Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Happy Spengler Cup Day!

It started in the wee hours of the morning in Canada despite the game being played at noon in Davos, Switzerland, but Team Canada brought its perfect record to the Spengler Cup Final where they met HC Ocelari Trinec, a team they had played in their opening game of the tournament back on December 26. With Canada having beaten Trinec on that day, would the Czech Extraliga champions have their revenge or could Canada keep rolling en route to a gold medal?

Canada reached the final by playing stellar defence and having exceptional goaltending from the tandem of Zach Fucale and Matt Tomkins while their offence found clutch goals and used solid possession numbers to keep the puck out of their zone. Entering the final, Canada had outscored its opponents in three games by a combined 15-2 score which included the 4-1 victory over Trinec. Kevin Clark had taken the tournament by storm by scoring six goals in those three games while Kris Versteeg, Dustin Jeffrey, Adam Tambellini helped carry the offensive load. This balanced Canada team looked poised to capture its 16th Spengler Cup in tournament history if they could find a way past Trinec.

The first period saw the momentum swap between the teams as Trinec matched speed and tenacity with the Canadians. While opportunities were seen at both ends, Fucale was sharp in the Canadian net while Jakub Stepánek seemed very comfortable in the Trinec net. Despite having a 12-7 edge in shots in the first period, Canada would go into the first intermission without a goal for the first time in this tournament as the two teams remained tied at 0-0.

A Kevin Clark interview during the intermission saw Clark talk about sticking to the game plan for this game, and that's precisely what Canada did as they continued to use their speed to cause headaches for Trinec. Just as they had done in their group-stage game, Canada's speed forced Trinec into taking a number of penalties in the second period, and this would be where Canada took control of this game.

Dustin Jeffrey notched a power-play goal off a backdoor feed 9:02 into the period to put Canada up 1-0. 2:38 later, University of Denver defender Ian Mitchell fired a high wrist shot through traffic that found the top-right corner of the net past Stepánek for a second power-play goal - this time on a 5-on-3 - and the 2-0 lead for Canada. 1:29 after that goal, Kris Versteeg picked up a puck that Maxim Noreau fanned on and went shelf on Stepánek from the left post on a two-man advantage to give Canada a 3-0 lead as they scored three power-play goals in 4:09 to seize control of this game. Trinec, who looked like a different team than what was seen in the group-stage game, looked deflated as the period came to a close as Canada went to the room with the 3-0 lead and a 27-12 advantage in shots.

Canada, simply needing to hold the line when it came to their strong defence throughout the tournament, let up when it came to pressing for goals and set up a defensive shell in their zone. Trinec sent players into the Canadian zone, but they came away with nothing early on. Dustin Jeffrey, just before the five-minute mark, broke down the ice and split the defence to take a gorgeous stretch pass from Maxim Noreau for a breakaway. While the first shot aimed for the five-hole was stopped by Stepánek, Jeffrey gathered his own rebound and went high on the stick side to give Canada a 4-0 lead at 4:55, and pretty much sealed the deal for the Canadians unless there was going to be an epic collapse.

There was no collapse on this day, though, as Zach Fucale recorded his second-straight shutout with a 26-save, gold medal-winning performance in the Canadian net in backing Canada to the 4-0 victory and their 16th Spengler Cup championship! Canada, in surrendering just two goals all tournament, set an all-time mark for fewest goals allowed in a single tournament this year. Kevin Clark, Maxim Noreau, and Fucale were named as tournament all-stars as Fucale ended the tournament with a 3-0-0 record, a 0.33 GAA, and a .986 save percentage that was reflected in his 151:29 shutout streak that will now carry into next year's tournament! For the record, Fucale is 10-0-1 at this tournament over his career!

In his post-championship comments, Fucale was quick to credit the guys in front of him.

"This team was unreal," he said. "We had an awesome group of defencemen and everyone made me look good. I really did not have to do anything special because our team played great, so it was a lot of fun. I just tried to stay focused and a few times throughout the tournament I got pretty lucky, but it was such a great experience with a great team."

That now makes Canada the Spengler Cup champion in four of the last five years with last year's shootout loss being the one blemish. Five-straight finals appearances will look to become six next year when the 2020 version of the Spengler Cup - the 94th Spengler Cup tournament - kicks off on Boxing Day once again!

Congratulations to Team Canada, your 2019 Spengler Cup Champions! What a heckuva way to close out the year!

Until next year, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 30 December 2019

A More Subdued Tortorella

I have often been told that before going off and accusing the world of all the wrongs that one feels one has been dealt, I should sleep on it and see if one feels as angry or slighted as the day before. It seems clearer heads came to work on Monday morning following John Tortorella's rant against the officials and the NHL last night after the Columbus Blue Jackets lost their Sunday night game against the Chicago Blackhawks and had starting netminder Joonas Korpisalo go down with a knee injury. While none of that sounds good, the language used by Tortorella was worse, and it seems that he has realized that there are still rules he has to follow after last night's frustrating loss.

According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, John Tortorella started his post-practice comments to the press with this.

While everyone may nod and agree that this was the best thing for Tortorella to do, there's still a question of what happened in Columbus last night. Colin Campbell said in a statement that the decision not to add time to the clock was a judgment call by the referee as he had checked with the clock operator before denying the Blue Jackets' request to put the 1.1 seconds back on the clock. Campbell also stated that the NHL Situation Room didn't see the need to get involved after the referee's ruling on the ice.

I'm not going to beat a dead horse here because the NHL will never admit that it got things wrong, but Campbell's statement today is entirely the opposite of what he stated back in 2012 to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times.

I guess this is par for the course for Campbell and the NHL when it comes to explanations. Had he simply stated that NHL operations and/or the NHL Situation Room agreed with the referee's decision on the clock, it would lend much more credibility to the official's decision and this would be laid to rest. Instead, his line of not needing to get involved leaves the water murky when it comes to judgment calls, and calls into question whether or not the NHL is actually watching the final minute of periods as Campbell said they would be in 2012 to ensure clock issues, among other things, don't play a factor in the outcomes of games.

While it's still likely that John Tortorella gets a fine for his outburst last night, the NHL should be embarrassed with how this whole situation unfolded. Choose your words wisely in the future, Colin Campbell, because you're doing no favours for the NHL with your statement today.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Torts Blows A Gasket

It had to happen sometime. I mean, we all knew it was going to happen at some point. The only question was when it would happen. Tonight, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella likely earned himself a fine with his comments in the post-game press conference towards the officials and the league, but everything that he said happened did happen. With Tortorella making a point so eloquently as he did in the post-game press conference, the Columbus Blue Jackets seemingly got screwed again by the NHL after they made it clear that something clock-related would never happen again.

You might be asking to what am I referring , so let me take you back to Wednesday, February 1, 2012 for a game between the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets and the host Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. With the game tied at 2-2 and late in the third period, the clock at Staples Center stopped mid-play for one full second at the 1.8-second mark that night, allowing the Los Angeles Kings to find the time to score the game-winning goal. The Columbus Blue Jackets lost the game, and the explosion of outrage began. Honestly, the Blue Jackets got screwed that night.

In the aftermath, Colin Campbell sent an email to The Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott that read as follows:
"We have initiated a number of steps to ensure there will be no clock issues in all arenas in the NHL," Campbell said in an email.

"We are observing all 'last minutes' of each period to make sure there are no 'blips' or 'pauses' in the last minute in the video booths upstairs. In our new video room in Toronto we now receive live feeds of the overheads so we are not 'slaved' to TV waiting to see if they show the overheads.

"We will find a way to bleed the clock feed into the overheads now. We have implemented a few other items into the clock process as well to make sure there can be no burps."
It seems that, based on his email to Helene Elliott, Colin Campbell made it pretty clear that if there is any funny business surrounding the clock, Toronto would be all over it thanks to the new policies and rules of observation.

