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? 

CedarRapids010413 134

This turned into a goal.

CedarRapids010413 125

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

CedarRapids010413 127

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. 

CedarRapids010413 128

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. 

CedarRapids010413 136

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.

CedarRapids010413 094

 

Action!

CedarRapids010413 102

CedarRapids010413 108

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

CedarRapids010413 111

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.  

CedarRapids010413 088

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. 

CedarRapids010413 082

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.  

CedarRapids010413 084

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? 

MAdmirals010313 035

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.

MAdmirals010313 068

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.

MAdmirals010313 083   MAdmirals010313 082

MAdmirals010313 087   MAdmirals010313 086

Thinking about face offs deep into the future.  

The Future looks Face-Offy

Intermission antics:

MAdmirals010313 095   MAdmirals010313 096

MAdmirals010313 104   MAdmirals010313 105

OK, enough of that, back to the game. 

 

MAdmirals010313 113   MAdmirals010313 119

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. 

MAdmirals010313 156

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.

Mallards134

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.

Mallards107   Mallards106

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. 

Mallards102

Nice knob. 

Knobby

OK, a little action.  

Mallards147

Mallards151

Mallards138

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. 

Mallards144

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. 

Mallards142

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.  

Mallards154

Swag report – I picked up this puck.  

Mallards159

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

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

Mallards158

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. 

Imminent Road Trip

I’m looking to take a hockey road trip from January 1st to the 7th. Any suggestions? I’m starting in Denver, and probably heading east, but right now, I have no solid plans. I want to go places I haven’t been yet, so Omaha is on the radar. Where do I need to go?

West Coast Hockey Tour in February and March

I have a little time away from work coming up, an available car, and a desire to see some hockey.  That means it’s time for a hockey road trip.

Checking out my schedule, and looking around at what I would want to do, I decided quickly that I wanted to see a bunch of hockey along the west coast of America, a place that only recieves slightly more respect in the hockey world than the Southeast division of the NHL, which only gets slightly more respect than the Mexico national team.

I’m still working out a bunch of the details, but I have my game schedule solidified.  Home team is listed first.

Feb 12:  LA Kings vs Calgary Flames      NHL
Feb 14:  Ontario Reign vs Utah Grizzlies         ECHL
Feb 15:  Anaheim Ducks vs Atlanta Thrashers        NHL
Feb 17:  San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers          NHL
Feb 21:  Bakersfield Condors vs Victoria Salmon Kings        ECHL
Feb 22:  Bakersfield Condors vs Alaska Aces          ECHL
Feb 23:  Fresno Falcons vs Alaska Aces                  ECHL
(team folded)
Feb 24:  Fresno Falcons vs Alaska Aces (optional)               ECHL (team folded)
Feb 25:  Stockton Thunder vs Las Vegas Wranglers             ECHL
Feb 28:  Everett Silvertips vs Vancouver Giants              WHL
Mar 1:  Tri-City Americans vs Portland Winterhawks      WHL
Mar 3:  Portland Winterhawks vs Everett Silvertips         WHL
Mar 6:  Seattle Thunderbirds vs Tri-City Americans       WHL
Mar 7:  Seattle Thunderbirds vs Tri-City Americans       WHL
Mar 11:  Spokane Chiefs vs Everett Silvertips                 WHL
Mar 13: Rapid City Rush vs Tulsa Oilers  (bonus game)       CHL

For those keeping track, that’s 16 14 games, 13 12 home teams, 22 21teams total, in 29 days.  Not a completely packed schedule, but it keeps me busy. Rapid City, SD is thrown in because it is in line with my return to work, plus they are a brand new team with a brand new arena, so it’s worth checking out.

You can find a rough map of the trip here.

For this trip, I plan on taking a lot of pictures, recording some audio, and maybe even posting some hockey history of each team along the way (when I can).

I’ve put up a twitter-like micro blog so I can do short updates, including pictures from my camera phone.  You can find it at:

http://www.jerseysandhockeylove.com/wcht/

And anything worth doing is worth starting a facebook group about, right?  Which you can find:

Here.

If there are any bloggers who want to meet up for beers before or after the games, or at the game itself, drop me a line here.  If anyone has suggestions of hockey related things to do while I’m in some of these towns, let me know, either in the comments, or via the contact form.

I did something like this several years ago, taking a tour through the old UHL (14 teams at the time) plus six teams in the Central Hockey League.  It was a lot of fun, and I got a bunch of pictures, but I didn’t have a blog at the time, or any other place to share the experience.  Hopefully, I will be able to share with you what the hockey world looks like out west.

Even though it’s still two months away, it helps to get a jump on the planning.  If you want to drop by a game I will be at, I’d love to meet you.

Update: The Fresno Falcons have folded, opening up the schedule, but disappointing me.  Not as much as their fans, I’m sure.  Sorry Falcons fans.