Hockey bloggers share their 2010 Hockey Hall of Fame "ballots"

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adamoates.jpgNow that we provided our Hall of Fame choices, let’s get to some of our favorites from the hockey blogosphere. We’ll provide a “consensus” post later on, too.

Laura Astorian
http://www.thrashingtheblues.com/

1. Adam Oates – greatest assist man of all time and part of the best nicknamed duo in hockey: “Hull & Oates.”
2. Doug Gilmour – one of the best captains in Maple Leafs history, and there are quite a few to choose from.
3. Pavel Bure – he was fast, thrilling, and the hockey grandpappy of guys like Ovechkin and Kovalchuk.
4. Joe Nieuwendyk, because I’m contrarian and because he’s the “shoo-in.”

Every year Oates gets passed over drives me nuts. Nieuwendyk’s a lock regardless, but I like to live on the edge. (Ed note: someone purchased Aerosmith’s “Get a Grip” album in the 90s … besides ME!)

Ryan Porth
http://www.rldhockey.net/

Four choices: Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk, and Pavel Bure
Honorable Mention: Cammi Granato
Nieuwendyk should get into the Hall in his first year on the ballot… no question! Gilmour, Andreychuk, and Bure are worthy of getting in, too. Granato would be a great story to get in as the first woman, but doubt she’ll be elected in her first year on the ballot.

andreychuk.jpg

Scotty Hockey
http://www.scottyhockey.com

1. Joe Nieuwendyk – Twenty seasons, three Cups, a Conn Smythe, a 0.90 point per game average over that span … this guy is a gimme for the Hall.

2. Hakan Loob – It is the Hockey Hall of Fame, right? Not the NHL Hall of Fame. Loob had a stellar career in the NHL, in Sweden and for Sweden – putting up solid numbers and bringing fans out of their seats. I would put Mats Naslund in as well for the same criteria but there are only four slots and, well, there are enough Canadiens in the Hall already. Induct him and they might want to retire his number… (Editor’s note: is Scotty Hockey trying to score points with John Buccigross?)

3. Alexander Mogilny – Like Loob, Mogilny is a Triple Gold member. Unlike Loob, he had to defect to come to play in he NHL and battled extreme xenophobia – he was a Soviet coming to take a job. It was a battle he won by becoming a star.

4. Lorne Chabotsky aka Lorne Chabot – By any name, the first goaltender in Ranger history was a great one. Lorne played 11 seasons, was traded six times, won two Stanley Cups (one with the Rangers, one with the Leafs), collected a Vezina Trophy (with the Hawks) and left the league with a winning record (201-148- 62).

Honourable Mention – Pavel Bure – A Russian Mike Bossy without the luck to end up on a dynasty team. Both were dynamic offensive talents who wowed with their skill and had their careers end too early due to injury. And Bure did it not in the open ’80s but the dead puck era.

Rob Yunich
http://stormingthecrease.com/

1. Joe Nieuwendyk
It may not be an original pick, but it’s hard not to start with him. He’s a proven winner who also looks like he’s going to have success as the Stars GM. A lock.

2. Dave Andreychuk
He’s one of 74 players all-time with more than 1,000 points and is 28th all-time in points overall. He’s a leader who played 1,639 games in a brilliant career.

3. Doug Gilmour
He’s 12th all-time with 964 assists in his 1,474-game career. Although he was somewhat overshadowed by Wayne Gretzky as a center, he certainly is worth of induction alongside the Great One.

4. Cammi Granato
If you’re going to include women on the ballot, why not start with somebody from a strong hockey family? Granato led the USA to two Olympic medals (a gold and silver) and a boatload of other international titles.

Honorable Mention — John LeClair: He may not be a sexy pick, but he’s certainly worthy of induction. He won a Cup on a great Canadiens team anchored by Patrick Roy and then nearly led the Phiadelphia Flyers to a title. And he won a silver Olympic medal too.

After the jump, picks from the remaining hockey bloggers.


ciccarelli.jpgMonica McAlister
http://www.thehockeywriters.com
http://sinbinchronicles.blogspot.com

Mike Vernon

Still holds the goaltending records for the Calgary Flames; and come on after so many years of battling it out with Patrick Roy between the pipes to finally pummeled him at center ice in the Fight Night at the Joe brawl on 26 March 1997 (which was also his 300th NHL victory) then back stopping the Detroit Red Wings to their first cup since 1955 and win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Adam Oates

Probably one of the most overlooked players because he never won the Stanley Cup. Has the most points (1420 and what a pretty number that is) out of any eligible HHOF ballot members. After coming so close to winning so many different awards (Stanley Cup, Lady Byng, etc) isn’t it just time we finally let Oates be a bride and not the bridesmaid?

