Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hamilton Bulldogs @ Adirondack Flames 12/2/14

A few weeks ago, I was back in Albany after a brief break from school for Thanksgiving. Within a couple days of coming back, I went to Glens Falls Civic Center to try and get some autographs from the Adirondack Flames and Hamilton Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. I had gotten pretty much anybody on the Flames last time, but I had a few things for some people that weren't there last time.

One of the main targets for this trip to Glens Falls was Devin Setoguchi, who was recently sent down from the Calgary Flames. I'm pretty sure this was his first skate with Adirondack since being sent down. After a few other players went off before him, Setoguchi stepped off the ice and started signing for everyone. He used someone else's dying Sharpie for all the autographs, but I got him to sign two photos anyway, which is always fine. Right out of the gate, I had one of my main targets.

One of the other targets for this day was Max Reinhart, older brother of Griffin, an Islanders prospect who I met recently. Max wasn't playing in that night's game, so he was getting some extra work in after the formal skate ended. Eventually, he came off the ice and signed a 4x6 photo for me. He's been up and down from the NHL, and it looks like it will stay that way for the near future.

The last player left on the ice for the Flames was former Islander Trevor Gillies. He is one of few enforcers and fighters left in professional hockey, and HERE is a great article about him from a few weeks ago. He was doing some drills with one of the coaches to improve his hand-eye coordination. I took the photo on the left a few minutes before he came off. Once he left the ice, he signed the picture I took with him last time. That was the last Flames autograph I got.

Shortly after the Flames left the ice, the zamboni came on, and I relaxed in the stands. During that time, I got an autograph from Vincent Riendeau, who is the Assistant GM of the Bulldogs and a former NHL goaltender. He signed my team sheet while sitting in the stands. Also before the skate started, assistant coach Donald Dufrense and player Connor Crisp sat down in the stands to talk before the skate. While a few people including myself wanted them to sign, we didn't want to interrupt their conversation. After about 15 minutes, they headed back into the locker room, but not before signing first. Dufrense signed a card that a friend had given me, and I got Crisp to sign the team sheet. The skate eventually started, and I took the panorama you see below.

The first player to come off the ice was former Islander Joey MacDonald. I met him many years ago when he was still playing for the Islanders. He was very nice, and he signed a photo, a card, and my team sheet for me before going into the locker room. When someone told him I was an Islanders fan, he joked about it a little bit. 

Another former Islander came off shortly after. Standing at 6 feet 8 inches tall, it is hard to miss Joe Finley. When he came off the ice, he walked right over to me and signed a 4x6 photo that I actually printed out last season when he was on Bridgeport. Good thing I didn't throw it out. He also signed his page in last year's Islanders yearbook. He made a joke about Evgeni Nabokov's face in the yearbook photo, which is pretty funny when you see it.

Davis Drewiske and Drayson Bowman also came off the ice at about the same time. Drewiske won the Stanley Cup with the Kings a few years ago, and Bowman recently played for the Hurricanes. I had some trouble figuring out who was who, but I figured it out well enough to get both of them to sign a photo and my team sheet. Drewiske said he likes signing the photo on the left, with good reason.

The last photo I had was of Canadiens top prospect Nathan Beaulieu. I hadn't heard of him before reading through the Bulldogs roster, but I figured I'd print out a photo and see what happens. When someone else recognized him coming off the ice, I went over to him and got him to sign the photo. That was the last photo I got signed on the day. That night's backup goalie Mike Condon came off after, and he signed my team sheet. I also took a photo with him after he took photos with a few other Canadiens fans.

One of the last autographs I got on the day was that of assistant coach Stephan Lebeau. I was given three cards of him, and he had no problem signing all three. A couple other people had about 20 cards each of him, and Lebeau had no problem signing them all and talking to us about his favorite card, one of him bumping into Wayne Gretzky, and telling us about his personal collection. I don't think he could have been any nicer.

And lastly, here is my Bulldogs signed team sheet with everyone that signed it and the numberer they put on it.
19-Christian Thomas 15-Drayson Bowman 21-Nick Sorkin  18-Jake Dowell
 9-Mac Bennett 24-Jack Nevins 39-Joey MacDonald 23-Connor Crisp
2-Greg Pateryn 5-Jarred Tinordi 11-Daniel Carr 1-Mike Condon 
4- Davis Drewiske 8-Nathan Beaulieu 20-Jacob de la Rose
TJ Hensick (center right) and Vincent Riendeau (bottom left) signed without numbers.

That will do it for this entry. Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays!! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hall of Famer Denis Potvin 11/29/14

When I was home for Thanksgiving break, there was some graphing to be done. I went to Nassau Coliseum for the first couple times this season over the break to watch the Islanders, who have been a pleasant surprise so far this season.

