April 30, 2012

67's Season Wrap-Up: From Behind the Lens

This year's blog was the collaboration of three contributors:  Kathryn the aspiring scout, Alex the aspiring sports journalist and me, the aspiring sports photographer.  We combined our love of hockey and the 67's to give you our insights over the season.  I have asked Kathryn and Alex each to do a season wrap-up from their point of view.  This post is from my point of view - from behind the lens. I hope we hear from Kathryn and Alex soon.   
My goals for every game are to capture key moments as well as a good photo of each player.  This is in part for the parents and other out-of-town fans - but it's also for the players themselves.  Who wouldn't want to see themselves in action?  If their twitter avatars over the season is any indication, it's been a bit of a success.

But this doesn't work out every game for a number of reasons - someone gets in the way (many times the officials, sigh), the play is too far or too close for the lens to capture effectively, the player just does not get in a spot for a good photo, or the bench gets shortened before I get a good shot.  

I went through the pictures that were posted over the season and chose one for each player.
Some of the photos were chosen because it's about the player, some are chosen because it's about the photo, and some are chosen for both.  Making these choices is never easy and is largely based on how I felt at the moment.  There are many photos I like out of the hundreds that have been taken over the year.

Here are 28 of them and my thoughts about the player or the photo or both. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Marc-Anthony Zanetti - celebration
Capturing goal celebrations is fun and no one celebrated goals, his or his team mates,  more enthusiastically than captain Marc-Anthony Zanetti - often taking air.  Here he's reacting to a decision on the overtime goal against Windsor in December.  Clearly the decision was in their favour. 

Daniel Broussard
Overager Daniel Broussard came to Ottawa pretty early in the season and was a quiet on-ice player - never too high, never seemingly too low - never got a sense of his emotions.  A late season injury kept him sidelined for a while - we missed him for a good part of the playoffs.  He managed to continue his studies at Guelph University during the season and may continue his hockey career playing there next season.

Mike Cazzola
As anyone following this blog would know that I loved Mike's contribution to the team.  He simply worked hard and made players around him better.   Shane Prince was a particular beneficiary of Mike's work.  I chose this picture as it is a rare shot of him smiling on the ice.  I once asked Neil Hoch (67's Athletic trainer) if Mike actually liked playing hockey since he rarely smiled while doing it.  Neil said that Mike was intense.  Great move by Chris to get him here - wish we had more time with him.
Petr Mrazek
I could have chosen any number of pictures of Petr making saves - have a bunch of them.  But I really like the back-plate of his mask - the crazy eyes in the back of his head.  I shoot bursts (many frames in a second) and when reviewing them in quick order, it looks like the eyes are following you.  This picture always makes me smile. As we saw at the World Juniors, he can be a bit of a character.  He has earned his way to Team Czechoslovakia for the World Championship. 

Tyler Toffoli
Two 50-goal years for Tyler.  Not sure when we will next enjoy a player with that level of production.  He happily posed for this shot after the game - it's loaded with symbols:  the 67's logo, the puck and his LA Kings gear.  He flies to LA on Tuesday to join their taxi squad for round 2 of the playoffs.  Off to the show for him.

Dalton Smith
Dalton Smith is the epitome of hard work.  He gets into the so-called dirty areas and holds his own.  He makes room for his team mates, drops the gloves (never lost as far as I can recollect), and he scores goals.  Gretzky's office was behind the net; Dalton's is at the top of the crease.  One tough hombre - the signed Blue Jackets prospect is not likely to return next season.  We'll miss his presence. 
John McFarland
John McFarland was traded to Ottawa before the January deadline and had an immediate impact.  Unfortunately a shoulder injury ended his OHL career after having played just 12 games for Ottawa (4G, 5A, +8).  He managed to attend a few games between surgery and rehab to cheer on his team mates both here in Ottawa and on the road.  But the thing that stands out the most for me is, in speaking with his Ottawa billet-mom, she could not speak more highly of this young man.  He sounds like a thoroughly well-rounded individual.  Will keep track of this Florida Panthers prospect. 
Shane Prince
I first heard of Shane Prince at the Memorial Cup in Kitchener in 2008 when I was introduced to Shane's dad Dan as we watched one of the warm-ups.  Who could have predicted that Shane would be traded to the 67's, get the break-out he was seeking and get drafted by the Ottawa Senators.  This is Shane celebrating a goal against his former team as Ottawa edged Kitchener 4-3. I believe this was the GWG.  It's likely that we will not see this yet-to-be-signed Ottawa prospect next season.
Jake Cardwell
Ah - Jake Cardwell.  I have lots of good pictures of Jake but I chose this one for a couple of reasons.  One is that it's a hard picture to get.  I don't often get a chance to shoot from between the benches which is about the only place you can get a shot like this from - a line of players moving up ice together.  But the main reason I chose this picture is that Jake is in focus and is leading the rush.  From his on-ice performance, he exudes leadership and this year's playoffs added the exclamation mark. He's eligible to return as an OA next year; if he returns, I see him wearing the "C". 
Mike Cajkovsky
He's known as Big Mike.  Maybe because of his size...or maybe because everyone has a tough time pronouncing his surname.  He's a Slovakian import that Chris picked up in the off-season to add some toughness.  Not only tough on the ice, for some reason I had a tough time getting a good, in-focus shot of him all year.  Finally got this one...to me it looks like he is going to swat Oshawa's Boone Jenner out of the way as he moves the puck out of danger. 
Shane Campbell
What most fans probably don't know is that the players are active in the community away from the rink.  While hip surgery kept Shayne from dressing for any home games, Shayne was a supportive team mate and was recognized as one of three members of the 67's to win the Brian Smith trophy for best exemplifying sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. 
Tyler Graovac
Tyler Graovac had a good season - maybe not as many goals as he might have wanted but he stayed healthy and made me a believer in the awesomeness of third lines.  He picked the pockets of more than a few players in their defensive zone and wreaked havoc on teams trying to get set up as he tenaciously pursued the puck.  He could also stick-handle in a phone booth at times.  Tyler will spend some of the off-season training in Minnesota.  He's not yet signed so if we get him back (a likely scenario) he should be poised for a great season. 