Dino Ciccarelli

Four time All Star game ranging from 1982 to 1997. The original goaltender annoyance before Tomas Holmstrom. Recorded 1,200 points (and 1,425 PIM) in 1,232 career games.

Alexander Mogilny

The original (OK not historically but we are talking hockey) Alexander the Great. A Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold medal, and a World Championship Gold medal) member that just needs his Hockey Hall of Fame induction to complete his collection.

Honorable Mention:

Pavel Bure

Though he did not have a successful postseason career, he was flashy and enjoyable to watch. People tuned in to watch games they may have not normally watched to see what Bure might do. He was quick and flashy; and the people loved him but is that enough?

granato.jpgCornelius Hardenbergh
http://www.hockeyblogadventure.com/

1: Adam Oates. The only inactive non-hall-of-famer with more points than Oates is Joe Sakic, a first-ballot lock when eligible. That Brett Hull is in and Oates is not also breaks up the “Hull and Oates”
2: Doug Gilmour. If 1400+ games and points, many as a captain, doesn’t make you a hall of famer, maybe we should rethink George Armstrong. Both are former leafs who scored cup-winning goals…Gilmour just happened to do it for Calgary.
3: Dino Ciccarelli. Nearly a point per game through 1200+ games, he’s been kept out of the hall because of some questionable off-ice behavior. He’s been left to twist in the wind long enough, it’s time for him to finally get in.
4:John Vanbiesbrouck. Of eligible goalies, he’s the best. Tom Barrasso would also be acceptable, even if he did play for my high school’s rival before breaking into the NHL.
Honorable Mention: Phil Housley. One of the best American defensemen of all time, he’s cursed by a lack of Stanley Cups. I expect Messier to get into the Hall again before Housley does, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t.

First female inductee: Cammi Granato has been the first woman into 2 other hall of fames already – USHHOF and IHHOF – and with good reason. I see no reason to break the pattern. (USA! USA! USA!) (Editor’s note: Cornelius cheated! This won’t count but it’s still cool to have her in the post again.)

Scotty Wazz
http://scottywazz.blogspot.com/

1. Dino Ciccarelli: Aside from the off-ice shenanigans, Ciccarelli was a solid scorer and someone who was dependable for most of his career. 600+ goals and 1200 points is something that shouldn’t be left out of the Hall anymore.

2. Adam Oates: There wasn’t a better passer and probably never will be. Like Ciccarelli, the lack of Cup ring will definitely hurt him in the field of guys who have it– but even so; he should be able to get in on pointage alone.

3. Pavel Bure: While his career was cut short, the impact he had when it came to people looking at Russian players is something that paved that way for the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. The only thing that will screw him over is the shortness of his career.

4. Joe Nieuwendyk: Three Cups and someone who was able to get into their role position after he was no longer the big fish in the small pond. While his stats were never flashy, he got the job done in the long run and contributed where needed.

Honorable Mention: Mike Richter: How he was passed up in his prior voting is a shock; but he will be again. NHL accomplishments aside, he did a lot of great international work with USA Hockey.

Bryan Reynolds
http://www.hockeywilderness.com

Joe Nieuwendyk – This guy has all of the numbers. 564 goals, 1126 points, three Stanley Cups. This guy is a mortal lock.

Phil Housley – Top scoring American born D-man ever. Second only to Mike Modano for highest scoring American regardless of position. If Housley doesn’t get in, the selection committee should be ashamed of themselves.

Dino Ciccarelli – The 600 goal club is a small one, and the fact that Dino is not in the hall is a travesty. I don’t think off the ice incidents (indecent exposure) should hurt a guy’s chance to get in the Hall. It’s about on ice success, and Dino was one of the best.

Dave Andreychuk – Another 600 goal club member left out of the hall. Stanley Cup, over 1300 points, in a relatively weak class of possible inductees. I’m not sure what a shoe-in vote looks like, but he has to be it.

Honorable mention:

Mike Vernon – No, he doesn’t have the greatest numbers of all time, but he beat the tar out of Patrick Roy. That has to count for something.

Cassie McClellan
http://www.rawcharge.com

1. Kevin Lowe – As much as I dislike him as the president of the Edmonton Oilers, there’s no denying that he was a presence on those five Cup winning Edmonton Oilers teams. And he managed to add a sixth Cup win when with the NY Rangers. Even if it was just luck on his part, those six rings speak volumes.

