Earlier today the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that broadcaster Bill Davidge had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Davidge has been a long time supporter of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program and it's time for us to rally around him with positive thoughts and prayers."He has been a personal friend, even before the AAA Blue Jackets started, and we will all be pulling for him to beat this cancer," said Ed Gingher.
If you would like to send our friend, Bill Davidge, an email full of love and encouragement please do so at GetWellBilly@BlueJackets.com
Opening weekend was quite the success around the organization. Check out how we did below:
U18s vs Pittsburgh Pens Elite:
The U18s swept the Pens Elite this weekend, 5-3 and 4-3. The boys start the season with a 2-0 record.
U16s vs Pittsburgh Vengeance and Pittsburgh Pens Elite:
The U16s annihilated the Vengeance ,7-2 ,on Saturday. They tied the series with the Pens Elite, winning 3-1 on Saturday and losing 5-1 on Sunday. They start the season with a 2-1 record.
2000svs Tri-State Spartans:
The second sweep of the weekend came from the 2000s. They won both games, 3-1 and 2-1.
2001s vs Tri-State Spartans:
The reigning world champs started the 14-15 season out on the right foot sweeping the Spartans, 2-1 and 8-2.
2002s at the Hockeytown Challenge:
The boys dropped games to the Sylvania North Stars (3-2), Green Bay (3-2), and Little Caesars West (9-2). They were able to avoid getting swept in the Hockeytown Challenge by tying the Chicago Bruins 5-5. They start the season 0-3-1.
2003s vs Compuware:
The 2003s dropped both games to Compuware, 3-1 and 5-1. They fought hard and never quit.
U16s Girls at Stoney Creek Tournament:
The U16 Girls walked away with a trophy this weekend after winning the Consolation Bracket of the Stoney Creek Tournament! Great job girls!
The U16 OAAABJ Girls finished strong at the Stoney Creek Tournament in Hamilton, Ontario, which featured 64 girls teams. Their big finish included winning 3 straight in the Consolation bracket and then a shoot-out win in the final game to take their division. Kylie Wickiser had a big weekend with 3 goals in regulation, 1 sudden death goal and a Shoot-out goal in the championship game. The 16's are off next to Buffalo for exhibition games with the
Regals and Bisons.
Carson Meyer and Brendan Demler are best friends. They play on the same team, share the same birthday, and after high school they will have 4 more years together. On August 14, Meyer committed to play hockey at Dartmouth College.
He feels extremely lucky to have the opportunity to spend four extra years playing hockey with his best friend. “I used to be a weak player, the 10th forward at times,” said Meyer, “I earned my ice time by working hard on and off the ice.” Meyer even acknowledges his coaches for instilling the value of hardwork within him. “It stuck with me and it always will. I will take that hard work and relentlessness to the higher levels with me,” Meyer explained.
An Ivy league education, a beautiful campus, top of the line facility, and a D1 team that just keeps getting better drew Meyer to the thought of playing hockey at Dartmouth. However, like Demler, the coaches are what hooked him. “They love their players and help them out. I love that,” stated Meyer. Plus, who wouldn't jump at the chance to play hockey with their best friend?
Two years ago Brendan Demler (1997) felt lucky to have even become part of the AAA organization. In the past two years he's grown into an exceptional player. Demler gives the AAA Blue Jackets and Coach Ganchar credit for a lot of his current success stating, “What the AAA program has done for players like myself and others before me is incredible.” Through Coach Ganchar he's learned the importance of warm-ups, unpacking your bag before the game, knowing that the most important shift is the one you are currently on, and to be the best at what you do. Demler plans on taking these lessons with him wherever he goes.
Demler also attributes his success to his parents. They always stressed the importance of having good grades and this summer all that hard work paid off. On July 14th, Demler committed to Dartmouth College. “I wanted to go to the best school I could academically, and Dartmouth definitely provides me with an amazing opportunity on that side of things,” explained Demler, “It's hard to pass up an Ivy League education.” Dartmouth's education is just the tip of the iceberg for Demler. After visiting Dartmouth's campus and meeting coaches Gaudet, Rose, and Lassonde it was apparent that this was the school for Demler. “They have everything I've ever dreamed of,” said Demler, “top of the line facilities, outstanding coaches, and a great supporting staff who is always there for the team.”
Despite green being Demler's least favorite color he's more than excited to pull that Dartmouth sweater over his head and show the coaches he was worth the shot. I have a feeling it won't be long before green becomes Demler's favorite color.
Before Hartnell has even set foot on the ice Columbus is already reaping the benefits of having him on the Blue Jackets. Upon being traded to Columbus, Hartnell's people reached out to the CBJ Foundation. The CBJ Foundation immediately reached out to us about sending players to the #HartnellDown Hockey Camp. “He (Hartnell) has been generous enough to invite 6 of our players to the camp along with 4 from the Columbus Ice Hockey Club,” Ed Gingher explained, “The CBJ Foundation has also stepped up in a big way and arranged for all of their travel as well. It should be a wonderful week for them!.”
The #HartnellDown Hockey Camp allows kids (ages 12 - 18) to train the same exact way that Hartnell himself trains in the off-season. Not only do they get to see how Hartnell trains they get to train with him. This is a great opportunity for Rahul Choudhary (2000), William Hortz (20020), Dominick Evangelisti (2003), Ryan Williams (2003), Bryce Queary (1999), Danielle Bunting (1999) and all the other kids who will be in attendance.
Thank you Scott Hartnell, #HartnellDown Foundation, and the CBJ Foundation for supporting the AAA Blue Jackets.
From the moment little boys lace up their first pair of ice skates their mind wanders to dreams of getting drafted to play in the NHL. They spend late nights on the ice, travel all over the country on weekends, and move away from their families at a young age just so they can get a shot at fulfilling their life-long wish. In the past seven years, four Ohio AAA Blue Jackets alumni have heard their name called on draft weekend.
Columbus hosted the 45th NHL Entry Draft in 2007 and hometown boy, Trent Vogelhuber, was draft eligible. Round after round went without Vogelhuber being called to the stage. It looked as though 2007 was not his year. There were hundreds of hopefuls left and one team left to pick. The team on the board? The Jackets. Would Vogelhuber get drafted by the hometown team? Or would he have to wait another year for his dream to take form? On June 23rd, 2007 Vogelhuber got what every little boy wearing hockey skates dreams of; to be drafted by the hometown team.
