Olympic.ca: The Sochi plan and the hockey team that won with it


Originally posted at Olympic.ca We all sort of chuckled when Canada’s men were playing ball hockey in the summer. It was strange yet familiar, there was something about insurance, and it looked fun. But when Mike Babcock had the floor, he Read more

Olympic.ca: Contrasting Cowboys: The differences between Canada’s medal-chasing alpine men


If cowboys in the wild west come in all varieties, then maybe it makes sense the Canadian ski racing buckaroos are all so different. A silver medallist at 2013’s test event in Sochi, Ben Thomsen is a ‘scrappy skier’ according toJan Hudec, Read more

Sochi 2014: At the Olympic Winter Games and ready for sport


Floating on a plane to Sochi, by way of Frankfurt and well, since it can’t be that easy, Moscow too. 23 hours of travel began with a delightfully unhelpful woman at check-in. And the soupy stew from the fancy Read more

Abbotsford Heat on brink of elimination after Game 4 loss

Posted on by Callum Ng in Hockey, Recent Work | Leave a comment

Clay Wilson Abbotsford Heat [Courtesy: SendtoNews]

Originally appeared The Hockey Writers.

The Abbotsford Heat did everything but win on Tuesday night.

The Heat outshot the Toronto Marlies 36 to 17, dominated much of the 5 on 5 game and dialed up their physicality only to fall 3-1 in Game Four of the best-of-seven series.

Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals goes Wednesday night at the AESC.

It was all Heat from the first puck drop, keeping the Marlies in their own zone and working the puck well down low. When the puck was cleared back into Heat territory, even the break outs were crisp and effective. On more than one occasion a Heat D-man would make a laser cross-ice pass to the far side blue line for a waiting forward.

It seemed as though Troy Ward had figured out a system to solve the Marlies’ neutral zone pressure.

Despite outshooting their opponents 10 to 3 in the first period, the Heat weren’t able to register a goal until finally getting rewarded in the second. Moments after killing off an Adam Estoclet penalty, Ben Walter whipped the puck towards the net from the left half-wall. The goal was originally credited to Walter. However, it would turn out to be a Hugh Jessiman marker after what Marlies’ goaltender Ben Scrivens would call after the game, “an NHL level re-direction.”

After 40 minutes it was 1-0 Heat and the shots were 23-10 in their favour.

Unfortunately for Abbotsford however, Marlies’ winger Greg Scott must have re-tied his skates in the second intermission because he came out blazing in the third.

Scott ripped down the right wing a few minutes into the period and went top shelf over Danny Taylor’s left shoulder. Taylor looked unprepared on the goal, perhaps from a lack of work up to that point.

Troy Ward commented on the poor timing of his team’s goals against, “This has been a common problem at home for us, we’ve dominated 5 on 5 against some teams territorially, we don’t often times get rewarded at home for it and we give up a lot of first chance goals.”

The powerplay woes continued for the Heat, as they went 0-for-5 on the night and gave up a short-handed tally to go down 2-1. Greg Scott notched his second of the night after stealing the puck at the blue line and racing down ice. He deposited a five-hole deke at the 7:11 mark.

Scott then killed the game off later in the period by out-battling a Heat defender for the opportunity to score his third of the evening. He completed the natural hat trick with an empty net marker at 19:31.

“This year I wanted a shoot first mentality and I going into this game I was a little overdue,” Scott said of his offensive explosion. “I don’t think we played a great game overall, but you have to give credit to our guys, we came out with the victory.”

Troy Ward and the Heat will look ahead to Wednesday, when they will try to keep their Calder Cup Playoffs going.

“There’s not much to change, we did everything but score.”

According to Ward the Heat will have the talents of leading scorer Krys Kolanos back on the bench for Game 5.

Callum Ng covers the Calgary Flames and Abbotsford Heat for The Hockey Writers. Twitter @CallumNg

Toronto Marlies take 2-1 series lead in Abbotsford

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Max Reinhart Abbotsford Heat (SendtoNews)

Originally appeared The Hockey Writers.

Home is supposed to be a place where good things happen.

For the Abbotsford Heat, in search of a bounce back win, home wasn’t quite as kind on Saturday night.

With Leland Irving back in the net for Abbotsford, the Toronto Marlies posted an excellent road effort, taking Game 3 by a score of 4-1 to jump out to a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Game 4 will go Tuesday night, 7 PM PDT at the AESC.

