Tuesday 31 March 2009

Late Is Always Better Than Never

In what seems like an announcement that should have been made over a decade ago, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced today that they are re-writing their by-laws in order to allow women to gain admission into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Again, I'm surprised that an institution like the Hockey Hall of Fame has taken this long to allow women to be voted in alongside the men, but, as the title suggests, late is always better than never when it comes to honouring the greats who have laced up the skates, no matter what gender they represent. With the Hockey Hall of Fame's announcement today, it appears that women's hockey is being recognized for its growth, and the ability of the women who have made the game what it is today.

As the rules stand today, both women and men were eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but there was no way to divide the women from the men when it came to the four Hall of Fame nominations. With today's announcement, the Hall will recognize the women separately from the men, and provide them with two spots specifically for women each year alongside the four spots for the men.

"The new voting procedures address the basic principle and general view among the board of directors and selection committee that men and women ought not to compete directly against each other for limited places of honoured membership," Hall chairman Bill Hay said in a statement. "It creates fair conditions for all candidates while reinforcing that the existing basis for selection and requisite standards of excellence be applied equally to both genders."

This, to me, is phenomenal news, considering how I blasted the Hall of Fame in July 2007 for their apparent stone-age mentality in regards to the women's game and their contributions to hockey overall. There will be places for the women who have proven instrumental in the growth and development of the game of hockey, as well as those women who have made enormous contributions on the ice.

Now, there will be a large number up for consideration, so if I were in charge of the first year of voting, I'd put out a few stipulations:

  1. Women who are currently playing are not eligible in this inaugural year only. The reason is that these women are still writing chapters into their legacies, and they should be allowed to continue down their paths before the final chapter is written.
  2. Unlike the men, where stats and awards seem to matter, women can be voted in for their off-ice contributions as much as any on-ice contributions. Women's hockey really took off in the 1990s, but all the women before that period of time cannot be forgotten. They are what gave us the great women's game today.
  3. Teams are ineligible. It is the Hockey Hall of Fame for individuals, and only individuals can be voted in.
Ok, with those stipulations in mind, here are the two women with whom I'd start building the Women's Wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Colleen Howe: I wrote a long piece on Mrs. Howe's contribution to the game of hockey throughout the United States, but her legacy lives on through all the people she touched and helped to change their lives through her charitable work and generosity. Mrs. Howe is already a part of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. It's time she be alongside the men with the greatest honour one can receive in the game.

Hilda Ranscombe: Miss Ranscombe was a part of one of the most dominant teams in sports history in the Preston Rivulettes. The Rivulettes dominated Canadian women's hockey throughout the 1930s, amassing a remarkable 350-2-3 record over a 10-year period. Ranscombe was the star of the Rivulettes, and was compared to the Montreal Canadiens' star Howie Morenz for her scoring ability. The linked post has an excellent video clip attached to it, and I recommend checking it out.

There are a load of other players who could be considered for the first wave of women inducted to the Hall of Fame. The list of women who should be considered in coming years is considerable: Cammi Granato, Cassie Campbell, Manon Rheaume, Elizabeth Graham, Abby Hoffman, Hazel McCallion, Fran Rider, Bobbie Rosenfeld, Shirley Cameron, Justine Blainey - honestly, the list is as subjective as your favorite NHL player.

However, that's a great sign. That means the game is growing, the talent level is increasing, and the overall number of excellent women's hockey players is on the rise. While this change should have happened long ago for a sport that relies on women more than they seem to want to acknowledge, I'm glad that the women who have committed their lives to this game are going to be recognized for all that they do.

After all, it's better late than never, right?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 30 March 2009

Top Marks For These Students

Yesterday I took a look at the CIS Women's Hockey Championships and how they played out to give the McGill Martlets their second CIS in a row. I promised that I'd cover the Men's Championships today, and I'm a man of my word. Again, not many CIS players advance to the NHL simply due to age and experience, so those that do make it are normally signed as free agents. But, like the people of Canada, the CIS hockey circuit is largely ignored by NHL scouts - something I can't seem to comprehend why. The majority of these players have played junior hockey in the CHL, and there was even a former NHL player suiting up for one Canadian team. Does anyone know who? Read through to find out. I'll drop hints throughout the article. Anyway, let's take a look at the CIS Men's Hockey Championships.

CIS Men's Hockey Championships

The 2009 CIS Men's Championship was hosted by Thunder Bay, Ontario's Lakehead University. The defending champion Alberta Golden Bears were ranked as the top seed after winning the Canada West Division title, and compiling a 26-5-2 record this season. The Saint Mary's Huskies earned the #2-ranking after emerging as the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Champions with a record of 25-9-1. The Western Ontario Mustangs were seeded as #3 after winning the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) Division with a 26-8-2 record. The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds were the finalists in the AUS Division, and came in as the #4-seed after going 25-6-3 this season. The University of McGill Redmen finished as the OUA finalists, and earned the #5-seed after a 24-10-2 season. And the host Lakehead University Thunderwolves earned the #6-seed as the tournament hosts, finishing their season with a 21-10-2 record. Pool A saw Alberta, UNB, and Lakehead square off, while Pool B featured Saint Mary's, Western Ontario, and McGill.

The tournament kicked off on Thursday, March 26. UNB and Alberta kicked things off in Pool A with a dandy game. Instead of playing the underdog role, UNB jumped out to a 5-1 first period lead over the defending champion Golden Bears, and rolled to a 6-3 victory. The Golden Bears tangled with the Thunderwolves on March 27, and needed a huge offensive showing to try and salvage their gold medal hopes. However, despite winning 2-1 over Lakehead, their offensive production simply wasn't enough. Lakehead could still make things worse for Alberta if they happened to defeat UNB by two or more goals. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be as UNB defeated Lakehead by a 3-1 score on March 28. UNB advances to the final with a 2-0 record. Unlike the Women's Championship, there are no bronze medal games or Consolation Final.

Pool B had McGill and Saint Mary's get their party started on Thursday night. Saint Mary's controlled most of the game in winning 4-1 over the Redmen. That sent the Redmen into a rematch of the OUA Final against the Western Ontario Mustangs on Friday. And vengeance was had as the Redmen edged the Mustangs by a 4-3 score. Despite the win, McGill could not advance to the gold medal game due to goal aggregate. Western Ontario needed a win by three or more goals to bump Saint Mary's from the gold medal game, so they had quite the task ahead of them for Friday's pivotal matchup. In what has to be considered one of the largest meltdowns in CIS history, Western Ontario scored five unanswered third period goals to defeat Saint Mary's by a 7-2 score and advance to the Final.

Western is only the second school to advance to the University Cup title match after losing a round-robin duel in the 18 years of the six-team tournament format. The other team? The Alberta Golden Bears who turned the trick last year after losing their opening game to Moncton by a 2-1 overtime loss.

Hint #1: Speaking of Alberta, this former NHL player appeared for the University of Calgary Dinos in 2007-08, his only year of CIS eligibility.

The UNB Redmen are seventh team in CIS history to appear in three-straight CIS Finals. They won in 2007, but lost to Alberta last year. The Mustangs captured their lone title in their last tournament appearance in 2002 with a triple-overtime win over UQTR, but lost to York in the 1988 Final in their only other appearance.

Enough with the setup, though. Here's how the CIS Men's Hockey Championship played out.

The first period was a tight-checking affair as both teams traded a few chances. It truly felt like both teams were feeling one another out, looking for weaknesses. However, a seam was found late in the period by UNB's Lachlan MacIntosh as he scored his third goal of the tournament on an unassisted effort at 18:58. Into the intermission, UNB had the 1-0 lead.

Hint #2: This former NHLer played in 17 games, recording two goals and two assists while playing for the Los Angeles Kings.

The second period saw UNB double its lead just 1:02 into the frame as John-Scott Dickson, a former Windsor Spitfire in the OHL, notched his first of the tournament. Western turned up the pace, however, and cut the lead in half at the 8:57 mark when Patrick Ouellet put his first of the tournament in. Both teams clamped down again, though, and the defensive battle ran into the second intermission.

Hint #3: This former NHL player was involved in the trade for Rob Blake between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings on February 21, 2001.

With the last period of hockey starting on this season's CIS campaign, Western knew it had to strike. And they did. Just 1:13 into the third stanza, the Mustangs' Kevin Baker, a former Oshawa General of the OHL, scored his third of the tournament to even the score at 2-2. Once again, both teams looked for a crease in their opponent's defence. Back and forth was producing nothing until UNB's Lachlan MacIntosh fired home his second tie-breaking goal of the game, and fourth of the tournament, at the 10:24 mark. Both teams frantically tried to score the next marker as it may have been the momentum swing both needed. However, Western pulled the goaltender in an effort to score the game-tying goal, but Lachlan MacIntosh sealed the deal with his hat-trick goal into an empty net.

