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Friday, April 24, 2009

Posts are actually being made, but elsewhere...

Whoops, my bad. I need to remember to cross file my blogs. The best way to follow me and the rest of the writing team is here: http://www.chitowndailynews.org/section/chicago_hockey_blog/feed

Move over STHs

Starting a few months ago I began to hear about Wolves Season Ticket Holders being asked to move. Some of these season ticket holders had an empty seat next to them, a single seat, and it was difficult for the team to sell that seat.

I began to hear the story more and more as the season ended. Apparently there is a move in the Wolves management to get these seats and make them available. But there was a nagging feeling in my head. When you keep hearing the same story, time after time, you think maybe it's an urban myth.

Apparently it isn't. After posting a query on Wolfkeeper several season ticket holders confirmed versions of the story. They said basically, it happened to me. That's a lot better than saying "it happened to my friend."

Now that I know it is true, I think management of the team has to be aware of this. Why isn't it making an offer to the upset season ticket holders. The team has a lot of soft services it can offer people, such as a visit from the team mascot.

The issue is further clouded as something happened between this management team and the Wolfpack , the team fan club. No one is discussing it. Obviously people who know something are very upset.

Looking into the future, at the issue of relations between fans and the team, I note that there are still people who insist on saying this team is a class operation. I've always felt, hey, they are a service company in BUSINESS for profit. The Wolves have done a good job with their service, but it is still a service business.

Thinking of all this, there appear to be cracks in the goodwill, built since the team was founded. With more and more control flowing to customers, management better pay attention.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Trier Men/ Women take Blackhawk Cup

New Trier High School of Northfield, Ill., won the 2009 Blackhawk Cup tournament in both the Men's and the Women's division in play tonight at the United Center. Playing against New Trier in both games was Loyola Academy of Wilmette, Ill.

The New Trier women, led by by Goalie Elizabeth Hitchcock, shut down the Rambler offense, stopping 19 shots on goal, ending with a 4-0 score. Rambler attacks failed against Hitchcock as she snagged pucks and deftly redirected them to a visibly better Trevian defense.

Rambler Goalie Kathryn O'Grady was left hanging in her pipes as the better organized Trevian offense swept aside the Rambler blue liners. In a season that saw only 36 goals scored, the only other tournament or conference losses of the Ramblers was to the Trevians. In two of the three games played between the two clubs, the Ramblers went down, most recently on December 26.

It's difficult to accept that even today, women play a role of looking in from the outside for sports. However the non-school Trevian team saw it, with the crowd showing up late to cheer for the men's team and the Women's stats not fully functional on-line. Mackenzie Martin, who had two points, was chosen as the game MVP, although my personal favorite was the play of Caroline Campbell. Campbell had a goal in the game, but played with great heart.

Stephanie Dubin scored two goals, one a power play goal at the end of the second period. And, Hannah Merens scored a goal for the Trevians. Two assists were scored by Claire Santostefano with another assist notched by Erin Cook. The Trevians were one for four on the power play.

The Loyola Ramblers went zero for two on the power play. Ogrady stopped 20 shots on goal for the loss.

The men's final game was an exciting and more physical game which saw the two teams battle across the ice surface. A first frame Rambler power play goal by Sean Cleary started the scoring. It was answered 7:26 later in the frame with a pair of power play Trevian goals, just 46 seconds apart. The Ramblers threatened the lead, but it was the Trevians, who hung on in the physical action, to put another point up at 10:34. Fabrice Chavannes, the Rambler goalie protested the goal noting that he wasn't able to move freely, being interfered after his rebound save when he was crashed in the net by a New Trier player.

With about two minutes remaining in the game and the score 3-1, the Trevians began congratulating themselves and a hot dog style of play emerged on the ice, with players “taking turns” with runs on the Rambler goal. The Ramblers were able to seize the over-confidence of the New Trier team, as there was a loss of discipline resulting in a penalty against New Trier. With a final power play 6:4 advantage the Ramblers scored the final goal with 1:20 remaining in the game. With an empty net behind them, the Ramblers continued to attack the Trevians. A no-touch icing put the puck back in play on the Trevians' side after the Trevians cleared it at one point in the final two minutes, for the Trevians it was a long two minutes of play to win 3-2.

Chavannnes stopped 17 shots on goal for the loss. New Trier goalie Gregory Ogard stopped 26 shots on goal for the win. New Trier went two for three on the power play, while the Ramblers went two for four. Alex Wetzel and Al Santostefano had two assists each for the Trevians. The other Rambler goal was by Jack Pegler. Rambler assists were credited to Francis Altman and Daniel Keefe.

