Hockey Headlines

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 140

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with an examination into nine years of hockey action! You might ask why nine years and not a decade, but there's a reason for that. The California Seals, aka the Oakland Seals and California Golden Seals, existed for that span of time and their existence was the stuff of legend. From the innovations to the downright stupidity, the Seals have a unique history, and we'll speak with a man who is making the history of the Seals his business!

This is Mr. Mark Greczmiel! Mark is a writer and producer of documentaries, and he's been a TV producer for a number of outlets including NBC and E! Entertainment. Needless to say, he's an experienced producer when it comes to good TV. He also is a transplanted Canadian living in the Bay Area who grew up watching the Seals as a kid, and that's from where his love of the Seals stems! Mark is currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund the costs of producing this documentary, and he needs your help! Only eight days remain on the campaign and he's a wee bit short! Click on and see if you can help his cause in telling the story about the Seals!

We'll talk to him about the 1967 NHL expansion, the Seals' myriad of owners over the years, the on-ice and off-ice problems that plagued this team, Charles Finley, and some of the innovations that the Seals used that were adopted by the NHL! Honestly, how many of you know anything about the Seals because I learned a ton of stuff in researching this topic! We'll also talk about the IndieGoGo campaign and where the progress is in Mr. Greczmiel's documentary!

We're super-excited to have Mr. Greczmiel on the show tonight as we have lots of questions for him about the Seals and their short existence of big ideas and somewhat questionable business practices. Join us tonight on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. It's a hockey history show tonight as we look at the California Seals on The Hockey Show!

PODCAST: May 21, 2015: Episode 140

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 3

Well, the AHL will certainly look a little different going forward. There was a major coaching change in the NHL today that we'll touch on as I'm certain there will be AHL ramifications, and the second round of the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs have been decided. There are four more teams going home with no prize to their names while four teams remain in the tournament. Who are they? We'll discuss who is playing whom as the playoffs continue. We'll also take a quick look at a certain player mentioned last week who seems to be on no team's radar right now and we'll chat about players who will be in Moose colors next season. Let's get the banter rolling!

Babcock Walks

Mike Babcock, perhaps this summer's most coveted free agent, made his decision today, and it has left two teams reeling in the wake of his decision. If you haven't heard, Babcock opted to sign on as the new head coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs, leaving vacancies in Detroit and Buffalo to fill after he apparently had been talking with both clubs. We'll talk about Buffalo in a second, but Detroit has a rather unique situation on their hands.

I have made the case that Jeff Blashill should be promoted after his tireless work in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins and his work with the various young players who have been promoted to NHL jobs. He once again has the Griffins in the Western Conference Final of the Calder Cup Playoffs, and he continually proves he's an extremely effective and competent coach.

If he doesn't get the job, I would guess that Blashill walks. But Ken Holland isn't that dumb. Once the Griffins are done playing hockey this season, I expect an announcement from the Red Wings within days of the end of the Griffins' season where Jeff Blashill will be the new head coach of the Red Wings. It's the easiest decision that Holland will have this off-season.

The tougher decision? Who replaces Blashill?

Buffalo Is On Fire

The Buffalo Sabres are furious regarding Babcock's decision in that they felt they had reached a verbal agreement with the coach. With Babcock now in Toronto, they still need to fill their coaching vacancy, and I'm certain Tim Murray will run home to momma if given the opportunity.

Luke Richardson currently coaches the Binghamton Senators. He and Tim Murray worked together with the Ottawa Senators, so there's a connection. Richardson's work at Binghamton has seen him go 122-82-24 in three seasons behind the bench, and he's seen 12 players make the jump to the Senators to become full-time players. Needless to say, his hockey acumen can't be ignored.

The other aspect? Family. Morgan, his daughter, attends Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His wife, Stephanie, and he like the area. Moving to Buffalo is a little further from Ithaca than Binghamton is, but he's still easily within a drive of a few hours.

While this might be a little tougher than Holland's decision, Luke Richardson in Buffalo almost seems like a perfect fit.

