11/29 sharks 2, MINNESOTA 1
Let me first preface this post by saying this: Holy cow. It is really cold here in Minnesota, where, today, with nothing but sunshine, it was 15 F degrees. Ok, my quick California-boy rant is over. To the game...
As was mentioned above, it's cold here in Minnesota, and, in wintertime, it snows here. Which is why the arena in the Twin Cities (there are two: the Target Center in Minneapolis, where the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves play, and, for our purposes here today, the only arena in the Twin Cities, the Xcel Energy Center), located in the smaller of the two, St. Paul, is themed with pictures and things belonging to the Great North.
Upon entering, one can see the spirit of the North in the facade of the interior. Each of the concessions are named appropriately, with titles hanging from wood lodge-like things above the built-in stands. The store itself is "The Hockey Lodge". The Kellogg St. entrance has a giant lighthouse, and the concourses are lined with pictures and history of the state of Minnesota, and its hockey (Minnesota is "The State of Hockey").
Upon entering, the concourses and seating have a vague similarity to the building in Phoenix (Glendale). The concourses are sorta wide, but have a lot of stuff, cramping the walking space greatly. The majority of the seats are accessible straight from the concourse, with no entrance ways present anywhere. There is only one escalator in the whole building, very helpful for the 8,000 people who sit up high enough to see the moose heads hanging from the rafters (no actual moose heads, but to keep with the theme, they should be there. It's not like they have any championship banners to hang up there :D ).
The upper level is almost exactly identical to the Glendale Arena. The concourse is above the upper level seats, making for a steep walk down to your seats (those with vertigo should buy a seat in the 100's). The walkway up here, unlike the Glendale building, is much smaller, sometimes creating standstills during intermissions and post-game concourse commutes.
The seating area is pretty normal, technically speaking. The seating area is symmetrical, however, it is not just one complete bowl stacked on top of the other. The lower bowl is complete all the way around. However, in the upper level, there is a circular platform raised into the rafters, with a large brick wedge about a section wide used to support it. I had the unique pleasure of sitting on an aisle, across from one of these wedge things, and, probably more so than if I was further from one of these things, really didn't enjoy it. It cut off my view of the rest of the arena, the lighting was poor, and there was a ceiling much lower over the end zones than the rest of the building.
The positives that these platforms do bring, however, is in the facilities they house. On one of the platforms is where the traditional "Let's Play Hockey" honoree stands when uttering those words. On another is where the organist sits, behind a keyboard attached to a fake Minnesota Wild zamboni. Another houses a smaller lighthouse that goes off when the Wild score, complete with smoke, and the horn that sounds when they score. The fourth one, to the best of my knowledge, does nothing. It sucks, but it has to be there 'cause three wedges in four corners would just look silly.
The game itself was a good one for fans of the Teal everywhere. Another defensive battle, the Sharks, despite giving up the first goal on the first Wild shot of the game, clamped down and took a bite out of the North. Kinda local boy (from nearby Wisconsin) Joe Pavelski scored his third goal in just his fourth NHL game, and Steve Bernier's leg scored what was Bernier's eighth goal of the season, and Evgeni Nabokov, despite a shaky start, made 15 saves for his 7th win of the year.
I now go from the cold of St. Paul to the prospect of not-as-cold, but snowy winter of Detroit for a Saturday night affair with the Red Wings at 4:00 PST. The Sharks come in with a regular season record of 2-25-1 at the Joe, having already lost the first meeting here 2-1 at the end of October. This is a Sharks team that has won 5 of its last six, allowing only 8 goals in that span. Jonathan Cheechoo should be back from the IR, with a roster move yet to be made to make room for the 2005-2006 Richard Trophy winner.
Go Sharks (go 35 degrees and snow being A LOT better than 8 degrees and all the clear sky in the world)
Outside, taken quickly before I froze.
Look at that logo, ain't it wild?