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Dallas Storm News


On the Road - The Silver Stick Finals
By Gary "Bear" Millsaps

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005
Traveling to various cities is obviously a part of travel hockey, but my methods of getting around differ greatly from the norm.  Whereas the team generally flies to their destination, I have never once stepped on an airplane in these five seasons of service.  I know.  It's a foolish phobia, but this has not kept me from traveling to tournaments or league weekends in places from Boston to San Jose and from Toronto to Houston.

St Claire Shores, Michigan will be an easy sojourn as well an and enjoyable one.  I have my bags packed already and will make the trip in two phases.  First, I will be taking Amtrak to Chicago and then renting a car at Union Station for the 290 mile drive to the hotel in eastern Michigan.

I will certainly not pass up the opportunity to take the train and I wish there were more chances for me to do so and I have a few pictures from previous trips. 

The Texas Eagle will take me from Big D up to the Windy City and the route is served by a ' SUPERLINER' trainset.   Since I throw a few coins in the mix, I get the first class treatment on the sleeper car in a ROOMETE The first thing you see when you step on board is that things are a little tight, as you can see from this shot of the HALLWAY.   The room itself isn't all that huge, but the SEATS are more comfortable than the coach seats.  Plus, there is an UPPER BERTH that stores the bedding for when it's time to let down the lower two facing seats into a bed.  A SMALL TABLE is situated between the seats which is perfect to set up the laptop for movies, games, music, or even a bit of (GROAN) WORK!!  A CLOSET is provided for the passenger's use, but for only about 10 inches wide, it is surprisingly deep!

Of course, there are some of the comforts of home for ya, although on a smaller scale.  The TOILET has been made a bit 'homier' by the addition of flowers.  Doesn't make it any more comfortable, though!  The shower area isn't too bad.  There is the DRESSING AREA and then the SHOWER itself.  A lot of fun while traveling about 70 miles per hour, but then it is on the lower deck of the sleeper car so it's not that bad.  Lower center of gravity and all that!!

It's nice to get out and mix and mingle a little in the lounge car.  Here's some pictures showing the SEATING ARRANGEMENTS, the REFRESHMENT BAR (unfortunately not used very much anymore, but I get free soft drinks in the sleeper car, but anyways...), and just some FOLKS enjoying themselves.  Meal times in the DINER CAR can be very hectic and every seat is used.  If I want to meet new folks, I go there.  Otherwise, the car attendant is more than glad to bring your meal to you in your room.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005
Well...... I think all is ready for the trip.  First aid kit, tape, tools, helmet repair kit, all kinds of ointments and creams from curing athletes feet to making sure cuts heal.  A lot sure goes into being prepared.  I hope the pucks don't cause my check-in bags to be overweight!!  A big overnighter, a backpack, a coaches bag and my computer all seems in order.

Coach Rick tells us we are ranked #5 overall and #4 in our division going into the tourney.  That is either a blessing or a curse.  Hopefully the boys will see this as a challenge and overcome adversity in order to prevail!!  I know they have the talent.  I just hope I can rally the troops so we can be victorious!!

Train leaves in a couple hours and I need to get to the station.  Chicago has a beautiful train station and I hope to get some pics on the way up and I will be sharing them here.

3:30pm - I'm at Dallas Union Station checking in.  I am having an enjoyable experience as I looked on the Amtrak Web Site and found that the sleeper accommodations actually went down to $83 each way from the original $130 and they are actually re-ticketing me at the lower price!!  As she is going through all the processes involved, we chatted about how I will be meeting the team up north, how I loved the train, and didn't fly.  She then said, "Well, ya never know.  Did you hear about the train wreck in California??  Guy wanted to end it all by parking his truck on the tracks and he chickened out and ran, but the 1st passenger train hit a parked locomotive and sent it hurling in the path of a second passenger train."

Alrighty, then......................

6:00pm - Onboard the Texas Eagle in Superliner II sleeper car number 32085 (designated on this run as #2220), the "Kentucky" in room #9.  In the very end of the train!!  Little trivia.  In 1992, while 49 Superliner II's were being built, Amtrak named them for the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia.  I'm pretty much settled and dinner will be arriving soon via my super car attendant Mr. Johnson.

8:00pm - Had excellent steak and wandered up to the lounge car and then settled down for the night with a good movie.  Ice Age with Ray Romano, etc!!  I get everything all just right and the train's swaying and the clackety noises puts me to sleep!

Thursday, January 27th, 2005
7:30am - I wake up right on time!  As I shake the sleep from my eyes, I notice we're passing through Union, MO and I know the Mississippi River will be coming along side of us in about 10 minutes.  And a beautiful sight it is!!  Several tugs pushing barges each way.  Most excellent scenery.

2:30pm - The HUGE Union Station in Chicago.  This is certainly one of the Grand Dames of railroad architecture.  Lots of space and the statuary that is overlooking the train patrons is stunning, as well!  Hardly anyone is in the great hall, but I can imagine the old days in the 1920's where there would be hundreds of people coming and going all day on some of the fabled trains like the Twentieth Century Limited and the City of New Orleans with the old pullman cars.

3:30pm-10:00pm - Yawn!!  Drive from Union Station to the hotel.  290 miles.  Boring.  But on the other hand, I passed by THREE casinos and didn't even consider stopping!!

