Today is Halloween, aka the last day of October. Ask anyone what October means other than costumes and pumpkin spice everything, and I bet they'll tell you "It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month!" nine times out of ten.
But October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and much like cancer, DV is present every minute of every day, of every month, of every year in our society. However, unlike cancer survivors and patients, victims of domestic violence are often silenced -- by the media, by the greater public, even by their own families and friends. There are people, groups and organizations working to end the stigma against those affected, but it is still a long way to go before we make any real headway with regard to caring for victims.
We all know what happened with Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings by now, I hope (and if not, I will politely ask you what rock you've been sleeping under for the last couple of weeks because really though). Voynov was arrested for apparently committing domestic violence against his wife earlier this month. In an abrupt turnaround from last season (when Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested for the same thing), the NHL promptly suspended him indefinitely, in no small part because similar cases in professional sports have likely made one like this impossible to ignore.
In the midst of the usual toxic social media sludge present whenever a pro athlete (or anyone famous, really) is accused of harming someone has come a glimmering ray of good -- a group of fans using hockey to raise awareness and money for domestic violence victims and survivors. Shana (@shananaomi), Wrap Around Curl (@wraparoundcurl) and Alexandra (@nonmodernist) have spearheaded Hockey Fights Domestic Violence, a project aimed at providing support for those affected by DV. The project has already gotten support and participation from fans of the Kings, Leafs, Islanders, Capitals, Penguins, Canucks, and even CWHL teams, among other fanbases.
Here's how it works:
- decide on a given amount of money for a given event -- could be per points by a certain player, shutouts, wins, whatever fancy stat you choose, anything
- choose a reputable organization or center committed to helping those affected by DV -- it can be in your current community in the community in which your team plays, or anywhere. The hockeyfightsdv Tumblr FAQ gives a pretty good tip list for how to decide on an organization. Basically, make sure your money is going as much to the actual cause as is possible.
- 4 Nations Cup starts Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Kamloops! Canada opens play against Sweden, while the United States is matched up with Finland. Each team plays the others once apiece before the Bronze and Gold Medal games on Nov. 8. U.S. and Canadian rosters are up, each with a fair share of Olympians on it, so the matchup there will be fun to keep track of.
Some highlights of the U.S. roster include nine players on the senior team for the first time, Alex Rigsby of Wisconsin with her debut in goal alongside Brianne McLaughlin and Molly Schaus, Monique Lamoureux dressing as a defenseman, and Annie Pankowski with another crack at international play for the U.S. after being a late cut for Sochi last winter.
Hannah Brandt and Dani Cameranesi will join Lee Stecklein as the Minnesota representatives on the Americans' roster. Brandt and Cameranesi have provided the bulk of the Gophers' offense, and each has some international experience (at 18, Brandt played in the 2012 Women's Worlds and was briefly on the Olympic centralization roster last season, while Cameranesi played for the Americans' U18 squad in 2012 and 2013).
Canada has a fairly young squad on its hands as well, with ten players making senior team debuts. Genevieve Lacasse is the only goaltender to have played in the Olympics, for example, with each of the other goalies (Harvard's Emerance Maschmeyer and Erica Howe of the CWHL's Brampton Thunder) challenging her for the starting job. On offense, while some of the heaviest hitters for the Sochi team are missing, they still have plenty to work with in Natalie Spooner, Marie-Philip Poulin and Rebecca Johnston (the current CWHL leading scorer with eight points in five games).
Unfortunately, I can't seem to find rosters for either of the European teams, which bums me out, but I'll keep looking. Check out At Even Strength for full roster breakdowns and what will probably be continuous coverage.
- Interesting: there will be a best-of-three series Nov. 8-11 between the Czech Republic and Japan to determine qualification for next year's Women's Worlds. I talked a little bit about Japan's relegation in a post in March, so I'll be intrigued to see how this plays out for the countries involved come next spring.
- Minnesota (7-0-1, 5-0-1-0 WCHA) looked more like its old self last weekend, sweeping North Dakota and completely dominating the Saturday game with a convincing 51-7 edge in shots. Now, it's Bemidji State (4-4-0, 0-4-0 WCHA) a team that got off to a quick start with four straight non-conference wins but is still looking for a win that "counts," so to speak. BSU's issue off the bat seems to be on offense, with their highest point scorers at five points apiece and their top goal scorer (junior Stephanie Anderson) with just three goals over eight games. The Gophers have won 10 straight against the Beavers dating back to Dec. 7, 2012, so the biggest thing here is just to stick to the game plan, score early and often, and keep the offense on the other side to a minimum. As you prepare for this one, read a short Q&A with Rachael Bona via the Gophers' website.
- Minnesota State and UMD go at it Saturday and Sunday, with the Mavericks still looking for a win after being swept by Mercyhurst last weekend. MSU hasn't had a very lucky draw, going up against its fair share of top-10 teams (and UMD is indeed at No. 10 this week). (Audio via the Bulldogs' website here.)
- So, uh... Miami University is apparently good. Like, really good.
- The CWHL is on a bye for a couple of weekends, likely in order to give its players ample time to play and recover from the 4 Nations Cup, but don't fret! There is plenty of hockey still to watch. Check out the free archive via cwhl.ca (go to "Schedule," then "Game Streaming" and click on "Free Archive", or just go here). Also check out Bill Robert's YouTube channel, where a number of Boston Blades games have been uploaded with commentary.