November 19, 2011

Monctonian Day 3 Wrap Up

Major Midget Semi Finals and Minor Midget Finals are set for Sunday. In the Major Midget Division The St. John's Privateers will meet the Fredricton Canadiens and the Valley Wildcats face the Halifax Titans. In Minor Midget the Calgary Bruins try to do what noone in Atlantic Canada has been able to do this season, and that is beat the Mid-Isle Matrix.
The Privateers and Canadiens both used 2-1 victories to reach the semis. Marcus Cuomo scored the game winner for St. John's as they beat the Cole Harbour Wolfpack. Fredricton needed overtime and Zach Whitlock was the hero as the Canadies upended Dartmouth Talor Flooring. Ryan MacEachern scored a goal and set up the winner as Halifax defeated Cape Breton 3-2. Valley Wildcats road to the semi final went through Pictou County as Nick Blanchard was in on all 3 goals, scoring 2. Pictou could only muster a lone tally. Semi final action is at 9 am and the Final is at 3 pm.
In the Minor Midget Division the defending champs, Mid-Isle Matrix built a 5-0 lead and cruised to a 5-2 victory over the very tired Bedford Blues. Jordan Mayhew led the way with a goal and 2 assist and Jonathan Richards had 2 goals. Bedford refused to quit and put in a great effort but 12 periods of hockey in 1 day proved to be too much. In the other semi final match up the Calgary Bruins scored twice in the final period including an empty netter as they handed the Saint John Phantoms only their second loss of the year 4-2. Patrick Lyster scored the winner.
Calgary and Mid-Isle will meet at 11:30 am to decide a champion.
- Mike Lord

Monctonian Playoff Round Underway

Playoffs are underway at the 31st Annual Monctonian Midget AAA Challenge. In the Major Division the 1/4 finals are set as #1 seed Fredricton Canadians play Dartmouth Talor Flooring at 8:30 pm at the Red Ball Internet Center. Dartmouth  defeated South Shore Mustangs 5-0 in the first Wildcard game. The Cape Breton West Islanders clawed out a 2-1 overtime victory over the Cornwall Thunder in  the second wild card game to earn a date with the 2 seed Halifax Titans. That game is also at 8:30 pm.
The other 2 quarter final games played at 6:30pm will feature 3rd overall Cole Harbour Wolfpack against the 6th place St. John's Privateers. The 4th seed Valley Wildcats from Nova Scotia meet 5th place Pictou County Weeks.
The final four is set for the Minor Division. The early playoff rounds featured plenty of tight contests including several overtime games. The story of the tournament is shaping up to be the Bedford Blues who played in the first wild card game this morning and squeaked out a 2-1 overtime win against the North West Bulls. That win earned them a quarterfinal game with 1st seed Truro Bearcats. Again Bedford used overtime heroics to grab a 3-2 win in the second extra frame. Their efforts earned them a semifinal berth against defending champion Mid-Isle Matrix from Prince Edward Island. The Matrix are using defence to win games as the have a team goals against average of 0.250 after a 5-0 win over the Sherwood Falcons.
The other Semifinal sees the Calgary Bruins match up against the Saint John Phantoms. Calgary used a victory over the tired Charlottetown Abbies, final score was 3-2. Charlottetown defeated PEI rivals Western Regals 2-1 in overtime. Saint John won their quarter final game 3-2 over the Calgary Stamps.
The Major Midget semi's go Sunday morning at 9am and the championship game is at 3pm. The Minor Midget Division final is slated for 11:30 am.
- Mike Lord

Monctonian Day 2 Wrap Up

Day 2 is all over for the Minor Division of the Monctonian AAA Challenge. Playoff match ups are set and begin at 9am tomorrow morning. The Truro Bearcats grabbed the top seed on the strength of their goal scorers as they tallied 23 times in their 3 wins and only allowed 1 goal against. The Calgary Minor Bruins edged the defending champions by 1 goal as they finished 3-0 with a goals for - goals against differential of +15. Truro and Calgary will await the winners of the 2 wildcard games early tomorrow morning. In the first wild card game the 1-0-2 Charlottetown Abbies will play the Western Regals who also have a 1-0-2 record. Both teams are from Prince Edward Island. In the other wild card game The Bedford Blues match up against the North West Bulls. 
Truro will play the winner of the Bedford North West game and Calgary will play the winner between Charlottetown. The other quarter final matchups see another all PEI match up with Mid-Isle Matrix and Sherwood Falcons locking horns. The Calgary Stamps and Saint John Phantoms will meet in the last quarterfinal game of the day. All 4 games are at 2:15 and the semifinals are at 8:30pm. Championship will be contested Sunday morning at 11:30.
The major midget teams had the evening off for the most part. 40 players played in the QMJHL prospects game. Team Blue defeated Team Orange 7-3. Andrew Mergl of the Saint John Vitos was stellar in goal for Team orange during the second half of the game. Charlottetowns Kameron Kielly scored twice for Blue and added a helper. After the game the teams had a shootout for the scouts. Team blue was victorious as well 10-7.
Major Midget Round Robin wraps up at 2 pm. Wild card games begin at 4:30.

