Friday, 5 September 2014

The all new sportsnet memorial cup!

So on Buzzing The Net today it was brought up Sportsnet wants to jazz up the Memorial Cup. A "March madness" style 16 team bracket was brought up.  Interesting.

From Gabriel Beland, translated:"Whenever the content increases, it's great for us. What is good with March Madness in the United States is that it lasts three weeks and several rivalries are born, " said the president of Sportsnet.
The Commissioner of major junior hockey in Quebec (QMJHL) admits that several scenarios are on the table. "We are open to looking at the different possibilities," said Gilles Courteau.
"It is certain that the March Madness format may be considered ... We have to make sure to have some exciting events that will bring good television ratings," Courteau said. (La Presse)

If I were to work on this plan I would take the "final four" from each league plus one wild card to fill out the bracket. Say, the team with the most points who fails to reach the final four.  That would still give the points leader who us upset in round one a reward for doing well.

That's only 15 teams. Well, we'd keep the current idea of letting the host team get a berth.  And if the host team is one of the 15?

Logic would say we'd have 2 wild cards from the host league.

But we're not in a land of logic. We're in my blog.

I'd give it to the #1 points getting out of all 3 leagues who isn't in the 15 already selected teams.

This will keep everyone on their toes.

Oh wait! Let's invite the USHL champion!

No let's not give their opponent a bye.

Okay so here are our teams:

Val D'or - 76
Baie-Comeau - 93
Halifax - 120
Blainsville-Broisband - 90
WC - Rimouski - 91(4th overall)

Portland - 113
Edmonton - 103
Kelowna- 118
Calgary - 103
WC - Victoria - 100 (5th Overall)

Guelph - 90
North Bay - 82
Erie - 106
Oshawa - 90
WC - Sault Ste. Marie -  95 (6th overall, wins tie breaker over Quebec and Medicine Hat as London is host)

London - 103

Seeding the teams is simple. 1-16 (league champs are 1-2-3) and since I'm sure Sportsnet would do it this way we won't re-seed after each round. Don't want to ruin the fun of BRACKETS. Oh what they could do with them. Bracket making show on Sportsnet360 with top Jr experts (and Damien Cox who thinks the league is all 15/16 year olds but hey, they made him their Jr guy.....)

To try and keep the brackets even we'll seed like this:
1/16      2/15
5/12      6/11

3/14      4/13
7/10      8/9

And here they are: (look I did a Photoshop)

1 - Portland vs 16 - North Bay
2 - Guelph vs 15 - Oshawa
3 - Val D'or vs 14 - Blainsville
4 - Halifax vs 13 - Rimouski
5 - Kelowna vs 12 - Baie 
6 - Erie vs 11 - The Soo
7 - Calgary vs 10 - Victoria
8 London vs 9 - Edmonton

Huh. 5/8 first round match ups are between teams from the same league and one bracket is all OHL.  Well advantage to the other two leagues.

So, taking this into consideration I used advanced algorithms and math and stuff to figure out our winners.

or.....I just simmed it in NHL14
So science says that:

North Bay upset Portland 3-1
Kelowna beat Baie-Comeau 3-2

Val D'Or beat Blainsville-Broisband 5-2
Calgary shutout Victoria 2-0

Oshawa beat Guelph 2-1
Erie takes out The Soo 3-2

Halifax blanked Rimouski 2-0
London destroyed Edmonton 5-0

After 1 round we have two champs upset but that was it, the higher ranked seed won out in the other 6 match ups.

Round two:

Oh poor WHL, we hardly knew ye.

In what Spotsnet will hate since half the country just tuned out no WHL teams made it to the final 4.

North Bay continues its cinderella run as #16 beat #5 Kelowna 3-2
Val D'Or walloped Calgary 5-2
Erie broke Oshawa, beating them 5-1
London made mince meat of the moose, also winning 5-1

The Final 4

Au Revoir to the final QMJHL team.

North Bay blanks Val D'Or 3-0
Erie gets a same 3-0 result over London

In the Finals, it's a battle of the OHL.  North Bay gets a second chance at a championship.  The lowest seeded team advances all the way to the finals.  Will their plucky spirit and heart be enough to topple the Mighty McDavid and his band of Otters?


