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My hockey pilgrimage thread!

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Ok...so two weeks ago, we embarked on the last phase of the Pilgrimage for this season.

It all started with us supposed to fly from OKC to Dallas-Ft. Worth and overnighting before continuing on to Raleigh...that was BEFORE DFW got smacked with a long line of thunderstorms...here's me at OKC trying to re-work our travel plans to Raleigh:

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We ended up flying on Southwest to St. Louis, then onto Chicago, then finally into Raleigh...arriving only 14 hours behind scheduled!

Got to go to the game in Raleigh vs. the SwampCats...now 4-0 in Raleigh...and got to witness this nice gem at the end of the game:

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I was hopeful that we'd be able to catch a practice or two...but Kirk decided to cancel BOTH of the ones we were hoping to attend...and it showed in the Columbus game (already went there last season, so it was a repeat on the Pilgrimage), as I got to finally see my first hat trick...thank you RJ Umberger (aargh):

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Kirk...YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE CANCELED PRACTICE!!!!!

0-6 on the road after that disaster, I was hoping for my fortunes to improve in Detroit the next night...but I was also expecting a complete annihilation by the hands of the Wings.

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DETROIT

So, 24 hours after our epic beatdown at the hands of the lowly Blue Jackets, Carolyn and I were off to the shrine of all things hockey in the USA...JOE LOUIS ARENA!

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So, growing up in Ohio (when there was no Columbus Blue Jackets), I watched the Wings a LOT...so I was rather torn on this game. Carolyn, in an effort to protect my skinny behind from being throttled by possible unruly Detroit fans, wore this:

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I was really glad that this guy was back after 3 weeks on the IR:

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So we got off to an AWESOME start...scoring within the first minute of the first two periods...and even got up 4-1 on the DETROIT RED WINGS!!! Finally, I was gonna see my boys win on the road...then Detroit scored two quickies on us to make it 4-3. At that point, I turned around to Carolyn and said, "If Kirk doesn't call timeout right now, we're losing this game 5-4." Guess what? Kirk didn't call timeout, we lost 5-4...and it could've been MUCH WORSE:

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That being said...the game, the fans, the whole experience at the Joe was AWESOME!!! My only complaints are two things:

1. Cash only for concessions

2. With only two entrances, it was a CRUSH getting out of the arena...definitely a safety concern.

However, those two items didn't knock it's final rating...the arena was rockin...the fans were loud from start to finish (even when down 4-1, they willed the team to the win) and the experience was top-notch. Special thanks to Wally for tossing me a practice puck (it's going to my little brother, who's a diehard Wings fan), and to the LaRose family for letting Carolyn and I hang out with them as we all watched the pre-game skate. I give Detroit a top ranking of 5!

That rating doesn't erase my frustration of being 0-7 on the road:

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Pittsburgh

Shaking off the disappointment of the great Detroit meltdown, we headed off to the Steel City the next morning...getting in just before the dinner rush...and stopping off at Primanti Brothers for our obligatory sandwich of awesomeness:

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For being the newest arena in the NHL (no, MTC in Winnipeg doesn't count), we were thoroughly impressed...at least these guys recognized my jersey:

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The game between the Pens and Devils ended up being 5-3 Pens...

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And, I got to see that eternal hockey goon Matt Cooke get thrown into the hockey slammer...too bad, cause he has no business playing the game after what he did to Savard:

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I'll admit, I was expecting the fans to be kinda bad...but they were loud, respectful of the Devils, and kept the arena rockin for the whole game. The arena was outstanding, the atmosphere was great, but it lacked the missing "it" factor that the Joe and the Gahden have...that's what kept it at a 4 1/2 out of 5.

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Philadelphia:

My father, being a diehard Bruins fan, HATES the Flyers with every fiber in his being...he would LOVE to use their jerseys as toilet paper...and THIS GUY is the reason why:

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The game between the Flyers and Lightning ended up being 5-3 Bolts...

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The ONLY time on this Pilgrimage where Rod's Philly jersey will make an appearance:

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Think they miss him?

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Overall, Philly was exactly what I expected it to be...great arena, great food, ****ty fans! They were obnoxious, obscene, and even proceeded to flip their OWN TEAM off when they were scored on. We left with 10 minutes to go in the 3rd so we wouldn't have to deal with them in the parking lot after the game. That knocked their rating down to a 3 1/2.

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Washington, D.C.

The final stop for the season...all these banners, and nothing past the 2nd round...BWAHAHAHA!

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The game was Caps vs. Slugs...and the Slugs DESTROYED the Caps 5-1. Carolyn and I met one of by best friends from my days in Ohio and her boyfriend for the game:

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Two highlights to the game:

1. Watching Ovi get OWNED by Pominville while the Slugs were on the PK and then Pominville proceeds to score a shortie cause of Ovi's turnover.

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2. Watching two Caps fans, after the game is over, duke it out in the stands:

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Loved watching the Caps get their collective butts handed to them...fans were quiet (and headed to the exits by 10 minutes to go in the 3rd)...arena was ok. A 3 out of 5.

