Monday, February 28, 2011

By the numbers

Some interesting stats about the NLL at the halfway point of the season.

Number of face-offs taken by the Calgary Roughnecks: 214
Number of face-offs not taken by Geoff Snider: 12

Geoff Snider's league-leading face-off percentage in 2010: 75.6%
Second-highest face-off percentage in 2010: 57.5% (Stephen Peyser)
Snider's face-off percentage this year after implementation of the "Snider rule": 64.9%
Highest face-off percentage this year: 70.9% (Bob Snider, Geoff's brother)
Highest non-Snider face-off percentage this year: 60.1% (Jamison Koesterer, who has retired)

Players in the league with 5 or more points per game (>1 game): 10
Players on the Toronto Rock: 3 (LeBlanc, Manning, Billings)
Players in the entire west division: 3 (Benesch, Ratcliffe, Duch)

Penalty minutes for Scott Self in Buffalo's Jan. 22 loss to Toronto: 30
Players in the league with more than 30 penalty minutes total: 7
Penalty minutes for Scott Self since that game: 2

Goal differential for Toronto in the 3rd quarter: +14
Goal differential for Boston in the 2nd quarter: +13
Goal differential for Colorado in the 1st quarter: 0
Goal differential for Colorado in the 2nd quarter: –16

Total goals for/against for Calgary: 91/89
Calgary's record: 5-3
Total goals for/against for Minnesota: 91/88
Minnesota's record: 4-4

Number of games where Toronto opponents scored 0 goals in a period: 5 (one of those games had 2 such periods)
Number of games where that period was the third: 4
Next closest team: Buffalo, with 2

Highest shooting percentage (goals/shots, at least 10 goals): Andrew Watt, 45.48%
Number of players over 25%: 3 (Watt, Chad Culp - 32.5%, Ryan Benesch – 26.6%)

Number of players with >10 loose balls per game: 4
Number named Snider: 2

Best home attendance average: Colorado, 15,745 per game
Total attendance for all four home games in Washington: 15,974

Number of eastern division teams allowing more than 11 goals/game: 0
Number of western division teams allowing less than 11 goals/game: 0
(Thanks to Casey Vock at the NLL Insider for that one)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Out of my league

The brand-new SkyDome opened in Toronto in the summer of 1989. I was a second-year computer science student at the University of Waterloo at the time, and when the Math Society bought group tickets to a Blue Jays game, a bunch of my friends and I joined in.

On the day of the game, a couple of school busses full of students made the 1 1/2 hour drive to SkyDome. We were all responsible university students so, of course, we were all drinking. Many of us bought 2L bottles of Coke, drank a bit, and filled it back up with rye or rum. News flash: when you've consumed 2 litres of rye-and-coke in less than two hours, trapped on a school bus in downtown Toronto traffic is not the place you want to be. This seemed particularly true for one student, a guy named Cam. Cam was a computer engineer and was in the same class as my roommate, so I knew who he was though I didn't know him well. He was sitting a few seats ahead of me and I believe his bouncing started somewhere down the 427. We were at least 20 minutes away from the stadium – in good traffic. We weren't in good traffic, so it was going to be much longer before relief would be available. Within a few minutes, everyone on the bus knew that Cam was in some trouble, and of course everyone thought that this was pretty darned funny. Well, almost everyone - Cam certainly wasn't laughing much, and neither was his girlfriend, who was sitting a couple of seats behind me. The fact that Cam was so public about his discomfort was absolutely mortifying to this girl, who was slouching down in her seat, trying to hide. I was single at the time, and thought she was extremely cute and seemed really nice but I quickly came back to reality - not only was she already seeing someone, but I remember thinking "She is so out of my league".

I guess Cam's rye-and-Coke bottle wasn't even empty at this point, because I remember him asking if anyone else had an empty bottle and someone tossed him theirs. (His girlfriend slouched even lower at this point.) He immediately had the seat to himself. He sat there for at least ten minutes. Call it performance anxiety, but despite his discomfort, he found himself unable to, um, fill the bottle. Another 10-15 minutes later, we were stuck in stop-and-go traffic on Lakeshore Boulevard right in front of Ontario Place, when Cam could stand it no longer. He asked the bus driver to open the door and ran over to some bushes at the side of the road. He didn't even bother finding a discreet place – everyone on Lakeshore could see him. A bunch of drunk mathies and engineers cheered from the bus as Cam found relief, and he waved – though thankfully without turning around first. He made his way back onto the bus to great applause. I'm pretty sure his girlfriend was not clapping. I remember nothing else about that trip - not a single thing about the game itself.