The Heat didn’t make it easy on themselves early. Less than 60 seconds into the game, Nazim Kadri tucked a wrap-around past Irving, to put the Marlies up 1-0 on the game’s very first shot.

Irving admitted, “A little rusty to start,” and on the first goal, “unfortunately that first one, a wrap around is one I’ll stop 99 [times] out of 100.”

Constant puck pressure from the visitors led to a Clay Wilson turnover at neutral ice and the Marlies went up 2-0 on a Matt Frattin snap shot at 11:43. The Frattin tally was the result of a handful of defensive breakdowns that hurt the Heat in the first 20 minutes.

The home team had some push back however, and it was even evident right at the end of the first period. A scrum in front of Leland Irving led to an eruption of standard playoff pleasantries which set the tone for the second period.

In the middle frame it didn’t take long for the Heat to draw within one. After a high energy start, rookie Dustin Sylvester redirected a Clay Wilson point shot at 2:21. They then continued the good play, keeping the Marlies in their own zone for much of the first seven minutes. The same line that scored the Heat’s only goal was instrumental in this push, including Kolanos and Byron working well down low.

The energy spread down the bench, with solid follow-up shifts, including winger Guillaume Desbiens, “The frustration went away in the second, we channeled that into work and it worked out really good for us,” he said.

However, the Marlies would manage a push back of their own and re-establish the two goal lead at 12:30 with a marker from Philippe Dupuis.

According to Desbiens the third Marlie’s goal was a big blow, “That was kind of frustrating because we were dominating the whole period and they capitalized on that goal and that seemed to cut our legs a little bit,” he commented.

The Heat started the third period on the penalty kill after a Clay Wilson hook right at the end of the second. Depending on how you look at it, the Heat penalty kill was a positive take from Game 3, going six for six on the evening.

However, going down early on the scoresheet forced coach Troy Ward to make a lot of in game changes. “There’s a lot of tactic changes,” he said, “There’s a lot of punch and counter punch going on.”

On this occasion the coaching adjustments didn’t do the trick. Mueller iced the game for the Marlies by depositing a lovely pass from Dupuis behind Leland Irving with a little over five minutes to go in the game. The fourth Marlies goal also included Lasalle, Quebec native Nicolas Deschamps, who notched his third assist of the game.

The powerplay has to remain a point of concern for the Heat, now 0-for-16 in the series.

The post-game mood however was generally upbeat. “Tuesday will be a whole new day,” stated Troy Ward, “I don’t believe in momentum in the playoffs, it’s one day at a time.”

Putting that mantra to work, on this day, Ward wouldn’t name his starter for Tuesday.

The coach will look to rally his line up, “Playoffs are about unsung heroes, it’d be nice to find an unsung hero.”

Callum Ng covers the Calgary Flames and Abbotsford Heat for The Hockey Writers. Twitter @CallumNg

Behind the Scenes at Olympic Trials

Posted on by Callum Ng in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

From the ready room, to the march out, to standing in front of thousands of fans plus a live television audience.

Here’s a behind the scenes look from Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials:

 

My interview with Dan Mangan

Posted on by Callum Ng in Commentary, Recent Work | Leave a comment

Pause on the sport for a second.  Last month I had the chance to interview Juno nominee Dan Mangan. Four nominations!  Songwriter of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Alternative Album of the Year and Video of the Year.  Oh so good for the Vancity product. (The Junos are April 1 in Ottawa BTW)

We were both hobbling around the ball hockey court for a damn good cause, Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer.
While Dan definitely has some actual hockey skills, I’m more of the talkative type, so we had a quick chat after the event.

I wanted to ask him how his community work makes him a better musician, and human being. Not to mention, why it’s so important.

It was an awesome interview, ever the songwriter, he delivers some unique quotes. And for a Canadian artist going up against acts like Drake and Feist it was super clear that all his talent and creativity will never eclipse one thing, his humility.

My interview with Dan Mangan:

The glory and the cold, wet truth.

Posted on by Callum Ng in Recent Work | Leave a comment

Elation for Tera Van Beilen, great to see her graduate from Youth Olympian to the real thing! (Christinne Muschi / Reuters)

Day 3 at Trials had probably the most dramatic ups and downs of any night so far. There was the ecstasy of adding four girls in the 200 Fr, a first Olympic Team for Tera Van Beilen. Of course, there was also a stunning and quieting result in the men’s 200 Br.

