While I’ve had a few years to familiarize myself with the more obvious differences in the sexes, I had to admit that I’d never considered the question in the context of ice hockey. So when presented with the perfect opportunity to come up to speed on that topic, I jumped on it.
I had spent the previous night at a sold-out TD Garden, home of the tradition-laden Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics…and a pretty popular 59-year-old college hockey get-together they call the Beanpot.
On this night I was headed to Conte Forum, on the campus of Boston College, where I would experience that event’s little sister – the 33rd annual Women’s Beanpot.
It’s called the Beanpawt, and it’s held every February at The Gahden. As in “Oh my Gawd, I’m goin’ ovah to The Gahden for the Beanpawt!”
The alert reader will of course recognize that the sporting event du jour takes place in Boston, home of the hypnotic, syrupy sweet accent popularized by postman extraordinaire Cliff Clavin.
I had not been to the Gahden since it was the Boston Garden, i.e. before it became headlined by a series of financial services companies. To get there back in those days, you simply took either the Green or Orange line to North Station and then followed the rats.
If you were attending a game at that time, it was tremendously helpful if you were a “people person”, since you and your fellow fans were all going to be squeezing into seats that conformed to the size of the average Bostonian – the 1928 version. And of course you hoped like hell that it wasn’t an overly warm day, because there was no air conditioning in the building.
People loved this place. No, really – they did.
Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA is perfectly suited for a small-market location. Somewhere between “serviceable” and “deluxe”, it is big and gleaming enough to inspire civic pride, yet modest enough to operate profitably.
There are some flashes of big-time amenities, such as the Cross Bar, where for the price of a mere two-drink minimum (on top of your regular ticket price) you can while away the game at a cocktail table overlooking one of the goals. But in general, nothing is over the top or flashy. And clean? Crumbs don’t dare fall off hot dog buns here. And if they did, somebody would be there to catch them before they hit the floor.
I was in search of an Official Program for the minor-league hockey game between the Ontario Reign and the Utah Grizzlies. I hadn’t seen any being hawked when I entered the arena, so I asked the usher stationed at the portal to my section where I might go to find one. He seemed genuinely concerned, and suggested I try the Main Entrance. Which I did…to no avail.
A customer service representative working there was also intent upon helping me, but he didn’t have an answer either. “Let’s try the souvenir stand,” he said, and off we went.
The search wound up involving about a half-dozen well-intentioned employees of Citizens Business Bank Arena, and eventually brought me all the way around the concourse – so I got a program AND a free guided tour. Very nice.
It’s all very simple. Knowing full well that The Bird would be riding shotgun, I was ornithologically required to choose an Anaheim Ducks game for the NHL portion of the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour schedule.
Come to think of it…“riding shotgun” is probably not the best phrase to use in a paragraph that includes Ducks and Birds. But I digress.
On paper, the game between Anaheim and the Chicago Blackhawks should have been a sell-out, given that the defending Stanley Cup champs have a strong contingent of ex-pat fans who brought their love of both warm weather and their former hometown team with them from Chicago. Moreover, the two teams are currently jostling for position for the final play-off spot in the Western Conference. And to top it all off, it was Free Hat Night, one of just six promotional games on the Duck’s schedule.
So when the game popped up as an opportunity on Goldstar.com (the absolute best discounted event access site in the Free World), I took it as a continuation of Christmas and accepted the thoughtful gift of half-price tickets.