Wednesday, December 31, 2008

45 years ago the Bears ruled Wrigley Field!

Sports trivia: When was the last time a professional championship game was played at Wrigley Field? Who won it, Chicago or the visitors?

The answer is the Chicago Bears won the National Football Championship December 29, 1963, 14-10 over the New York Giants. The Super Bowl wasn't started till 1967. It was the last championship game the Bears played in until they won the Super Bowl in 1986.

The game was moved up to a 12:05 start by the National Football League after the Bears refused to move the game to Soldier Field. The NFL was concerned that the end of a long game could be played in the dark as Wrigley Field had no lights. Mike Crivello, age 26 at the time, lived about a block from Wrigley Field in the 1100 block of Addison. The morning dawned with a temperature of -8 F and winds gusting to 15 mph. Local radio reported that the Bears game was sold out and Crivello knew, from living in the area, that the city was cracking down on scalpers.

He headed out to mass at Trinity Lutheran Church with his wife. Passing the ticket office, he noticed a line for tickets. When he checked out what was happening, he discovered that the game wasn't sold out, but the remaining tickets were too expensive for Crivello. The ticket agent pointed to a man on the sidewalk, a scalper. “He'll sell you a ticket for face value,” the agent said, explaining that the weather was discouraging people from attending.

Crivello purchased three standing room only tickets at $4.00 each. It was a half-hour till game time.

Rousing his cousin Chris and another friend who did not make it, Crivello headed to the Waveland Avenue bleachers in his hunting camouflage. “It was cold and there was no food service in the bleachers,” Crivello said. The only protection from the wind and the bitter temperature in the bleachers was the men's room. Crivello remembers entering the men's room and seeing a man warming his bare feet over a heater.

Crivello remembers Giants Quarterback Y. A. Tittle's scoring first quarter drive. It culminated in a touch down pass to Frank Gifford. But the Monsters of the Midway, led by Larry Morris, hit Tittle as he was throwing later in the quarter. A second hit by Morris, on another play and Tittle's knee was injured. Although he finished the game, he was lost for part of the first half and he began throwing off his back foot for the remainder of the game.

Morris was able to intercept a Tittle pass moments after the second hit. His 61 yard return remains a Bears record. It setup a quarterback sneak touchdown by Billy Wade, tying the game. Going into the second quarter, Crivello remembers that the temperature was sending people home early. A Giants field goal sent the ball out of the stadium onto Waveland. A crowd of perhaps 100 people scrummed for the ball near the firehouse. The score was Giants 10, Bears 7 at the end of the half.

In the second half, with Tittle back on the field, Ed O'Bradovich intercepted a Giants pass. That setup Wade's second scoring run, giving the 14-10 lead to the Bears. Richie Petitbon finished the Giants chances when he intercepted a pass, the fifth Bears interception of the game, in the end zone with ten seconds remaining.

George Allen, the Bears defensive coordinator, received the game ball. Bears coach and owner George Hallas received the NFL coach of the year award. Morris was the Most Valuable Player. Among the other athletes in the contest were Johnny Morris and future Bears coach Mike Ditka. Crivello kept the game ticket and an aerial photograph of the game in a frame until last year when he gifted them to a football loving friend. “I still remember the ticket, SRO #96,” Crivello said.

by Patrick Kissane and Jane Rickard

Winter Classic- Wrigley in Winter Colors


The rink lies below, glistening in the sun. There is no ice there yet. That will come shortly. Already the Zamboni's have been dropped, literally, off the truck. On this morning, a cold wind blows. Looking at the stands for 41,000, you wonder how will those people survive this cold.

But Steve Alexander is happy. In the warmth of his rooftop club and the field across the street, his patrions will be able to knosh on cider, pizza and coffee inside, taking in the game as the weather allows on the rooftop deck. His arms wide, he says he is ready for the Winter Classic.

A veteran of the Greektown restaurant scene, Alexander says the rooftop gig has been the best place to work ever. He glides over to a wall, his speech is rapid and his excitement is viral, “here are pictures from the 1970's with the owner,” he says. He hardly allows a moment to examine the photos on the wall before racing elsewhere, the food is usually prepared outside in the summer he explains, talking rapidly.

