Monday, December 26, 2016

Spengler Time in Switzerland

It sometimes gets lost in the Sports shuffle of the holidays, but in recent years Canadians have put some time aside to check out one of the more intriguing of tournament offerings with Spengler Cup play set to start on Boxing Day.

The tourney features professional players on a number of European teams tangling with a team of Canadians grabbed from European rosters and boosted with a few fly ins for tournament time.

Six teams are participating in the Davos based event with Team Canada and the host HC Davos squad to be joined by the KHL's  Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and Dinamo Minsk, Lugano from the Swiss league and Mountfield from the Czech Extraliga making their first ever Tournament appearance.

The annual Spengler event provides Canadians and Americans a chance to catch up with some of their past favourites with a number of players from both countries carving out a nice living for the end of their careers, or others taking their developing skills to Europe for a little seasoning should the NHL not have a space on a roster for them.

The Team Canada roster was announced on December 20th and with General Manager Sean Burke selecting an interesting mix of players to carry Canada's flag into the tournament fray.

Putting the team through their paces for the tournament will be Head Coach Luke Richardson, Associate Coach Dave King and Gordie Dwyer. Notes on the approach that the three will take at the Davos tournament can be found here.

You can review tournament developments from the two websites below:

Spengler Cup website
Hockey Canada's Spengler Cup website

The Tournament scoreboard and summaries can be reviewed following daily play from Switzerland.

Spengler Cup Championship Game
December 31
Team Canada successfully defends its Spengler Cup Championship

Team Canada 5 vs HC Lugano 2 ( Game Summary )

14th Triumph for Tean Canada
Canada wins 2nd straight Spengler Cup
Canada defends Spengler Cup title with victory over HC Lugano
Camlachie's Dustin Jeffrey garners two assists in three games as Canada successfully defends Spengler Cup
Canada defeats HC Lugano, captures Spengler Cup for Second Consecutive year


Semi Final Friday
December 30

HK Dinamo Minsk 2 vs Team Canada 3 ( Summary )
HC Lugano  4 vs HC Davos 0 (Summary )

December 30 Notes

Canada advances to Spengler cup final
Canada advances to Spengler Cup final with 3-2 victory over Minsk
Canada to face Lugano in Spengler Cup Final
Is Lugano doing the Revenge?
Lugano in the Final against Team Canada
Team Canada First Finalist
Lugano to face Team Canada in Final


Quarter Final Thursday
December 29 

Mountfield HK 1 vs Team Canada 5  ( Game Summary  )
HC Davos 3 vs Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 1 ( Game Summary )   

December 29 Notes

Senn Heats Davos in the Semi-Final
Team Canada marched loose in the Semi-Final
It's a wonderful tournament
Semi Finals or Travel home


Opening Round Complete
December 28 

HC Lugano  4 vs  Mountfield HK 3  ( Game Summary  )
HC Dinamo Minsk 4 vs HC Davos 5  (  Game Summary )

December 28 Notes

Davos Despite victory only group-wide
Lugano on the way to the Semi-Final
Two duels for the Group Draw

December 27 

HC Davos 3 vs Team Canada  4 (  Game Summary )
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 3 vs Mountfield HK 4 ( Game Summary )

December 27 Notes

Team Canada wins thanks to Special Teams
Jarusek shoots Mountfield to victory
Canada edges Davos at Spengler Cup
Davos clocks to the Team Canada in tournament

December 26 

Team Canada 4 vs Dinamo Minsk 7  ( Game Summary )
HC Lugano 4 vs Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 2 ( Game Summary )    

December 26 Notes

Opening Game victory for Lugano
Minsk tops Canada in opening game of Spengler Cup
Canada coughs up early lead to fall to Dinamo Minks at Spengler Cup
Evgeny Kovyrshin leads HC Dinamo Minsk past Canada 7-4 at Spengler Cup

Pre-Tournament Notes related to the Spengler Cup can be found below:

