Saturday, September 27, 2008

Belfast Giants top Elite league,but will they play without Thorton


The Belfast Giants are firmly atop the Elite League,playing no nonsense hockey. In a tough gritty league in smaller intimate houses. These small arenas allow for a closer view of the action that we in North America can only look at and envy. However, it also allows for many fans having a great view of the game and an active and intelligent discussion of on ice incidents. Last weekend in the winning game the against the Viper's, Giant's player/coach Steve Thorton was given a 2+2 penalty for high sticking Newcstle's Andre Payette. Late last week while those of us in the States were worried about our 401Ks Giants boards were alive with discussion over the league imposing a 9 game suspension to Thorton for an upgraded Match Penalty for Slashing.

Oh dear, oh my, the good news is that the Giant's management have quickly mounted an appeal. This will allow Thorton to "ice" or play and coach until the appeal is granted or denied. So it will be status quo until the league powers at be stroke their long gray beards and issue their opinion. Steve Thorton himself gave his answer today, leading the Giants to victory against the Edinburgh Capitals 4:3, keep up that message Stevie, but watch that stick.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Giants stomp Vipers 7:2

Who were those masked men that blew the Newcastle Vipers out of the arena tonight? The game seemed civilized enough until with only minutes to go in the third period the frustrated Vipers started a bench clearing brawl that left the ice looking like a classic yard sale. Dance cards were so full that even the Belfast equipment manager was invited into the ceili. An invitation that thankfully he turned down. It was 20 minutes until the game was able to resume action, the boys behaved themselves and after the horn shook hands on the ice, nice.

This was my first time viewing the Giants free web cast, I'm hooked and have added all home games to my date book. Now that's target marketing! The next time they meet on Giants ice will be October 18th, 1300 CST. The will also play next weekend in Newcastle on Saturday and Sunday, smart money says Saturdays game will be a ring tailed tooter!

Giants Game 2:30 pm Central time, webcast Free!

Attention all Belfast Giants fans!!! Today's home game against the Vipers will be webcast for free, simply click at the link for the Belfast Giants at right and follow the prompts. Yes, it is Mac and Windows friendly!

Go Giants!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chad Denny, Will his third time at TC be the charm?

This will be Chad Denny's third year at the rookie tournament. When Kissane and I first got a look at this forward 2 years ago he knocked our socks off. Denny seemed to have the entire package, he scored, skated well and even stood up for his line mates when necessary. But alas since he was only 18 he went back to the OHL and spent another year in Leiwston Main. Last year he arrived in camp looking very different, he seemed slow and unable to concentrate. In October Chad and his very impressive wrister were sent to Gwinnette to be nurtured by Coach Pyle. Over the course of the o8' season he moved up a few times but spent the majority on the year in Georgia and not with the Wolves.

This year is his third year out of the gate, who is going to carry his gear into Traverse City? The 18 year old who blew the doors off the place or the kid who looked like he was playing with the flu last year? OK, will the real Chad Denny stand up, it takes more than a wicked shot to succeed in the NHL, come show us what ya got !


Traverse City Michigan, all hockey roads lead north...

The action started last night in Traverse City Michigan, oh, how I wish we were there. To those of you who have followed this blog for the last year you know that only major surgery could have kept me home. This year that is exactly what did. The news is good, pathology negative but it will be a few weeks until I'm up to packing my kit and traveling to away games. But life and hockey is good and the folks at NHL network will be showing the entire weekends games starting 2:00am eastern time Monday morning, finishing late Monday night. Check your local listings for details. Can you say TVo and viewing party?

Courtesy of WK of the Thrashers roster for TC.
65 * Carter Bancks LW 5.11 169 — Lethbridge (WHL)
70 * Scott Bartlett F 5.09 165 — Middlebury (NESCAC)
57 Angelo Esposito C 6.00 190 PIT-07 (1-20) Quebec (QMJHL)
43 Riley Holzapfel C 5.11 170 ATL-06 (2-43) Moose Jaw (WHL)
53 Rylan Kaip C 6.01 188 ATL-03 (9-269) North Dakota (NCAA)
67 * Justin Larson C 6.03 195 — Mississauga (OHL)
66 * Matt Lyall C 5.11 155 — Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
46 Spencer Machacek RW 6.00 182 ATL-07 (3-67) Vancouver (WHL)
68 * Robert Mignardi C 6.00 170 — Kingston (OHL)
59 Danick Paquette RW 6.00 210 ATL-08 (3-64) Lewiston (QMJHL)
56 Tomas Pospisil LW 6.00 185 ATL-05 (5-135) Gwinnett (ECHL)
63 Matt Siddall RW 6.01 205 ATL-04 (9-270) Northern Michigan (NCAA)
61 Myles Stoesz LW 6.02 208 ATL-05 (7-207) Gwinnett (ECHL)

