Tag Archives: Vancouver

Earnshaw scores in debut — again

Robert Earnshaw was on the pitch at BC Place for less than four minutes before he found himself on the receiving end of a brilliant touch pass from El Capitán Pedro Morales. Keeper Adam Kwarasey charged out to challenge, and Earnshaw used his first touch as a Vancouver Whitecap to chip the ball over him  into the back of the net. He celebrated thusly:

Robert Earnshaw celebrates for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Robert Earnshaw celebrates scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC win over the Portland Timbers. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

It wasn’t the first time he’d scored in his first appearance with a team. Earnshaw scored in his first game with the Chicago Fire last year, and potted a pair of goals in his home debut with dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Toronto FC two seasons ago. (It should be noted that Saturday’s game-winner was Earnshaw’s first-ever at BC Place — he was held scoreless in his MLS debut two seasons ago when the Caps blanked Toronto 1-0, a game in which he started and played 85 minutes.)

At 5’8″ and just 160 pounds, he’s not likely to overpower defenders like Nat Borchers or that bloody ginger beard of his. But holy hamhocks, can this guy boot a ball into a soccer net. Earnshaw now has a dozen goals in 32 MLS appearances. That’d be a fair clip for a hockey player, but in soccer, them’s all-star numbers. Don’t just take my word for it; the MLS website, for all its warts and biases, usually gives us stats pretty straight up, and it tells us, “[Earnshaw has recorded] a hat-trick in every professional division in England, including the FA Cup and League Cup competitions as well as internationally for Wales.”

Sam Adekugbe of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Sam Adekugbe jacks up the crowd after Robert Earnshaw’s late go-ahead goal. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

“I knew he’d get one chance,” said Coach Carl Robinson after the match, happy to steal three points in a game where his squad was badly outplayed by the opposition. “I know what Ernie can do, what kind of touch he has with the ball, so I just told him to take the chance when it came. I’m glad he did.”

Chances are the Welshman will do it again. Earnshaw now has 217 goals for clubs in England, Scotland, Israel, the US, and Canada, as well as the Welsh international side.

“It’s always exciting, especially in a debut,” Earnshaw said after the match, saying that even after 18 years of playing professionally, he’s still overwhelmed with emotion when he scores. “The feeling of when the ball hits the net, oh my God, it’s the best. The best.”

Here’s a video for your highlight-watchin’ pleasure:

100 years? [Insert Leafs joke here]

It’s been a full century since Vancouver won a Stanley Cup. On March 26, 1915, the Denman Arena saw the Vancouver Millionaires, led by Fred “Cyclone” Taylor,  complete a three-game sweep over the Ottawa Senators for the city’s only claim to hockey’s holy grail. One hundred years later, the Vancouver Canucks will wear their maroon tribute jerseys against the Colorado Avalanche.

Team picture of the 1914 Vancouver Millionaires
The Millionaires are famously the only Vancouver team to win the Stanley Cup, which they did in 1915. Note the one player in the back row wearing an earlier version of the jersey. Archive photo retrieved from an AskJeeves search.

The Canucks have made three trips to the finals since their NHL debut in 1970, but have come up short each time. The first was in 1982, a four-game sweep at the hands Al Arbour’s mighty New York Islanders. The second and third, in 1994 and 2011, both went to seventh and deciding games that went to the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins respectively. That leaves the 1915 champs the only ones to have the word ‘Vancouver’ inscribed into Lord Stanley’s chalice.

Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Patrick wearing the 1913 Vancouver Millionaires uniform.
Frank Patrick pioneered the blue line, the penalty shot and the idea of dressing a backup goaltender. He was also a huge early force in establishing women’s hockey on the West Coast. I don’t know about you folks, but I truly dig using bones to make the Vancouver V. (Also, dock skates!) Archive photo gleaned from a Bing search.

 

Roberto Luongo, Tom Sestito and Daniel Sedin in Vancouver Millionaires heritage uniforms.
Many suggest that Roberto Luongo would still be in Vancouver had John Tortorella started him for the 2014 Heritage Classic at BC Place. Even during the game, Lu was leaning his way out of town, and Daniel was all, “I canNOT believe we didn’t play him.” Seriously. Tom Sestito skated in the Heritage Classic, but Roberto Luongo did not. Way to go, Torts. Hilarious bench photo stolen from a Cuil search.