With his five goals in the tournament, Lachlan MacIntosh was named as Tournament MVP. The 5'10", 195-pound kinesiology student wasn't exactly a prominent goal-scorer this season, only having netted nine goals in 26 regular season games. He had no goals in six AUS playoff games as well, so his emergence in the CIS Championships was huge for UNB.

"I was just fortunate to get some chances, and capitalized. It was just one of those days where the bounces went my way," MacIntosh said to reporters. Congratulations on the accolade, Lachlan! You certainly deserved the honour!

Ok, so have you figured out the former NHL player who was the last professional to suit in the CIS? If you haven't, you missed out on Jared Aulin. Aulin, who dated socialite Paris Hilton for a short time, suited up with the Calgary Dinos in 2007-08. How he got there is a slightly tragic story. In a non-contact league, Aulin was struck by a stick-swinging opponent on the side of the neck, and fell to the ice where he convulsed for almost a minute. He had been in contact with Calgary head coach Scott Atkinson who remembered the high-scoring WHL forward from the Kamloops Blazers and the Canadian World Junior Team. But the non-contact league injury put his career in serious jeopardy.

"It was scary, especially since I was getting headaches and dizziness and I wasn't sure why," Aulin said to Allan Maki of the Globe & Mail. "I wasn't hit on the head. But it was because the carotid artery was swollen."

Luckily, doctors cleared him to play after his injury, and he suited up for the Dinos 10 games into the season. "I like being back at the rink and I like being around motivated people. It feels good. I'm excited."

So there you have it: a championship story, and a heart-warming story. Aulin is now enrolled in the Haskayne School of Business, completing a business degree. Congratulations go out to the UNB Redmen for their successful campaign and CIS title, and to Jared Aulin for finding a path that hockey could not provide. Good luck to everyone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 29 March 2009

University Report

Today is a report on one of larger, yet ignored, systems in North America. The CIS Championship was handed out today to the winner of the Canadian Inter University Men's Ice Hockey Champions, while the CIS Women's Championship was decided on March 22. It surprises me that there isn't more attention paid to the Canadian Collegiate Hockey System, but it seems that the major media sources in Canada have little interest in the University circuit in Canada. So let's take a look at the CIS Women's Hockey Championships today, and the CIS Men's Championships tomorrow.

CIS Women's Hockey Championship

The CIS Women's Championship took place on March 22, 2009 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The defending champions in the McGill Martlets (22-0) were ranked #1 after winning the Quebec Conference (QSSF), and would lead Pool A's three teams. The Ontario University Athletic (OAU) Champion Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks (30-2) were ranked #2 and would lead Pool B's three teams. Joining McGill in Pool A would be the #3-ranked Canada West Champion University of Manitoba Bisons (25-3-1) and the host St. Francis Xavier X-Women who were the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) finalists.

Pool B saw St. Francis Xavier joined by the AUS Champions and #4-ranked Moncton Aigles Bleues (24-0-2) and the QSSF finalists and #6-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees (10-11-2).

Surprisingly, Canada West finalist University of Alberta Pandas did not make the top-six teams despite having the country's best player in Player of the Year in Tarin Podloski and Coach of the Year in Howie Draper.

From Pool A, the McGill Martlets used a 2-1 overtime victory over the Manitoba Bisons on Thursday, March 19, and defeated the St. Francis Xavier X-Women 5-1 on March 21 to secure a 2-0 record in Pool A to advance to the Gold Medal Final. The Bisons advanced to the Bronze Medal Final with a 1-1 record after defeating the St. Francis Xavier X-Women 2-1 via the shootout after playing hard to secure a berth in the medal round. The X-Women will play for the Consolation Final on March 22 after finishing 0-2 in Pool A despite playing hard through the weekend.

Pool B action opened with the #2-ranked Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks meeting the #6-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees on Thursday, March 19. The Golden Hawks hammered the Gee-Gees 6-1. The Golden Hawks had controlled the game with a 25-10 shot advantage by the end of the second period, but only had a 3-1 score to work with. However, three third period goal put the game out of reach, and secured the 6-1 victory over the Gee-Gees for the Golden Hawks. In another exciting opening game, Moncton's Kristine Labrie scored 1:28 into overtime to propel the #4-ranked Aigles Bleues over the #6-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees into the second game with a 2-1 win. The 0-2 Gee-Gees would now face St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the Consolation Final on March 22. The Moncton Aigle Bleues advanced to meet the Manitoba Bisons after dropping a hard-fought match against the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks by a 5-2 score, and finishing the tournament 1-1.

In the Consolation Final, the #6-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees met the #5-ranked St. Francis Xavier X-Women for the second-straight year. Ottawa opened the scoring on Samantha DeLenardo's second goal of the tournament 52 seconds into the game. St. Francis Xavier's Jessica Shanahan replied for the X-Women at 5:14 into the first period before teammate Kelly Boudreau scored an unassisted shorthanded marker at 6:42 of the first. Christine Allen of Ottawa even the score at 2-2 at 7:57 of the first period as the two teams moved into the first intermission.

The second period was a tightly-contested stanza. Ottawa did break the stalemate at the nine-minute mark when Samantha DeLenardo scored her second marker of the game on the powerplay. However, both teams matched each other for the rest of the period as Ottawa carried a 3-2 mark into the second intermission.

The X-Women responded in the third period as Jessica Shanahan notched her second of the game at the 4:05 mark. St. Fracis Xavier took the lead at 10:57 as Christina Davis potted the go-ahead goal. However, Ottawa didn't quit, and they tied it up on Joelle Charlebois' goal at 16:25. Sure enough, this game was headed for overtime.

And wouldn't you know it, the game was over before fans had returned to their seats. Just 27 seconds into the extra frame, St. Francis Xavier's Brayden Ferguson scored her first goal of the game, and third point, to give StFX the 5-4 overtime win. Congratulations go out to both teams on their success this season!

In the Bronze Medal Game, the Manitoba Bisons matched up against the Moncton Aigles Bleues. This was a tight-checking affair that went to a soccer-style finish. In the first period, Manitoba was the only team to crack the goose egg. Addie Miles potted her first of the tournament on the powerplay at the 7:22 mark.

The second period didn't see many more goals, but the Bisons doubled their efforts on a goal by Sarah Francis at the 9:34 mark. Aside from a handful of penalties, there wasn't much else.

The third period saw the Université de Moncton battle back. Mariève Provost broke Manitoba's shutout just 1:01 into the third. With the new-found momentum, the ice began to tilt in favour of Moncton. Janie LeBlanc chipped in her first goal at 11:19. And the game was afoot. Despite both teams making a valiant effort to score the winner, they were destined for overtime.

Both teams battled through overtime to no avail, sending this game to an old-fashioned shootout. Both goaltenders were sensational, but Moncton's Mariève Provost scored on Manitoba's Stacey Corfield in the fourth round of the shootout. That was the only goal recorded, giving Moncton a 3-2 shootout win and the bronze medal. Congratulations to both teams on their successful seasons, and to les Aigles Bleues for their bronze medal win!

The 2008 CIS Finalists got a chance to square off once more as the defending champion McGill Martlets met up with last year's silver medal team in the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks. At stake besides the gold medal? A perfect season by the Marlets as they entered the game 35-0 against CIS teams this season, and are on a ridiculous 53-0 streak since a 2-1 shootout loss against Alberta on December 30, 2007. Wow.

The top-two teams in the tournament tangled in a tightly-contested first period. Back and forth action led to scoring chances for both teams, but only McGill got on the board. Ann-Sophie Bettez scored her second of the tournament at 11:41, putting the Martlets out in front.

The second period was much the same as the first with both teams battling up and down the ice. Again, similar to the first, McGill was the only team to strike. Alessandra Lind-Kenny scored her first of the tournament, and the Martlets were out to a 2-0 lead. With one period to play, Wilfred Laurier needed to mount some offence.

Unfortunately, it was McGill who struck in the third period. Marie-Andrée Leclerc-Auger, who might have the longest last name in Canadian women's hockey, scored her first goal at 11:07 on the powerplay. The Golden Hawks rallied less than a minute later as Lauren Barch snapped Charline Labonté's shutout. However, it was not to be for Wilfred Laurier as the McGill Martlets successfully defended their title by a 3-1 score in the gold medal game. Congratulations to both teams on their successful seasons, and to the McGill Martlets for winning the 2009 CIS Women's Hockey Championship!

