A Zak Divided Can’t Stand

The Lake Erie Monsters season is wrapping up tonight and the Avalanche are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I feel like Annie Savoy in Bull Durham, but instead of the Bulls not losing, and me not getting laid, its more of the Avs can’t lose and the Monsters can’t win.

Erie Lake Monsters logoThe Monsters have had a really disappointing second half of the season here. Now there were a few games that gave me hope like the one where Sami squared off at center ice against Admirals goalie Scott Darling, and VDG had a hat trick. But the rest of the second half has been a whole bunch of fail. I’m not really sure where the blame lies, weather it be with the coach as some suggest, a lack of defense, poor netminding, all of the above, even none of the above.

Erie Monsters Fight

The Monsters have been consistent in that their problems have been all over the place. They are like my car, fix one thing and another breaks on the drive home from the mechanic.

Eric Monsters PickardIn a season like this, the only place to look is the coach. I have a feeling that Dean Chynoweth’s days at the helm are very limited. At least the Monsters final game of the season wasn’t disappointing. Pickard did a wonderful job in the net, while the officials made quite a few questionable calls at best. I mean the puck touched the line it didn’t cross it no way that’s Grand Rapids goal should have counted.

Varly pregame Gm1On a brighter note, now that my itchy, ginger, playoff beard is making it’s self known. How about them Avs? Wow what a season we have had in Colorado. Between the beginning of the season where the Avalanche couldn’t lose or Semyon Varlamov breaking Roy’s win record and also facing more than 2000 during the regular season, it has been a wild ride.

Patrick Roy AvsPatrick Roy has done some amazing work this season. He took a team that was at the bottom of the list last year and made them one of the best in a single season. I most certainly did not expect the Avs to have ended the season with the record that they have had, and I believe that is mostly due to having a man behind the wheel who knows what he is doing.

The Avs have been amazing during the post season so far. We are only two games in so far and Nathan MacKinnon already has one goal and six assists for a total of seven points. Damn this kid has had an amazing rookie season for an 18 year old. I think we took the better draft pick with MacKinnon.

MacKinnon 2014 Playoffs Round 1

Varly pregame Gm1 (3)I am a little worried though. We have had and still have problems with our blue line. I mean, if I was Roy when looking at the stats that Varly has seen more than 2000 shots on goal this season I would have sat down with my d-men and told them to step up their game, and that they should not be relying on stellar goaltending alone, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Follow me and my ginger playoff beard on Twitter: @LEMonster88

 

 

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Homo Homer

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

April. The cruelest month. Mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with Spring rain.

Yup. We're helpless.

Yup. We’re helpless.

How do we put this? There just wasn’t a whole lotta Captastical in “America’s Hockey Capital” this season…even if that motto doesn’t send you screaming out a window.

How bad was it? Not even Red Rally Balloon (or blimp) could have saved this squad this season. Face it: our defense was weaker than wet Kleenex, our five-on-five as shriveled as Donald Rumsfeld’s conscience, and our goalie-go-round more confused than Chris Christie in a SweetGreen.

This is exactly what this season felt like. Exactly.

This is exactly what this season felt like. Exactly.

Moar? How about a sclerotic front office? Asinine line switch-ups? Trades and acquisitions more tone-deaf than Alec Baldwin at an ACT-UP meeting, inconsistent play, no Olympic medal for Ovi, crappy t-shirts and I’m waiting in line for 20 minutes and you’re just now telling me you have no hot dogs. TED Y U NO HAVE HOT DOGS?!?!

In summa, this season was a swift one to the nads. Over, and over again…hard, swift and directly to the giggleberrys. Just one giant bad touch of a season.

Now to be fully honest, it’s not like the entire hockey season was without moments of happy. Torts got canned and flamed out way out west…so that was a special little snowflake of schadenfreude, yah?

Scandinavian good guys Sweden and Finland overturned the Olympic apple cart and brought home some sweet metal – even Nicky finally got his – even if crybaby Crosby snagged yet another blah blah please start shutting up about Crosby it’s not ruining my feels. And how many Wings won a bit of that?

