Saturday Entry #1: Checker Rats Come Home

A lot to go over today, so I’ll break it up into 2 entries: first recapping last night’s events, then later on this afternoon tonight’s pregamer with the Crunch coming to town for the 2nd time this week.

First, I survived the snow!  Not as bad as the last one, according to YNN Albany about 7 inches or so.  I still went straight downtown from work anyway just incase and the drive wasn’t bad.  Did a Starbucks run then spent some time with the Bennett family in the TU Center box office.  Zach (aka Bug) has gone through a lot in his 11 years of life.  He has neurofibromatosis, or NF1, a disorder in which tumors grow on nerves.  He has had numerous surgeries, including amputation of both legs.  He gets around in a motorized wheelchair which on game days always has his goalie mask on the back.  Recently he got a service dog named Matrix thanks to a community fundraiser.  The River Rat/Checker franchise has been there for the family all the way, making Zach an honorary Rat last season and countless visits from team members to the hospital or his home (apparently he can beat Mike Murphy at Wii hockey).  The Checkers are doing an awesome fund raiser next Friday night at home, having a Race Night jersey auction where all the proceeds go to the family as they prepare to move to North Carolina (their house is still on the market, this is basically the last obstacle to cross before that can happen) for a better climate and for better health care for Zach.

Now on to the game.  Changing the pattern up a bit, Jeff Frazee started for the second straight game for the Devils, while Justin Pogge manned the Checker net.  The Devils had a lot of chances on net, but Pogge was a brick wall.  Michael Swift stayed hot, getting a point in his 10th straight game courtesy a penalty shot goal.  Otherwise it was all about the former River Rats, as 3 out of 4 ex-Rats scored…Nicolas Blanchard in the 1st, Chris Terry in the 2nd and Jerome Samson (now the AHL goal scoring leader with 20) in the 3rd.  Matt Anderson answered right after Samson’s goal with one of his own to make it 3-2, but Brett Sutter scored into the empty net late in the 3rd to seal the Checkers 4-2 win.

Attendance last night: 2099.  Pretty much what I expected with the weather (everyone got vouchers for free tickets for next Friday’s game against Binghamton), I would say about 90 percent were pro Charlotte.  It was pretty evident during warmup when I realized I was the only one in the Devils corner watching, everyone was on Charlotte’s side of the ice.  Not a good message to send to your home team but what can you do?  I’m trying to support the home team best I can, but I’ve known the Checker players longer (I’ve known Casey Borer since he turned pro almost 4 years ago for example), so I’m torn.  January 28th will be an interesting day in Albany, the Devils are home but Charlotte is in Adirondack.  I already have my Albany ticket so I’ll be staying here, looks like a lonely night for me.

On a lighter note…last night was my first run-in with N.J. Devil, New Jersey’s mascot who made the trip for Devil Dawg’s birthday celebration.  He puts other mascots to shame with his dancing skills.  I told him I was coming to Newark on Sunday and he acted so excited he grabs me for a hug and starts jumping up and down.  Don’t get all that excited you already know Tampa Bay is killing them (unless Stamkos does another penalty shot fail).  And I give credit to Casey, Brett Bellemore, Mike Murphy and Zack FitzGerald for coming outside in the snow to visit with my group (namely my friend Jackie’s twin nieces) after the game (stupid Devil rules).

One last note:  overnight way out west in Abbotsford, the Phantoms lost in a shootout, gaining another point.  The basement is creeping ever closer…

Albany-Charlotte Pregame Notes

Time to prepare for tonight’s Devils-Checkers matchup on this snowy Friday:

-This is the second matchup between the Devils and their predecessors in the Times Union Center.  First meeting was way back on October 20th in Albany, a 2-1 Devils win.  The two teams face each other 4 more times, a 3 game series in North Carolina on February 12th, 13th, and 15th, and one more meeting in Albany on April 2nd. 

-Since the first meeting, it’s a tale of two teams going in very different directions.  Charlotte struggled out of the gate, but have since settled into 2nd place in the East Division with a 20-12-1-4 record, good for 45 points.  After Wednesday’s shootout loss to Adirondack, Albany now checks in at 13-19-0-3, good for 29 points and holding on to 7th place.

-The Checkers are lead in scoring by former Rats (you’ll hear that a lot today) Jerome Samson with 37 points (19 G, 18 A) and Jacob Micflikier with 32 points (16 G, 16 A).  Justin Pogge and Mike Murphy (also former Rats) have been splitting the goaltending duties.  There are a total of 17 ex-Rats on the current Checker roster.

