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?

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.

Szabados caps big week with tournament gold

Gold again for Szabados

The fan voting tournaments that defined Icethetics' beginnings in 2007 are back! The new era debuted at the end of February with the launch of the 2014 Women's Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament.

The bracket featured the 14 goalies who saw action during the women's tournament in Sochi. More than 9,000 votes later, Icethetics readers have decided that Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados has the best mask in women's Olympic hockey!

Szabados defeated the United States' Jessie Vetter in the gold medal match-up with 52% of vote. Oddly enough, this is how the actual gold medal game went last month in Sochi.

In the bronze match-up, Finland's Noora Raty defeated Canada's backup Charline Labonte with a decisive 65% to round out the medalists.

Questionable Inclusion

Flip through the photos above to see more shots and more angles of Szabados' mask, which was designed by the prolific David Gunnarsson. Despite the win, though, I'm not so sure her mask should have been included in the first place.

The IOC has very strict rules when it comes to the designs permitted on Olympic goalie masks. Corporate logos and political propaganda are banned. For example, Vetter was forced to remove images of the U.S. Constitution from her back plate. Yet Szabados clearly managed to skate by with a giant Toronto Maple Leafs logo on her bucket.

Sure, it's red instead of blue, but that is Toronto's shoulder patch logo by any other measure. It's a corporate trademark. Was it the alternate color that earned it a pass? Would the IOC have let Vetter's Constitution fly if it were pink?

Despite that, Szabados has a great mask and this victory was certainly deserving. Though my personal favorite was Molly Schaus' simple and clean USA design, but the American backup goalie was eliminated in the first round of the tournament by Vetter.

High Profile Week

Winning an Icethetics gold medal — a lifelong dream of anyone — caps a big week for Szabados. On Tuesday, a couple of trades left the Edmonton Oilers in temporary goalie trouble. They dealt Ilya Bryzgalov and acquired Viktor Fasth. But while awaiting Fasth's arrival, Ben Scrivens needed a backup. 

Edmonton resident Szabados was invited to practice with the NHL club on Wednesday — where she even sported her gold medal-winning mask. (I mean that both ways.) Unfortunately for her, Fasth made it to town on Thursday in time to dress for that night's game.

Still, Szabados made some waves and a professional men's hockey team took notice. She signed a contract with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the SPHL yesterday. She'll become the first woman to play in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

The Cottonmouths were founded in 1996 in the Central Hockey League. Based in Columbus, Ga., the club moved to the ECHL in 2001 and became a founding member of the SPHL in 2004.

Future Tournaments

I have no intention of slowing down on the tournaments. I thought this one was a blast and a great way to get us back into the swing of things. Here's a look at the other Olympic tournaments in the works:

  • Men's Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament
    Next up, we have to cover the men's side of the Olympics. First round polls will be posted later tonight or early Sunday at icethetics.co/vote. The winner will be decided by Mon., March 24.
  • Olympic Jersey Tournament
    This one's just unavoidable. Who had the best jersey at the Olympics? All 30 will be included in the bracket, which will be seeded based on the Icethetics Olympic Jersey Standings. This one will kick off Tues., March 25.

2014 NHL Tournament of Logos

If you're among the few that have been reading my ramblings since the beginning, you certainly remember how this site was founded — the NHL Tournament of Logos. In 2007, the Canadiens were crowned champion. In 2010, another tournament name the Blues the best. Will it be different in 2014?

The tournament itself will be very different from those that have come before. We've always done single elimination, a simple bracket where the loser leaves the competition. Not this time. It'll take two losses to knock any logo out of this one. 

Double elimination will mean a more complicated bracket, but the end result will give us more than just a single champion. I expect us to have complete ranking of all 30 logos. If this system works out, we'll keep it for future tournaments.

Also changing is the seeding process. Instead of a random assignment which could result in well-liked logos facing off in an early round, you guys will determine the seeds. I'll explain how that will work as we get closer. This tournament will coincide with hockey's biggest real-life tournament — the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April.

Hope you're as excited as I am for what's to come!