After being drafted, Vogelhuber played for the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers. He then went on to play four years of hockey at Miami University (2008-2012). While at Miami, Voglehuber played 149 games, scored 21 goals, and had 30 assists. At the end of the 2011-12 season he headed to Springfield, Mass to play out the rest of the Falcons season. Vogelhuber has been playing in the Jackets system ever since leaving Miami and was resigned in June for one more year.
Connor Murphy and Sean Kuraly had both heard of each other before playing together. Putting two highly talented and well known players on a team could get a little dicey. Luckily, once they became part of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets organization they became fast friends. They pushed each other to be better hockey players. In 2011, their growing talent caught the eye of many NHL scouts. Both Murphy and Kuraly placed in the top 10 of multiple combine tests. They clearly impressed many because both of them were drafted in the 2011 NHL entry draft. Murphy went 20th overall to the Phoenix Coyotes and Kuraly went 133rd overall to the San Jose Sharks.
After being drafted by the Coyotes, Murphy played two seasons in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting. Then during the 2013-14 season he played 66 games between the Portland Pirates (AHL) and the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL). Murphy tallied 1 goal and 20 assists during the 2013-14 season.
Sean Kuraly took a different route after being drafted by the Sharks. He went to the USHL to play for Indiana Ice for a year and then headed to college at Miami University. During the past two seasons (2012-14) at Miami, Kuraly played a total of 78 games and tallied 41 points.
While playing with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets U16 team (2010-11) Cole Cassels played 37 games, had 11 goals, and 23 assists. During that season he caught the eye of teams in both the USHL and OHL. Cassels was drafted 16th overall by the Oshawa Generals (OHL) and 45th overall by Muskegon (USHL). He opted to sign with the Oshawa Generals that year. Two years later the Vancouver Canucks drafted Cassels 85th overall.
Over the past three season with the Oshawa Generals Cassels has played in 189 games, scored 42 goals, and had 85 assists. He is constantly growing, getting faster, stronger, and his hockey IQ is off the charts. Cassels will be a force to reckon with once he enters the NHL playing field. Which shouldn't be too long from now. He officially signed with the Vancouver Canucks in December of 2013.
Cole Cassels Invited to USA World Junior Team Evaluation Camp
Photo Credit: Oshawa Generals
Cole Cassels will be headed to Lake Placid, New York, August 2-9, to partake in the USA World Junior Team Evaluation Camp. He will join 41 other players from around the US to compete for a spot on the 2015 IIHF World Juniors Championship squad. During evaluation camp they will go toe-to-toe with teams from Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic.
The 2015 World Juniors will take place December 26 - January 5 in Toronto and Montreal.
Two Ohio AAA Blue Jackets were taken in the 2014 NAHL Draft. The Coulee Region Chill selected Goalie, Jimmy Thomas, 55th overall. Defenseman, Ryan Solomon was selected 76th overall by the Minnesota Magicians. Congratulations boys! Continue to make us proud!
While in Belarus, Connor Murphy may not have put any points on the board but was truly an asset to Team USA. In the 5 games Murphy played, he had 7 shots on goals and a -1. With 82:37 TOI, He managed to pull more ice time than some of his teammates who played all 8 games. Unfortunately, USA didn't make it to a medal round so their trip for a medal was cut short.
The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets is offering a summer ice program. It will be a 10 week session beginning June 12th and will be every week (except the week of July 4th) until August 19th. This session is open to all current U16 AAA players, U18 AAA players, and alumni Jr. or College players.
The summer ice schedule is below. The sessions are 90 minutes in length – 30 min of drills / skill work (skating, shooting, passing) and 60 minutes of scrimmage and/or small area games. Two AAA coaches will run these ice sessions each week.
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
U16 / U18
We will structure this a little differently then we have in the past. This year we will offer two packages.
Package 1: $250.00 for 10 weeks
Package 2: $150.00 for 5 weeks
The cost for goalies is $125 for all 10 weeks and is limited to 3 goalies.
There will be no pay per session or pro-rate option this year as we have run into issues of players showing up and skating without paying.
*If a player shows up to skate this year and he is not on the list, he will not be able to go on the ice.
Players will need to bring a light (white, yellow, gray) and dark jersey (navy, black, red) to the skates. We will divide the teams the night of the skates. Please bring your own water bottle.
Checks need to be made payable to the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets and mailed to the address below.
Ohio AAA Blue Jackets
6937 Kilimanjaro Ct.
Dublin, OH 43017
We will limit the number of players pending sign ups. Your spot will be secured once payment has been received.
Ben Sward is a Marine Engineer by day and Podcast Creator by night. The 2008 graduate of Dublin Jerome recently created a sports podcast for listeners who crave something real called AgonMinds. The word “agon” means “competition” in Greek. “It also refers to an internal battle or conflict between two characters in play,” Sward explained, “Every guest is competitive and we talk about their internal and external conflicts; struggling with body-image, overcoming injury, etc.” Sward created AgonMinds to show people the other side of athletes and coaches. “So much of what we see everyday is scripted,” said Sward, “I was craving something that I could tune into and hear a professional simply being themselves and talking about what they want.” When you tune in not only will the guests personalities shine through but you will learn a lot about what it takes to be an athlete. From talking about how the hockey draft works to studying bat swings the amount of knowledge you will gain while listening to AgonMinds is incredible.
While there are millions of ideas that float around Sward's head on a daily basis there are only two things he wants to accomplish. To have fun and spread a positive message. “We want to share the message that has worked for us with anybody trying to be successful,” Sward said, “Work hard for what you want, keep a positive mind, and be good to people, then you will find success.” AgonMinds is able to spread this message by the guests they have on the show. Every week there is a different athlete from different walks of life who approach life with a zest for life. “That's why I invite people like Connor Murphy onto the show. The kid has extraordinary talent, but on top of that he has a tremendous personality, he is incredibly genuine, and just an overall enjoyable guy,” Sward said, “It's obvious after talking to him why he has seen success and will continue to see success.”
Connor Murphy isn't the only Ohio AAA Blue Jackets alum that has made an appearance on AgonMinds. Today's guest was Sean Kuraly. Follow the links below to learn what Murphy and Kuraly are up to now.
Three Ohio AAA Blue Jackets were drafted during Phase 2 of the 2014 USHL Draft. Carson Meyer (154th) was drafted by the Tri-City Storm. Zach Tyson (106th) and Brenden Demler (297th) will be joining alum, Kiefer Sherwood, on the Youngstown Phantoms. Shortly after being drafted, Zach Tyson tweeted out "I want to thank the AAA Blue Jackets for everything. It's a world class organization and I love seeing the development of hockey in Columbus." Truthfully, It's players like these three who help grow our program and make it the organization it is today. Congratulations and Good Luck. We are proud.