Well, it seems that someone was asleep in front of the TV tonight because the Chicago Blackhawks were whistled for a too-many-men penalty in overtime at the 19.2-second mark, but the clock was allowed to run down to 18.1 seconds. After protesting, both the on-ice officials and the Situation Room in Toronto saw no reason to change the clock, and play resumed. And then this happened.
If you were watching the clock, Zach Werenski scored on a flailing Robin Lehner, but the time had expired! Has there been an extra 1.1 seconds on the clock, we could be talking about a Columbus victory here. Instead, the game went to a shootout where not only did the Blackhawks prevail to take the two points, but Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo was injured as well!

If you're expecting fireworks from John Tortorella, you're in luck. You can thank Sportsnet for censoring the not-so-friendly language.

Yikes.

As stated above, the NHL will likely hand down a fine for John Tortorella to pay, but it's pretty clear the problem lies with the Situation Room where Colin Campbell made it clear, back in 2012, that this sort of chronological blunder would be corrected by the people manning the chairs in that room. And it's not like this was brought to Tortorella's attention after the game had ended as he raised the issue on the ice along with his captain, and he was categorically denied a correction on the clock by both the on-ice officials and the Situation Room in Toronto. Moments later, it comes back to bite the NHL in the rear end and the league ends up with egg all over its proverbial face once again over another clock mishap.

In their history to this point, the Columbus Blue Jackets have lost three points and one goaltender to two seconds for which the NHL is ultimately responsible. These kinds of egregious errors should mean that someone in the NHL's Situation Room and/or at the NHL head office should lose his or her job. When points matter for every team when it comes to making the playoffs and earning millions of dollars in revenue, this should never happen to any team.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

The Epic Showdown

This is a scene from the Canada-USA battle last season at the U18 Women's World Championship in Japan. It serves as a reminder of tomorrow's battle for the top spot in Group A as Canada and the US will rumble once again for the top seed in the group. Last year, the US downed Canada 3-2 in group play to claim the top seed before Canada exacted revenge in the gold medal game with a 2-1 victory in overtime. Let it be noted here that winning the group is simply the first step in winning a gold medal.

Canada has played well at the U18 Women's World Championship thus far with Canada boasting balanced scoring, solid netminding, and a penchant for clutch goals. Whether or not they can match the American firepower will be seen, but taking a day off today - the tournament gives all teams today off - will be good for the ladies as they look to defend their gold medal.

Like the Canadians, there is balanced scoring up and down the lineup for the Americans, and this may pose a problem for the Canadians if the Americans can generate offensive zone time through possession. There isn't an American goal scorer with two netted in the tournament yet, but they have generated a ton of shots in their first two games against Finland (51 SOG) and Russia (25 SOG). Despite just scoring five goals in those games, the Americans are doing what every good team does by putting a lot of pucks on net and hunting for rebounds.

At the other end, Skylar Vetter is looking every bit as good in between the pipes as her namesake in Olympian Jessie Vetter despite there being no relation between the two. The 16 year-old made impressions last season at the tournament, and has returned with a purpose in trying to win a gold medal this year. Finland's Kiira Yrjanen beat Vetter at 11:38 of the first period on the power-play in the Finland-US game - the only puck to get past her thus far. Canada needs to be ready to strike if they get the opportunity tomorrow.

While both teams will earn a bye through the quarterfinal games due to their records, this game will determine who will likely face the daunting Russians who have given both teams runs for their money. Canada needed overtime to get past the Russians by a 3-2 score, and the Americans scored just once in their 1-0 victory over the Russians where the Russians showed all sorts of moxie in giving everything that the Americans could handle.

Tomorrow's game between the two hockey superpowers is another early one as the game will be played at 5:30pm CT, so here's hoping that the Canadians can get their necessary rest to be ready for the Americans. It should be another great game between these two rivals, so make sure you check the score on the Hockey Canada website or on Twitter!

Go Canada Go - that's all that needs to be said!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 27 December 2019

Szabados' Best Boxing Day

I was glancing at Twitter casually over the last week with us being in the midst of the holiday season, and goaltender Shannon Szabados had posted the picture to the left while talking about her favorite ugly Christmas sweater. It got me thinking about her history, and yesterday is perhaps one of the biggest days in her and in hockey's history as December 26 marks the anniversary of Shannon's first shutout in professional men's hockey, making her the first woman to record such a feat! Who was the opponent? What team is she playing for? What were the details? Let's take a look at why this day is significant in hockey history!

Back in 2015, Shannon Szabados was a member of the SPHL's Columbus Cottonmouths. Having lost in the opening round of the 2014-15 SPHL Playoffs, there was hope on the horizon that the Cottonmouths could take the next step and return to the glory that they had celebrated back in the 2011-12 season when they won the President's Cup. The league, in 2015-16, also opted to expand to Macon, Georgia to include the new Macon Mayhem franchise, making them the ninth SPHL team in the league.

Off the top, things were going to be different in Columbus, Georgia when the team's top two scorers in Matt Gingera and Bryce Williamson both opted to leave the team. Andrew Loewen, Szabados' goaltending partner for the last year, also stepped back from the game as he retired from the sport. The defensive unit also saw departures, so there was seemingly a rebuild happening in Columbus. This, of course, left a couple of gaping holes in the Columbus lineup that GM and head coach Jerome Bechard had to fill.

He did fill those spots, albeit this was going to be a much different team after Bechard brought in ten players without any SPHL experience with nine players being professional rookies. Joining Szabados in the crease for the 2015-16 season was one of those green players in Brandon Jaeger, a netminder straight out of the collegiate ranks where he played with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Jaeger's numbers were good there - never posting a GAA above 2.69 nor a save percentage below .881 - but the step to professional hockey is a big one. Jaeger would have to be better than he had been in college to keep those kinds of numbers in Columbus, and spectacular if he hoped to replace Loewen's 2.36 GAA and .925 save percentage at the pro level. Bechard believed in the incoming kid and trusted his remaining netminder in Szabados, so it seemed that everything in the blue paint was set.

Bechard told The Canadian Press, "She's proven herself. She's only the proven commodity I have right now. She's going to get the same amount of ice time, if not more."

The Cottonmouths opened the season with seven-straight losses, going 0-4-3 in those games as the team worked to find chemistry and figure out each other's playing styles and tendencies. After beating Macon 3-2 in shootout in their eighth game, the team won four of its next six games to give themselves some life at 5-6-3. A 1-3-1 run would carry the team into the December 20 week at 6-9-4 before a 4-1 win on December 23 would send the Cottonmouths into the two-day Christmas break at 7-9-4. While not at the top of the standings, the Cottonmouths seemed to be poised for better times post-holiday break after shaking off the seven losses to start the season with a 7-5-1 run.

That leads us to the next game they would play on December 26 where Shannon Szabados was named the starter in a road game in Huntsville, Alabama against the Huntsville Havoc. Huntsville, to that point, has assembled a roster that was finding wins over good teams as they went into the Christmas break at 13-7-0, but having lost their final game before the break to Peoria by a 3-0 score, snapping a four-game win streak. It should be noted that goaltender Kevin Genoe handled the majority of the workload for the Havoc in the first half of the season, and he would be who got the nod for the Havoc in the December 26 game to square off against Szabados.

6256 fans made their way down to PharmacyFirst Ice, the home of the Huntsville Havoc, to catch the post-Christmas game between the hometown Havoc and the visiting Cottonmouths. I don't think it matters in the scope of this article, but I'll make a note here that James White was the referee for this game and he was joined by linesmen Brian McAvoy and Trevor Atkinson on the lines as they were part of this historical day.

The opening period saw both sides test the other's goaltender as the Havoc outshot the Cottonmouths 10-6. There were no goals scored in the opening frame as both Szabados and Genoe denied all chances. Perhaps the only highlight that the fans cheered about was the fight between Columbus' Al Graves and Huntsville's Jeremy Beirnes with five minutes left in the period, but the teams would head to the intermission still locked at 0-0.

