Thursday, 2 April 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 393

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is still working under lock-down conditions this week as the radio station and the University of Manitoba continue to enforce social and physical distancing during these uncertain times. As I said last week when we spoke with Autumn MacDougall, the interviews will continue for as long as needed because of this, and I'm happy to be able to talk to some great people. Tonight's guest is one of those great people in hockey, and we'll learn all about her amazing career and accomplishments!

And if I'm being totally honest, after learning about her in doing the research on her career, we should have had this woman on the program a long, long time ago. But let's correct that tonight!

Tonight, I sit down with the woman pictured to the left as we meet Grant MacEwan Griffins women's hockey head coach Lindsay McAlpine! As you may have heard on this very program, MacEwan will be joining Canada West hockey next year after they were accepted in by a vote last summer, and they'll begin play this September assuming everything gets back to normal by then. Tonight, we'll meet Lindsay, hear about her incredible accomplishments as a player while suiting up for the Alberta Pandas, finding her stride as a coach, winning an IIHF World Championship gold medal, playing a little pro hockey, and turning the Griffins into the powerhouse ACAC team they are with aspirations of continuing that success as they write their own Canada West history in 2020. Tune in tonight because Lindsay's interview covers a lot from a woman who has done and accomplished a lot in her young life thus far! That all happens tonight on 101.5 UMFM and UMFM.com at 5:30pm CT!

Before I post the media stuff, yes, the interview sounds a little echo-y at times, and I'm working to solve my microphone situation at home. Don't kill me for it. As you know, The Hockey Show is committed to doing the show live every week, so I'll figure out this microphone situation this weekend.

Where's the best place can you hear the show 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 one-on-one with Grffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine as we meet a woman who has done just about everything in U SPORTS hockey, has won at the international level, has coached all over the world, will get a chance to write some more history into the Canada West record books as had coach, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: April 2, 2020: Episode 393

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Our First Victim

I wish this was an April Fool's Day prank, but it's not. With everyday people like you and I losing their jobs and their wages because of this pandemic, you would have to believe that professional sports would have a few reserves they could tap into to help people through these times. It seems, though, that one of the KHL's most distant teams from Moscow will suspend operations for the 2020-21 season with those resources they relied upon get shifted elsewhere as Admiral Vladivostok made the announcement they will not play next season.

Admiral Vladivostok posted the following statement on their website.
"Against the background of the deteriorating epidemiological situation in the country and the world, the Regional Operational Headquarters and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports of Primorsky Krai decided that professional sports teams of Primorsky Krai will not take part in the upcoming season, and the funds that were provided for their financing will be sent to the reserve fund of Primorye for activities to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"Given that the main sponsor of the club - PSC 'VMTP' - is also experiencing crisis and probably will not be able to fully finance the performance of Admiral in the Continental Hockey League, the club will not be able to comply with the League's requirements for the minimum wage of hockey players.

"HC 'Admiral' reacted to the position of the Regional Operational Headquarters and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports of the Primorsky Territory with understanding and solidarity - the highest value for us, as an organization, remains the life and health of the inhabitants of the Primorsky Territory. In the current situation, there are more vital social areas that right now need maximum support. We hope that the virus will be defeated, the championships will resume, and fans will again see the KHL matches at the Fetis Arena. Currently, the 'Admiral' will make its priority the development of children and youth sports, the education of a generation of strong coastal hockey players.
I know this is a tough announcement for the team to make, but I want to commend Admiral for looking out for the fans, staff, and communities in the Primorsky Krai region. Having their funding cut in order to save lives isn't a decision they made themselves, but their reaction to the news of the funding cuts "with understanding and solidarity" shows that they understand the seriousness of this pandemic.

With Admiral Vladivostok suspending play for at least one season, the questions will begin to creep in now about the health of other teams who rely on funding from governments and industry in Russia and across Europe and Asia. This will certainly affect both men's and women's hockey on those continents as teams will be forced to make tough decisions if they find themselves losing sponsor dollars they came to rely on each season.

In a 2017 report, then-KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko published a report that spoke of the reliance that KHL teams have on state funding. The excerpt from that report that's important reads,
"The KHL has just returned a profit for the third year running, but on average 52% of the clubs' budgets derive in some way from state funding, and not all the teams spend this money in a way that justifies these subsidies."
Admiral was one of those teams who relied upon funding, and they now find themselves not playing hockey after the state-run Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports pulled the funding for the team. At the time of the report, 15 of 29 KHL teams were in the same boat as Admiral where they were receiving funding, so you have to wonder how much changed in three years since Chernyshenko published his findings.

I will admit I respect Admiral for recognizing the bigger picture here and accepting that there are things more important than hockey. While suspending a team is never good news for any league, I'll give Admiral Vladivostok some credit here by doing the right thing for its fans and its community. Hopefully, we'll see them back in 2021-22.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

More Positive Hockey Tests

As we continue through this period of self-isolation and mandatory quarantines, I cannot stress enough the importance in staying home and away from others now that hockey is starting to see its share of positive COVID-19 cases as symptoms emerge in players and testing is done. We already know of four NHL players and two NHL broadcasters who have contracted the virus, and now it seems that a team who was preparing for an upcoming IIHF World Championship has also been affected by the virus as China is reporting that its women's national team, who were practising in Washington, DC for the upcoming World Championship in Poland, has had two of its team members test positive for the virus.

The Chinese Ice Hockey Federation released the following details on Sunday.
"With the pandemic surging in the U.S., the team returned home on March 13 and none of its 11 members had a fever when their body temperature was checked upon landing. Then they were put in quarantine for 14 days as required and two of them were test positive at the end of the quarantine period.

"Now the two infected players are receiving medical treatment in a designated hospital, both feeling well with mild symptoms. The rest of the team are healthy and will receive further medical observation under quarantine."
Again, let me stress the importance of staying home, staying safe, and keeping the physical distance requirements in check while this pandemic is happening. After that reminder, though, you may be asking where the Chinese National Team was practising because that seems to be highly-relevant information when asking questions about where and when they may have contracted the virus.

As per this report on Xinhuanet.com, "the team participated in the Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL) Challenge Cup at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Washington from February 14 to 18." That doesn't mean they contracted the virus there if they only showed symptoms towards the end of their self-quarantine in late March. It's more likely they contracted the virus somewhere else away from the hockey rink against JWHL teams, but it should mean that anyone who had contact with the team in the first two weeks of March and specifically the last few days prior to and around March 13 was likely a carrier of the virus.

When medical experts talk about the spread of the virus, the twelve-day incubation period in humans is how this virus gets spread quickly without carriers showing virtually any symptoms as the team was in Washington and didn't have traces of the virus until they got home and nearly completed their quarantine. This is why we all need to stay home and be safe because that two-week gap between contraction of the virus and symptoms emerging is how this virus spread so fast across the globe.

