The Detroit Red Wings have been considered a big underdog in this season’s NHL playoffs.
The Red Wings were eliminated from the NHL playoffs on Wednesday night in Chicago. The one-seeded Chicago Blackhawks brought the Wings’ season to an end with an overtime goal in a classic game seven.
Detroit knocked off the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round of the playoffs, a super-talented Ducks team, mind you. This comes as a surprise to most hockey fans, considering the fact that more than a few Red Wings were inactive mostly due to injuries, and the management was forced to call up a plethora of minor league players.
Pavel Datsyuk and the gritty Red Wings know that it doesn’t matter what the media or anyone says, that the real game is played on the ice. They proved just that, outlasting the Ducks to take the series 4-2.
The series that was on the horizon looked almost like it was taken out of a hockey fans’ dream, Red Wings vs. Blackhawks, Original Six matchup, David vs. Goliath, call it what you want, this rivalry series was bound to be a classic.
As expected, the Blackhawks took game one with ease, winning 4-1 at the United Center in Chicago. Ironically, the Red Wings won game two 4-1, evening the series at one, heading back to Detroit. As the series shifted to Detroit, so did the momentum, with the Wings winning back-to-back games in front of the electric “Hockeytown” crowd at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit had a strong hold on the series, being up 3-1, but the star-studded Blackhawks weren’t quite ready for elimination from the playoffs. Though being down two games in the series, the Blackhawks never wavered and did what they were expected and won the next two games, forcing a critical tie-breaker game seven finale in Chicago.
The winner of this game moved on to the Western Conference championship series, one step closer to the Stanley Cup finals. The game started off in boring fashion, aside from a few controversial calls from the referees, and stayed that way throughout all of regulation. This means overtime, a perfect ending to a perfect hockey series. The Blackhawks dominated much of this overtime period and eventually put the game away in a matter of minutes, putting an end to a season of ups and downs for the Wings.
As most of you know, the Red Wings’ playoffs streak is still alive and well, at 22 consecutive seasons. Detroit plans on adding another season to the streak, hoping to be back at full strength for the 2013-14 season.
With the NHL lockout aside, HockeyTown is back! The Red Wings have had a weak start to the season but Wing nuts stick around with high hopes for the men in red.
The Red Wings hold a current record of seven wins and four losses. This places them second in the central division, fifth in the western conference and ninth overall in the league. A fairly solid record, but could be much better.
At Howell High there are a large amount of students passionate about hockey. Each supports their own team but many students stick to Detroit.
“The Wings are having their ups and downs this season. Bertuzzi will be out the next few games because he is a chump. But we will have to see what happens,” senior Ethan Hillier said.
“The wings are looking okay this season. They could be better but they will always have my support. To be completely honest, I have been watching the Boston Bruins more than any other team,” senior Casey Josz said.
Assistant captains Pavel Datskyuk and Niklas Kronwall are alongside team captain Henrik Zetterberg and are trying to lead the team to the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team hasn’t brought home the cup since 2008. Fans are counting on the team to carry the city to a championship.
Although the Detroit Red Wings have the passion and motivation to win the cup, many question if the skill level is there. The Wings just aren’t what they used to be anymore. Yeah, we all remember the “Grind Line” (Joe Kocur, Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper) along with Steve Yzerman and and Brendan Shanahan. Man, were those the glory days for the Detroit Red Wings. Fans would do most anything to have them back. But realizing that fantasizing isn’t progressive, fans are putting their heart and soul into the new line up.
There is potential in this team. Doubted by many and supported by most, the Red Wings will keep driving towards the playoffs and do whatever it takes. If you are looking for a real taste of traditional fanship, take a drive down to Joe Louis arena. If that doesn’t scream tradition, nothing will. Passion for hockey in the D never dies. Michigan has faith in the Wings and that spirit is enough to pull any team through to the cup.
Schedule, Stats and Ticket information can be found at:
Led by senior captain, Casey O’Doherty, the Howell hockey team played one of its most action-packed games of the season so far on Thursday, Jan 10.
Hundreds of Howell and Milford fans showed up at the Hartland Ice Center, home to the Milford Mavericks’ hockey team, to watch a KLAA West battle.
This game started off slow, with a Milford roughing penalty and Howell keeping puck control. Milford’s Alex Anderson scored with about nine minutes remaining in the first period. Within a span of two minutes, Milford scored again on a slick play by All-State captain Evan Wilson, and the Mavericks raced out to a 2-0 lead. Just before the first period came to a close, Connor O’Doherty scored to cut the Mavericks’ lead in half, his brother, Casey, assisted him on the goal. Score at the end of the first period: 2-1 Milford.
