Night’s Foster Accuses Officials of Anti-NY Bias

Nick Foster

In a bizarre coda to the New York Night‘s 6-5 victory over the Washington Galaxy on Saturday, Night coach Nick Foster used his postgame press conference to accuse referee Brandon Fosse and his crew of being biased against New York.  Foster went on to argue that the league was “scared of” his team and determined to keep them out of the postseason.

In a lot of ways, the game was a successful one for the Night.  They outshot the rival Galaxy 47-32 and secured a key win that all but guarantees them a third-place finish in the East.  But the third period was a harrowing one for New York, as Washington scored four unanswered goals that nearly erased a 6-1 Night lead.  Many observers thought the late rally was evidence that the Night took their foot off the gas, or that netminder Jesse Clarkson was continuing his recent stretch of shaky play.  But to Foster, the real cause of the Washington rally was a string of penalties called by Fosse and his crew.

“It’s pretty impressive that we pulled that one out, considering that we were playing against 10 guys there in the third,” said the Night coach, referring to the six Washington players and the four officials.  “They really didn’t want us to win this one, but we got the W anyway.”  Asked to elaborate, Foster said, “Come on, you’re all smart guys.  You’ve got eyes.  You think it was a coincidence that all the whistles went against us down the stretch?  I’m not sure what we did to piss [Fosse] off, or if the call came from upstairs, but he had it in for us.”

Foster continued, “I’m going to talk to the league; I don’t want his crew working our games any more.  I don’t think they’ll listen, though.  Now that we’re getting better, they’re scared of us winning.  The last thing they want to see is us in the playoffs.”

On the surface, it seemed Foster’s complaint might have some merit.  The last four penalties of the game, called in the latter half of the third period all went against New York, including two in quick concession that gave the Galaxy a 5-on-3 edge for over a minute and a half.  Foster contended that the fatigue of the extended penalty-kill shifts left his team exhausted and vulnerable to a late rally.

On the other hand, only one of Washington’s third-period goals actually came on the power play.  And Foster’s accusation ignored the fact that over the game as a whole, New York actually had more power plays than Washington.  In fact, the Galaxy didn’t go a man up even once until the third.

Fosse and the other officials join a lengthy list of people and teams with which Foster has feuded this season, including the Hamilton Pistols, their star Steven Alexander, the Dakota Jackalopes, and the Corn Palace.

The league did not make Fosse available for comment after the game, but they did take swift action against Foster, fining the coach $5,000.  “The idea that our referees or our league are biased against any of our teams is ludicrous,” said Commissioner Perry Mitchell.  “I don’t know why Coach Foster would make crazy accusations like that.  It’s disappointing on a personal level; more importantly, it’s inappropriate and unacceptable.”

Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle, on the other hand, reacted to Foster’s accusations with amusement.  “I’ve got to hand it to that guy,” Reagle said.  “Ordinarily, after a game like that, you’d figure he’d be answering questions about why his team can’t close out a game, or why his goalie couldn’t stop a cold.  Instead, he’s got us all talking about whether the refs and the league have a vendetta against his team.  Talk about post-game spin!”

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Foster Pokes Fun at Dakota, Corn Palace

Continuing their annual tradition, the Dakota Jackalopes hosted a game at Mitchell’s famous Corn Palace.  For this season’s “Corn Classic” on Tuesday, the Jackalopes faced off against the New York Night.  New York coach Nick Foster made waves by turning his pre-game press conference into a roast of Mitchell, the Corn Palace, and the Midwest generally.

Nick Foster

Foster made his speech in response to a reporter who asked him how he liked it in the Dakotas.  “I always enjoy our trips to flyover country,” the coach replied.  “It’s always nice to see how the other half lives.”

Foster then poked fun at the town of Mitchell, calling it “the actual middle of nowhere.  I mean, I thought that our usual games here [in Rapid City] were the middle of nowhere.  But this time, we flew in, then got on a bus for two hours just to get here.  It’s a nice clean little place, though.  I took a walk around downtown today.  Took me five minutes, but it was nice.”

Corn Palace

The coach then poked fun at the Corn Palace.  “I figured in a place this small, we’d be playing on a rink in someone’s backyard,” Foster said.  “But instead, we came here.  Somebody took a barn and slapped a bunch of corn on the outside and called it a ‘palace.’  Wow!  I guess it gives you guys something to do out here.  And I have to admit, it’s the nicest corn-based art I’ve ever seen.”

Predictably, Foster’s jibes inspired outrage among the Jackalopes and the Dakota fans.  “I’m sorry if our town and our arena aren’t fancy enough for him,” said Dakota LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston.  “But some of us like the life out here.  It might not be as glamorous as New York, where everyone lives on top of each other and the air smells like hot dogs and bus exhaust and the rats are as big as dogs.  But we love it.  We love our state, and our city, and our Corn Palace.”

