Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bonus bets and new twists add to Blackjack fun

Casino table game managers are always looking for new games to put on the floor to keep players interested and coming back for more. One way of doing this is to provide a variety of Blackjack games to choose from. These might include single deck, double deck, pitch, or any number of “carnival” games like Spanish 21. Another way to customize a Blackjack game is by adding a “bonus” betting option.

Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan has added two new blackjack games that players may want to check out the next time they are in the Michiana region looking for some action. The first new bet is called “Lucky Lucky Blackjack Bonus.” This optional side bet is in addition to the normal Blackjack wager. If it hits, patrons can win up to 200 times their main wager. Side bets start at $1 and max out at $25. To win, the first two cards dealt must be included in the pay matrix displayed at the table.

The second Blackjack innovation at Four Winds is the “Blackjack Switch.” At this table, each person plays two hands with an identical bet on each. The player has the option of keeping the two hands as dealt, or they can switch the second card between the two hands to make a better hand on one or both of the sets. You’re even allowed splits and double-downs after the switch, which can make these hands even more valuable. Blackjacks aren’t paid out at 2:1 like multi-deck shoe-dealt games, though. Instead, they pay even money. Another change from the standard game is a “Push 22,” which means the dealer gets a push if he draws to a total of exactly 22. Blackjack Switch also features the optional “Super Match Bonus Bet,” with multiple payouts. To win, get a pair, two pair, three, or four-of-a-kind from any of the four initial cards dealt.

The odds on bonus bets can be pretty long, but not so long that you shouldn’t play at least the minimum amount just to keep in on the action. The lower odds awards hit more often, and while they don’t offer the big 200 time payout, they may provide enough of an incentive to keep the game fun, especially if you are bored of traditional Blackjack. For Blackjack variants like the Blackjack Switch, the payouts are a little lower and the house gets more edge from the 22 Push, but players gain an edge by having the ability to switch cards, so it may amount to a wash as far as house advantage goes compared to traditional Blackjack odds. For seasoned players, these bonus bets and game variations can make the game of Blackjack a lot more fun and interesting, and can help to break an experienced player out of a rut, so don’t overlook them when checking out the action at Michigan or Illinois casinos.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cache Creek shares fans with ‘Raider Nation’

The Oakland Raiders began play in 1960 as the eighth charter member of the American Football League (AFL), where they won one championship and three division titles before joining the NFL in 1970 as part of the AFL–NFL merger. Since joining the NFL, the Raiders have won twelve division titles, three Super Bowls (XI, XV, XVIII), and have appeared in two other Super Bowls. Nineteen Raiders have been selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Owner Al Davis. Jerry Rice, who wore the Silver and Black from 2001-04 and played in Super Bowl XXXVII, is the latest.

Raider fans, affectionately dubbed “The Raider Nation” are arguably one of the most fervent, energetic and notable groups of fans in the entire NFL. Many of Cache Creek’s players are also fans of the team and have enjoyed the privilege of receiving tickets to home games as part of our rewards program for the last several years. The program will continue this fall. We’ll purchase 250 pairs of tickets for three home games to pass on to our guests. Qualified players can expect to see a postcard with more details as the season draws closer.

“The Raider tickets are offered as a thank you to some of our best players,” said Kent Donithan, Cache Creek’s VP of Casino Marketing. “They are one of the most sought after player rewards and go quickly when we offer them every year.”
Due to recent trades and acquisitions there will be a few new faces to watch on the field. “With some of the young players and the changes they’re making, this will be an exciting season,” said David Humm, former Raiders player and co-host of the Raider pre and post game radio show. “This season will have a completely different look and feel for fans. It’s as talented a pool of players as we’ve had in a long time.” And Humm would know, having played seven seasons with the Raiders in addition to stints with the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Colts in the 70s and 80s as quarterback, and earning two Super Bowl rings with the Raiders (Super bowls XI and XVIII).

“When you look at this year’s team, we’re strong at quarterback,” said Humm. “We have a quarterback with solid experience in Jason Campbell, and solid back-ups with Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye. We’re also strong at running back, with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush being backed up by Michael Bennett. This offense is really going to click.” Other players to watch, says Humm, are the solid draft pick Lemarr Houston and John Henderson on defense, as well as receivers Chaz Schilens and Darius Heyward-Bey, who are backing up Louis Murphy. Rolando McClain, Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves round out the team as stand-outs at linebacker. “All in all we’ve got some solid players, and we’re moving in the right direction with this group.”

The Raiders regular season begins Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. on the road against the Tennessee Titans, with the Raider Nation fired up from pre-season play already in progress. “There are no other fans like Raider fans,” says Humm. “They have a loyalty to the team, an emotion, and a passion you just don’t see with other teams.”
David Humm can be heard on the Oakland Raiders radio broadcast on 105.3 KITS FM and simulcast on KFRC-AM 1550.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Interview with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson

You recently were able to broker deals with both Pavelski and Marleau. Many thought that the organization would only be able to hold on to one or the other. How did you manage to make that work and how important are these deals moving forward?

“We have always tried to make San Jose a place that players want to come and play but at the same time, much of the credit goes to Patty and Pavs. I think they recognized what we have going here as a team and as an organization. History has shown that had these players gone to free agency, the marketplace would have been very friendly and kind to them. I can't say enough how much we truly appreciate them making this statement. This is where they want to be, and they believe in where we're going.

“Under a salary cap system, you can’t always keep everyone so with these players agreeing to deals that are not only fair to them but stay within the ‘team’ system we have built, it provides us a much better chance to keep the core of our team intact.”

How do you feel about the results of the recent draft?

“First off, I think we have the best scouting department in the game. These guys work their tails off year-round, watching players all over the world and it all comes down to those two days at the draft. We entered the draft this year with only four selections but by the end of it, we left with eight players. We think many of these kids have a real chance to be NHL players so we’re pretty happy with it. It’s always challenging when you’re drafting 18-year old kids and trying to project where they will be in three to four years but I have a lot of faith in the work our scouts do.”

What are you looking for out of this year's training camp? Which players should fans be watching as future stars or big contributors?

“Although our season ended a little too early last season, we still feel that our team and players took a huge step forward last season. And none of that will matter if we don’t build on that success this season. As always, our training camp will be competitive from Day 1. There are a few roster spots available and those will be earned on merit, not just handed to anyone.

“We are also excited about some of the young players that are coming through our system and may be ready to make an impact at the NHL level. Last year, we saw a good example of that with players like Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Jason Demers, Thomas Griess, Benn Ferriero, Frazer McLaren and John McCarthy helping the team at the NHL level. Those players are in the mix but you also have another layer of players fighting for those spots, like Alex Stalock, Cam MacIntyre, Tommy Wingels, Nick Petrecki, James Marcou, to name just a few. It should be an exciting camp.

“We also, for the first time in 10 seasons, will have a new goalie in camp in Antero Niittymaki. We think his style will fit well with our team and we like his history of playing big in big games, like playing for Finland at the 2006 Winter Olympics.”

What is your philosophy or set of goals for the team this season?

“Again, we want to build on the team’s successes from last season. We want to be able to go into any building play any style of hockey we need to in order to win games.”

How important is it for a team like the Sharks to open the season in Europe? How important is it for the NHL as a whole to schedule games in countries such as Sweden?

“Our trip to Sweden will be exciting for the organization. Hockey is the greatest game in the world and it truly is a global game. Many of the players in the NHL come from Europe so it’s important for the NHL to not only increase its global footprint but also to allow the great fans in Europe the opportunity to see their native players compete at the game’s highest level. We are really looking forward to it.”

Describe Sharks fans for me.

“Anyone who has ever been to a game at HP Pavilion knows that we have the greatest fans in the country. Within the past year, our building was selected as the having the “Ultimate Seat” of any sport franchise in the country by ESPN and NHL players voted HP Pavilion the toughest opponent building to play in. There can be no bigger tribute to our fans than that and it is because of the passion, noise and energy that they bring every single night. Our fans know and respect the game and our players. We’re very lucky to get to play for people who care so much about the franchise.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Social Media and hockey a good match

Parental Guidance
(For California Rubber magazine)

It’s hard to open a newspaper or turn on the television these days without reading or hearing about Twitter, Facebook, or some other form of social media. The phenomenon continues to grow in popularity and many or our youth hockey players – as well as their parents – are becoming part of this ever growing community.

