Category Archives: St. Catharines

23 Sep

Random Thoughts – Old Country Transit, Brian Bowman, Grande Parade and More

1. I was astounded to read that Winnipeg Transit, cash-starved to the point that they’re faced with having to cut back on routes, will be spending a whopping $300,000 on a pilot project to put Wi-Fi on a dozen of their buses. Judging from just a sample of the comments I’ve been seeing on my Twitter feed, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Obviously, Transit remains as unreliable as ever with schedules acting as little more than rough guidelines, a source of much frustration for me when I lived there. Yet such serious problems along with mounting driver and passenger safety issues get nothing more than lip service from City Hall as they instead plough ahead pouring tons of cash into that silly Rapid Transit and other boutique projects. As Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck once put it, it’s like building a pool in the backyard of a house with a crumbling foundation.

2. No incumbent Winnipeg mayor since Unicity has been defeated at the polls, but as he piles on debt with reckless spending while allowing core services to deteriorate, it sure sounds like Brian Bowman is trying awfully hard to become the first.

3. This morning, I spotted a cyclist headed north on Merritt Street with a helmet strapped to his handlebar. His skull might get cracked open if he gets into an accident, but at least his handlebar will be well protected.

4. I know some people like to gossip, but I never saw anyone proud enough to put it up on a sign before.

5. I’m sure the neighbors appreciated the homeowner on Powerview Avenue who was blasting his radio so loud this morning that I could hear it from a block away.

6. Call me a skeptic, but I get the feeling that these bikes may be a little, shall we say, warm. Not just because of the heat.

7. “Your” not an English major, are you …

8. They don’t seem to get the “pictur” …

9. I spotted this interesting character/”community resident” downtown today. I was particularly intrigued by the plastic bags he was using for shoes and a shirt.

10. “Coorlight.” For the taste of the Rockie.

11. From the St. Catharines Department of Redundancy Department:

12. I know the Grande Parade is a big deal around these parts, but I never realized how big of a deal it was until I saw people laying out towels and chairs more than two hours before the first float. It’s just a parade, folks.

13. An older gentleman on Carlton Street genuflected as I passed by. Have I suddenly become the sign of the devil?

17 Sep

Terry Fox Run 2017

Observations and pictures from today’s Terry Fox Run held here in St. Catharines:

1. Loyal readers may be aware that this was the 10th anniversary of the late Carli Ward’s last Terry Fox Run, which I had the honor of accompanying her on at Winnipeg’s largest off-leash dog park back in the SPRM. Understandably, the anniversary made this run a little more special than most of the others.

2. Since this was the first year the run was held at Brock, I was pleased to see this two-person welcoming committee at the corner of Glenridge and Isaac Brock Way, formerly St. Davids Road, along with the signage pointing the way. I’ve heard the phrase “you’re just supposed to know” once too often in these parts.

2a. This native of the flatlands has still not mastered the fine art of getting up the escarpment on two wheels. It’s getting easier at Queenston Heights and Taylor Road, but not on Glenridge.

3. Scenes before the run:

4. For an event that is supposed to be cyclist-friendly and with acres of outdoor space at their disposal, why was so much of the pre-run activity, including many of the announcements, held indoors? I understand the need to make plans in case of inclement weather, but the elements were hardly a factor on this day.

5. Speakers addressing the crowd prior to the run:

5a. Kudos to Walter Sendzik, our municipal ambassador for the Liberal Party of Canada, who managed to get through his speech without mentioning his compassionate city initiative, bashing Donald Trump, or dispensing any of the other Liberal rhetoric he’s become so fond of. It was particularly shocking given the presence of both the provincial and federal Liberal ambassadors, whom he often feels the need to impress. Especially the latter.

5b. Mayor Sendzik sure appeared to be in an awfully surly disposition upon his arrival, but his politician’s smile was back by the time the spotlight was on. Maybe it was just the sight of that snarky conservative on a bike who keeps taking him to task that put him in a bad mood.

6. While I was standing right on top of the word “START” painted on the sidewalk, someone came up and asked me where the starting line was. I should have told her to go to Port Dalhousie.

7. As the dignitaries were speaking, shouldn’t the River Lions cheerleaders have been facing the crowd instead of showing us their oversized derrieres?

7a. Two of those “cheerleaders” looked like they were eating for two. Except that they didn’t appear to be pregnant.

7b. Why weren’t they at the run in Niagara Falls so they could be closer to their “river”?

