Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Peterborough Platter: New Beginnings Mid-Season

The edition of Winterhawks Weekly will occur after the New Year's Game.  If you noticed, I also decided to take on scribbling about the Peterborough Petes, and it so happens to be the first week that Jody Hull took over after a coaching change.  They took 5-2 win against Kingston on Friday, but were trounced 6-3 in Ottawa.  A home and home against Belleville will happen on the 1st and 3rd of January while the week will wrap up with a prolonged home and home with Kitchener, with the first game happening on the 4th in Kitchener.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Peterborough Petes

Covering the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL is nice, but it doesn't offer nearly enough material to write in the midst of the NHL lockout, which is robbing me of a lot of material.  So, in an effort to add some new hockey material, I will begin writing about an OHL team, specifically the Peterborough Petes.  If you haven't figured out why this team was chosen, then you haven't noticed the name that is typing this as you read this.

To get you up to speed on the Petes' season so far, they are dead last in the OHL, with only 20 points.  Recently, the Petes canned Mike Pelino as head coach and taking over for the rest of the season is one-time Florida Panther Jody Hull.  Francis Menard leads the team with 30 points and 2012 first round pick Slater Koekkoek has 25 points.  Golatending for the team is dreadful, with a 3.57 GAA by Michael Giugovaz.  Part of that problem is that scoring 86 goals while giving up 140 goals will more often than not, be a recipe for disaster.  The Petes hope to turn things around with a road game on the 28th at Kingston, and a home game on the 29th against Ottawa.  The Petes will have a home and home against Belleville on New Years Day and on January 3.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: Back to the Ice

Holiday break will end for the Winterhawks this Friday, when they hit road for a home and home against Tri-City.  The home portion for the Winterhawks will be on Saturday in a Daylight game, where the curtains of Memorial Coliseum will be drawn back.  Monday, the Winterhawks will play at home against Seattle.  It should be noted that the WHL will be greatly impacted by the World Junior Championships going on in Ufa, Russia, and for the Winterhawks, that means no Ty Rattie, Tyler Wotherspoon, and Seth Jones (if he makes the U.S. squad).  There is also another tournament going on in Drummondville, QC, and Keegan Iverson and Dominic Turgeon will be representing the U.S. in that tournament, which is an under-17 tournament.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: Christmas Break

This version of Winterhawks Weekly is coming early, as the only game this week happened yesterday, a 4-3 decision in favor of the Winterhawks in Spokane.  Taylor Peters got two points and Mac Carruth got the win in net.  The Winterhawks will play again on December 28 at Tri-City, and are now lead the WHL with 59 points.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: It's Raining Bears

Portland had a perfect weekend, winning all three games.  Friday, they beat Everett at home 4-2 behind a two point effort from Taylor Leier.  Leier would follow that up with a two goal game the following evening against Seattle, including the Teddy Bear Toss goal that would see 12,814 bears rain down onto the Rose Garden ice.  The Winterhawks would win 4-2.  Sunday, they traveled to Everett, where Keegan Iverson scored the game winner and Troy Rutkowski added two points in a 3-2 victory.  The Winterhawks will play tomorrow at Spokane before taking the winter break.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Country Duty Calls

With the World Junior Championship nearing, the WHL will be greatly impacted by this event, as some players will be taking part in this event.  This year, 54 WHL players will be heading to Ufa, Russia, where this year's event will be held.  The tournament is divided into the under-20 and under-17 categories, meaning that the number going represents both sections.  For the under-20 group, the players that will be in that group are Alessio Bertaggia (Brandon, representing Switzerland), Victor Rask (Calgary, Sweden), David Musil (Edmonton, Czech Republic), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton, Canada), Edgars Kulda (Edmonton, Latvia, and is attending the national team selection camp), Mirco Mueller (Everett, Switzerland), Marek Hrbas (Kamloops, Czech Republic), JC Lipon (Kamloops, Canada), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw, Canada), Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon (Portland, Canada), Seth Jones (Portland, United States, and attending the national team selection camp), Oliver Bjorkstrand (Portland, Denmark), Layne Viveiros (Portland, Austria), Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert, Germany), Jonas Knutsen (Prince Albert, Norway), Rinalds Rosinskis (Prince George, Latvia, and attending national team selection camp), Patrik Bartosak (Red Deer, Czech Republic), Andrey Makarov (Saskatoon, Russia, and attending national team selection camp), Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, Latvia, and attending national team selection camp), and Eetu Laurikainen (Swift Current, Finland, and attending national team selection camp).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: Love that Away Cookin'

The weekend for the Portland Winterhawks was one of being road warriors.  They dropped a 3-2 decision at home against Tri-City on Friday, but went on to take a 6-2 win against Seattle in Kent, WA on Saturday, and went into Kennewick, WA and came away with a 4-1 win against Tri-City.  Presten Kopeck scored twice in the Saturday game and Derrick Pouliot scored three points in the Sunday game.  Nic Petan scored four goals over the weekend, giving him 20 on the season.  This Friday and Saturday, they will be at home against Everett and Seattle before heading to Everett on Sunday.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Silvertip Beginnings

Did you know that the Everett Silvertips were successful in their first three seasons in the WHL?  The Everett Herald did, and they have published a fairly comprehensive photo-book detailing the team's early years, from when they were formed up to the 2005-06 season, as this book was published after the season.  The photos tell a story of a team that like most expansion teams, was formed from the castoffs of the other teams and a team that was (and still is) embraced by the city of Everett, an hour north of Seattle.  Reaching the WHL finals (and winning the U.S. Division) in their first season, they followed it up with a second round appearance the following year and a Conference final the year after that.  The photo explanations provide enough detail as to what is going on, and not all of them are on-ice, as the team and the players made great strides in connecting with the city.  Statistics for each season is included, as is the headlines that dominated the Everett Herald sports pages during the season.  If you consider yourself a Silvertips fan, or are like me and like learning about junior hockey, this book is for you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Midweek Streaking

