Saturday, 25 March 2023

He Does It All

Ryan Fanti's name isn't one that is heard in NHL circles. It's likely one that isn't mentioned in Edmonton Oilers discussions, either, despite the Oilers signing the former NCAA netminder last year. Fanti has had to work his way from the NAHL to the NCAA where he played 57 games with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, and he's made a few appearances in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors. Fanti has spent most of this season in a Fort Wayne Komets jersey in the ECHL, though, and I don't think anyone will forget his name in that market.

In 29 games with the Komets this season, Fanti has a 13-13-1 record with a 3.43 GAA and an .897 save percentage. It's at this point that a lot of people reading this article right now are wondering why I'm spending time writing about an average 23 year-old ECHL goaltender, but Fanti has shown more than just an ability to stop pucks and be the last line of defence for the Komets. While his two big "highlight reel" moments likely won't help him climb the ladder to the NHL, he's unquestionably written himself into Fort Wayne hockey lore with his "abilities".

We jump back to Friday, March 10, 2023 where Fort Wayne was hosting the Wheeling Nailers in the opening game of a home-and-home set. With time winding down in a game where both teams showed a dislike for the other, Matt Alvaro scored an empty-net goal with 34 seconds to play to make it 6-4 in favour of Fort Wayne, but he was tripped on the play by Ryan Da Silva and slid into the endboards. Alvaro popped up and went at Da Silva, and players on the ice joined them around the Nailers' net as a line brawl erupted.

Apparently, YouTube has this video flagged as "age-restricted" for some idiotic reason when there are hundreds of hockey fights on their platform, so here's the video on Justin A. Cohn's Twitter account. Ryan Fanti and Nailers goaltender Brad Barone end this video with a dance of their own to the delight of the Komets' crowd.
I'm not here to celebrate goalie fights because fighting in hockey - specifically with 34 seconds left in a 6-4 game - does little to change the outcome aside from increasing the rink of an injury to a goalie, but Fanti won that scrap pretty convincingly. The fans responded with their appreciation of Fanti's pugilistic ways, and the legend was born about this 23 year-old from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

That brings us to tonight where Fanti's legend grew once again.

The Komets were hosting the Rapid City Rush. Tied 3-3 going into the third period, the Komets scored twice to jump ahead by a 5-3 score. The Rush, sensing their time was running out for a comeback, pulled netminder Adam Carlson for the extra attacker, and that opened up the opportunity for Fanti to do something special!
Fanti scored at 18:19 of the third period to become the first goaltender in the 71-year history of the Fort Wayne Komets to record a goal! Fanti also becomes the 15th goalie in ECHL history to record a goal, and the first since Fran├žois Brassard scored for the Maine Mariners on December 19, 2022!

What makes this goal a little more surreal is that it almost didn't happen. At 13:34 of the third period, Ryan Fanti skated over to the bench, had a quick chat with the staff, and was replaced by Corbin Kaczperski before heading down the tunnel. Everything was going well when Fanti re-appeared on the bench, and he was sent back out to his spot in the blue paint at 17:23. You might be wondering what happened for four minutes in Fanti's life where he needed to leave the game, and credit goes to Justin A. Cohn of The Journal Gazette for getting the answer.

"There’s no getting around it. Everyone goes through it. Once the third period happened, (a stomach ache) just hit me. I was kind of battling through it," Fanti told Cohn. "Once we hit the fifth goal, I didn't feel as bad for Kacz. So I was just like, 'When this happens, it happens. I've just got to go to the bathroom and be as quick as I can.'"

Had he not returned from the bathroom break prior to the face-off at 17:23, there was no other stoppage until he scored. In other words, this goal may never have happened had Fanti spent a little extra time in the powder room!

"You don't really get too many opportunities (to score). It's probably something I've dreamed about more than anything, including a fight or whatever it is, making big saves," Fanti informed Cohn. "One time in juniors, I had a chance up two goals. I probably got a better shot off than I did tonight, but a guy made a good play and jumped up to knock it down with his glove. I tried to scramble back to my net and he ended up banking it off me and scoring. Luckily, we still ended up winning the game and I'm happy that didn't end up happening again tonight. I just got lucky with it. The puck landed on edge and luckily it didn't flatten out and stop."