Oh, no, sorry Butler but you lost. Again. Two time loser in one season. Neener-neener.

Congrats to the Erie Otters, winners of the Sportsnet Memorial Cup of May Madness 2014!

Well, I'd watch this tournament over the current set up no problem.  Two games per day, one in the afternoon at 4, one in prime time at 8 for the first round, 1 day break then one game at 8 each day for round 2, another 1 day break, 2 games, 2 day break, finals.

2 weeks of non stop awesome hockey.

Now if only it wasn't on at the same time as the NHL playoffs.

Or on the same channels.

Call me Sportsnet. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Hit the Road Jack...


 The Niagara IceDogs 2014 / 2015 OHL regular season opens on Friday September 26, in Sudbury facing the Wolves.  Opening on the road allows an extra week to polish, spiff, buff, shine, and make pretty the IceDogs new downtown St. Catharines home, the Meridian Centre.

Just needs a *tiny* clean up
     Yes, the IceDogs will finally be moving out of the 85 year old Jack Gatecliff Arena. While it has it's quirks, like two person benches, an almost impossible to navigate "concourse" around the top of the seats, a non functioning shot clock and rows that are just a wee bit narrow for modern legs...
Just...just a little cramped
I still love it though, and it's living at least 3 more years.  The St. Catharines Falcons will continue to call it home, and hopefully hang a few more banners up before it's curtains.
They're good at that
But, today we don't mourn The Jack. We welcome the new kid. The Meridian Centre, and a new season of IceDogs hockey.

Just a teensy bit more work to go
Let's take a quick tour, photos are from my city councillor (I supposedly have two but judging by communication.....) Mat Siscoe. I was totally going to sneak in for myself but he saved me the trouble.

A view of the stage end of the building, the stands are in a horseshoe shape, allowing easy transition to a concert or show venue from hockey. There will be temporary seats here.

Concourse view

The south pedestrian bridge.  Since the arena is built in where the old canal was, the top of the rink is leve;l with the rest of downtown.  The bridges link the rink to the parking garages above for easy, quick access and plenty of nearby parking.

A view from the suites. All of the available suites were leased the day they became available.  Also the IceDogs have sold over 3,000 seasons tickets.  The new rink holds 4,500 for hockey and the goal is 3,500 seasons tickets, more tickets than there was capacity in The Jack.  Love the enthusiasm people have for the new building, and faith in the management of the team to build a competitor.  Nice to see competent hockey management. 

Speaking of a competitor, let's dive into an early look at the games you must see next season.

We know there will be one new face on the IceDogs for sure, with Mikkel Aargaard joining Niagara from the Danish League.  No word if he'll be asked not to hog all the A's when camp opens.

Training camp opens August 26, I'll be there with my oldest kid, so if you see a tired looking guy with an overly excited kid, thats me.

So some dates you must see:

Sept. 26 @ Sudbury Wolves

You must see a game in Sudbury.  I love that rink, but I loved The Jack so if you hated The Jack then....well go for a Friday game just for the crowds.
And to see this:

Oh yeah, thats the stuffed.

Oct 2nd vs Mississauga Fake Leafs Steelheads

The opening night of the Meridian Centre we host the team that made the IceDogs ours.  When the St. Michaels Majors moved to Mississauga, they kicked the IceDogs out of the Hershey Centre, and we adopted them.  Our very own rescue dogs.

So let's open the MC with a bang and a win over those frightened fish.

why so scared little fish?
Oct 10 @ Ottawa 67s
Ottawa returns to the Civic Centre from two seasons in the middle of nowhere.  It will be a great homecoming for them.  Until puck drop, then Niagara will ruin their night.


Oct 24, Jan 16, Feb 28 vs North Bay Battallion

North Bay Battalion.  3-1 Series lead lost.  Stan "SHHHHHHH" Butler.  Oh yeah. 
Revenge will be ours.

Jan 16 is also the first game post-trade deadline, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this year. GM/Coach Marty Williamson has said we'll be competing not rebuilding this year.

Nov 6, Nov 14, Mar 22 vs Erie Otters
Connor McDavid. See him one last time in the O.

