U.S. claims Olympic gold with throwback jersey

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U.S. claims Olympic gold with throwback jersey

If they couldn't do it for real in Sochi, at least the U.S. hockey team could earn gold medals in other ways.

A few weeks ago, Icethetics readers decided Jonathan Quick had the best goalie mask at the Olympics. Now, you've selected the Americans' throwback jersey as the best the Games had to offer.

The tournament commenced on March 25 with 30 sweaters — so many that the first round was split into two separate sets of polls. By the end, almost 27,000 votes were cast.

The 18-day tournament wrapped up Saturday night with the white 1960-inspired USA sweater taking top honors. It defeated Sweden's blue jersey with 61% of votes — leaving the Swedes with silver again.

Meanwhile, Canada's red took bronze with 54% against Russia's red uniform. The host country of the 2014 Winter Olympics just can't catch a break, it seems. No medals in hockey. At all.

It's always better to see hockey sweaters in action, so the mini-slideshow below captures the three medal-winning sweaters in all their celebratory glory.

Click bracket to enlarge.

The United States' winning sweater, in fact, was not on the list of jerseys we were expecting to see in Sochi. It made a surprise appearance on the day the Americans faced Slovenia — and went on to win 5-1.

It was worn for just once during the entire tournament but the victory was enough to help it finish fifth overall in the Icethetics Olympic Jersey Standings. Four other jerseys saw action in only a single game — Czech red, Slovenian white, Norwegian red, and Japanse black — but each one lost.

Up next, we're tackling the 2014 NHL Tournament of Logos — the third such tournament since this blog was created in 2007. The Canadiens won then. The Blues won the second tournament in 2011. Who will take it this year?

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What's happening on Icethetics this summer?


What's happening on Icethetics this summer?

My lack of blog updates is probably becoming conspicuous at this point. This is the time of year when news disappears. It's playoff time and teams aren't really thinking about jerseys — or next season, for that matter. Because of that, I've been focusing my energy on other aspects of Icethetics.

The Voting Tournaments

Our third tournament — Olympic jerseys — is starting to wind down. We've reached the final four sweater designs and by week's end, we'll have our medalists. So what's next?

The NHL Tournament of Logos makes its triumphant return next Monday! But before we can open the first poll, we need to seed the bracket. In past editions of the NHLToL, the bracket was seeded randomly.

Not this time. The seeding process for this tournament has already begun. The way it works is simple. I set up a Facebook photo album with all 30 logos. You "like" all the logos you like and the ones with the most "likes" get seeded higher up.

So be sure to head over to Facebook and do your part to seed the NHLToL bracket!

The IceHL Expansion

The other big deal around here will be the expansion of our fantasy hockey league, the IceHL. For the uninitiated, the IceHL Project is a league we built from the ground up. Icethetics readers selected cities, named teams and designed logos and jerseys through a series of polls beginning in 2008.

Over the years, we've expanded the league and made improvements through rebranding. This summer, though, two big things are happening. First, our two conferences, IceHL East and West will each swap a team. The Regina Renegades (of the West) were relocated to Philadelphia last summer putting them square in the IceHL East.

But the conference relocation was delayed a year to avoid upsetting the balance of the ESPN fantasy league. It's happening now so one of the East teams needs to move to the West. The IceHL East team that finishes in last place this season will earn that distinction and will then need to be relocated and rebranded.

The other (bigger) thing happening is the launch of the IceHL World — a third conference in our growing fantasy league. We'll be adding eight new teams to the family from around the globe. All of this is explained on the IceHL blog.

Not to worry, I'll still be here to keep up with news coverage on the blog. Just don't expect as many features or cover stories as you saw earlier in the year. I wish I could give lots of time to every section of Icethetics, but I'm only human — and then there's that pesky full-time job, of course.

I'm doing lots of behind-the-scenes work to prepare for this summer's logo tournaments as well as all things IceHL-related. So, in other words, the blog will take a backseat for a while. But rest assured, if there's something worth reporting, I'll be all over it.

Hope you enjoy everything that goes on here this spring and summer!


