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Phil Kessel joins exclusive hot dog hockey card club, thanks to Upper Deck (Photo)

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Upper Deck released its Series 2 set of hockey cards this week and included is a insert set featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and their days with the Stanley Cup from this past summer. Among the 12 cards, which includes Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux, is a very unique photo for the card of Phil Kessel, two-time Stanley Cup champion.

In August, when it was Kessel’s day, he spent part of it at a golf course with friends and family, which included him posing with hot dogs inside the Cup’s bowl. You might recall a silly and later debunked story from the Toronto Sun in 2015 that said Kessel would grab a daily dog from a certain vendor near his condo in the city. It even inspired a tattoo!

Clearly, Phil got wind of the story and decided to dunk on Steve Simmons, to the delight of many.

Kessel now has something in common with long-time NHL netminder Olaf Kolzig, who was captured on a 1995-96 Pinnacle card about to down a hot dog with his name spelled out in mustard.

Kolzig told the Washington Post in 1996 that he never did eat that hot dog and the idea came about when he asked card photographers what’s the weirdest hockey card they ever made. Then “the guy handed me a hot dog with my name written in mustard on it.”

We relish the thought that this could start a trend in the hobby.

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Many New York Islanders fans agree with the sentiment “(Garth) Snow Must Go,” but that doesn’t mean it’s unanimous.

In response to the successful Go Fund Me drive to put up billboard(s) calling for Snow’s firing near Barclays Center, Islanders forward Anders Lee had an interesting reaction.

He took to Twitter not just to express his disagreement with “Snow Must Go,” but to ask people to donate to a different charity than his “Kancer Jam II” campaign, with the event coming on Feb. 19.

A portion of that statement reads:

” … (Snow) had the faith to draft me in 2009, and I wouldn’t be here today without his support, so I do not feel right accepting the donation. I appreciate the gesture from our fans and their efforts to support the Kancer Jam Foundation but ask that they use this money to support another fund that can benefit from this donation.”

As of this writing, Lee’s Crowd Rise drive is at $12,131, with 56 people donating. It seems like a fantastic campaign, and even in this unusual way, it would be great if it got more attention through all of this.

Looking at the Go Fund Me for the “Snow Must Go” billboards, they’re no longer accepting donations after hitting $5,980. They’re also giving additional money to the American Cancer Society, and issued a response to Lee in an update. Here’s the most relevant portion of that response:

Secondly, we recently received word via Twitter that Anders Lee will be declining any donation toward his Kancer Jam. While we are disappointed, we respect his decision, and love Anders as a New York Islander.

Without a choice in the matter, we have therefore decided to donate any excess donations to the American Cancer Society. While we understand this was not the initial advertised charity, we hope Islanders fans will understand.

Again, this is an atypical situation on top of another odd situation, as it seems reasonable for their to be a scenario in which Islanders fans could express a belief about Snow needing to go while also helping to raise money to combat cancer. Whatever happens regarding Snow’s employment status, the Islanders’ playoff hopes, and John Tavares‘ future with the franchise, let’s hope that this brings more donations to some great causes. Whether that’s the the American Cancer Society, Lee’s specific efforts, or ideally a combination of the two, that’s fantastic.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — There were smiles, laughs and enthusiastic goal celebrations. It seems the Americans have found their missing energy.

At practice, anyway.

A day after blowing a two-goal, third-period lead and losing to Slovenia in overtime to open Olympic play, the United States was back at practice feeling upbeat and confident. The Americans will face Slovakia on Friday.

”We’re excited,” alternate captain Noah Welch said. ”For 40 minutes, we proved that we’re a pretty dangerous team. Had a great video session today. Coaches did a good job of pointing out what we need to be better at, and then the team came out and had probably our best, most upbeat, quick-paced practice that we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

U.S. players shook off the stunning 3-2 defeat so quickly it was a whiplash of emotions in just over 12 hours. It certainly helps that the Olympic format means no team gets eliminated after pool play, though it doesn’t hurt that the U.S. dominated play for the first two periods against Slovenia before the mix of sitting on the lead and running out of gas proved costly. Coach Tony Granato chalked it up to some mental fatigue.

That can’t happen against Slovakia, which upset the favored Russians in regulation across town. ”Playing a full 60 minutes” is about as lame of a hockey cliche that exists, but for the U.S. team it’s a mantra now after how well it played for 40 minutes before letting the game slip away.

”We have to refresh ourselves and recharge ourselves to be able to try to play that way for 60 minutes,” Granato said. ”We skate. We’ve got four lines that can play. We don’t have to overplay anybody. If we can sustain the energy that we played with the first two periods, that would be what would help us be successful.”

Easier said than done against a Slovakia team that wore down the talented Russians and shut out the U.S. at the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November. The biggest challenge for the U.S. then, now and potentially moving forward, is cashing on its offensive chances.

”We’ve got to shoot more,” Matt Gilroy said after the U.S. scored just twice on 36 shots against Slovenia. ”We’ve got to get more bodies to the net. Every goaltender’s pretty good here and a lot of guys will battle in front, but we’ve got to sacrifice and get to the net.”

Feeling good about how they tilted the ice for two periods, the Americans need to avoid a repeat of how they went into a shell in the third period and abandoned the aggressive approach that had been working so well.

”If you try to play safe, you’re dead. Safe is dead in this tournament,” Welch said. ”When we’re up, what’s our mentality going to be? And it can’t be to sit back. It’s to play hard, play responsible but to be on the attack. That’s the only way we’re going to have success in this tournament is to use our speed and just get after teams.”

The U.S. had a need for speed and filled it with college players Troy Terry and Ryan Dontato and Swiss-based Garrett Roe, among others. Now it’s about harnessing it and not letting it run out.

