Sunday, November 30, 2008
A weary Storm team returned to Scarborough on Saturday for the second in back to back games with the Sharks. This was the Storms 8th game in just 9 days and fatigue was starting to show, As a result, everyone should happy with a tie and 3 out of 4 points for the weekend series.
The Sharks scored first after some sustained pressure in the Storm end late in the first period. Asia had made several consecutive stops but a shot was finally lifted over her while she was on the ice. The Storm finally struck back early in the third period on a powerplay. Genevieve banged in a feed from Kailee and Mari for her first goal of the season. The game remained tied although the Storm did manage some good pressure throughout the final period.
The game marked the halfway mark of the season with the Storm record at 6-2-2 and just a point out of first, In contrast, last season the team was just 1-5-4 in last place. An incredible turn around. The offense has been much better with 24 goals compared to just 9 at this point last season. The goaltending has also been better with only 13 goals allowed compared to 19 last season.
During the first half the Storm earned a gold and silver at tournaments to match the great regular season record. Lets hoping it gets even better in the second half!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Through the first seven weeks of this season, injuries have hit no fewer than 17 NHL goalies, including 12 starters. The most serious injury was to Brodeur, followed by Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, who is sidelined week to week after straining his left groin on a routine save at Pittsburgh recently.
It's not hard to figure out why. So many goalies are playing 70 games a season. Add in playoffs and that could be 90 games. Their bodies are just not getting a chance to recover.
And then there is the salary cap. Ten of the NHL's 30 teams are paying their No. 1 goalie $5 million or more this season, which likely increases the pressure on the respective coaches to play them as much as possible, no matter the injury risk. As well, the post-lockout period has brought more parity which means that there are no real bad teams anymore. So it's harder to match a backup goalie against a weaker opponent.
So when Brodeur comes back will he get a lighter workload? Don't count on it. With so many teams battling into the final few games for a playoff spot, it will be the same familiar sweater between the pipes.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The Storm took control early in the first of back to back games against Scarborough. Two goals in the first 4 minutes provided enough of a cushion as the Storm won by only a 3-2 margin. The game shouldn't have been as close but two pucks that went into the net were not picked up by the referees. The first was a blistering wrist shot by Allie that went under the crossbar and out again. The second was in a goalmouth scramble where the referees had lost sight of the puck.
The first goal was created by Amanda who powered past the Shark defense and rifled the puck at the net. The goalie made the save but Mari was there to bang in the rebound. Two minutes later Alicia fired a puck past the goalie in a scramble in front of the net. The Sharks fought back for a goal in the 2nd period. But just a minute later Lauren F jumped in from the point to fire a loose puck into the net. The Sharks pulled their goalie and narrowed the score to 3-2 before the clock ran out.
The win was the 6th of the season in just 9 games which equals the number of wins for all of last season. It pulls the Storm into a 3 way tie for first place with Mississauga and Scarborough.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Jim Gregory 1969 - 1979
Record: 334 - 324 -130 (.508)
Highlights: One of the first GMs to bring over Europeans (Borje Salming, Inge Hammerstrom). Built a core of Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Errol Thompson, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Mike Palmateer. Leafs upset the New York Islanders in the quarter-finals of the 1978 playoffs.
Lowlights: Had to deal with Harold Ballard and shoestring budgets. Firing and rehiring of Roger Neilson. Let Dave Keon go to WHA.
Punch Imlach 1979 - 1981
Record: 63-77-20 (.450)
Highlights: Acquired Rick Vaive and Bill Derlago for Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler.
Lowlights: Started the dismantling of Leafs by trading Lanny McDonald. Drafted Craig Muni, Bob McGill, Jim Benning. Brought a fat Carl Brewer out of retirement. Lost job while recuperating from a heart attack.
Gerry McNamara 1981 - 1988
Record: 166 - 302 - 67 (.355)
Highlights: As a scout discovered Borje Salming. Drafted Wendel Clark.
