NM Ice Wolves vs Topeka Pilots 2/21/2020

Starting line for NM Ice Wolves: Center: #18 Hanson, Left Wing #19 Rand, Right Wing #7 Rudrud, Defense #4 Langefels, Defense #2 Becker, Goalie #1 Laursen

I’m not even sure where to begin with this review. Honestly, I’m pissed. Let me be perfectly clear here. I’m pissed at the ref and his lack of ability call anything resembling a penalty against the Pilots. Tripping, elbowing, holding, hooking, boarding, roughing. It was a disaster zone out there and it left our boys with basically one choice because playing hockey wasn’t on the list of available items to do last night. It felt personal, like there was some sort of animosity brewing that wasn’t there last time we faced the Pilots on home ice.

From the perspective of a fan who was sitting next to our team tunnel and against the glass last night, it was… well… a cluster fuck of the highest degree. The opening period saw two goals by the pilots, at least one of those while we were on the penalty kill. But they weren’t calling things, you say! Oh, but they were… just that it was incredibly biased toward noticing everything we did and nothing the Pilots did. We’d get called for an accidental trip and they’d not get called for purposefully elbowing a guy, tripping another seconds later, and then popping one of ours in the face right next to the goalie. Freaking disaster and the fans were all pissed at the mistreatment of how penalties were being doled out.

I’m going to be honest. I’ve seen NHL games on TV that equaled the same amount of bullshit. It seems some refs do have bias toward one team or another and it always equals the same unmitigated disaster. One team left with little choice but to start playing as dirty as the other team is when the opposition starts coming down hard, realizing they’re getting off scott-free. I’ll grant you I mostly see it in certain teams in the NHL, but boy does it make me mad when it’s against my boys.

I don’t think I can even begin to write about the game itself. All I can see is red with how we were treated (mistreated). The entire second period was the Pilots and the ref vs the Ice Wolves, which should never happen. The end of the game showed pretty much everything about how much things had tipped off the deep end with us. The final whistle blew and Liam Ovington basically ended up in a squabble with most of the Pilots. Literally I thought we were about to have to see a team vs team fight that started with a whole team against one guy. Thankfully the ref and linesmen decided to break that one up, but too little too late. I’m almost afraid of what’s in store tonight in the animosity department. It’s a big ‘ol mess.

With that, I’ll sign off for today with a pleasant note that I’m a Capitals fan and we’re waiting patiently for Ovi’s 700th goal. Maybe today against the Devils. We shall see. ❤

Washington Capitals vs Arizona Coyotes 02/15/2020

Somehow managed to get Ovi stretching… go me!

As I said in my previous game review, we missed the NM Ice Wolves game on 2/15/2020 because we were traveling to Glendale, AZ for the Capitals vs Coyotes game. Earlier this year when I sat down and decided to see what teams I liked in the NHL, I came out the other side liking both the Capitals and the Penguins. Hilariously, it turns out they’re rivals, which… well… that somehow makes sense for me, so I’ll take it! (For anyone who saw my HockeyTV interview, our interviewer was giving us crap saying we’d be rooting for the Coyotes because my husband said “Eww Flyers” to him earlier in the evening. Ahh, sports rivalries.)

Anyway, we had decided to find a game close to us and our options were to go to Denver or Glendale. This time of the year, it’s safer to go toward Arizona, so I piddled around on the schedule and it turned out hubby and I were off for his birthday the week the Washington Capitals were playing the Arizona Coyotes. Fortuitous! And thus, a trip was booked and off we went bright and early in the morning on the 15th.

We ended up taking an Uber to and from the arena as it was just as cost effective as parking there would have been and was far easier than parking some random distance away. Turns out I’ve literally been in front of this arena before, long before I cared about hockey. This amuses me in many ways. Not the least of which was that we ended up eating where I’d eaten that last time I’d been standing in that exact spot.

The arena is very nice and I love the setup. Bathrooms were easily accessible and there were plenty of stalls to cover the amount of people so even the smaller intermission than I’m used to with NAHL made it easy enough to go. There’s a lot of food options and overall it was just lovely.

It was exciting getting to be under the same roof as so many big names, so close to so much heavyweight talent. Watching them warm up, I got that same giddy feeling I get before a NAHL game when it’s been a little bit between games. I let myself do what I do with the NAHL games, which is usually just pictures during warmies and then during period one and into period two, then I have to put it away before the halfway mark and just watch the game itself.

A few things I noticed was at first Ovi was definitely covered like he has been the past few games, everyone paranoid that he’s going to hit the 700 mark in goals on their game. It left him hanging back a lot more than he usually would have been and I think it’s messing with the team dynamic a bit, which is unsurprising given he’s their Captain. The Coyotes eased off a bit and gave him some breathing room and he did take some shots on goal. It almost worked a few times, but sadly he didn’t hit 699 or 700. I noticed Orlov board someone ass-end first, which was hilarious.

Granted, the Caps lost, but I feel like it was a great experience for us to have and it was fun. But if I’m being honest… I like my NAHL hockey games more. I think a lot of it has to do with the NAHL boys fighting for their ability to make a career out of hockey and it has a sense of desperation and need that the NHL lacks in that respect. That said, I did like going and would totally go to an NHL game again. I’d like to see the Penguins at some point and actually am planning on seeing the St Louis Blues if it lines up with when I’m in town this coming October. So… we shall see!