As for his girlfriend, she turned out to be a math major like me and friend of a friend and I did eventually get to know her. I was right – she was extremely cute, and was even nicer in person than I imagined on that bus ride.

We've been married now for over fifteen years.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The NLL Skills Competition

By Graeme Perrow

2011NLLAllStarLogo The NLL will hold the 2011 All-Star game at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on February 27, 2011. The game itself is getting some buzz around the league, but what is getting less fanfare is the skills competition the night before. Here are some of the events taking place:

Coaches Cursing: Troy Cordingley and Darris Kilgour are the heavy favourites. Lucky for them Bruce Boudreau is not an NLL coach.

Guess The Next Team Move: Players attempt to guess the next NLL franchise to move or vanish. You get double points if it happens before the end of All-Star weekend.

We are Family: All the players in the league who also have brothers, nephews/uncles, or cousins in the league will be put together for one big lacrosse game. The seven other players in the league will watch.

Random one-on-one: Forwards and defenders are chosen randomly one at a time for a one-on-one. The forward has to get by the defender – the defender that that keeps the forward away the longest wins. Last year's competition featuring Josh Sanderson against David Morgan had to be cancelled after thirty-six hours, when Sanderson complained that he wasn't even sure that the net was still there since he hadn't seen it all day.

Why are you still here? A two-part competition. Part 1: Players guess at the next time one of the Gait brothers re-un-retires. Part 2: Players attempt to determine why. Part one is worth five points, part two is worth five thousand.

Hairball: Players attempt to stop a Paul Rabil shot with only their hair. Bandit Mark Steenhuis is the current record holder, but Edmonton Washington's Ian Hawksbee will put up a good fight. NLL newcomer Connor Martin might jump into the fray as well, if he can overcome his shyness. Former Mammoth and Albany Attack head coach Bob McMahon will be judging. Brandon Miller declined an invitation to participate.

Goalie 100m dash: Goalies attempt to run 100m in full equipment. A time of less than an hour and a half is considered outstanding. The race is usually won by the cameraman running backwards.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Game Report: Toronto 13 Rochester 6

I was not at the Blue Cross Arena for tonight's Rock-Knighthawks rematch, so I watched it on I've said it before, but major kudos to the NLL for streaming every game live. The picture and audio quality was great, and there were only a couple of network interruptions. The Rock - Knighthawks game is now over and I'm watching the Boston – Minnesota game, and the picture quality is just as good. It ain't HD by any stretch, but certainly watchable and you can't beat the price.

Anyway, the Rock have definitely thrown off whatever curse may have been on them in Rochester. After winning only one game in Rochester ever, they've now won twice there this season. Once again, the Hawks just couldn't get anything going. They scored a single goal in each of the first three quarters before "exploding" for three in the fourth. Matt Vinc was downright average, looking even less like the reigning Goalie of the Year than last night. Given that Cody Jamieson seemed pretty pissed in the first quarter and that Shawn Evans tried to pull helmets off both Watson and Phil Sanderson in the fourth and the fact that the Hawks were in danger of getting blown out by the same team two nights in a row, there was surprisingly little chippiness. The Rock took advantage of penalties on both sides, scoring four power play goals and two shorthanded goals – with both shorthanded goals coming less than 40 seconds apart on the same penalty. The Rock's two shorthanded goals were two more than Rochester scored during Toronto penalties.

Nice to see Mike Hasen and Jeremy Hollenbeck inducted into Knighthawks Hall of Fame before the game.

First quarter

  • Stephen Hoar on a breakaway – didn't look like that hard a shot but froze Vinc. 1-0 Toronto
  • Rochester fans starting the "Watson... Watson... Watson.... you suck!" a few minutes before their first goal. At that point, no Knighthawk had scored on Watson in well over 30 minutes going back to last night.
  • Shawn Williams scores with less than a minute remaining in the quarter to tie it at 1
  • Rochester fans get Knightingales. Toronto fans get Iggy.

