On Hockeyville, and hallowed rinks


Last year, one of America’s most iconic local community rinks captured the first-ever Kraft Hockeyville title — Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial Arena, where the cult classic Slap Shot was filmed.

This year, perhaps another hallowed rink will bring home the award.

And speaking of hallowed rinks, it’s fitting that the winner of this year’s Hockeyville contest will get to host an NHL game during the preseason — because the big leagues have seen their fair share of historic barns, too.

And with those historic barns often come some, ahem, special quirks.

A few examples:

Joe Louis Arena (end boards)

It’s not like The Joe needed anything else to stand out among the 29 other active NHL rinks. Having opened in 1979, it’s one of the oldest arenas currently in use and, along with Madison Square Garden in New York, is one of just two without a corporate sponsor name.

But it’s also got those end boards.

The “exceptionally lively” kick plates gained national exposure during the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins took notice that the Red Wings were using the sharp, quick bounces to their advantage.

“They know the boards,” forward Max Talbot said, per ESPN. “They were using that for set plays.”

Utilizing those boards has been an ace up Detroit’s sleeve for quite some time — Hall of Fame d-man Nicklas Lidstrom was a master at using them. But over the years, opposing players have figured out how to take advantage, too.

Like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who combined for this highlight-reel tally in 2013:

United Center (noise)

Having attended several Stanley Cup Finals games in Chicago, I can confirm one thing:

The United Center is freakin’ loud.

It’s easy to see why. With a capacity of 20,500 — there were 22,424 people in attendance for last year’s decisive Game 6 win over Tampa Bay — the United Center is one of the NHL’s largest rinks. And when it comes to giving home-ice advantage, the fans, well… the fans know how to take advantage.

The noise begins right at the start of every contest, when Jim Cornelison comes out to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. If there’s a more energetic way to begin a game, I’ve yet to see it:

BB&T Center (rats)

So, the story goes like this.

Prior to Florida’s season-opening game in 1995-96, forward Scott Mellanby killed a rat with his stick in the locker room, then went out and scored two goals with the same stick. The “Rat Trick,” as it was so coined, caught on like wildfire as the Panthers made an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final:

While the building has changed — that phenomenon occurred in the Miami Arena, the Panthers now play at BB&T — the phenomenon continues to this day. The Panthers, on their way back to the playoffs for the first time in four years, had a rat attack on Thursday night against the Devils, which resulted in Florida getting tagged with a delay of game penalty:

A reminder you can check out all the latest from this year’s Hockeyville competition at KraftHockeyville.com. The top 10 finalists will be announced on Apr. 9.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

tampa bay lightning
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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.