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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Krahn shutout 3-0

The Chicago Wolves played the best game of the season Saturday as they out fought and out played the Houston Aeros in a knuckle biter 3-0 shutout at the Allstate Arena Saturday night.

Mike Hoffman and Matt Kassian started the fireworks early with a bare knuckle fight less than 90 seconds into the game. On their next shift together the two heavy weights began jawing at each other and were sent back to the sin bin to cool themselves off for another two minutes.

After Krys Kolanos was added to the sin bin at 15:10, the Wolves, with the first power play of the game, passed the puck to Riley Hozapfel at the point. He fired a rocket past goalie Nolan Schaefer seconds into the power play, giving the Wolves a 1-0 lead.

Hoffman and Kassian celebrated the goal by having yet another fight and spending five more minutes in the sin bin. Although there were two Aeros power plays for most of the last five minutes of the period, it was the Wolves who dominated the first period. The Wolves put 11 shots on goal for just six for the Aeros.

In the second period Joey Crabb used a power play to do the same thing to Schaefer. At the point, a pass and a rocket into the net. He even used the same two players to set the shot up: Jamie Rivers and Grant Lewis. A two goal Wolves lead going into the final frame. This time the Wolves shots were eight compared to just seven for the Aeros.

The final period of play. With 5:57 left to play, Kevin Constantine pulls Aeros goalie Schaefer, giving the man advantage to the Aeros on the attack. The shots on goal begin to pile up and the pressure on the Wolves is made worse when Brett Sterling is called for a hooking penalty.

With 6:4, Brent Krahn became a wall. It really reminded me of a playoff game from two years ago, the grace and pressure that he was under as he stopped everything. Yes there were pucks that the Wolves cleared towards the empty Aeros net, but it was relentless pressure. Arturs Kulda, with 1:07 remaining in the period and the power play ended, cleared the puck and raced in with the puck to put the puck in the net.

An empty net goal, it brought Schaefer back on the ice. The Aeros had admitted they lost.

This was the first shutout for Krahn since the 2007 season. In the third period he stopped 17 shots on goal. In fact, during that period, only two shots were credited to the Wolves, and of course one of those scored. The Aeros dominated the third period. Krahn was a wall.

Krahn's win was 30 shots stopped. Schaefer stopped 18 shots for the loss. Three points were awarded to Grant Lewis for assists. Two points were awarded to Rivers for his assists. This was a game in which the defense and the offense played well and they were backed by a solid goalie. It was a great turnaround from the disappointment in Milwaukee on Friday night.

For the Aeros, mention must be made of Krys Kolanos, who put five shots on the goal. And, of course Hoffman and Kassian were each awarded 12 penalty minutes for their pugilism.

Hogs crush Moose, 4-1

The Rockford IceHogs spanked the Manitoba Moose 4-1 in a Friday night win at the MTS Centre. Antti Niemi received a win, with 28 saves. Tim Brent scored two goals on five shots on goal, Mike Radja a pair of assists.

Jason Jaffray had seven shots on goal, but no points. Cory Schneider received the loss with five saves on eight shots. He was benched for Curtis Sanford, who stopped 15 shots on goal. An empty net goal in the final 11 seconds of the game by Brent accounted for the balance of the score.

MAds Kelsey Wilson gets Gordie Howe Hat Trick

A disappointing loss to the Milwaukee Admirals by the Chicago Wolves at the Bradley Center Friday. The Wolves, after struggling to take the lead from a 2-0 deficit, could not hold on, losing two goals and the game in the final five minutes of play when Kelsey Wilson scored twice in 37 seconds.

Ondrej Pavelec was called for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result of the final goal. Pavelec's defense was penetrated repeatedly during the game. It seems like a problem that has continued all season with Pavelec finally responding to it in a physical manner. But you need to wonder if this was the fault of the opposition or the opportunity they used to win?

In other words, it is the job of the defense to deny the opposition position between them and the goal. Yet, that is what Brian Sipotz, in particular, is allowing in game after game. Sipotz is listed as 6'7” and 248 pounds. His hometown is listed as South Bend but he's playing with a Swedish passport on that ice. It is a wonder to me that his +/- is +5. That demonstrates to me how limited this statistic is for measuring the quality of blueliners.

Milwaukee is in command of the conference at the moment. They have 62 points, which is 12 points and a game in hand over the second place team, the Rockford IceHogs. For every team in the North and the West, this team has a target on it. Last night, the Wolves almost succeeded in doing what few teams have been able to do, beat them at home. That's only happened five times this season. On a side note, Milwaukee is in a bit of a slump at home, having lost three of the last five games played at the Bradley Center.

Milwaukee led the scoring with two goals in the first five minutes of the game. At the end of one period it was two goals on ten shots for Milwaukee. In the second frame, Sipotz was penalized with a high sticking resulting in a Milwaukee power play. Joey Crabb, just down from Atlanta, picked up a loose puck and broke away to score a shortie. After Chicago received a power play late in the period, it evened the score on a goal from Spencer Machacek.

Entering the final period of play, Chicago created a lead on a Brett Sterling goal, then extended it on a Jordan LaValee score, making the game 4-2 Chicago with about six minutes remaining. One of the reasons Sipotz has that high +/- that I discussed earlier, is that he is on the ice for the offensive successes. That happened in the third period, where he is credited with two assists. For the night he only had a +1. He was on the ice for what happened next.

Milwaukee went on the power play at 15:11, the result of a tripping called on Riley Holzapfel. Kelsey Wilson used the advantage to score. Here's the tale of the sudden reversal from the Milwaukee Admirals game summary:

Thirty-seven seconds is all it took for Wilson to add two goals to his assist and first period fight, and it sure did come at a good time. At 15:28 of the third period, the Admirals were on the power-play when Cody Franson fired a rocket slap shot from the point and Wilson was there to tip it in and tie the score at four apiece.

My note here: Kelsey was wide open. No defense. Just him and Pavelec.

The game-winner for Wilson came off a rebound shortly after his first marker of the evening. It was Ryan Maki who drove the puck in down the right-wing side and fired a shot that bounced hard off of Chicago goalie Ondrej Pavelec’s legpad, and came right out to Wilson who fired it in for the go-ahead goal of the game

Same thing again.

“He’s a good presence on the power play in front of the net. I made the decision this morning that he was going to play on the power play in front of the net, and low and behold, he makes something happen when he’s doing that,” said Admirals head coach Lane Lambert.

Undoubtedly a star of the game performance by Wilson who notched a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with his first goal. Just amazing. Wilson notched two goals and an assist for the night with a fighting major. He only was credited with two shots on goal for the night, so he was 100 percent in shooting. Wow. Just Wow!

Cody Franson had a goal and two assists for the MAds, while Ryan Maki had a goal and an assist. Drew MacIntyre's win counted 29 saves.

Pavelec notched 30 saves on the night and an unusual minor penalty for a goal tender. Jeff Hamilton and Sipotz had two assists. Joey Crabb notched five shots on goal.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hogs, Moose in shootout

The Manitoba Moose and the Rockford IceHogs had to settle their differences with a shootout at the MTS Centre last night. In the shootout the Hogs were able to put three in, compared to two for the Moose, and won the game 2-1.

Judd Blackwater, a rookie loan from the ECHL Stockton Thunder, scored his first American Hockey League goal and only the eighth goal of his professional career to help the Rockford IceHogs force the Manitoba Moose to the shootout. His power play first period goal came off a pass from Petri Kontiola.

