Cedar Rapids Roughriders vs. Tri City Storm: Death to Cowbell

Somewhere in the depths of my storage unit, there is a cowbell.  That cowbell has the logo of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders on it.  It is black, with a white strap on it, bought at the Roughriders store many years ago.  I haven’t seen that cowbell in years. 

When I find that thing, I am going to mangle it into an unrecognizable shape that would not make noise unless you split it’s atoms apart.  It’s parents will weep openly at the destruction of their little baby cowbell.  There will be outcry from activists and anger from the media at what I do to that cowbell.  It will be amazing.

I hadn’t been to a game in Cedar Rapids in a very long time.  I could have – and hindsight tells me should have – gone to a game in Dubuque tonight, but I chose to go back to the City of Five Smells (no kidding, this is what they call it, and the smells are not of the pleasant variety).  It is a mistake my left ear might live to regret.  

If you haven’t guessed, the Roughriders and their fans are obsessed with cowbells.  They ring them at every opportunity.  They ring them whenever the guy singing their country theme song, Ridertown USA (again, I wish I were kidding), says the name of the song. Imagine you are watching a Vancouver Canucks game, and every time Luongo made a save, instead of the annoying “LOOOUUUUUU” the crowd bellows, they ring their cowbells.  Or a pass is completed, or a check of even the slightest intensity was delivered.  Ring ring ring.  

And it’s the guy behind you, ringing it right next to your ear (who finally figured it out after I looked back a few times and started ringing it in slightly-the-other-direction).  And the guy across the aisle.  And hundreds and hundreds of other people.  All the time. 

Then I found out you can get earplugs for free.  Who knew? 

So I guess I’m that guy.

I have talked about this before, but I love the way hockey sounds.  The skates as they dig in for a hockey stop, the way a puck smacks on a stick as a pass is caught, the crashing into the boards.  Take away the sounds and it’s a surreal feeling.  You don’t even feel like you are there.  You feel like there is something going on, but it’s unfamiliar.  You’re floating above the action, a casual observer.  The sounds of hockey are why we tolerate Pierre McGuire or half of the awful Versus/OLN/NBCSC calls we have heard over the years.  We want that sound.  We love that sound.  Tonight, I really missed that sound. 

Also, this guy?  The one in the hat?

CRJerk

Yes, I am not feeling very charitable.  Screw this guy.  He needs to get his prostate checked.  He pees more than a drunk 19 year old girl. Also, don’t stop to go back once someone has stood up to let you by (repeatedly) to see if your buddy needs a beer.  And the dude in front of him with the chops in the jersey?  Yeah, him as well.  Prostate checks, boys.  And about the tenth time you squeeze past someone, say something at least hallway apologetic.  Otherwise, you’re a jerk.  Or maybe you’re a jerk anyways.  Seriously, screw hat guy.  Such a jerk. 

ALSO – can you tell I’m pissed off tonight? – every hockey fan knows you wait for a stoppage in play to take your seat.  And if you don’t know where your seat is, figure it out before going down the stairs.  Two groups of people who can’t figure out their tickets, standing in the way while play is going on, are two to many.  The Roughriders could have done something about this, had they had ushers.  But there don’t seem to be any, which seems insane.  Don’t get me wrong, ushers aren’t the absolute solution, but you wouldn’t have had people figuring out how to count to row 7 if there were ushers.  

Cedar Rapids beat the Tri City Storm 3-2, but I wish they had lost 7-0. I wanted to see these fans suffer, even if only a few deserved it.  I was not in a good mood, and it was the game that turned me sour.  I was tired before the game, and I am ready to head home, but from the start of the game, it was hard to find anything positive about this experience.  

To the photos:

Welcome to The Stable, the most annoying arena known to mankind (OK, I’ll try to give it a rest for a bit).  

The Stable

There are two ice surfaces here, a practice / public rink and the Roughriders rink.  This is the practice rink.

Practice Rink

Go up the stairs, with RR logos…

Sorry it's blurry

Through the doors…

Doors

And you get to the rink.

