So not too much happened with the Ice Wolves in the week or two leading up to my escapades in Alberta, then it's like everyone said, "Hey, Daniel's on vacation, let's go nuts!"
It started as my girlfriend and I were parking before heading on to Commonwealth Stadium and the U2 Concert. As I was getting out of the car, my phone started ringing, it was Ice Wolves President, Terry Helary telling me the Wolves had inked Head Coach Bob Beatty to a new 5-year deal.
The deal with the back-to-back SJHL Coach of the Year had been long rumoured and some expected it may be announced at the Ice Wolves end of year banquet. Instead, it was just confirmed Beatty would be back for the upcoming season.
Now with the 5-year extension, Ice Wolves fans can rest easy knowing the team's coaching situation is well in hand for a good while. Since taking over as coach and director of hockey ops in 2004, Beatty has compiled a
182-161-12-25 record with the Wolves, culminating in the last couple of seasons with the Credit Union Cup calling La Ronge home. Beatty guided the Wolves to the franchise's best record this season with a 42-14-0-2 showing. The Wolves also came two wins closer to capturing their first Anavet Cup in franchise history, falling in seven games to the Portage Terriers.
Bob Beatty's efforts have put La Ronge on the Junior-A map, and it will be exciting to see what kind of recruiting he can do with the increased profile of the team.
Taking a moment to step away from sports, the U2 concert was absolutely amazing. I picked up floor tickets for a mean 56 bucks (before ticketmaster fees) and it was one of the (if not the) best concerts I've ever been to. We got into line around 4:40 for the 7:00 concert and were apparently around number 820ish in line. People had been camped out for the past couple days for their spots in line, so Bre and I were feeling pretty good about our spots. Once the gates open we just wandered all the way to the front and were behind one row of shorter folks at the railing at the inner pit of the stage.
We were planted right in front of The Edge's base of operations for the night, though the band was pretty mobile. Those walkways you see near the rear of the stage actually move around and come out over the crowd. While they did cause some viewing obstructions, it was pretty cool to have the guys walking right over. It was an incredible experience to be a part of and well worth the year and eight month wait.
There was a little bit of a sports tie-in from the night, and it actually became a bigger story than I thought it would, and that was Bono's hitchiking experience and getting picked up by Gilbert Brule. Seriously, what are the odds?
I don't quite get the part about wanting to BE Gilbert Brule, but hey, whatever floats your boat Bono. Here's a little taste of the concert, somebody put together a highlight reel of some of the songs they played.
There are plenty of great videos on youtube if you want to see more. It was a great concert, and I can't wait for the next time they come through.
The next thing on the list was a bunch of school commitments by graduating Ice Wolves.
One half of the Ice Wolves Co-Playoff MVP's takes his abilities to the University of Regina to play on the blue-line for the Cougars. After playing as a depth defenceman in his first two seasons with the Ice Wolves, Fossum became one of the top blue-liners in the SJHL last season as he tied for second in league defensive scoring (3-36-39). In the playoffs, he led all defencemen with 12 points in 17 games and scored the winning goal in Game 7 of the Credit Union Cup Final. He also added two goals and five three assists in the Anavet Cup.
Nobody in the SJHL has enjoyed the success Piller has. His four straight SJHL championships stands as one of the great marks in Saskatchewan and the rest of the Junior-A leagues. He'll suit up for Simon Fraser University next season and they'll appreciate the leadership he brings to the table. Piller isn't an offensive dynamo, but his strong work ethic and physical play made him a great asset to the Ice Wolves on the penalty kill and in a shut down role. Piller amassed 71 points in his 176 regular season game SJHL career along with 18 points in a whopping 50 playoff games.
They were chanting his name during the Credit Union Cup Finals, and now, the goaltending half of the Ice Wolves Co-Playoff MVP's is headed to my alma mater, SAIT or the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Yeah, SAIT is a lot easier to say. Bartko was superb in the conference finals and league championship and his 40 save shut-out in Game 6 of the Anavet Cup was one of the greatest goaltending performances I've ever seen. The Trojans get a big game goaltender in Bartko, who holds the Ice Wolves franchise record for wins in a regular season with 27. In two seasons with La Ronge, Bartko put together a record of 48-22-7 with a GAA of 2.94 and a Sv% of 0.913.
Congratulations guys, I wish you all the best with your new teams.
To wrap things up, a little about video games. I got my hands on the Kinect hardware for the Xbox 360, and man am I sore today. With minor adjustments to my apartment (if pushing my table and rotating my couch 90 degrees is minor) I can actually make the space (6-8 feet away from the TV) happen. I actually took some time to play with one of the motion games that comes with the gadget and I was sweating buckets very quickly. Of course this is very much because of my lack of physical conditioning, but it is also a pretty good way to be active at home.
I got some exercise software along with the Kinect and when I start using it, I'll do up a post about how it works and if these exercise games for the Wii, Xbox and PS3 are actually effective.
It seems like we're all caught up on Ice Wolves, U2 and random video game detour news, and hey, the new season is drawing ever closer.
Here's hoping Boston takes another chunk out of the Canucks at home!