Howell started off the second period with a bang. Sophomore Nick Pratt, assisted by Casey O’Doherty, scored to tie the game at two. Pratt stunned the Milford crowd by scoring another time in a span of three minutes, giving Howell the lead, 3-2. It appeared that the Highlanders were beginning to run away with the game when Nick Stanko scored putting Howell up 4-2.
Milford was having none of it, less than a minute later, Anderson scored for a second time, making the score 4-3. The Mavericks scored yet again tying the game up. For the third time in one period, Pratt scored to break the tie and put the Highlanders in the lead. He was assisted by, guess who, Casey O’Doherty. On a magnificent pass from Casey O’Doherty, junior Keifer Roth scored to put the Highlanders up 6-4. Fans were preparing to go to the concession stand as the second period was ending when, Howell scored again to pad their lead at 7-4.
Now, if you’re counting, Casey was involved in four of the seven Highlander scoring plays; pretty impressive considering there was still one more period to play.
The third period was uneventful up until Connor O’Doherty scored and was assisted by his brother. This gave Howell a four-goal lead, 8-4. To cap off a great night for the senior, Casey O’Doherty scored to give Howell the 9-4 lead, and this proved to be the final score.
At the end of the night, Howell hockey played well as a team and came out with a big win. The Milford crowd was silenced as they witnessed the show that Casey put on. It was one of the best games of his season and Howell hockey fans sure hope he continues to play at this level for the rest of the year.
As the NHL lockout continues to run strong, the fans are starting to go insane. The withdraw from NHL hockey has driven fans to watch other leagues. A popular one being the NCAA Hockey league.
Since the lockout started, college hockey instantly started growing a larger fan base causing its popularity to be at an all time high. Instead of Detroit fans waiting to watch the Red Wings, they now turn to popular Division I hockey teams such as the University of Michigan and Northern Michigan University to get their fix of hockey.
Senior David Wade has a positive outlook on the growth of NCAA hockey.
“I think that more people will turn towards college hockey now that the NHL is on lockout,” Wade said.
National broadcasting stations that would usually be airing NHL games now have a larger number of college hockey games planned for broadcast this season. College hockey is usually on the Big Ten Network or smaller broadcast networks. Not many people view these networks. Having NCAA hockey on a national network will have an enormous impact on the sport as more and more NHL fans will slowly become NCAA fans.
Senior Kean Tonak has watched college hockey in the past and is excited about the coverage that is being gained. “I think it’s awesome because I’m going to be able to watch my favorite teams in a more convenient way,” Tonak said.
The buzz about the lockout is slowly dying down as fans realize that they have another form of hockey to turn to. NBC and CBS sport networks are willing to air these programs, so why not watch them? If the NHL is failing to come to an agreement that doesn’t mean fans should go without watching their favorite sport this season.
At this point NHL fans are usually looking towards enjoying the action packed Stanley Cup playoffs at the end of the season. This year they may be forced to point their excitement towards The Frozen Four, the national competition for college hockey. It is taking place in April at the Pittsburg Penguins arena. If you are an avid NHL fan, turning to the NCAA hockey league may be the way to go for this season.
“Since there might not be a Stanley Cup, The Frozen Four is the only thing to turn to. And I am perfectly okay with that,” Wade said.
Teams aren’t playing, conference meetings are quiet and the fans are livid. This is the result of the NHL lockout. The NHL and NHLPA (National Hockey League Player Association) have shut down all games and teams due to the failure to compromise on player contracts. Apparently the sounds of pucks and sticks don’t measure up to the sound of money and wealth to the NHL and NHLPA.
Many of the star players from the NHL, such as Pavel Datsyuk, have already moved to Russian teams because of the league freeze-up. This is doing nothing for the league or players except hurting them. The selfishness from the NHL has reached levels that should never be touched.
Players are extremely passionate about the sport they play, but the hunger for wealth is overriding that. It’s not about the game anymore, and lately, it never really has been. Wealth plays such a big role in these organizations now that they forget about what is most important, playing the game.
While preseason should be started and fans should be getting warmed up for the future season, instead they sit, furious and impatient, waiting for the NHL or NHLPA to wear the pants in the situation, take initiative, and come to a compromise instead of sitting back and letting the league hit the dumpster.
This “lockout” thing isn’t new; it also happened back in the 2004-2005 season, where the NHL and NHLPA pulled the same thing and lost half of its supporters. So it would be said that maybe the organization would learn its lesson as a small child would but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Even though they lost many supporters after that lockout, they gained them back in a blink of an eye, increasing the NHL’s income with ticket earnings and fan purchases. So the fans basically rewarded them with forgiveness in 2004-2005 only to be let down again with another lockout here in 2012. Shows how much the NHL appreciates their fans now doesn’t it.
