Monday, 11 November 2019

Lest We Forget

I know there was major news today surrounding the comments made by one hockey personality, but you won't find me dissecting those comments here. Today is a day for honouring the men and women who bravely stood for the freedoms that we believe in while helping other countries maintain or regain those freedoms while remembering the ultimate sacrifices made by those who didn't return home from those battles. I know the controversy swirls around the flowers pictured above, but today is bigger than that controversy. The men and women of the armed forces earned the right to have this day, and I will honour them by remembering those sacrifices.

Never forget what these men and women did, and honour them by wearing your poppy at the eleven o'clock location over your heart to show everyone that you hold our veterans in the most esteemed light. They are brave, courageous, and unwavering both in battle and in life, and those whose lives were taken far too young deserve to be honoured by being remembered on this day.

Never forget, folks. HBIC is closed in order to pay my respects to our brave veterans.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Rundown - Week 6

With the second-half of the conference bye in full swing, it was another weekend with just four teams in action playoff picture while Mount Royal and Lethbridge looked to claim first-place once more with sweeps of their own. With four teams idle, there was likely going to be some movement in the standings, so let's find out who sits where after six weeks of games on this week's edition of The Rundown!

The battle of the cellar dwellers in Canada West had more to it than just who would end up in seventh-place and eighth-place. A weekend sweep by either team would put them within reach of the final playoff spot, so there was a lot on the line this weekend if either team hoped to make a run at a playoff spot after slow starts. Jane Kish got the start for the Cougars while Amanda Schubert was in net for the Bisons.

The teams came out with a sense of defence as the play was mostly kept to the neutral zone. The Cougars were the more aggressive team as they had a number of times of sustained pressure in the Manitoba zone where they moved the puck and their feet, drawing penalties on the sluggish Bisons. The second penalty to the Bisons wouldn't result in a goal, but it was the power-play formation that saw Regina score first as Jaycee Magwood skated off the wall in the corner and fed Paige Hubbard cross-crease at the backdoor for the easy chip by Schubert to put Regina up 1-0 at 15:10! Kish and Schubert would give nothing else before the horn as Regina went to the break up 1-0 and leading 9-6 in shots.

The second period saw Manitoba find more shots, but almost none came from the high-danger areas. Nonetheless, Manitoba drove more of the play in the second frame compared to the first. Even with that increased shot total, it did not faze Kish as she stood her ground. At the opposite end, Schubert was less busy, but kept her focus sharp as she turned aside all Regina shots. After two periods, Regina held onto their one-goal lead despite Manitoba holding a 15-13 edge in shots.

The third period was more of the same as Manitoba couldn't penetrate the high-danger scoring areas enough to generate genuine scoring chances despite throwing more shots on Kish. Regina's defence simply cleaned up any rebounds that Kish couldn't corral and tied up Manitoba sticks on the way to the net. Again, Schubert had little to do in the third period as Manitoba's defence blocked shots and moved the puck, but it would Kish and the defence that shone on this night as Regina skated to the 1-0 win as the final horn sounded. Jane Kish earned her first win and first shutout of the season by denying all 24 Manitoba shots while Amanda Schubert deserved a better fate after stopping 16 shots for her team.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: As Manitoba's scoring woes bled into another weekend - more on that in The Last Word - there was a sense of urgency to break the scoreless drought and get thing righted in Bisons' camp. Regina, fresh off a shutout and a big win, looked to continue the momentum from that win on Friday into Saturday. Jane Kish got the call after a big night on Friday for the Cougars while Manitoba sent Erin Fargey out to the crease.

If Friday's Bisons team looks slow and sluggish, the Saturday edition was out to erase those memories as the Bisons came out physical with their feet moving which resulted in much better chances early on. That effort was also reflective on the defensive end as the Bisons kept the Cougars to the perimeter for most shots while limiting good scoring chances on Fargey. It seems the only thing that didn't go right for the Bisons was scoring goals, but the teams went into the intermission tied 0-0, but with Regina leading 8-7 in shots.

The second saw Manitoba use their speed to create chances as they opened up the game. Kate Gregoire, using her speed, appeared to have the first goal of the game as she broke in alone on Kish from right to left while flipping the puck back towards the abandoned right side of the cage, but her shot caught iron as the Bisons were once again denied a goal. Despite holding an 8-5 edge in shots, both goalies kept the scoresheet blank as the teams went into the second break tied 0-0.

Regina appeared to take control early in the third period as they had a handful of chances, but Fargey was equal to the task. Manitoba began to exert their will as the period rolled on, simplifying their game by trying to get more screens in front of Kish. While the strategy was effective, Kish and her defenders would smother pucks or clear them quickly to take second chances away from the Bisons. When the horn sounded, these two teams were still tied 0-0 and would need overtime to find a winner!

In the extra hockey frame, Jordy Zacharias was whistled for tripping on what appeared to be Tamara McVannel falling. Despite her protests, the Cougars went to the power-play, and it would Tamara Mcvannel who zipped a shot through the five-hole of a screened Erin Fargey at 2:39 of overtime to give the Cougars the 1-0 victory! Jane Kish earned her second win and second shutout of the season by blanking Manitoba on 26 shots while Erin Fargey did all she could, but suffered the loss on Regina's 15th shot of the night.

Highlights of this game are below!

In what could be a battle for first-place in the conference, Mount Royal kicked off the home-and-home in Lethbridge this weekend. Six points for either squad would put that team all alone in first-place, so there were some big stakes in this series. Zoe de Beauville took to nets for Mount Royal while Alicia Anderson was in her normal place between the pipes for the Pronghorns.

The home side didn't have to wait long for a goal as Tricia Van Vaerenbergh's long shot following a face-off win made its way through traffic and went low past de Beauville as Lethbridge jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 3:47 into the game! Mount Royal, not to be outdone, drew a hooking penalty on Ashlee Hodge-Hirschfield midway through the period and they went to work on the power-play. Some good puck movement by the Cougars resulted in an Emma Bergesen one-timer from the high slot that was stopped by Anderson, but Breanne Trotter corralled the rebound and slid it by the netminder as Mount Royal squared the game 1-1 at 12:13 on the power-play! Mount Royal continued to pepper Anderson and the Pronghorns defence with shots as the period closed, but the game would remained tied at a goal apiece with MRU leading 15-8 in shots!

The second period saw Mount Royal come out and maintain their level of aggressiveness, but a Camryn Amundson penalty was the opportunity that Lethbridge needed. Eryn Johnasen's point shot hit a body in front and popped out to where Madison Porter was heading to the net, and Porter fired the puck past de Beauville before she could cover the net for a power-play marker at 7:26 as Lethbridge went up 2-1! Mount Royal seemed unfazed as they continued their barrage on the Lethbridge net, but Alicia Anderson was perfect in the second period! As the teams went to the break, Lethbridge maintained their one-goal lead despite being outshot 30-13 through 40 minutes of play!

Just as they had done for two periods, Mount Royal threw a ton of pucks at the Lethbridge net in the third period. Anderson, however, was having none of it as she was in full denial mode on this night. With four minutes remaining in the game, Van Vaerenbergh corralled an Alli Borrow pass at center and pulled away from a defender on a breakaway before going to her backhand where she roofed a puck past de Beauville to make it a 3-1 game with 3:55 to go! That insurance marker was more than enough for Anderson as the Pronghorns claimed a 3-1 victory at the final horn! Alicia Anderson was spectacular in stopping 42 shots for her sixth win of the season while Zoe de Beauville suffered her third loss in a 16-save effort.

