Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What about Bob? Nah, What about Christian Frey?

Many hockey people in Columbus, Ohio are always talking about the Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.  Bobrovsky has single handedly made the Blue Jackets a much better team.  In hockey your team is only as good as your goalie plays.  If your goalie plays bad your team is probably in for a long night.  Many would argue that Bob is the best goalie in town, but there is another goalie in town making waves and that is Ohio State's Christian Frey.

Christian Frey joined Ohio State last season about midway through from the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints.  There is no measurable word to describe what Frey means to the Ohio State hockey team.  He instantly made a hockey team last year that was at best 5th or 6th in the Big Ten, and put them in a place to challenge for the Big Ten Title.  Like Bob, his ability to go out and make saves keep his team in the game, and give them a chance to win when it seems that all hope could be lost.

Now, I could go on for the next several paragraphs about how great Frey is and give you a bunch of stats.  I could tell you tales of how he stunned Michigan State in a shootout last season at East Lansing.  We could talk more how he almost beat Minnesota outside on their football field but saved a better performance to get a W against the #1 Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament.  But no, we are not going to talk about all that we are going to talk about last Saturday against #11 Miami Redskins.

Now Miami came into this series after a disappointing season last year and with high hopes of redemption.  I commented on how well Providence played against Ohio State a week ago, and well let's just say Miami was better than Providence.  They have speed and they have depth to go with that speed.  They came in on Saturday night and dominated the Buckeyes.  Except there was one thing standing in their way and that was Christian Frey.

Christian Frey last Saturday in Oxford went for a career high 60 saves.  They talk about a goalie standing on his head when he plays well, Frey did so much more then stand on his head.  He received little help from the defense that had trouble all night clearing the zone.  He received as much as help from the offense scoring once on 21 shots.  So what was the final score? 6-1? 9-1? No, it was 2-1 Miami.  Great goalies keep you in the game.

Frey was the number one star of the game.  If you don't follow hockey that much and have no idea what this means, think of football, they announce their player of the game at the end; hockey announces 3, a third star (third best player), a second star (second best player) and the first star (best player).  Goals and assists factor into offensive players getting stars, and saves or goals allowed factor in for the goalie getting a star.  Frey was definitely the first star of that game with his 60 saves.

To put this into context, on average a goalie will make about 30 saves in a given night.  The number could be more or less depending about how much better or worse the team you are playing.  Also, style of play greatly contributes to number of shots on goal.  Some teams get more pucks on net because they have better shooters or players that are better at getting 2nd and 3rd opportunities around the net.  The direction of the game today is triggering more offense and more shots so goalies have to have more agility than ever.

So as you can see Frey saw about doubled the number of shots a goalie faces on average.  Frey has been a huge part of the recent success of Ohio State's hockey program.  His ability to keep the team in the game when it appears it is going to be a white wash is unbelievable.  Ohio State has the weekend off and then they head up to Canisius.  The Golden Griffins are 2-2 on the young season while Ohio State is 1-3.  The Buckeyes and Frey will be looking to get back to their winning ways. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friar Tucked!

The Ohio State Men's Hockey team stuns the #3 Providence Friars in OT 5-4 at Value City Arena, in their season opener.  With many questions about if the Ohio State offense could recover from losing players like Ryan Dzingel the short term answer seems to be a resounding yes.  The Buckeyes never led in the game until the game winner in OT.  Their grind it out approach and a never say die attitude seemed to tuck-er out the Friars.  This is just around big win for a program in Columbus that is on the rise.

The game started out as a very physical contest, both teams were definitely throwing their weight around.  The scoring started late in the first period with the Friars getting on the board first with a goal from Nick Saracino.  Saracino's goal was answered by the Bucks a short 20 seconds later by Anthony Greco, leveling the score at 1-1.  The Friars were not done, late in the first Brian Pinho giving the Friars the 2-1 lead going into the locker room.  Both Friars' goals were the result of Bucks turnovers in their own zone.

Early into the 2nd, 6:48 to be exact, Anthony Greco netted his second goal of the game to tie the score at 2.  Greco is a junior from Minnesota, it says a lot for your program if you can get some of those Minnesota kids out of that state.  The Friars would retake the lead when Trevor Mingoia scored on a 3 to 1 brake.  The Bucks' goalie Christian Frey just could not get his skate to the post and Mingoia put it home for the 3-2 lead.

Into the third, the Bucks' power play and Tanner Fritz came alive.  The Bucks and Fritz would get an early PP goal in the third.  About 5 minutes later, the Friars' Tom Parisi literally snuck the puck inside the post with Frey right there.  It was not one of the best plays by Frey but he fought well all night in net.  Just under four minutes later Fritz would come up big again on the Ohio State power play to tie the game.  Exactly, what you need in the third period, your captain getting two huge goals in a big game to keep your team close.

The Buckeyes would get a carry over power play from regulation into OT.  Anthony Greco, just 28 seconds into the sudden death OT scores the game winner for his hat trick.  This sent Value City arena into a frenzy, well except the Providence fans seated next to me.  I believe they came to Columbus thinking they were going to push the Buckeyes around, and well the Bucks on this night pushed back.  I think that is a great tribute to their coach Steve Rohlik, the players have bought into this grind it out system and its proving results.

