First of all, I am thrilled that the Bills have gotten off to a great start this season. I have been fully reminded of their 5-1 2008 start that ended so terribly, but this 4-1 start seems different. For one thing they FINALLY BEAT THE PATRIOTS, and even if they don’t win another game this year, I can take a decent amount of satisfaction in that victory. Of course, it would be WAY better if they win a lot more, so I hope they do. YAY BILLS! (George Wilson officially became my favorite Bill today- his insane ability to guide the ball into his hands from the other team’s QB is awesome.)
The Sabres started their season in Europe (hardly news- I know), and came home today 2-0 (again, not exactly news). They finally named a new captain, and being a Rochester gal, I fully approve of Lindy’s choice to give the “Rochester core” 4 As and a C. I’m assuming Miller’s unofficial letter is a given- and the only reason he’s not an official A or C is that goalies can’t wear a letter. He’s part of the Rochester core, too, after all. Anyway, I’m looking forward to a great new season of hockey. Here’s hoping the Sabres rock North America just as much as they did Europe.
Lastly, while I was watching the 2011 movie adaptation of Jane Eyre (one of my all time favorite novels) yesterday, I saw St. John, and thought “that guy looks REALLY familiar.” The actor playing St. John turned out to be Jamie Bell, of Billy Elliot fame, but “Hey, that’s Billy Elliot” is NOT what came to mind. Maybe it’s that hockey has been on my brain, and the video clip from the Sabres’ website about Luke Adam having his luggage left behind in Buffalo combined with his awesome play this weekend were on my mind, but my first thought at seeing Jamie Bell as St. John was “When did Luke Adam have time to film a movie? And how did he get such a great British accent?”. The pictures of the look alikes are below… what do you think?
I realize I’m a few days late with this (I also realize that I haven’t posted anything since February, but that’s beside the point), but the relationship between the Sabres and the Rochester Amerks has been restored!
When TPegs bought the team, and I learned that Mrs. Pegula is from Rochester, I hoped against hope that they would make this happen eventually. I never dreamed it would actually happen this soon (especially since there was the not-so-small issue of being contractually obligated to Portland for awhile longer). I should have known better than to doubt TPegs’ ability to make things happen. I wouldn’t really say I was doubting him, though, I just figured he had enough to work out in Buffalo and Rochester would just have to wait a little while. I will not think like that in the future. Terry Pegula can make anything happen.
As a Sabres fan who works in downtown Rochester, I am SUPER excited for the chance to see baby Sabres play on a regular basis. My office is literally right across the street from the BC Arena in Rochester, and I can’t wait to take advantage of the free parking I’ll be able to get for games and free tickets that my company occasionally makes available to us. Not to mention the possibility of
stalking er, coincidentally running into some future Sabres on my way from my office to my car. (The arena happens to be in between my office and my parking garage- last year I think I saw some Amerks a couple times while going to and from my car, but I didn’t care because they were only baby Panthers. I’d have definitely cared more if they were baby Sabres. And they WILL BE! YAY!)
When does hockey season start again?
After a game like last night’s (that was the awesomest shootout I’ve ever seen- ignore the fact that I’ve only seen, well, 5 of them in my one season as a fan), and the games against Toronto, Tampa Bay and Florida, I’m giving myself permission to throw my grandpa’s advice out the window and expect the Sabres to win each and every game from here on out. One disappointing game out of 5 isn’t too bad.
My grandpa’s low expectations approach came from being among those in Brooklyn who had their hearts trampled on and tossed aside by the Dodgers leaving town for LA. I have not had to experience that level of disappointment (although, perhaps, watching your favorite football team lose 4 consecutive Super Bowls and then slowly spiral to the NFL basement could come close). The good news is, the Sabres are NOT the Bills. I will remain excited for them each and every game for at least the foreseeable future.
Drew Stafford is making a serious run to claim the still to be determined title of my favorite Sabre. Certain factors (such as he’s pretty good trade bait right now, could very well sign somewhere else next year even if he’s not traded, and how do we really know if this is the new Drew we’re seeing or just another demonstration of his frustrating inconsistency) are hampering my ability to declare him my outright favorite, but he’s definitely earned a spot in the running.
The Sabres ROCK!
Sidenote: Monday marks the one year anniversary of the day that I became a hockey fan for life(USA v. Canada Round 1). Hockey is truly awesome. I’m really bummed it took me so long to find out.