Second quarter

  • Nice passing resulting in a power play goal by Leblanc – 2-1 Rock
  • Jarrett Davis goes five hole to tie it up at 2
  • Kasey Biernes dives across the goal mouth to put the Rock back up by 1. Leblanc is given credit for the goal, though I was sure it was Biernes. Perhaps I was mistaken. Update: I was, but so were they. The goal was later awarded to Billings.
  • Kasey Biernes on the PP with a one-timer past Vinc – Rock 4-2
  • Manning passes from behind the net to Leblanc who buries it to put the Rock up 5-2
  • Jeff Gilbert scores on an empty net, beating Matt Vinc sliding into second base across the crease right at the end of the half – Rock up 6-2

Third quarter

  • Mike Hobbins scores on a shorthanded breakaway. Awesome. 7-2 Toronto
  • Another defender shorthanded goal, this time by Stephen Hoar. 8-2 Rock
  • Mike Accursi from Shawn Evans – 8-3 Rock
  • Garrett Billings goes to his favourite place – top shelf. 9-3 Rock
  • Pascas scoops up a loose ball, feeds to Manning who has all kinds of time to decide how to score. Rock ahead 10-3
  • Rochester fans starting the "Watson... you suck" chant again right after their goalie lets in a goal. Um, it's 10-3 people.
  • Nice goal by Pascas called back, presumably because his toe was in the crease. Awfully close, but I can't say they were wrong
  • Another nice diving-across-the-crease goal by Leblanc – 11-3

Fourth quarter

  • Former Rock Scott Campbell with a transition goal opens the scoring in the fourth – 11-4
  • Another Rochester goal – Mike Accursi hits the top corner. 11-5
  • Creighton Reid answers for the Rock – 12-5 Toronto
  • Shawn Evans tries to start something with a Rock defender (Sanderson I think) and they both end up in the crease in front of Watson. Evans ends up grabbing Watson and pulling his helmet off before dropping on top of Sanderson and trying to pull his helmet off. He gets 2 for facemasking and 2 for roughing. No penalty for being a douchebag.
  • Garrett Billings scores Toronto's fourth PP goal of the night. 13-5
  • Shawn Evans comes out of the box and scores after a nice move on Bryan. He's still a douchebag. 13-6 Toronto.

Game Review: Toronto 10 Rochester 5

Tonight was the worst. The absolute worst. I've been going to Rock games since 2001 and it's never been as bad as it was tonight. Oh, the game was fine; in fact it was pretty good. I'm talking about the traffic into Toronto from Waterloo. Took me over three hours. Three freakin' hours. I could have been most of the way to Detroit or over halfway to Ottawa in that time. I left work a little after 4:30, and I think it was quarter to six before I hit 60 km/h. I arrived at the parking lot near the ACC around 7:45. <grumble>

Anyway, I suppose it's possible that you, dear reader, are not interested in the fact that it took me three hours to drive to this game, so on to the game report. The Rochester Knighthawks have been an enigma to me for years. They've had a ton of offensive talent – Grant, Williams, the Evans boys (who I don't like, but can't deny their talent), Gait, Point, Bomberry, Accursi, and now Jamieson, and sometimes they gel and are unstoppable. For example, the entire 2007 season. Other times, this same group of players just can't seem to put the biscuit in the basket, to quote Bob McCown. For example, tonight's game against the Toronto Rock. OK, Grant, Gait, one of the Evanses, and Bomberry are no longer there, but the Knighthawks still have a bunch of offensive talent and yet cannot score. I don't want to take anything away from either the Rock defense or Bob Watson, but the Hawks just couldn't get anything going at all. Five goals total? Only one in the second half? What are you, the Colorado Mammoth? I'm sorry, Rochester fans, that wasn't nice.

Watson continues his unbelievable last season in the NLL, winning his 100th career game. Not only is he still a better-than-average goalie at age 40, he's the best in the league. Nobody has a higher save percentage, and the only goalie with a lower GAA is Angus Goodleaf, who's only played one game. Watson was his usual outstanding self on this night and his defense was solid as well. The Rock's transition wasn't as good as last game, as shown by the fact that there were no goals and only two assists by defensemen. As for the offense, the best word for that would be inconsistent. 80% of the Rock's goals were scored by Kasey Biernes (5) or Garrett Billings (3). Manning had one accidental goal, and in the first quarter, rookie Aaron Pascas snuck around a couple of defenders and scored his tenth of the year. Manning's goal was an attempted pass to Kasey Biernes (he already had five at this point, why not pass to him?) but Biernes was covered and couldn't catch the pass. I saw that Biernes wasn't going to catch the pass and was in the process of asking Manning "What are you doing?" when the ball trickled by Vinc and into the net. Captain Colin Doyle was kept off the scoreboard entirely, and I have to wonder if that has ever happened to him in his fourteen year career. Stephan Leblanc's scoring streak was stopped at 23 games, as Leblanc finally experienced a game without scoring for the first time in his career. It's too bad, since he only had 30-odd more games to go to catch John Grant, whose streak ended tonight at 55 games. Apparently Leblanc was injured during the shoot-around before the game and was given stitches at the bench just before the game, so this might have put him off a bit. I had to be told about this rather than see it because I missed the first eight minutes of the game because it took me three hours to... oh right, sorry.

