While the play of our Atlanta Thrashers was odorific yesterday, there were good things to take away from the experience as my fiance and I brought our nephews, age 3 and 6, to the game.
We were able to find lower bowl tickets on StubHub for about $25 apeice and sat just below the Chronicle Balcony. Some hoser in front of us moved twice and actually brought an usher over to complain about the lack of legroom in his seats. Neither he nor any of his brood wore a stitch of hockey apparel and they didn't follow the game closely, so I'm guessing it was his first time at a game. We can do without his kind in Blueland.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, was a young hockey player named Ryan and his father.
During the second intermission, my fiance and I took the young'uns down to the glass at the end of our aisle to take pictures there on ice level. We figured it would make a lasting impression for them. When we got down to the "good seats," I turned to a gentleman in an aisle seat and asked if he would mind taking our picture. He cheerfully agreed and was infinitely patient as we tried to get the boys to pose for the picture when what they really wanted to do was marvel at the NHL ice.
While this gentleman (whose name I regrettably failed to ask) took our pictures, his 17 year old son climbed over the rail to return from where he had been speaking to someone over by the zamboni entrance. We learned that he played on the local youth travelling team and had been speaking with his coach over in the "behind the scenes" area. He brought with him an official NHL puck that his coach had flipped to him as a souvenir.
This young man, named Ryan (good omen for his hockey future, based on this year's Olympic team) saw my young nephews gawking at the ice and asked me if I thought they would like to have the puck. I asked him if he was sure and he assured me that he had a large stack of pucks at home and knew that it would mean more to them. Sure enough, being given that puck elicited the biggest grin of the day from the 3 year old.
As you can imagine, one puck between two young brothers soon turns to hurt feelings. As the 6 year old posed for a picture with it, his little brother sulked. To his great credit, Ryan recognized the issue and went on his own to find his coach to ask for a second puck. He wasn't able to find him this time, but when he returned to his seat, he sent a text message. We had to climb back up to our seats for the start of the third period, but about ten minutes later, Ryan followed us up the aisle with a second puck in hand.
Really gives you hope for the future when a teenager shows character like that.
And he's a hockey player. His dad told me he's a future NHL hopeful. For his sake and the sake of the game, I hope he makes it.