Waiting to go on the ice for the first game

Goalie Austin Hathcoat stops a Utah Grizzlies scoring attempt

Can-Am Challenge Hockey Tournament

   

Photos          Related Links         More Travel Reports

Dateline: Las Vegas - From October 11 to 14, for the third time in nine months, I found myself in Las Vegas, this time for another hockey tournament. My grandson Mikie and his Bantam level team swept a tournament here last February. Along with about ten of his teammates, he has moved up to the Midget level, the final category for youth hockey.

Midget teams are either 18 and under kids or 16 and under. The Fresno Junior Monsters are 16-U, but they play against some 18-U teams in tournaments and exhibition games. This event was the CAN AM Challenge.

I had a meeting Thursday morning at 9:00 and wanted to have a good breakfast, so I got up about 7, an hour or more earlier than my usual wake up time.  With the first game Friday at 10, Mikie would miss school that day, but we didn't want him to leave early on Thursday, so I made plans to pick him up when he got home at 3:00.

As has happened too often, getting to Vegas was an adventure on its own. Scattered thunderstorms were forecast for Las Vegas and the nearby mountain and desert areas. We were not worried about snow (which plagued us two years ago), since none was expected below 7,000 feet. However, a common component of thunderstorms is hail, and we had a little of that.

We got on the road a little after 3 p.m. Traffic was not bad, and we even made it through Bakersfield at 5:00 with only a few minutes of slow driving on Highway 99 heading into town.

Going east on state 58 was even smoother, and we stopped for dinner at a Denny's in Tehachapi, getting back on the road just before dark. We zipped along nicely through Mojave, Kramer Junction, and Barstow, where we headed north on I-15. We soon began to see lightning far in the distance, and we had a little rain off and on.

After we passed Baker and went over the high point at Halloran Summit at 4,000 feet, we we're treated to a spectacular lightning display, with many cloud-to-cloud sparks, including at one point two horizontal sparks, one above the other. Other times the flashes lit up the silhouette of mountains in front of the light.

As we approached Valley Wells, the last rest stop in California, Mikie finally fell asleep, and I was about to do the same. We pulled into the rest stop where I planned to snooze a few minutes. A gentle, soothing rain began to fall on the roof of the car, followed quickly by the sound of machine gun fire. Well, not really, but was LOUD and woke up Mikie. I looked out the window and saw these white lumps beside the car, and realized it was hail. I needed to go into the restroom, but waited till the hail turned back to gentle rain. By this time the top of the car and the windshield were partly covered, but it was slushy and soon melted off.

We didn't have any further severe weather till we got into Las Vegas. We took US 95 at the north end of town, and for much of the next four miles, pounding rain and water in the road kept speeds down to 40 or 50 MPH.

Due to the storm my GPS kept losing the satellite connection, but it reconnected in seconds most of the time. We made it to the hotel a little after 11, and got to bed by 11:30, with a 6:30 wake up call in store.

The Courtyard by Marriott had not only given us a good group rate, they set up a buffet breakfast for players and family. The kids had to arrive by 7:00, with parents and siblings eating at 7:30. This gave us a little under an hour before it was time to leave for the Fiesta Rancho Hotel and Casino, one of two rinks being used for this tournament, about four miles away on a very direct route.

Our first opponent was the New Mexico Storm, a team said to be AA level (the Monsters are single A).  The monsters opened the scoring near the end of the first period, then scored twice more in the second. Maybe the boys thought they could coast to an easy win, but for whatever reason they took their foot off the gas pedal, a bad idea against any team. The Storm scored just over a minute into the third period, then again half way through, and finally with less than 90 seconds left in the game, ending the contest in a tie, and giving both teams a point in the standings.

Kids and parents then headed for the buffet, where the hotel graciously gave us a banquet room and allowed us to pay for the entire group with a single credit card, with a flat charge of $8 per person, tax and tip included. The parents then reimbursed the person who provided the card.

With another game in about three hours, the coach admonished the kids to avoid pizza and other heavy foods, but I noticed many players slipping a slice or two on to their plates. Would this come back to haunt them in the later game?

We had time to go back to the hotel for about two hours rest, then it was back to the Fiesta for game two against the Utah Junior Grizzlies. This team was reported to be the weakest of the five in the Midget level, but the earlier tie had taught the Monsters not to take any team for granted. After a scoreless first period, the Grizzlies drew first blood, but Fresno came back five minutes later with two goals 35 seconds apart, both scored by team captain Jacob Haynes. Fresno made it 3-1 ten seconds into the third period, after which the teams traded scoring with two more goals each. Haynes put in the final tally for the hat trick, and the Monsters triumphed 5-3. No pizza hangover for our guys!

Everyone was on their own for eating and other activities for the evening, with the boys given a 9:30 curfew by Coach Bobby Barlow. Mikie and several teammates walked to a nearby McDonald's, then played video games at Best Buy until time to head back to the hotel for the night. So much for Vegas night life when you're 15.

