Friday, May 30, 2008

Wolves win first in Calder Cup series , 5:4

The night started with a familiar ritual marked by old superstition. The league was there to present the conference championship trophy to the Wolves, sort of a hollow presentation, for none on the winning team was willing to touch the silver. A long held superstition is that once you touch a lesser trophy in a contest that's the one you will ultimately end up with. As we all know it is quite an honour to take home a conference championship, however everyones eyes are on the lovely Calder at this point. Maybe Mr. Andrews should have waited until the end of the series and presented it to the Wolves before the final ceremony for who ever takes the final silver home. Just a thought, athletes are a superstitious lot, deal with it!

Shortly after this awkward trophy presentation the game started in earnest. It was fierce, both teams came out fighting from the get go. However the Wolves seemed to have John Curry's number in the first frame scoring a total of three times. at 7:15 (Jesse Schultz), 15:06 (Kevin Doell)and 18:31 (Jordan Lavalle) The Wolves went into the locker room to a standing ovation and the Baby pens with eyes that looked like saucers. Whatever WBS coach,Todd Richards said to his team to bolster them must of worked because it didn't take log for the Pens to answer. At 1:11 Alex Goligoski fired one past Ondrej Pavelec and a second followed at 2:26 by Kurtis McLean silencing the previously exuberant crowd. Yes, there was a reason the Baby Pens were here and for the rest of the game they would be happy to show everyone in the Allstate on and off of the ice just why.

For the rest of the game the crowd was treated to a nail biting, palpitation inducing period and a half ending in a hard fought win just the way playoff hockey should be! Before the game I confidently predicted that the Wolves would take the series in 6. After seeing these two teams square off and feel each other out. My more informed opinion now is that the winner will be the team that simply plays 60 minutes+ of hard hockey and stays out of the box. Four out of the nine goals scored last night were on PP. The Wolves impressive PK may have met it's match in the Baby Pens- just stay out of the box guys and save the legs for the dump and chase.

Now here are some images of Calder Cup 2008' Game 1, all rights are reserved, images are the property of Jane Rickard and Powderhornhockey.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The morning before the Big Dance!

This morning all over the Chicago area Wolves fans are rising, counting the hours until game time and wondering just like kids on Christmas Eve if they can make it til puck drop...Somewhere along route 90 is a bus load of some of the most dedicated hockey fans in the AHL the Wilkes Barre Scranton Boosters. The famed 7th man of the line and a force to be reckoned with. I for one can't wait to see these professional road trippers again, they are some of the best fans in hockey and bring knowledge and infectious enthusiasm to any arena they visit. You can be sure I will be capturing a few images of these folks for their friends back home.

On a historical note, although most of us clearly remember the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans two years ago. In 1972 Hurricane Agnes came through Northern Pennsylvania and Central New York, inundating the towns of Corning, Horse Heads and Wilkes Barre, 117 people were killed . It took years for these towns to recover physically and economically. To those of us in the Midwest and West we often think of hurricanes as a problem of the south. However, for those of us old enough to remember those long days in June 1972 when everyone in Pennsylvania and New York cancelled weddings,graduations, prayed and prepared to do the dirty work ahead we know better. As one of the legions of volunteers sent by various organizations in 1972 to clear,clean and rebuild these small cities the the memories I carry of devastation wrought by rising water are unforgettable. The work and dedication to bring a community, it's heart and livelihood back after such an event speaks volumes of the character of it's citizens.

Wilkes Barre is a town that survived and thrived through mining disasters, strikes, flood, now has a great hockey team and boosters that will be arriving on our doors in the next few hours. As a Chicago fans let's treat them well and give them great memories to take back to the gentle hills of Pennsylvania with them.

The site below has many photos of the flood damage and cleanup after Agnes in WB.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

05/23/08 Wolves 4, Marlies 2, bring on Game 1!

Wolves 4, Marlies 2. Off to the links for the guys from the beautiful city of Toronto.

The Marlies came out strong for 45 minutes and it looked like there was going to be a game 6 or even 7 next week. Then at 5:39 in the third with the score tied 2:2, Chicago enforcer Andre Deveaux got 15 minutes for kneeing and a game misconduct to boot. Surprisingly this turned out to be the key play of the game, a penalty and the teamwork of the PK. The emotions of a game usually turn on a fight or a big hit but last night it was a 15 minute PK that held the Marlies that turned the tide. Not only did they fail to score on this opportunity but the game turned. At 14:52 Wolves Captain Daryn Haydar bagged the bird and the fourth into an empty net by Kevin Doell at 19:18 sealed the deal. The Marlies after coming back in game four are sleeping late and arranging for tomorrows tee times. At this level it happens quickly, that's why they call a series stacked 3:1 sudden death.

For the stats hungry among you, Terry Koharski called 22 min/11 inf on Toronto, Chicago 13 min/10 inf. Justin Pogge in goal for TO turned away 10/22, Ondrej Pavelec caught 23/25 for the night. Toronto goals were scored by Brent Aubin and Andy Woznieski.