NM Ice Wolves vs Odessa Jackalopes 02/14/2020

New jerseys, all wins, maybe we make the opponents see red now? 😉

Starting lineup Odessa: Center #18 Max Klanow, Left Wing #11 Jack Rudin, Right Wing #7 Isaiah Huempfner, Defense #14 Spencer Kimball, Defense #2 (must have written the number wrong, there’s no #2), Goalie #35 Andrew Takacs

Starting lineup Ice Wolves: Center #17 Griffen Sanom, Left Wing #21 Alex Dominique, Right Wing #10 Michael McCosh, Defense #5 Brandon Holt, Defense #11 Liam Ovington, Goalie #1 Henrik Laursen

The Valentine’s Day game was special all the way around. Maybe there weren’t kiss cams, but there were red jerseys being debuted as our alternates. We also finally debuted a D-heavy lineup to see how it works for us. Honestly, it works pretty damn well if I do say so myself. While you could still see that some of the Ds were still stuck in a defensive mindset while trying to play in a forward position, it was still working. That combination of tactics making it hard to expect specific things from various players.

Most of our ’99s were missing from the game and while it originally made me feel like maybe they had also been traded off like we did with Emil Gabrielson, that doesn’t seem to be the case according to the roster. Still, these guys are suspiciously absent from both the 14th and 15th games and practice today (2/17). I do have the thought that perhaps they traveled to the prospects tournament anyway, despite not being on the roster. It seems like it might be to their advantage, but you never know. (For those that don’t know, we traded Emil off to the Ice Dogs in Alaska so that he would have more of a chance to be on a playoff team this season. It’s a good move for our players and I think we made all the right decisions giving our boys options to trade when they’re about to age out. While it hits hard not seeing Emil in the lineup anymore, it was for his good for his potential career in hockey and it was the right call all the way around. Wishing him all the best luck ☘️)

We were shining stars out there on the 14th. During the first period we got assessed a penalty for tripping and while on the penalty kill, we earned ourselves our first goal at 5:15 on the clock, Brandon Holt sliding the puck home past Takacs. During the second, we scored again at 3:46, this time with Keegan Langefels scoring!

It wasn’t until the third that Odessa answered us, #16 Ben Doherty slipping the one and only goal they earned past Henrik Laursen at just 19:13 on the clock. We decided to respond in turn, a beautiful pass by Alex Dominique to Griffen Sanom at 9:40 giving us our third goal of the game. They pulled their goalie at the end, giving them an extra attacker on the ice and we scored on the empty net, Griffen Sanom saucing a second one for the night at 1:21 remaining in the game. Shots on goal were 40 for us and 28 for Odessa, the ending score of 4:1 in our favor.

Something else incredibly special about the game on the 14th was me and my husband getting interviewed by our media guy, Michael Wisienski. He’s incredibly kind and the interview was fun (and a lot less stressful than I thought it might be). It was great being interviewed real quick and he seemed genuinely happy with having us. It was a great experience and one that HockeyTV has captured for eternity and well, if you’d like to see this author looking nervous and talking about our Ice Wolves, then here’s your chance! 2/14/2020 game, during 1st intermission.

We missed the 15th game because we were in Glendale AZ watching an NHL game. More on that later, but apparently we missed another 4:1 game wherein we whooped Odessa good. Go Wolves!

1/18/2020 Various Youth Hockey Events

U16 Ice Wolves

So yesterday I posted that we’d gone by to go to the pro shop at the rink and found out all the tournaments for youth hockey were there. Hubby agreed that going back to see the kiddos play would be an adventure and he was right. They’re so full of energy and seem to love what they’re doing. It’s endearing and adorable and honestly good. It was made better by the various people who seem to already know me (at least by sight) seeming delighted we were there to see the kids play. It felt nice to know it made someone happy I was there and I honestly kind of needed that brightness in my life these past few weeks. (Seasonal depression is trying to eat me again.)

I took my two cameras with me and actually used my DSLR for the first time in probably 7 years (judging by the memory card in it and what was on it). It was a challenge to remember what on earth I was doing with it and while I took around 200 shots, there’s maybe 40 passable ones. They’re not terrific, but it felt good to get back into trying to use it. I don’t think I’d want to use it during the NAHL games because it has no preview screen on the back for during the shots and there’s something both less and more intimate about using a camera you have up to your eyeball. I missed shooting that way, but I also rapidly realized why I didn’t at the same time. Someone walks in front of you and your whole body goes on high alert because you never saw them coming, your world narrowed down to a 1×2 window smashed against your face. At the same time I missed that very same thing just as much. It’s far easier to track what you’re shooting that way, your body and camera following on strict command whereas with a point and shoot you tend to just snap and pray in a stationary sort of sense a lot more often.

Anyway, enough of the camera blather that no one came here for, lol! We took one of our friends with us and amusingly he and I chose opposite teams to root for on the first game. (Spoiler, mine won.) We spent a good half an hour ribbing one another about the game, which I’m pretty sure amused a few people around us. I think it’s a lot different being there without knowing the people playing. The emotional investment is a gentle roll instead of a breathtaking boil.

After watching two games pretty much beginning to end and one intermittently when I got a chance to go over to the other rink, I can honestly say that these kids are good. You can see the things they’ve been working on in what they’re each trying to do: this one keeps trying to pass backwards, this one has been told to try to make the shot no matter what, this one is trying to get it between player’s skates to retrieve it on the other side, and this one has been told to give the others half a chance. Having spent a lot of time watching the NAHL Ice Wolves team and knowing a lot of their practice routines, you can see when something’s been worked on with which kid in crystal clarity. It was interesting to see that stage of their development from both a hockey fan perspective and the lens of someone always interested in how humans develop, how they learn and what things stick and don’t. Most of my writing focuses on people’s character, on how they interact with each other, how they grow as an individual. Kids show that on a much more outward level than most adults. It’s literal instead of a figurative suggestion. It shows in the things they love the most, so it’s only natural it shows here, too.

