Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes to all for an awesome 2012!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey N Heels

By Lisa Ovens

The room is pleasantly decorated with Christmas sparkle. Nigel Kirwan, the Lightning’s video coach greets us warmly. He then proceeds to breakdown last month's controversial  Lightning/Flyers game. He speaks candidly as we watch the video presentation he’s prepared. A question is asked about the current woes of the Bolts. Again, Kirwan is open and honest about the areas of concern. 

Now, if this were Canuck fans seated in the media room with Canuck video coach, Darryl Williams, well, those Knuckleheads would be peeing their pants!! My point is, Canucks fans just don’t get this kind of team access in Vancouver. Did I mention the fans in the media room were all women?

Welcome to the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey N Heels event, the Grand Daddy of hockey events for women. It was several years ago I figured out that the Lightning were the very first NHL team to host an event like this (the first one was 10 years ago), so you can imagine how happy I was to be there.

The time spent with Nigel Kirwan was just one of several presentations the Lightning had planned for their dedicated female fans. Before we were broken down into groups, we started the evening at the foot of the new digital theatre organ, one of several recent additions to St. Pete’s Times Forum.

Organist, Ray Horsely demonstrated the many wonders of the organ, and, at the end of his presentation, passionately encouraged all of us to get young people into taking up the instrument. I have to admit I was mesmerized by his words (and that big ass organ’s killer sounds) and did consider a slight change of course on my life’s path in order to fit in some organ training. I, too, would love to command that thing on a giant turntable, high above the crowd, as there is nothing like the tradition of organ music at the good old hockey game. Who am I fooling, I'd be a special sound effects junky with the digital organ if given the chance!
                                           Organist, Ray Horsely

And on with the event…tours of the locker room, players lounge, training room, the cozy blade sharpening room. And with each stop we received tidbits of knowledge about the inner workings of the team: how the training room bustles with activity and is capable of mending so many types of injuries that occur during an average game. How often Steve Stamkos requires his skates to be sharpened, the unconventional hockey terminology of head coach, Guy Boucher.

                                           Super Fan, Linda is up to the task...
Mixed into the above was a chat with Dominic Moore’s wife, Katie. An athlete herself (soccer), Katie shared plenty about life with a guy who’s played on eight different teams. To sum it up…the crockpot is a key appliance in the Moore household. Katie left for her match, and former, long time ref, Don Koharski took the floor and offered some insight into the secret world of an NHL referee.

The last stop of the tour gave us some ice time with sticks, pucks and a few Lightning players (Teddy Purcell, Dominic Moore, and Matt Gilroy). Obviously this is a fan favourite activity. Who doesn’t want to be on the ice where your home team plays? I was re-united and delighted with walking around the ice with the puck on my stick. All I needed was my skates. Since the Lightning have been Hockey n Heelin’ for 10 years, it would be pretty cool to see them take it to another level by adding some skates, gloves and helmets into the mix at future events. 

During the event I made a few new hockey friends like Linda, pictured above operating the sharpener, and a fellow blogger Alexis Boucher. Her Sons of Andreychek (great name, BTW) is a good read for all things Lightning and the link is right here..

Finally, the groups gathered once again on the new outdoor party terrace for refreshments...and to pick up tickets for part two of Hockey & Heels: Thursday's night game against the Calgary Flames. Ooh, the Flames, one of my Northwest Division rivals. Gee, I wonder who I will be cheering for Thursday night?

Many thanks to event organizer, Alison Goodman, and the Tampa Bay Lightning Group Sales Department, Hockey Operations and the rest arena staff for being such wonderful hosts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Girls Just Want to Have Fun: The Mother Pluckers Music and Hockey Society in Nova Scotia do just that

 Left to right, back row: Sue Martin, Wanda White, Jane Campana, Kelly Lee, Eliza Manuel, Debbie MacDonald Gray, Janice Coyle, and Nancy (Mac) MacLean.  In front: Maria Andersen, Ellen Gaudet and Corrine Boudreau

by Jan Snyder

In Nova Scotia, as in the rest of Canada, hockey is the national pastime.  Eleven Mother Puckers, all mothers aged 40 to 59 who play hockey, enjoyed each other’s company so much that the frivolity on the ice carried into music after they unlaced their skates.  This is the story of how the Mother Puckers hockey team morphed into the Mother Pluckers Music and Hockey Society.