Oh, What A Miss!! A Look Back on the NHL's Should Have... Could Have

Craig Smith’s rookie season with the Predators so far has been little short of spectacular but last night he had a moment to regret as he put a puck into the crowd with the oppositions netminder pulled and gaping twine in front of him. Hell, even the arena’s goal buzzer and spotlight staff gave the goal before they realised what he had actually done. By everyone in the arena’s reactions I don’t think anyone knew he had missed apart from the player himself and the section of the crowd who ended up with the puck. Thankfully for Smith the game was already won and the miss won’t go down as anything other than an amazing miss from a player who has been outstanding so far this season.

However, looking back at some of the greatest misses of all time – certain players have missed with more dramatic circumstances.

Esa Tikkanen – Washington Capitals 1998 Stanley Cup Final
It was game 2 and the Caps were leading the Red Wings 4-3 with 10 minutes left in the 3rd as Tikkanen broke in on Osgood, faked a slap shot and rounded the diving netminder. He left himself a wide open net to slide the puck into but managed to put it back across the crease and wide of the far post. Later in the period Doug Brown stole a puck and put it top shelf on Kolzig from close range to send the game into an OT period. Kris Draper was the hero winning the game for Detroit to give them a 2-0 series lead. Detroit went on to sweep the Caps 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup.

Patrick Stefan – Dallas Stars V Edmonton Oilers 2007
Dallas may have gone on to win this game via a shootout but by god they should have sealed it well before then. The chance for Bergeron fanned on the puck at his blue line and Stefan bore down on an empty net. He casual skated into the crease and allowed the puck to move from forehand to back hand to tap the puck into the net. However, he somehow missed the puck, slid into the corner and allowed the Oilers to break away with only 10 seconds left. A hail mary pass out of the zone and a deflection by Ryan Smyth sent Alex Hemsky in on Marty Turco who showed Stefan how to go forehand / backhand as he levelled the game at 5-5 with 2 seconds of the game left.

Glen Wesley – Boston Bruins 1990 Stanley Cup Final
The Bruins defenseman had a glorious opportunity in game 1 of 1990’s Stanley Cup final. The Bruins had fought back from 2-0 down and when Wesley picked up a feed from Carter and ghosted inbetween 2 players he found a sprawled netminder on the floor and a wide open net in front of him. He fired the puck high backhand but put it 2 feet over the bar.

The Bruins went on to lose the game in triple overtime and Petr Klima went on to score to give Edmonton a 3-2 win and a base to build on. They went on to win the series 4-1 and gather their first cup without Wayne Gretzky in the line up.

So, Craig Smith – you are not alone with what occurred last night. It’s always better to get a miss like that out of the system before April arrives and the Predators hopefully launch another playoff campaign!

- Adam Yates

November 18, 2011

Bad Boys And Bruisers - The NHL's Toughest Characters

Everyone’s attention at the start of this season has been on the stars of the NHL. The point scorers leading the charts and the netminders who have been on fire have been on the lips of most fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

I thought I’d take a few minutes to look at the bad boys and bruisers so far and look at who is leading the way in fights and penalty minutes. The so called “role” players that have been sparking wars and lighting fires across the ice.

Tied at the top of the PIM’s list are Ottawa’s Zenon Konopka and Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo with a whopping 73 minutes.

Konopka has taken a whopping 572 minutes in his past 2 seasons split with the Islanders and Lightning and looks set to come close to the 307 minutes he posted last season. In his last 6 games alone he has dropped the gloves 4 times, taken a major for boarding against the Rangers, picked up a 10 minute fight instigator misconduct and had a 2 fight game in the 7-2 loss against the Flyers.

