Friday, March 16, 2007

Bruins survive; keep good vibe at the Garden with final four Hockey East teams ready for championship

This watercolor, titled "A Scene on the Ice" by Hendrick Avercamp will hopefully be hung above my mantle some day. If I can't swing that with the wife, I'll settle for a prime spot in the "sports room."

The Bruins poor play and a few gin and tonics had me counting sheep through the first two periods last night. But in the third and into overtime and the shootout, the Bruins woke up, keeping both their playoff hopes and I alive for at least the time being. What was a rough night could have been a lot worse had the Bruins lost that game and a hope for the postseason.

We can thank Phil "The Closer" Kessel, as he has now been officially deemed by the Globe in today's B's coverage. Also important was that the Bruins kept a good vibe in the air at the Garden with the hockey east championships beginning tonight and wrapping up tomorrow. I'll be looking on from up top with the media on what should be an interesting three games.

Tickets are available online at that link but at this point, you are better off just getting them at the Garden. Also, students of any of the Hockey East schools can get $7 off any ticket, which makes possible a $10 ticket (originally $17 for the upper balcony area). Not a bad deal, especially for tonight, because that $10 is admission for both the 5 p.m. UMass Amherst vs. UNH matchup and the 8 p.m. BC/BU rivalry.

For more coverage on these games, check out the article The Hub of Hockey Hosts Hockey East. Many former Hockey East stars now current Bruins comment on the games and the likely scenarios that may play out this weekend. It's amazing how many of these guys came from Hockey East teams. Right of the bat, I know Chuck Kobasew and defensemen Andrew Alberts and Bobby Allen were former Eagles and Mark Mowers was a Wildcat. No Amherst guys though...Thomas Pock of the Rangers is the one guy in the league that I know came out of UMass.

Northeastern was shelled in two lopsided games against BC in the first round but three Huskies earned hockey east honors, it was announced today. Morris was selected as a fan favorite and more importantly, freshmen Brad Thiessen and Chad Costello were named to the All-Rookie team.

In bigger knews, 6'4 220 pounds of bigger news, former Husky blueliner Jon Awe is making his finally prescence felt in both the ECHL and AHL this year, possibly a sign of things to come in the NHL some day soon. Just a few years ago, he was manning the point for the Huskies. That is very occassionally when he was granted playing time. Despite his gifted stature, he played like a little man with a little heart. He could barely through a check, nevermind skate backwards.

Now, I'm not the only one surprised by his numbers this season at the ECHL and AHL levels. He has 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points in as many games for the Gwinnett Gladiators. And that is on defense don't forget. Also, in five games with the Chicago Wolves, he has posted a goal and three assists and a plus-5 rating. Although he failed to make it out of the Atlanta Thrashers training keep this season, those kind of numbers will earn him a spot on some NHL squad come next year.

And to close out today's post with a useful tool in hockey knowledge, I just skimmed through Wikipedia's listing on ice hockey and even for a long-time hockey fan and player like myself, there was plenty to learn in here.

For example, I learned that hockey may have originated in the Beni-Hasen tombs in Egypt, where 4000-year-old drawings show a game that looks like field hockey. I saw for the first time this beautiful picture which I would like to have framed above my future mantle of "A Scene on the Ice" by Hendrick Avercamp. I found out that the biggest crowd ever at a hockey game was 74,554 people at what is remembered as "The Cold War," on October 6, 2001, a game at Michigan State's Spartan Stadium which featured rivals Michigan State and University of Michigan. Apparently, the ice sheet used for the game cost half a million dollars. And lastly, I read up on what I know as "puck sluts" but what are also known as puck bunnies or simply, pucks. And although there's probably a few famous bunnies on each major college hockey campus, one lucky lady named "Emily Freaking Stone, who now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has the distinction of being famous for her behavior with the men of the CHL. I'd be curious to know what other information I could google about Emily Freaking Stone.

It will have to be another day because I've run out of time. Only two hours til the puck drops on UMass and UNH at the Garden.


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