In the last few years, email has allowed team managers, coaches, and parents to disseminate information about team events, fundraisers, tournaments, or schedule changes in a flash and keep everyone on the same page. The Internet took the whole concept of quick information exchange for youth hockey teams and leagues to the next level, allowing each team or club to have their own website complete with rosters, photos, and statistics for their youth players.

With the advent of web 2.0, even more is possible. There are blogs where people can report on their team’s latest activities and forums where scores can be posted. Forum members can also communicate with people from other teams or other leagues and share information. So Cal and Nor Cal can network with each other, and California hockey folks can meet East Coast or Midwest hockey parents.

I’ve seen some very productive forum topics on the hockey boards with some insightful questions and answers posted. Topics cover everything from coaching styles, advice about off-ice training and camps, as well as all of the latest (and sometimes very entertaining) gossip about local teams and leagues. It’s mostly in good fun and folks tend to stay respectful of each other. Once an interesting topic gets started, the comments begin to fly and you’ll find yourself being drawn to check on the forum every day to catch all of the latest postings. Who will be an A or a B team this year? What tournaments will teams attend? Which kids are playing where? All of this information eventually makes it to the forums.

Facebook is another fantastic social media tool for parents of youth hockey players. We’ve been able to keep up with our friends playing for teams back in Michigan, as well as friends at other clubs in California. On game days, we text each other with scores and share our success stories. We also share video files on web sites like You Tube. My son and I even have our own You Tube show called “Hecka Hockey.”

Social media has allowed the hockey community to become an even tighter knit group in California, and has proven helpful for both parents and coaches. I encourage all of you to explore the web and to see what’s out there. If you’re on a social networking site like Facebook already, see if there are any hockey related pages you can become a fan of like Rubber Magazine. You could even ask your association if you can start a page for your team. The more we can network with each other and share, the more we can help to grow the sport of hockey on the west coast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Youth hockey is a constant learning process

Parental Guidance
By Cean Burgeson
for California Rubber Magazine

As hockey parents with a son entering his sixth year of playing, I can safely say my wife and I have evolved from “greenhorns” into fairly educated hockey folk with experience in four hockey associations covering two different states. As such, there are opinions we hold now that are very different from when my son was in learn to play hockey, mini-mites, mites, and squirts. Now that those days are behind us, we have the benefit of time and experience. Each year we learn a few new things and change our perception of what hockey means to us and our son, as well as how we approach the sport. That’s one of the exciting aspects of youth hockey – it always seems to present something new for the families who become involved with the sport.

With the benefit of this hockey hindsight, there are two topics I wrote about last year that I’d like to re-address, as my opinions and insights have sharpened a bit over the course of the last year. The first topic is changing hockey programs. At the younger levels of hockey, it seemed to me that changing programs didn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you can keep the same group of players together year after year, hockey associations and programs benefit, and the development of each individual player and their team performance overall increases. This opinion has not changed.

That being said, I feel the need to add one small addendum. Every hockey program has their own distinct offerings which differentiate them. Some programs are run by rinks, while others are run by associations. Some field teams at every level, while others do not. Because of these types of differences, you may find yourself changing teams more than once during the course of your player’s hockey career. There are also factors such as program cost, rink distance, the ability to play up a level, and whether or not the player actually makes a given team. All of these affect where your player laces up for the season.

The second topic is the ability to play up a level. I said in my previous column that I don’t think kids should play up unless it’s an exceptional case. I still believe that is true. However, I’ve modified my opinion a little. I’ve found there are times when it just makes good sense to move a player up if they are performing well enough to do so or if a team is having trouble fielding the required number of players without moving someone up. I must add that this determination should not be made by parents, but by the coaches.

I think it’s valuable to reassess the hockey experience each year. One of the great things about youth hockey is that not only are the kids constantly learning new things, but so are the parents. I encourage all of you to look for ways to improve your own “hockey IQs” this season along with your player.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The many hats of a hockey parent

Parental Guidance
for California Rubber Magazine

Hockey parents fulfill many roles for their youth athlete. First and foremost, we are parents; nurturing our children and making decisions that are in their best interests. These decisions include which teams our kids should play on, how we’ll get them to practices and games, and how we’ll pay for their season, equipment, tournaments, and other hockey related expenses. At times, it seems like chauffer and financier are the only roles we play in our hockey players’ lives. But don’t underestimate your influence.

Some parents are also coaches or assistant coaches. With this comes the added responsibility of the welfare and development of not only our own player, but an entire team full of other players. But even if you don’t coach your son or daughter’s team, there’s a good chance you’re coaching your child at home, by playing street or inline hockey and going to sticks and pucks sessions. This type of involvement has an incredibly large impact on your child’s growth and abilities as a hockey player.

Another hat we wear as hockey parents is that of trainer. We have to make sure our athletes get enough sleep, eat the right foods, and stay healthy. Part of this may involve helping a child recover from an injury by taking them to doctor’s appointments and supervising rehab exercises. And after the healing process is over, taking the proper steps to prevent further injuries.

An additional role that all hockey parents fulfill but may not think about is that of sports psychologist, especially with younger athletes. We have to keep them mentally prepared and prop them up a bit when they get cut from a team, take a tough loss, or perhaps don’t perform on the ice as well as they had hoped. Goalie parents are probably the best amateur sports psychologists on the planet.

We are also agents, managers, and public relations staff. I’m not saying we should be grooming our kids for the NHL. I’m talking about being an advocate for your young athlete. This means being involved with their development in an active and constructive way by maintaining a good relationship with the coaching staff.

This doesn’t mean arguing ice time or telling the coaches how much better your kid is than the rest of the team. Instead, carefully watch their development and pursue a healthy dialogue with the coaches as to what your player needs to work on in order to develop most effectively. And lastly, we are public relations specialists, sending out relentless emails, Facebook postings and pictures to grandparents, friends and family members, probably to the point that they think we’re mad for spending so much time on hockey. It’s great, isn’t it?

So, as we set out on yet another hockey season, I’d like each one of you to pat yourselves on the backs for successfully wearing all of these hats during the course of this season. You deserve it, and probably don’t get praised enough for all that you do.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Loose slots

For Destination Cache Creek Magazine

You see it on casino billboards or hear it during radio commercials: “We have the loosest slots!”

But what does that really mean?

“Loose slots refers to how much time or entertainment value you get out of your dollar,” says Russell Kinney, Cache Creek Casino Resort’s Vice President of Slots. “It’s really about the amount of time you’re able to spend on a machine and how much payback there is from a machine to a guest.” Players can play $100 in a casino and play for maybe a half hour, but the same $100 in another casino might net them over an hour’s worth of play. “In the second case you’re getting more paybacks and more value,” says Kinney.

How far slot players can stretch their gaming dollar is an important factor in having a good experience at a casino and is given a lot of thought by Cache Creek’s slot management team. “When we opened this casino we wanted to have a very competitive payback,” says Kinney. “We know when guests come out here they want to be able to play longer on the machines and have more entertainment. Part of that comes from offering Bonus Play. When players come here with a set budget, their ability to play more is increased by the amount of Bonus Play we give them. Through our direct mail offers we give away millions of dollars of this free play every month.”

Kinney also likes to remind players that they earn points for playing with their Cache Club cards, which adds to the entertainment value of slot play. “We have one of the most competitive point programs in California. With those points you can get food, hotel rooms, rounds of golf, spa treatments, or one of our new gift cards.”

Some players think that casinos are constantly “tightening” or “loosening” their slots, but Kinney says this is a common misconception. What slot experts and experienced players consider “loose” when referring to slot machines involves a number of different considerations that go far beyond the set payout percentage for each machine.

“Loose slots are more about the total slot experience,” says Kinney. “For instance, we offer slot value in a number of other ways. Another way is through our promotions, which are almost always running. So the total slot experience comes from a combination of factors including payback to the guest, amount of time spent playing a machine, bonus play, points, and promotions. All of these contribute to the total entertainment value that our guests are looking for when they come to Cache Creek.”

So when all of these factors are taken into consideration, Cache Creek really does have the “loosest” slots in Northern California.

Planning for next hockey season

Parental Guidance with CEAN BURGESON
for California Rubber Magazine

Whether you’re involved in a summer hockey program or you’re done playing until next season, the thought still looms above our collective hockey parent heads: What will we do next fall? Every year, players migrate into other sports, drop out, or move from one hockey program to another. There are a number of different reasons these things happen.