One of those fights was against Rinaldo who is tying him on 73 points at the top of the bad boy leader board.  He has managed 5 fights so far this season but has been picking up numerous 2 minute minor penalties as well as 3 10 minute misconducts that have seen him shoot to the top of the list.  Infact, out of his 14 games played he has failed to take a penalty in only 3 of them.

3rd on the list sees our 2nd player from the Ottawa Senators, Chris Neil who is slightly lagging behind his team mate Konopka with only 52 points. In all fairness, Neil took 19 of those in one incident in a game against the Maple Leafs Luke Schenn when he got 2 for roughing, 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct. Since then he has only dropped the gloves one other time and taken another 10 minute misconduct but a 3 minors against the Bruins and 2 against The Capitals have helped bump up his number. With 2 out of the top 3 so penalised players so far it is no wonder Ottawa are the team to have been shorthanded 2nd most so far this season, with only Winnipeg being shorthanded more times.

Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning sits 4th on the list with 49 points, however 29 of these were taken in back to back games against close rivals Florida.

This brings us to 5th place and Brandon Dubinsky of the New York Rangers. Maybe it was early season frustration whilst trying to get that 1st goal that led to Dubinsky taking 37 of the minutes in his opening 4 games but since then he has only picked up 5 minors over 12 games so don’t expect him to be here come the end of the season.

There you have it, a look at the 5 most penalised players so far this season!
- Adam Yates

Unseen stars shine in Isles 4-3 victory over Montreal

Night in and night out the New York Islanders (5-8-3) had stars sacrificing their bodies, blocking shots, while playing unselfish hockey. In the Isles 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens (8-8-3), those players, as well as the rest of the team were rewarded with two points.

“I thought tonight those were the guys who deserve the credit,” said head coach Jack Capuanoof the unseen stars stepping-up in the game. “Guys like Matt Martin played a strong game, along with Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner …it weren’t the top performers that we were used too, it was a total team effort and great to see those guys step-up tonight.”

Also helping the Isles was having a drive, fire and determination to win, New York finished the night outshooting Montreal by a total of 33-29, along with blocking 24 of the Canadiens shots that came their way.

The Isles had their scary moments, including costly turnovers late in the game, but the team continued to grind through to snap a four game losing streak. One of the scariest moments came with 12:05 on the scoreboard when keeper Evgeni Nabokov was run into for the second game.

Nabby, who was banged up after Round Two against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, this time could not continue the game-immediately went into the locker room for treatment.  It was announced that the cager is day-to-day with an injured groin, and will be re-evaluated by physicians on Friday.

Quickly grabbing his gear and getting into the game was Rick DiPietro, who made 24 impressive saves in 51:43 of ice time in the net for the Islanders.  Backing their keeper up on both ends of the ice, the team got on the scoreboard at the 0:41 mark.

P.A. Parenteau (3) set the scoring tone early for the Isles, as the forward put on a beauty of a move for a backhanded goal and an early 1-0 lead. Jay Pandolfo doubled the tally with 3:01 on the scoreboard on a tip-in shot, which was assisted by Josh Bailey (2) and Matt Martin (1).

For Pandolfo the goal was a special one, as it was not only his first with the Islanders, but also his 100th career goal in the NHL.  The forward has been one of the many unseen stars who have been quietly contributing to the team.

“That was big for us tonight to find a way to win,” said Pandolfo. The forward had this to say on the goal, “Matt Martin made a good play in the defensive zone, and we had the 3-on-2. Matty slid it over to me and we were driving to the net and that is what made that goal possible.”

Jay had this to say of scoring his first goal with the team, “It feels good; it feels good to get a win as well. We have been struggling to get those two points lately; this was a big game for our team. Now we have to build off of this, and start finding ways to win games.”

Isles captain Mark Streit (2) gave his team a three goal lead at the 9:08 mark, which was assisted by Martin (2).  Montreal spoilt the shutout bid by DiPietro at the 14:52 mark when Max Pacioretty (9) recorded a 28 foot snap shot.

The Habs made things interesting, when they cut the lead at 17:38, when Erik Cole (5) put in an 11 foot wrister, cutting the Isles lead to one goal.  Matt Moulson (6) helped the Isles regain that lead, as well as momentum putting in a 12 foot wrister for the fourth Islanders goal.

