Sorry folks, this is going to be quick. They're doing electrical work at my apartment complex tomorrow and shutting off the power at 9:00 a.m., so I've got to get some sleep. But I wanted to throw out a few things, and answer some questions.
1. Some of you have wondered why Hamilton got so upset over the DiSalvatore game-winner, besides it being the game-winner. Hamilton was arguing that Drew MacIntyre was in control of the puck, so the whistle should have been called. This is an issue we've seen all series with the officials taking forever to blow the whistle, allowing players to play whack the goalie.
I was down at the other corner, but I checked my photos of the sequence. In most of them, I can't tell anything because there are too many players blocking my view of MacIntyre, but I do have this one photo below. And if you look closely under MacIntyre's pads -- click on the photo to enlarge it -- you'll see that the puck is free. This is just a split second before the goal is called.
Here's what Jon DiSalvatore had to say about the play: "The puck was thrown at the net. It was laying there between his pads. I think he may have thought he had it covered, so throw everything at him and see what happens. Sometimes that’s the way you’ve got to get it through that guy."
2. This next sequence of photos involves the very end of the game where we had the scrum in front of Matt Hackett and where it looked like some of the Hamilton players were going to kill the officials. The issue here, as I understand it, was that the Hamilton players felt one of the Aeros, and I heard Justin Falk's name, covered the puck with his hand while in the crease, thus there should have been a penalty shot called.
This happened just in front of me, so I checked my photos. If you look closely, you'll see the puck right below the "4" of Falk's sweater. You can't see the puck in the final photo as it appears that he's rolled over on it.
Three things. If you look at the photos, it appears that Terry Koharski is looking right at the puck and at Falk. Second, from these angles, I don't see how Falk could have grabbed hold of the puck. Third, in the final photo it looks as if Warren Peters was making a grab for the puck, but that's the best shot I have as chaos ensues in the photos I have after that.
3. We get lots of access to these guys during the season, so we get to know them. And as much as advancing to the Calder Cup means to all of these guys, I think it means more to Jon DiSalvatore than it does anybody. He's spoken in the past about never winning a playoff series, and about how special this group of players is, and how much he wanted this. And now he's got it.
"You can go around the league and find maybe more talented teams than our team, just on paper," he said after the game. "But character-wise, top to bottom, the depth that’s on our team, the coaching staff. Everything has just come together so nicely and we’ve grown so much. Guys have brought into the process of maturing as people and as athletes. You see that all come together in 20 minutes of a hockey game. Everything that we battle through to persevere and come out. That’s what makes it so special. We put in all that extra time throughout the year just for a moment like that. And that’s why this team’s so special."
4. This couldn't have been an easy night for Casey Wellman. Wellman's struggled throughout out the playoffs, and tonight he was on the fourth line after having started the playoffs against Peoria on the top line. So playing on that fourth line, Wellman went out and had his best game of the playoffs, scoring the second and third goals of the game.
"This series has been a struggle," Wellman told us. "Obviously we went up three games, and lost three in a row. And personally, it’s been kind of a struggle for me. But these are the games you dream about, game sevens, and I’m glad I was able to step up for our team."
5. And we asked Mike Yeo about the move, and Yeo responded: "It’s a response by him. It’s a tremendous response, and that’s what you’re looking for, and that’s how we got to this point, really. I give Casey huge credit for the way he responded tonight…."
6. And let's hear it for you fans who were attendance. That was the loudest I've heard Toyota Center in years. There were 6,000-plus in attendance, and your presence was felt every moment. You have no idea how much it meant to the players, and how they fed off of it. That's what home ice advantage is all about.
"We haven’t been a team to go to center ice and salute the crowd before. I think it’s a great tradition, and it’s something that I would like to see," Yeo said. "But the guys thought it was appropriate tonight because that crowd was unbelievable. I thought that just the game, the excitement value of it, just the energy that the crowd brought to the game and the life that they brought to our players was phenomenal."
That's it. I'm out of here. I'll try to post a link to the mothership story whenever it goes up, providing I can find some power and a wireless connection somewhere. Also, some bad news. I'm not going to be at games one and two because of previous vacation plans, so there won't be any photos. Maybe Heather will nice enough to bring out the pen and paper and do us some stick figure drawings, though I'm sure all of her attention will be focused on Mr. Barry Brust. But the good news is that I will be in Binghamton for games four and five.
Goodnight everybody. It's been an incredible evening.