 

Roberto Luongo wearing his Vancouver Millionaires heritage mask.
Swipe right, Torts, swipe RIGHT!

 

Giants set for home finale

The Vancouver Giants end their 2014-15 season this weekend with a home-and-home against Kelowna, the top team in the Western Conference. While the Giants are out of the playoff picture thanks to a nine-game losing skid down the stretch, the Rockets have been on auto-pilot the past six weeks or so in preparation for a long playoff run.

Get ticket information for Friday night’s game here.

Cody Porter has had good games and bad, but you can't place all the blame for the Giants season on his rookie shoulders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.
Cody Porter has had good games and bad, but you can’t place all the blame for the Giants season on his rookie shoulders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.

It was a roller coaster year for the Giants, who came out of the gate flying before losing 18 of 24 games under Troy G Ward. Replacement coach Claude Noel seemed to buoy the team nicely — a new bench boss often has an invigorating effect — and with four weeks left in the year they’d managed to scrape themselves into a playoff spot.

Click here for a slideshow of photos from WHL action.

Continue reading Giants set for home finale

Sports’ Biggest Fallacy

Whitecaps Wednesday

A win is a win is a win. Except when it isn’t.

“Now hold on a second, Russell! That doesn’t make any sense! How can a win not be a win?” Lend me your attention for a moment fine reader and I’ll be happy to explain.

After three months of inactivity, I've got the okay to pull the Rackets & Runners shirt (and the cheesy running selfies) out of mothballs.
Pucked in the Head’s fearless leader Jason Kurylo is seen here trying to outrun logic and reason. If you look closely, you can spot his overactive moistical gland in full production.

On March 14, we saw the Vancouver Whitecaps escape Toyota Park with a 1-0 result over the Chicago Fire. I watched this game while a wave of frustration bombarded me with each squandered scoring opportunity.

Sure, the Whitecaps notched their first triumph of the infantile MLS season this weekend. I’d suggest that many of you were in fact quite happy to see the Whitecaps find the victory in Chicago on Saturday. It’s not out of the question that you were placated by the fact that the Whitecaps FC had never scored a goal at Toyota Park. And many of you probably defaulted to using the aforementioned “a win is a win” cliché as some type of reasoning for arriving at your satisfaction in seeing the Caps win. (I’m looking at YOU, Kurylo).

Continue reading Sports’ Biggest Fallacy

Too Much, Too Soon

The Whitecaps started their 2015 season off with a bang. And ended their first game with a resounding thud. It was a tale of two halves, at least I think that’s how soccer games work, and on this day, the fans at BC Place saw two entirely different Whitecaps’ teams depending on which 45 you watched.

The first half looked like what we have had been told to expect this season from the blue and white – a fast-paced group, intent on spreading the ball around and utilizing their speed to overwhelm their opponents. The Whitecaps’ attack produced a number of quality chances, yet were only able to capitalize on one of them.

Marie Hui sings the national anthem prior to the Vancouver Whitecaps season opener. Sadly, the home team lost their 2015 home opener to the dirty, rotten, stinkin' doughbugs of TFC 3-1. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Marie Hui sings the national anthem prior to the Vancouver Whitecaps season opener. Sadly, the home team lost their 2015 home opener to the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ doughbugs of TFC 3-1. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Coach Carl Robinson liked what he saw, but post-game he conceded that perhaps that type of phrenetic pace isn’t one that can be maintained over a full 90 minutes. That, coupled with a tactical change at the break by Toronto head coach Greg Vanney, turned the game upside down and what appeared to be a potent Whitecaps attack suddenly looked more like a woodpecker taking a steel pole to task. Not much progress and one helluva headache.

Toronto took control in the second half, watching the Whitecaps attempt the soccer-equivalent of the dump and chase time and time again. The TFC defenders took a few large steps backwards and simply watched the balls come, abandoning any semblance of chasing. Yet the Caps seemed content to fire away and perhaps oblivious to the fact that it simply wasn’t working.

Let’s take a look at the highlights, the lowlights, and the limelight in the Caps’ 3-1 loss on Saturday.

