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Monthly Archives: September 2009

#10…Tested On Animals vs. Killer Klowns
Regular Season Roller Hockey League at The Plex, Fort Wayne, IN…Date unknown

Since moving to Minnesota, I feel like my roller hockey skill has vastly improved, mainly because of the talent that is available up here. I’ve told people that the lowest level of hockey up here is probably the equivalent of the highest division at The Plex in Fort Wayne. To add to that, I’d probably venture to say the best team(s) up here in the low division would beat the best team(s) in Fort Wayne in the high division.

I also just a couple weeks ago played what I consider my 2nd best roller hockey game ever.

However nothing compares to the night I had several years ago when I played with a team that was essentially put together at the last minute. There is a lot of backstory to the reasons why I played for this team but none of that is really important or relevant to this particular game. What it boils down to is, our team really wasn’t able to compete with most of the other teams skill-wise.

How we came up with our team name, Tested On Animals, I have no clue. I’m sure a few people who are on Facebook would know the answer to that, but off hand I can’t recall.

It was about the mid-way point of the season and we had a winless record. We were going up against a team who was either in a tie for first or one game back of first place, The Killer Klowns. It was a team that was usually quite competitive and were extremely physical, trying to be intimidating I suppose.

Going up against the Klowns on this night was definitely fun. Everything went right as we jumped out to an early lead. It was an end to end scoring chance-fest. The thing was, only one team was scoring, us.

The Killer Klowns had a player who I have a certain dislike for and I hate to name names of these people so we’ll just call him Jason Duff. This is a guy who thinks he is playing for the Stanley Cup every game. It’s similar to Softball Guy I guess but much more annoying. He’s also not that good of a player but thinks he is. Anyway, Duff is taking everything way to seriously and getting extremely (and noticeably) frustrated that he cannot score on me. He rushed me on one play and made it look like an accident which is clearly wasn’t. I was so in the zone that game that I simply showed him the puck and told him he dropped it.

Late in the game we pulled ahead to a 9-0 lead and Duff punches one of our players in the back of the head basically starting a small brawl which I was THIS close to getting involved in. Clearly showing his extreme frustration for not being able to score and apparently get his chance at playing in the NHL, he tries to take on three guys by himself and of course is ejected from the game. It was probably the most satisfying point of the night.

With less than a minute remaining, I stopped a clear cut breakaway preserving my shutout while we took the puck the other way and scored, winning 10-0. It was a huge thrill to be able to win our first game in the fashion that we did. It was also the only time I’ve ever achieved a shutout in roller hockey. There wasn’t much else to be happy about that particular season, but this was my favorite moment ever playing this sport.

As I mentioned before, I hope some of you on this team read this and will comment about it. I did enjoy playing with some of you. I really miss playing at The Plex and robbing your shots.

As I continue the countdown, posting a shutout against a first place team while playing for a winless club is #10 on my top 15 sports moments.

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#11…Quad City Mallards @ Fort Wayne Komets
United Hockey League Colonial Cup Finals, Game 2…May 2003

This game is probably the most exciting game start to finish I’ve ever witnessed. In fact, if I were to say how many Komets games were truly a great game to watch, many of them were indeed Komet losses. This game was no exception to that rule.

After a huge win the previous night in game one of the Colonial Cup Finals, the Quad City Mallards returned to Memorial Coliseum ice to try and tie up the series. They were out for blood and they got it both figuratively and literally.

The action was intense, the atmosphere as great as I’ve ever seen it at the Coliseum and the traveling fans who came from the Quad Cities made their presence felt too.

I tried to do some research and find box scores of some of these games, but I could find very little so please know this is from memory alone.

I remember how intense every hit was. It’s like anytime there was a check from either side, every ounce of energy was put into the hit. What really got the crowd and both teams into a frenzy was a flying elbow by one of the Mallards on Komet defenseman Troy Neumeier. Neumeier lay near motionless on the ground as he was clearly in the face as a melee ensued.

