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Friday 18th November

The English vs the Welsh for the third time so far this season the Cardiff Devils are coming back to the house of steel, can our orange army close the gap between us both? A few drinks in our local, shandies of course followed by a hot dog a hot chocolate in this cold wet weather and we were ready to go, come on you steelers!

The first period the energy in the building was unbelievable from the Steelers not so much the devils mind travelling up here with only a few fans, as the minutes were ticking we were hoping and praying at-least one of us would score..BOOM 7 minutes in and Guillaume Desbiens dived to the floor sending the puck into the zone and then Colton Fretter tips it in 1-0! no wonder he was named player of the week by the elite ice hockey league.

The second period started and we were all hoping for another score from our beloved team, just one more, know credit given where credit is due Cardiff are a fantastic side. The second period was underway and flashes of red and white and orange and black are zipping all over the ice. Levi Nelson was denied his tip by Bowns but then Colton Fretter grabbed his second of the night weaving through the white and red defence man….COLTON FRETTER! Fingers crossed we keep this play up all night and we might just close the gap (as it stands we are fourth but we have four games in hand)

45:07 The Devils first goal hits the back of our net scored by Sean Bentivoglio Moose (Ervins Mustokovs) saved this twice before it fell back at his skates and a goal was scored. 2-1. The block where I sit is known as Rock the block (block 218) and we made sure we made the building move with our songs and cheers to keep our boys spirits high until just over three minutes later when we were silenced…2-2  Guilluame Doucet’s shot was a rebound of Moose’s skate! – I forgot to mention earlier this guy was sat in the penalty box pretty much all night. From here it goes downhill at 49.42 Patrick Asselin put the welsh up 3-2 and at that point we all knew what was going to happen and the over whelming feeling of ‘here we go again’ hit us all. Davey Phillips tried to reclaim the puck but unfortunately failed.

Sunday 20th November

The English vs the Irish – these guys have really crept up from the league last year! This win tonight is an essential if we win this we move up-to 2nd in the league. Pre game didn’t start as we usually do me and liam got there earlier visited the merchandise stall (by the way steelers fans 110% recommend the gloves they are sooo thick and warm) and a visit down to the glass boards to watch the guys pre-match warm up before we went back up to our seats ready for tonight’s antics.

The lights out had finished and the puck was dropped, which way was this going to be during warm up both teams were full of it. We watched, we chanted and we shouted (due to the play of Belfast Giants some pretty dirty tricks were coming onto the ice) after 12 minutes of this going unnoticed a holding call was made and Matheiu Roy took his advantage of the power play. After our game 48 hours ago we needed and urgent pick me up.

The second period was a mixed period. The second goal didn’t appear till halfway through thanks to number 76 Levi Nelson skating in from the right wing Jesse Schultz adding another power play goal into our pot! Whoosh its behind you! 3-0

The play came to a end and the arena came to a deathly silence. David Rutherford from the Belfast Giants was on the floor. Before this Rutherford elbowed Yared Hagos causing an injury, Desbiens then skates over to try and resolve this as per the code, as Desbiens arm goes round him Rutherford falls to the floor with flashes of green shirts and socks from his fellow team mates on top of him. Hagos is led off the ice. Rutherford is laid out – the last 1:10 was abandoned in this game and a stretcher was called on ice to help him off, now all my respect goes to Desbiens – this guy stood by his fellow opponent helped him out and accompanied him off the ice and waited with him whilst the ambulance arrived.

The Giants went into the third period and any hope of come back from them was gone. At 49:47 Schultz, Roy and Armstrong fire it straight through the net minders legs 4-0. We didn’t want a repeat of last weekend where the Panthers denied us a shut out, can we hold on? Wish I hadn’t have let that thought cross my mind as the thought crossed my mind Belfast scored ex steeler Colin Shields scored at 57:24. The last two minutes were drawing in and at 58:minutes into the game Ben O’Connor scores a fifth goal! We have done it!

 

 

Miracle

What a fantastic film! This film is so inspiring, and also again based on a true story which was one of the greatest moments in sports.I imagine that hockey will continue to define my life for a very long time.It’s hard to recreate the magic of a once-in-a-lifetime event, but Miracle comes pretty close,it  recaptures the spirit of the times, the personality of coach Herb Brooks and the tension of the game.

Miracle follows the true-life story of Coach Herb Brooks  and his team in there goal of winning the 1980 Olympic games in hockey. Standing against them is the seemingly invincible Russian squad who the team must overcome.The film follows the entire team from training, to the cut lists, and right to the Olympics.The Soviet Union had been the dominant hockey power for years winning gold medals in 64, 68, 72, and 76. The US is a team made up of young college guys molded into an effective unit by coach Herb Brooks. The US would end up playing the Soviets as a huge underdog. It is a story of the little team that could versus the superpower. David versus Goliath basically. The events taking place made this more then a hockey game. This was a competition between 2 countries with heightened tensions. Even before the puck drops you can feel the intensity in the air.There is one great scene after another, but one of my favorites is where Brooks tells them how they can defeat the Russians”You don’t defend against them you attack them.”This is the type of movie, that you would want to watch before a hockey game, because it just pumps you up. This movie really did show what hockey is about. It is not only a sport you play, but it is a sport you play with passion and hard work.