“But, in January that won't be possible,” he explains, as he shows off the kitchen where the chili, mac and cheese and other winter favs will appear. “The staff is excited,” he explains, racing to the roof along a rear stair.

At the top of the stair, downtown glistens in the distance and an el train rumbles beneath us. Alexander is on the other side of the roof. Talking about what his guests will be seeing. Wrigley Field, frozen in snow and ice lies across the street and below. A rink runs from first to third base. It is quiet. A moment that is frozen.

Alexander is quiet for a moment, then his boots begin crushing the snow, “it will be 45 F here this weekend and this stuff will all melt,” he predicts. “Come here and look at this,” he is bursting with enthusiasm. Another kitchen, this is the summer kitchen. “And, we'll hang televisions from these poles too.”

Alexander rushes down a stairwell. Gasping to catch him, the sub-zero air is stinging my lungs. Alexander is a huge sports fan. At first, he says he doesn't understand hockey, but as he talks, he goes into a long discussion of the effects of constant hits on the player's body. He talks about Chicago Blackhawk players and Chris Chelios, the kid from the hood who did good.

“His parents were mall walkers and stopped by mom and dad's stand in the mall,” he explains. The old Greeks liked to talk to each other and grab a bite. They'd talk about their kid in the hockey league, Chris. Chelios, I explain, was assigned to the AAA Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning. He might not play on New Year's Day. “Oh, too bad.” For a moment, Alexander is reflective.

He begins to talk again about the Cubs and the blessing of the business having this extra day of business. The city council had just approved the sale of tickets by the rooftops at its previous session. Although he had sold out, Alexander explained that prior to the approval, everything was tentative.

The poor economy is having its effect here too. Although Alexander has sold out, he says that some of the rooftops had tickets on the 20th. Tickets up here cost $300.00 USD each. For that the rooftop clubhouse Alexander runs opens an hour before the game till an hour after the game. All the food and beverage is provided.

The effort to be ready is exhausting. Alexander fields calls during the interview from supplier after supplier, arranging for the delivery of food, beer, soft drinks and other supplies. “Excuse me,” he apologizes, “I have to take this.” It is non-stop and there are more than ten days to go yet.

He says the rooftops host parties during concerts too, but that the view is terrible and it is by invitation of the owner (no income) for friends and clients. “We had to take the weather into consideration,” he says. He looks at the stands across the street. “People will be freezing if they stay outside long in this weather. They'll probably be going up (to the roof top view) and down (to the warmth of the clubhouse) a lot,” he predicts.

The building, originally a three-flat, was gutted to the walls. A similar project is occurring immediately next door. Inside, the walls are brick and mortar. Large windows keep the noise of the el train out, while pictures from Cubs history adorn the walls. Basically several floors of restaurants with bleachers on the top deck, only one apartment survives, on the first floor. And NO, you may not invite yourself up to the deck if you rent the apartment.

In the early days of Wrigley Field, the owners and tenants came up on the roof with lawn chairs and grills. Television gave the rooftops their romance, showing the rooftops and their occupants. It is a romance the National Hockey League hopes to capture. A little snow, some pictures of the rooftops with some cold people on them, and the ivy. You can see it now, in your minds eye.

Outdoor hockey at this level is about romance. The romance of a game played on ice. The romance of professional players, returning to their roots. It is a romance of the neighborhood kid, scoring the game winning goal or making the glove save at a critical moment-- at least in his head.

by Patrick Kissane

Sunday, December 28, 2008

No Joy in Mudville, Hogs and Wolves loose.

It was not a good time to be a minor league hockey fan in Chicago last night. Both of our local teams the Chicago Wolves and the Rockford Icehogs lost to divisional rivals.

The Wolves snatched defeat from the jaws of victory letting a three goal lead slip away during the third period ultimately losing 5:3 to old rivals the Milwaukee Admirals. Admirals goalie Drew McIntyre who many Chicago fans will remember from his years in Manitoba turned away 30 SOG in the loss. While Chicago's Ondrej Pavelec was challenged by 25 SOG. Referee Ian Croft (#87) returned in stripes assigning Milwaukee 26/mi/10 infractions and Chicago 36 minutes for 11 inf.

