Tuesday, 13 April 2021

5000

I had made mention last month that I'd hit the 5000th article mark sometime in mid-April on this blog. Today would be the day that this threshold was crossed as this very article you're reading is the 5000th entry on Hockey Blog In Canada! I'm not looking for any celebration or fanfare over this, but it's pretty amazing to think that this blog has been able to write 5000 articles about hockey in the span of fourteen-going-on-fifteen years. Some have been dumb. Some have sparked debate. Some have gotten me in trouble. Through it all, though, I've come to realize that it's less about the number of readers, especially since I don't generate revenue, and more about who is reading.

I'm not going to go back into the HBIC archives and list off my favorite articles or anything. I feel like I could probably put a few up, but there are many I'd miss that should likely be read as well. For every goofy article on this blog, there are a handful of articles where I sat down, really thought about a topic, and put fingers to keyboard in expressing my thoughts and feelings on a subject. Those are the articles of which I'm most proud, and I hope they resonate with you as well.

Of course, this blog led me to having a radio show on UMFM for which I am eternally grateful as GM Jared and Program Director Mike took a chance on a blog-writing hockey maniac and let him loose on the FM airwaves. Along with Beans, we were joined by many people, many who I still hold in high regard and have incredible relationships with thanks to the fun we brought. Along the way, we were joined by the always-fun Columbus, the analytics fan TJ, writer extraordinaire Jason, and, of course, Jenna who now sits in the co-host chair as we navigate this world of hockey. To every single guest we're ever had on that show, thank you for your time and your knowledge - we're all better for it!

From the radio show, it was a natural move to start calling hockey games at the University of Manitoba, and my first venture into Wayne Fleming Arena as a broadcaster was for men's hockey. Admittedly, being the color analyst for the night was a fun experience, but it led me to ask why the same radio broadcast options weren't being made available for the women's hockey team. Up to that point where I asked that question, the only agreements that Bisons Sports and UMFM had were for men's football broadcasts and men's hockey broadcasts.

After some discussions with Bisons Sports, the dawn of a new era began at the University of Manitoba as women's hockey broadcasts became a thing on 101.5 UMFM. From there, it was up to us at the station to do more, and we added an alternate online streaming platform where every home game for both men's and women's hockey could be heard when they played. We went from no games to all 14 home games for women's hockey in a couple of years with some incredible voices giving life to the games and making many magical moments come to life as TJ and Kyleigh Palmer guided fans through the action over the radio and webcasts.

As you're likely aware, we were there when the Bisons beat the Alberta Pandas in the fourth overtime period of Game Three of the 2018 Canada West semifinal which stands as the second-longest game in Canada West history. We were there when the Bisons beat the Huskies in the Canada West final to win the conference and cement themselves as the top-seeded team heading in the U SPORTS National Championship in London, Ontario. We were there when they beat Queen's University in the National Championship quarterfinal, when they beat Concordia University in a thrilling shootout in the National Championship semifinal, and when they defeated Western University in the gold-medal game to earn the school's first National Championship in women's hockey.

We were there when they went to Charlottetown one year later, earning a fifth-place finish. We were there to witness an Olympian fly around the world in a 48-hour period to make it back in time as Venla Hovi went from Pyeonchang, South Korea where she earned a bronze medal to competing against the Pandas in less than two days in 2018. We were there for many first goals, last goals, first saves, big saves, and countless other moments in a program's history.

Through it all, this blog has been the backbone where Canada West and U SPORTS hockey gets a spotlight shone on the action. The Sunday recaps of the weekend's action in Canada West women's hockey takes me virtually all day to compile as I watch games, catch highlights, and read recaps, but there are readers who stop by to catch those recaps each and every week. There are discussions about some of the stats seen and some of the records set that keep everyone up to date on what's happening in and around Canada West with longer pieces written on specific events and teams throughout U SPORTS.

Admittedly, this blog was never meant for that purpose, but it kind of became a mission statement when I went looking for game recaps and video of highlights of the other teams in preparation for the games we were calling for the Bisons. I often wonder why Canada West and, in turn, U SPORTS doesn't have someone dedicated to these recaps, but I'm not in charge at those two organizations. Instead, this blog will continue to do these recaps that highlight some of the best women's hockey players from Manitoba to the west coast. Along with those, I'll also still do longer pieces on other players and teams from across U SPORTS as well.

Other pieces that I enjoy doing are the musicians-in-hockey-jerseys articles, and there's another one of those that will be posted before May. As always, I accept any and all images of musicians in hockey jerseys that anyone may want to send. The only request I have? Check the database of images first as I get lots of people submitting images that are already noted!

I was lucky enough to work with the Manitoba Moose for a few seasons, and I am extremely grateful to have established relationships with some of the amazing hockey programs in this province such as the St. Mary's Academy Flames, Balmoral Hall Blazers, and Winnipeg Avros. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have visited towns and cities across Manitoba to help promote stories out of those locations, and the people I have met at these locations are literally the salt of the earth when it comes to their love for the game of hockey. None of this will stop, and I hope there might be more opportunities to meet more people as the pandemic is slowly solved.

So what does the future hold for this blog as I cross another milestone? All doors are open, quite frankly, as I look to tackle new projects, learn some new skills in coding and Photoshop, and aim to continue to bring updates on stories that catch my attention daily. Will they be riveting investigative journalism stories? No, not always. Heck, maybe never. But there's always something happening in the hockey world, and that's what this blog does in throwing that spotlight onto those stories.

At the end of the day, 5000 articles is a lot of writing. Not every story will be a Pulitzer Prize-winning article (spoiler: none of them are), but hockey has all sorts of stories from around the globe and every small town that dots the map. That's why Hockey Blog In Canada is here - to tell those stories - and why this blog will continue for the foreseeable future.

Everyone has a story, and there are many stories still to tell. If you have a story to tell, get in touch with me! I accept posts from readers and will certainly write a story on something that needs sharing if you let me know. This blog has always been bigger than just me, and I want to keep that sense of community going. If it's not a full-page news story, we can always make announcements through The Hockey Show!

In saying that, thanks for reading, and thanks for making Hockey Blog In Canada one of those stops in your online hockey sites! Hopefully, there's room for 5000 more articles before I'm done!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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