Pens Prospect Camp

Posted in Uncategorized on August 2, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well about a week has gone by since I returned from Pittsburgh and their summer development camp so I thought I would share what all went on during my time there.

The week was all about getting to know the other Penguins prospects that were assembled, 26 of us in all, as well as the coaches, trainers and other staff that work with the Penguins.  That along with a lot of hard work made for a fun week.  We all stayed at the Marriott in Pittsburgh, my roommate was big Eric Tangradi who garnered a lot of attention throughout the week from the media and fans.  We started off with a meeting the first night with the coaches and learned about the Penguins organization, what was ahead for us in the week, and got to know a little bit about everyone who was there.  The next morning we took part in the fitness testing portion of the camp, everything from physicals to fat testing, pullups to the windgate test.  The windgate was definitey the hardest part, and my first time doing it so I wasn’t overly happy with my result but now I know for next time.  Then we went over to the practice rink for the first ice session of the week.  Todd Reirdon, head coach of Wilkes Barre ran us through the on-ice drills all week, and each day was a little different focus, offense, defense and transition were topics that were touched on throughout the week.  We had 4 days of workouts in the mornings and practice in the afternoons which left everyone pretty tired by the end of the day.  However, it wasn’t all hard work as their were some fun events sprinkled in during the week.  We were able to take in a Pirates game from the luxury of a suite which was fun, great ballpark, bad team.  We also took part in a scavenger hunt around Pittsburgh trying to get us to learn about the city, my team unfortunately took last place but it was still fun.  And finally we went paintballing which was a highlight of the week.  The terrain was pretty difficult as it had rained earlier that day and we did lose one of the scouts to a shoulder injury but all in all it was a good time, lots of welts and laughs had during that day.  The week concluded with a scrimmage, well attended by some pretty diehard fans who were out craving their hockey in the summer months.  For me, as well as the other players I think, the best part of the week was just being able to get to know all the other players.  These are guys that most likely will be our teammates at some point in the next few years so to meet them now and get to know who they are will definitely help out when we all get back together again in September and down the road.  It was a good mix of pro, junior and college players.  There were more than a few conversations between the hockey east boys from BU, BC, and NU throughout the week over the various games we have played against each other.

From there it was back home for one more month of training and getting ready for training camp.  Summer has been flying by and it’s hard to believe one month from now the rookie tournament will be about to get underway in Kitchener.  Can’t wait for the games to begin!

Cup Journey Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well as alerted to me by my wonderful Aunty Gwen at a recent family gathering my “tomorrow” has turned into a few weeks so I’m back after a trip to boston, some family time and getting back into the rigors of training to finish my Stanley Cup story. 

After round 2 versus the Caps it was on to face Carolina.  I was watching game 7 of Boston Carolina with great interest as I wanted to make a return trip back to Boston and watch us play in the Garden, the scene of some not so memorable games for NU hockey but nonetheless would have been fun to go back.  As it turned out it was the Hurricanes that we would need to get past in order to play for the Cup.  My favorite part of being able to follow the team along with just being  a part of the Stanley Cup journey was going to the different rinks.  The “rock the red” in Washington was impressive, and Carolina was probably an even louder building which made for a great atmosphere.  I’ll talk more about Detroit later but I was a little disappointed in Games 1 and 2 at the lack of enthousiasm that seemed to be there, but they ramped it up for Game 5 and 7.  The Carolina series was over quickly and one of the things I took away from that series was that the guys were happy to have won the Eastern Conference and they enjoyed it in the dressing room but after that the focus was turned squarely on the Cup and unfinished business.

I know that there were a lot of Red Wings fans among the extra guys as they played the Blackhawks in the Western Final, we wanted to get on with the Cup.  The Wings did their part and we were able to start the Final relatively quickly.  Never before had I seen so much media just converge in a dressing room before after practices and games.  Walking into the rink it was like a whose who of media members, Don Cherry, Ron Mclean, Barry Melrose, Pierre Maguire, Matthieu Barnaby, Darren Dreger, anyone and everyone was there.  Going down a quick 2-0 after back to back games was disheartening, but something that we had gone through in Washington.  On the plane back there was no hanging of heads, guys were still playing their video games and card games, we had done it before and we just had to take care of business at home.  It was a sight to see before game 3 outside Mellon Arena of fans trying to get spots just to watch the game on the big screen outside, what an atmosphere that was.  My dad also made the trip out for game 3 and 4 so he was able to watch and enjoy those 2 great hockey games.  Now the momentum was back on our side after 2 huge home wins, but was quickly snatched back after a game 5 loss on the road again.  So it was back to Pittsburgh relying on the home town fans to rally the team once again, which as the case in another classic hockey game.  As a spectator you could not ask for two other teams that play the game the right way, the hockey was second to none.  Now it was time for game 7, this was it.  I was probably more nervous the day of that game than when I actually play.  Normally we skated after the team on game days but us black aces had the day off, they just wanted the team to prepare and get ready for the biggest game of their lives.  Normally we would have a suite or press box, somewhere to watch the game from, but being game 7 we were out of luck.  So 4 of us went up and were standing on stairways in the rink trying to get a glimpse of the action.  After the second period we were up 2-0 and so we headed down to the dressing room to watch the third on tv and hopefully start getting our equipment on for the celebration.  Just as we started lacing up our skates Detroit scored and we all looked at each other, not too sure what to do next.  We ended up finishing getting dressed and huddled around the tv as the agonizing seconds ticked off.  Finally the buzzer sounded and after the handshakes we went out on the ice to be a part of the celebrations.