Komets star forward Bobby Stewart already had a pair of goals in this game, but they trailed by 1 with less than 10 minutes to go. Stewart was hit hard by a high stick and was bleeding pretty bad on his face. A 4 minute penalty was doled out and the Komets had a power play. The crowd rose to their feet when Stewart came out on the power play, refusing to get his face looked at. It didn’t take long for Stewart to score and the MC crowd exploded as hats reigned down from all over.

I was sitting behind the penalty box and could see Stewart pointing to his face while skating past the box. He said something to the nature of “thank you” while looking at the player who was serving the high sticking infraction. After numerous chances, the game eventually went to overtime.

The hitting and scoring chances didn’t stop there either. This was easily the most thrilling overtime period I’d ever been a part of. There were penalties called and all sorts of power play chances. After 80 minutes of play, the score remained tied.

As the 2nd OT began, I began to wonder if a stupid penalty would decide the game. I honestly can’t remember for sure if the winner was on a power play, but I do know it was Tom Menicci putting one home from about 50 feet past Komet goalie Tom Lawson. Like most goals Lawson gave up, this one was high above his shoulders just under the bar. I was honestly never big on Lawson as he struggled mightily with high shots and he had at the time the best defense the UHL had ever seen in front of him. We’ve had better goalies.

Anyway, it was a tough way to lose but it really made me happy to have witnessed such a great hockey game that had everything in it. In fact, it really set up what we make another top moment later on.

Game 2 of the UHL Finals vs. Quad City, a double OT loss is #11 on my Top 15 Sports Moments.

#12…Wells Street Merchants vs. some team from another park @ Hamilton Park, Fort Wayne, IN
1st round of Little League City Playoffs…12 years old.

This is the part of my Top 15 where it might start sounding extremely obscure. Please remember, this is MY list and as long as I witnessed it or was a part of it, it qualifies!

This was my first season playing actual Little League Baseball. I know, I was a couple years late to the party. I was playing other lesser leagues like Wildcat baseball.

I had the privilege to play for a local icon of youth sports, namely at Hamilton Park, Bob Beber. He gave me the opportunity to play the position where I could flex my athletic ability, shortstop. I didn’t play there exclusively, as first base became my 2nd position, but I feel like I made a great mark at short.

The season wasn’t a great season as we were a sub .500 team who struggled offensively. But as the first round of the City Tournament came around, we knew everyone was on the same level. Though we didn’t need it, I played the offensive game of my life.

I don’t recall who our opponent was, or where they were from, but we beat them easily. In fact, we dominated every facet of the game.

I’ve never been the greatest hitter in the world, but my speed was used quite a bit and I’d frequently bunt for a hit. I was the lead-off hitter most of the year and that’s exactly what I did on pitch number 1 of the game.

I don’t recall a whole lot of specific details of this game, but in my second at bat, I drove one down the left field line for a double.

Now in my third at bat, the outfield had noticeably shifted to the left. I admit I didn’t do it on purpose but i sent one high down the right field line where no one was near the ball. I remember hearing Coach Beber say to “come on Jason, come on, come on”, yelling from the third base coaches box. I took an extremely wide turn around second and managed to beat the throw to third by a split second.

I know we won this game easily and in Little League there is a 10 run rule, so we must not have hit that yet, but I actually got a 4th at bat. I’d be lying if said I wasn’t trying to hit the ball to the moon. I remember getting a perfect fastball on the outside part of the plate and putting a huge swing into it. At the time, I don’t think I’d ever hit a ball harder. It was a high line drive to right field heading right for the pole. As I’m sprinting to first, I’m thinking for a quick second “cycle, cycle, cycle”. It hits the “186” sign that is essentially as high on the fence as can be, and caroms oddly into foul territory. Needless to say, it was the most disappointing triple I’ve ever had.

When I got to third base, Coach Beber looks at me and said, “you thought you got it all didn’t you?”. I told him, I thought I did.

That was as close to a home run I’ve ever come playing organized baseball. Thankfully I usually made up for my lack of power with my speed, and playing the field.

I’d also like to know if anyone in Hamilton Park history had ever hit for the cycle, let alone a natural cycle.

Less than 6 inches from hitting for a natural cycle is #12 on my Top 15 Sports Moments.