Rink

Seems kind of dark, doesn’t it?  It’s like that most of the time.  Unless the game is on, the lights are out.  You can mostly see where you are going, if you are by the concession stands, which are on the left side of that photo.  If you are on the penalty box side, you won’t see what you just stepped in.  Considering the name of the place is The Stable, perhaps that is a good thing.

It seems you can’t go to a hockey game without some guy in a body suit.  It was barely cute after the fifth time the guys in Vancouver did it.  Now it’s just stupid.  At least have a gimmick, or show a sense of humor.  Just walking around in a body suit?  Who cares? 

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This turned into a goal.

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The third goal, in fact, which led to a change in goal.

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Which was a good move, because this guy stopped every shot he saw.  

That change in goal led to a fight, which led to a wrestling match. 

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The Roughriders must not be hurting for cash.  They sell pretty well, but they also have sponsorships and advertising everywhere.  It is so ubiquitous, they even have signage on their shovels. 

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How much do you think that costs?  

Let’s say you score a goal, and you are a Roughrider.  The horn sounds, the cowbells ring, and at some point, something like this plays:

This did NOT play tonight. No, they had some longer version before the game.  After the Ridertown USA song had played.  I don’t get it.  I’m sure there is some hockey history at work here, some sort of tradition started with guys wearing horned helmets and uncomfortably revealing shorts that led to whatever this is.  But I’ve been to some of the most shameless minor league arenas (other than the Las Vegas Wranglers) and have NEVER seen anything like that.  Never.  

I need an adult.

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Action!

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Part of why I wanted to go to the RR game?  I have this guy’s jersey.

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I don’t think he was any great shakes, but his photo is on the wall.  As far as I can tell, every former RR’s photo is on the wall.  

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Ladies….

Ladies...

If you aren’t familiar with the juniors, this might look odd to you.  At least one linesman is out on the ice for warmups in the USHL.  I think it’s a good idea, and I wish every league did that.  I believe that is linesman Brent Hooks.  I know you don’t care, I just wanted to say his name, because it is an awesome name for a linesman.  Hooks. 

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Rather than a jumbotron with video, they have two video projectors at either end.  It’s a good way to get around an expensive video scoreboard, but it isn’t the best looking thing.  Also, no replays of goals, for or against.  Explain that one to me.  

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OK, enough of this.  I’m obviously in a mood, and I don’t want to prolong the pain for either of us.  Here’s hoping tomorrow’s game in Lincoln is better.  I mean, it has to be, right?  Riders win it 3-2.  They were up 3-0 going into the third, but decided to make a game of it.  Also, the TC player Moore?  Kind of a punk.  

My only regret was everything.

From the Travel Blog:

Period 1 

Period 2 

Period 3 

Boxscore

Admirals Torpedo Wolves 4-3

There was a part of me that didn’t want to go to tonight’s game.  It was a small part, the part that was a little tired and knew there was a new book on my kindle to read (The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, and I can’t wait to get to it).  Also, the part that was a little bit lonely.  I admit, it does get a little tiresome with no one to talk to on the road, and while I enjoy having my time to myself, driving for hours between cities does take it’s toll.  These games would be a lot more fun to share with people. 

So I share them with you here.  And when I look at the stats of the travel blog, I don’t see hits or traffic, I see people who come along for the ride.  I see hockey fans I get to share the games with, and the places I get to see that they aren’t able to (yet, I hope).  So if you are one of the people who go to the travel blog while I’m on this journey, thanks.  You make a difference in my enjoyment of this trip.

I didn’t want to go to the game, but I’m glad I did.  It wasn’t the most amazing game.  There wasn’t a lot of aggression, and it was one of the cleaner games I’ve seen in a while.  What it had was a serious tone.  You could sense it immediately in warmups.  Perhaps it was my perspective from only seeing CHL hockey live this year, rather than the NHL.  Perhaps the difference in play from the CHL to the AHL is really that stark, or maybe it’s that there are enough fourth line NHLers in the A right now that it makes that big a difference.  But the tone was completely different.  It had a professionalism I haven’t seen in a while.  

First things first: the arena.  The Admirals play in an NBA arena.  It was built for an NBA team, and it feels like it.  Arena

When you sit in the seats, you sink an inch or two lower than you think you should.  It reminds me of sitting down at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of the Islanders.  You wonder when you are going to stop.  For some reason, this screams of “basketball first” design.  The boards in hockey are closer than the floor of a basketball court.  You could see everything a basketball game had to offer, but for hockey, you will be looking past the heads of the patrons in front of you.  

