Tweet for Gold: The Seven Best NHL Tweets Sent From Sochi

Twitter gave the world a special look at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia—and the view wasn’t always pretty. The Twitter handle @Sochi_Problem documented all of the Olympic’s “whoopsie” moments, from bobsledders locked in elevators to stray dogs in a journalist’s hotel room. But for every Tweet reminding us that it only costs $2.5 billion to land on Mars—and $51 billion for Russia to host the Games—there was @JohnnyGWeir Tweeting pics of his fabulous blazers, @JayOnrait with hilarious commentary on the games, and a handful of NHLers-turned-Olympians flexing their social media skills.

Here are the seven funniest—and most adorable—Tweets from Olympic hockey players

7. Patrick Sharp, @10PSharp, Chicago Blackhawks, Team Canada

Arguably the cutest Tweet on this list, Chicago’s Patrick Sharp shared this photo of himself and his adorable daughter on Instagram before heading to Sochi. Like father, like daughter, complete with matching ponytails—you can’t find Tweets more awwwww-inducing than this.

Patrick Sharp and his adorable daughter sport matching ponytails.

Patrick Sharp and his adorable daughter sport matching ponytails.


6. Paul Stastny, @PaulyWalnuts26, Colorado Avalanche, Team USA

Sochi’s many stray dogs struck a chord with Olympic athletes. But before the world got emotional over photos of Silver Medal freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy literally hugging an armful of homeless Russian dogs, Paul Stastny was pampering a pooch of his own. Before departing for Sochi, Paul and his puppy Copenhagen modeled USA-themed Sportiqe t-shirts. Copenhagen should consider a career in modeling.

Paul Stastny and his puppy Copenhagen test out modeling careers.

Paul Stastny and his puppy Copenhagen test out modeling careers.

5. Michael Grabner, @grabs40, New York Islanders, Team Austria

Michael Grabner added his voice to the many congratulating Team USA’s TJ Oshie on his stellar shootout performance against Russia. Helping out fellow athletes… this counts as Olympic spirit, right?

Michael Grabner congratulates TJ Oshie on a job well done in Sochi.

Michael Grabner congratulates TJ Oshie on a job well done in Sochi.

4. Erik Karlsson, @ErikKarlsson65, Ottawa Senators, Team Sweden

Apparently, Team Sweden is a fan of traveling by bicycle (see Marcus Johansson’s Tweet for further evidence of this). But with a nicknamed like King Henrik, you wouldn’t expect New York Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist to peddle himself around Sochi, would you?

Henrik Lundqvist hitches a ride on the back of a bike in Sochi.

Henrik Lundqvist hitches a ride on the back of a bike in Sochi.

3. Marcus Johansson, @mjohansson90, Washington Capitals, Team Sweden

The Olympic Village in Sochi is sprawling. So, what better way to get around than by bicycle? Marcus Johansson Tweeted out a photo of himself and Washington Capitals’ center Nicklas Backstrom in what appears to be a very well-dressed biker gang.

A Swedish biker gang in Sochi.

A Swedish biker gang in Sochi.

2. John Carlson, @JohnCarlson74, Washington Capitals, Team USA

Usain Bolt recently admitted to eating an estimated 1,000 McDonald Chicken McNuggets while competing in the Beijing Olympics. While on his 100 McNuggets-a-day diet, Bolt managed to win three gold medals. With this in mind, we shouldn’t be too concerned that John Carlson has decided to carb-o-load for the Olympics with some American-themed doughnuts, courtesy of the Phoenix Coyotes’ center Jeff Halpern.

John Carlson and American-themed donuts.

John Carlson and American-themed donuts.

1. Roberto Luongo, @strombone1, Vancouver Canucks, Team Canada

Perpetuating the reputation of goaltenders being a teeny bit peculiar, Roberto Luongo is one of the funniest Tweeters in the League. Tweeting under the pseudonym Strombone, you can check out his 26 best Tweets in 2013 over at Pass it to Bulis (Luongo’s Tweets are truly worth a browse). What’s better than a Gold Medal? A very Canadian hat, according to Luongo. The Canucks backstop celebrated Canada’s Gold Medal win with an ear-to-ear smile, a gold medal around his neck, and cheeky Tweet about the Far North’s Closing Ceremony ensemble.

Roberto Luongo sporting Team Canada's fashionable Closing Ceremony outfit.

Roberto Luongo sporting Team Canada’s fashionable Closing Ceremony outfit.

Annie Erling Gofus writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

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Photos: Adirondack Phantoms End Hershey Bears Six Game Win Streak

The Hershey Bear’s six-game winning streak was brought to an abrupt halt on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, when they dropped 4-1 to the Adirondack Phantoms. The two hockey clubs faced off on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA—home to the Phantoms NHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Flyers. Forward Matt Watkins buried what would be the Hershey Bears sole goal late in the first period. Coming off a three-game losing streak, Phantoms goaltender Cal Heeter stopped 27 of the Bears’ 28 shots on goal. Tyler Brown, Tye McGinn, Ben Holmstrom, and Jason Akeson were the four Adirondack players to light the lamp at Saturday’ game in Philly.