Because the Winterhawks have four games this week, I will take this time to start with last night's game, since the weekend will be busy.  The Winterhawks made it seven in a row and 12 at home after coming from behind to win at home 7-5 against Everett.  Brendan Leipsic led the way with four goals and is second behind teammate Nic Petan in scoring.  The trio of Petan, Leipsic, and Ty Rattie have more than 40 points each, and are clearly the go-to guys on a team that has Seth Jones finding his offensive touch at the right time and Oliver Bjorkstrand emerging as a solid secondary scorer.  In the last 20 games, the Winterhawks have only lost once, and that hot streak now has them just behind the Halifax Mooseheads in the latest Canadian Hockey League rankings.  Games against Tri-City (twice) and Seattle are looming this weekend.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Seven Samurai

I have not done a movie review on this blog in a while, and since the lockout is hindering how much I can talk about hockey, today is a day for a movie.  The three and a half hour epic known as Seven Samurai is Akira Kurosawa's most famous work and takes a lot of the glamour out of the samurai that Hollywood puts on it.  The basic plot is that there is a village of farmers that need some samurais to help fend off some bandits.  This leads to seven out of work samurais to band together and protect them.  Up until the first battles begin with the bandits, Kurosawa focuses on the struggles that the samurais have in trying to gain the trust of the farmers, who themselves aren't exactly innocent in their dealings with past protectors.  The samurais do their job, but not without paying a steep price, as one samurai notes that he has lost every battle.  It becomes clear what he means at the end, when the final scene is focused on the four graves of the seven samurai who were slain in battle.

The pacing of the movie is deliberate, which may turn off some people, but Kurosawa is careful to not leave out any critical detail in the movie, something that was also present in Ikiru, a movie I reviewed earlier.  If you have the time and patience, do yourself a favor and check out Seven Samurai.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: One Hell of a Week

The week for the Winterhawks didn't quite start so smoothly, as they were handed some sanctions by the WHL for breaking some rules.  If you want to know what that means, read my earlier piece "Trouble in Hawkey Land."  As for the games themselves, the 'Hawks just keep winning, taking a 5-2 decision at home against Seattle and a 4-1 win on the road against Everett.  Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two points in the Seattle win and Brendan Burke played well in the road victory against Everett.  This week, the Winterhawks will be hosting Everett on Tuesday, and will sandwich a roadie against Seattle on Saturday between two home games against Tri-City on Friday and Sunday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shooting Upwards at Home

Remember the team that handed the Kamloops Blazers their first regulation loss this season?  That would be the Kelowna Rockets, who are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak at home.  They are still well behind Kamloops in the B.C. Division, but the Rockets are comparable in the Western Conference with Tri-City and Spokane, two teams that will have a say in who represents the Western Conference in this year's Ed Chynoweth playoffs.  Kelowna will have a chance to make it 10 at home against Moose Jaw tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trouble in Hawkey Land

Today, the Western Hockey League has handed down some serious sanctions to the Portland Winterhawks that will greatly affect their ability to acquire new talent for the next five years.  In a statement released by the WHL, the following will happen:

As a result of a series of player benefit violations which have occurred over the past four seasons, WHL Commissioner Ron Robison has suspended the Portland Winterhawks from participating in the first five rounds of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft and the forfeiture of their first round selections in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 WHL Bantam Drafts. Should the first round selection in 2014 not be available due to a conditional trade, Portland will surrender their second and third round picks in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. The WHL also announced the Portland Winterhawks have been fined $200,000 and Winterhawks General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston has been suspended for the balance of the 2012-13 season, including the 2013 WHL Playoffs.
Now, while none of the sanctions will affect the Winterhawks' ability to participate in the 2013 WHL playoffs, which seems almost like a foregone conclusion, even after only two and a half months into the season, their ability to make the playoffs in the following seasons will be affected.  The Bantam Draft is a team's chance to stock up on incoming talent, particularly the 16 year olds and imports.  Since the Winterhawks will be without a pick in the first five rounds of next year's draft, that means the Winterhawks will have a harder time replacing the likes of Troy Rutkowski, Taylor Leier, and Mac Carruth, all of whom are over-aged players.  Also an issue is how to replace the likes of Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic, both of whom will likely make the jump to the pros next year.  As for what effects this decision will have right now, the Winterhawks will be without the head coach for the rest of the season, and either Travis Green or Kyle Gustafson, both of whom are assistant coaches, will likely fill in for the rest of the season.  Leadership is important, and it will be interesting to see how the players will react to a different voice behind the bench.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: Back to Winning

A week after their 12-game winning streak came to a halt against Kamloops, they started a new winning streak the next game.  As of today, that streak is now four, thanks to a 3-0 whitewashing of Vancouver on Wednesday, a 4-2 win in the Daylight Classic (curtains of Memorial Coliseum were down) against Kootenay, and an 8-2 crushing of Seattle on Saturday in Kent, WA.  Brendan Burke got the shutout on Wendesday, and Nic Petan scored two goals against the Ice on Friday.  Brendan Leipsic scored four points in the rout on Saturday.  This Friday, the Winterhawks take on the Thunderbirds at home and will travel to Everett, WA for a game against the Silvertips on Saturday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: Time to Start Over

On Friday, the Winterhawks saw their 12 game winning streak come to end in Kamloops 6-4.  Mac Carruth took the loss, his first since his return, and Brendan Leipsic scored three points.  Kamloops had been struggling after opening the season with a point in every game for the first five weeks, but there was a reason why Kamloops is the class of the B.C. Division: timely scoring, and lots of it, and goaltending that can get them through when it counts.

