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četvrtak, 19. prosinca 2013.

Luke Gazdic Canadian-Croat NHLer - Goals & Punches.....Zagreb Bears In The KHL

This below post is a copy/paste of a previous post from a few months ago basically, with an updated recent addition of a hockey fight featuring Luke Gazdic. It was all over the hockey and sports world for number of days, so I added it. This will save me time typing......

Well, this turned out to be a more interesting post than I originally thought. Firstly, a Canadian-Croatian last night scored his first goal during his first shift, in his very first NHL game and with his first shot on goal. If anything, it should be a good conversation piece over dinner 30 years down the road. Who knows? Maybe he'll still hold that team record and be able to talk about it while chowing down on Easter turkey and noodles (puretina i mlince) or the Sunday ham (šunka...those are your 3 Croatian words for the day).  Humour aside, he even broke the previous record of Mario Lemieux, who also scored on his first shot on goal during his first shift, during his first NHL game. Does this mean Gadzic should change his number to 66? That he's going to be breaking Lemieux's other and other NHL player records? That in the future his name will be mentioned alongside Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Sakic, Frank Mahovlich, Mark Messier, Alexander Ovechkin, Gilbert Perreault, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Jaromir Jagr, etc and so on. Not very likely.  However, it's still interesting, a good start to the season and a record is a record afterall.

(I did a post in the past about Cory Sarich who used to play for the Edmonton Oiler provincial rival Calgary Flames. I am glad to announce that Cory smelled the coffee and took off for Non-Cowstrangling land and is currently playing for the Colorado Avalanche)




The first day of the new NHL ice hockey season kicked off and has seen a record already tumble, and it was a Canadian-Croat who broke it.  Edmonton Oilers tough guy Luke Gazdic, who was making his NHL debut, scored with the first shot of his first NHL game after just 14 seconds. It was a fairytale start for Gazdic, who was known in the minor leagues more for his toughness than his skill, was claimed on waivers by Edmonton just before the start of the season. Gazdic’s debut however would not be a winning one as the Oilers went down 5-4 to rivals Winnipeg Jets. Gazdic comes from an ice hockey family, his brothers Benjamin and Mark are also ice hockey players and his father, Mike Gazdic, was drafted in 1978 NHL Amateur Draft by Buffalo Sabres. Video below...

I decided to add this below footage after this post was originally made, to keep it all in once place. It was all over the hockey world internet sites for some reason. There was no blood, broken noses or bones, (that I know of anyway) but it seems to have been quite popular hockey talk for a number of days. The main thing to me is that the "Croat boy" was no pushover.  It probably would have been better had it not been at the end of Gazdic's shift. (If you've ever played organized hockey, which I did for a few years, you'll know that you're sort of tired at the end of your shift)  I don't have any direct quotes from Don Cherry regarding this one. (Luke Gazdic is from Toronto, hopefully a video down the road of him punching out Rob Ford or......well I have a long list) Source:

(Btw, Shortly after this footage, Milan Lucic was reported to be disgusted with Vancouver, mainly because last year his Serbian chetnik taliban church (where Serbs go to pray to their Serbian saints) was defaced by local human rights activists who were upset at the violence against Non-Serbs in Vojvodina and blessing rapists/genocidal maniacs)

Zagreb Bears Holding Their Own In The KHL.

2013 edition of the Zagreb Bears. Image:

The Zagreb Bears (Croatian: Medveščak Zagreb) are playing their rookie season in the KHL this year. (For those not in the know, the KHL is considered to be the 2nd best hockey league in the world and best in Europe. It's where all the NHL'ers go during lockouts and where up and comers go to play hockey and hone their skills, or as I like to say sometimes, to play hockey during their all expenses paid European vacations)  The "Bears" were promoted to the KHL last year after playing in the Austrian EBEL league. Anyway, they're in the midst of a 4 game winning streak and are now right in the think of it, only 4 points out of 1st in their division.