Overall, I loved going and seeing everything. I didn’t track the stats or the goals like I would with the NAHL games, I didn’t write a thing down. I tracked with my brain and my camera and it made it a completely different experience for me, too. Breaking my norms while still existing within them. Basically, if you get a chance to see this level of hockey: do it. It’s worth every minute you spend.

UNM Hockey Game + PeeWee Game + TV Viewing of NM Ice Wolves Game

Yesterday was… a strange day. We’re finally owners of our own home. As we were finalizing that, we found out that my husband’s grandfather died. Literally in the office, turning in the final papers, and got the call. Strange day. I won’t lapse into details on either of those, but let’s say we’re glad the home is ours and sad to lose someone, though he was also 99 and lived a mighty fine life.

I’d been planning a date with hubby and just decided to go with it anyway since he needed the cheering up I think. We went to Outpost to pick up a couple Ice Wolves stickers and ended up seeing part of the PWB game our PeeWee Ice Wolves team vs Durango Steamers. They were actually really cute and pretty damn good. I didn’t want to linger because I was pretty sure we needed to pay and hadn’t since I’d gone to the shop in the back, so we left probably before either of us wanted to and I sadly have no pictures of them. But trust me, it’s adorable.

We went to a nice dinner and then went to the UNM Lobos Hockey Club game (vs Colorado Miners). UNM got brutally thrashed, a 7:0 final score. I kept having to remind myself that they’re a hockey club, not a standard college team. There’s intense differences. They’re doing it for fun, as a club, not as people trying to climb the ladder to their careers like our NAHL Ice Wolves are. There’s an intense difference in game play because of that. It’s slower, more relaxed, far less checking (as in they barely clunked into the boards the few times they did). Someone got a match penalty over what I’m pretty sure were just spoken words. I have no idea what they could have said to have that decision, but it happened.

There was straight up a fight where no one got a match penalty and frankly, should have. One of the Miners used his stick to strangle one of the UNM players from behind. There were several other fights wherein up to 5 people ended up in the penalty boxes. What a mess.

They use the smaller rink at Outpost and while it’s interesting because you can see the ice better due to the elevation of the seats, it felt strange and slightly uncomfortable, probably just because most of my hockey experience is on the other rink.

Either way, we ended up sitting in the lobby area against the glass so we could watch that game and also watch the Ice Wolves game on the TVs in the center of the arena. Proud of our Ice Wolves last night. We pulled the Ice Dogs into overtime with at 3:3 score and despite the loss in OT, it was still a beautifully played game and it shows how much progress they’ve made. Even without the big W I hope they feel good about it and keep it together the next three games in Alaska. Got my fingers crossed for them!

The view from up top

NM Ice Wolves vs Kenai River Brown Bears 01/11/2020

Micahel McCosh (#10)

Once again we announced the starting lineup for both teams loud enough I could actually hear it (for the most part), so hurray! For the Ice Wolves we have Center Alex Dominique (#21), Left Wing Griffen Sanom (#17), Right Wing Spencer Rudrud (#7), Defense Logan Martinson (#22), Defense Keenan Johnson (#79), Goalie Garrett Mackay (#35). For the Brown Bears the starting lineup is (Center was garbled but I could swear they said #3 but the only Forward would be #23, so I’m going with it) Center Max Helgeson (#23), Left Wing Brandon Lajoie (#6), Right Wing Skylar Gutierrez (#17), Defense Michael Spinner (#20), Defense Preston Weeks (#25), Goalie Landon Pavlisin (#1).

We started the evening with the captain of one of the youth teams singing the anthem. The crowd joined in when he sounded a little nervous and it was actually a really sweet and touching moment that I enjoyed wholeheartedly. A+ Albuquerque.

If I thought we were fighting for it last night, I was incredibly wrong because tonight was absolutely on fire. We got our first goal so quickly I sat there gaping at it for a few seconds before managing to get on my feet and toss my squishy wolf over the boards and onto the ice (like you’re supposed to if you donated to get them). With only 19:38 on the clock Spenser Rudrud (#7) sank one in, completely unassisted. The crowd went bananas. I grinned so hard my face hurt. It was fantastic and for three games in a row now I’ve watched these boys be at peak performance and lord, there’s so much here I hope we keep even in the off-season. I hope they don’t tear us apart and try to rebuild something that they’ve worked so hard to create and this and the two previous games proves what we can be. I’ve said it before, but every time I say it, it becomes more and more true. I only wish the 99’s could stay. (Those with a 99 birth year have to leave at the end of this season as they age out of this league. I’ll be so sad to see them go, but I hope they’re on the path upward to something huge.)

The Brown Bears got one in past Mackay at 8:03, Peter Morgan (#22) managed it with an assist from both Porter Schachle (#11) and Cody Moline (#19). Unfortunately it was a missed pass from our side that they picked up to get that goal, but that’s life. I’ve been watching NHL games recently and you see it there, too. Just a part of the game as far as I’m concerned.

The rest of that period was intense, constant back and forth across the ice, repeated gasps from the audience. It was just amazing. We ended the first 1:1 and the crowd was buzzing.

Mid-hit. I’m kind of proud of this shot!

With the second period under way, we did something I’ve never seen us do except at the end of the third period. We pulled our goalie from the net and left it empty to give us an additional man on the ice. I guess the Brown Bears took exception to this tactic as they started a lovely fight with our guys. The result was penalties for their guys: Michael Spinner (#20) and Preston Weeks (#25) and one for our side: Alex Dominique (#21). After that, we kept our goalie in the net. (Possibly unrelated but hilarious to think that may have been the cause of it.)

Moments after the wipeout as the players cleared out.

