There is something about watching junior level hockey. They are still working on their skills. They have a bit of reckless control over the game. It is action-pack and fast moving. It may not be the NHL, but they are still a blast to watch.
Last night's season and home opener of the Indiana Ice featured the Cedar Rapid Rough Riders. The crowd were crazy and rowdy. The hockey was great, though the Ice did lose (4-2). They did draw a lot of penalties (15 times, a few where there were a 5 on 3 for a minute or so) and were outshot. But their penalty-kill units were fantastic (12 for 15 is really not bad) and their goalie, Brett Bennett, held up rather well against the onslaught. The Ice is a team what only has four members from last year; everyone else is new to the team. There still has to be a lot of chemistry building, but I think they will gel together soon enough. Considering it could have been far worse last night, the Ice held up very well and never ever gave up, even in the final seconds of the game.
Two players stuck out at me at the game: one from Cedar Rapids by name recognition, the other from the Ice by mere physical presence.
For Cedar Rapids: Dean Chelios. Yes, Chris Chelios's son. I think I read somewhere before that he had a son playing in the USHL, but I had completely forgot about it till I saw the name on his jersey. He is a forward for the Rough Riders. And according to the Indianapolis Star, Chris Chelios was in attendance too (If it was announced over the loudspeakers, I couldn't hear it; everything was muffled at ice level).
For Indiana: Mikael Owilli. This guy was HUGE for a league full of 16-20 year olds. 6'4, 208 pounds. There was only one other player that had a similar height (fellow Ice defensemen Joe Hartman, 6'4, 200 pounds). Owilli has a nice, physical presence on the ice and I thought played fairly well. He will be interesting to watch in the future.
4 weeks ago