Tuesday 31 December 2013

End Of 2013

Tonight, the vast majority of the world welcomes a new calendar year. Some are already into 2014 at the time of this post, and that's alright too. I have had a fun year writing and reading your comments, and I really want to thank you, the readers, for stopping by when you can. You've been candid and honest in your comments and I thank you for that. You're been funny and informative, and there's no amount of gratitude I can show that will say "thank you" enough.

As we toast a great year that comes to a close tonight, I'm not going to do any highlights or best-of lists. This is my thank you to you, readers, for providing me with a reason to continue to write. I get a lot of comments on my Facebook page about the articles I write, so "friend" me there and we discuss stuff there. I also work through Twitter quite a bit, so tweet me there and we can chat as well.

You guys are the best, so I really wanna say,
You guys are awesome! Keep being awesome in 2014. It makes writing so much easier! Stay safe tonight, please don't drink and drive, enjoy your company, and I'll see you in 2014!

Until next year, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 30 December 2013

Breaking In Comerica

Like any good big brother, the NHL sent the AHL into Comerica Park first to test out the ice in case it cracked and swallowed a player or three. In all seriousness, the AHL hit the ice at the home of the Detroit Tigers, and a pretty good game was played out between the visiting Toronto Marlies and the Grand Rapids Griffins. Both teams looked great in their uniforms, and we even got to see an official skills competition at the end. All in all, it was a good day for the AHL in their second outdoor game this season.

The Toronto Marlies actually hit the AHL record books in becoming the first AHL team to win two outdoor contests with their 4-3 shootout victory over the Griffins this evening. They previous defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs at Ivor Wynne Stadium in 2012, so the Marlies might want to remain as the road team for any future outdoor games. Two-for-two is a good record in these games!

Toronto jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 1:10 into the game after Kevin Marshall beat Tom McCollom for his first of the season. Xavier Ouellet drew the Griffins even at 7:20 while the teams skated four-on-four with his second goal of the season, but the Marlies would take the one-goal lead into the intermission as Carter Ashton found the back of the net with his ninth goal of the season with two minutes to play in the period. Needless to say, it was a pretty entertaining first period!

Grand Rapids carried the play in the second period, and it paid off for former University of Michigan Wolverine Luke Glendening. Glendening was re-assigned to Grand Rapids from Detroit on Sunday, and he took advantage of the opportunity by scoring his fourth goal at 11:22 of the second period, and then victimized Drew MacIntyre once more with his fifth goal 16:18 to put the Griffins up 3-2 as they closed out forty minutes in style.

Toronto needed at least one goal as they broke out the intermission, and they found it early as Michigan native Kenny Ryan scored his second goal of the season at 2:22 of the third period - lots of twos in that last stat! Ryan's goal would stand as the equalizer through the end of the third period and the overtime period, so that means we get to see a shootout!

Just as a note, of the seven outdoor games in AHL history, six have been decided by one goal and five required overtime. Basically, if you go to an AHL game outdoors, bundle up for four periods of action. Free hockey is always better when you're warm!

Teemu Pulkkinen broke in on Toronto's MacIntyre, but was denied.
Spencer Abbott kicked things off for Toronto, and he beat McCollom.
Riley Sheahan wanted the equalizer, but MacIntyre said no.
Sam Carrick looked to increase Toronto's lead, but was turned aside.
Calle Jarnkrok dipsy-doodled, but MacIntyre denied his attempt.
Greg McKegg broke in for Toronto, beating McCollom for a 2-0 lead.
Andrej Nestrasil needed to score, but MacIntyre turned him away.

So there are the results of the game, but what did this game look like? Let's start with the Toronto Marlies who were the visiting team on the scoreboard.

Honestly, these uniforms are pretty darn nice. I love the rich blue color that is contrasted by the crisp white, and the historical aspect of the uniform is solid. The AC crown from the Toronto Marlboros uniform is currently used on the Marlies' current alternate, and it looks fantastic on this uniform as well. While the striping is a mix between old and new templates, I think the overall look works for the AHL and, specifically, the Marlies. The blue-on-white-on-blue numbers looks pretty solid, and the simple white block lettering makes names on the back easy to read. Overall, I like this uniform. It's GOOD.

The Griffins look a lot like the Detroit Red Wings, and that's fine. They've done this before. The Griffins clearly took the vintage Detroit look and applied it to their own template. The result? Pretty good as well. I'm not a fan of the numbers on the upper-right of the uniform, but this jersey is clean, crisp, and looks great. Chalk this one up to a GOOD as well.

Overall, a pretty solid night at the ballpark. There were goals, some great saves, free hockey, and a short skills competition with the shootout. While the home team went home with just a point, 20,337 fans went home happy with the action on the ice. And isn't that why we came out? Well done to both the Griffins and Marlies, and congratulations on the great game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 29 December 2013

Controversy? Solved!

So there is apparently a goaltending controversy in Winnipeg. It's not as bad as it is in Toronto where it appears both Reimer and Bernier are avoiding saying the wrong thing regarding one another, but there's something brewing in Winnipeg fans and in the media about a perceived goaltending controversy. With Ondrej Pavelec getting the hook against Minnesota only to watch Montoya come in and backstop the Jets to victory and then the follow-up win by Montoya tonight against Colorado, some think there's a goaltending controversy in Jets-land. I want you to know that I'm here to help you through this problem.

The Jets have a pile of money committed to Ondrej Pavelec over the next three seasons past this one, so let's put this idea of sitting Pavelec permanently to rest right away. The Jets aren't going to sit a guy who is making $3.9 million per season when they committed the time and money to him that they feel he deserves. Montoya is making just over $600,000 for this season, and isn't signed beyond July 1. Pavelec will still be "the guy" as this team moves forward, so we can kill off that idea right here and now.

The comparison between Toronto's goaltending issues and Winnipeg's goaltending issues, however, should be looked at deeper on Winnipeg's side. Let's be honest that Toronto has had some success playing the hot goaltender as the season has rolled on. But this isn't a localized problem to Toronto or Winnipeg. It's a fairly clear problem that plagues even the best teams. If you want to climb the standings, you can't sit in neutral with this win-one-lose-one record. No, you've got to string together some wins, and you need good goaltending to do that.

Play your hot goalie.

I know: revolutionary, right? The Los Angeles Kings played Martin Jones to an amazing 8-0-0 start while sitting one of the NHL's statistical-best in Ben Scrivens, yet no one talked about goaltending controversies in La-La-Land. There's a kid named Frederik Andersen who has started over both Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller in Anaheim this season, yet there's no goaltending controversy there. The New York Rangers have played Cam Talbot a lot more than Henrik Lundqvist may have liked, but there's no doubt who the number-one guy is in the Big Apple. See a trend here?

All of those back-ups got hot, and all of them were played until they lost. The results should be no surprise that the Ducks are atop the NHL standings, the Los Angeles Kings climbed back into a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division, and the Rangers have gone from cellar-dwellers in the Metropolitan Division to being tied for third-place. I'll grant some leeway in that the back-up goaltenders weren't 100% responsible for the turn-around by these teams, but their ascension up the NHL standings board started with some solid goaltending.

