Monday, January 28, 2013

Behind the Green

There's no doubt that if you're a Vancouver Canucks fan in the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Finals, there's one detail that you would like to be different.  You may have also noticed two guys in green body suits near the opponents' penalty box at Canucks home games.  For the first time ever, you get to see the Canucks' run in that year through the eyes of one of the Green Men.

Behind the Green is a fairly short, yet riveting look through the eyes of Ryan Sullivan, who was "Sully" of the Green Men.  The story tells of the duo's beginnings ("Force" is the other half of the Green Men), which began with a chance encounter between the two guys (not in green bodysuits) at a class in BCIT.  A few internships and an aborted mission to dress as the Green Men at a Seattle Seahawks game later, the Green Men were born.  However, even after the initial success at a game against the Nashville Predators, the road wasn't exactly a smooth one for the duo, as they learned the hard way about business dealings and the difficulties in keeping the act from growing stale.  Many trials and tribulations were had, and it almost ended before it had a chance to really hit the ground.  There were the highs (their first appearance in the playoffs in 2010) and the lows (seeing the momentum deflate after that series loss against Chicago), and certainly, there were times when it seemed that fame would be fleeting, if not for an incident involving the Toronto Maple Leafs and waffles being thrown on the ice.  It was the 2011 playoffs that would catapult the Green Men into North American consciousness, as the duo got to travel for some of the road games and encountered numerous interview requests, while relishing every chance to be out of the suits (as Sullivan says in the book, it can get stuffy in the suits and you have a hard time seeing through them).  The book ends with Sullivan's thoughts on the Vancouver riots that happened after game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Behind the Green is one of the best books written about a couple of fans who got the chance to do what so many of us, as hockey fans, have always wanted to do: be there for our team, wherever they may travel and no matter the result.  As you read the book, there are consequences for every action, and not all of them benefited the Green Men.  As a bonus for anyone who aspires to be in the Journalism field, Sullivan offers a few tips on having some level of success, as he (and "Force") both work in the field when he is not prancing around in a green bodysuit.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will cringe at the thought of doing the worm with a cup on, but you will find Behind the Green to be nothing short of exciting, and "Sully" is there to guide us through life in green.

If you'd like a copy of the book, head to the Behind the Green website.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Peterborough Express: New Name, Same Coverage

As you can tell from the title, I have decided to rename the Peterborough Petes weekly report to something (presumably) less cheesy.

As for the Petes on the ice this week, they made a comeback on Thursday en route to a 3-2 win in the shootout against Belleville at home.  The road portion of the team's week was not so kind, as Barrie proved to be rude hosts in a 4-1 loss.  The Petes continue their road swing, as they hit Windsor on Thursday, Saginaw on Friday, and Plymouth on Saturday.

Winterhawks Weekly: You Win Some, You Lose Some

The Winterhawks' week began on a sour note, as they were thumped 5-2 at home on Monday by Spokane in what was the first of three meetings in one week between the two teams.  Wednesday, they hit the road and lost 5-4 in a shootout at Spokane, which made it four losses in a row for the Winterhawks, though they did manage two points in that streak.  On Friday, the Winterhawks found the win column again, this time, shutting out the Chiefs 3-0 behind a solid effort from Mac Carruth.  On Saturday, the Winterhawks made it two shutouts in a row, as Oliver Bjorkstrand notched a hat trick and Brendan Burke played well in a 7-0 rout of Tri-City in Kennewick, WA.  This coming week, the Winterhawks will have an equally tough task ahead, as they travel to Everett on Tuesday to conclude a Washington road trip, Kamloops comes to town on Wednesday for a game before the Winterhawks travel to Seattle on Friday and the week will conclude with a home game against a rapidly improving Spokane team.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What If: Alexei Yashin Doesn't Hold Out of the 1999-2000 Season

I've done a few of these "What If's" before, and some of them haven't gone as well as I thought they would.  However, in the interest of today's random thought, here is one about Alexei Yashin and if he never held out for the second time in his career.  So, without further ado, here goes (going up to the end of the 2003-04 season):

