I’m blogging from the press area at Bradley arena, watching the skills challenge, a new idea that’s growing on me. Similar to the NHL challenge done at all-star time, the Skills Challenge pits seniors (men and women) from the East and West regions against each other in events like skating, stick handling, etc.
Prior to this, we had the presentations of the Hobey Baker and Humanitarian awards. The favorites for both were the winners, Denver’s Matt Carle and Princeton’s Eric Leroux, respectively. The ceremonies seemed a bit rushed with the new format (they used to be held in banquet halls instead of the middle of a hockey rink. No speeches from the coaches and very quick comments from the recipients.
There’s a bigger crowd here that I would have expected, seeing that it costs $10 while admission to the Hobey and Humanitarian used to be free. But the seniors selected for the Skills Competition are putting on a good show. Adam Hanna, a D-III player from St. John’s does a nice job, stopping 22 of 25 as well as ESPN’s Barry Melrose asked Hanna why more goaltenders don’t win the Hobey Baker, which is kind of ironic since Hanna won Division III’s version, the Sid Watson award. Kind of ironic? Hell, it’s very ironic.
The Skills Challenge ended on a bizarre note, as the teams tied in points at the end of the events, something the producers apparently didn’t plan on. After much discussion, the organizers decided to hold a sudden death shootout, but they messed up the order and gave the East an extra round, which they won to take the trophy.
“We got hosed,” joked Denver’s Gabe Gauthier outside the locker room. “And we’re sharing the room with (the East) so there’s gonna be a rumble.”
I asked Hanna if he felt like he needed to represent D-III. “Not really,” he said. “I was just part of the group. No one cares where you came from.”
As I leave, I see dozens of kids clamoring for autographs from all the players, men and women, who are signing them with wide grins on their faces.
Yeah, this thing could grow on me.