Highlights of this game are below!


Canada West hockey has been entertained by the amazing goaltending of Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson for some time now. The fifth-year goalie has perennially been one of the best netminders in the conference despite her team's record, and she's literally been the reason that Lethbridge had remained in games in years past. There's no doubt that she is one of the best at stopping the puck that this conference has seen in its history, and now we can call her the best to do so.

As per Paul Cartledge, the Canada West stats guy, Anderson's 42 saves tonight moved her past former Lethbridge Pronghorns netminder Crystal Patterson - a woman she replaced starting in the 2015-16 season - for career saves made. Patterson's old record of 3314 saves made in her career is now second to Alicia Anderson's total of 3328, meaning that the final Mount Royal shot of the second period in tonight's game was the save to put her in first-place all-time! I've immortalized Alicia in NHL '94 player form for her record-setting night, but let me congratulate Alicia Anderson here and now for her accomplishment!

Congratulations from Hockey Blog in Canada, Alicia, for stopping more pucks than anyone else!

With the series shifting back to Calgary and Flames Community Arena, the Pronghorns were looking to grab a hold of first-place by themselves with a sweep of the Cougars. Mount Royal was looking to put space between themselves, Alberta, and Saskatchewan while competing for a top-two finish that would give them a bye in the opening round of the playoffs. Alicia Anderson got the start after her record-setting night while rookie Kaitlyn Ross was given the task of knocking off the conference's top team.

Mount Royal continued right where they left off the night before by being the more aggressive team in putting pucks on net. However, like one night earlier, the same results were found as Anderson denied all opportunities. At the other end, Ross was looking to keep her record on the season perfect, and she helped her cause in the opening frame by denying all Lethbridge chances as well. After 20 minutes, the game was tied 0-0 with Mount Royal holding a 12-7 edge in shots!

The second period saw more good defence and more exceptional goaltending as the two sides continued to hunt for goals. Anderson and Ross, however, were unwilling to participate in the scoring as they denied all chances once again, and we'd move to the third period still tied at 0-0 and with Mount Royal up 21-12 in shots.

Three minutes into the third period, we'd see the stalemate broken when Kate Hufnagel's long shot went through her defender and past Anderson on the blocker side at 2:58 to put the Cougars up 1-0! The Cougars would extend that lead on the power-play midway through the period when Emma Bergesen's wrap-around went through the crease under Anderson, allowing Andrea Sanderson to tap home the power-play goal at 12:17 to put MRU up a pair! From there, Kaitlyn Ross and the Cougars defence did the rest as they withstood the Pronghorns attack through to the final horn to claim the 2-0 win! Kaitlyn Ross earned her fourth win and second shutout by stopping all 20 shots she faced while Alicia Anderson suffered the loss despite making 31 saves.

Highlights of this game are below!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
19 23 18
vs UBC
British Columbia
19 17 22
Mount Royal
18 19 11
17 18 17
vs MRU
16 15 15
14 28 16
10 14 24
vs ALB
7 9 20
vs SAS

The Last Word

If there was ever a few numbers that should worry a fanbase, here are three: 4, 2, and 243:57. All three of these numbers are related to the Manitoba Bisons who simply just cannot score goals. They had multiple chances over the weekend against Regina only to be shutout in both games, and they'll welcome one of the best defensive teams in the conference to Wayne Fleming Arena next weekend in the Saskatchewan Huskies. If you were worried before, the three numbers above won't help.

Manitoba has been shutout in four-straight games while losing five-straight games. In those games, they've scored a total of one goal - October 19 at Calgary - while racking up 102 shots. To make matters worse, they scored zero goals at five-on-five play in those five games, and that should have head coach Jon Rempel searching for goals in any fashion through whatever means he has to take. With the talent on this roster, there is no way that they should be under-performing as often as they are. However, when your team is shooting a collective 0.98% as a unit over five games, you have serious scoring problems.

The second number is two, and that should worry Manitoba fans, coaches, and players because that's the number of goals that Manitoba has scored on home ice in four home games. The last time that Manitoba scored at home was October 12 when they downed the Mount Royal Cougars 2-0. Since then, they've been shutout three times on home ice. They're just 1/16 on the power-play at home, they've hit the net with just 84 shots in four home games (21 shots/game), and have a shooting percentage of just 2.3% at home. When a team has the last change and can get favourable lines out against potentially weaker lines of their opposition, that 6.25% power-play success rate, 2.3% shooting percentage, and low average shot totals are big indicators that this team simply doesn't find quality scoring chances often nor do they generate a lot of chances. Let's upgrade that "serious scoring problems" comment to "catastrophic scoring problems".

The last number is 243:57, and that's the length of time in minutes and seconds since Manitoba last scored on October 19 when Chloe Snaith scored on the power-play against Kelsey Roberts with 3:57 to play in the third period of a 2-1 loss to the Dinos. With just nine goals in ten games, this team may challenge the 2017-18 Calgary Dinos for fewest goals in a 28-game season with 22, and the reality of the situation is that Manitoba plays Saskatchewan (second-best defensive team this season), Alberta (best possession team this season), and Lethbridge (first-place in conference) over the next six games before the December break. No one will have mercy for Manitoba in those six games, so that 243:57 time may be extended further based on Manitoba's opposition. Much further. Again, we'll update that "catastrophic scoring problems" to "nearly-impossible-to-achieve scoring problems".

Now it's easy to sit here and throw out stats and make comments, so here's the solution for this apocalyptic scoring drought: get mean! If you watched or listened to the Manitoba broadcasts this weekend featuring Kyleigh Palmer and I, you likely heard us talking about how no player on Manitoba ever dropped a shoulder and cut hard to the net, how Bisons players were being pushed around by the Cougars, and how they gave far too much respect to players like Magwood and McVannel. That has to end here and now. The best teams in Canada have an edge to them, and they don't let other teams skate into their barns and push them around.

Manitoba has already lost the same number of games as they did all of last season, so let's be honest and say that playing passively for the remainder of the season is not an option. This team needs to discover its edge in rapid fashion or they'll set new records for scoring futility this season. That's not how the Manitoba Bisons play, and it certainly shouldn't sit well with these players who came from great programs. And they're being embarrassed by programs with which they should be competing, if not beating.

For the remainder of this season, Manitoba needs to adopt Patches O'Houlihan's advice in Dodgeball because there are no other options being this far behind at this point in the season. His advice?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 9 November 2019

More Than An Oops

The image above is from last night's WHL game between the visiting Swift Current Broncos and the host Regina Pats. Clearly, the blue paint shouldn't be covered in another colour, so something went wrong at the Brandt Centre last night. The end result was that the game between the Broncos and Pats had to be cancelled. Oops.

According to reports, the rink attendant was using a drill to drill the holes for the moorings following the resurfacing of the rink. It was during this drilling of those mooring holes that the liquid in question began to surface from the hole and flood the ice surface. So what went wrong, you ask? Let's dig into how some rink science.

