I won't pretend to know enough about these two teams to make an informed post about whether or not they played up their specs or not. What I can do is describe the experience for those who could not make it today. If you are looking for a gamer, check out The Third Intermission a little later today. Ms. Conduct herself was in the building, and I am certain she will do a superb job. Russo also has his take over on his blog.
Make the jump for my thoughts on the experience.
The game, from the very beginning seemed off. I knew the game would be slower, but I was not prepared for how sloppy it looked. Yes, I understand this is minor league hockey, and yes I get that it may just have been an off night. However, these did not look like teams that are challenging for the top spot in a professional hockey league.
The passing was much slower, far fewer were tape-to-tape, and they seemed to over skate the puck about every third or fourth time they touched it. The shots were wild, few were on target, and most that were were not strong. The goalies both looked pretty good, and the defense was solid.
Maybe both of these teams are defensive squads? Could be, but the whole game had me feeling as though I was at a NCAA match up, with slow ice, players sandbagging, and ice that was simply too big for the task at hand. Again, could be a normal speed AHL game, or it could just have been a bad day for both sides. Either way, while it was fun to watch, and was a new experience, it was still a bit... off.
The fans did not show up en masse, but there were likely 4-5000 in the building. 9140 announced, but this building was no where near half full. The crowd that was here was vocal, but too small to be the sixth man. Several times I heard one guy screaming at the Aeros. Not sure if he was a season ticket holder who made the trip, or just a passionate Minnesota based fan wanting to see "his side" win. Either way, the fans that did show up were awesome.
I think if the Wild could pull this off once a year, the word would spread, and fans would show up. The date change of the game may have played into it as well. The experience was very cool, and the fans I talked to really enjoyed it.
The really cool part? Tons of kids were there, and little kids. Two and three year olds checking out hockey. Wild games are spendy, so it gets tough to bring a two year old. This provided a perfect chance to get a kid to the games.
The Aeros lost. Not that a win would have made the experience monumentally better, but it would have given the fans something to cheer about. As I mentioned above, the whole thing seemed sloppy. Most likely some nerves from the Aeros, but that doesn't explain it from the Rivermen. Should have been just another road game for them.
The goal horn, for the loan Aeros goal, was piped in. They did not hit the fog horn. I didn't ask why, but I would guess either the operator was not there, or there is probably some cost involved there. Still, it would have been cool to have the real horn.
Tyler Cuma getting injured was pretty ugly. You never want to see a stretcher come out on the ice, but when it happens in an event like this, with so many kids around, it just added to the ugliness. Freak injury, and I did not see it happen (I was writing), but it is just not something you expect to happen in such an innocuous manner.
This is the latest of several injuries for Cuma, who has to have some of the worst hockey luck in the history of the game. He had worked so hard (Sorry Tom) to get back and into the Aeros lineup, and he was stoked at the prospect camp. Cuma is considered one of the top prospects for the Wild, but this won't help.
All reports say he was just starting to find his game, so I guess we can hope this doesn't set him back too far. As of this writing, we had no update on severity, but had been taken to see the same doctor who operated on his knee. The injury was described as "lower body" but it is his knee.
It was a cool event, and it was fun for the fans, so it was a success. The Aeros likely are not as excited about the result. The autograph sessions were a nice touch, something that likely boosted attendance. I enjoyed the experience, even if my NHL game snobbery may have ruined it for me a bit.
Hopefully the fans really did enjoy themselves, and hopefully the Wild do this again soon.
- Can Patrick O'Sullivan show Wild fans what they are missing? No. POS looked like a rookie out there, to be honest.
- Can we watch Borat without getting dizzy? He was surprisingly quiet in net.
- Heather tells us the AHL moves a little slower than the NHL. Do we notice? Oh, we noticed.
- Will Wild fans show up and support the Aeros? Eh. Not really, but the ones who showed were awesome.
- Does Stiffler's mom really got it goin' on? Didn't see her, but I hear good things.