Monday, April 29, 2013

Hockey Trip To Chicago - Losers & Champs

As usual we brought two teams to Chicago to play hockey: Our stud team (Devils) and our pluggers team (Ice Ninjas) of which I am a charter member of.

Our Devils team walked all over their competition in the first game and followed that up with a tight one goal loss in their second game. This created a little uncertainty for them making the finals heading into the their last game. Suffering a 3rd period implosion the game finished in a 3-3 tie allowing the Devils into the final based on goal differential versus the team they lost to..........results to follow but first some pictures.

The finals Sunday morning resulted in a tight 2-1 win for the Devils. The celebration lasted through the day and night with the boys who were still in town taking the trophy with them through the bars.

*Image stolen from Banack's facebook and the dreams of single women everywhere

As for my team the IceNinjas there is not much to say. We got utterly destroyed the first game not even getting a shot on net until midway through the 2nd period. Our goalie who let in 7 goals in a loss was by far the #1 star of the game. It easily could have been a 20-0 game we were so outclassed. I like to think that it wasn't just us, instead it was a bad in pre-tournament screening and seeding. The team that hammered us should have been in the same division as our Devils.

Due to some unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances our all star goaltender had to get back to Edmonton on short notice before our second day of games. For games 2 and 3 we picked up a couple of decent goalies who we then left out to dry and unsurprisingly we lost 8-4 and 7-3. If we had our regular goalie with us we may have stood a chance in winning those games; but really, it wouldn't have mattered as we would have just gotten destroyed again in the final.

Oh well. Next year...

More on the Hockey Trip - Part 1 & Part 2

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hockey Trip to Chicago - Cubs and Blackhawks

Americans love sports. They put us Canadians to shame when it comes to fanaticism and the overall attention that they pay to their collegiate and professional teams. It is because of this that every time I am in an American urban centre I try to attend a game of some sort. On this trip I was lucky enough to get in a Cubs and Blackhawks game.

Almost immediately after checking into our hotel I met up with our larger team to head out to the Cubs game. It was a rainy Thursday afternoon and I was so relieved that they were actually going to play (they were rained out the day before) I didn't properly dress for the occasion. After a quick ride on the train we were at the second oldest park in the MLB.

The slow starting Cubs were playing the World Champ Giants and I was excited to see one of my favorites up close: Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. Our tickets were just past first base about 5 rows up. I thought they were pretty fantastic.

Pablo! Who is obviously comfortable on both sides of any plate. (Yes, that was a switch hitter fat joke...Heyo!) Seriously though, the guy is freaking huge.

The rain and snow were pretty cold so I made up for my earlier negligence by picking up a tuque and alternating between beers and hot chocolates for beverages. Obviously in the picture below the red nose is from the cold.

The Cubs started the game hot but it seemed an inevitability that they would lose. Living up to expectation the Giants overcame a 5 run deficit and ended up squeaking through with a win.

After some deep reflection on the loss we realized that we really didn't care either way and were in the mood to celebrate.

Pre Epic Slap Fight BFF's

The next night straight from our own games at the rink in Bensenville we headed to the United Center for my Detroit Redwings against the Blackhawks.

Our seats were way up in the nosebleed section where I firmly represented the winged wheel.

The atmosphere in the rink was absolutely crazy. The arena has long been know as the Madhouse on Madison and we fully experienced that right off the bat during the anthem. Everybody, and I mean everybody was cheering, clapping and yellsinging the Star Spangled Banner. It was something to take in. During the game every great play on the ice was acknowledged wildly by the crowd and multiple chants of "Lets Go Blackhawks" or "Detroit Sucks" reverberated through the building repeatedly. Many of the die-hard Oilers fans with me admitted that the atmosphere in the building matched the Stanley Cup finals in Edmonton a few years back. But this game was only just a Friday night game against a division rival. It was amazing.

The hockey on the ice was pretty stellar with a couple of lead changes, an overtime with only one whistle and  a shootout that went into extra shooters. The Blackhawks won 3-2 but my Wings managed to get a much needed point. It was the second best outcome I could hope for on the night.

Even now a couple weeks on I can't help but think how great watching a game at the United Center was. It's almost embarrassing to think that our American friends are better in rink hockey fans than us Canadians -  but it's true and its why I love watching games in the USA.

