Canada has returned to the top of the world junior hockey summit…There are hockey moms and then there is this hockey mom who owns two junior teams and manages the arena that both play out of…Here and there and around the rinks we go…
What a tournament it was. What a gold-medal match it was.
Unbeaten through the round-robin and into the playoffs, Canada held on to win gold for the first time in six years on Monday with a pressure-cooker of a 5-4 triumph over Russia in the title tilt of the World Jr. Hockey Championships.
More-impressive than the play of forward Max Domi, defenceman Darnell Nurse et al was the way Canada held on to the 5-4 lead in a scoreless third period that was just as end-to-end with excitement as the two first frames were.
I am not sure who Canada’s biggest rival is — some say Russia, others say the United States — but as a nation watched nervously and feverishly on Monday, coach Benoit Groulx and his Canadian team put on a show that is worthy of being re-run over and over.
I do not know where Michelle Bryant finds the time to do what she does.
But she does.
Not only is Bryant a hockey mother to four of her own kids, she owns both the Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League and the La Crosse Freeze of the North American 3 Hockey League.
And that’s not all.
Bryant also manages the rink that both her teams play out of, the Green Island Ice Arena in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
And did we mention that both teams are successful?
The Chill is in a three-way race for first place and has the best winning percentage in the NAHL’s Midwest Division.
And the Freeze is in first place in the Central Division of the NA3HL.
As the Oshawa Generals further their case for being the best team in the Ontario Hockey League, the North Bay Battalion has kept pace in the trade market and remained within range in the Eastern Conference standings. And come playoff time, I will take any team that is coached by North Bay’s Stan Butler and feel good about a run…Kingston Frontenacs general manager Doug Gilmour says he has never seen a team with the number of injuries to key players that his club has had this season. Which is why Gilmour dealt 1995 birth-year forward Ryan Kujawinski to North Bay for 1996 skaters Jared Steege and Nathan Billitier and added Cody Caron from the Niagara Ice Dogs for a sixth-round draft pick — to give Kingston more depth heading into the stretch run. Steege and Caron are serviceable forwards while Billitier is good enough as a defenceman to have played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association this season as an 18-year old. To be sure, getting Billitier to leave Notre Dame for Kingston is a coup for Gilmour and the Frontenacs…More than one seasoned scout has told me that Jacob Hernandez, a 1995 birth-year power forward with the Detroit Fighting Irish of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League should be playing a rung higher in the North American Hockey League. Of note, Hernandez is a former all-state high school football star who only recently turned his attention to hockey full time…Another MWJHL standout who could be ticketed for a future move to the NAHL is high-scoring, 1997 birth-year defenceman Jarrod Vroman of the MC Monarchs.