The turning point of the game for the home team may have come at 15 seconds into the 3rd period when a fight started between Chicago's Mike Hoffman and Milwaukee's Nolan Yonkman. Both men were evenly matched in size and desire to dance, however like may on ice encounters it ended in injuries. It appears that Yonkman may have suffered momentary loss of consciousness hitting the ice and Hoffman a wrist injury. Both combatants were taken into the locker rooms for medical attention immediately after the incident. Although the role of the enforcer is a popular one with fans it needs to constantly be acknowledged how dangerous and difficult it can be. These men are not “goons” but skilled players who provide protection for the smaller line mates often at a high personal price. After Yonkman and Hoffman left the ice it simply seemed the Wolves's air had left it's collective balloon and 5 unanswered goals simply happened in the next 20 minutes.

The Wolves board a plane for Manitoba for Tuesday's game against the Moose. There they will meet old team mates Jason Krog and Gui Desbiens, both of whom are reportedly doing very well in the Manitoba system. Maybe some cold Canadian air, some hot Tim Horton's coffee and the Wolves will snap out of it. If not maybe Desbiens can check some sense into them.

The Icehogs also were also on the negative side last night facing the Iowa Chops losing 5:6. The Hogs had Antti Neimi in goal while the Chops had David LeNevau in the pipes.

No, it wasn't the best night to be a hockey fan in Chicago. The bright spot is that the Hawks don't play the Wild until tonight. Then there is the “Winter Classic” to look forward to in 4 days, minor league fans have something to live for.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hogs Make Wolves howl winning 6:2

As the fog kept many Chicago fans homebound last night rather than making the 90 minute trip to Rockford, the team faced an attack by the Icehogs with a small crowd of supporters behind them. In the end Wolves goalie Ondrej Pavlec faced 21 SOG while Rockford's Crawford faced 32 turning away 29. The much anticipated match between enforcers Sean McMorrow and Mike Hoffman has been posponed for another day. McMorrow was listed as a scratch, better luck next game fight fans.

Things making me say Hummmm......
This came across my desk this afternoon:
Blackhawks have reassigned goalie prospect Joe Fallon from Fresno Falcons to Rockford . Joe Fallon?

After following the trail of the transaction it turns out yes, indeed there may be something up but it may come down to yet another team folding. The Fresno Falcons were the Blackhawks ECHL (AA) farm team. They shut down suddenly on December 22nd and the Hawks needed a place for prospects. This lead to the second head scratcher.

Fallon reassigned to Gwinnette? Gwinnette?

Yes ,indeed the Wolves and Hawks are sharing a farm team, hummm. Hockey makes for strange bedfellows, Gwinnette coach Jeff Pyle will have some interesting times ahead. With the Hawks added to Thrashers prospects one can hope they are interesting all the way through the playoffs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and Thank You!

Christmas morning and I'm up early. The sun is shining for the first time in a couple of days, there is a cup of coffee next to me, it may not be Tim Horton's but you know what, life is pretty darn good on this Christmas Day.

Last Sunday while covering the Rockford game I took a break to meet with friend and colleague, Kris. While we were chatting about lenses, children and hockey I asked her about something she mentioned in an earlier email. It seemed it had been Kris's turn to do the “locker room and bus food” shopping for the team the night before and it had been quite a run. Locker room food?

To those of us who are fans of the AAA and NHL teams this is going to seem like a supportive and amazing story but it is true for Kissane and I have heard it several times between the UHL and ECHL and now with the converted UHL/AHL Icehogs.

Two years ago on a cold winters night Kissane and I found ourselves in Dayton Ohio at a Gwenette Gladiators and Dayton Bombers game. After the game we met with dedicated fans and talked into the early morning hours. One of the topics of conversation was the extensive support the booster club gave to the players. This included furniture and appliances for apartments, and food for every bus trip (individually packaged of course) and “locker room food” at every game. We were simply astounded. Months later in Toledo we heard the same thing including a semi formal practice of families “adopting players”. Families only mind you, no puck bunnies need apply.

Last week was the first I had heard of it in the AHL, it is a practice continued from the UHL Icehogs of the past. Bless these boosters for their dedication to their team in providing them touches of home, food and support when these young men are on their own for possibly the first time in their lives. Yes they are adults being paid well to play a game we played on ponds as kids. But still, it is a lovely thing these families are doing for their teams. Often in smaller cities where the dollar is tighter these days like Dayton,Rockford and Toledo.

