Category Archives: News and Notes

YouTube Tuesday

After weeks and weeks of rumors it finally happened. The ECHL officially absorbed the CHL’s 7 teams. You can read the ECHL’s official announcement  here. I’m aiming to have a round-up of all the news and stories from this big announcement posted sometime tomorrow.


Yeah…

Rather than even acknowledge last night’s game, let’s talk about something way more fun.

BWTB

Way more fun right? One of my favorite Everblades fans on Twitter brought this to my attention. He was hoping we could find a way to get the word out about this awesome event.

For those of you who own a company, maybe you would consider sponsoring a lane? All you have to so is fill out the form I’ve attached here: Everblades Sponsorship Form.


It’s Finally Here

  We’re skipping the usual Friday Links post to bring you a special post featuring Chelsea’s writing and my photos, a one two punch of mind-blowing blog-nificence to celebrate the long dull off-season finally being over.
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The morning has dawned on the Everblades first preseason game. The long summer is over, the ice is set and the Florida Everblades are set to take on the Orlando Solar Bears. 
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Four years ago I stopped by the Everblades training camp for the first time. I had just transferred down to Florida from Connecticut and I was still looking for my place in the universe. I sat alone in the main arena as the players took the ice and I had a moment of well being surround me.
 
I’m not an athlete, I can’t skate to save my life, but hockey is my home. I’ve since decided to work in hockey and have gotten to experience some great moments. Walking into an empty arena with the hum of the air conditioner and the subtle (not subtle at ALL) hockey smell is soothing.
 
As I made my yearly trip to training camp I saw some differences from previous years. This year I wasn’t the only one sitting in the stands. There were Everblades t-shirts and sweaters with little kids trying to peak over the glass. 
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There also weren’t many players on the ice. The AHL training camps over lapped with the ECHL this year. The early days of training camp brought back Everblades favorites and regulars like Mathieu Roy, Matt Marquardt, Trevor Bruess and long time emergency back up Brian Markowicz.
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The ‘Blades affiliates sent reinforcements yesterday. The Kelly Cup squad is reassembling with the additions of David Rutherford, Joe Sova, Matt Beca, Pat Nagle and Bobby Raymond. There are several newcomers for the season including goalie Rob Madore. 
 
So in the spirit of the season here are the three things you should know about tonights game:
1. Which mascot would win in a fight?
It’s Swampee versus a polar bear in sunglasses. While polar bears are ferocious, Swampee is an alligator on ‘roids. I may be biased, but I’m giving this round to Swampee.
John Muse
 
2. Don’t forget the goalies.
It’s easy to talk goals and hits, but don’t forget the goalies. Last years playoff MVP was goaltender John Muse. While his play was superb, so were his idiosyncrasies and routines. Watch the warm up and see what you learn.
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3. Say cheese!
Take pictures. It really is an experience and you never know what gems you’ll produce. You’ll also be able to get up close and personal in Breakaways after the game. Let the guys eat, but they’ll stop by and say hi and take photos. I hear Rutherford had his teeth replaced this summer so he’s ready for the camera.
It should be a good match up with the resurrected Solar Bears. Don’t expect perfection, the preseason is a place of learning and experimentation, but do expect a good game. The Everblades almost always deliver.

So Your Team is Locked Out: Florida Everblades 101

Also known as: Your hockey team is locked out and you desperately need a hockey fix. Unfortunately, you live in South Florida so the Juniors or the AHL are not really options. Also, everyone knows the Solar Bears suck so you decided to back a winner.I know you guys, it sucks more than biting your tongue… after you’ve already bit it twice before. I’ll miss my trips to Sunrise and Tampa more than anything. However, it’s not as though hockey season is a total wash for me (or you). Florida happens to be home to two minor league teams, the Florida Everblades (yay!) and the Orlando Solar Bears (boo!).I might be biased toward the Everblades, my hometown team, but they really are better (and they don’t wear a hideous color like teal). Since I’m going to assume you’ve decided to make the wise decision and back a winner, I’m going to give you all the best tips and tricks you’ll need to be the very best Everblades fan you can be.

First, some important links:
- A quick look at some basic Blades info.
- The team’s website.
- The arena’s website.
- My list of Everblades players (current and former) on Twitter.
- Basic info on the ECHL from Wikipedia.
- More from HockeyDB.
- The Leagues website.