In December of 2010, Mac and Jane, both being new at the music game, got together to jam.  They decided they wanted to play Bye Bye Love at the annual Christmas party they held in conjunction with a men’s hockey team.

Jane had only been playing keyboard for a year, Mac was just beginning to learn how to play the drums and neither could sing in tune. They were in desperate need of a guitar playing singer. After a game of hockey one day all the players met for lunch and that's when they discovered that Ellen Gaudet could sing and play the guitar. It was an easy snare.   

They met the following week after hockey and sat chatting for over an hour. They had so much in common and the conversation flowed.  Eventually they got down to business. Mac only brought a snare drum at that point, but it was enough to keep the beat. As it turned out, Ellen was already an experienced musician, but at that time Jane didn't know how to adapt the beat of the song to the singer. The result was a disastrous session and they couldn't get though the song. They found it very disappointing. They kept at it, though, because with a name like Mother Puckers, it’s gotta be good!  Things took off after that first practice as more of the hockey players joined the ‘jam sessions.’

“After what I thought was a particularly good rendition of Bye, Bye Love, I turned around to see Janice with her fingers in her ears,” Jane said. ‘You guys are awful,’ she said, ‘You're all on a different beat and Jane is playing too fast. You need to start again and listen to each other.’

"She was right, but she also proved in that pivotal moment that she had a good ear and wasn't afraid to say what she thought. Because she didn't have an instrument to play and we didn't know yet that she could sing, we appointed her band director to make her feel part of the group. Little did we know at the time just how much we'd come to rely on her. It's a thankless role to keep law and order amongst 11women let alone book performances and make sure everyone has the right song list and shirt, but Janice does it all extremely well.”

Here is a recap on how the other members fell into line.  Maria took up playing the fiddle in 2008, joined the group and never looked back. Eliza, the entrepreneur, revisited the guitar and sings lead vocals. Kelly, originally a vocalist, followed in her husband’s footsteps and learned the bass guitar. Corrine, the group’s baby, and mother of two young children, is a guitarist, vocalist and song writer. Debbie came out of hockey retirement and picked up the guitar after many years away from it. Sue plays tough defense, is a vocalist and brings comedic relief to the group. Wanda, the goalie and campfire singer, thought she died and went to heaven when asked to be a part of this amazing group of women.

So now they were a band – the question was who wanted to hear them play?  The members of the Mother Pluckers came to realize that they were not only a hockey team, not only a band, but a group of similar-aged women who were helping each other through various life experiences.  All the women are givers and it didn’t take long for the idea to come to them that they could pay it forward by using their talents and entertain senior citizens. 

On May 6, 2010, they gave their very first performance at the Melville Lodge, home to Mother Pucker Sue Martin’s elderly mother, Violet. And, as they say, the rest is history.  

Being the creative women that they are, they soon hatched a plan aimed at bigger and better things.  They applied for and in July 2011, received a grant from The Nova Scotia Department of Seniors for funding to promote Positive Aging throughout Nova Scotia

On October 20, 2011, they rented ice and invited seniors to watch them play hockey.  Two nursing homes provided transportation for their residents, and other seniors the group had performed for previously came along as well to watch a game between the Mother Puckers and a team comprised of all-too-willing volunteers.  Lunch was provided for the spectators, and was followed by a performance by the newly-minted Mother Pluckers, post-hockey hair and all.

The Mother Pluckers Song Book consists of standards that their audience knows and likes to sing along with, like “Red River Valley” and “Tennessee Waltz.”  The nursing home residents seem to come alive and become engaged, especially when the Mother Pluckers sing and play.

According to their website, their mission is simple. “We are role models for positive aging through our music and hockey with lots of fun and laughter.”

But they never lose sight of the hockey component to all this.  A recent claim to fame includes being kicked off the ice this past summer, only to see Pittsburgh Penguin, Sidney Crosby skate on after them as he continued his rehab from a concussion. “There was Sid leaning on the same boards I’d crashed into just a little while before,” Mac said.  

The Mother Plucker gigs continue.  In September they played during the Opening Ceremonies of the Nova Scotia +55 Games.  All eleven participated in the tournament, but on different teams.  Hockey and music continue to be intertwined. “The grant allows us to plan bigger road trips, and we did twenty-two in 2011 before receiving the grant,” Janice said.  

Even as they look out for one another, they are also spreading happiness to the elderly.

