It was a hot Saturday morning in Southern California, not the type of day most folks would want to spend inside an even hotter inline skating rink with no air conditioning, but they came anyway... and they were heavily rewarded.
The Huntington Beach Inline was the location of the second annual Shoot for the Cure. Former Ducks defenseman Joe DiPenta (of the infamous lasagna) helped found the event last year, which raises money for the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) Oncology Floor and the Anaheim Ducks Foundation, Inc. Kids in a number of age groups can enter to compete against each other in skill competitions such as fastest shot, best shootout, and accuracy categories.
Some of our favorite Duck players graciously donated their time to help coach the competitions and interact with the kids. For this year's event, Andrew Ebbett, my boy Bobby Ryan, Mike Brown, Brendan Mikkleson, and James Wisniewski were on hand.
There's just something amusing about a group of big guys in hockey jerseys, shorts, and flip flops...
Even if you didn't enter the competitions, general admission tickets would get you into the event to watch the competitions, enjoy a lunch provided by sponsor Chick-Fil-A, and the opportunity to win a number of raffle prizes and/or silent auctions. By the way, wear your Ducks gear into a Chick-Fil-A on Labor Day and get a free chicken sandwich.
The Chick-Fil-A cow garnered more enthusiasm from the younger crowd than the players did.
Yours truly arrived on scene with Rebel just before the players did. I ran into fellow Ducks blogger and friend Suz Broughton and her adorable kids.
Andrew Ebbett poses for a shot with Suz's kids... and some dude's shoulder that messed up my shot.
Sometimes I wish I had kids just so I could get famous hockey players to pose with them in pictures. That's not selfish, right?
The competitions were fun to watch, and you could tell the players were having just as much fun, if not more fun, than the kids!
Wiz trying to balance a rolling "puck" on his stick.
Andrew Ebbett coaching kids in one of the accuracy competitions.
Brendan Mikkleson: "Oh crap, you just hit that kid in the face!" (not really)
Bobby winds up as the guys goofed off competing with each other for the fastest shot.
Between the players, I think it was Wiz who won the fastest shot. He rocketed one of those orange rubber balls upwards of 75 mph... not easy to do when you're wearing flip flops! He raised his arms in victory while fans in the crowd cheered him. Then he raced off the rink...
When he returned, he was met by a small group of fans shyly asking for pictures and autographs. Yours truly has never had the opportunity to talk to Wiz and was pleasantly surprised as he stayed behind to chit chat, take pictures with, and sign autographs for every last fan that was waiting. Great guy, and I told him I was happy he managed to work something out with the Ducks despite the arbitration.
I've never met a Ducks player who wasn't the nicest guy in person. I love that about our Ducks!
Before the end of the event, I found out that Bobby does indeed remember me and has read these pages. I guess now he knows I expect a 40-goal season from him. Pressure's on! If this wasn't enough Duck to whet appetites for the upcoming season, the Fedorin Cup held later that afternoon would do the trick. Stay tuned!
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman
Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
With the preseason less than a month away, hockey fans in Southern California are getting that itch. Even more so with our 90-100+ degree weather right now, the ice is calling! Since there aren't any real live games yet to feed the hunger, Ducks fans will settle for the next best thing:
Talking to other Ducks hockey fans who share and understand the same addiction. And what better place to do this than the Ducks-sponsored hockey exhibit at the Discovery Science Center!
The first Ducks Tweetup was held here Wednesday night, thanks to organizers and Duck fans extraordinaire Suz and SK. Suz actually deserves the credit (and blame) for helping yours truly onto the Twitter bandwagon and introducing me to so many incredible Duck fans.
I'd never actually visited this exhibit before, although I drive past it almost every week off the 5 Freeway. Special thanks to the Discovery Science people for letting us congregate and see their exhibit for free.
The actual exhibit is full of Ducks logos and branding, with life-sized pictures of the players, replica banners, and donated hockey equipment. Visitors can rotate through the various stations, learning about aspects of the game and the science involved.
I need one of these for my house!
How JS Giguere and Jonas Hiller move in these heavy, bulky things is beyond me!
In the Ducks "locker room," visitors learn about the diet and exercise routines players must adhere to.
A simulated player (I think it's Corey Perry? I didn't actually look) shoots foam pucks at visitors who attempt to play goalie in front of the net...
... while a second simulation involves the visitor trying to shoot pucks past Jiggy. Yours truly actually tried this one. My result? Three goals out of five shots, average puck speed of 25mph, yay! Never mind that I fanned twice and missed the net entirely once.
