Mid-Week Links: CWHL All-Star Game, Ammerman spearheads soccer league, COC LGBT initative

  • We’re waiting for some clarification, but if you’re going to the CWHL All-Star Game, you might want to double-check the page with ticketing information— it looks like the event now requires a ticket, whereas before the RSVP was just for a headcount.

First off, CJ of Power Play with CJ did an interview with Knight–

Dewar’s, the scotch company, appear to have picked up Knight as one of the faces of their brand, and as such put out a profile of her– she mostly talks about her work with the Olympic team and her various charity work, but still pretty interesting.

Finally, looks like Knight’s selling some neat t-shirts and signed posters of her– check it out over at blixknight.com.

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What We’re Reading This Week: November 6th, 2014

Mid-Week Links Round Up: The Canadian Women Continue to Break My Heart

  • Over at espnW, Kate Fagan wrote about the recent firing of a female coach, Tracey Griesbaum, at the University of Iowa. It’s an interesting story that touches on the really problematic double standard applied to female coaches, but one that also extends to female athletes as well, across sports. From Griesbaum’s lawyer’s statement, the following really struck me as a good summary of this:
  • We expect our female coaches to be strong leaders, but not too strong. This means we expect our female coaches not to forget they are women first and leaders second. It means we expect them not to forget they should be ‘mothering’ or ‘nurturing’ our daughters while coaching them. We do not expect any of this from male coaches regardless of whether they coach males or females.

  • Kat Hasenauer Cornetta of Women’s Hockey Today recently caught up with current Harvard head coach and previous USA Olympic head coach, Katie Stone. Check out the interview, it’s quite interesting.
  • If you’ve been following women’s hockey, or honestly, women’s sports in general, you’ve probably heard about the issues of growing the women’s game, especially in hockey where the NHL is set up as the pinnacle of hockey achievement. However, the Pink Puck recently had a very interesting interview with Hilary Knight on these issues. Of particular interest to me was Knight’s comments about her plans after the Olympics–

    I was thinking about retiring. I wasn’t sure where I was. [I knew] traveling across the pond would be very difficult, [because] I could score however many goals, but it really wouldn’t matter because it wouldn’t impact or motivate or inspire anyone else if I wasn’t in North America. It was heartbreaking.

  • We didn’t stay up to watch the US v Canada Four Nations game, and I’m kind of glad of it. But if you’d like your heart-broken some more (or to gloat), check out TSN’s coverage of the game. (Spoiler: The US lost 4-1).
  • I’m just gonna keep rewatching these Montreal at Calgary highlights from their October 26th game, to sooth my heart-break.CWHL October 26th Montreal at Calgary Inferno Highlights from Bengt Neathery on Vimeo.

 

Bad Third Period Downs Team USA; Canada Wins 3-2

Jessie Vetter stood out in this game. (via HowlingMad on flickr)
Jessie Vetter stood out in this game. (via HowlingMad on flickr)

The hype leading up to Canada-USA is insane – deserved, but insane. Suddenly all kinds of NHL beat reporters know everything about women’s hockey! Amazing.

(I have my sarcasm hat on; can you tell.)

For detailed scoring, the box score is here.

The short story of that game is that USA took too many penalties and had a disastrous 3rd period. Canada’s power play wasn’t actually that dangerous; they went 1 for 4 (technically 5, but the majority of one was 4-on-4). But it’s hard to get or sustain momentum when you’re on the kill so often. On top of that, for some reason, USA’s strategy going into the offensive zone was to attempt to deke past the likes of Catherine Ward, which didn’t work for obvious reasons. I’m also wondering why they failed to elevate on Labonte so many times; it’s possible the scouting just wasn’t there compared to the work USA’s done on cracking Szabados.

The first period was strong and relatively even, statistically. My personal opinion is that Canada had a bit more jump, their scoring chances were a little better – Vetter for sure had to be sharp. But in the end it was scoreless, and shots/scoring chances were pretty much even.

USA had no momentum until late in the second. The Schleper-to-Knight goal totally changed Team USA’s game, and nearly all the last scoring chances (or all, but I can’t remember; at 23, I’m aged) were for Team USA.

But did they carry that into the third? NAW, SON. NO shots for USA for most of that period, and on top of that, three goals for Canada. First Agosta on the power play from a great Wickenheiser pass, then Wickenheiser, then Agosta again on a breakaway. With barely a minute left, Schleper scored for USA, but by then, it was too late. Canada won this one 3-2.

What I haven’t mentioned was Canada’s controversial second goal, where the whistle went and then the puck trickled past Vetter. The whistle probably shouldn’t have been blown, but it was, so that should’ve been no goal. But even though I’m ragingly for Team USA, I can’t be that mad about it. Bad refereeing happens; the refs also missed 2 blatant too many men on Team Canada. Team USA wouldn’t have pulled ahead anyway with how they were playing, and it’s crucial to not let a goal like that second Canada goal get in your head. Team USA was transparently deflated after that goal, and played completely flatly. The third goal, an Agosta breakaway, was not a surprise.

