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Group Break entries are now closed, the boxes have been ordered and secondary teams have been randomized. Follow THIS LINK for final team assignments.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

2012-13 Fleer Retro Mini Box Break

I've never been shy about the fact that when it comes to hockey card, I'm a Panini guy. Any time the company puts something puck-related out, I snatch it up without thinking twice. But there is still one other heavy hitter in the hockey market, Upper Deck. Of course, I say that, while already having picked up boxes of Series 1, Artifacts, Black Diamond, and SP Game Used. So, naturally, when they released Fleer Retro, I had to pick me up a box, just to see how this product would turn out.

Each full box contains two mini boxes, each of which are guaranteed to contain three autographs and two classic inserts (on average). I would have liked to have gotten the full box, but seeing as though I could only afford one mini box I had to go with that.

The entirety of this set, from the base cards, to the inserts, to the hits, is based solely on the Fleer products from, mostly, the mid-'90s, and nearly all of them are based on hockey product from that era. The one exception is the base set design, which is based on 2002 Fleer Triple Crown baseball. Still, the design really works well with hockey, having a white border with sharp, shiny foil. It almost resembles the skate blades on the ice.


Apart from the base cards, there were also some "Throwback" cards that put present day players in past Fleer Ultra Designs. The ones I pulled were 1993-94 Martin Brodeur & Patrick Kane,  1992-93 Jonathan Toews, and 1994-95 Claude Giroux & Ryan Miller. As somebody who was purchasing Fleer Ultra hockey cards, I can definitely appreciate how faithful they were to the source material, right down to the separate horizontal design they used for goalie cards in 1994-95.


There were also four cards based on 1997-98 Metal Universe including a Ruby Precious Metal Gems parallel of Mikko Koivu numbered 19/100. My "base" Metal Universe cards were of Pavel Bure, Tie Domi, and Jussi Rynnas. 


I was guaranteed two classic inserts in my box, but I was lucky enough to pull four, including the Koivu. My other three were cards on Wayne Gretzky and Martin Brodeur based on 1996-97 Flair Showcase Row 2, and a card of Taylor Hall based on 1997-9 Ultra Stars. I must say, between these cards and the Metal Universe cards that I pulled, they really went the distance when it came to recreating the same exact look as the cards' predecessors.


My first of three autographs was on Dallas Stars right winger Reilly Smith based on 1994-95 Rookie Sensation. Smith, the younger brother of Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, spent 37 games with the pro club after playing for their AHL affiliate, Texas Stars, during the lockout. During the regular NHL season, he scored three goals and six assists, with eight penalty minutes.


My second autograph was a Brett Bulmer card based on 1996-97 Skybox Autographics. The Wild might not be my favorite team, but they are one of my "home" teams (Fargo, ND is closest to Minneapolis and Winnipeg), so it's always good to pull an auto from one of their players. Bulmer earned his rookie card in 2012-13 hockey card sets by playing nine games for the Wild during the 2011-12 season, but did not make an appearance with the pro club in 2012-13. in 43 games with the Houston Aeros during this past season, he scored four goals and three assists, with 41 penalty minutes.


While my first two autographs were of rookies and prospects, my third auto was a big one, or at least, a redemption for a big one. This redemption card is good for an autographed card of Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. After being selected in the third round (72nd overall) of the 2005 NHL entry draft and making his NHL debut in 2008, Quick has established himself as one of the NHL's premier goaltenders. He backstopped the Kings to their first Stanley Cup victory in the 2011-12 season, and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He was also nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender that same season, and was a member of the silver-medal-winning Team USA during the 2010 Olympics. He was the team's third goaltender that year, but many people expect him to take the starting position over from Ryan Miller for the 2014 Olympics.


I believe the auto is from the base card variation. I pulled his regular card out of this box, and basically, they'll be taking this card and slapping a sticker on the front, so here's kind of a look at what the card will sort of look like.


Well, this turned out to be a pretty good box. I got my three promised hits, one of which is pretty awesome, and I got a few extra inserts on top of my two promised ones. Of course, my enthusiasm of this product has a lot to do with getting a good autograph. I know other boxes have just contained three rookies, and with the rookie pool so thin this year, it might not be such a welcome sight. It's definitely a buy-at-your-own-risk type of product, but if you're willing to take a chance, you can get some really cool cards.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Champ's Hockey Autos for Two Bucks (Plus Shipping)

These two autographed cards fall under, "Hey, they were a buck each, so why not?" For $1.98 + shipping, I was able to get my hands on autographed mini cards of Jon Filewich and Niklas Kronwall from 2008-09 Champ's


Filewich had a short NHL career, playing in only five games during the 2007-08 season, with no points. During the 2012-13 season, he played in Croatia for Medveščak Zagreb of the EBEL, but next season, the team will become part of the KHL. Still, he is featured as a Penguin on this card, so I can at least add it to my team collection.