It is the 1999-2000 season, and Yashin is coming off of his best season yet, scoring 94 points, with 44 of them being goals, and he is in the final year of his current contract with the Senators.  Yashin knows that a big payday is forthcoming, and he wants to do his best.  The Senators win the Northeast Division that year, barely beating their provincial rivals in the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Yashin goes on to break the 100 point mark that year, but is beaten out for the Art Ross Trophy by Jaromir Jagr.  Things are looking good for the Senators...until their first round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Because the Senators had home ice advantage in that series though, the Sens would go on to win in seven tough games, with Yashin being the difference maker.  Their next opponent would be the New Jersey Devils, and despite their offensive talents, the Senators could not solve Martin Brodeur, and go down 4-2.  In the offseason, Yashin asks for big money, and the Senators were unwilling to pay the price tag.  As a result, Yashin leaves for a larger payday in New York and the Rangers while Ottawa is left to scramble for a replacement for Yashin beginning the following season.  The captaincy Yashin left behind is given to Daniel Alfredsson, who puts up decent numbers, but it isn't enough, as Ottawa falls to the seventh seed in the 2000-01 season, where they would get swept by a revenge-minded Maple Leafs team in the first round that year.  Meanwhile, Yashin proves to have a good first year as a Ranger, but for the next five years, he does little of note, as his numbers see a precipitous decline in subsequent years.  Ottawa, needing to fill some holes on their team, dangle Marian Hossa as trade bait, and find a taker in the New York Islanders, who send their first round pick, Zdeno Chara, and Bill Muckalt.  While Hossa becomes a breakout star with the Islanders, even leading them to a Conference Final in 2002, the Senators struggle to find some offense, as evidenced by a couple more one and dones in the playoffs.  However, they find that Chara is a superstar in the making on the blue line, and lock him up to a long term deal.  Meanwhile, that first round pick in 2001 turns out to be Jason Spezza, who would join the team in the 2003-04 season, and while he doesn't have immediate success, there is hope, as he provides a spark late in the season.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Head Cougar

Following up on yesterday's developments in Prince George, BC, the Cougars have made an announcement that Mark Holick will be taking over the head coaching duties for the Cougars.  Holick comes from Syracuse of the AHL, where he had been head coach for two years, and for the three seasons prior, had a successful run as coach of the Kootenay Ice, compiling a 120-75-0-21 record, something the Cougars desperately need: someone who knows how to win.  Holick's first mission: trying to get some offense out of a team that ranks dead last in the league in goals scored.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Change in Prince George

In the midst of another losing season, the Prince George Cougars have made a change in the coach.  While it is unclear as to who the new coach will be, one thing for sure is that they will have to clean up a mess left by Dean Clark.  An 83-161-5-11 record since April 2009 and only one playoff appearance in three and a half seasons, with an almost certain bleak outlook for this year's playoff picture, were contributing factors in Clark's dismissal.  Currently, the Cougars are dead last in offense, with only 114 goals scored.  Their defense isn't so bad, with 168 goals against, but a lack of offense in Clark's time led to his doom, and trying to attract a goal scorer is going to be no easy task, since Prince George is in the same division as powerhouses in Kelowna and Kamloops.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet the Subbans

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today's piece will focus on a set of brothers who are looking to make an impact on the NHL in the coming years.  The picture you see is of the Subbans: (from l to r) Jordan, Pernell Karl (P.K. to everyone in the know), and Malcolm, and they are the sons of parents who had moved to Canada from Jamaica (the father) and Montserrat (the mother).  P.K. is the oldest brother and is already making an impact in the NHL as a defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens (though he is currently sitting out while trying to hammer out a restricted free agency deal with the team).  Malcolm is the middle brother of the three, and is currently a goaltender for Belleville of the OHL.  He was drafted in the first round by the Boston Bruins in the 2012 Draft, which should make for an interesting family dinner between P.K. and Malcolm.  Jordan is the youngest of the three, and is a defenseman for Belleville.  He will be eligible for the NHL Draft in 2013.  P.K. is a rising star that is also known for being chirpy, something that players like Steve Ott, Jeremy Roenick, and Chris Chelios did (in Ott's case, is doing) in their careers.  P.K. isn't quite on the level of those three, but the ceiling for his talents is high, and in time, they will catch up to the rest of his game.  Malcolm will likely see time with Providence of the AHL, as the Bruins currently have Tuukka Rask as the starter, and depending on whether Tim Thomas comes back from his one year exile, that could mean Malcolm ends up in the minors to get some time as a starting goaltender.  Boston has decent depth in goal, and having the time to start somewhere is important in the development of a young goaltender.  Just ask Jacob Markstrom in Florida and Robin Lehner in Ottawa.  Jordan is a prospect for the NHL Draft this year, and there is considerable talent ahead of him (he was ranked 81 of the North American skaters), most notably from an African-American defenseman in Seth Jones, who himself is the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones.  Currently, his numbers are comparable to P.K.'s when P.K. was playing in Belleville, but height and weight are reasons for his ranking.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Peterborough Platter: Uphill Battle