So let's put this perceived controversy to bed in Winnipeg. Play Montoya while he's hot. There's no harm in gaining points and climbing up the standings in the Central Division where points are earned at a premium. If he falters and has a bad game, go back to Pavelec and let the guy run with it just as you did with Montoya. If the Jets want to even get close to the playoffs, points are far more important than building a controversy out of nothing. Again, play your hot goaltender and win while you can. Especially if you're the Winnipeg Jets.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 28 December 2013

Aren't You Retired?

No, you're not seeing a doppleganger in that CSKA Moscow jersey, readers. That is the 44 year-old Sergei Fedorov in full gear for the Red Army team at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. The Russian legend decided to suit up for the club at the Spengler Cup as they are down a few bodies due to injury. Also, there's that NHL Alumni Game coming up, but the team needed his services to ice a full team!

Fedorov hasn't looked out of place since foregoing retirement to play against both the Rochester Americans and Geneve-Servette for CSKA Moscow, but he certainly isn't the dominating force he once was. I wouldn't expect him to be a force at 44 either, but he's taking a regular shift as a centerman and the team's GM.

If nothing else, Fedorov showed that he can still play at a high level, and that should bode well for the Alumni Game on December 31 unless CSKA Moscow advances to the Spengler Cup Final. Fedorov may have to stay with the team to help them if they were to find themselves in the final. But if CSKA Moscow is eliminated before the final, let it be known that Fedorov can still skate with the best of them!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 27 December 2013

Remember When?

There have been a lot of rookies who have come through the NHL as I proudly state that as Mr. Obvious. And will my skills of deduction are clearly on display, the reason this is important is because some players didn't always start as the numbers they made famous on their backs in the NHL. Lots of players have started their NHL careers under a certain number before donning the number they feel most comfortable with after that number comes available. Today, I want to point out a few of these numbers as we examine some of these "odd" numbers for players who became stars.

The first one I should point out is one that I am seriously considering for a jersey I own. Everyone knows who Jarome Iginla is thanks to his work in Calgary before being traded to Pittsburgh. Even as he's bounced between teams, Iginla has stuck with his familiar #12. In Calgary, though, he didn't start as #12. No, he originally suited up as #24 in his rookie campaign!

If you ask anyone who the most famous #19 on Detroit was, you'll get an instant answer of Steve Yzerman. Yzerman captained the Red Wings to multiple Stanley Cups as a player before retiring and moving into an executive role with the Red Wings. From there, though, he went to Tampa Bay where he assumed the general manager duties of the Lightning. However, if we go back to his initial days with Detroit, the Red Wings introduced him to the media in a #29 uniform!

The line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Dustin Penner has been pretty instrumental in pushing the Anaheim Ducks to the top of the NHL standings once again this year. The Ducks used this line with a ton of success in their Stanley Cup-winning season, and the magic has returned this season with Penner signing on as a free agent. Had they stuck with their original numbers, though, they could have had the highest-combined number totals for a line! Perry started his career as #61 before switching to #10, Getzlaf started out as #51 before interchanging the numbers to #15, and Penner wore #76 in his first season as opposed to his regular #26!

Everyone remembers Joe Sakic in his familiar #19 in Colorado. He is an icon in that city, and in Quebec City, while wearing this number. Joltin' Joe won an Olympic gold medal in #19 as well, so it is appropriate in seeing all those Sakic #19 jerseys across the world. But he didn't start in Quebec as #19. Instead, Joe Sakic broke into the NHL wearing #88!

Another player in Quebec also beat Eric Lindros to the punch in wearing #88. Owen Nolan was a force across a number of teams as #11, but he broke into the league with the Quebec Nordiques wearing #88 as well! It seems a couple of major stars started out their NHL careers while wearing #88 in Quebec, an neither of them were named Lindros!

Speaking of famous numbers, Jaromir Jagr broke into the league with the Penguins while wearing #68 as a way to honor his countrymen who battled the Russians in the "Prague Spring" when Russia invaded Czechoslovakia. He wasn't the only #68 during the 1990s, though, as a certain New York Islander decided he would wear #68 as well. Zigmund Palffy broke into the league as #68 before opting for #16 and, later in his career, #33.

Raymond Bourque was a fixture on the Bruins' blue line for a long time. He was a perennial all-star, and a great leader as the captain of the Bruins. He finally got his Stanley Cup ring with the Colorado Avalanche, and #77 retired after achieving his dream. However, he didn't start as #77 with the Bruins. He actually wore #7! He switched to the double-sevens after the Bruins retired Phil Esposito's number in honor of the Bruins' legend.

Doug Gilmour didn't start his career as a versatile centerman with a nose for the net, but the St. Louis Blues saw something in him to give him a shot. However, #93 wasn't his choice way back when, and he didn't wear #39 like he had in Calgary either. Instead, Gilmour broke into the league wearing #18 with the Blues before settling on #9 as he remained with the club!

Dominik Hasek was one of the best goaltenders of all-time after finding himself in Buffalo. #39 helped the Sabres to a Stanley Cup Final while winning multiple Hart, Vezina, and Jennings trophies before finally capturing a Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. It was another Norris Division team in Chicago where he got his NHL break, and he actually broke into the league wearing #31 before settling on #34 with the 'Hawks!

Now there will probably be about a thousand other players who have started their career as one number before switching to the number where they gained fame. There will always be cases where this happens as the rookies come in and look to make a name for themselves. These rookies, however, made a name for themselves in a different number than what they started with, and left a lasting legacy on the game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 26 December 2013

The Hockey Show - Episode Sixty-Eight

The Hockey Show hits the Jagr-numbered show today, and it will be a different show altogether! Beans is off today as he celebrates Christmas with family, and Columbus is still back at home in the USofA. So today, it's just Teebz taking the reins for a completely different show. Why is it different? I'll take the air at 3pm CT until 6:30pm CT for a...


Of course, you might be asking how one guy can fill three-and-a-half hours with hockey talk. I admit that it sounds like a daunting task! But I do have a couple of aces up my sleeve.

First, the World Junior Championships started today, and you'll be treated to a lot of World Junior chatter. I'll look at the Canada-Germany game in-depth, and take a look at the other games going on over in Malmo, Sweden as I break down the action from the tournament's first day.

I'll take a peek at the six teams participating in Davos, Switzerland in the annual Spengler Cup competition! Team Canada's roster will be stripped down and discussed, and I'll look at Canada's division as they play HC Vitkovice of the Czech Republic today, and HC Davos later in the week. I'll also discuss the other division that features the AHL's Rochester Americans, Switzerland's Geneve-Servette, and the KHL's CSKA Moscow.

Of note, I was in contact with Friend of the Show Brandon Reid and his always-awesome wife, Jessica, and they will not be making the trip to Switzerland with CSKA Moscow. Brandon has been sidelined with an "ab injury", as Jessica put it, caused by his ridiculous speed on the ice. I was willing to cheer for the Russian team in the other pool with Brandon on it, but now I may have to revisit that decision with Brandon being out. Get well soon, Brandon, as you're a regular on the Russian Roundup!

I'll also play the interview I did a few weeks ago with Mr. Brian Poe, the head of Hockey Doctor, Inc. Brian has the exclusive contract with the NHL, AHL, and a few other leagues to provide the teams and officials with stick measurement gauges. Brian gave an excellent interview, and this interview is not to be missed!