The second period opened with the same feel as the first period as the two teams looked for chances, but it would Columbus would found the first opportunity. After some sustained offensive-zone pressure, Ben O'Quinn sniped a shot past Genoe at 2:19 of the second period to put Columbus up 1-0 on their ninth shot of the game with helpers going to Andy Willigar and Kyle Brodie. That goal seemed to light a fire under the Havoc as they applied some serious pressure through the remaining 17 minutes that included a five-minute stretch to close out the period where they outshot Columbus 7-0. As you're likely aware, none of those shots would get by Szabados as Columbus went to the second intermission up 1-0 despite trailing in shots by a 27-15 margin.

The third period saw the Cottonmouths up the pressue on the Havoc, recording the first eight shots of the period. Three of those shots came from Chris Rial in the opening 2:30 of the frame, but it would be a pass that got Rial on the scoresheet when he found Louis Belisle open, and Belisle fired the puck past Genoe at 4:36 to put the Cottonmouths up 2-0!

Huntsville would use a shortened power-play to record their first shots of the period, but it would be Columbus would make their next shot count after that power-play as Chris Rial's fourth shot of the period found the back of the net at 9:39 to put Columbus up 3-0 off assists by Andy Bathgate and Belisle! Huntsville would see their chances at trying to find anything to build on decimated by back-to-back charging penalties assessed to Will Aide that also earned him an early trip to the showers with a ten-minute misconduct for his second charging indiscretion. With just four shots in the final ten minutes of the game, Huntsville could not solve Szabados on this day as the Columbus Cottonmouths skated to the 3-0 victory over the Huntsville Havoc!

With this being Szabados' first shutout of her career in men's professional hockey and the first by a woman in men's professional hockey, it goes without saying that Shannon Szabados was named the game's first star. What might be missing are the numbers: 33 saves on 33 shots, holding a Huntsville team that averaged three goals-per-game in their first 20 games to zero as they were shutout for the first time in 2015-16, holding the Huntsville power-play to oh-for-three on the night, ten first-period saves, 17 second period saves, and six third-period saves. Not a bad Boxing Day at all for the Edmonton-born netminder!

What didn't help Columbus is that the team went on an eight-game losing streak from January 22 until February 7, and dropping nine of eleven games to close out the season after winning two games to snap that eight-game losing streak. If you're doing the math, that's four wins in their final 21 games of the season. In a 56-game SPHL season, losing 17 games in 21 opportunities, combined with a seven-game losing streak to start the season, are vital ingredients in a recipe where one misses the playoffs, and the Cottonmouths did indeed miss the playoffs in 2015-16 after finishing the season 19-29-8. In fact, they were the only team to miss the playoffs as the other eight teams all qualified for the newly-constructed SPHL playoff format.

There weren't a lot of highlights in the 2015-16 season for the Columbus Cottonmouths, but December 26, 2015 stood out as perhaps the best and brightest day of the season that year as Shannon Szabados added another page to the history she's writing as a part of this game. The boxscore is linked here for those who like historical boxscores, but Boxing Day will always be special for Shannon Szabados as she did something no one else had ever done on that day.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 379

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back on the air on Boxing Day in what I've been calling the most wonderful time of year! Three of Canada's teams are in action starting today in Davos, Switzerland, in Bratislava, Slovakia, and in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic! There will be a lot to go over with all three of Canada's opening games in each tournament completed by the 5:30pm showtime, so it will be a Hockey Canada-centric show tonight!

There's hope that these fans had a lot to cheer about today as Canada looked to win at the U18 Women's World Championship, the Spengler Cup, and at the World Junior Championship. The Canadian women played Russia this morning at 5:30am CT in Bratislava. The Canadian professional men took to the ice in Davos at 1:15pm CT against HC Ocelari Trinec. The Canadian junior men stared down the Americans at 12:00pm - high noon - on the ice in Ostrava. I'll discuss all three games tonight while opening the phone lines to get your thoughts on the games that were played! It should be a busy show as we go over all the action at these three tournaments on The Hockey Show tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM and UMFM.com!

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

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

Tonight, Teebz goes over all the results from Day One at each of the U18 Women's World Championship, the Spengler Cup, and the World Junior Championship with a heavy emphasis on the Canadian results, who impressed on the first day, who didn't show up, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: December 26, 2019: Episode 379

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

An Official Family Day

Fire crackling. Light snow falling. A fat cat in a warm chair. That's what I crave the most at this time of year. Some call it a simple life, but it feels like home to me. I know that Meg, my cat, would indeed be in the chair and unwilling to share that chair, but that's who she is and I expect nothing less from her. She's family, after all.

There's a massive brunch being prepared at my parents' house that I'm attending as you read this, so expect me to be stuffing myself with bacon, eggs, and peach pancakes this morning as I sit and enjoy with those who make my world a better place. If Santa Claus visited your house, here's hoping you got everything you asked and/or hoped for this Christmas. If you aren't celebrating Christmas, I hope this morning finds you healthy and happy and in the company of your most loved and cherished people. It's a season for bringing people together, so brighten someone's day today if you can in any way you can.

Merry Christmas, folks. Happy Holidays as well. To each of you, I wish you all the best on this day.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

The Eve

Tonight's the big night! For those celebrating Christmas, tonight is the night where dreams come true, wishes are fulfilled, and smiles are made as the big guy in the red suit makes his visit to houses across the land. It's a night for spending time with family and friends, sharing laughs and holiday cheer, and embracing our neighbours as we welcome him or her to share in our joy of the season.

I'm hanging up the skates and putting away the stick for the night as I settle in for evening. I plan on enjoying the next few days among family as we celebrate the holiday with good food, lots of chatter and laughter, and the exchange of gifts to show appreciation for one another. I do want to mention that the exchange of said gifts isn't about what you get, but it's more important to recognize that someone loves and appreciates you. There are many people out there tonight and in this season who don't have that aspect of the holidays, so be more grateful for the great people around you than the material possessions you may receive.

For those celebrating, Merry Christmas. For those who are not, Happy Holidays. I am grateful for your readership, and I wish you and yours nothing but the absolute best this time of year. There will be a placeholder post tomorrow followed by the regular preview for a special Boxing Day edition of The Hockey Show on Thursday before HBIC resumes its normal operations on Friday.

Until then, folks, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Think Before Speaking

It was announced today that NBC Sports has indefinitely suspended former NHL star and current NHL analyst Jeremy Roenick without pay from their broadcasts in response to comments made about an NBC colleague that Roenick stated on a popular podcast on Thursday. Roenick's comments are fairly offensive when it comes to what he said about Kathryn Tappen, and had this been any regular workplace where these comments were uttered it's likely that Roenick's employment would have ended. However, it seems that NBC has opted to keep him away from the studio while they likely try to carefully choose what steps to take next.

I want to be clear when I say that what Roenick said on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast is simply awful. While the stories that Roenick told on the podcast with Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney might have been "locker-room talk" at one point, they are certainly not acceptable in today's society, they are unquestionably wrong when speaking about a co-worker, and they are deserving of a reprimand based on what Roenick stated. In fact, the reprimand likely should be termination of employment.

While I won't repeat on this blog what Roenick said, you can read the information here as provided by CNN. What I will say is what always shocks me is that those who seem to "get caught" making these types of comments always seem to be wearing a microphone or standing in front of a camera. In today's media-saturated world, everyone who has a cell phone has a camera and microphone in one's pocket, and it's how television shows like TMZ and Tosh.0 found mainstream popularity as anyone can go viral now.

The thing that makes Roenick's actions worse is that he volunteered the story on the podcast while knowing it was being recorded, and it's fairly clear that the story is humiliating to Kathryn Tappen. While Roenick tried to walk back his comments about how she's a friend and how she's "one of the most professional sports personalities" he knows, it was clear from Tappen's comments following Roenick's appearance that she was less than amused with his storytelling.

"While Jeremy and I continue to be good friends, what he said was unacceptable, especially among workplace colleagues. I do not condone his comments," she said in a statement.

What does it take for a guy like Jeremy Roenick to fire up the gray matter before putting his mouth in motion? I do radio for fun, but we're constantly ensuring that we don't say something as dumb as what Roenick said because we know it's unacceptable. Roenick is talking about a woman who he states he respects in the most disrespectful way possible, and it never once crossed his mind that this might lead to problems? Clearly, he knows that he's under the microscope when, later in the podcast, he told the guys that he tries to be careful of what he says "because of my boss... and because of NBC."

