03 March 2010

Humpty Dance Hump Day.

BULLETIN ALERT NUMBER ONE: If you're attending the Herm 2 Hockeytown pregame party at Hockeytown Cafe and haven't paid Jen, do so NOW. You have until this Friday, March 5th, unless you simply want us to pour one out for you in your absence.

BULLETIN ALERT NUMBER TWO: If you haven't seen this already, hop on over to The Production Line, where our pals have encouraged us all to open our wallets one more time to give to the kiddies. Go ahead and pledge $2 per goal for a game or two--or pledge to pay up if your favorite player succeeds. Or, come up with a complicated combination of both and drive Petrella crazy like someone who will not be mentioned did. I'm...ashamed...

A change of pace, eh? We're well on our way to exhausting the alliterative "W", so why not give hump day a try? (That's what we said.)

Today's question:

Which in-person hockey experience has the most meaning for you, and why?

This can be a game you attended, a game you played, or, if you've never been to a live hockey game, it can be your hopes and dreams for your first in-person experience (and we hope it'll be when you join us for some H2H magic).

I didn't have to think long about my answer. I've been to three games at the Joe, and while each was a special experience, I have to choose my very first hockey game as the memory that means the most to me.

It was February 16, 2007, a Friday night, during my first, epic trip to visit Brian in Omaha. I did not follow hockey at the time, nor did I know much about it beyond what I saw in passing during the Olympics. Brian, meanwhile, had been a fan since childhood, so while we were planning my first trip out there, he tentatively mentioned catching a University of Nebraska at Omaha game. I say "tentatively" because Brian had made a tremendously sweet effort to plan things that would be special for me, as it was my first time visiting Nebraska, and he wanted to make sure I enjoyed everything on our agenda.

My thought process for deciding whether I wanted to go was simple:

1. Do I get to act a fool via cheering?
2. Subsequently, do you embarrass easily?

Number two was necessary because we were still in the wee days of our relationship, and we didn't have a breadth of in-person experience with one another (read: we'd been on exactly two dates and a handful of group outings before he moved to another time zone).

Needless to say, I opted to go to the game.

The UNO Mavericks took on the Ohio State Buckeyes that night. The first thing that comes to mind when I remember this night is falling in love with the game on the spot. The raucous, electric atmosphere that accompanies most college sports was palpable, only imagine taking an enthusiastic Saturday afternoon at a college football stadium (say, 'Hoos v. the motherfucking Hokies, and I sure am looking at you, Mr. Norris Trophy) and multiplying it by a hundred because the fans are so much closer to the action and to one another. The excitement of what was happening on the ice, combined with the crowd's energy, the mix of gracefulness and aggressiveness, and the sheer beauty of seeing a goal scored: How could I resist falling in love with hockey?

Furthermore, I discovered that night that hockey fans are awesome. During the second intermission, I made friends with the gentlemen sitting to my left; recognizing my hillfolk twang as not exactly being Nebraskan, they asked where I was from, to which I replied, "West Virginia." They then proceeded to tell me about the time thirty years ago when they went to "Reston, Virginia," a suburb of DC, for job training and how their training hadn't allowed enough time for them to tour the capital itself. Normally, the failure of my conversation companions to recognize the Dub-Vee as its own state irreversibly shrivels a portion of my soul; this time, however, I recognized something important about my hockey brethren: They will talk to anyone about anything. Why? Because we instantly recognize one another as kickass human beings, simply from the preliminary knowledge that we prioritize our life as follows:

1. Sex
2. Hockey
3. Food
4. Interpersonal relationships
5. Kids
6. Gainful employment
7. Sanitary awareness of one's own person

And you know, it really works out well: For example, if a hockey game is on, but you've missed dinner, you tough it out until intermission. If a hockey game is on and you realize you haven't showered in four days, tough shit. Go big or go the fuck home. If your children don't understand the value of getting the fuck out of the way of the TV during overtime, guess who's going to stay at Grandma's for a week or ten? That's right: Unless it's hot, rabid sex which warrants DVR-ing the game for later viewing, nothing gets between hockey fans and the game.

