Desert Dog Blog – Coyotes win No. 500 in Phoenix

Feb 11, 2011, 5:35 AM | Updated: 5:42 am

The Coyotes won their 500th regular-season game since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996 on Wednesday night when they beat the Dallas Stars, 3-2, in overtime.

Big deal? It is for me, a former season-ticket holder turned team employee.

There’s nothing like a milestone to trigger fond memories. When it comes to this NHL team’s time in Phoenix, I have many.

In 1996, I was one of many hockey fans in the desert thrilled that the NHL was coming to my city. A friend and I bought season tickets for the Coyotes right away. Our seats were unique, located in the area directly below the “balcony” that extended over the ice at the south end of what used to be called America West Arena in downtown Phoenix. It was extremely fun watching games from that cozy nook. I’m guessing it seated less than 100 people.

For trivia buffs reading this, the team posted its first of its 500 regular-season victories (and counting) as the Coyotes on Oct. 7, 1996 in Boston vs. the Bruins. The score was 5-2. The team’s first home win came three nights later when the Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks, 4-1, in an electric atmosphere I can recall quite vividly. I still have the ticket from the first home game. It’s hanging behind me in my office as I type this blog.

I can remember attending many, many other wins for the Phoenix Coyotes over the past 15 years but I’ll spare you my memories so you can focus on some of yours.

• I went to the team’s optional practice on Thursday at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. It was pretty low-key; only about a third of the players attended.

Center Vernon Fiddler, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday after nursing an upper-body injury for three-plus weeks, was there and skated. After the workout I asked him how he felt the day after playing his first game since Jan. 15.

“It was good to get back in,” said Fiddler, who logged 9:29 of ice time. “Obviously you’re a little tentative at the beginning because you don’t really know what to expect. It’s just all about confidence. As the game went on I trusted it a little bit more and more and I felt better and better. It felt like my legs were there although it’s going to take me a few games to get me all the way back to where they were. Overall I thought it was a good first game back.”

• Forward Paul Bissonnette was in the lineup for the eighth consecutive game on Wednesday, which is a nice streak for him considering he was in and out of the lineup over the first three months of the season.

“I’ve been playing physical,” Bissonnette said when I asked him what he thought the key to him staying in the lineup had been. “Last night wasn’t a good example because I didn’t play much – I just kind of got lost in the game with the penalties, and being on the road and the matchups – but I’m just trying to be a factor and be noticed in a positive way. It just seems like I have to be on my game in every game. One bad game for me and I’ll be out of the lineup again. It’s do or die.”

• Defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who has missed the past four games because of an upper-body injury, practiced on Thursday. He is day-to-day.

• Defenseman David Schlemko, who has missed 10 games since absorbing a brutal hit to the head from San Jose’s Scott Nichol on Jan. 17, has started skating. He is hoping to rejoin the team at practice next week.

• Coyotes prospect Mark Visentin was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Goaltender of the Week for the week ending Feb. 6. In two starts Visentin posted two wins including a shutout victory with a goals-against-average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .967. The Coyotes selected Visentin with the 27th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reach Dave Vest at and follow him on Twitter at davest4yotes.
For information on upcoming Phoenix Coyotes games, please visit

Arizona Coyotes

The spot light shines on Lawson Crouse #67 of the Arizona Coyotes after he scores a goal against th...
Associated Press

Coyotes’ 4-game winning streak ends after loss to Jets

The Arizona Coyotes had won six out of their last seven games and four straight before a loss to the Jets on Tuesday.
2 days ago
Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller celebrates with center Nick Schmaltz (8) after scoring a ...
Kevin Zimmerman

Fanatics to replace Adidas as NHL jersey provider in 2024-25

Fanatics is taking over as the NHL's jersey provider beginning in 2024-25. Adidas has made NHL jerseys since 2017.
2 days ago
Juuso Valimaki #4 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with teammate Barrett Hayton #29 after scoring ...
Associated Press

Coyotes beat Blackhawks at home behind 3 goal 3rd period

Juuso Valimaki broke a tie with 3:12 left and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Saturday night.
5 days ago
(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...
Austin Scott

Josh Doan says ‘it was hard’ to leave ASU to go pro with Coyotes

After two successful seasons at ASU, Josh Doan made the decision to go pro and start his journey with the Coyotes on Thursday.
5 days ago
Travis Boyd #72 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with Liam O'Brien #38 and Christian Fischer #36 a...
Associated Press

Coyotes defeat visiting Canucks, extend points streak to 7

Travis Boyd scored twice, Ivan Prosvetov stopped 29 shots and the Arizona Coyotes stretched their points streak to six straight games.
7 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils hockey forward Josh Doan at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona, on Oct. 14, 2...
Austin Scott

ASU forward Josh Doan decides to go pro with Coyotes

Josh Doan will leave the Sun Devils after two seasons. He will debut for the Tucson Roadrunners on Friday.
6 days ago
Desert Dog Blog – Coyotes win No. 500 in Phoenix