Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes.

The game: Vancouver vs. Colorado. Anaheim vs. Dallas. Calgary vs. Edmonton.

Why I chose them: Cutie pie Swiss goalie is in net for the Ducks. Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, the rookie versions of Malkin and Crosby, are on it for the Oilers and I want to see another Canucks/fan altercation. Oh, and there goes Eberle with another purdy one. No clue how it just went in, but it did. It's his first even-strength goal. And it's only Tuesday. And he's only 20.

Fun factoid: When Eberle was on Hockey Night in Canada the other night, he noted that he had just taught Taylor Hall how to do his laundry. Oh, and apparently he knows how to cook too. Excuse me, where were these boys when I was 20? Oh right...I'm pretty close to his parents' age...so.....yeah. Ok. Moving on:

The quirk: Vancouver's jerseys tonight don't bear their last names. Dudes, that means I have to do the math to keep up. Most distressing.

The milestone: It has been exactly one year since I started this blog. In that time, I have branched out to an all-Portland Winterhawks blog on oregonlive and eventually you'll find this blog over on Kukla's Korner. On this most momentous of occasions, I have compiled a top 12 list of really cool hockey moments, one for each month I've been blogging. The first two happened before this blog, but they inspired it so they count.

12) The no-look backhanded hat trick that Evgeni Malkin parked in the Carolina Hurricanes' net during the 2009 playoffs. Why: I realized I didn't even know what a hat trick was. And thus ended my days of merely watching hockey as a humble observer. Because there is simply no excuse for that. It took five months before I shared with everyone else, but still....I count this among the top hockey moments/epiphanies in my life.

11) Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win the 2009 Stanley Cup from a small bar in a restaurant located within an RV park, on the eve of graduation from grad school. The directions from the hotel merely told us to turn right at milemarker 35. And there in the woods, by the edge of a river in Southern Oregon, on the eve of my own personal version of a Stanley Cup hoisting, I watched from 2000 miles away while the Pens decamped to Detroit to reclaim the most prized of all hockey possessions.

10) Jordan Eberle's first NHL goal. YouTube it. Enough said.

9) Nino Niederreiter's first NHL goal. It was like lightning. Fast, beautiful and kind of scary....that is, when you think about this time last year, he was still figuring out how to get to Valley Ice Arena. What a difference a year makes, indeed.

8) Sidney Crosby's mad scramble in the Islanders game where it was clear he was totally going for the goals that earned him a tie with Steven Stamkos for the Richard trophy. He's never been arrogant in talking about it with reporters. But it wasn't exactly a secret that he wanted it either.

7) Watching the Olympics while Jonas Hiller, Luca Sbisa and company showed why the world should be afraid -- very afraid -- of Switzerland.

6) Like, say Nino and his teammates taking out Russia for the first time in the World Juniors. And Nino picking up his own personal fan club along the way.

5) The Portland Winterhawks' Dash for Cash, 2009. The coach got a second or so put back on the clock, and Calgary Flames' draftee Spencer Bennett tipped a face-off to Chris Francis, who pulled off the mother of all Hail Mary passes to tie up the game. It was a hat trick for Chris and he went on to score the game winning goal in a shootout. Were it not for those extra two seconds and those two players, it would have been just another losing night for the Hawks. It is still legendary around these parts, and I suspect it always will be.

4) Sidney Crosby's game winner in the 2010 Olympics. Enough said.

3) The Portland Winterhawks (WHL) beating the Tri-City Americans to get into the playoffs for the first time in four years.

2) Ty Rattie's game winning goal against the Spokane Chiefs that put us into the second round with the Vancouver Giants. With a nice setup by Nashville Predators' draftee Taylor Aronson, thank you very much. The YouTube video of the team piling up on top of one another in the victory celebration is what I do for fun, and to remind myself there is beauty when all else is going wrong in my life. And if the Portland Winterhawks ever take it down, they will need to fear for their safety.

1) 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The date: June 25, First Round. The location: Wild Wings Sports Bar, downtown Portland. The purpose: watching to see which Portland Winterhawks would be taken in the first round. Attendance: Oh, about 75- 100 sports fans crammed into the restaurant and bar. The noise when Portland Winterhawk Ryan Johansen became the number four overall pick, going to the Blue Jackets: violated the city's noise ordinances. The noise when his teammate Nino Niederreiter was chosen fifth overall moments later by the New York Islanders: yeah, we definitely broke some noise laws. The next day six more Winterhawks were chosen, including two who went to the same team (Luke Walker and Troy Rutkowski) and Brad Ross, who was wanted so badly by Toronto they traded someone else away to get him.

Next up: Back to the collective bargaining agreement, and the Portland Winterhawks' two-game homestand against Kelowna this weekend.

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