Shooting Star Poker Tournament at Bay 101 this week

Bay 101 Shooting Stars poker tournament

Jason Kirk, formerly blogging the Nashville Predators at the Predators Den, is in San Jose covering the World Poker Tour's Shooting Star Tournament at Bay 101. Kirk is reporting from the tournament for Bluff Magazine, which also has a deal to provide content to ESPN. Bluff Magazine's Bay 101 Shooting Stars coverage can be found here.

Five hundred poker players are in the hunt through Friday for over 4 million in prize money. Poker pros Doyle Brunson, Mimi Tran, John Juanda, Dan Harrington and Phil Hellmuth Jr are among those in attendance, along with Shannon Elizabeth and 2005 World Series of Poker Ladies Champion Jennifer Tilly.

Visit the official website at worldpokertour.com for more information, including photos and videos.

[Update] Big-money poker stars keep their fans gazing - SF Chronicle.

Hockey Notes - February 28th edition

- The NHL trade deadline falls on March 9th at high noon this season. TSN has set up TradeCentre 2006, Lyle Richardson [aka the Prince of Pucks] is holding fort at Fox Sports, and Sportsnet.ca are the three places where you are likely to see the trades break.

The media consensus on the Sharks is that they need either a defenseman or a second line forward, or both. To be more specific, they need either a puck moving defenseman who can man the point on the PP, or a defensive defenseman who can soak up minutes on the penalty kill. The Sharks also need a second line forward who can bury all the chances Patrick Marleau is going to create for him.

Backup goaltender Vesa Toskala, 8-0-2 in his last 10 starts, is the main trade option to make this happen. Although there has been a pushback against the recent trade rumors.

Toskala is expected to start tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.

- Fresh start for Toskala - SF Chronicle.

"Once Nabby catches up, the ball is his," said Wilson, suggesting the team's No. 1 goalie -- yet to play since signing a four-year, $21.5-million contract extension on Feb. 7 -- will start either Friday in Edmonton or Saturday in Calgary.

Until then, Toskala will try to extend his 10-game unbeaten streak (8-0-2), and he'll do so knowing he's not being showcased for a trade by the March 9 deadline.

Time to mark March 9th down on the calender. The Sharks face Detroit, Edmonton, Calgary, and Anaheim prior to the deadline. The conference standings after those 4 games should be an indicator of whether or not the Sharks will be a player at the trade wire.

- If you are not a regular USA Today reader, make sure to pick up a copy today. The 10 page special NHL insert section features articles on how Carolina is no longer under the radar [Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette rates Eric Cole as the best power forward in the NHL], Kevin Allen's Top 5 teams to watch for the second half [Detroit, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers, Calgary], play-by-play diagrams of the best shooting moves on ice [Ovechkin's leg kick, Jussi Jokinen's shootout move, Marek Malik's between the legs shootout move, and Jose Theodore's best save on Marian Hossa], an article on the first trade deadline under the new salary cap, the NHL's crusade against obstruction, a 30 team NHL report card, and a few other items that are worth your time.

Thanks to Chris for giving me a copy today.

- From KuklasKorner.com, the CCM Sports Alexander Ovechkin nickname contest.

- Wings will be without gold medal-winning Swedes vs. Sharks - Michigan Live.

- Tonight on OLN: Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche [6PM]. Colorado and Minnesota are both ahead of the Sharks in the Western Conference playoff standings.

- John Buccigross's #7 in a list of top 10 things of what to watch for during the coming hockey spring:

7. San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have 26 games left, the most of the Western Conference teams battling for a playoff spot. They should make the playoffs. They have cap room and will likely add a forward and blue-line depth before the deadline. They need to look in the mirror and say, "We are underachieving. We are better than teams 6-10 in the West, and we are going to prove it."

- Molly McMaster, a colon cancer survivor, became the second woman to take the ice in a United Hockey League game. She will skate one shift for 14 UHL teams to raise awareness for colon cancer.

- Added a link to the Sens Underground podcast on the right.

I also plugged the Offwing Radio interview Joe Tasca did with Binghamtom Senators play-by-play broadcaster Grady Whittenburg to two fans visiting the Tour of California from Binghamtom, New York. They were a little shocked how much I knew about the team, or that Binghamton had a team, before I told them about the interview. I was a little shocked they had only seen a grand total of 2 blocks of San Jose before they found a spot at the finish line for the finale of Stage 2.

Grady Whittenburg is also a regular contributor to the Power Play Post Show, which is a great source for AHL information. The podcast is an easy way to keep up with the A. The latest PPP show has Patrick Williams of Slam Sports/theAHL.com, and next week will feature Andy Delmore as a guest.

- San Jose State Hockey hosted a skills competition Saturday to raise money for the SJSU trip to the ACHA D2 Nationals in Rochester, NY. The students pay their own way, so make sure to contribute to a worthy hockey cause if you can. The ACHA National Tournament webpage can be found here. [An update on the draw coming soon]

- 2 Free tickets for the March 4th AHL Cleveland Barons vs Hamilton Bulldogs game are available. Email me your mailing address here. First come, first serve. [Gone]

Anaheim Ice Girls

- Amelie C. emails the following updates to the hockey cheerleader links section:

Here are new NHL ice girls & dance teams links: Calgary Flames fire & ice crew, Columbus Blue Jackets power patrol, Vancouver Canucks ice team, Anaheim Mighty Ducks power players, Boston Bruins ice girls.

Much appreciated.

- The Calgary Flames have shut down their online messageboard. At least two other NHL teams are considering a similar action or looking into other options. There are community software options that allow readers to self-censor abusive posts [example: athleticsnation]. Unfortunately, much of the abusive conduct on the current boards will continue without a full-time moderator.

- From Spectors Hockey, the latest Owen Nolan rumor from Sharks color commentator Drew Remenda:

Drew Remenda, Sharks play-by-play guy, and who also has a sports talk radio program in Saskatoon, apparently has said on his show that Nolan is heading to Calgary. Remenda and Nolan were close when Nolan was playing in San Jose.

Remenda recently penned an In the Crease column at the official website that was an interesting look at his role in the organization. Drew mentioned that he is working to become less of a Sharks fan, and more of an analyst.

"I don't expect to be adored by everyone and I don't want or give much heed to criticisms or compliments. But I do enjoy when an opposition teams general manager or coach tells me they really like listening to Randy and I because we call the game down the middle. I've had this discussion with the Sharks VIP's. I don't want to do a three hour commercial for the home team. I'm not that guy, but at the end of the day, you know who I work for. By perusing the chatrooms, I see that 50% of you think I'm a homer and 50% of you think I cheer for the other team. That tells me I'm on the right track."

While I think 50/50 would be an optimistic assesment of his objectivity, the television broadcast team of Drew Remenda and Randy Hahn are about as close as you can get. There is a good blend of information and entertainment, and they often try to educate new fans to help them appreciate the details of the game.

- It is in Russian, but Kulichki tallies up the NHL price tag for Team Canada and arrives at $102,788,000. Nothing lost in translation there.

- List of ice hockey statistical categories for the 2006 Torino Olympics.

- Interesting NHL video from Minnesota on Google Video, The Show to be Named Later. The Minnesota fans carry a coffin into a bar to symbolize the death of the NHL during the lockout, a mayor makes an appearance in front of the camera and on the stage, the host gets rightly heckled for wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to film a Minnesota Wild segment, and a few Minnesota Wild girls go wild.

Google is getting hammered today in the stock market. It started with one anaylst cutting his valuation about 50%, everyone piling on, and now people are searching for reasons to knock the tech company instead of finding reasons to build it into the new technology giant.

It almost sounds like how the media approaches sports coverage. Is Google Barry Bonds?

- For WHL and Portland Winterhawks news I recommend the new blog by Michelle Thrasher or the Portland Winterhawks Live podcast. My goal is to still make it up to Oregon for at least one game this season.

- Congratulations to the USA Women's team for winning a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics. Team USA's Angela Ruggiero reflects on the experience on her blog.

- Not much time left to vote for Matt Carle in the fan participation part of the Hobey Baker award process. Preliminary voting runs from Jan 16th through March 5th. Fans may vote once per day here. Final voting commences Friday, March 17th through Monday, March 27th.

Current standings [top 20]:

Points Name Team Pos. Year

79123 Scott Parse Nebraska-Omaha F Jr.
50128 Bill Thomas Nebraska-Omaha F So.
46254 Brian Elliott Wisconsin G Jr.
39719 Greg Rallo Ferris State F Sr.
39397 Kevin Croxton Rensselaer F Sr.
38146 Keith MCWilliams Rensselaer D Sr.
31893 Andy Greene Miami D Sr.
26132 Brad Zancanaro Boston University F Sr.
26086 Sean Bentivoglio Niagara F Jr.
25027 Jeff Winchester Alabama-Huntsville D Sr.
24787 Brent Walton Western Michigan F Sr.
23460 Matt Carle Denver D Jr.
18649 Mike Ouellette Dartmouth F Sr.
15530 Grant Lewis Dartmouth D Jr.
14702 Chris Collins Boston College F Sr.
14021 Bryan Marshall Nebraska-Omaha F So.
13880 Scott Munroe Alabama-Huntsville G Sr.
13051 Alex Nikiforuk Nebraska-Omaha F Jr.
12567 Nathan Davis Miami F So.
11442 Ryan MacMurchy Wisconsin F Sr.

Visit carleforhobey.com for more information on the Denver defenseman, or search the archives on this blog. A few years back, a similar push was made for San Jose Sharks defenseman Jim Fahey at faheyforhobey.com.

[Update] More on Team Sweden's post-gold medal Olympic celebration courtesy of Abel to Yzerman. A few Swedish NHL players may miss NHL games on Tuesday after attending a celebration in Stockholm on Monday.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Mikael Samuelsson are 5 Detroit Red Wings who who may miss the game tonight with the San Jose Sharks, but arrive in time to skate against the Ahaheim Mighty Ducks on Wednesday.

According to Mlive.com, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Robert Lang were scheduled to return from the Olympics Monday night, practice Tuesday morning, and play against the Sharks Tuesday night.


Tuesday's Detroit vs Sharks game is Michigan Alumni Day

An email from Jeanne notes that Detroit at San Jose Tuesday is the annual University of Michigan alumni meeting. Two hundred University of Michigan alumni are expected to attend. Michigan alum Josh Langfeld was recently traded from San Jose to the Boston Bruins, which means that there will be no former Michigan players on the ice.

Those in attendance will meet at the Tied House prior to the game, and outside sections 223 and 224 during intermission.

[Update] Wings cut playoff ticket prices 10% from 2004 - Detroit Free Press. Thanks to OntheWings for the link.

Vesa Toskala re-signs for 2 years with San Jose

Goaltender Vesa Toskala signed a 2 year contract extention with the San Jose Sharks according to TSN.

"The bottom line is we're here to win hockey games. I'll put our goaltending up against any team in the League. This gives us a lot of strength moving towards the end of the season where we have a lot of games to play." - Sharks GM Doug Wilson

With a 8-5-2 record this season, Toskala is 8-0-2 in his last 10 games. Vesa Toskala was drafted 90th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Feb. 27- March 5

A press release from USAhockey.com:

University of Minnesota Unanimous No. 1 Again On USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

This Week's Top-15 Match-Ups:

Thursday, March 2
No. 11 Denver @ No. 4 Colorado College
No. 12 New Hampshire @ No. 9 Boston College

Friday, March 3
No. 4 Colorado College @ No. 11 Denver

Saturday, March 4
No. 9 Boston College @ No. 12 New Hampshire

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Minnesota remained No. 1 for the fourth straight week on the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll. The Golden Gophers swept a weekend series on the road against the University of Alaska Anchorage and garnered all 34 first-place votes for the second consecutive week.

Meanwhile, Michigan State University climbed into the top five following a three-point weekend at Lake Superior State University. The Spartans are undefeated in their last nine contests. Harvard University returned to the poll at No. 14 following wins over St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 11th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #21

(First-place votes in parentheses, Last Week, Record, Weeks In Top 15)

1. U. of Minnesota, 510 (34), 1, 23-6-5, 21
2. Miami (Ohio) U., 475, 3, 21-7-4, 17
3. Boston U., 394, 4, 19-9-4, 11
4. Colorado College, 379, 5, 23-12-1, 21
5. Michigan State U., 369, 6, 19-10-7, 12
6. U. of Wisconsin, 366, 2, 21-9-3, 21
7. U. of Maine, 346, 7, 23-10-1, 21
8. Cornell U., 245, 9, 18-7-4, 21
9. Boston College, 240, 8, 20-10-2, 21
10. U. of North Dakota, 196, 10, 21-14-1, 21
11. U. of Denver, 186, 11, 19-13-2, 18
12. U. of New Hampshire, 113, 14, 17-11-6, 19
13. U. of Michigan, 109, 12, 18-12-4, 21
14. Harvard U., 60, NR, 17-10-2, 7
15. U. of Nebraska Omaha, 56, 13, 18-11-5, 3

Others receiving votes: University of Vermont, 22; St. Cloud State University, 6; Dartmouth College, 4; Sacred Heart University, 3; Northern Michigan University, 1.


Commentary: Ivy Hockey Experience - U.S. College Hockey Online.

INCH Podcast - Inside College Hockey [MP3 file].

Sweden downs Finland 3-2 in Nordic Hockey Superbowl

Aftonbladet Expressen Sweden Hockey Olympic cover

Two Nordic hockey powerhouses faced off early Sunday morning on the final day of the 2006 Winter Olympics. All eyes in Sweden and Finland were on Via Filadelfia 88, for the gold medal hockey game at the Palasport Olimpico.

