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 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!

Springfield marks 20 seasons with a few theme jerseys

We'll get back into regular blog posts today with the AHL's Springfield Falcons, who are in the midst of their 20th anniversary season. To mark the occasion, they've sported a handful of theme jerseys throughout the season. Let's take a look.

Hometown Heroes Night

Over Veterans' Day weekend, the Falcons celebrated their hometown heroes with a very patriotic sweater. It was a blue jersey emblazoned with stars on the right sleeve and a field of red and white stripes on the left sleeve. Both shoulders feature the team's 20th anniversary logo.

It's hard to deny this one's pretty ugly. The sleeves are what do it. The numbers there are barely readable. And what's with the generic text on the chest? I'm just not a fan of this one.

That aside, on Fri., Nov. 8, the Falcons hosted the Adirondack Phantoms to the tune of a 3-0 shutout victory. Even the ugliest of jerseys looks a little better with a solid win.

20th Anniversary Night

On Sat., Jan. 18, the Falcons celebrated their 20th season with a special set of blue jerseys. Now these I can get behind. There's nothing special about them, but it's a solid, traditional sweater design.

Front and center on the chest is the anniversary logo — nothing special about it either. But what I really like is the original Falcons logo used as the patch on the right shoulder. The current primary logo, which debuted in 2010, is on the left side.

As you can see from the photos, the Falcons faced the Providence Bruins — wearing yellow from top to bottom, helmets included. Springfield managed a 5-3 win, improving to 2-0 on theme jersey nights.

Pink in the Rink Night

The Falcons wore their third and final theme jersey of the season last week. It was Pink in the Rink Night at MassMutual Center on Sat., March 1.

As pink jerseys go, this set stands out for its unique ribbon. The design, featured in small form on the shoulders and large form near the waist, creates crossed hockey sticks at each end of the ribbon. Teams don't usually tend to be that clever with these jerseys.

The crest is a pink-infused version of the 20th anniversary logo and some sweeping ribbon-like stripes wrap around the waist. It's one of the nicer pink jerseys I've seen this season.

According to the Falcons' promotional calendar, that does it for theme jerseys in 2013-14. Which of the three was your favorite? Vote in the poll on the right or leave a comment below. Or both!

Icethetics at the 2014 NHL Heritage Classic

I'm back in Vancouver for the final outdoor game of the NHL season.

The Vancouver Canucks are hosting the Ottawa Senators at B.C. Place for the 2014 NHL Heritage Classic.

I'll be on Twitter and Instagram to share my experience this weekend and you can catch it all right here in this blog post.

So keep checking back!

By the way, due to my trip, this week's Cover Story will be delayed and new blog posts will resume Tuesday.

instagram Block
This is an example. To display your Instagram posts, double-click here to add an account or select an existing connected account. Learn more.

Are you ready for Brett Hull Night? It's a real thing


Down there in the Central Hockey League is a first-year team named the St. Charles Chill. You may remember them from their logo contest in 2012.

Tonight, this St. Louis Blues affiliate will take the ice looking like their NHL parent club for what they're calling Brett Hull Night.

Apart from the NHL team, what's the connection between the Chill and Brett Hull? Brett's younger brother Bart is the VP of business operations for the team. So we can probably guess where the idea originated.

Their dad Bobby will also be honored at the Heroes Night game next weekend. But it seems there aren't any special jerseys for that one.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out. It's a great looking jersey. And lest we forget the Blues are rumored to be launching new uniforms next season. Just something to think about.

Checkers theme jerseys average 10 goals per game

The AHL's Charlotte Checkers have entertained fans with a couple of unique theme jerseys in the last few weeks. And the games resulted in goal-scoring bonanzas.

On Thurs., Jan. 23 and Fri., Jan. 24, it was Race Night at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Checkers donned the race track inspired sweaters you see above, complete with a "checkered" flag. Get it? You get it.

The first game saw the Checkers shut out the Oklahoma City Barons 4-0. Not so crazy. But the following night was wild one that ended with Charlotte thumping the Barons 9-3!

Six of the Checkers' nine goals came on the power play. And the final five minutes of the game saw the teams trade three goals a span of 97 seconds. But this story isn't over. It takes a hilarious turn (for non-Checkers fans) when you scroll down.

By the way, they've posted more game photos on Facebook. And there are Flickr galleries for Thursday and Friday.

On Fri., Feb. 7, the Checkers hosted the Barons for a theme jersey night for the third time in two weeks. Though it was a very different jersey — with a very different outcome.

It was Pink in the Rink Night and the Barons wanted revenge. Which they got. The final score of this one was 8-5. Clearly the Checkers' specialty jerseys are bringing on the goals this season — averaging nearly 10 per game.

The Checkers went with primarily red jerseys with pink accents — a different take on what they usually do for Pink in the Rink. It definitely grabs the eye though.

There are more photos on Facebook. And here's another gallery on Flickr.

So which of these two jerseys is your favorite? Do I even have to ask?