The Knighthawks really did resemble this year's Colorado Mammoth, as they had no offense but their defense was strong. Vinc did not look like last year's Goalie of the Year but did make some pretty amazing saves here and there. Vinc did do one thing that I had never seen before. One Rock player and one KHawk fell into the crease and after Vinc picked up the ball and tossed it to another Hawk, he reached down towards the Rock player lying down – I thought he was going to pound him one, as goaltenders are sometimes wont to do when someone is in their crease, but no. He grabbed the Rock player's stick out of his hands and made like he was going to toss it away. I think the ref was looking right at him, because he suddenly stopped and gave the stick back. He looked like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Other notes:

  • Patrick Merrill made a great play to strip the ball from a Knighthawks attacker at the centre line, then ran in on a breakaway... and missed the net entirely.
  • Quote from the guy sitting behind me: "My grandmother didn't like to watch hockey cause she couldn't follow the puck. Can you imagine her watching this? We need Foxtrax for this! It's too fast!"
  • Professional athletes are a superstitious lot, and goaltenders seem to be the most superstitious of the bunch. They all have their little quirks and foibles. Whenever Anthony Cosmo goes out to his net, he faces it and smacks his stick against the posts and crossbar a bunch of times, then turns around and does it some more with his back to the net. Matt Vinc went out to his net, made sure it was in the right position, turned around, and that was it. The fact that he didn't do anything weird was weird.

These teams meet again tomorrow night in Rochester, so we'll see how much difference the home field advantage makes to the Knighthawks, who have dominated the Rock in their own barn over the years. The Rock's victory a month ago and the Championship game in 2003 are the only games Toronto has ever won in Rochester.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


As a Christmas present, I bought my sister The Book of Awesome. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up my own list of awesome things and then started thinking about some lacrosse-related ones, so I decided to put them all together. These aren't necessarily the best plays or even the most awesome moments in a lacrosse game – obviously your team winning a Championship or an overtime game is awesome, but that's true in any sport. These are things that make lacrosse unique and make fans sit back, smile, and say "I love this game."

A John Grant-style over the shoulder goal when you know it was not a fluky "let's see what happens if I do this" type of play. It's hard to believe that people like Grant, Doyle, Kelusky, and Tavares can actually aim while doing this, but some people are successful at it too often for it to be pure luck.

When the goalie grabs the ball and launches it most of the length of the floor to a teammate who catches it and scores. Some call it cherry-picking, others call it transition. Bob Watson used to do this to Jim Veltman all the time.

Getting a hug from the ACC usher at the first home game of the season. The same lady (Arlene) has worked our section for most of the last ten years.

Scoring a goal on a breakaway – when your team is shorthanded.

When a non-offensive defender scores on a breakaway. Not talking about guys like Steve Toll, Brodie Merrill, or Mark Steenhuis here, just talking about pure defenders who almost never see the other side of centre. We used to joke about big Dan Ladouceur scoring one goal every other year this way – he'd somehow end up on a breakaway, desperately look around to see who he can pass to and seeing nobody, shoot it himself. Sometimes he'd bury it, but even if he missed the net completely he'd get huge applause.

When a player turns his stick around and scores shooting the "wrong" way. Blaine Manning does this all the time.

When the "hidden ball trick" actually works. I've seen players try it many times, and the defenders always see it and point at the guy with the ball. But at the 2002 Heritage Cup game, Gary Gait and John Tavares did it to perfection, and the goalie and all the defenders followed Tavares who ran way off to the right side. Gait was all alone up the middle and just tossed it into the net.

Diving across the crease then shooting behind the goalie while still in the air.

