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Friday, February 22, 2008

Road Trip to the State of Hockey

On Sunday I drove the eight hours from Winnipeg to Minneapolis-St. Paul for the sole purpose of watching hockey. I attended the February 17th game of the Minnesota Wild vs. the Nashville Predators, and the February 19th game.

Here are some quick notes from my thoughts on attending my first NHL games in a few years.
  • The Xcel Energy Center is a beautiful arena to watch a game in. Every seat provides great sightlines and all of the fans are very into the game.

  • Minnesota fans are very loud and love their team. Whenever the Wild scored the arena would erupt, whenever Gaborik had the puck in the offensive zone, everybody stood up in anticipation of a goal or a great play.

  • Minnesota truly is the State of Hockey.
Wild/Predators game highlights/thoughts:
-This goal by Pierre Marc Bouchard.

While he was entering the zone, it really appeared that he had no room and was going to get backed off the puck. As he moved his stick to the side, you got the sense of, oh right, what is he going to do here. And he slipped through 4 defenders. After that everyone stood up and then erupted as he roofed the goal top shelf. Everyone in the arena knew that they had just seen one fantastic goal.
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-I don't understand why overtime is only 5 minutes. Make it longer and take out the shooutout. 4 on 4 is such exciting, fast paced, back and forth hockey. It felt like every time either team had the puck in the offensive zone they could score at any minute. I was hoping to see a shootout but when Marian Gaborik sprinted up the ice to join a 2 on 1 with Pavol Demitra and then buried home the winner. Everyone stood up and gave the Wild a standing ovation, and then the team saluted the crowd, which was a nice touch.

-Thanks to the gentleman who bought us mini donuts and told us to walk over to Tom Reid's after the game. Great for some burgers and beers.

Game 2: Vancouver Canucks @ Minnesota Wild:
The last game I had attended at the Xcel Energy Center was during the 2003 playoffs, I wore my Canucks Markus Naslund jersey and was just hated everywhere I walked. Everyone looks at you different when you walk around the arena, kids came up to me and told me the Canucks sucked, we had beer spilled on us and had people get in our face and threaten to shoot us. Brent Sopel won that game in OT for the Canucks and I made it out alive.

Fast forward to 2008 it was just another regular season game between two rivals. I sat with 3 friends and we all wore various Canucks jerseys. We sang the Canadian anthem proudly and cheered loud when the Canucks scored. Unlike the previous game where there were only two Nasvhille fans in the arena, there were many Canucks fans scattered throughout the building. I even saw a guy in a Winnipeg Jets Evgeny Davydov #11 jersey (mint).

We didn't get much heckling in the arena, with exception to the few people in our hotel shuttle bus. One guy came up to me and goes "nice jersey". To which I replied, thanks and then he kept repeating "nice jersey" while proceeding to unzip his jacket revealing a Wild jersey. I could only reply, "uhhh thanks, you have a nice jersey as well..."

The Canucks won in overtime on a goal from the Sedin twins. Unlike when Gaborik scored in overtime, the bulding was silent and the only people were cheering were the various Canucks fans. We walked out of the building high fiving any Canucks fans in sight. What a great game.

I was lucky enough to see two great games at the Xcel Energy Center, would love to go back anytime. Check out my photos from the games on flickr, here
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Ballhype: hype it up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want to know why it took you so long to get to Minneapolis?? A little stop in GF at Slayen's perhaps?