Sweden was playing in its first Olympic final since they won a gold medal at Lillehammer in 1994. Finland was playing in its first gold medal game ever. Edge Sweden. Sweden has won 7 World Championships compared to 1 by Finland. Edge Sweden. Miikka Kiprusoff and Team Finland lost a close 3-2 final to Canada in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. No Kiprusoff, edge Sweden. In 57 total Olympic, World Cup and World Championship meetings, Sweden holds a record of 41-15-1 over Finland. Even with Finland 7-0 heading into the final, Sweden was the historical favorite to take home gold.

Finland outscored opponents 27-5 in its first 7 games, and the top line of Selanne/Koivu/Lehtinen needed to produce early. Selanne assisted Kimmo Timonen on a PP goal at 14:45 of the first to put Finland ahead 1-0. Swedes on loan from the Detroit Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, contributed PP goals to put Sweden up 2-1 in the second. Former Shark Ville Peltonen scored the first even-strength goal on a nice feed by Jussi Jokinen to tie the score at 2-2.

The third period began poorly, for Finland. Ten seconds in, Saku Koivu's stick broke in two on a faceoff. Mats Sundin directed the puck to Peter Forsberg who set up Nicklas Lidstrom. Lindstrom let loose a shot that cleanly beat Finnish goaltender Antero Niittymaki. Sweden 3, Finland 2.

Finland picked up the tempo, and created several quality scoring chances trying to even the score in the third. Finnish forward Nicklas Hagman received a pass in the slot and fired a rocket that just glanced off the shoulder of Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. With time ticking down, Finland gained the zone with 40 seconds left and pulled Niittymaki for an extra attacker. Finland frantically gained control of the puck along the boards, and shot the puck on net. The puck ended up deflecting to the right of Lundqvist, onto the stick of Olli Jokinen. Henrik Lundqvist stretched spread eagle as he slid from left to right and got just enough of the puck to deflect it wide. Jokinen was stunned.

Game over. Sweden wins 3-2.

- Sweden takes gold, beats Finland 3-2 - Nbcolympics.com.
- Sweden 3, Finland 2 - NBC box score.
- Gold Medal Game - NHL photo gallery.
- Sweden 3, Finland 2 - AP.
- Sweden gold medallists welcomed by thousands of fans - Reuters.

This was not going to be a normal victory one way or the other, and NY Times writer Lee Jenkins found evidence from a Swedish tabloid:

So cocky were the Swedes that one tabloid newspaper ran a story Sunday encouraging Finnish residents to immigrate to Sweden if they wanted to be part of a gold medal celebration. The story was headlined "Tomorrow is too late," and it included a link on the Web site to official immigration documents. The link was particularly insulting, considering that Sweden had ruled Finland for 650 years.

According to broadcastingcable.com, the Sunday gold medal final between Sweden and Finland was the first time NBC put live video on the Olympics website.

While NBC's prime time ratings have been a disappointment, the network found a degree of success online, where its Olympic website will record upwards of 350 million page views and 8 million video streams by the end of the Games.

According to NBC, Feb. 23 set the single-day record for Web traffic for the game at 29.7 million, fueled by its best hour ever from 4-5 p.m., with 5.5 million views as surfers sought info on the ladies figure skating final.

The game was streamed online here. Never heard about it online, on the air, or in print until today. Tour of California final stage recap will be posted tomorrow, Hockey Notes for the last 2 weeks will be posted Wednesday.

[Update] Swedes savor gold medal, Murray, Ekman both from Stockholm - SJ Mercury News.

[Update2] Two thousand fans waited in -13C whether until 3AM to welcome home the silver medal Finnish hockey team. Ten thousand reportedly watched the final game from giant screens in Market Square, Helsinki. Helsingin Sanomat has more on the celebration:

The team's flight was late, and those who had come out to wave flags and welcome the boys home had to stand in the cold until nearly 03:00. Many of the predominantly young well-wishers had arrived around 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, when the show started.

The players were clearly touched by the rousing reception, which was of a kind normally reserved for victorious teams. One player to receive a particularly warm welcome was veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen, who was playing his last game in a Finnish jersey. Numminen had been particularly badly cut up by the defeat to Sweden, but smiled and thanked the fans for their support. He even engaged the crowd in a little ad hoc community singing.

Hardman defender Jarkko Ruutu noticed that some of the crowd had taken off their shirts despite the cold, and felt he ought to show solidarity. When he went topless, the crowd erupted.

Besides the 1-7 record, Olympic MVP goaltender, and late night celebrations, the Finnish squad also left their mark on international hockey.

The Finnish Lions - even in defeat - showed that ice hockey hereabouts, and in Europe generally, can teach the North Americans a thing or two. Team USA and Canada were both numbered among the Finnish victims.

[Update3] Kronwall offers up his gold medal to injured Ohlund - CBS Sportsline.

[Update4] Jes Golbez has more on the IIHF Olympic awards:

Directorate Awards, men's Olympic Tournament

Best Goalie: Antero Niittymaki (FIN)
Best Defenceman: Kenny Jonsson (SWE)
Best Forward: Teemu Selanne (FIN)

Olympic Tournament MVP: Antero Niittymaki (FIN)

Media All-Star Team

Goal: Antero Niittymaki (FIN)
Defence: Nicklas Lidstrom (SWE), Kimmo Timonen (FIN)
Forward: Teemu Selanne (FIN), Saku Koivu (FIN), Alexander Ovechkin (RUS)


Gerolsteiner charges but T-Mobile's Pollack wins stage 6, Floyd Landis holds on to gold jersey heading into final day

Tour of California cycling

If you could be a flea on one of the Gerolsteiner cycles, Stage 6 from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks would have been the most entertaining day of the Tour of California to date. The overall classification has been locked in place, with Floyd Landis of Team Phonak in the lead. There have been very few occasions for other riders to make up time on the course.

Gerolsteiner came out firing as Sven Krauss won the first Clif Bar sprint in Ojai, and Tour of San Francisco winner Fabian Wegmann and Gerolsteiner teammate Levi Leipheimer finished one two on the first King of the Mountain [KOM] climb.

The peloton reeled in all of the stray riders until Gerolsteiner's Sebastian Lang jumped out off the front. 12'07" behind in the GC, Lang peddled furiously through the orange groves to try to gain more points for the King of the Mountain classification. At one time check, Sebastian Lang was able to extend his lead to over 3 minutes ahead of the peloton.

Then Lang appeared to hit the wall as a steep climb made his advance so slow, he had trouble staying upright. Twice he had to tack to the right just to keep the his bike from falling over. A fan dressed in a full grim reaper costume with mask and scythe appeared at the worst possible moment, running alongside Lang for almost a minute with a mock hacking motion. Lang overcame the harbinger of death, blew past the infamous Texas Longhorns fan with a huge American flag, and parted a sea of fans at the Balcolm Canyon Road summit to begin his descent.

Luckily for Lang, the peloton also hit a wall on the steep climb. It looked as if the Gerolsteiner rider would be able to hold on to his lead as he approached the second half of the stage. Then disaster hit. With his Gerolsteiner support vehicle behind the main group, Sebastian Lang blew a tire. Losing upwards of 30 or 40 seconds as a neutral race vehicle changed his tire, Lang never appeared comfortable after the change. His confidence deflated, it was only a matter of time before the peloton reeled him in.

A 4-man group including Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann broke off the front as the race approached Thousand Oaks. On the apex of a turn, Wegmann glanced off a fan on the sideline. It appeared that the slight collision affected either his ear piece or his sunglasses. A short distance later, another fan failed to get out of the center of the road and two of the lead riders had to dodge him at the last second. It was shades of Lance Armstrong getting caught in a fan's camera strap, something you do not want to see on the course.

The lead group was swallowed up by a mass of cyclists peddling a few ticks above their anaerobic threshold. The pace was 40MPH at the 2km to go mark. The group spread out across two lanes, and Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann shocked everyone again by getting a 10-15 meter jump on the peloton long before a normal sprint would begin. It was a mad dash at the finish as Wegmann faded, and Olaf Pollack of T-Mobile and three other riders were able to beat him to the line with 5 feet to go.

Pollack opens T-Mobile's season account - t-mobile-team.com.

Olaf Pollack ends his drought: the T-Mobile fast man won the Tour of California's 144 km sixth stage from Santa Barbara to Thousands Oaks on Saturday to open T-Mobile’s season account. The 32-year-old German edged out Italy's Riccardo Ricco and US rider Fred Rodriguez in a bunch sprint finish to record his first win in magenta.

"I am delighted," quipped Pollack who was second on Monday’s opening stage. "It was a difficult time for me last year with all the injuries and time spent in hospital. I hope that I am right back on track now."

Floyd Landis Carries Lead into Final TOC Stage - amgentourofcalifornia.com.

Including an appearance by Lance Armstrong riding in the Discovery Channel team car, thousands of spectators lined today’s start in Santa Barbara and the finish line in Thousand Oaks, home of race title sponsor Amgen, where the three finishing circuits ended with Pollack taking the win in the field sprint to the line.

[Notes] KWC Blog takes a look at the field heading into the final stage, and looks at how the teams might rate their own performace after the Tour. Dave Aiello notes that the Amgen Tour of California has purchased a time slot on ESPN2 and produced its own program. Complaints about the broadcast from Velo News and elsewhere might be misdirected. The broadcast is fine, but it needs to be aired in its entirety to prevent skipping over large parts of the action. If time on ESPN2 is limited, OLN should step in and cut Amgen a deal.

The Mercury News starts speculation on where the Tour of California may race next year. The Merc quotes AEG Sports president Shawn Hunter saying a course will be announced in the next 30-45 days. It notes a possible stage in San Diego, or traveling down the penninsula to San Jose instead of traveling through the East Bay as two options. They should consider starting in the state capital of Sacramento, and riding along the marshlands, drawbridges and farm-laden river roads into the Bay Area.

More on Stage 6 from Velo News, Cycling News, the Daily Peloton, and the SF Chronicle.


Hincapie overcomes stage 1 climb for second win, Floyd Landis retains gold jersey

Discovery rider George Hincapie used a strong team effort and a last second sprint to pull out his second Tour of California stage win. Stage 5 was a rolling 105.3 mile course from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. Phonak's Floyd Landis retained his gold jersey and the overall classification lead. David Zabriskie [CSC] trails Landis by 29 seconds, Bobby Julich [CSC] trails by 34 seconds.

Team CSC leads the team classification, followed by Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team and Davitamon-Lotto. Sharkspage favorite Kodak Gallery.com/Sierra Nevada Pro Cycling is 13th, 43'16" back.

A 4 man breakaway lead out early, and Team Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer was the first member of the peloton to break out of the pack and join the leaders. His attempt to shake up the overall classification standings failed, as riders from Discovery Channel worked together to swallow up the breakaway on the San Marcos Pass descent.

George Hincapie was interviewed by ESPN2 on his second stage win:

I am really happy about winning again... I think this is a sign of things to come. My team is awesome. They took me up to the line, and I wanted to finish it for them.

A long straightaway lead up to the finish line, and George Hincapie was able to time his sprint just right to hold off Fabian Wegmann of Gerolsteiner by a half a length. Juan Jose Haedo and George Hincapie are the only riders with 2 Tour of California stage wins.

Hincapie climbs to win Tour stage, victory his second, Landis retains his lead - San Jose Mercury News.

Hincapie aces another stage, Landis almost home free - Velo News.

Floyd Landis, Chris Horner, George Hincapie, Nick Reistad, and Levi Leipheimer answer questions in a press conference from Stage 5 - dailypeloton.com.

A live webcam of Stage 6 can be viewed at amgentourofcalifornia.com.

[Update] KWC Blog recaps stage 5, and points to my favorite cycling photographer Graham Watson. Cyclelicious posted about the TOC, and is also competing in Colorado Tour de Cure for Diabetes on August 26, 2006. Alan from San Jose emailed in a link for the Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose. The first Sprint Tournament of the year will be held on March 26th.


Juan Jose Haedo wins Stage 4, Floyd Landis holds on to Tour of California golden jersey

Tour of California cycling

Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team sprinter J.J. Haedo won his second stage of the Tour of California Thursday. Haedo finished the 130 mile "Queen" stage from scenic Monterey to San Luis Obispo with a 4.41'02" mark, just ahead of Tour of Spain and Tour of Italy winner "Fast" Freddy Rodriguez.

Team Phonak rider Floyd Landis retained the overall classification lead, 29 seconds ahead of David Zabriskie [Team CSC], and 34 seconds ahead of Bobby Julich [Team CSC]. Lars Bak of Team CSC won blue jersey as the most agressive rider, Juan Jose Haedo of Toyota-United Pro Cycling won the green jersey as the best sprinter, Thomas Peterson of TIAA-CREF won the grey jersey as the best cyclist under 23, Bernhard Kohl of T-Mobile retained the KOM red jersey as the best climber, and Team Phonak's Floyd Landis retained the gold jersey as overall classification leader for a second straight stage.

More on Stage 4 from Velo News, cyclingnews.com, and the San Jose Mercury News. A live webcast, a cross section of Stage 5, and real-time tracking of the peloton is available from amgentourofcalifornia.com.

[Update] Pez went along for a ride in the winning Toyota-United support car for Stage 4. Inside The Winning Car - Pez Cycling News.

The race was fast. I could tell that the action was different than previous days because both Frankie and Harm were excited about the events unfolding thus far. Harm road shot-gun first, and pasted the routes elevation sheet to the car’s console so that the two of them could anticipate every mile ahead for their team.

