Penguins/Habs Bound, the Last 48 Hours

So, before Christmas Gertie, and I decided to take Jake to his First NHL hockey game..  and it had to be Penguins vs Montreal…

Jake being a Goalie, it was important for him to See both Marc-Andre Fluery, and Carey Price.

Also, and more importantly, it was a Great Way to connect with friends that we made during the Brick tournament in Edmonton.  

So, let’s start their….

So, I decided to check-in early in Halifax on the 21st.  We knew the Canadians were playing the Penguins at home in Pittsburgh on the 22nd, and we had arranged a visit with our friends in Pittsburgh, a tour of the Consol Energy Centre, and of course the opportunity to see the Game Day Skates, and the Game itself of course.

So, off I go, and check-in on the web on the 21st..  Well, not a great start, as it suggested that I need to speak to someone immediately.  Because of the Storms hitting the Newark area, our flight was changed from the 21st, to the 23rd.  Great, a Day after the Game, and unfortunately landing after we were supposed to leave to fly home..  That just doesn’t work..

I start calling, pleading, trying to make alternative arrangements, but unfortunately, Expedia.ca were not having anthing todo with that.  They did put us on the 5:30am heading to Toronto, and then to Pittsburgh, but knowing the snow was going to hit Halifax, I was starting to worry.  But we accepted the change, with the thought that the gods maybe on our side..   Gertie, came downstairs then to say, why didn’t you book through montreal with Expedia..   I said, “GOODPOINT”..  and back on the phone I go trying to re-arrange my accepted flight, to the Montreal/Toronto/Pittsburgh flight.  Well, let’s just say Expedia were not the friendliest to deal at this point.    I did try my best, and it was at this time, Jake leaned on me, and gave me a Big Hug.  He said, “Daddy, don’t worry, I know you’re trying your best, and I Love You!”  I had no words…  We shared a tear, and said, well, at least we tried.

Off we go to the Airport at 3:30am, knowing the SNOW was falling, but the good thing was, the Plane landed in Halifax the Night before.  Soooo, ALLL GOOD…

 

Excited to be on the Plane..    Flight took off, and away we go..  A quick email to Ryan Schade, David, and Amber, and we are a GO…
We Land in Toronto, and get through what I think is probably the BEST custom’s experience we have ever had.  Love the Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3 adjustments.  
We get to our Gate!! Yahoo.   
  
And on the Plane!!  Pittsburgh he we come!!  
We get a note from our welcoming Party and off the Cambridge Suites, and Consol Energy Center we go..  
BTW: If you get a chance, the Cambridge Suites is a GREAT Hotel in Pittsburgh for attending games, and having an incredible Hockey Experience before each game.
So, we land, and now we are on the Tram between the Runways, and the Airport..  Excitement is building, and hoping we have enough time to see the Arena, and Players Skate…   Hoping for a quick turnaround to the 4 wheeled Vehicle to get downtown.
So, let’s Get ready.   Knowing we were going to the Pre-game skates, jake wanted to get ready.
We arrive, and check-in to the Cambria Suites, and then head to the Consol, which is 2 minutes away..
Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to See the Penguins skate, but as we arrive Ice-level Carey Price skates by Jake..   Jake is now wearing his Team Canada Jersey, and hat, with his Price Colored Reebok 18K Glove…   Price does a quick turn, and skates up to Jake..   Gertie, and I start to Smile, and Jake now is staring at Carey..
This is a Moment that Gertie, and I will never forget.  Carey gives Jake a Wink, and a Nod, and Jake gives him a Nod back, and with true Goalie Respect, Carey goes back to a very focused practice, and Jake acknowledged that he will not bother him.. 
Of Course, gertie and I didn’t catch anything of this on film, but to be honest, it wasn’t the time or place to take a picture.  We just watched two goalies communicating, and respecting each other.
Now, after this, Jake gets a tour and a visit in the Pens dressing room, hoping of course to see a goalie or two, or three with Volkun now skating during practice.
With Glove in hand, he heads into the dressing room, with David..  Gertie, and I, Not allowed..  Players only!!
But we get these photo’s emailed to us after from David.. ☺
  
We find out after, Jake got into a Battle with Brooks Orpik because he was wearing the Team Canada Jersey..    Sid, defending him, and asking him about his Broken Collar Bone..  
Jake get’s to chat with Volkun, and Zattkoff, but Marc-Andre was in the Shower, so, he didn’t get a chance to chat with him.
Jake is returned back to us at Ice level, and we watch the Canadians Skate..  

