Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays, Nation - and, oh, do I have some great stuff for you.

After a rare absence from TUMHB-Headquarters, I'm back and my head is spinning with everything going on in the world of Wildcat Hockey. We're going to start with James van Riemsdyk and Blake Kessel at the World Junior Championship then we're going to meander a bit before finishing up with a loyal reader giveaway!

I got to watch the game on the NHL Network Friday afternoon and I was not disappointed with the awesome display that the US Team put on. I saw our very own sophomore, James van Riemsdyk pot two very nice goals which added with his goal and assist from last night in the US's 4-3 win over the Czechs bringing his total to three goals and an assist in their first two games. Blake Kessel played very well Friday as well and I thought he deserved an assist but he has been held without a point thus far. Here are the video highlights of last night's game.

The US Junior Team returns to the ice tomorrow night at 7:30pm to face Kazakhstan then will conclude their group play with the feature match-up versus Canada on New Year's Eve, also at 7:30pm.

It's never too early to make plans to see a hockey game. Make sure you've penned in some fun on New Year's Day with the NHL's Winter Classic on NBC. With any luck we'll see Ty Conklin start for the Red Wings as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks outdoors at Wrigley Field - game-time is 1pm eastern. And I hate to plug hi-def but last year's game looked so good. That said, this is my advice, crash a friends house if they've got it and invite them over if you do and they don't. Then, this weekend, I'm planning a stop at my favorite Irish Pub, Cu Na Mara of Bristol, NH (before I have to get to my own game Sunday night) in order to catch our 'Cats taking on the Black Bears in Orono on ESPNU - hopefully I'll be able to catch the full game before I have to go! The puck drops at 4pm for this one so bring your empty stomach and fill it with some fine food and beverages.

Wildcat Alumni in the pros have stayed busy (and I missed last week's installment of Wednesday's Wildcat Alumni Weekly) - here's the rundown.

Ty Conklin is shouldering the burden in Detroit as Chris Osgood has been out with an injury - and he has been getting it done. With five straight starts Ty has gone 3-1-1 and his stats stand at a .909 save-percentage with a 2.57 goals-against. Very nice for a team that has clearly seen better defensive days. Ty's last outing was a shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs stayed in the game by tallying all of their goals on the powerplay, all in the first period on just three opportunities. After that, all Conklin. He stopped 10-of-13 in the first then 12-of-12 and 6-of-6 and one in the overtime. The shootout was decided on just one goal between the two teams.

In the AHL, Trevor Smith has been turning heads and has been floated as being on the shortlist for the call-up to the Islanders. In his last thirteen games Trevor has twelve goals and five assists. In the last six, he has seven goals and four assists with his last outing before the holiday break, a two goal game, earning him a Three Stars of the Night spot on

Jacob Micflikier continues to spot points. His hard work has brought him two assists in three games since the break and he scored the lone shootout goal in the Rochester Americans' shootout loss last night.

Grand Rapids Griffins Captain, Darren Haydar, has scored three goals and five assists in his last nine games and so remains just off of his usual point-per-game pace. Teammate and fellow Wildcat Alum, Garrett Stafford has been MIA for the last six or seven games just when it seemed he was starting to heat up scoring a goal and two assists in the three games previous to his absence. A little research turns up that Stafford is nursing a rib injury - hopefully he'll be back soon.

Newcomer, Mike Radja, continues to climb the Rockford IceHogs scoring board adding one the night after Christmas giving him three goals and three assists in his last seven though that Friday night goal stands as his lone point in his last four. Radja has eight goals and four assists in seventeen games with the AHL club.

*Late Breaking* This just in. Fellow rookie, Matt Fornataro, is really dishing the puck tonight. Matt assisted on the first and third goals for the Worcester Sharks and looks to put his first multi-point AHL game in the books while getting the 'w' versus the Portland Pirates.

I'll leave my recap of the pros at that - be sure to comment if you think there are some notable performances that I've missed.

And speaking of commenting, this brings me to The UNH Men's Hockey Blog Holiday Giveaway.

In the spirit of the holidays, The UNH Men's Hockey Blog is hosting a CPR Gear (check them out New England sports fans) T-shirt giveaway for my loyal, contributing readers. CPR Gear is a Boston-based company that seeks to unite New England sports fans through their unique brand in order "to represent the heartbeat of all New England sports... and, yes, it does include the Bruins. CPRB just doesn't sound as cool, now does it?" So, I will look back through the comments and emails I've received to choose those who have participated the most and reward them for their heart-felt support and dedication with authentic CPR Gear T-shirts.

So, it has been a great year Nation - let's make 2009 even better.

Happy Holidays!


Go 'Cats!


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