Two Solid Wins Eclipsed By Incredible Trip To Local Diner

How do you beat a hockey weekend where you thump an inexperienced team 16-2 (Georgia State), then follow up less than 24 hours later with a 5-3 win over a perennial power (Georgia Tech)? Easy. You throw in a trip to the Marietta Diner located on Cobb Parkway in Marietta, Georgia, just down the road from the El Monte RV Rentals and Sales center. This heavenly locale can transform any hockey road trip into an unforgettable experience, and last weekend was no exception.

The Food Network’s Guy Fieri says of the Georgia hot spot, “You’d expect to find a diner like this, where, in Jersey or Philly? But we’re down south in Marietta.” Coach Bernstein, a New Jersey native, agrees. “It was like being back at home. From the patent leather booths and cheesy Tuscan murals to the massive menu and blazing fast service, the owners nailed everything.”

“It was kind of overwhelming,” said freshman defenseman Harry Londoff when asked about the menu. “You could literally order anything – an egg sandwich, spaghetti and meatballs, a Greek gyro platter, blackened salmon, even Chinese stir-fry. It was incredible.” Londoff settled on ordering the biggest plate of chicken marsala you have ever seen, a selection accompanied by both a soup and salad. “It was enough for three meals, so I was pretty happy.”

Fellow freshman Logan Johnston said of the experience, “We don’t have places like this back in Colorado.” Johnston tried spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie that the restaurant gives out as a complimentary treat to start every meal, for the first time. His feedback? “Just OK. If I liked spinach more, I probably would have liked it more.”

The place is such a hit with locals that not only was there a waiting list at 12:30am, but also it was the go-to selection for sophomores Mike Nisbet and Mike Gangemi who were each separately visiting family and friends from the Marietta area.

Said Nisbet, “It was hilarious to see Gangemi and his friends walk in, then the rest of the team end up at the diner, all without any of our three groups coordinating with one another. I guess it’s just the place to be on a Friday night in Georgia.”

Game Recaps

Not much to say about Friday night’s 16-2 win over Georgia State other than that the Atlanta club is brand new, having just hosted the first two practices of their season. They will certainly get better over the coming years.

Saturday’s game versus Georgia Tech showcased what senior captain Tom Trepanier called, “The first game of our season.” Explaining that “we went into the game with the mentality that we were 0-0,” Trepanier led by example by netting the contest’s first goal at the 8:51 mark of the first period. “We have been, and will continue to be, in ‘credibility-building mode’ in terms of making our presence known in the southeast hockey ranks. We just decided we weren’t going to lose.”

Following a Scooter McLaughlin tally just four minutes later in the first, it looked like Vanderbilt may sprint to its second resounding victory of the road trip and a 6-0 season record. Of course, that feeling evaporated when sophomore David Crowe temporarily went insane and committed an offense so heinous, so obscene, so ghastly, that the Yellow Jackets scored two quick goals, leveling the contest at 2-2.

In all seriousness, the play was not that bad but it did leave the door open for Georgia Tech to get back into the hockey game. Crowe pinched at the left point to keep a puck in the zone, an ill-advised move given that Tech’s left wing was cutting through neutral ice for a fairly routine outlet pass. Knowing he was beat, Crowe picked off the defenseman who made the breakout pass, then engaged in a bit of extracurricular tomfoolery that netted him an interference penalty. The pinch, the penalty, the delayed odd-man situation … it immediately translated to a quick goal for the Yellow Jackets that cut the lead to one. Then, on the resulting penalty kill Tech scored again making Crowe’s actions doubly painful.

“We’ve talked about working to be the smartest team in the league, perhaps in all of the ACHA,” said Bernstein. “That means no retaliation penalties, being in the right position at the right time, knowing when to press and when not to press. And in that moment, David knows he lost his bearings a bit.”

In recognition of this instance and those that may follow with other members of the club, assistant coach Jonathan Holston founded a new tradition following the contest called the “Airhead of the Game” anti-honor. Recipients get a candy bar of the same name which, as Holston points out, allows ‘winners’ to “both wallow in their sorrows and also enjoy a sugary treat to lift back up their spirits – a net positive if I do say so myself.”

Asked about winning the first ever AOTG award following the game, Crowe replied, “Delicious,” then theorized that, “The coaching staff may have mis-aligned the incentives on this one. I love these things!”

Turning Point

At 2-2 and facing increasing pressure from the Georgia Tech front line, the Commodores made a poor line change and let one of the Yellow Jacket players break free on senior goalie Brenden Oliver. In hot pursuit, graduate Ryan Weekes slid and subsequently tripped the player just as he was about to fire away at the net. The attempt, while well-intentioned, resulted in a penalty shot.

