Top 5

Jim Fox

Former NHL forward turned broadcaster Jim Fox has been around the world in pursuit of the best wine. Here are his Top 5 wine destinations:


  1. Wine Tour on bike on the outskirts of Beaune, Burgundy, France

  2. Barrel tasting at Roberto Voerzio Winery, La Morra, Barolo, Piedmonte, Italy

  3. Tasting Class and barrel tasting at Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France)

  4. Dinner and tasting at Savier Vineyards, just southeast of Calistoga, California, at sunset looking back over Napa Valley

  5. Anywhere in Tuscany, Italy followed by a glass of wine in the Piazza del Campo, Siena, Tuscany, Italy
NHL Confidential

Willie MitchellFlorida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks, recommends Hawksworth restaurant in downtown Vancouver, located inside the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. "Kind of a west coast with a little bit of a French twist to it – a lot of depth to it," he says. "A lot of meat and a little bit of texture. … The scallops are outstanding – anything for that matter."

JP

Author Archive

2017 Frozen Four preview: Who will be crowned champions in Chicago?

2017 frozen four

The NCAA regionals have been over for two weeks, and even though the Frozen Four begins on Thursday, I’m still thinking about the past.

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Who will breeze into the Windy City?

2017 frozen four

The 2016-17 college hockey season has been an interesting one.

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My time at Kraft Hockeyville USA.

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Photo by Ryan Stieg

The crowd slowly filed into the old but refurbished arena last Tuesday night, eager for the main event. They had been anticipating it for months and after a long process, the big game had finally arrived in Marquette, Michigan.

Most of those fans had been in Lakeview Arena before, some back during its glory days of the eighties and nineties where the thin tin roof held in the noise of the raucous crowds that made opposing teams nervous to face Northern Michigan on the road.

However, Lakeview had seen better days since then. The roof was rickety, the compressor didn’t work properly, the Zamboni needed to be upgraded and then there was the smell. It was the foul stench of sweaty hockey gear that lingered around the rink, surrounding it like an invisible cloud that was inescapable no matter where you ventured.

Improvements to the arena had been needed for years, but money is hard to come by in an isolated small town located in the heart of the Upper Peninsula. To be able to complete all of the tasks that the city hoped to accomplish, it would take years unless it received a massive donation to speed up the process. Last April, that’s exactly what Marquette got.

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The Last Frontier: Future of hockey in Alaska in doubt

Alaska hockey

Could hockey be the next species going extinct in the Alaskan wilderness? (Photo by J.P. Hoornstra)

Alaska is known for many things, including an excessive amount of oil and two Division I college hockey programs. Unfortunately for hockey fans, the former could have a dramatic effect on the latter.

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UND’s latest championship is a big win for a small hockey school.

UND men's hockey

UND’s first national title in 16 years was a cause for celebration among alumni.

Grand Forks is a reasonably small town (about 55,000 people) on the eastern side of North Dakota. It sits along the Red River, which is good for one flood every year that ranges from slightly disconcerting to massive destruction. Grand Forks has the typical eating fares one would expect from a town of its size. The people are friendly, even to outsiders.

Home to the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks has firmly attached itself to the school and its athletic programs. It’s no different from other college towns like Ann Arbor, Bloomington, Madison or Iowa City. While those towns embrace football or basketball, Grand Forks loves its ice hockey – and not just as something to do on a Friday night. It’s the thing to do on a Friday night. Fans pack the Ralph Engelstad Arena, almost all of them clad in green, white or black, and loudly support their favorite team.

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Picking the Frozen Four, and the two best teams in the country in the final.

2016 Frozen FourLast week, two teams that probably shouldn’t have ended up in the NCAA Tournament were on the cusp of making the Frozen Four. I picked both of them to get bounced in their opening game, so I was intrigued to see if they would prove me wrong and make it to Tampa.

In the end, Ferris State and Minnesota-Duluth got eliminated in the regional final and I ended up picking three of the Frozen Four participants correctly. (One of these years I’m going to get all four.) Ferris was the team I was particularly focused on because I didn’t think they had a chance in hell of winning the WCHA Final Five. Thanks to the goaltending of Darren Smith, the Bulldogs managed to take out top-seeded Michigan Tech and last year’s winner, Minnesota State, on consecutive nights to earn the automatic bid. Ferris was placed in the West Regional against No. 1 seed St. Cloud State, where it caught the Huskies sleeping and outlasted them in overtime.