Finally, I'll look at some news about the Jets, the upcoming Winter Classic and Alumni Games, and some other notes from around the NHL world. I'll update everyone on the Universiade Games in Trentino, Italy that finished up on December 21. University of Manitoba Bisons defenceman Caitlin MacDonald played a large part in the Canadian women's team's success over there, so I'll run down that tournament.

Of course, you're welcome to give me a call if you're near a phone. Buzz me in the booth at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM) and we'll put your call on the air! You can also tweet me at @TeebzHBIC anytime during the show as I keep an eye on that scene. I'll be on the air at 3pm CT today, so get to a radio or an internet-connected device and tune into 101.5 UMFM for this hockey chatter extravaganza!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 25 December 2013

A Christmas Tradition

If there is one Christmas movie that I watch every year without prejudice, it's Disney's telling of the Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol. I actually clear an hour of time specifically to watch this classic cartoon because of the memories it brings. While others may prefer Christmas movies such as Elf, Christmas Vacation, or Home Alone - and all are excellent Christmas movies, might I add - I simply opt for something from my childhood.

The cartoon was produced in 1983 by Walt Disney Productions, and it features many of the main Disney characters in a variety of roles. It's almost like an ensemble play by the most famous Disney characters, and all of them bring their own personalities to Dicken' characters they play.
With the main roles covered, there are a pile of extra players in the film from various Disney cartoons. The three little pigs are seen as carolers, Chip and Dale are seen dancing in the past, Huey, Louie, and Dewey are decorating a Christmas tree in the past, and Skippy Bunny and Toby Turtle from Disney's Robin Hood can be seen in some final scenes.

The fact that this movie received "two thumbs down" from Siskel and Ebert was surprising to me. Personally, this movie does an excellent job in teaching kids about the importance of being kind to one another without getting too wordy as Dickens sometimes can be. I admit I wasn't aware this was a Dickens story until my mom filled me in when I was an adolescent. And the fact that it won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject tells me all I need to know about how great this cartoon is.

I finished last night's Christmas wishes on here while watching Mickey's Christmas Carol. It's a tradition for me regardless of where I am and who I'm with, so be prepared if I spend a Christmas with you. This will be watched, and I highly recommend it to everyone in getting that true Christmas feeling.

Oh, and FYI: if you're kicking around the house or at work or some other place that features an internet connection,  The Hockey Show goes live from 3pm to 6:30pm! Three hours of hockey chatter tomorrow on 101.5 UMFM! It's just me as Beans is off doing Christmas with his extended family and Columbus is back home in St. Paul, Minnesota, so we'll have a pile of stuff to discuss. We'll talk about the World Junior Championships, Spengler Cup action, the Winnipeg Jets, and I'll even have a special interview with Mr. Brian Poe, the chief vendor of the stick measurement gauge for the NHL! Join me tomorrow, and we'll talk lots of hockey!

Until next time, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Spirit Of Christmas

It seems like yesterday that the image below was me on a local pond, working on my skating and stick-handling with friends as we played hockey. With it being Christmas eve, family was over and laughs and smiles were shared. I believe Ray Charles had it right when he sang,

Christmas is the time of year
For being with the ones we love,
Sharing so much joy and cheer -
What a wonderful feelin' -
Watching the ones we love
Having so much fun.
The image below, owned entirely by Miss Lynne Allan, takes me back to that time. I added the falling snow digitally, but that innocence of heading out to your local rink just to skate and lose one's self in the pure joy and exhilaration is exactly what the spirit of Christmas is all about to me.
Happy Holidays!
Love one another, be thankful for family, friends, and health, and Merry Christmas to everyone! If you don't celebrate Christmas, happy holidays as well! To all the men and women serving overseas, stay safe, get home, and hug those that mean the most to you. That's the spirit of Christmas - being with the ones you love!

Merry Christmas from Hockey Blog In Canada!

Monday 23 December 2013

Protect The Net... Better

If you're Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, you are welcoming the upcoming holiday break with open arms. Smith has had himself a rough couple of nights as the Maple Leafs were credited with a goal in the shootout after Smith slid into the net while covering the puck with his pads. As you're probably aware, that's a good hockey goal as long as he wasn't pushed or forced into the net in some way. The goal stood, and Toronto won the game 2-1 in the shootout thanks in part to the awarded goal. Tonight? Smith was victimized once more in a rather unorthodox way to lose a game.

Let's set the scene. It's 1-1 between the visiting Phoenix Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres. Mark Pysyk is coming into the zone as the Sabres mount a rush. And that's where I'll let the video take over. Here's what happened.
Once is a coincidence. Twice? It appears that Mike Smith is snake-bitten over this last week! There may not be another goaltender who has had two goals awarded against him like Mike Smith in the same month, let alone the same week! And the worst part? Both contributed in a big way to the Coyotes' opposition winning.

Three days off for the Coyotes will probably be nice for Smith. He can go home, escape the jokes being made about the "Butt Goal", celebrate the holidays with his family, and get ready for the San Jose Sharks on Friday. He did make one comment after the game, though, that deserves a little recognition.

Until next time, keep your butt out of the net!

Sunday 22 December 2013

University's Best

Pictured to the left is Caitlin MacDonald. Caitlin is a defenceman with the University of Manitoba Bisons, and she's generally regarded as one of the better defencemen in the CIS. Statistics aside, I know this to be true because she was chosen for the second time in her University hockey career to participate as a member of Team Canada at the Universiade Games. With Christmas approaching, it would have been great to make it a holiday filled with gold as Team Canada and alternate captain Caitlin MacDonald went looking for medals in Trentino, Italy!

I'll be upfront in telling everyone that things in Italy went exactly according to plan. Canada went oversea with their team of University-based all-stars and established their dominance over their opponents. In fact, it wasn't even close to even being a competition when Canada was on the ice. I'm a little embarrassed to say that about the team because these women are exceptionally talented, proving it in all seven games they played while amassing a goal differential of +75. No, I didn't mistype that differential. 77 goals-for, and a mere two goals-against. Wow.

Perhaps what was most scary about this Canadian women's team was that they led the tournament in scoring by a wide margin, but saw their power play go 3-for-21 in their seven games to finish fourth out of the six teams. They had no shorthanded goals to boast either, so that means they scored 74 goals at even-strength! And the two goals they surrendered through the entire tournament? Both of those came while on the penalty-kill which finished last of the six teams at 5-for-7. Unstoppable at even-strength? You might say that.

However, the adage of "the best defence is a good offence" may have played into things in a large way. Canada held their opponents to 52 shots throughout the entire tournament! Russia, who finished with the silver medal, surrendered 202 shots as the second-best defensive team! It's pretty hard to fire shots at the Canadian goaltenders when you don't have the puck, and it appears that Canada controlled the puck for the majority of every game they played. The total number of goals scored and the total number of shots against indicate that Canada really dominated in the games they played.

Canada opened the tournament on December 10 against Spain, and it was over before Spain even had a shot on net. Canada led 13-0 after two periods while Spain had a grand total of zero shots. ZERO. The final was 21-0 with Canada surrendering a mere two shots before the final horn sounded. Sirois Rousseau of the University of Montreal had an overall easy game fort he shutout while Spaniard Martin-Calero Alvarado faced all 75 Canadian shots. Caitlin MacDonald finished with one assist for her first Universiade Games point!

