We're skipping the usual Friday Links post to bring you a special post featuring Chelsea's writing and my photos, a one two punch of mind-blowing blog-nificence to celebrate the long dull off-season finally being over.
The morning has dawned on the Everblades first preseason game. The long summer is over, the ice is set and the Florida Everblades are set to take on the Orlando Solar Bears.
Four years ago I stopped by the Everblades training camp for the first time. I had just transferred down to Florida from Connecticut and I was still looking for my place in the universe. I sat alone in the main arena as the players took the ice and I had a moment of well being surround me.
I’m not an athlete, I can’t skate to save my life, but hockey is my home. I’ve since decided to work in hockey and have gotten to experience some great moments. Walking into an empty arena with the hum of the air conditioner and the subtle (not subtle at ALL) hockey smell is soothing.
As I made my yearly trip to training camp I saw some differences from previous years. This year I wasn’t the only one sitting in the stands. There were Everblades t-shirts and sweaters with little kids trying to peak over the glass.
There also weren’t many players on the ice. The AHL training camps over lapped with the ECHL this year. The early days of training camp brought back Everblades favorites and regulars like Mathieu Roy, Matt Marquardt, Trevor Bruess and long time emergency back up Brian Markowicz.
The ‘Blades affiliates sent reinforcements yesterday. The Kelly Cup squad is reassembling with the additions of David Rutherford, Joe Sova, Matt Beca, Pat Nagle and Bobby Raymond. There are several newcomers for the season including goalie Rob Madore.
So in the spirit of the season here are the three things you should know about tonights game:
1. Which mascot would win in a fight?
It’s Swampee versus a polar bear in sunglasses. While polar bears are ferocious, Swampee is an alligator on ‘roids. I may be biased, but I’m giving this round to Swampee.
2. Don't forget the goalies.
It’s easy to talk goals and hits, but don’t forget the goalies. Last years playoff MVP was goaltender John Muse. While his play was superb, so were his idiosyncrasies and routines. Watch the warm up and see what you learn.
3. Say cheese!
Take pictures. It really is an experience and you never know what gems you’ll produce. You’ll also be able to get up close and personal in Breakaways after the game. Let the guys eat, but they’ll stop by and say hi and take photos. I hear Rutherford had his teeth replaced this summer so he’s ready for the camera.
It should be a good match up with the resurrected Solar Bears. Don’t expect perfection, the preseason is a place of learning and experimentation, but do expect a good game. The Everblades almost always deliver.