Losing to Kamloops is nothing bad, as they are the favorite to repeat as B.C. Division champions this year, but it is how you respond after a loss.  The Winterhawks responded with a home victory against Medicine Hat 5-2.  Cam Lanigan did not play in this game, as Marek Langhamer got the call.  Taylor Leier and Ty Rattie scored two goals each and Brendan Burke picked up the win.  The Winterhawks will be at home on Wednesday against Vancouver and Friday against Kootenay in the Daylight Game, which will see the Memorial Coliseum open its curtains for the afternoon tilt.  Saturday, they travel to Kent, WA for a game against division rival Seattle.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Going for More

The Portland Winterhawks will look to extend their winning streak this weekend with a game at Kamloops tonight and at home against Medicine Hat tomorrow.  Kamloops will be looking for revenge from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Winterhawks last Sunday while Medicine Hat will feature Cam Lanigan in net.  Lanigan, as you will remember, started the season in Portland and won all his games with the team.  However, when Mac Carruth came back, that meant someone had to go, and that someone was Lanigan.  Currently, Lanigan has a 9-3-0-0 record and has a 2.22 GAA at both stops this season.  There is no question Lanigan will want to play well against his former team, and having top players in Curtis Valk and Hunter Shinkaruk will make Medicine Hat a tough team to beat.  The Winterhawks will definitely have their hands full this weekend, and one would think both games will be close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Worst Franchise Ever?

Normally, I don't do baseball stories in the middle of hockey season, but this bit of news from Miami is too much to not discuss.  In a trade that is expected to be finalized today, the Miami (ex-Florida) Marlins will send shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Yuniel Escobar, catcher Jeff Mathis, pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, and outfielder Jake Marisnick.  Based on what you just read, if you are thinking salary dump by the Marlins, then you would be correct.  It was this time last year that the Marlins were actually trying to build a team that would contend for a playoff spot in their new home.  Today, that home, yes, the one with the abomination in center field, will now be fielding what amounts to a minor league team.  Marlins fans, if there are any left (and if you stopped rooting for them, I understand), you now have the worst owner in sports.  When you fall behind the NHL team in your city (one that isn't playing because of the lockout, mind you), it's time to pack it in.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Entering the Hall

As you know, there is a lockout going on that is affecting the NHL.  However, that lockout does not extend to the Hall of Fame ceremonies, which saw four new members join the ranks of the best to play the game.  Joe Sakic was the biggest name to enter, and with a resume that includes two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, a Hart Trophy, and an Olympic gold medal, not to mention a reputation for delivering when the games count the most, it's difficult to make a case against him being a Hall of Famer.  Further cementing his legacy was the fact that he spent his entire career with one franchise in Quebec/Colorado.  Mats Sundin was the other first ballot Hall of Famer in this group, having started his career in Quebec before ultimately becoming the face of the Maple Leafs for their last good years to this point.  He never reached a Stanley Cup Final, but does own a gold medal from the 2006 Olympics.  he was never as appreciated in Toronto as Doug Gilmour or Wendel Clark, but he was quietly efficient in his time there, as his being honored by the team last season shows.  Adam Oates was often the Robin to someone else's Batman, whether it was in St. Louis (Brett Hull), Boston (Cam Neely), Washington (Peter Bondra), or Anaheim (Paul Kariya).  He never won any awards, and like another under-appreciated center in Ron Francis, was often overshadowed by his teammates, yet he never complained about his role.  It's no surprise that the former college free agent from RPI found his way into a coaching job in the NHL with the Capitals, as his on-ice IQ was off the charts.  Pavel Bure was the most dynamic player in this foursome, scoring 60 goals in two seasons and coming close in two other seasons.  His career was curtailed by knee issues and a tumultuous falling out with Vancouver in the 1998-99 season.  He would bounce from Vancouver to Florida to the NY Rangers.  He is the "What could have been" of this group, as if knee problems didn't get in the way, he could have easily surpassed 600 goals for his career.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly: the Wins Just Keep Coming

In lieu of a number, this week's Winterhawks report is all about winning, and no one seems to be able to stop the Winterhawks.  A 9-5 win over Vancouver on Friday was close until Brendan Burke was pulled for Mac Carruth.  A 9-1 win over Spokane made it eleven wins in a row, and on Sunday, they beat the best team in the WHL in Kamloops 3-1 for win number 12.  Carruth took the win in all three games this weekend, meaning he still has not lost since coming back to the team a month ago.  Ty Rattie saw his points streak end Sunday at 13 games, but that's all the bad news there was for the Winterhawks.  The Winterhawks travel to Kamloops, who will undoubtedly be seeking revenge on Friday.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Number Debate

