Get to Know the Staff: Chris Schornack

Last season we started an interview series and never quite finished it. Fortunately, a lot of the staff is still the same, so we’re starting it up again by chatting with equipment manager, Chris Schornack! (If you missed last year’s talk with Head Coach and General Manager Tim Branham, here’s the link!)


 

Namiko Hitotsubashi: How did you first get into hockey?

Chris Schornack: I originally got into hockey as a stick boy, back in Michigan in the United Hockey League, just kind of asked to help out, and one thing led to another, and ended up working for them for two years.

NH: So how did you initially become interested in being an equipment manager? Was it kind of a natural progression from stick boy?

CS: Yeah, I guess! I kind of did it, then fell in love with the atmosphere, and working on the stuff. I dunno, I guess it’s a tough question to answer cause you just kinda, one day you’re like ‘oh wow, I’m doing this now!’ I would definitely say it rooted from that, just kinda being around it, I like the atmosphere, I like being on the other side of the game, just overseeing it opposed to having a huge impact in it.

NH: What’s your average workday like? People know what goes on on the ice but don’t necessarily know what goes on behind the scenes.

CS: I usually get in around 6:45-7:15 just depending what’s going on. I try to get everything done the night before. Come in in the morning, get a workout in with Snatch, have a coffee and head to our daily 8 am staff game. When that gets done I head back to the locker room where Kevin Carr and I play a best of three of ping pong. After that it’s odds and ends in the office with music on, music is always on. Like I said, try to get everything done, cause there’s usually something that pops up last minute. Best case scenario, nothing pops up, you can enjoy your coffee and talk about whatever happened the day before!

NH: Elaborating on that, during a game, what are your duties generally?

CS: Generally during the games, it’s kind of when it slows down. In a way, everything is preparation before the game, like making sure all the skates are sharpened, as well as their second set of steel is ready to go on the bench. Doing any repairs that came up during pregame skate. Doing the visitors laundry from morning skate (that’s usually Mason), folding towels and other little stuff. So it’s stuff like that, and then during the game it’s more so watching the play and watching and listening for certain things within a game — if a guy falls behind the play, how he’s getting back up, if he has an issue with something on the bench, you help out, a big hit, you want to make sure his visor is still tight, guy blocks a shot, how did the stick sound when it hit it. Being ready for guys taking a face-off to break a stick, stuff like that. Once you get used to your players you can pick up and predict when something is wrong or needs to be assisted with.

NH: What’s the craziest equipment related mishap or adventure that you’ve ever had to deal with?

CS: We had a player with an ankle related issue. I had to cut out part of his skate and rebuild the outside of the boot so it was further out, about the size of half a tennis ball. He hadn’t been able to play for a few weeks, he was able to return to the line up, always a good thing when that happens!

NH: Do you have a favorite part of your job?

CS: I’d say it’s the everyday interaction with the guys along with being in a locker room atmosphere everyday. In my opinion its one of the best places to be, besides on the beach with a Corona!

NH: Did you play hockey?

CS: Yes. Played my youth/high school hockey out of Fraser, MI. Played ACHA at Adrian College. Now just occasional men’s league.

NH: So when you were playing, did you have a favourite place to play?

CS: Our rival was always Davenport, another Michigan college. We played them a lot, as well as in National Championships one year. So it was just kind of the rivalry going back and forth. I’d say probably not necessarily their place, but playing them in general, them and Hope College we played a lot too, and that was always a good rivalry.

NH: You’ve worked a bunch of places other than here, what was your favourite location to work? You can say other places, we won’t judge you for it!

CS: You know what, to be honest with you, Amarillo. I worked there the year before last in Texas. The people were great. The lifestyle was not really up my alley, but the people made it great. I had a great management there, the assistant coach and their family took me in as one of their own, the Sutters, they were great people, and Rick Mattchett their GM there, they were great. It was fun to be there. I don’t know if I’d retire there, I told them that all the time, as a Michigan boy, but I love Utah. Coming here, just the hiking, skiing, stuff like that, I fell in love with it right away.

NH: Do you have a favourite part of being here?

CS: So many great things. My girlfriend, Laurel, her and her family are from here so it’s nice having a home away from home. They are awesome and have made me feel like family from day one. If I had to pick one, it would be downtown Main Street in Park City – summer or winter. All the shops, restaurants, bars, just the whole atmosphere is awesome.

NH: Do you have a favourite NHL team?