No matter how good the Petes have been in 2013, the fact that they've been putting themselves in a major hole is coming back to bite them.  Case in point: this week, as the Petes went one for three, winning the middle game and losing the bookends.  In the Thursday loss against Guelph, they fell behind 3-0 after one period, and that was too much to overcome, as they would go on to lose 5-3.  Jonatan Tanus had a good game at Niagara, scoring three points as the Petes took a 5-4 win in St. Catharines, ON.  Today was a first look at the newly revamped Brampton Battalion team that had ex-Pete Francis Menard.  The game was evenly matched, but a late third period goal by Brampton ended the Petes' hopes for a victory in Brampton, as they would fall 2-1.

The Petes will be at home against Belleville on Thursday, which should also be a reunion of sorts, as Alan Quine started his year in Peterborough before getting moved to Belleville.  Saturday, the Petes will travel to Barrie for a tilt against the Colts.

Winterhawks Weekly: Hitting a Pothole in the Road

The Winterhawks' momentum hit a pothole this week, as they blew a three goal lead against Lethbridge on Friday en route to a 5-4 shootout loss.  On Saturday, the Winterhawks lost to rival Seattle 4-3 in Kent, WA despite a three point night from Nic Petan.  This coming week figures to be no easier, as they play Monday at home against Spokane before travelling to Spokane for games on Wednesday and Friday before heading to Kennewick, WA for a Saturday game against Tri-City.  If there was ever a time for the Winterhawks to be at their best, this week is it, as Spokane and Tri-City are not exactly pushovers.

Spokane features Brendon Kitchon and Todd Fiddler as their leading scorers in a fairly well balanced attack.  Goaltending could use some improvement, where Eric Williams holds down the fort, but it does the job well enough for second place in the U.S. Division.  Adding Alessio Bertaggia to the mix should help the offense.  Tri-City is led by Justin Feser on an offense that isn't as good as last year's version, and clearly, they miss the likes of Patrick Holland and Brendan Shinnimin.  Eric Comrie was the best goaltender on the team (a 2.62 GAA is pretty good), but he is now out for the season, leaving Luke Lee-Knight and Troy Trombley as the options in goal.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Filling in the Leadership Roles

The final leadership roles in the NHL have been filled (except for one, Columbus) in time for the start of the regular season tomorrow.  New Jersey will have Bryce Salvador as their captain to replace Zach Parise, Philadelphia will have Claude Giroux as captain, as he replaces Chris Pronger, who is likely facing retirement from concussion issues, and Florida will have Ed Jovanovski as captain after going without one last season.  Salvador had a resurgence in the playoffs, and given the Devils' style of play, he makes the most sense as the new captain there.  Giroux has emerged as the Flyers' best player, and is going to be looked upon by youngsters such as Sean Couturier and Matt Read for guidance.  Jovanovski has been to a Stanley Cup Final (with Florida in his first go-around) and has been a dependable player in his career.  He is most likely going to benefit the likes of Erik Gudbrandson and Jonathan Huberdeau as they look to get their NHL careers off the ground.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rocketing to the Top

Lost in the talk about the upcoming NHL season (only two days away now) and the Portland Winterhawks taking everyone to the woodshed is the fact that there is another team on a hot streak.  The Kelowna Rockets have passed the Kamloops Blazers for first in the BC Division thanks to an 18 game home winning streak and a 9-0-1-0 record since the holiday break.  With 67 points, the Rockets now hold a four point lead over their provincial rivals and are led in scoring by Myles Bell and Zach Franko.  Jordon Cooke has played the bulk of the time in goal, amassing a 2.50 GAA and three shutouts while backup Jackson Whistle has a 2.10 GAA and a shutout to his name.  Those are comparable numbers to the Winterhawks tandem of Mac Carruth (1.70 GAA and four shutouts) and Brendan Burke (2.71 GAA and two shutouts).  The Rockets are only bested in total offense by the Winterhawks (199 to 196 goals scored) and only the Winterhawks and Oil Kings have given up fewer goals than the Rockets.  Everyone has kept their eyes on the Blazers since the beginning of the season, but now, it's time to start paying attention to the Rockets, as the BC Division will be hotly contested in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Straight Shootin' J.R.

