Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone


Alone Again Al (John Woike/Hartford Courant)

So, the Wolf Pack capped off their 10th season by doing what no other AHL team has done in over a decade-- blowing a seven-game series by losing games six and seven at home (Jim Schoenfeld: "Each of them deserved a better fate, but that's sport. Kids are going to make mistakes").

So, Al Montoya basically took a big dump on the ice in Game Seven, and gave his team an early start on the off-season (Al Montoya: "The team worked their tails off, and I just wasn't there to make the saves for them. I have to sit with that all summer, knowing I let them down like that").

Putting how it ended aside, here are some of the more interesting moments from this past season:

Francis Lessard's two-handed salute
Water bottle gets thrown at Dale Purinton's head
Jarkko Immonen's hat trick
Dane Byers' hat trick and a ton of fights against Manchester
Lessard for MVP
Al Montoya's fight against Norfolk
Ryan Callahan's All-Star GWG (plus)
Callahan: "The Goal"


Now I'm Feeling Zombified (Chris Rutsch photo)

Rob Zombie shows up
Jed Ortmeyer shows who's boss
Callahan: "The Deke"
The 9-3 win over San Antonio
Darius Kasparaitis decks Tim Brent in debut
Opening night

Not to mention Greg Moore's "own goal" during a delayed penalty call against Bridgeport, or Steve Valiquette throwing up in the crease during a game, or "Rob Murray Night" in Springfield, or Joe Rullier's return (with effusive heckling and accompanying banners), or Bryce Lampman's two-goal game in Worcester with the Sharks fan in front of us who clapped at everything, or Al Montoya's other "fight" in Portland... it was quite a season.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away


Chris Rutsch photo

The Hartford Wolf Pack lost Game Seven of their opening round playoff series to the Providence Bruins earlier tonight, 5-4, ending both the series and their season. In doing so, the Wolf Pack became only the third team in AHL history to lose a 7-game series by losing the final two games at home.

The Bruins scored first, on a freak play where the puck hit a stick and popped up in the air over Al Montoya's head. Montoya jumped up to grab the puck, and in doing so, caused the puck to squirt out of his glove and into the net behind him. That wasn't how the Bruins scored, however-- instead, Providence's Ben Walter was awarded a penalty shot on the play, after Dave Liffiton was called for covering up the puck in the crease. Walter then scored on the penalty shot, the first of his three goals on the night.

The Pack twice came back to tie the game, at 1-1 in the first and then at 3-3 in the opening minutes of the third period, but back-to-back goals by Providence in rapid succession (at 6:25 and 7:37 of the third) put the game out of reach. Hartford cut the lead to 5-4 with 3:24 left on a power-play goal by Dane Byers, and then pulled Montoya for an extra attacker in the furious final minute of regulation, but could not get the goal they needed to force overtime.



The highlight of the whole night probably came before warm-ups even started, when the last bit of the Rangers' 2-1 double-OT win over Buffalo was shown live on the video screens inside the Civic Center arena. I sat up in section 325, which is literally at eye level of the center ice videoboard, and it was almost like watching the game on TV at home.

The Imploding Pack Inevitable


Jim Schoenfeld (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack almost never make any playoff series an easy one, something that was mentioned here even after their dominating 5-1 victory over the Providence Bruins in Game One. True to form, up 3 games to 2, the Wolf Pack gave away Game Six on Saturday in a miserable performance, losing 5-2, and will now have to settle things with a Game Seven at home later tonight.

The first period of last night's loss was one of the worst periods that Hartford has played this season, ending with the Bruins on top, 2-0. It could've been 3-0 (or worse), as a shot by Providence with 15 seconds left was deflected right in front of Al Montoya and easily could've gone in, but Montoya somehow kicked his right skate out just in time.

Shoddy defensive play was the first period's major malfunction, but even after the Wolf Pack tidied things up a bit in the second period, Providence kept putting pucks in the net. Hartford scored twice in the second period, only to have Providence respond a minute or two later with a goal of their own. Montoya was pulled after Providence's fourth goal at 13:31 of the second, but Chris Holt let one in within 40 seconds of entering the game, putting Providence up, 5-2.