Bottom line: That game changed my life. It started the course that brought me to this point, presenting you with blather and sharing the Red Wings love. Not to mention it brought the relationship between the other half of TSO and myself to another dimension--since my conversion, we enjoy the sport together, as fans. (Obviously, we're not encouraging the merging of all hobbies/interests with those of your significant other; the After-School Special Department of TSO encourages us to remind you to maintain your own identity for the duration of all romantic endeavors. For fuck's sake, do you really think I make myself suffer through Ballin' B's horrible audio compilation of the Shins' greatest hits?)


  1. ummm.. ummm.. That's a frickin hard one Natalie. My Norwegian junior hockey championships was cool, but I played very little in the final. There were other games, other times on ice, my first hockey game was sure important as it started my career, but I don't really remember it.

    So, I will have to go for the (two half) day(s) I met Scotty Bowman back in 96, when he coached us, talked to us and lead us in practice. I was already rooting for the Wings, but that made me a die hard for life.

  2. My best hockey game experience has probably got to be the away games I've gone to. It was a weekend series for our D1 college team, and it was a blast. There was about 80 fans there for our school compared to about 4500 home team fans, and we were just as loud as they were. Also, with the way the arena was set up, we had to walk right past the visitors (so our) locker room to get to our seats, and we would talk to the guys before they headed out on the ice. It's not a huge school, and we're basement in our league, but it was so cool, because they beat a high ranked team the first night we were there. It felt like the fans had willed them to a win. It made me love hockey even more than I already did.

  3. OK, this is going to make me look silly, but it's what I have.

    As I mentioned in a recent Wednesday Question, I became a hockey fan during the 2002 playoffs. The first live hockey game I attended was the opening game of the 2002-03 hockey season, Avs vs. Stars at the Pepsi Center. (Disclaimer: I live in Colorado. Don't hate me.) The game went into overtime tied 1-1. After five minutes, they stopped playing and everyone got up to go home! I was so confused. Why was everyone leaving? A tie game?? What?? All I had known up to that point was the playoffs, where there are obviously no ties, so I had NO IDEA that regular season games could end in a tie!

    Maybe this is why I hate ties so much. Maybe this is why I think the shootout, whatever its flaws, is still better than a tie. Although I completely support using the Olympic hockey point system in the NHL - regulation wins should be worth more than overtime wins.

    Anyway, I fully expect that I will have a new most memorable hockey game when H2H finally gets here. I have never been to the Joe and am really looking forward to it!!

  4. 2007 Playoffs versus the Ducks. Wings won. The tickets were a birthday present from my brother who neglected to stop at an ATM until we got to the Joe. The ATMs were all empty so I had to buy the beer. It was perfect.

    Speaking of W.VA, one of my best friends is from Sistersville, West By God. I have no idea if that's in your general vicinity.

  5. Ok, first to address the music - One of these days, you will learn to like the Shins. they're great!

    Anyway, break out the sappy meter....

    My best in person hockey memory is the same game as Natalie's, and maybe for similar reasons. But as she stated we met and hung out for a bit before I headed out to Nebraska. She was coming out to visit and I was super nervous. I wanted to plan a bunch of stuff she would enjoy, but also share with her things I liked.....well, hockey! I'd never known anyone who actually LIKED hockey (um, its not really big in WV). I was soooooooooooooo nervous she would hate it.....but she didnt. She took to it like the little blogger you see before you. So that game is my favorite in person experience because in addition to it being a great, high energy game, it also showed that she was awesome, and for the first time, someone gave something I liked a chance...

    I'll fill in for you - awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

  6. Let's see.....

    I'm going to give this disclaimer first, I have never attended a Wings game and sat in the Upper Bowl. There I said it. Having said that, some of my most memorable games:

    -Chris Prongers 1,000th game, just special. Ah, the booing.

    -Game 2, finals last year, Swamp Crotch night, awesome.

    -Last season, vs. the Vagalanche, Ian LaPierrier shooting pucks at my face through the WHOLE warmups. Sweet. What is UP with players doing that? It wasn't the first or last time it's happened.

    -My personal favorite, '08 playoffs vs. the Vagalanche, some dude comes running down the steps during the special presentation they do before playoff games, opens up his jacket and pulls out the BIGGEST FUCKING OCTOPUS I HAVE EVER SEEN and proceeds to chuck it over the glass and onto the ice. Well there were huge chunks of ice clinging to the octopus and one of those chunks hit me in the eye. I end up with one hell of a shiner, which I have to explain to family, coworkers, and friends. I told everybody that it was from a flying octopus. The most awesomest thing that has happened to me in my life. This was the game where Cody McCloud tossed the small octopus back into the crowd.