7c. If you haven’t guessed already, even if I had any interest in basketball, I would never attend a game because of their distasteful choice of nickname. I chose to make and remain proud to call St. Catharines my home. If those so-called “River Lions” don’t feel the same way, perhaps they should consider playing out of the Gale Center in the Falls.

7d. Question to ponder: Should those so-called “River Lions” be denied access to the Meridian Center?

8. There weren’t more than 10 cyclists at the starting line. Maybe I’m not the only one having trouble getting up the escarpment.

9. The sound clip from Terry Fox one of the volunteers played on his phone was an awfully nice touch.

10. Scenes at the finish line:

11. You know I had to spot an SPRM plate. It was just a matter of when.

11a. Some of you might not be aware that Terry Fox and I are both natives of the degenerate capital of the SPRM, making the plate sighting in the parking lot at Brock a little more fitting. In addition, he and I went to the same elementary school in that part of the world.

12 Sep

Random Thoughts – Civic Priorities, St. Catharines Transit, Citizens First and More

1. There was a recent article in the Welland Tribune in which Wainfleet mayor April Jeffs vowed “Wainfleet is my priority” when asked if there would be a conflict between her candidacy in the upcoming provincial election and her duties as mayor. I sure wish Mayor Sendzik, who spends half his time on social media shilling for the Liberals, would make a similar declaration putting the interests of his city above those of his party. And mean it. But I guess I’m asking too much.

2. St. Catharines Transit recently changed all its route numbers, adding 300 to each of them. For example, the daytime route number 5 is now 305, while the evening/weekend/holiday equivalent that used to be 105 is now 405. One simple question: Why?

2a. On second thought, maybe I don’t really want to know.

3. Appalled that the big dip in the bike lane on Martindale near Welland Vale Road which had been there for the past several months still had not been fixed, I did the responsible thing and reported it to Citizens First. To their credit, they did respond promptly, but their reply telling me that they had forwarded the matter to the region because it was a regional road was terse and less than friendly. In other words, don’t bother us, it’s not our problem. Note to city staff: This is St. Catharines. This isn’t Winnipeg.

3a. I’m still trying to figure out why no one else had reported it before now. For that matter, why had it even been left that way?

3b. As a friend once said to me years ago, “It’s hard being a good citizen, isn’t it?”

4. It is amazing what you can learn about your neighbors on garbage day. For example, you can find out if they prefer Coke or Pepsi, whether they prefer Pizza Hut to Domino’s, what their favorite breakfast cereal is or if they’ve just welcomed a new member of the family. Or maybe the Pampers box simply indicated the presence of a whiny liberal in the household.

5. Passing by this dumpster today reminded me of my grade 10 English teacher who would regularly pronounce this as “modrin:”

6. Please tell me this isn’t for gay lions:

7. I didn’t know there was a market for the waste products of Liberal supporters:

8. If you’ve got dirty coins …

9. I swear there must be a regional bylaw which states that all persons more than 50 pounds overweight must be in possession of a lit cigarette at all times.

09 Sep

More Observations Around Town

Some observations around town this morning:

1. How exactly does donating this bench fit within CAW/Unifor’s mandate to represent its members?

1a. Seeing that plaque reminded me of when a former colleague told me about a call he got from MGEU (Manitoba Government Employers Union) asking what he thought of their most recent ad campaign. His response was, “Why are you advertising?” I couldn’t have said it any better.

1b. No, the full description of what MGEU stood for wasn’t a typo. At least in my opinion.

2. Long overdue, but the fencing has finally been removed around the walkway at Port Dalhousie. Now about those piers …

3. Forget the daily coffee, just think how many breakfasts $10.5 million would buy. Like the $10.5 million our adolescent prime minister gave to a terrorist. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

4. Spotted behind the performing arts center was this Métis encampment as part of the Celebration of Nations taking place this weekend. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

5. Aside from the fresh coat of asphalt, I can’t say that the newly opened section of St. Paul Street looks a whole lot different than the pre-construction version. But maybe it’s just me.

6. I’ll fix his little red wagon …

7. Spotted in the farmer’s market were these “specials” I would have had to have been paid good money to take off their hands:

  • Pork in green spicy sauce for $9
  • Two pounds of shepherd’s pie or meat lasagna for $16
  • A sheepskin seat belt cover for $35

8. Even a sign for something as trivial as fixing up a staircase has to have our mayor’s re-election campaign slogan on it:

8a. Why does no one on council have the stones to stand in his way?

