OVERHEARD AT THE OLDTIMERS GAME
I hung out on the bench during the Wichita Thunder's first alumni game on Saturday. Not surprisingly, the banter on the bench was as entertaining as the game itself.
* Sean O'Reilly's steal led to a breakaway, but he fired a shot right into the chest of Tulsa goalie Brian George. O'Reilly returned to the bench with advice for his teammates: "He's got a quick chest, boys. Keep it away from his chest."
* After Jeff Leiter drove the net and fanned on a shot, several players took advantage: "Nice fake!"
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* "Use your wheels, use your wheels" a player shouted as Jason Duda carried the puck into open ice. "He is!" shouted Bryan Wells.
* Rob Weingartner dished a nice assist and then returned to the bench, where Duda had this comment waiting: "Good play, Weiny. It was just like you were 32 again."
* At halftime, when his work was done, goalie Bobby Desjardins wiped the sweat off his face and told the rest of the bench, "I'm done, and you guys still got 20 more minutes. That's the best part."
* After another Thunder player missed an open net and shot the puck right at Tulsa's goalie, O'Reilly said, "See, I told you he had a quick chest."
* With 16 minutes still left in the game, Duda noticed the Thunder getting its second wind: "We're finding our legs, boys, we're finding our legs. Let me know if you find mine."
* When the game was over, and the Thunder's 9-8 win secure, Scott Rozendal summed it up with, "Big win, boys. Big win, boys."
After the game, the players assembled at center ice for a group shot. And if you squinted your eyes and tilted your head just right, everyone looked 10-15 years younger.
* The Thunder's second goal in the victory against Mississippi on Friday has been credited to defenseman Mike Looby, meaning Jesse Bennefield has to settle for a two-goal game instead of the hat trick. After the game, Bennefield said he wasn't certain if he or Looby got the goal. "We'll look at the video and check it out," he said. "I couldn't care less really. It's a team game, and we got the win."
* The Thunder is 0-2 against the Texas Brahmas, tonight's opponent. A key difference is that Texas' offensive stars have produced. The top three scorers, Greg Hogeboom (2 goals, 5 points), Chad Woollard (five points) and Jason Deitsch (3 points) have combined for 13 points in the series. Meanwhile, the Thunder's top four scorers, Jesse Bennefield, Matt Robinson, A.J. Gale and Aaron Davis have combined for four.
* The Thunder placed goalie Marty Magers on injured reserve and signed Kevin Beech to a contract. Beech had originally signed a five-game contract.
Six Thunder players have played in all 50 games this season: A.J. Gale, Aaron Davis, Chris Greene, Jesse Bennefield, Travis Wight and Lance Galbraith.
The Thunder power play is zero for 10 in its last two games, and 1 for 20 in its last four.
TAP OF THE STICK
The ceremony for injured Marine sergeant Jonathon Blank was well planned and moving. (Blank asked the Thunder to keep private the amount of money raised.)
TAP OF THE STICK II
The Thunder's first alumni game was a treat for new fans and the diehards alike. The game was close, the Thunder won and, despite all the huffing and puffing from the oldtimers, no one passed out. (I was worried about Sean O'Reilly during a couple shifts.) The jersey auction raised $5,700, with Bobby Desjardins' sweater pulling in the most at $750. The money goes to Caring For Kids. It was a nice touch, too, for McClelland to invite the alums to skate with the Thunder on Saturday morning.
A new CHL-related YouTube video is up for your viewing pleasure. It's titled "Colorado Eagles coach strips." Dude didn't do it in his spare time, either, but during a real, live hockey game. There's no such thing as bad publicity, but the CHL bosses apparently didn't see it that way, bringing the hammer down on former Eagles star and current assistant Greg Pankewicz. Here's how it went down. While one fight was going on during the Eagle's victory over Mississippi on Saturday, Colorado's Joe Grimaldi headed toward a Mississippi player. But he was tackled by linesman Chris Wilson before reaching his mark. According to Adam Dunivan of the Loveland Reporter-Herald, "Pankewicz was irate, and methodically dismantled his three-piece suit and tossed the clothing to the ice. Shirtless, Pankewicz's last tosses included his loafers." Surprisingly, Pankewicz got all shy after the game and declined comment, but the CHL spoke loud and clear, suspending him the rest of the regular season, which amounts to 14 games. The league has also ordered the Eagles to remove the stripper's pole located on the team's bench. (OK, I made that last sentence up.)
Number of shutouts for rookie goalie Marc-Antoine Gelinas. It's a Thunder single-season record and ties him for the CHL lead.