To learn more about the Mother Puckers/Mother Pluckers or to follow their journey, visit their website: 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Four Goalies and a Planker

Well, almost planking. I had to miss most of tonight's Predators/Canucks tilt due to technical difficulties (at least I have the Panthers/Kings game on) but what little I saw I loved. Nothing like a crazy game between these two playoff rivals: Predators win 6-5, getting the go ahead goal in the dying minutes of the third, all four goalies saw ice time, and Canuck, Ryan Kesler has a moment on the top of the goal net!

Here's link to the video so you can see just how Kesler landed on the net, and the curious way he disembarked...

Canucks/Preds Game: Kesler's "Starsky and Hutch Slide" highlight

Wow, the Panthers/Kings game just finished, with the Panthers losing 2-1. This marks the first time I've seen the Panthers lose since I arrived in Florida.

It's 1:12am EST, and I can finally go to bed now that the hockey is done.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy American Thanksgiving!!

Macy's Legendary Thanksgiving Parade: cool photos here!

Best Wishes for a Fabulous Thanksgiving Weekend, Everyone :o)

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Back!!!!!!

By Lisa Ovens

Not long ago I read the Vancouver Canucks partnered with Flight Centre, offering special travel packages for Canucks away games. Finally the Canucks caught up to the legions of Canuck fans already taking advantage of cheaper and more readily available tickets in NHL cities south of the Canadian border. Believe it or not, but you could spend less on a trip to San Jose for a Canuck game than you would if you bought the pricey home game experience.

So, here I am in sunny Florida waiting for the Canucks to arrive. No, It wasn't a Canuck package, I just made up my own package! I arrived a few months early (the Canucks don't roll through the sunshine state until January 9th and 10th, 2012), but that doesn't mean I won't be looking for hockey while I wait.

 My first hockey field trip was a simple one: see a Canucks/Flames game in a pub. The game started at 9:30pm EST. first major adjustment in Florida is the time zone. After all these years languishing in the West, enjoying many 7pm starts, I am finally experiencing the “Eastern Way” so many displaced fans experience when trying to catch their west coast NHL teams play on the opposite coast.

Lucky for me I found a nearby pub called Duffy's. I wandered by it one day, and asked about the NHL Centre Ice Package. Yes, they said, we have it! Great...I'm set. Now, I just have to be awake and up for some late night hockey :o) A few nights later I headed to the pub. I arrived early to check out the other games on the screens. This would be a prudent move so I would be pumped up and awake for the game. 

I went alone as my gracious host is a single mom and this game time is waaay past their bedtime. I am definitely on the look out for a light night hockey buddy here (I'm in Palm Beach County), so I will keep you posted on any new developments in that department.

Things were going good. The hostess sat me right in front of a nice screen and said she'd put the game on that screen just for me. Then the server brought me the beer I ordered, and he gave me two. I am informed it's Happy Hour all night long at Duffy's, and...well, I'm quite happy about that. Finally it is game time, and no game appears on my TV. There is a flurry of activity: remotes commanding from outstretched arms, discussions, more remote pointing, a little paperwork, and then finally the manager came over with the bad news...

Manager: We're terribly sorry, but although it says your Canucks game is on channel 76, the game is just not on.
Lisa: Dang.

Now, it's not like they can offer me a free beer for my disappointment; they are already giving me free ones. But one thing Duffy's does have is free wireless Internet, and being the well equipped writer I am, I whip out my netbook. Then I called Pittsburgh Penguins writer, Jan Snyder in Houston, Texas while I waited for little Sugarsteps to fire up.

Oh, just by the by, I am very impressed with the cell phone service here: I can call anywhere in the United States and not pay any long distance charges with my US Pay As You Go Cell phone. Man, Canadian Cell Phone providers are ripping us off up there. Anyhoo, back to my story...

I've got Jan on the phone and explain my situation and she says...
Jan: "The game is on channel 76....I'm watching it right now."
Lisa: "This is so unfair."

Finally I am online and I find a stream of the game. The Canucks are winning 4-0. Yay! I did try, the officially website for your Vancouver Canucks first, because they sometimes stream the games for a small fee...but only for residents of British Columbia and the Yukon. Considering the sheer number of Canuck fans around the world. this surprises me to no end. They could be making more with this particular income stream, instead of handing the ever growing big bill to Canucks season ticket holders every summer. But, I digress.

I watched the game until Sugarsteps's battery ran dry. It was last call. I asked the server if, hypothetically, I were able to see the end of this game, would you keep the pub open for me since it is so gosh darn late? He said yes, they would. I'm thinking, good, I am going to come back here and try this again, especially for a 10pm puck drop, and I'll keep them all up late with me!