So Merry Christmas Kris and all boosters who work to support their teams and worthy causes at the same time. But you know what, that's hockey and on this beautiful Christmas morning life is good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Woo Whoo!! A goalie in my Stocking!

It was the week before Christmas, days before Hanukkah. The house was decorated, kiddies finished with school and packages wrapped. I looked at my stocking hung near the crackling fire. What did I see? But Santa Kevin Cheveldayoff had been there, a smiling goalie in a green helmet decorated with a star was waving at me from San Antonino telling me of a win and his "assignment from Dallas".

Yes Virgina, Bret Karhn is unpacking his bags for a longer stay. He started in goal for Chicago last night in San Antonino winning 2:1 turning away 35 of 36 shots against t him. Nice work for our Pro from Dover or Dallas as it were. Krahn is a bit of a second chance kid or so a bit of research shows. Last September he was signed with Dallas as a 3rd line back up to Marty Turko. He was to compete for the position with nettie familiar to those of us in the west -Tobias Stephan. (Needless to say it is my belief the Wolves have ultimately gotten the best part of this deal ending up with Krahn!) Krahn had left the Calgary system after seven years and being dogged by knee injuries.It's an old story goalies and knee injuries, Khan's started in 01', they cost him parts of two seasons . It was rumored in September that he would be finished with rehab and be able to return to play by December 08'.

Stephan? Well,he is in Dallas singing backup for Marty Turko, he can stay there. If indeed Dallas has loaned us a net minder they may be ready to take a chance on or one we can rehab in Chicago we seem to have a hot hand between the pipes. The world of sports loves a underdog, second chances and a good story it would be just Chevy's style to find one for us this year in Bret Krahn. Whether Krahn is here for a fortnight, month or the rest of the season he has shown desire and fire lets hope he also shows us a comeback.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chevy Can we Keep Him? Krahn Looks good in Debut!

Brent Krahan may have only been here for the weekend filling in for the rumored injured Dan Truple but the man did impress. Not only did the Wolves win handily 4:1 against San Antonio. Krahn produced several of the prettiest saves we have seen at the Allstate since the 07' playoffs.

A long weekend does not even a honeymoon make but in his one outing Brent Krahn stood on his head and performed the two tasks of the goalie beautifully, as a friend Jill put it so concisely, see the puck, stop the puck . Considering the current uncertainty in Chicago nettie camp it begs the question to GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, "Chevy can we keep him a little longer, please?"
Here are a few shots of nights action:


Friday, December 12, 2008

Wolves win in Iowa 3:2 in SO, Ink weekend nettie...Waz up?

Chicago Wolves won in the cornfields of against the Iowa chops in a 3:2 shoot out, Robert Gherson was in goal for the Wolves. That is the basic fact, now consider this bit of news that cam across the internet today at 5:54 today.

The Chicago Wolves had signed yet another goalie 26 year old Brent Krahn. Krahn is a member of the 2000 draft class and was a first round draft choice, taken 9th over all. He has spent his entire career in the Calgary organization and was most recently with the Las Vegas Wranglers. Nice, but most interestingly he has been signed for a weekend contract. This leads to lots of speculation on chat rooms, boards and blogs. Is there a trade in the winds, another injury in the goalie pool or is somebody about to be released? It could be anywhere in the food chain, Atlanta,Chicago or Gwinette,only time will tell what is up.

Robert Gherson did well against the Chops tonight, tomorrow the Wolves will be in Rockford facing their biggest rival the Icehogs. Will Coach Granato go with the hot hand or stay with his policy of alternating goalies and start Turple, or slide the new guy in? It's Friday night one game and one win down of a three game weekend, and some good gossip in the wind, what fun !

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wolves Host Pig Roast, beat Icehogs 6:1, Who were those masked men?

Wednesday night Wolves fans left the Allstate Arena worried, very worried. Was it the trip to Turple by one of his own team mates? No, The shelling of Gherson? Not quite. The fact that every line change resembled a flock of peewees tumbling out for their big chance? No, it was the general don't seem to care, don't wanna care, you mean I should care attitude that hung over the bench like a cloud. It was like someone had opened a locker sealed from 05' and the bad karma leaked out. Driving to the game, frankly I expected that if the Wolves continued in this pattern it would be a blow out in favor of the Icehogs.