Beneath the rink surface in every rink are lines that pump brine water through them. The calcium-chloride brine water has a lower freezing temperature than water - normally set to 16F or -9C - so the brine water acts as a coolant for the ice on top of it. As the ice freezes, the brine water pipes keep the ice frozen in relation to the temperature above it, essentially freezing the layers of ice from the bottom up to keep everything frozen as players skate on it, fall on it, and occasionally lie on it.

The Brandt Center was built in 1977, so it has brine piping running under the ice above the concrete floor, and it seems that the rink attendant may have drilled the mooring hole a little too deep, puncturing the brine pipe below the goal. The result was the brine pumping out of the pipe and up the hole onto the ice surface above. This isn't the first time something like this has happened in a hockey rink, but one would expect a WHL team to have rink attendants that would know not to drill deep into the ice.

The good news is that Regina doesn't have another home game until November 16, so there's more than enough time to melt the ice, repair the pipe, and get everything back up and running for their game against Prince Albert. This mistake is a costly one when one considers the dollars and cents that goes into making these repairs, and I'm sure there will be some training sessions instituted for all rink attendants going forward.

There has been no announcement as to when the Broncos and Pats will make up this game, but I have a feeling that there will be zero ice issues going forward at the Brandt Centre for the remainder of the season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 8 November 2019

Musician With A Jersey Problem

Raise your hand if you have a closet full of personalized hockey jerseys and aren't sure what to do with them. As you can see, the man to the left has his hand raised. That's musician Dierks Bentley who has been featured a number of times on this blog thanks to hockey teams giving him hockey jerseys at every stop he makes when touring. As far as I can tell, Dierks is a hockey fan, but what does one do when one has dozens of hockey jerseys from all over North America?

Back in 2013 when I started this endeavor in finding pictures of musicians wearing jerseys, it was simply to track how many musicians are given jerseys regardless of whether they had any care about that hockey franchise or not. For the most part, it seems most have little interest in hockey as a sport let alone specific franchises, but there are some true hockey fans in the musical world.

That being said, Dierks Bentley seems to have a wee bit of a problem.
Seriously? Seriously.

Let's just run through a handful of the jerseys that he has lying on his garage floor. In no particular order, he has jerseys from the following teams:

  • four (4) Arizona Coyotes
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Minnesota Wild
  • New Jersey Devils
  • AHL Portland Pirates
  • NCAA University of Maine Black Bears
  • QMJHL Lewiston Maine-iacs
  • two (2) New York Rangers
  • two (2) WHL Spokane Chiefs
  • AHL Milwaukee Admirals
  • BCHL Wenatchee Wild
  • amateur hockey Duluth Warriors
  • QMJHL Saint John Sea Dogs
  • SPHL Memphis River Kings
  • ECHL Allen Americans
  • AHL Hamilton Bulldogs
  • USHL Waterloo Blackhawks
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • two (2) Calgary Flames
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • two (2) WHL Saskatoon Blades
  • NHL All-Star Game (from Nashville)
  • two (2) Edmonton Oilers
  • AHL Utica Comets
  • AHL Albany River Rats
  • WHL Regina Pats
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • six (6) Nashville Predators
  • NCAA University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks
  • two (2) NCAA University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • NCAA St. Cloud State Huskies
  • IIHF Team USA World Cup of Hockey
  • WHL Kamloops Blazers
  • New York Islanders
  • AHL Ontario Reign
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
How many thousands of dollars in jerseys does Dierks Bentley have? On top of that, why are the Coyotes giving him four jerseys when they were crying poor for so long? And the University of North Dakota, who cut their women's hockey program, has given him three jerseys?

If Bentley is actually asking what one does with thousands of dollars in jerseys, he should be autographing them and auctioning them off with the proceeds going to charity. I have a feeling he's not serious about his question, though, so it's likely those plastic bins will house them until Bentley decides what to do with them.

While Dierks Bentley has a sick jersey collection thanks to his tour dates across North America, I seriously doubt he's ever worn 10% of those jerseys after having left those cities.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 7 November 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 372

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with what I'm hoping will be the first of many shows we do in collaboration with great podcasters around the city. Tonight, I'm pleased to welcome two great people to the show from a podcast I've been listening to for a while, and I'm pleased to bring back a couple of regulars for the very first Winnipeg Jets Superfan Roundtable on The Hockey Show!

It's a big night for chatting Jets and all the news surrounding the team as I'm proud to welcome AJ and Roddy from the Jets Centric Podcast! These two guys have done some amazing work in getting the podcast off the ground, and I'm happy to give them a little airtime to come and chat Jets with us. Along with AJ and Roddy, we'll welcome Skippy to the show as he's a monster Jets fan, and I'm proud to welcome back Jason Pchajek, sports editor for The Manitoban. The five of us will talk about Dustin Byfuglien's situation, life without Bryan Little following his horrific injury a couple of nights ago, the new players, Wheeler playing center on the second line, and more! It should be a fun show, so join us at 5:30pm CT for all the Jets chatter you can handle on the Jets Superfan Roundtable!

Where's the best place can you hear us, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to! 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 is joined by Skippy, Jason Pchajek, and two of the amazing dudes who run the Jets Centric Podcast in AJ and Roddy to talk all things Winnipeg Jets on the first Winnipeg Jets Superfan Roundtable only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: November 7, 2019: Episode 372

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Stars Honour Their Past

The Dallas Stars did a little unveiling of their own today after the Nashville Predators got things started a few days ago with their Winter Classic duds. The image to the right is how the Stars looked following the switch to Reebok, and I believe the majority of the hockey world wanted to know why the Stars started a university team. Thanks to that unimaginative redesign, it prompted the creation of "Victory Green" and a rather good-looking jersey and logo as the Stars moved back into the world of respectable looks. Would their recent upward trend when it comes to their uniforms continue with the Winter Classic uniform today?

Like the Predators did in honouring the Nashville Dixie Flyers, it seems the Stars went back in their city's history to find inspiration with their Winter Classic uniform as they drew upon the old Dallas Texans who called the city home in the 1940s. The Texans played in the United States Hockey League from 1945-49 at the Dallas Ice Arena, but they never won more than 27 games and only advanced to the second round of the playoffs once in their four seasons. For what it's worth, only the Houston Huskies won the Paul W. Loudon Trophy as league champions, and all three Texas-based teams - Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth - folded in 1949. It was a short existence for the Texans, but they did boast former NHLer Bud Cook as their head coach in the final two seasons.

So how did the Stars honour their past?
As you may be aware, I am a huge fan of green uniforms in hockey, so the Stars started off well with their choice of a green uniform to play in on January 1. Like the Texans, they used the large "D" in the middle background of their logo while writing "Stars" across the chest just as the Texans did. I understand the usage of the star in place of the "A", but that seems a little superfluous. The use of the brown gloves recreates the old-time hockey feel, and the white breezers should hold up fairly well after watching the Capitals play in a Winter Classic in white pants.

The state of Texas patch on the arm is a nice touch that doesn't distract from the jersey, and the simple design really gives way to a traditional feel of a sweater. Honestly, this is a great jersey, and I am actually excited to see both the Predators and the Stars on the ice come New Year's Day!