With Pavel Bure being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this Monday (a report on this will be that day), there is a debate in Vancouver as to whether he will see his number 10 retired at some point in the future.  You know the pluses and minuses of this, ranging from his on-ice play that saw him net 60 goals in a season twice to his infamous trade demands of the 1998-99 season.  The case for this happening is most likely to include how much of an impact he made for the team, as in he was the first true superstar to wear a Canucks jersey, and when you have a superstar on your team, you tend to gain more fans along the way.  The case against?  Well, it's something of a coincidence that the three players who have had their numbers retired (Stan Smyl and 12, Trevor Linden and 16, and Markus Naslund and 19) all wore the C at one point in their respective careers and were good about giving back to the city.  Aside from the trade demand, the only people who would know about Bure's off-ice efforts would be the city of Vancouver (for the sake of this piece, I will only include Vancouver, since they are the ones talking about number retirement).  Ultimately, I think the number 10 he wore will be retired at some point, but I do not think it will be for another couple of years.  Then again, Patrick Roy smoothed things over with the Canadiens long enough to see his number retired there, so anything can happen.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kansas Hockey Hall of Famer

Quick, name the only hockey player in the Hall of Fame to be born in Kansas?  *waits a minute* If you took the time to look at the picture above, then you know the answer.  Silas "Si" Griffis was born in 1883 in the town of Onaga, Kansas, which is northwest of the state capital of Topeka.  His playing career went from 1901 until 1919, he played for the Kenora Thistles and the Vancouver Millionaires.  In the time before the Stanley Cup would become an NHL trophy, Griffis would win the Stanley Cup with Kenora in January 1907 and again in the 1914-15 season as a member of the Millionaires.  He scored 84 goals in 154 games and would go on to excel in golf and bowling.  He would die in July 1950, the same month he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Militant Hurricanes

In last night's 4-2 victory over the Victoria Royals, the Lethbridge Hurricanes unveiled some special jerseys in the Salute to Service month, paying tribute to the men and women who serve and protect the United States and Canada.  These jerseys were worn for Military Appreciation Night, and as you can see, these jerseys are relatively simple and pay tribute in the best way possible.  The Hawker Hurricane is in the logo and the round circle is a subtle take on the RCAF.  There are five stars beneath the silhouette, with four being white (for Conference championships) and one gold star (the WHL champions in 1997).  When it comes to paying tribute to the servicemen and women, the minor and junior leagues don't miss a chance very often, and while many of them are great to look at, they are also a reminder that there are those who sacrifice their lives to keep their country and their people free.  The Hurricanes' military jersey is just another way to say thanks, and it looks good doing it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nine in a Row!

The Portland Winterhawks just keep winning.  Their winning streak reached nine after a 5-1 romp over visiting Red Deer, with Derrick Pouliot leading the way with three points.  Mac Carruth picked up the victory, stopping 21 shots and Ty Rattie continues to add to his scoring totals, now at 11 games with at least a point.  The Winterhawks hit the road on Friday and Saturday against Vancouver and Spokane, respectively, before coming home against the WHL leading Kamloops squad.  Vancouver should be a gimme, since they're one of the worst teams in the WHL along with Kootenay while Spokane and Kamloops should provide formidable challenges, with Spokane being a point behind the Winterhawks in the U.S. Division and Kamloops outdistancing everyone by eight points.  The next best team?  You guessed it, the Winterhawks.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly #6

Last week, I did not do a Winterhawks Weekly, since they only played one game...and Kamloops was dominating headlines for their recently deceased streak of games without a regulation loss to begin the season.  This week, I can get back to some semblance of normal, which means the Winterhawks just keep on winning.  A 5-2 win over Everett on Halloween and 6-2 pastings of the Victoria Royals on Friday and Saturday now means the Winterhawks have won 8 in a row, and as it has been said (and will again before the streak is over), it's been no coincidence that the Winterhawks have been winning with Mac Carruth back with the team.  That confidence has spread through the team, and no player in my opinion has benefited more than backup Brendan Burke.  In the early going, Burke had struggled, perhaps feeling like he had to take on too much.  In his last game before Carruth came back, Burke played relatively well, and now with the team in front of him playing to their potential, Burke can focus on his game.  Carruth gets the majority of the time, but Burke has played well when his time comes, and he will only get better when he is finally handed the starting goaltender role when Carruth does move on, as Carruth is an over-ager.

As for the team in front of the goaltenders, any one can put together a big game, and in the back-to-back against Victoria, Tyler Wotherspoon and Troy Rutkowski put up three points on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and Seth Jones is becoming a more complete player that could very well be a top pick in next year's draft.  Nic Petan is picking up where Sven Baertschi left off, providing that second lethal weapon on offense to compliment Ty Rattie, who himself, is now finding that scoring touch once again.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Moose Streaks

The Halifax Mooseheads are the only other team in the CHL that can claim only one regulation loss, after the Kamloops Blazers lost in regulation on Thursday.  Today, the Mooseheads were aiming for their 15th straight victory, but would be denied in a shootout loss.  Still, 15 games with at least a point in the standings is nothing to sneeze at, and with a record of 16-1-0-1, they are only one win less than Kamloops.  Despite the loss, Halifax is still the class of the QMJHL, and having a potential first overall pick in next year's draft (Nathan McKinnon) has a profound effect on the team's chances of representing the QMJHL in this year's Memorial Cup.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Special Threads

Remember when the Portland Winterhawks debuted their third jerseys with the eyes on them?  For those that may not remember, here is what they look like:

As you can see from the opening picture, the Winterhawks have decided to pull a switch in logo placement, as their traditional logo is now the primary logo on the front and the eyes are now the shoulder logos.  It's an improvement on the jersey, and certainly, winning will only help, as 6-2 over the Victoria Royals last night shows.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's Over!