I don't know Jeremy Roenick returns to his job working alongside Kathryn Tappen after objectifying her in the way he did. And while NBC has done the right thing in keeping Roenick away from the NBC Sports studios, it might be time to send a clear message to the rest of the on-air and off-air employees that this sort of garbage won't be tolerated. It might be time to fire Jeremy Roenick.

Actions have consequences. Losing one's high-paying studio analyst job is one of the consequences, and the one that would certainly instill a lesson in everyone else that this sort of behavior is no longer tolerated at any level.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Don't Forget The Women!

Yesterday, I wrote about the "other" men's tournament happening over the holiday season, but there's a third Canadian squad looking for gold over the next two weeks as the Canadian U18 Women's World Championship squad will be headed to Slovakia to defend their gold medal from last year! The Canadian women went to Japan last year in early January looking to capture a gold medal, and they came home with the medal they sought after Maddi Wheeler sniped an overtime goal against the United States to give Canada the 3-2 victory! Wheeler is back on the roster this year as Canada looks to head into Bratislava for another gold medal against the world's best, so let's take a look at the roster and the schedule for this tournament!

Make no mistake that these young women are the best-of-the-best when it comes to Canadian women's hockey under the age of 18. These women will all move to play hockey at the NCAA or U SPORTS level at some point, so it's probably a good idea to get to know them now before their big breaks in the future. From schools like Mercyhurst to Wisconsin to Minnesota to Syracuse, these women are the future of Team Canada at the international level and potentially the next wave of stars at the professional level. Some of them already have a gold medal from last season, and those that don't want to etch their own names into history with a gold medal celebration this season.

Here are the forwards who will defend Canada's gold medal from last season. Number and future school commitment are listed as well. Returning players are asterisked.
  • #6 Grace Nelles - Mercyhurst
  • #7 Maya Labad - Quinnipiac
  • #8 Maddi Wheeler - Wisconsin*
  • #10 Jenna Buglioni - Ohio State
  • #11 Anne Cherkowski - Minnesota*
  • #12 Ann-Frédérik Naud - Boston University
  • #13 Lindsay Bochna - Providence
  • #14 Émilie Lussier - No Commitment
  • #16 Marianne Picard - Wisconsin
  • #17 Sarah Paul - Princeton
  • #20 Sarah Thompson - Syracuse
  • #21 Sarah Wozniewicz - No Commitment
  • #24 Aly McLeod - St. Lawrence
Here are the defenders who will look to keep the gold medal in Canada's hands. Number and future school commitment are listed as well. Returning players are asterisked.
  • #2 Charli Kettyle - New Hampshire
  • #3 Annie King - Dartmouth
  • #4 Kendall Cooper - Quinnipiac*
  • #23 Ashley Messier - Cornell
  • #25 Tamara Giaquinto - Boston University
  • #26 Nicole Gosling - Clarkson*
  • #27 Brianna Legros - New Hampshire
Here are the goaltenders who will guard Canada's nets in their championship defence. Number and future school commitment are listed as well.
  • #1 Ève Gascon - No Commitment
  • #29 Jessie McPherson - Vermont
  • #30 Kayle Osborne - Colgate
As you can see, it's fairly slim-pickings for schools that are perhaps looking to bulk up their recruiting class with some international-calibre players. Only three of Canada's players have not yet committed to a school with Émilie Lussier being the eldest of the three players. I would guess that if Canada has another solid run in this year's U18 Women's World Championship, there will be offers awaiting these players when they return home!

University of Alberta Pandas head coach Howie Draper will be behind the bench for Canada for the second-straight year as he looks to add more hardware to his already-overflowing trophy case back home. He'll be joined by Clarkson's Britni Smith and Boston University's Tara Watchorn as assistant coaches. Smith has a ton of playing and coaching experience at the collegiate, professional, and international levels after starring with St. Lawrence University, the Toronto Furies, and Team Canada before honing her coaching skills at the University of Toronto and Clarkson University. Tara Watchorn also has a ton of experience at the three levels, playing with Boston University during her collegiate days before joining the CWHL's Boston Blades where she won a Clarkson Cup. Watchorn also patrolled the blue line for Team Canada at a number of World Championships and Olympic Games, and began her coaching career at Boston University after retiring from playing.

Canadian goalie Raygan Kirk was named the tournament MVP last year after taking over in Game Two of the tournament and never letting up. She backstopped Canada through to the gold medal, playing four of five games while recording a 2.24 GAA and an .878 save percentage, but it was the medal round where Kirk shone brightest as she helped Canada best Russia 4-3 in overtime before pulling off another overtime gem in the 3-2 win over the Americans. Canada will be looking for more clutch goaltending this year from the combination of Osborne and McPherson as they look to continue the gold streak.

The tournament opens on Boxing Day for the Canadians as they'll open the tournament against Russia at 6:30am ET/5:30am CT. They'll play Finland on December 27 at at 6:30am ET/5:30am CT on December 27, enjoy a day off on Saturday, and close out the round-robin portion of the tournament on Sunday, December 29 against the Americans at - you guessed it! - 6:30am ET/5:30am CT. The quarterfinals take place on December 30, the semifinals happen on January 1, and the tournament's gold medal and bronze medal games happen on January 2 with the gold medal game being played at 2:30pm ET/1:30pm CT!

I'm rooting for the ladies to come back with another gold medal, and I think they have the team to do it based on what I know about a number of these ladies. It's always exciting to see how anxious these women are to represent their country, and I know they're going to make us proud once again! Good luck in Bratislava, Team Canada!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Other Christmas Tournament

I know that the three-lettered television network will devote about 98% of its airtime on Boxing Day to the two pools of 2020 World Junior Championship action, but that other 2% might intrigue you to find a feed on one of the TSN channels. The other annual tournament that runs over the Christmas break is the Spengler Cup that is played in Davos, Switzerland at their fantastic old barn. You may be asking why this tournament should attract more than 2% of your attention span, and I'm here to tell you that Team Canada has a veteran squad with a pile of names you've likely heard a time or two thanks a number of players making the jump overseas to continue their careers.

Team Canada and HC Davos have been the most successful teams at this tournament since it began in 1923. HC Davos has won the Spengler Cup 15 times in 96 years of play while Canada, who started participating in 1984, has also won 15 times. LTC Prague, which hasn't existed since 1949, is the next most successful team with seven Spengler Cup championships between 1929 and 1948. Despite their occasional involvements in the tournaments over the years, the AHL, surprisingly, has never had a winner or runner-up at any tournament.

Team Canada enters the 2019 Spengler Cup with a hunger for being back atop the podium after their runner-up finish one year ago in a 2-1 shootout loss to KalPa of the SM-Liiga. Along with the hosts in HC Davos, Team Canada is joined by HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech Extraliga in their division. In the other division, Switzerland's HC Ambri-Piotta, KHL's Salavat Yulaev Ufa, and Finland's TPS Turku round out the six-team tournament as one team looks to best the other five in this week-long battle.

I mentioned that Canada had a veteran squad based on names you likely have heard from their days in the NHL, so here are the guys who will wear the Team Canada who logged at least 100 games in NHL rinks: Kris Versteeg, Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Fehr, Scottie Upshall, Cory Emmerton, Daniel Winnik, David Desharnais, Josh Jooris, Paul Postma, Patric Wiercioch, and Andrew MacDonald. You can make some decent lines with solid scoring out of these veterans, but there are still a handful of guys who I haven't mentioned that you should keep an eye on in Adam Tambellini (31 pts in 19 games with MODO), Justin Danforth (83 pts in 90 games with Lukko Rauma), Kevin Clark (45 points in 48 games with Rapperswil-Jona), Ben Maxwell (16 pts in 28 games with Langnau), Chris DiDomenico (72 pts in 42 games with Langnau), Ian Mitchell (69 pts in 98 games at the University of Denver), Alex Grant (52 pts in 94 games with Jokerit Helsinki), and Maxim Noreau (47 pts in 73 games with Zurich SC). DiDomenico and Noreau are perennial Team Canada Spengler Cup members, and it seems that the additions made with some of these lesser-known guys in North America put Team Canada as one of the favorites if scoring was the only factor determining wins and losses.

