NHL: Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild

6 02 2010

As teased earlier this week, I extended my Hockey Weekend Across America activities to include my first live NHL game in over a decade.

This is going to be something of a photo essay. Buckle up.

First, the train is $4 round trip with free parking at the station. Score!

Second, I should have noted that the game started at 7:00pm, not 7:30, so despite enjoying the proximity of the train stop to the actual arena, I didn’t get to my seat until halfway through the first period. I really wanted to see the starting lineups and other rituals but will have to make it a point to arrive early next time. Here’s what I saw when I got to my gate:

Stars: First Contact

My seats were pretty good but now I know why the sales rep pushed me to buy lower level seats.

The American Airlines Center (AAC) is rather cavernous and it was hard to get into the game at first as there was lots of stimuli to process.

Ralphie! On the left, doing the radio broadcast.

Steve Ott post-fight

Rrrrrrobidas!

Razor! On the left, doing the TV broadcast.

James 'The Real Deal' Neal

I took another arena shot to drill home that the “nosebleed” seats at the Allen Event Center would be “luxury” seats at the AAC. Count about 20 rows back from the glass and that would be the approximate back row at Allen.

Huuuuge.

This was before my time, but here’s the Stanley Cup banner anyway:

Stanley Cup: They haz it

And here’s a random shot of the Ice Girls.

Dallas Stars Ice Girls

I mentioned a while back that for me, sporting events are the new concerts. The thrill that used to come from seeing actual rock stars in the same building has been replaced with the thrill of seeing actual Dallas Stars:

Loui Eriksson!

Marty Turco!

Seriously, it was so cool to walk into the AAC and look down and see Marty Freakin’ Turco right there in goal. And then look around the arena to spot my favorite players like Stephane Robidas, Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Steve Ott. It was difficult to get good photos with the blend of high-speed action and having to max out the zoom, but when I did I felt like I was collecting bugs in a jar or something. “I found a James Neal! (Click)”

Since all of my live pro hockey has been experienced with the Allen Americans, the differences at the NHL level stood out, such as how they handled ice maintenance:

Ice Girls shovelin' crew

And audience participation:

Fan Zam

Seriously, Allen needs a “Fan Zam” pronto ASAP.

As for the game:

Dallas Stars face-off

I decided to make the Stars/Wild game my first because the Stars were the Minnesota NorthStars before moving southward. I figured there was good opportunity for rivalry between old and new, however I only recognized Koivu as a player I had seen on TV prior to attending a live game. It wasn’t a game full of fighting and generally dirty play, but a good solid effort for the Stars that really helped pave over some bad NHL memories of my own.

Like: I actually saw most of the goals this time!

Dallas goal scored by number 14, Jamie Benn

I also understood what I was watching! (That’s a huge help.)

Dallas won 4-2, and I was glad I got to see a Stars win, but either way, despite going to the game alone I decided that I was going to be fully engaged in the experience. I clapped until my hands hurt. I cheered until my throat hurt. And when the Stars scored a goal, even though I’m sick to death of that song, I pumped my fist in the air and shouted the “HEY!” with the “Rock & Roll Part 2” audio clip.

March is going to be chock full of live hockey games for me, and with any luck, maybe I’ll get someone else to go with me to a Stars game.

The Stars game experience made me appreciate what we’ve got with the Allen Americans. Sure, they’re not the NHL, but the value is astounding and the play is exciting more often than not. Plus it’s a shorter drive home. And inside of a month, I saw Jamie and Jordie Benn score pro hockey goals.

But Allen can’t compete with “it’s time for a Dallas Staaaaaaaaaars POWER PLAY!”

Fortunately, neither could Minnesota.

Stars win, Stars win

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