Rush Broadcaster Mark Binetti checks in with “On the ‘Mark’” – a series of thoughts in his head about the Rapid City Rush, hockey, the world of sports, and more. This week, Binetti talks about the recent road trip in Wichita, consistency in hockey, experiences in the broadcast booth, and talks about college band:
1) This weekend’s set of games could not have set up this team any better for Denver this week. Despite a slightly slow start in the first period on Friday, the Rush got their act together a ripped off four unanswered goals, en route to a 4-1 win. Saturday posed a slightly tougher challenge against a very desperate Wichita Thunder Club, but ultimately the Rush would prevail thanks to Jesse Schultz’ game-winner with 3:39 left in regulation, with a 4-2 win.
2) I felt terrible for Tim Boron on Friday night, as he was 5:29 away from his first shutout of the season. Since returning to the Black Hills, Boron has been a game-changing goalie, and has won 11 of his 12 appearances this season. He stopped 62/65 shots on the weekend in helping the Rush take home 4 more extremely important standings points. Keep your head up Tim, you will get a shutout really soon, I can feel it.
3) After the team’s optional skate on Saturday, Romeo, our equipment manager, and I got some ice time and he walked me through some hockey drills. In some ways, I feel like Batman/Bruce Wayne in this scenario. Romeo provided me with my armor (equipment), my weapon (stick), and my combat training (hockey practice). If I am truly Batman/Bruce Wayne, then that kind of makes Romeo Lucius Fox from the “Dark Knight” trilogy, which makes him Morgan Freeman in disguise. No wonder everyone likes him.
4) There was a lot of great hockey this weekend, but at the end of the day it came down to contribution from all levels of this team. On Friday, rookie forward Kyle Stroh scored his second career goal, which happened to be a short-handed tally. I don’t know of any (or many) pros that could say their second career goal was a shorty. Sean Erickson tallied his first point as a Rush player on Saturday night, assisting Tristin Llewellyn’s game-tying goal in the 2nd period, and Brett Kostolansky scored his first career goal on an empty-netter to seal the win on Saturday night. Great to see hard-working people get rewarded for doing the small things right.
5) Kostolansky’s first pro goal was a great sight. He was called for a slashing penalty that neither Tim Acheson nor I saw in the 3rd period Saturday night, and went to the box with 3:07 left in regulation in a crucial moment in what was a 3-2 game at the time. At the end of his two minutes, Kostolansky came storming out of the penalty box, received the puck, and had a wide open 4’x6’ to shoot on. As Tim said in the broadcast, “it [was] poetic justice”.
6) In the middle of the second intermission, the Thunder held their version of the “Chuck a Puck” event that just about every hockey team employs. The Thunder PA announcer instructed the fans to not target the video board as they threw their pucks onto the ice (if they did, they’d get kicked out of the stadium). I don’t know if any of you have been to the INTRUST Bank Arena, but that video board is pretty high in the stadium. I honestly don’t think a recreation of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary play could have hit that board if given the chance…very odd request given the scenario. By the way, if you don’t know who Doug Flutie is, or what his Hail Mary play was, see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3ykWbu2Gl0.
7) On the subject of contribution: Winston Day Chief, Jesse Schultz, and Konrad Reeder have been playing some of the most consistent hockey for the Rush all season. On Saturday, each of these gentlemen extended their respective statistical streaks: Reeder and Schultz have 9 game point streaks, and Day Chief has a 5 game point streak. I always like to joke that that’s consistency you can’t buy, but these guys are on contract, so I guess you can after all.
8) Tim Acheson was phenomenal as always in the booth this weekend. It’s always great to have a former referee in the booth the break down why certain calls were/weren’t made, even if we don’t understand why they were made and/or missed on the ice. I took it as a bad sign that we would be in for a long weekend with the zebras when Tim would constantly throw his hands in the air as the games progressed. I know superfans for any team in any league have that reaction when they don’t like a call, but when a former referee with his experience reacts like that, you know something is wrong. Needless to say, he has been a great addition to my booth, and I cannot wait to have him with me when we go to Allen to play the defending CHL champs in 2 weeks.
9) This weekend on my brief “honorable mention” section on my scoreboard segment in the intermissions on Saturday, I gave my typical shout out to my alma mater, the South Carolina Gamecocks. However the score of their football game (70-10 win over Coastal Carolina) was the last thing on my mind. Saturday marked Alumni Band Weekend for “The Mighty Sound of the Southeast”, the Carolina Marching Band, an organization I was extremely proud and honored to be a part of in my college years. This marks the second time I have missed the alumni band festivities, and I hope that all of my friends that did go had an absolute blast. I know a lot of them listened into the game Saturday night, and hope they all enjoyed the shout out as well.
10) Being in the college marching band was a BLAST. Traveling to SEC stadiums and watching the best college football in the United States was a privilege, and cheering on my team through thick and thin was an honor. Aside from visiting historic football stadiums in the SEC, the best part had to be playing in our pregame show. We would form a tunnel for the football team to run through, as the stadium played what Sports Illustrated calls “the best entrance in college football”: coming out to the theme from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. You can see that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv_U3uNhYiQ. That game was against LSU my junior year (we lost, despite having a 17-7 halftime lead). If you look really closely you can see me and my silver trombone in the tunnel we formed for the players. Being on the field when that song plays and 86,000+ fans scream their lungs out is such an adrenaline rush. I got to live that moment 7 home games a year for four years…best times ever.
11) Unfortunately, for as much fun as I had in the college marching band, this did NOT happen for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fZCCAqoSwY. I can only hope to have a call this great and vintage like Joe Starkey (the Cal Bears radio announcer in the video) did in my career.
12) If you ever want to hear a really cool story, ask me about the trombone I played on in high school and college. I’ll give you a brief teaser: it’s been in my family for 126 years. Let the questions commence.
13) This week is an important weekend for my alma mater, as they take on their arch-rivals, the Clemson Tigers. This rivalry, called “The Palmetto Bowl”, has been played since 1909 (104 consecutive matchups). Out of all of those games, this is going to be the first time ever that both teams come into the game nationally ranked in either the AP Top 10 or the BCS Top 10 (USC at #10, Clemson at #6). South Carolina is looking for its FIFTH consecutive win over these guys, the first of them coming on my final home game of my marching band career on senior day in Columbia. Also, if Texas A+M beats Missouri on Saturday, then the Gamecocks will play the winner of Alabama and Auburn (called “The Iron Bowl”) in their second ever SEC Championship appearance!
14) This week, the Rush will take on the Denver Cutthroats on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. If you thought Missouri was their toughest test of the season so far, just wait until Denver gets here. They are a team that is loaded with so much offense that they make Missouri look like a pee wee hockey team. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, but still, they’re really good. Denver has had the best power play in the league practically all season. You could possibly be seeing a championship preview in this game. The one thing that could possibly hurt Denver down the road, as it has a few times this season, is a series of call-ups to their AHL affiliate, the Lake Eerie Monsters. A.J. Gale is currently in the AHL right now, but don’t be surprised if Garrett Bembridge, Troy Schwab, or Kieran Millan get called up as well. Millan has already played musical chairs with the higher organization more than once this season.
15) Matt Larke is tentatively scheduled to join me in the booth on Wednesday night for the first game against the Cutthroats. Having him in the booth against the Mavericks for the Friday game of the series was a great experience, as he performed very well for his first time being in the booth, so it should be a fun time for sure. If you have a Twitter account, you can now follow Matt Larke there (@Matt_Larke42). I am hoping I can talk Bobby Preece into possibly joining me for this weekend’s two games against Denver if his injury situation permits.