Top 5

Kyle Clifford

Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford is known for taking — and receiving — some of the most punishing checks in the NHL. He lists teammates Dustin Brown and Matt Greene among the hardest hitters in the game. Who are his hardest-hitting opponents?



  1. Ryane Clowe

  2. Milan Lucic

  3. Niklas Kronwall

  4. Cal Clutterbuck

  5. Alexander Ovechkin



NHL Confidential

Mike RichardsLake of the Woods, known more as a remote wildlife habitat straddling Minnesota and Canada, is also a summer favorite of Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards. The former Flyers captain has become an avid wakeboarder/wakesurfer at the lake when he's not on the ice. "It’s starting to" catch on, Richards said. "It’s relaxing to get out there with all your friends and spend a day on the lake."

JP

Author Archive

Kraft Hockeyville USA 2019: Different, more of the same

Jordan Binnington
St. Louis defenseman Colton Parayko (left) and goalie Jordan Binnington get separated from a Detroit player during the third period of the Kraft Hockeyville USA game in Calumet, Michigan. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

Three years ago, I got to be part of a blockbuster event.

After covering and participating in Kraft Hockeyville USA when it came to Marquette, Michigan in 2016, I thought that would be the peak moment of exposure for the Upper Peninsula. An often-overlooked place in the country (especially by the NFL and Mountain Dew), Marquette and the U.P. outlasted several other cities and towns in a nationwide campaign to land $150,000 in upgrades for the aging Lakeview Arena, and an NHL preseason game between Buffalo and Carolina. The game was a dud (a 2-0 win by the Sabres), but the event as a whole was a success. It was something many of us up here will never forget.

Then, unexpectedly, Hockeyville came back.

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Frozen Four preview: Welcome back to Buffalo

After 16 years, the Frozen Four is finally returning to Buffalo.

Some might say it’s been far too long for college hockey’s main event to return to upstate New York.

Minnesota fans, who I’m sure have fond memories of the city, probably feel the same way. After all, the Golden Gophers won their second straight national championship in Buffalo back in 2003. However, Minnesota won’t be returning this week. It ended up getting bounced in the Big Ten Tournament last month and missed the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

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NCAA hockey preview: It’s going to be a wild season

NCAA men's ice hockey

It’s that time of year again.

The puck dropped on the college hockey season this weekend. After months of waiting, I can say that it’s about time.

I’m guessing that those of you still reading my hockey columns after all these years are probably thinking along the same lines. I didn’t write a season preview last year. I got too bogged down with things at work and by the time I found some free time, the season was two weeks in and I felt like dispensing my predictions at that point would be kind of pointless.

However, this year I decided to do it – and that was due to popular demand. Family members, relatives and friends have wondered why I don’t write as much for this site anymore. The primary reason is that life has gotten a little crazy, especially with my wife going back to school full-time. When I went back to Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, some people told me that I needed to get back to writing this stuff on a regular basis and that they look forward to reading them. After hearing that, I realized that I needed to do it again this year. I’m glad I did.

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Frozen Four: Was it worth the wait?

ST. PAUL – It took 15 years, but my journey as a college hockey fan had finally reached its destination. I attended my first Frozen Four at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild.

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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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