11/06/2013 2:37 pm
The Anaheim Ducks return tonight to Honda Center following their longest road trip of the season, an eight-game, 15-day East Coast swing that saw them visit two countries as they played eight different contests against Eastern Conference teams.
Injuries aside, it was highly successful, as the Ducks come home with a 5-2-1 record on the trip and an overall record of 12-3-1 and 25 points, good enough for the top spot in both the Pacific Division and the league.
Yes, you read that right. Tops in the league. Just wait until this team gets healthy….
As they return for a quick three-game homestand before hitting the road again, what better way to support this team than to join the Anaheim Ducks Die Hards?
The team’s Official Booster Club, the Die Hards are back with membership kits for the Anaheim Ducks “super fan” in your house. Led by the Die Hards Advisory Committee of Terri Ticer (Events Liaison), Ann Marie Hull (Game Day Liaison), Jennie Schueller (Treasurer) and Karen Sheffield (VIP Liaison), this year’s kit offers some awesome items commemorating the club’s 20th Anniversary, as well as invitations to exclusive events.
Your $50 membership includes:
20th Anniversary Jersey Sleeve Blanket
20th Anniversary Mighty Ducks/Anaheim Ducks Reversible Beanie
Captain’s Series Bobblehead Set, featuring Ryan Getzlaf and Paul Kariya Bobbleheads (a third Scott Niedermayer Bobblehead is available for purchase at the Team Store to complete your Captain’s Series)
Die Hards Keychain made from 2012-13 Honda Center Playoff Glass
Ducks Third Jersey Mouse pad
Die Hards Membership Card
Invitation to Two Die Hards Road Trips
—Thursday, December 5 – Sunday December 8 to Chicago and St. Louis as the Ducks take on the Blackhawks and the Blues
—Saturday, January 25 as the Ducks take on the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium at part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series
Invitation to Exclusive Die Hards Skate Party, Sunday, December 29 at Honda Center
Invitation to Watch Parties, Volunteer Events and the End of the Year Party
Membership Benefits to places such as Hockey Giant, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, Knott’s Berry Farm, SpeedZone and more.
In addition, at each Ducks home game you can find the Die Hards outside Section 214, where they offer “Puck for a Buck”, a chance for fans to purchase raffle tickets for $1 towards the opportunity to win a puck autographed by a Ducks player. All proceeds from this and all sales and fundraising activities benefit the Anaheim Ducks Foundation.
The Die Hards also offer some great volunteer opportunities and loyalty rewards with the chance to earn points towards great prizes, such as Ducks team signed jerseys and sticks, through their VIP Program.
And my favorite part about this group is their outreach to our community, specifically their support of CHOC Children’s. I joined them for the third time last month as the Die Hards participated in the 23rd Annual CHOC Walk in the Park at the Disneyland Resort.
Behind the great work of Die Hards Treasurer Jennie Schueller, close to 50 dedicated Ducks fans raised almost $9,000 and got up before the sun to join 16,000 walkers in raising $1.8 million to support the care, family services, education and research that CHOC provides for the children in our region. Even though it’s an early day, I’m always so touched by this event and am proud to join my fellow Ducks fans in supporting such a vital part of our community.
These memberships are sure to sell out, so order yours today by either visiting ducksdiehards.com to purchase and pick up at Section 214 at Honda Center during any Ducks home game, or just stop by Section 214 and purchase your kit on the spot. And be sure to connect with the Die Hards through social media via their Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Even better, how about entering here to win a membership? The Ducks have been generous enough to provide us here at When Girls Love Hockey with one (1) Die Hards Membership Kit for a lucky winner. Just leave a comment below to enter by Monday, November 11, 2013 at 9:00pm and I’ll pick a winner via random.org.
And don’t forget to plan a visit to Honda Center this week to cheer on our 1st place Ducks! Click here to purchase tickets.
Good Luck and Go Ducks!!
This contest is now closed.
Congratulations to Pierre and thank you all for entering!
10/09/2013 9:42 pm
One of my favorite things about the arrival of fall, besides all things pumpkin and the start of the Anaheim Ducks hockey season, is participating in the CHOC Walk in the Park.
This will be my third year participating and I can’t wait to get out there and join my fellow Ducks fans with the team’s booster club, the Die Hards, for the 5K walk through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Parks this Sunday, October 13.
Last year, more than 16,000 people gathered to walk the route at the crack of dawn and raising over $1.8 million in support of Orange County’s only freestanding Children’s Hospital.