It cannot be understated that Providence is a great team.  They have a nasty and aggressive fore check.  They love to throw their weight around like I said before.  They play the eastern style of hockey very well, which relies on scoring with a bit of nastiness.  Brian Pinho might be the best player that exemplifies this.  He was in the middle of scrums all night and he was able to net one of the Friars' goals.  A great player, I hope we get to see more of him in the professional ranks.
Friar Tuck ;)

The man for the Bucks matching Pinho's toughness on this night had to be Justin DaSilva.  DaSilva is the Buckeyes' biggest defensemen at 6-6, 222.  He was matched up against Pinho for much of the game.  There was a bunch of penalties called tonight and there could have been many more because of the style of play.  You have to hand to it to the officials for letting the players decide the game and not sending guys to the box to simply just bumping each other.  Kudos to the zebras on this night.

The Friars and the Buckeyes will be back at it again on Saturday night.  Its going to be the same bat time on the same bat channel, as the Friars look to level the series.  It was a great game, thanks to the Buckeyes 5 goals, the fans got free Big Macs at McDonalds.  My section actually won the Raisin' Cane power play giveaway, and got a free Canes' combo.  I have said this before and I will say it again, this team is the best kept secret on the Ohio State campus.  The Bucks are a good team and they will definitely be a pest in the Big Ten this year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ryan Johansen: The Labor Dispute No One Cares About

In Columbus during the fall there is one thing that the people of Columbus care about more than life itself and that is Ohio State football.  Every win is a reason to celebrate and every loss puts the city on the brink of suicide and total destruction.  So, this last week when the Columbus Blue Jackets GM John Davidson came out and said that negotiations with Ryan Johansen, "extortion," I don't believe that the general public of Columbus really cared.

It is my belief that applying public pressure only works if you have a general public that is greatly interested in the sport during negotiations.  Let's face it, when this came out, the Ohio State Buckeyes were coming off a 66-0 win against Kent State, after an upset loss at home.  Things seemed to be looking up for the city sports-wise.  The only people in Columbus that seem to have heard the news about Johansen's extortion were hockey's hardcore fans.

Columbus' hockey hardcore, at least from what I have heard, have turned bitter against Johansen.  This fan base is not too far removed from the bitterness of the departure of Rick Nash, and I think they see this as another star player asking for way too much money.  While, I agree with some of their points on bitterness, I have to say that sometimes you have to pay to keep the talent that you do have.  In the NHL, if you do not score goals there is no way that you will win games. 

The problem that I have with this situation is that Columbus has mismanaged super stars before.  I have to admit I am a Rick Nash fan.  He played to well for this franchise to not at least get some respect when it came to negotiations.  He was shown the door, after I believe that he was thrown under the bus.  Another guy, Jeff Carter, they could not keep him happy lasted not even a full year with the team.  Marian Gaborik, a third scorer that the Columbus Blue Jackets could not keep around and he was shipped to LA after a year and a half.

Getting back to Johansen, and his agent; they are asking for around 7 million dollars a year.  He wants the Kaner, and Toews type of money.  Which I agree you need to pay your scorer but this is were he might be asking for a little much.  In Kaner's last year of his rookie contract he went crazy and finished the season with 88 points (30 goals and 58 assists).   Last season Johansen finished with 63 points (33 goals and 30).  Not to diminish what Johansen did, but he is not on Kaner's level yet.  That is not to say that he cannot get there.

So if Johansen is asking for 7 what are the Blue Jackets offering; about 3.5 million dollars per year. You can see the numbers are about 3 million - 3.5 million apart.  Seems like Johansen is way out of line right?, no he is really not as out of line as it might seem.  Let's take for example Fedor Tyutin, who in my opinion is a 2nd line defenseman, he is being paid 4.5 million per season.  Tyutin has not played a full season since 2008-2009 and he is a career plus/minus of -30.  You're telling me you're going to pay a defenseman that is not played a full season in 5 years more than your top scorer? Child Please.

Fedor Tyutin Career Stats

So, I have talked about how I could side with management in this situation because he is not worth the Kaner money yet.  I have also talked about how I could side with Johansen because he clearly need to be paid more a season then a defenseman at the back end of his career.  Personally, I would go for a one year deal around 5.7 to 6.3 million, and say, let's see how it goes.  If Johansen has another great year then yes sir, we will give you the Kaner money but if you fail then you're going to have to settle for the 4.5 to 5.0 million dollar range.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Blue Jackets Benefit From a Eastern Move

They say that sometimes a change of scenery is a great thing to help your mental health and well let's just say that a change of scenery for the Columbus Blue Jackets has done wonders for the franchise.  This is the first year for the Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference, after spending their entire NHL life in the Western Conference.  It was Columbus and Detroit that moved into the Eastern Conference, but I would argue that Columbus has benefited more from the conference swap.  Columbus made the playoffs this year for only the second time and they have won the franchise's first road and home playoffs games.

Some of the keys to the success that the Blue Jackets have had this season, especially in the playoffs start with the fact that they don't have to see the Blues and the Blackhawks nearly as much.  Let's face it, it is well documented the struggles that the Blue Jackets are currently having with the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions.  The Blue Jackets have dropped 13 in a row to the Blackhawks and 9 in a row at home, in Nationwide Arena aka United Center Jr.  Not to be out done, the Blue Jackets have also had a tough time with the St. Louis Blues.  The Blues a very physical team, with loads of scoring, always a brutal game.

