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The 17th Initiative — Month One: Now That’s Ugly

Help PITH raise a modest $250 for the Children's Wish Foundation by January 17, 2015.
Help PITH raise a modest $250 for the Children’s Wish Foundation by January 17, 2015.

Despite what the news tells you, good humans far outnumber the bad. Indeed, for the most part, people are pretty generous. There are good works all around us. Case in point: the folks at the Now That’s Ugly Society, who have spun a modest ugly sweater bash each December into a full-blown movement in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation. But more on them in a moment.

Like most parents, I want to inspire in my daughter a desire to share. Whether it’s ideas, cookies, emotions, toys, information… All of these things ought to be passed around and celebrated. If that can be done with a minimum of screeching “IT’S MIIIIIINE!” that would be just awesome.

The folks from the Now That's Ugly Society fundraise for the Make a Wish Foundation, and have loads of fun along the way. Check 'em out at http://nowthatsugly.com/.
The folks from the Now That’s Ugly Society fundraise for the Make a Wish Foundation, and have loads of fun along the way. Check ‘em out at http://nowthatsugly.com/.

I’ve been thinking about this since before she was born, and right now is a prime time to expose her to the powers of kindness, generosity and volunteerism. Now That’s Ugly is just the latest amazing project to catch my eye — to wit: I saw a story on the CBC, and was hugely inspired. I even said so on Twitter:

So many kinds of awesome, right? Only, rather than cramming everything into the holiday season — when loads of people are giving and doing good works — I thought we could branch out into the rest of the year. I put numbers in a hat — well, okay, the Ugly Christmas toque you see above — and out came 17.  And so, the 17th Initiative was born.

I've never claimed to be good at this logo designing thing.
I’ve never claimed to be good at this logo designing thing.

Once a month, starting on January 17th, 2015, we’ll do a small act of kindness in the community, and we’ll invite you along to join us.

17 January 2015 — We’ve set a modest goal of raising $250 for the Children’s Wish Foundation, through the good folks at Now That’s Ugly. Please consider tossing a couple of twonies at this amazing organization that helps seriously ill children build hope and joy in the face of tragedy and loss. We challenge all hockey bloggers, guest posters and readers to donate a minimum of $5, either to this fundraiser or to a children’s charity of your choice.

Milla and I will be doing these things whether folks join us or not, but wouldn’t it be nicer if we could all give together? Please use the hashtag #17thInitiative in your social media-ing.

Five straight for the Vancouver Giants

The Vancouver Giants won their season-high fifth straight game Friday night, turning in what Brendan Batchelor lauded as a high point in his stint as the team’s play-by-play man:

Mason Geertsen scored his third of the year on a power play to open the scoring in a 6-3 win over the Victoria Royals. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Mason Geertsen scored his third of the year on a power play to open the scoring in a 6-3 win over the Victoria Royals. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

From Mason Geertsen’s third goal of the season late in the first to Tyler Benson’s third period shorty, the Giants played a solid 60 minutes and were full marks for the 6-3 win. Six different G-Men scored, and Payton Lee made 26 saves in the win.

Look for some colourful Christmas wear on Saturday night, as these same two teams do the second half of the home-and-home on Ugly Sweater Night at the Coliseum. We at Pucked in the Head dare you to have as much fun as these five beauties:

These beautiful Aussies were some of the most vocal ugly sweater wearers at a 2012 Giants game — we at PITH challenge you to outdo them this year! Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
These beautiful Aussies were some of the most vocal ugly sweater wearers at a 2012 Giants game — we at PITH challenge you to outdo them this year! Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Or even these folks:

The folks from the Now That's Ugly Society fundraise for the Make a Wish Foundation, and have loads of fun along the way. Check 'em out at http://nowthatsugly.com/.
The folks from the Now That’s Ugly Society fundraise for the Make a Wish Foundation, and have loads of fun along the way. Check ‘em out at http://nowthatsugly.com/.

It’s a bit of an ironic time for the Giants to go on a tear, as their crosstown NHL brethren in blue and green are in the middle of their longest losing streak of the season. The Canucks still sit high in the standings, however, based upon a strong first quarter. The Giants, on the other hand, languish at the bottom of the Western Conference despite garnering a full ten points in the last five games.

