Drive Time: Stockton to Astoria

Eureka was a bust. Nothing like the TV Show. Astoria, OR is my transitory town before Seattle. This is what I saw along the way. And this is all in the full knowledge that this is a hockey blog. But this is the path between hockey games, so I figure it is applicable.

It has always been a goal of mine to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. And now that I have done the vast majority of it, in various pieces, I want to do it again, this time entirely in the day time, and with a less strict schedule. I always seem to have some place I have to be, so stops along the way are shorter than I desire. But the stops I made were amazingly beautiful.

This is San Francisco from the car. I do not recommend this type of behavior. Either drive or take photos. Don’t do both.

And it’s not like you need a reminder, but if you want to see a picture bigger, click on it. Make with the mouse, people.

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I stopped here for some lunch. It was pricey, but the view was worth it.
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Hank keeps an eye on the turkey crossing. It really is strange to have to stop for a turkey crossing, especially when you are from Colorado. Sure, I’m a man of the World nation, but this was a new one.
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How now, black and white cow.
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Now these are worth your time. As much as I want to get to the next game, this is why the Pacific Coast Highway is such an amazing drive.

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Finally, this is where I stopped for dinner, the Otis Cafe, in Otis, OR. I found the place thanks to the book “Roadfood.” If you are in the neighborhood, get the German Potatoes. You will not be disappointed. But you know this, if you are following the west coast hockey tour microblog.
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Next post: HOCKEY!!

Vroom Vroom Party Starter: Caps Take It to the Ladies

Remember a week ago when Jose Theodore was talking about his position with the Capitals vs the Avalanche? Of course, he got it handed right back to him in the form of a 4-1 loss against his former team. But for all the faults of the Avs management, they wouldn’t make him do this:

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That is a screen cap from the new Scarlet Caps website, “the official Web site dedicated to the Caps’ female fanbase.”

Is this what the female fanbase wants? I’m sure some do, because there are all kinds of people in this world and all, but come on, Jose as the bad boy of the band?
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I’m sorry, which one is he? The bad boy? The sensitive one? The one who lets in too many goals and needs a hug? The one who needs hair restoration solutions, even with a full head of hair?

A few of the other Caps were subject to the same treatment. Here are the highlights:

Come on, Sergei, no.
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Subtle. Very subtle.
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Vroom Vroom, Party Starter!
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Beefcake!!!

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There is something deeply disturbing about all this, such as the guys had to all share the same bad leather jacket.

Thunder vs. Wranglers: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

The only issue to be had with Stockton, CA, is that I showed up a little later than I should have to really enjoy the city. I know, for some people that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I had pretty low expectations of Stockton, but I believe that to be wrong. Stockton seems like a nice town that could be a big city, but shouldn’t really be. It’s not San Jose, and it’s not San Francisco, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s just a nice place on it’s own, at least what I saw. Which admittedly isn’t much. I could spend a few more days here, but it isn’t going to happen. I have to move on.

I was hosted for the game by a guy I met on the Into the Boards forum. As I have said before, meeting people in reality that you have met on the internet is a crap shoot. You never know who you are going to wind up with. I have yet to be disappointed on this hockey tour, and tonight was no exception. Craig was nice as hell, a great hockey fan, a good guy on his own, and was falling all over himself to show me a good time. I truly appreciate his hospitality, and hope to pass it back to him at some point. Minor league fans are the best.

First, the travel (this is a road trip, after all):

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OK, enough of that. The drive was nice, but on to the hockey. Welcome to the Stockton Arena:

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Hey, what does that sign say?
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Oh, you thought you saw that wrong. No, you did not. But don’t let this fool you, the arena inside is nice, and has some character.

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It was a good place for some hockey. You wouldn’t know it from the pictures, but the crowds have been really high, averaging 6,000 per game (and at this level, that is a healthy crowd, plenty to keep your team going).

Warmups (click to make bigger):

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Please note, the Wranglers are wearing warmup jerseys, with the Orleans hotel and casino logo on the front. The last time I saw this, it was the Motor City Mechanics wearing McDonald’s jerseys. You can only imagine.

Oh, say can you see….
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Game time:

Solid.
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Moving on, the game.

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This hurt.
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This was one of the few glove saves the Wranglers goalie made. Oh, sure, he made several stops, but the high glove was a weakness all night.
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No fights in this game, but it was “spirited”
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“No, this is what happened, so there!”
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Dude.

