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Archive for the ‘Junior Hockey (current)’ Category

That would be a whoops on my part. Billings and Helena are part of the American West Hockey League now, having left the NorPac.

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Starting today, Rochester (MN) is the host for the USA Hockey Tier III national Tournament. Pretty darn cool. It’s from March 29th to April 3rd. Here’s the schedule (PDF).

If you so desire, you can keep track of the tourney here on Pointstreak.

I’m pretty darn interested in it, but won’t be going.

I’m interested, since the Helena Bighorns are involved; Helena was in the NAHL before, so I’ve seen them before, they’re now in the NorPac. The Billings Bulls are also an ex-NAHL team who’s now in the NorPac, who I’ve seen before.

Minnesota teams involved (from the MN Junior Hockey league) are: Northern Lights and Rochester Ice Hawks.

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It’s kind of funny, back then I was sad to see the Winnipeg Jets go to Phoenix. Now the Jets are back. Well sort of, it isn’t the same Jets: the logo and colors are anywhere near as good for starters. Still, I really don’t care; I still have yet to watch even a minute of NHL hockey this year (I don’t think I’ve even seen a highlight – I don’t watch ESPN or even watch the nightly news). Yet, watching their previous team the Manitoba Moose (they moved to Newfoundland) is appealing. Speaking of junior hockey….

I’m fascinated by the junior hockey system in Canada. There’s different levels of the junior system. The top level "Major Junior" is three leagues; the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The champions of each then meet to play for the Memorial Cup, which is pretty darn cool. It’s sort of like USA hockey’s junior nationals for Tier II (Tier I and Tier II don’t really count as "nationals", in my opinion, since Tier I is only the USHL and Tier II is only the NAHL). Which leads me to….

This time of the year I groan, because the words "World Series" is used often. There are Major League Baseball teams in more than one county, so it makes at least a minuscule more sense calling it the "World" Series than if there were only USA teams, but to me it still doesn’t work. It’s sort of like referring to the MLB, NHL, NBA, or NFL champions as World Champions. The leagues can certainly call things what they want, but I say that calling the Dallas Mavericks "World Champions" is just as silly as if the American West Hockey League started calling the their champion "National Champion", despite the fact that the league just started this year, there’s only 6 teams in it, and only 2 states are represented .

Calling your champion a "World Champion" doesn’t make sense if there is only one league involved. Calling Spain "World Champions" makes sense, due to the number of countries involved in the process (although even then it’s not comprehensive since not everyone is a FIFA member, for instance Greenland and Tibet. Calling Internazionale FC "World Champions" after winning the FIFA Club World Cup makes sense, since in order to get there you must first win your country’s league, then win your conference’s league, then win the Club World Cup tourney; never mind that the runner-up, Congolese club TP Mazembe wouldn’t be able to win with regularity against most other clubs, since in order to get there they had to first win the Linafoot, then win the CAF Champions League, to get to the FIFA Club World Cup.

So if the NHL champion wins a tourney that includes teams from other hockey leagues, then calling them World Champions makes sense.

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Something on Facebook last night got me thinking, thinking about myself and being a “fan”. With the possible exception of UMD hockey, I don’t think I can label myself as a “fan” for sports anymore. I may count certain things as interests, but I don’t think “fan” applies. Seems to me that to label myself a “fan” there’s all kind of stuff that goes along with that.

In cases like the NFL, NBA, MLB, even the NHL, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a fan. I’m not even certain how much I’m interested in them. The four leagues combined I’m not sure if I’ve watched more the three games in the last four years; haven’t watched one Superbowl, NBA Final, World Series, or Stanley Cup finals game in that time. I may hear about things going on in any of those league in my car each day, but whatever is being said I’m only mildly interested in, listening to sports talk radio is just something to have on, instead of silence, when I’m not wanting to listen to music. Like how Bostonians (is that the word?) are up in arms regarding the conduct of the Red Sox players. I heard about on the radio, but I really had no interest in any of it, it doesn’t matter to me.

Like I said UMD may be the exception, I may still label myself as a UMD “fan”, but even then I’m not so certain. I get plenty of enjoyment out of it and was very glad UMD won the National Title last season, their NCAA run was amazing. Still, if UMD was to zero wins for the next decade I really don’t think that would matter that much to me, I don’t have any expectations regarding team “performance”. Even with zero wins in a decade, I’d still want to go to games and I can’t see myself being one of the people who would be calling for a coach firing or any such thing.

It’s kind of been a lot of things that are why I’m a lot more mellow regarding sports compared to a decade ago. I’ve come to realize that “relax, it’s just a game” (this one is good too) so it’s not so often that I get worked up about sports anymore. I guess that’s why I’ve come to appreciate NCAA Division II, Division III, and junior hockey; the games are treated as just games, you don’t see the other stuff that you do in D-I or professional leagues.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I am not a “sports fan”, I’m someone who finds sports interesting from time to time.

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A very nice weekend.  We traveled a little bit, but still it felt like a home weekend.

Saturday we had a relaxing morning at home.  We then drove up to Eagan and went to Lebanon Hills Park and looked at the lake.  Lebanon Hills Park was the place of Amy and my second date back in 2004, although the area of Lebanon Hills where we went back then is closed right now for some sort of construction.  We then met my aunt Cynthia at Burnsville Mall, where she got Kaelyn some clothes.  We finished out day by going to our friend Kim’s house.