Thoughts on how the Stars and Predators will look? Do you like the Winter Classic jerseys? Leave those thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

That's Winnipeg

Well, it seems the city that I call home has topped another list that one would believe should bother me, but it doesn't. In fact, I'm quite content with being numero uno on the list that we topped as ESPN went out and did an NHL player poll and asked all sorts of questions that generated a whole range of answers. Winnipeg, known for cold winters and boisterous fans, made the list in one major category, and it's something that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn't bother anyone who lives here.

According to ESPN, 42% of the players polled said Winnipeg was their number-one choice when it came to "Which road city do you dread the most". Again, one can look at that and think that the 42% of players who suggested Winnipeg are jerks and don't deserve to play here with that kind of attitude, but I would suggest that we should be happy that opposing players don't like coming here. If there's a psychological advantage to gain, why not take it?

According to one player, "Winnipeg. It's always cold. Tough rink to play in. It's just dirty - you walk around the city and feel like you need to wash your face after you go outside. So nothing about it is very exciting."

Hey, Winnipeg is cold in winter! Did you also know water is wet and sugar is sweet? No one should be surprised by this comment, and the "dirty" comment is likely a reflection of the use of sand on the streets in the winter that turn everything a gray-brown colour that - surprise, surprise! - makes everything dirty. As for washing one's face, I'm not sure where that comes from, but to each their own.

The piece in that statement that stands out is "tough rink to play in" because we've heard players say the atmosphere at BellMTS Centre is electric. From the crowd chanting at players to the cheers and jeers that are delivered with each big hit to simply playing a Jets team feeding off the crowd's energy, BellMTS Centre should always be a tough place to play for anyone not wearing a Jets jersey on the ice.

A second player piped up and said, "Winnipeg is just depressing. You don't even want to leave the hotel to get a cup of coffee."

Ok, fine. One is entitled to one's opinion, but this is where the psychological battle is won. If a player doesn't want to be here, he likely won't be dialed in when it comes time to play. Getting hyped when one feels depressed is a little easier said than done, so the Jets should be using this information to their advantage by coming out of the tunnel with all sorts of energy in the early stage of the game. Get on teams early if they're not wanting to be here, and make them hate Winnipeg a little more by sending them home with a loss.

I get that Winnipeg isn't Florida or California or Texas or Arizona, and it will never be any of those warm-weather states. Winnipeggers know that it drops to -40 Celsius in the winter and that sand is essential for traction on the roads. While we complain about it and poke fun at it, life goes on as Winnipeg keeps moving. We bundle up with an extra layer or two, we all drive cars that are some hue of gray-brown, and we continue to cheer for the Jets in the dead of winter. That's Winnipeg in a nutshell.

While it's a far stretch to suggest that opposing players will ever develop some sort of "Philly flu" while visiting Winnipeg as they did when visiting the Flyers in the 1970s, perhaps it would be good for these players who complain about Winnipeg to ask to be healthy-scratched when visiting here so they can rejoin their teammates at the airport once the game is over so they don't have to endure this wretched city and all its depressing features. I'll issue an apology for our lack of heat and the amount of dirt that don't meet one's lofty standards for playing hockey in exchange for more healthy scratches from players who don't like it here.

Seems like a fair deal for everyone, right? And just so we're clear...

'Nuff said.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Why All The Extra Letters?

As you may have heard, there a leagues across Canada rebranding themselves to remove insensitive words from their names. The word "midget" was deemed to be insensitive, and I'm not here to debate that. If you want to have that debate, take it offline. What I am here to discuss is the new name of the former Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League which was the AAA program for girls in Manitoba under the age of 18. The logo and the name were changed this season with the removal of "midget" from the league vernacular, so what did Manitoba land on for a new name and logo?

We'll go back to April where Hockey Manitoba agreed to remove the word at the urging of the Little People of Manitoba organization. Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk, president of Little People of Manitoba, told Elisha Dacey of Global News, "It's a word that comes from the freak-show era days, where little people were put on display to be laughed at, ridiculed, mocked. The 'M' word also stems from a midge, which means tiny fly that spreads disease. I’m not sure if anybody would want to be referred to as that."

Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Winnipeg both began the process of removing "midget" from leagues they oversee, and other sport organizations have done the same. The move follows a December move by Hockey Canada to remove the word from their age groupings.

In saying that, the MFMHL moves to become the MFHLU18AAA...LMNOP. For real... except the LMNOP part. The Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League will now be known as the Manitoba Female Hockey League Under-18 AAA moving forward as they fall in line with the new mandates set by Hockey Manitoba. While I like the "Manitoba Female Hockey League" portion, I'm not certain that the "U18AAA" or the "Under-18 AAA" even needs to be included on the logo. Just roll with "Manitoba Female Hockey League" as your league name and you're golden. No further explanation needed on the logo.

The MFMHL webpage is offline as of right now, so it appears that the rebranding is underway unless the league hasn't been paying its bills for the hosting service. The latter is unlikely considering the number of players the MFHL sends to U SPORTS, so it seems the MFHL website may be under construction as the renamed league gets itself in order.

Just leave that "U18AAA" part out of it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

The Rundown - Week 5

I'm not sure who scheduled the games this way, but half of Canada West had the weekend off while four teams looked to improve their standings within the conference. The scheduling quirk worked out that the teams bunched together in the middle of the standings all played one another, so there was a real opportunity for these teams to open up a bit of points gap on the others if they could earn six points against their opponents. Did that happen? Let's find out on a condensed episode featuring just four games of The Rundown!

The two teams who have been playing some impressive defensive hockey over the last few weeks finally met at Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon as the UBC Thunderbirds met the Saskatchewan Huskies! UBC has shown all sorts of defensive savvy after getting bombed in the first week of the season, earning points in six-straight games, while Saskatchewan is playing their normal bend-don't-break defence. How much offence would we seen this weekend based on how these two came into this series? Let's find out as Tory Micklash got the start for UBC while Jessica Vance was in the nets for Saskatchewan!

The teams started this game by picking their spots as neither defence was really into giving up chances, but we'd see the offences kick into gear just before the midway mark of the period when the first penalties were handed out. While no goals were scored on the advantages, we wouldn't have to wait long for the first marker. Sydney Neustaeter hit Hannah Clayton-Carroll with a pass, and the veteran broke in on a partial breakaway where she went across the crease before flipping the puck back to the vacated side of the net only to hit the post! However, Emma Hall beat Holly Angus to the rebound, and she chipped the puck into the open side to give the T-Birds the 1-0 lead at 15:23!

The game would go into the intermission all squared up, though, as the Huskies scored on a power-play when Bailee Bourassa, firing a long shot into the crowd as time expired, had it bounce off a player in front and past Micklash! After some conferring, the officials determined that the goal would count as the teams were tied 1-1 after one period, but Saskatchewan held the edge in shots at 8-5.

The second period saw the two teams play as one would have expected, but it was Saskatchewan who hit the net with more shots. Both Micklash and Vance denied all chances, though, so there was little to report from the second period other than Saskatchewan outshot UBC 10-4.

The third period started as the second finished with neither particularly interested in giving up any additional goals, but it would be penalties that would lead to bigger numbers on the scoreboard in the latter half of the period. On the power-play, Kennesha Miswaggon would fire a puck from the right face-off circle past a partially-screened Vance to earn her first Canada West goal as UBC grabbed the 2-1 lead at 14:29. Saskatchewan, however, would respond on a power-play of their own when Bailee Bourassa's one-timer from the left circle found room past Micklash at 18:48 to tie the game at 2-2! We'd need a little overtime to settle this game!