December 24 -- Montreal Canadiens Zach Fucale afforded big opportunity at Spengler Cup
December 23 -- Cheering Canada on Boxing Day
December 23 -- Mark Katic added to Canada's Spengler Cup roster
December 23 -- Richardson set to lead Canada's title defence at Spengler Cup
December 23 -- He only needs his skates
December 22 -- Former Peterborough Petes captain Mark Flood playing in Spengler Cup
December 21 -- Beast's Fucale to play for Canada
December 21 -- Ex-Rockets' stopper to join Canada at Spengler Cup
December 21 -- Hockey Canada Names Roster
December 21 -- Camlachie's Dustin Jeffrey will make his Team Canada debut at the Spengler Cup
December 21 -- Spaling named to Team Canada for Spengler Cup
December 20 -- Campbell, Fucale among Spengler players
December 20 -- Islanders to play for Canada at Spengler Cup
December 19 -- Mister Hockey Canada
December 8 -- Luke Richardson named Canada head coach for 2016 Spengler Cup

World Juniors take centre ice for Boxing Day start to annual tournament

Americans have Bowl Season to tide them over the holidays, but for Canadians, in addition a strong interest in how the football picture sorts itself out, there is an added diversion as the break between Christmas and New Year's arrives. As Canadians continue to embrace the Boxing Day launch to the World Junior Championships, this year hosted by Montreal and Toronto.

Since the early days of the tournament, it's held a special place in the sports rankings for Canadian fans, drawing large audience for host broadcaster TSN, which devotes much of its assets towards production of what comes close to to two weeks of international puck.

The ten team tournament digs into the ice at 1 PM this afternoon in Montreal, 10 AM for British Columbians just putting the wraps on breakfast and with that start ten days of high tempo Junior hockey takes it's share of the sports highlights packages.

The highly anticipated event provides, stirs the passions of the land that considers itself home to the game and offers up a glimpse at some of the names that will be part of this summer's NHL draft and potentially for many years to come among the member teams of the professional experience.

Tournament play starts in Montreal and for the next ten days you can find Canadians within eyesight of a television set somewhere whenever the team with the Maple Leaf steps out on the ice.

Participating Teams for the 2016-17 World Junior Tournament Include:

Pool A

Czech Republic

Pool B


You can get a preview of some of the atmosphere for the World Juniors from a range of websites listed below dedicated to the event.

IIHF Website

Hockey Canada Website

TSN website

As well, we will post the results of each day at the World Juniors as well as track items of interest over the course of the ten days leading up to the January 5th Championship match.

Tournament Standings

The World Junior Schedule 2016-17
All Games on TSN

January 5, 2017
Gold Medal Game 

USA wins GOLD Medal
Canada receives SILVER Medal

Canada 4 vs USA 5 Shootout ( Game Summary @ Montreal

IIHF -- Terry scores shootout gold
IIHF -- Chabot named MVP
IIHF -- Fasel, Hockey Canada meet press

Heartbreak for Canada as U.S. win junior gold in shootout
Canada settles for silver after losing to U.S. in shootout
Canada falls to US in heartbreaking gold medal shootout loss
World Junior championship springs to life in final 48 hours
Canadian juniors get sterling silver in shootout loss to U.S.
World juniors are Canada's pay-to-play (and watch) program
Heartbreak for Team Canada as U.S. works overtime to capture world junior hockey gold in shootout
Thomas Chabot shines on the big stage leading Team Canada to a silver medal at world junior hockey tournament
Terry the shootout hero again as U.S. tops Canada 5-4 in world junior final
Montreal shouldn't be embarrassed by world junior attendance
World Junior Classic: Gold or Silver, Hold your heads high
Team USA wins gold at World Junior Championships in dramatic shootout

January 5, 2017
Bronze Medal Game
Russia wins Bronze Medal

Russia 2 vs Sweden 1 ( Game Summary  ) @ Montreal

IIHF -- Bronze goes to Russia

Russia strikes quickly in OT, beats Sweden for junior bronze
Russia beats Sweden 2-1 in overtime to win world junior bronze
Disappointing performance still wins Sergachyov a medal 
Sweden can't beat Russian goaltending in bronze medal loss
Guryanov's OT winner to give Russia 2-1 win over Sweden in bronze medal game
Ilya Samsonov snares a bronze medal for Russia


Semi Finals

January 4, 2017

Sweden 2 vs Canada 5 ( Game Summary @ Montreal
USA 4 vs Russia 3 Shootout ( Game Summary @ Montreal

