Monday, December 30, 2013

A look back on Christmas wishes 2013 from Hockey Players


Whether they spent the holidays at home with family or with their hockey teams, your favorite NHLer’s took some time to wish you Happy Holidays. So, while the halls are still decked with boughs of holly, let’s take a look at some of the good, the bad and the hilarious holiday wishes:

Vancouver Canucks: Netminder Eddie Lack @Eddielack wanted to make sure he wished his friends, family and fans a Merry Christmas. He did it with this slightly frightening smile:



Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson @Erikkarlsson65 might have been drinking too much Christmas spirits with the guys. First he tweets a warm and fuzzy photo in some Christmas onsies followed by a creepy photo of himself posing with what I hope is a present. Merry Christmas?



Phoenix Coyotes: Paul Bissonette @BizNasty2point0 who is known for his "creativity/humor" on twitter sent out a tweet about his Christmas present. This guy is a handful, what a comedian!



New York Rangers: Ryan McDonagh @RMcDonagh27 took to twitter with a photo of some old time boot hockey and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.


The Boston Bruins made a video for Christmas, proving that Hockey players doing anything besides hockey is funny.



Anaheim Ducks: Dustin Penner @Dustinpenner25, named the number one player to follow on twitter by Bleacher Report, wished his fans Merry Christmas a few times. First by making the Ducks #1 in the league and then with a picture of a frosty the snowman sand sculpture.

 


Buffalo Sabres: Luke Adams @LukeJAdams wished fans a Merry Christmas from Switzerland.



Chicago Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw @Shaw15er, celebrated Christmas numerous times. He built a gingerbread house and he brought out a hump day joke for Christmas which fell on a Wednesday this year. Creative Shaw, we tip our hats!


                                                 


Columbus Blue Jackets: Cam Atkinson @CamAtkinson13 enjoyed sometime in his home sweet home posting a picture to Instagram from the air.



Minnesota Wild: Zenon Konopka @zenonKonopka a real comedian on social media is always posting pictures of his bunny rabbit Hop. So out of the numnerous Christmas photo’s that he posted over the holiday I bring you “Look at this little gift under the Xmas tree #hoppylife #waitingforsanta”



Montreal Canadiens: We’ve seen hockey players singing and that is pretty funny. We’ve seen hockey players looking fairly frightening over the holidays but one thing that is forever adorable is hockey players with babies or in this case little kids in their dads’ team jersey and number. From George Parros @GeorgeParros, we bring you: “I know u got tree envy @maydayhockey #12footer”



Toronto Maple Leafs: John-Michael Liles @hoosierjm26 showed us some traditional family hockey. Nothing brings family together like pond hockey, especially when you have an NHLer in the family, I wonder how they split the teams up?


Washington Capitals: Brooks Laich @brookslaich is a very proud uncle to a niece and nephews, he is always telling us that through twitter. So, it only makes sense that his Christmas photo involves his niece and nephews who gave him, his favorite Christmas gift this year:


While some NHLers posted photos and tweets, some just enjoyed the much needed time off with their friends and families. If your favorite NHLer didn't make the list click HERE to check out more NHL players tweets.

For more from The Amateur Fan follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan or "like" on facebook

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Three Favorite Things this week

Where is the puck? Is it in the net? In a bizarre play during the overtime game between the Coyotes and Sabres the puck landed perfectly on the back of the Coyote goaltender’s pants right before he slide deep into the net. As he crossed the goal line he scored for the Sabers. The puck was perched perfectly on back of his pants and it was deemed a good goal, sparking celebration for the winning Sabres.



There are 6 outdoor games scheduled for this year and one in a quite unconventional hockey venue: Dodger Stadium in California on January 25 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings. With historical temperatures averaging at a high of 68 and low of 48 degrees the fans will not have to bundle up that much, but some are wondering how successful this game will be. Let’s go into the archives circa 1991, Las Vegas hosted an exhibition game outdoors at Caesars Palace between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings in September where temps were in the 80s during the game.



And, brought to you by Lunis Klasen from Sweden. A goal that could be deemed the best shootout goal ever.



For more from The Amateur Fan following Erica on Twitter @TheAmateurFan or "Like" on Facebook

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Washington Capitals give the Phildelphia Flyers the go ahead during a 5-minute power play


The revolving door between the Washington Capitals and their AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears is still spinning as they called up winger Casey Wellman for last night’s game.  The Capitals faced the Philadelphia Flyers again after just rallying a 3rd period come back to beat them in their contest on Sunday. Although Wellman jumped right into the action with contributions early in the game, not even the “Great 8” Alex Ovechkin could rally the Capitals for a victory as the Flyers trumped the Caps for the first time this season.

Frequently, the Capitals have been reaching down into the American Hockey League to add more depth to their roster, filling in the blanks from illness or injury. Taking the 130 mile drive from the sweetest place on earth to the nation’s capital recently has been: Michael Latta, Philipp Grubauer, Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey and Dmitry Orlov. Along with a list of other players, no strangers to the Hershey to Washington and visa-versa trip, relying on the American Hockey League teams for depth has become a part of the game.

“It was a pretty even game. Both teams had their moments,” said Head Coach Adam Oates.

Ovechkin said that the Capitals played a normal game last night.  With a game changer coming in the 2nd period, the hard hit on Brayden Schenn by Tom Wilson, put the Capitals in the red as the Flyers netted 2 power play goals. The Flyers, not uncommon to a 3-point lead on the Capitals as they claimed a 3 goal lead for the 2nd time in 3 days, managed to hold on last night.

The big win by the Flyers wasn’t enough to put the controversial hit on Schenn to rest. This hit, seen by the Capitals as a clean hit not even deserving of a penalty has drawn quite the controversy. Of course, the Flyers have a different opinion on what they call the reckless and endangering hit a 2-3 feet away from the boards on one of their top players. These are the types of hits that the league is trying to eliminate from the game, with good reason as there has been a lot of them this season. B. Schenn left the game last night with a mysterious upper body injury.



The young Wilson, 19 years old, has no record with the NHL but could be the next player to receive a suspension.  Dangerous hits are getting out of hand in the NHL and that is reflective in the suspensions being handed out by player safety, recently with Shawn Thornton appealing his 15 game suspension.  This being Wilson’s first offense, hopefully he will not receive anything outrageous if anything. Wilson, not seeming to have any ill intentions yesterday, announced his arrival in Philadelphia with this tweet:

 

The Capitals and the Flyers certainly have budded quite the rivalry. With the November 1st line brawl including a goaltender fight and back-to-back home-and-home games with a controversial hit on a top Flyers player, things are definitely heating up. The Capitals and Flyers will take a break from seeing each other but will square off again in back-to-back games March 2nd and 5th. Although Brendan Shanahan will have the final official say about the Wilson hit, the Flyers might have more to add to that when they see the Capitals in March.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers to the net during shootout


After last night’s rapid turn of events, the Philadelphia Flyers now have 2 dramatic losses to the Washington Capitals. The first loss being back on November 1st, when the frustration of a 0-7 game sparked a line brawl and a beating from Goaltender Ray Emery to Caps Goaltender Braden Holtby that he will never forget.  Now the teams are set to face off again on Tuesday, this time on Philadelphia home ice, but will there be a different outcome?

Yesterday the two teams took the ice, and were looking a little different than they did back on November 1st.  Both teams had different goaltenders in net.  Steve “magic mitts” Mason, who has been exceptional, was in between the pipes for the Flyers.  And, fresh out of the American Hockey League the rookie Philipp Grubauer, who’s sprawling saves have been wooing Caps fans everywhere, was posted up in goal. Although the goaltender fight from last month’s game might have been in the back of their minds, I don’t think that there was much fear of Mason skating the length of the ice to fight the rookie Grubauer.

With the constant changes happening in the Capitals organization there was a surprise appearance from Michael Latta last night. This isn’t his first appearance in Washington, the young centerman has been back and forth between Hershey and Washington several times this season. Less than 24 hours before the Capitals faced the Flyers, Latta was in Hershey suiting up against the Binghamton Senators.  Latta had a knock out fight during that game in Hershey than packed up and headed to Washington, where troublemaker Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves and went a round with the young scrapper.





