Category Archives: College

Jackets 2, Caps 3

The Jackets actually played pretty well tonight against the top team in the league. If they’d been able to finish some of the good chances they had, this one could well have been a ‘W’ for the home team. Granted, Washington seemed to be mostly going through the motions, but who can blame them? They’re cruising into the playoffs and Columbus will be on the golf course in a week.

Lots of Caps fans in the building tonight, but they weren’t really irritating like some opposing fan bases we’ve seen.

So, one more week and this nightmare of a season will be over. I realize I haven’t posted on the blog in about a month, but my level of interest in the 2009-10 Blue Jackets has been just about nil. I’ve been preoccupied with work stuff, both good and bad, since the start of the new year. And it’s been hard to carve out the mental space to think about this team and analyze their performances. And in a way, the Olympics were the last straw for me — two weeks of exciting, well-played, meaningful hockey in which both of my favorite teams (USA and Slovakia) contended for medals. To switch from that back to, oh, six more weeks of a CBJ season where the playoff hopes were essentially put paid to in November — ugh. I still watch the games, sort of. And go to them when I have tickets (although I did miss three in a row in March for a variety of reasons, the most humorous of which was my car getting completely coated in mud after the Crew home opener last weekend).

I know I’ve made it through lots of bad CBJ seasons before (and a whole string of frustrating Ottawa Senators seasons before that) without getting this turned off. But with the team having made the playoffs last year and looking to be on the upswing, to not even be in a playoff battle is just too much.

But hey, Miami’s in the Frozen Four next week, so there may be some hockey glory for Ohio yet this spring.

And I renewed my CBJ twenty-game pack for next season already. Because hope springs eternal. And that’s why I’m not calling time on the blog, although I strongly considered it at times the past few months. See y’all next season (and probably at some key points before that, like the draft and July 1)!

Saturday catching-up post

First game of the Claude Noel interim era on Thursday. I went — first win I’ve seen in person in its entirety since….um….several decades ago? (Actually, November 7 against Carolina. So just in the last decade) It was a pretty boring affair, as I recall (I went out carousing after the game, so most of my memories of it are seen through a thick haze of beer, karaoke, and cupcakes), not many good scoring chances by either team, neither team really dominating. The most exciting moment was probably Umberger’s empty net (!) goal scored from his stomach in the dying minutes to make it 2-0. Dallas rather quickly answered back to make a thrilling game of it for the last minute, but Mason held on. So, not exactly a 180-degree turnaround for the Jackets in the post-Hitchcock era, but a promising enough start, I suppose.

Buffalo tonight. I’m going, so I had some hopes that Snowmageddon might keep some of the drunken WNY hordes at bay. But this is Buffalo we’re talking about, so no. I think I need a drink already…

In other news, former Jacket O-K Tollefsen is now a Red Wing, so we’ll be seeing more of him (assuming he’s not hurt when the Jackets and Wings meet).

There’s also some sad news in the hockey world today. You’ll recall a few months ago I posted a link to John Buccigross’ excellent piece about the relationship between Leafs GM Brian Burke and his son Brendan, a student manager with the Miami hockey team who had come out publicly as gay in the macho world of hockey. Sadly, Brendan Burke and a friend were killed in a car accident in Indiana yesterday. Condolences to the families and the Miami hockey program.

Buckeyes 5, Wolverines 3

After that Jackets game on Thursday, in which they deserved to lose, and did lose, it’s refreshing to see a team get pretty thoroughly outplayed and still come away with the win. That’s what the Buckeyes did last night at the Schott. They jumped out to a seemingly improbable two goal lead in the first which stood up into the second period. But Michigan, who seemed to quite clearly have the more talented team (despite their mediocre record in the CCHA thus far), kept the pressure on, peppering Cal Heeter with shots, and managed to tie it up. They kept piling on the shots in the third period, outshooting Ohio State by a better than 2-to-1 margin. Heeter stood strong in the net, though, and kept the score tied without a lot of help from his teammates. A little after midway through the third period, OSU took the lead, then added an insurance marker. But then, as is their wont, they got into some penalty trouble, and Michigan scored on a 5-on-3 advantage. Heeter managed to hold on, though, and an empty net goal iced it. Win over a hated rival — who can ask for more?

