Flyers Update: Down for the Count?

Bad to worse.

That’s what has happened to the Flyers over the last three weeks.

After getting shutout against the Atlanta Thrashers, the Flyers began the month of December with another shutout loss against the Vancouver Canucks. The following day, Dec. 4, the team decided to relieve Johns Stevens of his coaching duties. He was replaced with former Carolina Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette. He lead the team to the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Laviolette’s tenure began on a bad note when the team lost the first two games under his tutelage. The Flyers were destroyed by the Capitals at home by a score of 8-2. That Monday, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Montreal Canadians.

Laviolette’s first win came the next day at home against the New York Islanders. In a 6-2 win, the goals were scored by three players; Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux each had two goals.

The Flyers were shutout again that Thursday by the Ottawa Senators at home, 2-0. Nothing got better that Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers quickly found themselves down and eventually out as they could not dig themselves out of a hole and lost 4-1. Claude Giroux was the only goal scorer.

The team snapped a short two-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against the Boston Bruins this past Monday. They came back from 1-0 down to win a preview of the Winter Classic. Kimmo Timonen starred with two goals in the win.

A home-and-home with the Pittsburgh Penguins proved deadly for the Flyers as they tried to get out of their funk. Tuesday in Pittsburgh, after tying the game at one, the Pens took over and completely manhandled the Flyers in a 6-1 drubbing. Thursday, the Flyers gave a better effort but coughed up two one-goal leads and dropped the game in a shootout.

With a little under 9,000 fans at the game on Saturday because of snow, the Flyers couldn’t give the fans something good as they lost their first match-up of the season with the New York Rangers. Chris Pronger scored the only goal on the power-play.

Besides losing, the Flyers continue to be hit by injuries. In the beginning of the month, the team lost Ray Emery for over a month because of abdominal surgery. This could be a reason for these latest struggles.

The team recently claimed former Flyer goaltender Michael Leighton off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. He is serving as Brian Boucher’s back-up right now. The Flyers have gotten a little bit healthier as Blair Betts has returned from injury. Hopefully some much needed scoring will return as well since Simon Gagne returned on Saturday after missing 24 games.

The Flyers finish up a homestand tonight against the Florida Panthers. Wednesday, they will be in Tampa Bay, Saturday in Carolina and in New York on Sunday.

You can contact Colin Fry at

Oliver! at the Walnut

Last weekend, I attended the Walnut Street Theatre production of Oliver!, the British musical based on the famed novel by Charles Dickens. The performance was nothing short of wonderful, and I really couldn’t have been more pleased with this updated rendition of a timeless masterpiece.

The whole thing was an impressive spectacle with complex set design, bold costumes and elaborate choreography that utilized constant movement, high energy, and great spacing. The setting looked incredibly old timey and bleakly dim, really setting the mood of 19th century London.

There were some uncomfortable moments that could have been considered inappropriate for children, particularly the violent end scenes of Bill Sykes murdering his love Nancy and then getting shot himself by an angry mob.

The show does deal with many adult topics, like sex, crime, poverty, death, abuse, corruption and issues of class and social status. Oliver literally starts in an orphanage, gets sold to a funeral home, escapes to the streets of crime and thievery, and ends in the upper class home he was always meant to have. This premise addresses many aspects of society and humanity.

The singing was superb, from all the performers, but the Artful Dodger, played by R.J.Fattori, undoubtedly stole the show. He was a true showman, with a voice so strong and perfected I thought I was on Broadway; watch out for him, he’s sure to be a star!

Nancy, mastered by Janine Divita, also had a stellar singing voice and she really knew how to use it, giving the classic song “As Long as He Needs Me” a new, raw emotional intensity that may have brought a tear to the eyes of those more sensitive audience members (myself included).

In fact, one of the weaker singers was Oliver himself, played by Sam Preston, who had a beautiful melodious tone but was a bit quiet and off key at times. He was an excellent Oliver though, innocent and dreamy, with the classic look and sound to be expected in any Oliver Twist.

Hugh Panaro also did an excellent job as Fagin and he seemed so naturally in character throughout, I genuinely believed every line. My favorite moment of his was at the very end when he considers changing his life of thievery and immorality, but instead reunites with the Artful Dodger and walks away from the church steeples. It was a fitting last image and it was done superbly, bringing up questions of ethics, happiness and civilization /humanity.

The melodies from the production remain firmly in my mind and I find myself humming literally every song performed throughout the course of my day.

This Walnut Street Theatre production of Oliver!is a sure treat for all who attend, though you may want to take the children home after intermission.

I truly had a delightful, thought provoking, and musically pleasing evening, and I encourage all Philadelphians to share my joy and experience the show for themselves, first hand, before it ends its successful run this January.

You can contact Allison Saft at

Philly’s Not Entirely Digital

One of my favorite parts of Philadelphia is its record store culture.

Having been raised in central Pennsylvania, my sole place to physically purchase music was Wal-Mart, so coming to a city that simply has a ton of great places to buy not only CDs, but vinyl as well was heaven.

Below are a few of my favorite spots to hit up. After one visit, I’m sure you’ll say the same.