This game wouldn't need much time in the extra frame to find a winner. Mathea Fischer and Brooklyn Haubrich battled in the right corner for the puck when Haubrich's stick was knocked away. As she went to recover it, Fischer pivoted and spotted Hannah Clayton-Carroll cutting down the middle, made a perfect pass, and Clayton-Carroll redirected it past Vance for the game-winner just 23 seconds into overtime as UBC claimed the 3-2 victory! Tory Micklash earned her fifth win of the season by stopping 22 shots while Vance suffered the loss after a 14-save night.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: These two defensively-minded teams were back at it after needing a fourth period to determine a winner one night earlier. Would we see another extended game to find a winner? Could either team break the other's stifling defensive play? We were going to find out as UBC's Tory Micklash and Saskatchewan's Jessica Vance set up for a goaltending rematch from one night earlier.

Both teams showed a little more offensive creativity in solving the other's defensive zone play in the opening frame, but both goaltenders were equal to the task. Saskatchewan couldn't solve Micklash on a pair of power-plays in the period, so we'd move to the second period with the game tied 0-0 and Saskatchewan leading 8-7 in shots.

The second period was much like the first period where both teams looked to create breakdowns in the offensive zones, but neither side could breakthrough while playing five-on-five. However, a UBC power-play after the midpoint of the period would prove fortuitous. After Ryland MacKinnon clanged a puck off the post, the puck was cycled around to Hannah Koroll who slipped a puck past Vance at 13:37 for the 1-0 lead! The final six minutes of the period saw Saskatchewan hit a goalpost, but it provided no additional scoring as UBC took a 1-0 lead into the third period despite being outshot 12-11 through 40 minutes.

Both sides pressed for goals in the third period, and it seemed like Saskatchewan was poised for another late power-play comeback after UBC took a penalty with five minuets to play. However, a Saskatchewan penalty seconds later would wipe out the opportunity. In the end, the Thunderbirds simply wouldn't bend on this night as they skated to the 1-0 victory! Tory Micklash was stellar in posting her fourth shutout and sixth win after stopping all 18 shots fired at her while Jessica Vance fell just short in a 17-save effort.

For some reason, Saskatchewan didn't post highlights of this game, so I have nothing to add here.

With Calgary three points behind Alberta going into this weekend, the Dinos had a chance to really shock the world if they could overcome the Pandas. Alberta, meanwhile, has been chasing Lethbridge all season long, and was looking to re-establish themselves as the top team in the conference. The battle of Alberta was set to write a new chapter as the Dinos met the Pandas in Edmonton in the opener of this home-and-home series. Kelsey Roberts went to the crease for Calgary while Kirsten Chamberlin was in the nets for the Pandas.

As we normally see with Pandas games, Alberta was certainly the aggressor in the first period as they had chances early in this one to grab the lead. Roberts, however, denied chances and rebounds were cleared or smothered quickly. That early defensive awareness would prove important as the Dinos would score the game's opening goal later in the period. Elizabeth Lang's point shot was stopped by Chamberlin, but the rebound bounced back out into the slot where Sara Craven chipped the puck up and over Chamberlin at 14:47 to put the Dinos up 1-0! The last five minutes saw the Pandas go back to work, but they'd be denied a goal through the opening 20 minutes despite outshooting the Dinos 8-4.

The second period saw Alberta come out of the gates firing shots once again, but Roberts stood her ground in the early minutes. That goaltending allowed the Dinos to build on their lead as Trechelle Bunn hit Rebecca Clarke with a pass from the point, and Clarke sniped a shot inside the post before Chamberlin could close the gap as the Dinos went up 2-0 at 5:32! Just 1:35 later, Alberta would strike as Kennedy Ganser finally pushed the puck across the goal line after it caromed around the Dinos crease for a few moments, and Alberta was back within a goal at 2-1. The teams would trade chances through the remainder of the period, but that one-goal would hold through to the intermission with Alberta holding a 19-12 edge in shots.

The third period saw the Dinos start strong as they restored their two-goal lead when Sara Craven fed Delaney Frey out of the corner, and Frey zipped a low shot past Chamberlin just 1:54 into the frame to put the Dinos up 3-1! Alberta, sensing that time was now an enemy, went to work and peppered Roberts with shots. One of those shots found twine as Danielle Hardy's attempt went off the stick of Delaney Frey and under the arm of of Roberts at 8:33 to cut the deficit to one goal! The Pandas dug in as they pressed for the equalizer, but the final ten minutes belonged to Roberts and the Dinos' defence as they thwarted chance after chance until the horn sounded on a 3-2 Calgary victory! Kelsey Roberts was outstanding in earning her fifth win of the season on a 31-save night while Kirsten Chamberlin took the loss after stopping 15 shots.

Highlights of this game are below!

The series shifted south down the highway as the Pandas visited the Dinos for the second-half of this weekend series. After Calgary won on Friday night, they were looking for their first weekend series sweep of the Pandas since January 25 and 26, 2013! Could they pull off the feat and set Alberta's hopes of a conference championship back in a big way? Halle Oswald got the nod for the Pandas while Kelsey Roberts was back in the nets for the Dinos.

Calgary came out as the more aggressive team on this night as they had a couple of chances early, but the Pandas began to exert their will in gaining more chances as the period wore on. Just past the midway point, Calgary's Paige Michalenko put a shot on net from the point that deflected off a Pandas defender in front and got past Oswald to open the scoring at 12:25 as Calgary went up 1-0! Alberta would storm back 1:28 later, though, when Payton Laumbach was the recipient of a turnover in the Dinos zone, and she chipped a puck up and over Roberts' pad between the netminder and the post to square the game at 1-1! The remainder of the period saw the netminders hold their ends of the bargain as the teams went to the rooms tied 1-1 and with Alberta up 9-6 in shots!

The second period saw Alberta turn the heat up as they began peppering Roberts with shots, but the veteran Dinos netminder was having none of it. The lone power-play went to Canada West's best power-play unit as the Pandas looked to take the lead, but the Dinos penalty-killing units denied the opportunity. We would see a goal late in the period, however, as Annaliese Meier's shot was stopped by Oswald, but Brooke Dennett corralled the rebound and snapped home a quick shot with 1:45 remaining in the period to send the Dinos into the second intermission up 2-1 despite being outshot 20-11 through two periods.

Before fans had settled back into their seats, they were back on their feet as Elizabeth Lang blocked Taylor Anker's shot at the Calgary blue line, and Lang was off to the races. She broke in on Oswald, went forehand-backhand as the Pandas netminder sprawled, and roofed a backhander just 21 seconds into the period to put Calgary up 3-1! Again, Alberta sensed that time was not on their side, and they began throwing everything at the Calgary net. It would take a power-play in the latter half of the game for Alberta to close the gap to one goal when Autumn MacDougall was able to poke home a goal during a goalmouth scramble following a Cayle Dillon shot and a Kennedy Ganser rebound as the Pandas made it 3-2 with 5:48 to play! However, a Ganser double-minor for a hit to the head with four minutes to play put a serious dent into the comeback effort, and Calgary would ice the game when Rebecca Clarke fired a 120-foot shot down the ice into the yawning cage for the 4-2 Calgary Dinos victory! Kelsey Roberts was spectacular once again as she stopped 37 shots for her sixth win of the season while Halle Oswald made 16 stops in the loss.

