Tuesday, December 29, 2015

You drove nine hours for WHAT?

On a Monday evening in March this year, Sam Wayland messaged me that she was heading to Pittsburgh later that week to pick up her friend and move her to Massachusetts. Then she said that there was a Pens game the night she arrived and she was tempted to go. After telling her how jealous I was that she was going to be there for a game, she asked if I wanted to join her. She was driving down Thursday (as in three days away), picking up the moving van Friday morning, and driving back. I laughed. How ridiculous. I’d have to request time off from the day job, only giving them two days notice, find tickets, and, oh right, rationalize with myself that driving nine hours to see a hockey game wasn’t insane…especially since I’d just started watching hockey three months before.

Yeah, it didn’t take much convincing. I might have told my manager that I had to go out of town for a last minute thing…hey, it wasn’t a lie! So tickets were purchased (row 8 behind the home bench) and we were off to Pittsburgh two days later. Try explaining to everyone that you decided to drive nine hours one way to go to a hockey game when they weren’t even playing the Bruins. I even bought a Pens t-shirt so I could blend in as a fan. Not sure I can wear that in public in Bruins country, but when in Rome…

We drove into Pittsburgh, giddy with stupid excitement, still amazed that we were actually about to go to a Pens game. Sam Wayland may be a bit of a Sidney Crosby fan. Not that I blame her. He’s not doing that great this year, but he’s typically amazing. One of the top players in the league. And I wanted to see Kris Letang in action. He had a great season last year, 54 points for a defenceman…and he’s not bad to look at! I may have fangirled…just a little.

But the arena was awesome…nicer than TD Garden in Boston. Comfy seats, yummy cheese fries, and the nicest fans. The entire arena sang the anthem. It was impressive. Why can’t we do that in Boston?

Then the game started. The Pens dominated in the first and were up 3-0 by the end of the period, getting a fourth goal in the first minute of the second period. We jumped up and cheered with every goal…you’d never know we were from Boston! Then halfway through the second period, the Oilers started scoring. Four unanswered goals. Halfway through the third period they were tied and I thought, if the Pens lose, I’ll never be able to go to a live game again, since the only other game I’d attended was the Bruins losing to Columbus.

Thankfully they scored two more goals and won the game. I don’t think I could’ve yelled louder if I’d tried. 

It was on the drive home, the next morning, in the moving truck, most likely from the delirium of driving through nowhere Pennsylvania for endless hours, that Sam and I came to the insane idea that we should go to all the other arenas. Our husbands laughed when we told them, but we are determined.

I even made a spreadsheet to track everything. My first goal is to see every team live. Much more attainable than traveling all of the US and Canada to watch hockey games! 

If you have a chance to visit the Consol Energy Center and catch a game, I highly recommend. They even give you a booklet with all the players’ stats. 

Next arena visit….Montreal! Arch rival of the Bruins!

How the Insanity Began!

A little background for you. I’m not a sports fan. I’ve never really enjoyed watching games on TV, except tennis with my husband and his best friend because there’s yelling and booze involved! And, going to game, no thanks. I’d rather be reading.

Then I became friends and critique partners with Samantha Wayland. She writes steamy ménage and M/M romances, with hockey players, that are amazingly well written and I couldn’t get enough. She’s an avid Bruins fan and suggested I watch a game. I scoffed. No thanks. I’ll stick to my books. But, then I caught a Bruins game on TV, and the speed and grace that the players have zipping around the ice when every time I’ve tried to ice skate, I manage to sprain my ankles, was awesome to watch. The pure skill in moving a rubber disk in and out of their own feet and the other players on the ice, as they skate from one end of the rink to the other. I was hooked. Baseball and football bore me, but how can you get bored when you are constantly watching the puck?

Then came the fights. Now I’m a historical romance lover, and I love a good duel, which is exactly what these men do. They stick up for their teammates. If an opponent wants to target a smaller guy on the team, his burly teammates will jump in. They have a little conversation with their opponent, drop their gloves and try to get in a few good hits before the refs break it up. An old-fashioned duel at it's finest.

I watched a few games, continued to marvel at their speed, toughness, and amazing skill on the ice, and I was obsessed. I would tell people that I was watching hockey and they’d say, it’s because of their hot bodies and great butts. It made me insane. Have you seen all that padding? How am I looking at their butts when they're on the ice. Do people say that to female fans of football or baseball, when the players’ figures are displayed in tight fitting pants? No, of course not.  But hockey…I must only like it for their asses.
Now, don’t get me wrong, they are a lot of hot men that play hockey. I love seeing them in their tailored suits before the games and in interviews, but when they’re covered from head to toe in padding and helmets, that’s when I’m mesmerized. They can even skate backwards….again, sprained my ankles just standing in skates every time!

Typical setup in my living room
So the obsession continued. I started to follow the Bruins, then added in the Penguins, the Hawks, and the Stars. Of course, I had to subscribe to NHL Game Center just to get all the games. 

I went to my first live game in January of 2015. Bruins versus Columbus. It was thrilling to be there, row ten behind Tuukka Rask, yelling at the players that I now knew the names of, hearing their skates scrap across the ice. I didn’t know where to focus so I’ll admit that I missed a lot of the game, just looking around, focusing on my favorite players (Bergeron and Marchand). Again, still hooked.

A few weeks later, I ended up going to a Pens game...in Pittsburgh...see the next post for that ridiculousness. On the drive home, we decided that we needed to experience a home game at all the arenas...all thirty. Clearly we didn’t think this through in our enthusiasm, because I’m not sure if I’m up for Edmonton, Alberta or Winnipeg, Manitoba during the winter. Do they have hotel rooms in the arena so I don’t have to actually venture out into the Western Canadian winter?

The plan is to chronicle our visits on this blog, since it will take at least ten years to complete, and I want to remember as much of each visit as I can.

You’ll also find posts about hockey romance novels, along with maybe some hot hockey player pics. That might not be the entire reason I watch, but I’m not going to lie…it’s definitely part of the appeal.