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Friday, February 29, 2008

Cuneyworth wins 300th-- not quite

There are some stories that you prepare ahead of time. The story of Randy Cunneyworth earning his 300th win behind the bench is one such story. The last victory by the Rochester Americans was a 2-1 victory over the Albany River Rats. Since then the Amerks have been shut out in two games. The next attempt to win that elusive 300th game comes on Saturday night against the Syracuse Crunch. Maybe then I can finally run the story. Good luck Randy.

Jaffray hat trick, Moose 4, Bears 2

Jason Jaffray scored a hat trick in a 4-2 victory of the Manitoba Moose over the Hershey Bears at the MTS Centre Thursday. The victory lifted the Moose to 68 points, one more than the Calder Cup defenders Hamilton Bulldogs, who have two games in hand over the Moose. Also, the win puts the Moose seven points up on the fourth place North Division Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch did not play Thursday. They are trying to hold onto the fourth playoff spot in the North Division over four teams in the West Division that can take the spot if they have more points at the end of the season.

Cyclones run to 16; 5-0 win in Stockton

The Cincinnati Cyclones were featured in earlier posts several seasons ago when the team took advantage of the confusion around a failed introduction of the American Hockey League into Cincinnati. The team is on a run of 16-0 and has already captured the playoff spot in their division. The longest regular season run in the ECHL prior to this run was 14 games, which occurred twice, first with the Knoxville Cherokees from December 28, 1993 to January 29, 1994 and again from November 23 to December 22, 2001 by the Louisiana IceGators.

The longest winning streak in the American Hockey League is owned by the Philadelphia Phantoms. A 17 game streak that lasted from October 22, 2004 to November 27, 2004. The NHL has a similar 17 game streak held by the Pittsburgh Penguins from March 9 to April 10, 1993.

Mathieu Aubin scored a hat trick in the 5-0 victory. Olivier Latendresse scored four points in the contest. The shut out was credited to Maxime Daigneault.

Cincinnati can match the professional records above with a victory over the Fresno Falcons in a game at the Save Mart Center.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bradley Center to be renamed?

The naming rights for the Bradley Center are for sale, according to a report by Don Walker for the Journal Sentinel. "The Bradley Center, first opened in October 1988, was a $90 million gift from Jane Bradley Pettit in honor of her father, Harry Lynde Bradley," the report says. The ice rink that the Milwaukee Admirals play on is called the Jane Bradley Pettit Memorial Ice Rink.

The story quotes a member of the Bradley Center Board as estimating building a new facility would cost $350 million. The building is also home to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Marquette University Golden Eagles. Naming rights could generate $2 million annually.

Justin Fletcher to IceHogs

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Justin Fletcher, a blueliner, has been assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in a minor league trade between the Hawks and the Tampa Bay Lighting in which David Koci was assigned to the Norfolk Admirals from the Rockford IceHogs.

Fletcher comes to Rockford after playing in 39 games with Norfolk this season. The Maryville, Ill. native has a goal and four assists on the season.

Koci has scored only one point in 86 games in the American Hockey League and the NHL according to the Internet hockey data base.

In addition, Kris Versteeg and Niklas Hjalmarsson were called up to the Blackhawks from the IceHogs.

Fretter traded by Wolves to Bridgeport

American Hockey League teams rarely make trades. However, the Chicago Wolves have traded Colton Fretter to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for future considerations. The team says Fretter, a center, played in eight games this season, scoring four points.

Esposito scores 3 points

Angelo Esposito, in his first game as an Atlanta Thrashers prospect, scored three points in a drubbing of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, 9-2, by the Quebec Remperts. Esposito was part of a five player trade that saw Marrian Hossa go to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

According to the Canadian Press report, Esposito scored a goal and two assists in the QMJHL game Wednesday.

Wolves v Rampage; Hogs v MAds

The Houston Aeros, in fourth place in the West Division of the American Hockey League, are in a tight race with four teams fighting for the last two play-off spots, one in the West and one in the North Division.

They were helped by Wednesday’s win by the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins over the fourth place North Division team, the Syracuse Crunch. And, they were helped by their own efforts too, a win Wednesday night, 1-0 over the North Division Lake Erie Monsters of Cleveland.

Although I’d earlier forecast that Syracuse was out of the hunt for the post season, due to it being so far behind the four West Division teams fighting for fourth and fifth place, there is another possibility for the team, it could catch the third place Manitoba Moose or even the second place Hamilton Bulldogs. The Bulldogs, the Calder Cup winner last season, have 67 points in 58 games. The Moose have chalked up 66 points in 59 games and the fourth place Crunch have 61 points in 60 games.

So it is tight for the Crunch. They are in a hard spot. But it will be easier to beat two teams than to go on a run that beats four.

The Milwaukee Admirals, in fifth place in the West, beat the Rockford IceHogs 4-3. The IceHogs have been on a ride to nowhere lately, with only four points in ten games. Milwaukee, on the other hand has 13 points in ten games. The MAds are one of four teams in the West Division in a race for the two playoff spots, one in the West and one in the North, that seem up for grabs. The MAds are trailing the San Antonio Rampage in the standings by five points with the SAR having five games in hand.

The MAds have always been a hard-hitting team. But, I think they’ve met their match with the IceHogs, a physical team that is finishing its checks this year. The violence in hockey is usually confined to the ice surface and usually to the game. When it explodes outside of those limits, you have a problem defined outside the code. It would be fair to call it a personal problem.

The Hogs and the MAds had such a fight on Wednesday. Troy Brouwer, Colin Fraser, Kelsey Wilson and Alex Henry received a variety of penalties after the match. The two teams meet again on Saturday, March 8th at the Bradley Center. There should be fireworks.

I’m not a person to scream “fight, fight, fight” at games. But the Hogs need a boost. They need to regain their spirit. And a good scrum might help.