2. Cammi Granato – Manon Rhéaume may have broken the gender barrier in the NHL – even if it was only during the preseason – but Granato has accomplished far more on the ice than Rhéaume has. She’s won just about everything there is to win in women’s hockey, including the first-ever Olympic gold medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In 2007, she was one of the winners of the Lester Patrick Award, which is often awarded to NHLers; if that doesn’t say something, then I don’t know what does.

3. Alexander Mogilny – Mogilny’s on-ice accomplishments were many, but it’s his off-ice accomplishment that makes him HHOF-worthy. He was the first Russian to defect in 1989 as a junior player to the US to come play hockey in the NHL – the Soviet Union didn’t fall until two years later in 1991. Mogilny’s bravery led the way for other Russians to join him in North America, such as Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure.

4. Manon Rhéaume – She was the face of women’s hockey for many years, and inspired a generation of girls to toss their figure skates for a pair of hockey skates – or even just to learn to skate so they could play hockey. She broke the NHL gender barrier by playing two NHL preseason games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, one in 1992 versus the St. Louis Blues and the other in 1993 versus the Boston Bruins. She also participated in the first ever women’s ice hockey Olympic tournament in 1998 with Team Canada, winning the silver medal.

Honorable Mention, Mike Richter – Perhaps not the most successful goaltender on the list, but his accomplishments to grow the game here in the US were great. He was, for many years, the face of USA Hockey – and he lived up to that admirably. It doesn’t hurt that he also managed to win a Cup in 1994 with the NY Rangers as well.

Ivan Makarov (no relation to Sergei, though)
http://www.fearthefin.com

1. Joe Nieuwendyk
2. Eric Lindros
3. Pavel Bure
4. Sergei Makarov

Honorable Mention: John LeClair – consistent performer, but not quite the first-year inductee.

There is no question Joe should be elected on the first ballot – he has the numbers, the trophies and the rings. Lindros and Bure do not have the rings, but when we think of the players who dominated the game in the 90s, those two come up in all conversations. All young Canadian and Russian prospects with high potential are still compared to those two all the time. Finally, Makarov belongs to HOF too. No doubt he was one of the best players to ever play the game and it’s a shame he was in his prime when he couldn’t play with the best in the NHL.

Blogger Tally

Nieuwendyk 7

Oates 4

Gilmour 4

Bure 4

Ciccarelli 4

Andreychuk 3

Granato 2

Mogilny 2

Loob

Chabot

Vernon

Vanbiesbrouck

Housley

Rheaume

Lowe

Lindros

Makarov

High-schooler ‘sticks it to cancer’ with surprise comeback

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NBC Sports is celebrating Hockey Day in America with an NHL Sunday tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

It was standing room only in the rink, with those in attendance unaware of the surprise that was to be announced in a few moments. Derek Zacchino was lined up on the blue line in full uniform next to his Bethpage High School teammates prepared to take part in the ceremonial puck drop for a benefit game in his honor.

It had been a trying three months for the junior defenseman and his family. A surprise diagnosis after the first practice of the year changed the entire season. Now here he was inside the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center holding a secret that only few people there knew.

Hours before the benefit game Derek learned that partaking in the pre-game puck drop wouldn’t be his only on-ice duties that evening.

***

September 4 on Long Island was a hot one. Temperatures reached the 90s the day before many schools opened in the area. That Tuesday also marked the first day of practice for the Bethpage Eagles hockey team.

The 2018-19 season was to be one of transition for the Eagles. Despite losing the league’s top goaltender and scorer, and some of their top defensemen to graduation, they were hoping to build off last season’s run where they won their conference, reached the Nassau County final, and participated in the New York State tournament.

Derek left that first practice early feeling ill. He found himself experiencing double vision and ended up vomiting in the dressing room. Having experienced headaches over the summer, he chalked it up to being related to concussions he’d suffered in the past. One week and numerous tests later, he found himself on the way to Cohen Children’s Medical Center after doctors discovered a large mass.

“Sorry I couldn’t come to practice tonight, I had to go to the hospital. Turns out I have fluid on my brain,” was the text Derek wrote to Eagles head coach Jeff Schmier, who initially thought he was feeling dehydrated.

Doctors had found a tumor on Derek’s brain and were able to take most of it after emergency surgery the next day. After some tests, it was discovered the tumor was malignant and he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an “aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

“[My wife and I] were just numb. I just thought life as I know it was ended,” said Derek’s dad, Don. “If something takes Derek away from me, I don’t see how I can ever be the same, let alone move on.”