44 Zach Bogosian D 6.02 197 ATL-08 (1-3) Peterborough (OHL)
64 * Patrick Cusack D 6.01 194 — Lewiston (QMJHL)
55 Chad Denny D 6.03 227 ATL-05 (2-49) Gwinnett (ECHL)
62 Arturs Kulda D 6.02 194 ATL-06 (7-200) Peterborough (OHL)
52 Grant Lewis D 6.03 193 ATL-04 (2-40) Chicago (AHL)
58 * Scott Marchesi D 6.01 200 — Sacred Heart (NCAA)
60 Paul Postma D 6.02 173 ATL-07 (7-205) Calgary (WHL)

35 Chris Carrozzi G 6.03 185 ATL-08 (6-154) Mississauga (OHL)
34 * Ryan Daniels G 6.01 194 OTT-06 (5-151) Saginaw (OHL)

* denotes free-agent invitee

What caught my eye on this years list was several names that were returnees from last year, this will be Chad Denny's third appearance in camp. Grant Lewis, Riely Holzapfel, Tomas Popisil and lastly Myles Stoesz if memory serves me correctly all second year men who have seen time in Gwinnett or Chicago. Then there is Arturs Kulda who played his heart out during the Calder Cup run last season. It begs the question is this an Anderson strategy to have more experienced hands at the tournament to bring out the best in the invitees or are these guys being given a shot at the Thrash? Considering the first Wolves "friendly" game is Monday the 15th I suspect the former in most cases. Although Arturs Kulda deserves a look by Anderson and the Thrashers staff after his efforts last spring on Chicago ice.

At last years camp a standout attendee was Myles Stoesz, he was briefly in Chicago then landed for the rest of the season in Gwinnett to mature under the wing of talented coach Jeff Pyle. I had a chance to talk to Myles last October, he seemed a well spoken, polite young man in love with the game and looking forward to whatever the future was going to hand him as long as it meant a life in the game he was so dedicated to. My contacts with Gwinnett assured me he was scoring well, and was sticking up for his teammates when necessary. No goon but a classic enforcer in the making, sounds good to me.

This is what I had to say about Myles last September, a year older,wiser and ready for Chicago, I can't wait. Jr Lessard is not going to be able to take care of the entire team, Stoesz is a welcome addition to the Wolves line up in my book.

"A last possibility is this years "excitable boy", Myles Stoesz. Considering he had a fight in nearly every game he played in at camp, he could be a future enforcer. However, given the fact he also had no goals or assists on this weekend,his value to the team could be limited to protection. In modern hockey is there still a place for the man who stands up for every line change yet doesn't score? I think so, where would Alex the Great have been in Buffalo without Rob Ray? Things haven't changed that much."


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hockey is back in Ireland! Are we not we jealous?

This post is a long time coming, as many of my readers know Kissane and I have many personal ties to Ireland and we spent 10 too short days there last June. While we were there a friend, Craig Shilliday gave us the cooks tour of the site where Team Ireland and the Dundalk Bulls train and play in Dundalk Ireland. The best news is that the Dundalk Bulls are working toward joining the British Elites and becoming the second professional hockey team on the island. Presently the Bulls are at "club" level of play and the Dundalk facility (which boasts year round ice) is a alternate location for games when for various reasons the Belfast Giants usual venue of the Odyssey Arena is unavailable. It was used heavily last season during the playoffs when Momma Mia was booked into the Odyssey for the entire Giants playoff run. The venue is much smaller, but in many ways seemed to satisfy most of the Giants faithful who could get tickets.

I seem to feel may of you lot are shaking your heads over the idea that there is HOCKEY in Ireland. Yes Virgina, there is and a legion of well informed passionate fans that follow their teams all over England, Northern Ireland,Scotland and Wales. The teams are composed of "English" players, defined as where they train not necessarily just where they were born. Having a Irish or British passport is NOT enough to get you on the team (Ireland or otherwise, sorry all you Notre Dame and BC club players. You have to go to Ireland, live there and earn it!) a percentage of North American and European players. If signing patterns are an indication to this observer they are playing roughly at the AA or ECHL level.

However the fans seem to be world class. My introduction to Giant's fans started about 3 years ago on a net search. I discovered that two of my passions in life, Irish traditional music and hockey intersected in one place, Belfast. After a couple of weeks reading their unofficial boards I registered and joined the fray, got my nose bloodied a couple of times in a rule discussion and when we were "separated by a common language". In general the regulars were welcoming as long as I realized they knew their stuff and I was a guest. I was shocked to find out how many of the posters owned their own rule books, something that is rare among North American posters. It was early in the game that one poster defended my right to decent and we started to correspond via PM, this became our friend Craig. Three years later we were in Dundalk and he was proudly showing us the facility where the Olympic and Elite league blood sweat and tears will come to fruition. Tomorrow Craig and family will be at the Odyssey with their winter "hockey family" cheering on the Giants. There will be singing in the stands, chants and cups of tea, Gordy their mascot will kiss the ice, all Belfast hockey traditions, hopefully a win tonight on the road against the Cardiff Devils. How we wish we were there!