The route today couldn’t have been more beautiful. Unfortunately the 29 mph average speeds of the peloton heading into the first category 4 climb of the day didn’t allow the racers to witness the pod of dolphins jumping out in the Pacific Ocean, but we were thrilled with the sight from within the car.

The article is a great read on cycling strategy, and displays how teams work together to reel in a breakaway.


Canadian Front Pages on Men's 2-0 Olympic loss to Russia

Canadian Newspapers on Team Canada

Papers pictured: Le Soliel, the Calgary Sun, the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Sun, the Vancouver Province, the National Post, and the Toronto Star.

Canada USA out of Olympics, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic advance to semis

Wednesday's Olympic Quarterfinal Results:

Sweden 6, Switzerland 2
Finland 4, USA 3
Russia 2, Canada 0
Czech Republic 3, Slovakia 1

The Czech Republic knocked off undefeated Slovakia 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Martin Rucinsky, Milan Hejduk, and Martin Straka scored for the Czechs, defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored the lone goal for Slovakia in the third period. Of more concern to Ottawa Senators fans, Hasek told reporters there was "very little chance" he would be able to suit up for Ottawa when play returns due to a groin strain. Thomas Vokoun is a Sharkspage favorite and should be a lock to start in the semis, but goaltender Milan Hnilicka also has played well.

The media angle surrounding Sweden has been head coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson's suggestion that his team might get a better quarterfinal draw if they intentionally lost the last round robin game. The IIHF sent the head of Finland's Ice Hockey Federation, Kalervo Kummola, to monitor Sweden's next game. Sweden got the result they were aiming for, playing an uninspired game in a 3-0 loss to Slovakia to back into the quarterfinals.

Sweden used a large helping of Peter Forsberg to down the Cinderella Swiss team 6-2 in the first round of elimination play. Henrik Sedin, Fredrik Modin, Henrik Zetterberg and Samuel Pahlsson scored for Sweden. With just three NHL players on the roster, Switzerland downed a heavily favored Czech Republic squad, and the defending gold medal Canada team two nights later. The Swiss finished with a tie against Germany, and capitalized on an inexplicable Italian turnover to tie the host country 1-1. Too say Swiss goalie Martin Gerber stood on his head would be an understatement.

What can be said about Team Canada's 2-0 loss to Russia to open the quarterfinals? I watched the game from a Russian feed, so it was easier to focus on the play on the ice. Scoreless after two, phenom Alexander Ovechkin put Team Russia up 1-0 early in the third period. Canada looked lethargic, almost as if they were playing in an Allstar game instead of the Olympics. Russia was attacking at every opportunity. Evgeni Malkin drove into the Canada zone trying to waste time on the penalty kill. Instead, with the puck extended far out on his stick, he stops in a spray of ice, draws the puck to the left and fired a quality shot on Martin Brodeur. Canada started to flood the goaltending crease in front of Nabokov, but a goal by Kovalev late in the game sealed Russia's 2-0 win.

Team Canada could have used San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau, who was named NHL offensive player of the week heading into the Olympic break. Evgeni Nabokov looked more patient than usual in net. It is rare to see him make so many saves while inside the goalie crease instead of challenging shooters far ouside it.

After a bad start, Team USA lost a tight 4-3 game to Finland to bow out of the 2006 Olympics. It was not an embarrassment, it was not a disaster, it was a tough loss to an undefeated preliminary round opponent. Derian Hatcher's inadvertent high stick on Teemu Selanne in the third period was the result of a followthrough while he was trying to clear the puck. Finland gets a double minor PP, and the hopes of a USA comeback were seriously deflated.

Team USA head coach Peter Laviolette commented on the loss to Finland:

"Everybody is disappointed both with this game and the whole tournament, We never played as well as we could have. There was only a one-goal difference in every game we lost. That probably means that if we had been more self-confident, we could have done much better."

Chris Drury summed up my thoughts on Team USA perfectly:

"It seemed like we were always playing in a tie game or chasing that one goal. That's no way to win a tournament, I think the only [positive] thing you can say was that we didn't quit. Even down by two, we kept on grinding it and had our chances, even had our chances to tie it. We just couldn't finish."

Goaltending, thought to be a concern prior to the Olympics, turned out to be fine. John Grahame and Rick DiPietro kept the U.S. in games. The problem for Team USA was putting pucks in the net. Veteran NHL stars who were supposed to provide a bulk of the offensive output did not, and now Team USA will need to transition to a younger group of players. It was the end of an era for many, but it will not go quietly.

U.S. hockey's loss is latest team fiasco - SF Chronicle.

The men's hockey team resembled a bad architectural hybrid, elegant Victorian on the first floor, a Frank Lloyd Wright knockoff on the second. Simply put, there were has-beens, wannabes and not much in between. Where is the new generation of outstanding American hockey players, the fresh-faced Chelios, Keith Tkachuk or Mike Modano?

Tkachuk played hard. He was a force against Finland. Chelios was solid. I am a disappointed by the early exit, but proud of the way they represented their country. But that does not sell papers, so commence with the bashing.

Ugly Americans - Flyers MVP.

It has become cool in some circles to trot out that term at the earliest opportunity. To use it here, under these circumstances is bad form.

Mike Modano, benched for the third period against Finland, commented on USA hockey after the 4-3 loss:

"I've been with USA Hockey a long time," said Modano, who's played in the system since 1988, "and it's time some things probably changed."

His specific complaints: Players having to take care of flights, tickets, hotels, everything for family members. Normally they don't have to, and it shouldn't have been a factor now.

Great. The rest of the team competed hard and now the media will amplify these remarks ad nauseum. This will become the story of Men's USA team for this Olympics, and they will have to answer even more questions about it.

Eric McErlain at Offwing on Modano's criticism of Team USA:

Many of us who remember February 1980 and Lake Placid grew up with the same dream: Maybe one day I could be lucky enough to represent my country and wear the Team USA sweater. For an American hockey fan like myself, I can't think of a greater honor.

So when you lose while wearing that sweater, you suck it up and take some responsibility, not complain about the fact that your agent might have to learn how to use Expedia. Save that stuff for behind closed doors, and take a lesson from Allen Iverson (funny, I know) who after the U.S. was knocked out of contention for the basketball gold in Athens in 2004 stepped up and didn't make any excuses for poor play.

James Mirtle picks through the aftermath of Team Canada's 2-0 loss to Russia.

Semi-final Schedule:

Friday, Feb. 24. [Semifinals]

FIN vs. RUS 11:30AM [PT] USA

Saturday, Feb. 25.
Bronze Medal Game

Sunday, Feb. 26.
Gold Medal Game

[Update] Tale of the Tape: Czech Republic vs. Sweden - NBC Olympics.

Tale of the Tape: Russia vs. Finland - NBC Olympics.

Jagr vs. Lundqvist in hockey semis - NY Newsday.

[Update2] Losses an indictment of North American hockey - Pajamas Media News.

Here's what he probably should have said: Wednesday's results are an indictment of North American hockey in the Olympics. Had Modano said that, his criticisms might have been easier to take.

This was a failure of a system. What else do you say when Canada, the favorite, and the U.S. fail to finish in the top four, the first time that's happened when both countries sent teams to the Olympics?

The U.S. tally after three NHL-flavored Olympics: one silver medal and two quick exits.


Cyclist blogging the Tour of California

Navigators Insurance rider Phil Zajicek is writing and posting audio from the Tour of California on his blog. Zajicek finished 27th on the Stage 3 time trial, 2'19" behind the behind the top mark set by Floyd Landis.

Zajicek is 15th in the overall classification.

[Update] Mexican team has its own race, with soccer - SJ Mercury News, Floyd Landis Wins TT, Takes the Yellow Jersey - amgentourofcalifornia.com, Top 10 places to watch Stage 4 [130 miles, Monterey to San Luis Obispo] from montereyinfo.org, Stage victory vaults Landis, Rider wins in S.J., takes overall lead - SF Chronicle.

[Correction] The orignal photo posted was not of Phil Z.

Floyd Landis wins stage three time trial, earns Tour of California gold jersey

2006 Tour of California

2006 Tour of California

2006 Tour of California

Floyd Landis of Team Phonak won the third stage of the Tour of California with a 35'38" mark on the 17-mile time trial. Team CSC riders filled the next two spots, with Dave Zabriskie finishing 26 seconds off the top time, and Bobby Julich finishing third. George Hincapie finished fourth and lost the gold jersey, Levi Leipheimer finished ninth.

According to two of the riders, there was a steady headwind during the long straightaway section of the course. After climbing one last hill on Santa Teresa Blvd, there was a slight tailwind as they approached the finish line.

Photos and video clips of all the stages are available at amgentourofcalifornia.com.

Two videos from this stage, the first [.mov file] is a ground level video of a cyclist passing by at full speed, and the second [.mov file] is of two cyclists passing by with the second yelling in Italian. I only saw two riders, one French and one Italian, being "encouraged" enthusiastically by their chase cars. At the Tour de France, a few chase cars went beserk with bullhorns, cb's, and large bells trying to bolster their riders and fans.

Please do not direct link to these videos because they are going to be moved to Google Video shortly. Then link to them all you want.

[Update] KWC Blog has more photos and a recap of stage 3, when I started down the course riders still had yet to break the 38 minute mark. The official SJ website followed Sharks forward Scott Thornton as he rode the course prior to the time trial with the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis. At 6'3", 225 pounds Thornton finished with a time of 48 minutes. Thornton commented on his Health Net teammates following him in a team support van, "I told them no megaphones, If they started with the megaphone I told them that I was getting off the bike". More from the Mercury News. Everything you need to know about the Specialized Angel can be found at Roger Kramer's cycling blog.

[Update2] Landis wins ITT, takes lead in Tour of California - Velo News.

Unlike time trials that these Americans contest in July's Tour de France, where thousands of fans urge on the riders every meter of the way, Wednesday afternoon's stage saw each man racing in a virtual vacuum. This was particularly true on the mostly flat final 11km, after the panhandle-shaped course turned left into a head wind following a technical up-and-down opening loop.

The California Highway Patrol had pretty much sealed the course, so few spectators ventured beyond the start and finish areas... unless they arrived early in the day. With no crowds to shield the wind, the lighter riders had a hard time keeping their form all the way to the finish.

I was there doing my part to block the wind along with two women from a nearby bait and tackle shop. It was quite a long walk in very hot temperatures. Most of the spectators in the middle of the course were on bikes in the closed lane trying to match the pace of the top riders. Key word there is trying. If you watch the one hour recap tonight on ESPN2, look for the sunburned guy in large aviator glasses at the 3KM to go sign.

[Update3] Reader mail:

[K.F.] Just love this site. Today especially, my two favorite sports Hockey and Cycling (you can bet I love OLN too!).

[L.M. from France] Beautiful photos.

[C.H. from Detroit] I just want to say thanks for the coverage on the cycling events! I don't really have time to follow cycling, except for in the summer. I love the Tour de France and I'm very excited for Hincapie's stage win and it'll be interesting to see if Levi takes over as Discovery's team leader.

[J.B. from parts unknown] Olympics? Hockey?

The 2006 Dakar Rally is also on OLN. Thank you LM. Everyone has been talking about Hincapie, asking if he will be the next dominate rider on the Tour. Levi has been plagued with bad luck.

More on the Men's Olympic quarterfinals today will be coming shortly, visit James Mirtle and Eric McErlain for a great roundup of Olympic hockey coverage. A serious outage at Blogger this week ate my first three posts on the Men's and Women's games. For this blog, the outage was for 3 days not 18 hours, although I was able to save the college tourney posts.

USA Men's hockey team loses to Russia 5-4, plays undefeated Finland in Olympic quarterfinals Wednesday

A game report from USAhockey.com:

U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team Drops 5-4 Decision to Russia At 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Team USA To Play Finland In Important Quarterfinal Game Wednesday

TORINO, Italy -- Russia edged the United States, 5-4, in men's ice hockey action at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games tonight before 9,378 at the Palasport Olimpico. It was the fifth and final preliminary-round game for both teams.

"This is a tough loss," said U.S. Head Coach Peter Laviolette. "The scoreboard is not agreeing with how we've played. We remain confident we'll win a hockey game tomorrow night. Our goal is to remain focused and keep pushing ahead."

The Russians had a 2-1 lead after the opening period. With the United States on the power play, Alexander Korolyuk stole the puck at the blueline and raced the length of the ice to beat netminder Robert Esche (Utica, N.Y.). The goal came at 9:27, just five seconds after Russia's penalty expired. Russia made it 2-0 on a shorthanded two-on-one breakaway at 10:41 with Evgeni Malkin beating a helpless Esche after a nifty feed across the goal by Darius Kasparaitis. Team USA got back into the game with just 1:22 left in the opening period as Brian Rolston (Flint, Mich.) put home his third of the Olympics off a pass from Craig Conroy (Potsdam, N.Y.).

Andrei Markov made it 3-1 for Russia at 15: 00 of the second when he rocketed a shot into the near side corner from the right faceoff circle. Brian Gionta (Rochester, N.Y.) brought Team USA within one at 19:01 of the second when he knocked in a rebound on a scramble in front of the net with the United States on the power play. Scott Gomez (Anchorage, Alaska) and Doug Weight (Warren, Mich.) drew assists on the play.

