Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mariners' anthem memory

 
Two years ago this week, THIS happened.

 
On May 9, 2012, I had the honor of performing the National Anthem at the Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers game at Safeco Field. The date is pretty special, because it was the day after the anniversary of my mother's passing (May 8, 1991). For those of you who know me, you also know my mother was a huge baseball fan and a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees.

At the beginning of the 2012 season, I sent the Mariners a clip of me singing at a Seattle Thunderbirds game with no expectations. Imagine my surprise (shock) when they emailed to book me (!) and offered these dates: May 7, 8 or 9.

I don't believe in coincidences.

After a long and somewhat tearful conversation with my sister Kimberly, I selected May 9. We both felt performing on May 8, the actual date of our mother's passing, might prove to be too emotional. I had a terrible sound check (seriously - I started way too high and was intimidated by the players who were taking batting practice on the field). The three-hour wait that followed only served to ratchet my anxiety into orbit.

Then, something weird happened.

As I stepped onto the field to sing, a sense of calm washed over me. I stepped up to the mic - and sang. I didn't fall apart until I finished singing and walked off the field and into my family's waiting arms. We then enjoyed watching the M's beat the Tigers 2-1.
 
I'm so thankful to the Seattle Mariners for helping make one of my anthem dreams come true... and thankful to my friend Elaine, who recorded it on her phone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WHL US Division well-represented in NHL playoffs... plus Seattle's "Golden Boy" TJ Oshie

 
Fans of WHL's US Division teams have a number of teams to cheer for in the first round of the NHL playoffs. But if you're not a diehard fan and want to know who to follow, I've done the legwork for you. Below are players from WHL US Division teams whose NHL teams are in the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup. 

In addition, one of the Seattle-area's homegrown stars, TJ Oshie, is shaking off an injury in an attempt to help lead the St. Louis Blues in the Cup chase.

Take a look at the list of players below. Let me know if I've left anyone out. And may your team win the Cup (if your team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, that is).

TJ Oshie - product of Seattle Junior Hockey Association


 
Brenden Dillon (2007-2011) - Dallas Stars (v. Anaheim Ducks)

 
Patrick Marleau (1995-1997) – San Jose Sharks (v. Los Angeles Kings)
 
Cory Sarich (1998) – Colorado Avalanche (v. Minnesota Wild)
 
 Nate Thompson (2001-2005) – Tampa Bay Lightning (v. Montreal Canadiens)

 
Radko Gudas  (2009-2010) – Tampa Bay Lightning (v. Montreal Canadiens)

 
Ryan Murray (2008-2013) – Columbus Blue Jackets (v. Pittsburgh Penguins)

 
Note: Former Silvertips Head Coach Craig Hartsburg is Columbus Blue Jackets’ Assistant Coach
Carey Price (2002-2007) – Montreal (v. Tampa Bay Lightning)

 
Clayton Stoner  (2002-2005) – Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)
 


Tyler Johnson (2007-2011) – Tampa Bay Lightning (v. Montreal Canadiens)
 

Darcy Kuemper (2007 - one game) –  Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)
 
Jared Spurgeon (2005-2010) – Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)
 
Ray Whitney (1988-1991) – Dallas Stars (v. Anaheim Ducks)
 
Note: Former Chiefs Head Coach Mike Babcock is Detroit Red Wings’ Head Coach
Note: Former Chiefs Assistant and Head Coach Bill Peters is Detroit Red Wings’ Assistant Coach
 Braydon Coburn (2000-2005) - Philadelphia Flyers (v. New York Rangers)

Brandon Dubinsky (2002-2006) – Columbus Blue Jackets (v. Pittsburgh Penguins)


Marian Hossa  (1997-1998) – Chicago Blackhawks (v. St. Louis Blues)

 
Ryan Johansen (2009-2011) – Columbus Blue Jackets (v. Pittsburgh Penguins )
 
Cody McLeod (2001-2005) – Colorado Avalanche (v. Minnesota Wild)
 
Brenden Morrow (1995-1999) – St. Louis Blues (v. Chicago Blackhawks)


Nino Niederreiter (2009-2011) – Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)


Luca Sbisa (2010) – Anaheim Ducks (v. Dallas Stars)

Colton Sceviour (2004-2008) – Dallas Stars (v. Anaheim Ducks)


 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Puckpourri: T-Birds love, 'Tips news, two ooh's + one OMG GWG

T-BIRDS LOVE
The Seattle Thunderbirds proved to be no match for the CHL-leading Kelowna Rockets, losing all four games in their WHL playoffs second round match-up. The T-Birds showed some flashes of brilliance, but unfortunately, the Rockets shined just a bit brighter, winning 3 of 4 games pretty handily: 6-2, 6-3, -5-4, 5-2. 