On November 1, the Kamloops Blazers were handed their first regulation loss.  The team that gave it to them?  B.C. rivals in the Kelowna Rockets in rather convincing fashion, as 3-0 proves.  The Blazers were actually on a 14 game winning streak and had not lost a regulation game to start the season until last night.  Their only loss of the season happened in the shootout, and in the streak, the Blazers scored 81 goals and only gave up 38, both remarkable numbers when you consider that the only player on the team with any real name recognition is Tim Bozon, who is the son of fomrer NHL'er Phillipe Bozon.  The Rockets are now in second place in the BC Division with 20 points, 13 points behind the Blazers and have a 9-6-1-1 record.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trade Winds Rock Halloween Night

In the midst of the Kamloops watch (which by the way, continues tonight at Kelowna) and Portland's own hot streak (now with more Mac Carruth), the Edmonton Oil Kings made a big trade with the Vancouver Giants.  Mason Geertsen and a first round pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft went to Vancouver and going the other way was David Musil.  The son of former NHL defenseman Frank Musil, David goes from the outhouse of Vancouver (the Giants have the worst record in the WHL) to the defending Ed Chynoweth champions in the Oil Kings.  Musil will also get a good feel for the city of Edmonton before making his NHL debut, as he was a 2011 second round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween, and since this is a hockey blog, today is a reach, as this will likely be the only time ever where the name Jim Boo will be mentioned.  Born James McQuaid Boo, he was born in Rolla, MO (good trivia question if there ever was one) and would play six games in the 1977-78 season for the Minnesota North Stars.  Though his hockey career was brief, Boo was the first NHL player to be born in Missouri, a small list that includes Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine.

Monday, October 29, 2012

WHL Week in Review 10/29/12

Since the Winterhawks only played one game this past week, today is not a week in review for Portland, but it will be a week in review for as much WHL action that I choose to cover.  Portland played their first game in Memorial Coliseum this season, which was the first with a newly refurbished ice surface, and they broke that in with a 6-0 crushing of Tri-City.  Since Mac Carruth was returned to the team by Rockford, the Winterhawks have been on a hot streak, and certainly, having Seth Jones find his game has been beneficial.  He scored his fourth goal last night, and Ty Rattie has started to find his scoring touch again.  Nic Petan leads the team in scoring, but that may not last if Rattie continues his hot ways.

As for the other big news in the WHL, the Kamloops Blazers watch has now reached six weeks, as in they still haven't lost a game in regulation this year.  Their next game is tomorrow in Everett as they take on Ryan Murray and the Silvertips.  After that, they head to Kelowna on Thursday and will be at home on Friday against Prince George.  Kelowna figures to provide the stiffest challenge, as they are the biggest rival to Kamloops, but Prince George is not a team to sleep on.  All three teams this week have defensive deficiencies, and that is not good news with a high scoring Kamloops team that boasts J.C. Lipon, Colin Smith, and Tim Bozon as the team (and league) leaders in scoring.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hockey in Seattle

In the past, I've drawn connections between the city of Portland and the Chicago Blackhawks (of which there are many) and given a history of hockey in Kansas City and New Mexico.  Today, I head up I-5 from Portland to a city three hours away in Seattle, WA.  You may be asking yourself, "Why Seattle?"  Well, given the talks of the Edmonton Oilers and their entertaining the idea of moving to Seattle, combined with the fact that Seattle is a rival city of Portland, OR, a fact driven home by the MLS rivalry between the two cities (plus Vancouver, BC), Seattle is not without a history in hockey.

Dating back to 1915, the city of Seattle had the Metropolitans in that time, and along with the Vancouver Millionaires, Portland Rosebuds, and Victoria Aristocrats, were the primary participants in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.  In 1917, Seattle made history when they became the first United States team to hoist the Stanley Cup.  That franchise would fold in 1924 along with the rest of the PCHA.  The Eskimos/Sea Hawks would have their turn from 1928 until 1941, playing in the PCHL (as the Eskimos) and NWHL (as the Sea Hawks) in that time period.  The city would have a few other minor teams in the Ironmen (1945-52), Bombers (1952-54), and Americans (1955-58).  The Totems would play from 1958 until 1975 in the Western Hockey League, the minor pro league that would be more famous for the Vancouver Canucks team that would eventually join the NHL in 1970.  Seattle had four entries in this league from 1945 until 1975, but the Totems would be the incarnation that experienced the most success.  A couple of years would pass from the Totems folding before Seattle would get another team, this time in the Breakers of the junior league version of the WHL.  Arriving from Kamloops, the Breakers would reach the West Division Finals despite a poor overall record.  In 1985, the Breakers would be renamed the Thunderbirds, who currently play in the Showare Center in the suburb of Kent, WA.  Some of the most notable alumni include Patrick Marleau and Brooks Laich.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Welcome, Brooklyn 2015

Concept courtesy of Icethetics
Given the lockout of the NHL, there hasn't been much to talk about as far as the professional leagues go...until yesterday.  The New York Islanders will be moving into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015, or around the time their lease for the Nassau Coliseum will expire.  At this point, the Islanders are going to keep their logos and color scheme (hopefully by then, the black jerseys will be phased out completely), but the move is three years away, so anything can happen.  For all we know, the Islanders could be following suit with their future fellow tenants in the newly christened Brooklyn (ex-New Jersey) Nets.  As for the arena they will be playing in, the arena is far better suited for basketball than it will be for hockey, and the arena will likely seat 15,000, at best for hockey.  However, if the Islanders can get the support the Winnipeg Jets got last year (the MTS Centre seats about 15,550), then it won't matter how many people the arena can seat.  Since Charles Wang is still in charge (at this point), the odds of that aren't looking great.  The Islanders will certainly be in a brighter spot of the New York City area, as Brooklyn seems to be the place to be once again after the Dodgers left town in the late 1950's.  What the team does with that spotlight however, is the one thing that remains to be seen.  For now, the Islanders are being talked about for something other than screwing up something.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

