Spokane Chiefs vs. Everett Silvertips: Blowouts Happen

I’m still two posts (for three games) behind on game posts, but I’m going to leapfrog Seattle and Portland for the moment, and put up my pictures from tonight’s Chiefs game.

I have had the distinct non-pleasure of seeing the Everett Silvertips lose three games this trip (and I only saw them three times), and I have to say, these guys are pacing themselves way too much. As in, they don’t even show up to the first period, and don’t find their legs until halfway through the second. It happened every game. And it certainly happened tonight in Spokane.

Let me tell you, Spokane is not a team you want to hold back against. The reigning Memorial Cup Champions (and if you don’t know what that means, do yourself a favor and click the link to find out) are a very tight team, with fast passing and creativity on offense.

Spokane has a nice arena, but it was sparsely populated for tonight’s gig. And that was a huge mistake on the fans part, since the Chiefs scored enough goals to win me some free eats for the thind time on the hockey tour (burgers at Tri City and Portland). And hey, I’m all for free food, but I’m all for a game as well, not a blow out. And the Tips were beaten before they even hit the ice.

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You can click any of the smaller pictures for larger versions. I do this to save you some bandwidth.
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Action!!!!
This is warmups, but this is roughly what the game looked like.

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The Beer Garden. I wasn’t very impressed with the selection, but the view was great.
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This can only end in tears.
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What rivalry?
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OK, how about some game pics?
Some youth hockey players joined the Chiefs for the National Anthem. First, the Austrian National Anthem was played, in honor of the singer. Then, the guy almost nailed the American National Anthem. Still, he was better than the woman in Bakersfield who blew the Canadian Anthem (“Oh, Canada. Sorry.”)
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On to the game. This goaltender was so damn fast at getting back up from the butterfly. You see how he does it, one leg at a time, but he would go down and get back up so fast, it was like was simply sliding back and forth. The part I liked least about him was when he barked at his defenseman after the first goal scored against him. At that point , the game was beyond out of reach for the Tips. Stats are one thing, but if you are going to get this kind of goal support, you don’t have to worry about one goal (it was 7-0 Chiefs before they let one in, so come on).
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OK, this is a funny sequence. The score was 5-0 Chiefs, and the Coach had enough from his starting goalie. Time to put the backup in. But the play started before the switch could be made. So the backup had to wait for a stoppage.
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He’s just waiting there, waiting for a whistle so he can go out there. And what happened next was almost like it was scripted or fate. The Chiefs scored again before the whistle blew, making the game 6-0.
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And his teammates don’t even get the door for him. Dude.
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This one went in. This is the beautiful backhanded pass up the slot that was blasted in. Just a perfect play if I have ever seen one.

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Fight!!!
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Wait, what the hell? And why is there a bear who works at Subway watching? This is freaking me out. OK, real fight.

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Back to the game.

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And look, the Chiefs win. Final score, 7-2 (and the Tips were lucky to get two)
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I got a chance to meet Wrap Around Curl very briefly, and she was nice.

Gamesheet. Note the three power play goals by the Chiefs, and the overlapping Tips penalties in the third period.

That does it for Spokane. Swag report has to wait, because I am super tired. But I’m not tired of hockey yet. This wraps up the west coast portion of the road trip. Next up is Rapid City on Friday. If anyone knows of a game happening in Billings, MT Thursday night, hit me up in the comments. I don’t care what level. I’m just not ready for this road trip to end.

Tri-City Americans vs. Portland Winterhawks: Old School meets New School

Buildings are important for hockey. The tone of an arena can set the tone for the entire experience of a hockey game, or the tone of an individual game. Some of the NHL arenas follow this code, but too many ignore it, choosing nice amenities over individualism. The American Airlines Center in Dallas gets it right, combining an individual character with modern convenience. But when you go to places like Port Huron, Kalamazoo, Johnstown, Providence, Rockford, Wichita, and Indianapolis, you get a real feel for what hockey is meant to feel like. There should be history and character, and often, that only comes with quirks and age. And you can add the Tri-City’s barn in Kennewick, WA to that list.
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This is one of those places that seems like a rink was shoehorned into it, but in reality, it’s got it’s own charm. This is where a community of hockey fans comes together.
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Notice how some of the seats extend into the corridor.
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My seats were one row from the glass, thanks to my host “Dave Shultz” from the blog “I Mean, We Got Guys…”

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I took a ton of photos from the game. I will not subject you to them all here, but know they could pop up at any time. You have been warned.

Words are said.
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Open for business.
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This guy is in some pain. I believe he came back.

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Dude, what are you looking at? Eyes on the prize, buddy.
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Your final:
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Overall, a much better game than the night before.

After the game, I got to take part in the post game skate:

Here is a jersey I wish I had. Oh well.

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These are always a lot more fun after the home team wins.