(Photo: Kelowna Rockets/WHL)

I'm not going to try to wrap up the season. That's definitely not my strong suit. I will say this: I thoroughly enjoyed myself this season, both as a fan and as an anthem singer. T-Birds fans are incredibly friendly, supportive and loyal. AND they sing along. I can't wait to see what next season brings.

In the meantime, here are write-ups from hockey minds I respect and admire:

Thom Beuning (The "Voice of the T-Birds"): The Last Harrumph
Andy Eide (T-Birds writer for MyNorthwest.com): T-Birds season ends with 5-2 loss to Rockets in Game 4

Player notes:

The team and fans said goodbye to Mitch Elliot, who wrapped up his fifth and final season. He played his entire WHL career with the T-Birds, which is a bit of a rarity in these times. He played in a total of 322 regular season games, scored 14 goals and had 20 assists. He played in 16 playoff games, scored 1 goal (against the Everett Silvertips in Game 5 of this year's playoffs), and had 2 assists. I had the chance to sit and chat with Mitch, his parents and his billet parents. That story will post very soon. I will say this about Mitch - he's a class act, and I expect this young man to succeed at whatever he puts his mind to doing.

(Mitch Elliot/Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL)


Captain Justin Hickman signed an ATO with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (the Islanders' AHL team). Here's the release. I wonder whether former T-Birds Captain Thomas Hickey (current d-man for the Isles) will be able to offer any tips.


(Justin Hickman/Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL)

D-man Shea Theodore has been called up to the Norfolk Admirals (the Ducks' AHL team). Here's the release.
(Shea Theodore/Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL)
'TIPS NEWS
The Everett Silvertips have got to be proud of goaltender Austin Lotz, who made the NHL Central Scouting Service's final rankings of North American goaltenders prior to the Entry Draft in June. Lotz came in at number 22 of the top 30 goalies. By all accounts, Austin had a stellar season: 57 games played, Record: 31W (including 5 shutouts), 18L, 3OTL, 2SOL. His GAA was 2.53 and SV% WAS 0.905%.
(Austin Lotz/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)
 
Player notes:
Captain Matt Pufahl signed an ATO with the Lake Erie Monsters (the Avs' AHL team). Here's the release. The d-man will protect former enemy opponent, former T-Birds goalie Calvin Pickard.
 
(Matt Pufahl/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)

Josh Winquist and Jujhar Khaira have joined the Oklahoma City Barons (the Oilers' AHL team). JJ signed a contract with Edmonton over the summer, while Josh signed an ATO. (Side note: The Silvertips Booster Club has this neat thing they do every year - they match each member up with a player in a "secret pal" program. The pals deliver good cheer to their players throughout the season, along with gift cards. At the end of the regular season, they host a party where the pals and players finally meet, and the pal gives his/her player one last gift. I was proud to be JJ's secret pal this season, although I couldn't make it to the reveal party because of a prior commitment. I'm told he thoroughly enjoyed his gift, a mounted photo of him in action against the Winterhawks, snapped by awesome photographer Chris Mast. I wish JJ the best of luck with the Barons and beyond).
 
(Jujhar Khaira/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)
 
(Josh Winquist/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)

Mirco Mueller has been called up to the Worcester Sharks (San Jose's AHL team). The Sharks drafted him 18th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Read about all three players here.
(Mirco Mueller/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)


TWO OOH'S
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pens):  incredible flip to deny Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson in the shootout the other night.



Kris Letang (Pens): suffered a stroke six weeks ago. Wednesday night, he laced 'em up and hit the ice for the first time and played like he'd never left. I won't lie - seeing him back in the game makes me nervous, but as friends (and Tanger himself) pointed out, a stroke could hit at any time, no matter what he's doing. Why not at least be doing what he loves? I can't argue with that.