This past week the Portland Pirates announced their 2013-14 team awards. Defenseman, Connor Murphy won the Jack Button Memorial Award. The award is given out by the organization to their top prospect. You can read more about the award on the Pirates website.
After breezing through the first two rounds of the playoffs the Oshawa Generals playoff run came to an end in the third round on Wednesday. Alternate Captain, Cole Cassels had an outstanding showing in the playoffs. He placed second on the team in playoff goals (6) and playoff assists (11).
After leaving the AAA Blue Jackets organization, Jude Warner, played four years in the NAHL from 2011-2013. This season he played in the EHL for the Philadelphia Little Flyers putting up 15 goals and 23 assists. On April 15th, Warner committed to St. Mary's to play NCAA hockey. You can read more about what Warner has been up to here
On April 14th, the Billingham Stars lost in the semi finals. Andy Finn had 7 assists in the 18 games he was able to play this season.
After a season of success in the Phoenix Coyote's organization Connor Murphy caught the eye of some important people. In a few weeks, he will be headed to Belarus to represent USA in the 2014 Mens Ice Hockey World Championship. Murphy is no stranger to international ice. In 2011, Murphy traveled to Germany with the USA U18 team. In the gold medal game vs Sweden, Murphy injured his knee while blocking a shot. He chose to play through his injury instead of leaving the game to have medical attention. Murphy ended up scoring the game winner in overtime. Murphy won another gold medal in last year's World Juniors Championship held in Russia.
This year's Men's Ice Hockey World Championship begins May 9 and ends May 25. Team USA's first game is against the host country, Belarus, on May 9 at 1:45 pm.
The 2013-2014 season has come to a close. It started with a new coach (Jeff Christian) and a new set of kids entering the AAA program (2003). The season ended with a world trophy (2001) and an appearance at Nationals (U16s Boys). There was heartbreak, revenge matches, and games that will be talked about for years to come. This season was definitely a season to remember.
You've got the memories but do you have the stats? Join me as I break the season down by the numbers.
9 is the number of teams in the organization.
Among the 9 teams 478 games were played.
150 were played in Ohio.
321 were played out of the state.
7 were played out of the country.
The most games were played by the 2001s with 63.
196 games were won.
60 were won at home.
136 were won on the road
The 2001s had the most amount of wins with 41.
66 opposing teams were shut out.
13 of which were by the U16 boys.
1088 goals were scored
The most goals scored this season were by the 2001s with 267.
Both the 2001s and U16 boys lead the organization with most goals scored in a game with 11.
234 teams were played
217 were American teams
17 were from other countries
3 is the number of great speeches I heard this season.
2001s Coach Todd Ehrie gave the speech from “Miracle” changing the word “Soviets” to 'Hershey” during the Quebec City Tournament.
U18s assistant coach Steve Rudy Petures:
“Never get caught telling a hockey player it's just a game. Never get caught trying to explain to him all the things in the world that matter so much more. His mind might well acknowledge the truth to your point, but his soul will be powerless to accept it. Considering the immensity of what he gives to the sport, and the immeasurably of all it offers in return. Nothing ever feels as perfect as a moment of flawlessness on the ice. No bond as strong as one that compels brothers to bleed for one another. Not many leaders are this versed in the craft of motivation. Not many pursuits evoke such visions of brilliance. This is why it hurts so much when skill falls short of what the will desires. This is why it's so unforgettable when absolute passion yields ultimate reward. That's all still just the start of what the game can do to you. While you watch from a distance, remember what was validated up close. Hockey may in fact be just a game, but it's also who we are.”
Two losses by the U16 Boys at Nationals left them out of contention for the finals. They still had one game left to play though. This is what Alex Syring had to say going into the game “We will be playing for everyone. We are going to fight for a win tomorrow and battle for pride.”
Another great interview brought to you by 2001 Spencer Cox.
Nick Hall was one of the lucky kids who had a parent on the Quebec City Tournament trip. Needless to say his dad was quite impressed in how things turned out for the boys. So what did he have to say about the trip?
Trent Vogelhuber and the Springfield Falcons have secured a spot in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs. The last two games of the regular season are on April 11 (vs Portland Pirates) and April 12 (vs Hershey Bears). In the 27 games Vogelhuber has played in this season he has scored 1 goal and assisted 8 of them.
Austin Pooley and the Omaha Lancers are in the USHL playoffs. They play April 12th against Sioux City.
The Oshawa Generals are one game away from moving onto the third round of the OHL playoffs. In the last three games Cole Cassels has scored 3 goals. Tonight they play against Peterborough.
Connor Murphy was in town on Tuesday when the Coyotes played the Jackets. Many friends and family were in attendance for the game. Even his billets made the trek down from Sarnia to see him.
On April 2, Connor McDonald had an assist in the Chicago Steel's win over the Youngstown Phantoms. In that same game,Kiefer Sherwood scored a goal and tallied an assist.
Jack Roslovic had a goal and an assist on April 4, when USA U17 beat Sioux City 9 to 6. The next night Roslovic had an assist in the 7-4 win over Dubuque.
Andy Finn of the Billingham Stars has played 20 games this season. Even though he spent much of the season battling an injury he was still able to assist 7 goals.
The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are pleased to announce the coaches for the U16 and U14 Girls teams:
U16 Girls Head Coach - John Markell
U14 Girls Co-Coaches - John Markell and Jeremy Browning
Program Coordinator, Ed Gingher, added, "As we bring the girls teams under our heading, we needed to add quality and experienced coaches who can help our girls continue to develop on and off the ice. John brings over 15 years of head coaching experience to our program at the D1 level with Ohio State. He is a former CCHA Player of the Year as well as Coach of the year. Jeremy is a few years into his coaching career as he assisted Ohio Univ D1 & D2 Club teams. Both are ready to help build the girls side of the program and I am very excited to add both of these coaches to our line up!"
In this week's "What Did They Say Wednesday", Spencer Cox interviews Mr. Carper about his experience in Quebec. Click the link below to find out what Sam Carper's dad had to say about his experience in Quebec City.
Two days after the trip home Mr. Carper headed overseas to Afghanistan. This trip was the last time he'd see his son, Sam, play for awhile. Bringing home the trophy was definitely the cherry on the top of his trip.
On the ride home from Quebec City this past February I let Spencer Cox, Drake Barnish, Foster White, Sean Coonfare, and Sam Carper of the 2001 team run around with my voice recorder. They interviewed parents, teammates, and siblings about the trip. I was impressed with some of their interviews so through out the next couple of weeks I will be posting them in a segment called "What Did They Say Wednesday".