So there you have it. The Canadian Collegiate Women's Hockey Championship was won by the McGill Martlets for the second year in a row. A number of these women will be suiting up for Canada in the future if they so desire, while goaltender Labonté already has a pile of experience in net for Team Canada. Congratulations go out to all the teams for their incredible seasons!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 28 March 2009

NCAA Good Cop, Bad Cop

As some of you have seen on this blog, I have railed on certain NHL teams for their unbelievable and seemingly ridiculous jersey designs. I'll admit that I like the way hockey looked before Reebok got their grubby mudhooks all over the game, but corporate dollars are what they are, so who am I to criticize business decisions? In speaking with Phil, bench boss for Uni Watch Blog, we wanted to take a look at the NCAA's jersey choices, but there are literally hundreds of teams when you include both the men and women. So, instead, we decided to focus on the 16 best men's teams in the NCAA. Those would be the 16 teams participating in the 2009 Frozen Four in Washington, DC. Before we get started, here's Phil with a couple of paragraphs on how this collaboration started.

Earlier this week, a reader commented on whether or not there would be a review of the "Frozen Four" Hockey Uniforms. Teebz immediately expressed interest and so, as is my wont, I approached him to assist me with what follows. Basically, the "Frozen Four" is the hockey equivalent of the NCAA basketball tournament, with a few differences. Rather than a field of 65, the Frozen Fourincludes the top sixteen college teams, broken up into four regions (East, Northeast, Midwest and West), who face off (pardon the pun) against each other until a champion for each region is decided. We then have the "Frozen Four", which is taking place this year in Washington, D.C. Additional information on the Frozen Four can be found at the always trusted Wikipedia site.

Since I don’t know much about hockey, but I do know unis, I have entrusted the aid of Teebz in preparing this article. It will focus almost exclusively on the uniforms of the sixteen teams in the Tournament, as they were ranked coming in (#1 through #16 — although they are seeded as #1 through #4 in each region). Teebz will take the reserved, measured, studied look at each teams’ uniform, from a hockey historian and player perspective, while I will pretty much just tell you what I think about them. I have often said that of the four major sports, hockey uniforms are without question the best from a variety and color perspective. Lets see how the college puck unis stack up. — Phil

Boston University Terriers: Home, Road, Alternate White, Alternate Red.

Teebz: Boston University is the Detroit Red Wings of the NCAA. They have timeless uniforms that stand out with their solid colour and striping scheme. The only major drawback that I can see are the number of swooshes displayed by the players. There are four on the knees and thighs alone. And do you really need four jerseys? C’mon, BU, that’s ridiculous.

Phil: Well, if BU is the Red Wings of the NC2A, then why do they have two alts? FAIL. However, I’ll concede the regular home and away are gorgeous. I love the armband with the different color opposing color numbers, and that font is a keeper. The Nikeified alts aren’t garish, but they aren’t necessary — the shoulder stripes add NOTHING. I do, however, like the lace-up collar. (In Nike’s defense, Rbk did begin the shoulder wings.)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: The home and road jerseys are solid. I like the colour scheme used, and the font makes the jerseys feel a little more traditional. The alternate, however, is not something I would want to wear often. While it could be used either on the home or road, I’m not fond of that particular shade of... whatever that colour is.

Phil: As far as the "regular" home and away: the font kicks ass! Nice socks, good color scheme of blue, gold and white. Nothing superfluous. These look like hockey sweaters. Gold helmets are a nice matte finish. Quite frankly, I’m surprised the three stripes could pull off something as nice as this. I could do without the drop shadow on the numbers, but I guess that’s kind of a puck tradition. Now... those gold alts — I don’t hate them, but I’d have preferred they stuck with the same elements found on the home and away unis.

University of Denver Pioneers: Home, Road, no alternate.

Teebz: When scouring the Interwebs for photos of the Pioneers in action, nearly every photo had them in their white home uniforms. And that’s ok because they look pretty sharp. But they really need to wear their crimson jerseys more often. They’re pretty sharp with the gold accents.

Phil: That’s burgundy crimson? Looks like maroon to me. Either way, I’ll agree with Teebz here. That’s another solid uni — it looks like a hockey uniform (ignoring the many swooshes on pants and knee). But Nike didn’t crap it up with a "Bettman Bib" and pit stripes and such, so commonly found on NHL unis. Beautiful socks with strip design echoed on the sleeve. Good stuff here.

University of Michigan Wolverines: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: The white is traditional, and looks very classy. The blue is very much a Michigan colour, and looks great against the ice. The yellow maize jersey is hard on the eyes. A skating beacon doesn’t work so well. Leave the alternates, and stick with the white and blue, Michigan. The helmet design? I suppose I can give that a pass as it is distinctly Michigan.

Phil: Three different font styles (two with actual words, one with a big "M") for three different jerseys. Really? But I gotta say, I do like the home white. Nice vertically arched wordmark, lace-up collar, and three blue stripes sandwiched in between two maize... wait. Aren’t these made by adidas? Could have fooled me, perhaps that’s some subliminal advertising? Nah. Well, it’s still a solid look. I’ll give adidas and Michigan a pass and say the three stripes were purely coincidental. The blue sweater with the big "M"... meh. It does look old school — old school like a football uni should look. I actually prefer the diagonal lettering on the maize alt and that’s totally Michigan’s color, so that would really work for me as a home and not an alt. I say, pick one style and stick with it, but that’s just me. I like consistency throughout the uni and well, this ain’t that. As far as their "iconic" helmet design? It looks best on their football squad. Let’s keep it that way, and lose it on every sport that isn’t football, k?

Yale University Bulldogs: Home, Road, no alternate.

Teebz: Yale appears to be the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NCAA. The traditional blue-on-white home jerseys and white-on-blue road jerseys are classy and timeless. The best part of Yale’s ensemble might be that there are no sponsor logos all over the uniforms.

Phil: These guys, according to a conversation I just had with Teebz, appear to be a "non sponsored" school, meaning they’re not outfitted by any particular manufacturer. That would explain the swoosh on the breezers, the Bauer stick, and the three stripe sock pattern — I may be naive, but I doubt a Nike school would permit socks like that with their unis. As far as the unis themselves, I like them. Y’all might find them "boring" but they’re staid and understated, but far from boring. Typical Ivy smugness (or maybe traditionalism) is evoked by this uni set. It’s like, "We’re bloody Yale, deal with it." Still, it’s a solid, if unspectacular uni. No major complaints here.

University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: Overall, these are pretty decent jerseys. The home jerseys are a clean white with minimal flair. The road jerseys are similar in their crimson design. The alternates, however, are beacons again. The one thing that saves the alternate jerseys, though, is the striping across the chest. I like the colour scheme.

Phil: OK, these rank pretty low on the list, lowest so far. Maybe it’s me, but I’m not really a fan of cartoon characters as the crest. The colors aren’t bad, and the yellow (gold) is certainly more muted than Michigan’s maize. Home uniform is at least not crapped up with a lot of superfluous garbage, while the road is essentially a mirror image of the home, which I like. Doesn’t mean I like the uniform, just the uniformity of the uniform. I get why they’re trying to do with the alt, but it’s not really working. What I think they’re trying to do is evoke a very old-timey feel (never saw what their old unis looked like, so maybe this is some kind of throwback). Just don’t like the burgundy and white stripes on a gold uni. Sorry. Not working for me.

Northeastern University Huskies: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: The Huskies are the Chicago Blackhawks of the NCAA. While I’m not saying they are using the Blackhawks’ jerseys, they look awfully close. In any case, the Huskies look good in their uniforms. My only advice would be to lose the black alternate. It’s unnecessary when the red and white jerseys look so good.

Phil: I’m inclined to agree with pretty much everything Teebz said above. Without prompting, my first thought was "Blackhawks" ripoffs. Except that the Blackhawks use a red alternate, and not a black one. Now, these colors are nice and the unis themselves are pretty solid. Not a huge fan of the cat’s paw on the shoulder blades, but it’s not bad either. What? That’s a dog’s paw? Gotcha. Anyway, I am a big fan of the socks and jersey striping echoing one another, and the lace-up collar is a bonus. The road red is much nicer than the black alt, and since alts are pretty much unnecessary in my mind (although in hockey, they are much more preferable to baseball, where an alternate is completely unnecessary). Plus, they’ve put the dog on the alt and not the "N" and that’s kind of not my cup of tea. Otherwise, though, a nice, solid uni set.

