If you have been following along in my blog this long, then you know that I am a huge hockey fan. (Let’s go Rangers.) Thank the Mighty Ducks for that. My friend (I shall call her Leah from now on.) messaged me and asked me if I wanted to take a trip with the Black Girl Hockey Club. I was so intrigued by this club… so I did what most people do… I googled them. The mission statement spoke to me.
The mission of the Black Girl Hockey Club is to inspire and sustain a passion for the game of hockey within the Black community, specifically with our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. To prevent exclusion in hockey based on race, gender, sexuality, or ability in the face of institutional racism, financial gatekeeping, and program access, the Black Girl Hockey Club provides education, scholarship opportunities, and community spaces that will give Black women access to hockey.
There is nothing better than finding your people. Over the years, I kept my love of hockey to myself because it wasn’t viewed as the Black thing to do. One example that comes to mind is when my uncle asked me what I wanted for my birthday (I think I was about 10.) When I responded that I wanted a hockey jersey, he told me there were no black hockey players and that I need to pick something else. I had several friends in school that pointed out that black people like basketball and football. So it was a surprising conversation back in 2016. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, and Leah was raving about it. When I mentioned that I was disappointed with the way things had turned out for the Rangers, Leah turned to me and asked, “Do you like hockey?” She and I had been friends for about 10 years before we discovered our mutual like for hockey.
Leah excitedly asked me if I had ever been to a hockey game. I had not for a combination of reasons. I had always wanted to go to a game, but I could not find a person to go with me; my friends were not even remotely interested. Not to mention, the team where I live was sold and moved to Canada. In 2017, I had decided I was going to try more new things, whether or not I could get people to join me. Whether it be crossing things off my bucket list or taking in new things to see if they were going to be added to my list of hobbies, I was going to give everything a try at least once.
I was totally down for anything this club had planned. (I promised that I was going to be more open-minded.) Leah was excited about it, and she usually has excellent judgment. So when she told me that she wanted to head to Nashville, TN with the Black Girl Hockey Club. They had a Black History Month event they wanted to put on. So I took time off of work, packed my things, and drove up to meet Leah in Nashville. (I will tell you guys right now that I enjoy signing up for events where there are a lot of activities that are planned out for the group. It takes the pressure off of me to find things to do.) I knew going into it that we would be watching the Predators game.
There was the Black History Month mobile bus that was sitting outside where I learned about Willie O’ree, the Jackie Robinson of Ice Hockey. It was fascinating to learn about the history of hockey and black people within that history. I think that discovering that Black hockey leagues existed before the National Hockey League, which began in November 1917, changed my outlook on the game and whether I could see myself outwardly being a hockey fan. I was fascinated to learn that The Colored Hockey League was established in Nova Scotia in 1895 and lasted until 1930. I was also fascinated by the number of people from different walks of coming together to watch a hockey game. On some level, I was annoyed that I had waited until 30 to take in my first game.
I was so impressed with the group and what I was seeing, but I thought that this was going to be it. But I was wrong. We were bought inside the arena early in the morning. The arena allowed us to skate on the ice before the game. While it wasn’t my first-time ice skating, it had been a while since I had done so. (I think I was about 9/10 at summer camp, where they took the older kids to ice skate. My dad gave me some of the best advice then. “If you feel yourself falling, just do it. If you attempt to try and stop yourself, you will hurt yourself more.) For some reason, that was on my mind when we were handed our skates. Leah, who knows how to do all things, did not have any issues with skating. She was most amused that I was holding onto the rail. But she took excellent pictures.
If you ever want to be entertained… watch me try and skate.
Don’t we look like we are having fun? It should because we totally were. I did manage to get the hang of ice skating. (Shout out the Predators organization for allowing us to do that.) We were then shown the movie… Soul on Ice. A phenomenal documentary about the Coloured Hockey League and the history of Black players in ice hockey in the United States and Canada. I was so blown away by what I did not know. If you have not had a chance to check it out, definitely do so. We also got a chance to do a panel with the filmmaker Kwame Mason.
