Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hockey Night in Michigan

Last night good fortune shone on me. My sister-in-law came into unexpected possession of her company's season tickets to last night's Detroit Red Wings game, and thus I found myself yesterday evening with her and John in seats six feet from the glass in Joe Louis Arena. I confess I know almost nothing about hockey and wouldn't even consider myself a Red Wings fan (though I was the only one of the three of us who wore anything red) but the excitement of being that close to the action on the ice was infectious. Our seats were located by a side face-off circle near one of the goals so we were able to see a great deal of goal-area scuffling. The first time two players hit the boards in front of me I was startled by how loud it was. The floor under my seat shook with the impact. I could barely follow the action; the puck moved too fast and I would often find myself staring at the person whom I thought had the puck only to find a whole different set of people were fighting over it in another area. I gave up trying to follow what was going on strategically and just watched the players move up and down the ice. It was like waves rocking back and forth: a cluster of people swept past, bunched up around one goal, then someone broke away and headed for the other end of the ice and everyone followed only to cluster around the other goal. Back and forth, gliding, ice shaved by skate blades fanning into the air, the frantic clacking of sticks as five guys fought over the puck, resounding thuds as people went into the boards, the earsplitting crack when the puck itself hit the glass, huge pileups in front of the goal as everyone in the arena started screaming, enormous guys turned freakishly nimble on narrow strips of metal.

The mood when we arrived was subdued because the Wings were down 2-0. At the end of the second period they were still down 2-1. Then the Calgary Flames scored another goal in the third period, putting them up 3-1. However, the Wings scored two more goals, tying the game and sending it into overtime, to the delight of the crowd, which had gotten more vocal and feisty as the game wore on (probably because everyone was on their second or third beer, or, in the case of the obnoxious loudmouth a few rows behind us, fourth or fifth). Overtime ended in sudden death in the Wings' favor when Nicklas Lidstrom sent a huge blast into the goal right in front of us and the place erupted. Detroit 4, Calgary 3.

Beer snob alert: when we arrived, our first stop was at one of the booze-dispensing stations near our section. I scanned the available beer options and decided I would not stoop to the level of Miller Lite or Molson. If those were my only choices, I would rather not have anything at all than force myself to drink that swill. I have standards, darn it! Excessively high standards, some might argue, but my mantra is "Life is too short to drink bad beer." However, later on, I discovered a different place that had Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat on draft so I had a big cup of that. It wasn't truly ideal but it was better than Miller Lite (shudder).

The only other Red Wings game I have ever been to was also courtesy of my sister-in-law; in that case, we were in a corporate suite up in the rafters of the building where the food was free and all-you-can-eat and the bar was open (and all-you-can-drink...hoo boy) but the view was not so great. I must say I preferred being down on the floor close enough to smell the grime on the players' uniforms, even if it meant paying $8.75 for one beer (that was supposed to be 24 ounces but there was no way that cup was 24 ounces. More like 18. 20, maximum).

We caught glimpses of ourselves on the Jumbotron a couple of times. Mostly, though, the Jumbotron was showing, during non-action moments, what John dubbed "JiggleVision." I'll let you speculate as to why.

Best of all, we got out of the parking garage and were on the Lodge Freeway heading north in less than 10 minutes. It was awesome!

In other news, this weekend I'm running the Holiday Hustle 5K in Dexter. Time is quickly running out on both my tenure in the 30-34 age group as well as opportunities to Shave my 5K Stubble Time more than the nine seconds I already shaved.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I used to love hockey. I watched the Flyers whenever they were on TV and played every chance I got. Being a fat tub as a youngster, but with quick reflexes, I was naturally stuck in the goal. But I was good at it.

My brother was so convinced I'd make the NHL that he spent $50 of the money he made as a paperboy to buy me my first real goalie pads.

Geez, what an idiot! Generous, but idiotic! Like I had a chance.

I am embarrased to admit that I used to drink Miller Lite. LOOOOOONG ago. You're too young to remember the time when there was little choice w/r/t American beers, and Miller Lite was not appreciably worse than the other swill that was around.

Thank god the Pacific Northwest revived American beers. Otherwise ...

Well, one shudders to think of the "otherwise".

Still, given the choice between Mil.Lt. and no beer, I'd probably drink the former.

But not for 9 bucks!

Nitmos said...

I saw that game on TV. Great ending. Don't remember seeing you in the crowd shots though. Sure you were there?

tfh said...

Sounds like fun. I do miss that scent of ice hockey arena grime and sweat and rubber.

BeachRunner said...

Sounds like a blast. Lets Go Rangers.

B. Kramer said...

I saw the Red Wings play an exhibition game at the Richfield Coliseum many moons ago.

Tyger Lily said...

First time commenter (I think, LOL) long time lurker.

First off, I am a hockey newbie and just LOVE THIS GAME! I am from Hawaii so my friends think this is quite unusual. Anyway, whatever, just wanted to say just reading this post made my heart race and cheer for the home team! Sounds like a great game!

Mike Fox said...

The hockey tix sound great! I had season tickets for UofM during their '91-'92 season - my seats at Yost were 5 rows off of the blue line.

Sun Runner said...

GQH-- Still, given the choice between Mil.Lt. and no beer, I'd probably drink the former. But not for 9 bucks!

That was my thought exactly. There was NO WAY I was going to cough up almost $9 for bad beer. In the real world ("not at a sports arena") if I pay $9 for one beer it better be freaking awesome, like a Rochefort 12 or an Allagash Curieux or some kind of barleywine.

Viper-- Ah, yes, the Richfield Coliseum. I saw Billy Joel in concert there in 1990.

Mike-- Go Blue!! (that's just for Viper.)