University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: First off, they will always be the Fighting Sioux. Political correctness isn’t necessary when speaking about UND’s storied hockey program. Green and white simply cannot be overlooked as a gorgeous combination for hockey. It shocks me to think that the one NHL team who used green, the Minnesota Wild, opted to stick with red. The black alternate looks decent as well. Green really does make a difference, though.

Phil: OH BABY. My absolute favorite, at least for the road uni. I’m prolly one of the few folks on UW who prefers the Celtics alternate to their regular uni (I know, shoot me), but that’s also why I love the Fighting Sioux road uni. For some reason, this is the only shade of green which looks great when accented with black (in fact, it’s probably the only COLOR that looks good when accented with black). That Sioux sweater and sock combo, with the black pants, helmet and gloves, I don't know — it just looks great! I could do without all the damn swooshes, and the font is not the best, plus the drop shadow is unnecessary…but damn, that can’t stop the power of the green and black. As far as the home and alt — take ‘em or leave ‘em (especially leave the alt). But that road green is just freakin’ sweet.

University of New Hampshire Wildcats: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: I’m not sure why this is, but the Wildcats seem to play almost every game in their white jerseys. I scanned through their website, and all the pictures of the Wildcats team were in white jerseys. The white and blue jerseys look similar to Yale’s uniform set, but that grey/silver alternate is slick. I’m not overly impressed that the socks don’t match the colour of the jersey, though. Huge oversight on UNH’s part.

Phil: These kind of suck. But that’s not to say they don’t have some redeeming qualities. The font sucks. The stripes are great. At least, if you removed the wordmark (initialmark?) they’d be pretty solid unis. The alts are a travesty, however. Cartoon crest, non matching socks, side panels. Phooey. If there was ever a team that didn’t need an alt, at least if that’s what they’re gonna come up with, this is it.

Cornell University Big Red: Home, Road, no alternate.

Teebz: Cornell shows that traditional two-colour uniform schemes work well. The red-and-white scheme worked well for Boston University, and Cornell is no different. Classy, simple, and a very good look. If I could change one thing, I’d add a shoulder yoke. That’s it. Otherwise, Cornell’s look is nearly perfect.

Phil: OK, I like these, but they’re not my faves, although they’re pretty close. I’m probably partial to Cornell because my pop’s an alumnus, and I always had an affinity for, and knowledge of, Big Red unis growing up. You can’t get much more basic than these, and that’s not a bad thing. Home and roads echo each other, which you know I like. And, well, they’re Big Red, so of course there is only going to be red and white in the uni. You may call it bland and boring, I call it classic and traditional. No extraneous striping, piping and bibs, just a workman-like uni. It works.

Princeton University Tigers: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: Princeton looks like an ivy-league school in these uniforms. I love the shield logo on the front, and it really sets the rest of the jersey off. The striping is done well, and the orange-and-black colour scheme, like a tiger, fits to a tee. Unfortunately, the orange alternate jersey does make the Tigers look like moving pylons, similar to what the New York Islanders faced a few years back. There needs to be a white shoulder yoke to break up all that orange.

Phil: (*removing sunglasses*) If this were any team but Princeton, I’d probably hate it, but since they make black and orange somehow look great, I’ll give it a solid grade. The home is pretty good, and while I’m not generally a fan of the shield (or any symbol) on a college hockey jersey, the Princeton shield works. The black and orange fat stripe circling the jersey and repeated on the sleeve (with the number inside the stripe too!) looks pretty neat. Road uni = home uni mirror? Check. Now... onto that alternate... it’s not the worst uniform I’ve ever seen, but it’s not.. it’s not good. It’s just too much orange. Like... WAAAAAAY too much orange. I’m not advocating for the shoulder yoke like Teebz, but maybe, I don't know, not having an alternate would work. I don’t hate orange as a color, in fact it’s one of my favorites, but not this much. This is overkill.

University of Vermont Catamounts: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: Green and yellow is such an iconic look. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers wear it, and they are known for that colour combination. Vermont looks very classy, and I am a huge fan of their road uniform. What I don’t understand is why they would go black as an alternate when they had an incredibly beautiful green road jersey in their pockets. Vermont took steps backwards with their alternate choice this season.

Phil: Green and yellow is an iconic look … for Green Bay... and the Green Mountain State too, I guess. These are pretty nice unis, nothing slick and sassy, just pure, simple mapley-syrup goodness. Solid font, nice radial arching on the wordmark. Good color scheme. The alternates are pure crap unnecessary. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons: Home, Road, no alternate.

Teebz: The Falcons wear, ironically, Air Force Blue as their main colour, and mix in some grey for a pretty decent look. The one thing that bothered me was the lightning bolt on the breezers of the player in the road uniform. Why is that lightning there? What purpose does "ass lightning" serve?

Phil: Great colors, horrible font. What do they want to evoke with that? A sense of flying or something? I’m not a fan of the lightning bolt on the side of the breezers, but they may use it on some other stuff they have, so I’ll give it a free pass. While this uni is slightly more "modern" in appearance than some of the others, it’s not "badly" modern. Nice stripes on the bottom of the jersey and the socks (which match!) but I could do without the extra stripes on the shoulders. Still, not a bad uni at all. Thankfully there is no alternate.

Miami University (Ohio) RedHawks: Home, Road, no alternate.

Teebz: You know how when something works, everyone tries to copy it? Red-and-white work well as a colour combination. Miami-Ohio looks solid in their jerseys. Clean, crisp, and very well-dressed. Exactly what a hockey team should look like.

Phil: Who even knew they played hockey in South Florida? Certainly not Panther fans. What’s that? Miami is in Ohio? Who knew? All kidding aside, these are pretty solid unis. Seems like a lot of hockey teams wear red and white. Probably because it’s a great color combo for a hockey uniform. Nice and basic, it’s very workmanlike. I like the smaller stripes on the jersey sleeve on both home and away, although the outline around the numbers and wordmark isn’t really necessary. It’s not bad either. Damn fine uniform here. And no alternate, which is a bonus.

Bemidji State University Beavers: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: Bemidji State goes green and white as well. These two-colour uniform schemes seem to be a very good mix for teams. I’m not sure if it’s the lighting in the road jersey picture, but Bemidji could use less dark green/black and a little more white in there. Mix it up a little, Beavers!

Phil: I like the colors, and the home and road uniforms are both damn fine. I’m not a fan of breaking up the "Bemidji" and "State" with a number, however. I guess with a name that long, it’s hard to make it look good, but it’s just not visually appealing in this instance. Also the vertically arched "Bemidji" and the horizontal "State" somehow doesn’t look right. But that’s a small complaint. Nothing obnoxious about either the home or road uni, and the stripes are perfect. The alternate is not one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and despite the cartoon beaver, I LOVE the crest. That circular logo is sweet, but I’m not a fan of the odd sleeve pattern. They just need to figure out what to do with that beaver.

Ohio State University Buckeyes: Home, Road, Alternate.

Teebz: I don’t mind tOSU’s home and road uniforms. They are distinctly Ohio State, and the red and white colours are used again. The grey alternates, however, leave something to be desired. I’m not liking this uniform at all. Bland? You bet. Why waste the effort?

Phil: Lets start with the homes. Pretty solid uni, although the striping on the sleeves has gotta go. Colors are totally tOSU. Nice job except for the sleeves. Onto the roads. Despite the "mirror" quality of the road (which I like), it’s TOO MUCH red. I know they can’t wear white pants, but they look like the Cuban baseball team or something the US sent home in 1980 in Lake Placid. It’s not a bad look (excepting, again, the sleeve stripage), but it’s overkill on the red. Now those alts... another example of me "getting" what they’re "doing" but it’s just not working for me. It tries for that old time feel (a good thing) but it just doesn’t look right — especially in gray. The modern "Buckeye" wordmark, the helmets, the nike swooshes — it just doesn’t work for a throwbackish feel.

Well, there you have it. The final 16 teams (some of which have already been eliminated) in the Frozen Four. If you think I’m off the mark, or was a little harsh or whatever, let me know. After all, they’re just opinions, and even though mine are right you may feel differently. Tell me aboot it. – Phil

Atta boy, Phil. Honestly, I don't hate any of these jerseys per se, but I'm not fond of college teams having alternate uniforms. It just reeks of selling out, and, since you can't get a player's name on the back from the university team due to stupid NCAA rules, is there any point to making an alternate? For the most part, though, all of these teams have very good colour schemes, and all of them look pretty sharp.