Contrary to popular Canadian belief, there is plenty of hockey in the State of Florida, so please stay tuned for more hockey reports from the Sunshine State :o)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Starting....

                                       Photograph by: Andrew Lavigne,

by Lisa Ovens

And just like that, a season begins again. But it feels like I am not ready for it just yet. June 15th wasn't that long ago. I'm still processing the Game Seven loss, damn it! I'm kidding. I went to the very first pre-season Canucks game on Sept. 20th, and I achieved closure. I can't remember a time being so relaxed watching a hockey game as I was that night. Now it's all about the points again.

Honestly speaking I have so much to catch up on after the brief off season. I, for one have been making some changes in my life recently, so hockey's been on the back burner. It still is there, but not for much longer as the good old hockey game returns to my nightly line up.

So, if you are like me, and have been MIA on hockey's radar... the following link will take you to a killer article covering what you need to know about the new season, including firsts, milestones, stats, big games, and more. Just click below and you'll be primed.'s season opening article

The distraction, the's all coming back :o) about that Ryan Kesler ESPN photo?

                                          Photograph by: Alex Cayley,

As hockey fans, we always want  to see more hockey exposure in American media...and doesn't Kesler do just that? It's the annual ESPN Magazine's Body Issue, and hockey has more than a little face time gracing the pages. It has a little shoulder, thigh and butt time, too. Man, skating does wonders, doesn't it?

As my recent mega "To Do List" finally dwindles down, I look forward to hanging out here in the Lounge more. I want to thank readers for being patient with me after a mostly silent off season. I also would like to wish everyone and their fave teams good luck working through another eight months until the last two teams are standing, yet again.

Let's Go, Hockey! Year 95 and counting!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In Sympathy...

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell, "Hallowed Ground"

It's been a shocking day as news of Yaroslavl, Russia's tragic jet crash and the loss of life spread around the world wide hockey community. 

With hope that the deceased Lokomotiv players, hockey operations staff and airline crew did not suffer in their final moments of life on this earth.

May the families, the friends, the KHL and Lokomotiv hockey fans find the strength to cope with a loss so sudden and so overwhelming.

                                                     with sympathy,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From the Archives: Necessary Evil Part Two

A previously published article by Jan Snyder for


 by Jan Snyder

Kevin Pollock is an NHL referee, one of those hard-working guys who enable all of the fans to enjoy hockey games. Without them, there would be no games. Whether we always agree with their decisions or not, they all try to do the best they can to keep order and above all, ensure that the contests are played as fairly as possible.

Although there are two officials for each game, the refs aren’t assigned as pairs. Over the course of the season, they will work with a counterpart more than once, but not because the schedule falls that way.

“It’s not that bad because over the course of the season, it only takes one or two games to get an idea of what your partner’s tendencies are,” Pollock said. “We are really conscious of getting a team effort implemented, so we sit down in the dressing room before the game and talk about it. Even though we try to referee two as one, so we both cover the ice, we reassure each other that if one of us sees a penalty, we’ll call it, even if it’s not in our end. The betterment of the game is the most important thing to us.”

The NHL has been working with a two referee system for seven seasons, which means there are four officials on the ice in addition to the players. How do they manage to stay out of the way of play and players while the game is in progress and still see what’s going on?

“We try to stay out of the way but with the speed of the game now and the way the rules are being called in the neutral zone with no red line, you’re always going to miss a call here or there. It’s an unbelievably fast game now. Sometimes the defensemen get the puck and get rid of it as fast as they can, high off the glass and you just hope you’re not in the line of fire. There aren’t a lot of chances to get out of the way. Some of it is luck and some is positioning.”

Pollock doesn’t wear a shield, although many refs have added them. His wife asks him why he doesn’t wear one – and he doesn’t really have a very good answer for her! But he needs a good look at the ice to be sure he sees everything he needs to be focusing on during the battle.

“Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, but if you work hard, limit your mistakes and treat the players and coaches with respect, all you’re asking back is they give you a fair shake and understand where you’re coming from and treat you with respect as well. I believe overall they understand how tough a job we have.”

Still they do the job, watching the play and the players, dodging errant pucks and sticks, and enduring boos from the audience who may not be happy with their calls, and getting together to talk about calls that may be controversial. You may have noticed the refs “huddling up” a little more this season. That is by design, but they don’t do it unless it’s really necessary and they try not to interrupt the flow of the game. They are trying to develop more of a team concept among the officials.