World Series Set

In the pouring rain, the San Francisco punched their ticket to the World Series and will be hosting the Detroit Tigers for game 1 tomorrow night.  In a game where everything went right for the Giants, it was one-time super utility player turned regular second baseman Marco Scutaro that led the offensive charge and took home the NLCS MVP honors.  Matt Cain pitched well enough to get the win, and the bullpen did their part to preserve a 9-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals.  A broken bat double by Hunter Pence broke the game open and the rout was on, leaving the Cardinals to pick up the pieces of a season that ended with a blown 3-1 series lead.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blazin' to Victory

It's five weeks into the WHL season, and would you believe there's still one team that has not lost a game in regulation?  That team is the Kamloops Blazers, who are the B.C. Division Champions from last year and were a game away from elimination Portland in the Conference semi-finals.  To this point, they have a 12-0-0-1 record.  No other team is even close, as the next team down has two regulation losses.  J.C. Lipon, Colin Smith, and Tim Bozon lead the offensive charge and Cole Cheveldae is the rock in goal.  The Blazers have 61 goals, 15 ahead of the next highest scoring teams, and only Portland has given up fewer goals.  It's early in the season, but the Western Conference looks like a three way dance between Kamloops, Portland, and Tri-City.

Stick Ball

When I started this blog, the original intent was to make it about hockey and baseball.  So far, I've been good about the first part, and less than average about the second part.  As a matter of fact, the last real talk about baseball was around the All-Star week, and that was because it was a big deal in Kansas City, since that is where I am right now and the Game was held there this year.  Tonight is game 7 of the NLCS, and we will find out who will be hosting the Detroit Tigers in game 1 of the World Series.  San Francisco was down 3-1, but are on the verge of overcoming that, thanks to a rag-tag group of players while St. Louis is looking to save face on a season that has seen them win WITHOUT Albert Pujols, who took the money and ran to Anaheim.  Personally, I thought this was going to be an interesting series, and it has, despite not watching much of the series (or any TV, for that matter since coming back from Portland).  Whoever comes out of the NLCS will have to face one of the hottest pitching staffs in Detroit, who is turning out to be more than just Justin Verlander.  Offensively, the Tigers haven't been the team that many expected, and certainly, the bullpen has its issues.  However, great starting pitching can trump just about anything, and Detroit is a favorite for that reason.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly #5

This week was relatively quiet for the Winterhawks, as they only had one game after a long road trip through Saskatchewan (and Manitoba).  Last night was a Pink the Rink promotion that saw the ice turn pink, and the Winterhawks made the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds see pink...and red after pasting them 6-1.  Chase De Leo had three points, and Mac Carruth has continued his hot streak since coming back to the team from Rockford.  The Winterhawks return to Memorial Coliseum next weekend, as the ice there was being refurbished, and combined with the NBA's Trailblazers starting the season in about ten days, the Winterhawks will have more of a home ice advantage...not that the Rose Garden wasn't like home.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Winterhawks Trade with Tigers

Yesterday, the Portland Winterhawks traded goaltender Cam Lanigan to the Medicine Hat Tigers for a seventh round pick in the 2013 Bantam Draft.  This trade was necessitated because Mac Carruth was returned to the team by Rockford of the AHL and because you can only have three overaged players (20 years old, and Taylor Peters and Troy Rutkowski are the others in this category), someone had to go, and Brendan Burke was not about to go, since he is likely guaranteed one more year even if he gets drafted by an NHL team next year.  Lanigan posted a 3-0-0-1 record with a 1.00 GAA while with the Winterhawks, and he will be a great benefit to a Tigers team that is second to last in the league in goals given up (only Saskatoon has given up more).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Random Thoughts from Yesterday's WHL Action

Between the rumors of a possible deal to end the NHL Lockout (and this Lockout beard I have growing, however terrible it looks) and the political season that I could give no brain cells about, I decided to take in a little WHL action on the internet radio.  Period one was the Kamloops Blazers and Red Deer Rebels, and no scoring happened until I changed from that game after the period.  Kamloops would go on to win 4-0 and are the only team to not lose in regulation this year.  JC Lipon has won the CHL Player of the Week two weeks in a row, and with two assists in last night's game, he appears to be making a case for three in a row.  Kamloops was a team last season that as a Winterhawks fan, scared me in the playoffs because they always play well, and though they lost in the Conference semi-finals, the Blazers didn't go quietly.  This year, they appear to have redemption on their minds, and it's showing in a 9-0-0-1 record as of this morning.  Red Deer has the defense to succeed, though it didn't show against Kamloops.  Their biggest issue is staying out of the penalty box, as they currently lead the league in PIM with 246.

As for what I heard in the second period, it was the Everett Silvertips vs. Moose Jaw Warriors.  Like Kamloops vs. Red Deer, that game was scoreless after one.  Everett scored twice to open the second period, with Ryan Murray scoring one of the goals.  However, Moose Jaw scored five unanswered goals to win 5-2.  Everett has been struggling to score goals, and if and when the NHL lockout ends, it is likely that Murray will jump to Columbus.  Since Murray is a spark plug for the offense, which truthfully does not say a lot about Everett's offense, the Silvertips will continue to struggle for goals until they can identify a goal scoring threat, something that hasn't happened even with Murray's presence.  Moose Jaw is a middle of the pack team in the Eastern Conference, but they are capable of winning games when they count.