Jackalopes coach Flim Dahlgren added, “I don’t want to get into this, because I know it’s all part of Nick’s act.  He likes to pretend he’s a wrestling heel, and he’s always trying to stir the pot.  But if you come here and make fun of the Corn Palace, we can’t let that stand.  We have to defend the corn.  Let’s go out there and win big!”

The sellout crowd of 3,200 greeted Foster with boos and signs bearing slogan like “Yankee Go Home” and “Shuck You, Foster.”  As the New York coach came down the tunnel to the bench, one irate fan dumped a can of creamed corn on his head.  Foster responded by tasting the corn and flashing a thumbs-up in response.

The Jackalopes delivered their best revenge to Foster on the ice, edging the Night 3-2 as D Matt Cherner scored a pair of goals.  “We may have a small crowd here, but it feels like they’re right on top of you,” said Cherner after the game.  “I think we have the best home-ice advantage in the league here.  And with [Foster’s] comments, that gave the whole thing a little extra juice.”

Dakota now joins the growing list of places where Foster has made himself persona non grata; earlier in the season, he infuriated the fans in Hamilton by calling their arena a “dump” and accusing Pistols star Steven Alexander of cheating.

“At this rate, I’ll have every other city in the league hating my guts by 2020,” Foster said.  “Dare to dream!”

Continue reading “Foster Pokes Fun at Dakota, Corn Palace”

Night Ship Garcia to Badgers for Gladchuk

Amid the flurry of activity at the trading deadline, with contenders making both small and large moves to load up for a playoff push, one deal wasn’t like the others.  It was a trade between two non-contending teams that involved no big-name players.  Arguably, there was only one reason that the deal was made: to satisfy Diego Garcia’s trade demand.

Garcia, a 26-year-old winger, has had a productive season with the New York Night’s minor-league affiliate in Utah; his 41 points this season led the team.  But when it became clear that the Night had no intention of promoting him to the big club, Garcia grew disenchanted and demanded to be traded.

Diego Garcia

Three weeks later, New York accommodated Garcia’s demand, sending him to the Boston Badgers, an expansion club that is thirsty for offense.

“We took Diego’s demand seriously,” said Night coach Nick Foster.  “I’ve always been straight with my guys about my plans for them.”  After Garcia made his demand, Foster said that he called the disgruntled winger to talk about his place in the organization.  “I told him my thinking and how I saw our forward situation, and what I thought he’d need to do to crack the lineup here,” the coach told reporters.  “After we talked, Diego felt like he’d prefer to go somewhere that he would have an opportunity right away, and we looked for a chance to make that happen.”

In Garcia, Boston acquires an undeniably talented player, but one whose lackluster work habits and prickly personality have caused him to wear out his welcome in multiple cities.  He posted 9 goals and 22 assists over pieces of three SHL seasons with Dakota, Hamilton, and New York.  He has a reputation as a player who can contribute on offense, especially as a passer.  However, he is considered weak on defense, which makes him an odd fit for a Badgers team that is supposedly built around defense and hard work.

On the other hand, Boston’s need for offense is so acute – they are last in the league in goals scored by a considerable margin – that they may be willing to explore unorthodox choices.  Head coach Cam Prince was an assistant in New York during Garcia’s time there, and he likes what the winger brings to the table.  “Diego is a talented guy who has the explosiveness to make things happen,” said Prince.  “We could use a little extra pace and a spark on offense, and I think he can give us that.”

Shane Gladchuk

In exchange for Garcia and 19-year-old defenseman Horst Hasenkamp, the Badgers sent the Night a pair of players.  The prime return for New York is 29-year-old defenseman Shane Gladchuk, who put up 2 goals and 10 assists in 40 games with Boston.  Gladchuk, who is in his second tour of duty with New York, is expected to join Andy Ruger on the Night’s bottom defensive pairing.

In addition, the Night acquired Alvin Fawn, a 19-year-old prospect who scored 7 points over 36 games in the minors this season.

“Shane is one of those guys who doesn’t grab the headlines, but he does a good steady job,” said Foster.  “We’re looking to tighten up in our own end, and Shane’s just the guy we need to help with that.  If everything works out the way I think it will, I hope we’ll be able to lock him up long-term.”

Night Coach Calls Hamilton Arena A “Dump”

New York Night coach Nick Foster has made no secret of his desire to kindle a feud with the Hamilton Pistols.  Earlier in the season, Foster took a jab at Pistols star Steven Alexander, accusing him of cheating.  This week, he took his war of words up a notch.  After last Friday’s game against the Pistols, which New York lost Foster blasted Hamilton’s arena, the Gunpowder Armory.  Built in 1941, the Armory is the SHL’s oldest facility by far, and Foster ripped the arena as decrepit and disgusting.

Nick Foster

“The place is a total dump,” said Foster.  “The whole joint smells like sweat, cigarette smoke, stale popcorn, and motor oil.  There are rats running around the place that are so big you could slap a saddle on ‘em and go for a ride.  It’s an embarrassment to the league, to tell you the truth.”

