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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rockford Ice Hogs and the Olympics

The Rockford Ice Hogs, who I've briefly written about here, have an 11 game winning streak going, have run away with the Western Division (? Conference) and are just two games from tying the longest winning streak in UHL history. Assuming they beat Fort Wayne tonight in Rockford, they'll play to tie the record in Flint Friday and then break it in Muskegon on Saturday.

Two key Hogs are not on the ice as crunch time comes. Michel Robinson, has been given a try out by the Milwaukee Admirals. Robinson has been up and down before. He was here at one time in the season during the worst of the turnstyle days. He was on the bench in Chicago just days ago, called up by the Crunch. Released today, he was quickly grabbed by a Milwaukee team that has sudden goalie problems. He was named UHL rookie of the month and goalie of the month this month.

Bob Nardella is captain of the Italian Olympic team. Nardela is a guy you often see in Wolves colors at the end of the season and the post-season. It seems we often need defence help, and Bob has been there for the Wolves for 1994-2004. He was also a member of the Milan (Italy) club and Alleghe, also of Italy.

Bob has played with the Wolves in each post season, except last season and 2002-3. The Italian team, of course, are there as a courtesy to the host country. Italy would not have been able to compete otherwise this year. Go Bob.

They may be affiliated with the Ads, but go Hogs.

The Olympic flame always burns a bit brighter when someone you have seen at this level is out there. Personally, we were hoping a niece would compete, sadly she withdrew last year. Instead we have Nardela and two goalies: Antero Nittymaki of the Philadelphia Flyers is third goalie for Finland. I credit Nittymaki with shutting the Wolves out of the Calder Cup last year. Without Nittymaki, who was then playing for the Phantoms, the final series would have been very different. I'll be hoping for metal for Antero.

Another net minder, one who I hope gets crushed, is Ilya Bryzgalov of Russia. Now in his second Olympics. I know he was expected to be the third choice for Russia in goal. He isn't on the roster right now, I hope that continues. This cheap shot artist now plays for the Ducks of Anaheim. Last year, while playing for the team formerly known as the Ducks of Cincinnati, he was in net against Chicago. Karl Stewart made a break away, was tripped by one of the defending Ducks, slammed into the boards-- unconscious. It's bad enough that Stewart was given a penalty on a play that sidelined him with a concussion for most of the rest of the playoffs. This Russian cheap shot artist in goal proceeded to slash the unconscious Stewart.

A lot can be written about former minor league hockey in Cincinatti, I think that incident will forever sum my thought on their play.

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