Hockey teams in the NHL are now making the mistake of comparing themselves to the bigger sports in America such as the MLB and NFL. When the NHL players see how these sports are treated they are said to become a bit greedy with pay, when they are much smaller on the scale of popularity.
The NFL has a vast amount of broadcasting while the NHL only has a small fraction. The NFL makes billions of dollars on broadcasting while the NHL only makes a few million. The hockey league just has less money overall simply because it is less popular within the United States. A select few teams in the NHL, most of whom are in Canada such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, make all the money because of popularity while others experience financial suffrage because of lack of support. This is why the NHLPA is not happy with pay, because the teams aren’t equally benefitting and it’s impacting the paychecks in a negative way. The players are continuing to disappoint fans by wanting to take the green rather than the ice, which is only making the pay decrease.
Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins, either way, it’s predicted that these coaches are all distressed about their teams not playing. Nashville Predators or LA Kings, either way, all viewpoints of the NHLPA, NHL and fans are not agreeing. No matter what team is being rooted for, the fans are built up with anger toward the situation and would basically riot to see their favorite teams take the ice this season.
Hopefully, there will be a contract agreement soon, but until then, hockey fans better get used to watching the NBA and MMA fights, because the only dropped puck they will be seeing is the Stanley Cup playoff reruns on the NHL network.
Howell High School senior Andrew Brownlee has been on the hockey rink as long as he can remember.
“When I was four years old, I would watch my dad play in his men’s hockey league. I thought it was pretty cool, and I definitely wanted to give it a try.”
This experience marked the beginning of something special.
At age six, he joined the Adams program at Grand Oaks to learn how to skate. He really enjoyed it and decided to take up the game of hockey.
Since his younger years, Brownlee has opened many eyes and turned several heads on the ice.
He made one of the best Triple A travel teams in the state, the Lansing Capitals, in eighth grade and played on the squad for three years, earning the starting goalie position in his last two seasons.
In Brownlee’s junior year, he transferred from Fowlerville High School to Howell High School, since they didn’t have an organized hockey team. During the season, he established himself as one of the top goalies in Michigan, helping the Highlanders win a conference championship and earning individual all-state honors. To top it all off, Brownlee was also inducted into the Howell High School’s athletics hall of fame.
Brownlee’s father has been one of his biggest inspirations for playing hockey.
“My dad played for Ferris State before they became division one and was a really good goalie. He has given me a lot of guidance and advice.”
Speaking of advice, Brownlee didn’t start playing goalie until he was ten years old since his father wanted him to learn the fundamentals of the game.
He recalled the first chance he received to be on net.
“The coaches use to give rotations at every position for all the players on the team. When it came my turn to play goalie, I would always have fun since I always did well. In practices, I would volunteer to play the position whenever the coaches made the offer.”
While Brownlee has played hockey most of his life, he hasn’t had the same experience when it comes to the sport of golf.
He began playing golf when he was 14 years old.
“I started watching the pros play golf on T.V. and it really caught my eye. I tried to do it in my backyard, and it just took off from there.”
In his freshman year, Brownlee joined the Fowlerville High School golf team. While he earned his varsity letter, he still was trying to get into the flow of the game since he didn’t have much experience.
He knew he had a knack for the sport when he won the most improved award on the team during his sophomore season. He then had a solid junior year for Howell, notably shooting 73 and medaling at the conference tournament.
His hockey experience has made it easy for him to transition to golf in the spring.
“Golf has similar motions to hockey so it has definitely helped to have my background.”
Brownlee can’t wait for his final season of high school golf.
“I feel like I’ve really improved and come a long way over the past two seasons. I’m playing great golf right now and I’m excited to show it on the course.”
Brownlee credits his success to the strong work ethic he has maintained throughout his career.
“It’s all about being dedicated to the sports. You have to put the proper amount of time and effort into it to truly become great. There has been many times where I have stayed after practice to improve my skills and tune-up my game.”
Brownlee has a tough decision to make for next year. He has a scholarship offer from Davenport University to play hockey and possibly golf.
He also has been invited to attend camps by a few teams from the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and the United States Hockey League (USHL). If he performs well at these, he will potentially be offered a spot on one of the teams.
The NAHL and the USHL provide Brownlee with the best opportunity to possibly get drafted into the NHL. However, Brownlee wants to make sure he receives a good education.
“It would be great to make it to the NHL someday, but my schooling is more important. I plan to use my athletics to pay for college. I want to do something along the lines of nursing.”