“That fourth goal was big for us,” said Streit of the fourth goal of the game. “They scored two and made it close, we struggled there for a bit in our own end, and to be able to get that fourth goal is always huge for us.”

Before the Isles could skate away with two points though, it was during this point that turnovers and penalties allowed the Canadiens to cash in on a power play goal. Montreal captain Brian Gionta tallied a 12 foot wrister at the 15:42 mark of the third period, making the New York lead 4-3.

The Habs continued with a barrage of shots, which were all blocked or stopped by DiPietro, with the horn sounding on two vital points for the Islanders.

“I think it is a step in the right direction,” DiPietro said after the game. “I wouldn’t say this is the end-all, there is still a lot of work to be done. At the end of the day, this team isn’t going to settle for mediocrity. We’re not going to be happy winning one game, and then losing a couple.”

Now the challenge for this team is to keep the positive momentum going, and the test will be a tough one-as the Isles will face the reigning Stanley Cup Champions the Boston Bruins on Saturday.  The game is scheduled to air on the MSG Plus network, and face-off slated for 7:00 p.m.

Ed Westfall Night:  Prior to the game against the Boston Bruins the New York Islanders will induct their original captain Ed Westfall into the franchise’s Hall of Fame. The Isles will have a video tribute to Westfall’s career, while also dedicating a plaque and the raising of a Hall of Fame banner to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum’s rafters.

Stacy Podelski

November 17, 2011

Monctonian Report Day #1 - Cornwall Superior Thunder Seeded # 1

The first day of play is in the books at the 31st Monctonian AAA Challenge and the 4 ice surfaces at the Red Ball Internet Center were kept busy as 34 games were played. The 2 defending champions had very different days. The Charlottetown Islanders lost their only game to the defending Atlantic Canada Champions by a score of 5-1. As for the Mid-Isle Matrix in the Minor Division they were the victors in both of their games by scores of 4-0 and 5-1 over North West Bulls and Cumberland Ramblers respectively.

The host teams had poor results today as well. The Moncton Major Midget Flyers lost their first game of the season to the Missisaugua Senators 3-2 and the Minor Midget Flyers lost both of their contests, one to the Bedford Blues 6-0 and the other to the Calgary Minor Stamps 3-2.

All Major Division teams played 1 game today and the Cornwall Superior Thunder currently hold the #1 seed with a goals for - goals against differential of +5. The Fredricton Canadiens and the Halifax Titans are tied for 2nd with +4 differentials. In all 11 games were played and 11 more are on tap for tomorrow. The round robin wraps up Saturday at 2pm. 10 players are tied for the scoring lead with 3 points each. Day 2 is moving day as some teams face must win games to keep their hopes of claiming 1 of 10 playoff spots.

In the Minor Division 23 games were played as some teams played 2 games and others just 1. Mid-Isle, Bedford Blues, Saint John Phantoms and the Cape Breton West Eagles are in the driver seat of their respective divisions with 2 wins - 4 points each. Where this division gets interesting is in Group C as the Kenn Valley Spartans and the Charlottetown Abbies tied each other at 4 and both sit atop their division with 3 points. Currently Charlottetown has a 1 goal advantage in the tie breaker. In Group A the Calgary Stamps and Bedford Blues are undefeated. Calgary has 2 games remaining and Bedford just 1 against the Stamps. Noah Popwell leads all scorers with 6 points in 2 games. Zack Finlay from the Calgary Minor Bruins had a 5 point effort in their lone game, a 6-1 victory over Sydney Steelers. The round robin finishes up tomorrow night and the 7 division winners plus the 3 next best teams advance to the playoff round which starts Saturday Morning.

Stay tuned for further updates tomorrow.

- Mike Lord

Get Real Hockey Guide to the Belfast Giants

Home Rink: The Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Colours: Teal, White, Red

The Belfast Giants have been one the success stories of the last 10 years not just in ice hockey terms but culturally as well. Formed for the start of the 2000 Superleague season the team has become part of the fabric of British ice hockey managing to be competitive every season and bringing in some of the biggest names the UK has seen. All this has been done whilst succeeding where no other sport has by representing an entire community that has all too often been divided by politics, economics and religion. The result is that with its city center bars, restaurants, hotels, arena and the Giants, Belfast is now one of the premier locations in Europe to watch a game.

Formed for the start of the 2000 Superleague season the Giants have been well backed from the start including playing in the Odyssey Arena that opened the same year. The team quickly established itself has a front runner winning their first title the next season. The following year the team were runners up in the league but won the play off title.