And then onto the game. I loved every minute of it. I always enjoy going to sporting events and being with the crowd. I have very basic hobbies. I got to see and feel the rush of the crowd and eat the stadium food (which people hate, but I enjoyed it. It really doesn’t take much for me to enjoy it. It was overpriced though.) It was so surreal being in a place that you see on tv. The game was epic. The Predators were tied for a bit, and but lost in the end. No damper on the events though, because the fun didn’t stop there, though. They actually took us down to wait outside the locker rooms, where we were able to meet the players. (For a first hockey game, this takes the cake.) I got so many autographs. The peak was getting to meet P.K. Subban.
It was a great meeting like-minded people and feeling like I belonged. It was funny because I am usually anxiety-ridden with groups of people, but here everyone was so nice and easy-going. They set me at ease. But I believe my favorite part of the trip came when we got to see the WNHL ALL STAR events. How woefully ignorant I was to the fact that the Women’s league even existed. Not only did I get to see the skills competition… but I also got to watch them compete. What was great was seeing Blake Bolden. (She became the first African-American player to compete in the National Women’s Hockey League in October 2015. Not so long ago.) She stands for all of the women in the club and all of the little black girls who have more than a passing interest hockey.
It was an action-packed couple of days, and I am thrilled I went. I opened up to new experiences and had no downsides from it. Thank God for Renee and her coming up with this club. It definitely made me feel comfortable coming to a hockey game. I had a built-in entourage, and we all became friends over the weekend. It is a fond memory of mine.
Because I had so much fun on our hockey trip to Nashville… (and I had been to Nashville twice before… but this trip will stand as my fondest memory for my time in the city.) when Leah called me and told me she was thinking about taking a trip to Pittsburgh to see the Penguins play, I wasn’t surprised. She knew she was going, it was just a matter of pulling her plans together. Does she drive? Does she fly? I was kind of jealous. I remember making the comment that I want to be would want to be front and center if the club had another event with the Rangers in NYC. That was when I got a resounding ‘Hold Please.’ (Usually, you hear the click-clack of keys or the 3 dots of an incoming message.) She informed me that a few days after meeting up in Pittsburgh… they would be heading to NYC for the next event. She was willing to extend her trip to accommodate my wants… (Get you a friend like her, y’all.) So in the end, it was decided… A week trip where we would fly (Delta not Southwest as I usually do.) into Pittsburgh, do hockey things, and then head to NYC and do more hockey things before heading home. There is nothing better than having a friend in the hospitality business. We knew where we were going to stay. (Thank Goodness.) The issue is we had about two months to wait. We bought 2 plane tickets to Pittsburgh, but we had not figured out how to get from Pittsburgh to NYC. Lucky for us, the further north you go, the easier it is to catch a train that heads into NYC (from anywhere). It was easy to find when it is named, the Pennsylvanian. The added bonus was that it was super cheap. (About $60 per person.)
You’ll find that I am a sucker for the scenic approach, especially when I do not have to drive. Oddly enough, taking a long train ride was on my bucket list. Amtrak was great. They had a food car… I could stuff my face as much as I wanted, but they apparently also have plugs for all my electronic gear. (I really need to learn to travel lighter. More on that later. Just know… Poor Leah.) Also, keep in mind that Leah and I are not great at map reading. So it is always an adventure when we travel together, and her husband (the designated map reader) is not around.
So this journey starts when we arrive at Hartsfield Jackson Airport. As much as I love to travel, I have only flown a handful of times. So each time, there is always something I do wrong. (Because I have had my share of crappy jobs in the past, I am used to not looking at flights as my mode of transportation. Now that I am into my career, I intend to change that as much as possible.) Leah has this down to a science, and she had the misfortune of traveling with me. Needless to say, at security, I had to take out my computer from the bookbag, take off my jacket, slip off my shoes, and walk through the metal detector. Well, I had my I.D. and debit card in my pocket… so I had to go back through… Then they made me take off my Apple Watch… and I had to go through again. (By this time… Leah, who believes I am right behind her… I am not. And won’t be for a minute.) By the way, this is by no means a critique of the workers at the airport. They were doing their job. I am so bad at this. But Leah, like the great friend she is, retrieved what she thought was all of my things… However… I was subject to a search of my carryon bookbag… because it was flagged in the scan… So I had to stand there while the very nice security lady pulled out all of my manga and went through it page by page. In the end, I had to redress and repack my bag. (To this day, Leah has not let me live that down. I promise I have prepared better for our next trip. I got a fire tablet and everything.)