Highlights of this game are below!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
19 17 22
17 18 17
16 20 15
vs MRU
16 15 15
Mount Royal
15 16 8
14 28 16
6 9 18
vs REG
5 12 24

The Last Word

The second-half of the conference bye kicks in this week as the four teams who played above will be off this week, leaving Mount Royal to grapple with Lethbridge while Regina visits Manitoba. To say this week was a little crazy would be an understatement as the two lower-ranked teams took 11 of 12 points off the teams above them. However, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised as there are significant trends emerging.

In ten games thus far, Saskatchewan has just 15 goals-for. They've scored three goals just once this season, and have played in eight games that have been decided by one goal. To make matters worse, they are 4-4 in those eight games. No one is ever going to question their commitment to defence, but it's becoming pretty evident that Saskatchewan needs to score more goals if they want to make a run at the Canada West championship. Averaging 1.5 goals-for-per-game isn't going to allow them to win many games unless the defence is perfect, and that's happened just twice in ten games. In other words, Saskatchewan needs to learn how to score.

On top of learning how to score, it seems that Saskatchewan has the same affliction as Alberta in that the Huskies simply don't score while playing five-on-five. Of the 15 goals they've scored, seven have been scored on the power-play. While Saskatchewan has the second-ranked power-play in the conference behind Alberta, they simply don't score when the teams have the same number of players on the ice. That's a recipe for disaster in the playoffs, so the Huskies either need to draw more penalties or learn how to score at even-strength. One option is certainly more preferable than the other despite both being good options.

Alberta, like Saskatchewan, is still struggling to score at five-on-five as I pointed out two weeks ago. They were 2-for-5 on the power-play against Calgary, but scored a total of four goals all weekend. Their shooting percentage a couple of weeks ago was sitting at 11.5% overall after six games, but it has since dropped to 8.8% after their last four games that saw them lose three of four games. They're still sitting with 50% of all their goals scored coming on the power-play, and if we remove the 14-1 results of the first weekend against UBC they have a goal-differential of -1. There's something not right with the Pandas this season, and it seems to be scoring depth.

Autumn MacDougall, Madison Willan, Kennedy Ganser, and Alex Poznikoff have 19 of the 28 goals scored by the Pandas thus far. They have just two goals from their blue line, and six players with goals who don't have one of the names above. Making matters worse, both MacDougall and Willan each have four of their five goals on the power-play while both of Danielle Hardy's have been on the power-play. If you're keeping track at home, that's ten of 14 power-play goals off the sticks of just three players. Depth scoring has not emerged this season for the Pandas after ten games, and that has to worry Howie Draper and the Pandas coaching staff.

Let's give full marks to Tory Micklash and the defence of the UBC Thunderbirds who went from a conference-worst 14 goals-against in Week 1 to surrendering just eight goals over the next eight games. Micklash has four shutouts in those eight games - including a weekend shutout of the Bisons one week ago - and UBC looks like a different team than the one who got pummeled by Alberta in Week 1. I don't say it often, but full marks to Graham Thomas, his staff, and the UBC players for turning their season around in a hurry!

Finally, they still have flaws and still need some additional depth scoring, but the Calgary Dinos sweeping the Alberta Pandas for the first time in over six seasons says something about the make-up of that squad. I'll admit that I wasn't convinced that the Dinos had in it them to be where they are right now after little changed from last season, but it's pretty clear that Danielle Goyette's squad is playing better defence, is a better possession team, and has the talent to rattle some cages and make some noise in the playoffs.

The battles this week will see Lethbridge and Mount Royal try to determine who wants to be in top spot in the conference, but these two teams could play some of the better hockey we'll see all season with how these squads are built.

At the other end of the spectrum, Regina and Manitoba meet in a series that likely could seal the fate of one of these teams if a sweep is in the cards. Both teams aren't out of the race, but two wins are nearly necessary at this point for these two teams to have a shot at a playoff spot.

I'll keep saying it: this is the hardest conference to win in U SPORTS. The evidence is above.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Music City Heritage

The building in the image to the left is the old Nashville Memorial Auditorium. It's a significant building because it was the first rink in Nashville to house a professional hockey team when the Dixie Flyers called the Auditorium home. Why is this important, you ask? Well, with the Nashville Predators getting set to play the Dallas Stars at the 2020 Winter Classic in Dallas, Texas, the Predators showed off their uniforms for the event and the jerseys have a lot of that Dixie heritage in them!

The original Dixie Flyers took up residence in Nashville in 1962 as a member of the Eastern Hockey League until the franchise folded in 1971. Twice, they were the EHL Champions, winning back-to-back titles in 1965-66 and 1966-67. In 1964-65 and 1968-69, the Flyers lost in the EHL Final, so they had a pretty solid squad for the majority of their time in Nashville.

That 1964-65 team was a bit of an anomaly as the Nashville Dixie Flyers featured five players who scored 40 or more goals - Ted McCaskill (60), Joe Zorica (41), Wayne Clairmont (40), John Lumley (47), and George Standing (54) - and scored a league-high 349 goals, but were defeated in the final by the John Muckler-coached Long Island Ducks four-games-to-one after limited the Dixie Flyers to just ten goals in five games. Defence does win championships!

In any case, the Nashville Dixie Flyers would erase that lost the following year when they swept the Ducks in the final to win their first EHL championship with Clairmmont, McCaskill, and Zorica leading the way. Here's a team picture of the Nashville Dixie Flyers from the mid-1960s as this will be important for the next paragraph.

Today, the Nashville Predators unveiled their Winter Classic jerseys that have been inspired by the EHL's Nashville Dixie Flyers, and there's a lot to like about the Predators' efforts to replicate the jerseys worn by Nashville's first pro hockey team.
It's fairly clear that the Predators replicated the same stripe pattern, the script name that the Dixie Flyers used, and the lace-up collars that are seen on the EHL club's uniforms. While the patch on the Predators' shoulders is a modern-day thing, the only major shift that the Predators made was to re-colour their Winter Classic uniforms to reflect their "visitors" status.

Was it necessary to go with a white jersey? I'm not certain that it was considering that Nashville could have gone yellow, but if they intend on using this jersey moving forward, they would need to differentiate it from their normal uniform set. That being said, it's almost assured that Dallas, Nashville's opponent on January 1, will be wearing green as their base colour, and we'll find out what Dallas looks like on November 6. The one thing that I can say about this jersey is that the more I see it, the more I like it because it looks like an old-time jersey. And that's exactly what Winter Classics should be about - the game's heritage!

I like that Nashville is honouring its heritage with this jersey. If there are places that people once hammered for a "lack of hockey history," sunbelt teams took the brunt of that complaint. Clearly, though, the Nashville Dixie Flyers established some incredible hockey history in Nashville within the EHL, and I like how the Nashville Predators are going into their first Winter Classic by giving a solid nod to the first professional hockey team that called Nashville home.

