7th Heaven

April 19, 2012 

I'll admit I was a little disappointed when the Americans couldn't close out their series in Spokane on Monday night. I've covered them quite a bit during this playoff run and after a late Friday night and long Saturday pulling double duty for the Herald and the Spokesman-Review at both the Pasco Invite and Game 5, I was ready for a hockey break.

I wasn't surprised, though, and hoped the intensity would hang on for the deciding game on Wednesday. These do-or-die matches are what you work toward all season, but stories have a way of countering your expectations in this job, so I was cautiously excited about covering it.

It did not disappoint.

Derek Ryckman got nice and amped before introductions:

There was some good fan color of all ages:

Ty Rimmer stuffed Mike Aviani's penalty shot:

Some crashing and sliding:

Spokane goalie Eric Williams played out of his mind, racking up 45 saves:

I got a decent shot of Spokane's go-ahead goal in the third period:

And while I wish I could have gotten something with a bit more drama during Brendan Shinnimin's game-winning goal,

I was happy with my shots from the Ams' first and second scores:

And then it was jube time,

before popping into the locker room:

It was the first time I had gone into their locker room, but it was too good of a game not to try. They welcomed me in with the usual warning of colorful language I always hear in any locker room of every sport. I was hoping it would be a cacophony of celebration with ginger ale or another age-appropriate beverage flying about.

I asked an equipment manager what they usually do and he said there would be a chant, so after a nice speech by coach Jim Hiller about how special that playoff series had been, I frantically fired off frames during their brief group yell:

I honestly couldn't tell you what they were chanting and didn't even notice all the middle fingers while I scrambled my way onto a bench to get that second shot. There were plenty other jubes to choose from, but that one would have offered a rare behind-the-scenes look. It was a little disheartening to get some decent access on the fly and not be able to use the photos I had wanted, but that was a small hiccup on an otherwise great night of shooting.

I often lament that my photos from great games don't match the real thing's quality. It was easily the best game I've covered in four years here and Hiller said he'd waited 25 years to be a part of something that special again.

Could I have shot better? Always. But in this case, I'll even give myself a pass. It'd be a shame to spoil such a great game with self-loathing.

Speaking of loathing...

A survey of the top 200 jobs dominated my j-school-graduate-heavy Facebook news feed with newspaper reporting coming in at fifth worst. That prompted Jeff Bercovici at Forbes to write a nice rebuttal to that finding. Photojournalist came in a bit higher at 166, which was still six spots lower than garbage collector.

No lengthy rationalizations for all the middle-of-the-pack careers unfortunately. I would have liked to see how that makes sense. I guess weekend warriors aren't happily flooding and undercutting the garbage collection industry. Maybe it had something to do with the ingenious German garbage men who turned trash containers into pinhole cameras.

Funky, creative portraiture also jammed up my denial of Facebook game requests this week. There's Rory White's Rorshake Tape Transfer Series; Levi Mandel's crumpled faces; Jason Lee's creative kid photos; and thanks to my brother Ian for passing along Seung Mo Park's wire mesh portraits.

Brain not melted enough? Check out this crazy optical illusion my friend Jarrod Peace shared, and an awesomely slow and different take on the oft-photographed Holi Festival.

And finally, our neighbors to the west won a Pulitzer for their methadone investigation, while The Denver Post's Craig F. Walker won his second one with his amazing photo story about Scott Ostrom, a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. If you only click one of my links this week, look at Craig's work.


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