Wednesday 31 January 2024

Time For A New Neighbourhood

I'll be very honest in telling you that I have no idea about most players in the OHL and where they play. I know a few players simply because various outlets talk about their draft status with respect to where they may be picked by an NHL team, but if you asked me to name five players and what team they play for in the OHL, I'm not sure I could do it. The Mississauga Steelheads are one of those teams whose top scorer would be a mystery to me, but it seems there will be a new market of fans to which they can endear themselves as the Steelheads made a major announcement today that will affect fans who come out to cheer on the Steelheads.

From the news release, here's the key statement from the team.
"After careful consideration and extensive discussions, we are in the process of conducting the necessary due diligence to relocate our team to Brampton for the 2024/2025 Ontario Hockey League season."
That move from Mississauga to Brampton isn't going to change much for teams travelling to meet the Steelheads since Brampton is just 20 minutes north of Mississauga, but it's a curious move for a team that struggles to fill seats to opt to move to a community in Brampton that wasn't anywhere close to selling out the arena when the Battalion called Brampton home. Somehow, though, attendance is the key reason for the change in venues.

"At the end of the day, attendance is probably the No. 1 reason for the move. We knew we had to do something and challenge ourselves to find something that works for us and our fans," Steelheads owner Elliott Kerr told The Hockey News. I respect the fact that the team wants to find a better fit when it comes to ticket sales and attendance, but it's hard to be a draw when there are so few people who know of the players who are on the team. If I asked you who Luke Misa was, would you know he's the Steelheads' leading scorer?

Of course, there are other factors, and competing against minor-league professional teams doesn't help the attendance part either.

"The genesis was not only the attendance piece, but we have a major competitor in not only our own market but also in our own building," Kerr added. "We have the Raptors 905 playing the same time of the year, the same demographic, and a similar price point. It's been a challenge since Day 1."

Again, it's easy to see why the Steelheads would make this jump, but we've seen the OHL Battalion and the ECL Beast struggle hard in Brampton to the point where both of those franchise no longer call Brampton home. I'm not saying that the Steelheads can't make it work there, but it seems like the Steelheads are just moving from one area with little support to another. For Kerr, he sees it being different, though, thanks to the potential to turn Steelheads hockey from a game into an experience.

"What the arena in Brampton has a fully operational large restaurant that will be jam-packed pre- and post-every one of our games," Kerr said. "We aren't looking at this as moving from Mississauga to Brampton. We are looking at this as servicing our market by moving three miles north and giving our fans a better experience."

As always, any relocation is subject to OHL approval, but I wish the Steelheads well in this decision because two other teams have shown that long-term viability in the Brampton area didn't work out as well as they had hoped. Perhaps the Steelheads will find some magic with their marketing and partnerships for this to work, but this move feels like the Steelheads are headed towards an "I told you so" moment.

Best of luck in Brampton, Steelheads, as you look to set down roots for the 2024-25 season. And may the odds forever be in your favour.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Not A Fuzzy Green Jersey?

It's not often that I get to write about moldy fruit in this space, but I'm taking advantage of that opportunity today because it may be the only time I ever get to write about it. Normally, finding mold on fruit in a container or near other fruit would mean tossing out the mold-infected fruit, but one of medicine's greatest discoveries happened due to moldy cantaloupe. While the original discovery was made in London, England, one SPHL city played a major role in producing one of the planet's best antibacterial compounds ever! What was it? Let's find out!

In 1928, Scottish physician Alexander Fleming demonstrated the antibacterial properties of penicillin at St. Mary's Hospital in London. The experiment saw the penicillin mould spores kill off a bacterial culture containing Staphylococcus aureus. This was a rather big discovery in medicine as penicillin appeared to have all sorts of antiseptic properties, but isolating the specific molecular compound was incredibly difficult that not many in the medicine field considered it a historic discovery. Even Fleming had his doubts!

There were several successful treatments of various infections that saw penicillin kill off the bacterial infections in patients throughout the 1930s and early 1940s that gave the medical community some hope that penicillin could be produced in large enough and pure enough quantities to treat more people with smaller dosages. In one case, half the total supply produced was used on one patient, so it's clear that the medical community needed to find a way to mass-produce the medicine.

Australian scientist Howard Florey and researcher Norman Heatley could not persuade the British government to mass-produce the medicine, so they left for the US where they met with the the US government. They were directed to the USDA Northern Regional Research Laboratory in Peoria, Illinois where reesearch and large-scale could be done. As scientists worked to find a strain of penicillin that could be easily produced in mass quantities, the major breakthrough came when scientists discovered a strain of Penicillium fungi on a moldy cantaloupe that far more lethal to bacteria.

This newly-discovered strain had a stronger yield and could be rapidly cultured, and Peoria, Illinois officialy jumped into the business of mass-producing penicillin. Pfizer scientist Jasper H. Kane suggested using a deep-tank fermentation method for producing large quantities of pharmaceutical-grade penicillin, and the new procedure was put into place. By June 1945, over 646 billion units per year were being produced with Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey, and researcher Ernst Chain sharing the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery and development of penicillin.

So why is HBIC becoming Science Blog In Canada, you ask? Well, the SPHL's Peoria Rivermen are going to do a rebrand on March 9, and it has everything to do with Peoria's involvement in the penicillin story!

On that night, the Rivermen will be hosting the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the back-half of a two-game series, and they'll be wearing the jerseys you see to the right as they become the Peoria Penicillin! As per the release about the jersey, "[t]he main logo on the front is a penicillin bottle holding a hockey stick about to shoot a 'puck' that looks like a mold spore, in homage to Penicillin's crucial role in fighting bacterial infections worldwide," and the state outline of Illinois is in behind the anthropomorphic penicillin bottle. Frankly, that's a pretty solid cartoon rendering of penicillin for a logo.

Sticking with the details in the release, "[t]he right shoulder patch features the 'moldy cantaloupe' floating on the Illinois River with the Peoria skyline in the background. The words 'Peoria, Illinois 1st to mass produce Penicillin' is inscribed around the logo." This patch is very straightforward when it comes to Peoria's role in penicillin production, and I love the cantaloupe rendering. I'm not sure who is responsible for it, but that's just good artwork!

Still on the release, "[t]he left shoulder logo features a mortar and pestle, commonly used in pharmaceutical compounding, in the shape of the President's Cup" which is just an intelligent combination of two unrelated things. Well done on this shoulder patch, Rivermen!