If you are still reading this it goes without saying that I think you should see this movie

Goon

This film is in the top 10 hockey films for me.Goon is a comedy about a guy who can fight well and plays hockey, but can’t actually play hockey. This is based on a true story about a guy Doug Glatt (real name Smith)who becomes a local hero just by simply going to a hockey match with his friend… well not that simple as he kind of gets into a brawl with a hockey player and eventually gets hired by a semi-pro team as a ‘Goon’ – I dont really like this phrase but ill save that for another day.Doug is a sweet even tempered guy but gratefully takes on the role of an enforcer.

One of the first great things about this film is that it has some of the bloodiest fights ever seen, and they’re all fun to watch because they come from a place of spectator sport and not filthy blood lust. What’s also interesting seems to be the character that is Doug. While obviously not human in his retention of pain and misunderstanding from everyone around him he was lovable. I will say it, I love the character of Doug Glatt, a man who sees the best in everyone and remains humble and loyal.From the romantic relationship between Doug and Eva  to his friendship with Pat , to his strange rivalry with Ross Rhea, every relationship in this film entertains.

The sports scenes actually build tension for the forthcoming final game, and some of these shots are just priceless. Especially when it comes to the fight scenes. They are unapologetically bloody, not at all over exaggerated, and feel very real and yet didn’t have the same glory attributed to them in the real world. There’s definitely a lack of glory, and clarification of what it means to be a hockey hero or someone who protects their team from hateful rivals.

It was also great to find out that Doug was a real person in the credits where they showed some of his real hockey fights. They look as gruesome as the film, which lends even further to the film’s realism.

 

Hockeys Culture of Violence

There’s more to hockey fights than what meets the eye. To the untrained eye a fight during a hockey game is just two guys throwing punches in a barbaric way.

What most people dont know even some fans is that the enforcers in hockey have a code that they go by. The enforcer is the dictator of the who, the when and the where of when the ‘sanctioned violence’ takes place, their role is one of the most unique in sports. In some cases these players need to stay tough in order to say in their league for example Kevin Westgarth. Some players have nothing but good things to say about these men who make them look good and in some cases feel like they owe their career progression to the enforcers on their team a good example of these players is Brett Hull. 

Many enforcers fill a role we’ve seen in professional sports the relationship between an enforcer and a player is a father-like or big brother-like relationship by keeping his team mates loose while offering his advice as a veteran player. Like all good things this can go one or two ways.

Nowadays many NHL teams dont employ a full-time enforcer and for the guys who are blue bloods of this sport this is a big struggle for them – if you get chance an interesting video for an example of this is when Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has to send his enforcer Colton Orr down into a minor league – this made me fill up with a lot of emotion.

Now to do a little analyzing….. Sidney Crosby (this guy is one of my all time favourite hockey players) despite him being one of the most decorated players he has had multiple injuries during his career many people believe that these wouldn’t have happened if an enforcer was employed to watch Crosby’s back and believe he wouldn’t have suffered some of his injuries. Little fact here for you… teams like the Chicago Black-hawks, LA Kings, Boston Bruins along with Crosby’s team the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have a full time enforcer in their roster however they did have guys who were willing to drop the gloves if need be.

This code is the overriding theme in ice guardians(theres a review on this documentary on this blog so if you get two minutes give it a quick skim over it goes into detail a little bit more than this post)

However just bear one thing in mind after reading this post just know that a fight during a hockey game is much more complex than you think.

Ice Guardians

So the lovely Liam and I have been waiting for nearly 6 months for this to come out! Anyway Liam bought us the tickets as soon as he saw it was coming to Sheffield. This is a definite must watch for any person. For the guys who don’t know what this is this is a documentary based on the role of in-game fighting in ice hockey and the use of specific players recruited to be team enforcers. It is stated early on in this documentary that the very first professional ice hockey game ended in a brawl whether this was true or not we dont know but what we do know is the incorporation of fighting in hockey has been part of the hockey experience since it all began. Penalty rules were set for fighting  as far back as 1922 less than five years after the leagues inception. Some people do consider this as a big part of the game and a big reason why they watch/attend games others think this has no place in sport, and if your a hockey fan yourself you will be aware of the big debate that’s happening right now in regards to fighting and this sport. Anyhow no matter your opinion or even if you have little interest in this sport this documentary strips away the myths and conclusions people make and gives a real insight to the men hired to protect the ones scoring goals.

So if your a newby to ice hockey the term goon is almost synonymous with hockey this is basically a term for a player who is known purely for initiating or engaging a fight. In technical or professional terms they are knows as enforcers and have become an essential part of the game and the strategy for how the game is played something which is unknown in your sort of every day sports such as football. Attempting to understand why these guys are employed is divided by which side of the fence you sit  with these guys, but there is no denying that the power of violence can be embedded deep in these players and shows where athletes replace our ancient warriors.