Next, logistical stuff:

- The Arena is located just off of I-75 (so close you can actually see the arena from the Interstate). It’s about a two and a half hour trip from Tampa or Sunrise, and I recommend getting off at exit 123, Corkscrew Road. It’s the quickest and easiest route and reduces the amount of mind-numbingly stupid traffic.

- The arena sits right next to a large outlet mall, and many choose to park there, eat and then walk to the arena. I’m sure some people park there to save themselves the $5 charge for parking too.

- There are plenty of food stands in the arena. The stands are operated by local groups (youth sports teams mostly) that get a cut of the profits from their sales during the night. They sell typical arena food as well as some more unusual fare, wraps, make your own nachos, etc.

- There are plenty of restaurants nearby as well. On top of the restaurants at the nearby outlet, there are also many located in Gulf Coast Town Center and a bit further away at Coconut Point, and several chain and fast food places in between.

- There are also plenty of bars for post-game fun around. Any regular Blades fan under 50 could probably recommend a good place.

- Just like any place in Florida near an Interstate exit, there are tons of hotels nearby so it should be pretty easy to find one.

Also, there are also plenty of touristy things to do if you want make a mini-vacation out of your visit here.

- Ive already mentioned the excellent shopping opportunities so, no need to repeat myself.

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-I recommend Sanibel /Captiva island for the natural beaches, National Park, and low-key atmosphere (there is a toll to get to the island and into the national park). Ft. Myers Beach and Vanderbilt Beach are nice as well, but get a little congested and hard to navigate.

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-If you like a bit of history, you have to check out Koreshan State Park to hear all about the zany cult that used to call Estero home. You can also check out the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in nearby Ft. Myers, and maybe check out the downtown River District while you’re there.

- There’s also other things like manatee tours (or visit the park), fishing charters, kayaking tours, swamp tours, etc (basically all the outdoorsy water related stuff you’d expect down here).

- If you’re coming from the East across Alligator Alley you should check out some of the Seminole Tribes attractions.

- The Red Sox and Twins call Ft. Myers home for spring training (if, god forbid, the lockout lasts that long), and a few other MLB teams are in nearby cities. The Ft. Myers Miracle also play minor league ball at Hammond Stadium.

But enough of that, the real stuff you need to know is how to fit in with your fellow Blades fans, and all the secret tips and tricks, right?

- Obviously, wearing anything blue or green is a safe bet. They will be throwing free Everblades t-shirts into the crowd like any respectable team would. There is one pro shop, located between the recreational rinks and two stands selling team branded merchandise. There is also a table with all the marked down merchandise next to the box office. I’ve picked up some cheap jerseys there.

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- We started throwing plastic alligators on the ice after wins during the playoffs (much like your rats Panthers fans). Lord knows if we will be allowed to keep that tradition up, but the team did start selling gators at their stands, so maybe we will be allowed to keep the tradition as long as the Blades are making a profit.

- There really aren’t any bad sight lines that I know of. Some seats in the middle of the corner rows are weirdly smaller than the others. Club level seating and below have cushioned seats with cup holders. Anything above club level is hard plastic with no cup holder.

- I’ve found all the ushers to be nice and very helpful. They’re pretty good about enforcing arena rules too.

- Along those lines: you are not allowed to pound on the glass, you can not set your drinks on the boards if you’re in the first row, and they are pretty strict about enforcing seating.

- You might want to bring a cowbell (or buy one at the souvenir stands). Yes, we are those kinds of fans, but now you are too.

-  Appropriate moments to ring your cowbell: Killed penalties, powerplays, goals, great saves… you know what? We really just ring those things any time we’re given a reason. Maybe you should take an aspirin before the game.

- Our mascot is Swampee, he’s an oddly muscular alligator. He’s not bad as mascots go and he loves getting his picture taken. Yes, we have ice girls. They’re called the Everbabes. They used to do dance numbers but didn’t last season. No idea if they’re bringing that back or not.

- Puck drop is usually at the time listed. with warm-ups being a half hour before puck drop. You are allowed to be down by the ice during warm-ups. The guys last season were pretty good about tossing pucks to kids once the majority of warm-ups were over.

