Monthly Archives: January 2012

Day Four: Amarillo, TX to Flagstaff, AZ

By | Arizona, Blog | 2 Comments

I got to the hotel last night about three hours before everyone else. I didn’t stop for dinner, I figured that I would just order pizza when I got there.

I searched “Pizza” in my iPhone and found the normal Dominos, PIzza Hut, and Papa Johns stuff, but below that, I found Pizza Planet. Without hesitation, I dialed. Of course it was closed. But maybe it was for the best, because it would just ruin childhood dreams. I mean, I have had “a” Pizza Planet before, the one in Disney. However, that Pizza Planet is disgusting. They give you this tiny five inch microwavable pizza in a styrofoam container. It is the complete opposite of delicious.

So, instead, I ordered Papa Johns. The last time I ordered Papa Johns, I was a sophomore at Rowan University. After it got to the room, I remembered why the last time I ordered Papa Johns was when I was a sophomore at Rowan University. It is not good. Not even a little bit. Like, it’s edible, but that’s where I draw the line.

Everyone finished it when they got to the hotel in Amarillo, so it worked. It wasn’t a complete waste of money, although we did wake up this morning with stomach aches (well, Kyle and I did anyway).

Today began much like every other day on the road, with a late start.

In our room, it was Kyle, Chris and me. We didn’t even wake up until 10:30 (Side note: Damn. We missed the continental breakfast again. I was promised biscuits and gravy from the woman at the front desk). We rushed to get up and get showered because check out was at 11.

As you can probably predict, that did not happen.

We were up and out by about 11:30. We went down to WalMart (because where else would we go?), where Chris and Kyle bought clean socks, and I got the dogs some bones for the car ride. After that, we went and got breakfast at Whataburger. Well, they did, because I don’t eat anything. I will say this, the cheeseburgers at Whataburger are bigger than any burger I have ever seen in my life, and their french fries are delicious (their cinnamon buns, however, are not). They also had spicy ketchup. But apparently it tasted exactly like regular ketchup. So, whatevs.

We got back on the road around 12:30-1:00 pm.

I find when you’re driving, there is always a car that stays with you. It’s like your friend, but not really, because you have no idea who the hell they are, or where they are going, but you kind of stay at the same pace, and you kind of both test the water with how fast you can go. Because realistically, only one of you is going to get pulled over. My buddy in Texas today was a burnt orange Kia Soul. I drove alongside them for a good two hours. I probably would have driven with them all day (because I’m sure that they were definitely going to Flagstaff), but tragedy struck.

In my rear view mirror, I saw a cop from the other side of the road swerve into the grass in the median and turn around. They were heading in our direction. Needless to say, my foot slid gingerly away from the gas pedal and I slowed down as fast as I could without using the brake.

I hate when you see cops in the rear view mirror. It’s like everything slows down, and you think that they’re watching you, like they have x-ray vision and they can see into your car. They can see where your eyes are. They can feel your heart racing. You know they can’t, but at the same time, you feel like you’re the only one in their vision and they’re watching your every move.

I watched intently as the car came flying down the left hand lane. The suspense was killing me. Were they going to slide over behind me and throw on their lights? Were they going to blow by me and go get my friend, the Kia Soul? Or was there an actual emergency to respond to? I know. The suspense is killing you too. Did I get another ticket? Was there some burning brush somewhere in the distance? Was Timmy stuck in a well?

The answer?

My poor friend, the Kia Soul got pulled over. The good news? I didn’t get a ticket!


While it was unfortunate that I no longer had a driving buddy, I decided that I should probably continue.

Texas wasn’t all that fun. I didn’t really enjoy much. New Mexico on the other hand was pretty awesome. First, the speed limit was immediately increased to 75 mph. Second, I saw my first tumble weed not even two miles into the state and third, it added an hour to my day. I’d say that’s something to celebrate. On top of that, there was actually something to see.

The view through New Mexico was pretty amazing. The mountainous landscape was certainly a sight to see. I’m not going to lie and say that I ever understood all of those goddamn nature hippes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I watch the discover channel just as much as the next guy. But actually being there, and being able to see the vastness of… well, everything, it just makes you get it. You become immersed in it.

I expect that it’s a lot like the feeling the ocean gives you. Like, you can look at the ocean, and all you see is water. No matter how hard you try, you won’t see anything but water on the horizon (unless you turn around and look behind you, asshole). It kind of reminds you of how small you are. It kind of reminds you of how big everything else is (I know, the universe is humongous big). But it’s true. Seeing it in person, it’s kind of surreal.

I kind of love being on the other side of it, being able to look into the distance and see mountains and rocks jutting into the sky, occupying the horizon. Looking around you and seeing the mounds of earth carved with distinction.

It’s unlike anything you could ever possibly see in New Jersey.