The change to the Elite League however has led to somewhat leaner times given their start in hockey life. The team did however win the Elite League title in 2006 and the won the knock out and Challenge Cup in 2009 as well as 2010 play offs. It is though the league title that the side is desperate for and currently sits at the top the EIHL table.

There have been three other notable points of Belfast history. In 2003 the Belfast Giants represent the UK at the Continental Cup Finals (Europe’s premier club competition at that time). Then for the 2005-2006 season they pulled off the biggest coup in British ice hockey history by signing former Calgary Flames legend Theo Fleury. If that was not big enough then to mark their tenth anniversary the Belfast Giants formed a select all star team to face the touring Boston Bruins.

The Bruins were on their preseason European tour before opening the season in Prague and headed to Belfast to celebrate with the team in a place dear to Bostonians hearts. The Bruins won the game 5-1 but the Giants and UK national team goalie Stephen Murphy kept a shutout in his period.

The prospects look good for Belfast and the continuing rumours of an EIHL team in Dublin may lead to a derby in the Odyssey. In the meantime however their hunt for the elusive league title goes on.

Belfast Stats

League Titles: 2

Playoff Titles: 2

Challenge Cup Titles: 1

Neil Tucker

San Jose Sharks: 5 Reasons Why This is the Year the Sharks Will Finally Win the Stanley Cup

For years experts have been picking the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup and have continuously been wrong.

Getting knocked out early and “choking” have added pressure for them to bring the cup to Northern California. That pressure is being felt by Doug Wilson, the general manager, who is not satisfied with two consecutive trips to the Western Conference Finals and made big changes this offseason.
Why is this year different from the past?

Here are 5 reasons why this is the year the Sharks will finally win the Stanley Cup.

1: Two-way Players: The offseason additions of Brent Burns and Martin Halvat will pay off and make General Manager Doug Wilson look like a genius at the season’s end. Not only is Burns a great defender and Havlat a great winger but they both are great on the other end of the ice.

Brent Burns is another Dan Boyle type defenseman who can move the puck into the offensive zone and create scoring chances, resulting in less pressure on the forwards to score. Having Boyle on the same line as Marc-Edouard Vlasic gives the Sharks the luxury of pairing Burns with Douglas Murray and allows them to have two offensive minded defenseman on the ice for the majority of the game.

Martin Havlat has been a nice fit for the Sharks so far, starting his career in teal with a four game point streak and tallying 8 points in his first 11 games.  Havlat should finish with 20 goals and 40 assists, but he could show how valuable he really is on the defensive end, where he has been stellar thus far.
He uses his speed on both ends of the ice and knows where to be at all times, helping create chances on offense from his solid defense.

2: Blue line depth: This is the best set of defenders the Sharks have ever had on their roster. The top four of Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns and Douglas Murray are as good as any in the NHL but the talent does not stop there.

The young talent of Jason Demers, who had an impressive postseason last year before hurting his ankle, and Justin Braun to go along with the two veteran free agent acquisitions of Colin White and Jim Vandermeer give them depth to overcome an injury or two and allow them to stay fresh for a long playoff run.

3: Versatility: The Sharks have the privilege of being able to shuffle lines to create a match up nightmare with any team in the NHL. Opening night their top line included three centers: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.

Add sophomore stud Logan Couture and you have 4 quality centers which you can insert on any of the top three lines, giving an opposing team a tough task to match up with that kind of depth.  They can also match up with any team in the NHL given their size and speed.

4: Young talent: Once in the playoffs the Sharks will not need to rely on the big names of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle anymore.

They have Joe Pavelski who has played like a superstar in the last two postseasons to go along with Logan Couture, who looks to build off his outstanding rookie season.

These two players can create scoring chances and help the big guys put points on the board, bringing offense from the second and third lines.

5: The pieces of the puzzle connect: The Sharks finally have a team with no weaknesses. They have a good defense, plenty of firepower on offense, a Stanley Cup winning goaltender, a power play that can be lethal and a solid penalty kill unit.

They also have room for a move at the trade deadline if they need to add another piece to the puzzle. According to, they have just over $1.8 million in salary cap space which could come in handy if anyone on the current roster gets hurt.

