Friday, March 6, 2020

Seeing Stars

Yesterday's #tbt was especially timely for me to write as last Thursday, Eliot and I braved yet another wintery New England day to go down to Boston to attend an NHL hockey game.  However, this time we weren't going to see our beloved Sharks.  This time around it was to see the Boston Bruins take on the Dallas Stars.

I mentioned last July, Joe Pavelski, my favorite hockey player, did not return to the San Jose Sharks and instead opted to sign a contract with the Dallas Stars.  Back when it happened, I acknowledged that a small part of me became a Dallas Stars fan and I remember telling Eliot that we were going to the Boston Bruins vs Dallas Stars game.

As soon as the NHL released their 2019-2020 schedule, I went to see when the Bruins were playing both the Sharks and Stars.  Eliot and I opted to skip the Sharks game back in October but I've been keeping the February 27th against Dallas at the back of my mind all season.  Unfortunately, with all of our recent traveling, I was pretty much resigned to watching it on television since we don't have a lot of money for fun extras at the moment.  (The Bruins are currently the top team with the most points in the entire NHL so their tickets are not cheap.)

Back at the end of January, when I went home to help my parents with their big W-2 deadline, I mentioned that we might go to the game if we got our 2019 tax refund beforehand.  I wasn't really that optimistic.  But, the universe had other plans in store for us.  My Mom told me that she and my Dad would buy Eliot and I tickets to the game as a thank you for me helping them out that weekend.  I was so grateful and relieved; I finally allowed myself to be excited for the upcoming game!

We've been watching ticket prices, and we bought our tickets two nights before the game when Eliot spotted two seats in the lower bowl behind the goal that the Dallas Stars try to score on twice.  The benefit of waiting?  We got $200 seats on resale for only $140 each.  The seats were on the end of the 21st row, in the center behind the net and didn't have anyone sitting directly in front of us.  It was a win-win all around!

Finally, after months of waiting, February 27th arrived.  We woke to the sound of wind whistling and rain pelting against our house.  I held my breath and hoped that the forecast went as predicted.  I went about my day trying to be productive before I had to get ready to leave for the game.  Thankfully, around noon, the rain stopped.  By the time I was leaving the house at 2:30 to go meet Eliot at his work, the sun was coming out and I had to grab my sunglasses!

We had a good drive down to Boston.  After a quick stop at the local post office to drop off mouse ear orders, and the rest stop Burger King to get me a burger, we were on our way!  As we got closer to Boston, we knew were were making good time.  We stopped one more time at our old stomping grounds of the Target in Woburn to stretch and use the restroom- just in case we got stuck in traffic closer to the city.  While there, I spotted the St. Patrick's Day Mickey t-shirt I'd been eyeing online!  They actually had it in my size so I grabbed it and it came home with us!

After encountering a little bit of traffic, we finally arrived at the TDBank parking garage a few minutes before the venue doors were going to open for the game.  We made our way to our parking spot, and got our jerseys on... our teal San Jose Sharks jerseys.

This is significant because we were at the Bruins vs Stars game in teal.  In a sea of black and gold Bruins fans, and emerald green Dallas fans, we stood out like a sore thumb.  I went all out leaving my pink jacket in the car.  Eliot opted the less noticeable route of keeping his lime rain jacket unzipped over his jersey.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.  I had one of my Pavelski jerseys on and his jersey was blank.  (He claims that he would have taken the jacket off if it had Pavelski's name on the back.)

I wasn't sure if I'd get chirped at (teased) or not... but, I didn't really care.  I was there to see Pavelski play, and I kind of wanted to stand out.  I was hoping that he'd see us and know that we still supported him.  Plus, aside from a few weird looks, no one really said anything to me.  The security guard jokingly teased me but it was really funny.  The guy at the concession stand asked if we were at the right game.  He didn't know who Pavelski was, but when Eliot explained he thought it was cool.  One Dallas fan came up to us and we talked for a bit with him.  A bunch of other Dallas fans acknowledged me with head nods.  People who knew that Pavelski had been a Shark before a Star were completely on board with my chosen attire.  And I was pumped to rock the teal.

After entering the arena, we made our way down to the side the Stars were warming up on.  Eliot and I ended up in the third row from the ice.  I stood behind a girl sitting in the row in front of us in an effort to still be visible from the ice.  I was hopeful that Pavs might toss us a puck after seeing our teal jerseys, but mostly I wanted him to see us.

Upon checking the scoreboard, we discovered that we were at the Bruins Hockey is for Everyone Night.  Each team in the NHL celebrates Hockey is for Everyone Night once a season.  Not only is it Pride Night, but it's a night to drive positive change and to foster a community of inclusiveness.  The league also celebrates Black History and Gender Equality on this night.  Eliot and I were able to attend San Jose's last spring during our trip in March.  Neither of us realized we'd be there for the Bruins special night; I was pumped to check out all of the rainbow gear in the store!

