2016-2017 Hockey Champions

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It is the middle of June and the ice has finally melted on the 2016-2017 hockey season.  Here is a recap on the champions of each league:

National Hockey League (NHL):  Pittsburgh Penguins

  • The Penguins are the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998.  The Penguins defeated Columbus (4-1), Washington (4-3), Ottawa (4-3) and Nashville (4-2) to win their 5th cup in franchise history.  Sidney Crosby was named the MVP.

American Hockey League (AHL):  Grand Rapids Griffins

  • The Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch in six games to win their second Calder Cup.  They defeated Milwaukee (3-0), Chicago (4-1) and San Jose (4-1) on their way to the Cup final.    Griffins’ forward Tyler Bertuzzi was named the finals MVP.  The Griffins are the top farm team for the Detroit Red Wings.

ECHL:  Colorado Eagles

  • The Eagles won their first Kelly Cup championship in team history.  Defenseman Matt Register was named the MVP to become the first defenseman in the ECHL’s 29-year history to receive the award.   The Eagles defeated Idaho (4-1), Allen (4-2), Toledo (4-1) and South Carolina (4-0) to win the Cup.  The Eagles are affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche.

Federal Hockey League (FHL):  Danville Dashers

  •  The Dashers completed the best season in Danville history by winning the Commissioner’s Cup after setting a new league record with 129 points in the regular season.  The Dashers defeated Watertown (2-1) and Berlin (3-2) to win their first championship.  Danville forward Gehrett Sargis was named the MVP of the Commissioner Cup playoffs with four goals and four assists.

Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL):  Macon Mayhem

  • The Mayhem won their first President’s Cup title in just their second season.  They defeated Columbus (2-1), Pensacola (2-0) and Peoria (2-0).  Goalie Jordan Ruby was named the MVP.

North American Hockey League (NAHL):  Lone Star Brahmas

  • The Brahmas were crowned Robertson Cup National Champions.  Drake Glover was named the tournament MVP to lead the Brahmas their first title.   Lone Star defeated Wichita Falls (3-0), Corpus Christi (3-2), Janesville (2-0) and Aston (1-0) on their way to the Robertson Cup.

United States Hockey League (USHL):  Chicago Steel

  • The Steel won the Clark Cup Championship beating the Sioux City Musketeers 3 games to 2 for their first title.  Eduards Tralmaks was the MVP with 10 goals and two assists in the playoffs.    His 10 goals are tied for the most in USHL playoff history.  Chicago defeated Youngstown (3-2) and Dubuque (3-1) in the playoffs.

Western Hockey League (WHL):  Seattle Thunderbirds

  • The Thunderbirds captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in the team’s 40-year history.  Mathew Barzal was named the MVP.   Seattle defeated Tri-City (4-0), Everett (4-0), Kelowna (4-2) and Regina (4-2).    The Thunderbirds won a dramatic Game 6 at Regina in overtime to win the cup.

National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL):  Buffalo Beauts

  • The Beauts stunned heavily favored Boston Pride to win the Isobel Cup.  Despite a third place finish in the regular season, Buffalo defeated the Pride 3-2 to win the title.  Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin was named MVP with 60 saves in the game.  The Beauts defeated New York (4-2) and Boston (3-2) in the playoffs.

Obscure Sports Report

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Atlanta’s Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team won their first game on Sunday when they blasted Minnesota 6-1 in a snow flurry in front of over 35,000 fans.  Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez scored a rare hat-trick while Miguel Almiron scored twice and Jacob Peterson scored once.  Atlanta dropped a 2-1 home opener to the New York Red Bulls a week ago in front of 55,000 fans.

The New England Black Wolves (5-6) became the first team in the Eastern Division to defeat the Georgia Swarm (7-3) on Sunday in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).   Shawn Evans and Kyle Buchanan each had three goals and four assists in a 13-8 win.  It was the fourth hat trick of the season for Evans.

Tony Spredeman of the United States is at the top of the World Foosball Player rankings.   He is first in Open Combined and Open Singles rankings.  He is also second in Open Doubles.   Spredeman is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has won several World Championships.

The Baltimore Blast are looking at elimination from the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) playoffs.  They were upset by the Harrisburg Heat 5-4 on Saturday in Baltimore.  The Milwaukee Wave edged the Kansas City Comets 3-2 when Marcio Leite scored the series winner 2:26 into overtime of the mini-game to win their series 2 games to 1 and advance to the MASL semifinals.   Sonora blasted Baja 17-3 in game two on Saturday to complete their sweep of the Southwest Division final.  In the Pacific Division, the San Diego Sockers beat Ontario 9-4 in the first game of their series, Ontario evened the series with an 8-4 win to force a mini-game.  The Sockers scored nine seconds into the tie-breaker and held on to advance to the league semifinals.

The Boston Pride finished the regular season in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) with the best record at 16-1.  New York finished second at 8-7-3, Buffalo Beauts third (6-10-1) and the Connecticut Whale (5-12-1).  All four teams qualify for the Isobel Cup Playoffs which begins on Thursday and Friday.   Winners will advance to the final on Sunday, March 19th.

