Monday, November 19, 2007

Mother Nature Is A Hockey Fan

She must be, as I've had no weather problems on my trip at all (knock on wood). The XCel Energy Center in St. Paul was my 24th stop, but the first time I've even seen rain since my first game in Detroit. I'm hoping my luck holds in Toronto and Buffalo this week.

The weather forecast in the Minnesota paper simply said, "dreary", which doubles as an apt description of the Minnesota Wild's play in the three games I've seen them play in the last week. Maybe it was their new red jerseys, but the Wild came alive last night and dominated the Colorado Avalanche en route to an easy 4-1 victory.

When I arrived at the Minneapolis airport I saw numerous guys wearing camouflage caps, vests or pants throughout the building. At first glance, I thought perhaps they were troops heading overseas, but then I realized, no, Minnesota was full of hunters. All the commercials during the Vikings game on the radio were for hunting equipment, there were sporting goods stores on every corner and I assume something was in season, as there were a bunch of pickup trucks headed out of town. As a guy whose never shot anything more powerful than a Nerf gun, it was a little culture shock!

I bring this up because the XCel Energy Center reflects the outdoor lifestyle of Minnesotians (is that a word?) and reminds me of a giant log cabin on steroids! The colors are all browns and greens, and I even saw a couple of fireplaces in the lounges. Many Minny fans had e-mailed me to say that I would think their building was the best in all of hockey. It was a nice building, but even though their team played well, the crowd sat on their hands most of the game. Some fans did a sports doubleheader; the Vikings/Raiders game in the Metrodome at noon and the Wild game at 5pm.

I forgot to tell you a quick story from Edmonton....Scott and I were waiting to pick up our tickets at the window and we start talking to the guy next to us, who says in this hushed voice, "My son's playing tonight". You could tell he was so proud, tuned out his son was Wild rookie James Sheppard and he had flown in from Nova Scotia for the game. He just couldn't contain his excitement, and as a father, I can understand completely. His son didn't do much in that game, but had two assists last night for the Wild.

I am finally caught up with this blog after getting behind in Edmonton. Sorry to those of you who have e-mailed me lately and not received a response yet, I'm going as fast as I can!

Here's a link to a few pictures from the trip so far, enjoy!

Off now to see the Lightning beat the Thrashers, I hope!


Anonymous said...

how can you not rate the Xcel as the #1 arena in hockey? That place has it all - awesome atmosphere. The games I have been to were WILD in the stands, cheering/booing to beat the band. Not sure why it was so dull that game for ya.

Anonymous said...

I’m a little disappointed by the review of the X as it is referred to here in the State of Hockey. No mention of the all glass wall on one end giving a magnificent view of the state capital and the cathedral. No mention that the Wild have sold out every single home game they have ever played. No mention of the wonderful interior d├ęcor detailing the history of hockey in MN. No mention of the ceremonial ‘flag plant’ at center ice at the start of the game. No mention of the town of St. Paul. I’d encourage another visit to St. Paul and next time; have a look around.