Hockey legacies – The Red Army Program

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Soviets Celebrate A Gold Medal At The 1984 Olympics

Sept.5th 2016

By Dane Frizzell

With the World Cup of Hockey starting soon, it is time to look at some of the biggest international hockey stories.

The Soviet Red Army Hockey Team is one of the most interesting and impacting clubs of the past 50 years. During the 1970’s and 80’s, a team built on dedication and discipline took the world by storm. A government run and military established hockey team built to spread soviet propaganda and power, quickly became the best.

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Antatoli Tarasov in 1994

After the Second World War, Antatoli Tarasov was asked to put together a hockey program from scratch. He founded a hockey department at CSKA Moscow. Before this, the most common sport in the Soviet Union was bandy. A sport similar to field hockey but, played on the ice. Bandy focused on passing perfection, skating skills and overall team mentality.  Everything the soviets prided in their program. Tarasov also looked at ballet and chess as inspiration to building his program. With only about a hundred hockey rule books and little knowledge the program was born and began to recruit it’s players. As a coach and director, his personal ideas and thoughts on the game were revolutionary. He gave his life building plays and practices in order to develop his players. Focusing on passing and hard and long physically draining practices, Tarasov turned his players into machines. The teams quickly became unified and worked as a group opposed to individuals.  Known as the father of Soviet and Russian hockey, Tarasov quickly grew respect from his country and his players.

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Paul Henderson celebrates the eventual winning goal of the 1972 Summit Series

 

The team quickly grew international attention. Participating in tournaments in Russia and participating in the 1972 Summit Series, the Canada Cup tournament and the Olympic games, the Red Army proved to be one of the highest skilled teams of their generation. The team won nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament between 1954 and 1991 and never failed to medal in any International Ice Hockey Federation tournament they competed in. With precision and military minded players, the team proved mightier than the competition. Although beaten at times in the Summit Series and in the memorable Miracle On Ice, the Soviets changed the way hockey was taught and thought of in North America.

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USSR Coach Viktor Tikhanov

The Russian players played together all year around. With the decline of Antatoli Tarasov, Viktor Tikhanov gained the head coaching position for the team. The strict coach would have his players in his fist.  As a general in the army, Tikhanov controlled his players and would often keep them away from their families and the outside world. The thought of defection was a constant fear for Tikhanov. He would often cut players he felt were going to betray their team and country. He maintained the same coaching style of Tarasov and continued to push forward with the same core players. Years after the fall of the Soviet Union, players and personal would come forward and tell tales of Tikhanov’s brutality and extremely hard relationships with his team. With a fresh coach, the team would go on to continue their world dominance and produce some of the finest players in the world. Including the Russian Five.

Russian Five

Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov

The Russian Five were the strongest players on the Red Army Team and grew up playing together from a young age in the Soviet Union. The precision passing and knowledge of where each player was at all times on the ice, made them dominate international hockey players. Sergei Makarov is the all time leading scorer for the Soviet Union International Hockey Team. Larionov led the revolt with Fetisov against Soviet authorities that prevented Soviet players to defect to the NHL. After loads of frustration, false promises and 8 years of fighting, Larionov was finally allowed to join the Vancouver Canucks Alexander Mogilny was the first Soviet player to defect to the NHL and in 1989 joined the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. The other four players of the Russian five joined Larionov in the NHL and slowly began to make an impact in North America.

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Legendary Coach Scotty Bowman

In 1995, the Detroit Red Wings would build their own Russian Five. Through trades and signings, Detroit Red Wings own Scotty Bowman brought together the five-man unit. Leading the Red Army line through a spectacular display of their prowess in which they played a two-minute shift at both ends of the ice, denying all attempts at defensive maneuvering. The five skater group included forwards Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov with Vladimir Konstantinov and Viacheslav Fetisov on defense. The five players prided themselves in puck possession and accurate passing often stalling entry into the offensive zone in order to settle down the play and control the puck. These five Russian players would help the Red Wings win the 1996-1997 Stanley Cup.

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Detroit Red Wings Russian Five

With more and more players leaving the crumbling team and the USSR dissolving into what is now the Russian Federation, the once mighty Red Army Hockey program was gone. Many players continued to play in the Russian federation, but many explored careers in the NHL and elsewhere in the world.  With players finally free from Tikhanov’s draining regime, they could explore options elsewhere and be free to live their lives how they please. The Red Army model slowly became extinct. The number of players adept in this style began to dwindle, as the system’s influence faded. The impact of this team and its program is still being felt today. Hockey in Russia is still their most popular sport. Children dream of playing the sport professionally and the honor of representing their country is visible. Russian stars in Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are the faces of Russian hockey these days. The amount of pride the players have for their country is comparable to none. Without Antatoli Tarasov building the program, or Alexander Mogilny defecting for a new career, it is impossible to be certain if these great players would be in North America impressing and entertaining the fans.