The Anaheim Ducks have had a longstanding relationship of support with CHOC Children’s, through events and fundraisers each season like CHOC Night at Honda Center and the Lady Ducks Fashion Show along with a presence at the hospital at the Anaheim Ducks Wing in the 3rd Floor Oncology Unit.
This year, the Ducks Die Hards have a goal of raising $15,000 to support CHOC and help ensure that the kids in our community and beyond continue to get the best healthcare treatment possible.
And personally, this year I will be walking in honor of a neighbor of mine, 3 month old Emilee Rose.
She was born in July with a severe heart condition, a coarctation of the aorta, which required her to undergo open-heart surgery at just three days old.
It was a terrifying and faith-stretching time for Emilee’s family, as procedures like this at such a young age come with many risks. They were surrounded in prayer and support by their extended family, friends and neighbors, and even those who didn’t know the family personally, but had heard of Emilee’s story.
The amazing surgeons and staff at CHOC operated on her tiny heart, no bigger than the size of a walnut, corrected the issue with her aorta and saved her life. Nothing short of a miracle from God, I am absolutely certain.
I know the family has a hard time finding the words to express how grateful they are to CHOC for their part in giving their sweet baby girl another chance at life.
And their story is just one of many, as witnessed by the signs, t-shirts and balloons that make their way through the Disneyland Park each year in honor of the children, families and lives that CHOC has touched.
If you’d like to support me as I walk for Emilee in this year’s CHOC Walk and feel led to make a donation to our Anaheim Ducks Die Hards team, click here for my personal page and select “Donate Now”.
Thank you!! Go CHOC!! Go Ducks!!
10/02/2013 11:26 am
Anaheim Ducks hockey is here!
The Ducks are celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, and it’s sure to be a good one. The team kicks off their season on the road October 2 against the Colorado Avalanche and then heads to Minnesota and Winnipeg before coming back to Orange County for their Home Opener at Honda Center on October 10.
As we typically do here at When Girls Love Hockey, we like to highlight all that the Ducks provide for kids and families who enjoy following the team and the sport. And one of my kids’ favorite things about the start of a new hockey season is the Wild Wingers Kids Club.
This year’s captain is Ducks goaltender Viktor Fasth.
The Swedish sensation became a fan favorite when he burst onto the scene last year, his first season in the NHL, and posted a 15-6-2 record with an 8-0-0 start and four shutouts. He’s the first goaltender in club history to win his first eight decisions as a Duck.
This season’s kit includes some fun things, including a nod to the Mighty Ducks and the club’s 20th anniversary, and items that highlight Fasth as the Kids Club Captain.
Here’s a list of what you’ll get for a very reasonable $25 per kit:
• One (1) FREE ticket voucher to a select 2013-14 Anaheim Ducks Home Game. Voucher can be used as credit towards any seat with the TICKET UPGRADE OPTION.
• Viktor Fasth Jersey T-Shirt
• Viktor Fasth Jersey Lunchbag
• “Think Fasth” Foam Goalie Mask
• 20th Anniversary Velcro Wallet with Member ID Card
• Wild Wingers Kids Club 12-Month Wall Calendar
• Free Hot Dog and Drink for One (1) Ducks Home Game
• Invitation to the Wild Wingers Kids Club VIP Skate Party at Honda Center
• Invitation to the Wild Wingers Kids Club Party at Boomers! Irvine
• Invitation to the annual Wild Wingers Kids Club End of the Year party at Knott’s Berry Farm, featuring an autograph session with Kids Club Captain Viktor Fasth, Wild Wing, and several other Anaheim Ducks players.
With the addition of a Member ID Card this season, just show your card for discounts at places like:
• Knott’s Berry Farm
• Discovery Science Center
• Soak City
• San Diego Zoo/Wild Animal Park
• Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific
• Boomers! Irvine
• Santa Ana Zoo
• Hockey Giant
• The Anaheim Ducks Team Store
• Various Ice/Roller Rinks in Southern California
Plus, as always, Wild Wingers Kids Club Members will be automatically entered into a drawing each week for great prizes such as Zamboni rider, Honorary Duck and more.
Before the boys left for Colorado, I caught up with Fasth and asked him what he thought about his very important role as Kids Club Captain.
“It means a lot to me,” said Fasth of his new role. “For kids, that’s where hockey first starts. As a kid, I was always a fan of goalies and I enjoyed watching the older players play. It’s inspiring. And it’s very important for us as players to give something back and be a role model for these kids.”