In the second period, the Moose took a goal back just after the end of a power play to tie the game. Rockford dominated the remainder of the second period, but was unable to find the net again. Antti Niemi ended his five game losing streak with the win. He stopped 24 shots on goal. Curtis Sanford, of the Moose, stopped 27 shots on goal.

Pete MacArthur posted six shots on goal in the effort. The Hogs are at the start of a seven game road trip.

Wolves win in shootout

A shoot out was needed to determine the final of the game between the Chicago Wolves and the Iowa Chops at the Allstate Arena last night. Power plays dominated the action in the 4-3 Chicago victory, with five of the six goals awarded during power plays.

After dinging a shot off of the Chops post, the Wolves discipline began to erode, as it allowed four advantages to Iowa in the first period. Iowa surged to a two goal lead on the strength of two power play goals as a result. Chicago was finally able to answer with a single goal at the end of the period when Mike Hoffman, playing to the center of the crease, lost control of the puck. However, he stayed with his check, and the puck became lost in the moving scrum to goalie David LeNeveu and trickled across the goal.

In the second period Chicago took a series of four penalties beginning at 13:12 with a 5:4 Iowa advantage. The Iowa advantage increased to 5:3 after a minute, twelve seconds and ended after three minutes, twenty seconds with a power play goal. Chicago held the Chops back from further gains, even though yet another power play was awarded to Iowa. The closing minute of the second frame saw Iowa take two penalties, including one for an after the whistle hit by Petteri Wirtanen on Steve Martins.

Chicago, now behind 3-1, entered the third frame with a 5:3 power play. This paid off immediately as Brett Sterling put a loose puck in. Iowa was able to hold on for the remainder of the 5:4 power play. However, at the 7:12 mark, as the Wolves effort was beginning to take its toll, Brian Salcido grew frustrated and put the puck out of play, resulting in a delay of game penalty. John deGray followed that eight seconds later with a high sticking penalty. Chicago's 5:3 power play was cut short, however, as Mark Lemelin called Sterling for two minor penalties 35 seconds later. Sterling, became entangled in front of the Chops net. He seemed to be calling for a slew foot penalty, but was called for holding AND for poor sportsmanlike conduct. As the power plays traded back and forth, each team was able to hold the other in check. The Wolves effort this period continued however, and at the 12:17 mark deGray was called for tripping. Jordan LaValee was able to take advantage of the power play to tie the score.

During the period, the outshot the Chops 14-2. Even without the arbitrary measure of the shots on goal, the pressure the Wolves put on the Chops was evident in the lack of discipline that sent the Chops to the sin bin for much of the period.

Entering the extra period, the two teams showed their exhaustion. Matt Beleskey was called for a one minute hooking charge, but the Wolves were unable to put that power play to use. This was one of the applications of a new American Hockey League rules that shortens some penalties in the extra period. It was felt that the two minute penalties in a five minute period were to great an advantage when play included only four players. The rule could be applied to the National Hockey League in coming seasons.

During the shootout Beleskey was the only scorer for the Chops, while Jeff Hamilton and Brett Skinner each scored for the Wolves. Skinner was acquired on the 13th from Atlanta.

Brent Krahn backed Ondrej Pavelec in net. Dan Turple and Robert Gherson were both scratches. Pavelec had 23 saves on the night for the win. LeNeveu had 30 saves. This was the first appearance of the Iowa Chops at the Allstate. Chicago has played three games at Iowa earlier in the season, splitting the series 2-1. Jeff Hamilton was notable for his five shots on goal. He was awarded an assist for the night. Nine Wolves received points in the game. Troy Brodie must be recognized for his seven shot effort for the Chops. Ajay Baines received two assists for the Chops.

The Wolves travel to Milwaukee tonight for a game against the Milwaukee Admirals. They play Saturday against the Houston Aeros at the Allstate, finishing up three games in three nights.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All-Star Break breakdown

I'm anxious to hear from Kris Grey her observations on the Milwaukee Admirals v. Rockford IceHogs game last night. This was a game in a sold out MetroCentre. Just reading the brief description of the game that I prepared, you can see that these two teams were well matched; and, Milwaukee won.

Going into the All-Star Break, I can think of no better way to wake the Hogs up than to lose to the team that is going to block access to the Conference games in the post season. They have to figure out the MAds. They'll have lots of opportunities to do that in the coming two and half months.

One thing that must change: the pathetic Hogs penalty kill. There are two answers to this, one is to get better on the ice. The other is to become a more disciplined team. You take fewer penalties, you then aren't as worried about not being able to stop what's coming at you.

Milwaukee is among the best in the league in both penalty kill and power play. Although Drew MacIntyre is an older player, in terms of the American Hockey League, he can guide them to a Calder Cup win, especially if this team continues to play as they are now. Good power play, good penalty kill and good net defense. It's a killer. Once again the MAds are threatening to go to the finals with an excellent team.

If I had money to bet on this situation, I'd have to say the Admirals are favored to go to the Conference from the West Division.

Now, over in Chicago, Ondrej Pavelec is back in net. That's good news. I think by now it is obvious to everyone that I'm not a fan of Robert Gherson, preferring Brent Krahn and Dan Turple. But Krahn is out on injury and is also not a property of the Atlanta Thrashers. Turple looks better than Gherson but isn't getting it together.

The situation in goal for the Wolves is tough, the defense is inexperienced. There is hope, with Chad Denny and others, but defense is like a good stew, it takes time to mature. I'm thinking next season these guys will be where they need to be, which is to say, they'll be ready to move up to Atlanta when there is an injury. Then Chicago will have a good defense.

Unlike in previous years, the Wolves are responding to poor defense with some discipline in net. At this point, I'd be happy with the team making the cut for the playoffs. Better discipline is just not going to be enough to carry this team along.

Bad night for Hogs, Wolves

The Milwaukee Admirals scored just 12 seconds into the game against the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night at the MetroCentre. Following the initial goal, the Hogs came back with 4:01 remaining in the period to tie the game: Rob Klinkhammer scoring off a pass. But the Admirals put bookends on the period with a goal with just 40 seconds remaining.

A second period goal by Dan Bertram tied the game. However the final period didn't go the way the Hogs hoped, with two goals unanswered by the MAds. The final score was 4-2 in favor of the Admirals.

Niklas Hjalmarsson was credited with two assists on the night for the Hogs. Ryan Jones and Mike Santorelli had a goal and an assist each for the Admirals.

The final game for the two teams prior to the All-Star Break, the Hogs gave up just two power plays to the Admirals. The Admirals gave up four power plays. Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots on goal for the Hogs, and Drew MacIntyre 31 shots for the Admirals. Shots on goal: 35 for Milwaukee and 33 for the Hogs. This was a test of two equals and Milwaukee came out on top in a packed house in Rockford.

In Toronto, the Marlies beat the Wolves 3-1 at the Ricoh Coliseum. Chicago scored first on a power play, 2:30 into the game. However, from that point on, the only thing in the net was off a Marlies stick. It was another disappointing night for Chicago shooting, as they only put 22 shots on the Toronto goal. Ondrej Pavelec, returning to his first night in goal since an injury sidelined him, stopped 33 Marlies shots and six power play opportunities.

Wolves television analyst Billy Gardner did not call the Saturday game. His father, who still lives in Southern Ontario, is seriously ill. Gardner seized the opportunity to spend time with him. Gardner was replaced by Dan Turple, Tyson Marsh and Gene Ubriaco.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Western Division matchup tonight: MetroCentre

A key showdown tonight in the West Division is the game between the Rockford IceHogs and the Milwaukee Admirals. The Hogs are 2-1-1 in the series, while the Admirals are 2-2. The out of regulation loss for the Hogs was a shootout.

