Three cheers go out this weekend-- and one very loud, resounding BOO.
First Cheer: University of Alabama Huntsville Chargers hockey team
Your 2010 CHA Champs: UAH Chargers (Photo: UAH)
UAH beat Niagara last night 3-2 in overtime to claim the CHA Championship crown and a berth in the NCAA Division I hockey tournament. This is the second CHA trophy for the team from Huntsville and an amazing way to cap a season that began under a cloud of uncertainty. The CHA was dissolving and other divisions were absorbing teams into their folds. UAH requested to join the CCHA, which had an opening, but the CCHA declined, leaving UAH with two options at the end of the season: continue as an independent or fold. We still don't know exactly what's going to happen, but the group SAVE UAH HOCKEY has been working hard all season to keep us updated and also offer up ways to support the team and the program that made UAH the "Hockey Capital of the South" for a more than a quarter of a century. Click here to catch up on SAVE UAH HOCKEY's great works. And: GO CHARGERS GO!!!!
Second Cheer: Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Everett Silvertips (Photo: Frank Deines III/Everett Silvertips)
The Silvertips are one win away from claiming the US Division and Western Conference championships, after shutting out the Chilliwack Bruins 5-0 in their last home game of the regular season last night. Shane Harper opened the scoring in the first, with his 41st goal. I lost count, but I think this is also something like the 20th game in which he's scored the first goal. Harper scored again in the third, notching his 100th career goal. Chris Langkow, Byron Froese and Captain Zack Dailey also scored, while goalie (and San Jose signee) Thomas Heemskerk stopped all 25 Chilliwack shots for the shutout. For a more complete play by play, click here for an "official" recap. I don't know who wrote it, but they did a very thorough job. The Silvertips could clinch the abovementioned championships with a win tonight in Spokane. 'Tips fans should also thank the Chiefs, because Spokane knocked off Tri City 5-4 last night, thus toppling the mighty Americans out of the top spot and opening the door for Everett to sneak through. You can listen to the game on the radio at KRKO-AM, NorthSound 1380. Jon Rosen is sure to provide the exciting play by play. If you're a Chiefs fan, you will no doubt tune in to Mike Boyle on Sports Radio 1510 KGA.
Third Cheer: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Seattle Thunderbirds (Photo: Mick White/Kent Valley Sports)
The Seattle Thunderbirds deserve a big cheer for pushing through a very tough season. They'll close out the season tonight against the Vancouver Giants and salute their supporters with Fan Appreciation Night. As of right now, the T-Birds' record is: 18-41-7-5 and 41 points. The team is heavy on youngsters, including about half a dozen 16-year-olds. Star Goalie Calvin Pickard is 17 years old. Anyone who's been to even a handful of games knows how heartbreakingly close some of the losses were and should be confident that the team can only go up from here. Think about all those youngsters who now have a full season under their belts; a full season of life away from home, a grueling 72 games, travel and personal growth. Things can only look up for this young team! Want to cheer them on tonight? The game starts at 5:05pm at ShoWare Center in Kent. Click here to access the T-Birds' website and buy a ticket! This may be your last chance to see veterans Prab Rai, Jeremy Schappert and Lindsay Nielsen on the ice. To re-live the high points of the season through photos, click here to check out Mick White/Kent Valley Sports' amazing photo galleries!
Now, to the resounding BOO.
It pains me to criticize any player from one of my favorite teams, but I cannot be a good hockey fan if I don't. I'm talking about that vicious hit by Penguins' Matt Cooke that knocked Boston's Marc Savard out indefinitely with a serious concussion. If that wasn't bad enough, the NHL decided NOT TO PUNISH HIM FOR IT. I've been a Pens fan since the late 80's, but I wholeheartedly disagree with this. Matt Cooke should have been suspended and for more than a few games. The league needs to crack down on this kind of viciousness or someone is going to get killed. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. And in case you missed it, Don Cherry tackled the subject (and showed the hit) last night on HNIC. Here's the video. Go ahead and watch it, I'll wait.
The part that really gets me is that Cooke doesn't seem to care. That makes him more than a dirty player. It makes him downright dangerous. Even his own teammate Bill Guerin thinks he should have been suspended. Click here to read the story.
The thing that bothers me even more is the chatter that flooded Twitter after the NHL decided not to punish Cooke. A good number of people think a fitting retaliation is to have teams try to take Sidney Crosby out; in short, to hurt a player who had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ORIGINAL HIT. How is that fitting retribution? What is this, the code of Hammurabi, hockey-style? (A star for a star, instead of an eye for an eye?).
Just as I said I would not be a good hockey fan if I didn't call out crappy & dangerous plays by members of a team I love, I say this: Anyone who thinks hurting Crosby would make up for Cooke not being punished, DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE A HOCKEY FAN. You are stupid and ignorant if you believe this is a good idea, and even if you are my best friend, I do not want to know you.
Please - place the blame where blame truly goes: to Matt Cooke for being a dangerous punk and to the NHL for not being strong enough to stand up and do what's right.
That's all for this week. As always, I welcome your comments.