Six months in a leaky boat: Holt lets one in (Chris Rutsch photo)

Newcomer Jordan Owens fought Providence's Petr Kalus seconds after the Bruins' last goal, and beat Kalus up pretty good, but any flames that might've been ignited by Owens' effort eventually died out. Despite a number of strong offensive flurries by Hartford before the second period was over, the Pack failed to score the goal that might've gotten them back into it. The game ended on a scoreless third period.

Defenseman Hannu Pikkarainen, who was benched for three weeks (and briefly demoted to Charlotte) immediately after a horrendous showing against Portland at the beginning of the month, found his way back into the line-up somehow for Thursday's fifth game (a 1-0 win in Providence), and then scored the Pack's second goal in last night's game. It was a bizzare slow-motion sort of goal, as Pikkarainen took a pass from Alex Bourret at the top of the slot and then advanced towards the net while the Providence defenders just stood in place, allowing Pikkarainen plenty of time to pick his spot and snap a wrister home.


Jordan Owens taking on Petr Kalus (Chris Rutsch photo)

Even though the calls were fairly even (5 power plays per side), referee Frederick L'Ecuyer was a complete idiot. Just blowing the whistle isn't enough of an authority trip for this guy; L'Ecuyer likes to talk, apparently, and I could see him running his mouth at the offending player each time he'd make a call. He'd even yap when he didn't make a call, explaining why he didn't blow the whistle while the play was still going on.

The Pack had plenty of their own problems in this game, even without the officials' help-- an abysmal power play, for one (something like 2-for-31 in this series), and an inability to handle the Providence forecheck throughout the first period, leading to numerous retreats and turnovers.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Travis Scott to leave Metallurg?


Metallurg goalie Travis Scott (center)

My site meter tipped me off today to a couple of German hockey forums that have been buzzing all day, over a report that was posted earlier by Kölnische Rundschau, saying that the DEL's Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) are about to lure goalie Travis Scott away from Russian champions Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

The report is so new (or just plain unconfirmed) that none of the Russian sites have picked it up yet, and the Rundschau article claims that the German club is so far acting shy with the details of the deal because some of the team's management (including head coach Doug Mason, as well as the Cologne Sharks' GM) are currently in North America scouting AHL players.

Travis Scott, of course, was instrumental in Metallurg Magnitogorsk winning the Russian Super League title earlier this month over favored Ak Bars Kazan, as well as having been the top goaltender in the RSL for each of the past two seasons. Scott posted a 1.22 goals-against average for Metallurg in '05-'06, and a 1.61 GAA in '06-'07.

Meanwhile, Kölner Haie, who led all German teams in attendance last season, are apparently looking for a replacement for their own star goalie from this past season's team, Adam Hauser. Hauser, who (like Scott) is a former member of the AHL's Manchester Monarchs, posted the top GAA in the German league last season, one spot ahead of former Hartford Wolf Pack goalie J-F Labbe (click here for Eurohockey.net's review of the '06-'07 German regular season).


Now, let's run really fast, then drop him!

Whether or not Kölner Haie are successful in their quest to sign Travis Scott, they can always comfort themselves with their victory in this carry-your-own-mascot race against, I don't know, some German football club or something.

UPDATE 4/29/07 - It's now a done deal-- the Haie web site has posted an announcement of Scott's signing.

Russians announce World Championship roster


Alexanders Ovechkin and Frolov of the Russian National Team
(Alexander Fedorov/Sport Express photo)


Earlier today, the roster for the Russian National Team was announced, for what surely will be the winning team (*wink wink*) at the IIHF World Championships in Moscow:

Goaltenders:
Vasily Koshechkin (Lada Togliatti)
Alexander Eremenko (Ak Bars Kazan)

Defensemen:
Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens)
Sergei Gonchar (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Vitaly Atyushov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
Alexei Emelin (Lada Togliatti)
Maxim Kondratiev (Lada Togliatti)
Denis Grebeshkov (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)
Ilya Nikulin (Ak Bars Kazan)
Vitaly Proshkin (Ak Bars Kazan)

Forwards:
Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Alexander Frolov (Los Angeles Kings)
Alexander Radulov (Nashville Predators)
Nikolai Kulemin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
Sergei Zinovjev (Ak Bars Kazan)
Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars Kazan)
Danis Zaripov (Ak Bars Kazan)
Alexander Kharitonov (Dynamo Moscow)
Petr Schastlivy (Khimik Voskresensk) - team captain
Ivan Nepriayev (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)

To follow the latest news on the IIHF World Championships, which start tomorrow (April 27th), go here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lokomotiv parts with Evgeni Artyukhin


Evgeni Artyukhin fending off Maxim Sushinsky

Since I know there are a few Tampa Bay Lightning fans who're always looking for news on Evgeni Artyukhin-- there is now one less obstacle in the way of his return to the Lightning.

