Slovakia Wins Olympic Bronze Medal!

While I watched very little of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, I was very interested in the ice hockey competition. Well, to be fair, I was interested in Slovakia’s performance.

You see, my maternal grandparents emigrated from Slovakia around the time of World War I. They moved to Bridgeport, Pennsylvania which had a large Slovak population. The church said mass in Slovak, and the Slovak food in the area was crazy great. I spent so much time with my grandparents that I loved everything Slovak.

Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1991, Slovakia’s ice hockey team has been average at best. They have not done well in the World Junior Championships, so I didn’t expect much in the Olympics. They lost 6-2 against Finland, then lost 4-1 to Sweden. I assumed this was going to be the norm, but I decided to watch the games anyway.

They played Latvia and stomped them by a score of 5-2, then shut out Germany 4-0. Slovakia was 2-2, and I thought that was all I could ask. The next game was against the U.S. and Slovakia, miraculously, won 3-2 in a shootout. Holy. Crap. Slovakia was going to the semifinals. Amazing!

They lost to Finland by a score of 2-0 (the second goal was in an open net), so they would move on to the Bronze Medal Game… against Sweden. Ugh.

Yesterday, Slovakia destroyed Sweden by a score of 4-0, winning their very first ice hockey medal. Yes, it was a bronze, but that medal did so much for that team, and their country. They had no business beating teams like Germany, the United States, or Sweden, but they fought and hustled, and they did it. I have never been more proud of their accomplishments.

This tournament was Slovakia’s “Do You believe In Miracles” moment, and they truly earned it.

The NHL is Being Put On Ice

The National Hockey League – pretty much the only sporting organization I really like – is shutting down the season a few days before the Christmas break. Apparently all these fully vaccinated players – get this – caught the Chinese Wuhan Virus. Wow, what are the odds?

The NHL will pause its season on Wednesday, two days before its planned Christmas break, the league announced Monday evening.

All NHL team facilities will be closed from Wednesday through Saturday as the league tries to weather several COVID-19 outbreaks. Players are set to report back to team facilities on Sunday and resume daily testing. The NHL schedule is set to resume on Dec. 27.

The decision left just three games on the NHL slate before the break: Monday’s game between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild, Tuesday’s matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+), and Tuesday’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights.

It’s not just the NHL. The NBA and the NFL are having serious problems with infections. Hopefully the NBA and NFL will close their doors permanently, and we’ll be done with these thugs forever.

Tony Is Definitely A Good Fella

As Big Tech continues canceling American citizens for the crime of being conservative, there are some people still fighting and speaking about their ridiculous actions. Naturally, one off the voices is a Jersey-born, NHL defenseman.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo deleted his Twitter account and called the social media site a “disgrace,” after the site permanently banned President Trump.

The star defenseman now says he will join Parler.

According to the New York Post, Rangers coach David Quinn spoke to DeAngelo about his decision but offered no further information.

Most sports organizations are very keen on their players being on social media; specifically the “approved” media sites like the Twitter cesspool. It’s nice to see DeAngelo stand up for himself and tell the league, “I will not comply.”

Bruins Refuse To Re-Sign Their Captain

Very few of you will care about this post, but since I’m still fired up about it – and it’s a holiday – I’m going to rant about it.

Zdeno Chara is an NHL icon. The captain of the Boston Bruins for most of his fourteen years there was not re-signed by the Bruins’ management. Chara wanted to finish his career in Boston, but the Bruins couldn’t give him that common courtesy. So, Big Z took an offer with the Washington Capitals. Seriously Bruins, be better.

Zdeno Chara’s goals were pretty clear if not lofty when he signed with the Boston Bruins in July of 2006.

“I want to lead this team by setting a good example with my work ethic, drive, dedication and discipline,” Chara said through his agent when Boston signed him to a five-year, $37.5 million contract at the start of free agency. “There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I look forward to having this team compete for a Stanley Cup in the future.”