Two guys that helped keep the Capitals on top last night were Grubauer and lethal number 8, Alex Ovechkin. Grubauer once again dazzled and impressed in goal for the Capitals as he was calm and composed in the net, appearing to be more of a veteran than a rookie.  But, that could be because he has already guarded the Capitals goal through 3 shootouts in his short tenure with the Capitals this season. Late, in the third period the Capitals took Grubauer out to add an extra player, that extra player was Ovechkin who is always a dangerous force on the ice.  With less than a minute left in the game Ovechkin sprung off the bench, netting the equalizer and taking this game into overtime. Ovechkin, who is always dangerous when out on the ice broke through his scoring drought last night and lead the Capitals to victory during the shootout.

The Philadelphia Flyers put in a partial effort last night, as they controlled 2 ½ periods of the contest. Claude Giroux came through with a goal, only his 7th of the season and their rookie, who has been hot on the ice for the Flyers, Michael Raffl was on hand to make plays and score goals. Raffl has been a great addition to the top line, a play maker great at helping out linemates Giroux and Voracek where it counts. He is showing great offensive skills, his progress and growth is promising.

The Flyers earned a much needed extra point for their record during overtime last night.  But, the Washington Capitals aren’t done with them just yet. In less than 36 hours they will be facing the Washington Capitals again. Things that they need to learn from yesterday are: Ovechkin is a lethal weapon, even with only 60 seconds to play.  Try to stay out of the penalty box because the Washington power play is lethal. The Flyers will have to skate hard, play a 60-minute hockey game, because not even a 3 point lead will keep them safe from the force of the Washington Capitals.
 
Follow Erica on Twitter @TheAmateurfan or "Like" on facebook

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Neither snow nor freezing rain kept the fans from watching the Hershey Bears sweet victory last night


It’s always special when your AHL goaltender gets their chance in the NHL and that’s how it has been for Hershey Bears fans watching Phillip Grubauer’s sprawling saves between the pipes for their NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals. But, it doesn’t just end there for the sweetest place on earth, who was treated to receiving their ’09 & ’10 Calder Cup Champion Goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, Friday on a conditioning loan from the Capitals.

“I thought [Neuvirth] got better as the game went on, I really did.  I thought he made some really big saves in the 3rd,” said Head Coach Mike Haviland. “He needs to play, he needs to play games. He even said to me right after, 'I got better as the game went on,' and I said 'you did'.”

The fans don’t mind having Neuvirth in town for a while either. With all of the movement throughout the Capitals organization this season, the fans are visually seeing the affiliations between the teams, as a player is on Hershey ice one night and on their TV screen the next.  That might be due to Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates’ team-first attitude, and the fans can definitely get behind that.

For some, seeing Grubauer between the pipes for the Capitals is like seeing into the future of the organization. An organization with great goaltending from top to bottom, which will develop great goaltending for seasons to come.  The fans are getting in on the goaltender love as well, Dave Null said: "To have three goalies in the system that can step between the pipes on any given night will boost the confidence of the Caps and Bears players."

Last night, through the blizzard a few thousand faithful Bears fans trekked to the Giant Center to watch their Hershey Bears suit up against the Binghamton Senators for the 5th time in 3 weeks. It was the faithful that trekked through the snow but this encouraging tweet from the Broadcaster/Dir. Of Media Relations of the Hershey Bears could have helped put the spring in their steps:

 
It was the kind of over the hills and through the woods drive on white snowy roads to a hockey game that set the night up to be a memorable one. The kind that had fans commiserating about their drive to the Giant Center with jokes like: “The car hydroplaned three times. I had a whistle with me though and every time the car slid, I blew it and yelled icing.” The fans were in good spirits and the few thousand that attended could still make that arena roar.

“It shows the loyalty and it shows the passion that our fans have and they are the best fans in the American Hockey League. They showed it tonight. It’s a great feeling to come out there even on a winter storm and you get thousands of people that come,” said Haviland. “It’s a great feeling to have fans like we do.”

The game could have gone either way last night.  Half-way through the Sens and the Bears were tied up but due to the offensive contributions from the Bears, they were able to spring ahead and run away with the 3rd period. And, although the icy conditions continued to worsen outside, announcements were made to fans but the faithful Bears fans stayed till the end to cheer on their team to this sweet victory.  


Follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan and "Like" on Facebook 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A big W for the Philadelphia Flyers at home


The loved and adored Danny Briere returned to Philadelphia, a place that he calls home, for the first time last night after the Flyers had bought out the remaining 2 years on the veteran’s contract last summer. The Flyers, who had the most expensive payroll in the NHL last season and missed playoffs, were looking to shred in order to get under the salary cap. Numerous Briere Flyers jerseys were being worn around the arena last night as a tribute video was shown, honoring Briere’s 6 seasons in Philadelphia. The fans gave Briere a standing ovation, displaying the love to Briere, who gave a wave but all the love in the world did not mean the Flyers would let Danny’s new team win.

“We were trying to come out hard and play in their end,” said Michael Raffl who put the Flyers on top early in the game.

And that they did, as they nearly shutout the Montreal Canadiens last night during their return to home ice. The Canadiens couldn’t score on the Flyers at even strength and they couldn’t score on the Flyers during their power plays. It took pulling their goaltender and playing 6 on 5 during the last minute of the 3rd period for the Canadiens to racket one to the back of the net, cutting the Flyers lead in half.

“We are pretty excited to play at home again. To play in front of our fans is always a little boost,” said team captain Claude Giroux who scored last night for his 6th goal of the season. “We learned the hard way in Chicago, I don’t know how many power plays they had, to stay outta the box.  Momentum stays on our side and when we did have a penalty kill we did a good job.”

The Flyers have been good during the 1st period and last night was no exception although they usually let off the gas after that. But last night, the Flyers played a complete game, pedal to the metal, with great goaltending. Only thanks to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was the score kept low, as he came through with the big saves to keep his team in the contest. The Flyers had plenty of opportunities to run up the score board but they could not convert their power plays, after the Emelin/Downie incident that gave the Flyers 5 minutes of advantage that was left unanswered.

“I think there’s a lot of character in the room. They certainly weren’t happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team and it didn’t work out,” said Head Coach Craig Berube.

It took the Canadiens 59 minutes to find the back of the net and then they had mere seconds to find their equalizer. That equalizer never came for the Canadiens but this game could have been too close for comfort if an earlier goal for the Canadiens was not waived off. After 2 big loses on the road, this was a big win for the Flyers, over a team that has been steam rolling on the road.

“Good win tonight. They showed up and played a good team game,” were the final words of a satisfied coach.

This was the 6th consecutive win for the Philadelphia Flyers on home ice…but wait a minute Steve Mason sparked a brawl after the game as he shoved an opposing player out of his crease.  Is Ray Emery rubbing off on him? Finally the initiation Mason needed to become a true Flyer, as he sported a small gash and stream of blood under his right eye during his post-game interview. That a boy Mas!

With high hopes that the winning habit is catching on in Philadelphia, hopefully these boys can take the habit on the road with them as they head to Washington – their fathers in tow.  Fathers who seemed to have been a good luck charm last night because no one wants to disappoint their father.
 
Follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan and "Like" on Facebook 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The game that got away: The Philadelphia Flyers fall to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-7


The game that got away, the Philadelphia Flyers have been having a few of those lately.  First the runaway Dallas Stars game (1-5) on Saturday and last night Chicago Blackhawks (2-7). The Blackhawks dominated this game from the second period on, with 7 different goal scorers from the Blackhawks, the Flyers could not capitalize on any of their chances after the first period.

The one thing Craig Berube definitely understands is what games are important to players on an individual level. First Vinny Lecavalier in Tampa and now Goaltender Ray Emery, as he got the start last night, facing the Blackhawks for the first time since he helped win the Stanley Cup last season. Although, after giving up his 6th goal at the start of the 3rd period, Steve Mason replaced Emery in net to finish the night. Not the brightest moment for Emery as he took a seat on the bench, and although he didn’t have a chance at preventing some of the goals, he couldn’t have felt good about being benched.

Earning the first power play, scoring first and winning the first period did not help the Flyers, instead seemingly energized the Blackhawks as they came back, boosting their lead to 5-2 during the 2nd period. This is the second time this season that the Flyers have given up 5 goals in one period.

“Stay calm and stay with it,” head coach Craig Berube encouraged the Flyers to maintain composure during a 2nd period timeout.