Goaltending might be the weakest link for Canada as the three netminders who were selected have a total of zero NHL games between them. That being said, Zach Fucale is back after a couple of solid Spengler Cup showings in the last few tournaments, so Canada does have a returning body in the crease who has seen the action of the Spengler Cup level. Joining him in what appears to be the back-up role is Rockford IceHogs goalie Matt Tomkins as the former Ohio State University Buckeye gets his first shot at the international level after playing 14 AHL games in the last two seasons. In six games this season with Rockford, Tomkins is 4-2-0 with a 2.66 GAA and a .912 save percentage - the best numbers of his young professional career by far.

The third man in the crease who will likely be relegated to the press box unless there's an injury is University of Alberta Golden Bears goaltender Brendan Burke. What makes Burke's selection a little confusing is that Burke's place of birth is listed as Scottsdale, Arizona, and he has worked with Hockey USA in their National Junior Evaluation Camps. Burke, however, played in the WHL, is enrolled at a Canadian University, and has a Canadian dad who played in the NHL named Sean Burke who, coincidentally, is the general manager for the Team Canada Spengler Cup entry! Nepotism aside, Burke follows in the footsteps of the University of Saskatchewan's Jordon Cooke in 2016 as being the lone U SPORTS player invited to Davos, and that invitation is leveraged by the fact that Burke, like Cooke at the time, may be the best goalie in the Canadian university circuit. With Alberta this season, Burke is 8-0-0 with a 1.95 GAA, a .906 save percentage, and two shutouts in helping Alberta to a 14-2-0 record and a #2-ranking in the U SPORTS Top Ten. Needless to say, Brendan is looking a lot like his dad in how good he protects the net.

Here are the Canadian forwards for the 2019 Spengler Cup with numbers and current team.
  • #9 Adam Tambellini - MODO (Sweden)
  • #10 Kris Versteeg - HK Nitra (Slovakia)
  • #15 Dustin Jeffrey - Lausanne HC (Switzerland)
  • #16 Eric Fehr - Genève-Servette HC (Switzerland)
  • #17 Justin Danforth - Lukko Rauma (Finland)
  • #19 Scottie Upshall - HC Ambri-Piotta (Switzerland)
  • #25 Cory Emmerton - Lausanne HC (Switzerland)
  • #26 Daniel Winnik - Genève-Servette HC (Switzerland)
  • #32 Kevin Clark - SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers (Switzerland)
  • #49 Ben Maxwell - SCL Tigers (Switzerland)
  • #51 David Desharnais - HC Fribourg-Gottéron (Switzerland)
  • #86 Josh Jooris - Lausanne HC (Switzerland)
  • #89 Chris DiDomenico - SLC Tigers (Switzerland)
Here are the Canadian defencemen for the 2019 Spengler Cup with numbers and current team.
  • #4 Paul Postma - HC Lugano (Switzerland)
  • #5 Ian Mitchell - University of Denver (NCAA)
  • #20 Alex Grant - Jokerit Helsinki (KHL)
  • #28 Patrick Wiercioch - HC Bolzano (Italy)
  • #47 Andrew MacDonald - SC Bern (Switzerland)
  • #56 Maxim Noreau - ZSC Lions (Switzerland)
Here are the Canadian goalies for the 2019 Spengler Cup with numbers and current team.
  • #1 Brendan Burke - University of Alberta (U SPORTS)
  • #30 Zach Fucale - Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
  • #31 Matt Tomkins - Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The team will be coached by former NHL and KHL head coach Craig MacTavish while Paul Coffey will fill the assistant coach's role. As stated above, Sean Burke is the general manager for the team with Shane Doan as a part of the management group.

Group A, consisting of HC Ambri-Piotta, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, and TPS Turku, kick off the tournament on December 26 at 9:10am ET/8:10am CT with HC Ambri-Piotta hosting Salavat Yulaev Ufa before Team Canada takes the ice in their Group B game as the visitors against HC Ocelari Trinec at 2:15pm ET/1:15pm CT. The losers of those two games play on December 27 with the Group A losing team meeting TPS Turku at 9:10am ET/8:10am CT while the Group B losing team meets HC Davos at 2:15pm ET/1:15pm CT. December 28 sees the winners of the December 26 games back in action as the Group A winning team plays TPS Turku at 9:10am ET/8:10am CT while the Group B winning team plays HC Davos at 2:15pm ET/1:15pm CT.

From there, the quarterfinals on December 29 see crossovers as the third-place team in Group B meets the second-place team in Group A at 9:10am ET/8:10am CT while the afternoon game sees the third-place team in Group A meeting the second-place team in Group B at 2:15pm ET/1:15pm CT. The semifinal games on December 30 have the winner of the GB3-GA2 game play the Group B first-place team at 9:10am ET/8:10am CT while the GA3-GB2 winner plays the Group A first-place team at 2:15pm ET/1:15pm CT. The final will happen on December 31 at the bleary-eyed time of 6:10am ET/5:10am CT between the last two teams left standing.

It should be another great tournament over in Davos, Switzerland. If you're wondering who is playing on the other teams, look for Matt D'Agostini and Marco Muller playing with HC Ambri-Piotta, Linus Omark and Alexander Burmistrov playing with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Lauri Korpikoski and Zach Budish playing with TPS Turku, David Musil and Lukas Krajick playing with HC Ocelari Trinec, and Aaron Palushaj and Mattias Tedenby playing with HC Davos. These guys have all spent time in the NHL and AHL here in North America, so there are some names in each game that you'll recognize.

I say it every year, but, along with the World Junior Championship tournament, this might be the most wonderful time of the year for hockey fans!

UPDATE: Matthew Maione (Dinamo Minsk - KHL) and Blair Riley (Cardiff Devils - EIHL) were added to the roster on Monday! Maione just joined Minsk, and has recorded no points in three games while Blair Riley, who has a ton of AHL experience, has 19 points in 22 games with Cardiff!


Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Problems Behind The Scenes

If you've been on HBIC the last couple of days, you likely have noticed that there are images missing. My previous hosting service, who I shall not mention, has decided that I've exceeded the either the bandwidth or the total number of images held on my account, and has effectively suspended my account. While I loathe their service for how terrible and slow their website is, the situation only got worse when they began preventing direct links to be posted to images while still taking my money and telling me that they were "looking into the issue". Needless to say, my patience has run out with this company and their Geocities-like website, so it's time to move on. Get bent, image-hosting company.

With that being said, I have begun the tedious process of moving all the important photos to a new hosting site. What this means is that there likely will be a ton of broken links on old articles because I simply don't have the time to re-link all the photos from the new site. Does this suck? You bet your bottom dollar it does, but this is what happens when a site moves from being user-friendly to being complete doorknobs. As of right now, I'm going through the collection of photos on Team Doorknobs' site and saving only those that seem vitally important to this blog.

Here's where you come in: if you find a link that's broken and you want to see that picture, please let me know via email and I'll do my best to replace it. Again, I admit that this sucks and the vast majority of you won't let me know, and that's fine. I'm willing to live with the consequences of making this decision. I have figured out how to strip all the photos off my account, so the photos will be retained and I can use them again or link them up again if you send me the info.

I can't lie about how much time it has taken to download a stack of these images already. This is going to be something that chaps my rear end for some time regarding how much time this has cost me because some moron at the offices of DoorKnob, Incorporated decided to impose some idiocy. This is definitely one of the more painful issues I've experienced in the decade-plus of running this blog, but you live and you learn.