We arrive in Pittsburgh after an uneventful flight. (Uneventful is how I prefer my flights.) We were comfortable, and I even got to watch the Big Bang Theory. I made Leah watch the first episode of “YOU.” I had forgotten that she watches things with her whole being. She had the nerve to scream at the end of episode 1. (If you haven’t seen that show, watch it. Probably not on a plane though.) We clamor off the plane and head to the help desk. The gentleman there was accommodating, highlighting what bus we needed to take to head in to get to our hotel as well as things to do and places to eat. We were in Pittsburgh for two days, so we had a LOT of time on our hands. One of the things Leah and I discussed before embarking on this trip was the difference in winter between where we live in the South vs. Northern winter. Walking out to the bus stop, the Pittsburgh cold air slapped me in the face. It is the kind of cold that settles in your bones. We were able to catch a series of buses to our hotel (Hyatt House Pittsburgh). Such a cozy room with excellent service.
What is great about heading into a major city is there being sidewalks. (Trust me… they aren’t everywhere.) It makes it easier to get around without a car. We were able to walk to get food. (Some authentic Chinese food. It was fantastic.) I was enamored by Pittsburgh (The Steel City or The City of Bridges), so when we ubered to the PPG Paints Arena, I was vibrating with anticipation. It was fun to be apart of Leah’s dream. We got up pretty early because our schedules were sealed up tight. (Up early on vacation is hard work for me. Up early NOT on vacation is hard for me.)
The PPG Paints Arena wears its accomplishments for everyone to see. (The picture was early morning.) We met up with Renee and the crew inside, and we actually had a tour of the arena scheduled, but we were given breakfast first. Such great hospitality from the Penguins. Leah loved every minute of it. I was able to meet and greet with new hockey fans, who I had not seen in Nashville. People come together over food (and hockey.) There was a lot of talk about favorite teams, and the best places to visit in Pittsburgh. (We were mentally making a list.) The Penguins organization impressed me with all the work they had done/ are doing in the community. (More on that later.) What was funny was when they did a raffle, and they selected none other than Leah. How epic is that? I have never heard a person gasp so loud. Apparently, she never wins raffles. What did she win…? A ride on the Zamboni.
We left breakfast and started the tour of the arena. Beautiful place. It is set up to where you can see the game from anywhere in the arena. It was fantastic. We got to go down and look at the chambers. It was so much fun, especially when Leah almost passed out when she saw Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby. (The guy giving us a tour was talking and leave it to leave to cause a ruckus.) There was a lot of history in the rooms and I am glad that we got to experience that. It was once in a lifetime, especially for Leah.
Doesn’t Leah seem like she was right at home? I had to wonder if she was going to move/live there. But she claims it is too cold. And she wasn’t lying. The next trip up north (probably Toronto or someplace else in Canada…) I will have to buy a real coat. Anyways back to Leah… Something about those back to back championships makes her UNBEARABLE.
I was fascinated by the history and facts on the wall. They even had a breakdown of the changes to the uniforms. It was mostly a history of the years they had won the Stanley Cup. Being somewhat a new hockey fan, it wanted to soak up as much as possible. I was really more of an observer. What was great was how accommodating the whole organization was to the club.
We were then turned loose on the NHL shop there. There is nothing better than doing damage on your favorite team’s gear. Besides, she needed some fresh gear for the game that evening. Leah and I are not the best at reigning each other in. She was traipsing around and adding things to her cart. (I was basically silent because I knew in NYC it would be my turn to run rampant.) She racked up $300 in no time. I am not mad. (The funny part is that her husband called right away to see what was going on.) We were then ushered to the next event.