Click through the slideshow to check out photographs from Saturday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Annie Erling Gofus writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

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10 Longest Suspensions In NHL History

Hockey in synonymous with hard hits and rough play, but the National Hockey League won’t hesitate to punish players who take the violence too far. From a life ban to a 15-game suspension, here are the 10 longest suspensions in NHL history.

Tyson Strachan of the Hershey Bears fights with a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins player in Hershey, PA. (Annie Erling Gofus)

Tyson Strachan of the Hershey Bears fights with a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins player in Hershey, PA. (Annie Erling Gofus)

10. In 1955, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard of the Montreal Canadiens knocked out linesman Cliff Thompson. Habs fans protested the 15-game suspension by engaging in what would be known as The Richard Riot. This violent riot resulted in $100,000 in damage, 37 injuries and 100 arrests.

9. As Pierre Turgeon celebrated a goal during a 1993 game, Washington Capitals star Dale Hunter violently checked Turgeon. This illegal hit resulted in a 21-game suspension.

8. After leaving the penalty box to verbally and physically abuse officials in 2000, Gordie Dwyer of the Tampa Bay Lightning received a 23-game suspension. This altercation occurred during a pre-season game versus the Washington Capitals and resulted in a bench-clearing brawl.

7. In the final moments of a game against the Vancouver Canucks, Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins hit Donald Brashear in the head with his stick. McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon, was suspended for 23 games and never returned to the NHL.

6. Hits in the head are not tolerated by the NHL, and such a hit by Philadelphia Flyers’ Jesse Boulerice resulted in a 25-game suspension in 2007. This enforcer was also on the receiving end of violent hits throughout his hockey career. In 2003, a left hook from Dallas Stars player Aaron Downey broke Boulerice’s jaw and gave him a concussion.

5. A 25-game suspension was handed down to Phoenix Coyotes’ Raffi Torres after checking Marian Hossa in the head.

4. After engaging in a stick-swinging match that cracked Ted Greene’s skull, Wayne Maki of the St. Louis Blues was suspended for 30 days in 1969. This lengthy suspension was short compared to the consequences Boston Bruins’ Greene faced: Because of brain damage he sustained during the fight, Greene was forced to sit out the entire 1969-1970season.

3. With two suspensions in the top ten list, Chris Simon proved he had a particularly violent temper. The former New Year Islander received a 25-game suspension for slashing a player in the head, and in the following season was suspended for 30 games for stomping on an opponent’s ankle during a timeout.

2. Russian player Alexander Perezhogin was suspended from the American HockeyLeague for 89 games after slashing an opponent in the head. This vicious attack also resulted in police charges and one year of probation.

1. Billy Coutu of the Boston Bruins became the only player in NHL history to be banned from the league for life. In 1927, Coutu assaulted one ref, tackled another and started a bench-clearing brawl that resulted in his lifetime ban.


Annie Erling Gofus writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

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Nate Schmidt Talks Leaving Minnesota, NHL Goals

Post-game interviews following losses are rarely pleasant. Exhausted players anxious to mourn their defeat away from the cameras and microphones are forced by people like to me to relive an unsuccessful 60 minutes. After watching the Hershey Bears fall 3-2 to the Syracuse Crunch on December 27th, I expected a short, sad interview with a defenseman recently assigned to Hershey from the Washington Capitals. Turns out, Nate Schmidt is an exception to this rule.

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 Annie Erling Gofus

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus)

The 22-year-old Minnesota native has played 29 games with the Washington Capitals this season, tallying 2 goals and 4 assists. After a long stint with the Caps, the 6’0″, 194-pound blueliner has bounced back and forth between Washington and Chocolatetown since mid-December. Most recently, Schmidt was re-assigned to Hershey on January 25th. After three seasons with the University of Minnesota, Schmidt made his professional debut with the Hershey Bears at the end of the 2012-2013 season. The blueliner totalled 12 goals and 62 assists in 96 games as a Golden Gopher.

Although he’s known as a d-man with a penchant for shooting the puck, Schmidt’s most defining trait might be his ever-present smile. And with his trademark grin firmly in place, Schmidt kicked off what was, hands down, the most cheerful and least canned post-game interview I have ever conducted. Read on to see what Nate had to say about Minnesota, his first NHL goal, and teaming up with a former rival.

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus)

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus)

You played three years at the University of Minnesota, what made you decide to leave early?

I was an undrafted free agent, so it was kind of like being recruited for college all over again. I talked to a lot of different teams. I was thinking about (leaving) after my sophomore year, but education was huge and I know my mom would not have been very happy with me. So, I almost finished (school), I think I had about two classes after the semester left. I almost did all four years in three, but we did summer school, we were down there all year. It was kind of time. I think there were three or four of us that all left at the same time. It was kind of like a big group decision.

You were all Juniors?

Yea, I think it was myself, Nick Bjugstad, he’s playing in Florida right now; Erik Haula, he’s playing for the Wild; and Zach Budish, he’s playing in Milwaukee.