Fanti's name can be added to the list of ECHL goalies with a goal!
  • Ryan Fanti (FWK) vs Rapid City - March 25, 2023
  • Francois Brassard (MAI) at Adirondack - December 18, 2022
  • CJ Motte (QCM) at Fort Wayne - December 9, 2017
  • Alex Nedeljkovic (FLA) at Atlanta - December 30, 2016
  • Brian Foster (CIN) vs Trenton - February 15, 2013
  • Timo Pielmeier (BAK) at Utah - December 19, 2009
  • Jonathan Quick, (REA) at Pensacola - October 24, 2007
  • Trevor Koenig (ACB) at Wheeling - March 2, 2005
  • Brian Eklund (PEN) at Mississippi - December 5, 2003
  • Mike Smith (LEX) vs Dayton - October 26, 2002
  • Mark Bernard (TOL) vs Johnstown - March 27, 2001
  • Nick Vitucci (CHA) vs Louisville - March 6, 1996
  • Sean Gauthier (SCS) at Raleigh - December 19, 1995
  • Olie Sundstrom (ERI) vs Wheeling - December 15, 1995
  • Corwin Saurdiff (HRA) vs Charlotte - March 18, 1995
There aren't many goalies who can claim they had a fight and a goal in the same month, but Ryan Fanti is one of those goalies. As much as Edmonton would like him to advance through their development system, it seems that Ryan Fanti has found a home in Fort Wayne, Indiana where his fighting skills and goal-scoring skills are appreciated as much as his puck-stopping skills!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 24 March 2023

Joe Biden: Honourary Canadian

There are certain stereotypes that Canadians simply can't shake when it comes to the rest of the world's perception of us. Yes, there are likely too many Tim Hortons restaurants per capita, but we'd really like the chain to owned by a Canadian and not a Brazilian restaurant conglomerate. Yes, it's cold up here for long stretches of time, but we embrace winter as part of our identity. Yes, hockey is the national sport, but so is lacrosse and, no, not everyone plays one or both. Yes, French is a nationally-recognized official language, but not everyone can parlez-vous with the best of them.

For years, Canadians have been stereotypically-identified a numbers of ways - we apologize for everything, we're too polite, we say "eh" a lot, and we apparently pronounce words like "out" and "about" as "oot" and aboot" - and we're pretty accepting that this happens. However, if you really want to test someone's "Canadian-ness", all you have to do is crack a joke about the Toronto Maple Leafs!

If you've read this far, you likely know that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a polarizing team in that people either like them or hate them. There's not a lot of gray area in between, it seems, and the historical nature of this polarization extends back to the team's Original Six days for Canadian fans. Leafs fans will go out of their way to defend their beloved team while those who detest the Leafs will make that known in no uncertain terms as well.

Being that I am of the latter group - I live by the ABT mantra of "Anybody But Toronto" - hearing US President Joe Biden's comments today will speaking to the Canadian government brought a smile to my face. Here is Joe Biden's speech where he references the Leafs.
I'll give Biden a pass for referencing his wife's commitment to her hometown Philadelphia Flyers, but he could have just stopped at "except the Leafs". All jokes aside, Biden making the crack in Ottawa in front of sitting Members of Parliament from across Canada was a pretty fun moment during the political theatre to which Canada was treated over the last couple of days.

Because President Joe Biden took a shot at the Leafs on a very public stage today, he's earned himself an Honourary Canadian badge. That doesn't give him any additional rights or privileges, of course, but Joe Biden can now crack jokes about the Leafs at any time without Canadians giving him a puzzled look. Make a very public Leafs joke on Canadian soil? You too can earn yourself an Honourary Canadian badge! I feel like the low entry point for this badge might mean we're going to need a lot more badges made in a short time!

Like him or hate him, Joe Biden is welcome here at HBIC thanks to his membership to the Honourary Canadian club after cracking a great joke about the always-hated Leafs!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 March 2023

The Hockey Show - Episode 548

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight to recap all the National Championship action from across the continent as we had Canadian universities competing for U SPORTS titles and we had a Manitoba college looking for another national championship! Beyond that, there were all sorts of stories from the hockey world that need to be discussed as things get interesting locally, nationally, and internationally on the hockey scene once more! It's another busy show with lots of news, get ready for hockey chatter at 530pm CT!

There was lots to cheer about if you were following the action at the U SPORTS National Championships. Teebz and Jason will recap both the men's tournament in PEI and the women's tournament in Montreal to get you caught up on which teams stand atop their respective mountains. Beyond that, they'll look at the ACHA Division-II championship tournament where the ACC Cougars of Brandon were vying for a third-straight national title, the moment of insanity at the U SPORTS men's hockey tournament, the QMJHL banning fighting, the NHL switching its on-ice jersey partner, the IIHF upholding its suspension for Russia and Belarus, and the ongoing hypocrisy of the NHL being inclusive! All of this and more will be discussed tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via UMFM.com!

If you live outside Winnipeg and want to listen, we have options! 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, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Jason look at big winners, bad scraps, poor quality, ongoing bans, complete stupidity, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: March 23, 2023: Episode 548

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Status Quo?