New Trier goals were credited to Max Talbot, Michael Vail and Alexander Truglio. The other assist was credited to Nicholas Mcmanus.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tibbetts update

Billy Tibbetts is the most popular single item on this blog. I wrote more extensively about him during his time as a Chicago Wolves and also a Rockford IceHogs player, but have taken a break.

Even though there hasn't been a post about him in months, searches on Google continue to point to this blog.

An anonymous poster noted that he had moved on from Brendan Tedstone's team, the Danbury Mad Hatter's (Eastern Professional Hockey League, class A) to the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League, class AA, low).

Thank you anonymous one for alerting me to this. I want to call attention to his move to people who would otherwise need to search for your comment. The wonders of the internet and the self-correcting nature of blogs. You gotta love it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wolves split weekend games

The Chicago Wolves split their games this weekend, with a road win Saturday at the Carver Center in Peoria and a road loss at the Toyota Center in Houston.

In the win over the Peoria Rivermen, Spencer Machacek had a three point night, including a power play goal, with eight shots on goal. Chicago stopped a Riverman 5:3 advantage for a minute in the second frame and led in shots on goal in each period of play to win the game 4-1. The win went to Robert Gherson with 20 saves, Manny Legace received the loss with 31 saves.

On Sunday afternoon, in Houston, Machacek had a two goal night and Mike Hamilton had five shots on goal. But Houston dominated the first tow periods of play, racking a 3-1 goal advantage. Going into the final period of play, the Wolves scored once on 16 shots on goal. But the Aeros, with just five shots on goal, scored again, to stay ahead.

Corey Locke of the Aeros was credited with a goal and an assist in the game. Kurtis Foster was credited with two points. Ondrej Pavelec received the loss with 29 saves. Barry Brust received the win with 30 saves.

It was a split decision weekend for the Rockford IceHogs also. They played both games at home.

In a Saturday night game at the MetroCentre, the Rochester Americans gave the Hogs a 4-3 win. The Amerks and the IceHogs are both near the bottom of the league with regard to their net special teams goals, from the table I'm presenting at the Chitowndailynews site (Blogger doesn't like tables):

Rockford gave the Amerks two 5:3 opportunities in this game, and the Amerks were unable to score on either. The Amerks dominated in shots on goal until the third period of play, but it was the Hogs who found the back of the net. Mike Brodeur started in net for the Americans, he was drilled out of the net at 1:38 in the second period on the third unanswered goal by the IceHogs. His nine saves were marked for the loss. Tyler Plante took over from there for the Rochester team, with 17 saves. The win went to Corey Crawford with 33 saves.

It seems odd to me that a team floundering in the offense would blame their loss on a goalie, as the Amerks implicitly did on Saturday when they replaced Brodeur. Clearly there is more going wrong, from shots on goal (defense) to a terrible offense. That's all clear in the table above. A goalie isn't going to stand a chance if no one is standing out front with him, throwing their body in front of shots.

Danny Groulx was credited with two points on the night. Pascal Pelletier had six shots on goal, but no points and Jack Skille had five shots on goal but no points.

In the Monday matinée game, the San Antonio Rampage took the IceHogs 4-3 in a hard fought battle. Two fights between bruisers Sean McMorrow and Francis Lessard marked the game. San Antonio took a 3-0 lead in the first frame with two goals by Kyle Turris and a goal by Dylan Reese.

The Hogs came back with a goal by Groulx. But it was answered by Kevin Porter in the early third frame. Rockford pressured the Rampage, putting 13 shots on net in the final 20 minutes, and scoring two goals in the process. But the Rampage were able to hold the Hogs scoreless for the final eleven minutes to win. Crawford was credited with 20 saves in the loss. Josh Tordjman, the game winner, was credited with 27 saves.

Skille racked up seven shots on goal, but came away pointless again. Tim Brent had a three point night with two goals and an assist. Petri Kontiola had two points. Turris had three points for the night, adding an assist to his first period blowout. Porter and Reese had two point nights with a goal and an assist each. David Spina also had a two points for the night.

There were a few other notes from around the league this weekend. Houston went 4/4 on the power play in a game against the Iowa Chops Saturday at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Matt Beaudoin had a hat trick in the game, with four shots on goal.