IIHF -- Fired Up Canada wins
IIHF -- Americans going for gold

Canada defeats Sweden in world  junior hockey semi-final
U.S. advances to world juniors final with shootout win over Russia
Canada wins Hart-stopper of a semifinal
Strome steps up to help lead Canada over Sweden
Troy Terry scores three in shootout as U.S. advances to gold medal game
It's Canada-U.S. for gold as hart saves day against Swedes
Troy Terry's shootout heroics send U.S. to junior final
What's keeping fans away from world juniors? Hockey Canada hopes for better turnout in semis
Canadian Juniors going for gold as Carter Hart comes off bench to backstop 5-2 win over Sweden
Dylan Strome quiets the critics with big third period for Canada in semifinal triumph over Sweden
U.S. celebrates a new sports hero as Troy Terry scores three times in shootout to defeat Russia in world junior semifinal
Canada to face U.S. in world junior final after win over Sweden
Semifinals prove to be festivals for the fearless
American's beat Russia in controversial shootout, reach WJC gold-medal game
Canadian Hockey wins the day as Swedes get sunk
Team USA finally slays Russian and Troy Terry is the Hero
Team USA tops Russian in shootout to advance to final of World Juniors


Quarter Finals

January 2, 2017

Canada 5 vs Czech Republic 3 (  Game Summary @ Montreal
USA 3 vs Switzerland  2 (  Game Summary@ Toronto
Sweden 8 vs Slovakia 3 ( Game Summary@ Montreal
Denmark 0 vs Russia 4 ( Game Summary @ Toronto

IIHF -- Canada to face Sweden in Semi Final
IIHF -- Parsons saves the day
IIHF -- Swedes subdue Slovaks
IIHF -- Russia on to semis

Canada clinches top spot in semis of World Juniors after roller-coaster win over Czech Republic
Canada cutting it close in quest for gold at world juniors
Canada downs pesky Czech Republic, to play Sweden in semi-final
Referee assists Czech Republic goal against Canada
U.S. survives Swiss scare, will face Russia in semi-final
Canada sets semifinal date with Sweden at world juniors
Canadian juniors make noise in crunch time
U.S., Sweden, Russia advance to world junior semifinals
Team Canada goalie Connor Ingram took unique route to world juniors crease
Stephens leads Team Canada to quarterfinal victory over Czech Republic
Sweden simply dominant through five games at the world juniors
Canada vs. Sweden semifinal promises to be must-see hockey
Team USA 'dodges bullet' against Hischier and Swiss
Mitchell Stephens returns to lead Canadian juniors in quarter-final win over Czech Republic
Chabot and Stephens save Canada's bacon vs. Czechs
Gauthier scores two, Stephens returns as Canada tops Czechs 5-3 at world juniors
Russia, Sweden easily advance, U.S. struggles to subdue Swiss in world-junior quarter finals


Relegation Round 

January 3 -- Finland 4 vs Latvia 1 ( Game Summary @ Montreal
January 2 -- Finland 2 vs Latvia 1 (Game Summary @ Montreal

IIHF -- Finns finish off Latvia
IIHF -- Finns win relegation opener


Preliminary Round

December 31 

Sweden  5 vs Czech Republic 2 ( Game Summary )  @ Montreal
USA 3 vs Canada 1 ( Game Summary )   @ Toronto
Finland  2 vs Switzerland 0 ( Game Summary )   @ Montreal
Russia 2 vs Slovakia 0 ( Game Summary )   @ Toronto

IIHF -- USA ends NYE drought
IIHF -- Fourth Straight Swedish win
IIHF -- Finns blank Switzerland
IIHF -- Russia takes 3rd Place

Canada no longer the favourite at world juniors after 3-1 loss to U.S.
Canada's defenceman Phillipe Myers out for world junior quarter-finals with concussion
Canadians drop world junior showdown with U.S.
Losing hurts, but Canada's world junior quest has just begun
Leaf's prospects shine in USA's win over Canada
Russia shuts out Slovakia to set up quarterfinal clash with Denmark
Canada falls to U.S. to finish second in group
Jussi Ahokas thrust into coaching duties after Finland cleans house
Team Canada blinks against United States, heads to Montreal for world junior quarter-finals
Finland's faceplant at world juniors results in fired coaches and desperation for relegation round
U.S. deals Canada 1st loss at world juniors
Russia hold off Slovakia to take 3rd in Group B
Closely ranked junior prospects having different experiences at junior tournament

