NHL Action on New Year’s Eve
January 5, 2012 § 5 Comments
I must confess, when my father emailed me to see if I wanted 4 tickets to the Penguins/Devils game in New Jersey on the 31st, my reaction was less than intelligent. I typed out “YYYYYEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS fij4th349hfwiancakcn!!!!!!!!!!!”
Don’t worry. I deleted all that and emailed him back with a “YES PLEASE” response that was (more or less) in English.
So there we were: me, my little brother Pete, my mother, and our friend Renata, driving through the bowels of Newark on New Year’s Eve afternoon. We had arrived about a half hour before warms-ups, because we wanted to allow time in case we hit traffic. I snapped a picture of Pete outside the Prudential Center and then we made our way inside. The afternoon sun streamed through the windows and highlighted all the Devils-jersey-wearing fans. There were a lot of those, but I was pleasantly surprised by the number of Penguins fans I saw in attendance as well. Maybe I wouldn’t get beaten up when I cheered! Pete and I high-fived each other upon reaching our seats in the 7th row by the Devil’s offensive zone goal. We raced down to the glass and took a few more pictures, which all came out lopsided because I was so excited (and Pete is short and I’m tall, so you know, it’s not that easy!).
When the game began, it became apparent to me that Pete was not about to sit quietly by and let all the Devils fans intimidate him. He matched them yell for yell. In fact, I had to keep yanking on his jacket because every time the Penguins did anything exciting, he jumped up out of his seat. The two (very nice) gentlemen behind us chuckled over his eagerness. The experience of Pete’s first NHL game was heightened by getting to witness a penalty shot in the 1st period. Brooks Orpik of the Pens was whistled for closing his hand over the puck in the crease (I thought it was a questionable call, myself.) Unfortunately for us journeyers, Ilya Kovalchuk scored to make it 1-0 and then the Devils scored again on a power-play near the end of the first. Marty Brodeur was making some amazing saves for the Devils, as well, and I thought that even though he was making them on my team, it was still pretty amazing to see a Hall of Fame goalie like that in action. Stacking the pads, flashing his glove… Actually, he and Fleury were battling it out with tremendous saves. Too bad the Pens didn’t have an answer for Brodeur’s wall. I was growing rather frustrated and kept having to restrain myself from yelling as I would normally do at the WBS Penguins games. Pete did not share my restraint. 13 year old boys at sporting events are loud.
Lots of special teams in this game and there were a few more questionable calls (unlike John Tortorella, I do NOT coach in the NHL and am therefore allowed to insult the refs without fear of reprimands or a $30K fine.) In the end, the Devils prevailed over the Penguins with a 3-1 victory, including an empty net goal. Even though we lost, it was so awesome to be able to see an NHL game again. Everything is just that much faster and smoother than our AHL games. The Devils had a great fireworks display going on after the game in the parking lot, to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Watching the lights explode and sparkle over our heads was the perfect way to end this road trip!
(Mom drove the whole way home. Pete and I slept. Score!)