Minor League Sports

The art of chirping: For the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Grant Silianoff and Jack O'Leary are the masters

RoughRiders’ Jack O’Leary looks to clear the puck under pressure from Youngstown’s John Larkin (27) in the first period at a RoughRiders hockey game with the Youngstown Phantoms at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.  (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
RoughRiders’ Jack O’Leary looks to clear the puck under pressure from Youngstown’s John Larkin (27) in the first period at a RoughRiders hockey game with the Youngstown Phantoms at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — You want to know who the biggest chirpers are on this Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hockey team, so you take a shot and talk to Grant Silianoff first.

Bingo.

“I talk a lot,” Silianoff admitted, with a sheepish grin. “But I think Jack O’Leary is pretty good also. We talk a lot on the ice. I love talking, so it’s all good.”

“I’d definitely say it’s us two, for sure,” said O’Leary, whose RoughRiders hosted Waterloo on Saturday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. “We have some fun with it. Even in practice together, we’ll be chirping each other. All the time. You know, practice makes perfect, right?”

Chirping goes with hockey like turkey with Thanksgiving. It’s an art form.

Not everyone participates in trash talking, but the guys who do are usually pretty good at it.

“Hey goaltender, switch to Geico, so you can save more.”

“Hey, man, does your coach know you’re out here?”

“Hey, buddy, can I borrow your hands? I need a stone for my skates.”

NHL superstar Jonathon Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs recently had the best non-verbal chirp you’ve seen. After a dust-up with Scott Sabourin of the Ottawa Senators, a rather non-descript rookie player, Matthews, instead of talking, kept looking behind Sabourin at the nameplate on the back of his jersey.

 

He was saying ‘Who are you?’ without actually saying it.

“In the games, we just love to have some fun with it and get into it. It helps me kind of get into the game. Just kind of gives a different view for me,” O’Leary said. “You’ve got to pick your guys. Some guys, obviously, love to do it. Some don’t. It’s kind of like a skill. Just have fun with it. I like to just have some fun with it.”

“I get into the game way more,” Silianoff said. “I love talking, it just gets me engaged. When guys try and get under my skin, that’s when I start to play my best, I think. So me chirping and them chirping back just gets me going.”

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O’Leary and Silianoff were asked for their best chirp given and received. They were told if they were R or X-rated, they’d be cleaned up for this story.

Silianoff said he gets a ton of chirps about his red hair. Every redhead out there, whether they play hockey or not, has heard most of those.

O’Leary said he gets guff about his height, or lack thereof. He’s only 5-foot-6.

“Definitely the best chirp I’ve received was last year against Dubuque,” he said. “They had a defenseman in front, and there was kind of a scrum. He was, like, 6-foot-5, a big guy. I’m trying to talk to him, chirp him up, and he’s just looking right over my head and saying ‘Who is that? Who’s talking to me?’ Literally like that (O’Leary looks in the air, looks around). I just kind of looked at him, laughed and skated away. That was a good one.”

Silianoff said his best chirp given involved Waterloo’s Hank Sorensen last season. And he blamed teammate Liam Walsh when Sorensen confronted him about it.

“I called him the Pillsbury Doughboy,” Silianoff said with a laugh. “Then when he asked who said it, I told him it wasn’t me, it was Walshie ... Walshie was the one who brought it up to me. I just used it.”

Ignat Belov was overhearing these conversations with Silianoff and O’Leary and was asked if he liked to chirp. He said no, not really, mostly because he’s from Belarus, and English isn’t his primary language.

Then Belov, who was traded this week to Sioux City, naturally proceeded to bring up a good chirp he had against a Tri-City player this season.

“I skated with them for a week (in the preseason),” Belov said. “One of their guys was like ‘Iggy, you got cut. You weren’t good enough.’ I was like ‘Dude, I had two practices with you.’ He was like ‘Yeah, you suck. You suck.’

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“I just told him ‘The funny thing is you know what my name is, but I don’t know who you are.’ He skated away.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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