Finally, I can move on


Here on The Blog, we make every effort to be free of partiality when discussing hockey’s highest level.

Not so, though, when talking about the amateur game. You already know my devotion to my beloved UNH Wildcats. But not to be discounted as well is my allegiance to my old high school varsity, Rye High School, which last night helped exorcise some personal demons with a win over upstate Salmon River in the state quarterfinals (here’s the story from my colleague Dan Kiernan, who “made the bold trek to the North Country”:

It was exactly 15 years ago that yours truly played against Salmon River for Rye in the state semifinals in Utica. I was supposedly our team’s best face-off man, and with our team down a goal late in the second period, my coach John Zegras sent me out to take a crucial defensive zone draw to close out the period. I can still see vividly what happened next. I lost the draw, a Salmon River defenseman fired a shot through a screen and past our goalie Brad Erbsland (who, fittingly, played a season at UNH), and the second goal proved to be devastating in an eventual 4-2 loss.

As much as I love playing hockey, seeing that puck in the back of the net probably ranks as the worst feeling I’ve known in sports. Good thing there weren’t blogs and internet message boards back then, or I probably would have been skewered.

On the other side, though, is the sense of triumph those Rye players are feeling right now. Enjoy it fellas, and keep it going. And whatever you do, make sure you tie up your man off the draw.

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  1. Doodie Machetto on

    “And whatever you do, make sure you tie up your man off the draw”

    Especially if you’re playing against the Buffalo Sabres who are allowed to set a pick to keep your forwards to getting to the other team’s defensemen.

  2. Longtimerangerfan on

    Enjoy your blog Sam and especially the new audio that you provide. Keep up the good work.

  3. Doodie Machetto on

    Oh, and I should add, that if you are picked off illegally, don’t complain about it to the referees after the game or they will target your team for the rest of the season, especially if you complain again later.

  4. Sam, love reading your blog. Sorry to hear that you lost that draw and the puck fired past Brad Erbsland. I actually went to Plattsburgh State and was there when Brad Erbland transferred to PSU from UNH and starred as our goalie for a couple of years.

  5. Longtimerangerfan on

    The Ranger’s need to forget about the scoreboard and just take care of what they can. One shift, one period, one game at a time. They should have finished first last year but couldn’t hold on so maybe, just maybe, they can gain ground instead of lose it like last year. Hopefully they will utilize the callups to their advantage and not just let them ride the bench.

  6. Rangers Pride on

    I think Straka should be given some time to rest since he can not shoot. He will get killed in the next Isles game. They will come out physically.

  7. Isn’t that the worst when NY State makes you go all the way up to Dreary Utica in these crappy winter months, Sam? I remember going to a state final game for Suffern up there back in the day. I ate one of their delicious nachos and hot dogs and vomited the rest of the game. Ah childhood memories.

  8. “As much as I love playing hockey, seeing that puck in the back of the net probably ranks as the worst feeling I’ve known in sports.”

    That is unless, of course, you’re the one that fired it there, in which case there’s nothing sweeter. Couple nights ago in my beer league, I caught a pass at center ice, sprinted up the boards, and then cut in toward the net. At the last second, I fired a backhand top-shelf, then looped behind the net. I knew it was burried because I saw the puck sitting there in the back corner of the net. Even though it was a BS beer league game(and my team was already eliminated from the POs), the bliss of seeing that puck behind the tender hasn’t diminished any.

    Good to see a post where there’s talk about hockey ONLY.

  9. Colorado Mark on


    Can you clarify the roster situation for us if possible. Someone mentioned that Immo was an emergency callup for Straka and that that was the reason he couldn’t play when Straka rejoined the lineup. That might explain some things. Also, according to the Rangers site, both Dubi and Liffiton are emergency recalls, and I remember reading that they won’t count as one of our 4 callups. But someone else posted that they did. Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Colorado Mark on

    And are the emergency callups tied to a specific player as in: Immo/Straka, Dubi/Hossa, Liffiton/Mara or Tyutin?

  11. I hate to break it to you Sam, but my Monroe-Woodbury boys are taking your guys down on Sunday!

  12. Sam,

    The even weirder thing is, I am currently student-teaching at Salmon River and was at the game routing for my students. I see the Salmon River players every day. I wanted them to beat Rye, who had knocked off my alma matter Ossining in the Sectional playoffs.

  13. I played intermural at Ramapo College and as a team we made it to the finals every year and somehow got beat by the other teams. We were a non frat team and the (brothers) were always the refs. My senior year we lost to a real good team made of foreign students that just had pure talent. It was in overtime and it was such a crushing defeat. I came back as an alumni the next year, to captain my team to an undefeated season and our first win. Nothing can beat that feeling.