A composure that slowly slipped away as the Blackhawks increased their lead to 7-2 and the Flyers increased their penalty minutes. The Flyers had solid opportunities during the 3rd period. There were breakaways that could have turned into goals giving the Flyers a hope at a comeback, but that didn’t happen.  The Blackhawks achieved the upper hand by capitalizing on their speed and took control of this game.

A 4-day game break lapsed between falling to the Dallas Stars and then again to the Chicago Blackhawks.  A break that did not help the Flyers, as the opposing teams both took advantage of the leeway the Flyers left for them.  This time not even a 24 hour rest awaits the Flyers as they will suit up and face the Montral Canadiens tonight at 7pm.  Danny Briere will be back in town for the first time since his departure, how will the Philadelphia fan reach? I am thinking the boo-birds will be out to greet him.

Follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan

Hershey Bears rally a 3rd period comeback and beat the Binghamton Senators in a shootout


Despite a long list of injured/sick players, the alibied bodies of the Hershey Bears took to the ice last night in Binghamton against the Senators. It’s been a roller coaster season thus far for the Bears that are 9-8-2-3, and as they faced a team 5th in the league for shots per game, they knew the pressure the Sens could bring.  This would be the 5th time the Bears faced them this season, going 2 for 2 against the Sens with 3 more games on the schedule for later this season.

So far the Bears and the Sens have split their record each with two loses and two wins against each other, it can only be imagined how head coach Mike Haviland prepped the team for the contest last night. He probably used the common Havilandisms that we are accustomed to hearing time and time again as takes his well-mannered, positive and optimistic approach to the hockey game. With a coach like Haviland, evening being down going into the 3rd period he probably still has that twinkle in his eye as he is telling the Bears to bear down and apply more offensive pressure.

Whatever Haviland said paid off in the first period as the Bears were electric, bring the heat and pressure against a very good Binghamton Senators team. The Bears got it going early with a goal by Patrick Wellar, finding the back the net for the first time this season and boosting the Bears to a first period win.

The Senators orchestrated a 2nd period come back as they scored twice to take the lead.  As the pressure from the Bears had declined leaving room for the comeback the Sens took full advantage. Things looked bleak for the Bears heading into the 3rd period as the Sens soon advanced their lead to 3-1, the Bears would need to apply offensive pressure and take more shots on goal quickly in order to turn this game around. The Bears rallied to take a 360 and were able win an important faceoff and netting goal number 2, the go ahead goal that re-energized this team.  Latta and Wellman rushed the net, tying this hockey game, as the Bears made an astonishing comeback.  

David Leggio was between the pipes last night, blocking 37 shots in regulation, defending the den during over time and finally shutting the Senators out during the shootout to win the game. He definitely earned his star of the game, as he was a key element to the Bears ability to come back late in the game last night.

Hershey started of this road trip with a win in Binghamton and there must be some luck in that arena as the Bears rocked a 3rd period comeback against the team last night to boost them to 11th place in the conference. The Bears will wrap up their road trip not far from home, in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as they hope to pick up another 2 points against the baby Pens. Then it’s time for the Bears to head home and relish a home town crowd as they to face the Binghamton Senators again.  

Follow Erica on Twitter @TheAmateurFan

Sunday, December 8, 2013

High Heels on Ice: The Tale of a Female Hockey Writer


Guest Blogger: Annie Erling Gofus

If this was Cosmo or Glamour, I’d start my profile of Erica Koup by describing what she wore to our interview. I’d write about her glamorous retro-style sunglasses and how effortlessly beautiful her long, curled locks were. I’d gush about how sweet and down-to-earth she was as we chatted candidly over salads at a Hummelstown gastropub. And, of course, I’d really focus on the salads, because what woman isn’t just wild about salads?

But this isn’t Cosmo. In fact, this might be the exact opposite of trashy websites that cover celebrity break-ups and bikini bod diet tips. This is a hockey blog, and Erica Koup is its stylishly sweet and whip-smart writer.

On any given weekend night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, you can spot a lone woman in the Bears’ pressbox. Where the NHL scouts end and the bloggers begin sits the founder and author of The Amateur Fan—a blog that focuses on some of Pennsylvania’s finest professional hockey teams. Eyes intently on the ice, scribbling notes and taking breaks only to inform the scout to her left exactly what’s wrong with the Philadelphia Flyers this season, anyone would be shocked to learn this isn’t Erica’s day job.

“I wanted to run for office and be a politician,” the former political science student admits. “I learned about hockey from my full-time job. I worked Hershey Bears games (as a college recruiter). The first game I went to I was like, I can’t believe you’re making me go to this… I had no idea what was going on.”

What began as an annoying job assignment morphed into The Amateur Fan, where Erica has been posting game analysis and opinions for over nine months now. And while falling in love with hockey was easy, finding her place in hockey media wasn’t as simple. As a hockey rookie and a female sports writer, it can be a struggle to gain credibility.

“I think you have to have a lot of guts (to break into the hockey writing field). You need to put yourself out there. And It’s so hard to. Especially as a female,” Erica said. “Because the guys are always thinking they know more than us, because why not? It must come with their genetics that they know more about hockey than females.”

Unfortunately, Erica’s struggle for respect isn’t unique.

Just 50 miles from Hershey, PA is Santander Arena, home to the ECHL’s Reading Royals. Among the standard male media members is Candice Monhollan who is entering her third season covering Royals hockey for various news outlets. With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Candice is a professional sports writer who still faces dubious stares.

“It's a constant battle being a woman in this field. Just when you think you've proved yourself, someone else comes out of the woodwork to attack your credibility,” Candice admitted. “The downside, to be honest, is being a female in such a male-dominated career. In certain leagues, I can't go into the locker room and even some places (have) to change protocol because I'm around and that shouldn't be the case.”

Any hockey player will tell you that thick skin is vital in succeeding in this sport. Sometimes you need to let a clean hit roll off your shoulders while on the ice, you need to keep your head up and focus on the game. This is advice a female hockey writer can also learn from.

“The first few times (I published an article), I asked my buddy, can you read this and make sure it makes sense,” Erica recalled. “I’m just nervous to put it out there and be judged by people who maybe know a little more about hockey than me.”

“No one’s ever said you don’t understand hockey, just the English language,” Erica laughed. After posting an article on Reddit, “someone said I used the word ironic wrong.” Thick skin is useful when dealing with critics, but love of the game is far more effective.

To be honest, I invited Erica Koup to lunch in the hopes of delving deep into the painful struggles of a female hockey writer. Instead, I discovered over the course of our three-hour-long meal that Erica has happily embraced the challenges of being a woman in this field, and her hockey obsession may have something to do with it.

“I don’t know anyone else who sparks up a conversation about hockey at the eye doctors,” Erica said with a smile.

Up to three times a week, Erica settles into her assigned seat in the Hershey Bears’ pressbox and takes in her surroundings—the Giant Center’s lively crowd, the banter of fellow writers and the swish of skates on ice. When I asked what her favorite part of the job is, Erica simply replied, “I really like watching the games.” Love of hockey makes sitting in cold arenas for hours so easy, and it makes a career in the sport so desirable.

“I really want to work in the front office somewhere. Maybe community relations for a hockey team,” Erica explained. “If I can still write, I would love to continue writing. I sort of fell into writing. I never saw myself in the media or press category.”

Despite facing occasional negativity, Candice also finds that the pros out-weigh the cons as a female sports writer. “I love being able to get paid to watch sports. It's one of those jobs where you wake up in the morning and don't regret having to go to work. I love having the ability to travel and meet so many people and I enjoy above all else getting to write and share with others the unique story of an athlete.”

With The Amateur Fan’s first birthday just around the corner, Erica has plans for her second year of hockey writing—expansion, promotion and maybe a trip up North to hockey’s motherland…?

“Yea, I really do think that Canadians are perfect. I love it,” Erica joked as she described a recent trip to Toronto. “I thought I was going to cross the border and it was going to be like Celine Dion and hockey players everywhere.”

Erica Koup: Fashionista, hockey writer, Canada’s number one. Obviously.

Five Girlie Questions for a Girl About Hockey:

1. Do you love or hate hockey players’ mustaches during the month of Movember?
“I love them. I admire them from the pressbox. I really want to know who has the best mustache on the Bears team. Jeff Taffe can’t grow hair on his head, but he’s pretty solid in the mustache category. I like the handlebars, I think it’s a flashback to the 70s.

