Friday's summary: drive to Swonder Arena (that took forever!) in Evansville, watch the Icemen home opener! (an unfortunately loss), chat with Will and his parents, drive home (all with 3 freshman boys).
This weekend was one of the quickest, busiest, most fun weekends in a while (besides my sister's visit earlier this year, and at least since the racing season ended, that is). I had the chance to go to the Evansville Icemen's home opener on Friday night and then to their next game on Saturday night. This got long, so I only recapped Friday here.
I had planned to go for sure on Saturday but was still debating about Friday. Then I decided to go and called my cousin Luke to see if he wanted to join me and invite a couple friends (Luke knows Will through D1, and I figured he'd enjoy the trip). He said yes, so Luke, Abe, Morgan, and I headed out toward Evansville at 4pm on Friday afternoon (game time: 8pm; projected drive time: 2.5-2.75 hours). I knew it would be a fun trip when Renee said, "You're a brave woman [for taking 3 freshman boys on this long of a trip]." We stopped for supper about half an hour from Nashville and hit the road after about 30 minutes, only to make it approximately 30 more minutes before we sat on the highway, car off, for 26 minutes. Then we slowly started moving.
The GPS estimates my arrival time, and it kept saying we would arrive around 7:30. So even with the two stops, I figured we'd be OK. Then I missed an exit. Ugh. I had the sound off and was listening to the boys and not paying attention. Stupid mistake! (I turned the sound up after that!) It rerouted me (once down a dead end road) and I flew the rest of the way; I absolutely DID NOT want to miss the game! But thinking back to our sitting on the highway, I thank God that we stopped to eat when we did, because who knows but that we would have been closer to the accident (which I noticed later had been a car or bus fire) and perhaps involved. God is good, especially when we have our plans that might not be working as we'd hoped.
We finally arrived at the arena at 7:59 (no thanks to the rain slowing me down!) and went to get our tickets, which Will said would be at the front. This is the first season for the Icemen, and this was their first game and their home opener. They were playing the Chi-Town Shooters. The attendance was 1,212 (which they said was a record. No kidding.) and the crowd was intense!
No tickets! His parents were there, and I knew that they'd picked them up and gone in, but I didn't know how I was going to get in to find them and tell them that they had our tickets! So we walked in, and a staffer and his wife gave us 4 tickets. Thanks! I found Bill and Nancy, we sat down, and they dropped the puck. We made it there for the opening faceoff, which Will was a part of (he took most of the faceoffs when he was in the game, which was often; if I had to guess, I'd say he had the most ice time besides the goalie and perhaps Warren; but then again, they're probably the two best players on the team and the captains).
I still am learning about hockey, but this game was one of the most exciting games I've been to (granted it was only game #3). There were so many fights. Everyone was intense, hitting, and playing hard. It wasn't hard to tell, however, that the Icemen weren't playing too well as a team. Warren is the captain, and Will the assistant captain, and it was interesting to watch them try to lead the team and play their best on the ice. I'd never seen either of them skate and had only met Warren once before, but I know Will and how he aims to be the best at everything he does. So to see him out there with teammates who just weren't trying (analyst Luke said he could tell which of the guys were trying and which were just out there; it was evident especially when one, Will for example, would skate toward and with the puck, and then another would look behind him to see where the defender was and try only to keep the defender away, not to handle the puck and aim for the goal.
The refereeing left a lot to be desired. To us, the ref looked like he was 12 and the line judges looked lost; they kept getting in the way of the skaters and the puck. The refs at Preds games sometimes were in the line of play, but they always jumped out of the way or jumped up on the wall to let the puck pass. These guys just didn't have a clue. They called tons of penalties (although only 1 during the first period), but they let the Shooters argue nearly every call. Nancy said they should have just taken control and either T-ed them up or ejected them. Plus they didn't really know all the rules, which Warren told us after. He said that he had to chat with them after nearly every penalty just to see what they were doing.
