A succinct summary of the end of my evening...
Pete MacDougall: "How are you doing, Kathy? You look frazzled."
Pete hit the nail on the head. At that point, 'frazzled' was an upgrade...haha. Thanks, first of all to my pal Dana Barker, who saved the day technologically speaking, and in other ways, last night in Huntsville. Though I was definitely, frazzled, Dana rode in on his white horse and helped me with several post-game issues.
I enjoyed my visit to Huntsville. The newly renovated (to me) arena is beautiful. Loved the video board. It's been several years since I've been there and it was a pleasant surprise. Nice job, one and all!
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Ashley Balch, as promised, had passes for my traveling companion, my nephew Phillip, and for me. It was nice to see owner Keith Jeffries as well. He is such a gracious host. Thanks, Keith!
The first period, Phil and I sat in General Admission because we kept getting booted from our seats by season ticket holders. We didn't have specific seats and felt like nomads, so we went upstairs. Liked the vantage point and stayed there for one period. Then there were seats available behind the net, so we sat there with Dana and Jason Bray.
It took some getting used to watching the action end-to-end again. I used to sit up high behind the net many years ago, but now have gotten used to sitting at center ice, behind the players' benches. The good news is that I was right over Mark Sibbald's shoulder when not one, but two, pucks sat at the line, waiting for somebody to clear or bury them.
Mitch Wall's goal, like the one he scored in Huntsville last year, was "unusual". Sibbald made the initial stop, but didn't realize the puck had trickled behind him. He couldn't see it, and neither could anybody else for what seemed like an eternity. Alert play by Mitch to find it and pop it over the line. Big goal.
The Snakes jumped on the Havoc early, registering the first 6 SOG. Huntsville caught up and the advantage was only 8-7 with 9 minutes left in the period.
The Snakes drew first blood with the first Sam Bowles goal and Mitch's goal gave them a 2-0 lead. I was thinking what I'll bet a lot of you were also thinking:
It's time for them to put this team away. The Havoc were, as Jerome always says, on their heels. Columbus dominated them and, to be honest, Huntsville didn't look like it had the same jump in its step as it did during the Augusta series, which really surprised me.
I expected this to be a close, hard-hitting, low-scoring game. Shows you what an expert I am...haha. I was thinking 2-1, maybe 3-1. I figured Huntsville would come out flying, a carry-over from a huge series win. The underdog has everything to gain. They had game 1 in front of their home crowd, and didn't take advantage of it.
So you have a 2-0 lead and two choices. Play it safe, close to the vest and sit on the lead or get after them, get that third goal and put them away. A number of times this year, and others, the Snakes have squandered leads and had to fight to salvage the game at the end. That third goal, a shortie by Greg Beller, took away almost all of Huntsville's hope.
The Snakes poured it on at the end, but to tell you the truth, the outcome of this game wasn't in doubt from the second period on. The third goal cinched it, but I knew after the second that this one was a W.
I have, literally, run out of ways to describe Ian Vigier. I've known him for 5 years and never seen him in this kind of a zone. He is so focused and dedicated to his craft. He is a leader in that locker room and has put this team on his shoulders for the stretch run and playoffs.
Not that Ian has, by any means, done this alone. I've said all season that this D is outstanding. Such a blend of experience, personalities and dedication. Ian and Andrew Loewen couldn't succeed without Kevin Kessler, Andrew Krelove, Tom Maldonado, Dave Cianfrini, Will Barlow and Bret Tyler.
A story coming up on some of the offensive stars of this team. Check out the paper tomorrow!
In between periods, I was able to type the box score and part of the scoring summary. After the game, all I needed was the lead and quotes. I talked to the guys briefly and then sat down to write, or so I thought.
The arena has these little tables rinkside that I thought would be perfect for my laptop. It was great until I was threatened first with falling steel pipes and then the net. Dana and Phillip were, literally, standing behind me while I wrote, waiting to gallantly deflect falling debris as the arena was broken down. Finally, I was chased out of two different locations rinkside.
The clock is ticking and my (extended) deadline quickly approaching. So, Dana and I are headed to find a flat, dry surface where I can write and then file. I looked to my left and saw an empty room with tables. YAY. So, Dana and I head in there.
I start to pound on the keyboard when I'm approached by a security guy and told that this room was for PLAYERS ONLY. I'd seen Derek Pallardy sitting quietly eating when I went in there. I had no time or inclination to chat with or bother the players. I was on deadline...UGH.
I couldn't help but wonder what the guy thought I was doing with a laptop...checking facebook or email? So, with no time to drop the gloves with this guy, I'm getting ready to find a FOURTH location to try and finish my story. Dana once again stepped in and told the guy who I was. The guy says...this is a place for them to relax. I felt like saying...Pal, I bother these boys 24/7 in every location you can imagine...why should it be any different in here? haha
Well, I got voted back on the island...in time for me to lose internet service. Dana and I pick up the laptop and are now perched OUTSIDE on a railing, trying to get a signal. It would have been comical, but at this point, frazzled is the operative word.
When I finally found a signal, the battery died and I had to plug in the laptop. Final straw: my email account wouldn't open. Do ya'all think I could make all this up? Frazzled.
But all's well that ends well. Phil and I made it home at 4 AM. Made it through work today without napping at my desk. Now all geared up for game 2 tomorrow night.
Hope to see a lot of you there!!