I asked my pal and fellow tweep, Swamp Hockey, to do an interview with me on her team, the Florida Everblades. Caniacs, there is playoff hockey in the Hurricanes’ family, so enjoy an insider’s look at this ECHL team…
First, tell us a little about your Everblades fan status. How long have you followed the team?
The Blades arrived in 1998 and I went to games every once in a while but it wasn’t anything truly regular. Being a Florida native meant I didn’t really grow up around a lot of hockey. I started in the early 2000′s falling in love with the game. I refused to fall in hockey love with the Blades because I was under the impression that ECHL hockey was nowhere near as amazing as NHL hockey. About three or four years ago I started changing my tune. I had a friend who convinced me to start going to Blades games with her regularly. That season happened to be the season the Blades had one of their better squads. They earned the Brabham cup, the ECHL award given to the team with the best regular season record. I fell pretty hard for those guys, and by extension the Blades and their history.
The Everblades have had an amazing season. They currently sit first in the Eastern Conference in the pursuit for the 2012 Kelly Cup. What do you think has been the key to their success?
I think a big part of this squads success is quite a few things. The players seem to have made a commitment to each other, the fans and the system. We’ve been lucky to have two solid goalies who seem to feed off the competition they have with each other, every player on the team contributing to scoring, and very reliable defensive core. Obviously, I have to credit Coach Poss for instituting the system, demanding good conditioning and making tough roster decisions.
What player(s) do you feel should move up to the AHL level next year?
I don’t think all of them is a fair answer, is it? As much as I’d love to see all the players succeed, I’d have to say, of all the guys who don’t currently have an AHL deal seeing Trevor Bruess get one would be pretty huge for me. The kid is all fire and grit and I can’t really think of a time I’ve seen him give anything less than 200% every moment of every game.
What are your three favorite memories from the season to date?
The Teddy bear toss is always a memorable game for me, you really can’t beat watching hundreds of stuffed animals flood the ice. It also happened to lead to one of my favorite pictures of the season (I attached the picture for you). My second choice would have to be seeing the Blades play in Chicago. Nothing truly spectacular happened, but it was nice to be a visiting fan and to represent the Blades in a different rink. The third favorite is easy, David Fischer’s OT goal against the Elmira Jackals. He had just returned from visiting his very ill mother. In his first game back he managed to end the OT with 2.1 seconds left on the clock. I wasn’t the only fan with tears in my eyes. It was a pretty special moment.
For those of us who may not know the players very well, dish out these yearbook-type awards to your Everblades’ players…
1. Most inspiring award- This one’s easy. David Fischer for being one of the best player on or off the ice regardless of what’s going on in his personal life.
2. Most Annoying But Most Adored Award- Easily Trevor Bruess. He’s definitely one of those players you’d hate on another team but love on your own. He can take a dumb penalty or two, but he makes up for it later in the game.
3. Most Likely To End Up In Jail- This one’s hard. Players in the past have had issues, but all the guys this season have been very well behaved. I guess maybe Mike Ratchuck should be arrested for his hideous hair. It’s pretty much the most terrible hockey mullet I’ve ever seen.
4. Most likely to be on Dancing with the Stars- I guess I’d go with Matt Marquardt on this one. A fan posted a video of him and David Fischer dancing to some video game at an event and I still get the giggles thinking about it.
5. Most likely to be President- Probably David Rutherford. All the guys call him Rudy for a reason. Even though he’s Canadian I could see him figuring out a way to overcome the laws and convince everyone to vote him into office.
6. Most likely to still get ID’d when they are 35 years old- I’m going to have to go with John Muse. He has quite the baby face if you ask me.
7. Best Playoff Beard Award- I’d say Ryan Donald or Mathieu Roy, but they’ve been growing their beards all season so it really shouldn’t count. I guess for sheer bushyness Matt Beca or David Rutherford are your best bets.
8. Worst Playoff Beard Award- A bunch of the guys have pretty terrible beards but I’m going to have to go with Joe Sova. The last time i saw it it was mostly a neck beard with not much else. Leigh Salters is a close second. Either his beard is very light or very patchy. It’s hard to tell.
When is the next game and how can Caniacs catch the show?
The next game is tomorrow night at 7:30 here in Estero. the radio feed is here, and the video feed is here. You do have to pay for the video, but it’s usually pretty decent quality when the games are at our arena. There will also be games Thursday and Saturday for sure. The Blades will travel back to Kalamazoo if any more than that is needed.