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2009 First Quarter Wrap-up

Well - I haven't been keeping the blog as up-to-date as I had hoped. So instead of trying to catch up with individual posts, I'm going to summarize Q1 in one post and then attempt to stay on top of things.  I may come back at a later date and add to these items.

Feb 1 - 6, 2009:  Ships and Dips V Cruise - Ben and I spent a week aboard the Ships and Dips V Cruise with many of our favorite bands.  Great Big Sea was the reason we went, but we also enjoyed seeing Bare Naked Ladies, Gaelic Storm, Sarah McLachlan and many others.  We made 2 port of calls in Cozumel and Key West.  The seas were rather rough and we tumbled on the waves most the cruise.  We even got a little risque and participated in the "Naked Picture" on deck with several hundred other passengers.  Great music and great times!  Photos are at:  Ships and Dips V Photo Album

Feb 17, 2009:  Glen Wesley Night - On Feb 17, 2009 the Carolina Hurricanes retired Glen Wesley's jersey.  He played hockey for 20 seasons, many of those with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes.  He was a true defenseman, never afraid to jump in front of a shot or pin someone to the boards.  The 'Canes handed out mini banners to the fans.  During pre-game warm-ups, all the Hurricanes players were wearing Wesley #2 jerseys.  During the game, their jerseys had a #2 on the chest.  It was a great tribute to a great player.  We definitely miss seeing him on the ice, but he's still with the organization helping with defenseman development.  We have a few pictures in the gallery: Glen Wesley Night
We mostly took videos and may upload those at a later date.

Feb 19, 2009: Joined Twitter - My resistance to joining social networks and such is starting to wear down.  I created a Twitter account.  I'm not that active on it, but do find it as a good way to keep up with some of the bands I like.  If you use Twitter, you can follow me at:

Mar 1 - 2, 2009:  More Snow! - We had the second measureable snow of this Winter, about 3 inches.  Ben and I decided to forego the sledding this time, but we did go out during our lunch break and build a few snowmen.  Ben's looked oddly similiar to a cake I saw over the holidays. The snow was moist, perfect for snowballs.  Our larger snowman developed a lean and fell over shortly after it was completed, but we had fun.  Snow Pictures

Mar 4, 2009:  Welcome Home Erik Cole!! - In a last minute trade deadline 3 way deal, the Carolina Hurricanes welcomed Erik Cole back to the team.  As the last minutes of the deadline passed, there was still no news that Carolina had made any moves.  Then, suddenly, a note that Justin Williams had been traded to the L.A. Kings for Patrick O'Sullivan, who is actually from NC.  OK, hate to see Williams go.  He'd had some injury problems lately, but is a good player and great teammate.  What's that?? O'Sullivan has been traded to Edmonton for ERIK COLE!!!!

Best news I'd heard in a while regarding the Hurricanes.  For most of the season I was attributing Eric Staal's stump to not having his favorite winger on his line.  Now they will be reunited.  This is a win-win-win for all involved.  Cole seems very happy to be back in NC. 

Mar 6 - 7: Hurricanes Win Big - As if they were having a "Welcome Back" party for Erik Cole, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Calgary Flames 6-1 on March 6th.  Cole delighted the home crowd with a goal in his first game back with the 'Canes.  The party continued on March 7 in Tampa as the Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 9-3.  The Staal-Cole-Ruutu line combined for 15 points!  Just amazing.

Mar 12 - 15: Vegas Trip - Ben and I traveled to Las Vegas for what seems to be our bi-annual trip.  Also on the trip was Ben Mc, Courtney, Chris, Ray, Brek, Nate and a few other folks.  We stayed at The Wynn again.  This time in a regular room instead of the Tower Suites.  We were very pleased to find out that our regular room was exactly like the Tower Suite in size and floor plan.  The main difference other than price was small things like no chocolate on the pillows at night, no free bottled water and no slippers. 

We went to see the Chriss Angel show "Believe".  I believe it was the worst show I've seen at Vegas, possibly the worst show I've seen EVER!  He was like a one trick pony.  It wasn't even as goth as advertised.  We've decided Vegas is almost done for us.  We've been to all the Cirque shows and the appeal is wearing off.  For the time and money, there are a lot of other places we would like to visit.  Heck - the flight time is almost the same as going to Scotland.