What if your rink only has an “A” team and your son or daughter doesn’t make the cut? Or transversely, what if your association only fields a “B” team and you want your player to skate on an “A” team? These are the kinds of dilemmas that give hockey parents critical levels of heartburn. Kids face the possibility of leaving the friends they’ve made, facing the hurt of missing a cut, or possibly moving out of hockey altogether. Or parents are left with the decision between playing their child down or up a level. Each avenue carries its own set of additional issues. It can be enough to drive a hockey parent mad.

These decisions should be solely dependant on one factor: Skill Based Hockey. What I mean by this is doing the best we can as hockey associations, coaches, and parents to place our youth athletes on teams that properly fit their playing style, ability, and skill level, while offering the greatest chance for player growth. This means putting “A” players on “A” teams and “B” players on “B” teams, or keeping a house player on a house team for another year to give them a little more seasoning before going on to play travel hockey.

Using and reinforcing the skill based hockey model in every association in the state of California is the best way for youth players to get the most out of their hockey experience and creates the least amount of grief for both the parent -- and most importantly -- the player. Please keep this in mind when making plans for tryouts this July to assure that all of our players have the most fun and fruitful season possible next year.

Jets Squirt B’s finish amazing season, advance to state finals

for California Rubber Magazine

VACAVILLE, Calif. – The Vacaville Jets Squirt B squad did everything they were asked to do and more this season. For starters, they lost only a single game during league play and finished with a record of 17-1. They also went on to win four California tournaments including the Pacific Regional of the International Silver Stick competition, which earned them a spot in the championship tournament in Pelham, Ontario, Canada. Despite playing against more experienced teams with deeper rosters in that Canadian contest (the Jets have only 12 players including their goalie), they still managed to finish within the top four. And to win their own home tournament, the MLK I-80 Classic in February, they had to tie or beat two Squirt A teams to earn the first place trophy.

The Jets also finished in first place in NorCal, winning all of the games in the playoff tournament, earning them the right to travel to Escondido and play the best Squirt B teams in the state. There, they finished third in California behind the Anaheim Jr. Kings and Bakersfield Dragons. This was the second season in a row the team has made the trip to the state finals.

Overall, during the regular season they put up some amazing statistics: 160 goals for with only 25 goals against, and a winning percentage of .944, leading the league in all categories. These figures don’t include any of the totals they racked up from the six tournaments they played in, either.

“All in all, this was an incredible season for the Squirt B’s,” said Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “Whether these players are moving on to play Pee Wee or staying at the Squirt level, we can’t wait to see how they all do next year.”

Friday, May 01, 2009

Choosing how to spend the off season

Parental Guidance
For California Rubber Magazine

From October until March hockey dominates the households of thousands of families across California -- but what about the other six months out of the year?

There are a number of ways to spend the off season. Some players take the entire time off. For skaters who need to work on their skills, though, this can be detrimental. On the flip side, for those experiencing “hockey burnout,” it can be a beneficial experience to take a break from hockey and return in the fall fresh.

After all, there are other sports to participate in that can help to improve hockey athleticism, endurance, flexibility, and stamina such as baseball, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics, biking, running, or swimming. The benefit of cross training in other sports has been scientifically proven and the model of engaging in a variety of sporting activities in the off season has been used by European hockey clubs for years.

For those die hard players who aren’t interested in any sport but hockey, there are also inline teams which allow kids to continue working on their strength, skating, shooting and stick handling, and of course summer ice hockey teams, which practice less frequently and travel to just a handful of tournaments over the course of the summer. The value of these teams is that they are generally more competitive, have stricter tryouts, and can expose players to a high level of play, all the way up to AA or AAA.

Many of these tournaments are international in nature, allowing youngsters a chance to play teams outside of their region, state, or country. And, as in the case of my family, you can build your summer vacation around a tournament in a fun location such as Vancouver to get more for your hockey buck and infuse a little more fun into the trip.

Another popular way to keep the hockey fires burning in the off season is of course the hockey camp. California and the surrounding states have a number of good ones focusing on different skill sets. Evaluate your player or ask for an evaluation from your coach about which type of camp would best benefit your child.

We all have our own reasons for choosing how we want to spend our summers and whether hockey is a part of it. The most important factors to take into account when making the decision depend on the skill level of the player, their desire to play, and what their goals are for the coming season. No matter how your youth hockey player chooses to spend the summer, though, keep them working in some way to help get them to the next level.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reidar's hockey highlight reel

Here is a little something I whipped up really quick. It has Reidar's 98th, 99th, and 100th goal and a couple of other little bonus goals that I caught on tape. Enjoy...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Signs of the times

This morning, like many others, I stopped at the AM/PM to buy an energy drink on the way to work. What can I say? I have three kids, don't get enough sleep, and need a little boost. Let me have my one vice, okay?

But unlike other mornings I have performed this mundane task, today I noticed a collective theme - that of everyday people scraping along in this dismal economy. As I stepped out of my car I noticed a beat up van with the door smashed in pulling into a nearby parking space. The woman in the passenger seat had to use the window to get out of the car. I guess they didn't have the money to pay the insurance deductible to fix the inoperative door.

Then I went inside and a man was paying for $6 worth of gas. Not since my high school years when gas was less than a dollar a gallon had I seen someone buying such a small amount of fuel. That's fewer than 3 gallons of gas. How far can you go on that? The man was dressed in business attire, sans a tie. Probably a cubicle dweller somewhere in Sacramento, or maybe a government worker. He must have been down to his last couple of bucks before payday and needed just enough gas to eke by.

When my time at the cash register came, I had my own "slow economy" moment as I opened my wallet and found a single dollar in there. My wife isn't working right now and we've been squeezing every penny. I don't take out a lot of cash these days from the ATM and we try to economize whenever possible, so I just didn't realize how low I was on cash. Embarrassed that I came up short on my measly $2.50 purchase, I left my Rockstar Energy Drink on the counter and ran out to my car to scrape another $1.50 out of the dusty change bin in the center console of my car. Luckily, I had enough coin to complete my purchase, and the guy working the register was understanding.

But now I don't have even that single buck in my wallet. Guess I'll try to stretch for a few days without my morning energy drink fix. We've all got to make sacrifices these days. Perhaps I can find a coupon somewhere. At least I know from my observations this morning that I'm not the only one facing the crunch...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Putting all of the right pieces in place: An interview with Sacramento Kings’ Joe Maloof

By Cean Burgeson
(For Destination Cache Creek Magazine)

In nine years of ownership, Maloof Sports & Entertainment has guided the Sacramento Kings and ARCO Arena to unparalleled heights. Under the leadership of the Maloof family the Kings have made multiple NBA playoff appearances, recording 50-plus regular season victories five times, back-to-back Pacific Division titles in 2001-02 and 2002-03, and advancement to the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

Joe Maloof, president of the Maloof Companies, has found Cache Creek Casino Resort to be a good fit for his Kings as a marketing partner. “They have been with us for a long time and we are honored to have them as a Proud Partner of the Sacramento Kings,” said Maloof. “It’s our goal to provide the best fan experience, and Cache Creek helps us achieve that through their exciting and creative gifts and promotions, like the ‘Cache Creek Crew’ that gets our fans pumped up and throws out T-shirts throughout the game, and the Cache Creek/Kings-branded playing cards which they’ve given out as gifts at home games for the past three seasons. The team at Cache Creek has been tremendous for our organization to work with and they help add a lot of value for Kings fans,” said Maloof. “For example, I know fans love the ‘Cache Creek Question of the Game’ on our broadcasts. Everyone looks forward to seeing if Jerry Reynolds knows the answer.”

Never satisfied with the status quo, the Kings and Maloof Sports & Entertainment continue to explore ways to enhance the entertainment value to the nearly two million guests who enter through the ARCO Arena gateways annually. “At Maloof Sports & Entertainment, we want every experience for our customers to be the best – we want to have the best entertainment, the best dance team, the best food, the best lighting…everything should be the best for our fans,” said Maloof.

”We’re here to take care of people -- that’s what we do,” he added. “We cater to customers. In Sacramento, the fans are our customers and providing a great experience for them is our goal.” Because of this devotion to creating quality entertainment for their fans, the Kings have ranked first in the NBA for overall fan experience twice in league-wide surveys conducted by J.D. Powers and Associates, proving that the best way to enjoy watching the Kings is still at a live game.

“We have an exciting young team with a tremendous amount of talent,” said Maloof. “We beat the Lakers earlier this year at home so you can really see what this team is capable of. Geoff Petrie, our President of Basketball Operations, is working hard to put all the right pieces in place, and we are trying to make the games as accessible as possible for fans in Sacramento to come see this exciting young team play in person.”