But anyone who thinks this is the full story of the tournament hasn’t been paying attention to either team. They’re likely to meet again, and hopefully USA will have it together better next time.

Team USA’s biggest weakness was by far defense. There was very little cohesion, especially compared to Canada’s defense; in the third period, Team USA was barely doing better than chasing pucks. Vetter bailed them out several times. That has to change.

Bright spots: Hilary Knight’s play was, obviously, outstanding. Her work to get the puck to Stack on a breakaway alone was stunning, and she and Stack each had 4 SOG. Brianna Decker drove play for Team USA, carrying the puck in quite a bit and keeping it in even through Team USA’s disorganization (though she also took 2 penalties, so that’s a double-edged sword). Jessie Vetter kept the US in the game even through a total lack of momentum. And Anne Schleper, of course, with her shot from the point leading to a Knight tip-in, and her goal late in the third, was the sneaky offense that kept USA in the game.

Again: this isn’t the complete story. These teams are almost guaranteed to meet again in the medal round. They’re both very good, evenly matched teams. The real test will be if Team USA can maintain cool heads next time, and not let a bad goal totally deflate them.

Olympics Women’s Hockey Recap – Feb 8th & Feb 9th

USA gettin' it done.
USA gettin’ it done.

Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Canada and the US have been dominating the women’s hockey tournament so far! Just kidding, literally no one is surprised by this. The games kicked off February 8th, with USA getting a 3-1 win over Finland and Canada sending Switzerland packing, 5-0.

Switzerland has very little support for women’s hockey, and oh, does it show. Canada had 69 shots to Switzerland’s 14. That tells a pretty clear story on its own (though after the Olympics, we’ll be doing some statistical breakdowns of games), but it’s worth noting that Switzerland’s biggest problems were very clearly connected to their lack of practice as a cohesive team. In the defensive zone, they collapsed around whoever had the puck, leaving lanes wide open for Canada to pass in – and then score. In the offensive zone, Canada almost never had trouble clearing the puck; Switzerland just didn’t look like they knew what to do. The only bright spot for Switzerland so far has been goaltending Florence Schelling, who posted a .928 SV% for the CAN-SUI game. Not bad, Schelling. Sorry your name lends itself to the obvious, unfortunate pun.

Finland, in contrast, held the US to only 3 goals. Mind you, that first goal game at 0:53 in the first, from Hilary Knight – but overall, Noora Raty had a .930 SV%, and Finland in general had it together more than Switzerland. Finland is a legitimate contender in the sense that they are becoming competitive with the best teams in women’s hockey. Hopefully they’ll continue to develop and serve up an interesting game for the bronze – or even silver.

February 9th was Group B’s turn. Sweden won against Japan 1-0. Nana Fujimoto, the Japanese goaltender, put up an amazing performance against Sweden. Japan actually had a number of decent scoring chances, despite being shut out. They play an organized game that manages quite a bit of possession, considering what a new program they are. Mind, this will probably change once they play Canada or the USA, both of whom are more physical teams than Sweden, but it’s good to see two teams play such a tight game.

Russia – which has thrown support behind women’s hockey, boasting a professional hockey league of largely Russian players – shelled Germany 4-1. Russia has the elusive home ice advantage, if you believe in that kind of thing; at the very least, Russians turned out to support their women’s team in impressive numbers.

Players to watch: countries with less developed women’s hockey programs are bringing it in the goaltending department this tournament. Keep an especially close eye on Noora Raty, who’s playing behind a team that might actually help her carry them beyond bronze.

Hilary Knight has been a dominant presence for the US. On Canada’s side, Wickenheiser doesn’t appear to have rust on her, and Poulin is actually getting minutes, to the surprise of everyone familiar with Dineen. And, finally, Molly Schaus and Jessie Vetter are battling it out for the starting position in the medal games, with US coach Stone not naming a starter yet. That will be interesting to continue to watch.

Mid-Week Link Roundup: All Sochi, all the time.

Most of this week’s links are focused on Sochi, with the Games starting in just days now.

  • First Line Hockey has a great article about some of the more overlooked players on some of the Olympics teams. Loved seeing former Gopher Mira Jalusuo on that list. First Line Hockey is, in general, a quality read, and a good twitter follow, too. Find them on Twitter @FirstLineHockey.

  • CBC’s Olympics-focused website has an article on Kevin Dineen’s adaptation to coaching the Canadian women. He’s quoted as saying the women on the team ask a lot more about the whys of his decisions than the men he’s coached in the AHL and NHL, which I found interesting.

  • Joy Johnson, one of the UK’s top refs, is going to Sochi, and has been blogging about her Sochi experience! It’s a really interesting look behind the curtain of reffing women’s hockey, especially at such a high level.

  • The Washington Times had an article about the changes made to the women’s Olympic hockey tournament in order to encourage less US and Canadian dominance at the games. I know I’ve fielded some questions already on why the women’s tournament is so different from the men’s this year, so if you’re curious, take a look at this article.