As I write this I still can’t believe what went on that night, I was actually on the ice celebrating a Stanley Cup victory, having Sidney Crosby pass me the Stanley Cup for my chance to hoist the trophy.  From that point, to the dressing room celebrations to the parties at Mario Lemieux’s to the victory parade are experiences I will never forget.  I learned an awful lot being on the inside of watching a team win a championship and what it takes to do so, and how much it meant to guys like Billy Guerin to win that trophy. 

And now after all that it is time to get back at it and try and repeat the feat.  I have been at home training and getting ready for the Development Camp next week in Pittsburgh which should be a lot of fun.  It is a week long camp filled with testing, skating, along with some fun activities to get to know some of the other Penguins prospects.  Once I get back I will share on how the week went.

Thank you as well to those who have commented from Northeastern and some Penguins fans who have found the blog, hope you enjoy it.

Journey to the Cup Part I

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well I am back home enjoying my summer, albeit a shorter version this year.  All the excitement and festivities have wound down after being a part of the Stanley Cup winner Pittsburgh Penguins, giving me an opportunity to sit down and write about my experience with the team during the incredible run.

As most of you know I signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins following the college hockey season.  I was sent to their American Hockey League team in Wilkes Barre.  While I was their I practiced with the team as a third goalie as well as backing up the last game of the season.  I was also with the team during their first round playoff win against Bridgeport.  Following that series I was called up to Pittsburgh to essentially do the same thing with the Penguins, be a third goalie and give Marc Andre Fleury a break from practice when he needed it, and get some extra work in with goaltending coach Gilles Meloche.  I really couldn’t believe it when they told me at first what the plan was, I was just excited to be getting some experience in the American League let alone be a part of the Penguins playoff run.

So I got to Pittsburgh a few days before the team faced Washington in the second round.  It was a little nerve wracking meeting the team, guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malking, Marc Andre Fleury, guys who as college players we watch on tv and think about what it would be like to be in their shoes.  Then you are sitting next to them in the dressing room doing up your skates just like they do.  People ask me what are these guys like and this and that, and I tell them they are just regular guys like anyone else.  It is a great group of guys and they welcomed me in to the team right away.  I think this is one of the main reasons that we were able to win is because of the team concept that was clearly evident throughout the locker room.

I was brought up at just the right time, just in time to watch Sid and Geno go up against Alex Ovechkin in the NHL’s dream match up.  What a series it was.  To go down 2-0 was a little disheartening at first, but the team never wavered.  They all believed we were going to come back and we did.  I had been to 1 NHL playoff game before, in Vancouver, but the noise and energy levels in Washington and Pittsburgh were incredible.  The intensity was like nothing I had ever seen before, everyone was doing whatever it took to win.  The whole city of Pittsburgh was on board as well.  I stayed in a hotel across the street from the rink for the duration of my time their and every game night the lobby and hotel restaurant were packed with fans getting ready for the games.  The series turned out to be a classic going 7 games, and while there was a lot of travel back and forth, this wasn’t college anymore so we weren’t taking the Peter Pan!  Nothing against the Peter Pan busses but it’s not exactly a chartered plane. 

After that incredible series win it was time to head to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, and I will continue on with that hopefully tomorrow.

Coming soon, my journey to stanley cup!!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

All right so some pretty crazy things have happened over the last two months and it culminated in me being able to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup!  It was a whirlwind experience and every hockey players dream and I will be sharing that story here in the coming days.  Talk to you soon!

blog thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well I guess this will officially be my last blogging assignment for my online journalism class.  This is my opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about my first blogging experience this semester.