We would be heading to an elementary school to work with some kids. Getting them interested in hockey. So we hopped on the shuttle bus over to the elementary school. Honestly, it was like déjà vu for me. It was something about walking through a school where most of the students look like you. There was a smaller ratio of students to teachers… and there were actually black teachers… (My first black teacher being in the 7th grade. And not a black male teacher until the 10th grade, auto tech class… not again until I was into my major in college. ) It was great to watch the kids (grades K-4) filing in and learning hockey skills… passing to teammates (moving and stationary.) and breaking into teams and playing floor hockey. The kids all seemed interested in learning and entertained. Leah ended up being a helper. That was after she and I were both interviewed. We were quoted in an article which we were blown away by… (I mean, who really cares what I think about anything?) By the time the kids went back to the classroom, she was worn out. Doesn’t she look it?
We managed to head back to the hotel to change clothes. Leah had to gear up. What was great was that because we helped out at the elementary school, we got a free ticket to the game that night. (Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.) Nothing like a rivalry game to boost your spirits. I don’t think I have ever seen Leah so pumped about anything.
When we arrived, it was interesting to watch the people questioning why we were there. And wanting to know what we were getting that they weren’t. (They weren’t even hiding their curiosity/jealousy.) The PPG Paints Arena and the Penguins got the Black Girl Hockey club an excellent spread of food and a free drink voucher. There was a lot of money saved on this trip. They gave us breakfast and a bit of dinner. So we were all set for puck drop. What was not fun was the weather… (because it was bitterly cold outside… there was no relief in the arena. I mean the ice has to stay cold. )
But before puck drop, Leah had to go down to the ice for her Zamboni ride. (Luckily for me, I got to down rinkside as her plus one.) What was great (and I mean FANTASTIC) was the fact that we got to watch the warm-ups close up. You should have seen me with my face pressed up against the glass. The players, for their part, kept shooting the puck against the glass for their entertainment. Caught a lot of them laughing at our reaction. There is nothing better than seeing your favorite players up close. It was my job to take as many videos and pictures as possible. I imagine Leah loved every minute of it.
I mean, you really couldn’t get any closer. After the warm-up was over, we were taken to the Zamboni, where Leah was able to board and head on the ice… Can you say a once in a lifetime experience? Even though the Penguins aren’t my team… I understand how awesome this was. I will say I am not sure I knew how long a Zamboni ride was. Leah won the ride before the start of the game… and my goodness was she out there for what seemed like forever. Look at how happy she is.
Once the ride was over… we were ushered back to our seats… I had forgotten we had a whole game to go. There was so much excitement that happened in such a short period, I was already filled to the brim. Leah is the most interesting person to watch a game with, especially when it is her team. I don’t think I have watched one person go through so many emotions. The rivalry game was a close match, but the Penguins pulled out the win in the end. Leah and I had a spectacular time at the game and with the Black Girl Hockey Club. What sticks out in my mind is when I ran to the restroom, and I was stopped by another black woman and her friend who had not heard about the club. She wanted to know what I thought of it and where she could get more information. I, then, was able to introduce her Renee. This lady described my exact dilemma 2 years ago. Not being able to find friends to go with you as well as not feeling comfortable coming to a game by herself. She heard us cheering when Renee was interviewed. We gained new friends and members in the group.
Leah and I were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel, but the next day was a lot of site seeing in Pittsburgh. Leah and I were dead to the world in a minute. But when I was finally able to pull myself from the next day, I stated I wanted to head to the Carnegie Science Center because I am a big nerd. (They had a mummy exhibit. It was both weird and informative.) Only I would talk Leah into checking out mummies and being freaked out by it. It was cheaper than I thought… It was educational and fun. Good to be inside on a cold, rainy day. Leah was not all that impressed by the BodyWorks… mostly because it was too crowded. She mentioned a place where she lives… The U.S. National Whitewater Center. I can’t wait to visit.. if and when things get back to ‘normal.’ I may do a post in the future about that.
What was spectacular about this was the Sports Complex that was next door. That was complete with a rock-climbing wall, ropes course/ziplining, and several other activities. The sports challenges were what entertained me the most. Seeing how you stacked up against track star Lauryn Williams in Olympic Sprint, testing your reaction speed against a hockey goalie (NEWSFLASH… I AM SLOW AS MOLASSES.) and testing your center of gravity on skateboard stability.. (I rocked this… I used to skateboard for a bit.) All in all, I worked up a serious appetite.
