Thursday, 21 October 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 474

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight after having been in a hockey arena over the past weekend! Being back in the rink was only part of the fun as you'll hear tonight, but it was far too long between stints in the broadcast booth at Wayne Fleming Arena. The happenings on the ice were exciting and fun as well, so let's get things going on this episode of The Hockey Show!

Tonight, Teebz is joined by Jason Pchajek as they go over all the scores from the opening week of Canada West men's and women's hockey to start the show after making their broadcast debuts last weekend! From upsets to surprises to teams figuring themselves out, there were all sorts of storylines that began the 2021-22 season, and our hosts will examine what they may mean in the longer term. Beyond that, they question the importance of a U SPORTS Top-Ten list for men's hockey when a number of teams have yet to step on the ice, they dive into the Evander Kane suspension and situation with respect to the Sharks and Kane himself, they discuss a rather crazy idea put forth by a Vancouver company who wants to implement on-ice tracking of players in minor hockey, and they close out the show with a fun announcement about Bisons women's hockey on October 29 and 30! It's another show with great discussion between the two hosts, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's 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, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to! 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 break down scores, upsets, headaches, heartbreaks, crazy ideas, pure craziness, a fun announcement, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: October 21, 2021: Episode 474

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Are You Kidding Me?

If you've been following this blog over the last week or so, you know that Canada West hockey kicked off this past weekend with a full slate of games. Teams were travelling, games were played, goals were scored, and everyone had fun as Canada West became the second conference to get underway. The AUS has already been playing games for more than a week out in the Maritimes, and the OUA gets underway this weekend with a full slate of games as well. Needless to say, hockey is finally back at Canadian universities across the country!

That leads me to ask how U SPORTS already produced this image.
If you're reading that Top Ten list correctly, there are five teams on there who have yet to play a single second of hockey. None of the four Ontario teams have stepped on the ice for regular season play yet, and the Saskatchewan Huskies had the Canada West bye week this past weekend. I'm pretty sure the Canada West adminstrators aren't comedians on the side, but publishing a Top-Ten Men's Hockey list with five teams who haven't played is a farce.

In my mind, there is no doubt that both Alberta and Saskatchewan men's hockey programs will be good. I think that UBC's men's hockey program is woefully underappreciated considering what they did last season, but they'll have to earn a spot in that Top Ten weekly through good play. UNB is a powerhouse, and they've been proving that they're one of the best by dispatching Acadia by a 4-1 score last Wednesday.

Why is this important? St. Francis-Xavier, aka StFX, has already defeated Acadia once this season as they downed the Axemen by a 2-1 score on October 9. Acadia and StFX meet again tonight, and there's a very good chance that Acadia, if they lose to the X-Men again, will no longer be in the Top Ten whenever the next one comes out. It should also be noted that StFX hosts UNB on Friday, and that could play a major factor as to where both those teams appear on the next Top Ten publication.

With Alberta having the bye week next week and both Saskatchewan and UBC resuming their Week Two schedules, all of that will factor into where those teams appear on the list as well. The OUA? They won't begin play until Wednesday, November 3 when Concordia hosts McGill while Queen's welcomes RMC to their arena.

This is why the Top Ten list seen on the U SPORTS site today is a complete sham. We won't have any idea of where some of these teams are in terms of their talent until November, yet U SPORTS had to publish this for some inexplicable reason. In saying that, folks, if you're a fan of any of these teams on the Top Ten list I suggest you take this list with a number of grains of salt. If you're a fan of a team that isn't mentioned, I would suggest that you be patient because this list could change dramatically before the OUA teams play their first games.

For those asking, the U SPORTS women's hockey Top Ten will be published on November 3. At least whoever in the U SPORTS office that is looking after women's hockey realizes that there should be a few weeks of play before we start anointing the best teams in the land.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Welcoming The West

Monday saw a big announcement on the local hockey front as Portage la Prairie, Manitoba will get set to host the four provincial teams this December in an effort to play a U18 Nationals-like tournament for the young women on those provincial teams! After the U18 National Tournament was cancelled in BC due to pandemic cautiousness, the four provincial hockey governing bodies got together to discuss a more regional tournament - the 2021 Western Regional Women's Under-18 Championship - which will happen November 1-6 in Manitoba!

If you're looking at your calendar and thinking, "Those dates aren't far off," you're right in that teams need to be prepared to get to Manitoba and compete in this event. The reason this works so well in Portage la Prairie is that the MJHL's Portage Terriers are off on a road trip for most of that event's schedule, so having the U18 women play that week is far easier than trying to wedge games in before Terriers games or some other solution.

There is one conflict - November 5 - but that will likely be a day off for the four teams. The tournament will be a four-team round-robin preliminary round before all four teams find their places in the standings which will determine who plays whom in the medal round. November 1-3 appears to be the days where the preliminary round would take place, and November 4 would likely be the semi-final games before the day off and having the medals awarded on November 6. I could be wrong about the scheduling, but this makes the most sense if the Terrier are going to have a morning skate at Stride Center on Friday.

While it's not going to include the rest of the country, having these four teams participate in a more regional tournament will still allow teams to scout players after the entire season was wiped out one year ago by the pandemic. There are players who already have homes for next season, but there are a large number of teams needing to fill roster spots next year and beyond while a number of players at this tournament are looking for post-secondary schooling options.

If you're a Manitoba Bisons fan, you'll get to see all three recruits that the Bisons have signed playing with Team Manitoba at this tournament. Balmoral Hall's Dana Goertzen and Winnipeg Avros' Norah Collins will both skate as Team Manitoba forwards while Yellowhead Chiefs' Louise Fergusson will be on the Manitoba blue line for this tournament. Manitoba also boasts Balmoral Hall forward Kara Yackell who will play with Trinity Western next season, Winnipeg Avros forward Courtenay Bayes who has committed to the OUA's York Lions, and Winnipeg Ice forward Maia Ehmann who will join the Alberta Pandas next season, so this might be a good tournament to watch if you want to see the future starts of U SPORTS hockey!

Team BC rolled out their squad on Monday, and they'll have Okanagan Hockey Academy and future OUA Windsor Lancers netminder Cadence Petitclerc-Crosby will tend the nets at the 2021 Western Regional Women's Under-18 Championship. Bisons fans will want to note that BC's assistant coach is none other than former Bisons legend Venla Hovi as she's currently working as a coach at the Okanagan Hockey Academy, so it'll be good to see her back in the province as well!

Team Alberta will boast Edmonton Pandas and future NCAA Ohio State Buckeyes forward Emerson Jarvis, Pandas forward and future UBC Thunderbird Jacquelyn Fleming, and current Lloydminster Steelers and future AUS Saint Mary's Huskies netminder Ridleigh Hansen as some of the key players on their squad. Alberta always brings good teams to every tournament with players who have the potential to be impact players at the university level, so this is a team you may watch to catch in person.

Team Saskatchewan will also feature some future university stars as Saskatoon Stars and future AUS Saint Mary's Huskies defender Marisa McClocklin and Regina Rebels and future Mount Royal Cougars forward Allee Gerrard are among the assembled for the rectabgular province. It should be noted that Saskatchewan Huskies legends Robin Ulrich and Kori Herner will be on the bench as assistant coaches for Team Sask, and this team appears to be in very good hands!

Needless to say, the university hockey star power in this tournament is already high with future and former stars in attendance, and there's a better than good chance that a number of these young ladies will be noticed by other programs who are looking for their next stars as well!

While TV packages haven't been announced yet, I assume some streaming service will be carrying this event live. As much as I'd love to be involved with UMFM as the radio broadcaster, we're already booked on November 5-6 as the Regina Cougars will be visiting the Manitoba Bisons that weekend, so Kyleigh Palmer and I will be in Winnipeg as the 2021 Western Regional Women's Under-18 Championship plays out in Portage la Prairie. We will commit to bringing everyone updates on the broadcasts, though, as we kind of have a vested interest in these games!