Probably what I was most impressed with was the Work Ethic of George Parros, and the defensive Core.   Wow..
Also, watching them execute their drills, was interesting, as their was three full ice drills working at the same time..  I said to Jake, “That’s how the professionals do it”..  
Another interesting piece of the warm-up is that one goalie get’s attention at the beginning of the practice, and the other, at the End..  Really interesting way to approach the development of Goaltending.. Very cool one on one time. 
Jake waited patiently as they came off the ice, and had the opportunity to get some autographs, but he had a nice chat with Peter Budai, which is cool, as we know what happened towards the end of the game with Fluery.  Jake said, “Budai was cool to chat with.”
So much for selling the Blocker/Glove combination, as with three goalies having signed the Glove, good luck getting it out of his bedroom.
  
After an early morning start, we head back to the hotel for a quick swim, and to relax a little before the game starts.  AKA: Gertie, and I need a nap!!!!  #Goob31 is TOO Excited!!
Jake, Gertie, and I head to the Consol Energy Center for a tour before the game, and to meet Dave..   We see everything, including what it takes to light-up and control this thing..
It’s a ROOM, and it’s BIG!!  There’s a lot to running a facility like the Consol, and I’m happy to say, their’s a lot of Cisco.
The Logistics around delivering a Packaged product like a NHL game is incredible, and after spending a day meeting a lot of the people that make that happen, I have a new respect for the Penguins organization.  Especially delivering a product that is delivered for the Fans of the Pittsburgh focusing on Technology, and the People.
I really liked seeing the sweaters representing Youth hockey, and it was sure nice to see the Pennsylvania 2003 Brick team Jersey..
Another neat thing we saw, and only because of the world of Mini-sticks is a Full Mini-stick RINK for the Kids!! yep…  It was awesome..

Now, how about some Hockey!!  We caught the skate in the morning, but it’s truly impressive to see both teams warming up before the game..

Now of course, jake was really interested in Mr Price, and Mr. Fluery

Sooo, we all remember what happened in the game, Gertie, the Crack Photographer caught this little conversation before the game Starts..

I wonder what was being said here?  My Reebok’s are better than your Bauer’s?

Oh ya, well, I’m a Ninja…  What did you call me?

Friends

Just after the first period started, the boys show… The Pens 2003 Elite team had a practice before the game, so we knew they were going to be a little late, but when they showed, It was Magic!
Voit, Walker, Browney, Schade, Morehouse, and Hursty..  They were able to make what was an already incredible day, more special.
It was like we were back in Edmonton again.

Goalie LOVE, Goalie RESPECT

As the game came to an end, and we realized the night was about to be over, off Jake goes again to the dressing room..  for a moment with Mr. Fleury.  Jake and Marc-Andre talked after the Media scrum around the almost Fight, and he got his final signature on his Glove that we brought to Pittsburgh.
While Gertie, and I were waiting in Mr. Lemieux’s area for Jake to come back from the dressing room, we had a quick look at his awards..
     

    
And then of course, the opportunity to meet, and chat with Mario.  He’s that nice, and that Tall!!

We are very blessed to have a good friend…  to which all this would not be possible..

We are Home, I won’t mention the Air challenge we had on the way home, as at the end of the day, the past 48 hours was just to good to finish this off with negative comment.
So, I ask, “Jake, what was the best part of the last 48 hours”, and he says, “Dad, it was meeting all my friends again from Team Pennsylvania”.
So their you go, you have your moments in time, having a Nod, with your hero, Getting your Glove signed by your Idols, and seeing your first NHL hockey game.   But Hockey, is Hockey, and one of the GREAT elements that this sport provides is the ability to create friendships that will never be forgotten.  Both Kids, and Families..
Special thanks to the Voits, Hursts, Walkers, Browns, Schades, and especially the Morehouses.
Pictures from the last 48 hours are found here: The Last 48 Hours

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