This is the second of the back to back games between the Green Bay Gamblers and the Madison Capitols of the NAHL. If you missed the first part of the series, it’s here.
The Green Bay Gamblers have, oddly enough, been on my list of teams to see for a while. Why? I have no idea. It’s just always been a team that has stuck in the back of my mind ever since I heard of them.
Welcome to the Resch Center. (click any photo to make bigger)
Is it just me or does this look like the habitat the Mars One people would love to live in? If the Madison Capitols arena looked like an old Funkadelic space ship, this looks like one Bruno Mars would tour with. Very sci-fi.
Frankly, I would like to see more moshing and crowd surfing at hockey games. Mostly in the beer garden areas, but that’s just me.
The inside is a lot like an older Boston University arena. It’s steep, the seats are a similar color, and… and…. let’s just forget I said anything.
Let’s take a look at those seats for a moment.
Yeah, they are kind of weird, and yet they are super utilitarian, and not uncomfortable. Note that I did not say they were comfortable. But they get out of the way when you need them to, and are roomier than you expect.
The name Resch Center comes from Dick Resch, the CEO of KI, an office furniture company. You can see a picture of Mr. Resch here, as well as read a lot of corporate speak and history about the company. Those seats, I was told by an usher, were made by KI. They also have a showroom at the arena. So now you know.
The concourses are rather wide, and we never had to fight the crowds (and there were crowds later).
I’m not entirely sure what the mascot is. A gambler? That is paying off his debts?
Like the Madison arena, the Resch Center has a beer garden on the end of the rink.
As far as beer goes, they have a lot of it, for this is Wisconsin, and it is a good deal for arena beer.
But we have not come to talk about hops, we have come to talk about hockey. First, we have warmups and a little sizing up to be done.
Nice toe save.
Second period action. Another nice save.
And back at the other end, a good glove save.
What the heck is going on here?
Hey goalie, you suck. Or at least the crowd thinks you do, and would like for you to know it.
Second intermission featured the main staple of chuck-a-puck, which WE WON!!! Well, us and about forty of our closest friends. We won a free sandwich from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit… with the purchase of a drink. I feel like a winner.
Third period action.
The third period solved nothing, so we went to overtime.
Nope! For the second night in a row, we went to the shootout.
The final, the Madison Capitols win 4-3 over the Green Bay Gamblers in the shootout. They win both games of the home and home in the shootout. Here is the game sheet.
A few tips about going to Green Bay for a game.
Go when the Green Bay Packers are not in town. The arena is right next to Lambeau Field, and game days must be crazy. I hope the league schedules road games for the Gamblers on those weekends.
If you are going to eat at Brett Farve’s Steakhouse as a lark, understand that it is an expensive lark. Also, it isn’t worth it. We saw a few guys in their hunter’s camo and jeans sit down for dinner, look at the prices, and promptly walk out. Also, there are Brett Farve name wines on the menu. We decided against them.
We had a good time, but what we were really looking forward to was the next night, headed to Sault St. Marie, MI for a game.
I was lucky enough to take in a home and home weekend between the Madison Capitols and the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. Madison played host on a Friday night with the Gamblers hosting on Saturday.
Welcome to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Looks like a spaceship, doesn’t it? The Veterans Memorial Coliseum is on the Alliant Energy Center campus. Frankly, I don’t entirely understand what that means. The place looks like a large fairgrounds, much like where they hold the Texas State Fair in Dallas, TX. I drove in at night, so I didn’t get a great look at it. But there are livestock barns and agricultural buildings on the grounds.
And they charge $7 for parking. It’s a pet peeve of mine.
The University of Wisconson – Madison used to play hockey here. I bet the place was rocking for Badgers games. Let’s go inside.
First stop, the lobby to buy a ticket. And… oh my.
That is some special carpet. So special, I had to get a few photos of it.
Don’t you want that for your next 70’s themed party?
The ticket cost me $18.50. A bottle of water was $3.50. This isn’t exactly a bargain.
Let’s just hope the arena is better. Let’s head to the concourse and… oh… my….
OK, but what about the arena itself? Well, it’s big.
It reminds me of the Scope in Norfolk, VA or the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, OR. It feels gigantic.
The seats at the ends are covered up, but there is a beer garden at ice level.
1980 Olympic gold medalist Bob Suter, who passed away recently, played here with the UWM Badgers.
But it’s just about game time. Please rise for the singing of our national anthem.
If you go to a game in Madison, here’s a tip. Sit in the first few rows of the upper “bowl.” The lower bowl is very flat, so you wind up sitting up on the edge of your seat a lot to see the action. But the arena staff doesn’t hold people out of the game when the puck is in play. And the spacial awareness of the fans is not at its peak.
In other words, when the game is on, they tend to roam around. They like to stand.
In the aisles…
At their seats…
Along the glass…
Stand stand stand. And if the rake of the seating area was steeper, it would be fine. But even the ushers get in on the actions.
Fine. Let’s get to the action. Here we… what the heck is going on here?
Just like coach drew it up.
Alright, well. Let’s move on. And… OH COME ON!!!
Sure. How about a break in the action. Those are kids shoveling the ice by the players. Note the discrepancy in height.
And a little chuck-a-puck.
OK. Enough of that. Game on.
AHHHH!!!! YOU ARE STANDING! WHY ARE YOU STANDING!!! THE GAME IS GOING ON RIGHT THERE!!!
The penalty boxes are a little weird. Normally the timekeeper’s booth is between the boxes. These are next to each other and skinny. The Capitols’ box saw lots of first period action, as Madison took five penalties to Green Bay’s two. There were six total in the second period, two in the third.
What you can’t see in that photo is the worst DJ at a hockey game I have ever heard. Playing songs from his computer, there was more gratuitous scratching than a big and hairy flea circus. I don’t even know what that means, but it was bad.
Hey guys, guess you know you are standing up and people are behind you, right? Yeah, I guess you do.
That’s a goal.
This one would go to the shootout. Only one goal would be scored. And I’m here to tell you, if you think every hockey fan doesn’t like the shootout, you would be wrong. They loved it in Madison.
Your final, Madison beats Green Bay 4-3 in the shootout. The game sheet is here.
An OK game, but obviously I will be sitting a little further back next time. It was a little hard to get into with all the distractions. Speaking of distractions, I’ll leave out what the people behind me were talking about during the game. Some things do not need repeating on the blog. Ask me in person some time.
The crowd was rocking, and it can’t be easy to get a good crowd in when you live in the shadow of Bucky the Badger. Wisconsin is all about the college hockey. But maybe hockey is just hockey here, and they take anything they can get. Or the Capitols are good at drawing a crowd. Either way, the fans had a good time.
Time to get ready for the other half of the home and home.
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?
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).
There are two ice surfaces here, a practice / public rink and the Roughriders rink. This is the practice rink.
Go up the stairs, with RR logos…
Through the doors…
And you get to the 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?
This turned into a goal.
The third goal, in fact, which led to a change in goal.
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.
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.
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.
Part of why I wanted to go to the RR game? I have this guy’s jersey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.