When I arrived at the Allstate the game was already two minutes old and what lovely sight greeted me? Not one but two Wolves in the Rockford crease waving their rumpuses in Antti Niemi's face.By the time I had gotten to my seat opened my bag Spencer Machacek had drilled the net for the first goal of the game. It would prove to be the first of 6 goals for the Wolves. Possibly the most amazing statistic of the game, that for 6 goals, 11 players awarded assists and three fights no Gordie Howe hat tricks were earned. Glory enough for all!

There is an easy explanation for the turnaround of play among the Wolves.It was rumored that Thrashers coach John Anderson basically told players on the parent club that unless improvements were made big changes were coming, and no one was safe. Player movments up and down would be possible, golaies could be coming and going and possible trade announcements would be forthcoming.
Linkage below:

How much for that nettie in the window? Kerie Lehentoen looks pretty good right now to these jaded eyes. Could the Wolves be looking forward to spending Christmas in warmer climates? Or have they finally woken up and jelled with their coach Granato, possibly after a few brutal practices this week? Well, a girl can dream.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Keystone Cops Hockey, Peoria out shoots Wolves 7:6

It was not a good night to be a nettie in Rosemont Wednesday. By the middle of the second period both teams were forced to pull their shell shocked goalies. Peoria's Ben Bishop was exchanged for Marek Schwartz after 29:05 minutes and Chicago's Robert Gherson limped to the box replaced by Dan Turple after 31:04. Now, that has to be an AHL record both teams replacing both goalies within 121 seconds of each other.

There are many fingers possibly being pointed in both locker rooms, at goalies, no question they had bad nights, the first goal Gherson let in, he looked like he had gone out for pizza he was so far out of the crease. The others he lacked defensive cover. The same could be said of Peoria. The refereeing of the game by Shaun Davis (31), was spotty at best, a controversial penalty shot would prove to be the winning goal. In short bad juju just flew all over the arena.

Tomorrow night the Wolves will face the Rockford Icehogs. They will need to shake off the loss and come out breathing fire to do well against their biggest rivals. Somehow I envision captain's practices until the team throws up.

Here are a couple of images of the debacle.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Morning, at Tim is good.

It's early on this last day of Thanksgiving weekend and being of the religious persuasion, I rose at the crack of dawn and drove to Tim Horton's for a cup of coffee and a pair of Tim Bits's 20's for the ride home. One for us and one for WK the penalty time keeper for the Wolves. The last time he had a box of Timmies the Wolves won so it has become a bit of a tradition to bring Timmies home when on the road. I tell the earnest young man behind the counter the destination of one of the boxes of Bit's and I don't think he believes me until I empty the box of the Timmies into a zip lock bag for the ride home. Then the moment comes, the XL coffee with cream and 4 Splenda is placed in my hand and it is to the table I go to enjoy what is arguably the finest and freshest cup of coffee in the world, OK, North America.

It has been four days since Kissane and I packed up the van had headed to Rochester to see the family on Wed for a weekend of turkey, family stories and not much hockey. Quite a change for us, although my niece Kristine did tell us about a league goalie she knew from Qswego State who's big mojo was to tape his stick in the nude in the locker room before games-TMI ! I did manage to catch a period of the Amerks-Manchester game on TV Thursday night. For a team that supposedly is in at the bottom they looked pretty good. Friday against Lake Erie they looked even better winning despite Karl Stewart , bless his heart getting a tripping penalty at the wrong time giving Cleveland a two man advantage. Rochester Goalie Chris Beckford -Tsu managed to stand on his head for two minutes and save the day. Something many of us can remember him doing from his time in Peoria.

My cup grows empty and I promised the family I would be back in an hour to have a last meal, pack the van and be on the road early as the weather forecast has bad tidings along the Great Lakes. With luck WK will have his box of Tim Bits at 3:00 at today's game, be nice to him and he just may give you one. Mine will be long gone by noon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Manchester Moncharchs come to Chicago, King them!

