Sunday, May 24, 2009

And now for Something Completely Different...

Covering hockey brings you lots of surprises, every game is a new challenge, every player a new subject. But come late spring and hockey season ends a short hiatus begins until the summer rookie camps begin. What to cover, what to keep the old juices flowing. This year Kissane and have two great opportunities both in women's professional sports, the first I will start the discussion on.

Earlier this weekend we had a look into womens professional tackle football. Yes Virgina, there is professional womens tackle football right here in Chicago. The Chicago Force not only are they dedicated athletes but they know how to show their fans a good time too. I'll be honest, what first drew me to the idea of covering the Force was the old feminist in me. As a product of the 70's I came from a high school where there was no I repeat no womens athletic program. Thanks to Title 9 women who came into high school and college after 1975 got a fair shake when it came to athletic funding. So I expected to find a group of powerful young women aged 20-30 in uniform when I hit the field. I couldn't have been more wrong. The very first woman I met was several years past her 30th birthday. I would come to find out the Force are composed of a group of mostly professional women aged 20's to 45 who love football and the challenge of staying in the physical condition to play it at the professional level. That means three practices a week and 6-7 days a week weight, flexibility and endurance training to have and maintain a body capable of playing the game safely. Because IWFL football ain't powder puff football, it's in your face tackle football. Just like the big boys play and just like the guys you get hurt if you have not earned a body capable of giving and receiving boldy blows and dealing with playing in hot or cold conditions.

Saturday this was proven true as several players of the Minnesota Vixen were taken off the field including one in an ambulance to the hospital. Many of the comments players made to me were that it was the difference in conditioning that made the difference in injuries and on the scoreboard that day. Standing on the field in 85 degree heat with 20 pounds of cameras and lenses around my neck I believed them. With the ending score of 53-0 it is a testament to the Force's fitness team.

I will let Patrick Kissane give the full on detailed account of the game, as usual I will let the images tell the story. These ladies take the game seriously and work hard to play hard. The organization is also working to make it a great fan experience also. Uber fan friendly, comfortable field, reasonably priced concessions and a staff that works to see that everyone has a good time. Next home game is June 13th 3:00 at North Park University. An easy piece of advice though, the seating is on the sunny side of the field so if it is a bright day wear a hat.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Has Hell Frozen Over? Wolves Fans Cheering for Milwaukee?

That quiet sound you you may be hearing tonight in Chicago from darkened basements is the sound of Wolves fans huddled around their computers secretly catching the Admirals game. Would you believe it Milwaukee has come back to force a game seven? Tonight we will find out if AHL hockey will continue in the area for another few weeks. For if the Milwaukee Admirals defeat the Houston Aeros tonight, the Manitoba Moose come charging into Milwaukee for the semifinals. That will mean more than a few sleeping Wolves fans will make the trip north to see the Moose go head to head against the Admirals.

BlackHawks about to begin another round. The possibility of seeing Jason Krog and Gui Desbiens on local ice again. If this isn't hockey heaven, please direct me!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Who cares about The AHL?


With all due respect to the growing bandwagon surrounding the BlackHawks, there still is minor league hockey interest in the city. Not everyone can afford United Center prices or has returned to the the BlackHawks growing throng of admirers no matter how well earned. Yes, there are still a few minor league fans who live for the drive to the big show and the season is still at full strength for those who follow the AHL. In fact my inbox has been filing with mail regarding the AHL update column all day.

Yes, the turn around of the BlackHawks is our primary focus at this time and we have been fortunate to wittiness Rocky Wirtz positively breathe life into a cadaver of a franchise. In the year since he took over the reins Rocky has taken a empty house and filled it to the brim, built a team to be proud of and a franchise that will deliver championships in the future. Even if Rocky Wirtz does not lift the cup up this year he has much reason to be proud.

I will be with you for every game the Hawks play this season tomorrow night and beyond. It's going to be a great ride no matter how long it lasts. But still I look forward to seeing how the AHL shakes out, updates to follow!