During one of the Ducks preseason games at Honda Center, Fasth was outside Section 214 at the Kids Club counter, interacting with fans and signing autographs.
“It was cool. It was nice to meet all the people. They’re as excited as we are for the season, so I think it’s going to be fun.”
As far as favorite items in the kit, he’s the most fond of the Fasth foam goalie mask (of course) and the jersey lunchbag. He thinks his daughter will especially like that.
And Fasth is looking forward to the End of the Year Party at Knott’s Berry Farm, where he and several other Ducks players will be on hand to interact with fans and sign autographs.
“They mean so much to us,” Fasth said of the fans. “And we really appreciate their support.”
And just like the fans, the players are more than ready to get the regular season started.
“It’s been a long summer. We’re excited,” said Fasth. “We’ve got some unfinished business to take care of,” he said with a smile.
The Wild Wingers Kids Club Kits are on sale now. These are always such a great value and the perfect way to get your kids connected with this team and this great sport.
Just visit wildwingerskidsclub.com to place your order. Use Promo Code: FASTH before October 10 and receive $5 off.
Or, if you’d like the chance to win one, the Ducks have generously given me one Wild Wingers Kids Club Kit to give away here on the blog. To enter, just leave a comment below before 9:00pm, Monday, October 7, 2013 and I’ll pick a winner via random.org.
#ThinkFasth and Go Ducks!!
This giveaway is closed.
Congratulations to Ayers mom!
And thank you all for entering!
09/24/2013 5:51 pm
Anaheim Ducks players, announcers, Power Players, fans and staff piled into the OC Cruiser and hit the road last weekend for the #DucksCaravan, with stops throughout Orange County to help kick off the club’s 20th anniversary season.
First stop was Irvine Spectrum. Anaheim Ducks Sheldon Souray, Frederik Andersen and Sami Vatanen fielded questions from hosts Kent French and Brian Hayward before spending some time hanging with the fans.
They signed autographs, posed for photos, took some slap shots and handed out Ducks-themed sweet treats to those fans who had gathered in the Giant Wheel Courtyard.
Ducks t-shirts and sunglasses were distributed to the fans as well. And those who were up on their Ducks trivia won tickets to that night’s preseason contest against the Colorado Avalanche.
Eight lucky fans were along for the ride in the OC Cruiser, winners of social media contests held by the Ducks throughout the week leading up to the event.
Next stop was Fashion Island where fans had gathered near Bloomingdale’s awaiting the arrival of the caravan.
At this location, Luca Sbisa, John Gibson and Peter Holland mingled with fans. Sbisa answered questions about how he spent his summer, his injury and how he hopes to join his teammates back on the ice soon.
Wild Wing was on hand too, up to his usual mischief.
The OC Cruiser then headed back to Honda Center, where Sbisa took some more questions from Kent French outside of the arena and then fans filed inside for the 5:00 pm puck drop.
I think the more events like this, the better. I’ve always felt that in this market, one of the things that differentiates our pro hockey team from other pro sports is the accessibility of the players.
When the players can get out into the community and engage one-on-one with the fans, it makes the hockey experience that much richer. And when fans can spend some time getting autographs and photos with some of their favorite NHLers, they feel like they have more of a connection with the team.
I’d love to see this type of thing happen on a regular basis, to kick off the season or maybe even the start of the playoffs. There’s just nothing like seeing a kid’s eyes light up when he comes face to face with one of his hockey heroes.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for preseason to be over. Bring on the games that count! Drop the puck!
09/20/2013 12:52 pm
Hey Orange County!
Are you ready for Anaheim Ducks hockey?
The 2013-14 NHL season is upon us, and this year, the Anaheim Ducks are celebrating their 20th anniversary.
They will kick off the regular season on the road October 2 at Colorado and head back to Honda Center after a three-game road trip for their October 10 Home Opener against the New York Rangers.
But preseason games are happening now, and as the Ducks are getting warmed up for the season, they are getting their fans ready as well as they host the Anaheim Ducks Caravan this Sunday, September 22 and transform Orange County into “Ducks County”.
The “OC Cruiser” will be hitting the road, with Ducks players, announcers, Wild Wing and Power Players, and making three planned stops in OC throughout the day.
First stop will be at Irvine Spectrum. Fans should head over to the Giant Wheel Courtyard by about 12:30pm for Q&A sessions, interactive hockey games, giveaways and Duck-themed sweet treats.