The Ads have been hot all season, cleaning up the West, challenging to stand atop the entire league in the standings. However, the Hogs have not been an easy team for them to figure out, as shown by the record above. As the fans and the teams enter the back stretch of the season, there will be five more contests between these two teams by mid-April. My prediction is that these will be the final two teams standing in the West Division, and the winner probably in the North Conference as well.

Corey Crawford is riding the tiger at the moment. He'll have a bit of a rest due to the American Hockey League All-Star break. So, put him in against vet goalie Drew MacIntyre. Let's see some blood on the ice as the Hogs face a Milwaukee team that has embraced a style of play that is very disciplined, only 748 penalty minutes this season so far. Placing it 24th among the 29 AHL teams. Yowza!

Hogs put bite on Chops

In the second part of a home and home series, the Rockford IceHogs returned the favor and defeated the Iowa Chops 6-4 Friday in play at the MetroCentre. Corey Crawford put on a show, keeping the Hogs in the battle as the Chops blistered the goalie with 37 shots on goal and four power plays, keeping them to just two goals.

Meanwhile the Rockford offense went one for four on power plays, putting 27 shots on goal, but six past David LeNeveu.

Rockford took the lead in the first frame with a Dan Bertram goal with 8:23 remaining. Although Ryan Donally tied the score with 6:46 remaining, Rockford replied with a power play goal by Adam Pineault. From there, things went into the tank for the Chops as the Hogs scored twice more in the second frame, interrupted by an Chops goal with 1:03 remaining in the second, and two more Hogs goals in the third.

Jake Dowell and Pineault had a goal and an assist each while two assists were notched by Petri Kontiola. Danny Groulx went +3 on the night. For Iowa, T J Trevelyan put seven shots on goal with one goal, teammate Troy Brodie had six shots on goal.

Pineault, who was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Mike Blunden January 10, is in his seventh game for the Hogs.

Bulldogs break Wolves win streak at three

A 3-2 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs ended a three game winning streak for the Chicago Wolves. The game, Friday at the Copps Coliseum, saw the Bulldogs open the first period with a 2-0 lead over the Wolves.

Robert Gherson, the Wolves goalie, deflected a power play shot by Yannick Weber into the back boards. However it got lost in a melee in front of the net, going from David Desharnais to Mike Glumac and then past Gherson into the net. Later in the period, while Chicago was on the power play, Yanick Lehoux made a break away attack. Gherson left the crease to poke check the puck, missing he lost a race to block a shot by Steve Gainey.

Jeff Hamilton was able to cut the lead to one in the second period when Chicago was on the power play. Ryan O'Byrne gave the Bulldogs insurance to their win, when with 4:56 left to play, he scored from the blue line. Steve Martins was able to bring the Wolves back to within one with a goal with 2:36 remaining. The Wolves emptied the net with a less than a minute to play, but were unable to use the advantage to send the game into overtime.

Gherson stopped 17 shots on goal for the loss. Hamilton goalie Cedrick Desjardins stopped 25 shots on goal for the win. Clay Wilson, in his third game with the Wolves, notched assists on both goals.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chops take bite out of Hogs

The Iowa Chops took a 4-3 bite out of the Rockford IceHogs in action at the Wells Fargo Arena of Des Moines, Ia. last night. The Hogs started strong, putting eleven shots on the Chops, finally culminating in a goal by Mike Radja mid-way in the first period. The Iowa blog describes a “nasty” first period fight between Brennan Turner and Ryan Donally. This is one of the best play-by-play blogs out there in the West Division. However, the Chops returned in the second part of the period, evening up the shots on goal. A long power play by the Hogs was unable to score, as they received a 5:4 advantage for 2:21, before they gave up a pair of penalties for two 5:4 power plays to end the period.

In the second frame, T.J. Trevelyan scored on the starting power play a minute into the period, followed at the 8:27 mark by a turnover goal again by Trevelyan. The IceHogs managed to tie the game 27 seconds later on a goal by Nathan Davis. But the period ended in a disaster for the Rockford team as Niemi gave up two goals in the last minute of play.

In the final frame, Corey Crawford substituted for Antti Niemi. During a power play, Trevelyan blasted Crawford, attempting to get his hat trick. However, it was Pascal Pelletier who found the back of the net instead, putting Rockford within one of the Chops. In the final ten minutes, a Rockford power play and an empty net gave a 6:4 advantage to the Hogs for 2:04. David LeNeveu made some highlight efforts, according to the Iowa blog, to hold the line. LeNeveu stopped 25 shots on goal. Niemi recorded 17 saves while Crawford recorded seven. The Rockford power play went 0 for 6 on the night.

Mike Radja had six shots on goal for the evening, while Danny Groulx and Pascal Pelletier had five each. Davis had a goal and an assist while Groulx marked two points on the evening.

In Milwaukee, last night, Hugh Jessiman had a power play goal, an even strength goal and an empty net goal for a hat trick. The Milwaukee Admirals spanked the Quad City Flames 4-0 in the win. In other news, the Chicago Blackhawks recalled Niklas Hjalmarsson, a blue liner, from the IceHogs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hogs win in matinee OT

An overtime goal put the Rockford IceHogs over the Grand Rapids Griffins 2-1 in a special matinée game held at the MetroCentre yesterday. Griffins captain Darren Haydar uncorked a short handed goal early in the second frame to open the scoring, followed by a power play goal by Petri Kontiola at the 8:29 mark of the period.

Antti Niemi held the Griffins to one goal in regulation play and scoreless in four power play attempts, stopping a total of 23 shots. Daniel Larson stopped 32 shots on goal for the Grifs. The game winning goal was launched by Andrew Archer.

Kontiola received two points for the game. Evan Brophey had six shots on goal while Dan Bertram and Pascal Pelletier had five shots each. The win broke a three game drought for the IceHogs.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Next year's class

[Response to Jane Rickard at ChiTownDailyNews.]

Jane, I'll take my butch slap in a graceful manner. You are right that there are players on the Wolves who can still go up to Atlanta this year. Jordan LaVallee and Brent Sterling come to mind. Brent had a shot at the Thrashers last year. I'm not certain why they felt he didn't make the grade. I think we'll see him move on to another organization that is more accepting of smaller players and perhaps find a slot in the NHL. LaVallee is certainly very good. AAAA good. He's also young and it would be wonderful to see him make the move to the big ice too.

The other players are sort of “next year's class.” They will probably be developed by the end of the season and will move to the National Hockey League over the next two years as vacancies occur in the Atlanta roster. I didn't really go that deep into the roster in my discussion about the team.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

IceHogs: their year to shine

To all appearances, Don Granato played Jeff Hamilton for at least three solid minutes at the tail end of the Saturday night win over the Quad City Flames. It begs the question why? What appears to have happened was that Hamilton, entering the bottom of the frame with two goals, was just a goal shy of a hat trick. And, Granato saw an opportunity for Hamilton as the man advantage moved more and more to the Wolves due to penalties. Granted a goal by any of the Wolves in the final minute and the overtime, would have been a win. But it appears as though Granato allowed his interest in Hamilton scoring a hat trick to prevail over his interest in winning a game.

This is a big difference from previous years under John Anderson. Anderson almost seemed to remove players who had two goals from play, preventing them from trying to score a hat trick. It was maddening. There were lots of games last year and the previous year when I really wanted him to stick with a player and let them have an opportunity to get a hat trick.

He wouldn't do it. He was focused on winning the game.

