids who face barriers get into and stay into sports, and that's something I can say I fully support.

From the Jumpstart website, the mission of Jumpstart is simple: give all kids a chance to play.
Jumpstart is more than just about getting kids active. It's about giving kids from families in financial need the same chance to participate as their neighbours, their classmates and their friends. Whether it's the chance to try a new sport or to continue with a favourite one, no kid should be left out.

The vision of Jumpstart is simple: Canada, where all kids have a chance to fulfill their dreams.

Jumpstart is a national charity with a commitment to local communities. Organized sports connect kids to their communities. Canadian Tire Corporation recognized this and makes sure that money raised stays where it is donated. Canadian Tire Corporation is Jumpstart's biggest supporter as it funds all the general administrative expenses of Jumpstart, which means 100% of customer donations go directly to help kids in need.

Community Partners, like the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Boys and Girls Club, Maison de la Famille, URLS, Centre Jeunesse and numerous others work with local Jumpstart Chapters to identify the kids whose families need Jumpstart’s funding assistance to get them off the sidelines and into the game. What kids do is up to them; we’re here to help them do it.

Jumpstart: Giving Kids a Sporting Chance.
HBIC doesn't have the budget of the Canadian Tire Corporation. Heck, it doesn't have a budget for pens or paper. What it does have, though, is a writer who believes that all kids, regardless of any barrier that may potentially stop them from playing, should play. Supporting Jumpstart is a no-brainer for me, and I'm happy that my money is going to cause that I truly believe in.

In order to raise some additional funds with hockey season rolling around, Canadian Tire and Jumpstart called on three ambassadors to lend their names and faces to the campaign. Wayne Gretzky, Connor McDavid, and Jonathan Toews all jumped aboard the campaign, and Canadian Tire came up with the "Give A Toast" campaign. The three NHL stars above had their faces replicated out of metal and placed inside the toaster so that whatever item one wants to toast will end up with Greztky's, McDavid's, or Toews' face on the golden brown food. The cost for one of these toasters? Just $25. So I splurged on the greatest toaster in NHL history, the Wayne Gretzky toaster!

Upon opening the cardboard box that the Gretzky toaster was sent in, I was greeted with... another box? The red top of the box was nestled just blow the flaps of the shipping box, so it appears that Canadian Tire did their homework when it came to shipping these toasters in properly-sized containers. Both boxes feel sturdy and they were shipped via Purolator with no visible damage on either box, so I did what any kid would on Christmas morning: I removed the toaster from its cardboard encasement.

Not a bad looking toaster, if I do say so myself! Well, the box looks alright. There's an English and French side on all four sides. The smaller side talks about the #GiveAToast campaign, and reads, "Wow. What an incredible decision you've made. Not only have you purchased a toaster that makes every piece of bread a legend, but all proceeds from the purchase of this toaster go to Jumpstart, helping Canadian kids get off the sidelines and into the game. So from both the kids, and the bread, we say thank you." All the proceeds? I feel pretty good about my purchase now.

Upon opening the box, you get your standard warranty information and a user's manual. The warranty info was interesting in that it explicitly says, "This product cannot be returned to Canadian Tire stores." It makes you wonder if Canadian Tire sells this brand of toaster. Speaking of which, it appears to be a Pangea Brand toaster. Pangea Brands produces a number of licensed toasters including a Darth Vader toaster, a Domo toaster (which oddly looks similar to the Gretzky toaster model), NHL team toasters, and MLB team toasters. These specialized toaster images seem to be their thing when it comes to toasters. Reviews vary wildly depending on which site you check for the Pangea Brands toasters, but all I really care about is whether Wayne Gretzky looks like Wayne Gretzky on my toast.

The toaster, upon removing it from its branded box, is smaller than what I expected. As you can see on the ruler, it's only about eight inches in width, so this thing won't be able to toast foot-long hot dog buns or anything. The slots for toasting aren't very wide either, so thicker toast such as Texas-style toast will be a tight fit into the toaster. Overall, though, the aesthetic is pleasing. It has a very retro feel to it, the image of Gretzky on the side is a clear black-and-white photo of The Great One, and the cord is of decent length to be used in any kitchen. I'd say that for $25 I got what I paid for.

So how does it toast? That's the big question, right? Well, we're going to save that suspense for another few weeks. On December 21, 2017, I'll be bringing the toaster to the radio studio for The Hockey Show that night where we'll toast as many things as we can while posting the results to social media. White bread, brown bread, Pop Tarts, toaster strudels, waffles, hashbrowns... basically anything that can be toasted by a standard upright toaster will be tested to see how Wayne Gretzky's face appears on them! You'll have to keep your eyes peeled on social media that night as we toast The Great One in style!

If you have the means today, folks, please give to a charity. Giving Tuesday is all about helping someone or people who are less fortunate that you. If you're in Canada and you want to see how the money that has been donated to Jumpstart has been spent, you can look up the information with this handy tool. The fact that they give demographics on how much has been spent on boys and girls is a good indicator that no child will be left on the sidelines. Isn't that what giving is all about?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!