Then follow the caravan as it makes its next stop in “Ducks County” at Fashion Island, near the Bloomingdale’s lawn at about 2:30pm.
The “OC Cruiser” will arrive for its last stop at Honda Center by about 4:00pm, which will get fans there in plenty of time for the Ducks 5:00pm preseason tilt against the Colorado Avalanche.
So what better way is there to get geared up for the 20th anniversary season of Ducks hockey than to put on your jersey and support your favorite hockey team by joining them as they caravan around Orange County?
For those active on social media, have your smart phones ready to document the adventure using the hashtag #DucksCaravan.
And don’t forget to print out your Ducks Caravan Passport to bring along for the ride. Attend all three stops of the Caravan, get your passport stamped and then bring it to Section 214 inside Honda Center and receive a 20th Anniversary Commemorative Teemu Selanne Print.
Hope to see you out there this Sunday!
**Photos courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks
09/19/2013 10:29 am
When Anaheim Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry each signed 8-year contract extensions last season, it insured that the two would remain a force for the Ducks not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.
One example of that off ice commitment was highlighted at Honda Center this week as both players were on hand, along with Ducks owner Henry Samueli, to launch the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play program powered by Ryan Getzlaf & Corey Perry.
The Learn to Play program, in its third year, is an introductory hockey program offered by THE RINKS that allows kids to try ice and inline hockey for free. What’s new this season is that Getzlaf and Perry have signed on to be involved in the grass roots program in a unique way.
First off, the two will attend some of the Learn to Play instructional sessions, as their schedule allows, getting the NHLers out there with the kids to help teach skating basics.
Additionally, for those kids who complete the Learn to Play program and then sign up for a full-season hockey program through THE RINKS, Getzlaf and Perry will purchase Bauer equipment for those players—equipment that they can keep–including skates, shoulder and elbow pads, shin guards, a helmet, hockey pants, gloves and a jersey.
This is awesome on many levels.
For starters, kids who have never tried hockey before will get the chance to be introduced to this great sport by two of the top players in the NHL.
And if they enjoy it and decide to continue playing, they’ll get their first set of gear paid for by the pros.
As youth sports go, hockey can seem kind of daunting. And expensive. Having a free introductory program available for kids to try it out and see if they even like it makes it much more approachable. And then if they do like it, having the initial equipment costs covered is a great way to help make the sport accessible for more families.
To kick off this program, Getzlaf and Perry took to the Honda Center ice with 60 very lucky 5th graders from Maranatha Christian Academy in Santa Ana, one of the schools enrolled in the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation & Education).
Along with instructors from THE RINKS Learn to Play program, Getzlaf and Perry worked with the kids on skating drills, puck and stick handling and even joined in some scrimmage games.
“It’s great to be out here with the kids, helping them learn to skate and putting smiles on their faces,” said Getzlaf. “It’s important to keep it fun for them.”
And these 5th graders were indeed smiling. Some of the kids knew how to skate, and others were rookies. But no matter their experience level, they were happy to be out on the ice with the Ducks.
“It’s an absolute privilege to be here today,” said Maranatha Christian Academy Principal, Greg Steinhaus. “We’ve had a great relationship with the Ducks for many years through S.C.O.R.E. and we’re happy to help them introduce this program.”
And 10-year-old Erin, one of the Maranatha Christian Academy 5th graders, was enjoying the morning skate as well.
“I’m having fun,” she said. “I like skating and playing hockey with my friends.”
As the core and the future of Ducks hockey, it’s great to see Getzlaf and Perry make a long-term commitment not only to the organization, but to our community as well.
“Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are two of the preeminent players in the NHL and to have their involvement in this brings prominence and legitimacy to the program,” said Anaheim Ducks Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Teats.
“They are the future of our organization and their commitment shows they truly care about the growth of hockey in Southern California,” said Teats.
My own daughter got her start in hockey through a Learn to Play program. It’s a no-cost, low-commitment way for kids to give the sport a try. If your child has even the slightest interest in ice or inline hockey and you’d like to explore it further, this type of program is definitely the way to go.
And who would pass up on the chance to skate alongside a couple of Anaheim Ducks?
I know my kids wouldn’t.
The four-week Learn to Play program will be offered through several of THE RINKS locations, which include both ice and inline hockey. Sessions are planned over the next few months, with some sessions already sold out due to high demand. For more information and to register, visit anaheimducks.com/learntoplay
**Top photo courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks
05/22/2013 7:44 am
The Anaheim Ducks may have hung up their skates for the summer, but there is still plenty of hockey being played all over Orange County.
