By Eddie Graveline, Glovedropper.com
Any time that two hockey teams are competing for first place, home ice advantage and good old bragging rights, emotions are going to run high and things will undoubtedly become heated. So it’s not surprising, especially considering the fact that the Monsters have lost the first two games in Idaho, that tempers are starting to flare.
I’ll probably say this again later, but I want to make it very clear that I’m not with the team on this trip. I have conversations with the coaches, players and members of the staff on a daily basis so that I can continue to tell the stories to the fans back in Fresno. The point I’m trying to make is that you’re about to read one side of the story and I’m not there to witness these things in person, so I can’t just pass it along as my opinion. What I can tell you is that Jay Johnson has been around hockey his entire life and has been a part of the Fresno hockey community for about 15 years now. He’s seen a lot and has a personal background with Idaho’s coach, John Olver. Olver coached the Fresno Falcons back in the ’90s, so he’s well known to those who were on the hockey scene back then. To put it mildly, Jay feels that the Monsters are being treated unfairly on several levels during this road trip. I want to emphasize the fact that there are always two sides to every story, but I’m going to let Jay give his, because I think Fresno fans want to know what their team is experiencing out on the road. So, here’s Jay:
“The day started out with a team walk around noon and then pre-game at a cool pancake house that was built to look like a log cabin. Back for a nap and then to the rink for game 2. Everyone was upbeat and ready to go.
We took two 2-goal leads just to have them disappear on some cheesy penalties. I am one that tries to take the high road as best as possible, but this was a homer job if I ever saw one. Needless to say, we lost in overtime 6-5.
We (the Monsters) as an organization try and do the right thing for all teams that come to Fresno, but I am having a tough time letting this one go. The Idaho team said that when they come to Fresno, the Monsters pay hotel and meals and when we come to Idaho they will take care of us. Well, I beg to differ on what being taken care of is. Hot meals before and after the games for Idaho were provided. Good restaurants and good food were provided for Idaho when in Fresno, but here, we are getting the shaft to put it lightly. Last nights post-game was so bad that we had to go buy our own food. Tonight we got cold hamburgers and fries, so we are forced to go buy our players good food again. Little things like drinks after the game have not been provided with the meals. Every pre-game was paid for except for the gratuity, but in Fresno, the Monsters even covered the gratuity for Idaho’s meals. I can say I lost my cool tonight and I am sure it will continue again tomorrow. Idaho boss John Olver and I got into it after the game, because the way we are being treated by his organization is atrocious. Then again, I should know better, because of who I am dealing with. All these years have past and he is the same greasy guy that blew out of Fresno in the mid 90’s.
We are now back at the hotel, sitting in the lobby, waiting for food to be delivered and it is very somber and deathly quiet. a couple of guys are playing cards and the coaches are sitting out here as well. Ortiz and I are pounding on laptops trying to get work done and it will be bed shortly. To all in Fresno, please be ready if Idaho makes it back for playoffs.”
Now, everyone needs to understand that Jay wrote this right after Saturday night’s game. The guys were still emotional, so there’s a good chance that his report might not have been quite so raw if he’d slept on things first. But you know what? Getting a glimpse of how people are feeling right in the moment does a lot more to show fans what the emotional roller coaster ride is really like. If I’ve learned anything this season, it’s that Monster fans are every bit as passionate as the players, so I feel like they deserve to know how the guys feel as often as possible.
As I’m sure you know, the Monsters have another game with Idaho tonight and one on Monday before they return home. If they win, they clinch first place in the WSHL Western Division, so tune into the games on Fasthockey.com if you can and check back here later for more news.