The DMV Warriors, based out of Woodlawn, Maryland, leads the American Basketball Association (ABA) power rankings with a record of 18-0.   The Jacksonville Giants (20-2), Orlando Waves (17-2), Austin Bats (15-1) and Mobile Bay Tornados (14-1) finish out the top five.   The league was founded in 1999 as a nationwide semi-pro basketball league.  The Jacksonville Giants are the defending league champions.

The Wichita Falls Nighthawks defeated the Cedar Rapids Titans this weekend, 42-23, to remain undefeated in the Indoor Football League (IFL).  Quarterback Charles McCullum finished the game completing 20 of 30 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.  The Nighthawks will have the week off before they face the six-time defending United Bowl Champions, Sioux Falls Storm.

In the second week of playoffs in the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League, the stakes were huge as teams battled to advance to the quarterfinals.  Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Wesley So (St. Louis) and Fabiano Caruana (Montreal) were all in tight battles by lesser-known opponents.  Hikaru Nakamura (Miami) had one of the worst chess days of his life, scoring 1.5/4 and losing in a do-or-die final round.   In this week’s quarterfinal round:  Norway Gnomes vs. Gorky Stormbringers, Montclair Sopranos vs. Miami Champions, Marseille Migraines vs. Stockholm Snowballs and Webster Windmills vs. St. Louis Arch Bishops.

Have a sport you’d like me to write about next week?  Leave me a comment and I will post it next Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obscure Sports News

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Here are some sports stories you probably won’t see on SportsCenter….

The Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) regular season is winding down and gearing up for the playoffs.  The defending champions – Baltimore Blast – have clinched the Eastern Division title and will face the Harrisburg Heat in the division final.  The Kansas City Comets have won the Central Division and will play the Milwaukee Wave.  Soles de Sonora has won the Southwest Division and will play Atletico Baja.  The Pacific Division will feature the San Diego Sockers who will play either the Ontario Fury or Tacoma Stars in the playoffs.  Eight teams make the playoffs with the two top teams of each division qualifying for the postseason.  The playoff series will consist of a 2-game series for each round.  If the series is tied, a mini-game at the end of game 2 will be played.

The surprising Georgia Swarm still leads the National Lacrosse League (NLL) with a record of 7-1.  They lead the league with goals scored with 119 goals.  Forward Lyle Thompson leads the team with 25 goals.   The season concludes on the last weekend in April.

The New York Riveters will host the No. 3 seed in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) one-game semifinal on March 17th.  The Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale are currently tied for third place in the league.  The Boston Pride will play the fourth place finisher in the other semifinal matchup.  The Isobel Cup final will be played on Sunday, March 19th in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The 2017 season of Major League Soccer (MLS) will kick-off this weekend at the Portland Timbers will host Minnesota United FC on Friday.  Minnesota and Atlanta are the two new expansion teams this season.  The defending MLS Cup champions, Seattle Sounders, will began their title defense at Houston on Saturday.

The Indoor Football League (IFL) kicked off their season with the addition of the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles and the Arizona Rattlers who defected from the sinking Arena Football League (AFL).   Former AFL-Alum, Iowa Barnstormers, spoiled the Rattlers’ debut in the new league with a 51-47 win.

Speaking of the Arena Football League, they are still planning to play this season with five teams.   Their season kicks off on April 7th as the league’s two new teams – Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor meet in D.C.   The league still plans to expand but no news at this time where they plan to place new teams.

The Montreal ChessBrahs (6-1), St. Louis Arch Bishops (6-1), Marseille Migraines (5-2) and Delhi Dynamite (5-2) lead their respective divisions in the PRO Chess League.  Wesley So lost his first game since his loss to Magnus Carlsen last summer.  In one of the best games of the week, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov overmatched So’s queen with a rook and minor pieces in the endgame.  So’s defeat, however, had little impact on the match as both teams (St. Louis and San Jose) still secured playoff berths.

Minor league hockey playoffs will be starting soon.  The top teams are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (American Hockey League), Toledo (ECHL), Macon (Southern Professional Hockey League) and Danville (Federal Hockey League).  Of course, there are other junior leagues also getting ready for the postseason as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A (Hockey) League Of Their Own

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Did you know that there is a women’s professional hockey league?

The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) was formed in 2015 and has four teams:  Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale.   The league placed teams in these markets because they are considered to be strong traditional markets for hockey.

The NWHL is the first U.S. women’s professional hockey league.  The league operates with a salary cap of $270,000 per team and a minimum of $10,000 per player.   Into the second season, the league cut salaries in an attempt to strengthen the league.

The Boston Pride won the first Isobel Cup Championship over the Buffalo Beauts.   The Isobel Cup is named after Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley’s daughter who shared his love of the game and was one of the first female hockey players in Canada.

Boston is currently undefeated at 8-0-0 and in first place.

Brianna Decker (Boston) and Kelly Babstock (Connecticut) are the league’s leading scorers with six goals apiece.   Brittany Ott (Boston) is the leading goalie with a 1.14 Goals Against Average.

In recent news, the NWHL became the only professional sports league in North America with an openly transgender player.  The league is establishing policy on how they will address transgender players in the future.

The league has no plans for expansion anytime soon but rather focusing on strengthening the teams they have and working to secure a national television contract.  Right now, the league has limited exposure on regional cable networks but needs more exposure to generate more interest.  It would probably be a good thing if the National Hockey League (NHL) offered some support.  Maybe a few double-header games with the men’s teams would be a boost for the league.