The past two weekends have seen the Ducks host two of their largest youth hockey events, the sixth annual S.C.O.R.E. Street Hockey Shootout and the second annual i3 Roller Hockey League Championship.
(For more on the Ducks i3 Roller Hockey League Championship, click here for a recap of the day-long event held at The Rinks – Irvine Inline.)
In the shadow of Honda Center and surrounded by palm trees, over 350 4th graders from 23 local elementary schools took to the parking lot pavement for the some street hockey in the sun.
As a part of the Ducks’ S.C.O.R.E. (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation & Education) program, the Street Hockey Shootout tournament is the final component of an in-school program that includes 45 schools and over 4,500 kids who are playing street hockey as a part of their physical education classes. Funded by the Anaheim Ducks Foundation, the program is free to participating schools and includes a full set of street hockey equipment, training for the P.E. instructors and a 10-day curriculum.
The morning kicked off bright and early with Opening Ceremonies, welcoming all of the teams, players and their families to the tournament. Then each school participated in “round robin” style play, with the best from each pool moving on to elimination play.
In a rematch from last year’s tournament, the finals featured Friends Christian from Yorba Linda, reigning champion for the past five years, and Fairmont Private from North Tustin facing off for the S.C.O.R.E. Cup.
Wild Wing ceremonially dropped the puck and Anaheim Ducks In-Arena Host Kent Walls called the play-by-play, while Ducks Director of Fan Development Matt Savant gave the color commentary for the battle for the top spot.
The game was surprisingly intense. Fairmont jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but in the second half, not willing to give up their possession of the Cup, Friends Christian stormed back with five unanswered goals and won the game, 6-3.
Friends Christian’s goaltender, Blake Coelho, was named the tournament MVP. He was 6-0 on the day, with 1 goal against in group play. And after a rocky start in the final game, he stood tall, giving his team a chance for that sixth consecutive championship.
You would have thought it was Lord Stanley’s Cup that was awarded, as Coelho and his teammates ran around the parking lot, taking turns carrying the S.C.O.R.E. Cup over their heads. A tough loss for Fairmont, but smiles all around for Friends Christian as they continue to dominate this tournament.
Although her school didn’t participate in the tournament, my own 4th grader played street hockey for the first time this year at her school during P.E. class.
And she loved it.
Her classmates really got into it, and she updated me every time they played to let me know how her team was doing. When it came time for the final game of the year to determine the “champion”, she talked about it the whole way to school. Her team was the underdog and she was fully prepared to come home with the loss.
But as it happens in sports, sometimes the underdog pulls off the victory. She could hardly contain her excitement as she told me about their big win that day. There were tears and high-fives, but overall, plenty of fun. The kids had a great time. And after watching her little sister play ice hockey for the last year and a half, I know she truly enjoyed getting the chance to play this great sport too.
This is just one of the ways that the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program is reaching local kids through the sport of hockey. Whether it’s the street hockey program, donating 18,000 sets of school supplies, hosting the math and science based field trip, First Flight, at Honda Center, encouraging kids to read with their incentive-based program, Reading is the GOAL, or motivating kids to eat better and stay fit through the Captain’s Challenge program, the Ducks are impacting over 27,000 students from 250 local schools annually. And I suspect it’s an even larger number than that.
Another big thank you from this Orange County parent to the Anaheim Ducks for making a lasting impact in our local kids through education, health and hockey.
If you haven’t seen the May issue of OC Register Family Magazine, be sure to check out Suz’s Editor’s Note where she shines the spotlight on the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. program. Here’s a link to the digital version of the issue. Page 16.
05/14/2013 8:53 am
Sunday night I sat in my car, in the darkness of the Honda Center parking lot, for what seemed like 30 minutes.
It was probably only three.
I had a hard time bringing myself to put my key into the ignition.
Because if I did drive away from the arena, I would be forced to acknowledge that the Ducks season is actually over.
Truthfully, their season ended long before the final buzzer in their 3-2 Game 7 loss, and series loss, to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarter Finals. In a “win or go home” situation, the Ducks were outplayed by the Wings from the drop of the puck. Another notoriously bad start saw them down 1-0 less than two minutes into the contest, and they spent the rest of the night chasing the game instead of playing it.
And although they showed a bit of life late in the final period, as Francois Beauchemin scored with just over three minutes remaining to bring the Ducks within one, I knew in my gut that we were not going to witness one of those miraculous comebacks that we had seen from this team all season.
