Judging the 2014-2015 Cornwall River Kings

(Photo: Allison Papineau)
(Photo: Allison Papineau)

The Cornwall River Kings unveiled their 27 man roster recently and there’s been a lot of smoke being blown on social media. I figured why not take a bit of look at who Cornwall has signed for this year’s campaign. As usual, this is going to be an unbiased approach.

First statements that we’re being thrown around on social media was that the Kings didn’t sign enough tough guys. Well, hate to break it to you but enforcers in general are a slowly dying breed; even for the LNAH. With a lack of players to pick from, you’re kind of limited with your choices because most guys have already signed on either in the league or elsewhere. Unless you can promise them better money in a trade, you’re stuck with what you got.

That being said, Lessard and Cloutier are obviously the main ones that are going to drop the gloves but that doesn’t mean nobody else will. You haven’t seen some of these new guys play yet; they could handle their own and then some for all you know. I’m sure quite a few will be willing to drop the gloves if it came down to it. Simoes has dropped them; Joly has dropped them; Lepine has dropped them in Germany; relax a little people.

Fighting is not my concern when it comes to this team. There’s enough firecrackers on the bench to go around. To me, my concern is size. Jonquiere, Sorel and Laval have signed some big boys and they’re going to flex their muscle and push the smaller guys around. That’s hockey though and it’s expected. If you want to get an understanding of what I mean by size just watch any Montreal Canadiens playoff game. There’s a reason why they never make it in today’s NHL, they’re too small.

On the other hand, size can be used to the Kings advantage. Smaller guys move quicker; create openings, stickhandle through the mesh and put pucks to the net. That’s a big problem that was very adequately addressed this time around. Few young guns with speed can equal wins down the stretch.

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(Photo: Allison Papineau)

Goaltending? We have the best goaltender in the league. End of story.

There’s concerns that GM Rick Lalonde is treating this team like a junior squad. Personally, I don’t really see that. He’s doing the best with what he’s got and with what players are made available. Most of you don’t realize how much work is involved in landing players. There’s a lot of phone tag and sleepless nights. Give the man a break.

All in all you can’t criticize this team right now. You’re lucky they’re still in this city. The players know the job they have to do and how badly the fans want them to see winning ways. They’re not stupid; they read what you write on social media. It’s time to give them the benefit of the doubt and wait until you see the product on the ice before giving a fair judgement.

Here’s your 2014-2015 Cornwall River Kings

FORWARDS: J.P. Caron, Chris Cloutier, Nicolas Corbeil, Julien Corriveau, Antony Courcelles, Pierre-Luc Faubert, Julien Houle, Patrick Langlois, Francis Lessard, Dominic McSween, Anthony Mezzagno, Nick Pitsikoulis, Anthony Pittarelli, Steve Simoes

DEFENCE: Doug Andress, Dominic D’Amour, Jonathan Jasper, Mario Joly, Mathieu Leduc, Jason Lepine, Nik Pokulok, Sasha Pokulok, Michael Pregent, Ryan Sullivan, Brennan Barker

GOALTENDERS: Julien Giroux, Pete Karvouniaris, Loic Lacasse

Why banning Riley Emmerson is a dumb move

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That’s a big man in the middle there. (Photo: edinburgh-capitals.com)

Sigh.

It’s way too early in the season to be writing something like this.

The “Department of Player Safety” (who nobody knows really is) of the EIHL came and suspended Edinburgh Capitals blue liner Riley Emmerson 10 games for a two minute minor infraction from last week’s game against Belfast.

Let’s back up a little bit here.

Riley Emmerson was the Capitals key signing for this year. You could say he was the big name to draw some fans to the seats of Murrayfield Ice Rink. At 6’8” this towering presence of a man has already had stints in the AHL, ECHL and CHL and has some impressive opponents on his fight card including Jon Mirasty. He’s not a goal scorer. He’s there for toughness. He’s here to put on a show if you will.

Edinburgh and Belfast clashed last Saturday at home in Murrayfield in what was the Capitals FIRST game of the season and Challenge Cup at that. At 1:04 of the first period, Emmerson was called for boarding on Belfast’s Kevin Phillips and given a two minute minor. Pretty simple and even though fans have said it was a big hit, refs didn’t seem anything more was warranted.

