What is it about going to a live sporting event that just makes it so much better?
No, I was not one of those that shelled out several hundred dollars for a ticket at Levi’s Stadium for a seat this past weekend at the NFC championship game … but I did recently enjoy a trip to San Jose for a game at The Shark Tank, better known as SAP Center.
My niece Kristel – who is always looking for an opportunity to get some column space – had never been to a hockey game and since my daughter Ally and I are Sharks fans, we try to get to at least one home game a season.
This year, we knew we wanted to go when the Sharks faced off with the Dallas Stars. Ally’s favorite player, former Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, left the team during the offseason to sign with the Stars and we wanted to be there when he returned to San Jose.
So with Kristel, Ally, friend Jonyce and I all suiting up in some Sharks gear, we headed out for a girls’ night at the ‘Tank’.
Not only was it a game we wanted to see because of Pavelski, it also happened to be a giveaway night, which I love just because it’s always fun to have a special memento from the game that didn’t cost you $40 extra.
We seem to have found our favorite spot in the arena as well; in a section that is just below the suites, the last row at the top of the very steep stairs so we can stand up and cheer as much as we want and not be in the sight lines of the people behind us, since they are up on another tier. Get close to the end of the row, right over the center ice line, you can see every part of the ice surface and it’s also a good location to view the Jumbotron.
This particular game, before the National Anthem, they played a video tribute to the player they referred to as “Captain America” with clips of Joe Pavelski’s memorable moments. The cheering started then and didn’t end for about three minutes as the former Shark came out on the ice and lifted his hockey stick to acknowledge the standing ovation. Ally cried. We cheered and clapped until our hands hurt. I got a little teary-eyed myself and we agreed that he just needs to come back and be a Shark again. Not that it’s our decision, but that’s what we want to happen.
Of course there was the educational aspect of the game as well, explaining some of the intricacies to my niece such as why there was a penalty called, what icing is, why you can body slam an opponent into the boards and get away with it, etc.
We were excited when the Sharks got a power play to show her the patented shark bite move and even more excited when we got to stomp and cheer for a goal.
There were two San Jose goals in the game and just one for Dallas – the Stars scored early in the first period, San Jose tied it up late in the first and then took the lead in the second period when Patrick Marleau – who happened to be playing in his 1700th NHL game that night – got the winning goal. He got interviewed after the game as we all stood and chanted “Pat-ty! Pat-ty!”
We couldn’t have picked a better game to introduce my niece to the fun of live hockey. She is hooked. No hockey pun intended.
My daughter’s biggest lament of the night was that no cameras captured her as she got up and danced and jumped around during every break when they scraped the ice and fans were shown on the Jumbotron. She really wants to get on it.
My other niece, Kristel’s younger sister Vicky, felt a little left out as she was working and indicated that she wanted to go to a game as well. So the next outing will be Ally and her husband Judd, Kristel and Vicky, going for Ally’s birthday in February. She’s going to make a “Put me on the Jumbotron – it’s my birthday!” sign – maybe that will get the job done.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.