Up & Downs for all my Hockey Teams

So with the NHL, CHL and Elite League season now well and truly under way it appears that my teams are all having very mixed fortunes!

Over in America the Buffalo Sabres look like having another dismal season, much to the delight of my Maple Leaf friends who appear to suddenly have come out the woodwork.

Our 4-0 defeat to the leafs on Tuesday night was made worse by the fact that we only had 10 shots on goal during the 60 minute game.

I do fear for the team who I had hoped would perform a little better if I’m honest but it seems our leaking defence, struggling goalies and shot shy forwards are making life very difficult.

Although the fact that we went into San Jose on Sunday night and won seems to have escaped a few peoples minds.

Good NHL teams though take time to build and I just hope Ted Nolan is given time to build something.  We have some good prospects and I’m sure they will develop over time.

It could be worse though, I could be a hurricanes fan!

Up in Belleville the Bulls have been putting in some great performances in the OHL with just 3 defeats in 12 games giving us currently 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference.

We have a very good team this year with some good goaltending from Charlie Graham and with the fantastic Jordan Subban (pictured above) looking as good as his brother PK it gives me plenty of hope that we will make a good run at the playoff this year.

Back home in the Elite League the Panthers despite not playing particularly great find themselves in a pretty decent position.

With Nathan Robinson now showing some of the skill that we all knew he had deep down and calls for him to stay for the season it really does look like we have a good TEAM this season.

Two others to make a good impression have been Jonathan ‘The Real British Bulldog’ Boxhill and Greg ‘Juice’ Jucina.

Both players have started superbly and the effort that Boxy puts in is a joy to behold.

Juice on the other hand is showing us why Corey brought him in last season and why he was one of the first to be resigned. Especially now that he is playing in his proper position.

Like I said in my preseason review I think we’ll be very competitive but not quite good enough for a title.

Here’s keeping my fingers crossed anyway!

An NFL Franchise For Wembley?

This weekend saw Ellen and I make the trip to Wembley for Game 2 of this years NFL International Series with the Atlanta Falcons facing off with the Detroit Lions.

This game saw an unusual kick off time of 1.30pm as the US had a full day of NFL games going all the way through to the Sunday night late game.

The game itself was fantastic, possibly the best game yet, with the Lion’s winning 22-21 with the final kick of the game.

The atmosphere was also much better with the Falcons actually treating Wembley like a home stadium, as opposed to the Raiders who seem to lack the game presentation of the home team.

The only downsides for me though were:

1) The Early Start – as someone who drove down on the day it seemed that everyone had arrived at the same time and the lack of a tail gate meant that we had to rely on Stadium food rather that the usually excellent tailgate party.

2) The Pre Game Show – over the last couple of years we have had some great pre game shows at the international series but the choice of ‘Little Mix’ for this one for me was very disappointing, hopefully the Jags will do better.

So following the games the Big Question of whether there is a possibility of an NFL franchise based in the UK?

My initial thoughts are ‘Yes’ it’s possible but the question for me really is, is it sustainable?

This season the international series sold 33,000 season tickets and once again wembley is sold out for all 3 games, apart from the odd returns here and there!

So it is clear a fanbase is there but would fans stop supporting the teams they already support and support the London team? I can’t see this happening, however I could see people supporting them as a second team maybe.

For example theres no way I’d drop my Eagles to support the London team, however I would probably support them as long as they’re not playing Philadelphia.

Speaking of the teams, realistically an expansion team is not an option as the restructure would be a nightmare so where does that leave us?

Well having spoken to a couple of my good friends we narrowed it down to 4 teams.

1) The St Louis Rams – The Ram’s are a potential decent pick for London with some good players and a base for a decent team.

2) The Oakland Raiders – A team struggling once again in Oakland following their move back from LA.

3) The Jacksonville Jaguars – Already committed to 3 games here and with their owner also owning Fulham could that be the link?

4) The San Diego Chargers – A good side with a decent QB in Philip Rivers but there is a rumour that this team could be bound for LA!

So will it happen?  I believe so, the NFL had made no secret that they want a London Team but when is a different matter!