Jay Vean of the Avs Hockey Podcast made the comment on the travel blog that there were “Plenty of good seats still available.”  And he is right, but that’s just how it goes.  You aren’t going to fill up the home of the Milwaukee Bucks when the Admirals take the ice.  No minor league team would, unless it was the finals, and even then, good luck.  Sellouts are a rare enough thing in minor league hockey.  This smacks of impossibility.  

That is a big scoreboard. I wonder how players who call smaller and less fortified places like Rockford or Peoria home feel when they come to a place like Milwaukee, which plays in a major league arena.  Is it intimidating?  Does jealousy set in?

Scoreboard

This is a special seating area.  Other than that, I have no idea what it means.  Anyone? 

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Refs pre-game post-huddle. 

Refs

Action!  And let’s go to our first goal.  Look at the left of the net, that’s the puck in there.

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No doubt about it, that’s a goal. 

GOOOOAAALLLLL!!!!!!

The fans tell the Wolves goalie that he sucks.  It’s not entirely true, but there were times they had a point. 

Hey, you suck!

Random action photos.  Click to embiggen.

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Thinking about face offs deep into the future.  

The Future looks Face-Offy

Intermission antics:

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OK, enough of that, back to the game. 

 

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This is the game winning goal, with 1:33 left in the game.  A shot on goal is stopped by the goalie’s stick, but it hops up in the air a bit.  See it in front of his blocker?

Hop

Bounce

And the Admirals crash the net. Chaos ensues. 

Chaos Ensuing.

And number 51 who you see right there swats the puck in.

GOOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!!

And there was much rejoicing. 

That's a lot of rejoicing.

The Wolves did what they could, but to no avail. 

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And that’s the game.  Admirals win 4-3.  

Updates from the travel blog:

Period 1 (somehow didn’t upload)

Period 2

Period 3

Boxscore from the AHL website

With that, I’m off to bed.  I’m exhausted, and I’m going to try to make it to stick and puck time tomorrow before heading to Cedar Rapids.  See you on the road.

 

    

Flocked Up: Quad City Mallards vs. Wichita Thunder

As you can probably tell, things did not go well for the boys from QC tonight.  

Other possible titles for this post: 

Mallards Mallase
Molting Mallards
Bird of a Feather Lose Together
What The Hell Was That?

I kid, but really, what was that?  The Mallards had a rough go of it tonight, in a game that could have gone their way.  Had they played the entire game like they played the first few minutes of the first two periods, they would have dominated.  But a few bounces, a few strange plays, and a glove hand that just wasn’t enough at times, and this game was out of hand quickly.  The Thunder take it 5-1.  

I am usually not one to dog on the refs, but there was an obvious point in this game where things could quickly get out of hand.  While looking right at the play, the ref didn’t call a boarding call that shouldn’t have gone gotten by him.  I thought things were going to turn into a circus, but that thankfully didn’t happen.  I can’t credit the officiating crew for keeping things calm, but I will say they could have done a much better job.

To the photos.  Hey, who’s that? Why, it’s my old pal Aaron Boogaard.  I seem to see him everywhere.  In fact, he scored his first goal of the season tonight.  I would like to think that I’m his good luck charm, but if I told him that, he would probably beat me up.  Better just keep that to myself.

 

Boogard1

The Mallards have a giant inflatable duck head wearing a helmet that vomits players onto the ice. That is the only way I can describe it.

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The I Wireless Arena (formerly known by it’s better name, the MARK) is a nice place, big and comfortable.  Too big, it turns out, so they black out some of the seats with curtains.  You might be familiar with the Florida Panthers doing the same thing.  Also the Hartford Wolfpack Connecticut Whale.  Giant pillowy curtains really make for an intimate setting. Or something.

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Did I mention spacious and comfortable?  Yeah, this is the polar opposite of the Des Moines Buccaneers arena, as you can see here, and here. 

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Nice knob. 

Knobby

OK, a little action.  