Are you happy you made that decision to leave early?

I had an unbelievable time there. I loved it, every second of college I loved. We had a great team, the school is awesome, the college lifestyle obviously (laughs). The guys who play Major Junior in Canada don’t get to experience it. It’s one of those things: I made the decision, I moved on with it, I’m really happy with where I am right now.

What was your time like in Washington?

It was good. It started off kind of slow. It was being a little a nervous at first. Just trying to get out those first game jitters, but the guys are great up there. They really brought me into the team, and (showed me) how the NHL works, and how the game is different from any other level I’ve played at. It was a great experience, and something that I can try to apply here.

(Schmidt scored his first NHL goal on December 7, 2013 against Marek Mazanec of the Nashville Predators.)

What was your first NHL goal like?

Aw, boy. It was, awww… I didn’t do a whole lot (laughs).

You’re not supposed to say that! Take credit for it!

I’ve gotta give the credit where it’s due. Marty Erat made a great play off the face-off, throws a waist-high pass to me and he sucks the guy in and I’m wide open, so all I had to do was shoot it in. And Joel Ward makes a great screen in front of the net–the goalie never really saw it. But the best part was when John Carlson almost put me in the stands after I scored. And then everyone came over with the congratulatory hug and almost threw me into the third world. It was good though.

It must have been pretty surreal in your first year of professional hockey to be able to experience that.

I would never have guessed that this year would have gone the way it has. It’s been a lot of fun.

How are you planning to continue turning heads up here in Hershey?

I’ve just got to get back to my game. The game’s a little different, and you’ve got to adapt your style to the way the game’s played…. I’m trying to hone in more on my skills I haven’t worked on in the last couple months. I’m trying to be as complete as a player as possible.

Tonight, you were on the ice pretty often with Chay Genoway, who is a University of North Dakota alum. Is there any kind of rivalry between the two of you?

He brought it up before the game! He brought up this bad chemistry right before the game started (laughs). He said, “I can’t believe this, I’m playing with…” I don’t know if it was “a bleepin’ Gopher” or what he said, I’m not really positive, but it was along those lines (laughs). He said it with a smile, I knew he was joking. But you know, it hurt a little bit.

He’s got lots of attitude.

He does, I’m telling you!

I’m glad you were able to put your rivalry aside for tonight.

He’s a great guy and I like him. (UND hockey players) are not as all bad as we think they are.

A Knight in Padded Armour: Profile of Calgary Flames Prospect Corban Knight

If one were to ask the average American grandmother to describe a hockey player she might say, “big, bruised and mean.” While big and bruised might be accurate, Abbotsford Heat centre and Flames prospect Corban Knight takes the thuggish stereotype and turns it on its head. With a strong connection to family, deep roots in Canada and a pure-and-simple love for the game, it’s tough to find a more passionate player and sincerely nice athlete than Knight.

Like so many professional players before him, Corban Knight, 23, learned to skate as soon as he was steady on his feet. Growing up in a small Canadian town, he first strapped on skates with his parents and five siblings at the outdoor rink (like any good Canadian boy). And while these early memories are fuzzy, he can vividly describe what it was like growing up with hockey in Canada.

“For me growing up every chance I could get I was playing, whether it be street hockey or on the pond or hand hockey in the house hallway. I was just always finding ways to play hockey. I think just the fact that you’re in Canada… from a young age you learn about the game. You grow up with it. Having a love for the game and learning a lot about it, too because you’re always playing.”

At 6’2”, 200 pounds, Knight sizes up nicely against the average NHL player who stands 6’1.3” and weighs 203.7 pounds. But measuring in at approximately 5’3” at age 14, Corban’s size worked against him as he was overlooked by Major Junior teams. After Midget Hockey, Corban played Junior A with the Okotoks Oilers—a team just down the road from his family in High River, Alberta and with connections to his dream school, the University of North Dakota.

“My mom always pressured education with us… The fact that I can go to college, get a degree and also play really good hockey appealed to me,” Corban explained. “I knew I wanted to go to college and specifically North Dakota. And (the Okotoks Oilers) had had a couple players go there before me, so it was almost like they had a pipeline, connections to the coaches. And I thought it would really help my chances with UND.”

Almost five years later, Corban still remembers the exact day he committed to UND—January 7, 2009. Over his four years in North Dakota, Knight left his mark as the 27th highest scorer in UND’s history with 146 points (52 goals, 94 assists) in 161 games, as a record-setting face-off winner and as a Hobey Baker Memorial Award Top 10 finalist. Not every player sees four years of college hockey through to the end—some follow the bright lights to a professional career early. But he doesn’t regret his decision to stay in Grand Forks.

“It could change in 20 years, but right now staying (at UND) for all four years has been the best decision of my life… Grand Forks and UND is such a special place that, for me, to leave early just didn’t make sense.”

Originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Knight assumed he would start his professional hockey career on the sandy beaches of The Sunshine State. But nothing is certain in the life of an athlete:

“My agent called me one day and said, ‘Calgary is really interested…’ So, I met with the management and I really had a good feeling about it. They all seemed like great guys and it just seemed like a good fit for me. So, the trade happened and it was pretty special that I got traded to basically my hometown.”

In June 2013, Corban was traded to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a fourth-round draft selection in the 2013 NHL Draft. The 4,644 km jump from Florida to Alberta was a happy one for Knight:

“Growing up, I was around the Flames. Everyone in my part of the country just bleeds for that team. It was a pretty surreal experience that I was getting traded to a team like that. Even with their farm team here in Abbotsford, just the fact that I was closer to home and in Canada is pretty special to me. My mom was pretty happy that’s for sure.”

Knight wrapped up a successful college hockey career in the spring of 2013, and trained hard all summer in preparation for the Flames’ training camps. After a successful run at development camp, Knight approached September eager to fight for a spot on Calgary’s roster. Just four days before NHL roster submissions were due, Corban was assigned to Calgary’s AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.

“Obviously, when it didn’t work out and they sent me down here to Abbotsford, it was tough at first just because you’re so close to achieving one of your childhood dreams of playing in the NHL. But at the same time, you realize that this is a process and I just needed to come down here and work on my game… At first it’s disappointing, I tried to focus in on the positives and really focus on getting better down here.”

Nestled in the mountains about an hour east of Vancouver, Abbotsford is a scenic place to kick-off a professional hockey career. Knight has enjoyed a strong start to his first pro season, tallying 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists) in 39 games. Outside of the rink, he has also settled into a comfortable (and dare we say, ironic) living situation, sharing an apartment with two teammates, including current linemate and former rival, Ben Hanowski.

“Ben Hanowski played at St. Cloud State when I was at North Dakota. So for four years we were hated rivals and now we’re living together and playing on the same line.”

Reflecting on his career so far, Knight offered some advice to young players with professional aspirations.

“You’ve gotta work hard. There are so many ups and downs in hockey. For me, I got cut from a couple teams. At the time maybe you’re like, well, maybe my career is over and maybe I should pack it in and look at something else. That’s the great thing about hockey, there are always so many chances to play and to make something out of yourself… As long as you work hard, there’s a lot of potential to do pretty great things out there.”

And why did Corban Knight keep playing after being cut from teams and overlooked by scouts as a teenager because of his size? It’s simple.

“Just the love of the game. Hockey is such a huge part of my life. And I love it so much that it was something that I just didn’t want to quit. I knew that if I just kept working hard that good things would happen.”


Originally published at

Annie Erling Gofus writes for . Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

Warroad Drops the Gloves for Hockeytown, USA Title

Warroadians like to say that their small Minnesota town is known for three things: Walleye, windows and hockey. Walleye because of its prime location on Lake of the Woods, windows because Marvin Windows and Doors is headquartered there and hockey because of sheer numbers.

With a population of 1,781 in 2010, Warroad, Minnesota has produced a surprising number of professional and Olympic hockey players. With nine hometown kids skating in the big leagues over the years, Warroad is slowly reclaiming the title “Hockeytown, USA” from Detroit. While the Motor City earned this nickname years ago due to its habit of winning Stanley Cup championships, Warroad’s right to the moniker has been earned through its community’s rich hockey tradition.

Christian Brothers Hockey Sticks Warroad MN

Roger, left, and Bill (Billy) Christian outside their Christian Bros. hockey stick factory in Warroad, Minn., August 1988. Star Tribune staff photo.

Sure, the Detroit Red Wings’ 11 Stanley Cup wins may carry more weight than Warroad’s six high school state championship titles in the past 20 years, and a four-time National Champ—now defunct—amateur American Senior ice hockey team. But considering this tiny Minnesota town’s population is 350 times smaller than Detroit, it’s jaw-dropping that Warroad has produced more homegrown Olympians than you can shake a hockey stick at.

Warroad’s hockey pride can be linked back to its first Olympic athlete, Gordon Christian, who won a silver medal playing for the U.S. at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Italy. This was just the start of the Christian family’s strong hockey-influence on Warroad. In 1960, brothers Bill and Roger Christian won Olympic gold medals playing hockey for the U.S., and 20 years later, Dave Christian was a member of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team that brought home gold.

With gold medals earning them rock star status back home in Minnesota, Bill and Roger Christian, along with Hal Bakke, founded the Christian Brothers Hockey Company based in Warroad. The sons of a carpenter, the Christians began producing hockey sticks in 1964 using the slogan “Hockey Sticks Made by Hockey Players.” The company’s big break came in 1980 after Bill’s son Dave won Olympic gold as part of the “Miracle on Ice” team.

Thanks to free publicity from members of the U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, sales increased approximately 40%, but by the mid-’80s, the Christian Brothers began to feel the squeeze of competition from Easton—a baseball bat manufacturer that expanded into hockey sticks. With some big-name endorsements and a profit margin of more than 30%, Easton slowly pulled ahead of the Christian Brothers, eventually leaving them in the dust. As hockey players shifted away from wooden sticks, the Christian Brothers could no longer compete and finally shuttered their factory in 2003.