Calder Cuppers

The Manchester Monarchs advanced to the Eastern Conference Final after downing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-1 in their semifinal series. Three games were decided by one goal and two others were 5-2 decisions, but the Monarchs were far too much for the Penguins to handle in this series.

The Hartford Wolfpack, like their NHL affiliate, downed the Hershey Bears to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. Hartford won both overtime games at Hersey in the series, and they say that if you win on the road, the series is yours. Hershey led the series 2-1 before Hartford rattled off three straight wins to take the series 4-2.

Grand Rapids, as mentioned above, is in the Western Conference Final after they sent the Rockford IceHogs packing in a 4-1 series win. Grand Rapids won both games on home before dropping Game Three in Rockford by a 4-1 score, but took the next two games in the series including Game Four in overtime. They had a pile of time to rest as well as they prepared for their next opponents who went the distance in their series.

The Utica Comets, after seven hard-fought games, will advance to their first Western Conference Final to play the Griffins after ending Oklahoma City's run in the playoffs and in the AHL. This was like watching two heavyweights throwing punches at one another as they went back and forth in this series: OKC in four overtime periods, Utica in OT, Utica, OKC, Utica, OKC, Utica. Five of the seven games were decided by a goal including Game Seven's 1-0 victory for Utica. Needless to say, Utica can use the break between series because they're probably exhausted.

What About Jaff?

Despite the public desire to see Jason Jaffray come back to Winnipeg to play with the Moose, it appears True North Sports and Entertainment will go in a different direction after they informed the 33 year-old veteran he will not be offered a contract to join the Moose.

"I was surprised and yes, I was a little bit hurt," Jaffray said to The Compass' Brendan McCarthy last Thursday. "It's not a great feeling when anybody tells you they don't want you for their team anymore. It's definitely a shot to the ego, but I still have confidence I can play."

I'm shocked that they aren't bringing the veteran back, but GM Craig Heisinger has stated that the Moose will be a developmental team first. Personally, that kind of sucks as I was always a Jaffray fan, and I hope he doesn't come back to haunt the Moose when they meet where ever he lands. He's a class act and a great guy, and I wish him nothing but the best in his future hockey endeavours.

How About That Hellebuyck Guy?

Connor Hellebuyck spent the last couple of weeks making Jets fans salivate as he posted crazy numbers at the IIHF World Championship. The 22 year-old went into the tournament looking to make a good impression, and left the tournament with a bronze medal on the strength of his 7-1 record, 2 shutouts, 1.37 GAA, and .947 save percentage. Gaudy numbers for the youngster!

Ondrej Pavelec is signed for two more years, but Hellebuyck's progression has been nothing short of impressive as he's climbed the depth chart to establish himself as arguably Winnipeg's most important blue-chip prospect. Don't think goaltending is important? Rinne, Price, Lundqvist, and Quick have proven that great goalies can carry teams far.

Connor Hellebuyck isn't on those goalies' levels yet, but he's on his way.

Memorial Cup Watching

The Jets will have eyes on the Memorial Cup where they have two defencemen play key roles on two teams at the tournament. Josh Morrissey is a major cog in the Kelowna Rockets' success while Jan Kostalek has been nothing short of spectacular in Rimouski's run to the President's Cup in the QMJHL.

I expect Kostalek to play a more offensive role than Morrissey based on the style of play from the two teams, but it will be interesting to see these two highly-skilled defencemen play through the Memorial Cup competition.

Kostalek was named as the best defenceman in the QMJHL this season on the strength of seven goals and 43 points in 57 games, but he showed up when it mattered most as he notched eight goals and 21 points in 20 playoff games. Morrissey, on the other hand, had two goals and 13 points in 10 playoff games to go along with 13 goals and 25 assists in 47 games with Prince Albert and Kelowna.

If I'm the Jets and Moose, I cant wait for these two offensive dynamos to roll into town.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Susan Sarandon: Rangers Fan

There's a certain respectability that NHL teams take when they find out that they have a celebrity fan. You expect it in Los Angeles. Nashville's another great place to see country music stars. New York has its fair share of fans as well. For a long time, though, Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon has been a fan of the Rangers. She goes to games when her schedule allows, and she's enthusiastic about cheering on the Blueshirts. And yes, that is Matthew Modine in front of her. However, is she a true fan who shows her support elsewhere in the public eye?