Now we have a new sheriff in town. Sure, I've been watching for the past five months. I've seen the lines change and been wondering when the team would jell with a respectable power play or a decent penalty kill. But until the slump that started around the holidays, the team was in the thick of the run. Even with the slump, the team is just five points from second place. A good run and the team becomes competitive for a playoff spot.

But, it's a fragile thing. I know a hat trick win would push the team. I know that Brian Sipotz, scoring his ninth professional goal and second goal of the season could be turned into the player he was last year. Yet, I want to be sure the team has the two points in the bag. Like Anderson, I would have played for the two points, not the hat trick.

As we move into the halfway point of the regular season, it wouldn't surprise me to see this team fail to make the playoffs this season. The best of last year have either been absorbed by the Atlanta Thrashers or have moved on to other clubs. Of all the players on the ice, the only obvious choice to move into the National Hockey League is Ondrej Pavelec. And Pavelec is injured. Brett Krahn could perhaps stage a move too, but he isn't the property of the Wolves or the Thrashers. If he did make a move, he'd be back with his parent club.

The team on the ice is respectable, don't take it that I don't like them. Steve Martins and Colin Stuart in particular are clearly playing with a lot of heart. Both are AAAA players. And, Stuart might still find a place in the NHL.

Over the years as a Wolves fan, I've felt that the aim of the team and of the management was to win Calder Cups, to hang Championship Banners and to wear Championship rings. The recent history of the American Hockey League is that the winner of the Calder often suffers a poor following year.

I'd like another Calder victory for the Wolves. But this year, I'd be happy if the team made it to the second round of the playoffs. The spirit is there, but the skill is a bit short. For evidence, take a look at the power play and the penalty kill.

Over in Rockford, I'm watching a team that would have won the Calder last year except for one obstacle, the Wolves. The IceHogs, rebuilt by Chicago Blackhawks prospects and with a superior pair in the pipes, could go all the way. Last night they lost Jack Skille, who apparently suffered a concussion from a hit.

It's a serious blow. Skille is very close to making it to the NHL. Skille, Corey Crawford, Antti Niemi, Pascal Pelletier, Evan Brophey, Jimmy Sharrow, Petri Kontiola and Mike Radja may all wear Indian heads. Compare those seven names to the single name I've put forward for the Wolves: Pavelec. This looks like the Hogs year to shine.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

IceHogs can't catch Grifs; dominate game, but still lose

The Rockford IceHogs dropped their third consecutive home stand game, 3-2 against the Grand Rapids Griffins tonight at the MetroCentre. The Hogs shot everything they had at Griffins goalie Jimmy Howard who stopped 24 shots on goal. In the third period, the Hogs dominated the ice, out shooting the Griffins 9:3, but were able to find the twine only once. Jack Skille, injured in the Friday night game against the Chicago Wolves, was a scratch. Corey Crawford stopped 16 shots on goal but it wasn't enough.

Wolves smother Flames 4-3 in OT

The Chicago Wolves chalked their third consecutive win with a 4-3 overtime win over the Quad City Flames at the Allstate Arena tonight. Quad City took a fast lead, with a goal at 19 seconds into the game when Brett Palin rebounded a shot on Robert Gherson. However the Wolves Jeff Hamilton broke away with the puck just 32 seconds later and was fouled. Awarded a penalty shot, Hamilton faked QC goalie Matt Keetley for the tie goal.

The action continued to be hot as just at the 2:23 mark J.D. Watt and Scott Lehman got into an altercation that lasted nearly a minute before they were broken up. Twelve power plays were awarded in the evening, with the Wolves going three for eight and the Flames going one for four. Hamilton's second goal of the night, early in the second period on the power play tied the game. Then a goal by blue liner Brian Sipotz, also on the power play, put the Wolves ahead.

It was Sipotz's second goal of the season and his ninth professional goal. The Flames traded goalies at that point, putting Leland Irving in for Keetley. However, Kyle Greentree turned a shot on Sipotz for a goal to tie the game during a late second period power play.

Late in the third period, the Flames were hit with three penalties, allowing Chicago to have a 5:3 advantage for 1:59, including a minute of overtime. It was all that was needed as Brett Sterling rebounded a shot from Hamilton past Irving for the win.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wolves Power over IceHogs 3-2

The Chicago Wolves chalked their first regulation win of the year with a 3-2 score against the Rockford IceHogs at the MetroCentre tonight. The Wolves scored on two of five power play attempts, reversing recent problems with the power play. Joe Motzko and Jeff Hamilton had a goal and two assists each. Hamilton had seven shots on goal.

After a late first period goal put the Hogs in front, the Wolves tied in the second before the mid-point of the period. At the end of the frame, the Hogs allowed a 5:3 advantage to the Wolves. The Wolves capitalized on it with a power play goal, taking a permanent lead. Then, a minute into the final frame, the Wolves, still on the same power play, now 5:4, scored again. The Wolves have scored 11 of their 29 power play goals against the Hogs this season.

"Our transition game dried up on us," said IceHogs' coach Bill Peters. "I thought we quit making plays as the game went along and we had a hard time moving the puck. We left the puck on the wall a lot and didn't make our plays."
A late attempt to tie the score was held back by the Wolves for their win. Robert Gherson made 25 saves for the win. Antti Niemi had 30 saves in his loss. The Hogs' Pascal Pelletier had five shots on goal and a goal.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wolves end losing streak with shootout win

The Chicago Wolves won their first game of the new year, taking the Toronto Marlies 3-2 in a shootout last night at the Allstate Arena. Robert Gherson stopped 23 shots on goal and Jeff Hamilton put seven shots on goal in the effort. Jordan LaVallee notched a goal and an assist, leading the Wolves effort.

Chicago went 0 for nine on the power play in the night. The two teams traded power plays back and forth, a total of 14 power plays during the game. A long series of power plays allowed the two teams to trade the numerical advantage on the ice starting at 12:18 into the first period with a Marlies power play and ending five minutes and four power plays later, when a Wolves power play expired at 17:18.

In the overtime period Chicago received another advantage with 2:44 remaining when Alex Foster was given a double minor. Despite six shots on goal for the period Chicago was unable to score and the game was sent into a shootout.

Brett Skinner, new acquired by Atlanta from the New York Islanders for Junior Lessard, notched one of the shootout goals and had an assist on the night. The other new addition, Clay Wilson, did not see action. The last time Chicago put a streak of two wins together ended December 18. In between it lost ten games, winning just three.

Chicago is 4-1 in shootouts this season. It is also 1-2 on extra time victories, giving it a winning record of 5-3 if the game goes beyond regulation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

IceHogs lose to Rampage 4-2

The Rockford IceHogs, AAA affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, suffered only their second loss in seven games last night as the San Antonio Rampage put them down 4-2 at the MetroCentre. The Rampage enjoyed two power play goals and an empty net goal on their way to the win. It was Corey Crawford's sixth regulation loss of the season. He is currently 12-6-2.

Adam Pineault blistered Rampage goalie Josh Tordjman with six shots on goal, but was unable to find the twine. Pascal Pelletier and Jack Skille each had a goal and an assist.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wolves chalk up another loss; 4-1 to Aeros. Now 8 L in 9 Games

The Chicago Wolves made it eight losses in nine games as the Houston Aeros took the Wolves down 4-1 at the Allstate Arena Sunday evening. Aeros goalie Nolan Schaefer kept the Aeros in the game with 24 saves while the Aeros offense took the Wolves apart on the other side of the rink. Although Dan Turple stopped 22 shots on goal, it wasn't enough as the firepower of the Aeros overwhelmed the Chicago defense.