Phillips however did not play in the rest of the game and was later diagnosed with a concussion. Fair play.

The “Department of Player Safety” went to review the altercation but subsequently could not because Edinburgh did not have video of the play.  Now that in itself is uncalled for. Teams should have video of every game that should be sent to the league within a half an hour or an hour of the game ending. At least that’s how it’s done on this side of the pond. The league has fined Edinburgh $1,000 for not having video and rightfully so. Nothing wrong with that.

This “department” also threw down a 10 game suspension to Riley Emmerson for his hit. Correct me if I’m wrong but, how can you suspend a player for a play you’ve never even seen? Not only that, why are you undermining your referree’s judgement? They clearly didn’t think anything more than two minutes was warranted so why step over them? That would put a sour taste in my mouth if I was an official.

Wanting to set a precedent? With what? A fourth liner who has a tough guy reputation but hasn’t even played two games in the league? Come on now. I could point out a million other things that happened in games last season that warranted more of a punishment then this one. Want to really set one? Catch one of your star players in a skirmish then bring the hammer down.

Edinburgh-capitals-logoBasing it on the injury of Phillips? I’m all for protecting player’s safety but if the concussion became an after effect a couple days later then there’s not much to enquire about a suspension. Yes, it could have been caused by Emmerson’s hit but why wait a full week to lay out your suspension? You don’t need video to prove he’s concussed.

Wanting to set a precedent concerning the lack of video footage? By all means, go right ahead. That is definitely warranted. However, don’t take it out on the player. It wasn’t Emmerson’s fault for not having video of his hit. Fine the club more and downgrade his suspension. If anything his ban should be nothing more than two or three games if it was even a dirty hit.

As a new player to the league, this is going to leave one bad taste in Riley Emmerson’s mouth.

Sure left one in mine. Goes to show you that money talks.

One on One with Ottawa Jr. Senator Matt Cruickshank

(Photo: Todd Hambleton, Standard Freeholder)
(Photo: Todd Hambleton, Standard Freeholder)

Matt Cruickshank may be only 19 years old but he’s certainly making a name for himself on and off the ice. The Owen Sound, Ontario native was acquired by Ottawa from the Cornwall Colts and as a veteran in the CCHL, he is excited to become a leader with a new group of young players.  At 6’0″, the towering defenseman holds the blue line like there’s no tomorrow but with his skill is able to join the rush. No doubt eyes will be watching his play this year. I had a little chat with Cruickshank and it’s amazing to see a player of his age so humble and have a good head on his shoulders.

March Hockey: What do you think you’ll be able to bring to the Jr. Senators this CCHL season? How do you think the Ottawa Jr. Senators will do?

Matt Cruickshank: This year I am a veteran in the league with some high level experience in the game. With half my team being rookies I hope to bring leadership and confidence to the locker room. It’s my job to let all players know that I got their back if ever needed on or off the ice. Also my defensive role will be a factor to our already well rounded defense core.

So far with a record of 0-2-3 we are being doubted from other teams and people around the league. As a leader of the team and knowing the amazing players and coaching staff we have, our record now does not fear me at all. With half of our team being hard working speedy rookies and the other half being committed mentoring veterans, I truly believe we can be a top 5 finishing team in the league. Just need to stay positive and stick to what we are doing. The wins will come.

MH: How would you describe your style of play? What players do you look up to, if any?

6zyrvm6QMC: I consider myself as a stay at home defenseman. The kind of guy to get lots of penalty killing time to block shots, keep the puck out of my net,  and play against top lines. Just because I lack skill, doesn’t mean I don’t have a role. I would compare my game to someone like Adam Foote or Scott Stevens.

MH: How was the experience of representing Team Canada East last year? What did you learn?

MC: My experience at Canada East will last a lifetime. From one week not even knowing what Canada East was to being able to put on the red and white was just a dream come true. The feeling you get stepping on that ice with over a thousand screaming fans in read and white still gives me shivers today. Besides the hockey aspect, I had a great time touring Nova Scotia with the guys and seeing a part of our beautiful country that I’ve never seen before. Also can’t forget I had my first lobster!