As time expired, Corey Perry collapsed to his knees in a display of honest emotion rarely seen from the reserved winger.
And that was it. Season over.
The Ducks eventually gathered to make their way through the customary series-ending handshake line. And then they slowly raised their sticks, with the weight of the loss bearing down on them, to salute the home crowd who stayed to thank the team for their extraordinary season. Emotional doesn’t begin to describe the moment.
Standing in the dressing room after the game wasn’t any easier. One by one, as the players walked in to address the media, they didn’t have to say a word for me to know the disappointment that they were experiencing. I could see it on their faces.
But the professionals that they are, they kept their composure, didn’t make excuses and praised their teammates. They win as a team, and they lose as a team.
And Teemu. Oh, Teemu.
Many of us hung around, waiting for him, waiting to hear his reaction. Always the gentleman, he was (obviously) disappointed.
“We have to learn something from this,” Selanne said. “I think we deserved better than this, but that’s hockey. You never know. The playoffs are so much fun and very disappointing to be out of it right now, the first round. We were looking forward to going further and enjoying this more. That’s why it’s so tough. It’s too late now.”
And per the usual, he wouldn’t comment on his future, acknowledging that he needed time to clear his head before he could make such a decision.
Is this the way it ends for the Great 8? I won’t let my mind go there.
I’ve written before about this inherent need in sports to have a reason for why a game, series or season ends badly, as if there needs to be some explanation beyond the obvious.
I think for some fans, it helps them process the loss. There are plenty of well-written explanations as to why the Ducks lost this series to Detroit.
Whether you believe “Boudreau was outcoached” or “the Ducks’ best players weren’t their best players”, or that “they didn’t play with enough urgency”, it’s all out there.
But for me, the explanations do little to ease the heartbreak. And they never change the outcome.
I may be over simplifying this, but I will tell you that on Sunday night, I saw a Red Wings team that played better than the Ducks, and beat them.
That’s it. And that’s sports.
At the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are 29 teams and their fan bases who will be experiencing some level of disappointment. Only one team emerges as the winner. This year, it isn’t the Ducks.
And I will tell you that when you stand a few feet from the players’ faces after a gut-wrenching Game 7 playoff loss and see the raw emotion in their eyes, it doesn’t ever leave your mind. Do not think for a second that their hearts weren’t in this. Their disappointment will not fade quickly, I assure you.
As I finally drove out of the Honda Center parking lot, the emotions came flooding over me, the same emotions I had forcefully kept shoved down for the better part of three hours.
In all honesty, it felt like someone had ripped out my heart, stomped on it, then tossed it onto the ice, where someone else promptly emerged from the Zamboni tunnel with a cold, metal shovel, quickly scooped it up and threw it into a trash bin.
And I doubt I was alone in my reaction.
But as I drove home in silence, I decided it would be best to reflect back on what a success this Ducks season has been.
When a team goes from 13th in the Western Conference to 2nd, and from last place in the Pacific Division to first–in one year–I think that’s a season worth celebrating.
Not many picked this Ducks team to even make the playoffs, let alone finish as a number 2 seed. They had an incredible, record-setting start to this shortened season, with plenty of dramatic highlights. They signed Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to long-term extensions. And the youth of this team (Bonino, Fowler, Etem, Palmieri, Cogliano, etc.) is looking strong.
So despite the early playoff exit, there is plenty to be excited about with this Ducks team going forward.
And despite the heartbreak, I fully believe they exceeded expectations. After what Ducks fans endured last season, and in a season this year that some didn’t even think would happen, I call that a major win.
As I walked into my house late Sunday night, I caught a glimpse of the flowers and handmade cards on our kitchen table, gifts from my sweet daughters for Mother’s Day.
And as the sun rose Monday morning, it brought with it the familiar weekday routine of making breakfast, packing lunches and shuttling my girls off to school.
The emotions are still there. They will be for a while. And I’m okay with that. They are there because I care about this team and this great sport. And I don’t want that to ever change.
But in the midst of feeling upside down, sometimes life has a way of turning you right side up and nudging you back into normalcy when you really need it.
Thank you, Anaheim Ducks, for an incredible season we won’t soon forget.
It may be a long wait until October, but I’m already looking forward to it.
**Bottom photo via Christina Chin
05/06/2013 4:33 pm
I’ve said many times before in this space that I love storytelling.
