Sunday, May 23, 2010

Championship Memories 2010

Wow - I'm finally getting a few minutes to sit down in front of the computer and make a worthy post-Kelly Cup championship blog entry.

My earlier analysis played out - the grizzled, experienced, battle-tested Cyclones came through. The adversity they faced - in the wake of not being a star-studded team - truly prepared them to be champions. I have to admit, in each of the four rounds, I thought they had a good chance of being knocked out. Thank goodness they proved me wrong!!

I'm still just stunned that they took Idaho in 5 games. And, if you think about it, it's more like 4 1/2 games since the only Idaho win required them to go to OT. I just think that Idaho fell into that syndrome of the regular season and playoffs being too easy to get wins causing lack of preparedness for the finals.

Not that they were not a tough team - because they were very tough. The total commitment of the Cyclones in games 4 and 5 won the mental battle and the series. They absolutely stuck to the defensive system; they stuck to the plan on offense; and the did all the little things that champions do: diving to keep the pick in the zone or knock it off a a Steelhead's stick, sacrificing the body to block shots and deliver checks, skating 100% every shift, and just believing in themselves.

It's cliche but it's true - the playoffs are a battle of attrition won on the mistakes of the other team. The deeper into the playoffs, the more this holds true. The Cyclones made a few mistakes, and Idaho took advantage; but by and large the Cyclones played perfect hockey. By perfect, I mean they played the game they needed to play.

Commitment really is the operative word here. Being on the inside, but basically a part-time outsider, I have a "fishbowl" view of the team and the arena. Everyone there is thoroughly committed, from Kristin Ropp the VP and General Manager of the building down to the changeover guys and cleaning crew. "Down" is a poor word to use, because these are the folks who make the building tick.

While everyone else was celebrating the win Friday night, the cleaning crew had a record crowd to clean after (not to mention all the confetti) and the changeover crew had to stay the night removing glass, some boards, and covering the ice in Pro-Deck in preparation for WWE to load in first thing Saturday morning. Then, after wrestling, they had to turn the rink back over to ice for team and staff pictures Sunday morning.

No rest for the weary is truly the way these guys live. Commitment - everyone there knows the reason they play is to win the championship. Among the staff, it is unspoken or less-spoken, but it is there. We all know it. I just try in my own way to be as committed; I think I measure up (I sure hope so). I really appreciate the opportunity they give me doing the ice work for the Cyclones.

Much praise to the Cyclones players, coaches, staff, and most of all to the fans who make it all possible. Despite a general lack of respect in the mainstream media, we true Cyclones fans have everything to be proud of as the only contemporary CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER team in Cincinnati.

These were things that needed to be said and stand on their own. I'm planning an entry in a week or so about the oddities of keeping ice in 70+ degree weather as well as posting some camera-phone video of the winning moments.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Taste of Victory is SWEET!!!!!

More to follow after some much needed sleep.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Game Day Migraine

Ugh - your humble Zamboni driver has a raging migraine. But for the first time in my lifetime of migraines, I hope there are 15,000 screaming fans at US Bank Arena tonight!

And, here is a great article on Roeder:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Heartbreaking Game 3 double-OT Loss

Let us not remember this for the double-OT loss. As heartbreaking as that was, let us remember this game as the one when the Cyclones erased a 3-goal deficit to force the OT. Let us remember how the Cyclones dominated the first OT. Finally, let us remember that the playoffs are decided by who makes the most of the others' mistakes and who catches a lucky break here and there.

The Cyclones did nearly everything right - but they did make their mistakes and gave up goals as a result.

Remember, we beat these guys twice in their own house, and it took 4+ periods for Idaho to win tonight. The Cyclones can still do it. One game at a time - bring it on, Thursday.

By the way, in the second OT intermission, I didn't have a mechanical problem. The ice was extremely rough after 100 minutes of hockey, so I lowered the blade extra deep for maximum cutting. I knew I would fill the snow tank but I also knew I had plenty of time since there were no on-ice promotions so I elected to risk filling the tank since I had time to dump.