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Folks, that’s a game. Thunder win it 3-2 in regulation. It was a good game, but so much fun to hang out with Craig and the fans. He even invited me to the team president. One of the great things about the minors is that you can get so close to the team. The fans come first, and they mean it. The NHL should keep this in mind.

Swag report tomorrow.

What Do You Mean the Game Isn’t Available?

It’s not like I forgot the return of the Tort was on, but I just tuned in to NHL Gamecenter Online, and found this:

Game Not Available

BETTMAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!!!!

(for the record, I know it’s not his “fault,” but I rarely blame him for anything, since he is a puppet for the owners. This time I just feel like picking on him.)

Swag Report: Bakersfield Condors

On to the good stuff.

SWAG!
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A basic puck. But I went to two games, which means two pucks. And since it was Links-for-Love weekend:
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OK, you already saw this jersey:
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But you only caught a glimpse of this one:
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This is a Brian McCarthy Charity Game Worn jersey. And as far as “pink jerseys” are concerned, this one isn’t bad. You may want to tuck it in (jersey foul) if you are too concerned with your manhood.

The secret to jersey collecting is to get things that are special to you. It doesn’t matter what everyone else in the world thinks about your jersey, so long as you are happy with it. Why would you get a jersey from a player you don’t like or respect? Your jersey should only satisfy yourself. I wanted this jersey for a few reasons. One was that the money went to charity. Another was that this is a great reminder of what a great weekend this was. Also, and this was a big consideration, Brian was one of my teammates for the Hockey-thon (if you look at this picture, he’s the one in the white helmet on the left). I didn’t talk to him much, mostly because I was trying not to completely embarrass myself (FAIL!!!). But still, I wanted one that one of my teammates, and the other two Condors player’s jerseys were well out of my price range.
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Yeah, that’s right, it’s signed. And since it was used during a charity alumni game, it certainly was devoid of marks.
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Projoy is the jersey manufacturer.

Plenty of good swag, and a new jersey. What more could I ask for? Stockton Thunder is next.

Two Days of the Condors: Game 2

Game one of the Condors back to back series against the Victoria Salmon Kings (goofiest logo ever?) was a bit of a mixed bag. Lots of intensity, plenty of physical play, a dumb penalty which led to a shootout loss. What would game two bring? First, the old farts.

Well, not really old, but the Condors Alumni taking on the West Coast Alumni (aka: California defunct teams). No checking, no backchecking, no forechecking, and barely any saves. Click any small pic to make bigger.

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Yeah, this one is in.

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A great cause, and the fans loved it. The players seemed to have fun, despite the score (14-6?)
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On to the game:

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Your final, Condors win this one 5-2.
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After the game, the Condors had a post game skate with the team.

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Hey, who is that guy?
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Yep, former L.A. King, and trivia question first NHL player born in Japan, Yutaka Fukufuji. So, yeah, I’m going in there.

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Nice jersey I have there, eh? See what it is in the Swag Report.

Bakersfield was great. The Condors fans took me in completely, having me as their guest for the games, hanging out with me at the Hockey-thon, and making me happy I stopped in Bakersfield. After the post-game skate, someone stopped me as I was coming up the stairs to leave the arena. “Are you Tapeleg?” My life is now complete.

Details Surfacing About Arrested Condors Player

More information about why Bakersfield Condors player Daniel LaPointe was arrested are coming to light. This report is from KGET-TV (a sponsor of the Condors):

A Bakersfield Condors player was arrested early Sunday after a fellow player accused him of throwing a rock through his window, striking a woman and her daughter inside.

Condors center Daniel LaPointe, 24, faces two felony charges including willful cruelty to a child and assault with a deadly weapon. Officers also booked him on a charge of resisting arrest.

Officers arrested LaPointe early Sunday after Condors right wing Mike Wirll said LaPointe thew a rock through the window of his apartment at the Springs complex in Southwest Bakersfield. Wirll said the rock struck his female roommate, Bobbi-Joe Jackson, 25, in the head. Shattered glass also hit Jackson’s 1-year-old daughter, Abigail, Wirll told officers.

Frankly, this is not what I thought had happened from the initial report. As bad as this is, it isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. If you aren’t sure what I mean, use your imagination, or turn on network television on a weeknight.

This is a bit strange:

Wirll said LaPointe knocked on his door around 1 a.m. Sunday, but he didn’t want to open the door because he suspected LaPointe was intoxicated, said BPD spokesman Sgt. Greg Terry. Wirll reportedly saw LaPointe throw the rock at the window.