MH: Off of the ice, you are dedicated with volunteering. Obviously that’s a great characteristic to have. Why do you think it’s important to give back?

487643_10200624042791704_802508983_nMC: Growing up as a young kid I lived for the game of hockey. I would always watch NHL on team and go to local Jr. B and OHL games in my hometown of Owen Sound to cheer the players and guys that I looked up to. If I saw them slam their stick then I would too; if I saw them with a certain haircut I’d get the same. So saying that I find it very important to be a role model off the ice for young athletes to follow because if they see you being respectful, caring, and a nice person off the ice, those characteristics will be noticed and rub off on them. To completely answer your question, it’s important to give back because without the community, or family and the people around us, we would not be where we are today. Just because I am busy with junior hockey, doesn’t mean I can’t give back to help others succeed and make their life easier, the same way others did for me when I needed it. A smile goes a long way!

MH: Where do you see your hockey career taking you?

MC: Well being 19 I need to be realistic with my hockey career. I love the game and will do anything I can to be the best I can be. But saying that, my dream is to finish off my junior career on a high note and attend university at the highest level possible playing hockey and getting my degree.

MH: If you could watch one game between any two teams of your choice, who would you choose and why?

MC: I’d have to say Slap Shots Charlstown Chiefs and the Cornwall River Kings. Most likely my favorite movie ever and the most exciting and entertaining team to watch last year. Who wouldn’t wanna grab a bag of popcorn and watch that game.

One on One with Hull Stingray/Peterborough Phantom Scott Robson

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(Photo: Tom Scott)

Scott Robson is one of the young British lads who are making their names known on the British hockey scene. First suiting up back in 2007 with the Junior B squad of the Manchester Phoenix, the then 12 year old was making an impact from the very first time he stepped onto the ice. At 18 years of age, he suited up and made his debut for 37 games with the Elite leagues Hull Stingrays proving he could ice with the best of the Brits that were out there. This season he is on a two-way contract, spending his time between both the EIHL’s Stingrays and the EPL’s Peterborough Phantoms. Here’s a bit of a look into the mind of young Scott Robson.

March Hockey: What made you get into hockey and why?

Scott Robson: Both of my parents and family played a big role in getting me started into ice hockey and I couldn’t thank them enough for it. I grew up watching the games as far back as I can remember; whether it be Humberside Seahawks or the Manchester Storm. I can even remember watching my current coach in Peterborough (Slava Koulikov) play in Hull when I was little!. I’ve been fortunate over the years to travel to all sorts of countries like Canada, America, Sweden and the majority of Europe to watch hockey which made me become addicted to it before I even hit the age of 10.

MH: How do you describe your style of play? Who do you look up to as a player, if anybody?

(Photo: Allan Foster)
(Photo: Arthur Foster)

SR: I’d describe myself as a very offensive D-man who loves to join the rush but capable of looking after the defensive zone first. Over my years with Hull I’ve been able to learn so much from each defenseman on whether they’ll be a offensive or defensive style of player which hopefully solidifies my game. I love watching Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators with the way he jumps into the rush and makes a big play.

MH: What are some of the advantages of playing for both an EPL team and an EIHL team? Are there any disadvantages?

SR: The main advantage is that I have two teams and two sets of different players in which I can learn from and develop further. Also having two different styles of coaches that are looking out for me and my best interests. They are giving me an opportunity every night to play consistently and making me reach my full potential. There isn’t a disadvantage to me being on a two way. I think its great for me and both Peterborough and Hull.

MH: What do you feel you can add to this year’s Hull Stingrays lineup?

SR: I feel I can add a bit of an offensive jump from the defensive zone and give a more attacking style of play. I’d like to give off a capable attitude of playing in the EIHL. It’s all still a learning curve for me and I’m just grateful for the opportunity. After the first weekend playing in both games for Hull,  I already feel I’ve been taught valuable lessons so to speak.

MH: This will be your first time in the EPL as a member of the Peterborough Phantoms, what do you see for them in terms of how the season will play out?