Well done, Predators!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 1 November 2019

Big Corporate Helps Emerging Teams

For as long as I've played sports, I have never once owned an Under Armour piece of clothing or equipment. I know that Under Armour is a popular choice for undergarments and high-performance sportswear, but I've never laid down money for anything they've produced. Part of that is that Under Armour is big into football and I never played football, but they're starting to work their way into the hockey scene after years of virtually ignoring the sport.

I am making mention of Under Armour today because there was a great story that hit social media today about how Under Armour supplied gear to India's national hockey teams. While it's not a surprise to see a major manufacturer provide gear to a country's national teams after a partnership is struck, what is unusual for Under Armour is that they are promoting and celebrating the Indian women's ice hockey team for overcoming some incredible odds through sheer will and determination to represent the country proudly at the 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia!

Here is the story of the Indian women's ice hockey team!

If you know me, I usually don't celebrate corporations getting involved in anything because I feel that money compromises the purity of the sport at the level at which we see the Indian women. However, after getting the team started "on frozen lakes with homemade equipment and protective cricket gear in the mid-2000s," it was pretty clear that makeshift equipment wouldn't cut it at major international tournaments. The women, however, got better and were able to pick up some proper ice hockey equipment, and their hard work saw them advance to an IIHF tournament in the 2017 Challenge Cup of Asia where the team would finish a respectable fourth-place!

At the announcement of Under Armour's support for the team, captain Tsewang Chuskit told reporters, "As a team, we chose to look at every limitation as a challenge that we could take head-on. When we started out, there was no ice-rink, no equipment, no protective gear, no training facilities, but nothing seemed bigger than our will to form a team and represent our country. We lost all the matches in our international debut and it was difficult to motivate ourselves and one other to keep going, but our will was above all. We found a way to overcome every hurdle that slowed us down and decided to write our own destiny, making the nation proud."

While there was some corporate speak made by the Managing Director of Under Armour India, the fact that Under Armour has stepped up to supply both the men's hockey team and the women's hockey team with gear will go a long way in helping them take their games to the next level. While neither team is currently ranked by the IIHF, for a country with two indoor ice rinks and 16 outdoor rinks, getting this kind of corporate support helps immensely.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 31 October 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 371

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with a rather scary topic that I feel doesn't get talked about enough. Tonight's topic is certainly a tough one as it's neither a trick nor is it a treat for anyone living with symptoms of CTE and medical issues relation to concussion. It takes a toll on the players, on their families, and their teammates when news of their suffering and troubles gets out, and I find it to be a scary situation for all involved. The men we once cheered for their fearlessness and toughness have been reduced to shells of themselves in their post-playing days, and it's becoming more and more prevalent as the science on concussions and CTE improves.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with CBC award-winning journalist, author, and musician Jeremy Allingham to discuss his new book, Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey, and we had a very good discussion on what he saw, learned, and experienced in meeting three men whose lives have been changed by repeated concussions while playing hockey in James McEwen, Stephen Peat, and Dale Purinton. Jeremy and I talk about his book, the former players he spoke with and what has happened after they hung up the skates, his experiences in writing the book, and some of the science that been put forth about concussions and long-term effects on athletes who have suffered multiple concussions. It's a rather serious and scary topic, but there are silver linings on some of the dark clouds we discuss. You'll want to hear this discussion between Jeremy and I if you play or know a player because the stories of McEwen, Peat, and Purinton are rather sobering when you hear how they live their lives today. Tune in at 5:30pm on 101.5 UMFM for the interview!

Where's the best place can you hear us, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to! 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 sits down with CBC's Jeremy Allingham to discuss his new book, Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey, and the stories within about about long-term concussion effects in players after they retire only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: October 31, 2019: Episode 371

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Aulin, Stovin, and the EIHL

You have to love that unbridled celebration that Manchester Storm forward Jared Aulin let loose after scoring an overtime winner against the Belfast Giants back in September. That's the kind of celebration we were used to seeing from Aulin as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, as a Colorado Avalanche, and as a Calgary Dino here in North America, over in Sweden with Orebro, and in Switzerland with Rapperswil-Jona. Aulin, a former guest on The Hockey Show, has always been a solid scoring forward and hard worker no matter where he's gone, but he seems to have found himself a new hockey life in Manchester, England this season!

The Storm, who currently sit in ninth-place in the ten-team EIHL with a 1-7-2-1 record, haven't had the storybook season where Aulin comes in and the fortunes of the team do a full 180-degree turn. Hockey is still a team game that requires everyone to do their part each shift in each game to win hockey games. While they've fallen short in the early-goings of this 2019-20 season, it's fairly clear that Aulin has found a home in Manchester with his inspired play on the ice.

While it seems like their record might indicate a long, hard road ahead, Manchester finds themselves just nine points back of the first-place Sheffield Steelers. They're three points out of a playoff spot, and have only lost a game by more than three goals once this season - a 4-1 setback against the Glasgow Clan this past Sunday. With games against the tenth-place Dundee Stars and the first-place Steelers on November 9 and 10, there's a good chance that they'll grab two points at minimum to put themselves back in the playoff conversation.

To add some fun to the upcoming league games, the Storm downed the Steelers 6-2 on October 18 in the Challenge Cup, and will face those same Steelers this weekend in a second Challenge Cup match. In what appears to be a three-game series between the two clubs, the Storm have a chance to put a real dent in the Steelers' hopes of winning the Challenge Cup while being a thorn in their sides during the regular season. Who said hockey in England wasn't fun?

Aulin, for his part on the Storm, leads the team in points with that overtime goal and eight helpers. The 37 year-old was expected to bring some strong two-way play to the Storm, and he and brother-in-law Layne Ulmer have been showing some solid chemistry as if they were real brothers in leading the team in scoring. Jared, it seems, was looking for a new opportunity this season, and one of the things he was seeking was fun. When the chase to sign on with Manchester presented itself to give him the opportunity to join his brother-in-law on the ice, it made the decision that much easier.

One of the key things for Jared is that he was seeking a good opportunity to not only play hockey, but to become part of a community that supports a team as he had felt in Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden when he played in those locations. As he told Storm TV, "I like to connect and get to know the fans, get to know the people of the city, not just my teammates. I want to feel that where I'm playing, I want to feel at home and get to know the area and people in the area."

Manchester, it seems has embraced their new Canadian forward as Aulin and his teammates look to improve their standing. Aulin, who scored the shootout winner against the Belfast Giants on October 19, is one of a number of players who joined the EIHL this season, and the talent level in the league has shown solid growth as Marc-Olivier Vallerand - a key pickup for Sheffield - leads the league in points with 18 while teammates John Armstrong and Robert Dowd sit second and third, respectively in league scoring. Elgin Pearce, a standout at the University of Calgary, leads the Dundee Stars in goals and points, and former QMJHL standout and Concordia University forward Anthony Beauregard has shone beside Pearce in Dundee. Needless to say, these few examples have already shown that EIHL hockey is better than what it was just five years ago, and players looking for an opportunity should give the league some serious thought.

Speaking of the Dundee Stars, one of the guys who gave it some thought was former Bisons forward Brett Stovin! Stovin, who has two goals and an assist thus far, has been a solid two-way player for Dundee, winning 51.2% of his face-offs and is a -1 on the tenth-place team in the league. Clearly, the game learned by Stovin at the University of Manitoba is helping the Stars this season, and that's a credit to Stovin's dedication to his craft.

