We left Sioux Falls, SD in the morning and headed out on Rt 229. After a few short miles, we switched over to Rt 42 and went southeast for about 12 miles until we came to Iowa – another state we had not visited before. In Iowa, we traveled Rt 9 – cornfields and more cornfields. The sky was dramatic with heavy clouds covering the sky. It made the sky seem very low and threatening. There were a few sunbeams trying to break through the overcast in the east. I thought of them as hope breaking through the despair we’d been witnessing the past few days.
About 45 minutes later, we entered Minnesota. At first the scenery looked much as it had in Iowa. Soon enough, however, we began to encounter hills and water – ponds, rivers, puddles from the heavy rain they’d had while we were in South Dakota. We took a break at Emma Kimmelbee’s (not sure on the spelling there) on Rt 169 and looked through the gift shop and bakery. Oh, the temptations there were terrible – fresh made pies, cookies, fudge. It smelled SO good.
We picked up the interstate and made our way to Minneapolis and finally to Woodbury, where our Hampton Inn is located. After unpacking in our non-smoking room that smelled like cigarette smoke near the doorway (we non-smokers are a real pain, we can smell that stuff a mile away!), we rested for a while before heading out to the hockey game.
Getting to and from the Xcel Energy Center was quite easy. We ended up early, so we did what any true hockey fan would do – we hit the pro-shop. They had some nice items. My husband picked up a pin for his collection and was disappointed that they didn’t have the mini-Zambonis he collects. They didn’t have any polo shirts in his size (only had small), either. As I said, disappointing!
Our seats, when we finally got in, were great – 26th row (no stairs for me, right at concourse level) and the middle of the row, nearly center ice. Great sight lines. The arena is made for hockey, with great sight lines all the way around. I was glad I didn’t have seats up in the upper balcony – real nose-bleeders at a very steep angle. I would have been afraid to stand up.
As it was, standing up was difficult. I think these were the narrowest seats we’ve had since we went to Montreal! For an overweight girl like myself, it was a tight fit. The way the seats are made, the posts for the arms cut into my hips, putting pressure on the tenderpoints there. That in turn caused my fibromyalgia, which I had just gotten to calm down that morning, to turn it up a few notches again. By the time warm-ups were done, I had pain in my legs, back, neck, shoulders and a headache. I caved and took medication because I didn’t want to be thinking more about the pain than the game! They had a large variety of foods to choose from, but the prices were very high – $4 for a bottle of water!! The food was tasty, though. The fans were pleasant but not overly thoughtful of others. When they jumped up after every goal, they forgot to sit back down right away, causing this short girl (and others) to miss the beginning of action after each goal.
The game started on time and featured the Minnesota Wild vs the Edmonton Oilers. We’re Wild fans, so it was easy to choose who to root for. But the Edmonton goaltender, Dwayne Roloson, was once a goaltender for the Minnesota Wild andwe had met him when he played for the Worcester IceCats in the American Hockey League. So I felt a little divided loyalty there. He was warmly welcomed back by the fans. Classy!
This was the third game of the year for the Wild and fourth for Edmonton, and it showed. There was very little intensity to this division game. There wasn’t much hitting and the energy level appeared to be stuck in neutral.
Both Roloson and Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom did credible jobs – Backstrom didn’t have to really make any spectacular saves and Roloson did not let in any soft goals. Penalties didn’t really play a role in the game. It was a clean but rather boring game, when compared to other games we’ve attended. The Wild did have a goal called back because it was determined that it was kicked in after review. The fans were not pleased by that – it seemed the entire arena booed loud and in unison. The final score of the game was Wild 2, Oilers 0. Pretty easy shut-out for Backstrom.
I had hoped to be able to give you a review of an exciting game to start out the season. Alas, it was not to be. No one particularly stood out. Mind you, I’m not saying there should always be a “star” or prima dona, but there should be guys you can point out that were really working hard and deserved to be noticed. That just wasn’t the case here. Both these teams will need to put more energy into their games if they hope to be competitive in the NHL’s Northwest Division. Otherwise, Vancouver will have their way with them. The Wild has the talent – now they need someone in the locker room to start kicking their collective butts!
Today we’re off to explore the Minnesota countryside. I’ll let you know what we find.