Still, it’s probably not a coincidence that the run comes with a new coach behind the bench. It’ll be interesting to hear at the end of the season just what Claude Noel brought to the room that Troy G Ward didn’t:

Giants win third straight on Teddy Bear Toss night

One of hundreds of stuffed animals that hit the ice when Jackson Houck scored at 2:18 of the third period. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.Jackson Houck scored the shootout winner for the Vancouver Giants on Saturday night, but it was his period goal a full period earlier that made the fur fly. His one-timer from just left of Saskatoon goaltender Nik Amundrud gave more than 8,000 fans reason to rain down teddy bears for the Vancouver Christmas Bureau, and inspired a record thirty-seven and a half alliterative phrases from play-by-play man Brendan Batchelor. In addition to the toy collection for underprivileged children, proceeds from in-rink fundraising also benefitted the CKNW Orphans Fund and The Province Empty Stocking Fund.

The Blades can thank their goaltender for the point they earned this night; the Giants dominated possession for the first 40 minutes, but were unable to ripple the mesh behind Amundrud until Houck bobbled a one-timer into the back of the net at 2:18 of the third period.

Despite being badly outplayed, the Blades never trailed in the game. Amundrud made 38 saves in the loss, plus two of three shootout attempts. For his part, Payton Lee saw very little action in the first half of the game, but came through when it mattered; he made two point-blank stops on Soshnin, and another late in regulation on Blades top scorer Alex Forsberg. He also stymied all three Saskatoon shooters in the skills competition.

Thomas Foster drives to the net to earn an assist on a late game-tying goal. His Giants would win the game in a shootout. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Thomas Foster drives to the net to earn an assist on a late game-tying goal. His Giants would win the game in a shootout. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Also scoring for the Giants was Jakob Stukel; defenseman Arvin Atwal had two assists in the win. Scoring for the Blades were Nikita Soshnin on a power play and Josh Uhrich  off a Giants defensive miscue.

The win was the third in a row for the G-Men — it marks the first time they’ve done that since the opening three games of the season, and brings head coach Claude Noel’s welcome-to-the-Dub undefeated streak to two games. Getcher red hot highlights, which mysteriously fade from a platoon of teddy bears to a fight at centre ice, here.

The Giants top scorer, Carter Popoff, was kept off the score sheet this night, but his Giants won 3-2 in a shootout. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Giants top scorer, Carter Popoff, was kept off the score sheet this night, but his Giants won 3-2 in a shootout. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Giants next home game is Wednesday, December 10th against the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Prince Albert Raiders; Saturday the 13th is — besides a horrible idea for a sequel— Ugly Sweater Night against the utterly revolting Victoria Royals.

Just a sample of the toys that littered the ice after Jackson Houck's early third period goal. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Just a sample of the toys that littered the ice after Jackson Houck’s early third period goal. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Vancouver Open moves to mid-August

The Odlum Brown Vancouver Open has announced a schedule change for 2015, moving the region’s biggest tennis tournament to August 15-23. Offering $200K in prize money, it is one of the biggest Challenger competitions on both the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours. “Up-and-coming Canadian players can now head west right afterwards and come play in the Odlum Brown VanOpen,” says Vancouver Open Tournament Director Ryan Clark, pointing to mid- to late August being a better slot on the tour.

Jarmila Gajdosova (right) defeated Lesia Tsurenko in the 2014 VanOpen women's final. Will the 2015 champ have a higher ranking? Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Jarmila Gajdosova (right) defeated Lesia Tsurenko in the 2014 VanOpen women’s final. Will the 2015 champ have a higher ranking? Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Continue reading Vancouver Open moves to mid-August

Is there hope for 2018?

It is unknown at this time whether Benito Floro is familiar with the works of Emily Dickinson. Photo cribbed from a rudimentary foray into Googleland.
It is unknown at this time whether Benito Floro is familiar with the works of Emily Dickinson. Photo cribbed from a rudimentary foray into Googleland.

