Archive for Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Chinstraps and mouthpieces: Outdoor hockey game attracts true fans

December 3, 2003

Oh the weather outside was frightful, but the hockey was so delightful.

On Nov. 22, a reported 57,167 fans braved 23-degree weather in Alberta, Canada, to watch a hockey game.

Played in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, the game between Edmonton and Montreal was the first NHL regular-season game to be played outside.

For the neighbors to the north, the hockey game allowed fans to just chill with their country's favorite pastime -- to the mercury reading of 1 below zero. At one point, the wind chill was at 15-below. Fans could have had icicles hanging from their noses and eyelashes, but only hockey was on their minds.

Dare I ponder watching a game in such temperatures? Kansas City's last home game Nov. 30 at Arrowhead Stadium between the Chiefs and Oakland was played in 20-degree temperatures. As anyone in my office would tell you, I am for setting the thermostat as low as possible, so I usually enjoy a crisp night for football. However, I wouldn't have been worth a cup of Joe if I had attended that game in Edmonton -- I struggled at Arrowhead.

As my compadre gloated about his extensive thermal preparations and six or seven layers of clothing, I shivered to the tune of a T-shirt, sweatshirt, coat, stocking cap and gloves. The gloves brought the most warmth to the wardrobe, but as the legs and feet became numb and my bare face endured a biting wind. Sure, the Chiefs pulled out an exciting 27-24 win, but I knew the next Chiefs contest would require a better game plan. Luckily, my friend spared a heat pack, which I stuffed inside one of my gloves.

In Edmonton, however, fans braved far worse conditions to see an alumni game featuring Wayne Gretzky and then a regular-season clash.

Montreal prevailed, 4-3, on the cold evening, but the hometown fans had an historical night to remember.

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Residents who have Sunflower Broadband's digital cable package can watch a slew of collegiate contests with College Sports Television. The station, which is Channel 147 on the remote, covers most NCAA sports.

A few weeks ago, the Nebraska-Texas volleyball match from Lincoln, Neb., was televised, while the NCAA men's soccer tournament has begun.

Recently, CSTV showed conference soccer tournaments, including the Conference USA matchup between UNC-Charlotte and Saint Louis. UNC-Charlotte, which already knocked off No. 20 Cincinnati, played the Billikens to a 2-2 game. On penalty kicks, Saint Louis clinched the title with a 5-4 advantage, but one kick had some mustard behind it.

Although most soccer players take a few steps before kicking the ball, UNC-Charlotte's Graham Tatters doesn't have a modest approach.

The Scotland native, who is a freshman, appeared to begin approach a few feet short of midfield. He lined up for his approach initially, but had to start again because the ball wasn't positioned just so. After trotting from his distant position to the ball back to his original spot, he was ready to shoot against the impatient Billiken goalie.

Mission accomplished.

The ball zipped past the goalie and Tatters tallied a shootout kick.

Unfortunately, I didn't notice any coverage of the women's NCAA tournament, which included Kansas' first trip to the Sweet Sixteen. The Jayhawks faced UCLA in Los Angeles, but couldn't continue their dream season. The Bruins won, 1-0, while KU ended its campaign at 18-6-1.

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Tonganoxie's Katie Jeannin and Addie Heim were featured in the Nov. 23 edition of the Lawrence Journal-World as all-area selections. Jeannin, a setter, and Heim, an outside hitter, helped the Chieftains to a 28-8 record this fall.

The picture, though revealed another story about this year's THS volleyball team. Take a gander at Jeannin's shoes and you'll find the senior sporting some colorful shoelaces.

This year's seniors wanted a portion of their wardrobes to be wacky, while coach Tiffany Parker wanted a conservative look.

The two parties compromised with a touch of wild colors in the shoelaces.

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Speaking of Jeannins, Katie's uncle Phil coaches seventh-grade junior high basketball. While Katie usually has a calming demeanor, her uncle is more animated on the court. Against Piper on Nov. 20, Jeannin leaped from his seat on the bench with a fist pumping into the air on some occasions. It's clear the enthusiastic elder Jeannin enjoys coaching basketball at TJHS.

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