After watching that happen on TV, I was perplexed. I had seen the Bulldogs play twice in person and they didn’t look sharp at all. Where was all this coming from? Confusing as it was, I was convinced Ferris would get exposed, and it came at the hands of Denver. Ferris kept it close, but the Pioneers plowed through the Bulldogs and fired six goals past Smith to move on to Tampa.

The other Bulldogs squad’s fate had been determined the day before. Duluth visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula back in January and frankly, the Dogs didn’t look anything like I expected. They were supposed to win the NCHC this season and be a lock for the Frozen Four, but ended up coming significantly short of that. Still, Duluth ended up getting an at-large spot in the NCAAs and upset defending champion Providence in double overtime out in Worcester (Mass.). However, Duluth fell behind Boston College 3-0 in the regional final and its rally in the third period came up short. So now the Eagles will be moving on to Florida where they won the national title in 2012.

The other two regionals played out as expected. Quinnipiac rolled past RIT and shut down UMass Lowell to win the East and make their first FF since 2013. Down in Cincinnati, North Dakota crushed Northeastern (a team that somehow became a popular pick by national columnists), and contained Michigan’s top-ranked offense to make its third straight trip to the Frozen Four. So in the end, two NCHC rivals, a traditional Hockey East powerhouse, and a rising ECAC contender will get a second Spring Break and be heading to Florida.

Just like last season, this weekend portends some compelling storylines.

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Saturday surprises as NCAA Tourney begins.

2016 Frozen FourHeading into this past weekend, I had a pretty good idea of how the NCAA brackets would look this year. By the time Saturday night rolled around, my idea went out the window thanks to some topsy-turvy conference tournaments.

As I sat isolated in a corner putting together the Sunday paper, things got wacky. In the WCHA, Ferris State surprised analysts by punching their ticket. The Bulldogs, who barely earned home-ice in the first round, managed to shut out top-seeded Michigan Tech and defeat second-seeded Minnesota State to make the NCAAs. As a result of its loss to Ferris, Tech ended up on the outside looking in after winning their first conference title since 1976. Minnesota State, the WCHA preseason favorite, was also left out, while Northern Michigan was left wondering what might have been. A late-season swoon caused the Wildcats to lose home ice to Ferris in the first round and the fact that the Bulldogs ended up running the table had to be like salt in an open wound.

Across the country in Hockey East, Northeastern ended up surprising analysts as well. The sixth-seeded Huskies upset Notre Dame in the first round, Boston College in the semifinal and UMass-Lowell in the final to earn the automatic bid. It was also Northeastern’s first conference tournament title in 28 years and now that the Huskies have made it, all of the Beanpot teams will be represented this year in the national tourney.

This year’s pairings are interesting. They are the hardest ones that I have had to pick since I started writing about them for this website. So after analyzing stats, putting aside any biases, and turning my head away from an exciting NCAA men’s basketball tournament, I’m ready to make my picks.

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Detroit Rock City: On the road with a Division 1 hockey team.

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series following the Northern Michigan University hockey team to the Great Lakes Invitational.

MICHIGAN

After three days’ worth of practices, game day for Northern Michigan University arrived on a Tuesday. The Wildcats fit in another short practice late that morning to try and tweak any remaining issues. When it was time to go back to Joe Louis Arena just before 5 p.m., I could feel things change. The team was still a little loose during the morning skate; now the Wildcats were all business. When they arrived at JLA, most of the guys stretched, while others fixed their equipment, rode the exercise bike and got taped by the trainers. Starting goalie Atte Tolvanen went through a much different routine.

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Detroit Rock City: On the road with a Division 1 hockey team.

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series following the Northern Michigan University hockey team to the Great Lakes Invitational.

MICHIGAN

The bus I’m sitting on is warm, but it’s getting colder outside. I can see the players’ breath as they load their gear into the compartments of the bus. It makes me glad that I didn’t linger boarding this thing. As I sit on the bus, I start to get nervous. I rarely get nervous at my job anymore, but this would be a new experience as I was attempting to do something that no sports writer in the Upper Peninsula, and possibly college hockey, had done before. I just hoped that people would enjoy it.
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Hawks start to soar.

It’s early on a Friday night, but the Ralph Engelstad Arena is already rocking. Just minutes before the puck drops at center ice, the lights go down in the arena and the cheering somehow manages to get louder. The players gather in the tunnel and slowly emerge from the shadows as they approach the ice.

The PA announcer bellows from the rafters. “Here come your Fightiiiiiiing Hawks!”

Sigh. It’s just not the same.

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