It's good to have the U18 ladies back on the ice and playing meaningful games for their provincial teams. It would have been an eternity between games for these squads had they cancelled everything again this season, so I'm happy that Hockey Manitoba, Hockey Saskatchewan, Hockey Alberta, and BC Hockey came together and got this done! Get out to Portage la Prairie when you can to cheer on the ladies!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 18 October 2021

"I Am Not a Role Model"

It's hard not to laugh at Evander Kane's recent string of trouble in and outside of the NHL. I'm not going to bring up the details of his personal life here, but the 21-game suspension he received today from the NHL regarding his violation of the NHL's COVID-19 protocols is just another test for the patience of the San Jose Sharks, his teammates and coaches, and fans of the team. You would think that he'd straighten himself out after filing for bankruptcy and having his personal life turned upside down, but it seems pretty clear that Evander Kane only answers to Evander Kane, and anyone else who tries to impose their rules - including societal rules - will have no effect on the petulant NHL player.

Due to the various investigations the NHL was doing regarding Kane's off-ice problems this summer, it led him to skip training camp with the Sharks and to miss the opening game of the season against the Winnipeg Jets. For some of his teammates who expressed displeasure with Kane's overall attitude in and around this dressing room, this may have been a blessing in disguise, but his new suspension will now keep himm away from the team, the rink, and team facilities until November 30. When it comes to winning a Stanley Cup, one would want their leading scorer in the lineup, but Kane has made decisions that will prevent that from happening.

Will we see that unhappiness expressed by his teammates turn to anger over Kane's latest revelation?

If you missed the announcement, Kane was suspended for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card to the NHL and the Sharks regarding the NHL's requirement for players to conform to the COVID-19 protocols this season. Players who have refused to be quarantined have been sent to the AHL or worse for their refusals due to the fact that quarantine rules for crossing the Canada-US border is still in place. Any player not vaccinated would be required to quarantine for fourteen days upon entering Canada without proper vaccination documentation.

The irony is that San Jose is in Montreal on Tuesday, and Kane would have been required to show proof of vaccination to cross the border or face quarantine restrictions. I can't say whether the Canadian border services officers would have reviewed Kane's vaccination documentation directly, but there's a good chance that they would have detected that it was fake if they did. The egg on the face of the NHL, the Sharks, and Evander Kane had that happened would not have been something the NHL nor the Sharks would want. Kane, it seems, doesn't care.

I started this article at the top with Charles Barkley's famous line from a 1993 Nike commercial because we often elevate professional athletes as icons we should strive to be like. Barkley's commercial was about Barkley emphasizing that parents should be good role models for their kids whereas athletes could be admired, but weren't obligated to set the standards for which any child should follow. At the time, NBA Commissioner David Stern didn't like the message being delivered, and NBA star Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz "told 'Sports Illustrated' that NBA players were chosen as role models and that each person simply had the choice to be a good one or a bad one."

Perhaps this is where it should be pointed out that, for as talented as Evander Kane is on skates, his off-ice behaviour is something far different and he has chosen, in the words of Karl Malone, to be a bad role model. Whether it be his financial crisis, his personal life crumbling, his repeated and well-documented issues of not being a good teammate, or making a decision to purchase and submit a fake vaccination document to the NHL and the San Jose Sharks, Evander Kane's off-ice behaviour is something no one should be idolizing.

Twice in his career, Kane has told reporters that he could score 50 goals in a season - a total to which he has never been close - or that "40 or 50" goals was "doable". To date, Kane's best season for lighting the lamp season saw him score 30 - 2011-12 with the Jets and 2018-19 with the Sharks - as he still seeks those "40 or 50" goals in one season.

It's fairly evident that Kane has the skill to be an elite goal scorer in the NHL with his talent as he hasn't scored less than 20 goals in any season since 2015-16. He was likely on pace to break his 30-goal high last season had the NHL had a full 82-game schedule, so it's clear that Kane has the ability needed to be an elite scorer at the NHL level and that skill should have "Kane #9" jerseys flying off shelves.

Instead, Kane's erratic, questionable, and often bizarre behaviour off the ice has caused a lot of teammates, coaches, teams, and fans to sour on him as they look for him to lead in a positive manner, not how we've seen the last 24 months play out in his life. In reading the suspension announcement today, Kane will forfeit $1.68 million in salary that will only do further harm to his ability to repay mounting debts owed to various sources, and I can't help but think that a lot of the off-ice problems Kane has been dealing with have been self-inflicted only to be made worse by actions taken after the initial problems were presented.

Whatever happens in Evander Kane's career going forward, it's pretty clear that any conversation surrounding the sniper's talent will always be tarnished with stories of his off-ice problems. And maybe the lesson we, as fans, need to take away from Kane's situation is that athletes aren't required to be good role models for anyone. We expect them to be, but there's absolutely no reason they have to be.

Whether it be Evander Kane, Kyrie Irving, or Cole Beasley, their choices regarding vaccinations don't affect their play in their respective sports, but it does affect the well-being of their teammates, coaches, staff, and fans who may interact with them. They're welcome to hold whatever beliefs or theories they want about the vaccine, but good role models wouldn't be spouting off conspiracy theories nor turning in fake vaccine documents instead of getting the vaccine.

Even if Evander Kane is fully vaccinated as per the NHL's mandate for playing in the NHL this year, his decision to submit fake vaccination documents not only calls into question about the validity of his vaccination status, but it also calls into question his intelligence. And while no one is saying that NHL players have to be MENSA candidates, most of them are smart enough not to lie to their employers who are paying them millions of dollars to play a sport.

Kane's decision to lie to the Sharks and to the NHL is indefensible, and his apology for doing so rings hollow due to the fact that he got caught. He isn't sorry to anyone for doing what he did; rather, he's sorry he got caught which has put his career in jeopardy once again. At what point do people stop forgiving Evander Kane for his selfish, stupid decisions and start demanding better from him? At what point do the Sharks and the NHL finally say "enough's enough" to Evander Kane regarding this trouble trend of idiotic decisions that lead to rather embarrassing consequences for all involved?

Kane will sit for 21 games before returning to the Sharks. His future is anything but guaranteed in San Jose at this point, but it seems that the Sharks will re-assess Kane's status once the suspension is over. One of the conditions that I'd put on Evander Kane would be to start each and every interview with Charles Barkley's famous words.

Evander Kane is not a role model.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 17 October 2021

The Rundown - Week 1

It has been so long that I needed to sweep the dust off The Rundown images and setup, but we're finally back as Canada West women's hockey is back in session! There are new teams that will change the landscape, there's a team gone and we'll pay tribute to them, and there were eight teams in action while one watched for the very first "bye week" for some time. Needless to say, The Rundown has all sorts of stuff to discuss, so let's get to it for the first time in 581 days!

FRIDAY: The top two teams in the Canada West coaches' poll results met in Edmonton to open the season as the visiting Mount Royal Cougars headed north to meet the Alberta Pandas. These two teams played the final games in Canada West in 2019-20 as they met for the Canada West title, so starting with them seems entirely appropriate as they renew their rivalry this season. Veteran Cougars netminder Zoe De Beauville got the start for Mount Royal while Halle Oswald got the nod for the Pandas.

The first period saw these two teams looking for cracks in the other's defensive system, but neither would yield many opportunities. Mount Royal did has a power-play just before the midway point of the period, but Oswald and the Alberta penalty-killers stood tall against the Cougars. After one period of play, the score remained 0-0 with Alberta leading 6-4 in shots on net.

