Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hello, It's me...

Hello readers it has been too long.

I have to apologize, when I took on the position of photographer and writer for Call of the Wild I honestly thought I could keep up both blogs. I can't, no matter how hard I try there are just not enough hours left in the day. I will keep this blog active in case I need to express something that my voice on ChicagoNow can't. However for the moment to continue to see my photos and words please go to or just follow the link at the right.

Thank you for your loyalty over the past years, I'm just a different click away.

Jane Rickard

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicago Wolves Fire Coach Granato and Christie!

It has been a long season of losses for Chicago Wolves fans and the rumors of a coaching change have been flying thick and fast. Today at 12:37 the Wolves front office announced that Head Coach Don Granato and Assistant Coach Jason Christie services were no longer required by the club. In the brief association Powderhornhockey had with Don Granato he was accessible and open. We wish him and his family well in where ever life takes him.

Tonight there is a swirl of activity and speculation regarding the men or women that will replace these coaches. Many names are being mentioned from several leagues and states. For now the Wolves are remaining quiet and are sticking to their plans to announce the new personnel before Fridays game. Oh, it is going to be a busy week on the fan boards until game time Friday!

Davy Phillips Update, A Giant Still Walks Among Us...

Last July a contact in Northern Ireland wrote me with the news that “a Giant was going to walk among ye.” Davy Phillips was going to have a try out at the Black Hawks prospect camp. To say the least there was excitement in Belfast among Giants fans. A few days later I found myself watching David Phillips, as the roster listed him show of his skills at camp. He impressed me as a solid stay at home defense man who, bless him could be counted on to stick with a goalie. Phillips looked like the product of good coaching, ready for the AHL and a good fit for Rockford.

After his last scrimmage with the Blackhawks Patrick Kissane and I did a brief interview with him where he was noncommittal but confident considering his future in hockey. The major difference between the European game and what he had experienced in Chicago was size of ice and difference in training of the players. He seemed a young man living on the cusp of his dreams.

Since those moments in the United Center “Phily “ as he is called by his fellow IceHogs has signed an American Hockey League contract, moved into his flat and is adjusting to life in the US. He seems well matched with Rockford, an arena where they dance for every goal and sing chants to the opposing goalie. Much like Davy's previous home with the Belfast Giants. Last Saturday I had a chance to meet with him again after a game. When asked what is the major adjustment he has had to make, again it is the size of the ice. The small ice we play on in North America compared with the larger European ice makes for a faster game. It also demands a quicker mental and physical response time from players. Philips stated he now has to “think faster” on the ice specifically due to this.

There have also been alterations in his conditioning, a core muscle regimen has been added as part of post game cool downs and individual electrolyte drinks. A chance from the single flavor and brand he had in Belfast.

Apparently it hasn't all been training and nutrition. When asked what is his favorite American food he thought a minute and answered “ I don't know if you can call them food, but Reeses Peanut Butter Cups” Good choice Davy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Belfast Giant Among Us!

Davy Phillips late of Belfast and of the Belfast Giants looking good in a Rockford IceHogs uniform. Here are a few photos there will be lots more, very soon...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicago Wolves Lose Home Opener to Milwaukee 3:2

Sad but true the Wolves lost their home opener to old rivals the Milwaukee Admirals 3:2 at the Allstate arena on October 3rd. The home crowd left the arena hoping for better things from what looks to be one of the most gifted line ups the Wolves have ever seen but one that simply played 20 minutes of hockey on opening night. Coach Granato has presented fans this year with a tasty mix heavy with vets and as light on youngsters as possible. Returnees include Jason Krog, Kevin Doell, Brett Sterling, Spencer Machaeck,Grant Lewis, Nathan Oystrick , Yes NATHAN OYSTRICK sent down from a blueline heavy Atlanta and Joey Crabb.

The current hot gossip is that veteran Chris Chelios is set to sign with the Wolves. Indeed he is going to skate with the team on Monday and that. is all the Wolves office is willing to confirm. Like Atlanta the Wolves are blueline heavy if Chelios does join the team as a player they will have to show one on the roster the door. To my eyes the one most likely to see the gate is Brian Sipotz.

As always here are some images of opening night!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wolves-a new blog Belfast Giants Struggle.

There have been big changes happening behind the scenes at Powderhornhockey, it is a great pleasure to announce that a new sister blog has been created at The blog is entitled "Call of the Wild " a nod to it's primary subject the Chicago Wolves. You can reach it easily by it's link This new challenging assignment is going to ask the most of me as a artist and as a photographer, I'm looking forward to it!