On the final stretch of New Mexico, I took an exit to head towards a rest stop. There, I took the picture that is the featured image for this post. It’s unbelievable how incredible the sunset is here. It’s so vibrant, and the way that it peers over the mountains, and takes over the sky  is indescribable (which for me, is a bad thing, being that I went to college for seven years to learn how to describe things, but whatever). Sure, it’s not the ocean, but I’ve been there, I’ve seen that (not that I’m like a sunset junky, but it’s not exactly the worst way to watch the light fade into darkness).

We didn’t make Surprise today (as you can tell, the title of this post is not Day Four: Amarillo, TX to Surprise, AZ), but we did make it to Arizona. We are in the state and we’ll chalk it up as progress because it’s not worth stressing over. We’ll make it there tomorrow.

We are a mere three hours from arriving at our destination.

We are so close to the end of our journey, and at the same time, so close to the beginning of our lives in Arizona.

Day Three: St. Robert, MO to Amarillo, TX

By | Arizona, Blog | 2 Comments

I lied about Missouri. It is not cool, not even a little bit. Missouri is kind of terrible, but it’s the kind of terrible that knows it’s terrible. To make up for its terribleness, it tries to trick those coming into Missouri into thinking that it’s kind of awesome.

How? Well, last night it was 62 degrees. How wonderful is that? Especially after Ohio. Missouri knew I needed nice weather, so it gave it to me. The roads were open and kind of wonderful, there was hockey on the radio, I received an extra hour and to top it off, there was a Wal Mart next to the hotel. It seemed like a pretty good deal.

But looking back on it, the hockey game was probably the most boring game ever, there was the tornado siren blaring through the town, and then when I woke up it was cold as hell again. Did Missouri forget that it was trying to court me? Or did it assume that after our short soirée that we were already in a relationship, so that it could stop doing all of the extra stuff and could just begin taking me for granted?

Needless to say, we are not together, Missouri. My once formed opinion of you has been reshaped, and I no longer care for you Missouri.

We are through.


Everyone slept in late again. We didn’t get out of the hotel and back on the road until around 12:30-1:00pm. Kyle Lemma had to hit up Wal Mart and put a new tire on the boat trailer. We had to walk the dogs and what not. Chris drove with Mike, and Kyle drove with my mom again.

I went ahead by myself. I thought about becoming a part of the convoy today, but I just like driving fast too much. Most of the times on these highways 75-80mph feels too slow, so there is no way that I could stay sane going 55-60. It just doesn’t feel right. These roads are too open. They demand some sense of speed.

It is kind of hard to will myself to read signs in these states, but I have to do something while I am driving to keep me going. Every sign reads, “Jesus this” or “Jesus that”. It gets kind of old, but I’m glad that I did pay attention because while driving through Missouri I saw a sign that said, “George Washington Carver Memorial”.

In case you don’t know who that is (somehow), he’s the man that invented peanut butter, and in case you don’t know, peanut butter is the only reason that I have made it this far. I eat it for breakfast every single day. No exaggeration. Sometimes I wonder which George Washington had a bigger impact on my life, the man who “founded” the United States or the man who invented peanut butter. If pressed for an answer, I think I’d have to go with Carvs.

I was already about an hour ahead of everyone else, so I figured, why not visit? I went to the memorial and it was probably the scariest set of roads that I have ever experienced, ever. It was terrible. It wasn’t two cars wide, but it was a two way “highway”. I’m using quotation marks because it was only high half the time. You see, it was like a goddamn roller coaster. It went up at a 75 degree angle, and then straight back down. I couldn’t see anything but the bulls and cows in the pasture. I felt like I was in for a surprise every time I neared the top of the hill.

The memorial itself was incredibly nice. It was probably the most shocking thing ever (mostly because I wasn’t going there to see anything for real). I just wanted a picture with Carvs so I could get back on the road. But if you’re into history, or into Carvs, I definitely suggest checking it out. Everything inside of the building is pristine.

I have no idea how it got there though because everything else around there kind of sucks.

After Missouri came Oklahoma. Oklahoma was okay. There really wasn’t anything special. There was a cool McDonald’s at a rest stop that overlooked the highway (and it had popcorn chicken. How wonderful is that?)

Oh, Oklahoma was nice because it had cheap gas too, but yeah, that’s all I remember about it really.

Next came Texas.

I’ll say this as nicely as possible.

Texas sucks.

I know it sounds like I think everything and everywhere sucks, but seriously, it does. So far, Texas is by far the worst state to drive through. There is nothing here. From the moment I saw the “Welcome to Texas” sign until I arrived in Amarillo, there was nothing but darkness, and its when there is so much darkness that lights start to play tricks on your eyes.