When a defender intercepts a pass. Intercepting passes in hockey is no big deal but it's way harder in lacrosse. Jim Veltman was a master at this. Actually, Veltman was a master at a lot of things. I miss him. <tear>

When a team honours a player on the opposing team. This isn't unique to lacrosse, but it's awesome anyway. Teams honouring former players that now play on the opposing team is classy. Toronto did this with all of their former players during their tenth anniversary season, Calgary did it with Tracy Kelusky this year, the Leafs have done it with Mats Sundin on his return, and I'm sure many other teams have done the same. But it's even more awesome when the player has never played for the home team and is being honoured for a particular achievement or an outstanding career. I was at the first game Cal Ripken played after ending his seventeen-year streak, which happened to be in Toronto, and the Blue Jays honoured him. The Jays players all came out of the dugout to show their respect and Ripken got thunderous applause. A couple of years ago the Rock honoured Tom Marechek after he announced his retirement and the crowd gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. And let me tell you, Rock fans don't stand and applaud Wings players all that often. I love seeing players show their respect by banging their sticks on the floor or the boards.

When your team scores and before the arena announcer has a chance to announce the goal, your team scores again.

The handshake line-up at the end of the game. Hockey players do it at the end of a playoff series. Lacrosse players do it after every single game. That's awesome.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Lord of the Rings / There's so much to talk about / Two haikus for each

I had enough fun writing the haikus for the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies that I decided to keep going. Presenting: The Lord of the Rings.

The Fellowship of the Ring

Aragorn, Gimli 
Legolas and the hobbits
Galdalf, Boromir

The fellowship is
taking the Ring to Mordor 
Chuck it in the fire 

The Two Towers

Gollum is creepy 
He wants his precious back from
Nasty hobbitses

Battle at Helm's Deep
Elves and Men fight together
Against Uruk-hai

The Return of the King

Despite Denethor,
Minas Tirith calls for help
Rohan will answer

Gollum and the Ring
Both are destroyed in Mount Doom
Two birds with one stone

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Game Review: Toronto 9 Calgary 8

They called it The Battle of the Best. NLL fans had been looking forward to this game for weeks, it was covered by all the major networks, and the rest of the season will be a bit of a downer in comparison. OK, so hyperbole is kind of fun, but this was indeed a battle of the two first place teams. It was expected to be a hard fought game, and nobody who saw the game was disappointed. Well, Calgary fans were likely disappointed with the outcome, that being a 9-8 Rock overtime victory, but nobody can say it was a boring game.

The scoring started just 45 seconds into the game (a strange goal by Rock newcomer Ryan Sharp that, according to the scoreboard in the ACC, didn't even count as a shot on goal), but anyone who thought that a goal that early meant that this was going to be a high-scoring affair was incorrect, as the Rock didn't score again for almost thirteen minutes. The Roughnecks however, didn't get that memo and scored four times in between the two Rock goals. You can't blame Watson entirely for those goals - the Rock defense was a little shaky in the first, but they did settle down after that. At the end of one period, Calgary had 4 goals on 11 shots while the Rock had fired 18 shots at Mike Poulin and only scored twice. The defensive battle continued in the second, as the Rock scored only once and Calgary twice. The first Calgary goal was a nice transition goal from Peter McFetridge – the transition games for both teams were working pretty well all night. The Rock must have read my review of the game against Buffalo last week and worked on their transition game, because I think they had more transition chances in this game than in the past two years. Combined.

An occurrence unique to lacrosse came up in the second period - a goalie in the penalty box. Bob Watson took issue with some pushing and shoving around the Toronto net and crosschecked Scott Ranger across the back. Whipper was given a five minute major for checking from behind. In lacrosse, a goalie must serve his own major penalties, so Watson wedged himself and his equipment into the already-crowded penalty box (Colin Doyle was already there serving a holding penalty, Mike Hobbins was given a roughing penalty on the same play, and another player went to the box so that he could come out when Watson's penalty was over, since you can't have two goalies on the floor at once. This is my twelfth season watching Rock lacrosse, and in all that time I've only seen a goalie in the penalty box one other time. That was Buffalo's Corey Quinn back in 2003. Rock defender Glenn Clark was just catching a pass that would have given him a clear breakaway but the pass was lobbed high in the air, giving Quinn enough time to come running out of the Buffalo net and absolutely level Clark. They called it a hit from behind because Clark hadn't turned around to face the net yet (though in retrospect that call was arguable), and Quinn went to the box.