8b. Things have gotten so bad that I couldn’t even open up the brochure from Brock delivered with the sub-Standard this week without getting more of Mayor Sendzik’s compassionate city ramblings rammed down my throat. The growth, opportunities and jobs mantra he campaigned on sure disappeared from his agenda pretty quickly.

9. But who would buy the street?

10. I have to say, I really admire the ability of the cyclist I spotted on Vine Street to juggle a tray with four Tim Hortons coffees while racing down the sidewalk at breakneck speed. It does take quite a skill, one that even I, as someone with tens of thousands of miles on two wheels under his belt, haven’t been able to master. Not that I’ve tried such things all that often. Or care to.

01 Sep

Hockey in August – Black and White Game

Observations from the annual Black and White game to wrap up Niagara IceDogs training camp:

1. En route, I spotted someone picking up after his dog. Again, this is not the Old Country.

2. Also en route, I passed by this sign. I asked it how I could become a member, but it didn’t answer. How rude of the sign. If the Lions are really serious about wanting to add new members, they really should consider replacing this sign with a more friendly one.

3. I guess that’s what smoking weed does to your brain.

4. Spotted downtown was a pair of young women clearly dressed to begin their shift selling their services on the street. One was dressed in a tight top with her cell phone tucked inside her bra, no doubt waiting to be dispatched by her pimp, while the other had a short skirt with smurf-blue hair.

5. A rather interesting paint job on this barrel:

6. No doubt the driver will claim to be a dog lover …

7. Stopped at the light at St. Catharines’ answer to Confusion Corner were two women arguing, one of whom was insisting she wasn’t using her phone while driving. With the disturbing prevalence of texting and driving, why is it that I didn’t believe her?

8. Not too far from that intersection was a mentally disturbed couple engaged in a heated F-rated conversation. As I got closer, the man leapt out of his wheelchair to grab the woman’s purse as the two of them continued to argue. Two blocks later, it was an argument I could still hear quite plainly.

9. Farther down St. Paul Street was a bum stretched out on a bench using his backpack as a pillow. But at least he wasn’t smoking.

10. It would have been nice if the staff at the Meridian Center had actually propped open the doors instead of leaving attendees to guess as to where to go. But I guess that’s asking a little too much.

11. Strolling through the souvenir store, the outrageously priced items that grabbed my attention were the $120 light jacket and the $45.95 golf shirt. With prices like that, it’s no wonder sightings of IceDogs paraphernalia around the region are rare, much like it was with the Fighting Moose in Winnipeg.

12. I keep hoping this will be the year the glass at the Meridian Center will see its historic first cleaning, but understandably, my optimism is waning.

13. The management at Meridian Center wants my feedback like they want a root canal without anesthetic. I’ve already given it to them. More than once. Publicly. What do they do about it? Nothing. What they really want is for people to tell them what a great job they’re doing so the bigwigs can pat themselves on the back, just like the politicos did at Lakeside Park earlier in the day.

13a. That $20 at the concessions sure won’t get you very far.

13b. Case in point, last night’s shortened menu:

13c. I could only shake my head when I walked past two teenage heavyweights standing near the concessions debating what to fill their faces with. It didn’t seem to occur to them that they didn’t need anything. Save your money and more importantly, your health.

13d. Am I just noticing it more or is obesity on the rise? Maybe it’s a little of both.

14. It’s “merchandise.” A common word. Not hard. And the space is there to print it out in full.

15. A few shots from around the rink:

16. The crowd was a little light as hockey in August is evidently not terribly popular. Even the team’s photographer was noticeably absent. But despite the few number of attendees, I did notice a few familiar faces, including some from past bus trips.

17. It is apparently not a proper IceDogs event unless the PA announcer introduces himself. Which he did. But he broke from tradition and didn’t introduce himself again after the game. It was a faux pas he is undoubtedly still kicking himself over and one he will surely never repeat again.

18. Did they really need to blow the horn after each goal? All it did was wake up the otherwise comatose “crowd.”

19. Seeing the name “Hooper” on the back of one of the linesmen made me think of “Jaws” and the scenes where the bounty hunter Quint kept yelling at the oceanographer.

20. This is the start of my fourth season since moving to St. Catharines, yet I’m already going on my third head coach, second mascot and have seen many front office people come and go. I’m getting to think that the IceDogs must give long-service awards after six months.

