Mom is coming to town!!

March 10th, 2010 by icebears

Hello everyone!  Our busy schedule has come to an end.  We had a busy week last week with games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  All of which were on the road.  We put a solid 1800 miles on the bus in 3 days.  Lots of movies and lots of chat time.  Now only 7 games left to buckle down and get ready for the playoff push.

Tomorrow is a big day for Mrs. Bulawka.  My mom is coming to Knoxville for the very first time.  So I’ve been cleaning and washing non stop.  Can’t have mom come and see a messy place.  My dad is also making the trip.  He has been down once before so has an idea of what to expect.  Coming from Canada we haven’t really had the opportunity to visit places like Knoxville.  So hockey has done a lot for myself and my parents.

During there stay they will get to watch us play Fayetteville this weekend and also Huntsville next weekend.  We also managed to grab tickets for the Predators vs. Flyers game on Tuesday.  And if it doesn’t rain the entire time they are down we might also make a trip to Gatlinburg.  So it is going to be a lot of fun.  Tennessee has a lot to offer and it’s nice to experience it with family.

Well before I end this blog I would just like to tell my mom that I’m excited to see her and I stuck to my word.  Hi Mom!  Wish us luck this weekend and hope to see ya’ll at the rink.

Tough times

February 24th, 2010 by icebears

Hello again guys.  I was really hoping that the next time we were going to be talking it was going to be about the great weekend we just had.  But as I’m sure you know it didn’t turn out that way at all.  We would all like to just forget about what happened on the weekend or on Tuesday but we can’t.  We have found ourselves in a pretty good slump and need to find a way out.

Throughout a hockey season teams run into all kinds of funny situations.  Teams go on long win streaks, long losing streaks, injuries, trades, pretty much anything you can imagine will happen at least once during the hockey season.  But what really defines a strong hockey team is how they bounce back after encountering something like I just mentioned.  Fayetteville, as much as we don’t like them have bounced back tremendously.  They started the year off with only 4 wins in there first 10 games then followed that up with 5 straight wins.  Now they have worked there way to second place, 3 points out of first.  On the other hand Huntsville took a different route.  They came screaming out of the gates winning 21 out of there first 30 games.  But then hit a wall and lost 9 games straight. 

Now where do we stand?  We’ve lost 5 games straight and 3 of the 5 games we lost at home.  Ya thats not what we want but hey, playing 56 games a year ups and downs like this are going to happen.  Just look at what I mentioned with Huntsville and Fayetteville.  If they can bounce back so can we.  We have the character in the dressing room, the leadership and coaching, and a ton of experienced players who have all gone through times like these.  Not to mention the 2 guys coming back into the line up shortly.  You might remeber them, Kevin Harris, and Andrew Gallant.  I think that they will also help matters too.  I’m just glad this yikup happened now and not going into playoffs.  We have 13 games left in the season and I’m sure we’ll be perfectly fine.  I’m not worried and either are the boys.  We are working our butts off and are excited for this to turn around.

Eat, Sleep, Hockey!

February 17th, 2010 by icebears

I hope all you love birds enjoyed Valentines Day.  We hockey players spent the day on the bus as usual.  It seems to be an on going event for us, to be on the road on days like Valentines Day, New Years, Thanksgiving, Birthdays.  It’s ok though, we can save our hard earned cash that way.

Well, other then a rough final period Sunday night in Huntsville we didn’t have that bad of a weekend at all.  Friday night against Columbus we played really well, Segal stepped up offensively like he has been doing a lot this year and scored a couple goals.  Van Vliet continued his aggressive play trying to take on Kyle Lundale.  I have a feeling Bartle from Mississippi will be hearing a few things from Van Vliet this Thursday too.  haha.  We have been joking with Vlieter lately because he’s been caught up in a few scrums with guys like Lundale, Moor, and Sicard.  For a guy that doesn’t fight that often he sure doesn’t back down from anyone.  Tough guys or round guys!!