5 International Series games next season was the rumour floating around Wembley this weekend but it appears the Rugby World Cup has put a stop to that and it’s looking like 3 next year with possible ‘back to back’ games to once again test the fanbase.

I guess the questions will be asked again next week as the Dallas Cowboys arrive in town to take on the Jaguars but for me as long as teams keep coming I’ll certainly be attending whether it’s a London franchise or not!

I guess I should start saving for a season ticket now!

Although I do pray that the pre game entertainment is better!

Hockey Season Moves Into Full Flow!

So with the start of the NHL season over the last couple of nights and Panthers finally getting back to stand alone Elite League fixtures, its safe to say that the Hockey season has now started properly!

So what do I think this season will hold for all my teams?  Well I guess its hard to say at present.  Panthers look a decent side on paper but with several key injuries its been a very up and down start.

It will be interesting to see if Nathan Robinson, quite possibly the best player on paper in the league and also a former Belleville Bull will hang around for a few more weeks now that his CHL contract is complete.  Only time will tell on that one but personally I hope he does and that even more chemistry forms between Lacho and himself.

With Chris Higgins back in the lineup this weekend and also the return of David Clarke that should give Panthers plenty more firepower than they have had recently.

I still think the defence looks very strong and confident on the puck but just need to cut down on the errors and turnovers.  Lets hope over the next few weeks we start to build a decent base to a possible title challenge!

Do I think we’ll win the league? Probably not but I’d like to see us at least challenge all the way!

Over in North America my beloved Buffalo Sabres began their season with a 3-1 defeat in our home opener to the Blue Jackets.

A result that possibly could have gone the other way had the Jackets goalie not had such a great game!  However I am still hopeful of a better season this time round, with the additions of Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges giving this young team some good veteran leadership.

Lets face it, it has to be better than last year!

Over in Belleville the Bulls, playing in the OHL, have got off to a flyer with 5 wins and just 1 defeat in their opening 6 games.

It seems that the team is building on what was a very impressive season last time out.  Again we will wait and see if the team gives all the fans false hope at the beginning of the season again.

So after all of this, come April/May where do I think each team will be?

  • Panthers I think will finish 3rd or 4th in the league this season and at least make either the Challenge Cup or Playoff final.
  • Sabres I feel will just miss out on the playoffs! (Not bad for this young team)
  • Bulls – Playoffs again but I can’t really see us going past the 2nd Round.

This weekend sees Panthers take on Fife Flyers in a home and home series, at the NIC on Saturday before travelling to Kirkcaldy for the return on Sunday.

It would be nice to take 4 points this weekend but realistically I can only see it be 2, maybe 3 if we can sneak overtime in Fife!

A New Venture Into Blogging!

So here we go… my new venture in Blogging!

Several years ago I was part of a blog to do with a group of Nottingham Panthers supporters but after a couple of years it all fell by the wayside! So now I feel the time is right to go back into the world of blogs.

So where do I start with my first piece on my new blog, well how about a brief introductory piece and what you can expect to find on this blog.

Well my name is Mark although most people probably know me better as Sammo.  I live in Nottingham and currently split my time between living in Lady Bay and also at my fiances in Kimberley.

During the summer you will probably find mostly ‘cricket’ related posts on here as I open the bowling for Thrumpton, hence the blog name, in the Gunn & Moore South Nottinghamshire Cricket League as well as coaching 2 age groups in the Leics & Rutland Cricket League.

Then during the winter I spend most of my time following the Nottingham Panthers, Belleville Bulls and the Buffalo Sabres in Ice Hockey.

I am also a very keen NFL fan, supporting the Philadelphia Eagles and have only missed 1 Wembley game (that being the very 1st one)

I have a keen interest in Heritage Railways, N Gauge Model Railways and I’m also in the process of starting a veg garden at home, so expect some project news on these as things progress further.

I’m sure you will also see plenty of mentions and references to my fiance Ellen, who I actually do a hell of a lot of this stuff with and to be honest shes allowed me to rediscover some of my passions that I’d lost in the past.

Hopefully this gives you an overall look into my crazy life and hopefully you will find at least something of interest on here.