What do these people all have in common?
Marc Bergevin, Rob Ramage, Neil Komadowski Jr, Rich (or was it Ron?) Sutter, Scott Mellanby, Ken Morrow, Tom Wheatley, Dave Eminian, Brendan Brooks, Nick Drazenovic, Tyson Strachan, and Jonas Junland...
Well, they all played a part in my road-trip to Peoria to see the Rivermen defeat the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night at Carver Arena. And what an excellent adventure it was! Finally, I was able to see a game in which a team wearing the Note (on the shoulders anyway) took an early lead and managed to win the game, 3-1. Barry Tallackson(9), Brett Sonne(4), and Yan Stastny (7) scored and Hannu Toivonen made 34 saves in leading the Rivermen to the victory. Toivonen was easily the star of the game, although Sonne, Tallackson, Lars Eller, and Julian Talbot played well, as did Jonas Junland and Tyson Strachan on defense. At times, Toivonen was spectacular, snagging pucks with a quick glove hand and playing his angles extremely well.
The real highlight, though, was being able to talk with scouts Morrow, Mellanby, Sutter, and Bergevin in between periods, as well as talking some hockey with Ramage, Komadowski, and Wheatley. Ken Morrow was surprised I actually recognized him; I told him I had followed his career starting at Bowling Green (I attended Miami U.) and then with the Islanders. I was able to reminisce about Fantasy Camp with Bergevin and Ramage; they both remembered some of the good times we shared on and off the ice in Chesterfield. And I could listen to Tom Wheatley talking hockey all night; what a fount of information about what's going on with the Blues from his perspective. I also took time to meet Dave Eminian, the premiere sportswriter for the Peoria Journal Star, who was very appreciative of being recognized...and complimented. And meeting Brendan Burke, the voice of the Rivermen on Hippie Radio, was also great fun, finally able to put a face to the voice I have heard doing the pbp on the internet feed.
On the way up the escalator to hear the post-game show, I asked the young man behind me (since he looked familar) who he was, and it turned out to be Blues prospect centre Nick Drazenovic, who I had previously met out at the Mills. He was the guest on the post-game show with Burke. And then who should turn up but Jonas Junland! He got word I was in town and graciously came up to visit and chat (and sign my Linkoping and Swedish national team Junland 44 sweaters, hehe). Jonas talked a bit about what it's like to play in Peoria and how he is working hard to earn a trip to St. Louis soon. I told him it's probably best if he can wait a month or so until things settle down here; he wanted to know what's going on with the Blues...and I told him the best I could. He just laughed and said he'd rather be a Blue no matter the problems! What a GREAT guy! And then Tyson Strachan walked in and sat with us to chat some. We told him surely he wanted to get home after such a grueling road trip to Texas (they didn't get back to Peoria until Saturday afternoon), yet he stayed to talk some hockey, saying it was great to meet fans from St. Louis. He, too, wanted to know what in the world was going on "down there"...and again, I did the best I could filling him in on the situation here.
What an excellent adventure it was! I would highly recommend visiting Carver Arena soon for any and all Blues fans looking to have some hockey fun (and wait til you see the prices for tickets, beer, and food! ). There isn't a bad seat at the rink there and the fans are quite vocal in their support of the team...and quite friendly, too.
Urging everyone to take advantage of the short drive (less than 3 hours) and enjoy the ambience at our farm team's rink, I am:
billy pilgrim, time and space traveller