The third quarter saw a complete turnaround in scoring chances, as Calgary was shut out entirely while the Rock took the lead by scoring four. In fact, Calgary went from 11:01 in the second to 11:38 in the fourth without scoring, a span of over 30 minutes. This is the fourth Rock game this year (out of seven) where Whipper has shut out the opponent in the third quarter, and the second home game in a row where the opponent went over 30 minutes without scoring. The Rock went up by two as Colin Doyle scored his second of the night – a beautiful behind-the-back bouncer that went in under Poulin. But the Roughnecks never gave up and with less than four minutes left, Jeff Shattler scored a power-play goal that would have fired up his team had they not already been fired up. In a successful bid to silence the home crowd, strong Rookie of the Year candidate Curtis Dickson tied it with less than a minute left on the clock and the Calgary net empty.

The crowd really got into the game in the fourth, and during overtime, I think it was the loudest I've heard the Toronto crowd since... um, the last overtime game a couple of weeks ago. OK, never mind. But when Jeff Shattler dove across the crease a couple of minutes into OT and shot at a wide open net only to have Bob Watson dive with him and stop it, the crowd noise jumped another level - only to jump again a minute after that when Aaron Pascas picked up a dropped Calgary pass and buried it behind Mike Poulin.

Despite only allowing nine goals in over 60 minutes while facing 60 shots, I wouldn't say Mike Poulin was outstanding in the Calgary goal. In all honesty, neither was Bob Watson. Both were solid and had very good games, and both made some key saves (especially Watson's stop on Shattler in OT), but neither stood on their head. But the game was low-scoring because both defenses were excellent. The Rock had a ton of shots, but it seemed that most of them were either desperation shots from far away because they couldn't get close to the net and the shot clock was at 2, or they managed to get a shot through but hit Poulin square in the chest. And Calgary frequently didn't even get the chance to take desperation shots, only managing 36 shots all night. The Toronto defense was doing a lot of pass interception and knocking the ball out of sticks all night starting in the second quarter.

As if a goalie in the penalty box wasn't enough, overtime had another incident I've certainly never seen before, in lacrosse or any other sport. My season tickets are row 17 behind the benches and during overtime, we saw Colin Doyle being sent to the bench by the ref. Doyle was livid (though Troy Cordingley was unusually calm) but we didn't know why. It wasn't until I got home and read some of the reports online that I found out why – he wasn't wearing Reebok shoes, and the NLL has a contract with Reebok. I guess one of the Calgary players or coaches noticed and told the ref, who told Doyle to go and change shoes. He did eventually make it back to the floor, and was on the floor for Aaron Pascas's game-winning goal. Doyle was interviewed by TSN about the incident after the game.

Rochester and Toronto have a home-at-home series starting next Friday night in Toronto, while next Sunday sees Calgary play their arch-rivals, the formerly-winless-but-now-streaking Edmonton Rush.

Other notes:

  • This happens in many sports. When a player (on either team) gets hurt and is down on the floor for a while, then gets back up and continues to play, the crowd applauds. If he gets back up and hobbles to the dressing room, the crowd applauds. If he doesn't get back up and is helped or even carried off the floor, the crowd applauds. Basically, if you stay down long enough and it's obvious you're not faking, the crowd will applaud no matter what happens. Since the outcome doesn't matter, it's almost as if they're applauding because you got hurt. I know this isn't the case, and I do applaud myself in these cases, it just seems strange.
  • I brought my dad to the game and told him right before it started, "Watch Geoff Snider, the Calgary guy doing all the face-offs. He's unbelievable". Snider proceeded to struggle at the dot and make a liar of me, winning only 11 of 21. I'm surprised it was even that high - we weren't sure he'd won any at halftime. I did see some of the old Snider in the second half, but he certainly wasn't as dominant as I've seen him in the past. Don't know if that has anything to do with the new faceoff rules or if he just had an off night. I'm guessing the latter, since his season average was over 64% coming into this game and was only 52% last night. The new rules may be having some effect, though, since he was over 75% last year.
  • Two players (Snider and Hoar) were removed from the faceoff circle during OT. I think this was because they had blood on their knees and NLL rules state that if you are bleeding, you cannot be on the floor. This was the only face-off all night that Snider didn't take for Calgary. Dane Dobbie lost it.
  • Nice to see Jim Veltman in the crowd, though I am surprised (and a little disappointed) that the ovation for the former captain wasn't longer.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Special places

I wrote on facebook a little while ago that "There is a special place in hell for people who blow snow from their driveway onto the road". Someone asked if people who don't shovel their sidewalk went there too, and I replied that they went to a different special place in hell. There are lots of special places in hell. Obviously there are places for murderers, child molesters, rapists, spammers, sidewalk non-shovellers, and people like that, but here are some other types of people that have their own special place:

  • People who smoke in their cars and throw the butts out the window. For that matter, people who smoke anywhere and throw their butts on the ground rather than properly disposing of them.
  • Similarly, people who throw litter of any kind out the window of their car or leave it on a shelf in a store.
  • People who park in handicapped spots who don't need them. Similarly, people who have disabled parking stickers and park in designated spots when they don't need to, i.e. someone has a sticker for mom who's in a wheelchair (fine), but uses the handicapped spot even if mom isn't there (not fine).
  • People who don't clear their table at fast-food restaurants (where there are no waiters to do it for you).
  • People who listen to the entire "We're not here right now" voicemail announcement, wait for the beep, and then hang up.
  • People who use the phrase "as well too". "As well" is fine, and "too" is fine, but you don't need to say both of them. That's just repeating yourself redundantly over again.
  • People who leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot.
  • People at pro sports games who stand up during play for the sole purpose of waving at their buddy who's somewhere else in the stadium, and who they are currently talking to on their cell phone. "Hey! Hey Steve! I'm over in section 119! Can you see me? How's it goin'?" Down and up, dude: Sit the F down and shut the F up.
  • People who take far more than 8 items into the express lane at the grocery store. If you end up with 10 or 11 and the limit is 8, that's no big deal, but there was a lady in front of me the other morning who filled up at least four of those big cloth bags in the eight-items-or-less line. Her total bill came to $89. The guy in front of me had about five items. I had one.
  • People who don't pull over to allow emergency vehicles to get by. North Americans are far worse at this than Europeans.
  • People who don't stop when a school bus has its lights flashing.

I'm sure I've missed some – feel free to leave a comment with yours! Note that I'm not talking about people who are just stupid or do something silly without thinking. This is for people who commit acts of extreme douchebaggery knowing that they're being dicks. Nobody leaves their shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot because they forgot to put it in the corral. Nobody tosses their cigarette butt out the window because they think that's the right thing to do with it. Looking over the list again, most of the time it's just extreme laziness. OK, saying "as well too" isn't laziness, and I wouldn't call it douchebaggery either. But those people still get their own special place. Otherwise, how will they learn?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The good, the bad, and the ugly

It was a year ago today that I had my pancreatitis attack. I've written a fair bit about it - an article on the original attack, a fun one about all my different roommates, some numbers regarding my hospital stay, and a three-part series on my time in the hospital before and after surgery and my recovery at home. Obviously this was not the ideal way to spend the winter, but being the glass-half-full kinda guy that I am, I've come up with some good things about my experience. But along with the good comes the bad and in some cases, the ugly.

Good: Lost the ten pounds that I wanted to lose!
Bad: Lost thirty more.
Ugly: Me. I looked like a skeleton for a while.

Good: Had Jello every day. My eight-year-old thinks that daddy's time in the hospital sucked, "but at least you got Jello!"
Bad: Had Jello every day.

Good: Education is always a good thing, and I learned more about what a gallbladder does.
Bad: Don't have one anymore.

Good: Met lots of friendly and helpful nurses.
Bad: Swabs twice a week.
Ugly: Don't ask where they were swabbing.

Good: Lots of free time to watch the Vancouver Olympics!
Bad: On a 9" TV with headphones.
Ugly: And a feeding tube up my nose.

Good: On Valentine's Day, I got a banana popsicle as part of my lunch.
Bad: It was the closest thing to solid food I'd had in a week or would have for another four weeks.

Good: Lots of time to read books.
Bad: Spilled bile on one. Ewwwwwww.

Good: Had a bunch of interesting roommates. See link to my roommates article above.
Bad: One was a clinically depressed homeless drunk drug addict. And he wasn't even a friendly clinically depressed homeless drunk drug addict.
Ugly: Another was forcibly secured to his bed because he had a breakdown and threatened nurses with a pencil.

Good: Canada! Free healthcare! Paid for nothing but the TV, internet, and phone in my room.
Bad: The TV cost about $90 / week. I cancelled it the week after the Olympics ended.

Good: Used text messages to converse with my sister from my hospital room.
Bad: The text auto-completion on my phone still thinks that any word beginning with "c" is "CT scan".

Good: Able to get wireless internet in my room.
Bad: The bandwidth wasn't good enough to watch streaming video and the TV didn't get TSN2, so I missed almost the entire 2010 NLL season.

Good: I gained back all the weight that I lost.
Bad: I didn't want it all back.
Ugly: I gained back more than I lost.

