Hey folks, it’s cold outside. These winter weekends can be pretty dull, am I right? So your friendly neighborhood blogger over here at The United States of Hockey wants to pull you out of the winter doldrums. I’ve seen several interesting stories over this week from around the country that I felt should be shared. So grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, cozy up to your computer screen and enjoy some light weekend reading.
— I’m going to start with this heart-warming story out of Apple Valley, Minn. If you haven’t heard the name Hudson Fasching yet, you probably will begin to hear it a lot more. According to Chris Dilks at Western College Hockey Blog, Fasching is currently the top 1995-born hockey player in the state of Minnesota, and is among the elite in the entire country. While his hockey prowess is inarguable, his character is what will stand out after watching this piece by WCCO, a CBS affiliate out of Minneapolis. Fasching has two younger siblings with rare DNA disorders that leave both unable to walk or speak. The 15-year-old hockey star is a big part of his younger brother and sister’s lives. The Fasching family’s story will inspire you. (May require tissues.)
— The variety of arenas in college hockey is one of the many things that makes the college game great. The Wall Street Journal’s Darren Everson and Hannah Karp toured the country, visiting some of the top arenas in NCAA hockey, and reported on the ones that stood out the most. It’s a very fun read and great motivation to start planning some hockey trips!
— Earlier on Friday, I was taken aback by this beautifully written piece by Neal Livingston over at Copper and Blue, the SBNation blog for the Edmonton Oilers. It’s extremely enjoyable to read. Here’s a preview.
When the AHL schedule was released in mid-August of last year, fans were eager to see the newly established Oklahoma City Barons team play on several key nights. However, not very high on that list was the February 9th, 2010 School Day Game which is somewhat of a double-headed monster for two reasons. It is an incredible opportunity for school kids to see a Barons game, thus furthing the game in the community, yet at the same time is a nagging misfortune for season ticket holders, and adult patrons of the game that just can’t make a 10:30am start time in the middle of the week. Needless to say, you could expect a low attendance, lackluster play, and a crowd cheer that would be a full octave higher than your typical hockey game. But what could have been disastrous for the Barons organization turned into an incredible moment for desperate Oklahoma hockey fans.
— FIVE NATIONS UPDATE: The U.S. National Under-18 Team defeated host Czech Republic, 3-1, at the 2011 Under-18 Five Nations Cup today. Team USA improved to 3-0-0-0 and a win against Finland Sunday secures the title for the U.S.
Reid Boucher notched his seventh point of the tournament with a goal today. He now has three goals and four assists. Rocco Grimaldi posted his team-leading eighth point with an assist on Boucher’s goal. Blake Pietila continued his hot streak, scoring Team USA’s second goal, his third of the tournament. The third U.S. tally was scored by 1994-born Nicolas Kerdiles, the only under-age player on Team USA’s roster. John Gibson was in net for the U.S.
— VLAD DZURILLA UPDATE: The U.S. National Under-17 Team (1994 birth years) opened play against 1993-born international foes at the Vlad Dzurilla Under-18 Tournament today in Slovakia. The U.S. got off to a great start with a 5-1 win over Switzerland.
Team USA got goals from Matthew Lane, Cam Darcy, Stefan Matteau, Ryan Hartman and Riley Barber. Matteau also had an assist to pace the U.S. attack. Collin Olson stopped 23-of-24 shots to improve to 6-0-0 against international opponents. Side Note: Riley Barber is currently on loan to Team USA from the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. Barber is having a solid rookie season with 20 points for Western Conference-leading Dubuque.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team has produced a staggering 11-0-0-1 record in international competition and has not lost, USHL or international, since Jan. 4 (the championship game at the 2011 World U17 Hockey Challenge). This 1994 group is an impressive one. Expect big things from them in the future.
As for the near future, Team USA takes on Germany Saturday at 6:15 a.m. EST, and closes out round-robin play against host Slovakia Sunday at 9:30 a.m. EST.
— The USA Hockey National Pond Hockey Championships kick off today in Eagle River, Wis. The event has grown every year since it’s inception six years ago. This year’s event includes 250 teams and approximately 480 pond hockey games on 24 rinks on Dollar Lake. Just a fantastic event for the adult players around the country. I’m hoping next year is the year I finally have the chance to go. Anyone else want to come?
— As you know, next week kicks off Hockey Weekend Across America. With next Friday being Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day, I wanted to pose a few hockey jersey questions to my readers.
What is your favorite hockey jersey that you own? Also, what is your favorite hockey jersey of all time? Any league, any time period. Tell me why, too. Perhaps its a jersey you wished you owned or maybe its a childhood favorite or maybe you just think it looks cool. I want to know.
You can answer in the comments here, over on Facebook or on Twitter. Next Friday, I will share some of the results in my piece about love for the hockey jersey in honor of Hockey Weekend Across America.
Have a great weekend everyone. Check back on Monday for full recaps from the Under-18 Five Nations Cup and the Vlad Dzurilla U18 Tournament.