The Rampage hosted the Chicago Wolves for the first time this season. The Wolves, the number two team in the league, treated their hosts poorly, going ahead 5-0 at the end of the second period. But after putting 18 shots on the San Antonio goal in the first period, the Wolves seemed to relax: just 10 shots on goal for the remainder of the game.

San Antonio, on the other hand, put 40 shots on Ondrej Pavelec in the second and third frames. One of the things to look at in a team is the shots on goal. I remember games during the lockout when Kari Lehtonen was in net. The Wolves would typically give up 40, 50 and once I remember 60 shots on goal.

That’s poor defense. Have you ever heard people say it is hard to measure defense? There is a great measure of a team’s defense. I’ll put it this way: 40 shots on goal in two periods is equivalent to 60 shots on goal for 60 minutes. It is poor defense.

Visitors would complain that Kari’s numbers were inflated by off-ice officials in Chicago who favored him having a high save percentage. “They’ll give him a SOG for looking at a puck in the corner,” they said. Another way to look at it is that Lehtonen had a poor defense in front of him.

Forty shots on goal in two periods? Terrible defense. The Wolves are holding on by the grace of Pavelec. The Wolves are a good team and should be using this period leading up to the playoffs, not to rest, but to totally discourage every other team in this league. The defense needs to shut down the opposing offense. It can do it, the penalty kill numbers demonstrate it. Not only the penalty kill numbers, but in the one period the Wolves didn’t phone it in, SAR only had four shots on goal.

There’s another example of defense. Except this time it was clicking. Four shots on goal in 20 minutes of play.

These two teams meet again on Friday. Expect some fireworks. Whether true or not, a person purporting to be a former Wolves player went on a message board after the game to issue a challenge to the Wolves.

IHL v AHL quality

When an American Hockey League team lands in town, there is often an argument about the quality of the product. That is especially true when the AHL replaces a team from say the United Hockey League, now the International Hockey League, or the ECHL.

Reed Schreck has a piece in the Rockford Register Star about one player and his journey back to Rockford, now in the uniform of the Milwaukee Admirals, Kevin Ulanski. And, he makes some points about the many AHL players who are called up to the NHL to play with the parent team. Ulanski talks to Schreck about his perceptions about the quality of play between the IHL and the AHL.

Schreck also answers a question that would have taken some research: who is on the Chicago Blackhawks that could move back to the Rockford IceHogs after Clear Day? The Blackhawks, he says, have five players, four can return to the IceHogs: Corey Crawford, Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker, Jordan Hendry and Dave Bolland.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More trades in West

Al Montoya, a 23 year-old native of Glenview, has been traded by the New York Rangers to the Phoenix Coyotes. He has been assigned to the San Antonio Rampage. Phoenix traded Montoya and Marcel Hossa for goalie David LeNeveu, Fredrik Sjostrom and Josh Gratton.

Montoya has played goal in 31 games for the Hartford Wolfpack this season. He has a 16-8-3 record, 90.8 save percentage and 2.54 GAA. LeNeveu appeared in 21 games this season for the Rampage. He posted a record of 9-7-3 with 91.1 save percentage and a GAA of 2.66.

In Peoria, Dave Eminian is predicting moves by the St. Louis Blues on trade day were “no help” to the Peoria Rivermen. Jeff Woywitka, a blueliner with 30 points, has skated in 52 Peoria games this year.

Other moves in Peoria, prior to trade day, St. Louis assigned Chris Beckford-Tseu and Marek Schwarz, both goalies, to the team. Derek Gustafson was released from a PTO. Schwarz has played 23 games this season with the Rivermen, posting a record of 9-10-2, with a save percentage of 89.1 and a GAA of 2.57. Beckford-Tseu has been in 28 games for the Rivermen, posting a record of 15-9-2. He has a 90 percent save rate and a GAA of 2.61.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Caps trade Motzko to Atlanta for Giroux

The Atlanta Thrashers called up three Chicago Wolves players, according to the American Hockey League transactions reports, Bryan Little, Colin Stuart and Joel Kwiatkowski. Blueland Blog reports they reported to Atlanta “in case they were needed. All three will play tonight… Little and Stuart fill the forward spots vacated by Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupois and Kwiatkowski steps in on defense… “ That seems to indicate the three will be returned to Chicago as the new players report to Atlanta.

Atlanta also traded Alexandre Giroux to the Washington Capitals for Joe Motzko.

Hossa and Dupois were traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first round draft pick. The only player who I see may come to the Wolves out of this is Esposito, who was himself a first round draft pick, 20th overall, in 2007. The 19 year old currently plays for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL.

Esposito has played in 48 games with the Remparts this season, so far. He has 26 goals and 29 points with 56 PiM. So, for the year he will probably score between 28 and 34 goals and between 33 and 40 assists. We could expect his points to be between 66 and 71 for a 60 game schedule, which is down from 79 last season and 98 points in 57 games two seasons ago.

Hockey’s Future had forecast he would join the Penguins next season and points out a groin injury he suffered.

Motzko, a 27-year-old right wing, is the leading scorer on the Hershey Bears. He has 21 goals, 27 assists and 44 PiM this season with Hershey in 48 games. In addition, he has played three games in Washington, getting an assist. Prior to this season, he had played in 255 AHL and NHL games.

Atlanta gave up Giroux, a Center. He has played in 44 games this year and has scored 19 goals with 22 assists. He has 47 PiM racked up. Giroux heads back to the Capitals organization. He was affiliated with them in the 2006-7 season in Hershey.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Courtenay to leave Giants post


Courtenay to leave Giants post

Belfast Giants GM Todd Kelman assured fans that player-coach Ed Courtenay will play through the end of the season according to the Belfast Telegraph. Courtenay had announced he was stepping down as Giants coach following a defeat Friday night at the hands of the Sheffield Steelers. Under Courtenay, the Giants had won the British Elite League title three seasons ago. That was also the season Theo Flury was aboard the team.

