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Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Table Hockey World Championships

Today marks the start of the International Table Hockey Federation (ITHF) 2013 Table Hockey World Championships in Stavanger, Norway.

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The origin of competitive table hockey dates back to the Swedish Championships in 1982 and the Table Hockey World Championships began in 1989 and were held in Stockholm, Sweden. The next edition would not arrive until 1992 in Brno, Czechoslovakia and was quickly followed by the 1993 championships in Paris, France. The tournament then began an every other year schedule which it has maintained since.

Swedes won the first nine World Championship titles, the first coming in 1989 when Mikael Krantz defeated a field of 42 players from 7 countries. 1992 saw Jacob Lindahl win the first of his two titles in the second World Championships, defeating 32 others. Lindahl won the fourth World Championships on home soil to claim his second crown, outlasting a field of 66 players from 8 countires.

Hans Österman then took the 1997 version in Helsinki, Finland and repeated the feat in 2001 in Prague and again in 2005 in Riga, Latvia to become the only 3-time World Champion when he defeated that year's Junior Champion Roni Nuttunen of Finland to prevail over a field which had grown to a record 132 entrants from 22 nationalities!

Österman's third title extended the run of Swedes to nine, which was finally broken when junior Nuttunen became the first player to win back-to-back championships which came in 2007 (Moscow, Russia) and 2009 (Budapest, Hungary). Oleg Dmitrichenko of Russia took the 2011 tournament in Turku, Finland when he dethroned Nuttunen, who was making his fourth straight appearance in the finals. Dmitrichenko prevailed over a field of 105 players from 17 countries. To date the championships have also been held in Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

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Oleg Dmitrichenko winning the 2011 World Championships

In addition to the Men's singles championships, the women have also been participating in their own tournament along side the men since 1992 in Czechoslovakia. France (1), Sweden (3), Finland (4) and Russia (3) have all won championships in that order, with Pila Pulliainen's three consecutive from 2001 to 2005 being the most among the women, but Russian Maria Yalbacheva will be looking to equalize that this weekend.

1997 saw the introduction of the World Junior Championship (18 and under) with Nuttunen standing out for his win in 2005 and achieving the double World Championship in 2007, as he also won the Open Division, the first junior age player to ever do so.

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Nuttunen won both the Open and Junior titles in 2007

The World Veteran Championships (40 and over) were introduced in 2005 and have been contested four times to date.

There are also team championships for both men and women, with the men's division beginning in 1992 and following a similar path to the singles titles, with Sweden dominating the first seven before Finland took one, followed by Sweden again and now Russia twice. The women's Team Championship started in 2005 with the first three going to Russia and the most recent to Finland.

Stiga table hockey games of Sweden are the standard used by the ITHF, the Stiga Play Off model in particular, which features all left handed international player figures as opposed to the Stiga Stanley Cup model, which has a mix of left and right handed NHL players.

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Stiga Play Off Hockey

The ITHF was founded in 2005 and currently has 18 member nations, all familiar hockey playing nations in Europe except Canada and the United States from North America. In addition to the World Championships, there are many local, regional and national tournaments which take place each season.
The 2013 World Championships  begin on Friday at 9:00 AM in Stavanger with competition n the Juniors, Veterans and Ladies Team competitions followed by the individual competitions in the same groups, all of which conclude with a medal ceremony at 9 PM.

Saturday sees the Open Division Individual Group Stages in the morning followed by the Open Team tournament followed by their medal ceremony to end the day, while Sunday is all about crowning the Open Division Individual winner, with over 100 competitors narrowed down throughout the day to determine the overall champion.

To follow the championships, please visit Stiga's Table Hockey Facebook page, the World Championships Facebook page or the tournament website.

To get involved or participate in a tournament, contact the Canadian Table Hockey Association or the United States Table Hockey Association.

To see some of the skills possessed by table hockey players, take a look at this impressive demonstration of goal scoring techniques.

Here is a video recap of the 2011 World Championships, which featured a final between Dmitrichenko and Nuttunen of Finland.

Ever wonder what the knob hockey players are saying on the ice? Here's your chance.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

1989-90 Boston Bruins Cam Neely Jersey

Born on this date in 1965, Cameron "Cam" Neely played his junior hockey for the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League. He gained recognition for his 56 goal, 120 point season in 1982-83 when he led the Winter Hawks to the Memorial Cup championship with 20 points in 14 playoff games, which earned him a 9th overall selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft.

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1983 Memorial Cup champion Cam Neely

He began the next season with Portland, but after 19 games made his NHL debut with the Canucks. He played well enough, scoring 31 points in 56 games, as well as gaining his first NHL playoff experience with four games in which he scored a pair of goals.

