Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Brad Isbister moving in on Tim Jackman and Yutaka
Fukufuji (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack took an early two-goal lead yesterday against the Manchester Monarchs, but then hit a brick wall named Fukufuji and crumbled quickly. The end result: a 5-2 rout by the Monarchs, once again kicking the Pack below the .500 mark.

The Wolf Pack held a 2-0 advantage after the first period, despite putting up only 4 shots on goal. Nigel Dawes scored first for the Wolf Pack, midway through the first, and then Marvin Degon made the score 2-0 when he fired a laser of a wrister over Fukufuji's shoulder with 9 seconds left in the period. Degon's goal was set up by a nice play by Ryan Callahan, who dug the puck out of the left-hand corner and centered it over to where Degon was waiting by the right face-off circle.

But Tokyo-born Yutaka Fukufuji, in his first AHL start this year and playing in only his fourth game above the ECHL level, shut the door on the Wolf Pack after that. Fukufuji made 19 saves in the last two periods and almost all of them were quality stops. The Wolf Pack had a number of chances where it looked like they had Fukufuji out of position or leaving the back side of the net open, only to have Fukufuji quickly slide over and slam the gate.

(We pause for a brief Fukufuji-inspired interlude...)

None of the 5 goals that Valiquette gave up could be pinned on him directly, with the first two to tie it up in the second period coming on deflections. Manchester's third goal at 16 minutes of the second period was a rifle shot by Tim Jackman past Valiquette's shoulder, and the Monarchs had the lead for good.

The Wolf Pack had a chance to tie the game early in the third period, when a high-sticking major on Ryan Callahan against Jeff Giuliano gave the Wolf Pack a 5-minute power play, including a half-minute of 5-on-3. Hartford threw at least 4 or 5 shots on Fukufuji while they had the man advantage, but couldn't score, only to see the Monarchs score on their next trip down the ice. Defensemen Marvin Degon and Dave Liffiton played hot-potato with the puck while trying to clear it out of their own end, and Noah Clarke picked up the fumble directly in front of the crease and scored to make it 4-2. The Monarchs scored one more time before the game was over, on a low hard shot that appeared like Valiquette didn't even see.

Fukufuji turning another one aside (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Wolf Pack won all three fights in this game, plus there was another multi-player scrum at the end that didn't involve any major penalties. First, Dave Liffiton pounded Tim Jackman sixteen minutes into the first period, and then, seconds later (right after the next face-off), Brandon Dubinsky punched out Ryan Murphy in a fight that wasn't even close.

Dubinsky later took an intentional elbow, or the butt-end of a stick, to the face at the very end of the second period that wasn't called. In the multi-player scrum that happened towards the end of the game, Dane Byers had already squared off with Konstantin Pushkarev when Brendan Buckley jumped onto Byers' back and started to throw punches as the third man in, but Buckley drew nothing extra for that, either. On the other hand, Manchester's John Zeiler took a stick or a puck to the face behind the Wolf Pack net early in the first period, and came out of the locker room later wearing a full face mask. I didn't see what happened to Zeiler, but nothing was called, anyway.

My mom bought these sneakers for me (Chris Rutsch photo)

A few Radio Disney-type bands played before and during the game, also, including the Jonas Brothers (above), who are three actual brothers-- you know, like Hanson, only with twice the letters-- pretending to be a pop-punk band. It doesn't do any good knocking these guys down, although I think it's telling that two of their biggest songs are a couple of Busted covers that were added to their "Christian rock" CD after the fact (Busted is a fake British "guitar pop" boy band, in case you didn't know).

Jed Ortmeyer was back in the lineup, having been returned to Hartford by the Rangers for more conditioning, while Hugh Jessiman (1 goal in 25 games) was sent down to Charlotte.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Careers In Rock

That state fair gig in New Hampshire was awesome

Best random band name that I recently ran across on the internet:

Dïët Rïöt
(Playing light, all-acoustic covers of Quiet Riot songs)

Vinyl Mine, being particularly useful, also notes that "email spam headers make for great band names." Here are some of my own that I came up with:

· Least the King
· Have the Tuxedo
· Aspatha
· They Fell An Ash
· Flock of Abner
· Samos
· Russell Crowe George
· Vexpert
· Fake Pills
· Goodness of The Priest
· Her No Rho
· Xepic
· Carcase Assembly
· From Damascus

That last one's just in time for the Sylvia Juncosa revival, I guess...