2. What’s your favorite hockey jersey?
“I really like the Reading Royals’ jerseys. I like purple and the lion with the crown. The throwback jersey the Hershey Bears wore—that was a really cool jersey. And I like the Avs’ jersey, I think they have nice colors.”

3. Who is your hockey player crush?
“The reason I became a Flyers fan was not because I knew anything about the Flyers, but because of Zac Rinaldo. Gabriel Landeskog comes in a close second.”

4. Would you rather your boyfriend have Brent Burns no-teeth smile or Steve Downie’s scary red post-Washington Capitals line brawl eyeball?
“Steve Downie. I didn’t see the red eyeball, but I’ve seen the developing black eye. It’s tough.”

5. What are your secrets to staying warm and looking cute at hockey games?
“Pants, nice sweater and heels. I stay pretty warm, but throughout the game it always gets colder.”

6. Puck Bunnies, thoughts?
“I don’t think I’ve run into any puck bunnies. It has to be real, because I hear it’s real, but I don’t have any thoughts on that… If you look cute going to the game, does that qualify you as a puck bunny?”

Annie Erling Gofus also writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at annie.erling@gmail.com.




Thursday, December 5, 2013

A rare turnaround and win for the Philadelphia Flyers in Detroit

A 3rd period come back like we have yet to see from the Philadelphia Flyers this season, as they flipped the tables from trailing the Detroit Red Wings by 2-points to taking a 3-point lead. The comeback kids were on the ice last night during the 3rd period, as they recovered and recorded a rare win in Detroit.

“They just keep plugging along and doing the right things,” said head coach Craig Breube. “They keep back-checking and that puts them in the right position for offense.”

The Red Wings were down both of their star centers, Pavel Datsyuk and captain Henrik Zetterberg and were taking advantage of their 5-on-3 power play opportunities that the Flyers were frequently and freely giving. It did not take long for the Wings to control the pace of the game, putting the Flyers on their heels for much for the 1st and 2nd period.

"We just had to stop taking penalties, be disciplined within our systems and believe in ourselves" said Sean Couturier.

During the 1st and 2nd period the Flyers were taking too many penalties and spending too much time in the penalty box, they needed discipline and that is what they brought to the 3rd period. The Flyers had a complete turnaround in the third period and took control of their power plays.

“Stay out of the penalty box,” was the message Berube sent during the second intermission.

Time to give a little credit to head coach Craig Berube, as he has taken this team from last in the league with the worst season start since only Coatesy knows when, to tie for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division. The comeback last night was a full team effort as five different Flyers scored to boost the team to a 6-3 victory.

The Flyers have not exited the roller coaster just yet, they will need to start stringing together many more wins if they intend to make the playoffs. A team who can obviously play and is deep with talent, winning even without goal scorer Vincent Lecavalier, needs to pull it together. The Flyers often get away from their systems and take their foot off the gas leaving room for their opponent to take control of the game. The Flyers have two days off, hopefully they will rest up and prepare to play 60-minutes of hockey against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

Follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hershey Bears miss the mark but get 3 out of 4 points this weekend

Netting the first goal of the game and of his season, Matt Watkins opened the flood gates and the teddy bears rained onto the ice last night during the Hershey Bears game against the Providence Bruins. It was an eventful afternoon yesterday, not only did the team collect a record 12,890 teddy bears for local charities, they also honored a few of their own alumni during the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 inductions.

“It kind of gives you some chills, for me at least,” Head Coach Mike Haviland reflected on listening to the inductees.

Coming off of a win Saturday night, the Bears were looking to start a winning streak during this home stand. David Leggio was between the pipes making great saves to keep the score low as the game was back and forth between the Bears and the Bruins.

“I think it started and ended okay,” said Haviland, “but I didn’t like the middle frame at all.”

The Bruins found the equalizer with one minute of play remaining in the 2nd period and then put the Bears on their heel in the 3rd period, as they found the back on the net again. The Bears worked hard to battle back, fighting for a chance to win this game in front of a packed house on an already eventful night.

“Three out of four points this weekend after really having a long chat, after St. John’s [loss], about how we needed to play. I thought we played really good for these two games,” said Haviland. “Three out of four points, I told them ‘it’s a positive thing and we need to keep building off of this now.’”

The Bears kept the game alive through the end of regulation time, tying the score and sending the teams into a hard fought overtime battle. The game ended in a skills competition, where the Bruins out skilled the Bears, scoring 3 to their 1 goal winning the game 3-2.

Hitting the road for the next week and a half, the Bears are looking to string together wins. More then capable of winning all four of their road games before returning home, the Bears will need to be aggressive on the fore-check, stop turning over the puck on the blue line and continue to help clear pucks at the net. The Bears win most often when they play a full 60-minute game, chipping away at their opponent shift by shift and winning each period. The Bears will return home Saturday, December 14th to face the Binghamton Senators.

For more follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hershey Bears send the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins packing

Its consistent wins that Head coach Mike Haviland is looking for from this Hershey Bears team, a group that has only been able to put together a 2 game winning streak so far this season. The Bears took no prisoners last night, as they won in overtime sending the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins packing for the first time this season.

“We've got to go back to work tomorrow,” Head coach Mike Haviland said. “We've got to start stringing some wins together here. You can be happy a little bit and enjoy it, but your mindset's got to move on for tomorrow.”

The team meeting and intense practice on Friday was reflected in the Bears style of play last night. Joel Rechlicz got the Bears emotionally invested as he dropped the gloves less than two minutes into the game with heavy weight Pierre- Luc Letorneau- Leblond. It was the first of many scraps between the teams.

“It’s a process, it’s a consistency thing. I think we got our point across the other day, we really did,” Haviland said of the Friday team meeting following the Thanksgiving eve loss to the St. John’s IceCaps. “We talked about our identity as a team, how to be and how we have to play. It’s everybody across the board, it was everybody and I thought the guys brought it tonight.”

The Bears played another complete 60-minute game on home ice, they have played some great games at home and Haviland is now looking for them to string those successes together. With all of their penalties, the Bears did not have much of a choice but to make this game a full team effort. Although they have a habit of losing leads and letting teams come back to compete late in the game, the Bears managed to clinch the win in overtime.

“Monday’s a day off, not tomorrow,” Haviland seemingly already preparing his motivational speech for guys in order to get them in the mind frame for a battle on the ice Sunday afternoon.

The Bears laid the foundation last night and will look to build off of that as they face the Providence Bruins tonight at the Giant Center.

Follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bryzgalov shuts out the Predators and his haters last night

Could Ilya Bryzgalov be making the Philadelphia Flyers and the Olympic Russian team regret passing him by to play for their teams? Bryzgalov, who made his starting debut between the pipes for the Edmonton Oilers last night shutting out the Nashville Predators, making his comeback after being a free agent up until earlier this month.

Over the past 5 months Bryzgalov’s professional hockey career has had an uncertain future. The 2013-14 NHL season started as Bryz was still a free agent, after being bought out of his nine- year, $51 million contract after only 2 years between the pipes for the Flyers. A few weeks into the NHL season Bryz got a try-out invitation for the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers and he took that opportunity saying:

“ ..this is critical for me to be ready for NHL play, and I can’t wait to get on the ice. Everyone’s motivation here is largely driven by an unparalleled passion for the game, and this will offer me a very interesting perspective and be a great opportunity for me to reflect why I started playing this great game in the first place…”

After silently fading into the backdrop, it was not certain when or where Bryzgalov would resurface again. Then, not too long into the Philadelphia’s slow start to their season Bryzgalov resurfaced and on the eve of the Flyers v. Oilers match up. The Edmonton Oilers signed Bryz and although he did not immediately return to the show, he suited up with their AHL affiliate the Oklahoma City Baron’s and is now back in the NHL.

“This is a unique opportunity for me to be an example to my own children, to the young fans who have supported me, to my new teammates, and eventually to the NHL teammates who will come to rely on me again,” Bryzgalov said earlier this season after accepting the Las Vegas Wranglers try-out invitation.

Bryzgalov seems to have taken his career set back in stride and has appeared back in the show earlier than expected. If it was a positive example and legacy he was looking to leave through this experience, he did a good job as he now appears a more humble and approachable Ilya Bryzgalov.

“It’s great to have a shutout…It seems like I never get away,” Bryz expressed after missing a few months of the season, he felt as if he was never gone from the game as he appeared comfortable in goal for the Oilers last night.