Lowlights: Traded Darryl Sittler for Rich Costello, Ken Strong and 2nd round pick. Claimed to have brain damage in a law suit from a car accident while managing Leafs. GM during Gardens pedophile era.
Gord Stellick 1988 - 1989
Record: 28 - 46 - 6 (.378)
Highlights: Quit because of too much interference from Harold Ballard.
Lowlights: Russ Courtnall for John Kordic trade.
Floyd Smith 1989 - 1991
Record: 61 - 84 - 5 (.421)
Highlights: Harold Ballard passed away. Drafted Felix Potvin. Traded for Peter Zezel and Bob Rouse for Al Iafrate.
Lowlights: Frank Bonello offered GM job but Ballard made lowball offer which was turned down and then offered to Floyd Smith. Tom Kurvers acquired for a first round pick (Scott Niedermayer).
Cliff Fletcher 1991 - 1997
Record: 226 - 219 - 58 - 8O (.508)
Highlights: Doug Gilmour trade. Also picked up Grant Fuhr and Dave Andreychuck. Leafs make to semi finalsin 1993. Trades Wendel Clark for Mats Sundin.
Lowlights: Forced to dismantle team because Steve Stavros was having money troubles.
Ken Dryden 1997 - 1999
Record: 75 -73-16 (.507)
Highlights: Signs Cutis Joseph as free agent. Leafs make semi finals in 1999.
Lowlights: Lost power struggle to Pat Quinn. Put fans to sleep during interviews,
Pat Quinn 1999 - 2003
Record: 169 -109 - 35 -15 (.608)
Highlights: His most notable acquisitions include Gary Roberts, Darcy Tucker, Alexander Mogilny and Eddie Belfour. Leafs make semi finals in 2002.
Lowlights: Trades Alyn McAuley, Brad Boyce and 1st round pick for Own Nolan. Returns to just coaching but blocks hiring of strong GM and instead job goes to John Ferguson.
John Ferguson 2003 - 2008
Record: 145 -110 -10 -30O (.569)
Highlights: Umm, Leafs made the playoffs in 2003-04.
Lowlights: Raycroft trade. Gives Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina no-trade contracts. Signs free agent Jason Blake for 5 years. Unprepared for post-lockout era.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tonight the Storm resumed the regular season against the winless Markham-Stouffville Stars with a 5-0 win. Although the Storm was sloppy at times, they dominated the opponents and 3 shots off posts and crossbars kept the score down.
The Storm actually put the game away in the dying seconds of the first period with two quick goals with 8.5 and 2.6 seconds remaining. The first period goals were scored by Sherri and then Gabby right of the faceoff at centre ice. There was no additional scoring until the third period when Amanda rifled a shot by the Stars goalie. Later in the period Gabby scored her second goal of the game while shorthanded. The scoring was capped by a powerplay goal by Kailee with just over a minute remaining in the game. Gabby finished the game with 2 goals and 1 assist, Sheri had 1 goal and 1 assist while Mari earned 2 assists. The shutout went to Asia. This marks the 11th shutout this season in just 20 games.
The big challenge comes this weekend with a double header against the first place Sharks.
Monday, November 24, 2008
After an encouraging first 10 games, the Maple Leafs have perhaps come back down to Earth. In the first 10 games the Leafs earned 11 points but the past 1o games there were just 3-5-0-2. At that time it didn't look like the Leafs would be a lottery pick team and might even compete for a playoff spot. However, they are now just 4 points ahead of the last place team in the league.
They continue to be a scrappy and entertaining team but they have begun to fall short in coming back in games. In addition, they have begun to give up leads late in games just as they did last season. The weak offense and strong defense has disappeared. Ten games ago they were 23rd in scoring averaging 2.5o points per game. Now they are 7th in scoring averaging 3.1o goals per game. Where their goals against ranked a respectable 14th at 3.00 goals per game, now they have dropped to 28th at 3.45. So new personnel but the same results as last season. As for specialty team, the Leafs are similar to where they were last season, Their powerplay last season was 15th and now is rated 4th overall. Their penalty killing was horrible last year at 29th overall and dropped to 30th. Obviously, Coach Wilson is having difficulty in teaching his new team how to play defense.