Ten games remain in the regular season for the Giants and a search for a new coach is underway, according to the paper. Kelman said a new coach would be announced after the season ends. The Giants loss to the Steelers mean the Giants can’t win the League this season, the paper said. The league is led in points by the Coventry Blaze with six points over both the Steelers and the Giants. The Steelers have three games in hand over the Giants.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Icehogs shut down Mads 2-0

It was a quiet game, until the third period when four players were sent to the showers at the same time. The Rockford IceHogs, with Wade Flaherty in net, and Michael Brodeur backing, shut down the Milwaukee Admirals 2-0 at the Rockford MetroCentre today. Rockford put 22 shots on Pekka Rinne for the win, while the MAds only summed up 17 shots on goal for the game.

Matt Ellison and Nolan Yonkman for Milwaukee and Ryan Stokes and Kris Versteeg for Rockford were given fighting majors with just four and half minutes remaining in the game. Alex Henry was given a double minor in the same altercation.

The Quad City Flames beat up the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins 6-1 at the iWireless Center in Moline and the Houston Aeros shutout the Rochester Americans 4-0 at the War Memorial.

The Griffins are pretty much out of the hunt, now, for the final spot in the North Division, trailing even the last place West Division team for the fourth opening. The North Division fourth place team, the Syracuse Crunch, have 60 points in 59 contests while now three West Division teams are tied at 65 points, one has two games in hand over the Crunch, making it nearly impossible for the Crunch to take the last spot in their division.

The West Division race for the final playoff spot has the Quad City Flames, the Milwaukee Admirals and the Houston Aeros all tied at 65 points, meaning one of them will probably advance to play in the North Division playoffs. Each team has 59 games played, except the Aeros, who have two games in hand. In fourth place of the division is the Peoria Rivermen with 66 pointsd in 58 games. This is the tightest race in the American Hockey League currently.

Kangas gets season high 37 saves in 4-4 tie

Atlanta Thrashers prospect Alex Kangas recorded a season high 37 saves but also gave up four goals in a 4-4 tie game between the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the University of Minnesota Gophers. Kangas, a freshman, plays goal for the Gophers.

Andrew Kozek, meanwhile, was named offensive player of the week by the WCHA, according to Dave Berger's Sioux Sports blog. Kozek, a junior, plays for the University of .North Dakota Fighting Sioux. [Edit: the earlier version of this entry had listed the Fighting Sioux as from the University of South Dakota. I regret the error. Thanks Dave.]

Iowa v Chicago and hockey breaks out

Let’s give Jeff Smith a round of applause. Seriously. Smith was the on-ice official for the Chicago Wolves 3-1 victory over the Iowa Stars Sunday at the Allstate Arena. He appears to have had a tough match to referee too. There were four fights, three goals called back and a major that didn’t erupt into a fight.

Despite all of that, I think the game was well called.

There must have been unfinished business from the Iowa v. Chicago game at the Wells Fargo Arena on Friday night, because it took just three seconds for Boris Valabik and B.J. Crombeen to drop the gloves this afternoon. Seeing as how the hockey game was dominated by the Wolves play, let’s look, instead at the fight cards.

In this corner is Valabik, 6’7” and 248 #. A native of Nitra, Slovakia, Valabik is 22 years old and has 151 PiM in 44 matches. His +/- is +17. A lefty, Valabik played juniors on the Kitchener Rangers. He has a long reach.

In Iowa’s corner, Crombeen is 6’2” and 210#. A Canadian from Newmarket, ON, he is 22 and has 155 PiM in 55 games. His +/- is –4. His juniors were played at the Barrie Colts. Advantage to Valabik, who has 38 pounds and 5 inches on Crombeen. What was Crombeen thinking?

Second match, Brian Fahey versus Marius Holtet. Fahey, of Glenview, IL is definitely the home town favorite here. At 6’1” and 216 #, this rightie once played on the Iowa Stars with Holtet. He has registered 98 PiM, 25 points and a +/- of +10 this season.

Holtet, 6’1” and 190# is also a rightie. Now 23, it is likely he doesn’t have the muscle mass of the 27 year-old Wolves player. Holtet has 14 points this season, a +/- of –21. The advantage here, again, is Fahey, with 26 pounds on the younger Holtet.

Match number three features Nathan Oystrick and Mark Bomersback. Oystick, 5’11” and 216# is a native of Regina, SK. The 25 year-old throws a left, sports a fight beard, has 72 PiM and 31 points. With a +/- of 0, Oystrick joined the American Hockey League from Northern Michigan University.

Bomersback is 5’10” and 187#. A graduate of Ferris State, this match up between two collegiate southpaws is also a mismatch on the ice. Bomersback has just taken to the ice with the Stars. With 18 games played, he has a PiM of 9, has scored 7 points and has a +/- of +4. The Wolves again have a substantial weight advantage, 29 pounds, and an inch to boot.

Match four. This match featured two contestants, but only one showed up for the fight. Andre Deveaux pulled a penalty after he checked a player into the boards outside the Wolves bench. Brett Westgarth took offense to this and wanted Deveaux to examine the floor of the Wolves bench. Deveaux didn’t react and Westgarth was given a misconduct. Here are the vitals, in case it had gone to the dance. Deveaux just turned 24 yesterday, happy birthday. He is 6’4”, 217# and throws right. A native of Welland, ON, Deveaux played in the juniors. He has recorded 132 PiM this season, with 10 points and a +/- of +4.

Westgarth throws right, is 6’2” and 215#. The 26 year old native of Amherstburg, ON played in the NCAA. He has recorded 56 PiMs and 2 points with a +/- of –7. Perhaps one of the several reasons this fight went no where was that these two players didn’t have a history together. Deveaux had 2 inches, 2 pounds. This probably would have been the best match of the evening.