 

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10 questions with former NHL defenseman Jason Strudwick

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Sept 3rd, 2016

By Dane Frizzell

This week we have former NHL defenseman Jason Strudwich joining us to talk about his career in the big league, life after hockey and what it’s like to host his own TV show.

Dane – “Thanks for joining us today

Jason – “Great to chat with you!”

Dane – “You played your first NHL game on March 30 1996. You ended up fighting Kelly Chase. What was it like fighting a guy like Kelly in your first game in the league, and what emotions were going through your head at the time?”

Jason – “At that point I didn’t know if I would play in the NHL again. I really wanted to have a memory if it was my only game. The easiest way was to get into a fight. I knew of Chase’s reputation and that he would make it happen for me!”

Dane – “You scored 13 goals in your NHL career including an overtime beauty. What was your most memorable goal in your career?”

Jason – “Was it 13?! Not to shabby! I didn’t score many but I had some fun ones. My first would be the most special. Scoring in LA was very cool. I remember all my teammates being as excited or more excited than me!”

Dane – Over a span of 15 seasons you played on 5 different NHL teams. Where was your favorite place to play, and where did you most feel at home?”

Jason – “All 5 cities were special in their own way. It was special to play at MSG in New York. Very cool building in the middle of a great city. Coming home to finish in Edmonton was great. We did not have the best team in the league but playing in front of family and friends that supported me on the way up was great.”

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Madison Square Garden

Dane – “You fought 195 times over your career including your days in the WHL. Who is the toughest player you fought, and who what was your most memorable fight?”

Jason – “I didn’t know it was that many! wow. I was a busy guy. I never felt I was a fighter. I was a guy who could fight if needed. There was a big difference in my mind. There were some tough guys but Laraque is still at the top the list. So strong it was hard to get anything going on him.”

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Georges Laraque

Dane – “You played on one of the best junior teams in the history of hockey, the Kamloops Blazers. What was it like to play on such a dominant team and to play with future hall of famers?”

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1994-95 Kamloops Blazers 

Jason – “At the time we did not know how good of a team we were. Young guys coming together that loved spending time with each other and wanted to compete. There were so many competitive players. It really made the difference. Don Hay was the perfect coach for that group!”

Dane – “You are now a radio host in Edmonton. What made you pursue a media job after you retired from the game?”

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Jason – “I am now actually hosting Dinner Tv on City. I made the move in May of 2015. Really enjoyed the radio. My good friend Jason Gregor invited to be a part of his radio show. It evolved into a career!”

Dane – “Who was the most agitating player you ever played against? What made him such a pain to play against?”

Jason – “I never really got too rattled by pests. I could see through their games! I would get more into it when they went after our top player. I played with Sean Avery and I couldn’t believe how rattled he would get the other team. I remember the Devils going crazy when he was on his game. They would lose focus and make it much easier for the rest of us!”

Dane – “You played a couple seasons overseas. What was the experience like and how big is the game over there compared to North America?”

Jason – “I really enjoyed my time in Europe. I loved living there and being a part of the country instead of just visiting. I recommend it to all my friends. The hockey was a lot to play as well. I know I improved after playing in Switzerland. The big ice and my bigger role got me making plays again! I played quite a few more NHL seasons after that year.”

Dane – “There are fewer fights in NHL games these days. Do you think fighting still plays a role in our sport?”

Jason – “Fighting has and will continue to go down. I can see the day where there is no fighting at all. I do think it is a good way to calm a game down. I like hard, fast hockey that drives up the intensity.”

Dane – “Over your career, who was your most influential coach? How did he support you and make you a better and stronger player?”

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Jason – “In the NHL is was Marc Crawford. From his first practice with us he was all over me every practice. At the time I didn’t understand he was trying to make me better. Looking back I really appreciate him taking the time. He understood what type of player I was destined to be and pushed me well into that style. It served me well.”

Dane – “Thanks for doing this, hope to do this again sometime.”

Jason – “Thanks for having me!”

