ND vs Bemidji State Final

Bemidji is victorious, 5-1, and will face Cornell here tomorrow night. The Beavers put on a show as far as skating was concerned, but the Irish were not going to quit. After a shorty by the Beavers, ND finally got one off a defensive breakdown. After they made the scoreboard, they worked hard to get a shorthanded goal of their own. In other words, they kept taking penalties, but also pressed the power play unit hard, creating opportunities. As poor as the PP was for the Beavers, their PK was awesome, and if they could have stayed on the PK the rest of the game, they should have taken it. As it was, an empty net goal for Bemidji sealed it, and the game ended 5-1.

The Beavers face Cornell tomorrow night in Grand Rapids. I will not be able to make it. Back to East Lansing for me. I did get some decent photos, and hopefully some good audio. We’ll see when I get it posted.

Nd vs Bemidji State After 2

Bemidji State leads after two periods, 3-0. SOG favor Notre Dame 22-15, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. The Bemidji goalie has stood on his head at times, making saves that have turned the momentum around after a ND attack. I think ND is in trouble here.

And I want to add, the chicken dance takes on a different shine when a college pep band is playing it.

ND vs Bemidji State

Bemidji leads ND 2-0 after the first period. At first, I thought Bemidji would be the whipping boys, but that hasn’t been the case. ND is being out skated, and the Bemidji defense is solid.

They are showing old Frozen Four games on the video board to entertain us. Maine vs UNH. Guite, Conklin, Krog. Just a few of the names being thrown about. 1999 and UMaine wins it in OT.

What will this game bring?

Northeastern vs. Cornell: Final

Just when I thought the game was going to overtime, Cornell scored on a flukey rush up the middle, with the puck carrier sweeping the puck back to the trailing forward as he fell, and Cornell did not fail, going five hole to take the lead, 3-2. That’s how it ends.

Next game in one hour.

NE vs Cornell: End of 2nd

At the end of the second period it’s Northeastern 2 Cornell 1. It’s a good thing I stopped for food before re game, or I would have missed an amazing finish to the UNH – ND game, which was tied with .3 seconds left in regulation, and won in OT less than a minute into the period. What a game.

The crowd here is a bit disappointing, but I should have expected that, since all Michigan teams are out of the tournament.

There isn’t much time between periods, due to the lack of promotions and stupid audience stunts. The bands are playing throughout, trading riffs back and forth. I haven’t seen this since I attended the Beanpot in 2005.

NCAA Hockey Day in Grand Rapids

I’m spending the day at the NCAA Regionals in Grand Rapids, MI. I should be updating throughout the day. It turns out they don’t let you leave the arena between games, so I am sitting out the first period of the first game for some serious food before I am relegated to arena dogs.

As luck would have it, ESPN is showing that it may not believe in the NHL, but it does believe in hockey.

AHL Quad City Flames May Move On

The Calgary Flames are about to end a tradition in the Quad Cities: Hockey.

The Flames are attempting to end their affiliation with the Quad City Flames in Moline, IL. From the Calgary Herald, dated March 12th:

The Calgary Flames farm team in Quad Cities, Illinois is set to flicker into oblivion at the end of the season.

After months of speculation, the Flames released the Quad City ownership group Thursday from the remaining three years of their minor-league affiliate agreement with the NHL club.

On Thursday, Flames president Ken King confirmed his intention of signing a new 10-year affiliation agreement with a group of investors in Abbotsford, B.C.

So this isn’t a brand new thing, but it is a big blow for a city that has a great facility, passionate hockey fans, and a tradition of hockey since 1995 with the Quad City Mallards. The Mallards were part of the UHL in it’s heyday, before the city adopted the AHL, and the Mallards ended. Looking back, with the UHL turning into a joke league of six teams and barely staying afloat, it may have looked like a good idea at the time.

Also from the Calgary Herald:

Down in Quad Cities, with an average attendance of 2,810, the Flames rank 28th in the 29-team AHL. The local ownership estimates losses this season at US $1.3 million.

I can understand wanting to close shop with those kind of losses. The QC Mallards, in their 2005/06 season averaged 3,542 fans per game, and slipped to 3,120 per game in their final season. These seem like small numbers when we are used to NHL sized attendance, but when taken in the context of a small league with a salary cap counted in thousand per week, those were sustainable numbers. In the 2005/06 season, the Mallards ranked 4th overall in attendance (the top slot was held by the Ft. Wayne Komets, a team with a strong tradition of hockey and a gigantic arena).