Sunday we ended up going up to Bloomington to the Mall of America area to Ikea.  We found a leather desk chair for $40 (we were using a folding chair for the desk prior to that).  We got Kaelyn a light for her wall that’s a blue star.  We also got a couple of furniture pieces for putting shoes in, for our back hallway.

I installed NHL2004 on our computer and I’m going to do a mod of it.  It’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve done so.  With me not having much time it’ll take a long time to do a project, so maybe I’ll end up giving up on it, but I’ve been missing the creative modding process.  I’m thinking I’m just going to throw in junior hockey teams for different leagues.  Not sure which is the NHL2004 leagues I’ll mod over;  moding over the NHL would mean more teams, but that would take forver, maybe I’ll just mod over the german league instead.

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Last night I watched Carleton’s women’s football(soccer) team play UW-La Crosse; Ellie Wilson scored in the second overtime for a Knights 1-0 win, Beth Ashinsky got the shutout. 

I picked up Kaelyn and we went to watch it (missed the first half) and Amy showed up after she was done with work (although they both left early, Kaelyn had an accident – she’s still learning to use the toilet).  Not a lot of great chances, but the play was pretty even and both teams came close to scoring a couple of times in regulation (Carleton hit the bar once).

Going to watch either of the Carleton football teams play in the fall is really wonderful.  You sit on a grass-covered hill, with the game going on below you, with the fall-colored trees in the background, and occasional Canadian Honkers flying by.  Really, there’s not much that can compare. 

Sitting there I just couldn’t help thinking that it sure seems that Division II and Division III NCAA athletics is what sports are supposed to be.  It could be just me though, judging from “professional” sports and NCAA Division I attendance.  Division II and Division III athletics is wonderful because:

  • There’s no problem getting to the event – traffic is either non-existent or not really a problem
  • It’s cheap to watch; sometimes it’s free, but even when you do pay you’re not having to worry about cost like when you go to Division I or “professional” sports game (paying for tickets, paying for parking, ticket processing fees, etc).
  • Very little fanatical stuff going on;  people are just simply watching the game, cheering for their team, and it’s very rare you see the “woofing” that happens in the Division I or “profession” sporting events.  Going to a D-II or D-III game you’re a ton less likely to encounter violence than at a D-II or “professional” sporting event.
  • Little to no advertising: Watching the game you are subjected to almost no ads, certainly none of the “that blocked punt was brought to you by Ed’s furniture and firearms.  Just remember if you want a new sofa and are worried about protecting it, come to Ed’s”. 
  • Rivalries/conferences:  Especially with the recent conference changes in Division I (gridiron-)football and hockey, it just seems that the conferences don’t make a lot of sense (Seriously, Colorado is in the Pac-10? What’s “Pac” about Colorado?).  Case in point, the MIAC has 13 schools and every single one is in Minnesota.  Thus traveling to see a road game is much more convenient and the rivalries make more sense.  Heck, in case you are a St. Olaf or Carleton College fan, if you want to see them play an away game you have a 5 minute drive since both teams are in Northfield.

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I’m on a junior hockey kick right now, so I’m going with it.  Somewhere around 2004 I discovered this thing called “junior hockey”.  Prior to that I had heard of it, but really didn’t know what it was.  Not entirely sure how I discovered it, but since then I’ve grown some appreciation for it. 

Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned about junior hockey is that change happens all the time:  teams move from city to city, teams move from league to league, teams change names, teams discontinue.  When it comes to sports I suppose the term conservative fits;  I’m generally against rule changes, teams moving etc.  Yet, when it comes to junior hockey I don’t mind the changes.  While I like seeing the same teams, the changing in teams is sort-of refreshing to me, not sure why that is.  Maybe it’s similar to Han Shot First!!!! , which although I really like Star Wars I really don’t care if Han shot first or second or never.

For junior hockey, I started out following the NAHL to begin with.  Here’s what happened to the NAHL teams since I began following (using Wikiedia as a guide, which I risky of course):

  • Billings Bulls:  Moved from from the NAHL to the Nor-Pac and now are in the American West Hockey League
  • Bozeman Ice Dogs:  Same story as Billings
  • Helena Bighorns:  Same as above
  • Texarkana Bandits:  Still in NAHL, moved from Texas to St. Louis, now known as the St. Louis Bandits.
  • Farg0-Moorhead Jets:  Team disbanded
  • Southern Minnesota Express: A mess, but still in the NAHL (actually in the NAHL twice now).  First team moved to Detoit (MI) and became known as the Motor City Machine, now in Jamestown (NY) and are the Ironmen.  A second unrelated NAHL team started and were known as the Owatonna Express.  They moved to Odessa (TX) and became the Odessa Jackalopes.
  • Toledo Icediggers:  Still in NAHL, moved to Alpena (MI) and then to Corpus Christie (TX) and are now the Icerays
  • North Iowa Outlaws:  Still in NAHL, moved to Onalaska (WI) and are known as the Coulee Region Chill
  • Springfield Spirit:  Still in the NAHL, moved to Wasilla (AK) and then moved to Palmer (AK) and became the Avalanche
  • Santa Fe RoadRunners:  Still in the NAHL, moved to Topeka (KS)

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