Allen Americans vs. Rapid City Rush: Who’s The Home Team?

When I’m on the road, and I am seeing two teams where I don’t care who wins, I try to pull for the home team. It’s fun to cheer with the fans, and live and die, for one night, with a team you don’t know much about.

But I found it hard to get behind the Allen Americans, and it took me a little but to figure out why. It was the jerseys.

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If you were to take the style of the Phoenix Coyotes jersey, and combine it with the colors of the Red Wings, you have the Allen Americans. Just look at the font for the names and numbers on the backs of the Americans’ jerseys. It’s the leftovers from the Coyotes.

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Yeah, I had a problem rooting for the home team. I wasn’t openly cheering on the Rush, but I did find myself a little more excited by their play.

The Allen Event Center is a nice, new building, but after you get inside, you could be in any new building. There isn’t anything to distinguish it from any other new arena out there.

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I realize there is still some fascination with that Sacco kid that did the speech from Miracle, but this is getting a little ridiculous. He’s doing it for the Allen Americans in their pregame video? This kid has officially jumped the shark. Or jumped on a shark, or a shark jumped on him.

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Look at the players in the background. Yeah, they are really feeling it.

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Moving on, hey, where have I seen this before?

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Oh, yeah, it was the at the Colorado Eagles vs. Laredo Bucks game, where the ref handed out two unsportsmanlike minors for abuse of the official. And look, it’s the same ref, and he handed one out in the first period of this game. A pattern? Maybe. Hey look, the ref does suck:

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Slurp.

OK, on to the game pics. As ever, clicking on a picture makes it bigger, saving you the bandwidth and loading time of pictures you may not be as interested in. You are welcome.

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It almost looks like this guy took a stick in the no-nos.

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Moving on, the defense for the Americans weren’t doing their goaltender any favors. They weren’t clearing pucks when the goalie would make an initial save, and after the second or third whack at the puck, the Rapid City Rush would end up with a goal.

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Even though there were no fights in the game, it got a little rough:

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At the end of the second period, the puck took a strange bounce and got past the Americans goalie, prompting a change in net. It wasn’t his fault, but at that point, something had to be done.

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It didn’t help. Take a look at the upper left side of the net. Yep, that’s the puck, and that puppies in there:

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Everyone is looking to the right of the picture, except the goalie. OK.

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The Rapid City Rush won the game, 6-1. Not much of a shock, considering how the defense was playing. After the game, I hung out with Ben Ellis from Big D Hockey, and talked some Texas hockey with him. You’ll hear that on an episode of The Rink Podcast soon enough.

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I’m all caught up on games, but I still have one more Texas game to go to.

Colorado Eagles vs. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees: Wait For It…

This is a little out of order, and certainly overdue (as is the 2nd Christmas jersey post, which I promise is coming). It’s the Eagles vs Killer Bees.

Welcome to Dodge Arena:

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Dodge Arena is in the middle of nowhere, or at least, the only thing near the arena is the nicest Best Western hotel I have ever stayed in (and I have stayed in my share).

The Eagles came out with a strong start, but the Killer Bees goalie was on fire all night. The second period was all Eagles though, and they ended the period up 2-0. Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last, and the Bees came back to win the game 3-2, scoring the go ahead goal with half the final period left.

On to the pictures. Click on any images for bigger versions.

I love those new Eagles jerseys. I want one, bad.

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The Bees mascot was nice..

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For a moment:

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Back to the game.

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There’s your final. It looks like the Eagles can’t win when I’m around. Next time, maybe.

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Central Hockey League All Star Game

I’m going a little out of order here, but I wanted to post the pictures from the CHL All Star Game from Laredo, TX. It was certainly an interesting game, or at least, the hoopla around the game was interesting (yes, I said hoopla). At the very least, I had a great time. Let’s go to the photos:

click on any photo to make it bigger.

Hey everyone, it’s my good friend, Lord Stanley’s Cup:

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This is kind of a surreal picture, maybe because the background is a little more in focus than I am, or the Cup for that matter.

