Minnesota’s annual All-Hockey Hair Team soars again

Ryan Kennedy
East Grand Forks goalie Garrett Lieberg

The Minnesota state high school tournament is a bucket list event for any hardcore hockey fan, with sold-out crowds packing the home of the NHL’s Wild each year. And while the hockey itself can be heart-racing, some of the hairstyles are just as harrowing.

For years now, Pulltab Productions has put together an All-Hockey Hair Team and this season’s edition lives up to the hype. I was actually eagerly anticipating this.

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Minnesota high school player scores while flying through the air

Jared Clinton
Jon Kopacek scores while flying through the air. (via YouTube)

There has been great diving, sprawling goals in the last decade. But from Alex Ovechkin’s famous falling tally against the Coyotes to one this season in the EIHL, it’s hard to match the effort on this goal by Jon Kopacek.

Kopacek, a senior at New Ulm High School in New Ulm, Minn., scored what can’t even be considered a video game goal. After skating in over the opposition blueline, Kopacek fired a shot on goal, which left a big rebound.

When it was clear that he wasn’t going to beat the second defender to the puck, Kopacek dove for the loose puck, connected with his backhand and knocked it in past the outstretched pad of Mahtomedi netminder Will Swanson. See it for yourself: Read more

Toronto minor hockey league aims to further curb bodychecking

Ken Campbell
Minor hockey  (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Depending upon how you look at it, the Greater Toronto Hockey League is on the verge of becoming either an outlier or a pioneer. It could become one of the first jurisdictions to have its older kids to play at a competitive level without bodychecking, even if it means they won’t be able to compete in tournaments and championships at the provincial level.

The GTHL, which is home to some 40,000 players and bills itself as the largest minor hockey association in the world, intends to put a vote to its membership a rule change that would take bodychecking out of all age groups at the ‘A’ level. Presently, bodychecking is not allowed at any competitive level below bantam (12 years old and under) or at any age level in house league competition under Hockey Canada’s rules. But this rule would take bodychecking out of the game at all age levels, including the bantam and midget levels, for all ‘A’ leagues. Read more

Ontario Reign unveil jerseys they’ll wear when they make jump to AHL next season

Adam Proteau
The new Ontario Reign logo (image courtesy of L.A. Kings)

The ECHL’s Ontario Reign is part of the groundbreaking new American League Pacific division – and Wednesday, the L.A. Kings affiliate unveiled their new jerseys and logo when they make the jump to the AHL next season.

The Reign, who’ve won four ECHL Pacific Divsion championships, were aiming for a new look that establishes a connection with their parent team in Los Angeles – and they can pat themselves on the back knowing the mission was accomplished. When you look at the logo and jersey, you can’t help but think Kings, and not simply because of the colors. Speaking of: Their new home jerseys are white with black and gray stripes along the waist and elbows, and a black stripe runs along the shoulders and sleeve of the jersey; and their road jerseys are black with white and grey stripes along the waist and elbows. But the logo is unmistakably reminiscent of the Kings': Read more

Toronto girls’ hockey league’s new no-touch policy between players & coaches source of great debate

Adam Proteau
Girls from the Leaside Girls Hockey Association at Toronto City council in 2009. 
(Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

In news that will be welcome to some and troubling to others, a Toronto girls’ hockey league issued an edict to coaches this week that forbids them to touch players on the bench.

On the heels of a complaint to the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association, the league sent coaches an email informing them of the new, zero-tolerance policy on contact with players. The new guidelines also include a ban on social media interactions, and restrictions on when men are permitted to be in dressing rooms and email communication. But the outcry over the email mostly concerns the new rules regarding contact.

“(U)nder no circumstances should there be contact with the players, in any way,” said the directive from John Reynolds, head of the house league. “Putting hands on shoulders, slapping butts, tapping them on the helmet, NOTHING, this can make some of the girls uncomfortable and you won’t know which ones, so no contact, period.” Read more

Five bizarre Bakersfield Condors memories as we say goodbye to ECHL’s weirdest, coolest franchise

Jared Clinton
An actual condor escaped its handler at a Bakersfield Condors game, landing on the home team's bench before leaving the ice. (via YouTube)

All good things must come to an end, and in the 2015-16 season the Bakersfield Condors will be no more.

The ECHL franchise is slated to become an AHL team next season as part of the NHL affiliate’s relocation and subsequent addition to the new five-team Pacific Division. As such, they’ll be dropping the at times infamous Condors handle and will be looking to select a new name, logo, and look for the squad.

Saying goodbye to the Condors isn’t easy, though. Over the years, the team has gained notoriety as one of the most creative organizations in sports, staying relevant with hilarious promotions and some amazing moments. These are the five most notable memories in Condors history: Read more

Courage Canada founder DeMontis inspires with blind hockey tournament

Jared Clinton
AMI presents the Courage Canada Blind Hockey Tournament brought to you by CNIB, which kicks off on Feb. 13 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ont. (via YouTube)

When the AMI 2015 Courage Canada Blind Hockey Tournament kicks off on Feb. 13, it will be a celebration of an incredible effort by Mark DeMontis and the Courage Canada team – an effort that has seen the tournament grow, teach and inspire those who participate, watch and volunteer.

Diagnosed with Leber’s optic neuropathy, a rare degenerative eye disease, DeMontis was left blind by age 17. A promising hockey player before losing his vision, DeMontis said he went into a depression from age 19 to 22, something he accredited to being away from the game for so long. In search for something to inspire, DeMontis looked to Chris Delaney, an athlete who after losing his vision to Leber’s like DeMontis, rode across Canada on a tandem bicycle in 1996.

“One day I was looking at my bedside at my parent’s home in Weston, and I had an old pair of rollerblades just sitting there,” said DeMontis. “I remember going to bed that night, and I just had this vision in my head of being on skates across the country, meeting people and getting something moving and started. I didn’t exactly know what that was, but shortly after I realized what I was passionate about was the sport of blind hockey.” Read more

ECHL will replace three relocated AHL teams in 2015-16

Jared Clinton
ECHL Logo Featured

It may not be the same league, but a trio of cities that were announced to be losing their AHL teams in 2015-16 will see the clubs replaced with ECHL hockey.

Manchester, N.H., Norfolk, Va., and Adirondack, which plays out of Glens Falls, N.Y., will each be recipients of relocated ECHL franchises for next season, each of which will replace a relocated AHL team. Read more