Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

USHL / NHL Top Prospects Game To Be Webcast Free

IMG_5284

The United States Hockey League has announced that there will be a free online broadcast of the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, presented by CCM, delivered live on FASTHockey, the USHL’s exclusive online broadcast provider. The game is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich., beginning at 7:15 p.m. EST.

The game, which is the first of its kind for the USHL, will showcase many of the top USHL players eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. A total of 30 players selected are in their first year of eligibility for the NHL Entry Draft. Seven of the players are draft-eligible for the second time this year. In addition, the USHL will showcase three players who are eligible to be drafted by NHL teams in 2013.

The Youngstown Phantoms will be sending three players to the event: center Austin Cangelosi, center Richard Zehnal and defenseman Chris Bradley. Additionally, Phantoms play-by-play announcer Bart Logan will be part of the FASTHockey broadcast team.

Viewers can watch the webcast live via multiple formats – the USHL’s Facebook page, through a previously established FASTHockey account, or Roku users can watch the game on the platform’s USHL channel.

Phantoms Earn Hard-Fought Victory Over Sioux City

IMG_4358

The Youngstown Phantoms seem to have more gusto in their step than in years past. JT Stenglein and Ryan Belonger both scored twice to vault the Phantoms to a very physical 5-4 win over Sioux City.  Despite being outshot 26-19, the Phantoms were able to push the puck when it counted.  The win was the fourth in a row for the Phantoms (12-5-0).

Ryan Belonger got the Phantoms on the board first.  Belonger, crashing in from his right wing position, beat Matt Skoff (above) from just outside the goal crease.  The action started when Mike Ambrosia put a shot on net that deflected out to Austin Cangelosi who fired back in toward the goal.  Cangelosi was credited with an assist on Belonger’s seventh goal of the season coming with 5:48 left in the opening frame.

Sioux City responded with 2:46 left in the first to tie the game at a goal apiece. Kyle Criscuolo netted his fourth goal of the season beating Matt O’Connor.  The goal was scored at even-strength and Cliff Watson earned an assist for the Musketeers.  The first period ended without further scoring and the Phantoms outshot Sioux City, 8-5.

IMG_4383

The Phantoms did well killing off a two-man penalty about halfway through the second. Dan Molenaar picked up a slashing penalty putting the Phantoms in a powerplay opportunity.  JT Stenglein made the Musketeers pay at the 13:11 mark as he found the net for the eighth time.  Jordan Young gathered an assist on the go-ahead goal.

“I told our guys that if we could kill that 5-on-3 penalty that we were going to win.  We went out there and drew up in practice how we were going to kill a 5-on-3, and to our guys credit, they executed it.  I don’t even think that they [Sioux Falls] had a great shot at scoring during the penalty“, said Coach Anthony Noreen.  ”From a pure effort standpoint, that was the best effort we had all season.”

The opportunistic Phantoms went up 3-1 when they got an extra attacker on the ice awaiting a delayed penalty call.  The strategy worked to perfection as Richard Zehnal became the third different Phantom to put one between the pipes on the evening. Zehnal’s goal was his third and came with 2:50 left in the second.  Young was credited with his second assist of the game.  Sioux City cut the lead to 3-2 when Brad Robbins went top shelf on O’Connors glove side with just 15.3 seconds remaining in the period.

IMG_4380

With 16:37 remaining in the third period, David Henry gathered a rebound off of a Jackson Leef shot that O’connor blocked.  Call it a bad luck goal that tied the game, 3-3.

Stenglein gave the Phantoms the lead at 4-3 with 6:49 left in the game on an unassisted goal, his second.  Stenglein wound up from the top of the right face off circle and his shot tapped the post and went in.  The Phantoms added an empty-netter with 51 seconds left in the game.  Belonger got the freebee to push the lead to 5-3. The Musketeers wouldn’t go away without a fight.  With 34.5 seconds left, the Musketeers scored to make it 5-4.  O’Connor and the defense survived the onslaught of offense in the final half minute to secure the win.

“It was definitely two of the bigger goals in my career”, said Stenglein.  ”The coaches are putting us in position where we can make a lot of plays and my line has been playing really good.”