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Cam Neely in the Canucks "Flying V" jersey

The next two seasons with Vancouver saw Neely play over 70 games and score 39 and 34 points, Additionally, he showed his rugged side with 137 and 126 penalty minutes. He was however, playing behind veterans Stan Smyl and Toni Tanti and Canucks coach Tom Watt was not a fan of Neely's defensive game, which combined to make Neely expendable in the eyes of the Canucks, who dealt him, also on this date, to the Boston Bruins along with their first pick in the 1987 draft, for former 100 point scorer Barry Pederson.

The change in scenery saw an immediate rise in Neely's production and he scored more goals in his first season in Boston than he did points in Vancouver the year before, and more than doubled his point total from 34 to 72, as the Bruins coaching staff gave him more playing time which led to more confidence.

The 1987-88 season saw a rise in goals to 42 and the first deep playoff run of Neely's career, as the Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, a run that saw Neely contribute 17 points in 23 games. After a then career best 75 points in 1988-89 before exploding with 55 goals and 92 points in 1989-90 prior to the Bruins making a return to the Stanley Cup Finals later that season. Neely had an excellent playoff season, with 28 points in 21 games.

Proving his 55 goal season was no fluke, Neely lit the lamp 51 times in 1990-91 and registered a second consecutive 90 point season with 91. A knee injury suffered during the conference finals that year would change the course of Neely's career and limit him to just 22 games over the next two seasons combined.

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Cam Neely in the 1991-92 Bruins throwback jersey

He rebounded in 1993-94 with 50 goals in his 44th game of the season, a mark only Wayne Gretzky has surpassed. Still suffering from injury problems, Neely was limited to just 49 games that year, leaving many to wonder what his goal total could have reached had he played a full season that year. His ability to return to such a high level of play after essentially missing the previous two seasons earned Neely the Masteron Trophy for 1994.

After two more seasons limited to 42 and 49 games, along with a drop in production to point levels in the 40's, led Neely to call it a career due to a degenerative hip condition.

Neely's #8 was retired by the Bruins in 2004 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.

Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Boston Bruins Cam Neely jersey as worn during Neely's finest season in which he set personal highs with 55 goals and 92 points.

This long-serving Bruins jersey was first used back in 1974 and quickly gained secondary shoulder logos and names on the back by 1977 and then remain essentially unchanged through it's retirement at the end of the 1994-95 season.

Boston Bruins 1989-90 jersey
Boston Bruins 1989-90 jersey

Our first video is a very well done look at highlights of the career of Cam Neely.

Here is a unique look at Cam Neely's 50 goals in 44 games - all 50! - in the 1993-94 season.

Finally, Cam Neely shares his favorite work out routine and then expresses his feelings in no uncertain terms regarding the debut of ESPNews.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Today is Grundlovsdag, or "Constitution Day" in Denmark, which celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Danish Constitution in 1849, which severely limited the King's power and secured basic civil rights.

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This day also honors the Constitution of 1953, which among other things allowed women the right to inherit the throne, which is currently being put to good use by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who became the first woman to hold the Danish throne in 1972.

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Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

Constitution Day in Denmark is rather low key compared to other countries, as some shops are open until noon before then closing for the rest of the day, with celebrations including political speeches and festivals. June 5th also happens to be Father's Day (Fars Dag) in Denmark.

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Denmark currently ranks 12th in the IIHF Mens' World Rankings and has played at the top level of the World Championships since 2003 after an absence of 54 years. While regularly having a tough time, finishing between 10th and 14th our of 16 teams in 10 out of 11 years) the Danes have successfully avoided relegation every time. The first high point for Denmark came in 2003 with an opening 5-2 win versus the United States followed by a 2-2 tie against eventual champions Canada six days later.

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Denmark celebrating their 2003 victory over the United States

Their highest finish came in 2010 when the Danes finished 8th after advancing to the Qualification Round thanks to a 4-1 win over Finland and a 2-1 overtime victory over the United States. Then then demolished Slovakia 6-0 to open the Qualification Round, which combined with their earlier win over Finland, was enough to put Denmark into the Playoff Round where they fell to Sweden 4-2.

Current Danes in the NHL include the Canucks Jannik HansenMikkel Bødker of the Coyotes, Franz Nielsen of the Islanders, Montreal's Lars Eller, Philip Larsen of Dallas and the Senators Peter Regin. Other successful Danes currently play in the Swedish Elitserien.

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Denmark's Lars Eller

Today's jersey is a 2005 Denmark National Team Jesper Damgaard jersey. Damgaard, a defenseman, was the long-time captain of the Danish National Team and played for Denmark at the World Championships a record 17 times, leading the team in games played with 256 while totaling 114 points from the blueline. This jersey features a pair of my custom printed Oddset sponsor patches.