The second period saw Mount Royal come out far more aggressive as they put more pucks on the Alberta net, and they'd be rewarded early as Courtney Kollman kept on a two-on-one, and she wired a shot past Oswald to put the Cougars up 1-0 at the 4:55 mark! But, as we know, visiting teams winning at Clare Drake Arena happens as often as leap years, and Alberta wouldn't let that goal stand. Madison Willan would find the twine behind De Beauville at 15:36 of the second period, and we'd head to the final period locked in a 1-1 battle with Mount Royal leading in shots 13-11.

Mount Royal came out in third period with guns a-blazing as they fired pucks from everywhere at Oswald, but the Alberta netminder was equal to the task on all 15 attempts. Alberta put six shots on De Beauville, but none of those would find the back of the net either, so we were off to our first overtime game of the season!

In the first extra frame, there were no goals with four-on-four play, so we'd move to the three-on-three period where we'd find a winner! Natalie Kieser's initial shot was stopped by De Beauville, but Tori Williams couldn't flip it by Madison Willan who picked up the puck, skated to the De Beauville's right before feeding a wide-open Kieser on the backdoor who tapped it into the yawning cage for the 2-1 Pandas overtime win! Halle Oswald records the win in the opening game of the season with a 29-save performance while Zoe De Beauville suffers the overtime loss despite making 18 stops.

Highlights from this game are below, and I should note that Kieser's goal was her first of her Canada West career along with being the first overtime goal of her career and the first game-winner of her career! Congratulations, Natalie!

SATURDAY: Despite both teams earning points one night earlier, it's doubtful either would be happy with not earning a full three points. They'd get a chance to meet that challenge as they reconvened on Saturday for the second-half of this two-game set at Clare Drake Arena. Kaitlyn Ross of the Cougars would square off against Kirsten Chamberlin of the Pandas in a rematch of the goaltenders who played for the Canada West final last season, so this might be another low-scoring affair knowing how they played the last time they met.

Mount Royal decided that they weren't going to wait in this game for scoring as Tatum Amy opened the game with a goal just 34 seconds in, and MRU was off and running with a 1-0 lead! Both teams showed some better offence in this first period compared to the night before as the period progressed, but we'd head into the break tied at 1-1 after Alberta evened the game at 14:39 when Madison Willan centered a puck to Danica Namaka, and the rookie forward notched her first career goal for the Pandas!

I'm not exactly sure about the reason, but the Pandas came back out with Halle Oswald in the net as Kirsten Chamberlin was on the bench. Regardless, the game pressed on as Oswald settled in. Chances were had at both ends, but we'd see the stalemate broken at 15:47 mark when Tianna Ko picked off an Alberta pass coming out from behind the net and threw a backhand shot on Oswald that she stopped, but Aliya Jomha was in the right spot to bang home the rebound for her first Canada West goal! That lead would only last for 2:05, though, as Alberta used a power-play to even the score when Grace Tam's shot from the faceoff dot on the left side beat a screened Kaitlyn Ross to make it 2-2 and her first Canada West goal and power-play goal! That score would hold through the break, and we'd go to the third period with the teams looking for a winner!

Despite Mount Royal outshooting Alberta 7-6 in the third period, neither team would find the back of the net. That trend would continue through the first overtime period, and it would happen again in the second overtime period. That means we needed a shootout to determine a winner in this game!

Tianna Ko and Madison Willan would both be stopped. Courtney Kollman and Natalie Kieser would be denied. Aliya Jomha and Danica Namaka were stopped in Round Three. However, after Madison Willan was stopped for a second time, Breanne Trotter found room past Oswald for the shootout winner as Mount Royal prevails 3-2 over Alberta! Kaitlyn Ross earned the win with 27 saves and four more in the shootout while Halle Oswald takes the shootout loss after replacing Chamberlin despite stopping 21 shots in regulation time.

Highlights are below, but I have to ask why Alberta cut the highlight reel during the Breanne Trotter shootout attempt? Get it together, Alberta. This isn't just a Pandas highlight reel.

FRIDAY: It's always exciting to have a brand-new interprovincial rivalry join the conference, and this UBC-Trinity Western rivalry should be fierce with the universities less than an hour apart in distance. It should be noted that Trinity Western may not be as strong as UBC at this very moment, but the rivalry will grow after this weekend. Game One of this new battle saw Reese Hiddleston start for the Thunderbirds while the Spartans went with Mabel Maltais in their first Canada West game ever!

The first period saw the ice slanted towards the TWU end as UBC outshot the Spartans 9-2 in the opening frame. Maltais, however, was good on all nine shots as the Thunderbirds couldn't solve her. Hiddleston wasn't tested often, but she too stopped both shots she faced. Through one period, the two BC teams remained tied at 0-0.

History was made at 2:51 of the second period when a neutral zone UBC turnover led to a two-on-oh for Trinity Western. Jordyn Matthews initial shot was stopped, but Ashlee Wolfe chipped in the rebound past Hiddleston, and Trinity Western had their first-ever Canada West goal in history as they took the 1-0 lead! The jubilation would last all of 24 seconds, though, as the UBC power-play struck when the pinching Rylind MacKinnon chipped a rebound with one hand past Maltais to even the game at 1-1! UBC would use a second power-play to add another goal later in the period as MacKinnon centered a pass to Mackenzie Kordic, and she fired home a power-play marker at 16:53 to give the T-Birds a 2-1 lead! That one-goal lead would stand as the period ended with UBC leading 21-13 in shots.

The third period saw chances for TWU, but they couldn't beat Hiddleston. At the other end, UBC used another power-play to add to their lead as Kenzie Robinson on the backdoor finished off a gorgeous passing play from Chanreet Bassi and Joelle Fiala at 8:23 to give UBC the 3-1 advantage. That score would hold on a night where the two teams combined for 19 penalties, 28 penalty minutes, and 17 total power-plays as UBC wins the season-opening game on this rivalry by the 3-1 score. Reese Hiddleston made 17 saves for her first Canada West victory while Mabel Maltais stopped 29 shots in the loss.

Highlights of this game, including every angle from every corner of the arena of each goal, are below as it appears Trinity Western is using a dozen cameras for coverage this season!

SATURDAY: As you know if you've read one of these recaps before, The Rundown never celebrates blowouts out of respect for the team and its players who suffer a long, unhappy night. With that foreshadowing posted above, you likely know what happened in Game Two of this home-and-home series as the Spartans visited UBC on Saturday night. Kate Fawcett got the start for TWU while Elise Hugens was in the blue paints for the Thunderbirds.

The first period seemed pretty similar to the night before as UBC put up a ten shots to TWU's two shots, but all those shots amounted to little as Fawcett stopped them all. Hugens denied both pucks sent her way, so we'd go to the second period with these two teams locked in a 0-0 battle for the second-straight night.

The puck was dropped for the second period, and that's when the wheels came off for the Spartans. UBC scored six times on 14 shots as they showed TWU no mercy. Jenna Fletcher scored at 1:56, Chanreet Bassi scored at 5:17, Rylind MacKinnon added a power-play goal at 10:52, Bassi scored her second at 14:02, Emily Moore put her first career Canada West goal and the fifth UBC goal on the board at 15:19, and Ireland Perrott rounded out the second period goal-scoring party by adding her marker at 19:25. Needless to say, this game got away from Trinity Western as they were down 6-0 after 40 minutes.

UBC would add a pair of goals in the third period - Mackenzie Kordic at 1:25 and Sophia Gaskell scored her first Canada West goal at 10:25 - as this game was all Thunderbirds in the 8-0 victory. Elise Hugens made 13 stops for her first Canada West win and first Canada West shutout while Kate Fawcett was in the net for all eight goals as she stopped 24 shots in the loss.

UBC has yet to post highlights from the game at the time of writing this article, so I have no highlights to occupy this spot. Get it together, UBC. I get that you're on the left coast, but these highlights need to be posted sooner than later for Canada West hockey fans!

