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Above the Glass

From the Dub: No Sleep Till Spring

The Portland Winterhawks went down in yet another heartbreaker Friday night, this time in a shootout to the number one team in the U.S. Division: the Everett Silvertips. It was a good game right up until the shootout, where the Winterhawks appear to have lost their shooting accuracy.  It’s the story of the team’s season to date. Well played and on the upswing, but not quite enough to get the win. The team roared back with a 7-1 win over the Silvertips on Sunday night, so things are looking up. Meanwhile, the Kelowna Rockets continue their siege of the Western Conference (41 points in 22 games played), the Brandon Wheat Kings outpace the rest of the Eastern Conference (35 points in 22 games played) and the Lethbridge Hurricanes continue to circle the drain (5-12-3-1). In unpredictable times like these, one needs to turn to a trusted, predictable source of wisdom, inspiration and hope: the Beastie Boys. Driving home from the Winterhawks’ precious win last weekend over the Kamloops Blazers, I realized that I learned everything I need to know about this season from my favorite rappers.

As you can bet I think I’m losing my mind this time
This time I’m losing my mind

- So Wat’cha Want

You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage
I’m trying to tell you now, it’s sabotage…
…I can’t stand it, I know you planned it
I’m gonna set it straight, this Watergate
Lord, I can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in this place
Because I feel disgrace because you’re all in my face

- Sabotage

Find common ground. The NHL has the Flyers vs. Pens rivalry; the WHL’s Western Conference has the Thunderbirds vs. Winterhawks. Any game between the two teams promises one guaranteed outcome: an excessive amount of penalty minutes and at least one fight, minimum. And I can pretty much guarantee that Alex Schoenborn and Jared Hauf aren’t BFFs off the ice. But there is one thing both teams have in common: our utter disdain for the referees in this league. Former Winterhawk and Thunderbirds Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk got so pissed off at the officiating after a recent game against Everett that he was hit with a $750 fine for “comments re: officiating following game at Everett on October 25.”* Portland fans have hated referee Steve Papp as long as I’ve covered the team, most recently because he gave Anton Cederholm what one local fan called “two minutes for skating towards another player.”  Moral of the story: Even in the heat of battle, these two lifelong rivals will always have at least one thing in common.  
*Source: www.whl.ca-discipline

Ladies flock like bees to a hive

- Hey Ladies

Cut to the Chase. It’s good to know in uncertain times like these that some things never change, like the fact that Chase De Leo never gives up on a play and that he charms the local ladies of all shapes, sizes and ages. So, if the ladies of Winnipeg want to try and resist Chase’s undeniable and considerable charms, go right ahead and good luck with that. You let us know how that works out for you. All kidding aside, when it comes down to it, Chase first and foremost happens to be a very good hockey player. He’s got 23 points in 19 games played this season and is one of the principle reasons the Winterhawks have been able to stay in overtime and shootout games.

‘Cause you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop
Mike D, come and rock the sure shot

- Sure Shot

Invest in blue-chip stock. There are two players on the Portland Winterhawks’ roster who will always deliver with the sure shot: Oliver Bjorkstrand and Captain Nic Petan. This time next year, they will be off to bigger and better NHL things, so I’ve avowed that win or lose, I’m appreciating every minute of their remaining time with the Winterhawks. Another player who is always reliable but somewhat underrated is Dominic Turgeon. I don’t know why Coach Kompon didn’t keep him on a bulletproof line with Alex Schoenborn and Keegan Iverson until last night. That line worked like a charm and I'm glad he put them back together. What I do know is that Dominic is making his case this season for an entry-level deal with the Detroit Red Wings and a place on Team USA’s final roster for World Juniors. Bottom line: Even in the midst of losing games or seasons, there are players whose light shines through it all; Dominic, Oliver and Nic are among them.

Foot on the pedal
Never ever false medal
Engine running hotter than a boiling kettle
My job ain’t a job
It’s a damn good time

- No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Sleep is for pussies. The Winterhawks have had to fight for every inch of their wins this season. They logged over 3000 miles on the recent swing through the East Division, which included a 10-3 routing by the Brandon Wheat Kings. But it ended with a well-deserved pair of wins over the Prince Albert Raiders and the Saskatoon Blades, the latter of which was paced by a hat trick from Oliver, one goal and two assists from Chase and three assists from Dominic. All three are expected to head to World Junior training camps in December, and Oliver is pretty much a lock to make Denmark’s roster this year. Any time I lose a few hours sleep or I contemplate skipping the gym because I’m tired, I remember that out there somewhere is a roster of junior hockey players who will be far more tuckered out than me come the New Year. True, they are younger and can bounce back faster, but my point is this: between the overtimes and shootouts and tournaments there will be no sleep until spring for the Winterhawks or their fans. North of the border, I must admit I’m most envious of Kelowna Rockets’ fans, who probably aren’t losing any sleep over their hockey team, as the Rockets continue their blitz of the regular season. When all is said and done, playing hockey for a living – win or lose – isn’t a job. It’s a privilege and a damn good time.  

You gotta fight for your right to party

- Fight for Your Right

Party down. The party isn’t necessarily over in Portland; it’s just not a sure thing anymore like it was. The Winterhawks are improving with every game, and the wins have been larger than life for the team. I didn’t realize until this season how much I had taken winning for granted. It’s the first time I’ve realized how quickly the game can change. Today’s sure bet for the Western Conference title can be tomorrow’s #WTH. So it is here in Portland for now, where we will be fighting for our right to party right to the end of the season; whenever, however and in the biggest way possible.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com