Comm Ave Charity Classic: BC, ‘Cause I Wouldn’t Wanna BU

Boston University hosted the 4th Annual Comm Ave Charity Classic on Friday, August 24th 2018 in the Walter Brown Arena.  The Charity Classic was setup by Boston College Alumni Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik where they invite fellow alumni now playing in the NHL/AHL to compete for a great cause.  “Current and former NHL players face off in this BC vs BU alumni hockey game in honor of Pete Frates, Dick Kelley, Travis Roy, and all those who have been affected by ALS and spinal cord injuries. All proceeds benefit Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation. The game has raised over $180,000 since its inception in 2015.”  This year’s Classic set a record raising $78,432 to be added to the sum of past years.

Outside the Walter Brown before the event, the players had to walk from the parking garage across the street to enter the arena where swarms of children and fans waited to greet them.  The players all stopped to get pictures and sign shirts, programs, and other memorabilia while still carrying their bags, gear, and sticks.  And since it was at an intersection, we all got to see a lot of children almost get hit by cars.  A grown man also stopped one of the players in the middle of the street to sign his program while cars were trying to drive through the intersection.  Like it’s cool, he wanted his autograph and everything I get that but let’s not put his health and career at risk by getting him hit by a car on his way to a charity game, okay?

At the beginning of the game itself, Travis Roy spoke, welcoming and thanking everyone for their attendance and support.  He kept his speech short and sweet as he was ready to watch some quality hockey.  Also going on was a silent auction and basket raffle of autographed memorabilia of the present alumni and ticket packages for each school.  Additionally, they sold Comm Ave Charity Classic t-shirts and I was super happy to see they were donated (I assume, they were donated with it being a charity event and all) by ’47 brand as their shirts are suuuuuper soft and durable.

Being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, it was fun to watch all the new, current, and former Penguins compete with and against each other as they were well represented.  Nick Bonino played for Boston University while Brooks Orpik, Brian Dumoulin, Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes, and Philip Samuelsson participated as Golden Eagles.  Being one of the newest Penguins, Jimmy Hayes had a lot of pressure placed on him (mainly by myself) and he held his own out on the ice.  Although, little brother Kevin put on a better show.

The outcome of the game could’ve been better but Boston University topped Boston College 10-5.  However, Boston University couldn’t field a full roster with just their committed alumni for this year’s Classic so they invited NHL players Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Donato, and Adam Gaudette to play for them.  It was a good thing they did as the three put up five of BU’s goals.  So technically, BU’s alumni only scored five goals which means that they did not beat BC but tied them 5-BU, 5-BC, 5-Harvard/Northeastern.

Overall, this was a really great experience and the trip from Pittsburgh, PA for the game was definitely worth it.  I highly recommend that everyone attend a type of charity game like this one!

 

 