Dec 4 vs Guelph Storm

The reigning OHL Champs and Memorial Cup runners up come to town for their only visit.
Dec 31 vs Peterborough

The annual New Years Eve game.  
Starts 1 hour early, plenty of time for enjoying a sensible and calm night out afterwards.
Jan 2 @ & Jan 3 vs Kitchener Rangers

My first game at Kitchener Square Gardens this happened in front of me

Always worth seeing the IceDogs and Rangers play a back to back, The Aud is a beautiful rink to watch a game in.

Feb 6 @ and Feb 8 vs London Knights

Fuck London forever.

Mar 22 vs Erie Otters

The last home game of the season.  It will start with a ceremony congratulating the team on winning the Hamilton Spectator Trophy for the best regular season record, and conclude with a lopsided 27-0 win over the Otters (and thats without Erie putting a centre in net), and a 16-0 run to the OHL Championship, giving the boys plenty of rest before the trip to Quebec City for the Memorial Cup.

What a year we have in store for us, eh IceDogs fans?
Our biggest job will be keeping the same awesome atmosphere from The Jack going in the new rink.  Make that noise, drive visiting teams crazy (but don't be a dick to visiting fans), and keep the spirit alive.  

See you in September, and GO DOGS GO!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Canada's Team: The Answer

Here we are, the eve of the 2014 NHL Playoffs. Above is my bracket for the NHL's bracket challenge, I'm taking a risk with the BJ's heading it to the East finals, but hey, YOLO.

(Did I use that right?)

But have we decided who is Canada's Team yet?  So far it's Chicago.

Part One.  Part Two.

  1. Chicago Blackhawks 11
  2. Montreal Canadiens 6
  3. Philadelphia Flyers 5.5
  4. Columbus Blue Jackets 3
  5. Minnesota Wild 2
  6. New York Rangers/Detroit Red Wings (tie) 1
  7. Phoenix Coyotes 0.5
  8. Dallas Stars 0
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning -5
  10. LA Kings -12
Like, runaway favourites.  Today we're looking at the final six, and it should be tough competition if Canadianness is linked to NHL success.  Away we go.


#6 Pittsburgh Penguins

Are they in Canada? No, they are in Pennsylvania, which is near-ish to Canada, but it lies on the wrong side of Lake Erie.  (as if there's a right side) -1
Ah, beautiful Lake Erie

What's the average temperature? Cold, it's in the north east and sites on a couple rivers. Good combo for just plain cold. +1
Does it snow there? Yes it does, averaging a metre per year +1
Are there Maple trees? Yes, everyone in north east N.America is lucky enough to be blessed with reminders of Canada everywhere. +1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby? Pittsburgh is lucky enough to have one of Canada;s greatest exports.  +1

Roster Breakdown: 12 USAers, 10 Canadians, 2 Finns, 1 Russian, 1 German, 1 Czech, and 1 Brunei-born son of a US Ambassador, but chose correctly (that is Canada) 35.% Canadaian.  Under 40% Canuck, yet CBC puts them on Saturday nights instead of the Canadiens.
Captains? Captain: Sidney Crosby, Super-Canadian/Hockey Robot (3G, 1S) Alternates: Chris Kunitz, Canadian (1G, 1S) & Evgeni Malkin, Russian (2G, 3S, 3B) & Brooks Orpik, USAer (1S) They need an extra Alternate in Chris Kunitz to make up the the enigmatic Russian +2
Coach? Disco Dan Blysma, American -1
General Manager? Ray Shero, American -1
Owner? Mario Lemieux, hockey legend, Knight, scorer of five goals give ways. Oh., also Ron Burkle. SO + 0.5 for half Canadian ownership.
Starting Goaltender? Marc-Andre Fluery, who is, sadly, Canadain, +1
Most Points? Sidney Crosby, with 104 points (36G 68A) +1
Is their sweater Canadian enough? 
Black & Gold, the colours of Pittsburgh sports.  Not over Canada though.  Plus Penguins are from the South Pole, which is the opposite pole of Canada.  -2 for two things not Canadian.

Total Score: 3.5

Sorry CBC, but Pittsburgh is just not Canada's Team. Despite the best Hockey AI science could create, the Crosbot is not enough. 