Decent crowd on hand, about 5,000. The upper bowl was still curtained off, but it was a better crowd than I’ve seen at a game there for awhile. Current Blue Jacket and former Buckeye R.J. Umberger was on hand for the ceremonial faceoff, and got a good reception from the fans.

Teams go again tonight at eight at the Schott. Goes without saying that great tickets are still available. I won’t make it to this one, as I’ll be down at Nationwide for the long-awaited (and hopefully cathartic) Adam Foote hatefest.

Montreal Pre-Game Odds & Ends

Random thoughts:

So, I did manage to stay awake for the rest of last night’s game. Jackets did get another goal to make the score look somewhat respectable, but really, that was not a respectable performance by any stretch of the imagination. They were just bad. But it happens in hockey. It’s a long season, and every team is going to lay the occasional egg. No time to dwell on it, though, as the Jackets play again tonight in Montreal. The Habs are another team behind where they might have been expected to be at this point, but as we’ve seen of late with the Wings, Preds, and Rangers, that’s no reason to take them lightly. Also, this is the only game on the schedule tonight, and is being shown nationally on TSN and RDS in Canada, so no doubt the Canadian-born Jackets will want to put on a good show for their family and friends watching at home.

The Jackets move on to play Ottawa on (American) Thanksgiving, but won’t get to face off against former Jacket Pascal Leclaire. He is out for a month with a broken cheekbone, the result of being hit by the puck while he sat on the bench. I always did like Leclaire, and I still think he has some real talent, but the guy has just been snake-bitten by injuries throughout his entire pro career.

I was intending to take in a film tonight, but given that I’m still a little hobbled by this virus (although greatly improved over yesterday), I’ll be staying in to watch the game. Hoping for a better one than last night. Got myself psyched up for a game in La Belle Province by watching Les Boys III today. Okay, so maybe it didn’t psych me up all that much. It was an okay movie, but about half an hour too long. The first movie in the series was pretty funny and enjoyable, though, and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend searching it out.

Having spent the last couple days at home, in between my hours of judge show watching, I’ve had lots of time to surf the web, and dug out some worthwhile hockey stories:

After all the sturm und drang about Hitchcock’s coaching style after Filatov went back to Russia, there have been a couple of stories in the past couple days that point to Hitchcock having a good effect on young players. NHL.com on Rick Nash and his growth into the captaincy in Columbus and Tom Reed in the Dispatch on the blossoming of Rusty Klesla.

Meanwhile, speaking of the prodigal Filatov, he’s happy to be back with CSKA and playing well. But he’s still saying the right things (publicly at least) about Columbus.

And not Jackets related, but this Buccigross piece at ESPN about Brian Burke’s son Brendan, and his decision to come out publicly, is a must-read. And it speaks well to the character of Enrico Blasi and the program he’s built at Miami, so there’s something in there for the Ohioans.

And it sounds like something interesting might be happening on Judge Mathis, so I leave you with those thoughts. à bientôt.

Saints 3, Buckeyes 2: Photoblog

This game was more to my liking, as you can see from the subject line above. St. Lawrence again outshot Ohio State by a large margin, but this time they also came out ahead where it counts, with the 3-2 win. Ohio State didn’t do themselves many favors, with a fairly steady stream of Buckeyes going to the penalty box all game.

Smaller crowd than last night, as expected with the OSU-Michigan football game going on simultaneously. Still, I’d guess 100 or so fans, which is not bad for women’s hockey in Columbus head-to-head with THE GAME.

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St. Lawrence comes up with the puck in the defensive zone

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Josee Belanger of St. Lawrence and Liz Rizzo of Ohio State

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Sabatine scores for St. Lawrence!