Also, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers newsletter tells us that current Sound Tigers head coach Dan Marshall plays guitar, and for years was in a blues-rock band called the Dirt Root Band (later known as the Dan Marshall Band, I guess after he got a swelled head about himself or something).

Even though the Dan Marshall Band managed to put out a handful of CDs, they were no Zambonis, I'm pretty sure.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Steve Valiquette: Too Fast For Love

Rangers/Wolf Pack goalie Steve Valiquette, Lokomotiv '05-'06

Bruce Berlet wrote an interesting article that appeared in the Hartford Courant a couple of days ago, about Steve Valiquette's time spent playing in Russia last season:

Steve Valiquette left the Wolf Pack after the 2004-05 season for Yaroslavl in the Russian Super League, where imports earn $350,000 to $500,000 and goalies can get a $5,000 bonus for shutouts.

Valiquette and his wife had a $400,000, two-bedroom apartment he said was "better than anything I lived in in the U.S."

It just didn't have an elevator, making the 87 steps to the fifth floor especially challenging after buying groceries.

He drove a 2005 Ford Taurus, but had to get used to roads with only a line down the middle.

"It was actually kind of fun, like being in a Grand Prix video game," Valiquette said.

Valiquette and his wife found several restaurants they liked in Yaroslavl, but on the road with the team, he found the food lacking.

But he seldom found the opposing team lacking for imagination. Valiquette, 29, won't ever forget prostitutes calling his hotel room in the middle of the night. If he unplugged the phone, they found other means to be a nag.

"There's a war off the ice between the teams," Valiquette said. "The prostitutes knew I was the starting goalie and was going to play the next night. ... Teams would do anything to try to mess with you."

Like on his second visit to Nizhnekamsk, where floodlights lit Valiquette's room, which didn't have drapes, causing him to buy black covers for his eyes.

Valiquette also got a sad reminder of his surroundings on a pregame walk in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city. An hour after a snowfall, the snow had turned black from the soot.

"With no emission controls, the air quality is worse than you can imagine," he said. "The buses are pre-World War II, so if you're behind one, it's like putting your mouth around a tail pipe."

The air wasn't much better on team flights as players and management smoked on antiquated planes.

In the end, it was all worth it. Valiquette signed a two-year, $1.235 million contract with the Rangers after having a 1.95 goals-against average and five shutouts in Russia.

Valiquette with Hartford this year (Courant photo)

A few other players talked about their experiences in various European leagues, as well.

Scott Lachance on Switzerland:

"The coaches spoke different languages in practice (most teammates spoke four languages-- German, French, Italian and English), so that was pretty interesting," Lachance said.

Full-time imports earn $150,000 to $200,000 and have use of a car and apartment, which includes satellite TV. Lachance said he improved his skating and learned to play with more patience on the larger European ice surfaces.

"Switzerland is as advertised, probably the safest spot in the world. And the travel is appealing because you bus the day of a game, kind of like the AHL, though the salaries are better."

Chris Ferraro on Germany and Sweden:

The salaries in those countries were between $75,000 and $150,000, but Ferraro also got housing and a car.

Sweden allowed four imports a team and Germany 10, but the German people offered an intriguing mix. Fans often arrived two hours before games and stayed until two hours after, making it kind of a mini-Oktoberfest.

"The fan support was the best I've ever been involved with," said Chris. "It's just a huge party for them, like a soccer game, which is why we played a lot of games on Sunday at 2 o'clock. They show up at the local pub and drink and drink and drink, then they're up jumping and dancing and waving flags."

Chris Ferraro said the hockey was good in both countries, but it was difficult getting used to the anti-American culture.

"We don't have a good reputation anywhere," he said. "Everyone has something against the United States. We're spoiled, and we're this and we're that, and they label you right away. They never really give you the benefit of the doubt and just kind of prey upon that, which is unfortunate."

Brad Isbister on Austria:

In the lockout season, Brad Isbister had a brief stint in Innsbruck, Austria. Though he played only 11 games at the end of the season and five in the playoffs, he also got lodging and use of a car.