I'm hoping that the two women from the Chinese National Team recover from this virus. Here's hoping these may be the last hockey players to report a positive test when it comes to COVID-19. And remember: stay home, stay safe, keep your distance.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Summer Hockey Dates

As you may be aware on this very blog, I usually dedicate years in which the Summer Olympics are held to the field hockey competition at the Olympics. I happen to like the sport and the nuances that it make it unique, and I like covering the athletes that represent their teams on the national stage from countries that may not make it on to HBIC very often for ice hockey. That being said, the International Olympic Committee and Japan had already agreed to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but they did come out today with new dates on which the Summer Olympiad will take place.

In the announcement by the IOC and Japan today, the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will now run from July 23, 2021 with the Closing Ceremony falling on August 8, 2021. The 2020 Paralympic Games will also shift to next year with the new 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games running from August 23 to September 4. These changes will ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with the Tokyo Olympics, and should enable all athletes to resume training in time for the Olympics in 2021.

If you may recall, the Canadian men's field hockey team pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Irish in October 2019 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, so there will definitely be a Canadian element to the field hockey stories I cover next year. While the women's team fell short in their efforts to qualify for Tokyo, there will be equal coverage given to both tournaments despite the Canadian gals not participating. That's how this blog works, so don't even bother questioning it.

If you're looking for more details about this great sport, check out the piece I did on how the game is played. There's also a an article on how teams qualify for the Olympics, some rule changes and explanations before the 2012 London Olympiad, and the teams who have had success in the Olympiads from 1980 until 2012. Heck, I even live-blogged a match between Argentina and Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

We now have one additional year to get up to speed on who will be competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games, so expect an overview of the teams who qualified for both the men's and women's tournaments next summer as opposed to this summer. I'm not sure if teams will make roster changes before then, but you can be assured I'll have everything covered here on HBIC next year for the 2021 Toyko Summer Olympic field hockey events!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 29 March 2020

When One Is Too Many

I often say that sports is a microcosm of society, and there are usually instances in sports that mirror what we see in society. We've already seen the Ottawa Senators go into full lock-down mode after tow of their players tested positive for COVID-19, and now it appears there will be a second team instituting full quarantine measures after a second case of coronavirus was detected in a player yesterday. The Colorado Avalanche had their first case confirmed on Thursday, and the team announced that they had a second positive test yesterday in a second player.

The Avalanche also announced that the first player who tested positive had already recovered, but there's now four positive tests in the NHL in total with the potential for more with some of these athletes being asymptomatic. It should also be noted that Ottawa Senators broadcaster Gord Wilson, a TSN 1200 employee, has also tested positive for coronavirus after he came down with symptoms, and was on the plane that was in San Jose where it's suspected the Ottawa players contracted the virus. Joining Wilson from the broadcasting side of the coin is St. Louis Blues play-by-play announcer John Kelly as the St. Louis Blues made that announcement on Friday.

It should be noted that because there is very limited data on the coronavirus that medical professionals and scientists don't know if a person is a carrier once they recover nor do they know if a person can be infected again by the virus. Because of this limited data and testing, the NHL shoudl exercise greater precautions when it comes to allowing those who tested positive to return to hockey if or when hockey returns.

Both Ottawa and Colorado were the last teams to play in San Jose before the NHL shut down, so it seems like these cases regarding the players may have originated in Santa Clara county. The problem with this entire situation is that the incubation periods in people seems to be around twelve days, so there may be other players and staff who are currently infected. Once again, and I cannot stress this enough, everyone needs to stay home and remain in self-isolation.

With the NHL cancelling all June events, it might be time to just accept the reality of the situation, be intelligent about keeping everyone safe, and abandon any idea of hockey until at least September. We've seen the Spanish flu take out the 1919 Stanley Cup Final and we've seen a lockout kill the 2004-05 season, so it's not like there haven't been years where the Stanley Cup hasn't been awarded. Adding 2019-20 to that list in order to secure the safety of everyone involved in putting on NHL games seems like a small sacrifice in the bigger picture.

With COVID-19 finding its way inside the NHL, the isolation that the players and staff are under will help curb the spread of the virus further. If sports is a microcosm of society, we should be doing what the NHL players are doing and isolating as much as possible in order to prevent the virus from spreading further. Four cases is still too many cases when one considers that the NHL wants to kick things back into gear in June, but it could be much, much worse considering all the interactions NHL players and personnel have on a daily basis.

For once, the NHL may have gotten something right during these trying times. Stay home, be safe, and keep your distance!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Ice Breakers

There's always a big push for diversity in hockey during their "Hockey Is For Everyone" month over the course of February. While the sentiment is nice, the other eleven months of the calendar are also months where hockey is for everyone, and I don't understand why the NHL goes to great lengths to try and push this narrative in the shortest months of the year. There are all sorts of people whose backgrounds have led to a much more diverse game now than any point in history, and that's simply a product of hockey becoming more popular across the globe. The key in all of this, though, is that hockey has always been for everyone, and at no point should we simply appoint a month to celebrate the diversity in hockey. They live and follow hockey like you and I for the other eleven months, so let's start making "Hockey Is For Everyone" a daily thing as opposed to one month.

My wishes for this correction aside, I received a press release yesterday from the National Film Board about a new film that is streaming for free on its site. It reads,
"A new short documentary by Sri Lankan-Canadian filmmaker Sandi Rankaduwa, Ice Breakers explores the buried history of how Black athletes helped pioneer modern hockey, as seen through the present-day journey of Nova Scotian Josh Crooks, a young, gifted African-Canadian hockey player in an overwhelmingly white sport.

"Inclusivity, fairness, and fun are integral values to good sport and can help effect positive change within the community of the game. However, as we've seen recently in the news, hockey continues to have a race problem that hurts both players and lovers of the sport. Ice Breakers investigates racial inclusivity in the game by reflecting on the transgenerational experiences of Black hockey players, as Josh discovers that his passion for the sport is tied to the remarkable history of the Coloured Hockey League. Through this new knowledge and understanding of his heritage, we see him take on a leadership role in helping other young African-Canadian hockey players fall in love with the game."
I'm sure you that can guess that these two paragraphs piqued my interest as I'm always on the hunt for a good hockey story, but this one has a great human element to it because I, as a white guy, can't possibly understand what Josh Crooks has seen and heard as an African-Canadian hockey player. Before introducing the key players who brought this short 15-minute film to life, here is the film itself. I present to you Ice Breakers.
Honestly, that was a pretty compelling examination, albeit brief, of the history of hockey and people of colour in the province of Nova Scotia with a great look at Josh Crooks' life thus far. I too was shocked that the Nova Scotia Hockey Hall of Fame had just one picture and zero references to an entire league of African-Canadian players in the early 20th century, but this is why stories like this one need to be told.

Director Sandi Rankaduwa, according to her biographical write-up on the NFB site, "is a Sri Lankan-Canadian writer, filmmaker, and comedian who splits her time between Brooklyn and Halifax. Ice Breakers is her third film. Her cultural criticism has appeared in The Believer, Rolling Stone, and BuzzFeed Reader, and she was named one of three BuzzFeed Emerging Writer Fellows for 2018. As a comedian, Sandi has performed stand-up both in the US and Canada, opening for headliners such as Aparna Nancherla, Todd Barry, and Jen Kirkman. Her featured performances include the Chicago Women's Funny Fest, Halifax Comedy Fest, Women In Comedy Festival (Boston), Halifax Pop Explosion, and the SheDot Festival (Toronto)."

