Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hockey Trip to Chicago - Cubs and Blackhawks

Americans love sports. They put us Canadians to shame when it comes to fanaticism and the overall attention that they pay to their collegiate and professional teams. It is because of this that every time I am in an American urban centre I try to attend a game of some sort. On this trip I was lucky enough to get in a Cubs and Blackhawks game.

Almost immediately after checking into our hotel I met up with our larger team to head out to the Cubs game. It was a rainy Thursday afternoon and I was so relieved that they were actually going to play (they were rained out the day before) I didn't properly dress for the occasion. After a quick ride on the train we were at the second oldest park in the MLB.

The slow starting Cubs were playing the World Champ Giants and I was excited to see one of my favorites up close: Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. Our tickets were just past first base about 5 rows up. I thought they were pretty fantastic.

Pablo! Who is obviously comfortable on both sides of any plate. (Yes, that was a switch hitter fat joke...Heyo!) Seriously though, the guy is freaking huge.

The rain and snow were pretty cold so I made up for my earlier negligence by picking up a tuque and alternating between beers and hot chocolates for beverages. Obviously in the picture below the red nose is from the cold.

The Cubs started the game hot but it seemed an inevitability that they would lose. Living up to expectation the Giants overcame a 5 run deficit and ended up squeaking through with a win.

After some deep reflection on the loss we realized that we really didn't care either way and were in the mood to celebrate.

Pre Epic Slap Fight BFF's

The next night straight from our own games at the rink in Bensenville we headed to the United Center for my Detroit Redwings against the Blackhawks.

Our seats were way up in the nosebleed section where I firmly represented the winged wheel.

The atmosphere in the rink was absolutely crazy. The arena has long been know as the Madhouse on Madison and we fully experienced that right off the bat during the anthem. Everybody, and I mean everybody was cheering, clapping and yellsinging the Star Spangled Banner. It was something to take in. During the game every great play on the ice was acknowledged wildly by the crowd and multiple chants of "Lets Go Blackhawks" or "Detroit Sucks" reverberated through the building repeatedly. Many of the die-hard Oilers fans with me admitted that the atmosphere in the building matched the Stanley Cup finals in Edmonton a few years back. But this game was only just a Friday night game against a division rival. It was amazing.

The hockey on the ice was pretty stellar with a couple of lead changes, an overtime with only one whistle and  a shootout that went into extra shooters. The Blackhawks won 3-2 but my Wings managed to get a much needed point. It was the second best outcome I could hope for on the night.

Even now a couple weeks on I can't help but think how great watching a game at the United Center was. It's almost embarrassing to think that our American friends are better in rink hockey fans than us Canadians -  but it's true and its why I love watching games in the USA.

More on the Hockey Trip - Part 1 & Part 3

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