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Oil Country

1 February 2017

I am in Edmonton all week, and was fortunate to have attended the Wild game last night. I was pretty excited, considering this was the view from my hotel room:

rogersday

My colleague and I purchased tickets off the secondary market just a few hours before the game. We thought about waiting longer to see if prices would drop, but I wanted to veg out at the hotel and she had a prior commitment. We agreed to meet at the arena, which was a poor decision on my part.

For some reason, once I get into an elevator, I lose my bearings completely, so I ended up going the wrong way in the Pedway and ended up wandering around the streets of Edmonton looking for the arena. It’s truly amazing that I could not find an arena that I could see from my hotel room, but this story would be a lot more boring if I had arrived at the game without incident. My colleague called me to tell me she was on her way (she was also running late), and when I told her I was by the RBC building on Jasper Ave, she was perplexed. I could barely work my phone at this point as my hands were freezing, but we managed to meet up outside a Tim Horton’s (of course) and got back into the Pedway. And then once we exited the Pedway from the same doors I’d used to get into the hotel Monday evening, I realized the profundity of my gaffe.

The Wild scored right as we arrived and climbed the stairs to security screening. We went through the metal detectors and held our breaths while our ticket were scanned, hoping they were legit (they were). My very first impression once we were inside was: the arena is spacious. Most arenas feel cramped, and I feel like I’m amidst a herd of cattle trying to navigate through concourses, but I could have driven a freaking tank down the Rogers Place concourse. It did feel very removed from the game – the concourse is closed off from the action, so we couldn’t see the game clock or any other action. We did see a giant escalator, which I learned is the longest escalator in North America. I desperately wanted to ride it up, but it was going down. It was actually quite complicated to find an up escalator.

Before we ascended to our seats in the upper concourse with the rest of the plebes, my colleague wanted to take a picture with a larger-than-life bobblehead. I recently established my new motto as “What’s one more regret?” (thank you, Brian), so we got in line and had the promotional woman snap some pix.

rogersnosepickcensored

Some identities protected

I love being me.

We finally found an up escalator (the huge escalator was going down), but were probably as far away from our section as possible. We made it to our section with just a couple minutes to go in the period, during a stoppage, so we couldn’t get to our seats due to the number of people coming up to get their beers. We ended up having to stand at the top of the section until the end of the period, but I was able to see the Wild score their second goal, with about 4 seconds left in the period!

We had to wait until practically the entire section emptied before we could get to our seats, but while we were waiting, another colleague came up the stairs. It turned out he was in our section. Probably half of our department was at the game, since most people are either Wild fans or Oilers fans (with a few exceptions – my director is a Flames fan and my boss is a Red Wings fan). We talked to him and his wife for a little bit before we were finally able to sit down. It turned out we were in the very top row, which was a little disconcerting, because the upper deck is really steep. I felt a bit dizzy for awhile before I adjusted, between that and the fact that I could feel the floor shaking a bit. I trust structural engineers, but at the same time, it was disconcerting to feel the concrete moving underneath us.

I can’t be mad about the view, though.

rogersice

The video board is HUGE, the picture is extremely clear, and that sucker is bright. It’s SO bright that when my colleague and I were trying to take a selfie, the white background of the video at the time was so bright I was glowing in the photo. We had to wait until the picture changed.

The Wild scored again in the second period to make it 3-0, and I discovered I was the only Wild fan in the section — or anywhere nearby. But I stood up and cheered and made a bunch of noise anyway. The arena was pretty dead, probably because the Oilers were down 3-0, but there were still moments of crowd noise. However, as I looked around the arena, no one seemed to be moving or cheering. For this purely scientific reason, I conclude that the Oilers pump in fake crowd noise.

The Oilers finally scored with just under 9 to go in the period. Their goal song is awful. The Wild scored less than 2 minutes later, so that quieted the fans for awhile. I stood up and cheered again. I don’t think I was a very popular lady. The Oilers made it 4-2 on a PPG toward the end of the period, so the game wasn’t completely under control at the second intermission, though I felt fairly confident. However, the last thing I wanted was to be in a hostile arena during a massive comeback from the home team.

We walked around the arena to find another colleague, who is a Duluthian (freshly returned from a VIP All-Star Game excursion he won) and of course a Wild fan. Another Wild fan found us while we were talking. “Ok, all three of us are here, good,” he said as he stopped for a moment. Check check. After that, we circumnavigated the concourse to meet up with my former boss, then went back to our seats. The Oilers fans were not super happy to see me, and I was met with several “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOs,” to which I responded “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” I know that’s tame for me, but this is Canada. In an attempt to assimilate, I said “Sore-y” when stepping past people to get to my seat.

In the third period, the Wild took an annoying penalty as Darcy Kuemper floated the puck over the glass. I was concerned a power play goal would start the Oilers comeback, but instead Chris Stewart (serving the penalty) scored coming out of the box, after sending Zucker in as a decoy. I could feel the passive aggression wafting off the Oilers fans around me as I cheered.

The Wild appeared to score one more time, but after a lengthy and confusing series of reviews, the goal was waved off. While we were waiting, the Edmontonians became restless and started yelling “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” in my general direction, so I yelled “It was me! I did it, I challenged the play!” I’m a friggin’ ambassador.

We stayed til the end of the game, then walked out, running into several more colleagues, including my friend’s boss and our director, who told me as a Flames fan, he was cheering for the Wild. How courteous. Unfortunately the Wild are stinking it up in Calgary as I write this.

I regret not eating any of the fancy concessions they had at the arena, but I had already eaten some dicey Thai curry from the food court near my hotel, so I was not interested in tempting fate. (The dicey Thai food ended up being fine, I was just being paranoid.) Or spending my own money. I had an absolute blast with my friend and I am so glad I was able to see the Wild live! I haven’t been to a game in a long time, since I no longer live in the Twin Cities.

rogersnight

Goodnight suitcase. Goodnight Rogers Place. Goodnight reflection of my face.

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