(Kris Letang/Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins/Getty)

Jonathan Quick (Kings): Kings fans know what a class act Jonathan Quick is - now, the entire nation knows. Watch what happened when he surprised a young fan on the Ellen Show:



OMG GWG
Justin Holl (University of Minnesota): This kid waited until the final 6 seconds of the final 4 of the Frozen Four to score his very first goal of the season. And what a goal! Holl's shot lifted the Golden Gophers over the UND Fighting Sioux team to land in the championship game against Union College, who beat Boston College Thursday. That game takes place tomorrow (Saturday, April 12) at 7:30pm ET on ESPN.



Talk about the ultimate buzzer-beater.


 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Puckpourri: Ugh T-Birds, incredible comeback in Kootenay, baby "Blues" for TJ Oshie... + the King of Pop-- on ICE?!

1. UGH, T-BIRDS

Game 1 in the second round of the WHL playoffs is in the books and the Seattle Thunderbirds got the ugly end of the stick. The Kelowna (formerly the TACOMA) Rockets took advantage of a number of penalties and just plain outmanned the T-Birds to a final score of 6-2.

 (Photo: Kelowna Rockets/WHL)

Ugh.
Double Ugh.

I know Kelowna finished the regular season with a whopping 118 points, more than any team in the WHL, OHL or QMJHL. Powerhouse? You bet. Unbeatable? No team is unbeatable. Just ask the 2008-2009 San Jose Sharks, who won the President's Trophy with 117 points, only to lose 4-2 to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs. Or the 2009-2010 Washington Capitals, who finished the season with a whopping 121 points only to go down in 7 games against the Montreal Canadiens, also in first round action.

I'm not a sports psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. But I'd say the T-Birds are facing more than a formidable opponent in the Kelowna Rockets this series. Of course the Rockets are formidable - they've got the best record in the CHL. But they also have something else: history - and recent history at that. In the first round of the playoffs last year, Seattle won the first 3 games and seemed poised to finish off the Rockets and advance to the second round. Instead, Kelowna pulled off an incredible upset, winning the next four games and leaving a stunned T-Birds team (and fans) in their wake. (They didn't advance past the second round after hitting a brick wall called the Kamloops Blazers). 

So... this armchair sports psychologist thinks maybe *some* of the T-Birds may be remembering their massive fall from grace last season and the memory is (consciously or subconsciously) messing with their minds. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first person to offer a loud "mea culpa" at center ice of ShoWare Center. But I heartily believe Seattle has what it takes to bring down this Goliath-like Kelowna team. In fact, the teams split their four regular season games with two wins apiece (4-3 Seattle, 4-3 Kelowna, 4-1 Seattle, 7-3 Kelowna). 

Here's hoping the T-Birds roll into Prospera Place tomorrow night and show the Rockets they don't care about 118-point regular season records or what happened last year, then ride that momentum to Kent and show the hometown crowd, and most importantly, themselves, that they've got the heart and the talent to keep the post-season going.

2. INCREDIBLE COMEBACK IN KOOTENAY

And I'm not talking about the playoffs, although the Ice handily defeated the Calgary Hitmen 4-2 to advance to the second round (Game 1 against Medicine Hat is tomorrow night). 

No, the incredible comeback I'm talking about happened before the March 29th game at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook, when Ice forward Tim Bozon took part in the ceremonial puck drop before his teammates skated to a 5-3 victory and knocked Calgary out of the playoffs.

(Photo: Barry Coulter)

Tim spent the better part of the month in a Saskatoon hospital, battling a form a bacterial meningitis so serious, doctors had to place him in a coma for two weeks while they treated him. He was released from the hospital on March 28 and watched his teammates win the next night. The Montreal Canadiens prospect is now back home in France with his parents, where he'll continue the healing process.

Here's the news conference with Tim and his father (warning: dad gets a little emotional)


Here's video of the ceremonial puck drop: 


3. BABY "BLUES" FOR T.J. OSHIE

Blues star (and Seattle Junior Hockey Association alum) T.J. Oshie has been tearing up the ice and helping St. Louis clinch a playoff spot and a whopping 111 points. But on the Today Show this morning, TJ and his fiancee Lauren shared the emotional challenge faced by their newborn daughter, Lyla Grace, who was born with a serious birth defect called gastroschisis (part of baby Lyla's intestines were outside her tiny body). Surgeons successfully repaired the problem and baby Lyla is expected to go home with her mom and dad next week. 