After its factory, name and trademarks changed hands several times, the Christian Brothers’ tradition of made-in-America hockey sticks found new life in 2012 with BOA Athletics. After purchasing the Christian Brothers’ manufacturing equipment, Boa has continued producing high-quality hockey sticks, including the classic wooden sticks made famous by the Warroad Olympians. Operating alongside BOA, are Eleven Hockey and Olympus Athletics—founded by Warroad native Jay Fisher and James Marvin, Eleven Hockey began as a hockey R & D lab and private labeling company before morphing into Olympus, an online sporting goods retailer.

Hockey tradition in Warroad may have started with the Christian Brothers’ American-made hockey sticks, but it doesn’t end there. Since 1980, Warroad has produced four NHL players and two more Olympic silver medal-winning hockey players. Henry Boucha is a former NHL player and 1972 Winter Olympic Silver Medalist; Alan Hangsleben is a former NHL player; T.J. Oshie is a current NHL player for the St. Louis Blues; Gisele Marvin is a current member of the United States national women’s ice hockey team and 2010 Olympic silver medalist; Brock Nelson is a current NHL player with the New York Islanders.

During 2014’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Warroad has the opportunity to be the only town in America to be represented on both the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey teams. Gisèle “Gigi” Marvin will be skating for the Red, White and Blue at the Olympics for the second time, while T.J. Oshie is in the running for his first Olympic appearance.

If anyone is keeping count—and many Warroadians most likely are—the fact that this small community of 1,781 has produced 9 NHL and Olympic-level hockey players over the past 50 years is amazing. Not to mention the dozens of Warroadians who have played outstanding hockey at other levels, and the local, made-in-America hockey companies Warroad has supported over the years. No, there isn’t something in the water. This is simply a small Minnesota town absolutely steeped in hockey tradition and culture.

Step aside, Detroit. Warroad, Minnesota is here to claim its title: Hockeytown, USA.

Annie Erling Gofus writes for Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her

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Originally Published to

Ultimate Hockey Network

Hershey Bears Come Out of Hibernation for Shootout Win

Two hat tricks in one night is exceptionally rare in the hockey world, but the GIANT Center was treated to just that—or, at least a version of that—on Wednesday night. In addition to Evan Rankin’s three goals for the Syracuse Crunch, the Gordie Howe Hat Trick’s namesake was in attendance for Hershey’s 4-3 win over Syracuse.

Mr. Hockey himself witnessed the Crunch’s early lead over the Bears, and looked on as Hershey brought a victory home in an 11-round shootout. When told about Howe’s presence at the game Coach Mike Haviland said:

“That’s pretty cool. Certainly one of the best to player to ever play the game, so that’s pretty special.”

Hershey Bears Alternate Captain Tyson Strachan vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey Bears Alternate Captain Tyson Strachan vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Slow Start Ends in Shootout Win for Hershey

After ‘Cuse lit the lamp 31 seconds into the first period, Hershey trailed until the third when, with 3:02 left on the clock, Brandon Segal’s wraparound goal tied it up with help from David Kolomatis and Nate Schmidt. After an unsuccessful overtime, Hershey and Syracuse faced off in a shootout that ran 11 rounds.

Ryan Stoa’s goal kicked things off, and was followed by Stan Galiev sinking one past Kristers Gudlevskis. Rankin and Cedric Paquette scored in the second and third rounds to tie the shootout. After seven rounds of shooters were denied by David Leggio and Gudlevskis,  John Mitchell scored in the eleventh round prompting the Bears to empty their bench for an on-ice celebration.

Hat Trick for Syracuse as Gordie Howe Looks On

Hershey’s win at home can’t overshadow Rankin’s extraordinary showing. After burying a shot 31 seconds in, the Syracuse ringwinger followed up with a second lamp-lighter in the first period and rounded off his hat trick 7:49 into the second period. Unfortunately for the visiting player, not a single hat was thrown on the ice in celebration. But perhaps tallying three goals in two periods with the legendary inventor of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick as witness was good enough.

Gordie Howe is a retired Canadian hockey player famous for his scoring, strength and lengthy career. Howe is the only NHL player whose career stretched between five decades, from the 1940s to the 1980s. A four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, he won six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player and six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer. A Gordie Howe Hat Trick is achieved when a player scores a goal, records an assist and fights all in one game. It’s named after the infamous Howe who recorded his first namesake hat trick on December 22, 1920.

Howe attended Wednesday’s game with his son Mark Howe, a scout for the Detroit Red Wings. Discussing Howe’s presence at the GIANT Center added a level of glee to  post-game interviews.

“It’s pretty amazing that he’s still coming to all these games,” Segal commented with a smile.

Hershey Bears Julien Brouillette vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey Bears Julien Brouillette vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey witnessed an outstanding performance from the Nicolas Deschamps-Ryan Stoa-Segal line combination on Wednesday night.

“They cycle, they support each other down low, they hold onto it and they attack the net,” Coach Haviland described the trio. “They’re playing with confidence and they’ve been huge for us.”