WinterClassic1 Pavel Gregory Shamus GettySpeaking of, how about that Winter Classic? Scotty Bowman coaching at the alumni game? Red Kelly? Ted Lindsay? Mr. Hockey freakin’ Gordie Howe? And the game itself – Wings v Leafs, original six, out in a blizzard, at the Big House?

I wasn’t there but I can still taste the cocoa, the kishka, the iced beer. I can hear, once again, the amazing amplitude of being there, in Michigan stadium, cold as a Ryan budget…the roar that can only come from a humongous hole in the ground with 100,000 vocalists shouting in the world’s largest theater-in-the-round? Mmmm. Can you tell from my swelling pride that I’m a native Michigander? Detroit to be specific.

Sure, Toronto won. Just. But what a cherry pie. Capitals_Red_Wings_Hockey-04c38

And what about that Caps-Wings home and home match-up earlier this year? First game in Detroit; hard fought at the Joe, the place on its feet for overtime, and a lightning bolt of a shoot-out win for 1 for the Wings.

Then two days later, here in your nation’s crapital, the arena electric with dueling Wings and Caps tribes, the game teeter-tottering like a Hollywood movie, maybe this, maybe that, only then after OT and another shootout and a lazer shot that wins it for the Caps…

(exhale)

20140202_120708

Two teams. Two games. Each witha thrilla win at home; each with three points. Best.

So…looking back, here in the Mirkwoods of playoffs, what path does a Wings-transplant/Caps-transplantational patient take?

It’s right there. Capitals, love you, go golf and figure yourselves out. Wings?

I can pivot.

If the United States government with all its whatnot and Humpheroo and phoofehrah can pivot from something…we think Iraq, or Afghanistan, someone?… to Russia,or to South East Asia and the…um we really don’t know what we’re doing and really just need to stop here because confused

I am pivoting.

We are seeking a reset of relations with the Wings. We still believe in the innate greatness of the Capitals as an ideal; our founding ideas. And yet, we can recognize the much older nobility of a culture that preceded us; namely, the Red Wings. Home sweet home.

This is not a battle of old vs. new; of east vs. west. This is a recognition of all that we share and agree on. That hockey matters. And that I really really really need a Cup this year.

WingsNation: please please please. Please. Start by humiliating the filthy B’s.

- Sincerely, Doug

WingsPlayoffNationPS: Oh hellz yeah. BTW: looks like Wings Nation extends far across this nation.

What unites Alaska, Alabama, Washington, Tennessee, Louisiana, TenneTucky and the Great Lakes State?

Yup. America – north and south, rich and poor, pooter and critter – knows hockey. And they are Detroit Hockey Nation.

Oh, and look who we’re picking to go all the way!

SCP Bracket

 

 

 

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Gay Hockey Diary: Playoff Time

I finally started learning how to actually play hockey in the Madison Gay Hockey Association. I’ll chronicle my journey in my Gay Hockey Diary, a semi-regular feature here. See the previous posts here.

I now know why hockey players golf in the summer. I really don’t know what to do with myself now that hockey is over. Sundays now feel a little empty without MGHA games to keep be busy. So I might start golfing more, just to fulfill the cliche.

But I couldn’t be happier with the way our season ended, as the No. 6 seeded Green Gay Puckers stormed all the way to finish the tournament in 5th place!

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Round 1: Green Gay Puckers vs. Boo-teal-licous

The teal team holds a special place in my heart, as they were the first team I scored against. Granted, I don’t really think it was even my goal, but the ref saw a guy with a beard smack the puck in the net, so I got the goal.

We lit up the Boo-teal-licious goalie for 6 goals in our first game against them, but he came back with a vengeance in the playoffs. The Puckers carried the play throughout the entire game, but we just couldn’t score.

My center, Kevin, hit several posts, and Andrew, Teal’s goalie, stood on his head to make some incredible saves. He even had our bench applauding a few of his saves, he was that good.

But we found ourselves in a hole after giving up two quick goals in the second period. Then, one of our players got knocked down behind the net with three minutes left, and the ref raised his arm.

I thought for sure we were getting a power play. But no, our right wing was sent to the box for checking.

So we stacked our penalty kill with all our best players, and instead of playing defense, we just attacked. The anger from the wrongful penalty spurred some of the best play I’ve ever seen from our team’s veterans and they finally hit the back of the net with two minutes left on a shorthanded goal.