"It was a beautiful area in the mountains," said Isbister. "I thought about skiing but felt I might break my leg, so I stayed away from the hills."

Isbister said teams weren't far apart, but it sometimes took six hours to reach another town because the bus had to wind through the mountains.

"It was a good opportunity to experience a different hockey style and lifestyle," said Isbister, who got paid by the game. "I didn't go over for the money. I just went to play hockey, stay sharp and have a chance to do something a little different."

Like We Care Dept.

I was looking at a photo on On Frozen Blog, and I thought, "Gee, doesn't that one guy look familiar?"

Random Capitals fan / Fred Schneider, B-52's

Just one word about wearing hockey jerseys over collared shirts: DON'T.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holy Testicle Tuesday!

"Track The Pack" (the Wolf Pack e-newsletter) called it "Transaction Tuesday": yesterday, the Rangers called up Jed Ortmeyer and Bryce Lampman from Hartford, while sending down Brad Is-a-Buster. Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack brought up Mark Lee, Zdenek Bahensky, and Ryan Constant from Charlotte.

Lee, a 22-year-old native of Newfoundland, has been enjoying a pretty good season with the Checkers so far, posting 12g and 27a for 39 points (good for third in the ECHL) in 28 games. Judging by their playing styles from when they were in Wolf Pack camp this pre-season, both Lee and Constant should provide some much-needed energy and intensity for the Wolf Pack, even if only temporarily, as the Pack have entered a stretch of 5 games in 6 nights starting with last night's game in Worcester.

Harford at Worcester, 12/26/06 (Photo: Pack Attack)

All three Charlotte call-ups played in the game against Worcester, a 2-0 victory, with Al Montoya registering his first shutout of the season.

The win against the Sharks moved the Wolf Pack to within three points of 4th place and a playoff spot in the division, for the time being.

Unfortunately, the Pack lost in Springfield earlier tonight, 3-1.

There is still one bit of good news: Montoya's rare shutout on Tuesday means that JokerTom has to get a haircut.

UPDATE 12/28 -Speaking of haircuts, Pack Attack adds to my already sparkling Wolf Pack/Falcons game coverage (that one line, above) with a photo of everyone's favorite lost-in-the-70's in-game MC, "Shaggy":

Shaggy is seen here signing an autograph at last night's game. Apparently it doesn't take much to be a celebrity in Springfield.

Barbie's Dog Wants To Crap On Your Lawn

As if Barbie wasn't "keeping it real" enough already, she now has a pup named Tanner who apparently eats his own doggie-pellet food and then shits it out double (thanks to Defective Yeti for the link):

Tanner eats the little brown doggie pellet...

...then craps it out his ass.

Barbie picks it up with her fancy-schmancy pooper scooper...

...then dutifully disposes it in a proper receptacle so that some
pinhead jogger doesn't step in it

Check out the Barbie web site and see for yourself!

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Whalers Christmas Carol

In the spirit of the original dopey Burger King employee video (Ding! Fries are done!), the ever-diligent has created a lovely Christmas carol sung by the Burger King guy as a Hartford Whalers fan...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Whalers Santa taken from

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ifs and Buts, Candies and Nuts

Lauri Korpikoski outrunning Wacey Rabbit (Chris Rutsch photo)

Missed opportunities and missing effort seemed to be the order of the day for the Hartford Wolf Pack in their 3-1 loss to Providence last night, as the Wolf Pack fell back under .500 and further back into last place in the division, pissing off their starting goaltender in the process.

Said Steve Valiquette, in this morning's Courant: "We're in last place, and tonight is a reason why. You don't deserve to win when you only play 20 minutes... not to come out with a sense of urgency is embarrassing and unacceptable. I'm really [pissed]."

Hartford easily could've scored another three or four more goals in this game, but botched a number of quality scoring chances, typically involving a Pack player (Dubinsky-- a couple of times-- and Korpikoski, among others) with the puck on his stick and an open net just a few feet away in front of him. And yet, each time, they were unable to bury the puck.