Last night the hockey action in the Allstate Arena turned ugly. The Manchester Monarchs came to town and dominated the Chicago Wolves from the opening puck drop, winning 7:2. Scoring twice on PP and one shortie, it was obvious they had come out to play hard against a team they hoped to see later in the year, possibly the Calder Cup finals. It was not Chicago goalie Dan Turple's night to shine, Coach Don Granato pulled him at 15:04 in the second and put crowd favorite Robert Gherson in place between the pipes. It would not be his karma to escape the Manchester front line as Scott Parce and Marty Murray would drill the final two goals in under his watch.

Manchester's 5th goal was scored by a familiar face from a favorite place, Justin Azevedo. At 5'7" and 183 pounds this W. Lorne Ontario native and Kitchner Ranger (04'-08') strutted his stuff as an Atlanta invitee at the Red Wing Rookie Tournament in Traverse City in 06'. Even as a 17 year old he was aggressive in a face off and in front of the net. It was a pleasure to see him on ice again, all be it in a uniform with a Kings crest on it.


The boys can shake off the loss with a holiday tomorrow. They board the team buss for Grand Rapids and the Griffs on Friday. No Black Friday shopping for you boys!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wolves Send Grand Rapids Packing3:6

The Wolves old and dear rivals the Grand Rapids were in town last night for a rare inter divisional game. Once upon a time Grand Rapids and the Wolves were the biggest of rivals. However since the redrawing of divisional lines years ago these two old rivals now see each other twice a year and the old feelings see more like old flames meeting at a bus stop rather than the regular brawls on ice of old. This time as old friends met it was the Wolves who shelled the Griffins goalies out of the net and sent them home packing 6:3. Her are some images of the game:


Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Zebras needed!

Ex- Wolf enforcer Andre Deveaux and current Tronto Marlie has received a 5 game suspension for his actions in a game last weekend against the Manitoba Moose.

As the event has been described Deveaux delivered a resounding but clean hit to Moose Nolan Bamgartner drilling him into the boards in font of the Manitoba bench. What happened next is what the suspension was given for, after the hit Deveaux has been described as "kneeing" Bamgartner as he lay on the ice, knocking his helmet off and kicking him in the face. Although he was able to return to the game Bamgartner suffered cuts to his face. Deveaux was given 2 minutes in the box for a roughing minor by referee Kyle Rehnar. Marlie coach Greg Gilbert wisely decided not to ice his enforcer for the remainder of the game.

Just as concerning as the hit and possible injury to the player involved is the speculation that the light penalty dealt on the ice is due to refree Kyle Rehnar not having a clear view of the incident. Again this brings up the argument for a second referee in the AHL. Until the league ponys up the cost for a second referee just like the big show it will be relegated to a bus league where incidents like this can continue to give the AHL it's often deserved "Slap Shot" reputation. Yes the AHL is the proving ground for coaches, players and refrees. It is past time for the standard of rules enforcement to be the same for the AHL as the NHL. If this truley is a devlopemental league, take devlopement seriously in all fcets of the game including the zebra herd.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Syracuse Crunch downs Wolves 4:2

I admit it when I'm wrong, the Wolves lost to the Crunch last night but, not only were they not spanked they notched two count em' two power play goals. Joe Motzko at 2:01 in the first period and Joey Crabb at 15:45 in the second. Showing the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a train for Chicago. However not to belabor the point both our young goalies need more of a back up, until these guys find their confidence the more experienced defence has to take it up several levels. Last night Robert Gherson looked decidedly lonely in the defensive zone as the water bottle popped and the light went on. He doesn't need his hand held but defence is a three man line.

Penalties last night were lopsided Kerry Fraser's son Ryan (14) was referee, Derek Sylvester and Jeff Walker served as linesmen. Chicago was tagged for 40 min/12 inf and Syracuse 20 min/10 inf. .Game tapes show an excited Chicago Coach Don Granato discussing the penalty to Syracuse center Nikota Filatov at 20:00 for elbowing with Fraser. Obviously something prompted the usually cool Granato to express himself passionately to the officiating staff at 20:00 in the third. It will be interesting to see if there is any footage of what caused the "elbowing" call and the ensuing exchange between coach and on ice officials.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How bad is the Chicago Wolves Power Play? Its so bad....