After becoming the new interim head coach for the Howell varsity hockey team, Darrin Schmitz is ready to lead the Highlanders in the same winning direction.
“I took (the job) mostly because I wanted to help the boys, and I was good friends with all of the previous coaches. I wanted to carry on what they started.”
Schmitz has a large history when it comes to hockey. At age five, he started playing when his father introduced him to the sport. Ever since those days, Schmitz has always remained in hockey.
Schmitz attended Howell High School and played on their hockey team in 1984 and 1985. He earned all-state honors and is in the school’s Hall of Fame. He also used to coach a AAA travel team for Compuware. Schmitz stopped coaching when his son, Beau Schmitz, started playing for the Plymouth Whalers.
“Hockey is my passion because I just really enjoy watching the sport, and it’s an awesome feeling coaching these kids and watching my son succeed in hockey.”
While Schmitz is well qualified for the coaching position, it still hasn’t healed the team’s situation since Mr. Randy Montrose’s firing.
“It has been very difficult coming in and getting accepted by all of the players. Most of them have handled it well, but I know it is a very hard adjustment for all of them.”
So far, Schmitz has earned approval from many, including Howell Athletic Director Dan Hutcheson.
“With the current circumstances, he’s the right person for the job,” Hutcheson said. “He’s someone who can step in and lead the team in the right direction.”
Senior goalie Andrew Brownlee is glad the school chose Schmitz as the interim coach.
“He’s probably one of the best choices for the interim job. I agree with his philosophy that defense and goaltending win championships.”
Schmitz has already been making his mark in the Highlander’s recent practices.
“He’s been having us do everything up-tempo so we’ll be prepared for the fast pace of the game,” Brownlee said.
Even though he has had little time to work with the team, his aspirations for the rest of the season are extremely high.
“I expect the boys to work as hard in school as they do on the ice. My goal is the same as the boys’, to win states.”
The Highlanders seem to be rolling after winning their fourth game in a row. However, there is still much more work to be done.
“We are definitely playing well, but we have not yet reached our full potential,” Brownlee said.
Schmitz really likes the head coaching position at Howell but his future on the squad is uncertain.
“I would love to coach next year, but that will be determined by my current job as an electrician.”
“What’s up, Nick?”
That’s how Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall greeted me in the concourse of Joe Louis Arena a couple of weeks ago. To say this was cool would be an understatement.
We talked back and forth, mostly about hockey, but about other things too, like how’s life back in Sweden, and if he was going to see his girlfriend after the game.
That leads to pictures, which end up on Facebook and then school the next day.
I often get asked what it’s like “hanging out” with some of the Red Wings. It’s no big deal.
Talking to these guys is no different than talking to anyone else you usually talk to. Hockey players, maybe more than any other athletes, are just like everyone else. They’re some of the most laid back people in the world, and none exhibit this more than Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader.
Abdelkader, who visited the Howell Opera House in October for a fundraiser to benefit my family, is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. It’d be easy for him to just say “hi” and leave the rink after a game, but Abdelkader stayed and talked with me for around 15 minutes. Not only did he remember who I was, but he asked how my family was doing and showed interest in helping out in our community.
Goalie Jimmy Howard is the same way. I met him for the first time after their game against Winnipeg on December 10. Howard was awesome, taking time to take a couple of pictures and talk about the game and his family life. An All-Star this year, Howard — to a complete stranger, like me, nonetheless — discussed candidly about his new baby and how he has to move to the basement sometimes to actually get sleep.
It’s literally like talking to one of your best friends. They’re so open to talking to fans that it didn’t matter that I am only 18 and still in high school.
Before meeting most of them, I had this vision of them not being very talkative and in a hurry.
I was wrong. Kronwall and Abdelkader both wanted to listen to me talk about my life, my hockey career, and were interested in seeing the pictures of my backyard rink. It’s almost like they make you forget that they’re professional athletes for a minute and make you feel like you’re talking to a friend.
This certainly has a lot to do with each player’s upbringing — this I learned after meeting Abdelkader’s dad, Joe. It was easy to tell he was raised right. This, in combination with the way the Red Wings organization handles things so professionally, with lessons and leadership from players like Steve Yzerman and Lidstrom trickling down to the younger guys on the team.
So really, what is it like?
They’re just like you and me. Except, you know, really, really, really good at hockey.
Howell Varsity Hockey is kicking off another season with extremely high expectations. Even though the Highlanders graduated several seniors last year who had made a huge impact.
That experience and leadership were the major reasons why the team was so successful. Five seniors earned all-state honors and were inducted into the Howell High School Hall of Fame.