Thus it's a good thing that the Jackets have not had to see much of the Blackhawks and the Blues because overall the West has been much tougher then the East.  The West finished with 4 teams over 110 points and the East only had 1.  The West had 6 teams finish with over 100 points and the East had 4.  The Edmonton Oilers finished dead last in the West with 67 points and Buffalo Sabres finished dead last in the East with only 52 points.  That is a 15 point difference or 7.5 games, since the winning team is given 2 points for a win.  Let's face it, in 2013-14, the West was much better overall than the East.

Another key to the Blue Jacket's success this year, is the key players that they have traded for from the New York Rangers.  Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and even Marian Gaborik though he is not with the team anymore; these guys experience and knowledge of teams in the Eastern Conference, I believe have given the Jackets a much needed boost this year.  Without the leadership of Dubinsky and the goal scoring of Anisimov, there is no way that the Jackets are in their current position.  The Blue Jacket's front office brass should be applauded for the way these players were brought in, and giving up very little in return.

The Blue Jacket's familiarity with Eastern Conference teams does not end there, it continues with their goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.  Bobrovsky was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers for Steve Mason.  Mason had an excellent first season with the Jackets but failed to follow it up.  A change of scenery for both Bobrovsky and Mason has proven to do wonders for both players.  Last year, Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goal, and has followed up this season in stellar fashion.  Mason, not be out done this year is leading the Flyers into the playoffs.  Familiarity that a goalie can have with shooters can do wonders in terms of stopping shots and knowing the tendencies of goal scorers.

Talking about goal scorers, Columbus is seeing the emergence of a great goal scorer in front of their eyes in Ryan Johansen.  Johansen finished the season with 33 goals, which is good for 11th in the NHL.  Columbus has not seen this kind of scoring from one player since the departure of Rick Nash.  Johansen led the team with 63 points in the regular season, he also has 5 game winning goals.  This has been Johansen's first full year with the team, he played all 82 games, and he has really come alive.  He is just another one of the young players on this Columbus team, that will be a thorn in the side of the Eastern Conference for years to come.

So to sum it all up, the Blue Jackets have greatly benefited this season from players that have much familiarity with the Eastern Conference.  Again, like I said before Davidson and the Blue Jackets front office should be applauded for the job that they have done.  They knew that they were going to the Eastern Conference, so what did they do, they went out and got some quality players from the Eastern Conference to build this franchise around.  Aided by a weaker Eastern Conference, the Columbus Blue Jackets have finally announced their arrival on the NHL scene.  This is a young team with much talent, the Eastern Conference will fear this team for many years to come.  FIRE THE CANNON!

Monday, April 14, 2014

At The Frozen Four

Last weekend, I was in Philly for the 2014 Frozen Four.  If you are new or just flat out do not follow college hockey, it is pretty much the same as the Final Four but with a different name.  The Frozen Four featured some familiar faces, and one major new one.  I did it all, I went to the games, went to the practices, and went to a press conference.  To sum it up, it was an amazing weekend of hockey, I would encourage you, if you get a chance go to the Frozen Four.

Let's first talk about the teams that made it to the Frozen Four:

Boston College Eagles - The Eagles made the Frozen Four by defeating Denver and UMass-Lowell in the first round and second round.  They are a traditional power in Eastern College Hockey representing the Hockey East Conference.  Led, by Johnny Gaudreau, sometimes referred to as "Johnny Hockey", the Eagles won the Hockey East regular season championship.  Aided in large part to Johnny Hockey's 31 game point streak.  Johnny Hockey won the Hobey Baker for the most outstanding player in the nation.  The Hobey Baker award is hockey's Heisman Trophy.  The Eagles finished with a record of 28-7-4 and 16-2-2 in the conference.

Minnesota Golden Gophers - The Gophers made the Frozen Four by beating Robert Morris senseless in the first round, and had a spirited bout with in-state rival St. Cloud State to reach the Final Four.  Minnesota is one of the most storied programs in the nation.  They feature legends of the sport, like Coach Herb Brooks, the man that led the USA over the Russians in 1980.  The Gophers were members of the WCHA until this year with the formation of the Big Ten Conference.  The Gophers were the regular season Big Ten Conference champions this year.  The Gophers are led on offensive by Kyle Rau and goal-tender, Hobey Baker finalist Adam Wilcox in goal.  The Gophers were ranked #1 most of the season finished with an overall record of 27-6-6 and 14-3-3 in the Big Ten.

North Dakota - Formally known as the Fighting Sioux, North Dakota is on NCAA probation until 2015 before they can name a new mascot.  North Dakota defeated Wisconsin in the first round and had a brilliant win in double OT against Ferris State to reach the Final Four.  They are also a storied program in college hockey with over 20 Frozen Fours to their credit.  North Dakota features some legendary Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews and goalie Ed Belfour.  Currently, North Dakota is led by Captain Dillon Simpson.  They have a Patrick Kane like forward in Rocco Grimaldi, who is listed at 5'6 but flies around the ice like he is much bigger.  North Dakota was one of the last teams in, and really took advantage of the opportunity.  They play in the NCHC conference, and finished with an overall record of 25-13-3 and 15-9 inside the conference.