The media mixed zone at an event like this is usually positive, with the winners and qualifiers all coming through. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the shockwaves of missed opportunities and broken dreams. In fact, for every smiling question I pose, I can’t help thinking that there’s someone, somewhere, who isn’t so happy.

That’s the cold, wet truth. As a former athlete I’ve been there, and it’s a dark place for many.

All the same, last night was great for many. Here’s a nice take of the now veteran Olympian Jillian Tyler and her new Olympic teammate Tera Van Beilen.

More coverage at SwimSwam.com

 

When making the Olympics is bitter sweet

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Stephanie Horner swims the breastroke leg of her Olympic Trials winning 400 IM (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Imagine one of your best friends. A person you spend an immense amount of time with. Imagine you’re both working towards something special, a dream you both have. You help each other, every day, but in the end it doesn’t work out, for just one of you.

It’s hard to imagine that an Olympic berth could be bitter sweet. But last night, this was truly the case for Stephanie Horner.

It was written all over her face. Embracing her Island Swimming teammate Alexa Komarnycky after winning the 400 IM, when neither of them had gone under the standard. This meant that only Steph would likely make the team.

It’s during sport moments like these that true character comes out. Steph was almost heartbroken for her teammate. Instead of commenting about her own situation, it was all about Alexa.
More coverage at SwimSwam.com

Here’s my post-race interview:

 

Day One done, Six Olympians, including former T-Bird Scott Dickens!

Posted on by Callum Ng in Recent Work | 1 Comment

(Getty Images)

Doing the post-race coverage for Swimming Canada is an awesome gig. I get to interview the freshly minted Olympians as they exit the pool. Sometimes, those interviews are actually pretty emotional, even for me. Last night was a good example. My buddy Scott Dickens swam himself onto the team, after missing 4 years ago. Since 2008, I’ve watched Scott from the pool, and now the deck, adopt an almost super-human persona when it comes to training. Scotty’s a beast. He deserves this team spot and I have no doubt when he says, “I’m going to swim a helluva lot faster in London.”

 

Check out the rest of the results and stories from Day 1!

Mellow tone on deck at Canadian Olympic Swim Trials

Posted on by Callum Ng in Recent Work | 5 Comments

Swimmers qualifying for London 2012 will ‘board the bus’ at the start end of the pool, booking their ticket for the Olympic Games!

There’s a giant double decker bus on deck in Montreal and for the moment, it’s empty. With less than 24 hours before the start of the meet the imagery is certainly not lost on any of the Olympic hopefuls.

Earn a spot on the bus. Go to London.

The tone on deck is understandably mellow. Today is Monday, and there’s no hiding it, Olympic dreams will live on or die in the following days.

Not to be overly dramatic, there are plenty of smiles on deck and in fact, maybe a greater number of nervous coaches than athletes. As Marnie McBean the Canadian Olympic rowing champion famously says, “for an athlete, the hardest part is waiting, the competition is easy.” This is hardly ever more accurate than at an Olympic Trials. All the preparation is done, the only thing left to do is race.

The pool looks great. In fact, it’s probably one of the highest profile Canadian swim trials in recent memory. Again at the famous Parc Olympique, it’ll be broadcast live on Sportsnet. One hour of exciting swimming television, every night, mostly in primetime. Sportsnet’s embrace of all sports and the ‘fueled by fans’ tag line extends to the pool. This is great for the sport.

Furthermore, it is the first time that Olympic and Paralympic Trials are combined. Add that to two new corporate sponsors in RBC and Air Canada, and all of a sudden swimming looks like the sexiest Olympic sport around.

And it might live up to the hype. This is easily the best class of Canadian swim talent in maybe two decades, with Cochrane, Hayden, Wilkinson and McCabe leading a team that has both medal shots and the start of some depth in certain events.

I’ll be on deck all week, finding live stories and waiting for them to unfold. It’s going to be exciting, and, at very least, that bus looks really cool.

Follow @CallumNg for updates, and other Canadian swimming related stuff that I guarantee you can’t find anywhere else. :)

Flames fans still have choices even if no playoffs

Posted on by Callum Ng in Hockey, Recent Work | Leave a comment

Originally published, The Hockey Writers March 23, 2012

If the Flames miss the post-season again, there are still plenty of teams to cheer for. Or cheer against, depending on who you are.

As the regular season wanes for the Calgary Flames, and a four game win-less streak makes the playoff picture slightly faded, Flames fans have something to consider.