“If there is a play happening that we’re not 100% sure about, we come together and make the right call for the betterment of the game. The puck moves so quickly you might want to ask everyone, ‘Did you have a good look?’ Generally the right call is made.”

Wouldn’t you, the fan, like to be a fly on the ice, so to speak, and hear what’s being said during a game? What does a player have to do or say to be penalized or thrown out?

“We say as officials we don’t want to take emotion out of the game. Sometimes a player is going really hard and working really hard and he may think he got fouled or think he didn’t foul the other player. If it’s just emotion and what he says is just about the call, we tend to try and let him vent a bit and steer clear. But if they get personal and it’s not about the call, we basically say, enough’s enough.”

Pollock's  ultimate goals involve working on the biggest stages.

“Ultimately, like a player, I’d like to do a Stanley Cup final. Everyone on our staff is striving for that. That’s part of what motivates us and makes us competitive among ourselves. If the NHL continues to play in the Olympics, I’d like to be there one day too.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From the Archives…Necessary Evil: Part One

Hey hockey fans…Lisa here. I am busy preparing for a Fall/Winter “Good Will Hockey” Tour, so I thought I’d rummage around the archives of the old Lisa’s Lounge and post a previously published article. I found a fabulous" two parter" written by H&’s very own Jan Snyder covering a popular hockey fan topic: NHL referees.

Forget Secret Lives of Hockey about the Secret Lives of NHL referees? From columnist Jan Snyder, part one of Necessary Evil takes a look at the on ice officials, including an interview with current NHL zebra, Kevin Pollock.

Necessary Evil: Part One

Kevin Pollock            photo courtesy of Kevin Pollock

By Jan Snyder

When you’re watching a hockey game, do you ever think about the referees? I mean other than when you get angry with them over a call or non-call? Did you ever wonder about them or what their lives are like? Where would the games be without them? There simply wouldn’t be any! Someone has to keep order on the ice and that’s the job of the referees.

I recently spent some time talking with NHL ref Kevin Pollock. #33 in your programs, Kevin Pollock has been an NHL referee since the 1999/2000 season. He has been involved in 68 playoff games and more than 400 regular season games. In 2003, he was one of the refs at the NHL game played outdoors in Edmonton at the Heritage Classic.

He was gracious enough to talk to me for awhile on one of his rare off days. We talked about some of the aspects of his career and I thought you might be interested in a little insight into a side of the game we don’t think about much as fans.

For instance, did you know that the refs make their own travel arrangements through a travel service and book their own hotel rooms? When the games are over, they are usually unable to get a flight to their next destination because they fly commercially and there are few fights after 10:00 p.m. or so when they finish for the night.

“It’s not all bad, but after a game you can’t sleep and end up being up until 1:00 a.m. or so,” Pollock said. “It would be nice to jump on a plane and get to the next city because you’re still awake. We have some very early morning trips to the airport because of security.”

We tend to take the games for granted and always assume, correctly, that the refs will be in place at game time. But we don’t see what goes on behind the scenes when weather causes changes in plans. These guys have to keep a sharp eye on the weather and try to stay ahead of problems, but they can’t always do that.

“Last week I was in Colorado on Saturday and was supposed to be going home on Sunday. But then a snowstorm hit the east coast. Brad Watson [another ref] was in Detroit trying to get to St. Louis. I got a call early Sunday morning saying you have to get to St. Louis and do the game because Brad can’t get there. Things like that arise and we all deal with it.”

One thing the refs don’t have to deal with is celebrity. Since the names were taken off the backs of their shirts and the helmets were added, no one recognizes them after the game – which is probably a good thing! 

“I always say we’re the “necessary evil” of the game. It doesn’t matter what call you make, half the crowd agrees with it and the other half doesn’t. We take pride in being keepers of the game and it doesn’t matter to us if Team A or Team B wins, as long as it’s a fair game. It is a fast game and calls are missed but they aren’t missed intentionally. If we had our way, we’d be perfect but there’s never been a perfect ref and there never will be.”

Pollock says the new technology makes their job even harder because those of us watching on TV see the play from so many angles, but not necessarily the one the ref has and that is all he can go by.