The Belfast Giants are having some difficult days. They are below 500 and are struggling with a near nonexistent PP and are simply unable to stay out of the sin bin. The one bright spot seems to be Sean McMorrows dance card which seems to be filling up. In last Saturdays game it was reported that not only did he have a fight but he impressed Panther fans by standing in the tunnel and flexing his muscles for the fans amusement gaining him a game misconduct. That's the Sean McMorrow we know and love!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rumblings of the Giant

Ohhh there are rumblings of discontent from Giant fans and followers alike. The season has barely started and they have not done well, if I'm reading the statics correctly they got their first power play goals this weekend. Yesterday they lost in a heart breaker to the Coventry Blaze and today in a 2:0 shut out to the Newcastle Vipers. Possibly the one man feeling the pressure the most in Belfast City is Canadian Sean McMorrow. A classic old school enforcer McMorrow has not only had a blank dance card this season but there have been reports of players refusing enter into banter with him. This has to place the man brought over to protect skill players and fulfill a role on the team, all be it partially entertainment, difficult. There were reports of him leaving the box in the second period for a shift, falling forward and leaving the ice promptly, hopefully unhurt. The new sheriff in town must be one frustrated guy by now. However it is early days, if there are chemistry problems disrupting the locker room Coach Thornton needs to get on the stick. As for the PP and the dodgy penalty kill- time for more than a few long captain's practices.

I found a bit of history while researching another matter, the story of Hockey's first professional woman goalie. I'm not going to retell it the story is his and most importantly hers.

The story was simple but it was best told form Leonard "Oakie" Brumm her coaches eyes. The material is from The Marquette Iron Rangers Site:

'How pro hockey's first woman goalie took the world by storm-right here in Marquette-as told by her coach.

With the tremendous growth of girl's hockey, especially here in the far north, I think it would be interesting to the sport's fans and female players to where when and where the first woman hockey player made her debut and how she fared. It happened in October 1969 at the old Palestra Ice Arena in Marquette. It came at opening tryouts for the Marquette Iron Rangers when all comers war invited to show their skills. I was the coach for the Iron Rangers, a very strong senior United States Hockey League team, and the woman player was Karen Koch (pronounced "Cook") from Gibraltar, Michigan.

In those days the first night of Iron Ranger practice was a combination of a happening, a civic event, and a circus with some serious hockey mixed in. Several players from the previous season were signed to contracts and two or three good players were signed or about to sign. Then, there were the usual ten to fifteen guys who either felt they were good enough to make the team, had been goaded into trying out by their friends, or had bragged about their hockey skills all summer. Now it was time to "put up or shut up!"

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula it was every young hockey player’s dream back then to someday get paid for playing hockey. The Iron Rangers, or some other USHL team was usually their only practical chance to get paid for playing. Salaries ranged from $25 per game for marginal rookies to $100 or more per game for top-notch players with a Division I college, minor league experience or occasionally a former NHL player on the way to retirement. The USHL was a good deal for many excellent hockey players because they could hold down full-time jobs and still get some decent money for playing a game they probably would have played for fun.

Besides, in those days there were only eight or nine NHL teams (the first expansion took place the previous Year, 1968). At that time, the USHL had ninety-five percent of the best American hockey players, many Canadian Junior "A" graduates who had recently graduated from U.S. Division I universities and were not quite good enough for the NHL but wanted to continue playing while they started their chosen careers.

The league was strong and the Iron Rangers were the defending champions. Interest in the team for the coming year was extremely high, so fan attendance at the first practice was high as well. By 1969 I had coached for eighteen seasons, so I was used to all kinds of hype and confusion. I had a pretty good idea which players I could count on, which new players should make the team and how to let down gently those who simply were not good enough to play. Consequently the Iron Rangers always had one or two guys coming out of nowhere to become solid team members. The best example was the Carlson/Hanson Brothers, later famous for the movie Slap Shot.

I got a big surprise. Our regular goalie was Brian Lunney, who had been sent to us by the Toronto Maple Leafs via the Canadian Olympic Team. Outnumber One backup was Lonnie Lytaikainen, a local kid who showed great promise. Both were on the ice along with two goalies I had never seen before and hadn't expected. After a brief talk to the entire group (four goalies and about twenty-five players), we did some preliminary skating drills and easy shooting drills so everyone had a chance to show what they had. Of course, our best goalie looked good, our backup looked pretty good, but one of the two newcomers couldn't stop a basketball with a snowshoe. The other one looked surprisingly quick and made some nice saves in spite of being small.