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I have to admit, I didn’t get a lot of photos from this game.  The glass put some warp into the images, and I got kind of fed up with it.  In fact, it’s some of the tallest glass I’ve ever seen on the sides of a rink.  Tall and crappy.  Kind of like (insert player from your hated rival here).  Yeah, good one. 

Here is the chuck-a-puck aftermath.  And while six of those are mine, on’y one of mine won a free sub. That’s right, I’m a winner.  Mad skills. 

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I kind of like this one.  It’s like artistic chuck-a-puck photography.  I don’t think I should start of business around it, though.  Niche audience for sure. 

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A half salute for a half effort.  Actually, that isn’t fair. The Mallards put effort into it tonight.  They just didn’t hold on to any momentum they earned early in the periods.  

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Swag report – I picked up this puck.  

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How do you like that key card for my room? ‘Merica.

And then I got the mascot to hold it for a photo. 

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Rocking.  

Recaps from the travel blog:

Period 1
Period 2
Period 3

Boxscore

 You can follow along on the travel blog.  Lots of smaller posts, with some real gems along the way. 

On The Road

If you didn’t know, I’m on a hockey road trip right now. Headed to Moline, IL for a Quad City Mallards game tonight.

I’m updating quite a bit at the travel microblog, jerseysandhockeylove.com/travel. Cool photos of the arena in Des Moines today.

Odessa Jackalopes vs Corpus Christi Rays: End to End Inaction

I’ve been meandering my way down to New Orleans, through Las Vegas, NM (where they shot the city scenes in Red Dawn) and Roswell, NM.  Saturday night will see me in Ft. Worth, TX for a game between the Texas Brahmas and the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the Central Hockey League.

On my way down, I got the nice surprise of a game on one of my bucket list teams, the Odessa Jackalopes.  Yes, you heard me.  Bucket list.  Mind you, there are still a lot of teams on my bucket list, but this was one I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see.  Odessa was on shaky ground before when they were part of the CHL, and along with several other team left the C for the financially friendlier confines of the NAHL.  I would consider the N a step down from the C in that the CHL is a minor league while the NAHL is a junior league.  Most of the kids in this league are playing for college scholarships or to be drafted.  Many will not.  The talent level in the CHL is well below the NHL, but in the NAHL, it’s still mired in development.

Still, Texas was, for a long time, the state with the most professional teams in the US.  These days, it’s lost many of those teams to financial issues, some moving like the Jackalopes, and some shutting their doors completely (such as Lubbock).  As the fortunes of the Dallas Stars have faded into the eventual bankruptcy and sale of the team, the rest of hockey in Texas seems to have followed suit. The junior ranks seem to be the right fit for some of these cities, at the least saving hockey from leaving completely in many of them (and wait to see how many more CHL teams leave next season).

So with that, let’s hit the road.  First, the drive:

This is the World Arena in Colorado Springs, CO.  It’s next door to the offices for USA Hockey.

Don’t get the people of Las Vegas, NM wrong.  They don’t tolerate drinking and driving.  They do make it rather convenient, though.

This is not racist.

On my way in to Las Vegas, NM (which is not as exciting as the other Las Vegas), I did see a bright streak across the sky.  I did not see any aliens.  At least, not until I got to Roswell, NM.

It’s telling that the name of a mini-mall is The Landings at Roswell.  Also, the most popular restaurant might be the local IHOP.  And I saw a guy clipping his nails at a Starbucks under his table.  Stay classy.

I did learn one travel tip:  if one of the touted features of a hotel is it’s indoor pool, or has an indoor water park, something else will suffer, and it’s usually the service.  If you don’t have a surly front desk attendant, consider it a lottery win.

On the road from Roswell to Odessa, I passed though the saddest town I have ever seen.  And yes, I have been to Cleveland and Detroit.  This was worse.  I will spare you the poor photos I took, since they don’t really do justice to the sorry state of the place.  If you have a batch of plywood to board up windows, you might make a small fortune in Tatum, NM.  But it did have one bright spot:

Moving on…

Oh…. OK….

But they also put ketchup on a chili burger.  And that ain’t right.

I finally made it to Odessa, and was greeted with a rather… large… sight.