Jeremy Roenick was known as a hard working, tough hockey player that didn't meet a microphone that he didn't like in his playing days, and certainly, there's no microphone that he won't turn down now that he's an analyst on NBC Sports' hockey shows.  So, it should be no surprise that he has an autobiography out in J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard Hitting Man in Hockey (published by Triumph Books in the U.S., and is under a different title and published by Harper Collins in Canada).  The autobiography, written with some help from USA Today columnist Kevin Allen, is an earnest look into the life of a player that either you loved or hated, and sometimes both at the same time.

Some of the highlights in the book include his insight into a locker room when he first started out, his often contentious relationships with his coaches, and addressing some of his comments from his current job as an analyst concerning Patrick Marleau and a hit on Kris Letang by Eric Nystrom last season.  Though there are instances where I think he could have gone further in depth such as his early childhood, there are some that he talks about in depth that define Roenick as a man, such as his relationship with his wife Tracy and how certain players have influenced his style such as Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, and Mike Modano.  The book also offers a different point of view on people such as Mike Keenan and Wayne Gretzky, both of whom Roenick as respect for, but as you read, wasn't always a 24/7 deal.

When reading the book, Roenick challenges you to think and to ask, in his words, "What the $%&* was Roenick thinking?"  There were plenty of instances of the latter, and certainly many of them will have you laughing along or shaking your head.  The autobiography is definitely a must-read if you're a fan of Roenick, want to know what was going on behind the scenes, or just want to have a good laugh.  Be warned, as Roenick pulls no punches here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Peterborough Platter: the Beat Goes On

Despite trading away their three leading scorers in Francis Menard (Brampton), Slater Koekkoek (Windsor), and Alan Quine (Belleville), the Peterborough Petes managed to pick up a point in all three games this past week.  A 3-2 shootout win against Kitchener was followed by back-to-back 4-3 losses in a shootout at Oshawa and at home against Sudbury.  They play at home on Thursday against Guelph before hitting the road on Saturday and Sunday against Niagara and Brampton.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winterhawks Weekly: A New Record and More Wins

This past week saw more wins (yawn) and a new record for the Portland Winterhawks.  After a 6-4 win and 3-0 win against Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday, they followed it up with a 5-2 win against Spokane and an 8-0 crushing in Everett.  That means the Winterhawks are now on a 14 game winning streak.  Brendan Burke picked up wins on Tuesday and Saturday and Mac Carruth won on Wednesday and Friday.  Now, for the record: Carruth picked up the team record for most wins by a goaltender on Wednesday, passing Darrell May, Sr. on the list.  Carruth has proven to not just be a great goaltender in Portland, but also a game changer, as the Winterhawks have ridden double digit winning streaks three times since he returned in mid-October.  It has also given Brendan Burke some confidence, as he has seen his numbers improve over the season.  Offense is led by Brendan Leipsic, Nic Petan, and Ty Rattie, and on defense, Troy Rutkowski is playing his way onto NHL Draft boards with his recent offensive output.  Rutkowski had been drafted by Colorado in 2010, but did not sign, and it is possible that he could be a wanted player when his WHL career is over.  Of course, having Derrick Pouliot back from injury and Seth Jones from a WJC gold medal performance will only help the Winterhawks moving forward.

The Winterhawks will be at home on Friday against Lethbridge before hitting the road to Kent, WA for a tilt against the Thunderbirds on Saturday.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Father and Son...On the Same Team

Earlier today, a little history was made on the KalPa Kuopio team in the SM-liiga in Finland, as Sami Kapanen and his son Kasperi suited up for a game.  The elder Kapanen (Sami) played in the NHL for Hartford, Carolina, and Philadelphia, carving out a nice career defined by his versatility and effort.  He was one of the better skaters whose moment was defined by a hit he took in the 2004 playoffs from Darcy Tucker (Flyers vs. Maple Leafs) and made it back to the bench moments before Philadelphia scored the game winner.  Small things like that will endear you to your teammates, and Kapanen was one of the more underappreciated players in his time in the NHL.  As for right now, Kapanen has a share in the KalPa Kuopio team, which helped in getting Kasperi to join the team.  Expect the younger Kapanen to make a similar impact in the future, wherever he ends up, whether it's the NHL, KHL, or another league in Europe.