Team USA evened the score with its third power-play goal of the game at 5:00 of the final period. Mathieu Schneider's (New York, N.Y.) shot from the left point deflected off the skate of Anton Volchenkov at the bottom of the circle, bounded toward the goal and went in off the leg of Gomez from the front of the crease. Alexander Ovechkin put Russia ahead 4-3 at 9:55, but Erik Cole (Oswego, N.Y.) slammed home a backhanded wraparound just 43 seconds later to tie the game for the second time. The game-winner came off the stick of Alexei Kovalev at 11:52 from the top of the right circle.

Esche finished with 16 stops, while Russian netminders Maxim Sokolov and Evgeni Nabokov combined for 30 saves.

Team USA will play Finland tomorrow at 11: 30 a.m. EST at the Palasport Olimpico in quarterfinal play of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. The United States finished fourth in Group B with a 1-3-1 record, while Finland was the top finisher in Group A at 5-0-0.

NOTES: Brian Rolston (Flint, Mich.) celebrated his 33rd birthday here today and recorded a goal and an assist ... Team USA has outshot each of its five opponents in the Olympic Winter Games to date ... The United States has a 6-2-2 record all-time in the Olympic Games against Finland ... Other quarterfinal match-ups tomorrow include Slovakia vs. Czech Republic; Russia vs. Canada; and Switzerland vs. Sweden.

A box score from the game:

Russia 5, USA 4 [Feb 21]

Scoring By Period:
USA 1-1-2 -- 4
RUS 2-1-2 -- 5

First Period - Scoring: 1, RUS, Korolyuk (unassisted); 9:27; 2, RUS, Malkin (Kasparaitis), 10:41 (sh); 3, USA, Rolston (Conroy), 18:38 (pp); Penalties: RUS, A. Markov (hooking), 7:22; RUS, D. Markov (hooking), 10:06; USA, Knuble (hooking), 12:25; USA, Hatcher (roughing), 14:09; RUS, Sushinsky (hooking), 18:30.

Second Period - Scoring: 4, RUS, A. Markov (Datsyuk, Sushinsky), 15:00, 5, USA, Gionta (Gomez, Weight), 19:01. Penalties: USA, Chelios (hooking), 2:47; RUS, Bench (too many players), 7:23; RUS, Volchenkov (holding), 16:16; RUS, Korolyuk (hooking), 18:29.

Third Period - Scoring: 6, USA, Gomez (Schneider, Rolston), 5:00 (pp); RUS, Ovechkin (Malkin, Kasparaitis), 9:55; USA, Cole (Knuble, Drury), 10:38; RUS, Kovalev (Datsyuk, Malkin), 11:52. Penalties: RUS, Kharitonov (slashing), 4:14; USA, Liles (hooking), 15:34.

Shots Total:
USA - 34
RUS - 21

Goaltending (SH-SV):
USA, Esche (58:52) 21-16
RUS, Nabokov (20:00) 8-7
RUS, Sokolov (40:00) 26-23

Power Play: USA 3-7; RUS 0-4
Penalties: USA 4-8; RUS 7-14
Officials: Referee-Paul Devorski (CAN); Linesmen-Stefan Fonselius (FIN), Steven Michael Miller (CAN)
Attendance: 9,378

Visit NBColympics.com for more information.


George Hincapie wins second Tour of California stage in San Jose

2006 Tour of California

George Hincapie, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong and current Discovery Channel rider, won the second stage of the Tour of California with a Sharkspage unofficial time of 4'01.25. Hincapie dons the Amgen gold jersey as the overall classification leader in the photo above.

According to the official media guide, Hincapie was the only teammate to ride with Lance Armstron during all seven of his Tour de France victories. During the 2005 Tour de France, George Hincapie won the most difficult mountain stage [stage 15] of the race.

The race day was sponsored by The Wellness Community, a non-profit organization helping those diagnosed with cancer. In addition to winning the green jersey for best sprinter, and gold jersey for overall classification leader, the spokesman for the Wellness Community George Hincapie was able to win the stage sponsored by his charity.

More on this stage is coming soon. ESPN2 will air a one hour recap tonight at 10PM [PT].

[Update] Bonus finish line photo:

2006 Tour of California

[Update2] Hincapie climbs and sprints for stage and lead, Time bonus puts Hincapie four seconds ahead of Leipheimer - CyclingNews.com.

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) warned everyone yesterday that today's final climb up Sierra Road would be brutal -- and the climb lived up to every expectation, and even surpassed it. Leipheimer followed the KOM leader Bernhard Kohl (T-Mobile) and Floyd Landis (Phonak) in a three man break over the top and down into San Jose -- but it was Discovery Channel doing what they do best -- waiting.

"It was important for us to stay together -- that's the way we raced the last ten years in the Tour de France with teams attacking us -- we always stay together and we will catch them eventually," Hincapie explained. "That strategy worked again for us today." Michael Barry, Jason McCartney and Tom Danielson all took turns driving the chase, catching the leaders and leading out Hincapie, with Barry delivering him to the line for his first win of the season.

Hincapie claims stage win, lead in Tour of California - Velo News.

[Update3] The grassyknoll project collects videos and photos of the tour from fans and posts them on one page, Big Empty photographer Tim Gasperak posted an excellent TOC gallery on flickr and a cool header graphic on bigempty.com, and a fan recommended an interview with George Hincapie last year on Pez Cycling News. Hincapie talked about recovery from racing too many events after the Tour de France, how he rated 2005 the best season of his career, and what it meant to be a part of Lance Armstrong winning 7 Tours.

KWC Blog staked out a spot in the mountains to photograph the peloton, and then raced like mad to try to make it to San Jose for the finish. KWC also posted a few videos of the cyclists.

At California Race, Wondering if There's Life After Lance - NY Times.

Peoplewatching the TOC

2006 Tour of California

2006 Tour of California

I have no explanation for the two photos above, but the crowds during the prologue stage were large, enthusiastic, and very friendly. Two videos are posted here.

[Update] Stage 1 began in Sausalito and traveled 81.5 miles to Santa Rosa. The course cut through the Point Reyes National Seashore, climbed up the Muir Woods, and circled three laps in downtown Santa Rosa in front of an estimated crowd of 130,000.

KodakGallery.com/Sierra Nevada's Jackson Stewart and Credit Agricole's Jean Marc Marino sprinted to an early lead, but the peloton reeled them in after 42 miles. Team Gerolsteiner kept Santa Rosa native Levi Leipheimer near the front of the pack, and Leipheimer retained the overall classification lead after the first road stage. Argentinean Juan Jose Haedo of Toyota-United took home the stage win after a bold sprint to the finish line.

Haedo Wins Stage 1 - Leipheimer Keeps Yellow Jersey - Amgentourofcalifornia.com.

Stewart's aggressiveness pays off -- for a while - SF Chronicle.


Tour of California opens with prologue on L'Alpes d'San Francisco

2006 Tour of California

2006 Tour of California

2006 Tour of California

Levi Leipheimer won the inaugural Amgen Tour of California prologue on a very warm winter Sunday in San Francisco. The crowds were 3 deep at the beginning of the stage near the Embarcadero, sparse along Stockton street, and packed to the gills all along the approach to the finish at the Coit Tower.

Levi Leipheimer finished first out of 128 riders, recording a time trial of 4'53.43 for the 1.9 mile prologue stage. Team CSC rider Bobby Julich finished second, and Discovery Channel's George Hincapie finished third at 6 seconds back.

At the awards ceremony, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger awarded Santa Rosa's Levi Leipheimer the Amgen golden jersey to be worn be the overall classification leader. The red "King of the Mountains" jersey will be awarded to the best climber, the green jersey will denote the best sprinter, the grey jersey will represent the best rider under 23, and the blue jersey will be awarded to the most agressive rider.

From amgentourofcalifornia.com:

After leaving the start house third-to-last, Leipheimer finished with a time of 4'53.43, nearly five seconds faster than second-place Julich, who had previously set the standard for the 25 remaining riders, which included the world time trial champion Michael Rogers (AUS) of T-Mobile Team. Julich’s time held up to close contests by Discovery Channel’s George Hincapie (USA), Floyd Landis (USA) of Phonak and David Zabriskie (USA) of Team CSC, who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.

SFist's Chris posted several Tour of California related links, SJ Mercury News has an interactive Tour of California section, and ESPN2 is airing an hour-long recap of the event every night [tonight it is at 11PM PT].

Leipheimer takes lead in prologue - SF Chronicle.

"Over the last 300 meters, the crowd got me up the hill," said Emeryville's Freddie Rodriguez of the Belgian Davitamon-Lotto team, who finished in 15th place, 24 seconds behind Leipheimer. "Their cheering gave me a little extra push at the end."

Added Leipheimer: "The intensity of the crowd was amazing; it was deafening. It was something special; it felt like the Tour de France. I felt like I was riding on air."

A photo gallery from the prologue stage is coming soon. Two videos from the prologue stage can be viewed here, although they will be transfered to google video and deleted from Sharkspage soon. One shows a rider passing in front of Coit Tower at the 100 meter to go mark, and the second video shows a dog that was trapped on the course running past a cyclist. He avoided course workers several times and ran up and back on one stretch 4 times to the applause of the crowds.

Mars b*****s.

[Update] Best pre-race article on the Tour of California hands down goes to SJ Mercury News writer Scott Herhold. Smug no more after ride, details Herhold's attempt to ride the 3.8 mile stage 2 climb with a co-worker. Herhold hit the wall several times, but his travails will make watching the second stage from the sidelines more enjoyable.

18-year old Andy Murray downs Hewitt and Roddick to win 2006 SAP Open, McEnroe wins doubles title with Jonas Bjorkman

18-year old Scot Andy Murray downed top seeded Andy Roddick in straight sets [7-5, 7-5], and outlasted ATP ironman Lleyton Hewitt in a third set tiebreaker [2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)] to win the 2006 SAP Open. The ATP title was Murray's first. During the awards ceremony, Murray mentioned that it was a nice win after losing to Roger Federer in the finals at Bangkok.

With a long looping forehand, a similar looking two-handed backhand, and a slice floating backhand, Murray controlled play with solid groundstrokes. Hewitt struggled to get first serves in, and posted 11 double faults.

It would have been a safe bet that Hewitt would try to chase down balls and exploit any weakness by Murray in the third. Hewitt overcame two championship points against to force a third period tiebreak. A backhand overhead winner by Andy Murray, and a double fault by Lleyton Hewitt gave Murray a 3-0 tiebreak lead, and the momentum and confidence from which his opponent could not recover.

Darren Sabedra in the Mercury News notes that the win will move Andy Murray into the top 50 ATP rankings:

Twelve months ago, Murray was having to qualify just to play challenger tournaments. Now he has beaten two former No. 1 players in less than 24 hours and will move into the top 50 -- at No. 47 -- for the first time when the new rankings come out today.

Another 47 came into play on the doubles side of the tournament. John McEnroe, at 47 as of February 16th, along with Jonas Bjorkman defeated Paul Goldstein and Jim Thomas 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. According to sapopentennis.com, it was McEnroe's 78th doubles title. Bjorkman is ranked 4th on the Stanford ATP Double Rankings on ATPtennis.com.

McEnroe's reflexes were spot on for the most part at the net. After one call, McEnroe put his hands on his hips and did the "are you serious" routine. Players are going to get mad, players are going to swear on the court and give the stare of death to linespeople who miss a call, but the performance reminded me of an interview given long ago by Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix said he was frustrated by the fact that if he did not play his most memorable songs every night, fans leave the concert hall upset. There was a large helping of McEnroe's greatest hits on display Sunday.

A sampling of the media buzz surrounding the finals:

Vintage McEnroe wins his 78th title - International Herald Tribune.

Murray has right touch to win SAP title, British teenager could slice his way to top - SF Chronicle.

Andy Murray: The Scot with the lot - The UK Independent.

Henman says Murray has what it takes to go all the way - Scotsman.

The SAP Open began with the unfortunate late pullout by Andre Agassi. A premiere draw, Agassi withdrew because of back problems with little or no notice given to fans.

[Update] Exhaustive coverage of everything Andy Roddick at the SAP Open from Roddick Watch, and a report plus exclusive photos are up at The Spartan Daily.


2006 ACHA D2 West Regional Day 2 results and photos

2006 ACHA West Regional


USC 6, BYU 3
Long Beach State 3, Utah State 1
Colorado 5, Eastern Washington 3 [BERTH]
Denver 6, Weber St 2 [BERTH]

With a 6-2 win over Weber St, Denver advances to the ACHA D2 National tournament as the #3 seed. Starting out quickly with 3 goals in the first period, Weber St closed the gap to 3-2 and narrowly missed several scoring chances at the end of the second period. Denver put it out of reach with several goals in the third period.

Colorado University faced a fiesty and ill-tempered Eastern Washington team in a game that went down to the wire. Leading 4-2, Colorado took a penalty deep in the zone. EWU scored on a scrum in front of the goal to make it 4-3. After pulling their goaltender, Eastern Washington had several point blank scoring chances until Colorado scored an empty net goal. Colorado earned the #4 West Region seed for the National tournament with a 5-3 win over EWU.

Visit the ACHA D2 National tournament bracket here, ACHA updated scores here, or the SJSU tournament page here.

[Update] Visit the photo gallery from day 2 here.


2006 ACHA D2 West Regional Day 1 results and photos

2006 ACHA West Regional

2006 ACHA West Regional

2006 ACHA West Regional

Scores from the first day of the West Region Tournament at Logitech:


Eastern Washington 5, BYU 4 OT
Denver 6, Long Beach State 2
Weber State 3, Utah State 0
Colorado 4, USC 3 OT


4:15PM BYU - USC [placement]
4:30PM Utah State - LBS [placement]
7:30PM Colorado - EWU [berth]
7:45PM Denver - Weber State [berth]

Photo gallery from day 1 here. Live intenet broadcast of day 2 is available from hockeyradioonline.com.