Apr 7, 2009:  Meeting Cam Ward - The goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes, Cam Ward, has a charity called "Cams Champs".  He gives a certain amount of money to the Special Olympics for every goal he saves.  Back in the Fall I contributed money to this charity.  I got an email in late March saying I had won a drawing for 2 tickets to a Hurricanes game and to meet Cam Ward afterwards.  Cool!  We had very nice seats in section 211.  But honestly, I like our seats in 329 better. 

After the game a group of fans went downstairs in the hallway near the locker room.  I cheered Paul Maurice has he walked by.  He seemed a little shocked, heh.  After a bit Cam Ward came out to meet us.  Ben and I stood back and let everyone else take a turn so we ended up being the last folks there.  We had a great conversation with Cam, talked about the game, the great fans in NC, and some non-hockey stuff.  Many thanks to Doug Warf and the Canes Kids-n-Community program for the tickets and opportunity to meet a great goalie, Cam Ward.
Photo: Meeting Cam Ward

Apr 4, 2009: Hurricanes Clinch Playoff Bid - In a tight, hard fought game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Hurricanes won 3-2 in OT and clinched their first playoffs bid since the '05-'06 season when they won the Stanley Cup.  The RBC was ROCKIN!  The last half of the 3rd period was so loud you could feel the vibrations in your body.  The Hurricanes had the best March record in franchise history going 12-1-1.   9 straight wins, 12 straight wins at home.  Hooray for summer hockey!

Ok, that last one was a little bitter sweet to type up, since we had our first playoff game tonight against the New Jersey Devils and lost 4-1.  Let's hope the Hurricanes figure out what needs adjusting and have a better results in Game 2.  We have playoffs tickets, let's hope we get to use more than 2.

That catches up most the highlights in Q1.  I'll try to do better with more timely posts.

It's now been a little over a month since Paul Maurice took over coaching the Carolina Hurricanes.  Slowly, bit by bit, pass by pass, the team has improved.  They are playing a more defensive brand of hockey, but at the same time, the offense is making more of a difference as well.  They are moving the puck better, the passes are crisper, the scorer chances stronger.  Overall, the team is doing something they couldn't do the first 2 months of the season, play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey each game.

Tonight's game saw all their patience and hard work come together as they beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2.  We got to the RBC Center early enough to go rink side to watch the warm ups.  The guys looked relaxed and even joked around a little.  Leighton checked one player (I think it was Eaves) into the boards during one of the drills.  Staal raced up behind LaRose and yanked on his jersey with a smirk on his face as to say "I'm faster than you".  You have to think they are feeling better about themselves as a team and individually than a month and a half ago.

The first period started out with a fast goal by Ray (aka Pinchy) Whitney.  That really got the crowd going.  The Canes defense shutdown the Devils and didn't give them many scoring changes.  The second period was much of the same, with a power play goal by Sergei Samsonov.  Going into the third period at 2-0, you really got the feeling that things were really starting to click for this team.  That we do have a chance at earning the points needed in the second half of the season to make a run for the playoffs.  The team continued to play well in the third.  Tuomo Ruutu got the winning goal off at the 9:58 mark.  There was a roughing penalty called on Justin Williams that looked questionable from our viewpoint.  The Devils scored on the power play.  They guys didn't give up though.  They kept up the pace, particularly during the Samsonov hooking penalty when Coach Sutter pulled the goalie.  Most of the power play was 6 on 4, but the Canes didn't give up a goal.  The Devils got another goal with 22 seconds left, but by then most the fans were on their feet and cheering for a great win by the Hurricanes.

One player that I'd like to point out is Chad LaRose.  He's been called the "Chuck Norris" of hockey and it's a well deserved nickname.  Shortly after the coaching change, he sat out a game as a healthy scratch.  People were mumbling about how his minutes had been cut.  But since the game he sat out, he has been pushing the limits and hitting everything in sight.  His determination has paid off.  He's moved up a line and is getting 17+ minutes a game.  IMHO, he's one of the most improved players of this team.  Though he's in good company.  Anton Babchuk has 4 points in the last 5 games.  Joni Pitkanen is playing more consistently.  And Ward, can't say enough about how awesome he's been playing.

So here at the half-way point of the season, I'm feeling good about these Carolina Hurricanes.  There's still a lot of hockey yet to be played, but I'm liking our chances.