An article that ran earlier today in Sport Express is announcing that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl has decided not to renew the contracts of a number of players, including that of Artyukhin.

The article gives no explanation for the move, quoting as its source Lokomotiv head coach Paul Gardner.

Artyukhin, a skilled 6'-5", 258-lb. forward who played for the Tampa Bay Lightning in '05-'06, was also trimmed this week from the roster of the Russian National Team that is preparing for the IIHF World Championships, to be played in Moscow starting in a few days.

From an old Fran Sypek article that ran in the Springfield Republican a couple of years ago, when Artyukhin was playing for the Springfield Falcons (link from russianprospects.com):

Artukhin played a major role in the Falcons' 4-3 win over Providence back on Oct. 15. He knocked out Providence co-captain Brent Thompson during a fight, prompting the former Falcon defenseman to say: "That's one powerful man."

Perhaps the P-Bruins were in awe of Artukhin's strength that night. Later in the game, he raced nearly the length of the ice untouched and scored a goal.

Artukhin's size, sheer speed and power make him an intriguing prospect, and are a big factor in making the team's forecheck work. At 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, Artukhin is the type of player who creates space for his teammates.

That's why he is affectionately called "the Russian tank" by his teammates.

Speaking of Artyukhin and end-to-end rushes, there's a video of him scoring just like that in Russia this past season on my YouTube account.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Green Figurine



I guess there's something to be said about turning a piece of junk into something even junkier, so with that in mind, I turn your attention to the handiwork of Ken Frantz, a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fan who re-paints McFarlane NHL figurines to look like W-B/S players.

From theahl.com:

When the NHL started coming out with their McFarlane Figurines, Frantz, a huge Patrick Roy fan, was quick to purchase the great goalie’s figurine. And then he had an idea.

He went out, picked up a couple of Eric Lindros figures, grabbed some black and gold paint, splashed it on Lindros and quickly transformed the figure of the Flyers forward into Dennis Bonvie.

“I made Bonvie out of a Lindros figure, because they were both right-handed,” chuckled Frantz. “What else do you need?”

Frantz started transforming more McFarlane figures into Penguins. Mark Messier in an Edmonton Oilers jersey soon became Tom Kostopoulos in a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Christmas Jersey. And it took off from there.

Some of Frantz' other efforts:




One of the figurines rejected for the ahl.com article was this one, of Providence Bruins defenseman Sean Curry:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Did You Find Your Shit?


Hannu Toivonen: No more elfin magic (Chris Rutsch photo)

In a game that I neither went to nor listed to on the radio (so don't ask me any questions), the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Providence Bruins yesterday in Providence, 5-2, to go up 2-games-to-1 in their opening round playoff series.

Alex Bourret notched three assists-- setting up Bryce Lampman twice and Jarkko Immonen once-- and by Bruce Berlet's account, Bourret's first couple of set-ups were pretty great. Bourret, who was acquired in the trade that sent Pascal Dupuis to Atlanta, is quickly becoming a major force on this team, not only with his exceptional scoring and passing ability (9 points in the first three games of this series already) but with his fearless checking as well.


Jessiman vs. Zinger (Chris Rutsch photo)

Hugh Jessiman continues to fight his way out of a paper bag (the really, really small paper bag that holds all of his points for the season), tangling with Providence's Dwayne Zinger midway through the second period. The game's other fight featured Dane Byers battling Sean Curry, a mere 1:34 into the first period-- Curry being the player who used the butt-end of his stick to clothesline Byers in Game One.

Yes, occasionally I'll explain where these dumb post titles come from:

Sonic Youth, "Providence" (click on link to play)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gil Thorp Is Downright Fashion Conscious



As recently noticed by This Week in Milford ("just another pointless blog... in order to relentlessly mock the well-intentioned but often disturbing 'Gil Thorp' comic"):

In the Jan. 10th '07 installment of "Gil Thorp", high school coaches Gil and Kaz are shown jogging around their neighborhood wearing Hartford Wolf Pack sweatshirts.