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Saints celebrate

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Shields chases the puck

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Buckeye captain Rachel Davis on defense

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Saints on the PP

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Two Saints camped out in the slot

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Ohio State counter-attacks

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Hollowell and Fernandez joust at center ice

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Ohio State dumps the puck in

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Chartier looks through the screen

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Sabatine turns up ice

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Saints victorious!

Saints 3, Buckeyes 4

Big night for me — first time I’ve gotten to see the Lady Skating Saints in Columbus. I think they played here one other time since I moved up here, but I either found out about the games after the fact, or was out of town that weekend. So I’ve been checking the schedule every pre-season hoping for a visit.

In fact, this was the first time I’ve seen them play in person since I graduated from St. Lawrence, ahem, 14 1/2 years ago. I was pretty blown away at the talent level now compared to my college years. SLU was still D3 at that time, but we had some pretty good players. But it’s just all around faster and more skilled now. Both teams were better even than the D1 teams I remember from back in the day. It’s heartening to see women’s hockey has come so far.

Pretty decent crowd, too. The official box score says 323, which is about as good, if not better, proportionate to the size of the building as the OSU men’s game I went to last Saturday in the Schott. And the fans there were pretty into it. And of course, it doesn’t take much crowd noise to make that building seem filled up. I was, best as I could tell, the only person there cheering for SLU except for one guy I think was the bus driver for the Saints’ team bus. I got a couple of sideways looks from Buckeye fans, as is always the case when you cheer for another team in Columbus, but no harassment.

Overall, it was a pretty fast, close game. Very few penalties. OSU opened the scoring early on a bad angle shot that snuck in the corner of the net. St. Lawrence got it back in the first, and seemed to carry the flow of the play for a good chunk of the night. They carried a 2-1 lead into the third, and had an advantage in SOG. But OSU had sharp goaltending, and took advantage of their chances when they had them. The teams had some back and forth scoring in the third and then OSU broke the deadlock with about five minutes to go. Saints got some decent pressure with the extra attacker on, but just couldn’t put another one away, so it ended in a loss for my team.

Teams are back at it tomorrow at 2PM. Which means that while the rest of Columbus is watching the climax of the OSU-Michigan football game, I will be at the Ice Rink cheering on the Saints. Hey, gotta have priorities, right? I’ll at least watch the first half of the football game, and I assume they’ll announce the score during the hockey game.

Odds & Ends before the Oilers game

Puck-rakers commenters react to the news that Steve Mason has back spasms with the calmness and reason for which they are known. Incidentally, I had some back spasms last night while cleaning the cat box, and during my career as a goalie in shinny/intramural hockey, was occasionally known to give an angry glare when someone shot at my head. I am truly history’s greatest monster, or maybe number two to Steve Mason. In any event, we already knew Garon was starting tonight.

Tom Sestito has been recalled by the CBJs. We’ll see if he gets some ice time during the call-up.

I finally made it down to the Schott on Saturday for an OSU game. I went to a lot of games during the NHL lockout, but haven’t had a lot of success in keeping my friends interested since then, and since many of their games do conflict with Jackets games or other events, I don’t make it down to see the hockey Bucks as often as I’d like to. And with many of Miami’s games on TV, I feel like I’m more in tune with what’s going on with the Redhawks than the Buckeyes most of the time. In any event, small crowd as usual (given that the game started about an hour after the end of that nail-biting football game, I’d guess most of Columbus was still paralytic drunk by the time of the hockey game). Buckeyes were outshot by Western Michigan and still seem to have a penchant for getting themselves in penalty trouble (based on the sample size of two games I’ve seen this year). But Cal Heeter played very well in goal and held off WMU, and the Buckeyes managed to skate away with the 4-2 win. And with that, the Buckeyes, who started the season slow, are now third in the CCHA behind Michigan State and Miami (who were quite surprisingly swept at home by Ferris State this weekend). The game reminded me that I really should make more of an effort to make more OSU games. They’re out of town the rest of this month, but have a couple mouth-watering home tilts coming up in December — a series against Michigan, and a game against Miami (first half of a home-and-home).

One final note: this coming weekend the St. Lawrence women pay a visit to the Buckeyes women’s team. I’ll be at both, natch, rooting for the scarlet & brown.