#13…Quad City Mallards @ Fort Wayne Komets
2000 United Hockey League Semi-Finals…Game 1.

I must admit, I missed nearly the entire game. From what I heard, it was quite a matchup of scoring chances and end to end rushes. In fact, I’m not even sure what the final score was, but I think it was 4-3.

The 1999-2000 season was something new to Fort Wayne Komets fans. It became a time where for the first time in franchise history, we dropped to AA hockey, forever leaving the IHL they had been a part of for close to 50 years. The United Hockey League was without question a lower level, but at the time was quite an exciting league to watch (that certainly changed later on unfortunately).

The Komets finished 4th in their 5 team division but still managed to make the playoffs. After rolling past their first two opponents, they met up with a minor league hockey mecha, the Quad City Mallards. Quad City had a huge fan base, they had some of the best players in the league, and were a part of something that would get them into the NHL hall of fame, winning 50 games in 5 consecutive seasons, the first pro hockey team to accomplish that feat.

Led by 50 goal scorers Kevin Kerr and Glenn Stewart, with 26-4 Martin Villeneuve backstopping the team in net, the Mallards were going to be a true test. What really helped bring out the big rivalry with Fort Wayne, was Komets longtime enemy in the IHL, Kerry Toporowski.

As I finally arrived at the end of regulation time, I get to my seat to meet with my friends. I hadn’t witnessed an overtime game in a few years and this one was to upset the almighty Mallards.

While the crowd wasn’t more than about 50% capacity, it was an exciting time as you could feel everyone creeping closer to the edge of their seat in anticipation to explode.

Then about 10 minutes into the period, Keli Corpse (If I remember correctly) fed a pass up to Bruce Ramsay, yes Bruce Ramsay, the UHL’s all time penalty minute leader who probably had no business being on the ice in overtime. Ramsay came in on Villeneuve all alone and put on an absolutely sick side to side deke and placed the puck into the net on the ice the whole way.

It was an amazing moment at the time mainly because of how exciting this playoff run was, but because I was around a lot of relatively new hockey fans that I helped turn on to the great sport. I know it was a thrill for them to see what they had just witnessed as well.

We also knew that we had just gone up 1 game to 0 on the Quad City Mallards.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last as the Mallards went on to win the series and play for the Cup.

Bruce Ramsay’s Overtime goal for the Komets to beat the Mallards in the 2000 UHL playoffs is #13 on my top sports moments.

Iím going to be posting over the next couple of weeks, my top 15 sports moments that Iíve been involved in, or have been to in person.

There are no rules here, itís just some of the best sports moments Iíve been blessed to be a part of. Iím sure I missed some, and certainly nothing is official. If you want to comment on any of these, or something I may have missed, please do so in a positive and preferably respectful manner.

Some of these will be extremely obscure and others will be things most of you know…

#14…(18) Florida State Seminoles @ Ball State Cardinals
Women’s Volleyball regular season match…Sometime in Fall 2000.

This was without question the best volleyball match I’ve ever seen, in person or not. Thankfully I was there to witness it.

There was nothing special about FSU coming to Ball State, but it certainly helped that they were ranked 18th at the time. What many in the crowd at Worthen Arena were there for, was a setter turned hitter out of Elmhurst High School some 70 miles north of Muncie. Needless to say, there were a lot of people I recognized from Fort Wayne in attendance. Jamie Hibbard held several setting records at Elmhurst. I don’t know exactly what they were and to what level, but she was an awesome player who helped Elmhurst to a sectional title I believe.

Anyway, Hibbard got a full ride to FSU for volleyball where, at least in this match, she was an outside hitter and not a setter.

The match was played under the old rules before the rally scoring universally took effect. Please don’t get me started on rally scoring, I think it has basically killed the sport from a spectator’s point of view, and this match would not have been what it was under rally rules.

The Cardinal faithful were pumped up as the team was pretty good this season, in fact they did go on to the NCAA tournament in 2000. But with #18 coming into their building, there was electricity in the air that I’ve never witnessed in a volleyball match before.