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Would I go back to Kennewick for a game? You freaking bet. All hockey games should be experienced in places this fun. It’s what hockey travel was born for.
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Swag Report: Everett Silvertips

I am obligated (self imposed, mind you) to get a puck from each game I go to. I’m happy limiting myself to that, so long as there isn’t anything else really cool to pick up.

First, the puck:

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OK, nice puck, eh? But then I spotted the Grab Bag.
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Dude, it’s a grab bag. I couldn’t resist.

Anticipation.

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And I get a signed puck from Ryan White. Whoo-hoo!!! Wait, who is Ryan White? Well, he was born in Parker, CO. So there.

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Well, there you go. Swag report complete. My post from the Tri-City Americans hits tomorrow.

Silvertips vs. Giants: A Study in WTF

Let’s just get this out of the way. The game I witnessed between the Everett Silvertips and the Vancouver Giants was possibly one of the worst games I have ever seen. Mind you, I have seen games at all levels, and been around the United States to all sorts of venues. I have seen shut outs, blowouts, and knock down drag outs. But this was on a whole other level.

Expectations can get a little out of control for a hockey game. All you have to do is take a look at the hockey parent who pushes their under 12 year old kid like they are going to be the next Gretzky. My expectations were to see a high tempo game, along with plenty of mistakes. These kids playing for the WHL are sixteen to twenty years old, and while many are the cream of the crop for their age group, they aren’t in the NHL (yet) and they aren’t coached like they are in the NHL. I understand that.

What I couldn’t understand was what Everett was doing for the first period. Watching the play was the first thing that came to mind. Perhaps their lack of effort was in response to something the rest of us weren’t privy to. Perhaps they were trying to conserve their energy for something after the game. Whatever it was, they took the first period off, which payed off for the Giants in a 20-4 SOG advantage. The fact that the game was only 1-0 Giants after the first was a testament to the Silvertips goaltender. If not for him, the score could have been completely out of control. Like a previous engagement between the ‘Tips and the Giants, in which Everett got blown out 8-0.

Action! Or something similar:
(click on the small pics to see bigger versions)

They have a nice building to play in, but virtually no parking.
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More high end coffee.
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The arena itself was really nice. I think I could believe it if I were told that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. Most places make this claim, but I can tell you from experience, it’s a lie. I’m looking at you, Ontario.

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Saw this a lot.
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The first intermission had R/C cars racing around the ice. It was more entertaining than the first period of the game.

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No bears were hurt in the making of this intermission entertainment. Well, almost…

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Dude.

The arena has another rink attached.
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Back to the “action”

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I love this photo. I don’t know why.

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Yeah, you should be.

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This guy’s name stretches shoulder to shoulder. I took a lot of pictures trying to get this.
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I saw the check that broke this pane of glass, but didn’t get a picture of it. Damn.
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Fight!

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Your final:
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Rebuilding? You better hope so, ‘Tips fans. There was more chanting for the Giants than for Everett. The Swag Report from this game is going to be fun. Look for it tonight.

Drive Time: Stockton to Astoria

Eureka was a bust. Nothing like the TV Show. Astoria, OR is my transitory town before Seattle. This is what I saw along the way. And this is all in the full knowledge that this is a hockey blog. But this is the path between hockey games, so I figure it is applicable.

It has always been a goal of mine to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. And now that I have done the vast majority of it, in various pieces, I want to do it again, this time entirely in the day time, and with a less strict schedule. I always seem to have some place I have to be, so stops along the way are shorter than I desire. But the stops I made were amazingly beautiful.

This is San Francisco from the car. I do not recommend this type of behavior. Either drive or take photos. Don’t do both.

And it’s not like you need a reminder, but if you want to see a picture bigger, click on it. Make with the mouse, people.

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I stopped here for some lunch. It was pricey, but the view was worth it.
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Hank keeps an eye on the turkey crossing. It really is strange to have to stop for a turkey crossing, especially when you are from Colorado. Sure, I’m a man of the World nation, but this was a new one.
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How now, black and white cow.
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Now these are worth your time. As much as I want to get to the next game, this is why the Pacific Coast Highway is such an amazing drive.

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Finally, this is where I stopped for dinner, the Otis Cafe, in Otis, OR. I found the place thanks to the book “Roadfood.” If you are in the neighborhood, get the German Potatoes. You will not be disappointed. But you know this, if you are following the west coast hockey tour microblog.
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Next post: HOCKEY!!

Thunder vs. Wranglers: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

The only issue to be had with Stockton, CA, is that I showed up a little later than I should have to really enjoy the city. I know, for some people that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I had pretty low expectations of Stockton, but I believe that to be wrong. Stockton seems like a nice town that could be a big city, but shouldn’t really be. It’s not San Jose, and it’s not San Francisco, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s just a nice place on it’s own, at least what I saw. Which admittedly isn’t much. I could spend a few more days here, but it isn’t going to happen. I have to move on.