But seeing Derek’s attitude after surgery and the diagnosis, especially as his concern focused on when he could play hockey again and not what he’s been through, helped Don and his wife Dawn deal with the situation.

“He never complained,” said Don. “He never showed sadness or [asked] ‘why me?’ That’s what carried us through. People ask me at work all the time, ‘How are you going through with this? You’re amazing.’ I’m not amazing. My son’s amazing. When I grow up, I want to be Derek. He was leading my wife and I in this journey of positivity. He never let us break down, because how could we? It doesn’t seem to be affecting him.”

Following the surgery, a schedule began that featured radiation treatments five times a week and a chemotherapy infusion every Monday. Derek still wanted to attend school, so treatments took place after classes ended for the day. His new challenge also didn’t keep him away from rink. He was still able to attend practices and games just to be around his teammates and help keep a sense of normalcy.

“It wasn’t too hard being away,” said Derek. “It was more tough not being able to play in the games.”

***

As Derek went through his cancer battle, the community rallied around the Zacchinos. Plans were made to turn Bethpage’s Dec. 19 game into a benefit for the hospital, which saw T-shirts featuring the slogan “Stick It To Cancer” sold in large quantities, as well as gift baskets and signed items donated by various NHL teams to be raffled off.

The night that was expected to raise only few hundred dollars ballooned into something bigger.

Once the crowd filed into packed rink, the atmosphere by those in attendance was likened to that of an NHL playoff game. Everyone was there to support Derek, but earlier in the day some surprise news changed the entire feel of the night.

As Derek sat down for his lunch period, Don called with the news that his doctors had cleared him to play that night. Now he had to go the rest of the day without revealing the secret.

When they arrived at the rink later that day, only Derek, his parents, Schmier, and the head coach of the opposing team, Oceanside High School, knew he was playing.

Derek arrived about 90 minutes before the game because he wanted to beat the crowd and say hello to everyone he needed to and then get ready. “I came in and I’ve never seen so many people in such a confined space,” he said. Schmier had arranged to have each team in the league have a representative in attendance, some of whom sent a number of players from their roster.

A former member of the Eagles’ team who now helps out assisted Derek in getting his equipment into the dressing room without anyone noticing. As Schmier did his usual pre-game pep talk, he emphasized to his players the importance of focusing on such a big night, especially as they were facing a 9-0-1 team. He finished by revealing the secret.

“One more thing,” Schmier said to his players. “I have some news that is going to rock your world. Like I say, defense wins it. We have someone that’s going to be joining us playing tonight and I need one of you players not to dress tonight. Talk about it amongst yourselves. Derek’s going to be playing tonight.”

From there the dressing room erupted in cheers, some players even broke down in tears at the news. It was a needed emotional boost for a team that was going through an up-and-down season.

Once the furor died down, Derek started getting ready, but kept getting interrupted by requests from local news stations for interviews. He didn’t really get to settle in until later on, and once he hit the ice he was running on adrenaline.

Still, while he took part in warmups in full uniform and all of his equipment on, no one in the crowd knew he would be playing. It was Dave Schneider, Bethpage superintendent of schools who made the announcement, which resulted in a roar from the crowd.

There was still a game to be played and the Eagles came out gave their best performance of the season, one that was capped by a strong defensive effort in the final moments.

As Bethpage held a 4-3 lead with under a minute to go and after some penalties, Oceanside found themselves with an empty net and a 5-on-3 advantage. 

“There’s no way I’m getting off this ice,” Derek told Schmier when asked if he wanted to stay on for the final shift.

A complete 60-minute effort wouldn’t be without some luck. As Oceanside pressed for the tying goal, their best chance clanked off the goal post with seconds remaining. The ensuing face off was tied up in the corner by Bethpage and time ran out with the Eagles immediately surrounding Derek in celebration.

“I have never been involved in a sporting event like that night. It was so emotional,” said Schmier, who still remains impressed at the level his team played at that night. “I’ve watched games since… I actually told them, I don’t ever want to hear that that team was better. I saw what you could do tonight, you have no more excuses because they were capable of that.”

Northwell Health

The game took place two days before Derek’s 17th birthday and the victory only added to a night that was a complete success. By the end, $21,016 (Derek wears No. 16) had been raised for pediatric cancer research at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

“I don’t think anything really changed me,” said Derek of his cancer experience. “I learned that there’s a lot more good people out there than you think.”