CS: I’ve gotta be biased, I guess, to the Red Wings. Growing up there, going to the Joe with my dad as a kid, those are memories I will never forget. I was very lucky being able to be from Michigan, going to the Joe with my dad watching those Wings’ teams during the 96-97, 97-98 and even the 01-02 teams. Beyond spoiled to grow up with that going on around me.

NH: Do you have a favourite hockey story?

CS: Nothing really crazy, however, I do remember a time when I was in Amarillo two seasons ago we had a trade with the team we were playing against that night. So after pregame skate, the trade was made and he was sent down the hall to our locker room and played with us/against his own team that night!

NH: Thanks for doing this, Chris!

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography and staff.


 

If you like the work I do on the blog, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee by clicking the button below, or consider becoming a patron!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Utah Grizzlies @ Rapid City Rush: A Slight Improvement

On Saturday night the Grizzlies looked to Kevin Carr to out-goalie Adam Carlson, and Grayson Downing, after returning to the lineup on Friday, once again was a scratch.

First Period

  • Good possession for the Grizzlies in the first four minutes or so.
  • Good possession continues. No whistles either. Utah has the only shot seven minutes or so in.
  • Utah’s definitely dominating possession right now (and shots, which are 5-0 half-way through the first).
  • Liam Bilton gets the first Rush shot of the game, but Carr calmly bats it aside.
  • No rust on Carrsy, that’s for sure. (Not that he’s really been tested so far either though.)
  • The Devils comparison Tyson made the other night is quite apt. Serious shut-down hockey with great goaltending. Effective, but boring.
  • Ryan Walters with some wheels on that PK!
  • COLE ULLY MAKES SURE WE WON’T BE SHUT OUT TONIGHT, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.
  • OH boo. Carlson isn’t perfect tonight, and neither is our penalty kill. Tie game.
  • Good possession on this power play.
  • 1-1 after 20, shots 8-5 for the boys.

Second Period

  • Well, that was a very, very scrambly first shift!! gulp
  • Well, after that scrambly beginning, the Grizzlies have had some good shots.
  • I don’t think Carlson knew where that puck went.
  • Either he’s having an off night, or the Grizzlies have succeeded in making him look human finally.
  • Verpaelst with a thunderous hit on the power play there.
  • Carlson really is looking mortal this evening. He’s still really good, but he’s not absolutely flawless and unflappable like he was the previous two games.
  • Oh my goodness, Kevin.
  • Jake Marchment is so strong on his skates.
  • Turner Ottenbreit absolutely FLYING over there.
  • HUGE save by Carr. He’s been so good tonight.

  • 17-15 are the shots for Utah in this tied game.

Third Period

  • Two minutes to Rapid City for making us sit through Baby Shark during intermission.
  • Good hustle there by Ully to bale out Richart after his stick broke!
  • Carr gets tripped up behind his own net, and Ottenbreit and Verpaelst are deeply unamused.
  • The puck is seriously bouncing in the Utah zone, and it’s nerve-wracking.
  • Raats takes a huge hit to the head, and the Grizzlies are off to a five minute power play. Klotz gets shown the gate.
  • Turner, you’re supposed to put the puck in the net, not yourself!
  • TAAAAAAAYLORRRRRR 2-1 ON THE POWER PLAY!!
  • Oh, never mind, Marchment deflected it, but STILL.
  • Goodness. Not sure how Kevin or the defenseman got over in time to take away the WIDE open net there.
  • Utah’s got fewer shots tonight, but they’ve definitely put them to better use.
  • Oh no. Economos to the box for tripping. It wasn’t a great call either.
  • Absolute mayhem around the net, and the puck gets put past Carr with 13 seconds left. No one is happy. (Well, the Rush are, but that’s besides the point.)

OT

  • Carlson has gone back to god mode. Ully and Verpaelst with a pair of nice shots there.
  • I don’t know how Verpaelst managed to hold onto the puck and keep it in the zone.
  • Youch. Rush player blocked that Ottenbreit shot with his face!

SO

  • Have I mentioned recently how much I HATE the shoot out??
  • Rush win 3-2 in the skills competition.

 

Goals

  • First Period: Ully (Herbert, Ottenbreit)
  • Second Period: None
  • Third Period: Marchment (Richart, Herbert) (PP)

UTA: 1/8 (10 PIM)
RC: 2/5 (22 PIM)

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


If you like the work I do on the blog, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee by clicking the button below, or consider becoming a patron!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Utah Grizzlies @ Rapid City Rush: Deja Vu

Though they lost Josh Dickinson to Colorado, the return of Grayson Downing and Joey Raats to the lineup meant that, for the first time in a very, very long time, the Grizzlies played with a full complement of skaters, while Joe Cannata got the start once more against a very different looking Rush team.