Texas Stars shine with trio of classic theme jerseys


Texas Stars shine with trio of classic theme jerseys

Our series of features looking at minor league theme jerseys picks up this week with the AHL's Texas Stars. The Stars are celebrating their fifth anniversary in Cedar Park this season.

Primary Uniforms

The franchise was actually founded 15 years ago as the Louisville Panthers, but the team shut down after two seasons. They were resurrected in Des Moines as the Iowa Stars in 2005. The name was changed to Iowa Chops for the 2008-09 season when the club became affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks. In 2009, the franchise was sold and moved to Texas a re-affiliated with Dallas.

During the 2013-14 season, the Stars wore three special theme jerseys. Before we get to those, the mini-slideshow up top will give you an idea of what the team looks like on a regular basis.

The Stars just unveiled this look last May.

Stars & Stripes Military Appreciation Weekend

November 8–9
The Stars held the first of two military appreciation weekends leading into Veterans' Day. Players were decked out in this patriotic mix of red, white and blue for Stars & Stripes Weekend. Be sure to check out all the photos above.

The special sweater was designed by Stars center Taylor Vause, who was featured here on Icethetics two years ago when he created a couple of jerseys for his WHL team, the Swift Current Broncos. Great to see Vause moving up through the ranks both in his jersey design career as well as his playing career.

The Stars wore this sweater for two games against the Milwaukee Admirals. Both were high-scoring outings as Texas won 7-4 and 5-4 on back-to-back nights.

The weekend was sponsored by Sport Clips and the subsequent jersey auction benefited the Texas Stars Foundation.

Pink in the Rink Weekend

February 21–22
Pink-infused jerseys hit the ice in Texas just last month as the Stars hosted their annual Pink in the Rink Weekend, sponsored by Cedar Park Regional Medical Center.

"Our Pink in the Rink sweater was my first stab at designing a jersey," said Texas Stars graphic designer Alisa Kessler. Her black-based cancer night jersey was among the best the AHL had to offer this season, if you ask me.

For more, see this post from Feb. 5 and this one from Feb. 24.

The theme jerseys continued to be hot for the Stars as they defeated the Charlotte Checkers on back-to-back nights, coming out on top 4-1 on Friday and taking a shootout win on Saturday.

Jersey auction proceeds benefited Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas.

Military Appreciation Weekend

March 21–22
Finally, this past weekend, the Stars honored the military once more with these black and white arctic camouflage sweaters. I imagine it'd be easy for the opposing team to lose track of a puck shot at a goalie's chest. Where'd it go?

"I helped design our latest Military Appreciation arctic camo jersey as well," said Kessler. "But the general concept/look didn’t change too much from last year – mostly just the color was swapped out from woodland to arctic."

Round Rock Auto Group sponsored the weekend and auction proceeds benefited the Texas Stars Foundation.

The Stars were successful again wearing special uniforms for back-to-back nights against the Oklahoma City Barons. Texas won 4-3 in a shootout on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday.

In fact, the victories helped the Stars become the first team to clinch a spot in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.

In wrapping up, I have to extend a huge thanks to Texas Stars graphic designer Alisa Kessler, who was extremely helpful in putting this story together.


Quick nabs gold for the U.S. with mask design


Quick nabs gold for the U.S. with mask design

Icethetics voters have spoken. Jonathan Quick had the best goalie mask at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Definitively.

Quick's design bested 24 other netminders' in the 2014 Men's Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament. Quick joins Canada's Shannon Szabados who earned gold in the women's tourney.

The men's tournament ended Sunday after 18 days and more than 14,000 votes. Quick defeated Henrik Lundqvist with 55% of votes. Just as in Sochi, the Swedes have to settle for silver.

The dark horse, in my opinion, was Latvia's Edgars Masalskis who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim bronze against Jonas Hiller with a substantial 59%.

In fact, both Latvian goalie masks performed surprisingly well in this tournament. Masalskis faced fellow countryman Kristers Gudlevskis in a patriotic showdown in the quarterfinals.