That’s what my grandpa would always say to me everytime the Bills or Yankees would get off to a great start in a game and then start to blow it. He’d say it with a sigh, in a tone that conveyed that he expected the team to blow their lead and lose the game. Particularly since the Yankees were only so-so the last few seasons that Gramps was around for and the Bills are, well, the Bills, this was a phrase I heard all too often.
The Sabres this season have often made me think of that. How many games this season (take last night for example- they were amazing for the 1st period) have they gotten off to a great start and then blown it entirely in the second and/or third period? I haven’t been keeping track. So last night, when the second period of the Sabres/Pens game started going as it did, I heard in my head my grandpa’s voice saying “Here we go again, Katie.”
Grandpa would always caution me not to get excited when the Bills scored first, or went into halftime (or the 4th quarter, for that matter) leading, or when the Yankees batted around in the first inning or had less than a 4 run leading heading into the 6th. His 9 decades of sports fandom had taught him to keep an even keel. Don’t get too excited about the good games/plays, and the bad games/plays are not as disappointing.
He tried to pass this on to me, and I stubbornly refused to think that way for the longest time. I finally started thinking that way about the Bills, and then the Yankees. When the 2010-2011 season started for the Sabres, though, I refused to want to think that way. As a newly minted fan, I wanted to get excited for the team. I honestly did not think they could possibly let me down. Heh. Oh well. I’ve mostly come around now. I even found myself tweeting in response to Katebits suggesting that the Sabres were awesome after their performance in the 1st period last night “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” I’ve turned into my grandpa. And I think it may be for the best. At least I’ll be less vulnerable to disappointment. I wasn’t disappointed last night, because I expected the team to blow it (although I was still hoping that they’d turn it around).
And for the record, my grandpa is the only one who I let call me Katie. If you call me Katie, I will have to hurt you. You’ve been warned.
After a great scoring display during the first period of Tuesday night’s game, Caroline and I did not think the rest of the game would be able to match the excitement of the first. Well, the Sabres accepted the challenge-the puck had barely touched the ice in the second period(it may have still been in the air, actually) before gloves, sticks, helmets and shirts flew across the ice. It happened so quickly, I think it was McCormick (who wound up half undressed by the time it was over) and Getzlaf going at it. As Bobcats owner/manager, I was quite pleased that Getzi heeded my instructions to get more penalty minutes. The manner in which he incurred a 5 minute penalty was so great, that I will overlook his failure to take more than one shot on goal.
The officials sorted out the first fight, sent the brawlers to the box, and the remaining players waited a few seconds (about 5) before another fight ensued. (Seriously, you could hear the effort the arena announcer was exerting to say the time of the penalties with a straight face “Time of penalty- 1 second” “Time of penalty- 6 seconds”.) Gloves and helmets flew again- the players did manage to keep their shirts on for the second fight. The second fight was Goose and whoever is #28 on the Ducks. I know this because I was thinking “both 28s are duking it out”. (I just looked it up, and the Ducks player involved in the second skirmish was Kyle Chipchura.)
The play stayed fight free for about another 9.5 minutes, at which point Weber decided to take on Parros (remember my thoughts during warm ups that I hoped Parros didn’t hurt any Sabres?)- wow, Weber, just wow. That was either incredibly ballsy or incredibly stupid. I’ll give Weber the benefit of the doubt and just call it ballsy.
Oh yeah, in between the second and third fights, TEnnis managed to score another goal. And Montador incurred a cross-checking penalty. But neither of those really compared to the entertainment factor that the 2nd period’s three fights had.
The third period was relatively tame, compared to the first and second periods. The shutout was blown with a bit less than 5 minutes to go, and the Ducks scored a second goal a little bit later, but Rivet did manage to score his first goal of the season during the third. He got a respectable cheer from the crowd. I had a good view of his face when he scored the goal, and it looked like finally scoring a goal lifted a huge weight off of him, as a wave of relief seemed to wash over his face.
At some point during the third, Caroline and I even made it up on the giant HD screen, although it was only because the girls in front of us were doing some crazy dancing. And, to cap off the night, the DJ played “Sweet Caroline” (which is Caroline’s song, despite the fact that she hates it because her name isn’t actually Caroline), and Leslie, Eileen and I all sang along in honor of Caroline’s big birthday.
I know the Sabres should have won that game anyway, as the Ducks were at the end of their East Coast road trip, but the game was still fun to watch. I’m glad I got to go. It was a great way to spend Caroline’s 40th birthday.
I can’t wait to go to another game. Anyone have a spare ticket?