Saturday night was an awesome night.  We held the second Weiner Dog race of the year while playing host to Huntsville our rivals.  Before the game got underway we herd that it was going to be a great crowd and I think we started to witness that when we stepped out to around 3,000 people in the stands just for warm ups.  By the time the game actually started it was a sellout of 5,200.  Game wise we had full control from start to finish.  Swider was a huge part in the win scoring 3 goals for the hat trick and also added a tripping penalty in the third period that put his penalty minutes up to a whopping 20.  Only 216 penalty minutes behind David Segal.

Sundays game besides a rough third period wasn’t too bad.  It was our third game in 3 nights but it was also Huntsville’s third game in 3 nights too.  Both teams didn’t come out with a lot of energy.  Having there home crowd behind them I think helped them a lot in the third period. 

Now looking on to our next string of games the schedule doesn’t get any easier.  We have another 3 and 3 this weekend which will be 7 games in the next 10 days.  So our routine will be nothing but Eating, Sleeping, and playing hockey for the next couple weeks.

Rough start to a Tuesday

February 10th, 2010 by icebears

Hello readers!  How about them Saints??  To be honest I’m not really a huge NFL fan.  Last year I finally took a serious look at the sport, and as you all know it’s kind of hard to get involved in a sport without having a favorite team.  So being in Denver at the time it was kind of a no brainer of who i could root for.  Even though the Broncos had one heck of a start this year they still fell short of making the playoffs.  So before the Super Bowl started on Sunday I decided to cheer for the Saints since they have never made a Super Bowl appearance.

Now here’s my interesting Tuesday morning.  Well it all started with me laying in bed wide awake at 6:55am still have not fallen asleep yet.  I’m just waiting for the alarm to go off at 7am because my girlfriend Breanne has a job interview at 9am.  I’m thinking to myself that it’s going to be a long day at practice without having any sleep under my belt.  Anyways 8am rolls around and I’m trying to drink coffee like it’s my job.  Kevin Harris texts me and says that he’s leaving at 8:30 for practice.  So as Breanne finishes up eating breakfast she asks me to start her car for her while I’m walking out the door.  I agree to do so because i don’t have a choice.  I start the car and then jump in with Harry.  As we start to pull out Breanne is trying to get my attention, so I roll down the window.  Breanne proceeds to tell me very calmly that I’ve locked her keys in the car, with it running, and that she has to be at her job interview in 30min which is also a 15min drive away.  Of course we don’t have a spare key.  I’m an idiot.  Thank god while all this is going down Don Melynk walks out of his apartment and offers Breanne his truck to use.  So there we all go, Breanne to her job interview, us boys to hockey practice, and our little white Civic running idle with the keys locked inside sitting in the parking lot.  After practice we all returned home and the car was still there, purring like a champ.  Melynk and I tried our luck with the old clothes hanger trick but after 20min of that we gave up.  Just as we thought I was going to have to drop $80 on a locksmith our neighbor who is a police officer pulled in.  He grabbed his tools and within 2 minutes I was racing off to the gas station to fill the car up before it died.  What a start to the day.

Well, after a not so bad weekend on the road where we had a win, a loss, and an overtime loss.  3 out of 6 points was not the results we wanted but it’s also not too bad either.  Pensacola and Mississippi have competitive teams that play even that much better at home.  So this upcoming weekend is again another big weekend for us.  We have Columbus Friday in Knoxville and then a home and home with Huntsville, three games that can help us big time if we get three wins.

Back on the road

February 1st, 2010 by icebears

First of all before i start anything today I would just like to wish my fellow line mate Frank Furdero a Happy 30th Birthday!  Haha I’m kidding, he turned 28 today.  His mom was in town over the weekend too.   Cindy had the opportunity to watch us win our last 2 home games and also see Franky extend his point streak to 9 games with 2 assists Friday night.  Great job Franky, keep giving me the puck!!!

