Let the Games Begin

Friday, December 10, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Game 1: Biloxi

Before our Great Southeast Hockey and Letterboxing Odyssey began, we wanted to stop by Alabama to visit Dianne's mother Sylvia for a couple of days and accompany her to the follow-up appointment for her broken collarbone.
Happily, x-rays indicated the bone has healed well and she can abandon the dreaded sling while she works toward getting the arm back in good functioning order.

Leaving Alabama, we were off toward our first SPHL hockey game of the tour, this one in Biloxi.  Along the way, we located five letterboxes, enjoying a couple of short hikes in parts of the DeSoto National Forest and one of Mississippi's state parks.

We marveled at the vast network of forest service roads that crisscross the national forest areas.  Some were even known to our GPS.  For one letterbox, we drove four miles out one road before turning on another which took us another 1.2 miles to a place where the Black Creek Trail crossed the road.  These roads have dirt surfaces but are very well maintained and for the most part surprisingly smooth.  Our tax dollars at work!
Unlike most tourists to the Mississippi Gulf coast, we did not visit any casinos but headed straight to the Mississippi Coast Convention Center to watch Biloxi's Mississippi Surge play the Lousiana Ice Gators from Lafayette.  Last season was the first for this new hockey team, and the selection of Surge as the team name was not without controversy since so much was lost in this coastal area to the Katrina storm surge.  Team owners assured the public that the team's name refers not to a storm surge but to "a high voltage hockey team with a surge of electricity."
Based on our arbitrary decision to support the home team at the games we attend, we cheered the Surge on as the teams played a scoreless game through the first two periods.  Finally with less than eight minutes left in the final period, the Surge scored their first goal.  They scored again a few minutes later and won the game 2-0.  Mississippi's talented goaltender Dan Earles kept his team in the game through the first two periods, executing one impressive save after another.  Mississippi is currently tied with Pensacola for the top spot in the SPHL.
Surge mascot "Shock" likes to hitch a ride from the Zamboni between periods
Though the team is in first place and finished last year's inaugural season at the top of the league, losing the championship to Huntsville, attendance at tonight's game was dismal.  Even with a large contingent of military personnel in the area, the team's average attendance has been hovering around 2,000.  Perhaps the locals are still annoyed about the team mascot.  Or the many casinos in the area offer too much competition.  But at $17 per ticket for excellent seats, we found the game to be very entertaining and an exceptional value.

Daily Stats
Miles driven:  195
Miles walked:  3.25
Letterboxes found:  5
Temp range:  18° to 49° F.

Game Stats
Shots on goal:  69
Penalty minutes:  26
Broken sticks:  2
Loose pucks:  2
Punches thrown:  17
Zamboni loops around the rink:  30
Attendance:  :-(