Canada returned to the ice against Russia on December 12, and this game looked to be more difficult for the Canadian women as they battled an established hockey nation. However, the scoreboard showed a different story once more as Canada took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room at the first intermission, but had an 18-3 advantage in shots. It was the same story in the second period as Canada jumped to a 2-0 lead and a 31-7 advantage in shots. The third period saw Canada strike three times as they poured on the pressure, outshooting the Russians 23-3. Canada would win 5-0 as Russian goaltender Anna Prugova stopped 51 of 56 shots by the time final horn had sounded. Another decisive win for the Maple Leaf-clad squad. Kelly Campbell registered the ten-save shutout while Caitlin MacDonald did not register a point in this game.

Canada squared off against Great Britain on December 13 as they looked to push their record to 3-0. Britain lost a heartbreaker to the US squad by a 2-1 score the day before, so they were looking to build on their solid game. Unfortunately, Canada squashed those ideas early and often. Canada threw 38 shots at the British net and goaltender Nicole Jackson in the first period as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. It was 7-0 for Canada after forty minutes, and Canada had a 61-0 shot advantage! Not to dwell on how lopsided this game was, but Kelly Campbell recorded the one-save shutout in the 13-0 win for Canada as they outshot Britain 94-1 in the game. Kudos to Nicole Jackson for standing in there to make 81 saves in the game! Caitlin MacDonald picked up another assist in the game to give her two points in the tournament.

The two North American nations met on December 15 as Canada and the US teams faced off. The US team is made up of mostly Ivy League NCAA players, and there's always an intense rivalry between the two nations on the ice. The shot totals were closer than seen in previous games as the Canadians outshot the Americans 9-4 in the opening frame, but Canada took a 2-0 lead into the break. Canada added four more in the second period as they outshot the Americans 12-3, and the rout was on as Canada led 6-0 through two periods of play. After Cara Wooster of the University of Saskatchewan made it 7-0 for Canada, the first blemish happened as Cassondra Catlow of the University of Rhode Island beat Sirois Rousseau on the power play with Jenna Smith in the box to end Canada's shutout streak. Canada would find the twine twice more before the end of the game, though, and skate to the 9-1 victory. Kudos to Penn State University goaltender Katie Vaughn for facing 36 shots in the loss. Caitlin MacDonald scored her first Universiade Games goal with 2:56 to play in the game as Canada's ninth goal, and that pushed her total to three points in four games (1G, 2A).

Canada met up with the upstart Japanese team on December 16, and there was a chance with a Japan win that the Canadians would be in tied for first-place with Japan! Also to play for in this game was the winner advancing to the semi-finals to play the fourth-seeded team, so the easier path to the gold medal was at stake between these two squads. Like they had done all tournament, Canada came out firing, putting 17 shots on Hazuki Maeda in the Japanese net and finding room behind her twice. After a 2-0 lead and a 17-3 shot advantage in the first period, Canada continued its barrage on opposing netminders as threw another 16 shots at Maeda with one getting by her for a 3-0 lead and a 33-5 shot advantage. It appeared Canada would skate to the 9-0 victory, but Sophie Brault of the University of Montreal was whistled for tripping with just over a minute to play. And Canada suffered their second blemish as Ayano Ichijo put a power play goal behind Sirois Rousseau with just 46 seconds to snap Rousseau's shutout. Caitlin MacDonald had the seventh Canadian goal to push her to four points (2G, 2A) in the tournament.

With the win, Canada wrapped up top spot in the six-team tournament, giving them the top-seeded ranking for the medal round. With Japan's loss, it created a three-way tie amongst Japan, Russia, and the US for the next three spots. After some complicated math calculations, Russia emerged as the second-seed, USA as the third-seed, and Japan as the fourth-seed. That set the semi-finals with Canada meeting Japan in back-to-back games, and Russia would face off against the USA.

Canada and Japan renewed acquaintances on December 18 with Japan looking for the major upset. Having played two days earlier, there was a shot at knowing how the Canadians would play and possibly stopping them. However, Canada didn't offer that idea even a glimmer of hope. As they did all tournament, Canada came out guns a-blazing. Japan weathered the storm early on, but three goals in 4:18 put the Canadians up 3-0 going into the break, having outshot Japan 14-3. Five more goals on 18 shots in the second, and seven more goals on 18 shots in the third period was the damage done as Canada skated to a berth in the gold medal game with a 15-0 victory on 15-of-50 shooting. Kelly Campbell recorded the eight-save shutout and Caitlin MacDonald stepped up in a big game as she recorded three assists to push her to totals to two goals and five assists in the tournament!

After the Russians downed the Americans by a 3-2 score in the other semi-final game, the Canadians and Russians met for university hockey's highest international honor on December 20. Anna Prugova would man the Russian net once more as she looked to trip up the Canadians en route to the gold medal. This game, however, followed nearly the same script as the first Canada-Russia game as Canada took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after outshooting the Russians 17-3. Canada would score twice in the second period as they extended the shot differential to a 38-6 margin, leaving just the final frame for the Russians to mount a comeback. But that comeback would never materialize as Canada scored two more times to win the Universiade Games gold medal game by a 5-0 score. Canada finished the game with a 52-12 advantage in shots, and Kelly Campbell recorded her fourth shutout in the four games she appeared in! Caitlin MacDonald added another assist to her total, bringing her Universiade Games total to eight points (2G, 6A)!

Not surprisingly, Canada had the best goaltending tandem as Kelly Campbell didn't surrender a goal in her four games, stopping all 31 shots she faced. Sirose Rousseau finished the tournament with two power play goals-against for a 0.67 GAA and a .905 save percentage with one shutout. Brittany Fouracres of McGill University was the leading scorer amongst all blueliners with 11 points (1G, 10A), and Manitoba's Caitlin MacDonald finished second with her eight points (2G, 6A). Caitlin's two goals also tied her with five other players as the highest goal-scoring defencemen in the tournament. Forward Gabrielle Davidson of McGill University was the leading scoring with 22 points (13G, 9A) and her 13 goals were tops in the tournament as well. Katia Clement-Heydra of McGill lead the tournament with 13 assists as she finished second in scoring with 18 points (5G, 13A).

So after all that, Canada returns home with their third gold medal since the Universiade Games began play in 2009. Canada has yet to lose a game in the women's ice hockey event, going 21-0 in three tournament thus far. In a rather interesting note, there has been a Manitoba Bison on each of the teams as goaltender Stacey Corfield helped the team to gold in 2009, and Addie Miles helped Canada win in 2011. Caitlin MacDonald was chosen to be part of that 2011 team, but had to withdraw due to injury.

Here are your 2013 Universiade Games women's ice hockey champions: TEAM CANADA!

Congratulations to all the women who participated in the event, and to all the members of Team Canada on their victory! Here's hoping we can get Caitlin in the UMFM studios soon with her shiny new neckwear! Next up for her? A CIS Championship with the Manitoba Bisons!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 21 December 2013

Dipsy-Doo... WOW!

The item to the left? A jockstrap. There has been a few players who have sent goaltenders to their local lost-and-found in search of their jockstraps after scoring in the shootout. For example, Pavel Datsyuk has some of the softest hands and slickest moves ever seen. Linus Omark was a YouTube sensation before hitting North America with his array of dazzling dekes. Robbie Schremp used to light up the scoreboards with his work in junior hockey as a puck magician. Today, we have a new name to add to the list as Linus Klasen of Sweden pulls a move off that is amazingly deceptive.