Among those I was surprised to see eliminated so early were Tuukka Rask, Roberto Luongo and the two Norwegian netminders, Lars Haugen and Lars Volden.

Click bracket to enlarge.

The slideshow above celebrates Quick's victory by giving us a look at a few more angles of his mask — which was designed by Steve Nash of EyeCandyAir. Nash even made some Vine videos showing the creation of the mask.

Just because the tournament is over doesn't mean there's nothing left to vote on. I'm kind of curious to see which gold medalist you like better. Also, do you prefer Quick's USA mask to his Kings mask? Vote in the two polls below.

And because this post hasn't been jam-packed enough, I wanted to leave you with one more image gallery. Eleven of the goalies that went to Sochi never played in a game so their masks weren't included in our tournament.

Still, I'm sure we'd all love to get a look at them. To that end, I did a little digging.

Unused Olympic Goalie Masks

Unfortunately, I was unable to track down photos of masks belonging to Rene Swette (Austria), Andrej Hocevar (Slovenia) or Tobias Stephan (Switzerland). If you spot any, please let me know so I can expand the slideshow.

Which of these unused Olympic masks is your favorite? Any you think could've competed with Quick for gold? Let us all know in the comments.


NHL Sweater Switch 2014: Trade Deadline Edition


NHL Sweater Switch 2014: Trade Deadline Edition

Every now and then, the NHL Trade Deadline surprises us. Eleventh hour deals send away players we never expected to see in another jersey. Full disclosure: As a Lightning fan, this hit close to home as Martin St. Louis was granted his request to become a New York Ranger.

But the St. Louis-Callahan trade wasn't the only one that put big names in new uniforms. As the Stanley Cup Playoffs near, Icethetics' NHL Sweater Switch feature returns to examine some of the changes we saw during the 2013-14 season.

As you scroll through this article, you'll find collections of photos showing key players who were traded this season. Be sure to click through to see more photos.

Thomas Vanek began the season as one of the co-captains of the Buffalo Sabres, wearing the "C" for home games. But three weeks into the season, he became the face of the first blockbuster trade of the season.

Vanek was dealt to the New York Islanders on Oct. 27 for Matt Moulson and two draft picks. On the ice, it was No. 26 for No. 26 as the players essentially swapped jerseys. Then on deadline day, Vanek was sent to the Montreal Canadiens for Sebastian Collberg.

Josh Gorges wears No. 26 in Montreal, so Vanek switched to No. 20.

Matt Moulson also landed with a third team at the deadline (March 5). After leaving the Islanders for Buffalo on Oct. 27, the deadline saw him sent to the Minnesota Wild with Cody McCormick in exchange for Torrey Mitchell and a couple of draft picks.

Moulson kept his No. 26 jersey at each stop. He holds the record for most jerseys worn by a single player this season with 9! He wore three on Long Island (he was gone well before the Stadium Series), three in Buffalo and three in Minnesota.

Ben Scrivens joined the Los Angeles Kings last summer, but most fans probably know him best as a Toronto Maple Leaf. He barely got half a season backing up Jonathan Quick before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick on Jan. 15.

After wearing No. 54 during his L.A. stint., Scrivens switched back to the more traditional No. 30 in Edmonton — the same number he wore in Toronto.

Michael Del Zotto was a fifth-year New York Ranger when he got word he was becoming a Nashville Predator. He was dealt on Jan. 22 for Kevin Klein in the midst of a Predators road swing.

Due to the long-distance trip, the Preds had limited jersey availability when Del Zotto joined the club. He was saddled with No. 18 for his first few games, but upon arriving back in Nashville, adopted a more permanent No. 5. Del Zotto wore No. 4 in New York, but that number currently belongs to Ryan Ellis.

Ryan Miller was one of two men at the center of the NHL's second blockbuster trade of 2013-14. He was sent with Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 28. In return, the Sabres got Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier and two picks.

Three weeks after the deal, Miller got his new Blues mask from Bishop Designs. Prior to that, he wore a plain white mask with the Blue Note on the chin. As for his number, Miller went back to No. 39, which he wore in college (Michigan State) and wears during international play.

