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It's just practice…!

October 31, 2006

For those that don’t know I’ve been a season ticket holder for the Hurricanes for a several years (since ’02). One of the perks of being a STH is that every year the canes schedule a practice and invite the STH’s, give them breakfast etc. Last year it was neat b/c it was the first year I was able to go, but a little disappointing because it was right after the Olympic break. So all the canes players and coaches that were part of the Olympics weren’t present. This did everyone the oppourtunity to see occaisonal fill in goalie Tripp Tracy between the pipes.

This year was much better, not only was it Connor’s first trip to the arena (outside the womb), but almost the whole team was there, including the coach and for my money the best voice in Hockey Chuck Kaiton. One of the cool things about this year was that it was an optional practice, the guys were in two squads, the white squad and the red squad. Each squad had a general manager that ‘drafted’ the team. Andrew Ladd was the Red GM, while Chad LaRose was the White GM. With lunch on the line they did a series of 5 drills, that pitted each squad against the other.

The highlight was the shootout drill. Each squad lines up on one side of the ice at the blue line, with a pile of pucks at center ice. Each player in turn grabs a puck and attempts a shootout/breakaway goal on the opposing goaltender, first squad to finish wins. The catch is that if you miss you have to grab the puck and keep trying until you score. Poor Nic Wallin was first up for the white squad and tried a snap wrister from 20′ out which Cam Ward paddled aside. He then proceeded to try several other moves to no avail. I was watching Cam mostly (as I’m a goalie whore), so I missed most of the Red Teams moves, but when I did look they had 2 skaters left while white (Wallin) was still trying to score). At one point Nic was getting pretty frustrated and Cam was having his way with him, so Cam decided to lay down across the mouth of the crease and just make Nic shoot over him. After missing the net once, Nic then hit the crossbar while Cam lay napping on the ice. I wish I had a picture of Cam because his pose was exactly the same as the JumboTron graphic they use for a great save, with the goalie laying on his side, cradleing his head and reaching up to make a save. Finally Nic skated in and lifted the puck over Cam to a huge roar from the crowd (after a bit of snickering). At this point Red only had 1 skater left and soon the contest was over.

Nic got a bit of a ribbing but you could tell that everyone was having fun, no bag skate, no screaming coach, just a good workout of horsing around.

There were some funny moments between Chad LaRose and Mike Commodore. Apparently Chad took a bit of a run at Mike, now while he literally bounced off with no effect, Commodore returned the favor a couple of times. There was a sequence were Commodore grabbed LaRose, dragged him down to the ice then proceeded to hold him down for about 45 seconds. When he finally get let up LaRose threw up his arms in the classic ‘What?!? No Call!?!’ pose, which got a big laugh from the crowd.

Certainly all practices are not like this one, but this is one of the cooler things that the Canes do for their fans, and it’s certainly good to see them have some fun with it .

Categories: Hockey
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