Cheering for them as a Canadian is like: Hoping the obnoxious guy who's new to your school, but pretends to be a lifelong alumnus, becomes valedictorian.


#5 San Jose Shorks Sharks

Are they in Canada? No, Sadly, the bay area is not yet part of Canada.  Yet. -1
What's the average temperature? Like, 12 degrees.  While not terrible, it's uh, pretty damn good. +1
Does it snow there? Nope. Average snowfall is 0 +1 (the weather on 15/4/14 may have influenced me here)
Are there Maple trees? Yes, members of the Acer family flow into Northern California. +1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby? Yes, you can get Tim Hortons Coffee there. +1
Roster Breakdown: 15 Canadians, 10 USAers, 2 Czechs, 1 Finn. 53.6% Canadian
Captains? Captain: Joe Thornton. Canadian (3G, 1S) Alternates: Patrick Marleau, Canadian (4G, 1S) & Dan Boyle, Canadian (3G, 1S) - Boy with leadership like this how have they not won before? I bet they all wear the right hats too. +3
Coach? Todd McLellan, Canadian, once played pro hockey in the Netherlands. +1
General Manager? Doug Wilson, Canadian, anti-jerk coach guy. +1 and +1 for the work in de-emphasizing the "win-at-all-costs" mentality with kids coaching. 
Owner? An American sports owning group. -1
Starting Goaltender? Antti Niemi, Finn -1
Most Points? Joe Pavelski, American, 41G, 38A -1
Is their sweater Canadian enough? 

Black and Teal aren't very Canadian colours, nor is a shark.  Unless there's a beaver riding said shark.  Although, with the wacky concepts Hockey Canada lets Nike comes up with I'm sure Teal will be a national colour soon.  Let's call it even.

Total Score: 6

Woah, a California team ties Montreal! Good for the Sharks, shame on your Canadiens.

Cheering for them as a Canadian is like: Rooting for a team that looks fantastic on paper, you know their top players by name, they dress sharp, but just can't put it together and win, dammit!

So it's like cheering for Canada at the World Jrs.


#4 St. Louis Blues

Are they in Canada? No, they're in Missorah. And I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before Canada recognizes Missourah  -1

Does it snow there? Yes, it does, it upsets the dinosaurs greatly. +1

Are there Maple trees? Sugar, Black, Red, and Silver maples. FOUR KINDS WOW! +1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby? They will if they don't already! +1
Roster Breakdown: 14 Canadians, 7 USAers, 4 Swedes, 2 Russkies, 1 Czech. 50% Canadians
Captains? Captain: David Backes, USAer (1S) Alternates: TJ Oshies, American & Alex Steen, Swede, Barret Jackman, Canadian (1G, 2B) & Alex Pietrangelo, Canadian (2G, 1S) - huh, the only two with Golds are the Canadians... +2
Coach? Ken Hitchcock, much feared Canadian +1
General Manager? Doug Armstrong, Canadian +1
Owner? St. Louis Blues Hockey Club, inc. So -1
Starting Goaltender? Ryan Miller, Amercian, Silver Medalist. -1
Most Points? Alex Steen, Swede 33G, 29A - Alex Steen? As in "Leafs traded him for Lee "my brother is a dink" Stempniak? " -1
Of course

Is their sweater Canadian enough? 

Double Blue & Gold.  Colour combos of the CFL, but not Canada.  They can have half a point for that. +0.5

Total Score: 3.5

I always had an interest in St. Louis, but I'll admit, I usually forget they exist.  If not for Pietrangelo being an ex-IceDog I probably would have forgotten to put them on the list.
Miss you!
What cheering for them as a Canadian is like: Hey remember when Wayne Gretzky was on the Blues?  Yeah most people don't. 