The Chicago Wolves Power Play is so bad they almost lost to the Rochester Americans a 2/11 team by going 0/6 on the PP in a SHOOT OUT.

It is time to look at the game plan here, something is very wrong.

The Syracuse Crunch now second the North (10/3) will not be so kind tonight this may be the outcome.

Hello is anyone else out there that has an idea how much the Wolves PP is lacking?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ondrej Pavlec- He there another shoe to drop?

Almost as I posted the last blog, Ondrej Pavlec was packing his bag. Not for the Rochester/Syracuse road trip this weekend but for a move south. It looks like Robert Gherson and Dan Turple will man the nets for the trip to the Flower city and Central New York . This not so much a surprise move by Atlanta begs two questions, what's going on with Lehtonen and how much for the Finn in the window? Atlanta is heavy in the net with prime talent and there is a sent of a trade in the southern breeze.

Powderhornhockey will do it's best to keep you posted in the revolving nettie doors between Chicago and Atlanta. This isn't as bad as 05' when they were on the verge of dressing a walk on from the boosters but the Wolves may get there yet. Minor league hockey, there is nothing like it in the world is there?

Monday, November 10, 2008

More revolving doors...

Don't get stuck in the revolving door guys! There are a few Wolves comings and goings I have been remiss on reporting. First and foremost Blueliner Boris Valibak has been called up and a long time coming it is too. As much as I hate to see the Wolves "Excitable Boy" leave for warmer climates he deserves the shot at the big show and I hope he sticks.

Brett Sterling AKA Sterls is back. The biggest theory circulating is that Atlanta is heavy on forwards. So they are,but it seems hard to believe that their isn't room for this scoring machine. Welcome back to Chicago Brett, you are appreciated here.

Ondrej Pavelec is back! Although Dan Turple and Robert Gherson did a good job keeping the ship afloat without the Wolves main nettie, it's good to have him back. There were a few too nervy moments for most fans liking without Pavs. Although seeing Gherson win in a shoot out yesterday in Manchester is a bodes well for the future, for we will loose the blue eyed boy Pavelec to Atlanta someday.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wolves Split Weekend series in Iowa, Tale of Three Goalies.

Halloween night the Wolves found themselves deep in the Iowa cornfields facing the rechristened Iowa Chops, the jokes about there name quickly stopped as the farm boys beat the Wolves 2: 1 in their first meeting of the season. Basic stats for the game are SOG for each team 28, PIMs Iowa 6 min/4 inf, Chicago 12 min/6 inf.

Saturday morning the Wolves woke with wishes for a change in fortune, they got what they wanted, goalie Ondrej Pavelec was called up to Atlanta to back strengthen the bench while Kari Lethenon recovers from a rumored "illness". Chicago's back up goalie Dan Turple would be between the pipes in Iowa for the night.

The bottom line is that in his first outing as a Wolves goalie Dan Turple did well, turning away 21 SOG, good enough for a 3:1 victory. Tonight back home in Rosemont the decision will be by Coach Granato to start Robert Gherson , last years back up or stick with Turple's hot hand.

Dan Turple has been with the Atlanta system for three years spending most of his time as the primary goalie with the Wolves farm team in Georgia. His previous service with the Wolves was as a back up to Fred Brathwaite in 2007 for the Hamilton series where although dressed did not see ice time.

Robert Gherson was a diamond in the rough that seemed to come out of nowhere last year in most fans eyes. He played a few games, always dressed and was a consistent positive force on the team. You could see him on the bench talking to other players. At the end of each game Gherson was shaking hands and high fiveing each player at the tunnel. Although not often on the ice his value on the team seemed to be else where and obvious. It will be interesting to see how his star rises with Pavelec out of town.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

1st place Belfast Giants fall to 9th place Hull Stingrays 6:3

It was not a good night to be a Giants fan in Belfast. Admittedly I was only able to join the game for the third period after what was described as a lack luster performance by the home team by the webcast announcers. The first place Giants needed to come out for the last period breathing fire and although they tried a few key mistakes sealed their fate for this Saturday night game. Goal five for the Stingrays was simply theirs for the taking, Giants, you just can't hang your goalie to to dry like that, a man needs some company in the defensive zone. The sixth was an ugly empty netter in the last seconds that sent the Giants back to the showers with heads hung low .