When asked what he thought would improve the facility, the Night coach replied: “A bulldozer.”

New York’s arena, the Neon Sky Center, is only five years old, and is well-known for its wide array of concessions options and high number of luxury suites.  “We’re a first-class city, and we have a first-class facility,” said Foster.  “Hamilton is a broken-down, worn-out city, so they have a broken-down dump for an arena.”

Several of the Pistols took umbrage to Foster’s remarks.  “The Armory might not be the most modern arena, but it’s good enough for us,” said coach Keith Shields.  “Hockey’s a blue-collar sport, and this is a blue-collar town and proud of it.  Maybe we’re not fancy enough for Nick, but we don’t need fancy.  We’re just here to have a good time and win some games.”

RW Kenny Patterson, a Toronto native who previously played for New York, stood up for the city.  “Remarks like that are why I was so happy to get out of New York,” said Patterson.  “They’ve got a beautiful building, but it’s an empty shell, just like the team.  Their games are full of so-called fans sipping Chablis in their luxury boxes and ignoring the game.  Me, I’d rather be here, with real fans who drink beer and cheer us on.

“I thought it was an upgrade when [the Night] got rid of [ex-coach Preston] Rivers, but it seems like they just got another guy who likes to run his mouth.  He can’t win on the ice, so he’s taking cheap shots in the papers.  That’s all right; we’ll just take care of our business, just like we did on Friday.”

When told of Shields’ and Patterson’s remarks, Foster laughed and rubbed his hands together.  “We’re cookin’ now, boys!”  the coach crowed.  “I’m Public Enemy Number One!  Can’t wait for the next time we come back to Tank Town.  If that dump doesn’t fill up with boos the minute I walk in, I’ll be disappointed.”

Interview of the Week: Misha Petronov

This week’s interview is with New York Night LW Misha Petronov.

SHL Digest: Today we’re talking to a player who’s on his way to a breakout season, Misha Petronov of the New York Night.  Misha, thanks for speaking with us.

Misha Petronov

Misha Petronov: Thank you.  I must be having a good season if you are speaking to me.

SHLD: You certainly are!  You’ve always been a steady and solid performer, but you’ve never scored more than 14 goals in a season.  But here we are, only a quarter of the way into the season, and you’ve already scored 11!  How have you reinvented yourself at age 27?

MP: Reinvented?  That is a big word!  I think is better to say I got better.  I spent the offseason getting my best shape.

SHLD: You worked on getting in shape?

MP: Yes, right.  I felt that if I got in my best shape, I could be a better player.  So that’s what I did.

SHLD: What sort of exercise program did you follow?

MP: This might sound silly.  But in my family, we have many ballet dancers.  So I practiced ballet!

SHLD: Ballet!  That’s a pretty unusual fitness regimen for a hockey player.

MP: When my teammates heard that, they made much fun of me.  But it really makes sense.  To be good at ballet, you must be both strong and flexible.  Both of those things are good for hockey.  So I work like a ballerina!

SHLD: Interesting!  So, other than your ballet training, are there any other factors that have contributed to your success?

MP: I must give thanks to Coach [Nick] Foster also.  He believes that too often, we have waited for our top line to deliver the goals, and he wants the rest of us involved.  So he went to guys like me, Trainwreck [Ivan Trujwirnek], and Cat [Sylvester Catarino], and told us: “I want you to be aggressive.  I want to give you more minutes, but you must earn them with strong and aggressive play.”  And he is good for his word.  As we have played better, he has given us minutes.  It makes us a more balanced and stronger team.

SHLD: When you signed with the Night in free agency before last season [3 years, $2.7 million], a lot of critics said that you weren’t worth that kind of money.  Do you feel pressure to live up to your contract?

MP: Pressure, yes, but good pressure.  It gives me fire, to say, “They are paying me a lot of money, so I must work hard to earn it.”  And I do.

SHLD: If you can keep up this pace, you’ll be a bargain!  Before signing with New York, you spent two seasons with Anchorage, where you won a title in 2015.  How different was it with the Igloos as opposed to with the Night?

MP: Very different!  Anchorage is cold and small and far away, almost felt like I was still in Russia. (laughs)  New York is much bigger, more entertaining, tougher.  All the songs are true.  If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.  I had a good time in Anchorage, and I liked my teammates.  But I also have much fun here.

SHLD: What’s your favorite thing in the Big Apple?

MP: I love the Bronx Zoo!  Other guys like the theater or the clubs or the restaurants, but I am very fond of animals.  Almost any time when I am in New York and not at practice or a game, I go to the zoo.

SHLD: Really?  What’s your favorite animal?

MP: I like the giraffe.  It is such a crazy-looking animal with such a long neck.  If my neck were this long, I would fall over.  But the giraffe is graceful and beautiful.  It is amazing!

SHLD: Well, thank you for a very interesting interview, Misha.  Best of luck the rest of the season!

MP: Thank you.  It is fun to be interviewed!