8 teams travel to San Jose for 2006 ACHA West Regional tournament

2006 ACHA West Regional

Eight teams travel to the Logitech Ice Center Friday and Saturday to battle for the last two ACHA D2 Western Conference playoff spots for the National Tournament in Rochester.

Denver University [#3], Colorado University [#4], Eastern Washington University [#5], Utah State [#6], Weber State [#7], BYU [#8] Pac8 champion USC [#9], and Long Beach State [#10] begin play Friday at 2PM. San Jose State [#1] and Colorado State [#2] are automatically granted entries to Nationals for finishing as the top two seeds during the regular season.

2006 ACHA West Regional Playoff Schedule

Friday Feb. 17
No. 5 E. Washington vs. No. 8 BYU 2:00PM North rink
No. 3 Denver vs. No. 10 LBSU 2:00PM South rink
No. 4 Colorado vs. No. 9 USC 7:45PM North rink
No. 6 Utah State vs. No. 7 Weber State 7:45PM South rink

Saturday Feb 18th:
Placement vs. Top Losing Seeds 4:15PM South rink
Placement vs. Top Losing Seeds 4:30PM North rink
Berth vs. Top Winning Seeds 7:30PM South rink
Berth vs. Top Winning Seeds 7:45PM North rink

Robert Hashimoto of Utah State is the top regular season goal scorer in this tournament, scoring 31 goals and 29 assists in 33 games played. Berkeley captain Amir Moazeni, and SJSU's Sean Scarbrough tied for the Western Conference lead with 33 goals. Remy Bickoff of USC lead the Western Conference in total points with 29 goals and 43 assists for 72 points in 29 games played.

SJSU goaltender Ryan Lowe [21-1-1, 2.33GAA] lead the entire second division of the ACHA with 21 wins. Greg Finatti [12-4, 2.18GAA] of Utah State is the leading goaltender in this tournament with 12.

Visit the official SJSU Hockey tournament page, or logitechice.com for more information. A live broadcast from the tournament is available from hockeyradioonline.com.


USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Feb. 13-19

A press release from USAhockey.com:

University of Minnesota Retains No. 1 Spot On USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

This Week's Top-15 Match-Ups

Friday, February 17
No. 7 Denver @ No. 1 Minnesota
No. 2 Miami @ No. 10 Michigan State
No. 4 Boston College @ No. 11 Maine
No. 8 Michigan @ No. 15 Nebraska Omaha

Saturday, February 18
No. 7 Denver @ No. 1 Minnesota
No. 2 Miami @ No. 10 Michigan State
No. 4 Boston College @ No. 11 Maine
No. 8 Michigan @ No. 15 Nebraska Omaha

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Minnesota remained No. 1 on this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll. The Golden Gophers earned a win and a tie last weekend at Michigan Tech University.

Boston University rose one spot to No. 5 following victories over Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Terriers will meet No. 4 Boston College in the championship game of the 54th annual Beanpot Hockey Tournament tonight (Feb. 13). Meanwhile, the University of Nebraska Omaha climbed into the poll at No. 15 for the first time this season following a road sweep of Northern Michigan University.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 11th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #19

(first-place votes in parentheses, Last Week, Record, Weeks In Top 15)

1. University of Minnesota, 493 (21), 1, 19-6-5, 19
2. Miami (Ohio) University, 476 (9), 2, 20-5-4, 15
3. University of Wisconsin, 436 (1), T-4, 20-7-2, 19
4. Boston College, 427 (1), 3, 19-6-2, 19
5. Boston University, 366, 6, 17-8-2, 9
6. Cornell University, 317, T-4, 16-5-4, 19
7. University of Denver, 292, 9, 18-10-2, 16
8. University of Michigan, 259, 7, 18-11-3, 19
9. Colorado College, 241, 8, 19-12-1, 19
10. Michigan State University, 193, 13, 17-10-7, 10
11. University of Maine, 170, 12, 19-10-1, 19
12. University of North Dakota, 149, 11, 18-13-1, 19
13. University of Vermont, 64, 10, 17-9-4, 17
14. Providence College, 59, 14, 15-11-2, 8
15. University of Nebraska Omaha, 56, NR, 17-11-4, 1

Others receiving votes: University of New Hampshire, 30; St. Cloud State University, 25; Harvard University, 7; Lake Superior State University, 7; College of the Holy Cross, 5; Colgate University, 4; St. Lawrence University, 3; Mercyhurst College, 1.

5th ranked Boston University [18-8-2] downed 4th ranked Boston College [19-7-2] 3-2 to win their 27th Beanpot title Monday night. BU has won half of the tournament's 54 total championships. Sophomore BU forward Peter MacArthur scored the game winning goal and was named tournament MVP. Boston College goaltender Cory Schneider made 33 saves on 36 shots in the loss.

Terriers Defend Beanpot Title With 3-2 Victory Over BC - Boston University Hockey.

"I thought it was a great college hockey game," said BU Head Coach Jack Parker. "It was a great defensive effort - we clamped down a lot in the second and third periods and didn't give [BC] a lot of grade-A scoring chances. The second period was one of the best periods of college hockey in a long time."

Cory Schneider Recounts 2005 U.S. Junior National Team Experience - Boston College Hockey.


Patrick Marleau named NHL offensive player of the week

A press release from the NHL:


NEW YORK/TORONTO (February 13, 2006) -- San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who led all NHL scorers with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in four games, has been named the NHL's Offensive Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday, February 12. Detroit Red Wings goaltender Manny Legace, who led Detroit to three victories with a 1.67 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, is the League's Defensive Player of the Week.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brad Richards, who posted nine points (0-9--9 in four games), New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr (5-3--8 in three games) and San Jose forward Joe Thornton (3-6--9 in four games) were runners-up for offensive honors, while goaltenders Vesa Toskala of San Jose (3-0-0, 2.65 GAA), Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers (2-0-0, 1.50 GAA) and Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames (2-0-0, 2.00 GAA) were runners-up for the defensive award.

Marleau recorded points in each game as the Sharks went 3-1-0 for the week. He recorded one goal and two assists in a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames Feb. 6, posted one goal in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 8, notched four assists in a 6-3 win over Dallas Stars Feb. 10 and had two goals in a 5-4 overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes Feb. 12.

Marleau is second on the Sharks and 13th in the League overall in scoring heading into the Olympic break with 64 points (25-39--64). The Sharks rank fourth in the Pacific Division with a record of 27-21-8 for 62 points.

Legace began the week by stopping all 20 shots as the Red Wings shut out the Nashville Predators 6-0 on Feb. 8. He made 32 saves in a 3-2 victory at Nashville Feb. 9 and turned aside 20 of 23 shots in a 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche Feb. 12.

Appearing in 36 of Detroit's 57 games, Legace has posted a 25-6-2 record, a League-leading 1.99 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage and five shutouts. The Red Wings (39-13-5, 83 points) lead the NHL overall standings.

The Sharks are heading into the Olympic break on a 3-game winning streak, 6 points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. San Jose trails Anaheim and Minnesota as teams on the outside looking in. With only 56 games played, the San Jose Sharks have games in hand on every team currently in the playoff race.

Patrick Marleau put a team on his shoulders that was sliding into the Olympic break losing six out of seven games. During the 3-game win steak, Patrick Marleau scored the opening goal against Chicago [assist by Bernier] in a 2-1 Sharks win, Marleau earned 4 assists in a dominant performace during a 6-3 win over Pacific Division leading Dallas, and Marleau scored 2 goals [including one third period goal on the PP that appeared like it would be the game winner] in a 5-4 overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes.

While Sharks center Joe Thornton is flanked by last season's second leading scorer in teal, Nils Ekman, and 2006 Western Conference goal scoring leader Jonathan Cheechoo [34 goals], San Jose captain Patrick Marleau skates on a line with talented rookies Steve Bernier and Milan Michalek. In addition to taking over games at critical moments, logging minutes on the penalty kill and on the point of the power play, Marleau has placed an equal emphasis on making his linemates better.

Six-foot-two, 230-pound right wing Steve Bernier has an assist in each of his last three games. Bernier was re-assigned to the AHL Cleveland Barons today to log ice time during the Olympic break. Six-foot-two, 220-pound Milan Michalek picked up 2 goals against the Dallas Stars [including the game winner] and an assist against the Phoenix Coyotes.

USC Trojans win the 2006 Pac-8 Championship

USC Trojans hockey

The USC Trojans defeated arch rival UCLA 5-4 on Friday, and then defeated Oregon 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. More from Oregon:

In an epic battle featuring the top two seeds in the tournament, the USC Trojans beat the host Oregon Ducks 4-3 in overtime to win the 2006 Pac-8 Championship. The teams were deadlocked 3-3 at the end of regulation time, causing the game to go into a 5 minute scoreless overtime. Next came the shoot-out and the teams once again were deadlocked after the first round. The teams went into a sudden death shootout and USC prevailed over Oregon.

The UCLA Bruins defeated the Cal Golden Bears 11-6 in the third place game earlier in the day.

More from USChockey.com:


USC goalie Matt Buttweiler named MVP

The USC ice hockey team won the Pac-8 ice hockey tournament with two exciting shootout victories against UCLA and Oregon over the weekend in Eugene, Ore.

The Trojans came into Friday's first round of the Pac-8 Tournament as the underdogs against UCLA. Entering the third period tied, 2-2, Shon Smith scored two goals to give USC a 4-2 lead, but the Bruins fought back to tie it late in regulation. A scoreless overtime period led to a shootout, and Smith came up big yet again, scoring the winning goal in the last round of the shootout to give USC a 5-4 win.

In the championship game Saturday against Oregon, the Trojans once again entered the third period with a 3-1 lead, but Oregon, backed by a rowdy home crowd, managed to tie it. Despite taking a penalty in overtime, the Trojans survived to force a shootout. In the sixth round, Mark Farrish, last year's most valuable player for the Trojans, scored to clinch the Pac-8 Championship for USC with a 4-3 win.

Freshman goalie Matt Buttweiler was named the tournament MVP, playing tremendous between the pipes for USC and looking more like an experienced senior than a freshman. Buttweiler only allowed 3 goals in 11 shootout rounds against UCLA and Oregon.

Next stop for the Trojans will be the ACHA Reginal Tournament in San Jose where the No. 9-seeded Trojans will take on the No. 4 Colorado Buffaloes in the first round on Friday.

The 2006 Pac8 Championship was hosted by Oregon in Eugene. Oregon won the Pac8 title in Berkeley in 2005.

Visit the official Oregon 2006 Pac8 tournament page, or pac8hockey.com for more information.

Kelly Cup begins its 3rd annual tour of ECHL cities

Patrick J. Kelly Cup

The Patrick J. Kelly Cup, awarded to the ECHL champion since 1997, began its third annual tour February 10th in Victoria, British Columbia. The Kelly Cup weighs in at 25-3/8 pounds, and stands 19-3/8 inches high with 2 levels and the Cup displaying team and player names.

Patrick J. Kelly was one of the founders of the ECHL, serving as Commissioner for the first 8 years of the league, before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996. Patrick J. Kelly coached the Colorado Rockies, and lead them to the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs in 1978. Kelly played in the OJHL, AHL, IHL, EHL, and coached in the EHL, SHL, NHL, AHL, and IHL, where he lead the Peoria Riverman to a Turner Cup in 1985. According to the ECHL, Kelly coached 1,900 career games and had 935 wins to rank second all time among professional coaches to only the legendary Scotty Bowman with 2,571 games and 1,511 wins.

Prior to 1997, the Riley Cup was awarded to the ECHL champion from its foundation in 1989 to 1996. The Riley Cup was named after influential ECHL player Jack Riley.

The 50-day Kelly Cup tour will visit 11 cities in 9 states, and 1 Canadian Province, including one stop February 18-19th in Stockton, California.

2006 Kelly Cup Tour Schedule

Feb. 10-11 Victoria, British Columbia
Feb. 17 West Valley City, Utah
Feb. 18-19 Stockton, Calif.
Feb. 24-25 Johnstown, Pa.
Mar. 3-4 Toledo, Ohio
Mar. 5 Wheeling, W.Va.
Mar. 10-11 Greenville, S.C.
Mar. 12 Charlotte, N.C.
Mar. 18 Duluth, Ga.
Mar. 24-25 Boise, Idaho
Mar. 31 North Charleston, S.C.