SR: I’m excited of course.  I’ve been really impressed with Peterborough and how well run and co-ordinated everything is here. We’ve been together for three weeks now where other teams are just getting to know their teammates. I think that will make a big difference to the way we start early in the season. I think we have a strong team; from our goalie, to our defence and forwards. I think we are a hardworking team and going to push teams to the full 60 minutes each night on a constant basis. We are going to shock teams no doubt.  I’m really excited and ready for the opening weekend. I’m sure the boys are too.

MH: Where would you like your career to take you?

166769_156259717866252_2144511560_nSR: I’ve never really thought about it too much as in “what’s my top goal in hockey”.  Just play it year by year, improve as much as I can every year and enjoy it. The realistic goal of winning a championship with both Hull and Peterborough this year I think is possible with what looks to be both strong teams. I’ve always liked the idea of playing in Australia for a summer  just to experience something that would be a unforgettable. I’ve talked to a few guys who have played over there and they’ve all said how great, wonderful and passionate the fans are!

MH: If you could watch any game with any two teams, who would they be and why?

SR: That’s a tough one. I’d think I’d have to go with the 1997-1998 Vancouver Canucks team with the likes of Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Mark Messier, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, Jyrki Lumme, and Gino Odjick. Purely because it was a team full of spark and speed. (Noteably I was only 2/3 years old!). They’d be up against the more modern 2005/06 Vancouver Canucks team with Naslund, the Sedin twins, Morrison, Bertuzzi, Jovanoski, Kesler. It’s probably the team I liked the most just because of the style of play. Obviously I’m a big Canucks fan!

Special thanks to Scott for taking the time to do this one-on-one! All the best for the upcoming season! I’ll be keeping an eye on you buddy! 😉

Remembering Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Lokomotiv_Yaroslavl_memorial_at_Arena-2000Summer and early fall of 2011 was not kind to the hockey world. In the span of four months we lost Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, and Rick Rypien. As tragic as these players stories are, little did we know that the worst was yet to come.

September 7, 2011.

As 26 players, 11 coaches and a handful of flight crew boarded their plane to Minsk, Belarus, it seemed like any old start to a hockey season. The KHL was starting up their third season after evolving from the Russian Superleague. It is seen as one of the best hockey leagues in the world – second only to the NHL – and the best in Europe and Asia.

The 2011 roster of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was made up of young lads and NHL veterans. Some winding down on their careers; others just getting started. The team had an impressive season the year before finishing 1st in the Tarasov division with 108 points and losing in the conference finals to Moscow. The team’s top scorer, former NHLer Pavel Demitra, seemed to be on a tear and was eager to build on his formidable play.

The day started off like any other. Conditions were clear at Yaroslavl’s Tunoshna Airport and it was a great day to be flying. Driving to Minsk would take 12 or 13 hours by bus or train so flying was most welcome. Loading the gear up onto the plane then getting comfortable in their seats were names that people from North America would recognize. Canadian and Stanley Cup champion Brad McCrimmon was excited to coach his first KHL squad. It was a new and exciting opportunity to continue his career in a country like Russia. His assistant coaches were also former NHLers Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev.

Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins, and Josef Vasicek joined Demitra with this team to start the winding down of their careers. Each daunting players in their own right, you could easily see how much of a force Yaroslavl was going to be for this upcoming season. Sadly, we’ll never find out.

As the plane rushed off down the stretch of paved road, it overran the runway. The nose briefly went airborne before stalling and running into a tower mast. When it came back and hit the ground, the plane broke up and immediately caught fire near the Volga River. From the wreckage, all but two perished including the flight crew. Young Alexander Galimov survived the crash but died five days later in hospital. The avionics flight engineer, Alexander Sizov was the only survivor.

As the crash began to be investigated, there were a few shocking revelations that started to come to fruition. The plane overran the runway because of pilot error. The pilot put on the brakes as it began taking off thus skidding along the runway. What’s even more worry some was what came to light after. Both pilots had falsified documents to be able to fly the plane. They were flying illegally and the co-pilot was suffering from a nerve disease. He wasn’t even allowed to fly.

Upon hearing the news, the KHL canceled all of their home openers. The season was delayed by a week or so. Former NHL teams of those players who died paid tribute by wearing honorary patches. The German Ice Hockey Federation retired Robert Dietrich’s number and the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation did the same for Karlis Skrastins. Tributes upon tributes were poured out from hockey fans across the world for a senseless tragedy.