But even more spectacular was the weekend of Tim Kennedy. He was named the player of the week for his performance. On Saturday, in a wild game between the Providence Bruins and the Portland Pirates, the Baby Bruins accumulated a 4-2 lead at the end of the second period in a game at the Portland County Civic Center of Portland, Maine. The Pirates tied it up with three goals in the period, the last goal with just 1:10 to go. At that point Kennedy, on the Pirates side, had a point in each of the third period goals, a total of four points in the game based on seven shots on goal. AND, on the Baby Bruin side Mikko Lehtonen also had a four point night that included a hat trick with six shots on goal.

Portland was able to go 3/7 on the power play, that and Kennedy brought them back into the game. During the over time, Brad Marchand was called for boarding. The notes for the game say it was a two minute penalty, but most of these penalties are actually a minute in O/T. Portland was unable to use the resulting 4:3 to gain a goal. For Portland 39 shots on goal, for Providence, 35 shots on goal and a tied game after OT of 5-5.

So, the shootout; Portland shoots first and after the first set of skaters, no goals yet. Kennedy gets up and fails to score. But Lehtonen, after his hat trick, does score. After another score by Mark Mancari for the Pirates and Wacey Rabbit for the Bruins, it is a P-Bruins win.

On Sunday, the Pirates traveled to the Paul E Tsongas Arena to battle the Lowell Devils. It turns into another high scoring battle between the two teams. Portland enters the third frame with a 4-3 lead. Lowell has remained in the game on the strength of two power play goals. Although the Pirates had a series of power plays for the first ten minutes or so of the second period, they only came away with a single power play goal.

Lowell tied the game with a power play goal at 12:47 of the third period. Kennedy comes back with the Pirates to get a hat trick and put Portland back into the lead 1:06 later. But Lowell doesn't give up. They pull the goalie and Portland scores again on the empty net with a minute left. Now the lead is 6-4, Portland. Lowell still doesn't give up, scoring twice in the final minute of play to tie the game.

In total Lowell went 4/6 on the power play. Including the OT period, Jeff Frazee stopped 35 shots on goal for the Devils, John DeCaro stopped 44 for the Pirates. OT is scoreless but is dominated by the Pirates. Once again Kennedy isn't able to add to his stats a shootout goal, but the Pirates did win.

In total, among these two games, Kennedy had seven points and 15 shots on goal. In the second game with Lowell, not including Kennedy, there were five players credited with a three point night. Woah Baby!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Niemi to Blackhawks; Rivermen defeat Hogs 3-1

In Rockford, the Peoria Rivermen pulled out a 3-1 win over the Rockford IceHogs. With goalie Antti Niemi called up to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Hogs had Joe Fallon backing Corey Crawford in the pipes. Fallon, up from the Gwinnett Gladiators, has a 91 percent save percentage after ten games with the Glads.

Niemi, like Crawford when he was called up this season, isn't expected to see a lot of ice time with the Blackhawks. I'm a bit surprised that Niemi was called up, as watching the games, I see Crawford as having a better shot at the National Hockey League. However, I have no better insight than what I've previously shared about Niemi and Crawford.

Having said that, the loss at the MetroCentre demonstrates how top teams sometimes have trouble with lower ranked teams in their division. The same is generally true of the Hogs when they play the MAds or the Wolves when they play the MAds. The Rivermen cause more trouble for the IceHogs than you'd generally expect. In this game they took a lead in the first frame and held on. Early in the second period the Rivermen's Cam Paddock even gave the Hogs a double minor power play opportunity for attempted spearing (bad!). Even though the Hogs out shot the Rivermen 18-9 in the final period of play, it was the Peoria team that took the win, withstanding the Hogs attack.

Tim Brent put seven shots on net for the Hogs, scoring the only goal of the team. Crawford stopped 28 shots on goal for the loss, Manny Legace was in net for the Rivermen, stopping 33 shots on goal. Trent Whitfield had a three point night, Steve Regier had a two point night. Regier notched five shots on goal.

Wolves win in Milwaukee shoot out

The Chicago Wolves won a shootout in the Bradley Center Friday. It was only the seventh win this season for a visiting squad at the Bradley Center, out of 25 games so far. The Wolves win was also the third shoot out win for the visitors at the Bradley Center. There have been only five shoot outs at the BC this season.