Union Dutchmen - A relatively new-comer to the Frozen Four, the Dutchmen defeated Vermont and Providence on their way to Philly.  The school enrolls 2,200 students very small compared to the teams they faced off against in the Frozen Four.  Another fact about Union is that they do not give out scholarships, it is all based on financial aid.  The Dutchmen enter the Frozen Four riding a 10 game winning streak and they are unbeaten in 15 games (14-0-1).  The Dutchmen are led by their seniors, on offense, assistant captain, Daniel Carr and on defense, Mat Bodie, the captain.  Carr and Bodie are also aided by a junior and rising star on defense, the other assistant captain, Shayne Gostisbehere aka the Ghost.  Union was the ECAC regular season champions with an overall record of 30-6-4.  The Dutchmen were 18-3-1 in the ECAC, winning the conference by 8 points.

I think if I don't give you some idea about the teams that were in the Frozen Four, it's kind of like starting in the middle of the story.  Now that you have the back story,  let's focus in first on Thursday's two national semifinal games, Boston College vs. Union and Minnesota vs North Dakota.

Boston College vs Union - It was the opening game in which you have Boston College on one side the storied franchise and on the other you have Union, a relative new-comer as I said before.  Union was riding a 15 game unbeaten streak.  So it was not as much David vs. Goliath as it might appear on the surface.

1st Period - Boston College wasted little time opening the scoring at 2:08 into the 1st period.  It was Johnny Hockey, right as BC probably drew it up in their locker room before the game.  The Eagles had a couple of chances early in the first period that went off the posts.  It could have been 2-0 or 3-0 for Boston College, because they really carried the play thru the first 10 minutes.  Towards the end of the period you could that Union was starting to get their legs under them.  Boston College 1 - Union 0

2nd Period - Union started the 2nd period much like Boston College started the first, they got their first goal from Mat Bodie at 2:39.  It would remain that way until 10:45 into the period when Union struck again, this time it was forward Daniel Ciampini getting his first goal of the game.  Play would go back and forth for the next 5 minutes or so, then Steve Santini would get the equalizing goal for the Boston College Eagles at 15:53.  Boston College 2 - Union 2

3rd Period - Union would get the 3rd period scoring underway with a Power Play goal from Daniel Ciampini at 6:31.  It was Ciampini's second goal on the night making it 3-2 Dutchmen.  A huge play in the 3rd was a 5 minute major and a 10 minute game misconduct on Union's Matt Hatch.  Boston College failed to score on the 5 minute major and what made matters worse was moments after returning to full strength Union scored again.  This time it was Mike Vecchione at 11:53 into the 3rd.  It stayed that way until the Eagles pulled their goalie and scored at 18:15 into the 3rd (Ryan Fitzgerald).  Ciampini would complete his hat trick with an empty netter making it 5-3.  BC would not go away, scoring again with 3.2 seconds left in the 3rd (Patrick Brown).  The Eagles won the face-off and got a shot on goal but it was saved by Union, game over.  Union 5 - Boston College 4

Minnesota vs North Dakota - In terms of College Hockey this is like Michigan vs Ohio or Auburn vs Alabama.  It's a border war and there is no love loss between the two sides.  It's cliche but throw out the records it, doesn't matter that Minnesota's the #1 team and North Dakota barely made it.  As we would see later this would be one for the ages.

1st Period - The game started and had a very choppy pace which favored North Dakota in my mind.  North Dakota could not afford to get into a track meet with the Gophers, just due to the fact that Minnesota was more talented on paper.  There were no goals in the first period and the shots were 12-9 in favor of North Dakota.  If you were a North Dakota fan, you had to be feeling pretty good about things.  Minnesota 0 - North Dakota 0

2nd Period - It was more of the same from the 1st period, grid it out.  North Dakota was playing their style and Minnesota really was not forcing them out of it.  Though Minnesota looked much better in the 2nd period than in the 1st.  Both teams had a shot on the Power Play to score a goal but both failed.  Again, like the 1st period there were no goals and the shots were even at 12.  Minnesota 0 - North Dakota 0

3rd Period - As the clock ticked down in the 3rd period, I started thinking wow maybe this is going to end 1-0, a real nail-biter.  Then, 10:51 into the 3rd Sam Warning, top line for Minnesota, found the back of the net.  I honestly thought this might lead to more goals for Minnesota but on the very next shift North Dakota got the equalizer.  Officially, at 11:23 into the 3rd Connor Gaarder, a walk-on, got the goal for North Dakota.  He came down the left side, from where I was sitting, and shot the puck, Wilcox made the first save but Gaarder put in the rebound on the near post.  The game remained this way until North Dakota got a huge break at 18:21 into the 3rd with a holding penalty on Conner Reilly of Minnesota.  As the period drew to a close Minnesota won a face-off and came down short-handed, Rau took a shot but it was blocked.  The puck bounced onto the stick of Justin Holl, and he put it into the back of the net with just .6 left in the 3rd.  There was absolute shock into the Wells Fargo Center. Minnesota 2 - North Dakota 1

So it was set for Saturday night, the Frozen Four Final Minnesota vs. Union.  On Friday, I woke up and went over to the Wells Fargo Center for practices and a press conference.  Union was up first for practice:

Minnesota was up second:

The press conference was to announce the winner of the inaugural Mike Richter Award, given out to the most outstanding goalie.  Mike Richter was a long time goalie for the New York Rangers and helped them win the cup in 1994.  Bernie Parent was also along for the presentation of the Mike Richter Award.  Parent was a long time Philadelphia Flyers goalie, the Flyers retired his number, it now flies in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.  The winner of the Mike Richter Award was Connor Hellebuyck of UMass-Lowell.  Hellebuyck's career save percentage is .946 which is the best in college hockey history.  He is a great choice for the inaugural Mike Richter Award.

