Friday’s NCAA Tournament games were as exciting and entertaining and Thursday’s were bad and boring. But by now you’ve read everything you could have possibly read on the games so I’m going in a different direction. No more college basketball talk with the exception of confessing my love for Dell’s amazing son Stephen Curry.
Saturday night I didn’t even watch basketball. What could possibly pull me away from watching the greatest tournament of all-time, you ask yourself. Let’s just say the night involved a long car ride, a free T-shirt, one crazy man, one annoy girl and a stolen hockey helmet.
I know the athletic trainer for the Youngstown Steelhounds, a minor league hockey team of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He got me a couple passes to go to their game Saturday night, the season finale. I gathered up the Girlfriend, Girlfriend’s Brother and Girlfriend’s Brother’s Wife No. 1 (no real reason for the No. 1 but just in case there ever is a No. 2, we’ll know the difference) and we headed for Y’town.
First, Youngstown may be the crappiest town of all time. There was no traffic, no one walking the streets and no building looking like it was built after 1888. It felt like we were in a atomic blast and they only ones alive in the city as we drove around. The only two places where there was any activity was the restaurant we went to and the hockey arena. (The restaurant, despite the name, MVR, was fantastic and one of the top three of Italian restaurants I have ate at recently.)
I’ll skip all the formalities and get to the good stuff. The game was great because there were so many fights. The game itself was boring with Youngstown trailing 2-0 going into the third period, but the fights made it worth it. (Stephen Curry is amazing.) There was at least a small scuffle every stoppage of play. As the game was winding down with Youngstown trailing 2-1, I wanted to make my way over to where the players exit the ice so I could grab the trainer I know and thank him for the passes. Then with 40 seconds left, the Steelhounds tied it up. Now the game was heading to overtime. After a short debate of leaving or not (GFBW-1, wanted to leave because they have a one-and-half year old she wanted to get home to). Since the OT was just five minutes we stuck around. Overtime was uneventful but it was followed by a shootout. Youngstown won the shootout 2-1. This is when the real fun began.
This was the third game in four days between Youngstown and Colorado. Doing a series like that may work in non-contact sports like baseball, but in hockey, emotions carry over and players don’t forget who checked them in the last shift or the last game. I think this is why there were so many fights. Anyway, as Youngstown was celebrating their win on the ice, Colorado was making their way off. I had made it to the ground level and was standing right by the door and hallway where the players would leave the ice. (Stephen Curry is great.) Then, a fight broke out on the ice. I feared for the life of the trainer I know. He stands all of about 5’2” maybe 5’3” and was trying to break up a fight of hockey players a good foot and more taller than him. Before he was damaged, he slithered out of the melee.
A few Colorado players had already left the ice and were standing right next to me. They tried to get back on the ice but the two security guards (if you can call them that, one was a skinny, short 19-year old and the other a 50-year old fat man) wouldn’t let them. In retrospect, they probably should have. A few players from Youngstown who were not on the roster, made there way down to this area and stood on the other side of me. They instantly started jawing and yelling at the Colorado guys and of course Colorado joined right back in. It wasn’t long before punches began flying.
Now here’s the dilemma I was in. All around me there were bigger guys throwing punches. Some were just large men, others were large men in hockey gear. I debated with myself, “Should I throw a punch or push someone? I bet I could get a good sucker punch or push in and knock this guy off his skates. Or since they are so much bigger than me and if the punch doesn’t land solid, they could kill me, do I walk away and hide under the stands?” I picked the middle ground and just stood there. (I hope when I’m 20, I’m like Stephen Curry) The Girlfriend was trying to pull me back but I wasn’t paying attention to anything but the fights going on around me. It escalate to some of the guys getting their suits ripped and one player even swung his hockey stick at a guy (I found out later it was Youngstown’s general manager). More “sercurity guards” showed up and finally got the Colorado guys back to the locker room area. Order was semi restored until the rest of the team walked off the ice and more punches and shoves were exchanged. This lasted for a good 15 minutes.