First Period

  • Utah draws a power play 1:18 into the game.
  • Mike Economos has three of the Grizzlies’ first seven shots!
  • Just past the five minute mark, and Utah’s out-shooting RC 9-3.
  • Well, if you’re gonna beat Adam Carlson, you might as well throw everything and the kitchen sink at him! 12-4 are shots for Utah nine minutes in…
  • Gage Ausmus with a couple of nice shots this period.
  • The game’s already getting pretty physical.
  • Teigan Zahn gets run over, and Utah’s headed back to the power play.
  • Five-on-three situation for 15 seconds as RC puts the puck over the glass.
  • Caleb Herbert negates the power play.
  • Generally good possession for Utah throughout this frame.
  • Cannata looking sharp again.
  • Utah skated fast and put up a lot of shots, but we’re 0-0 after 20. Shots are 16-7 for Utah.

Second Period

  • Eric Freschi to the box for slashing early in the second.
  • Downing, Herbert, Marchment, Ully and Richart on the power play. That is a pretty good looking first unit.
  • Economos is battling for the puck around Carlson, and Blake Heinrich objects. They both get five for fighting.
  • Oh boo. Point blank range shot goes through Cannata.
  • Utah skating hard in response though.
  • Ausmus gets run over, and Will Smith objects violently. He and Alex Rauter get sent to the box for fighting. Rauter is shown the door. But somehow Smith gets an extra two. Unless Rauter got bloody or something? Not really sure.
  • Power play for Utah now. From the last ten seconds or so of the first penalty kill to now the Grizzlies have had possession of the puck. They still haven’t been able to beat Carlson though.
  • How were the Grizzlies considered onside there?
  • Utah keeps getting shots, but Carlson isn’t having any trouble with them.
  • Well, the good news is that Utah has more shots after 40 than they did in the whole game on Wednesday, but the bad news is they trail 1-0.

Third Period

  • Ok someone, anyone, in black…gonna need a big goal here…
  • For a penalty kill, the Grizzlies are spending a lot of time in the offensive zone.
  • The only shots on that kill belonged to the Grizzlies.
  • Seriously guys, don’t lose 1-0 again. (Don’t lose by more than that either…)
  • There’s a lot of time, and it’s just one goal…
  • Cannata still sharp. Unfortunately, Carlson has been sharper.
  • Marchment jumps on a rare rebound, but surprise, surprise, Carlson grabbed that too.
  • …That is very not what anyone wanted. 2-0 Rush. On a bounce too.
  • They’ve had the right idea a couple of times, but then just missed the pass or the shot. So frustrating.
  • Empty net goal for the Rush.
  • The most irritating thing about this series is that the difference has been in net, and it’s not because Cannata had been bad. He hasn’t. In fact, he’s been good. Carlson’s  just been better.
  • Shots 41-25 for Utah, who falls 3-0 shut out for two straight.

Well, Downing is back, and the Grizzlies’ penalty kill remains spotless. Unfortunately, the power play has been held off the scoreboard, and Carlson appears to have the Grizzlies’ number. They’re gonna have to create more traffic and get him moving, but RC seems to defend pretty well against just that.

FORTY ONE SHOTS.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


If you like the work I do on the blog, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee by clicking the button below, or consider becoming a patron!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

 

Utah Grizzlies @ Rapid City Rush: Uneventful

On Wednesday night, the Grizzlies found themselves facing the Rush for the ninth time this season, and the first of six straight games with something resembling a full lineup. Although they didn’t get Grayson Downing back, and Joey Raats was out with an illness both players traveled with the team, and they did get Jake Marchment back. Gabriel Verpaelst made his 2019 return to the Grizzlies as well, while Joe Cannata got the start.

First Period

  • Rush have the Grizz not quite on their heels, but RC has the first four shots.
  • Cannata has been quite sharp though.
  • Marchment gets the first shot for Utah, and it’s a nice one. Unfortunately, Adam Carlson is a good goalie.
  • First penalty of the game for Utah. Let’s see if they can keep their penalty kill streak going.
  • And again…
  • Better possession following that second penalty kill. Still only three shots though.
  • Great defensive move by Turner Ottenbreit to break up a one-on-none without taking a penalty.
  • Too much defensive zone time…lots of hitting on both sides though.
  • 9-3 are shots for RC after a scoreless first period. Cannata’s been good.