FRIDAY: The first-ever Canada West regular season game hosted by the MacEwan Griffins saw the Regina Cougars come to town! MacEwan comes into Canada West having won three-straight ACAC championships and was on the verge of a fourth-straight banner before the COVID-19 pandemic ended that playoff series, so there was lots of anticipation to see how MacEwan would fare against Canada West competition in the regular season after going 0-6-1 in the preseason. Regina posed a stiff test as they were one of the teams to defeat MacEwan in the preseason! Arden Kliewer was named as the starter for the Cougars while Natalie Bender was given her first Canada West start on this night!

We may want to forgive these two teams for settling into a defensive effort, but the first period saw all shots denied as Kliewer made eight saves while Bender turned away 12 shots. There were certainly chances as both teams found spaces, but the goaltenders were up to the challenge in the opening frame as we'd move to the second period deadlocked at 0-0.

Kliewer and Bender weren't interested in any goals being scored in the second period either as they blanked all shooters they say - Kliewer with another 12 saves while Bender turned away seven shots. With MacEwan leading 20-19 in shots through two periods, it's pretty evident there were scoring chances, including the three power-plays for each team in the second period, but the goaltenders were the story through 40 minutes of play.

The third period, though, was different. Raea Gilroy opened the scoring for Regina after Lilla Carpenter-Boesch fed her in the slot from behind the net, and Gilroy's first Canada West goal at 8:02 put the Cougars up 1-0. They'd double their lead when Heather Fiske teed up her first Canada West goal with a one-timer from the left face-off dot at 15:16 to make it 2-0 for Regina. MacEwan would make things interesting when Hailey Maurice entered the Canada West record books for scoring the Griffins' first-ever Canada West goal and her first Canada West goal at 18:44 to make it a 2-1 game! However, the Griffins couldn't complete the storybook come-from-behind effort as the final horn souned on the 2-1 Regina Cougars win. Arden Kliewer earned her first Canada West win with 26-save effort while Natalie Bender suffered the loss despite turning away 27 shots.

Hi. This is where highlights go. You're probably looking for highlights, but there aren't any at this point in time because MacEwan hasn't posted them yet. I know the schools have 24 hours to post those highlights, but this is now two schools who need to make this happen. Especially for a Friday night game that happened, by my count, more than 24 hours ago. Make it happen, MacEwan.

SATURDAY: Despite falling one night earlier to the Cougars, the Griffins showed they can hang with at least one Canada West team. The next step would be to outscore that team, and they were looking to do that against the Cougars in Game Two of the two-game set while the Cougars aimed to return to Saskatchewan with a 2-0 record on the season. Katie Crowther started for the visiting Couagrs while Brianna Sank got the nod for the Griffins.

Like Friday's game, the two netminders weren't interested in blemishes on their records in the first period. Crowther stopped seven MacEwan chances while Sank was the busier of the two netminders in turning away 12 Regina shots as the teams literally registered a clean sheet = no goals and no penalties - in a 0-0 first period.

The second period, though, saw the Griffins find their game. Rylee Gluska opened the scoring with her first Canada West goal at the 7:03 mark before MacEwan's active leading ACAC scorer Chantal Ricker made it a two-goal game with her first in CanWest 4:58 later! The Cougars wouldn't let this period end without a goal, though, as Trinity Grove's partial breakaway turned into a goal low on the blocker side as she beat Sank at the 18:27 mark to send this game into the break with MacEwan holding a 2-1 edge.

The third period saw MacEwan lock down the defensive zone as Regina outshot the Griffins 13-5, but they couldn't find twine behind Sank as the Griffins' netminder backstopped the squad to their first-ever Canada West regular season win by that 2-1 score! Sank stopped 37 shots in the win for her first career Canada West victory while Katie Crowther stopped 21 shots in the loss.

I know I poked fun at the Griffins above when it comes to highlights, but did you know that the last thing that was posted to the "MacEwan Griffins" account on YouTube was from seven years ago? How do they have no sports highlights of anything in the last seven years? This needs to be corrected immediately by posting the video highlights from two women's hockey games this weekend. IMMEDIATELY.

FRIDAY: The Calgary Dinos made the trek east to Winnipeg where the Manitoba Bisons awaited. Head coach Carla MacLeod would be coaching in her first regular season Canada West game after taking over the reins on the Dinos bench following Danielle Goyette's departure, and there was optimism she could build on the second-place finish in the standings from 2019-20. Manitoba came into the game with a pile of new faces in their lineup, so the scouting report on them read "young". Let's see how these two tangled as Gabriella Durante got the start for the Dinos while newcomer Meagan Relf was in the blue paint for the Bisons!

The scoring in this game would start early as the Dinos, down Annaliese Meier as she sat in the penalty box, got some offence from the penalty kill as Dinos captain Rachel Paul beat Relf on the shorthanded breakaway between the wickets for the first goal, chronologically, of the 2021-22 Canada West season just 3:35 into this game! That lead would last for just over 11 minutes before Kate Gregoire broke down the left wing, cut towards the net, and fired a shot over the glove of Durante at the 14:47 mark! The Dinos, however, would restore the one-goal lead 4:01 later as Alli Borrow ripped a shot high glove-side on Relf for her first goal as a Calgary Dino at 18:48! The Dinos would head into the break up 2-1 despite being outshot 12-7 in the frame.

Whatever Jon Rempel said between periods seemed to spark the Bisons as they came out far more aggressive in the second period, and they were rewarded for the new approach. Ashley Keller picked up the loose puck in the high slot off a broken play, and she ripped a wrist shot past Durante on the glove side for her first Canada West goal to make it 2-2 at the 2:27 mark. Calgary would go up by a goal once more nine minutes into the period when Elizabeth Lang's wraparound found space under Relf's pad, and it was a 3-2 game. 14 seconds later, though, Kylie Lesuk outwaited Durante as she went down, allowing Lesuk to slide it past the outstretched leg of Durante for her first Canada West goal, and we were squared up at 3-3! Two minutes after that goal, Samantha Sichkaruk carried the puck into the slot area and threw a shot on net that might have surprised Durante as it went under her, but they count all the same and Manitoba had the 4-3 lead through to the end of the period!

Did I mention there were goals scored in this game? If I didn't, cue up the highlight reel because Molly Kunnas broke down the right wing, cut past the defender as she got a step on her, and roofed the puck past Durante for her first Canada West goal at the 4:08 mark for the 5-3 lead! Rachel Paul would make the Manitoba power-play pay once more at the 12:49 mark as she once again broke away from the pack and deked Relf glove-side where she only got a piece of the puck as Paul recorded her second shorthanded goal of the game to make it 5-4! Despite Calgary's pressure late, Ashley Keller would score her second of the game into the empty net as the Bisons downed the Dinos by a 6-4 score! Meagan Relf earned her first Canada West victory with a 24-save effort while Gabrielle Durante took the loss despite making 26 stops.

Highlights are below, but Manitoba's highlight package apparently didn't include Paul's second goal nor Keller's second goal. Let's get that corrected, Manitoba. Highlights include ALL highlights, ok?

SATURDAY:Considering that Manitoba didn't score more than four goals in a game in 2019-20 and only scored 34 all season that year, having them put six up in their first game was a surprise. Would we see more offensive fireworks from the Herd in the second game of the two-game set? Would Calgary tighten things up in the defensive zone in this one? We'd find out as the puck dropped on this one with Gabriella Durante earning her second start for the Dinos while veteran netminder Erin Fargey was in the crease for the Bisons!

Calgary would open the scoring in this one midway through the frame. Fargey misplayed a puck that she attempted to smother, and that allowed Elizabeth Lang to wrap the puck around the net. Fargey stopped Lang's attempt, but Holly Reuther was in the right place to chip the rebound past Fargey at 9:46 to put the Dinos up 1-0! Durante made a couple of key saves in the first period to keep the Bisons off the board, and the period would end with Calgary up a goal as the teams were tied 10-10 in shots.