Maybe it’s just me, but while driving at night, lights help me make sense of the road and what’s around me. I can gain a sense of where I am by seeing the lights below in the streets, the lights in front of me from the cars and the lights above me from the light posts. However, when there are no lights below you (or around you, or anywhere for that matter), it makes things much more difficult.

Staring ahead, you can see the lights ahead of you (and the reflections on the pavement), but that’s it. In the distance you can see red glow from brake lights on roads that don’t exist (or that you can’t see) and it kind of skews your perception of where you are driving.

I saw brake lights to the far left and noticed that the road was turning right. I don’t know if I am describing this right, or if maybe I’m the only one that uses lights to make sense of what’s in front of me, but it sucks, especially when there is nothing around for what seems like forever.

I was driving for about a hundred miles when I noticed I was running low on gas, so I pulled over to the first place I saw in the entire state that had gas. It was a tiny, run down gas station with a store that was closed before 10pm. I don’t even understand how that makes sense, but whatever.

The pump was quite probably the oldest artifact in the state of Texas. I pumped gas for three and a half minutes and it had not even pumped an entire gallon. Needless to say, eff that. I just left and hoped for a close gas station.

Fortunately, I found one and everything was okay. I made it to Amarillo and to the hotel (even though it was entirely too confusing trying to navigate these tiny little Texan roads).

To further the terribleness of Texas, the internet in my hotel is out. Yes, I am blaming Texas for this, even though I should be blaming the Red Roof Inn, but hell, why not just blame Texas?

Oh, also, I thought Texas was supposed to be warm? Call it ignorance, but I honestly did not expect to be freezing my ass off still. Sure, I know it gets colder at night everywhere, but I was not expecting to deal with sub 20 degree weather here.

I want to be warm goddamnit.

But the night did end on a good note, one of the best South Park episodes ever is on TV, the Underwear Gnomes.

Here’s to hoping we reach Arizona today!

Day Two: Reynoldsburg, OH to St. Robert, MO

By | Arizona, Blog | 3 Comments

I am about to say something that I am positive that no one has ever said before:

I kind of like MIssouri.

I know you’re saying, “whaaaaat?”. But yeah, that just happened.


Now, I know that this is not something that has ever been muttered before in the existence of mankind, but I also think that perhaps my perspective is skewed. After all, I did spend the night before in Ohio. It’s like beer goggles.

I mean, Ohio is pretty terrible. After driving through it, I can understand why the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to suck year in and year out. How could you be motivated to do anything in that bland, boring, nothing state. There is nothing, anywhere. It seems like it is the most dreary place on earth. And not only is it boring and dreary and whatever other terrible adjective you can come up with, it’s cold as hell. I was so goddamn cold there. It was terrible.

Missouri on the other hand, is a beautiful 62 degrees. Not to mention, it ever so generously gave me an hour! The people here are nice (ish. The frat/army guys three doors down are pretty big douche bags, but that’s to be expected from frat/military guys, so let’s count that as part of the exception). Otherwise, the area seems nice (ish..). The weather is pretty wonderful, and the roads are incredible for driving. A 70 mph speed limit is a remarkable thing on long, open roads. In fact, sometimes I even found myself looking down at the speedometer and realizing that I could go faster.


That’s kind of an amazing feeling.

Of course, it does have it’s downsides. Like what, you ask? Tornadoes. Seriously. What the hell? I was laying in bed watching TV and writing this blog when South Park was interrupted by the National Emergency Broadcast System thing. It was just the testing thing, or whatever. You know know what I’m talking about. That goddamn awful sound that they only play at 2 am. Yeah, that. Anyway, after like 20 minutes, it went off again. I looked up and it told me there was a tornado warning for the following counties (and preceded to list them). Unfortunately, I have no idea where the hell I am. So, that means nothing to me.

Then, outside sirens start wailing and the phone began to ring. It was the front desk woman asking me to come to the lobby because it wasn’t safe on the second floor.


In the mean time, my Mom, Kyle and MK are still on the road. They stop and pull over while I try to get more information, but it’s kind of impossible without knowing where the hell I am. So, I tell them the only thing that’s logical.

“Keep driving. If you see a tornado, avoid it.”


But yeah, it was a false alarm. No tornado. So, yeah, Missouri is where we ended up, but let’s rewind to Ohio and the start of the day.

We didn’t get in and asleep until late last night, probably around 5:30 AM. When I got to the hotel, I checked in and turned the heaters on full blast, so that people would be warm when they got in. As soon as people got there, I took Sawyer in our room, chugged NyQuil and passed out. I woke up this morning to find MK gone. My first assumption was that he got locked out. I figured Chris was sleeping with his headphones in, and I was so drugged out that an sonic blast wouldn’t wake me up. Needless to say, I definitely expected to find a bitter (and very, very cold) Mike Kelly. Chris’s theory was that he was abducted and had his organs harvested. I added that he was probably also forced into bum fights, but neither of those things actually happened.