10 questions with recently retired towering linesman Mike Cvik

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Tuesday February 9th, 2016

By Dane Frizzell

Our weekly interview segment continues today. This week’s guest is recently retired NHL linesman Mike Cvik. Cvik worked over 1800 games in the National Hockey League. Cvik also worked the 2002 Gold Medal game in Salt Lake City and had the chance to see Wayne Gretzky score his 802nd goal to pass Gordie Howe on the all-time scoring list. The 6’9 linesman is considered one of the NHL’s strongest linesman in the leagues history. We had a chance to talk to Cvik and ask him about his journey to the NHL.

Dane – “Thanks for joining us today! It’s a pleasure to have you do an interview with us.”

Mike – “Thank you Dane. Its my pleasure to chat with you about my 29 years as a linesman in the NHL.”

Dane – “How are you enjoying retirement? What has been the biggest change in your lifestyle so far?”

Mike – “Well, its been almost a month now and it really hasn’t hit me yet as I’m dealing with a fractured ankle that i sustained in the final 5;30 of my last game when JT Brown clipped my skates and i fell in front of the Flames bench. My right skate got caught in the ice as i fell and my body and knee twisted. At the time i thought it was just an ankle sprain.
The biggest change right now is I’m home all the time and not running around trying to get things done before I leave on a road trip which was usually anywhere from 7-12 days. Trying to fill up my daytime hours as i cant even go to the gym.”

Dane – “What was it like to be chosen as the third star in your last game? That is the first time an official has received that honor.”

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Mike – “It was a complete surprise. I was honoured, it was humbling. Sitting in the dressing room between the 2nd and 3rd period my phone suddenly goes off. Im sitting there wondering who could possibly be calling me as everyone knows I’m working tonight. By the time i grab it and look at it i see it was Kelly Hrudey that called. Kelly was calling to ask me would i stay on the ice and go for the skate if i was named a star. I missed the call and went out for the 3rd period. Apparently the guys in the penalty box told the other officials that i couldn’t leave after the game..they knew, i didn’t…when they wouldn’t let me off the ice and i heard Beesley tell the crowd they were doing the 3 starts in reverse order tonight, it hit me. When i heard my name announced as 3rd star, it hit me hard emotionally as it then became evident to me the respect that i have in the hockey community as a whole. I talked to Kelly a week after and relayed to him my thoughts on it, how great it was, how emotional…I couldn’t thank him enough as it was a very proud moment for me and my family and friends.”

Dane – “You had the chance to experience the first half of the NHL’s first season of expanded video review. Are you a fan of it or did you think it hurt the integrity of the officials and the league?”

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Mike – “Im a fan of getting it right. Our Team mantra this season is “getting it right”. When it was introduced to us at training camp we understood it was for the egregious offside that for whatever reason we don’t react to on the ice. It has morphed into very close replays that right now take a lot of time to look at as they are that close and the camera angles sometimes are not the best at giving us the best look at it. As one VP of a team relayed to me, this process has really shown the hockey people how good the linesman really are at making the correct judgements in real time. I believe it helps the integrity of the league as they recognize how fast and good these players at the NHL level really are, and how good we are. We are not flawless, but we are pretty close.”

Dane – “You had the opportunity to work the 2002 Olympic Gold Medal game in Salt Lake City. What was it like to work a game on the world stage?”

Mike – “It was mind blowing. To be selected as one of the NHL representatives was an honour. Then to work the games and get selected to work in the gold medal game, with 2 North American teams, it was totally overwhelming. In discussions with Bill McCreary after we were told we were working the game, he said to me that its a precedent that 2 North American Officials are working 2 North American teams in a gold medal game…….take that as a fantastic compliment that the IIHF is comfortable in doing that. I had butterflies walking across the parking lot to the rink at 9:45 in the morning.”

Dane – “You played hockey until you were 17 years old. What made you become an official?”

Mike – “I realized that my ability as a hockey player would never be good enough to get me anywhere. My brother played a higher calibre level of hockey and back then, each team supplied an official to work the games. My brothers coach came to me one day when a father didn’t show up and asked me if i would be the team referee. They would pay me. I said sure. During the course of those game, I was approached by a gentleman at the West Hillhurst Arena and was asked if i ever thought of becoming a certified referee. He explained the process. I took the weekend course and here i sit 39 years later after a pretty successful pro career.”

Dane – “The WHL has become one of the finest junior hockey leagues in the world. You worked 7 seasons with the league. What is your fondest memory of your time in the WHL?”