What her bio doesn't say is that Sandi Rankaduwa's a Dalhousie University graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience with a minor in International Development Studies! She also graduated from the University of King's College with a degree in Journalism so she's basically qualified to do almost anything, but I'm pretty glad she brought her skills to film-making. Her comedic resumé saw her hone her craft at the iO Theatre in Chicago after doing web pieces for 22 Minutes on CBC. Needless to say, she may have already done a lot on that list of anything!

I believe that the film that Sandi Rankaduwa has made in Ice Breakers should prompt a change in how Nova Scotia embraces this wing of hockey history in that province, and hopefully it will get those changes started. For the African-Canadian community in Nova Scotia and across this country, I'll be the first to admit that there a ton of historical records and information that need to be brought to the surface to provide a more complete and accurate history of hockey in this country, and that by not telling it or talking about it does a great disservice to the hockey story written over time in this country.

Congratulations to Sandi Rankaduwa on her incredible film, and I hope you continue to push the boundaries in your work. To Josh Crooks, I hope you continue to inspire the next generation and future generations of players, and I'm happy to learned a little about you. My only hope is that there are more examinations of hockey history like this so that more stories are told and can be included in the history of this game.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 27 March 2020

When Corporations Do Good

Being that my regular, full-time, everyday job hasn't been changed by the pandemic thanks to my employer being identified as an "essential service", I haven't had to wonder about whether or not I'll have a job when this entire situation passes. For a lot of you, I empathize with this situation, and I hope that everything works out for you. Small business owners? I'm with you too in empathizing over your situation. Where I have less empathy is for large businesses who have the ability to draw upon their resources and assets to keep their employees afloat in these hard times. However, two business are doing what they can to help keep those on the front lines be safe and secure by transitioning their normal business to other ventures, and I think they deserve a shout-out for their efforts.

In an article filed by Emily Kaplan on ESPN.com yesterday, Bauer, who normally makes hockey equipment, has moved to making medical shields for doctors, nurses, first responders, and employees in the medical field in an effort to help stock the dwindling base of resources available to hospitals. As Emily wrote, "[b]y Wednesday morning, Bauer had orders come in to its Quebec facility for more than 100,000 units across Canada, according to Bauer CEO Ed Kinnaly."

According to Bauer, they've called employees back to work in its Liverpool, New York facility and Blainville, Quebec facility in order to start mass production of these masks, and "Kinnaly said the number of employees working on the project will go up, based on the demand they are already seeing."

While they have yet to take orders from US hospitals and medical centers, expect Bauer employees to be busy at both facilities as more and more medical facilities will seek these forms of safety and protection equipment for their employees. Bauer has estimated the cost of these new medical shields to be about $3 USD including shipping, and Bauer is not profiting off the sales of these medical shields which gets an automatic thumbs-up from me when we're talking about protecting the very people trying to slow the spread of this virus.

"Frankly I wish we could do more," Kinnaly told Kaplan. "Any way we can help, we're going to try."

Well done, Bauer, and you deserve some free press for this kind of effort. You're helping your employees, your community, and the general public, and that's precisely what big businesses should be doing in this time of need.

The second company who I want to point out doesn't actually have a hockey tie-in, but they are based in my community so I want to give some space for a company whose practices have been maligned in recent months and years, but seem to realize they can do a lot of good with some changes.

Canada Goose has taken its fair share of public scrutiny over its use of coyote fur and goose feathers in its products. In the aspect of fairness, I don't own a Canada Goose jacket nor any other product from Canada Goose due to my feelings on the subject, but if I have the power to criticize the company, I also hold the responsibility of praising it when it does something good.

Canada Goose announced on Wednesdsay that its manufacturing facilities in Toronto and Winnipeg will bring employees back in to begin production of scrubs and patient gowns to donate to local health facilities across Canada. The company also indicated that it may use other facilities across Canada to produce scrubs and gowns if the need arises.

"Across Canada, there are people risking their lives every day on the front lines of COVID-19 in health care facilities, and they need help. Now is the time to put our manufacturing resources and capabilities to work for the greater good," Dani Reiss, president of Canada Goose, said in the press release. "Our employees are ready, willing and able to help, and that's what we're doing. It's the Canadian thing to do."

According to the company's release, "[f]ifty employees will work while socially distanced at each of the two facilities, and the goal is to produce 10,000 scrubs and gowns. Distribution will begin next week".

If Canada Goose is working to shift these two, and possibly more, facilities to making these scrubs and gowns to donate to medical facilities, I applaud them for this effort. I get that they make high-end winter clothing as their main product, but perhaps we'll see a division of Canada Goose remain open after the pandemic passes where producing these scrubs and gowns becomes part of their corporate identity. I'd get behind that effort since it requires no animals to be harmed to make the garments, and the effect would be entirely more far-reaching than their winter gear. Yes, I get there would have to be a price tag attached to the ongoing production of these garments, but as long as the cost isn't something outrageous just because it has the Canada Goose logo on it, I'd be in favour of that effort.

Together, Bauer and Canada Goose are making the lives for medical professionals better with these efforts. I am hopeful that other big businesses step up and contribute like these two companies have, and only time will tell if that happens. I think it's important to make note of these companies who have jumped into the fray to help others rather than shutting down during our nations' times of need, so major kudos to both Bauer and Canada Goose for their efforts and their part in helping our taxed medical system.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 26 March 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 392

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, hasn't let a little thing like the shutdown of the radio station slow our roll. Over the next few weeks while the University of Manitoba restricts access to all building to only vitally-important employees - aka not radio hosts - I'll be doing a ton of interviews with people you should get to know in the hockey world. Last week, we were lucky enough to speak with Rochard Marzi, the creator of Wally the Whaler, and this week will see me speak with another amazing individual whose career has been rather amazing.

Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia is probably best known as the hometown of two of the NHL's biggest stars in Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon. They may want to make some room for another scoring sensation from that maritime town, though, as we'll meet Alberta Pandas scoring dynamo Autumn MacDougall! Autumn has been one of Canada West's most consistent scorers, winning the scoring title this year while being named as Alberta's team MVP in 2017. I sit down with her to talk about growing up in Nova Scotia, wearing the provincial jersey with pride, moving away for high school and additional hockey opportunities at the Canadian International Hockey Academy, moving even farther away when she joined the Pandas, and all of her accomplishments with the Edmonton-based institution! I really enjoyed talking with Autumn and learning about her life and career, so I hope you'll join me tonight at 5:30pm CT on UMFM for this talk!

Where's the best place can you hear the show 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 one-on-one with one of the best scorers in Canada West history as he talks to Alberta's Autumn MacDougall about growing up, moving away, finding her place, establishing one heckuva career in Canada West hockey, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: March 26, 2020: Episode 392

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Waiting For Intelligent Life

Sometimes, it just takes a little longer. I get that the American government is struggling right now to come to terms with the cope of how bad this viral pandemic can be, but you would think that a league that has two confirmed cases of coronavirus would treat this pandemic with a little more seriousness. As the NHL clings to the faint hope that they'll be able to complete the 2019-20 season sometime before the calendar flips to 2021, they decided to postpone the 2020 NHL Draft, NHL Combine, and NHL Awards - events all scheduled to happen in June.

