First off, HP Pavilion is an amazing arena. It’s big, it’s bright and it looks expensive. The amount of space to move around in the hallways between periods is incredible. It definitely puts the cramped hallways of GM Place to shame.
The game and the atmosphere in the arena were electric. The fans were really into it and the Sharks recorded their 19th sellout in a row. Despite a low shooting first period the Canucks managed some nice moments including dominance on the 5 on 3. Bobby Lou was on form and the boys were banging away - something that is missing on some nights. One player who really stood out was Ohlund. Sometimes I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does. He did an incredible job of tailing Thornton all night. Thanks to Pyatt’s early goal in the third Vancouver was on top until Marleau scored. It was kind of jaw dropping to watch Hank Sedin break down the ice all alone in overtime and actually score with a minute and a half left. I’m not knocking Hank but given his record on the shootout this year I honestly didn’t think he had it in him. Boy was I wrong. It was a truly amazing goal to end what was probably one of the best games of the season. It was well worth the trip - and it was well worth it to stand up and watch that goal go in on foreign turf. There’s no better feeling than watching 17,000 fans look at you with hate in their eyes. Bring it on!!!
We congregated after the game near the player exits and saw several of the Sharks leaving in their cars. I’m not sure how many Canucks fans do this after the games at GM Place but there were about 20 sharks fans who all got autographs. I thought about stripping off my jersey and getting a few signatures but I just couldn’t betray my boys!
I’d highly recommend traveling to an opposing city to watch your favourite team play. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. Just for fun, here are some rules for visiting an opposing rink - especially in the US:
(1) Always try the arena food. You never know what tasty delights a foreign arena might be serving. I highly recommend the garlic fries at the Shark Tank. Don’t forget your gum. You’re gonna need it.
(2) Always be nice the fans even if they heckle you. The best defense is to smile and nod. The guy behind us actually said he wouldn’t mess with us because we were Canadian and our knowledge of the game would put most people in the arena to shame. Darn right!
(3) Ask the alcohol content of your beverage. A very nice beer tub guy was very helpful in telling us that the alcohol content of our beer was only 3.2%. Yeah, you read that right - and it cost $7USD. Thankfully the Shark Tank offers high balls for the same price. We ordered rye and coke. Apparently “rye” does not exist in the American vocabulary. After ordering “Jack and Coke” he kindly poured us each a hefty 2 oz shot at no extra charge (yippy).
(4) Always find your fellow fans. We met up with 6 crazy Canucks fans that also traveled down from Vancouver. They were in Phoenix the night before and were planning on heading to Anaheim the next day. They were a lot of fun to hang out with in between periods.
(5) Always go with superstition. My buddy and I have Canucks seasons tickets and we sit in the same seats each game. I’m on the left and he’s on the right. During the Sharks game he was on the left and I was on the right. When Marleau tied the equalizer we promptly switched. We all know how overtime went. Sometimes superstitions can pay off.
(6) This one has nothing to do with hockey. If you’re traveling down the Oregon/California coast, do yourself a favour and visit a Dutch Bros. Coffee. This little gem puts - dare I say it - Tim Horton’s to shame in the addiction category. I highly recommend the Annihilator. 4 shots plus a sugary vanilla flavour that I could not resist. My travel companion became quite addicted to the 6 shot ER 911. Needless to say, after 4 days of being back in Canada, we’re both experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Note from Alanah: I can vouch for Trini’s opinion of Dutch Bros. During my vacation to California last year, I went through a lot of that stuff, though I never tried the “Annihilator”. I guess I’ll need another road trip…