I love how the Sabres have a habit of winning when I go to games. They manage to get a lot of firsts at the games I go to, too- the game against the Capitals, they got their first home win of the season; last night, Gerbe and Rivet each got their first goals of the season. Clearly, I need to get to more games.
It was my friend Caroline’s (okay, her real name is Karalyn, but we call her Caroline because she really hates it and it’s one of the few things we can tease her about that actually gets to her) 40th birthday yesterday, and since she’s been a Sabres fan for her entire life, we figured it was only fitting that we go to a game for her birthday (we also all took the day off from work and spent the day shopping, which was loads of fun, but I was still looking forward to the game all day). We got the best tickets we could find and afford, and wound up ten rows directly behind the goal where the Sabres shoot twice. They were pretty good seats- the only disadvantage was the goal light blocked our view of anything happening on the far right side of the ice. We had excellent views of everything else, though, and fortunately for us, nothing really happened in the part of the ice that we couldn’t see.
Caroline and I went to the game with a couple of our non-hockey obsessed fans, Eileen and Leslie. Leslie was also at the Caps game with us, so she knew a tiny bit about the team. To give you an idea of what we were dealing with, here’s a summary of conversations we had with each of them. Eileen asked us before the game started “Is there a guy named Miller on the team?” Caroline and I were like “Huh?” (thinking “Is she really asking that?). “Is there a guy named Ryan Miller on the team?” “Um, yes, Eileen, he’s the [USA Olympic hero/Vezina winning] goalie.” “Oh, good, then I know who one of the players is. I also know, oh, what’s his name? Um… Kaleta! I know Miller and Kaleta from when they were Amerks.” Later in the game, Leslie wanted to know how tall Myers is, so we told her. We also told her that the shortest guy, Gerbe, is only 5’6″, to which she said “I have no idea who that is! This is only the second game I’ve seen!”
Let’s start with warm-ups. We had the best view of the Ducks warming up, and I related the infamous Bobby Ryan stolen stick/goal scored with the thief’s stick tale. As owner of the IPB Superleague’s Dodgy Bobcats, I got a little worried as warm ups progressed and I didn’t see Ryan Getzlaf on the ice. Here are the thoughts that raced through my head- “Where the heck is the Bobcat’s co-captain and star center? Was he injured and I don’t know about it? He’s still in my line up! The Bobcats do poorly enough as it is- he better be playing tonight. Dang, that guy looks fierce flying across the ice. Who is it? Ah, Parros. I hope he doesn’t hurt any Sabres tonight. Oh, there’s Getzi- finally! He better get lots of penalty minutes and take lots of shots tonight. Huh- in person, his head looks kind of tiny in comparison with the rest of him. He really looks like a hockey goon. OMG- I can’t believe how close we are! I can actually see players’ faces and read their names on their backs!”
While I was fretting over my missing Bobcat and then contemplating how good our seats were, Caroline was watching Miller on the other side of the ice and a couple times said to me “What is he doing?” To which I replied, “Huh? I’m not really watching the Sabres’ warm up- a Bobcat’s on the ice.” “Miller- he’s just letting the pucks hit him.” “Um, isn’t that his JOB?’ “He’s not even trying to stop them- he’s just standing there.” “Well, Caroline, I don’t know what he’s doing. Do we really want to try to figure out what the heck Miller’s thinking?” “I guess not- it just looks odd.” “Alright, then- I’m going back to obsessing over Getzlaf’s every move.”
After warm ups were done, a few arena employees came down and announced that we were doing the flag again, and it was starting with our section. They wanted to make sure we didn’t send the flag the wrong way. Our section started the flag off strong, but it kind of fizzled as it went around. One of the corners didn’t get held up properly, and it crept higher and higher within the section as it made its way around. I’m still not sure I get the point of it- but it was sort of fun to get to be a part of it, rather than just watching the flag go around.
The first period was a spectacular scoring display. As we had hoped, the Sabres spent a lot of time on our end of the ice. At one point early on, I thought I saw number 52 and “Rivet” on a player’s back and did a double take. The player turned around, and I saw the C and Rivet’s face- I leaned over to Caroline and whispered (because I was sure I was imagining it, and didn’t want the fans near me to think I was crazy), “Rivet’s playing tonight.” Caroline was like “What?” as she took her earbuds out (she was listening to RJ call the game on the radio). “Rivet’s back in the line up!” “Oh, that’s good.” I’ve felt pretty bad for Rivet, being scratched for just being old and all.