“We doubled the number of $10 tickets for all our home games, and we have a lot of ticket packages available that feature added value. We also take a lot of pride in our in-game entertainment. This year we invested in a new lighting and video projection system, and we are the only team in the Western Conference that has it. We thought it was an example of something really special that would enhance the experience for our fans.”

Tapping into the excitement of the team is part of what makes Cache Creek’s partnership with the Kings so successful. “There’s a lot of excitement and an adrenaline rush in the crowd during a game at ARCO Arena,” said Cache Creek’s Vice President of Marketing Mike Leonard. “That’s the same type of experience our guests look for when they visit our resort, so it makes a lot of sense that we share some of the same audience. Cache Creek’s fans are Kings fans.”

For home game ticket information, surf to: or call: (916) 649-8497.

Golf course sculptures formed from the hands of a master artisan

(For Indian Gaming Magazine)

On the spacious patio at Cache Creek Casino Resort’s Yocha-De-He Golf Club sits a massive stone column with a majestic stone eagle perched on its top, adorned with 18 varieties of birds found throughout the surrounding Capay Valley. “When I created this, I was thinking about a really good game – 18 birdies for 18 holes,” jokes sculptor Doug Hyde, the Native American artist who created a group of statues to decorate the area surrounding the course’s new club house.

Made of limestone, which absorbs rather than reflects light, the large sculpture he described tells a story which sprung from Hyde’s imagination as he worked to create the piece on a ranch just down the road from Cache Creek. “As the day passes, each of these birds will stand out when the sun moves past them,” said Hyde.

It’s this attention to detail which makes the works of art come alive.

The experiences Hyde had while creating his art outside amongst the rolling hills of the valley contributed to the finished works as well. For instance, a rabbit that came almost daily to watch Hyde work was incorporated into the sculptures. Hyde playfully nicknamed the animal “Mulligan.”

“Every morning Mulligan would stand on the hill and watch me work,” said Hyde. “I had the opportunity to see a lot of other animals from the area up close too like deer, coyotes, eagles, wild turkey, and a bobcat – but luckily not the bears,” he joked.

In addition to the eagle, Hyde cut from pink Portuguese marble the figure of a deer being pursued by a pair of Native American hunters. The deer’s tracks are placed into the concrete in the clubhouse’s courtyard leading the stalkers to their prey. A playful bear cub and his mother watch the hunters and the dear nearby.

“The bears are placed right at the entrance,” said Hyde. Like the other sculptures, this one also tells a story. “The mother is turning over a log and looking for grubs,” he said, “and the baby is collecting pine cones, playing like a little kid.” A wasp’s nest on a stick sits across the cub’s lap. “He’s about to be in for a surprise,” said Hyde, who enjoys infusing a bit of humor into his art.

Other details are also evident in his highly stylized work, such as intricate leaves and foliage surrounding the animals, all cut carefully out of the stone in soft angles. In addition to an eye for detail, Hyde’s work displays a dedication to historical accuracy in his depiction of Native American people, in this case the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians. “In this piece you’ll see that the hunter gestures with his whole hand toward the deer,” said Hyde, “because Native American people don’t point with their finger. It’s bad manners.”

Hyde, who was born in Hermiston, Oregon of Native American descent, is influenced heavily by his heritage and takes pride in reflecting it through his work. “The Native American people are now trying to tell their own story. Sculpture is a really good way to do this because you can write the stories out and people might not read it -- but with sculpture they can actually see it.”

The inspiration for the grouping of sculptures Hyde created came from the history of the very valley where the Wintun people lived for thousands of years. To prepare himself, he walked the area with Tribal Chairman Marshall McKay and learned the Tribe’s history in the valley. “All of these kinds of things I thought about to get my ideas for the final pieces,” said Hyde.

Using this type of detailed historical background information, one sculpture features an authentic woven fish trap held by a woman in period dress. A child next to the woman holds a fish that was caught in the trap. Viewing the two figures evokes a feeling of traveling back in time to see the origins of the Tribe and their heritage in the region.

After months of hard work, each completed piece has been lovingly placed amongst the landscape surrounding Yocha-De-He’s clubhouse. When speaking to the artist, it’s easy to see that he’s very proud of how all of the finished pieces came together. His labors and his vision have come to full fruition. “To me, it’s a culmination of 40 years of sculpture to do a grouping like this,” said Hyde.

Yocha-De-He clubhouse a new ‘gateway’ to the course

(For Destination Cache Creek Magazine)

The long awaited clubhouse at Yocha-De-He Golf Club -- which completed construction in January - is the finishing touch on what is already considered the premiere golf course in the region. “We’re really looking forward to allowing the public into our new facility this spring,” said Cache Creek’s Director of Golf Daniel Kane.

The 17,951 square foot facility containing about 9,000 square feet of public space includes a 1,400 square foot restaurant, a snack bar, a large multi-function room, lounge, bar, and a private function area in addition to serving as a pro shop. “There’s also a private patio with a beautiful fireplace and a covered outdoor section,” said Kane. “And the lower patio has a fire pit. The open design -- utilizing glass doors -- encourages an indoor/outdoor experience.”

Situated on a hill, the structure offers a commanding elevated view of the entire course and stands where the front nine holes begin and the back nine ends. “We want the clubhouse to be another facet of a golfer’s enjoyment of the course,” Kane explains. “From the lounge, people will be able to see other golfers playing key parts of their round.”

Much of the design work dealt with fitting the clubhouse seamlessly into the course without detracting from its natural beauty. “There was a great deal of effort made to place functional aspects into the design along with visually stimulating features such as the Native American themed courtyard sculptures and a real working olive orchard,” said John Mikacich, Cache Creek’s Director of Development.

The management staff of Yocha-De-He is excited about the completion of the clubhouse and anticipates an extremely favorable response from players. “The new building will serve as a gateway to the golf course and will truly add to the ‘golf experience’ we’ve worked so hard to set up here at Yocha-De-He,” said Kane.

Choosing how to spend the off season

(For Rubber Magazine's Parental Guidance)

From October until March hockey dominates the households of thousands of families across California -- but what about the other six months out of the year?

There are a number of ways to spend the off season. Some players take the entire time off. For skaters who need to work on their skills, though, this can be detrimental. On the flip side, for those experiencing “hockey burnout,” it can be a beneficial experience to take a break from hockey and return in the fall fresh.

After all, there are other sports to participate in that can help to improve hockey athleticism, endurance, flexibility, and stamina such as baseball, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics, biking, running, or swimming. The benefit of cross training in other sports has been scientifically proven and the model of engaging in a variety of sporting activities in the off season has been used by European hockey clubs for years.

For those die hard players who aren’t interested in any sport but hockey, there are also inline teams which allow kids to continue working on their strength, skating, shooting and stick handling, and of course summer ice hockey teams, which practice less frequently and travel to just a handful of tournaments over the course of the summer. The value of these teams is that they are generally more competitive, have stricter tryouts, and can expose players to a high level of play, all the way up to AA or AAA.

Many of these tournaments are international in nature, allowing youngsters a chance to play teams outside of their region, state, or country. And, as in the case of my family, you can build your summer vacation around a tournament in a fun location such as Vancouver to get more for your hockey buck and infuse a little more fun into the trip.

Another popular way to keep the hockey fires burning in the off season is of course the hockey camp. California and the surrounding states have a number of good ones focusing on different skill sets. Evaluate your player or ask for an evaluation from your coach about which type of camp would best benefit your child.

We all have our own reasons for choosing how we want to spend our summers and whether hockey is a part of it. The most important factors to take into account when making the decision depend on the skill level of the player, their desire to play, and what their goals are for the coming season. No matter how your youth hockey player chooses to spend the summer, though, keep them working in some way to help get them to the next level.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vacaville Squirt hockey wins third tournament title of season

VACAVILLE, Calif. – The Vacaville Jets Squirt B hockey team has once again brought home a first place trophy in tournament play, winning the Wine Country Face Off in Santa Rosa over President’s Day weekend. This is the third California tournament that the team has won this season, also taking first in the Pacific Regionals of the International Silver Stick Invitational in San Jose in November and winning their home tournament in January, the Second Annual MLK I-80 hockey tournament.