Onward to the title game, Saturday Night, it was Union vs. Minnesota.  Minnesota was going for yet another title and Union was looking for number 17 in a row for their unbeaten streak.  The game was almost a sellout they announced over 18,000 had shown up for the title bout.  Even fans from teams that were ousted on Thursday were still there.  There was a section of North Dakota fans that only added support to the Union section that was right below the press area.  

1st period - Minnesota did not waste any time getting on the board first.  Officially 2:37 into the game Justin Kloos made it 1-0 Gophers.  The equalizer came about 7 minutes later, 9:26 officially, off the stick of Shayne Gostisbehere aka the Ghost.  A minute later, Sam Warning put one in from an impossible angle to give the Gophers the lead.  Then, Union took over scoring at 15:09, 16:06 and 17:03; in the end it was 3 goals in less than 2 minutes.  Goals were from Mike Vecchione, Eli Lichtenwald and Daniel Ciampini respectively. I called it first period "sieve city," you usually do not see 6 goals in a period in a hockey game. Union 4 - Minnesota 2  

2nd Period - Things seemed to calm down in the 2nd period after an action packed first.  After being out shot 20-15 in the 1st period Minnesota came back and out shot Union 18-14 in the 2nd.  The only goal in the period came at the 1:13 mark, and it was from Minnesota's Taylor Cammarata.  Taylor was a freshman at Minnesota, and this last year 40% of Minnesota's goals had come from their freshmen.  Union 4 -Minnesota 3

3rd Period - The scoring in the 3rd period started with Union's Max Novak at 5:31 making it 5-3 Union.  Union had 2 Power Plays to extend the lead but failed to do so. Union finished the game 0 for 7 on the Power Play.  Minnesota got a late Power Play when Charlie Vasaturo was called for roughing.  Minnesota's Hudson Fasching made the most of the Power Play when he scored at the 16:20 mark to make the score 5-4.  Kevin Sullivan of Union got a late goal for Union almost making the win certain.  The icing on the cake came at the 19:15 mark, when captain Mat Bodie scored an empty netter.  Union 7 - Minnesota 4

I thought during the 2nd and 3rd period that if Kyle Rau does not score Minnesota would have a hard time winning the game.  Clearly, he did not score and Minnesota did not win.  It was Union's first team sport title since a 1929 lacrosse title.  Union's impressive 17 game unbeaten streak will live on until next year.  Minnesota had a great crop of freshmen this year, like I said scoring 40% of the goals, they will be back next year and tougher than ever, so Gophers do not hang your heads too low.  

It was a great game for the title, Union played very well in the tournament and was rewarded at the end of the day.  I do not know if there are enough words to express what a great time the Frozen Four in Philly was.  It is a great town and they did a beautiful job hosting the Frozen Four.  Next year, the Frozen Four will be at the TD Gardens in Boston.  I definitely hope that I will get a chance to go.  Have a great night! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


The Chicago Blackhawks played the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 4th in Columbus, and won 4-3 on a goal with 3.7 second left in the 3rd period. The 'Hawks currently have a 13 game winning streak over the Blue Jackets, and a 9 game winning streak in what I like to refer to as United Center Jr. (Nationwide Arena). So today when I opened my twitter account for this blog I saw that Nationwide Arena had favorited a tweet that I had made about the game.

 favorited your Tweets
Apr 4 and from tonight 'Hawks look to take the streak against to 13 in a row wa 

Now what makes this seriously comical, at least to me, is that Nationwide Arena's Twitter Account is acknowledging, "You're right Nationwide Arena is really United Center Jr." That or apparently they weren't reading what they were favorited-ing, which probably could happen. Either way I feel like my nickname for Nationwide Arena has been completely validated. I would like to thank whom ever favorited this tweet on behalf of Nationwide Arena.

If Letestu was not wearing his home jersey you would think this game was in Chicago.
The question now has to become can you really call Nationwide Arena, United Center Jr? Given the number of 'Hawks fans that show up for games in Columbus, I do not think that it is a stretch to do so. Routinely, the "Let's Go Jackets" cheers turn into "Let's Go Hawks." Full sections of United Center Jr. are full of 'Hawks fans. Now I am sure that winning 2 out of the last 4 Stanley Cups have helped this cause, coupled with a lack of consistent play by the Blue Jackets until the last couple of years. Personally, I do not feel bad about calling it United Center Jr., and neither should you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The End of HIMYM Through the Eyes of a Blackhawk Fan

Yesterday was the final episode of the TV Series, How I Met Your Mother, and it has outraged many many fans.  They were pissed about things like Robin and Barney got divorced, or the fact that the woman that turns out to be the mother of his kids is killed off.  In all honesty, they probably should have called it How I Ended Up With Robin, but that is argument is for another time and another place.  The question I have for Robin is would she have really denounced her beloved Canucks for the Chicago Blackhawks as she claimed in the 2nd to last episode?  This happened when she became unraveled before the wedding and asked Ted to run off to Chicago.