Obviously, these jerseys may look different on the ice once we see them in action, but I honestly think these are pretty ingenious in the rebranding that the Rivermen will undertake on March 9. From the fun logos showing the history of Peoria's role in one of medicine's best discoveries to the actual history of the city's involvement and the team embracing it, this is one rebranding I can get behind. And the team will have merchandise closer to the game and will auction off the jerseys after the game!

The Peoria Penicillin will hit the ice on March 9 to see if they can kill off an infection of the Pensacola Ice Pilots. It should be a fun night in Peoria, and here's hoping there are side effects in this contest!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 29 January 2024

Another Incredible Weekend

Let me just say upfront that any weekend spent around the volunteers and staff at the Female World Sport School Challenge is one I wouldn't trade for anything. There's a reason why this tournament is circled on the calendars of a number of teams across western Canada, and it goes to the very heart and soul of the tournament in the volunteer staff, the junior hosts, and the great people behind the scenes doing everything they can to showcase the immense amount of talent on the ice. We were treated to amazing hockey again this weekend from all 16 teams, and we owe those people who put so much time into this tournament a healthy round of applause!

Before we get to posting the audio of the gold medal game, I'm going to recognize these amazing people once again because they are what makes this tournament so good. Make no mistake as we see some incredible hockey, but these are the people that make this tournament happen. Volunteers are the beating heart of this event, so I want to recognize these people.

We'll start with junior hosts who are female minor hockey players that work with the teams to get them anything they may need. These amazing young women keep water bottles filled, sticks on benches, snacks between periods and after games stocked, and anything else that the teams request. Frankly, these young ladies are buzzing around the arena complex so much that you'd think there are a hundred of them. Instead, there are a handful of junior hosts, and they make sure the teams that attend the Female World Sport School Challenge have everything they need. They are simply awesome!

The parents of the players who devote their time to the tournament to ensure its success also need to be recognized, and this goes for current, future, and past parents who log a ton of hours being in penalty boxes to open doors, selecting three stars for each game, preparing snacks for each team as needed, calculating and logging statistical information, updating scores, taking tickets, selling passes, and so much more. Everywhere you look, there's a volunteer helping someone or getting something ready for the next game, and it's a phenomenal sight to see each and every person doing their part to make this tournament a success. I kid you not: parents deserve way more credit than just me saying thanks, but these are the people who keep the machine oiled and running smoothly at the Female World Sport School Challenge.

The staff at St. Mary's Academy who come out and lend a hand at these events are part of the group in the previous paragraph, but there is on person whose infectuous personality makes us feel welcome at the event like we're part of the staff. I cannot say enough good things about Carol-Ann Swayzie who always brings the energy and laughter to the event when the long days have everyone moving a step slower. She's a joy to work with, an absolute pleasure to be around, and a gem of a person in all facets. I am blessed to know her, and I can't wait to work with her again.

Of course, Kathy and Larry Bumstead deserve their own paragraph because of their dedication to this tournament, their commitment to women's hockey at all levels, their spirit in providing the best tournament in western Canada for U18 girls' hockey (in this writer's opinion), and their unwavering positivity and smiles that instantly brighten your day no matter what's been happening.

Running a tournament of this magnitude is no easy feat, and Kathy is the commander of this tournament's volunteer army. We's likely need four or five people to replace her if and when she finally decides to move on, so may she always have eternal youth! Larry's commitment to girls' hockey and his passion for seeing not only his Flames players do well, but all players succeed, is why he's vital to this tournament because he cares so gosh-darn much. Together, these two make the Female World Sport School Challenge so successful as they instill in all of us their drive, passion, smiles, and positivity!

Clearly, I will have missed naming a bunch of amazing people, but just know that this hockey community that works in and around the Female World Sport School Challenge is the reason we are honoured to be part of the event every year. While we only hold a small piece of the puzzle in broadcasting the games, we feel like we're part of the St. Mary's family when we're at the tournament. We have all of you to thank for that, and we cannot express how grateful we are in being part of such a wonderful team!

Not to make this too long-winded, but I am here to chat a little about the gold medal final as we were witness to an incredible game between the MFHL's Winnipeg Avros and the BCEHL's Thompson-Okanagan Lakers. The Avros came in after winning three-straight games following an opening day loss while the Lakers were a perfect 4-0 through the tournament prior to the gold medal game. Would we see the gold medal stay in Winnipeg or could Thompson-Okanagan play a perfect 5-0 tournament in capturing their first gold medal in tournament history?

While a recap is usually what you'd find under the gameday matchup graphics, that's not going to happen here today. Instead, I'm posting this short passage to tell you to listen to the game below. The action was excellent in this game, and the ending to the game was intense and suspenseful as the final moments ticked off the clock.

I want to give thanks to Bryan Sveinson for his call on the game as he settled into the play-by-play role nicely after my voice went hoarse from the eight games called on Thurday and Friday, and I also want to give thanks to Jenna Thompson whose experience at the Female World Sport School Challenge as a player with St. Mary's combined with her play in the ACAC with MacEwan allows her to provide excellent insight into the game. These two are beauties on the mic!

Click the pop-out arrow to the left to stream the game with ads or intermissions features! If you'd like to download this game, click here to initiate the download! Enjoy the game compliments of UMFM!

If you want the recap, you can find that on this link while the scoring summary is here. Otherwise, enjoy the 90-minute, condensed version of the game as we removed ads and intermissions for your enjoyment above! Congratulations go out to all the teams for an amazing tournament, and we'll see you next year for the 2025 Female World Sport School Challenge from January 30 through February 2!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 28 January 2024

The Rundown - Week 14

As you may have seen earlier this week, my routine of watching hockey and finding stories about everything Canada West was on hold this week. I gave it some thought, though, and decided to start writing as much as I could today so that I could have The Rundown come out on its proper day. Today's recaps will be very brief, though, so don't expect me to hype up goals. That's your school's athletics department who should be producing highlight reels for those goals, but we already know eight out of nine of those departments can't do the basics when it comes to celebrating theit athletes. Either way, I'll talk a little about the Female World Sport School Challenge after we get to the scoring summaries on this week's edition of The Rundown!

WEDNESDAY: Yes, that day is correct as the Crowchild Classic moved these two teams to the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary for the annual battle between the Calgary-based institutions. 10,474 fans came down to the big arena in Cowtown to watch the women play in primetime which is incredible! Would they get a battle on the ice worthy of tales they can tell for years to come? Kaitlyn Ross was in the Mount Royal net while Gabriella Durante took the Calgary crease.