In our first interview Spencer Cox asked fellow teammate, Nick Hall, what he thought of the trip. What did he say? Click the link below to find out
District Championships at Chiller North this weekend
Come on out to Chiller North this weekend (Friday, March 14 - Sunday, March 16) to root on our Ohio AAA Blue Jackets U18, U16 and 1999 teams as they each battle to advance to the Tier 1 USA Hockey Nationals! Show your support and let's make some noise cheering for our teams!!
Blake Edwards Named To NESCAC 2nd Team All-Conference
On March 6th, the NESCAC released the Men’s Ice Hockey All-Conference list. AAA Blue Jackets alum and current co-captain of Tufts Hockey, Blake Edwards, was named to the 2nd Team All-Conference. This is a monumental moment for both Blake Edwards and Tufts hockey. Edwards is the first Tufts’ defenseman since they joined the NESCAC league in the 2002-03 season to earn All-Conference honors.
With 11 points this season, Edwards is tied for 12th in points among blue liners throughout the league. He has proven to be an asset on the power play by assisting with five of the 23 power play goals Tufts has this season. Tufts’ 23 power play goals put the team tied for 3rd in the league for extra man goals.
Over the past 3 seasons Edwards has 10 goals and 29 assists.
This weekend the 2002s traveled to Canton, Ohio to partake in the Mid Am Tournament. Thanks to a few upsets the boys were able to jump into the Championship game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pens Elite. They lost the game, 4 to 2, and placed second in the tournament. "They were a tough team and we played hard", said Assistant Coach Jesse Predhomme.
Below is a breakdown of the tournament.
Game 1 vs The Cleveland Barons
Outcome: Won; 5 to 1
Goals: Walker (2), Watts, Sensky, and Trudeau
*Watts goal was his first AAA career goal.
Game 2 vs Sylvania
Outcome: Lost, 4 to 0
Game 3 vs The Cleveland Barons
Outcome: Won; 3 to 1
Goals: Chaykowski, Trudeau, and Kish
Game 4 vs Pittsburgh Pens Elite (Championship Game)
The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets are pleased to announce the boys Head Coaches for the 2014-15 season. Girls coaches will be announced soon.
U18 – Ed Gingher
U16 – Perry Ganchar
2000 – Luke Pavlas
2001 – Andrew Cassels
2002 – Jeff Christian
2003 – Todd Ehrie
2004 – Dale Jordan
Program Coordinator, Ed Gingher, added, “Again, I am very excited and proud of the lineup of coaches we have assembled for next season. This is a great group of coaches who believe in the philosophies and foundations of our program. They will help our players improve as hockey players both on and off the ice.”
Squirt Major – Bantam Major along with Girls U16 & Girls U14 tryouts are scheduled for April 12-14. U18 and U16 Tryouts are scheduled for May 23-25. Click on the Tryout link for all the information. To sign up for tryouts, please click:
2001 Jackets Take Home The Quebec City Peewee Tournament Cup
The boys traveled 18 hours to get to this tournament. Parents and players have taken over a week off of work/school. They are trying to make this trip worth every moment. The Colisee is packed with people we don’t know who are fans of this tournament. Some cheering for us. Some against us. Back home local Columbus bar, R-Bar, located in the heart of the Arena District is streaming the game live. Players, coaches, and parents of the AAA organization are watching the game at R-Bar surrounded by fans of the organization. This game means a lot to many of the players and coaches. This is the last game Sam Carper’s dad will watch before heading to Afghanistan for a few months. Coach Todd Ehrie could become the first Jackets coach to bring home the trophy. Dalton Miller will have double bragging rights over his brother who played on the '97 team. The team will prove that their win yesterday wasn’t just a fluke that they were meant to win this tournament. For the Billets, watching the Jackets play is like watching their own kids play. They have created a quick bond with the boys that will last a lifetime. This team is not the Jackets to them it’s their Jackets. Today is a great day to be a Jackets fan.
As the Jackets take the ice for warm-ups the Nordiques flag is proudly displayed to show support for their billet brothers who didn't make it to the finals. Jackets and Nordiques fans loudly cheer as one.
Straight off the face-off Landshof (17) shoots one at the Swiss goalie but is stopped. Lots of great work coming out of Foster (20) and Giambrone (9) in the first few minutes of the period. Their stick handling and speed has been incredible thus far. With 5:23 left in the 1st Swiss' Hasler (87) puts one in the net. Swiss are now up 1 to 0. Two minutes later White (20) has a breakaway stolen by Swiss' Baumann (11). He rushes down the ice and just like that the Swiss are up 2 to 0. Not even a full minute later Landshof (17) sees an opening in front of the net and passes to Vidrick (21). The Jackets are now within one goal. With 4.8 seconds to go Vidrick (21) makes an attempt to tie the game up but gets shot down by the Swiss goalie. The period ends and the Jackets head to the locker room down a goal.
At the start of the second period Vidrick (27) makes an incredible stop off the face-off. A few minutes later Cox (13) goes hard against the boards and clears the puck out. No one was able to convert that play into a goal. A little over four minutes into the second Carper (44) breaks away and immediately is triple teamed by the Swiss. He was able to shoot the puck down the ice right into the goalie's pads. A penalty is called on Swiss' Pezzulli (7) for holding. The Jackets are getting rebound after rebound but nothing is going in. They are hungry for a win and it clearly shows. Carper fires the puck right between the legs of the goalie with under two minutes left and the Jackets tie the game up. Nineteen seconds later Vineyard (8) passes to Vidrick (21) who launches the puck into the net. Jackets finally get into a flow and the period ends. Jackets head to the locker room up 3 to 2.
A clock malfunction starts out the third. 45 seconds into the first Landshof (17) breaks away from the pack, backhand shoots, and just misses the goal. A minute later the Swiss launch the puck towards Vidrick (27) who gets low to the ice to stop the puck from entering the net. The Swiss rebound, shot, and Vidrick (27) pounces on the puck. At 4:59 Carper (44) goes top shelf and gives the Jacket a two goal lead. The Jackets are now up 4 to 2. The win is so close you can taste it but there is still a lot of time left on the clock. The Jackets continue to pounce all over rebounds for the next few minutes. At 9:01, Miller (10) goes to the box for tripping. The penalty is successfully killed. The game is back to even strength but not for long. At 11:12 there's a lot of traffic around the net. Vidrick (21) works hard to get the puck in but the refs blow the whistle before he gets a chance. The refs end up calling Vidrick (21) for slashing and they are back on the penalty kill. Jackets were once again able to kill the penalty successfully.
