Category Archives: St. Catharines

11 Nov

Around Town – Lost Cat, Blubber, Air-Conditioned Meals and More

Pictures and observations from a stroll around town:

1. Maybe if “mommy” cared more, the cat would be safe at home.

2. I guess if you eat enough of it, you will become “blubberry.”

3. It’s nice that the take-out orders are air conditioned, but what about the restaurant?

4. Graffiti around downtown:

5. No furniture credit union?

6. There’s a missing “S” on this sign …

7. As opposed to, say, Ukrainian burritos …

8. This brought a smile to my face …

9. Give us this day our daily bread …

10. But why?

11. When dad takes over the business, it will be known as “Pa.”

12. Don’t you wish our governments would heed this advice?

13. Yes, Ontario is the Great Salt Republic. The astute reader will notice the lack of precipitation.

14. Drive “traffice” to your business …

15. No doubt this will be taken down posthaste as some Muslims might be offended …

16. Personally, I prefer a less violent bath. But to each his own.

17. Just take a spin through an empty lot …

08 Oct

Around Town – Canes, Joggers, Pet Blessings and More

1. This was the second straight time I’ve been out where I spotted someone carrying a cane. From the wrong end.

2. I know I’ve said this before, but I wonder if people are aware of how stupid they look while jogging.

3. Is this a boob job for a turkey?

4. Shot of Port Dalhousie this morning:

5. What’s next, have Rover take communion? Maybe get baptized?

6. If you truly cared about “the defender of your home” with a wonky back leg, you wouldn’t have let it get loose in the first place.

6a. I feel sorry for the cat, but not for the owners.

7. I reported this hazard in the bike lane on Martindale Road some time ago. Sadly, fixing it doesn’t seem to be a big priority with the Region.

8. When approaching a light where there are two turning lanes with the one on the left being empty and a cyclist in the other, why on earth would a motorist decide to pull up behind the cyclist?

9. The lizard doesn’t command me …

10. Further to my observations on the rise of obesity …

11. It’s nice to see there are programs available for the liberals in our community. After all, as our mayor/municipal Liberal ambassador likes telling us, we are a compassionate city.

12. The pigs of Meadowvale Road:

13. Chapter 786 of “The SPRM Continues to Follow Me Around” …

14. Just leave your junk out on the curb …

01 Oct

IceDogs Home Opener 2017

Thoughts and observations from the Niagara IceDogs’ 2017-2018 home opener against the visiting Erie Otters to kick off my fourth season of IceDogs hockey since relocating to St. Catharines:

1. Don’t ask me why, but the drivers on the road on the way to the rink seemed to be in a particularly ornery mood. Maybe because it was Friday night.

2. I passed by two people with dogs and both had their canines on leashes. This is not the Old Country.

3. Sign of the times: A woman sitting in a park with her head down busy with her phone and not paying the slightest bit of attention to her children.

4. Odd sightings en route: A biker sitting in a bar was a spitting image of the poor sap whom Arnold Schwarzenegger targeted in the opening scene of Terminator 2. Not more than two blocks later, the cyclist I spotted on Welland Avenue bore a striking facial resemblance to former IceDog Brendan Perlini.

5. Maybe I’m just noticing them more, but many, shall we say, diverse characters were coming out of the woodwork as I made my way through downtown. One of the strangest was a woman lying on the ground who was so disoriented after getting up that she nearly staggered into me. I don’t want to know the substance she was under the influence of.

6. The purpose of this headless mannequin on St. Paul Street is …

7. Why our civic leaders are celebrating the installation of a crosswalk half a block from a traffic light as a great accomplishment is something I don’t quite understand.

8. The long line on the Rankin Gateway of people waiting for the privilege of getting in.

9. When we were finally allowed in around 6:05, ravenous and rude rent-a-copettes were again rifling through bags and purses just as they had been back when the building first opened. In response to complaints, the practice had since been greatly relaxed, but it’s apparently back and with a vengeance. I hope it’s not the case of the new general manager looking to flex his muscle in order to impress his masters at SMG.

9a. Being among the thick crowds, I was able to run a pass pattern to avoid them and sneak in a juice box. Take that, SMG!

10. Outrageously priced souvenir item of the night: A baby outfit for $15.

11. This season’s menu and prices at the concessions, which did a booming business:

11a. The two women seated to my immediate left each had a mozza burger and three beers and shared a tub of popcorn, spending more than double the cost of their respective tickets in the process. And they probably drove home.

11b. Seeing how much cash people blow at the concessions, it’s no wonder the governments they elect spend money so wildly.

