Sunday, May 29, 2011

*Live Blog: Opening Night of The FHL @ Leisure Rinks

Bringing the Action on the Ice to Wherever You Are 

The internet is cool, iPhones are glorious, and the iPad is God's greatest work since he ripped the rib and created females. If you doubt my love for Apple, the internet, and Apple (again), this blog should give you a glimpse into why these devices are so great. (Hockey in a minute) Over the next six plus hours, I will created a fully interactive blog with photos, videos, inteviews, commentary, and description of opening night of, The FHL. I will do it all with just wi-fi, a MacBook Pro, an iphone4, and an iPad2. 

Anyway, over the course of the night I hope to create a blog that will read as good live as it will tomorrow. I want the players to have the chance to enjoy this work when the games are over. All you have to do is refresh. New posts will come every 15 minutes, so make sure you are looking at the most current version of the page at all times. Please feel free to comment in the comment section below and dont be afraid to make requests. Is there a picture of a certain player you want to see? Is there a video you want me to try and capture? A voice you want to hear? Just leave the word and I will do my best.

I will see you at the rink. 

5:00 PM EST: 

I just got settled in at the rink and have a pretty good spot on the balcony, outside of the warm-room, and just a few steps either way from having a great look at both rinks. 

Game #1 

Barons Vs. Whalers 

Interestingly, with the drop of the first puck comes the first game with clashing jerseys. Someone saved the day with a giant box of orange pinnies, and play moves fast up and down in-between a ringing of the horn to indicate a line change. With around 19-minutes remaining in the first game the score is tied at 2.  Before the game, I had a chance to get a video in each locker room. First the Barons, and then the Whalers....

With about 1-minute left in game one, action is about to start on the other rink as the defending champion Rockies prepare to take on the Jets. 

5:40 PM EST:

The first final score is in as the Whalers defeated the Barons 6-3. They will take one minute off and then play another game. 

6:00 PM EST: 

The Whalers and Barons are tied 1-1 midway through game #2. 


The Whalers have taken a 2-1 lead with only 5-minutes remaining in game number 2. If the game goes to a shootout, we will have the video. 


The Whalers secure victory by a final score of 2-1. The Whalers can finish the day no worse than tied for first with a record of 2-0. 

Game 2:

5:45 PM EST

Jets vs. Rockies

The Jets are captained by former prep hockey player Ryan Mackey. Interestingly, last year the team's goalie was OHL stud, John Cullen. Cullen bailed and started his own team (Cougars), but Mackey didn't have to look hard for a replacement. He just called John's older brother, Dan Cullen who played college hockey at Quinnipiac. The Jets made it to the finals last year before being defeated by the Rockies. 

The Rockies are captained by Vinny Scarsella and feature some of the league's most exciting talent. Partrick Kane sticks out in his purple jersey with an 88 on the back and his unmistakable hockey pants black with Blackhawks on the trim.  Also, Cory Conacher and Scarsella are fresh off of their senior seasons at Canisius College where they ended their careers first and third respectively on the Canisius all time scoring list. Anthony Day is on his way to Yale and Scott Jenks and Matt Kielich also bring Division-1 talent.  

6:00 PM EST: 

The Rockies have busted out of the gate and have a 5-1 lead only 10-minutes into the action. 

Quite a crowd has formed to get a glimpse of Par Kane. Or, could they be gathering to get a glimpse of this handsome blogger?

A loud "ohhhhhhh" just rang out from the crowd, not because PK dazzled them, but the referee fell flat on his bum placing the puck for a pentalty shot that was missed. 

6:20: The Rockies still have a commanding lead in this game, 2-1. One thing I am curious to find out today is how intimidating the FHL is for the "rookies." Does it intimidate a high school player to lace up his skates in the same locker room as Anthony Day and Vinny Scarsella? 

Game 1 is over and the Rockies are 1-0 on the road to a repeat with a 7-2 win. 

Here is a picture of the man everyone came to see:

He shattered a stick and gave it to an jubilant youngster. 

Game #2 between the Rockies and the Jets is underway and after having the reset button pressed, the Jets get on the board first, and lead 1-0. 


Quickly, the Rockies roar back for a pair of goals and lead 2-1. 


With ten minutes left, the Rockies are holding on to a 5-4 lead.


The Jets have played much better in this one but still trail 7-4 with, 2:48 left in the third. 


Pat Kane just dazzled us a bit. He picked the puck up in his own zone, carefully made his way through the neutral zone and dangled a defenseman before backhanding one in under the bar. The Rockies take it 8-4 and will finish the day with no worse than tied for first with a 2-0 record. 

Final Goal totals:

Pat Kane - 3
Anthony Day -3
Vinny Scarsella- 3
Cory Conacher- 4

Game 3: 

6:15 PM EST

Cougars vs. Toros 

After losing in the finals to Pat Kane, Vinny Scarsella, and the rest of the Rockies, John Cullen left Leisure Rinks frustrated. He knew that he could put together a team that could beat those guys, so he said goodbye to the Jets and created an FHL expansion team called, The Cougars. To stop the Rockies, Cullen called Sam Alfieri (USHL to Niagara), Tyler Matecki (Jr. Sabres to Fredonia), Nick Schaus (USHL to Mass-Lowell to the AHL), Kevin (AHL) and Kyle Quick (USHL), and Luke Hannon (USHL). 

The Toros are a family, literally, skating into the FHL with four sets of brothers. Dan and Matt Krug, Joe amd Ryan Rogalski, Mike and Pete Ratchuk, and Joe and Nathan Schuler.

Pete Ratchuk was a first-round draft choice of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. He was quickly traded to the Panthers where he made his NHL debut. One day, I had the chance to ask Pete what it was like to play with Pavel Bure and he told me this story. 

"We played a game against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. Most of the guys walk to the rink when we play there because it is so close to the rink. I was running a little late and ended up in the loby with only Bure. He didn't usually walk because he thought the New York media might harass him.  He asked me if I wanted to catch a cab with him so I did. We didn't talk much, it was a short ride, but when it was time to pay Bure offered saying, "I signed for 40-million today."

His brother Mike isn't too shabby himself. He joined forces with Tim Kennedy and Chris Mueller to win a national championship at Michigan State. He later turned pro and scored a Lemieux like dandy for his first professional goal. Check it out:

6:48 PM EST:

Halfway through game #1 between the Cougars and the Toros, the Cougars have a 3-1 lead. 

6:58 PM EST:

With Kane and Scarsella in the  clubhouse at 2-0, all the FHL eyes are on Johnny Cullen and his mates. As I sat down, Cullen got beat by a rookie on a penalty shot, but the Cougars easily defeated the Toros 7-3 in game 1. 


With 12:00 minutes left in the second game, The Cougars lead 1-0. 


Tyler Matecki just scored on a penalty shot to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead with 5:00 remaining. 


With 2:28 left, there is a lot of confusion. The Cougars have just scored 2 penalty shots but have only been credited with one goal. 

Into the final minute the score is 4-3. lets get video of the final minute. 

Video 1: The Cougars are down 4-3, and are pressing to try and tie the game with about 30 seconds to go. 

Video 2: After the Cougars tie the game at 4-4, the teams lineup for a faceoff with :15 seconds remaining. 

Video 3: The FHL tiebreaker goes something like this, the home team is awarded a penalty shot, any rookie player can take it, if he scores they win, if he doesn't they loose. No pressure, rook. 

In the end, the Toros get what essentially is a 5-4 SO victory.  This is the first split of the nights. 

Game 4:

7:00 PM EST

Chiefs vs. Wanderers 

The Chiefs are lead by Captain Joey Meyer and will open the FHL season against The Wanderers, lead by Joe Carosa. 

The Wanderers are in yellow and feature two former Buffalo Sabres. Tim Kennedy and Andrew Peters both are playing in the 2011 FHL. 

It doesn't look like Kennedy or Peters could make it tonight, but they should be at future games.

The Wanderers, despite the lack of their NHL talent won the first game, 6-4. 

8:06 PM EST 

With about 4:00 left in the second game, the score is tied 4-4. 

8:10 PM EST

I just got real lucky. I decided to walk over and record the last minute of game 2 between the Chiefs and the Wanderers. 

Video 1: Play enters the last minute...

Video 2: The last thirty seconds of the game. At the buzzer, the Wanderers break the Chiefs back with the game winning goal and a 5-4 victory.  Like the Rockies and the Whalers, the Wanderers end the night 2-0. 

Game 5:

7:30 PM EST

Nordiques vs. Maroons 

The Nordiques are lead by the league Commish, Nik Fattey and his brothers Chris and Marc. They also have a ton of talent. Larry Smith (USHL), Nick Bailen (RPI), Kevin English (Amherst), and Alex Lepkowski (OHL). 

The Maroons are led by their Captain, Justin Cefaly. The Maroons have plenty of talent, Scott Diebold (USHL) is in net. Matt Owczarczak (Elmira), Matt English (SPHL), Rick Lynch (Elmira), Alex Iafallo (U18) and Brian Goudy (Fredonia). 

8:17 PM EST:

The Nordiques and the Maroons are tied 3-3 with 3:30 minutes left in game number one. 

8:22 PM EST:

The Maroons go bar and in to take a late 4-3 lead over the Nordiques. Here is the last 30 seconds of Game #1 

8:33 PM EST

Darren McCormick (U18 Bell Tire) just scored on a breakaway about ten minutes into game number 2 to give the Nordiques a 1-0 lead. 

8:45 PM EST

With about 9:00 left in game #2 the Maroons have tied it at 1. 

8:55 PM EST

With just :20 remaining, Sean Brown (U18 Regals) scored to give the Maroons a 2-1 lead. Here is the video of the final :20 seconds as the Nordiques try to force a tie.

8:58 PM EST

Unable to tie the game late, the Nordiques drop a heartbreaker and fall to 0-2. The Maroons on the other hand can finish the night no worse than in a tie for first place with a record of, 2-0. 

Game 6:

8:15 PM EST:

Mustangs vs. North Stars 

The North Stars are lead by the intense, entertaining, and dazzling, Timmy Benner. Benner's squad also features former St. Francis Prep goalie, Mike Musialowski. Also, on Benner's squad is Nick and Joe D'Agostino, AJ DiRienzo, and Jamie Vona. 

The Mustangs are lead by captain, Chris Maxick. Chris has put together a team with a lot of young talent. Justin Hussar, Dylan McLaughlin, Nolan Sheeran, Ryan Cook, and Carl Lester all have bright futures. Also on the Mustangs, Matt Bessing (Plattsburgh), Chris Bradley (USHL), and Ryan White (JR. Sabres). 

8:36 PM EST

I have been watching the Nordiques and Maroons, but I took a second to look over and see how things were going at the start of the Mustangs and North Stars. Instead of hockey, I seen a helpless Matt Bessing (Plattsburgh) kneeling in a puddle of blood. I am not sure what happened, but it was ugly. 

Game On:

9:00 PM EST

This is officially the only FHL action left on opening night. With around 30-seconds remaining the Mustangs are holding on to a slim, 4-3 lead. Here is the video of the last thirty seconds of play. 

As you can see, the North Stars didn't muster even a scoring chance late, and the Mustangs held on for a 4-3 victory. 

9:12 PM EST

The Zamboni came out for what I am sure everyone thought would be a quick dry scrape to remove some of the blood on the ice. Instead, it turned into a comedy of errors with the poor outmatched Zamboni driver trying to maneuver around the rink.

9:13 PM EST 

The final game of the night is underway. 

9:14 PM EST

I figured with this being the only game going on I would be able to follow along and list all of the goal scorers. The Mustang's get on the board first with a beautiful shot by #12. I immediately get out the roster given to me by league commissioner, Nik Fattey.

First Mustangs goal, scored by #12, uhhh, #12, ummm, they don't have a 12. Anyone? Help?

Nik, has clarified the situation for me, #12 is for alternates. So is, 88. I guess Kane wanted 88 so he has it officially. Otherwise, 12 and 88, for subs. 

9:20 PM EST

I just talked to the commissioner for a few minutes and he  is pretty rattled. His Nordiques squad skated through the regular season last year with just three losses, but one night in to the 2011 season and they are 0-2. 

In the meantime, someone, not sure who, has taken a 3-1 lead. So much for keeping track of all of the goals in this game. 

9:22 PM EST

Rookie player, Mike Irwin just sniped to bring the North Stars within 1 goal. 3-2 with 17:00 remaining. 

9:26 PM EST

Mike Coyne (U16 Tonawanda) just scored to give the Mustang's a 4-2 lead 12:34 remaining. 

9:35 PM EST

With 5 minutes to go, the North Stars get one back and make it 4-3.

9:38 PM EST

The Mustangs answer right back and make it 5-3. Jaime Vona picks up a loose puck and busts down the center of the rink only to get halled down for a penalty shot. Here it is:

Vona misses on the penalty try, and the Mustangs are holding on to a 5-3 lead with just over a minute to go. 

9:42 PM EST

Mike Irwin scores to bring the North Stars within 1 with about 20 seconds remaining. On the draw, with the North Stars net open, the puck is won by the Mustangs right into the net for a 6-4 lead. The last 18 seconds brought no change and the Mustangs finish the night no worse than tied for first by winning both games. Here is video of the Irwin goal and the following face-off. 

9:46 PM EST 

The first night of the FHL is over.  The Rockies, Mustangs, Maroons, and the Whalers all finished the day 2-0. The North Stars, Nordiques, Jets, and the Barons all finished the day 0-2. The Toros and the Cougars both finished 1-1. 

That is it for the live blog. As the season goes on, you can expect at least two more live blogs, podcasts, and more FHL exclusive content. If you are interested this is where you need to point your internet:

Say goodnight Brees:

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