Once the penalty ended, we pulled our goalie and swarmed into the offensive zone. I fed a pass to Kevin with about 6 seconds left on the clock. He let a shot rip that sailed past Andrew in the crease.

He hit the post, and the game was over. The Green Gay Puckers were sent to the loser’s bracket.

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Round 2: Green Gay Puckers vs. Puck a L’orange

The orange team has had our number this year. They beat us in both games we played, and their goalie, Ryan, has simply tortured us. He even subbed in for absent goalies in weeks we weren’t even playing the orange team. He’s probably the best goalie in the league, and he’s become a good friend.  It seemed like we were playing against him every week—and he kept beating us. I had so many great chances against him, but I couldn’t bury it.

Since the orange team finished the regular season in second place, I assumed we wouldn’t have to worry about Ryan in the playoffs. But, the Team Formerly Known As Purple Reign somehow knocked off Puck a L’orange in the first round—which sent us on another collision course with the brick wall that was Ryan.

Once again, the Green Gay Puckers came out flying. We’ve become a great puck-possession team. The first five minutes saw more of the same, however, as all of our great chances bounced around in the crease before Ryan smothered the puck.

Then, finally, we got the monkey off our back thanks to Kevin who managed to bury a shot from the slot. We scored again a few minutes later, and we realized that we just might have a chance.

But the orange team came right back with two goals of their own in the second period.

Then, with the second period winding down, my line hopped over the boards and I went right to my favorite spot on the ice.

My friend now calls it the “Tony spot”—it’s about three feet to the right of the crease. I’ve learned that defenders only really try to push me out of the way if I’m right in front of the crease, so I now stand just to the right of it, and people seem to not notice me. Maybe it’s because I’m short.

But anyway, Kevin got the puck into the crease, and Ryan missed it on his covering attempt from the left side. It squired right to my stick and I took a swing. Out of nowhere, an Orange defender came in and blocked my shot with his skate.

“Of course,” I thought.

But I took one more whack at it, and the puck slipped behind the defender and into the net. That one felt good, and I thought it might hold up as the game-winner. But, we gave up a goal early in the third period. Then, with about 5 minutes remaining, I helped cause more havoc in the crease and my linemate Ben swooped in and buried a fourth goal to give us the win.

We don’t get too competitive in the MGHA, but that win felt good. It was the most jovial locker room I’ve ever seen from the Green Gay Puckers. We all came in expecting a loss, which would mean we would be battling to avoid a last-place finish in Round 3, but instead, we found ourselves fighting for 5th place.

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Round 3: Green Gay Puckers vs. Blue Bayou

I really enjoyed playing for the Green Gay Puckers, but if there was one team that exemplified everything good about the MGHA, it was Blue Bayou.

Frankly, Blue Bayou was awful. They wound up with a lot of first-year players who had never played hockey before, including a goalie. They never won a game until February, and only a few times did they even give opponents a scare.

But Blue Bayou was the most fun and most encouraging team on the ice. It was truly a pleasure to watch them play and to play against them.

What they lacked in talent, they made up for in personalities. Some of my best friends wound up on the Blue team, and they are all bright, cheerful and even loud people.

They would frequently start chants on the bench. Whenever their players made even the most mundane plays, they would all stand up and cheer. You could just tell that they all were very good friends off the ice, and they supported each other more than any other team on the ice.

Many a Blue Bayou player told me, “we may not win, but we have the most fun,” and there’s really no denying that.

I don’t even really remember much about the game, even though it was our last game. The Green Gay Puckers won and earned 5th place, but I just remember having a blast in that game. Both teams got great chances, both teams were yelling and supporting each other, and everyone was simply enjoying themselves.

It was the perfect way to end my first season in the MGHA. This league doesn’t care about anyone’s sexuality, race, gender or age. Hell, we barely care about skill level. If you don’t know how to play, we’ll teach you. I learned so much this year about hockey, but the biggest thing I’ll remember is just how much fun I had.

So here’s to a great season in the MGHA. I can’t wait until next year.

The Summer: Tournament Time

While I’m sad that the MGHA is over for the year, I’ll have plenty of gay hockey to keep me occupied over the summer. First is the MGHA Classic April 26-27 in Madison. We’re inviting players from all over the country to come play.