2018 ROSTERS

Boston College

Joe Pearce / G / 2007 / Boston College

Mike Mottau / D / 2000 / Florida Panthers

Ian McCoshen / D / 2017 / Florida Panthers

Noah Hanifin / D / 2018 / Calgary Flames

Mike Matheson / D / 2016 / Florida Panthers

Brian Dumoulin / D / 2013 / Pittsburgh Penguins

Jimmy Hayes / F / 2012 / Pittsburgh Penguins

Brian Boyle / F / 2007 / New Jersey Devils

Kevin Hayes / F / 2014 / New York Rangers

Stephen Gionta / F / 2006 / New York Islanders

Brian Gibbons / F / 2011 / Anaheim Ducks

Colin White / F / 2019 / Ottawa Senators

Chris Kreider / F / 2013 / New York Rangers

Paul Carey / F / 2012 / Ottawa Senators

Patrick Brown / F / 2014 / Carolina Hurricanes

Zach Sanford / F / 2018 / St. Louis Blues

Philip Samuelsson / D / 2013 / Charlotte Checkers

Chris Venti / G / 2012 / Boston College

Ryan Fitzgerald / F / 2017 / Boston Bruins

Nathan Gerbe / F / 2009 / Columbus Blue Jackets

Brooks Orpik / D / 2002 / Washington Capitals

Boston University

Charlie Coyle / F / 2014 / Minnesota Wild

Brandon Hickey / D / 2018 / Buffalo Sabres

Matt Grzelcyk / D / 2016 / Boston Bruins

Kevin Schaeffer / D / 2007 / Providence Bruins – Retired

Brian Strait / D / 2009 / New Jersey Devils

Adam Gaudette / F / Northeastern 2019 / Vancouver Canucks

Clayton Keller / F / 2021 / Arizona Coyotes

Danny O’Regan / F / 2016 / Buffalo Sabres

Nick Bonino / F / 2011 / Nashville Predators

Jack Eichel / F / 2019 / Buffalo Sabres

Ryan Donato / F / Harvard 2019 / Boston Bruins

Drew Melanson / F / 2018 / New York Rangers

Jimmy Vesey / F / Harvard 2016 / New York Rangers

Jay Pandolfo / F / 1996 / Boston Bruins

John McCarthy / F / 2009 / San Jose Sharks

Evan Rodrigues / F / 2015 / Buffalo Sabres

Charlie McAvoy / D / 2019 / Boston Bruins

Mike Condon / G / Ottawa Senators

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://commaveclassic.com/

https://twitter.com/CommAveClassic

The Olli one that Maattas!

My absolute favorite active player in the NHL is Olli Maatta, if you didn’t already know.  Today, August 22, 2018, just happens to be his 24th birthday.  I’d say he definitely accomplished and overcame a lot in his life thus far.  A defenseman from Finland, Maatta has his haters, but they just don’t appreciate the progress of his career.

  • He played in multiple World Junior Championships and many other international competitions both for Finland’s U18 and U20 teams.
  • He was the youngest player to ever play for Finland’s World Junior team
  • While in the OHL, he and his team made it to the Memorial Cup championship game not once, but twice.
  • He finished in fifth place for Calder Cup voting after his rookie season with the Penguins.
  • He won a bronze medal with Team Finland in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
  • He was selected to Finland’s team for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
  • Olli Maatta has played a part in the Penguins winning back to back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Mind you, he achieved those two Stanley Cups after overcoming a shoulder injury that required two separate surgeries about six months apart.  In the midst of that, he was diagnosed with low-grade thyroid cancer which kept him off the ice for only two weeks after surgery.

The kid has only gotten better over time.  His skating, which everyone complained about it being an issue his first few seasons, has improved greatly and is no longer a hindrance to his game.  He has been relied on to step up with alllllllll of the injuries that have plagued the Penguins’ blue line over the last few years.  Maatta is steady and secure in his game.  He’s not one to get in his own head and let one bad shift affect the rest of the game.

It’s been exceptional, tremendous, enlightening, and just really, really cool to watch him grow his game and develop as a player over the last few years.  He’s the one that really introduced to me to the greatness of the developmental program that Finland has created and maintained.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him and hope he stays in Pittsburgh for a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

Sources that helped out with some of the stats:

https://www.nhl.com/player/olli-maatta-8476874

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olli_M%C3%A4%C3%A4tt%C3%A4#Junior

Cullen & Kids

Pittsburgh and Penguins fans could not be happier to have Matt Cullen, aka “Dad”, back for one more season.  However, Cullen and his sons might be even happier to be back in the ‘Burgh and with the Penguins organization.  Joey, Wyatt, and Brooks Cullen love Pittsburgh and their dad’s Penguins teammates.  Over the summer, since he signed back with the Penguins, the Penguins media crew met up with the Cullen’s and did a series on them.  In one picture, his son could be seen wearing a Penguins shirt but not with his dad’s name on the back.  Instead, the Cullen kids wear Pens gear with their favorite players on the back such as Evgeni Malkin and of course Sidney Crosby.

Crosby is a bit of a legend in the Cullen household.  First off, the oldest Cullen boy, Brooks, has a huge Fathead wall display featuring Crosby in his bedroom.  Also, part of the media series covered knee hockey tournaments in the Cullen’s basement with special guests.  Crosby was named the “best goalie” and Hornqvist took home the title of “best player” while Phil Kessel wasn’t as good as his sister, Amanda, and Carl Hagelin was too “slow”.

It was cool to see into their lives outside of hockey (although their lives outside of hockey still contains a lot of hockey).  Matt Cullen will always be the Dad of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh will always be a second home for this Dad.

 

Sources:

https://twitter.com/penguins?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.nhl.com/penguins/news/cullen-enjoying-dad-duty-during-offseason/c-299704722

Flames on Fire

The Calgary Flames have been putting in the work this off-season and it just might pay off.  Over the last few seasons the Flames have been “that close” to a phenomenal team that can compete in the post season.   They’ve struggled to maintain an offensive force and were in need of consistent defensemen in front of their netminders.  With the additions of Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Huricanes and some veterans in the league, they have taken a major step in filling the holes throughout the lineup.

