Monday, March 24, 2008

Kevin Doell, the bunny feet are at it again...

One of the primary joys of being a follower of the minor league game is the chance to watch young players develop. I can think of no better example of this than Kevin Doell, a player I once described as "looking like everyone's little brother" . Four years ago he had the roughest of starts in Gwenette, breaking his jaw not once but twice during his rookie season. The next fall he was up with the Wolves, still small, scrapping and looking for all the world like a target for the bad boys. Fans watched Doell develop over the next two years, all heart in a small package. This year everything has seemed to come together, off season conditioning made a noticeable difference, looking at photos it seems as if his physique has caught up with his heart, at 5'11" 189 pounds, solid center of the Wolves first line. Kevin Doell, yet another Wolf who deserves a full shot at the NHL's big show, will he get it? Or will he go on like so many other smaller talented players before him to the European Elites.

The highest complement I have ever paid a professional athlete was that when watching him skate he made me feel like a kid at 2:20 running home and strapping them on, a palpable moment of after school joy. I could tell a second Wolf this, Kevin, you have it, the ability to show us just why we teach this game on frozen ponds to our children. There is joy in your stride and line, don't ever loose it!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Guillaume Desbiens sustains shoulder injury in Gwinette

Last night Wolves RW Guillaume Desbiens sustained a head and shoulder injury.

From the

"Gwinnett forward Guillaume Desbiens will be out approximately three weeks after suffering a slight concussion and separating his shoulder during the Gladiators' 4-1 victory over the Florida Everblades Thursday at Gwinnett Arena. At 12:10 of the second period, Desbiens crumpled to the ice when he and Everblades' forward Jarret Lukin collided in the faceoff circle inside Gwinnett's zone.

Play was stopped for nearly eight minutes while medical personnel attended to the fallen Gladiator. "At first, he (Desbiens) couldn't remember what happened," Gwinnett coach Jeff Pyle. "But, then, it all started coming back to him. The good news is that he's fine."

While Lukin skated away unscathed Desbiens left the ice on a stretcher. Stitches were also applied to close a gash that opened up when his head hit the ice. To fill Desbiens spot, the Gladiators have signed Walker McDonald, a 6-2, 196 pound right winger who has played for the ECHL's Toledo Storm, Charlotte Checkers and Columbia Inferno"

We can only wish this fine young man well and a speedy recovery.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Guillaume Desbeins, with the Gwinette Gladiators hopfully just for now.

Few players have faces that love the camera like Guillaume Desbiens, a young man we have seen too few times on Chicago ice. Before I descend into full bunny mode lets talk about what makes this French Canadian so special. Two years out of the tough Quebec Juniors as a RW he seems to have been caught in a farm system rich in forwards. Causing him to seemingly languish on the pine in Chicago or to keep sharp in Gwinette with the Wolves farm team the Gladiators. For what it is worth my personal observations on him as a player, is he is a rare offensive player who has the tough attitude of a blueliner. Desbiens skating skills are solid, he is fast enough to make it difficult to photograph him, as beautiful as his "line" is on the ice. Although his name does not appear on the Wolves "clear day" roster such lists are not carved in stone. One can wish something positive happens to bring a young player with as much of promise as Guillaume Desbiens up from the south for the remainder of the season and playoff run.

Mom and Dad Debiens this one is for you, Happy Easter!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ode To Boris II, He got the call up at last!

I have to say it loud and proud, it's hard to type with little bunny feet!

Yesterday it was announced that the Wolves "Excitable Boy" Boris Valibik got the call from Atlanta Thrashers Don Waddell, about time too. Congratulations Boris, as the Thrash wrap up their season we will see you back in maroon and gold in time for the playoffs. Strut your stuff proudly, you deserve it!


Monday, March 17, 2008

It sometimes comes down to relationships around the ice...

