The Hockey Card Show

The Hockey Card Show

Last night was our most competitive game to date and was definitely the most fun.  Playing just 2 on 2 with some home made 5’ W x 1’ H nets we laced them up and tried our best to not kill each other or ourselves.

The lineup read like a Toronto Maple Leafs tryout roster sheet.

You have your Dominik Hasek (Darrin AKA Dink) – Dude played net growing up but after hanging up his skates he prefers to cruise through the neutral zone dangling a puck around the other team hoping that he can make someone sprawl on the ice like he once did in his prime.  His skating and stick handling skills are far superior then anyone else’s, yet his passes to me (his teammate) consistently went through my legs.  The next morning he will have just 2 smokes rather than 3, but other wise be fine.

Next up, you Steve ‘Stumpy’ Thomas (Ken AKA my boss) – Having not worn skates in over 15 years he decides that he was going to give it all he’s got and whatever happened, happened.  He seems strong on his feet until he trips over our homemade nets and takes a few to get to his feet.  He is confident when stick handling knowing that his money move (deke to the forehand) works every time because the defender (me) doesn’t see it coming…ever.  The next morning he is eating Motrin like Skittles but saying he would do it again in a second.

Next we have your T.J. Oshie (Shane AKA the carpenter) – Never played hockey growing up but three weeks ago went to Canadian Tire bought a stick and borrowed some skates.  He is now the quickest, scrappiest, most determined person on the ice.  He blocks shots, he chases pucks and he doesn’t realize his own strength (just ask the bruise on my arm).  He may not be able to stop on the ice but his signature spin-o-rama stop has put his opponents (me) to shame.  The next morning his knees are swollen and is walking with a limp but if asked he will say he is fine and is ready to go again.

Lastly we have your Patrik Stefan (Justin AKA me) – Highly touted from his years of road and roller hockey growing up and incredible skill on NHL 94-10, he is often a desired teammate until moments before the puck drops he mutters “dude, just a heads up but I can’t stop on these things, but I can go like the wind”.  He stick handles like a slower Max Talbot and can scoop up the puck lacrosse style 1 time out of 14.  He can turn hard to the right (only) and man can he fly, however his stamina leaves something to be desired.  Through the years he has matured and grown (about 20 lbs.) and will be looking for a new stick this weekend because of it.  The next morning his left knee hurts from falling on it (repeatedly) and has a large bruise on his bicep from a cross check courtesy of Shane.  However he will once again play the game he loves and will try harder not to miss the gaping 5’ x 1’ net which has no goalie in it…again.…

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HNO To Hand Out Awards At Luncheon

HNO To Hand Out Awards At Luncheon

The powers that be of amateur hockey in Northwestern Ontario will gather at the Travelodge Hotel Airlane in Thunder Bay June 7-9 for Hockey Northwestern Ontario’s annual general meeting. Among the activities for the regional branch of the Canadian Hockey Association will be workshops as well as dealing with general business of the past year.

HNO will also stage their annual awards luncheon June 8. It is scheduled to get underway at 11:30 a.m. and will honour numerous award winners as part of the luncheon recognizing teams and individuals for their respective achievements. Among the awards handed out will be the presentation of the T.B. ‘Bones’ McCormack award, which goes annually to a member of the branch for meritorious service to the game. Other laurels to be distributed will be the Arnold Southern bursaries for scholastic and hockey achievement along with recognition of officiating award winners and the respective teams who claimed branch championships this season.
Notices of motion and the election of officers will also take place on the final day of the meeting.
For more information on the HNO annual meeting, or to purchase tickets for the awards luncheon, you can contact their office at 622-4792 or e-mail them at hkynwo@air.on.ca.

Brother act: Kevin and David Hoogsteen of Thunder Bay will once again be playing hockey together. The Dutch league champion Amsterdam Tigers announced this past week that they have signed the brother combination for the upcoming year. Kevin was the leading scoring in the Dutch league this season skating for Nijmegen. There he averaged over two points a game and also saw some time playing for the Dutch National Team. David meanwhile played for Rockford of the United Hockey League where he finished second on the team in scoring with 69 points in 73 regular season contests. The duo last played together at the University of North Dakota where they were part of a NCAA national championship team.