To call a venue a barn is somewhat of a complement.  It implies a certain amount of character.  This place is a shed. 

Whoa.  There are times I go to a venue for the first time and I worry about the sight lines.  I don’t know what I’m getting when I buy a ticket.  This place has plenty of unobstructed seating.  Plenty.  I’ve been in bigger places, but they rarely feel this cavernous.

This is the penalty box.  We will get to the penalties in a moment:

The hallways of the Ector County Coliseum, which would not handle a capacity crowd:

There were plenty of framed jerseys sprinkled around the halls as well.  Here are a few, including a WPHL All Star jersey:

A few action photos:

One of the Corpus Christi players was hit in the side while prone on the ice, and was in considerable pain.  It turns out the Rays don’t bring a trainer on the road with them, so the Jackalopes trainer has to attend to both team’s injuries.  The juniors are a different world from the NHL.

I said we would talk about the penalties.  3:27 into the third period, the ref called an interference penalty on the Jackalopes, and sent Tyler Minx to the box.  The problem was, Minx didn’t commit the penalty, Ryan Doucet did.  Minx argued the point until he got an unsportsmanlike penalty as well.  So this would be four minutes of 5 on 4 play, right?  No, the ref finally realized the mistake he had initially made and send Doucet to the box for the interference.  Now we have two penalties at the same time on two separate players, which meant that it was now two minutes of 5 on 3 play.  Of course, were it not for the initial mistake made by the ref, there wouldn’t have been any unsportsmanlike penalty, as there would have been nothing to get ‘unsportsmanlike’ about.  Still, the penalties were handed out, and as you would expect, the Rays scored… the game winning goal.  Of course.

Minx certainly earned the unsportsmanlike penalty, and should have either shut up and gone to the box, or calmly made his case to the ref.  Instead, he let his mouth get him in trouble and cost his team.  I don’t blame him for being upset.  He’s a defenseman who would probably been on the penalty kill, and he had scored both goals the Jackalopes wound up with for the game.  Instead, he was sitting.  Unjustly.  Oh, the humanity.

Dirty Little Minx

What didn’t help was that shortly after, a Jackalope player kicked the puck  into the net and the ref immediately waived the goal off.  It was a good call, but after what had happened earlier, the Jacks fans were none too pleased with the ref.  And they let him know.  They even waived money at him, saying he was bought off.

Moving on, is this the creepiest looking mascot you’ve ever seen?  If not, it might be up there.

Sleep tight. Hopefully you won’t dream of this thing chasing you down on an ATV:

Words are said:

At least they care about the environment:

At Laredo Bucks games, they throw ears of corn on the ice.  At Texas Brahmas games, they throw purple Brahmas, the team mascot.  In Odessa, they throw… carrots.

Holy cow, that’s a lot of photos.  Enough already.  The Rays win it 3-2.

Boxscore

Tomorrow, on the Fort Worth to see a game with James O’Brien.  You know there will be more posting.  Oh yes, there will be more.

Sioux Falls Stampede vs. Omaha Lancers: On the Road Again

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a game on the road and done a post game… post.  So bear with me here, as I’m a little rusty.

I’m in the middle of a drive from Denver to Minneapolis, where I will be spending the next 6 weeks, and of course, I had to look for hockey along the way. The only game I could find was in Sioux Falls, SD, between the Sioux Falls Stampede and the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.

You would be forgiven for not knowing about the USHL, but if you’ve ever watched the NHL Draft, you have heard it mentioned.  Along with the NAHL, the USHL is an American junior development league.  Most of the players are looking for college scholarships or to be drafted.  It’s the American equivalent to the CHL Canadian junior league, only smaller and less prestigious.  Apparently,  it’s more authentic to ride a bus around the prairies of Canada in the freezing cold than it is to do the same in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska.  And probably a little more challenging.   The US National Team Development Program plays in the USHL, so they have that going for them.

But we aren’t here to talk about practice, we’re here to talk about a game.

The arena is housed in the Sioux Falls Convention Center, and while the outside looks new, the inside looks anything but.  First, the outside. which is attached to the Sheraton hotel.

Once you get inside, that’s when things look a little different.