2005 was the high point in our book for international hockey jerseys, as nearly all teams had complete redesigns or very well executed tweaks to their existing jerseys in time for the World Championships in Austria. It was also the last World Championship with the traditional jersey styling and construction before the introduction of the strange feeling, cookie-cutter templated and rather ugly Nike Swift jerseys of 2006.

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Today's video section begins with Denmark's top ten goals since earning their promotion in 2003.

Our final highlight today is Lars Eller's first NHL goal, which came in his debut on November 5, 2009.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes Arturs Irbe Jersey

It was on this date in 2002 that the Carolina Hurricanes opened the Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 overtime victory versus the Detroit Red Wings on a goal by Ron Francis. The series would feature the first matchup between two European born goaltenders, the Red Wings veteran Czech Dominik Hasek and Carolina's Latvian Arturs Irbe.

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Arturs Irbe

Carolina was not expected to be much of a threat to even be in the finals. Despite winning the "South-least" Division with 91 points, they had the second lowest point total of any team in the playoffs that season!

Being that they were a division winner, such as it was, they were seeded third in the Eastern Conference, which allowed them to avoid a first round matchup with the #2 seeded Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, the Hurricanes faced the #6 seeded New Jersey Devils, who they eliminated 4 games to 2. They would advance to the finals by beating the #8 seed, the Montreal Canadiens and the #4 seed, the Toronto Maple Leafs, also by 4-2 margins.

Carolina would fall behind in Game 1 in Detroit on a goal by Sergei Fedorov at 15:21 the first period on a power play, but would equalize in the 2nd on a goal early in the second period from defenseman Sean Hill, also on the power play. The teams would trade goals later in the second, Kirk Maltby scoring for the Red Wings at 10:39 and Jeff O'Neill countering for the visitors at 19:10.

The third period passed scoreless as regulation ended deadlocked at 2-2 with the teams also tied in shots at 25 each.

Francis' winning goal came just 58 seconds into overtime from O'Neill and Sami Kapanen, giving Irbe, who had made 23 saves on 25 shots, his one and only Stanley Cup finals victory, as Detroit would go onto win the next four games to capture the cup.

Today's jersey is a 2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes Arturs Irbe jersey, featuring the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals patch. We are really a fans of the italicized font that the Hurricanes use for their jersey numbers. It really adds a touch of excitement and speed to the overall visual package and we're surprised more teams do not go that route. Currently only Carolina, Calgary and Winnipeg used italicized numbers.

The Hurricanes have used the same jerseys since moving to Carolina for the 1998-99 season, which included the transition to the Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007-08 with only minimal changes.

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Irbe is one of our all-time favorite players. He's got a great personal story and was a very popular player in San Jose and Carolina. Here is a glimpse into what made him unique, from making his own repairs to his aged pads and his pride in his Latvian homeland, which included standing up for what he believed in against the might of the Soviet Union at personal and professional risk.

Here are the highlights of Game 1 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, which features several great saves
by Irbe, particularly one which came with the game tied with roughly nine minutes remaining in the third period.

Monday, June 3, 2013

1992-93 Montreal Canadiens Eric Desjardins Jersey

Game 1 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals had gone to the visiting Los Angeles Kings by a 4-1 score, making it imperative that the Montreal Canadiens respond with a victory in Game 2, played on this date in 1993, before heading to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.

Eric Desjardins got Montreal off to a good start by opening the scoring with 1:29 remaining in the first period. Things had not gone Montreal's way however, as they trailed the Kings 2-1 with just 1:45 remaining in the game after a shorthanded goal by the Kings Dave Taylor in the second period and Pat Conacher's goal at 8:32 of the third. Then, with the moment to pull out all the stops having arrived, Montreal coach Jacques Demers called for a measurement of the Kings Marty McSorley's stick.

The officials huddled and the curvature of McSorley's stick was deemed to be outside the allowable limits, necessitating a two-minute minor against Los Angeles.

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Kerry Fraser measuring McSorley's illegal stick

With McSorley now in the penalty box, leaving the Kings down a man, Demers pulled goaltender Patrick Roy for a 6 on 4 Canadiens advantage. The Canadiens gained control of the puck in the Kings zone and made pass after pass until defenseman Desjardins received the puck out near the blueline in the middle of the zone, where he loaded up and unleashed a slapshot which found the back of the net for his second goal of the night to tie the game with just 1:13 remaining, sending the Montreal faithful into delirium and breaking a 0-for-32 skid on the power play for Montreal.

