Kisker: Top 5 Things I Learned Last Night
1. Who won?
So the top thing I learned yesterday is that J.P. Burkemper and Matt Bergland are really, really fast. The two competed in the Bulletproof Skills and Drills Fastest Skater event and set the tone for the night. Acting as an auxiliary judge for this particular competition along with Head Equipment Manager Corby Antropik, I kept an eye on the two skaters as they zipped around the ice (really should have had the radar guns on them!) and when the two crossed the finish line, to open up the competition, my worst fears had come true. These guys crossed at about the same time. What that means is we have two guys that can straight up wheel, however, what that did mean is that acting official Coach Kromm and his auxiliary judges had a decision to make.
It’s funny, just weeks ago on February 9th, Coach Kromm was so upset at an official who made a bad call and then didn’t explain to him why he made the call he did, and here, in the Skills Competition, he was going to have to do the same thing to his players.
So Coach comes over to Corby and I and asks us what we think. My gut was Bergland by a nose; however it was an astute observation by Corby that Bergland had one foot on the line, while Burkemper was behind the line. In the end, Coach ended up giving the decision to Bergland and the Team Hunt bench was elated to open up the competition with a win. Team Constant however claimed foul due to the “head start” of about two feet that Bergland received. You be the judge!
2. Good to See Ryan Hayes back on the ice.
While he isn’t quite ready to play in a game today, he is nearing a return and he put on a great show in the accuracy shooting competition where he hit all four targets in 15.21 seconds. He had four corners to shoot for and it took him no time at all.
So I was thinking, ok, so everyone else should hit around the same time, maybe a little longer, but Ben Rosen hit his in 23.2, Garet Hunt in 20.69, Sean Escobedo in 47.5 (with some help from his glove hand for the last one) and Adam Brace in 20.5 seconds. James Henry got closest to Hayes’ time but it did take him a full second longer.
Then we got to the final round, with Garet Hunt sending out Hayes again to shoot. What does he do? Only shaves off 4 seconds of his time for a 11.1 final time. Not to be outdone though Ryan Constant chose to send out Brace for his second attempt. Brace shaved off 10 seconds from his original time as he ended up with a 10.75 time.
Wow, that was incredible. We have some really talented shooters who can really pick corners, and just the image in my head right now of a Hayes – Trivino – Brace line is giving me goosebumps. Hurry back Ryan, we need to see a few more pictures like the one to the right… #celly!
3. We also have some guys who can BOMB
This team has speed, it has your finesse guys that can throw some sick sauce or fire them top shelf (where mama hides those cookies), and it also has some that can just out power you. The hardest shot competition featured a couple of those guys who can rocket a puck past any suspecting or unsuspecting goaltender.
First up was Lee Baldwin who set the tone with a 91 mph slapper for Team Hunt, but that was matched by Mike Keenan’s 91 mph shot for Team Constant. The funny thing is that Keenan wasn’t even supposed to be in that competition as Michal Spacek was supposed to shoot but missed the competition due to a minor bump. It was a good thing Constant choose Keenan as it ended up being a great performance by the defenseman, however, both Keenan and Baldwin would not be the fastest shooters.
My prediction before the event after watching a bit of the team practice and then hearing some of the locker room chatter was that Baldwin was the man to beat. My own personal thought was that Landon Oslanski would win the competition, which he did not, however, he did shoot a 90 mph clapper.
So who on the team right now do you think would win? Go on…I’ll wait…think really hard and I bet you won’t guess.
Mitch Bruijsten. I don’t know what they do with the boys in Nijmegen, Netherlands but Bruijsten fired off a 93 mph slap shot. I don’t see an awful lot of times during the course of a game that Bruijsten unloads like that, and I was actually surprised that a guy who’s got some really soft hands could just destroy a puck at such a blazing speed. I do believe that shot could have been bested by Mike Dalhuisen if he were still on the team, but credit his good friend winning the competition for the Dutch.
While this next thought combines two competitions, I know that Mathieu Gagnon was disappointed in his hardest shot reading as he only clocked an 82 mph shot (not the lowest score though). However, it would be Gagnon who was the only Team Hunt player to score in the shootout competition on, guess what, a slap shot from the top of the circles past Parker Milner. Reminded me of the good ol’ Brian Rolston days!
When we got off the ice and back into the locker room, I sat briefly at the stall of Michal Spacek next to Gagnon and he was still upset about his time. I told him that the bright side was that he scored the only goal that Milner allowed in the shootout, on a slapper and he began to look a little more positive. He also won too so not a huge worry anyways!