The second period saw the Bisons come alive once again. Captain Lauren Warkentin fired home a power-play goal through traffic from the left side at 5:35 to even this game up at 1-1. In what was another highlight reel goal, Samantha Sichkaruk broke in on a two-on-one, drew the defender to her as she slipped the puck across to Jessica Haner, and Haner roofed the puck blocker-side on Durante from just in front of the crease in what could only be described as a "goal scorer's goal" for her first Canada West marker at 6:04 to put the Bisons up 2-1! In what will likely be heard a lot this season, Dennehy-to-Gregoire-to-Lesuk covered two-thirds of the ice with passes before Lesuk finished off the sequence with a partial-breakaway goal glove-side on Durante at 12:53 to make it 3-1 for Manitoba. Those three would make it 4-1 with a Gregoire-to-Dennehy-to-Lesuk goal that Lesuk finished from the slot at 13:59, and Ashley Keller would score Manitoba's fifth goal of the frame at 17:12 when she blasted another shot past Durante. Entering the third period, Calgary needed a major comeback to salvage points this weekend.

Calgary opted to have rookie Ella Howard in the Calgary net to start the third period, but it was Manitoba who locked down the defensive in the third period as they denied Calgary time and again. A late power-play goal on a blast from the point through traffic by Bridget Resanzoff with 2:30 to play pulled Calgary back to a 5-2 score, but the three-goal deficit was too much to overcome on this day as Manitoba defeated Calgary by a 5-2 score! Erin Fargey earned the victory with a 29-save performance while Gabriella Durante took the loss after making 12 stops in 40 minutes of work. For the record, Ella Howard surrendered no goals on three shots in her period of action.

Highlights from this game are still missing from the Bisons' YouTube account, so we're forced to wait. Eight games played this weekend, and four have no highlight package yet?

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
6 11 6
6 11 1
vs MAN
3 3 3
3 3 3
vs SAS
3 4 4
Mount Royal
3 4 4
vs TWU
0 0 0
0 6 11
vs MAC
Trinity Western
0 1 11

Honour Them

Before I let everyone out of here, I should note that we, on the Bisons women's hockey broadcast, decided that the Lethbridge Pronghorns needed to be honoured. What happened at Lethbridge regarding their hockey teams is not up for debate here because it still makes me angry. Frankly, the people who made that decision won't be on my Christmas card list and, I suspect, I'm not on theirs, but women who wore the Pronghorns logo on their chests deserved better than the fate that was ultimately handed to them.

On top of that, the school that failed the players so miserably never even gave them a proper send-off after destroying their dreams of comepting for a Canada West championship and more. It's in this regard that I threw together something to honour the women who still hold records in the Canada West record book and that final 2019-20 class who proudly represented the University of Lethbridge. Here is that video we ran on Friday night with a musical accompaniment.

It should be noted that people like head coach Chandy Kaip (named 2012 Canada West Coach of the Year), defender Jodi Gentile (2019 FISU Winter Universiade silver medalist), forward Megan Bach (2011 Canada West Student-Athlete Award winner), defender Jackie Stroeve (first Lethbridge women's hockey player to be named an All-Canadian and a CIS All-Star), defender Shelby Ballandine (2012 Canada West Second Team All-Star), and forward Sadie Lenstra (seen in the video and was the 2012 Canada West Rookie of the Year) helped to pave the way for a vast number of incredible athletes who wore the Pronghorns' logo, and they won't be forgotten for all the good they did in this conference.

Thank you to every single Pronghorns women's hockey player, coach, and staff member for always representing the school with pride and for being amazing competitors every time you stepped on the ice. You won't be forgotten by this writer.

The Last Word

It seems pretty clear, with all the "firsts" seen this weekend, that the Canada West Conference has changed since 2019-20. There were lots of new players who seemingly are poised to have breakout seasons, and that's exciting when it comes to the health of this conference. While the coaches picked Alberta and Mount Royal as the top-two teams in the conference, we shouldn't read too deep into the first week of play for any of the matchups we saw. Granted, it will be a tough year for Trinity Western based on how young that team is, but eight teams will compete for six playoff spots over the next 18 games. Based on performances in the first week of play, nothing is set in stone as to how these teams will finish.

What should be noted, though, is that points and regulation wins earned in this first weekend may come back to haunt teams if there are tie-breaker situations needed at the end of the season. Regulations wins, as we know, are worth more than extra-time wins if two teams finished tied for points in standings, so this is why both MacEwan and Regina are ahead of Alberta and Mount Royal on my standings board. This isn't reflected on the Canada West standings board, and this could be how tie-breakers are broken this season once we get beyond the head-to-head records.

To be quite honest, there are a lot of things I don't like about the Canada West website in general when it comes to women's hockey, but I'll save those complaints for another time. Just remember that HBIC will always have the standings reflected according to tie-breaking procedures when teams are tied in points.

As always, get out and support the women in Canada West by buying tickets to games, subscribing to the Canada West TV package for your team, and by attending fundraising events they hold. This is the highest level of women's hockey that plays regularly in western Canada, and I can attest that these women play like they're competing for an Olympic gold medal or the Stanley Cup. Get down to one of the nine rinks in western Canada where they play and check out the action. I guarantee you're in for a good time!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Goalie Saturday!

It doesn't happen often that this blog has all sorts of goalie news to report on one day. Occasionally, there will be a story that needs highlighting that involved a goaltender, but how often is it that you see multiple great stories about goalies that occur on one night? As you know, there aren't a ton of goaltending spots available on teams at higher levels of hockey, so the stars aligned on this night to give us a handful of great stories that should make you smile. I know I was smiling as I wrote this article about these amazing puck-stoppers who deserve some spotlight for their efforts.

Let's start in the NHL where the Toronto Maple Leafs ran into a little salary cap trouble after goaltender Petr Mrazek was injured. The Leafs needed a goaltender to fulfill their "two netminders per game" requirement, so they were forced to sign their EBUG (emergency back-up goalie) Alex Bishop to an ATO (amateur tryout) contract!

Bishop is a goaltender with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men's hockey team who often fills in as the EBUG at the ACC. The 24 year-old was 19-5-0 in 2019-20 with a 2.41 GAA and a .922 save percentage while stopping pucks for the UofT, so he's got some definite skill. He was a bit of a journeyman backup netminder in the QMJHL before getting to Toronto, but it seems he's found a home as the starting netminder for the OUA's Varsity Blues.

Of course, that all changed when they handed him his official Maple Leafs jersey with #70 on the back, and Bishop wrote his name into goaltending lore alongsie the likes of Dustin Butler and Byron Spriggs as U SPORTS netminders who have served as backups in the NHL. While he didn't get a chance to play like David Ayres or Scott Foster did, Bishop will be on the scoresheet as part of the roster tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators by a 3-1 score. He won't get credit with the win, but the memories he'll take away from this ay with the press conference and the contract signing and the whole night of professional hockey experiences are worth every second of sitting at the end of the bench!

Congratulations to Alex Bishop, the newest former NHL goalie to play U SPORTS hockey!

Goalie Goals Are Awesome

You probably don't know Dawson Green, but he's a goaltender for the Winnipeg Blues who play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). Most teams are ten games into the season already, so it should be noted that the Winnipeg Blues were 8-1-0 this season prior to tonight's game against the Selkirk Steeler who entered tonight's action at 3-5-1.

The only reason I noted those standings is to show that it's shouldn't surprise anyone that the East Division-leading Blues shutout the East Division's fourth-place team in the Selkirk Steelers tonight by a 3-0 score. What should surprise everyone, though, is who recorded the shutout along with scoring the third goal of the game!

