Friday, 3 October 2014

Game 3 - Niagara IceDogs at Mississauga ScaredyFish

Game #3
Niagara IceDogs


Mississauga Steelheads
TV: TVCogeco (Niagara) Rogers TV (GTA) – Finally! Back to cvilisation!
Radio: 610 CKTB (Niagara) None - Mississauga

The Opponent
 Founded 1996
OHL Championships: None
Memorial Cup Championships: None

The Arena

 The Hershey Centre. Capacity 6,000. Built for the expansion Mississauga IceDogs and opened in 1996. It’s large for the OHL and sits in the suburbs of Toronto.  A nice feature is the portrait of the Queen, a throwback to classic Jr. barns. Located off highway 403, but without an off ramp to easily get there. Large parking lots, plenty of free parking, but minimal exits, so enjoy trying to get out of there. Also it is in the middle of big box suburbia, so limited pre/post game options.

The Sweater to be proud of

Wow, this is pretty nice looking. Great colours, classic look, good job guys…

The secret shame
Being a secret in your own community is pretty shameful.


Last season series:  Niagara 3 – Mississauga 5

Being in the shadow of the GTA is tough. 
So many options competing for attention and entertainment dollars. Top notch restaurants. All the top stage shows coming by. NHL, AHL, CWHL, (Central) CHL hockey teams. NBA, NLL, MLB, MLS, and CFL all part of the sports scene.  It’s no wonder the Majors couldn’t draw when they were in the heart of Toronto. Brampton moved north where there’s no competition. 
So how does the Mississauga team try to break apart from the pack, give themselves a new identity?

“Hey, we need to make this team Mississauga’s own, what should we do?”
“Eh...get some Maple Leafs sweaters and slap a fish on it”
“But the only fish patch we have lying around is one of a terrified trout”
“…eh, we won’t be here much longer anyway”

Look at this logo. It’s terrified to be here.

Those eyes.

It gives away the fear.

It knows it’s not long for this world.

Stealing the Maple Leafs look was bad enough but then they drafted the Leafs #1 pick in the import draft? What a waste of a pick, the kid is playing the SHL against adults, he would easily be in the Marlies top 6, why the hell would they send him to the OHL?  Coverage in the major papers read in the GTA is non-existent, and the OHL lists no radio partner. 
Hopefully when they move to Waterloo or Buffalo they get their own identity & some attention.

The IceDogs are 0-2 to start the season, that's rough, but it's 2 out of 68 games. No need to panic yet, 'dogs fans. Lots of time for wins. What better way to start than by beating the team that made you homeless?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Game 2 - Niagara IceDogs at Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Game #2 - Saturday, September 27 - 7:07PM

 Niagara IceDogs
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds


The Opponent
 Founded 1962
OHL Champions 1985, 1991, 1992. 
Memorial Cup Champion in 1993 (host)

The Arena

Essar Centre. Built 2006. Capacity 5,000. Newer arena with custom items like stained glass windows, flags and banners from old Memorial Gardens remain, windows to the outdoors are plentiful.

The Sweater to be proud of
All of them. A clean look. Great colours. But they took the white off the shoulders of the away sweaters, so now they look like giant twizzlers nibs on the ice.

The secret shame 
They put advertisements front and centre on their jersey.


 Eric Lind- wait, what? He refused to report? Well I’m sure it was just a youthful mistake.

Last season series: Niagara 0 - Sault Ste. Marie 2

The Soo, Gateway to.....Manitoba?: The Greyhounds tend to have one advantage no one else has at home. Teams have to prepare for a journey longer than from The Shire to Mordor just to get to the game. The advantage now is after being holed up in a bus what probably seems like decades after the 14th viewing of Slap Shot, the visitors are stuck in a sitting position, which probably affects their play. Once again there's no TV, because I assume they can't get cable due to polar bears constantly eating the lines. There's a place called Sugar Island nearby, but I bet it's just a peninsula. Also, they hate capitalism, since they don't allow stores to open on boxing day, and why can't the people of The Soo have such great discounts?  The town is sister cities with Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan because sucks to creativity. And they have a memorial to Phil Esposito, despite him not being dead yet, but I guess he's dead to The Soo.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Game #1 - Niagara IceDogs @ Sudbury Wolves

Game #1 – Friday Sept. 26, 2014, 7:30PM

Niagara IceDogs
Sudbury Wolves


The Opponent
Founded 1962.
No OHL Championships.
No Memorial Cups.
2012 World Jr. Club Cup Champions

The Arena

Sudbury Community Arena. Built 1951. Capacity 5,100. Classic Jr. Barn. Great sightlines, rough seats, wood ceiling, and a flying wolf. What should pop into mind when you think Jr. Hockey

The Sweater to be proud of: 
A nice combo of Blue and White, the howling wolf with the blood smacking the lips, but the apron strings.... Damn you Reebok.

The secret shame

You brought back the Green and White? What? Why?

Glorious Alumni

Randy "Feed the fucking chickens" Carlyle

Last season series: IceDogs 2 - Sudbury 4

Why this is a bad team and you should absolutely not cheer for them:  
They've played favourites withnewspapers, had a coach quit over being forced to play the owners kid. They gave us Randy Carlyle (and retired his number!). I mean if that last sentence wasn't enough to make you root against them, I don’t know what to say.  Okay sure, I do love their arena, the best old fashioned barn in the OHL now that The Jack has gone back to JrB only. They do have that flying wolf too…  What am I saying, you shouldn't cheer for this team. I've been to one game in Sudbury (ohhey look, the IceDogs destroyed them), it was quite the affair, though their fans did intimidate my poor little brother while we were there. (He won’t admit it but he still has nightmares about it). Born in 1962 but no league championships. Even the Leafs have won a championship since then! They've only made the Finals twice! How you can root for a team with such a lack of respect for the fans that they won’t win you anything in a half century. Also, they have no TV, because of two things 1) TV hasn't made it that far north yet or 2) the rumours of the Sudbury Owners not wanting games televised, forcing fans to buy tickets, aka pulling a Wirtz, are true. NO TV NO ICEDOGS MAKES ADAM SOMETHING SOMETHING....

Do the right thing, Root for the IceDogs tomorrow night.

Oh, and the Wolves pulled a Sens and hung banners for a different franchise in their arena.

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!