Yaroslavl did not compete that season but did rebuild for the next one. It’s sad and downright scary to think that everything could be taken away from you in an instant of time. However, life and death doesn’t stop for anyone. Not even in the hockey world; the show must go on.

September 7th will always be a dark cloud and reminder to the end of the chilling offseason of 2011. They may be gone but certainly not forgotten.

Rest In Peace…

lokomotiv-yaroslavl

Vitaly Anikeyenko, Mikhail Balandin, Gennady Churilov, Pavol Demitra, Robert Dietrich, Alexander Galimov, Marat Kalimulin, Alexander Kalyanin, Andrei Kiryukhin, Nikita Klyukin, Stefan Liv, Jan Marek, Sergei Ostapchuk, Karel Rachůnek, Ruslan Salei, Maxim Shuvalov, Kārlis Skrastiņš, Pavel Snurnitsyn, Daniil Sobchenko, Ivan Tkachenko, Pavel Trakhanov, Yuri Urychev, Josef Vašíček, Alexander Vasyunov, Alexander Vyukhin, Artem Yarchuk.

Yuri Bakhvlov, Aleksandr Belyaev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Igor Korolev, Nikolai Krivonosov, Yevgeni Kunnov, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, Brad McCrimon, Vladimir Piskunov, Yevgeni Sidorov, Andrei Zimin.

Enforcers, Goons and Fighters oh my! A list of NHL tough guys: Part Two

A couple months ago I set out to list some of my favourite lesser known tough guys from years past. Turned out to be a pretty popular subject (naturally), so I here I am with another five guys for part two.

In no particular order…..

Todd Ewen

1. Todd Ewen
Todd Ewen had a pretty so-so career as an enforcer until he managed to knock out Bob Probert with one punch in only his second NHL fight. With that reputation under his belt, Ewen managed to grab a ton of playing time when he was picked up in a trade after the expansion draft by the newly minted Anaheim Mighty Ducks.  Along with his sidekick Stu Grimson, Ewen held the assistant captaincy for the entire three years he was in California. As the popularity of the Ducks started to increase, Ewen was put out on the ice to protect stars like Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. Hard to believe that the Ducks had one of the best one-two fighting punches in the league at one point.
Ewen ended his NHL career with 1911 penalty minutes.
 

 

2. Ryan VandenBussche

One of the best enforcers to get his start with the Cornwall Royals, VandenBussche managed to play in nine NHL seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. He is probably best remembered for blooding and knocking out Nick Kypreos thus ending his career.

Watch the video. Kypreos is lights out as soon as the fist makes contact.

3. Andy Bezeau

Okay. I lied. This guy never made the NHL but Christ was he a nut job that deserves to be talked about.

A tough east-coast Canadian, Bezeau was actually drafted by the Boston Bruins in the early 90’s. Never making the show he spent 10 years in the minors, throwing punches for the Moncton Hawks, Fort Wayne Komets, South Carolina Stingrays and Detroit Vipers among others.

The best story he has? Being traded for a pair of washing machines. Even Paul Holmgren can’t make that stuff up.

He even managed to somehow work his way into the London Knights of the British Superleague in the early 2000s.

Watch a compilation of his with a great title:

4. Dave Manson

Nicknamed “Charlie” (I’ll let you make the correlation.), Manson was actually one of the few enforcers who had the hockey skill to back up his play. Playing in 1101 games throughout his NHL career, Manson managed to notched 390 points to compliment his 2792 penalty minutes. Not too shabby.

In one altercation with mediocre legend Sergio Momesso, Manson caught a punch in his throat damaging his larynx permanently. This made his voice raspy from here on out but that just added to his lore.

Oh and the Leafs traded him for Jyrki Lumme so there’s that too.

5. Lyndon Byers

Lyndon ByersByers was a bit of a monster of a man and his role was to protect the stars of the Boston Bruins. He managed to rack up 1081 penalty minutes in only 279 games. He spent most of his career floating between the Bruins and their farm system before packing the skates away in 1995.