4. Kids can Hit
So I was on the ice and on skates for the competition as Corby and I were basically glorified puck pushers, just preparing the drills and putting pucks and cones where they needed to go. Now I’ve played hockey since I was 3-years-old, so I can skate and for the record, on our test run, I beat Corby in the fastest staff member minus Coach competition.
All everyone told me yesterday was to not fall. I did a great job of that up until the shootout competition featuring the Stockton Colts. I stood in the corner to get position on the goal to see when a puck would cross the line. It’d be squirt Wes Turner’s turn to shoot for Team Constant. The young man came down and was stoned by Stockton Colts goaltender Haden Kraft. As I signaled for no goal Turner turned into where my position was.
His head was still turned facing the goalie to make sure that his puck didn’t somehow sneak by Kraft and as he turned his head, he connected with me. I tried grabbing him and holding on so that neither of us hit the ice, but he had speed and body position, and I’ll admit, he crushed me. It was a straight up Brian Campbell hit that left me as dazed and confused as RJ Umberger (not really, but I’m adding it for dramatic effect so he can tell all his buddies).
No injuries were had but Turner did hit me and did cause me to fall. The funny part was Turner popped right up and looked a bit panicked and asked if I was ok, to which I replied I was. I gave him a pat on the back, said good hit, got up and resumed my duty.
5. The Future of the Stockton Thunder Looks Bright
No, I’m not talking about this season (which looks pretty bright anyways but I digress), and I’m not talking about the next five seasons. I’m talking about the distant future looks great! I was very impressed with the quality that the Stockton Colts players exhibited yesterday. I was impressed with Team Constant Pee-Wee Clayton Scott and Team Hunt Midget Christian Ibarra who won in the fastest skater competition for their respective teams.
While I thought Team Hunt’s Squirt Karly Garcia and Bantam Brook Bryant, along with Team Constant Bantam Leo Montes de Oca (winner for best name by the way) were very impressive in the accuracy shooting, hard to argue with the performance by the young man who took me down, Team Constant’s Wes Turner, who hit all four targets in 41.8 seconds, beating Sean Escobedo’s “helped” time by about 6 seconds.
During the stick handling relay race, all of the Colts on either side competed hard and a close race ended up going to Team Constant’s team of Bobby Bird, Turner, Scott, Montes de Oca, and Nick Peterson.
How about a 74 mph clapper coming from Peterson? That was pretty sweet! I was actually really impressed by all of the times as Brook Bryant hit a 60 mph shot, Christian Ibarra a 64 mph shot, and Leo Montes de Oca hit a 63 mph shot. That’s some great power by players so young!
Then in the shootout, it would be Team Hunt’s Pee-Wee Alexander Gunnoe and Bantum Brook Bryant who were just one of four players TOTAL to score in the shootout. Also important to note that it was Bryant’s goal that proved to be the game winner with Gagnon scoring the insurance tally in the next round.
Now some of you may know how important youth hockey is to me. While I was a broadcast intern with the Tampa Bay Lightning, I also helped out and then worked with the Community Hockey department. Growing our sport is the most important thing to me. I love sharing my passion for our sport to those that will eventually be doing the same thing when they are older, whether they play for the Thunder, Sound Tigers, or Islanders, they work for a pro or junior hockey team, or they simply coach their future sons and daughters for a simple house league.
The future of the game lies in their hands, not ours. I was so excited to see the kids out on the ice and see the talent that we have right here in Stockton. I said this when I was in Florida, and now that I’m in California I’m going to say it again.
We have some great talent in California. Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Michigan better watch out!
You can check out the competition highlights below!
Jersey of the Day
Why not feature a jersey that was a big part of California hockey for the current generation of guys and gals that are running the show. The Oakland/California Golden Seals are way before my time, but I’m a bit old school when it comes to my true favorite jerseys. I love the simplicity of the designs in the 1970’s just as much as I love the crazy, wild ideas that came in the 1990’s!
The Seals have had a number of cool jerseys but their last jerseys before they ceased to exist were great because of the color. Teal isn’t used often, I mean, the Sharks use it, but they use a darker shade of it than this beautiful beast!
This particular shade to me is so 1970’s/1980’s that I’m near positive my mom had a sweat suit (yes sweat suit) the exact same color. Love these old Seals jerseys and I hear if you want to chat about the Seals, the man to talk to is one of our off ice officials, Len Shapiro. One thing is certain, this is a jersey that I must add to my collection at some point in time!