And I’ll be playing in New York City gay league’s Chelsea Challenge over Memorial Day weekend, which just so happens to coincide with Fleet Week.

So stay tuned for some offseason updates in my Gay Hockey Diary.

If you have any questions about the MGHA or life in general, feel free to email me.

Posted in Gay Hockey Leagues | Leave a comment

Dancing with Avery: Ejected from the Game

The “shocking” twist announced at the top of Dancing with the Stars last night was that there would be a double elimination. Usually these happen much later in the competition, but it was yet another attempt to shake up the show for season 18.

For those in the bottom of last week’s leaderboard:  Sean Avery (20 points), Swimmer Diana Nyad (18) and actor Billy Dee Williams (15), it was unwelcome news to start the show. The announcement of who was safe and who would go was done in batches and in round two Billy Dee found out the Force was with him. Yes, as predicted, his Star Wars-infused disaster of a Cha Cha Cha was a fan favorite and he was safe despite having the lowest judges scores.

Diana Nyad was eliminated within the show’s first hour.

avery_shirtless

Avery said in his rehearsal package, which featured him in a couple of quick shirtless takes, that he didn’t want to be the first to go home, and he was saved from that. Instead, he went second.

Unlike Nyad, Avery found out about his elimination after his group of three, which included actress/housewife NeNe Leakes and Australian pop star Cody Simpson, danced as the final three of the evening.

Here’s Avery’s work from last night, including the rehearsal footage, Salsa, judging, post-dance chatter and elimination.

I wonder, if Avery had the Salsa last week, would he have survived this week? In last week’s scores he was a single point off of NeNe, game show host Drew Carey and hunky singer James Maslow. I doubt he could’ve beaten Drew in the viewer votes, but I can imagine a scenario in this alternate universe where he could’ve overtaken either NeNe or James.

Avery looked far more at ease with the Salsa, even seeming to enjoy it. His comment about DWTS wanting constant smiles was excellent, although he had to understand it was part of the game too. No one wants to vote for someone who doesn’t look like they are having a good time. In the dance itself, he looked good. There were some footwork issues, but he had rhythm and he certainly moved and lifted Karina confidently. The final spin in the air was outstanding. The judges appreciated the work he put in too, giving him a 21 out of 30.

He would’ve been more protected had he survived this week. The leaderboard had five people (if you count him) at the bottom together. Billy Dee had an unfortunate Tango, which gave him another 15. There was a four-way tie at 21 with Drew, NeNe, actress Candace Cameron Bure and Avery. But we’ll never know how that might have panned out.

Three athletes are still in the running for the Mirror Ball. Skaters Charlie White and Meryl Davis are at the top this week, both earning 25. Charlie did a great tango and Meryl flew threw the air in a great Swing number. They’re tied in first with James. Paralympian Amy Purdy snagged a 24 for her Swing routine, which was also outstanding.

So with Avery out, PuckBuddys coverage of Dancing with the Stars concludes. If another NHL’er shows up in future seasons I’ll be happy to do this again.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some gratuitous ab-action, courtesy of James Maslow, who also did a Salsa this week. This was scored four points higher than Avery’s.

Jeff is excited to bring his love of dance competition shows to PuckBuddys after blogging about both “DWTS” and “So You Think You Can Dance” at jeffandwill.com. Jeff’s regular PuckBuddys beat includes the Red Wings and reviewing fiction that features gay hockey players. In addition, he’s written a young adult novel, Hat Trick, which details the coming out of two high school hockey players. He’s currently working on two sequels to that book. You can follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc.

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Caps’ First Tweets

To mark their 8th birthday, twitter created a very cool tool to easily pull up any account’s first tweet. This made diving back to see the first tweets from those in the Caps organization an absolute breeze. Let’s fire up the Wayback Machine – first, the players:

Ovi @Ovi8 An early adopter. hahaha!!!)))) 

Ovi

Kuz @Kuzya92 Google translate: “Forgot the keys to the intercom?”

Kuz

Nicky @Backstrom19  Stick taps his bro.