ECHL Kelly Cup Champions:

2005 Trenton Titans
2004 Idaho Steelheads
2003 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies
2002 Greenville Grrrowl
2001 South Carolina Stingrays
2000 Peoria Rivermen
1999 Mississippi Sea Wolves
1998 Hampton Roads Admirals
1997 South Carolina Stingrays

ECHL Riley Cup Champions:

1996 Charlotte Checkers
1995 Richmond Renegades
1994 Toledo Storm
1993 Toledo Storm
1992 Hampton Roads Admirals
1991 Hampton Roads Admirals
1990 Greensboro Monarchs
1989 Carolina Thunderbirds


Olympic hockey broadcast schedule, year-by-year recap of USA Women's hockey since 1990

An archived press release from USAhockey.com:

NBC Announces Broadcast Schedule for Men's and Women's Ice Hockey, All Team USA Games To Be Aired Live On Either NBC, The USA Network Or MSNBC

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – An unprecedented amount of hockey coverage is part of the record 416 hours of programming the NBC television family will provide during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

NBC Family Television Coverage, 2006 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team

Feb. 15 vs. LAT 3:00 p.m. USA
Feb. 16 vs. KAZ 3:00 p.m. USA
Feb. 18 vs. SVK 2:00 p.m. NBC
Feb. 19 vs. SWE 11:00 a.m. NBC
Feb. 21 vs. RUS 2:30 p.m. NBC
Feb. 22 Quarterfinal TBD USA
Feb. 24 Semifinals 10:00 a.m. MSNBC
Feb. 24 Semifinals 3:00 p.m. USA
Feb. 25 Bronze-Medal 2:30 p.m. NBC
Feb. 26 Gold-Medal 9:00 a.m. NBC

2006 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team

Feb. 11 vs. SUI 2:30 p.m. USA
Feb. 12 vs. GER 1:00 p.m. USA
Feb. 14 vs. FIN 2:30 p.m. NBC
Feb. 17 Semifinal 7:00 a.m. NBC
Feb. 20 Bronze-Medal 10:30 a.m. MSNBC
Feb. 20 Gold-Medal 2:30 p.m. NBC

The hockey coverage will include live telecasts of all Team USA women's and men's contests on either NBC, USA Network, or MSNBC.

"We're extremely grateful for the broad coverage of hockey the NBC family is providing from the Olympic Winter Games," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "We hope that our teams will perform well and that the exposure will enhance our efforts to further grow the game in the U.S."

Coverage of Team USA will begin Feb. 11 (Saturday) with the U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team's first preliminary match-up against Switzerland at 2:30 p.m. EST on the USA Network. The U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team kicks off preliminary action on Feb. 15 (Wednesday) against Latvia at 3 p.m. EST on the USA Network.

In addition, all Team USA games broadcast on the USA Network or MSNBC will be simulcast on Universal HD for those with high-definition viewing capability.

Along with Team USA games, the NBC family of networks – NBC, USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC and Universal HD – will carry games involving all teams in both tournaments. A total of 54 of the 58 ice hockey games to be played at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games will receive coverage, including all of the medal games. A full listing of the NBC family's Olympic schedule can be found at nbcolympics.com.

Nice to see 1998 gold medalist, and 2002 silver medalist Cammi Granato in the booth as a NBC hockey analyst. She should be on the ice.

The NBC Olympics Ice hockey page can be found here. A composite NBC/MSNBC/USA/CNBC/UHD Olympic daily broadcast schedule can be found here.

More is available from usahockey.com, Hockey Canada, Hockey Latvia, the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation, swehockey.se, Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, Schweizerischer Eishockeyverband [SUI], Deutscher Eishockey Bund [GER], finhockey.fi, hokej.cz [CZE], and the Federazione Italiana Sport Ghiaccio [ITA].

A complete Mens Ice Hockey broadcast schedule is availble from the Minnesota Star Tribune [all times CST]:


Wed., Feb. 15
6 a.m. Ita vs. Can MSNBC
8:30 a.m. Swi vs. Fin MSNBC
10 a.m. Ger vs. Cze MSNBC
4:30 a.m. Kaz vs. Swe MSNBC
1 p.m. Rus vs. Svk None
2 p.m. Lat vs. USA USA

Thur., Feb. 16
5 a.m. Fin vs. Ita MSNBC
6 a.m. Cze vs. Swi MSNBC
9 a.m. Swe vs. Rus MSNBC
10 a.m. Svk v. Lat MSNBC
1 p.m. Can vs. Ger None
2 p.m. USA vs. Kaz USA

Sat., Feb. 18
4:30 a.m. Kaz vs. Rus CNBC
6 a.m. Ita vs. Ger CNBC
8:30 a.m. Can vs. Swi CNBC
10 a.m. Swe vs. Lat CNBC
1 p.m. Svk vs. USA Ch. 11
2 p.m. Cze vs. Fin CNBC

Sun., Feb. 19
5 a.m. Ger vs. Swi CNBC
6 a.m. Rus vs. Lat CNBC
9 a.m. Svk vs. Kaz CNBC
10 a.m. USA vs. Swe Ch. 11
1 p.m. Cze vs. Ita CNBC
2 p.m. Fin vs. Can CNBC

Tue., Feb. 21
4:30 a.m. Lat vs. Kaz MSNBC
5:30 a.m. Swi vs. Ita MSNBC
8:30 a.m. Fin vs. Ger MSNBC
9:30 a.m. Can vs. Cze MSNBC
1 p.m. Swe vs. Svk MSNBC
1:30 p.m. USA vs. Rus USA

9:30 a.m. Quarter 1 USA
10:30 a.m. Quarter 2 MSNBC
1:30 p.m. Quarter 3 MSNBC
2:30 p.m. Quarter 4 USA

Fri., Feb. 24
9:30 a.m. Semi 1 MSNBC
2 p.m. Semi 2 USA

Sat., Feb. 25
1:30 p.m. Bronze medal Ch. 11

Sun., Feb. 26
7 a.m. Gold medal Ch. 11

All times CST.

[Update] USA Women win 2005 World Championship in Sweden - Sharkspage.

That post includes a year-by-year recap of USA Women's Hockey play from 1990-2005:

1990 - First ever Women's IIHF World Championship held in Ottawa. Canada overcomes a 2-0 USA lead and wins 5-2.

1992 - During the second Women's IIHF World Championship in Finland, Canada defeats the USA 8-0 to repeat.

1994 - Third Women's IIHF World Championship, this time in Lake Placid NY, yet another 6-3 Canada win over Team USA. Are you sensing a theme to this post?

1995 - Not World Championship related, but San Jose hosted the first ever IIHF Pacific Women's Hockey Championship. Canada downs the USA in overtime. Where was I for this?

1996 - Vancouver, Canada. The second ever IIHF Pacific Women's Hockey Championship. Canada defeats USA for the gold.

1997 - Another IIHF Women's Hockey Championship, the fourth. Another overtime game. Another Canada win, 4-3, over Team USA.

1998- Team USA defeats Team Canada 3-1 to earn Olympic gold. About time. Take that Canada.

1999 - Fifth IIHF Women's Hockey Championship, the fifth Team USA loss to Team Canada, this time 3-1 in the other direction.

2000 - USA Women lose to Canada in the IIHF WHC, six straight gold medals for Canada.

2002 - Canada wins gold over guess who? Finland? Wrong. Canada defeated the USA 3-2 for their turn on top of the Olympic podium.

2003 - The IIHF WHC in Beijing is cancelled due to the Sars outbreak. If there was a Championship, Canada would have defeated the USA in the final.

2004 - USA women lose to Canada again, 2-0 in the final IIHF WHC game.

2005 - USA 1, Canada 0. First ever IIHF Women's Hockey Championship for Team USA.


Former Cal goaltender Brad Buss earns first professional win with CHL Lubbock Cottonkings

Brad Buss Lubbock Cottonkings CHL

On Tuesday, former Cal goaltender Brad Buss earned his first professional win for the Lubbock Cottonkings of the Central Hockey League. Buss made 33 saves on 35 shots, allowed only 1 PP goal on 5 PP opportunities, and was named 3rd star of the game. The Lubbock Cottonkings picked up a 5-2 win over the Oklahoma City Blazers.

The Cottonkings have an 18-20-3 record this season, with 116 goals for and 128 goals against in 41 games played. Lubbock averages 4,335 fans over 19 home dates. Visit the official Lubbock Cottonkings website, or the Central Hockey League official website for more information. Thanks to A. Sheldon for sending this story in.

From the Cottonkings radio pregame show prior to Buss's first game against Oklahoma City:

"He came in Sunday morning and skated Monday morning. He looked very good. He's got good size. I can tell he's been well coached. He's had a lot of direction. He plays the angles really well. Technically sound. And again, he’s got good size - he fills up the net, and there's not too much to see. He’s a very pleasant man. Gets along with everybody and just kind of assimilated. Gets along with everyone real well and we're confident in his ability to play and that's the biggest thing"

[Update] Cal Berkeley is set to participate in the Pac 8 Hockey Tournament this weekend at the University of Oregon. According to pac8hockey.com, top seeded USC [14-4] will face off against 4th seed UCLA [10-6] at 4PM on Friday. Second seed, 2006 I-5 Champion, and 2005 Pac8 Champion the University of Oregon [12-3] will play 3rd seed Cal [10-8] at 7PM. The consolation round game will be held Saturday at 1PM, with the championship game set for 4PM.

A live broadcast of the game will be made available via Oregon, and more information is available from the Oregon homepage and the 2006 Pac8 tournament page.

From calicehockey.com:

This Thursday, the Golden Bears will head to Eugene, Oregon for the Pac-8 playoffs. As the third seed, the Bears will face the second seeded Oregon Ducks in the first round of the playoffs. While the teams split the season series, the Bears still look to avenge the first round loss to the Ducks in last seasons first round playoff matchup. Said Golden Bears captain Amir Moazeni "Oregon is a great team. They are very well coached, well disciplined, and have excellent goaltending. As defending champs, they are the team to beat."

[Update2] An email earlier this week from San Jose State captain #4 Ray Kellam:

Just got the e-mail from ACHA. For the first time in San Jose State Hockey history the Spartans have finished #1 in the Western Region. It has taken 15 years of building, with everyone who has ever played over that time being a part of this.

San Jose State finished the 2005-06 season ranked first overall in the Western Conference of the ACHA 2nd Division. SJSU went undefeated at home with a 22-0-1 record, and finished 4-1 on the road in Colorado and Southern California.

As one of the top two seeds in the West, San Jose State earned a bye for the ACHA D2 West Regional Tournament February 17th and 18th at Logitech in San Jose. The 3rd through 10th seeds in the conference will battle for the two remaining Western Conference bids to compete in the ACHA D2 National Championship on March 8-11th in Rochester, New York.

Two home games have been rescheduled against UNLV for February 24th [9PM] at Sharksice in Fremont, and February 25th [6:45PM] at Logitech Ice in San Jose. Visit sjsuhockey.com or the official West Regional Conference tournament page for more information.

Sharks re-sign Cheechoo for 5 years, Nabokov for 4, Nabokov probable #1 for Team Russia in 2006 Olympics

Evgeni Nabokov - '05 / '06 Home Action

San Jose GM Doug Wilson announced Wednesday that the Sharks signed right wing Jonathan Cheechoo to a five-year contract extension, and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was signed to a four-year contract extension. Cheechoo leads the Sharks with 32 goals scored, 16 on the power play. According to the official press release, Evgeni Nabokov is the leader in Sharks career goaltending statistical categories: games played [296], minutes [16,855], wins [135] and shutouts [27].

Victor Chi of the Mercury News reported the financial details of each contract: Cheechoo signed a 5-year $15 million deal, Nabokov a 4-year $21.4 million deal.

According to Chi, the new collective bargaining agreement counts the average of the entire contract against the salary cap each year. The Sharks will count $8.375 million against the cap next season, $5.375 million for Nabokov, $3 million for Cheechoo.

2005-06 NHL salary cap basics:

- $39 million salary cap
- $21.5 million salary floor
- cap adjusted each year based on revenues
- no player can earn more than 20% of team salary
- minimum player salary $450,000

Victor Chi also quoted Sharks head coach Ron Wilson on Jonathan Cheechoo's performance this season:

Cheechoo set a franchise record last week with his third hat trick of the season.

"A cynic might say that he's profiting from playing with Joe Thornton and there's some truth to that," Coach Ron Wilson said. "But he did score 28 goals without a pass from Joe Thornton two years ago and he was basically playing on a grind line, a third line. He did a lot of the work himself."

I have to take a little bit of an exception with that comment. Jonathan Cheechoo did take a beating in front of the net. He scored while being knocked to the ice, scored with his stick between his legs, but one of the main reasons for the S.Thornton/Ricci/Cheechoo line's success last season was the unheralded work of Mike Ricci and Scott Thornton. Both were struggling to score, but found ways to get Cheechoo the puck with players draped all over them.

Among all players drafted after the 2002-03 NHL season, only Columbus Blue Jackets sniper Rick Nash [74] has scored more goals than Jonathan Cheechoo [69]. The Moose Factory, Ontario native's ability to finish, his personality, and the inability of opposing forwards to knock him off the puck will make him a future league-wide fan favorite.

The SF Chronicle's Ross McKeon quoted Sharks head coach Ron Wilson on Evgeni Nabokov's status:

"Physically, he's fine right now and his movements are sharp and crisp, but again, getting bumped into or the traffic issues continues to be a distraction for him," coach Ron Wilson said...

"I prefer the puck to be in the defenseman's hands and the exchanges to be safer and cleaner," the coach added. "He's capable of doing that. We have to eliminate that part. The rest of his game is really sound and excellent."

Evgeni Nabokov has a 14-15-6 record in 38 games played this season, with a 2.95GAA, .892SV%, and 2 shutouts. Nabokov is 0 for 4 on shootouts this season, tied for last in the NHL with Colorado Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj.

The NHL Olympic break will provide Nabokov a huge opportunity. The Sharks will not be in the Western Conference playoff picture at the time of the 2006 Torino Olympics. It will take a dominating, intimidating performance from Nabokov during the second half, for the Sharks to have a chance.

Nabokov is a confidence goalie, playing at his best when he raises his glove up long after making a save to make sure an opponent knows where the puck is. A recent mishandled puck by Nabokov behind his own net Monday against Calgary was a low point. Evgeni's quick reflexes and anticipation will have less room for error, with a solid but untested young Sharks defensive core in front of him.

And yes, this team is young. That is not a bad word, not a slight, not an outright knock on the team. It is a testament to the fact that this organization drafts and develops players well.

