Archive for: June 2016

Meep Meep! Tucson Secures Pro Hockey Team

roadrunners

There’s a new team in town and this one seems to be here for the long haul.

Tucson has had it’s flirtations with pro baseball with the Sidewinders, Toros, Padres as well as the spring training home for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Eventually each of the following left the Old Pueblo and with it a gaping hole longing for something to root for other than the University of Arizona.

When it was announced earlier this year that the Arizona Coyotes were thinking of moving their top-level affiliate team from Springfield, Mass. the city was abuzz with the opportunity that it would actually move to Tucson. There were the typical nay-sayers and detractors commenting that Tucson couldn’t support a pro franchise even on the AAA-level or there was not enough of a fan base for ice hockey in the desert.

Boy, were they wrong.

LeBlanc. Chayka & Tippett

LeBlanc. Chayka & Tippett

In an announcement at the Tucson Convention Center on Saturday, the new local American Hockey League franchise, and affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, revealed its name to be the Tucson Roadrunners. The organization held a “name the team” contest and Roadrunners was the “overwhelming favorite,” said Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc.

“We were just so overwhelmed with the support we saw and the names that were submitted,” LeBlanc said. “We knew that was the right name.”

The owners, coaches and prominent representatives were all on hand for the announcement.

“The turnout was incredible. Quite frankly it exceeded my expectations,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “There has been excitement. It’s a community that wants good things to happen and it’s a sports community. So you have this level of sports activity it just makes people feel better about it and it creates a good buzz.”

New head coach Mark Lamb is eager to develop new players for the big boys in Glendale. Lamb’s coaching resume includes six seasons as an assistant to Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett when Tippett was behind the bench in Dallas from 2002-09.

Also in the mix are are Mark Hardy as the primary assistant coach and Corey Schwab who will coach the goaltenders. Hardy also coached with Tippett; both were assistants with the Los Angeles Kings under Andy Murray from 1999-2002.

New Head Coach Mark Lamb

New Head Coach Mark Lamb

Now on to the big business of getting the home of the Roadrunners renovated. While the Tucson IceCats have played at the Convention Center for years, there will a litany of improvements made to the location in preparation of the new minor league team. The Rio Nuevo Board approved $3.7 million in upgrades to the arena.

The project will include locker room renovations, a new Zamboni, new dasher boards, an additional video system, renovation of the ice making equipment, and a new retail store.

The season won’t start until the end of October, but on Oct. 9 the team will host a red-and-white intrasquad game in which all of the Coyotes’ NHL players will play along with the AHL roster from the Roadrunners. Admission is free, but the Coyotes are asking fans for a $5 donation upon entry, with all proceeds going toward the University of Arizona hockey program.

The Roadrunners will play in the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division. In 2015-16, the Pacific Division featured the AHL affiliates of the Anaheim Ducks (San Diego Gulls), Calgary Flames (Stockton Heat), Colorado Avalanche (San Antonio Rampage), Dallas Stars (Texas Stars), Edmonton Oilers (Bakersfield Condors), Los Angeles Kings (Ontario Reign) and San Jose Sharks (San Jose Barracuda).

The season will begin in earnest on October 28 and ticket prices will range from $10 to $40 per game with discounts for season ticket packages. Visit arizonacoyotes.com/ahl or call 866-415-4695. Fans can also email ticket representatives at ahlhockey@arizonacoyotes.com.

Time(less) Market

 

timeThe modern streetcar whistled by as I pulled up to the vintage building on University around lunchtime and there was nary a parking spot to be found. I located an area off the beaten path behind a church and trekked to the market for a daily special that has never disappointed.

I have never looked at a menu in Time Market as I am always drawn in by either their sandwich or pizza of the day. Today was no different as I was immediately drawn to the pork belly bánh mi. This Vietnamese Po’ Boy in it’s most basic form is the French baguette bread layered with a protein, a collection of vegetables and a spread—simple yet divine.

I placed my order and nestled in between two businessmen at the bar and patiently waited for my sandwich.

This place was hectic!

As I looked around, I noticed there was something for everybody here. Aside from the restaurant, there is a dedicated coffee station serving their in-house roasted coffee beans which can now be found down the road a bit at Exo Roast Company. Time Market offers up several other roasts but rest assured, they are all sourced through fair or direct trade.

Hustle & bustle on University

Hustle & bustle on University

Directly in front of me was the bar, offering up not just three or four draft offerings, but a mind-boggling 12! The selection of 12 craft beers was staggering with handles spanning from local Tucson breweries to Michigan and California to Illinois.

Fret not, my fellow oenophiles, if it is wine that you are looking for, Time Market offers an extensive list of wines by the bottle and glass. Wine and beer are also available in the grocery aisles for you to enjoy at home.

The grocery aisle, you may be wondering…yes, it is a market after all. Not as extensive as your local Trader Joe’s or even Johnny Gibson’s, but the grocery portion of the market reaches a definite niche. These hard-to-obtain items are a like finding a needle in the rough (you see what I did there?) Their selection of chocolates, spices, hot sauces, olive oils and beverages are worth the trip alone.

I ventured over to the back of the market to their wall of refrigerated beverages and took at least 10 minutes to select a bottle of iced tea. From boxed water to kombucha and chia drinks, the selection was almost too much to deal with.

Pork Belly Bahn Mi

Pork Belly Bahn Mi

Now time for the sandwich!

The in-house made baguette was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and packed with antibiotic and growth hormone-free Beeler Haluka pork belly braised in Chinese five spice and turmeric. How good is this pork? Beeler Farms treats their pigs better than most people treat their children. Heluka is a Native American term meaning “full of sun” and is entirely focused on the pig’s comfort, welfare and genetics.

This version of the sandwich had the standard vegetables including pickled daikon radishes and carrots along with cilantro, cucumber and jalapeño peppers to kick it up a notch. It was finished with a small dollop and a squeeze of lime juice to add acidity ensuring the perfect bite, every bite.

The bánh mi is a timeless classic, first being introduced to Vietnam by the colonial French in the late 1800s. The market, much like the sandwich is timeless reaching every age range and demographic. From college students to business meetings to “fragrant” hipsters and even families. The place was packed for lunch on a sunny Thursday afternoon and I’m sure it will be like that for a long, long time.