Robertson Cup Finals: Someone Always Left Behind

Tonight was the final game of the NAHL Robertson Cup, between the host team Texas Tornado, and the St. Louis Bandits.  The weird thing about this particular game was, no matter the outcome, the Bandits were over.  The team is folding, but I don’t have a lot of information beyond that.

I would like to tell you that St. Louis skated off victorious, but – spoiler alert that I’ve already spoiled – they did not.  Texas scored on a weird rebound and broken coverage in overtime, making the local fans ecstatic, and leaving the Bandits empty.

I’ll let the photos tell the tale.  First, the mustaches.

  

Don’t let the Stars player fool you.  He’s still a junior.  Yeah, right.

ACTION!

Again, do they need the body suits?

My favorite part of this is the kid behind the mascot whaling away.  So much carnage. So much fluffy carnage.

Back to the game.

The guy on the ice is number 8, Lucas Whelan.  He blocked a shot in the last seconds of the final period, and had to be helped off the ice.  He couldn’t put any weight on his leg after that.  I was surprised that he came back for overtime.  Yes, hockey players are tough, but this was a brutal block.  I was surprised he didn’t break his ankle.

As I said, the game went to overtime, and the Tornado took advantage of a rebound that didn’t go the way the goalie expected, and some blown coverage.  Here is your game winner.

That was it for the Bandits.  So here is what I would call the agony and ecstasy of a finals.

The winning coaches consoling the losing goalie.

There are no white gloves with this trophy.

Handshakes.

This might surprise you, but in the NAHL, they don’t boo the commissioner like he committed a crime against humanity.

  

Think that’s rough?  How about watching the winning team hoist the cup?

Most of the Bandits left the ice at this point.  Most of them.

To me, this picture just says it all.

The captain of the Tornado came over to talk with that last player, the captain for the Bandits.

And that does it for the NAHL season.

And that does it for me for live hockey games this year.  It was a great time, seeing so many places, and some new teams.  It’s one of the best parts of hockey for me.  Next season, as things in my life change, I probably won’t get to see as many games on the road.  But you never know, maybe something will make that happen.

NAHL Robertson Cup Semifinals Photo Essay

The NAHL Robertson Cup gamse are being held in Frisco, TX, and I happen to be here.  There isn’t a lot to say about the games, mostly because I don’t know the teams or players well.  But I did want to throw some photos up for you to enjoy.

The Robertson Cup format is a bit like the Memorial Cup of the CHL.  6 teams (5 division winners and the host city team) are invited, play a round robin, and the top 4 go to the semifinals.  Those were today.

I will say that the first period of the first game (St. Louis Bandits vs. the Amarillo Bulls) was some of the hardest hitting hockey I have ever seen, while the overtime period of the last game (Texas Tornadoes vs. the Fairbanks Ice Dogs) was some of the sloppiest hockey I have ever seen.  And the Tuesday final game should be a good time.

On to the photos:

This is what they are playing for.  No, it’s’ not as pretty as the Stanley Cup (note some of the dents on the top), but it’s what they have, and it’s what they are playing for.

First up, some of the images from the St. Louis vs Amarillo game.  The players for Amarillo had these blonde mohawks that looked…. douchy.  I have no other way of describing it.

  

I didn’t have a favorite team, but between the mohawks and the fans constantly beating on the glass, I was pulling for St. Louis pretty early.

They used pucks and rings to make the most noise possible.  This guy was double-fisting it.

Scary moment when a big check kept one of the Bulls players on the ice for a while.  He eventually skated to the bench, and played a shift soon after, which drew heckling from the St. Louis bench.

Action.

St. Louis pulled it off, ending the Bulls season.

Lots of sad faces.  Oh well, on to the next game.

I got very few pictures of the second game, as I was talking to a guy who played in the Federal Hockey League.  And you don’t pass up a chance to find out how crazy that is.  But the Tornado pulled off a surprise victory over Fairbanks in overtime.

Sending the Fairbanks, AK fans home sad.

Also, I’m not a fan of this camera.  Back to the other one tomorrow.  And… more tomorrow.

 

Good Timing for a Small Cup Finals

The NHL is starring down the possibility of a Stanley Cup final with some uninspiring names, and people seem to think that the league is sweating bullets over the possible ratings. And I don’t see a reason why.

The NHL already has a broadcast contract with NBC for the next few years. It’s the best deal with the most attention they could get (I haven’t heard a single complaint about hockey not being on ESPN this offseason). Had the league gone with the World Wide Leader, would you have seen as much of the first round as you have? No way.  There isn’t the room for the kind of attention NBC has paid the NHL.

If the league actually were sweating the ratings, I would be concerned. Why worry about things you can’t change? Instead, the best teams playing in the finals is all the league should want. One that’s free of stretchers and controversies, one that showcases talent and speed, and one that writers a new storyline, something that isn’t a repeat of the old ones.

Imagine the other side: the league gets to showcase teams that don’t get as much attention, perhaps helping build a fan base for them. How much of a boost did winning a Cup give to Carolina? Now how much would a Cup win help the Coyotes? Or the Predators? Or the Blues?  The national attention teams like Nashville and even Florida are getting are only going to help make the league healthier.

If I were the league, I wouldn’t worry about the ratings at all, and look forward to whatever comes their way. The timing couldn’t be better.