Observations from last night’s game as the Niagara IceDogs took on the Ottawa 67’s:
1. On the way in, I noticed the contents of a woman’s purse scattered across the table as the rent-a-cops stationed at the Rankin Gateway were ravenously searching it for contraband material. For the love of Pete(tm), how much longer do they think people are going to put up with these shakedowns for the privilege of attending a junior hockey game? Enough already.
2. Outrageously priced souvenirs of the night: A fleece jacket for $67.95, a flimsy men’s hoodie for $59.95 and this knit cap for $24:
3. I can’t decide. Should I open MediaShare or not?
4. As the title suggested, this was Autism Awareness Night. For those who are not aware, there is a strong personal connection as my friend and subject of my second book, the late Carli Ward, had a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. Hence the reason for my attendance. In addition to the autism-themed jerseys the team was wearing, there was a display in concourse from Autism Ontario selling jars of “Hugga Honey” for $15 with the proceeds going toward a camp of some sort. There were also shirts on sale with “I (heart) someone with autism” on it. Though it was tempting, I have more than enough articles of clothing.
5. Instead of my usual perch high up in the corner in the retractables, I opted for a different vantage point:
6. I was actually able to walk down to my seat without being harangued by an usher. Will wonders never cease?
7. Scenes from the warmup showing the autism-themed jerseys:
8. Miraculously, the P.A. announcer did not introduce himself before the game. Once again, will wonders never cease?
9. The pregame ceremony featuring an autistic child:
10. A choir from Dalewood Public School sang the anthem partially in Quebecese, giving the middle finger to their mostly Canadian audience in so doing.
11. In a common theme I’ve been noticing over the last couple of years, aside from the seat to my immediate right, this entire row was marked as “sold”:
12. Yours truly along with 5,000 others were alleged to have been in attendance. Something about that figure doesn’t quite ring true:
13. Make Hair Great Again:
14. Seated behind me were a group of chatty guys in their late 50s whom a long-lost friend would describe as “good ol’ boys.” As they entertained me with their in-game commentary, it was obvious they had long since graduated from being Howie Meeker-wannabees and were gunning for head coach Billy Burke’s job.
14a. As they added an “eh” at the end of every sentence, I didn’t need to check their passports to verify their Canadian citizenship.
15. During the game, they read an ad for Enviro-Niagara, which is apparently located on Highway 20 in Welland. Except that Highway 20 doesn’t go through Welland. Details, details.
16. Bones in the crowd:
17. Bones delivering birthday greetings, including a card signed by the team, to a child seated nearby:
18. Many of the people seated around me seemingly had ants in their pants and had to keep getting up during the play to head to the concourse. On one such occasion, someone came back with a beer, two rat dogs and an order of nachos, spending more in the process than I did on my ticket.
19. During both intermissions, I couldn’t help but notice the long lines at the concessions, proof that people will eat anything and pay any ridiculous price for the privilege.
20. For those so inclined, prices and offerings at “The 406 Bar”:
21. During the second period, Ottawa goaltender Olivier Tremblay acted like he had been shot in order to try and draw a penalty call. He stayed down for several seconds trying to milk his “injury” for all it was worth, but he was miraculously cured when an IceDogs player was winding up for a shot from the point. How very convenient.
22. Also in the second period, chants of “fight, fight, fight” began breaking out during an altercation. For a moment there, I thought I was at a Fighting Moose game.
23. During the third period, they had a friendly competition between the guys and girls to see which one could make more noise, completely excluding the transgenders, gender-neutrals and all the other made-up genders liberals are so fond of. I smell a human rights complaint coming.
24. I didn’t think it was physically possible, but regulation time expired without a single goal being scored. OHL history surely must have been made.
25. The lack of goals was not due to lack of effort on either side, but rather due to a comedy of errors. Missed chances, bad passes and pucks dribbling off the end of sticks along with some goal posts and crossbars defined this game.
26. It was more of the same in overtime, but just when it appeared the game was headed for a shootout, Ottawa scored with 4.3 seconds left.
27. Though I didn’t stay for it, the IceDogs auctioned off the players’ jerseys after the game in support of Autism Ontario, raising a surprising total $10,050. One player’s jersey fetched $1,200.
28. Waiting for the bus after the game, one guy dropped the F-bomb, then immediately apologized. This is not the Old Country, where such salty language is par for the course.