clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Memorabilia Memories: Down On The Farm

You might recognize the "Memorabilia Memories" (formerly "Lighting the Lamp") feature from the Game Time paper. Rick Ackerman has been nice enough to send over his column for the website. "Memorabilia Memories" will be featured every home game day.

Wolves miniposter signed by Petteri Lindbohm with St. Patrick’s Day Wolves puck signed by Ty Rattie
Wolves miniposter signed by Petteri Lindbohm with St. Patrick’s Day Wolves puck signed by Ty Rattie
Rick Ackerman

Memorabilia Memories with Rick Ackerman

What a difference two weeks makes, eh?

The Blues shut out the Flames in Calgary on March 19 and looked to be a lock for the Central Division championship and possibly the Presidents' Trophy. Two weeks and five losses (in six games) later, some Blues' players are in total disarray and bailing on their coach. Only a 3-2 overtime victory in Pittsburgh kept St. Louis from matching last year's six game losing streak that ended the regular season. And a loss tonight to the visiting Flames coupled with a Blackhawk win over Vancouver will knock the Blues down into third place in the division, only two points ahead of Minnesota if the Wild defeats the Rangers tonight. The Blues might end up in a wild card slot by the end of the season. Yikes!

Of course, look on the bright side. Losing home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs might not be such a terrible thing since the Blue have been playing so poorly at home lately. In five home games in March, the Blues were 2-3-0, outscored 15 to 10. Ouch! In nine road games, the Blues were 4-2-3, scoring 27 goals and only allowing 22.

So, with the team currently discombobulated, is there anyone down on the farm who could provide help? To that end, a couple of friends and I drove to Chicago (actually Rosemont, IL) to see the American Hockey League Wolves last weekend at the Allstate Arena, located around 18 miles northwest of the United Center, home of the NHL Blackhawks.

Saturday night's game against the Admirals, affiliated with the Nashville Predators, was somewhat of a sluggish affair as both teams had played the night before in Milwaukee, resulting in a 8-4 Chicago victory behind Magnus Paajarvi's hat trick. That would have been a fun game to see, quite unlike Saturday's game in Chicago. The Wolves only managed 20 shots on goal the entire game, yet won 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Jeremy Welsh, assisted by Ty Rattie and Joel Edmundson. Earlier in the game, Rattie scored his 20th of the season. Adam Cracknell, reacquired recently by the Blues, also scored for Chicago. Center Welsh assisted on both goals and was the star of the game.

Sunday afternoon the Wolves entertained the Minnesota farm team, the Iowa Wild. This was a much more spirited affair as Chicago came out with 14 first period shots, finally scoring on the power play as Cracknell tallied his eighth goal, ably assisted by Rattie. Goaltender John Curry was outstanding for the Wild. The second period featured more of the same, with newcomer Colton Parayko scoring his second goal (in only his seventh game for Chicago) on the  power play, again assisted by Rattie. Iowa's Mark Hagel cut the lead in half, yet the Wolves continued to dominate and after two periods, Chicago out shot Iowa 29-10, yet only had a 2-1 lead.

After Rattie scored another power play goal early in the third period for a 3-1 lead, inexplicably, much like the parent Blues, the Wolves stopped skating and hitting, and Iowa came back with another goal half way through the third period to make it close. Goaltender Matt Climie had to make several spectacular saves to seal a 3-2 Chicago victory against a noticeably weaker squad from Iowa. With two goals and five assists in the three weekend games, crucial victories necessary for the Wolves to qualify for the AHL playoffs, Rattie was named the AHL Player of the Week. Not including last night's game in Toronto against the Marlies, Rattie is second in team scoring with 21 goals and 42 points. Other top scorers drafted by/on loan from the Blues include Philip McRae (15 goals, 32 points in 59 games), Paajarvi (8 goals, 18 points in 27 games), Cracknell (8 goals 17 points in 31 games) and Petteri Lindbohm (6 goals, 17 points in 44 games). Unfortunately, goaltender Jordan Binnington did not play.

The most impressive players for the Wolves were the big, young defenseman drafted by the Blues, including Lindbohm, Edmundson, Parayko and Jani Hakanpaa. All four looked solid and at home manning the blue line, blocking shots and warding off opposing forwards with solid body checks. Parayko was especially formidable, and his booming shot from the point wreaked havoc during both games. The future of the Blues' defense corps appears to be in very capable hands.

Quite frankly (and bluntly), the fan experience at Allstate Arena is terrible. Attendance is good for minor league hockey (just under 9,000 Saturday and around 8,000 Sunday), yet at least two thirds seemed to be children who were more interested in screaming and running around and climbing on seats rather than in actually watching a hockey game. Very few parents were interested in tending to their children, and we had to move to different seats several times to get away from the unruly brats who ran roughshod over their parents and the ushers. Added to that was the unbelievable loud "music" (all modern bubblegum pop) that constantly played at every break in play. A pyrotechnic display at the beginning of the game and fireworks after every Wolves goal also added to the extremely loud noise level, which quickly got unbearable and unendurable. I would highly recommend ear plugs if you ever try to go see a hockey game at the Allstate Arena.

And like the Blues' play lately, the hockey was not very inspiring either. Like the Blues, perhaps the Wolves are just too tired out by the end of the regular season.