So that's it for this season...next season? Dunno...depends on whether or not I have to deploy again (boo) or hopefully PCS to Europe(yay) this fall. But with 14 out of 30 cities down, I still have a long way to go:

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Once again, great stuff here Sooner. Look forward to more next season.

Agree with captain_jack88, I really enjoy following you and Carolyn around the country with all your photos and evals of other arenas. Looking forward to the next 16 venues. :)

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Well peeps, it looks like the pilgrimage might be put on ice for a few years...I've got orders to go move to Europe to fly with our NATO brethren, starting in January.

But there's another reason...Carolyn got pregnant when we were in Raleigh in March...and my baby girl is due in late-November/early-December. Needless to say we were absolutely shocked...as Carolyn turned 50 in June and we had pretty much given up trying (after four miscarriages, the last being over three years ago). No fertility treatments, no donor stuff, no surrogacy!

Anywho...here's my latest project. For my daughter's nursery, I am trying to obtain a plush mascot for every NHL team...that has a mascot (Dallas, NY Rangers, and Edmonton don't). Currently have 11...and working like mad to obtain the rest. The Canadian teams are proving to be the biggest challenge...along with Minnesota and St. Louis. Ebay has been an asset...and so have co-workers. But man, is this a challenge.

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Pending there is some freaking hockey to be played around early January, we MIGHT see about knocking out Nashville and/or one of the NYC area teams before we move to Germany

Edited by AWACSooner

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Congratulations to you and Carolyn on the pending birth of your daughter. That is great news.

So your going to Europe. I guess you will get to see NHL players before we do. Enjoy the experience.

best of luck,

OBXer

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Ok, so we moved to Germany in late-January...around the same time the NHL decided they'd rather play hockey than play grab- for another season!  Thus, I got denied the opportunity to continue our NHL pilgrimage until such time as Uncle Sam assigns me back stateside (or I happen to stop through a NHL city while on leave).

 

But that doesn't mean the pilgrimage is over...because it's now taken a new form...DEUTSCH EISHOCKEY LIGA!

(for those of you not knowing about the DEL, here's some info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Eishockey_Liga )

 

There are 14 teams in the league...with lots of former NHL'ers (usually the minor-league rejects) and less-talented brothers of NHL'ers (Stastny, Langkow, etc.).

 

Our first game was last weekend in the city of Krefeld (about 15 miles NW of Dusseldorf), which is about a 50 minute drive from our house in Gillrath.

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This is the smallest arena in the DEL...seats maybe 7-8K.  Feels a little run-down too...kinda like the Joe.

 

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Their mascot is the penguin...named Kevin.

 

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Emma's first hockey game...outside the womb.  Daddy mixed it up a little bit and wore his Red Wings jersey. 

 

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Krefeld Pinguine

 

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Dusseldorf Eishockey Group

 

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Krefeld won 4-2...and they're the 3rd seed in the upcoming playoffs.  Dusseldorf is the worst team in the league, so they get to hit the links.  The fans are downright NUTS.  The areas behind both nets (that usually command a hefty ticket price in the states) are standing room only sections for the crazies.  They start soccer-like chants during warmups and don't stop until the game is long over.  They have chants for EVERYTHING...including taunts of the other team and their fans.  The handful of Dusseldorf fans didn't take it sitting down...they had some retaliatory chants of their own.  And it was LOUD...not PNC Center loud, but I was definitely hearing impaired leaving that arena.

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Today, we ventured into Cologne (Koln, in German)...about an hour away from our house...to see the Kolner Haie (Sharks) vs the Nuremburg Ice Tigers in the final regular season game (their playoffs start this week).

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Like daddy, like daughter.

 

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This arena is the largest in the DEL...seats around 22K.

 

300301_10101313516454387_1475678450_n.jpCologne's mascot...Sharky

 

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Forslund and Tracy have some 'splainin to do!

 

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Marco Sturm...now playing for Cologne

 

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Former Cane Ryan Bayda and former Av Stephen Reinprecht play for Nuremburg

 

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I don't know how practical this is...sparklers at a hockey game?

 

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Emma watching the action.

 

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Goal by former Cane Casey Borer

 

Cologne was down 3-0...came back and tied it...Nuremburg went up 4-3 after 2...then Cologne won 6-4.

 

 

 

This ends the regular season...playoffs start this week here.  I'm not planning on going to every DEL city to catch a game like I will in my NHL pilgrimage...but if there's a target of opportunity, then I'll take it.

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Great update!  Emma is a cutie and the Brind A'Mour matching outfits are great.  Had no idea Casey Borer, Ryan Bayda and some others were playing abroad.

 

Good to see you're enjoying yourself some over there. :)

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Yah, so if one of you guys can contact Rod and see if he wants to betroth his infant son to my daughter, that'd be AWESOME!!!! ;)

Edited by AWACSooner

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TSA, one thing they do over here that Carolyn and I thought could catch on in Raleigh...

