716 Sports Podcast is excited to announce Buffalo Beauts’ Director of Operations, Linda Groff-Mroz, will be contributing her behind-the-scenes perspective on the 2016-17 season.

How is it the second week of December already?  The Beauts hit the road again, I unfortunately am not going to make the trip; I have the boys this weekend.  The Beauts are traveling to Connectcut to play the Whale in their home opener –  WOW – the second week of December and it’s their home opener?!  I wonder if the fans were getting nervous about their home team always being on the road.  But, that is what the Beauts dealt with last year, I believe we had six home games in a row, so I’m sure we were wondering when we might travel.  It all evens out in the end.

** Side note – so excited that the All Star game has been announced and the special city is Pittsburgh, PA!  If I make the road trip, want to stop at that famous sandwich place! Primanti Bros, here I come!  And a special shout out and CONGRATS to the Beauts’ very own, Kelley Steadman for being named captain of one of the teams. **

So here we are, second week of December and it’s Friday, AKA, travel day.  Today is super insane.  Took Cooper to school by 830am, then went to Wegmans to stock the team up with snacks and water for the bus ride – speed racer through the aisles, almost like Supermarket Sweep (anyone remember that show? am I showing my age?)  Unloaded and arranged the snacks in the bin and the cooler, and headed to North Buffalo by 9am to check in on the Beauts at practice.  I checked in with Ric for any last minute details and specs; nope, all set.  Time to go get Cooper.  I called my dad to make sure that he will be at my house so I can drop off Cooper…all set.  Picked Cooper up from school, raced home and dropped him off.  Set up the new movie, “Secret Life of Pets” and showed Papa Motorcycle (each grandparent in the family has their own special name, helps keep them all straight) where Cooper’s lunch is in the fridge, gave him a smooch and off to the HarborCenter. 

I find myself speaking to myself out loud more and more and actually answering myself – yeah, I’m actually having straight up conversations with myself as if there are two people with me.  Perhaps it’s a psychotic break or just a mum thing, but lately, if I don’t say it out loud, I seem to forget what I’m supposed to be doing.  So, check list for the HarborCenter – if the bus is there, unload all from my truck, but if not, park up on level 5, grab the cart to load the skate sharpener, and jersey bag, put the water bottles in the jersey bag so I can put ice in the blue jug, which I will dump in the blue cooler, which is still in my truck.  Run to Impact and grab Nate’s table…thanks to Alex our equipment manager, he helped me unload my truck onto the cart and downstairs to the bus.  After a few bottled water mishaps, Alex and I were on the move and got everything loaded on the bus.  Counted players and staff on the bus, wished the girls luck and off they went.

I ran errands for the next couple of hours – stopped at Custom Edge to sharpen a pair of my varsity player’s skates, off to home to change for varsity game, snagged the boys and off to Mema’s house we go.  I dropped the boys off at my mum’s house because my varsity game was only minutes from her house and their dad was picking them up because they had dinner plans.

Game went very well for varsity, we got the win.  Picked up the boys from their dad’s house and I was starving, I had a craving for Mighty Taco, so the drive through was vacant.  Riley was over the moon excited to stop and grab Mighty and we headed home.  We wolfed down our Mighty, all three of us took wicked fast showers and in bed because 6:45am comes quickly.  Riley has practice at 8am and Cooper at 9:30am – better sleep fast, all of us.

Chainsmokers “Closer” is my weekend alarm and I shot out of bed.  I started the truck after I got dressed in the dark, loaded the boys’ equipment and then woke them up.  Riley was excited to go to practice because he will have a goalie coach today.  A good friend of mine, who I also played hockey with growing up, agreed to come out and help Riley whenever he could.  We stopped at Tim Horton’s to get breakfast; Buff State here we come!


As I helped Riley get dressed, as he waddled out of the locker room and out on the ice, right away I could see he was in his happy place.  Riley’s new coach was giving him basic instruction and by the end of the practice, Rob was ripping shots at Riley and he asked for me and harder shots.  I knew right then and there, Riley was meant to be a goalie.  With about 10 minutes to go in Riley’s practice, Cooper and I headed into the locker room to get him dressed for his practice, which is at another rink.  Riley got off the ice and took off his gear, off to Nichols.