Noah Hanifin was drafted in 2015 by the Hurricanes after completing only one season at Boston College under the best coach in collegiate ice hockey, Jerry York.  At BC he played in 37 of 38 games with 5 goals, 18 assists, and a +12 rating.  The Golden Eagles finished second in the Hockey East that year.  Following his collegiate success, Hanifin was the only defensemen in his draft class to start the season that same year in the NHL.  This past season was, offensively, his best yet with 10 goals and 22 assists.  He definitely needs to improve on his +/- rating this year with Calgary in order to make a difference.  However, giving him the benefit of the doubt as I did with Skinner in a prior post, the entire Hurricanes lineup struggles to keep the puck out of the net and Hanifin’s rating at least shows he received a lot of ice time.

Elias Lindholm has 188 points in 374 career games.  He’s a young, strong center with a lot of potential.  It might have been a risky move for the Flames to sign him to such a big deal, but I believe it will pay off for them.  The other big addition the Flames have made this summer is signing James Neal.  The Hurricanes are the fifth organization he will be a part of in the league.  Neal is a dependent, passionate winger with a lot of playoff experience.  He just might be the perfect line mate for Lindholm or is he going to be the third with Monahan and Gaudreau?

A re-signing that the Flames hope will pay off for them in the long run is their goaltender Mike Smith.  He won 25 of his 55 starts this past season with a .916 save percentage.  Goaltending has been an issue for the Flames over the last few years, hopefully Smith can change that this upcoming season.

 

References:

https://www.nhl.com/player/noah-hanifin-8478396

https://www.nhl.com/player/elias-lindholm-8477496

https://www.nhl.com/player/james-neal-8471707

https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/smithmi01.html

So You Think You Can Dance: Tap Critics

This has always been an issue for me with this show and after this past week’s episode, it’s time to address it.  To recap in case you don’t watch, one of the top ten dancers was paired with a tap dancer when they’ve had limited experience with tap. All in all, it wasn’t a great routine.  The dancer’s limited experience constrained the choreography and the execution of the simple steps was subpar.  This led to the partner, who is an absolutely phenomenal dancer, having a lackluster routine in their own style where they’re supposed to shine.  Okay, so that was issue number one.

Issue number two arose when the judges (not one of them a tap dancer themselves) over-criticized the performance, especially the dancer out of their style.  One, they all knew it would be a struggle for this individual and still put them through it, and two, it’s not like any of them would have been able to do any better!  Yeah, Twitch won the show, but he never had to execute a tap number.  Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, while I’m sure have had some experience within the tap genre, most likely could not handle anything beyond the basics.  And finally, Vanessa Hudgens, who tore the piece apart the most and claims to have all this dance experience which I can’t find evidence of, probably couldn’t even put on a pair of tap shoes by herself.

With that being said, one would think that “America’s Favorite Dancer” should be able to perform every style of dance regardless of what their auditioned style was.  The creators/producers/directors expect jazz dancers to take on the tango and ballroom dancers to put the hip in the hop and animators, poppers, tutters, etc., to perform emotional, contemporary pieces.   Meanwhile, tap dancers have to excel in all of the aforementioned styles during “Academy Week” and in the live shows, but none of those stylists have to wing a time-step across the stage.  How does that make any sense?!  Oh right, it doesn’t!

Aside from this last week, the ONLY dancer of a style other than tap that has performed a tap piece during a live show was Lex, last year’s winner.  Lex auditioned as a contemporary dancer and from his audition alone, I knew he would win the whole thing.  The all star he was paired with was Gaby, the winner of season 12, who just happened to have been a tap dancer.  Yeup, you read that right.  A tap dancer won the whole show, yet the style is still shunned.  Back to the point, Lex and Gaby killed their tap duo that wasn’t watered down due to it not being Lex’s style (watch it here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmKXVtbv504).

So again, why isn’t tap a style included in “Academy Week”?  Out of the thousands of dancers I suspect they audition every year, is it too much to ask that they have at least some rudimentary training in tap as it is expected they master other styles as well?  If they want it bad enough, it’s not like they’re going to be all, “I’m not doing this if I have to tap.”  They are trying to make a career out of dancing and everyone knows that dancers who aren’t cross-trained and well-rounded don’t turn out well.  (Get it? Turn out well, cuz dancers turn out their feet and legs and all!)