I respect the fact that all of these events attract crowds and there are infinite interactions between people at the events, but postponing the events is just another scheduling problem that can be solved by using the word "cancelled". I get that scouts and general managers eagerly anticipate seeing players do chin-ups, push-ups, and ride stationary bikes at the combine, but when you learn that some of the best players in the game today couldn't do a chin-up or had low aerobic fitness scores compared to their peers, it might be time to just let this one go for a year.

There have been all sorts of scenarios proposed for the NHL Draft Lottery thus far, but let's be honest in telling ourselves that the solution in 2005 seemed to work pretty well for all teams involved following the lockout. In 2005, first-round selections were determined by a weighted lottery with the teams picking in reverse order in the second round, and the draft continued to follow the "snake" pattern through to the seventh and final round.

In that draft, four teams had the best chance of picking first-overall based on the criteria that teams had not qualified for any of those playoffs and received no first-overall picks in that period. The four teams who received the best odds were the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and we know that the Penguins selected Sidney Crosby first-overall in 2005. There's no reason why the NHL can't do the same thing for this year's NHL Entry Draft if only there was someone who was in charge of the league when this all went down.

As for the NHL Awards, it can be done online since that's just a night where the NHL sells its soul to any advertiser who wants to dump money on the NHL's doorstep. Quite frankly, the summaries written up about the event are better than sitting through the whole night itself, so stream it for free on NHL.com, and be done with this whole debacle of postponing and rescheduling.

For one single, solitary season, there is nothing wrong with shutting the league down for the greater good. At some point, there has to be better decisions made in the NHL Office and in front offices of NHL teams when it comes to not promoting the gatherings of mass humanity in one small location. For everything that we're being told, keeping our social distances from others once this is over will help to prevent a second wave of the virus infecting people, and that's generally a good thing for the entire planet.

I don't know if we'll find it this year based on the decisions already made, but I'm hoping that, at some point, there might be some sort of sign of intelligent life at the NHL. One day, we might see executives who are smarter than the virus we're currently trying to curtail.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Epaulette Captaincy

The practice of wearing epaulettes dates back to the 17th century when military coats sported decorative ribbons to prevent shoulder belts from slipping. The ribbons were often tied into a knot with the frayed ends left dangling around the upper arm, and various military units adopted the epaulette as a way to show rank within those units. Airline pilots use epaulettes in modern days to denote the rank of the crew member with captains wearing four gold bars, first officers wearing three, second officers, additional flight crew, and/or flight engineers wearing two, and third officers and/or trainees wearing a single bar. As one gains more experience in the air and attains certain credentials, additional bars may be added as one's rank increases.

Why am I talking about epaulettes on a hockey blog? What if I told you that there's a team that wore its captaincy designations on top of the shoulder as opposed to on the chest or front of the shoulder area?

Ok, the above question may not be entirely true. Normally, we see hockey teams designate their captains with a C, alternate captains with an A, and Russian captains for the Soviets with a K that is worn on the upper chest above the logo of the player's respective team. It seems, however, that Tarin Podloski, scoring sensation for the University of Alberta Pandas, played at least one game with her captaincy shown where one would normally wear an epaulette.
At first, I thought it could just be the capital "A" that the University of Alberta uses as a secondary logo, but if that were the case the "A" would be set to follow the sleeve with the point of the "A" pointing towards Podloski's head as opposed to the "A" facing the front of the jersey. With little other options for what the "A" could be, it seems that hr captaincy is indeed being worn on the shoulder!

Now this phenomenon might have only last for one game for Podloski since I can't find any other images of her wearing the "A" on her shoulder in this style. She has worn other jerseys with the secondary "A" logo on them in images I could find, but this one picture is all I could find with the alternate captaincy on the shoulder.

If anyone can confirm this happened for more than a game, a whole season, or some other length of time, leave comments - and photo evidence if possible! - below in the comments. Maybe I am wrong and this is supposed to be the "A" logo for the University of Alberta, but seeing how the pattern matches the diagonal "Pandas" word and the numbers on Podloski's jersey, I'm sticking with my guns on this one.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 23 March 2020

The Greater Good

Each day, I hold out hope that those who have the power to make the right decisions will exercise that power and make decisions that, while difficult in the short term, make good sense when considering the long-term effects. You could be mistaken for me writing about the government here, but I am, of course, writing about those who are in charge of hockey leagues that are still under the impression that finishing the 2019-20 season in some way, shape, or form is a good thing. Thankfully, the collective group of CHL President Dan MacKenzie and Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison made the right decision today in cancelling the CHL Playoffs in all three junior leagues and the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament.

The statement's important parts today read as follows,
"We have continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.

"With that in mind, CHL President Dan MacKenzie and Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison have made the difficult decision to cancel the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL playoffs, and along with the support of Kia Canada as the presenting sponsor, to cancel the 2020 Memorial Cup which was scheduled to be held in Kelowna, B.C., May 22-31, 2020."
With the biggest hockey minds now recognizing that hockey should be cancelled through the entire month of May - the IIHF cancelled the 2020 Men's World Championship two days ago - I have to ask why the NHL and AHL are still sticking to their guns over this season when everyone else has made the correct decision. As I stated on Saturday, the NHL and AHL are just being obstinate at this point, so I'm not sure why I'm even asking the question any longer.

For the first time in the 102-year history of the CHL, the Memorial Cup won't be awarded to a team so it's a pretty major step to take for the four leaders of Canadian junior hockey. Kelowna, who was scheduled to host the tournament this year, won't be getting a chance to host the tournament next as it moves to an OHL city nor in 2022 when it moves to a QMJHL city. There is a chance that they could be the hosts in 2023 when it returns to the WHL's realm, but that wasn't decided today by the CHL. The concert that was to be headlined by Brett Kissel during the Memorial Cup weekend was also cancelled in light of the announcement by the tournament's organizing committee.

Again, I applaud the heads of the CHL, WHL, OHL, and QMJHL for this decision. It may be unpopular now, but history will show that these four men made the right decision when it comes to the health of everyone involved, particularly the people of Kelowna, BC. Being wrong in terms of precautions with large events such as these puts no one at risk for any further spreading of the virus, so I am entirely in favour of being overcautious than not when it comes to controlling this pandemic. As much as I like hockey, hockey be damned in times such as these.

Dan MacKenzie, David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison are true leaders in hockey. They make tough decisions during adversity, and are willing to live with the consequences despite how it may look on the surface. If only we had leaders at the highest levels of professional hockey who would take the same approach and make the same decisions that will protect the very lives and well-being of the fans who keep them in business. Now that would be something.