 The past 7 games that we’ve played in Knoxville have been the turning point in our season.  We won 6 out of the 7 games.  The game we lost, we only lost by a goal.  We had the opportunity to challenge ourselves these last 7 games against the top teams in the league and like I mentioned in my last blog, we ran with that challenge and beat the teams we needed to.  Giving us the confidence we’ve been lacking. 

Now with our home stretch of games done, we head back on the road Tuesday evening to play 2 games against Pensacola and 1 game against Mississippi.  Our last trip to Pensacola was a cold one.  Here’s a story from the last trip.  A few of us headed out for diner the first night dressed in shorts, t-shirts and sandals.  During the day it was really nice…..60 degrees i think.  But then as the sun started to set and the rain clouds rolled in.  At 10pm the temperature dropped to around 25 degrees and it started pouring rain outside.  So Kevin Swider, Tim Vitek , and myself where forced to run a mile back to our hotel in the freezing temperatures and pouring rain wearing nothing but shorts, t-shirts, and sandals.  It was quite the experience.  We all had pretty sore legs the next day, I’m sure the 1 mile sprint back to the hotel had nothing to do with that.

Chicken Caesar wraps are on the menu tonight should be a good one.  Have a great week and we’ll cya after the weekend!


Back to back home wins!

January 27th, 2010 by icebears

Moving into this past weekend, we were about to play our 30th and 31st games of the year.  It was a weekend home stand we have all had in the back of our minds for awhile now.  I’m sure everyone will agree to that.  We have played Huntsville 5 times this year so far, only to come out with 1 win. So I can definitely say they have had our number, but we were planning on changing that.

Friday night we all came out flying.  It was a great night with great atmosphere, and a game everyone wanted to be apart of.  Before the game started we all sat down and put together a game plan.  Winning the first period was at the top of the list.  We thought, if we could do that we would have a great shot at winning.  Scoring only 3 minutes in was the start we were all looking for.  But as the game progressed Huntsville battled right along with us and heading into the 1st intermission we were all tied up at 2 apiece.  During the second period Huntsville scored again to move ahead 3-2.  But it didn’t seem to bother us at all.  Actually I think it kind of pissed us off.  Why I’m saying that is because we didn’t just tie the game we took the game over by scoring a Power Play goal, Short Handed goal, and then an Even Strength goal all within 6 minutes.  After that we exchanged goals in the third but that was about it.  With the horn sounding the scoreboard read 6-4 for the good guys!

Saturday night we knew going into the game that if we lost, Friday night’s game wouldn’t have meant anything.  Points wise in the standings, Huntsville would have gotten there 2 points back.  Other teams in the league would have thought, either Knoxville got lucky or Huntsville had a bad game.  But we were determined to show the league, show Huntsville, and also show ourselves that we were a good hockey club.  What did we do about the opportunity we had?  Well we took full advantage of it and beat them again. In front of over 4,000 fans we took it to Huntsville and won 4-1.  What a great feeling. 

Now with Fayetteville and Louisiana coming into town we need to keep this winning streak alive.  Fayetteville is still 3 points ahead of us so winning is the only option if we want to move up in the standings.  Wish us luck this weekend and help cheer us on as we play our last 2 home games before heading back on the road.

Great weekend with some great crowds

January 20th, 2010 by icebears

The start of our 7 game home stand went pretty well this past weekend.  Not only was the weather nice and hot, but only being 1 goal shy from a possible 3 wins in 3 nights wasen’t too shabby either. 

Lets start off with Friday nights game versus Columbus.  After being gone so long I kinda forgot how lucky we are to be here in Knoxville playing for the Ice Bears.  Walking out from the dressing room making the turn toward the zamboni doors where we come out before each game I could hear the roar of the crowd.  Then as i made my last turn i caught a glimpse of the stands and kinda laughed, over 4,000 fans were cheering and in there seats ready for the game.  We might have been gone for awhile but our fans were still here and are as excited as we are to be back.

We knew from the start of the game that we needed to be good to beat a team like Columbus and scoring 1:21 into the game was definitely the start we wanted.  After that first goal the Coliseum went crazy and so did we, scoring 6 goals and rifling 36 shots at the Columbus goaltender by the end of the night.  Man, were we pumped up about being back.