The rare visitor win, the second win of the three Wolves visits so far this season, was the culmination of two goalies holding the two teams scoreless for fifty minutes. A third period Milwaukee Admiral goal by Andreas Thuresson at 10:05 broke the scoreless game open. It was followed by goals by Spencer Machacek and Jeff Hamilton of the Wolves. With three minutes and ten seconds remaining, the Wolves were looking toward a regulation win, if they could hold on. However, a hooking call on Machacek with two minutes and six seconds remaining gave Milwaukee the advantage.

On the power play and with only 53 seconds on the clock Jed Ortmeyer was able to find the way past Ondrej Pavelec to tie the game. In the overtime, the goalies again held the two teams scoreless. Pavelec's win included stopping 23 shots on goal, while MacIntyre was credited with 29 saves. Mac's performance is even more remarkable given he was able to fend off the only 5:3 power play of the game early in the third period. Cody Franson of the MAds was credited with two points. Thuresson was credited with five shots on goal.

Going past regulation evens the field for any team that visits Milwaukee. It might be that the MAds run out of gas after 60 minutes. But whatever the case, home and away, the team doesn't do as well once you get past the hour mark.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Krazy Karl returns to the Allstate; Wolves lose 4-3

When the last place team comes to town, you sort of expect nothing much to happen. So, maybe we can excuse the Chicago Wolves fans if they skipped the 4-3 loss to the last place Rochester Americans tonight at the Allstate Arena. The Amerks are beyond dreadful. They just suck. Probably less than 2,000 people showed up to see them play.

But, this was a great game to watch. The Amerks are a hard hitting team that likes to finish their checks. This was a concussive experience of a game, with great checks into the boards and on the open ice too.

Tyler Plante opened the game in the pipes for the Americans. He was joined by a Blackhawk/ Wolves alum, Karl Stewart. The Stewart I remember from the lockout year was a guy who loved to cause trouble. There was this one time I recall the whistle was blown, the guys were headed up ice and Stewart skates behind the opposition goal, grabs the opposing goalies' water bottle and takes a long chug. You, know, long enough to make sure the other guys notice what you just did?

He was that type of guy. And his short handed goal attempts were always memorable. The man had wheels.

So, it was nice to see him on the ice tonight. He started the game by showing his fans in Chicago that he still finishes his checks. It was that spirit that led him to play for a short few games for the Blackhawks. Can we get a picture of the girl in the stands asking him to marry her?

Ding, ding and ding. It was also a night when the puck was dinging the Amerks. I mean they may need to replace those pipes there are so many dings and dents in it. Plante didn't do so well in the first period. With five shots on goal, the Wolves scored twice. So, in the second period, the Amerks used Mike Brodeur.

Regular readers and the few that read from Rockford, will recognize Brodeur's name, he was a member of the 2007-8 IceHogs and a prospect for the Blackhawks. His glow was amazing. Now personally, I would have taken one of the stars of the game from Jeff Hamilton of the Wolves and given it to Jamie Rivers of the Wolves for the defense in the second period of play. But there is no doubt that Brodeur had that glow that you sometimes see in a goalie's eyes when they are in the zone and they know it too.

Number one star of the game and deserving of it.

There were 17 shots on goal, more than half the total for the Wolves in the entire game, during the third frame. This guy was a wall. Glove saves, kick saves, stick saves, pad saves, knocking it from the air. My god, his arms and legs were everywhere and it seemed that his chest stopped so many pucks that it has to be black and blue.

At one point in the second period, there was a defensive turnover by the Amerks. It occurred almost in the crease. It was just a screwup caused by pressure. Riley Holzapfel was right there, he had the puck and he shot and hammered and nothing. Brodeur stopped him. It was a point blank moment of first we have control and then Holzapfel is beating on Brodeur's pads with the puck. That stuff happened all night to Brodeur. His win, stopping 24 shots and letting one in, was remarkable.

Now, I said take the star from Jeff Hamilton. But, he had a great night too. Three points, including two goals. The Amerks' Janis Sprurkts had two goals, while the Amerks' Michal Repik and the Wolves Brett Skinner had two points each.

Finally, the loss went to Ondrej Pavelec. He stopped 19 shots. I'm beginning to suspect that riding Pavelec like a horse is poor coaching. This guy needs a lot of rest, and is still not back from his injury earlier in the season.

This is the first time I've really noted poor on-ice officiating. Zac Wiebe missed some calls, and yes, at least one was on the Wolves. His misses led to a fight between Joey Crabb and Michael Duco, Duco having to tell Crabb to knock off the BS with the goalie. It should have been Wiebe doing that work instead of the 194 pound Duco. Despite what should have been a call on the Wolves, it was a missed call earlier that probably cost the Wolves an additional power play. Well, first game in about 20? This is much better than previous years in my opinion.