21. This year’s marketing slogan is “The New Age.” Isn’t every year a new age in junior hockey?

22. During the second period, an usher was walking through the stands handing out finger-licking-good wall-size posters with the home schedule and a little bit of his spit on it. It didn’t take me more than two seconds to spot the glaring error:

22a. It is incredible to think how many hands this passed through on its way to the printer, yet no one else seemingly caught it.

23. I wonder if that same usher remembers the game last year where he chased me down an aisle trying to force me to accept his “help.” He might not remember the occasion, but I do, and that incident will be among many featured in a future book I intend to start in a couple of years time on my fan experiences with the IceDogs, similar to what I did with the Fighting Moose. Some people will like it. Others won’t. He will likely fit into the latter category.

24. Spotted in the “crowd” was someone wearing a #31 Brent Moran jersey. There’s a player whose name will live in infamy longer than any other in the annals of IceDogs history.

25. For the record, the black team beat the white team by a score of 6-4. Now let the real games begin.

25 Aug

Back on the Road

Observations from a brief ride around the city today:

1. To the joggerette I passed on a side street first thing this morning: The perfume or body wash you use was meant to be applied a splash at a time. You’re not supposed to use the entire bottle. Try reading the instructions. They’re there, I promise. They even print instructions on soap bottles.

1a. Once I stopped coughing, I remembered a former colleague I had the misfortune of often being in the same building with decades ago who, like this joggerette, also applied perfume much too liberally. I would sometimes joke that she had three taps in her washroom at home, with one of them being for water.

2. I couldn’t help but notice some rubby-dub walking down Geneva completely engrossed in a conversation. With himself.

3. Why is there a Catherine Street in St. Catharines and a Catharine Street in Hamilton, Welland and Port Colborne? And a Catharine Crescent in Niagara Falls?

3a. How often do you think all the Catharines/Catherines get misspelled in this part of the world? It might be easier to count the number of times they are spelled correctly.

4. This sight reminded me of my former home city, which was one big off-leash dog park:

5. I’m sure everyone in the densely populated residential area I passed by around 7:30 this morning genuinely appreciated the construction worker using what appeared to be a leaf blower that I could hear from blocks away.

6. The chunky, bordering-on-obese joggerette I passed by on Pelham Road really needs to invest in a good sports bra. It was another of those unappealing sights I only wish I could un-see.

7. This sign in advance of the Pelham Road/MacTurnbull Drive/Louth Street intersection is one of the oddest I’ve ever seen:

8. More good deals on pre-owned furniture:

9. I’m not sure what language the mentally disturbed man I saw on Queenston Street was barking at the top of his lungs. About the only word of English he seemed to know started with the letter ‘F.’

10. Farther down the street was a man in a wheelchair with his cap out looking for donations with an equally good pair of lungs bellowing out some monosyllabic grunt-like words in a dialect I’m probably happy I don’t understand.

11. Queenston Street between Geneva and Eastchester is an, um, interesting place. Interesting as in don’t go there after dark.

12. What exactly is a “miked drink”?

13. Imagine my shock at seeing a city sign without one of our mayor’s re-election campaign slogans on it. He must be slipping.

13a. Do you really need to be told not to walk on the rocks?

14. I lost count of the number of dogs I spotted today, yet they all were on leashes. This is definitely not the Old Country.

10 Mar

IceDogs vs. Owen Sound

Thoughts and observations from last night’s game as the IceDogs took on Owen Sound at the Meridian Center:

1. It was only my fifth game of the year and first in over a month. As I explained to Matt at the IceDogs office on Wednesday, I still suffer from Battered Fan Syndrome.

2. En route, on the sidewalk in front of the PAC, someone passed by and said to her friend, “I forgot my backpack. Because I’m an idiot.” Who am I to argue?

3. As I normally do, in defiance of arena policies, I snuck in a cookie from home. If the ushers can bring their own food, so can I.

4. To humor myself, I took another tour of the souvenir shop. A tenth-anniversary golf shirt will run you $54.95, but a black golf shirt with the IceDogs logo was only $45.95. What a bargain. Or not.


Another interesting item was this knit Bones-styled toque. I think. Whatever it is, you too can have one for just $28. Earth to IceDogs: This. Is. Junior. Hockey. It’s not the NHL. And we live in St. Catharines. Not Toronto.

5. I know it’s getting old, but would you pay premium dollar to sit behind this hacked-up glass?


6. In the concourse behind section 108 was a crew from Cold FX soliciting passers-by to enter a contest to win what I later discovered to be a trip to Costa Rica. I can’t imagine how much someone would have to pay me to go there.