The last bout of the night, it’s a rematch. Crombeen v Valabik again. They really look mismatched out there, but you have to admire his pluckiness for taking on the Slovakian giant.

It was sort of like the Stars and the Wolves. Just like on Friday night, the Wolves outshot the Stars, nearly 3:2 tonight. They took a definite lead and held it. Iowa threatened to come back, but poor defense, allowing too many rebound shots on goalie Tobias Stephan and not being able to retain control of the puck all added up to an evening that was two more points for the Wolves.

Milwaukee comes back from three goal deficit to win in OT

The Milwaukee Admirals took the oxygen out of the Wells Fargo Arena Saturday night with a 5-4 OT win over the Iowa Stars. Starting down 4-1 in the third period, the MAds scored three times in a space of seven minutes to force the game into overtime. The final goal came with just 51 seconds remaining on the regulation clock.

Dov Grumet-Morris received the win, stopping 19 shots in his debut as an Admiral. The Admirals are now 5-0-1 in their last six games and hold fifth place. They trail the fourth-place Peoria Rivermen by one point in the West Division. The Rivermen have a game in hand over the MAds. The Houston Aeros and the Quad City Flames both trail the Admirals by two points in the standings. Houston has two games in hand over the Admirals.

The fifth-place team in the West Division would currently receive a playoff spot in the North Division. Currently the North Division Syracuse Crunch have 60 points, where as every team in the West Division, with the exception of the Iowa Stars, has at least 63 points. The fifth place West Division team, the MAds have 5 points and a game in hand over the Syracuse Crunch.

Cunneyworth at 299 wins

Randy Cunneyworth is one win away from 300 career wins, according to the Raw Feed's Jessica Quiroli. Often mentioned as a candidate for open NHL coaching positions, the Rochester coach could pick the win up tonight when the Amerks play the Houston Aeros at the War Memorial.

Blue pillow cases, just like kids

The blue pillow cases that the Milwaukee Admirals wore in a throwback night earlier this season were butt ugly. That's nothing new for the MAds, who seem content with upending fashion on a regular basis. Blogger Teebz puts words to this latest ugliness saying, "charities have benefitted, but I don't know if my eyes ever will."

Former Iowa goalies square off

Dan Ellis and Mike Smith were teammates in the American Hockey League, playing in both the Utah Grizzlies and the Iowa Stars. As Mike Heika describes the post-season events that led Ellis to leave the Dallas organization, you feel the personal level of play that sometimes is evident on the ice, "Ellis decided he had a better chance to earn an NHL job somewhere else... "

He is 9-1-1 in his last 11 games. So, there was lots on the line when the Predators went ahead with Ellis against Smith in a game Saturday in Nashville. The final winner, Mike Smith's Stars 6-3. More on the game HERE

CST look at Hawks

The Sunday Chicago Sun-Times has several articles worth a look for hockey fans.

First, “The Worst Teams in Chicago History.” The list is heavy on recent teams and I suspect most fans will dispute it anyway. Each professional team has one entry. The Blackhawks entry: 2003-4 with a record of 20-43-11.

Second, a half page interview by Len Ziehm with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He discusses the surge in Blackhawks attendance this season, “it’s good for the Blackhawks and their fans, and what’s good for one of our teams is good for the team.” Now, if Bettman had said he hoped the Blackhawks had sunk into bankruptcy, that would have been news. Something neutral like this?

Rick Telander takes on the Richard Zednik injury in his column. Telander calls for hockey players to accept mandatory neck protection gear. Just a few thoughts on this idea. First, eye injuries are much more common. If the players are balking about accepting mandatory visors, how difficult will it be to force them to accept mandatory neck safety gear? Even head gear, now required at all levels, doesn't seem to fit right. From the viewpoint of safety, better head gear is available, but it is not used.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

There he goes again...

The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled goalie Corey Crawford from the Rockford IceHogs this evening. Dale Tallon made the announcement, noting that Nikolai Khabibulan had suffered back spasms during practice this morning.

The IceHogs said Crawford has appeared in 46 American Hockey League games for Rockford this season, posting 2 shutouts and a record of 24-15-5. Crawford has a 90.9 save percentage and a 2.78 GAA. He was the backup goalie for Patrick Lalime in a 6-1 Blackhawks victory over the Nashville Predators on February 14th. He did not miss any games with the IceHogs.

Michael Brodeur was recalled from the Pensacola Ice Pilots to replace Crawford. Brodeur has appeared in 20 Ice Pilots games, posting a record of 7-7-4. He has a 91.1 save percentage and a 3.16 GAA. He also played four frames for the IceHogs this season, posting a 94.4 save percentage and a GAA of 2.25.

Last season, when Brodeur was loaned to the Norfolk Admirals, then the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, he played ten games, posting a record of 4-3-0. His save percentage was 89.1 with a 3.39 GAA.

Wolves 3-1 over Iowa

Led by two power play goals in the first frame, the Chicago Wolves overpowered the Iowa Stars 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Arena Friday night. The Wolves dominated the Stars with 19 shots on goal in the first frame, answered by just two shots by Iowa.

For the game as a whole, the Wolves out shot the Star 3:2 and had one 5:3 advantage during the game. The Wolves lead the American Hockey League in their power game, with a second place power play ranked at 21.9 percent and a second place penalty kill ranked at 86 percent.

Ondrej Pavelec turned away 23 shots for the win. Steve Silverthorn received the loss, stopping 33 shots on goal. The Wolves have 80 points in 54 games, the best the franchise has ever played.

480th win for Marks

The Pensacola Ice Pilots earned John Marks his 480th career regular season win on Friday night with a 3-2 victory over the Gwinnett Gladiators in a game at the Pensacola Civic Center. The record 481st victory could be notched Sunday as the last place Ice Pilots face the eighth place Mississippi Sea Wolves in Biloxi’s Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

Although the Texas Wildcatters have run away with the regular season in the ECHL this season, already locking up the Divisional playoff spot, the Gladiators remain on the hunt. They are just two points behind the South Carolina Stingrays with two games in hand.