Continue reading Too Much, Too Soon

The March to March – Part 6

Whitecaps Wednesday

Another Wednesday, another Whitecaps. Put those two things together and you have a sentence that makes editors break out into cold sweats, and Whitecaps Wednesday. So welcome, and please, make yourself at home whilst I stride this towel over to Jason with which to wipe his moisty brow.

Jason, when confronted with grammatical errors and slightly before the moistiness sets in.
Jason, displaying his reaction when confronted with grammatical errors and pointing to his moistical gland, which moisties his brow.

This is the latest edition of the March to March, bringing the total now to six. SIX! Can you believe it? I don’t even own six pairs of underwear (what proud, decent man does though), yet here I am punching out a sextuple of Whitecaps Wednesday pieces. You probably can’t even count them all on one hand anymore! And if you can, colour me impressed.

August is a busy month for Caps, who manage to squeeze five games into five weeks. That means five airtight predictions in which you can only yearn to store your favourite sandwiches. Click on to read on, friend.

Continue reading The March to March – Part 6

The March to March – Part 5

Whitecaps Wednesday

Whitecaps Wednesday spent last week in Harrison Hot Springs, dodging village-wide gas leaks and a hearty collection of bed bugs (thanks Ramada Hotels). Luckily, the Caps just officially released what most have expected for a while now: a brand spankin’ new kit, so the previous one, now infested with little creepy crawlies, has found a new home in the firepit.

bed_bug_stuffed_f1559
Truth be told, Jason wanted me to include an actual photo of the bed bugs I discovered wile on vacation. I couldn’t expose my valued readers to that, so here is the least repulsive bed bug photo I could find from a google image search. You’re welcome.

When we last checked in on the Whitecaps, they were mired in a long stretch of games away from Vancouver and, despite dropping their last game of the month, managed to acquit themselves well overall. July sees them in familiar territory, that is away from theirs, as they finally wrap up their road trip before heading home.

Read on for results!
Continue reading The March to March – Part 5

Episode 56 – Torts, Milos, French girls & grapefruit

Russell & I trade semi-researched factoids for the second time in short order, getting into John Tortorella’s recent soul searching on Tampa radio. In an attempt to show something reminiscent of range, we stretch into Davis Cup tennis and trade two dozen words in French.

• Intro
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• I’m fatigued
• Où sont les pamplemousses?
• John Tortorella is Yoda
• Willie’s ahead of Torts so far
• Davis Cup coming back to UBC
• Daniel Nestor ages not
• Eugenie Bouchard’s legs are all Photoshop
• NHL DOPS: Dmitry Kulikov gets four games
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway

"Oh yeah? Well I know I was wrong! How do you like THEM apples?"
“Oh yeah? Well I know I was wrong! How do you like THEM apples?”

Giants Head South to Face Silvertips

by Richard Davalos (Hit him up on the mighty Twitter: @QuakesFan84)

Tonight sees the fifth matchup betweens the Giants and Silvertips this season. Everett has won three of the four games so far by a combined score of 14-4. To be fair, the aggregate scoreline is a little misleading as the Giants have picked up 3 of a possible 8 points in the games played — in a late December back-to-back, they took the home game 2-1, and battled to a 1-0 OT loss on the road. The first and most recent matchups, though? Complete domination by the U.S. Division leading Tips. You should have taken the over in those games, as Everett scored at will: 5-1 and 7-1 finals did not flatter the Giants, who were frankly outclassed on both sides of the puck.

Matt Pufahl isn't with the Silvertips anymore, but frankly this is one of my favourite shots from last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Matt Pufahl isn’t with the Silvertips anymore, but frankly this is one of my favourite shots from last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Lately the Giants and Silvertips have been pretty even against the field, with Vancouver going 4-5-0-1 and Everett 5-4-0-1 in their last ten.

Besides that Last Ten Games column in the stats sheet, there’s not much in common between Vancouver and Everett this year. The Silvertips and Giants are in different stages of rebuilding: Everett is near completion, while the Giants have a solid foundation of young players but have seen uneven play from their veterans.. Quite literally the only thing they share in common this season is a bottom-half penalty kill, with both teams nullifying only 76.2% of power plays faced, tied for 17th in the 22-team Western Hockey League.