For sheer drama, the highlight of the game came very early, when Francis Lessard ran into goalie Jordan Sigalet behind the Providence net and drew a charging major less than three minutes into the first period. Lessard definitely made an extra hitting motion with his right arm as he skated into Sigalet, but to say that he "drove Sigalet into the ice"-- as Doug "Miss" Manners of the Providence Journal put it-- is ridiculous. Sigalet actually took one of the more overblown stage flops you could imagine, landing awkwardly and hurting his own shoulder in the process. Providence scored their first goal of the game during the ensuing 5-minute power play, and meanwhile the Bruins are saying that Sigalet could miss "up to three weeks".

The Providence Journal also seems to have a hard time keeping the AHL team names straight:

Hint: the Pirates play in Portland

Just one of those days, I guess.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Jed Is Ready

"Check, please... Hey, taxi!" (Chris Rutsch photo)

Over the past few days the Rangers have called up Thomas Pöck a week early from his 14-day conditioning stint, then brought up retread Brad Isbister from the Wolf Pack to New York, in the meantime leaving a rehabbing Jed Ortmeyer to fend for himself for a little while longer down in Hartford.

Ortmeyer made it worthwhile for Hartford, though, coming through with one of the more outstanding individual efforts of the entire season for the Wolf Pack in their 2-1 home victory over the Springfield Falcons earlier tonight.

Five minutes into the second period of a scoreless game, Ortmeyer leveled Eric Healey at the Springfield blue line, dumping Healey onto his back and forcing a turnover. Ortmeyer then followed his own dump-in into the corner, where he plastered Andy Delmore against the boards and then skated away with the puck, setting up Craig Weller in front for the first score of the game.

Inside two minutes left to play in the game and with the score tied 1-1, it looked like the Wolf Pack were again about to give away a crucial standings point to a division rival. It was then that Ortmeyer scored the game-winner, tipping in Marvin Degon's long slapshot from the far boards.

Moments later, with the Falcons pulling their goalie for an extra attacker, Ortmeyer almost scored an empty-netter on a near-breakaway, but the puck went wide.

Al Montoya (Chris Rutsch photo)

Al Montoya was brilliant the entire night, making clean, quick work of nearly every save, including a healthy number of difficult stops. The one that he missed (on a medium-range shot through traffic by Marek Kvapil early in the third period) might've been re-directed, since it went past Montoya as if he never saw it, and Montoya was playing just too good for that to be likely. The shot that went in was eerily similar to the 4th goal that Montoya gave up in the 6-4 loss to Lowell a couple of weeks ago: just inside the left-side post, with Montoya down in a butterfly and barely near the puck as it sailed past him.

During a particularly intense sequence, with about 8 minutes to go in the third period and the score still 1-1, Montoya made a couple of clutch saves but then found himself pinned down on the ice away from the net. Brandon Dubinsky made himself useful for once, sliding feet-first into the crease to knock away a potential Springfield goal.

Dubinsky's baseball-slide save (Chris Rutsch photo)

I'm not usually one for carping about who gets picked for the "three stars of the game", but I think Montoya clearly should've been given one of the stars for tonight's game, though he wasn't.

Francis Lessard had the only fight of the game, fighting to a draw with useless 6'-8" Mitch Fritz at center ice midway through the second period. Craig Weller vehemently protested a high-sticking call late in the second period and was given an extra 10-minute misconduct for "abuse of officials".

Falcons' leading scorer, Eric Healey (Heather Rutsch photo)

Most likely due to their unusually high third-place showing in the standings so far this year, the Falcons (of all the sorry-assed teams) seem to be generating a bandwagon for themselves now. This was only the second meeting between Springfield (which lies barely 30 minutes north of Harford) and the Wolf Pack this season, and I saw far more Falcons jerseys than usual at the Civic Center. I'm not knocking the Falcons for earning some extra fan support by winning a few games; I just think it's a bit shifty of those Falcons fans who are only showing for road games now that the team is doing better.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

If You Swear, You'll Catch No Fish

PETA Suckers: Santa drinks milk and must be destroyed

The Santa-hating, paint-throwing, wacked-out moonbats anti-fur activists at PETA have now come up with the following series of ads, seeming to suggest that if you don't stop eating chicken, your parents will continue to "get it on" on a regular basis (as usual, images swiped from Ads of the World):

I'm not sure whether to laugh or be frightened (or go get a bucket of Original Recipe), but I tend to agree with the comment made by one observer: "Pee, poo, sex-- ha ha. Damn, go back to kindergarten!"