They put in a goal at 11:11, completely wiping out Mackay and another of our players, pitching them both into the net. There was an entire pile of people in and around the goal and the play was called as a goal for the Brown Bears, Laudon Poellinger (#10) unassisted. Interestingly no one in the crowd seemed bothered to try to be angry about it, which was a new one for the crowd. Instead we just kind of watched the cluster fuck that was the pile at the net try to unwrap itself while the Brown Bears fans cheered. (Speaking of the fans, there were a hell of a lot for an Alaska team all the way out here in New Mexico. We found out later that the guy sitting beside us was actually an announcer for the team when they were at home, so that was really cool.)

We picked back up the tie at 9:19 with Alex Gomez (#74) sinking the puck, assisted by Alex Dominique (#21) and Brandon Holt (#5) and they pulled ahead once more by the end of the period while they were on the power play. Max Helgeson (#23) slipped it in on Mackay’s left side, utterly blindsiding him with it. He was assisted by Zach Krajnik (#24) leaving us down one going into the third period. Again, the audience seemed to think this was fine, no one grousing and that somewhat distraught silence never falling. The absolutely packed house was still thrumming.

Right out of the gates in the third period, the Brown Bears decided to duplicate our first period out of the gates success because at 19:47 Skylar Gutierrez (#17) put one in, assisted by Brandon Lajoie (#6). But we would not be had and that score was just not going to stand with us. At 13:48 Emil Gabrielson (#18) slammed one in, assisted by Drew Lorinchak (#20) and it was absolutely glorious, the whole play picture-perfect.

We scored again at 11:32, Joe Prouty (#71) assisted again by Drew Lorinchak (#20) with yet another beautiful play. Nothing dicey about anything happening out there on the ice and I can only imagine how our podcast guys were fairing up there in the box, their excitement probably as huge as ours down in the bleachers. (Can we keep Prouty, please? He’s an Affiliate and sometimes he’s not there but I’ve seen him play in person three times now and lands… someone get him out of the hellhole of Affiliate status and let us keep him forever.)

Proud Prouty (#71)

Determined to make this a night where we said ‘no’ to the other team very loudly and aggressively, we put in another goal at 6:02, this time Alex Gomez (#74) netting one with assists from Mitchell Becker (#2) and Jackson Wille (#23). Apparently the Brown Bears were not nearly so thrilled by this development because what our announcer would have called ‘chippy’ turned rapidly into more than that. At 3:52 a fight developed and by a fight I mean several in a small space. I also don’t mean like the tiny tiffs that happen all the time where someone’s cooler head prevails and everyone gets separated and talked to instead of assessed a penalty. Nope, I mean a beatdown. (Okay, not a Keenan level beatdown, because that one on New Years was epic and I don’t even mean a Frisk level beatdown because… wow no one has topped that one to date! But one, regardless.) Tristan Rand (#19) ended up leaving the game since he got assessed 4 minutes of penalty with less than that on the clock. Their guy, Presten Weeks (#25) got 2 minutes. Another scuffle at 3:21 resulted in another of theirs in the box, though I didn’t catch the jersey number, but he got himself 2 minutes in the sin bin for tripping.

Game shot!

At 2:23 we sank another one in, Philip Ekberg (#9) assisted by Emil Gabrielson (#18) putting us 6:4 and we could all see how the game was going to end from there. The Brown Bears managed another goal at 1:11, going up high on the net to get it in past Mackay who’d made his move down low already. No one announced who scored that goal but our app says it was Logan Richie (#7). The Brown Bears tried to tie it up, even yanked their goalie in the final minute, but it proved futile as we polished off the game 6:5 in our favor. The crowd could not be contained. The team grinned ear to ear out there on the ice, even all the way through their center ice lineup to say goodnight to us.

I won’t lie, I spent the whole third period absolutely yelling my usual array of commentary. I ran out of foam wolves to throw and since I sit in the front row, I’d hop up and bang on the Plexi for the boys instead. Up and down the front row people did the same. Wolves were sparse on the ice, enthusiasm was at an all time high. I’ve been to concerts quieter than we were during the third period every time we scored. My throat hurt the rest of the evening from how loud I was and how much I yelled when we scored. It felt like heaven and I slept like a baby.

My heart aches that I’ll not be seeing them again this month. They start a four week road stretch and I’ll be honest, I’m debating a month of HockeyTV even at $29.99 just to see these guys keep rollin’. They’re heading to Alaska to face the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and then the Kenai River Brown Bears again.

I took my close friend to the game when one of my other friends ended up not being able to go and despite this particular friend stating he doesn’t like sports and didn’t want to go to any of the games no matter how much I pestered, he appeared to actually be having fun. He may have even grudgingly admitted to not hating it by the end of the night. Don’t worry, I’ll convert him yet! I should thank the guys for a spectacular show all around for pushing him a little bit more toward accepting hockey as the superior sport. 😉

Onwards to a million photos I want to share!

Celebration hugs are best hugs!
All the stretches
Hey guys… (1/2)
can I be in on the secret too? (2/2)
Balance
Goalie love!
Goalie love for us Garrett Mackay (#35)
Brown Bears at the bench
Drew Lorinchak (#20)
Michael McCosh (#10)
Garrett Mackay (#35) – lean into it, buddy. (This guy is flexible as hell, like splits down further than I could when I was in ballet/tap/jazz at the same time years ago. It’s insane.)

NM Ice Wolves vs Kenai River Brown Bears 1/10/2020

Emil Gabrielson (#18) & Max Helgeson (#23) face off

For possibly the first time ever I got the starting lineup for both teams as it was announced loud enough for me to hear! Hurray!