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Mike – “At the time, your just caught up in being involved in the best Junior hockey in North America. It went from just getting a few games as a rookie, to working past January, then getting into the playoffs, then working through the playoffs to the WHL Finals. Seeing a lot of the players you officiated go on to get drafted and play in the NHL. You visualize yourself in the same place as them, getting the call from the NHL to go work in the Pros. I owe a lot to Rick Doerksen, who at the time was the Referee in Chief. He must have seen something in this big gangly kid as he took a chance on me, and i was rewarded with his confidence as i did work a lot of big games during the seasons, and eventually was picked to work the Memorial Cup in 1986 in Portland, Oregon. Of the 7 guys that worked that year in the Memorial Cup, at one time all 7 had been employed by the NHL. It was a great group that Rick put together and I could be mistaken but i don’t think that was ever replicated again.”

Dane – “Is there a NHL referee or linesman you looked up to or modeled yourself after throughout your career?”

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Mike – “There was a few actually….Wayne Forsey gave me some great advise and mentoring as i worked my way through the ranks. He was ahead of his time in respects to how he treated fitness as a very important part of his career. Dan Marouelli…what a fantastic skater. If i could only have skated as effortlessly as he did. Kerry Frasers knowledge of the rules…Swede Knox and Randy Mitton..Jim Christison, Ryan Bozak, Gerard Gauthier, Ray Scapinello, Bob Meyers, Wayne Bonney, Leon Stickle, John D’Amico….all the guys that were full time NHL guys when i got hired….they all had good things to pass along to a young guy. It was how you applied them to your game as to how you were received on the ice.”

Dane – “You were on the ice when Wayne Gretzky scored his record breaking goal. What was it like to share the ice with Wayne and just how loud was that building that night?”

 

 

Mike – “I first met Wayne in 1986 at the Memorial Cup as he was the owner of the Hull Olympiques. Pat Burns was his coach. He remembered me from 1986 when i got hired full time in the NHL. I was on the ice for a lot of his records. That night was incredible. When he picked up the puck and went in on Kirk McLean, shot and scored…the Forum in LA went crazy. The Kings players went crazy. I raced to the net to grab the puck. We had instructions before the game that if Wayne did score, the puck went right to Pete Demers the LA Kings trainer. I leaned in before a Kings player could grab it. All i can remember after that is i held the puck out in front of me so everyone could see me take it from the net to Pete. The ceremony on the ice for him was great, and well deserved. Before we dropped the puck to start after the ceremony, i was standing in front of the LA bench. I moved down to where Wayne was sitting and i leaned into the bench and told him congratulations…..and it was an honour to be on the ice when he passed that milestone. He was very humble in his response and the game continued.”

Dane – “As a linesman you had the task of breaking up quite a few fights. Is there one fight in your mind that was the toughest to break up?”

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Mike – “The one fight that comes to mind was in Detroit. Philadelphia was playing there. I believe it was Konstatinoff accidentally hit Tim Kerr in the face with his stick….it cut him pretty bad…Dave Brown was on the ice. Dave went crazy and wanted to get at the defenseman. I cut him off and tried to keep him from getting to Konstatinoff…it seemed to me at the time that i wrestled with him for an hour, when in actual time it was probably only a minute to minute and a half. I finally got him close enough to the bench that I think it was Craig Berube yelled at Dave and he came back to reality, stopped wrestling with me. I guided him top the players bench. I have never in my career been that tired after restraining a player from trying to get at another.”

Dane – “Who is the toughest and most passionate player or coach you ever officiated? Was there someone who would give you a hard time on the ice, but when the game over, and all was said and done you just called a truce?”

Canada's head coach Quinn watches his team's practice at the 2009 IIHF U20 World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa in this file photo

 

Mike – “Oh there was lots of passionate players and coached through my career….Pat Quinn, god rest his soul…Terry Crisp…Michel Bergeron, coach of the Nordiques, Doug Risebrough, Glen Sather, John Torterellia, Doug McLean, Ken Hitchcock, Theo Fleury, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, just to name a few. You dont get to the NHL level and stay there unless you have a great passion for the game. Pretty much all of them could be tough during the game, but the attitude was what happened on the ice stayed on the ice…games over so why relive it…”

Dane – “Thanks for joining us today! Hope you enjoy your time off the ice.”

Mike – “Thanks Dane…it was a pleasure to chat with you and go down memory lane and recall some of the best things, albeit a fraction of what i can remember from 29 years in the NHL.

Top Prospects put on a show in Vancouver!

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January 29th, 2016

By Dane Frizzell

 

The coliseum was alive thursday night as Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 3-2 at this year’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Ty Ronning of the Vancouver Giants opened the scoring at 3:09 of the first period.