Big assist: The National Hockey League is again running a grant program called NHL Assist. The program is designed to help minor hockey associations worldwide defray costs of equipment, ice time and travel expenses.
The program will award up to $10,000 US to successful applicants.
NHL Assist has an area look to it, as the White River Minor Hockey Association was one of the 15-grant recipients world wide last season while Thunder Bay native Dave Fitzpatick, who is the assistant general secretary and sport director of the International Ice Hockey Federation, is one of the members of the selection committee. Organizations have until June 21 to submit an application for funding.…

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Ice Hockey Australian

Ice Hockey Australian Tour

Our planned ice hockey tour of Australia is set to go ahead next year following successful fundraising by team members and their families over the last 6 months. The tour, the first of it’s kind by our ice hockey team will last 4 weeks and cost in the region of US$40,000, and will include stops and games in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. This is great news for the team and its support staff, and we can all be proud of their achievements.

We are certainly very excited to be making the trip to Queensland on Australia’s east coast and have a number of ice hockey games scheduled in against a number of high caliber opponents. Yet it was with disappointment that in researching and preparing the tour itinerary that I came across an article in the Brisbane Times concerning the relaxation of Queensland gambling laws. Whilst this is no way effects the tour, on a personal note it does surprise and disappoint me in equal measures that a country as great as Australia continues to actively encourage gambling amongst it’s population. In particular there appears to be an over reliance at the grass roots sports club level on revenue derived from poker machines.

In this particular case, the Queensland government has stated that it is preparing to relax legislation relating to Aussie pokies, a move which is part of an attempt by the government to reduce the red tape and accompanying bureaucracy. The move will see the maximum number of pokies allowed in Queensland clubs increased from 280 to 300, and plans are also afoot to remove the geographical restrictions that have to date attempted to enable a more even distribution of poker machines across Queensland. What has this to do with ice hockey and our tour you may well ask?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Australia is a wonderful country, but it certainly appears that there is an over reliance on gambling revenue by both State and Federal governments. In fact, on a previous visit to Australia it became increasingly apparent that a number of sporting clubs across the country were financially reliant on the profit that electronic gaming machines such as pokies bought to the club. And it isn’t just small town local teams that are effected by this blight. A number of professional sporting outfits from a range of sports as diverse as golf, Australian Rules Football and soccer are effected. I read with interest a recent article published in Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, which reports that the newly established Gold Coast Sun’s AFL team were investigating funding options and that whilst they had yet to consider a move into the Queensland gaming market that there were certainly a number of Victorian based teams that generated considerable sums of revenue from this controversial industry.

And therein lies the problem. The impact of gambling with Australia effects all levels of society and its disappointing to see it effect grass roots sport. With that said it’s all the more reason we should be proud of our own ice hockey team and the support of their families and friends in raising the necessary funds for our tour of Australia.…

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Israel Ice Hockey Federation

Israel Ice Hockey Federation

Should Fresno Falcons center Oren Eizenman ever receive a promotion to the American Hockey League, he’ll have an entire nation in his corner. The 22-year-old is a dual citizen of Canada and Israel, as both of his parents are from the latter. Eizenman, who has 19 goals and 19 assists in 32 games, is awfully proud of his heritage and has represented Israel in such events as the World Championships, where helped his country win a gold medal in Division II in 2005. His older brother, Alon, played collegiate hockey at Penn State and was invited to participate in training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2001.

“It was amazing. Just going to the world championships and representing my country was amazing. Obviously, we don’t play at the same level as Canada or the United States, but it’s still thrilling nonetheless. It was a great experience … both my brothers teamed with me. We all played on the same line. It’s a lot of fun playing with them. It was kind of like playing on the pond behind our house.”

Eizenman is hoping his play in North America opens some eyes in Israel. While the sport doesn’t rank among the most popular in Israel, one has to be under the impression that, in the long run, it will only help the cause.

“It’s a growing sport,” Eizenman said. “We’re trying to do our best to kind of get it to be more popular in Israel. The climate doesn’t lend itself so well to hockey. It’s very warm all the time. There’s only one NHL ice sheet in Israel. To be honest, we want it to grow, but I think it has a long way to come with it, if our program wants to compete. We have our work cut out for us.”

