Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back on the sports of 2012

It's that time of year again. Ha! No, I'm totally kidding. I will not start out a blog entry with that overused phrase. I do, however, want to take a look back on 2012 sports-wise.

Local sports
With my first full calendar year spent in Austin, Minn., I really took a liking to some of the local sports. Last winter and then again this fall, I attended many Austin Bruins games at Riverside Arena. I mean, it's not like I have much of a drive to get there; it's just across the street from me.

Anyway, it's been really fun to follow the Bruins as they made a deep playoff run last spring. I also had a great time with some friends for the annual Paint the Rink Pink game back in February. For the 2012-13 season, I really should have invested in season tickets for the number of games I've been going to. The Bruins lost some key players from last season, but they've started with a bang and have piled up the points and the winning streaks.

I also got to my first Austin Greyhounds amateur baseball games this summer. There's nothing like watching an outdoor baseball game at Target Field, but the Greyhounds seemed to have a better winning percentage than the Twins this year. I enjoyed being able to go to a game on a nice summer evening that was close by.

Racing to a new track
On the IndyCar side of things, I checked another race track off my list this year: The Iowa Speedway. My dad and I attended the Iowa Corn Indy 250 back in June. Some stormy weather gave us a bit of a delay for the night race (luckily we're night owls), but once it got going it was a pretty exciting race. We saw eventual 2012 IndyCar Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay cross the line first for the win.

Bad days for pro sports
It wasn't exactly a stellar year for the Twins. They're looking at some rebuilding years, I think, and they had a bit of a coaching shake-up at the end of the season. All we can really hope for in 2013 is some improvement. In recent news, they also traded away outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere.

The Minnesota Wild went from a huge high - signing two of the biggest free agents in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in July - to a huge low with the NHL lockout. So far, the lockout has wiped out the games that should have already been played this season. It's not looking good for the remaining games either.

Here's to 2013. Cheers!

Monday, December 17, 2012

More wins, more points for the Austin Bruins

The Austin Bruins just keep rolling.

Their record of 19-5-4 has put them comfortably in first place in the central division of the North American Hockey League. With 42 points, they're 10 ahead of second-place Bismarck. A couple months into the season, and the Bruins are doing what they need to do.

I went to a game last weekend with my mom and dad. They hadn't been to a Bruins game before, so I thought it would be fun. With the NHL in the middle of its lockout, we've been going through some hockey withdrawals.

A Blizzard came to town
The Bruins played the Brookings Blizzard, a team that the Bruins seem to have matched up well with this season. This particular game was no exception. It ended up being a 3-2 shootout win for the Bruins, though it took a bit for the scoring to get started, and it was a scrambling regulation finish.

The play was fast with action up-and-down the ice. But it was scoreless after the first period. In fact, the first goal didn't come until nearly two periods were in the books. "What's this going to be, a 0-0 tie?" my mom said, just seconds before Jay Dickman scored the power-play goal (with an assist from AJ Reid) with 1:29 left in the second.

We have some history as a family for 0-0 ties. The very first Minnesota Wild game we attended in their inaugural season was just that. We weren't treated to a goal until our next game. It was a little disappointing. Of course, now the game has changed with shootouts in the mix.

The Bruins went up 2-0 with 7:29 left in the third period when the puck, shot by Chris Fischer, trickled over the goal line. It took a minute to call it a goal: Ref on the ice said no goal; goal judge flipped on the goal light. No video replay here, so the goal judge stepped out of his post to confirm the goal.

Then things got interesting.

Crazy two minutes
The Bruins tried to hang on to their 2-0 until the final horn, but the Blizzard had other ideas. With 2:14 remaining, the visitors took their timeout and then pulled their goalie for the extra skater. It paid off. They cut the lead in half with 2:01 left in regulation.

Another chance for the Blizzard came when the Bruins sent a player to the penalty box with 1:18 left. They tied the game with 2.7 ticks remaining, on the power play and with their goalie pulled again. There were plenty of bodies in front of the net on that last one.

To overtime we went. Then it was time for a shootout.

Getting it done in the shootout
I'm not sure how many rounds of shots were fired, but the Bruins eventually came out on top. Brandon Wahlin and Drew Anderson netted their chances. Nate Mondry, Anderson and goalie Nick Lehr were named the stars of the game.

In another close contest, the Bruins lost 5-4 in overtime this past Friday night in Brookings. The two teams matched up again Saturday at Riverside in Austin. From what I heard on the radio, the first two periods didn't go so well for the boys in black and gold. They were down 2-1 after two, but came back with four goals in the final frame to win 5-2.

The Bruins are in Aberdeen this weekend before coming home to ring in the New Year with three games.