When they announce the home team, especially the starting lineup, the announcer only says their first name and the fans scream their last name...they do the same when announcing goals/assists.  It's pretty cool to watch.

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TSA, one thing they do over here that Carolyn and I thought could catch on in Raleigh...

When they announce the home team, especially the starting lineup, the announcer only says their first name and the fans scream their last name...they do the same when announcing goals/assists.  It's pretty cool to watch.

 

if that ever caught on here, that would get Brian Hoyle off the hook with the complaniacs ;)   

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Ok guys, time to resurrect this thread...cause it looks like I am coming back stateside for a bit post-*edit*crackistan vacation.  Nashville is in my sights sometime in November, and we will be in Raleigh on NYE for the Habs game...RIGHT BEHIND THE BENCH!!

 

Looks like Miss Emma will finally get to see her "favorite" team play!

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So I am back stateside til early January due to having to go to Alabama for an officer's course...so tonight marks the halfway point of the pilgrimage as we knock out NASHVILLE...and Emma's first NHL game.  Pics up in a day or so.

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So I am back stateside til early January due to having to go to Alabama for an officer's course...so tonight marks the halfway point of the pilgrimage as we knock out NASHVILLE...and Emma's first NHL game.  Pics up in a day or so.

Have fun in Music City

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NASHVILLE  23 November, 2013

15/30 thus far...HALFWAY THERE!!!

 

Emma's first NHL game:
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The game was the Preds vs. the Rags...Rags won 2-0 and the game was just about as boring as watching most Carolina games.  Preds sucked in PP...mishandled pucks all night long...and the Rags converted on the few chances they got even though they outshot Nashville by a 2-1 margin.

 

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The smart Staal...and the half-blind one.

 

Can we recycle this guy?  He at least converts on chances and can PLAY:
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Honestly, I was disappointed with the experience...fans were rather quiet (then again, the team didn't give them much to cheer for), the atmosphere was drab, but the arena was nice and the food was excellent.  Now they did have Vince Gill play music during the intermissions, which was cool (and I don't even like country music)...but c'mon, it's Nashville...that's like going to a Kings game and finding a celebrity to do the on-ice promotions in the intermission.  I'm giving it a 2 out of 5.

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That's gonna be it for this season...I'll see you guys in Raleigh for the Habs game on New Years Eve (got two seats right behind the Canes bench, so Emma can flirt with all the players), but then it's back to Deutschland after that.

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Edited by AWACSooner

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Two years later...I checked Tampa off the list on November 28th...we were in Florida for the week celebrating Thanksgiving and Emma's 3rd birthday...

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If you have a chance, get to Amalie Arena for a game...solely cause they have one of these thingies:

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And they have this as a concession:

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I'll save you the long story...Bolts vs. Isles...Isles won 3-2.

 

The crowd was mostly into it...and the arena is one of the nicer ones I've been to...but the game atmosphere felt lacking compared to the traditional markets.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

 

 

The good news?  We are moving back to Oklahoma from Germany in April.  Soooooo...the Pilgrimage is back on starting next fall!  16 down...14 to go!

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The crowd was mostly into it...and the arena is one of the nicer ones I've been to...but the game atmosphere felt lacking compared to the traditional markets.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

 

 

The good news?  We are moving back to Oklahoma from Germany in April.  Soooooo...the Pilgrimage is back on starting next fall!  16 down...14 to go!

 

Welcome home!

 

I enjoyed going to Tampa a few years ago (4 1/2).  It was right before they spruced up the place.  It wasn't as nice as the Panther's house, but the crowd is much better than Panthers.  Nice folks, good fans -- had a lot of fun wearing my Canes jersey.

 

They didn't have the Poutine place back then.  I guess that is a nod to the Canadian crowd.

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Actually, the pics are from my FB account. But still, whomever my guardian angel is, THANK YOU!

Edit: I will use this post to update city/arena rankings as I continue the pilgrimage.

Rankings will be based on a 1-5 ranking...with half-rankings applicable...and will be based upon the following criteria: Arena, Fans, Atmosphere, Food, and that intangible "it" factor

1 rating: Stay away!!

2 rating: Go at your own risk.

3 rating: It's decent, but there are a few things to consider.

4 rating: Great arena, great game.

5 rating: Holy schnikeys Batman! You have got to go here if you love the game of hockey!

Dallas: 3

Carolina: 4 1/2

St. Louis: 1

Boston: 5

Columbus: 3 1/2

Florida: 3

Anaheim: 2

Phoenix: 2 1/2

Colorado: 4 1/2

Minnesota: 4

Detroit: 5

Pittsburgh: 4 1/2

Philadelphia 3 1/2

Washington: 3

Nashville: 2

Tampa: 3 1/2 ...solely cause they have a huge Van de Graaf generator that sparks bolts of lightning, and they serve poutine!

LA, San Jose and possibly Chicago coming up this season...

Edited by AWACSooner

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