Finally, the goal of our trip has arrived. We attended a hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres. These are the same two teams that played on outdoor game in the snow in Buffalo. Gratefully, this game was in Mellon Arena, not the sub-arctic.
We left the hotel early, 5:45 for a 7:30 game. The parking lots are in tiers on hills above the arena – the earlier you arrive, the lower on the hill you get to park. We got there about 6 and the doors were already open. So we went in early so that my husband could prowl around the pro shop. He got him a Penquins jersey with Sidney Crosby’s name and number on it. I knew that right away – he wore it out of the store. I think a pin and team zamboni were in the smaller bag. We got free posters today. Then we went to find our seats.
The Mellon Arena is nicknamed the Igloo – not to remind us of the frozen tundra, but because it looks a little like one. When you get into the seating area, the roof is high, domed to resemble the igloo. Very interesting effect. Our seats were perfect, near center ice. I took a few photos of the arena before the game, then a few during warm-ups. I had hoped to get a shot of Sidney Crosby, but after trying to come back from a high ankle sprain on the road, he was put back on the shelf just before what would be his first home game back.
I did take a few photos during the game as well, but I really don’t like to do that because I prefer to watch the game. The game started on time and I must say the fans in Pittsburgh are not the type that need to be begged to make noise for their team. Most of it is spontaneous!
The Penguins came out strong and led 1- 0 after the first period. Since Sid didn’t play tonight, we were able to give our full attention to Evgeny Malkin, a gifted young man who seems to make plays out of thin air. He has speed, agility, strength, and best of all, creativity. I haven’t enjoyed watching a single player this much since I saw Marty St Louis before he even made the NHL. I knew he had a future. So does Malkin. God keep him healthy.
The second period was the best period of the game. George LaRoque took a call for boarding – got 5 minutes and a game misconduct. (We now knew there’d be no fighting tonight – Pittsburgh’s best goon was gone for the game. He got ejected with that game misconduct call.) However, this is where the best part of the game began!! Pittsburgh killed of that 5 minute penalty with energy, skill, creativity and desire. It was a thing of beauty – passes that were perfect, tape to tape, speed in the defensive and neutral zones. And confidence! During this penalty kill in particular and in the second period in general, it was obvious the Penguins believed they would win! The score at the end of two was 3 to 1.
The third period was a slight let down after the incredible energy of the second period. The Pens scored an additional 4 goals for a game total of 7. The Sabres scored 2 additional goals for a game total of 3. A final score of 7 to 3 indicates a game with a lot of scoring. You had to be there to know how entertaining it was. The score doesn’t tell the tale.
The fans at “The Igloo” were friendly and the food was okay, though not spectacular. It is definitely an older arena that is showing its age. But a new arena is planned and hopefully will occur soon. They’ve sold out 35 consecutive games! In fact, they added the 1000 th person to the Season Ticket Waiting List. This would definitely be a place to come back to.
Tomorrow we leave Pittsburgh and head out to Mechanicsburg, near the town of Hershey, PA. Ah, yes, the chocolate town! Better get to bed so I can get up a bit earlier tomorrow — and get back on the road.