Starting lineup for NM Ice Wolves was Center: Emil Gabrielson (#18), Left Wing: Philip Ekberg (#9), Right Wing: Drew Lorinchak (#20), Defense: Keegan Langefels (#4), Defense: Mitchell Becker (#2), Goalie: Henrik Laursen (#1)

Starting lineup for Kenai River Brown Bears was Center: Logan Ritchie (#7), Left Wing: Zach Krajnik (#24), Right Wing: Theo Thrun (#16), Defense: Ryan Reid (#14), Defense: Dylan Hadfield (#4), Goalie: Landon Pavlisin (#1)

Before we get to the game, I just want to say how much I adore showing up for warmups and getting to be right against the glass shooting between all the scratches and puck-marks. It makes my life so much easier when trying to clean up an image and I never feel like the pressure is on in any way. I get some great photos like that despite them not really being ‘game’ photos. They’re still photos of all the guys who’re out there working their butts off and that’s all that really matters. That said, I got some really awesome ones today, so I’m going to bombard you before the review. I’m not sorry.

Garrett Mackay (#35)
Captain Keenan Johnson (#79)
I call him Freight Train at this point, watch his hits and you’ll understand!
Henrik Laursen (#1), Keenan Johnson (#79), and Jackson Wille (#23)
Garret Mackay (#35) – Look at that mask. Damn, dude. ❤
Philip Ekberg (#9) and Keenan Johnson (#79) and a crowd of some other fine gentlemen in the background, of course 😉

Okay, I’ll let you out of the photo safari… for a while. Onward, upward, HOLY SHIT THIS GAME!

Right, so, this is how it feels to completely stomp two games in a row. I don’t just mean win, I mean holy fucking shit WIN. Spoilers, I know, but uh, well.. we won 6:2 and it was glorious. Ridiculous. Amazing. 10/10 could not get enough and want more hockey (oh it’s a good thing there’s tomorrow night).

We started off the first period on fire. Our first goal was scored by Alex Dominique (#21) with an assist from Griffen Sanom (#17) with 16:39 on the clock. I’m over here with my camera totally not expecting it to come so fast and yeah, I may have missed that shot on film because I was gaping at it so hard in real life! To make it all that much better, we did it again with 10:19 on the board, this time shoveled in by Brandon Holt (#5) with assists from both Keegan Langefels (#4) and Philip Ekberg (#9). To be honest, I think we scared the shit out of the opposing team. It was already pretty hot hockey out there but it moved from simmering to boil pretty quickly after that. The Kenai River Brown Bears sank one in with 9:14 on the clock, Zach Krajnik (#24) with an assist from Logan Ritchie (#7) doing the honors.

I think there was a red hot moment there where everyone was worried it’d get all tied up before the first period was over but then we decided another goal sounded fantastic and Connor Kemp (#55) performed this particular feat, assisted by Brandon Holt (#5). The Brown Bears put another past us at 4:42, this time Logan Ritchie (#7) with an assist from Zach Krajnik (#24) (did they decide to switch it up or what lol).

Our first period ended 3:2 with us in the lead and another pretty incredible feat happened. For the second game in a row, we chased a starting goalie from their net. The Brown Bears yanked Landon Pavlisin (#1) and put in Danny Fraga (#31). Last game we somehow got Amarillo to pull their star goalie, Charlie Glockner, much to my shock. So I’m now considering it an honor to our team when someone pulls their goalie after we pummel them with shots on goal. Can we make it a trend? How many goalies can the Ice Wolves chase off on opposing teams? Here we are y’all, that team we’ve been waiting for. Let’s keep it consistent and scare the pants off the other teams, shall we?

Logan Martinson (#22), Keenan Johnson (#79), Cody Moline (#19), Porter Schachle (#11)

Second period started just as hard as the first and we kept the pressure on in a steady way. It was glorious to see and I thank the door monitoring dude because he let me squish myself in the corner and take some photos of the game right up against the Plexi, which means I could mostly avoid the scratches and marks that flavor my usual photos.

At 7:07 we scored yet another goal, this one slammed in by Spencer Rudrud (#7), assisted by Logan Martinson (#22), putting us 4:2 which was just… holy shit, is what! We had a packed house and the crowd was a steady background noise the whole evening, people talking about the game, people doing what I was (enthusiastically encouragingly yelling). People sitting in non-quiet awe, basically. Yeah, good times.

Later in the second period we ended up with a penalty shot with 1:58 on the clock. Interference on a breakaway was called against the Kenai River Brown Bears (I believe the opposing player hooked our guy causing this call). I’ve never been to a game where a penalty shot was given so that was a completely new experience to see in person. I’ve seen it on TV for the NHL but never for NAHL level. Philip Ekberg (#9) made the best of it, forced Fraga (#31) to make the first move, and slid it in the left side of the net, bumping our score up to 5:2.

Danny Fraga (#31)

While the third period was a tiny bit more subdued to start with, it heated up quickly. More hits, more terror (I suspect) from the Brown Bears. It all proved entirely fruitless. Alex Dominique (#21) scored us another goal with 6:15 left in the period, sealing our fate with 6:2 in our favor. No matter how desperate the Brown Bears managed to get, we kept them out. Even when we were sometimes down to 3 men on the ice and them with 4 or 5. Now that’s the power play kill team we’ve been looking for!

They put 35 shots on our goal and we put 57 on theirs, a record high for us. It’s not the only thing we beat tonight. We finally kicked the Odessa Jackalopes out of 6th place and stomped them down to 7th in the South Division. No longer at the bottom, we’re looking stronger than ever. I’m so proud.

In other somewhat related news, it appears the Jackalopes fired their coach and replaced him as of yesterday. Head coach and General Manager Todd Watson is gone and assistant coach Adam Phillips is taking over until a new head coach is found. (New GM is apparently Tim Christian.) I strongly suspect it has a lot to do with how far down in the league they are and how many games they’ve lost recently. From the perspective of a hockey fan, I feel bad for the team and hope they find someone who can work with them and make them even better in the long run. From the perspective of an Ice Wolves fan… well… if I can be twelve for a moment and stick my tongue out, HA we are no longer 7th! (I can be nice and twelve at the same time… right?)

