Monday, March 17, 2008

The Annual Hockey Road Trip

This past weekend was the hockey road trip that I plan every year. In the past we had visited cities like Columbus, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. This year we planned on going to Ottawa, but the Senators were sold out. So we had to make other plans. I decided an OHL trip could be fun, (and cheap!) So this past weekend we hit London on Friday, Plymouth on Saturday and Saginaw on Sunday.

We began in London, at the very swanky John Labatt Centre. The Knights are super popular so we ended up with standing room seats. I was amazed at the support these guys got from London. Growing up in the GTA, OHL hockey doesn't draw very well. But London sells out every game! The arena was NHL calibre, seating 10,000 with a big league feel to it. The concourse was similar to an NHL arena. As for the game, it was a fight filled blowout for the home town London Knights. It was a great start to the weekend.

Next we travelled to Plymouth, (just outside of Detroit) to see the Whalers face Steven Stamkos and the Sarnia Sting. Stamkos is the consensus #1 pick in this summer's NHL draft, and it was easy to see why. He took over the game, and every time he touched the puck the arena would be on the edge of their seat. He sniped a couple nifty goals, and set-up a couple more. Our seats were directly behind the bench, which was a cool experience. A little hadr to see at times, but it was fun.

Next our travels took us to the Dow Event Center in Saginaw. We watched a tight game between the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers. After regulation the game was tied so off to overtime, and eventually a shootout. Saginaw potted the only shootout goal and when they did the fans went bananas! Another great game, and a great way to cap off the weekend.

One thing I noticed at all 3 of the games we went to was just how excited the fans got. Fans in Barrie tend to be reserved and very polite, and fans in Mississauga and Brampton... well they just don't exist. Most nights it was a half-empty building when I'd go to those games. Considering tickets run about $15, I'd say an OHL road trip is a pretty sweet option. Maybe next year we head east and check out Oshawa, Kingston and Peterborough?