Eventually, the Dallas Stars made their way onto the ice for warm ups.  I took a few pictures of Pavelski and Ben Bishop- the Stars goalie who Elissa is a fan of.  Then, we stood there watched warm ups just like we do with the Sharks.  I'm pretty sure that Pavs spotted us.  He was right in front of us when he did a double take and looked right back at me.  In the green sea of Dallas fans, we still stood out.  We didn't get a puck from him, but he did toss at least three pucks out to kids.  And even though I would have loved one, I'd rather the kids get them anyways.

After warm ups were over, we made our way across the arena to our seats.  We did have awesome seats.  I loved not having anyone right in front of us.  Not only was I as close to the center of the goal as you could be, but I could also stretch out.  TD Bank recently re-did their seating to fit more seats and they are crammed in there.  Everyone around us could barely fit into their tiny seats and we could stretch our legs out all the way in front of us!  It was really nice!  

After the pre-game ceremonies, anthem, announcing the starting line-ups, and time for commercial breaks, the players eventually got into place for face-off.  Finally, after months of waiting, the game was underway.  

I was so stoked to see Pavelski play again.  Even though he's now number 16 instead of 8, I found that it was pretty easy to spot him on the ice.  I guess after watching him play for all these years, I'm just familiar with how he skates.

Dallas was first on the scoreboard as they got a goal towards the end of the first period.  Pavelski won the face-off and got an assist on the goal.  Unfortunately, the Bruins turned around and scored on a power play with only 15 seconds left in the first period.  Then, Pavelski almost scored a few minutes into the second period.  He made a great play in front of the net but the puck didn't go in.  The Bruins scored with five minutes left in the second period.  Then, the B's scored again a minute later.  It was 3-1 at the end of the 2nd, but it wasn't over quite yet.  

The Stars scored a few minutes into the third period.  The Bruins scored again shortly after to make it 4-2.  Dallas fought back and scored again late in the third.  Pavelski didn't get an assist on the goal, but he made a pass that set up the other players on his team.  Throughout the game, you could see his leadership out on the ice.  He strategized with his teammates from behind his glove before a face-off, just like he always did in San Jose.  He won a ton of face-offs and he made a ton of smart plays.  

Here's the full video recap of the game:

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night, was the one that totally caught me off guard.  About midway through the second period, Joe Pavelski got into a fight with Boston's David Krejci.  Neither one of them fights very often, but it was clear that tensions were building throughout the game.  Reports online will tell you that Krejci was the "clear winner" but I'd beg to differ with that assessment.  Both players landed a few punches on the other, but Pavelski left the fight to sit in the penalty box while Krejci had to go to the locker room for repairs after hitting Pavelski's helmet numerous times.

At that point, things were getting a bit testy out on the ice and that carried over into the stands.  Thankfully, we had really nice people beside us and in front of them.  The lady next to Eliot commented on how kind and respectful were were.  We told her that we were rooting for both teams and really didn't care who won.  We explained to her that Pavelski used to be a Shark but was a Dallas Star now.  I said that I grew up in Maine and cheered the Bruins on from afar... not really into hockey much until I met Eliot who was from San Jose and made me into a hockey and Sharks fan.  I summed it up that we were there because we were fans of hockey and just wanted to see a good game.

In the end, Eliot and I definitely got our good game.  There were lead changes, fights, passion, plenty of incredible plays and it all came down to the final seconds of the game.  The Stars lost to the Bruins 4-3 but they put up one heck of a fight.  I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that the Stars lost.  I was happy that the Bruins won, but I would have loved to see Pavs and Dallas win too.  After all, Pavelski's still my favorite hockey player, no matter what team he plays for.

Pavelski was the last Dallas Star to leave the ice and head into the locker room.  After watching him disappear into their tunnel, I took a few seconds to be grateful in the moment that I was able to make it to the game to see him play.

Eliot and I waited for the crowds to clear before making our way to the exit.  We had decided to stop at the Bruins Pro Shop on the way out.  Unfortunately, they were out of the warm up pucks with the Bruins and Stars logo and the date.  However, they still had a ton of Hockey is for Everyone rainbow merchandise.  I fell in love with a bright rainbow scarf, but I decided to wait to see if they make one for the Sharks for their night.  They also had beautiful Bruins baseball caps with their logo in bright rainbow colors.  (I'm kind of kicking myself for not getting one of those!)  Eliot and I picked out a puck and he made his way to the register.  While in line, we also found the Blades Boston Bruins mascot plushies and Eliot picked one out to come home with us.

We made our way back to our car where I took off my teal Pavelski jersey and carefully folded it back up.  We then made our way out of the parking garage, out of the city and back to Maine.  Aside from a quick stop to get gas and another at a McDonalds to grab food, we had a pretty uneventful ride home.  By 1:30 am, we were back home, in bed and completely exhausted, but it was definitely worth it.  °o°

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