Chicago's power play continued to sputter this evening, with only one power play goal following a 5:3 advantage late in the first period. As the power play continued, 5:4, two Aeros defenders lost their sticks as the Wolves puttered in the neutral zone. When the attack finally came, it fizzled out.

Spencer Machacek for the Wolves, Corey Locke and Matt Beaudoin for the Aeros each put five shots on goal and were credited with a goal each. Beaudoin's goal being an empty net effort. The Aeros Peter Olvecky was credited with three assists on the night.

Another Wolves loss; another Hogs win

Another loss for the Chicago Wolves, this time to the Peoria Rivermen, 3-2, in action at the Allstate Arena Saturday night. It was the Wolves seventh loss in eight games. Peoria won the contest putting only 17 shots on goal, only one in the final period of play, as Wolves goalie Robert Gherson only notched 14 saves on the evening. Atlanta Thrashers prospect Brett Sterling was blanked, though he put five shots on goal. The Wolves power play, 28th in the league at 12.1 percent, sputtered again last night, being held scoreless.

Meanwhile in Rockford, the IceHogs enjoyed a 1-0 over the Toronto Marlies last night. Scoring on an Evan Brophy goal early in the first frame, the Hogs held the Marlies down for the win. It was Corey Crawford's first shutout of the season. The team indicated it will be riding the hot hand in its next outing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dear Hockey Dad

The following is in response to a comment
Dear Hockey Dad,

I've been talking to my wife (Jane Rickard, of the Powderhornhockey site) and others about your comments since I received them. She has separate knowledge about the game. I want to send the comments to some friends in the NHL, the OHL and the AHL too. Hopefully they will also respond. My concern is that I was never exposed to the juniors and don't write about them. What you're asking about is an issue with the juniors. However, I want to take the comments seriously and comment on them with what knowledge I have, however poor.

First, I don't want to comment on Okanagan Hockey. I'm not knowledgeable about juniors to that degree. I have some advice on this later.

As a parent, I share your concern about the future of your child. I am surmising, from your letter, that you do not have any hockey experience yourself in juniors or college. The world of junior hockey, with its camps and sending children away to work with a team, a family of hosts who care for your child. This is very strange to those of us from the US. You need to get in contact with people who have these experiences. There are parents, former players (now adults) and hosts who will be glad to talk to you about what to expect. One of the most outspoken people I've met on this is an NHL coach. There are people all over the system who will talk to you. You need different viewpoints. You obviously don't know what to expect and don't know where to turn, if you're writing me. LOL.

Ask for help. The worst that will happen is people won't respond. I think if you explain why you are asking you'll receive a tremendous outpouring of love and support.

It is important that you be educated in what to expect. From my discussions, the coach should be open to talking to you about your child. He should be able to explain what he expects of your child and what he is offering your child. If, for example, he says that he expects your child to play third line, and he doesn't, he should be able to discuss with you why that is happening. A good answer might be that your child is not applying his talents. That's sort of like not studying.

Host families should also be open, in the same manner, to open discussion. They are going to be surrogate parents for your children for most of the year. How many other players are they hosting? What is the age difference? What is their philosophy about religion, spirituality, schooling and discipline? Think about how you'd answer these questions before you ask them. I assume that hosts have considered these ideas, but they might hesitate if they are new.

Your child is taking a huge step towards their independence. And the years of love and care you've given them will be tested. Most children in the US and Canada are not tested like this for another four years, when they are 18. They will be exposed to drugs, alcohol, sex and crime.

Let's not make the mistake of thinking that if you kept them home they wouldn't be exposed to these things. High school is almost defined by these things, in any community in the country. The value system you've given them will be tested whether away or home. For the most part, I felt that years of being able to talk to my child paid off big when she entered high school.

Thinking back to my own high school days, I think that the weaknesses of my family became the weaknesses I had to deal with. Alcohol was a problem in the family and it was a problem in high school and college. There was a lack of personal relationship in the family, caused by a hierarchical structure. That survived to poor relationships with my girlfriends and first wife. It really seemed true, in my case, that the sins of the father were visited upon the son. Time for some reflection. These are hard issues to deal with in yourself, and your child.

Someone has suggested the OHA to you or your son. If you want to find other schools, there are some good publications. Everyone has a bias, my favorite hockey publication is the Hockey News. Here in Illinois we have a local publication just for juniors. I find it in the sports equipment stores that sell to kids.

Now, is there nepotism in hockey? HELL YES. It seems to exist on every level and every position in the sport from the guy driving the ice surfacing machine to the coaches. It can be profoundly disturbing. I'm thinking of the appointment of Frasier relatives to positions as on-ice officials in the pros. There is also such good ole' boy networks throughout life. Help your child recognize it is human nature and to use it for his advantage.

Now the last thing I wanted to add popped into my head as I was watching ESPN's Outside the Lines last week. Perhaps you saw the story of the high school football player who claimed he was recruited by Cal? There is a lot of pressure on children to succeed. This led in Nevada to an issue where the young man felt he had to hide his failure to be recruited from his parents, his school and his coaches. A county standout, he wasn't good enough for the PAC-10. But he told his school and the local press he was headed to play for California.

The situation happened in part because no one around him, including his coaches, but especially his parents, had the experience to know how a college recruits athletes. John Anderson, now the coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, and a parent of a child in the juniors, told me that a parent has to be the biggest and the best advocate for their child in this system. Get educated and stay in touch with everyone.

There was an article in the Hockey News this season. I remember it as saying that Sidney Crosby's parents putting together the cost of bringing Crosby to the level of expertise he is at. Now, I might be wrong about the player, I can't locate the article. However there were a number of important facts. First, his parents owned auto dealerships. That allowed them the wealth and the freedom to support their child. They were at every home game and many away games. They sent the child to two camps each year during off-season. They spent $160,000 over the years on equipment, training and education.

There are only about 600 professional NHL athletes in North America. About another 600 in the minors earn maybe $75,000 a year. After that, their parents support them. In Europe, I'm not sure of the numbers, but there is greater income and there are more teams, but you need to include the European population, including of Russia and parts of the former Soviet Union. You can easily see that there are just a few thousand jobs. Easily less than 3,000, worldwide.

There are hundreds of thousands of children in the hockey system. While hockey is a game that your children will likely enjoy for many years, unlike football, people are playing it well into their middle years, the culling in professional athletes is chilling.

Now, it will probably cost me or my daughter about $160,000 in education and other costs to make her an expert in her field. The cost of medical school, to be a lawyer, a manager or many other positions, approaches $160K from one side or the other. But it is a tremendous sacrifice of your time and your wealth for your child. Unlike the dentist, at the end of the line, a coach will be faced with a prospect camp of young adults, perhaps 50 of them. One will be given a professional position in the minors.

Hogs pick another off Wolves, 3-1

Yet another loss for the Chicago Wolves to the Rockford IceHogs, 3-1, on a snowy Friday night at the Rockford MetroCentre dropped the Chicago Wolves to sixth place in the Western Division. In the crazy tight field of the West, that is only three points out of second place. In turn, the Hogs are now tied for second in the division.

The blogs correspondent in Rockford, Kris Gray, summed up the situation facing the Wolves this year: “Wow. Chicago just isn't the same (team) we played last year.” The Wolves have now dropped the last six games and seven of the last eight games. Since December 6th, they have faced the Rockford IceHogs seven times, Rockford has won five of those contests.

Blackhawks prospect Jordan Hendry sustained a knee injury in the third period, according to post-game radio discussions. However, Gray, an RN, reports from the game that it appeared to be a knee injury. Robert Gherson is back in net for the Wolves as Brent Krahn is reported to be ill. He gave up two goals on 35 shots. Corey Crawford for the Hogs, had 34 saves, giving up one. An empty net tally by Jack Skille ended the Wolves hopes for additional time.