After hockey his career went into a complete different direction. He’s now a radio personality for a station in Boston and has made numerous appearances on tv shows throughout the years. Not bad for a kid from Saskatchewan.

Come “March Across The UK” with me!

I have teamed up with Chris Frank and Hockey Players Assemble to start a fund raising campaign to get me over to the UK! The goal is to visit every rink in the EIHL and write a book about my experience. Of course, I’ll be blogging and capturing pictures and videos as I go but the ultimate end is a book. Here’s the summary of my campaign taken straight from the site and you can find my campaign  page by clicking here: MARCH ACROSS THE UK 

Hello hockey world!

Some of you my know who I am as I’m pretty much everywhere on the internet in hockey circles. I am the opinionated hockey woman from Canada who happens to spend an awful lot of time writing about the sport. Call me crazy if you want.

MarchAcrossTheUKAnyway, what you might not know about me is I live and struggle with liver disease. I was 21 when I was diagnosed and being a young non-caring woman, I didn’t think too much of it. Fast forward to recent times. In the past two years I’ve had four surgeries to help correct my liver. I’m 27 year old and have the liver of a 70 year old alcoholic. I barely drink.

You can just imagine the kind of stress that goes through your body not just physically but mentally as well. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and social anxiety on top of this. While my depression is very much in control, I find the need to speak out about it. If I can help one person through their mental health issues just by being there to talk too then I can sleep soundly at night. It’s time to end the stigma.

During my depression and while recovering from surgery I turned to hockey for my enjoyment. I found a passion writing about it and in turn it has opened up doors for me that I never thought was possible. There’s one league though that pulled me through everything the most however; the Elite Ice Hockey League.

Watching the games, conversing with fans, coaches, referees, and players on Twitter meant the world to me as I was struggling. Along with my family, these new found friends became a reason to keep pushing and conquer my illness. I am forever in the UK’s debt and would love nothing more to able to pay back what was given to me.

hpa-logoFor the past 6 months or so I’ve been toying with the idea of touring the teams of EIHL and writing a book on my experience. Basically an Elite league experience from the eyes of a Canadian. I’ll interview players, personalities, anything that surrounds the league. I don’t even care if anybody reads it; I just feel it’s something I have to do.

This is where Hockey Players Assemble comes in. Needless to say this bout has left me out of work without income. After talking with Chris Frank, I made my decision that Hockey Players Assemble could help me in my journey and dream to document the teams of the EIHL for a few weeks.

I am going to aim for the beginning of the 2015/2016 season in order to give myself some time to heal and to plan the trip accordingly. I will document it my experience through the blog too with pictures, video and words.

Hope the hockey world can make this one girl’s dream come true. Who needs the NHL? Not me.

I have my EIHL family.

Of course, I will be forever in your debt for any donation given! Let’s make this happen #hockeyfamily!

Once again, here is the campaign page: MARCH ACROSS THE UK 

Cornwall’s Brock McBride shines in Champions Hockey League for Villach SV

The majority of you have probably been enjoying the last bits of your summer but hockey is already in full swing over in Europe! The newly minted Champions Hockey League features 44 teams from six different leagues and at least eight different countries all competing for the title of Europe’s best and the pay-day of 1.5 million Euros isn’t bad either.

The 26 founding clubs send off their best every season to compete in the “A” tier. Tier “B” would be two teams from each league who have gained the top regular season title or were the playoff winners who weren’t apart of the founding group of clubs. These leagues include the DEL, Swedish Elite, Finnish Elite, Swiss league, and many others.

The “C” tier would be considered a wild card spot and made up of two to six teams from high European leagues but are not a part of the founding members. This would be your Elite league, and leagues from Denmark, Italy, Norway, France and Slovakia.
BrockMcBride
I’ve managed to catch a couple of games myself and its great hockey and interesting to see how other countries are building their teams.

For those of us from Cornwall, we do have a connection.

Former Cornwall Colt and President of Cornwall’s Own The Ice Hockey training, Brock McBride is suiting up for Villach SV from Austria. Villach has entered the tournament in Group C alongside Sweden’s Frolunda Gotherburg, Switzerland’s Geneve-Servette, and France’s Briancon Diables Rouges. They are currently tied for second with Frolunda by splitting their first two games.

