I’m writing this week’s blog from my bunk on the bus during our overnight trip to Orlando. Yes, there are feet inches from my face AGAIN. I’ve accepted the fact that this will not change, however, I am planning on talking to the boys about making a mandatory sock rule.
After a busy week, that included four games in five days, it was nice to get a couple of days off and a week of practice in before our trip to Orlando to play two games this Saturday and Sunday. We have looked pretty solid as of late, winning three of our last four. It’s important that we take care of business, especially in our upcoming games against divisional opponents. The standings are very close in our division and conference and every point will matter at the end of the season.
Shout out to my good buddy, Garret Sparks for his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs and for the becoming the first Leafs goalie to record a shut out in their debut! That is crazy when you really think about the history of the organization. He is also the 579th ECHL player to reach the NHL. Garret spent most of last season and parts of the season prior with the Orlando Solar Bears and was one of the best goalies in the ECHL. We played in Orlando together and we were road roommates for a while during his first season there. Last season in November, I had lunch in Wheeling with Garret while he was in the middle of a thirty-three day road trip with Orlando. He was sitting in the stands as he battled a groin injury. When he returned, he was on fire. He was putting up “video game” like statistics and showed his commitment to make it to the next level. His numbers speak for themselves, but his athleticism and mind for the game are what separates him. Garret is also one of the best goalies that I’ve seen when it comes to skating and handing the puck. This is probably because he spends a lot of time during the summer “skating out” and even plays as a forward on his Men’s league team in Chicago. Over the past two summers, Garret has visited me in Pittsburgh. He played forward during most of our skates and was able to even score a few goals while playing in games with primarily pro, college and junior players. He is extremely passionate about the game. If he wasn’t playing professionally, I’m positive that he would be playing hockey just about every day anyways.
The interview with Sparksy after his historic debut is amazing.
|Hanging out with Sparksy in Orlando after spending our day off at New Smyrna Beach. This photo was taken after I told young Garret to take his hat off at the table. He obviously didn’t listen.|
Shout out to GGSU!
GGSU is a goalie community based on Facebook with over 19,000 members, ranging from men’s leaguers to professionals. Sparksy is an admin in the group and runs the Legends camp, which is a camp for the GGSU members. This past summer the camp was held in Chicago and Pittsburgh, at my family’s business, the Ice Castle Arena. Garret is the face of the group and it was awesome to see the overwhelming support that he received after his NHL debut. Other GGSU notable members and camp instructors are former ECHLers and current NHL net minders, Mike Condon and Scott Darling. The GGSU camp this past summer was a great time with great guys who just wanted to work on their game and have fun. The camps have had people attend from all over North America and even a beauty from Australia. This year’s camps are scheduled for Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles. The age groups are junior-college and adult. I highly recommend the camp to any goalies looking to work on their game!
|GGSU Legends Camp group picture at the 2015 Pittsburgh Camp at the Ice Castle Arena|
Good morning from Orlando!
The iron lung made it to Cracker Barrel in Orlando around 6:30 this morning. Pretty sure Cracker Barrel is the unofficial breakfast provider of the ECHL Eastern Conference as it is a popular stop for most teams. After an early breakfast, we are on our way to the practice rink, the RDV Ice Den, for practice.