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Good to be Nied-y.

The month of January has been kind to Scott Niedermayer.  Later this month, he will see his number 28 retired by the Kamloops Blazers, a team that he played for prior to joining the NHL.  Yes, he wore 27 in the NHL, but there was a time he wore a different number.  Regardless of number, he excelled there and in his time in the NHL, which included three Stanley Cups with the Devils and Ducks and a gold medal with Canada in 2002 and 2010.

Today, he will be rejoining the Ducks in the role of one of the assistant coaches on Bruce Boudreau's staff.  What this could mean is that Niedermayer will be a mentor to the likes of Luca Sbisa, Cam Fowler, and some of the younger players entering their first year with the Ducks like Emerson Etem.  Certainly, Niedermayer will bring a winning pedigree to the coaching staff and the familiarity with some of the current Ducks can only help.  One hope is that he will be able to find a way to motivate Ryan Getzlaf, who became captain after Niedermayer retired in 2010.  Getzlaf has seen his numbers fall off in the last two years and there are some rumblings (including this scribe) concerning his ability to lead the team.

WHL Wheelin' and Dealin'

While the NHL is dominating the headlines, something was put to my attention yesterday.  Thanks to the WHL Facebook page, I was informed that the league had its trade deadline yesterday, and the three leading teams were quiet yesterday.  In fact, the Portland Winterhawks were quiet for a lot of the season in its trades, only making one deal (being Cam Lanigan to Medicine Hat earlier in the season when Mac Carruth came back).  Kamloops and Kelowna, the two teams vying for Western Conference supremacy with the Winterhawks, also stood pat, making their deals well before yesterday's deadline.  One of the biggest movers was the Brandon Wheat Kings, who started hot, but a leaky defense doomed its chances of a playoff spot, and as a result, they were sellers.  Gone are leading scorer Alessio Bertaggia and Michael Ferland, who was the second leading scorer behind Mark Stone last year.  Spokane and Seattle also made moves in the hope of strengthening their playoff positioning, and Edmonton made a few moves in preparation for their title defense.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Turning Over a New (Maple) Leaf

The guy you see with a rather surprised expression is Dave Nonis, and as of this afternoon, he is now the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He replaces Brian Burke, who was canned earlier in the day. This turn of events happens days before the truncated NHL season is slated to begin.  Nonis, as you may remember, replaced Burke in Vancouver some time ago before getting canned himself and Mike Gillis took the Canucks' general manager role.  History repeats itself, as Burke is out in Toronto and Nonis is in, and the job is not going to be easy, as the Maple Leafs last made the playoffs in 2004 and are currently the holders of the longest playoff drought.  So, Nonis' first job as Maple Leafs general manager?  Likely finding a way to acquire Roberto Luongo, as it is one of the rumored reasons for Burke getting canned this close to the start of the season.

Silvertips Change Leaders

Just because the NHL has emerged from its lockout hibernation doesn't mean the WHL news won't be covered anymore.  Case in point: today, and this one is important to those who follow the Everett SIlvertips. Mark Ferner is out as head coach and Chris Hartsburg is out as assistant coach, and general manager Garry Davidson will fill in on an interim basis.  Currently, the Silvertips are in eight place in the Western Conference, and are second to last in goals scored in the league.

This is a big fall for a team that started its existence on a hot streak, reaching the Finals in its first year of existence.  Major changes began prior to last season, when longtime general manager Doug Soetart was replaced by Davidson, and Davidson wanted a change in philosophy from the defensive-minded teams of the past.  Currently, the fact that they're near the bottom in offense is an indication that the team hasn't quite identified the players necessary to succeed under this plan.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Captaincy Updates

Before the lockout came and took over the hockey headlines, there were a few captaincy spots to fill, and two of them appear to be filled as of today: one expected and one unexpected.  First the unexpected: the Colorado Avalanche have named Gabriel Landeskog the new captain.  If you recall, the Avs had Milan Hejduk as captain midway through the season.  That would only last a few months, as Hejduk would tell the team that he wanted to step down as captain.  As for Landeskog, it was only last year that he made a successful transition from the draft stage in 2011 to Calder Trophy winner in 2012.  The fact that he hadn't turned 20 by the time he was named captain ought to come as a bit of a shocker, but given that Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews were named captains of their respective teams early in their careers, this is perhaps a sign that the Avs feel comfortable having a kid lead the team.  After all, Landeskog did have the makeup to be captain someday, as the scouting reports made of him while he played in Kitchener of the OHL had him pegged as such.

