Saturday, June 17, 2006

AMHL Thursday: the Eagle and the Sharp-tailed Grouse

(photo courtesy of Bunkosquad at

“Nice shot, Jimmy,” the hunter said to his buddy on an early morning OLN program. Jimmy had just dropped a small bird from the air.

I’m not an outdoorsman. I was watching OLN as I dressed for my game against the Capitals only because I hoped to catch the “Messing with Sasquatch” beef jerky commercial OLN had aired during the Stanley Cup Finals and which was not getting air time on NBC.

No luck. At 5:55, my wife (and AMHL photographer) and I left the house to head for the rink. Driving below the speed limit, we arrived five or ten minutes later. I entered the Rink One locker room, where Avalanche teammates, veteran Erik Domingo and rookie Ed Noel (acquired in a trade last week), were seated.

Meanwhile, Avalanche goalie and Boston College grad Mike “the Eagle” Chase, was flying! Zoooooom! Nearing the rink at nearly 50 mph, he spotted a police car, which was camouflaged like a hunter hiding in the woods. Chase all but slammed on the breaks, but it was too late. Gotcha.

The last Avalanche player on the ice, Chase had little time to warm up, and the Caps scored two goals on him in the first period. We bagged two of our own, and the first period ended 2–2.

The Capitals sped by us in the second period, scoring with well-placed shots and on lucky bounces. Down 2–8 after the disastrous middle segment, we—all seven Avalanche skaters plus Capitals’ forward Jim Nestor, who had switched sides—gasped for breath.

In the third period, Noel scored his first goal of the season for us.

“Welcome to the bigs,” I said to him as the tall, angular rookie skated toward the bench and I hopped the boards to replace him.

My turn to score. The puck slid into the slot. I darted in from the blue line and cradled the puck on my stick blade. A mental image flashed: low glove-side, wide-open.

I wristed the puck—a bullet, on net—right into goalie John Tourney’s mid-section. He snagged the puck and dropped to his knees to prompt a face-off.

Nice shot, Jimmy! If only I had been aiming at a sharp-tailed grouse.

In the locker room after a 3–10 loss, we quickly dissected the humiliation and then switched gears, preferring to learn more about our goalie’s interaction with the Concord police.

Chase got off with only a warning, and it wasn’t the first time.

“Did you offer him free tickets to this morning’s game?” I asked.

“And free donuts?” Domingo added.

(I could divulge Chase’s secret, but I don’t want to alert the authorities because there will likely be a next time.)

Then it was off to the donut room for more laughs before “the Eagle”—presumably flying below the radar gun—drove to work his tail off in BC's IT department.
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