Derek was unable to finish two other games the rest of the season, as the effects of his radiation treatments were too much for his body. His fight wasn’t over yet as there was a second surgery on Feb. 1. Another MRI in January showed doctors that part of the tumor that was left there originally did not go away and it had grown a little. The good news was that the surgeon was confident he could go in and get it, mainly because there was more room between the tumor and the brain than he originally expected.

Pro-active treatments are now being done to prevent the cancer from returning and eventually he’ll begin an oral chemotherapy treatment. The fatigue he experiences from the radiation treatments is expected to wear off by the end of the month and while they’re not focusing on it yet, he should be fully ready to return to the ice next season.

A week after the second surgery, Derek was a guest of New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk during his annual Kancer Jam fundraiser. The two connected thanks to a teacher at Bethpage High School and met after a game at Madison Square Garden in late December.

Shattenkirk wasn’t the only NHL player to reach out. Fellow Long Island native Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins sent a signed jersey, as did Alex Tuch, who got his Vegas Golden Knights teammates to autograph one for Derek.

***

Through this experience, nothing phased Derek. While his family were concerned about his health, he never complained about what he was going through. His only concern was when he’d be able to play hockey again.

“I don’t even think it’s still hit me,” said Derek, who was named after Boston Bruins great Derek Sanderson even though Don is a die-hard Rangers fan. “When I found out that my last surgery went well, as the doctor said, in remission as of right now. I never really freaked out. So I don’t think it’s even hit me that I was diagnosed with it yet, let alone healed.”

“He was never high and low,” said Don. “He’s Derek. This is Derek.”

That was never more evident as the four of us sat for an interview last week and Schmier casually broke the news to Derek that he would be the team’s captain next season.

“I guessed my senior season year would be our best season,” said Derek. “That’s what I’m hoping.”

The Eagles will only graduate four seniors in June, which means the 2019-20 season will feature an upperclassmen-heavy roster. That will be a team led by a motivated captain who has conquered the ultimate obstacle.

“I didn’t know until this happened, the magnitude of [nothing phasing Derek] and really how impressed I am,” said Don. “Looking back, this is Derek’s personality. The strength and the poise, this is a whole other thing.

“Like I say, when I grow up I want to be him.”

Pre-game studio coverage begins at noon ET on NBC with NHL Live, which will be on-site in Hockeytown at The Rink at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, Mich. Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will anchor pre-game, intermission and post-game coverage throughout the day alongside analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick. In addition, Tappen will provide reports and interviews from the Team USA vs. Canada women’s hockey game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

NBC Hockey Day in America schedule:
N.Y. Rangers at Pittsburgh – NBC – 12:30 p.m. ET (Watch live)
St. Louis at Minnesota – NBC – 3:30 p.m. ET (Watch live)
Philadelphia at Detroit – NBCSN –  6 p.m. ET (Watch live)

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Devils’ Gabriel sets bait, Sabres’ Bogosian takes it in warm-up fracas

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Kurtis Gabriel doesn’t play a pile of minutes, so it’s a little surprising that Zach Bogosian took such an interest in the 25-year-old forward prior to puck drop between the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

It must be something he said.

Indeed, Gabriel got under the veteran defenseman’s skin well before the game officially started. A heated conversation at the center line during warmup seemed to spark an extended battle between the two as the usual pre-game skate progressed.

Bogosian took issue with something Gabriel chirped in their first exchange and swatted the latter in the back of the leg before departing, momentarily at least.

Bogosian hooked Gabriel on another pass-by later on, then proceeded to fire a puck his way before the intense death glare. Of course, Bogosian wasn’t finished. He got in a solid cross-check to Gabriel’s arm followed by a quick slash — Bogosian’s version of a 1-2, apparently.

Here’s the tape:

Gabriel didn’t budge. Instead, he mocked Bogosian before Drew Stafford skated between the two to diffuse the situation.

Nothing seemed to come of it during the game and the pair didn’t drop the gloves.

Bogosian finished with nearly 21 minutes of ice time while Gabriel had 7:03.

The Devils got the last laugh, winning 4-1.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Coyne Schofield’s global impact empowering women

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The past month has been a whirlwind for U.S. Women’s National Team member Kendall Coyne Schofield. And that might just be understating an understatement.

Indeed, Coyne Schofield hit the ground running at the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills with her blistering time in the fastest skater, and since then, she’s been promoting the women’s game like none other.

Coyne Schofield spoke of the past month on Hockey Day in America on Sunday.

