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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Player Tries to Drop Gloves with Ref

This is one of the reasons I hate all the ire that gets thrown at hockey officials.  Sure, it’s all fun and games, until people start acting like maniacs, then it’s the refs job to clean things up.

At an All American Hockey League game (yeah, I had never heard of them either) between the Chi-Town Shooters and the Evansville Icemen, a line brawl turned bizarre when a player tried to fight a linesman. From HockeyRefs.com:

At the end of the second period, Chi-Town defensemen Clay Lewis received a match penalty for slashing, a match penality for spearing and a game misconduct for Category I Abuse of an Official for an on-ice incident where Lewis threw off his gloves specifically to fight a linesmen.

Reports from the game indicate that Lewis pulled the linesmen’s jersey over his helmet, and threw off his helmet before an IceMen player intervened.

In an unusual move, the team posted the video of the incident on YouTube.

And the video tells the story:

And don’t give me the “refs lost control of the game” line.  How do you control that sort of thing?  How do you control people that plain out and out want to brawl, fight, and push you around?

Refs have the hardest jobs on the ice. I don’t care how many times they blew a call against your team, they aren’t there to hose one more than another, they aren’t there to make things right for the fans.  They are some of the biggest hockey fans out there, and they take more abuse from people who have zero understanding of their jobs. I doubt this ref woke up thinking he was going to have to defend himself in a fight at work.

Alaska Aces Practice Day 2 Photos

Here are photos from day two of the Aces. As ever, click any photo to make the image larger.

A lot more players on the ice today.

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This one isn’t framed very well, but it has it’s upside, which is the puck in mid air.

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You know something’s going to happen in a moment:

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More photos after the break:
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Photos from Alaska Aces Practice Day 1

It’s been a solid 24 hours of hockey, from last night’s opening of the NHL season, to early morning hockey from Europe. And on top of that, I got to go to the first day of Alaska Aces training camp. And I took a ton of photos. Click any image to see them larger.

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He’s not dead, he’s resting:

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These guys did not have stitched on nameplates. I would best describe them as locker room plates velcroed on.

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Coach Brent Thompson hands out the drills:

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More after the jump.
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Post Game Skate

Lucky me, the Riverkings are having a post game skate.

Unlucky for me, the Eagles lost 6-2. Plenty of photos to share later.

Mississippi Riverkings Tonight!

I drove my ass off today to get to the upper part of Mississippi for the Mississippi Riverkings vs. Colorado Eagles playoff game tonight. More to come.

K-Wings Tonight

These are the only Wings I can get behind. Kalamazoo takes on Ft. Wayne in IHL playoff action.

My seat is right in from of the off-ice officials, so we will see how well they (or I) do.

Bootland seems to be a popular jersey, and I seem to remember him from the last time I was here. He may be the coach.

Note that the opposin bench is where the penalty boxes normally are, and the penalty boxes bookend the home bench. Welcome to the minors.

Hockey Where You Live: Playoffs

The playoffs are here (well, mostly), and that means there are fans left without their favorite teams to cheer on.

Fear not. You want play off action, you get playoff action. Welcome to the state by state guide to the playoffs.

* Alabama

Sorry, buy you are a little too late on this one. The Huntsville Havoc lost their playoff series 3 games to two.

* Alaska

The Alaska Aces are 2-0 against the Grizzlies in the ECHL.

Two of the three Alaska NAHL were eliminated, but the Fairbanks Ice Dogs won theirs series 3-0, with 16 goals for, and 4 against.

* Arizona

Nothing going in Arizona, with the two Central Hockey League teams failing to make the playoffs, the Coyotes nowhere near a slot, and the folding of the Phoenix Raodrunners of the ECHL. Phoenix was the only team in the Western Conference of the ECHL not to make the playoffs.

* Arkansas

Nope. Nothing doing.

* California

Ah, California, rich with playoff hockey. Beyond the Ducks and Sharks, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a game, unless you are in Fresno. But if you happen to be in Bakersfield, Stockton, or Ontario (the one next to Los Angeles, not the one in Canada), then you are in luck. Hurry though, because much like a Sopranos marathon, they are knocking each other off quickly.

* Colorado

Sure, the Avalanche stunk. But why mourn the end of a terrible season when one of the most exciting hockey teams around resides less then 45 miles from Denver? Look north to Windsor (outside of Ft. Collins, home of the New Belgium Brewery (totally wind powered)) to the Colorado Eagles, who have shattered the CHL sellout record, have won the championship twice since their inception in 2003. This year, the All Star Game was held in Windsor, with the CHL taking on the Eagles. The Eagles won 8-4. What else needs to be said. They swept their first round, and are about to start their second round. Get your tickets now.

* Connecticut

Come on, you have the Wolfpack. You always have the Wolfpack. Hartford takes on Worcester.

* Delaware

Nope. Go next door. Any next door.

* District of Columbia

Do you need anything other than the Capitals? See the Virginias for some help, but you should feel lucky to have what you have.

* Florida

How lucky are you, Florida? You may have lost the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers to the great stats monster in the sky, but you still have the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. Get yourself to the city of Estero if you can get past their name.

* Georgia

Thrashers: done. Columbus Cottonmouths: lost in first round. Augusta Lynx: Folded mid-season. Gwinnett Gladiators: STILL IN IT TO WIN IT!!! Get your ECHL action at one of the nicest minor league arenas out there.