“Everything has been going my way lately.  You kind of are getting to a point in the season where you know that your line mates are going to be in certain spots.  We aren’t invincible, but we do expect to win, and we have a will to win.  It doesn’t matter whether we are down by five or up by five, we are going to stay even keel“, added Stenglein.

Scott Mayfield Drafted By New York Islanders

Youngstown Phantoms Defenseman Scott Mayfield has been drafted by the New York Islanders in the Second Round of the 2011 NHL Draft.  Mayfield was the 34th overall player selected.  The St. Louis, MO. native has spent the last two seasons playing for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.  he also won a Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships in the last year.

Mayfield is an extremely good skater for a defenseman and once he hits the weights a little harder to fill out his large frame, he is going to be a dynamic defenseman at the big level.

Jonathan “JT” Miller, of East Palestine, was also drafted in the First Round.  Miller who spent the last couple of seasons with Team USA in the USHL was drafted 15th overall by the New York Rangers.

The very best of luck to both players!

Detroit4lyfe Makes Good On Losing Stanley Cup Bet

When you blog, you meet some good people along the way.  The guys over at Detroit4lyfe and I try to work together by linking to each others stories in hopes of getting an increase in traffic.  Before the cup finals, we started jawing about our hockey teams and ended up betting.  Fortunately, I was lucky enough to come out on the right end of the deal.  Being good sports, Detroit4lyfe stuck to the bet and wrote an article about the Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Here is the article:

Before the Red Wings series started with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Paneech came to me seeking a friendly wager regarding the outcome of the Stanley Cup Finals.  After an extensive negotiation process that lasted about 10 seconds, we finally agreed that the loser of the series would have to write a post for the other’s blog explaining why the other’s team won and was deserving of Lord Stanley’s Mug.  Welp, the Red Wings lost so here is me holding up my end of the bargain.

For me it goes back to before this series even started.  The Penguins just swept the Carolina Hurricanes and the Red Wings were trying to take care of a feisty and youthful Chicago Blackhawks.  I had no doubt in my mind it would be the Red Wings representing the Western Conference in this year’s Finals, but I was hoping it would not be the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference.  As everyone knows, the Red Wings took care of the Penguins in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.  In my opinion, I see no benefit of having a Finals rematch for the winning team as bad things always seem to happen for them.   Sure, winning two Stanley Cups in a row against the same team is great for egos and bragging rights, but that could be construed as just being greedy… and mean.  In the end, yes, it’s still a Stanley Cup and, no matter who you play, winning it is unbelievably great; I just think the bad things that can come from a rematch outweigh the positive.

That’s especially the case with the circumstances that surrounded this rematch.  The Penguins were a younger bunch with two of the game’s brightest stars looking to avenge last year’s defeat against a franchise that has been winning Stanley Cups in the past 15 years like it’s easy.  If that weren’t enough motivation for Pittsburgh, one of their best players signed with the Red Wings during the past off-season because he thought it would provide him with the best chance to win a Stanley Cup.  Certainly the move can come off as a slap in the face to Pittsburgh, who traded for him mid-season of 2008 to help them win a Stanley Cup and once that didn’t happen, offered him a long term contract to help the Pens return to the Finals and redeem themselves for years to come.  Hind sight is 20/20, so after seeing the Penguins win this year, which I’m sure felt sweet for people bitter about Hossa unselfishly passing up on much more money to sign for one-year with the historically better Detroit Red Wings, it was still the right move at the time.  Detroit has won 4 Stanley Cups in the last 12 years and had the talent to easily repeat this year, especially with the addition of Hossa.  I don’t think there’s any denying that the Red Wings were the favorites to repeat all season long.  Hossa wanted the best chance to win a Stanley Cup and I think Detroit probably had the best odds coming in to the season and throughout it.  I think Hossa made the right move and I still believe that, even after Lidstrom’s last second chance to tie Game 7 pounded off of Penguins goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury’s chest and assured Pittsburgh the 2009 Stanley Cup.  I digress.  Pittsburgh’s motivation to get back at Detroit for beating them last year and the opportunity to tell Hossa to shove it for turning down their offer was far more motivating and advantageous to them in the rematch than Detroit winning another Stanley Cup against the same team.  I think that’s the type of thing that can swing a series before it even starts. 

