My First Ever Flyers’ Game

“Your first Flyers’ Game?!” you may ask, questioning my fandom. “But you old!” Yes, being a Flyers’ fan not from the Philadelphia area or even the United States it is quite difficult to make it out to the games. In fact, my first time attending a NHL game was last year when I saw the Flames host the Los Angeles Kings. To understand why I had never been to an NHL game you have to first know that I’m from Inverness, Nova Scotia. This means that the closest NHL team is the Boston Bruins and it’s an awfully long 1200km drive through desperate looking places like New Brunswick, Maine and New Hampshire to get there (745 miles for you weirdos in the US, just use the metric system already).

Now that I’m living in Calgary however, NHL games are a luxury I can afford and my parents got the idea to give me Flyers vs. Flames tickets for Christmas. My girlfriend had actually given me tickets for my birthday as well.. it was kind of hilarious. Long story short; the tickets my parents got me were behind the benches. We sold my girlfriend’s tickets, sorry Lyne! While we’re on the topic I nearly took a heart attack when I got to my seat and saw the glorious view.

My view from the 6th row! Which is actually just 2 rows behind the benches.

My view from the 6th row! Which is just 2 rows behind the benches.

I can’t begin to explain how excited I was for this game. As I sit here writing this, long after that initial gameday jubilance has worn off I’m still sitting on the edge of my seat. I wore an orange golf jacket to work, I displayed my Flyers’ jersey and hat on my cubicle, and I bought some orange bristol board and a black permanent marker. This was going to be legendary. It had to be! And I, I would be prepared for said legendariness. Longest day of work ever.. but in those seemingly endless minutes I had time to design what would be the perfect sign.

Doing important sketches  at work.. yes.. this will work.

Doing important sketches at work.. yes.. this will work.

I arrived at the Saddledome decked out in my Flyers’ garb and I was pleasantly surprised that there were a good many Philadelphia fans in my section. “Hey,” I said to Lyne, “if the Flyers win maybe I won’t get beer poured over my head after all!” Warm-ups commenced and I was starry-eyed. Claude Giroux! Jakub Voracek! Nicklas Grossmann too.. I guess.. cool!?.. these guys were mere meters away from me. Grossmann is an absolutely massive wall of flesh by the way. I could have yelled something and they would have heard it! I didn’t. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I kept my cool.

I look like a God damn idiot! Success!

I look like a God damn idiot! Success!

The cameraman for CSN took a good long shot of me with my orange knitted beard/Flyers’ hat combo. If you were watching at home in Philly you may have seen me! Lyne swears that at this moment she saw Voracek look up into the stands and smile as he caught a glimpse of me. I didn’t see it which breaks my heart, but I mean.. c’mon.. like.. I can’t even. Following that the cameraman moved on to Nick Cousins who was interviewed by Chris Therrien; which I was stoked about because I’m a huge Cousins’ advocate. I write the weekly Phantoms/Prospect Report here at Pattison Ave and Nick is always a big part of that. He’s had a very good year with the Phantoms and I’m really happy he’s getting an NHL opportunity in the dying breath of this soon forgotten season.

Everyone's favourite Phantom - Nick Cousins! Debatable Walrus Chris Therrien to the right.

Everyone’s favourite Phantom – Nick Cousins! Debatable Walrus Chris Therrien to the right.

Calgary's starting line-up was announced with this cool NHL-94 style intro on the Jumbotron. Mad points. MAD

Calgary’s starting line-up was announced with this cool NHL-94 style intro on the Jumbotron. Mad points. MAD!

As the game was set to begin the beer guy came right to my section. I didn’t have to get up or go stand in queue, the heavens had clearly aligned. I also had a quick conversation with an usher.

Usher – Would you like a line-up card?

Me – No thank you. I know most of the players already.

Usher – Oh yeah? How many points does Giroux have.

Me – 64..

Usher opens program.. nods.. – Not bad.

The first period was largely a snoozefest. Shots were 9-6 Calgary, the pace of play was high, but nothing coalesced. Highlights included Johnny Gaudreau totally undressing Mark Streit, but not being able to beat Steve Mason (whom you may know from his popular film role as God), and Sack Remaldo having a spearing/chirping match with Lants Booma.

REMALDO UNLEASHED

REMALDO UNLEASHED

The 2nd period brought mostly the same “meh” atmosphere that’s to be expected when 2 not very good teams play each other. It wasn’t until late in the 2nd when Luke Schenn had what can only be described as a minor stroke that Calgary struck and broke the deadlock. Schenn panicked like some sort of small woodland creature (I’m thinking Shrew, but I’m open to suggestions), spun and threw the puck right up the middle of the ice into the waiting clutches of veteran Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman. A quick give-and-go with Jiri Hudler and Wideman had his 13th of the season. Not a bad total, I was impressed Wideman had that many since he’s starting to slow down quite a bit at this stage in his career.

