A mixed bag for Cal-St. Northridge this week; first, the good: The CSUN Matadors Hockey Team (!!?!?) is headed to the National Championships. Not quite Division I hockey, but an achievement nonetheless, as the Iceadors have been lacing up the skates for 38 years and this is their first appearance. There is a dearth of D-I hockey west of the Rockies, and these National Championships are the holy grail for non-scholarship programs.
Now, the bad: perhaps predicating more cuts throughout the state’s Higher Education system, Cal-St. Northridge was forced to cut both men’s and women’s swimming. The move to discontinue men’s and women’s swimming will reduce the number of intercollegiate sports supported by Cal State Northridge to 18 (8 men’s, 10 women’s) which still ranks in the upper half of the Big West Conference members in terms of team sponsorship. Undergraduate student-athletes now on the men’s and women’s rosters who are receiving athletics scholarships will retain aid until their athletic eligibility expires. The CSUN Athletic Department will provide the student-athletes with assistance should they decide to transfer to another university or college.
Today, YKI welcomes guest columnist, KingJ77, our resident hockey expert (below first pic).
Those of you that watched the U.S. vs. Canada matchup last night were treated to PHENOMENAL hockey, even for the most casual of sports fans. From YKI’s perspective, Olympic Hockey is faster, more skilled and more ‘open’ (and thus inherently watchable) than it’s NHL cousin (neutral-zone trap, anybody). Also noting that there are five Kings on the Olympic squads, the local angle increases interest. . .but back to last night’s game – I arrived home from a Dogs game in the 2nd period and remained captivated throughout, despite a brief bout of shortness-of-breath during the frenetic final four minutes of the 3rd period.
Both teams were playing AMAZING, Ryan Miller is a stud, and Drew Doughty is no longer a secret. The pace was awesome, and all-time great Martin Brodeur was no match for the relentless U.S. attack, leading to his benching for the Canoodians’ subsequent matchup versus Germany. Ryan Kesler’s empty netter at the end was as spectacular as you can get. . .and to think, this was just a ‘seeding/bragging rights’ game. Imagine the medal round.
Oh yeah, also – the matchup was the MOST Watched program in Canadian Sports Television HISTORY.
Yesterday’s Team US victory was great and exciting. Ever since the tournament began, the media had its eye on a Russia v Canada gold medal matchup. Nobody in the media gave the US a chance….?
Everyone involved in the NHL knows exactly who the US is: a bunch of quality NHLers who can beat anyone. They may not have the skill of Russia or Canada…but they are the most physical team…and they do have legitimate scorers.
In fact, the most impressive aspect of the US team is not that they are 3-0…it’s that they were built like a real team. Every player on this team plays the exact same role as they do on their NHL teams. Nobody is playing out of position. For example, Rick Nash is an awesome offensive player who plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Young, big, strong, can score 40-50 goals, and occassionally bangs his big body. The key word is “ocassional.” Now look at Nash on Team Canada and he is their main physical force. He is playing away from his natural abilities and this is evident thus far. Canada however, is so freakin talented that they can overcome any of this.
Now, back to business…why has the US team been overlooked? Because of the following:
(1) The US media doesn’t know shit about hockey….and doesn’t care about hockey.
(2) The Miracle on Ice (1980). This game took place in a different era…almost like in a different dimension for a couple of reasons. (a) That team was comprised of a bunch of college players who defeated Russian professional hockey players (that was during the soviet union and cold war in which russians were not allowed to play in the NHL). (b) US hockey players sucked back then…but they are now on par with the best hockey players in the world. Thus, the media (and ignorant sports fans) is living in the past and believes the US is still that same underdog..although this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The ignornance of the US media can be dissected further as the following developments have been overlooked:
(1) The World Championships (World Cup). The World Cup is a tournament that occurs every 4-7 years (but the last was in 1998) in which professional NHL players represent their countries and play by NHL rules in North America. It is almost like the olympic tournament…except it is way better. The semifinals and finals are best of 3…fighting is allowed, NHL rules, intense, no bullshit Latvia skilled teams etc… Well, in 1998, guess who won? That’s right… the US beat Canada in the Championship round. The US had Brian Leetch, Brett Hull, Modano, Mike Richter, etc….that’s a freakin’ Hall of Fame lineup…for real. Nobody in the US media educates the masses by bringing this up.
(2) The Junior Tournaments in Canada are as important as March Madness in the US…except it is bigger in Canada. In fact, there are 2 tournaments (Under 16 and under 18). Guess who won both tournaments this year?….that’s right…the US cleaned up Canada in the finals both tournaments…almost setting off riots in the aftermath.
Well…hopefully you are starting to understand….