As of January, San Jose was the second youngest team in the NHL with an average age of 26.7. Ottawa iced the youngest team in the NHL with an average age of 26.4.

For good measure, the Sharks were also 9th in the league in average height [6-foot-1.5], and 3rd overall in average weight [210.5]. Thanks to the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle for the hockey minutiae.

Back to Nabokov, when it comes to playing in the Olympics, it will be a much different situation than the marathon Stanley Cup playoffs. Team USA defenseman Mathieu Schneider breaks it down for Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:

"In any tournament that's this short, I think it makes it that much more important to have great goaltending," Red Wings defenseman and U.S. Olympian Mathieu Schneider said. "If a goalie gets hot for two games, he can win the whole tournament. It's a little different than the Stanley Cup playoffs in that each round is seven games; you always get another chance. But in the Olympics, each game becomes bigger as the tournament progresses. You get into the medal round and two great games from a goalie and, all of a sudden, you're a gold-medal winner."

Nabokov's confidence level as a part of his game is comparable to Patrick Roy's, but Evgeni lacks the ability to use the "2 Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears" taunt. The former NHL rookie of the year, Evgeni Nabokov locked it down against Calgary in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the Sharks only scored one goal total in two losses at home during games 2 and 5. The Flames advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 6 games.

Nabokov will need to play strong Olympic hockey early, as Team Russia begins its schedule with Slovakia, Sweden, Latvia and the United States.

Russia's main export of late has been solid, puck moving defenseman. With Danny Markov, Fedor Tyutin, Andrei Markov, Alexei Zhitnik, and the hero of defensman 8 to 80, Sergei Gonchar, Russia will live or die by the blueline before it lives or dies by the goaltender. Up front, Team Russia is almost as offense-heavy with Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Frolov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Kovalev, Alexander Ovechkin, and Alexander Korolyuk.

New Team Russia GM Pavel Bure has assembled an Olympic team in his image, and lest you forget, Nabokov can score on the power play as well.

Getting to the Olympic medal round, and defeating Canada or the Czech Republic for a gold medal [sorry USA] will be an enormous confidence boost for Evgeni Nabokov. It will wipe the slate clean of the tumultuous up and down season that preceded it. San Jose will have to play near .800 hockey down the stretch in order to sneak into a seventh or eighth playoff seed. For this to happen, Nabby needs to get his groove back.

Does "I can't hear you, I have an Olympic gold medal plugging my ear" have a good ring to it?

[Update] Evgeni Malkin: We will pay back to Canadians in Turin - Rushockey.com.

[Update2] Alexander Ovechkin: Don't Worry, Russia! - RussianProspects.com.


Super Bowl of Surfing goes off without a hitch, Mavericks crowns Grant Baker the 2006 Big Wave surfing champion

2006 Mavericks big wave surfing champion Grant Baker

South African Grant Baker won the 2006 Mavericks Big Wave Surfing Championship in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday. The fog and mist cleared early as the sun beat down on the 30-40 foot waves in near perfect surfing conditions.

Helicopters took their turns trying to get as close to the waves as possible, boats filled with spectators bobbed just to the left of the break, and crowds lined every square foot of exposed reef, sand, and rocky cliff to get a glimpse of the action.

Mountain of an event South African drops in for big-wave win - SF Chronicle.

In the closing showdown, Grant Baker got one of his pair of "10s," in the contest. Good time for it, since each rider's top wave score is doubled in the judging at Mavericks. Baker's 10 was won for starting deep behind the peak, slashing all the way across the bowl and face with the fringe of the lip towering over his head, and then linking up the inside sections as the wave continued to jack upward -- until it jacked every possible riding surface out from under him and he fell into foam.

The Chronicle is stepping up big with a photo gallery and video gallery from the event as well.

The official Mavericks website has more video highlights, and Mavsurfer.com has one of the best splash screens I have ever seen. Make sure to visit the Mavsurfer photo gallery from Frank Quirarte. Looking at the live Mavericks webcam, the waves look even bigger today.

Local KTVU Channel 2 also filed video reports from Mavericks. The highlights are available on ktvu.com.

KNBR's Extreme Scene radio show covered Mavericks three days before the competition. Surfer magazine and Surfing magazine offer up mainstream surfing media coverage.

At Mavericks, Thousands See the Best Wipe Out - NY Times.

Surprise winner at Mavericks - SJ Mercury News.

[Update] The full Mavericks video broadcast is available on PPV at MediaZone.com. NBC will air a network re-broadcast of the 2006 Mavericks Big Wave surfing contest on May 13, 2006 at 11AM PT.

[Update2] A press release from Mavericks Surf Ventures:

Giant Waves and Perfect Conditions Set the Stage for the 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest Presented by Verizon Wireless

Grant Baker of South Africa, the First Surfer from Beyond Santa Cruz, Takes the Win

Twenty four world-class surfers, epic waves with 30-40 foot faces, and record attendance of about 50-60,000 spectators marked the return of the third consecutive Mavericks Surf Contest Presented by Verizon Wireless. Grant "Twiggy" Baker of Durban, South Africa took home the win, a $30,000 paycheck and a custom REACTOR Watch. Notably, Baker was one of the final five surfers that were voted into the contest by a poll at www.surfermag.com. Close on his heels, Tyler Smith of Santa Cruz took second and $10,000; Brock Little, of Hawaii, third and $5,000; Matt Ambrose of Pacifica, fourth and $4,000; Grant Washburn of San Francisco, fifth and $3,500; and Evan Slater of San Clemente, sixth and $2,500.

Contest winner, Baker, kicked off the day scoring a perfect 10 in heat three of the first round, a relatively quiet heat compared to heat two, just before, which was non-stop action pitting Tyler Smith, Evan Slater, last year's winner Anthony Tashnick, Josh Loya, Greg Long and Peter Mel against each other. Loya, Smith and Slater advanced to the first heat of the Semis where they met Randy Cone, Russell Smith and Brock Little. Heat two of the Semis saw Grant Baker, Danilo Couto, Matt Ambrose, Grant Washburn, Ryan Seelbach and Zach Wormhoudt battle it out.

In the final, the six highest scoring surfers again battled it out on longer, cleaner sets. Solid rides continued with a bit of a lull in the final two-thirds of the hour-long heat. With just minutes left, Smith made one final hit on a huge, gorgeous wave to make his case for the win, but was unable to surpass Baker.

The buzz of the day was the perfection of the wave conditions and the consistency of which they came in. All day they kept firing and continued getting bigger and cleaner. "The weather could not have been better, it was a perfect day. You couldn't script it that well," said contest founder, surf legend and board shaper Jeff Clark.

The field of surfers demonstrated a knowledge and respect for the Mavericks wave making for an outstanding contest. Additionally, this year's winner Grant Baker, also received the especially significant Jay Moriarty Award and large praises from Clark. "Grant 'Twiggy' Baker, as he is called, surfed with a great sense of spirit and enthusiasm today. It was beautiful to watch the energy that he had while surfing," quipped Clark.

2006 Contestants:

Anthony Tashnick, Greg Long, Tyler Smith, Zach Wormhoudt, Shane Desmond, Matt Ambrose, Brock Little, Ryan Seelbach, Ryan Augenstein, Evan Slater, Eraldo Gueiros, Shawn Rhodes, Randy Cone, Grant Washburn, Darryl Virostko, Kenny Collins, Peter Mel, Nathan Fletcher, Mike Gerhardt, Grant Baker, Josh Loya, Danilo Couto, Russell Smith and Alex Martins.


Calgary downs San Jose 4-3, sixth Sharks loss in last 7 games

Power play goals by Daymond Langkow and Chuck Kobasew, combined with even strength goals by Chris Simon and Matthew Lombardi, were enough to give the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win over San Jose Monday night.

Patrick Marleau opened the scoring for San Jose in the first period rifling a power play goal from the top of the slot on a 5-on-3. Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo [PP] scored late in the third, but the Sharks third period comeback attempt fell short. Recent Cleveland Baron callup Matt Carkner registered the first NHL assist of his career. Miikka Kiprusoff [27-14-0] made 28 saves on 31 shots to earn the win.

Calgary sits in 5th place in the West, 2 points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers. The Sharks sixth loss in seven games has dropped then to 12th place in the West, 9 points behind 7th place Los Angeles, and 8 points behind last playoff seed Colorado.

A few rough quotes of local sportscasters on the Sharks loss:

KTVU2 - Mark Ibanez: If this is such a great hockey team, why aren't they winning? Fingers are starting to be pointed at the coaching staff.

Why aren't they winning? The Sharks do not have three lines who can consistently score like last season, a veteran sniper or power forward needs to be brought in to provide offense along with Marleau on the second line, offensive production from the blueline has been lacking, the loss of Rathje and Stuart on the blueline is a hit defensively, Nabokov and Toskala both tried to play through injuries that may not have fully healed...

Bottom line: The losing streaks earlier in the season demand a winning pace now that the Sharks have not been able to maintain.

KRON4 - Gary Radnich: You can talk all you want about the playoffs. With only 8 teams making it, it is not going to happen.

The Sharks impressive record after the Joe Thornton trade netted them one overall point in the Western Conference playoff standings. All of the remaining games are against Western Conference opponents. Gaining 9 points in the final 29 games against Conference rivals will be difficult.

KGO7 - Larry Beil: Looks like roadkill on the ice.

Interesting juxtaposition with video of former Sharks and current Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter picking up debris off the ice after an intermission break. The former ESPN sports anchor dropped his trademark, "with authority", in an earlier segment. Would have made me laugh if he said Sutter picked up the debris off the ice "with authority".

KNTV11's Daryl Hawks mentioned that the Calgary Flames were winless for the last five years when visiting the HP Pavilion in San Jose during the regular season. Of course, Calgary won three straight road playoff games in San Jose to help them advance to the Stanley Cup finals, which they lost in a seven game final to Tampa Bay.

Video highlights of Lombardi and Cheechoo's third period goals, and a game recap are available on OLNTV.com.

The SF Chronicle reports that Kippers Eats Up The Sharks. The SJ Mercury notes that the Sharks have lost all three on crucial homestand.

[Update] Langfeld finds home at the site of past successes - Boston Herald.

[Update2] Forward thinking - Sportsnet.ca.

With another full week of NHL games before the Olympics, Hockey Canada has decided to be proactive in the event there is an injury to another player, this time a forward.

Sportsnet.ca -- Team Canada now has two short lists.

Sportsnet has learned Sidney Crosby, Patrick Marleau, Paul Kariya and Alex Tanguay are on standby as potential injury replacements for Canada's men's Olympic hockey team headed to Torino this month.


Four former NFL all-pros and 1 NFL cheerleader visit troops in Iraq during Superbowl week

Nick Lowery is chronicling the travel of 4 former NFL all-pros [Christian Okoye, Bryan Cox, Keith Byars, and Nick Lowery] and 1 NFL cheerleader [Bonnie Jill Laflin] to visit the troops during the Super Bowl for USA Today.

Why are they going?

People will ask, why are four former NFL all-pros, Christian Okoye, Bryan Cox, Keith Byars and myself — and an all-pro cheerleader, Bonnie Jill Laflin — heading to Iraq, the most dangerous place on earth right now, some might say? It's an easy answer for all of us, I think — because a couple hundred thousand people are laying their lives on the line 10,000 miles from home, and we can take one week of our lives to help them feel a little more appreciated.

The accounts and stories are brief, but the sacrifice is real and worthy of recognition.

You can support them by visiting the Christian Okoye Foundation, or the Keith Byars Pro Foundation, listening to The Drive on FOX with Chris Myers and Bryan Cox, visiting Bonnie Jill Laflin's official site, or reading Nick Lowery's Iraq journal on USA Today.

Nick Lowery also hosts a national sports talk show on Sirius called Headgames Radio. You can find audio clips of his recent guests and contact Lowery at headgamesradio.com.

[Update] Also thanks to Hammerhead Booster Club members Steve Groniga and Dave Dunn who served or are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. The Hammerhead Booster Club is the official booster club of the San Jose Sharks.

More here, here, and here.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll Released For Feb. 6-12

A press release from USAhockey.com:

University of Minnesota Reaches No. 1 On USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll

This Week's Top-15 Match-Ups

Friday, February 10
No. 14 Providence @ No. 3 Boston College
No. 12 Maine @ No. 10 Vermont

Saturday, February 11
No. 12 Maine @ No. 10 Vermont

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The University of Minnesota moved up one spot to No. 1 on this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll. The Golden Gophers have won 11 of their last 12 games, and garnered 24-of-34 first-place votes.

Boston University made the largest jump on the poll, moving up four spots to No. 6 following a win over the University of Massachusetts Lowell last weekend. Meanwhile, Cornell University climbed into a tie for fourth after sweeping a home-and-home series with Colgate University.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 11th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll -- #18

(first-place votes in parentheses, Last Week, Record, Weeks In Top 15)

1. University of Minnesota, 500 (24), 2, 18-6-4, 18
2. Miami (Ohio) University, 478 (10), 1, 20-5-4, 14
3. Boston College, 410, 3, 17-6-2, 18
T-4. Cornell University, 408, 5, 16-4-3, 18
T-4. University of Wisconsin, 408, 4, 19-7-2, 18
6. Boston University, 303, 10, 15-8-2, 8
7. University of Michigan, 289, 6, 16-10-3, 18
8. Colorado College, 264, 7, 18-11-1, 18
9. University of Denver, 204, 12, 16-10-2, 15
10. University of Vermont, 155, 11, 17-8-3, 16
11. University of North Dakota, 152, 13, 18-13-1, 18
12. University of Maine, 140, 8, 18-10-0, 18
13. Michigan State University, 135, 14, 16-10-7, 9
14. Providence College, 117, 9, 14-10-2, 7
15. University of New Hampshire, 44, 15, 14-10-4, 17

Others receiving votes: Harvard University, 27; St. Cloud State University, 18; University of Nebraska Omaha, 12; College of the Holy Cross, 9; Colgate University, 4; St. Lawrence University, 2; The Ohio State University, 1.