Kronwall, on the other hand, has become a regular for the Detroit Red Wings, and is one of the team's alternate captains. He is no stranger to success, too, having won an IIHF World Championship (Sweden 2008), an Olympic Gold Medal (Sweden 2008), and a Stanley Cup (Red Wings 2008). He is also known as one of the biggest hitters in the league, and fans refer to his devastating open ice hits as being "Kronwalled."


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just a Few Hockey Autographs from Ebay. No big Deal.

When I'm done prowling Ebay for Sidney Crosby cards and rookie autos from Dominion, I tend to do a little wandering. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, but other times, I can land some fantastic cards that I may not have ever found otherwise.

Here's two of my more recent random purchases:

Jordan Staal 2011-12 SP Game Used Significance 39/50


I was a fan of Staal's throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh, even to the point that I would pick up some hits of Eric and Marc, as well. I also understand the reason why he wasn't planning on staying in Pittsburgh, and wanted to head off to Carolina. I still pick up his cards, for one, because there are quite a few of him as a Penguin, and two, they are dirt cheap!

2011-12 Limited Team Trademarks Matt Duchene 24/49


I always talk about my love for Panini Limited, so my browsing sessions usually include a search to see what is out there. I was lucky enough to find this on-card autographed relic of Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene for less than a Hamilton. The 2009 third overall pick was productive during the 2012-13 season, notching 17 goals and 26 assists (43 total points), exceeding his previous season's total by 15 points.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Few New Additions to the Sidney Crosby Collection (Dominion, Retro, and A Shiny but Incorrect Photo)

I've been accumulating some more Sidney Crosby cards over the past couple of weeks, but have neglected to post them. I'm not really sure how many people actually care, but here's a look at the additions I've made to my Crosby Collection.

Hits:
2010-11 Dominion 39/99
2011-12Pinnacle Threads
2011-12 Crown Royale Lords of the NHL

The Pinnacle and Crown Royale cards were Purchased at some pretty good prices ($9.56 and $7.00, respectively), but the Dominion made up for the discount ($17.70). Still, I needed a Dominion card of his from the debut set, and I figured it's run me a little bit more than the others. Still, it's better than a plain jersey card from The Cup, which usually hit the $30s.



2012-13 Fleer Retro: '94 Fleer Ultra, '93 Fleer Ultra, Flair Showcase Row 2
This is a pretty cool set that Upper Deck released a couple of months ago, where they take various Fleer base sets and insert sets and place modern players on those old patterns, similarly to what Topps does in baseball with Heritage. I have plenty of cards from the original issues of the '92 and '94 Fleer Ultra sets, but the Flair Showcase Row 2 card puzzles me a little. I looked for quite a while, but for some reason, could not find any information on the original set this was based on.


Lastly, for the low price of $2 shipped, I got my hands on a shiny Record Breakers card of Sid from 2007-08 O-Pee-Chee. It's a great looking card that a scan can't so justice for, but there is one problem. The record in question being broken is Sid becoming The youngest Art Ross Trophy winner as the league's leading scorer. The problem? The picture shows him proudly holding the Lester B. Pearson Trophy as the MVP voted on by the NHLPA. Come on, Upper Deck, you're better than that!


There you have it. Some great additions to the collection at some pretty good prices. As always, if anyone has any Crosbys to send my way, don't hesitate to let me know.

Monday, May 20, 2013

P.K. Subban Autographed Rookie Card from 2010-11 Luxury Suite

I'm not much of a Montreal Canadiens, fan, but when I got the chance to score an autographed rookie card of their best player at a really good price, I had to grab it. This P.K. Subban rookie card comes from 2010-11 Panini Luxury Suite and is serial numbered 93/499. With some copies of this card being sold for as high as $41, I thought I got a steal at the $19.99 that I paid.