”We’re a fast team,” Granato said. ”I don’t think there’s any doubt that (is) what you saw last night from our team. We’re not the biggest team. We’ve got a (6-foot-5 forward Jordan) Greenway and a couple other bodies that are big. We have to rely on that quickness and hound pucks and making it be hard to play against us.”

NOTES: Granato said Ryan Zapolski will start in goal versus Slovakia after allowing three goals on 25 shots against Slovenia. … F Chad Kolarik and D Will Borgen could get into the U.S. lineup after being healthy scratches in the opener, though Granato was not displeased with anyone’s play enough to make it an easy decision of who to take out.

Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Now that the Canadian women have taken top spot in their group, they await the winner of O.A.R./Switzerland, while the U.S. will play the winner of Finland/Sweden in the Olympic semifinals. [NBC Olympics]

• Canada’s men’s side won their opening game with a 5-1 victory over Switzerland. [Hockey Canada]

• Matt Dalton and the Jim Paek’s South Korean squad played inspiring hockey, but ultimately fell 2-1 to the Czech Republic. [IIHF]

• The first goal scored by the unified Korean women’s team was by North Carolina native Randi Griffin. [NBC Olympics]

• Likely top pick in June’s NHL draft, Rasmus Dahlin, was a healthy scratch for Sweden’s opening game win over Norway. [NBC Olympics]

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

• The 17-year-old Dahlin could change the way we look at defensemen going forward. [Sporting News]

• A demotion to the third line doesn’t mean David Pastrnak is in Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse. It’s just a simple reminder. [Bruins Daily]

• It’s now Jim Benning’s job to see through to the finish of the Vancouver Canucks’ rebuild. [Sportsnet]

• Now that he has a contract extension, the next move for Benning to make it to re-sign the Sedins. [Canucks Army]

• A look back at Dion Phaneuf‘s time with the Ottawa Senators. [TSN]

• It’s time for the Calgary Flames to hand Matthew Tkachuk an extension. [Flames Nation]

• Wednesday was a pretty fun day for the Vegas Golden Knights. They spent the afternoon training with Cirque du Soleil. [Review-Journal]

• One player helping to power the Pittsburgh Penguins of late? That would be Jake Guentzel. [Tribune-Review]

Justin Williams a.k.a. ‘team grandpa,’ has eyes on bringing the Carolina Hurricanes back to the playoffs. [Sports Illustrated]

• A look at quite an “atrocious” season for Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik. [Japers’ Rink]

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of — The Canadian women’s hockey team kept its perfect record intact at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Thursday with a hard-fought 2-1 win over the rival United States.

Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., and Hamilton’s Sara Nurse scored for Canada in the second period, while Kendall Coyne countered for the U.S. in the third.

Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., made 44 saves in Canada’s net and stopped Jocelyne Lamoreux-Davidson on a penalty shot in the second period.

American goaltender Maddie Rooney turned away 21 of 23 shots.

Both countries had already booked berths in Monday’s semifinals having won their first two games in Pool A.

Finland and the Russian team will play quarter-final games Saturday against Switzerland and Sweden.

With her 16th goal in her fourth Olympics, Agosta moved into second all-time behind Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser (18).

One of the most storied rivalries in sport has only heated up in recent years. Canada may have won four straight Olympic gold medals, but the United States has claimed seven of the last eight world championships.

After a scoreless first period, Canada struck twice in the second and Lacasse stoned Lamoureux-Davidson late in the period.

But Coyne beat Lacasse between the pads 23 seconds into the third to halve Canada’s lead.

After a review, officials decided Haley Irwin kicked in the puck and ruled no goal midway through the period.

Irwin was also called for closing her hand on the puck in a goal-mouth scramble at 16:08 of the second. Lacasse deflected Lamoureux-Davidson’s penalty-shot attempt wide.

Agosta elbowed a U.S. defender in the face less than a minute later, but the Canadians killed off the penalty.

Nurse’s wrist shot off Rooney’s right shoulder deflected into the top of the net at 14:56 of the second.

Agosta scored a power-play goal at 7:18 on a backhand feed from Natalie Spooner at the corner of the U.S. net. Rooney got a piece of Agosta’s shot, but not enough to prevent the goal.

Canada spent most of the opening five minutes of the game in their own end as the Americans pressed. Lacasse stoned an all-alone Hilary Knight four minutes after faceoff.

Canadian defender Brigette Lacquette roofed a backhand over Rooney late in the period, but the whistle was already sounding for players in the crease and it was quickly waived off.

Canada went 5-1 against the Americans in a six-game exhibition series this winter, although the U.S. beat Canada twice to win November’s Four Nations Cup tournament in Florida.

Thursday’s game was their first meeting since Canada edged the U.S. 2-1 in overtime Dec. 17 in Edmonton.

Both teams were clearly fatigued in that game as players on both sides were in full-fledged training mode. They hadn’t yet started their taper to peak for the Games.

Canadian head coach Laura Schuler played all three goaltenders in the preliminary round.

Ann-Renee Desbiens posted an 18-save shutout against Russia in her Olympic debut Sunday. Veteran netminder Shannon Szabados had 22 saves in Canada’s 4-1 win over Finland on Tuesday.

The Olympic hockey schedule has all teams, men’s and women’s, starting games at varied hours.

The Canadian women have had puck drops at 9:10 p.m. and 4:40 p.m. and Thursday’s game started just after noon local time.

“Throughout the year, we actually have made sure with our game times and our practice times that we varied them,” Schuler said.

The women played their final exhibition game before the games — against a university men’s team in Incheon, South Korea — at 10 p.m.

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