Ben still talks about the game we went to when the Maple Leafs beat the Swedes. The “Maple Leafs” were the Canadian junior team and the Swedes were the Swedish juniors and they were playing an exhibition match last December prior to the Ottawa World Junior Championships.
But this was hockey town. It was the Oilers versus the Kings and LA had secured third row seats, right behind the penalty boxes. I was jacked.
The evening started with a pre-game reception with Olympic Gold Medalist Carol Huynh. Carol is the epitome of what a Canadian Olympian should be: she is personable and friendly, modest and proud. I remember when Carol won her gold medal in wrestling at the Beijing games. And I remember thinking she didn’t look like a wrestler (whatever that means). And to meet her, well, she doesn’t look like someone who could tie me in knots on the mat. She was attending the hockey game that evening for some pre-game ceremonies and she had brought the medal with her. We all got a chance to hold it.
The game started and it was a bit tricky for the little ones to see much from so close. Tough for me to even see the play when it was on our side of the rink. The irony of being so close is you spend too much time watching the game on the Jumbotron.
Ben really picked up the local hockey jargon quickly. By the end of the first period, he was shouting “Go Oilers Go!” By the end of the second period, he was booing when the Oilers took a penalty and high-fiving the lady behind him when they scored. By the third period, he was shouting at the Oilers: “Come on ladies, SKATE!”
But the climax of the night came when a stray puck flew over the boards and high up into the air, landing only a few rows above us. Everyone scrambled, alternately covering their heads and diving down to grab the puck. Directly behind us, the high-fiving lady emerged with the puck. She tapped Ben on the shoulder and handed it to him. A real game puck. Unbelievable.
Now, if we could only find it ;-\