As Benito Floro begins the onerous task of hauling the Canadian Men’s National Team — kicking and flailing like Doneil Henry playing fullback — out of the year-long nadir that began with 8-1 and saw Les Rouges fail to score even once in 2013, there is a feeling of wrongness about even trying to hold this discussion. “A World Cup qualification,” we all cry, channeling the timeless incredulity of Jim Mora, “I just hope we can win a game!” But time marches on, and the abysmal 2013 plunged Canada far enough down the CONCACAF rankings that we find ourselves just half a year away from participating in the minnow round of yet another World Cup qualifying cycle. Is there hope this time?

Of course there is.

Continue reading Is there hope for 2018?

RIP Pat Quinn

Pat Quinn was an intimidating presence in just about any room that he entered, but he was kind and generous to players, media and fans, and he was humble and thankful for the successes that he had on and off the ice.

I was lucky enough to speak with the man twice. He was genuinely honoured to be on people’s radar after a lifetime in hockey. He was respectful, thoughtful, well-dressed and well-spoken, and he always stressed to his players that they should be, too.

There are many memorial pieces in today’s media, both traditional and social. I’m unlikely to cover new ground here at PITH. Suffice to say, this isn’t about a player, coach or GM; we’ve lost a good man. He wouldn’t have wanted all the attention when there are many others in the world struggling, wounded, oppressed and ill — give to, or volunteer for your charity of choice today in Pat Quinn’s honour.

Quinn

Here are links to a few of the articles about the big man:

Iain MacIntyre in the Sun
Vancouver Sun compiles social media reaction
Ed Willes in the Province
Tony Gallagher in the Province
Kent Basky at Nucks Misconduct
Canadian Press
Vancouver Canucks Official Statement
Toronto Maple Leafs Official Statement
Philadelphia Flyers Official Statement
NHL.com

 

OMG! Canucks trump Sens: a goal by goal breakdown

The prevailing sports talk around Vancouver today is, “The Canucks are first in the NHL; who’da thunk it?”

And I’ll admit, I’ve been pleasantly surprised thus far myself, but not for their perfect record against Alberta teams, or how they ground out a 2-1 shootout win in Anaheim. Rather, I’m impressed with the way this year’s Canucks are playing an entertaining game, and finding different ways to win. Interestingly, they’ve only found one way to lose — badly, as they did in 7-3, 6-3 and 5-1 lopsided losses as well as ones where 3-1 and 4-2 scorelines flattered the boys in blue quite dramatically — but hey, there are 12 Ws and only 5 Ls so far this year, so we’ll surely see some variation in this category soon enough.

Continue reading OMG! Canucks trump Sens: a goal by goal breakdown

Preds chomp Canucks – a goal-by-goal breakdown

Two of this year’s pleasant surprises in the NHL have been the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks. Both are playing entertaining, offensive hockey — yeah, I know, Nashville?!?!?!? and they’ve both gotten far more out of the first ten to fifteen games of the season than most prognosticated. But to be honest it’s not as shocking as you might think. Canucks and Preds rosters are trying to impress new regimes behind their respective bench, and any player with the slightest bit of a nose for the net has to prefer Willie Desjardins and Peter Laviolette to John “No Plan” Tortorella and Barry “No Neck” Trotz.

Pekka Rinne of the surprising Nashville Predators stopped all but one shot against the Canucks. Photo ripped from canucks.com.
Pekka Rinne of the surprising Nashville Predators stopped all but one shot against the Canucks. Photo ripped from canucks.com.

Continue reading Preds chomp Canucks – a goal-by-goal breakdown

Canucks Skim Oilers: a goal-by-goal breakdown

Note: I know I’m a few games behind. So what. It’s fun to look at all the scorin’ and goalin’ and such.

Kevin Bieksa admitted it right there in Saturday’s post-game interview with Cassie Campbell-Pascall: the Canucks pretty much played a single period of decent hockey against the Edmonton Oilers. They stunk the place out in the first period, played below expectations in the second, but were the better team in the final 20 minutes. It was enough to win the game.

Past editions of the Canucks could play keepaway for 55 minutes and change, generate chance after chance down low, and give up a late snack goal before losing in a shootout. So far this year, they’re managing games more effectively and finding ways to win.