December 30 

Switzerland 5 vs Denmark 4 ( Summary ) @ Montreal
Slovakia 4 vs Latvia 2  ( Summary@ Toronto

IIHF -- Finland changes coach
IIHF -- Slovakia avoids Finns
IIHF -- Swiss shoot down Danes

Finland, heading to relegation round, fires entire coaching staff
Swedish hockey player Rasmus Dahlin impresses at world juniors
Canada's world junior hockey coach mum on goalie decision
Canada vs. USA: 'This is redemption'
Americans confident they are rounding into form in time to face Canada
World juniors get real with Canada-U.S. tradition
Prospects Eeli Tolvanen, Nico Hischier have spotlight to themselves
Team Canada's preparation infused with recent sting of losing to U.S. in under 18 event earlier this year

December 29

Latvia 2 vs Canada 10 ( Summary ) @ Toronto
Finland 1 vs Sweden 3  ( Summary ) @ Montreal
Russia 2 vs USA 3 ( Summary ) @ Toronto
Denmark 3 vs Czech Republic 2 ( Summary ) @ Montreal

IIHF -- Canada routs Latvia 10-2
IIHF -- Sweden clinches Group A
IIHF -- U. S. hangs tough to beat Russia
IIHF -- Danes pull another surprise

Canadians roll over Latvia en route to U. S. showdown
Canada wins, faces U.S. for first in Group A at world juniors
Team Canada's Jeremy Lauzon has renewed purpose after larynx injury
Team USA beats Russia at world juniors, goes to 3-0
Raddysh's scores 4 times in Team Canada squashing of Latvia
Canada thrashes Latvia to set up showdown with U.S.
U.S. defeats Russia to remain unbeaten

December 28 

Slovakia 2 vs USA 5  ( Summary @ Toronto
Switzerland 2 vs Sweden 4 ( Summary @ Montreal

IIHF -- Americans look sharp in 5-2 win
IIHF -- Swedes stay perfect

Maple Leafs' prospect Martins Dzierkals soaking up atmosphere at world juniors
Team Canada not taking anything for granted at world juniors
Team Canada is confident but not cocky at world juniors
Team Canada modest ahead of potential laugher vs. Latvia
Maple Leafs' Woll stands tall in Team USA net vs. Slovakia
Swedish Maple Leafs prospect Grundstrom plays 'Canadian' style
Canada's Dylan Strome doesn't want to fall into a Latvian-sized trap at world juniors on Thursday

December 27 

Canada 5 vs Slovakia 0 ( Summary ) @ Toronto
Denmark 3 vs Finland 2 ( Summary ) @ Montreal  
Latvia 1 vs Russia 9  ( Summary @ Toronto
Czech Republic 3 vs Switzerland 4  ( Summary @ Montreal 

IIHF -- Canada explodes in 2nd for 5-0 win
IIHF -- Danes stun defending champs
IHHF-- Russia rebounds with win

Canada cruises to win against Slovakia team that only musters six shots
Team Canada taking charge
Is it time for world juniors to move back to smaller communities?
In losing to Denmark, Finland digs big hole at 2017 world juniors
Latvia's blowout loss doesn't get Dzierkals down
Canada overpowers Slovakia at world juniors
Undrafted Myers stands tall on Canadian blue line
Russians rebound with blowout win over Latvia at world juniors
Team Canada  breezes past Slovakia; Connor Ingram pitches easy six-save shutout
Team Canada's Philippe Myers represent the relentless pursuit of the NHL dream
Canadian Philippe Myers embraces the spirit of Luc Bourdon
Finland remains winless after upset loss to Denmark

December 26

Canada 5 vs Russia 3  ( Summary )  @ Toronto 
Czech Republic 2 vs Finland 1 ( Summary )  @ Montreal  
USA 6 vs Latvia 1   ( Summary ) @ Toronto 
Sweden 6 vs Denmark  1 ( Summary ) @ Montreal 

