Well, to start off…I took a short break. However, after a short talk with one of the ‘good people’ in the hockey world…I’m back. Anyway, I attended two different games from two different leagues on the opposite end of the spectrum this past weekend.
The AHL is the highest level of North American hockey and arguably the highest form of hockey in the world due to the NHL lockout. We decided to head to Cleveland on Friday for the Lake Erie Monsters vs Grand Rapids Griffins game. The 3 hour..(plus)…trip was just as eventful as the game. Our GPS failed to notify us of the exit for Cleveland, so we made a nice detour North of Cleveland for some sight seeing! After we had finally had the ship righted, we almost witnessed a quality smash-up. The driver ahead of us made a nice, smokey move to avoid clobbering people backed up at an exit.
Finally, we were at the game. No, wait. To be at the game, you have to successfully find the arena they play in. After some curb-side navigation, we arrived at Quicken Loans Arena; home of the Lake Erie Monsters and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Upper-bowl, attack twice zone in the corner, and on the end of the row. Pretty good tickets, eh? Not! For most of the game, we dealt with people walking in front of us to grab their $1 hot dogs and $1 pops. I’m from Pittsburgh…We say ‘pop’ here. The Monsters jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first with a tip in by David Van Der Gulik the power play. At the end of the first, I got to see what I was hoping to see! That’s right, a good ole dukes up throw down! However, first round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, Brendan Smith, pumped Monsters’ forward, Mike Sgarbossa, with some hard left hands.
The second period featured 3 goals by Lake Erie and 3 goals by Grand Rapids (shout out to Mitchell Heard on his first pro goal). In the 3rd, Grand Rapids tallied two more goals to put Lake Erie down by one. With just under seven minutes left in the game, Mark Olver decided to spark the team by engaging with Detroit prospect, Tomas Tatar. Olver would get the better of Tatar (who was bloodied) and got the 9044 fans on their feat. With one minute remaining, Tyson Barrie would make an impossible rush down the left side of the ice. Cutting through players like Swiss cheese, Barrie swooped to the corner. He picked his head up and fired a perfect pass through three players to Bryan Lerg , who slammed the alley-oop home for the game-tying goal. The excitement was short lived as Gustav Nyquist put the game winner in the net in overtime. We lost, but it was a great game and I got to see a couple of scraps!
On Saturday, we headed twenty minutes down the road for some NA3HL action between the Three Rivers Vengeance and the rough-and-tumble Flint Jr. Generals. This review won’t be as long as the AHL game, but it was just as interesting! The Vengeance jumped out to an early two goal lead on the Generals. After the second goal, Three Rivers forward, Kevin Kenny, decided to have a go with Tyler Reeves. Both got a few swings in with no damage done. However, the game was filled with slashes, head shots, bad reffing, and diving. I don’t mind a few scraps and physical play, but the Flint team was a disgrace to the sport of hockey. The term ‘good guys never finish first’ came true. Flint came back to win the game 4-2. Three Rivers avenged the loss by winning in overtime the very next day after a comeback.