The Ducks seemed to spend the entire 1st period in the box, and the Sabres actually capitalized on it. First Stafford scored (I’m thinking he should only be offered 1 year contracts from here on out- contractyearitis seems to be good for him), then lil’ Nathan Gerbe got his first goal of the season (man, he really is little- wait, did Rivet get the assist? Good for him- it’s not his fault he got old. Yay, Rivet!). Kaleta was slammed into the glass head first by Jason Blake, and stayed down for awhile. We were relieved when he got up and skated to the bench on his own, and stayed on the bench rather than go to the locker room to be checked out. Ah, Kaleta, you may be a bit douche-y at times, but you’re a tough douche, and you’re our douche. Blake was ejected, and TEnnis scored on the power play- YAY. As the first period drew to a close, I was like, “There’s NO WAY they can top that period.” Boy, was I wrong.
To be continued…
Okay, well maybe not. But it was the first game I got to see in person, and it was still pretty darn good. Especially since the Sabres finally won at home (by beating the best team in the league), Miller was back in goal, Vanek seemed to, at least temoporarily, overcome some of his issues (our seats gave us a really great view of his overtime game-winner), and did I mention I was there?
There were definitely some things that weren’t so great about the game. As Caroline kept telling me, the Sabres were doing a really good job at passing the puck to the Caps all night. Fortunately for the Sabres, the Caps weren’t able to do too much with the passes they stole. Thanks to my friend Jared’s desire for cotton candy, we discovered that the pink cotton candy at the arena tastes awful. I didn’t like that Washington tied the game up in the third (well, not entirely- I was thinking how great it would be if the game went to overtime, and I’d get the chance to witness a thrilling overtime Buffalo win), as it meant that I spent the rest of the third period worried that everytime the puck got anywhere close to the Buffalo goal it would sneak past Crunchy and the Sabres would lose yet again.
We also wound up being seated in front of and behind the only guys in the arena hell bent on getting the wave started (they tried to get it going throughout the entire 2nd and 3rd periods- it never got further than a few people in the section next to us). Now, I’m not opposed to the wave when a game is a total blowout or otherwise uninteresting. I feel it is best utilized when fans need entertainment that isn’t being provided by the game being played. Last night, there was plenty to watch on the ice, and the constant attempts to get the wave started meant that every 30 seconds or so my view of the ice was blocked.
One such instance was when TEnnis got hit and left the ice bloodied (at least we think he was bloodied- we saw him skating off the ice with his hand under his chin as if to catch blood coming from his face). We didn’t see what happened, and didn’t hear what the penalty even was because the wave guys were yelling to get the wave started and trying to get the other sections to keep it going. We had no idea what happened to TEnnis until they showed the replay, and we almost missed that, too, because the guys in our section were trying to start yet another wave.
I participated the first dozen or so times they tried to get it started, but it was quite obvious that the rest of the arena wasn’t feeling the wave last night. The guys in my section just wouldn’t give up on it, though. At least they stopped (I think) during overtime. Our view of Vanek’s game winner was unobstructed by wavers, so I think they had finally let it go by then. Or maybe the game going to overtime got their attention back to the game, and they realized that maybe they would want to watch what was going on down on the ice.
Back to the things I enjoyed about the game. Being my first time at the arena, it was also the first time I got to see Sabretooth’s famous descent from the ceiling. I’m not sure it’s something I’ll find amusing on future trips to the arena, but I definitely got a kick out of it last night. I definitely appreciated being able to observe the entire rink at once, watching the plays develop and such. Also, I enjoyed hearing all the sounds of the game. Most of the sounds from the ice don’t get heard on TV- I don’t think I ever realized how many of the sounds end up getting missed in a broadcast. I really liked getting to hear the sticks being hit on the ice to get a teammate’s attention, the sound of the puck coming off the stick as it was being shot, the live sound of players slamming each other into the boards, and the crispness of skates stopping.
Aside from Vanek’s game winning goal, my favorite play of the night was Crunchy’s save against Ovi on the breakaway(not really a tough call to pick that as my favorite). Since Crunchy did make the save, I can say I enjoyed experriencing the collective holding of breath by the entire arena when Ovi got the breakaway and made his way down the ice, and then the eruption of cheers as Crunchy did his thing and denied Ovi the only shot on goal he’d get all night. Also, Leo is my new favorite Sabre…as long as he keeps playing like he did last night.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first in person Sabres experience. Although the Sabres got off to a really, really, really rough start to the season, after the last week and a half (and especially after last night), I think I can actually believe that they’re turning their season around. And I can say I was there when they finally got their first home win in what I’m sure will be an awesome season from here on out.