And I think some of the best stories out there are how people get to be where they are within the world of hockey. Whether it’s Ducks super fans The Tennis Balls or Honda Center national anthem singer Dawn Wright, I always find it so interesting how the love for hockey can lead fans down a very unexpected path. And sometimes, it’s the passionate love for this great game that can make dreams come true.
Such is the case for Josh Brewster.
The host of the radio show, “Duck Calls”, which can be heard on AM 830 following all Anaheim Ducks road games (including during the playoffs), Brewster is in his seventh season with the popular call-in show.
The format of the show includes recap and discussion of that night’s Ducks game, the chance for fans to call in and share their thoughts, and interviews with guests from all over the hockey world. Some of the names that Brewster has hosted on his show over the years include former Duck and current Ducks assistant coach Scott Niedermayer, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, NHL broadcast analyst Pierre McGuire, hockey broadcaster and author Stan Fishler, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Dennis Bernstein from The Fourth Period, and former NHL goaltender Bernie Parent.
Although a career in broadcasting in the NHL has been a dream of Brewster’s for some time, he didn’t envision his path to get there would be in Southern California.
Growing up in New York meant that hockey was an integral part of Brewster’s life. A devoted Buffalo Sabres fan, he and his family spent their Saturday nights watching Canadian broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada.
At a young age, he had the experience of a lifetime that helped to formulate what he wanted to do with his life.
“It was 1982 when I got my first interview with a hockey player for my high school paper,” said Brewster. “It was with Wayne Gretzky. He was in Buffalo, the day before he passed Phil Esposito’s record for goals in a season. I was 15, he was 21.
“After the media interviews were finished, Wayne tapped me on the shoulder and asked me how to get out of the Sabres practice facility (in Wheatfield, NY). I escorted him to the exit as he was being mobbed by fans.”
When life led him to SoCal in 1998, his association with hockey did not come to a halt. It was here, in the land of sun, sand and surf, where Brewster would be able to continue to chase his dreams of being an NHL broadcaster.
He began following the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and in 2000, Brewster started producing what he believes is the first known internet hockey show, the Western Hockey Radio Show. He did that for three years, and then in 2004, set up the website hockeytalk.biz where he produced a very successful series of shows called Hockeytalk Audio Features, which featured interviews with those in the hockey world.
It was 2006 when he got a phone call from current Anaheim Ducks Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Teats, whose role includes overseeing all of the Ducks broadcasting. The team was starting a new post-game radio show and he asked Brewster to host. This was an absolute dream come true for the kid from Buffalo.
The timing of the hire was also perfect, as Brewster was able to be along for the ride in 2007, as the Ducks became the first NHL team in California to win the Stanley Cup.
Brewster loves the game and loves what he does. Diligent in his preparation for each show, he usually spends three hours pouring over stacks of information because as he says, “You can never be too prepared.”
The interaction with fans over the years has been some of the most rewarding parts of the experience for Brewster. With “regular” callers such as “Stan from Tarzana” and “Gina from Alta Dena”, he is grateful for the many Ducks fans who listen and call into the show.
One of his favorite listeners is Gaby Martinez, whom he met when she was just 12 years old. A budding writer, Brewster worked with her over several years, giving her writing assignments. The 19-year-old is now on a full scholarship at California State University, Fullerton, in the broadcast department.
Brewster still has dreams of becoming a full time NHL broadcaster, but is thankful for the digital age, the Anaheim Ducks and the opportunities his love for hockey has brought his way.
Be sure to catch Josh Brewster on Duck Calls tonight on AM 830 after Game 4 of the Anaheim Ducks/Detroit Red Wings NHL Western Conference Quarter-Final series. His guest tonight will be Senior Vice President of the Detroit Red Wings, Jimmy Devellano. And stop by his website, hockeytalk.biz.
And check out a more in-depth profile of Brewster’s career in the book, “Living the Hockey Dream” by Brian Kennedy.
04/30/2013 8:40 am
I’ve always believed that some of the greatest professional sports rivalries are born out of a history of intense, significant playoff series. Not to take anything away from cross-town rivals, but there’s just something about the same teams meeting over and over again in postseason games where the players put it all out there and everything is on the line every single night.
It undoubtedly makes for some memorable moments.
So it seems fitting, I suppose, that the Anaheim Ducks open the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the team they have met in the postseason more than any other, a team I consider to be one of their biggest rivals.
The Detroit Red Wings.
This will be their sixth postseason meeting. Since the 1997 playoffs, no two teams have met more than these two.
And there have been more than just a few memorable moments between Anaheim and Detroit in the NHL’s second season.