Good: I'm feeling back to normal now.
Bad: My eating habits aren't as healthy as they should be, and I don't exercise as often as I should. Yup, back to normal.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Game review: Buffalo 15 Minnesota 12

I watched this game on after plugging my laptop into my new plasma TV. I was surprisingly impressed with the picture quality, so major kudos to the NLL for supplying fans with a free way to watch every game.

Minnesota came in to this game a surprising 3-1, including two wins against the defending champion Washington Stealth. The Swarm's one loss was in overtime, so they were a goal away from being undefeated, and their confidence was high. The Bandits, on the other hand, came back to the HSBC Arena having been shut down by the Rock last weekend in Toronto. Their offense had something to prove, and prove it they did, scoring 15 goals. John Tavares, who the Bandits TV announcer called "the ageless wonder", scored two, giving him 699 for his career, and added six assists. Steenhuis and Culp both has hattricks for the Bandits, while Ryan Benesch continued putting up great numbers with three goals and four helpers. Tracey Kelusky did not have a great game, only picking up a single assist though not for lack of trying – Kelusky had 12 shots on net; only one other player had more than six.

As a Rock fan, I had no real rooting interest in this game. Well, I suppose I wanted Minnesota to win (or more accurately, I wanted Buffalo to lose) only because it's good for the Rock. So I figured any game report I gave would be mostly unbiased. But rather than actually writing stuff (i.e. doing actual work), I thought it would be a little different to summarize the game by listing some tweets that showed up during the game. I've removed most of the hashtags.

@GraemePerrow: Finding it hard to take the Swarm seriously in those uniforms

@BanditsBeat: Tavares scores his 698th career goal to give the Bandits a 1-0 lead

@apmckay: mearnsy really has to stop calling everyone Nicky and Chaddy.

@BanditsBeat: The Bandits' Brandon Francis drops the gloves with Minnesota's Rory Smith

@mattbova: Brand new Bandit James Purves is making his mark... on Sean Pollock's face

@apmckay: 3/5ths of the Swarm's PP is former Shamrox. #nowondertheysuck

@mattbova: Question of the day: Can the Bandits keep up this intensity for another 45 minutes of play?

@CurtisDickson17: Just watched 5 minutes of meet the browns, 5 minutes of my life I will never get back [GP: obviously Calgary rookie Dickson was not watching this game]

@NLLBandits: Travis Irving goes to town on the Swarms Andrew Suitor as they square off

@BanditsBeat: Traving Irving, Bandits No. 1 pick in 2010 draft, looks for a fight and finds a suitor, Andrew Suitor to be exact

@BanditsBeat: Bandits chase Swarm goalie Patterson, take 7-2 lead on Chad Culp's 3rd goal

@GraemePerrow: Nice goal by Culp from a great pass by Tavares. Mark my words, that Tavares guy's going to be someone in this league someday.

@mattbova: At the half it's Buffalo 8, Minnesota 4

@mattbova: Rich Morgan with a stinger past Mike Thompson makes it 5 for the Swarm #BadBeePuns

@mattbova: Official attendance here at the HSBC Arena? No joke: 15,001. Whoever that 1 is deserves to win something.

@Minnesota_Swarm: F Andrew Watt scores and brings the Swarm within three. The Bandits quickly counter with a goal and lead 11-7.

@NLLBandits: Frank Resetarits puts home his first of the night, 12-7

@buffalobandits: Sean Pollock scores for Minnesota after Steenhuis' goal was overturned

@Minnesota_Swarm: F Sean Pollock posts his second goal of the night, tying the all-time record for most points scored by a Minnesota Swarm player with 310.

@apmckay: Who is Tim Campineau and why does Gurtler keep saying his name? #Readthegamesheet

@BanditsBeat: Benech's scores his third on a one-hopper off the turf, 13-9 early in the 4th

@GeoffSnider4: Bre Carnegie drinking Scottys drink. What is this Vegas? [GP: the Calgary guys really aren't interested in this game, are they?]

@buffalobandits: 7 minutes to go in the 4th! 14-10! Anything can happen!

@apmckay: Speaking of "losing focus", Mearns just talked over 2 goals while obsessing over whether people were obsessing about Tavares' next goal.

@BanditsBeat: 15-12 as the Swarm score with the empty-net, still down 3 with 1 min left

@NLLBandits: The Buffalo #NLLBandits knock off the Minnesota Swarm by a score of 15-12 to move to 3-2 on the season