IceHogs break 8 game losing streak with 3-2 win over MAds

The Rockford IceHogs snapped their eight game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals Friday night at the Bradley Center. Troy Brouwer, the team’s leading scorer, returned to the line-up for the first time since an injury in February. He put four shots on goal, scoring a goal. Also back was blue liner Jerrramie Domish who was +1 for the night.

Jack Skille was credited with two points in the win and Wade Flaherty stopped 20 shots on goal. Pekka Rinne, the losing goalie, was credited with 24 shots blocked. Rockford went 2:6 on the power play. Although Rockford had a 5:3 power play in the second period, it wasn’t able to convert it until the first penalty had expired.

The Admirals, in fifth place in the West Division of the American Hockey League, remain in the hunt for the playoffs. Currently they would play in the North Division playoffs as the fourth place Syracuse Crunch trail them in points, 58 to 65. The race for the final playoff spot in the West, likely to actually be played against the North Division, is tight, with five points separating the fourth and seventh place teams.

The IceHogs are currently trailing the Chicago Wolves by eight points and the Wolves also have four games in hand. The third place San Antonio Rampage are making a move on second place, they trail the IceHogs by two points and have two points in hand.

The IceHogs and the Admirals play again Sunday and again on Wednesday at the Rockford MetroCentre.

Germyn hat trick for 26th BD

Carson Germyn celebrated his birthday with a hat trick in a game Friday against the Peoria Rivermen. The 6-2 win was the most goals scored in a game this season by the Quad City Flames. Marc Nesseler of QC Online said a sign held by fans Mike and Trisha Hunter and Jeni Chisholm wishing Germyn a happy birthday helped get Germyn going.

“Now I’ve got to find out what he needs for motivation for Sunday,” Coach Ryan McGill told Nesseler.

The Flames trail the Milwaukee Admirals by two points with 63 points in sixth place. At the moment, all of the West Division teams, except for the Iowa Stars, could advance to one of five playoff spots, four in the West Division, and one in the North Division as the Syracuse Crunch have fewer points than the fifth, sixth and seventh place West Division teams. Although the Milwaukee Admirals would currently hold that playoff spot, the Flames have been playing somewhat better with 12 points in the last ten games, versus 11 points for Milwaukee.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Outdoor game? Wrigley Field

An earlier post discussed a Detroit Free Press article and a Daily Herald article that both proclaimed Soldier Field to be the site of a proposed outdoor game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. Although the Daily Herald story by Tim Sassone does mention the lakefront home of the Bears, it links John McDonough's recent move from the Chicago Cubs to the Blackhawks with interest in Wrigley Field,

"The Hawks want to play the game at Wrigley Field, which has been confirmed by multiple sources, including one from the Cubs saying the two organizations have discussed the idea."

Pensacola coach nears record 480 wins

Pensacola Ice Pilots Coach John Marks could tie the ECHL record for most regular season wins on Friday if the Ice Pilots win against the Gwinnett Gladiators at home tonight. Marks, who coached two ECHL teams to the Kelly Cup, is best known in the Midwest for playing with the Chicago Blackhawks for ten seasons and for his years in the International Hockey League coaching Kalamazoo and Indianapolis.

The current record of 480 wins in 13 seasons is held by John Brophy who coached Hampton Roads and Wheeling, ending in 2003. Marks already holds the record of 970 games coached in the ECHL.

The Ice Pilots are affiliated with the Rockford IceHogs and the Chicago Blackhawks.

SAR finishes best road trip in franchise history

Melissa Martinez at The Raw Feed reports that the San Antonio Rampage, traditionally the cellar dwellers of the American Hockey League Western Division, completed one of their long road trips, taking 18 of 28 points. It was the best showing by the team in the franchises’ history the report says.

The road trip moved the Rampage to third place in the Western Division, from fourth, with a possibility of catching the stumbling Rockford IceHogs in second.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Austin to be new home of Dallas AHL; Des Moines stays in league

"There is no threat to the American Hockey League leaving Des Moines," Kirby Schlegel, co-owner of the Iowa Stars AHL team said to Des Moines Register reporter Tom Witosky. Although the Dallas Stars will move their AHL team to a new $55 million venue to be built in Cedar Park, Texas, near Austin, a new team will be put into Des Moines.

A new name could come as early as next season. The Iowa Stars are owned by Schlegel Sports, which has a lease to play at the Wells Fargo Arena through 2015 and may not relocate under any circumstance, the story notes. Polk County, the owner of Wells Fargo, was even guaranteed $7 million to $12.5 million if bankruptcy forced the team to close before 2015.

Dave Andrews, the President of the AHL echoed that the league will stay in Des Moines. No affiliation has been announced for the new team and Andrews said it was premature to speculate. Completion of the Austin facility will not be until 2010.

Loud Wolves Fans

Reed Schreck of the Rockford Registar Star "if you were an IceHogs fan at Saturday's sellout against Chicago, you had to have heard-- and been annoyed-- by how loud Wolves fans chanted "Let's Go Wolves!"

"You definitely hear that," Brett Sterling told Schreck, "you know you've got support in the building when you go get a goal... That kind of gets you going."

Lunar eclipses and own goals

The oddball goal that ended the February 20th game between the Manitoba Moose and the Chicago Wolves is still causing me some wonder. I've already pointed out that Drew MacIntyre (G) stopped 29 shots on goal, was credited with the game winning goal and was one of just nine American Hockey League goalies to have accomplished this. Do I need to point out that this was his first professional goal? But he still wasn't awarded one of the stars of the game.

In addition, the previous own goal against the Wolves was scored by Steve Maltais. Maltais is now retired from the Wolves and he doesn't visit the team as much as I wish he would. But he was in attendance Wednesday night, and was the subject of a video tribute.

