Leaving the house 12 hours before puck drop of a regular season game may seem a tad excessive to some, but not to me. My 5:00am wakeup, shower, and last-minute packing was well worth it. Thanks to Pete Olsen, the Columbus Blue Jackets, a friend (@zinzwcbj), and my “sister” Annie, March 12, 2013 was far and away the greatest day of my life thus far. I honestly can’t describe the feelings I had tonight in any other word than “perfect.”
After a quick stop at the drugstore for travel toothpaste, and then Starbucks for my mandatory chai latte, I hit the road for Columbus, all 165 miles of it. A super fun and upbeat mix played through my car stereo while I sipped my latte and hit the cruise control button. My GPS decided to not work properly when I was looking for a place to go shopping, but all was not lost. I stopped at a department store, bought a cute outfit for the night, and hit the road again.
I got to Columbus, did some more shopping, hung out with friends, and then got ready. Unfortunately, I had to do my own makeup for the evening. I’ve never done my own makeup, and I didn’t have everything I needed, so I looked pretty ratchet. Not to mention my boy face, ugly nose, and gross cheekbones got in the way of me looking, at least to me, good. Oh, and my boobs were non-existent, which is highly disappointing.
But when it comes down to it, how I looked didn’t really matter (except it did, a lot), because I was finally, for the first time ever, presenting as a female in public. I rocked my new 4 inch heels, which, by the way, make my calves look dynamite. I know people where staring and judging me, and probably felt uncomfortable around me, but I don’t care. I was out as me, not masked by some male character.
Anyway, enough of that, time to get to the CBJ Social Suite experience! As soon as we got to the suite I met Rob, the guy behind the CBJ Social Suite, and one of the voices of the Blue Jackets’ Twitter account. He’s an awesome guy, and a lot of fun to be around! He definitely set the bar high for the night.
As more people started to fill the suite, I could feel the friendships, the bonds between everyone in the room. The camaraderie between everyone in the suite was infectious. Though I do have to say, I felt a bit overwhelmed and didn’t open up as much as I would have liked. I don’t know if it was because of intimidation (being the newcomer to such a die-hard group of fans always is), or because I love the Canucks just as much as the Blue Jackets (frenemy territory?), or because I was self-conscious about presenting female for the first time. Whatever the reason was I will figure out, and do my best to overcome it when I join the Columbus community.
I quickly came to the conclusion that I am one of the most quiet people at a hockey game. My coach/scout mode clicked on right from the first puck drop. I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t take out a legal pad and start writing down my observations. But that’s probably just because I didn’t have a legal pad or pen with me.
The game was extremely exciting, though it took a while for the crowd to really get into it, in my opinion. The Canucks seemed to maintain pressure very well, and get a lot of pucks to the net. Luckily Bobrovsky and company played a tight defensive game. The shot count was heavily in Vancouver’s favor, but the young Russian goaltender came up big quite often, and the number of blocked shots was nothing short of impressive.
The second period is when things got really exciting. Letestu fired a shot low to the far side on Luongo, then cut across the front of the net, picked up his own rebound, and slid it by Lu’s right skate to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead 3:04 into the period. The Canucks were able to tie the game at 16:11, a Jason Garrison (You Can Play booster who marched in Vancouver Pride) howitzer from the left point, just seconds after the Blue Jackets killed a penalty to Ryan Johansen.
Going into the third, I could feel a shootout looming. Neither team was finding the net on prime scoring chances, and there were plenty. Both teams were victims of poor puck-luck. Towards the end of the third period, Daniel Sedin’s stick somehow found its way into Bobrovsky’s face, resulting in a lengthy stoppage in play and a visit from the CBJ trainer. No penalty was called on the play, though there should have been. I know I have a soft spot for goalies, but I think anyone would agree that it was a textbook high stick. Had it been any other player than a goaltender, the referees would have likely called Sedin for 2 minutes, possibly 4.
Something I was not expecting, was how nervous my host was throughout the entire game. I honestly thought Pete was going to have a nervous breakdown before overtime, heck, before the start of the second period even. He kept saying, “I feel a Canucks’ goal coming soon.” Of course, being the Canucks aficionado that I am, had to put him at ease multiple times throughout the game, and each time I was proven right (as usual). I’m not quite a Blue Jackets aficionado just yet, but I will be, promise. The feedback I’ve seen from CBJ faithful indicates a distaste for the way the game was officiated, and I can see where they are coming from; Atkinson took a stick to the face, which drew blood, but no call was made; Calvert was boarded in a similar fashion as the Johansen penalty against Garrison, no call. I heard jeers from fans calling Canuck’s divers, and accusations that the refs hate the Blue Jackets. As a life-long Canucks fan, and a newfound CBJ fanatic, it is hard for me to agree with those statements. I know that there are players in the league who embellish, and they are seen on every team. I know that officials make mistakes, and sometimes they are one-sided. That being said, I thought the game was officiated well. There were a lot of non-calls on both sides, and the calls that were made looked fair to me, except the non-call on Daniel for the high stick.
Most Jackets fans seem livid over the fact that Mason Raymond’s spin-o-rama shootout goal counted. They say there wasn’t continuous motion. The way I saw it, Raymond’s goal was legitimate, though there is some room for argument. Rule 24.2 states, in part, “The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete.” The rule says nothing of the player staying in constant motion, and makes clear that a spin-o-rama move is legal in penalty shots and shootouts. The only question that remains; does the puck stay in constant motion towards the net? There were two officials at the goal line (one referee, one linesman), and neither hesitated on the call. The Blue Jackets bench did not put up a significant fight against the call, though there was some concern coming from Todd Richards. However you slice it, the goal officially stands, and the Canucks took home the two points.
Despite not experiencing a CBJ win while in the Social Suite, I did have an amazing time! I forgot how energetic the crowd gets after the Jackets score. It was exhilarating to experience it first-hand as a CBJ fan. That’s something I never felt before; I’d always gone to Nationwide Arena as a Canucks fan. Sorry, CBJ fam! :/
Though my loyalties were split during the game, and I would have loved to see the game go into a 17 round shootout after 65 minutes of 0-0 hockey, there was one part of my experience that I can truly call the icing on the fabulous, calorie-free cake: I finally got to see Roberto Luongo play! Lu has been my favorite goaltender since he was a Florida Panther. I always wanted to see him play, but every time I saw the Canucks come to Columbus, Schneider got the call. Seeing Luongo play was a dream come true, even if it was against CBJ. Though I would have preferred I saw him play in Vancouver against anyone but the Blue Jackets, but you can’t get everything you ask for, right?
All-in-all, March 12, 2013 will forever be etched in my memory, and in my heart, as a perfect day. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who helped me, everyone at the game, and everyone who supports me both near and far. You guys and gals keep me focused on my future, and help me push through the tough times I have every day. I can never make it up to you, but I will try my best to make you all proud. :’)
Join The Battle! xoxo, Alyssa