After playing the last four seasons at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, it would have been understandable if Eizenman needed some time to adjust to professional hockey. Instead, the rookie leads the Falcons in scoring and will represent the National Conference at next week’s ECHL All-Star Game in Stockton, Calif.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Eizenman, who took part in the AHL’s Chicago Wolves’ training camp. “Coming into my first pro season, I kind of went in with an open mind. I really had no idea what was going to happen or anything like that, so I tried not to think about it too much. I just wanted to work as hard as I possibly could and kind of let things fall as they may. I don’t think I really had many expectations. This is about as well as I could have hoped for.”

Eizenman has been a treat for Falcons’ coach Matt Thomas, whose team has reeled off six consecutive wins and has trimmed the Las Vegas’ Wranglers lead in the Pacific Division to just nine points. He’s also thrilled that Eizenman will get the opportunity to showcase his skills at the All-Star Game, which always hosts scouts from across the National Hockey League.

“He’s a guy who deserves it,” Thomas said. “He’s one of those guys you appreciate once you get him in front of you. He certainly deserves that opportunity, because he plays every situation for us. If he keeps developing the way he’s developing, he’s a guy that (AHL) teams would and should be looking to give him a contract for next year. He’s a player who’s only going to get better.

“He’s one of those guys you appreciate more and more every single day you coach him,” he added. “You don’t have to tell him twice. He’s very coachable and he’s a student of the game.”

Eizenman would gladly accept the chance to play in the AHL, but the humble forward is currently focused on improving in every aspect of the game. Thomas, along with assistant coach Ryan Mougenel, has provided him the opportunity to do just that, as they’ve trusted Eizenman in every situation possible.

“They’re big on developing whatever it is you need to work on,” Eizenman said. “Obviously, the drive has to come from the player, but they’re willing to stay out (on the ice) for a half-hour, an hour after every practice to work on whatever it is you need to work on. Being a young guy, I know that you have to work constantly to improve. I’m pretty happy with everything here.”

He’ll be even happier should the Falcons continue to climb the standings before they head into the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Fresno’s recent success has certainly helped Eizenman keep his mind off a possible chance to play at the Triple-A level.

“I try not to think about that stuff,” Eizenman said. “Obviously, I’d love to challenge myself at the next level. I think it would be a thrill and it would be an honor to get that call-up. But I love it here. The guys are great. The way the season’s going right now, I’m just trying to focus on doing as well as we can in Fresno. Hopefully, we can make a run deep into the postseason. I know there’s a long way yet to go, but it’s nice to kind of be on a team where everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

Considering what Eizenman has accomplished in his first 32 professional games, it’s a safe bet that Thomas will be relying on the rookie center to provide a decent chunk of the offense in the playoffs. Whether Eizenman can provide that remains to be seen, but there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that he’s willing to do whatever the Falcons ask of him.

“I knew he was going to an impact first-year player,” Thomas said. “Every point he’s gotten this year has been through hard work. He doesn’t get second assists. Those 38 points are legitimate, hard-working points. There’s not cockiness about him, but a certain confidence in his game. Sometimes I have to tell him how good he is, because he truly doesn’t believe it, and that’s why he works so hard.…

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Leaf Blower Hockey – Official Rules and Equipment

Leaf Blower Hockey – Official Rules and Equipment

Leaf Blower Hockey. How it’s played.

Playing surface:
A hockey rink (no ice) is best, you can play the ball off the cushion and it also cushions sound, but a parking lot or any open paved space will do using street hockey nets.

Playing surface sizes:
You can move the nets and play side to side for a faster, high scoring game, or end to end using 3 forwards instead of two.

The Ball:
Depends on conditions and blowers but: If the surface is wet, a baseball size wiffle ball is the best choice.

For dry conditions and an end to end game, the wiffle ball will work but will also scoot everywhere on you, so either a 6 inch or 8 inch diameter nerf ball will give more control. You can experiment with your own size and material of ball.

Blowers:
Backpack or hand held, but backpack gives you more power. The latest high-tech backpack blower, the Echo PB460LN, which is ultra-quiet at only 65 decibels wide open, with “patented sound attenuation technology” and has a high-efficiency, low emission engine. You can experiment with blower tube length, they come in sections. Some players like longer tubes; others feel there is more overall power with the bottom section removed.

Periods:
3 10 minute periods, switching ends each time, with a 5 minute break in between. Backpack players will welcome the break.

