Rico’s Restaurante Draws Record Crowd

The annual Rico’s Restaurante was held on Wednesday, January 9, 2008. Attendance at this popular event was double the previous record. Last year 125 people attended the evening and enjoyed dinner while being served by the players in the cafeteria style line. This year over 230 people attended.  The cost is very reasonable as adults paid $5.00 and children $3.00. Attendees were greeted at the entrance by maitre d’ Kevin Roeder, who appeared to be running for President of the United States as he worked the crowd like a master. Coach Rico Blasi also passed through the crowd to personally greet almost every attendee.

Dinner included pizza, wings, salad, and the very popular “wok line”. The players served up the food. At the wok line, the players actually cooked your selected meal in a wok. You could choose between beef, chicken or shrimp and add all the fixins and veggies you wanted, served with an egg roll and rice. Alec Martinez, Jeff Zatkoff, Mitch Ganzak and Brandon Smith were excellent chefs! Dessert included cherries jubilee (cooked and dished up by the self proclaimed best looking group of players, which included Charlie Effinger and Ray Eichenlaub), cookies (although it appeared Ryan Jones may have eaten many of them) and smoothies. A fine meal for just $5.00.

As usual, the freshmen players were relegated to “back office” functions, such as cleaning pots, pans and dishes. Whenever a freshman came out of the kitchen the other players started hollering and shouting to draw attention to them.

All attendees seemed to enjoy themselves, including the approximately 35 children.  It was great to see the players up close and chat with them as you were in line. All in all, it was a great evening for all.

If you missed this, make sure to get to the next one in January 2009.

Most Memorable Game

The Blue Line Club hosted a Q&A Dinner with Coach Rico Blasi recently. The dinner and desert were great, but the real desert came in the Q&A session.  About 70 BLC members attended. Nick Petraglia put together a highlight video that showed many goals, saves, and big hits. The Q&A session lasted over an hour. Rico provided interesting and sometimes funny answers. I left with a better insight into Rico and the team. You learned about why one of the hockey houses is stringing massive amounts of Christmas lights. You learned the team has a grade point average over 3.00. You learned that our athletes are good students and, more importantly, good people. It was fun evening.

As the questions were asked, it got me thinking about my most memorable Miami hockey game. Do you have one? It’s that one game that sticks out in your mind every time someone brings up something that reminds you of it. You can see the crowd, maybe remember faces, smells, sounds. Do you have one? I do.

I asked Coach Blasi at the Blue Line Club Q&A Dinner what his most memorable game was as a player. He had two. One of them was also my most memorable.

There are several others I will always remember. In recent years I have burned in my memory the sweep over Michigan at home 2 years ago, when we last won the CCHA title. We absolutely dominated mighty Michigan in both games and it set us up for the run to the title. The atmosphere both nights was electric, an atmosphere I hadn’t seen since my most memorable game.

I also remember the game on Valentine’s night against Ohio State when we clinched the CCHA title. That was quite a night.  You can relive the last minute or so, on the bench at this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPEQ1mmsCoQ

And then there’s one that same year: that wild 22 seconds at the end of the Western Michigan game. The one where we scored 2 goals to squeak out a win. You can relive that and Diamond Dave’s call at this link:

http://voiceoftheredhawks.typepad.com/weblog/2006/01/miami_hockey_vs.html

The game that is my most memorable was against Michigan in February, 1993. I first started going to Miami hockey games in early January 1993. Someone at work gave me a coupon to take the whole family to a game for $5.00. Growing up in Dayton, my high school was very close to Hara Arena. We always went to the Gems’ games. The hockey wasn’t superb, but they liked to fight. It was fun. I thought college hockey was probably lower quality than the Gems, but for 5 bucks, I thought, “what the heck”.

We went to a Saturday night game against Lake Superior State. The 2 teams had tied 7-7  the night before in an apparent wild finish where LSSU scored 3 late goals to tie. In the Saturday game, Miami won 4-1. The game and action were great and I was hooked. The quality of play was a much higher level than I had seen in Gems’ games. I bought general admission tickets for games the rest of the season. I managed to get 4 for the Michigan game on a Saturday night. In those days, each team played 3 games against the other teams. You would play 2 at home and 1 on the road or vice versa. Michigan had played at Ohio State on Friday night. They came in on Saturday with Miami and Michigan in a dogfight for the CCHA title. The winner would have the inside track to win it.

We got to the Goggin long before the gates opened. Since I had GA tickets, I had learned from earlier games that if you wanted a seat, you had to be there early.  So we got there about 3:00 for the 7:30 game. We were about 20th in line and near to the doors of the Goggin. The crowd kept building. By 6:00 it was up the walk from the Goggin  to High Street, up High Street to Talwanda and was going north down Talwanda. The Goggin in those days was allowed to have 3050. That night the announced crowd was 3050. But it was so packed. I heard later there may have been closer to 4,000 in the building and they supposedly turned away over 1000. The game was tight. Michigan had come back to tie the game with about 5 minutes left. Regulation finished in a tie. The game went overtime and early in, Jason Mallon scored to win. The place went absolutely crazy.  I will never forget it.