12. Obligatory scoreboard and center ice shots:

13. The usher at section 106 who was standing in the middle of the aisle acted as if she was doing me a big favor when she got out of my way. The role of an usher is to help patrons, not to obstruct passageways. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

13a. Note to IceDogs ushers: Being a volunteer does not entitle you to annoy the living daylights out of paying customers.

14. There was a booth from a radio station offering a chance to win tickets to see Elton John at the Meridian Center. The school project I was forced to do on him in Grade 4 is the only reason I even know who Elton John is.

15. New sponsors this year include Niagara Airbus, whose service brought me from Pearson Airport to my new home on the historic day of August 1, 2014 when I became an Ontario resident, as well as OPSEU, which is advertising on the ice and on one of the Zamboni machines. Like I always wondered with MGEU, why do they feel the need to advertise? It’s not as though public sector employees can go to another union.

16. Sadly, Horizon Utilities remains a sponsor. I still do not understand why does a publicly owned utility with a monopoly has any need to spend money to promote its brand. And why the municipalities which own Horizon/Alectra do not put a stop to this frivolous practice with an iron fist.

17. I liked this clever IceDogs-themed ad:

18. There were many familiar faces in the crowd. Perhaps I’m becoming one of them. After all, this is a small town.

19. Among the crowd of 4,768 that, if anything, was under-reported, was a big contingent from the Commonwealth who came to see their team, including the group in my row. Seated to my immediate right was a 40-something teenager who spent the entire night trying to become the next Howie Meeker. Her favorite player appeared to be Christian Girhiny, whom she first called “Pogo” then later “Coco.” Her calls of “hit ‘em,” “skate, Jordan,” “Jordan, what are you doing?” and “get up there, get up there” were pretty tame, but I nearly jumped when she yelled “Shoooot!”

20. Seated in the section to my right was a woman in her 20s with “LOVE ME Always and Forever” emblazoned on the back of her blouse. Are people that desperate for affection?

21. Sadly, the band was back, but at least they weren’t too obnoxious.

22. The presence of so many higher, designer numbers on this year’s roster is further proof Marty Williamson is no longer in charge.

23. I’ve officially lost hope that the glass will ever be cleaned in that building. Worse yet, the floor beneath my seat was so sticky that I had to keep moving my feet during the game to avoid the risk of having my shoes permanently adhere to it. I suppose the off-season wasn’t long enough for them to clean the place properly. *eyeroll*

24. Before the game, I did another eyeroll as they again showed the “Hockey Night in Niagara” graphic on the scoreboard. Funny, but I don’t see any other Niagara municipality rushing to help pitch in to help retire the debt and share in the cost of maintaining the building. Yet they’re more than willing to share in the glory and celebrate the IceDogs as a regional team. Yes, that remains a sore point.

25. Among the hockey operations staff introduced before the game was the IceDogs’ new director of analytics. Seriously? This is junior hockey, not the NHL. Let the kids have a little fun, for the love of Pete(tm).

26. Dear public address announcer whose name I will not repeat since he loves to promote himself so much: We know that St. Catharines, Thorold, Mississauga and Oakville are in Ontario. When giving the player’s hometown in the introductions, you don’t have to repeat it each and every time. Even if we didn’t know, the fact that we’re at an Ontario Hockey League game might give it away.

27. It was a nice touch to honor longtime season ticket holders and others in the IceDogs family who had passed away in the off-season with a moment of silence before the game.

28. The Grand Avenue Public School choir handled the anthems poorly and sadly, did part of the Canadian anthem in Quebecese. Not cool.

29. The winner of the “Move of the Game” was a little kid named Gavin, the same name of the lead character in Shattered Dreams, my fifth book.

30. When visiting the washroom, I noticed many people using the sinks as well as the urinals. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

31. Oh by the way, there was a game going on. The first period was relatively uneventful, and despite the rash of penalties called in the second, it wasn’t until the 16:45 mark that the IceDogs opened the scoring. Erie answered just over a minute later, but the IceDogs regained the lead early in the third and put the game away with two more late in the period.

32. In the third period, I laughed as Elijah Roberts tried to put a spinerama move on an attacking Erie forward at the Otters’ blue line. Kid, you’re not the second coming of Serge Savard.

33. The IceDogs saluting the crowd after the game:

34. While waiting for the bus after the game, I spotted a guy wheeling a bike to the platform. He likely didn’t know it, but his bike needed a new cog. He also seemed to have a great deal of trouble figuring out how to read the board showing when the next buses are coming. They taught us that in Grade 8, but it didn’t look like he had gotten that far in school before dropping out. Or flunking out, if they allow that these days with the “no-fail” policies in place.

35. On the bus, the back door opened automatically and all but one departing passenger thanked the driver. You’ve heard this before, but this is not the Old Country.

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.