Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year-my computer is fixed

A quick post here to say I am back in business in terms of my blog. My computer is back up and running and though I am still having some problems with iPhoto and a few other programs, I will have no problem writing some articles.  A special thanks to Eric Mauffrey for taking my Macbook into work to get fixed by his special computer nerds (kidding).

So with the New Year coming in tonight, we are going to put the past behind when we speak of our last few games of December, where we have struggled defensively and been even worse offensively having been shutout in 2 of our last 4 games.  So lets ring in the New Year of 2009 with a nice win against a very powerful Rouen team when they come into our rink on January 3rd.

Happy New Year to everyone in Canada and France and if I have any readers in other parts of the world. Be safe, enjoy your last day of 2008 and get those New Years Resolutions in order and set to take effect ASAP!!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Joyeux Noel

It has been way too long since my last blog and I take 50% of the blame for it. On my part, after our embarassing 11-0 loss to Amiens, I really was not in the mood for writing anything, and on the other side, my computer is not working. So if you know anything about Macs let me know, cause I cant get past the first grey screen with the apple logo and circle charging thing.

So this will be my second year missing Christmas with my family back in Canada but it shouldn't be as bad as last year as I now know many more people here in Epinal and can almost start to call this place home! Before my computer went down, I was still planning on spending Christmas morning with my family via Webcam, but that will now have to be done over the phone :( In preparing for that, I spent the last week learning Christmas songs on my guitar and have been pretty solid with "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells," "Rudolph," and "Silent Night." It is even better when they have a french version of these songs because the chords are still the same on the guitar, but it appeals to a larger audience! Oh and I almost forgot Adam Sandler's Chanukkah song!

It is really hard to express just how much I love Christmas, and if my computer was up and running then I would be able to put up the pictures from the great Christmas Market in Strasbourg or show how I decorated the windows in our house with fake snow. Well like every year I have to go finish up my Christmas shopping the day before the big day and for a change open up some presents tonight. Normally back home we are up at 6am to start opening the presents up, but it seems in Europe they the 24th is more important than the 25th, and the gift opening follows a great meal which lasts usually 3-4 hours. I will have to let everybody know how it goes.

Merry Christmas Joyeux Noel!!!

Monday, 8 December 2008

OT Win vs. Briancon

Since the St. Nicolas is such a big deal in Epinal, our game was moved to the Friday night because we feared there would be no fans at our game. Good thing it was changed because the 1300 fans we had saw one of the most exciting games (from what I hear) Epinal has ever played. Facing off against the 1st place power house Briancon, who had not lost since September 13th in Rouen, we knew our game had to be perfect, unlike our game against them earlier this year where we lost 11-3 in their building.

There is just something about our rink and our fans that makes it very tough for opposing teams to come to Epinal and leave with 2 points. Last year with only 2 games left in the season, Briancon was in first place. They came into Epinal and went down 3-0 early, then rallied to tie and send the game into overtime. Where on that night, with my family in the stands I was able to play hero and end the game on a slap shot on the power play! This year's game had some similarities.

Instead of us grabbing the early lead, we went down 3-0 in the first period and had many people thinking the game was already over. Besides the ridiculous amount of penalties Briancon took that allowed us back into the game, I strongly believe the key factor for our comeback was that we always "believed." Sure they were the best team in the league and they were up 3 goals on us early but we were not playing a bad game, they just capitalized on their chances. They were very undisciplined and put us on the power play 5 on 3 to start the 2nd period. There were were able to get ourselves back into the game with Ilpo Salmivirta scoring twice on that power play. The first on one of our set plays "Slap Pass" as I take a slap shot right to his stick and he deflects it through his legs. Then Petrak set him up backdoor for a tap in. We scored 2 more power play goals in the 2nd period and found ourselves down 5-4 heading into the 3rd period. Briancon's 5th goal came at the end of the period and actually went right off my face before crossing the line and into the net. I went down to block the backdoor pass, when it deflected off our goalie Stan's stick and shot up into my face. Good thing for my mouth guard, but bad break for our team.

