The Commodores failed to notch a win in two contests in Southaven, Mississippi, this weekend versus the Ole Miss Rebels, losing 4-1 on Friday and 9-5 on Saturday. This despite graduate student Ben Gatlin’s family being in attendance to offer its support.
Said IchabodÂ Gatlin, purveyor of fine artisan cheeses and backscratchers hailing from the greater Wausau region of Wisconsin, “I thought I traveled 1,000 miles to see the #14 ranked team in the southeast play some hockey. Â All I saw was a bunch of kids and my nephew Â … well, playing hockey.”
Ben’s cousin Naomi, she of Milan, Italy, agreed.
“Ho partecipato non riesco a credere nel gioco. Era terribile.”
We think she agreed, anyway.
Beaten and Battered
Friday’s game was a hard fought battle that remained tight well into the third period when a pair of injuries took the wind out of the Commodores’ sails. The first came when junior Jack McCallum, in his first game of the season following a semester abroad, went down with a knee-to-knee hit.
“Definitely one of the uglier injuries I’ve seen since joining the [Ole Miss] team,” said the Rebels’ trainer Chad Ray who thankfully was on hand to offer immediate support. After initially fearing the worst, McCallum was diagnosed with a more benign but nevertheless serious dislocation of his left knee cap. Â His season, not even a game old, was subsequently finished.
“When it happened, I was thinking it was an ACL,” McCallum explained, “but when they stinted it the knee cap popped back into place and the pain went from a 10 to a 2. Could’ve been a lot worse I guess.”
Following shortly after Jack’s injury, freshman Evan Sclafani got crunched on a play in the neutral zone and came off with what his coach suspected may have been a broken collarbone.
“Evan is 155 pounds soaking wet, so when he gets checked by one of the bruisers on the other side you’ve got to hold your breath.”
Thankfully, as with McCallum, Sclafani received a better than expected diagnosis, a deep contusion bruise to his collarbone rather than a break. Â He will be week to week heading into the final five games of the season.
The game’s result was sealed soon thereafter following a 2-on-1 goal, then an empty netter.
Baptist Desoto Hospital, NOT the Model of Efficiency
At around 5:15am in exam room #24 of Southaven’s Baptist Desoto Hospital, it occurred to coach Bernstein that he should have asked junior goalie Brenden Oliver to head back to the hotel hours before. Â Saturday’s starting goalie ended up getting less than four hours of sleep before facing a relentless attack that fired 85 shots on net (or so the 9-year-old keeping score would have you believe).
“It was more like 65,” said Oliver, “which is still insane.”
Before the Vandy club ran out of gas in the latter half of the third period, the game followed a similar track to the previous night, closely contested and well played. Vanderbilt was led by junior center and club vice president Matt Kaminsky who, like McCallum, was playing in his first games of the season following semester abroad in the fall. Â Kaminsky notched two goals, both of the bag-o-ugly ilk, plus provided some terrific play on the back check.
Ultimately, the guys just could not match their short bench against a well conditioned Ole Miss squad for the full 60 minutes. Â Moving forward into the remainder of the schedule, the boys from Nash-vegas will look forward to employing additional reinforcements for games against Mississippi State, Louisville, and Georgia Tech.
Celebrity in the House
On hand for Saturday’s game was former Ole Miss football great and current New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Â Yeah, we were as surprised as you are. Â Here’s the pic ( … kind of blurry and a bad angle but you can’t mistake the signature “flow” and trucker hat):
Not surprisingly, our New England-heavy roster was not as enthusiastic about the Super Bowl XVII MVP’s presence at Saturday’s contest as the rest of the fans and players.