steph


It’s chilly up here in the press box. Funny, one would assume it would be warmer….This pizza is awful; I don’t know why I always order it. I think I am nervous. It’s my first time living out my dream, and the prospect is daunting: entertain the masses. In terms of AHL hockey, no less. Although widely popular throughout North America as a whole, Houston hasn’t quite gotten on the hockey train, most probably because of the lack of an NHL team here in Houston. I plan to change that.

With the playoffs just around the corner, AHL hockey is buzzing.  The Aeros are hungry for those playoff seats, most notably players like RW Justin “Fonz” Fontaine and C Jeff Taffe. With the reassignment of Goalie Matt Hackett from the Minnesota Wild after nearly a month, it feels good to see the “old guard” back together again. The opponents for the evening? The Lake Eerie Monsters, who rank 10th in the Western Conference versus the Aeros 6th. The race is so tight that only a few points separate the top playoff contenders from one another. At the start of the game, for example, the Oklahoma City Barons, the current top seed in the Western Conference, and the Aeros were tied at 68 GP for the season; Barons with 41W to Houston’s 32.

As Kurt Russell hollers from the Jumbo-Tron, “This is your time! Now go out there and take it!” the Aeros hit the ice. On the starting lineup: G Hackett, D Fredheim, C Almond, RW DiSalvatore, C Taffe, and D Cuma.  I plan on simply jotting down my observations and see where that takes me, and so I begin: the first four minutes of the game were practically the only ones without some sort of penalty or drama going on. Not that I would ever complain about that; who doesn’t love a good scuffle? Almond quickly picks up a 2 minute penalty for hooking and shortly thereafter, Fontaine gets another 2 for goal tender interference. I notice that C Carson McMillan is an aggressive skater, and write that down in my notes. I know this because I used to skate competitively (okay, it was roller skating…think hot pink skate covers and choreographed routines to “Wind Beneath my Wings”).

I realize I begin to take notice of how many goals are stopped. There is definitely something about this game that is really drawing my attention, yet I cannot seem to put my finger on it. In one fell swoop, I spy Matt Hackett getting away with both a slash and an elbow. Yep, he’s back, alright. Hackett’s ability to convey his personality and aggression, even on the ice and in the net, is uncanny. And this, for me, was the most entertaining factor of this game.

Although the Aeros ended up losing in a shootout 4-3, I wouldn’t count them down and out just yet. John Torchetti, Aeros head coach, agrees that the proverbial ball is in their court: “We’ve been giving up points for the last five games…we’ve had the puck.” He explains, “once we can eliminate [giving up points], we certainly [can] make the playoffs.” “We have to work hard and get to the post, that’s the crux of it; we are beating ourselves and once we stop doing that, I think we’ll start winning some more games.”

The subject then turned to Hackett. Goalies always seem to catch a lot of flak for shootout losses, but Torchetti won’t even hear of it: “He always comes through for us in the end…The 3rd [goal] you can’t judge the goalie on, it’s just a bang-bang play.” When asked about Matt’s emotional demeanor on the ice, (Hackett threw a punch after action at the end of OT1) Coach Torchetti explained, “[Hackett] wants to win, he wants to compete, and there’s nothing wrong with your goalie trying to compete.” Regarding the shootout, he further drives his point, “You’re not going to win a shootout with no goals.”

It looks like Hackett’s return has come just in time, and if players like Clackson, Fontaine, Palmieri and Taffe keep skating smart and fighting hard, we could still come up successful and make the Calder Cup Playoffs. But, that’s a big if, considering as of now we are ranked 5th in the Western Conference after Abbotford’s win last night against Chicago. Saturday’s home game against Hamilton will go a long way in determining how stressful the Aeros’ final six games will be. With only one game scheduled in the next week, a victory this weekend will give the team some much-needed wiggle room.  One thing’s for sure: as long as my Aeros aren’t giving up, I’m not going to either.

#peaceloveandhockey

ps: Matt….sorry about the title. I’m too punny for my own good.

Photos via: RantSports.com InGoalMagazine.com HoustonPress.com

I am certain that by now, if you are even remotely interested in sports, you have heard about all the hullabaloo in the world of basketball. With the trade deadline last week, everyone was scrambling to empty and then re-fill their rosters. The Rockets weren’t any different, sending 2009 Grizzlies draft picks Hasheem Thabeet, and guard Jonny Flynn to the Portland Trail Blazers, while we acquired center Marcus Camby in exchange (follow Marcus on twitter: @MarcusCamby23).

Another big trade? Center/Forward, sweat-band sportin’ Jordan Hill switched out his signature Rockets Red for Lakers Purple (gag) in exchange for Derek Fisher, whose contract the Rox bought out later that week, and then released (crisis averted). OKC Thunder picked him up a day later.