Spencer Machacek had a power play goal for the Wolves, and tallied six shots on goal. For the IceHogs, Skille had six shots on goal and two points. Pete MacArthur also tallied six shots on goal. Former Wolves blue liner Jimmie Sharrow now skates in a Hogs sweater, he had a goal also.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Rampage over the Wolves 5-3

The Chicago Wolves fell 5-3 to the San Antonio Rampage Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena. It was the fourth loss in a row for the Wolves, and their sixth loss in the last seven games. As in seasons past, the Wolves are in a post-holiday slump.

However the loss to the Rampage must be especially galling. First, the Chicago Blackhawks spanked the NHL affiliate Phoenix Coyotes 6-0 earlier in the week. But even just in the AAA, the Wolves have given more points to the Rampage than any other team, with a record of 3-3 this season. The Rampage would be circling the drain if it weren't for the Wolves. Their record is 28th out of the 29 teams. The win on Wednesday allows them a four point cushion on the league last place Rochester Americans.

The Wolves chance to take the game was probably blown during a 5:3 power play late in the first period. Granted that Rampage goalie Josh Tordjman is a worthy opponent, the opposition he faced in the bottom of the first frame was like the Keystone Cops.

Joe Motzko, who really is an on-ice leader, had two bad minutes on the ice that seemed to seal the deal for the Rampage, starting with a broken stick, then two whiffs that puttered behind the net. Finally, after his teammates gave him yet another chance to redeem himself, he put a pass to... well his own goalie, from behind the San Antonio goal.

It sailed clear down ice from one goal line nearly to the other. It was dismal.

And while the Chicago power play was 0 for five, the Rampage power play was three for seven. An empty net goal, was the final insult.

If we continue to beat the horse a bit, I'll note that while Alex Brooks was tough in front of the Wolves goal, refusing entry to Rampage probes, veteran blue liner Brian Sipotz didn't seem to mind having Rampage players insert themselves between him and his goal. His checks were lack luster, I've been struggling in the past month to identify what Sipotz is adding to the game.

On a positive note Brett Sterling had a spectacular goal in the third frame. It put the team within one and held the promise that something could be rescued from the game.

Griffins out shoot the Hogs 6-5

In Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs, AAA affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, lost 6-5 in a shootout to the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Van Andel Arena. The Hogs went 0 for six on the power play in a game that featured 88 shots on the goals.

Blackhawks prospect Antti Niemi was shelled from the net in the first ten minutes, giving up four goals on eight shots on goal. In his relief, Corey Crawford stopped 37 shots on goal, giving up one goal. Coming from this deficit, the Hogs scored two goals in the first frame, another in the second and two more in the third frame to tie the game in regulation. However the team wasn't able to find the twine again until the shootout when they were out gunned by the Griffins.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hot Paws; Hot Paws

Skates, the Chicago Wolves mascot, is a key feature of the pregame show at the Allstate Arena. On Jane Rickard's outside blog, powderhornhockey.blogspot.com, you can see Jane's photo of Skates igniting fireworks from his paws.

Occasionally the fireworks don't fire. We call it a hot paw, I'm not sure what Skates calls it. But, the occasion of a misfire, or a hot paw, seems to be a bad omen for the Wolves. As noted earlier this weekend, the Wolves lost to the Rockford IceHogs in a close game that featured the hot paw.

We'll be watching for more hot paws and reporting on the game results that night.

IceHogs spank Wolves for 3rd time in 2 weeks; 6-4

A wild Saturday night in Rockford's MetroCentre gave the Chicago Wolves yet another loss at the hands of the Rockford IceHogs, as the Hogs won their third game against the Wolves in ten days, 6-4.

Pascal Pelletier scored a hat trick and an assist in a game that saw both goalies replaced in net. Starting for the Wolves, Brent Krahn was replaced by Dan Turple after he gave up his fourth goal of the night before the halfway mark of the game. Pelletier scored two goals divided by Petri Kontiola and Jack Skille's goals. Krahn stopped just six of the shots on goal in his roughly 27 minutes in net.

Yet, this was followed by a Wolves offensive, as 16 shots on goal in the second frame put three goals past Corey Crawford in less than five minutes. Antti Niemi then stopped the Wolves cold in the third period. Pelletier's hat trick forced the Wolves to pull Dan Turple for a man advantage with less than a minute remaining. Rob Klinkhammer put the final goal in the empty net to seal the day for the Hogs. It was a notable empty net goal because it occurred during a penalty kill, in other words the Hogs were fighting a 6:4 advantage.

Zach Bogosian was credited with a blistering six shots on goal and a power play goal in the fracas. But Pelletier beat even that high mark, with his seven shots on goal. Skille picked up two assist for a total of three points for the evening.

The win tightens the Western Division race for second place. The Milwaukee Admirals have run away with first place, with 50 points and a game in hand over all their opponents. They have won 15 points in the last 8 eights. At 42 points, Peoria and Iowa are just a point ahead of the fourth place teams of Rockford, Chicago and Houston. Chicago meets San Antonio mid-week before yet another game, the fourth in two weeks, against the Rockford IceHogs on Friday in Rockford's MetroCentre.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Crawford posts 100th pro win

The Rockford IceHogs defeated the Chicago Wolves 3-2 tonight at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The game, a goalie battle between Chicago Blackhawks prospect Corey Crawford and Brent Krahn was finally won by the Hogs in the final minute of play when Rob Klinkhammer maneuvered between Krahn and his defense. Then holding the puck, he waited for Krahn to commit before sliding the puck into the twine.

Crawford, who won the game and stopped 34 shots on goal, only received the second star of the game. The first star was won by the losing goalie, Krahn. It was the 100th professional victory for Crawford. Someone really fouled up the stars of the game on this one.

Klinkhammer scored two goals for the Hogs. He is credited with five shots on goal for the night. The other Hog goal was scored by Evan Brophey. Danny Groulx also had a good night, putting two assists up.

The Wolves defense was working against a Hogs offense that seemed to have Krahn's weakness. Each of the three Rockford goals was the result of getting inside the defense and then having Krahn commit early. To be fair to Krahn, defending a goal, when the defense has been outmaneuvered, is very difficult. Still, why is he committing so soon? This game is part of a home and home series. The two teams play again in Rockford's MetroCentre tomorrow evening.

Winter Classic in review

Where do we go from here? The Winter Classic was an unqualified success. The City of Chicago, despite the political issues in the state, looked great. That alone was quite a feat for winter around here. And the game was great, except for the win by Detroit.

I would have liked to see the venue, which will be used through the weekend by neighbors, used for a college or junior event. I think it is too much to wish the AHL were able to use the venue too this weekend. A match in Wrigley between the Chicago Wolves and the Chicago Blackhawks affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, with the IceHogs the home team in Wrigley, would be amazing and give a boost to the minor league teams in this area.

The University of Notre Dame or one of the great schools in Michigan that produce great hockey players could have used the venue this weekend. The Chicago Steel, our junior team based in Bensenville. The list goes on.

The Chicago Blackhawks, under Bill Wirtz, almost killed hockey in this town. Less than 15 months after Bill Wirtz's death and the vitality of the franchise and the sport are renewed. This is an exciting hockey town again, with a Calder Cup champion playing in Rosemont and an NHL team finally in the hunt.

And that hunt made the game itself interesting. This wasn't a throw-away match. The two points were important to the Chicago Blackhawks.