    -Every game vs. the Penguins I attended last season, it feels good to scream at Princess Cindy to shut the fuck up.

  7. Just two things on West Virginia:
    1. That country road, take me home song is enough for me to kinda hate W.Va, but you guys have made that hatred go away with your awesomeness.
    2. My mom had some prof when she stuied in North Dakota, that had been the first West Virginian or first from his part of W.Va with a doctor's degree. Classy :P

  8. WingedUP, that is AWESOME. That's exactly why I wish there was a college with a serious hockey program nearby--the atmosphere is just so much fun. Even if you don't necessarily have a vested interest in either team, it would be damn near impossible not to have fun sitting in a college arena.

    Jenn, I hear you on a tie; it just makes things anticlimactic. We need a sense of closure in order to move on. It's exciting to know that this will be your first game at the Joe (I didn't realize that before I read your comment)! We are going to have a blast.

    Herm, you mean H2H isn't going to rank 48th or 49th on your list of favorite hockey games? :)

    Krononymous, buying the brew is a nice tradeoff, though, isn't it? That's awesome that you have a wild and wonderful WV friend. Sistersville is actually on the opposite side of the state, along the Ohio border; I think it's near Marietta, OH. We live in the Eastern Panhandle, sandwiched between MD/PA and VA. Our state is very odd, geographically speaking.

    Brian, you know what I love? NOBODY stepped up to join you in the Shins' lovefest. Take THAT!

    Dena, that's fantastic that you booed for Pronger's 1000th game. What else could you possibly do in a situation like that? My favorite thing you mentioned by far is that you got a black eye due to "flying octopus." If you had told me that, and I wasn't privy to the Wings' playoff tradition, I would just assume that's a euphemism for some really kinky thing you did that you don't want to have to explain.

    Andy, thanks for calling us awesome, even though your dissing of John Denver is tantamount to sacrilege 'round these parts. Oh, and regarding the doctor...we here in the Mountain State don't really emphasize medicine. That's what white lightning's for.

  9. hehe.. John Denver's version is tolerable. The techno version on the other hand...

    I mean't doctor as in a PhD (in law).

  10. West Virginians don't believe in techno, either.

    Oh, law? Awesome. We don't need that, either, because nobody prosecutes the moonshiners.

  11. hahaha... If I don't remember wrong, Sherrif Roscoe tries to

  12. My all time greatest hockey experience was pretty similar to yours, except I was on the Ice. It was only 3 weeks ago too, I had just started dating my now girlfriend. Our first date had gone really well. I took her to the rink to take her Ice Skating for the first time ever, my genius plan that encouraged hand holding from the get go. She expressed a lot of interest in my Hockey playing so I invited her to go to my game. She had never seen a hockey game before... unless you count the Mighty Ducks movies.

    I had 2 games that weekend, 1 Saturday and 1 Sunday. I didn't know if she'd enjoy it or be bored so I just invited her to Saturday. As soon as I got off the ice she bum rushed me and said she wanted to go to my game the next day. Sunday is where the magic happened. I had someone in the crowd cheering me on for the first time ever. Our team scored a franchise record 5 goals that day(Yeah, we suck... but we're getting better). It was the best hockey experience I've ever had.

  13. Natalie,

    I just finished listening to the Humpty Dance, I still can't believe I remember the words. I shall now dig through my extensive music collection to find "Hey we want some pussy" and the "The fuck shop" by 2live crew. They were much dirrrtier (with 3 r's) and during the same time frame. Good Times.

  14. Sorry Brian, I forgot to mention that another of my good friends also likes/loves the Shins but she's from Albuquerque where I believe it is required by law. As she is known to lurk around on this site, she my just have to proclaim her Shin love.

  15. Crater, that is adorable. We at TSO are happy for you! Good luck with your relationship--there's not much more that's important in a significant other than being supportive.

    Dena, that may very well be the greatest comment ever posted at TSO. I was getting burned out on coming up with alliterative musicians/song titles for Wednesdays, anyway, so I think now I may just do sexually explicit and/or innuendo-laden tunes. Because in addition to supporting all romantic endeavors (see above addressed to Crater), we here at TSO also support all balls-deep endeavors.

    Krononymous, you sold me out! I should have kept my big mouth shut... :)