Tuneup Tuesday

January 6, 2015

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.

Oh, Canada.


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.

What you think about “Tuneup Tuesday”

  1. The Team from Canada are the best I have seen in many years of this Event. They looked like they have been playing together for MONTHS not just a few week’s.

  2. USA Hockey – Affairs of State Hurt Players & Supporters

    Another World Junior Championship (WJC) fiesta has come and went, I and others I have spoken with are once again left frustrated and disappointed by USA Hockey. At the beginning of the WJC selection camp, it was evident deserving eligible aged players were not invited to attend the USA camp, and several players that did attend the camp were left off the final roster for less proven players. One only surmises that once again USA Hockey put their agenda ahead of the players and supporters of USA Hockey.

    Politics isn’t anything new in deciding player selection in these tournaments; one would only have to look back to the 2013-2014 WJC and see where Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada (Jan 4. 2014) called out the powers-at-be within Hockey Canada, “I’m gonna tell you why we lose…” Don Cherry goes on to cite Hockey Canada’s political reasons in selecting an equal majority of players from the leagues that comprise the Canadian Hockey League; instead of taking the best twenty-two overall players for the tournament.

    Once again, USA Hockey left off notable players from their roster, exclusions that attracted attention by NHL Scouts, The OHL Tonight (Week of Dec 15. 2014), The Hockey Writers (Jan 2. 2015), Sports Net (Jan 2. 2015), and others (a search of Canadian/USA media will locate numerous articles). Notably the players not invited to attend the USA WJC selection camp, or players left off the final roster where US-born players playing in the CHL. The majority of these players were higher NHL draft picks, and/or ranked higher in scouting reports than their roster selections, and having posted better numbers in their respective leauges.

    USA Hockey has become a body of lobbyist and a college hockey recruitment strategy (founding of College Hockey INC) for NCAA hockey and is failing to serve the true interest of US born hockey players and USA Hockey supporters. USA Hockey’s systemic problem is bigger than the NCAA vs. CHL; the NCAA has never been able to compete with the CHL in attracting top tier hockey talent and they never will, nor should they (since 1980 the NCAA, US High School, NTDP has had only four (4) players drafted 1st overall). However, USA Hockey through College Hockey INC created a propaganda filled campaign against the CHL. This propagated offensive by USA Hockey and College Hockey INC (NCAA) serves no interest in: truly allowing US born players to develop in a setting best designed for the player; berthing freedom for a player to choose where they play without repercussion (whether it be NCAA or the CHL); providing best interest concepts to the supporters of USA Hockey; nor choosing a biased free roster for the WJC.

    To highlight the USA Hockey obsessed phenomena with the CHL, Coach David Quinn, Boston University Men’s Hockey Team, was quoted by the Toronto Star, “…with us at Boston University, Jack (Eichel) has to play against men between 18 and 24 years old. It’s not like that in junior hockey. I don’t want to spit on the junior hockey leagues in Canada, but in my eyes playing more games in a season against inferior competition isn’t necessarily a good thing” (Dec 22. 2014). Statistically speaking, the CHL has produced more NHL draft picks than any other league, more 1st overall NHL draft picks than any other league, CHL players currently and historically comprise the majority of the composition of the NHL, and CHL products encompass the majority of NHL fifty-goal scores registrar; not to mention the results of Hockey Canada at the WJC games, to include the most recent dominant performance by Canada over an inferior United States team (Dec 31. 2014). It seems Coach David Quinn would rather fill the air with propaganda laced statements then promote the United States ability to place top tier hockey talent in both the NCAA and the CHL ranks.

    For the interest of young hockey players in the United States attempting to reach the goal of playing an elite level of hockey, a complete reconstruct of USA Hockey needs to occur, to include the forced exodus of executives, and a severed relationship with College Hockey INC. Financial supporters of USA Hockey (unfortunately it’s the tens of thousands of players at all levels) should insist on a new direction, encompassed by forward thinking coupled by modernization and renovation of USA Hockey management. Until renewal occurs, USA Hockey will continue to struggle in the true development of midget and junior aged players on the national stage, and will only serve a political and lobbyist existence.

  3. This was an amazing tournament, I loved every second of it ! Congrats on the Gold Boys ! I am still on cloud now, and i am sure that I am not alone here.

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