Care to see where the Condors were drinking that night? I can’t say I saw these two specific players, but a bunch of the team was there.

And really, you have to wonder:

Officers went to arrest LaPointe at his apartment in the same complex and found him asleep in bed, Sgt. Terry said. LaPointe resisted arrest and had to be Tazed, officers reported.

It takes all kinds.

Bakersfield Hockey-thon: or How I Learned to Skate Through Pain

One of the happy coincidences of my west coast hockey tour was that the Bakersfield Condors games that I had selected to attend lined up perfectly with the Bakersfield Hockey-thon, a charity event to benefit Links for Love, a breast cancer organization. And even though I am a simply awful hockey player, how could I not participate?

The event was 41 hours of games, held at the Bakersfield Ice Sports Center and the Rabobank Arena (ie: the Condors games, and the Alumni game). There were games from all levels of local teams, and six teams of people like me (well, ones who could play hockey at least) who got pledges from sponsors. One of my sponsors came from the Into the Boards forum, where minor league fans like to hang out online.

Now, let me get this straight: I was clearly the worst player on the ice. I made a few turnovers that led directly to goals against, and I don’t mean that I turned the puck over, and they eventually scored. I mean, I turned the puck over, and they immediately scored. In fact, it happened on my very first shift. I thought, “at least we got that out of the way.” Instead, I got that out of the way two more times. It was a humbling experience. Not that I went in with any illusions of greatness. I knew I was going to be terrible, and had very low expectations. Of my positive accomplishments, I won my first faceoff (which was my first ever faceoff), got a few assists, and made a few good defensive plays (more on that in a moment).

A few photos:

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My team:

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The games were two 25 minute clock running periods (meaning the clock never stopped). Our schedule had us playing most games after midnight. Five games in two days, mostly overnight, takes it’s toll. After the first game Saturday night (game 3) we lost all our Condors Alumni (they had a noon alumni game to play, so I don’t blame them).

Our last game was at 3:15 AM, and our bench wasn’t short, it was barely a line. Only four players from our team showed up, to face a dozen on the other bench. Worse yet, we didn’t have a goalie. We borrowed a few players and a netminder (who had to play the next game as well, poor guy), and we made a go of it. With only seven players, line changes were ridiculous. One or two of us could come off, but that was it. The other team was taking it to us pretty bad. Since there was no icing, sometimes the strategy was to get the puck, fire it down ice, and wait for them to come to us, just so we could catch our breath. I played at least 40 of the 50 minutes of the game. The final score was 10-3. I don’t know how we ever got 3. One goal against us went off my skate and in. But I did make some decent defensive plays every so often. At one point, a slap shot went off my stick and high into the netting. The goalie thanked me for that one, saying he wouldn’t have had it.

Later in the game, I stopped a slap shot with the outside of my leg. Contrary to popular belief, there is no padding on the outside of hockey pants. I heard the other players around me suck wind, and a few say, “That had to hurt.” Only a little, but it left a mark:

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This did not feel nearly as bad as my back, nor my legs. I could barely lift my legs after the final game, and my forearms hurt just from the weight of my hockey gloves. The next day, I could barely roll out of bed, much less go to the Condors game.

And It was all worth it, not only for the charity, but also for the experience. I had a great time, and got to know a few of my teammates. Some really great people. Also, several of the people from the Into the Boards forum were there, and stopped me to talk. So much more than I would have ever expected.

As for me, I wasn’t sure where to put this at first, but here is as good a place as any. This is the jersey I was given for the Hockey-thon:

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It’s actually a good quality jersey. This one is a little different to me. I may have been a terrible player out there, but I showed up for every game. I took a few shots, stopped a few with parts of my body that never did anything mean to deserve that sort of treatment, and gave it everything I had. I didn’t buy this jersey. I earned this jersey.

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Bakersfield Gone Wrong: Player Arrested, Coaches Suspended.

And right after I leave town, look what happens.

In what appears to be two separate incidents, the Bakersfield Condors have suspended their coach and assistant coach for an “internal matter,” and one of their players was arrested.

First, the coaches. From the Bakersfield Californian:

Condors coach Marty Raymond has been suspended for seven days and assistant coach Mark Pederson has been suspended indefinitely over “an internal matter,” team President Matthew Riley confirmed Monday.

The organization has issued a gag order on all employees, including players, and the only comment, other than “no comment,” has come from Riley.

“As an organization, we value our coaches, players and staff, and respect their privacy,” Riley said. “Therefore, no other comments will be provided.”