Overall, a very good look at the best 16 NCAA teams this season. Comments are welcome, and I encourage you to stop in over at Uni Watch as well. You might find something on there that you like!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 27 March 2009

Because Teebz Is A Dummy

I have an order in with Amazon right now for the book to the left. See, I was relying in technology instead of old-fashioned smarts. But, thanks to reader and regular commentor JTH, he pointed out that my skills in math are somewhat disappointing. In my chest-puffing over my 600th post on HBIC, I failed to notice that there was a draft sitting in the total. It was never published. JTH, being the keen-eyed individual that he is, happened to notice that 207 + 307 + 85 does not equal 600. It, in fact, equals 599. That draft that was sitting in the pile from four months ago was being counted by Blogger despite never being published. So that means today is #600. And I look like a dummy. Oh well. You're all used to that by now anyway, so it's not like worlds will come crashing down. Anyway, let's get to something I do know - hockey.

  • I have a special collaboration piece coming out tomorrow with Uni Watch Blog's Phil Hecken. It will simultaneously be posted here and there, so either blog is good place to check out. I'll be spending time there discussing the various parts of the piece, so come find me there if you want to yell, discuss, talk, call me a dummy, etc.
  • In a meeting of the first overall team and the last overall team in the NHL, you'd probably be wise to bet money on the top team simply due to their success. Except tonight. The New York Islanders shutout the Detroit Red Wings by a 2-0 score. Joey MacDonald, a former Wings prospect who appeared in eight games in 2006-07 for Detroit, stood tall to shut down the Big Red Machine. Wow.
  • In the NCAA Men's Frozen Four, the #13-ranked Air Force Academy Falcons shutout the #4-ranked Michigan Wolverines to advance to the next round. Andrew Volkening stood tall for Air Force, making 43 saves for the shutout. The Falcons only had 13 shots, but two of them found twine. Congratulations to the Falcons on their win!
  • Another NCAA Frozen Four game saw the #12-seeded University of Vermont Catamounts defeat the #5-ranked Yale University Bulldogs by a 4-1 score. Vermont advances to the Saturday Regional Final against the Air Force Falcons. The winner advances to Washington, DC for play in the Final Four! Congratulations to the Catamounts, and good luck to both teams!
  • The University of Miami (Ohio) RedHawks stunned the #2-ranked University of Denver Pioneers by a 4-2 score. That's three higher seeds to fall on the opening day. Unlike the NCAA's hardwood brethren, it appears that anyone can win the Frozen Four regardless of rank. Isn't this the entire reason that we love hockey?
  • The KHL's Gagarin Cup Playoffs have the finalists set. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl defeated Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4-1 in their series. After losing Game One to Metallurg by a 3-0 score, Lokomotiv rattled off four straight wins by scores of 6-1, 4-2, 4-0, and 2-0. Lokomotiv goaltender Giorgi Gelashvili was impressive in the four wins, and look to carry their momentum into the Final.
  • Lokomotiv will meet Ak Bars Kazan after they dispatched Dynamo Moscow 4-2 in their series. Dynamo won Games Two and Four, splitting the home games for each team. However, Games Five and Six both went to Kazan, wrapping the series up. The Gagarin Cup Final will start Thursday, April 2. HBIC will have continuing updates from the KHL Playoffs when the series starts!
  • I had asked a question a few days back on the Uni Watch site regarding this picture. The question I had is in regards to that facemask that both Adam Oates, the RPI player, and the defenceman are wearing. It looks like a cage from a hybrid goalie mask. Does anyone know who made those cages? I want to find out more info on those things. The only other info I have on RPI wearing them is that this photo was taken in 1985. I hope someone can steer me in the right direction.
  • I got an email from Nathan Fiala. Nathan works for the University of North Dakota, and offered to send me some photos, including some better images of the cages. Did anyone know that UND wore Cooperalls like the Flyers and Whalers did? Check out the early zamboni used by UND. In regards to the cage above that Oates was wearing, UND also wore them. As did Anchorage-Alaska. And Wisconsin did too. Here's a great look at the cage worn by offensive players. If anyone has any info, please email me. Nathan, I owe you a huge thanks, and a beer the next time I'm through North Dakota. Thanks, man!
  • Well done to Ray Emery. The guy has been back in Ontario for a week, and he gets his Hummer impounded and his license suspended for a week for traveling 50 km/hr over the posted speed limit and being caught by the Ontario Provincial Police. And he wonders why NHL teams won't call his agent?
  • Speaking of police intervention, check out this idiot from Dublin, Ohio. 52 year-old Peter Stenzel was threatening the Blue Jackets organization, specifically threatening to harm goaltender Steve Mason, via phone last night as the Jackets hammered the Flames 5-0. Stenzel was arrested while wearing a Flames t-shirt. Look, hockey needs its fans. They rely on you, the fan, for a lot of things - specifically your greenbacks. Like all sports, fans are welcome. Crazed, lunatic fanatics need not apply. And that's what Stenzel appears to be.
Ok, so that's all for me tonight. I have some other work to take care of, and I'm tired of staring at this screen. Check out both the Uni Watch Blog, and this blog tomorrow for a special article. I'm sure it will generate some discussion.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 26 March 2009

Turning 600

This isn't some sort of special announcement or anything, but I thought it warranted some discussion amongst myself. That picture to the right is a T-600 from the Terminator movies that once starred California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This entry is #600 in the HBIC archives. Like the T-600, this blog is a machine. It doesn't slow down (unless there's a power outage), and it doesn't take a day off (although it runs sluggishly sometimes). What is important, though, are you guys who read my rants and diatribes. Without you and your comments and emails, I would have stopped doing this a long time ago. Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate it. Today, I'm going to spend a few minutes updating everyone on what is going on around the blogosphere.

  • Minnesota Wild blogger Elise over at 18,568 Reasons Why... will undoubtedly be writing for a Minneapolis-St. Paul newspaper soon. Not only is her blog highly informative and entertaining, but she is now officially recognized by the Minnesota High School Press Association as one of the best sportswriters of her generation. Miss Butler deserves some credit for her excellent work, so check out both her blog and her award-winning writing!
  • Schultz from Barry Melrose Rocks, having some time to lick his wounds after his opening round Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey Spill-Over League loss, explains the virtues and quirks that come along with a Bloguin Penguin. I'm thinking someone needs to name their Penguin "Francis". You know, in honour of this guy.
  • With the Colorado Avalanche playing the most uninspired hockey I've seen since their lowly days as the Nordiques, Jibblescribbits is waving the white flag. Literally. And yet they still have too many points to qualify for the Tavares-Hedman sweepstakes.
  • I want to give a shout-out to Distinct Kicking Motion. They emailed me the other day, and wanted to make it on to HBIC. So I said, "I'll do you one better - I'll link you up". Hit them up for some solid hockey chatter.
  • I have been in contact with one of the two ladies running Roaming Penguins. Stephanie is creating these little knitted Penguins and selling them for charity. The money she is raising is going to the Mario Lemieux Foundation minus the costs of buying more Penguin supplies. Help her raise some money for a great foundation by buying a Penguin, and then send her your pictures of your Roaming Penguin! Just so you know, I ordered a #66 and a #10 Penguin. Old-school Penguins are still cool.
  • I also want to shout-out to Blitz Corner. They asked if they could be linked, so I'm giving them some lip service. They have a huge collection of information on all sports, so I suggest checking them out. Guaranteed to keep you busy for a while.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins shutout the Flames the other night by a 2-0 score. What made this shutout special is that it happened on March 25, 2009. March 25, 2008 saw him shutout the New Jersey Devils by a 2-0 score. March 25, 2007 saw Fleury shutout the Boston Bruins by a 5-0 score. I'm thinking Pittsburgh may ask for a March 25 game next season as well.
  • Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell was honoured with Scotty Hartnell Wig Night in Philly as they battled the Florida Panthers tonight. "I know there's 20 guys in here that are jealous of my hair, so I think maybe in warmups a couple guys will be wearing them to be just like me," joked Hartnell to Flyers' media man, Kevin Kurz. "They may get a little better looking while they are out there skating around with it." Hartnell scored tonight, but couldn't prevent the Panthers from securing a 4-2 victory. Why am I focusing on Hartnell's hair so much? He hasn't cut it in 19 months!
  • Steve Mason must be licking his chops while looking at the standings. Mason recorded his 10th shutout of the season against the Calgary Flames tonight, and looked very impressive in doing so. Again, the man is my hands-down Calder Trophy winner, and he would even have some consideration for both the Vezina and Hart Trophies if I had a vote.
Ok, that's all for tonight. I have some additional work to do, so I'm out for now. Check out those blogs up there, and, if you have the means, order one of those Penguins and help out a great charity. Mine should be here for the playoffs, and the waiting list is only going to get longer, so you know what you have to do.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 25 March 2009

NCAA Logo Watch - Part Two

Here we are, back for Round Two. As we saw yesterday, there were some definite misses. All of yesterday's examples were in black-and-white which doesn't help creativity. Colour is important when trying to promote something. And, if you happened to pay attention, all of the Frozen Four logo were for the men's tournaments. The reason for this is that the NCAA didn't include a women's hockey tournament until 2001. However, with the women playing collegiate-level hockey, the demand for a Women's Frozen Four put the wheels in motion at the NCAA, and gave us a second logo each season. Let's take a look at the current millenium's logos.