But I haven’t even got to the best part yet. Sometime during the Rocky V like street brawl, one of the Colorado player’s helmet came flying off. It went past me and hit the Girlfriend in the head. I had no idea this happened until things settled down because I was so into the fight. When I finally remember the Girlfriend was standing behind me she told me about the helmet. She said she thought Girlfriend’s Brother picked it up but wasn’t sure when he went. I looked up in the stands and there was GFB smiling like a school girl who’s crush just gave her her first kiss, sitting hunched over with GFBW-1’s jacket rolled up in a ball. He was sitting and smiling like a little boy who just took his first dump and was so proud of himself. I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Then mouthed, “I got the helmet.” Nice work GFB.
I waited until I could finally thank the trainer for the passes and then we got out of there. GFB got away with a real hockey helmet. I’m so jealous. It was one of the coolest swipes of all time. My greats swipe at a sporting event was my freshman year of college, OU beat Miami in basketball, we stormed the floor and someone had thrown the ball up in the air as time expired. I saw it and raced right for it. I caught it and hurried out of the gym with the ball under my coat. I think this hockey helmet tops that.
Not everyone was impressed with GFB newest possession. GFBW-1 was not pleased that her coat was wrapped around a sweaty, smelly hockey helmet. The threatened and threatened and said it was not coming him with them. But I’m pretty sure GFB never heard those words. He was on cloud nine. It was his crowning moment of his life. Well done GFB. I am forever jealous.
(If I had to start a basketball team, Stephen Curry would be my first pick and Billy Thomas would be my second. I won’t need any other players because no one else would shoot)
Other highlights from the Steelhounds game…
… GFB graciously pointing out to the Girlfriend that she just got passed by the Geek Squad paddy wagon.
… the man who sat at the corner of the rink on the glass and banged the glass and yelled like a caveman anytime a player came near him. He reminded me of Puddy from Sienfeld without the facepoint but same expressions. The best part was his section and ours (one away) won free T-shirts in the TV race car game. He was so worried about getting his shirt he had his back to the ice. When a player was checked into the glass right in front of him, turned and yelled without even looking and then banged the glass three times, still yelling, before finally turning around and refocused on his T-shirt.
… We find nice seats three rows up from the glass. For the first period no one sat behind us. Then in the second period a dad, two daughters and a son were there. One of the daughters saw one of her friends there, so she yelled to try and get her attention. The problem was, this friend was on the other side of the rink. But that didn’t stop this little girl from trying to get her attention. “MacKenzieeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!” she yelled repeatedly sounding like a tornado serien. I swear I haven’t heard anything that loud since an ear horn was blown in my ear. She was louder than the horn at the end of the periods, easily.
… watching GFB show off his media pass. I love being with people who have never had a pass before. He was showing it off to anyone like he was Wayne and Garth backstage at the Alice Cooper concert. When an usher asked us for the tickets to the seats we were in, he froze, didn’t say anything and just held up the pass. The lady even less idea what was going on than GFB himself. Luckily, I explained the situation before GFB started showing the pass to everyone around him.
… if you had to bet $100, without knowing anything, on whether or not a minor league hockey team in Youngstown, Ohio had cheerleaders/dance team, you’d take the, no they don’t right? Of coure you would. It’s minor league hockey in a rundown town. Who has cheerleaders in hockey? Well, the Steelhounds too. I’ve seen better looking cheerleaders at all boy schools then these girls. They were all flubby and jiggily. You remember that Simpsons when Homer is undergoing test and they flick his fat to see how long it takes to stop and he yells “Look at that blubber fly!” That’s what I thought of everytime I looked at those girls.
Bottom line, Youngstown Steelhounds hockey is great. Wish I would have went before the last game of the year. But the playoffs start this week and they play the same Colorado team in a best-of-seven series. You know that will be entertaining. The next games are in Y’town on April 1, 3 and 4. They are worth checking out and if you want to go with me, I’ll get you media passes as long as you promise to act like you deserve them unlike GFB. (Rosie, I’m looking at you, want to go up there next week)