Da Rules:

  • 5 players to a team.
  • Line-up: Side to side rink play: 2 forwards, one defense, and 2 subs, with changes made anytime on the fly. End to end: 3 forwards.
  • No goalie, that’s everybody’s job.
  • No running, fast walking only.
  • No foot passing: Feet can be used only to stop the ball and set up for the blower.
  • Leave space around each player. No contact.
  • Blower must be held below waist height.
  • Leaf blower tube cannot be used as a stick.
  • No blowers in the face.
  • Players cannot enter the goalie crease.
  • Face-offs are “lacrosse style” on one knee.
  • Penalties are one minute in length.
  • Three 10-minute periods per game, switching ends each time.
  • In case of a tie, 2 minute, “sudden death” periods until winner.

Official Safety Rules

  • Running shoes must be worn.
  • Ear protection must be worn.
  • Eye protection must be worn.
  • Kneepads, elbow pads are optional.
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Leaf Blower Hockey

Leaf Blower Hockey

Leaf Blower Hockey: an outrage, or just outrageous?

Leaf Blower hockey isn’t a “real” sport, there is no league. Teams of drooling backpack blowing warriors will not be invading anyone’s neighbourhood. The inaugural game was played under the heading of “waggery,” just to see if a nutty idea would work—and to raise some money for ALS. Each player paid a $25 fee that was matched by the organizers. The official LBH season is short, one day in the Fall. Eight guys playing for half and hour or so use up 2 litres (one gallon approx.) of high octane, clean burning gas in low emission, quiet blowers. Leaf Blower hockey is a not for profit organization with all proceeds going to the ALS Society of Canada.

Clearing the air about Leaf Blowers:

Leaf Blower Hockey is silly and ridiculous, but it isn’t “the end of the world as we know it”, as some of its detractors say. (That happened with “America’s Next Top Model”.) Critics are simply not aware of the huge advances in leaf blower technology. Today’s models for example, have reduced hydrocarbon emissions by 90% vs. a few years ago. In fact, compared to automobiles, a week’s worth of driving vs. a week of leaf blower use is 30 times worse for the environment, and when it comes to greenhouse gasses, it’s 230 times worse. Noise levels are also now quieter than a city bus.…

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Shinny Fun

Shinny Fun

Over the past few weeks I have been heading out to a vacant piece of land where a beautiful ice rink has developed.  It would likely measure 75’ by 25’, it’s not the most symetrical pad out there but for my skill level (half ass skilled guy that can’t stop on skates) it is perfect.

Last night was our most competitive game to date and was definitely the most fun.  Playing just 2 on 2 with some home made 5’ W x 1’ H nets we laced them up and tried our best to not kill each other or ourselves.

The lineup read like a Toronto Maple Leafs tryout roster sheet.

You have your Dominik Hasek (Darrin AKA Dink) – Dude played net growing up but after hanging up his skates he prefers to cruise through the neutral zone dangling a puck around the other team hoping that he can make someone sprawl on the ice like he once did in his prime.  His skating and stick handling skills are far superior then anyone else’s, yet his passes to me (his teammate) consistently went through my legs.  The next morning he will have just 2 smokes rather than 3, but other wise be fine.

Next up, you Steve ‘Stumpy’ Thomas (Ken AKA my boss) – Having not worn skates in over 15 years he decides that he was going to give it all he’s got and whatever happened, happened.  He seems strong on his feet until he trips over our homemade nets and takes a few to get to his feet.  He is confident when stick handling knowing that his money move (deke to the forehand) works every time because the defender (me) doesn’t see it coming…ever.  The next morning he is eating Motrin like Skittles but saying he would do it again in a second.…

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Thunder Willing

Thunder Willing

Would the Thunder forget about the two losses they suffered at the hands of the Aeros in the pre-season in front of the home town crowd?

The early going set the tone for the game on this night, with brisk end-to-end action and some solid contact kicking off the first period.  Amy Turek broke in alone on the Thunder’s Stacy Kellough 10 seconds into the contest, but Kellough turned her away.  The breakaway set an early trend that persevered throughout the first period; the Aeros applying sustained pressure on the Thunder, who suffered from a number of missed assignments in the neutral zone early on and some questionable back checking by their wingers, resulting in Beatrice carrying the play in the beginning.

