Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Leafs 2009 Skills Competition

I grew up loving the sport of hockey but sadly, road hockey outside my house is about as competitive of a level as I got to. Heck, I might be the only person born in Saskatoon that doesn't know how to skate! This is why I love skills competitions. It's simply a treat for me to admire the skill level of these athletes up close. Here's a recap of the 2009 Leafs Skills Competition.

Schenn and Finger right before the puck control relay

It all started with the puck control relay. The blue team of Schenn, Finger and Beauchemin beat out the white team of Exelby, White and Kaberle due to Exelby stumbling. This is why you're a healthy scratch, XLB!

The blue team got another point as Komisarek beat out Orr in the individual puck control relay. Seriously, who picks these players? Why is Colton Orr in this event?

The White team giving Primeau a shower

The next event is the fastest skater. My personal pick going into the event was Phil Kessel who ended up having the worst time.

As each skater skated by the benches the opposing team would shower them with their water bottles. I don't know if they were filled with water or yellow Gatorade but there's a golden shower joke in there somewhere. Here's a list of the participants and their times

Jason Blake - 14.09
Phil Kessel - 14.85
Mikhail Grabovski - 14.32 (this was timed with the manual stop watch because the clock messed up and had him at 9 seconds)
Christian Hanson - 14.46
Nikolai Kulemin - 14.05
Wayne Primeau - 14.72

I had no idea Kulemin was that quick.

Hagman winding up for the shot

Next up is my favourite event; the hardest shot. My personal pick for this event was Francois Beauchemin edging out Poni.

Here are a list of the participants and what they clocked

Jeff Finger - 85.6 // 89.7
Tomas Kaberle - 95.1 // 95.7
Alexei Ponikarovsky - 95 // 90.4 but the shot didn't hit the net
Lee Stempniak - 89.7 // 93.3
Francois Beauchemin - 102.2 // 99.8
Niklas Hagman - 95.9 // 84.9
Mike Komisarek - 97.4 // 101.5
Nikolai Kulemin - 93 // 98.4

Looks like my picks are 1 for 2 so far. Poni didn't fare as well as I thought he would though. Also, if Kaberle can blast it at 95+, he should definitely be shooting the puck more often!

The moustache is in full force

Next event was the accuracy competition. My personal pick for this one was Tomas Kaberle going for another 4 for 4 like he did a couple years back. Unfortunately, he was a passer and didn't even get to shoot!

Here are the participants and the results

Niklas Hagman - 2 for 8
Matt Stajan - 2 for 8
Lee Stempniak - 4 for 8
Phil Kessel - 2 for 8
Rickard Wallin - 4 for 5
Christian Hanson - 3 for 7

Rickard Wallin? Seriously? I thought he got deported back to Sweden or something. Kessel rang a couple off the post but most shots were around the middle of the know, right where a goalie's chest would be! No wonder we can't score!

The panel of judges with Monika. My restraining order wouldn't let me get any closer.

They then had a "creative" shoot out challenge. Each player had 2 shots each and the judges (those puck bunnies and Carlton) would score the attempts based on creativity. I believe the shooters were Kessel, Blake, Grabovski and Hagman. Blake was the only player to score and he didn't do the spin-o-rama. What's up with that?

Grabvoski playing keep away with a kid during a break in the action

Next was the 3 on 1 event. This event featured 3 skaters against 1 defenceman and a goalie. The team had a minute to score as many goals as they could. Engelage was in net against the blue team and MacDonald was in net against the White team. Unfortunately, I didn't jot down the participants for this event so if memory serves me right it was

Kessel - Stajan - Ponikarovsky vs White. They scored 1 goal.
Blake - Grabovski - Kulemin vs Komisarek. They scored 2 or 3.
Primeau - Mayers - Hanson vs Exelby. They scored 1.
Hagman, Stempniak, Orr vs Schenn. They scored 1 or 2.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

The IR squad of Gunnarsson, Gustavsson and Mitchell.

The last event was the Breakaway. Every shooter got a shot. Only Kaberle, Orr, Stajan and Beauchemin advanced past the first round...on Joey Macdonald and Andrew Engelage! You think our shoot out can use some help? #WeMissYouMats

Francois Beauchemin ended up winning it with the lone goal in the second round via wrist shot.

Hagman, Blake and Kaberle

The White team ended up beating the Blue team by a score that nobody cared about. I was surprised to see Engelage in net instead of Toskala. He wasn't with the injured guys either. Did he get released? Somebody please tell me he did...

This was my first Skills Competition and I had a good time even though my friend was late and I had to wait outside for a good half hour...I could have gotten a Burkie's Dog! The atmosphere was totally different from a game. I guess this is what happens when you replace suits with jerseys. Surprisingly, I didn't spot too many jersey fouls but I did see 2 Pogge jerseys (1 Leaf, 1 Marlie) and a Stralman jersey. I hope nobody bought Tlusty jerseys!

I'm not sure how many tickets were available but the Leafs did a good job making this an event affordable for the kids. Even as I waited outside for my friends this man came up to me and offered me a couple of tickets for free! Speaking of free, people will take anything for free...including styrofoam accuracy targets that says Rogers of them. WHY WOULD ANYBODY WANT ONE OF THOSE???

If anybody is interested, here are the rest of the photos I took