2001 saw the Men's Frozen Four moved back to Albany, New York to the Pepsi Arena. Personally, this logo says nothing about hockey. If I were a hockey fan, would I look twice at this logo? Probably not. The action on the ice saw the end of a long streak come to fruition. The Boston College Screaming Eagles and University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux met for the second-straight year in the Final, and Boston College put 51 years of misery behind them by winning the NCAA title over the Sioux on a 3-2 overtime victory. BC's Krys Kolanos scored the game-winner, and was named to the All-Tournament Team. BC's Scott Clemmensen and Rob Scuderi were also selected for the All-Tournament Team while teammate Chuck Kobasew was named to the All-Tournament Team and brought home Tournament MVP honours.

The first Women's Frozen Four took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. This logo is worth something. It's a celebration of women's hockey, as seen with the confetti. I like this logo because it's simple, but says a lot about the event. On the ice, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs squared off against the St. Lawrence University Saints. UMD's strong play earned them a 4-2 victory over the Saints, and the first NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship. UMD's Maria Rooth was named as Tournament MVP.

The 2002 Men's Frozen Four was held in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center. This logo is, again, another great example of logos produced by the folks in Minnesota. St. Paul's logo has the stick-out-of-puck similar to the Minnesota Wild's logo that the NHL uses, and deserves a litte recognition. On the ice, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers used the hometown crowd to advance to the Final where they would tangle with the University of Maine Black Bears. It took a game through overtime where the Golden Gophers where they would defeat the Black Bears by a 4-3 score on a goal by Grant Potulny for Minnesota's first NCAA title since 1979. Potulny was named to the All-Tournament Team, and the Tournament MVP. Former Maple Leaf and current Lugano player, John Pohl, of the Swiss League was also named to the All-Tournament Team.

I could not find a logo for the 2002 Women's Frozen Four, but the ladies played their Final in Durham, New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center. The Final featured the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in their second-straight final against the Brown University Brown Bears. The Bulldogs completed the repeat by defeating the Brown Bears by a 3-2 score. Kristy Zamora of the Brown University Brown Bears received Tournament MVP honours.

The 2003 Men's Frozen Four moved to Buffalo, New York in the HSBC Arena. This logo is pretty bland, but I do like the image of Niagara Falls in the logo. They could have done more, so this logo doesn't rank highly on my scale, especially considering Buffalo's hockey history. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers were looking for the repeat as they advanced to the Final against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. With a 5-1 victory, the Gophers secured their second-straight NCAA title, and fifth overall. Notable All-Tournament Team members include Minnesota's Paul Martin and Thomas Vanek, who also was named Tournament MVP.

The 2003 Women's Frozen Four was played in Duluth, Minnesota at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, or DECC. Not bad, but I'm sure what the lighthouse has to do with Duluth. In any case, the hometown Bulldogs were looking for their third-straight NCAA title, and ran up against the Harvard Crimson in the Women's Final. It took double-overtime to crown a champion, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs captured their third NCAA title in as many years by a 4-3 score. Caroline Ouellette of the champion Bulldogs was named Tournament MVP.

The 2004 Men's Frozen Four went back to the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts. This is definitely a step backwards for the logos. Yes, the patriotic aspect is there, but Boston's previous version was much better. This one scores low. In the Men's Final, the University of Denver Pioneers, appearing in their first Frozen Four since 1986, met the University of Maine Black Bears. In exciting fashion, the Pioneers won their sixth national title with a 1-0 shutout over Maine. The most notable name on the All-Tournament Team? Maine's Dustin Penner. Denver goaltender Adam Berkhoel was named the Tournament MVP.

The 2004 Women's Final Four moved to Providence, Rhode Island into the Dunkin' Donuts Center. I'm ok with the net as the background and border. The puck in the "O" of "Frozen" seems a little amateur. I do like the anchor to include the marine lifestyle of Providence, though. Overall, a very decent logo. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers met up with the Harvard Crimson in the Final, and the Gophers controlled the game. At the end of the action, Minnesota secured their first NCAA Women's Championship by a 6-2 score. Krissy Wendell was named as Tournament MVP. In a match of Tournament stars, Krissy Wendell and John Pohl were later married. Congrats to those two hockey stars!

The 2005 Men's Frozen Four moved to Columbus, Ohio in the Value City Arena on the Ohio State campus. The outline of Ohio is alright, but why is the puck the only hockey-related item on the logo? This logo seems to be lacking compared to some others. On the ice, we had another Frozen Four first. All the participants - Colorado College, University of Denver, University of Minnesota, and University of North Dakota - were from the same conference. Denver and North Dakota advanced to the Final where they would tangle for the NCAA title for the fourth time in history. After a 1-1 tie in the first period, Denver began to control the game. At the final buzzer, the Pioneers had defeated the Fighting Sioux by a 4-1 score. There were a number of notable All-Tournament Team members in this game: Denver goaltender Peter Mannino who was also named Tournament MVP; Denver defenceman Matt Carle; Denver forward Gabe Gauthier; Denver forward Paul Stastny; and, North Dakota forward Travis Zajac.

The 2005 Women's Frozen Four went back to Durham, New Hampshire into the Whittemore Center Arena on the University of New Hampshire campus. Again, not much to speak about in regards to this logo. The mountains in the background are a nice touch, but is this for hockey? Curling? Football? No mention of the sport of hockey whatsoever. In any case, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers returned to the Final to face the Harvard Crimson for the second-straight year. And just like the year before, the Golden Gophers came away as the victors. This time, they downed the Crimson by a 4-3 score. Minnesota's Natalie Darwitz was named as Tournament MVP.

The 2006 Men's Frozen Four went back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Bradley Center. This logo takes away from the previous logos that Milwaukee had done. It has a hockey player so you know what sport is being played, but not much in the way of being a memorable logo. The state outline in the background is ok, but it is starting to wear thin. On the ice, the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Boston College Screaming Eagles by a 2-1 score to win their fifth NCAA title. All-Tournament Team members included Wisconsin goaltender Brian Elliott, defenceman Tom Gilbert, and forward Adam Burish. Forward Robbie Earl was named to the All-Tournament Team, and was selected as Tournament MVP. He has only played in nine NHL games to date. As a defenceman.

The 2006 Women's Final Four doesn't seem to have a logo available on the Internet. Or I can't find it. Which is probably more likely. The Women's Final Four was played in Minneapolis, Minnesota this year. The Wisconsin Badgers met the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Final with Minnesota looking for their third-straight NCAA title. However, the Badgers sent the Minnesota fauthful home disappointed as the #1-ranked Badgers defeated the Golden Gophers by a 3-0 score. Winconsin goaltender Jessie Vetter recorded the shutout, and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Her name will be repeated again in this article.

The 2007 Men's Frozen Four was held in St. Louis, Missouri at the Savvis Center. The Arch is always a welcome sight when speaking about St. Louis, but this logo seems so plain. Not much to speak about on this one, so it can't get high marks. The Michigan State Spartans returned to the Final to meet the Boston College Screaming Eagles who were looking to avenge their loss from the previous season. However, MSU defeated BC by a 3-1 score after Tournament MVP Justin Abdelkader scored with 18.3 seconds left in the game to give MSU the lead. Notable All-Tournament Team players include Boston College's Brian Boyle and Nathan Gerbe.

The 2007 Women's Frozen Four took place in Lake Placid, New York. Apparently, creativity and fun aren't allowed in the NCAA logos anymore. These logos are all the same: state outline for the background, flashy font, a puck. Doesn't anyone have any original ideas? The action on the ice had the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers taking on hockey powerhouse University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Wisconsin defeated the Bulldogs by a 4-1 score to win their second-straight NCAA title. Wisconsin's Sara Bauer was named Tournament MVP, and goaltender Jessie Vetter was named to the All-Tournament Team once again.