Green Light for 2006 Mavericks Big Wave Surfing Contest

An email from Mavericks Surf Ventures reports that the contest is on for Tuesday, February 7th:

ITS ON! 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest presented by Verizon Wireless Has Been Called!

It’s On! Tuesday! Half Moon Bay!

Jeff has officially made the call. IT'S ON for this Tuesday. (Feb 7th)

There are still a few spots left on the bus (from SF to HMB) and on one of the boats where you can get up close to the line up. Email Kim at kim@maverickssurf.com or call the office phone at 415.462.6200 ASAP if you’d like to sign up. If you are lucky enough to make it to Half Moon Bay on Tuesday, you have three options:

1) you can watch the contest from the beach.
2) you can watch from one of the boats [$$].
3) *new this year* - watch the streaming video of the live web cast on the 9’ x 12’ video screen at the trailhead entrance.

If you are one of the unlucky ones and can't actually get to the beach, watch the same live stream broadcast here.

Approximate Schedule of Events:

8:00 a.m. – First Round Begins (four heats of six)
11:30 a.m. – Semi – Final Heats Begin
After Semis Done - Bag of Toys play on Hard Rock Bandstage

1:30 p.m. – Final Begins
After Final Heats Done - The Mermen play on Hard Rock Bandstage

3:00 p.m. – Awards Ceremony (on beach)
4:00 p.m. – Press Conference at the Hard Rock Stage

Watch the official website for event photos, post party pics, videos and more.

Best wishes to everyone.

--Mavericks Surf Ventures Team

San Jose Sharks year by year attendance figures to date

Jen from Ernst & Young emailed a question about how the attendance in San Jose this season compares to that of previous seasons. Here is a quick breakdown from the 1991-92 NHL season compared to 25 Sharks home dates at HP Pavilion this season.

San Jose Sharks Home Attendance by season


1991-92 | 40 | 435,520 | 10,888
1992-93 | 41* | 452,859 | 11,045
1993-94 | 41* | 680,407 | 16,595
1994-95 | 24 | 412,560 | 17,190
1995-96 | 41 | 704,790 | 17,190
1996-97 | 41 | 714,238 | 17,420
1997-98 | 41 | 701,494 | 17,109
1998-99 | 41* | 693,029 | 16,903
1999-00 | 41 | 708,925 | 17,291
2000-01 | 41 | 716,196 | 17,468
2001-02 | 41 | 714,237 | 17,420
2002-03 | 41 | 711,386 | 17,351
2003-04 | 41 | 649,261 | 15,836
2004-05 | NO SEASON
2005-06 | 25** | 420,760 | 16,830

* Game at neutral site designated as home game not included
** 2005-06 season in progress
[-] 1991-93 Attendance at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA.
[-] 1994-95 Attendance for 24 games due to NHL lockout.
[-] 2004-05 NHL season cancelled due to NHL lockout.

Sources: NHL, ESPN, San Jose Sharks, Kenn Tomasch.

According to the official HP Pavilion of San Jose website, the HP Pavilion opened in September 1993, it was built for $162.5 million [$132.5 million funded by the City of San Jose], and the arena seats 17,496 for hockey.

The current San Jose home attendance percentage is 96.2%, 14th best in the NHL. The current San Jose road attendance percentage is 93.4%, 11th best in the NHL.

The San Jose Sharks sellout against Anaheim on Saturday, February 4th was the first sellout in 6 home games. The Colorado sellout against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday was the 469th consecutive home sellout in Avalanche history. It is the longest sellout record in NHL history dating back to November 9th, 1995.

[Update] Penguins lead NHL in increased attendance during January - Pittsburghpenguins.com.

[Update2] Records, Attendance and Bure - Canucks Corner.

[Update3] Carl Steward of Inside Bay Area sums up the immediacy of the Sharks playoff situation after two stunning losses in a row against Western Conference rivals.

Sharks sinking fast and need to wake up soon - InsideBayArea.com.

SAN JOSE — With five straight home games before the Olympic break that begins a week from today, the San Jose Sharks are currently at a make-or-break point in their strange, unsettling season.

As of this morning, they appear to be breaking. On the heels of a disappointing shootout defeat to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, the Sharks were shut out 2-0 by their Southern California rivals, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, at HP Pavilion on Saturday night with a packed house of 17,496 fans booing their serious disapproval by the end.

What a killer defeat. It was the second time in the past 10 days the Sharks have been blanked at home by Anaheim, and that's certainly not any way to get yourself back in the playoff race, is it? Despite outshooting the visitors 34-24, San Jose couldn't get one past Jean-Sebastien Giguere in a game it really had to have.

Thanks to Kuklas Korner for the link.


Yellow light for Mavericks Big Wave Surfing competition

The 2006 Mavericks Big Wave Surfing Competition has been given a yellow light for this Tuesday or Wednesday depending on surf conditions. Two large swells are approaching the Pacific coast which look promising.

View an animated North Pacific wave model here, or check the official Mavericks website for more information.

A live webcam will be available from surfline.com during the event, but keep in mind the scale of the video being offered. A centimeter equals about 20 feet of wave face on the webcam. NBC will broadcast the Mavericks Surf Competition for the second straight year on May 13th, 2006 [2PM, PT].

No Sharks allowed.


Owen Nolan close to returning to the NHL

Owen Nolan - ©Photofile

According to TSN, agent J.P. Barry stated that Owen Nolan is looking to return to the NHL to offset the losses resulting from his breach of contract grievance with the Toronto Maple Leafs. If Nolan is granted free agent status, Barry said that Nolan may "conditionally" sign with a team until medical clearance was granted, and then a contract could be negotiated.

TSN also reported that Nolan's medical clearance to play was imminent, possibly by the end of the Olympic break on February 28th.

As for the medical issues, Nolan visited Dr. Tony Miniaci at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday and was not medically cleared to play, but that clearance, Barry said, is imminent.

"Owen's (surgically repaired) knee is good, it's strong, there are no problems with the knee," Barry said. "But in order to get medical clearance, he has to strengthen his quadriceps muscles a little bit. It won't take long."

TSN notes that the San Jose Sharks, the Calgary Flames, and the Ottawa Senators are all interested in the power forward's services.

Last week, Ross McKeon of the SF Chronicle quoted Nolan's agent J.P. Barry as saying that the Sharks were the first team Nolan would call after getting medical clearance to play.

Nolan could swim in Shark Tank again - SF Chronicle.

"I'm not talking to anybody because once he is given clearance, there is the matter of the grievance," Barry said by phone from Calgary. "But in the likely scenario that they come to an agreement to hear the case later, one of the first teams we'll contact is the San Jose Sharks"...

Nolan, 33, played eight seasons with the Sharks before being dealt to Toronto late in 2003. He remains San Jose's leader in goals (206), assists (245), points (451) and several other offensive categories. He is working out in the area, Barry said, while living in the South Bay. Nolan is part owner of a restaurant in downtown San Jose.

[Update] Nolan could be ready in next couple of weeks - SJ Mercury News.

[Update2] Sharks set to sign Nabokov, Cheechoo - TSN.

[Update3] The Sharks issued a statement on Nabokov and Cheechoo's contract status:

Despite internet reports that the Sharks are close to signing goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and leading goal scorer Jonathan Cheechoo to contract extensions, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson said today there is no news to announce.

Wilson has previously met with Nabokov’s agent in recent weeks but to date, no deal has been consummated.

However, the Sharks general manager’s track record clearly shows that he prefers being proactive in regards to player contract issues as opposed to waiting until the last possible moment to make key decisions.

Nabokov is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer while Cheechoo would be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2005-06 season.


Cheechoo scores 3rd hat trick of the season in 6-4 win over Anaheim

Jonathan Cheechoo San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks right wing Jonathan Cheechoo scored his third hat trick of the season in a 6-4 win against Pacific Division rival Anaheim on Wednesday night. The win moves the Sharks up one point in the standings, seven points behind 8th seed Edmonton for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Cheechoo has 31 goals and 20 assists in 50 games played this season. At his current scoring pace, Cheechoo is on track to surpass the 50 goal plateau with 51.

Sharks get special win over Ducks - SF Chronicle.

It was all about special teams Wednesday night and the Sharks were a little more special than the Mighty Ducks because San Jose had Jonathan Cheechoo shooting the puck, too. Cheechoo became the first Shark to collect three hat tricks in the same season and San Jose scored three power-play goals to offset two by the Ducks in a 6-4 victory.

The Jonathan Cheechoo file:

#14 - Jonathan Cheechoo

(CHEE-choo) 6'1, 195, 07/15/1980 ( 25 ), Moose Factory, ON, CAN 3rd NHL / 3rd Season

Last Goal: FEB 1, 2006 @ ANA, Last Assist: JAN 28, 2006 @ PHOENIX (1)
How Acquired: Selected by San Jose in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (2nd Round, 29th Overall).


- Has recorded 36 points (24-12=36) in the last 26 games
- 8th in the league in goals (31)
- T-4th in power play goals (14)
- Third on the team in points (31-20=51)
- First on team in shots (190)
- 1st on team in goals (31) and power play goals (14)
- Third on team among forwards in ice time (19:25)
- 1st on team with 16 multi-point games
- Sharks are 12-3-1 when he registers a multi-point game

2005-06 Season Notes:

- Tied a franchise record with his 12-game point streak (10-9=19), that included six multi-point games (Dec. 26 at LA - Jan. 24 vs. LA)
- Registered his third career hat trick vs. Anaheim on Feb 1
- Registered his second career hat trick vs. Columbus on Jan. 5
- Registered his first career hat trick on Dec. 20 against Anaheim, including converting his second career penalty shot
- Recorded at least one point in six consecutive games (4-5=9) from Oct 21 - Nov. 2
- Posted three consecutive multi-point games (3-3=6) from Nov. 26 - Nov. 29
- Recorded two assists to register his first multi-point game of the season against Columbus on 10/12/05.
- Scored the Sharks first game-winning goal of the season at St. Louis on 10/8/05.

2004-05 Season Notes:

- Joined HV71 (Swedish Elite League) in late December posting five goals in 20 games. Scored 2 goals in his HV71 debut on December 28th.

2003-04 Season Notes:

- Posted career highs in points (47 — T-3rd on Sharks in scoring), goals (28 — shared team lead with Marleau) and assists (19)
- T-4th overall in NHL and 1st on Sharks with 9 GW goals
- Posted 4 assists for Western Conference Team at the NHL YoungStars Game on Feb. 7 in 7-3 win as part of NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Paul
- Scored highlight reel, stick between-the-legs goal
against Colorado in Game Two of WCSF at HP Pavilion

Cheechoo's hat trick sparks the Sharks - SJ Mercury News.

Sharks All-Time Team Leaders, through the 2003-2004 season - TheFeeder.

[Note] Thanks to M.B. for correcting the Colorado/Edmonton standings error.

[Update] Joe Thornton knows how much Team Canada means to his homeland - NHL.com.

NHL team blogs and podcasts

NHL teams with blogs: Atlanta, Carolina [3], Dallas, Tampa Bay, Vancouver. A few NHL players are contributing journals at their respective websites.

The NHL's Blog Central has a selection of media and celebrity blogs, but the Edmonton Oilers are the lone team with a photoblog online.

NHL teams with podcasts: Anaheim, Atlanta, Calgary, Chicago, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington.

Added team blogs and podcasts to their own sections on the right [scroll down]. Also banished James Mirtle to the media blogs section, which should get a few more listings in the next week or two.

The Hockey Podcast-o-sphere - Sharkspage.

[Update] Interesting stat from Mirtle: The Minnesota Wild win the title of Best Expansion Franchise with a win percentage of 49%, earning a 148-156-55-22 record over 4.6 seasons.

The San Jose Sharks? A 405-523-121-34 record over 13.6 seasons gives the Pacific Division defending champs a 44.6% overall win percentage, good for 6th in the Best Expansion Franchise race. The Sharks lead in the playoff rounds won category with victories over St Louis [4-1, 2004], Colorado [4-2, 2004], Phoenix [4-1, 2002], St Louis [4-3, 2000], Calgary [4-3, 1995], and Detroit [4-3, 1994].

[Update2] The New Jersey Devils posted a comprehensive player tribute page for Scott Stevens prior to his jersey retirement ceremony on Friday, February 3rd.


AHL Allstar Game free streaming broadcast via B2 Networks, CCM Sports and the AHL offering free tickets to an AHL game

Had the link wrong in the post below this one.

The 2006 AHL Allstar Game is being streamed live online from Winnipeg via B2 Networks. The broadcast is free, and it is available on the AHL Allstar Game page.

Team Canada just scored 2 goals against Planet USA to make it 4-1 midway through the second period. Al Montoya and Denis Grebeshkov both did not look good for Planet USA on that last goal.

An email from CCM Sports:

Enjoy Exciting AHL Hockey, Celebrating Excellence Since 1936 For a limited time only, CCM and the American Hockey League are proud to offer a limited number of AHL tickets to select games.

Register, or login, select and confirm the game you want to see, and we'll send you a pair of AHL tickets.


Availability is limited.