Phoenix Coyotes: PuckGal On The Road…Pepsi Center Memoirs
I’m baaaaack. Apparently the excitement of my first hockey roadtrip and the Winter Olympics (hold your heads high USA) gave me a case of writer’s block. But I’ve returned so enjoy my first stop of the arena tour. Phoenix Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche.
And although it was a roadtrip with the Coyotes, it wasn’t WITH the Coyotes..no specific player interaction was scheduled. Do you really think that it was going to stop me? As my luck would have it, I didn’t have to go looking for the players..which would have been creepy and wrong..right? They found us..sort of.
Coming out of the cold a few hours before the game, I found my way to the escalator. Looking back, I noticed Tyson Nash standing there, looking dashing as ever in his pastel colored tie and called out “Hey Tyson”. Now sometimes my outgoing nature tends to startle people, as it did Tyson. His head jerked up but he waved and smiled. What else are you gonna do when a strange redhead yells “hey” in a five-star hotel on an escalator?
The escalator turned out to be my lucky charm because who did we literally run into when we stepped off? Shane Doan! And yes, I found it necessary to shake his hand and say hello. As gracious as you always hear about, he stopped for a moment while we wished him luck. Or should I say I wished him luck. My daughter stood by my side mute from the sheer awesomeness that was meeting one of her heros.
And then..the onslaught. Innocently standing at the elevator bank, Peter Mueller, Keith Yandle, Jason LaBarbera, and Mikkel Boedker all dressed to impress in their suits cram into an elevator. Once again I can’t let that just go and my call of “hey guys” caused more deer-in-the headlights looks than hunting season in Pennsylvania. I have to wonder..do they just expect to go unnoticed especially since they are in a different city? Or am I just that social that it causes alarm? Don’t answer that! Only LaBarbera seemed unfazed, turned and reciprocated the “hey”. Thanks Jason.
One last sighting ocurred during a particular odd moment. When approaching the front desk to find Benadryl for hives that unexpectedly showed up on my neck (I just blame the sheer excitement of it all!) I ran into Anders Ericksson. Not at all concerned that I might startle, confuse, beguile or bewilder him, I throw a “good luck tonight” his way. This time I was rewarded with a big smile and a “thanks”. Apparently he didnt’ see the red bumps on my neck that were approaching goiter status..whewww.
After my hives were in check and the reception under my belt, we were off to the Pepsi Center. Incidentally, during said reception, I had a nice albeit too brief, conversation with Doug Moss on the potential of Mikkel Boedker. At the entrance to the arena, cars lined up as though as we were waiting to get in Six Flags. Since we were on a “tour” bus, our walk to the entrance wasn’t horrible, however I did feel bad for the commoners who had to hike out from the parking lot. Made me a little homesick for Jobing.com arena whose parking seemed easier in comparison.
On the way to the arena you pass large pillars and of course a gargantuan Pepsi ball logo embedded in rock. Guess which soda pop choices you have inside? The arena is referred to as “the can” although supposedly not in polite or arena personnel company.
Gaining entrance to the arena was a simple procedure. No metal detectors, no purse invasion and only one ticket taker to allow entrance. A bit different from the body cavity strip streach you receive at Coyotes games while surrounded by at least 3 security guards/ticket takers/purse checkers.
Aside from the large hanging sculpture representing the various sports played there, the Avalanche (hockey), the Denver Nuggets (basketball) and the Mammoth (lacrosse) the arena was pretty hockey typical. Some annoying differences included an ancient scoreboard, the announcer who sounded like he was auditioning for a jazz radio station and the intro to the team (the Avalanche experience) was far too lengthy. Just get the guys on the ice already!
The fans were relatively energetic and I was pleased to see that even on a Friday night, attendance wasn’t any more than what you see at Jobing.com on any given night. It was an odd experience to be the “strangers in a strange land” with Avalanche jerseys coming at you at every turn but we held strong. We even received a few shout outs from wayward Coyotes fans in passing. However we did get boo’ed from a young (11 or 12) fan in the pro shop to which I replied saltily “yeah that’s what we say when you come to town”. Mess me with kid.
The game, as you probably already know, did not go our way. Some bad penalty calls, a lagging power play (AGAIN) and an inability to get shots to connect left us shy of the win at 2-1.
The experience was great and I have to give a big thanks to Lindsay, Jackie, Doug Moss and the rest of the Coyotes team that put the trip together and accompanied us all to Colorado. I also need to send a huge thanks to my employer, Jobing.com for sending us.
As they say, “there’s no place like home” and although the experience was awesome I still think I prefer watching my Coyotes where they belong..in the desert.