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

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.