To get back on top Hockey Canada needs program like U.S.’s NTDP

Jacob Trouba and Seth Jones (Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Basking in the afterglow of a world junior gold on Russian ice two years ago, future Nashville defenseman Seth Jones let some knowledge drop on me: he had played with almost every other member of the U.S. D-corps in the past. That’s because Jones was a graduate of the U.S. National Team Development Program, just like Jacob Trouba, Jake McCabe, Connor Murphy and Pat Sieloff.

Eight members of that squad also won gold at the 2011 world under-18s, a tournament the Americans have dominated for the past decade, winning seven of 10 gold medals. There was a familiarity among the unit, and it translated on the ice. And since Canada has struggled to reach its lofty goals at the WJC lately (the CHL playoffs conflict with the under-18s so success there is haphazard), I began wondering if it was time for a Canadian NTDP.

Imagine two hot-housed all-star teams (under-17 and under-18) dedicated to developing not just NHL prospects, but players who could win Canada golds in international tournaments. In the past five years, the Canucks have only one title in 10 tries combined at the under-18s and world juniors. Read more

Junior player assessed match penalty for incident with official, suspended for 365 days

Jared Clinton
Danton Ayotte (via Facebook)

Danton Ayotte, who plays for the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Murray Oil Barons, is going to be watching from the sidelines for quite some time after Hockey Alberta suspended the winger for 365 days.

The suspension comes in the wake of an incident involving a referee during the Oil Barons Dec. 6 game against the Brooks Bandits. The 19-year-old Ayotte was ejected in the first period, assessed a match penalty, and the ruling from Hockey Alberta came down yesterday. Read more

Small Ontario town rallies around star Jr. A player badly injured representing Canada

Adam Proteau
Neil Doef (via smithfallsbears.pointstreaksites.com)

Seventeen-year-old Neil Doef is a small-town Canadian kid like so many other small-town kids across this country: chasing the hockey dream, day and night, evenings, weekends, and probably in his dreams as well. But like very few kids, he had talent to go along with that love of the game: he was the leading scorer on the Jr. A Smiths Falls Bears of the Central Canada Hockey League, and the rookie of the year in that league last season at age 16; he’d just agreed to a full hockey scholarship at Princeton University; and he was named to Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge in Kindersley, Sask.

Sadly, that’s where Doef’s life took a tragic turn on Sunday. Playing against the Swiss team, the left winger fell into the boards after colliding with a defenseman and suffered a terrible injury that not only threatens his hockey future, but his ability to live as he did before the game was played.

(At the request of Doef’s family, Hockey Canada president Tom Renney wouldn’t confirm Doef is dealing with major spinal trauma, but that was the suspicion. “(We) are not able to provide any further details and will when it is deemed most appropriate,” Renney said in a statement.)

Doef’s home of Smiths Falls (population 8,777) is admirably rallying around the injured youngster. An online fundraising campaign had raised more than $5,500 in two days, and the local Shopper’s Drug Mart has pledged $5,000 and will collect donations at its location. People interested in helping Doef can donate money at any Scotiabank branch under the account name “Doefstrong in trust”, or send an online money transfer to the address doefstrong@gmail.com.

The hockey world needs no more examples of how inherently dangerous the game can be. All we can do is do our best to help people who’ve been hurt. And although Doef faces a long and tough road, it’s heartening to see how quickly hockey’s family has stepped up to support him at such an awful time.

81 hospitalized after carbon monoxide leak at junior hockey game

Jared Clinton
Poppy Waterman Ice Arena (via LakeDelton.org)

A carbon monoxide leak sent 81 people who attended a hockey game at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton, Wisc. to hospital, including nearly an entire Minnesota Junior Hockey League team.

Each member of the Rochester Ice Hawks that skated in Saturday’s contest was sent to hospital Saturday evening, including the coaching staff. The source of the carbon monoxide is said to be one of the rink’s two ice resurfacers, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune. Read more

Ontario League player accidentally runs kid over during pregame warmups

Jared Clinton
Kid Clotheslined Featured

On Friday night, during the pregame skate of an Ontario League contest, a minor hockey player had been chosen to rip around the ice with the Oshawa Generals. All was going well until he found the arm of the Generals players.

The video, which we first saw on Yahoo!’s Buzzing The Net, shows that the poor kid didn’t even stand a chance. Read more

Inspirational Mike Nichols still working towards getting back on the ice

The Hockey News
Nichols_644x428

By Chris Kazarian

At the end of June, 17-year-old Mike Nichols was drafted by the FHL’s Danbury Whalers. He regularly texts Maple Leafs left winger James van Riemsdyk and talks often with former New York Rangers star Adam Graves. And he was a featured guest on WFAN’s Boomer & Carton Show in November before heading to Madison Square Garden later that evening, celebrating his favorite team’s 5-0 blanking of the Pittsburgh Penguins inside the Rangers’ dressing room.

These days Nichols is living every teenager’s dream. Only it took a nightmare for him to get there. Read more

Female referees to officiate Southern Pro game for Girl Scout Night

Jared Clinton
SPHLFeatured

On Friday, Nov. 21, when the Southern Pro League’s Columbus Cottonmouths take on the Fayetteville FireAntz, referees Erin Blair and Katie Guay will be making the calls.

Both highly decorated and with a ton of international experience, the female duo was selected to work the game, in partnership with the Cottonmouths and USA Hockey, as part of Columbus’ Girl Scout Night. Former NCAA players, Blair and Guay have been part of some of the most notable international women’s tournaments, and this will further add to their list of achievements. Read more