BSU jumped out to an early lead and pretty much dominated the first game. After game 1, scoring was difficult to come by as there were an enormous number of side-outs. In fact, on many occasions there would be extensive rallies where the offense would just dominate, but the defense held it’s ground. There weren’t a lot of errors either as it was a well played match.

After taking a 2 games to 1 lead, the students were feeling the upset and the hostility was truly intense. You’d have sworn this was a BSU/Miami basketball game.

In game 4, which by the way took nearly an hour, no exaggeration, BSU had probably 7 or 8 match points they failed to convert. I don’t remember the final score but I believe FSU won with 20 points in that game. Games were normally played to 15 before rally scoring and remember, you have to win by 2.

The marathon came down to a 5th game and the crowd was loud on every single touch of the ball. The clutch defense of BSU would be what would allow the Cards to prevail. FSU had many what normally would have been sure kills, dug up by the defense, which subsequently turned the tables.

Every Seminole touch on Ball State’s match points had 5,000 people yelling “NO!, NO!, NO!” and the shift to offense had each touch produce a resounding “YES! YES! YES!” The explosion of the crowd after the win was incredible and a moment that is up there with the best I’ve ever seen.

3 hours 30 some minutes after the first serve, I had lost my voice and was sweating profusely. I wasn’t alone either.

Ball State pulling the upset of #18 Florida State is #14 on my list of Top Sports Moments.

I’m going to be posting over the next couple of weeks, my top 15 sports moments that I’ve been involved in, or have been to in person.

There are no rules here, it’s just some of the best sports moments I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I’m sure I missed some, and certainly nothing is official. If you want to comment on any of these, or something I may have missed, please do so in a positive and preferably respectful manner.

Some of these will be extremely obscure and others will be things most of you know.

#15…Rockford Icehogs @ Kalamazoo Wings
May 6, 2006, UHL Semi Finals, Game 2.

My team at the time was the Fort Wayne Komets who had already been eliminated by the Rockford Icehogs in round 1 of the United Hockey League playoffs. It was a Saturday night and we decided to take the very short drive up to Kalamazoo, Michigan to check out the Wings take on Rockford.

The previous night, Kalamazoo easily handled Rockford 3-1, but game 2 was a much different story. In fact, it was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen at any level. Numerous fights, high scoring, an awesome storyline, and a full house.

Let’s start with Rockford who was led in this game by former NHL prospect Billy Tibbetts. Tibbetts could have been a star, but he had a huge temper that always got the best of him. He was also convicted of raping a 15 year old girl when he was 17. Things spiraled out of control for Tibbetts and he found himself in the UHL. On the ice, he had no problem getting in the faces of others and doing whatever it took to find the net.

The Wings were led by Lucas Drake who picked a great night to do what he did. Now neither player was the star of their team, but on this night, they would go down in history.

There was a lot of special teams involved in this game as it was especially chippy early on. The Wings’ Kory Karlander started the scoring with a short handed goal in the first, while Rockford responded with 2 powerplay goals. They battled strong for 20 minutes and were tied at 3.

The second period was extremely tough on the Icehogs as Lucas Drake took over for the WIngs. He notched a couple goals, including the first of two short handed goals to give himself a hat trick. After a Nick Bootland shorthanded goal, Drake put up two more goals to give him a total of 5 goals, a UHL playoff record. Needless to say, Wings Stadium was in a frenzy.

8-3 Wings after 2.

Rockford got an early 5 on 3 powerplay in the 3rd period and capitalized when Tibbetts put in his 3rd of the game for a hat trick of his own. Two minutes and two goals later, another Tibbetts sighting gave him his 4th goal. He got pretty cocky as there was a small brawl. Tibbetts could be seen yelling at Wings fans at counting to 4, the number of goals he had scored. The fans let him know how to count to 5, the number of goals Drake had scored, and how to read a scoreboard, something the Wings were also winning.

The Icehogs were stellar the rest of the game, putting on an absolute flurry of shots, but Wings goalie Joel Martin stopped what he needed to and Kalamazoo survived 8-7 to take a 2-0 series lead.

The Wings would go on to win the UHL’s Colonial Cup that year but not before playing an absolutely epic playoff game against the Rockford Icehogs, which is #15 on my top 15 Sports Moments.