My guess the Belfast boys will be off to an early bed tonight and up for a Captain's practice first thing in the morning. Things will be back on course next game, player coach Steve Thorton likes to keep his Giants winning.

We miss you Stewie, our favorite agitator!

It's Saturday morning and as usual I'm at the computer catching up on the weeks photo editing. I have to admit to somewhat enjoying this tedious process. For often ideas come at me when I search through all the photos and sort them one by one, ultimately tossing a thousand or so a week into the trash bin. Today when editing last Sunday's Icehog game photos of Evan Brophy reminded me of a favorite Wolf from years ago. Brophy was yapping at the bench and as he was skating by and at his opposite when he was lining up during face, offs all classic Karl Stewart moves.

For those new to the Wolves or reading this blog Karl Stewart was a LW who played for the Wolves from 2003-06' he played with the spirit of a pond hockey player with clearly on his face. You could see his love for the game in every stride he took on the ice and it was a pleasure to watch him, When he returns to Chicago ice on February 11th with his new team the Rochester Amerks I pray this elan has not been diminished by his two years in the NHL. But there was something else about him, Stewie was pure trouble, an agitator on the ice, all yap his mouth moving all the time. Skating by the opposition bench, stealing the goalies water bottle and squirting himself down in celebration after a goal. He could make us laugh, cheer after one of his many goals and stop our hearts with a break a way that seemed to come from nowhere. No saint on the ice he often seemed to have a target on his back as far as the officiating staff were concerned and often was one of the leaders of the team in PIMs. In essence he was our bad boy and we loved our Stewie for it!

Since Stewart left the team in 06' the Wolves have lacked an adjator and it has seemed to be a missing element in the mix somehow. Yes, Boris Valibik does his best but he doesn't quite have the pure spice of the classic yappers. As the shopping season starts and trade rumors abound in the AHL please Kevin Cheveldayoff find the Wolves a good old fashioned yippy yapper, a nice small dog with lots of fight in him who can drive the other team to distraction . You know the one, he's the guy that reminds you of Spike, the poodle next door!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wolves Show no Mercy, No Quarter to Providence Bruins, Win 6:0

Life for players in the AHL is very different depending on which conference you play in. In the West where the Chicago Wolves are located the teams are accustomed to an aggressive travel schedule. Working life is frankly a series of practices and winning is often is as much of a product of maintaining training and focus on the road as work on the ice. In the East life is quiter, teams are usually separated by less than 100 miles and it is often joked that it is in players contracts that they must be tucked into their own beds every night with a cup of coco by the team equipment manager.

Every year at AHL league meetings it is the same script the West demands the East divisions start to travel west. The East cries poverty and since they are often the older teams in the league clout usually wins out. This year however a crack in the armour developed two teams are traveling west on quick tours and Western fans will finally get a chance to see the famous physicality of the Eastern game. Last night in the Allstate the famous eastern game did show up at times but the west dominated for the entire game.

It is easy to describe this game, first period goalie Tuukka Rask let in the first goal at 1:09 in the first period, he looked like he didn't know how the puck got there. The next two goals got in the net the same way. At the break Providence coach Rob Murray pulled Rask in favor of Kevin Regan. The Baby Bruins then had their best frame of the night and kept the Wolves scoreless. However, the road weary Bruins let down in the third period and the Wolves eager to make a stand against a possible playoff opponent went for the kill and got in three more. Boris Valibik had a brilliant night, with two assists, goal and a booming dinger he was given the second star of the game. Many more games like this and he will be called up to Wolves parent club in Atlanta before Christmas. Boris you will be missed.

Here are some images of the game.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sometimes you see poetry in motion , or was it just great defence...

Serendipity, is a great muse. I often complain about the endless hours it takes to winnow out the 600-800 images taken at every game to the 40-60 ultimately on file. But sometimes the process can lead to absolutely delightful discoveries, this morning was one of those moments. It was third period of last Saturdays Peoria's game and I had placed the camera on continuous shoot as usual. There was a moment of action at goal where Pavelec was out of the crease and the defence had to take it up several notches the following is what happened over the next several seconds. The photos are all as untouched and as taken.

Nice work Artus Kulda, Spencer Machack and Jordan Lavallee!