Today is Hockey Day in Canada, which is my favorite holiday. I love watching (thank you, NHL Center Ice) the Hockey Night in Canada crew bringing the game, and all its faces–young, old, pro, amateur, boys, and girls–to show how wonderfully rich the game makes Canada (and those of us who are hockey mad, if not Canadian).
My hockey day started with a special event courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers. As a season ticket holder, I put my name in the hat to be a so-called “Benchwarmer.” About 10 days ago I got a call from the Flyers that I’d won the lottery and would be allowed to sit on the Flyers bench during warmups for today’s Flyers game. When I mentioned I had only one seat, but would like to bring arena neighbors, they were kind enough to let me bring two.
So today I was joined by my friend Mickey Melchiondo of Ween (site warning! occasionally inappropriate for youth) and his friend George for our adventure in benchwarming. After tromping down into the bowels of the Wachovia Center, we walked down the tunnel to the bench. We were warned to stay seated on the bench, in order to avoid being high sticked by passing players.
As we settled in, we and the other Benchwarmers took pictures of each other, wearing our excited little kid faces. It was funny to see us all, feet dangling (the bench is, rather logically, extra high, to accommodate legs that end in skates).
Soon the Flyers followed our path down the tunnel and burst onto the ice. Even though my regular seat is just four rows from the ice, there’s something special about being on the same side of the glass as the big boys. And my in their skates (heck even in their mocassins) they’re BIG BOYS.
As expected, the players were spread out, some skating, some stretching. My favorites, the Finns (suomolainen–I’m learing Finnish one word at a time), parked right in front of me to stretch and talk (to each other). And right away I ran to the end of a roll and, horrors, couldn’t get the film to release (yes, I still have an SLR–I’m a photography Luddite). I missed most of the opportunity to shoot the stationary while sorting that out.
Finally I did get reloaded, in time for drills. George and I both broke out the “they look like a swarm of bees” line at the same time (he owed me, not a Coke, but a bourbon for that jinx). Joffrey Lupul, coming back from a recent spine injury, had a lot of jump in warmup (and later, in the game). My favorite old Flyer, Sami Kapanen swarmed at our part of the hive. But sadly, my favorite new Flyer, Mike Richards was on the other side of the ice.
It was over far too soon. And there we were, trooping back up the tunnel and up the stairs. We were so jazzed, we expected the whole day to keep on track. Unfortunately, the warmup was the best part of the day. The Flyers seem to be in a funk. No jump, feeble shots, muffed passes, just nothing going right. Well, the goalkeeper, Marty Biron, didn’t have a bad day. But losing 2-0 to a journeyman goaltender (letting that guy shut them out for the second time this year) just wasn’t in our plan.
Fortunately, my live in boyfriend, TiVo, had the Hockey Day in Canada waiting for me. So the hockey day has turned around again. Happy holiday!