Despite the haircuts, and the elasticized-waistband sweat pants, and the fruity scarf-looking thing around their necks, Gil and Kaz are a couple of really sharp dudes, apparently.

Although the artist for "Gil Thorp" is from Connecticut, the strip's writer is from Michigan, and it's generally been presumed that the stories take place in the fictionalized Michigan town of Milford. How someone would go about explaining why people in Michigan have started to randomly wear the shirts of Connecticut teams (like the Southern Connecticut Owls in this panel) is anybody's guess...

Of course, Gil Thorp's only other notable characteristic is the strip's unending supply of corny jokes, creepy undertones, and bizzare cultural references, as the following examples demonstrate (taken from This Week in Milford's random amusing panel archive).






Actually, the more I think about it, I kinda wish those were Bridgeport Sound Tigers sweatshirts instead.

Kicked In The Teeth


Bobby "Wet Spaghetti" Sanguinetti (Chris Rutsch photo)

Two different games, two different results: after handily dispatching the Bruins two nights before, 5-1, the Hartford Wolf Pack struggled and lost to Providence on Friday, 4-2, evening up their first round playoff series at a game apiece.

With the weird 2-3-2 scheduling format that the AHL follows, the next three games of the series will be played in Providence, even though the Wolf Pack have home ice advantage.

The Bruins built a 2-0 lead in a first period that saw only ten shots on goal (4 for Hartford, 6 for Providence). Providence scored their first goal after Pack defenseman Dave Liffiton let a simple dump-in along the boards slide past his stick to a waiting David Krejci, who then sent a pass back out to lumbering Sean Curry for the score.

Sean Bentivoglio notched the Bruins' second goal, on a 5-on-3 power play with three minutes to go in the first. The goal was Bentivoglio's 16th point in 17 games since signing an amateur try-out contract out of Niagara in March.

Hugh "Goal-a-Month" Jessiman then showed some creativity to get Hartford on the board six minutes into the second period. Jessiman used a nifty move to get past Petr Kalus-- sliding the puck around Kalus' skates and then spinning around Kalus to pick the puck up again on the other side-- and then banked a shot from a tough angle off the back of goalie Hannu Toivonen.


Dawes vs. Hoggan (Chris Rutsch photos)

The Wolf Pack tried to claw their way back into the game by stepping up their physical play in the last half of the second period, led by Dwight Helminen, Alex Bourret (who was hitting everything in sight), and Nigel Dawes. Dawes shook the goal light loose with a thundering check into the end boards, and then shortly afterwards instigated a fight with Providence's Jeff Hoggan, after Hoggan knocked Dawes back with a two-fisted high stick that wasn't called. Dawes had no trouble taking care of Hoggan, even though it was a bit of a mis-match in Hoggan's favor (5'-8" to 6'-1").

It was the line of Bourret - Immonen - Dawes, responsible for all five of Hartford's goals the game before, that scored Hartford's second goal in this game. Alex Bourret started the play by deftly faking his way past a Providence defender and then sending a pass up-ice to Immonen, who hit Dawes with a quick pass to set up a back-door goal. That made the score 3-2 with seven minutes left in the third period, but the Pack could draw no closer.

Game Three of the series is scheduled for later tonight, in Providence.

Friday, April 20, 2007

IIHF announces Champions League for '08-'09

Winner to play against NHL challenger


Alexei Morozov of Ak Bars with the '07 Silver Stone cup

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced today a preliminary plan for the European Champions League, an annual round-robin tournament that will involve the top twenty-four ranked European hockey teams beginning with the '08-'09 season.

Along with the announcement, IIHF President René Fasel said that the IIHF already has an agreement with the NHL to allow the "best team(s) from the Champions Hockey League and an NHL challenger to annually play for a world trophy in late September."

"This is a vision that we have had for quite some time and started to work actively on for several months and today we informed our member national federations and their leagues about the plans," said René Fasel. "There are still details to be ironed out, but we are sure that we have a financial and sportive foundation that will imply a new era for European club hockey and club hockey world wide.

"This is something that we have been trying to make feasible for years and finally we believe that together with our partner NHL we have a concept for an annual September showdown," stated Fasel, who also said that further details can be announced as early as during the upcoming IIHF World Championship in Moscow (April 27 – May 13).

The Champions League format would begin with the 7th- through 24th-ranked European teams playing off through two qualifying stages. The top six teams from that group would then advance to the quarter-final group stage, where they would play a double-round robin tournament against the current champions of the 6 top European leagues.