Second Period

  • You know who I miss? Austin Carroll. #ChaosOnSkates (Well, him and everyone else who’s been out for half a century.)
  • Dickinson wastes absolutely no time getting the Grizzlies’ first shot of the second. (Actually, Chris Leibinger won the face-off so hard it counted as a shot on his own net. Where have we heard this before…)
  • Not only is defenseman Leibinger playing forward, he’s playing center. How interesting.
  • Good offensive zone shifts for the Grizzlies to start here.
  • Can’t wait for the skills competition to see what that booming shot of Ottenbreit’s clocks in at.
  • Shots are now 11-10 for RC, and Gage Ausmus draws a power play by taking a stick to the face.
  • Take two on the power play is not going very well to start…
  • Shots are now 11-11, so that’s good.
  • This second period is much better for Utah than the first. Unfortunately, Carlson has been every bit as good as Cannata.
  • Watching Caleb Herbert stick-handle is mesmerizing.
  • Refs are definitely letting both sides play through what should probably have been penalties. At least they’re being consistent–which at the end of the day is all you can really ask for.
  • Please someone in white score a goal…
  • This game is gonna end 1-0 in the shoot out, isn’t it.
  • You guys…I said someone wearing white
  • 1-0 Rapid City after two.

Third Period

  • Please go play on the other end of the ice, boys.
  • Everyone falls down. Utah draws a power play though. I think that is the second penalty Eric Freschi has drawn this game.
  • Herbert gets hooked on what was nearly a breakaway, so they’re headed to the power play again.
  • This is definitely one of their better power plays tonight. No goal though.
  • Please someone tie this game up.
  • This game is turning into a bit of a track meet. Lots of up and down and up and down.
  • Some big hits from the Utah defensemen this game!
  • Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout
  • Not a lot of whistles this period. Lots of hard skating too.
  • Gah! Oh thank you, post.
  • It’s just one goal, but time is starting to run out…
  • Well, I guess we’re gonna close this game out radio style seeing as we’ve got a black screen…
  • Utah’s net is empty.
  • Well, no empty netter for RC, but no tie game for Utah either.
  • Grizzlies fall 1-0 in what might be the lowest scoring (and possibly most uneventful) game all season.

At the end of the day, both teams played strong defensive games, and Adam Carlson was just that one save better. It was good to get Marchment back, and Verpaelst looked very good on defense, which is certainly a good sign. Neither team gave up anything on the penalty kill (Utah is now 33/33 in the last six games), and the coming games should be good ones.

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.

 


If you like the work I do on the blog, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee by clicking the button below, or consider becoming a patron!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

 

Grizzlies vs Mariners: Righting the Ship

With Ryan Walters suspended for one game, and Gabriel Verpaelst not yet in town, the Grizzlies found themselves with only thirteen players once again. Joe Cannata got the start on Marvel night, as the Grizzlies took on Maine on Marvel Night, dressed as Captain America and Iron Man respectively.

First Period

  • Grizzlies are pressuring hard early, and the jerseys look really, really good.
  • The Ully special, stick handling with zero room.
  • I do not know how the Grizzlies kept the puck out of the net on that shift.
  • Five-on-three number one of the night…
  • Good kill boys, good kill!
  • Aaaaand back to the box we go.
  • Taylor, don’t you dare be hurt…
  • WILL SMITH FROM TAYLOR RICHART AND MITCH MAXWELL!!
  • Cannata is looking very sharp tonight.
  • Shots are 15-9 after one for Maine, but the Grizz still lead 1-0.

Second Period

  • Uhg tie game.
  • Cannata was playing so well, and suddenly two quick goals for Maine.
  • Good push-back though.
  • The things that Cole Ully can do with zero space are remarkable. And I know I remark on them every time, but it’s worth it.
  • Joey Raats did not miss by much on that one!
  • That was a very strong shift.
  • There’s still a LOT of hockey to play, but the Grizzlies really don’t look like a team playing horrifically short-handed.
  • HERBERT TIES IT UP AGAIN ON THE POWER PLAY. What a move through traffic to get the shot for his 29th!!

  • Teigan Zahn boards Josh Couturier and gets five and a game. Just what this short-handed team needed.
  • Richart draws two power plays in a row!
  • Fox to the box.
  • CANNATA STONES A GUY ON A ONE-ON-NONE SHORT-HANDED BREAKAWAY.
  • 2-2 after 40, shots 23-22 for Maine.