The QC Flames were formerly the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, who left after two seasons in Nebraska for similar reasons. You can only imagine the Calgary Flames dropping hockey teams in unsuspecting towns across America, then snatching them back up, leaving the bodies of ice workers, mascots, and marketing people in their wake.

While I can understand the Calgary Flames wanting to move the team closer, and even to hockey mad Canada, the nearest AHL team is the Manitoba Moose, in Winnipeg, which Google Maps places at a 24 hour drive away. The new team will be the western-most team in the AHL by far, adding massive travel expenses.

On that note, from the Vancouver Sun, also dated March 12th:

“We’ve had substantial discussions with Abbotsford We’re in a situation where we’re completely comfortable with the terms of an arrangement “ The move to Abbotsford requires approval of the American Hockey League board of governors, and there could be resistance from teams opposed to the travel.

“I don’t know if I would term it resistance, but I think they’re going to need to be convinced because of the geography,” King said. “They’re going to need to be convinced things like travel subsidies are nailed down.”

The potential Abbotsford ownership group has agreed to pay travel subsidies to help alleviate the cost of cross-country flights for the opposition.

To put the travel in a little more context, here is a screen capture of an AHL map from OurSportsCentral:

screenshot_03.jpg

How’s BC looking now?

If I were an AHL owner, I would be seriously concerned. A new arena, a new location, a city that built an arena without a tenant trying to land a team. I can imagine the local ownership looking to Manitoba, who is averaging 7,512 a game (second in the league), and wringing their hands. Yeah, if I were an AHL owner, I would be doing some serious due diligence.

BTW, the QC Flames were only second to last in league attendance. First would be the Lowell Devils, who bring in an average 2,160, eight hundred less than the QC Flames. If you are wondering who is next on the chopping block, keep an eye trained to Lowell. They have had their issues in the past, even though they are signed in the Tsongas Arena through 2009-10.

So thanks for the memories, QC. Pending approval, you can expect to be hockeyless next season. And you had such high hopes.

DSCN9548.JPG

All numbers were taken from the Pointstreak archive, and www.theahl.com.   

SPHL Cyclones Shutting Down

The SPHL’s Twin City Cyclones (not to be confused with the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones) are shutting down after being left behind in the playoff race. This isn’t exactly shocking, considering the attendance was the worst in the league. The fact they made it to the end of the season may be more shocking.

screenshot_01.jpg

Averaging 1.600 less in attendance is a death sentence in a small league like this. Butts in seats is everything.

The only real question is, how many more of these are we going to see? How many towns are going to lose their teams?

Spokane Chiefs vs. Everett Silvertips: Blowouts Happen

I’m still two posts (for three games) behind on game posts, but I’m going to leapfrog Seattle and Portland for the moment, and put up my pictures from tonight’s Chiefs game.

I have had the distinct non-pleasure of seeing the Everett Silvertips lose three games this trip (and I only saw them three times), and I have to say, these guys are pacing themselves way too much. As in, they don’t even show up to the first period, and don’t find their legs until halfway through the second. It happened every game. And it certainly happened tonight in Spokane.

Let me tell you, Spokane is not a team you want to hold back against. The reigning Memorial Cup Champions (and if you don’t know what that means, do yourself a favor and click the link to find out) are a very tight team, with fast passing and creativity on offense.

Spokane has a nice arena, but it was sparsely populated for tonight’s gig. And that was a huge mistake on the fans part, since the Chiefs scored enough goals to win me some free eats for the thind time on the hockey tour (burgers at Tri City and Portland). And hey, I’m all for free food, but I’m all for a game as well, not a blow out. And the Tips were beaten before they even hit the ice.

Spokane136
You can click any of the smaller pictures for larger versions. I do this to save you some bandwidth.
Spokane135 Spokane133
Action!!!!
This is warmups, but this is roughly what the game looked like.

