Monday, March 23, 2009
From a Bubblehead to a Bobblehead
How do you follow up Ron Duguay Night? Easy. You head to Jeff Tambellini Bobblehead Night in Bridgeport.
I'm neither a huge bobblehead collector (the collection consists of a generic Mexican wrestler, Endy Chavez, and baseball play-by-play guy Warner Fusselle) nor really that much of a Jeff Tambellini fan (I want to be, really I do, especially since he wears my lucky number, 15), but I figured I'd make a hockey weekend out of it and take in the Sound Tigers' third game in three nights. Sunday's game found the Islanders JV taking on the Buffalo Sabres' farm team, the Portland Pirates. And, since I've been following the lineup for a few weeks, I was fully prepared for Mitch Fritz being a healthy scratch—not happy, but prepared.
I really like going out to Bridgeport (mainly because of the easy access via Metro-North, but also to see how the young guys—or, this season, just the guys—are doing), but since it is a bit of a hike from home base (about two hours door-to-door), I'm usually best served by the Sunday games, which have an earlier start time. Unfortunately, because this is the AHL, the Sunday game is usually a club's third in three nights, so play can be a little sluggish. This game started off well enough, though, with the Sound Tigers putting three on the board in the first period, and new Sound Tiger Robin Figren picking up his first AHL point. I'd briefly met Figren, a 2006 Isles draft pick, at the thoroughly depressing 2008 Draft Party at the Coliseum, so it was kind of cool to be there when he made it on the score sheet for the first time. He's still clearly feeling his way in the new league and he looks like a kid out there (he's only 20, so that makes sense), but, with any luck, good times are ahead for him.
The score at the end of the first was 3-1, with the Pirates' goal coming off some sloppy play in his own zone by the man who now officially (I'm the official, in case you were wondering) has "Poor" added to his name. I am, of course, referring to Poor Jon Sim, the man who has been waived twice and will likely be spending the rest of the season and the playoffs on the Sound Tigers (he's been piling up the goals since being sent down, though...he has 8 in 10 games). I liked Sim as an Islander and, while I understand that he doesn't fit in Gordon's youth movement, he always seemed like a decent, hard-working guy. It's hard to believe that no NHL team could use a guy like him (and I reckon he feels the same), and I can't imagine that PJS is thrilled to be toiling in the AHL at this point in his career (perhaps he can be the poster boy for a new "Dying in Bridgeport" ad campaign to bookend the "Born in Bridgeport" one. I hope good times are ahead—somewhere, anywhere on the NHL—for him, too.
Hewing close to the Islander work ethic, the Sound Tigers decided to take most of a period off—in this case, the second, where Portland scored two as the Islanders JV did little to stop them. But after killing off a five-on-three, the Sound Tigers got a power-play goal themselves, with Jeremy Colliton finding Sean Bentivoglio as he was sprung from the penalty box. That goal turned out to be the decisive one, as the third period got a little sluggish on both ends. But during the third period, I did spot Mitch Fritz up in one of the boxes, so that was a highlight. I also spent some of the game hoping to spot winning goaltender Peter Mannino's hot girlfriend, but no such luck.
I actually had the opportunity to get a genuine Mitch Fritz game-worn training camp jersey in the silent auction, but when bidding got into the $200 range, I realized that dream was not going to come true (apparently Fritz is way more popular than Jon Hein). I also passed on waiting to get Jeff Tambellini to sign the bobblehead because it was a long line and the trains only run once an hour (and if I took the later train, I wouldn't have been able to see who got booted off the "Rock of Love Bus"...fare thee well, Beverly). Plus, if it were signed, I'd feel much worse next year when I throw the bobblehead against the floor after Tambellini misses an open net. So I snapped this photo of him and Andrew MacDonald instead.
I nearly fell asleep reading on the train, as the hours of train and bus riding started to take its toll (I was continuing my valiant effort to read a complete David Foster Wallace book, though, so I may have drifted off to sleepyland regardless). But it felt good to have ignored March Madness and celebrated a hockey weekend instead.
Who needs brackets when you've got a 51-year-old guy with feathered hair and a bobblehead?
Rhetorical question. No need to answer.