Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Enthusiasm for the Game: Goodmans proud supporters at Clarkson Cup

Having driven from Columbus, Ohio to the 2013 Clarkson Cup in Markham, Ontario, Ed and Michelle Goodman embody the spirit of fan loyalty in the CWHL. Ed is alumni from Ohio State University and a proud follower of the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s hockey team.

With several Buckeyes alumnae (Tessa Bonhomme, Amber Bowman, Natalie Spooner, and Erika Vanderveer) on the Toronto Furies roster, Ed is a tremendous fan of Toronto. Having seen them play with the Buckeyes over the years, he is ecstatic at their success in the CWHL. “Absolutely! I am thrilled for them.”

During Furies games at the Cup, Ed has proudly been donning the Furies jersey. “Michelle and I have adopted the Furies as our team.” When asked who is favourite player was, he stated, “Normally, I don’t like to have favourites. As you can see on my (Furies) jersey, I have the number 25 but I like all the former players.”

While many Buckeyes have made the Furies their CWHL home, the Goodmans are quick to acknowledge another Buckeye legend who is establishing strong roots in the CWHL. “In the recent year, a couple of other players have been drafted by other teams. We also cheer for Laura McIntosh of Brampton.”

Their loyalty for Buckeyes women’s hockey sprang from the fact that it was the only competitive women’s hockey in the community. “We have actually been going to all of the Buckeyes games for awhile. We started in the mid-2000s. At the time, it was the only team that we were aware of.”

Michelle Goodman attended Bowling Green University, a school with a very prominent hockey program. “I have been a huge hockey fan since Bowling Green. I like to think that I am the bigger supporter of the women’s game,” she joked.

Having made an annual excursion to Toronto the last two years, the Goodmans have enjoyed the city. “We really feel like the team and the city has adopted us. We love it here,” the Goodmans remarked.

In having the opportunity to see all the Buckeyes women’s hockey heroes at the Clarkson Cup, it has been a remarkable experience for the Goodmans. “Seeing all these players in one spot for a whole week. There is a really awesome thing about it.”

Thursday, 7 March 2013

10 Reasons to follow the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds

10: Livestrong third jerseys for Hockey Canada: Tessa Bonhomme is a member of Team Livestrong, a group of athletes from throughout the world that have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer. Proceeds from the black and yellow jersey sales will help to support the Livestrong foundation.

9: Momentum of Clarkson Cup helps to complement IIHF Worlds: The coveted prize in the CWHL serves as a great warm-up to Women’s Worlds. With Katka Mrazova (Czech Rep) and Florence Schelling (Switzerland) competing in the CWHL, the league is truly becoming global.  

8: First time a Canadian city has hosted the event twice: The first IIHF Women’s Worlds were hosted by the city of Ottawa in 1990. It is only fitting that the city be the first in Canada to host the event twice. Quickly emerging as a women’s hockey hotbed, the event may help to inspire the next generation of women’s hockey heroes from Ottawa.

7: Rink of Dreams help pays tribute to past heroes: Every Friday night leading up to the first puck drop, Ottawa’s outdoor rink, known as the Rink of Dreams plays host to various different hockey legends. The weekly event serves as a great opportunity for younger fans to learn about the living legends from a generation ago.  

6: Grudge match between Finland and Switzerland: April 2 is more than opening day for the 2013 Women’s World Championships, it is a rematch of the 2012 bronze medal match between Finland and Switzerland.

With Noora Raty guarding the crease for Finland, and Florence Schelling standing between the pipes for Switzerland, the goaltending quality on display is worth the price of admission alone.

5: Finland’s Noora Raty coming off a dream season in NCAA: Having broken the NCAA record for wins in a career and most shutouts in one season, Noora Raty is riding an amazing wave of momentum.

Should Finland hope to return to the medal podium this year, a key factor will be the performance of Raty. While fatigue and exhaustion are serious concerns, Raty has the character and ability to dig deep and provide another marquee performance.

4: Next generation of US Stars: Between Kendall Coyne, Hilary Knight, Amanda Kessel and the Lamoureux Twins, the future is now for USA Hockey. Having come off a second consecutive gold medal at the 2012 Four Nations Cup, these young lionesses should be the catalyst towards a possible gold medal victory in Ottawa.

