Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hans Brinker and his Silver Skates

I just can't resist, here are more images of the McCrudden collection of antique skates and blades. I only wish these images did justice to the beauty of the collection .


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where do we go from here?

Last week of March, with two weeks left in the regular hockey season and things look just as tight as they have for the last two months. The Milwaukee Admirals having taken the bit in their teeth early in the season have 99 points tonight and have clinched a playoff spot and home field advantage. Houston Aeros and the Peoria Rivermen are tied for 2nd place with 82 points and Rockford in 3rd with 78 Chicago 4th with 79. The Iowa Chops can't be counted out with 76. Right now the only thing for certain with a race this close there is a very good chance there will be a playoff game for hockey junkies to watch with in a comfortable driving distance of Chicago in early June. The final two weeks of the season will tell us the story. Will Peoria a team who has been an also ran in the AHL finally become the contender they were in the UHL? Rockford will they like last year peak during the playoffs and become a very serious combatant for whoever they face? Houston? Always the bridesmaid time for them to wear white? Milwaukee, they could take it all this year, but weird things happen in playoff runs, never count out our friend Serendipity.

On the local front the Wolves played two games this weekend splitting the outcome. Saturday winning against the Quad City Flames 3:2 in a shoot out.Ondrej Pavlec the Wolves's work horse of a goal tender turned away 29, ( 2/8 SO) SOG while QC's Leland Irving turned away 29 (3/8 SOG). Referee Fredric L'Ecuyer(#49) called a minimum of penalties remarkable for the amount of lumber that seemed to be observed to be flying around during the game. However, the game continued at a playoff pace and the boys played on. It seems that like the Wolves have noticed the calender and if they wish to play into late April extra effort is needed now.

Tonight the Milwaukee Admiral's came to town and the Wolves did not roll over and show them their collective bellies. Although the Wolves lost to the Admirlas 5:2 they were in the fight until the end. The most outstanding feature of the game was Milwaukee's Mike Santorielli's hat trick. Somehow it always disappoints me when no hats are thrown for an out of town player, still it is always a treat to see a hat trick of any kind . Referee Ian Croft called a total of of 18 mim for 9 infractions for Milwaukee and 16 minutes for 8 infractions for Chicago. He was backed by linesmen Bryan Pancinh and Roger Behining.

Linesman Al Steinsland who frequently covers Wolves games is reported to still be out with an undisclosed injury he suffered in Fridays game in Rockford. His cool head, confidence and poise on the ice will be missed until his return.

Another surprise that was on hand at the AllState was a display of Wolves Skating Coach Kenny McCudden's large collection of antique skates, equipment, books and blades . As a child who loved the story Hans Brinker I was enthralled looking at the collection . Of course, there are images to share......


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Oh Canada! Hamilton Wins 3:2 in Shoot Out!

Chicago Wolves played markedly improved hockey against the Hamilton Bulldogs and were rewarded for their efforts by taking it to a shoot out and pocketing a point for the weekend. Giving the Wolves 74 points or tying them for 4th place with Rockford and 2 points out of second. Rockford has three more games to play on the schedule than the Wolves against the Aeros, Peoria, Iowa and San Antonio all teams which are contenders or would love to play spoiler. The Wolves have a comparably easier schedule playing Milwaukee 3 times Peoria,QC and closing against Rockford. Using the schedule as a crystal ball the Wolves are looking to the rest of the division to bloody themselves in a chicken fight over 2-4th . Meanwhile Milwaukee sits pretty and secure only to think about who they will meet in the first round. The Wolves meanwhile need to stick to the basics, stay out of the penalty box, 60 minutes of hockey, play hard or it will be tee times for Chicago on April 12th.

It's always a good time when the Bulldogs come to town. Several years ago their booster club followed the team on a weekend swing and a bus load of fans filled a section of the Allstate. Including several great road ambassadors like the "Cookie Lady" who baked hundreds of graham cracker dog biscuit cookies for the Chicago fans. I got to meet her in Chicago and in Hamilton of the Calder Cup Semi Finals two years ago. The Hamilton boosters are a great group of hockey first fans, they were missed last night and not just for the great cookies. Maybe next year when the economy is a bit better and we all are traveling more.