- I’ve had no issues using my DSLR and 200mm lens in the three years I’ve been taking it to games and I’ve seen video cameras out as well.

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- The following players are considered gods within Germain Arena: Tom Buckly, Reggie Berg, and Ernie Hartlieb. The first two have their numbers retired. Ernie’s will be retired this season. Any Everblade who has made it to the NHL is also pretty well respected.

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- It’s also pretty fair to say that all the players (and the coaches) from the Kelly Cup winning squad are beloved as well. Specifically Brandon MacLean (the player who scored the goal in overtime that won the Blades the cup), John Muse (the MVP and major reason they won), and Mathieu Roy (the team’s captain).

- After goals, the team plays the always classic “Rock and Roll part 2″ by Garry Glitter. We then chant “We’re gonna beat the heck out of you! You! You!”.

- Both the fan club and youth teams raffle off Blades goodies during games. The fan club usually has a signed jersey, stick or photo at their tables. Though they like to mix it up and sometimes and give away really unusual stuff. The youth teams usually have a game worn jersey. They don’t usually appear on weekdays (it is a school night), but are easy to spot on Friday and Saturday games walking the concourse with a parent and a sign. The raffle tickets are drawn at the end of the second and announced during the third.

- Like any good fan base we do not like our division rivals, and games against them (especially Greenville and Gwinnet) can get pretty rough (and rowdy). The Orlando Solar Bears are new, but I’m sure they’ll be just as hated, if not more so.

- The Greenville Road Warriors, Elmira Jackals, and Kalamazoo Wings will all have an axe to grind after being destroyed by the Blades in the playoffs (they were undefeated at home during the playoffs, by the way). They swept the Road Warriors, and beat both Elmira and Kalamazoo 4-1. Needless to say, they’ll come to town with something to prove.

- After the games be sure to head up to Breakaways, the restaurant in the arena (you can also sit up there during games, but you have to reserve those ahead of time). You take the elevator across from the pro shop to get there. You can meet the players and get autographs there. It’s also open before games, but they won’t sit you if it’s close to game time.

- The players do get a post-game meal up there too. Don’t be the jerk that interrupts them when they’re eating. Just don’t. They always make time to talk to fans so you will get your chance.

- I believe there’s also an open skate held on one of the recreational rinks after games, so if that’s your thing, there you go.

That’s all the important stuff I could think of, but I’m sure I’ve missed something. If you have any questions you can shoot me an email at SwampHockey@gmail.com or find me here on Twitter.

Also, please leave any of your tips in the comments Blades fans.


News and Notes

Why don’t we just jump into it, eh?-  The team announced their protected list. As usual, it takes four or five reads through to figure out the rules behind these things.- The Lee County Board of Commissioners recognized the Everbladesat a recent meeting.- The Everblades renewed their affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning. We will have a new AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, due to the Bolts choosing not to continue their affiliation with the Norfolk Admirals.

- We had our first player sign overseas. Mike Ratchuck is off to play in the Austrian hockey league with the Slovenian team Olimpija Ljubljana.

- The ECHL gave the Blades an award for ticket department of the year. Yay!

- On top of the Bolt’s vs. Canes preseason game in Orlando, the Panthers and Bolts will be playing a preseason game… at Germain! I’m ridiculously excited about this.

Hopefully, the team starts announcing signing soon. Things are going to get a little boring around here if they don’t.


Thank You (pt. 2)

Here’s the second half of the roster and why they rock. Once again, we’re going in alphabetical order.

Pat Nagle

Pat Nagle It’s pretty unfair that you’re not receiving credit for keeping us in the playoffs. You had two shutouts in the playoffs! Two! Any other goalie might not be able to handle the position you were put into, but you handled it with grace. You’re also extremely photogenic, and I appreciate that.

Sebastien Piche

Sebatien Piche- I don’t think Lightning fans realize how lucky they are to have acquired you in a trade, but they will. If Bruess is a Scud missile you’re undoubtedly an anti-tank missile. I almost felt bad for the guys you laid big hits on. Almost.

Scott Pitt

Scott Pitt-You were one of the best rookies in the league this season. Frankly, you’re just fun to watch. I honestly don’t expect to see you here next season, there are plenty of AHL teams that need a player like you.