With Kyle Lowry’s absence instilling the fear of impending doom into the hearts of Clutch City fans, the Rockets made a bold move, acquiring point guard Courtney Fortson (that’s right, two hotties named Courtney on ONE team….sweet!), who had been waived by the Los Angeles Clippers after only 4 games earlier this season. Although undrafted in 2010, he has since been preparing for NBA stardom in the D-League, playing for the Reno Bighorns and the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Courtney stands about 5’10” (gasp) and weighs all of about 180 lbs; but I will tell you this: no one is as enthusiastic and scrappy-do about playing for the Rockets as Court is! I have seen more hustle from him in the past three or four games than I have from Kyle all season! Don’t get me wrong, I need KLow back to good health ASAP, but I am really loving how Courtney just gives his entire heart and body to this game. It’s inspiring to see someone working so hard.

Last night at the Golden State game (aka, #blowout), I watched Fortson play 19 minutes for a total of 1 steal, 2 rebounds, and 12 points. That is just 7 minutes away from a point PER minute. Think you can kick a man while he’s down? Not Courtney, whose cat-like reflexes and positive attitude keep him from losing sight of his dreams. I forsee Court getting ample playing time in the next few games before KLow’s return. It is definitely comforting to have a hustle-driven back-up point guard while Kyle is resting, out, or injured. Oh, and lest we forget he fills the “badass coif” position left vacant by JChill.

Now down to business: is Fortson single? Ladies, I hear he’s a player (pun intended); but, chances are, with the recent move, that the handsome Courtney is unattached and has a #badboy rep. Want to get in on the action? Follow him on twitter: @coatF4. Tell him #DreamShakeBarbie sent you.

#peaceloveandbasketball

photo credits: yahoosports.com, greenwichtime.com, hoopsaddict.com

My Houston Aeros took on the Grand Rapids Griffins Sunday evening at Toyota Center in front of a crowd of over 10,000, including me and my closest gal pals. David Burke, (Twitter: @DBurkeAeros) President of the Houston Aeros organization, so graciously sacrificed his suite for the evening to 17 hot brunettes in their 20-somethings. As if that weren’t a frightening enough prospect, the ladies were provided with beer and wine, (oh, and vodka for Maya) delicious snacks, and 60 pink Jell-O shots. Oh boy.

Sunday, March 11th, or “Pink Day”, was a celebration for Breast Cancer Awareness. We all wore pink in celebration, and there were pink latex gloves on the back of every seat in the arena to promote women’s breast health and education. After getting situated, Estefannie G. De la Garza (Dinastia Magazine) snapped a few group shots of the girls, and the game began. We were all so excited when the boys hit the ice!

A lot of my girls weren’t familiar with hockey, but when it comes to compimentary booze and food plus #eyecandy, it was easy to lure them to the game. Quite a few of the ladies had been to Aeros games previously, but had not been back in years! This was such an unusual and exhilarating way to expose them for the first time, or re-introduce them, to this game that I love so much.

To connect with social media outlets that evening, the Aeros official twitter account, @Houston_Aeros, had given us our very own hashtag to use during the game: #AerosGirlsNightOut. With all of the Facebook & Twitter exposure from last night’s match-up, David and I hope to motivate even more fans to come out to the games. Just from the reaction that I saw personally, this event was an absolute stunna (and no, not just talking about the hot ass bitches I brought with me)!

After a few drinks and one period later, “Aero” Joe O’Donnell, Director of Broadcasting, came up to the suite to teach the girls “Hockey 101″. Joe taught us about “icing“, “offsides“, and “plus/minus“, just to name a few topics. Despite the fact that Joe’s ‘Andrew Firestone’ looks are a bit distracting, he is quite the informative pro in his field! We all were able to ask questions, and he even brought a whiteboard to describe what he was teaching us. You can follow Joe on Twitter @aero_joe.

Our next surprise was a visit from Chilly and two of the prettiest Aero Dynamics I have ever seen! As soon as the mascot entered the suite, my little sis, Jacqueline, yelled out, “It’s CHILLY!” and everyone scrambled to get a photo op. Little known fact that “sissy” and I have been a Chilly fan since we were in middle school!

As if this weren’t enough excitement for one evening, Jim Gadd, the Aeros Director of Merchandise, came up to the suite with a surprise for all of us: ladies Aeros tees and hats! We were thrilled! The ladies put on the t-shirts and hats right away, and then, of course, followed that up with a 20-minute Aeros gear photo-shoot.

Although DiSalvatore and Palmer put up two impressive goals, the Aeros fell to the Griffins 2-5. Not that any of this mattered to the girls, who screamed and cheered for our team as they left the ice regardless. I have to say, I am proud of this team. After only 18 years in this city, City Councilman District E Mike Sullivan named March 11th “Houston Aeros Day” in Houston! I am telling you, these guys have some raw talent that is unreal; after all, the American Hockey League (AHL) is the training grounds for the National Hockey League (NHL).