If their Flaming C doesn’t see post-season play, who else do they cheer for? What kind of fan do they want to be April to June, sans squad?

For Canadian hockey fans, this is question that isn’t easily answered. They are really passionate about hockey, and therefore, equally fervent about the team they support. For many Canadians, cold winter nights are spent in front of the television set, living and dying with their team of choice.

(Unless of course you grew up in Vancouver, which might be a reason why the Canucks fan base is notoriously inconsistent, but that’s another topic altogether)

If you are an unlucky supporter of a club below 8th place after 82, on either side of the 49thparallel, deciding who to cheer for in the post-season has a number of challenges and creates a handful of personas.

As I have been part of this group many times over in my hockey loving life, I am intimately familiar with the variety and will do my best to share a few.

Denial Guy

This unfortunate dude spends the entire playoffs talking about how his team almost made it in. To make it worse, he then compares the playoff performances of other teams to his own, in hypothetical situations. Finally, Extreme Denial Guy will ruin playoff game watching by making reference to his team’s players by their nicknames, (while they play golf), during the play between two completely different teams.

The Hater

This behavior comes about after a few years of missing the post-season. Commonly, The Hater will develop a chagrin towards a division or classic rival. Particularly if that rival is a threat for Lord Stanley. As a modern example and in the case of Flames fans, that anger is usually directed towards the Canucks. The Extreme Hater will even go so far as to cheer openly for team playing his hated rival.

The Sympathizer

This is a special breed of hockey fan. This turncoat actually pretends to be a hater but secretly cheers for the rival team. If The Sympathizer comes out in the open, she’ll claim that she, ‘just likes so-so because he’s from her hometown’, or, ‘she respects the way he plays.’ The Extreme Sympathizer may even support a legendary rival. Such as when Flames fans cheered for the Oilers in ’06. In this case, it was because the Oilers are ‘a Canadian team.’

The Bandwagon Baby

You can’t really hold anything against this guy. He’s just looking for someone to cheer for. So he chooses the favourite, the team that rolls through the first two rounds. Every player on his chosen team turns into a hero, cruising through D with supreme skills or warding off the opponent with exceptional defensive ability. The Extreme Bandwagon Baby might even drop some coin on an authentic garment or two. Just to feel a part of it.

The Faker

We’ve all done it. Maybe not in hockey, but in at least one pro team sport. Example question: “Are you a Habs fan?” Answer: “Yeah man, I mean the Flames are my fav, but I’ve been cheering for the Habs since I was a kid too.” No he hasn’t. In this hypothetical situation, he starts dropping players nicknames and fist pumping after goals. The Extreme Faker even knows a few legendary stats like, ‘24 cups’ or ‘Jacques Plante’.

The Newbie

This is the most hapless of all fans who miss their home team. The Newbie, not unlike The Bandwagon Baby, just wants to get in the game. So she tells everyone that she misses her team, but is all for one team or another. The difference between her and the Bandwagon’er is that she usually chooses a sentimental favourite, maybe Gramps favourite squad or something. The Extreme Newbie will buy an Authentic Replica Jersey, at full retail price.

Before I get a handful of angry, insecure tweets because I’ve exposed you, I’ll say this: I’ve been all of these fans in one way or another. The beauty about the game of hockey is that it breeds great fans, passionate fans, emotional fans. The Stanley Cup Playoffs isn’t just a long tournament, it’s a war. Winning that war isn’t just the greatest accomplishment possible for the team, but the sweetest ecstasy for the fans.

What Flames fans wouldn’t give for that ecstasy. Unfortunately, they may not get a chance this season.

Gonna’ get REAL in Montreal!

Posted on by Callum Ng in Recent Work | Leave a comment

It’s gonna’ get real in Montreal. 12 days from now.

I’m very excited to be a part of the communications team for Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials. March 27 – April 1, 2012.

Trials are special because the Olympics are special. The meet in Montreal will be where so many Olympic dreams will become REAL, and often in dramatic fashion.

(Who remembers backstroke standout Jake Tapp qualifying for the Beijing team in a swim off?)

I’ll be on deck, in the mixed zone, everywhere. Collecting and sharing the stories of your favourite Canadian swimmers, and some you might not have heard of before.

Keep glued on CallumNg.com and Swimming.ca for updates and news.
And real time baby! @CallumNg

It’s gonna’ be so live! Can’t wait to get there.