Ducks PA announcer Phil Hulett goin' five-hole
Other exhibits showcase reaction time to sight, sound, and touch stimuli; a real zamboni and how it re-ices the rink; the physics behind different kinds of ice skates and their blades; the use of friction between the puck and the ice; a "penalty box" which tests math skills; and a broadcasting booth.
I personally liked the Stanley Cup champion memorabilia exhibit:
I need one of these for my house too
The best part of the evening was getting to meet a lot of the Ducks friends I had made through Twitter.
SK and Suz, the lovely ladies who made the night possible
Oh, and let's not forget the awesome chocolate Duck-cakes provided by Meringue Bakeshop.
They were almost too cute to eat. Almost.
Next post? Coverage of the Shoot for the Cure and Fedorin Cup events this Saturday. Go Ducks!!!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Just a few more tidbits to feed Ducks fans during the looonnnggg offseason month of August...
How about this for an awesome picture? Ex-Duck Chris Kunitz and his new baby with Lord Stanley's Cup. I love it, although the pic really makes me miss Kuny in a Ducks jersey.
There was an extraordinary article in the OC Register about Duck forwards George Parros and Bobby Ryan visiting Fort Irwin out in the Mojave Desert. Great pictures to boot. Check it out: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/parros-soldiers-ryan-2528070-combat-military
Bob Murray has most likely finished up his offseason trades with one last round. Drew Miller and the Ducks' 3rd round draft pick were sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for bruiser Evgeny Artyukhin, whose last name sounds like an attack move in Street Fighter. Mixed feelings about this one. I've heard some bad things about Artyukhin... that he's a goon, that he takes bad penalties, etc. And at 6'5", 270lbs, the guy is a friggin' monster. Ugh.
And then I'm also sad to see Drew Miller go. He may have not been a huge point scorer, but the guy had a heart of gold. Read this story if you don't believe me: http://www.hockeytalk.biz/francis.htm
Yours truly has finalized her mini-plan for next season. I'm doing the 15-game pick 'em plan, so I got to choose, more or less, which games I get to go to. First up will be our preseason game against the Coyotes. Looks like I'll be sitting in Row H of any one of three sections throughout the year: 414, 431, and 436. Shout-out to Kyle for hooking that up!
Season tickets are hitting the mail around Labor Day.
Thinking our Ducks roster is more or less set for the 2009-10 season, I updated the pics in the sidebar. Saku Koivu is added, but I'm going to update that pic as soon as we get some press on him in his new Ducks gear. Joffrey Lupul gets an automatic add into the sidebar, seeing as he's been a Duck more than once. As for the new guys (Boynton, Sbisa, McCarthy, Arty, etc.), I'll wait and see what they do on the ice first. I had to remove Chris Pronger and Frankie Beauchemin... but I still cannot remove Kuny. Maybe I will if the Penguins beat our Ducks November 3rd.
So exciting! Hockey is finally getting close enough for me to taste.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Hockey great Jeremy Roenick officially announced the end of his 20-year NHL career today. He gave a touching speech at his final press conference, and I found myself getting misty-eyed even though I don't really have any strong ties to ole J.R.
I mean, I wasn't yet a hockey fan during Roenick's rise to stardom with the Chicago Blackhawks. I also didn't start attending Kings games until the season after Roenick had played in a Kings' jersey; although I understand he's not exactly a favorite amongst Kings fans. Something about underachieving...
Still, his reputation as an incredible hockey player (he's the third highest scoring American-born player in the league to date) with an incredible personality made him a hockey icon and one of the more notorious athletes in a sport that could definitely use the attention. J.R. had opinions on everything and he wasn't shy about sharing them. He played his game the same way: gritty, uncensored, passionate. Love him, hate him, or don't care, anyone with anything to do with hockey knew of Jeremy Roenick.
He was the Alexander Ovechkin of his time.
Jeremy Roenick on the red carpet at the 2009 NHL Awards
Being a Ducks fan, it's a little bittersweet that my team stole away J.R.'s last chance at the Stanley Cup. The Ducks knocked the Sharks out of the playoffs in the first round, dashing hopes that Roenick would cap off a 20-year NHL career with hockey's Holy Grail held high over his head.
As happy as I was that my Ducks won the series, I did feel a bit bad for J.R.. If anyone was more deserving after 20 years in the NHL, after doing what he did for fans and players of the sport, I would have liked to see him get there. It would have seemed right, ya know?
Well, J.R., I still admire you. Cup or no cup, you've made your mark on this sport and people will remember you for your contributions, good and bad. I'm hoping we haven't heard and seen the last of you, outspoken commentary and outrageous dance moves included: