Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The pink ice game 2/27

The Adirondack Phantoms were hoping center Mitch Wahl would arrive in town in time to join them at practice today, but he got caught in a storm in Chicago and had to alter his travel plans. He should arrive in time for tomorrow's practice, so I'm hoping I will have the chance to catch up with him then.

EDIT: Looks promising.

In the meantime, with Friday's psuedo-doubleheader at Springfield looming, I had the chance to catch up with Phantoms winger Matt Ford about the experience of playing in a suspended game. He was a rookie with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2008-09 when a game was called due to unsafe ice conditions.

Ford told the story like this.

The Monsters were hosting their "Pink in the Rink" night for breast cancer awareness, but Lake Erie decided to take it a step further than most. Instead of just wearing specialty pink jerseys or other pink equipment, the Monsters painted the ice at Quicken Loans Arena pink and were to play a game on it.

However, Ford said the ice crews did not put enough ice over the layer of pink paint. By the midway point of the first period, players started to notice that their skates were cutting right through the ice and touching the paint below the surface. Ford said officials noticed the same thing later in the period.

By the time the teams returned to the locker room for first intermission, Ford said, the top layer of ice was basically gone. "They were just down to the paint completely and it was even worse," Ford said. That raised some injury concerns, so the ice crews tried to repair the surface during the intermission.

Most hockey intermissions last from 16 to 18 minutes. Ford estimated this one lasted between 60 and 90, while the crews literally attempted to scrape the pink paint off the rink in an attempt to get to the thicker layer of ice that had been painted over. Fans are watching this in the stands, Ford said, and he and his teammates were back in the hallways of the arena just playing soccer to try and stay loose.

They ultimately decide that scraping the pink off the rink won't work, so Ford said they make the decision to suspend the game and just play the remaining 40 minutes at a later date.

"I’m sure they made it up to the fans," he said. "It was quite a hassle being on the players' side of it."

Despite the hassle and inconvenience, Ford said suspending the game was probably the right choice.

"Guys were concerned going for races for the pucks in the corners," Ford said. "You don’t want to see injuries. I think the refs talked it out with the coaches, probably similar to the situation in Springfield. They want to continue the game, but obviously, for whatever reason, it’s not the right thing to do."

Now, here's where things get really interesting.

Lake Erie's opponent on that night, San Antonio, was scheduled to return to town a few days later. However, the Monsters and Rampage chose not to work out a doubleheader like the ones the Phantoms and Falcons will play Friday, with the suspended game continuing at 6 p.m. So that date with San Antonio came and went, and the Monsters and Rampage still had 40 more minutes to play.

"They had to fly San Antonio back into Cleveland on a random day and play two periods," Ford said.

Not only that, but the teams didn't continue the game at the Quicken Loans Arena, the cavernous arena that can seat 20,500 for an NBA basketball game. They finished it April 6 at Hoover Arena, which Ford said was the Monsters' practice facility. Ford imagined it was like playing a pro game at the Glens Falls Recreation Center on Fire Road, but he could not exactly attest to that first-hand.

The Monsters cut him three days after the pink ice game and he went back to help the Charlotte Checkers, then still in the ECHL, make a playoff push. So when the Monsters and Rampage went out to finish the suspended game, another player wore the No. 23 sweater Ford wore to start the contest.

He was one of nine Monsters and Rampage players who started the game, but did not finish it.

"It was disappointing because I was (minus)-1 in the first period," Ford said with a laugh. "I think player safety comes first."

Phantoms coach Terry Murray said there will be a similar line-up provision in place for this game. It does not matter which 18 skaters or two goalies dressed for the game the first time out. They could theoretically dress another 20 players if they wanted to, though there is going to be some overlap.

Here's what the lines and d-pairings looked like at practice without Wahl.



Based on that, I think you might see Noebels slot to the second-line left wing slot and Wahl center that line. They've repeatedly talked about hoping Wahl will bring some added offense to this team, so putting him with two guys who have put the puck in the net in the past could have some benefits.

More after tomorrow's practice.
-- MC


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home