Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Russia Wins Gold!

Congratulations to Team Russia for winning the gold medal! It was a thriller of a game, both teams played great, but Russia never gave up and were ultimately rewarded with the gold.

What an exciting finish to a great tournament!

Today's The Big Day!

Well, it's all come down to this. It's the final day of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship, and there are two games left to be played.

Team USA and Team Sweden will play at the HSBC Arena at 3:30 to compete for the bronze medal, but the game that everyone is waiting for is the gold medal game at 7:30 where Canada will take on Russia for the gold.

For many of the Canadians that came to Buffalo for the tournament, they have been waiting for this day since Team USA beat Canada for the gold in last year's World Juniors in Saskatoon. Now tonight Canada will have a chance at redemption as they fight for the gold.

As I have previously mentioned, during this tournament I met a Russian reporter named Maria, and she told me how surprised and excited she is to see Russia in the gold medal game. Yesterday I took Maria to the Galleria Mall to do some shopping, and she bumped into a few Russian scouts that she knows from Moscow, and she was very surprised to see them at the mall because she wasn't aware that they were in town for the tournament. Another neat thing that happened was when we wanted to get a picture of us together, the man that Maria asked to take our picture was from the area, but has traveled to Moscow several times and was fluent in Russian. It's funny what a small world it really is!

Maria and I.

Later on, Maria and I saw the Russian scouts again and they were with a few players from Team Russia. Unfortunately, they don't know much English so it was hard for me to communicate with them, but I can only imagine how excited they must be to be playing against Canada for the gold.

Whichever team ends up on top, it sure is going to be an exciting game!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Canada-USA Game

The crowd was electric, the hits were hard, and the intensity was in full force as Canada soldiered on for their quest for gold. Canada scored early in the first period and never looked back as they continued to score 3 more goals to make it a 4-1 decision. Team USA's goaltender, Jack Campbell was strong in net, making several brilliant saves, but Canada's strong defensive play prevented Team USA from scoring any goals until Chris Brown scored late in the third period to spoil Canada goaltender Mark Visentin's shutout.

Entering the arena I was greeted with thousands of excited fans awaiting puck drop. Waves of both USA and Canada chants were heard throughout the hallways, and by the time people were in their seats, the noise from the crowd was deafening.

Minutes before puck drop.

Canada's faithful fans filled the arena in a sea of red and white, with many waving Canadian flags with maple leafs painted on their face. While USA fans were largely outnumbered, the fans that were in attendance were passionate and were eager to support their team.

American fan cheering on Team USA.

Canadian fans celebrating Canada's first goal.

The atmosphere was generally friendly, with a few insults and jabs thrown sporadically throughout the game, although I'm sure things would have been more hostile if the score had been reversed.

I saw my uncle Bill who works as an usher at the HSBC Arena and he was excited to see the game. He said that it's been a lot of fun working during the World Juniors, and that all the Canadian fans that have come out for the tournament have really made it an exciting event.

My uncle Bill working the game.

I also bumped into a young woman named Amanda who told me that she reads this blog and that she's been enjoying the coverage of the tournament, which was real nice to hear. Although Amanda is a USA fan, I hope she had a nice time at the game!

Canadian fans sing along to Canada's national anthem after the game.

While beating Team USA is a huge step in Canada's quest for the gold medal, they will have a challenge ahead of them as they will take on Russia for gold. Russia has shown tremendous perseverance in the tournament and will surely be up to the task to try and take the gold. The USA still has a chance to medal in the tournament, as they will face off against Sweden for the bronze medal.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Well, it may not be the gold medal rematch that many IIHF World Junior fans had anticipated, but tomorrow night Canada and the US will face off in the semifinal round of the tournament. Team USA is the defending champion, hoping to beat Canada tomorrow night to advance into the gold medal game, while Canada is looking to knock off the team that beat them for the gold in overtime last year.

While Team USA earned a bye into the semifinals, Canada had to knock off Switzerland today at the HSBC Arena in order to advance. The hesitant crowd full of Canadian fans got even more nervous when Switzerland took the early lead in the first period, but Canada answered back with 4 straight goals to secure the win. The once apprehensive crowd got more and more confident as Canada scored their goals, and by the end of the game they were already asking for Team USA. Team Canada and its loyal fans will get to see Team USA tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. at the HSBC Arena.

Before the game, I headed over to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to get a chance to see the Stanley Cup and other Hall of Fame trophies. The gallery was filled with art lovers and sports lovers alike who were there to see the Cup, the "Forty" Sabres exhibit, and the priceless works of modern art that the gallery has to offer. Plenty of fans donning hockey jerseys got a chance to get up close to hockey's long and storied history, by scanning the names that adorn the Stanley Cup and the other trophies.