Goaltender Stacy Kellough of the Thunder would hold her team in for the first part of the period, but after an ill-advised retaliatory slashing penalty taken by alternate captain Karen Nystrom; she couldn’t hold the fort on the ensuing Aeros power play.  At the 7:46 mark, Danielle Bilodeau crossed the blue line and took what looked to be an innocent shot from the high slot.  Kellough reached for it and got a piece, but the puck found its way out of her glove, over her and into the net.

Kellough continued to play off and on in the Brampton net, letting Aeros’ Annie Desrosiers, an off season pick-up from the Montreal Wingstar, slip a wrap-around between her pads with 4:41 remaining in the period.  How Desrosiers was allowed to walk out from behind the net untouched is another story, and not typical of the Thunder defense on this night, who provided good protection for their goaltender and a steady diet of in-your-face physical play for the Aeros’ forwards all night.

The period winds down with Nystrom again visiting the sin bin after having her helmet knocked off in a scrum, this time to begin a 10 minute misconduct with 41 seconds left, proving once again that you can only yap at the referees for so long before they call your bluff.  Yes, she wears the “A” on her sweater, meaning she can talk to the refs.  The result of these discussions really depends on what you say……

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Blackhawks

Blackhawks “Night o Fun”

Some key players from the Chicago Blackhawks hit to the streets on their recent trip to Vancouver and boy is there pictures to prove it.

Let’s have a close look at some of these beauties and see if we can really figure out what was going on.

Kris Versteeg here looks rather cautious of the entire goings on, while his George Michaels beard is screaming “I bought this shirt specifically so that I can look pimp, my mom bought me these glasses”. Blondie on the right clearly has something on her mind and I am thinking that it is Kris Jr.

John Madden, hey I remember you! You played with the Devils right, cool.  Ahh why are you drinking champagne from an itsy bitsy glass? On the plus side it makes your bicep look HUGE! BTW you look prouder than a damn peacock.

Kaner! I figure you thought a Limo would be a safer bet this time eh, good call I guess.  1) Your pants are undone. 2) The chick on the left looks like she may be the one that is usually taking the pictures. 3) Nice smile.

Cool a group shot! Oh I see Kane was just undoing his pants so he could take them off, that makes sense now.  Madden is doing the right thing by holding his beer (which by the way is hilarious that it is a Kokanee) while his lumber jack friend helps him with his. Kris seems to have lost his glasses, Mom is going to be pissed.

All in all looks like the boys had a great night of shirtless fun in the back of a limo in a road city.  I’m sure this happens all the damn time but the pictures really make it fun for the rest of us 🙂…

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Aeros Widen Margin

Aeros Widen Margin Despite McArthur

Brampton made it very plain coming into this game that they were going to set the tone physically and not be intimidated by the Aeros.  The second period stepped up this physical tone, led by their defense, specifically Krista McArthur, easily the best Thunder player on the ice this night.  Her play got stronger as the night wore on – a rock on defense, she logged more and more ice time the later it got, and in all crucial situations; she won more one-on-one battles than any player for either team.

McArthur even shined on the Thunder power play, making a great play in the last minute of the period to glove down a Beatrice dump out on the penalty kill at the Aeros blue line, then getting off a quick shot and crashing the net for her own rebound.

But it was not to be, McArthur or no McArthur, the Aeros pressure was unrelenting, and they found the back of the net again at the 10:40 mark of the second.  Aeros’ right wing Heather Logan managed a partial breakaway, and shoveled the puck on net as she was being hauled down from behind.  Kellough missed another make-able save, allowing the puck to slide underneath her for the marker.

Kellough continued to have problems down low as a goal-mouth scramble was blown down by the officials with about four minutes left in the frame, after they thought that she had frozen the puck.  It was loose and the Aeros promptly deposited puck in net for what would’ve been their fourth on the night.  The goal was disallowed – chalk it up to the refs not being able to see everything all the time.

Kellough really shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame for Brampton; the fact that the Thunder back checking was sporadic at best tells you that the Aeros forwards were in her face all night.  With that in mind, and the fact that Brampton had limited success with their breakout at times, especially in the first period and it’s fair to say that the goals resulted from team breakdowns.  However, all three goals were saves that could’ve been made.…

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