Because of the time difference, I did not catch a game for the third period.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly #4

The Portland Winterhawks return home on October 20, and will do so with a lot of momentum from a 4-1-1 road trip.  The last third of the trip saw the Winterhawks beat Prince Albert 5-2 on Friday and Swift Current on Saturday by a 6-3 score.  Mac Carruth got the win on Friday as the Winterhawks saw five different players score and Brendan Burke got the win as Ty Rattie found his offensive game on Saturday, accounting for four goals.  Clearly, Carruth has energized this team since his return on Wednesday, and now the Winterhawks have a good problem in goal, as Carruth is a proven commodity, Burke is the hot shot looking to the 2013 NHL Draft, and Cam Lanigan has posted a solid GAA in his games played.  The one hope here is that Rattie has finally discovered his game from last year, where he led the team in scoring in the regular season and was second on the team in scoring in the playoffs.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Icebreakers Tournament

Last night was the start of the two day event called the Icebreakers Tournament, and though I will not be at tonight's event, I was in fact, there for the games yesterday.  So, to catch you up on last night's proceedings, the opening game featured Notre Dame and Maine, and the crowd was fairly even for both sides.  Both teams struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities, and the ice was pretty bad to the point where even the officials had a hard time staying upright.  In the end, Notre Dame ended up winning 1-0 on a third period goal.

Game 2 of the tournament pitted Army against Nebraska-Omaha, and this time, the crowd was mostly UNO, which is not a surprise, since the university is a three hour drive from Kansas City.  I happened to get a puck flipped into the general area where I was sitting after warmups.  Luckily, I was not hit or else my inattentiveness would have been painful.  I left before the first period ended with UNO up 2-0, and UNO would go on to rout Army 5-1.

Other notes: Both games were nationally televised on NBC Sports Network, a fact pointed out when someone spotted Pierre McGuire (yes, that Pierre McGuire) between the team benches.  UNO has a backup goaltender by the name of Dayn Belfour, who is the son of Hall of Fame goaltender Ed Belfour.  Before the Army-UNO game, there was a tribute to Major Thomas Kennedy, a former Army player who was killed in August while serving in Afghanistan, and Army had his initials on the back of their helmets.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly #3 1/2

I have a break in the Winterhawks action, as they will not play again until tomorrow, and being that I am still trying to catch up with the two-hour time difference between Portland and Kansas City, I figure to catch up with my WHL team.  Tuesday, the Winterhawks dropped a 3-2 OT decision to Regina, and while Brendan Burke actually played fairly well, the Winterhawks had more shots, but were not able to get much past the Regina goaltender.  Wednesday was a much different story, as Mac Carruth returned to the team after being reassigned by Rockford, the Blackhawks' minor league affiliate in the AHL.  Carruth pitched a shutout and the Winterhawks scored more than two goals for the first time on this road trip.  Seth Jones netted his first goal of the season, and while the goaltending carousel is still likely to go on, it appears that the Winterhawks are now set no matter who plays.  I believe Burke is finding his game, as evidenced by the Regina OT loss, Cam Lanigan is a solid option when given the opportunity, and Carruth knows how to win, as he was the goaltender of record when the Winterhawks made the Ed Chynoweth finals the last two years.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly #3

Today is another chapter in the Cascadia rivalry between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders.  Unfortunately, the game is in Seattle, and as you know by now, I am in Portland.  For those in the Portland area travelling to Seattle for today's game, make yourselves heard, as people will be watching.  As for hockey, the Winterhawks split the two games, winning 2-1 against Brandon and losing 4-2 against Moose Jaw.  Cam Lanigan was the goalie of record in the win and Brendan Burke was in net for the loss.  It's still early, but one begins to suspect that Lanigan has the inside track on the permanent starter's job previously held by Mac Carruth.  Burke is a prospect, but he does need to start tightening up the holes in his game soon.  The Winterhawks are too good to be having inconsistent games, and though the defense does have its lapses, it's clear at this point in time that Lanigan is more polished.  The Winterhawks play their next game in Regina, SK on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Saskatchewan (and Manitoba) Roadie

So, for the next couple of weeks, the Portland Winterhawks will be on the road to face off against the entire East Division of the Eastern Conference.  They begin tomorrow against the Brandon Wheat Kings, who lead the league in scoring with 25.  Unfortunately, they are also tied for the lead in most goals given up with 22 (with Regina).  If Portland is to win this game, they need to slow down the offense and get some of their own offense going.  Moose Jaw is the following day, and while they are middle of the road, it is also a trap game, one they cannot afford to sleep on.  The Regina Pats await on the 9th, and they are a team that desperately needs a spark early in the season.  If Portland is wise, they will jump on this team early and often.  Saskatoon is the next stop on the 10th, and they too, will be looking for a spark.  Prince Albert is on the 12th, and they have shown some surprising defensive prowess, only giving up 10 goals to this point.  They finish the road trip in Swift Current on the 13th, and though they can score (18 goals is pretty good at this point in the season), they may want to tighten up the defensive alignment.  As for how Portland can have a successful road trip, it begins with offense, as in they will need to keep it going.  It would be great if Ty Rattie, the team's leading scorer last season, starts finding his game.  Defensively, Seth Jones has yet to find his groove, but he's too good to be kept down forever, and given that he will likely be playing alongside either Derrick Pouliot or Troy Rutkowski, his full potential could come out.  Cam Lanigan has outplayed Brendan Burke in the early going, and it will be interesting to see how Burke responds to the road trip challenge.  His only road game was against Tri-City, where he gave up two goals as opposed to ten in his two home games.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Winterhawks Weekly #2