And for all you Avs fans:

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The way that 2000-01 Avalanche ring looks a little weird, like it was compressed a little in transit? It doesn’t look like the same ring as the one I saw in Cleveland a few years back.
Still, it’s a thing of beauty.
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And I got my picture with another keeper of the Cup.

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This is the second Keeper of the Cup I’ve had my picture taken with, and oddly enough, I was wearing the same jersey.

I am here to tell you, you have not heard the Canadian National Anthem until you have heard a mariachi band do it (OK, yes, you have, but you still have to hear it to believe it). Hopefully, the video I took on my iPhone worked out, and I can share it with you later.

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When you set off fireworks inside a closed arena, you should have a sufficient ventilation system to get rid of the sulfurous smoke that is left behind. I am here to tell you, they do not have such a system at the Laredo Event Center.

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Hey, you know who doesn’t know how to do the Y.M.C.A.? These women.
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OK, on to the game:

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Surreal image of the night:

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Yep, still hazy:
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OK, back to the game:

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One penalty was handed out, to this guy:
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Yep.

The goals picked up in the third period, and it was looking like an All Star Game:

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The South Texas All Stars (made up of players from the Laredo Bucks, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, and Corpus Christi Rayz) beat the CHL All Stars (all the rest of the teams) 9-4. Final SOG was 62-37.

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Team MVPs get win really small HDTVs.
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This guy deserved the CHL team MVP.
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All that was left was the player salutes:

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The Killer Bees salute their fans:

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That does it for the All Star Game. I still owe you pictures from the Colorado Eagles vs. RGV Killer Bees game. Oh, they are coming.

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Colorado Eagles vs. Laredo Bucks: Away Games

I have only a little time before I have to get on the road to Hidalgo, TX for the Colorado Eagles vs the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees game, so this is mostly going to be a photo essay. I’m cooking up something else later.

Click on any photos you want to see bigger.

The sky over Laredo before the game was full of color.

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The arena itself had a little more character than most new buildings, but was still new enough to be modern. It reminded me of where the Grand Rapids Griffins play, or where the Ft. Worth Brahmas played, due to the big wall at one end.

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I really like this picture.
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This was the guy who let in 3 goals on 5 shots and got pulled.
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I have to say, I like these jerseys a lot. They are right in all the ways the new Avs third jersey is wrong. I think I may have to get one.

Action!

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This led to repercussions later. The ref wasn’t taking any crap from anyone. The eagles took a few extra penalties for mouthing off to the ref early in the game. In fact, 7 total penalties, including both the 5 on 3 and a 4 minute stint in the box were directly thanks to players or coaches mouthing off to the ref.

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Hey, those pictures? They almost didn’t let me in with my camera. They said it was a pro camera (it doesn’t have a removable lens, and I told them to bring a supervisor over to discuss the matter, which they then said it was OK). I don’t understand the policy. I get that you don’t want pro photographers bringing tripods and huge lenses into the building, but what harm does a good photograph of a game do? I’m posting my photos online, and you get to see hockey in a new building. It’s promoting the sport, and their team. What is the problem? People with teams, especially in the minors, need to realize that free promotion is their best tool, and the fans are the ones who will provide that.

Can you imagine an arena up north with the Mexican national flag hanging? But here they do Canada the honor of hanging their national flag. Good job, Laredo.

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After each goal scored by the Bucks, the fans would throw plastic corn on the ice, which would stop the game, and have to be cleaned up. It took forever to do, but it was the local tradition. As it was explained to me, it was deer corn. They were feeding the deer. The Bucks?

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Fans!
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Hecklers! Yes, I was heckled at the game. They get the small photo.
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The Eagles tied the game up in the last few seconds (18 to be close to exact), and the game wound up going to the shootout, where the Eagles were fairly awful. In the CHL, like most of the minor leagues, shootouts go five shooters deep, rather than the three in the NHL. I have no idea why the NHL went with three shooters, but they did.

Hey look, the pucks in the back of the net. Go figure.

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Taunting the shooter:

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Weirdest save ever? No, but still…

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You should have seen it in person.

