Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hockey Blog // Our First Hockey Game :: Springfield Falcons 1, Hershey Bears 5

Some time back when we went to the Rock Cats baseball game which was Rocky's Birthday Party all of these other mascots showed up and we met both Sonar, the mascot for the Hartford Wolfpac and Screech, the mascot for the Springfield Falcons and they are apparently rival teams as they as so close to each other though in different states.    And so we had a chance to attend the opening night of the Springfield Falcons and I had never been to a hockey game before (Gina has been to Wolfpack games before we were married) and this would also be a first for Quentin and I do believe firmly in the idea of exposing children to most everything to see what they like, at least when it comes to sports.    I don't really watch too many sports outside of baseball, but if that was all we ever showed Quentin, who knows, maybe he has the making of a great soccer player or something.

There was also a block party from 4 to 6 before the game, which was scheduled to start at 7.    We made it to the arena around 5 and it was nice because there really is a lot right across from it where parking is only $7.   It was a bit tricky to get into because of the block party taking over the road but on nights when there isn't a block party it isn't as bad I'd assume.     The block party had food, live music, a rock climbing wall, a table set up to buy Falcons shirts and hats and a few other things but it wasn't quite as big as I imagined though there were a lot more people there than I thought there would be.    We walked around and checked things out first, and at one table you could enter to win $25,000 but they also were giving away beads with a Falcons logo on it so we picked those up and wore those around for the whole game.

Now I don't go to a lot of live sporting events and the ones that I do tend to be... How shall I say this... Well, when you look at something like the Yale football games, it's not expected that even parents of the players show up in Yale sweaters or something, you know.   But by far, this was the most people I had ever seen at a sporting event with the team on in terms of the t-shirts, sweaters and of course hockey jerseys.    At Rock Cats games you'd get a handful of people or so who wore something Rock Cats related other than a hat, but these hockey fans seemed to be die-hard, like the way that a baseball hat is something you *must* wear to a baseball game these fans *had* to wear their jerseys to the hockey game.   I did find it kind of cool that there were so many people in Falcons gear though as it at least made it seem as if the fan base was supportive.

Eventually we made our way inside and walked around.   We had no trouble picking our tickets up from will call and no troubles getting in either, though they did search my wife's purse but I assume a lot of hockey fans try to sneak in outside booze and there is no outside food or drink allowed.    We made laps around the arena and continued to see the Falcons President way too many times.    They had a merchandise table set up but we were informed that the shop they had there was closed during games for some reason so we went over to the table and purchased a pack of trading cards from last season, a puck Quentin picked out himself and a small hockey stick Quentin also picked out.   I figured that if you get a souvenir baseball for your first baseball game then a hockey puck felt right here.    They had a few different designs so we let Quentin choose.

On a side note: the Falcons team set of trading cards was from last season and I kept thinking they'd have a new team set for opening night but since they were establishing their roster right up until opening night it makes sense that they didn't.   The Rock Cats don't get their new team set in until maybe two months after their season starts.   I've always kind of wondered why people would buy the team set from last season at a Rock Cats game in the sense of "something is better than nothing", and yet here I am, buying last year's team set at a Falcons game where the same could be said.   Only one player in the team set remains but I really like the look of the cards and just enjoy trading cards overall so it doesn't bother me that the set is seemingly outdated.    Somehow though, this also made me wonder what the Yard Goats were going to do next season- if they'd still sell old Rock Cats team sets or not.

Before the game started we did manage to get a picture with Screech, who we also not only got a photo with on Rocky's Birthday but got the signed 8x10.    We were sitting in Section 9, seats 1, 2 and 3 and at one point a security/usher type had to tell us to move because even though we were sitting in front of a giant "9" we were apparently in Section 10.   While this was confusing I was okay with it because originally we were right next to a tunnel and people kept coming in and just standing there so I was glad to end up being away from that mess.   This one guy was literally standing there during the entire warmups like he didn't have seats but obvioulsy he had to have a ticket to get in so why wouldn't he sit down was beyond me.

The game itself was pretty fun until the crushing blows of defeat.   When the Falcons were down 4-1 a lot of people began to leave.   When the fifth goal was scored against them a family behind us left, the boy with them saying "It's over, they're not coming back" as he left.   But hockey is a lot of edge-of-your-seat excitement in a way.   When the team you're cheering for- which is usually the home team- gets near the goal everyone has this collective sense of "Awwwwwhhhhhhhhh" when a shot is taken but missed.   There were also quite a bit of boo's when the opposing team scored.    It's fast paced, back and forth but not hard to keep up with but yet quickly moving enough so that you don't ever just stare at the clock and get bored.    The three periods seemingly flew by even though the time in between kind of dragged at times.

My biggest complaint with the game- which is one of those things you can't avoid in professional sports these days- is that they did a lot of talking over the game.   I don't remember his name, but the Falcons have a hype guy who would go into the crowd and talk to fans or whatever, but he was always seemingly doing that at the worst moments during the game.   And whoever was in charge of the replays/recaps also needed to really get their act together.   The only goal the Falcons scored was immediately after a Bears goal and the Jumbotron was too focused on that Bears goal to even notice what was going on with the Falcons-- their own team.   When someone was put in the penalty box (and that happened a lot) the Falcons would be on a "power play" if it wasn't one of their guys and if it was one of their guys they'd be on a "penalty kill", but both of these were sponsored by different groups.   I'm not going to give them credit- nor do I remember them even- but it's kind of obnoxious to hear "The Falcons are on a Wendy's Power Play" during a game or just in general.   The idea of "Shut up and let them play hockey" comes to mind a lot.

When we were leaving the attendants in the garage were actually directing traffic which made it nice (and easier) to get out, so totally worth the $7 but I couldn't help but feel like there was something different about a hockey crowd compared to other games I've been to recently.   They're not quite the same as baseball fans, but I can't quite put my finger on what makes them different.     The fans just had this feeling to them, like... I don't know.   Just imagine an arena full of people who were like Dante and Randall from the Kevin Smith movies and you'd be pretty close to what it was like.    There were two guys behind us who I actually thought were Dante and Randall and I kept waiting for them to use a word Kevin Smith uses a lot in his movies, but all I got was one of them dropping a n-bomb (And this, despite beforehand us being informed anyone using objectionable language would be thrown out of the arena)

While I might not drive to Springfield again to see the Falcons lose (sorry) I wouldn't mind going to a Wolfpack game one day if the opportunity presented itself as such.   I know that there are three Wolfpack games which come up in January with giveaways of t-shirts, trading cards and OYO figures so any of those might be worth a go, but we also just have to see how Quentin feels and I do believe he's more excited to go to a game no matter where it is.    I also kind of want to take a weekend trip to Hershey to see the Hershey Bears play and of course go for the chocolate as well.    The thing is that tickets are at least $20 for adults and then $5 for kids, so we'd be paying $45 to go back if we can't get any sort of discount again like we did this time.    Though, for a free team set which I could value at $8, that'd be a fair trade in some ways so the Wolfpack games might be where it's at.   And by the end of the Wolfpack season they'll probably be giving away tickets like I kind of remember them doing last season.    But, yes, Quentin did seem to have fun as he was able to watch either the ice or Jumbotron and hockey is something we should be doing again but not as season ticket holders or anything.  Maybe a few games a season at most, but what fun it will be.

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