“In the ‘70s and ‘80s there might have been only one or two cameras following the play. Now there are probably eight to10 and they’re all at different angles - they’re in the net, in the boards. I wish they’d show the camera angle from what the ref is able to see and you’d get a little better perspective on why the call was made or not made.”

But often times the technology will prove that the correct call was made by the ref. With the speed of the game and the number of bodies on the ice, it’s amazing that they see all that they do.
NEXT TIME... PART 2: More inside info from Kevin on how the referees work together on the ice and keep the game moving

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kelser Pot Pie!

By Lisa Ovens

One day, during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, British Columbians received a neat little packet in the mail, filled with recipes and tips on saving power. Local celebrities dubbed “Team Power Smart Leaders” offered up some home cooking fun for folks around the province.This type of marketing couldn’t be done in Canada without including a hockey hero, so the packet features Vancouver Canuck, and 2011 Selke Trophy winner, Ryan Kesler.

Kesler’s Chicken Pot Pie is a simple recipe for even the most kitchen-shy hockey fans. Also the power saving tip is a good one: keep the bottom of the heat sources for cooking in your kitchen (burners on a stove, bottom of the toaster oven) free of crumbs and burnt food. "They absorb heat that would other wise go into cooking your food."
Here are the ingredients for Kesler Pot Pie…

Now, considering the fact we are currently fighting a “War on Sodium”, it might be a good idea to substitute that big ol’ can of condensed cream of chicken soup with a low sodium version made from scratch, or at the very least, read the can’s label for the daily percentage of sodium stat and pick the brand with the lowest number.

As a suggestion, you may pair the Kesler Pot Pie with a nice bottle of wine from Bure Family Wines and have yourself a hockey themed Chicken Thursday.

Hey, wait a minute, I just remembered something. My mom gave me a recipe calendar circa 1997, featuring recipes from NHL Hockey moms. If I remember correctly, Calgary Flame captain, Jerome Iginla’s mom had a chicken recipe. Wow…this could be a face off/bake off of Northwest Division rival proportions!!!

Must find the recipe calendar in my giant box of hockey stuff (that would be my office) Stayed tuned for the hockey related chicken recipe face off! Only at Lisa’s Lounge ;o)

 Become a member of BC Hydro's Team Power Smart. Visit

Sunday, July 24, 2011

High Flyin' Winnipeg

By Lisa Ovens

Isn't it nice to read hockey news out of Winnipeg, and the news isn't about the city lacking an NHL team? Remember those days? All the debating, the number crunching, the complaining, the conspiracies. Those days are gone forever. The Winnipeg Jets have presented their new logo, and now all we have to is like it...or not, and fill up comment sections and message boards with our opinions, debates and complaints.

I like it. However, I imagine it might look more smashing as a crest on a thick,cozy, dark jacket rather than a hockey jersey. But that's just me. The circle logo seems like something Ralph Lauren would cook up to tack onto a fall/winter line of pilot inspired outer wear. Well, Jets fans...Happy Shopping!

In other Winnipeg news...the ten year old singer (the one discovered by Lady Gaga) signed a record deal in the Philippines. Maria Aragon of Winnipeg signed with Star Records. I'm sure she's going to have a ball recording her first record! We may see Maria sing the anthem at Jets games this winter. Wow!

Now that summer has finally arrived in Vancouver, I best be getting back to it.

Happy Off-Season everybody :o)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prince William Tries Hockey!

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Hockey Off Season Blues?

By Lisa Ovens

Okay, here we are in July. We are just about as far away from hockey season as we can get. Are you blue? Are you missing the hockey routine?

After such a disastrous end to the Vancouver Canuck's season, I took a look around my home, and crikey, do I need to get some things organized! So, if you are feeling lost during the off-season, be like me and...organize!

If you are a writer, you know how the writing can really pile up. If you are a hoarder, you know how much you can hoard. Now put the two together, and you've got me! Recently I opened up a container filled with my words, going back to the tender age of 15 years old. I'll be honest, I was really frightened at times. Reading my teen aged fueled writing is freaky. Stupidest. Poetry. Ever. However, there are some short stories, stream of consciousness ramblings and bits of abstract comedy that are completely salvageable.

Mixed into a few decades of writing were other items of interest;  the things that I would stick on bulletin boards or fridges. Like the Life In Hell cartoon pictured above (copyright 1988 Matt Groening). So far, I have uncovered five of them - all cut out from the Georgia Straight. I laughed my butt off reading them the other day, especially the one above (if you can't see it right and need clarity, there is a heart drawn on the paper suspended in front of the little fellow). Some aspects of my sense of humor hasn't changed!