Now that might just be a coincidence, but there was also a lunar eclipse that Wednesday, during the game. Enough said?

Malt, no more visits to the Allstate Arena on lunar eclipses.

Mickey Renaud tributes continue

The remembrances of Mickey Renaud continue to find their way into print. This piece by Allan Maki of the Globe & Mail discusses one of the better-known events in Mickey’s life. The members of the Windsor Spitfires shunned Akim Aliu, the Chicago Blackhawk prospect. A hazing incident, led by Steve Downie, occurred in practice, knocking out two of Aliu’s teeth.

Renaud, a rookie, reached out and in one retelling, defended Aliu. Although the issues related to Aliu eventually led to him being traded, Renaud is remembered as having attempted to bridge the gap between the parties.

The Spitfires have opened a foundation on behalf of the Renaud family. Windsor, ON citizens can drop donations at any Windsor Family Credit Union. Other hockey fans should send donations to the Spitfires:

Windsor Spitfires Foundation
% Renaud Family
334 Wyandotte St., E
Windsor ON N9A 3H6 Canada

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

MacIntyre is only 2nd Moose goalie to score

According to the official Manitoba Moose website Drew MacIntyre is only the second Moose goalie to score a goal. The first goalie to score a goal for the Moose was Fred Brathwaite in 1996 in a game in Long Beach.

MacIntyre gets game winner and win

Drew MacIntyre was credited with the game-winning goal in a 2-1 loss by the Chicago Wolves to the Manitoba Moose. MacIntyre, a goalie, was described by the American Hockey League, as only the ninth goalie in its history to be credited with a goal.

In mockery of the “Stars of the Game,” MacIntyre, who stopped 29 Chicago shots on goal and five Chicago power plays, and who, as described above, is credited with one of only nine goals by goalies in the AHL, was not given a star of the game.

The loss broke a Wolves winning streak at seven games, a run that has put them on top of the Western Conference and just three points, with a game in hand, behind the Providence Bruins for first place in the league. A scoreless first period, with a bruising fight between Joey Crabb and Mike Brown, had an almost even measure of shots on goal, with Manitoba noting 10 and the Wolves nine.

Ondrej Pavelec could not stop a clothesline slap shot from the near left circle. The goal by Pierre-Cedric Labrie was his fifth of the year and opened the second period. Chicago replied to the Moose late in the period when Brian Little beat MacIntyre to score the tying goal.

The Wolves stepped up the attack in the third period, when they doubled-up on the Moose as measured by shots on goal. MacIntyre turned back four shots before you could blink twice, earning an ovation from the sparse crowd. The two teams seemed spent at the end of 16 minutes of the third period and the period puttered to a close.

The overtime period saw the Wolves turn back two Moose shots. And while the shot clock does not show it, the Wolves put heavy pressure on MacIntyre. A delayed penalty was called on Moose Jason Jaffray at 56 seconds remaining. Steve Martins dug the puck out of the back of the net as goalie Pavelec headed to the bench, leaving the Chicago goal unprotected.

The extra man came on the ice, as Martins passed the puck in front, into traffic. Unbelievably, no one seemed able to put a stick on the puck as it passed through a mass of Moose and two Chicago players to spin into the Chicago net.

Dejected, Martins slowly skated down the ice as the team came off the bench to try to cheer him. The goal was credited to MacIntyre, the last Moose player to have touched the puck. Because the Moose never had control of the puck after the delayed penalty was called, no whistle was blown.

MacIntyre is credited with the win and the game-winning goal. And, he was not recognized as a star of the game.

Manitoba 0 1 0 1 -- 2
Chicago 0 1 0 0 -- 1

First Period---None. Penalties---Bieksa, Manitoba (tripping), 1:34; Brown, Manitoba (roughing, fighting), 10:06; Crabb, Chicago (fighting), 10:06; Krog, Chicago (high-sticking), 15:24; Brown, Manitoba (roughing), 19:13; Valabik, Chicago (roughing), 19:13; Fahey, Chicago (interference), 19:13.

Second Period---1, Manitoba, Labrie 5 (Bieska, Brown), 3:42; 2, Chicago, Little 9 (Schultz, Sterling), 18:31. Penalties---Jaffray, Manitoba (tripping), 11:19; Rahimi, Manitoba (roughing), 13:29; Sterling, Chicago (roughing), 13:29; Fahey, Chicago (holding), 14:32; Rypien, Manitoba (tripping), 18:58.

Third Period---None. Penalties---Moran, Manitoba (holding the stick), 4:11.

Overtime---3, Manitoba, MacIntyre 1 (unassisted), 4:40 en. Penalties---Jaffray, Manitoba (hooking), 4:04.

Shots on goal---Manitoba: 10-6-4-3--23. Chicago: 9-11-9-1--30. Power plays---Manitoba: 0-3. Chicago: 0-5. Goalies---Manitoba, MacIntyre (29-30). Chicago, Pavelec (21-22). A---4,127. Referee---Ryan Fraser. Linesmen---Bryan Pancich and Peter Cichy.

Caruso sighting

Dave Caruso, who played net for the Gwinett Gladiators with Dan Turple last season has been called up from the Trenton Devils of the ECHL to the Lowell Devils of the American Hockey League, Rob Chakler reports in the Trentonian.

Trenton was scheduled to play the Gladiators on Saturday, meaning the Gladiators missed a chance to light Caruso up. The Devils lost the game 5-4 in OT. Caruso also missed a pasting from the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday, they won 7-0.

Blues organization, too much talent?

The St. Louis Blues are not typically a team considered over blessed with young talent. But the Anchorage Daily News details how the Alaska Aces, on the ECHL end of the pipeline from St. Louis and Peoria, have two extra bodies aboard for a road trip this weekend.