In a story that's even more tragic, the nutjobs at PETA learn to regret killing Santa after all (click to see video if you haven't already), once it turns out that Alec Baldwin is Santa's replacement.

Screw you, folks at PETA, for ruining Christmas forever!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ask Mr. Language Person

- Installment #1 of our "Learning To Respect Other Cultures" series -

Today, JapanNewbie helps us out with an unusual Japanese word, which they say can be used to describe "the smell of the late night bullet trains - since they are full with old people, they have the particular musky odor."

Remember, we're seeking diversity here, even if it means stepping on a few toes in the process.

加齢臭 (click here if you can't see the lettering)

(pronounced "kareisyu")
body odour of old people

old person with bad [unpleasant] body odor

old person with terrible [severe] body odor

Kinda makes me wonder how A.O.D.'s "Old People Talk Loud" (off their 1983 "Let's Barbecue" EP, for those who weren't aware) would translate into Japanese...

I'm betting the Punk Rock Tourist would know!

Stay tuned for Installment #2 of the "Learning To Respect Other Cultures" series, G12 Rides The Whalers Booster Club Bus To Montreal, appearing next month or whenever we feel like it

(AOD and PRT images taken from

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fighting Walleye Rumor Confirmed

Logo created by Joe Bones - used with permission

...or at least it's been confirmed there's a well-traveled rumor that "Fighting Walleye" will be the team nickname of the Cleveland AHL franchise next season.

On Frozen Blog leads the way, with this post from Dec. 4th:

Following the NHL’s long tradition of spotty marketing, Cleveland’s new AHL club (starting in the ‘07-’08 season) seems to be announcing its presence with similar lack of proficiency... The nickname of the club that will be continuing Cleveland’s substantial American Hockey League legacy?

"The Fighting Walleye"

That’s not a bunch of typos that randomly formed unrelated words. That’s going to be the team’s name. As much as we’d like to chalk it up as an accident, it can’t be. There was deliberate thought applied. The club’s owners took a patent out on it. There was paperwork involved.

A quick Yahoo! news search leads to a Dec. 5th Winnipeg Sun article. The article has since been shuffled off to the Sun's paid archives, but here's a quote from it:

FIGHTING WALLEYE?: Next season, the AHL is scheduled to return to Cleveland, with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert operating the dormant Utah franchise. Yesterday, message boards around the AHL were buzzing with news of a new nickname for the franchise.

Get ready for the Cleveland Fighting Walleye.

A quick search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office website shows that Cleveland Hockey Holdings, Gilbert’s hockey interest, had its application approved last month.

Indeed, you can go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark office web site, type "Fighting Walleye" into their trademark search, and here's what you'll find:

Word Mark: Fighting Walleye

IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038 G & S: Audio recordings and video recording in the field of hockey... statistics or trivia about hockey; computer software, namely screen savers featuring hockey themes...

Publications and printed matter, namely hockey trading cards... reference books in the field of hockey, magazines in the field of hockey, catalogs featuring hockey, commemorative game and souvenir programs, paper pennants...

Blah blah blah, blah blah blah...

...Clothing, namely hosiery, footwear, shoes, sneakers, athletic shoes, T-shirts, shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, pants, tank tops, jerseys...

Toys, games and sporting goods, namely skates, goalie pads, hockey pucks, hockey gloves, hockey sticks, chest protectors for hockey... hcokey table top games, hockey board games

Wait, there's more:
Computerized on-line retail store, ordering, retail, electronic retailing, catalog and mail order catalog services featuring an array of hockey-themed merchadise... the production and distribution of radio and television broadcasts of hockey games... entertainment services in the nature of personal appearances by a costumed mascot and/or dance team at hockey games and exhibitions

Okay, you get the picture. The trademark application, which apparently costs a few thousand dollars to submit, is dated November 15, 2006, and is attributed to "Cavaliers Hockey Holdings, LLC, 1 Center Court, Cleveland Ohio 44115".