-Michael Swift has jumped to the top of the Devils’ scoring leaderboard, he is currently tied with Matt Anderson with 22 points.  Swift has one more goal (12-11), Anderson has one more assist (11-10).  Rookie Adam Henrique takes over the second position among the active roster with 17 points (8 G, 9 A).  I am expecting Mike McKenna in goal with the every other game rotation.

-Injury news: One Charlotte injury of note is defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti (not a former Rat, rather a former Wolfpack), who is out for the season with a hip injury.  The main Devil injury of note (one that I did not mention on Wednesday) is Nathan Perkovich, out for an extended period with a foot injury.  No updates on the other walking wounded (Mills, Leblond et al).

-Game time 7 PM.  It’s Devil Dawg’s birthday (whoohoo…hahaha), apparently NJ Devil and Scorch (the New Jersey and Trenton mascots) will be in attendance, along with “other mascot friends.”  Wonder if Rowdy got an invitation…anyway, apparently they think 2000 kids are showing up for the Silly Bands giveaway.

I will be there with tweets, pictures, etc.  Tomorrow I’ll recap and preview Saturday’s game (that’s the plan anyway).

Thursday Notes

Just a few things to go over:

-Weekend off from Job 2. Yesssss. Sorry had to let that out.

-Now for a quick recap of last night’s events:

In the 5th game of the Time Warner Cable Cup series, Adirondack overcame two 1 goal deficits to beat the Devils 3-2 in a shootout. Jon Kalinski netted the clincher in the 7th round, and ex-Rat Michael Ryan scored twice in regulation. Stephen Gionta also scored twice, while both Michael Swift and Chad Wiseman continued point scoring streaks. No Michael Leighton as I expected, he’ll be seeing game action over the weekend.

-New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello was in attendance last night, even holding a press conference downstairs as pregame warmup was ending. Didn’t stick around to hear what was discussed.

-The following number pretty much sums up the state of pro hockey in New York’s Capital Region: 2086. That was last night’s attendance. For what was once a Northway rivalry that would draw 5 digit crowds in Albany and sell out the Glens Falls Civic Center, it’s sad how over the last 15 years things have changed. Other than the obvious reason, you can factor in Glens Falls not having the AHL for about 10 years other than the handful of games the River Rats played there over a 3 season span, or the fact it was a cold Wednesday night in January. Even on New Year’s Day, a Saturday night game between the two teams only drew about 3200 to the Civic Center. The way things are going I don’t expect this number to change anytime in the future.

-Speaking of River Rats…tomorrow the old Rats, aka the Charlotte Checkers, come to town. Here comes the conflict for me: my old team vs. my current team. I’ve been friends with some of these players for up to 3 years now, meanwhile I’m still getting to know the Devils (there’s really only 2-3 guys I talk to regularly). We’ll see how the game goes.

-More snow coming? Great…getting around tomorrow is going to be fun.

That’s it for today. Hopefully I can get some pregame notes for tomorrow out there during the day on Friday…

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Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes

A few things you may need to know before the Devils and Phantoms take to the ice at Times Union Center tonight:

-This is the 5th meeting between the teams in the 2nd annual Time Warner Cable Cup, won by Albany as the River Rats last year.  It’s a 2-2 series so far, each team is 1-1 at home.  Counting tonight, there are 7 more head to head matchups, the next coming February 20th in Albany.

-Looking at the standings, Albany checks in with a 13-19-0-2 record, good for 28 points and 7th place in the East Division.  Adirondack has a 10-25-2-0 record, good for 22 points and 8th place.  Basically it’s a basement battle, the Phantoms are trying to escape after a horrific stretch that saw 2 coaching changes along with 2 double digit losing streaks.  The Devils on the other hand have not fared so well at home, only 4 wins, 3 on actual home ice (the 4th came in Atlantic City against the Phantoms in early December).  With a home heavy schedule this month, the Devils look to rebound or they may just find themselves in the same position as their bretheren in New Jersey…last in the league.

-Matt Anderson is currently leading all Devils skaters with 22 points (11 G, 11 A), followed by the red-hot Michael Swift with 20 points (12 G, 8 A).  For Adirondack, rookie Erik Gustaffson (recently sent down by the parent Flyers) leads the way with 26 points (4 G, 22 A) followed by veteran Denis Hamel with 23 points (12 G, 11 A).

-The goaltending situation in Adirondack recently got a little crowded with the demotion of Stanley Cup her0 (and former River Rat) Michael Leighton yesterday.  Rookies Brian Stewart (the newly crowned AHL Player of the Week) and Nic Riopel (recently demoted to Greenville in the ECHL) were sharing time with regular Johan Backlund out due to injury.  Now Backlund is almost ready to return, and with Leighton now joining the team Stewart’s future with the club is in question.  I would assume Stewart gets the call this evening with Leighton not due to play till the weekend road trip in Abbotsford.