In just a couple of years, Subban has already risen to the top of the league's talent pool at his position. The 2007 second round pick just finished this third regular season with the Canadiens, where he matched his points total from 2010-11, and exceeded his points total from 2011-12, despite playing in just over half as many games due to the lockout. His performance was good enough to get him his first Norris Trophy nomination (best defenseman).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Panini Redemption Redeemed - 2012-13 Limited Basketball Festus Ezeli Autographed Rookie

Like the Dontari Poe I got in the mail a couple of weeks ago, here's another example of a redemption I was hoping would go unredeemed, so that I could request a replacement of a Penguins card. I actually pulled the redemption for a Festus Ezeli autographed rookie card from a box of 2012-13 Limited Basketball. The card was redeemed Back at the beginning of March, and two an a half months later, I received this acetate die-cut autographed card of Ezeli, numbered 2/349


Ezeli was born in Nigeria, and was selected in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. He played in 78 games during the 2012-13 season, and started 41, when Andrew Bogut got injured. None of his statistics stand out too much, but when you consider that he hadn't even played basketball until he left Nigeria to live with his uncle in 2004, I'd say he's done pretty well for himself.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The "Ultimate" Ryan Miller Auto

I just picked up my newest Ryan Miller autograph, from 2009-10 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection. This brings my total to three of his autos, but this one actually marks the first on-card one, as the other two are stickers.


I have been a big fan of Miller's ever since his team-carrying performance for Team USA at the 2010 Olympics, where he was named the MVP of the tournament, and the nice thing is, his stuff is always pretty cheap. He has been a Sabre ever since they drafted him 138th overall in the 1999 draft, but his days in Buffalo may be numbered. The team appears to be entering a rebuilding phase, already trading Jason Pominville at the 2013 trade deadline. Both Miller and Thomas Vanek are expected to be finding new homes in the off-season.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Couple Finest Football Auto Relics

While looking to make some small additions to me football collection, I came across a couple of autographed relic cards from 2012 Topps Finest.

The first one is definitely a keeper, a Devier Posey autographed jumbo jersey card, numbered 237/1368. Posey has been an ok contributor for the team, and seems to be the go-to Texan that both Topps and Panini went to for their autos in 2012 products, which is weird, since he was a third round pick, while Whtney Mercilus, their first round pick, was largely forgotten about by the card companies.


I also picked up a T.J. Graham autographed patch card, numbered 365/1353. Graham, like Posey, was a third round pick in the 2012 NFL draft. He played in 15 games for the Bills during the 2012 season, getting 31 receptions and one touchdown. This may not seem like it from the swatch, but it is a patch card. You can kind of  see the ventilation holes from the jersey, but the material is a bit plastic-y, which makes me think that this came from one of the shoulder stripes, which I believe are screen-printed.


Both of these card are pretty nice, but here's the thing. To what end are we going to bother putting serial numbers on cards? If something's limited to 100, 50, or 25 copies, or even a 1/1, I understand that perfectly, but when you get into four digits, does it even really matter? Besides that, with print runs of 1353 and 1368, where do those numbers even come from? Just give me a nice card, without nine characters taking up space for a serial number that at this point, means nothing.

Other than that, I have no opinion of the matter.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

$15 Hockey Re-Pack from Target

After picking up a $5 hockey repack from Target with okay results, I decided to try my luck on a repack of a slightly grander scale. For just $10 more ($15 total) this one contains over 250 loose cards, 3 unopened packs, 3 jumbo cards, 1 autographed card pack (4 packs total) 1 team set, 1 screw-down card case, and 1 storage case.


Here's a look at the three jumbo cards. I got Dwayne Roloson, Martin Havlat, and Pavel Datsyuk from various Victory, Bee Hive, and Fleer Ultra Years. Nothing too major, although any Datsyuk card is pretty cool, in my opinion.


My team set was of the Washington Capitals from 2011-12 Score. I don't know what it is with the capitals team sets, but not only is it the team set pictured on the box label, but the other two re-packs at this particular Target had the Caps as well. Still you could do worse than a guaranteed card of Ovie.


My four packs were 1997-98 Be A Player, 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee, 2004-05 Victory, and 1997-98 Pinnacle Mint Collection.The O-Pee-Chee and Victory packs are the typical low-end fare that you would expect from something like this, but the other two are pretty cool. Be A Player guarantees one auto per pack, and Mint Collection comes with a coin of an NHL player.


The Mint Collection pack, as I said, contains one player coin, along with three cards. My base cards were of Martin Brodeur and Eric Lindros, along with a Minted Rookies card of Sergei Samsonov, which contains a cut-out for Samsonov's coin. I didn't pull his coin, though, I did much better with John Vanbiesbrouck.