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Eric Desjardins

Then, still in the first minute of overtime, Benoit Brunet broke into the Kings zone and left a drop pass for the trailing Desjardins, who fired wide to the left of the goal. The puck came to Brunet, now behind the Kings goal, who fed it out to Desjardins at the top of the right faceoff circle, as the defenseman had circled back towards the point. Desjardins then took a stride closer to the goal before letting his shot fly, which beat Kelly Hrudey between the pads for the dramatic game winner just 51 seconds into the extra period, lifting the Montreal fans even higher as the Canadiens celebrated on the ice.

Desjardins third goal of the game made him just the first defenseman in 100 years of Stanley Cup history to score a hat trick in the finals.

The Canadiens would put the momentum of their late comeback in Game 2 to good use, winning a pair of overtime games in Los Angeles before coming back to Montreal to clinch the championship with a 4-1 win in Game 5 at home.

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Desjardins enjoying a moment with the Stanley Cup

It was revealed after the series that the Montreal training staff had snuck into the Kings locker room to secretly measure McSorley's stick in advance of their protest late in Game 2.

In the 19 other playoff games Desjardins played that season, he would score but one other goal, but did contribute 10 assists for 14 total points.

After six seasons with Montreal, Desjardins would be traded to the Philadelphia Flyers and played the remaining 11 years of his career in Philadelphia. He remains the only defenseman to score a ever hat trick in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens Eric Desjardins jersey which features the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals patch, the only time a French version of the Cup Finals patch has been created since it's introduction in 1989.

It was a busy season for the Canadiens seamstresses, as Montreal began the season wearing the 1993 NHL All-Star Game patch. Following the All-Star Game in January, the club wore the Stanley Cup Centennial patch for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, prior to earning the right to wear the Stanley Cup Finals patch as champions of the Wales Conference.

Montreal Canadiens Eric Desjardins Jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's first video is a very well produced look at the Montreal Canadiens run through the playoffs, including the early round highlights.

Our second video is a 2012 interview (in three parts) with McSorley about his his thoughts and recollections on the infamous stick measurement incident and how it came about.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ebay Jersey of the Week - 1996 Czech Republic Bauer Jersey

From time to time we find a jersey that really catches our attention because we know just how long it took us toget one like it for our collection and can't believe that someone hasn't jumped on the "Buy it Now" option or bid it up to a higher price yet.

This week's Third String Goalie Ebay Jersey of the Week is a 1996 Nike Czech Republic National Team jersey. This style was worn during the 1996 IIHF World Championships. where the Czechs won the gold medal. Additionally, this was the final time this short-lived style was worn, as they wore the new "waving flag" style for the 1996 World Cup of Hockey played later in the fall, making this a rare but important style in the history of Czech hockey and one that took us a long time to acquire for our collection.

This particular one looks to be in really good shape, especially for a jersey now 17 years old, and is blank on the back so you still have the option of adding a name and number on the back, such as Robert Lang, team captain Robert Reichel, Pavel Patera, Frantisek Kaberle, David Vyborny, Radek Bonk or goaltenders Roman Turek and Roman Cechmanek.

Here are the jerseys in action during the 1996 World Championships against the United States. Note that the United States has already adopted the waving flag style, which makes the Czech jersey an anomaly during the 1996 Worlds, and leads us to believe it's it's much harder to find than their later own World Cup waving flag style.

Also desirable is that this is a pro model size 52 that comes complete with a fight strap, but read the description carefully, as Bauer jerseys from this era run large, and it is described as being 28" across, which is more like a size 56, equivalent to an XXL in a CCM or Starter replica.

This particular style jersey does have a screen printed crest, which is the way Bauer and Nike made them back then, especially considering the intricacy of the coat of arms crest on the front. It's priced at the very low starting price of $29.99 and at the time of this posting still has no bids. Trust us, these do not come up very often, as we have seen during our time collecting jerseys and if we didn't already have one of our own, or if it were the away red version, we'd be keeping this listing quiet!

Here is a photo of the actual jersey listed for sale, and clicking on it will take to the auction listing on ebay.

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Here are a pair of videos from the gold medal game of the 1996 World Championships, the first being the introduction of the Czech squad and the second a highlight video showing the Czechs defeating Canada to capture an emotional World Championship, their first as the Czech Republic since the division of Czechoslovakia just three years earlier.

In summary, if we didn't have a white 1996 World Championships Czech Republic jersey in our collection already, we'd be thrilled to acquire this rare jersey, especially if the price stays in this region. We like the fact it's blank and appears to be in great condition. Additionally, this seller has an enormous amount of positive feedbacks and a 99.5% positive rating, making us feel very comfortable pointing you in his direction, but, as always, we cannot warranty their future performance.

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