It’s the time of the year when football is starting to wind down for the colleges, the professionals are mid-way through their season, and hockey is starting to find its way. Teams in the NHL and other leagues have played anywhere between 15-20 games. At this time of the season, teams are starting to figure out who they are and what they can do to improve.
Looking across the hockey landscape, here’s some interesting things I came across:
- Grand Rapids Griffins goalie Daniel Larsson is one step closer to playing for the Detroit Red Wings. The big club called up Larsson today to backup Jimmy Howard as Chris Osgood has missed the last two games with the flu. The Red Wings played Wednesday and Thursday night and the recall happened this morning. This could mean Osgood might be out for a while.
- On February 20, the Syracuse Crunch and Binghamton Senators are playing an outdoor hockey game. It’s the first in the history of the AHL, and a politician is trying to make it an annual event to “bring luster to central New York”. Can we say a P.R. move to gather votes for 2010? Charles Schumer (D-NY) is up for re-election next November.
- Everybody and their brother has now seen the video of Louisiana Ice Gators head coach Brent Sapergia throw everything in sight on the ice in protest of a call. I think I would he just as angry if I found out I had to coach a hockey team in the Southern Professional Hockey League. I do give him credit, his team was down 5-1 at the time before a rally of goals resulted in a 5-4 loss.
- Defending national champion Boston College is 2-5 and 1-4 in conference play this season. That’s not good for the Eagles. Last season, they had six overall and five Hockey East losses all season.
- Miami is showing why they are the no. 1 team in the nation as they swept Michigan last weekend. Wolverines head coach Red Berenson was so disgusted that he said “I’m embarrassed.” “We played like a bunch of spoiled brats, and we’ve gotta suck it up.” When your team takes 51 penalty minutes in the third period of Saturday’s game, that’s what spoiled beats who need to suck it up play like.
- My alma mater, Ferris State University, is off to its best start since the 2002-03 season. That year, Chris Kunitz was a Hobey Baker finalist when he led the Bulldogs to the CCHA regular reason championship and a first-round win in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs swept three straight home series for the first time in school history when they swept Bowling Green. The team is 7-3 overall and will play at Miami this weekend. Tonight’s game will be shown on the NHL Network at 7:30.
- The second-largest college in the nation is letting its students in for free because they struggle to fill the seats at its over-sized arena. Ohio State plays in the 17,500 seat Value City Arena. The attendance so far has been averaging 1,604 fans. For those keeping score at home, that’s 9.2 percent. When the NHL franchise in the same town is in competition for the hockey dollar a fringe hockey market, you play second fiddle. Maybe the Buckeyes should play the first month or so on the road, so they will get people to come when football season ends and the Blue Jackets are in last place.
- This year’s World Junior Championships will be held in Saskatoon and Regina, Alberta beginning December 26. For our friends in Saskatchewan, you will be able to enjoya ticket to the United States-Switzerland game December 27 in Saskatoon with purchase of a pre-tournament exhibition game between Switzerland and Austria in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan December 21.
- In an effort to get women to hockey games in Saginaw, Michigan, the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit is hosting a “Ice Hot Girls Night Out” tomorrow night vs London. The event will feature a fashion show, prize packs, and display tables from local salons and spas.
- The PEI Rocket of the QMJHL has to postpone gamesthis weekend vs Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Shawinigan Cataractes because a number of players showed symptoms of the H1N1 virus. Hockey fans might have to get used to this as the season progresses. While players and teams are trying their best to sanitize and keep the players as healthy as possible, once a player or team staff contracts H1N1, it will be a matter of time before it spreads due to the close quarters hockey players are in.
- The holiday season is around the corner. Several junior and minor league teams will hold various charity drives and fundraisers to support the local community. One of my favorites is the Teddy Bear Toss, where when the home teams scores its first goal, fans get to throw a stuffed animal on the ice. The toys are then collected and donated to charity,usually a childrens hospital. Where else can you throw something on the ice during a game and not get kicked out? No where! I’m personally making a note to attend the Plymouth Whalers’ Teddy Bear Toss game vs Sault Ste. Marie on December 5.