Since the MJHL doesn't keep any records of goalie goals on its online record book, I can't tell you the history of any other goalies who have lit the lamp in the MJHL. That would also include any records of a goaltender who scored a goal and recorded a shutout in the same game like Dawson Green did tonight, but the number can't be any more than the number of fingers on one hand for either statistic.

Congratulations to Dawson Green of the Winnipeg Blues as he moves to 9-0-0 this season to go along with one goal on the season as the highest scoring netminder in the MJHL so far this season!

She's A Winner

I made a big deal about Ève Gascon was recalled to the Gatineau Olympiques this season, but it was noted how she was the first female goalie to record a win in men's college hockey in Quebec. Let it be known that there's another woman playing men's college hockey this season of whom you should be aware. The BCIHL - the league that Trinity Western's men's team previously dominated - doesn't get a lot of press on this blog because of my commitment to Canada West, but I'm going to draw attention to Simon Fraser University because this is where the story is happening.

This young lady is Kayla Munro who previously suited up with the University of Syracuse in the NCAA. She's originally from BC, so her returning home in the pandemic made sense in terms of safety. Kayla suited up with the Fraser Valley Rush in midget-aged hockey before making the jump to the JWHL with the Pacific Steelers where Syracuse recruited her. It should also be noted she played for her province at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta and, thanks to her Metis heritage, represented BC at the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. Needless to say, she's a pretty good puck-stopper.

Kayla started the preseason BCIHL game tonight for Simon Fraser University against the Okanagan Lakers, and this marked the first time that a woman had started a game in the BCIHL! She stopped 13 of 14 shots in her time in the paint tonight as she was relieved by tandem partner Cale Dolan, and he'd help Simon Fraser earn a shootout win over Okanagan by a 3-2 score! While she wasn't the goalie of record in this game, it's very likely she's going to be on Simon Fraser's roster this season, so she could join a very short list of female goalies who helped a men's university team to victory!

As I thought back on this, the only names that came to mind were Lesley Reddon and Kim St-Pierre. It was St-Pierre who played with the McGill men's squad in 2003-04, but she is the first female goalie credited with a win in men's university hockey after she backstopped McGill to a 5-2 victory over Ryerson at McConnell Arena on November 15, 2003. She would lose to Guelph on November 29, 2003 to also become the first woman to record a loss in men's university hockey, but that 1-1-0 record she compiled that season is filled with history. Kayla Munro could write that history out in the BCIHL and for Simon Fraser University, so I'm excited to see how she does this season!

There are three great goalie stories for a Saturday night, and I'm happy to report that The Rundown will return tomorrow with the first week of Canada West hockey being completed this evening! There's lots to go over, so make sure you drop by tomorrow!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 15 October 2021

Spelling Counts

I don't know how the National Spelling Bee keeps finding its way onto sports networks like ESPN, but apparently there's a heckuan athletic component to spelling words most people have never used in their lives. I'll cut the kids some slack, though, as they usually wow those who turn in with their abilities to spell obscure words and know the etymology of words, but it's gives me an excuse to use "etymology" on this site. That being said, I'm starting to think that thr equipment managers for the Canucks need to head back to a remedial spelling class because they've now butchered the spelling of a second player in the span of seven months.

Back on April 26, 2021, goaltender Artūrs Šilovs made his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators after Thatcher Demko suffered an injury in the morning skate. The Latvian netminder didn't play in the game as Marcus Högberg was the goalie of record in the 2-1 loss to the Senators, but Šilovs made a name for himself - excuse the pun - when he skated out wearing a jersey that had "Silvos" on the back. Clearly, the "O" and the "V" had been swapped as his name was applied to the jersey, but that's a pretty disappointing way to start one's NHL career. He earned the jersey, so one would hope that his name was spelled right.

Tonight, the Canucks were in Philadephia to play the Flyers, and they didn't seem to have any players who were making their NHL debuts, but they did have another name issue that would have seen them dismissed from the National Spelling Bee.

Alex Chiasson, a player who has been on a handful of NHL teams in his ten-year career, is part of the Canucks' roster this season, but you might think he was some other player based on his name tonight.
Again, it's another flip-flop of letters as the "A" and "I" need to exchange places, but you would think there would be a roster handy if the Canucks' equipment people needed to make changes, especially after the Šilovs error last season. But, alas, "Chaisson" took to the ice tonight for the Vancouver Canucks.

I'm not here to embarrass anyone and I truly feel for the Canucks' equipment managers on these errors, but this is one of those situations where one should check and re-check the spelling of names before putting needle to nameplate. Players have earned the right to have their names spelled correctly on the uniforms, so check, recheck, and check again before getting jerseys ready if there are any questions about how to spell a player's name.

On the other hand, maybe Alex Chiasson will want to keep wearing his misspelled name after scoring a goal and an assist in the 5-4 shootout win by the Canucks. We know players are creatures of habit, so this may have to be incorporated into his routine, especially on the road, if he continues to score well. This could be a whole new level of superstition for players considering that Chiasson scored his goal and recorded an assist while wearing his evil twin's jersey!

Spelling counts, though, so I assume Alex Chiasson will have his properly-spelled name back on his jersey when the Canucks visit Detroit on this road trip. Unless, of course, superstition takes over.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 14 October 2021

The Hockey Show - Episode 473

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, sits on the precipice of Canada West hockey returning to arenas across the four westernmost provinces, and that happens tomorrow night in eight of nine cities! Last week saw this program go through the Canada West men's hockey preview, so we need to even up the preview shows by tackling the Canada West Women's Hockey Preview tonight! There is a lot to talk about with all the changes that have happened over the last 600 days, so it should be another informative show in terms of piecing together who will finish where in the standings!

Tonight, Teebz is joined by Jason Pchajek and the oft-missed Jenna Thompson as these three hockey minds break down who left programs, who is returning to programs, who was recruited to programs, and how those nine Canada West programs will fare this season after missing all of last year. If you needed a primer to get into women's hockey, the hosts will disseminate all of the changes while dissecting each team and the chances each has in winning the Canada West championship banner. Just like last week, Jason and Jenna are asked "One Big Question" for each team that they'll debate as the hosts attempt to place the nine teams in the standings. Tonight, it's the "cheat sheet" on all nine Canada West women's hockey teams as Teebz, Jason, and Jenna discuss teams and players, so make sure you tune in at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

Where's the best place can you hear tonight's 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, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to! 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, Jason, and Jenna track who left, who came back, who's pushing for roster spots, who will have success, who may struggle based on a variety reasons, and much more as the Canada West women's hockey preview show airs exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: October 14, 2021: Episode 473

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Howe's First (Again)

It's always a special day on this blog when I can wax poetic about the Hartford Whalers. When it comes to talking about the Hartford Whalers AND Gordie Howe in the same piece, that's something that supercedes any other story, but I think the historical factor of today's article will matter to some folks. Most times, October 13 passes by without so much as the blink of an eye for a lot of people, but hockey fans should stop and reflect on what Gordie Howe did today due to the age at which he completed the feat. It's virtually a foregone conclusion that most 50-year old players are long retired with their goal-scoring days long behind them in this era, but Gordie Howe was a different kind of player.

On this day back in 1979 following the MHL's absorption of the four WHA teams, the Hartford Whalers played their second game of the season. That also meant that Gordie Howe played his second game of the season after rejoining the NHL as a member of the Whalers in that NHL-WHA deal. In the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Gordie Howe scored a first-period goal to make it a 2-0 lead for the Whalers in what would end as a 3-3 tie between the Whalers and Penguins.