Saturday night we met up with a team we’ve seen a lot of lately, the Pensacola Ice Flyers.  With Pensacola winning that game 5-4.  Overall i didn’t think we played that badly.  Falling behind early on by 2 goals i think kinda hurt us in the end.  We just couldn’t rebound after that.  It seemed like everytime we tied the game they came back with another goal.  But anyways the good thing was, was that we had a chance to play them again the next night.

Round 2 against the Ice Flyers went almost the extact same way the game went the night before.  To be honest it was a little scary how similar the 2 games were.  Assistant Coach K.J. Voorhees and I had quite the laugh about it after the game Sunday when we broke down both games. The scoring throughout the games were identical besides our game tying goal by Vitek.  Overtime never solved anything so on to the shootout we went.  After 5 shooters and no one scoring, B.J. Pelkey got the tap on shoulder and didn’t dissapoint.  Our third game in 3 nights wasen’t an easy one so it was a huge relief to get that victory.

Now with a week of practise and some well needed time between games for a few guys to heal up we host Huntsville Friday and Saturday night.  Huntsville has had our number all year, actually they have had pretty much every teams number.  But to win a third championship in a row you have to beat the best and right now Hunsville is the best.  So i think this upcoming weekend will be a great challenge for us.  See how far we have come as a team.  Should be another great and entertaining weekend.  Hope to see another 4,300 plus fans out again like we had Saturday night!

We’re back in Knoxville!

January 11th, 2010 by icebears

Well it’s sure good to be back in Knoxville.  After only having 3 home games in the last 11 and winning just 5 of those games we haven’t been a happier group of guys to be back at home.  Not only for a few games either, we are here in Knoxville for our next 7.  I can finally fill the fridge without having to worry about the food going bad. 

This past weekend as you know we headed down to Pensacola Florida for a 2 game contest.  Friday night we skated out to a great crowd of 5,500.  It was a Military Appreciation Night and they were all pumped up for the game.  Not only was the crowd jacked up but so were the Ice Flyers.  Coming out flying and outshooting us 19 to 9 and ahead 2-0.  Then in the second period we settled down and had the game all tied up with only 14 minutes left.  But with a couple of late mistakes it cost us the game.

Saturday night’s game was another great crowd of 4,200.  After the loss the night before we didn’t have a choice but to bring everything we had and try and get a split for the weekend.  Right from the drop of the puck we controlled the game.  Pensacola ended up getting the first goal on an early powerplay but we answered shortly afterwards to tie the game.  Heading into the second period a former Ice Bear Chris Rebernik scored a surprising goal only 9 seconds into the period.  But we held it together and kept working hard and getting tons of opportunities.   In the second intermission we were still down by 1 goal but there was this vibe in the dressing room and i think we all had this feeling that the game was far from over.  Sure enough at the half way mark our top line of Hustead, Swider, and Vitek tied the game and sent it into overtime.  Where Melnyk took the puck from the high slot and hammered a slap shot home for the victory.

Now heading into our 7 game home stand with a win i think we can really do some damage in the standings.  Its definitely not going to be easy playing Pensacola 2 more times this coming weekend and then Huntsville the following weekend.  But it will also give use a chance to climb our way up the standings by beating teams ahead of us. 

Thanks for the messages and if anyone has questions or is wondering about anything please feel free to ask.  Hope you see some full crowds these next few weeks.  We can use all the help we can get from the greatest fans in the SPHL!

Shakey New Year….

January 6th, 2010 by icebears

Well the New Year did not bring us any luck what so ever.  Heading down a day early was really nice.  We got to explore the town of Biloxi Mississippi which usually we don’t have a chance to do.  Here is how our usual road trip would go with out leaving a day early.

Our typical road trip consists of travelling throughout the day and playing that night.  After the game we head straight to the hotel and grab something to eat and then hit the hay because its close to midnight.  The next morning we usually get up at 9am to grab breakfast and then head to the rink at 10am for a 11am pre game skate.  After the skate to catch a quick lunch and then back to the hotel for a afternoon nap.  Head to the rink at 5:15 for the game that night and then back on the bus to Knoxville where we will likely arrive very early in the morning.  So like you can see, we don’t have much time to get to know the places we play at.

But in Biloxi we had a chance to see the area.  I few guys checked out some Pasta restaurants, seafood resturants, and also had a chance to explore the beach.  The weather wasen’t the warmest to be sitting on the beach getting a tan but hey, you can’t complain when your walking down the Gulf of Mexico in January wearing flip flops and shorts!  Especially us guys from Canada where its -30 in most places.

Now after a solid few days of practise and a few days to forget about the troubles we had on the ice last weekend, we are fired up and ready to head down to Florida where we play Pensacola Friday/Saturday.  They again are a very good and fast team.  But we still have a bitter taste in our mouth from our preformance last weekend so i can gaurantee you’ll be seeing a different and more focused Knoxville Icebears hockey team. 

Hopefully next blog we will be celebrating back to back wins……My neighbor Don Melnyk and roommate Andrew Gallant are yelling at me to get going.  So we’ll be talking next week!  Wish us luck!

Post Christmas Wins!

December 30th, 2009 by icebears

Hey guys, well the Christmas holidays have done us well thus far!  Going 2-1 after having 5 days off for the break wasen’t too bad.  The high scoring game in Fayetteville had us trailing 5-2 at the halfway mark of the third period.  But within 3 minutes we rallied back to tie the game, only then to have a bad break, with an Ice Bear forward losing an edge and causing a turn over to give the lead back to Fayetteville.  Which led to an open net goal (his third of the night) by my  roommate in Rocky Mountain, Mark Verteeg – Lytwyn. 

But now lets move onto Sundays game against Columbus.  Heading into the game we knew it was a must win game for us.  Having to play 5 games in 8 days with only 2 of them at home, we needed to use our home crowd to our advantage and we did.  Starting the scoring was one of our hottest players during the month of December.  David Segal does not only kick the crap out of guys on the ice he can also put the puck in the net too.  Scoring his 5th goal of the season to put us infront 1 – 0.  But then as the period died down to the last minute we let our guard down and BANG BANG!  It was 2-1 for Columbus.  I think we were all in shock sitting around in the dressing room during the 1st intermission having let Columbus do that to us, especially in our home rink!  So we carried that anger and frustration with us from that last period onto the ice where we fired 32 shots in the next 2 periods on the Columbus goaltender.  Out shooting them 32 -18.  Most teams only get 32 shots a game but we did it in 2 periods and it resulted in a string of opportunities, and also 1 shorthanded goal that send the game into Overtime.  Halfway through the overtime session Mark Van Vliet took a great pass from Donald Melnyk and shot it off the right side post and into the net.  It was a very close game where that last minute of the first period could have cost us.  But we pulled through and got the job done!

Tuesday night Mississippi came into Knoxville.  We knew 2 things about the Mississippi hockey team.  One….they are 2 points ahead of us in the standings.  Two…they have the best powerplay in the league.  So our game plan was to try and stay out of the box as much as possible, and by doing that it would give us a great chance to win the game.  WELL NOW….haha.  We ended up taking 12 minor penalties.  Not at all the way we had things planned out.  But hey, it happens.  Instead of crying about it the boys stuck together and battled threw all the adversity and did a great job.  Killing off all but 2 of the penalties which ended up resulting in the game heading into a shootout.  Hustead started off with a great goal going back hand, forehand on the Mississippi goaltender and then the veteran Tim Vitek stepped up and rifled a shot, short side for the win!  Another great come back win for us. 

So now on a 2 game winning streak we head to Mississippi for a New Years Day game and then to Louisiana the following day to finish off the road trip.  Should be a great couple games and i have a real good feeling them.  Wish us luck!