To say he kept to his promises would be an understatement, and that will be Chara’s legacy in Boston forever, even after he announced he was leaving the team after 14 seasons in Black and Gold to sign with the Washington Capitals.

Chara is one of my all-time favorite players. The man is a class act, a defensive beast, knocks opponents through the boards, and the best part: he’s a Slovak. I finally purchased a Chara Bruins jersey last summer, and naturally they let him go.

It’s unfortunate Chara won’t finish his career with the Spoked-B on his sweater, similar to how it won’t ever look right seeing Tom Brady in the pewter and red. But in our collective mind’s eye, we’ll always associate Brady with the Patriots and Chara with the Bruins.

Chara’s name is forever etched on the Stanley Cup with the Bruins, but it’s his leadership, discipline and devotion to his craft that are forever etched into Black-and-Gold lore. The Bruins went from a middling playoff hopeful to perennial Stanley Cup contenders with Chara as the franchise cornerstone. That’s no coincidence.

The man will be a first-ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame, and he’s already arguably the greatest Slovak to play the game.

I have been a Bruins fan since Kyle started watching hockey, and the author is correct here; the Bruins without Chara aren’t really the Bruins. I despise the Capitals, but I’ll cheer for Chara every single game.

Karen Doesn’t Like Hockey

Meet Devon Garnett of Tampa Florida. Devon is a hockey fan, and his favorite team is the Tampa Bay Lightning (obviously). The Lightning are in the Stanley Cup Finals, so he invited some friends over to watch the game, but a Karen interfered.

Devon Garnett, a bay area super fan of sorts recently profiled by the Tampa Bay Times, was watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday evening with two buddies at Radius Palms apartments near USF. In one first-period sequence, when Victor Hedman controlled the puck in the Lightning’s offensive zone, the friends began screaming, “Shoot! Shoot!” at the TV.

Evidently, that prompted a neighbor to call police. Minutes later, a handful of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies were at their doorstep.

“So they came to the door and thought there were guns in the house,” said Garnett, 26. “We’re like, ‘Nope, we’re just screaming for Steven Stamkos.’”

You’d have to assume most people in the apartment complex knew he was a rabid hockey fan, but hey, call the police anyway after hearing the word, “shoot.”

With that, the cops went on their way, Garnett said.

“(The police) completely understood and just laughed it off,” said Garnett, a Clearwater Central Catholic alumnus who played football for the Marauders. “But they thought it was serious because I was screaming ‘Shoot!’ as in ‘Shoot the puck.’”

Dear Karen, please head to the nearest Coscto and buy yourself a life.

Dale Hawerchuk, 1963-2020

Dale Hawerchuk, arguably my favorite all-time hockey player after Wayne Gretzky, has lost his battle with cancer. He was only 57 years old.

Dale Hawerchuk, a 2001 Hockey Hall of Famer, has died after a battle with stomach cancer.

“Dale was not only a hall of fame player, great coach, mentor and icon in the sport of hockey, he was also a great friend and an amazing human being,” said Howie Campbell, president of OHL’s Barrie Colts where Hawerchuk coached from 2010-2019. “He was a big part of our community for over 10 years. Our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies go out to the Hawerchuk family.”

Hawerchuk entered the NHL in 1981 as an 18-year old, and was the first pick in the NHL draft. He dominated the league for years, and every time he stepped on the ice, you knew you were seeing someone extraordinary.

Hawerchuk, 57, was diagnosed in August, forcing him to take a leave of absence from the Colts. He told TSN in October he began suffering from acid reflux symptoms in the summer and a CT scan found a stomach tumor. He later underwent a gastrectomy in January to remove his stomach, as well as a tumor and cancerous cells.

Hawerchuk’s cancer returned in June.

Fuck cancer. Seriously. It has taken far too many good people.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1981 NHL Draft, Hawerchuk played 1,188 games with the Jets, Sabres, Blues, and Flyers and recorded 518 goals and 1,409 points. He reached 100 points six times and scored at least 40 goals in seven seasons. The forward was a five-time All-Star and voted the 1982 Calder Trophy winner.