When I started out with the blog I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, what I should write about, how to write for a blog, what I was going to say and if anybody would read it.  So I decided to write about what I know best, hockey, and focus it on our team at Northeastern and hopefully draw fans to it by giving them an inside look at what it’s like to play college hockey.  From there I just wrote about what I thought people would find interesting.  Sometimes it was tough to come up with something to write, I didn’t just want to write about the games all the time.  I was a little caught off guard by how many people started to read my blog.  It got linked by a couple of college hockey websites and I guess it started to spread and before long I was getting an average of about 2-3 hundred people a day.  So thanks to everyone that has read and continues to read it because it gives me a little reminder when I haven’t written something in a while that people do come to read it.  I have really appreciated all the comments that have come in over the last few months.  I think one of the things that worked for me first was the rink rankings I did during the first few weeks.  That was probably the most fun I had writing any post, coming up with my favorite rinks in college hockey.  The thing I probably found most difficult was writing after a tough loss, probably the hardest were losing to BC on the last day of the year and the Cornell game.  Those were the times that I did not want to write about the games but I knew that I had to.

As I’ve stated before I intend to continue writing on my experiences playing hockey, now in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.  Now that I’m not in school I still want to find a way to keep my writing skills sharp and this is a great way to do it.  It’s not always grammatically correct or perfect writing but at least I am still writing.  So hopefully the readers stick around for more In the Crease with Thiess.

trip to DC

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well I’m back in Wilkes Barre and after suiting up last night for the first time in pro hockey, albeit just backing up we have the day off and I have some time to reflect on my trip to Washington, D.C. for the Hobey Baker award ceremonies.

I flew in to Washinton on Thursday night and upon my arrival a Lincoln car was awaiting me at the airport to take me to my downtown hotel.  I got in around 8 and quickly changed and headed to the rink to catch the second semi-final game, BU versue Vermont.  What a game it was.  A great college hockey game that was back and forth with lead changes, big hits, great goals, and a BU comeback that would turn out to be the theme of the weekend.  My parents flew in that night as well to spend the weekend with me.  Friday morning we got up and met our host for the day from the Hobey Baker Committee, Joe.  We went down to the rink and met the other two candidates, Matt Gilroy and Colin Wilson and thier families.  Obviously we have a little hatred towards BU on the ice but off the ice hockey players are all generally good guys and they were no different.  We met in the rink with the ESPN tv crew who walked us through everything that was going to happen on the show that night.  We also met with the two tv personalities who were going to interview us that night to give them a feel for us as a family.  That was a surprise to my parents who did not really want to have anything to do with being on tv, so they were probably more nervous than I was but they did great!  After that we had some time off, and as we had never been to Washington before we walked over to the White House, only a couple blocks away.  It was a little smaller than what I had imagined but cool nonetheless.  That afternoon we had an autograph session with the three finalists at a restaurant close to the rink.  It was fun to be able to interact with the fans and the two other players signing different Hobey Baker memorabilia.  After that, a few more hours passed before it was time to head to the rink.  The actualy ceremony really went by quickly, from walking out of the penalty box for the introduction, to the interview, to the announcement.  It took place in the rink, and there were a couple thousand fans in attendance, helped by a large BU contingent.  I wasn’t expecting to win, it would have come as a complete surprise as I believe Matt Gilroy was the best player in college hockey this year, and congratulations to him, well deserved.  It was such a great experience, I did not leave empty handed as they had a framed picture of the three of us.  The Hobey Baker Committee did such a great job to make the weekend a memorably one and everything was done first class.  It is something that I will never forget and I’m glad that my parents got to be there to experience it with me.  I didn’t get a chance to stay for the final game, I was back in Wilkes Barre on Saturday, but watched the overtime and it was a fantastic finish, good for college hockey. 

Later on tonight I will have a recap of the semester of blogging, the last assignment we have for the class blog.

frozen four thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Before I head out to Washington DC on Thursday I thought I would offer some thoughts on the games being played this weekend.  Obviously you have the all hockey east match up featuring BU and Vermont, and then the two number 4 seeds facing off with Bemidji and Miami.  In the hockey east match up I think you have to go with BU.  There are a number of factors that lead me to believe this, the first one being this team seems to be on a mission to win a national championship.  The fact that Vermont has beaten them twice this year I think also plays into it, they are going to be ready for the Catamounts.  As for the second game I don’t know much about either team, but I would like to see Bemidji continue their run.  However I think that they kind of flew under the radar for their regional win, they are in the spotlight now and I think that play to their detriment.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to take in either of the semi-final games as I get in on Thursday night but it should be a great night of college hockey.