The Franklin Nelson Center was well-attended tonight for a the pre-season match between the Chicago Hitmen and the Springfield Jr. Blues. Tonight's match was a charity fundraiser for a local girl who'd been injured earlier this year in a boating accident on Lake Springfield. The game was decent enough. With the exception of an empty-netter, the Hitmen had to earn their goals to beat the Jr. Blues.
The beer was mostly Coors Light, though I saw a lot of Molson as well. Who knew it'd sell so well in Central Illinois? Anyway, the play-by-play was a little difficult tonight...
It seems that the Hitmen did not bring their away sweaters for tonight's games and played in their practice gear. The goalies didn't even have numbers on their jerseys. So, with that in mind, I decided to give up on even attempting to keep score. So, how about some other highlights?
This kid on the team, Zak Turco... plays a lot of left wing. Is he Marty's kid? Anyway, one of the Hitmen decided to rough the Jr. Blues' goalie in the 3rd Period and Turco rightly took offense. He was the only one of the Springfield squad to drop gloves tonight. Due to multiple instances of rough play, the Jr. Blues wound up having 4 players in the penalty box at one time, and one of the Hitmen was sent to the dressing room. It was difficult to judge who was in the wrong after the second scrum at the Springfield crease in the 3rd.
Sadly, the Blues' best scoring came in the 2nd Period with 2 goals, and scored the first goal of the game in the 1st Period. The Hitmen managed to score two per period, though. The last goal for Chicago was an empty-net goal with about 2 minutes to go in the 3rd.
The Hitmen's goals seemed to be gimmes during the first two periods, and the Springfield goalie was switched out for the 3rd. I think if Springfield would have used their starter for all three periods the easy goals wouldn't have been there. The Jr. Blues managed to keep the puck in the Hitmen's defensive zone for most of the game, but the Springfield defense had problems containing any breakaway players. Considering that their season opener and home opener is this coming Friday against the St. Louis Bandits, they'd better figure out some containment strategies in the next few days.
The Blues have aggressive forwards, play a good forecheck game and have a starting goalie who seemed to be channeling Roberto Luongo on a good day. Unfortunately, they don't have him up on the roster yet.
Anyway, you want a good game of hockey for five bucks plus the cost of beer, get to the Nelson Center in Springfield for a Springfield Jr. Blues game. I'll be there for more games, guaranteed.