“I cannot tell you how proud we are of the team’s performance this year,” said parent and Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “We’re in first place in the Norcal Youth Hockey League with only one loss in regular season play and we’ve won every California tournament we’ve entered so far this season. On top of that, we were good enough to earn a trip to Pelham, Ontario, Canada in January to play in an international hockey tournament, so we couldn’t have asked for more out of this great group of kids.”

The Vacaville Jets Bantam team (14 and under) also placed first at the Wine Country Face Off, with the Jets Mite team (8 and under) playing in the championship game and coming in second. The next tournament for the Squirts, who are nine and ten year olds, is the Norcal Championship playoffs on March 21 and 22. If they place within the two top teams during that contest they will travel to Escondido, Calif. to play against the top southern California teams for the state championship at the Squirt B level.

Hockey ‘culture’

(For Rubber Magazine's Parental Guidance – March 2009)

As a native of Michigan I know what it’s like to scrape eight inches of snow and ice off my car and make the long drive to an ice rink in a snowstorm, praying that my kid’s hockey game isn’t cancelled due to inclement weather once I get there. I also know what it’s like to spend days as a kid playing eight hour pond hockey sessions with my friends. These experiences helped to instill the “hockey culture” into me, a phenomenon common in the Midwest and other frozen climes.

But do we have a true “hockey culture” here in California? We can’t play outdoors and don’t have to endure snowstorms and below freezing temperatures to get to our games. A far less common sport here, most of our kids are the only ones at school who play ice hockey, with few friends outside of their teammates who can even relate to the sport. So how do we compare to more well-known hockey states?

California hockey families still endure early morning and late evening practices every week for six months out of the year just like our eastern counterparts. We too curse our alarm clocks for waking us out of blissful Saturday morning slumber so we can drive two hours to play 7 a.m. games. Similarly, we caravan to tournament weekends full of back-to-back games, sessions at the pool, and knee hockey marathons in the hallway. And most importantly, we write the same endless checks and nearly melt our credit cards swiping them to pay for premium ice time, new equipment, and the myriad of other expenses our favored sport brings with it.

Living the culture is more a mind set than a geographical phenomenon. When our California boys beat some good Canadian hockey clubs at a recent Ontario tournament, many of the coaches and parents of those teams were flabbergasted. This to them was the ultimate insult, not only to be beaten by Americans, but to have them come from a state known more in their minds for surfing than for hockey.

I take a lot of satisfaction in that reaction. Despite the fact that we have fewer rinks and kids playing ice hockey here, it means we’ve still managed to create our own successful “hockey culture” here in the Golden State, and for that we should be proud.

Jets host successful home tournament

(For March 09 Rubber Magazine)

Vacaville, Calif. -- The Vacaville Jets had a good showing as hosts of the Second Annual MLK I-80 Tournament over the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Weekend, with all of their teams advancing to the finals at the Mite, Squirt, and Midget levels. Thirteen teams from Northern California and Oregon competed in the event.

In probably the tightest division, the Jets Squirt B squad narrowly beat the Tri-Valley Blue Devils A team by a score of 4-3 from a winning shot by Reidar Burgeson with only 5.7 seconds to win the championship game. Every single one of the Squirt players for the Jets contributed points to help them go undefeated during the weekend.

At the Midget level, the Jets won each of their games, beating the South Oregon Stars 9-4 to take home the first place trophy. Standing out for the Jets was Midget Chris Whitten with 15 goals, 8 assists, and 16 penalty minutes in the tournament’s 5 games. The Jets’ Mite squad also fared well, coming in second to the champion Fresno Falcons in a closely played 6-4 decision in the final game.

“We’re really happy with the turnout we had this year and the way our teams played,” said Tournament Chair Tiana Burgeson. “We grew participation with this season’s tournament, adding the Midget level for the first time, and hope to grow again next year by having competition at every level including Pee Wee and Bantam.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

The four letter word of hockey: ‘Ice time’

(For Rubber Magazine's Parental Guidance – February 2009)

It’s one of the most difficult topics to talk about in youth hockey: Ice time. Everyone has a different philosophy about the amount of time each player should get, making it a common topic of debate for both coaches and parents.

The most often heard argument is that every kid should get the exact same amount of ice time. Everyone pays the same fees, right? In theory this makes a lot of sense, but there are a number of factors involved in how shifts are doled out during a game.

For instance, should a player who misses practices or doesn’t work as hard in practices or games still get equal ice time? And what if a player isn’t conditioned as well physically and gets gassed more quickly? Coaches have to account for differing levels of ability, athleticism, and physical fitness. These judgements must be made on the ice during the game.

There are also differing expectations between house and travel teams. Travel teams are more competitive, cost more, and require more time and commitment from players as well as parents. Therefore, parents need to understand there’s a built in expectation that better players will get more ice time. This gets tricky in California because we don’t always have the numbers to support “A,” “B,” and house teams, so many associations are lucky to have just one team.

Tournaments also carry with them some different expectations. Do you try to give every player equal time or do you play to win a little bit harder than during regular season games? Coaches and parents need to clearly understand and communicate these types of team goals so everyone is on the same page before the season starts.

The most important thing to remember is to trust your coach to follow the rules of fair ice time. And if you feel you’re getting shortchanged, have a candid discussion with your coach to find out how he develops his ice time plan. You might find out that there are simple things you can do to help increase your child’s playing time. Managing ice time is not an exact science, but I’ve found that most coaches in USA Hockey do a good job of getting all of their players the time they need to develop their skills and improve their game.

Jets represent California hockey in international tournament

(For Rubber Magazine Feb. 09)
Vacaville, Calif -- The Vacaville Jets Squirt Bs traveled to Ontario Canada in January to compete in the championship finals of the Silver Stick Invitational, where they advanced to the semi-finals and finished in the top four out of a field of 16 teams from across the U.S. and Ontario. The team earned their trip to Canada by sweeping five games during the San Jose regional qualifier held over Thanksgiving weekend.

“The coaches and parents are all really proud of how the boys played in Canada,” said Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “We beat two good Canadian teams and tied another one, which is quite an accomplishment for a bunch of kids from California. We definitely changed a lot of opinions about the level of hockey we play here.”

The Jets Squirts were the first from Vacaville to ever compete in the Silver Stick Invitational Finals, traveling the farthest of all the teams who competed. Other teams in the Squirt B division hailed from Connecticut, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. Seven of the competing teams were from the province of Ontario, including the Ancaster Avalanche who won the championship in the Squirt B division.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Everyone should read this Mitch Albom piece

Whether you are from Michigan or not, Detroit suburbs or the U.P., read this:
The Courage of Detroit

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reidar Burgeson one of Norcal's players of the week

Burgeson named one of three stars for week of Dec. 15, 2008

VACAVILLE, Calif. -- Reidar Burgeson of the Jets Squirt B team in Vacaville had an outstanding Thanksgiving weekend, leading his team as captain to take first place in the 2008 Silver Stick Regional tournament in San Jose. Burgeson led all of the tournament players in his division in points with 13 goals and 6 assists and currently has 38 goals and 18 assists total on the season. To earn the championship the Jets Squirt B team went undefeated in six straight games, taking their regular season win streak to 11-0.

The tournament win allows the Jets to travel to Pelham, Ontario Canada in January to play for the Silver Stick National Championships against the winners in other regions of Canada and the U.S. including Colorado, Texas, Alabama and Maryland The Jets are currently in first place of the NorCal Squirt B division, undefeated in the regular season at 5-0.

For a link to his mention on the Dec. 18 Sharks vs. Red Wings broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet, click below:

Some parents need a dose of reality about NHL dreams

Parental Guidance
By CEAN BURGESON (for Rubber Magazine)

They push their child athletes to the brink – buying them the best equipment, sending them to the finest camps, and purchasing expensive private lessons with expert coaches.

What I’m talking about are those parents who are convinced – sometimes absolutely certain – that their children will be professional athletes. I’ve seen them. I’ve met them. I’ve heard their stories. I’ve coached their kids.

Let’s face it. In youth hockey every young kid dreams of some day playing in the NHL. There’s something about the sport which holds a certain kind of magic for anyone who plays it. With my son and the other kids I’ve worked with, I think there’s absolutely no reason to squash these dreams, either. But as parents we need to be realistic about how much money, time, and other heartache to invest in a youth athlete in an attempt to get them into the NHL.

No matter how many goals your son scores as a Squirt or Pee Wee, the ability of a player 10-12 years old won’t necessarily dictate that they will continue to dominate at their age level as they progress. Early success doesn’t always predict later success, and there are many hurdles to overcome to make it to the big leagues. There are travel teams, tournament teams, tier teams, junior teams, not to mention prep school and high school teams across the country and Canada, all producing players with the same dream. And if a college scholarship is the goal, then there’s some other sobering information that parents need to hear.