Sticking in Peoria is Eric Neilson, according to the report, with three fisticuffs and 29 PiM since his call-up. Down is leading Aces scorer Josh Soares and goalie Marek Schwarz. The Rivermen received Derek Gustafson from Alaska.

The likely Rivermen goalie is Hannu Toivonen with five American Hockey League starts. He has a 4-1 record so far and stops 88.3 percent of shots.

QC Flames receives visit from Calgary GM

The Quad City Flames were subject to a performance review over the weekend, according to Craig DeVrieze of the Quad City Times.

Attendance at the iWireless Center is lagging the league at just 3,350, according to the story. However, the Calgary Flames appear to be patient and are stressing that the team is in contention for a playoff spot. Calgary General Manager Darryl Sutter said, “there is work to be done.”

Blackhawks have proposed outdoor game against Detroit

According to the Detroit Free Press and the Daily Herald the ChicagoBlackhawks have pitched the idea of the next outdoor hockey game being held at Soldier Field against the Detroit Red Wings. The blog entry follows a trail of information, both in the sports world and elsewhere to conclude the game may end up in Soldier Field or, according to the Daily Herald, at Michigan Stadium of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Hat tricks and former Atlanta prospects in net

With Jimmy Howard called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins, Adam Berkhoel has been promoted to lead goalie of the Griffs. Back in the day, Berkhoel was among the goalies in Chicago, on call for Atlanta. And, along with others, he was sent packing to be reborn in the ECHL with a great season.

Backing him in goal was a loan from the Atlanta Thrashers organization: Dan Turple. Turple hasn’t played for the Griffins yet. Berkhoel is 5-8-3 with a 3.17 GAA and a save percentage of 87.9 percent. Turple, who is expected to stay with the Griffins through the playoffs, has recorded 12-9-3 with a 3.14 GAA and a 90.4 percent save percentage in the ECHL. He wore a Wolves sweater in October, backing Fred Brathwaite. Here and Here and Here.

Darren McCarty stole the show Friday with an attempt to return to the NHL. His resume now includes a hat trick, on Friday. The Grand Rapids Press was so taken, they figure he’ll be reporting to duty at the Joe Louis Arena before the end of the season. Here and Here and Here

How to drive a Zamboni (R)

First of all, as Kirk Wessler points out in this article in the Peoria Journal Star, a Zamboni is an ice resurfacing machine manufactured by the Zamboni Co… Anyway the point is, the sentence above is flawed grammatically. You operate a Zamboni manufactured ice resurfacing machine.

Lot’s more fun, though I wonder if Dave Eminian, the writer who covers the Peoria Rivermen, got a shot at resurfacing the ice too.

Grant Lewis auditioning for the Bachelor

Ben Lovejoy, a blueliner with the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins, says Grant Lewis is auditioning for a role on the Bachelor. Here’s the important stats on Grant Lewis, ladies: 23 y.o. drafted 2nd round, 40th overall in 2004. Plays defence. +-= 7. 6’ 2” 199 # 26 games played, 29 shots on goal, 9 points 32 PiM. More information HERE.

Good luck.

I'm confused by the CSHL

Teams in Chicago, Quad City, Peoria, Grand Rapids, Cleveland and St. Louis, huh? Okay, I looked, and it isn’t a joke. But I am finding it hard to keep the Central States Hockey League (Junior B) separate from the Western Division American Hockey League (AAA).

QC Surging with first consecutive home wins over IceHogs since UHL days

Four points against division rivals in a weekend is good news for the Quad City Flames, which took games against the Peoria Rivermen and the Rockford IceHogs over the weekend. Each of the American Hockey League Western Division teams are currently in position to enter the playoffs, either in the West Division or the North Division.

Craig DeVrieze reports in the Quad City Times that a four goal first period Sunday against the IceHogs was sparked by Warren Peters (6’ 0”, 201 #, 60 PiM) taking Rockford’s Gavin Morgan (5’ 11”, 190 #, 73 PiM) to the mat. The Flames scored just 16 seconds later.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More on Mickey Renaud

I hadn't met Mickey, however the Spitfires had introduced me to his dad, Mark, when I was there at a game in November. Mickey played well that night, but I actually wrote about another young player, goalie Anthony Grieco of the St. Michaels Majors.

Mark was up in the stands, watching the game. He was very close to the roof of the arena, sitting with some friends. He was an NHLer himself and we talked briefly about Mickey and his prospects.

Mickey had been drafted by the Calgary Flames, as it mentions in the Windsor Star. Mark showed some mild interest in the Quad Cities Flames and the AHL. He works as a manager now for Canada, managing its border. Between the game I asked how difficult it was to manage the busy crossing.

I had an idea for a story, but let it pass during the fall. Still I thought I'd keep track of Mickey in his professional career. Following a person of promise from the juniors into the minors and finally the big time would be very cool. Sort of the professional life of a player distilled into the blog. I have some photos of Mickey I'll post on the blog in the next night or two.

Mickey Renaud, 19, Windsor Spitfire Captain, dead

Mickey Renaud, the captain of the Windsor Spitfires, died. The team announced the death yesterday and the story was recorded in the Windsor Star by Bob Duff.

An autopsy, today, will help determine the death of the young hockey player. The Spitfires have postponed their game on February 21st against the Plymouth Whalers. According to the reports, Renaud died shortly after eating breakfast at home yesterday.

The Calgary Flames had selected Renaud 143rd overall in the 2007 draft. He was expected to make the NHL on a grinding line as a forward, according to the report by Duff.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wolves pull into comfortable lead over IceHogs with win

The Chicago Wolves pulled into a lead, a good, defensible and strategic lead, over the Rockford IceHogs with a 4-1 thumping of the Hogs at the MetroCentre in Rockford Saturday night. It was the first win by the visiting team in the series, so far this year.