Nicky

MoJo, @mjohansson90  Simply Swedish

MoJo

Troy @tbrouwer20 Happy to bare with him

Troy

Joel @JRandalWard42 “My name is Joel”

wardo

Brooksey @BrooksLaich Huh?

brooks

Clearly NOT our Jason Chimera @JasonChimera

not jason chimera

Dustin @DustinPenner25 This guy has mastered Twitter.

penner

T-Dub @tom_wilso “The kid”

Tom W

F-16 @EricFehr Blame Nate

Fehr

New guy Chris Brown @txbrownie Mazel Tov!

chris brown

JC74 @JohnCarlson74  Hello, Campers!

JC74

Alz @KarlAlzner  Needs more Duncan, Charlie and Murphy!

Alzner

Ersk @JohnErskine04  May the power of Kenny compel you!

ersk

Greenie @GreenLife52 The journey…

MG52

Connor @connorcarrick  He’s a little bit country…

carrick

Braden @Holts170  JC74 gets the stick tap

Holtby

Halak @JaroslavHalak41 (You need to update your bio, dude)

halak

After the jump, the Front office and the CSN broadcast team- Continue reading

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Dancing with Avery: Clunky Contemporary

ABC’s Dancing with the Stars made its season 18 debut last night with 12 new stars arriving in the ballroom. From the moment former NHL player Sean Avery was introduced, he continued to look like he wasn’t thrilled to be there. While the other competitors looked excited and were grooving to the music, Avery looked more stoic than anything else.

Sean Avery - ABC PromoIf you missed this last night, his official promo picture sums it up. His partner, Karina Smirnoff is clearly into the moment, but he stands there looking as if he wants to be anywhere but here.

Is it nervousness because he’s distinctly out of his element? Maybe. His debut dance was Contemporary, which I thought was a mean choice to throw at competitors in the first week. Three dance styles were on display last night: Cha Cha Cha, Foxtrot and Contemporary. None of the styles are easy, but Contemporary requires fluid movement and a major connection to your partner and the music. Usually the stars get to start with some ballroom basics and move on to the more complicated dances. I don’t recall a season where Contemporary was unleashed so early.

Let’s go to the video for Avery’s performance, as well as the judges critiques and his post-dance interview with Erin Andrews.

Yes, Avery said he was trying to channel Ren McCormack from 1984’s Footloose, specifically the famous scene where he danced in the abandoned warehouse. Anyone else as shocked as I am by this revelation?

The dancing hockey player ended up with a judges score of 20, out of a 30. Carrie Ann and Bruno gave him sevens while Len went with six. The six was more in line with what I thought the dance deserved. Avery’s movements were clunky and lacked passion. A couple of the judges called him intense, but Karina didn’t seem in the same intense space that he was and it made for a lopsided performance because they weren’t emotionally connected.

Avery was outscored in Contemporary by both Full House actress Candace Cameron Bure (scoring a 25) and Olympic Gold Medal ice dancer Charlie White (scoring a 27, the night’s highest score). Let’s look at Charlie’s dance, which I’ll admit gave me goosebumps. This is what Contemporary should be.

How did the other athletes do last night? Charlie’s skating partner Meryl Davis scored a 24 with a great Cha Cha Cha. Paralympian, and newly minted Bronze medalist snowboarder, Amy Purdy also got a 24 for her Cha Cha Cha. Swimmer Diana Nyad got 18 points for her Foxtrot.

At the end of the show, White was at the top of the celebrities and actor Billy Dee Williams was at the bottom with 15. Avery’s 20 put him third from the bottom with only Diana and Billy Dee trailing.

Of course, this is really a popularity contest, so how well someone dances often matters less than how big their fan base is. Can Avery pull more votes than a beloved actor from Star Wars, who milked that for all it was worth? That’s a tough call, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Avery was eliminated next week. If not next week though, I don’t think Avery will make it to the halfway point unless he starts to act like he wants to be on the show and put in the work to improve his technique.

Who do I think ultimately wins the Mirror Ball Trophy? My money is on the ice dancers. Meryl and Charlie are going to duke it out to the end. Charlie will get all my votes because he’s so damn cute. Tough competition will come from actresses Bure and Danica McKellar, snowborder Purdy, as well as Australian pop star Cody Simpson.

