A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate to indulge in one of my passions: hockey. My son texted me and asked if I wanted to go along with him and a bunch of fans to Ottawa to watch Team Canada in a closed practice for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. He had won the experience because he was a subscriber to a sports internet service. Of course, I jumped at the chance.
We met up at the Air Canada Centre. A big white bus with a flashy World Cup of Hockey logo waited for us. As we settled in with about 20 other fans and media people, I looked at the front of the bus and noticed a familiar face.
I turned to my son and whispered, "Steve Dangle is on the bus." Steve "Dangle" Glynn is a popular hockey blogger and Youtube contributor, who gives hilarious and impassioned commentaries after Toronto Maple Leaf games. My son had alerted me to these great posts a year ago, and I've always enjoyed the posts and Steve's Twitter feed.
I whispered, "I'm going up to say Hi." I moved to the front of the bus, and casually said, "Fancy meeting you here."
Steve did a double take. "I know you. I recognize you from your profile picture."
I smiled and grabbed a cereal bar from the front seat. "Great to meet you. Just grabbing a cereal bar." I then darted back to my seat like I'd just robbed someone.
During the five-hour trip, the organizers made speeches and we played trivia games. When my name was called out, Steve mentioned IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, "Sandra's cool. She follows me on Twitter."
My son also follows him, but to be fair, his profile picture isn't immediately recognizable. Doesn't matter, because we both got to spend time with Steve later.
After getting settled at our hotel we met at the hotel bar for cocktail hour. We had all received swag bags containing a World Cup of Hockey Canada baseball cap, and a great fleece hoodie. Most of us wore our hats down to the bar but I forgot mine.
A surprise guest showed up in the bar.... Drew Doughty. He plays for the LA Kings, and was very sweet, letting everyone pose for pictures. I begged for an extra hat so I could get it signed, promising to bring mine back from the hotel room, 'cause I'm nice that way. :)
We posed outside as a group in front of the bus. I offered to hunker down (I'm 5'2") in front of Drew (6'100"). He muttered from behind me, "You don't have to hunker down."
After Drew was swept away in his fancy vehicle, we all walked to the RS Bar & Grill a few blocks away, and stopped to admire the canal in the sunset. Dinner was great, and we all traded hockey stories. A few of Steve's fans dropped in after dinner and we all talked for a while longer.
Most of the others had left by then, so it was up to me to remember how to get back to the hotel. They let me shepherd them back, because I'm a Mom. We talked about video games and animated TV shows.
The next morning, we checked out and boarded the bus for the short trip to Canadian Tire Centre, just outside of Ottawa. We had a special spot taped out for us, along with a few other local contest winners. On the other side of the eerily empty arena sat some media members, and probably some scouts and NHL brass.
I crept down to the glass, and got lots of great shots of Team Canada running through drills -- Corey Crawford, Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby, Getzlaf, Couture, etc. I should've worn my free hoodie because despite the hot, humid day, I was FREEZING in that arena! It's cold when there aren't 20,000 people warming it up with their bodies.
Speaking of empty arenas, I heard every creak of the goalies' pads, and the echo of the pucks slamming on the boards. I heard most of Coach Babcock's lectures, too. I have many more pictures, you might want to check out my Facebook author page if you like hockey.
Too soon, we had to get back on the bus for the ride home. I will remember this trip forever. Thanks, Son, for including me.
p.s. They let me keep the extra hat so I gave it to my hubby (we'll share, and put the signed one in our Hockey Shrine).