It’s been a while since I did one of these, and the camera rig for hockey has changed, but it’s time to do this hockey game thing.
The Chicago Steel play in the USHL, which is the premiere junior league in America, just ahead of the NAHL. The Steel have been in the league for fifteen years, but this past season changed majority ownership. And with that change came a change of venue, to the Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this is a rec rink. It’s a nice and big rec rink, with two ice surfaces, but it’s a rec rink none the less. I mean, I would love to play at this rec rink, since the ice seems really nice, the main rink is large and bright, and the international rink is in a slightly dimmer and grubbier house, but still looks nice.
Look around the league and most USHL teams play in their own buildings. Des Monies is older, and Lincoln is both older and has much worse sight-lines, but they are “arenas” built to host an audience. They have seats. The FVIA has benches with numbers.
Still, it’s comfy and does the job. The ice, like I said, looks really nice. I’ve seen AHL ice in worse shape. Hardly any characteristic gouges in it. They take good care of their place. Plus there is a full restaurant and sports bar, even if its name is Chellios’.
The locker rooms are under the bleachers. Very rec rink.
The game was a Star Wars themed game night. Most teams, when they have a Star Wars night, will get some storm troopers, some contests, and maybe go all out and do a special Star Wars themed jersey. Here, they had Darth Vader, a Crimson Guard, and Yoda. And a little trivia. The opening featured the Star Wars theme music and what appeared to be some confusion as what to do next. That was about it.
Darth Vader did drop the puck.
Then he hugged the Youngstown captain. I guess he really is an evil dude.
Enough of this. The players are ready to start. The refs are… almost ready.
Alright, let’s get this thing started. Action!
This one went in.
This one did not. Take a look in the glove (click any picture to make bigger).
This one stayed out too. Check out the goalie’s shoulder.
Let’s head to the lobby. Hey look, bubble hockey!
I love bubble hockey. Let’s play! Wait, what?
A DOLLAR?!? And no refunds?!?!?!? Come on. That does not instill confidence.
The signs of a rec rink: player’s bags strewn throughout the lobby.
If you leave the rink and head to the lobby, they draw a little symbol on your hand. The woman who did it said “every one is unique.” I have what appears to be an indifferent monkey on my hand, but apparently, it is a unique snowflake. Collect them all.
Back to the action.
This is Rusty. Nice hat.
I have seen some serious swing-and-a-miss action in my time, but this one took the cake.
Dude, where are you going? The puck is right there.
This is, and I am not kidding you, Johnny Walker. I know!
We made it to the second intermission, and the saddest chuck-a-puck I have ever seen. The prize was game tickets, and I would have played, especially after seeing the lack of participation, but after this weekend, they won’t have another home game until after I leave town.
Rec rink trophy case.
Third period action!
This, somehow, stayed out. It wound up hitting the goalie on top of the head, then rolled down his shoulder and landed in front of him.
The game went to overtime. In the USHL, they play by last season’s AHL overtime rules. Three minutes of 4-on-4, followed by four minutes of 3-on-3. How about this glove save?
Even though Chicago took a penalty late in OT, they hung on and took this one to a shootout.
Even though it no longer exists in the NHL, the dry scrape is alive and well.
The Youngstown goalie prepares.
Let’s do this thing. First up, Youngstown.
That’s a goal. Got him five-hole. 1-0 Youngstown.
Take a look under that pad. That’s going in.
Almost lost his mask on that one too. Tied up at 1.
Pad save, still tied at one.
This one was beautiful. First, fake the shot.
Start to move left to right, with the goalie following.
Yeah, you got some open net there. Take that shot.
Yep, go ahead and shoot. You got this.
Do you want an invitation? Shoot!
You do know you are supposed to shoot in a shootout, right?
I MEAN, COME ON! You are about to be behind the net!!!
Thank you! Aaaaaand…. goal.
After that display, it’s 2-1 Chicago. Back to Youngstown. A save can win it.
He closes the five-hole, and the Steel win it, 5-4!
I know that I kind of disparaged the rec rink aspect of the place, but the game was a good time. They could use a better sound system, and knocking back the ticket prices a few bucks might help ($20 for a junior game is pretty steep), but I would come back. It was a fun hockey game.
What more do you need?