We got many recommendations for Primanti Bros. In 2007, Primanti’s was named as one of “America’s Classic” restaurants. I needed a place to get a hot pastrami or hot corned beef sandwich. (I live for a hot sandwich.) We got listen to each story of people describing sandwiches with coleslaw and fries on them. As odd as that sounds (and I really don’t care for coleslaw.), we knew where we were headed. The place was jumping. It was definitely the place to grub in the city. If you are in town, definitely check it out. It is totally worth it. I don’t think I was hungry for the rest of the day.
So after lunch, it was Leah’s turn to pick an event… and sure enough… She wanted to walk… (WHICH I HATE.. mostly because it was BITTERLY COLD. I have not experienced that kind of cold in years.) But we were headed to the Duquesne Incline. The Duquesne Incline is a fixed guideway transit system powered by cable traction, located near Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood and scaling Mt. Washington. 800 ft long and designed to incline at a 30-degree angle. So Leah and I are hoofing it, and OF COURSE, we get lost. We are following the GPS on our phones. This is when I starting ranting about her husband (the map reader) being worried about us… Of course, we make it down to the water’s edge and where are we supposed to be? Across the bridge… on the other side of the river.
It took us 10 minutes and to ask a stranger before we figured out there was a pedestrian lane that would take us across the river. Fun walk… It didn’t take us long before we got to the incline. We shuffle in from the cold weather, and we wanted to pay to ride to the top… The crotchety old lady working the ticketing booth pointed out that they only accepted cash. (SMH… I really need to get better at carrying cash… ) They allowed us an IOU. (We could ride to the top of the incline and use the ATM.) We piled in with a loud family whose dad thought it was hilarious to make jokes about the cable snapping and plummeting to our deaths. (Leah and I already have anxiety about various things, so this got old quickly, and he was worse on the way down. But we took some dope pictures of the city though. BEHOLD!
We ended up heading back to the hotel to get ready for our train ride the next day—a whole 9.5 hours from Pittsburgh to NYC. I had to pack my overstuffed bag and get ready to go. I again grumbled at being up early in the morning… (Which is Leah’s forte.) We got the uber to Union Station… (Leah is excellent at conjuring Ubers… I don’t even have the app on my phone. We had some weird uber drivers… one guy that was mad that Leah was a Pittsburgh fan… more so that his girlfriend had a thing for Sidney Crosby. He was cool with me though… since he was from NYC and I am a Rangers fan. That guy had a lot of anger towards hockey players.) Anyway, we board the train, and there was scarcely anyone on it. We didn’t even have to sit next to each other right away. (Each set of seats had a socket, and I had was able to watch my movies in peace.)
There was something soothing in watching the snow-covered scenery go by. It was really like being on a puzzle box cover. There was either snow everywhere, or it was snowing. And I have not seen snow like that in ages. (It really doesn’t take much to please me. I had a moment of childhood nostalgia.) The issue with the Amtrak was that the ride was so long. (Nothing the company could do about. All of the people were super helpful.) But towards the last leg of the trip, more and more people were gathering on the train. A lot of people were traveling into NYC on a Sunday. (I knew this because most people work in Manhattan, even with living in other surrounding states.) I am sorry this picture is not great. (It is hard trying to capture something on a moving train.)
When the train started becoming more and more crowded, the ride because less fun… also by the 6th hour… we were over it. (This is by no means a critique of Amtrak. The train was great, clean, the people are nice and helpful, and the food was reasonably priced.) It was mostly from sitting so long and not really being about to stretch our legs. (The train did stop and let everyone off in Philadelphia. We were able to get food and walk around for a bit.) The number of people on the train from Philly on into New Jersey almost doubled. By the time we got to NYC, we were done. Nothing better than getting out at Penn Station.