The first two periods were played extremely close as neither team hit double-digits in shots in either period, but there were chances. Both Ross and Durante were sharp in denying everything thrown their ways through 40 minutes, but the teams were insistent. Mount Royal killed off a 5-on-3 situation in the first period before offering up a pair of power-plays in the second period that were killed. Calgary had one lone infraction that didn't hurt them either, so the 0-0 tie stood through two periods with Mount Royal having a 7-3 shot edge after 20 minutes and a 12-9 advantage after 40 minutes.

The third period is where the action picked up in terms of lighting lamps, but the two netminders were proving tougher to beat with every save. However, following a Calgary scoring chance, the Dinos saw Dana Wood put a puck on net that was deflected in front by Courtney Kollman that found room through Ross's five-hole as the Dinos took the 1-0 lead at the 7:14 mark off Kollman's ninth goal of the season. The battle between these two teams would continue late into the period before Elizabeth Lang iced the game with an empty-netter for her tenth goal of the season with five seconds to play, and that gave the Calgary Dinos the 2-0 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars! Gabriella Durante stopped all 21 shots she faced for her ninth win and second shutout of the season while Kaitlyn Ross likely deserved a better fate after stopping 20 of 21 shots she saw.

Take note, Canada West schools who don't wear red and yellow: the Dinos put together a five-minute highlight reel of this game. That's five minutes of shots and saves from both teams as we got to see the key plays in this game. The Dinos' athletic department will always have me singing their praises for this effort, so you're now on notice that this kind of highlight reel should be the norm in this conference.

FRIDAY: The home-and-home saw the Dinos meet the Cougars at the Flames Community Arena as this series wrapped up in Calgary. The Dinos were looking to continue their strong play into this game while the Cougars needed to pounce on the Dinos in getting back into the win column. Amelia Awad stood before the Calgary crease in this one while Kaitlyn Ross was back between the pipes for Mount Royal.

After a scoreless first period where the teams traded unsuccessful power-plays, business picked up over 44 seconds in the second period. Despite there being two power-plays for Calgary and a single advantage for Mount Royal, neither would see goals again. However, Athena Hauck broke the goalless game with her seventh goal at 16:20 before Rebecca Clarke scored 44 seconds later for the Dinos when she popped a rebound past Ross from the slot as her third goal this season made it a 1-1 game. That score would hold into the second break where Mount Royal had recorded a 9-4 shot total in the first period and a 17-13 shot total after 40 minutes.

The third period saw the Dinos fly out of the tunnel and carry that intensity onto the ice. Jess Martens scored her fourth goal of the season just 1:24 into the frame to make it 2-1 before Brooklin Fry made it a 3-1 game at 9:20 with her fifth goal. 1:38 later, Elizabeth Lang picked up her 11th goal of the season to pace the Dinos to a 4-1 lead, and it seemed that's how it would it end as the Dinos defended well. The only problem was Ava Metzger found twine with one second to play as her second goal of the season made it 4-2, but it was too little and too late as the Calgary Dinos skated to the 4-2 victory over the Cougars. Amelia Awad picked up her first win of the season with a 20-save effort while Kaitlyn Ross dropped her second-straight game despite making 29 saves.

Honestly, I don't know if Mount Royal simply doesn't care about having one of the top teams in women's hockey in Canada or if they're simply lazy, but I find it incredible that they can make a Crowchild Classic hype video, but can't make highlight reels showing off their players' skills and talents. Just baffling, but I might as well post the hype video in this space because we're not getting highlights from MRU.

FRIDAY: The Huskies made the trip west to Edmonton where the Pandas waited to host their series, and they already knew they had a shot at pulling even with or passing Mount Royal in the standings this weekend if they could find ways to down the Pandas. For Alberta, they looked to move closer to the idle UBC Thunderbirds as the competition for top playoff seed was still very much alive in Canada West. Both teams had very clear motives for wins this weekend as Camryn Drever got the nod for the Huskies while the Pandas went with Halle Oswald in defending their net.

The Huskies didn't wait long to grab a lead in this game as Kendra Zuchotzki's wrist shot from the point found twine for her third goal of the season at 5:45 to put Saskatchewan up a goal. An Alberta power-play midway through the frame saw nothing change on the scoreboard, but the Pandas would break through late in the frame. Cassidy Maplethorpe scored her sixth goal on a fabulous individual effort at 16:46, and this game would hit the first intermission tied 1-1 with Alberta up 11-3 in shots.

The next 40 minutes saw the two teams kill off penalties well as the Pandas killed off five infractions to Saskatchewan's four misdeeds, but neither team could find a lead. Goaltending was on display as both sides had chances, but Drever and Oswald went save-for-save through regulation time. At the end of 60 minutes, the 1-1 tie held, so we'd need overtime to decide this one after the teams each put nine shots up in the second period followed by Alberta holding a 23-17 advantage after an hour of play.

The five-minute overtime saw Alberta get three shots to Saskatchewan's two, but none of those five pucks would find the back of the net. That would send us to the shootout where Camryn Drever made an incredible glove save on the first shot by Madison Willan, denying the Alberta sniper as she stretched out as far as she could to make the stop with the leather to keep Alberta off the board!
From there, Sara Kendall's slow approach worked well when she went over Oswald's glove and under the bar to put Saskatchewan up 1-0 in the skills competition. Natalie Kieser's shootout attempt was going well until the puck rolled off her stick, allowing Drever to end that threat, and Ava Bergman followed Kendall's lead with a shot over the glove for the top-shelf winner as the Saskatchewan Huskies defeated the Alberta Pandas 2-1 in the shootout! Camryn Drever picked up her 14th win of the season with a 25-save performance plus two more in the skills competition while Halle Oswald was tagged with the shootout loss after her 18 stops in regulation time.

Alberta's effort to do highlights is the same as the number of shootout goals they scored on this evening: zero. Great job.

SATURDAY: After having their ten-game win streak snapped, you knew the Pandas were going to respond in the second game. The Huskies had to be ready for that as they were still seeking wins and points to see if they can make up ground on the Pandas as well. Camryn Drever was back in the net for Saskatchewan while the Pandas opted to have Misty Rey start this game.

The Pandas were clearly on a mission in this game as they skated hard and won battles all over the ice in the first period. Drever was sharp in keeping them off the board, but the Pandas would find a crack in her armour as Madison Willan sniped her sixth goal of the season at 11:27 to give the Pandas the 1-0 lead. Three-straight Alberta power-plays certainly didn't give the Huskies a lot of offensive zone time, and that showed at the horn as the Pandas had the one-goal lead and a 13-6 edge in shots.