Hamilton drew first blood with a goal by Mike Glumac at 4:30 in the first. Chicago answered with a PP goal by Chad Denny at 18:25 a boomer that put the crowd on it's feet,he was assisted by Jamie Rivers and Spencer Machacek. Brett Skinner put Chicago ahead at 2:35 in the third, assists by Clay Wilson and Joe Motzko and at 3:44 Hamilton's Yannick Webber would tie the game and overtime became a reality. Hamilton's nettie Marc Denis did a great job between the pipes turning away 38 SOG. During the SO he did some amazing work, none more than his reading of Clay Wilson stopping that goal attempt cold. So many SO are simple skill competitions last night's was cut above thanks to Denis and Wilson they were both totally focused in that moment.

Here are some images of the game.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wolves Gored by Manitoba Moose 6:3

It was a game that started out with the of roar three goals in three minutes. Two for Chicago's Spencer Machachek at 1:44 and 3:33, Manitoba got into the action with Mark Cullen striking first only .33 seconds out of the gate. The crowd smelled excitement, hard hitting and dare I say it a hat trick? Well, there was hard hitting a plenty, but Chicago just seemed to run out of legs mid way in the second period against the Moose. For a game that started with such promise it ended in a whimper of a lopsided score.

There were a couple of bright spots during the pre-game warm ups I had a chance to watch Moose Assistant Captain skate. Not only does Nolan Baumgartner have a great presence on the ice he managed to pass a puck to every kid in the mid section with a smile and a wink. Nice work he made several kids nights by his actions, that's another example of leadership on ice all be it a softer one.

Chad Denny got out for a few shifts when he hit the ice for his first he introduced himself to Manitoba in his typical manor with two resounding hits. The kid plays like he is fighting for a roster spot, although Denny does not appear on the "Clear Day Roster" for the playoffs he can play in the event of an injury to a player on the clear day. Since it is likely that an injury is possible, it seems a shame a check and a shot like Denny's should be black aced. Since people with more hockey smarts than I make these roster decisions can they explain it to me? It seems there is so much talent warming the bench like this every year and that's this photog's rant on the subject.

Here are some images of the game.


Monday, March 16, 2009

New Trier wins Women's and Men's 2008'BlackHawk Cup

At the United Center it was all new Trier, Women's and Men's the Women defeated Loyola Academy 4:0 and the men 3:2, it was a tough night to be a Loyola student.

This was a high school game full of passion and energy, not a place for wordy analysis but a time for lots of photos if there was one. So let the good times roll these are the good times!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chicago Beats Milwaukee Admirals 5-4 in Shoot Out!

Leaving the game last night I had already had this entry written in my head, little did I know that when arriving home a computer glitch would cause the photos that would be needed to be lost and along with it most of the power of the argument. Oh well, it is one of the prerogatives of the blogger to be blatantly biased on this bright Sunday morning I am going to embrace a bit of that purgative.

The job of the linesmen and the referees are difficult the amount of physical training necessary for the position is almost equal to that of the players. Then there is the confidence and the poise necessary to know the rules, understand the application and the gray areas to know when to let something slide, swallow the whistle and when to step in. There is a season ticket holder who sits by us, Kieth, who is a retired linesman. Talking to him at games has increased my understanding and respect for these watchers and shepards of the game. However, I also have a lowered tolerance for shall we say the referees that have been with the AHL, a development league for players and referees for two or more years and just don't seem keep up with the learning curve. Mores the pity when lack of control of the tone of the game results in players injuries. Injuries happen at any time but seem to happen with more frequency when players either seem to sense a loss of control or lack of confidence in the referee.

Last night the Chicago Wolves hosted the Milwaukee Admirals, historically these teams have always had physical encounters. Historically even their fans have had physical encounters, in short it's an exciting atmosphere at most Wolves/Admirals games. Last night was no exception , first period started out with a bang Riley Holsapfel scoring first for Chicago at 1:33. Mike Santoreli answered for Milwaukee at 2:18. The first penalties were awarded to Milwaukee's Cal O'Riley, and Kelsey Wilson involving an incident where Wilson stood over Chicago's Scott Lehman as he lay prone on the ice and as he attempted to rise Willson struck him across the shoulders with his stick three times. Referee Terry Kohraski awarded Willson 2 minutes for roughing and 2 for cross checking. Cal O'Riley 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct for adding his opinion on the matter. It is possible the treatment of this incident and the light penalty could of contributed to the general roughness of the game? That is this simple photographers musing.