  • ESPN-W has a profile piece on Amanda Kessel and her preparation for her first Olympics.  (Yes, I know, we’re a bit all Amanda Kessel all the time lately, but what can I say? She’s been electrifying to watch on the Gophers, and I’ve been following her with a great deal of interest.)
  • The New York Times, as part of their Olympic coverage, has a really interesting article about the Russian Women’s Championship, the Russian women’s pro league.

Ouellette Replaces Wickenheiser As Team Canada Olympic Captain

Per this article, Kevin Dineen (who’s not exactly a winning Team Canada coach, currently) has replaced Hayley Wickenheiser with Caroline Ouellette as the Team Canada Olympic captain.  This news is a bit old, but we were too busy dying in our sickbeds to post about it before.

Caroline Ouellette with the A for Canada, showing off all three of her gold medals.
Caroline Ouellette with the A for Canada, showing off all three of her gold medals.                    
Hayley Wickenheiser wearing the C for Canada, with just one of her three gold medals.
Hayley Wickenheiser wearing the C for Canada, with just one of her three gold medals.

 

 

 

Ouellette is a veteran who’s very good at hockey and probably just fine as a leader, but she’s not the winningest, most decorated women’s hockey player currently playing. Wickenheiser is carrying the flag for Canada, for God’s sake, a decision that fortunately is not subject to Dineen’s whims. I can’t see this move as anything but a fairly ridiculous attempt to establish the Dineen era as something worth noting – a delineation between the past and the Dineeny future, if you will. Forgive me if I’m not terribly impressed with that era so far. Congratulations to Ouellette, who has certainly paid her dues as a national player; but seriously, demoting Wickenheiser makes no sense.

Since we’re filthy Americans, we (or maybe just I; Kate has more sense) will be rooting for Dineen to be equally as irrational in who he chooses to play during the tournament. By which I mean, bench Poulin, Dineen. You know you want to. Do it. Do it for America, Dineen.

CWHL Weekend Preview and Link Round Up!

CWHL Weekend Preview:

There are only two games to look forward to this weekend, a back to back between the Boston Blades and the Brampton Thunder. Brampton is currently leading the league in penalty minutes, with 232 over 15 games, while Boston has the least, with 92 over 11 games. I’m looking forward to watching this game, as I have a vague feeling it might be a bit rough. Should be fun to watch. 🙂

Brampton hosts the Blades for the Saturday streaming game, starting at 5:45 pm CST. Brampton hosts them again on Sunday, playing at 1:00 pm CST.

Weekend Link Round Up:

CWHL Weekend Preview: Calgary v Brampton, Montreal v Boston

CWHL Weekend Preview:

This weekend’s CWHL streaming game is Calgary vs Brampton, at 5:45 pm CST, on Saturday January 18th! It’s their second meeting of the season, with their last game, early in November, ending 3-2 for Brampton in a shoot out. Imp will have a write-up of that on Monday. (Check out her post on Where to Watch Women’s Hockey if you need help figuring out how to stream the game, or at-reply us on twitter @watchthishockey

The other Saturday game is the Montreal Stars vs the Boston Blades, 6:35 pm CST. Montreal won their last meeting, 5-2, but Boston won their only other game against Montreal yet this season, 2-1. With both teams working hard to fill the gaps left by their players lost to Olympic rosters, and a rivalry built on multiple Clarkson Cup finals appearances, it should be an interesting game.

On Sunday, January 18th,  we have the Montreal Stars taking on the Boston Blades again in a back-to-back game, at 12:15 pm CST. Then it’s Calgary vs Brampton again, at 1:00 pm CST. Remember, Calgary streams an audio feed of all their home games, so check that out to listen to their games.

Link Round-up:

  • The US Olympic team has been scrimmaging with several New England high school boy’s teams, in order to get some more practice in before the Olympics. They’ve won two of the three games. Take a look at this article to find out some more, and make sure to check out the video of interviews with both some of the women and some of the boys that they’ve been playing.

  • The US Olympic team also got a chance to practice at Fenway Park, which was flooded and frozen for the Frozen Fenway events, including several outdoor college hockey games. See a nice round-up of the women’s practice, including a round-up of pics, here.

  • Several more women’s national teams announced their Olympic rosters this week, including Germany and Sweden.

  • It’s a little hard to track down, complicated by the fact that we’re both only really fluent in English, but we’re pretty sure the only nation who hasn’t officially announced their women’s roster for Sochi yet is Russia. Once all the women’s rosters have been announced, we’ll be doing an overview of the non-US or Canadian players, so look forward to that! (If only I had known in high school, I would have applied myself to my German better; alas, my second best language after English is Latin, and that’s not really applicable to much of anything.)

  • Tessa Bonhomme went on Calgary’s Breakfast Television to talk about how to support the Canadian Women’s team, and about how important it is for the players to get support of their country. It’s specifically to support an event the Canadian team did in partnership with Proctor & Gamble, but I had A Strong Feeling listening to her talk about her experience of getting the gold medal in Vancouver, even as a dirty American.