The Pandas didn't let up in the second period, and the fourth-straight penalty since the start of the game would hurt the Huskies. Hayleigh Craig beat Drever for her third goal of the season ay 8:15, and the power-play marker made it 2-0 for Alberta. We'd see Alberta whistled for a penalty shortly after, and the teams would trade shortened power-plays late in the period that bled into the third period, but the 2-0 lead was the difference after 40 minutes as Alberta held a 25-14 shot advantage.

The third period saw the Pandas continue to shut down the Huskies at all points, and those two goals scored in the previous two periods were more than enough for victory on this day as the Pandas earned the 2-0 win over the Huskies. Misty Rey picked up her fifth win and second shutout in stopping all 19 shots while Camryn Drever made 30 stops in the setback.

You know how many highlights we have of Misty Rey's five wins and two shutouts this season? None. She's having a fantastic year, and the Pandas have done their best in making sure no one knows.

FRIDAY: Perhaps the biggest series this weekend happened in Winnipeg where the Trinity Western Spartans met the Manitoba Bisons with both teams trying to lock down that sixth and final playoff spot. Manitoba had a two-point lead on the Spartans in the standings, so Trinity Western was looking for a big effort to pull them even with the Bisons. Of course, Manitoba could make it very difficult for the Spartans as a win would prevent Trinity Western from bumping them out of sixth-place. Kate Fawcett was in the net for the Spartans while the Bisons went with Emily Shippam in their crease.

The Spartans saw some jump in their skates to begin this game, but the Bisons were able to weather the early storm. A pair of penalties called on the Spartans midway through the frame didn't hurt them, but one Bisons forward would find twine late in the period. Samantha Sichkaruk would finish off a 3-on-1 opportunity at 18:04, and her second goal of the season put the Herd up 1-0. The Bisons would continue to bring the heat in the final two minutes, but the Spartans would escape the pressure thanks to the horn. After 20 minutes, the Bisons led by a goal and led 9-8 in shots.

The second period saw Manitoba continue with their attack as they peppered Fawcett, but she withstood the barrage through the first ten minutes. That helped her team gain some ground as Michela Naccarato's point shot was stopped, but Kyra McDonald corraled the puck in front and beat Shippam at 9:30 for her fourth goal, and the teams were even at 1-1. The goal didn't seem to faze the Bisons, though, as they kept skating and shooting. Sarah Dennehy forced a turnover, passed to Julia Bird, and she spotted Kate Gregoire who went shelf on Fawcett for her third goal at 16:09, and the Bisons restored the one-goal lead. That's how the middle frame would end as the Bisons led 2-1 and had a 23-12 edge on the shot counter.

The third period saw both teams continue to put pucks on net as each side looked for additional goals. They traded power-plays to no avail, and the goaltenders would make key saves down the stretch. When the final horn sounded, that one-goal difference was the difference in this one as the Manitoba Bisons earned the 2-1 win over the Trinity Western Spartans. Emily Shippam stopped 19 shots for her third win of the season while Kate Fawcett made 33 stops in the setback.

The last video highlight package that the Bisons have for any team is when the men's hockey team played Team Ukraine U25 team on the Hockey Can't Stop Tour one full year ago. How do you figure that teams at the next level of sports leagues will scout players if there are no highlight packages showcasing their skills?

SATURDAY: Trinity Western needed a win today if they hoped to keep pace with Manitoba in their pursuit of a playoff spot, so they came into this one knowing what they had to do. The Bisons just needed to keep winning to see if they could track down the Dinos who occupied fifth-place. Wins mattered to both teams on this day as the rematch was set with Kate Fawcett in the Spartans' net while Emily Shippam earned her second-straight start.

Manitoba came out firing on all cylinders as they peppered the Spartans' net with pucks, and it would pay off at the 4:11 mark when Norah Collins one-timed an Aimee Patrick pass to the back of the net, and the Bisons were off and running with a 1-0 lead. Two Manitoba power-plays in the period didn't help their cause, but it did allow for Manitoba to put a bunch of pucks on net before the horn. Through 20 minutes, the Bisons had a 1-0 lead and a 15-5 edge in shots.

The second period saw no goals scored and no penalties taken, but the Bisons increased their shot advantage to 25-14. The third period saw Trinity Western step up their game as they looked for an equalizer, but Emily Shippam was having none of it on this day. When the final horn sounded, the Bisons still held the 1-0 win as they swept the Trinity Western Spartans. Emily Shippam picked up her fourth win and second shutout with a 27-save afternoon while Kate Fawcett deserved more after stopping 31 shots.

Emily Shippam's fantastic weekend has zero highlights of her backstopping the Bisons. She has the best weekend of her Canada West career to date, and there's zero video of it. Simply incredible.

FRIDAY: MacEwan headed southeast for this weekend as the Griffins visited Regina to meet the Cougars. MacEwan's season was now all about being the spoiler as they simply cannot overcome either Trinity Western or Manitoba's lead over them, so they were looking to derail Regina's plans. The Cougars were looking to stay in the playoff race as they tried to catch the Bisons and pass by the Spartans, so they needed wins. Brianna Sank got the start for the Griffins while Arden Kliewer was in the Regina net for this one.

The first period saw a Regina penalty sandwiched between two MacEwan penalties, but neither team came away with a tally as the teams hit the break tied 0-0 with Regina holding a 9-4 lead in shots.

The second period saw the parade to the penalty box continue, but a four-minute double-minor on the Cougars would allow us to see the first goal. It wasn't a power-play goal, but it was Makena Kushniruk who forced a turnover and turned a backhander into a shorthanded goal at the 8:45 mark as her sixth goal put Regina up 1-0. Despite each side having two power-plays, the shorthanded goal stood as the lone marker through 40 minutes as Regina was up 15-12 in shots.

An early power-play for the Cougars in the third period saw them double their lead when Kaylee Dyer's initial stop was stopped, but she potted her own rebound at 1:57 for her third goal and the 2-0 lead. MacEwan took another penalty later in the frame, and the Cougars went back to work as Makena Kushniruk one-timed a feed from Olivia Leggett home at 9:02, and her seventh goal made it a 3-0 game. MacEwan missed out on a short 5-on-3 advantage to try and close the score, and the final horn would have the Cougars victorious by a 3-0 score over the Griffins. Arden Kliewer picked up her fifth win and second shutout by stopping all 24 shots while Brianna Sank made 25 stops for the Griffins.