AKA Records

AKA Records (27 N. Second St.) is located in the heart of Old City and is perhaps one of the best known record stores in the city. In regards to CDs, the store has an extensive array of every genre imaginable, along with a huge used section. The vinyl section has a lot of good stuff, but its range is fairly limited. Check it out if you’re looking for alternative or indie rock. Also, the store serves currently as R5 Productionsticket office, so it’s convenient if you plan on going to a show.

Repo Records

Another classic, Repo Records (538 South St.) brings to mind the “hole in the wall” style stores of decades gone by. Upon entering, you realize how cramped it is, with CDs lining the walls and extending fairly high up. The store has a huge basement full of used vinyl that’s in no discernable order, but is definitely cool to look through.

Long in the Tooth

In my experience, relatively few people have heard of Long in the Tooth (2027 Sansom St.), which is a shame because it’s SUCH a great place to buy music. The store has a staggering amount of used CDs and DVDs, along with an entire wall of rare vinyl that would blow any collector’s mind. They also have some of the most helpful staff I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with.

Tequila Sunrise

Another personal favorite in Philadelphia, Tequila Sunrise (between Fifth and Sixth sts. on Girard Ave.) focuses heavily on vinyl, so if you are more into CD as your preferred medium, you might want to skip this place. Nevertheless, Tequila has a constantly changing stock that makes for a unique visit each time.

So get off of iTunes and pickup some physical music already! You’ll be glad you did.

You can contact Chris Banks at

A Philly Style Winter Wonderland

Winter break is mouthwateringly close, but for many of us the obstacles—namely final exams, important projects and lengthy essays—seem insurmountable. As they loom above our heads it seems that vacation will never come, that the workload will never diminish, that we will be trapped in fall semester FOR-EV-ER.

Calm down. The work will get done and break will be all the sweeter for that. In the meantime, it is of the utmost importance that you take advantage of Philadelphia’s unbeatable holiday study breaks. Between exams and study sessions make sure to dig up your mittens, scarves and walking shoes because there are too many holiday sights to see for you to spend the next few weeks cooped up in the library.

First of all, if you’re short on time and cash, take a stroll through Center City. The lights have been hung on all of the trees and City Hall is looking especially festive; with a cup of cocoa in hand you can admire them while lightening your stress load.

Center City is also home to the Comcast Center lobby’s latest attraction: the Holiday Spectacular in 3D! All visitors are given complementary 3D glasses with which to watch the 19 minute video which features lifelike images of Santa Claus in his sleigh, ice skaters pirouetting and ballerinas in The Nutcracker. Screenings take place daily at the top of every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the exception of 5 p.m. (to avoid the rush hour crowds), so it’s easy to squeeze in a visit even if you’re pressed for free time.

Another free attraction is the Macy’s Holiday Light Show in Center City’s historic Wanamaker Building. In the stunning Grand Court, shoppers will have their eyes on the building’s organ as thousands of LED lights combine to create festive moving images set to music. Narrated by Julie Andrew’s, this free event is a Philly tradition you cannot afford to miss.

If you make it to Penn’s Landing you’ll see that everyone’s favorite skating facility, the Blue Cross RiverRink is back and in full use until Feb. 28. Unless you’ve been practicing, you’ll be so focused on not slipping that your end-of-the-semester worries will melt away.

The Please Touch Museum is once again home to a Philadelphia favorite—the Enchanted Christmas Village. The event’s eighteen heartwarming Christmas scenes depict all the bustle of a village during the holidays—a blacksmith teaching his apprentice the tricks of the trade, a shopkeeper tending to his customers while mischievous children take a free sample of jam and a toymaker busily working away. All of your favorite childhood holiday stories will come to mind as you explore this beautifully restored Christmas classic.

Finally, if you’re looking for a rush and live near a hill, you should seriously consider showing your Philadelphia pride in hitting the slopes on an Eagles, Phillies or Flyers Super Sled. Heck (though I don’t recommend it) McCaulay Culkin sledded down his stairs in Home Alone; you’ll have no problem pulling this off.

Bottom line: there is no limit to the number of ways to get your mind off of schoolwork this winter, and with Philadelphia being as festive as it is, you’ll be kicking yourself later if you miss out on all the fun.

Stick your note cards in your back pocket and go get into the spirit!

You can contact Samantha Ronan at

Flyers Update

Over the last two weeks, the Flyers have run themselves into a slide with inconsistent play and now, injuries.

Two Mondays ago, Nov. 16, they concluded a 3-game home stand with a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. It was their second win of the season against Jersey.

The following Wednesday, they began a five game road trip that took them to the West Coast. They began in Los Angeles, and in a surprise move coach John Stevens decided to give Brian Boucher his second start of the season. Boucher responded and came up huge, especially in the 3rd period, and the Flyers won 3-2. Rookie Mika Pyroala scored his first NHL goal.