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Credit to Kevin Light Photography

The game would remain 1-0 after one period of play. Goaltenders  Evan Fitzpatrick of the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips would prove to be the difference makers in the first half of the game. Both made fantastic saves and proved why they were Top Prospects. Just after the ten minute mark of the second period, the goaltenders would switch.  Fitzpatrick was replaced by Zach Sawchenko of the Moose Jaw Warriors, while Hart gave way to Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes. At 17:09 of the second period, the game would see its second goal. Pascal Laberge of the Victoriaville Tigres would finish after a great move. Team Cherry held a 22-20 edge on the shot clock after 40 minutes.

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Credit to Kevin Light photography

With 10:20 remaining in the third period, Laberge would score another one. After a quick pivot, the Team Orr forward snapped a puck past Sawchenko for a 2-1 lead. Team Cherry wasn’t done there. Just minutes later, Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfire would finish on a great pass from Jordan Kyrou of the Sarnia Sting.

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Credit to Kevin Light photography

The tie wouldn’t last for long. Right off the face off and 11 seconds after Team Cherry tied the game up, Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Brenton Sreaming Eagles would score off a great pass from Laberge making it 3-2 for Team Orr.

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Credit to Kevin Light Photography

Team Cherry would throw everything on net in the tail end of the game but goaltender Dylan Wells would put up a brick wall to secure a victory for Team Orr.

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Credit to Kevin Light Photography

Laberge earned Team Orr Player of the Game honours, while Michael McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads received the recognition for Team Cherry. The game was enjoyed by over ten thousand fans in an extremely loud and energetic Pacific Coliseum.

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Credit to Kevin Light photography

Day one recap – 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

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Wednesday January 27, 2016

By Dane Frizzell

Team Orr and Team Cherry showed off their skills today as players were put to the test in a combine like setting at the Pacific Coliseum.

Players were tested in multiple off ice and on ice drills focusing on stick handling, speed, agility, and mobility.

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Photo credit to Kevin Underhill.

There were loads of NHL personnel on hand evaluating and taking in the action. We had the chance to catch up with General Manager Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks.

 

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One player who is getting a lot of attention is Vancouver Giants forward Ty Ronning. Ronning did especially well with the on ice testing today completing all the events fast and efficiently. Ronning was a late addition to the Top Prospect roster. Earlier this week it was announced Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants would be unable to play due to injury. When asked about playing in his teammates place, Ronning had this to say. “I feel like I deserve this moment and this opportunity. It sucks that I couldn’t be here with Tyler. Tyler’s one hell of a player but things happen.” Ronning will be just one of the forty highly ranked prospects playing in tomorrow nights game. But for Giants fans he might be the only one they truly care about.

The teams will practice tomorrow morning for one last time before the teams face off at 6pm PT at the Coliseum. Fans and scouts will be excited to see what these players have in store.

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The prospects are coming!

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January 23rd, 2016

By Dane Frizzell

 

We are less than a week away from the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver, BC at the Pacific Coliseum.

On Thursday night it will be Team Cherry VS Team Orr. This will be the 24th CHL Top Prospect game and the 15th time Team Cherry and Team Orr have faced off against each other.

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The game will feature players from the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Players will be eager to put on a good show as this game will be a great chance to showcase their skills to NHL scouts and teams.

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Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants will captain Team Cherry. Other notable names playing for Grapes include, Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters and Sam Steel of the Regina Pats. Team Cherry will be up against an extremely strong Team Orr.

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Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights will captain Team Orr. His team will also feature Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads and Carter Hart, goaltender for Everett Silvertips.
The game itself will be played at the legendary Pacific Coliseum is Vancouver, BC, home of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. The game was last played there in 2005. Team Cherry beat Team Davidson 8-4. The complete rosters for both teams are below.

 

2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters:

 Team Cherry:

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Goaltenders:

Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)

Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Defencemen:

Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting)

Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads)

Samuel Girard (Shawinigan Cataractes)

Lucas Johansen (Kelowna Rockets)

Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit)

 

Forwards:

Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau Olympiques)

Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants)

Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)

Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)

Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets)

Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs)

Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Max Jones (London Knights)

Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)

Sam Steel (Regina Pats)


Team Orr:

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Goaltenders:

Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)

Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)
Defencemen:

Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen)

Luke Green (Saint John Sea Dogs)

Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades)

Olli Juolevi (London Knights)

Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)

Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)

 

Forwards:

Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads)

Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds)

Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres)

Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads)

Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)

Otto Somppi (Halifax Mooseheads)

Simon Stransky (Prince Albert Raiders)

Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights)

Tickets are still available and can be bought at http://ticketleader.ca.
Don’t miss this once in a lifetime chance to see Don Cherry and Bobby Orr coach tomorrow’s NHL stars. It’s going to be something special.
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Size Doesn’t Matter, the Story of Ty Ronning

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Thursday January 21st

By Hyun Oh

If you have ever attended a Vancouver Giants home game at the Pacific Coliseum, there is usually one player that sticks out more than the others. Noticeable from the start of the pre game warm-ups, he is usually one of the fastest, craftiest, hardest working and smallest players on the ice.

