Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

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Sharks 3, Blackhawks 6

Unlike the San Jose Sharks, the Chicago Blackhawks do not come anywhere near to selling out their arena, the United Center, so you can just walk up and buy a ticket for anywhere in the house. If I'd been willing to plop down the $250, I could have had a front row seat behind the glass. I didn't do that, but I did buy a club-level ($60) seat, and ended up in Section 218, Row 4, Seat 1. You know the shot of a hockey game from the center-ice camera? That was my view -- I was seated right behind the camera loft. Indeed, if it weren't for a half-dozen camera operators in front of me, the view would have been perfect. (As it was, it was only very good.) Standing up and looking into the press box above the upper level, I could see Drew Remenda, the Sharks' TV color commentator, and Randy Hahn, the play-by-play announcer.

I knew it was going to be a long night when the Blackhawks scored less than a minute into the game. Ouch. Then the Sharks were called for a double-minor penalty, followed a few seconds later by another minor, which put them in a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation for a full two minutes. The Blackhawks scored shortly thereafter, and unfortunately for the Sharks, did so with 2:31 remaining on the double-minor, which meant that only the first half of the minor penalty was erased and the 5-on-3 continued. the Blackhawks scored yet again, and the Sharks were now down 3-0 less than eight minutes into the game.

After giving up a fourth goal early in the second period, the Sharks finally scored five minutes in, but gave up another goal to Chicago, which let 5-1 at the end of the second period.

During the second intermission, I popped up to the third level and stationed myself where I could get Drew Remenda's attention during one of their breaks. Having caught his eye, I made the Sharks' "Power Play Chomp" sign (take your hands with your fingers spread claw-like, extend your arms, and move your arms together to simulate chomping teeth) so that he'd know there was at least one Sharks fan in the building. He looked a little sheepish, signaling some embarrassment at the 5-1 score. I shrugged elaborately and called up to him, "What can you do?" He laughed and nodded, and I headed back downstairs.

Turns out there was at least one other Sharks fan in the building, and he was sitting two rows behind me in a Sharks sweater. Unlike me, he lives in the Chicago are. When the Sharks scored their second goal (thirty seconds after the Blackhawks' sixth), he and I applauded and stood up and high-fived each other, to the fairly good-natured boos of those around us. (Seriously, the people around me all were nice and friendly, and those to my right shook my hand at the end of the game and said it was nice to have met me.)

The game got really sloppy in the last ten minutes, with a bunch of fights breaking out at the drop of a glove. The last couple of fights seemed pretty half-hearted, as if the two players didn't really want to have a serious punch-up, but realized that once they'd started grappling, they were on the hook for five minute fighting penalties, so they might as well give the fans their money's worth. The Sharks also managed to score a third goal near the end.

I think the 6-3 final makes the game sound closer than it really was. The Sharks never really seemed to be in this game. Am I disappointed? Sure, but I'm satisfied with my overall sporting event experience, you might say. $60 is expensive, but it's not something I'm going to do every day. And FWIW, I put the BBQ pork sandwich and diet Pepsi on my company credit card, as this was my evening meal, after all, and I'm still on travel.

After the game, I hustled down to the bus queue for the "express bus to downtown," calculating that I didn't have quite enough time to walk back to Union Station. Even though it was the first bus in the queue and it filled up quickly, it took a long time before it left, and then we inched through heavy post-game traffic. Still, I figured I might manage to make the 10:30 train to Aurora. I popped off the bus when it passed the Metra rail sign and followed the other people running for the train. Whoops. Wrong station. There are multiple train stations in Chicago, and I -- even though I'm a train buff -- got off at the wrong one. There was no way I could make it down to Union Station in time for the train, so that put me at maximum separation to the next train, which was the 11:40 PM to Aurora. That meant I didn't get back to my hotel until after 1 AM. Yuck.

I'd write more about my impressions of the Chicago train system, but I need to get some sleep. I still plan to go up to the East Troy Electric Railroad on Saturday, so I need to get some sleep.
Tags: sports
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