The winner of the Champions League each year would likely receive the Silver Stone trophy, which is currently being awarded to the winner of the IIHF European Champions Cup (last won by Ak Bars).

UPDATE 2:47pm - The TSN version of the announcement.

UPDATE 4/24/07 - A story in Sport Express says that the prize money for the Champions League will total $15 million, with close to $1 million going to the winner.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Greatest 11-Second Song Ever


Photo: Flipside fanzine

Descendents, "Weinerschnitzel" (click on link to play)

"Welcome to Der Weinerschnitzel
May I take your order please?"

Yeah, I want:
Two large Cokes, two large fries
Chili-cheese dog, large Dr. Pepper
Super deluxe, with cheese and tomato
"You want Bill ***** with that?"
NO!

(Note: earlier post not called "Greatest 7-Second Song Ever" for obvious reasons)

Kicker of Elves


Hannu Toivonen: Not my night (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack's 5-1 victory over the Providence Bruins in Game One of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night was such a complete thrashing that some will see it as a portent of trouble to come, i.e. the Pack are using up all of their chips in the first game already. No doubt this series will still play out over a full six or seven games, since that's the pattern that the Wolf Pack have followed in the playoffs in recent years. Advancing into the next round has almost never been easy for Hartford, and whether or not brittle Al Montoya will have the cojones to withstand a long series against a rough Providence team is anyone's guess.


In any case, outside of a ten-minute stretch overlapping the first and second periods where Providence held all the momentum, the Wolf Pack kicked the Bruins around last night from start to finish. Alex Bourret scored for the Wolf Pack just 24 seconds into the game, and the line of Bourret - Jarkko Immonen - Nigel Dawes never let up one bit, as those three players were on the ice for all five Wolf Pack goals. All three players finished the night at +5, with Dawes having a five-point game (two goals, three assists) and Bourret notching two goals and two assists.

The Bruins responded to Bourret's early goal with a score of their own at 15:04 of the first period, when Sean Bentivoglio fired a bullet of a wrist shot from the right face-off circle that found its way through two players who were jockeying elbow-to-elbow in front of the net, then past Al Montoya before sticking like a dart between the center support and the back of the net.

That ended up being the lone bright spot for Providence. Hartford weathered a rough patch into the beginning of the second period where the Bruins appeared ready to take the game over, and then grabbed the lead back on a goal by Jarkko Immonen eight minutes into the second period. Immonen's goal was set up by a beautiful feed from Dawes, who carried the puck in deep by faking his way past two Providence defenders, Jeff Hoggan and David Krejci, before spinning and sending the puck back to Immonen.

Dawes then scored the next two goals for Hartford, with Alex Bourret capping off the game's scoring with his second goal of the night seven minutes into the third period. Bourret also had the check of the game for the second home game in a row, on a head-on collision where Bourret flat-out leveled a Bruins player who was caught looking the other way.


Dave Liffiton taking apart Nate Thompson (Heather Rutsch photo)

Dale Purinton found a willing dance partner in fellow old-timer/has-been Aaron "Softness" Downey, fighting Downey twice with the second fight being better in the first-- though both fights were pretty boring (as Dale's usually are). Two more fights came when things got chippy late in the game, as both Dave Liffiton and Dane Byers took matters into their own hands when it appeared that referee Terry Koharski planned to ignore two obvious penalties.

Liffiton slugged it out with Nate Thompson, after Thompson repeatedly cross-checked Liffiton in the back during a battle for the puck in the corner, with no whistle forthcoming; then, in what could've been a really ugly incident with ten seconds left in the game, noted putz Sean Curry two-fisted Dane Byers in the face as Byers was skating out from behind the Providence net, with the puck already well up ice and Byers looking the other way. Byers quickly jumped to his feet and settled things with Curry.

The Wolf Pack are playing without the services of tough guy Francis Lessard, who was suspended on Tuesday by the AHL for ten games after a major brawl that happened between periods in Hartford's game at Portland on Sunday (the final game of the regular season). Lessard and Portland's Trevor Gillies were both bloodied by the fight, and Lessard flipped off the Portland crowd with both hands as he left the ice.


Photo by Ron Morin, Ron's Sports Photography

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sound Tigers Steal Rangers' Salute



...and the four fans in the stands wave right back.