Listed at 5’9 and 165 pounds, Burnaby BC native Ty Ronning is a fan favourite amongst Giants fans. Leading the team in goals this season, Ronning is having a breakout season in his 3rd year with the Giants. Ty is the son of former Vancouver Canucks superstar Cliff Ronning, and played his minor hockey at the Burnaby Winter Club. Ty was selected 15th overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

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Ty and Cliff Ronning during Ty’s Burnaby Winter Club years

Ty knew that comparisons to his father were inevitable at a young age, but his road to his current success has not been an easy one. After being selected in the first round, the Giants management and fanbase had high hopes for Ronning. The season after Ty’s midget year with the Delta Hockey Academy, Ty played 56 games with the Giants in his rookie season in 2013-14.

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Ronning would put up 9 goals and 11 assists in his rookie year, which isn’t too bad for a 16 year old in the WHL. His 2nd year with the Giants was unfortunately a different story. Ty would miss the first three months of the 2014-15 season with a broken collarbone. Upon return, Ty struggled for the rest of the season as he played just 21 games and recorded 3 points. Ty was a healthy scratch 3 times under head coach Claude Noel and was a total of -20 by the end of the season.

Things were looking grim going into Ty’s 3rd WHL season this year, which would be Ty’s first year of NHL Draft eligibility.

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Ronning surrounded by his teammates after scoring the first goal of the 2015 teddy bear toss game

But Ty would turn things around at the start of this season. When Giants Captain and projected first 2016 first round pick Tyler Benson sustained an injury and didn’t return until November, Ty took this opportunity to lead the team offensively leading the team in goals scored including multiple hat tricks and impressive goals this season. At the beginning of the year, Ronning was listed as a C prospect by NHL Central Scouting, meaning he was a longshot to be drafted or a 6/7th round pick, but the Mid Season Rankings have Ronning at 82nd amongst North American skaters.

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Ty currently has 26 goals and 15 assists and wears number 7, reminiscent to his father Cliff .

The current Giants head coach Lorne Molleken had this to say about Ronning; “A kid who competes that hard, a kid who can score goals like that, a kid who can read the game that way…there’s room for him in the NHL. He’s not too small, because of his heart and his pride and his desire.”

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Published January 21st 2015 by Hyun Oh

Hyun is just your average teenager from Surrey BC who loves the game.

Follow Hyun on twitter: @ohitshyun

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Ask the Giant: 10 Questions with James Malm

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Tuesday December 23rd

By Hyun Oh

For this week’s interview segment, I will be talking with Vancouver Giants prospect and Valley West Hawks forward James Malm. Malm played 19 games this year with the Vancouver Giants and is currently in his 2nd season with the Valley West Hawks. The 16 year old Langley native finished second in the BC Major Midget League in scoring in 2014/15, putting up 20 goals and 46 assists in 31 games for the Valley West Hawks. James was a 2nd round draft pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft and played with the Burnaby Winter Club Bantam A1 team in his last Bantam year.

 

Hyun: “You had the opportunity to play in the WHL this season with the Vancouver Giants before getting sent down to the Valley West hawks. Could you describe what it was like and maybe go through some of your favourite moments?”

James: “Putting on the jersey for the first time and walking out of the tunnel and seeing how many people were there, and I also grew up watching the team when I was young so it’s pretty cool knowing you’re a part of an organization where I grew up idolizing the players. Also getting my first point was pretty cool.”

Hyun: “Growing up, was it yourself who wanted to play hockey or did your parents have an influence?”

James: ” I grew up watching and loving the game. so I would have to say it was myself .”

Hyun: “You represented Team BC last season in the 2015 Canada Winter Games amongst other elite WHL prospects such as Vancouver teammates Brendan Semchuk and Owen Hardy. Explain what that experience was like.”

James: “Wearing the BC logo and representing your province in a national event is such a honour. It was also really cool because it was the first time being on tv and by far the most people at games up to that point in my hockey career.”