Less than 2 minutes later one of advanced stats’ golden boys, T.J. Brodie, made the score 2-0 Flames with a seeing-eye wrister from the point for his 11th. Not much chance for Mason to stop this shot as Flyers’ defenseman Nick Schultz did just a fantastic job of screening him. To my horror Greg Berube then pulled Steve Mason. Why!? IS HE HURT!? PLZ LORD TELL ME HE’S OKAY!!! Turns out he’s fine, and Berube just pulled him because Berube does what Berube does.

Then while the Flames announcers were still giving out congratulations to Brodie the Flyers answered. Jake Voracek used the telepathic link he has with Flyers’ Captain Sean Giroux and fed him a seemingly impossible pass through traffic and against the flow of play. For Giroux it was a simple matter of depositing the puck into a yawning goal giving him 19 on the year. The fans in my section clad in orange erupted, and that included me! I had prepared so well for this moment! I cheered and then unleashed my sign!

Adventure Time! With Claude and Jake!

Adventure Time! With Claude and Jake!

With Jake the wing and Claude the centerman the fun will never end it’s Adventure Time! Fans around me asked to see my sign.. they had no idea what it meant. Whatever! Shut up! Just let me be happy!

The Even Split had climbed to about $60,000 by the 2nd intermission and I simply had to take my chances. After all the heavens were aligned! It was meant to be. I ascended the stairs to the concourse in order to gamble away my $10, but when I reached the top I was distracted. I saw my cousin and a few of her friends. I had to go say hi. They didn’t recognize me. I had a stupid knitted beard on. I’m an idiot. We chit-chatted about life, stuff that was happening at home in the fair province of Nova Scotia, and it was at that point that my heart sunk.. or did it jump into my throat? I have no idea, but I felt horrible.

Why? Quick background info. My cousin (not the one at the game, but her sister) is married to Flyers’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald’s brother. Andrew’s hometown is actually about a 30 minute drive from where I and my cousins grew up. My heart did.. well.. whatever it did because it had dawned on me why she was at this game. Andrew had bought tickets and spread them out among family and friends as NHL players always do. My brain put 2 and 2 together and realized that she was probably going to meet him after the game.. my God.. if I had planned this out I probably could have been put on THE LIST. Fuck. I steered the conversation in that direction, and she agreed that at the very least I would give her my Flyers’ cap so she could get it signed.

This was good!

The 2nd intermission had expired and the Even Split sellers had turned off their ticket machines.

This was bad!

The winner went home with $39,000. I would have quit my job. Maybe. I would have considered it.

The stars were becoming unaligned.. it was not a good omen..

The third period commenced and the Flyers were hanging around. It hadn’t been the best effort, but the game had been fairly even up until this point. They had a chance! But the omen raised its ominous head in the form of penalties.. penalties, penalties, penalties. White, VandeVelde, Grossmann and most disgustingly Emery took minors in the final frame. Emery was, in my mind, responsible for this loss. Not because of his stupid penalty which didn’t result in a goal against, but because he is not good at hockey anymore. He’s what coaches call a “battler”. This is code for – he is mostly not very good at being a goaltender. Mostly.

With the Flames being on the Powerplay for basically the first half of the 3rd the chips didn’t exactly fall in Philly’s favour. Johnny Gaudreau set up Sean Monahan for a one-timer from the high slot for Calgary’s first Powerplay goal and then deposited his own Powerplay goal later on making it 4-1. It was a 5-on-3 for the Flames and Hudler adeptly placed a pass on Johnny Hockey’s stick which was basically already in the net. A tap-in for Gaudreau and with that he passed Nashville’s Filip Forsberg for the NHL’s rookie scoring lead. It seemed only fitting that New Jersey native Gaudreau, would jump into the scoring lead against the Flyers, the team he cheered for as a kid.

Gaudreau taps in his 20th. Emery looks super sharp on this one.. yeeeeesh.. not that he stood a chance (via somekindofhockeyblog.tumblr).

After the Flames fans had drunk in the glories of their victory and paraded out of the arena, I remained behind. I waited with the security guards at the top of the stairs who told me, “the only way to be put on the list now is if a player actually comes up and admits you himself.” I didn’t like my chances. Brayden Schenn appeared at the top of the stairs and took a few people past security himself! It was hard not to get my hopes up. Then one of my cousin’s friends came into view.. he was my Grim Reaper.. bringer of death.. there was no way he was getting my past security. I was thankful though, he was kind enough to come up and get my hat and promised to at least get Andrew’s signature. I figured best case scenario he gets Andrew’s plus a few more!

Andrew MacDonald signed Flyers cap. Pretty much priceless.. and by that I mean probably worth less now than when it was just a Flyers hat

Andrew MacDonald signed Flyers cap. Pretty much priceless..

My cousin came up wearing my orange Flyers cap signed by number 47.. Andrew MacDonald.. and only number 47 Andrew MacDonald. I imagine at that point I sighed rather audibly, but I don’t really remember. If you’re reading this Carla, I apologize. I’m being a dick. It was very nice of you to get the hat signed. It was just.. quite hard for me not to be disappointed about the conclusion of this whole chain of events.

That sentiment seems pretty synonymous with how the Flyers’ season has gone.

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