At least I have all the menu items and the blog banner fixed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 19 December 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 378

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns to the airwaves on our friendly frequency of 101.5 FM for a little puck chatter tonight. It won't be your normal chatter about the game itself, though, as I'm proud to welcome a guest who will take us inside the game at the U SPORTS level! If you've ever wondered what it takes to put a team on the ice when it comes to skates, equipment, and uniforms, tonight is your night for some in-depth talk about that as I welcome Mat Relf, equipment manager for the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team, to the show!

That's Mat in the image to the left as a member of the Springfield Collegiate Sabres who played in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League, and we'll chat with Mat about growing up, playing hockey at the high school level, and his career on skates before jumping into his new role with the Manitoba Bisons. We'll find out how Mat got started on the equipment side of the coin, what some of his responsibilities are, what a normal gameday looks like for him, some of the special requests that he has to complete when it comes to players' equipment, and whether he gets any input into coaching decisions when he's behind the bench! It should be a fun show as we learn all about Mat and his routines as an equipment manager tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT!

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

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

Tonight, Teebz sits down with Mathew Relf to discuss playing hockey, getting players ready to play hockey, skate sharpening, team responsibilities, tightening loose screws and fixing broken toe straps, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: December 19, 2019: Episode 378

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Sneaky Svechnikov

Andrei Svechnikov is a talented kid. The 19 year-old as the second-overall pick at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, and he's showing that he's a solid NHL player with his statistics over the last two seasons. That being said, the kid also has quite a bag of tricks he can dip into when needed, and he routinely shows off his speed, his hands, and his vision in virtually every game. One of the other tricks he has in that bag is shown in the lede photo as he's been working on the lacrosse-style goal that he successfully pulled off against the Calgary Flames on October 29 this year.

When asked about the move in late October, Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour said that he watches Svechnikov practice the move at Hurricanes practices. It's pretty clear that the young Russian sniper has been working on his delivery in terms of disguising the move a little better because Svechnikov pulled off the feat once more tonight.
As you heard on the broadcast, Svechnikov has now pulled off this feat in both the US and in Canada, and it seems that his victims are only Canadian teams. Honestly, that lacrosse-like move that he seems to possess will likely be seen more and more as players look for more and more creative ways to score, so good on Svechnikov for practicing something that had never worked in the NHL prior to his October 29 goal against the Flames. And now he has two lacrosse-esque goals.

While I'm not suggesting that Svechnikov is targeting Canadian teams exclusively, both Calgary and Winnipeg have been victimized. If I'm the Toronto Maple Leafs who play the Hurricanes on Monday, I'd be very aware that Svechnikov has this tool in his toolbox. Of course, he may wait until a bigger day, and that would put the focus on the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Eve as his last chance to victimize three Canadian years before the calendar flips to 2020.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice! Or don't if you're name is Svechnikov.

Monday, 16 December 2019

TBC: Zamboni

With Canada West hockey on its December exam and holiday break, it's time to dig into a little textual therapy as Teebz's Book Club makes an appearance! I like learning about stuff, and today's entry will certainly be a lesson in history on one piece of equipment that all hockey rinks must have if they're going to have people skate on their ice surfaces. That piece of equipment is an ice resurfacing machine, better known by its more commonly-used name in a Zamboni machine! If you wanted to know nearly everything about Zamboni machines, Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Zamboni: The Coolest Machines on Ice, written by Eric Dregni and published by Motorbooks. Author Dregni takes us through the humble beginnings of the Zamboni Company right through to today's battery-powered Zamboni machines and more! Get settled in as we go around the rink a few times while learning about Zamboni ice resurfacing machines!

Eric Dregni is a full-time associate professor of English and Journalism at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, but he spends a lot of his non-teaching time writing books! He grew up in Minnetonka, but developed a love for Italy during an exchange student program in his senior year of high school. He spent an entire year writing a book about St. Paul's sister city in Modena, Italy! Dregni has authored nearly twenty books on a variety of topics that include motor scooters, travel guidebooks for the American midwest, and travel in Europe. When he's not writing about these topics or Zamboni machines, Dregni spends his summers as dean of an Italian language summer camp for kids who want to learn to speak Italian! Eric lives in St. Paul with his wife, Katy, and his three children.

It's one of those underappreciated things at every rink mostly because when it's on the ice, players aren't. The Zamboni has long been held in contempt for what it means for players, but how much do you actually think about the science and the machinery that has gone into a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine over the years? Do you know how long the Zamboni Company has been around or how many models of Zamboni machines there have been over the history of the company? Before reading Zamboni, I'll be honest in saying that I never gave it much thought.

I'll say it here: give it some thought and pick up this book because the history of the Zamboni Company and the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine is fascinating!

Frank Zamboni was born in 1901 in Eureka, Utah, and he and his brother, Lawrence, would move to Paramount, California to found Zamboni Brothers Electric following Frank's graduation from a trade school where he learned electricity. In 1927, the brothers opened a refrigeration plant to make ice blocks for old-fashioned iceboxes in order to keep food refrigerated. However, over the next decade, refrigerators would become more prominent in American homes, and the brothers found their ice-block business falling on harder times. It was in 1940 that Frank, Lawrence, and their cousin, Pete, turned to using that plant machinery to test a new venture in making ice outdoors on a vacant lot which eventually became "Iceland", a huge outdoor skating rink!

While Frank Zamboni was inventing other things to improve his ice-making venture, the one thing that bothered him was the hour-long wait for the ice to be resurfaced when a new layer of ice was needed. It would take nine years from the opening of Iceland to seeing the first iteration of the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine, but May 16, 1949 saw Frank Zamboni's resurfacing machine take to the ice where the new layer of ice was applied in "record time" to the Iceland ice surface! While it wasn't officially a Zamboni by name yet, the first Zamboni ice resurfacing machine was born!

There are a pile of details that Dregni puts into the historical look at the Zamboni ice resurfacing machines that includes the importance of figure skating and traveling skating shows such as Ice Capades to push the innovation behind the Zamboni machines, how World War II jeeps and walnuts played a major roles in the improvements of the Zamboni machines, and how the upgrades and improvements have continued throughout the decades of the Zamboni Company's history to lead us to the Zamboni machines we see today. Honestly, the information and the amazing pictures in this section of Zamboni alone makes the book worth its value!

The second section of Zamboni goes over all the details of the Zamboni machines about which one likely never even thought. Driving a Zamboni machine can be done by anyone, but it takes years to master handling the big machine to make ice smoothly. For those that are curious, Zamboni machines have top speed of 9 mph or 14 km/hr, but Zamboni drivers have to be aware of what's happening on the ice - coins, buttons, and other minute debris can render a Zamboni machine useless if it drives over the debris! There's some info about what goes into making ice within the machine, how many kilometers are put on each machine annually on average, how much snow each machine makes to dump out when it's finished its run, a look at the actual Zamboni Company factory, and a number of other facts. There's even a snippet of information that the NCAA actually changed a rule - I won't say which one - because of a suggestion from the Zamboni Company!

The third section of Zamboni is all about the human devotion to the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine. From bands who have wrote songs about the Zamboni machine to parades featuring Zamboni machines and from souped-up, custom Zamboni machines to the introduction of two Zamboni machines on the same ice surface, the stories and history of the Zamboni machines is back on display as people take their love of the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine to new levels never seen before.

The fourth section of Zamboni is all about the popular culture and weird facts that one never considers when watching the Zamboni machines circle the ice. For example, did you know that out of 37 ice technicians at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, just one was a woman? That woman, Barbara Bogner, is from Colorado where she is the Assistant Director of Aquatics and the Ice Rink at the University of Colorado, and she was invited over to South Korea for the Olympics where she circled the ice on the Zamboni machines there!

Honestly, the writing that Eric Dregni did in Zamboni is top-notch, but you'll likely sit and flip through the pages just to read all the inserts and marvel at the photos that have been included. Again, Mr. Dregni did an amazing job writing the book, but he likely could have published Zamboni as a picture book, and I still would have given this book a thumbs-up. The photos are fantastic when reading about specific things Mr. Dregni is illustrating with words, and they make this book worth the price of admission.