#3 Colorado Avalanche (I can't believe they're so high in the standings)

Are they in Canada? No, they are pretty much in the middle of the US -1

What's the average temperature? Pretty average for hockey cities. +1
Does it snow there? Oh yes, they earned that Avalanche name. +1
Are there Maple trees? A search of the colorado state forest service list of tree, surprisingly. -1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby? Google says no, Yelp says you have to go to Saskatchewan. -1
Roster Breakdown  20 Canadians (yeah, really), 3 USAers, 1 Swede, 1 Czech, 1 Russian 76.9% Canadian
Captains? Captain: Gabriel Landeskog, Swede (1G, 1S) Alternates: Cody McLeod Canadian & Paul Statsny, USAer (1S, 1B). Only one Canadian out of TWENTY as leaders? That's a bad Patrick Roy! Bad! +1
Coach? Patrick Roy.  Yes, that Patrick Roy. Canadian, mad man. +1
General Manager? Greg Sherm- no, I can't play along, It's Joe Sakic. +1
Owner? American, booooo -1
Starting Goaltender? Semyon Varlamov, Russian. -1
Most Points? Matt Duchene, 23G 47A, Canadian. +1
Is their sweater Canadian enough? 

Maroon and Blue, again, almost red, but not.  half a point for that. 0.5

Total Points: 1.5

I expected more out of a team thats basically all Canadian.  Shameful, really. They even have lots of Canadian fans, since kids are big bandwagon jumpers and they were pretty damn good the minute they left Quebec.  Which I also fiund funny.  Leave Quebec, win a cup.  Maybe thats what the Habs need to do to get #25.  Swap places with the Bulldogs.

Cheering for them as a Canadian is like: You know that one guy in your hockey league that hasn't been doing very well, and you know he could do better then he has an amazing season and even though he's not on your team you want him to do well?  Yeah ,that's what cheering for this years Avalanche is like.

Oh also, the IceDogs used "Why Not Us" In 2012 as a rally cry. Change it, guys, change it.



#2 Anaheim Ducks

Are they in Canada? No, they're right next to LA, so we can probably just copy/paste those answers here. hold on. -1

What's the average temperature? 16.7 - A great temperature, but not what we're looking for. -1
Does it snow there? Well, Weather Underground says "According to the National Weather Service, measurable snow in Downtown L.A. has occurred only three times since California statehood, most recently on January 9, 1949". So, no, it doesn't -1
Are there Maple trees? Not naturally, no. -1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby?  No, the closest location is Victoria, BC.It;'s just not hip enough. -1
Roster Breakdown 14 Canadians, 6 USAers, 3 Finns, 3 Swedes, 1 Italian, 1 Dane, 1 Swiss, 1 Teemu - 46.7% Canadian
Captains? Captain: Ryan Getzlaf, Canadian (4G, 2S) Alternates: Saku Koivu, Finn (1G, 4S, 4B) & Teemu Selanne, Finn (2S, 4B) - Only 1 Canadian, but I can't really argue with the A's.  But they don't get points. +1
Coach? Bruce Boudreau. Canadian. Do you know where he off-seasons?  Guess?  No, you're wrong. It's St. Catharines, ON for some reason. +1
General Manager? Bob Murray, Canadian +1
Owner? Henry Samueli, American, Felon -1
Starting Goaltender? Jonas Hiller, Swiss -1
Most Points? Ryan Getzlaf, Canadian 31G, 56A +1
Is their sweater Canadian enough? 

No, they aren't, they're jsut big black piles of nothing. -2 for being so bland.

Total Score: -5

Well, they fared much better than their neighbours the Kings, but not enough.  Maybe if they were still Mighty, maybe if I didn't hate their sweater for everything it's worth, but this team "meh"'s the hell out of me.

What cheering for them as a Canadian is like: You want Teemu to win in his last year.  Or you're a Habs fan who wants Saku to do well. Otherwise I don't know, you're in a coma?

#1 Boston Bruins

Are they in Canada? No, they're in Massachusetts, which is pretty Canadian looking at it, but it's the most not-Canadian Canada looking place ever. -1

What's the average temperature? Cold.  It's cold in the winter, hot in the summer. But mostly cold with a heavy chance of masshole. +1
Does it snow there? Yes indeed it does +1