The following minutes of the game were no doubt exciting, both teams pushed each other to the limit and I have some stunning images to show it. Stevie Martins Chicago's #26 played like his hair was on fire and showed us just why so many fans hope he plays as long as he wants in a Wolves uniform. SOG Drew McIntire for Milwaukee faced 31 for 27 saves and Ondrej Pavlec for Chicago 34 for 30 saves. In total for the night Penalties were evenly handed out, Milwaukee 24 minutes for 12 infractions and Chicago 29 minutes for 9 infractions. However neither team acted like angels on skates, linesmen Al Stensland and Brian Panchic did a great job separating and escorting players to opposite corners.

Enough of thee words, on to the images!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Columbus BlueJackets Goalie Wade Dubielewicz Knotches First NHL Win in 5-3 Victory.

Wade Dubielewicz the Columbus BlueJackets up defended his teams goal all the way to victory tonight at the United Center and in doing so earned his first NHL victory. To take the winning puck home Dubielewicz had to face 30 SOG of which he made 27 saves. Well done for his first start since February 6th, as the NHL's fast pace does not allow for the shaking out of rust from tail feathers.

Chicago goaltender Cristobal Huet faced 22 SOG for 17 saves. He was not appearing to have his best night of the year on the ice. His partner in goal Nikolai Khabibulin has returned from IR after aggravating an old groin injury and is expected to start on Sunday against the NY Islanders. He did suit up tonight for the game if needed however was not iced .

As regular readers of the blog may have guessed it was a night of NHL action for the usual minor league junkies. I have to admit it we have yet to find "our seats" in the United Center it is a big, beautiful hockey cathedral. Finding our personal sight line at at NHL prices is a daunting task. However I think the search is going to be one we will in the end we will enjoy. It was gratifying to see so many players that we have been watching develop from rookie camp and the IceHogs. Every single one of them looked great.

Last night as I was assembling the camera a group of old fans sitting behind us greeted their guests who had not been to a Hawks game in some time. The first words to them were"Isn't it great to see this place full again?" Then the playoff banter began behind us, it kept up for two hours. Ok Rocky Wirtz, well done, in a little over a year you have come a very long way. The town is buzzing about the teams playoff chances, Hawks wear is again visible on the streets and the house is filling. Frankly, I'm impressed, I was hopeful, but I had doubts that you could pull it off. However you put good team together and made some great decisions, including putting games on TV. With the Hawks coming alive again after their long sleep and the vibrant AHL rivalry between the Rockford IceHogs and the Chicago Wolves. Yes, it looks like Chicago is becoming a hockey town again.
As always her are some images of the game.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spoiler Alert! Iowa Chops take 2 points, Beat Chicago 2:1

Last night at the Allstate in a close hard fought game the Iowa Chops defeated the Chicago Wolves 2:1 making the role of spoiler far more likely for the newly christened Chops. As of last nights games the standings are Milwaukee still running away with first place, 89 points, Houston with 73, Hogs 70, Chicago 69 and the Rivermen in fourth with 68. All these teams have crowded schedules this weekend, come Monday morning the picture could look quite different for one or more of these organizations.

The game it's self was fast paced with referee Terry Koharasky calling a minimum of penalties for each side. Several times during the night both goalies were joined in the net by several players of each uniform yet only once was goalie interference called. Iowa goals were scored at 16:23 By Brendan Michaelson, and at 10:44 in the third by Ryan Dingle with an assist by ex wolf Chad Pinchaud. The sole Wolves goal notched during the second period was scored by Riley Holzapfel , Alex Brooks and Joe Moztko were credited with assists and a pretty thing it was too. Chops nettie David LeNeveau never had a chance to stop that bullet.

In the revolving door Chad Denny and Tomas Popsil has been riding the Georgia shuttle in the last week with both listed as healthy scratches last night. Brett Sterling is back and skating well after being out with a reported injured hand and Stevie Martins is also being iced. Welcome back guys.

Here are some images of the game.