Screencap from the NAHL site with us being in 6th now!

I’m thrilled for tonight, where I get to show two friends who’ve never been what this game is all about. C’mon boys, let’s stomp them again so I can stand there and smirk at my skeptical friends when it’s all said and done!

Sometimes I shock myself with pics I manage while not smooshed against the glass. This is one of those.
Some opposing team love
Over the boards and through the woods, to the win we go? ;D
Requisite goalie love!
Now THAT’S some goalie love right there.
Hey, hey, both teams goalie love. It’s only fair!

Amarillo Bulls vs NM Ice Wolves @ Budweiser Bullpen 12/31/2019

Look at this lovely board, my dudes ❤

Last night I had the pleasure of going to a game in Amarillo. It’s not that much of a drive from Albuquerque to Amarillo and really with most of my road trips that have gone through there, you barely feel like you’ve started when getting to Amarillo, so it was a no-brainer to follow the Ice wolves out there and actually see them at an away game. We rented an Airbnb which was really fantastic and had the requisite meal at the Big Texan before the game.

For whatever reason the Bull’s arena – the Budweiser Bullpen – has the away and home reversed from most other places. (I personally think it has to do with the ballet advertisement on the boards on that side which makes it look like the players are in tutus, but i have no proof this is why, lol.) In any case, it meant we’d purchased our tickets behind the Bulls box on accident and no exchanges were allowed on tickets. But the game was hardly sold out so we just shuffled seats behind the Ice Wolves as people came in and moved on with our lives. We eventually ended up in the row directly behind the box, which was fantastic. I’m not sure why it was completely sold and left open, my only thought was maybe it was for player’s family and a requirement of some sort. No real idea and I’m pretty sure that kind of thing is usually only NHL level events, but who knows,with a huge stadium, I could see it happening.

Just so you can see how close we were, this was just me leaning a tiny bit forward to shoot through the gap between the two Plexi screens.
View from 4 rows up behind their benches.

Their venue has seating all the way around versus ours being on one side only and was oddly warm for a rink. The guys had told me some places had sludgy ice and were far warmer than Outpost, and you could definitely see it there. I didn’t need anything beyond my jersey layer and ended up taking off my usual hockey-layers.  Overall the seats are okay, though I prefer benches, and the staff were nice,so that’s a plus for the Bulls right there. 

The first thing I was amused by was the fact that the Bulls seemed to have owned the fact that they’re called the Bulls. Whereas we have little foam versions of our mascot Chilly the wolf, they have red “Bulls Balls”. We bought two as our souvenirs and spent a minute snickering like twelve year olds over them.

A pair of good ‘ol Bull’s Balls… apparently. Castrated much? I mean the score says so!

As for the game itself, oh man did we kick some serious ass. We came out the gates hot as hell, keeping the Bulls on the run (there’s a joke about run with the bulls in here somewhere, but that would imply we were running from them, not vice versa lol). We scored at 6:01 into the first period, Emil Gabrielson (#18) netting a goal that took us a few seconds to notice from our perch. The crowd was interesting from the perspective of being the away team. Whereas at Outpost we tend to be pretty loud about things when the opposing team does stuff, it was just sort of… shocked silence? Strange, but okay, I could deal with that. I’m not really mean with my words though I do cuss upon occasion when yelling about something. I, too, was less loud than usual at Outpost, but I was apparently loud enough a couple girls stopped me after and told me they liked my enthusiasm and had big ol’ smiles for me. That felt nice.

Lookit the happy heading toward the benches, just past two rows of dudes waiting to get off said bench 😉

Every chant of “Let’s go Bulls” that the announcer started, I waited until it died off and then yelled as loud as I could, “Let’s go Ice Wolves!” and my husband would do the clap part of it. Given I was sitting right behind the boys, I’m pretty sure they heard and I hope it helped bolster them in some small way. My other comments ranged from, “Hey, boys, take out the trash” (probably the meanest of things I ever say… unless we’re talking a certain team I’m a little mad at) to things like “keep it!’ or “get it out!” My husband likes saying “Defense!” when it’s needed and hilariously being so close to the benches, I actually heard one of the boys say that, too at one point.

Game-wise, Lauri Sertti (#28) scored for the Bulls in the first period, leaving us tied going off the ice at the end of the period. The second period started with a vengeance, at only 15:28 Spencer Rudrud (#7) claimed us another goal and then Keegan Langefels (#4) followed it up at 9:04. The Bulls couldn’t put anything in on us until the very end of the period with only 10.3 seconds on the clock, Matt Allen, their captain (#20) scored on us, slipping one past Mackay (#35).

Dig in there, boys!

The third period was intense. The Bulls actually pulled Glockner from the net and put in Max Gutjahr (#35), which was something sort of shocking, given Glockner is usually a freaking brick wall. At 19:06, Emil Gabrielson (#18) once again scored us a goal. Things got, in our announcer’s usual words “dicey” after that. Griffen Sanom (#17) and Nick Trela (#24) dropped gloves, but didn’t get too far on that fight. Another little tiff went off soon after, again nothing big. And then we got to Keenan Johnson (#79)’s fight and whoooo boy! Keenan doesn’t start fights he can’t end and he may have hit the ice first, but man, did he deliver on the fight. He and Aaron White (#10) had a go of it, Keenan got him in a choke hold and things got…we’ll go with messy given a ref got punched according to my husband. I saw part of it on a camera screen and part of it right in front of me. The crowd loved it. Keenan went in the box and then ended up serving a rest of game ejection for the fight, the decision made in retrospect apparently when he left the box and got kicked off the ice.