As I have said before the difficult thing about sport at this level is that in the end somebody has to go home. Thank you to the Marlies for a great effort and leaving it all on the ice.

For my friends in Belfast, a few Pogge shots to keep you going till the Maple Leafs drop the puck this October...

Bring on game one! Is it game time yet?


Thursday, May 22, 2008

05/21/08' Marlies fight back! Take first game of series.

Last night it seemed a different team had slipped in to the Marlies dressing room. Yes, there were the undisciplined penalties but they were playing like there was no tomorrow and for them it was true. A loss last night would have sent the boys from The Golden Horseshoe home to the links. Looking back at the series against Syracuse their win should come as no surprise, they have battled back before. Still the question remains was this a last rally for pride to avoid a sweep? Or was it the start of the momentum needed to turn the series around. For the Marlies to progress on to the Calder they will need to win all three remaining games in the series. It has been done twice in living memory,both by Northern Division teams, the Rochester Amerks and the Adirondack Frostbite. The third time could be a charm for the Marlies, however, they will have to crank up the discipline and cut the breaks in the bin to do it.

Basic stats for the game, Toronto Coach Gilbert finally game Justiin Pogge a chance last night starting him in goal. Pogge turned away 30 of 31 SOG. Chicago's workhorse Pavalec started the game and was pulled for Robert Gherson in the third frame, Paves stopped 33 of 38 Gherson 2/1 SOG. Dean Morton thought by some to be the "best referee in the AHL" at this time called 26 PIM for 9 infractions on the Marlies, 18 PIMs and 9 infractions on the Wolves.

The teams next meet at 7:30 in Rosemont on Friday, a new arena, 48 hours rest, we will see what happens. Rally or route, in the end somebody always goes home.

The following images are from Game 2 05/18/2008.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wolves notch 3 bullets, game three 4:1 Wolves

Toronto goalie Scott Clemmenson is a lucky man, he has a boss that believes in him no matter what. Last night despite a 4:1 loss he remained in goal for all three periods. Still the question remains will Greg Gilbert start Justin Pogge in net tonight? If the Baby Leafs loose tonight the lights will go out on the season for them and the Chicago Wolves will advance to the Calder Cup finals with the winner of the Wilkes Brarre and Portland series.
The Wolves have better win tonight, Kissaane has been wearing his "lucky playoff tee shirt" since the playoffs began. Pleeease will everyone send positive thoughts that we can end this series and the thing can at least be aired out!

As it was a road game there are no photos from last night, I'll share an image of Sundays game. A full post of game 2 images will follow this afternoon.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thanks for the Memories, Wolves/Ice Hogs series...

The series ended last Tuesday night. In the last few days my in box has been filling up with notes from Rockford and Chicago all saying pretty much the same thing, great series, both teams left it all on the ice, too bad one team had to loose. It is the nature of sport that one person or team is defeated, even if it is not bettering a personal best. Last Tuesday night was the end of a great series. Both teams played well, coaches poured out their hearts and fans living only 90 miles apart traveled with their teams and frankly the atmosphere in the arenas was incredible. I have been looking at the hundreds of images on my hard drive. Perhaps in an effort to say goodbye to a singular fortnight of hockey but I can't quite let it go without sharing some of the faces and moments of the Chicago Wolves and the Rockford Ice Hogs 07' playoffs.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wolves Draw First blood, defeat Marlies 4:1

In the first match up between the Chicago Wolves and the Toronto Marlies in the simi-finals of the Calder Cup series the Wolves defeated the Marlies solidly in their first meeting in several months. Scott Clemmensen in goal for the Marlies made 28 saves out of 32 shots in the defeat. Clemmensen's fault of the night was leaving a five hole open the size of a volley ball for second and third frame. The Marlie's sole goal on Chicago's Ondrej Pavelec came in the third period, high and right making it over the pads into the net. Pavelec turned away 26 SOG for the night.

Jason Krog had a night to shine, Chicago's scoring master of the first line notched hat trick. Krog, one of the hardest working and personable members of the Wolves has already penned a contract to leave the US for the Russia next year with line mate Joel Kwiatkowski. They both will be missed,but first there is the unfinished business of the pursuit of the AHL's Calder Cup and a ring to take with them to Mother Russia.

Referee for the night Fredrick L'Ecuever, continued in the "no blood,no foul" playoff hockey tradition, totaling for the Leafs 18 PIM/9 infractions, Wolves 12 PIM/6 infractions. For once when the Baby Leafs came to town we did not need larger sin bins. That may change tomorrow night with the next meeting of the two teams at the Allstate arena at 3:00.

Here are the visuals of the game...


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wolves progress, a worthy opponant goes home for the summer.

