Friday, November 27, 2009

' Tis the Season

Hockey season is underway and unfortunately concussion season has also begun. Just a few weeks into regular play and I’ve already heard of three youth hockey players who’ve suffered possible concussions during some aggressive games. Troubling to hear because we've got a lot of hockey ahead of us. Unlike knee, shoulder or wrist injuries, concussions can have long term and devastating effects, some of which are not realized until much later in life.

Teaching Heads Up Hockey
Coaches are concerned too. While chatting with an Onondaga Thunder Squirt coach the other day, he made a point of telling me how wished parents would spend as much money on helmets as they do on skates and sticks. “Think about,” he said. “What’s the most important part of your young hockey player’s body? The head! Spending 50 dollars on a helmet and 250 dollars on skates, just doesn’t add up.” This coach shared several stories of kids on his team taking some nasty inadvertant hits. Fortunately, his young players didn't suffer any serious head injuries, but like so many other coaches, he fears it every game.

Equipment is key, but that shouldn't be the only area of investment. You certainly don't want to foster a false feeling that protective equipment is going to prevent all injuries. It's not and many experts believe education needs to start early. If our kids are not taught proper checking techniques, especially along the boards, chances are we’ll continue to see even more concussions. Several coaches I’ve chatted with are all for teaching the kids “heads up” hockey well before the body-checking Pee Wee level. They’ll have a better understanding of body contact, puck separation and how to play the game safely when it's time for body contact.
Monkey See
Kids often emulate what they see. If they’re at a hockey game or watching one on TV they may witness some head hunting and may think that’s the way to play the game. We need to make sure they know it’s not the way to play and how hits to the head have to be off limits.

Injuries On The Rise
Big hits and hockey go together like hand in glove. But as these NHL players get bigger and faster, the number of concussions has risen too. Recent research shows more than 750 NHL players have been diagnosed with a concussion in the past twelve years. The National Academy of Neurosychology's Sport Concussion Symposium in New York did a ten season study and found;

31 concussions per 1,000 hockey games. 760 games were missed by those injured players during the '06-'07 season, a 41 percent increase from the previous season. 41 percent!

Harvard Helmets
The issue of concussions is finally getting some much-needed attention. On the college level, the Harvard men's hockey team this year is working with The Messier Project, to promote safe play during the season. Spearheaded by Hall of Famer Mark Messier, the team was issued new helmets that are designed to provide extra protection from concussions. Harvard becomes the first Division I team to join the campaign to address hockey concussions. Good to see. While we still don't know a lot about concussions, we do know they are real and the damage can be devastating.

For more information on this topic go here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much More than a Hockey Game

Syracuse Crunch fans are lining up to scoop up tickets that are now on sale for the 1:00p.m. February 20th Outdoor Hockey Game at the NYS Fairgrounds. Priced at 30 and 40 dollars, you can purchase them through ticketmaster or the Crunch Box office. I've heard nothing but excitement within the hockey circles I travel in, regarding the history making game for the AHL that will honor the roots and heritage of our favorite sport. Not surprising, since it's been tried twice by the NHL to huge success. At yesterday's press conference Syracuse Crunch Player Chris Higgins said, "You grow up playing pond hockey with all your friends so I think it will have a little bit of a pond hockey feeling to it. At the same time we know that it's a game, it should be a great game and hopefully we can come out with a victory."
It's already a victory for our community. The Empire State Development Corporation expects the game of uncontrolled outdoor ice to bring $1 million into our area and attract about 20,000 fans from across New York State and Northeastern Canada. The Crunch is calling the event a celebration of hockey that will recognize all levels, from youth to recreation to professional players. You can count on the wide-eyed youngest level players to be in the stands that day. Coaches of youth hockey teams are already doing head counts for tickets and rearranging game schedules for kids to turn out in a big way for the Outdoor Classic. The Crunch is also working out plans for youth hockey players to take part in events leading up to the big game. We should soon be hearing details about all of that soon.
It'll be a real team effort to make all of this happen. Pretty amazing when you think about what it's going to take to pull this off. No scoreboard, so they'll rent two video pop-up screens to display the score and penalty times. They'll need gravel, portable locker rooms, heaters and of course ice! They figure it'll take about two weeks to get the transformation job done.
Let the Crunch outdoor countdown begin! A cinder race track that sits quiet in the dead of winter will soon be turned into an ice arena and hockey fans can't wait to make some noise. Crunch owner Howard Dolgon says the country and maybe now all of North America is going to be looking at Syracuse on February 20th and that's going to be something special. We agree Howard, something special in commemoration of old time pond hockey. It certainly will be something special to a generation of young, indoor arena players who are guaranteed to witness so much more than a hockey game.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crunch Experience 2009





