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This is my first attempt at submitting anything other than a silly comment, so bear with me!
Over the weekend, I broke the bank on a pair of $12 100-level tickets for myself and my girlfriend so I could witness the Sens Super Skills competition in person. I know it's usually targeted towards families and kids, but being a big fan, I wanted to see what it was all about. Parking was free, which was a bonus, so I didn't have to park in Nepean and spend the next 3 hours walking over to Scotiabank Place.
After initially trying to get to our seats through the handicap access line (laugh away, I didn't see the sign!), we sat down near one of the nets about 10 rows up, which wasn't bad at all. I blew up my thundersticks (more on that in a moment), and prepared for the plethora of skill to be displayed at the Sens Super Skills competition.
More after the jump...
Obviously I wore my Gonchar jersey and one of those big Russian furry hats in hopes that the kids would find me intimidating and just leave me alone, but the effect was quite the opposite. For most of the afternoon, a couple of kids behind me seemed to take a liking to bashing me in the head with their thundersticks. I couldn't beat them up, so I did the next best thing: curse them under my breath into my girlfriend's ear. Next year I'm definitely bringing more people and making sure they sit behind me. Anyway, I'm getting a little off-topic, so on to the competition!
All of the players from Team Red and Team White were introduced onto the ice (including the minor hockey players, but I'm not going to mention them any further in the recap), then the national anthem was sung, and they prepared the first event, which was the puck control relay.
Puck Control Relay
The jist of it is that teams of 3 players had to race to the other end of the ice, grab a puck, and skate in and around some cones before making it back down to where they started, prompting the next player (if any) to go and do the same thing. I don't recall the exact teams, but it pretty much started off with one of the AHLers on Red running into a cone, and giving Team White the lead. After that, Team White led the whole way. Once that was done, they put Michalek (Red) up against Shannon (White), and it was a pretty clear-cut victory for Shannon, who was the noticeably quicker skater of the two.
This event was quite a surprise as most people would naturally assume that Ryan Shannon would win this event (I was one of those people), but things aren't always what they seem. Francis Lessard's attempt at Antoine's Vermette record around the rink was pretty entertaining, and I could easily label him as one of the funniest skaters to watch in the NHL. Even the MC for the evening (I forget his name) made a joke about him. I think a few people knew that Erik Karlsson was pretty quick, but his time of 13.7 seconds drew a big cheer from the crowd. Colin Greening was up next, and the MC made a sarcastic joke about Greening beating Karlsson's time, and the whole crowd had a pretty good laugh about it. That is, until Greening blazed around the rink and put in a time of 13.665 seconds, drawing an even bigger cheer from everyone. Up next was Ryan Shannon, but as always, the pressure got to him and he put in a slower but still respectable time of 13.761 seconds. Does this mean that Greening and Shannon will play on the same line? I doubt it.
I'll be honest, I didn't really expect much from this event as I didn't think that we had any really hard shooters on the team, at least no one that really stood out. Kovalev went first and shot something like 92 mph, which is typical since he really isn't known for his slapshots. The stupid toque he was wearing also probably had something to do with his lackluster performance in this event. A few more players went, and the Colin Greening stepped up to the ice and blasted a 100.5 mph blast which drew a gigantic gasp and cheer from the crowd. Matt Carkner blasted a 99 mph shot in the 'qualifiers' so the final was him against Greening. Greening ended up hitting something like 100.2 mph whilst Carkner shot his best at 101.1 mph, much to the delight of everyone since he is a pretty popular player, especially with the younger crowd.
I was a bit excited when I saw Kovalev line up to take his turn first in the accuracy shooting competition, but it was all downhill from there. Most of the players could only hit one or two targets within the alotted time, and Erik Condra bested everyone (I think he hit 3 targets). All I really remember from this event was that Spezza has a really good release, and Brian Lee looks like Ellen Degeneres, but taller (yeah I said it). The players' accuracy was pretty embarrassing to watch and Scotiabank Place was probably at its quietest during this event.
3-on-1 Powerplay Challenge
This event was pretty entertaining, with both goalies finally getting some action. It was Craig Anderson in net for Team White and Robin Lehner in net for Team Red. For this event I'll just mention a few things:
- Brian Lee is a very smooth skater, I just wish the rest of his game was as smooth
- Craig Anderson has a lightning-quick glove and reads players very well
- Matt Carkner taped two sticks together and created a hilariously-long stick to use when it was his turn to play defense, which got a pretty good laugh out of everyone, and an even louder one when the super stick broke on the first rush
- Chris Neil has better hands than most people realize (ie he has nifty dekes and puck control)
Team Red won this because Craig Anderson got lit up when Brian Lee was defending for him (surprise surprise).
This was fun to watch as the players tried some pretty ridiculous moves to score. Selfishly, Kovalev went first when he wasn't supposed to, and Lehner stopped him immediately, and justly so eliminated him from the shootout. I'm usually a big supporter of Kovalev, but I thought him rushing to the center of the ice, 'budding' Brian Lee and taking his shot out of turn was a pretty classless move on his behalf.
Other than that, believe it or not, Ryan Shannon can actually stick handle (well at least in a shootout). I'm surprised him and especially Chris Neil don't get many (if any) shootout attempts during the regular season. Then again, Cory Clouston isn't exactly the epitome of correct decision-making. Jesse Winchester made an appearance and looked pretty good (isn't he injured?) on his shootout attempts.
Fittingly so, Bobby Butler won the elimination shootout and got a good cheer from everyone on the building.
Yeah, I'm not gonna lie, I left right as this was starting in order to avoid traffic, so um, I hear it was good?
That's it that's all, thanks for reading!