As the clock wound down the tears were flowing. The Jackets had just made history as the winners of the 55th annual Quebec City Peewee Hockey Tournament. This moment was very bittersweet for all of us. It was time to take the trophy back to America but that meant leaving behind the family we just gained.
A revenge match for the ages took place between the Hershey Bears and Blue Jackets tonight. The last time the Jackets made it this far in the Quebec City Peewee Hockey Tournament was four years ago when the 97s were in the tournament. They took on the same team, the Hershey Bears, and lost. Current 2001 coach,Todd Ehrie, was assistant coach of the 97s at the time. This game is his shot at redemption. Make it out of this round alive and he makes history as being the first coach to get the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets to the finals of the Quebec City Peewee hockey tournament.Coach Ehrie will also prove that hard work and determination lead to great results. You can’t go back but you can always move forward and get better.
The first period started out a little slow. There were a few collisions along the boards and both teams seemed to be getting their legs under them. Then, halfway through the first period, White (20) breaks away and is stopped by the goalie. This fires up the Jackets and with 4:25 left in the period Vineyard scores. 24 seconds later a crowd of players show up in front of Hershey's net. Cox finds an opening and scores putting the Jackets up 2 to 0. With 2:30 left in the period Hershey had a breakaway and it seemed as though they would score. Daily (11) came out of no where and stole the puck. There was no goal to be had for Hershey. Under 30 seconds left in the period and Vidrick (27) comes under attack. Hershey shoots and Vidrick (27) blocks it. They rebound and shoot again. This time Vidrick (27) pounces on the puck and doesn't let it out of his sight. The first period ends with no penalties and no points on the board.
The second period started with a clock malfunction. The Jackets took this time to clear their minds and focus on what they were going to do next. What they did next was come out guns blazing. Seven seconds after the puck dropped Carper (44) snuck the puck in past the goalie. The Jackets are now up 3 to 0. A few minutes later, Fortin (55) planted himself in front of the goal. A Hersey Bear winds up, shoots, and the puck bounces off of Fortin as if it were a bouncy ball. White (20) sees this happen, swoops in, and passes the puck to Carper (44). He shoots and scores the fourth Jackets goal of the game. Jackets are now up 4 to 0. With a little over two minutes left in the period Raymond (84) heads to the box for holding and the Jackets begin to show off their penalty kill skills. Thirty seconds later Hershey's McDonough (20) heads to the box for holding and the game is back at even strength. With 23 seconds left in the game Vidrick (21) sauces the puck to Landshof (17) who then scores. Jackets are now up 5 to 0. The Jackets ended the period with three unanswered goals. One period stands between them and history. We all know anything can happen.
The Hershey Bears are aiming for a comeback and 1:01 into the 3rd period Hershey's Benchich went top shelf to put the Hershey Bears on the board. After a few shaky minutes of play the Jackets start to get their head back in the game. Then with 4:50 left in the game the clock malfunctioned again. Yet again the Jackets got together and chatted with each other during the impromptu break. This time instead of one team coming out from the break guns blazing someone knocked the puck out of play. Now there was even more time for both teams to collect their thoughts and refocus. It worked out well for Hershey because a few seconds later they scored making it 5 to 2. Jackets still had a three goal lead but like I said anything can happen in a high intensity game. With 2:27 the Jackets go down a man after Landshof (17) heads to the box for slashing. Not even 30 seconds later Vidrick (21) gets slashed by Hershey's Yingling and both teams are back at even strength. The Jackets continue to dump the puck and the game ends with the Jackets winning 5 to 2. Columbus has made history and will enter the finals for the first time in the history of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.
After the game Coach Todd Ehrie told me that this win was for the 97s.
The Jackets next game will be at 1:30 pm Sunday vs the Swiss Eastern Selects at the Pepsi Colisee in Quebec City. If you are living in Columbus, Ohio there will be a live stream of the game at R-Bar in the Arena District downtown. Come out and support the boys.
The Jackets had two days off in between tournament games. To keep them fresh and focused the coaches set up two friendly exhibition games on Thursday and Friday. These games took place at Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City. In case you were wondering, Galeries de la Capitale is a mall with an ice rink and a mini amusement park in the middle of all the shops. Behind one goal is a Merry-Go-Round. Behind the other goal is a mechanical balloon ride. Above the rink is a Ferris wheel, a rollercoaster, and a cat walk that you can watch the game from. There are not many places to do off ice warmups so the boys warmed up in the arcade. There are distractions everywhere you turn. Playing at this rink definitely teaches a player how to stay focused and ignore what is happening off the ice.
Since these games were exhibition games I'm not going to get into a full blown wrap up. I will on the other hand give you some key takeaways from each game.
Thursday's game vs North Shore Winter Club from Vancouver, BC. They lost 4 to 2.
Goals for the Jackets were scored by Fleet (24) and Vidrick (21)
Vidrick (21) is one sneaky goal scorer. If a goalie takes their attention off of Vidrick for even a second he will capitalize on the moment, and score.
The pass from Miller (10) to Fleet (24) that lead to the Jackets first score was so beautiful it made me tear up.
Mason Fortin (55) may be one of the smallest guys on the team but boy is he strong. He can toe to toe with some of the biggest opposing players. Moxy like that is hard to find.
One doesn't get as scared when the Jackets pull their goalie because their extra attacker always adds something to the game.
Friday's game vs Shawinigan Cataractes. The Jackets won 4 to 3
Goals for the Jackets were scored byCarper (44), Vidrick (21), and Giambrone (9)
Carper (44) was on fire during this exhibition game with 2 goals, a beauty of an assist from behind the net.
There is no stopping Vidrick (21) when he goes top shelf.
Giambrone (9) knows how to use his small stature to his advantage. Kid can sneak in and pop a puck over the goalie's shoulder with out being seen.
Both teams consistently used the boards to their benefit.
The NBA should bring the Jackets in to teach the players how to rebound a ball since they have been phenomenal at converting rebounded pucks into goals.
After Friday's game many of the parents, billets, and players booked it to the Best Buy in the mall to watch the Canada vs United States men's hockey game. A huge thank you to the Best Buy worker who turned all the televisions to the game. You sir are a good man.
The Jackets play against de Mortagne noir et or on Saturday at 9:15am. This is an elimination round tournament game.
Click the links below for photos from both days of exhibition games:
Third round of the Quebec City Peewee Hockey tournament and it's all or nothing. You win, you move on. You lose, you go home empty handed. This game is do or die.