“We’ve got some good chemistry going,” Segal said of his linemates. “We moved the puck really well down low. Just a matter of getting in there.”

Hershey Bears' Nate Schmidt and Goaltender David Leggio vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey Bears’ Nate Schmidt and Goaltender David Leggio vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

“This game is a lot about confidence.” – Coach Haviland

After their win over Syracuse, the Bears are feeling confident going into this weekend’s match-up against the Worcester Sharks.

“The last couple games we certainly have showed a lot of character coming back, and when we play the way we know how to play, we can hem some teams in,” Coach Haviland explained. “When everybody’s on board and really doing the right things and playing the right way, we’re a tough team to defend in the offensive end.”

The Bears improve to 11-9-2-3 after Wednesday’s win over the Syracuse Crunch. Hershey meets the Worcester Sharks at the GIANT Center on Saturday, December 21 at 7:00 PM and on Sunday, December 22 at 5:00 PM.

Annie Erling Gofus writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

Originally posted at

Sour Loss, Sweet Homecoming for Reading’s Cruthers

It’s hard for a losing team to find a lot of positives in a game that ended 7-2, but the one pro on a long list of cons was the return of the Reading Royals’ former captain and all-time leading scorer Ryan Cruthers. Donning purple and white for the second time this season and the first time at home since 2012, Cruthers and his teammates fell to the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday night.

“It’s always hard when you’re down three-nothing early,” Captain Yannick Tifu lamented about the first period. “There’s no excuse. There’s no reason we should have been down three-nothing.”

The Royals left the ice at first intermission out-scored 0-3 and out-shot 4-14. And while the second period saw an uptick in pace against Fort Wayne, this momentum did not follow Reading into the third. After the Komets’ fifth goal lit Reading’s lamp, goaltender Brandon Anderson lost his cool and engaged in the first of three brawls in the last seven minutes of the game. These fights did little to re-charge Reading’s team—the game ended Komets 7 and Reading 2.

“We’re just in a slump,” Tifu told the press after Saturday’s loss. “I told the guys we just need to turn the page and be ready to work Monday morning.”

Reading Royals Forward T.J. Syner  faces the Wheeling Nailers in late November 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The Return of a Familiar Face

“We’ve got 14 guys that initially started on our roster that are out,” Coach Larry Courville stated. Plenty of new names have been appearing on the Royals’ roster since the start of the season. In his second game with Reading, Degon dropped the gloves for his new team on Saturday, and Goalie Anderson was in the net for only the 8th time this season.

Among the new faces on the bench was a familiar one for fans at Santander Arena. Former Captain and all-time leading scorer Ryan Cruthers represented the Purple and White at home for the first time since he was traded to the Alaska Aces in March 2012 for Ethan Cox and future considerations.

“Well, you know he’s all-time leading scorer. We were forced to trade him because we weren’t great and he had some value within the league and we ended up trading him for two guys,” explained Coach Courville. “We brought him back for some short numbers… He’s got 5 points in two games. He’s gotta be pretty happy with his performance.”

Reading Royals Ryan Cruthers (Annie Erling Gofus)

Reading Royals Ryan Cruthers (Annie Erling Gofus)

Since leaving Reading, Cruthers finished the 2011-2012 season with the Aces and then moved on to the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. Most recently, he has been the Director of Hockey at the Body Zone Sports and Wellness Complex in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania where he manages over 85 kids in the Junior Royals hockey program. After working at what Coach Courville described as “basically a desk job” for the last six months, Cruthers has made a smooth transition back onto the ice.

“It was great, there was a great response. I know a lot kids who play for me are here, family is here, so it was great to be back,” Cruthers said.

Cruthers went on to explain, “Larry called me on Friday. We had talked all summer long, we knew this was probably going to happen, but we were waiting for the right time. And then he called me on Friday, I was away coaching and I told him I’d be there on Monday.”

When asked if his spot on Reading’s roster would last, Cruthers responded, “We’re taking it a day at a time right now.”

The all-time leading scorer for the Royals registered 167 points and 192 penalty minutes in 159 regular season games over three seasons (2009-12). Prior to turning pro, Cruthers split an impressive collegiate career between West Point and Robert Morris University. Before transferring to Robert Morris University, Cruthers was named West Point’s most Outstanding Freshman in 2004 after leading the team in scoring. He was named a captain as a senior at Robert Morris, and finished the season as a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award.

The Fort Wayne Komets 7-2 win over the Reading Royals was sour for a team struggling to maintain a steady roster, but it didn’t make Ryan Cruthers’s homecoming any less sweet.

“Hockey is a fun sport,” Cruthers said with a smile. “It was an easy transition. It was like I never left, to be honest.”

Originally published at

Annie Erling Gofus also writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

High Heels on Ice: The Tale of a Female Hockey Writer

If this was Cosmo or Glamour, I’d start my profile of Erica Koup by describing what she wore to our interview. I’d write about her glamorous retro-style sunglasses and how effortlessly beautiful her long, curled locks were. I’d gush about how sweet and down-to-earth she was as we chatted candidly over salads at a Hummelstown gastropub. And, of course, I’d really focus on the salads, because what woman isn’t just wild about salads?