In the past their defense has been soft at times, hurting them in the playoffs but Brent Burns helps solve that problem.  Another new face, Martin Havlat, adds a player to the roster that has had career postseason success which should be an upgrade from Dany Heatley, who battled injuries in the last two postseasons causing him to play at a sub-par level.

The captain, Joe Thornton, was a monster in the playoffs last year, raising his game to a level which it has never been at before. 

With the addition of two-way players, improved blue line, versatility, young talent, cap space and a determined captain the Sharks will take their turn hoisting the Cup in 2012.

By: Michael Christie
Follow me on twitter @christiemichael

November 16, 2011

Monctonian Tournament Set to Begin

Starting Thursday November 17th the 31st annual Monctonian AAA challenge begins with the first games starting at 8:45am. The site is the Red Ball Internet Centre in Moncton New Brunswick. The Monctonian is a tournament solely for Midget AAA (15-17 years old) teams, and is the largest and most heavily scouted tournament of its kind in all of Canada.
The tournament consists of 2 categories Major Midget and Minor Midget. This year there are 50 teams participating which is an all time high. The Major division has 22 teams, 8 from Nova Scotia, 5 from New Brunswick, 3 from Newfoundland, 3 from Alberta, 2 from Prince Edward Island (PEI) and 1 from Ontario. The Minor Division boasts 28 teams. Nova Scotia is represented by 12 teams, New Brunswick 7, PEI 6, Alberta 2 and Newfoundland 1.
Last year there were 154 scouts at the tournament. They represented teams from Major Junior, Junior A, Canadian Universities and US Colleges.
Some teams to watch this year are the two defending champions, both from PEI. The Charlottetown Islanders (Major) and the Mid-Isle Matrix (Minor) are both considered contenders. The 3 Calgary, Alberta teams and the lone team from Ontario have to be considered as threats in the Major division. The Host team Moncton Flyers are having a stellar season in the NB-PEI Major Midget League and are the early favorites. In the Minor Division, the Mid-Isle Matrix and the Kenn Valley Spartans (NB) are both coming in with identical 11-0 win-loss records in their respective leagues. The 2 teams from Calgary should also be considered as legitimate contenders. 
Stay tuned fro daily updates beginning tomorrow.
- Mike Lord

Isles feeling blue after Round Two loss to Rangers: 4-2

The New York Islanders (4-8-3) were feeling blue, after a round two loss to the New York Rangers (10-3-3) in NHL action on Tuesday night. Jack Capuano’s crew battled throughout the night in front of an energetic 16,234 in attendance at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“We are a desperate hockey team and I thought we were dangerous tonight,” said Capuano. “We really came out and got off to a bit of a slow start, but I liked the way we competed throughout the course of the game.”

With ‘El Nino’ Nino Niederreiter, returning to the team, after missing the first 13 games of the 2011-12 season with a groin injury. In what was a fast-paced hart hitting game in front of a crowd that was clearly divided between the two New York teams.

“He was away for quite a while, but I thought he played well tonight,” said captain Mark Strait of ‘El Nino’s’ performance on the ice tonight. “I wasn’t sure how much ice time he was going to get, when he was out there-he played hard and had a bit of a scoring chance at the end there. He is a big and young guy and his game will only get better.”

The captain had this to say of the game, “It wasn’t a very good start, but we came back and fought hard and tied it up in the last period. There are a lot of positives that we can take out of this game, it is a tough loss but we have got to learn from it-turn the page and move on.”

Sean Avery (2) started the scoring for the Rangers at the 14:43 mark of the first period, recording a 19 foot wrister on a rebounded shot-that was assisted by Brian Boyle (3) and Michael Sauer (2). The Islanders responded with a Frans Nielsen (4) wrister at the 17:06 mark.

The Islanders displayed some beautiful passing as P.A. Parenteau (11) and Travis Hamonic (2) got the puck to Nielsen, who tied the game up on a top-shelf shot. For Parenteau, the forward now has 12 points in the last eight games.

Fans of the Orange and Blue experience a scary moment at the 1:43 mark, when keeper Evgeni Nabokov was ran into by a flurry of players from both teams. Thankfully ‘Nabby’ was able to skate and continued the game under his own power.

Nabby shined during the course of the game, named as the Third Star thanks to the 26 stops made in the cage. The Isles keeper was outdone by Second Star Henrik Lundqvist, who made 31 saves in the game.