Whoa. That’s a barn.  Or a shed.  Or a… thing.  It’s hard to describe, but it has similar properties to the rink in Port Huron.  Mostly in the quality of seats, and that the “upper” sections are truly upper.  They are well above the ice.

That seating is about eight to ten feet above the ice.  And it wouldn’t be that bad if the slope of the seats were at a severe enough angle to be able to see the action on the near boards.  But it isn’t, so you are constantly wondering what is going on when the play comes too close.  I recommend that if you go to Sioux Falls, you sit higher up where you seem to gain an advantage, or in the pricey seats along the boards.  And I don’t normally recommend sitting along the boards. See what I mean?

Check out those Omaha Lancers jerseys.  It’s like some weird hybrid of a Montreal Canadiens jersey and a Flyers jersey.  How cool would that look in the right orange with a Flyers logo?

OK, on to the game:

Referee Kevin Curtis (the ref with two first names) was not well liked by the home crowd.  He made one bad penalty call, and one tough goal call that was, in my opinion, the right call.  The crowd disagreed, as the net came off it’s moorings, but as a Stampede player kicked the puck into his own goal, the goal was counted.  The net wasn’t off enough to make a difference, so the right call was made.  For a minor league ref, especially one without the benefit of a ‘War Room’ in Toronto, that is a pretty good night.

Action!

 

 

 

 

This is something you don’t see in the NHL, but you often see in junior and college hockey.  When a goal is scored, the team congratulates the goalie as well.

Stampede Head Coach Kevin Hartzell did not look pleased the entire game.  He was yelling at his players and trying to direct and motivate them, but looked like a coach with a losing record.  Probably because he does have a losing record this season.

Your final, Lancers 3 Stampede 2.

It’s unfortunate that a controversial goal was the difference maker in the game, but I think the right call was made.  In the end, that’s all you can ask for.  And a little entertainment.  And I was certainly entertained.

It’s good to be back on the road and seeing hockey outside the world of the NHL.  I love it out here, and hope to see more games around the nation before the season is over.  In fact, I have some other things coming up that I will update you on in the next few days.

 

US Hockey Hall of Fame Part One

Eveleth, MN isn’t on the radar for most hockey fans, or the hot vacation spot that online travel websites will be pushing deals for. Eveleth is up there, 3 hours north of Minneapolis. It’s not on the way to anywhere, unless you want to see where Christian hockey sticks were made (Warroad), or are into mining (a big industry around the Eveleth area)

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I’m not trying to slight Eveleth (but I probably am, so I’m sorry to the residents), as I didn’t get a chance to explore the town much. But I was there for one reason, and one reason only. To visit the USA Hockey Hall of Fame.

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(click any photos for a bigger version, and if you want to use any of them, go for it, just give me credit, please)

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The hall was founded in 1973, and fell on some seriously hard times, to the point that a few years ago, they were thinking about shutting down. There has also been movements to move the hall to a more populated area. The hall remains in Eveleth, though, even though it could use a few more visitors through it’s doors. Right now, the hall is trying to fix the air conditioner it has limped along with since the building was built.

The hall was actually closed for the day (call ahead for the hours, since the winter and summer hours are quite different), but a phone call to the hall was enough for the nice people who run the place to open it’s doors for me.

When you walk into the hall, it doesn’t look like much. A lobby with a few hockey jerseys in it, a small gift shop, nothing much. But it opens up when you take the stairs to the first main floor.

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First, those jerseys in the main lobby. One was the jersey Bobby Ryan wore when he scored the fastest hat trick in NHL history (3 goals in 2:21). The other was a Mike Modono jersey, on display with articles about him being the highest scoring US born player.

On to the hall. Meet Zamboni #4.

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I’ve been around the first Zamboni before, and this one was just as cool. Built on the frame of an old Willy’s jeep, this one dates back to the early 1950s.

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Beats the hell out of the old way of resurfacing the ice:

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The hall had just finished putting up their Herb Brooks exhibit, and it was full of amazing memorabilia from his legendary career, and from the 1980 gold medal winning hockey team:

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These are coats from the 1980 Olympics (I believe they were both worn by Brooks):

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Photos of the team at the White House:

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To save bandwidth for some of you, this all continues after the jump.

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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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