After the big lunch buffet, I had no further interest in eating for the night, so I sat in the lobby with several of the parents and had a beer. Mikie and I got upstairs and into bed by 10 with a wakeup call waiting us at 6:15 in the morning.

Our 9:30 game was at the Las Vegas Ice Center, a little farther away but still an easy trip with very little traffic that early in the morning. Our opponent, the Arizona Hockey Union Purple from Peoria lost their first game 5-1 and won their second one by the same score so we did not know what to expect.

Fresno got the first goal but Arizona quickly came back with two. We tied it early in the second but Arizona answered with two more goals, winning the game 4-2.

This left the Monsters with three points in the standings and a must-win game in the afternoon against the Las Vegas Junior Wranglers, one of the top ranked teams in the tournament. The Wranglers' leading scorer, Coby Downs, put in the first goal of the game just seconds before the first period horn sounded. Fresno tied it just over a minute into the second but Downs responded two minutes later. The remaining nine minutes of the second and the first six of the third saw intense physical play but no more goals.

Then Connor Smythe tied it for Fresno, and Justin Russo put in what would prove to be the winning goal.

Fresno would still need help from other teams to get into the gold medal game, and as usual, other teams had their own agenda. In the end, the Monsters tied for second. The tie-breaker was fewest goals against, and with one more than the New Mexico Storm, Fresno finished in third.

The Jr. Wranglers finished fourth, setting up a re-match in the bronze medal game Sunday morning.

For Saturday lunch it was "get your own," but bring it back to the hotel so the boys could hang out together. We found a Quiznos and enjoyed the sandwich, drink and chips. Saturday night Mikie again went with his crew to McDonald's and Best Buy. I did not want a big dinner, so I decided on a chocolate chip cookie sundae from the hotel diner, very delicious and certainly lower in calories than a hamburger from the Heart Attack Grill, which several families had visited Friday night.

Sunday's game was at 11:40, so everyone was able to get a good rest and have breakfast at a more civilized hour, 8:30 for the kids and 9:00 for parents and siblings.

We got everything packed up, then checked out and left for the rink about 10:20, giving the team plenty of time for pre-game activities. This usually includes a jog around the outside of the building, and most days a low-key game of ball hockey out in the parking lot.

For me it usually means reading and chatting with other parents, but since this game and Friday's were at a casino, I had to see what I could do to contribute to the Nevada economy. On Friday I put in a $5 bill, which soon disappeared. I don't operate on the assumption that if I put in more I will surely win, so that ended my gambling for the day. On Sunday I found a likely looking penny machine and inserted a $20. Playing mostly 25 cents at a time, I didn't even win a few pennies the first few spins. Down to a little over $17 I considered changing machines, but went for another spin. The machine began dinging, and just kept it up for a long time, paying a $26 jackpot. With enough profit to pay for dinner on the way home, I cashed out and went out to the car to work on this report.

After the close and physical game between Fresno and Las Vegas Saturday, we expected the same for the Sunday game, and indeed it was. There were 19 penalties between the two teams, with Vegas taking one more, while Fresno's Andrew Pellegrino accounted for four, which results in ejection from the game, and suspension from the next game. Andrew also provided the first goal of the game, but Las Vegas star player Coby Downs answered just over a minute later. Jacob Haynes and Landon Sciacca also scored in the first to give the Monsters a two-goal lead, but Downs closed to within one with a goal late in the period.

Downs is a big, highly skilled kid, but not very physical, and Fresno parents went wild when he was knocked down by a check from Brennan Achee, the smallest player on the Monsters team.

In the second and third periods, each team put up one more goal per period. The Wranglers' Tyler Anderson, assisted by Downs, raised Vegas fans' hopes by tying the score less than two minutes into the second, but Jacob Haynes put Fresno ahead again late in the period. Fresno added one more goal from Brennan Achee early in the third, and the boys in green and white held that two-goal lead through most of the rest of the game. Las Vegas' Anderson scored once more at 10:45, but the Monsters stayed strong and held off the Wranglers intense attack in the final minute and a half to take the bronze medal game 5-4.

After the usual pile-on celebration, the teams lined up for the traditional handshake, then Fresno's triumphant team stood on the ice as each player was presented a medal. A few quick team photos concluded the hockey weekend, and after players changed, we said our goodbyes to parents, teammates and siblings, and went our separate ways for the long trip home.

The storm had moved on by Saturday morning, and there were no weather issues going home. There were a lot of sections where concrete barriers have been set up seemingly inches from the travel lane due to construction, but since it was Sunday, no workers were active. Most of this was on Highway 99, and traffic slowed down to 70 MPH in these zones.

Mikie and I stopped for lunch at Los Domingos in Barstow, a Mexican restaurant I've visited several times. Anxious to get home, Mikie was hoping for a quick fast food stop, but by way of compromise I asked the waiter to bring a box and the bill immediately, so that when Mikie finished, I could pack up the rest of my food and we could get out quickly.