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Hyun: “Is there a specific routine you always follow before and after games?”

James: ” I put on everything from left to right. that’s about it”

Hyun: “Do you remember the nicest goal you’ve ever scored?”

James: ” I can’t remember the nicest but I can remember important goals in big games throughout the time I’ve played hockey.”

Hyun: “You’re a very flashy type of offensive guy on the ice. Is there someone you try and model your game after?”

James: “Guys like Patrick Kane and Tyler Johnson because they’re small skilled forwards and also hard working.”

Hyun: “Do you have a go-to chirp?”

James: “Haha I don’t think I can answer that here.”

Hyun: “Haha alright that’s fine. What about a go-to goal celebration?”

James: “Just a fist pump nothing too crazy.”

Hyun: “Do you have any major specific goals for yourself in the future?”

James: “To make hockey my career. to play in the NHL one day.

Hyun: “Lastly, family, friends and teammates are an important part of a hockey player’s success. Is there anyone you’d like to give a special shoutout to?

James: “My parents the most because hockey isn’t a cheap sport to play and it is also very time consuming but I never heard them complain at all so I definitely owe them all the credit, my brother who used to practice with me so much when I was younger.”

Hyun: “Alright, I’ll let you go now. Thanks for your time and best of luck throughout the rest of the season! Hopefully we can do this again sometime in the future.”

James: “Thanks for the interview.”

James can be found on twitter (@James_Malm) and instagram (@jamesmalm14)

Published December 23rd 2015 by Hyun Oh

Hyun is just your average teenager from Surrey BC who loves the game.

Follow Hyun on twitter: @ohitshyun

 

Behind the mask. 10 questions with Price George Cougars Goalie Nick Mcbride

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Mcbride during his tenure in Prince Albert

Friday December 18th

By Dane Frizzell

 

This week we had the opportunity to speak with Nick Mcbride, goaltender for the Prince George Cougars, of the Western Hockey League. Mcbride is currently in his 3rd season in the WHL. The 18 year old has a 6-2-0-1 record this year with the Cougars. He played his minor hockey at the Burnaby Winterclub before making the jump to the WHL. We had an opportunity to talk about growing up playing the game and the importance of teammates.

Dane – “Growing up did you always want to be a goaltender?”

Nick –  “Yeah, I spent a few years trying to convince my parents to let me play goalie full time. I was always the goalie in road hockey, mini sticks and such growing up.”

Dane – “You have been in the Western Hockey League now for 3 seasons. What is it like playing in one of the finest development leagues in the world?”

Nick – “It’s a very cool experience getting to play with and against some of the top NHL prospects. I’m used to it now but originally joining the league was a huge step as your life during the season revolves completely around hockey.”

Dane – “You play in one of the most scrutinized positions in all of hockey. You are the most important person on the ice for your team each and every night. How do you remain calm, cool and collective in your net?”

Nick – “The keys to that are having confidence in your own ability, having a short memory, and having thick skin on the ice.”

Dane – “Hockey players are creatures of habit. They all have their own game day and pre game superstitions and traditions. What does your game day routine look like?”

Nick – “I don’t have much of a routine (anymore) before I get to the rink other than your usual pre game skate and just chill out at home. At the rink its a pretty strict routine of eye hand work, stretches, visualizing, music and getting worked on by the team athletic therapist”

Dane – “Is there a goaltender you look up to or model your game after?”

Nick – “Not so much, I’m just taking my own path.”

Dane – “You began your WHL career in Prince Albert with the Raiders. At the start of this season, you were traded to the Cougars. There was a bit of shock following the trade, did you request to be moved out of Prince Albert?”

Nick – “I did. There’s some reasoning behind it, but mostly because we had 3 WHL caliber goalies in PA, and I thought out of everyone I needed a fresh start the most. There was no hate from either party. I loved my time as a Raider. It was more so me saying, “if you are gonna trade someone I think you should trade me” other than me demanding to be dealt.”

Dane – “Last season you played in the CHL/NHL Top Prospect game. You got a chance to play alongside some pretty impressive players. McDavid, Barzal and Ryan Strome just to name a few. What was that like to play in a game if this caliber?”

Nick – “It was a very cool experience, and super fun to be a part of.”

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Mcbride playing on Team Orr at last year’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects game.

 

Dane – “You played the majority of your minor hockey at the Burnaby Winter Club. That program has turned out so many amazing athletes and hockey players. What does it mean to be apart of the history of that organization?”