Two minutes into the first Cox (13) glove and stick get knocked off. He doesn't let this rattle him. He just gets to work on the board to try and make something work for the Jackets. At 4:04 Landshof (17) goes to shoot the puck and gets knocked down. He immediately shakes it off and gets back up. A lot of nice stick handling out of this Landshof thus far. A little under the halfway mark Vidrick (27) senses someone sneaking around the back of the net, glides swiftly to the right of the net, and stops the puck from going into the net. A minute later Fleet (24) is triple teamed and manages to launch the puck towards the de Mortagne net. The puck may have been stopped but Fleet (24) just proved he's a force to be reckoned with. With a little of two minutes left in the first Vidrick (21) goes to the box for slashing. The Jackets do a great job of keeping the puck out of their zone during the penalty kill. This is something they have struggled with throughout this tournament. There's a traffic jam in front of the net, with 30 seconds left, and Vidrick (27) manages to stop the puck from going in. The period ends with no goal on the board for either team.
The second period starts off a little slow. During that slow time you see a lot of nice tape to tape passes between Vidrick (21) and Cox (13). With 9:35 left in the game Miller (10) sails the puck towards the goalie and is stopped. If the puck had gone in it would have been one beautiful goal. A lot of traffic in front of Mortagne’s net with 7:55 left. Unfortunately nothing comes of the traffic because their goalie was like a brick wall. One minute left in the period and Vidrick (27) keeps batting down pucks like cat playing with a string. The period ends with both teams still tied at zero. No matter the outcome of this game it will be a memorable one because both these goalies are putting on a show.
The third period starts off with a bang. 46 seconds into the period Landshof (17) sneaks one past the traffic and puts the Jackets on the board. Almost immediately Mortagne gets their revenge and scores, tying it up. 1-1. Less than a minute later the Jackets go on a powerplay as Fontaine (9) is sent to the box for interference. Before the penalty clock winds down Vidrick (21) set Carper (44) up for a nice goal that puts the Jackets back on top, 2-0. At this point in the game Fortin (55) and Morrone (28) become the Great Wall of China and block shot after shot before they can get to the goalie. At 7:42, a Montargne breakaway gets stuffed by Vidrick (27) but Levesques (16) sneaks a rebound in to tie the game back up at 2. A little over two minutes left in the period and Guay (28) heads to the box for slashing. Jackets are back on the powerplay but are unable to make anything happen. The period ends still tied at 2 and we head to overtime at the Colisee.
Overtime was an intense five minutes and the Jackets put on a show. Fortin (55) continually got into everyone’s business trying to stop the offense from getting anywhere near our goalie. Vidrick (21) pulled out a few spin-o-rama moves in an attempt to throw the opposition off.Landshof (17) used his body as a shield by throwing it in front of any puck that came his way. Overtime ended without a goal from either team. Shootout here we come.
Mortagne's Tremblay (4) shoots first and misses the net. Up next is Landshof (17). He shoots and it bounces off the goalies glove right into the net. Mortagne's Giguere (10) misses and it all comes down to Cox (13). He handles the puck well as he speeds down the ice towards the net. Cox shoots and he scores. The Jackets are headed towards the semi finals.
There they were at the Pepsi Colisee. The boys had been there all day. First doing media interviews and then taking in games at the tournament. Of course trading pins was involved in this scenario. The parents were nervous, the billets were nervous, and one billet brother told me he might puke while thinking about the game. With the exception of a few , the Jackets seemed cool as cucumbers. Laughing, joking, and jamming out to music before they head to the locker room. The team mascot Beck Morrone was dreaming about the cotton candy that Foster White’s sister Libby gave him. He’s a pleasant distraction for all the parents and billets. All they asked is that the boys play their best.
The first period started out with a bang as Vineyard (8) scored 42 seconds after the puck dropped. He was assisted by Vidrick (21) and Landshof (17). For the next few minutes Coonfare (30) puts on a show making beautiful kick and glove saves. Around the four minute mark Vidrick (21) passes to Landshof (17) who immediately passes the puck back to Vidrick (21). He shoots and the puck grazes the post. Mere moments later the Pionniers take two penalties within 19 seconds of each other putting the Jackets on a 5 on 3 power play. The first penalty is killed with out a goal and that's when the Jackets really apply the pressure. With hard work comes great reward. As the power play clock winds down Carper (44) sauces the puck to Barnish (19) and he knocks it in for a goal. The Jackets now lead 2 to 0. At 7:07, Cox (13) heads to the penalty box for a hit to the head. The Jackets play a tight and clean two minutes to kill the penalty. They end the period at even strength and up by 2.
The second period starts with Giambrone (9) fighting hard against the boards to keep the Pionniers from getting a leg up on the team. He won that battle but unfortunately the Pionniers' Beauregard (51) was able to sneak off with the puck and score on a breakaway. Thirty seconds into the second period the score is now 2 to 1 in the Jackets favor. The Jackets begin to apply even more pressure but it's not enough. The Pionniers' Beauregard (51) sails the puck over to Lauzon (59) and he shoots the puck over Coonfare's (30) shoulder. The game is now tied with a little under 10 minutes left to play in the second. 27 seconds later (2:38) the Jackets grab a hold of the lead when Giambrone (9) scores with the help of White (20). Under a minute later the Jackets are down a man as White (20) heads to the box for cross checking. The Jackets successfully killed the penalty. A little under the 7 minute mark Daily (11) wins a battle on the boards and breaks away to score an unassisted goal. The Jackets are now up 4 to 2. With two and a half minutes to play Jackets go on a power play. The Jackets are unsuccessful on the power play but hang onto the lead as they head into intermission.
No goal was to be had in the third period until a little after the 3 minute mark when the Pionniers' Beauregard (51) snuck one in past Coonfare (30). Three minutes later there is a lot of traffic and shuffling in front of the net. The Pionniers' Fortin (42) manages to get his stick right into the thick of it and poke the puck into the net. The score is all tied up at 4 and the Jackets call a time out. During the timeout Vidrick (27) comes in to replace Coonfare (30). Within two minutes of entering the game Vidrick (27) makes two incredible save. He reaches out and catches the pucks like he's playing catch with the other team. At 8:58 Vidrick (21) scores a much needed goal, with help from Landshof (17) and Morrone (28), to put the Jackets ahead 5 to 4. At 11:12 the Pionniers' Savard (54) knocks down Vidrick (21) and goes to the box for holding. The Jackets have a short lived powerplay when Vidrick (21) gets called for hooking 47 seconds later. Both teams successfully kill their penalties and play heats up. The Pionniers pull their goalie so they can gain an extra attacker. With 36 seconds left in the game Vidrick (21) breaks away from the pack. As the Pionniers try to catch Vidrick they trip him and he flies into the net. Rules state that if a player has a clear path to an empty net and is knocked over it's an automatic goal. With that being said the Jackets are now up 6 to 4. The Jackets hold onto the lead for the last 36 seconds and head to the next round of the tournament.