So basically, no one knows anything. The Condors aren’t talking to anyone, but this is the minors. The fans are right there, and have a close relationship with the team. The GM of the team was sitting about six rows in front of me for both Condors games I attended. I doubt he will be sitting there tonight.

From the same article:

Former Condors Scott Hay and Sean Venedam will serve as interim coaches and run practices for the next week, Riley said. Hay is general manager of the Bakersfield Ice Sports Center and the team’s goalie coach. Venedam is a former team captain whose career ended last February when he suffered a severe break of his left leg.

Hay was on my team for the Hockey-thon, and was a goalie for the Alumni game. I’m sure this is the last thing he needed.

As for the player that was arrested, also from the Bakersfield Californian:

Recently-acquired Condors forward Danny LaPointe was arrested Monday morning and charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanors.

Bakersfield Police Department officers arrested LaPointe at 6:40 a.m. He was charged with felony counts of willful cruelty to child, assault, and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and vandalism.

There is a lot that can be speculated on just from that last sentence. Nothing is really known yet, but I’m sure details will follow soon.

If you want to see a pissed off fan base, wait until this guy retakes the ice. The Condors fans I met take their players into their hearts and communities. The Hockey-thon was set up by a former player, some former players still live in town and contribute to the hockey community. They were participating in the hockey-thon. One story I was told had the coach taking a player to task for brushing off a kid in a grocery store. This is a team that means a lot to the city and the hockey community. You can imagine there is going to be fallout.

This is not how a hockey fanbase is going to want to remember what was (and now it could be firmly in the “was” category) and amazing weekend of hockey and community.

Two Days of the Condors: Game 1

If I were to do this in chronological order, I would be posting a Bakersfield Hockey-thon post first, But that is not how I roll. Well, occasionally, I have been known to roll that way, but not this time. Anyway…

The first game of a back to back two game series between the Bakersfield Condors and the Victoria Salmon Kings was spirited and chippy, but problematic. You will see why in a moment.

First, the Rabobank Arena, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, nor lend itself to easy typing. It’s attached to the Convention Center, which was attached to my hotel. Very convienient, unless you have a convention going on, and certainly if you have a convention involving an interesting set of characters. I won’t get into that, except to say that it made for a strange cross-set of people in the hotel lobby.

The arena:
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With a good sized upper bowl, there is a good capacity for this scale of arena. In fact, I would say that the size of the arena was a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a smaller scale, and maybe even a little rattier conditions. But the place was nice, the services were good, and the concessions were decent.

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The Condors created several specialty jerseys over the last few season, including the prison jerseys worn in a Las Vegas Wranglers game, as well as a country music themed jerseys, and an Olympic jersey. They also have a Ducks stye jersey (in celebration of their affiliation):

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Before you complain about those prices, think about how much the RBK EDGE jerseys cost. These are much nicer. Still, I wouldn’t be caught dead in the prison jersey.

Bakersfield is not a huge city, but there are plenty of people worth honoring. Here is their sports hall of fame:
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On to the game!!

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How many mascots do they need?
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Luxury seating at it’s finest.

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One of my teammates from the Hockey-thon games saw me in the hallway of the arena and invited me to sit with his family. Of course I took him up on his offer.
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That’s Paul Willett on the right, one of my teammates from the Hockey-thon, and Condors all-time leading point scorer. He made the goalie look silly during this intermission shootout. The jerseys they are wearing here were used for the Alumni charity game. You will see those better in a later post.

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More action!

Not the tallest team, these Salmon Kings:
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Wrong Bonk:
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Condors were up 3-2 with a little over two minutes left in the game. When this:
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Led to this:
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Notice the arm in the air? Yeah. This was a textbook bad penalty to take. Hey, any guesses who I saw walking around in the concourse for the next game in his suit? That would be number 10, Matt Pope. You know where this is going. It’s almost fate at this point. It lead to a six on four:
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Which led to this:

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Because, you know, who wanted to win a hockey game anyways?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a hockey game.

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Huh, could have fooled me.

SHOOTOUT!!
Click on any of the pictures to see them larger. I’m doing this for your bandwidth.

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That’s a save, folks.

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More shootout!
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Hey, where are you going with that thing?
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Yeah, not so much. Victoria wins it in the shootout, and the fans, while disappointed, were telling me that this was one of their better games all season. Ouch. They all needed a little rest, since they had one more tomorrow. And so will you. More Condors action soon.

Your final:
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