The 2008 Men's Final Four took place in Denver, Colorado at the Pepsi Center. There is a definite change here as the mountains replace the state outline, and there's a hockey stick and puck! Still pretty boring, though. The Boston College Eagles, having lost in the Final over the previous two years, met the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the NCAA title. The Eagles finally added their third title as they defeated the Irish by a 4-1 score. Tournament MVP honours went to BC's Nathan Gerbe.

The 2008 Women's Frozen Four was held in Duluth, Minnesota. I'm not sure what that thing is that somewhat resembles a hockey net, but I'm convinced that the NCAA is simply recycling whatever they can to save money/maximize profits. I went into detail last year for the women, and you can read that info here. The UMD Bulldogs defeated the Wisconsin Badgers by a 4-0 score. Kim Martin was named the Tournament MVP after posting the shutout.

The 2009 Men's Frozen Four kicks off this Friday, and it will take place in Washington, DC. I really like this logo. The font is the same as it was for the previous two years, but the addition of a very famous Washington landmark and the US flag makes it very unique to Washington. I am a fan of this logo. Boston University would have to be the favorite being ranked as the #1 seed, but Notre Dame, Denver, and Michigan may have something to say about that.

The 2009 Women's Frozen Four just wrapped up in Boston, Massachusetts. Pretty boring logo, but the flag is a nice touch. Anyway, the Wisconsin Badgers returned to the top of the mountain in NCAA Women's Ice Hockey after defeating the Mercyhurst College Lakers by a 5-0 score. Jessie Vetter was named as the Tournament MVP after posting the shutout.

Looking forward, 2010 will see the men head to Detroit, Michigan for the Frozen Four Tournament. I really like that logo despite it not reflecting hockey whatsoever. 2011 will see the men head back to St. Paul, Minnesota. 2012 will take the men to a warm climate as they will square off in Tampa Bay, Florida. I'm guessing that isn't the official NCAA logo, but I like the creativity in that one.

The women will return to Minnesota in 2010 to the Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. 2011 will move the women to Mercyhurst College's Tullio Arena in Pennsylvania.

So there you have the complete rundown of all the logos from the last eight years. Again, I apologize for the delay in posting this due to my technical difficulties, but we finally got it up. Congratulations to all the players named above for their wonderful seasons. I do have one question, though. What are your thoughts on the logos? Any that you liked or disliked? Let me know!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

HBIC Outage

Hey everyone. I apologize for not running the second half of the NCAA examination today. I had no power for the entire evening tonight, so it was a little hard to add stuff to the ol' blog. Freezing rain took down the lights and power, so I was forced to sit in the dark for a while. A long while. I had no power from 9:00PM until the time I left for work Wednesday morning. Let's just say that no power means no heat which means I had a chilly sleep last night. Yeah, not fun. Not in the least.

I want to thank you guys for holding the fort while I was sitting with candles and flashlights. More stuff coming tomorrow. I promise.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 23 March 2009

NCAA Logo Watch - Part One

It's hard not to look around these days and notice that everything is emblazoned with someone's logo. Whether it be an advertisement, a billboard, or some other commercial space, logos have seemingly taken over the world. Especially if it is for sale. Despite Paul Lukas using the logo to the left for his blog, Uni Watch concerns itself with that very notion - selling space for corporate prostitution. With that in mind, it's refreshing to see that the logos for the NCAA Frozen Four Championships for both the men and the women only have the NCAA logo on them. Unlike the CHL's Memorial Cup which has become the CHL Mastercard Memorial Cup thanks to some corporate dollars, the NCAA Frozen Four Logo hasn't seen anyone buy it yet. But this isn't how the logos have been bought. Instead, unlike the Memorial Cup which as a few slight changes year in and year out, the NCAA Frozen Four logo changes as to the city it is played in. The purpose of this examination is exactly that: how the Frozen Four logo has changed over the years, what's good about each one, and what needs an overhaul.

We'll start with 1983 where the host team were the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in Grand Forks, North Dakota at the Winter Sports Center. This is the first official logo I could find. Not the greatest by any means, but the Sioux logo and the geopgraphic location of Grand Forks are a nice touch. The Frozen Four Final featured the Harvard Crimson against the heavily-favoured Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin, playing in their third-straight title game, defeated the Crimson by a 6-2 score. Chris Chelios and Pat Flatley starred for Wisconsin, and were named as part of the All-Tournament Team. Badgers' goaltender Marc Behrend was named as Tournament MVP.

I couldn't find a logo for the 1984 Frozen Four in Lake Placid, New York, so we'll keep moving to the 1985 Frozen Four in Detroit, Michigan at the famous Joe Louis Arena. I'm not sure about this, but was the entire decade of the 1980s in black-and-white? How about some colour? Maybe an image or two of hockey? The '85 Frozen Four Final featured the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers against the Providence College Friars. RPI won a thrilling 3-2 Final over the Friars for their first NCAA Championship in 32 years, and second overall. Forward Adam Oates was a star for RPI as he was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Friars' goaltender Chris Terreri was named to the All-Tournament Team. Terreri was also named the Tournament MVP - the first time since 1960 that a player from the losing team earned that honour.

1986 saw the Frozen Four move to Providence, Rhode Island. The boat shows the marine life of Providence - a nice touch. I assume these pictures were taken from some sort of newsprint magazine because there's no way these ads were black-and-white. Anyway, the Harvard Crimson returned to the Frozen Four Final where they met the Michigan State Spartans. MSU won its first NCAA title, and second overall, with a 6-5 win over the Crimson. Defenceman Don McSween starred for Michigan State and was named to the All-Tournament Team, while forward Mike Donnelly was named to the All-Tournament Team and took home the MVP honour as well.

The 1987 Frozen Four took place in Detroit, Michigan again. At least the Detroit logo designers included a puck this time around. This logo still leaves a lot to be desired. The Fighting Sioux from North Dakota met up with the defending champions in Michigan State in the '87 Final. Led by a number of future NHL stars, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux defeated the MSU Spartans by a 5-3 score for their fifth NCAA championship. Spartans' defenceman Don McSween was named to the All-Tournament Team for the second straight year. Chris Luongo joined him from MSU's blueline. Minnesota's Corey Millen earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team while North Dakota's stars rounded out the rest of the team - goaltender Ed Belfour, forward Bob Joyce, and forward Tony Hrkac were all soon to join the NHL ranks.

The 1988 Frozen Four returned to Lake Placid, New York at the 1980 Olympic Arena. For the first time, a hockey player makes an appearance in one of these logos. The evolution is beginning, methinks. The Lake Superior State University Lakers made their first appearance in a Frozen Four, and advanced to the Final where they met the St. Lawrence University Saints. No offence, but those teams names aren't the most creative either. Anyway, the Lakers won the game 4-3 in overtime to secure their first NCAA title. Honestly, Maine's Dave Capuano is the only player with any sort of NHL recognition from the All-Tournament Team, and his 104 NHL games aren't anything to write home about. Even Lakers' goaltender Bruce Hoffort, the Tournament MVP, only played in nine NHL games in his career.

1989's Frozen Four logo completely ruins the theory of evolution. Flashy? No. Hip? No. Makes me want to attend? No. Thankfully, the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota had some good hockey news to report to make up for the boring logo. The Harvard Crimson, tired of being the bridesmaid, went out and defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a 4-3 overtime score. The Crimson, having qualified for 11 Frozen Fours and three finals, had finally earned their coveted title. Harvard forward Ted Donato went on to a decent NHL career after being named to the All-Tournament Team and MVP, while Harvard goaltender and All-Tournament Team member Allain Roy is now a player agent with CMG Sports and did win a silver medal with the 1994 Canadian Olympic Team.

As a special note, 1989 was the last year to feature a "consolation final" between the two losing teams in the semi-finals. The Michigan State Spartans won the last consolation final by a 4-3 score over the Maine Black Bears, capturing third place. From this point forward, teams that lost in the semi-finals would only be recognized as semi-finalists. The 1990 Frozen Four would be the first time since 1948 where no third-place game was played.

The 1990 Frozen Four was back in the cozy confines of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. What a terrible logo. It seems like I saw it somewhere else. Can't really place where, mind you. Note to all aspiring designers out there: if you are going to change the logo, putting it on a slant and changing the date does not constitute change! In any case, the Wisconsin Badgers won their fifth NCAA title by downing the Colgate University Raiders by a 7-3 trouncing. Colgate was appearing in their first Frozen Four in school history, so coming away second-place isn't that bad. Wisconsin defenceman Mark Osiecki had a 94-game NHL career after making the All-Tournament Team. Badgers' forward Chris Tancill was named to the All-Tournament Team and the Tournament MVP, but it only led to 134 games at the NHL level.