Many fans got a chance to touch the Cup for the first time and got to take their picture by the famous trophy. Although I've had the chance to view the Stanley Cup and the other trophies several times, I could still spend hours viewing all the teams and names on all of the trophies. It's fun to recognize the names of favorite players and coaches, and see the names of the players and coaches who I'm very familiar with, but played before my time.

Fans will still have a chance to view the Cup tomorrow, as it will be on display at the art gallery from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Medal Rounds Start Today

Switzerland vs. Canada
Teams Canada and Switzerland will take to the ice Sunday afternoon in the first game of the World Juniors playoff series at HSBC Arena.

The Canadians are entering the playoffs having won three of their four preliminary games, finishing with 11 points. They scored 28 goals in those games, including 10 in their win against Norway... more.

Norway vs. Slovakia
Team Slovakia and Team Norway face off this afternoon at Dwyer Arena to begin the tournament’s relegation round.  Slovakia completed the preliminary round with one overtime victory to go along with three losses, while Norway has been on the losing end of all four of its games.  Puck drop for this matinee contest is scheduled for 3:30 PM.

Slovakia enters action as the fourth seed in Group A at the conclusion of preliminary play, defeating Germany in overtime and losing to the United States, Finland, and Switzerland.  They sit in last place overall in power-play efficiency thus far (1 for 15) and currently sit atop in penalty minutes with 92... more.

Russia vs. Finland
Team Finland (3-0-1-0) faces off against Team Russia (2-0-0-2) for a Quarterfinal showdown on Sunday evening at 7:30p.m at HSBC Arena. Finland is looking to continue their momentum after blanking Slovakia 6-0 to win their fourth straight game. Team Russia is looking to build off their impressive 8-3 victory over Czech Republic to beat Finland and advance to the Semi-finals... more.

Germany vs. Czech Republic
Team Germany will go toe-to-toe with the Czech Republic tonight in a relegation game at Niagara University.

Germany failed to advance to playoff action, only managing one point in the preliminary round. Germany’s only point came in their second game with a loss to Slovakia in overtime. The Germans pummeled Slovak goaltender Dominik Riecicky with 48 shots, but couldn’t pull through in sudden death... more.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What To Do: Allentown

Last night I spent my New Years Eve down in Allentown. While Chippewa is Buffalo's most popular entertainment district, Allentown is another great area full of bars and restaurants to enjoy a great night out.

People outside of The Pink in Allentown.

Below I've compiled a list of my favorite bars to go to when I'm spending a night in Allentown.

Mulligan's Brick Bar - This bar is truly a Buffalo staple and the photos on the wall of bar crawlers from the 70s all the way to today show that people have been having fun at Brick Bar for decades!

Brick Bar

Nietzsche's - With live music every night ranging from jazz, techno, rock, DJing, and Celtic, this bar has a little something for everyone.

223 Allen St Inc - Although most Buffalonians probably aren't aware that 223 Allen St Inc is the official name of this bar, most people refer to it as "The Old Pink", or simply just "The Pink", due to it formally being a bar called The Pink Flamingo. This bar is another Buffalo staple, and is truly one of the best dive bars in the city. If you're feeling hungry, ask one of the bartenders about their "secret menu", the steak sandwich is to die for!

Steak sandwich at The Pink.

The Pink

DBGB's - Another great bar on Allen, with a great beer selection and live entertainment.

Frizzy's - A fun, sports bar atmosphere with bubble hockey, darts, pool tables, and arcade games. There's also a photobooth located inside which can make for a fun night.

These are just a few great bars that come to mind, there are plenty of other choices in Allentown. Everything is in very close vicinity which makes it very easy to bar hop!

Bar hoppers on Allen.

Allentown is also a great place to go during the day or evening if you're looking for a nice place to eat. Here are some my favorite restaurants on Allen:

Mother's - Great for a nice, upscale dinner or if you're looking for something more casual, try their bar menu that has great choices (and really good wings!) as well. One of the best things about Mother's is how late their kitchen stays open!

Gabriel's Gate - Great wings here! Also a very good sandwich selection. A great place to go for a beer and a casual dinner.

Fat Bob's Smokehouse
- A great BBQ restaurant located next to Mother's.

La Tee Da - A small restaurant located on Allen with great food and a great atmosphere.

Lagniappes - Great restaurant with New Orleans and Cajun food.

Jim's Steakout - Fast food place with steak subs, a great place to go after spending a night out on Allen.

Towne Restaurant - A Greek restaurant with an extensive breakfast menu that serves until the wee hours of the morning. Many Buffalonians frequent Towne after a night out.

Allentown is an eclectic neighborhood with a fun and diverse crowd. I always have a great time and a lot of fun whenever I spend time there, whether it's during the day to do some shopping or to grab dinner, or if it's when I'm at the bars spending a night out on the town.