But this isn’t Cosmo. In fact, this might be the exact opposite of trashy websites that cover celebrity break-ups and bikini bod diet tips. This is a hockey blog, and Erica Koup is its stylishly sweet and whip-smart writer.

On any given weekend night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, you can spot a lone woman in the Bears’ pressbox. Where the NHL scouts end and the bloggers begin sits the founder and author of The Amateur Fan—a blog that focuses on some of Pennsylvania’s finest professional hockey teams. Eyes intently on the ice, scribbling notes and taking breaks only to inform the scout to her left exactly what’s wrong with the Philadelphia Flyers this season, anyone would be shocked to learn this isn’t Erica’s day job.

“I wanted to run for office and be a politician,” the former political science student admits. “I learned about hockey from my full-time job. I worked Hershey Bears games (as a college recruiter). The first game I went to I was like, I can’t believe you’re making me go to this… I had no idea what was going on.”

What began as an annoying job assignment morphed into The Amateur Fan, where Erica has been posting game analysis and opinions for over nine months now. And while falling in love with hockey was easy, finding her place in hockey media wasn’t as simple. As a hockey rookie and a female sports writer, it can be a struggle to gain credibility.

“I think you have to have a lot of guts (to break into the hockey writing field). You need to put yourself out there. And It’s so hard to. Especially as a female,” Erica said. “Because the guys are always thinking they know more than us, because why not? It must come with their genetics that they know more about hockey than females.”

Unfortunately, Erica’s struggle for respect isn’t unique.

Just 50 miles from Hershey, PA is Santander Arena, home to the ECHL’s Reading Royals. Among the standard male media members is Candice Monhollan who is entering her third season covering Royals hockey for various news outlets. With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Candice is a professional sports writer who still faces dubious stares.

“It’s a constant battle being a woman in this field. Just when you think you’ve proved yourself, someone else comes out of the woodwork to attack your credibility,” Candice admitted. “The downside, to be honest, is being a female in such a male-dominated career. In certain leagues, I can’t go into the locker room and even some places (have) to change protocol because I’m around and that shouldn’t be the case.”

Any hockey player will tell you that thick skin is vital in succeeding in this sport. Sometimes you need to let a clean hit roll off your shoulders while on the ice, you need to keep your head up and focus on the game. This is advice a female hockey writer can also learn from.

“The first few times (I published an article), I asked my buddy, can you read this and make sure it makes sense,” Erica recalled. “I’m just nervous to put it out there and be judged by people who maybe know a little more about hockey than me.”

“No one’s ever said you don’t understand hockey, just the English language,” Erica laughed. After posting an article on Reddit, “someone said I used the word ironic wrong.” Thick skin is useful when dealing with critics, but love of the game is far more effective.

To be honest, I invited Erica Koup to lunch in the hopes of delving deep into the painful struggles of a female hockey writer. Instead, I discovered over the course of our three-hour-long meal that Erica has happily embraced the challenges of being a woman in this field, and her hockey obsession may have something to do with it.

“I don’t know anyone else who sparks up a conversation about hockey at the eye doctors,” Erica said with a smile.

Up to three times a week, Erica settles into her assigned seat in the Hershey Bears’ pressbox and takes in her surroundings—the Giant Center’s lively crowd, the banter of fellow writers and the swish of skates on ice. When I asked what her favorite part of the job is, Erica simply replied, “I really like watching the games.” Love of hockey makes sitting in cold arenas for hours so easy, and it makes a career in the sport so desirable.

“I really want to work in the front office somewhere. Maybe community relations for a hockey team,” Erica explained. “If I can still write, I would love to continue writing. I sort of fell into writing. I never saw myself in the media or press category.”

Despite facing occasional negativity, Candice also finds that the pros out-weigh the cons as a female sports writer. “I love being able to get paid to watch sports. It’s one of those jobs where you wake up in the morning and don’t regret having to go to work. I love having the ability to travel and meet so many people and I enjoy above all else getting to write and share with others the unique story of an athlete.”

With The Amateur Fan’s first birthday just around the corner, Erica has plans for her second year of hockey writing—expansion, promotion and maybe a trip up North to hockey’s motherland…?

“Yea, I really do think that Canadians are perfect. I love it,” Erica joked as she described a recent trip to Toronto. “I thought I was going to cross the border and it was going to be like Celine Dion and hockey players everywhere.”

Erica Koup: Fashionista, hockey writer, Canada’s number one. Obviously.

Erica Koup and Annie Erling Gofus in the Reading Royals' press room. (Annie Erling Gofus)

Erica Koup and Annie Erling Gofus in the Reading Royals’ press room. (Annie Erling Gofus)

Five Girlie Questions for a Girl About Hockey:

1. Do you love or hate hockey players’ mustaches during the month of Movember?
“I love them. I admire them from the pressbox. I really want to know who has the best mustache on the Bears team. Jeff Taffe can’t grow hair on his head, but he’s pretty solid in the mustache category. I like the handlebars, I think it’s a flashback to the 70s.