“It is all about confidence I think,” Hank said of the win tonight. “When things go against us we don’t panic, we stick to our system and work really hard. This was a huge win for us, they really battled us throughout the night-but we stayed focused and confident and were able to pull out the victory.”

The physical play came to a boiling point at the 1:09 mark of the second period when Sean Avery and Mike Mottau exchanged blows. The two players started to go at it before the end of the first, and resumed their give-and-take with the fight.

Brandon Prust and Matt Martin kept the physical battle of the big apple going with the second fight of the game with 2:54 on the scoreboard.  Steve Eminger gave the Blueshirts a lead at the 6:07 mark, on a 19 foot wrister, which was assisted by Ryan Callahan (3) and Jeff Woywitka (3).

For Eminger, it was his first goal of the season, as blueliner went 30 games without a tally. The Islanders had a huge moment in the game, was when the Islanders killed a 5-on-3 power play opportunity by the Rangers.

The Islanders defense was totally unselfish, sacrificing their bodies and blocking shots to keep the Blueshirts off the board. Capuano’s bunch was rewarded for their fine effort at the 6:58 mark-when Matt Moulson (5) recorded a power play goal to tie the game up for the second time.

Moulson received two beautiful passes from John Tavares (7) and Frans Nielsen (5), tipped-in the second Islanders goal of the game. With the Coliseum crowd growing more electric with each passing second.

Tavares had this to say of the losing streak, “We don’t like it, we don’t enjoy it, but I think we are trying to get better. It is not easy all the time and we don’t enjoy this feeling. I believe we have got the team with the right tools, approach and work ethic-it is just a matter of us putting it all together.”

Nabby made the save of the game around the 13:50 mark when Derek Stephan and Artem Anisimov, both attempted shots at the Islanders cager. Evgeni dives from one side of the net to the other to stone both players.

The Blueshirts regained the lead for good, when sniper Brad Richards (6) tallied a 38 foot slap shot at the 15:05 mark, for the 3-2 lead. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan (8) capped off the seventh straight victory on an empty-net goal before the horn sounded to end the third period of play.

“Richie has scored some points for us early on,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella of his star forward. “I think that was one of his better games with the puck, as far as how hard he was on the puck.”

Things will not get any easier for the Islanders, who have now lost four straight games. The guys form the Island will face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, with the puck drop slated 7:00 p.m. The Rangers will also face the ‘Habs ’on Saturday.

Charity Note: Prior to the game the wives and girlfriends of the New York Islanders players were selling 'Love for Lokomotiv' wristbands. The proceeds of the charity bands will go to the families of the fallen members of the KHL plane crash that happened prior to the start of the NHL season.
Click here for more information on the Love for Lokomotiv foundation:

Stacy Podelski

Fife Flyers Win One over the Hull Stingrays

The Fife Flyers finally ended their torturous weekend of 4 games in 5 nights and ended it in some style. After 15 games to start the season without a victory and only one in the Challenge Cup the Elite League’s smallest and newest team finally got their first win.

With 3 games in 3 nights over the weekend seeming to have taken their toll as 2 players including player coach Todd Dutiaume faced late fitness test all the odds were stacked in Hull Stingrays favour. However this is a Fife team that got a point in Nottingham last weekend when the odds were not with them.

Fife opened the scoring inside two minutes through Siddall then doubled it through Hartmanis before the period was over. But when Cohen scored Fife’s third goal it sparked Hull into life; first with Tendler then Campbell to send the Flyers in at the second intermission only 1 goal up.  After the break Rodin then Dulle gave the visitors the lead and seemed to have ruined the night for the Kirkcaldy men. However Siddall hit a second with 90 seconds to go and send the game in OT.

Fife were still not out of the woods as a Siddall penalty in OT put Hull on the powerplay but the Flyers held on killing the penalty and sending the game to penalties. With no scorers on the board it came to Cohen who put the result in the book. Britain’s oldest club finally got their first win on their return to the top flight and roar in the Kirkcaldy ice rink could be heard across the land.

Fife remains bottom of the league but are now a point behind Dundee and 4 behind Edinburgh and the playoffs. Whilst Hull jump above the Capitals into seventh.

In other news. British forward Andrew Sharp has signed with the Guildford Flames of the EPL. The agitator played most of last season with the Manchester Phoenix winning the EPL title. Sharp has also iced in the EIHL with Sheffield Steelers and comes with a reputation for dropping the gloves and being physical.

Neil Tucker