Actually, yes. If you followed hockey during last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, you know that Jimmy Fallon celebrated the success of the New York Rangers in a big way, especially as he and Jimmy Kimmel went head-to-head as the Rangers and Los Angeles Kings met in the Stanley Cup Final.

Well, last night on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Hugh Jackman was on and they played a game of Password. Mr. Jackman was lucky enough to get Nick Offerman as a partner, but Jimmy introduced Susan Sarandon as his partner. And what as she wearing?
As you can hear, Jimmy is pretty stoked and even drops a "Go Rangers" into the conversation. Sarandon bringing the fanaticism to The Tonight Show!

I guess when you have your own Rangers jersey, you can be counted as a fan as well. Outside of musicians who get them for showing up at an arena, I haven't seen a lot of celebrities with their own personalized Rangers jersey. Yes, I realize she wasn't wearing it at the Fallon taping which happened before Game Two yesterday, but it's still pretty cool to know that she has both a home and road Rangers jersey.

If she dropped a Lady Liberty in there, Susan Sarandon might just be the coolest celebrity fan, like, ever!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 18 May 2015

RBC Cup: Biggest Fight In The Dogs

I didn't post the semifinal games from the RBC Cup with the IIHF World Championship Final taking place on Sunday, but the image to the left should tell you who won. There were four teams vying for the right to hoist the trophy and only one team would remain at the conclusion of Sunday night's final. Needless to say, a great week of hockey was seen by the thousands of people who filled PCU Centre, and all of them can say they were witness to one of the greatest tournaments in recent history!

I'm going to HBIC Correspondent and friend Jeremie Gauvin handle the semifinal info. He was out there in Portage la Prairie all week as a linesman working the event, and he's did an outstanding job in this writer's view. I'll post the goal-scorers after the wrap-up because they deserve a little recognition, but I'll save my comments for the championship game.

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The first semi-final kicked off with the Penticton Vees and the Carleton Place Canadians. In the first period, you could tell that both teams were very nervous and scared to make a mistake. When the first period ended, the game was scoreless. In the second period, the same type of play continued as both teams looked hesitant to take a risk. It wasn't until 6:06 into the second, on a delayed penalty, that the Vees would open the scoring. CPC wasn't going to roll over and give up, though, as they would strike with 2:05 remaining left in the second to tie the game at 1-1. In the third, the pace picked up and you could tell both teams were hungry to get to the gold-medal game on Sunday. When the horn sounded at the end of the third, we remained knotted up at 1-1. Off to overtime we went and both teams had many chances, notably having Penticton non the power-play twice. I was starting to think that we might be in for a long game after the two teams played through one extra frame. The second overtime began and, at the 3:43 into the period, CPC would win the game with a chip shot over the Vees goalie's pad. CPC returns to the Gold Medal game for the second time in back to back years.

Goal-scorers included Penticton's Tyson Jost at 6:06 and and Carleton Place's Stephen Baylis at 2:05 of the second period. The overtime winner was scored by Jordan Larson. Guillaume Therien made 36 of 37 saves in his 83:43 of work in the win while Hunter Miska stopped 38 of 40 shots he faced in the double-overtime loss.

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With CPC punching their ticket to Sunday, the Portage Terriers and Melfort Mustangs were looking to do the same. The sold-out PCU center was nervous when Melfort would open the scoring at 3:53 of the 2nd period. That lead was short lived when the Terriers would tie things up at the 7:09 mark. Portage would not look back and kept their foot on the gas, striking again at the 8:19 mark and at the 14:50 mark while being shorthanded. Portage had a commanding 3-1 lead going into the intermission, and in the third period we would see a lot more of the same from the Terriers. It was at the 8:44 mark that the Terriers would strike again on the power-play to take a 4-1 lead. Portage would go ahead 5-1 when they would score again at the 9:22 mark on the power play once again. The final nail in the coffin would take place at the 16:31 mark when the Terriers would put one into the empty net. Portage would go on to win the game by a final score of 6-1 and punch their ticket to the final on Sunday evening against the Carleton Place Canadians.