I was hosted for the game by a guy I met on the Into the Boards forum. As I have said before, meeting people in reality that you have met on the internet is a crap shoot. You never know who you are going to wind up with. I have yet to be disappointed on this hockey tour, and tonight was no exception. Craig was nice as hell, a great hockey fan, a good guy on his own, and was falling all over himself to show me a good time. I truly appreciate his hospitality, and hope to pass it back to him at some point. Minor league fans are the best.

First, the travel (this is a road trip, after all):

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OK, enough of that. The drive was nice, but on to the hockey. Welcome to the Stockton Arena:

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Hey, what does that sign say?
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Oh, you thought you saw that wrong. No, you did not. But don’t let this fool you, the arena inside is nice, and has some character.

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It was a good place for some hockey. You wouldn’t know it from the pictures, but the crowds have been really high, averaging 6,000 per game (and at this level, that is a healthy crowd, plenty to keep your team going).

Warmups (click to make bigger):

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Please note, the Wranglers are wearing warmup jerseys, with the Orleans hotel and casino logo on the front. The last time I saw this, it was the Motor City Mechanics wearing McDonald’s jerseys. You can only imagine.

Oh, say can you see….
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Game time:

Solid.
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Moving on, the game.

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This hurt.
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This was one of the few glove saves the Wranglers goalie made. Oh, sure, he made several stops, but the high glove was a weakness all night.
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No fights in this game, but it was “spirited”
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“No, this is what happened, so there!”
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Dude.

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Folks, that’s a game. Thunder win it 3-2 in regulation. It was a good game, but so much fun to hang out with Craig and the fans. He even invited me to the team president. One of the great things about the minors is that you can get so close to the team. The fans come first, and they mean it. The NHL should keep this in mind.

Swag report tomorrow.

Swag Report: Bakersfield Condors

On to the good stuff.

SWAG!
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A basic puck. But I went to two games, which means two pucks. And since it was Links-for-Love weekend:
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OK, you already saw this jersey:
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But you only caught a glimpse of this one:
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This is a Brian McCarthy Charity Game Worn jersey. And as far as “pink jerseys” are concerned, this one isn’t bad. You may want to tuck it in (jersey foul) if you are too concerned with your manhood.

The secret to jersey collecting is to get things that are special to you. It doesn’t matter what everyone else in the world thinks about your jersey, so long as you are happy with it. Why would you get a jersey from a player you don’t like or respect? Your jersey should only satisfy yourself. I wanted this jersey for a few reasons. One was that the money went to charity. Another was that this is a great reminder of what a great weekend this was. Also, and this was a big consideration, Brian was one of my teammates for the Hockey-thon (if you look at this picture, he’s the one in the white helmet on the left). I didn’t talk to him much, mostly because I was trying not to completely embarrass myself (FAIL!!!). But still, I wanted one that one of my teammates, and the other two Condors player’s jerseys were well out of my price range.
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Yeah, that’s right, it’s signed. And since it was used during a charity alumni game, it certainly was devoid of marks.
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Projoy is the jersey manufacturer.

Plenty of good swag, and a new jersey. What more could I ask for? Stockton Thunder is next.

Two Days of the Condors: Game 2

Game one of the Condors back to back series against the Victoria Salmon Kings (goofiest logo ever?) was a bit of a mixed bag. Lots of intensity, plenty of physical play, a dumb penalty which led to a shootout loss. What would game two bring? First, the old farts.

Well, not really old, but the Condors Alumni taking on the West Coast Alumni (aka: California defunct teams). No checking, no backchecking, no forechecking, and barely any saves. Click any small pic to make bigger.

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Yeah, this one is in.

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A great cause, and the fans loved it. The players seemed to have fun, despite the score (14-6?)
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On to the game:

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Your final, Condors win this one 5-2.
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After the game, the Condors had a post game skate with the team.

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Hey, who is that guy?
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Yep, former L.A. King, and trivia question first NHL player born in Japan, Yutaka Fukufuji. So, yeah, I’m going in there.

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Nice jersey I have there, eh? See what it is in the Swag Report.

Bakersfield was great. The Condors fans took me in completely, having me as their guest for the games, hanging out with me at the Hockey-thon, and making me happy I stopped in Bakersfield. After the post-game skate, someone stopped me as I was coming up the stairs to leave the arena. “Are you Tapeleg?” My life is now complete.

Details Surfacing About Arrested Condors Player

More information about why Bakersfield Condors player Daniel LaPointe was arrested are coming to light. This report is from KGET-TV (a sponsor of the Condors):

A Bakersfield Condors player was arrested early Sunday after a fellow player accused him of throwing a rock through his window, striking a woman and her daughter inside.