Of the 52 colleges and universities that have Division I hockey teams, six don't grant athletic scholarships because they belong to the Ivy League. NCAA rules allow each of the other schools to award the equivalent of 18 full hockey scholarships per year divided among up to 30 athletes. Then, after playing in the juniors or college, if they manage to make it into the NHL draft, the numbers get even more daunting.

In a 20 year study of the pro hockey draft it was found that 2 percent of the picks became superstars, 4 percent of them transformed into stars and impact players, 15 percent became good or average players, and roughly 79 percent didn’t become NHL players at all. Overall, 55 percent of the draftees never even played a single game in the NHL.
I don’t mean to dampen the spirits of any youth hockey player. Parents should let their young athletes determine the amount and type of hockey that they want to play – but don’t sacrifice your entire life or savings account to hockey. Allow kids to focus on having fun with the sport without the added pressure of grooming them for a shot at the pros and they’ll end up a winner no matter where their career takes them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hecka Hockey Show launches on You Tube

My 9-year-old son Reidar and I have started a weekly web program called "Hecka Hockey," which will center on hockey here in Northern California and the NHL.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Vacaville Jets Squirt B wins Silver Stick Western Regional

By CEAN BURGESON for Rubber Magazine and Youth Hockey Report

VACAVILLE, Calif. – The Vacaville Jets Squirt B team will advance to the prestigious Silver Stick International Championships in Pelham, Ontario Canada after winning the San Jose Silver Stick Western Regional Championship over Thanksgiving Weekend. To take the regional cup the Squirts went undefeated in a six game tournament consisting of the best Squirt B teams in Northern California.

After an amazing inaugural year for Squirt B hockey in 2007/2008 – placing 3rd in the California state championships – the Vacaville Jets continue to build a hockey program that competes with the best in the western U.S. “Hard work, dedicated players and parents, great coaches and a supportive community all contributed to the team’s success,” said Team Manager Shannon Nadasdy.

This was the first championship win for the Vacaville Squirts for the 2008/2009 season, and Head Coach Roman Hubalek predicted that this won’t be the last either. “This is only one of many successes you will have this season,” Hubalek told his team as he held up the cup after the championship game. The Squirts were undefeated in their regular season going into the tournament, increasing their streak to 11 straight wins.

The International Silver Stick Association was founded in Regina, Saskatchewan Canada in 1908 and has been promoting goodwill through the medium of international hockey competition for youths of all nations for 100 years. The trophy for this event is a solid silver hockey stick which is passed from winning team to winning team. The regional qualifications in the United States are held each Thanksgiving weekend in San Jose, Colorado, Texas, Alabama and Maryland.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coming in to work the other day the sun and clouds combined to create some eerie lighting effects that I thought would look good in monochrome.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Vacaville Jets Squirt B starts off regular season 3-0

By CEAN BURGESON (For Rubber Magazine and Youth Hockey Report)

Vacaville, Calif. -- This season the Vacaville Jets continue to grow their program, fielding travel teams at the Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget 18A and a tier team at the Midget 16AA level. After pre-season play was completed in October, all of the travel teams were designated to play in the A division with the exception of the Squirts who will play as a B team.

Despite being placed in the lower division, the Squirts, led by Captain Reidar Burgeson (18 goals, 5 assists), Assistant Captains Hunter Hansen (11 goals, 5 assists) and Sam Morton (7 goals, 7 assists) have won their first three regular season games and are in first place in the NorCal youth hockey league, beating the Santa Rosa Flyers (6-3), Lake Tahoe Grizzlies (14-1), and Tri-Valley Blue Devils (5-1). Their perfect season so far is in part due to goalie Kristian Rogers, who is backing up the team this year with a .828 save percentage to date.

The Jets were also honored to have been chosen to play a two minute exhibition scrimmage between periods of the Nov. 22 San Jose Sharks game when they faced off against the Washington Capitals at HP Pavilion.

“We’re happy with the start this team has had so far after a rough pre-season and we expect that they will enjoy great success during the regular season,” said Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “There are still a lot of games left for the Squirts to prove themselves and we expect they will turn a few heads in tournament play this year.”

Moving your child up a level – does it help or hurt?

By CEAN BURGESON (For California Rubber magazine)

It’s a question heard each fall at hockey rinks: “Should we move Billy up a level this year?”

Many parents contemplate moving their child up early in order to “give him more of a challenge.” The levels of USA Hockey are bracketed by age in such a way that players of similar skills will usually play together, but no matter what, there will always be players who excel more than others. I agree that moving a player up will allow him to play with and against better players who will force him to work harder and improve his skills, but he’d do that by moving up at the proper time anyway.

Some parents fear that their child may be bored at their current level. As a coach, I can tell you that most young hockey players aren’t bored with being able to skate around the other players and score time and again. Why not let your child be a star for a year or two? As his career progresses he may not have another 70-goal season again. Let him enjoy it while he can.

It’s also important to question the emotional readiness of the athlete. I’ve seen plenty of good players who excel at skating, passing, and shooting but don’t have the maturity to play at the next level yet. The damage that could be done to a player’s confidence by putting him in a more demanding playing environment before he’s ready could follow him for the rest of his playing career.

Also important to this discussion is the fairness factor. If a star player abandons his team, what effect will that have? Will it give them a weaker bench? Will the team still be able to field enough players to be competitive? How will his former teammates and their parents feel about him leaving?

By moving a child up early in a travel program, a properly aged child might have to be cut in order to make room. At a rink without a house team to fall back on this could force a child out of hockey completely. All things considered, the goal of any good youth hockey program should be to encourage participation from everyone regardless of his or her skill level. Leave no hockey player behind, so to speak.

With all of these factors taken into consideration, youth hockey players are usually better off playing with their same-aged teammates.

Cean Burgeson is a hockey writer, player, and has been a youth coach in Michigan and California.

Rink shopping: Do it for the right reasons

Parental Guidance with Cean Burgeson (For California Rubber magazine)

Now that preseason play has ended and the regular youth hockey season is underway, there’s been some shifting of players amongst teams in California. This happens every year and can be attributed to several factors such as a player’s skill level suitability for a particular team or the amount of ice time he may get.

I have mixed feelings about moving a child to another program at a young age, especially the Mite or Squirt level. In most cases, players should roster with the rink that is closest to their home. It only makes sense when considering the amount of time spent either at the rink or driving to and from the rink during the season. With gas prices constantly fluctuating, this can turn into a serious cost consideration as well.

Cost of the rink’s programs is also a huge factor. Should a player be moved to another rink because the cost of hockey is cheaper there? If it means keeping the player in the sport when otherwise the cost would prohibit him or her from playing, then the answer is “yes.”

Moving because a player has a conflict with a coach is a tricky issue. Let’s face it, there are some coaches out there who are screamers and not all kids respond to this coaching method. There are also coaches who emphasize winning more than equal ice time. If a parent or player feels these situations are causing barriers to their child’s development, then a move to another hockey program might be in order.

It should be noted, however, that later in life players won’t be able to choose their coaches. They’ll have to learn to live with the ones they get. It’s a lesson that some youth players may as well learn now.

I have to admit one big problem I have with switching programs, though. I have a hard time watching a talented player leave simply for what they perceive as a “better” hockey program. As I’m reminded by my son who is a squirt: “you should play for the logo on the front and not the name on the back.”

Sure, he stole that quote from a television commercial, but the sentiment is incredibly accurate. The most important factor to consider when looking for a rink to start off a young player’s career is that of commitment. In any good hockey program there should be a level of commitment to the player’s growth and skill development. Transversely, there should be a commitment on the part of the parents and player to the rink and the growth of that local hockey program. Both are essential to the success of the sport here in California.

Let’s not forget that youth sports are supposed to be about fun. Younger hockey players should be instilled with the idea that it’s more important to enjoy playing than it is to enjoy winning. If winning becomes more important, they’re playing for the wrong reasons.

Roller hockey players can experience success transitioning to ice hockey

By CEAN BURGESON (For California Rubber magazine)

For those of us who grew up in the Midwest, Canada, or on the East Coast, playing ice hockey was as easy as shoveling off a lake or pond and lacing up the skates. In Northern California, transplants from these cold weather regions of the U.S. have a different option when introducing their own children to the sport of ice hockey – roller hockey.