Pre-series concerns aside, it wound up being one hell of a Stanley Cup Finals.  When Detroit jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, it looked all but certain that Detroit would repeat and send Pittsburgh into mourning for the second season in a row.  However, behind Mario Lemieux’s calming speeches and the gritty determination of a now experienced Stanley Cup Finals group, the Penguins showed no quit.  After the Pens won both games three and four on their home ice, it was a new series and the Red Wings were on their heels for the first time of the playoffs. 

Game 5 was all Detroit back at the Joe, but not for a minute did Penguins fans or their team believe this series was over.  I certainly didn’t think so, especially since it scared me that everyone, and even their mothers who moved to Egypt to get away from hockey, believed the Red Wings would win this series after the 5-0 Game 5 humping.  In Game 6, Pittsburgh, once again, bounced back to defend their home ice in what was probably the greatest game of the series.  They eked out a 2-1 victory behind solid goaltending from Fleury who shook off being embarrassingly chased from Game 5.

That took us to Game 7, the rarest and greatest games a Championship series could ask for.  Anything can happen in Game 7s to alter the outcome; a simple bounce, bad call, or anything for that matter, can happen in one team’s favor and finish the other team’s long season of hard work with the snap of your fingers.  In this Game 7, the first Finals Game 7 for the Red Wings since 1955, Pittsburgh dominated for the first 30+ minutes and took advantage of a couple Red Wings’ defensive mistakes to put the puck to the back of the net.  The Red Wings responded finally with their patented lengthy ambushes late in the 3rd, however it was just not enough as Fleury resembled the complete opposite of his Game 5 self.  With six seconds remaining, Fleury was able to stave off one last Red Wings attack and what looked like a tying goal off the stick of Nicklas Lidstrom to secure the Penguins the 2009 Stanley Cup.

Ironically, I was in Pittsburgh for Game 7–a trip I planned months ago for the Tigers interleague series with the Pirates. As the game clock struck zeros, I had to watch 15-20 Penguins fans jump up and down together in a small apartment complex while I sat behind the couch in my Wings hat and classic Yzerman jersey with a blank stare directed toward the HD television set where the entire Penguins players celebrated on the Joe Louis Arena Ice.  One Penguins fan ran up to his room and brought down a tin foil Stanley Cup and began passing it around for his yellow and black dressed friends to kiss and raise as high as the ceiling would allow them to. 

It was at that point I exited the room and took my frustration out on a dry wall in the other room (which I will wind up paying for).  With knuckles as red as the sleeves of my jersey, but the pain in my heart much worse than my battered hands, I came to the realization that the Wings put up a valiant effort and lost to a worthy opponent.  I decided to return to the living room, where Pens fans were still rejoicing, to congratulate all my buddy’s friends on their team winning the Cup.

I’m as big of a Detroit fan as there is and despite the frustration and depression that came with this loss, a true sports fan must swallow their pent up emotions and pride, put all the mid-series trash talking aside, and admit defeat.  This series was a lot of fun to watch, write about, and even exchange some friendly smack talk.  In the end, the team most deserving of hoisting the Cup did and that’s that.  End of story.  Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Champions.

Comparing The 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins To The 2008-09 Team

With the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins battling the Detroit Red Wings for the Stanley Cup, I decided to compare this years team to the 1991-92 Penguins team that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.  The only common link between the two teams is Mario Lemieux.  Player then, owner now.

The 1991-92 Pens finished third in their conferences regular season and struggled to get by Washington in the first round, winning 4-3.  They then got by the powerhouse Rangers 4-2.  The semis were a cake walk as the Pens swept Boston, and won the championship by sweeping Chicago.

Mario Lemieux led the 91-92 Pens en route to winning the Art Ross & Conn Smythe trophies.  Super Mario had 44 goals and 87 assists, good for 131 points.  The next big dog on that particular team was Kevin Stevens.  Stevens was second behind Lemieux in scoring for the league that year.  Stevens had 54 goals and 69 assists for 123 points. 