Friday, January 28th, 2005
10:00am - Today is going to be rather eventful.  I just feel it!!  We get Pittsburgh up front.  Good news is they are missing a few of their better players for goonish behaviour.  Bad news is....... well..... they are missing a few of their better players for goonish behaviour.  The average Joe on the team is going to be out to prove that they can take a team down on their own and I'm afraid it may turn ugly!!

I was wrong, of course and the boys put on a show to hold them scoreless for the 1st 40 minutes of the game.  Our luck ran out when Pittsburgh popped one in with 4:11 to go in the game.  We had several opportunities to score, but it just wasn't to be!!

FINAL SCORE - DALLAS 0 - PITTSBURGH HORNETS 1

1:00pm - 5:00 pm - REST!!  Not sure what the boys did, but I put it away for a while cause tonight is the mother of ALL games

7:30pm - D Day!  Zero Hour!!  This is it!!  I am reminded of a previous historical battle at a place called Jericho that this guy Joshua was fretting.  He needed a win badly.  The big boss told him to just march around the place 7 times and then blow his ram's horns and the fun would begin!!  Now being a logical person, Joshua was like..... "ummmmm, we're gonna lose the element of suprise and after marching around and getting tired, we're certainly gonna wake the rest of the people with the darned horns!!  But he did it anyways and prevailed.  Nothing fancy.  Just doing as he was told and it worked out great!!

A few thousand years later.  Dallas Storm Minor Midget 88's vs Honeybaked.  The #1 team in the nation.  There were no conferences, trick plays, and grand strategy sessions.  Just a bit of old fashioned hockey with everyone getting in line with Coach Rick's plan.  On the bench was orderly.  Players doing what needed to be done.  And with the help of a little hat trick by #12, Mr Chris Shakesby, and the superb play of all concerned, we sure knocked down those walls and got us a well deserved win!!  A hat trick certainly is noteworthy and that is why it is mentioned, but that is not to slight anyone else because there were such fine efforts by all, it would be hard to mention them individually.   Although my pride in the boys is limitless, I think I got way up on the pride scale here!!  Good game!! 

FINAL SCORE: DALLAS 4 - HONEYBAKED 2!!

But.............. tomorrow we have to do a 7:00am game.  Ya!!  Did we lose a bet to someone as far as how the scheduling went??

1:00am - Shutting it down for a 6:00am wakeup!!

Saturday, January 29th, 2005
6:00am - Already??  I just turned over and the phone rang with my wakeup call!!  Grrrrrrr!

7:30am - The boys are all ready with the strength to do what needs to be done and I didn't even give them any Powdermilk Biscuits, although I could probably call only one or two of them shy!! (Give yourself 10 points if you understood the reference!!)

Mr Appler and Mr Shakesby broke out of the pack and lit up the lamp with a goal each with our defence giving up only one.  There was a drive and determination that makes one proud.  For all of the naysayers out there who said this team wouldn't amount to much at the beginning of the season, this tourney has certainly proved them wrong.  There is a potential here that is almost limitless.  But, if any of our local rivals would still like to take us for granted in the post-season, I say be my guest!!  :)

FINAL SCORE: DALLAS 2 - NJ ROCKETS 1

Don't know yet who we play in the semis tomorrow, but we have a LONG period of rest before the morning game!!  I'm going to Canada for some Tim Hortons homemade soup!!

10:00pm - Well..... news came in.  We ended up first in our division and have a 7:30 against the Pittsburgh Selects.  I'm nervous, but confident.

Sunday, January 30th, 2005
6:00am - Again??  I'm just not a morning person.  Plus I'm achy all over.  I think I have had my fill of cold and snow for a few years.

7:30am - The Battle has begun!  The penalties were not very kind to us.  Three Pittsburgh goals on three powerplays going into the third period.  But did the boys give up??  No way.  Coach got the troops rallied and young Miles started our scoring in the last frame with Shakes putting in two of his own; the second being with only two seconds to go!  Kyle was in on all of them and earned a playmaker for his efforts.

The overtime  periods were 5 minutes each and after three of them, the score remained tied.  Johnny Beck was spectacular keeping the biscuit out of the basket.  Then the rink had to resurface and the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  One of the Mite teams from Canada came out onto the bleachers and started cheering for us when play resumed.  But fortune did not smile upon us because with just a little over a minute left in the fifth overtime period, we were scored against and our Silverstick adventure was over.

FINAL SCORE: DALLAS 3 - PITTSBURGH 4

10:00am - Lots of dejected players.  Not much to say in a situation like this, but just to have been involved in the effort was well worth the trouble.  As someone who had the benefit of AA (no, not the Automobile Club) I was always told that the best way to get out of your troubles was to get involved with others in a positive way.  Seems like Mr. Shakesby knew that without being told.  As I was getting everything packed together, I saw the coach of our mite cheering section introduce Chris to the little Wolves and he gave them a bit of a pep talk going into their game.  Passing it on.  That's what hockey is all about.  And if there is any legacy whatsoever I can leave to the Dallas Storm organization and it's many fine players, it is simply that.  Pass it on.  Do what you can with whatever skills or talents you have to develop your own game, but don't forget those who will be coming up behind you and reach a hand back!!

1:00pm - I have a long trip ahead of myself so I better get started.  I'm extremely proud to have been involved in this tournament and am looking forward to post-season play with a renewed confidence.  We're a team now.  I think we will do alright!!

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