I also loved the detail that the game was part of a home and home series. What is clear, however, is that the players need to be here for several days before the game is played. The media needs the players for stories. As a blogger, we had to work around that. We assumed we wouldn't have access and worked to find stories that were not in control of the NHL and the Blackhawks.

The venue itself only sat 41,000 or so people. Was that a bad thing? The fans were close to the action. They were letting go with the roar that once rocked the Chicago Stadium. The only thing missing was a light snow, make a note to mother nature that she gets an A- due to no snow falling.

The size of the venue isn't important if the story, the romance, is there. Jane would say I'm talking about the cheese. And cheese sells.

For Chicago, and for this region, this was a great moment. Although I sat at home watching, the work done before the game, the three articles in our special report and Jane Rickard's photography will always remain with me. I learned more about concussions, rooftops and the Bears than I think I had in total prior to this event. Still, it would have been nice for the team to recognize bloggers with a special event for them.

I expect this event will park Chicago in an enviable position versus the competing cities for the Olympic bid. The city, in the midst of a storm and the holidays, looked great. I've always told potential visitors to stay away in the winter. This winter event proved me wrong.

So, what next for the Winter Classic? Fenway or a New York venue? Like many others, I think the WC will not be held in Canada, perhaps excepting Toronto or Montreal, but not anywhere else for the moment. By which I mean for many years. A decade? This event is the primo NHL event of the season until the playoffs. The TV audience hasn't been announced, but it has to be huge. It needs to go somewhere like Wrigley or Rich Stadium again. It needs romance, good fortune, cheese and a great game.

For the last two seasons it has had that going for it. So, romantic venue, two teams that are struggling against each other and have a history, the cooperation of mother nature... Your guess of what is next is as good as mine. But I look forward to next New Year's Day.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Winter Classic 19; final Hawks 4, Wings 6 update

This should be the final entry of the game. If you've been reading, thanks and Happy New Year. There are less than two minutes remaining in the game now.

Now 1:30 remaining. No OT this year. Wings in some confusion in front of their net. But Conklin stops it again. Now less than a minute remaining. Looking at this game I have to think that the way to see this game would be from the rooftops. it would be slightly more expensive, at $300.oo USD each. But, you are warmer or at least can stay warm.

A last moment goal by the Hawks. Keith pots one into the twine after getting fed from the faceoff. Anyway that was a great game to watch.

The players are doing a playoff lineup, saluting the fans. Very nice. Gotta give my MVP to Havlat. I'll update in a few minutes as I listen in on the final interviews with the players and coaches.

Well, not much to say from the ending interviews. Just the road to the Stanley runs through Detroit. I guess that is another hockey cliche we'll have to live with.

Winter Classic 18 update

Well, those two goals have driven Huet from the pipes. The Hawks have brought in Khabibulen.

That's gotta hurt the Hawks in the head if nothing else. Their talking about the shadows on the field. I can't see any on the TV and the outside is still pretty cloudy.

The Hawks are finally putting some people in Conklin's face. But, it's no good, he's stopping everything. I don't know how they'll handle this change in nets that is coming up in about three minutes. A time out?

The stands look full again. Shot clock is greatly in the Wings favor, according to the announcer. I guess the score shows that too. And there is the ten minute mark. I guess they're waiting for a break in play and they'll switch sides.

Khabibulen way out of the net, almost on the blue line, playing the puck. The goalies have been playing the puck to cut the angle in this game. There haven't been as many funny bounces as there was in the game last year. The temperature here in Chicago is about right for outdoor games and the ice and the air are both at about the right temperature.

This is a long time without a whistle. Now going on more than two minutes. And there is the whistle. Some of the old hawks are singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame..." Mikita, Hull, Savard and some others.

TMI, the TV tells us that Conklin took a "potty break" during the commercial. Oh god, shut up and sit down already.

The game is going back and forth again. Remember that the Hawks are now down wind. Lot's of stuff written on the wind at Wrigley. I'm not sure what direction it is coming from, I assume from the Northwest? If it was coming off the lake we'd see some lake effect snow, yep, northwest. The wind can be variable around here, even just two miles away. (Did I say a mile earlier?)

Winter Classic 17; Wings 6, yes 6, Hawks 3

Third period. Detroit in the lead by one goal. The teams will be trading sides after ten minutes, so the Hawks have ten minutes to catch the lead and hold it or the game is probably over.

Puck drop.

Wisniewski has been called for holding. Wings on the advantage. Five hole goal. Rafalski from the circle and in traffic. I'm still writing and they get another. NO wait, it's been called off. Let me see what the heck happened here...

I can't see what happened. They had Huet dead to rights. It bumped the cross bar, it didn't cross the goal line, wait the review is showing the net was struck. They're sending it to review but it should count...

It might be... It could be... It is a GOAL. 17 seconds between those goals. The second by Lebda.

Winter Classic 16; end of 2, Detroit 4, Chicago 3

It looks like the wind did have an effect on the game as most of the goals have the wind behind them. Now the announcer is saying the same thing. That could be bad for the Wings in the final period of play. Minute remaining in second frame. And, that's another 20 in the record book.

Winter Classic 15; Wings take lead 4-3

WOW. Datsyuk drives in from the center ice, eludes two Hawks, fooled Huet and GOAL. Fabulous. About three minutes left in the period.

Winter Classic 14; Game tied at 3 each

Brower checks Hossa into Huet, then seconds into the Hawk Power Play Toews gets called for a high sticking. Lots of open and slow ice. Flow of the game is still back and forth.

End of the 4:4 and the short advantage. Lebda fires into Huet, Huet loses sight of it but saves it anyway. According to the TV, the Wings have discovered some type of blindness on the part of Huet.

Campbell trips Hudeler on a drive to the net. He knocks the net off and there is another Detroit advantage.

Lots of people in front of Huet but the Hawks clear it down ice. About 35 seconds left and the Hawks have cleared it again. Datsyuk finally gets a shot on goal with a few seconds remaining. Still lots of red in front of that net. One, two, three attempts and GOAL for Hudler as he hammers it home. Huet out of position again. Just too much red out there and not enough black.

Winter Classic 13; Hawks 3, Wings 2

Interperiod piece on the team's trip to the Tallon family funeral. Bob Costas points out that the last time a game between Detroit and Chicago was so important was the last baseball World Series played by the Cubs, against the Detroit Tigers during World War 2. Very nice and shows why Costas is such a good announcer or at least shows he's got good research.

Cantore appears again. He's now on a rooftop and has his head painted. Ummm... I just don't know what to say about that. The fans are pretty empty. I'm sure the fans are hiding in whatever shelter is available at the field. The teams are coming back and we're about to go back to the game.

The wind is now blowing into the face of Huet. We'll see if the wind is the reason for the Hawk lead. Hossa gets a feed from behind the net. He takes a quick shot from about 20 feet in front of the net. The rebound is picked up by Hudler, he has an open net as Huet is out of position. GOAL

Just not enough defense out there. Nice moves and a good bounce for Detroit. Nice goal.

Winter Classic 12; Hawks 3, WIngs 1 at end of 1

Hawks are now in power play again after a retalitory hit by Lilja. THere are about 6:40 left in the period. Boy, the shots of the Detroit goal, with the Wrigley score baord in the background, are fantastic. A lot of attacks on the Wings, Wings clear it down, behind the WIngs net. Keith taking a shot, pad stop then the puck is cleared down ice again.