The controversy over the last 10 games was coming from the grumbling from players sitting out. However, injuries and the recent trade with St. Louis will reduce much of the discontent in the ranks. Looking forward, the start of the Burke era will certain keep the media wags busy.
In the early going only Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky were offensive threats. That has changed and surprisingly the Leafs have two offensive lines. Matt Stajan leads in assists (13) and points (19). I don't think anyone expected this from him. He is tied for 28th in NHL scoring. Grabovski leads the team in goals (9) while Ponikarovsky leads in plus/minus (+5). Tomas Kaberle had a slow start but is now 8th in scoring for defensemen with 13 points. Grabovski is 3rd in rooking scoring with 14 points. However, Toskala has been terrible and rated 39th among NHL goalies in goals against average and 42nd in save percentage.
Cliff Fletcher has finally unloaded some extra bodies. Some fans may be shocked at seeing two first round picks (Steen and Colaiacovo) traded away but both have been disappointments. Colaiacovo has had so many injuries that you have to wonder whether he will ever but together a decent season. It took Antropov 10 seasons and frankly it's just not worth waiting that long. Steen has shown some promise but very little. I have never been impressed and the team has given him so many opportunities to shine. Lee Stempniak has most upside between the 3 players traded. In my books the team that gets the best player wins a trade no matter how many bodies are moved.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The Storm came up short in the final game of the tournament but never gave up, losing 1-0. The goal was scored in a scramble with on 36 seconds remaining in the 2nd period. The play was quite even and the Storm had the advantage in shots 16-13. Quite a feat considering the Storm were assessed 7 minor penalties - some real and others imagined. With the goalie pulled in the dying minutes the Storm just couldn't tie it up. The loss actually ended Bianca's streak of 4 2/3 periods of scoreless hockey in tournament games.
The finalist trophy was well deserved as the Storm once again showed that they are one of the fastest and hard working Midget B teams in the province. The next tournament is in Scarborough where they may have the opportunity to exact revenge on Kanata.
The finals were later in the afternoon against the host team Kanata.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The penalty killing was outstanding as Mari, Maddy, Alicia and Kailee kept the Ottawa team trapped in their own end and produced some good scoring chances. However the game was scoreless until 2:20 remaining in the 3rd period when Mari fired a slapshot past the Ice goalie on a feed from Kailee. Yet the play of the game was made by Bianca who despite having very little action, made the play of the season. In the last minute with the Ottawa goalie on the bench for an extra skater, the Bianca was down on her stomach after having made a save in a goalcrease scramble. The puck rebound came out to an Ottawa player who fired it at the open net. Bianca dove accross the crease to block the shot and preserve the win.
With Kemptville defeating Peterborough 2-1, the North York Storm again face the Kemptville Storm in the semi finals
Friday, November 21, 2008
North York started off much like they did in the earlier game. But things went bad about half way through the game. By the third period Kemptville had a 1-0 lead. They dominated that period and held a 16-1 advantage on shots. The collapse occurred in the last 3 minutes as Kemptville scored 3 more goals. Poor Asia had to have been shell shocked.
The good news is North York still finished
The standings are:
8. Central York
9. North Halton
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
You have to watch the video of this race.
No one bothers to help this kid for 3 whole minutes while he crawls on his belly over the finish line. Then the paramedics are all over him like he was JFK in Dallas. Since when is finishing a race more important than a kid's health.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Brian Burke is a terrific hockey executive but is he the right man for the Leaf front office? Maybe not.
For one thing, Cliff Fletcher may be as good or better. Sure Fletcher said earlier this year he wasn't interested in the Leaf GM job. But now that he's been doing it for 10 months I would guess he would stay on if that option was presented to him. Fletcher has done a good job in clearing cap space, moving out malcontents, and finding eager and cheap players. In addition, Fletcher has attracted a good management team around him including Joe Nieuwendyk, Al Coates, and Ron Wilson. When your interim manager is that good why not just drop the interim tag?
