It was the last night of the year, my first hockey game of the year, and the Orange & Black rolled into the Rockies. It was my second trip to Denver of the day, and despite flying across the country and running on little to no sleep, I couldn’t have been more excited. I wasn’t missing it.
I grew up with tales of the Broad Street Bullies and I loved that game with every fiber of my being, but I’d yet to attend a regular-season NHL game. But the hockey gods were looking out for me. After moving to a new city with few plans for New Year’s Eve, my hometown hockey heroes rolled into town to save the day. When I went back to Philadelphia, excited to share my plans, my cousin, Samantha, was quick to set me up in the press box.
Denver’s motto might be #UnitedInOrange and there was quite a bit of orange in the building… for the other team. Despite a loud, frenetic, sold-out crowd, there were still lots of fans in Flyers sweaters making their voices heard.
I was excited to see former Flyers Danny Brière and Maxime Talbot take the ice for the Avs, but was hoping they wouldn’t have too sweet a game against their former club. The Flyers were hot and needed to keep momentum up on a long road trip.
When you’ve got two of the NHL’s top-five points leaders on your side — Jake Voráček and Claude Giroux — there’s not much to complain about on a night when you get to see them both score. (Almost as sweet as having two of the top-five points-getters on your team? No Sidney Crosby anywhere to be found on that list! Hah! Take that, Sid!) But despite a well-fought game, brilliant saves from Mase, and only 19s left in OT before a shootout, the defense collapsed and the Avs scored the game winner.
The night wasn’t without a bit of history, though, as I got to witness the first Croatian-born player to score in NHL history when Borna Rendulić netted one for the Avs.
Even with the loss, I was just so thrilled to see my favorite hockey team in person. There’s just nothing like it. The best way to ring in the new year? Scoring for a few cases of Tastykakes, indeed.
Go Orange & Black!