7. Left on the ground next to my seat was a River Lions game program. Evidently, this was an area the cleaning crew missed from their last game.


7a. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what “river” flows through St. Catharines.

8. I couldn’t believe my ears when the PA announcer, during his pregame schtick from the concourse, did not introduce himself. Now how in the world could the unwashed masses properly enjoy the game without knowing who he was?

9. As part of the pregame ceremonies, Mayor Walter L. Sendzik made a presentation to St. Catharines native Danial Singer, who plays for the IceDogs. As Mayor Sendzik made his way to center ice, the announcer mentioned two Garden City natives who had played in the NHL: Brian Bellows of the Montreal Canadiens and Gerry Cheevers of the Boston Bruins. Call me a stickler for detail, but Bellows played most of his pro career with the Minnesota North Stars and it would also have been proper to note Cheevers’ stint with the WHA’s Cleveland Crusaders. Let us also not forget St. Catharines native Mark Plantery, who I saw play for the (real) Jets at the Winnipeg Arena.

10. O Canada was sung entirely in Quebecese by students from Ecole Elementaire Champlain in Welland. That was seriously disrespectful, and the IceDogs should be deeply ashamed.

11. As has become a regular occurrence, my row was entirely marked as sold, yet there were only three others there. In addition, practically the entire section was marked as sold, but only half the seats were occupied.

12. What appeared to be a mother with her two daughters were at the end of my row and left their bags and coats while they went off somewhere, presumably to the washroom or to get “food.” How trusting of them. Then again, this is not the Old Country.


12a. Said mother with her daughters left one of their coats on the ground and made no effort to move it as I passed by. When returning to my seat, I made no effort to avoid stepping on it.

13. Someone seated in front of me had a notepad, and appeared to be a scout. Cue Paul Newman from Slap Shot

14. Scattered around the rink were some people from Owen Sound. They were pretty quiet all night, as was the rest of the crowd. Amazingly, Councillor Mat Siscoe posted a tweet in which he boasted about the “playoff atmosphere.” He must been tweeting about a different game. The only noise came from that stinking band that regrettably made another unwanted appearance.

15. On the other side of the rail to my left was a heavyweight who thoroughly enjoyed her Grimsby Grilled Cheese and accompanying fries that she washed down with a Sprite. In her case, it might better have been described as a Grimsby Girth Enhancer, as she needed it as much as I needed another hole in my head. Not to mention the fact that she probably paid more for her “meal” than she did for her ticket.

16. There was another heavyweight nearby who was sporting a Chipman hoodie. If he only knew.

17. During the first intermission, they had a presentation for Tim Vail, the Niagara Falls firefighter who lost his life trying to save a dog in Vineland in November 2015. Speaking was the great Marcel Dionne, who was seated in the next section to my left.

18. Oh by the way, there was a game going on. Down 3-1 after a first period in which they were dominated, the IceDogs rebounded with two in the second to tie the score heading into the third. Owen Sound promptly broke the tie, then added an insurance marker before the IceDogs made it interesting late. Unfortunately, they could get no closer and even with the sixth attacker, they could generate little offense and went down 6-4.

18a. This was not one of Stephen Dhillon’s better outings, though he was far from alone in that regard.

19. 5,163 were alleged to have been there, and I have to admit that figure was probably reasonably accurate.

20. On the way back, I spotted a sign in front of a bar on St. Paul Street that read, “Soup of the day: Whiskey.”

21. Getting on the bus in front of me was someone with a Dallas Cowpeople jacket. He was also mentally challenged. Coincidence? You be the judge.

20 Jan

IceDogs vs. Guelph

Thoughts and observations from last night’s IceDogs game as they took on the Guelph Storm:

1. It had been more than two months since the Meridian Center last saw my shadow. It was nice to return, but I couldn’t say I missed it a whole lot. I go to games nowadays for writing fodder, not as a rabid fan.

2. When stopping at the IceDogs office to pick up my ticket around noon, I spotted none other than Bill Burke in the parking lot.

3. After selecting my seat, I inquired as to what was involved if I wanted to bring my DSLR camera to the game. For those who are unaware, in a policy even more restrictive than the customer-hostile NHL, the league and team require all DSLR cameras to be registered with the office prior to any game.