The last women's hockey highlight reel that the University of Regina posted was four years ago. Students have graduated without ever being on a highlight reel for the school! That's ridiculous, Regina. Get your act together and give these women some respect!

SATURDAY: Regina was looking for the sweep to stay in the hunt for the final playoff spot on Saturday evening while the Griffins were looking to thwart that effort. They'd need to step up their offensive game from Friday if they looked to make Regina's night less memorable. The netminders were a rematch as Brianna Sank was back between the pipes for the Griffins while the Cougars went back to Arden Kliewer as she aimed for a two-win weekend.

The first period was decidely in Regina's favour when it came to shots and scoring chances, but the Griffins would weather the storm thanks to some solid goaltending from Sank. The teams exchanged 14-second power-plays to no avail, and the game would remain 0-0 after 20 minutes despite Regina holding a 15-1 margin in shots. Not a typo!

An early bench minor penalty to the Cougars was the opening that the Griffins needed as Tess Collier's long shot from the point found its way past the traffic in front and Kliewer in the net for her second goal of the season, and the Griffins went up 1-0 at 2:59. The penalties didn't stop there, though, and the teams went back and forth with the advantages. Neither side would find any additional goals, and the second break saw the Griffins up a goal despite Regina leading 27-8 in shots.

The period was more of a defensive struggle as both sides limited chances. A couple of late penalties to the Cougars cost them a chance at getting Kliewer to the bench for the extra attacker, and MacEwan simply ran out the clock as they claimed the 1-0 victory over Regina. Brianna Sank was spectacular in stopping 32 shots for her third win and second shutout of the season while Arden Kliewer was on the wrong side of a ten-save night.

I get that your team didn't win, Regina, but there were still plays that showed talent. Instead, not even an attempted highlight reel. Brutal.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
43 101 29
vs ALB
41 67 22
Mount Royal
36 68 44
36 54 36
vs MRU
24 63 69
19 44 74
14 35 71
Trinity Western
13 45 71
vs REG
9 34 95
vs MAN

The Scenarios

For UBC to clinch first-place and the top seed in the playoffs, they need to sweep the Pandas this week. That would make next weekend's series against Mount Royal moot for the Thunderbirds.

For Alberta to clinch second-place and one of the top-two seeds in the playoffs, any combination of two Pandas wins in regulation OR a Pandas win in regulation plus a Mount Royal loss would guarantee the Pandas at least second-place in the conference. To win the tiebreaker against UBC, Alberta needs to defeat UBC twice this weekend OR win one in regulation and push one game to extra time while outscoring the Thunderbirds this weekend. That would make the final weekend's games meaningful for both teams.

For Mount Royal and Saskatchewan, they have the same path: win both games OR win one in regulation and push one game to extra time while outscoring the opposition to win the tie-breaker between the two teams. Neither team can clinch the third-place spot this weekend, but winning the tiebreaker would go a long way in trying to achieve that. Saskatchewan is one overall win behind Mount Royal, so they need to pull either of the above scenarios to win the tiebreaker as they do have more regulation wins than Mount Royal at this time.

Calgary is on a bye week, but can clinch fifth-place if Manitoba loses both games this weekend. You know they'll be cheering loudly for the Griffins against the Bisons.

For Manitoba to clinch the final playoff spot, any combination of two Bisons wins in regulation OR a Bisons win in regulation plus a Regina loss would guarantee Manitoba at least sixth-place in the conference. Manitoba does hold the tiebreaker over Regina, so any six-point difference on Saturday or four-point difference after this weekend will eliminate the Cougars from the postseason. Manitoba also holds the tiebreaker on Trinity Western, so two points of any kind this weekend will eliminate the Spartans from the postseason.

Both Regina and Trinity Western are going to need some help from MacEwan, but their roads are the same: win both games. If the series is split between the two teams, both teams are eliminated. If Regina loses both games or loses one while Manitoba wins one, they're eliminated. If Trinity Western loses either game or both games in extra time, they're eliminated regardless of what Manitoba does.

MacEwan's weekend is simple: throw a major monkeywrench in Manitoba's postseason aspirations.

An Early Look

If there was one player that I was lucky enough to see a few times this weekend, it was Thompson-Okanagan Lakers forward Holly Magnus who will be heading to the University of Alberta next year. I made the comment a couple of times on the broadcasts, but she already looks like a Panda based on how she plays the game. Pandas fans, you're in for a treat!

Among the other players we got to watch were Hannah Reagh of the Yellowhead Chiefs who looks like she'll be an impact player for the Calgary Dinos, Hallie Franklin of the Westman Wildcats who should be able to push for a roster spot on the Saskatchewan Huskies' blue line, and both Kelsey Huibers and Addison Vines of the Westman Wildcats will make the Bisons a deeper team with their skillsets.

Honestly, there were a pile of players I really think could help a number of Canada West teams moving forward that we saw at the 2024 Female World Sport School Challenge, and I'm shocked that more of players on all the teams hadn't been recruited and signed yet. There's still time, though, so hopefully your team had someone watching the games!

The Last Word

Next weekend's games will likely determine who finishes where in Canada West. There may be a flip-flop in positions for a few teams based on how the final weekend goes for each team, but we should know at least five of the six teams who are in the postseason. We may even see all six berths filled by the time Sunday rolls around, and we'll see if we might be able to figure out who will play each other in that opening round!

If you're not excited for next weekend, folks, check your pulse!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 27 January 2024

What's Your Favorite Hockey Appliance?

It may seem like a silly question, but what is your favorite hockey kitchen appliance? Some will shake their head at this question, but there might be one you like for a specific reason. For example, players are known to drink coffee before games, so maybe it's a coffee machine or an espresso machine. Maybe it's the refrigerator where a number of cold drinks and snacks can be kept for rehydrating and replenishing the bodies with fluids and nutrients. We often hear of rinks being described as "deep freezes" which would indicate a very cold freezer. For one AHL team, though, they were almost a very specific type of appliance, and it may not be one that would be obvious when it comes to the hockey connection.

For those who aren't in the know or perhaps missed the IHL era, the Grand Rapids Griffins were granted an expansion franchise into the International Hockey League after they lifted the city metropolitan population requirements of one million people and thanks, in part, to Grand Rapids having a fully-financed new arena and 8000 season-ticket deposits pledged for a new team. At the time, the IHL was impressed with the community response to having a minor-league hockey franchise, the new venue in which a team could play, and the finances of the ownership group comprised of Amway executives Dave Van Andel and Dan DeVos.