Bryz has played 90 minutes of NHL hockey this season and the rest of his story is yet to be written. Bryz shuts out the Predators and his haters last night! Welcome back Bryz!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A bittersweet return for Lecavalier ends in defeat

As a returning home town hero, Vincent Lecavalier now with a new logo on his chest, was welcomed back by the Tampa Bay Lightning for his first appearance since he was bought out of his contract and signed by the Philadelphia Flyers following the 2012-13 season. The inevitable meeting of the two clubs happened on Thanksgiving eve, a bittersweet moment for Lecavalier as he returned to a placed he had called home for 14 seasons full of hockey and memories.

“It’s unreal, I don’t even know what to say, it’s just a great honor. Everybody knows how I feel about Tampa, it’s just a great community a lot of good people here. So it’s definitely a great honor and for sure I have to thank the Lightning for that.” Lecavalier humbly spoke of his tribute and award that night.

Any club would be honored to have a hockey player like Vincent Lecavalier, who’s long list of accomplishments on the ice include: being chosen 1st in the 1998 entry draft, lifting the Stanley Cup in 2004 and celebrating his 50th goal during the 2006-07 season where he later won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s lead goal scorer. But, his accomplishments extended far past the ice, and last night after a 60-second video tribute thanking Lecavalier for the memories, Lecavalier was presented with the Community Hero award for his work with All Children’s Hospital and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood disorder Center at ACH. A leader on the ice and a humanitarian, Vincent Lecavalier is as classy as they come.

Amidst all the pompous circumstance, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lighting faced off for a hockey game. Through the first period the Flyers were no match for the back pressure and quick lightning speed that they faced. Craig Berube, knowing the importance of this game to Lecavalier played his line (Lecavalier, B. Schenn, Simmonds), a line that had combined for numerous goals recently. While the light shone brightly on Lecavalier, Downie also returned to the Tampa Bay Lightning arena for the first time since playing parts of the past 4 seasons as a member of the blue and white.

The Lightning finally broke through on the board at the half way mark of the second period and put up two goals. As they outshot the Flyers by double each period, the Lightning proved to be a difficult team to gain on and with the Flyers less than stellar 3rd period record the task appeared daunting but they had 20 minutes to turn the game around.

The Lightning were piling on the goals, adding another one during the 3rd period. With heavy hearts the Flyers heads dropped a little, they were down 3 goals and were all pushing to win for Lecavalier. Lecavalier gave 100% effort win or lose, last night he played an excellent hockey game and drove the rest of the team to rise to the occasion, especially after he finally broke through for the Flyers. The go ahead goal was on the board and 40 seconds later a glimmer of hope for the Flyers broke through as they clinched their second goal, cutting the Lightning lead making it a one goal hockey game. As soon as the hope and ambition was back in their hearts and minds a bad turn-over at the blue line by none other than Lecavalier gave way to an empty net goal and just like that the Lightning were up by two again with less than a minute to play.

“It was very weird stepping out on the ice, but obviously we didn’t win and I’m disappointed in that,” said former Lightning captain now Philadelphia Flyer Vincent Lecavalier. “But just skating on the ice and seeing the fans be supportive, that means a lot. I have nothing but great things to say about the fans and this organization.”

It was momentous for Lecavalier to score during this game but his turn over on the blue line was unfortunate, also unavoidable as the puck had an uncontrollable bounce. At times the Flyers played well but for the most part the Lightning out played them. Last night they needed more shots on goal, to step up their offense and fore-checking. They had an unusual lack of physicality last night that did not add to their game and they need to adapt to the game of hockey which is becoming less about big size and more about quickness.

The Flyers, who had a slow start to their season and then quickly became the hottest team in the league seemingly forgetting how to lose are back on a losing streak and having a roller coaster season. Hopefully they will leave their losing streak in Florida as they head back north and look to claim some revenge against the Winnipeg Jets, as they face them for the second time this season.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hershey Bears go 1 for 2 against the Binghamton Senators this weekend

Rough night in Hershey for the Bears last night, as they dropped their game against the Binghamton Senators, who came back for more after losing to the Bears (5-2) on Saturday. For whatever reason, the Bears were off their game last night as they took the ice: over skating the puck and missing passes throughout the neutral and offensive zones which lead to turnovers that gave the Senators generous scoring opportunities.

“We have to bear down,” said head coach Mike Haviland. “We thought the game was going to be a little cuter than it was last night and we turned pucks over, we didn’t get pucks behind them. Everything that was successful last night we got away from tonight.”

Missed passes in the neutral and offensive zone were at a premium last night for the Bears. Patrick Wey finally connected the dots for Hershey and banked one into the net during the 2nd period, claiming the equalizer turning this into anyone’s hockey game.

“When you turn pucks over against this team, they transition so well, you fuel their game,” Haviland candidly spoke during his post-game interview. “When you put pucks in the middle of the ice and they transition, once they get a chance to go, they are going.”

A goaltending mistake early in the 3rd period and another goal allowed by Philipp Grubauer later in the period, lead to a palm-to-face moment of disbelief, as this game quickly slipped away from the Bears. Shortly after taking the 3-1 lead the Senators put the nail in the coffin with an empty net goal with less than a minute of play remaining in the game.

“It was still only 1-1 going into the 3rd,” Haviland said. “If you’re getting a chance in the slot, you have to make it count, especially in a 1-1 game, or 2-1 hockey game.”

The Bears are a talented group of players who have demonstrated greatness, especially Saturday, registering 3 goals from 3 different lines in less than 2 minutes, but their roller coaster season does not support that claim. Their record at home has now slipped to 3-3-1-2 and 3-3-1-0 on the road.

“It’s unacceptable our record at home. We have to get good at home. We have to get points at home.” Coach Haviland said. “You can’t just come to the game and, I call it ‘throwing your sticks in the middle and expect that you’re going to win.’ You have to be detailed and structured and stick with the game plan. I think we veered off the game plan and then we came back at times but not like we should. It is a learning experience for sure but we’ve gotta stop making that as an excuse.”

Sixteen games into the season and the Bears are still riding a roller coaster and lacking consistency. The Bears started this weekend with their best game of the season and immediately contradicted that with the most disjointed performance yet. It is evident that the Bears are stocked with talent but the chemistry did not translate onto the ice last night against the Binghamton Senators. Haviland is looking for the team to produce and isn’t afraid to jostle up the line up to get results.

Follow Erica on twitter @TheAmateurFan

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hershey Bears shut down the Binghamton Senators' with a 5-2 victory

The Hershey Bears got some sweet revenge last night against Binghamton Senators, as they ended the Senators 7 game winning streak. Earlier in November the Bears hosted the Senators’ for their first of ten meetings this season. The Bears were shutout and John Mitchell received a vicious slashing by Binghamton defenseman Chris Wideman.

Last night the Senators came back to town, confidently on a seven game winning streak to reface the Bears during a 2 game home-stand weekend. The Bears titled the ice in first period when they scored three goals in rapid succession by three different lines, taking a solid 3-0 lead.

“I thought it was the most complete game we played all year for 60-minutes,” Bears head coach Mike Haviland said. “It has to be that way when you are playing one of the best teams in the conference.”

The Bears have been adjusting well to the new systems that Haviland has introduced, after a slow season start the Bears demonstrated a good power kill and a good full strength, 60-minute hockey game. Against the no. 2 power play leader of the Eastern Conference, the Bears have only allowed 1 power play goal out of the Senators 11 attempts.

“I think we’ve done a good job on the forecheck, up the ice, and really disrupting them,” Haviland said. “They’re really good off the rush 5-on-5 and the power play.”

The Bears snapped the Senators 7- game winning streak with a 5-2 victory last night at the Giant Center. With another meeting this afternoon against the Binghamton Senators the Bears will have to come back at full-strength with another solid 60 minute game. With the fresh memory of their loss last night, the Senators will surely bring a very physical element to the game tonight.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reading Royals come back to beat the Wheeling Nailers and extend winning streak to 3

Even after the gloves were dropped 15 seconds into the Reading Royals game against the Wheeling Nailers last night, the Royals got off to a slow but very physical start. The Nailers, confidently on a three game winning streak had the Royals on their heels, as they dominated the first period, out shooting the Royals 9-6.