-The Devils have no such issues.  Mike McKenna and Jeff Frazee (in between serving time in New Jersey during Martin Brodeur’s time out of the lineup due to his “bruised” elbow) are splitting the goaltending duty.  I’m thinking it’s Frazee’s turn this evening with both playing every other game recently.

-Injury report: per The Post-Star, Hamel may be out up to 2 weeks with an injury sustained in Sunday afternoon’s game in Rochester.  MA Bourdon is still out after being knocked out in a fight with Albany’s Dan Kelly on Saturday at the Civic Center (and I had a good view of it…brutal).  Stefan Legein (only the BizNasty of the AHL with his Twitter account…hilarious) will return to the lineup next week.  For the Devils, Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond (or PL3) is due to return this week from I believe a hand injury.  Brad Mills is also expected back shortly as well.

Game time 7 PM.  I will be there tweeting it (and getting photos as well).

 

Random Tuesday Thoughts…

Just a few things I have on the brain today…

-I finally have a title!  So why Thoughts Inside The Box?  It’s sort of a take on “thinking outside the box,” based on what I do at job 2, working the service desk.  We refer to it as “the box” so since I spend a lot of time there…well there you go.

-Discovered my new favorite BB app, iheart radio.  Now I can listen to one of my favorite NYC radio stations (Z100) while barricading myself in the office storage room doing year end inventory.  If only it didn’t burn so much battery power…

-Speaking of radio…discovered a new favorite station yesterday, Crush I think it’s called.  The tag line is “The 90s and More” which is more or less what I grew up on.  Funny thing is I was chastizing the former station on that channel for playing Christmas music November 1st through New Years weekend, now I think I know why…gotta love format changes.

-Another resolution I sort of made was to continue to get in shape (much like about 90% of the rest of the world).  I joked before Christmas I wanted a gym membership to burn off all the junk food I was eating.  Well somebody was listening…sort of.  As part of joining my company’s Wellness program there is a drawing every quarter for some pretty good prizes.  Sure enough, I was the winner for the 4th quarter!  I got an Adidas duffel bag containing workout DVDs (yoga, Pilates, Taebo), a yoga mat, an exercise ball, a strength training ball, and resistance tubing.  So now instead of going to the gym I can actually work out at home.  At least if I give up I can say I didn’t waste any money…

-Just read about Michael Leighton being reassigned to Adirondack by the Flyers.  Kind of have mixed feelings on this one.  One of my all time River Rat players is now suiting up for probably the biggest rival.  He plans on playing over the weekend but not tomorrow night against the Devils in Albany.  The one guy I kind of feel sorry for in this situation is Brian Stewart.  Here is the newly named AHL Player of the Week who may now be looking for somewhere else to play because of Leights’ demotion and Johan Backlund getting healthy.  I wonder how this situation will play out…

Alright I’ve rambled enough for today…getting ready to close said service desk tonight, will probably post some game-related info tomorrow…until then…

An Introduction…Of Sorts…

Greetings!

My name is Tracey and I’m an upstate NY native.  One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 was to get back in the writing game.  I went to college to become a journalist…and well that didn’t quite happen.  My career path has gone in a totally different direction…I actually work in the medical field and in retail.  But over the last few years I have slowly gone back into the communication field…starting with doing photography of sporting events locally when I finally got a digital camera, then using my Twitter account to live tweet hockey when I got my BlackBerry in October.  I probably won’t use this as a way to get a job back in the field (I’m actually pretty satisfied with a 9 to 5 and beyond schedule by this point in my life), just as a side interest.

So what will I talk about with this newfound blog?  A variety of things.  Right now I’m smack in the middle of hockey season.  I cover the Albany Devils (AHL hockey) with my Twitter feed (@tel915 is my handle…I could use some new followers…) and also do photos on my Facebook (when the stupid photo uploader actually decides to work) and on Webshots.  I also live for road trips, so maybe some city reviews of where I go for games.  Once spring/summer roll around, it’s all about the Yankees and the Tri-City Valleycats (your 2010 NY Penn League champs whoohoo!).  Maybe throw in some retail hell stories (and believe me I have a lot of those), and some cat tales…I have 2 cats, Sascha (10, black/white female) and Riley (5, orange/white male), who I adore but they drive me nuts sometimes.

Okay introductions over with…trust me you’ll learn more as I go on…