After a while (maybe mid-way through the 2nd period? I really wish I knew how to keep stats for hockey, because I would really enjoy that and would know more about what was going on), a fight broke out between Will and the biggest guy on the Shooters. Will did something and they thought they were just going to shove a little, but the guy threw off his own gear and lit into Will. Will quickly threw off his gear and took the guy on. Will was in complete control; he pulled the guys jersey completely off and "pwned him," in Luke's words. At that point, out of the 12 men on the ice, 9 were involved in some sort of fight (this might have been the point when 2 guys were onto Will). The refs were watching maybe 2 of the fights, and weren't even paying attention anywhere else, where someone had a guy on the ground for almost 2 minutes (if I understand the rules correctly, as soon as someone is on the ground the refs are supposed to step in), and the goalie was even getting into it!
At the end, 5 Shooters were in their penalty box, and 5 Icemen were in their penalty box. Will got 2 minutes and 5 minutes, so be served consecutively. Warren and his goalie were the only 2 Icemen who could stay on the ice; 3 new guys had to be brought on.
Will's 2 minutes were counting down on the score board. When that was up, he left the box. I the novice thought it was because someone was serving the rest of his penalty for him (I know that there are certain situations where you can do that, but I don't know what they are), but he said later that he just left to see what the refs would do. They did nothing, had no idea, and he was back on the ice within a minute! From our perspective, he and Warren pretty much carried the offense (and Warren is a defenseman!). Both of them ended with 1 point, an assist for each.
After those major fights, there was even more drama. At the end of the second period, Warren carried the puck all the way down the ice, shot it, scored, and then got hooked. We all saw the goal, but then we looked at him and he was on ground; almost everyone missed the hooking and thought he had hit the wall. Unfortunately, they immediately announced that the goal didn't count and that there was still time remaining in the period. But the guys started heading down to their locker rooms and we were left wondering. One of the volunteers came up to where I was sitting and explained that the refs had called a delayed penalty; therefore, the goal didn't count. There's NO WAY it could have been a delayed penalty; when they make that call against the Shooters, as soon as the Icemen get control of the puck, the whistle should blow, time should stop, and there should be a faceoff and a power play. Obviously Warren had control of the puck if he carried it all the way down the ice. They ended up calling only the hooking penalty, so at least the Icemen started out the third period on the power play. It seemed that the teams were evenly matched when we were on the power play.
The refs made two other mistakes: they took two goals away from Will. One he shot in--we all saw it go in--and it hit the top pad and bounced out. The refs didn't count it a goal because they said it didn't make any noise. Obviously it didn't, because it hit a pad and didn't hit the post! The other one he shot and the goalie kicked it in, but then it came out again and the refs missed it. If they had given us the 3 goals that Will and Warren scored, the Icemen would have won 6-5, but they ended up down 3-5. All in all an exciting game!
We waited around for Will to come out after the game; it was great to see him and his parents, and his dad spent a few minutes talking to the boys. They loved him and Will and said as we drove home that Bill's blessing really made them feel good and that they felt like they'd known them forever even though they'd just met them. The Roberts are such a loving family. When I left, Nancy gave me a hug and said she loved me. That made me feel so good. Bill took a picture of the 5 of us, and hopefully I get that and be able to post it.
(Will is seriously like my brother, which I think is why I like his family so much. My sister always came to my softball games in college to cheer me on. I don't know if Will knows, but that's kind of what I feel like when I watch his games: like his sister cheering for him. The wonderful thing is that Will is my brother in the Lord; I know that when we die, I'll see him in heaven because he and I both believe that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us for our sins. We are now joint heirs with Christ and adopted children of the Father!)
The drive home was way faster than the drive there, but I didn't get home until after 2:30. I slept from 3-5:30 and 6-7 and then got up, made cookies, had breakfast at the office here, did a little reading, and then waited for Allison.