You have my full support, Canadian Hockey League. Thank you for being great hockey leaders.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Peculiar Minor-League Name

While the Quebec Castors aren't the team in question here today, there was a peculiar name for one team in the Canadian-American Hockey League, the predecessor to the American Hockey League that we know today. The league operated in the northeastern United States for the most part from 1926 until 1940 when it became the AHL permanently, and the only Canadian entry to ever have played in the original league was the Castors to the left who existed from 1926 to 1928 and again from 1932 to 1935. For the first ten years of the league's existence, the league carried either five or six teams depending on what year one is referencing, but there was a team in Boston that were owned by the Bruins that we'll look at today because it seems the Bruins recognized the "minor" portion of minor-league hockey long before anyone else.

Here's the document where the peculiar name is found.
The purpose of said letter from the Boston Bruins was to inform Ron Lyons that his services with the club would no longer be necessary as the Bruins cut Ron "Peaches" Lyons after 14 games in the 1930-31 season after he scored zero points with the club. I'd also like to point out that Lyons was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1908, but that's just a small detail that has nothing to do with where I'd like to direct your attention.

If you look at the top right corner of the letter, you'll see this:
If you're reading that correctly, the Boston Bruins operated a team in the Canadian-American Hockey League known as the Boston Bruin Cubs! Being that they were one level down from the NHL, it's the first time I've seen an NHL club name its minor-league affiliate in a lesser name under its own brand!

I get that there are teams where lesser names are used colloquially - "baby Sens" for the Belleville Senators, for example - and that the Montreal Canadiens operated a team called the "Junior Canadiens", but the Junior Canadiens actually were a junior team in the Quebec Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey Association at times in their existence. Is Boston the only franchise in history to reference their minor-pro team as a baby version of the big club?

If you know of any teams that operated a minor-pro club as a "baby" version of itself, please let me know in the comments! I'm very curious to see if there's a team out there I haven't heard of, so do your best, readers!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Coming To Their Senses

After cancelling every other hockey tournament on their championship schedule, it was almost certain that the 2020 IIHF Men's World Hockey Championship, scheduled to take place in Zurich and Lausanne in May, would be cancelled as well. The IIHF wouldn't come out and say it immediately within their repeated announcements of cancellations, but it seemed like it was heading towards that ultimate fate as the situation in neighbouring Italy combined with the rest of the world's reactions to the coronavirus pandemic seemed to point to that very conclusion. In saying that, the IIHF Council confirmed today that the 2020 IIHF Men's World Hockey Championship would be cancelled based on the ongoing challenge the world is currently facing.

"This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept," IIHF President René Fasel stated today. "The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government bodies to combat its spread. The IIHF must do all it can to support this fight. We have to set sport aside for now and support both the government bodies and the ice hockey family."

Honestly, this is the right decision, albeit weeks later than it should have been made, and I'm hopeful that it prompts other major sports leaders to follow the IIHF's lead in just closing down the remainder of their seasons - hi, NHL! - in an effort to keep everyone safe. With one confirmed case of coronavirus already in NHL circles, this seems like it would be a no-brainer for a league that enjoys boasting about its billion-dollar industry, but that has yet to happen.

For those wondering, the first possible year for Switzerland to host the IIHF Men's World Championship after this year's cancellation would be 2025, and I'd expect that to happen just as Halifax and Truro were awarded the IIHF Women's World Championship next year after a special meeting by the IIHF council.

Look, I'm critical of anyone who puts profits over the safety of the very people from whom they want to profit, so expect me to take swipes at the NHL until Gary Bettman steps forward and does the right thing. The IIHF is now off that list after doing the right thing and ensuring the safety of everyone who would be involved in this tournament and all the extra pieces that go into the success of this tournament such as transportation, feeding, hosting, and a million other people with whom these fans, players, staff, officials, and volunteers will interact.

Common sense has finally reached the IIHF Council. There's still hope for these hockey czars with today's decision. I'm just hoping that it makes its way to the NHL Offices at some point because at this point, it seems the that league is just being obstinate.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 20 March 2020

'Twas Bound To Happen

I've had the pleasure of working from home since Wednesday, and things have been going well as far as work goes. I haven't run into very many things I can't do, so my dining room table is working well as my new work desk. The one major period of time that has seen me leave the house was last night when I went down to the University of Manitoba where the UMFM station offices are to produce another episode of The Hockey Show. On that note, things went very well, and I highly encourage you to check it out or any other episode we've done over on the Podcasts page.

It pleased me to see that the campus grounds were virtually a ghost town. It seems people are getting the message about staying home while the coronavirus epidemic plays out, and that's a good thing to both try and quell the spread of the virus and ensuring one's own safety in these times. Keep up the good work, Manitoba!

That being said, it seems the University of Manitoba is leaving nothing to chance with their announcement tonight following Premier Brian Pallister's lead in declaring a state of emergency for 30 days earlier today.
"Effective 11:59 pm, Monday, March 23, 2020, all university buildings will be closed with only limited access to employees deemed as essential to our work for the immediate future. The general public and students who are not in residence will not be able to access buildings on campus and staff and faculty members will need keys/swipe card/identification to enter."
For the record, UMFM is not considered "essential to our work" which means that The Hockey Show's illustrious radio voices will not be going in for next week's show. Yes, I know there are likely other shows you listen to on the station other than The Hockey Show, but you're likely one of the people who has tuned into The Hockey Show for five minutes before finding something else to which you can listen. For those that have stayed to listen a little longer, thank you for your listening support!

In all seriousness, though, I pledge to have a show ready for next Thursday because that's how we roll on The Hockey Show. I'll likely have to reschedule a few interviews in order to have time to edit the chats and submit them for broadcast, but I am still aiming to have the same great content we feature each and every week on the show.

As we previewed at the conclusion of this week's show, I'll sit down with Edmonton Pandas forward and legitimate hockey superstar Autumn MacDougall at a rescheduled time this week so her interview can be ready for Thursday. Assuming this all goes well, the next few weeks will be like this as the University of Manitoba will re-examine this closure on April 10th. I have coordinated with a few people for interviews already, and I'll continue booking interviews until things start to get closer to normal.

I respect the decision of the University of Manitoba to shut down as a precaution and to ensure public safety. We all have to make changes in this new reality, and The Hockey Show is going to have to adapt just like everyone else.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 19 March 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 391

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with a rather unique show. Neither myself nor Jason Pchajek, who is co-hosting tonight, are designers in any way, so when it comes to logos, designs, and other graphics, we base our opinions on what we like. Tonight, however, we're going to sit down with a gentleman whose design became a major piece of trivia in one team's history. If you read HBIC yesterday, you're already slightly ahead in the game!

Yesterday, I wrote a short piece on Wally the Whaler, the only physical mascot the Hartford Whalers ever had in their 18-year history. I had mentioned that I was trying to get in touch with a gentleman by the name of Richard Marzi whose resumé states that he designed Wally for the Whalers! Well, Jason and I will get our chance to discuss Wally with his creator as graphic designer Richard Marzi joins us on the show! We'll talk to Richard about Wally and how he came up with the design, his reaction to fans who seemingly hated the mascot, his thoughts on other mascots such as Gritty, and more! It should be a fun show in learning about a mascot whose history has been woefully underappreciated, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on UMFM!