Instead, he never really fell asleep. The room was unbearably hot (which we could all agree with), and he went and slept in the truck. While I appreciate his generosity (thank you MK), if I were him, I’d be like yeah, this is not a Sauna. If you’re cold, get under the goddamn blanket like a normal human being. I would not have attempted to sleep in the truck. I know that the heat was not the only thing that pushed him to the truck (sleeping with two other dudes and a dog in a king sized bed isn’t exactly ideal), but yeah. Again, eff that.

We woke up late. Walked the dogs and got back on the road, but not before we got breakfast. And what else do you eat for breakfast before a ten hour day of driving? KFC.

(** Please note, we did not intentionally eat KFC to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. That was fate).

I don’t know how I would have stayed awake, or sane during this trip if it wasn’t for my iPhone. It seriously is the most magical (and wonderful) piece of technology. Ever. When I get tired of music, I throw on stand up comedy. When I get tired of that, I get on Netflix and stream anything and everything. it’s pretty wonderful. I listened to like five episodes of South Park, twenty minutes of Billy Madison, and a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Obviously, this will happen again tomorrow.

It is truly wonderful.

Unfortunately, we were cut short of our goal. Originally, our plan for the night was Albuquerque, but that was another 4 hours from where we ended up, and that meant that we wouldn’t get in the hotel until around 6-7 AM. Considering that you have to check out at 11, that hardly seems worth it. So, we called it a night at St. Robert, Missouri.

The day will begin much earlier tomorrow than it did today, but fortunately, this Red Roof Inn has a continental breakfast. So, we’ll actually have something to wake up to (though, we probably won’t… but we’ll try). I know, you’re thinking what does a continental breakfast mean to someone with such exquisite taste buds such as myself? Orange juice. Frosted Flakes (Zucaritas for my espanol friends), and toasted bagels with skippy.

Sadly, I’m kind of looking forward to it.

I miss my PB!

Day One: Turnersville, NJ to Reynoldsburg, OH

By | Arizona, Blog, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I have to say that moving is definitely one of the more interesting things that I have done with my life.

It is one of those bittersweet things. On one hand, I am obviously excited to see where this is going to take me. I can’t wait to see what Arizona has to offer, but on the other hand, there is still a pang of self doubt that constantly aches somewhere in the back of my mind. It’s the part of me that is terrified of the prospect of not finding my own footing. It’s the part of me that is afraid of change. It is the part of me that needs reassurance and certainty, but I think that is something that, deep down, we all share.

I wish that I could remember more about my move from Philadelphia to New Jersey, just for some insight on the experience. Sure, I would argue that it is not the same. I didn’t have a life set up in Philadelphia. I didn’t go to high school, and college. I didn’t have too many real friends that I left. I didn’t ever fall in love there. In many ways, it wasn’t the same, so perhaps in hindsight it doesn’t matter all that much, but who knows?

I for one, do not.

Moving is weird. Really weird. Right now, it doesn’t even feel like I left, not for good anyway, and honestly, I don’t think that it will set in until I am set up in my new house for an extended period of time. Until I am actually established and moving forward in Arizona. For now, it’s just going to feel like the next big adventure. It’s going to just feel like my next vacation.

I don’t know. I’ll save that talk for a future post. For now, I can only really relate to how I got where I am now, Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

Our weekend was interesting to say the least. We were definitely not prepared for this. At all. The packing that should have been done months in advance, got jammed into the three or four days prior to our departure. It got rushed into the last minute moments before we left. It was hectic to say the least. For all intents and purposes, we were pretty much winging it.

Late last night Kyle and I sat up and went over an estimated route. We looked at the map and decided that leaving late wasn’t such a bad idea. We decided we would tell everyone that we wanted to leave at noon, that way we would get out the door and on the road by one. Unfortunately, we didn’t get out the door at one. I’m pretty sure Mike wasn’t even up by one. The truck was being packed with boxes that kept magically appearing in the living room, with tables and computers and a little bit of everything, and somehow, it all fit.

Well, the things that mattered anyway, a feat that still amazes me.

By the time that Kyle arrived at the house with the Envoy (with boat), and we got the door on the Penske truck shut and locked, it was 6:00 pm. It wasn’t quite 1:00, but regardless, we were finally setting off into the sunset (or the pure darkness, the sun may have set hours before).

It was sad leaving the house, but it still felt right. It wasn’t easy driving away. It wasn’t easy leaving Brit behind (even just for now), or anything. It wasn’t easy leaving the house behind, knowing that the next time that I see it, someone else will be sleeping in my bedroom. Knowing that someone else will be cooking toast in our kitchen, or that someone else will be mowing our lawn (I lied. I’m okay with this part). I don’t know. It’s just a weird feeling. It’s something that I don’t think I was (or am) fully prepared for.