Losers have to skate off past the winners? That sucks.
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That’s your final. The Bucks had a post game skate after the game, but I only had my iPhone with me, so the pictures aren’t as good. Still, I will post them. Just a little later.

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I had a great time at the game, and will talk a little later about what it was like as an away fan, and talking with the fans at the game. For now, it’s on to Laredo.

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Texas Stars vs. Houston Aeros: A Study in Penalty Killing

Tonight’s game between the Texas Stars and the Houston Aeros was more of an interesting affair then the majority of the game seemed. That sounds kind of strange, but it’s actually true. For the vast majority of the game, the Houston Aeros controlled the play, and the Texas Stars, who couldn’t make tape-to-tape passes to save their lives, looked fairly ordinary and disorganized. But for some reason, the Stars pulled out a 3-2 overtime win over the Aeros, who looked better the entire game.

The main interest for me was the different styles of penalty killing each team involved, and their effectiveness. The Stars, who were sloppy on the power play, felt the pressure of an aggressive Aeros penalty kill. That was most apparent from a five minute major penalty the Aeros had to kill off, which resulted in one goal for the Stars, and a lot of time for Texas chasing the puck down the ice. Houston, a more technically sound passing team, was able to keep possession of the puck, but was mostly kept to the outside by the Stars, playing more of a positional kill, and were effective in getting into the shooting lanes. Still, the Stars were 2 for 5 on the power play, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the game.

Wait, isn’t this a travelogue? You aren’t here to hear me spout off about a minor league penalty kill? Hey, I’m down with that. But before we get to the pictures, one more thing.

The Cedar Park Center, located in the middle of nowhere, charges it’s patrons ten dollars for parking. Ten dollars. Add that to your ticket price, because there is no other way to get there, and no alternative parking. It’s a monopoly, and it’s a ridiculous way to gouge fans for the privilege of going to the game. If there were a cheaper but less convenient alternative, I may not mind as much, but when you hold all the cards, and you are overcharging for nothing, it’s a piss poor way to treat your fans and clients. I complained to the customer service desk, and was told that it’s less expensive than other venues, including the Dallas Stars. I’ve been all over the nation, seeing hockey games in as many places as possible, and I can tell you this is absolutely not true. It’s a disgusting scam, and venues that have no alternative should end the practice, or charge a more reasonable amount.

OK, on to the pictures.

This won’t last:

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The arena itself is nice enough, but a little bland. It lacks the character of an older arena, but that seems to be the case with most new arenas. I could have been in Ontario, CA, or Broomfield, CO, or even Gwinnett, GA. If that sounds like a criticism, it’s meant to. What the hell happened to character? Hockey is a sport of character, and old hockey barns have it in droves. New buildings barely have the chance to develop any character, unless it’s manufactured by the designer. These new arenas don’t feel designed so much as sanitized. It’s too bad really, as buildings like the War Memorial in Johnstown, PA (you saw it in Slap Shot, even though it was in “Charlestown” for the movie), the Igloo in Pittsburgh, or whatever the arena in Port Huron, MI is called.

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Warmups:
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Hey, if you are going to overcharge for parking, perhaps your Zamboni shouldn’t be a reminder of that fact.

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OK, game time. You can click on any picture for a larger version.

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Check out the puck just over the goalie’s glove:

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Blood on the ice:

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One of the Aeros took a match penalty for intent to injure. Moving on.

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This took way too long to fix. So long we had to listen to an entire Def Leopard song. Other than that gaff, the Stars had the best alternative music mix I have ever heard at a hockey game. Ever.
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This wasn’t a penalty. The refs put their whistles away for overtime. Like the hockey gods intended.
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This is one of my favorite shots from the game. The puck is between his blocker and his stick.

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This is your overtime game winner, in the back of the net.
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So yeah, the Texas Stars win it in OT, 3-2. With the game winner:

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As “nice” as the arena was, as acceptable as the game was, I had a good time at the game. I’m off tomorrow, but I hope to find some ice to skate on tomorrow.

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