Storm halfway through inaugural season

Joe MacIntyre
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The Summerside Storm reaches the halfway point of their 36-game schedule in the inaugural season of the National Basketball League of Canada tonight. 

They have a very important home game against the Saint John Mill Rats at EastLink Arena. The start time is 7 p.m.

The Storm is chasing the Mill Rats for the fourth and final playoff spot, and tonight’s game would be classified as one of those four-pointers.

The Storm has turned their game around of late, having won two straight, including a big 100-92 win in Quebec City on Wednesday.

With the playoff chase on for that final playoff spot, fans should be treated to some competitive basketball in the second half, starting with tonight's game. Fans who have not yet taken in any NBL of Canada action may want to go tonight as it promises to be a great game.

An added attraction for tonight would be all the New Year’s Eve celebrations taking place at Credit Union Place. It sounds like a lot of fun, and a great place to ring in 2012.     

Great marketing

As the Storm passes the midway point in their schedule, one can't help but be impressed by the exceptional marketing job this organization has done to date.

A resident of P.E.I. would have had to been asleep over the last three months if they have never heard of the Storm. The name seems like it is everywhere, and this organization is trying very hard to earn your support and get fans interested.

Big job

It is a very big job to come into in what is a die-hard hockey market and introduce pro basketball to a place that has the smallest market in the seven-team league. It is essentially an American game that has never been played at the pro level on P.E.I. before.

The Storm organization seems to be succeeding as they are amongst the league leaders in attendance. When you read co-owner Duncan Shaw's comments this past week that the Storm is where they expected to be at this point in terms of attendance, that bodes well for their future in Summerside.

Let’s not kid ourselves, over the long haul this team will need quite a bit more support to survive, and that will depend on you the fan.

Shaw, along with his partner Darren MacKay, brought a very good and entertaining product to Summerside. As many people have said, it may be the best entertainment value for the buck.

Local fans are always supportive of local teams and with the work the Storm are putting forth, they certainly deserve your support.

Go Storm!

World junior hockey

The world junior hockey championships are underway in both Edmonton and Calgary, with the gold-medal game slated for next Thursday in Calgary.

A game that fans always look forward to takes place tonight in Edmonton as Canada and the United States clash.

"As the Storm passes the midway point in their schedule, one can't help but be impressed by the exceptional marketing job this organization has done to date. A resident of P.E.I. would have had to been asleep over the last three months if they have never heard of the Storm. The name seems like it is everywhere, and this organization is trying very hard to earn your support and get fans interested." Joe MacIntyre

This is the 34th world junior championship, and the tournament has been dominated over the years by both Canada and Russia. These two hockey superpowers have won 27 gold medals between them, with Canada winning 15 of those.

Don Hay is looking for his second title as coach as he was behind Canada's bench for the 1995 win. Murray River's Brandon Gormley is one of the anchors on the Canadian defence, and he would like nothing more than to win a gold medal in what will probably be his last year in junior hockey.

Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was cut by Team Canada before last year’s world junior championship in Buffalo, but he certainly has taken a huge step forward in the past year.

He was the first overall pick by Edmonton in last June's NHL Entry Draft, and went out and made the big club this year. He is one of Edmonton's best players, and is putting up some impressive numbers in his rookie season. He is second in team scoring with 35 points, which puts him in the top 20 in league scoring.

Nugent-Hopkins was named NHL rookie of the month for both October and November, and he joins Evgeni Malkin as the only two players in NHL history to do so.

The former Red Deer Rebel does not turn 19 until April, but certainly could pass as a 14-year-old. He has come a long way in the past year, and maybe being cut from the Canadian junior team served as a little extra motivation for Nugent-Hopkins.      

Flashback

It will be 25 years next week that the famous brawl took place at the world junior hockey championship.

On Jan. 4, 1987, Canada had a 4-2 lead on Russia with a little over six minutes to go in the second period in Czechoslovakia. A fight broke out after a slash on Canada's Theo Fleury, and then the benches emptied.

On-ice officials could not control the situation and, as a result, the International Ice Hockey Federation declared the contest null and void. Both Canada and Russia were disqualified, and Finland was awarded the gold medal.

Happy New Year

At this time, I would like to pass on best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year in 2012.

Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

Organizations: Credit Union Place, Storm organization, NHL Team Canada International Ice Hockey Federation

Geographic location: Canada, Edmonton, P.E.I. Summerside Quebec City Russia Calgary United States Murray River Buffalo Czechoslovakia Finland

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