1991's Frozen Four logo for the event in St. Paul, Minnesota makes me think that someone learned something from the previous decade. The state is represented, the hockey stick makes it clear as to what sport is being played, and the "Fire On Ice" catchphrase adds a little intrigue. I would be interested in seeing this event. In a rather high-scoring affair, the Northern Michigan University Wildcats defeated the Boston University Terriers by an 8-7 score in overtime! NMU captain Brad Werenka enjoyed the longest NHL career from the winning team after being named as one of the All-Tournament Team members. But the Boston University Terriers produced a number of NHL stars: Tony Amonte, Keith Tkachuk, Shawn McEachern, and Scott Lachance. Scott Beattie, named Tournament MVP, barely registered as a blip on the NHL radar, playing in only 11 AHL games while spending considerable time in European leagues.

The 1992 Frozen Four was moved to Albany, New York at the Knickerbocker Arena, becoming the first NCAA Tournament to use neutral sites for the regional and final games. Hey, look at that - a hockey player, a puck, and a net! Again, we might have some positive evolution of the logo if this sort of trend continues. Speaking about trends, the Lake Superior State University Lakers won their second NCAA title in as many tries, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers by a 5-3 score. The only player who went on to any sort of NHL success was All-Tournament Team member Brian Rolston. For the life of me, I can't find who was the Tournament MVP this year. If you know, let me know!

The 1993 Frozen Four moved to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Honestly, this is the best Frozen Four logo we've seen thus far. There's no mistake as to what event you're going to see with this logo. The University of Maine Black Bears squared off against the defending champion Lake Superior State University Lakers. Led by Paul Kariya, the Black Bears became the first Hockey East team to win an NCAA Championship since the split in 1984 from the ECAC, and the first NCAA men's hockey team to win 40 games in a season. The Bears lost one game during the entire season! The Bears downed the Lakers by a 5-4 score. Kariya was named to the All-Tournament Team along with teammates Garth Snow and Jim Montgomery. Montgomery won the Tournament MVP honours as well, but went undrafted that year. LSSU's Brian Rolston was an All-Tournament Team member for the second straight year.

The 1994 Frozen Four returned back to St. Paul, Minnesota once again. Again, the designers in Minneapolis/St. Paul have continued their upward trend in designing a solid logo. This logo has a very classic feel to it. I have to say that I like it. The Lake Superior State University Lakers made their third-straight trip to the Final where they would face the Boston University Terriers. There was no denying the Lakers as they blew the doors off the St. Paul Civic Center with a 9-1 thrashing of the Terriers. LSSU's Clayton Beddoes and Blaine "The Lach Net Monster" Lacher went off to join the Boston Bruins after being named as part of the All-Tournament Team. Sean Tallaire, the Tournament MVP, played six games in the AHL, a pile of games in the IHL, and is currently serving for the Kassel Huskies of the German Elite League.

The 1995 Frozen Four logo has no information as to where the games were played, but I do know that it took place in Providence, Rhode Island. This is a definite step backwards for the logo. Milwaukee and St. Paul did a great job in working hockey into the logo overall, but the '95 logo gives me no reason to want to go to this event. The Boston University Terriers squared off against the University of Maine Black Bears in an all-Hockey East Final, the first time this had happened in NCAA history. The Terriers won the game 6-2 to capture their first title since 1978, and fourth NCAA Championship overall. The All-Tournament Team had a pretty unspectacular career in the NHL. However, Shawn Bates has had a solid career with the Bruins and Islanders. Tournament MVP Chris O'Sullivan from BU spent some time with a few clubs, but never could crack an NHL lineup.

The 1996 Frozen Four took place in Cincinnati, Ohio at Riverfront Coliseum, but this logo feels more like a New Year's Eve party invitation. I'm not sure how hockey relates to anything on the Frozen Four logo, but I assume the cityscape holds it together? Yeah, I'm stretching. As for the action, the University of Michigan Wolverines were pitted against the Colorado College Tigers. The Wolverines had not won an NCAA men's hockey title since 1964 while the Tigers had not won or appeared in a Frozen Four since 1957. Michigan needed overtime, but they won their eighth NCAA title with a 3-2 victory. There were a few future stars in this tournament as Martin St. Louis dressed for the University of Vermont Catamounts and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The Wolverines had Marty Turco, named to the All-Tournament Team, tending net for them, and forward Brendan Morrison was honoured with All-Tournament Team and Tournament MVP accolades.

1997 saw the Frozen Four head back to Milwaukee into the Bradley Center. The '97 tournament marked the 50th anniversary of the first Frozen Four, so you'd think they would come up with something spectacular, right? Well, not bad. It's very classy, and definitely states that it is the 50th year, but doesn't really tell you what the "50" stands for. Overall, decent marks for this one. The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux tangled with the Boston University Terriers in the Frozen Four Final, and the Sioux earned their sixth NCAA Championship with a 6-4 victory. A couple of Boston University players went on to bigger and better things. Forward Chris Drury has been a star in the NHL for some time, and defenceman Tom Poti has been patroling NHL bluelines for the better part of a decade. Both men were named to the All-Tournament Team. Tournament MVP and former Sioux Matt Henderson, however, only played six games in the NHL, and has found a home over in the German Elite League with the Iserlohn Roosters.

The 1998 Frozen Four took place in Boston, Massachusetts in the Fleetcenter. Honestly, this might be the best logo thus far. I love the patriotic look of the hockey player behind the Patriot. If this were in colour, I would award it top marks right now. This is a perfect example of how a logo should look: simple, classy, and it is everything Boston is about. The University of Michigan Wolverines faced a tough challenge as the hometown Boston College Screaming Eagles drew the other berth in the Frozen Four Final. Despite the hostility, goaltender Marty Turco held the fort as the Wolverines won 3-2 in overtime. Michigan won their record ninth NCAA Championship, and second in three years. Turco secured his second All-Tournament Team selection, and won the Tournament MVP for his efforts. Other All-Tournament Team selections include Boston College's Mike Mottau and Marty Reasoner, and HBIC's Hall-of-Fame-Name candidate and Michigan defenceman Bubba Berenzweig.

The 1999 Frozen Four had a totally different feeling as it moved from the northern climates to Anaheim, California and the Arrowhead Pond.

Now, I want to clear something up here. The 1999 edition of the tournament was the first official tournament to be called the "Frozen Four". The NCAA went back and retroactively renamed all previous tournaments as "Frozen Four" as well. I don't know about you, but I feel kind of ripped off. "Frozen Four" is such a cool take on the "Final Four" moniker assigned to the NCAA basketball teams, but now that name seems so petty. Also, if you take a close look at the logo for 1999, the state outline in the background is that of Alaska, not California. Why is it Alaska? The University of Anchorage-Alaska was the host school. Is this the Bizarro-World? How does Alaska get the host rights for a tournament held in California?

Ok, the action came down to the University of Maine Black Bears and the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. Hockey East was bringing home an NCAA title one way or another. At the end of the game, including overtime, the Maine Black Bears had defeated the New Hampshire Wildcats by a 3-2 score. Maine goaltender Alfie Michaud was named to the All-Tournament Team and was named the Tournament MVP, but his success only lead to two appearances in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks. He's now playing with the Fischtown Penguins in the second-tier of the German Elite League. Other notable players on the All-Tournament Team include New Hampshire's Jason Krog and Maine's Niko Dimitrakos.

The 2000 Frozen Four went back to Providence, Rhode Island. I'm not a huge fan of this logo. The hockey player feels like he came from Blades of Steel. There's nothing regional or anything to make it feel like Providence. Providence simply misses the mark once again with this logo. The action on the ice was a better than the logo, however. The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux met up with the Boston College Screaming Eagles in the final, and the Sioux secured their seventh NCAA title with a 4-2 victory. BC's Mike Mottau was named to his second All-Tournament Team. North Dakota defenceman Mike Commodore went on to a solid NHL career after being named as an All-Tournament Team selection. A couple of former Manitoba Moose also were named to the All-Tournament team as North Dakota goaltender Karl Goehring and forward Lee Goren made the cut. Goren, in fact, was named as the Tournament MVP for the Fighting Sioux.

Ok, I'm going to end Part One there as there are a number of changes starting in 2001. We'll look at those tomorrow. As you can see, the previous millenium had more misses than hits when it came to that NCAA Frozen Four logo. Tune in tomorrow, and we'll break down 2001 until 2012.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!