“On the ‘Mark’” returns for the first time in 2014 with another look inside the perspective of Mark Binetti, the “Voice of the Rush”. In today’s episode, Binetti reviews the past couple of games, Winston Day Chief, his broadcast partners, “Bra’s for a Cause”, and his Super Bowl XLIII pick:
1) Even though its 20 days late, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everyone has had a phenomenal start to 2014. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for the team, my job, and my life…should be a great time for sure!
2) The last time I wrote, not only did I say that the Rush were looking to re-write league history with the road record, but they most certainly set it, AND extended it in dramatic fashion too. On New Year’s Eve, Winston Day Chief scored a NATURAL hat-trick with 57.9 seconds left to win the game for the Rush in regulation, stealing a possible consolation point away from the St. Charles Chill. It is so great to see Winston doing such great things on the ice. Since coming off the IR, he’s played 14 games, scoring 13 goals with 7 assists for 20 points. He is by far one of the most humble men I have ever met, and it’s a pleasure to call all of his great play.
3) When we were in St. Charles, as you all saw from the insider videos, we ran into the problem of not having any ice for morning skate the day before the game…they had an indoor soccer field set up in the Family Arena. Not discouraged by any stretch of the imagination, we started playing soccer right off the bat, forwards vs defensemen. After a warm up round, we played a game where the first team to score two goals won. The forwards won 2-1, after going down 1-0 early. Konrad Reeder hit Justin Faryna, who slid and put the ball right past Keaton Hartigan to give the forwards the win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a puck or a ball, field or a sheet of ice, Konrad can flat out pass, and Faryna can finish the play.
4) The series against Allen at the start of 2014 was a tough series to watch, excluding the fact that the Rush suffered their first road losses and subsequent sweep of the season. Both games were decided by a single goal, and the Rush gave everything they could on the ice, including a monstrous second period comeback in the Saturday game of the set. This team’s resilience constantly impresses me. They never get down when they’re losing, and they never get cocky and conceited when they’re in the lead. They play the game until triple-zero reads on the clock after the third period.
5) Last Monday was the Rush’s 4th Annual “Bras for a Cause” event. Each Rush player and myself modeled off home-made custom bras with all sorts of decorations and gadgets on them, and auctioned them off with all the proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society. At first I was slightly uncomfortable for obvious reasons, then I was even more nervous when I was told I was going to be the leadoff hitter so to speak, but I ended up loosening up and really enjoyed the event. Between the auction, the 50/50 raffle, and the silent auction, we raised $6,200, a thousand more than last year. I personally contributed $155 of that combined on both of the bras I modeled, which surpassed my expectations for the auction (seeing I had the players to “compete” with, my initial projection of how much my bras would go for was about 5 dollars). Needless to say, it was an awesome event to be a part of and I will gladly participate again next year.
6) It has also been great to see Keaton Hartigan mature as a pro goaltender this season. Every start that he’s made, he’s given his team a chance to win. He was most recently honored as the reigning CHL Goaltender of the week for his stellar play against Denver in the first two games of the most recent set last week. Aside from all the above, what has really impressed me about Keaton is his swagger in the shootout round. In the two appearances he’s made in the shootout, he’s stopped all 8 shooters, 4 each time. Most players don’t like settling the game in a shootout because it puts the goaltender at a massive disadvantage, but Keaton has just been a solid brick wall in those scenarios. With Tim Boron out for the time being, Keaton has truly stepped up and shouldered a lot of responsibility on the ice. It must make Coach Ferras extremely proud to see how successful his backstopping tandem is.
7) Speaking of Tim Boron, he graciously spent the evening with me in the booth last night as the Rush finished out the three-game-in-four-night set against the Cutthroats. Tim is one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the chance to call a game with. His knowledge of the game in remarkable, and he has a great presence in the booth as well. I said it signing off last night: I’d personally like to see Tim come off of IR so he can get back to playing, but as long as he’s there he is more than welcome in my booth.