In that spirit, Milwaukee lost to Houston Thursday night, the series is now 3:1 Houston.Brunhilde is now on her southern tour and is doing a sound check in Houston's Toyota Center this morning, game 7:30 tonight. For Hawks fans Puck drop is tonight is a late one start the coffee game begins at 9:30. I look for a physical game, whoever makes the most mistakes loses. It's a good night for hockey!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hawks play for all the marbles tonight, The AHL where do things stand?

Tonight the Chicago BlackHawks come out from the locker room needing to breathe fire and ready to win. No mistakes tonight, if they lose this one it will be tough to unseat the Nucks just one win away from the next round. Not many expected the baby faced Hawks to make it to the second round fewer still thought they would make it to the third. Just do it guys prove them all wrong if only for the fact it will feel darn good.

Meanwhile in the AHL, things have been moving right along in the playoff race. In the East mythical land where players and coaches sleep in their own beds each night. The Bridgeport Soundtigers and Philly Phantoms have fallen by the wayside and the Hershey Bears and WB/Scranton Penguins are locked in a grudge match. These teams truly do not like each other and it will prove to be a heart pounding series. Lucky the fans who will get to see this one, presently Hershey leads the series 2:1 next start tomorrow night.

The Atlantic Division now has narrowed down to the Providence P-Bruins and Wooster Sharks this series is tied at 1:1 each. These teams defeated The Hartford Wolfpack and Portland Pirates to make it this far. Their next meeting is tomorrow night in Providence.

In the two divisions of local interest the North and West, first the North. The Manitoba Moose look like the real deal this year. Not only have they defeated the Marlies in round one they defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins in round two. Grand Rapids fought a hard series against the Hamilton Bull Dogs in the first round then went down in four quick and deadly games in the second to the Moose. Yes indeed squirrel, Bullwinkle has a real attitude this season! The addition of Jason Krog and Gui Desbiens seems to of been the magic the Manitoba needed to take it to the next level. A friend from Winnipeg wrote me and asked"just what were the Wolves thinking" when they let Desbiens slip through there grasp. Well Mike, your guess is as good as mine, but I bet you are glad they did.

Mean while in the West Milwaukee seems to of stumbled. The series against Houston is now Houston 2, Milwaukee 1. The next meeting of these teams is tonight at 7:05 in Milwaukee. There are probably still good seats available, my guess is that it's going to be a great game. If you don't stop for dinner you just might make it by the middle of first period.

It's a great night for local hockey no matter who you follow, play nice you kids!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Series tied at 1:1 Can Vancouver win aganist the BlackHawks Fans?

Last night it seemed the Chicago had forgotten the basics, they were down 2 nothing at the end of the first period both goals scored on power plays. So much for keeping out of the box, boys. Sami Salo found his moment at 5:35 and Alexander Edler at 6:44 for Vancouver's first two goals. It is unknown what coach Joel Quenneville said to his team during the first period break perhaps it was what was vibrating off of our living room walls ...

"60 minutes of hockey, do not make a mistake, for at this level mistakes turn into power plays. Power plays become goals. Blackhawks, DO NOT leave Roberto Luongo alone in the crease, somebody has to stay on top of him. Meanwhile keep someone close to Nikolai Khabibulin." Something like that was screamed out the back door and into our alley last night during the first period break. Somehow the neighbors seemed to take it in their stride, living two miles from Wrigley Field somebody always seems to be screaming about some sports team. However,I digress!

Second period started and the Mighty Hawks took to to the ice. By the end of the period we were looking for the third leg of a hat trick from not one but two Hawks Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland. Third period goals by Patrick Kane and Ben Eager brought Chicago's total to 6 goals to 3 for Vancouver. The young team from Chicago had pulled up their skate straps and pulled it off, the series is tied 1:1. They will return to the United Center on Tuesday with the knowledge that not only can they beat these Nucks they can beat them in their own house in front of their own fans. Just think of how well they will do in front of those committed to Chief BlackHawk!

How many hours is it till puck drop?