January is often described as a time of reflection. It’s a time of year when many look back and take stock of the year that was and look forward to new opportunities the new year to come may bring.
Last year was a great year at HockeyNow and as always, it is our dedicated readers who deserve most of the credit for that. Without you, there would be no HockeyNow and I would like to take this opportunity thank everyone for a great year and your continuing support in 2016. We truly have the best fans in the business!
We were able to get many programs and initiatives off the ground in 2015 including a massive increase in our online content, our new It’s HockeyNow podcast and a new crowdsourcing feature called Hometown Rink Report, which gives our readers the opportunity to tell their own stories from the local rink and have them published in a special section on our website. The reception has been positive thus far and we look forward to reading more about what our readers are up to this year. For more information and to access the Rink Report, visit our website at HockeyNow.ca and click the “Write for HockeyNow” link at the top of the site.
For most Canadian hockey fans, the New Year didn’t start off so great and I’m sure many are left wondering what exactly went wrong for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland just a few short weeks ago. For those who missed it, Canada was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual champion and host Finland after what can only be described as a lackluster round-robin phase.
The team never seemed to gel on the ice and often looked outmatched by their European counterparts. After seeing five different countries take home gold in five years leading up to Canada’s win on home turf last year, it should probably come as no surprise that the days of Canada dominating the tournament have long since passed. Perhaps the best explanation is that the rest of the world has finally caught up to us and are producing talent that is more than capable of giving us a run in our national game. Whatever the case, Canadian hockey fans are left to lick our wounds until a chance at redemption in 2017.
Also on the junior front, the WHL trade deadline passed a few days ago and many teams added pieces for the stretch run toward the playoffs. Some teams, such as the Regina Rebels and Memorial Cup host Red Deer Rebels improved drastically, while others made it clear that their eyes are already firmly fixed on the future.
Red Deer added a trio of big names ahead of the deadline in Jake DeBrusk, Adam Helewka and Luke Philp in three separate deals and look solid heading into the playoffs and Memorial Cup as hosts. Meanwhile, the Pats pulled off the last trade of the season, landing Cole Sanford in a deal with Medicine Hat as they look to makes some waves as the playoffs approach.
While the holidays weren’t much fun on the World Junior stage, minor hockey had yet another banner year, culminating in another successful Christmas tournament schedule. Thousands of youngsters across the province laced them up in numerous events and by all accounts the minor game is strong across B.C.
Of note, the newly branded Pat Quinn Classic (formerly the Burnaby Bantam Classic) had a great inaugural event with dozens of teams from different age groups and parts of the country taking part. The tournament is one of the longest running in the province and the future looks bright. I’m sure the late B.C. hockey legend would have been proud to have his name and memory attached to the prestigious event.
Looking to the year ahead, the HockeyNow team has a number of things we are working on that we’ll be rolling out as we move through the second half of the hockey season and beyond. Pick up our issues at the local rink and stay tuned to HockeyNow.ca for these announcements and more.
So from everyone here at HockeyNow, Happy New Year and I look forward to talking to you again next issue!
1) Team South Wins 2017 Alberta Cup
2) Road to the RBC Cup: Cougars Captain Josh Maguire Ready to Return for Nationals
3) Western Canada Cup Finals Set with Brooks Against Chilliwack
4) St. Albert Slash Make History at 2017 Esso Cup
5) Supporting Casts Will be Key in OHL Final