  14. I don’t believe Dubinsky and Liffiton count toward the Rangers’ four-callup limit. The only one so far is Isbister, which is why he wasn’t on the Wolf Pack’s “Clear Day” playoff roster and will be remaining with the Rangers. Hannu Pikkarainen can’t join the Pack because he hasn’t played at least eight games in the ECHL, so Ryan Constant has joined the Pack for tonight’s game at Manchester. If he doesn’t make, they’ll be two men short against the team they’re trying to catch for first place. That’s why it’s such a waste to bring up guys if they’re not going to play. It hurts the Pack, who also are fighting for a playoff spot.

  15. OT: Neil, how is Ramapo? What are the students like? I ask because I have a friend who is a new professor there. Thanks in advance.

  16. If Isbister only had the hands of Hossa, his loss would not be as big a deal. Oh well, let’s see what happens guys.

  17. Ramapo was a great school and a really nice melting pot of good people. I met my wife there. There are a lot of commuters but living there was a lot of fun. The teachers were great.

  18. I graduated from there in 99 and I am a teacher now. Their Education and Psychology program is excellent. They are mostly known for their Creative Arts program though.

  19. Haha I went to Ramapo College too! (99-01) I didn’t play any sports there though. Living on campus was pretty cool, especially the apartments. I was in the Arts (computer art) and that was pretty good.

  20. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Someone on claims Blair Betts actually impersonated Esa Tikkanen (vs. ’97 Panthers) and put the puck off the back of the net and out – but that it was so fast no one noticed and it never got sent for review.

    …can anyone confirm or deny that?

  21. Neil Katcher on


    I think we may have played against each other back in our high school days. I played for Clarkstown South… and we’re the same age.

  22. DumpJagrDope on

    “…can anyone confirm or deny that?”

    I thought so too, but the morons did not show a slow motion replay

  23. Sam- I know you feel bad about losing the draw, but I am sure that the goalie feels even worse. As a fellow goalie, it feels horrible when you let in a goal at the end of a period or a game.

  24. someone last night said they reviewed it on their TiVo and it clearly hit the post guys

  25. True Fans Bleed RW&B–i’ve heard the claims that the betts shot went in and i’ve seen a bunch of still frames and the replay several times and have seen NOTHING to suggest the puck definitely went in and hit the camera. it did make an odd sound, but you can’t tell from the angle we got. you’d have to see the overhead view…

  26. DanTheRangerFan on


    Any word on this phantom goal? Lot’s of buzz pass few day’s, yet no clarification that betts should have had the winner. On replay its very hard to tell (I DONT HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS)

  27. Hey Sam, do you play open hockey? And if so, where at?

    I used to play Juniors, i played 1 year at michigan before signing a contract with a team in Germany…that basically ended my career due to a late knee on knee hit…the closest ive came to the NHL was being talked about for the NHL draft.

    Anyway, i play open hockey aswell as D1 Adult League all the time, im king of pick up hockey. I play everywhere from Jersey, New York…i’ve even went as far as hartford to play a game. Let me know if and where you play, ill come through and you write a story about me…i can def take Maliks, Rachuneks, Pocks or any D-man on this teams place.

  28. DanTheRangerFan on

    Wow we got ourselves a horn tooter…I bet you can score goals like JJ too….hey everyone its King Newman on the ice! Im Sorry but im sure Sam has better things to write about.

  29. Colorado Mark on

    EB- You beat me to it! Nice. Have you seen the NHL on NBC ad called “Road Trip?” Sidney Crosby does a great, Seifeldian “Ovechkin!” Very funny (Even has Shanny throwing water balloons out the window).

  30. DumpJagrDope on

    “Have you seen the NHL on NBC ad called “Road Trip?â€? Sidney Crosby does a great, Seifeldian “Ovechkin!â€? Very funny (Even has Shanny throwing water balloons out the window).”

    I didn’t like it.

  31. Dan the ranger fan, are you the cornball around here?

    Listen “Danny boy”, dont act tough behind a computer, just because you get slapped around outside or even inside of your house, doesnt let you be a wise ass online. Homers like you make the internet worse eachday.

  32. Newman, if you play D1 Adult league, I seriously doubt you could be the stick boy, never mind replace anyone on the Rangers! I play A1 and B1 here in NJ and had a chance to play against some Devils Alumni (it was’nt pretty). I also play with Bruce Driver regularly. These guys are alot bigger and faster than they are given credit for!

  33. I was on that team with Sam and that sequence was a tough one to swallow even now because we were the better team. We did not get much help from the men in stripes but that is not an excuse. If Sam was as good then as he is now who knows what the outcome would have been ;-). I kid I kid.

    We got revenge and will triumph this weekend.

  34. Gerry D, I play at the ice house, they dont have a1 or b1…if i knew where A1 was available, id def take my chances and try out. I heard Bruce Driver plays aswell as some of the former USSR players. Kasantonov and Starikov. Except i dont know where. Let me know whats up. Ill come by and you tell me if good enough to be a stick boy.

  35. Sam,

    No worries my friend! The goal was my fault. I should never have let a goal in from the point!! Still have trouble dealing with that one! Hope all is well! Be good!!!

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