After being swept by the Red Wings in both 1997 and 1999, the 7th seed 2003 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim met up with reigning Stanley Cup Champion Detroit in the first round, and behind the stellar play of goaltender J.S. Giguere, swept them in four games.
In 2007, it was J.S Giguere, Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne, “forehand, backhand, nothing but water bottle” in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena, and Anaheim took the Western Conference Finals from #1 seed Detroit in six games. I remember knowing at the very moment that Teemu raised his stick that night that the Ducks would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
In 2009, it was a #8 seed Ducks team that had just ousted the #1 seed and President’s Trophy winning San Jose Sharks who pushed the Red Wings to seven games before losing to them in the closing minutes of that last Western Conference Semi-Final game.
Fast forward to 2013.
It’s been a long wait for Anaheim and their fans to get to this point. Everyone endured a four-month league lockout before this 48-game compressed schedule began in January.
But beyond that, Ducks fans have been waiting for two years to see their team back on the ice for the best, most grueling playoffs in all of sports.
The Ducks’ Pacific Division Championship, third place overall league finish and #2 seed in the Western Conference this season was a surprise to many, including myself.
It wasn’t that I didn’t think they had the ability to do well. It’s just I didn’t know what to expect from this team. A brutal season in recent memory will do that to you.
But the Ducks had a season for the record books, finishing with the best winning percentage in club history (66 points, .688). They came out flying, established their spot near the top and never gave it up, earning themselves home ice for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. Led by head coach Bruce Boudreau, and with solid contributions from up and down the line-up, their accomplishments have been a true team effort. And coming off of the last few seasons, this was awesome to see.
Put in the position of having to win a number of games at the end of the season just to secure a playoff spot, this will be Detroit’s 22nd consecutive playoff appearance. That’s almost unbelievable. Even post-Nicklas Lidstrom, this team is well coached, full of talent and depth, and is always dangerous.
As it always seems with these two teams, this series has all the ingredients to become another classic. And it begins Tuesday night, with Game 1 at Honda Center. Opening face-off is at 7:30pmPT.
Fans are off-the-charts excited. Because honestly, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are unlike anything else out there. The heart stopping, edge-of-your-seat excitement, night after night in the world’s greatest sport is unmatched. It draws you in, and once you’re hooked, trust me, you’ll never look back.
The Ducks announced that they will be hosting “The Playoff Spot” in the north side of the Honda Center Parking lot prior to every home playoff game. All ticketed fans can arrive up to two hours before puck drop to enjoy food, drinks, live music and HD televisions for viewing other NHL Stanley Cup Playoff action.
And for those who remember this season’s home opener, glow sticks, in addition to playoff towels, will be given to all fans in attendance. I got chills when they turned down the lights on Opening Night and Honda Center was lit up orange. Chills. Get there early, fans. You won’t want to miss being a part of that.
The players and coaching staff are pumped too. And why not? With the regular season behind them, they can focus on the bigger goal. This is what they play for, the chance to win the most beloved trophy in all of sports. The chance to hoist the Cup. You can read and listen to some of the players’ thoughts on Detroit and the playoffs here.
My favorite quote is from Ryan Getzlaf:
“Have you listened to the media the past couple of days? We are not the favorites. Trust me.”
Don’t worry, Captain. Those are probably the same “experts” who had the Ducks missing the postseason altogether. I like Wahoo’s take on this series better. (“We had a meeting….”)
As formidable of an opponent as Detroit always is, I believe the Ducks can beat this Red Wings team in a best of seven series. I just think it will take them seven games to do it.
Back in January, as the lockout ended and the NHL season finally got ready to start, I wrote these words:
“I think more than anything, I just want the Ducks to go out there and play with passion and intensity, like every game matters. Because it does. No slow starts. Play like the best players in the world that you are. You say you’ve missed the game and the fans. Play like you mean that.”
The Ducks have done this, and more, completely exceeding my expectations. And now that they are back in playoffs, I say this:
Go out there and play with passion and intensity each night. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs and every game matters. No slow starts. Play with a chip on your shoulder and prove to all those who doubt that no matter the opponent, this team is a force to be reckoned with. You say this is why you play the game, for the chance to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Play like you mean that.
It’s time for Ducks to fly.
Because It’s the Cup.
Here are a couple more videos to get you ready for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (from NHL.com, from Ducks fan Matthew Rathbone)
Don’t miss a minute. There truly is nothing like it in all of sports.
All images via the Anaheim Ducks.