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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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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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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NWHL’s Olympic Celebration

NWHL’s Olympic Celebration

The NWHL is proud to supply the majority of Canada’s National Olympic team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Of the 21 players selected for the Winter Olympics 12 are playing or have played in the NWHL. Two of the three goaltenders are from the NWHL, specifically Sami-Jo Small of the Brampton Thunder and Charline Labonte of the Montreal Wingstar. Sami-Jo is the 1st and only goaltender to ever score a goal in the NWHL as she scored against the Ste.-Julie Pantheres 2 seasons ago. On Defense 4 out of the 6 defensemen are from NWHL teams.

Most notably, the Beatrice Aeros are contributing 3 of those 4 defensemen; Becky Kellar, Cheryl Pounder and last seasons “Championship Cup” MVP Geraldine Heaney. The fourth defenseman on the list is the legendary Therese Brisson of the Mississauga Ice Bears, Therese has represented Canada 95 times in her fabulous career. To round out the team we have 6 of the 12 forwards representing Canada. The Brampton Thunder are contributing 1/2 of the NWHL forward unit with NWHL stars Vicki Sunohara, Lori Dupuis and Jayna Hefford leading the way. Nancy Drolet of the Vancouver Griffins, Caroline Ouellette of the Montreal Wingstar and former Beatrice Aero Cassie Campbell fill out the forward unit. The NWHL is looking forward to assisting Canada to their 1st Olympic gold medal after winning Silver in ’98.

With the NWHL being the Elite level of Women’s hockey in North America, the NWHL is a breeding ground for the Olympic movement as little girls are joining hockey teams and coming out to see their heroes in the NWHL. At this point we have 12 of the 21 players from our league, but after the Olympics are over who knows how many more we will have next season.

Special congratulations should go to Cherie Piper, Gillian Apps, Amanda Benoit-Wark and Nathalie Rivard who represented themselves and the league proud on being in the running for the Olympic team right up until the end. We are extremely proud of you. On the International side of things, 3 NWHL players were still listed as being on their National teams; Maren Valenti formerly of Ste.-Julie and Tina Evers of TELUS were still listed on the German team and Sue Merz formerly of the Brampton Thunder was still on Team U.S.A., congratulations to those players as well. It has also been announced that NWHL officials; Julie Bissonette, Jacqui Palm and Sue Cassidy have been chosen as Officials for the Olympic Games as well. Congratulations on being chosen and showing the World that the NWHL have World Class Officiating as well.…

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Ducks Cup 2006 - 2007

Ducks Cup 2006-2007

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks are going to the Stanley Cup finals against the Ottawa Senators after beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in Game 6 of the NHL Western Conference finals. The finals start Monday in Anaheim.

The Ducks relaxed their “10-minute rule” that allows them to enjoy a win for just that brief span before concentrating on what’s up next. “It’s not something that happens every year,” goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said Tuesday night after the Ducks won.

“So we need to enjoy it until the end of the night tonight and then we need to move on, focus on Ottawa.”Said the Ducks’ Teemu Selanne: “Yes, I think we’ll take a little more time to enjoy this, but then we know we’ll really have to get back to work. The games will get harder now.”

The Ducks, who lost Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals to New Jersey, take on the surprising Senators in the NHL championship round beginning Monday in Anaheim.

“I’ve been there (to the finals) once and we weren’t able to win it all,” said Giguere, the MVP of those 2003 playoffs. “So these occasions don’t come every year. You have to try to take advantage of it.”

Giguere, one of only four players from that team who are still with Anaheim, played a big role in getting the Ducks to their second Stanley Cup finals since they came into the league in 1993.

He shut out Detroit for the first two periods as Anaheim built a 3-0 lead, then withstood a three-goal outburst by the Red Wings in the closing period of Game 6.

Samuel Pahlsson’s goal with 14:06 remaining proved to be the difference for the Ducks. Rob Niedermayer, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf also scored against Dominik Hasek as the Ducks took the conference crown 4-2. Giguere, who finished with 26 saves, insisted he wasn’t responsible for the victory.

“We have almost 25 guys on our lineup, so you need all these guys to win,” he said. “And it’s always the better group that’s going to get out of it, not the better goalie, and I truly believe in that.”

The 42-year-old Hasek, who had 25 saves, wasn’t so sure about that.

A six-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie during the regular season, Hasek gave Giguere more credit than the Anaheim goalie gave himself.

“He played great. I hate to say he played better than me, but maybe he did,” Hasek said. “He stole Game 5, and that was the key to the series. “You have to be a little bit lucky, and he was. He won the series for that team.”

Hasek said wants to return next season, “But I want to talk to my wife and to the family and make a final decision in the next two or three weeks as to what is the best thing for my future and my family’s future.

“I don’t want to make that decision right after the last game of the season. All I can say is that I love this game and I have a passion for this game.”

Giguere had made 36 saves in each of the previous two games. He kept the Ducks in Game 5 until Scott Niedermayer tied it with 48 seconds left and Teemu Selanne scored the game-winner in the 2-1 overtime victory.

The Red Wings outshot the Ducks 16-3 in the third period this time and got one goal from Henrik Zetterberg and two — both on power plays — from Pavel Datsyuk, the last with 3:04 remaining.

They took the attitude that this was desperation and they started to control the puck,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “Our counteraction was that we didn’t skate. We stood still, and we just kept feeding them the puck.

“It’s kind of like a paralysis that takes over your team.”…

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