(Photo credit: Rich Stieglitz/BST)

Greatest 10-Second Song Ever


thanks, kbd

C.I.A., "Who Cares?" (:07, actually)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Born Identity



When Chris Holt came into the 11 AM game against Bridgeport in relief of Al Montoya a couple of weeks ago, the scoreboard operator very briefly put pictures of Holt and Matt Damon side-by-side on the center ice videoboard with the heading, "Separated at Birth". Anyone who caught the joke before it was quickly taken down seemed to get a kick out of it, including Holt himself, and it was pretty easy to laugh anyway, since the Pack had a 6-1 lead at the time.

Here are a few other Wolf Pack look-alikes (including a couple from an earlier post of mine, as well as one of the Wolf Pack message boards), if the scoreboard operator ever wants to give it another shot:



Marc Staal - Napoleon Dynamite



Dale Purinton - Jason Lee



Lauri Korpikoski - Macaulay Culkin



Darius Kasparaitis - Cousin Oliver*

*Brady Bunch, duh

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dallas Stars Plan Sucky New Outdoor Ad Campaign








...to be launched in May.

When other teams who're not the Stars will be advancing through the latter rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Looking forward to selling tickets for next year, perhaps?

(Images via Ads of The World)

Shooting Fishsticks In a Barrel


Check of The Year: Alex Bourret laying out Gregg Johnson (Photo: Rich Stieglitz)

I'm sure it sounds stupid of me for admitting this, but the Wolf Pack have been beating up the Sound Tigers so easily lately (16-4 against Bridgeport over the past two seasons) that my mind wandered a lot during Hartford's 3-0 win over Bridgeport last night. That, plus it being the last regular season Wolf Pack game out of some fifty-odd hockey games that I've been to season meant that I really wasn't paying attention all that much.

So, I missed the part during Dale Purinton's fight with Ken Magowan in the second period, when a player on the Bridgeport bench threw a water bottle at Purinton's head (the Sound Tigers were given a bench minor for throwing the water bottle; Purinton was given a game misconduct for throwing it back at them). And, I missed seeing Bridgeport's Drew Fata skating around with a part of one of the dasher board advertising signs stuck to his ass.


Dale Purinton taking down Magowan (Chris Rutsch photo)

But, yeah, other than that, Al Montoya got his sixth shutout of the season, and Hartford's win officially knocked Bridgeport (and their mealy-mouthed, disgusting fans) out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack have one more regular-season game in Portland on Sunday, and then start the playoffs with two home games on Wednesday and Friday, most likely against either Worcester or Providence.

What's a Diego Padre?



Above: an article on Paul Gardner in yesterday's Tennessean that twice refers to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (named for the area's many railroad workers and the railway ministry that sponsors the team) as "the Yaroslavl Locomotives".

Better that than the team's name being confused with the cheesy California bar band Lokomotiv, I guess.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Metallurg takes Russian title


Metallurg coach Fedor Kanareykin (Sergei Gavrilov/Sport Express photo)

Metallurg Magnitogorsk defeated Ak Bars Kazan earlier today, 2-1, in the finals' deciding fifth game to capture the Russian Super League championship (game recap, summary and box score).

Czech forward Jan Marek, Metallurg's leading point scorer all season, scored the game-winning goal with 7:23 left.

It was the sixth consecutive time that the visiting team has won the decisive game of the RSL finals.

The game was a physical and emotional contest that saw Ak Bars' Jan Novak leaving blood on the ice and causing a delay after a serious injury, plus a fight between Metallurg's Ed Kudermetov and Ak Bars' Vitaly Proshkin, all in the game's first few minutes of play.

Metallurg scored first, on a goal by Vitali Atyushov at 5:45 of the first period. Atyushov's goal stood as the game's only score until past the midway point of the third period, when Kazan's Ilya Nikulin, on an assist from Vladimir Vorobiev, tied the game with 8:45 to go. Jan Marek's game-winning goal for Metallurg followed only 1:12 later.


Metallurg's Ravil Gusmanov and Vitali Atyushov with Vladislav Tretiak
and the Cup (Gazeta.ru photo)

The win was Metallurg's third RSL championship in 8 years ('07, '01, '99), and followed an unlikely season that saw the team lose both its best player (Evgeni Malkin) and head coach (Dave King).