What makes this goal remarkable is that Gordie Howe scored for the first time in eight seasons following his retirement from the Detroit Red Wings in 1970-71, and he scored his first NHL in this new era at the age of 51! If you're counting the total number of goals he scored in the NHL before leaving with this one, it's actually his 787th NHL goal in his career, but that doesn't overlook the fact that Howe scored, at the age of 51, on Greg Millen at 10:23 of the first period.

The only player remotely close to Howe's age who is still in the NHL is Zdeno Chara of the New York Islanders. Chara is 44 year-old this season, so he's still a baby compared to what Howe was doing at 51. And if we throw out the fact that Howe scored 15 goals and added 26 helpers at the age of 52 when the season ended, I seriously doubt those are totals that Chara will hit this year, let alone in seven more years of play.

The oldest forward still playing in the league is Joe Thornton of the Florida Panthers. Thorton is 42 this season, and he's already told reporters last year that his career is at the "day-to-day" stage in terms of how he feels. While there was some tongue-in-cheek about that statement, Thornton would have to find a way to play nine more years to reach Howe's age while finding a fountain of youth to score 41 points at the age of 52. Thornton's had a couple of years in the last five where he's hit the 50-point mark, but those days are becoming spots on the horizon in the rearview mirror for Jumbo Joe.

It's pretty remarkable that Howe was able to score 40+ points at the age of 52 during what was one of the toughest eras to play in when it came to hooking, holding, and all the little stick infractions that have been outlawed today. When people talk about hockey greats, Howe often gets mentioned, but we should really stop and linger on that name a little longer because of how good he was for so long. There hasn't been a 50 year-old player in the NHL since Howe was the first to do it, and I doubt we'll ever see one again.

A 40-point scorer at the age of 50? That will never be done again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

The First Is Known

After watching the Sidney Crosby-less and Evgeni Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins dismantle the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning following their banner raising for the second season in a row, the biggest excitement of the night was the late game on the NHL's Opening Night as the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the expansion Seattle Kraken in their very first game in NHL history. Vegas won their opening game on the road in Dallas four seasons ago, so could Seattle follow the same story and win their opener against a very good Golden Knights squad?

Things didn't get off to a flying start for the Squid Squad as Max Pacioretty put Vegas up 1-0 just 3:10 into the game. Adding to the not-so-good start was Jonathan Marchessault who double the lead just 3:26 later. Perhaps there were some "first game nerves" being shown by Philipp Grubauer on opening night?

After going down 3-0 on a second Pacioretty goal at 6:43 of the second period, there was some history made when Ryan Donato got free in front of the net and found the puck just outside the crease. The official scoring play, for those asking, is Ryan Donato from Vince Dunn and Joonas Donskoi who beat Robin Lehner at 11:32 of the second period on October 12, so get your Seattle Kraken jerseys customized with #9 Donato as the kid from Scituate, Massachusetts put his name into the NHL record books permanently with the first Kraken goal in NHL history!

History aside, there was still a game to be decided, and the Kraken struck again quicly after Donato added his name to the historical records. Jared McCann scored 1:08 after Donato, and it was quickly a 3-2 game between the two newest NHL teams. Perhaps this trend of expansion teams winning their first-ever games on the road would continue tonight.

Morgan Geekie - the kid from Strathclair, Manitoba! - scored his first Kraken goal at 7:58 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3, and suddenly it felt very real that Seattle may shock the world for at least one night, if not more nights as the season goes on. However, Vegas' Chandler Stephenson would score 35 seconds after Geekie tied the game, and that 4-3 margin would end up being the final score as Vegas survived a Kraken attack on this night.

Overall, ESPN's coverage of this game was more about nostalgia than new innovations, but I thought both AJ Mleczko and Brian Boucher did a great job with analysis just as they did with NBC last season, and John Buccigross was fairly consistent in his play-by-play broadcast. If this is the effort that ESPN is going to make on a nightly basis, I'd say the NHL's decision to dump NBC and head to ESPN will work out nicely for both parties.

What should be known after one night is that the Kraken will compete this season. In what is seen as a relatively weak Pacific Division, the Kraken could make some noise if they can take wins off divisional opponents while adding points in the rest of their division. No one is guaranteeing them the same success that Vegas had with a Stanley Cup berth in their inaugural season, but it's not like it hasn't been done before with some hard work, determination, a splash of skill, and a little luck.

For the first night of NHL action for the 2021-22 season, we saw the champs lose, an expansion team test one of the teams most pundits feel are the best in the west, and Ryan Donato wrote his name into NHL lore. I'd say that was a pretty good night of hockey action!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 11 October 2021

Holiday Monday

I will be the first person to tell you that I have zero interest in celebrating Thanksgiving. Like Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Jake Peralta, I too believe that turkey tastes of napkins. Or wet cardboard. I don't care for it on this holiday or any other holiday including the December one. You may like it and that's entirely fine. I'm just saying it is not and never will be for me. I don't understand how this foul fowl was determined to be a holiday delicacy when it tastes like one is eating a paper bag, but the pilgrims were weird, their tradition of turkey isn't my tradition, and I plan on leaving those feathered creatures in a forest without being bothered.

Getting past that piece of business, I will be sitting down with my family for a meal this evening so I'll be away from the computer for most of the day. In saying that, I think I may have earned a day off with everything I've been doing behind the scenes for the Bisons women's hockey broadcasts this season, so I'm taking the day off. Despite hockey news breaking and the LA Kings unveiling a new jersey, everything is on hold today.

Oh, you came looking for something to read or do? Well, I have a stationary bike at HBIC Headquarters that I ride from time to time, but I have a little envy for those who have Pelotons and can cycle to some sort of amazing scenery that makes it feel more like a bike ride. With winter coming, the options to get out on the bike will soon be limited to "not gonna happen", so I needed something to really focus my bike riding indoors.

If you're like me and scoffing at the costs of a Peloton or some other bike of similar stature, perhaps you may want to check out! I set it up on my iPad and cycle for as long as necessary while listening to the various radio stations they have programmed into the site. There are a ton of cities from across the world, and you can ride down streets and avenues from all corners of the globe!

Maybe stationary bike riding isn't your thing, though. You can still click on the link and go for a ride in some other city than your own. When cooped up inside over winter, wouldn't it be great to hit the open road in a warm, sunny country? Ok, it's not entirely the same, but a drive somewhere different can be entirely relaxing. The site offers that!

Speaking about driving, I gotta hit the road so I can participate in a non-turkey dinner on this holiday. It'll be good to be with family and friends, and I'm definitely thankful for that opportunity after missing out on holidays during the pandemic. Don't take this time with loved ones for granted, readers.

Enjoy the day if you're celebrating, and we'll be back tomorrow!

Until next time, keep your (drum)sticks off my plate!

Sunday, 10 October 2021

An NCAA First

The three goaltenders shown above - #33 for St. Cloud State, #33 for Bemidji State, and #33 for North Dakota - are actually one goaltender. That's Zach Driscoll who currently plays for the University of North Dakota, and he did something Friday night that no one else in NCAA history had ever done. Personally, I'm not sure how many goaltenders would even have had the chance to do it, but Driscoll now has his name in the NCAA record books!

Grand Forks Herald scribe Brad Elliott Schlossman reported on Saturday afternoon that, "[a]ccording to College Hockey News archives, he became the first goaltender in NCAA men's hockey history to post a shutout for three different programs" after recording "one shutout during his rookie season at St. Cloud State, nine during three seasons at Bemidji State and now one at UND."

That "one at UND" happened last night as Driscoll stopped all 18 shots he faced en route to the 4-0 shutout win. Driscoll went 5-8-5 in terms of saves per period for that historic shutout, but he was quick to point out that shutouts are a team achievement, not an individual one.

"Obviously, that feels good, individually," Driscoll told Schlossman. "But that doesn't happen without the team in front of us. Special teams were awesome today. Power play answered and the penalty kill did their job. The chances they did have were mostly from the outside. It was a good team effort for sure."