And that's my post for now: if you are missing hockey...try a little Tuesday night organizing and downsize what every's been collecting in your closets and drawers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Canada!!!

Happy 144th Birthday, Canada!!!!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Holiday Long Weekend :o)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hockey and Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra Featuring Wynton Marsalis

By Lisa Ovens

On Sunday evening I was very lucky to visit Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre to catch the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (Thanks Cousin Jen!).

I love live music. I was a dedicated band student during my junior high and high school years. I've always had an appreciation for Jazz and Classical music, and I realized this past Sunday that I don't blend  those genres enough into the ambient, techno (and occassional Rage Against the Machine) music listening sessions that take place in the comfort of my own home.

So how does hockey find a place in this little music post? After going through two solid months of playoff hockey, and then a few weeks dominated by the fallout of the post season, I viewed this Jazz Festival outing as a welcome diversion: a evening without hockey :o)

But that ended up not happening. Settled in our seats, I overheard the group of guys taking their seats behind us, and one guy says as he sat down "Okay, which end are the Canucks attacking? Is this the end?" Haha...I had to chuckle to myself on that one.

The performance began, and five arrangements in, Wynton Marsalis takes to the microphone to introduce the the next piece of music...he says "This next one is an arrangement by Herbie Hancock called The Riot."

Instantly, a round of quiet laughter opened up, and then gained momentum as the audience enjoyed a spontaneous and ironic moment. Marsalis smiled at first; it seemed as though he was unaware of the reason behind our laughter, and then said "You got me." And then  he commented, refering to the June 15th, 2011 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, "That was a mini riot. Watts, that was a riot". He paused, and then said, "Google it".

The musical highlight for me was Single Petal of a Rose (composed by Duke Ellington in the late Fifties for Queen Elizabeth II) I sat with my eyes closed as they filled with tears. Just a bass clarinet and a piano. It was so beautiful, I didn't want it to end; my head begging for it to come in a "to go" container just so I could carry it with me, bringing it out at future times when I have no words to say., sweet music. The andidote for the hockey void that inevitably  comes along this time of year.

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival continues this week. Click here for more information.

The NHL off- season continues this week as well, with Free Agency...will it be a frenzy?? Here's TSN's Free Agency tracker page

Happy listening, everyone :o)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canucks/Bruins: Game Seven....THIS IS IT!!!

   Faith is to believe what you do not yet see


 the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

- Saint Augustine

Go Canucks GO!!!!

- Lisa Ovens

...Enjoy the game, hockey fans...this is it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Canucks/Bruins Game Five: Cheers to Those Who Keep the Faith

By Lisa Ovens

This was one crazy week. I wrote three columns and didn't finish one of them. It was difficult; the more I felt, the more I wrote and then new stories would develop leading me to one conclusion: revise my latest book and re-launch in the fall!

So this column is just a photo essay of life in Vancouver leading up to Game Five of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, starting with the photo above - The ticket to Game Five story. And it was a story. After two spectacular "Canuckian Losses" in Boston, Vancouver skidded into a tale spin and Game Five ticket prices tumbled. It was a news story because the local media love to devote heavy minutes to ticket prices. It's what they do.

For me I was really disappointed, especially in the fans interviewed (one chick in particular) who said she wouldn't pay more than $100 to see the game, and another man who said he would only pay $75 to see the game. That was harsh. Silly non believers is my nice way of describing the two. Don't they know anything can happen in the playoffs, and it usually does?

For me, I always felt this would be a long series, and wasn't too flustered by the those two blow outs in Boston. I felt bad for Roberto Luongo. Once again he was being nailed to the cross. I wish I could go give him a hug and pat his head saying..."you'll get it done Lou, you'll show them." 

Then less than one hour before puck drop, I came across this sign in a little Yaletown Park...

Some sweet soul who's keepin the faith made a sign and posted it in this pretty little greenway in Yaletown. Who knows, maybe they printed up a bunch and peppered the city with the love. Then another sign...

Until this thing is completely over, like so many that are keeping' the faith, I couldn't agree more with this kid's sign. To the cranky pants fans out's really simple. But you know there might have been a few non believers taking up a few little pockets in this crowd...