“Roller hockey may be the best forum in starting to play the game of hockey,” says Jerry Orlando, who is the manager of Vacaville Ice Sports, home of the Vacaville Jets hockey program.

One of the barriers to starting ice hockey for younger players in California as opposed to playing out east is the premium price paid for ice time. “Ice hockey is very expensive in California because of the cost of making and keeping ice,” says Orlando. “Roller hockey obviously doesn’t have these costs. This makes it affordable to the average family.”

Making the move from roller to ice hockey is a relatively easy process for players, says Orlando. “The skill set developed in roller hockey transitions very easily to ice hockey. In fact roller hockey players usually are better stick handlers and shoot the puck better than ice hockey players because the puck does not move as well on a sport court as it does on ice. The only draw back is skating, but if taught properly the roller hockey stride can be the same as an ice hockey stride.”

For kids wanting to move up to ice hockey it’s better to do it sooner rather than later, though, as Vacaville Jets Squirt Travel Assistant Coach Matt Morton advises. Both of his sons, 9-year-old Sam and 11-year-old Timmy played roller before ice hockey. “It’s best to get them moved over by around 8 or 9-years-old,” he says. “After that age there are some ingrained habits that players have from roller hockey that are harder to break for ice hockey, such as using a foot-drag stopping method rather than a proper hockey stop.”

Mark Longshore, whose 8-year-old son Gabe switched from roller to ice hockey as a Mite this year says that the transition has been pretty smooth. “The skating transfers over well, but for the stopping and tight corners there’s a bit of a learning curve. Passing and shooting is the same. There wasn’t off sides where he played roller hockey, either, so he’s still learning that.”

Parents should be encouraged to know that youth players who start out playing on dry land before making the move to the ice can still be as successful as those who have played ice hockey exclusively for their entire careers. “My kids both started in roller hockey,” says Orlando. “It taught them the basic fundamentals of the game and gave them skill sets that they took from the court to the ice. It certainly didn’t hurt my daughter Elena, who goes to the top hockey prep school in the U.S., Shattuck-St.Mary's, and is currently on their twice national championship prep team – so I’m a proponent of starting at roller and transitioning to ice.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cache Creek releases its own distinctive wines

(From Destination: Cache Creek by Cean Burgeson)

Native Americans have long had a connection with the Capay Valley. “For thousands of years the Wintun people dwelled in the oak forests, rolling hills, and grasslands along Cache Creek,” says Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians Tribal Chairman Marshall McKay. “They hunted, fished, cared for their families, and created eternal bonds with the land.” Today much of this land, including the place where the Rumsey Band chose to build Cache Creek Casino Resort, is planted with vineyards.

“Down on the 13th hole of Yocha-De-He Golf Club we have about five acres of grapes, and we have 10 acres out in front of the resort and across the street,” according to Randy Takemoto, Cache Creek’s General Manager. “There’s about an acre of Cabernet, six acres of Syrah, and three acres of Viognier just out front. On the golf course there’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc grapes.”
The tribal legacy of environmental respect and stewardship continues through the care and nurturing of these grapes in two new wines which were bottled for the first time in July. The first vintage, from 2006, is called “Tuluk’a” and is a Syrah, blended with 80 percent Syrah grapes, 10 percent Cabernet grapes, and 10 percent Viognier grapes. Shortly after that vintage, the second wine, a 2007 Viognier called “Chama” was bottled.

Look for them to appear on Cache Creek’s wine lists in the coming months. “A 2007 Cabernet and Syrah will also follow next year,” adds Takemoto.
Both the tribe and casino are excited to be able to take this first step into creating a signature Cache Creek wine. “The goal of the Tribe and the resort is to create a very nice high quality wine,” says Randy Takemoto, Cache Creek’s General Manager. “And I think that we’re on our way to doing that.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

Baccarat isn't just a game for secret agents

(From Destination Cache Creek Magazine)

Baccarat is a game of mystery to a lot of gamblers despite the fact that it can be found in many American casinos. “There’s a mystique or an aura about it,” says Bill Harland, VP of Table Games for Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, CA. Known by many as a game played by tuxedoed players on the French Riviera in James Bond movies, in reality it’s an easy game to learn. “It’s a popular game because the decisions are already made for the player, making it simple to play. You just sit down, place your bet, get a feel for the table, and play your instincts.”

The table
Each player has three betting areas associated with his/her position at the table. They are: "Banker", "Player" or "Tie.” An electronic board keeps track of which hands win on our Mini-Baccarat tables, similar to a Roulette board, so players can see trends and determine their bets. Some gamblers choose to track the results of each hand by writing them on a pad.

Cache Creek has 14 Mini-Baccarat and two full-sized Baccarat tables. “One difference between Mini-Bac and Baccarat is that in Baccarat you allow the players to handle the cards,” says Harland. “In Mini-Bac the dealer handles the cards. Handling of the cards by players is also sometimes referred to as “sweating the cards.”

There are seven positions each with two betting spots on a Mini-Baccarat table for a total of 14 possible players. The larger tables accommodate 12 players. “The game is popular, especially among Asians, because it’s a community game,” says Harland. “The game is played in groups, adding a social aspect, since the tables can accommodate such a large number of players. It spurs a social interaction along with the gambling.”

The object is to bet either the Player or Banker hoping that the cards accumulate a point total closest to 9 on two or three cards. Aces count as 1, cards 2 through 9 count at face value, 10s and face cards count as 0. If you're dealt a 9 and a 7, for example, the combined total is counted as 6 rather than 16. If you receive a 3 and an 8, the total is not 11, but is instead counted as 1.

It’s not possible to have a combination of cards with a combined total greater than 9. The perfect hand is one that equals 9 exactly in the first two cards. 8 is the second-best hand and, along with the 9, these two hands make up the two "natural" hands.

Betting and Payouts
Payouts are very straightforward. If you bet on a winning hand, you'll be paid at 1 to 1. If that winner is the Banker hand, a five percent commission is deducted. If the winning hand belongs to the Player, no commission is paid. If you bet on a tie, the payoff is a whopping 8 to 1. Commissions are paid after each hand on Mini-Baccarat tables, and on the large Baccarat tables commissions are tracked and settled at the end of the shoe.

You don’t have to visit the High Limit room to play, either. Cache Creek’s table limits range from $10 (Mini-Bac) to $50 minimum (Big-Bac), and have up to $1,000 and $5,000 table maximums depending on when you play.

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting table game that promotes group interaction and is simple to play, Baccarat is definitely a game you’ll want to check out next time you visit Cache Creek.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pai Gow Poker fun and easy

(From Destination: Cache Creek magazine)

When you walk the casino floor at Cache Creek on a weekend, you’ll likely notice the Pai Gow Poker tables are full and surrounded by players waiting for their chance to play. Cache Creek Vice President of Table Games Bill Harland says the game is popular for many reasons. “You don’t have to make a lot of decisions, but the game still incorporates poker hands into play and you can play a fairly long time because there are a lot of ties.”

Harland encourages anyone who likes poker to give Pai Gow a try, and dispels some of the mystery surrounding the game. “Pai Gow Poker is easy to play. If you understand the rankings of a poker hand, then you can certainly play. For example, an Ace High hand beats a King High hand, a Pair beats Ace High, and so on.”

At its base, the strategy is to beat the dealer’s two hands with your two hands. “You’re dealt seven cards from which you form your two hands: a five-card hand (back hand or high hand) and a two-card hand (front hand or low hand). The five-card hand must be higher in rank than the two-card.” Adding to the possibility of constructing a winning hand are the Jokers, which can be used to complete a straight, flush, or as an Ace.

If you beat both of the dealer’s hands, you win. If you only beat one of the hands, don’t worry – it’s a push. “There’s a 5 percent commission taken on all winning hands,” Harland reminds new players. You can play the Fortune Bonus of $1 to $25 to increase your winnings, so the 5 percent doesn’t reduce payouts much. Fortune Bonuses pay out for hands such as Full Houses and Flushes, regardless of whether you break them up between the high and low hand.

One aspect of the game that Harland is excited about is the Pai Gow Progressives which were recently added. “For example, today our jackpot is over $425,000 and climbing. To win the jackpot, you must wager $5 on the progressive. If you make the $5 wager on the Progressive and are dealt a seven card Straight Flush, you can call for the Brinks Armored Truck to help you haul away the loot.”

