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Sports Then and Now



The Tragic Story of Hockey in Czechoslovakia 3

Posted on February 14, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Czechoslovakia was a hockey power during the 1940s and 1950s, winning gold medals in the World Championships in 1947 and 1949. The country’s national teams also won a silver medal in the 1948 Olympics, losing to Team Canada on goal differential. Unfortunately, two tragic events ended the careers of most of the players responsible for this success, launching Czechoslovakian hockey into a dark period where they did not win a major tournament for over 20 years.

czechoslovak-national-hockey-team-probably-1949

The Plane Crash

In 1948, the Czechoslovakian team was on top of the world, having taken over as perhaps the most dominant hockey nation in the world. In preparation for the upcoming 1949 World Hockey Championships, the team scheduled a couple of exhibition games against Great Britain. The team would fly from Paris, where they had been staying, to London for these games.

Eight of the players flew out the day before the game and spent the night in a hotel. These players arrived without incident and made their way to Wembley Stadium the next day for the game. The remaining six players stayed in Paris for an extra night and left the morning of the game. These players, Miroslav Pokorny, Zdenek Svarc, Zdenek Jarkovsky, Karel Stibor, Vilibard Stovik and Ladislav Trojak, were never heard from again, as their plane vanished over the English Channel.

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Pittsburgh Penguins playing fine with call-ups 0

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Scott Huntington

Jayson+MegnaHockey is a game of “What Ifs.” What if Ken Dryden had a longer career? What If Brett Hull’s crease violation was called? What If Mario Lemieux didn’t get cancer? So many records and games could be changed by just the slightest details, and we often mull over them and ponder an alternate universe where Kerry Fraser doesn’t blow a call or Tim Thomas doesn’t go hide in a bunker. One of the biggest “What Ifs” involves the Pittsburgh Penguins and their constant injury issues. “What If the Penguins stars never got injured?” Ever since Crosby’s concussion in the Winter Classic, the Penguins have been setting records for man-games lost to injury. This season they’ve already racked up over 210 man-games lost, which is staggering not only in the amount, but the fact that it isn’t just 3rd and 4th liners, but some of their top stars like Malkin, Dupuis, Orpik and Letang. Fortunately, Pittsburgh is lucky enough to have one of the best farm systems in the NHL, and can pull from Wilkes-Barre Scranton and receive NHL-ready players while their starters watch the game from their physical therapy pools. Let’s take a look at a few of the call ups who have been outstanding in their time with the big club.

First, we’ll start with Robert Bortuzzo, who isn’t exactly a call-up, as he started the season with the Penguins, but injuries to regular starters required him to be moved up on a more permanent basis. Bortuzzo is like Brooks Orpik, only bigger and younger. He has the ability to deliver bone crushing checks, yet still has the heads-up awareness to move the puck well. This season has been his first real shot at staying on the roster, and he’s made a good case for an extension.

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A History of Outdoor Hockey 1

Posted on December 09, 2013 by Scott Huntington

The sport of Hockey has its roots on the frozen ponds and lakes of North America, and many of today’s top players grew up learning the sport on local canals and other outdoor rinks. Invented by Canadians in the late 1700’s, and first referenced in print in 1799, the game had always been an outdoor sport. It wasn’t for almost another hundred years that Ice Hockey would first move inside, where it has largely remained ever since.

The first indoor game was held on March 3rd, 1875 in Montreal, Quebec at Victoria Skating Center, and was viewed as a novelty event. However, the indoor version of the game took off, and by 1920, Olympic Hockey was inside, although the 1924 Games were once again outdoors. International Championships would range between indoor and outdoor until the mid 1950’s, including an outdoor Gold Medal game in 1957 between Sweden and the Soviet Union, which boasted 55,000 people in attendance, a record that stood for 40 years.

The NHL has always been a strictly indoor league, but there have been a few notable exceptions. The first such game is probably the most curious, as the 1954 Detroit Red Wings accepted an invitation to play the inmates of the Marquette State Prison in a friendly scrimmage on a rink built by Warden’s mate Oakie Brumm. The Wings defeated the Marquette Prison Pirates soundly. So soundly no one remembers the final score, although it was 18-0 after the 1st period. The Wings even swapped a few players with the inmates to even it up a bit.

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Greatest NHL Fans Behind the Bench (PHOTOS) 1

Posted on December 05, 2013 by Scott Huntington

Hockey is a unique sport, in that the fans can get up close and personal with the game, separated by a mere inch of Plexiglas. This allows for all kinds of great fan/player interaction that you don’t get from other sports. There are two types of fans who sit behind the bench at a hockey game; Fans who like to see the intricacies of how the game works, and crazy weirdos who want to be on television. There’s no better way to ensure you’ll be on the broadcast than to do something wild behind the bench. Here’s how to make sure you get attention:

Insult a team by mocking what their state is famous for

Hockey 3

Are any of them not in alcohol rehab yet?

Be an adorably feisty child

Hockey 2

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Does Team USA Have What It Takes to Win Hockey Gold in Sochi? 2

Posted on December 03, 2013 by Scott Huntington

“Do you believe in Miracles?!” Better question: Can you believe the United States Men’s Ice Hockey Team hasn’t won gold in 33 years? After coming heartbreakingly close to pulling an even bigger upset over Team Canada in 2010, Team USA may have assembled the strongest roster since its Gold Medal Lake Placid team from 1980. GMs David Polle, Ray Shero and Director of Player Personnel Brian Burke have a huge talent pool to choose from this time around, and the names of the 48 invitees to orientation camp reflect not only the proven NHL talent that the United States has built up, but also the youth that USA Hockey’s development program has been fostering. The caliber of this talent pool is a testament to the progress that USA Hockey has made in creating a youth development program that rivals that of our Neighbor to the North. With well-respected Jack Adams winner Dan Bylsma behind the bench, Team USA has high expectations not only from fans, but from the international hockey community.USA hockey

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The Real Life of a Zamboni Driver 49

Posted on October 28, 2013 by Scott Huntington

Last November I was working at a poorly managed tractor dealership that was running out of work. Instead of laying me off, they put me “On Call,” with no intention to call me back. So, after a game at the local rink, I was hanging out with the rink manager and asked “you guys hiring?” fully expecting him to say no. Instead, he replied, “Sure, you wanna drive the Zamboni?”

Zamboni

DO I WANT TO DRIVE THE ZAMBONI???? I could barely stutter out a “yes,” hardly believing my good luck. It was like being handed the keys to my dad’s classic Mustang. Every kid wants to ride/drive the Zamboni when they grow up. There’s something inherently cool about that machine. It is completely unique to hockey, and has an aura of hockey legacy that surrounds it. The mythical Zam driver (those of us in the business call it a “Zam…”) is like the wise old sage of the rink, like Hans in the Mighty Ducks (I know he sharpened skates, but no ones dreams of doing that.). Excited kids press their noses to the glass to watch as the Zamboni lays that smooth sheet of glass like a calm shimmering pond. Fans fill out little lottery cards for their chance to ride the Zam at a pro hockey game. And recently, I’ve found that lots of people have driving or riding one on their “bucket list.”

Zam2

But in reality, its a thankless job. You’re always the killjoy who has to kick people off the ice earlier than they want. You’re also the jerk who takes too long to cut the ice, taking away precious minutes of ice time. Basically, I end up being a glorified lifeguard/janitor making just above minimum wage. Read the rest of this entry →

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