Yesterday, my friend Paige took me to Madison Square Garden for my third lifetime NHL game.
I had told her I really wanted a puck, so we got there in time for warmups–but she warned me that pucks are tough and that I shouldn’t assume I’d get one.
But she was right. It wasn’t a puck-rich environment. The entire warmup session lasted just 15 minutes, and the players were busy warming up–what a concept!–as opposed to all the standing around and interacting that takes place during batting practice.
We were on the Devils’ side because, to put it lightly, Paige is frighteningly obsessed with the Devils. Fine by me. There were fewer fans, and anyway, it’s not like I was there to see the Rangers. I couldn’t even name anyone on the Rangers…except Jagr, whose first name I still can’t spell. I knew a couple guys on the Devils just from hearing Paige talk about them, and she helped me identify the rest as they skated by.
It’s funny. For several days, I knew I’d be going to this game, and for several days, I’d been fantasizing about getting a puck–and yet I did nothing to increase my chances. I didn’t buy a Devils hat or even print their roster, basic strategies for baseball games that certainly would’ve helped here. Because I didn’t look around and study the nooks and crannies, some other guy was able to come from behind me and snatch a puck that got caught in the protective netting right above the plexi-glass.
That really pissed me off, so I started shouting at every player for a puck. No way I was gonna get shut out after wasting such an easy opportunity.
Of course, Paige first had to identify them for me.
“What’s Pandolfo’s first name?!”
“What about Ahonen?!”
“Scott!!!” I shouted before he had a chance to skate away. “Can I have a puck?!”
I felt like an idiot asking for pucks because I was the only one asking, and the players weren’t responding. This was the first time I’d ever been to warmups. I didn’t know what was appropriate, or if the players even gave pucks away, but Paige was encouraging me. In this case, however, a loose puck happened to slide over to Gomez just as I’d made my request. He grabbed it and turned around and flipped it over the glass right to me–my first NHL puck!
It was wet and ice cold. That shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. The logo was partially worn off, but Paige and I were able to make out most of the lettering, starting with “OFFICIAL PRACTICE PUCK” at the top. I was absolutely psyched.
Warmups ended a few minutes later, and Paige led the way to our “limited view” seats in the top deck, limited because we had to lean all the way forward to see over the railing in the front row.
I had a million questions, mostly about the rules, and Paige answered them all. The game was totally entertaining, at least for me. Unfortunately for Paige, the Devils lost, 3-2, on a sudden death shootout. (Such violence.)
• CPP = 27.00
• 3 lifetime games
• 1 puck
• 0.33 pucks per game
• 1 consecutive game with at least 1 puck
• 1 total puck moves me ahead of some schmo and into 10,000th place on the all-time goals list.
I’m on my way…