The Russian paper Sport Express, in fact, took a shot at Malkin, saying, "Somewhere deep in his soul Malkin will be sorry for his departure, as he deprived himself of a brilliant fifth match of the Russian finals, while his Penguins will hardly make it out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs."

Metallurg's victory prevented regular season champions and defending champions Ak Bars from become the RSL's second repeat champion in the last four seasons.

UPDATE 4/16/07 - Here's a video of the final two minutes of play, from Russian TV (with sound):



Metallurg's Evgeni Varlamov (#36 in blue) takes a late penalty, then Ak Bars pulls their goalie to get a 6-on-4, but Metallurg holds on for the win.

Also, check out the post for Game Two of the final, which has been updated to include a video of the dust-up between goalies Travis Scott and Mika Noronen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Here's to The Ilanders



Joe Pelletier put up a post earlier today, on his Legends of Hockey blog, pointing out some of the infamous engraving mistakes that have occurred with the Stanley Cup over the years.

The one that I think is the funniest involves former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington, who had his father's name, Basil Pocklington, engraved on the Cup after the Oilers won in '84. Now, it's policy that only the people actually involved with the team get their names on the Cup-- not the players' girlfriends, or the owner's wife, or dad, even-- so the NHL had Basil's name X'ed out:


You're X'ed

Here's the funny part: about ten years later, the bottom ring of the Cup broke, and had to be replaced. The engraver made a new ring, leaving Basil "Mr. X" Pocklington off completely, but listing the '81 New York Islanders as "Ilanders". When the NHL ordered the ring to be touched up, the engraver this time re-created the Basil Pocklington episode (for historical accuracy, I guess-- adding the name to the Cup all over again, then stamping X's over it), but somehow still left "Ilanders" intact.

There have been 12 engraving mistakes involving the Stanley Cup; visit Joe's blog to read about the rest of them.

Yet, there's no mention of when the dastardly Carolina Hurricanes broke the Stanley Cup last year... a secret closely guarded by the NHL to protect their "Southern Embarassment", apparently.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Greatest Lil Jon Song Ever



Whoops, wrong guy.

Little John, "Derailer"

Not a bad Replacements-ish rocker; too bad about the band's name, though.

Buy you book and send you to school and you still don't know nothin'...

Ak Bars extends Russian final


Metallurg forward Evgeny Gladskikh #33 (Sport Express photo)

Ak Bars Kazan forced a deciding Game Five in the Russian Super League finals by defeating Metallurg Magnitogorsk earlier today, 4-3 (game recap, summary and box score).

Metallurg, looking to close out the finals on home ice, struck first, on a goal by Denis Platonov 6:42 into the first period. But Ak Bars responded with a goal by Andrei Pervyshin less than three minutes later, and went on to run off three more unanswered scores (two back-to-back by Danis Zaripov, who had a hat trick in Game Two and now has over 40 goals for the year, followed by a second goal from Pervyshin) in taking a 4-1 lead through the early minutes of the third period.

Metallurg closed the gap to 4-3 with two goals midway through the third, by Nikolai Kulemin (his 37th of the year and 10th of the playoffs) and again by Platonov.

The Metallurg arena lost power for two minutes during the first intermission.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Metallurg one win away from RSL title


Metallurg forward Alexei Tertyshny skates in on Ak Bars goalie
Mika Noronen (Sport Express photo)


Metallurg Magnitogorsk has moved to within one win of claiming the '07 Russian Super League title, defeating defending champs Ak Bars Kazan earlier today, 4-1, to go up 2 games to one in their best-of-five series (game recap, summary and box score).

Evgeni Varlamov started off the scoring for Magnitogorsk, with a goal at the 10-minute mark of the first period. The score remained at 1-0 until late in the second period, when Metallurg broke through for two more goals, by Varlamov again at 15:16 of the second and by Nikolai Kulemin at 18:40. Jan Marek, who assisted on Kulemin's goal, then scored 16 seconds into the third period to put the game safely out of reach, 4-0.

Former Islanders/Devils defenseman Ray Giroux scored the lone Ak Bars goal. For their role in a fight in the previous game, Metallurg goalie Travis Scott and Ak Bars goalie Mika Noronen were given "symbolic" fines of 5000 rubles (less than $200).

Game Four of the series is scheduled to be played at Magnitogorsk tomorrow (4/11), with a Game Five to be played at Ak Bars on April 13th, if necessary.