With the exception of four games during the NHL lockout, the Battle of Alberta had never managed to inspire box office success in the Fraser Valley. Last weekend saw a minor uptick, with the official attendance landing just north of 5,000. Sadly, the team’s average this year was nearly two grand fewer than that, which puts the City of Abbotsford on the hook for millions of dollars of guaranteed revenue support to the team. So yeah, instead of paying an uncertain sum at the end of each season for the next five years, Abbotsford will fork over $5.5 million here and now to have the team just… go away.
Does it matter that the Heat are on their way to the post-season? Is it important that blame can be thrown at everything from poor marketing to even worse public relations, from to smalltown politics to a bizarre, small-minded Canucks-or-nothing mindset in the Vancovuer area? No, nope, and nuh-uh. Sayonara, American Hockey League. Abbotsford City Council has homeless people to shame over here — they don’t have time for you any longer.
On the ice, the Heat have won eight of their last eleven, and hqve now tied their best-ever point total (92). With a tie or a win on Saturday, they’ll be saying adios after a franchise record under their belts. This despite sending record numbers of prospects up to the big club during a rash of injuries in the Calgary Flames locker room for extended periods this season.
I didn’t get a chance to post pictures from the final game of the Great Northwest Showcase, a 5-3 win for the Arizona State Sun Devils over the host SFU Clan. The Sun Devils found their legs between the previous day’s misadventures against the UBC Thunderbirds — and chatter by players during pre-game stretches suggested the Americans aren’t used to the aggressive forechecks thrown at them by the T-birds on Friday.
Okay, I already feel bad about the title. Sure, the visiting teams in the inaugural Great Northwest Showcase are American. And yes, there are national politics and cultural question marks that make them the Darths and Emperors of the world next to our farmboy-cum-Jedi status up here. But goldang it if each and every one of the team members and staff that I met this weekend weren’t incredibly nice, wonderfully passionate people who revolve their lives around the great game of hockey. (I’m lookin’ at you, Oklahoma University men’s hockey Assistant GM Chris Kelly… Not naming any names…)
But hey, the title is what the title is. In the immortal words of Billy Crystal, “It’s already out there.” And after day one of this exhibition tournament, which saw the Canadian teams trounce their American visitors by a combined score of 12-2, the empire really did strike back. They had to, just to make the plane ride back to the south bearable.
Day one of the inaugural Great Northwest Showcase is in the books, and it was a good day for the boys eating home cooking. Both the UBC Thunderbirds and SFU Clansmen iced winning sides against American collegiate sides — UBC thumped the NCAA’s number-one ranked Arizona State Sun Devils 8-2, while SFU shut out the number-six Oklahoma Sooners 4-0.
More after the jump, including a photo gallery for your visual pleasure.
The Simon Fraser University Clansmen are hosting familiar crosstown rivals and distant strangers alike this weekend, as the Great Northwest Showcase goes down on December 28-29 at the Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby, BC.
It’s a great opportunity to check out some quality hockey in a very intimate setting — the Bill Copeland Arena in Burnaby screams small-town puck despite being in the middle of the Lower Mainland — and there are some interesting players to watch for as well.
Chris wears a shirt that is destined for ugly jersey greatness, offers to help cheer your opponents into oblivion, and makes an inappropriate comment about his ancestors. Jason is his usual smug, snickering self, but he scores a few points for adding some of Bruno Mars “Locked Out of Heaven” into the opening of the podcast.
Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
Somebody Approved This: Grizzly Adams Halloween Jersey
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Oklahoma City Barons hadn’t scored in nearly seven periods of hockey. The streak went back to a game last weekend against the Houston Aeros, and the Abbotsford Heat contributed another five and a half periods of frustration for the visitors from OC.
In between were a massive Aeros comeback to win that game, and consecutive shutout losses to the San Antonio Rampage and this very same Heat squad. As overheard in the media room before puck drop, “Will the young stars show up tonight? Probably, seeing as they’re going to be on TV.”
(Want more pictures, video highlights and warblings from yours truly? You got it. But first, buy this book. Or don’t. Your call.)