“Just to stay with it,” T.J Syner who was recently loaned from Hershey recalled of Coach Courville’s advice during the 2nd intermission. “It’s a full 60 minute game, you can’t go out there and play 40 minutes …we got the win which is the important thing as a team and we can build off that.”

Early in the second period the Royals surrendered the first goal to the Nailers, who found the back of the net, taking the lead of the game. The gloves were dropped again, as they went another round, the fight still not adding much momentum to the game for the Royals. At the twenty four minute mark the Nailers advanced their lead to 2-0. As the Royals arena fell silent they quickly responded with a goal by Dustin Gazley, cutting the Nailers lead in half as the arena erupted into cheers. The Royals first goal was followed by the third fight of the game, the Nailers were certainly roughing the Royals up on the ice.

“I did not think the first half of the game we were very good at all,” Coach Courville said. “We did not play with enough: passion, energy, heart, and all things that I think we need to be successful.”

“After the 1st intermission I questioned our work ethic and I didn’t think we played with enough energy. They were a lot more physical than we were.”

Going into the 3rd period the Royals were down 1 point and looking for the equalizer. They were skating the puck into the Nailers zone and shooting pucks, but the Nailers were blocking everything. Finally, Yannick Tifu broke through with a snap shot, banking his second goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2. After a scoreless overtime the game was pushed into a shootout, where Riley Gill stretched his personal winning streak to four with a 3-2 victory, extending the teams winning streak to 3 at home.

With a coach like Courville, who stresses full 60-minutes of play and to play with: passion, energy and heart, the Royals have some adjustments to make for the next 11 times they will face the Wheeling Nailers this season. The Royals are full of talent, especially with guys like: T.J Syner, Stanislav Galiev and Tyler Ruegsegger who are no stranger to the Hershey Bears, their AHL affiliate.

Head out to the Reading Royals next home game Wednesday, November 27th at Santander Arena in Reading, PA.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philadelphia Flyers finally on the upswing

The Philadelphia Flyers did not get a new goaltender last night as they faced the Ottawa Senators. But, there was a different man between the pipes momentarily as Steve Mason was drawn out of the net, D-man Nicklas Grossmann stepped in to make the save of the game. It’s no surprise that Grossmann put himself in the net during the tied game, Grossmann is among the league leaders in blocked shots and plays the type of defense a goaltender like Mason can appreciate.

Getting things rolling during the first period was Captain Claude Giroux as he sniped his second goal of the season and put the Flyers on the board. The momentum of the Flyers season seems to be changing, as the Flyers experienced ‘firsts’ left and right last night, one being by Sean Couturier, as he finally scored his first goal of the season ending his drought during the second period to put the Flyers up by 2.

The Flyers, who have been good on the penalty kill recently, forfeited a power play goal to the Ottawa Senators late in the 2nd period and then again early in the 3rd period. As they so often do, the Flyers gave away their 3rd period lead and with a tied game the Flyers had to play flawless hockey to win. Grossmann stepped into the net with an outstanding save, a save that must have made stone wall Steve Mason himself proud. The Flyers responded with a quick one, two punch as Kimmo Timonen put the Flyers back in the lead by 1 and Wayne Simmonds took out the insurance policy, as he scored a goal 23 seconds later.

An opportunity for the Senators to gain on the Flyers lead came in the 3rd period, when they were granted a penalty shot which was fought off by Mason, ever so patient between the pipes. The Flyers claimed another first during this game, this time for Adam Hall as he scored an empty net goal, his first as a Flyer to win the game, 5-2.

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to thrive and are on the upswing as they experience the best 2 weeks of hockey they have had thus far. After last night’s win against the Ottawa Senators, they are within 2 points of a play-off slot. With a long season ahead of them, the confidence of Captain Claude Giroux is certainly propelling them in the right direction. In the last 6 games the Flyers have only allowed 2 goals at even strength, which is a positive change. They are buying into Craig Berube’s systems and playing better 5 on 5 hockey. The Flyers need to concentrate on chipping away at their opponent’s one shift at a time and winning the game period by period, taking a lead into the locker room with them everytime. Since the trio of Simmonds, B. Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier has been put together the Flyers have gone 3-0-1. Finally there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers. With a building confidence the Flyers will face the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gibbons and Fleury lead the Pens to victory

Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Anaheim Ducks played 45 minutes of mind numbing scoreless hockey. New comer Brian Gibbons, in his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins, joined the scoring club as he opened up scoring between the teams. Gibbons joins other hockey legends like Mario Lemieux who also scored their first NHL goal in their NHL debut. The four minutes and four seconds that followed saw a combination of 4 goals between the teams. For anyone who took a short bathroom break or maybe gave up on the game, came back to a 3-1 game with the Penguins in the lead.

As the Penguins struggled to register any shots on goal during the first period a Wayne Gretzky quote came to mind, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” It really appeared that the Penguins would be scoreless and shotless in the first period. The Penguins did not have a shot on goal during the first 17 minutes of this game but they ended the period with 3 shots to the Ducks 12 shots, things did not look promising.

The mind numbing game continued into the second period where the most exciting thing was the subway commercial. Fellow hockey writer Kelsey Douglas @LateShiftKelsey said it best: “..That Subway commercial spiced things up for a little bit.”

For anyone who gave up on the game and called it a night, you missed a great 3rd period. After Gibbons opened up scoring during his NHL debut Sutter tipped one in, for 2 goals and 2 shots in 1:02. The game really turned around, there was no way it could have drug on any longer in the doldrums of scorelessness. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf rockets the puck past Fleury, then Penguins captain Sidney “sweet hands” Crosby comes back to put the Duck back in the 3-1 hole.

After a long scoreless gridlock, this game got off the ground in a matter of four minutes. Gibbons and Fleury lead the Penguins to victory against the Ducks. The Pittsburgh Penguins, finally able to shake off that bad luck the Philadelphia Flyers left in Pittsburgh last week, advanced to 26 points, still leading the Metropolitan Division, the Washington Capitals trailing them with 25 points. The Anaheim Ducks who were leading the league overall in points now are tied with the 2013 Stanley Cup champs, Chicago Blackhawks, at 32 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals will face off tomorrow as they fight to claim the lead in the Metropolitan division and the Anaheim Ducks will demolish the New Jersey Devils.

Follow on Twitter @TheAmateurFan or "like" on facebook www.facebook.com/TheAmateurFan

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Flyers breaking out of their season slump with a 5-0 shutout and 2 game winning streak


Last night the Philadelphia Flyers took advantage of their power plays and played a solid 60 minutes of hockey against the Ottawa Senators, scoring 5 goals. Steve “Brick Wall” Mason achieved his 20th career shutout and 1st shutout as a Flyer, a much deserved accomplishment for the Flyers goaltender who has been outstanding this season.

The Flyers, finally showing positive signs that they are breaking out of their early season slump, were playing like a team with contributions from each line. Matt Read claimed the first goal on a wrap around, beating the goaltender to the post and slipping the puck in the net for a 1-0 lead.

The 2nd period was the story of Jakub Voracek, who scored within the first 27 seconds of the period and then again registered a goal during the Flyers first power play of the game. Claude Giroux, was a dangerous force during the game and achieved his 300th career point during the 2nd period.

During the 3rd period, Vinny Lecavalier was in the right place at the right time when he came down center ice to score, increasing the Flyers lead, 4-0. Brayden Schenn and Lecavalier combined to score again, taking out a little insurance on the Flyers lead late in the 3rd period. With 5 minutes of play left and a score of 5-0, this was the first time all season it was evident that the Flyers were going to clinch the win.

This season as the Flyers struggled with goal scoring, this was the first time they demonstrated a continual productive effort, going into the 3rd period with a 3 goal lead and scoring to advance to a, 5-0 shutout. The Flyers did not give the Senators many chances, they were winning puck battles, patient with the puck and played like a unit.

The Flyers have built some great momentum, both on the ice and in the locker room. Whatever was said to them during their closed door team meeting seems to have been productive and translated into their play. As they gear up to face their cross state rivals tonight, they are in a good spot mentally to push through a challenging and physical 60- minute game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tonight will be the real test to see if the Flyers have what it takes to put their slow start behind them and come out on top this season.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Line brawl and a shoot out, but the Hershey Bears fall to Binghamton Senators

With less than 1 minute remaining in the 2nd period gloves, sticks and helmets were sprawled across the ice, as a line brawl ensued in retaliation for a venomous two-handed slashing to Hershey Bears winger John Mitchell by Binghamton defenseman Chris Wideman. Down two-points (1-3), the B-Sens gave the Hershey Bears the fuel they needed to reenergize their lagging game.

“Pretty vicious play. I haven't seen that in a long time,” head coach Mike Haviland commented on the slashing that gave the Bears a good kick late in the second period. “That was intent. He knew what he was doing. But the league will deal with that.”

Mitchell’s elbow on Wideman is what sparked him to chase Mitchell up ice behind the play to deliver a two handed slash. The slashing earned the defenseman a match penalty and he could possibly face suspension, while Mitchell drew an elbowing penalty from that play.

With 6.3 seconds remaining, the B-sens dealt the Bears the perfect spark to light a fire in their otherwise lagging game. Jeff Taffe led the Bears to a goal on the power play, cutting the B-Sens lead by 1, making the score 3-2.

Coming back in the 3rd period still with 4:53 of power play time, the Bears were unable to convert. Soon thereafter they fell farther down on the board, as the B-Sens advanced, 4-3. It seemed that the fate of the Bears, who are not known for 3rd period come backs, was sealed with Buddy Robinson’s short-handed goal.

With plenty of time remaining, the Bears surged to a comeback. Casey Wellman scored a power play goal and Mitchell clinched a shorthander, tying the contest at 4-4. Last night for the second time, the Bears pressed into overtime and played the best 5-minutes of defend the den, as they helped Philipp Grubauer keep the score level.

Not as exciting as the previous night’s bout, the game was again decided by a shootout. The Bears must have used all of their shootout luck the night before as they only managed to register one goal, losing the game to Binghamton in the shoot-out.

A tough loss for the Hershey Bears, as they battled back twice in this contest. Haviland is finally seeing what he wants from this team, they are a bunch of really talented players and have great momentum as they head on the road. The wins on home ice are going to start coming. I thought they dropped nearly the entire 2nd period until the line brawl sparked some fiery emotion that fueled their comeback. They need to play an entire 60 minute game and be more competitive during 5-on-5 hockey. The Bears added a few new players to the line-up last night, changing up the dynamic and took home three out of four points this weekend. It’s great to see a head coach like Mike Haviland in Hershey!

The Hershey Bears head on the road this week as they face the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday and Thursday and then the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday. The Bears will be back in their home barn November 23rd and will square off against the Binghamton Senators again – you are not going to want to miss this rematch!!






Sunday, November 10, 2013

Claude Giroux is BACK

Nothing could over shadow Claude Giroux, as he wooed the Philadelphia fans, scoring his first goal of the season. With his goal during yesterday’s game, Giroux reassures the fans and the team that he is their fearless leader, ready to captain them into the play-offs. The Flyers tallied another win, boosting their record to 5-10-1 last night during their 16th game of the season.

Although the Flyers have fallen to the last place in the metropolitan division, they fall only 5 points behind the other competitive team of the division. Everyone thought that Giroux’s comment about heading to the plays-offs was a pipe dream but if they start winning consistently they will once again be competitive in their division. It’s still early in the season they could recover and come back, if in fact they have found their groove.

This week will be a test for the Philadelphia Flyers new groove as they face the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets. More than likely we will both see Ray Emery and Steve Mason in net, as the Flyers try to boost their record from their slow start 5-10-1.

My prediction for the Philadelphia Flyers week is: They will beat the Ottawa Senators, fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins but only after dropping the gloves and taking the boys for a few rounds and they will win over the Winnipeg Jets, who are also last in their division. The combination of energy and confidence from Giroux and Scott Hartnell is contagious and I think that the rest of the team will feel that as well and step everyone’s game back up to the level they should have been playing all along.

10-round shootout thrills fans in Chocolatetown

After the game went to a 10-round shoot out, the Hershey Bears proved that they are in fact creative goal scores. Out of the 10 Bears, 6 registered tallies, finding the back of the net and beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 6-5 in the shootout.

The Great Dane Byers lead his team to an early first period goal, putting the Hershey Bears on the board 18 seconds into the game. After a few weeks of trial and error with line combinations, new comer head coach Mike Haviland hit gold with the first line combo last night. Both teams got the game off to a spirited start as they dropped gloves twice in the first period to go a few rounds.

“We opened up the game with a great first shift and then I thought we kind of sat back a little bit and then we got it going again,” Haviland said as he described a team that put in continual effort throughout the game.

The Bears kept their one goal leading heading into the second and then third period. Ryan Stoa notched them a bit of insurance scoring a power play goal in the 3rd to take a short lived two goal lead. During the final 20 minutes the Bears lost their lead and the game was pushed on into overtime.

“We’ve got to find ways to win, that’s the big thing now,” head coach Haviland expressed, wanting to spend more energy on winning rather than losing.

Overtime was filled with close calls and many opportunities on both ends of the ice. After 5- minutes, the score was still holding at 2-2 and the game proceeded to a shootout. Booing and cheers filled the barn as the Bears and Sound Tigers went a thrilling 10 rounds. Depositing the puck into the net for the Bears were: Casey Wellman, Peter LeBlanc, Ryan Stoa, Jeff Taffe, Nathan Walker and The Great Dane Byers, who clinched the win with the final goal of the shootout. This might have been the longest shootout in the memory of most Hershey Bears fans.

“It’s a big confidence booster for this group. We needed it, we needed to start the weekend right.” Haviland commented, as he seems to already be mentally preparing for the Bears game against Binghamton Senators later today at the Giant Center.

Looking forward to this afternoon the Hershey Bears, 3-4-2-1 will be facing a very good Binghamton Senators team, 8-4-0-0. The Bears have some momentum to build off of from last night. They will need all of their players on board if they are to be competitive against the Senators. Philipp Grubauer was exceptional in goal last night and tonight, hopefully David Leggio will be between the pipes for the Bears tonight. Leggio has been a solid contributor and will be able to keep the Bears competitive as they play into the third period. Come out to the Giant Center tonight, game starts at 5 p.m.

For more of The Amateur Fan, follow @TheAmateurFan on twitter or "like" www.facebook.com/TheAmateurFan

Friday, November 8, 2013

Flyers lose, Panthers hand out pink slips and Bryzgalov is back?

Today has been quite a shocking day in terms of NHL news. Before we dive into that, let’s review last night’s Flyers vs. Devils game briefly.

With over 100 minutes of play with no goals scored over the past week, the New Jersey Devils did not take long to get on the board last night against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils put the Flyers to sleep, and all the fans as they shut them out during a very dull 3-0 victory. A team clearly experiencing hard times, even Flyers chairman Ed Snider, who has been in the game for 47 years, has ‘never seen anything like this’. The Flyers continue to possess a shocking inability to score and have fallen to last-place in the Metropolitan Division. Not even captain Claude Giroux blames the fans for booing them with the performances they have been giving. The fans are calling for the firing of GM Paul Holmgren and it seems that if things do not change, Snider may be prepared to let the fans have it their way. But, what did firing Laviolette really do? Is a new GM the answer?

It seems pink slips flying around the league, not just in Philadelphia. Today head coach Kevin Dineen and assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay were relieved of their coaching duties from the Florida Panthers. Reasons cited for the early season dismissal were due to expectations set in training camp not being met. After just 16 games the Panthers are looking to change philosophy and direction. The Panthers will be moving forward as they appointed interim head coach Peter Horachek.

Wrapping up the excitement of the day, true to form is Ilya Brzygalov. Remembering back to his time in Philadelphia, not too long ago, this net minder had a way with the media and it is ironic that today just happens to be the day he reappears. Back in the beginning of October, just days after the 2013-14 NHL season had started news of Bryzgalov accepting a professional try-out with ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers surfaced. Thought to be a kick in the pants for Bryz, who just three years ago was a Verzina nominee, he remained uncharacteristically optimistic saying:

“ ..this is critical for me to be ready for NHL play, and I can’t wait to get on the ice. Everyone’s motivation here is largely driven by an unparalleled passion for the game, and this will offer me a very interesting perspective and be a great opportunity for me to reflect why I started playing this great game in the first place…”

Shortly after, Ilya and family posed for a picture (presumably in Vegas) with the Blue Man crew but since then the Bryz camp has been silent. Today the news broke that pending the Calgary trade, the Edmonton Oilers have made a verbal agreement with Bryz for a one year contract. How ironic that this is taking place on the eve of the Oilers v Flyers game?

