Recently, I had the pleasure of attending one of the two ‘2014 Stadium Series NHL Games’ held at Yankee Stadium with Tom Marianacci, Rick Sanchez, and Mitch Pomerance. For those of you who are not familiar, the NHL recently started adding outdoor hockey games to their regular scheduled games based on the success of their annual outdoor game, ‘The Winter Classic’. The biggest fear for hockey fans is, that like any professional sports organization, once they find something that boosts ratings they will surely find a way to ruin it. Fortunately for us, it hadn’t yet hit that mark, and the entire trip was a blast!
The New York Rangers were playing the New York Islanders at 7:30 PM, and the forecast called for a high of 10 degrees. At 4:30 PM, each of us went through the checklist of items necessary for such a cold game:
- Warm socks, check.
- Gloves, check.
- Hat, check.
- Another pair of socks, check.
- 2nd thoughts about this whole thing? Maybe.
We were ready to take on whatever Mother Nature could throw our way…
Thanks to Mitch’s aggressive driving skills (which he picked up on the mean streets of Augusta, Georgia), and his ability to sweet talk one of the parking garage attendants, we had arrived at our destination in time to make the National Anthem. Keep in mind, he did have to ignore Rick’s pleads to stop for a $0.90 chicken roll at one of the many Kennedy Fried Chickens we passed on the way. Once inside, staff tossed game-goers hand warmers that we gladly accepted, and then made our way to our seats. Just a minute or two of game play had passed, and the score was still knotted up at 0-0, perfect – we hadn’t missed much.
I have been to plenty of Ranger games at Madison Square Garden but never to an outdoor game; I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Would the game be slowed down by the cold? Would the crowd be less enthusiastic because they weren’t as close to the ice? Would Rick ever stop talking about those chicken rolls we passed up? The answer to all these questions was a resounding ‘No’. The game was as fast paced as ever, the fans were seemingly louder than at MSG, and Rick, well Rick seemed okay for the time being, even without the chicken roll.
As the first period came to an end, we decided to try and get warm in the lounge area, and as one might expect, about 500 other people had the same idea. So, it was back to our seats to catch the intermission entertainment. Cee Lo Green from ‘The Voice’ performed his greatest hits to a not so forgiving New York crowd. I’ve never been to a Red Sox vs. Yankees game, but I imagine this is what it sounds like when David Ortiz comes to bat. As the 2nd period started, Tom suggested we try for the lounge again, but this time, we went 5 minutes before the end of the period. When the time came, we all got up to make our way to the door… nope! Another line! I guess we’re not as smart as we thought.
As we slowly advanced to the entrance of the lounge area, fighting the bitter cold, a few people tried to bribe the doorman for quicker access. Even if the doorman accepted this bribe, there was no way the people waiting on line for the past 15 minutes would ever let these line cutters through – and to the end of the line they went. There was a strict “20 people out, an arbitrary number of people in” policy being adhered to, and we had finally made it. Warmth!
After stating out loud how cold my toes were, Tom suggested I use some of his toe warmers that he had brought. “Toe warmers!? You’ve had toe warmers this whole time!?” Without missing a beat, Tom said, “Yeah of course I do, it’s cold out.” Now, I don’t know how many of you are fans of the Farrelly brothers’ movies (Something About Mary, Kingpin, Hall Pass), but I couldn’t help but think back to the scene in Dumb and Dumber where Harry couldn’t feel his hands and Lloyd gave him a pair of his extra gloves which he’s had “all along” because they “we’re in the Rockies.” (You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siQEIDNebRk). No, I’m not comparing Tom to Llyod!
We spent the first half of the 3rd period inside the lounge warming up and catching our breath.
The Rangers took the lead, and it was now time to return to our seats. We invested too much to even consider leaving early in order to beat the traffic and the Islanders were not giving up at all on their fight to win this game. If we left and the game got tied up, we’d surely regret missing overtime or possibly a shootout.
In the end, similar to the Rangers, we all came away with a win. Nobody lost any fingers or toes, the traffic on the ride home was minimal, and we were now back in the warmth of a heated car.
If there’s one thing to take away from this whole trip, I guess you could say that “if ConvergeDirect is willing to sit outside in single digit temperatures to watch a hockey game than you could only imagine what they’d do for their clients from the comfort of their office.”
Oh, I almost forgot… If you happen to see Rick and find yourself near a Kennedy Fried Chicken, do yourself a favor and buy him a Chicken Roll or two. You’ll thank me later.
Ed Bocknik II