After we set out from our house, I drove to Chris’s house to pick him up. Somehow, I think that was just as hard (if not harder than leaving my house). I mean, after all, the Whelan’s are the reason that I moved to New Jersey in the first place, and in many ways their family means just as much to me as my own. Saying goodbye was terrible. It felt awful. It killed me to say goodbye to Will, which is dumb.

I know I will see him again. It’s not like we’re going through a one way portal, but at the same time, it killed me.

After we left his house, we took to the road and we drove, and drove, and drove. It was an eight and a half hour adventure that brought us to Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

On the way, we ate Sbarro (as seen in the main image), I got pulled over for speeding (got a ticket, of course), listened to a ton of stand up comedy, tried to stream audio from South Park episodes, went to Wal Mart in Pickerington, checked in at the hotel, went back to the Wal Mart in Pickerington to find Chris’s lost Zune, then went back to the hotel, got the dogs when my Mom arrived and started writing this.

What now? Bed time. We have a long day ahead of us, 14 hours to be precise. By this time tomorrow, I plan on being in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Wish me luck.

The Road to the Winter Classic (Part IV of IV)

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Our second trip to the Wells Fargo Center was a different experience (as it was meant to be). It was a Legacy vs. Legacy extravaganza. It gave us a chance to play with and against some of our closest friends in the biggest arena imaginable (at the time, Citizen’s Bank Park was not even a remote possibility, so, I would argue that it wasn’t imaginable, although I guess you could argue the possibility that it was, but, whatevs).

Overall, I would say that the game was a success. it was close, competitive and there were very few complications. I think in hindsight there are a few things that I would change, but it is what it is. Everyone was able to enjoy it for what it was. We had one to two hundred people spectating, and it was something that many of us would never experience again (or at least so we thought).

Following the second Wells Fargo game, we returned our focus to finish our season at Skate Zone. Our C team would finish with a 20-4-1 record, 171 GF and 101 GA. Our C2 team would finish with a 15-10-1 record, 114 GF and 84 GA. Since it’s men’s league, each team is guaranteed a playoff spot, but we went further than that. We excelled in the playoffs, and both teams won against tough competition to reach the championship. However, in typical SkateZone fashion, it was announced that the Championship would no longer be a best of three series. Instead, it would be a single game elimination (remind me why people continue to pay this company $5600 a season?).

In C league, we would play Santucci’s for the championship. It was an incredible game. We loved playing them guys. They were good dudes, the games were tight and clean, it was everything that you could ask for. It was the ideal championship. The game was close, we were up by a goal with two minutes to go when they pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The extended in zone pressure led to a deflection off of one of our own players into the top corner of the net and sent the game to overtime. In the playoffs, it goes to a five minute overtime. If the game is not decided in the first five minutes, it goes to a second overtime, etc.

Close to the end of the first overtime, the puck crossed their goal line but it was quickly pulled out before the ref could see it (honestly, the puck could have been in the back of the net for another fifteen minutes before Sal would have seen it, but that wasn’t the point). The point was they caught a lucky break and the game continued. It went into a second overtime where we just didn’t have it in us. We didn’t have the right match ups out, the bounces weren’t going our way, and when it came down to it, we just couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net. Santucci’s took it from us in the second overtime. I found out recently, they had a trophy made for winning that game.

Damn you, Joe.

Our C2 Championship was nothing like our C Championship. In C2, we got destroyed. Plain and simple. The other team played the trap and we fell right into it. We played like we had never seen it before, like we hadn’t grown up watching the New Jersey Devils win multiple Stanley Cups utilizing the system. Instead, we skated into them, over and over again, turning the puck over and having them come right back at us. We lost, and we deserved to lose.

From there, it didn’t get much better for Legacy (or SkateZone).

The Spring season was a joke. I branched Legacy out to play in Voorhees. The season started great, but like anything at SkateZone, it fell apart quickly. In fact, my team and I walked out of a game because it got so ridiculous. We played the cheap shot kings, the Chiefs. It was beyond anything that I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve played the Philly Fire for years. Needless to say, walking out of a game was certainly a first.

Back at North East, the hockey director had managed to screw up just about every facet of the league. Everything was slowly falling apart, including our team. The Spring/Summer teams are difficult to keep together because after a long Winter season some people lose interest, some people go down the shore, and well, some people just aren’t welcome back. We stayed a strong competitor, but didn’t excel like we had the previous season. When it came to the playoffs, our C team got screwed.


Refs changed the rules in the middle of the game, wasted power play time with a running clock when they were trying to make a decision, and made some more than questionable calls. It was just about everything that we came to expect from Skate Zone in a single game. Needless to say we lost (surprisingly, so did Santuccis). The Championship game that season was about as exciting as a Florida Panthers/Phoenix Coyotes Stanley Cup Finals.