Thank you, Dale, for being an hero and an idol to a skinny, hockey kid from Philadelphia. I will miss you more than you can ever know. Rest in peace.

I’d Put A Biscuit In Her Basket

While hockey players can be considered some of the most attractive and best fit athletes in the world, their female counterparts are no slouches, either. Take Bluewater Hawks goaltender Mikayla Demaiter.

Meet 20 year old Mikayla Demaiter from Chatham, Ontario. The Western University student has gone viral as “the world’s sexiest goaltender” and… well who are we to argue?

The blonde bombshell put up a 2.50 goals against average and .909 save percentage in 20 games with the PWHL’s Bluewater Hawks last season. But let’s get real, you’re not here to pore over stats. (H/T – AZ Kevin)

Now I know this won’t matter to most of you, but her goaltender stats are ridiculously high. Her Goals Against Average is equal to Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop, the twelfth highest in the NHL. So yeah, she’s pretty talented.

There are more photos below the fold…

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Happy Birthday, Great One!

Today is NHL icon Wayne Gretzky’s 59th birthday; a holiday I celebrate every year. The man has always been my idol, and his Edmonton Oilers sweater was the first hockey jersey I ever owned.

Wayne Douglas Gretzky CC (January 26, 1961) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for four teams from 1979 to 1999. Nicknamed “The Great One”, he has been called “the greatest hockey player ever” by many sportswriters, players, and the NHL itself.

Gretzky is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player. He garnered more assists than any other player scored total points, and is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season – a feat he accomplished four times. In addition, Gretzky tallied over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutive. At the time of his retirement in 1999, he held 61 NHL records: 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 All-Star records.

Oh, and since his daughter Paulina is crazy hot, I posted a photo of her below the fold. Just because.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Great One!”

Devil In A Blue Crest

So Friday was our annual trip to North Jersey to see the New Jersey Devils play. The Devils have not been good this year, despite a roster full of talent. Add to that the fact they were slated to play the ridiculously good Toronto Maple Leafs – why isn’t it “Leaves?” – didn’t bode well for the Devils’ chances.

Surprisingly, the Devils played out of their minds. They took an early lead, killed penalties with ease, and fought back to tie the game in the third period. I was starting to think we would actually win this one… until one of the Devils’ defensemen – Damon Severson, who is usually amazing – accidentally shot the puck into our own goal.

An overtime loss gives the losing team one point, which is good they at least got that, but this was a game they should have won. It’s depressing.

Oh, and the stadium was filled with obnoxious Leafs fans; most of which I’d wager couldn’t name more than three people on their team. Toronto has been good for a few years, but were awful for a while, too. This many Toronto fans in NY/NJ? Seems fishy to me; like bandwagon jumpers.

We’ll never be hung with that label, since the Devils haven’t been really good for a decade. It’s not easy being a Devils fan, but at least we’re not Flyers fans.

P.S. Honestly, it’s impossible to get a decent picture of me.

The Phantom Menace

We spent our Saturday night attending a Lehigh Valley Phantoms game. The Phantoms are the minor-league affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, and while I’m no fan of the Flyers, we love the Phantoms. The stadium is excellent, the tickets are affordable, and the team is not located in Philly.

The Phantoms were playing the Hershey Bears, their longtime Pennsylvania rival. It was also Hockey Fights Cancer Night, and the team gave out the pretty cool hats you see the boys wearing.

(I asked Erik and Kevin to take a picture we could send to Kyle, and this was the response. Typical.)

The Phantoms are usually a decent team, and I ordered tickets early enough to land seats in the ninth row. We attend at least one hockey game a year – we’re definitely a hockey family – and we’ll be at the Devils/Maple Leafs game in Jersey a few days after Christmas.

Continue reading “The Phantom Menace”