Before their game against the Devils on 11/29, the Islanders were scheduled to honor Hall of Famer and longtime Islanders Captain Denis Potvin. However, like all other important people, Potvin was going to be interviewed on the Islanders MSG+ pre-game show. So, before the game, my father and I headed over to where the interview was going to happen.

At the Coliseum, the studio is set up in the lower lobby on ice level. It is really easy for any fan to access. Usually, that is where the pre-game show and the show in between periods is shot. I figured Potvin would be interviewed on the pre-game show like some other Isles legends had been before him, so I stood in a good spot around the fence that surrounded the studio. I probably could have gotten an autograph from Islanders great and MSG analyst Butch Goring during the time I was waiting for Potvin, but I had nothing for him to sign.

At about 6:30, Potvin walked down a hallway toward the studio. The giveaway for the game was a Denis Potvin mini-locker, and my father and I each got one on the way in. Eventually, Potvin walked right up to me, took my sharpie, and signed a puck for me and a mini-locker that my dad had. One of the producers for MSG asked Potvin to sign for a few minutes so they could get a shot to use in their pre-game show, and Potvin was happy to oblige. As he was walking toward me, I got him to sign another puck, as you can see in the video below. When I asked, he added the Hall of Fame inscription.

Shortly after signing, Potvin was interviewed on the pre-game show and honored with a ceremonial puck drop before the game.  If you read this blog often, you may remember I got Glenn 'Chico' Resch to sign one of the same type of puck in April that I got Potvin on that night. Here are the three autographs my dad and I got of him.

That's it for this brief entry. I'm heading back to Long Island for my winter break from school. I'll have some more stories when I get there. Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating and good luck graphing. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Albany Devils 11/23/14

Before Thanksgiving, I went to one more Albany Devils game before going home for the break. Unlike a couple other times this season, I went to the game between the Sound Tigers and Devils on November 23. It was a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do, so my friend and I got some cheap tickets and were off to the Times Union Center. I had already met most of the Sound Tigers and Devils earlier this season, but this was likely going to be the last time I saw the Sound Tigers this season, so I figured I'd go.

The game was a tough one for the Sound Tigers, they lost 5-2. I got one of the Albany goals on video.  
It was a rough night for Bridgeport. I'm pretty sure goalie David Leggio got hurt during that game. But, after the game, I was back outside in the usual spot to try and get some autographs before I went home.

One of the first guys going to the bus was recently sent down Colin McDonald. He was the captain of the Sound Tigers during the NHL lockout in 2012-13, and he was sent down a few games into the season. He signed two 4x6 photos for me before signing for everyone else and going on the bus. I also met him during Islanders clean out day in April.

One of the next Bridgeport guys to walk out the door was Harry Zolnierczk. He signed a photo for me last time, and I didn't really have much for him. Before he got on the bus, I got him to sign an index card because I figured I'd get him on something if I don't see him again for a while.

Shortly after was defenseman Ryan Pulock. He was called up to the Islanders for less than a day last weekend. He will be playing on the Islanders real soon. He signed a picture from his Barclays Center goal for me.

The last Sound Tiger whose autograph I got was that of starting goalie David Leggio. Like I mentioned earlier, he had a rough game in the loss. I took a picture of him at Barclays Center, and I was very happy to get him to sign it, even though the signature is very thin. He probably won't play a regular season game for the Islanders, but it was cool to get my own picture signed.

Since the weather wasn't too cold out, my friend and I figured we'd stay and get some Devils autographs as well. I had a photo that I took at the end of a Devils game last season, and I wanted to try and get that signed by some of the Albany players. I ended up getting eight Devils to sign the 4x6 photo that I printed out, as you can see below. It was signed by the following players:

15-Paul Thompson (He wasn't even on the Devils last year, oops.)
19-Mike Sislo
8-Dan Kelly 9-Joe Whitney
29-Raman Hrabarenka
23-Darcy Zajac
25-David Wohlberg
18-Stefan Matteau

That was it for the Albany players. We waited for the coaches as well. I got goalie coach Johan Hedberg to sign an index card. I also got assistant coach Sergei Brylin to sign a pocket schedule from last season. I have a bunch of those and that was the first one I got signed. That was it for this game.

Now, here's something I forgot to write about a few weeks ago when it actually happened. Longtime backup Scott Clemmensen was sent down to Albany in early November. I went one day after a game to try and get his autograph, and I got it. He was extremely nice, signed everything for everyone, and even took a photo with me. He signed the only 4x6 I had with me.

