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.