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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Jon's Report from Red Deer

Same as the last post I don't really have time to edit Jon's text, so this is straight from him.

The hot tub opened up at 8:30, and that is where we headed. After a little dip in the pool, it was time to try out the waterslides. I had forgotten how much fun those could be. Remember to lie on your back, as that is the way to get going the fastest. Sitting is no fun, as you just don’t go very fast. You do need to be careful at the bottom, as water will get right up your nose. Another very important lesson I learned from all of this. Being thrown around on a waterslide and getting water splashed on your face is not the best thing to do when you had a little too much to drink the night before.

The first game for the Bantam AAA tournament was at 10am. We headed over to the rink to watch the four third place teams square off. A very exciting first period between North Shore and a team from Texas. North shore loves to hit, but the refs were calling it very tight, so that really hampered them. Texas jumped all over the powerplay, with two very good defenders that could handle the puck, skate, make great passes, and quarterback the powerplay. I really wonder how a couple of these guys would stand up in a couple of years in the WHL (if they choose that route being from Texas, or if they even know what the WHL is). The team for Texas had some funny names on it. There was a Grossman and a Hollmann. Some other teams in the tournament had some other names we found. Lethbridge has a Big Snake, and we wonder if it is any relationship.

We hit the road, and breakfast was at a place Booster Juice. It is one of these new drink places that offer you boosts. I had my favorite Coconut mix, and added a boost that was for energy. It was a liquid breakfast, which isn’t quite the liquid breakfast I would have expected, but worked very well. The large was very big, so I didn't need to eat again until dinner.

To get to Red Deer from Medicine Hat, you basically go right back through Calgary. The drive is about 4.5 hours. There are ways around Calgary, but not worth it, as most are one lane in each direction roads. The highway is the fastest way for sure. The rolling plains took a little longer this time, or at least it seemed to. Not as much to talk about after a few straight losses. For the last 30 minutes into Calgary, we kept a look out for something we saw on the way out yesterday. Right in the middle of someone’s yard was a very used and weathered Zamboni. We finally came across it, and I grabbed a picture of it. At Calgary, you turn north to Red Deer. The drive is about the same, lots of plains, lots of cattle. You really get an idea of the dangers of driving along these roads when ever couple of miles, the color of the road turns red, and there are little bits of

We arrived in Red Deer around 4pm, and once again, we went straight to the hotel to check in. The Red Deer lodge is listed as a 4 star hotel in downtown Red Deer (If you could call a couple city blocks downtown). They offered us a very great rate, and the hotel didn't disappoint. The rooms are very nice, and the beds very comfortable. This place has a nice pool, but no water slides.

Before the game, we headed to get some dinner. A friend from Calgary met us at the hotel, and recommended the "Rusty Pelican". I guess there is one in Seattle someplace, but none of us had heard of it. We sat at the bar, and once again had the appetizer platter. Very good food, and the lounge tender (her words, not mine) made a very mean Long Island Ice Tea. There was a strange special running for part of the restaurant. If you could name the player that wears number 4 for the Thunderbirds, you got a discount on your ticket. Luckily, seated in that section was the parents of one of the Thunderbirds, and they got the answer correct. Good for them. We shared a good chat with them when they were done. The lounge tender was in a betting mood, and since she didn't like WHL hockey, bet our Calgary friend a round of drinks on the Flames vs Oilers game.

The weather for this trip has been great, with just a little wind to make things cold. But, starting tonight, there didn't need to be any wind to make things cold. No longer did a t-shirt and coat work.

Red Deer plays in a great place. Probably seats around 10k. Very wide open around it with parking everywhere. Inside, the closest comparison fans in Seattle will know is the Tacoma Dome, only without the rounded dome. There is a wide open concourse, that on the sides goes under seats above it. The second level of seats are only on the two sides. There is a large bar on one end, with an obstructed view of the game. The other huge difference between this and the Tacoma done is you can actually see from any seat, and you are somewhat close to the action. They got the pitch of the seats right here. We are amazed at how many fans there are for a team in last place. Probably over 8k. Hard to find a place to sit not near anyone.

The game. Seattle played a very even first period. Much better then in the past. The second period is where Seattle took control. They had a powerplay, and kept the puck in the zone almost the entire 2 minutes. They didn't score, but kept the pressure on. For the rest of the period, they dominated play, winning all the battles. This continued for the third period, but Seattle could just not put Red Deer away. As you all know, Red Deer got the game winner on a nice two on one with a couple minutes to go, and Seattle just couldn’t get on in with the extra attacker. Both of Boyers goals were very nice shooter goals from close range. Both went top shelf, and were very hard. He had a couple close calls for the hat trick. Riku once again played in goal, and was very strong, making a few very good saves. I would have loved for him to come up with one more to keep Seattle in the lead, but it just didn't happen. A very frustrating loss for everyone. Seattle played well enough, and deserved two points from this one, but got zero. You could tell the players were very sad and frustrated as they skated off.

After the game we hung around and talked to a bunch of the parents. Family and friends got to go down below to see the team. There were so many family and friends. The Holloway’s said they had over 20 people. There were a couple others that had almost as many. It has to be great for the players to see everyone, even after a loss.

We headed back to the “Rusty Pelican” to collect on our bet from earlier. The Flames beat the Oilers 3-1, so the first round was on the lounge tender. We stuck around for a little while, had some dinner, then headed back to the hotel. Once we got back, we decided to take a walk through the downtown scene. In a little four square block area, you can find just about any type activity you want. Young dance clubs to country bars. We found a place that served hot dogs until 2am, and for $4, it was a very good hot dog. We met a very nice police officer named "Al". He either has been an officer for a very long time, or always works this area at night (or probably both). He seemed to know everyone by name, and everyone knew him. He was giving a ride home to a very drunk set of girls that knew him very well. After this, we watched a couple guys come out of a club. One was very drunk, and wanted to fight anyone. His friend was not drinking at all, and was trying to keep his friend out of trouble. The drunk one kept pushing his friend, and pushing him. All of a sudden, the cops show up, and cuffed both. Too bad for the friend that was just trying to keep his friend from getting in trouble, as he didn’t deserve to have anything happen to him.

We walked back to the hotel around 2:30am, and it was so cold. Lots of wind made it even colder. I had on my sweatshirt, and heavy coat, and was still a little cold.

It’s off to Edmonton in the mooring. We are trying to make a Midget AAA game up there to see what that action is like. It starts at 11:30, so we will see how close we come.

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