That's it for this entry. Thanks for reading and good luck graphing!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chicago Wolves @ Adirondack Flames 11/18/14

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go up to Glens Falls for the morning skates of the Adirondack Flames, AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames, and the Chicago Wolves, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. The Flames are brand new, having moved to Glens Falls, N.Y. from British Columbia in Canada. Last season, the Adirondack Phantoms played in Glens Falls as the Flyers AHL affiliate, but they moved to Lehigh Valley, P.A. prior to this season, which left the Flames to come to New York.

After showing up bright and early for the morning skate, I just went up to the tunnel where the Flames would be leaving the ice after their skate. During the skate, one of the Flames goalies made a save, sending the puck over the glass and into the stands. With pretty much nobody else there, I walked over and picked up the puck. It is just a blank puck, no logos on it or anything like that. I'll probably end up getting it signed one day in the near future.

Eventually, the Flames started coming off the ice one at a time. I had a team sheet for them and a few 4x6 photos of some of the players. One of the first guys off was Joni Ortio, the starting goalie for that night's game. He was nice and signed. The backup goalie that night was Brad Thiessen, former Pittsburgh Penguin. He also was nice and signed as soon as he came off the ice. That's him signing on the left.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Glens Falls was to see former New York Islander Trevor Gillies. Many fans know him for being in this brawl against Pittsburgh in 2011. Earlier this season, he was suspended for an illegal hit against the Rochester Americans. He was back from his suspension by the time I was in Glens Falls.

After he got off the ice, he was going to sign, then realized he was really sweaty and needed a towel. He said he would come back in a couple minutes. A few minutes later, Gillies showed up without his jersey and with a towel. I told him I was from Long Island, and he extended his right hand and said, "Trevor, nice to meet you." I shook it and handed him a sharpie. He signed the two 4x6 photos I had of him and personalized one of them. He said he liked the photo he ended up personalizing, and I didn't even ask for it. He just did it once I told him my name. I then took a picture with him, wished him luck, and he went back into the locker room. The photo is on the right. You can see the autographs further down in this entry.

Since I spent a solid two minutes talking to Gillies, I missed a couple of players coming off the ice, but it was worth it to get to hang out with a player who has some sentimental value to me.

I got a few 4x6 photos signed by the Flames, and here they are in no particular order.
Trevor Gillies
Brad Thiessen

Trevor Gillies
Corey Potter
And below is the Adirondack Flames team sheet I got signed by as many people as I could, as well as the number they signed with. One player apologized for writing the wrong number with his signature. 
6-Dustin Steven 5-Tyler Wotherspoon 46-Bill Arnold 16-Matthew Tousignant 
7-Ryan Culkin 44-Corey Potter 28-Ben Hanowski 48-Bryce Van Brabant 
14-Mark Cundari 7-John Ramage 39-Brad Thiessen 31-Joni Ortio
14-Trevor Gillies 32-Patrick Sieloff 38-Nolan Yonkman
Assistant coach Todd Gill signed in the top left corner under Steven's signature. 

After the Flames left the ice, the zamboni went on the ice and I went over to the other side of the rink to watch the Wolves skate. I took the panorama below while the Wolves were on the ice. 
Eventually, the Wolves started coming off the ice. I got autographs from pretty much everyone that was on the ice for them, including a few Stanley Cup winners. As the Wolves were doing their skate, I was told that former goaltender Ty Conklin was on the ice as one of the coaches in the Blues organization. In the photo on the left, Conklin is the one in the Blues apparel mentoring young goalie Matt Clime. Conklin signed a puck for me once he came off. Clime is the goaltender in the photo the left who signed. He was quite sweaty, so some of his sweat dripped onto people's items. 

Here is the team sheet I got signed by the Wolves and names and numbers of everyone that signed it. 
49-Gergo Nagy 9-Shane Harper 28-Brett Regner 38-Sebastian Wannstrom 42-Jake Chelios  5-Mathieu Brodeur 33-Matt Clime 24-Colin Fraser 21-Ben Ferriero  
12-Pat Cannone 6-Jani Hakanpaa 4-Petteri Lindbohm 
7-David Shields 15-Jeremy Welsh. 37-Terry Broadhurst
Ty Rattie, Jordan Binnington, and Yannick Vielleux signed without numbers. 
Coaches Mark Hardy (bottom left) and Brad Tapper (top center) signed without numbers. 

Brent Sopel
I got other items signed by some of the Wolves. Here they are.
Colin Fraser
Colin Fraser
Ty Conklin
Mark Hardy (Index Card)
Ty Rattie

That's it for this entry. It was quite a successful day in Glens Falls. I have a few more entries to catch up on, and I will have those up as soon as possible. Thanks for reading, good luck graphing, and have a great day.