Notes of the Day

IIHF -- Canada Edges Russia
IIHF -- Czechs nip Finns
IIHF -- Americans win Opener
IIHF -- Sweden hammers Danes

Canada kicks off World Juniors with win over Russia
Relentless Canada opens World Juniors with victory over Russia
Captain Strome comes through in Canada's debut at 2017 World Juniors
Canada rises to the occasion with opening game 5-3 win over Russia at world junior tournament
Canada starts off world juniors on a  high note
Canada opens world juniors with victory over rival Russia
Canada sails past Russia to open world juniors with 5-3 win
Canada vs. Russia means the world at juniors
Team Canada goalie Carter hart has the smarts as well as saves
Nylander, Dahlin shine as Sweden tops Denmark 6-1 in world junior opener
United States routs Latvia in world junior hockey opener
Spacek's late goal lifts Czech Republic over Finland 2-1 at world juniors
Team USA survives early-game scare vs. Latvia
It's a no-brainer for AHL players to get loaned out for world junior hockey tournament
Sweden pummels Denmark in world junior opener

Overall Pre-Tournament Notes

December 25 -- Bolts give Canada F Joseph a contract ahead of WJC
December 25 -- NHL draft drama plays out at world juniors
December 25 -- Canadians think world junior gold is in the cards
December 25 -- World Juniors: A team-by-team look at this year's challengers
December 25 -- Strome gets chance to shine for Canada after missing out on NHL opportunity
December 25 -- Team Canada's Captain at World Juniors counts the lessons learned this 'weird' year
December 25 -- Five stories to to watch in the World Junior Championship
December 25 -- Why Canada might/might not win the 2017 world juniors
December 25 -- Parity means Canada is no lock to win it all
December 25 -- Overpricing for world junior tickets has stopped under Renney's guidance
December 25 -- Is it no Connor McDavid, no problem for Canada at the 2017 world juniors?
December 25 -- This year's world juniors will lack draft-eligible star power
December 25 -- Strome gets one last shot at world junior gold
December 24 -- Canada G Hart no stranger to bouncing back
December 24 -- Canada's Nolan Patrick, consensus No. 1 pick in 2017, misses coveted shot at world junior 'coming out party'
December 24 -- Canada looks for world junior redemption at home
December 23 -- Canadian junior team is loaded, even without NHL stars
December 23 -- 10 storylines to watch at 2017 World Junior Championship
December 23 -- Canada gets first scare in final pre-tournament world junior game
December 23 -- Canada to start Carter Hart agains Switzerland
December 23 -- Canadian juniors should appreciate spotlight while it's there
December 23 -- World Junior showcase short on draft sizzle
December 23 -- Canada aiming for a golden finish at world juniors
December 22 -- Team USA and its scary collection of forwards in position to contend for world junior gold
December 22 -- For every Carey Price, who started for Team Canada at the showcase, there's a handful of also rans
December 22 -- Team Canada wants to take full advantage of rare opportunity
December 22 -- Dylan Strome says Canadian World Junior squad are 'having fun'
December 22 -- Anthony Cirelli: Former OHL walk-on living the world junior dream
December 22 -- Team Canada scouting report: A look at the player going for gold at world juniors
December 21 -- Cirelli, Ingram lead Canada over Czech Republic in pre-tournament play
December 21 -- Team Canada chalks up another shutout in WJC pre-tournament play
December 19 -- Team Canada names Dylan Strome captain for world juniors
December 19 -- Canada downs Finland 5-0 in exhibition
December 19 -- Five draft-eligible players to watch at the 2017 world junior hockey tournament

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hockey Nation Headlines -- December 2016

