With the Great Lakes Hockey League only playing on the weekends and my time in the northern parts of the US coming to an end, I had one more game available to me, the Monroe Blues. There was no way I was going to pass up the chance.
Last time I saw the Monroe Blues was last year in West Bend, and they were shut out 16 – 0. That I would see these two teams meet up again (and that West Bend would be one of the teams in all 3 GLHL games I’ve seen) was pure chance. But what would happen this time.
Monroe, WI has a decisively Swiss bent to it. They are, according to Wikipedia, the Swiss Cheese Capitol of the USA. How much more Swiss could you get? How about this Swiss?
This is where I had dinner before the game. I recommend the 2nd Best Chili (2nd only to Mom’s, as my server said).
But we have a hockey game to get to. Welcome to The Slice.
While I was getting my camera ready in the parking lot, a few cars were pulling in with players taking out their gear. It was mostly West Bend players. They have to get themselves to the arena. Not so for the Monroe Blues. They have a team bus.
Players pay $10 to ride the bus to and from their games. A pretty good deal when you have to head to the upper peninsula of Michigan for games sometimes.
Now, I know what you are thinking, that’s a school bus that’s been painted, big deal. You have to realize that this isn’t the NHL. This isn’t the minors either. The players pay to play in this league, less than what you would pay for a season of rec league hockey, but they still pay to play. They might get different deals depending on the team they play with (skate sharpening, discounted gear, etc). Or they might not. These are players and teams who do it for the love of the game. While the fans pay to see the games, it’s a minuscule amount. Costs like ice time for the games add up quickly, as well as promotion, team jerseys, etc. So a team bus is a real perk.
Let’s head inside.
What struck me right away was how low the ceiling was. There would be no flipping the puck up and out of the zone here.
The Fon du Lac Bears had a pretty substantial beer sales area. The Slice had this.
That’s New Glarus Spotted Cow and Rhinelander Light for $3. I don’t know Rhinelander, but Spotted Cow is a substantial beer. That’s a good beer for $3.
The food options are limited but also good deals. I had a freshly baked cookie for 75 cents. I love that it doubles as a pro shop.
Banners and trophies around the rink.
You know, basic rec rink. This is no frills hockey.
Do not adjust your glasses, Avalanche fans. That is not the newly leaked logo for the Avs. This is the Monroe Avalanche, the high school team. But I like what they’ve done to it.
Alright, let’s hit the ice. Time for some first period action!
And… um… oh… That’s one way to start a game.
More after the jump. Can’t have 800 photos take over the main page of the blog. Hit that link.
Forgive the foreshadowing, but if there was one image I could use to describe this game, this might be it.
It was that kind of game. Things did not go well for the Blues. The home team gave up six goals in the first period.
For instance, this was one of the first. If you zoom in, you might just see the puck going past the goalie’s shoulder.
Here, I’ll show you what I mean.
That’s zoomed in 250%, and taken with an amateur camera, so yes, it’s grainy and noisy. I’m amazed the puck can be seen at all. But that’s a goal.
The GLHL is a full check hockey league. This is your reminder.
You’ve seen how the pros flex their sticks and put their weight into a shot. They are no slouches here either.
I’m pretty sure this is going in five-hole.
At the end of the first, it was 6-0 West Bend. I think we all needed a break.
I’ve never seen this at a hockey game.
This is either for the public skate crowd or things are going to get rowdy. Exciting!
Back for 2nd period action.
West Bend were not letting up at all. This shot hits the corner of the goal, just staying out.
See this guy? When last we saw number 31, he was playing goal. Now he’s playing D.
And here he is playing D, looking rather goalie-like in front of the goalie.
And here he is in the penalty box shortly after that.
This is a goal, just sneaking in five-hole.
Monroe finally gets on the board. This made the score 9-1.
I was happy they did, because I got to see this brought out.
Now that’s a cowbell! The West Bend fans were so impressed with it, one of them came over to say how awesome it was. Normally, I hate cowbells at a game. They are loud and piercing and obnoxious. There’s always someone who behind you who doesn’t know your head is in their ringing zone. This cowbell was amazing.
Yep, just like coach drew it up.
The first goal by Monroe put a little jump in their step. They got another one this period.
I love the look from the defenseman. It just seems so inevitable.
We hit the second intermission, and I believe the score was 9-2. I tried to remind myself with the score sheet, but it is wildly inaccurate. Not that anyone other than me is going to the website to check the stats.
I wound up talking to the backup goalie who came into the game for the 2nd. He was really relaxed, one of those playing-for-the-love-of-the-game type of guys. He quit hockey after high school for a bit, then got back into it and found his love for playing again. That seems like the way it is in the GLHL. They play hockey at a high enough and entertaining level, they check and score, and they have a good time. That translates to the fans having a good time. What more do you need?
Water bottle bouncer.
If you couldn’t tell, the Bombers kept pouring it on. They did not let up, despite being ahead by quite a margin.
In the end, West Bend won 12-4. Less of a drubbing than last time I saw these two teams play, but West Bend was in control most of the game.
This is only the second season for the Blues in Monroe. Before this, they were in Madison, and the team was going to close up as the owners retired. Instead, some local owners took over the team, and many of the players came with it. They are still finding their footing and gaining fans support. Last season, they didn’t have a formal tryout at all. This season they had a small one. They are trying to build something here. I think they will be fine.
It was a fun and entertaining game of hockey. The GLHL has been a blast to travel through. I’d love to see more. If the rest of the league is as fun as the first three teams I’ve seen, I’m in for a treat. If you are nearby a GLHL team, go see what you’re missing.
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