The new great age of British hockey … yes, it’s a thing

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It’s incredible what the offer of free beer will do to people.

A brewery in North Carolina had one of its delivery vans stolen in the early hours of May 20, leading to quite the offer from the Unknown Brewing Company: find our van and the owner will give you a keg party. It was even extended to the person or persons who concocted the caper. Less than an hour after the offer was posted to social media – 42 minutes to be exact – Instagram user Caroline Klimowski posted a photo of the van parked on a street. Naturally, people wondered if this was a clever publicity stunt but the company was adamant that it wasn’t. Never underestimate the power of free beer.

Anyway …

Come on, you Lions!

Great Britain’s men’s ice hockey team returned to the top division of the Men’s World Hockey Championship this year for the first time since 1994. They were relegated back to what was known as the B pool that year but that won’t happen this time around.

The Brits managed to avoid the drop this year by finishing seventh in their pool, tied on points with France, but because they won a game whereas France didn’t, that’s the tiebreaker that will see them get to play at the 2020 tournament in Switzerland. Not bad for a team that was playing two groups lower than what they were this time two years ago.

Ben Bowns was part of the Great Britain squad that managed to save its skin at the Men's World Hockey Championship earlier this month. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Ben Bowns was part of the Great Britain squad that managed to save its skin at the Men’s World Hockey Championship earlier this month.
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Great Britain managed to do it by beating France in overtime when the two teams met and they did it by coming back from a 3-0 deficit. Impressive stuff considering they were one of the teams everyone figured would go right back down to Group 1-A (the old B pool) and they had a ball after they confirmed their status for next year.

Nothing but smiles as they left the ice – with a bit of an honour guard from Team Canada as they went back to their dressing room – and some were even singing their team song, which is rather NSFW but here’s a sampling of the chorus (to the tune of Go West by The Pet Shop Boys):

“We’re s—t and we know we are … we’re s—t and we know we are …”

Isn’t it nice that they don’t take themselves too seriously? They were just happy to be there and now they can prepare to play against the big boys in 12 months time. The goal for any newly-promoted team is simply to survive and Great Britain has done that. The job now is to set the goal for 2020. They know who they’ll be playing and they know how to prepare.

I’m not saying they’ll go all 1936 Winter Olympics and win it all but at least they’ll get another shot at the big guns and let’s hope they can return a volley or two next time. Because everyone loves an underdog story, right?

And she fell for it

Hidden-ball tricks are one of my favourite plays in baseball/softball. It takes some real good selling to make it work and when it’s done right, the results are hilarious.

Which is why the recent stunt pulled by Trine University’s women’s softball squad of Indiana brought a smile to my face.

It happened on May 18 with Trine holding down a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning against SUNY Geneseo, winner advances to the NCAA Division III College World Series. SUNY Geneseo has runners on first and second with two outs. Score them and the game is tied.

Trine pitcher Kate Saupe delivers to home plate, it’s outside. Catcher throws the ball back and Saupe quickly spins and fires the ball to try and pick off the runner heading back to second base. It goes into centre field and the Trine fielders are diving to try and stop the ball … or do they? The SUNY Geneseo runner takes off for third base and Saupe chases her down, tags her for the third out and let the celebrations begin.

This is one of the best ones I have ever seen because literally everyone on the field, except the SUNY Geneseo runners, are in on it. Imagine the planning this took. This will be on a few highlight reels for weeks to come and don’t be surprised to see it in year-in-review shows. Just not in mine because I make fun of things to ring in the new year.

Until next time, folks …