I know other sites have covered this move extensively, so I'm not going to go into great detail about the move. I first knew of Klasen when he was a member of the Milwaukee Admirals and appeared in the AHL All-Star Game in 2010 when I was covering the Manitoba Moose. But to see this move that he pulled off at the Channel One Cup against the Czech Republic and former AHL goalie Alexander Salak? Wow.
Let's not forget that Klasen was no slouch in the AHL. He suited up for 47 games with the Admirals, scoring 22 goals and adding 23 assists. After starting slow with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League last season, he's currently scoring at a 1.28 points-per-game pace this season. The kid can score!

To give you an idea of just how well he's playing, Lulea is third-place in the Swedish Hockey League with a 17-11-5 record. Of those five overtime or shootout losses, only one is a shootout loss. In Klasen's case, he leads the team in goals, assists, and points, and his 41 points are 17 points better than second-leading scorer Niklas Olausson! Think a lot of the offence runs through him?

Again, this is a kid who played very well, I thought, as an AHL player. Clearly, he made a few people sit up and notice when he pulled this move off in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition in Hershey.
Again, he scored 45 points in 47 AHL games, so it's not like he didn't have the talent to play in North America. Yes, I get that he was a little on the small side at 5'8", but the kid could dangle. He also didn't mind going to the high-traffic areas to score goals, seen here as he victimizes the Moose.
The fact that Linus Klasen is making it to highlight reels once more is proof that this kid, like Omark and Schremp before him, should have been given a better shot. He's 27 now, but he was 24 when he was lighting up the AHL. And if there is room in the NHL for Linus Omark, there has to be room for a player of Klasen's skill level.

All I know is that Alexander Salak has the cleaning crew at the arena still looking for his jockstrap after that move pulled on him by Klasen today.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 20 December 2013

TBC: Behind The Net

I've been avoiding the malls like it has an infinite amount of infectious diseases, so I can't comment on how busy bookstores are right now. There have been some excellent books reviewed over the past year, and I may get one more book squeezed in before the end of the calendar year. In saying this, though, if you still need one more excellent Christmas gift for your hockey fan, I may have it here today. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories, written by Stan Fischler and published by Sports Publishing. Mr. Fischler digs up a ton of interesting hockey stories from the beginning of the NHL through to our current era, putting the best 101 stories into this book for our pleasure. And there are some excellent stories unearthed!

From the Sports Publishing website, "Stan Fischler is a legend of sports broadcasting. He began his career as a publicist for the New York Rangers in 1954 and has been covering hockey in the over half a century since. The winner of five Emmy Awards, Fischler has worked in every medium from print to TV to Twitter. This 'Hockey Maven' currently serves as the resident hockey expert for MSG and MSG Plus. He can be seen every week on MSG Hockey Night Live. He lives in New York City." I'll also add that Mr. Fischler has written a number of books on hockey, and received the 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy for his contributions to hockey in the United States.

I'll tell you up front that I read this book fairly quickly. The stories aren't long, but the pages are filled with a ton of hockey history and some pretty interesting facts. Mr. Fischler clearly went way back into the archives to grab some of these amazing stories, and others were ones he covered himself as a member of the media. In either case, there are 101 fantastic hockey tomes in Behind the Net, and it's a very enjoyable read!

The book itself is broken down by chapters in terms of the actual stories, but these are further categorized into five sections: Hockey History, Colorful Characters, Unlikely Heroes, Incredible Feats/Personalites, and Outrageous. Depending on your mood, you could opt to read the "Outrageous" section of stories first if you wished, but regardess of the order that Behind the Net is read, there is something that every hockey fan can find interesting.

There are stories of a team using dog sleds to get the the Stanley Cup Final, Billy Mosienko's amazing feat of a hat trick in 21 seconds, the feat of using two goaltenders in a game who regularly switched on line changes (it happened!), and, of course, Santa's favorite hockey team! You didn't know the big guy had a favorite team, did you? Well, he does, and Mr. Fischler's research proves it!

One of my favorite stories was about the man to the right, Mr. Tom Fenton. On December 16, 2010, the Coyotes called upon Mr. Fenton to help them out after Ilya Bryzgalov fell ill following a meal. The Purchase, New York native and Manhattanville College coach got a call from Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving to see if he could join the team as theback-up netminder for the game against the New York Rangers! The 26 year-old first thought his friends were playing a prank on him, but he did make it to Madison Square Garden to don his #35 jersey as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes! Mr. Fischler writes,
Fenton took warmups with his new team, adorned in NHL goalie equipment and his very own Phoenix Coyotes jersey (which he got to keep afterward). His teammates went easy on him before the game, but Fenton had a sudden vision of being forced into the game by a freak LaBarbera injury and having Rangers' winger Marian Gaborik bearing down on him menacingly with the puck.
Mr. Fenton escaped that fate, though, as Jason LaBarbera survived the game without injury. He was interviewed by FSN Arizona's Todd Walsh, though, so that's a pretty cool story - one that Mr. Fenton won't forget!

The weird part? Brett Leonhardt, the video coach for the Capitals, has been pressed into action a couple of times when the Capitals' goaltenders get injured during warmups. Doug Slipacoff, Tom Fenton's best friend, was Leonhardt's roommate in college! How crazy is that?!? I hear Twilight Zone music.

Stories like Mr. Fenton's tale make Behind the Net a great gift for yourself or your hockey fan. Mr. Fischler's time spent covering and around the game is evident as the 101 stories have a uniqueness to them that simply wouldn't be there if it weren't for Mr. Fischler's devotion and dedication to the game and his craft. The writing is excellent throughout the 251 pages, and I found it difficult to put the book down once I started reading. For these reasons, there is no doubt that Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Look for Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories at your local bookstores now, and give your hockey fan 101 reasons to love hockey this Christmas season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 19 December 2013

The Hockey Show - Episode Sixty-Seven

The Hockey Show, which I am thinking about rebranding as "The Best Damned Hockey Show" since Tom Arnold can't fight me on this, is going to be talking about a Christmas tradition tonight. While everyone is enjoying the leftovers from Christmas dinner and cleaning up all the holiday cheer left behind on December 26, there's a little tournament starting over in Malmo, Sweden as the 2014 World Junior Championships get underway! Being Canadians and hockey fans, you know Beans and I will be watching, so tonight's episode is the World Junior Championship Preview Special where we breakdown the teams, talk who will finish where, and, of course, how Canada will fare overseas in this year's tournament.

Joining us tonight is a man whose story and fifteen-minutes of fame was already covered here on HBIC, but it might be a good idea to link back to Steve Setka's moment of infamy! Steve is one of the members of the Jets Ice Crew who clean snow off the ice and a variety of other odd jobs at Winnipeg Jets games, and his highlight-reel moment came when Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen dumped him in the corner during a commercial break! Steve will join us tonight as we get his thoughts on the World Junior Championships, how Canada will finish in this tournament, and who the surprise team may be in this event. And we'll talk about Steve's SportsCentre moment as well!