Drew Lorinchak (#20) scored us another goal at 7:23 and honestly, I’ve not seen the boys all look so happy as they did at that point, knowing it was going their way and not bound to turn around by then. And things did go their way, all the way to the end and it was beautiful. We won 5:2 and it was something to behold. While the Bulls put more shots on our net, we capitalized on the ones we took and it paid off. The guys were elated and so was I.

Drew Lorinchak #20

I’d found one of the Chilly foam figures in my bag and when they won, I pitched it into the box with them since I was right there at this little opening between the panels and it made Coach Phil Fox grin at me. We stuck around just long enough in-rink to tell the boys good job, share grins with them, and then headed for the parking lot. 

When I’d mentioned to the guys during my little ‘let me throw questions at you for my book’ session we’d be in Amarillo, I’d been told if I stuck around to see the bus off, they’d have it honk at me. So we found it and I waited at the top of the ramp and true to their word, they did get the driver to honk and there were lots of waves from the veteran player’s end of the bus that made me smile real hard. 

We found an awesome restaurant for dinner, ended up watching the end of an NHL game on the screens, had someone who worked really hard with my food allergies and they were super nice about the whole thing. A good meal, a good drink, lovely company (hubby), and a fantastic game to end the old year and bring in the new. What more could I have asked for?

I hope everyone’s new year began in such a great way and I hope it continues just as it has begun. With wonder, passion, great games, and greater people. Here’s to a rockin’ 2020, may all our hindsight be foresight in this year.

(I totally typo-ed Glockner as Blockner up there and seriously, that should be the guy’s nickname lol.) 

Hello, Coach!
Michael McCosh #10
Why all those empty seats though? We’d have packed this joint on New Year’s Eve, I bet ya.
Obligatory opposing team photo – Nick Trela #24
Some goalie love, here’s some Charlie Glockner #1
Charlie Glockner #1
Sadly through the glass, but Garrett Mackay #35 & Alex Gomez #74

Hockey Practice, A Million Helpers, & Finishing Up 2019

One of the many trophies in the lobby at Outpost for our various hockey teams: sled, PeeWee, Mites, Bantom, etc. There’s so many and it’s beautiful. This one caught my eye, look at the details.

I don’t know why I don’t talk about it. Maybe it’s that it feels so personal that I was allowed such a wonderful thing or maybe it’s that for the most part no one else is ever there and that makes it feel more intimate and less public, if that makes some amount of sense. Maybe it’s that I wanted to hold it dear to me until I was done writing and cling to it like fresh air to breathe. I’m not really sure, but I do know it’s a powerful thing that’s made me hold onto some of my experiences in the past few months instead of sharing them here. That said, it’s time to share just how lucky we are to have this team here.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s about winning or losing, because it isn’t. I don’t just say that because we’re at the bottom of the league. We could be #1 and I’d still be saying it. It’s about friendship and comradery, community and having fun, supporting others and watching a bunch of young men try to make their dreams come true. It’s about hope and home, even if it’s thousands of miles from your original one. It’s about lasting memories and that special spark of something that burrows itself deep inside you and stays for the rest of your life.

I haven’t really written about all the practices that I’ve been to or the guys that bothered to take time out of their busy lives to talk hockey with me. I haven’t said a word about the smiles, the fist bumps, the endless array of questions I’ve sent toward certain players, or the fact that without them, I’d be drowning in confusion. I should have been saying it all along, but I was clinging to it like a child with a new shiny toy who just doesn’t want to share with their siblings right now. I wanted to share, but I wanted to hold onto it as my own for as long as I could. It’s time I told you that this team is made up of the nicest people imaginable. A coach that says yes to some random author lady asking if she can come to practice and sit quietly and take notes. Three players saying yes, they’ll field all my hockey questions, all of them with complete enthusiasm. Staff and the owner of the arena literally calling me the team’s biggest supporter and striving to make a million of my dreams come true in two short months.

These two months feel like a year. Between my full time career, all the events I’ve been going to, hockey games, hockey practices, DnD gaming, and trying to write a full length novel for the first time in my life I’ve had very little time for the rest of my life. So this is for those people too. My husband who has always given me undying support in all I do. My friends who have been patient when I’m late to gaming or can’t make it at all or I’m too frazzled to play Heroes of the Storm with them like I normally would. To my dad for lending his ear when I got too caught up in myself to breathe. To the entire staff of my breakfast writing spot – Weck’s – who never once kicked me out and never expected me to pay rent on my table (though I always have). My online friends for listening to the incessant hockey talk they probably gave zero shits about and my editor who is braving the shit out of this novel for me. This thing I’m doing… it’s for all of these people and it’s because of all of these people that it’d been possible.

I’ve been to so many practices and taken so many notes it’s filled half a notebook. I’ve taken notes on penalties, game plays, line swaps, stupid shit that went down, and bullshit from every game that takes up another quarter of that same notebook. There’s an entire other notebook for the ever changing plot of this monster of a book. I feel like I owe something to those notebooks for surviving me in these two months.

I’ve watched games from NAHL, Bantam-class, sled hockey, NHL, and random video clips until I confused myself and had yet more questions for the guys, that once again, they fielded with ease and patience. I’ve written until my wrists ached, until I found myself staring at Twitter for an hour and had no idea what to do with myself, until I dreamed about my characters. I’ve spent entire days at work wishing like hell it’d get done so I could go home to write only to lose my will to do it the instant I got home. I’ve spent hours in front of my computer doing anything but writing and then cursing myself for wasting that time. I’ve switched music genres enough to scare everyone around me while writing it and I’ve learned to love something I had no idea I did in two beautiful months.

