Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sharks in Florida, Part 2

The crazy sub-48-hour San Jose Sharks road trip continues, as Dustin and Markos cross the "Sunshine" State towards Tampa Bay, home of the Lightning.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

9:50am
I wake up after almost seven hours of sleep. Coming on the heels of no sleep for 36 hours, this is heaven. We are ready to say goodbye to Miami Beach.


11am
We check out of the hotel, and grab our car to drive to Everglades National Park. The only realistic way to the park is on SR-41, a tedious route through western Miami, before the suburbs and traffic lights evaporate into marshland.

12:30pm
Appropriately enough, we teal-heads enter the Everglades at Shark Valley. Other than the two of us, there are no signs of sharks to be seen. There are, however, plenty of alligators and birds. Markos and I rent bicycles to head out on a 14 mile roundtrip path to an observation tower.





1:45pm
We arrive at the observation tower. I wipe my brow, and grimace upon noticing that my body is covered in dead gnats that died in my sunscreen and sweat. This is why God invented helmets.





Below is the state of the sky, reflected in the marshy waters beneath the tower.







The way we came, and would return.

Markos gears up for the return trip, which would feature rain.


After the brief cloudburst.




2:30pm
We begin our epic drive to the Gulf Coast, and I convince Markos that we can see both Fort DeSoto Beach AND make it in time for practice in Tampa at 7:00pm. The beach is quite nice, though our time there is very brief.





7:25pm
After driving through St. Petersburg and into Tampa, we arrive at the St. Pete Times Forum. We pay $20 to park as close as possible, so we do not miss the puck dropping. I apologize to Markos repeatedly for making us miss practice.




What was really on the minds of all the "fans."



Quite a banner they've got there... some day soon, Teal Town... oh, and lest we forget, it was Tampa that avenged our loss to Calgary in 2004 (at least, I choose to think of it that way...).


Ready for action.


SIX BUCKS FOR A PRETZEL, IN TAMPA?!?

The Game
  • In short, the Sharks embarrassed the Tampa Bay Lightning. Maybe the team embarrassed itself - the #1 line featuring Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Vaclav Prospal turned over the puck more times than I could count. The one reason the score wasn't 10 to 0 was Mike Smith, who was positively stellar. The fact that Smith was the #1 star of the evening, after giving up 3 goals, speaks volumes about his importance to the team. It's a shame for Bolts fans that the goalie can't (usually) score goals.
  • Another highlight for the Lightning, on a night with so few for the home team, was that former Penguin Ryan Malone absolutely kicked Ryane Clowe's arse. Clowe returned the favor by adding his fourth goal of the season in the second period, during a power play, after getting his stick on Christian Ehrhoff's shot. Oh, and Malone finished the night with a minus-2 (HA).
  • It was Marcel Goc who had the game winner, i.e., the first goal of the night. Devin Setoguchi's goal in the third period sent the Sharks up 3-0, and sent many of the Tampa Bay fans home for the evening. At least their baseball team was doing well... until they lost at almost 2am local time to the Phillies.
  • Lest I forget, Brian Boucher was once again stellar in his second performance of the year, earning his second shutout while stopping 22 shots... which was good enough to earn Boosh the second star of the night.
Small notes
  • The Tampa fans graciously applauded Dan Boyle after his name was announced for assisting on Goc's goal.
  • Former Sharks defenseman Matt Carle looks as baby-faced as ever.
  • Barry Melrose was rocking the mullet, if not the Bolts' bench.
  • Marcel Goc got checked hard, and had to leave the ice - revenge for his goal, I take it.
  • Marek Malik (former Ranger) played his first game for the Bolts.
  • First-round draft pick (2008) Steve Stamkos was a minus-2 for the night.
  • Evgeny Artyukhin (RW) led the Bolts with 5 shots on goal, while Ryane Clowe had EIGHT (nice!).
  • Pickles (Marc-Edouard Vlasic) led both teams' players in ice time, notching over 28 minutes.
After the game, Markos and I congratulated ourselves on the Sharks victory before heading back to Fort Lauderdale, where we killed time wading in the Atlantic eating slices of pizza (!), before boarding our 6am flight to Houston.
In Houston, we took a taxi to get some real (i.e. non-airport) food. And we ended up here.

Their meals were cheap, tasty, and large. Hooray for Texan food... but not for Texan hockey (suck it, Stars).

The End... GO SHARKS.

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