When I danced, tap was my favorite and my best style so I probably take more offense than most to the lack of it on well-known dance platforms such as So You Think You Can Dance.  However, we need to see more of it on these platforms lest this wonderful art form be left to die.

Oh, and one last side note:  So You Think You Can Dance has freaking ahhhhhhh-mazing tap mics on that stage, like the best I’ve ever heard through a broadcast as compared to World of Dance and America’s Got Talent NEED to get those mics!  SYTYCD has so few tap dancers that make it through to the live shows that the mics don’t get the use that need for their quality.

 

 

You can watch this past week’s episode for yourself here: https://www.fox.com/so-you-think-you-can-dance/

Video-gaming, a Sport?

One of the biggest new crazes in collegiate sport is e-sports.  E-sports are traditionally multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers.  However, universities and colleges across the U.S. are added e-sports as an actual sport within their athletics departments.  A few have e-sports as a club sport/organization or under a different department.  Most of the schools that group e-sports under athletics offer scholarships/grants to incoming freshmen, transfer students, and returning students to gain and maintain a competitive e-sports team.  Two of the most common games among the schools are League of Legends and Overwatch.  In the summer of 2016, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was created to better establish and regulate e-sports at the collegiate level.  The world of e-sports has grown rapidly over the last few years and shows no sign of dying down anytime soon.

 

Here’s a few sites/articles that go into more detail on the topic if you’re interested:

https://nacesports.org/

http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/23718093/college-league-legends-grows-professional-opportunity

https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/22/college-esports-is-set-to-explode-starting-with-the-fiesta-bowl/

https://www.acelesports.org/about/

 

High, High Hopes for Harry Bink

First off, you should probably listen to High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco while you read this to ensure you get all my references.  Second, if you have never heard of Harry Bink before (which you probably haven’t unless you follow FMX and extreme sports), then perfect!  I, myself just learned who he was last week when I worked a Nitro Circus Live Tour event.

Okay, so Harry Bink, who is he?  Harry is a professional FMX rider that stemmed from his motocross racing background from Cranberra, Australia with the accent to prove it.  At 16 he decided the 9-5 job wasn’t his style and had a vision for himself to be the next great FMX rider.  Since then, Harry has certainly made a name for himself competing and touring with shows around the world.  Harry Bink is not just one in a million, he is one in a billion.  He is one of seven, yes seven, riders to ever land a double backflip.   Touring with Nitro Circus, Harry was one of the riders to tackle a ramp that propels them 70-80 feet in the air and only exists in two places in the world: Travis Pastrana’s house and the Nitro Circus Tour.  He was one of what I believe to be three riders to take on the jump at every show on the tour.  Not only did he take on the ramp, but he was the only one on the tour to complete a double backflip on it.  It was said by the tour commentators/hosts that he is one of two riders to ever land the double backflip off this particular ramp.  So that one in a billion has now become one in about 4 billion.  You would think with these accolades, Harry would be pretty content to do what he does and do it well right?  Wrong.  Harry has even higher hopes for his future striving to bring, “bigger and better tricks no one has seen before.” Yaaasssss Harry

*Just Harry flying high above Pittsburgh in between the first and second flips of his double backflip!*

Moving on to a more serious note (and by serious I mean not serious, like at all), what does the great Harry Bink do when he’s not competing and lighting up his wildest dreams?  First of all he has a thing against shirts, preferring to ride and live life exposed (not that I’ve heard or seen anyone complaining!).  He is living the wild life, if his Nitro Tour intro and Instagram (go follow him! @harrybink) is anything to go by.  Harry is not one to pass up a party, in fact, he is the life of the party.  His whole life is a party if you think about it, always going after the high that comes from being high on life; Staying up on the rise that comes from riding and competing and never coming down during his downtime.  Harry Bink is that guy everyone wishes was their best friend, not taking life too seriously while enjoying every minute of it.  Other than that, all I can say is don’t ever change Harry!

 

 

Shoutout to the following sites and pages for providing the bulk of my factual information for this article!

http://xfighters.redbull.com/en_MX/athlete/harry-bink

http://www.nitroworldgames.com/articles/view/2017-athlete-spotlight-harry-bink

https://nitrocircus.com/rider/harry-bink/

http://xgames.espn.com/xgames/athletes/4004919/harry-bink

https://www.instagram.com/harrybink/?hl=en