06:41:51 am on March 18, 2009 |
And the tour is now over. Back to the real job today.
I still have a bunch of game recap posts to do (I fell completely behind on those), a few swag reports, and an end of tour final post.
For those of you who followed along here, I want to thank you for coming along for the ride. I had a lot of fun updating here as I went, reporting on the games from my seat, and sharing not only the hockey, but the ride itself. The next time I take a trip like this, I’m going to do the same thing (microblog, photos, etc) but I should have better tools and more stuff to post.
223 post total here. Thanks for joining me.
03:52:17 pm on March 17, 2009 |
In Ann Arbor for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program vs. Motor City Machine.
10:25:48 am on March 16, 2009 |
One more game to go in the hockey tour. Tomorrow night, 7PM, Ann Arbor, MI.
03:26:49 pm on March 15, 2009 |
The Griffins lost 2-1, which included a 180′ empty netter. It wasn’t a very exciting game. I think this place sucks the life out of a game.
02:29:54 pm on March 15, 2009 |
The game is still scoreless. SOG 21-10, but I don’t think they are counting all the Admiral’s shots.
01:41:01 pm on March 15, 2009 |
No score so far. SOG 11-3 Griffins.
12:44:32 pm on March 15, 2009 |
The Griffins are selling off a bunch of game used equipment: gloves, pants, and a bunch of jerseys. I am not a buyer. It just feels wrong.
11:30:23 am on March 15, 2009 |
I made it to Grand Rapids in plenty of time, too much time. Everything other than the pubs are closed, and I’m not hungry or ready for a beer (a first, I know).
The team is playing soccer behind the arena.
06:48:14 am on March 15, 2009 |
For the second day in a row, sheer force of will and the promise of a hockey game on the other side of a drive are the only factors getting me out of bed this morning. I would sleep till noon today if I could. You bet I would.
11:05:41 pm on March 14, 2009 |
Wow. This is a good reason to postpone a game.
The Western Hockey League announced today that due to a serious bout of illness with the Chiefs that Spokane’s next two games, Saturday at Tri-City and Monday at home versus the Kelowna Rockets, have been postponed.
“It is difficult to be 100% sure, but all symptoms indicate that it is highly likely that this represents a case of food poisoning with our players,” Spokane Chiefs Team Physician Dr. P.Z. Pearce said.
09:38:28 pm on March 14, 2009 |
There is nothing worse (which is a little dramatic, I know) than Bennigan’s and St. Patrick’s Day. Fake Irish place catering to the suburban amateur night holiday drinkers. Throw in karaoke, and someone could lose an eye. Awful.
At least the beer is cold.
09:05:57 pm on March 14, 2009 |
I finally stopped for the night, at 10:55 PM local time, just 40 miles from Chicago. About four hours drive time to Grand Rapids tomorrow for the 4:00 PM game. Plus I got a good rate here at the Holiday Inn, and I am about to subject myself to my forth dose of karaoke on this trip. You gots to do what you gots to do.
Once I got to the commit or peel off point, I called the Waterloo Blackhawks to see if there were tickets available for tonight’s game, but all they had left were SRO. I had some indecision before about stopping for the game, and this was the deal breaker. And frankly, I’m happy I didn’t go.
The road trip officially ends Tuesday in Ann Arbor, MI, catching up with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Not that I’m ready to end this thing, but my real job beckons.
06:11:06 am on March 14, 2009 |
I am awake by sheer will and determination alone. It is only the desire to make it to Grand Rapids, MI and the hope of seeing another hockey game tonight that drives me right now. And in a moment, coffee will enter the mix.
11:19:56 pm on March 13, 2009 |
OK, last thing:
I sure have been “prolific” for a “microblog” lately.
11:19:04 pm on March 13, 2009 |
Last two things before bed time:
Next time I take a trip like this, I will take a pillow with me. No, not because I have a questionable manliness, but because most of these things are thicker than a Sonic Burger shake. I’m going to hurt my neck on these things.
Finally, this hotel has the Sci Fi network, and I am choosing not to turn it on, for fear that I will see BSG. This is sheer willpower at it’s finest. Instead, I have SportsCenter. I hate SC. I have come to terms with this. I will watch the Top Ten plays, but for no other reason than the Top Ten are pure fun, and have nothing to do with ESP-TV (and some of you will get that). Pure willpower.
11:04:33 pm on March 13, 2009 |
That is what it is all about. As ever, I am getting to bed a little later than I want to, but this time was because I was talking to some new hockey fans, Frank and Rose. Aside from being curious about my trip, they wanted to know more about the game that hooked them into being season ticket holders. I am not guru of the sport, but these guys were asking me about the game, and telling me about what made them passionate about the sport. It’s one of the problems the hockey blogosphere and hockey fans have, that being smart and superior is more important than bringing someone into the conversation. It’s worse in places like online forums and hockey hotbeds.
Places like Rapid City, SD, Ontario, CA, Ft. Collins, CO, Stockton, CA, and smaller towns where booster clubs are necessary, size is trumped by desire, and teams are scrambling for fans because they know where their bread is buttered know what the real deal is. You can not turn your back on the first season jersey buyer, the guy who brings their friend to a game because “you have to see this.” The hockey fan is built on the fifth time icing is explained, or when the reason a fight happens is understood, or a t-shirt is less important than a solid effort. Hockey fans are built on backchecking and forechecking, even though they may not know it.
While the NHL looks to expand their efforts into the south and “large markets,” the fan is build in places like Rapid City, in places that don’t seem like hotbeds. And this is where the hard work is being carried out, in the small markets, the markets that are minuscule. A team can make a name for itself in places like this. All they have to do is try.
And that’s all I have to say about that…
09:14:09 pm on March 13, 2009 |
You may (or may not) notice that the Grand Rapids Griffins have been added to the schedule. This will be the last game of the West Coast Hockey Tour, a team that is decidedly not “west coast.” It is a 4:00 PM game, which means I have a lot of driving to do in a very short amount of time. Still, I’m keeping it at the speed limit. Not below, but certainly at.