Reflections on covering hockey in Airdrie this winter
Around The Kuhler: A column by sports reporter Nick Kuhl
Airdrie is celebrating minor hockey this week.
I could easily talk about the lack of ice the city has, the fantastic progress on plans for Genesis Place phase three, or the need for a 2,500-seat arena to house an Alberta Junior Hockey League team (and various other events) – but everyone already knows these things.
Last year at this time, I recalled my days playing minor hockey growing up in Lethbridge. But instead of retelling exaggerated, or fabricated, stories, like the time I scored five goals in a 6-4 win, I’m going to share my favourite moments from covering hockey this winter in Airdrie. In no particular order, here are some of my standout stories from the 2011-12 hockey season thus far:
• City View photographer Covy Moore nearly being hit by pucks in almost every game due to the Ron Ebbesen Arena’s lack of plexiglass cutouts – and his reluctance of taking photos through the glass, which forces him to stand above it in precarious positions.
• Alex Diduch slamming and breaking the player entrance gate and causing a 10-minute delay after being ejected during an Airdrie Thunder home game in January. I’m not sure what his day job is, but it would have been ideal if he were a locksmith or a carpenter.
• The Thunder’s Ryan Preston and his last seconds on ice this season in Didsbury last week. He was ejected for fighting, booed heavily by the fans as he skated off, but raised his arms in a sarcastic way as if he won the Stanley Cup.
• And, of course, on a serious note, the quick reaction performed by all of those in attendance during a Midget AA game earlier this year, as they likely saved the life of a visiting player from Strathmore after his neck was cut by a skate. You turned a potentially horrible story into a positive one.
The hockey season is quickly winding down, especially with the Airdrie Thunder’s quick exit from the playoffs last week. It’s unfortunate for the players, coaching staff and fans of the team.
I feel especially bad for Ryan Russell and Travis Wallan, the only two 21-year-olds on the roster, as they have now played their final Heritage Junior Hockey League games. Having covered them for the past two seasons, you could tell they were two of the players who tried their hardest in every game; contrary to the obvious mailing-it-in often seen from teammates.
The main focus now for playoff hockey is the Xtreme. The Bantam AAA team beat my hometown Golden Hawks in two straight games last week. Inside, secretly, I was rooting for Lethbridge.
But there is no cheering in the press box, and no press box at the Ron Ebbesen Arena. And I’m not supposed to show bias.
Good luck to the Xtreme moving forward, as well as to all the other minor hockey teams still playing this season.