3. THE KING OF POP... ON ICE?!

The Hubby (@StuV94) spotted this photo tweeted out by @History_Pix today. He retweeted it, then texted me to check it out.


t

The photo is identified as a ceremonial puck drop between the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins on November 16, 1984. According to a story posted by the Canucks in 2009, the only thing the team can confirm is that Stan Smyl is #12 for Vancouver, and we all recognize #66 in the Penguins uniform. But they couldn't confirm with complete certainty that the gentleman holding the puck aloft is actually the King of Pop himself. According to the story, Michael Jackson *was* in Vancouver at the time, performing for three nights at BC Place, so one would assume this was the real deal participating in the ceremonial puck drop. He looks real to me and it seems like the type of thing the kid in him would have enjoyed doing. 

I'd love to sit here and continue ruminating with you, but I've gotta go. I think a UFO just landed in my backyard - and I think Bigfoot's behind the wheel. #TheTruthIsOutThere



Monday, March 24, 2014

My worst hockey nightmare comes true: The T-Birds and Silvertips face EACH OTHER in WHL playoff action

I like to be able to cheer for a team in the playoffs freely, without stress, conflict or dare I say, guilt. So, when the WHL released its playoff bracket, I let out a loud groan as I saw who the Seattle Thunderbirds (@SeattleTBirds) and Everett Silvertips (@WHLSilvertips) would be facing in the first round: EACH OTHER.

My first reaction was, "Really, WHL? Why??????" 

Then I realized the league had absolutely nothing to do with the match-up. Their nearly identical records placed them at 4th (T-Birds) and 5th (Silvertips) in the Western Conference, which meant they would have to battle each other for the chance to advance to the Round 2.

Well, two games are in the books and it's been brutal trying to be Switzerland (aka: impartial). It's been damn hard to be happy for the team that won both games (Seattle) and sad for the team that lost (Everett). Because at the end of this series, whether it goes 4, 5, 6 or 7 games, one team's players will jubilantly advance to the next round, and one team's players will go home for the summer, utterly deflated.

I've written little tidbits about Game 1 and Game 2 for the KING 5 Sports site. They're nothing more than overviews of the game for casual fans perusing our website. But I've been reading juicier recaps courtesy of Andy Eide (@AndyEide) and Tim Pigulski (@tpigulski) on MyNorthwest.com (T-Birds) and Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) at The Herald of Everett (Silvertips), as well as admiring the stellar action shots captured by photographer Christopher Mast (@MastImages) (click here to check out the ingenious "goal cam" he set up before last night's Game 2 at Comcast Arena in Everett)


http://www.mastimages.com/
(Game 2: Kozun robs Khaira of a goal/Photo: Christopher Mast)

Game 3 takes place tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 25) at ShoWare Center in Kent. The puck drops at 7:05pm, and a few minutes before that, I'll do what I've done about half a dozen times at T-Birds games during the regular season: sing the national anthem. And I'll be wearing a T-Birds jersey because that's what anthem singers do. But for the minute or so it takes to get through the anthem, I hope all the fans inside the arena will unite as one and sing with me. 

After that, when the puck drops, you're welcome to retreat to your corners and cheer your little hearts out for your team until the final buzzer sounds. Then, maybe we can unite again-- not just as T-Birds or Silvertips fans, but as hockey fans.

At least, until Game 4 (Friday, March 28 - 7:35pm at Comcast Arena in Everett).

The rest of the schedule (if necessary):


Game 5 – Saturday, March 29, 7:05pm – Everett at Seattle (ShoWare Center, Kent)

Game 6 – Monday, March 31, 7:05pm – Seattle at Everett (Comcast Arena, Everett)

Game 7 – Wednesday, April 2, 7:05pm – Everett at Seattle (ShoWare Center, Kent)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Heartbreaking week for hockey

It's been a heavy week for hockey fans, as tragedy struck players from four teams. Fans pushed rivalries aside to unite on Twitter and other social media, offering prayers, support, sharing tears and comfort. Meanwhile, four players' families, friends and teammates struggle to make sense of the heartbreak in their midst.