Since I already mentioned it above, you likely know how I feel about Zamboni: The Coolest Machines on Ice. Mr. Dregni's research into the Zamboni Company and the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine translated nicely into a well-written book, and the photos and inserts used in each chapter bring what Mr. Dregni wrote to life. If you've ever been curious about the Zamboni machines you see at the intermissions at hockey games, this book is entirely for you. Because of these the great writing, fantastic images, and the cool topic, Zamboni: The Coolest Machines on Ice absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Zamboni: The Coolest Machines on Ice at your local bookstores and libraries, and it is suitable for hockey fans of all ages! It should be noted that nowhere in this review was the machine referred to as a "Zamboni". There's a very good reason for this as stated on the Zamboni Company's website.
If you hear your friends at the game talking about "the Zamboni," make sure you inform them of the machine's proper reference!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Goalie Fisticuffs

As their NHL affiliate in Winnipeg was laying a beating on the Philadelphia Flyers, the ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen and the South Carolina Stingrays were laying beatings on each other as these two minor-league professional clubs got into the rough stuff in their game today. While the ECHL used to feature their assortment of donnybrooks and fracases back in the day, the league rarely finds itself with a brouhaha that these two teams engaged in while trying to earn points in the standings. And it got really interesting when the two men with the most armour on decided to drop the gloves!

Charleston, South Carolina was the scene of this dust-up as Jacksonville's Michael McNiven and South Carolina's Logan Thompson, having just seen the roughness escalate in the game, met at what appears to be the South Carolina blue line, discarded the gloves, blockers, and masks, and rained blows down on one another!
As you're entertained by the scrap, there are a pile of details that we need to go over as we sort out this craziness. It should be noted that the 2600 fans in attendance today seem very entertained by this gladiatorial action.

It needs to be mentioned that this was the second fight to occur during this stoppage in play as Icemen centerman Everett Clark and Stingrays winger Cole Ully had already been scrapping down the other end of the ice. That's why there are no officials in the picture when the two netminders decide to drop the gloves.

Secondly, because this is the second fight during this stoppage in play, ECHL rules state that both players are assessed game misconducts. Those penalties were assessed to both McNiven and Thompson with Jacksonville's Adam Carlson replacing McNiven while South Carolina's Parker Milner finished the game for South Carolina. Both men were assessed a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct in a game that ended with 118 PIMs being handed out.

Third, neither of these players are actually affiliated with the NHL teams that the ECHL teams are. Michael McNiven is a Montreal Canadiens prospect who has played with the AHL's Laval Rocket and two other ECHL teams outside of the Icemen in the last two seasons. In a rather weird coincidence, however, McNiven was born in Winnipeg, and the Icemen are, as mentioned above, the ECHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets!

On the other side, Logan Thompson signed a one-year deal with the AHL's Hershey Bears before being sent to South Carolina, but he has not been signed by the Washington Capitals with whom both the Bears and Stingrays are affiliated. Thompson, ironically, also has Manitoba roots as he played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings before suiting up with the OUA's Brock Badgers in U SPORTS.

In the end, I'm not sure there was a winner or loser in this fight despite McNiven falling back and Thompson falling forward. I can say with certainty that South Carolina Stingrays did prevail in this game by a 2-1 score over the Jacksonville Icemen, so the home crowd at least went home happy and entertained.

A goalie goal on Saturday and a goalie fight on Sunday? This weekend got a little wild!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 14 December 2019

International Goalie Goal

The man celebrating with fist-bumps at the bench? That's goaltender Frans Tuohimaa. Tuohimaa went to the bench for fist-bumps after scoring the first goal of is professional career today in the Euro Hockey Tour game today between his country of Finland and their arch-rivals in Sweden. International goals seem to be more rare than league goals simply due to the lack of games on the international stage, but Tuohimaa added his name to the record books today with his historic goal.

For those that aren't aware, the Euro Hockey Tour is an annual men's hockey tournament that is open to only four countries in the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. Most of the players are brought in from European leagues and, occasionally, the KHL, and the tournament is used by these four European nations to scout additional players for each country's respective national men's hockey team. The "tour" part of the European Hockey Tour features a three-game mini-tournament in each country, and the winner is determined by the total points accumulated from all four legs of the tournament.

All of the above is hardly relevant outside of the fact that Frans Tuohimaa was playing for Finland today in the second mini-tournament in Russia as the Finns faced off against Sweden. Late in the third period with Finland up 4-1 and Tuohimaa in line for the regulation win, Sweden opted to pull their netminder in an effort to try and make up the difference in this game. Sweden, trying to break through the Finnish defence at the blue line, dumped the puck in directly to Tuohimaa, and here are the results.
Tuohimaa's goal is the first goaltender goal to be scored in EHT history, so the former Edmonton Oilers draft pick is now officially in the EHT record books! The catch here is that I went through a couple of IIHF Record Books to see if there were other goals scored by goaltenders in international competitions, and it seems to be a statistic that the IIHF either doesn't track or hasn't had to worry about since I couldn't find any mention of goalie goals in their record books. This means that Tuohimaa may be the first goalie to score a goal in an international tournament, but it also means his name won't appear in the IIHF Record Book moving forward because the EHT men's tournament doesn't appear to be an IIHF-sanctioned tournament!

What also may take a little shine off this moment is an IIHF rule that this tournament uses that states that any goaltender who skates to his bench to celebrate a goal must either be replaced in his net or the team is assessed a delay of game penalty. Finland, knowing this rule, opted to replace Tuohimaa rather than accept a penalty, so he didn't actually play the full sixty minutes in the victory. Yes, he still earned the win as the goaltender of record, but the rules of the game make the details of the game a little crazier.

In any case, congratulations to Frans Tuohimaa for scoring his first goal as a professional player. After playing for four AHL games for the Oklahoma City Barons and 33 games for the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors under the watch of the Edmonton Oilers, it seems that his return to Finland's SM-Liiga after opting not to stay in the ECHL was a good decision for his career as he's been able to suit up for his country in international play and score his first goal as professional netminder!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 13 December 2019

Multilingual Broadcasts

In today's corporate world of network broadcasts of professional sports, it's rare that networks will allow other networks run live video of an event without some sort of major concessions being made or some sort of money being paid. Today, however, it seems that Rogers Sportsnet is doing something pretty special in partnering with APTN - the Aboriginal People's Television Network - when it comes to hockey broadcasts.

According to Sportsnet's release today, "Sportsnet and APTN have announced a new partnership to broadcast more NHL games in Plains Cree over the course of the next three seasons, beginning in January."

How cool is that? Hint: VERY.

We already know that Canadian hockey broadcasts are done in English, French, and Punjabi, but we can add a fourth language to the fold now as Sportsnet and APTN will partner together to broadcast six games per season in the Cree language over the next three seasons after a highly-successful broadcast in Cree last season. That game was between the Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes in March with Clarence Iron doing the play-by-play broadcast while former NHLer John Chabot provided the colour analysis.

Rob Corte, Vice President of Sportsnet & NHL Productions, said in the release, "We know that Canada’s Indigenous communities have a great passion for hockey and we are excited grow our partnership with APTN to deliver more games over the next three years."

While there may only be a handful of months left on the NHL schedule this season, there will be six games broadcast from January through to April, and I'm proud to say that three of them will feature the Winnipeg Jets with all of those games happening on Hometown Hockey with Ron MacLean and Tara Sloan on Sundays, most notably during their stop in Manitoba at the Peguis First Nation on March 1!

The schedule for the six games are as follows (all times Central):
  • January 19: Winnipeg Jets vs. Chicago Blackhawks (730pm)
  • February 9: Winnipeg Jets vs. Chicago Blackhawks (730pm)
  • February 23: Calgary Flames vs. Detroit Red Wings (730pm)
  • Mar 1: Vancouver Canucks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (730pm)
  • March 15: Winnipeg Jets vs. Vancouver Canucks (830pm)
  • March 29: Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers (830pm)
Adding a broadcast in another language is never a bad thing, and I'm excited to see this new partnership flourish between Sportsnet and APTN. Perhaps this may the start of seeing other Indigenous languages being incorporated into broadcasts as well. Chabot, whose family comes from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, has Algonquin as their language, and he expressed a desire to see games broadcast in Algonquin at some point in the future. CBC North broadcasters also called an NHL game in Inuktitut during Hockey Day in Canada in 2010, so it seems the precedence is there and I'm willing to bet those involved in the broadcasts would come back to call a game again in their respective languages.