During the first game against Briancon, McBride sealed the win for Villach when he scored with less then three minutes left to go in the third period. McBride who is an essential part of Villach’s first line brought the same intensity to their matchup against Geneve-Servette the following day. Despite losing 4-2, Villach played a close and rough game to counter the Swiss side.

Villach SV has won six national championships with their last one coming in 2006. This is McBride’s second year suiting up for the Austrian club. His hockey career so far has seen him makes stops with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, Elmira Jackals, South Carolina Stingrays, the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Houston Aeros, Milwaukee Admirals and a brief tenure with the EIHL’s Belfast Giants before sitting comfortably in Austria.

Stick around Cornwall for updates on Brock’s impressive ride into the inaugural Champions Hockey League season.

Building Awareness: Edinburgh Capitals Supporters Club

EdinburghCapitalsHockey in and around Edinburgh has a storied history. From the Murrayfield Racers to today’s Edinburgh Capitals, from players like Tony Hand and Scott Neil to Sean Beattie and James Wallace, the game in Scotland has seen almost everything there is to see. Starting out as a grassroots movement and moving towards a professional association, it has never been an easy task to keep the attention on the game moving higher. However, that could be said for the whole of the United Kingdom, not just Edinburgh itself.

The Murrayfield Racers also has its legacy but it’s been built in the past. The Edinburgh Capitals are looking to create a legacy of their own for the here and now. A new generation of fans have emerged and are trying to help the team take it to the next level. With the right mix of awareness, promotion and of course the product on the ice, the Capitals have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Enter Steve Salvini.

Salvini has been a hockey fan since the 1980’s following the aforementioned Murrayfield Racers but when the club went bankrupt so did the following. In October of 2012, Salvini was offered a discount ticket for the Caps. With his two daughters tagging along, he once again became hooked with the hits, saves and goals of the game of hockey. Even his one daughter Lorna became a die hard fan and started going week after week with him.

Noting that he wanted to help the club and create more promotion for the team, Salvini reached out to Scott Neil to see what he could do to help. Neil mentioned that the Supporters Club was dormant and well, it was Salvini’s to take if he wanted. The rest is history.

As the current interim chair, I spoke with Steve about some of the trials the Supporters Club is facing and threw in some good hockey chat for good measure.

March Hockey: Do you think that with time the Edinburgh Capitals can capture the reputation that the Murrayfield Racers once had?

Steve Salvini: The Racers had a great sponsor in Smirnoff at a time when the league was sponsored by a rival brewer / distiller in Heineken.  This meant that Smirnoff were both generous and disinclined to give up their foothold in a league where sponsorship by any new alcohol companies was now disallowed.  Caps need a similarly large and generous sponsor before the can hope to emulate the Racers success.

 

The Caps also need to grow their fan base.  AT present there are probably 300 hard core fans who turn up to everything and another 300 who are fairly regular.  After that, there are anything up to another 500 who are at best fickle: their attendance depends on the success of the team and/or discounted tickets!  That said, most of these fans are already into hockey.

Steve Salvini 

The all-new supporters club are reaching out to a wider audience and reach those who do not know the sport at all or simply do not know it is played in Edinburgh.  The latter group may include the large groups of Eastern European’s now living in Edinburgh, for example.  They might both be missing their usual hockey and fix and respond well to a team with a large proportion of players from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc.

 

MH: Breaking the old school mentality aspect of the fans (I.E. the Racer fans) is a tough task. How do they see the Caps in general? Do they give them the respect they deserve?

SS: I’m not sure I completely agree with your comment about the “old school mentality”.  The way I see it is that the Racers operated in a completely different environment to the Caps.   In the Racers heyday there were limited numbers of imports and so they may have appeared to be some much better than the majority of players around them whereas nowadays most of the players are full-time professionals.   The game has also become much more professional in its approach.  For example, I am sure you have read the part in Tony Hand’s autobiography where he makes reference to players drinking BEFORE games.  Nowadays that simply would not be tolerated, by management or even other players.  Similarly the shorelines are different.  My first game was a 12-12 draw with Durham Wasps – today’s equivalent might be a 3-3 draw as teams are more balanced in their approach to defence.  In Racers heyday every team just went all out to out-shoot their opponents, back-checking was, err, something of a rarity. Also, net-minding was left to British players again leading to higher scoring games.   Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Racers days but I also love the game today.  It was/is all hockey – nether approach is right or wrong, both are simply the product available at the particular time.