The white tux is officially retired. Thursday will be basic black golf shirt & jeans.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm liking our chances...

I have to be honest, I was very worried in 2008. That team found winning so easy through the regular season and could practically score at will. Winning the Brabham cup, especially by such a wide margin, could have been a curse. Too many teams have won the regular season and faltered in the playoffs (remember the St. Louis Blues in the '90s?). I think winning easily through the season can be poor preparation for the post-season and all the adversity that comes with it. It's the scrappy teams, the teams that work hard and know how to face adversity, who usually do better.

Idaho seems to be in that situation right now. They won the regular season, had a first round bye, and didn't go the distance in the two rounds they have played. Until Friday night they had only played 10 playoff games compared to the Cyclones 19. They gave up two losses at home - their first back-to-back home losses all season.

The 2010 Cyclones, on the other hand, are the worker bees. They've had a successful but very difficult season; and they've had an exceptionally difficult post-season. They have been doing everything right for the last 6 games because they've been challenged, met the challenge head on, and spit it its eye.

Come on down Tuesday and Thursday night. Bring your mac-n-cheese Tuesday!!!

Let's go Cyclones!!!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Like Rodney Dangerfield: "No Respect"

Flyer's also come back from 0-3 to win Series.

All of the articles I've seen on the Philadelphia Flyers coming back from three games down, like the Cyclones, to win the series say that the Flyers are only the THIRD team to accomplish that feat when in fact we know they are the SEVENTH!

I guess it is just a fact of life that the major markets and networks just see the sports world for the major leagues alone. Granted, they are the best in the world but they need their minor leagues to support them and there are some outstanding athletes, coaches, and organizations in the minor leagues.

So, the Flyers are only the third NHL team to make the comeback, and that's all that seems to matter to the mainstream media. But we all know they are #7, coming a day AFTER the Cyclones did the same thing.

I believe the Cyclones' victory had to have been a topic for discussion in the Flyers dressing room. "If the Cyclones can do it, we can do it" had to have been said by somebody in the Flyers organization.

The Cyclones comeback also reminds me of the 1980 Olympic hockey victory - the "Miracle on Ice" was the game against Russia in the semi-final round, but it's the game everyone remembers. The USA boys still had to take on Finland for gold. Kind of similar this year, the 4-game comeback will be remembered for a long time. It would be super sweet to continue, as the 1980 team did, and win it all!!!

Let's Go Cyclones!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Goodbye, you "Pesky Royals"

The Reading Royals' motivational playoff t-shirt read "Here Come those Pesky Royals," a fitting slogan for a #7 seed team making it as far as they did in the playoffs. It was an effective slogan for them, I believe. Actually, I think they were more than just "pesky." They were the real deal. They earned what they got and should be commended and respected for it.

We are loving it that the Cyclones are only the 6th team in the history of professional hockey to come back and win the series after being down by three games. The Royals, on the other hand, have to be only the 6th team to ever lose a series after being up by three games.

That is unthinkable. They have to feel horrible about it. But, such is life in professional sports. The Cyclones also earned everything they got and showed a ton of grit and determination to get this done.

GO CYCLONES! Stump the Steelheads!!!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pandemonium at US Bank Arena!!!

History-making comeback!

I can't express how proud I am to have contributed some small part to this history-making Cyclones victory. It was an exceptionally special moment for all Cyclones fans, staff, players, and coaches!

Now, no time to relax - time to take on the Idaho Steelheads!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Records Speak For Themselves

Cincinnati Reds franchise W/L percentage: .507

Cincinnati Bengals franchise W/L percentage: .437

Cincinnati Mighty Ducks franchise W/L percentage. .489

Cyclones W/L percentage, current incarnation 2006-2010: .648

Cyclones IHL W/L percentage: .586

Cyclones original ECHL W/L percentage: .613

How you like me now?

No disrespect intended, especially to the well-established Reds and Bengals. The Reds have played something like 19,000 total games. That is amazing. But, the numbers show, the Cyclones have been consistent winners while being one of the most volatile and unstable teams due to minor leagues, league changes, venue changes, etc.