Where Hard Work and Talent Can Take You

Mite Coach Pete Schroeder shared this video with parents today as an example of where hard work and talent can take you. Coach Schroeder is friends with this young man's father. Check it out!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Your Ticket to Hockey History

We're getting ready to make some hockey history in February and the Syracuse Crunch would like as many youth hockey players as possible to be a part of the great outdoor adventure. Clear your schedules, reschedule any games and mark your calenders for February 20th. We'll learn more this week about the big game against the Binghamton Senators when the Crunch holds a press conference on Tuesday. I'm already hearing how the Crunch would very much like to see a big youth hockey tournout and have events in the week leading up to the first outdoor game in AHL history. It will be a great day for Syracuse hockey and for our kids. Stayed tuned. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Benefit for Brittany

She's fighting a courageous battle, off the ice and she's just 8 years old. Let's show her she's not alone by lending support to Brittany Karboski and her family. The spirited Salmon River Storm hockey player has been diagonosed with cancer. A fundraiser has been planned to help the family with expenses. I've always been impressed by the generosity and compassion in our Central New York hockey community and this would be the time to show it again. So spread the word to lace up on Sunday November 29th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm at the Haldane Ice Rink in Pulaski. Time for some teamwork with the goal of saving more than pucks on Sunday, the 29th.

For donation and pledge sheets contact:
Carol Ackley at 315-412-3521
Steve Olson 315-529-9782

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crunch for Another Decade

It's a done deal and let's celebrate! A new lease has been signed and that means we get to enjoy ten more years of Syracuse Crunch games at the downtown War Memorial. Good news for all of us hockey fans and for youth hockey. Crunch night experiences have long delivered some of the best memories for our kids. An afternoon youth hockey game, followed by a pizza party downstairs and a Kodak moment with Al. The hurried uniformed parade up the stairs to take over a section in the stands leaves little time to sit back , relax and enjoy the game. You've got to gather the kids, parade them back down the stairs to suit and lace them up. It never fails. With just a few minutes to spare, nature calls. You asked them how many times before they got all of their gear on? Any frantic moments quickly give way to feelings of pride and excitement as the kids take to the ice and skate between the periods. Then you hear it. The cheers from what sounds like an NHL-sized crowd. They're cheering for our kids. There they are. On the grand ice and giving the crowd plenty of reason to cheer. Memories that last a lifetime for you and for your youth hockey player. Here's to ten more memorable years.

10 more years

It's a done deal and let's celebrate! A new lease has been signed meaning the Syracuse Crunch will be playing at the War Memorial arena for another ten years. Good news for all of us hockey fans and for youth hockey. Crunch experiences have delivered some of the most memorable

times for our kids. A game in the afternoon, followed by a pizza party and a Kodak moment with Al. After the purple uniformed parade up the stairs to take over a section in the stands, there's little time to sit back, relax and take in the game. You've got to gather the kids, parade them back down the stairs, get suited and laced up. Just when you think you've got it all timed out with a few minutes to spare, it never fails. Nature calls. You asked them, HOW many times before they got all their gear on? All that tension melts away as soon as the kids take to the grand ice and you listen to the cheers from what seems like an NHL-sized crowd. All cheering for our kids. Always a spectacular thrill.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hull of a Quote

Brett Hull is now a member of hockey's most exclusive club. In typical Hull fashion during his Hall of Fame induction speech Monday he said:

"I accept this honor for all those playing pickup, beer league and senior hockey, who never got the opportunity that I did. For every mom up at 5 (a.m.), who drives to practice . . . every dad working overtime to buy equipment and a pair of tickets to take his kids to an NHL game."

Hull, now a Hall of Famer and no wonder he has so many fans!