2. What’s your favorite hockey jersey?
“I really like the Reading Royals’ jerseys. I like purple and the lion with the crown. The throwback jersey the Hershey Bears wore—that was a really cool jersey. And I like the Avs’ jersey, I think they have nice colors.”

3. Who is your hockey player crush?
“The reason I became a Flyers fan was not because I knew anything about the Flyers, but because of Zac Rinaldo. Gabriel Landeskog comes in a close second.”

4. Would you rather your boyfriend have Brent Burns no-teeth smile or Steve Downie’s scary red post-Washington Capitals line brawl eyeball?
“Steve Downie. I didn’t see the red eyeball, but I’ve seen the developing black eye. It’s tough.”

5. What are your secrets to staying warm and looking cute at hockey games?
“Pants, nice sweater and heels. I stay pretty warm, but throughout the game it always gets colder.”

6. Puck Bunnies, thoughts?
“I don’t think I’ve run into any puck bunnies. It has to be real, because I hear it’s real, but I don’t have any thoughts on that… If you look cute going to the game, does that qualify you as a puck bunny?”

Annie Erling Gofus also writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at

Originally published at

Golden Goaldtending Can’t Save Hershey Bears In Home Loss for

With the memory of Friday night’s loss still fresh in their minds, the Bears faced the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday for what would turn out to be a repeat performance. Despite incredible goaltending by David Leggio, Hershey fell to the Baby Penguins 4-2.

After a disappointing loss at the Mohegan Sun Arena two nights ago, Hershey looked to improve their home record and welcome the Baby Pens to one of the rowdiest rinks in the AHL.

“(Our home record) is a big concern.” Coach Mike Haviland said after Saturday’s game, “We have to get away from feeling comfortable at home… This building is the best building to play in. When teams come in here they think it’s an amazing thing. There’s 8,500, 10,000 people a night. It’s a great crowd. It’s a beautiful building. Teams are excited to play here. If you’re in the American Hockey League, you’re excited to play here. And we, for some reason, decide that we don’t want to play here. We just want to go through the motions here… We have to make this a tough building to come into.”

The Hershey Bears faced the W-B/Scranton Penguins for the second night in a row on Saturday. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The Bears started Saturday night with zest as defenseman David Kolomatis and alternate captain Jeff Taffe drilled home two goals less than half way through the first period. It also didn’t take long for these teams’ dislike for each other to surface as five players were penalized for fighting and roughing in the first 20 minutes of the game. In a period that saw the home team out-shot 12-7, the Chocolate and White led the Penguins into the first intermission 2-0.

After an action-packed first period, the Bears lost control of the game. Chris Conner, Harry Zolnierczyk and Tom Kuhnhackl of W-B/Scranton all tallied goals in the second period.

“We stopped playing, we stopped moving our feet,” Coach Mike Haviland said of his team. “(The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) work hard, they chip pucks, they play a simple, simple game,” Haviland commented. “They wait for you to make mistakes, they frustrate you.”

Hershey Bears' Tyson Strachan and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' Adam Payerl trade blows in the first period. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Around the 12 minute mark of the third period, defenseman Chay Genoway fired a shot at goalie Jeff Deslauriers that faked out spectators and players alike–the lamp lit, the crowd cheered, but after review it was decided the puck never crossed the red line. Coach Haviland was among the number who thought the goal was good:

“I thought it went in… would have been a nice little break for us.”

With just two minutes left to play, the Penguins hammered the final nail in the coffin with a goal by Andrew Ebbett. A frustrating night for the entire Bears organization, but possibly none more so than goaltender Leggio. Named one of the three stars of Saturday’s game, Leggio’s magic mitts weren’t enough to drag his team back from a 2 goal deficit.

“The goalie makes unbelievable saves. If he wasn’t in there it could have been 6, 7,” Haviland commented on Leggio’s performance. “We have to play better in front of (Leggio). It’s not a goalie issue right now. We don’t have a goalie issue.”

Hershey Bears' Cameron Schilling and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' Harry Zolnierczyk. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

“(The Club) is pulling guys in, we’re pulling guys out, we’re calling guys up now, we’re trying to send messages to guys, we’re benching guys, you’ve got to push buttons.”

Early on Saturday, The Bears announced they had recalled T.J. Syner from the Reading Royals, and the forward made his 2013-2014 Hershey debut that same night. Syner joined Hershey late in the 2011-2012 season after playing four years at the University of Massachusetts where he was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award. He was among the players to make a positive impression on Coach Haviland on Saturday:

“We need speed. He’s been playing outstanding on all the reports we got… I thought he played great tonight. We need more speed in the lineup, we need to get up and get after teams, and I think speed kills. And certainly he and Walker were our best two guys up front tonight. They got up and got after it.”

Hershey dropped to 1-2-1-0 at home, and will meet the Norfolk Admirals at the GIANT Center today at 5pm.

Originally published at