Incredible Playoff Hockey!

I can't say enough for the Cyclones - down for the count, 3 games to 0, on the brink of elimination and coming back to take three in a row and force game 7. Now it's like a one game series at home. One more win for a return to the Kelly Cup Finals! Simply amazing.

The really cool thing is they don't one one or two super-stars who dominate their play. They are getting production from everyone and the unlikely heroes are so fun to watch. Will Ortiz, signed after his college eligibility ended this year, was deservedly the #1 star of the game. He was the Pete Rose of hockey tonight, 110% all the way.

As for the ice, it really gets tricky this time of year. The arena was designed to maintain ice at 80 degrees / 80 percent humidity. But when it gets close, it gets harder to maintain with good quality. Tonight we started the game at about 18-20 degrees but by the end of the game it was in the mid-twenties. Inject a few thousand people, generating body head and moisture (breathing), and the equilibrium of the whole building goes out of whack.

I was cutting as deep with the blade as I could - completely filling the snow tank every cut. I was worried that I might have to dash off the ice to dump snow and come back. I was also using a bare minimum amount of water. Cyclones won, so they like my ice tonight!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Top 19 Things About Cincinnati

From Fox19 News:


Saturday, May 01, 2010

First Intermission Fiasco Cut

Well Cyclones fans, we lost again to those pesky Royals. The Cyclones did almost everything right tonight and could not pull off the win. Very tough game. But, if you watched my first intermission resurfacing, at least you got a little bit of entertainment.

Fox 19 News is doing a story on the Top 19 Things to do in Cincinnati and the Cyclones made the list. The videographer was the rider and the reporter was watching from the tunnel. So, why was my pattern such a mess?

Well, I guess technically I choked a little but there is more to the story. They were a little late getting down to me, and then they wanted me to wear a body mic, so we quickly fished it through my shirt and hung it out the collar. I hurriedly hopped into the Zamboni and went out onto the ice.

At some point, the camera guy called to my attention that the microphone had come out of my shirt and he asked me to try to replace it so he could ask me questions. It took me at least a full lap to find it. I was more worried about a cut ice cut, which was complicated by soft ice due to the humidity and warm temperature.

It was fiddling with the microphone cord I missed the first pass up the middle, making a third pass up the bench-side of the rink. Not only that, I drifted too far and left a teardrop shaped miss on the inside. I wasn't smart enough to go up the middle on the other end, and went up the other side a third time. This put the turns for the rest of the cut very, very tight.

I had to try to power-slide to line up for the turns. But I remained distracted by that microphone cord, which, by the way, was destroyed! When the wire fell out of my shirt, the fell down into the conditioner where the microphone was ripped off the end of the wire. When I finally pulled it up to me, there was nothing but bare wire!

By this point I was fairly befuddled, and missed a spot in the turn on the west end of the arena; then a few passes later I missed another spot on the same end. This was a complicated fix because they were only 2 Zamboni-widths apart. I should have taken the outer one, turned around at the blue line, crossed to the boards, and lined up for the other. But the clock was running down and I wanted to get off the ice.

So, I swung out to the outside miss, barely catching it with the left side of the conditioner, then made an odd left turn, very sharp with quite a power-slide. HOO-RAH! I got it. I really confused the guys lining up the net, but they got out of the way.

That's what happened folks, if I wasn't so modest I would remark that my professional skills helped me make it out of the predicament gracefully.

The good news is that quality of the ice cut was very good. Blade depth was correct and water usage was right. Despite my awkward pattern, I got the job done. Too bad it was no use to the Cyclones as they dropped the second game.

Now, they have to take 2 games in Reading (preferably 3 but no less than 2) and then win the 4th in Game 6 or game 7 back at home. They can do it but they'll have to reach deep inside and find a way to ratchet up to a new level of play.

The Fox 19 story should be on the air Monday morning sometime during the show that starts at 6:AM. They interviewed me off-ice after the cut; and they got good footage of Twister' sliding head stand.