We'll chat up the 2013 Universiade Games that are going on right now in Trentino, Italy. The University of Manitoba has one player over in Italy as women's defenceman Caitlin MacDonald is helping the Canadian squad try to achieve their goal of a gold medal. They finished up their portion of the round-robin last night, so we'll see how they're doing, see how Caitlin is making out, and check on the men's event as well.

All this and more on tonight's episode of The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM at 5:30pm CT! Join us for some hockey chatter about these topics, and we'll take some calls about how you think the World Junior Championships are going to play out! See you tonight!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

The Only Card I Want This Year

The holiday season brings about many things: the exchanging of gifts, the baking of delicious treats, the amazing dinners, the get-togethers with friends and family, and the giving of Christmas cards. If you know me outside of this screen, you know that I'm not particularly fond of cards in any form: birthday, anniversary, report, et cetera. However, this Christmas there is one card that I do want, and it has a very important message behind it.

The card above features Mandi Schwartz, and you probably have heard her story before. If you haven't heard about Mandi, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2008 during her junior year at Yale University. After treatment saw her cancer go into remission, she returned to school in January 2010 with plans to dominate the NCAA hockey scene. Unfortunately, the cancer returned and she took time off once more to battle the disease. Mandi sadly passed away at home in Saskatchewan in April 2011 at the tender age of 23.

Mandi was a fantastic hockey player who suited up for the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan before accepting a scholarship to Yale University. She was expected to challenge for a roster spot on Team Canada once her NCAA career ended, but that dream was put on hold when leukemia struck. Her fiancé, Kaylem Prefontaine, had proposed to her and they had planned for a wedding in the summer of 2012. Mandi, who never let the smile disappear from her face, battled the disease bravely, even showing up to greet her brother at the Regina airport after he returned from the World Junior Championships in Buffalo in 2011. Jaden, who broke his ankle during the tournament, hugged his sister tightly, placing his silver medal around her neck as they embraced.

Thanks to Upper Deck, Mandi's legacy as a star hockey player will live on, but the motivation for the card was much deeper than just honoring the player.

"Mandi was a hockey player and a motivational teammate, but more than that, she was an exceptional person," said Aleca Hughes, former teammate and co-founder of the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. "Her character was fundamentally kind and compassionate, and for that reason, Mandi's story has transcended beyond the hockey community and those who had the pleasure of knowing her. Mandi's legacy continues to inspire humanity and we hope her Upper Deck card will remind athletes and sports fans the responsibility we all have to give back."

From the Upper Deck release,
What makes these cards so special of course is that they contain actual swatches from one of Mandi Schwartz’s game-worn jerseys. Mandi’s parents donated the blue Yale jersey to help bring these unique collectibles to life. Upper Deck intentionally short printed the game-worn jersey cards available in packs however and is making the lion's share of them available to be sold through The Mandi Schwartz Foundation. The game-patch cards can only be found in packs and are limited to just 15 total copies.
I'll be honest when I tell you that I am going to donate whatever amount of money is necessary to get me one of these cards. I didn't know Mandi personally, but her character, determination, and positive attitude are traits that everyone should have. That fact that she continued to embrace everyday with her positivity while staring down a horrible disease is a testament to her strong will and character.

While supporting Upper Deck by buying their packs of hockey cards is fine, I'm far more interested in helping the Mandi Schwartz Foundation directly. Fifteen cards in millions of packs of hockey cards does make them extremely rare, so best of luck in finding one if that the route you'd like to take. However, if you'd like to help the Mandi Schwartz Foundation directly, head over to the website. There isn't any info posted about how to acquire a card just yet, but you definitely need to get one once the information is posted.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Heading To Sochi

If anyone saw this coming, I want to let that person know that they may have some sort of clairvoyance that should not be stifled. When it was announced last week that Canadian women's team head coach Dan Church was resigning, the entire hockey world was caught by surprise. Church had been leading Canada to victories over the USA in the last few games, and it seemed like this team would ride on this high into Sochi. However, after stating that there were doubts about his ability to coach the Canadian women to a gold medal, Church resigned and the Canadian women's team was left in disarray, evidenced by the 5-1 beating they took at the hands of the American women last Thursday.

Had it not been for goaltender Shannon Szabados, the American women may have won by a couple of touchdowns. The team looked lost and listless on the ice, understandably, after the news of Church's resignation was given to the team just a few hours before the game. While Lisa Haley and Danielle Goyette did what they could to get Team Canada ready for battle, the results were pretty evident that the Canadian women were shaken by the news.

This, of course, meant that Hockey Canada would need to find a head coach quickly as time would be an enemy with just a couple of months before the Sochi Olympics start. There were some who wanted to see Haley and Goyette remain as the co-coaches in order to promote the women's game and women in coaching. There were some who called for Melody Davidson to return as head coach, but that idea appealed to everyone but Davidson. Hockey Canada, though, identified a coach they wanted based on his former success at a few different levels, and introduced Kevin Dineen today as the man who will guide the Canadian women in Sochi.

Honestly, I really like this hiring. Kevin Dineen has represented Canada internationally during his playing career, so he's no stranger to the international game. He won silver medals at the 1985 and 1989 World Championships amongst his four appearances at those events. He helped Canada win the 1987 Canada Cup, and he helped Canada to a fourth-place finish at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games. The man has some great international and Olympic history to draw on for this coaching job.

His NHL playing days saw him suit up for 1188 games, scoring 355 goals and and adding 408 helpers as a member of the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, and Columbus Blue Jackets. While he was a defensive forward later in his career, he twice scored 40-or-more goals in his NHL career, and became a very smart defensive forward for the last few years he played in the NHL. Dineen spent 21 seasons in the NHL, and certainly was a contributor for each of the five teams he played for in his career.

After his playing days ended, he turned to coaching. Dineen's coaching resumé is actually quite impressive as well. He was named as the head coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates in 2005, and proceeded to coach the Pirates to a 53-19-8 record which saw their season end in the Eastern Conference Final - not bad for a first-year coach! Over six seasons, Dineen would guide the Pirates to a 266-155-59 record, not posting a losing record in any season and twice losing in the Eastern Conference Final to end the season.

His NHL days were a little more difficult as he was hired to coach the Florida Panthers, but he brought new life to a team stocked with free agent veteran players. His first season saw the Panthers capture the Southeast Division crown with a 38-26-18 record, but the New Jersey Devils would upset the third-ranked Panthers in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Injuries and poor play over the next season saw the Panthers take steps back, and a rebuilding phase that saw the Panthers struggle this season led to Dineen's dismissal after 16 games. In just over two seasons, Dineen compiled a 56-62-28 record. Not bad, but certainly better than some who had more talent.

So we have a guy who is a product of Hockey Canada, was an established goal-scorer as an NHL player who became a solid defensive forward, a great AHL coach, and a solid NHL coach. This is a man who has great experience, and it will come in handy as he gets prepared for the biggest stage for women's hockey.

The reason I like this hiring? Dineen brings an element of the NHL and AHL to the team. While I understand that women's hockey is far different from the men's game, the offensive systems that are run in the men's professional game focus on shooting and speed - talents that the Canadian women have and need to use more often. From the powerplay to defensive zone coverage, I think there's a good chance that Dineen's fingerprints will be all over this team when the tournament opens in Sochi.

"I am a product of Hockey Canada," Dineen said today at the press conference. "I've had the opportunity to represent my country on the international stage. I may have a little unfinished business from my Olympic experience."