More on the Hockey Trip - Part 1 & Part 3

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hockey Trip To Chicago - Hanging in the Big City

(Part 1 of 3)

It was a rough season for the North Shore Ice Ninjas and for myself this year in rec hockey. The team had a ton of different players, many nights with too few skaters, some suspensions, and some injuries to key players. Personally, I had trouble with an oblique strain and my first goalless season. We finished 3rd last after being relegated down a division with a 7-20-1 record. Abysmal!

After being swept out of the playoffs we didn't have much to look forward to other than our annual tournament trip. This year, as the title of this post states was Chicago.

This was my second time in Chicago after visiting a few years back. My initial impressions of the city then were positive and this trip cemented my love of the city. Such a fantastic place with so much to see and do:

Fantastic architecture and buildings which almost made me late for the bus to the rink:
Carbide and Carbon building - love the green with the gold top

Trump International Hotel & Tower (which was under construction when I was last in Chicago)

Fantastic public art that integrates and complement the city

A weird exhibit in Millennium Park by the artist Jun Kaneko

The Frank Gehry designed Jay Pritzker Pavillion

Cloud Gate and the skyline

I really can't help but love the giant bean. And yes, I know it's called Cloud Gate, but I just don't care...It's a giant bloody stainless steel bean...and it's awesome. Much like the city, there's so much to love. You could spend all day there just watching the expressions of fellow tourists seeing it for the first time with wide eyes and be entertained. It's just genius how it is perpetually changing based on your angle, the natural light levels, cloud cover and the passing of the day. 

The fact that it is so big and you can position yourself underneath it is just a bonus. However, it should come with a warning, if you have had a few to many 'Old Style' the night before it can induce a bit of nausea.

Giant bean vortex to a land of giants

Each year when we do the hockey trip I start to feel my age catch up to me. I'm probably one of the relatively older guys on the team and my ability to bounce back from a late night for an early morning game wanes every trip. That being said I gave it the old college try.

With a group of 30 guys you are going to get some individual side trips and Mitz and I took the cake this year. As we are both fans of the Blues and listening to bands Mitz convinced me that we should go check out the New Checkerboard Lounge as the original had a great history including a legendary impromptu concert with Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones.

Expecting some great blues we were a bit taken aback when after a long cab ride south of downtown the grizzled old doorman at the New Checkerboard told us there was no blues tonight, just a local rap group performing. Mitz and I looked at each other and decided we should go in for at least one drink. Which in turn the elderly doorman replied "Are you sure you want to go in there?"

As soon as we stepped in we realized what he was 'warning' us of - we were the only white boys in the place and the dress and music pumping were decidedly 'urban'. We settled up to the bar, ordered some Old Style and listened to the first performance which consisted of 6 guys on stage: 1 kind of rapping, 4 hype men reciting "South Side N******" repeatedly and 1 other dude just kind of dancing there. At one point there was a dude on stage whose pants were so low that his belt and the physics of gravity simply ceased to exist. Trust me, the visual below does not do the local atmosphere justice.

We ended up having a few drinks and were soon befriended by an intoxicated amorous woman who took a shine to me. I gingerly navigated that minefield (ask me about in a non public forum sometime) and we took our leave as more and more eyes within the room started turning toward us. With some haste we flagged down a cab and got our mojo working at Kingston Mines for a great night.

And that was an early night of 3am. I was practically spry on the ice the next day.

Next up - Cubs and Hawks (Part 2) & Ninjas/Devils Losers and Champs on the Ice (Part 3)

Monday, April 15, 2013


I've been on vacation for the last 2+ weeks in Maui and Chicago so there will be a flurry of posts coming soon as opposed to the quiet of the last fortnight. 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

What I have seen so far in 2013

Super Aunt Chrissy entertaining the little ones

Idiotic Jersey Fouls

Some DIY crafting to create a perforated ticket

Roast Pig before and after in New Sarepta

Shameless consumerism designed for idiots to buy

More consumerism but at least cool looking

A UFC ringcard girl Arianny Celeste got her picture taken with me

Breakfast at Jay Bee's our new North Edmonton breakfast spot

My previously snow free deck covered in the white stuff over night


Wishes fulfilled

Ambiance at the Lingnan

Aunts and Uncles in Saskatchewan

A good looking couple out on the town