Our C2 team on the other hand managed to win the Championship. Sure, it was C2, but hell, it was a championship and at least we got to go out with something (even though again, our championship was cut from a best of three series to a single game). We popped champagne in the locker room (even though Matt O’Mara, a player on the team, had no idea we had just won the Championship until we were already celebrating, if you can call it that).

It was after that game that I announced that I was moving to Arizona, and that both Mike Kelly and Chris Whelan would be going with me. Our departure was going to be a big hit on a team that was already corroding far too quickly.

The team returned the following Fall/Winter season with Steve Reddell taking over captaincy in my absence. I played a few games until I was deemed “illegal” and that it was declared that if I showed up again, that they would call the cops on me over a monetary/ice time dispute. SkateZone’s actions were more silly and ridiculous than I could ever begin to describe, but I was done with the drama. I was done with SkateZone.

In October of 2011 I played my last game in their facility. My seven years of hockey was done, and my five year reign as the captain of Legacy was over, but somehow I was okay with that. Not that I didn’t miss Legacy, because I did, and not that I didn’t miss playing, because I did, but nothing was the same. I think that if you asked anyone from the core group of Legacy, that they would tell you the same thing. Something was missing. Maybe it was Drennen, maybe it was too many new faces, maybe it was me leaving, I don’t know.

But to me it was over.

Legacy was over.

It was kind of sad to think about because Legacy became so much more than a hockey team. It became so much more than a dumb hobby, or a recreational sport. It became so much more than I could ever imagine. I can’t make the argument that players don’t feel this way in every sport, but I’m going to say this, the bond that hockey players share somehow seems stronger. It somehow seems to be more prevalent than it is in other sports. In hockey, there is a level of respect for the players on your team that runs deeper, there is a level of loyalty that never strays, there is something about being on the ice that brings everyone together. Sometimes that respect and loyalty stays on the ice. It stays in front of the net when someone from the other team crashes into your goalie, or when you are two-piece turtleing someone for cheap shotting one of your teammates. Sometimes it makes it to the locker room, where somehow every conversation turns into laughter no matter how the game went, and sometimes if you’re lucky enough it makes it to Applebees, or Tiffany’s, or Santucci’s, or to North Carolina.

Sometimes, somehow it becomes so much more than you ever imagine that it could.

And it’s that feeling that makes you want to keep it going. It’s that feeling that you never want to fade, it’s that feeling that makes you want to try, and I wasn’t about to just let our Legacy fall apart. Even if I do move 2400 miles away, even if we do have our team spread throughout the country, it doesn’t make sense to just let it go. It doesn’t make sense to not try to do everything that I can to keep the core together.

For me, the first step was making the impossible happen.

It was selling a thousand tickets to the AHL Winter Classic in less than three weeks. It was getting jerseys designed, ordered and stitched in the same time frame, and it was getting all of these things done in order to host our own Winter Classic at Citizen’s Bank Park on January 8th, 2012.

And that’s exactly what we did.

The Road to the Legacy Winter Classic (Part III of IV)

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The introduction of a second Legacy team meant that we were able to keep both of our goalies. It meant that we could have people play with and against players that were geared more towards their particular skill level, and most importantly, it meant that we had the opportunity to play with literally everyone we knew (including but not limited to one Sir Daniel Sebastian Pickens the 3rd. Okay, I know that’s not his middle name, and I know he’s not the third, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it/he was?)

All at once, everything began to fall in place. The jerseys were ordered. The rosters were set, and after talking to the new hockey director, we got our practice slots set up. Well, we got our practice slot. Yes, slot as in singular, as in one practice slot.

Odd, right?

In the past, Skate Zone has always designated each team with one full sheet practice prior to the start of the season. For some reason, I thought since I was bringing in two teams, that I should be designated, well, one plus one, carry the one, equals, uh, what’s that number? Oh! Yeah. It’s two. I didn’t think that the math was that difficult, but apparently it was to the Skate Zone’s new hockey director, Wayne. When I told him I was bringing in two teams, I thought we should get two practice slots. I know, it sounds a bit ludicrous really, and quite a bit selfish, but I thought maybe because it was highlighted in the brochure that each team got it’s own practice slot, that we should get a practice slot for each team. But then again, why would I realistically expect to receive what I was paying $11,000 for? If the tension between Wayne and myself isn’t evident yet, I can assure you that you might see it a bit later. You have to read between the lines a little bit. You know, because I’m a writer and and there are metaphors and stuff, but trust me, it will be there.