Here is where we got lost. Being as though neither of us really took a subway as intricate as that in NYC… (The Amtrak doesn’t stop at Grand Central Station. If it had, then we would have had so much trouble. Our hotel was right next door to it.) But in total me fashion… I didn’t read the map correctly, and we rode the subway (luggage in all… crowded ass train…) a stop too many. When we finally got off at the correct stop, we walked in the wrong direction… because my GPS stopped working. (What kind of nonsense is that?) It was 45 minutes before I figured out that the hotel is not still 10 minutes away. My arms are about to fall off from carrying all my luggage, and I am way too sweaty because it is nowhere near as cold in NYC as it was in Pittsburgh… (It remained this way throughout our stay.) But we finally made it to the hotel room. Check out Leah airing her grievances.
It was a great place. We even got to dine in the 16th floor Regency Club. There was great food out. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and I got to watch the Chiefs win while I scarfed down great food. (Now without Leah working in the hospitality business for a great hotel like the Hyatt… I wonder if we would have even been able to take this trip… much less have a hotel in Manhattan.) Here we were in the midst of everything. We could walk to Madison Square Garden. We had a whole day before the game Monday night, so it would be fun to see what we can get into before puck drop. We had finally made it to the city that never sleeps.
First things first, in the morning, we came back to the Regency Club for breakfast. Nice light spread before heading out to move about the city. I knew I needed a new Apple Watch. (What is great is that my job gives $300 to either gym memberships or some sort of health tracker.) Nothing better than finding out there was an Apple store in the middle of Grand Central Station… (If I had a million guesses, I would not have thought there was one in the train station.) Even with all that was going on and all the people crowded around, I was able to get help and for them to pick something for me fairly quickly. The only issue being the watch wasn’t charged. But I was able to trade in my old watch and pay and be on my way.
While that was happening, though… Leah managed to take great pictures. She is taller and has longer arms than me… making her the best at taking selfies. (Poor Leah walks faster than me, so she spent the trip slowing down and waiting for me.
Anyways… I got my new watch, and we headed down 42nd St. With not really anything to do… I had shopping on my mind… and what better place to do that than in Times Square? What I have missed living in the south, it the food stand on the street. When I was living here many years ago as a kid, my mother would always buy hot dogs that we would eat on the way somewhere… And I only remember there only being hot dog stands… Now walking down the street, I saw that you would get any sort of food on the street now. (Man, do I miss NYC… Great Food… I don’t miss the 9% sales tax.) But I was impressed by the variety of foods you could get. There is nothing better than seeing a smoothie cart.
I was holding out for N.Y. style Pizza though… (Which we eventually got.) Walking down 42nd street… we eventually got to the New Public Library. This place has 92 locations and is the second-largest public library in the United States (behind the Library of Congress) and the third-largest in the world (behind the British Library). I read somewhere that they used to have a Subway Library initiative. The Subway Library gave New York City Subway riders access to e-books, excerpts, and short stories. It was cool to see it up close.
We met up with a friend of Leah’s, got coffee, and headed out to Bryant Park to sit. (It was windy but not the ice-cold that it was in Pittsburgh.) It was nice to sit in the park. They had ice skating set up, but it was nice to sit and talk. It reminded me of the places where people meet to play chess.
Once the visit was over… I had to come up with something else to do… (Remember when I mentioned liking to have events planned out for me… well winging it usually brings on anxiety.) What is funny is that before this trip, I was having a conversation with a manager at my job… (He lives in California.) He was telling me about a bookstore near him called Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore. He was telling me if I needed to order manga, he was willing to go pick it up and bring it with him when it stops by the job. Kinokuniya is the largest bookstore chain in Japan and has 80 bookstores overseas. What do I see when we are leaving Bryant Park? You guessed it.