Brian Burke has a good track record in building a strong organization, recruiting talent, dealing with the media, and marketing the game. But Cliff Fletcher can do all these things too. Burke has a won a Stanley Cup but so has Fletcher. However, Burke's track record in a number of areas has been poor. When he managed the Canucks he had a history of poor draft picks or trading away picks and prospects for veteren talent. Sounds too much like the Leaf draft history. While with Anaheim he continually experienced problems managing with the salary cap. As a result he was forced to move players to remain below the cap. For example, Bobby Ryan was demoted to the minors this season so Burke could afford to sign Temmu Salanne. Previously he had to trade Andy McDonald to the Blues so that he could afford to sign free agents Selanne and Scott Neidermayer. He also put Schneider and Bryzgalov on waivers when he could no longer afford to carry their salaries. And let's not forget that terrible Todd Bertuzzi signing.
I would be perfectly happy to see Cliff Fletcher remain as the GM. But we know that isn't going to happen. The Leafs have a short list with only one name on it and that person will be on hired in a few weeks.
Friday, November 14, 2008
It will be interesting to see what the NHL does about it. I bet nothing.
Here is the top 10 vote leaders in the East. Any thing make you suspicious?
1. Carey Price (G) - Montreal - 202,404
2. Andrei Markov (D) - Montreal - 200,968
3. Saku Koivu (F) - Montreal - 187,684
4. Mike Komisarek (D) - Montreal - 186,908
5. Alex Kovalev (F) - Montreal - 186,864
6. Alex Tanguay (F) - Montreal - 184,809
7. Alex Semin (F) - Washington - 723, 294
8. Alex Ovechkin (F) - Washington - 56,664
9. Sidney Crosby (F) - Pittsburgh - 54,794
10. Henrik Lundqvist (G) - New York Rangers - 52,938
Sunday, November 09, 2008
November 08, 2008
The 15-year-old seemed fine until, two days later, she fainted while walking home from school and ended up in Sunnybrook's emergency ward.
"I thought it was nothing," said the midget `A' forward of that big hit and who, three weeks later, is slowly working her way back into practices and games.
"I had no idea I had a concussion."
And she's not alone, since head trauma is a poorly understood part of female hockey.
Balmer is one of hockey's broken daughters, a growing group of players who are sustaining concussions in a virtual vacuum, unaware that other girls and women – from novices to Olympic champions like Jennifer Botterill, playing for Canada in tomorrow's Four Nations Cup final – are being hurt.
NCAA studies show female varsity hockey players are sustaining concussions at twice the rate of their male counterparts, making head trauma the No.1 injury in the women's collegiate game. With many Canadian women competing in the NCAA loop – and 77,000 female players registered here – these disturbing numbers should raise questions across the hockey community, such as:
Why are concussions occurring in a hockey discipline that prohibits bodychecking? How can they be prevented? And why is the larger hockey community unaware that female players are suffering brain injuries on a worrisome scale?
"Because there's no bodychecking, people just don't think girls are going to get concussions and, honestly, that's what I thought too," said Toronto's Kim McCullough, director of the training program Total Female Hockey and a victim of two concussions while playing NCAA hockey at Dartmouth.
"But I had a coach from a peewee `C' team email me to say, `I had three concussions on my girls' team last year.' ... To know that it's not just restricted to the highest levels of hockey, to know that it's happening with our 9- and 10-year-old girls, it's definitely a red flag."
There is little female-focused head injury data in Canada, partly because concussions are not as easily spotted as, for instance, broken limbs, and symptoms must be reported by the athlete to medical staff. One Canadian study – now eight years old – by University of Calgary researchers compared six men's and six women's university hockey teams in the western provinces and found that over one season, concussion rates were similar.
That's why the NCAA concussion numbers, compiled annually as part of a comprehensive injury analysis of 15 varsity sports, are arguably the best indication of a serious trend in women's hockey.