The 91-92 Penguins were blessed with offensive talent.  Larry Murphy may have been the best at keeping the puck in the zone during a powerplay.  Jaromir Jagr and Mark Recchi scored frequently.  Ron Francis was nearing the twilight of his career, but was a great second-line center.  Tom Barrasso was in net for the two championships.  The Penguins defense gave up too many points during the regular season in 91-92.  In fact, they gave up more points than everybody in the league besides the Quebec Nordiques and the expansion San Jose Sharks.

The 2008-09 version of the Pittsburgh Penguins has a similar top two on offense.  Evgeni Malkin had 35 goals and 78 assists for 113 points.  Sidney Crosby had 33 goals and 70 assists for 103 points.  This is where the similarities stop on offense in this comparison.  The next highest scorer on the team was Jordan Staal with 49 points.  Sergei Gonchar and Bill Guerin were nice additions and had they played full seasons, I am still not sure this team would even be close to the 91-92 team in overall firepower.

What the 08-09 team does have that the 91-92 team did not get much of is defense.  Brooks Orpik is a bad man.  If this years Penguins had the 91-92 defense, they would be out already.  To hold a powerful Detroit Red Wings team to four third period shots says alot about a defense.

Marc Andre-Fleury is better than Tom Barrasso by leaps and bounds.  Fleury showed in game four he is the real deal at clutch time.

Overall, I have to say the 08-09 team isn’t quite the special bunch that the 91-92 team was.  If they win the cup, then they overachieved with what they had.  Coach Blysma has really been an asset coming in after the All-Star break and really turning things around.  Scotty Bowman is a legend in hockey and had many toys to play with.

Edge: 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin Wins Art Ross Trophy

Congratulations go to Evgeni Malkin for winning the 2009 Art Ross Trophy.  The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the NHL scoring leader.  The Penguins scored two 3rd period shorthanded goals to beat Monytreal in their regular season finale.  Malkin scored his 35th sealing his first ever scoring championship.

Malkin joins Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Sidney Crosby as past Ross Trophy winner.  Geno credits his teammates for winning the Ross Trophy this season and says it was a team effort.

Pittsburgh will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.  The Penguins are 18-3-4 under Coach Dan Bylsma and seem like the hottest team going into the playoffs.

Congratulations Geno!

Sidney Crosby Serves Gatorade After Losing A Shootout To Head Coach Dan Blysma

Sidney Crosby seems to have taken his latest loss in good humor.  At a recent Pittsburgh Penguins practice, Crosby was defeated by new Head Coach Dan Blysma in a mock shootout.  Crosby said the contest was fixed, but paid up on his bet, serving Gatorade to his teammates, in a graceful manner.  Crosby earned the nickname “Juice Boy“, and will probably be ribbed by his fellow Penguins for a very long time

Don Cherry Bashing Evgeni Malkin

Don Cherry is a legendary announcer in Canada.  After the comments he made about the Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin, I’m not sure many people in the Steel City will be seeking his autograph.  After watching this clip at least ten times and once in slow motion, I still can’t seem to understand why the brash Cherry is calling either of the two a cheapshot.  Cherry even takes a swipe at the Pittsburgh announcers calling them “idiots” for awarding Malkin with the “Sandwich of The Game“, an award used to describe a good shot into the boards.

 

The Undpredictable Pittsburgh Penguins – Hot Or Cold?

For the life of me, I can’t seem to figure out why the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins can be so hot for a couple of weeks and then can’t do anything right for the next couple of weeks.  I understand that this years team is young, they need to mature and get used to playing such a long and trying season.  I also understand that adding Bill Guerin into the mix will help these younger players.  Look at all of that talent though.  Goodness, between Malkin, Crosby, and Sykora, we are looking at potentially 120 goals and over  300 points. 

In fairness, injuries to Crosby and Malkin have slowed the team at times but scoring goals usually isn’t the problem, giving them up is.  Mario Lemieux should have went goalee and defenseman shopping before the trade deadline.  I have seen the Pens give up four in a period a couple of times this year.  How many hockey games can you lose 6-5 before you figure out that you need something sturdier between the pipes?  Put a cardboard cutout of Tom Barasso in the crease, it may slow things down.

Will the Penguins make the playoffs?  I sure hope so.  They seem to be on another upswing and if they can make it last, they can stay qualified for playoff hockey.  If they start to lose again, see the enclosed video clip.