So this is me telling you something very important. Always ask for what you need: the answer may surprise you. Dream big or small, but always keep dreaming. Think you can and you most likely will. Give people a chance and usually they’ll prove they’re worth that chance.

I only hope I’ve proved exactly that to the entire staff of Outpost Ice Arena, the NM Ice Wolves 2019 team, and the staff of Weck’s. I already know I’ve proved that to my father, my husband, and my friends. Love you all.

There’s one more game this year for me. I’m heading to Amarillo for the team’s away game there. My heart swells with the opportunity and even though I’m going to an NHL game in February, I’m honestly more excited to go support our boys in TX. Here’s hoping we show those Bulls what’s up.

NM Ice Wolves vs Amarillo Bulls 12/21/2019

All smiles during warmies ❤

Starting Lineup: Left Wing Alex Dominique (#21), Right Wing Spencer Rudrud (#7), Center Griffen Sanom (#17), Defense Keegan Langefels (#4), Defense Mitchell Becker (#2), Goalie Henrik Laursen (#1)

I didn’t get a picture of it, but Santa did a puck drop last night, which was somehow one of the more heartwarming things I’ve ever seen. Cute and totally warranted given it’s our last game before Christmas and the last home game of 2019.

Instead of Santa, have our Captain Keenan Johnson (#79) and Goalie Henrik Laursen (#1). This picture is like a Christmas present… at least for me! Thanks my dudes!

Once again, we came out hot. Rockets on our skates? Check! Fire trails behind us? Check! Goal in the first two minutes? Check! The first one we slipped in past Max Gutjahr (#35) came to us with 18:23 left in the game, Zach Frisk (#26) accomplishing this particular task. The glee from the audience was amazing and set the tone for most of the night.

I had my nephew with me last night (giving him his first hockey game ever) and I spent a good amount of time trying to remember to explain stoppages and penalties so he wasn’t in the dark about it. Of course I also spent like 3 hours before the game yammering at him about how great our team is and just how wonderful the guys I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with have been. So I’m pretty sure he was biased going in, given his aunt’s word is golden (man, I’m so lucky he loves me that much!). All the same, he leaned over before the end of the first period and told me he had a new sport he cares about and man, the glee in my heart in that moment. That’s my boy! Love you some hockey the way I do.

How could you not love this?

Amarillo made a comeback with only 3:26 left on the clock, Devan Tongue (#13) shuffling the puck in past Laursen (#1).

One thing I noticed that amused me both nights with the Bulls in our house was that they have a tendency to slam themselves against the boards in the hallway, making it truly sound like a bullpen. It’s actually pretty funny and I get it, got to get riled up before going out and all that jazz. Our guys are a bit more sedate waiting to go out, so it’s an odd contrast when things like that happen. Some teams stand quietly, some get pumped up various ways. I experienced both last night with my seating being next to the away team and me going over to our side to stand with the kiddos that always usher our guys out on the ice.

I’ve mentioned it before when something happened to an away team player that I feel strange even writing it out, but that I work things out with words and let me tell you, words are something I have to get out after last night. Let me start by saying the player in question is okay. I won’t put names, I won’t do that to anyone reading, but there was a moment with one of our guys that seriously stole my breath away. In the ‘oh shit’ kind of way. Seeing someone take a fall like that, head over skates, struggle to get up… and when you know the guy, it’s even worse. Seriously had to take a minute after that and I’ve never been so glad to see someone get up off that ice as I was in that moment when he got up under his own power. My hands are a little shaky even now. Close call… but things are okay. He’s okay and that’s what matters. So if I kept going back to our side to help pump them up while going out on the ice, well, a little of it was also to reassure myself he was actually okay. Deep breath.

Here, have an exciting albeit crappy photo of our Captain doing his job 😉

Moving on… in the second period they scored again on us, (#12) making the goal on 16:13 on the clock and again with only 32 second left in the period, this time (#19) doing the honors on us. Still, the crowd was pumped. One lady with a cowbell kept ringing it anytime anyone did something good and my husband looked so confused each and every time. I finally told him maybe she just likes hockey in general and is excited either team is doing something good. Sort of the same way I can’t help but clap for good goalie saves or murmur things like ‘that was a good steal’ even when it’s the opposing team. Gotta respect good hockey no matter which team it’s coming from. She just chose to use a cowbell to announce her pleasure with it. Go her!

Anyone ever wonder what the view from my seat looks like? This, right here. So close!

Mr. Heckler was back again… and lord, someone make it stop. He just chooses someone and screams at them and gets all the people around him to do it, too. It’s funny like one time and then it’s annoying. Chillax, my dude. (He picked on the goalie last night for… reasons? Gutjahr is actually really good and yeah, here I am defending the opposing team again lmao, go figure!)

In the third period we wracked up another goal with 16:06 on the clock, Logan Martinson (#22) sliding it in with an assist from Brandon Holt (#5). The sold out crowd loved it. If the Bulls fans were quiet, I wouldn’t have known it, because honestly my section was just as loud as I’m pretty sure it was jam packed with Bulls fans last night. I think that qualifies as ways to know it’s a good one!

So wish this photo was less blurry (scratches on the glass are so difficult to shoot through), it’s such a good one. Alas, have it anyway.

This year has been a good one for so many reasons and a lot of those reasons equal hockey in our lovely city. I wish I could ever properly express what it means to me that they’re here, playing their hearts out, and are comprised of such a wonderful selection of human beings. I hope they know even in some small way how happy they make me. Not just the team: the staff, the owners, the coaches, everyone. Keep shining bright in the new year, everyone. You’re a brilliant star in my life and I hope I’m one in yours.

Obligatory board-squish photo. First one I’ve gotten that wasn’t all blur or someone’s shoulder!
Pregame rituals