Rico stated that this game was also his most memorable, but that a close second was the last regular season game that season. Miami went into the last weekend needing to get 2 points to clinch, if Michigan won out.  It was a split road trip, Friday night at Ferris State and Saturday night at Lake Superior. Miami tied Ferris State 1-1 to get one of the 2 points. On Saturday at LSSU, Rico stated the game was high scoring and both teams took the lead and fell behind. Rico said that Brian Savage scored a goal late in regulation and the team held on for the tie in OT, 6-6. That 1 point gave Miami the 92-93 CCHA title.

Memories…Great when they happen and great to relive in your mind. Come to the next BLC Q&A Dinner with Coach Blasi and relive some of your memories. The next dinner will be on February 20, 2008, just before the Western Michigan series. You can stop by the Blue Line Club Membership Booth on the east concourse at any game and make your reservation. Cost is $15.00 per person. This event is for BLC members only.

If you missed the first one, I encourage you to get to the next one. Come and enjoy the dinner, but remember, besides the cheesecake, the real desert is the Q&A session.

Penalty Box

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the penalty box? I always did. Now I am lucky enough to have the seats right next to the visitor’s penalty box. It is always interesting to see the players as they come into the box.

As they arrive at the box, about 90% of the time they are complaining to the ref or linesman that they are innocent of their crime. They just know they couldn’t possibly be guilty of anything. Some are very angry when they get to the box. It is usually best for them to keep their mouth shut, go in the box and serve their time. But several don’t know when to stop and the ref rewards them with a 10 minute misconduct penalty to go along with their 2 minute minor or 5 minute major. These players are usually very angry in the box and throw the water bottles around. As they arrive in the box, the one thing that overwhelms me is the smell. The odor immediately makes you think you are in a locker room that is full of sweaty, moldy gear. Many of the players just plain stink. You wonder if the uniforms have EVER been cleaned. And when you get a gang in the box, like 2 or 3 or even more, the smell can be pretty bad.

As they arrive, most of them immediately start drinking water. They drink, they spit. They drink, they spit. They drink, they spit. This goes on pretty much constantly, most of the time they are in the box. Most sit quietly, but some will continue to yell at the ref or linesman as they skate by. Hockey is very much a game of emotion and there are many who are so intense, they can’t control it. Sometimes they just sit and rock, talking to themselves or teammates (when there are several in the box at the same time). Tom Fritche was one who impressed me. He was in the box several times in our game versus Ohio State early in the season. Miami was pretty much beating up on OSU, but he was so intense and into the game. He was rocking back and forth. He just couldn’t sit still. His intensity was really something.

Another thing I notice when they come is how young many are. When they are in their gear and helmets, you visualize them as full grown men. The visiting team portray’s an image like Darth Vader, “The Enemy”. But many of them are very young looking kids. The 18 or 19 year olds look like they are barely able to shave. Other times you look and players are unshaven. One team who visited Cady Arena last year had players that looked like 40-year old Russian Olympic team players, scars and all. When I got home, I checked that team’s web site. They had several 27 year old seniors. There is a big difference between a 27 year old senior and an 18 year old freshman. But on the ice, many times they young ones outplay the older ones.

Some of the real fun is when a player or two from each team goes in the box together after roughing on the ice. There are usually words being exchanged as they sit in the box. The Cady Arena penalty boxes and scoring area are not separated physically. It is one big open space. One time the exchange kept going on and on as the players told each other what they were going to do to each other when they got back on the ice.  Finally after about a minute of this, one of the off ice scoring officials yelled at them both to shut up. And just as if they were being scolded by their mother at home, both immediately became quiet. It was very funny; two young bucks being shut up by a 60 year old guy.

I always find it very interesting studying the players as they come into the box. Occasionally I make a few comments to them. I feel it is my job to distract them from their concentration. Once in a while, I offer them advice. Sometimes I say, “Uh oh, look at your coach. He looks like he’s really mad at you for taking that penalty. I hope you get to play next game.” Or when there was a dirty hit on Ryan Jones, “Looks like Jones will be looking for you when you get out of the box. He’s over there staring at you right now. You better watch your back when you get back on the ice.” It’s funny to see them quickly look over at their bench or ours. I know I have distracted them just a little.

Recently, one of the Canisius players came into the box for the third time late in the 3rd period of the game we won 11-1. Early in the game he and Nino Musitelli had been having words in the penalty box. He was very angry and intense. By the third time he visited the box, I said “Welcome back, Carl. We missed you.” He calmly replied “What’s up, man” and just sat down with a glazed look in his eyes.  He had given up.

This season, I have seen many of the opponents sitting in the box late in the game having that glazed look. I guess taking a punishing by the Redhawks does that to you.