Are there Maple trees? Yes, they are lucky enough to be graced with our excellent trees. Though they may get drunk and try to kick them down +1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby? No, they prefer Dunkin' Donuts. Oddballs. -1
Roster Breakdown (% Canadian must be over 50) 15 Canadians, 5 USAers, 2 Swedes, 2 Slovakians, 1 Czech, 1 German, 1 Finn 55.6% Canadian
Captains? Captain: Zdeno Chara, Slovakian (2S) Alternates: Patrice Bergeron, Canadian (5G) & Chris Kelly, Canadian & David Krejci, Czech - Soon Charas reign of terror over Bruins management will end, and they'll give the C to a true leader. +1
Coach? Claude Julien, Canadien +1. 
General Manager? Peter Chiarelli, Canadian +1
Owner? Jeremy Jacobs (pictured below) American, the devil on earth, fan hater, lockout lover. -1
Seen here visting a childrens hospital for lunch

Starting Goaltender? Tuuka Rask, Finn, apprently not worth as much as Andrew Raycroft. -1
Most Points? David Kreci, Czech -1
Is their sweater Canadian enough? 

Black & Yellow, colours of great Canadian teams as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Kingston Frontenacs.  Okay maybe not great teams, but teams anyway.  No points lost to make up for bad company.

Total Score: 1

Boston, home of the start of the Americans Revolution, the extinction of the Fenway Flounder worth escaping the tyranny of King George.  I was hoping for a higher score, I do have a soft spot for the Bruins.  It was just not meant to be, B's.

Cheering for them as a Canadian is like: It's like swallowing all of your pride, biting your tongue, and smiling politely as the guy in front of you in line at Tim Hortons screams at the cashier for being out of Boston Creams.

Well those are our choices, what a bunch they are.  Let's run down the list.

  1. Chicago Blackhawks 11
  2. Montreal Canadiens/San Jose Sharks (tie) 6
  3. Philadelphia Flyers 5.5
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins/St. Louis Blues 3.5
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets 3
  6. Minnesota Wild 2
  7. Colorado Avalanche 1.5
  8. New York Rangers/Detroit Red Wings/Boston Bruins (tie) 1
  9. Phoenix Coyotes 0.5 Didn't make the playoffs
  10. Dallas Stars 0
  11. Tampa Bay Lightning/Anaheim Ducks (tie) -5
  12. LA Kings -12
There we have it Canada, you have to cheer for Chicago. So says the list.  They're clearly the most Canadian team in the world, and if there's one thing the privately owned corporation that the NHL is, it's about national pride!

Wait, wait, I'm told we have a late comer to the competition.

#0 Mystery Team

Are they in Canada? They are in Canada, the United States, Russia, Germany, anywhere a waffle is drowning in maple syrup, anywhere Rush is blasting out a stero, anywhere jeans are being paired with a jean jacket un-ironically. +1

What's the average temperature? 98.5, the temperature of life. +1
Does it snow there? Only when it's aesthetically pleasing or there's tobogganing to be done 
Are there Maple trees? Everywhere you look +1
Is there a Tim Hortons nearby?  There is never one out of reach +1
Roster Breakdown 26 Canadians - 100% Canadian
Captains? Captain: Sidney Crosby, Canadian (3G, 1S) Alternates: Johnathan Toews, Canadian (6G, 1S) & Shea Weber, Canadian (4g, 1S) +3
Coach? Mike Babcock, Canadian +1
General Manager? STeve Yzerman, Canadian +1
Owner? Everyone, from babies to great grandparents. Except PQ voters. +1
Starting Goaltender? Carey Price, Canadian +1
Most Points? Drew Doughty, Canadian 4G, 2A +1
Is their sweater Canadian enough? 
Red, White, some gold. Oh yeah these babies are Canadian.  That back one is even an ad for Petro Canada! +3

Total Score: 15.

What cheering for them as a Canadian is like: Breathing. Eating. Sleeping

Well, with 15 points it looks like the 2014 Mens Olympic Hockey team is our winner!

Congratulations guys, you are Canada's Team!


Enjoy the playoffs everyone. If you're NHL team is in, congratulations, enjoy the roller coaster of emotions.  If not, just watch & enjoy the games without any of the worry, or pick any team.  It could be your back up team (Penguins), it could be the team of that one really awesome player you want to see do well (Anaheim), it could be a team that has players you loved in Jr (St. Louis). It could be a team someone else in your family loves (Boston/Montreal).

Whatever your reason, cheer on, enjoy the games, and if you're a Leafs fan, cheer for a Boston collapse.