Friday, November 6, 2009


While the boy to girl ratio on my daughter's mite team remains 18 to 1, that doesn't seem to bother her one bit. She's been with some of these boys since before they knew how to add and subtract. She parades down the rink hall just like them with a hockey stick in one hand. The other clenched fist lugs 10 pounds of gear stuffed into a bag almost as big as her into a smelly locker room. She thinks of her teammates as extended brothers who chide her when she misses a pass and fist bump her when she scores. When suited up in her protective pads, it's tough to tell her apart from all the boys, save for that tell-tale ponytail. She loves the game and playing with the boys, but she has never been thrilled with the big, bulky, dark and conservative look she inherited from her big brother. Not that she's looking to be a fashionista on the ice, but she doesn't care to always look like one of the boys. That tough-guy image is what most envision when they think of hockey, but I bet you're like me and can't help but have a soft spot in the heart whenever you see a fierce little girl with brightly-colored laces, gloves and a pink stick battling for the puck with the boys. It's a sight that shouts; Plenty of room for girls! They've so often proved they have their place on the ice.

According to USA Hockey, in 2008, nearly 60,000 women were registered and this number does not typically include girls playing for high school or college hockey teams who aren't required to register with the organization. Hockey is also becoming one of the fastest -growing women's sports at the collegiate level. Here in Central New York, you don't have to look far to find proof of that. Syracuse University, with its storied history of athletic promise, has devoted resources to a women's ice hockey team under the helm coach Paul Flanagan. SU research showed a groundswell of athletes in our area that could be recruited to play Division 1 hockey and true to the research, SU has recruited some very talented young women.
Businesses are recognizing this growing segment of the sport with more choices and better selections of shirts, jerseys and equipment with a femine flare. Among the online stores that saw the need to fill a deep void is I was curious about the business that so creatively packages hockey in a very positive way for girls. So, I contacted the company and discovered a very cool story. Based in South Portland, Maine, this business was founded by a pair of hockey moms who teamed up with hockey legend Cammi Granato to create a product line exclusively for girls. Founder Justine Carlisle was happy to answer my questions and I've posted her responses below. Justine says by offering hockey gear designed just for girls, they hope to reinforce that hockey is just as much a girls sport. They also hope to encourage more girls to pick up a stick and give hockey a try. A great goal to have because I know my daughter wouldn't mind having a few sisters on her team.
Justine, thanks for taking the time out for Syracuse Hockey Moms Network. We all know how hockey has long had the image of being a "tough guy" sport tailored to boys. Now that it's becoming more common to see girls strap on hockey skates, do you think girls are finally feeling more comfortable about claiming this as their sport too and how do you think your products have come into play ?
I think hockey is still evolving. We started BelaHockey because we felt it is intimidating for many young girls to start a sport that has been associated as a “boy’s sport” for a long time. There has been tremendous growth in the participation of girls and women in the sport over the past ten years and we believe it is just the beginning of the trend. We hope that by providing products made exclusively for girls – it will help reinforce the message (especially to young girls) that hockey is indeed a sport for them too.

What are you hearing from girls and parents about the hockey line you offer?
We receive emails frequently (mostly from moms and dads) about the products we offer. They have generally found us because they were searching on the web for something special for their daughter that plays hockey. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They are excited to see a company catering to their girls and many have commented on how they too noticed this market was missing for their daughters.

What are your most popular items?
Our most popular products are our Katie Kaps and hockey sticks. The Katie Kap is a cotton/lycra headband that girls can wear under their helmets to help keep their hair out of their eyes. We heard from many coaches and parents before we developed the product that this was very frustrating for female players on the ice. The design for the Kap was inspired by Cammi’s niece who had used a t-shirt sleeve to keep her hair out of her eyes.
Our sticks are big sellers too because they are completely unique. You can also have them personalized with your name and number. The girls love that!

What are some of the hot trends in hockey gear for girls right now? Are you testing out some new designs?
We have many new products in the works. We are about to introduce a new backpack. It should be on our website in a week. The backpack has adjustable stick holders. It is great for organizing gear and clothing for travel tournaments and games. We are also introducing a line of red, white and blue products prior to the Olympics in Vancouver. We will be offering jerseys, Katie Kaps, skate socks, and hockey socks in patriotic colors.
Lastly, we are working on the design for an intermediate/women’s stick. We have had a lot of requests from women players and hope to have something for them next season