They said there was one hundred thousand extra people in downtown Vancouver for Game Five. This looks like the 2010 Winter Olympics all over again. Or more recently, the royal wedding in London, England. If the Canucks can win this thing, they will be Royalty in this town, and maybe even parts of the Canada (certainly not in Alberta ;o)  Yep...could all the Canuck haters right now think about the first and third stars in the photo below as royalty?? Tee Hee

The people that know me know I predicted the Canucks would win Game Five. I believed they could do it. I also believed the fans would show up, big at that game, keeping the faith with a wall of cheer. It was what the Canucks needed and the crowd in Roger's Arena delivered. Then, they got to do more of this on the outside...

My cousin, Jen didn't want me to walk into the crowds on Granville and Robson. I was a little tipsy from green bottled goodness, but I decided to walk through the streets to find my way home.

 So Canuck fans, especially those of you that have recently joined the party,  the Boston Bruins are just as willing to win this thing as the Canucks are. The Boston Bruins will not stop until this thing is over. The Stakes are as high as they come. We can believe our team will win the Cup. But if that doesn't happen in Game Six, please hang in there and keep the faith, like the rest of us do. It beats the hell out of sulking and complaining to the media.

Game Six in Boston on Monday.
The Cup will be in the House.
I don't know how I am going to sleep until then.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Don Cherry Suit Watch: Reversal in Game Three

That's one freaky striped jacket...went very well with the freaky play of the Canucks Game Three game. Loud bold pattern did us no favors as we lost 8-1.

The Canucks are now 10-3 when Don sports to the Bold and the Brash. Still no sign of his subdued Bruin inspired emsembles this series (Canucks are 3-5 when Grapes goes low key)...will tonight be the night he represents???

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Canucks/Bruins Games One and Two: Things that Sting

by Lisa Ovens

I guess I am only thinking about one type of stinging feeling, and that's what the Bruins could be feeling after experiencing not one, but two painful losses to the Vancouver Canucks. Now they are heading home to Boston down 2 in this series... all I can say is "Ouch!"

Analysts often describe hockey games as " a battle of inches". But in the case of the first two games in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, it's been about a "battle of seconds." In Game One, it was all about the timing: neither team was on the scoreboard until Raffi Torres scored with 18 seconds left in the third period. A tall order for the Bruins to try and score, forcing overtime in such a small amount of time.

Then Game Two...after holding a 2-1 lead, the Bruins found themselves tied with the Canucks after Daniel Sedin's goal half way through the third period. Any opportunity to win in over time was thwarted by Alex Burrows scoring in spectacular fashion, just 11 seconds into the extra frame. Another OUCH!!!

I get the feeling the Boston Bruins haven't realized where they are yet: they are in the freaking Stanley Cup Final! Earlier this season I heard former NHL'er turned game presenter, Ray Ferraro talking about what it is like to play in huge games. I can't remember what playoff game he was describing, but he said for the first half of his icetime , it was like he wasn't even aware of what he was doing, or something of that nature. I expect it will become a reality for the Bruins once they get back to their home rink, and their home fans.

Now, as a Canuck fan, I wonder what things would be like for the city of Vancouver if the tables were turned right now, and we were down 2 games in this final round. It would be panic attack central! However, we'd also be looking for the little things to build on, and after Game Two for the Bruins there are definitely some things to take away from the OT loss. They scored two goals. They converted on a power play. They had a really strong second period. The games have been close on the scoreboard.

The Canucks have not traveled for a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to being on the road again. After watching the news this evening I learned there are plenty of Canuck fans already in Beantown showing their support. It'll be San Jose all over again!

Other Notes...

Happy 10th Birthday, Fin!  Way back, my niece was a winner in the Name the Vancouver Canucks Mascot Contest. I say a winner, as other contestants offered up "Fin" in their entries. I am Fin's biggest fan, even when he "bites" my head. He's the Canucks true blue, one and only mascot (sorry Green Guys) and I love him dearly :o)

Lisa and Fin

Speaking of the Green Men...

Now they have a travel sponsor and will be in Boston for Games Three and Four. I hope their travel sponsor also bucked up for travel medical insurance...just in case!

Don Cherry Suit Watch Update

Bold, blue and with a leafy patterned, the jacket wins again! Canucks are now 10-2 when Cherry rocks the busy jackets. However, his love of the Bruins will most likely prevail while he reports from Boston. His "Bruin Tribute" looks often involve a one color/tone jacket, and the Canucks are 3-5 when Cherry sports the more subdued fashions. What say the jacket on Monday and Wednesday???