In October of 2010, our 26 game season that would extend through May of the following year began. It’s kind of silly to compare men’s league to professional sports, but in some ways it isn’t all that far off. Long seasons mean that a lot can happen, and trust me when I say that a lot does happen. Injuries keep people off of the ice for entire seasons, egos grow (…and grow, and grow, and grow), rivalries against other teams develop, and different players ride hot streaks to keep the team at the top of the standings (and that’s exactly where we were).

Looking back, I believe that the biggest reason that we were successful as a team is because we were organized. A day or two before every game, I would send out a mass message to find out who was (and wasn’t) going to be at that particular game. From there, I would map out lines and have them ready for each game. At this point, I had played with everyone long enough to know individual strengths and weaknesses. I knew which players were better passers and which were better goal scorers. I knew which players could carry a line, and which ones could be a liability at times. I knew which players worked well together, and could build and sustain chemistry. For example, Mike Benezet often found himself planted just above the blue line in the defensive zone, so I would do my best to pair him with someone like Carl Trainer, someone with a defensive mindset that could put the puck on anyone’s tape, from just about anywhere on the ice.

I had a game plan for Legacy, and it worked. We were winning games, and we were having fun.

In the middle of the season, we were approached by the Ice Devils to play against them at the Wells Fargo Center after a Flyers game. Without asking any questions (or any of my teammates), I agreed. Afterwards, I brought it up to the team, and naturally, everyone was absolutely stoked. We were beyond excited to be able to play on the same ice as the Flyers. However, there was a catch. We had to sell 100 tickets to the Flyers game. Not so bad, right? Right. But there was another catch (there’s always another catch). We had to raise $4,000 in less than a week to pay for the tickets.

So, I did what any responsible college student would do, I charged it.

Fortunately for me, it worked out. We sold the tickets with no problem, and we were on our way to play at the Wells Fargo.

The game against the Ice Devils was much more intense than it should have been. Overall, we didn’t play like a team and it showed. The Ice Devils were a team that we had never lost to in the three years we had played them. Honestly, most of the games weren’t even close. Not even a little bit. However, at the Wells Fargo the game ended in a 3-3 tie (at least we didn’t lose, right?). Either way, it was fun. It was a once in a life time experience that Kent Miller and Andrew Weiss immortalized for us. I literally cannot thank them enough for the photography they did that game (and the shots they will do for us at the Winter Classic on Sunday, January 8th).



By once in a lifetime, what I really meant was an experience that we would relive roughly a month later when Legacy would take over the Wells Fargo Center.

New Year, New You

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I just got an email from that is titled, “Amazon Student: New Year, New You”.

It doesn’t really send a special message. In all honesty, it’s about as basic as can be, not to mention tacky and cliche, but at the same time, it was kind of perfect.

Why, you ask?

Great question (and if you didn’t ask it, please continue reading anyway. No seriously, please, keep reading. I keep checking Google Analytics to see how many people come to my page, and how long an average visit lasts. Consider this an experiment of how long I can keep your interest in a single parenthetical. Okay, I’m done).

It was special because right before I got that email, I started this blog. I kept writing different introductions. I kept trying to find the words that I wanted to say, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t get anything right. The words came out wrong. Everything sounded off, or impersonal. I just couldn’t find the words to express what I wanted to say. The only thing that I knew was that I wanted to write a blog about the changes that a new year brings. I wanted to find a way to write about New Years Resolutions, and how they fit into our society. I know, it’s cliche. It’s overdone. Not to mention, it’s late. I mean seriously, it’s the third already, but that’s not the point.

The point is I have never made a serious attempt at a New Years Resolution. Personally, I think they are a bit silly and an overall commercial attempt at getting you to fall into the pits that society creates. By that, I mostly mean that they want you to join a gym. Well, not always, but it seems like they embed that as a message in every ounce of the media. It’s like,  overweight? Get to the gym. Underweight? Get to the gym. Eat an Oreo? Get to the gym (but only so that you can burn off the calories that you consume while eating Oreos, so that you can buy more Oreos, so that you can get to the gym and burn off those calories, so that you can consume more Oreos. Yes, they are delicious. I know. I can’t help myself either, but their deliciousness alone is not why they want you to buy them. They want you to buy them because they make money off of both the Oreos and the gym memberships. It’s a cruel, cruel world. Delicious, but cruel).

However, this year, I kind of want to fall into that pit. A part of me wants to allow myself to embrace the change that a new year brings, which sounds kind of silly. (No, I’m not getting a gym membership. I had one prior to the new year, but I’m probably going to avoid it for a while to avoid the Oreo eaters, at least until February when they stop using the gym and return to their full time Oreo consumption). I mean, why do we wait until a new year to change something about ourselves? Does writing 2011, and then scratching it out/erasing it/backspacing a lot of times before rewriting 2012 really make a difference? The only real difference is that halfway through the year, we will finally start writing the year out correctly, and then half a year later, we’re going to do the same thing all over again. Doesn’t that mimic our lifestyles in so many ways? I mean, is January 1st really any different than December 31st?