After shaking hands the boys headed over to the corner of the ice in front of section 119. The Jackets raised their sticks high and brought them to the ice to salute their parents and billets. To celebrate the win the boys cheered on one of their billet brothers who plays for the Nordiques. The Nordiques move onto the next round of play after blanking St. Louis.
With this win the Jackets will play on Saturday February 22nd at 9:15am. They will play the winner Friday's de Morteigne Noir Et Or vs Detroit Little Caesers South game.
Tomorrow and Friday the Jackets will play exhibition games to keep them fresh for Saturday's game.
Being a parent is tough work when you are at these types of tournaments. While some may look at the parents taking a little over a week off to come to Canada as a vacation, I can assure you that is not the case. There are games to be watched, hugs to be given, laundry to be done, equipment malfunctions to be fixed, and sick kids to be nursed back to health. It's a whirlwind of activities that leave you longing for your bed at 7pm.
Today the parents had a rare occasion to spend more than a few hours to themselves. Nothing was scheduled until the game at 3:30pm, so what they did until then was up to their discretion. The parents were spread about in three places around Quebec.
A group of dads spent the day at the Colisee with the boys after they had been interviewed by the media. They made sure the boys were well fed and didn't exert any unneeded energy before the game. It was also a great chance for some of the dads to spend some much needed one on one time with their boys.
There were others who stayed at the hotel for the day. Some recovered from the whirlwind of events that they had partaken in over the past few days. It can get taxing to go from extra billet dinners to watching their billets' kids play hockey to watching their own kids play hockey. Some parents spent the day doing work. That’s right, I said work. These parents all have jobs back in Ohio. They took the time off to spend with their kids and to support their kids in the Quebec City Peewee Hockey Tournament. They have made sure their kids are their number one priority but the parents have other obligations that extend beyond the ice rink. I've seen each of these parents check in with their work through out the week. It's a reminder to these kids and to all of us that the work obligations help pay to make the hockey dream a realization.
Another set of parents decided to get out and relax their minds by getting fresh air at Montmorency falls. I opted to go with this group. Montmorency Falls is located in Quebec on the Montmorency River. At 275 ft high and 150 wide, Montmorency Falls is biggest waterfall in Quebec. The scenery was breathtaking and we got a work out in climbing the stairs to the suspension bridge that looks out over the falls. During the winter you can find two people hard at work clearing the icy snow off of the bridge so people can walk across with ease. After taking in the scene on top of Montmorency Falls we made our way back down to the entrance and took a cable car to the bottom of the falls. No matter what angle you saw Montmorency Falls it was beautiful.
Each set of parents spent their free time doing something different but at the end of the day they all sat together at the Colisee, wearing their Jackets colors, cheering on their boys.
You can see pictures of the parents' trip to Montmorency Falls here: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=72385D981DBDEB31%21473
Sunday night after the team's win over Bratislava, the 2001s had a dinner to thank their Billets. The boys are staying with French speaking families during the course of the Quebec City Tournament. The Billets take the boys to games, practice, and immerse them into their every day life. At dinner the boys showed their appreciation by giving the Billets baskets full of goodies from America.
On behalf of the AAA Blue Jackets, I want to thank Billet Captains Yvone and Benoit for the hard work they put into making this week a success.
The link below will lead you to pictures from the event.
Yesterday marked the first day of play for the 2001s at the 55th annual Quebec City Peewee Hockey Tournament. The lower bowl at the Colisee was packed with fans, billets, and families of those in the tournament. The fans' nationalities ranged from Russian to American to Canadian to Swiss. Can you imagine being 12 years old, playing in a stadium filled with thousands of people from all over the world who are there to see you play? This is the biggest tournament of their lives thus far and the Jackets handled it well.
The first period came and went without a goal but there was still excitement to be had. Both goalies laid out all their skills right away. They knocked down shots, stuffed pucks, and threw their bodies in front of anything that came their way. There were constant battles along the boards and both teams put a lot of pressure on one another.The only penalty of the first was dealt to Raymond (82) with 52 seconds left for interference. The Jackets finished the period a man down but still tied at zero.
The second period started with a successful penalty kill where Vidrick (27) made stop after incredible stop. Shortly after the Jackets were back to full strength they scored two goals within three and a half minutes of each other. The first was at 2:12 by Landshof (17), assisted by Fortin (55) and Vidrick (21). The second came at 5:42 when Cox (13) saw an opening and passed to Vineyard (9). Momentum was in the Jackets favor. Then, at 7:36, Miller (10) went to the box for hooking. The Jackets didn't let the penalty affect them. They turned up the intensity and the speed. They won battles for the puck against the boards and began to work as a more cohesive unit. After the penalty kill the momentum didn't slow. They ended the period up 2 to 0.
Almost immediately, the third period started off in the Jackets favor. 1:39 into the period Bratislava's Cajkovic (98) went to the box for tripping. Unfortunately, while in the box Cajkovic had time to plot his revenge. After the penalty clock ran down, Cajkovic broke away from the pack and knocked one in past Vidrick (27). A little over three minutes later, Cox (13) fires back at Bratislava and scores. The Jackets are now up 3 to 1. Both teams turned up the heat and things got a little dicey. At 7:12, Carper (44) went to the box for roughing. Just as the penalty clock was running down Morrone (28) took a hooking penalty. For two seconds there would be a 5 on 3. At 9:36, Vidrick (21) would set Landshof (17) up so he could get one past the goalie. Jackets are now up 4 to 1. Starting at 10:47 the Jackets go on a power play when Bratislava's Skultety (26) goes to the box for roughing. As the penalty clock winds down Skultety will be joined in the box by Volko (14), creating a 5 on 3 scenario for the Jackets. No matter how hard they tried the Jackets couldn't score during the 5 on 3. About a minute after Skultety's penalty expired teammate Jellus (41) picked up an interference penalty. The Jackets were back on the 5 on 3. With 2 seconds left in the 5 on 3, Carper(44) scored with help from teammate Barnish (19). The Jackets went up 5 to 1 and stay that way for the rest of the game.
With this win the Jackets move on to the next round of the tournament. They will play February 19th against the Lanaudiere Pionniers at 3:30pm.