So instead of what I expected to be a simple procedure, I was told I had to track down Matt, who apparently was the Grand Poobah of Camera Registration in addition to his other duties. But he was not currently in the office. Groan. So, while leaving, who do I see in the parking lot but Matt. I caught up with him and followed him back inside, and all he did was print the date on a blank media pass, tell me I couldn’t sell the pictures, hand the pass to me and send me on my way.


I can certainly understand why not just any staff member would be able to handle something so complex.

Or not.

Groan.

But there you have it, IceDogs fans, for those of you who were so inclined to bring your DSLR camera to a game. Your welcome.

3a. Though Matt warned me I might have to show the media pass if any of the security people noticed, no one did. Not that I expected them to.

4. I again got a seat right alongside a rail, the only one in the row not marked as sold. Yet, once again, I was the only one in the row.


Methinks a little Fighting Moose math might be in play here. Loyal readers may remember those days when crowds of 3,500 or so were reported as upwards of 7,000.

5. I wonder if all these seats were marked as “sold” as well:


6. En route to the Meridian Center before the game, I passed by a church with this sign out front.


As I’ve said before, people in this part of the world know nothing about real cold.

7. Also en route to the game, I spotted someone running across the street yelling “AAAAAAAAA!!” at the top of his lungs. On a related note, on January 25, let’s talk about mental health issues. #BellLetsTalk

8. Just after going inside, I spotted an older gentleman with tubes up his nose carrying a canister of oxygen. Now that’s dedication.

9. In the washroom was a poster for a new “regional menu” at the concessions near section 105. New, or at least rebranded, was Pelham Poutine for $10, a Fort Erie Footlong for $10, Niagara Nachos for $10, St. Catharines Steak Sandwich for $12, Grimsby Grilled Cheese for $10 and Thorold Tater Tots for $8. No Wainfleet Watermelon, West Lincoln Waffles, Port Colborne Pickerel, Niagara-on-the-Lake Noodles or Lincoln Latte. I’m sure those respective municipalities are heartbroken over being omitted.

10. Passing by the Crime Stoppers booth, I noticed they were selling T-shirts for $5, polo shirts for $10 and hoodies for $20. A couple of people stopped and asked if they could buy some only to be told they wouldn’t be ready for about 20 minutes. Did they not know we were coming? (eyeroll)

11. Niagara College was the game sponsor and had a booth in the end behind the retractables. In addition to giving out three $1,000 credits toward tuition, they were giving out free suckers at their table. So it’s only suckers who go there? It reminded me of a job fair I once attended back in the Old Country hosted by the feds. Their promo item was a screwdriver, reminding you that you always get screwed by the government.

12. That stinking band made another appearance. Gratuitous noise for the sake of making noise. But at least they weren’t as annoying as they have been in the past. Or maybe I’m just getting used to paying money for the privilege of being annoyed.

13. In another effort to make himself the star of the show, the announcer whose name I will not mention was doing his pregame schtick from the concourse. The announcer’s job is to inform. Nothing else. A topic to be covered at considerable length in a future book.

13a. When listing the scratches for Guelph, for someone normally so well-spoken, he sure got tongue-tied on “Tetrault.”

13b. There will be people who will like that book. There will be people who will not. He will fall into that latter category.

14. The pregame ceremonies featured a curlerette who will be participating in the upcoming tournament to be held here in St. Catharines. The applause she got was marginally polite, at best.

14a. Was there really anyone who lined up for her autograph during the first intermission?

15. The kids from Richmond Street Public School struggled with the anthem duties, but they came through it reasonably well. The best part, as always, was that they sung the anthem entirely in the Canadian language.

16. A father and son seated a few rows in front of me were the lucky winners of the “move of the game” down to the ice-level seats. Given the condition of the glass, untouched by human hands in over two years, it’s a prize I would have declined. Seriously.

17. I continue to find it amazing what people will share with perfect strangers as they spend more time texting than watching the game. For example, a young woman seated one row in front of me was having a conversation about a doctor appointment and how a 63-year-old relative was battling cancer. Later, she congratulated a friend named Owen over getting a job and asked if he was going to see Zack, then moved on to Ben, another of her many male friends.

18. More people seem interested in playing games on their phones between periods than in the intermission events.

19. Bones made a couple of appearances in my area. His presence is always welcomed by the under-12 crowd.


20. Here, fans stood up and yelled for a prize from CAA. It reminded me of a promotional mailing I got from them recently, offering me a discounted membership and other incentives to join. For those who are unaware, I have never attempted to obtain a license to drive a motor vehicle.