Day 6 Recap

With the preliminary round of the IIHF World Junior Championship wrapped up, teams and fans have a break today as they prepare for the playoffs. The final day of the preliminaries was full of exciting games, with Russia securing a playoff position with an 8-3 win over the Czech Republic at Dwyer Arena, Finland blanking Slovakia 6-0, and Team USA beating Switzerland 2-1.

But the most exciting game of the night, and perhaps so far in the entire tournament, was Sweden's 6-5 shootout victory over Canada. Both teams battled back and forth in the hard hitting, fast paced game, with the decision coming down to a shootout. Team Canada fans who filled the arena left shocked and disappointed, but by the time the USA-Switzerland game was about to go underway, the Canadian fans still left in the lodge were in high spirits and were looking forward to the playoffs.

Canadian fans after Canada's loss to Sweden.

Inside the arena, fans getting ready to watch Team USA and Switzerland were given hats and noisemakers at the door to celebrate the New Year. The hallways were filled with people using their noisemakers, cheering, and the U-S-A chant. The energy from the previous Canada-Sweden game seemed to linger in the crowd as fans were eagerly awaiting puck drop.

I caught up with Seymour Knox IV and his sons prior to the game and I chatted with him for a bit about the tournament. Seymour's father, Seymour Knox III and uncle Northrup Knox were the first owners of the Buffalo Sabres and the ones responsible for bringing an NHL team to Buffalo. Seymour was at the Canada-Sweden game and was looking forward to the USA-Switzerland game.

Seymour Knox and his family just before the USA-Switzerland game.

I spoke to Seymour earlier, and he told me about a Russian reporter named Maria from Moscow who is in town to cover Team Russia and the rest of the tournament. I met up with Maria at the hotel she is staying at and I took her out to lunch and we got to discuss our experience covering the tournament. It was very interesting to get the perspective of the same tournament that I'm covering from someone from out of the country. Maria told me that she is attending tonight's Buffalo Sabres game against the Boston Bruins and she was very excited to be attending her first NHL game. Maria gets to cover the KHL in Russia and she gets to interview Russian NHL players like Ovechkin and Kovalchuk, but she has never had the chance to watch an NHL game in person. She was also hoping to get a chance to interview Sabres star goaltender, Ryan Miller, who is also a big star over in Russia. Maria told me that interviewing Miller would be a big deal for the newspaper that she writes for because it's rare for her newspaper to interview NHL players who aren't Russian.

Because of today's break, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has decided to open today so fans can view the Stanley Cup and other Hall of Fame trophies. The Cup was supposed to only be here January 2nd and 3rd, but today's unscheduled opening of the art gallery will give fans extra time to view the Cup. For the fans who don't have the chance to view the Cup when it's at its home at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, today would be the perfect chance to see the Cup up close!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Czech Republic vs. Russia

Team Russia (1-2) and Team Czech Republic (1-2) come together tonight at 7 PM inside Dwyer Arena in what promises to be a fierce battle.  The stakes are high for the contest, as the winner will move on to the quarterfinals and the loser will head to the relegation round.

Russia comes into the game following a dominant 8-2 victory over Norway last night, lighting the lamp 5 times in the final 20 minutes and firing a total of 55 shots on goal.  The contest finished with 14 of the team’s skaters picking up at least a point, 7 picking up two or more.  Dmitri Orlov (0G, 3A) and Nikita Dvurechenski (1G, 2A) led the way offensively, each putting their mark on the scoresheet 3 times.  Other goal scorers included: Danil Sobchenko (2), Yevgeni Kuznetsov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Maxim Kitsyn, Artyom Voronin, and Andrei Sergeyev. 

For the full game preview, click here.

USA vs. Switzerland

Team Switzerland hopes to make a statement when they battle Team USA in the fourth and final game of the preliminary round on New Year’s Eve.

For the second straight year, Team Switzerland qualified for the playoffs after defeating Slovakia 6-4 at the HSBC Arena yesterday afternoon. Swiss Captain Nino Niederreiter scored a goal in last night’s victory, but the forward acknowledges that a win over USA won’t be easy.

“We can play without any pressure now that we advanced into the next round,” said Niederreiter. “We know USA is a big team, but everybody can beat everybody.  We will have to play with a lot of fun because it’ll be a great crowd with it being New Year’s Eve.  I am really happy to play.”

For the full game preview, click here.

Sweden vs. Canada

Team Canada (3-0) and Team Sweden (3-0) lace up for their final and most important game of preliminary play in the tournament. The winner of today’s match will claim the top seed in the Group B division and will receive a bye through the Quarterfinals and automatically move in to the Semi-finals.

The second and third place teams in each division play a cross-over Quarterfinal game where the winner will continue on to the Semi-finals and the loser will play in a placement game.

Canada and Sweden are currently tied with a 3-0 record and 9 points each. The Canadians have an edge over Sweden for first place as Canada has a +17 goal differential, while the Swedes hold a +11 goal difference. However, the title for first place rides solely on today’s game.

For the full game preview, click here.