Cody Ceci
Cody Ceci is the highest-ranked NHL Draft eligible member of this year's 67's squad where his play saw him earn a significant jump up the rankings to end up in the top 10.  Here he's using his body to break up a scoring chance by the always dangerous Ivan Telegin during the playoffs.  You don't see Cody laying the big hits on anyone; he opts for smart, positional play instead (which is harder to photograph).

Michael Nishi
The backup goalie has to be one of the toughest positions on the team and one that Michael fulfilled superbly.  My goal in taking pictures of goalies is to get 'the save' which isn't always easy with all the traffic that can be in the way.  Was glad to get this one of Michael. 

Sean Monahan
Earlier in this game, Sean had been on the receiving end of a questionable hit into the boards that was not called.  Seeing that the officials were not apparently interested meting out justice, he took matters into his own hands, literally, later in the game.  This was pure passion on Sean's part - for whom this was his first and last OHL fight.  I was invited to enter a couple of pictures into an exhibition and this is one that I chose.  Some of the other photographers actually criticized my choice as promoting violence in hockey.  I don't see it that way. 

Steven Janes
Follow Steven Janes during a game and you're likely to catch him flinging his big body at someone.  Sometimes he connects and sometimes he doesn't.  The other notable thing about photographing Steven is trying to get a picture of him without his tongue sticking out.  I often thought that I would put together a montage of pictures of the faces he makes while playing. 

Nickolas Foglia
I don't think it's possible to take a bad picture of Nicholas - he's one of those folks that the camera likes.  He's a focused, intense player which comes through in his eyes. 

Ryan Van Stralen
This a small town.  While getting an order filled at Lee Valley earlier this season the chat turned to the Ottawa 67's and the man serving me mentioned that he was a 67's fan since Ryan joined the team from Smith Falls.  I think the gentleman knows Ryan's uncle or some other family member.  It's always fun chatting 67's hockey with other fans away from the rink.

Remy Giftopolous
Some players plan how they will celebrate their goals.  Somehow I don't think this is what Remy had in mind as his signature celebration move.  But it was a key goal as the 67's started to climb out of a 3-goal deficit. 

Brett Gustavsen
If you've been following the blog, you already know my thoughts on Brett.  He clearly punches (figuratively) above his weight class.  I keep forgetting that this was his rookie season.

Taylor Fielding
Taylor Fielding likes laying on the body but it's probably not a good idea to put your team mates, coach and equipment manager in harm's way doing it.  Notice Chris' calm turn compared with how Marc Zanetti, equipment and all, is going for cover. 

Ryan Shipley
Ryan Shipley defending against an airborne Alex Aleardi. Ryan missed a lot games this year due to a foot injury.  It was interesting to read Don Campbell's (Ottawa Citizen) musing about Ryan possibly seeking a trade out of Ottawa. 

Ben Dubois
Overager Ben Dubois was the odd man out when Mike Cazzola came to town.  He always looked intense with a mischievous edge. 

Sean Callaghan
I find it hard to get a read on most rookies as they tend to get less ice time and they take a while to make their mark.  I mostly remember Sean for his feistiness.  

Mike Vlajkov
In checking the stats, I was surprised to see that Mike is listed as having played 61 games this season.  I like getting at least one "hockey card" type shot of each player each year - full shot, in motion, puck on the stick and head up. 

David Walsh
David Walsh joined the team late in the season to add an extra body when needed.  He saw action in 5 games including 1 playoff.

David Perklin
The wall boards behind David Perklin, Ottawa's first round draft pick, is an ad for Avis with the slogan (We) Try Harder.  He was traded. 

And that's it for my season wrap-up from behind the lens.  Next year it looks like we will be at Scotia Bank Place.  It won't be as good to shoot there as it is at the Civic Centre.  We are spoiled by great lighting (better than SBP), better access points and better glass to shoot through if you have to.  But if everything works out well, I plan to be there next year to bring you pictures of the 67's home games.  Hope you enjoyed this year's photos.  Have a great off-season. 

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