I’m an NHL fan and a CHL fan. I love watching the players grow and learn the high level game in junior and hope to be able to watch them in the NHL. For most of them, they’ll go through the minor leagues to get there. Even then, most players will top out at the ECHL/AHL level before going back to school or off to Europe for better pay and a better schedule. Those in between years are like no man’s land for me and most of the players I watched on the IceDogs.
Unless I’m following closely, it will be a time when I google a player to see where he went or to find out where someone played before I see them appear in an NHL game. The minors are a means to an end for me, but for others they are the league of their team. Fielding a roster at the whim of an NHL team seems like a hard row to hoe for me, but there are plenty who put up with the call ups and downs every season, because no matter who’s calling the shots, it’s their team, in their town, and there’s no other team that’s more important. They deserve coverage that would do them proud, and there are a few people who are dedicated to that cause.
One of those dedicated writers is our own Tracey Lake (trace1114), giving us our ECHL Adirondack Thunder coverage last season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a few ECHL affiliates the past few years: the Kalamazoo Wings before the appropriately named Thunder, and now the Orlando Solar Bears beginning next season.
Tracey was writing at Thoughts Inside the Box before she joined Raw Charge, and her knowledge and passion for minor league hockey shines through every she puts fingers to keyboard (not quite as great a phrase as pen to paper, but we live with the technology of the time). She introduced herself, and the team, in her first post here back in September.
With firsthand knowledge of the local hockey scene, she gives us a great in-depth history of hockey in New York state’s capital region, from the Adirondack Red Wings, Ice Hawks, Phantoms, and even a mention of the beloved Scorch.
During the season, her week-by-week breakdowns of the games and roster changes were insightful, entertaining, and informative.
She would hit every milestone, and every event in each game, making sure we would all know where the team was at, even on nights off:
Friday, 3/30: CLINCH!
As the Thunder were enjoying a rare Friday night off, they also had to do a little scoreboard watching. Worcester played host to Brampton, while fourth place Wheeling headed to Toledo to face the Walleye. All that needed to happen was a loss from either Worcester or Wheeling and the Thunder were in. The Railers would win, but the Nailers would lose. Which means...
In the post-season things, stayed consistently great, and we got the facts we needed without the bias someone like me would have coated the post in.
Facts. Stats. Highlights. Everything a Lightning fan would need to know on time and well written.
When the Thunder’s season ended three wins shy of a trip to the finals, and there were no more games to report on, Tracey had the prospects wrapped up with some words of encouragement for Lightning fans about their futures.
Lightning fans don’t know how good they had it with the Thunder coverage last season. Most fan sites don’t bother with the ECHL affiliates as most teams don’t bother to do much with them. While the Crunch and Lightning made the most out of player development, Raw Charge readers were treated to some of the best ECHL coverage you could find outside a local newspaper’s beat reporter.
On her bio at Thoughts Inside the Box, Tracey says that she always wanted to be a writer:
I actually had aspirations of becoming a writer starting at around 7 or 8 years old. Back then I wasn’t much of a talker, but I quickly discovered I could communicate with others through writing stories, then pen pal letters when I hit my teens. When it came time to decide what I wanted to do in college, I wanted to study journalism or communications with the goal of either writing for a newspaper or magazine.
From what I’ve read over the past season, there’s an editor out in upstate New York (Albany, not Utica) who’s wishing he had someone to do what Tracey does. We’ve been lucky to have it for the 2017-18 season here at Raw Charge, and hopefully we can have some more excellent coverage for more to come.