Melfort's lone goal-scorer would be David Heath at the 3:53 mark of the second period. From there, it was all Terriers. In order, they went Garick Gray (7:09 - 2nd), Taylor Friesen (8:19 - 2nd), Brett Orr (SHG 14:50 - 2nd), Zack Waldvogel (PPG 8:44 - 3rd), Jordyn Boyd (PPG 9:22 - 3rd), and Boyd again (ENG 16:31 - 3rd). Zac Roubidoux made 12 saves on 13 shots in the win while Richard Palmer stopped 24 of 29 shots he faced in the loss.

vs.

And then there were two. The Carleton Place Canadians endured a double-overtime game against Penticton, scoring in the fifth period to get to Sunday night. The Portage Terriers fell behind against Melfort, but then applied wave after wave of offensive pressure against the Mustangs to claim their place in the final. Only one team will celebrate. Which would it be?

You know what? Let's go to the video. TSN owns the rights to this video of the game, and this video compilation was uploaded to YouTube. I claim no rights on this, but I feel the players deserve more than some writer's words on this one. To the video!
Brian Munz, former voice of the Moose and Jets, was calling the action, and Craig Button was the color man on the TSN broadcast. They did a great job on the broadcast. Kudos to them.

Despite a rather ugly incident at the end of the game committed by one Carleton Place player, both of these teams should be proud of their efforts. However, as the video showed, the MJHL's Portage Terriers won the RBC Cup by a 5-2 score in the gold-medal game, snapping a 41-year drought for the MJHL with their first RBC Cup victory! They also became the first host team to win the RBC Cup since 2007!

For the people of Portage la Prairie, you guys did an awesome job as hosts. Give yourselves a pat on the back because you showed everyone how important hockey is in your community. To the five teams of the RBC Cup, congratulations on amazing seasons and representing your region proudly in the Junior-A National Championship! And to the host Portage Terriers, to the victors go the spoils, so celebrate proudly for being the best Junior-A team across this great nation!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

How Sweet It Is

I'm not sure anyone expected that. I'm entirely sure that the Russians both on the ice and back in Russia never saw it coming. The reality is, however, that the Canadians are the IIHF World Champions once again after a dominating performance both in today's game and throughout the tournament. Some can say that this team was stacked from the start, but it's not like Russia came into the game with unknown names and little talent.

I will grant the Russians a little credit in that the opening ten minutes of the game were played at a frantic pace. Both teams had chances early, but it was Canada who would score first. And second. And third, fourth, fifth, and sixth in the game before Sergei Mozyakin put Russia on the board midway through the third period.

I'm not sure anyone expected that.

With Canada's recent victories in the World Junior Championship, the Olympics, and now the World Championship, there will be obvious movement in the country rankings. I expect that Canada should be at the top of the list in 2015, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the field is organized. Russia could be as high as second or possibly third with their recent showing. Sweden, who finished in fifth-place at these World Championships, will most likely fall while Finland, who finished in sixth-place, will fall as well. The US, who had another strong showing, should move up a spot or two as well.

Next year's IIHF World Championship will take place in Russia, so there will be a lot of pressure on them to avenge this loss to Canada by winning gold next year in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Group A will consist of Canada, Finland, USA, Slovakia, Belarus, France, Germany, and Hungary who were promoted from the Division-I World Championship. Group B features Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, Denmark, and newly-promoted Kazakhstan.

That Group B pool could be called the Red Pool since all but Sweden and Kazakhstan wear red. In any case, it will be interesting to see who goes to play for which teams next season when the NHL season ends. If Russia has its way, it may conscript all its Russian-born NHL players this summer in preparation for the World Championship next year.

Losing like they did to Canada today won't go over well again. Especially after their performance in Sochi on home soil as well.
Coongratulations to Team Canada: WORLD CHAMPIONS!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!