Now lets talk about Robin for a second before we get any further into this discussion.  She is one of the only main characters in American TV that happens to be from Canada and actively supports hockey.  On sitcoms now a days you rarely see support from a female role supporting hockey.  Honestly, I think it is great, there needs to be more of it.  What's wrong with attractive female roles being Canadian and supporting hockey? Absolutely, nothing!

Now Ted being from Cleveland, and as far as hockey goes outside of the Lake Erie Monsters there is no professional hockey.  So, he probably does not care about this gesture that Robin has made about offering to become a Blackhawks' fan but I think we need to get into the scope of the sacrifice she would have been making.  As a Hawks' fan you have to respect what Robin is willing to give up, because let's face it, the Canucks and Hawks are not best of friends.  If a woman is willing to give up her team for you, you better take it especially if the new and old teams are blood rivals.  YouTube hit the films:

And Part 2:

And Duncan Keith's Elbow to Sedin's Head:

Kelser and Ladd have a go:

And finally a Vancouver TV Station subjects the Canucks to Chelsea Dagger:

So you can see, there is no love loss between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks.  When a woman makes a gesture like this, have some idea what she is sacrificing to give up to make you happy.  If you don't have any idea, well buddy that is on you.  Have a good night, oh, and Frozen Four is in two weekends in Philly, somebody get fired up! Robin, I will always love you! Chelsea Dagger take us home!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This Is How You Retire A Player's Jersey

Last Saturday night in Dallas, Texas, the Stars organization retired Mike Modano's #9 to the rafters of American Airlines Arena.  It was a ceremony that was probably one of the most epic I have ever seen, for it lasted 62 minutes before the night's game.  It definitely set the bar for how a jersey should be retired.  It also showed a great deal of respect for Mike Modano, who weathered the team moving from Minnesota to Dallas relatively early in his career.

Modano as a North Star
If you do not know Mike Modano, that's ok, like I said he started his NHL career with the Minnesota North Stars in 1989.  The Stars would relocate to Dallas in the early 1990s.  Modano would only play for the Stars except for one season with the Detroit Red Wongs.  Mike Modano would finish his career in 2010, becoming one of the best American players ever to play in the NHL.  He scored more points then any other American in NHL history.  Besides his peers Chris Chelios and former teammate Brett Hull, those 3 are considered to be the 3 best Americans ever in the NHL.

Getting back to the ceremony, the Dallas Stars brought back players from the 1999 Stanley Cup Champion team.  This would be Modano's only cup, but it was so well deserved.  They brought out former coaches, former owners of the Stars, and his family.  It was the largest crowd in Dallas for a game this season.  Hell, the Stars even brought out NFL Hall of Famers Troy Aikmen and Roger Staubach.  Dirk Nowitzki and Ronaldo Blackman were there representing the Dallas Mavericks.

So without further ado, the jersey goes up!

This video is only 2 minutes and it is at the end of the ceremony showing the banner going to the rafters. If you want to watch the entire ceremony here is a link:

The Ceremony

This was a great night hockey, especially American hockey.  The Dallas Stars did a great job, and showed a boat load of respect for Modano.  I encourage you to watch the entire ceremony because it was really well done.  Even if you do not like or watch hockey that often, I think you can appreciate the respect that the team has for Mike Modano.  I was never a Stars fan, but I always had a great deal of respect for Mike Modano, he was a great player and a total class act.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Some Thoughts on Olympic Hockey

I have been reflecting on the topic of Olympic Hockey and how it finished for the USA; there are some things that need to be said.  There was a boatload of Team USA bashing for the way that it ended.  The papers called it "embarrassing" and slammed the team for lack of effort.  There was little packing on the back for holding the Canadians to a 1-0 loss the day.  I feel like the team is being unfairly treated in one game, and the rest of the tournament was quickly forgotten.

Selanne after the game.
The bronze medal game was the perfect storm.  On one side you have Team USA who just lost a heartbreaking game to Canada.  On the other side you have the Finnish team, who is trying desperately to get Teemu Selanne a medal for his last Olympics.  If you do not know who Teemu Selanne is, he has been playing in the NHL for what seems like forever.  He is one of the oldest guys, and most respected players in the league.  So, the Fins had a wealth of motivation, and the USA they barely had any.

Toews Goal!
Let's go back to the USA - Canada for a moment; the main difference between the USA - Canada is that most hockey fans can tell you who the Canadians player for.  The Canadian team is made up of mostly captains, and assistant captains of their respective NHL team.  The USA team, while all NHLers, has some 3rd and 4th line guys.  The wealth of talent that the Canadian team has now rivals that of the Russians when they dominated the game from the 1950s-1980s.  The USA media could raise their level of reporting to non-hockey fans by sucking in their pride and showing some respect for the other teams.
This is not Finland LOL

I was talking to one non-hockey fan and they called Finland, a "Cinderella team."  Finland is not a Cinderella team, they are a great hockey program that has a bunch of NHL stars (Selanne, Niemi, Rask, Timonen, just to name a few). Their only loss was to the Canadians in OT.  Yet, you would have no idea about this if you do not follow hockey.  They played very well throughout the tournament.  I think the mass media failed to respect the skill of the Finnish team.  You can say that I am wrong, but this is what I believe to be true.

