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Friday, April 28, 2006

Rivermen receive the broom

More brooms out, this time Houston sweeping the St. Louis Rivermen. It was a final result many people expected, not me. The ole’ crystal ball must have been cracked. The Rivermen, opps, did I say St. Louis? The Peoria Rivermen came into the series with a load of talent from St. Louis and some mojo while the Aeros have been drinking from the swag of San Antonio all season, and still sucking. In the one game I saw between the two teams, I saw the Aeros handed their head.

Well, that wasn’t good enough. Even with Patrick O’Sullivan not stepping up as much as he did in the regular season, the Aeros drowned the Peoria team, two overtime wins in Houston, then a decisive 6-1 win in Peoria Monday and another close game, 5-3 Wednesday.

Nevertheless, an exciting season for the former Worcester Ice Dogs. Welcome to the AHL, Peoria.

On the other side of the West the Iowa Stars are fighting it out with the Milwaukee Admirals, hoping to take the Admirals to a seventh game in the Bradley Center. Iowa hasn’t always played 60 minutes of hockey, as is obvious in the blog by Lisa Colonno. Yet, it has used its younger legs to keep the more experienced Admirals from dominating the game.

Special teams and excellent goal keeping by Michael Smith have also played a part in this series. But clearly, the Big Mo’ Iowa was hoping would propel it past Milwaukee, is sputtering. This is another series where I’d expected an upset, based on the momentum of Iowa and it’s youth versus the callups Milwaukee suffered. Assuming Nashville is knocked out of the finals, Milwaukee will get the curse of the NHL players inflicted on it in an Aeros series. Will that be good or bad?

I’ve got Crunch v. Moose notes about bad officiating, nasty physical play, even radio and broadcasters are getting it on in this series, according to journalist and blogger Lindsay Krammer. Where did the rivalry between these two cities hit such a low that local radio broadcasters are after each other?

Here is the quote: “Syracuse is a barren outpost of the American Hockey League.” Which, by the way, is remarkably similar to the feelings of my wife who says “Syracuse is a dark, dark hole. The part of New York that Bingo looks down on.” Yikes! And yes, the former Amerks fan was trash talking hockey.

Here’s something else from the web log by Lindsay Krammer of the Syracuse Post-Standard: “We have to make his (Crunch goalie Pascal Leclaire’s) life a little more challenging in there… we might have bumped their goaltender a little bit, but they’ve taken it to another dimension… Goaltenders aren’t open targets to be hit.”

Responded Syracuse coach Gary Agnew, “It’s up to the referee to protect the goalie. Having said that, you have to be smart about what you’re doing…”

And later in the same blog: "After just two games, this series has turned ugly… Syracuse forward Mark Hartigan was pretty ticked at Moose… Prestin Ryan after… a play where (Moose) Sven Butenschon face-washed Hartigan to the ice. While Hartigan was lying flat on his stomach, Ryan skated at him with his blades headed toward Hartigan’s face. Hartigan moved just in time to take the hit on his helmet instead. ‘It was gutless,’ Hartigan said.”

Can you feel the love? I’m disappointed that it seems Manitoba fans have replaced Skates for Al the Ice Monkey (the finest mayoral candidate Syracuse has ever fielded) for numero uno on the hate list. All of which gives me the excuse to run that picture of Al here again.

The Marlies have had to switch venues to the home of the iced Toronto Maple Leaves following power problems at their home arena. The power went out, leaving fans stranded in the parking lot while players were kept in their locker rooms. That could have led to an interesting headline: “A Switch: Fans locked out; players in the dark.” Sort of a play on last year’s NHL season, if you get it.

And finally, can you believe it? The Penguins are struggling with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, behind 3-2 in the series? I’d hoped, since it became obvious the Wolves weren’t going to do it, to see the baby Pens die in a Grand Rapids final. Now, I may never see them on this side of the Hudson this year. So sad. I may have to replace my cheap MS Paint avatar.

Game play here, according to the Wilkes-Barre fan Jason is marked by poor Penguin coaching decisions and bad officiating. He sums up the series so far: “The Sound Tigers were simply the better team. They out hustled, out hit, and out worked the Penguins. They played disciplined when they had to, and attacked the net very well.”

That’s a sentiment I suspect Mark Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post agrees with. The journalist and blogger sums up the games: “Bridgeport was happy with the chances it got, just wished it could have done more with them… The Penguins blocked a ton of shots. The Sound Tigers seemed to shoot some times they could have passed, passed a lot more times they could have shot...”

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