But just to spoil all the fun, along comes this Dec. 17th item in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (link via Jerseys and Hockey Love blog):

The current franchise still needs a nickname and accompanying logo. Cavaliers President Len Komoroski said broadcast reports that the team will be known as the Fighting Walleyes are premature.

"We've been getting a lot of suggestions, and we expect to have a nickname by the early part of 2007," Komoroski said.

Note that he doesn't say the rumors are wrong, exactly-- just that they're "premature", meaning "Wait 'til our press conference, dammit!"

Meanwhile, hockey fans in the Cleveland area (I think there's, like, seven of them) have been pulling their hair out over the potentially embarassing nickname. Much snickering has been heard from those individuals who seem unaware of the massively popular walleye fishing industry based around Lake Erie. Apparently, these people think that lake fishing is reserved only for people in Minnesota, or something.

Look at the bright side, though: at the very least, "Cleveland Fighting Walleye" brings to mind a robust, agressive, outdoor animal-- unlike one of the other possibilities that was left on the drawing board, the "Cleveland Crack-Smoking Walleye":

Of course, given the past history of Cleveland's cellar-dwelling pro sports teams, it's more likely that the Fighting Walleye will end up looking like this:

(Fish cartoon images from KarenAnn Charters via Ads of the World)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Buster Gets It

Brad Isbister's shootout-winning goal (Chris Rutsch photo)

When Brad Isbister joined the Wolf Pack four weeks ago, I grumbled that he'd remain a bum until the day he either scores a goal or beats up somebody. Well, he still hasn't beaten up anybody yet (not that I'm holding my breath on that one), but he netted his first game-winning goal in a Pack uniform last night, as Hartford downed the Portland Pirates in a shootout after a scoreless tie, 1-0.

Isbister said in the Courant later that, "A 0-0 game isn't what the fans want to see", but this was actually one of the better games to watch all year. Far from being a boring slog-fest, it was an up-and-down game all night, with 56 shots on goal during regulation and only a handful of bad calls from the usually whistle-happy Jamie Koharski. Koharski couldn't stay away from whistling his pet "goaltender interference" call twice-- a call that he seems to make in almost every game he refs against Hartford-- but there were still only 6 power play chances per side.

Valiquette stood on his head to make saves the whole night, obviously, and though there were a couple of times that he was caught out of position, he was able to recover nicely and make spectacular-looking diving stops. Out-of-character for this year's plain-vanilla team, Valiquette also hammed it up to the fans after the game, first by waving and applauding to the fans in the seats directly behind the net after the "raised sticks" salute, then skating around the rink while waving to the crowd and high-fiving the mascot when he took the first star of the game. It's as if he's P.J. Stock now, or something.

The Wolf Pack's current 7-1-1 streak still leaves them 3 points behind Worcester for last place in the division, but only 8 points behind first-place Portland in what is literally the tightest division in the AHL.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Down Two, Then Left

Al being Al (Chris Rutsch photo)

The Hartford Wolf Pack pissed away a two-goal lead and valuable points in the division last night, losing at home to the Worcester Sharks, 5-4 in overtime.

Steve Valiquette was pulled after giving up two goals midway through the first period, a move that was described in today's paper as being symbolic more of the team's sloppy play rather than Valiquette's ("It was a message for them to play better instead of relying on Steve all of the time," said Ken Gernander, or something to that effect). Shortly afterwards, two goals by Nigel Dawes-- his first for the Wolf Pack this season-- and one by Dane Byers helped Hartford build a 4-2 lead.

However, three straight power-play goals by the Sharks, including the game-winner at 3:15 of the overtime period, gave Worcester the win and allowed the sixth-place Sharks to increase the distance in the division between themselves and the cellar-dwelling Wolf Pack to 5 points.

Ryan Callahan (Heather Rutsch photo)

Ryan Callahan scored the game's first goal, besides having at least 5 mini-breakaways during the rest of the game, and extended his goal-scoring streak to 8 games, the longest in the AHL this season. Dane Byers has a three-game goal-scoring streak of his own, along with 7 points (3g, 4a) in his last 5 games.

Worcester wore their cool all-black uniforms for the first time against the Wolf Pack this season. Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss even wore a plain black helmet and pads, making him look like a shadow stormtrooper or something.