Our archive of notes for December

December 31 -- Canada no longer the favourite at world juniors after 3-1 loss to U.S.
December 30 -- Canada advances to Spengler Cup final with 4-2 victory over Minsk
December 29 -- Ottawa Senators retire Daniel Alfredsson's No. 11
December 28 -- Marner scores in shootout to lift Leafs over Panthers
December 27 -- Blue Jackets 4, Bruins 3: But coach, players not thrilled despite record 13th win
December 26 -- Canada vs. Russia means the world at Juniors
December 25 -- Parity means Canada is no lock to win it all
December 24 -- Canada looks for world junior redemption at home
December 23 -- Canadian junior team is loaded even with out NHL stars
December 22 -- Jagr moves into second behind Gretzky on NHL career points list
December 21 -- Is Gary Bettman OK with Connor McDavid getting hacked?
December 20 -- Former Flames coach Bob Hartley relishes challenge of developing hockey in Latvia
December 19 -- Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes game postponed due to ice
December 18 -- Erik Gudbranson to undergo wrist surgery
December 17 -- Maple Leafs pick up rare OT win at home vs. Penguins
December 16 -- Canadiens' Carey Price not happy after getting pulled at Bell Centre
December 15 -- Team Canada short on stars ahead of world junior
December 14 -- Ex-Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson recovering from stroke
December 13 -- Shoot out dying off as NHL angles away from unfashionable tiebreaker
December 12 -- Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse out for three months
December 11 -- Flames rout Jets and muscle their way to top of division
December 10 -- Coaching legend Bill Dineen dies at 84
December 9 -- ' He's like family': Capitals owner won't stop Ovechkin from playing in Olympics
December 8 -- McDavid calls out Manning for being classless
December 7 -- Panel of NHL governors discusses pros and cons of NHLers going to 2018 Olympics
December 6 -- Sids's Surge: Crosby on a goal-scoring tear for Penguins
December 5 -- Six NHLers tugging at the Hart strings
December 4 -- Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson breaks fibula blocking shot
December 3 -- Darnell Nurse is out long-term with lower-body injury
December 2 -- NHL disciplinarians make courtesy call to Vancouver
December 1 -- 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship coming to Vancouver and Victoria

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

HockeyNation Headlines -- November 2016

Our archives for November 2016

November 30 -- Senators goalie Anderson takes indefinite leave
November 29 -- The Randy Carlyle effect: Ducks stumbling at 5-on-5 under ex-Maple Leafs coach
November 28 -- Panthers GM Row cites philosophical differences as reason for firing coach Gallant
November 27 -- Florida Panthers fire coach Gerard Gallant; GM Tom Rowe takes over
November 26 -- Auston Matthews and Maple Leafs brace for 'unbelievable' Alex Ovechkin and Capitals
November 25 -- Russian players look up to Caps superstar Alexander Ovechkin
November 24 -- Canucks sign Ben Hutton to two-year contract extension
November 23 -- How Bill Foley and his staff picked Vegas Golden Knights as NHL team name
November 22 -- Team name announcement a chance to continue hockey celebration, grow fan base
November 21 -- John Scott effect? NHL announces rejigged all-star voting requirements
November 20 -- Arizona Coyotes send Dylan Strome back to junior
November 19 -- Tucson captain collapses on ice before AHL game
November 18 -- Relocation winds swirl around Carolina Hurricanes
November 17 -- Surprised NHL is reportedly using Olympics as CBA negotiating chip? Don't be, it's classic Bettman
November 16 -- Stamkos on shelf with knee injury
November 15 -- IIHF suddenly finds money to fund NHL's participation in 2018 Olympics
November 14 -- We hardly knew you Glendale: Coyotes announce plans for new arena in Tempe
November 13 -- Legends come out for Lindros-Salming game
November 12 -- Crosby enjoying going up against today's kids
November 11 -- Pat Quinn's tremendous impact still felt in NHL
November 10 -- Hockey Hall of Fame call was 'worth the wait' for Rogie Vachon
November 9 -- Not an ideal start: 5 NHL coaches on the early-season hot seat
November 8 -- Trouba's negotiating tactics fail miserably
November 7 -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are endorsing Phil Kessel for President
November 6 -- Benning, Canucks disappointed with Kadri Ruling
November 5 -- Fights, cheap shots, goals: Maple Leafs defeat Canucks in wild, wacky game
November 4 -- Government rejects plan for NHL game on Parliament Hill in 2017
November 3 -- Sens' Anderson granted leave again to be with cancer-stricken wife
November 2 -- Early season struggles have these 10 players looking to break out
November 1 -- Eyes of the Hockey World on McDavid vs. Matthews

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A little Heritage, for Canada's hockey herartland

The Prairies have delivered much for Canada through the decades since 1867, a wealth of natural resources, bountiful harvests, a strong work ethic that puts the city slickers in the larger communities to shame and of course an endless supply of young hockey players all looking for their chance to make it to the NHL.