With the team beginning play in 1995-96, the new Grand Rapids IHL franchise needed a name, and the team decided to hold a a "name the team" contest in June 1995 with the only requirements being that the names had to have some sort of permutation "with a face... with a personality, that we can translate into a mascot of some sort" as reported by Gretchen Flemming in The Grand Rapids Press. Clearly, that would open the door to all sorts of options of fans to select as a potential team name and identity, and the suggestions came flooding into the West Michigan Hockey, Inc. offices.

Ultimately, "Grand Rapids Griffins" was the name selected for the team, and they'd begin a long and successful run through the IHL that would see them incorporated into the AHL for the 2001-02 season. Tonight, however, it seems the Griffins are going to play a little "What if..." with their jerseys and franchise as the image to the right shows one of the team names that was submitted. Where it got to in the evaluation process is anyone's guess, but it would have been one of the rare times a kitchen appliance was worn a professional hockey team's jerseys as "Griffins" was up against the "Flying Toasters" in the team name contest!

If you're curious, the Griffins did don the Flying Toasters jerseys tonight for their game against the Belleville Senators, and the Toasters got six different goal scorers to pace them to the 6-4 win in front of a sold-out Van Andel Arena! The 10,834 fans saw the Toasters heat up as William Wallinder and Albert Johansson scored first-period goals to put Grand Rapids out in front 2-0. Four second period goals by the Senators would erase the 2-0 lead plus a Tyler Spezia goal early in the third period as the Senators carried the 4-3 lead to the third period, but Austin Czarnik, Elmer Soderblom, and an empty-netter from Jonatan Berggren in the final frame would push the Toasters to victory! Maybe the Grand Rapids Flying Toasters should play another game in the future with that kind of success?

The recap can be found here, and the photo gallery of the game is linked here if you want to see more amazing Flying Toasters jerseys. As cool as the Flying Toasters are, however, they were not the first kitchen appliance to appear on a team's jersey in the AHL. You may think I'm joking about this since kitchen appliances aren't commonly selected as professional hockey team identities, but another former IHL team beat the Griffins to the punch when it came to making a connection to an appliance! The fun part is that this other team isn't that far away from Grand Rapids, Michigan, so one might laugh at the midwest's dedication to hockey and kitchen appliance connections!

Back in 2019-20, the Milwaukee Admirals celebrated the team's 50th season of existence. In doing so, they reached back into team history to bring forth some interesting news and notes, and one of them was how the team was named. Again, for those not knowing, the Admirals were founded "when local businessman and appliance store owner Erwin Merar Frank bought the team in 1970 and decided to name the team after one of his most successful brands: Admiral Appliance" meaning that the Milwaukee Admirals were actually named after a kitchen appliance! The team decided to honour that heritage by wearing the Fridge jerseys on Saturday, April 4th, 2020 when they hosted the Rockford IceHogs. Of course, 2020 was the year that COVID-19 decided to introduce itself and that game never happened - the Fridge jerseys were never actually worn on the ice!

Historically, the Admirals never wore the Fridge logo in their history, but they were technically first to have an appliance as a logo. Those Flying Toasters are pretty sweet, though, and they technically may be the first appliance logo to be used in an official AHL game. Either way, the Flying Toasters story is just as cool as the Admirals' Fridge logo story, and that's gotta count for something.

It might be food for thought, but appliance logos are pretty cool. I'm not saying they're a recipe for success in any way, but it can be an ingredient for a fun night at the rink. Of course, everyone's tastes differ in hockey, so maybe the appliance logos simply don't excite your palette. Whatever the case, the Flying Toasters were enough to whet my appetite for more fun, appliance-themed logos, so let's hope this won't be the only serving of kitchen-themed appliances we see!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 26 January 2024

A Friday Of Threads

Usually when someone is talking about threads on a blog, there are a series of links that will follow. That won't be the case today, though, as we have a pile of new clothes that will be worn in various leagues to examine, and I'll happily and freely provide my thoughts on each of the jerseys that will be tonight and in the future. Frankly, I struggle to understand how some of these get greenlit as official jerseys in any capacity, but there will be one today that makes me chuckle because of the controversial animal the logo displays. Let's get to it and check out these threads!

We'll start in the NHL as the annual Stadium Series games are nearly here, and you know these are just going to be horrific jerseys based on past Stadium Series' looks. Honestly, forcing these games every year is certainly a treat for the fans in those specific locales where they're held, but the remainder of the NHL fanbase seems to be very "meh" when it comes to the spectacle. Heck, even the Winter Classic this season was "meh" by all ratings standards.

The Flyers and Devils will both take part in the Stadium Series this season, and it seems the NHL got the logos right for both teams so let's give that a plus as we break these down. In 2014, the Devils wore their historic red-and-green jerseys, so it seemed inevitable that we'd get black and red if there was another... and we did. I'm not a fan of blacking out the logo, but I get the idea. A lack of any other colour, though, makes it feel incomplete. If the NHL is aiming for "meh" outdoor games, they're holding up their end of the bargain by having the Devils dress in "meh" uniforms with zero creativity.

New Jersey Devils Stadium Series jersey rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Philadelphia Flyers aren't really giving me the vibes of a Broadstreet Bullies team in their nearly all-white look. I do appreciate the smaller TV numbers up on the shoulders, but the lack of a shoulder yoke means we're missing Flyers' orange in key places to have these jerseys carry the Philly look. I will credit the Flyers for having a traditional logo on the front, but the shoulder yoke would have eliminated a lot of unnecessary white and zero creativity.

Philadelphia Flyers Stadium Series jersey rating: ★★☆☆☆

There's a significant divergence between the two New York-based teams here, and you likely won't be surprised which one disappoints me. I'll start with the New York Rangers because this Stadium Series jersey is, essentially, a twist on the current home jersey they wear as the "NYR" runs vertically in the diagonal from shoulder to hip like "Rangers" does, so the Rangers are doing well. Where they fall off with these jerseys is the lack of a shoulder yoke as well as the white is absolutely begging for some contrast. I'm not going to fault the Rangers for re-imagining their home jerseys as that requires some creativity, but that contrast missing does hurt their final score.

New York Rangers Stadium Series jersey rating: ★★★☆☆

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the people who are looking after the New York Islanders and their jersey history are in it just for laughs. The amount of garbage being poured into this Stadium Series effort is rather amazing, so let's go over the cardinal sins: no logo to identify the team, an informal nickname used on the jersey, zero creativity, and a rather blank canvas that is left with everything living on the middle stripe. The Islanders must have been bored in their design meeting and simply said "copy that Smashville jersey". That's the only way I can justify this unoriginal tire fire of a jersey.