Taylor Hall got an apple, but couldn't keep the loss away. Ryan Miller still has a perfect record against the Oilers. Photo stolen from canucks.com, then squashed to fit this box.
Taylor Hall got an apple, but couldn’t keep the loss away. Ryan Miller still has a perfect record against the Oilers. Photo stolen from canucks.com, then squashed to fit this box.

Canucks 0, Oilers 1. Jordan Eberle from Taylor Hall and Martin Marincin, 12:39 of the first period.

Taylor Hall loses a stride in the neutral zone, and that half-second hesitation is enough to freeze — wait for it — Luca Sbisa.  #5 moves slightly into the middle, opening up a lane for Jordan Eberle cruising in on the right boards, and he flips a cutesy little backhand over Ryan Miller’s pad. Yannick Weber did the right thing, taking Nugent-Hopkins on the far side, so he has none of the blame on this one.

Canucks 1, Oilers 1: Luca Sbisa from Chris Higgins and Nick Bonino, 19:13 of the first period.

Thank heavens for the Oilers d-zone coverage. Remember all the running around the Canucks did in their own end last year? If not, just watch the boys in blue on this replay. The Oilers act as if the ’76 Habs are swarming their net, but this isn’t Lafleur, Shutt and Lemaire with Big Bird Robinson on the point — instead, the dreaded Sbisa-Higgins-Bonino connect to send it into the dressing room tied at one.

Canucks 2, Oilers 1: Linden Vey from Derek Dorsett and Tom Sestito, 16:37 of the second period.

If that last scoring combo wasn’t embarrassing enough, the Oilers manage to let Derek Dorsett and Tom Sestito collect apples on the same goal. Want a trifecta? Alex Edler gets a mark in the plus column on this one as well. Ben Scrivens delivers a gift-wrapped rebound to ol’ Dorsett and follows it up with a massive five hole for him to shoot at.

Canucks 2, Oilers 2: David Perron from Leon Draisaitl and Andrew Ference, 17:41 of the third period.


Ah, the short-lived lead. That’s the Canuck hockey we’ve grown to groan at over the past couple of seasons. Also in the not unexpected category: Alex Edler with a minus. Give the goat horns to Chris Tanev, who bobbles the puck behind his own net to create the open ice. Should Ryan Miller have this one? Probably, but give Perron credit, it’s a hell of a wrist shot.

Canucks 3, Oilers 2 (SH): Derek Dorsett from Ben Scrivens, 4:05 of the third period.

Give credit to ol’ Double D on this one, he hustled in on a shorthanded forecheck, and took full advantage of the worst goalie mistake since Marc-Andre Fleury was a junior. Like the Canucks second goal, Scrivens screws up twice on the same play: here he’s so flustered by his giveaway that he forgets to square himself to the shooter. Dorsett should never have the short side to shoot at on that play.

Here’s Fleury’s gold-medal losing gaffe from 2004, in case you’ve forgotten:

Whitecaps 2014 Season Sendoff

The Whitecaps handed out their club-sanctioned end of season awards on October 22, and it was pretty much what you’d expect. The suspense of just who exactly would go home with the Domenic Mobilio Golden Boot award (presented to the club’s leading goal-scorer) was undoubtedly the highlight of the afternoon. The anticipation was palpable until everyone realized that numerous stats pages across the internet had been keeping track of that information all season long. Buncha wet blankets.

Anyways, as I’m sure you have heard, we here at Pucked in the Head have our own end of season awards. Many deem these to in fact be the most prestigious of all awards available to professional soccer players annually based in Vancouver, BC from March until November.

Whitecaps - Marie Hui small
Marie Hui joined the Southsiders to serenade the Whitecaps’ faithful one last time in 2014. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked In The Head.

Now that you’re all on the edge of your seats, I present to you the 2014 Whitecaps End of Season Awards Presented By A Blog With a Hockey-centric Title Yet Unabashedly Contains Content On a Wide Variety Of Sporting Endeavours. We’re still working on the name and hoping to have a slightly less verbose title for 2015.

Continue reading Whitecaps 2014 Season Sendoff