Keystone Ice Miners vs. Michigan Warriors: What Just Happened?

Sometimes a team just has to get out-of-town, and that team often seems to come from Port Huron, MI.  When saw my first game in Port Huron, they were the Flags of the UHL.  They were the Beacons, until the team moved to Roanoke, VA for one season before folding (There was also a Port Huron Flags of the IHL in the 60s and 70s).  There was the Port Huron Ice Hawks of the short-lived NEW IHL, which was what the UHL rebranded itself as to stay alive.  That didn’t work and the Ice Hawks folded.  There was also the Port Huron Fighting Falcons of the NAHL, which is where we pick up the story.

This season, the Fighting Falcons moved to Connellsville, PA.  They are now known as the Keystone Ice Miners, the team name being the same as the youth hockey organization that resides at their rink, The Ice Mine.  That rink… well, you should see for yourself.

Ice Mine Exterior

That doesn’t look bad, right? That doesn’t look like a rec league rink, right?

Then you step into the lobby, and the first thing you think is, this is a rec league rink.

Oh no, where am I?  Do I have to rent skates for these guys?

When you walk in the front doors, to your left is the rink entrance.  Everything else looks normal for a rec rink.  Concessions, video games, skate rental.  But there’s this little dark corner to the right, directly behind where I was standing when I took this picture.  It looks spooky, like this is where you enter the surprise House of Terror that doesn’t happen to be marked with a sign and no one talks about or acknowledges exists.  Or a storage area that everyone knows to stay away from except for Bobby Jenkins, the kid down the street, who wandered in there one day and has never been the same since.  To this day, the only words he says are “cattle” and “orange-fish.”

What horrors lie beyond the corirdor of doom? Let's find out!

So you know I’m going down there.

Oh, that's it?  Well, that was anti-climatcic.

Yep, a full-scale roller skating rink.  None of this says much for what I should expect on the other half of the building.  Hockey lies beyond, though, so I must see what it has in store.

Let’s go in, shall we?  First we must get our hand stamped by a rather creepy security guard, and go through what it looks like to enter an actual ice mine.

Lights!

Can someone turn on the lights?  Oh, they are on?  Oh.  Well, can I get a flash light?

What I am about to show you might scare you, especially if you only watch NHL hockey and NHL rinks.  Those with weak hearts should keep reading.  It will do you some good.  You have been warned.

Yes, Virginia, they do play hockey here.

Oh. My.

I think it’s important to point out that this is a general admission game, which is good since there are no seats.  There are benches, and some of them had cards taped to them, reserving them for season ticket holders.

You must be in the back row. Lucky you. No, really.

There is also no installed sound system, so on the penalty box side of the rink, they have four plastic, self-amplified speakers set up.

LOUDER!!!

And the only way for them to be heard across the ice was to make them REALLY LOUD!!! No one sat in front of them.  The national anthem was heard in the next county.

After the jump, the thing that made me laugh the most at a hockey game ever.

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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.