You can read the full list of Driscoll's shutouts, but I wonder how many goalies have actually played for three NCAA teams in their careers. There can't be many who changed schools twice after committing to one early in their careers, but Driscoll transferred as a graduate student with the extra season awarded to university seniors due to the pandemic.

Shutouts seem to be a way of life for Driscoll, though. He spent one season in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers where he was named the Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year by USA Hockey after posting eight shutouts with a .934 save percentage and a 1.90 GAA on the strength of a 23-9-1-1 record. He recorded back-to-back shutouts on April 4 and 6 when he shutout Tri-City before stopping all shots sent his way by Des Moines, and was recognized as a USHL Second Team All-Star for his 2017-18 campaign before joining Bemidji State.

If you're doing the math, that's 18 shutouts since 2016 in the NCAA and USHL over 142 games - approximately one shutout for every eight games he plays! I'm having a hard time trying to come up with reasons he hasn't been contacted by a number of professional teams, but Driscoll clearly made the right decision in moving to North Dakota where it seems the Fighting Hawks have a better-than-good chance of competing for a Frozen Four berth!

For a guy who once described himself as "just a chubby little kid who played goalie and kept working on it", he seems to have this goalie thing down pat. That work he put now has him in the NCAA record books, has him recognized the Goalie of the Year by USA Hockey, and has paid for school.

We often hear coaches talk about "effort in" to get "results out". I'd say that the effort Zach Driscoll put in is worth the results he is seeing which means that "chubby little kid" did quite well for himself!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 9 October 2021

She's Back!

I will admit that I jumped the gun on Ève Gascon by stating that I thought she'd be off to the NCAA to play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs this season. I believed it would be in her best interests based on her comments of playing at the highest level possible, and the NCAA Division-1 women's hockey schedule the Bulldogs are following does have its set of incredible teams on it. Whether one takes into account Minnesota, Wisconsin, or a number of school programs on the east coast, I assumed that she'd be off to conquer another challenge by playing her first-ever women's or girls' hockey games in her career. It seemed logical, but that's where assuming got me when it came to Gascon's career.

What I didn't account for, however, was Gascon's desire to be the best goaltender she can be at any level, and that includes men's hockey. Gascon returned to Les Patriotes du Cégep de Saint-Laurent this season to defend their net, and she's currently having a fantastic start to the campaign with a 3-0-0 record on the strength of a 2.33 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Those are solid numbers to start this season with the Patriotes.

The key in this equation is that she's a mere a two hours from Gatineau, Quebec, and you likely remember that she attended training camp for Les Olympiques where she impressed the coaching staff enough that she remained in camp until the end. Clearly, the coaches liked what they saw in Gascon, prompting the announcement today that Gascon had been recalled for the afternoon game between the Olympiques and the visiting Val d'Or Foreurs!

Starting netminder Rémi Poirier was sidelined due to an injury, and that forced the team to start Emerik Despatie in today's game. The Olympiques needed to fill the back-up role, so Gascon will don a jersey in a regular season game for the first time as a member of a QMJHL team as she gets one step closer to playing in a game!

For those looking to add a historic jersey to their collections, Ève Gascon officially wore #37 in the game for the Olympiques this afternoon. She didn't play in the game, though, as Despatie was the goalie of record in the 4-3 shootout loss to Val d'Or, but the fact that one can now own a Gatineau Olympiques jersey Gascon with "Gascon" on the back is pretty cool. 3003 people at the Slush Puppie Center on Saturday afternoon were witness to Ève Gascon in uniform for her first regular season QMJHL game!

There has been no mention from the team as to whether Gascon will get the start in tomorrow's game against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, a team she beat in the preseason, but it's very likely that Gascon will be in uniform for at least two games this weekend. Beyond that, Gascon will have to return to school at Cégep de Saint-Laurent this week, and the Olympiques don't play again until Friday, October 15. We'll see what the future holds for Miss Gascon possibly starting or playing in a game tomorrow and beyond, but I'm hoping she's embracing every second of her opportunities.

If she doesn't get to play, that should only make Gascon hungrier for her first shot at the blue paint in the QMJHL. Knowing what we know about her, that likely will drive her to be better in the Patriotes' nets, so you can't help but feel a little sorry for shooters from other teams that she plays against as she seeks that QMJHL opportunity.

The future is very, very bright for Ève Gascon on a number of fronts, and I know I can't help but be excited for this young woman. Well done, Ève, and here's hoping we see you in the blue paint sooner than later!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 8 October 2021

Vilio Goes Pro

It was mentioned on The Hockey Show yesterday during the Canada West men's hockey preview show, but Trinity Western saw a big piece of their defensive success move to the professional ranks this season as Elijah Vilio will suit up in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators this season! Vilio was a solid, puck-moving defenceman who had a good shot as well, and he'll leave a hole in the Spartans lineup with his departure. There's nothing wrong with that hole on the roster, though, as it's always good to see players from Canada West hockey getting a shot at their professional hockey dreams! Let's take a quick peek into the career of one of the guys we thought we'd be seeing and hearing a lot about this season in Canada West.

Vilio had room left in his eligibility to remain at the Langley campus, but his first opportunity to follow the professional route came when he signed a deal earlier this year when he signed a tryout deal to join Barys Nur-Sultan (formerly Barys Astana) in the KHL on July 5, 2021. Clearly, the KHL team saw some potential in Vilio after he led the BCIHL in scoring by a defenceman while helping the Spartans to a second-straight BCIHL championship, so they offered him a shot at coming over to Kazakhstan to play in the KHL.

The tryout was scheduled to last until the end of August, according to reports, but Vilio saw no action in any games for Barys. As a result, Vilio left the KHL and returned home where he pursued other opportunities at the professional level. One of the team interested, it appears, was the Atlanta Gladiators as they officially signed the 24-year old defender to a 2021-22 ECHL contract!

"We really like what Vilio can bring to our back end," Gladiators president Jerry James told the Gwinnett Daily Post. "He was very productive in college, and he was about to go play high-level professional hockey over in Kazakhstan."

As mentioned above, he was a solid scoring threat from the blueline as Vilio posted 20 goals and 36 assists in 66 BCIHL games while winning two championships in 2018 and 2019 as well as leading all defencemen in scoring in 2018-19 while being named a second team all-star that season. It's pretty clear that he had settled into the BCIHL nicely when it came to finding the scoresheet, and the Gladiators noticed his size and skill when they were looking to add to their blueline.

"He's a great upcoming young defenseman," Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle said to the Gwinnett Daily Post. "He's big, strong, he skates well, and he's good in both directions. Its going to be fun watching his career. Enormous potential and a great kid. That's a good combination."

He'll join former Manitoba Bisons forward Kamerin Nault in Atlanta as players with Canada West ties to the university league after Nault signed there in early August, and this blog will keep an eye on both men this season as they try to help Atlanta win the Kelly Cup.

What makes this story fun, though, is that Atlanta might want to keep the pipeline to Trinity Western open if they're looking for other prospects they can sign as Vilio would have some intimate knowledge on a couple of kids on the Spartans roster already. Defender Trent Vilio and forward Kade Vilio also play for the Spartans, and it would be pretty cool to see all three Vilio brothers on the same professional team if they wanted to pursue that dream.

For now, that's seasons away, but Elijah Vilio will get his shot this season to impress at the ECHL level and there's no reason to think he won't. As Jeff Pyle said, he has size, he has skill, he can play both ends of the ice, and he's just a good dude. Guys like Vilio usually have long careers if they have that mix of abilities and personality.

In saying that, I suspect this won't be the last time we hear the name "Elijah Vilio" for all the right reasons. Congratulations, Elijah, on the contract, and here's hoping that the Kelly Cup isn't far off in the future for you and the Gladiators!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!