New to this year's game was the inclusion on a live episode of the Hockey Hot Stove with Dan, Randy, Jamie and Drew. They usually do these every week or so during the regular season and post them up on the Sharks website for all to see. I guess they decided to start them earlier this year, falling in line with the Sharks compressed preseason schedule.
The crowd lit up when Dan's face was shown on the big screen. The cheers for the broadcasters were so loud, you'd think they were all players themselves. We love our broadcasters here. As per usual, Drew made a couple of jokes that fell so flat you could hear a pin drop in the Tank, while Jamie Baker kept giving him crap for having no hair. Drew can be hilarious but sometimes his comedic timing is off.
After they're little warm up show, the players came out onto the ice and were introduced. The old guard was of course welcomed back warmly, with the new guys receiving polite cheers or slightly louder ones if they were known from last season in Woostah. We made sure Kent Huskins got a loud cheer when his name was mentioned. He'd do the same for us, you know. That's the type of guy he is.
I had already resolved to root for which ever team Not Kyle was on, and as it turns out, he was the same team as Huskins, which made honoring out new Patron Saint easier. They, along with Big Joe, Seto, "Maven*" and Wingels (WINGELS!), Nitty and Our Stalock, who art in net, were on Team Teal. Joe, Boyle, Murray, Prince Juicy Busty Teeth to the EXTREME, Greiss and Niemi were on Team White.
Now we've been to a few of these and the scrimmage itself isn't always that amazing. The guys usually play a little slower, a little lighter and there are few, if any, hits. This night was different. There were bodies flying around left and right, hits and checks that reverberated through the stands, so hard was their impact. Jay Leach nearly tore of Tommy Wingles' head when he landed a bad hit on Couture.Tonight everyone was playing for keeps.
Niemi let in the first goal of the night, sending Teal up 1-0. Jokes about Joe finally being able to score on him were heard immediately there after. Nitty kept the shut out going though 30 minutes and generally looked pretty good. Next up came Greiss in the net for white and Stalock for Teal. It was at this point when you could literally see Greiss' internal breakdown begin. He let in the lone goal, early on in the second half, and proceeded to have to watch Stalock put on an amazing save clinic down at the far end of the ice. You could just hear his little heart breaking as he realized his chances to be a starter this year were swirling further down the drain right in front of him. (He'd looked a little upset all night. We guessed this was why. That or he had gas) In all seriousness though, I can't wait for Stalock to be NHL ready because that kid is AMAZING. He looks a lot better than last preseason and he looked pretty damn good then too.
They actually called penalties too, which is hilarious, although those were handled by allowing each team to have 7 PP minutes at the end of each half. Team Teal Looked great. Team White looked horrible. It was pretty funny. Usually at the conclusion of the scrimmage, raffle winners are called down to the ice to get a picture with, and a jersey from, their favorite players. That didn't happen this year though, as jerseys were handed out to winners during the break between halves. Team White sat forlornly on the bench and watch Teal celebrate their win. There was an attempt at going out and rising sticks to salute the fans after the game, but only a few guys from Teal actually seemed to realize was was going on and joined in. After that, we all got up, headed towards the parking lot, and revealed in the joy of a soon to be returning hockey season.
*Maven is the nickname given to new Shark Jamal Mayers by Mina and her brother. He has bushy eyebrows. I am told it's a wrestling reference.