21. A very pudgy teenage girl seated nearby was wearing a pink shirt with a pig’s face on it. How fitting.

22. Looking around at all the IceDogs and Leafs jerseys in the crowd made me appreciate not seeing all that Chipman gear around town like I did back in the Old Country.

23. Last night, I felt more a part of this community than I did ever before. Don’t ask me why.

24. Early in the third period, they were trying to get chants of “DAAAAY-O” going. For an evening game. Go figure.

25. Oh by the way, there was a game going on. After blowing a 2-0 third-period lead, Oliver Castleman’s weak dump-in from center ice with 23.1 seconds left somehow eluded goaltender Liam Herbst and gave the IceDogs a 3-2 victory.

26. I’m not sure if the crowd was happier over the victory or the fact that they’d get a free cheeseburger at Wendy’s for the goal in the final minute of the third period.

27. 4,759 were alleged to have been at the game. Debate it at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not the next time you visit Clifton Hill.

19 Nov

IceDogs vs. Ottawa

Thoughts and observations from the game last night as the IceDogs rallied to beat Ottawa:

1. There was an exceptional amount of traffic and activity downtown before and after the game. Our mayor thinks that’s a good thing. I’m not sure I agree with him.

2. In the washroom before the game, I spotted someone putting in eye drops after doing his business at the urinal. Then he went to wash his hands. You just can’t make stuff like this up.

3. Someone nearby took her seat and proceeded to devour an order of ketchup with some chicken fingers and fries on the side. In the second period, someone had an order of gravy with some fries on the side. They are condiments, not meals.

4. During the warmup, LauraLeigh came to escort a couple of nearby fans down to the “best seats in the house” as part of a promotion they hold every game. Instead of watching the game through Gary Bettman’s gift to the world, they got to sit in a sofa at ice level and attempt to follow the play through the grimy glass. I think I got the better view.

5. Despite how wide and spacious the seats at the Meridian Center are, some guy a few rows in front of me had trouble fitting into his. Maybe that will be the final straw for him to get off the “see food” diet.

5a. This heavyweight bore a striking facial resemblance to a late ex-colleague of mine.

6. Just when you think the IceDogs P.A. announcer can’t possibly engage in more self-promotion, he does. In addition to his customary pair of self-serving introductions every game, now he gets his name and face on the big screen before the game. I swear he must be convinced that fans pay to hear him announce rather than to watch the game.

6a. So as not to give him more of the attention he craves, I refuse to identify him.

7. As part of the pregame ceremonies, the four newest members of the St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame were introduced. One of them had apparently attended St. Catharines Collegiate, so the announcer made sure to tell us that St. Catharines Collegiate was in St. Catharines. Here I thought it was in Welland. Thanks so much for clearing that up.

8. A girls’ choir from Governor Simcoe Secondary School did a fine job with the anthem. Even better, they were fully clothed and did it entirely in the Canadian language.

9. Every section seems to have its own Howie Meeker wannabee and mine was no exception. I kept hearing “come on” and “keep an eye on him” from this guy who, like so many others, must think the players can hear and will listen to him.

10. The usher in the next section looked like Sean Connery when he played the submarine captain in The Hunt for Red October.

11. One of the groups in attendance was from St. James Catholic School. Back in the Old Country, I lived in St. James for many years.

12. One fan had no problem making himself right at home.

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13. During the game, there was a giveaway for a CAA card in a nearby section. It reminded me of a hotel where I once worked back in the Old Country that was “CAA Approved.” As one snarky painter who did some work there once said, it was approved by the cockroaches, ants and animals, not the Canadian Automobile Association.

14. During a second-period TV timeout, someone proposed to his girlfriend and she said “yes.”

15. A senior in the next section had a nose ring. It looks awful on an 18-year-old and it looks even more out of place on someone who should know better.

16. In the second period, there was another classic Bengt Lundholm moment when Kyle Langdon went through the Ottawa defense only to have the puck dribble off his stick.

17. Despite giving up a bad goal in the second period when he misplayed the puck behind his net, Stephen Dhillon looked better. Less awkward. He still needs more playing time, but there’s been some noticeable improvement since the last time I saw him.

17a. Entering the third period, it was looking like that miscue was going to cost his team the game, but his teammates rallied to take him off the hook.

