Hello, Ladies… readers! I know it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a post from me, but I’m back in full force and bringing you some hockey, of course! I was lucky enough to be able to purchase Winter Classic tickets for the Capitals vs. Penguins game in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day. As a loyal Caps season ticket holder, I decided to make the purchase, book the hotel and make the trek to Western PA.
Make the trek with me after the jump to read all about my trip (and I promise some pictures of hot guys).
My sister and I arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday, December 30th because we had to see the Baby Pens play the Hershey Bears at the new CONSOL Energy Center. I had to support my baby Caps, and apparently some of the Caps players felt the same way, including Alex Ovechkin.
The Bears’ Braden Holtby blanked the Baby Penguins 1-0. Gooo Bears!
On New Year’s Eve, we decided to explore the city a bit, and we walked all over town. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it might be, but then again we weren’t wearing Caps gear.
For NYE night, we ended up at the Hofbrauhaus which was the official unofficial Caps fan party. The place was packed with Caps fans, and I met up with a ton of friends. I really felt like I was at a bar around the corner from Verizon Center, there were that many Caps people there. My description of the night could never do it justice, so I’ll leave it to a pro, Dan Steinberg a.k.a. Bloggy. If you get a minute, read his piece on the night. For a blog post, it’s a pretty awesome article.
Anyways, it was NYE so I definitely let loose and had fun. We’ll just leave it at that. ;)
It was unusually warm in Pittsburgh when we arrived, and the forecast had been calling for rain on Saturday. Everyone was excited about it not being -30 degrees for the game, but the threat of rain threw a wrench into all our plans. The NHL came up with an interesting contingency plan for rain, but the best part of the plan was possibly moving the start time from 1pm to 8pm. Thank God the NHL came through and decided to just change the start time the night before. This allowed us all to party harder on NYE and have time to sleep it off by game time.
We took it easy on New Years Day and just chilled in our hotel until about 5:30pm. We walked over to the stadium, met up with some friends, hit up a fun bar and then headed into the game. It was nothing like I’d ever seen before. We were in sec. 524 of Heinz Field. It was up high and in the end zone, but we had a great view of the ice. The game was more than I imagined. The thrill of watching hockey outside was indescribable.
Our section was very Caps-friendly, but we did have some Penguins fans around us. They weren’t too mean, and I even befriended a few. The stadium was pretty divided. As you glanced around the upper deck, you could see alternating sections of red and baby blue. We were treated to two national anthems: Canada and the US. The lead singer of Barenaked Ladies sang O Canada and Jackie Evancho from America’s Got Talent sang the Star Spangled Banner. After the US anthem, red, white and blue fireworks were set off – we considered this a good sign since those are the Caps colors.
The first period was absolutely awesome. It wasn’t very chilly, and it didn’t rain a drop. The score was 0-0, so there wasn’t much smack talk to be heard from either side. The Pens dominated the period, though, so us Caps fans were a bit scared. During the first intermission, we started to get some light rain. It wasn’t too bad, though. The second period began, and Evgeni Malkin scored the first goal of the 2011 Winter Classic. After that, the Caps fans started to get a bit nervous.
Then a miracle happened: The Caps scored a power play goal. Mike Knuble got a good rebound and stuffed it in. Caps fans roared with excitement, and we high-fived anyone and everyone we could. The score was tied, but that PP goal was huge for the Caps’ struggling PP unit.
The rain started up again, this time a light drizzle. Then another miracle happened: Eric Fehr got a beautiful goal after Penguins goalie Marc Andre Fleury got held up behind his own net. The Caps took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after 2 periods.
The rain really started towards the end of the 2nd intermission. The ice was like a melting pond. The ice crew had to come out and squeegee the ice a bunch of times during the third period.
At the 10 minute mark, the teams switched ends and all of us thought they were sounding the horn to end the game. Luckily, we were going to see a full 60 minute game. I said to my sister that I was glad they switched ends because the Caps had scored two goals on this net. She shushed me saying I would jinx the team. A few minutes later, Eric Fehr struck again!! The Caps had a 3-1 lead and things were looking awesome for the Caps.
Around the 5-minute mark, Penguins fans started filing out of the stadium, and I was slightly disappointed at their lack of support. I’ve seen crazy crap happen in the weening minutes and seconds at sporting events, and it was disheartening to see them give up with so much time left. By the time the final horn sounded, Caps fans were all you could hear in the stadium. We were chanting and cheering, and life was good.
After the game, we found a nice bistro bar where we had celebratory drinks and a bit of dinner. There were Caps fans everywhere we went. I was so proud of my team. I didn’t hear a peep from anyone besides Caps fans as I proudly walked around the city wearing my Caps red! We left bright and early the next morning and headed back to Baltimore. We wanted to get back home to catch the Ravens game because we heard that wearing a Ravens jersey in Pittsburgh is like a death sentence.
All in all, we had an awesome weekend and met some great people. I definitely have a new appreciation for Pittsburgh, and would definitely consider going back again for a visit…just not for a Ravens/Steelers game. :)