Spokane130

Spokane120 Spokane077
The Beer Garden. I wasn’t very impressed with the selection, but the view was great.
Spokane073 Spokane119
Spokane070 Spokane072

This can only end in tears.
Spokane075

What rivalry?
Spokane076

OK, how about some game pics?
Some youth hockey players joined the Chiefs for the National Anthem. First, the Austrian National Anthem was played, in honor of the singer. Then, the guy almost nailed the American National Anthem. Still, he was better than the woman in Bakersfield who blew the Canadian Anthem (“Oh, Canada. Sorry.”)
Spokane118 Spokane114

On to the game. This goaltender was so damn fast at getting back up from the butterfly. You see how he does it, one leg at a time, but he would go down and get back up so fast, it was like was simply sliding back and forth. The part I liked least about him was when he barked at his defenseman after the first goal scored against him. At that point , the game was beyond out of reach for the Tips. Stats are one thing, but if you are going to get this kind of goal support, you don’t have to worry about one goal (it was 7-0 Chiefs before they let one in, so come on).
Spokane058 Spokane057
OK, this is a funny sequence. The score was 5-0 Chiefs, and the Coach had enough from his starting goalie. Time to put the backup in. But the play started before the switch could be made. So the backup had to wait for a stoppage.
Spokane067

He’s just waiting there, waiting for a whistle so he can go out there. And what happened next was almost like it was scripted or fate. The Chiefs scored again before the whistle blew, making the game 6-0.
Spokane066 Spokane065

And his teammates don’t even get the door for him. Dude.
Spokane040 Spokane103

This one went in. This is the beautiful backhanded pass up the slot that was blasted in. Just a perfect play if I have ever seen one.

Spokane099
Spokane103-1 Spokane104

Fight!!!
Spokane093 Spokane091

Wait, what the hell? And why is there a bear who works at Subway watching? This is freaking me out. OK, real fight.

Spokane034 Spokane032

Spokane021 Spokane018

Back to the game.

Spokane052 Spokane048
Spokane061 Spokane029

And look, the Chiefs win. Final score, 7-2 (and the Tips were lucky to get two)
Spokane009
I got a chance to meet Wrap Around Curl very briefly, and she was nice.

Gamesheet. Note the three power play goals by the Chiefs, and the overlapping Tips penalties in the third period.

That does it for Spokane. Swag report has to wait, because I am super tired. But I’m not tired of hockey yet. This wraps up the west coast portion of the road trip. Next up is Rapid City on Friday. If anyone knows of a game happening in Billings, MT Thursday night, hit me up in the comments. I don’t care what level. I’m just not ready for this road trip to end.

Tri-City Americans vs. Portland Winterhawks: Old School meets New School

Buildings are important for hockey. The tone of an arena can set the tone for the entire experience of a hockey game, or the tone of an individual game. Some of the NHL arenas follow this code, but too many ignore it, choosing nice amenities over individualism. The American Airlines Center in Dallas gets it right, combining an individual character with modern convenience. But when you go to places like Port Huron, Kalamazoo, Johnstown, Providence, Rockford, Wichita, and Indianapolis, you get a real feel for what hockey is meant to feel like. There should be history and character, and often, that only comes with quirks and age. And you can add the Tri-City’s barn in Kennewick, WA to that list.
Tricity228

This is one of those places that seems like a rink was shoehorned into it, but in reality, it’s got it’s own charm. This is where a community of hockey fans comes together.
Tricity227 Tricity218

Notice how some of the seats extend into the corridor.
Tricity219 Tricity220

Tricity216 Tricity214
Tricity215 Tricity222

My seats were one row from the glass, thanks to my host “Dave Shultz” from the blog “I Mean, We Got Guys…”

Tricity202 Tricity196
I took a ton of photos from the game. I will not subject you to them all here, but know they could pop up at any time. You have been warned.

Words are said.
Tricity189 Tricity185

Tricity172
Open for business.
Tricity162 Tricity156

Tricity147 Tricity144

Tricity142 Tricity133
This guy is in some pain. I believe he came back.

Tricity130 Tricity129
Tricity104 Tricity102

Dude, what are you looking at? Eyes on the prize, buddy.
Tricity093 Tricity087
Your final:
Tricity075
Overall, a much better game than the night before.

After the game, I got to take part in the post game skate:

Here is a jersey I wish I had. Oh well.

Tricity039
These are always a lot more fun after the home team wins.

Tricity046-1 Tricity034
Tricity033 Tricity024
Tricity028 Tricity025

Would I go back to Kennewick for a game? You freaking bet. All hockey games should be experienced in places this fun. It’s what hockey travel was born for.
Tricity059