We'd been working for twenty minutes when Barry Cook, our captain, skated up to me and said, "Coach, did you know that little squirt of a goalie is a girl?"

"What!" I said. "How do you know?"

"One of the kids from Northern (Michigan University) told me," he said.

I quickly asked him to take the practice so I could talk to her myself. She had given no indication that she was a woman. All players were required to wear helmets, so with the helmets and goalie pads it was impossible to tell she was a female. I motioned her off to the side where we could talk without being run into or hit by a puck. She was extremely apprehensive and wouldn’t look at me. (I found out later that she had expected me to kick her off the ice).

Finally she told me her name was Karen Koch, she was eighteen years old and she had enrolled at Northern Michigan University specifically to try out for the Iron Rangers. She had been playing hockey and lacrosse with the boys in Gibraltar ever since she could remember. She went on to say that none of the senior teams in the Detroit area would give her a tryout. She said she had heard nothing but good things about the Iron Rangers and felt she could make the team. She desperately didn't want to be cut without a fair tryout.

I thought to myself, A girl goalie...what if she gets hurt? Where is she going to change clothes? Just how good is she? For one of the few times in my life I didn't know what to do. She had done nothing to justify cutting her. So I told her we should see how well she did and that she'd be given a fair tryout.

In subsequent practices she showed remarkable ability. Her only drawback was her size. Both of our goalies were big guys. They stopped more pucks by accident than she did on purpose.

Hockey's First Female Pro, Karen Koch

Koch's presence on the squad brought complaints from the veteran players, but even they admitted she was surprisingly good and probably equal to our regular backup goalie. Their griping was far overshadowed by the national publicity she generated after her photo was run in the daily and weekly newspapers. We got calls from the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters and newspapers, radio and TV stations from all over the U.S. and Canada. It was a major news story. And, all the while Karen Koch was stopping pucks and earning her place on the squad. When it came time to cut the team down to eighteen players and two goalies; I changed the number and kept seventeen players and three goalies, including Lunney, Lytaikainen and Koch. Koch signed a contract for $40 per game. As far as I know she was the first female player ever to do so in the world.

She played as well as any of our previous backup goalies when I was able to use her. She wasn't solid enough to start and play regularly because the league simply was too good. Word of her being on the squad preceded our first game of the season in the Canadian Soo. She caused so much interest that Soo officials called and insisted that she be announced as the starting goalie to swell attendance. City staff arranged for the Mayor of Sault St. Marie, Ontario, who had been a pretty good hockey player in years past, to take a pre-game penalty shot at Karen-the Mayor going in all-alone against the world's only female goalie. Her presence, along with the highly anticipated "shootout”, filled the arena and she received a standing ovation when she stopped the Mayor's shot. He received taunting boos as he returned to the stands. She played the first period, giving up tow goals on twelve shots as the Iron Rangers left the ice trailing 2-0. Lunney finished the game with the Iron Rangers winning 5-3.

Later on Koch again filled the Green Bay Arena when the rumor spread that she was going to start against the Bobcats. I hadn't planned to start her, but the sight of more than 5,000 fans in the arena changed my mind. I decided it would be good for hockey and for the Green Bay coffers. She played half of the first period but had to come out when she took one of Paul Coppo's slap shots on the knee above her leg pad and below her thigh pad. The score was 1-1 at the time.

As the season wore on Koch reached a plateau in her ability, partially caused by her small size. She never missed a practice and finally was accepted by all but the most chauvinist guys on the team. Unfortunately, she seemed to have a "death wish" for a facial scar caused by a hockey puck in a USHL game. She simply and consistently defied my orders to wear a mask while playing. After flagrantly removing her mask during all of the games after Christmas, I was forced to let her go with about ten games remaining in the schedule.

Koch left NMU the next semester and went to Canada to play in the Toronto area. She again made headlines throughout North America when she was barred by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association from playing on men's teams.

Today Karen is a legal secretary in Minneapolis. After her hockey days, she earned bachelors degree at Wayne State University and a Master's degree at the University of Dayton, both in the Liberal Arts. She holds a black belt in judo and is training in jujitsu. She also is writing and is illustrating her first children's book."

What I found most interesting is she thought of herself as just someone who wanted to play hockey, to simply be taken for her skills in a mans world. Isn't what we fought for as feminists in the 70's? I also found it curious that ultimately what may ended her career was her refusal to wear protective equipment, to this nurse very hard to understand. Someday I'd like to talk to her about this and other things.