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - TIM BOZON
Tim Bozon, a forward with the Kootenay ICE (WHL), was rushed to a hospital in Saskatoon, the day after helping the ICE beat the Blades 4-2 the night before. Doctors determined Tim was suffering from Neisseria Meningitis, a serious inflammation of the tissue around the brain and spine, and placed him in a coma earlier this week to help him heal. His parents flew in from Switzerland and have been constantly at his side. 

The WHL has set up a fund to help Tim and his family with expenses during his recovery process. Fans in Canada can donate at any BMO Bank of Montreal branch in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Fans in the U.S. can mail donations to:

Tim Bozon Fund
c/o Western Hockey League
Father David Bauer Arena
2424 University Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 3Y9
CANADA

Anyone looking to send get well wishes to Tim can either send them to the above address, or directly to the team:

The Kootenay ICE Hockey Club
c/o Western Financial Place
#2 - 1777 - 2nd Street North
Cranbrook, BC V1C 7G9
CANADA

Monday, March 3, 2014 - MATT STAJAN
On Monday, March 3, Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan and his wife Katie welcomed their son Emerson into the world, then grieved as the newborn passed away a short time later. Matt has taken a leave of absence from the team to be with this wife, but the Calgary Sun reports, teammates and their wives have rallied around the heartbroken couple in a show of love and support. 

Fans who want to show love and support for Matt and Katie Stajan can send cards to:

Matt & Katie Stajan
c/o Calgary Flames
PO Box 1540 Stn. M.
Calgary, Alberta T2P 3B9
CANADA

Friday, March 7, 2014 - RYAN FISCHER
 17-year-old Ryan Fischer was found unresponsive in his bed on the morning of Friday, March 7. It was later determined he had died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). His team, the Grandville High School Bulldogs, were scheduled to play in the Michigan State semi-finals that evening. According to a story in The United State of Hockey blog, Ryan's parents, Scott and Roni, visited the team and urged the players to play that night. (They lost to Detroit Catholic 3-0 in an arena filled with emotional fans from both teams supporting Ryan and his teammates).

Ryan was laid to rest on Wednesday, March 12, following a memorial service where he was remembered as kind, passionate and dedicated to doing "what's right." He had been accepted to both the US Naval Academy and West Point (he had decided to attend West Point), and dreamed of serving his country.

Fans wanting to send condolences to Ryan's family (parents Scott and Roni, siblings Kelsea and Connor) can mail them to:

The Fischer Family
c/o Grandville High School
4700 Canal Ave. SW
Grandville, MI 49418

Monday, March 10 - RICH PEVERLEY
Six minutes into the game between the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets, Rich Peverley skated to the Stars bench following a shift... then collapsed. Teammates quickly carried him into the tunnel as head coach Lindy Ruff screamed for a doctor - the entire drama broadcast live on TV. We later learned emergency crews treated Rich for a racing heartbeat and a stopped heart before rushing him to the hospital. 

Now, we learn Rich will miss the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery for atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes an irregular and rapid heartbeat that makes it difficult to send blood throughout the body. He missed the preseason because of heart issues, but had been given the green light to play following treatment - and worked with team doctors to monitor his heart and took medication regularly. 

A return to the ice remains unclear.

Fans wanting to send Rich encouragement and "get well" cards can mail them to:

Rich Peverley
c/o Dallas Stars
2601 Avenue of the Stars
Frisco, TX 75034

Many people have tweeted well-wishes to/about all of the players mentioned above, but sometimes, a good old "snail mail" letter or card can brighten things up even more. Or am I really old fashioned?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Puckpourri for Sunday, March 8: Prayers, playoffs and a whole lotta pride

This is a drive-by entry filled with links to stories that have caught my eye, gathered in one spot for you. I don't have time lately to write long and thoughtful posts, but still want to share what's making my brain hum and heart sing. Think of it as a many-course meal that's chock-full of flavor but doesn't fill you up and leaves room for that wafer-thin mint at the end...