To wrap up this week, let look at the truly disturbing number from last night, showing Disney marketing synergy run amok. It’s like a missing scene from the Star Wars Christmas Special. Here’s Billy Dee Williams doing a Cha Cha Cha to the Disco version of the Star Wars theme.

Jeff is excited to bring his love of dance competition shows to PuckBuddys after blogging about both “DWTS” and “So You Think You Can Dance” at jeffandwill.com. Jeff’s regular PuckBuddys beat includes the Red Wings and reviewing fiction that features gay hockey players. In addition, he’s written a young adult novel, Hat Trick, which details the coming out of two high school hockey players. He’s currently working on two sequels to that book. You can follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc.

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Dancing with Avery: A Preview

As the season 18 cast for ABC’s Dancing with the Stars was announced this past week, former Red Wings / Kings / Stars / Rangers player Sean Avery made DWTS history as the first NHL’er to appear on the competition.

DWTS has at least one athlete each year, and season 18 is chock full of them, including newly minted Olympic Gold Medal ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis, swimmer Diana Nyad, para-olympian Amy Purdy. That’s five of twelve competitors who all know how to train and win.

nene_leakes_sean_avery_charlie_white_meryl_davis_a_l

Winners of the show often come from an athletic background too: Emmitt Smith (NFL player, season 3), Apolo Ohno (olympic speed skater, season 4), Helio Castroneves (Indy 500 driver, season 5), Kristi Yamaguchi (olympic figure skater, season 6), Shawn Johnson (olympic gymnast, season 8), Hines Ward (NFL player, season 12), and Donald Driver (NFL player, season 14).

How will Avery fair? He’s got a great pro teacher, at least to start the show with, having been paired with Karina Smirnoff. She’s never won the coveted mirror ball trophy, but she’s finished top three in the past two seasons.

Smirnoff-Avery1

However, in these behind-the-scenes shots that ABC released (above), Avery looks none-to-happy to be there. If he’s not committed to going for it, it’s going to be hard to win the audience’s favor and even harder to actually learn the dances.

Smirnoff-Avery2

The competition isn’t going to cut him and slack either. You’ve got people like Davis, White, Big Time Rush member James Maslow, and singer Cody Simpson who know how to move and keep rhythm (though for the pop singers, that doesn’t always translate to ballroom success).

So, over the coming weeks, I’ll be your guide to DWTS as Avery dones ballroom sparkles. You can expect I’ll keep up with the other athlete competitors as well as my personal DWTS crushes — pro Derek Hough, the winner of more championships than anyone else (he coached Glee’s Amber Riley to a win in the fall and is paired with Amy Purdy this season) and newly promoted pro Henry Byalikov, who has killer abs and is partnered with Diana Nyad.

If the show runs as usual, there’ll be 10 weeks of competition. Lots of new stuff happens this season with a new co-host, Erin Andrews (now with Fox Sports and 3rd place winner from season 10), as well as new things happening with the music since the house band was fired between seasons. Plus, it’s been announced that at some point in the season the celebrity/pro combinations will change and the audience will vote on that.

So, look for a review of the previous night each Tuesday for as long as Avery’s in the competition. The dance party starts next Monday, March 17, on ABC.

STANDING: LARA SPENCER, EMMA SLATER, BILLY DEE WILLIAMS, DANICA MCKELLAR, VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY, SEAN AVERY, CANDACE CAMERON BURE, MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY, MERYL DAVIS, NENE LEAKES, TONY DOVOLANI, SHARNA BURGESS, CHARLIE WHITE, CHERYL BURKE, DREW CAREY, DIANA NYAD, HENRY BYALIKOV, ERIN ANDREWS; SITTING: KARINA SMIRNOFF, DEREK HOUGH, MARK BALLAS, PETA MURGATROYD, JAMES MASLOW, WITNEY CARSON, CODY SIMPSON; FRONT: TOM BERGERON

Jeff is excited to bring his love of dance competition shows to PuckBuddys after blogging about both DWTS and So You Think You Can Dance at jeffandwill.com. Jeff’s regular PuckBuddys beat includes the Red Wings and reviewing fiction that features gay hockey players. In addition, he’s written a young adult novel, Hat Trick, which details the coming out of two high school hockey players. He’s currently working on two sequels to that book. You can follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc.

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