While it is difficult to replace these talented players, Highlander coach Randy Montrose believes his team has strongly rebuilt.
“Returning players always seem to step up and fill those positions. I believe our scoring will not be as concentrated and will be more spread out which I believe in the long run will make us harder to defend.”
During their offseason, the Howell icers focused on improving their physicality and shape.
“We really have been strength training and conditioning (over the entire summer) and just started to introduce items to our team as to systems and requirements as to our style of play,” coach Montrose said.
The Highlanders faced Detroit Catholic Central, one of the top ranked teams in the state, in a scrimmage last Nov. 9. The game was ugly for Howell as the Shamrocks skated to an 8-1 victory. Catholic Central dominated the Highlanders with shots on goal and time of possession.
“We simply failed to run our system and execute the coach’s game plan. We kind of went out there and skated around with our heads cut off,” senior forward captain Jordan Hawkins said.
Even though the outcome of the matchup was disappointing, coach Montrose was upbeat about the experience.
“The younger players were very nervous and I think it will help us prepare for facing hard competition later in the year
without the nerves coming into play.”
On Nov. 16, Howell faced a tough opponent in Livonia Stevenson. The Howell skaters rebounded nicely and defeated the Spartans 8-3. They flashed excellent signs of potential after passing the puck well and scoring a few quick goals.
Hawkins was satisfied with their performance.
“Last week’s game (against Catholic Central) was a wakeup call to everyone. We came out against (Livonia) Stevenson and really played well as a team. I think we definitely took a big step forward.”
It may be hard to tell where the Highlanders stand at this point, but senior returning all-state goalie Andrew Brownlee is confident they will be successful.
“I think we will have a great season this year. We went on a team building retreat and have become really close as a team.
We should be very consistent because we are going to do all the little things and pay attention to detail.”
Coach Montrose likes his team’s chances in the upcoming season as well.
“We have a good returning core of veteran players and most new additions are good young players. I believe we have the makings of a very good team. However, it may take us a little longer to get everyone up to speed with our style of play.”
While P.J. Krystyniak may not be the loudest guy on and off the ice, he makes sure that people listen to him in crucial moments.
“I’m mostly a quiet, soft-spoken person, but I usually get my point across when it needs to get across,” Krystyniak says.
The Howell senior, who is playing in his second season on the varsity team, is looking to continue the success the team has had the previous two seasons. Krystyniak’s goal is simple this year though: win it all.
“Our goal for this season as a team is to win the state championship,” Krystyniak says with a slight smile on his face. “We’ve been working all summer to work up to that goal and hopefully achieve it,” he adds.
His coach, Randy Montrose has high hopes for Krystyniak this season to help the team succeed.
“PJ is going to be a catalyst, [and] he’s going to be instrumental on our power play,” Montrose says. “We think that he’s going to be one of the guys that really help our team.”
Montrose also acknowledges the quiet manner in which Krystyniak leads the team. “We’re expecting him to lead quietly again,” Montrose says. “He’s not real loud when he talks but when he does speak people listen to him. He leads more by example,” he adds.
Even though Krystyniak has become a major leader and productive player for Howell, he used to not like hockey.
“I first started playing hockey when I was about five [years old], and to tell the truth, I hated it at first,” Krystyniak says chuckling. “My dad kept on pushing me though, and I finally began to love the sport.”
Though he still has a full season still left of high school hockey, Krystyniak’s greatest moment in hockey was his first high school game.
“We played against CC [Catholic Central] and there was a full stadium on hand. It was kind of a scary moment but it was also my favorite moment,” he says.
His inspiration throughout his life has been Steve Yzerman. Krystyniak is influnced by the way Yzerman carried himself and how he pushed through adversity. He tries to model those same characteristics during hockey and even in life situations as well.
Darek Kalisz, a junior on the hockey team, looks up to Krystyniak as a leader and admires how his presence alone has helped the team.
“His work ethic stands out the most to me,” Kalisz says. “He’s always positive and optimistic to many things on and off the ice.”
While hockey is one of the more important activities in his life right now, especially with the season just beginning, Krystyniak also enjoys some other sports.
“I enjoy hunting and fishing a lot. I used to play baseball competitively when I was younger, but hunting and fishing is what I like to do in my free time,” Krystyniak says.
Most people want to be remembered in some shape or form when they graduate from high school. Krystyniak wants to be recognized as the type of player he is on the ice.
“I want to be remembered as a silent leader on the hockey team; someone who always did what was needed to be done and was one of the hardest working players to play.”
He is already begun to make that impression, quietly.