Overcoming Pain and Wrong, My Way

Charlotte Checkers vs Oklahoma City Barons
Warm Ups @ Time Warner Cable Arena

When my mom passed away in 2009, I became even more obsessed with hockey than I normally would be. I read the official rules books of the ECHL, AHL, and NHL when I couldn’t sleep at night and when my thoughts turned dark, I would read statistics on my favorite teams, my favorite players, of any team and any player that took my mind off of mom. To say that hockey help heal me is an understatement.

When I read this quote sometime ago, I thought to myself, “Yes, this is exactly how I feel.”
     “We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best meet and overcome pain and wrong and death. Life is just a place where we spend time between games.” —Fred “The Fog” Shero

I don’t play hockey. I can’t even claim to know all there is to know about it. I can’t even name every team and it’s farm team, but I do know that sometimes my life is exactly a place where I spend time between games.

As I sat in the same seat I have for the last 3 years at the Charlotte Checkers game on Sunday, I sat and looked at all the fans. The Carolina Hurricane fans there to support the Charlotte Checkers while the NHL is a lockout. The Charlotte Checker fans who are at every game. I see them in the same seats, always cheering, always there through good and bad. The opposing team fans supporting their team just as passionately and loudly as the home team fans. I was reminded that hockey fans have this crazy unbreakable bond no matter what. I may not be a New Jersey Devil fan, but I sure as hell will not scoff at them when they’re out supporting my favorite AHL team. I don’t even scoff if they’re there to support the opposing team. We are at the same game, loving every moment good or bad. If I wear Detroit Red Wings jersey, I’m going to have haters because they’ve won 12 championships and the fan of the team that hasn’t won yet will admit jealousy but respect. I am not a fan of Sidney “Sid the Kid” Crosby, but I cannot deny the skills he has on the ice. Hockey fans respect the players and the games. I don’t see that with other sports. Hockey fans are unique. They believe when it seems all hope is lost. I know I am that way right now as the NHL cancels yet another month of the season, but somewhere in my hockey loving heart, I feel that I might get a little NHL season, but if not, I can see the bright stars of NHL’s future on the ice against the Charlotte Checkers.

As I sat in the same seat realizing all of the above, I once again found myself depending on the game I love so much to get me through a stumble in life. Instead of reading the rule books and statistics, this time, I just let the clock count down each period and each intermission. I didn’t think about anything outside of the arena. I didn’t think about what next or what decision will lead to what path.

For sixty minutes, I was taken away from all the worries of the world and transported to a place where all that mattered was who got the puck in the net the most. I was overcoming the pain and the wrong, and I was happy.


10 Things I’m Loving About the Charlotte Checkers

Normally, I would post this on my hockey blog, but I merged all of my writing personalities into one. It just seemed to make sense to me. Why split my writing personalities up? Why not just be me?

So here is me, being The Hockey Maven.

Nov 4, was the Charlotte Checkers home opener and to say I was excited was an understatement. The team was coming into the home opener with a 6-2-1 record. (For those that don’t know hockey, that’s 6 wins, 2 losses, 1 shoot out loss.) They reclaimed the AHL’s top spot with yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Wolves.

10 Things I’m Loving About the Charlotte Checkers (in no particular order):

1.) Drayson Bowman – continuing his goal streak to seven games. That kid is on fire.
2.) Justin Faulk – I never really paid attention to Faulk, but when Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings (my favorite team in the NHL) says he likes what he sees and wishes he were on the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins team, I look a little harder at him. Yesterday, he stood out as being a future elite defensemen. I was super impressed with his speed and his two assists helped.
3.) Dan Ellis – goals against average 1.91. NHL veteran goalie shining as an AHL goalie and receiving the CCM/AHL Player of the Week award.
4.) Justin Peters – I wasn’t a big fan of Peters last year. I was in fact, not a fan of our goalies, at all last year. As I watch him this season, I feel more confident in his puck stopping skills. You need to be a ninja on the ice as a goalie and you need to be able to see the play that is unfolding in front of you. I think he has turned me into a fan of his.
5.) Jason Shaya – Director of Broadcasting/Voice of the Checkers – I thoroughly enjoy Shaya’s 10 Thoughts each week. Witty, sarcastic, funny, and an inside look at the game. Shaya’s 10 Thoughs on Oct 30th
6.) Bobby Sanguinetti – maybe it’s because he was originally drafted by the New York Rangers (my second favorite teams in the NHL), but I have a hockey soft spot for this kid. I kind of feel like he’s the quiet storm that no one suspects, but when he’s on the ice, players really need to be aware of him. So far, he’s sitting at 6 points (1g, 5a) and 12 PIM. Last year he was at 50 points (10g 40a) and 20 PIM. I think we’ll see him raise the bar for the 2012-13 season.
7.) The Charlotte Checkers charitable work. The work the organization does in the community is truly amazing and them kicking off the home season with 15 Days of Giving is just the start of it all.
8.) Chubby the Mascot – seriously, one of the best mascots out there. Watch the video on why he’s kick ass
9.) Fun promo videos promoting games – the silliness of this home opener promo video is just fab!  It creates excitement from the fans to know their team and the staff of their team seem to be having a good time as well.
10.) Fan interaction – the sport of hockey is only as good as the fans are and hockey fans are dedicated people. The Charlotte Checkers are top notch in fan interaction. As a fan of the sport and team and as someone who gets to work with them, what the organization does for it’s fan and the customer service is really beyond anything I have experienced before.

Update on Wheels For Forest

Well, if you were in the arena on Saturday, April 7th for Fan Appreciation Day you probably shed a tear or two. One for the loss against Abbotsford Heat and one for hooking up Forest Walton with a brand spanking new van courtesy of Hendrick Automotive Group which will be fitted for handicap accessibility by the Checkers and Van Products

Help Get Forest New Wheels

I am fortunate to work with a lot of amazing people and the Charlotte Checkers is by far one of the most amazing organizations I get to work with. Their dedication to the community constantly amazes me and I am always grateful for anything I get to do with the team be it support through attending games, sending a Twitter or Facebook message for anything they are supporting, or by writing on this blog.

On April 7th, with the purchase of the special promo tickets @ $15, $6 from every ticket goes to Wheels for Forest.

Forest Walton is a 15-year-old young man who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at birth. He was able to walk, run and play until he was 12 years old, but due to this disease, he is no longer able to walk. His mother must take him everywhere in a wheelchair accessible van, and their current van is worn out, unsafe and literally falling apart around him.

Do your part and support the Checkers on home ice against the Abbotsford Heat and in doing so, you’ll support Wheels for Forest. Meet Forest Walton