Where's the best place can you hear the show 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 Jason meet Richard Marzi, the man behind Wally the Whaler, and get his thoughts on the mascot, the design process, other mascots, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: March 19, 2020: Episode 391

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Wally The Whaler

There are probably hundreds of stories surrounding the Hartford Whalers where tidbits of information has changed or been lost over the annals of time. From the change in logos to the introduction and re-imaging of Pucky the Whale, the history of the Whalers literally needs to written from start to finish with all the key players involved. And that includes this guy to the left known as Wally the Whaler who spent one season absorbing insults and hatred from Whalers fans before disappearing forever. Honestly, it's not a great mascot at first glance, but the fact that he lasted one year in 1992 and is the only known mascot for the Whalers during their existence makes Wally a detail that needs exploration.

Wally first appeared on the Hartford hockey season at the start of the 1991-92 season. If you recall, the Whalers had completed a rather soul-crushing trade with the Penguins at the 1991 trade deadline when they swapped Ron Francis, Grant Jennings, and Ulf Samuelsson for Zarley Zalapski, John Cullen, and Jeff Parker. With fans still sore in watching their hockey heroes win a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991, season-ticket sales were sluggish and attendance waned for the entire season. Introducing Wally didn't help as the fans immediately hated Wally. And this just wasn't your run-of-the-mill hate. They HATED him.

Ed Johnston, the general manager of the Whalers in 1991, held an inaugural "I Signed With the Whalers!" party in August 1991 for season-ticket holders and their guests where Wally was introduced to the 7500 fans in attendance. While no one seemed to notice Wally that night, it didn't help that the Whalers kept rolling Wally out all season while the team on the ice put together a horrid 26-41-13 season to finish 20th out of 22 NHL teams. As the team struggled and stumbled to their 15-games-below-.500 record, Wally was the face of that disappointment.

The thing about the internet in 1991 is that there is virtually no record of this hate and the frustration fans felt towards their team outside of a few short Reddit threads and a few mentions in an article by Steve Buckley on The Athletic despite a few of the details in Buckley's story being incorrect.

Mark Rankin told Buckley, "It definitely didn't bring anything forward as to what the Whalers were all about. It wasn't the Whalers. It wasn't hockey. I just don't know what they were going for there."

Mark Anderson seemed more surprised that Wally the Whaler still exists under the watch of Whalers fan Joanne Cortesa, telling Buckley, "I didn't know Joanne had Wally until today. I'm shocked. I figured that would have been burned at the stake a long time ago. The eyes were big and weird."

Matt Greene may have shown the most angst for Wally when he said, "It was awful. The ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life. Having seen it recently, up close and personal, it's even uglier. Doesn't seem very cuddly to kids."

Joanne, the keeper of Wally today, told Buckley, "I thought it was kinda cute. The only thing was it didn't seem to have anything to [do] with the Whale. I don't know who came up with that. It looked more like the Gorton's fisherman."

Now you, like Joanne, might be asking who designed Wally the Whaler before the fans revolted against the mascot. According to this resumé posted to his site, the man responsible for Wally is Richard Marzi! If you scroll to the bottom of the resumé to the Miscellaneous section, it reads, "Creator of 'Wally the Whaler' the mascot for the former Hartford Whalers NHL franchise"! I don't know Richard in any way, but you better believe I've reached out to him to see if he's willing to tell his side of the story! If and/or when Richard wants to talk, I'll post a follow-up with his interview!

After Ed Johnston was fired at the end of the 1991-92 season following that dismal campaign, he was replaced with Brian Burke prior to the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. While that draft produced a few notable names such as Robert Petrovicky, Andrei Nikolishin, and Jan Vopat, it was the moves made after the draft that maybe spelled the beginning of the end of the Whalers.

Burke was in charge when the Whalers changed the green-and-white jersey colours to the navy-blue-and-silver, when they axed the playing of Brass Bonanza following goals scored by the Whalers at the Hartford Civic Center, and when they unceremoniously retired Wally the Whaler without so much as a press release. That would be the last time anyone mentioned Wally the Whaler in Hartford as the team looked to find its way back into the win column more regularly.

With a proverbial snap of the fingers, Wally the Whaler was never seen again. That's the story of the only Hartford Whalers mascot to have physically occupied space in the Hartford Civic Center as far as I can dig up, but I'm hoping to hear more from his creator in Richard Marzi. Until that happens, our one year with Wally back in 1991-92 is all we have!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Patient Zero

I've actively tried to refrain from reporting on anything coronavirus-related on this blog unless it affects me directly with cancellations of events and/or broadcasts. I can get over cancelling hockey on TV because we do it all summer, and everyone needs a break once in a while. Sports are supposed to be a distraction, but it seems that one team had the reality and gravity of the coronavirus situation hit home as the Ottawa Senators announced tonight that one of their players tested positive for COVID-19, the first NHL player to do so. I won't downplay the seriousness of this announcement after the player showed mild symptoms because his interactions with others could have allowed the virus to spread, but it's time we come to terms with this entire pandemic.

The Senators player who tested positive has not been revealed, and I respect the efforts by the team and the NHL to allow this player a little privacy while he processes these results and seeks isolation so that he can limit his interactions with others. The remaining Senators players have been informed that they should continue to remain isolated to ensure their own health and the health of others, and other team staff have received the same message as a precaution.

If you're wondering how this player may have contracted the virus, the Senators did play in San Jose on March 7 when county health officials in San Jose were recommending against activities where large public masses could assemble. Santa Clara County Public Health shows that the outbreak was well underway in the county when the recommendation was made. At some point, the player in question must have crossed paths with one of the people who had the virus.

Let me be clear: there's no need for panic. Everyone is following the accepted protocol, the player has been quarantined, anyone he may have come in contact with is being notified, and the public has been told. As long as everyone is following the required steps and minimizing interactions as much as humanly possible, things will be fine. Be smart and be safe, right?

I know the NHL is examining a pile of possibilities at the moment of when to resume play and how to figure everything out, but I kind of want them to follow a number of other leagues' lead and just cancel the season. How can a hockey guy like me suggest that? It's rather easy - I'd rather start the 2020-21 season with no further chance of infection than rushing to simply award the Stanley Cup for whatever reason. If we can cancel the 1919 Stanley Cup Final over a pandemic, we can certainly do it in 2020 as well.

Until there's a vaccine, there's no guarantee that the Ottawa Senators player who tested positive won't be a carrier moving forward. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine,
The median incubation period was estimated to be 5.1 days (95% CI, 4.5 to 5.8 days), and 97.5% of those who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days (CI, 8.2 to 15.6 days) of infection. These estimates imply that, under conservative assumptions, 101 out of every 10 000 cases (99th percentile, 482) will develop symptoms after 14 days of active monitoring or quarantine.
Based on tonight's press release, if he contracted the virus in San Jose on March 7, that would be an approximate ten-day incubation period before he began showing "mild symptoms". If others had been infected before the player was tested, this is how we see these viruses spread as the incubation period will prolong the the timeframe of when we see the next infected person.

What I'm saying in all this is to be smart, do your part by self-isolating, and seek testing if you show symptoms. "Less is more" is a good phrase to use here as less interaction and contact with others is more precautionary and more effective in combating this pandemic. For whoever tested positive on the Senators, I hope you recover quickly back to full health.