 

Racers days were a big party for fans and players, now it’s a professional sport – flip side it that it more impersonal, there is much less chance that the team’s star defenceman lives in the next street so there’s less of a local attachment to the team.
MH: How does Edinburgh develop their local talent? Which teams do they draw from for reinforcements, if any?

SS: Well-develop junior setup – teams at under 10, 12, 15, 18 plus Scottish National League (SNL) team – sort of second string team including youngsters knocking on the door of the Big Team plus old hands who are helping the young guys develop.   There is also an Academy System for those thought possibly able to make the step up from Junior / SNL level to the EIHL.

 

No “farm teams” as such but recruit from own Juniors set up and that of others (including arch-rivals Fife Flyers!) plus attract players from other SNL teams for example James Wallace from Solway Sharks and Callum Boyd from Kilmarnock Storm.
1319473523533MH: Most of us here in Canada never hear about the greats from non-hockey countries. Scottish guys like Tony Hand and Scott Neil helped put ice hockey on the map to not only create a following in Scotland but the U.K. as well. Who are some of the current up and coming stars that we should keep an eye on?

SS: “Non-hockey” country???  Hockey is the second most popular indoor sport in the UK! 

 

Yeah, Ok, that doesn’t mean much really.

 

The up-and-coming stars from Edinburgh include Sean Beattie and Jay King.  Both are in the Edinburgh Capitals Academy System and play for the EIHL and SNL teams.  Plus both play age group for Scotland.

MH: Has Edinburgh adopted a rivalry with any of the other EIHL squads?

SS: Ever since a team played out of Murrayfield Ice Rink the big rivals have always been Fife Flyers.  In fact, it’s interesting how many Fife fans have said how much they want Edinburgh to improve so they can start “hating” them properly again!   The rivalry is definitely there but also the camaraderie of the “hockey family” that I think makes our sport unique.

Edinburgh-capitals-logoMH: How can fans get involved to help the team grow?

SS: Join the Supporters Club and work together to build the fan base – bring along a new person to every game – stay positive and keep behind the team even (especially?) when they are going through the inevitable bad patches.  Talk up the Caps at every opportunity – word of mouth is the best advertising we can have.   The company running the team need more income – that will come from, a larger fan base – but they also value the various professional and technical skills we can donate to them – everything from helping paint the changing rooms to writing programme articles to helping provide jobs or work experience placements for players to introducing potential sponsors to the club.  Enthusiasm, energy and support for the players we can all give.   Keep the faith!

 

For more information on the Edinburgh Capitals Supporters Club including how to help out and become a part of the movement, check out their website at www.edcapssc.co.uk and follow them on Twitter: @EdCapsSC

Out of the Blues: Former San Jose Sharks draft pick Chris Burns’ Hidden Struggle with Depression

chrisburnsIn a short 20 minute documentary, Chris Burns goes to detail into his 12 year battle with depression. A former goaltender for the University of Denver and former draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, Burns tells his story of how his hockey career was taken away in one minute, his time as a professional wrestler and then his struggle with prescription medication.

In a day where depression is becoming more and more prevalent and the need for getting rid of the stigma around it is at an all time high, Burns’ story hit really hard for me. As someone who suffers from depression and has had her own lengthy battle with surgeries, Burns’ should be commended for his way of bringing this out in the public eye.

On the hockey side of things, the need for more research on how the combination of contact sports and depression need to be really looked at. I think there’s a lot more information to prepare players to deal with being a professional hockey player but there’s not a whole lot on what happens after the game is gone. For some, it’s all they’ve ever known. We need to push more resources in the sporting world for depression.

For anyone who is depressed remember, you are not alone. You can get through this. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; you’re not a burden to anyone.

Please watch this video and pass it around to everyone you can; it’s a great view.

Thank you Chris.

Follow him on twitter: @OneFunnyBastard