Week One in the Books: Montreal Undefeated

The 2011-2012 Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) season got underway Oct. 22 with Brampton visiting the defending Clarkson Cup champion Montreal Stars and the Toronto Furies visiting the Boston Blades.

The 2011 Clarkson Cup winning Montreal Stars have started the 2012 season undefeated

The CWHL’s no. 1 draft pick, Meghan Agosta, scored twice as the Stars defeated Brampton 4-1. Vicki Bendus scored the lone goal for the visiting squad.  

Gigi Marvin scored in over time as the Blades took down the Furies 4-3.

All four teams were in action the following night as part of their opening weekend doubleheaders.

Once again, Brampton saw a loss at the hands of Montreal. Olympic gold medallist Caroline Ouellette had a hat trick and one assist in the 7-2 victory. Agosta added another goal and two assists.

In Boston there was another 1-goal game, this time Toronto getting the win. Britni Smith scored twice in the 2-1 victory with line mates Mallory Deluce and Jess Scanzano picking up two assists apiece.

Alberta beat Burlington 4-2 in their inaugral game (CWHL Images)

The Burlington Barracudas opened their season at home with three games in three nights. The Cudas were defeated 4-2 by the CWHL’s newest team, Alberta, where Laura Dostaler scored the team’s first goal. Newly appointed Burlington captain Jana Harrigan had two assists in the loss.

Burlington goalie Christina Kessler had a scary moment when an Alberta player’s skate came up and cut her neck.

While the cut was dangerously close to life-sustaining vessels it was superficial and no stitches were required. Kessler managed to stay in the game.

The Cudas then hosted Boston for back-to-back games where they suffered two more losses. 

Kelli Stack had two goals and Marvin had one goal and two assists as the Blades beat Burlington 7-1 on Saturday. Samantha Shirley had the lone Cudas goal.  

Stack added another two goals on Sunday when the Blades took out the Cudas 5-1 while Harrigan scored for Burlington.

Brampton held their home opener on Saturday against Alberta where they won 4-1. Olympic gold medallist Cherie Piper scored a hat trick (including one goal short-handed) while Molly Engstrom had three assists and Gillian Apps had two assists in the win.

Alberta played their third game in three days on Sunday against the Toronto Furies where they were shut out 3-0. Meagan Aarts, Frances McPhail and Smith scored for the Furies.

There will be a two week break in the CWHL while the 2011 Four Nations Cup (women’s ice hockey tournament) takes place in Nykoping, Sweden.

There are only three CWHL games in the month of November.

Brampton hosts Burlington in back-to-back games Nov. 18 and 19 then they host Toronto on Nov. 30 in Brantford.

For CWHL stats and schedules visit the official CWHL website.

Social Media Fan of the Day

The Montreal Canadiens started a great contest of recognition this season; Habs Social Media Fan of the Day.

Beginning September 1, 2011 they announce a daily winner via the Habs officialTwitter account (@CanadiensMTL). The winner also receives a $10 gift certificate to use at any Habs Zone location.

Entering the contest is as simple as visiting the website, filling out the form and uploading a few pictures of yourself decked out in the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. 

On October 28, 2011 I was crowned the Habs Social Media Fan of the Day.

After seeing two fellow Twitter pals (@emann_222 & @GucciPucciPrada) also gain recognition in the month of October I was overjoyed to join them.

When I entered a week earlier, I didn’t think I had a chance of being chosen. Just knowing the size of the fan base on Twitter alone, I figured it was a one-in-a-million shot.

Thanks to this contest I also had my profile posted on the Canadiens website, including a link to my blog. That day, I had 30 hits on my site. I can’t say for certain if they were all because of the link on the Habs website, but it definitely played a role.

Thank you to all my friends, followers and family for all your continued support in reading this blog and a BIG THANKS to the Montreal Canadiens organization for being the number one franchise in NHL history and making it easy to be a lifelong fan.

Go Habs Go

The Jets Touch Down in Ottawa

The Ottawa Senators beat the Winnipeg Jets, Thursday, 4-1. (Melissa Boufounos)

KANATA, On — For the first time since 1995, the Ottawa Senators played host to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

With neither team doing too hot thus far in the season, the game could have gone either way.

As it was my first time attending a game at Scotiabank Place (and my first Senators game) I was not sure what to expect in terms of fan atmosphere.

Knowing the Sens (2-5-0) have been playing lacklustre hockey and the game was not even sold out (against the Jets, what?!) I didn’t expect the crowd to be high energy.

Not surprisingly, both teams received equally high cheers when they came out for the warm-up; Although I couldn’t believe how many fans I saw wearing Jets gear. Dustin Byfuglien received one of the loudest cheers when he was announced (almost as loud as the roar for Sens captain, Daniel Alfredsson).

The Jets (1-4-1) opened the scoring at 14:39 of the first period when Byfuglien wired a slapshot passed Craig Anderson (35-36). They only kept the lead until the early minutes of the second period, though.

Byfuglien, who scored the lone Jets goal, received a loud welcoming during the player announcements. (Melissa Boufounos)

Milan Michalek scored the first goal for the Senators, on the power play, less than five minutes into the second period. He also added an assist in the second and an empty netter in the third.

The Jets pulled Ondrej Pavelec (26-29), when they went on the man advantage, with five minutes to go in the game. I think that was the first time I have ever seen a team pull a goaltender with that much time remaining. I guess they were desperate to win and were willing to try anything at that point.

Michalek’s goal lit a fire under the Sens, who went on to shoot down the Jets 4-1.

Jason Spezza scored the game winning goal and had a pair of assists. Alfredsson also scored for the Sens Army.

Aside from the four Ottawa goals, the crowd was pretty deflated for most of the game; I could honestly say it was a boring atmosphere.