8) Come to think of it, not going to lie, I’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to guest personalities on the radio. Tim Boron, Tim Acheson, Matt Larke, Gio Flamminio…it’s been a real pleasure being able to call some great hockey with some great people. I had Gio in with me on Saturday night for the first time in awhile, and it was great to have his input for the broadcast. Arguably the call of the game for Saturday goes to Gio, as he cheered Winston Day Chief on in a fight against Daniel Barczuk. If you haven’t heard it yet, either go back to CHL TV On Demand, or go to this video (you have to REALLY crank up the volume to hear it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNq6ih4CPbI. I think the best line from that whole sequence is when Gio refers to Barczuk and says “Looks like their player has lost his mind”.
9) Seeing Winston fight the other night was insane. First off, I couldn’t believe Barczuk approached him the way he did. Second, Winston was taken by surprise, immediately went down, and then sprang right back up a dished it right back to Barczuk. As Gio Flamminio and Tim Boron both agreed, it was awesome to see Winston stand up for himself. Tim Acheson said awhile back that he believes a “sleeping beast” was awoken in Winston when he came off the IR. Not only has he played like it like I mentioned above, but he can clearly go toe to toe with anyone in this league, as he has such tremendous heart on the ice.
10) Last Thursday night marked my return to beer-league hockey. It was a great return, as it was my first time playing against our team’s archrivals since I came to Rapid City. We won in a shootout, and I nailed the game-winner in the shootout round. Fun times were had by all.
11) After the game, we blared “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, my all-time favorite song by my all-time favorite musician, on my stereo in the locker room. Everyone on the team sang along to the song as we changed out of our gear. It was probably the most glorious moment in beer-league hockey ever.
12) After the above sequence of events, Nick, our DJ on gameday, decided that “Piano Man” needed to be in our walk-in music playlist. I’ll be the first one to tell you that the song needs to be on just about every playlist imaginable, just considering that it is the best song ever in the history of music. Before I go on the air, I have to listen to the song as part of a pregame ritual of my own. Now we’re taking it a step further and playing it before the game starts, so I encourage all of you fans to sing along to it when it plays. If you happen to get lost during the song, just look for me in the booth and I’ll lead you in the right path. I’ll be the one vigorously singing it at the top of my lungs.
13) The Rush loss last night marked the conclusion of a six-game winning streak against the Cutthroats. It was unfortunate that the Rush could not hang on for the sweep of their rivals, but I feel that the team easily outplayed the Cutthroats for the last 33 minutes of the game. They recorded 20 shots on net in the second period alone, and ended up with 41 on the night. That is not a coincidence by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that the Rush happened to run into a hot goaltender in Kent Patterson. That much dominance over an opponent is tough to see nowadays, especially in hockey.
14) While I have a moment to mention the NFL, I’m picking the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl.
15) My first few months in Rapid City have been awesome. I’ve met tons of great people, called some amazing hockey games, and I have to say that I am seriously having the time of my life here. I miss home and I miss my family and friends dearly, but I am extremely thankful for everything I have experienced out here and everything I will experience and the season begins its concluding half.
16) This upcoming series against Wichita will be very interesting to see. Wichita, who is a back-to-back CHL runner-up, is currently in 8th in the league right now, but that is by any means no indication of the kind of team they are. Expect a solid, close series of hockey this weekend. It will very exciting for all of you watching/listening in.
17) Friday marks the 6th Annual “Pink at the Rink” game, sponsored by the Dave Davis Agency. “Pink at the Rink” has to be the highest grossing fundraiser in all of professional hockey. EVERY minor league team does it, which amazes me for two reasons: 1) it is incredible to see how far and wide an idea can reach out to; 2) it is amazing to see the entire hockey community band together to support such an important cause, especially trying to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness. I may not have anyone in my family that has been affected by it, but I do have a very close friend whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, so the event has a strong meaning to me. If the Rush manage to raise $10,000 on Friday, the Rush players will shave their heads, which apparently includes me…so if you want to see me walking around Rapid City with a shaved head (not that that should be your actual motivation to help, but to each their own), then donate and help our cause!