Condors center Daniel LaPointe, 24, faces two felony charges including willful cruelty to a child and assault with a deadly weapon. Officers also booked him on a charge of resisting arrest.

Officers arrested LaPointe early Sunday after Condors right wing Mike Wirll said LaPointe thew a rock through the window of his apartment at the Springs complex in Southwest Bakersfield. Wirll said the rock struck his female roommate, Bobbi-Joe Jackson, 25, in the head. Shattered glass also hit Jackson’s 1-year-old daughter, Abigail, Wirll told officers.

Frankly, this is not what I thought had happened from the initial report. As bad as this is, it isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. If you aren’t sure what I mean, use your imagination, or turn on network television on a weeknight.

This is a bit strange:

Wirll said LaPointe knocked on his door around 1 a.m. Sunday, but he didn’t want to open the door because he suspected LaPointe was intoxicated, said BPD spokesman Sgt. Greg Terry. Wirll reportedly saw LaPointe throw the rock at the window.

Care to see where the Condors were drinking that night? I can’t say I saw these two specific players, but a bunch of the team was there.

And really, you have to wonder:

Officers went to arrest LaPointe at his apartment in the same complex and found him asleep in bed, Sgt. Terry said. LaPointe resisted arrest and had to be Tazed, officers reported.

It takes all kinds.

Bakersfield Hockey-thon: or How I Learned to Skate Through Pain

One of the happy coincidences of my west coast hockey tour was that the Bakersfield Condors games that I had selected to attend lined up perfectly with the Bakersfield Hockey-thon, a charity event to benefit Links for Love, a breast cancer organization. And even though I am a simply awful hockey player, how could I not participate?

The event was 41 hours of games, held at the Bakersfield Ice Sports Center and the Rabobank Arena (ie: the Condors games, and the Alumni game). There were games from all levels of local teams, and six teams of people like me (well, ones who could play hockey at least) who got pledges from sponsors. One of my sponsors came from the Into the Boards forum, where minor league fans like to hang out online.

Now, let me get this straight: I was clearly the worst player on the ice. I made a few turnovers that led directly to goals against, and I don’t mean that I turned the puck over, and they eventually scored. I mean, I turned the puck over, and they immediately scored. In fact, it happened on my very first shift. I thought, “at least we got that out of the way.” Instead, I got that out of the way two more times. It was a humbling experience. Not that I went in with any illusions of greatness. I knew I was going to be terrible, and had very low expectations. Of my positive accomplishments, I won my first faceoff (which was my first ever faceoff), got a few assists, and made a few good defensive plays (more on that in a moment).

A few photos:

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My team:

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The games were two 25 minute clock running periods (meaning the clock never stopped). Our schedule had us playing most games after midnight. Five games in two days, mostly overnight, takes it’s toll. After the first game Saturday night (game 3) we lost all our Condors Alumni (they had a noon alumni game to play, so I don’t blame them).

Our last game was at 3:15 AM, and our bench wasn’t short, it was barely a line. Only four players from our team showed up, to face a dozen on the other bench. Worse yet, we didn’t have a goalie. We borrowed a few players and a netminder (who had to play the next game as well, poor guy), and we made a go of it. With only seven players, line changes were ridiculous. One or two of us could come off, but that was it. The other team was taking it to us pretty bad. Since there was no icing, sometimes the strategy was to get the puck, fire it down ice, and wait for them to come to us, just so we could catch our breath. I played at least 40 of the 50 minutes of the game. The final score was 10-3. I don’t know how we ever got 3. One goal against us went off my skate and in. But I did make some decent defensive plays every so often. At one point, a slap shot went off my stick and high into the netting. The goalie thanked me for that one, saying he wouldn’t have had it.

Later in the game, I stopped a slap shot with the outside of my leg. Contrary to popular belief, there is no padding on the outside of hockey pants. I heard the other players around me suck wind, and a few say, “That had to hurt.” Only a little, but it left a mark:

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This did not feel nearly as bad as my back, nor my legs. I could barely lift my legs after the final game, and my forearms hurt just from the weight of my hockey gloves. The next day, I could barely roll out of bed, much less go to the Condors game.

And It was all worth it, not only for the charity, but also for the experience. I had a great time, and got to know a few of my teammates. Some really great people. Also, several of the people from the Into the Boards forum were there, and stopped me to talk. So much more than I would have ever expected.

As for me, I wasn’t sure where to put this at first, but here is as good a place as any. This is the jersey I was given for the Hockey-thon:

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It’s actually a good quality jersey. This one is a little different to me. I may have been a terrible player out there, but I showed up for every game. I took a few shots, stopped a few with parts of my body that never did anything mean to deserve that sort of treatment, and gave it everything I had. I didn’t buy this jersey. I earned this jersey.

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