Two weeks ago I was covering the IIT/ Blackhawks Alimni game. During the second period a goalie and a defenseman took the ice for IIT. For the next twenty minutes it was a pleasure to watch these two play. They moved like a pair of dancers, knowing instinctively how the other was going to respond to challenges. It was simply beautiful. At the break I managed to find the nettie, yes, they had played together in college and were friends. The more we talked the clearer it dawned on me how important these relationships can be , it's not just "team chemistry" that's a catch phrase. It's the glue, the heart, that holds a team together, or not, during a long season and longer playoff run. As the 07'-08' season turns into the final run of the first half, it will be these intangibles that make the second happen.

As my Canon sits in it's case while my shoulder heals, this is the first wider angle shot, Relationships, on and around the ice....


Friday, March 14, 2008

Wolves -v- Peoria Rivermen, another game in hand for the hungry Wolves.

I'm a bit under the weather these days due to rotator cuff surgery on Tuesday,therefore my words will be brief for a couple of weeks. Believe it or not I'm looking forward to becoming just a fan again while my arm rests in a sling and not watching the game through the lens as I have become accustomed. A view wider than a wide angle lens can only improve my perspective. Keep checking for blog entries, for I will continue to post, current game photos will be courtesy of Patrick Kissane, however, I plan to be back shooting in plenty of time for the Wolves and Hogs playoff runs.

Now, for some images of the Rivermen game....


Monday, March 3, 2008

03/02/08 Baby Bruins/Chicago Wolves vie for first place in the AHL

Tonight I'll let the images tell the story, it was an intense three frames of hockey. Both teams knew what was on the line, it was their first meeting in history, the Baby Bruins number one in the AHL with 89 points meeting the Chicago Wolves in 2nd place in the AHL with 87 points. The meeting on the ice would be more of a prelude to the second season, the winner of the contest would possess an important psychological advantage . The certain knowledge that they could beat the other in a head to head competition. Last night the Wolves won the prize, they beat the Providence Bruins with grit, teamwork and consistent skillful play. Now bring it on, the final point hunt of the end of the season, let's get er' done and figure out who makes it to the big dance!

Somedays you just get lucky, a hockey double header!

Sunday March 2nd I knew was going to be a big day, it was going to be the first day I had covered two games in two locations on the same day.The first, a BlackHawks/IIT alumni game benefiting the American Diabetes Association was to prove to be a tough technical assignment and one of the easiest personally I have ever had.

After getting thoroughly lost on the way and being rescued by a hockey Mom digging out her driveway I arrived moments after the anthem. The representatives of the ADA welcomed me and reassured me everything was fine and the fun had just begun. I entered the rink and started searching for the lighting "sweet spots" to work in. Finding them I set up the mono pod,camera and set to work recording the two teams, gathered today to raise funds for a worthy cause. The first thing that struck me was faces of the players, I have never photographed so many players who wore smiles the entire time they were playing. Yes, each team was trying to win but it was definitely the friendliest competition this photographer has ever had the pleasure to record. The second thing was the lack of helmets on a few of the players, naked heads! Something I had not seen since my earliest Sabres games in the 70's. It may have been a soft touch game but it felt more than a little bit of the old time stuff with the bare heads.

In the end the IIT alumni gained the bragging rights that they had been bested by a group of Ex-NHLers, no shame in there, more smiles and photos of the winning team that included everyone including the refs. It was such a happy occasion I bet the sorest muscles the guys found this morning have to be from smiling so much.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Old time rivals, even without Coach Claude Noel, those Ads are TOUGH!

I'll just say it outright the Wolves lost 5:3 last night to their oldest rivals the Milwaukee Admirals. The game was closer than the score, easy to say but actually true, in the last two minutes of the game Wolves fans came close to seeing a heart attack last minute rally that almost put the game into OT. Not to be, Milwaukee's new coach this year Lane Lambert, has followed the tradition of scrappy teams that have a consistent check combined with a tough attitude. Every year it seems the Wolves have a healthy lead and then you check the standings and like a semi in your rear view the Admirals are coming for you in the first or second round of the playoffs. The silly season of posturing and running for the playoffs has started, what fun!