To demonstrate how much attention I’ve paid to the Thunderbirds since they moved their operations to Kent, I mistakenly referred to the Showare Center as Staples Center yesterday in a Twitter post. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t remember why. The last game I went to was one of the last Portland games at Key Arena, so it’s been a while since I’ve seen some live hockey.
Showare Center isn’t near as large as the Key overall, but it seats as many as the Key seated for the Thunderbirds. It was a very well-planned venue. Showare is a dedicated ice rink, which must be a nice change for both the team and it’s employees. Also, there are two zambonis, and who doesn’t love some sweet zamboni-on-zamboni action? The building layout is basically a semi-circle, with the “family” section being the end zone on either side (available seating reaches the entire circumference of the ice, unlike at the Key, where one end was blocked off). It is painted in Sounders-style gray with lime green accents marking the seating sections. There is not a bad seat in the house, either. Our seats were quite good, four rows from the ice near the net.
The T-Birds were playing the Kamloops Blazers last night. The crowd has since modified their “Portland sucks!” chant for every team that comes to play; I’m sure this is a little more difficult when the team has a one- or three-syllable city or team name, but I get the impression the fans make due. My friend Jeri and I wore our Detroit Red Wings jerseys, walking around in a sea of T-Birds blue and green, with a few other random teams thrown in.
Kamloops was by far the more aggressive team, but they were unable to make the shots required to win the game. We outshot them 34-22, and outscored them 3-1. Blazers goalie Jon Groenheyde was very good, but he was a cheater; during the third period when some particularly heavy skirmishes broke out, he kicked the goal out of the posts with his skate to cause the game to stop, a move seen by pretty much everyone on our end of the stadium…except the referees! Everyone stood up and pointed and booed, but the refs were not swayed to make a call against Kamloops.
At one point in the game, there was a 5-on-3 because two of the Blazers had been put in the box for various offenses. There were a few fights that broke out, but nothing too dramatic (halted by the refs), and just in general, it was probably the most active game I’ve seen in a while. Blazers players got box time for slashing, hooking, boarding, and one got a multiple-charge punishment that included 10-minute misconduct. I haven’t read up yet on the exact ins and outs of all of this, but I can say with confidence that last night’s game was probably the most punishment-laden hockey game I’ve ever seen, minor league or NHL. Kamloops also attempted taking their goalie out of the game for a few minutes to maximize their players during the last period, but it was a strategy that did not work for them. We didn’t score, but even with 6 skaters on the ice they were outplayed. The only other incident of note was that we were sitting in front of some people who insisted on mispronouncing Prab Rai’s name. The woman kept referring to him as PrAb as in “rabbit” instead of Praahb as in “Robert”. Oh well, what can you do?
This was also the first time I had taken my Canon in to a hockey game. So here are some of the better shots that I wound up with:
I was taking them through the glass, so I’m actually quite pleased with the way they came out. If you click on the photos on this blog, it will actually enlarge them to “normal” size – so there is more detail, more clarity. Unfortunately, even the sports setting was not high enough to catch the action as much as I would have liked to, and not being able to move around like I can during baseball or soccer presented a bit of a challenge. Still, I had a lot of fun, plus we won, so what more can you ask for?