In the news its always naturally the ones that scored the most goals, earn the team the highest points make the headlines however there is no stretch as to why they achieved this which is what ice guardians looks into. If you are an avid fan of hockey you will be no stranger to Mr Wayne Gretzky  – credit given where credit is due this guy is one of the greatest players in history however this guy had an enforcer watching his back and wouldn’t allow his trade in the NHL to be complete without his enforcer. Further into this documentary when the players are speaking and you realize that these guys sacrifice themselves and there health (mental and physical) for their team. You may be thinking this is reality however with this there is many disbelief’s and misconceptions which have led to debates for the role of the enforcers.

Ice guardians gives you that insight to history and the purpose of this role  down to the etiquette and of course the consequences… some of these are hard to watch no matter how much of a hockey fan you are these will open your eyes! Its the story of men who are far more deeper set than what people can imagine but in their benefit this fearful anonymity has helped build their aggressive mystique in their career (well for the crowds watching)  What this documentary does is looking further into the rules  there is a complex set of unwritten rules and respect between two enforcers  and many of the enforcers are highly educated and are friends in some sort of way who fully embrace and understand their role in the system which is basically to defend their position or risk being sent back to a lower league and fight for their way back up again.

This documentary provides a fair look into the controversy of the enforcer role though is biased in presenting a case for these enforcers (the title implies this the most in my opinion) allowing the men who made a name for themselves on the rink in the NHL  as ‘bare knuckle brawlers’  to tell their stories on screen reliving these experiences with them and also the battles they have overcome with this and the reasons why. These men gave a personal and emotional account of their lives on the ice mixed with footage from the past experiences and their exploits. This will open your eyes even wider than you can imagine as two avid hockey fans we came out of this very emotional and left thinking deeply about these guys who have risked their health for the sake of others

Jay Baruchel what a guy…this is the guy who wrote Goon – we will do a review on Goon and for the guys who dont really know Goon is one of the top 10 hockey films in time, Jay himself is a life-long fan and advocate for the enforcer he is a small voice in this production but i thought he defo needed a mention.

The saying goes we dont know anything until we walk a mile in another mans shoes in this case its skates, this film is an eye opening experience that doesn’t require you to know the ins and outs of hockey  but will leave you thinking more about how this game is played. In my opinion this is one of the best sports documentaries in recent years and is a respectful look at a dying breed and the warriors who love the game that they play.

 

Weekend Thoughts 12.11.2016 THE BIG ONE

Which Steeler doesn’t love a panthers game? Its the one thing that keeps you going through that heavy week… and the heavy Saturday traffic to that game filling into the damp arena car park anyway after a quick walk over to the Noose adrenaline pumping your whole body as you see a few Panthers fans drinking in your local the adrenaline is enough for you to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. After a quick shandy and getting your bag checked and your ticket scanned your in and of course buying your shirt off your back and 50/50 tickets! Walking up to our seats, I say ours as we’re season ticket holders all our block is filled with Orange and after a rough weekend last week  and chin wags with the usual’s its lights out before we know it and the game has started lets go!

Nottingham Panthers has 4 players out of there lineup – one of them being ex steeler Chris Lawrence, into the first period we were ready to kill as we got our first power play of the night courtesy of Kristian Kudroc and Steve Lee, a 5 on 3 power play, if your a steeler you will understand power plays have never really been our strong point, however Nottingham unravelled under pressure and Dowdy scored our first of many goals at 11:33 no longer after we stood up and cheered we were up again… 25 seconds later thank you Colton Fretter! At 13:35 Mathieu Roy scored our third goal.. OOH AAH MATHIEU ROY! There was no going back for Nottingham now but fair play to them they were understaffed and had players with injuries on the ice ( i know this because i’m a boring fart that reads every article on teams within our league) anyway back to the orange army…

The second period started with Jeff Brown wanting to get the Panthers spirits lifted so started an early fight with David Phillips. Every time Mike Ratchuk zipped up into the zone I thought maybe a goal was on the cards we didn’t have to wait long we only had to wait for Roy to polish off a rebound slap-shot from John Armstrong at 27:04 the block was loud and very proud. Ben O’Connor showed his skills at 32:32 and the sixth goal was scored. WHOOSH its behind you!

Into the third period we go and Colton Fretter is denied a hat trick with 11 minutes remaining Jesse Schultz and he scores! 7th goal of the night with a neat little tip from Armstrong and to top off a fantastic night Markus Nilsson finished the nights for the steelers…but no it wasn’t done! The buzzer was ready to go end of the third period and Brad Moran scores for the Panthers denying us a shutout.

We went out there and we did the job, as a steeler our worst memory is loosing to Nottingham in the quarter final challenge cup but for Nottingham I think this maybe their worst memory.