The NCAA's results found no athletes were getting their bells rung like female shinny players. Concussions were the leading cause of their injuries at 18.3 per cent, outpacing men's hockey (at 7.9 per cent), men's football (6 per cent) and men's lacrosse (5.6 per cent). It should be noted this NCAA study, released last year, was based on team medical reports from the 1988-89 through the 2003-04 seasons. Recording women's hockey injuries began in the 2000-01 season.
However, there is cutting-edge research underway at the BrainFit lab (within the University of Toronto's occupational science and occupational therapy department) that studies the effects of hockey-related concussions in male and female youth players. BrainFit is run by Dr. Michelle Keightley, a neuropsychologist whose work shows that boys and girls are at similar risk.
"From our experiences working with male and female youth hockey teams, concussions are happening at approximately equivalent rates, regardless of gender," said Nick Reed, an occupational therapist and grad student who works with Keightley.
"The lack of bodychecking makes people assume that the contacts necessary to elicit a concussive episode aren't present in the female game. This simply isn't true. From our work and from the limited research (and) data out there, concussion is real in women's hockey."
Dr. Robert Cantu, the chief of neurosurgery and sports medicine director at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., attended an international concussion conference in Zurich, Switzerland, last week at which the NCAA results were debated. He said while the women's hockey statistics are a relatively small sample, he was emphatic that the head injury frequency demands more research.
"For girls to be coming up with a higher incidence of concussion than guys in hockey, it lends credence to the fact that maybe girls are more easily concussed than guys," Cantu said.
"Certainly, statistically they are. But what are the possible reasons for that?"
Those reasons are varied, ranging from what sounds like sexist science – that women are more willing to consult medical staff than men – to weaker neck muscles to rigid, upright skating positions that compromise their balance. In a similar trend, the NCAA study also found female basketball and soccer players sustained concussion rates higher than those of their male counterparts, but less than those of female hockey players.
"Women are more honest in reporting concussions than men and that may be a major aspect to those (high) numbers," said Dr. Charles Tator, a renowned spinal cord injury research pioneer and concussion expert. The Toronto neurosurgeon added male hockey players are notorious for "under-reporting" concussion symptoms at elite and pro levels.
But it's a mistake to call women wimps.
Carmen Baker, a 17-year-old goalie for Leaside's second midget `A' team, said she would not leave an important game if she suspected she had a head injury.
"I'm very competitive, I would want to finish my own game," said Baker, who was concussed in grade school while playing outdoor shinny without a helmet.
"It's like any athlete; it's `Tape me up coach, I want to keep going.' So, if it's your head, your leg, your knee, you just want to keep playing."
Opinions also differ regarding a female's susceptibility to concussions and prevention. Cantu believes women should develop their neck muscles as men do.
"Your neck is your shock absorber, at least when you see a hit coming," Cantu said.
McCullough, who trains the Team Ontario under-18 girls squad, believes proper skating position – bent knees, hips forward, strong core muscles – must be drilled into players learning the game for balance and stability to help prevent awkward falls. She also wonders if bodychecking should become part of the game, so girls would be taught how to take a hit at an early age.
Though there's no bodychecking, there's body contact – lots of it.
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees winger Cass Breukelman was concussed twice last season. The first resulted from a hit from behind, which drove her face into the glass as she battled for the puck behind the net. Breukelman said that kind of physical force is not uncommon.
"We have tempers too and it can get really rough in the corners," said the second-year nursing student from Thunder Bay.
"It's do or die, almost. You go into the corner, you want the puck and you're going to give all you have to get the puck. Sometimes, girls just go too far."
But if girls go too far and there's a chance of head trauma, why do players like Breukelman, whose second concussion happened when she tripped in practice, risk brain injury for hockey?"Hockey is pretty much my life," said Breukelman. "Ever since I was young, I wanted to go away to university and live the dream. I couldn't live without it. It's part of my life and that's why I'm scared now; I realize I have to take better care of myself and I want to finish my university hockey career."
