Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Worcester Sharks @ Albany Devils 1/24/15

I'm back in Albany, and within a week of moving back, I had a prime opportunity to get some good autographs after an Albany Devils game. They had just played the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks won the game 2-1 in overtime, and after the final goal was scored, the ink started flowing.

Way back in 2013, I met former Islander Micheal Haley after a game in what was one of my first experiences getting autographs after a Devils game. He was famous for being in the middle of the infamous Islanders/Penguins brawl in 2011.

Shortly after that game in 2011, I bought a Haley t-shirt from the Islanders team store. Shortly after, Haley wasn't an Islander and I had no use for the shirt. However, this past week, I found out Haley was on the Worcester Sharks, so I brought the shirt back to Albany with me. After watching a few other Sharks walk out the door, Haley walked out by himself. I immediately recognized him and called him over. First, I asked him to sign a photo of him fighting current Albany Devil Rod Pelley that Pelley already signed at an autograph signing last year. Then, after trading sharpies, I took the shirt out of my pocket and held it out. He signed it beautifully on the number nine. He didn't talk much, and I thanked him before going onto the bus.

Since the weather forecast was ominous, I didn't print out many things to get signed on this day. However, once I heard Tomas Hertl got sent down to Worcester, I knew I had to print stuff and try to get his autograph. Does the name not sound familiar to you? Click HERE and you will remember who he is. After nearly the whole team walked out the door, Hertl finally emerged into the sunlight. He immediately started signing before even he could realize what was happening. Here is a brief video that I took of him signing for some people.

Shortly after I turned off the camera, Hertl signed a photo for me. He also signed a Worcester Sharks team logo sheet that I had printed out. However, it wasn't a full size logo sheet, it was just a 4x6 logo sheet because I didn't plan on getting too many Sharks. After taking a selfie with Hertl that you can see on the right, Hertl kept signing for the mob of people that formed. After another minute or two, I grabbed a puck and silver sharpie out of my pocket and got Hertl to sign that as well. He was a humble, nice guy. He took every photo and signed every autograph. Class act. Hopefully he will stay that way.

 Below is the Worcester Sharks logo sheet with everyone that signed it in the space they signed it.
2-Dylan DeMelo  20-Matt Taormina 26-Willie Coetzee 
38-Mirco Mueller 12-Freddie Hamilton 48-Tomas Hertl

Soon after Hertl got on the bus, others got on and the bus tried to depart, but it couldn't because of a few obstacles. Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) were scheduled to play a college hockey game at the Time Union Center just a few hours after the Devils game ended. So, as the Sharks were leaving, the RPI bus showed up and their players were entering. Eventually, the RPI players left and their bus got out of the way so the Sharks could go home. As players from both colleges showed up to the arena, Devils were still walking out. 

I didn't get many autographs from the Devils, but I did get a few. The first one I got was of Pelley, who signed a pocket schedule from last season for me. I figure those could be good to get signed if I don't have anything else for a Devils player. The only other I autograph I got from a Devils player was from Seth Helgeson. Helgeson played 21 games for New Jersey so far this season, and I found a cool picture of him from Jaromir Jagr's hat trick earlier this season. As the sun started to set, Helgeson came out and signed the photo for me. He said he liked the photo. 

While Devils players were coming out, a couple other people getting autographs noticed Union head coach Rick Bennett walking towards the arena. Bennett coached Union to a stunning National Championship last season, and he also played 15 games for the New York Rangers during a brief NHL career. I stopped Bennett on his way in and he signed a blank autograph card for me before signing similar blank cards for others. One other person getting autographs told him, "No fights this year," in reference to the infamous Union/RPI Brawl in 2014 where Bennett got into a physical fight with RPI's coach. Bennett chuckled before telling us there would be no fight. In case you're wondering, there was no fight.

Then, it was just time to wait for the Devils coaches. Former New Jersey great and Stanley Cup Champion Sergei Brylin came out and signed a card that I had found while home for a month. It's always nice to get cards signed as I don't get many signed in person. 
Later, Johan Hedberg came out. After signing about 30 cards for someone else, he signed a card and photo for me. I then took a picture with him and thanked him for stopping. I may end up printing out the picture of me and Hedberg and try and get him to sign it. 

That does it for this entry. Thanks for reading. Good luck graphing. 

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