hockey

Victor Hedman's very good Stanley Cup playoff run got much, much better Monday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman notched two assists including a brilliant setup to Cedric Paquette for the game-winning goal late in the third period, over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Lightning have a 2-1 lead in the final.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper is among those impressed with the 24-year-old Swede's performance in these playoffs. "This is really his coming-out party," Cooper said. "He was a monster tonight."

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Back in 1996, Connecticut hosted one of the original teams of the first American women's professional basketball league, the American Basketball League. Now, Connecticut will be home to one of the four inaugural teams in the first women's professional ice hockey League in the U.S., the NWHL.

The L.A. Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Sunday, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in a dramatic Game 7 overtime win.

The Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions, scored the first two goals of the game and led through the first period. The Kings tied the score at 3-3 partway through the second period, but Chicago took the lead again a few minutes before the second intermission.

The Kings caught back up at 7:17 of the third period. Missed shots and frantic saves carried the game into overtime.

Canada beat the U.S. men 1-0 in Olympic hockey Friday, winning a tense game that saw strong goalie play and stout defensive work. Despite numerous chances, the Americans weren't able to challenge Canadian goalie Carey Price.

The game was a rematch between two teams that played for gold at the Vancouver 2010 Games. That contest went to overtime before Canada's Sidney Crosby scored an artful golden goal that dashed the Americans' dreams of repeating as gold medalists — something they haven't done since the famed 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympics.

With a 2-0 lead late in the game, it seemed like Team USA would finally overcome archrival Canada on hockey's largest stage Thursday, winning an Olympic gold medal that has eluded it for 16 years. But the gold medal went to Canada after a spirited comeback forced overtime.

The Canadians scored on a five-on-three power play, after a sequence of penalties on both teams, including a checking call on Team USA's Hilary Knight. Forward Marie-Philip Poulin scored on an assist from Laura Fortino. Under Olympic rules, the "golden goal" ended the game with a score of 3-2.

"Uskotko ihmeisiin?"

No, this isn't exactly a "do you believe in miracles?" bit of history for Finland, but its men's hockey team just produced a moment-to-remember at the Sochi Games.

Finland beat Russia 3-1, bouncing the home team out of the tournament.

As NPR's Robert Smith has reported, there was tremendous pressure on Alex Ovechkin and his Russian teammates to win gold in Sochi.

The U.S. men's hockey team nearly shut out Slovenia in the Winter Olympics on Sunday but allowed one goal in the final seconds of the game. The 5-1 win gives the U.S. team an automatic spot in the quarterfinals.

Virtually every hockey game here in Russia is, of course, an away game for the U.S. team. The opposing teams have more fans, more flags, more face paint.

Each time one of Slovenia's players prepared to shoot, its fans chanted. But it was only at the very end of the game that they got to stand and cheer their lone goal.

The wave just never stopped. The fans kept it going around Bolshoy Stadium at the Canada-Austria men's hockey match. Hands up, yell, sit, wait, repeat. Hands up, yell, sit, wait, repeat. As it moved, again and again, through the stands, the wave was strikingly red and white. A moving, yelling, living, breathing mass of Canadian pride.

It was Valentine's Day in Sochi. And the Canadians were in love — with their hockey teams, which are doing well, and with so many other athletes from their country. Canada is having a great run in Sochi, and its fans here are celebrating.

The U.S. Olympic ice hockey team beat Russia 3-2 on the ice at the Sochi Games in a heart-stopping sudden-death shootout.

Although only a preliminary round, the contest was reminiscent of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" at the Lake Placid Games when a group of American college players beat the formidable Soviet team in what became a touchstone of Cold War Olympic rivalry.

T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues scored the game-winning point in the eighth round of the shootout that ended the clash among some of international hockey's best players.

There is a weird contradiction in Olympic hockey: On one hand, these professional players from the NHL arrive in a small town like movie stars.

They show up a week late, trailed by TV cameras and Russians begging for autographs.

And then they have to go back to basics. Early Thursday, members of Team USA were on the ice, doing the kind of simple drills that you'd see in a peewee hockey league.

Wednesday, the American women's hockey team meets its arch rival Canada on the ice in Sochi at the Winter Olympics. It's an early round game, but when it comes to these two teams, which are expected to meet in the gold medal game, there's no such thing as a low-stakes match.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And finally this hour, a U.S. Olympic athlete in her own words. Kacey Bellamy plays defense for the U.S. women's hockey team. This is her second trip to the Olympics. She was on the team that made it to the final round in Vancouver in 2010. They lost to Canada, 2-0. Bellamy grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts. And as she prepares for this year's games, she took some time to reflect on the role her family has played in her career.

It may be time to say goodbye to the Whale...again. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Hartford's minor league hockey team could soon have a new name. The team used to be known as the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Then, in 2010, it was renamed the Hartford Whale -- a throwback to the city's onetime NHL Whalers. "It was sort of about embracing the Whaler past." That's Paul Doyle, a reporter with the Hartford Courant. He says Howard Baldwin, who operated the franchise, did his best to bring the Whalers back from the dead. They left the state in 1997.

It may be time to say goodbye to the Whale...again. Hartford's minor league hockey team could soon have a new name.

The team used to be known as the Hartford Wolf Pack. Then, in 2010, it was renamed the Hartford Whale -- a throwback to the city's onetime NHL Whalers.

Tonight the Frozen Four gets underway in Pittsburgh. The Frozen Four is the college hockey equivalent of the Final Four. This year, two of the teams in the men's Frozen Four are from Connecticut: Yale University, whose last appearance in the Frozen Four goes all the way back to 1952, and the number one ranked team going into the Frozen Four, Quinnipiac University.

Tonight the Frozen Four gets underway in Pittsburgh. The Frozen Four is the college hockey equivalent of the Final Four. This year, two of the teams in the men's Frozen Four are from Connecticut: Yale University, whose last appearance in the Frozen Four goes all the way back to 1952, and the number one ranked team going into the Frozen Four, Quinnipiac University.

Aaron danielg (Wikimedia Commons)

Aaron danielg (Wikimedia Commons)

It one of the greatest moments in Olympics history, maybe in all of sports -- the 1980 Miracle on Ice. 

USA Hockey

HOST: Bravado and broken bones are commonplace in sled hockey. That's a version of ice hockey played primarily by the disabled. And the competition can be fierce. Patrick Skahill of member station WNPR reports from Newington, Connecticut, where amateur teams are hitting the ice hard for fun.

The Zambonis

Produced by WNPR's Patrick Skahill

If you're a fan of the Bruins or the Rangers, it's looking pretty good your team is heading to playoff action in mid April. 

Besides catching all the games to satisfy your hockey cravings, you could also listen to a Connecticut band that sings about hockey.

Chion Wolf

There’s no sports market in the United States quite like Connecticut.

Almost a Tragedy

Jan 14, 2012

Talk about close calls. It could have been the worst disaster in Connecticut history. On January 17, 1978, a Tuesday evening, 4,746 basketball fans watched the UConn men’s team upset UMass 56-49 at the Hartford Civic Center. About six hours later, in the early morning of January 18, the roof of the sports coliseum collapsed onto 10,000 empty stadium seats. No one was in the building and no one was injured.

Photo: ctwhale.com

Last week, Howard Baldwin made a splash when he proposed putting more than $100 million into the XL Center with the goal of bringing an NHL hockey team back to Hartford.  But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, a report commissioned by the state in 2006 says that no amount of renovations could retrofit the arena to the standards of the NHL. Baldwin is the chairman and CEO Whaler Sports & Entertainment.  He says that a refurbished XL Center would create 1,500 new jobs a year and boost economic activity in downtown Hartford.  Baldwin wants to update the arena's seating, concessions areas, mechanical systems, and surrounding streetscapes.  And a video promoting his vision says the upgrade... "...provides the economic foundation to enable NESE to pursue a National Hockey League franchise in Hartford."