Kevin Quick

Kevin Quick- You really showed up in the playoffs didn’t you. It was almost like watching a totally different player. Also, I heard you’re an animal person and that’s an automatic plus with me.

Mike Ratchuck

Mike Ratchuk- It’s safe to say you were the best trade acquisition this season. I’m completely convinced that you have rockets instead of feet. It was always exciting to see you flip on the afterburners and leave the opposing players dazed in your wake. Please don’t leave the Blades for the Komets.

Bobby Raymond

Bobby Raymond- I don’t think I’ve hidden the fact that you’ve been my favorite skater for the last two seasons. To quote one of the fan club ladies “It’s just fun to watch him skate”. You’re another guy I don’t expect to see back next season. You definitely deserve an AHL contract.

Mathieu Roy

Mathieu Roy- There’s a reason you were the first Blades captain to win us a Kelly Cup. Don’t ever change and don’t ever leave.

David Rutherford

David Rutherford- There’s a reason you’ve won so many championships, and it’s because you never quit and you won’t let anyone else quit. You look really good in green and navy dude. Just saying.

Leigh Salters

Leigh Salters- I always felt kind of bad for any guy dumb enough to fight you or any goalie on the losing end of your screens. You were definitely a fan favorite for a reason.

Justin Shugg

Justin Shugg- You were only down here because you were on the losing end of the numbers game, and I’m grateful for that. You certainly deserve the nickname Shuggernaut. I can’t wait to hear about you tearing up the AHL next season.

Joe Sova

Joe Sova- I feel bad that I didn’t get to see you play that much. I liked what little I saw though, so there’s that. I really doubt we’ll see you in a Blades jersey next season.

That’s it till the usual Tuesday post and of course the party the team is throwing from 5-11! If they run out of championship gear by the time you get there it’s all my fault (or yours for getting there so late).


Thank You (pt. 1)

 As I promised Yesterday, here’s the first half of the roster and why they rock. For simplicity, we’re going in alphabetical order.

Matt Beca

Matt Beca- 72 assists this season, including the assist that led to the cup clinching goal. Team leader in points during the regular season. Holy shit dude. That’s impressive.

Trevor Bruess

Trevor Bruess- You’re a heat seeking SCUD missile on skates. I’ve now developed that habit of going “Oooooh, you’ve been Bruessed!” anytime I see a big hit in hockey. Please keep the mohawk.

Ryan Donald

Ryan Donald- I always breathed a sigh of relief when you hit the ice. Nothing shady ever went down on your watch and for that, I’m grateful. I don’t think any beard will ever compare to yours. 

David Fischer

David Fischer- Sweet mother Mary you can move the puck, can’t you? I’m still not sure why you haven’t been given more of a chance at the AHL level. What a bunch of idiots they are. Stay strong dude.

Rylan Galiardi

Rylan Galiardi- I have to start out by apologizing for spelling your name wrong for half the season. I’ve never experienced such a long brain fart. My bad. You’re the type of guy I love seeing on a hockey team I cheer for. Nothing flashy, just good hockey.

Brayden Irwin

Brayden Irwin- I’m completely mystified by your ability to be in just the right spot at just the right moment. It’s freaky. Also, holy shit was my initial dislike off base. Like so far off base I was in another solar system. For that I’m sorry, I’m a total jerk.

Charles Landry

Charles Landry- You play with so much determination. I hope you never lose that drive. It’s something special. I’ll always fondly remember how many photos of you making weird faces during games I had to delete.

Brandon MacLean

Brandon MacLean- You’re not capable of giving anything less than 200% are you? You definitely earned that game winner. You never slacked off or quit. If you don’t come back and play a full season as a Blades it better be because you got an AHL deal.

Matt Marquardt

Matt Marquardt- The best way to describe you is quietly productive. Also, you’re a pretty big dude and man could you lay hits when you decided to. I’m still not sure how I managed to spell your name correctly all the time and not Rylan Galiardi’s.

Ryan McGinnis


Ryan McGinnis- I can’t tell you how good it was to see you return to the Blades. You’re entirely underestimated in your ability to move the puck. Ryan Weston will never leave my shit list thanks to that terrible hit. Get well soon.