They had back-to-back games on the weekend. They looked for revenge against San Jose put lost 6-3. The game was a lot closer than the score indicated. On Saturday, they lost 2-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes. The games were a lot more devastating than because of the losses. Darroll Powe, Friday, and Blair Betts, Saturday, both suffered shoulder injuries. They are both expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

At the start of the next week, the team was in Colorado against the Avalanche. The Avs were one of the hottest teams out of the gate this season and they were in this game as well. They jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. The Flyers fought back with goals from Jeff Carter and Danny Briere (two goals each in the game). Before the halfway point of the game, Colorado scored two more on Ray Emery and ended his night. The Avalanche led 5-2 after two after getting a goal on Boucher.

The Flyers fought back to get it 5-4, but their comeback fell short and they lost 5-4. Late in the game Danny Briere hit defenseman Scott Hannan near the head. He was not penalized but he was suspended for two games.

The trip finished Wednesday in New York. The Flyers were down 1-0 but came back with goals from Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell to steal a 2-1 win from the Islanders. Brian Boucher got the win.

Friday, the Flyers lost a lead against Buffalo at home on a Black Friday matinee. The Sabres tied the game in the second and beat Emery twice in the third for a 4-2 win. One of the injury replacements, Jared Ross, left the game with a head injury after being hit from behind. He did not play Saturday.

On Saturday, the Flyers 14-game winning streak against the Atlanta Thrashers ended with a 1-0 loss. Boucher was the tough-luck loser. The Flyers had 34 shots on net. Briere, who was supposed to return, did not because of the flu. He will play Thursday.

Danny Syvret, a healthy scratch for seven straight games, was put on waivers and sent to Adirondack this week. David Laliberte was also sent down.

The Flyers are off until tomorrow when the Vancouver Canucks are in town. The Washington Capitals are here on Saturday for the third of four meetings this season.

You can contact Colin Fry at

The Dad Vail Departure

Philadelphians don’t give up their prized possessions easily.

When the New Year’s 2009 Mummer’s Parade looked like an impossibility, Philadelphians pulled through and came up with the funds. When rival Joyce fans enviously eye the Rosenbach Museum’s handwritten Ulysses manuscript the city tightens its grip on the Modernist classic.

And yet, all of a sudden, the Dad Vail Regatta has been sent to the other side of the Delaware.

Known as the country’s largest regatta, boasting over 100 college teams from all across North America, the Schuylkill has continuously hosted this enormous competition every May since 1953.

Named in honor of Harry Emerson “Dad” Vail, longtime University of Wisconsin coach, this race was founded by UPenn coach “Rusty” Callow and Lev Brent in order to allow developing crew teams the chance to compete on a grander scale. According to the regatta’s website, Vail struggled to spark an interest in crew during his time as a coach, as “there was little sport for the sport and little rowing took place in Wisconsin. Crew candidates often went out for other sports.”

In honor of this man’s commitment to and enthusiasm for rowing, UPenn held the first Dad Vail Regatta in 1934 in which only three collegiate teams—Marietta, Rutgers and Manhattan—competed. From these humble beginnings, participation skyrocketed.

In 1961, twenty schools sent forty crews to compete, all embracing the Dad Vail Rowing Association’s objectives: “to perpetuate the ‘Dad’ Vail tradition, foster and encourage intercollegiate rowing among colleges new to the sport, and promote schedules for member schools.”

The numbers have only continued to grow as the regatta attracts teams from the U.S. and Canada alike.

One would think that, given the event’s popularity, drawing athletes and spectators by the thousands, Philadelphia would want to cling to the Dad Vail Regatta with all its might and yet, off it goes, back to Rumson, N.J. where crews last took to the Navesink River in 1939.

Dad Vail President Jim Hanna points out on the website that the move was purely economic: “Rumson, New Jersey representatives approached us after learning that we were in a financial bind and made a very compelling proposal to host the event in 2010…Their support will actually allow us to avoid large increases in registration fees to participating crews while continuing to benefit the Philadelphia community rowing programs.”

Organizers admit that they simply could not afford Philadelphia as a venue in 2010 and claim that the city had been warned of their situation, yet Mayor Nutter and U.S. Representative Bob Brady seemed caught off guard when the change was announced. In the likely event that the regatta cannot be brought back to Philly this year, Nutter is considering hosting a rival regatta of sorts.

Local coaches and athletic directors have been discussing what steps to take next. Though set action for the 2010 regatta is yet undetermined, all agree that Dad Vail must return to Philadelphia in 2011.

As St. Joe’s athletic director Don DiJulia told, “It would be very challenging from a fiscal standpoint to send our whole team out of town – it’s not one boat.” Di Julia estimates that taking the team to Rumson would cost an unbudgeted $15,000.

At this point, it appears that Dad Vail isn’t budging this year. With Rumson offering $250,000 towards the event, organizers had little choice. Whether the city knew exactly how urgent the situation was is unclear; what is going to transpire on the banks of the Schuylkill this May has yet to be determined.

What this fiasco has taught Philadelphians, however, is that those treasured traditions that characterize the city and seem so permanent can be snatched away pretty quickly. Dad Vail has no qualms about returning to the Schuylkill in the future, as six of its participating schools, including the record-holding Temple team, hail from Philadelphia, but 2010 has certainly taught us to hold on tight to what we hold dear.

You can contact Samantha Ronan at