Well, I was disappointed right away when we went to enter, and the security guards wouldn't let me bring in my camera. I have a digital Canon EOS Rebel XT, and I had my 50/150mm lens in the bag, as well as the regular lens. I was told, "We actually have a no cameras policy," (supposedly on the back of the ticket, but we didn't see said "policy," so it must have been on the part of the ticket stub that the gatekeeper takes), "but we bend it and do allow cameras with lenses no bigger than a credit card." Say what? I have no idea what "no bigger than a credit card" is supposed to mean. Annoyed, and getting moreso by the minute by the older guard who kept at the "sorry, we're just enforcing the rules" spiel even though I hadn't said anything besides "okay" and was taking the damned camera back to the car, I stalked off before I said something that got us tossed.
So, ten minutes later, we finally get through the gates and the warmups are going, so we scope out the seats in 123, row H. Very nice view of the goal, where the Bears will be shooting twice. Makes me all the more irritated for not having the camera, but oh well. We grab some food and drink, get back to our seats for the anthem (Pat was happy there was no "O" cheer), and watch the farm team do their best Capitals imitation.
And a great imitation it was, from the flurry of shots that wouldn't go past Pens netminder John Curry, to the lopsided officiating that gave the NE Pennsylvania team multiple 5-3 chances, it was very much like being at the Verizon Center. Though, with only an estimated 7000 in attendance, I now understand Karl Alzner's comments about how loud VC is.
Some impressions on the game :
- I forgot how fight-prone minor league hockey is. Before the first period was done, there were already two fights, one with coincidental roughing majors, and one with coincidental cross-checking minors.
- Karl Alzner is just as steady of a defenseman with the Bears as he is with the Capitals, despite not having as skilled of teammates.
- I don't think I've seen so many different jerseys in one arena before, even at VC with nearly three times as many people. From memory, I saw jerseys of : Capitals, Bears, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pittsburgh (Steelers and Pens), Flyers, New Jersey, Phoenix, Montreal, Carolina, Minnesota NorthStars, Eastern AllStars, and even a Chiefs jersey with Hanson on the back.
- I've never seen a major penalty for interference called, and I can't believe it was called when it was clear that none of the officials saw what happened. No one in the stands saw what happened either, only that one of the Pens laid on the ice long enough to draw a whistle, but the trainer never came out and only the Pens goaltender talked to the referee before Chris Bourque was penalized. Bogus.
- A mascot deathmatch between the Bears mascot CoCo and the Capitals mascot Slapshot would be cool. In lieu of dragging the eagle up to Hershey, the organizers could just bring in the Red Robin mascot that was already there.
- I've forgotten how annoying it is to park at the actual arena. It was like being at the Capital Centre again, especially on the way out. You'd think that our experience leaving the Wachovia Center last month would have prepared me, but we've been spoiled with the Metro stop right there at Verizon.
- A majority of the Bears playing have suited up for the Capitals at least once so far this season : Alzner, Collins, Helmer, Sloan, Andrew Gordon, Osala, Aucoin, Giroux, Machesny, Bourque, Lepisto and Mink. Varlamov's obviously played with the Caps too, but he was scratched for an injury. And I know Quintin Laing's played with the Caps before, but I don't think he's done so this year.
So, in the end, the Bears squandered a two goal lead with a bad penalty by Sean Collins, and the questionable major on Bourque. The Pens scored seconds after Collins came out of the box to make it 3-2 with about 30 seconds left in the second period, then scored again with :25 left in the Bourque penalty. It was impressive that the Bears were able to hold off the Pens for nearly four minutes of penalty killing to start the third, but it really put a hold on the offense. Curry stoned the Bears for the rest of the period, and despite some incredible chances -- including a one minute power play for a slashing call against Curry -- the Bears couldn't end it in overtime. The shootout ended with the Pens getting 2 past Neuvirth and the Bears only 1.
Next time, I bring the point and shoot camera, and I put it in my coat pocket.