18. Full marks to the boys for the aforementioned third-period rally to pull out the two points. Unlike what happened too often over the past couple of years when an early deficit meant “game over,” they kept working and were justly rewarded for their efforts.

19. Despite the two goals, Aaron Haydon still looks like a fish out of water up front. He belongs back on the blue line.

20. 4,698 was the announced attendance. Reduce it by 10 or 15% for the actual figure.

21. Fans began leaving during a third-period TV timeout with 9:07 left. What is this, the Old Country?

22. On the bus after the game, everyone without exception said “thank you” to the driver on their way out. On second thought, this is definitely not the Old Country.

29 Oct

IceDogs vs. Barrie Colts

Thoughts and experiences from the IceDogs loss to the Barrie Colts last night:

1. En route, I was following a couple delivering the sub-Standard. What exactly is the point of subscribing to a paper that’s delivered so late in the day that it’s obsolete before it hits your door?

2. Also en route, I passed by a shop selling bamboo steamers for $10.99 a pop. A bamboo steamer is just one fish dinner away from becoming the first item you make available for your next garage sale.

3. Being the last game before Halloween, many were dressed in costumes for the occasion I just don’t get. The ticket takers, the people working the concessions and paying customers like these got into the act on masse:

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3a. Was there anyone on the peninsula besides me who wasn’t part of the parade of costumes during the second intermission?

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4. It’s nothing new where the Meridian Center is concerned, but would you pay premium dollar to sit behind this:

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5. For the second straight game this year, there was no usher at my section. I can only hope to be so lucky at future games.

6. Someone was kind enough to leave some complimentary gum at the end of the aisle and the cleaning staff was equally kind in not removing it. But at least my seat was clean.

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7. I ask again, why is Horizon advertising? Do we have a choice as to where we get our power from?

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8. On the boards was an ad from Wawanesa Insurance, who recently entered into a new sponsorship agreement with the CHL. The last time I saw one of those, I was at a Fighting Moose game in the Old Country. For those who are not aware, Wawanesa is the name of a small village in the Old Country where I once visited.

9. In addition to the many costumes spotted around the rink, many fans came dressed as empty seats.

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Take this row, for example, one that was marked as completely sold out. For some strange reason, I had a flashback to those Fighting Moose days when Chipman’s staffers would pretty much pull attendance numbers out of thin air. And not just because former Fighting Moose goaltender Mike Rosati was behind the Barrie bench.

9a. The announced attendance figure of 4,768 was as phony as a three-dollar bill. Doubtful if much more than 4,000 were actually there.

9b. On a night with an artificially inflated attendance figure, it was so fitting that the season ticket holder of the game wasn’t even there. Friends had to accept his stick and gift card to the Seaway Mall on his behalf.

10. It was nice to see former Jet Dale Hawerchuk behind the Barrie bench once again despite the fact that this time last week, he was back in the Old Country sleeping with the enemy, so to speak.

11. This was the first time I had seen the new Tee Pees banners since they were raised last month. The IceDogs might have had another customer that night had they not been so secretive about the alumni who were attending. Or maybe I was just supposed to know.

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12. In the Barrie lineup was Jaden Peca, cousin of Michael, who was best known for his blindside hit on Teemu Selanne in Vancouver.

13. The kids from Senator Gibson Public School did a good job with the anthem, thankfully sung entirely in the Canadian language.

14. I spotted a few fans like this one wearing that hideous gay jersey. I know the Burkes try their best to do the right thing, but they really crossed the line when they forced the players to wear those duds. I fully support the right of anyone to live as they wish, but as a good friend of mine says, stop shoving it down my throat.

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15. Several fans in the section to my left were wearing Seahawks paraphernalia. It is a sight that normally would have brought a smile to my face, but I have not watched an NFL game since early September. I cannot support organizations that insult America, and part of me wants to burn every piece of NFL paraphernalia I own.

16. It was nice to see the Whale across the ice:

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17. During the game, they announced that anyone with an IceDogs ticket can work out for free at Good Life Fitness for the rest of October. Gee, what a deal.

18. Oh by the way, there was a game going on. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a classic. Neither team really deserved to win. But this is a “take your lumps” year and rest assured, more lumps are coming for the boys in white.

18a. I know they’re young and still learning, but the IceDogs were proudly showing off their pylon defense for most of the night.

19. Needing a goal in the last round of the shootout to stay alive, coach Dave Bell sends out … Ryan Mantha. Is that a compliment to the big, lumbering defenseman or a slap in the face to the young shooters on the bench?