Nick – “Im very proud to be an alumni there. The teams I was lucky enough to be apart of accomplished so much and I will always look back fondly at my time there.”

Dane – “Last season was the first season you were eligible for the NHL draft. You remain undrafted moving into this draft. If you had your pick of which team to be drafted by, who would it be?”

Nick – “It doesn’t really matter to me where I go, but if I had to choose, I would say LA. I had a great time at the LA Kings camp and they have an outstanding organization there.”

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Mcbride at the LA Kings training camp this past September

Dane – “Teammates are a big part of the game of hockey. Are there any teammates you would like to give a shout out to or mention?”

Nick – I’ve played with so many great guys it’s hard to pick out a few. Teammates are like family in the WHL, and its special to be a part of.”

Dane – “Thanks for doing this Nick! Best of luck for the rest of the year in Prince George.”

Nick- “No worries man.”

Getting to know Spruce Kings star Parker Colley

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Friday December 11

By Dane Frizzell

 

Parker Colley is currently playing his first season in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Prince George Spruce Kings. Colley played for the North West Chiefs of the BC Major Midget League. Colley scored 24 goals, and had 65 assists over two seasons with the team. All though shorter than many of his opponents on the ice, Colley is a jet fast skater and can often beat you with his speed and sweet hands. This week we caught up with Colley as I asked him a few questions about life as a hockey player and what it means to be a Colley.

 

 

Dane – “Hey Parker, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us!”

Parker -“Yeah no problem.”

Dane – “Growing up, were you put into hockey by your parents or did you insist on playing?”

Parker – “I think kind of both, I loved hockey when I was a kid and I think also my Dad really wanted me to play.”

Dane – “What is your earliest on ice memory that you can recall?”

Parker – “I would have to say probably skating on my Grandma’s pond that she had on her farm when I was little in the winter.”

Dane  – “You have been playing the game for years now. Starting out in the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey association before playing for the same team your brother played for with the North West Chiefs. You are now a member of the Spruce Kings playing in one of the best junior development leagues in the world. What has it been like playing this game over the past few years as you have been able to move up the ranks of junior hockey.”

Parker – “These last couple of years have been really good for my development especially those two years with the Chiefs and now with the Spruce Kings. Now I am just trying to improve my game even more to become a better hockey player.”

Dane – “This is an over used question, but I have to ask. Who is one player you look up to and want to be like?

Parker – “I would have to say Sidney Crosby just because I love the way he plays and how he can control the puck and make amazing plays.”

Dane – “Over the past few years there has been a lot of questions raised over your size.  Mainly your height, yet you have continued to prove everyone wrong with your skill and your speed. There are tons of kids out there who are in the same situation you were in. What do you have to say to those kids who have dreams of playing the game and dreams of doing what you have done so far?

Parker – “I would just have to say the game is starting to become a lot less physical and for smaller guys you just need to be smart, always have your head up and use your speed because you won’t get hit if they can’t catch you.”

Dane  – “This is your first season with the Kings. The BCHL has a fantastic relationship with university and college hockey programs. Are you wanting to possibly earn a scholarship and go and play in the United States, or are you wanting to stay in Canada and continue your development in the Western Hockey League?”

Parker -“Earning a scholarship and going to play in the states is what I hope and want to do for my future.”

Dane – “Teammates are vital in succeeding in this sport. Is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to? Someone or a group of teammates that gave you support or you share amazing memories with?”

Parker – “Probably my whole team last year with the Chiefs just cause we had such a good group of guys and had such a successful year.”

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Colley and his teammates celebrating  their Cromie Memorial Cup victory

 

Dane – “Coaches are the backbone of this sport. It’s amazing what they do for their players and their organizations. Is there a coach you would like to mention that has helped you become the player you are today?”

Parker – “I would like to think my Dad. He coached me when I was younger, and he has always been giving me tips throughout the last couple years. He just keeps helping and giving me advice as I move on in my hockey career.”

Dane – “If you could play one NHL game, what team would it be with and who would be your linemates?

Parker – “Pittsburg Penguins and probably Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane.”

Dane –  “Could you just touch base on what your family has done for you over the past few years. I know your brother is currently playing the game also, what does it mean to be a Colley?”

Parker – “My family has given me so much support over the years and they have helped me get to the level I am at today.”

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Parker with brother Boston

 

 

Dane – “Thanks Parker for your time, hopefully can do this again someday.”

Parker – “Yeah for sure, thanks!”

 

Parker Colley currently has  1 goal and 6 assists with the Spruce Kings this season.