Week two of the WHL season is in the books, and the Portland Winterhawks still have a ways to go in their hopes of defending their Western Conference crown despite being in first place in the U.S. Division.  They split their two-game home series against Kelowna, winning 1-0 on Friday and dropping a 4-3 decision on Saturday.  No one really expected Nic Petan to keep up the 8 point first weekend momentum going, and it showed.  Brendan Leipsic scored twice in the loss, and Derrick Pouliot scored the lone goal in the win.  Defensively, this is still a work in progress, but after two weekends, Cam Lanigan looks like the clubhouse leader to get the permanent starting goaltender spot ahead of Brendan Burke.  Lanigan is the overager who came over from Kamloops in the offseason, and it looks like he's making the most of his opportunity in Portland.  Burke, widely expected to be taken in next year's NHL Draft, is having a few struggles, but game experience will help him improve.  The Winterhawks are on the road until October 20, with games at Brandon on the 5th, Moose Jaw on the 6th, Regina on the 9th, Saskatoon on the 10th, Prince Albert on the 12th, and Swift Current on the 13th.

I will also be on the road starting tomorrow, so don't expect a lot of updates on here.  I will be back on the 9th to give a wrap-up of the games played and a preview of the ones yet to be played on the Manitoba/Saskatchewan road trip.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Taking Off...Slowly


2011-12 record: 37-35-10 (84 points)
missed the playoffs
Captain: Andrew Ladd

The Winnipeg Jets were at one point in the season, in first place in the Southeast Division.  However, that moment of elation would not last, as their struggles away from MTS Centre would doom them to another year of no playoffs.  Still, the people of Winnipeg will be behind this team, and players such as Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, and Andrew Ladd give them good reason to stick around.  Olli Jokinen was the major addition, and he should give the Jets a number one center that they lacked last year.  It would help if Alexander Burmistrov and Patrice Cormier start living up to their expectations.  Defensively, Dustin Byfuglien is an offensive force from the blue line, but Tobias Enstrom is the rock of that unit.  However, Enstrom missed time to injury, and he will need to be healthy for a full season if Winnipeg hopes to make the playoffs because the depth on the blue line drops off significantly, especially since Zach Bogosian will miss most of the season to injury.  Ondrej Pavelec needs to be more consistent, but he also shows signs of being a good starter in the league.  Al Montoya is the backup, which would spell trouble if Pavelec is out for any significant period of time.

Prediction: 12th in the East

Band: Elis/Zirkonium

The little country of Liechtenstein has produced a metal band in Elis, who were well on the way to big things until original vocalist Sabine Duenser died in 2006.  Since then, Elis managed to release two more albums (including Duenser's final album with the band in Griefshire), but were never the same after that.  Two vocalists later, they decided to call it a day as Elis and are now Zirkonium.  The Thrashers had a similar path, but bad ownership led them to become the Jets.

I do not have any material for Zirkonium, as they formed about a month ago, so to that end, I will provide this teaser of Zirkonium:

And some Elis material:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Capital Improvements


2011-12 record: 42-32-8 (92 points)
Lost to NY Rangers in Conference semi-finals
Captain: Alexander Ovechkin

The Capitals were heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the season.  Then, November rolled around, and they stunk so bad that Freshwave  was installed (read: Bruce Boudreau was canned for Dale Hunter, who then decided to take his puck and go home to London Knights).  On the dying days of the season, the Capitals barely snuck into the playoffs and knocked off Boston before succumbing to the Rangers in seven.  Offense was ordinary, as none of the premier weapons in Alexander Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, or Alex Semin had particularly good years.  Semin is now in Carolina, and now, it is up to Ovechkin and Backstrom to get back some of what they lost.  The blue line, long perceived as a strength, was anything but, as Mike Green missed most of the season and no one really stepped up.  This year will be Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby battling for the starting goaltender role, and Holtby has the advantage of being the one who has played well more recently.

Prediction: 6th in the East

Band: Korpiklaani

When Korpiklaani started out, they were the fresh, new thing in metal.  Now, you wonder if they will ever be anything more than a curiosity.  The Captials are hoping to be more than just a perpetual bridesmaid.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Goalie, Same Results?

Because I'll likely be away from the computer for much of the day tomorrow, you will get the preview for that day tonight.


2011-12 record: 51-22-9 (111 points)
Lost to Los Angeles in conference quarterfinals
Captain: Henrik Sedin

For the second year in a row, the Canucks were the President's Trophy winners.  However, that felt like less of an accomplishment than before, and those fears were founded in the opening round loss to Los Angeles.  These were clearly not the Canucks that were a win away from the Stanley Cup in 2011, and certainly, they won't be that team this coming season.  For one, Cory Schneider is now the starting goaltender, whether Roberto Luongo is there or not.  The jury is still out on whether trading away Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian was a good idea, as Kassian certainly has the size and fight necessary, but does he have the discipline and motivation?  Not having Ryan Kesler for a month or two will be a big deal, as he hasn't been healthy since the 2011 playoffs, and his health is a major thing to look at if the Canucks wish to make a deep run again.  Defensively, Jason Garrison was brought in, and he will be counted on to be a younger version of Sami Salo, who left for Tampa Bay.  There is no real number one defenseman, but there are plenty of solid players in the group, but there is likely room for either Kevin Connauton or Chris Tanev to crack the lineup.  Offensively, good health willing, the Canucks will be secure in this area.

Prediction: 1st in the West

Band: Judas Priest

Judas Priest is near the top when it comes to heavy metal in all eras.  However, they are second (and possibly third) fiddle in their own country.  The Canucks are near the top, but have never reached the top.  Does that change this year?

And yes, I deliberately picked this video because what can I say, it's a guilty pleasure.