I've been beating on the Amerks as a bad team. Earlier this week I published a stat that they lose about half a goal a game, net, to the power play. And, tonight, there it was, an unanswered power play goal. Around the blog, Jane is an Amerks fan and so is much of her family. You can imagine the back and forth that occurs. But, looking at them play tonight, I wonder what is the real issue with the team? I guess they don't play as a team, have poor defense and don't score. That would do it. But, when they do things right, as they did tonight at the Allstate, that's a good team out there.

It was a nail-biter of a win for the Rockford IceHogs in Peoria tonight. The stats show Antti Niemi shut down the Rivermen with 21 saves. Manny Legace, good, but not enough with 21 saves too, received the loss.

We're at a point in the year when everyone is warmed up. This game looks like it was a great example of defensive play, of hot goalies and everyone having to go down to the last ounce of strength to win. The final, 1-0 for Rockford at the Carver Arena.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Aeros double up on Wolves 6-3

The Houston Aeros doubled up on the Wolves, 6-3, at the Allstate Arena tonight. Backed by former Wolves Jesse Schultz and Kurtis Foster, the Aeros pounded the Wolves and took advantage of their brilliant penalty kill to dominate the game.

Wolves Wing Jeff Hamilton put eight shots on goal and was credited with a goal and an assist in the game. Brett Skinner was credited with two assists. But side to side movement of the puck totally defeated the Wolves defense. Ondrej Pavelec's speed in the side to side saves is not enough, as the Aeros took advantage of whatever is effecting the Atlanta prospect, to put it past him. He had just 20 saves on the night.

The winning goalie, Nolan Schaefer stopped several short handed breakaways and two 5:3 power plays by the Wolves, handily winning the game with 23 saves.

Foster, on a rehabilitation assignment to the Aeros after a well-publicized crash into the boards in March 2008, played a conservative game on the ice Sunday. It was his first appearance of the year. He was key to one of the Houston goals, but was not among those credited with an assist. His presence on the ice was felt, Wolves players gave him a lot of space and he controlled the puck effectively.

The game was officiated by four on-ice officials, an unusual situation in the American Hockey League.

In Milwaukee, Cal O'Reilly of the Milwaukee Admirals scored a hat trick, one of his goals interrupted by a goal by the other team. The MAds won the game 5-4 behind the four point O'Reilly effort and a two goal effort by Hugh Jessiman.

Wolves take down MAds 2-1; Hogs need better special teams, lose 4-1

The Chicago Wolves defeated the division leading Milwaukee Admirals 2-1 Saturday night at the Allstate Arena. In a low-scoring game marked by tripping, hooking, holding and slashing penalties, there was plenty of action in the sin bin and power plays on the ice. But the only goal outside of equal strength was a short handed goal, by Matt Anderson, to start the scoring at 12:56 of the first period.

Anderson, who received two points in the night, was also involved in the second and final Wolves goal, in the second period at 12:04. The MAds answered that, staying within one goal, just 19 seconds later.

Eleven power play opportunities were wasted by the two teams as it became a defensive battle won by Ondrej Pavelec, stopping 23 shots on goal, compared to Drew MacIntyre, who lost, stopping 27 shots on goal.

At the Wells Fargo Arena, the Iowa Chops chewed up the Rockford IceHogs 4-1. The power play continues to haunt the Hogs, who now rank 22nd in the American Hockey League. The team is making just 15.6 percent of power plays. It's penalty kill is 28th in the league, at 79.3 percent. Corey Crawford was the one left to defend the net, stopping 24 shots on goal. He also defended unsuccessfully against a 5:3 power play late in the second period.

The Chops, ninth in the league on the power play, took two power plays goals out of six opportunities during a decisive second period. The Hogs are giving up more than 4.8 power play opportunities per game currently. Or, on average, they are giving up .79 goals due to lack of discipline each game. That's a broad statement of the problem. It would be impossible to totally rid a team of penalties. Still, here is a look at the league stats for this issue. After we net out the gains from power play goals, the Hogs are near the bottom of the league. They are losing .25 goals on average per game due to the combination of failed power plays, failed penalty kills and time in the box.

They need to turn this around to be competitive in the post-season.

(The table is reprinted here: http://www.chitowndailynews.org/chicago_hockey_blog/Wolves_go_down_63_Hogs_downed_41,22288)