Third Period

  • Third period begins on a brief power play.
  • Good energy in the third.
  • Ack. Wraparound goal for Maine
  • ULLY TIES IT UP ON THE POWER PLAY.
  • Both teams are buzzing.
  • oH. MY. GOD. JOE. Two huge saves two-on-none, and then another for good measure!!
  • Turner Ottenbreit rings iron, and Michael Economos draws a power play!
  • Gage Ausmus with a bomb, but it’s wide.
  • LOTS of offensive zone time for the Grizzlies this period.
  • Oh man. ten seconds left, offensive zone draw for Utah. Can they do it?
  • Nope.

OT

  • JOSH DICKINSON WINS IT IN OT.
  • Oh and it was super pretty too.

Ully and Herbert once again were named first and second star with a goal and an assist, while Josh Dickinson’s OT heroics earned him third star of the game. Taylor Richart put up three primary assists, and was named the defenseman of the game, while Cannata saved 32/35. Utah was a perfect 0/6 on the penalty kill in the game, and closed out the series against the Mariners without allowing a single power play goal. Herbert led the team with six shots, while Ottenbreit, Ully, and Economos were close behind with five each.

“We played four guys short for the majority of the game.” Tim Branham said after the game. “There’s a lot of character in that room, a lot of heart and soul.”

“Can’t say enough about the job these guys have done in that locker room.” He added later, “Sticking together, I don’t know how many penalties we killed again tonight, it’s pretty remarkable what they’ve done. Joe was outstanding in net, did a great job, made some huge saves, gave us a chance to win. Our power play is excellent again, special teams have really led the way for us this season, despite who we’ve had in the lineup. Really proud of this group.”

As well as the Grizzlies have played short-handed, it’s not a situation that anyone relishes. Fortunately, it sounds like reinforcements are on their way.

“Finally next week now we’re gonna start to get some bodies back. We’ll add Verpaelst, we’ll get Marchment, we’ll get Downing. Then the following week we’ll be able to add Carroll, we’ll be able to add Ratelle.”

Cannata had a pretty good game on Friday, but was even better on Saturday, and received a fair bit of praise as a result.

“I think Joe’s played some good hockey,” said Branham, “He’s made some big saves for us. Today was no different. There was a stretch there in the third, he made three saves right in a row at the end there. He’s been there before, he knows how to get the job done. Being able to add a guy like Verpaelst, who’s been there before, knows how to get the job done, Zahn, you can’t say enough about experience and guys who have been through the grind. I think Joe has done a remarkable job, a great job this season.”

Josh Dickinson’s thoughts on Cannata’s contribution to the win were similar.

“When we’re down in a game and you’ve got a goalie who’s playing like that, it’s so inspiring. Every game it comes from the back end out, and when your goalie’s making cross-crease saves back-to-back-to-back, you just want to win it for him too. It’s so nice to have him back there, and Carrsy’s great too, so we always wanna win it for our goalies as well.”

As mentioned, the Grizzlies were quite short handed to begin with, and then lost Zahn half-way through the second period. However, the remaining four defensemen buckled down and made it work.

“Our young guys have played some big minutes.” Branham said. “You look at Anderson, you look at Ottenbreit coming in from major junior, it’s a big step, and they’ve played big minutes and done an unbelievable job. They played big minutes, but also a lot of hockey, and it’s great experience for them. Then you’ve got guys like Ausmus and Richart. One thing’s for sure, when the going gets tough with this group, they respond. I know we were on a little bit of a skid there, but it’s a lot of adversity, and hopefully now there’s light there at the end of the tunnel with Ully back and Marchment and Downing and Verpaelst. We gotta get on a roll now.”

When asked about his OT game winner, Dickinson was pretty matter of fact.

“Yeah, I just had the time going down the wall, and I think it was a forward covering me on defense, so I saw he kind of lunged for the puck a little bit, so I just brought the puck to my backhand, and hoped for the best and shot it!”

Branham was a bit more effusive in his praise when asked about Dickinson’s play, both tonight and this series in general. “This weekend was phenomenal for Dickinson. He’s playing with an edge, his skills, you can see his skills out there, the skill level that he has, scoring goals, great attitude, he played a lot of hockey, he played every other shift tonight, him and Herbert, so good for them, and hopefully he can just keep that going”

Both Dickinson and Branham emphasized the need to keep the momentum going as they get more bodies back in the lineup and head out on the road, where they hope to keep the wins coming against Rapid City.

Goals

  • First: Smith (Richart, Maxwell)
  • Second: Herbert (Richart, Ully (PP)
  • Third: Ully (Richart, Herbert) (PP)
  • OT: Dickinson (Ottenbreit)

UTA: 2/7 (25 PIM)
MNE: 0/6 (16 PIM)

 

Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography.


If you like the work I do on the blog, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee, or consider becoming a patron!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com