The IIHF released a statement today that saw the organization extend the suspension of the Russian and Belarusian involvement in IIHF competitions. I don't think this should come as a surprise to anyone considering that Russia is still bombing Ukraine and Belarus is still siding with Russia, but it's nice to see the IIHF doing the right thing when it comes being part of a global community. Some will say that this decreases the number of highly-skilled teams at events, and, while true, it also shows that the IIHF isn't devoid of human morals and ethics. I'll take less skill for doing the right thing any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The official statement from the IIHF reads,
"Based on a detailed risk assessment from a renowned company that specializes in assessing risks due to various global challenges, the IIHF Council determined that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian Teams back into IIHF Competitions, and that it will not be safe for the upcoming 2023/2024 IIHF Championship season. Therefore, the IIHF will move forward with the 2023/2024 IIHF Championship season without the Russian and Belarusian Teams."
While I'm sure there could be safety risks for the players from Russia and Belarus if they were to participate in games against Ukraine's allies, let's just lay our cards on the table as say that the IIHF would have looked foolish allowing Russia and Belarus to participate in international hockey tournaments while the Ukrainian teams don't even have a rink in which they can practice. The meeting to determine the extension of Russia's and Belarus' suspensions on the international hockey stage should have lasted all of three mimutes when it comes to doing the right thing.

Personally, I think that Russia and Belarus should be forced to earn their way back to the top division in each level of hockey they wish to participate. If a country is going to go ahead and forfeit its goodwill by invading another country or supporting a country who invaded another country, I say they forfeit any standing within the sports world as well. Let's make Russia and Belarus start in Division 3B or something and have them earn their way back to the top division. Don't like that? Leave Ukraine. And don't go back.

In fact, let's just help the IIHF out with this press release:
That seems appropriate considering current global affairs, doesn't it?

I know there are people reading this right now who are saying, "Teebz, the athletes have nothing to do with what's happening in Ukraine," and there's a case to be made for that, I suppose. However, I'm not here to split hairs and determine how much guilt one should be assigned simply for being born Russian or Belarusian. If your government has decided to partake in an illegal invasion of another country, those are the breaks for being of that nationality.

For now, though, I'm good with not seeing a Russian or Belarusian team on the ice against any other teams. They need to earn their way back into the good graces of the global community, and I commend the IIHF for extending the suspensions to Russian and Belarusian teams from IIHF events.

Honestly, has anyone actually missed them? No? Moving on then.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Not A Fanatic Over This

When it was announced that Adidas wasn't renewing its deal with the NHL to be the on-ice outfitter for all 32 NHL teams, there was some hope that the NHL would come to its senses and return to companies that specialize in hockey as opposed to those who spread themselves into "athletic fashion". Adidas' authentic, on-ice NHL jerseys weren't bad quality if they were viewed in a vacuum, but the price point combined with the products put out by CCM, Bauer, and Nike made Adidas jerseys the worst of the bunch: slightly ahead of Reebok's jerseys, but a long way from being what traditional hockey fans coveted. Sorry, but it's true.

After the NHL allowed sports merchandise giant Fanatics to get involved in producing their merchandise, there was a noticeable lowering of both quality and quality control in Fanatics' offerings, and more and more fans began to receive products with mistakes, incorrect orders, or cancellation of orders altogether. Yes, there was a difference between a CCM on-ice, authentic jersey and a replica jersey, but the latter wasn't marketed with buzzwords and jargon where "authentic" lost all meaning.

Sadly, the news today that the NHL signed a new ten-year deal with Fanatics for Fanatics to be the on-ice uniform partner of the NHL was received virtually by the entire NHL fanbase as a significant mistake made by the NHL. And I couldn't agree more.

CCM was dedicated to making hockey equipment and apparel as one of its main product lines. Adidas doesn't do that, and Fanatics certainly does not. While the NHL will point at the jersey templates currently being used and proclaim "Nothing will change!", there's no denying that the quality of NHL jerseys DID change when Adidas and Fanatics took over making jerseys just as Reebok changed the quality of jerseys after they acquired CCM, KOHO, and Jofa.

As a guy who has a closet of hockey jerseys, I struggle to understand why the NHL would opt to name a second-tier sports merchandise company as their on-ice uniform partner when the examples of Fanatics' shortfalls in the sports merchandise world have been documented over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

The good news is that I likely won't have any new Fanatics jerseys in my closet, so my disposable income should increase. The bad news is that the disposable income I may have used on a new jersey will likely take a bigger hit as I scour eBay and other auction sites for quality jerseys made by CCM. And if I may be blunt, I'm certain I won't buy any of the newer designs that have been introduced for my own collection simply because there's nothing to convince me that these Adidas or Fanatics jerseys, designed as they are, are worth the price at which they've been set.

There's an expectation that an official uniform will feel like it's meant to stand up to the elements of the game. If it feels like a paper bag or stretches like spandex, one has every right to question the quality of the materials, the craftsmanship, and the design. When the prices of these uniforms are hitting $400 per uniform, expect fans to exercise that right to question the quality of what they're buying, specifically if it comes from an inferior sports merchandiser as I've shown above. I try to believe that the NHL is still a league that cares about the sports experience for its fans, but I've very apparent that it will always be a business far before it's anything else.

I'll still watch the NHL for the hockey because I'm a fan, but don't expect me to wear or own the gear. You lost me at "Fanatics", NHL.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!