They are celebrating the Heritage of Canada's national sport in the heartland of the country this weekend, with Winnipeg the focus point for this years celebration of hockey and it's roots, the Heritage Classic.

The weekend started with a Friday evening gala filled with tales of the past from both the visiting Edmonton Oilers and their dynasty for the ages, as well as the home town Winnipeg Jets.

A team built with a blue print taken from the people they have represented through the WHA days and into their modern era of the NHL. Focused on a dedication to the need for hard work and sacrifice, before expecting any rewards.

Jets fans have made their sacrifices and are ready for some of that reward and for many, the arrival of such a high profile showcase as the Heritage Classic is an nod from the league as to the respect that Manitoba pays to the history of the game.

Friday's reminiscing turned to the outdoor rink at Investor's Group Stadium, as the Oilers Alumni and Jets Alumni faced off in the Saturday afternoon alumni match up.

A game that brought many of the familiar names of the past back for skate on the rink built on the expanse of the football field normally put to use by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or University of Manitoba Bisons.

In its way a symbol of some of the pond hockey of many memories, though with slightly warmer temperatures than say a crisp January afternoon might have delivered.

During the course of the Saturday broadcast, it was noted with some awe the importance that the many community rinks in the city have for the region. With many an NHL dream created on any given Winnipeg evening, under the bright lights and not far from a hot stove.

Most of the names of yesteryear were there Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, a young whippersnapper named Ryan Smyth for the Oilers; Dave Babych, Ed Olcyk and Dale Hawerchuk for the Jets, the appreciation from the crowd ringing in the ears of each and everyone of the players as they took their place on the ice.

The hockey was what might expected at such events, a leisurely skate on the ice with occasional flashes of what once would bring fans to their feet, the game ending on a penalty shot with the Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne sending the crowd of 31,000 plus home with the desired good vibe of a victory over the Oilers. Reversing the narrative of the past of a team, when the Edmontonians would  dash the hopes of River City hockey fans on more than a few occasions in the halcyon days of the Oilers/Jets battles.

Attention now turns to Sunday's showdown between the current Jets and an Oilers squad that for many, is starting to remind hockey fans of a similar collection of youngsters from the eighties whe were ready to make their mark on the NHL.

Though if we're looking for an omen for how Sunday's game might end, look no further than the newest exciting import from Finland.

With the legend Teemu Selanne settling up Saturday's Alumni showcase, surely Patrick Laine will be the name that Jets fans will be cheering when the Sunday Classic comes to an end.

Investors Group Field in Winnipeg is the host venue for this years
Heritage Classic between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers

(Photo from NHL website)

Heritage Classic Website

Some notes on the Heritage Classic can be found below:

Sunday's Main event 
Puck Drop 2 PM Manitoba Time/3 PM ET/ Noon PT
Sportsnet, TVA, NHL Network (USA)

Jets hone in on Heritage Classic
Scheifele catches eye of Oilers head coach
Teemu gives Laine thumbs-up
Stafford ready for full experience
Patrick Laine and Tyler Myers check out the stadium
Jets prep for Heritage game
A fun week for Jets
Jets plan on keeping it simple in Sunday's Heritage Classic
Connor McDavid is excited to play outdoor game
Connor McDavid and Mark Scheifele are fast friends
Oilers outdoor 'rookies' excited
Oilers' oldest rivalry vs. Jets about to get hot in a lukewarm place

The Alumni Game

Selanne of course gets alumni winner for Jets over Oilers
Bandit Berthiaume strikes again
Alumni game a winner
Gretzky's last hurrah?
Reminiscing the retro days of hockey
Mullen feels fortunate
Back to the future for Oilers old timers
Babych had to be good in first season, or else
Once a public enemy, Gretzky not used to getting warm receptions in Winnipeg
Huddy wearing both team's colours at Heritage Classic
Lindstrom doing double duty Heritage weekend
Jet's first Finns paved way for likes of Selanne, Laine
Swedes Hedberg and Nilssson lauded as trailblazers for European hockey
Finnish Flash still has panache
Gretzky takes up stinking way too late
Long time no see Wayne ... help you up, buddy?
Nothing compares to Teemu
For Oilers alumni, it's one last time, with feeling
Selanne scores two to lead Jets over Oilers at Heritage Classic alumni game