I'll get to Be A Player at the end, but here's the best two cards from the O-Pee-Chee and Victory packs.


The "over 250" single cards contained its fair share of junk wax, but it also gave me quite a few winners, as well. I could ahve used a few more Penguins, but I was happy with the Jagr, Bodger, and McEachern that I didn't already have in my Penguins collection.


There were also a few "vintage to me" cards in the re-pack, and some good ones at that.I know it's 1988-89, but it's from before I began collecting hockey cards, so it's vintage to me, damnit!


Here's a quick look at some of the better cards that came out of the singles pile. I'm not going to list details on them, I just wanted to show that you can actually get some pretty awesome cards from these re-packs.





As I mentioned, they included on screw-down case, which I assume they included for you to safeguard your guaranteed autographed card from the Be A Player pack.


Anyway, the one ""hit" you get out of these is an autographed card from a pack of 1997-98 Be A Player. I have opened two other re-packs containing this product and pulled autographs from Chris Chelios and Ed Ward, so the quality of the player can very. That being said, I'd say I did pretty well by pulling Felix Potvin out of this pack.


So, there you have it. Some pretty cool cards, and a lot of variety, for JUST 15 bucks. If you can locate any of these at your local Target, I would DEFINITELY recommend picking one up. It's a fun thing to open, and you have the chance to get some really cool cards.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Martin St. Louis Phenoms Auto from 2012-13 Panini Limited

Well, here's a pretty good deal.

I had my eye on getting a Martin St. Louis auto for quite some time, but since I only really need one, I was waiting for the right Ebay auction to come along. Sure enough, I soon found an auction for a Monikers card from 2012-13 Limited and was lucky enough to come out a winner.


The card is the regular version of the Phenoms autographed insert set and is serial numbered 61/99. Most of the card features an embroidered team logo on a piece of white fabric that contains the autograph. Not only that, but the seller was good enough to place the card in a one-touch magnetic case at no extra charge.


So we have St. Louis, who despite playing on a pretty dreadful team this year, has already locked up the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer with 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists) to go along with his Art Ross, Pearson (MVP chosen by players), and Hart (MVP chosen by writers) from 2004, as well as his Lady Byng (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct) from 2010 and 2011. Oh yeah, he also won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Now despite his immensely impressive resume, his cards are still at a pretty good price, as I was able to land this gem for a grand total of $10.06 shipped.

I'd say I did pretty good for myself.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mystery Trade From Joe Average Collector

I recently completed what I call a "mystery trade" with Jason from Joe Average Card Collector. In this mystery deal, he offered up seven basketball hits for any five baseball hits. Well, I had five baseball hits that I didn't really need, and my Basketball Trade Bait folder was severely lacking in content, so I figured I'd see what he had.

Here's a look at what he sent me:

2000-01 Ultimate Collection Wally Szczerbiak SGC Graded 92 (8.5 on a 10-point scale)


2006-07 UD Reserve Shaun Livingston, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Martell Webster


2008-09 Upper Deck Michael Redd, 2004-05 Topps Chrome Marko Jaric 376/1000, 2007-08 SP Rookie Edition Julian Wright


Thanks for the trade! I hope you enjoyed what you got in return.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Panini Redemption Redeemed - Dontari Poe Prime Signatures Gold

I had originally purchased this redemption for a Dontari Poe autographed card from 2012 Panini Prime Signatures at my LCS in hopes that Poe would be too busy doing whatever to return his signed stickers, and I'd be in for another great round of Redemption Replacement Roulette. However, now that I have the card in hand, I'm pretty ok with this one.


The card itself is a gold parallel, which is limited to 25 copies, and I must have either been the first one to redeem it, or the first one to redeem it and not ask for a replacement, because I receives the coveted "Ebay 1/1" serial number of 1/25.

Poe was the Chief's first round pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, and made an impact on the team quickly. After starting nose tackle Anthony Toribio went out with an injury during the preseason, Poe earned the starting job and held on to it, starting all 16 regular season games. He recorded 38 tackles (28 unassisted) and was named the Chiefs' Rookie of the Year by the Kansas City Star.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trade With Plain Gray Swatch

I'm getting further along in my 2013 Gypsy Queen set, thanks to a trade with Roy-Z from Plain Gray Swatch.  After opening my box and posting my needs, he was able to chip a few off of the list (19 in total), including two SPs of Miguel Cabrera and Hal Newhouser. All he wanted in return was a couple of minis and the Yasmin Grandal auto, which is that card I originally thought I'd have the toughest time trading.