Saturday, November 08, 2008
So far this season, the Storms best period has been the first. For the third game in a row Amanda scores an early goal and the Storm hang on to narrowly beat the North Halton Twisters 1-0. This game was a real nail-biter and included a penalty to kill late in the third period as well as a penalty shot. The Storm was also short a number of bodies - Lauren F, Maddy, Genevieve and Bianca.
The Storm did bounce back from last Sunday's game and battled North Halton throughout the game. Both teams had some great scoring challenges but the goalies were the stars today. Asia earned another well deserved shutout and made the stop on the penalty shot. The Storm took a number of penalties in the latter part of the game and Alicia, Jackie, Kailee and Gabby did a great job in holding off the Twisters on the powerplay.
The standings are close with 5 teams within 1 point of each other. The next game is against Mississauga on Monday.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sports Illustrated - 14th (+6)
Sportsnet - 14th (+1)
CBC Sports - 15th (0)
Yahoo Sports - 17th (+4)
National Post - 19th (+5)
Sporting News - 20th (+3)
The Hockey News - 20th (+4)
TSN - 21st (+1)
CBS Sportsline - 22nd (0)
AOL - 27th (+1)
Monday, November 03, 2008
2-1-0-0, GAA: 3.76, SV%: .839
Hal Gill (Pittsburgh)
Goals: 0, Assists: 1, +/-: -1
Bryan McCabe (Florida) - injured
Goals: 0, Assists: 1, +/-: 0
Andy Wozniewski (Peoria)
Goals: 0, Assists: 4
Steffan Kronwall (Marlies)
Goals: 1, Assists: 2, +/-: +1
Wade Belak (Florida)
Goals: 0, Assists: 0, +/-: 0
Darcy Tucker (Colorad0)
Goals: 1, Assists: 3, +/-: -4
Kyle Wellwood (Vancouver)
Goals: 4, Assists: 1, +/-: 2
Mark Bell (Marlies)
Goals: 1, Assists: 5, +/-: -5
Boyd Devereaux (Marlies)
Goals: 2, Assists: 0, +/-: -4
Mats Sundin (???)
Chad Kilger (???)
Maybe it was the typical post-tournament let down that was delayed by a week. Still the Storm came up with a sub par effort last night against the Scarborough Sharks. Certainly the Shark were more hungry for the win as they outhustled the Storm for a well deserved 3-1.
The first period started off well with Amanda beating the Shark goalie firing the puck into a top corner in the second shift of the game. However, there were few scoring opportunities for the Storm the rest of the way. The Shark successfully killed off several penalties in the period including a 5 on 3 situation for 34 seconds. In the second period the Shark began to gain momentum by winning many of the battles for the puck in the corners and boards. A strong period by Bianca preserved the narrow 1 goal lead.
In the 3rd period the Storm passing game disintegrated which lead to numerous icing calls and faceoffs in their end of the rink. The Shark continued to battle for the puck and crash the net. The pressure put on by Scarborough's forecheckers led to several Storm penalties. Scarborough took advantage of the powerplays to score two goals. A late third goal ended any chance of comeback.
Let's hope the Storm team at Clarington re-appears before Saturday's game against North Halton.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Curtis Joseph, the Toronto Maple Leafs backup goaltender, changed out off his pads and into a warm-up suit, grabbed a forward's stick and headed back on to the ice for some extra work after practice Friday.
His mission: provide some helpful tips and rifle several slap shots at Toronto Blue Jays catcher and baseball commentator, Gregg Zaun.
Zaun, wearing goalie gear for the first time in his life, could barely stand, but he proved to be capable on his blocker side - if unsteady on his feet. The big-league ballplayer was at a Toronto-area arena on Friday as part of a bet he made with Sportsnet hockey analyst Nick Kypreos.
After warming up with Joseph, Zaun had a little showdown with the former NHL tough guy. The stakes? A night at the alumni suite at the Air Canada Centre, a prize Zaun will be collecting if he can stop even one of Kypreos' shots.
Kypreos bragged he would go 10-for-10. Zaun made a save - fittingly with his glove - to win the bet.
"Nine for 10, he got me," said Kypreos.
"That's all I wanted," said Zaun.