Face-Off With Spracks

Hockey senior forward Chris Spracklen will once again provide an insiders' look at the Army hockey program. A center from Kennewick, Wash., Spracklen will share his insights, introduce teammates, provide a glimpse into life on the road and much more for the second consecutive season, continuing the long tradition of Army hockey diaries. Click here to read Spracklen's biography.

Thursday, Oct. 21

Have you ever seen the end of the Stanley Cup Finals and every single player has the most beautiful flow (hair) and grizzle (beards) ever?  Or did you happen to notice that Coach Riley wore the same suit and tie for 13 consecutive games during the 2007-2008 season? 

 Hockey players have some great superstitions, my personal favorites come in playoffs when no haircuts or shaving is allowed ... with the exception of a particular college.  Anyway, sometimes superstitions really go overboard, but the locker room is full of them.  This usually comes from a player having a really good game and feeling that he has to perform those same steps to have another great game.  It's an endless cycle, but once you start it is hard to stop.  Here is my list of the Top 10 superstitions on the Army Hockey Team. 

10) Cody Ikkala thinks that he has to tape his wrists so tight that he cuts off all circulation in his hands.  He spends a lot of time getting the perfect tape job.  This probably stemmed from a couple successful fights in juniors and figured he was better off if his hands were numb.  He probably regrets this superstition, but like I said, once you start you can't stop.

9)  Starzy (Andy Starczewski) will always tape both of his game day sticks and lay them out for Omi (Cody Omilusik) to pick.  I guess the pressure of deciding which one to use is just too much, so he has someone make the call for him.  Meanwhile, Mike Hull tapes his stick exactly 46 minutes before the puck drops.  I don't know why he does this ... but I like it. 

8)  Bill Day watched Happy Gilmore before a game once and had a career high in blocked shots.  Now before every game he has to watch the clip of Adam Sandler in the batting cages to get pumped for diving all over the ice trying to block shots.

7)  Jay Clark, Ryan Leets, and Anthony Cadieux.  Goalies just do weird stuff in the first place, but Clark is very strict in his pregame superstitions.  He is meticulous with setting his goals for the game, and he does his dot drills and stretches for at least 20 minutes.  Then he stares into space until game time.  Meanwhile, Leets studies for Physics and Cadieux eats a box of cupcakes.   

6)  Omilusik has a couple that are noteworthy.  He has to get a certain amount of consecutive headers in the pregame soccer kickaround before he can get dressed.  His partner used to be Big Spracks (my big brother Joe), but since he is now retired, Omi recruited Mike Santee.  Both are mediocre, at best, so they are usually pushing the time limits to get dressed for warm-ups.  His other superstition is that he has to spend at least three minutes in front of the mirror getting his fohawk just perfect for starting lineup introductions. 

5) If I left out the superstition that every player puts on his gear in the exact same order, then this list would lose all credibility.  Furthermore, many players will wear their under-gear until it has completely fallen apart because it's their lucky gear and a new piece of gear just won't feel the same. 

4)  Pat Copeland always has to be the first guy at the rink on game day.  He likes to get a good workout in before the rest of the guys get there; this way he can walk around with minimal clothing on and show off how big his chest is.

3)  Mike Hull and Danny Colvin have to take a shower before every game.  If you ask me it just doesn't make sense.  But they do it every game, without fail. 

2)  After every pregame team stretch we watch Omi do a little dance followed by either a Bryant Skarda or Omi doing a back flip.  We then grade them on performance and delivery.  It gets all the guys going though and is a necessity before every game.  If their grade is a five out of five then you can pretty much guarantee an Army Hockey victory.

1) Coach's lucky bus.  I almost have to curse the day we won a game on the road with the worst bus in the lot. This has cost our team dearly because coach has to have that same bus for every trip now.  It is the oldest bus as well as the smallest.  Deep down I think it is because it is the only bus in existence to still have a VHS player. This way coach can bring all his favorite westerns and war movies on the bus and it forces us to take naps so we are well rested for the game. 

I would now like to introduce a couple of the new rooks.

Mike Henderson (Hendo) - Hendo had an illustrious career in the junior hockey world, ordering cups of coffee in several different cities.  I love having Hendo around because now there is somebody who played in more junior leagues than I did so he takes the heat off me being the butt end of that joke.  He is a great puckhandler and a hard worker on the ice.  Hendo is what you might describe as the "class clown" but he fits in great with the team and always has a good joke or comeback.  His favorite joke is bringing Maggard a brownie ... both players are members of the 12% club- an exclusive Army Hockey club. 

Brian Schultz (Schultzy)- Throw a "Y" on the end of anybody's name and boom instant nickname.  Anyway, Schultzy is a great new rook who spends his free time studying chemistry.  He has a great attitude and is always laughing. Since he sits next to me in the locker room he is a real self-confidence booster because he laughs at all my jokes. I see him as my potential protégé, so I am trying to teach him everything I know. He also appears to have endless energy which is perfect for any penalty killer -- Coach Large is excited to have him! 

Next week, I will debut Dax Lauwers and Anthony Cadieux.  Thanks for reading my diary and I hope to see you all at the rink Saturday for our game against UConn.


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