There’s more than one way to win a share of that big money, too. “If you’re dealt five Aces and make the $5 Progressive wager, you take home 10 percent of the progressive amount,” explains Harland. “Someone recently won almost $43,000 on that hand.”

It’s easy for beginners to get a little help on a tough hand. If you’re stumped, just ask about the “house way” to play. “If you have any questions please ask one of our dealers – they’ll be happy to assist,” says Harland.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

‘All aboard!’ the Sacramento River train

(From Destination: Cache Creek magazine)

Re-launched in July 2005 by the Sierra Railroad Company, the Sacramento River Train in Woodland is one of the newest dinner trains in the country. Trips aboard the train feature food and entertainment, enjoyed while passengers view the countryside gliding slowly past their window at the leisurely pace of 15 miles per hour.
“It’s a very special memorable occasion,” says Sierra Railroad President Chris Hart. “People are there for the entertainment, but also the experience. It’s like a three hour cruise. What I love about it is the sense of completely getting away from what’s normal and going on a journey with others.”

Fraught with history, the train operates on the 16-mile “Woodland Branch” between Woodland and West Sacramento, originally constructed as a link between the fertile farmlands of Yolo County and the developing city of Sacramento. The Sierra Railroad is comprised of two other trains as well: the Skunk Train which operates on the North Coast of California, and the Sierra, based 70 miles south in Oakdale. Each of them is a working preservation of our country’s love affair with this nostalgic mode of transportation.

Hart says that each trip for the Woodland train includes three phases. “First, we leave Woodland and go across the Fremont Trestle, the longest wooden trestle in Northern California – a mile and a half long. The next portion of the trip, we go along the Sacramento River. For the remaining portion we go through farmland.”
In addition to beautiful scenery, the Sacramento River Train features a variety of daytime and evening trips with food and entertainment. “We run sunset dinners,” says Hart. “We do murder mysteries – a zany, loud, fun show – where you have the actors come right into the cars. And we do a great train robbery that’s more of a daytime barbecue trip with a bunch of western characters. We also do a Sunday Brunch.” Different seasonal and special events are scheduled around holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

With all of these offerings, there’s something for riders of all ages to enjoy. “You show me someone and I think I’ve got a train for them,” says Hart. “We’ve created different trips that we think will appeal to everyone.”
Located 15 minutes from Sacramento and a half hour from Cache Creek, the train boards in Woodland and goes on a 32-mile trip lasting 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours. There are open air and lounge cars to explore, so riders don’t have to worry about sitting the entire time. Trips are offered every week of the year. Call (800) 866-1690 for reservations, or for more information surf to:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

10 tips on how to deal with STRESS

(From Cache Chronicle)

The kids are fighting over the remote control while the baby pulls over a glass on the coffee table, spilling orange juice into your laptop. Simultaneously, the dog deposits the remains of his lunch on the carpet by the front door as the phone rings and your mother chides you for not visiting in over a month. You’re late for work and you’ve hit ignore on your cell phone three times since the alarm went off this morning. Add to this that you’re an hour late for work, there’s no gas in your car, and you have a meeting first thing for which you haven’t begun to prepare.

Our worlds have become increasingly fast paced, and all of this frenetic activity means one thing: STRESS. How can we relieve some of this stress and avoid the inevitable nervous breakdown? Try a few of these tips.

1. Exercise. I know you are thinking, “Where will I find the time?” You don’t have to run a marathon, just add a little more activity to your life. Take a walk on your lunch break, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or motivate the whole family to take a walk after dinner. Shoot some hoops with the kids. Stress is released from the body from physical exertion.

2. Eat better. Switching from a donut to oatmeal for breakfast will trim your waistline and make you feel better about yourself. It will also help to fuel you up for the day. If you’re more energized to tackle the tasks at hand, you won’t feel as stressed.

3. Write it out. Not everyone is a writer, but anyone can journal their feelings onto a piece of paper, into a word document on their laptop, or even on a Blog. Getting out the feelings of frustration in written form has a cathartic affect on the mind.

4. Cut back on the stimulants. Yes, many of us cannot function without that morning cup of coffee. But are two or three cups really necessary? If you’re too wired up, it can affect your stress levels, and it isn’t healthy either. Drink less coffee and soda.

5. Drink in moderation. It may seem like a beer at the end of the day can relax us and relieve a little stress, but drinking every day and drinking more than one or two drinks at a time isn’t healthy, and isn’t really relieving stress as much as it’s masking it.

6. Practice relaxation techniques. If your body is relaxed, it isn’t feeling the effects of stress. Try meditation, yoga, relaxed breathing techniques, or other methods to slow down for a few minutes each day and get in touch with your self.

7. Manage your time better. Use a planner, Microsoft Outlook’s calendar, your smart phone or personal digital assistant to organize your day more efficiently. The more orderly your life is, the less stressed you’ll be, and you’ll also be less apt to schedule multiple commitments at the same time.

8. Make lists. Make a list for yourself on your phone, computer, or paper of what you need to do, and you won’t feel so overwhelmed. Tackle one task at a time and mark them off when they’re completed. It’s a satisfying feeling to eliminate each job from the list.

9. Do something you enjoy, even if only for few minutes each day. Garden, do a Sudoku puzzle, swing the golf club, or walk the dog. Life is short. You have to leave some time for fun. If you have something fun to look forward to each day, all of that hard work will seem more worth it.

10. Learn to say no. Having too many commitments is the reason why we feel stressed. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. You don’t have to volunteer for every work assignment, every school committee, and to coach all of the kids’ sports. Pick a few of these and do them well. Relax and let someone else volunteer for the rest of those positions. You don’t have to save the whole world all by yourself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yocha-De-He Golf Club: A unique golf experience

(From Destination: Cache Creek Magazine)

“I’ve been told it’s absolutely the best golf course in the Sacramento market, and it’s comparable to courses down in Monterey,” says Daniel Kane, Director of Golf for Cache Creek Casino Resort. This is the type of feedback Kane has been getting about Cache Creek’s newest guest amenity, the Yocha-De-He Golf Club.

Golfers will find that Yocha-De-He is more than just a place to play golf – it’s a premiere golf experience. “It’s a championship-caliber golf course managed by Troon Golf, the leader in upscale golf course management,” says Kane. “This means we are creating the country club experience for every guest, with services from bag drop to food and beverage services to overall care of the course itself.”

These high standards have been implemented with plans that the golf course will attract corporate events from a national market as well as collegiate events and professional tours. “The experience is great, especially from a service level, which begins with valet parking, and golf course staff will make contact with golfers six or seven times over the course of a round. They’ll receive a five-star service level.”

Kane’s goal is to ensure that golfers maximize the enjoyment of their round while playing the course. That’s why tee times will be set at 15 minute intervals, rather than seven or eight minute intervals, like many other courses. This will ensure that golfers won’t feel pushed or pressured during their round by other golfers.

“I want to make sure everyone has a great experience,” says Kane. “Golfing Yocha-De-He is more about the experience than anything else.” Part of that experience comes from the secluded setting of the course, and the course design, which heavily showcases the natural beauty of the surrounding valley, thanks to course designer Brad Bell.

According to Bell, the best destination resorts with golf courses are ones that offer something people don’t get to see everyday. “Yocha-De-He is very noteworthy,” he says. “Many of our patrons will never again have the opportunity to play a course like this. There are several ‘wow factor’ moments, because the site itself is so beautiful.” Bell’s background includes the creation of Teal Bend in Sacramento, Turkey Creek in Lincoln, and Coyote Moon in Truckee.

His latest creation, Yocha-De-He, covers close to 165 acres and is nestled in a secluded valley about a half-mile from Cache Creek Casino Resort. Bell says one of the most remarkable features of the course is the first tee. “It’s set on a 170-foot high cliff with the hole 460 yards down in the valley,” says Bell. “It offers a majestic view spanning the entire valley and offers an exciting way to begin play.”

Amenities available for golfers include the unique driving range spreading out into the valley hillside, practice putting greens, a hospitality cart, and a golfer’s comfort station. The course will feature an expansive clubhouse and restaurant to be completed in the fall of 2008.

Kane is excited at the prospects that the golf course holds for Cache Creek guests, and can’t wait for the public to come and experience Yocha-De-He for themselves. “I’m really happy with how it turned out. We’re going to show golfers that our course is the hidden gem in Northern California.”

Greens fees are $85 for 18 holes, a cart, and access to the driving range. Tee times are available Wednesday through Sunday, with times dependent on daylight hours and weather. Call (530) 796-4653 for more information.