Some Notes on the Heritage Classic

Wayne Gretzky's fingerprints are all over the Heritage Classic
Perks of the job: Kris King excited for Heritage Classic
A more intimate Heritage Classic
A celebration of hockey history
Heritage Classic revives memories of a night the roof came off at Winnipeg Arena
When the Great One speaks, people listen ... even years after his retirement
Ice tales from a bygone era
NHL outdoor game in Winnipeg, like all of them, has roots in Edmonton
Heritage Classic in 2003 saved in 'the frozen moment'
Steve Staios and Ryan Smyth remember the Big Freeze
Oilers, NHL both want another outdoor game in Edmonton
With Heritage Classic, Winnipeg celebrates the Jets and the future

Friday, October 14, 2016

From One Austin, to another Auston!

So honestly after watching the Austin Matthews debut, just one thing needs to be said his performance on the night.

Now true, while at the end of the sixty minutes and a bit of OT for the 2016-17 debut for the Leafs and Senators the scoreline was Senators 5, Matthews 4, remainder of Leafs 0, the hype surrounding the young Arizonan making his regular season debut seems rather justified.

The young phenom from Scottsdale, Arizona had a fine night of skating on the ice surface at the Canadian Tire Centre, dazzling the Ottawa fans and undressing the Ottawa defenders as he provided for a performance to launch the new season for the NHL.

Bringing to the ice a performance that guaranteed top line exposure on all of the nightly sports highlights shows, even ESPN, which for the most part in the past has placed the NHL's scoring crawl in the same line up as Cricket Test matches from Fiji.

Matthews' rewarded the Leafs confidence of Draft Day in June, picking up his first NHL goal at 8:21 of the first period, followed by his second just six minutes later.  With a short break between periods, possibly to check his twitter feed and instagram account, he came back out and became the thing of nightmares for Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.

With Matthews scoring just after the one minute mark of period number two, collecting his fourth and final goal on the evening with but three seconds remaining in the middle period, a full night of hockey already accomplished with just forty minutes of play out of the way.

With a modern day NHL record in Matthews pocket, that of four goals in his first game, the Maple Leafs night on score sheet would come to an end, as the Senators finally found a way to not only shut down the highly touted addition to the Leafs lineup, but to turn the game around and claim the win in Overtime.

Perhaps a perfect outcome for hockey fans in the Nations' capital who can say they were there when Matthews' collected the first of what appear to be many records that may soon claim his name, while at the same time having seen the home side squad show some grit and take their first victory of the season.

The scoring exploits became one of the trending topics on twitter for part of the evening and no doubt set Leafs' fans hearts to racing at the prospect of a home game schedule that suggests offence may soon be back in the blue print for Maple Leaf hockey.

The only person perhaps that was happier than Maple Leafs fans on Wednesday night was League Commissioner Gary Bettman, it was like winning your Fantasy Hockey Draft on the first night of play.

Bettman has a top level American star, playing for one of the most iconic franchises in the league, one based in Canada, in the home of the top television market for the NHL, a guarantee that the launch of the legend of Auston is going to get maximum exposure.

As an added chance for a short victory lap, the newest star for the NHL hails not from a snowbound town in the hockey belt, but from that newly charted territory of Arizona. A market that Bettman has done all that he could to keep alive and with the ascent of Matthews to the NHL galaxy he no doubt make for at least a short term salute to building footprints across the continent.

At some point the Commish might prefer to see young Mr. Matthews on a US based team in one of the large media markets of the lower 48, but for now the spotlight is Toronto and Matthews it seems is going to fit in just nicely.

Sometimes you just have a great day and Wednesday was that for Matthews, Bettman, the Leafs and hockey fans as well.

The Reviews quickly came in following Matthew's debut and for fans of the Leafs, the omens would appear to indicate that alls  is going to be fine.

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