Let's hope he gets the Canadian women back on-track this week in Grand Forks, North Dakota in their pre-tournament game, and he gets to live the dream as he guides the Canadian women to another gold medal!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 16 December 2013

Most Wonderful Video Of The Year

Hockey has a pretty strong following in the province of Manitoba. There are new junior teams, there was the return of that NHL thingy, and there's chatter of a WHL team possibly setting up shop in Winnipeg within the next few years. All in all, hockey is taking Manitoba by storm - or vice versa? - and it shows no sign of slowing. In saying this, one of Manitoba's newest junior teams, the Virden Oil Capitals, have put together a video that has all the makings of the holiday season with a twist. And it's pretty darn good!

Normally, videos posted on HBIC contain some sort of violent act that should be reprimanded. Thankfully, the Oil Capitals aren't a part of this trend. The MJHL team's marketing manager thought it would be a good idea to get the team to do some sort of holiday video in the hopes of drawing a little attention to the team. Within 48 hours, the team's YouTube video had gone viral in a big way as CBC picked it up amongst other outlets. I had been told about the video on Saturday, but didn't actually get around to watching it until yesterday. I'll say that was a mistake because this video is AWESOME!

Full credit to Lindsey Gullett and the marketing team of the Virden Oil Capitals because I'm impressed. The lead man with his manly moustache that carries the bulk of the lip syncing is twenty year-old defenceman Curtis Houlden, and he does a magnificent job in raising some Christmas spirit. Kudos to the entire Ice Capitals team because this video is all about the spirit of Christmas.
Without any pause, I can say that I am proud to be from Manitoba with an effort like this. Well done, lads! I was especially impressed with the two spinning goaltenders, Adam Irwin and Kyle Beckett, and the spin move pulled off by #14 Jordan Greig. This felt like a Broadway production with all that choreography and timing! If any of these guys are looking for summer work, Rainbow Stage may be looking for extras in their plays!

Honestly, it's nice to see the players having a little fun while raising some Christmas cheer. Excellent work, Ice Capitals! Enjoy the holidays, and all the best as you look to wrap up top spot in the MJHL's Sher-Wood Division!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 15 December 2013

Tool By A Tradesman

If you haven't been listening to HBIC Radio, you're missing out on some good stuff. Sure, the replays of UMFM's The Hockey Show are on there where we have fun on Thursdays, but I'm adding some exclusive content as well. Today, I want to transcribe the interview I did with the man pictured to the left, Mr. Brian Poe! Brian is the man who is in charge of Hockey Doctor, Inc., and his company has the exclusive NHL contract, along with other leagues, to provide the NHL with stick measurement gauges! Let's take a look at how Mr. Poe got into the stick measurement business!

TEEBZ: You sort of branched out on your own. You came up with this piece of equipment that the NHL absolutely needed in terms of getting their game going. It's a piece of equipment that basically I always found pretty fascinating because there's no real information as to where it started, where it came from, who got it started. Talk a little bit about the stick measurement tool and how your company started making them.

BRIAN POE: Yeah, I've always been a "niche product" kind of person. I see a gap in the market and I kind of want to fill that. I still kind of do that to this day to a small degree.

Just my own company, you said I work for them. Unfortunately, I'm a little bit of everything! I'm the marketing guy, the salesman, the manufacturer, distributor, designer, you name it. I've always had this thing for products that you can't, y'know, just get anywhere, and the stick gauge is one of them! I think somebody was looking for them - one of the equipment reps - and he had mentioned that "nobody makes them, I can't find them". I said, "Let me look into it." So I started into that. I just did regular retail sales. I had a few wholesale places that bought a few pieces at a time. It just kind of developed from there.

I don't even know who the real inventor is, but what I did was take - of course, the original type of "step", there are steps in the gauge that you put the blade in and measure - I kind of took that, redesigned it, I add some goalie measurements to it, something can be all-encompassing for that part of the market, and it turned out pretty well. I've been doing it for a long time, so that's kind of fun.

TEEBZ: It's kind of a cool way to sort of get in - not saying that you have to be a giant in the industry or anything like that - but you basically filled a niche that the NHL needed at that point because they had gone though, and in 2007, they changed the rule, going from a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch on their curvature, and needed something to change the old style which hadn't been changed since 1967-68 when the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams. I that was a pretty cool setup that you did there which, obviously, has gone pretty well for you.

BRIAN POE: Yeah, when they originally had looked for another manufacturer or whoever was making them, I guess they tripped on me. A few people told them about me, and they sent me an email to say, "Do you know that guy who makes them? We're looking for a few some new parts of the league."

I said, "Yeah, I know that guy. Boy, he's really good-looking too!"

Yeah, I was able to put something together with the NHL, and it had a trickle-down effect to the AHL, ECHL, the IHL at that time. And then even after that, I did Major Junior. I did Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec and the Western Leagues.

It was really fun. I'm not going to make a million dollars. I'm not curing cancer here with anything. But it's fun for me, and just to be able to work with the league at just the smallest level, it's one of the things I'm guess I'm proud of and happy I got to do. A lot of guys don't have that opportunity because you be an RBK or an Easton, y'know Bauer, to step in the league and to provide for these players.

Through all this, I was able to work with the on-ice officials, the off-ice officials. Even to this day, I just met with Edmonton's trainer, head equipment manager, a few weeks ago right around Thanksgiving, and he ordered a few more pieces, so I still get that opportunity to work with equipment managers and have that locker room access and just be part of the game, and that's great for me.

TEEBZ: Now when you got the call to put in the order for the NHL, do you remember who called you? Was it a big name, or just some guy from Hockey Ops?

BRIAN POE: Yeah, it was from Dave Baker, from the head of officiating from the Toronto office. I guess he works with Chris Kelly, maybe, and a few other guys. Yeah, he's the one who originally called and said, "We're looking to change this, but we need some parts pretty quickly."

I did a lot of hustling at that time. I had actually owned a pro shop at a three-pad hockey rink in Pittsburgh. In between trying to take of that, I worked at General Motors; an assembly plant, but it's a parts supplier - basically we stamped metal. So I was working second shift for that, the pro shop, trying to get all the stick gauges together for the league... it was a hectic time, but it was a lot of fun!

This is just a snippet of the 42-minute interview with Mr. Poe featured on HBIC Radio. We'll be playing the full fifty-minute interview on The Hockey Show on December 26, but the man behind the stick measurement gauge, Mr. Brian Poe, is a fantastic individual, a huge hockey fan, and a hockey innovator. That makes he pretty awesome in HBIC's books. And he's a Penguins fan. So that ratchets his score up another few notches.

Congratulations to Mr. Brian Poe on creating a vital piece of equipment found in every NHL arena and every NHL locker room across the continent!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 14 December 2013

Speaking Out

I understand the business side of hockey where players get traded. Sometimes, trades are made to better the team in acquiring a different type of player or to remove a player who simply isn't fitting into the overall success. However, there are times where a player is moved because management feels he's a disruption in the room or to the team's overall goal. Today, we may have seen the wheels put in motion in the Jets ridding themselves of Blake Wheeler thanks to his comments made after their loss to Dallas.

