Thursday, January 8, 2009

Night In The "D"

Trenton High School has a tremendous hockey program. In Trenton (and other Downriver communities) kids are skating before they can walk, it seems. (I heard rumors that coaches are trying to figure out a way to train the kids to skate in-utero, but I digress.) Anyhow, they are literally playing as little kids. Little kids grow up and become very good hockey players. Scores of good hockey players at the high school level win State Championships often. For awhile, it was news when Trenton didn't win States. Such is the Cliff Notes version of hockey in Trenton.

But, even though they dominate state-level hockey on a regular basis, I never went to a single game. Not once. Ever. I wasn't a part of the high school social scene like others and I certainly wasn't there to cheer on the team - after all, they never cheered me when I was taking a Chem II exam.

So, the inside of a hockey arena was totally foreign to me. Yes, I had been to arenas for concerts and such, but never a game.

A few nights ago that all changed. I found it rather fitting that my first ever hockey game would be at Joe Louis Arena watching the Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup Champions. My sister's friend's neighbor had four tickets. They (my sister Rebecca, Susan, and her husband Ron) needed a fourth body for the fourth ticket and I got the invite.

Dinner was at Fishbone's in Greektown. Parking was a breeze. The atmosphere was great and the food was, too. A burger and nachos were ideal. The menu had plenty of Cajun food but I was not up for that. The Gumbo Ya-Ya would have been Gumbo Oh-No if I had eaten it. It is that nuclear stuff that would clear out even the most congested sinuses (or worse).

Fishbones had the shuttle (an old bus) to Joe Louis Arena and we were there by game time. Sure, I could tell you the section and seat number, but what does that really mean? Basically, we were 16 rows back over the goalie's left shoulder. $80 dollars seats, as I understand it.

The opposition? The Columbus Bluejackets. The game was scoreless after two periods, but that was when Mike Babcock, coach of the Red Wings, came over to us.
"Paul, we seem to be a little flat here..."
"Yeah, I'll say. You need to control the puck better inside the blueline and shut down their offense. Get with it."
"Any chance you can lace up and give us a hand?"
"Aw, thanks, Mike, but I'm enjoying myself here with family, friends, and this $149 beer that I didn't even pay for. I'm good."
"Okay, cool, thanks, Paul."
"Anytime, Mike."
The Wings broke it open in the third period and went on to win 3-0. I'm still waiting for my consultant's fee.

All in all, a very fun evening! No rowdy, drunk idiots. The seats immediately in front of us where empty allowing us a better view of the game and it was not as cold in the arena as I expected (though it did get chilly in between periods when everyone went outside for some "fresh air" (ie: smoking)). I also found it much more challenging to follow the puck.

While the players skated on the ice during the game, we skated on ice after the game. A freezing rain had settled in a some point after the night started. Getting to the car was tricky. So tricky, one us slipped, but I won't mention any names (Rebecca). We managed to get home just fine.

Thanks, Rebecca, Susan, and Ron for including me in such a fun evening! Yet again, I was reminded of something I have noted a few times in the last few years - there are things to do in Detroit and I should get there more often.


Nuthatch said...

Yes, Wings games have the most well-dressed and well-behaved sports fans in Detroit, though no less passionate. Like soccer, hockey is much more fun to watch in person.

Lora said...

Watch out... hockey is like cocaine- highly addictive!