Overall, the EIHL is highly-competitive this season thanks to an infusion of talent from all over the world. While no one will ever mistake the EIHL for the AHL at this point, the fact that there are good, young players showcasing their talents throughout Great Britain should prove beneficial for future generations of Great Britain hockey.

Remember that Team Great Britain will play at the 2020 IIHF World Championships thanks to their showing at last year's tournament, their first appearance at the IIHF's top-tier tournament since 1994! Making the EIHL more competitive will only benefit Britain's national squad, and it seems the fans in the stands don't mind the infusion of talent either.

Players like Jared Aulin, Brett Stovin, Layne Ulmer, and Elgin Pearce will make national team players like Brett Perlini of the Nottingham Panthers, Robert Dowd of the Steelers, and Mark Richardson of the Cardiff Devils better on the international stage because they've already pushed their games to new levels thanks to the talent coming into the EIHL. That how you grow the game for an emerging nation on the world stage!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Your Search Function Is Broken

Occasionally, I'll use an aggregate service when I'm looking for old or funny stories on hockey. It doesn't happen often, but if I need a chuckle or want to find something crazy, I usually hit the Digg website. Digg aggregates all sorts of stories from across the internet and social media for visitors to read, so there's likely something on there for everyone. I know there were a couple of hockey stories over the last two weeks - Andrei Svechnikov's lacrosse-style goal and Sonny Milano's between-the-legs goal - that were on the site, but I wanted to find something a little less prominent. That's where the search function on Digg would help.

I went to search Digg today for something hockey-related, and the search returned everything but hockey. Here are my search results from just the first page of what Digg returned to me.

Remember, in the last two weeks, there were two hockey stories posted. Neither were at the top of this search that I performed, and the word "hockey" didn't appear in any of the returned stories until I loaded more stories twice. In fact, I expanded the search to within one month, and the word "hockey" was seen just once on the Sonny Milano goal article that was posted.

Just for fun, the other words that the search returned were:
  • hacked/hacker (7 times)
  • shocked/shocker (8)
  • locked/locker (6)
  • pocket (6)
  • rocked/rocky (3)
  • mocked (2)
  • rocket (2)
All of the words "jockey", "hooked", "donkey", "sockeye", "rocker", "monkey", "Mickey", and "socket" occurred once in the search results - the same number as the exact word "hockey" did! Being a search engine guru, I even used the old quotations marks around the word to see if it would match exact instances, but the search results all came back identical to the search results without the quotation marks. I'm no webpage designer, but something is seriously wrong with Digg's search function.

In any case, if you needed to find something on Digg that was posted in the last few weeks, good luck. It will eventually be in your returned search results, but you may have to DIGG through a ton of crap to find what you actually need.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 28 October 2019

An Unbelievable Finish

I watched the stream of this game yesterday after people on social media were talking about it, and the end was something only Hollywood would have written. Except it happened in real-life. If you missed the kerfuffle on social media, Canada's men's field hockey team is going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after an unlikely victory over Team Ireland yesterday. While I'll post the story of the closing minutes of the game below, I do want to expand upon why this important as well. Don't kid yourself - this is gigantically important.

With the Irish players celebrating what appeared to be a hard-fought win over the pesky Canadians, the umpires were off examining video replay to determine whether or not Canadian striker Jamie Wallace was taken down in the penalty area. After what seemed like forever, the umpires returned a verdict - a penalty stroke would be awarded to the Canadians!

Scott Tupper, captain of the Canadian squad, was picked to take the penalty stroke. Tupper, playing in his 307th game for Canada, put the weight of his team and his country on shoulders, and struck the ball true to find the back of the net to tie the two-game match scoring at 6-6, sending the game to an unlikely shootout when it seemed that all hope had been lost.

If you thought the drama was done there, the shootout brought all sorts of new heart palpitations for viewers, fans in attendance, players, and coaches.

Ireland wasted no time in the shootout, making good on their first three shots. Canada, on the other hand, scored once, meaning that they needed to score on their final two shots while goalkeeper David Carter had to stop the final two Irish shooters. With Canada already having defeated ridiculous odds once just to remain alive in this game, why not do it again, right?

Two goals and two stops later, Canada was square with the Irish squad at 3-3 and heading to a sudden-death shootout! Ireland scored; Canada responded. Six shooters each, four goals each. On the next Ireland attempt, the shot was missed, opening the door for the most unlikely result considering everything that had happened. And it would be this moment where Adam Froese's name would be etched into Canadian history.

Every time there's a Summer Olympiad, I usually devote this space to the field hockey event. The sport is an incredibly exciting event to watch, and the athleticism and abilities of the players are extraordinary. In short, it's a sport I enjoy watching, and I wish I could see more of it in my neck of the woods.

There are just three teams that play the game at the university level in Canada West - Victoria, UBC, and Calgary - and all three teams are women's teams. U SPORTS, as an organization, doesn't even offer a men's field hockey championship, so it's likely there are no teams playing anywhere across Canada at the university level unless they are playing locally against other organized teams. In short, there aren't many men's field hockey teams across Canada that one could play with even if one wanted to make this his chosen sport.

Of the 25 players who suited up for Canada against the Irish, 22 of them are from British Columbia. The west coast province seems to be the unofficial home of field hockey in Canada, and they have one of the oldest established clubs in Canada in the West Van Field Hockey Club which was established in 1972. That's not to say there aren't places across Canada where the game is played. Rather, it seems that for a country of nearly 40 million people, the population of British Columbia churns out nearly all of the elite-level talent when it comes to field hockey in Canada.

We've heard the women's hockey world claim "You can't be what you can't see," and it is entirely applicable to field hockey in Canada for both men and women. There are no kids playing it locally, and there are very few who are interested in it nationally. A large part of this comes from the fact that Canada hasn't been very good on the Olympic stage against the superpowers of the world, but Canada routinely posts medal wins and podium finishes at the Pan-American Games that get almost zero media attention. Why is that?

Look, I get that Canadian field hockey stories don't sell newspapers nor do they generate clicks for websites, but there needs to be some attention paid to these teams when they do amazing things. This is the only the second time since 1964 when Canada entered a field hockey team at the Olympics that they've qualified for consecutive Olympiads. That's incredible news, but I'm guessing most of you had no idea about that. And that's ok - I'm not blaming you for not knowing. What I am saying is that the next generation of potential players don't even know they're the next generation because Canada simply pays zero attention to its national field hockey teams.

The admission I'm making here is that I'm just as guilty as everyone else. I didn't watch the first game between Canada and Ireland, and I only tuned in when social media started talking about the second game. I should be doing more, but it doesn't hit my radar often enough that it gets pushed to the background outside of big stories like the one above. With Canada now qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, I'm pledging to keep an eye on the Canadian men's team as they begin their quest to win gold in Tokyo next summer.

HBIC will cover the men's and women's tournaments in Tokyo just as I've done with other Olympiads. I try to watch the games because I do enjoy the sport and it's exciting and entertaining. But covering the sport for two weeks every four years is doing the sport a major disservice on my part, so I'm committing to bringing more field hockey stories to HBIC. It starts here, and it will continue when news breaks in the field hockey world.

"You can't be what you can't see" - truer words have never been spoken.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!