Saturday Photoblog-a-ganza

Cleaning out the picture folders here…we have some pictures from the Icebreaker last weekend in Omaha, featuring the St. Lawrence Skating Saints, of course. And after that, some pics from the OSU opener versus Western Ontario the weekend before.

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Qwest Center, Omaha

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Arena entrance, Qwest Center

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Faceoff between Saints and UMass-Lowell Riverhawks

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Army vs Nebraska-Omaha

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Consolation game, Saints vs Army

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Saints defending the goal

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Kain Tisi ready for the shot

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Army defenseman gets taken down in front of the net

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Saints attack the net

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This picture is notable mostly for the Runza ad on the boards

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Not a close game in the end

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Buckeye season underway

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Forechecking by the Buckeyes

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Hit along the boards

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Mustang dumped

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Western in the OSU zone

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Western ‘keeper

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Buckeye shaken up

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OSU came up short in the end

SLU 5, Army 2

Consolation game in the UNO Ice Breaker this afternoon between the Saints and Army. This one turned out to not be especially competitive. Early on, St. Lawrence looked tentative. It appeared Army scored to open up a 1-0 lead, but the goal was called back, and from that point on, it was pretty much all St. Lawrence. They dominated possession and the goals kept coming. Great to see the Saints win, since I doubt I’ll see them play live again this season. But one-sided games aren’t all that exciting to watch.

I dithered for awhile about staying for the championship game between UNO and UML. Ultimately decided to leave and go see a bit more of Omaha rather than watch a hockey game I didn’t particularly care about. I stopped and had a smoothie at Blue Line Coffee, which didn’t actually have anything to do with hockey, but how could I pass up a place with that name?

All in all, a worthwhile trip. Omaha is a pretty nice city, and I’m glad I got a chance to see it. Add in getting to see the Saints win a game, hey, can’t beat that. And now for the very long trip back to Columbus…

Greetings from snowy Omaha

Well, it definitely feels like hockey season now, having scraped a couple of inches of snow off my car this morning.

Last night was the first day of the UNO Ice Breaker tournament. I was in town to see the Saints, who played in the opener against UMass-Lowell. It was a bit of a letdown to travel 700+ miles and not see them score a goal, never mind win. They lost 3-0. Saints didn’t play all that badly. They outshot UML for most of the night. But they couldn’t solve Hutton in the Riverhawks’ net and took some costly penalties. It is a rebuilding year in Canton, and UML is expected to be a pretty good team this year, so what are you going to do?

The late game was obviously of more interest to the locals, and the arena filled in decently well for UNO vs Army. This one was far more of a back and forth affair, with the teams trading leads until UNO finally put it away, 6-4.

St. Lawrence goes today at 4:05 against Army. Hoping for a better showing from the Saints today. I may or may not stick around for the UNO-UML game. I do have a 13+ hour drive tomorrow, and more snow in the forecast, so that may call for an early night.

Qwest Center is really a lovely building. It’s right downtown by the Missouri River, and the Convention Center is attached. They had most of the upper bowl curtained off, and there were still quite a few empty seats even so, but it was a good-sized crowd for the Army-Omaha game. Pretty lively student section. And the non-students seemed pretty engaged as well. Pretty much it was what going to a game at the Schott ought to be like but isn’t. Maybe with the free admission to students this year that will change.

I do have some pictures from the games and the arena, but I’m posting this on a laptop with a battery that doesn’t have too much juice, so I will probably not post those until I get back to Columbus.

And speaking of Columbus, I’ve been keeping half an eye on the Jackets via the Internets while traveling. They beat Vancouver, which was nice, but a couple nights later in San Jose, it was like so many painful nights in the past listening to the radio broadcast from the West Coast as the game slipped more and more out of hand. Okay, so maybe they won’t go 82-0 this year. But they do get the chance to be a spoiler in the Coyotes’ home opener tonight. And come Tuesday, I’ll finally get my first look at them in person against the Flames. Assuming I’m not in Nebraska snowed in….