The Jackets will also play two exhibition games this week. One on thursday at 11:20am. The other on Friday against the Quebec Nordiques at 12:30 pm. The Quebec Nordiques is the team many of the billet's kids play on.
COLUMBUS -- Central Ohio has some of the country's top young hockey players. 18 twelve-year olds make up the AAA Blue Jackets who travel to Quebec in February to face some of the world's top talent.
ABC-6/FOX-28 Sports Director Clay Hall reports.
Logan Davis wasn't expecting to start this season, let alone make history. On November 19th, he was named the Big Ten Third Star of the Week. He was the only goalie to not just start two games that week, but win both of them. Davis was also the first Ohio State goalie, who was a Freshman, to have a shutout since 2006. The combination of those events led to him being named the Third Star of the Week. The history making doesn't stop there. On November 29th, Logan Davis started in the first ever Big Ten League hockey game, and then again that Monday for the first Big Ten League hockey game played at Ohio State. "It's just something that's really cool to be a part of," Davis stated. "I don't really think I've realized how big of a deal it is yet. I probably won't until I'm looking back and can say 'Wow, I was a part of that."
Game day rituals vary by day for Davis but almost always include a long nap, a trip to Panera or Bob Evans, and an ice bath. He doesn't have any game day superstitions. They have never worked for him. "I had so many superstitions when I was younger and they never worked. So I tried to stay away," Davis said. "I almost made that my superstition, trying to avoid doing the same thing again. So I tried to do something different every time."
Logan Davis isn't at Ohio State just to play hockey. He's a student who loves the pep band and the beauty of the Ohio State campus. He also enjoys the fact he never has to do laundry because of the proximity of his parents. Logan is working on his general education classes right now. When he's done with those, he will be majoring in public affairs. Davis explained, "It's kind of like political science but it's more applicable to direct jobs in the government rather than stuff that kind of relates vaguely to government." Davis has taken what he learned with the AAA Blue Jackets and continually applies it to his life both on and off the ice. One such lesson was the fine art of time management. "I think the schedule we played with the travel and the rigor helped prepare me for balancing school with hockey," said Davis. He also learned that you have to work with a lot of different people in life and you need to treat them with the proper respect. According to Davis, coaches, professors, and authority figures deserve the most respect of all.
Davis also has some advice for the kids in the AAA program now: Don't burn bridges. No matter how mad, annoyed, or angry you get, don't burn bridges. "At times it seems like a good idea because you'll be so mad about something," Davis explained. "You'll never regret not doing it." Some pretty sound advice that can be applied to more than just hockey. It's good to see an alumni taking the lessons he learned from hockey and applying them to other areas of life.
Connor Murphy has played on some big stages in his young hockey career, but his eyes were never wider when he found himself with more time and space than he ever expected in his NHL debut.
The native of Dublin, Ohio and product of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program had just been called up by the Phoenix Coyotes from the Portland Pirates, and as luck would have it, his parents (father, Gord, is a former Blue Jackets assistant coach) were able to make it to Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. to see their son’s first NHL game.
Battling injuries on defense, the Coyotes needed help for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 16 and in many ways, Murphy made certain it was a memorable night.
Murphy, who admitted he was just happy to be in the Coyotes’ lineup, was paired up with All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle in what quickly became his "welcome to the NHL moment." It didn't stop there, though, and Murphy was even more surprised when he found the puck on his stick in the high slot late in the second period.
Time, space, room…the things you’re not supposed to get much of in the NHL, but the Lightning gave him a sizable lane to walk in and tee up a slap shot. Murphy made no mistake in beating Anders Lindback through a screen set by Martin Hanzal to bump Phoenix’s lead to 4-1.
Just like he drew it up, right?
"It was a cross country flight from Portland to Phoenix, so I had plenty of time to think about it," Murphy said, laughing. "Everything I've done since I started playing hockey has been geared toward one day playing in the NHL, and to get that call-up and play in the game was a dream come true. Everything I tried to do in that game, I tried to do it quick and do it simple because everyone says the game is way faster in the NHL.
"When I got the puck, I was shocked at how much room I had. I almost couldn't believe it. The last thing I was going to do was try to walk in and make a move...I just wanted to put a quick shot on the net, and thankfully there was a pretty big screen there."
Lost in the excitement of Murphy's NHL debut and his first NHL goal is that he wasn't just a warm body. Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett put him on the team's top defense pairing with Yandle, played him over 22 minutes in all situations, and showed no hesitation in using a 20-year-old on the blue line of one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
And to think how far the young man has come since his time in Columbus with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program: Murphy, who without bad luck would have no luck when it comes to injuries, often wondered if he would ever get a chance in the NHL. On many days, he just wanted to feel normal again and be able to play hockey.
He had lingering back problems prior to his draft year and two knee surgeries in two years put his future in doubt and cut his junior hockey career short, but Murphy kept on pushing. He won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2012 World Junior tournament in Ufa, Russia, and anyone you talk to will say Murphy absolutely earned his debut call-up to the Coyotes.
"I had great support from my parents, and great work from doctors, trainers and with my last couple surgeries, I've done my rehab at Ohio Orthopedic Center For Excellence on Sawmill Rd.," Murphy said. "I've been so lucky to have people in my life to help keep me in the right mindset and help me keep pushing when adversity happens. Getting to the NHL really does get you more excited to try and get back there, and now I know what it takes to be a player at that level."
A big part of that support group is Ed Gingher, program director and head coach of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets developmental team based in Columbus. That's where Murphy got his start and got noticed by the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), and Gingher has seen the highest highs and lowest lows in Murphy's young career.
Through peaks and valleys, there has been one constant with Murphy, Gingher said: his dedication and work ethic. No matter the obstacle, Murphy was willing to do whatever he needed in order to get back on track to his ultimate goal.
"For him to be as mentally tough and resilient as he's been, and continue to work at it and get better, I couldn't be more happy for him," Gingher told BlueJackets.com. "It was a surreal moment seeing him score that goal; from a program perspective, we have our first player who's made it to the NHL. But for it to be Connor was awesome, because it couldn't happen to a better kid. All he's done is put his head down and work.
"(The injury trouble) hasn't derailed him - it's made him stronger. There are a lot of guys who wouldn't have approached that adversity in the same way Connor did, and it's a real credit to his character."
On behalf of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, we want to congratulate Jack Roslovic as he and the USNTDP U17’s captured the Gold Medal at the Four Nations Tournament. Team USA beat Switzerland, Slovakia and Russia on their way to winning gold.