We made only one more stop, at Murray Farms at the bottom of Tehachapi Grade east of Bakersfield, probably a first for me, since normally I never pass up a rest stop. We got on the road about 1:30, and arrived at Mikie's house around 9, to be greeted by Tim and Teri and two enthusiastic dogs. I visited for a few minutes, but since I still had a dozen miles to go back to my condo in Clovis, I was on my way quickly. When we rolled into his driveway I jokingly said to Mikie, "Be sure to forget something like you usually do." Ever obedient, he left his tool kit and his medal for me to discover when I unloaded the car at home.

Coach Bobby Barlow posted this post-tournament comment on the team's Shutterfly Page:

Sitting in the passenger seat staring out the window somewhere between Baker and Barstow reflecting back on the weekend. I remember driving over the mountains and descending into Las Vegas into an incredible thunder and lightning storm. So what began with the Storm and a 3-3 tie  ended with a thundering check from Brotank [Brennan Achee] that put the Star [Downs] of the Las Vegas Wranglers out and ended the Wranglers' hope of a comeback. 
3-1-1 record - great job boys. Final note: The two teams that made the finals were both the two AA teams in the tournament with Arizona beating New Mexico 2-1. I still think YOU were the best team there. See you Tuesday.

So ended our journey, a total of 909 miles.

This web address shows only the final standings, but there are links on the left to individual games and score sheets. If you get to a page that has all the divisions, look for the Sarajevo/Midget division. All divisions were named for Winter Olympic cities.

--Dick Estel, October 2012

   

Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)
(Photos marked "AP" taken by Amy Perez)

Ice arena at Fiesta Hotel

Hockey Moms Waiting to go on the ice for the first gameWaiting to go on the ice for the first game
Ice arena at Fiesta Hotel

Hockey Moms (they can kick your Soccer Mom's ass any day!)

Waiting to go on the ice for the first game
    
Attacking the net against New Mexico Goalie Austin Hathcoat stops a Utah Grizzlies scoring attempt Las Vegas Ice Center

Attacking the net against New Mexico

Goalie Austin Hathcoat stops a Utah Grizzlies scoring attempt (AP)

Las Vegas Ice Center
  
Mikie races to the puck vs. Arizona Celebrating the Saturday win against Las Vegas Monsters salute their fans after the win
Mikie races to the puck vs. Arizona Celebrating the Saturday win against Las Vegas

Monsters salute their fans after the win

    
Captain Jacob Haynes sweeps the puck away from an opponent's stick Jacob Buck wins the puck battle in the corner Boston Lindlahr about to slip past a defender
Captain Jacob Haynes sweeps the puck away from an opponent's stick (AP) Jacob Buck wins the puck battle in the corner (AP) Boston Lindlahr about to slip past a defender (AP)
    
Monsters celebrate a second win over Las Vegas The final score of the Bronze Medal Game Mikie receives his medal
Monsters celebrate a second win over Las Vegas (AP) The final score of the Bronze Medal Game (AP) Mikie receives his medal
    
Medals from the official; hugs from the coach The Fresno Junior Monsters Midget A TeamThe Fresno Junior Monsters Midget A Team The bronze medal
Medals from the official; hugs from the coach (AP) The Fresno Junior Monsters Midget A Team (AP) The bronze medal
    
Mikie is greeted by a teammate's brother, Pee Wee player Josh Russo Las Vegas sunset, Friday night Nice mountains, too many signs

Mikie is greeted by a teammate's brother, Pee Wee player Josh Russo

Las Vegas sunset, Friday night Nice mountains, too many signs
    
Warming up with a game of ball hockey Logan Errotabere, Brennan Achee, Andrew Pellegrino, Mike Perez, Mikie Liddle being kids in the hotel lobby

Warming up with a game of ball hockey

Logan Errotabere, Brennan Achee, Andrew Pellegrino, Mike Perez, Mikie Liddle being kids in the hotel lobby (AP)
Related Links
Monsters Shutterfly Page (photos, schedule, news, etc - requires free registration)
Final Standings Monsters Stats Page Monsters Pix on Shutterfly
Heart Attack Grill
(for those with a death wish only)
Courtyard by Marriott

New Mexico Storm (page not active)

Fresno Junior Monsters Monsters NORCAL League page City of Las Vegas
Utah Junior Grizzlies Arizona Hockey Union Purple Las Vegas Junior Wranglers
Dick's 2009 Snowy Vegas Trip Dick's July 2012 Vegas Trip Fiesta Rancho Hotel and Casino
The Fresno Junior Monsters Midget A Team

Jacob Buck wins the puck battle in the corner

 
Travel Reports
   
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008

2009    2010    2011    2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     Other

   
Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
1961 Monterey Jazz Festival Bluegrass Odyssey
   
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
   
2002
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
   
2003
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
   
2004
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
   
2005
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
   
2006
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
   
2007
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
   
2008
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
   
2009
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove   
Hensley Lake Camp
2010
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
    Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
    
2012 
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
  
2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment)
Other
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email
   
 

Updated July 21, 2017