New York Islanders Stadium Series jersey rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The San Jose Sharks took their time in introducing yet another black alternate jersey to the world, but it finally was released on Thursday as the Sharks took to social media to show it off. I will give the Sharks credit with this jersey as they got a little creative, but black jerseys aren't very hockey-friendly in terms of design elements nor are they a fun colour. It's harder to see unless you click the picture for a closer look, but the stripes closest to the hem and the cuffs extended downward and get thinner as they go as they represent the ripples in water because, well, Sharks. That Northern California patch on the shoulder along with the dorsal fin logo are great examples of creative design, and I like the results they bring as both logos should stand the test of time.

My biggest issue is that the Sharks insist on using black alternates, and I really cringe at the thought of another black jersey in their wardrobe. The Sharks already wear one of the more unique colours in the NHL as their teal that has moved away from the bluish-teal they wore to a more grayish-teal, but I wish they'd go back to the bluish-teal for this jersey and have that heritage colour as their alternate. It would tie the old colour into the new era, and we'd still get a very stylish jersey. The ripple stripes in black would be a little more pronounced as well.

Overall, though, I like some of the design elements on the Sharks' new alternate. I'll always avoid a black jersey where I can, but the Sharks do have history with the colour despite those jerseys never really sticking around for more than a few years. In any case, the Sharks will skate in black for every home game in February and March as these jerseys will see ice-time for 11 games.

San Jose Sharks alternate jersey rating: ★★★☆☆

We got to see the Brandon Wheat Kings re-imagine their history previously this season in the WHL when they took the ice as the Wheat City Walleye, and it seems another WHL team is going to follow their lead by rebranding for one night as the Prince Albert Raiders grab a new identity as they host the Saskatoon Blades tonight! What kind of rebrand, you ask? Have a chuckle at this.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are your Lake Country Cobra Chickens!
For those who may be wondering about the name, Canadian geese will charge and hiss like a snake at whatever danger they're trying to intimidate, earning the slang name of "cobra chicken" for this act of defence. Prince Albert decided to jump into the deep end with this identity Raiders business manager Mike Scissons told PAnow's Nolan Kowal, "[t]he more you looked into cobra chickens online the more and more you saw some of these funny videos of people being chased by a goose on a lakefront or on a golf course or on a jog."

While the Cobra Chickens will only exist for one night in 2023-24, it seems the popularity may prompt the Raiders to give the name and identity some consideration moving forward.

"It was incredible the moment we put the actual logo out on social media and the website and the reaction we were getting," Scissons said, adding that there's been a demand not only in Saskatchewan but across North America and as far away as Europe. "I was helping process some of the online orders and shipping them out, and the places that we were shipping the merchandise to... it was unbelievable. This thing has taken off probably larger than what we expected."

Honestly, as a one-night promotion? This is simply awesome!

Lake Country Cobra Chickens jersey rating: ★★★★★

And just for a little more Cobra Chickens fun, check out the wordmark and the rather incredible secondary logo! I love that leg sticking out of the bottom of the egg! I'd buy a hat with that logo!

As stated off the top, there were some bad, there was some good, and we got to see a WHL team take the cake with their fun rebrand for one night. Honestly, if the NHL jerseys had half the creativity the Prince Albert Raiders did, I feel like we'd see some very popular NHL jerseys being worn for special games. I'll give a nod to the Sharks for a bit of a rebrand as they showed some creativity, but you're gonna have a hard time selling me on the Stadium Series jerseys when there are Cobra Chickens jerseys out there to be had.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 25 January 2024

The Hockey Show - Episode 592

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with a show that's going to dive into contentious topics as things get a little murkier in London, Ontario on two front. No one really enjoys talking about this stuff, but the darker side of hockey is the side that has to be discussed if we want it brought to light. Our hosts will jump into those discussions tonight as they try to figure out what happens next in both cases. There may be some lively discussion about the new details emerging in these stories at The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT!

Apparently, posting a show preview works better if one actually hits the "Publish" button, so I apologize to those who may have been looking for this preview. Tonight, Teebz and Jason will discuss Patrick Roy landing in Long Island to coach the Islanders, the five players excused indefinitely from their teams to visit London police, the new developments in the Western Mustangs women's hockey saga, and they'll get everyone ready for a week of amazing U18 female hockey as the Female World Sport School Challenge gets underway in Winnipeg at the Hockey For All Centre. Lots of questions will be raised, there may not be many answers for those questions which need to be answered, but there should be a lot of discussion tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

If you live outside Winnipeg and want to listen, we have options! The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. We also recommend Radio Garden if you need an easy-to-use online stream. 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 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 chat about new coaches, old charges, players involved, programs involved, a major tournament, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: Janaury 25, 2024: Episode 592

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 24 January 2024

A Prime Entrance

It's not often that you find an entry on a government website like the one seen above, but the Prime Minister's official itinerary, which can be viewed online, had that entry on it tonight. Justin Trudeau doesn't often attend sporting events unless there's a specific reason to do so, but it's pretty cool that he decided to take some out of his schedule to visit the newest professional team to call Ottawa home. Joining the man with the biggest title in Canada were his kids, Xavier and Ella, as Ottawa and Boston met in PWHL action tonight.

Trudeau met the players in their locker room for a bit of a pre-game speech prior to them taking the ice which is cool, but that's for the players to enjoy. That video is circulating on social media so feel free to looking if you're interested, but it was pretty cool seeing him and his kids fist-bumping players are they headed out onto the ice.
I'll be honest when I say I can't remember any other head of states doing this kind of thing, but remove the political sideshow from the equation and it's pretty to see that Justin Trudeau is a pretty down-to-earth human being. I'm not here to help push his ideologies or policies in any way, but when's the last time that Prime Minister fist-bumped the Ottawa Senators or the Ottawa RedBlacks as they came out of the tunnel? Hint: it doesn't happen often.

Boston would end up winning this evening in a very entertaining game after Theresa Schafzahl scored off an Ottawa giveaway with 52 seconds remaining to give Boston the 3-2 victory. I'm not one to complain about the result because the overall aesthetic of seeing 5208 people at a women's hockey game on a Wednesday night in late January is proof that professional women's hockey can thrive in the right markets. Ottawa may have lost, but no one went home unhappy because the game was so entertaining. Between the physicality, the developing rivalries, and the goals scored, professional women's hockey has driven a stake in the ground in terms of claiming their part of the hockey market.