There was some question as to when we may hear "Kitâskwêw, pihtakwatâw!" - Cree for "he shoots, he scores" - on another broadcast. It seems that answer has been provided today as we'll hear that call on January 19, 2020!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 377

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, finally returns back to the comfy confines of the UMFM studios after tonight after spending the last couple of weeks on the road! It was a fun couple of weeks in getting to meet the WWHSHL-expansion Transcona Titans and being part of the Hockey Helps The Homeless Pro-Am Draft, but it's time to get back to work at the office and have a little fun in discussing the latest hockey news. There were some serious news topics that hit the ticker this week once again while there was some good done at other levels. We'll talk about all of this stuff tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT!

I am proud to say that I'll be sitting with one of the all-time greats to have patrolled the ice for the Bisons tonight as Alanna Sharman will in the co-host's chair! Alanna's always a great person to chat hockey with, and I'm glad she can sit in tonight as we discuss the Jim Montgomery dismissal from Dallas, the Pete DeBoer firing in San Jose and why the problems in northern California weren't really the coach's fault, the ban on Russian athletes from high-level competitions, the Jets completing their back-to-back in Detroit against the Red Wings, my night out watching the Transcona Titans play the Kildonan East Reivers, an incredible article from William Douglas on NHL.com about the Cross Lake, Manitoba hockey factory as Kennesha Miswaggon, Carrigan Umpherville and Saige McKay are all playing university hockey, and the good that the people of Winnipeg are doing for three important charities in the city thanks to their generous donations to Hockey Helps The Homeless. It's a big show tonight, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 on the FM dial or on UMFM.com!

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

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

Tonight, Teebz and Alanna Sharman will look at the recent dismissals in the NHL, the exclusion of Russians from top sporting events, the completion of a possible Red Wings sweep by the Jets, my attendance at the Titans-Reivers game, the amazing accomplishments by three amazing Manitoba women, the fantastic help that Winnipeggers provided for three key charities to help end homelessness, and anything else we can squeeze in exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: December 12, 2019: Episode 377

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A Results-Based Change

It seemed like it was only a matter of time when it came to Pete DeBoer's dismissal in San Jose thanks to an aging lineup, shaky goaltending, and woeful returns from veteran players, and tonight is when the time ran out on DeBoer's tenure with the Sharks. General Manager Doug Wilson fired DeBoer this evening along with assistant coaches Steve Spott, Dave Barr, and Johan Hedberg, citing their current record and underachieving position within the division as factors for the changes.

Wilson stated in a release tonight,
"When you have had a level of past success, change is never easy, but we feel this team is capable of much more than we have shown thus far and that a new voice is needed. As a team and as individuals, our play has not met expectations this year and our level of consistency has not been where it needs to be. This group of individuals who will lead our team moving forward are very familiar with our players, and we think this change can provide out group with a fresh start."
The Sharks are currently sitting in sixth-place in the Pacific Division with a 15-16-2 record as they prepare to host the New York Rangers tomorrow night. They returned from a four-game road trip that saw them go winless while picking up a single point, being outscored by the Hurricanes, Lightning, Panthers, and Predators by combined scores of 18-5. Ouch.

Replacing the four men named above behind the San Jose Sharks bench are newly-crowned interim head coach Bob Boughner, associate coach Roy Sommer, and assistant coaches Mike Ricci and Evgeni Nabokov. Boughner was elevated from assistant coach to head coach while Sommer was the head coach of the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, and is bringing with him an incredible amount of experience as a head coach at the AHL level. Ricci was San Jose's development coach while Nabokov was the goaltending development coach with the Sharks and Barracuda.

It might be a good time to point out that Pete DeBoer likely shouldn't have taken the fall tonight for what has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster regarding player personnel on the ice thanks to Doug Wilson's adoration with veteran talent. DeBoer seemingly got more out of a roster that shouldn't have turned in the results it did thanks to its shortcomings, but DeBoer guided them to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final and to the Western Conference Final last season despite seeing key players injured and goaltending that often was near the bottom of all NHL playoff statistics. DeBoer was 198-129-34 in four-plus seasons in San Jose.

With less than $1 million available to the Sharks in cap space, there's little doubt that this team had to win in order for this group to return on the investment made by Wilson. While Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and Timo Meier all have nine-or-more goals and 20-or-more points, they occupy one-quarter of San Jose's cap space at $21 million combined. The $19.5 million duo of Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns have 24 and 21 points, respectively, but their defensive flaws have been largely exposed by their opposition this season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is a defensive specialist for the team, has been turning in solid results for the Sharks in his own zone, but his $7 million salary might be a little much for a player who has just nine points this season. All combined, that's $47.5 million in six players whose contributions might be more noticeable if it weren't for the one flaw this team has that Wilson continually overlooks and seems uninterested in solving.

Martin Jones and Aaron Dell have been anything but NHL goalies this season as both netminders have some rather horrific stats when it comes to stopping pucks. Dell is ranked 57th-overall in save percentage while Jones checks in at 60th-overall out of 74 netminders seen in the NHL this season. Jones is ranked 56th-overall in GAA while Dell ranks in at 60th-overall. Making matters worse, Dell and Jones rank 66th- and 67th-overall for even-strength save percentage out of 74 total goalies seen in the NHL this season. That's simply horrible.

Comparatively, however, Dell and Jones rank 5th- and 9th-overall for power-play save percentage, so it's not as if the Sharks aren't getting the goaltending they need while on special teams. The Sharks, as a result of this netminding, have the top penalty-killing unit in the league at 88.3% including a league-best 94.0% efficiency at home while being fifth-best on the road. Instead, it's the five-on-five play where San Jose seemingly falls apart despite the club allowing the seventh-least shots-against this season.

I have a hard time believing that the Sharks, who went to the Western Conference Final seven months ago in spite of their netminding, have changed systems so dramatically that their five-on-five play has fallen off so far. Like we saw in the playoffs last season, however, it seems that Pete DeBoer had no answer for the Sharks' goaltending woes as the state of the goaltending was already noted for how poor it was earlier this season by The Hockey News' Jared Clinton back on October 30. While Clinton did write that San Jose seems to give up more than their fair share of high-quality scoring chances which would be a coaching issue, the fact that netminders give up a guaranteed goal every ten shots suggests that they're part of the problem rather than their stats being a result of the poor defence in front of them.

If you're thinking that perhaps there might be a solution on the farm with Roy Sommer joining the NHL club, the San Jose Barracuda have no solutions for the Sharks at this moment. Rookie Josef Korenar is AHL San Jose's best netminder right now, and he has a 3.10 GAA and an .893 save percentage in 15 games - hardly NHL-promotion numbers - while rookie Andrew Shortridge is worse on both counts in the eight games he's played.

Making matters worse is that there are a handful of draft-eligible goalies this season - including the highly-touted Russian Yaroslav Askarov - but San Jose doesn't have a first-round pick thanks to the Erik Karlsson deal, meaning they're waiting until the second-round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft to select their first player unless they make a deal to move up. If San Jose is going to improve their netminding in the next five years, their scouting staff needs to do a rather stellar job in looking at the remaining netminders in the draft as most are ranked by the scouting services to start being selected late in the second-round at best.

At this point, the only solution to improving the Sharks will be to make major roster changes to either improve their defence, improve their goaltending, or change both. Pete DeBoer's firing tonight should weigh heavy on Doug Wilson's conscience for nothing more than this roster he's cobbled together has been rather average despite its hefty price tag while his goaltending has consistently been worse than NHL-average over the last few seasons.

If those two facts alone don't have Doug Wilson on the hot seat after dismissing DeBoer, there's something seriously wrong with how Wilson is being evaluated after years of falling short.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!