The in-house broadcaster had a very monotone voice and there weren’t many fan-friendly events going on. At one point, the in-house broadcaster promoted the Sens next game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and said “Kovalev comes back to Scotiabank Place”. Hello, Kovalev is not even playing in the NHL.

I’ve definitely had a much better time at the Bell Centre (obviously) and even the Air Canada Centre.

It was great to take part in the (new) Jets inaugral season, and it was sad to see them lose. You can take the Thrashers out of Atlanta but you can’t take the Atlanta out of the Jets.

The most exciting part of the game was watching the outstanding perfomances by both goaltenders. Even though Pavelec came up big for Winnipeg, the team in front of him seemed to lack confidence and made a few big mistakes that ultimately cost them the game.

I can’t say Ottawa played a perfect game either; they just got lucky that the Jets couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes. The Sens still have a lot to work on this season too, if they expect to win games against stronger teams than Winnipeg.

I will be back at Scotiabank Place Nov. 4 when the Habs are in town, and again on Dec. 5 when the Bolts are visiting. Hopefully, the energy will be a lot more entertaining at those games.

In A Rich Man’s World

At the end of May, Forbes released a list of the world’s 50 highest-paid athletes.

“Our earnings figures are derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income in the 12 months ending May 1. We do not deduct taxes or agents’ fees” writes Kurt Badenhausen.

Coming in at no. 1 by a long shot was Tiger Woods ($75 million). A female athlete did not crack the list until no. 29.

I'd be cheering too, if I was making a $75 million salary. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova earned a whopping $24 million in the span of a year, most of it coming from an endorsement deal with Nike.

She was the only female athlete on the list.

As a female hockey player who was drafted to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) this past August, these numbers don’t surprise me in the least.

They do leave a sour taste in my mouth though.

Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Kings inked defenceman Drew Doughty to an eight-year, $56 million deal. This 21-year-old, who is a year younger than I am, is the team’s highest-paid player by annual salary and the league’s third-highest-paid defenceman by average salary.

My Twitter timeline was full of Doughty related tweets so I decided to partake in the conversation.

“Ugh. NHL Guys like Doughty make more $ per game than I do per year WORKING. If I had been born with a penis I could be a millionaire too.” – @mbouf

Female hockey players don’t get paid to play at the professional level, yet they are required to attend two practices and two games a week and still find time to do off-ice training while balancing a full time job to support themselves and their families.

Sure, they get to ‘play for free’ and they have an elite league to play the game they love so much, but so do NHL players.

They don’t have their own arenas, heck, they barely have their own team dressing rooms (and when they do, they don’t look any different than a regular dressing room. No flat screen TVs, gym equipment, state-of-the-art showers etc…)

The matching equipment the players wear in games (gloves and pants) is used in previous seasons and passed down until it’s so far gone it has to be replaced.

For a league where you can pay less than $10 to see Canadian Olympic gold medalists go head-to-head on the ice, it’s pretty sad that they can barely afford to cover the costs of a full season and don’t even have money in the current budget for playoffs.

 

Highest-paid female athlete. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

In all fairness, there are several female athletes who are millionaires. In August Forbes released a list of the 10 highest-paid female athletes for earnings between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. Seven of the top ten were tennis players; a sport that now sees men and their female counterparts receiving equal payouts and the end of most tournaments.

There are many reasons why female athletes in professional sports like hockey, basketball, football and golf do not get paid nearly as much as male athletes.

Men’s sporting events typically garner more media exposure, higher attendance and greater amounts of sponsorship dollars.

I get it.

You can’t spend money you don’t have. If the leagues don’t pull enough revenue in, they can’t afford to pay their athletes, or pay them as much.

I guess what this means is it’s time to show female athletes the recognition we show our beloved male athletes.

Chasing the Dream of Women’s Pro Hockey: The Final Roster

As seen on The Epoch Times October 3, 2011.

Not giving up my dream yet (Amy Baillie)

Last Friday, I anxiously waited for the email from the coaching staff of the Burlington Barracudas of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) with news about the final roster.

Finally, my friend sent me a text messaging saying there was a tweet on Twitter with a link to the final roster on the team’s Facebook page. I was told I’d receive an email with the final roster, but in this age of social media, I guess things work differently.

I scanned the list of players, but did not see my name.

A million thoughts ran through my head. Was I still an affiliated player or was I going to be released?

I finally got the answer I had been waiting for when I received an email from the coach addressed to myself and one other player, the only two players from training camp to be cut from the team. “A numbers issue” is what it was referred to.

In all honesty, I was devastated by this news; it completely ruined my day. I thought even if I hadn’t made that final roster, I’d be sticking around to attend practices with these elite players to gain experience for next season, but instead, I was told I had to go back to a senior league and gain experience there.

“Obviously you are in great shape, however, off-ice fitness has very little to do with on-ice fitness,” said general manager and coach Ray Baumgaertner when I asked for feedback on why I was cut.

“For the level that you would be expected to play at in the CWHL, your foot speed needs work and carrying the puck with your head up needs to improve,” Baumgaertner said.

 Next year I will have to re-enter the draft again. Hopefully with the extra year to train, fully heal my old injuries, and work on my weaknesses, I will make a CWHL squad next season.

As for this upcoming season, I will be playing in the Golden Blades Hockey League once again. The coach of the Toronto Sirens Senior AA team is trying to make room for me on his roster, but if that can’t be done I will play for one of the other A or AA teams in the league.

I wish all the best to the Burlington Barracudas this season and hope that with a new coaching staff and upgraded roster they will have a better season than last.

This journey to play women’s professional hockey has been an eye-opener for me. With everything I’ve gone through, even though I didn’t make the team, I’ve met a lot of great people who have supported me along the way and will continue to do so until my goals have been reached