The only real difference between the the two days are the differences that we, as a society, associate with it.

But you know what? I think that that’s okay.

I think that we could all use a little bit of change in our lives. I think that we could all be a little bit happier, or healthier. I think that in some ways, we could all use the change that a new year brings, because a new year brings a new us and sometimes we all need that little push to get there.

And that is what the end of one year and the beginning of the next brings. It brings us an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves. It gives us the chance to look back at the person we were for the past year, and it gives us a chance to change that person. Consider the end of each year a check point. Consider it an opportunity to start over. If you’re not happy, get happy. If you’re not healthy, get healthy. If you’re not eating enough Oreos, eat more Oreos.

I know this sounds preachy, but you only live once, and we deserve what we want out of life, but don’t expect it to be handed to you. You have to be the change that you want to see you in yourself.

This year, my resolution is to write more. Sure, that means that I’m going to write useless anecdotes about my hockey team that no one cares about. It means that I’m going to write about television shows and movies that I love (or hate). It means that I’m going to write about the mistakes that I have made in the past. It means that I’m going to write about a little bit of everything. It means that maybe, just maybe, I might actually finish something that I start.

And who knows, maybe that means I might be happy.

What about you? What are your New Years Resolutions? What are you doing to be the change that you want to see in yourself?

Feel free to comment below!

The Road to the Legacy Winter Classic (Part II of IV)

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Legacy started with three hockey players (I suppose I should use that term loosely),  but we were three of the only Phoenix players that were not asked to play for the Laughing Skulls; Matt Brady, T.J. Szymendera, and myself. While it seemed like a strong enough start, it was still only a fraction of a hockey team. The team that would become Legacy was thirteen players shy of a full roster, so we did the only thing that we could think to do. We began reaching out, trying to find competitive players to fill out our roster. Unfortunately, most of the people that we knew were already playing at Skatezone, most of them for the Skulls.

Matt Brady brought four players that he had played with in a summer league at Skate Zone; Matt Stingle, Walt Mulholland, Mike Benezet and Mike Mulholland; T.J. brought in Steve D’Aurizio (and would later bring in Chet O’Neill); and I brought both Mike and Bill Kelly back, as well as several players I had found on Craigslist. We were a ragtag group that had little to no chemistry, but from our very first season, Legacy presented a sense of promise that we had never experienced with Phoenix.

In the first season, we had a solid start, nothing incredible, but it was good enough. We played well, we won a handful of games (thank you, A.J. McTighe), and we had fun doing it. Over the next two seasons, we lost several players (and “forgot” to ask for some back, remember that one guy? Beaver? I think his name was? Man, he was terrible), but we also gained quite a few. We picked up some players from our Phoenix days including Chuck Stressman, Nick Pilla and Chris Whelan. We picked up friends of friends like Carl Trainer, Mark Butterline and Steve Reddell. We picked up wily veterans like John Hall and we picked up some “unrestricted free-agents” like Eric Drennen.

The filtering and the fine-tuning finally proved successful in the Spring/Summer league of 2010 when we got to our first championship. We won game one of our best of three series and felt like it was all but over. I went out, bought two bottles of Champagne and borrowed a replica of the Stanley Cup for game two. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned and we lost, and then, well,  we lost again. The Ex-Pirates came back and took the series from us (but really, we just lost to that one guy with the gold stars on his pants. He was ridiculous. He scored like eight million goals).

I’m not going to lie, it sucked. We were angry and upset that we lost. I know, it’s only a Men’s League, but that was kind of the point, we couldn’t even win the championship in a Men’s league. When it mattered most, we couldn’t pull through, but overall as a team, we found success. That was all that I could ask for. We won games. We did what we set out to do and most importantly, we never lost to the Skulls (Okay, we did once. The game was 11-11 and it went to a shoot out, where we lost. But our record against them is like 20-0-1. Oh, and in that game, that wasn’t our goalie. It was just some random dude who played a game right before ours. We would have been better off with the extra skater).


After our hopes and dreams died (not really, well, maybe a little bit) in our championship loss, we moved forward and did the only thing that we could do, we bought new jerseys. We got better when we got our blue jerseys, so logically, this seemed like the next step. We also figured that we could completely forget who we were after losing our first championship by translating our last names into Russian for the back of our jerseys. Well, we tried to, but apparently the Hockey Shed doesn’t have Russian twill lying around. I know. I found that hard to believe too. So, much to Mike Kelly’s dismay, we got them in English. However, I realized as I was assembling the roster for the Fall/Winter season that we had more players interested in playing for Legacy than we had roster spots, so we brought in a second team, Legacy C2.

Dun. Dun. Dun.