Despite the dismal penalty kill, coach Kevin Constantine has made the Silvertips have been a tough nut to crack — not only are they the second best defensive team in the WHL, with just 149 goals allowed (only Kelowna has allowed fewer at 138), but they have also taken the second fewest penalties in the league, and that isn’t even close. Everett have taken only 544 minutes in penalties (Kootenay has 539 PIM), the third-most disciplined teams are Brandon and Moose Jaw, tied at 665 minutes.  If the Giants want to avoid another blowout, or gasp! to win, they will have to stay out of the box themselves and try to goad Everett into taking a few penalties at home.  They cannot repeat what happened in the last game, when they took 41 minutes in penalties to Everett’s 19 on the way to a six-goal defeat.

The Giants visit Braden Low and the Everett Silvertips in Friday night WHL action. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Giants visit Braden Low and the Everett Silvertips in Friday night WHL action. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Quick Hits

Vancouver have been good at home, but are losers in 10 of their last 11 games played away from Pacific Coliseum. Everett, on the other hand, have been dynamite at Xfinity Arena: they’ve won eight of their last ten at home, with that lonely loss just a few days ago versus Tri-City. If the Giants are going to make that post-season, they really ought to figure things out on the road. Of their 17 games remaining, nine require loading up the bus.

Vancouver is six points behind Tri-City for the number one Wild Card spot, and one point ahead of Kamloops for the last playoff spot, although both teams have a game in hand on the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Blazers.

The next home game for the Giants is next Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels — at noon! — in the annual Hooky Day.

Giants beat Memorial Cup champion Oil Kings

The Vancouver Giants won their third straight home game with a messy but satisfying 3-1 decision over the Edmonton Oil Kings. It wasn’t a high-flying, high-scoring, fight-filled affair like the previous two wins over Red Deer and Seattle, but hey, a win is a win is a win.

Edgars Kulda of the Edmonton Oil Kings looks for a tip in front of Vancouver Giants goaltender Cody Porter. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Edgars Kulda of the Edmonton Oil Kings looks for a tip in front of Vancouver Giants goaltender Cody Porter. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Carter Popoff popped off a pair of goals, including an empty netter, and now sits at a team-high 22 goals. Only Zane Jones’s moustache has more scores this season, but 18 of the nose tickler’s 26 goals came with other clubs before it and Zane Jones himself joined the Giants in a trade in early January, and the countless young ladies swooning over that ginger liprug just don’t count. Rookie left winger Vladimir Bobylev potted his third of the year in the second period, and that wound up being the game winning goal.

Let’s be clear. This Edmonton team is not the same one that won the Memorial Cup last year. When he’s not winning World Junior gold, Curtis Lazar is playing for Ottawa Senators. Griffin Reinhart also won one of them shiny medallions, and has split the rest of the year between the New York Islanders and their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (Aside: what the hell is a sound tiger? A jungle cat whose mental acuity isn’t in question?) Put plainly, the Oil Kings ain’t a patch on last year’s Eastern Conference-winning team.

Edgars Kulda had his share of supporters in the crowd as his Edmonton Oil Kings lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Edgars Kulda had his share of supporters in the crowd as his Edmonton Oil Kings lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Still, a defending champion, even one tenuously holding onto their own playoff spot, walks into every building with a certain swagger. There were scores of classic red, white and gold Oil Kings shirts at the Coliseum on Wednesday — even if the visiting team wore awful black third jerseys neon green trim on the ice. Edgars Kulda, whose older brother Artūrs played for Latvia in 2014 at both the Olympics and World Championships, received cheers from countrymen every time he approached the puck, but it was Lane Bauer who scored Edmonton’s only goal on the night. Cody Porter was solid in his 12th win of the year, stopping 31 of 32 shots, several of the point-blank rebound variety.

Brett Pollock of the Edmonton Oil Kings models perhaps the ugliest third jersey in the WHL this season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Brett Pollock of the Edmonton Oil Kings models perhaps the ugliest third jersey in the WHL this season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Giants hit the road for a pair of weekend games south of the border, back-to-back puck drops against the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans. For the moment, .despite being seven games under .500, Vancouver sits in a playoff position; the G-Men are one point up on Kamloops with a game in hand.

The next Giants home game is Wednesday, February 18 against the Moose Jaw Warriors — it’s a noon game on a weekday, which means the lower bowl will be packed with school children on field trips. The energy in the place is outstanding for this game every year, a promotion the Giants are calling Hooky Day.