Trip Thoughts…

Well, it was a long 12 days away from home with over 3,300 miles travelled, seven games called with some incredibly good highlights and some extremely bad lowlights. 

Through it all, some things made this trip bearable and enjoyable…and with that, I’ll throw out some personal highlights from the road trip…

First, and foremost, the best highlight for me was on the bus after the win in Saskatoon.  As we get ready to leave the arena, Assistant Coach Brian Pellerin turns the bus radio on and finds the closest  station and it is playing the new AC/DC song “Rock N’ Roll Train”.  The volume is cranked and the players, coaches and yes, even the broadcaster, revelled in the moment. 

It was fitting that it was AC/DC that came on and it would have only been better had it been “TNT” blasting over the bus’ sound system.

Our new bus driver, Steve, also got initiated into the fraternity with the usual two horn blasts as the bus rolls out of the opposing team’s parking lot.  That is something that hasn’t been heard enough the past few seasons.

Secondly, it was great to see some of the young Hawks achieve their personal “firsts” on this trip.  Killian Hutt (vs. Moose Jaw), Riley Boychuk (vs. Saskatoon), Troy Rutkowski (vs. Saskatoon) and Oliver Gabriel (vs. Swift Current) all got their first WHL goals on the trip.

Also, Keith Hamilton got his first WHL start and victory against Saskatoon.  It was fun to watch Hammy skate the length of the ice to join in the celebration after Rutkowski’s OT winner.  I’m pretty sure that his skates never touched the ice the whole way.

Hutt’s six assists in the last three games was the best run by a Portland player in a long time.  I’m hoping he got some consideration for the WHL player-of-the-week honor seeing in how he was a part of six of the Hawks last nine goals.

Taylor Peters got his first of the season in Regina, but not his first WHL goal as he had two last year as a 15 year old.  Still, it was, in his own words, nice to get the monkey off his back.

It was great, as usual, to meet the parents that made the trip out to Saskatchewan and Manitoba to watch their sons play.  It was a bit of a strange year as Portland has no players on their roster from the Province of Saskatchewan, but it didn’t limit the parents from Manitoba and Alberta from making the trip.

Also, it was great to visit with my fellow broadcasters from the Eastern Division – Bruce Luebke, James Gallo, Drew Wilson, Les Lazaruk, Rod Pedersen and Jon Keen.  We only meet in person once a year (unless our teams meet in the WHL Final), and it was fun to catch up and talk hockey with these fine folks.

Thankfully, four of the six above have their own blogs so I can read their thoughts throughout the season, but it is always nice to talk face-to-face.

There was a lot of time for the team to bond on the trip and it resulted in some fun times, including what may be the best shoe-check in the history of the Winter Hawks.

In Saskatoon, a certain un-named veteran, snuck under the table at the buffet serving line with a bottle of ketchup and got every one of his teammates shoes with a squirt of the red stuff as they passed by loading up their plates.

I heard rumors that the coaching staff, or a member of the coaching staff, was the master-mind behind the stunt, but I can neither confirm nor deny that information.

It was mastery and it earned the applause and respect of the rest of the team for pulling it off.

Second funniest moment on the trip, Luke Walker getting convinced by Travis Ehrhardt and Scott Gabriel to get his hair cut and straightened into a ‘mop-top’, Beatles style haircut on the off-day in Saskatoon.   It was great to see the reaction of the rest of the team at the team meal that night…with a few players calling him “Ringo”.

As we arrived back in Portland, Walker was sharing the story with his billet and I mentioned Ringo and Walker stated…”yeah…who’s Ringo?”   

I feel old.

Ehrhardt and Gabriel paid for the haircut and I think it was worth every penny.

I had someone ask me in the comments about my favorite building on the trip and I don’t think I have a true favorite.  I liked the views from the Brandt Centre and Westman Place in Brandon better than the others.

I liked the old school feel of the Art Hauser Centre in PA as well as the Credit Union i-Plex in Swift and the Civic Centre in Moose Jaw.

The Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon had the nicest media room.

All in all, it was fun to visit them all.

But, I’m glad to be home…

 

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5 Comments

  1. Someone should call Child Protective Services on Luke Walker’s parents. He has no idea who Ringo Starr is??? ;)

  2. Man, I’d pay to have Scott cut HIS hair, haha!

  3. Andy,

    Thanks for the nice commentary upon your return. Also thanks for the play by play. It helped me make it until the Hawks treturned.

  4. THE RECORD IN THE STANDINGS WON’T SHOW IT, BUT I THINK THE ROAD TRIP WAS A SUCCESS. THE ODDS WERE AGAINST US BEFORE WE BOARDED THE BUS TO HEAD BACK THERE.
    HERE WE ARE, A TEAM THAT COULDN’T SCORE A GOAL TO SAVE THEIR LIFE. ADD TO THAT, THE WORST TEAM WE WERE PLAYING WAS STILL A LOT BETTER TEAM THAT WE WERE, AND PLAYING ON THEIR HOME ICE. YES, THE PRINCE ALBERT GAME WAS HORRIBLE. BUT LISTENING TO THE BROADCASTS, I FELT THE TEAM WAS STARTING TO COME TOGETHER. AND THAT WAS SHOWING UP ON THE SCOREBOARD. WE WERE IN MOST OF THE GAMES, AND ACTUALLY LED IN A FEW OF THEM, WITH A FEW BOUNCES COULD HAVE WON A COUPLE MORE OF THEM.

    DEFENSE IS STILL A PROBLEM. BUT NOW TEAMS NO LONGER CAN FEEL THE GAME IS NOW OVER JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE A 1-0 LEAD. WE MIGHT NOT SEE AS MANY BACK-UP GOALIES AS WE DID TO START THE SEASON.

  5. Hey Andy: Please share to us your favorite Innes Mackie story? I believe letting him go, was the WRONG decision. I don’t think it was his fault for the lack of talent and skill the past 2+ years.


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