Monday, May 25, 2009

NA Championship Update

First off, Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

What an upset the Windsor Spitfires pulled off, from the verge of elimination to being crowned champions of major junior hockey. After losses to Kelowna and Drummondville, a win against the Rimouski Oceanic kept them alive to where it started a rally in which 3 wins in 4 days put them in the championship against the WHL Champions Kelowna Rockets. Then in the title game, a 3 goal surge in 4 minutes made the difference in a 4-1 win over as Adam Henrique, Dale Mitchell, and Rob Kwiet in the 1st period overwhelm the Jamie Benn led Rockets throughout the game as the Spitfires defense took over to win the game 4-1.

For Kelowna, a bad ending to a great season for the Rockets after Kelowna won their first 2 games. It was mostly a rusty after having 4 days off between the end of the round robin and the championship game might have had an impact and a raging Spitfires squad who was the favorite took over the tournament.

Drummondville and espically Yannick Riendeau was probally the tournaments biggest disappoinment as the Bruins Prospect only scored 2 goals in the 4 games after having leading both the QMJHL Regular Season and Playoffs in scoring (126 PTS in Reg. Season, 52 PTS in Playoffs). Everyone knew that he needed to be a big time factor for the Voltigeurs to have a chance of winning and he came up short in the Memorial Cup. Drummondville after getting to the semifinal, they lost to Windsor 3-2 in OT after comming back from trailing 2-0.

Tournament Host Rimouski wanted to prove that they could be a strong host and did that early with some close games, after losing 4-1 to Kelowna in the openier, the Oceanic pulled off the biggest upset of the event by beating the Spitfires 5-4 after comming out on top 4-3 at the 2nd intermission which had a very wild 2nd period. Just 34 seconds into the 3rd period, Logan Macmillan scored early to make it 5-3 and were able to hold on the win. After losing to Drummondville in OT, they were ousted with a 6-4 loss by Windsor in the Tie Breaker Game.

Stanley Cup

Were on the verge of a Stanley Cup Rematch between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins as the Red Wings lead the Blackhawks 3-1. The only ray of hope for the Blackhawks was winning game 3 4-3 in OT. However, CHI Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was injured in game 3 and had to put in Christobal Huet to finish the game. However in game 4, the the Blackhawks hopes quickly faded with a 6-1 DET win where starter Huet was pulled in favor of 3rd string goalie Corey Crawford after Huet gave up 3 goals early in the 2nd period to make it a 5-1 DET lead where the Red Wings basically clinched a 3-1 lead in the series. Game 4 is on May 27 and I would expect some Red Wings Celebrations in Detroit as I would expect them to clinch a Stanley Cup Final's Spot to attempt to defend their title.

For the Penguins, the last 2 games have been controled early and often. A 3 goal victory in game 2 and a 4 goal victory in game 3 have basically flushed the Hurricanes hopes out of this series. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have come back since having a lackluster playoff run, now has 28 points and leading the playoffs in scoring. Carolina goalie has fallen off the universe in this series giving up 13 goals in the last 2 games and his GAA has fallen to a very average 2.65 GAA. It dosen't sound bad, but it's not good enough in the post season when you have players like Tim Thomas and Jonas Hiller who had great runs and for Hiller, almost ousted the Red Wings in the 2nd round by taking DET to 7 games.

Game 4 of the ECF is tomorrow night while game 5 of the WCF is on Wedesnday night and by Thursday. I would expect to start getting ready for the Stanley Cup Final which I hope will be a classic. A rematch in the Stanley Cup hasn't happened since 1984 between the Edmoton Oliers and the New York Islanders. Let's get the finals going!

Calder Cup

Just like the Stanley Cup Final, the AHL Calder Cup Championship is nearing a possible championship series as the Hershey Bears and the Manitoba Moose are both one win away from the championship series.

Previously to game 3, Manitoba looked like a buzz saw with a 3-0 series lead before the Aeros won game 4 in Houston with a 5-4 win in OT with Matt Beaudoin having a huge game with 2 goals and 2 assists including the OT game winner. Goalie Anton Khudobin has been great in these playoffs and has been a huge factor for the Aeros sucess, in 17 games he has a strong 2.70 GAA and a .900 SV%, the Kazakh goalie who has had injury problems in his AHL Career is comming up huge and the Moose are now knowing that the Aeros are here to fight to the death and that a Western Conference Title won't be easy.

Manitoba's success has be helped out by players like Mike Keane, who at 42 years old, still has proven that he can be a factor in the AHL and hopes to be a serious part of an AHL Calder Cup title. Also players like Jason Krog and Mike Bliznak who have been fantasic in the playoffs. Right now the Manitoba Moose should be considered the favorites to win the Calder Cup.

Earlier today, the Hershey Bears played a Memorial Day afternoon game where the Bears have clinched the Eastern Conference Championship with a 5-2 win over the Providence Bruins with 3 straight goals Chris Bourque, Darren Reid and Quintin Laing in the 3rd period to clinch a spot in the AHL Calder Cup Final.

Here's the story from game 5:

Hershey basically controlled the Eastern Final with winning 4 in a row after Providence won the series openier. For Hershey, the Bears will need players like Alexandre Giroux who's has an impressive 20 points in 16 games this year, goaltender Michal Neuvirth has been very strong with a great 2.03 GAA and a .929 SV%. If these players can contuine to play well against the Manitoba Moose most likely, it should be a great championship series.

Game 6 of the Manitoba VS. Houston will be taking place tonight at the MTS Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba at 7:05 PM.

Phoneix Coyotes situation

The last couple of weeks have been involved where the NHL has taken control of the team and one of the owners that would be intrestred has a claus that he would move the team to Hamilton, Ontario which is just outside of Toronto. Usually, I would want to do what ever it takes to keep a team from moving. However, the Phoenix Coyotes are unfixable where they are right now. Of all the teams in the Sun Belt Region of the USA, Phoenix has been the worst.

Other cities that some people who want them to move to either put a team back in Winnipeg or Quebec City. However, I would like to see a new city be considered. It's been amazing that in the entire history, neither the Pacific Northwest or Canada's Maritime Region have been considered. This would be a perfect time to consider these regions, you would expand the league and consider new cities that have never been in the NHL.

I want these regions to be rep. because these cities are both great sports towns. Seattle has a team in the Western Hockey League while Halifax, Nova Scoatia has been in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and is one of the most est. teams in the Canadaien Maratime Region including making the league semifinals last season. Whenever the NHL considers moving or expanding, these cities need to be consdiered big time to grow a new fan base in new areas of North America.

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