Thanks for the trade!

(Roy, sorry for my laziness in getting your end of the trade out, but I dropped it off at the post office on Wednesday, so it is on the way! Thanks for your patience.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2012-13 Panini Limited Box Break #3

Along with the box of Between the Pipes that I picked up this weekend, I also grabbed me another box of 2012-13 Panini Limited. I'm a huge fan of this line, and whenever I have money to burn, and I'm not sure what to pick up, it's always a safe bet. Each box contains three hits and four non-hits, but every card, hit or not, is serial numbered.

I've posted my Limited breaks in many different ways, but for this one, since there are only seven cards in the box, I figured I'd just go down the list from least to best

7. Nathan Gerbe base card 99/299
Gerbe is a left-winger for the Sabres and finished the year with 5 goals and 5 assists in 42 games. During the season, Gerbe took part in the Ticket for the Troops program, in which he donated Sabres tickets to soldiers. Another fun fact about him is that at 5'5" he is currently the shortest player in the NHL.


6. New York Rangers Rookie Redemption
Due to the lockout, the NHLPA is not allowing companies to print official rookie cards of players debuting in the 2012-13 season until their 2013-14 releases. To get around that, Panini printed rookie redemption cards, which will be redeemed for rookie cards of those players once they are able to be released. The Rangers redemption will most likely be for center J.T. Miller, the club's 1st round pick in 2011.


5. Joe Nieuwendyk Stanley Cup Winners 19/199
These are some of the best looking insert cards throughout Limited this year. They have a bright, shiny, silver background, with the Cup placed front and center in all its glory. Nieuwendyk is a multiple cup winner, getting it in 1989 with the Calgary Flames, 1999 with the Dallas Stars, and 2003 with the New Jersey Devils. He was the Stars GM  up until a couple weeks ago, when he was relieved of his duties with the team.


4. Pavel Datsyuk Silver Parallel (10/49)
The nice thing with Limited, is that not only do they change up the foil with their parallels, but the background of the card as well. This Datsyuk is Limited to just 49 copies and with there being some average players (like Gerbe) in the set, it's always nice to pull one of a player of this caliber.Datsyuk has earned his fair share of hardware in the NHL, too, being awarded the Frank J. Selke Award (best defensive forward) in 2008, 2009, and 2010, the Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct) in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, and the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008.


3. Cody Goloubef Phenoms Auto/499
The Phenoms cards are the manufactured patch cards with a canvas of white for the player's signature. They really are fantastic-looking, and I shouldn't have to wait too long for this, as some of the actual signed cards themselves are on Ebay. Anyway, Goloubef played in just one NHL game during the 2011-12 season to earn him this card, but the defenseman picked it up this year, making to 11 games, and picked up his first NHL goal Feb. 11 against the San Jose Sharks.


I copied an image off of Ebay of one that has already been redeemed, so once I get the card, here's what it'll look like:


2. Joe Sakic Limited Jersey 77/99
Just a great-looking card of a great player. The long-time captain played his entire career with the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise, picking up 625 goals and 1,016 assists to go with his two Stanley Cups. As if that wasn't enough, Sakic is apparently the reason that this year's likely No. 1 draft pick, Seth Jones, is even playing hockey in the first place. When Seth's dad, Popeye, was playing basketball for the Denver Nuggets, he ran into Sakic and asked him for advice on helping his kids become better players, as they had begun playing in-line hokey for fun with friends. Sakic, knowing that their father's genes would give them size and athleticism, told him to have his boys work on their skating. Seth actually begun taking figure skating lessons at age five, before transitioning to ice hockey the following year. Now, years later Sakic may very well be part of the Avalanche front office that drafts Jones witht he first pick of the 2013 NHL entry draft.


1. Ron Francis Limited Travels 55/99
Three boxes in and I FINALLY get me a Penguins hit! Not only that, but how cool is this card!!! The idea behind limited travels is that it takes the different destinations a player has had, and not only picture them in those teams but include swatches from jerseys of those actual teams as well. ITG actually takes the time to do this with almost all of their releases, so it's nice to see Panini putting in the extra effort. The only downside is that all three swatches are white, BUT that is made up for by the fact that you can actually see the evolution of jersey fabric in these three swatches, with the different type of material he wore with Hartford, Pittsburgh, and finally, Carolina.