What kind of rewards have you enjoyed since starting BelaHockey?
The whole process has been a whirlwind. The idea for Bela came to us three years ago when our children started playing hockey and we discovered that there just weren’t any products encouraging girls to play. It started out as an idea and before we knew it we were traveling with Cammi to Chicago, LA, and Denver to promote the company at NHL hockey games. We have had many wonderful moments but I have to say the emails from families and photos of the girls wearing our gear are the most satisfying.
Thanks Justine and I have exciting news to share with all of you. Cammi Granato has also agreed to be interviewed for the blog and I'll be working on putting that article together for you soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recommendations to Prevent Spread of H1N1 for USA Hockey Programs & Coaches

Subject: Important Information for USA Hockey Programs and Coaches
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dear Program Administrator/Coach
We’ve worked with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Stuart, to provide you with pertinent regarding the H1N1 virus, including recommendations to reduce the likelihood of spreading the infection.
Specifically, USA Hockey recommends:
Provide individual water bottles for players; do not share water bottles
Regularly wash hands
Clean workout gear for each practice/competition
Keep gloves on during the traditional handshake with opponents
You should be aware that symptoms of the virus include: fever (102 degrees fahrenheit or greater), cough, muscle aches, runny nose, headache or sore threat, with the potential for more serious complications, including pneumonia.
Those affected by the H1N1 virus typically have been children and young adults.
Transmission of the virus may occur from the day before the onset of symptoms and during the five to seven days that the symptoms are present. Infected individuals should stay home until signs and symptoms have resolved, with no fever present for at least 24 hours. The 24-hour no-fever timeline should be achieved naturally, without the aid of fever reducing medications.
Additional information regarding H1N1 is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by visiting
Best wishes for a successful season.


I would suggest a squirt Gatorade bottle with their names written in Sharpie(tm)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Tricks and Treats of a Hockey Weekend

Saturday's sunrise was at 7:38am. No need to glance at weather calenders or newspapers to know that. We hockey parents so often witness the break of dawn as we set out, determined to make the goal of getting to the game on time. Always trying to find that silver lining, I must confess, it can be a treat to catch a gorgeous sunrise with very little trafffic, other than the big rigs alongside you trying to make their delivery deadlines.

The other treat of an early morning game when you're the parent of a mite is the tranquility of the locker room. The kids are bleary eyed and almost trance-like and you can slip their pads and skates on with complete ease and no complaints. Especially if you have a kid who has to have their gear on, in a certain order, or it's just not going to feel right!

Play early and you've got the rest of the day to enjoy. That's if you only have just one, who is young. It becomes very tricky when you've got two youth hockey players and your older one has two games scheduled for the day. With a mid-afternoon game falling on Halloween night comes the challenge of getting a decent dinner together and keeping the peace with two kids excited to make the most of their planned night with friends. Pizza, macaroni or maybe we should give

Amy's meatloaf recipe a try tonight?

As for action on the ice this weekend? It was a treat to see the mites make some progress in their concept of this game. They've got a long way to go, but they're passing the puck more and not missing quite as many passes. They're making some good attempts to play positions and looking a lot less like little swarms of bees gravitating toward the puck all at once. I only heard parents yell "guys you're on the same team," maybe once or twice at the most this weekend.

Baby steps, or baby strokes I should say.

The Bantam boys had their work cut out for them this weekend. The morning match against Camillus was a very physical game and the Camillus team outhustled our team. In the afternoon Whitestown proved to the kids, you can never get too comfortable with any team. An easy win the first time the team played them, this weekend it was a very close game and too many penalites. It's never a treat to watch your kid take a nasty hit. I still haven't found the trick to stomaching that, no matter how many games he's played.

Of course the weekend can't end without some sort of hockey-related injury and this time we've got three on the injured list. My daughter is claiming to have a tender ankle after jumping off the metal bleachers while cheering for the big brother after the win at the very cold Crisafulli ice rink in Oswego. That was good for two extra pieces of Halloween candy and then it didn't seem to hurt so much. The son is nursing a sore thumb, with no explanation of how that happened.
The husband chimes in with complaints about his big toe now being big and swollen after getting run over by..... a hockey bag!! I think he'll survive, but let's just say it was a long ride home after the hockey game in Oswego. Perhaps a good steak dinner tonight will help the injuries heal a bit faster and that would be a nice treat for mom, the only one without a hockey-related injury this weekend.