* Hawaii

Sorry. No.

* Idaho

Former ECHL Kelly Cup champs, the Idaho Steelheads are in the middle of the first round.

* Illinois

Oh, the possibilities in Illinois. First, of course, are the Chicago Blackhawks. Then you have the AHL Rockford Icehogs and the Peoria Rivermen. And… that does it. The other teams in Illinois missed out on the playoffs. Sorry.

* Indiana

Two chances for glory in Indiana. The Indiana Ice of the USHL are in their first round, while the Fort Wayne Komets came away with the best record in the IHL. Both teams have to be experienced live. Well worth the drive.

* Iowa

Even though the Chops didn’t qualify, there is still playoff hockey in Iowa. Waterloo and Cedar Rapids are in the first round, and I rarely bet against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. USHL in Iowa lives on.

* Kansas

Believe it or not, the Topeka Roadrunners are still alive.

* Kentucky

Nothing doing.

* Louisiana

Where were you a week ago? The Mudbugs got shutout of the first round in the CHL.

* Maine

The Portland Pirates start their first round shortly. That is all.

* Maryland

Is there hockey in Maryland? Pro hockey?

* Massachusetts

Bruins. Oh, you want more? How about the AHL Worcester Sharks? OK, then.

* Michigan

Three out of four Michigan teams of the IHL made the playoffs (Kalamazoo, Port Huron, and Muskegon), as well as the Grand Rapids Griffins( AHL) and the USA National Team Development Program team (NAHL). A few OHL teams made the playoffs, but they are done.

And Pinball Pete’s skates in their final tonight. East Lansing Suburban Ice. Be there.

* Minnesota

You would think, eh?

* Mississippi

The Mississippi River Kings go to the semifinals against the Colorado Eagles. Yeah, good luck with that.

* Missouri

You have the Blues. You should feel lucky.

* Montana

Nope.

* Nebraska

The Lincoln Stars are still in the hunt. Go for the most intimidating opening ceremony ever.

* Nevada

Las Vegas Wranglers. Crazy promos, arenas in casinos, what more do you need? If you need more, it’s right on the strip.

* New Hampshire

The Monarchs did not make it, so NH is done.

* New Jersey

Devils, and after that, you have the Devils (of Trenton). New Jersey has a new state motto. “Devils.”

* New Mexico

No one qualified. And the state will be lucky to have the Scorpions next season.

* New York

Aside from the Rangers, only the Elmira Jackals made the playoffs. With the large number of teams in the state of New York, that is a little pathetic.

* North Carolina

The hottest team in the NHL is also playing alongside the Fayetteville FireAntz of the SPHL, who are in the finals.

Update: I left out the Charlotte Checkers, who are still in the first round of the ECHL playoffs. Sorry about that. (thanks to Possum for the reminder)

* North Dakota

The Bismark Bobcats are still in it, NAHL action, and the Fargo Force are still playing the first round of the USHL. Wood chippers are not allowed in the arena.

* Ohio

If the Blue Jackets making it for the first time aren’t enough for you (or even if it is), the Cincinnati Cyclones (a Jerseys and Hockey Love favorite) are in the playoffs, coming off last year’s championship win. And the Mahoning Valley Phantoms won their first round of NAHL playoff action and move on.

* Oklahoma

The OKC Blazers were eliminated, and the Tulsa Oilers never made the playoffs. That is all for OK.

* Oregon

The Portland Winterhawks never had a shot.

* Pennsylvania

A wealth of playoff hockey, no matter where you are in the state. Aside from both NHL teams, you have the WB/S Penguins, the Philadelphia Phantoms, and the Hershey Bears of the AHL. If only the Johnstown Chiefs had made it. Sigh.

* Rhode Island

The Providence Bruins are gearing up for the first round. Get the to the Dunkin Donuts Center.

* South Carolina

The South Carolina Stingrays want you to think hockey when you travel to their state.

* South Dakota

The Sioux Falls Stampede push in the first round of the USHL playoffs.

* Tennessee

Sure, the Predators tanked in the last few games. But the Knoxville Ice Bears are fighting for their cup in the SPHL finals. If you think the Preds need your money, you can imagine what the Ice Bears need. Get thee to the rink.

* Texas

Stars? Who are they? You can forget about the Stars when you have the Texas Brahmas taking on the Odessa Jackalopes in the CHL semifinals. Plus, the Houston Aeros of the AHL start their series soon.

* Utah

The Utah Grizzlies are fighting for their lives in the ECHL.

* Vermont

Nope.

* Virginia

There are the Washington Capitals, but you knew that.

* Washington

The Spokane Chiefs, last season’s Memorial Cup winner, is the only team in Washington with a hope in the WHL.

* West Virginia

The Wheeling Nailers are still playing. ECHL action next to the river.

* Wisconsin

The Milwaukee Admirals are about to start. Go see the worst jersey in the AHL.

* Wyoming

Please. No.

That takes care of that. I’m sure I missed some stuff, and this will change almost as soon as I post it, but there you go. Plenty of playoff action, and teams that will appreciate your dollars and attendance far more than an NHL team.

If I missed anything significant, please let me know in the comments.

HOCKEY!!!

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