Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Minor League Hockey in my hometown

Okay, over the weekend I went home to Dracut, MA, seeing as it was a long weekend and two of my nephews have birthdays around this time. Before the family party, my dad, the two nephews, and me attended a Lowell Devils hockey game. One of the AHL model cities Lowell isn't, but the arena they play in seats about 6200 and has good sightlines in nearly every single seat in its single bowl. For a variety of reasons, few in the area take in games in Lowell, so I don't think they will be there after this season. They are on the endangered list on a pro hockey website for a good reason. I can't believe that the agreement with the city and arena was re-newed after last year.

Therefore, I figured this would be the last pro hockey game I ever see in my hometown; yeah I lived in neighboring Dracut but was born in Lowell. Turned out to be a great game as Lowell beat the Manchester Monarchs 5-1. A little bit of everything, a highlight reel breakaway goal, a major penalty for high sticking but not a game misconduct (I guess only the NHL tosses you for that), too-loud music, and two fights between Jean-Luc Grand Pierre and the this jackass who also got the high sticking major, all that in about 45 seconds of ice time. We all had a good time, that's what's really important. The finale for me in Lowell was a good one. Another thing to love about the minors? Red Hook Winterhook Ale for $5.75, less of a ripoff than the major sports facilities! That always helps.

One negative to report. Dallas Stars fans, and to a lesser degree New Jersey Devils fans, certainly have fond memories of Richard Matvichuk. Not a hall of famer by any means, but a good, solid defenseman who was positionally sound and did not shy away from throwing some hits. At first I thought he was in Lowell just because he got caught in a numbers game with too many blueliners. After seeing this game, maybe not. I hope for his sake he just had a bad game because he was HORRIBLE. Got beat to the puck all the time, blatantly two or three times that led to clear scoring chances. My fellow soccer friends will appreciate this: Matvichuk was quite frankly the hockey equivalent of an orange traffic cone.

FWIW, 3536 was Saturday's paid attendance, even with a discount for a heart association promotion they could barely fill half the place. At least my last hometown AHL memory was good.

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