If you are just getting into hockey, you should absolutely become a regular at these games, if not a season ticket holder.  The crowd is always pumped, and I would say with certainty that these fans are some of the most die-hard in the league. I have been an Aeros fan since the 7th grade (that’s Summit days, people), and my allegiance to the team has continued over the years. Not only is the team talented, but all of the Aeros front office staff are fantastic, too. Go to a game, and tweet me your thoughts. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

If you would like to learn more about the Houston Aeros or their NHL affiliate, the Minnesota Wild, please visit my previous article, “aeros gone wild.”

#peaceloveandhockey

So you want to date an athlete. Obviously a lofty goal (no pun intended), but in the end potentially something really great. So you stalk the hell out of these guys until they notice you out of the thousands upon thousands of “jersey chasers”, and when they finally do notice you, you act aloof, and say extremely cliché things like “well, I’m not like other girls” or my personal fave, “I can buy my own Louis V, gah!” You’re on the right track, ladies, acting aloof that is. Not like these guys need a bigger head than they already do.  But what do you really know about actually dating an athlete, and not just bedding one and then telling all your friends, only never to hear from the dude again?

Jersey chaser versus athlete girlfriend: nothing like a movie reference to kick things off. In Just Wright, starring Common, Paula Patton’s character, Morgan, tells Queen Latifah’s character, Leslie, that she wants to bag Scott McKnight, the Nets star player. And how does she do this? The oldest trick in the book: “You are not supposed to show your regular self until you’ve been married for five years” she explains to Leslie. Scott then all but tumbles over himself trying to win Morgan’s affections, even proposing to her after several months of dating. When Common gets injured and his return to the Nets is questionable, Morgan jets. Although Latifah wins Common’s heart at the end, it just goes to show that capturing an athlete’s attention is quite simple, if you know what you are doing.

Now that you have determined your goal, I am going to rain on your parade of fairy tale endings. Athletes have a lot of options. Let’s face it; it’s hard to keep track of all the chicks who offer to tickle your nickel every 5 seconds. It’s not unusual for an athlete to blow up your phone for 2 days, and then pretend like he was abducted by aliens for the next 3 weeks. I know you’re special, and so does your mom and your best friend, Maya, but how are you going to have enough time with him to show what a badass you are ? It’s near impossible, folks, especially mid-season. Even off-season, they usually go back home to their respective families: equally as difficult. You know that expression, “if he likes you, he will find the time”? Doesn’t apply to pro-athletes because they literally have NO TIME. And when they do have time, they need to rest their bodies to prepare for the next game.

The key here is to literally go on living your life and not worry about seeing their name pop up on your phone. Sure, once they text you can screen shot that shit and send it to your BFF, but don’t ever let on that you’re excited. God forbid that you tell an athlete you care for them, because that’s a deal breaker, too. Normal girl meets boy rules need not apply under these circumstances. I once had a guy take my little “I care for you” and beat me with it relentlessly over the head courtesy of a 2X4. Athletes think that “caring” is code for “I want to have your babies” and “I love you”. So just don’t go there, because the “ladies of the night” (I say this very politely) who came before you put that idea in their heads long, long ago.

If you’re still interested in torturing yourself by dating at athlete after the last 2 paragraphs of red flags, let’s continue. What sports are you interested in? Or should I say, what type of athlete? Baseball, basketball, hockey, football, curling….there are so many to choose from. I will say here that your body type might already put you into one category or another. For example, the brothas seem to like me a whole bunch because I have an ass the size of a jumbo-tron. The white boys seem to like this, too though, but only if they don’t go for the skinny white chick thing. Skinny white chicks should stick with the QBs of the world. I always say if you want to feel like a sweet tiny princess, pick a lineman. If you want to feel like a total glam movie star, go with a Power Forward. I find they also really like an exotic look; a girl who is smoldering [Bobbi Brown Gel Liner] and pouty [DuWop Lip Venom] .  Like a tiger. Rarrrr.

And now for a #DreamShakeBarbie #PetPeeve intermission: Don’t try and date an athlete if you’re not into their sport. The dude will figure you out before you even have a chance to set up a time & place to meet. Save those courtside seats for another chick who loves her man’s sport and will cheer and swear and go nuts at his games. It’s the right thing to do.

I sincerely believe that I have dated a few very good men who happened to also be athletes. They were kind and respectful, and listened intently to my incessant spouting off of the stats of their team and their sport, but those are few and far between. Athletes do, however, always appreciate an understanding and love of their sport. After all, it is their career, is it not? Make an effort to understand what they do for a living, and for Pete’s sake, do NOT ask him if he knows Lamar Odom and can he intro you to Khloe.

My rule of thumb?  Never take is personally when your boo drops off the face of the earth. Not that I would ever presume to understand the male athlete’s mind, but they just don’t have time for all that chick stuff. They are focused on their careers, looking to make it big, just like we all are in life. Dating an athlete is fun and all, but just know that the diamonds in the rough are truly hard to find, and a diamond on your finger is even more elusive than that.

Most importantly, I now present to you the Golden Rule of pro-athlete dating: keep your legs closed and your lips sealed until you guys are seriously dating. You’ll thank me later.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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