NBC Sports is celebrating Hockey Day in America with an NHL Sunday tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

Pre-game studio coverage begins at noon ET on NBC with NHL Live, which will be on-site in Hockeytown at The Rink at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, Mich. Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will anchor pre-game, intermission and post-game coverage throughout the day alongside analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick. In addition, Tappen will provide reports and interviews from the Team USA vs. Canada women’s hockey game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

NBC Hockey Day in America schedule:
Penguins beat Rangers 6-5
Blues shutout Wild 4-0
Philadelphia at Detroit – NBCSN –  6 p.m. ET (Watch live)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canadian women beat US 2-0 to win inaugural Rivalry Series

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By Larry Lage (AP Hockey Writer)

DETROIT (AP) — The inaugural Rivalry Series was created to give Canada and the United States another opportunity to put the world’s best female hockey teams on the ice together.

It went so well, there likely will be a sequel.

Brianne Jenner and Blayre Turnbull scored, Shannon Szabados made 38 saves, and the Canadians beat the Americans 2-0 in front of 9,048 fans Sunday to win the three-game series.

”It always means a lot when you play these guys and there’s no love lost on the ice, so to get a win in their barn felt pretty good,” Jenner said.

Gina Kingsbury, director of women’s national teams for Hockey Canada, declared the event was a success in every way.

”We would love to see this repeat itself every year for sure,” Kingsbury said. ”It would help generate excitement about our game outside of Olympic years.”

The Canadians beat their rivals nearly a year after the U.S. won Olympic gold in a shootout thriller and a few months after it won the Four Nations Cup against them.

They will meet again in April at the world championship in Finland.

”That’s the hardest part,” Alex Rigsby said after making 15 saves for the Americans. ”You come off a loss and now we have to wait another six, seven weeks until we play each other again.”

The top U.S. and Canadian teams have not played regularly outside of the Olympics, world championship and Four Nations Cup, but that will change if the Rivalry Series becomes an annual event.

”It fits really well with our program,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said. ”And, it’s good for us to have the NHL involved as well.”

The league supported the event that USA Hockey collaborated with Hockey Canada to conceive, making the arenas used by the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs available along with promoting the event. That likely helped an average of 8,725 spectators attend the first two games and for even more people to show up in the Motor City for a game that started at noon.

”We couldn’t be more thankful for the Red Wings and the NHL to help us out,” American forward Brianna Decker.

Fans filled almost the entire lower bowl of Little Caesars Arena where scores of girls in hockey jerseys could be seen and heard.

”There’s always more and more young girls watching and you can hear them in the crowd,” U.S. forward Dana Trivigno said. ”You’re their role models and you’re what they aspiring to be. We’re just trying to create a path for them to follow and do the same thing.”

And as usual, the women helped their cause to market the game by playing highly competitive games.

The U.S. won the opener 1-0 on Tuesday in London, Ontario, and Canada evened the three-game series with a 4-3 victory Thursday in Toronto.

The Americans generated a lot of offense in the finale, especially during goal-mouth scrambles during a 21-shot second period and in the final minutes. Savannah Harmon had a goal for the Americans negated by a crease violation early in the third period when Trivigno made contact with Szabados.

”Canada plays a physical game so I was trying to get to the net and create some havoc in front,” Trivigno said. ”I bumped off one Canadian and got into the goalie and couldn’t get off her quick enough. Unfortunately, that was enough to make it goaltender interference.”

Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/LarryLage

Incredible rise of Arizona State’s hockey team

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Not many people think of hockey when they think of Arizona, but the Arizona State University Sun Devils might just change the perception of the sport in the desert.

The Sun Devils have been a revelation in NCAA Division I men’s hockey this season. They have a 21-10-1 record, including a current five-game heater, and are on the brink of the NCAA Tournament with two games remaining in their regular season.

It wasn’t always this way, however. This is one incredible story of a rise to prominence in a place most unexpected.

NBC Sports is celebrating Hockey Day in America with an NHL Sunday tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

Pre-game studio coverage begins at noon ET on NBC with NHL Live, which will be on-site in Hockeytown at The Rink at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, Mich. Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will anchor pre-game, intermission and post-game coverage throughout the day alongside analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick. In addition, Tappen will provide reports and interviews from the Team USA vs. Canada women’s hockey game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

NBC Hockey Day in America schedule:
Penguins beat Rangers 6-5
Blues shutout Wild 4-0 
Philadelphia at Detroit – NBCSN –  6 p.m. ET (Watch live)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck