Friday, March 13, 2009

Let's go to a hockey game!

It was a crazy cold day for the 2nd week in March. -6 degrees to start the day. So, if you live in Minnesota and it's really cold yet again....what do you do? You go and sit in a cold ice arena to watch hockey of course! It's High School Hockey State Tournament time in Minnesota! The tournament is held at the Excel Center in St. Paul. It was so cold yesterday that the steam from the nearby Science Museum billowed up like a mushroom cloud. This was the view as we entered the parking ramp.

Yep...I said how things have changed! You see, Eric has been taking me to the Hockey Tournament each year since 1979....umm....that would be 30 years ago. I must have been in diapers. Back in those days he wouldn't think of spending good money to park in the we walked....and the cold and snow. Some years it seemed like we walked for miles! Maybe it was because we did. As the years have gone by he's decided that the ramp fees were a small price to pay for the ease of parking nearby. I think that year I carried little Billy on my back and we gave him big sad eyes might have been the turning point. Anyway, the ramp has been a nice change!

The hockey tournament is sort of a big deal here in Minnesota. There is a lot of tradition surrounding it, and a lot of fanfare. Eric's dad has been getting season tickets to the tournament since the early 1960's....and he generously shares them with us. This year is an extra special one for us because Eden Prairie has made it into the tournament, so we have our home team to cheer for! Some of Billy's buddies have brothers on the team...that's cool too. Their first game was yesterday, I brought my camera....and took a lot of pictures...come on and watch it with me.

Eden Prairie played the first game of the day, starting at 11:00 a.m. Part of the tradition of the tournament is in introducing the teams. They stand in a row at each end of the ice....

...if there are cheerleaders, they are introduced. Sometimes the cheerleaders can skate, sometimes not. The E.P. Girls managed to stay on their skates....others, not so much.

One by one the boys skated up to the blue line, where one of the many camera men were waiting.

The cheerleader's say a little cheer for each of them. Rah Rah Ree, kick 'em in the knee, Rah Rah Rass....kick 'em in the other knee. Not really, it's just something we used to say in grade school. Yep, I'm really a 12 year old at heart.

The boys are each filmed saying "Hi Mom!" for the T.V. audience....

...and it's shown on the big jumbotron at the ice arena. "Hi Mom!" Poor frozen hockey mom's, all that time spent in a freezing arena and all they get is hi.

Then there's the Star Spangled Banner. The whole time the kids are getting anxious to get out on the ice and play some hockey! Even the cheerleaders seemed nervous. Can we get out of here before I fall down?

They huddle up, do their pregame pep talk....

...the band is playing....

...the fans are cheering....

...and everyone, including these guys are waiting for the game to get started! Or maybe they are thinking about the big breakfast that they just's hard to tell. But they look happy. This is Tom...who is Eric's dad's friend, Eric's dad Bill, and Eric. I was there too but was taking the picture...ummm....I guess you knew that.

The Zamboni's were getting the ice ready. The tournament is such a big deal that they have two Zamboni's. Something about giving the ice more time to set up after resurfacing...but I don't know nuthin' about that stuff. I just like to watch them go around and around.

And then it's time for HOCKEY!!

Eden Prairie started out strong, scoring in the first 2 minutes of the game. is a referee....what is he doing? Maybe he's saying "Hi Mom!" No, that can't be it...maybe he's waving at a cute cheerleader......eww....he's too old for that. Oh, wait, it's a penalty.

Two minutes don't remember...maybe it was high sticking. Anyway, that bad boy has to sit in jail for two minutes while his teammates try to fight off the power play.

I think that our goalie is looking forward to the action being at the other end of the ice for a's nerve wracking.

And then, E.P. scores on the power play! 2-0 after the first period. Yes! But they seemed to let up a little in the 2nd period....and the other team, Hill Murray, scored.

I love the High School tournament, there's so much excitement. Maybe it's the energy that the crowd full of teenagers brings. Maybe it's the snow cones! Yoohoo, over here, so what if it's -6 degrees outside, everyone needs a snow cone! Actually, that smart mouthed Mii on my shoulder told me that I should pass on them, so I did. But they sure looked good!

And then there was more hockey.

Sometimes those hockey players get a little rough. Look at these two putting this poor E.P. skater in a hockey sandwich....

...then one of them hooked the E.P. players skate with his stick and flipped him onto the ice...

ooph ...the big meanie. He had to go sit in jail. But we couldn't score.
Sometimes the guys really put their heads into the games. Wait...where are their heads?

Oh...where is my head? Look...cotton candy....oh, it looks so sweet and fluffy and...oh be quiet you stupid Mii, a girl can look can't she? You know, a little eye candy? OK...I won't go there.
The tournament has kind of a circus atmosphere....

....see, there are even zebras there. Do these stripes make me look fat??

OK, back to hockey. Hill Murray tied it up in the 3rd period.

Time was running out. There were a lot of time outs for commercials. Eden Prairie started playing harder.

But it wasn't enough. In the end the game was tied.

But tournament games can't end with a tie. That meant an 8 minute sudden death overtime. Doesn't that sound ominous? Hill Murray's coach looked intense. His name is Bill Lechner, Eric played college soccer with his brother Dave at Hamline....they look a lot a like....just thought I'd throw in some trivia to ease the tension that's building... :-)

Eden Prairie was huddled together making a plan....or trying not to hurl...could have been either, or both.

And then, almost 3 minutes into the overtime.....Eden Prairie scored! There was a celebratory dog pile in the corner of the rink. Woo Hoo!
...and there was the agony of defeat for the H.M. goalie. Boo Hoo.

They had played hard, they were disappointed...
....there's the score....

...let's shake hands.....but wait, what is that zebra doing over by the boards??

...the announcement comes....the goal is being challenged......What?? It was clearly a legitamet goal...I saw the whole thing from way up here in the stands....

The H.M. guys had some renewed hope....could it be?

....all eyes were on the officials table and that darned zebra........they were there for a loooooooonnnnnnnggggggg time. I heard later it was over 6 minutes. It seemed like forever. I can't imagine how long it seemed for the players.
I think a few prayers were said....and then....and then....are you ready?
The goal counts! Eden Prairie wins!

The celebration begins again.

Hopes for the title are still alive.

....time for both sides to wipe their tears and shake hands...and yes the boys cry. And the fans breath a sigh of relief. So much excitement.

And then, they clear the ice and it's time for the next game to start and the fanfare to start all over again.

You see, it's State Hockey Tournament time in's exciting! And I get to go again tonight! Go E.P.! So much excitement leaves me weak in the's either that or too much volleyball this week. Anyway...ummm Eric, can we park in the ramp again tonight?? Pretty Please.....

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