Wings break away on a rush, have a 3:2, shot, trailing Wing gets a shot, and the power play expires. About two minutes left in the period. Nice save by Conklin as the possession is going back and forth. Things seems pretty evenly matched at the moment. Walker takes a shot and there is just a minute left in the period Eager shoots, can't score, then behind the net. He's fighting for it with Lilja. Eager wraps around on the right side, but Conklin goes left! SCORE!

Winter Classic 11 Hawks 2, Wings 1

The Hawks have a Power Play. Brett Lebda for delay of game. Wings clear it from offensive zone, about 1:10 left. Versteeg sets up Havlat from behind the net and Havlat pops it into the corner. Goal and assist to Versteeg.

Winter Classic 10

Some good hits in the moments after the score, about five minutes have passed, a shot on Christobal Huet that goes into the net. Some back and forth as the puck is going back and forth up and down the rink. More pressure being put on the Huet than on Conklin. The Hawk goal is counted as a power play with the assists going to Havlat and Brent.

Scoring chance by Havlat, now the pressure is on the Wings.There's a dance on the ice as Bfuglien drives the net. Power play to the Wings as a result with Bfuglien in sin bin. Seabrook is able to clear the puck after a few seconds. The Wings are parking guys, Holstrom in particular, right in front of the net.

The ice gets its first obvious ice repair. The Wings are still on the advantage. The Hawks have cleared the puck again, about 45 seconds remaining in the Power Play. WIngs, looking for an open lane to fire on and Samuelson ties the game. Huet looks like he is suffering a bit from the wind chill. The puck looks like it hit the back of Huet's skates. Action behind the net, a feed to the front, Eddie Olyczck is saying that Huet went down a bit fast. The open ice makes the ice slower than usual.

Winter Classic 9; Chicago 1, Detroit 0

Real puck drop, the wind is blowing in toward the Detroit goal. A minor penalty, Hawk Power Play. Brent Seabrook benches Dan Cleary into the Hawk bench. The Wings put to many on the ice and the Hawks get a 5:3 for about 90 seconds.

A shot, but blocked and the advantage is now 5:4. Wings bring it down to the Hawks end. Versteeg scores the first goal of the game as Seabrook. Bfuglien went to the net, but it was Versteeg that connected. He was behind Bfuglien and driving to the net too.

Winter Classic 8

Okay, we have potential Wings fans here. Ron and Kim showed up with two ferrets. As many of you don't know and probably don't want to know, when Jane watches a sports game, and a goal is scored, she'll grab her cats, have them dance while she starts singing the Buffalo Bills song, "oh the Bills make me want to sing and dance..." So, while Kim and Ron are here, the ferrets can be the Wings fans and the cats can cheer for the Hawks.

Jane says the Canadian singer did a good job on the Canadian Anthem, but the cold made the singer for the US Anthem choke. More info momentarily. It looks like they had a few planes flying overhead during the anthem, missed that here at home.

Yep, it was the Blackhawks home game singer. Too much and not nearly as good as Wayne Messmer or the other great anthem singers. Ouch! yeah, the planes came in at an angle that didn't bring them near the house.

The Chicago All-stars is being shared by a number of people, Olympians? Anyone? I guess amateurs don't mean anything. Disappointing. Lot's of people dressed as seats.

Bobby Hull drops the ceremonial puck. He puts his foot in front of Nicklas Lidstrom, which would have prevented Lidstrom from playing a dropped puck. Nice.

Winter Classic 7

The network is doing a retrospective of the history of Wrigley. Of course, Jane and I did that with yesterday's posts on the Chitowndailynews.

The game is important for the two teams. The Blackhawks have won 9 of the last ten games, losing a game against the Red Wings earlier this week. As a result, the Blackhawks are just six points behind the Wings. The Hawks have two games in hand. The Wings are the team to beat, they have been considered the best team in the sport for several seasons.

My first look at the Detroit sweater. White letters on a blood red background. The players have hit the ice now. Some of the guys are wearing toques and touching home plate as they pass. Very cool. Whoops some friends just showed up. Let's see how long until I can write again.

WInter Classic 6

Jane Rickard said the European feed isn't too good and that she's put news of this live blogging on-line. The situation here, about a mile from Wrigley Field, is there is a cloud cover, some wind and the weather is below freezing. There could be some flakes falling later today. Great day for a hockey game.

I've moved from the NHL Network to the NBC Network. Chris Chelios is on the bench for the Red Wings. I was hoping to catch him while he was on the ice for Grand Rapids Griffins. I doubt, due to the waiver rules, that he'll return to the AAA.

A rink is setup behind the main rink for children. It reminds me of playing outside at LaFollette Park on the West Side. Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel is being interviewed. He's on top of the scoreboard in Center Field. While the wind may not be blowing on the field, you can be sure the wind is blowing hard up there.

Winter Classic 5

Oh God! The Foley is on. Am I the only person watching Chicago hockey who dislikes this guy? There it is, another reference to loyal home fans. What a stiff.

Brett Lebda is skating around with shadow. Cool! Football players aren't the only ones to look tough with eye shadow. LOL

A piece on the old Chicago Stadium with an emphasis on the flight of stairs leading to the ice surface. The atmosphere of the old Stadium, with the roar, created an atmosphere that will never be duplicated. Wait, wait, a bit on the movement of the Detroit Red Wings to the rink. There is a set of steps here too. I have to admit, I've never been in that area of Wrigley Field. What an excellent behind the scenes look at the game.

Oh God, the skeleton is back. At least in the second interview, he didn't use any boilerplate. McDonough is back on. More than anyone, except Rocky Wirtz, he is probably responsible for the return of the Blackhawks. The biggest change I see in this team, they are talking about winning the Stanley Cup. In the past two decades the fans would be discussing getting into the playoffs.

Winter Classic 4

Whoops, "the Windy City" is used to describe the City. Must be an out-of-towner. Yes, the wind chill will be a factor, as we discussed in a previous blog entry.

Ty Conklin appears to be starting for the Red Wings. Unless I'm mistaken, he is the only player to have appeared in the three Winter Classic games since 2003, losing the first game 4-3 as the Montreal Canadiens took down the Edmonton Oilers in 2003 and protecting the net in the 2-1 shootout victory last year by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Buffalo Sabres.

An ORGAN! Yes, of course the Chicago Cubs organist is Gary Pressy. The Blackhawks use Frank Pellico. I wonder if he plans to play Lady of Spain?

Winter Classic 3

They are now doing a piece on the 1991 All Star Game National Anthem. That was a key moment in the roar, as the crowd started cheering during the Anthem and didn't really stop.

Wayne Messmer is still the voice of Wrigley Field, singing the National Anthem before Cubs games. He also sings the Anthem at the Chicago Wolves games. The Anthem today will probably be sung by Jim Cornelison, according to a source on the Blackhawks boards.

Winter Classic 2

Still a pre-game on the NHL Network. Stan Mikita is asked "what makes this city so great?" and almost gives the greatest fan in the world line. Instead he points at the crowd and says "this is what makes it so great."

Bob Verdi looks ridiculous in his hat, says Chicago has the most loyal fans, so forgiving. Umm Bob? Are you reading off of a teleprompter? Why are you hesitating? He sounds likes he's stoned or something. Get him off the air, please.

Live blogging the Winter Classic 1

Just for fun, I'm live blogging the Winter Classic today. My first job, identifying the first person to utter the "greatest fans in the world..." line.

The Foley is prattling on about how there was a turn around in Chicago. That's a story we are going to hear a lot today. John McDonough discusses his expectations, I'd agree the highlight of the game will be the national anthems prior to the game. Then we have a nice piece showing some college band members who got together. It was a nice piece that was a bit unusual. I also liked the way it showed off my city.