Editor’s Note: While The Fat Guy charms snakes on the links out West this week, Brandon Pope pinch hits in his column space.
Before we could put the lid on an exciting winter sports season, the spring teams were already preparing for another campaign. Right around this time last year, we were scrambling to find stories because the first month of the spring season was virtually wiped out by lousy weather. Several fields were encompassed in water, and forced many teams to have to cancel a large chunk of the season.
That is not the case this year, however, as only a select few games have been postponed, mostly due to an occasional day of frigid weather, but for the most part, we’ve been able to get out and see some of our local teams in action. The area’s high school baseball scene is always an interesting one, and will continue to be with top tier teams such as Lapeer East and Davison.
East is the defending back-to-back Flint Metro League champions, and returns a solid core, so their success is expected. Davison, although rarely down, lost several key components from last season, including star pitcher Mike Dolloff. The Cardinals, however, have shown that they’re still one of the top teams in the area with victories over Imlay City, Bay City Central and Midland Dow.
As for other local stories, the Michigan Warriors were eliminated from the North American Hockey League playoffs on Saturday, losing the best-of-five series, 3-1. I was unable to make it to Saturday’s final game, but I was in attendance on Friday. I expected the Warriors to be inspired after returning to Flint with the series evened at a game apiece. Apparently, that inspiration never caught on, because the Warriors seemed a bit flat from what I saw in Friday’s game. They panicked in certain situations, and heavily relied on the dump-and-chase, which is a highly unsuccessful offensive strategy if you can’t beat the defense to the puck. Regardless, the Warriors deserve props for hanging on and making the playoffs, especially since they were on the outside looking in for a while.
Quite often when you talk area hockey, one name always seems to float to the surface; Bob Perani. Perani played goalie for the original Flint Generals during the franchise’s early days, and was the most recognizable name to ever dawn the blue and gold. Not to mention his highly successful hockey retail business, Perani’s Hockey World, which is the largest independent hockey equipment supplier in the world. The arena he once called home also sports his name as
Perani Arena & Event
Center, and when the modern Generals were still around, he was the only original General to have his number retired by the second incarnation of the franchise.
I’m saddened to say that Mr. Perani passed away this past weekend at 69 years of age. He was aboard a plane that was heading from Detroit to his retirement home in Thailand when he died in mid-flight. The cause of death has yet to be determined. Perani did more good for this area than many could even dream of, and was one of the most polite people you will ever meet in your lifetime. I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family and friends during this time.
Since we’re already on the topic of hockey, the Red Wings have to be addressed. Currently, Detroit is in the middle of a first-round playoff match up with the Nashville Predators, a series which has not been very favorable to the Wings, thus far. Losing the opener was disappointing, but Detroit was able to bounce back with a game-two win, despite things getting a bit too close for comfort towards the end.
The Wings returned home to Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, having stolen home ice advantage from the Predators. Luckily for Nashville, it gained that edge right back, mainly behind the play of its goalie, Pekka Rinne. The Preds were heavily outshot in the game, but Rinne was able to stop nearly twice as many shots as Jimmy Howard faced all day. If the Wings can’t find a way to put more pucks behind Rinne, they’ll be playing golf in a week or so. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.