The boys were up bright and early on Thursday morning to catch the Niagara Scenic express bus bound for Western Michigan University. After stopping at the rink and loading our bags onto the bus, we headed for the Canadian border to take a short cut around the Great Lakes. For us Canadians, it was nice to be back in the homeland for our Thanksgiving weekend, even if it was only for a few hours.
After clearing customs, the boys had time to sit back, relax and take a snooze before stopping for lunch in Coach Adams' old stopping grounds in Port Huron, Michigan where he played professional hockey. As soon as we walked into the restaurant we could see that Coach Adams was quite a big deal around town as we saw his glamorous action shot was hanging on the wall of the restaurant as soon as we walked in.
After we ate and Coach Adams signed autographs for his many fans, we got back onto the road for the last stretch of the trip. We took this time to hold our annual Freshman Quiz where the seniors get to ask the first-year players 10 questions of our choice. Each freshman was paired up with a senior for guidance on the quiz. The questions ranged from what's the name of the school library, to what player they would most like to room with on road trips? The seniors took the answers to the questions and brought them to the front of the bus where they read them off on the microphone. The answers were very entertaining as usual as the boys all shared a good laugh. After the quiz, the seniors voted on the winner and found Taylor Law to be the victor of this year's quiz. Congratulations Taylor, your answers were definitely one of a kind.
After our nine-hour bus ride, we finally arrived in Kalamazoo. Upon arrival we headed straight for the rink where we held our last full practice before our first non-conference game of the season. On Friday night, the atmosphere was intense in Western Michigan's rink as we faced off in our first game against the Broncos since 2001. The Broncos took an early lead of 2-0 over the Griffs after the first period. After regrouping in the locker room and getting a pep talk from Coach Smith, the Ice Griffs came out flying. Cory Conacher put us on the board first and didn't stop until he completed his first of hopefully many hat tricks this season. Wes Love and Patrick Vamos Sullivan also netted their first goals of the season as the Griffs beat the Broncos 5-3.
Saturday night, we knew we were in for a real test as the Broncos would come out all guns a blazing after dropping their home opener the night before. Once again Western Michigan got up 2-0 after the first. After being kept in the game with stellar play from goaltender Dan Morrison, the Griffs netted two goals from Scarsella and Eric Rex before the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. It must be noted that Eric Rex's celebration may have been a bigger highlight than any goal we score this year. The play went back and forth for the first three minutes of overtime with each team getting chances until the Broncos found the back of the net.
It was a successful weekend for the Griffins as we got our first road victory while coming close to completing a sweep. Obviously, we are always looking to win both games on the weekend but we learned what we need to do to be victorious and our freshmen got a taste of what NCAA hockey is like. The first road trip of the year is always an exciting one as we not only had a great time, but showed that all of our hard work is starting to pay off.
See you at the rink,
Scott Jenks #3