I don’t think I ever wrote about going to see a Stockton Thunder game. Well, I did go. I highly recommend going. It is a nice facility, it is less expensive than an NHL game. Parking, food, tickets, everything is less expensive. That is important since NHL games appear to be the very most expensive sports events to attend, during the regular season. The team colors leave something to be desired but I will forgive them that. Once upon a time I didn’t hate black and yellow.
Anyway, I wish we had an arena and an ECHL team up here in Sonoma County. I would go, a lot.
Aside from cost, what is the difference between an NHL and and a minor league game? I suppose if you have a very finely tuned eye you can distinguish the skill level of the players so clearly that you might be blinded to anything else about the game. Or not.
I don’t have such a finely tuned eye. I can tell if one player is running all over, or around, everyone else. I can tell if one player is grossly better than the others. See instant recognition of Jagr back in the day.
I can tell if a goalie is standing on his head, but I cannot really tell the difference between pretty good and darn lucky.
Almost any hockey game entertains me. As long as I can hear skating and see lots of movement and follow a puck around the ice, I am well amused. So the difference between an NHL game, an AHL game, or an ECHL game is naught to me. I suspect the same could be said for most potential ticket buyers in Northern California.
With all of that in mind, there were a couple of differences between the Thunder game and the games I’ve seen (or heard) in the NHL and the AHL.
One penalty stands out to me. One of the Stockton players went down in the crease, in front of the Idaho goalie. Both players got pushed into the net after the whistle. An Idaho player took this opportunity to kick the Stockton player in the midsection, several times.
This act was penalized. But it was only a two minute penalty. That seemed inadequate to me. I thought such an act ought to at least be a game misconduct, if not some sort of suspension. You can’t go around kicking people in the stomach with ice skates on. If Pronger was suspended for a halfhearted skate stomp, surely two or three toe kicks at a player who is prone and trapped in the net ought to be suspendable.
For all I know he was suspended later, but I kind of doubt it. Not if he only got 2 minutes.
Other than that, it was an entertaining game, with an enthusiastic crowd. It went to overtime, it went to a shoot out. The shoot out went on for several rounds and Sexsmith did come away with the win. It was a pretty high scoring game, so I wasn’t doing back flips on Sexsmith’s behalf. Still, it was his first game back after a very long time off due to a broken hand he got in, yes, you guessed it, a fight. In November.
See? Fights are stupid. But I didn’t see any more of them in the Stockton game than I have seen in other games, so I won’t make any assumptions about that yet.
Among the Stockton players, I did notice a couple of them seemed to make very good decisions, better than the rest. I mean they didn’t turn the puck over as much as the others did. That’s my thing to watch right now. If you have the puck, try to keep the puck. It is pretty basic, but it is also a good policy.
So, along those lines I think I noticed #19, Chris Lawrence. He was drafted into the NHL in 2005, and played in the AHL. That could explain it. He could have more experience or better experience than many, or something like that. Maybe he just stood out because he’s really tall. Not sure.
I also made a note of #9, Fraser Clair‘s name. I can’t remember why. Either he made good decisions or… I really don’t know. I did not make a very good note of his name. I think I’m going to have to go to another game. This lack of note taking is pretty unforgivable except I had just gotten my new phone so I didn’t really know how to swype very well and I might have wanted to watch the game instead of type about it. Or swype about it, for that matter.
Now that I am clean out of Sharks tickets I will have to find a way to get Thunder tickets. That is more doable than more Sharks tickets. This is where the cheaper thing comes in. It isn’t the same as a Sharks game, and the colors are all wrong, but going to a Stockton Thunder game is well worth doing.