No. 30 is available in St. Louis, but it seems like Miller didn't want it. I'm not sure what the official story is, but I understand Miller wore No. 30 in Buffalo out of respect for Dominik Hasek's legacy — though the Sabres have not retired his No. 39 at this point.

Steve Ott joined Miller in the Blues deal. He returned to his No. 29 sweater which he wore previously as a member of the Dallas Stars. He was traded to the Sabres in 2012 when Jason Pominville wore the number.

Ott was No. 9 while in Buffalo, where he'll be remembered by jersey enthusiasts as the man responsible for revealing the Sabres' yellow third jersey last September.

Dustin Penner saw his second stint as an Anaheim Duck end when he was traded to the Washington Capitals the day before the trade deadline (March 4) for a draft pick. He kept his No. 17 sweater in D.C.

Roberto Luongo being traded was one of those deals everybody saw coming. The writing was on the wall after some rough time as a Vancouver Canuck recently. Luongo was acquired by the Florida Panthers with Steven Anthony on March 4 in exchange for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.

While some goalies had a rough transition to their new teams, Luongo already had a custom mask in hand when he joined the Panthers — having played for team from 2000 to 2006. He simply busted out his old bucket. He, of course, kept his No. 1 jersey.

Martin St. Louis, in the first and most surprising deal of deadline day, was sent to the Big Apple for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and some draft picks. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain's request to join the Rangers has been well-documented.

Naturally, St. Louis did keep his No. 26 jersey in New York — one that despite the hard feelings, will still likely be raised to the rafters in Tampa someday. He was the last remaining member of the 2004 Stanley Cup championship team — one that would be honored at a Bolts home game just two weeks later.

Ryan Callahan became the fourth captain traded this season as he joined the Lightning in exchange for St. Louis — the rare captain-for-captain trade. Callahan kept No. 24, which had been worn briefly earlier in the season by call-up Dmitry Korobov.

Ales Hemsky was another player traded after a long tenure with a team. He had been an Oiler for 12 years prior to the trade to the Ottawa Senators. He kept his distinct No. 83 sweater in the move. (He has worn the Sens' black heritage jersey, though disappointingly, I've been unable to track down a photo.)

Marian Gaborik used to be a big deal. Now he just seems to bounce from team to team. The Columbus Blue Jackets traded him at the deadline to the Los Angeles Kings for Matt Frattin and a couple of draft picks.

Gaborik's No. 10 jersey is currently in use by Mike Richards so he switched to No. 12.

Tim Thomas was traded by the Florida Panthers in a straight goalie-for-goalie trade with the Dallas Stars. The Cats picked up Dan Ellis in return. Thomas wore John Vanbiesbrouck's No. 34 during his south Florida stint. In Dallas, he returned to his more traditional No. 30.

This trade will be remembered by history if for no other reason than the absurd color mismatch it created. Thomas had just gotten new Panthers equipment that he had to wear with his green jersey for a time in Dallas. He has since gotten new pads, at least.

Dan Ellis left the Stars for Thomas and had a similar color problem with his gear — though it was decidedly less noticeable than Thomas' red pads. Ellis joined the Panthers returning to the No. 39 he first wore in Nashville. He previously wore No. 33 during a stint with the Lightning and No. 30 while in Dallas. Wonder which he likes best.

David Legwand was the last remaining original member* of the Nashville Predators before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings at the deadline for Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok and a draft pick. (*—Technically, he dressed for one game during the 1998-99 season, so it counts!)

Legwand had to give up No. 11 — which seems to be popular in Detroit. Dan Cleary gave it up for Daniel Alfredsson when he joined the team from Ottawa this season. Legwand, instead, just went with Eaves' old No. 17 jersey.

Patrick Eaves spent five years as a Red Wing before heading to Nashville in the Legwand deadline deal. He kept No. 17 as a Predator.

Obviously I couldn't get to every player who was traded this season — nor would such an article be that interesting. But I hope I hit most of the big names. If there's anyone else you'd like me to add, drop a line in the comments.

What do you think of seeing all these players with new sweaters? Weird, right?