3: First of many IIHF hockey events leading up to Sochi 2014: While the Four Nations Cup and an exhibition tournament in Sochi lay ahead, the Women’s Worlds is truly the event that kickoffs the countdown to Sochi.

Of note, the last two IIHF Women’s Worlds that were contested before the Winter Games was hardly an indicator of what was to come. The United States claimed the gold medal at the 2005 and 2009 IIHF Women’s Worlds, only to claim bronze at Torino (2006) and silver in Vancouver (2010).

2: Sara Seiler emerges as hometown hero: While she will be competing for her native Germany, Sara Seiler has made Ottawa her second hometown since 2006.
After competing in the Torino Winter Games, Seiler signed with the Ottawa Raiders of the National Women’s Hockey League. Despite a last place season with the Raiders in 2006-07, Seiler would join the Carleton Ravens of Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

A five year career with the Ravens which saw her become the first European to be named team captain earned her a great level of respect among fans and players alike. Playing for her home country in her second country makes Seiler an emotional favorite in what should be a very special event in her storied career.

1: Canada has never lost on home soil: In the history of the event, Canada has always claimed the gold on their home soil. With the event having been played in Canada five times (Ottawa – 1990, Kitchener – 1997, Mississauga – 2000, Halifax – 2004, Winnipeg – 2007), the national women’s team is a perfect 5-for-5.

With Ottawa hosting a second time, Canadian fans are hoping that lightning strikes twice and that another gold is on the way.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Ten Reasons to Watch the Clarkson Cup

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Clarkson Cup, a chance to recognize the greatness that is women’s hockey. For those who have never seen the Clarkson Cup before, here are 10 great reasons!

10) Tune-up to the Women’s Worlds: Just like the NHL Playoffs and the IIHF Men’s Championships run almost parallel to each other, the same level of drama and excitement is part of the women’s game. The IIHF Women’s Worlds tend to be a week or two after the Clarkson, a great testament to the dedication of these fearless, frozen females!
9) Julie Chu is an honorary Canadian: While Julie Chu may be a member of the United States national team, her contributions to Canadian women’s hockey as a member of the Montreal Stars is remarkable.
8) Furies may win Clarkson before Leafs win Stanley: ‘Nuff said.
7) Jayna Hefford is the greatest to have not yet won the Cup: An emotional favorite heading into the Clarkson, she has played for it twice and has yet to win. Like Ted Williams without a World Series or Dan Marino without a Super Bowl, a Clarkson Cup would truly complete the career of this future Hall of Famer.
6) Autographs: The most approachable athletes in pro sports are always glad to sign an autograph
5) Montreal vs. Toronto means something: Unlike the diluted product in men’s hockey, the rivalry between Montreal and Toronto is only growing at the CWHL level. The level of competition and number of stars on each roster is simply amazing. The Toronto Furies feature superstars Tessa Bonhomme, Rebecca Johnston, Natalie Spooner and Jenn Wakefield. Over on Montreal, they have Meghan Agosta, Charline Labonte, Caroline Ouellette and Catherine Ward. A great rivalry!
4) Every year is an opportunity to make history: As the Clarkson Cup is turning five this year, the opportunities to see history unfold are only beginning. This makes the Clarkson an event where anything  can happen and one worth watching!
3) Montreal vs. Boston: The Montreal Stars and the Boston Blades are quickly overtaking the Canadiens and Bruins as the greatest hockey rivalry!
2) Triple Gold Club for Women: Though not yet officially recognized by the IIHF, the Triple Gold Club for Women is a player that has claimed Winter Games gold, IIHF World Gold, and a Clarkson Cup. Less than ten women have done it, and the only American to have accomplished it is Jenny Schmidgall-Potter.
1) Montreal Stars Dynasty: Having won three of the first four Clarkson Cups, the Stars are one of the great hockey dynasties of the modern era
They are the best at what they do. Here’s hoping that one day girls will play on the frozen pond imagining that they are playing for the Clarkson Cup the way boys dream of playing for Lord Stanley’s Mug!