Well, that's it for this box. So far, out of three boxes, all three of my guaranteed autographs have been from the Phenoms set, which is a little lacking on the rookie quality, due to the lockout. Still, my memorabilia hits were pretty stinkin' good, and I LOVE getting what I'll call the "evolution of jersey fabric" card of Ron Francis. It's definitely a keeper, and one more for my Hockey HOF Relic Project.

I'm keeping the Francis and Sakic, but all the others are up for trade. I haven't scratched off the two redemptions yet, just in case there are any Rangers or Blue Jackets fans who want to take a bit, but if I haven't heard anything by Friday, I'll scratch them off and keep them for my greedy self.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2012-13 Between the Pipes Box Break

While out shopping with my wife this weekend, I was able to make a stop at my LCS to take a look at some hockey cards. Luckily for me, and not so luckily for my wife, the shop is located right at our local mall, which makes it very easy to just drop in and spend some money on cardboard when we're supposed to be doing other shopping.

Anyway, I ended up with two boxes, one of which was 2012-13 Between the Pipes. This product from In the Game is a goaltender-exclusive issue, and one of the company's cornerstones every year. The company does a great job with their sets, and in this case, I think that their lack of NHL licensing is what ends up making it such a popular product. Think about it. With no licensing, they can't show the players' jerseys, so what do they do? A lot of close-up head shots, ending up making this a set that not only focuses on the goalies themselves, but their masks.

In the past, the 200-card set was broken up into a number of different subsets, but this year, they kept it simpler and went with five. I received three Penguins cards from my box: Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun from Stars of the Game, which focuses on current NHLers, and Matt Murray, the Penguins' 2012 third round pick, from the CHL Prospects subset. There's also the return of Decades, which pays tribute to goaltenders of the past, Record Breakers, which recognizes record-breaking performances, and International Stars, which recognizes a goaltender's performance in any number of worldwide hockey events, like the Olympics, World Championships, and even the 1972 Summit Series.


The only insert produced for the 2012-13 product is their incredibly popular Masked Men set. Each box is guaranteed to contain three Masked Men 5 cards, which combine a few different chrome/prizm/finest/etc. attributes, along with a painting of an up-close view of the goaltender wearing his mask. These are fantastic looking cards in person, and my three were of Gilles Gratton, Chico Resch, and Evgeni Nabokov. 


Each box also guarantees a minimum of four hits: two autos and two relics. I say "minimum," because the per-pack dispersion doesn't even out to the amount of packs in a box. There are 18 packs per box, but autographs are inserted in every seven, and relics in every eight, so for those doing the math, every couple of boxes might contain an additional autograph or relic card.

Anyway, I did receive the promised two relic cards, and both of them are pretty nice. The first one is a dual relic of Ilya Bryzgalov and Henrik Lundqvist from the Draft Day insert set, which puts two goaltenders from the same year together. This one is from the 2000 draft, when Bryzgalov was picked 44th overall by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Lundqvist was selected 205th overall by the New York Rangers. The great thing, also, about this card, is that ITG actually specifies which team the jersey is from, and they managed to stay true to the intention of the insert set, by getting Bryagalov's swatch from an actual Ducks jersey. The Hextall is also a cool card in its own right. It is from the Big League Debut insert set and features a two-colored swatch from a Flyers jersey. Of course, it's a fantastic looking card, but as an added bonus, this card is the "Gold Version" parallel, limited to just 10 copies! These tend to bring a pretty good return value, so yeah, of course I listed it on Ebay. (Here's the link) These parallels can runa wide range of prices. For example, a Rick DiPietro sold for $4.69, but a John Vanbiesbrouck sold for $66.00. Hopefully Hextall will at least get somewhere in the middle of that.


For the autographs, the Hockey Gods must have been smiling upon me, because I found three Goaliegraph cards in my box. The first was from Kelly Hrudey, who is featured as a member of the New York Islanders, but I remember him as the backstopper for the Gretzky-era L.A. Kings. He retired in 1998 and is currently working as a broadcaster with CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. My other two were of CHL prospects Garret Sparks, who was a seventh round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011, and Mathias Niederberger, who was elligible for the 2012 draft, but went unselected.


There are other companies producing hockey cards out there, no one does a genre-specific set like In the Game. Whether focusing on goaltenders, prospects, or the lineage of a specific team, they really have a good idea of what somebody who would potentially buy their product would expect, and they deliver in a big way. I have already updated my Want List with the remaining cards I need for the set, so if anyone has any to spare, be sure to let me know.