Four Days On The Road and Lovin’ It!

What’s better than a little hockey roadtrip, 3 games in four days. You’re right, it ranks right up there and keeps creeping up the bucket list. You might say how does something like this make anybody’s bucket list. Well it does if you are travelling with your son and watching your grandson play in the top junior hockey league in the world, the OHL.

All the dog sitting arrangements were made (thanks Wendy) and the sandwiches and drinks packed in the cooler. I told Colleen Rob would be there at 7:30 AM and I best be ready. Well t 7:20 AM sharp he arrived in the driveway, well I was primed and actually ready. So it was off on the 8 hour drive to Saginaw. As usual, it was a fourth roadie this season, the time flew by and before you knew it we were going through customs on the Bluewater bridge in Sarnia. Checked into our suite at the Knights Inn and immediately got our phones, tablets and laptops to ensure we had good wireless internet access, the lifeblood of these sojourns. And we did, a choice of three relatively strong signals, the boys were happy.

At 5:30 we made our way down to the Dow Event Centre, only a short 5 minute drive away. It has been our habit since discovery the event, the BlueLine Club, where either Leigh or Don interviews the head coach, Greg Gilbert, in front of a couple hungry for news Spirit faithful. Last night it was colour guy Dom Papa on the mic with coach Greg Gilbert. The whole trip was made worthwhile (without even seeing a game) when Dom asked Greg about the impact on his team with Jake Patterson going to the Team Canada camp and Vinnie Trocheck going to the American counterpart. Greg replied with “ those two, along with losing Brandon Prophet to the World Under 17 tournament, would be a blow to the team, but a the same time, a real feather in the cap for the Saginaw team. I see why he is the reigning  OHL coach of the year.

Of course hockey is the rationale for the trips and the game began at 7:11 PM. Of course 7-11 is a corporate sponsor! Once again , as a starter Brandon got the official introduction and made his entrance thru the Eagle entrance. And then we got to see perhaps the biggest compliment to his playing. I have to preface by first stating he did receive quite aa compliment last Saturday, when the Spirit began running way from the hapless Ottawa 67s, the coach opted to rest him. Not bad eh?

Back to last night…. Brandon and Dalton Young started the game while Sarnia had their big guns on upfront. Now their top line is pretty imposing, Boucher (21-13-34), Sarault (10-34-44) and the 3rd overall NHL draft choice, 6’2” 204 lb Alex Galchenyuk (21-30-51). The impressive happening began when after the puck drop and dump in, Sarnia’s big line went to their bench. So did Brandon and Dalton. When the ply stopped the Sting big three came out, and so did Brandon and Dalton. And it went that way the rest of the period. When the potent Sting line was on the ice, coach Gilbert matched that with his pair of Prophet and Young. Very heartwarming to see.

All good things must come to an end,Grant Weberman, Spirit D man , was hit on the head, and retired from the game. The ensuing pairs juggling destroyed the matchup plans. In the first period the Spirit were all over division leading Sarnia and outshot them 29 – 8, only to be on the short end of a 1 – 0 score. @#$%^&*()

The Spirit fared no better and finished the 2nd period down 2 – 0. Brandon took a penalty in that period and continued with some good checks. The Spirit failed to score on a couple of breakaways and had several PP opportunities, all to no avail.

The trend continued in the third, to the point where Gilbert pulled Patterson with a little over a minute to go. # 83 (Brandon) was out there for the extra man advantage situation. His night came to a crashing end in the last minute when he checked Galchenyuk pretty heavily into the boards in front of the Sting bench. In the process Galchenyuk’s stick struck Brandon in the face with more than just a glancing blow. Actually it was pretty solid.

After the game, we had a good visit with the billets and teammate Brandon Lindberg, as we had to wait for Brandon to get a few teeth straightened out and another 6 stitches. But he came out of the dressing room smiling and talking. He had to sign a few autographs before we got to spend some time with him. In fact, due to the curfew (and stitches) he couldn’t come to supper with us, so we drove him back to the billets before searching out a good spot for a late night munchies. Actually no searching involved, we knew exactly where Buffalo Wild Wings was.

And there we did go, the Thursday night football crowd was starting to spill out, and we were able to squeeze in at the bar rather than a lengthy wait for a table. And our timing was perfect, not only were the wings on sale but the “Tall Boys” were a dollar off! Heaven in Michigan.

Back to the Knights Inn for a little surfing and a rest before heading to Plymouth today for the Spirit game there. God Bless America!

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