Shark at random (Photo: Heather Rutsch)

There was also a point mid-way through the second period when there were two pucks on the ice at the same time for about a half-minute or so, after the puck hit the protective netting and then fell back to the ice before the ensuing face-off without the refs noticing it. It wasn't until play went into the corner and there were two pucks right next to each other that referee Rob Martell saw the first puck and picked it up.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dog At Large

Thanks to the terminally unfunny Colin McEnroe, I have found a new blog to add to my Favorites list: Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke, which expertly analyzes those Marmaduke cartoons that are otherwise so hard to figure out:

Marmaduke likes to stand by houseplants and breathe on them
until they die. His owner-lady has given this uncharacteristically
subtle destruction of her property a name.

Not to be overshadowed, of course, is one of Joe's other projects-- Joe Mathlete Draws a Nipple on Ziggy's Nose So That His Nose Looks Like A Titty:

A man of many talents, apparently, of which obviously I am not.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Who da man? Callahan!

Non-recommended social behaviour, mind you (Chris Rutsch photo)

Ryan Callahan is at a peak right now, after extending his franchise-record goal scoring streak last night with a game-winning goal so stunning that it could almost become in Hartford Wolf Pack lore the equivalent of Marek Malik's shootout goal for the Rangers last year.

Trailing the Philadelphia Phantoms 2-0 late in the second period, the Wolf Pack chipped away to come back and tie the game at 2-2. First, Brandon Dubinsky scored a garbage goal at 16:50 of the second, his 5th of the season and second goal in two games. Then, early the third period, Ryan Callahan's shot from the corner hit the crossbar behind goalie Scott Munroe (no relation). The ensuing rebound was blocked from leaving the crease by the Phantoms' Martin Grenier, who was lying prone to the ice, allowing Dane Byers to jam the puck home.

Ryan Callahan then pulled off the kind of game-winning goal that kids imagine themselves scoring while practicing in their driveways . With 30 seconds left in regulation, Callahan stole the puck from David "My Name Is" Printz at the Philadelphia blue line and burst in one-on-one against relief goalie Rejean Beauchemin. Deke-ing to his backhand before pulling the puck to his right, Callahan faked Beauchemin to the ice before tucking the puck into the net.

"The Deke"

(Photos: Chris Rutsch)

In a flash, Callahan turned what had looked only one period earlier like a sure defeat into an electrifying 3-2 victory. Already with three times as many goals (18 to 6) as his nearest Wolf Pack teammate and currently sitting on a franchise-high seven-game goal-scoring streak, the previously-unheralded Callahan continues to be the story of the year, including him enjoying his NHL debut last week in front of family and friends near where he grew up in upstate New York.

Dane Byers continues to have a solid season of his own, hitting anything that moves on the ice (ala Ryan Hollweg) while currently ranking fourth on the team with 13 points.

Dave Liffiton vs. Triston Grant (Chris Rutsch photo)

Dave Liffiton had the only fight of the game, and it was a good one, dropping the gloves with Philadelphia's Triston Grant only moments after Brandon Dubinsky's second-period goal went into the net. Liffiton caught Grant with a haymaker while Grant was still moving towards him and then continued to hammer Grant with punch after punch, reverting back to his original non-stop style that he's hardly shown in any of his other fights this season. Grant was able to connect with a few hard punches of his own as the fight was winding down, but most of the damage had already been done.

Jed Ortmeyer returned to the ice for the first time since suffering a pulmonary embolism four months ago and looked even better than his old self, throwing out several thunderous checks as well as showing far more offensive creativity than I ever remember him having.

Thomas Pöck (Chris Rutsch photo)

Thomas Pöck, on the other hand, was miserable in his debut in a Wolf Pack jersey this season. Once again, Bruce Berlet's Courant article appears to have been ghost-written or something, saying "Thomas Pöck played steady and helped on the power play." I saw none of that-- in fact, the power play looked more ineffective and unbalanced than it has all year, and it seemed like none of the Wolf Pack defensemen (including Pöck) were able to keep the puck in the zone the entire night.

Former Ranger Petr Nedved skated in his 8th game for the Phantoms this season (4g, 4a) but didn't do much, other than drawing a number of cat-calls and heckles from a few in the crowd who seemed damn proud of themselves for remembering that Nedved had an NHL career, once.