Remembering all of the saves he had made in the past year’s worth of “Last Commodore Standing” penalty shot contests, Oliver met the challenge as he stoned a double-deke with his left pad. Recalled Oliver, “He came in from the center which gave me an opportunity to manage the angles pretty well. He put the puck on his backhand but I could just read he was going to try to stuff home a forehand on my glove side. Sure enough, that’s what he did and I was able to get the save.”

The play proved to be the turning point of the game as the ‘Dores quickly notched two goals to head into the third with a 4-2 lead. Tech cut the lead to a goal but sophomore sensation Brad Pesce restored order with his eighth goal of the season enroute to a 5-3 final.

“I was incredibly proud of the guys,” said Bernstein following the game. “We played a great team, and despite taking a few shots in the mouth we hung tough. Great signs for the season.”

In attendance were about 250 fans including writer Jim Davis who was good enough to stop by the locker room after the game. Davis noted that as of Saturday, the Commodores were one of two teams in the South to still be undefeated and the only club to have 6 wins. “That news definitely added to the guys’ post-game satisfaction level,” said Bernstein, “but we’re not stopping here.”

Next up for the ‘Dores is a top-flight Florida team followed by the year-in/year-out SECHC contender Bulldogs of Georgia. “The measuring sticks are going to keep on coming,” said Trepanier. “We look forward to the challenge.”

Next Game

Following a week off for fall break, the Commodores will be back on the ice on Friday, October 14th, at 10:10pm at the Atlanta IceForum in Duluth, Georgia, versus the University of Florida Gators. If you’re in the area, please come support the team. In the meantime, the ice hockey club’s best wishes go out to Vandy football as they look to take down the JV NFL team that is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Coach Franklin et al, we believe you can pull off the miracle!

Game Information
Date & Time: Friday, September 30th, 2011 at 8:10pm ET
Location: Marietta Ice Center – Marietta, GA
Attendance: 60

1 2 3 F &#9733
Thomas Trepanier (RW): 4 goals, 1 assist
VU 5 6 5 16 &#9733&#9733
Brad Pesce (RW): 4 goals, 1 assist
GS 0 1 1 2 &#9733&#9733&#9733
Joey Grisko (LW): 3 goals, 1 assist
First Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
9:08 VU
Grisko (1) – Blatt
1 0
5:38 VU
McCann (4) – Johnston
2 0
5:31 VU
Kaminsky (3) – Pesce
3 0
3:02 VU
Pesce (3) – Rosenfield
4 0
1:23 VU
Trepanier (2) – McCann
5 0
Second Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
15:30 VU
Pesce (4) – Ross
6 0
12:58 VU
Trepanier (3) – Grisko
7 0
9:46 VU
Grisko (2) – Unassisted
8 0
8:41 VU
Pesce (5) – Unassisted
9 0
6:52 VU
Kaminsky (4) – Smallwood, Weekes
10 0
3:30 GS
Casserly (1) – Unassisted
10 1
1:25 VU
Grisko (3) – McCann, Trepanier
11 1
Third Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
16:44 VU
Trepanier (4) – McCann
12 1
14:30 VU
Reno (2) – Rosenfield, Leeser
13 1
13:37 VU
Trepanier (5) – McCann
14 1
4:30 VU
Blatt (1) – Unassisted
15 1
4:09 GS
Abranov (1) – Gazzola, Yowler
15 2
0:01 VU
Pesce (6) – Smallwood
16 2

Game Information
Date & Time: Saturday, October 1st, 2011 at 3:40pm ET
Location: The ICE – Cumming, GA
Attendance: 250

1 2 3 F &#9733
Brenden Oliver (G): 28 saves
VU 2 2 1 5 &#9733&#9733
Brad Pesce (C): 2 goals
GT 2 0 1 3 &#9733&#9733&#9733
Scott McLaughlin (LW): 1 goal, 2 assists
First Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
8:51 VU
Trepanier (6) – Blatt, Nisbet
1 0
4:38 VU
McLaughlin (5) – Ross, D. Crowe
2 0
3:54 GT
McCray – McKinney
2 1
3:09 GT
Bishop – Gartner, Roberts
2 2
Second Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
5:42 VU
Pesce (7) – McLaughlin, Ross
3 2
4:23 VU
Rosenfield (4) – Blatt, Londoff
4 2
Second Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
18:26 GT
McCrary – McKinney
4 3
15:08 VU
Pesce (8) – McLaughlin
5 3

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