First: Prayers (positive thoughts, healing energy, chants or whatever means through which you express yourselves):
1. Tim Bozon from the Kootenay Ice (WHL), who is in critical condition at a Saskatoon hospital, fighting a nasty bout of bacterial meningitis. We understand his parents have flown from Switzerland to be with him and that all players who came in contact with him are being treated with antibiotics and booster shots. Our thoughts are with Tim, his family, friends and teammates. If you live in a city with a WHL team, see if your team has a get well card on hand for fans to sign. The regular season ends this weekend, so hurry. If you don't live in a city with a WHL team, you can send your get well wishes to Tim via Twitter: @WHLKootenayIce - use the hashtag #GetWellTim


(Tim Bozon #20/Photo: Kootenay Ice)

2. Ryan Fischer from Grandville High School, Michigan, who passed away Friday, on the eve of the state semi-finals. According to reports, Ryan was found "unresponsive" in his bed Friday morning. It was later determined he died from hyperthotic cardiomyopathy. His parents met with his teammates and urged them to go ahead and play. You can read the full account written by Chris Peters (@ChrisMPeters) on The United States of Hockey blog.


(Ryan Fischer/Photo: Jenn Bellgraph Photography)

(NOTE: Those of you who follow CCPT Hockey Show will notice this part of the post reads exactly like the one I wrote for the show's website. It's called "streamlining" (aka, I'm too busy/lazy to write different posts about the same subjects today)

NHL Trades:
1. Martin St. Louis - it was widely known that there were issues between Marty and the powers-that-be in Tampa Bay. I'd heard trade request rumors since Team Canada's hockey team roster was announced and his name wasn't on it. But... in chatting with Clark Brooks and my co-host Cassie McClellan on this weekend's CCPT Hockey Show, I learned those trade rumors have been swirling since 2009, making for some very unhappy fans who showed their displeasure in a myriad of ways, from canceling season tickets to more visual displays, like this photo, submitted to Puck Daddy's "Jersey Fouls" column.




(Marty's new gig/Photo: New York Rangers)

2. Roberto Luongo - Confession time. I knew nothing of Roberto's NHL history prior to him joining the Canucks. I thought he had sprung, fully-formed and in uniform, ready to play from Day One. A little on-air lesson from my CCPT Hockey Show co-host Cassie McClellan and a visit to hockeydb.com revealed Luongo's full history - from his junior days in the Q, to being drafted #4 overall to the Islanders, then his stint in Florida before making that cross-country trip to Vancouver, BC during the 2006-2007 season. The return to Miami seems to have done Roberto a bit of good as he's off to a good start. However, veteran commentator (and flashy fashion guru) Don Cherry is all hot under the collar about a snarky comment tweeted out under his @Strombone1 account. 


(Roberto's new gig/Photo: Florida Panthers)

3. Michael Del Zotto - This story lit up my "feel good" radar, not because of his trade from the Rangers to Predators (back in January), but what happened last week. Seems Michael befriended a young fan with cerebral palsy several years ago. The two texted and talked daily, as well as spending time together when they could, playing video games and chatting. Young Liam didn't take the trade news too well, and Michael was also a bit bereft at leaving his little buddy. What happened next has been beautifully captured by James Murphy on NHL.com.


(Michael Del Zotto & his pal Liam)

WHL PLAYOFFS:
We're heading into the final week of regular season play across the WHL and a number of teams have already clinched playoff spots (more so in the Western Conference than in the East):



Eastern Conference teams that have clinched playoff spots:
Edmonton Oil Kings
Regina Pats
Calgary Hitmen
Medicine Hat Tigers
Kootenay Ice

Western Conference teams that have clinched playoff spots:
Kelowna Rockets
Portland Winterhawks
Victoria Royals
Seattle Thunderbirds
Spokane Chiefs
Everett Silvertips
Vancouver Giants

Stay tuned for playoff brackets....

CHARGER PRIDE:
Those of you who know me know I attended the University of Alabama Huntsville in the early 90's and developed my love of hockey by cheering on the Chargers (and serving as the school's "official" national anthem singer). If you follow college hockey, you may also be aware of the rocky road the Chargers hockey program has traversed over the past few years, as well as being cancelled, resurrected (following a tidal wave of backlash) and finding a home with the WCHA. UAH wrapped up its current season yesterday with a 2-35-1 record, which may look dismal. Okay, it is dismal. Hopefully, the coaching staff can recruit some great talent and move on from here on firmer footing. 



On a positive note, the Chargers were featured in the New York Times, in a story about the team traveling to play teams in Alaska for the first time since I was at UAH.