Now if we could just get the NHL to use a little common sense in shutting down this season, we all might be better off for it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 16 March 2020

Family Fun With A First-Rounder

If you missed the constant advertising that they ran before it began, CBC has been airing an all-new Family Feud Canada, hosted by comedian Gerry Dee, in Canada during prime-time television. I hadn't been keeping up with the game show for any length of time, but the few weeknights plus tonight had my full attention with a family from Winnipeg on the program. There have been Winnipeg families before, but this one is a little special since the family has one member I know, one member I went to school with, and one former first-round NHL draft pick!

Matt is a good friend of my brother, and they see each other regularly through various activities. It was cool to see him giving answers on TV because he'd be the last guy I would have guessed had someone asked me which of my brother's friends would be on Family Feud. Great job, Matt!

The guy I went to school with is Curtis. Curtis and I were in the same grade from Grade Four right through to graduation from high school, and he seems to be the same fun-loving, goofy guy that he was back then. I'm extremely happy to see he's doing well, and his success on the show proves that his gregarious personality pays off! Nice job, Curtis!

The third guy I want to mention is Scott. Back in the day, Scott Kelman was a pretty good hockey player as he played WHL hockey for the Seattle Thunderbirds, Moose Jaw Warriors, and Tri-City Americans. After a solid 1998-99 season with the T-Birds, Kelman was selected 15th-overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft! Scott never appeared in the NHL, but suited up in the AHL, ECHL, and EIHL for a few teams before retiring in 2008-09. It's good to see Scott's doing well after all this time!

You may have skipped watching Family Feud Canada for whatever reason, and that's fine. If you want to see these three gentlemen I've mentioned, I'm going to do you a solid and post all three episodes they appeared on below. They had a pretty good run on the show, so check out their results in these broadcasts! Let's play the Feud!

UPDATE: I originally had the three episodes that the Ling family was on embedded here. It seems that YouTube shut down the account that was hosting them, so you're forced to click a link now to see the episodes. These links go to the CBC Gem site where you can watch the full episode.


I want to pass on my congratulations on the success the Lings had on Family Feud Canada! Hold onto that cash until this whole coronavirus stuff gets better, and then make that trip to Vegas like you want! Well done, gents!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 15 March 2020

The Rundown - Championship Weekend

Eight teams descended upon Charlottetown, PEI for the 2020 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship as one team looked to write their name into history with three-straight wins this weekend. The brackets had been set earlier in the week, so each team had a chance to prepare for their opening games along with a semifinal game if they advanced from the first game. Who would prevail and stand atop the mountain of the U SPORTS women's hockey world? Let's find out what went down in Charlottetown on this week's edition of The Rundown!

BRACKETS

Just a quick reminder for those that need it, here are the brackets.

THURSDAY - QUARTERFINALS

For the second-straight year, the tournament kicked off with an OUA-Canada West match-up as the second-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues faced off against the seventh-seeded Mount Royal Cougars. There were no surprises for either lineup as both teams fielded their best lineup. Erica Fryer got the start for the Varsity Blues while Kaitlyn Ross was back in the net for the Mount Royal Cougars.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This blog is entirely a Cougars blog for this weekend's recap, so settle in!

The first period saw both teams feel one another out as there were chances, but both Fryer and Ross were solid. For those looking for historic moments for Mount Royal, Anna Purschke officially recorded MRU's first-ever penalty at Nationals with a boarding call at 11:26 that was offset by a slashing penalty to Toronto's Taylor Trussler. Throughout the period, though, secondary chances were hard to find as both teams showed a commitment to defence - strengths which got them to Nationals - by clearing rebounds and blocking shots. Through 20 minutes, we'd remain tied at 0-0 with Toronto holding a slight edge in shots at 7-5.

With the teams seemingly have figured out the other, the second period saw less shots get to the two netminders as both Toronto and Mount Royal did a good job in blocking shots, limiting chances, and keeping pucks to the outside. Toronto had a full power-play that went unsuccessful before Mount Royal received an late, abbreviated power-play, but we'd move to the third period still tied at 0-0 with Toronto up 13-9 in shots.

The Toronto power-play would finally give them the advantage they needed midway through the final frame.
Gabrielle de Serres passed the puck to the top of the umbrella where Cristine Chao's shot was stopped by Ross, but Gabriella de Serres was on the doorstep to chip the puck past the glove of Ross to put the Varsity Blues up 1-0 at 10:25! That lead would be short-lived, however, as Mount Royal stormed back just 1:39 later as Camryn Amundson recorded the first-ever Mount Royal Cougars goal at Nationals at 12:04 off a feed from Kate Scidmore to tie the game at 1-1! Both teams would settle down after the goals were scored as this game went back into lockdown mode for the final eight minutes, and we'd need overtime in the opening game at the 2020 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship!

The ten-minute overtime period kicked off with a chance for the Varsity Blues that Ross turned aside. Mount Royal regrouped, headed back down the ice in the Toronto zone, and this happened.
Tianna Ko hit Daria O'Neill with the pass as she pinched in past her check, and O'Neill spotted Tatum Amy wide open heading towards the back post. One tape-to-tape pass later, and Amy had the first-ever game-winning, overtime goal by a Mount Royal Cougar at the Nationals as the Cougars advanced to the semifinal with a 2-1 overtime victory! Kaitlyn Ross records the first-ever win at Nationals by a Cougars goalie by stopping 18 of 19 shots she faced while Erica Fryer suffered the overtime loss after stopping 15 shots.

Mount Royal will advance to Saturday where they will face the winner of the StFX-Montreal game while Toronto will move to the consolation side of the bracket where they'll face the losing squad between StFX-Montreal.

The high-scoring machine known as the third-seeded StFX X-Women faced off against the sixth-seeded Montreal Carabins in the evening game on Thursday. This game looked like a huge mismatch based on stats, but they play the games for a reason! Jamie Johnson was in the net for the X-Women while the Carabins started Maude Trevisan for this game.

U SPORTS Player of the Year Tyra Meropoulis opened the scoring 10:23 into this game as she beat Trevisan high with a shot to put the X-Women up 1-0! Montreal would respond 1:21 later while on the power-play as Annabel Faubert found the back of the net through a screen in front of Johnson to tie the game at 1-1! Montreal would get a second power-play in the frame that StFX would kill off, and we'd head into the intermission tied 1-1 with the shots tied at 6-6.

With no scoring in the second period, Montreal would use the power-play once more to take their first lead of the night at 6:42 of the third period when Marie-Pier Dubé cleaned up a rebound off a Faubert shot, and les Carabins held the improbable 2-1 lead! As time ticked down on a second potential upset, the X-Women pulled Johnson for the extra attacker and it paid off as Lea MacLeod found Lydia Schurman in the slot, and Schurman buried the puck behind Trevisan with 41 seconds to play, sending this game to overtime tied at 2-2!

In the extra period of hockey, this happened.
Lydia Schurman found Kate Gotaas wide open, and her quick shot fooled Trevisan enough to get behind the netminder to give the X-Women the 3-2 overtime victory! Jamie Johnson picked up the win for StFX with a 27-save performance while Maude Trevisan was on the losing end of the overtime game despite making 20 saves in the game.