Riley was running around like a typical rink rat while his brother was on the ice.  A few announcements were given to the parents about pictures and what is amazing, Cooper’s coach likes to “adopt” a family during the holiday season and asks the teams he coaches to participate in making that family’s holiday season a memorable one.  We will get the list of what is needed and wanted by the family.  Every Christmas I get to see my kids’ happy little faces as they tear through their presents and leave the living room a mess, I don’t know if I could handle not being able to give them a Christmas.  If any one of my readers would like to participate, please email me and I can let you know what is needed or wanted.

One thing is for sure, Riley needs goalie skates, his player skates are hindering his side movements, but he is at least listening.  During Cooper’s practice, I was checking out a few things for Riley on goaliemonkey.com, PureHockey and Great Skate.  We loaded up the truck and went to PureHockey, however, they were mobbed with people because the Sabres being there and bags of hockey equipment for first timers, the lines, oh the lines!  Back in the truck after we were informed they didn’t have skates that fit Riley.  Great Skate, funny how I used to walk in as a player and now as a hockey mum (and coach), but Riley found a pair of skates that fit and a helmet as well.  He’s all set, it’s official, I have a goalie for a son!

I have sniper school today, I took both Riley and Cooper with me. It’s only an hour session; They should be fine.  Riley checked out the RapidShot and wanted to get in the cage.  I told him that he could do what Beauts goalie, Kelsey Neumann does, bring her goalie stick and gloves and practice her clears – Riley looked at me, started laughing and then asked, “Oh, wait, are you serious mum?”  It’s going to be a hard lesson to learn, but he committed to being a goalie and goalie is what he will be.  Who wants to see Santa???  The boys jump up and down like lunatics. We were off to see Santa!  It’s a family tradition and traditions must continue.  It was such a great picture!  Thank goodness, worth every penny. 


Finally home, after being gone for eight hours…I just want to lay on my bed and pass out.  But, I have laundry to do, Christmas presents to finish up and wrap, dishes to do and dinner to make.  I didn’t take anything out and it’s freezing ass cold outside (I know I owe in the swear jar), soup and samitch kind of night.  Riley asks for a tuna samitch with cheese and tomato soup, Cooper wants the same thing, easy, perfect!

After dinner we wanted to go for a drive and stop at a friend’s house, however, chores have not been completed, house looks like a bomb went off, mum lays down the hammer and says we aren’t going anywhere until chores get done.  Let the emotional meltdowns begin!  The crying, screaming, stomping, more screaming, more crying are what filled my house.  It was almost a perfect day and then the shoe dropped.  I put the boys to bed, because they’re clearly over tired and I’m getting a headache from saying, “knock it off,” “that’s enough,” and “are you kidding me?!” – it’s time for bed, for everyone.  It’s 7:43pm and my house is dark, quiet and peaceful…for now.

4:14am the Bewitched twinkle sounds off, it’s Jami letting me know that the bus just dropped off Ric.  I have about an hour before the bus arrives at the HarborCenter and I have to be there to unload it.  I roll back over, plenty of time to take a bit of a snooze…Ric’s calling to wake me up.  Apparently everyone knows how much I hate mornings and can sleep through my alarms.  I’m awake…it’s 4:21am.  I need an automatic car start, because running outside when it’s like 20 degrees to start my truck? Ugh.  I ran back in the house and got back into bed, set my alarm for 4:55am, plenty of time for my truck to warm up.

The highways are deserted and a fresh dust of snow scatters as I hit the 33.  My heat is still blasting when I park by the HarborCenter waiting for the bus.  There she is, pulling in at 5:23am…doesn’t take long to unload everything into my truck – the Beauts helped.  Back home I go.  I’m wide awake at this point, no sense in going back to bed by the time I got home, it was 5:54am, I put in a load of laundry, made a fresh pot of French Vanilla Dunkin Donuts coffee, with my Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra creamer, sat on the couch, put on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and began to work.

Our whole house ALWAYS runs on Dunkin'.

Our whole house ALWAYS runs on Dunkin'.


Christmas cards need to be addressed, they are designed and ready to be mailed.  Christmas presents need to be finished today, wrapping needs to be done.  Riley has a game at 11am, and off to Nana Wright’s later for family dinner and Christmas decorating.  My weekends are surrounded by hockey and family, honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Holiday edition of Groff’s Garage will be posted in segments…stay tuned and stay warm!