I feel like other teams in sports have been given a free pass when they lose a heart breaking game to their rival, then proceed to get blown out the next week.  This seems to happen in College Football and the NFL more than other sports.  USA Hockey for whatever reason gets no free pass.  If you do not want to cover hockey, don't, especially if you are going to blow things way out of proportion.  The national media would be well served to complain less, and respect more; I think more people would have a real idea of what is actually being reported about hockey.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oh My God, They're Going to Win the Cup

Captain Serious 2013
After looking through some of my post before I went on a hiatus from the blog, I realized that I never really talked about the Blackhawks winning last year's Stanley Cup.  They say that you will always remember where you were when your team wins the championship in any sport.  So without any further introduction this is my story of how the Blackhawks won the 2013 Stanley Cup.

It was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, it felt very similar to the 2010 Blackhawks' Cup win.  There was the chance to win the cup on the road for the second time in 4 years.  The opponent for the second time was a team that I respected greatly, and just hoped they would not rough up the 'Hawks too much.  The only problem for me, this time, is that I had to work until 7:30 pm which did not give me much time to get home on time to watch the game.  I kid you not, I was totally looking for karma that day.
Kaner after the goal 2010

Some of the my co-workers at work ask me, "Would you like to see this series go to a Game 7 so they can win it at home?"  The answer had to be "no,"  you want to win the Cup wherever you can.  In 2010, the Cup was won in Philly and I had no problem about that.  If I remember correctly, I was standing on my couch at the end when they finally showed Kaner's goal in the back of the net.  Not only was I looking for karma that day, I was really nervous.  You know, shaking, cannot sit still, yeah that was me.

Karma would come in the form of a request of a co-worker.  A friend and co-worker ask me to stay for him until midnight.  At first, I told him I would think about it, and it did not take long for me to agree to work for him.  So, I figured if I get the work done, there would be time to see the game.  The day seemed to take forever, but finally it was time for the puck to drop.

Now, I was coming in and out so I did not get to see the whole game.  I saw stretches of the game and then was forced to go back to work, hoping beyond hope the 'Hawks could pull this one out.  The game came down towards the end and with 3 minutes to go some work came up.  Looking for one last shot of karma, I started to leave the break-room; my boss told me that we had enough people and not to worry about it.  So, I sat there shaking with a couple of my co-workers in the break-room.

In hockey when you pull your goalie, its pretty much like playing Russian Roulette.  You either win or there is a really great chance that the other team is going to score.  My blood pressure was probably at an unhealthy level by that point.  Then Captain Serious found Bickell in front of the net for the first goal.  Now my immediate thought was there was too much time left for Boston to come back and score the game winner.  I was still nervous and really unsettled.

Then somehow, someway, Bolland puts the second goal into the net.  It was unbelievable, I started jumping up and down, mind you, that I am still at work.  The goal was followed by a moment of silence, where many believe that even the NBC guys were a little amazed by what had just transpired.  The best line I think, was made by one of the guys, when he said, "It was like a yard sale, he lost his stick and he lost his gloves."  That was pure genius in the spot, because Bolland, when it was said and done did not have his gloves or his stick after the goal.

There was still time though, there was not much but there was still a chance for Boston to tie it up.  They shot a puck in and Crawford sent it to the wall, it was forced out to Captain Serious and he hit it down the ice as the clock counted down to the end.  As the puck went down the ice, I said to a co-worker, "Oh my god, they're going to win the cup!!"  Then it was over and I was in another place.  Jumping up and down in the break-room, and shouting whooo!  I kid you not, by this point I was a bit light headed.

It was honestly one of the best games I had ever seen, in any sport.  Somehow it topped the 2010 Stanley Cup, which in its own right was one of the best Game 6s in Stanley Cup Final history.  I do not really care how old you get, when your team wins, it should be ok to act like a kid again.  I love sports, and I am pretty sure I will love them until I die.  I will always remember where I was when the 'Hawks won the 2013 Stanley Cup, and how a little bit of karma by helping a co-worker really went a long way.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Guide to Big Ten Hockey

This year is the first year for Big Ten hockey, thanks in a huge part to the addition of the men's division 1 program at Penn State.  The owner of the Buffalo Sabres, and Penn State alums, Terrence Pegula gave 102 million dollars to the school to build a campus arena.  In college hockey, it takes six teams to start a conference, and Penn State was the 6th division 1 program for the Big Ten.  Wisconsin and Minnesota came over from the WCHA.  Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State came over from the former CCHA to join the Big Ten Conference.

I'll be honest when I first started thinking about doing a blog on this subject, I first thought this is really erie like the original 6 teams in the NHL.  On one side of the coin you have your college hockey powers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan; on the other side of the coin you have Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State sort of like the lesser known programs.  In the NHL the power for many years was with Detroit, Montreal, and Toronto; and Chicago, Boston and New York were sometimes referred to as the red-headed step children.