With the win, StFx moves onto Saturday where they'll play Mount Royal while Montreal moves to the consolation side of the bracket where they'll meet Toronto on Saturday as well.

CRISIS CONTROL

As the X-Women were in the midst of celebration following their win, U SPORTS leaders were in meetings with Hockey Canada over the concerns of the coronavirus outbreak and how to control further spread of the virus. Shortly thereafter, U SPORTS called a meeting with all of the coaches in Charlottetown and informed them of the decision: the 2020 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship would be cancelled.

I wrote on Friday how U SPORTS was full-steam ahead in the middle of the afternoon before doing a complete 180-degree turn and cancelling the tournament following an announcement by Hockey Canada that it was cancelling all Hockey Canada-sanctioned tournaments which included pulling its officials from all events. Because Hockey Canada was supplying officials to the National Championship, their officials were out. Because Hockey PEI is a Hockey Canada member, they too would not be able to replace the officials. With no officials to work any games, there were zero options to keep the National Championship going.

And that's when we all became Sadness.

Look, I get the reasons for cancelling the tournament in order to control any spread of the coronavirus, but, as I wrote in the linked article above, Hockey Canada's timing couldn't be worse after allowing four teams to play, hundreds of fans to file in and out of the rink, and infinite interactions between players, fans, volunteers, coaches, staff, and officials at the tournament. Further to that, I still have a hard time believing that they'd be fine with the men's tournament happening in Halifax after cancelling the 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship in the same city one week earlier.

This is not how the hockey careers of a number of remarkable women should end. The graduating players and players who have used up their eligibility this season will not get another shot at winning a national championship, and that's simply heartbreaking. Again, I get the public safety concern, but I am truly heartbroken for the women who won't get a shot at etching their name into U SPORTS history. It should not end like this.

HONOUR THEM

Because of the decision to cancel this tournament, I feel the fifth-year players on each of these teams deserve special mention after they helped their teams to the pinnacle of the sport before having the carpet pulled out from underneath them. Here are the fifth-year players from each of the teams who traveled to Charlottetown for the 2020 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship.

The Alberta Pandas featured seven fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

Those players are Cayle Dillon, Autumn MacDougall, Alex Poznikoff, Regan Wright, Abby Benning, Danielle Hardy, and Alex Gowie.

The Toronto Varsity Blues featured three fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

They are Larissa Borowiec, Jessica Robichaud, and Cristine Chao.

The StFX X-Women featured just one fifth-year player at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

That player is Lydia Schurman.

The McGill Martlets featured four fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

Those fifth-year players are Zoe Todd, Shana Walker, Nicole Howlett, and Emma Cotter.

The York Lions featured three fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

Those players are Erin Locke, Sarah Power, and Eva Hall.

Les Carabins de Montreal featured three fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

They are Alexandra Labelle, Kim Poirier, and Catherine Dubois.

The Mount Royal Cougars featured three fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

Those players are Daria O'Neill, Kate Hufnagel, and Kennedy Bozek.

The UPEI Panthers featured two fifth-year players at the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.

They are Gabrielle Gray and Rachel Colle.

If you'll notice, I specifically put their names in gold for a reason you'll see below.

DROWNING IN THE STREAM

I'll say this only once because I am hopeful that it will get better, but if CBC accepts the video streams they put out as being "championship quality," we have a lot to talk about when it comes to future championships they'll cover. I'm grateful they're broadcasting these national tournaments for free because there are a ton of amazing athletes that deserve to be seen on a national platform, but the buffering, the pixelation, and the overall quality of the streams has to improve quickly for this agreement with CBC to be remotely feasible for U SPORTS to continue.

You're better than this, CBC. Get your act together.

THE LAST WORD

With U SPORTS announcing that 2020 will be the first year in U SPORTS Women's Hockey history that they will not award the championship, I'm grabbing a hold of the reins and steering this entire ordeal into a better direction. These teams are the best of the best teams we have to offer at university-level women's hockey, so there's no reason why we shouldn't award them the honour of wearing that crown for the next year.

In saying that, I, a writer with zero authority or power to do anything like this, am awarding an eight-way split of the Golden Path Trophy to be shared by all eight teams in Charlottetown, allowing the 26 women who will never compete for the trophy and glory again a chance to go out golden rather than leaving the feeling like they had their last chances stolen from them.

Don't even bring up any sort of debate over this, either. The 26 women listed above will never get a chance to compete for their schools again, and through no fault of their own will they ever get a chance to hoist the Golden Path Trophy again. They deserve to be honoured for their five years of efforts in helping their teams be part of the best eight teams in the nation, and they deserve to go out on top if that opportunity was taken away from them by something out of their control.

"Yeah, but Teebz," I hear you saying, "both Toronto and Montreal lost!"

Save that rhetoric. Four teams played, four teams didn't. In the end, the net result for all teams is zero since none of the wins matter. Yes, it's important to recognize that both Mount Royal and StFX scored victories at this tournament which is why I led off this article with them, but those wins netted them the same result as all four teams who didn't play and the two teams they defeated. If wins and losses are considered equal by the end result of this tournament, then everyone gets a chance to share in the National Championship victory equally regardless of outcomes. It doesn't make their victories any less significant since both will be footnotes when historians look back on this year's championship, but awarding the championship to all eight teams validates the hard work, the sacrifices, the teamwork, and the efforts they gave all season long to reach this point.

It is said that champions learn to deal with and overcome adversity. Eight teams were prepared to determine which of the teams was the best in Canadian women's university hockey this weekend before they were forced to stop playing by factors outside of their controls. This off-ice adversity is something the world is grappling with at the moment, so let's do the right thing here by awarding these final eight teams the highest honour in the land to be shared equally.

Congratulations to the Alberta Pandas, the Toronto Varsity Blues, the StFX X-Women, the McGill Martlets, the York Lions, les Carabins de Montreal, the Mount Royal Cougars, and the UPEI Panthers in being this writer's co-winners of the 2020 Golden Path Trophy as the U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Champions!

With that, we're done for another year at the university level for hockey. It's been an incredible year where teams surprised us, upsets happened, victories were seen, players set records, freshmen showed their moxie, goalies stole games, and one worldwide pandemic derailed the biggest tournament. I don't know if there will ever be another year quite like 2020 when it comes to U SPORTS women's hockey, but I'm already looking forward to next season's action!

To all players and, specifically, those 26 players listed above, hold your heads high. I know my chatter about awarding the trophy doesn't actually cure the disappointment and anger over the decisions made by U SPORTS and Hockey Canada, but I do know that you're some of the most amazing athletes and hockey players I've been grateful to cover over your illustrious careers. I want to thank you for making my weekends more entertaining with your play, for making your communities better with your generous and incredible charitable and grassroots work, and for making your schools proud through all your efforts both on and off the ice and in the classroom. I'm hopeful our paths will cross again in the future.

Enjoy your summers, folks, and thanks for reading all season long!

Until next season, keep your sticks on the ice!