Keep the excitement coming!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

ANNOUNCEMENT

Head Coach Mike Haviland is not afraid to mix things up for the (2-4-2-1) Hershey Bears. When Haviland was named the 24th head coach back in June, it was clear there would be strong leadership behind the bench, as Haviland brings 14 years’ worth of professional hockey coaching, excellence and the winning spirit to Chocolatetown, USA. This past weekend after the Bears 4-2 loss to their rivals the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Haviland said:

“We’re putting guys in. We’re taking guys out. We’re calling guys up now. We’re trying to send messages to guys. We’re benching guys.”

As Haviland continues using his resources to adjust lines, forming the Bears into a competitive elite winning force, there has been a lot of movement from ECHL affiliate Reading Royals to the AHL Hershey Bears and vice versa. A coach not afraid to make changes and an ECHL affiliate filled with talent, it may be hard to keep up with the new faces you start seeing on the Hershey bench. That’s why I will be headed to a few Royals games this season to keep tabs on players and use my best scouting skills to let you know who may be the next player to defend the den in Chocolatetown. I am excited to be bringing you a closer look at the East Coast Hockey League Reading Royals affiliate of the American Hockey League Hershey Bears and the National Hockey League Washington Capitals. First game November 20th. Stay tuned!

To see a full schedule for the Reading Royals: http://royalshockey.com/schedule/

For more of The Amateur fan follow on twitter @TheAmateurFan

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The WORT game ever and onto the New Jersey Devils tomorrow

It took the Carolina Hurricanes 59 – minutes to finally score against Steve “Magic Mitts” Mason, tying up the game and forcing the Philadelphia Flyers into their first overtime of the season. Mason, the one shining star in Philadelphia, was not enough to fend off the Hurricanes, who were looking to win after 5 straight losses. Various hockey analysts are already calling this game one of the top 5 worst games in NHL history.

With equally poor records, the Hurricanes thought to be the worse of the two, the Flyers and Hurricanes battled through a 0-0 tied game for 56- minutes. Their records not reflective of the talent on either team’s bench, the game last night was atrocious. There is not much to be said.

The Hurricanes’ clinched a win, breaking their 5 straight loses. The puck was snagged during overtime off of a turnover by the Flyers and buried in the back of the net – thrilling the home crowd for a much wanted win by the Hurricanes’. The Flyers’ inconsistent as ever, saw a happy Scott Hartnell as he scored his first goal of the season. It was great to see a smile from Hartnell as his goal was reviewed and deemed a fair. Contrary to what their optimistic team captain said a few weeks ago, this team will not make Stanley Cup playoffs, instead they have fallen to the worse team in the league.

Each game worse than the last, the Flyers will play on, as they face the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night. The Flyers will have to keep a watchful eye on: Jagr, Zidlicky and Elias, who lead their team in points. Scoring early, putting traffic in front of the net and taking a lead into the third period will be key for the Flyers, who have been outscored 16-5 during the 3rd period. Vinny Lecavalier will have to step up his leadership now that he is back on the ice and hopefully Hartnell has his groove back, after he scored his first goal of the season in yesterday’s game. The Devils are currently on a 2 game losing streak with a 3-7-4 record while the Flyers hold a 4-9-1 record. After last night’s game hopefully things can only get better, as both teams despite for the win tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hershey Drops Game to Rivals at Home

David Leggio defended the net last night but the Hershey Bears were not able to defend the den, as they dropped another game to their biggest rivals: the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The crowd was boisterous, giving the Bears loud accolades and springing to their feet! Playing in one of the best and loudest barns in the AHL, the Bears held onto the game until they surrendered a 2 goal lead and the win to the Penguins.

Fresh off of a loss from Friday night, the Bears were hungry for a win. David Kolomatis deposited the puck top shelf, his first goal of the season. Jeff Taffe followed, igniting the barn into a loud roar, as he secured claiming a 2 goal lead. The first period was full of action, as these rivals dropped the gloves numerous times, sending 5 players to the box. Despite leading, 2-0 on the score board as they headed to intermission, the Bears were out shot in their own den 12-7 by the Pens.

Still ready to stir the pot in the second period, gloves were dropped. The Pens, Chris Conner, is finally able to push past Leggio and cut the Bears lead in half. The Pens were persistent as they pushed to get the equalizer, Harry Zolniercayk dumped the puck in the net, leveling the score to 2-2. In the final minutes of the period the Pens blasted the net with shots but Leggio was everywhere. Eventually, they rocketed a shot past Leggio, with 47 seconds left on the clock they claimed the one goal lead heading into the locker rooms.

With only 20 minutes remaining, the Bears had a lot of ground to make up. The third period goal by the Penguins can only be described, as a play that Leggio would love to be able to take back. A miss step by Leggio as he helped on the play, the puck bounced behind him to where an open net was in receiving from Penguin, the Bears surrendered a 2 goal lead and the win to the Penguins.

MVP for the Bears last night was their goaltender Leggio. Hershey has been fortunate to have outstanding goaltenders, Leggio among those and it is a real treat to have such a talented net minder. Leggio kept the score low for the Bears keeping them in the game, from post to post he had his pads on everything making huge saves.

Looking towards this afternoon’s game, the Bears will face the Norfolk Admirals. The Bears need to play with speed, put traffic in front of their goaltender and play a solid 60 minute game. As Hershey drops to 1-2-1-0 record at home, Haviland is not afraid to make the changes needed to defend the den at 5pm against the Norfolk Admirals.

For more of The Amateur Fan follow on twitter @TheAmateurFan or "like" on facebook at: facebook.com/TheAmateurFan

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Philadelphia Flyers Worst Game Yet

A throw back on Friday for the head coaches of the Flyers and Capitals, Adam Oats and Craig Berube, who played for both clubs and were teammates for a few seasons. Now both head coaches, their clubs faced off on Philadelphia Flyers home ice. The Capitals were looking for the win last night, even without Alex Ovechkin, and they broke their losing streak with a 7-0 victory over the Flyers.
It took nearly the entire first period for the Capitals to get on the board, even though they were outshot 8-4 by the Flyers. That first period goal opened up the flood gates for the Capitals, who racked up the points during the second period and headed to the locker room with a 6 point lead. Then, out of desperation in the third, Wayne Simmonds set out on a mission of revenge and sparked a line brawl, including a goaltender fight between Ray Emery and Branden Holtby.

The Capitals did not miss Ovechkin at all last night as: Joel Ward tallied a hat trick and Nicklas Backstrom found the back of the net twice. Jason Chimera and Troy Brouwer each scored as well during this heavily slanted game. Holtby made 30 saves for a game shutout last night and survived the Emery fight.

Steve Downie burst back onto the scene with positive contributions early in the game and then a fight in the attempt to bring some energy to the Flyers. With every opportunity missed and turnovers galore, the Flyers hit rock bottom and broke into a line brawl out of frustration. Emery, received a game high of 29 penalty minutes for engaging Holtby, who wanted nothing to do with him, in a fight. The discouragement and frustration is running at an all-time high in Philadelphia as they push on to face the New Jersey Devils later today.

After the game last Downie went to the hospital with a concussion from his fight, while Lecavalier suffered facial injuries. Both players will be scratches tonight against the New Jersey Devils. Captain Giroux still has not scored after 12 games and continues on the worst start of his career.

The Flyers are now 3-9-0. Even with the added talent, readjustment of lines, and goaltender switch they dropped this game to the Capitals – not even able to answer one goal. What is next for the Flyers? Could it be that promoting an assistant coach to head coach does not make the kind of impact needed to win NHL hockey games?

There does not seem to be any chemistry among this Flyers team. With their coach unable to motivate them into being the champions that all of their leadership and talent would suggest they can be, GM Paul Holmgren has created quite the predicament for Ed Snider. Berube, a good coach but not the answer to the Flyers problems and while Holmgren made an excellent trade on Thursday, he struck out on the coaching decision. Now that Downie is out with a concussion, Holmgren lost the energy and offensive spirit that he was intended to bring to the ice. While everyone spins there wheels about what to do in order to fix the Flyers, the solutions seems pretty obvious at this point.

Catch the Flyers again tonight as they take the ice against the New Jersey Devils.

For more of the Amateur Fan follow on twitter @TheAmateurFan