Let's take this team by team and get you more aware of the programs.  Starting off with the current #1 team in the nation, Minnesota.  When you think about American hockey, it has to start with the state of Minnesota.  The Gophers have won 5 national titles with 34 tournament appearances.  This is the program that Herb Brooks coached before he went on to coach team USA to gold in the 1980 Winter Olympics.  Minnesota owns winning records, all time, against every team in the new Big Ten Conference.  They have had many many NHL players and this year added their first player ever from the state of Florida, Gabe Guertler.  The Gophers are coached by Don Lucia, whom is in his 14th year with the program.  There are so many good things you can say about the Gophers program that it would demand a whole blog by itself, they really have an awesome awesome program.

Another one of the powerhouse program, and it pains me to say it, but it is the Michigan Wolverines.  A program that dates back to 1922, before there was an NHL, Michigan has been winning and winning many games.  Michigan has won 9 national titles, the last in 1998, and has 35 tournament appearances.  They play at Yost Ice Arena, which is actually named after the famous Michigan football coach.  They have also played games in the Big House, which has set the Guinness Book Record for the most people to watch a hockey game anywhere.  They are coached by a legend Red Berenson, who is in his 30th year with the school.  He has won nearly 800 games and is responsible for the last two national titles ('96 and '98).  Michigan is currently #14 in the nation, and they are hungry for a title this year after some let-downs in recent Frozen Four tournaments.

The next team I am going to talk about is the #9 team in the nation, and that is the Wisconsin Badgers.  The Badgers are the 3rd in what I am calling the power 3 of the Big Ten Conference.  They own 6 national titles with the last coming in 2006.  They finished as the runner up in 2010, and lost to probably one of the best Boston College teams ever assembled.  They also have appeared in 25 NCAA tournaments.  Due to the high quality hockey they had played in Madison and the fact that they are both former WCHA teams,  Wisconsin and Minnesota have a rather fierce rivalry on the ice.  The Badgers are currently coached by Mike Eaves, whom is in his 11th season win just over 200 wins for Wisconsin.  Wisky plays in the Kohl Center and is one of the best attended campus arenas for Men's and Women's college hockey.  They have a very skilled team this year, and they are going to be a tough out in the Frozen Four tournament.

Like their in-state rivals Michigan, Sparty aka Michigan State's hockey program was founded in 1922.  Michigan State a little closer to the powerhouses then I originally thought, they own 3 national titles, and 27 NCAA tournament appearances.  Michigan State has had alums like Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, a vital part in bringing 2 Stanley Cups to Chicago.  They boast over 500 players that have some sort of NHL experience.  The Spartans are currently 4th in the Big Ten Conference standings just ahead of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Sparty is coached by Tom Anastos, and he is in his 3rd year with the school.  He sports an overall record of  33-41-7.  They play at Munn Ice Arena, which was completed in 1974, and also like their rival (Michigan) it was named after a famous football coach.  It is home to the NCAA's longest regular season sellout streak of 323, from 1985 to 2004 there was not an empty seat in the house.  Its been a little bit of struggle since the last title but Sparty will look to players this year to rebound and return to glory.

The 5th team I am going to talk about is fresh off a huge upset win over the weekend in Madison, and that is the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Compared to some of the Big Ten competition, a youthful program that was started in 1963.  Considering Michigan and Minnesota were already winning national titles before Ohio State was a division 1 program.  Ohio State has never won the title, the furthest they have made it is the Frozen Four in 1998.  They lost to Boston College, whom lost to Michigan, whom won the title that year.  The Buckeyes have 6 tournament appearance, the 1998 edition was the first.  They currently hold the 5th spot in the Big Ten Conference.  They are not ranked but they are receiving a small number of votes for the Top 20.  They are coached by Steve Rohlik; he is in his first year with the program.  The Buckeyes play in Value City Arena, it is actually one of the bigger arena in college hockey.  Most teams play in smaller arena that seat around 6,000 people.  The Bucks are best known for NHL alums, R.J. Umberger (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks).

The last team and the newest team in the conference is Penn State.  They have greatly benefited from Pegula's donation.  He has claimed that the locker room at Penn State is better than the locker room that the Buffalo Sabres use in their home stadium.  Penn State opened with Army at home and gave the fans a 4-1 victory.  Unfortunately, things have not gone as well since then, the Nittany Lions have had two 6 game losing streaks.  They also are yet to win a game in the conference, they look to change that this weekend as they are in Columbus.   A sign of there are better things to come in their last game against the heavily favored Boston College Eagles, Penn State played well and lost only 3-2.  Penn State is coached by Guy Gadowsky, whom is clearly in his first year with the program.  The venue is called Pegula Ice Arena, and visiting teams should be aware that Penn State has some of the most passionate fans in the country.  It will be a tough place to play, especially once the team starts winning hockey games.

Now that you have a little favor for the teams here is the current standings:

Michigan State108242217202381235356
Ohio State78251021242212917762
Penn State06060010252041514576

Well its going to be an exciting first season for the Big Ten Hockey Conference.  The Big Ten Network has been showing doubleheaders on Friday Nights in a segment they are calling Frozen Fridays.  It will be interesting to see if Minnesota can hold on to the top spot in the conference.  Can Michigan or Wisconsin catch them?  It will also be interesting to see how Penn State can build off their first year in Division 1 hockey.  I cannot wait to see how it turns out, hope that this blog gives you a little bit of a guide to the Big Ten Conference Hockey.  Have a great night.