Team USA improved to 3-0 with a win over Germany 8-0 on Sunday, to move 5 points clear of second place Canada in Group A. This all but assures the American's of advancing to the playoff round.
In Michigan news, a scary moment yesterday when Germany's Leon Draisaitl (WHL- Prince Albert) hit Andrew Copp from behind. Draisaitl was given a 5 minute match penalty, and is supended from Germany's game today (12/30) vs. Czech Republic. Copp did return to the game after being on the ice for a few minutes. The video is below, play begins at about 1:44 minute mark.
M Downing shaking hands pregame. Taller than all the refs... nice.
I had the pleasure of attending the U17 5 nations tournament last night in A2. Team USA's captain is the newest UM hockey commit Michael Downing. He is every bit as big as advertised, just needs to fill out a bit, which will not be an issue as he only recently turned 16.
In his own zone, he was physical showing a quick stick and a bit of a nastiness to his game. His break out was good, both passing and skating, will just need to improve on the quickness of his decisions in this area as he move up competition. His skating was very good and he used it to jump into the offensive rush on several occasions. He was part of the first PP unit and scored a PP goal as he crashed the net, grabbed a rebound, made a move and roofed it from in tight. Showed some real nice hands for a big kid and a Defense man at that. Did all that
In short, I was very impressed with the kids game and size. And the coaches must be impressed with some intangibles to have named him captain. To my untrained eye UM is getting (please no more defections) a very good one.
I was also impressed with a couple other kids. Big forward Michael Turner showed great hands, with decent skating - this look to be a little awkward maybe due to recent growth spurt? But when he fills out and gets his feet under him, he will be tough to stop.
Adam Erne was also very good. Always seemed to be around the net with a good control on the puck. Another kid with some size, seems to have grown into it a little quicker than Turner.
The Goaltender Demko was top notch. Big kid, stayed square to shooters, only let one in. Was very good at controlling the puck for the most part, smothering it when needed, kicking it way out or deflecting it up into the netting. i think he was 6-3.. little different look than UM has currently.
Lastly, my favorite kid to watch was Daniel Vanderwiel. A little shorter, but very well built and loved to use it. Several nice open ice hits, rubbed guys out along the boards. Was very physical all game long. The Czech players were looking out for him all game. Just has to do a better job of controlling the puck once he crushes the puck carrier and holding it along the boards, then you might have a little Tkachuk on your hands.
Saw a ton of NCAA coaches there including Billy Powers. Hopefully he was making some inroads with a few of the other kids.
Jordan Taylor becomes only the 2nd Michigan Softball Player to be selected to Team USA. This is quite an honor for any softball player. The chance to play for one's country is what little girls dream of. Lets hope they bring back Softball to the Olympics.
Congrats to JT and thanks for being one of the best pitchers in Michigan history (IMO).
Here is the link to the Mothership.
The USA NTDP just wont their second straight U-18 Hockey World Championship 3-1 over Sweden. Luke Moffatt who will be coming to Michigan next season had a goal. Click on the link for game stats.
OT: ESPN: The Absurdly Annoying
I’ve had it.
One of my simple daily rituals takes me in unfaltering anticipation to the ESPN front page. The ritual that it is, I’ve not missed its execution in eons, and I always get something of a jolt when there’s something genuinely shocking there (news of a big upset, ala Yang over Woods). I check the front pages for my respective sports every day at one time, and then discard all thoughts of ESPN.com from my mind until the next day rears its head or an MGoBlog topic/diary links me back to it briefly. But not today.
Today I had to do the unthinkably dangerous and superstitiously unhealthy thing and check the front page a second time. This time, it led me to an article with several enthused, costumed Mexican soccer fans on the “cover picture.” It looked like an interesting read, something out of the ESPN-controlled “norm” of sports that usually dominates every aspect of the site that excluding little informative niches the size of my pinky that sometimes “gladiator” their way to the front page for a millisecond.
So I read it. Big mistake. Here it is: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090817.
The article was a curiously ignorant shot at American fandom due to its apparent inferiority to Mexican fans’ passion, by ESPN’s “The Sports Guy.”
A few interesting points he made in his article:
He says, ‘I asked a hotel concierge if there was a good place to get coffee, followed by him pointing me toward a Starbucks to our left, then saying, "Whatever you do, don't go right."’
Somehow, this statement translated into OMG MEXICAN FANS ARE SO PASSIONATE THEY MIGHT JUMP ME IF I GO TO THE WRONG PART OF TOWN. Bullshit. The guy most likely told him where not to go because of how likely it is that he’d get kidnapped by drug traffickers, not because of Mexican fandom chasing him around town…
‘The Mexican fans had no problem drowning out "The Star-Spangled Banner" with jeers. They tossed drinks and debris at the U.S. bench for most of the second half ...’
Really? Disrespecting someone else’s national anthem makes them better fans than me or you? Really, Bill Simmons? Stay Classy.
Of course, he then brings up some examples of hostility from his hometown Celts. And uses poor examples of hostility at American sporting games to boot…
‘The U.S. was allotted about 500 seats for Sam's Army (a traveling band of American fans); they were crammed in the upper deck in one corner with armed police officers flanking both aisles.”
Personally, I’d be disgraced and shamed if this ever happened at the Big House. The fact they have to do this is an absolute stigma, and shouldn’t be a point of pride at all…
He says, “In basketball, think of the teams that play beautifully together (like Duncan's Spurs or Nash's pre-Shaq Suns) versus stagnant offenses that stand around watching their best player go one-on-four (like LeBron's Cavs)…” and notes that it’s harder to win games/championships the Cavs way.
HOWEVER, then he says this: “Just like in basketball, you can't win championships in soccer without a LeBron/Kobe-type player.”
That’s a contradictory statement, and Bill Simmons should just shut up. ’04 Pistons? ’05 Spurs? ’08 Celtics? It’s just too easy. And there are more examples in the article, but you get the idea.
This attack on U.S. fandom is one-sided, unjustified, and unfair. This article is another example of how ESPN uses over-flowery words to exaggerate a debatably valid point (usually “devil’s-advocate” style) with an inappropriately named writing figure (“The Sports Guy,” whose knowledge of sports overall hasn’t seemed to qualify him for the title, at least in my opinion, with all due respect).
Look, I have plenty of respect for the sport of soccer; my mom’s family lives in Germany and I was born there, I’ve seen plenty of it, and it’s a fun sport, with beautiful plays, lots of technique, lots of nuances that can take a fan sometimes years to truly understand. But American mainstream sports are not by any means inferior in any of those regards, and especially not in the “passion and quality of fan bases” regard. “The Sports Guy” and ESPN, in this article, reflect an overlying problem and perception in modern sports that being unsportsmanlike or in some cases downright moronic at a game make you a more passionate fan than the man who sits at a stadium two thousand miles away and throws nothing at the players or opposing fans, but still unleashes endless amounts of energy pulling for his team on a Saturday night.
I’m sorry, but if you think that because Fan A can throw a bag of piss at me during a game and that opposing fans who visit his stadium have to be flanked by police officers, you are NOT a better fan than me, or anyone who pulls for a quality team in the USA. You’re an idiot, and a dangerous one to boot. Passion to me is the 95,000 people in Death Valley on a Saturday night, not 100,000 people willing to throw beer at you and their piss at you and call it acceptable. Disgusting.