The win puts the Wolves in a lead for first place in the Western Conference with 77 points and four games in hand over the IceHogs who trail at 70 points. Both teams are well positioned to be playing in the playoffs starting in April. The Wolves trail the Providence Bruins of the Eastern Conference, who lead the American Hockey League, by four points with two games in hand. Both teams have winning percentages in excess of 74 percent.

Every team in the Western Division of the Western Conference is poised, at the moment, to use an AHL rule allowing the fifth-place Western Division team to jump to the North Division in the playoffs if they have more points than the fourth place team in the North Division at the end of the regular season. Currently the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Calder Cup champions last season, with 56 points, hold the fourth place in the North Division. The last place team in the Western Division, the Iowa Stars, also has 56 points.

The contest on Saturday night pitted a tough Wolves defense and special teams unit against a gritty IceHog team, which has seen repeated call-ups to the Chicago Blackhawks. Wolves special teams, for both penalty kill and power play, are currently ranked near the top of the league. Defense has been especially good in the second half of the season with Nathan Oystrick, Boris Valabik and Brian Sipotz making outstanding contributions and Joel Kwiatkowski leading the league in scoring among blue liners.

No team can win a Calder Cup without a great goalie, and Ondrej Pavelec is stopping and stopping and stopping shots on goal. The Wolves are not riding him to exhaustion, as they have sometimes done with their goalies in previous years, but giving him a break with Robert Gherson covering the posts on Pavelec’s days off.

I was not a fan of Gherson. And, I am still worried how this young goalie will play in the playoffs. But he has shown that when he is hot, he is on fire. And when he is cold, bundle up.

The fact is, I’ve been an IceHogs fan too, for many years. There is good news for Rockford, despite the recent string of losses. The Hogs have a great battery of goalies with veteran Wade Flaherty and hot prospect Corey Crawford in net. Two is better than one, though the Hogs will need to get through the Wolves in the playoffs to prove that in the semi-finals and the finals.

In addition, there is a great, physical and offense line-up in front of Crawford. There have been lots of call-ups to Chicago in the past few months. These guys have seen some ice time in the NHL. They are coming back to Rockford more polished and tougher.

Under the United Hockey League rules, the regular season team was, for the most part, the playoff team. IceHogs fans, you are getting back all the guys who went up to Chicago. Why? Because the Blackhawks are not going into the playoffs and they can return here for assignment.

Also, there is the question of prospects. I’d have to rank Akim Aliu, of the London Knights as the most exciting Blackhawk prospect who could land in Rockford. He is only 18. The London Knights are still in the hunt for the Memorial Cup. But this is a big difference between the AHL and the UHL. Exciting kids like this make their first professional appearance in the AHL playoffs. They change everything when they first appear.

There are still two months of regular hockey ahead. But I’m pumped for a great end to the season for both the IceHogs and the Wolves and a great playoff season.

News Photogs join bloggers in stands

The local media is full of consternation, the Illinois High School Association has denied newspaper photographers full media access due to a disagreement about the resale rights of the photographs taken at state association sponsored events.

My take, simply, the photographs belong to the newspapers or the artists who created them, not to the event at which the photographs were taken. The IHSA crafted an agreement with a Wisconsin company to give it exclusive control over the resale of all photographs. Now it wants to extend that agreement to third parties, requiring press photographers to release their rights to resell the photos taken, in exchange they’ll gain full access.

Almost universally, the photographers are saying “Nuts.”

Here at “Sit Down and Shut Up” and the sister blog, “PowderhornHockey.” We can sympathize with the Illinois Press as it marches up into the stands to shoot pictures from up here. As a blog we have covered the Chicago Wolves for several seasons and they have never given us anything from media kits, to access to the players and coaches to photographic access at games.

I sit in the stands. And I like to talk to other fans. I want that immediacy and embrace the fact that I am an anonymous person: I am just another fan in the crowd. Still, it hurts this blog and the readers of it that I do not have full access to the players, the coaches and their opponents.

The reader should understand we buy our own tickets to every event. We pay our own way to every event. Although PowderhornHockey has recently begun to accept advertising, I have not yet done so. So, there is no compensation. And, one of the rules of this business, we can’t ask anyone for autographs or other things of any potential value.

So, our defense of the news photogs now sitting amongst us is nuanced. I’d like to fully back the Illinois Press Association in its fight with the IHSA over this issue. But, I’m one of the people considered second class members of the fourth estate. And why is that? Because I am just another fan in the crowd: I write on-line.

Fact: you become a member of the media through recognition. In the past, it took money for presses and paper and an office and an ad sales staff and a distribution staff. That is mostly irrelevant now.

If you write a better blog than I do, you can become the new Matt Drudge. There is no cost, except time, involved.

As you, the reader, consider the major media’s defense of its full access, I’d encourage you to ask broader questions about the disagreement. The media can cover many of these events from the stands. The newspapers demonstrated that this weekend with their coverage of high school events around the state. So, there isn’t a question about the ability to cover events from the stands, currently.

However, what is to prevent a sponsoring team from broadening the ban: parents, exclusive rights to photograph your son or daughter at a high school event is reserved to the IHSA and its agents? It may seem far-fetched, but it is actually a small step further from a legal perspective. If the IHSA is to enforce its ban, that seems to be its next choice. It must stop the journalist sitting next to you from photographing your child’s soccer match if it is to execute its exclusive rights agreement. The journalist will then react by forcing the IHSA to stop you from photographing the same match. There is no difference in the eyes of the law between the two of you.

Preferential treatment is awarded to some outlets based on recognition of their work. Newspapers only make money for this public service through sales: advertising sales and newspaper sales, principally. But also reproduction rights. If they don’t make money, they go out of business. The IHSA position is an assault on this business model.

The current newspaper defense seems to be, "we have crappy pictures because the IHSA is a bad organization." They should be explaining why newspapers and fans have similar interests. And second, being in the stands is no excuse for bad photography.