As for the expected, the Detroit Red Wings have been in need of a captain since Nicklas Lidstrom retired in May.  That search may be over, as the Red Wings are to announce that Henrik Zetterberg as the new captain sometime this week.  This is no surprise, as Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk both served as alternate captains last season, and either one could have been named captain and the answer would still be right.

That leaves New Jersey and Florida as the only teams without a captain, and possibly Philadelphia, since Chris Pronger is likely to retire due to injury.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Winterhawks Weekly: About to Make History

In their lone game last week, the Winterhawks skated away with a 5-3 win over Everett behind a three point effort by Brendan Leipsic and a solid effort in goal by Brendan Burke.  Two home games against Prince George tomorrow and Wednesday will be followed by a home game on Friday against Spokane before they hit the road on Saturday against Everett.  At some point this week, it will be expected that Mac Carruth will be the team's all-time leader in wins, and his first opportunity will be tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Back to the Ice, NHL!

This morning, I woke up to the news that the NHL lockout is over, as the two sides came to an agreement.  What does this mean for the junior league reports?  Not much, as both the Winterhawks and Petes will still get their reports in as they happen.  Now, we can also get back to actually scribbling something about the NHL, and this blog couldn't be any happier.  And I can finally say goodbye to the lockout beard.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Peterborough Platter: Starting the New Year Right

To begin the new year, the Peterborough Petes had a successful home and home against Belleville, winning in a shootout on their ice and shutting them out 3-0 at home.  Their next home and home (the home portion for the Petes happens on the 10th) began with a 4-3 shootout loss at Kitchener.  That makes interim coach Jody Hull 3-1-0-1 since taking over at holiday break.  The Petes play on Thursday against Kitchener, go to Oshawa on the 11th, and will finish next week at home against Sudbury.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Battle Royale

Not having done a movie review in a while, today is an opportunity to fix that, and today's movie is Battle Royale.  The story is that a class of ninth graders are picked to participate in a killing game that only ends with one person surviving.  The movie itself is based on a novel of the same name, and like the novel, the film was released to much controversy.  The central characters in the movie are Shuya Nanahara (Boy 15), Noriko Nakagawa (Girl 15), and Kitano (teacher).  Other central characters in the movie are Kawada (boy 5), Kiriyama (boy 6), and Mitsuko (girl 11).  For purposes of this review, these are the characters that do the most in the movie, so I will focus on them as opposed to the others, most of whom have one line or two before getting killed.

The film follows Nanahara, who was orphaned after seeing his father hang himself, and Noriko, who has a special relationship with Kitano (father and daughter like relations, to be specific).  Kawada and Kiriyama are transfer students with different motivations for being in this Battle Royale, with Kawada being the guardian angel of sorts for both Nanahara and Noriko while Kiriyama joins for the sport of it.  Mitsuko also plays a central role in this film, as other than Kiriyama, she is the most lethal player in this game.  Beyond all the killing, Battle Royale touches upon the themes of friendship, love, and relations with family gone awry.  You notice these things in the flashbacks that Nanahara, Noriko, and Kitano have, and even when Kitano inadvertently (?) saves Noriko from certain death at the hands of Mitsuko.  The violence within the movie will either draw you in or push you away, but it is the underlying themes that ultimately make this movie worth your time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Winterhawks Weekly: Nine in a Row

Over New Year's Weekend, the Winterhawks made it nine in a row with 4-3 victories on a home and home against Tri-City on Friday and Saturday and a 5-0 shutout of Seattle at home that saw Mac Carruth tie the team record for most wins by a goaltender.  With Ty Rattie, Tyler Wotherspoon, and Seth Jones gone for WJC duty, as well as Keegan Iverson and Dominic Turgeon playing in another tournament, someone needed to step up in their absence.  Paul Bittner answered the call, as did Taylor Peters in the three games this weekend.  Brendan Leipsic is still on the team, as is Nic Petan, and neither missed Rattie much this weekend, as both contributed to the scoring, as well.  The only game this week is on Saturday against Everett.