It was so weird because when you first walk in, it is very much like a Barnes and Noble or Borders. There were cookbooks, best sellers, Shakespeare, etc… So as much as I love bookstores, I was hoping for more. That was when I noticed the second floor. I took the elevator to the second floor and was greeted by this awesome mural…(I really need to start reading Vagabond…
What is great is their manga collect is EPIC… I mean these collections were intact in their entirety. So not like Barnes and Noble in that way. (I remember looking for Noragami volumes to bring my collection up to speed. But after going to the five nearest B & N locations… they always have the same volumes on the shelf. 1,2,4, and 17. Yes, I know I can buy them online… but this was refreshing.) EVERY COLLECTION had EVERY VOLUME… I was in paradise. (Poor Leah… She let me wander about for a bit before she came to wrangle me. I couldn’t buy too many books. (remember how they did to me in the airport.) I walked away, only buying two things. But I know when I go back to NYC, that will be the first place that I stop by. The next stop was Times Square. I freaking love Times Square. (I was in search of a Modell’s… I needed a jersey to wear to the game.) Leah was looking to get souvenirs for her family.
We were able to find a place to get the wonderful I ❤ N.Y. shirts and hoodies for the family. It took us forever to find a Modell’s. My GPS is the worst. (There really is one on every corner… At least in Manhattan.) The first few we found were going out of business… so all of their merchandise was picked over. It is much easier to find sporting merchandise when you are in the same city your team plays. But of course, I was able to locate a Henrik Lundqvist jersey. (My fave goalie.) Much cheaper than I would have found at the garden… (NYC has a 9% sales tax… WTF man. LOL.) They had a sale on jerseys. I got a Yankees jersey too… (Aaron Judge). Bless the gentleman that helped Leah and me… he was so concerned about the price of the jersey. (He was way helpful.) I am sure he didn’t want to do all the work bringing it down off the wall only to have me say that it was too pricey… but I knew what I was getting into—nothing like finishing shopping with a New York slice of pizza. We bought two slices and 2 beef patties and went on our way. (The slices weren’t as big as I remember, but they were great.
So with our many shopping bags in tow.. we marched back to the hotel with about 2.5 hours to rest before meeting up at the Garden. When gave time was upon us… we walked down 42nd street towards the arena. (It’s pretty easy to figure out on a game day. Everyone is wearing team colors or jerseys. Just follow them.) I have to reiterate… It is one thing to see a place on tv or continuously read about it. (One of my favorite concerts as a kid was NSYNC live from Madison Square Garden.) But being there was on another level.
We met up with the Black Girl Hockey Club, who had a panel discussion that they were doing for Black History Month. They were talking about black people in hockey and the Rangers outreach programs and bringing hockey to the inner city, and it was rounded off by a riveting Q and A session. (I think I enjoy going to these events during February. Anson Carter was there, and I hung on his every word.
After the Q & A, Leah and I got our pictures with Mr. Carter and headed towards the ice.
Me sporting my rangers gear and Leah wearing her Dallas Star’s tee.
We headed out to our seats, and I was glad to be able to come to this game. It was on my bucket list. But I feel like it was my last opportunity to watch Lundqvist play. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of when he was drafted. He is almost 40. It seems like he would be retiring soon. So I viewed this as my last opportunity, and lucky for me, it was announced that he would be playing the game that night. We filed into our very excellent seats. Got a great view of the ice.
Let me tell you how excited I was. Not my first hockey game. (My third with the club if you have been following along.) But my first Rangers game. I was again sitting with the people from the club, and it felt like a safe space for me. Don’t I look happy?
I loved watching my team play. Even though they lost. I enjoyed myself. I got to see Lundqvist and Georgiev. I was content with the trip as a whole at that point. The only kicker was going to the shops during the hockey game, and not finding all of the player’s merchandise. I asked the guy working there if they had a Marc Staal jersey, and I received a quizzical look. “Nah, he ain’t in here.” and I am thinking… “Why? He is out on the ice.” Dude just gave me a shrug. But nonetheless… I had fun, and I left with a puck.
We left and managed to get dinner before heading back to the hotel—more pizza, more like Stromboli and meatballs.
I ended up having to go back to the hotel and pack my many bags… I was sad that the trip was over but glad that I was able to do it. We look forward to more trips in the future. I think our next hockey trip will be somewhere in Canada. (We imagine Toronto. I have never been but Leah has… So maybe we will pick something else.) It will depend on where the club goes next. But that is all I have for now. I will leave you guys with a picture of Leah and me in the LaGuardia airport on the way back home.