Cedric McNicoll

Cedric McNicoll- After how well you played last season, I was shocked you were sent down. The Checkers stupidity was our gain obviously Mr. Playoff Points Leader. I find it very hard to believe you’ll be enjoy the sand and sun next season.

John Muse

John Muse- You’re proof that the drafting system doesn’t work. Blades fans have waited 14 years for a goalie like you and I think I speak for everyone when I say we feel lucky to have seen you play. If you don’t receive a two way NHL contract for next season something is wrong with the universe.

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the list!


What is There Left to Say?

I’ve struggled with what exactly I want to say about everything that’s happened. Patially, it’s because this writing thing has never been my gift. I’m certainly more comfortable behind a camera or spreading the Blades gospel on social media. Partially it’s also because, as harsh as it is to say, I certainly didn’t imagine this would be the season that the Everblades would win the Kelly Cup.

I know! Bad blogger, bad, bad blogger.

Now, I hoped and believed, because I can’t help but be overly optimistic about the things I love. I felt something similar to what I felt about the Penguins in 2009 while they were going through all their various trials and tribulations. That  feeling that there was maybe something special about to happen. Something was hovering just on the horizon.

But, in the logical part of my brain I was always prepared for another letdown. Another goal just over the goalies shoulder in OT (I’m still pissed about your positioning on that Leggio), another loss of heart and will at the worst possible moment.

It never happened though, and I think that’s why I’m still a bit stunned.

We had a group of players that were always overlooked (I’m still not entirely sure how you do that with so many awards the players had under their collective belts, but it happened).

Sure, we loved them and believed in them, because that’s what we do as fans, but no one else seemed to.

Maybe that’s what makes this victory so sweet. No one else truly believed as much as we all did in our hearts.

Think about it.

The Greenville fans were so sure that their squad, one of the best in the regular season was going to steamroll over our boys. That didn’t happen.

Elmira fans were sure to tell us about knocking us out in the playoffs before and that history was sure to repeat itself. That didn’t happen.

After one win Kalamazoo fans were already planning trips to Vegas or Alaska because their squad was obviously going to triumph. That didn’t happen.

Then Vegas came along. Talking trash about swamp people and their town and their team. Their fabulous forward that lead the league all season. Their amazing unstoppable goalie, the ECHL. They won their first game and they started planning parades. That didn’t happen.

Instead, something else happened.

A squad no one really noticed. A squad that was perpetually underestimated.

They won the Kelly Cup.

When you really look, it makes sense. I can’t recall ever seeing a team that seemed to be so committed to each other and their mission. I can’t recall ever seeing a team with so much heart.

I guess I really shouldn’t have been surprised. We saw the spark so many times during the season. No matter how many injuries and roster shuffling, the players always managed to keep their hearts in it.

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I don’t think anyone deserved it more than them. No one.

It feels good. It feels really good. I don’t know if there are really any words to really summarize everything. There may never be just the right words. I’m happy. Happy for the players, and all the people who work for the team, happy for the fans that have been going to games for years, and happy for the new fans who have discovered something pretty great.

I’m just plain happy.

Be sure to check back tomorrow and Sunday. I’m going to split the roster in half and go in depth into why, exactly, the dude rocks.


Kelly Cup Champions!

14 years of waiting and it feels good guys. It feels real good.
More in the, uh… whenever I manage to drag myself out of bed.
Let’s Go Blades!

Update: Everything is up. You can find videos on the blogs YouTube channel of the post game celebrations, John Muse winning the MVP award and the players lifting the Kelly Cup.

The photos from the game are up on Flickr

If you missed Tuesday’s set, you can click here to see those.

I’m now going to try to write up a post to summarize everything. No idea how that’s going to work.


Eastern Conference Champions!

I don’t think I can put this into words that can explain just how amazing this really is. It’s been 7 years of almosts and heartbreaks. 7 years of never being quite good enough. Of never finding that special something.

There were times when maybe we wondered if the Blades would miss the playoffs totally. The players didn’t give up though. Look at them now.

They did it. After a hundred or so games, the Everblades are returning to the Kelly Cup Final and it feels good. We have a week to celebrate. A week to be proud of everything the players have accomplished this season.

Then we all get back to business.

The Wranglers are waiting in Sin City and we can’t disappoint.


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