Last night the Chicago Wolves got the job done right, played 60 minutes of disciplined hard hitting hockey and were rewarded with a progression to the semifinals of the Calder Cup run. They will face the Toronto Marlies on Friday at the Allstate in a 2-2-2-1 series. It was a pity that the Ice Hogs had to be defeated for this to happen, the western division is arrogant enough to imagine that they are the toughest division in the AHL and the winners often go on to take the cup. It was the first year of AHL competition for the Rockford Ice Hogs and to add the Calder Cup banner to the last years UHL Colonial Cup banner in the Metro’s rafters would have been sweet. But it was not to be for the upstarts from the west. As the Wolves start on the next leg of competition they can look back on a hard fought series that prepared them for the Marlies of the frozen north.

Bring on the next level!


Wolves win, progress on to round 3, Jordan Hendry returns to ice!

Due to the importance of both stories out of last nights game they will be subjects of different pieces.

Jordan Hendry Returns to the Ice!

Whether the team and owners know it or not there is a community of nurses, EMTs, Paramedics and the like in the stands that watch the injury reports and rejoice when an injured player returns to the ice. Last night we were dancing, Rockford's Jordan Hendry, a young man who suffered a fractured skull and facial injuries last month was on the ice playing with fire in his eyes and looking great.

Jordan, if your eyes ever see this know there were many prayers answered last night, seeing you skate was in many ways sweeter than the Wolves win. It is with so much pleasure I can post the following images of Jordan Hendry contributing to the Ice Hogs strong 60 minute effort last night.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How much time is left?

One of the regular features of attending Wolves games at the Allstate Arena is the guy in 204 who shouts out with a minute 5 seconds left in the period, "how much time is left in the period" The house announce answers "there is one minute left in the period, the crowd replies"thank you". It's a nice custom, hockey fans are so polite. Today as I write there is one game left to play in the series of the Rockford IceHogs and the Chicago Wolves, time is running out in this roller coaster ride also. The Wolves beat the Hogs handily in game six on Sunday in Rockford insuring a game seven.

Game six wrap up is short and sweet, the score was 4:3 Ice Hogs scored in all three period, well done. The Wolves scored all four goals during the second. Hogs discipline broke down and penalties followed allowing four goals on power plays. Rule #1 in playoff hockey, stay out of the box. Rule #2 if your opponent is in the box, capitalise on mistakes. Third period was tightly fought with the Wolves hanging on to their lead by tenacious play. In the closing seconds of the game there were unscheduled fireworks. A total of 160 PIMs were handed out including 20 for a game misconduct, "Coach Obscenity" on Rockford's Mike Haviland.

Indeed, hockey is a passionate game, played by the passionate!

Now bring on game 7!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Do or die for the Chicago Wolves, Hogs win in the Wolves Den

There was no joy in Mudville Friday night when the home team lost in a blowout involving some of the prettiest goals ever seen in a playoff game.

What does this photog know after looking through 1200 odd images this morning? The stats may not show it but Joe Motzko, Joey Crabb and Kevin Doell are hustling for all their lives are worth. Game 6 is going to be a ring tailed tooter and Kissane and I will be there!

Here are a few images of the game.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

05/06/08, Hogs win second game at home 3:2 at home!

Yes, Virgina there will be a game 5 in the Wolves-IceHogs series at the Allstate Arena on Friday and dare I say it game six in Rockford on Mothers day. Tonight in stark contrast to Sundays snooze fest both teams came out ready to rock and roll. Moments into the first period the familiar sound of palpable hits as players checked each other into the boards resounded through out the arena. The crowd, 2405 strong consisted of only the most dedicated fans. The cheering from this partisan crowd produced such an amazing migraine inducing din that one would think 10,000 souls occupied the barn. The home team responded to the energy produced by the crowd adding a seventh man to each line.

First period started out ripe with promise for a hot game, however after the first 10 minutes the Wolves meters seemed to run out ending in a one goal lead by the IceHogs. Second period the Wolves were simply out played, the frame ended in a 3:0 lead for the home team. Hog players are as one fan put it are" doing more to get to the puck than we have seen before, putting their bodies on the line." She is correct the Hogs are playing like each game is their last and that attitude is one that will bring the Calder home. A third period rally by Brian Fahey and Jesse Schultz brought the score to 3:2 at 13:38 and OT seemed within sight. But a shot at a new game was not to be for the Wolves. Despite an impressive effort the seconds of the last minute of play ticked by without the puck finding the net. For the Wolves to make it past Rockford they are going to have to take it several steps higher. Staying out of the box like they did in game one is imperative, when down a man, the PK has to step up. When on the PP like the Hogs they will have to have the ganas to make every move a possibility. No more digging for the puck in corners and a simple dump and chase, the Hogs gave up on that two games ago. It is a happy thought at our dinner table that we will be cheering on and covering whoever wins this series. But please guys, as I have said before, Hogs win good, Wolves win better. However, if play keeps up like the last two games the Hoggers will deserve it more, Wolves make them earn every game! Wednesday night the Wolves showed the Hogs their bellies for 40 minutes and came away with the loss, that will only earn you first crack at tee times.

I'll say it again, this series is going a full seven games and the winner will be the first one to win in the other teams house. The Hogs have yet to win this season in the Allstate. The Wolves have a SO win to their credit in the Metro, yes Virgina, this is going to be a down to the wire series. Merry Christmas to us all!