Blake Wheeler had himself a pretty good game against the Stars, picking up a pair of goals, but the overall effort of the Jets was sloppy and uninspired, dropping the game by a 6-4 count and dropping them to 14-15-5 in the standings including a 3-11-3 mark against the Central Division. Three straight home losses to division rivals St. Louis, Colorado, and Dallas had the big Jets winger seething as Wheeler let off some steam in the locker room.
“You can blow smoke as much as you want in the media. We've been blowing smoke for three years. Everyone. Myself, every that’s stood in front of a microphone the last three years. We said the same [expletive]. I mean, what do you want me to say?

“We were terrible in the first period. After a kind of a gut-wrenching loss to Colorado, normally our team has been better after we’ve had tough losses.”
I can understand the frustration after dropping three-straight games. I can understand the disappointment in not being able to, find a second goal in the St. Louis game, close out the Colorado game, or compete in the Dallas game. But for Blake Wheeler to call out the Jets for the last three years? That's a shot across the bow of the coaching staff and the management on how this team is run simply due to the fact that the only constants on the roster are about six guys. Maybe it was meant for this core group of players, but that ripple Wheeler made will be felt up the chain as much as it is in the dressing room.

There has been criticism in some circles in Winnipeg about how GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has yet to swing a trade mid-season without the trade deadline looming. Sure, he dealt away Johnny Oduya, but only after Oduya made it clear that he would not be re-signing in Winnipeg, instead seeking free agency. That trade was basically forcing Cheveldayoff's hand in getting something instead of being stuck with nothing. Aside from that deal, though, he has not made an in-season deal yet, acquiring all new players in the summer or via the waiver wire.

There is also rumbling in some corners of the city that head coach Claude Noel may have lost the room with respect to some players. We've seen his coaching style force Alexander Burmistrov to walk away from his contract in the NHL for the greener pastures of Russia and the KHL, and there is chatter that Evander Kane may be less than enthused with Noel. Rumors aside, there is no denying that the system the Jets employ isn't working after three seasons, and it may be time to look at changing the way the Jets play the game with some new ideas and new philosophies.

While he was less harsh in his criticism, captain Andrew Ladd also gave an honest assessment of the Jets' effort today.
“It's the same thing over and over for me. The first two goals are just terrible changes so that's just mental stuff that to me, quite frankly, is embarrassing.

“That five minute power play was one we needed to kill off. Up to that point we were still in the game. Even giving up those chances it was still 3-3. Then you end up going to the third down 5-3 and you're doing things out of the system, trying to make things happen which we shouldn't be doing but then the game gets away from you even more.”
When asked if something needs to change, Ladd wouldn't specify, but it sounds like he expects and wants changes. Ladd said, "I don’t know. It’s not my decision to make. But obviously something needs to change."

Asked if he would compare the three home losses, a clearly-agitated Ladd responded, "It's the same thing over and over again for me. I’m not in the mood to rank it."

When two of the "core players" are calling for changes, it might be time to listen. They're the guys in the dressing room, and they seem to be saying the same thing: guys on this Jets team simply aren't getting it. Whether it be the overall game plan, the coach's messages, the stuff they work on in practice, it wasn't clearly defined, but one thing that is certain is that two of the Jets' highest-paid players are not happy with this club.

It might be time for management to end the lip service of "holding the line" and "sticking with this group". Clearly, it ain't working. And we haven't even spoken about the Winnipeg fans, who have been treated to .500 hockey for three years since the club made its way to Winnipeg, who have a number of opinions about the club and how to fix the club!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 13 December 2013

Pretty Good-Looking Friday

It's rare when the hockey world produces a hat trick like we saw today. We've seen some great performances on occasion, and we've certainly been treated to a few sideshows, but today was a combination of good and great that hasn't been seen very often. Of course, I'm talking about uniforms, and we were lucky enough to see Pittsburgh use their heads followed by the impeccably-dressed Frozen Frontier game in the AHL!

Being a Penguins fan, there was a lot of anticipation on my end as to what the Penguins may be wearing for their game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The above image is the look the Penguins are going with, and there is a lot to like. There are a few drawbacks, but the Penguins appear to be interested in looking respectable when they take the ice outdoors.

The colors look great on these uniforms, and they really pop. I'm not fond of the chroming of the logo, but that appears to be minimal in its usage. I'm also not a huge fan of those half-stripes that don't make it around the arms. Stripes need to be full stripes. No exceptions.

While I would have preferred the original yellow of the Penguins to be used on this uniform, I don't think there is much to gripe about when it comes to these one-time uniforms. Overall, these are much better than what we've seen from the Islanders, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. Some may say I'm biased, but I would have no problem calling a spade "a spade" if these uniforms were hideous. These are not.

Here are the uniforms worn by the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters who were the visitors in tonight's Frozen Frontier outdoor game in Rochester, New York. I won't lie: I love these jerseys. The colors are fantastic in this combination, and I like the way the uniform is laid out. While some may say that the front numbers are cartoonishly big, I really dig them. While I do feel that the white circular backdrop on the captaincy designation is a little big, this uniform works for me. I'll take two actually. Well done, Cleveland Barons Lake Erie Monsters!

The uniforms worn by the Rochester Americans actually felt like more of a throwback, but they were done very well in keeping things simple. The front of the uniforms are very clean and crisp in their colors, and the stars added on the shoulders break up the uniform just enough. The back of the uniforms are a little tough to read in terms of the numbers, but the color scheme works well. There are also no names as the Americans hold true to the time period of these throwback uniforms. Very nice, Rochester!

Friday had all sorts of great looks at new uniforms, and there was little about which one could be disappointed. All three teams look respectable in their outdoor game uniforms. The best part? If you are a Rochester fan, you saw your team fall behind 3-1 before rallying to send the game to the shootout at the Frozen Frontier at 4-4. In the shootout, the Monsters took a 2-0 lead only to surrender three straight goals to lose the shootout 3-2 and the game 5-4 to the Americans!

Good uniforms, great outdoor game, and an overall excellent hockey day!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 12 December 2013

The Hockey Show - Episode Sixty-Six

You may have noticed the Christmas lights above. Well, there's a good reason for those as The Hockey Show hits the airwaves tonight with a special show as we clean out the prize closet for the second annual SECRET SANTA show! Tonight, we offer up everything in the prize closet to you, our listeners, as a "thank you" for listening to our program. The only catch? Like other Secret Santa events, you just don't know what's inside the box you're choosing!

We have all sorts of stuff to give away, and we'll be packaging it up in nice little gift opportunities. There are ballcaps, t-shirts, DVDs, Jets gear, Bisons gear, and a pile of other stuff that can add to your Christmas cheer or provide you with a gift for someone else! In other words, we're going to have fun, and you're invited to participate in the fun by giving us a call! We'll have some hockey chatter between calls, but it's all about saying thanks to our listeners tonight, so give us a call and get yourself something from The Hockey Show for Christmas!

To get in on the action tonight, give us a call at (204) 269-UMFM (8636), and we'll get you on the air. Columbus will be (wo)manning the phones as well, so we'll see how this three-man procedure works out as we try to bring a little Christmas fun to everyone!

The main thing about this, though? Thanks for listening. Honestly, we really appreciate you listening live, listening to the podcasts, or tuning into the replays on HBIC Radio. This is our way of giving back, so give us a call and we can chat some hockey while giving you a gift of hockey gear!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!