Hockey Night in Anaheim
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by Laramie Boyd
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Ever been to a hockey game? For the first time in our long lives, my wife and I went to
a match at The Pond, the ice rink at Honda Center, home of The Anaheim Ducks. Where else would ducks play but at a pond? The ducks
were pitted against the Vancouver Canucks. The Ducks vs. the Canucks, how poetic. It's a 2 hour drive between our home in Palm Desert
and Anaheim, both ways, but the time flies when you have another couple in the car to visit with, as we did. Our Canadian neighbors
who live next door to us in Palm Desert thought we might enjoy a night watching the game the Canadians claim to have invented. We
Arriving early so as not to miss any pre-game activities, we paid the $15 parking
fee and took a long walk to the arena. Surrounded by a crew of armed police at the entrance, Security scanned some of our belongings
and bodies. We then headed for the doors that opened to the main lobby. Here, concession stands lined up offering anything you might
need to enjoy the game. There were the usual memorabilia stands plus food stations offering pizza, popcorn, hot dogs, ice cream, barbecued
ribs, all sorts of goodies, and of course what sporting event would be complete without ice cold beer and spirits? For dinner we ate
light, opting for a slice of pizza each, 3 sodas and 1 beer. I had the beer. That came to $49. Oh well, not bad I suppose for a once
in a lifetime night at a hockey game.
After we took a tour round about the entire main
circular floor, we entered the rink area and found our seats, 4 aisle row seats with a perfect view of the ice. The 4 on-line tickets
we had bought came to $324. The four of us were beginning to understand why the hockey players earned the salaries they received,
some pay checks in the millions of dollars. So far, parking, food, and admission for the 4 of us came to $395, plus gas. Oh well,
we were having a ball and couldn't care less about the cost, or at least I didn't. I wanted the experience.
It was Armed Services Appreciation night at The Pond, so a service man and woman sang, in turn, "Oh Canada" and "The Star Spangled
Banner." Then it was time for hockey. In a blaze of music and flashing, moving, color-changing lights, the 23 players on each team
streaked out of the player tunnels onto the ice for the warm-ups, while fans decked out in Duck and Canuck jerseys reached down from
the seats adjoining the tunnel to try to get a high-five from any of the players skating by. Swerving, darting in and out of each
other in circular maneuvers, the Ducks at one end of the ice, the Canucks at the other, and not once was there a head on collision.
I wondered, how could that be? They must be very good skaters, right?
I had seen hockey
on TV a few times, especially during the Olympics, but like any sporting event, seeing it on the tube was not like seeing it live.
The speed of the skaters roaring by the protective plastic see-through barrier, the accuracy in shooting the 1" thick, 3" diameter,
6 oz. vulcanized rubber puck at the net through the air or on the ice at speeds approaching 100 mph, the roar of the rabid fans when
a good play or a score was made, the screaming of the public address announcer, and the rough and tumble contact between the opposing
players, put that together and it adds up to 60 minutes of non-stop action. Going to ice rinks as a kid, renting skates, falling down
several times on the cold wet ice, that was ice skating to me. This was something else again. The spectacle we all saw at The Pond
that night was breathtaking. Incidentally, the score ended up Ducks 3, Canucks 1. The California team won out over the Canadian team
on this night, but the score didn't really matter, as we all just enjoyed the sights and sounds and the talent of the young men on
the ice. There are some things in life we do that can't be measured either good or bad by the price we pay to do them. This was one
of those nights for me, and believe me it was good.