In the 3rd period neither team had any great scoring chances, but with just under 4 minutes left to play, off a face off, Guillaume Chassard tied it up with his 2nd goal of the night. That was the life we needed but just as we were gaining momentum, our Captain Jan Plch was sent off for 2 minutes on a terrible call by the referee. Even after watching the video, I still have no clue what the penalty was for? It was then that our 6th man (Les Supporters) took over, booing and whistling during the whole penalty, as Briancon struggled to get anything set up. When Overtime started we still had 12 seconds left to kill off, then we went to work. Jan Simko with his blazing speed broke down the wing and was almost in alone when he was hauled down, drawing one of many penalty calls in the game, sending our lethal power play to work once again.

Many shots were fired but nothing was connecting and just as the Briancon player was stepping out of the box, Jan Plch set me up for a one-timer and I finally got a hold of one, blasting it into the top right hand corner, right under the crossbar. Almost a carbon copy of my goal last season in Overtime against the same Briancon team. I didn't have anything really planned in terms of a celebration, so on the video you can see me jumping up and down like a little kid on Christmas morning when he realized Santa has brought him a WWF Wrestling Ring (Gervais Family Christmas 1991).

I called my mom right after the game to tell her about it, because she, along with my brother Andre and sister Elise were at the game last year against Briancon. I said on the phone "mom it was just like last year." She responded "oh really, you guys beat them again, oh that's so great." I said "Ya it is great, but I don't think you understand, it was EXACTLY like last year." Then there was a bit of a pause " didn't... Steph? Did got the goal??? Come on....Steph???" Yes mom, I scored the goal, it was a great game for our team and once again our fans (Supporters) were just amazing, and so loud, geez I thought the roof was going to collapse in our old rink, or at least some of the glass windows shatter from how loud it was.

Also I just found out that the local TV station (Images Plus) shows some highlights of the game and even replays the whole game sometimes. So if anyone wants to see some clips of the game and our great win against the best team in Ligue Magnus, follow the link below! You can watch it in full screen too!!!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

No Internet! No Blog!

Sorry I have not posted anything as of late, but we have not had any Internet at our house for a while now. This morning the guy from France Telecom came and took care of it, so keep your fingers crossed that no more problems occur. Let me try to think back to what we missed here..... we lost in Rouen and were eliminated from the Coupe de la Ligue, and then last Saturday we took one of our longer trips out to Angers and played a solid game against one of the top teams and lost in Overtime.

Since there has been no Internet, I have been spending most of my time playing my guitar and my recently purchased harmonica. I bought this guitar when I got to France last year and have been playing now for just over a year. I try to focus on playing songs that everyone knows and can sing along with but with the language barrier and all, it proves to find any songs the my french friends know. So I have been working on one a bit, not the most manly song but it is popular right now "Toi + Moi" hahaha. Using the guitar/harmonica combo, I try to play some Bob Dylan songs like "Blowing in the wind," "Hurricane" and cannot forget the song that my dad has just butchered for as long as I can remember, "Mr. Tambourine Man." I can honestly say that my dad has attempted to sing that song every day of his life and has never known the words. It usually goes something like "Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, sing a song for me, gingle gangle ringle rangle, bingle bangle tangle!" and then it keeps repeating, and repeating, and repeating. Only those words.........

Ok, moving on.... oh yes, I cannot forget my go to song of Billy Joel's Piano Man, I am excited to get back to Canada where people have actually heard of it and will be able to sing along. That will have to wait though. I was scheduled to head home mid December because we have a week long break while the National teams get together in Europe, but since we play on the 23rd of December against Angers in Coupe de France, we have to be back a bit earlier than expected. The flights to Canada and back were 1400 Euro or about $2300 Canadian so it is not going to be possible. I have to somehow find a way to get all my Christmas presents from my mom still???

Well that is all, a quick little entry here to get the ball rolling again and since the Internet is back up and running, I will be able to write more regularly. I appreciate all the hassle from my good friend Rob Weitemeyer whose highlight of the day is reading my blog and then mocking me as he speaks to me in only quotes from my articles. It is amazing he is able to laugh and smile again as he still endures pain from having his Wisdom Teeth removed 3 years ago.