Having the Prime Minister visit you before the game? That's an experience no one in that room will forget any time soon, but the memories for the Trudeaus might be equal since this is the first time that Ottawa's had a full professional women's hockey team. Those memories are the same priceless moments for every little girl who watches these games and sees the women living their dreams.

I'm glad the Prime Minister and his kids had a good time at the game tonight, but the 5208 people who showed up on a Wednesday night to watch professional women's hockey is proof that the PWHL was worth effort, the sacrifices, and the wait when it comes to having the best players competing at the highest levels!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 23 January 2024

The Sked Ahead

The board to the left is what Mellisa Caruso stares at every year as she tries to make the AHL schedule work. Imagine trying to make sure every game is played on that board for all 31 AHL teams while dealing with arena schedules and league-planned events and everything else that goes on in a professional hockey league. My head would spin, but HBIC is dealing with its own scheduling quirks this week as there's a pile of stuff happening. Let's get to it.

The 2024 Female World Sport School Challenge begins on Thursday, Janaury 25 at 12pm CT with the Rink Hockey Academy squaring off against the Winnipeg Ice. I'll be calling the majority of games assuming my voice holds up over on the UMFM Second Stream all tournament long, so tune in using the link above or head over to the Female World Sport School Challenge page for the link there! If you're wondering if your favorite team is going to have a radio call, here's the UMFM broadcast schedule for the tournament. Click to enlarge!

Some may be asking about The Hockey Show since we'll be live on the radio during its normal broadcast time on Thursday, but Jason and I have made arrangements and will have new episode that we've pre-recorded for Thursday night. If you're not listening to the tournament action, The Hockey Show will still be on UMFM as normal. Yes, we're dedicated to our craft.

The Rundown may be delayed this week due to the 2024 Female World Sport School Challenge Gold Medal Game happening Sunday morning at 10am CT. Normally, I'm working on stories and recaps at that time, but that won't happen if I'm watching and calling a hockey game. For those who read The Rundown every Sunday, it will be moved to Monday when I've had time to review games and catch up on the action I missed. I know - I've ruined your Sunday!

If you're in the Winnipeg area or region, your Friday night should already be booked. If it's not, you now have plans that night!
Come down to the Hockey For All Centre to see the Eastman Selects and the St. Mary's Academy Flames battle in the 2024 Female World Sport School Challenge Banner Game! Minor hockey players coming down in their team jerseys get free admission, and any parent or guardian will get in free as well! How awesome is that deal? Come watch these two great Winnipeg-based female U18 teams put on a show (for free!) on Friday, January 26 at the Hockey For All Centre!

Clearly, it's a busy week for me, the blog, the radio show, and the broadcasts we're doing at the 2024 Female World Sport School Challenge, but this is the kind of action of which I enjoy being a part so I'm excited for the fun! If you're coming down to the tournament, drop by the PCL Arena and give us a wave as we're in behind the penalty box. Visitors are certainly welcome to come and say hi as long as we're not in the middle of a broadcast! See you at the rink!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 22 January 2024

Finding New Ways To Lose

There are times in sports where I wonder what is going through players' heads when they see something happen that's outside the ordinary, but we saw one of those events tonight in the game between the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins and the host Arizona Coyotes. Besides being two teams moving in opposite directions in the standings, one team has a collection of Hall-of-Fame candidates while the other plays in a rink that's been endeared as the "Party Barn". In any case, one of the rarer sights in hockey was witnessed in the Arizona desert tonight, and I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what the intention of each player was on this play.

Before we get into the breakdown, let's see the play in question.
With a delayed penalty in effect, the Penguins pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Letang looks like he's going to break out of his zone quite easily as he's already beat one Coyotes player and evades a second Coyotes' check. Inexplicably, he turns away from the third player applying pressure, heading back into his own zone rather than turning up ice when given the chance after skating past the second check. It's at this point that the Coyotes regroup, and Letang drops the puck off for Evgeni Malkin whose casual, one-handed attempt at controlling the puck ends up sliding the puck into the vacant Pittsburgh net to give Arizona a 4-2 lead.

Again, I'm baffled by so many aspects of this play. The Penguins had numbers as Letang broke out of his zone, so why wasn't the puck skated through the middle of the ice away from the two checking Coyotes? What was Malkin doing in trying to corral that puck as casually as he did with a check bearing down on him? Why wouldn't Malkin skate into the pass rather than backing further into his zone? Why did Letang simply not turn to his left where there was no one standing and he had room to attack once again?

Clearly, there was zero communication between Letang and Malkin as Letang's pass was going to be wide of the net before Malkin changed the puck's course, but Letang was literally setting Malkin up for a more difficult breakout with a Coyotes player bearing down on him quickly. That pass has to be perfect for Malkin to turn it up ice past the oncoming attacker, but it was nowhere close to being where Malkin needed it. Beyond that, what was Malkin doing in front of his own net rather than using the net as an obstacle to separate himself from the Coyotes player?

What makes this even more astounding is that it helped the Coyotes set a record that can only be equaled. According to the Coyotes' public relations people, the Coyotes became the first team to score a power-play goal without recording a power-play shot in a game. The Coyotes finished the game 1-for-3 with the advantage while recording zero shots on their power-play chances. That's simply ridiculous, but it's officially a record in the NHL history books.

The Coyotes would win this game by a 5-2 score, but I'm sure it won't be one the Penguins will forget anytime soon thanks to the play shown above. For a team that simply can't find any sort of consistent play, adding to their opponent's score is not something that will sit well with anyone in the black-and-yellow. Maybe it's a lack of communication among players on the ice or maybe it's very good players trying to free-wheel their way around the ice, but there's no way that puck should have ended up in Pittsburgh's net.

Had Letang been more aggressive in moving up the ice, it would have been fine. Had Letang and Malkin figured out how they were going to breakout prior to their mistakes, it would have been fine. Had Malkin simply played conservatively and left the errant pass alone, it would have been fine. Sometimes, a player or players can try to do too much, and it bites them in the rear end. See above highlight.

The Penguins are in danger of missing the playoffs yet again this season, and tonight's loss didn't help their cause. The line "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" doesn't apply here because the Penguins seem to have a lot to fix, so finding a starting point might be difficult. An effective breakout is probably high on the list, but, whatever the problems are, it would be helpful if the Penguins could stop finding new ways to lose on a regular basis.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!