There's a lot more hockey to be played though, but it never hurts to have a nifty little winning streak to show the rest of the KHL that Zagreb Medveščak are for real and no pushover . Then I came across some video footage I never saw before during all my previous Zagreb Bears posts. Some interesting and rare behind the scenes footage about the Zagreb Bears fans, players and the atmosphere at their games. (The videos are in English and English subtitles) The 2013 version jerseys look pretty cool to me, I like all their versions though. They play and pretty well sell out most of their homes games at Dom Sportova, but sometimes also at the newer Arena Zagreb.

Tickets for Zagreb Bears hockey games are easily the hottest ticket in town and best bang for the buck entertainment product regarding professional sports teams in Zagreb. The success of Zagreb Medveščak is a boon and win-win situation in many regards from the way I see it. Firstly, of course, exposure for the game of hockey. Secondly, for putting Zagreb (and Croatia) on the hockey map in the sports world, exposure of the great atmosphere and fan base in Zagreb. The Zagreb Bears franchise has shown that it is a professionally run organization with tremendous support from the fan base that is only growing, all the while participating in an internationally respected sports league. Thirdly, and this may actually be the most important reason, it gives home grown Croatian hockey talent an avenue to become better and more competitive players, perhaps even NHL players down the road. The Zagreb Bears also give young Croatian kids with hockey interest and talent something to aspire to besides to cheer for, because they do actually represent Croatia in the KHL too when it all comes down to it.  Croatian kids from Zagreb to Rijeka, from Dubrovnik to Vukovar, from Osijek to Karlovac and everywhere in between. Croatian kids have actually been learning to play hockey even in the town of Pula. (Yes that Pula!..some footage from 2008 HERE, and a bunch of 8 year olds from the city of Sisak playing their first ever official hockey game HERE in 2010 are just a few examples)

I'm not going to get into the whole history of hockey in Croatia or the Zagreb Bears here, in case this hockey in Croatia topic is all shocking news to you. (And yes, I played league hockey when I was growing up in case you were wondering) Quite a few players on the team are Canadian...(as well as Croatian, Slovenian, American, Finnish, Danish, Slovakian etc) this is a good example of Croatia promoting hockey, which in many circles is considered Canada's national game, so in effect promoting Canada, unlike thisthis or this and numerous other related examples. (Can anyone beat the promotion of hockey by playing in an outdoor 2000 year old Roman Amphitheater when there are +30 degree daytime temperatures and people still swimming nearby? We Croatians are a crazy and sick bunch I tell you, we're f***ing mental, foaming at the mouth bonkers and maniacs )  Hockey in Croatia is not as popular as soccer, (nogomet...your 4th Croatian word of the day)...which is pretty well the most popular sport in Europe, but it has gained much more exposure over the years especially because of the Zagreb Bears, even the national team has been doing well, only 1 step from the international 1st division. (This hockey story is probably surprising for those people who usually only come across those summer touristy images and vids from the Croatian coast, Croatia is much, much more than just the summer time coast) More about hockey in Croatia at  Anyway, click onto my previous post links at the very bottom for much more info, images and videos from their play over the past few years, or you can keep up to date at their official website

(Pssst...since the time of this original post, the Bears have extended their winning streak to 8 games)


Pregame footage from their very first home game in the KHL season and a very surprising 7-1 win against a powerful CSKA Moscow club.

Pregame fan footage from their first KHL home game in 2013. (I'm not positive, but I think that's Goran Ivanisevic at the 16 second mark)

The below 3 videos are the one's I never saw before so I had to add them here. Interesting behind the scenes footage of fans, players and interviews from their EBEL league season in 2012. (English subtitles)

More similar behind the scenes videos at

Behind the scenes footage from their games at the Arena Zagreb during the 2012 EBEL league season. (English and English subtitles)

Behind the scenes montage from a game at Arena Zagreb in 2012.

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