Tonight, Sam and I headed out for our annual Christmastime trip to the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild get trounced.  Last year, the team doing the trouncing was the Red Wings, this year it was the Blackhawks.  While the game was a bust, the company was excellent, and in spite of the grim situation on the ice, there was much laughter and all-around merriment.

I really can’t express how much I love the Xcel Center.  I only have HSBC Arena to compare it to, but honestly, I can’t imagine a hockey arena being more beautiful.  The whole atmosphere is warm and extremely inviting.  This might sound crazy, but the lighting there is somehow softer and more intimate than HSBC.  I can’t really describe it, but if you ever get a chance to see a game in St. Paul, I highly recommend that you do so.

In addition to being pretty, Xcel Energy Center also has a wide variety of interesting beers and snacks.  We started the evening out right by ordering up a couple of gigantic Summit Pale Ales.  (Just as a side note, I totally convinced the new guy working the taps to pour us a giant micro-brew when the giant “Bomber” cups were clearly only intended to be used for the 22 ounce bottles of beer.   When I ordered our beers the kid said, “Well, I think the Bombers are only these Corona bottles, but I suppose I could just pour the Summit into the big glass.  I don’t see why I can’t do that.”  I quickly replied, “You should TOTALLY do that.  Do it!”  and he did.  I still haven’t figured out why 22 ounce beers have to come out of a bottle at the arena.  What’s uo with that?)  Later on, once I had a nice little buzz going, I realized that what I wanted most in the world were some mini-donuts.  Fortunately for me, the Xcel center sells mini-donuts.


Don’t even try to claim you don’t want to eat mini-donuts while watching hockey, because no one is buying it.

The game was….almost comically bad.  The Wild were not good.  At all.  Sam was in very high spirits considering, and I have to say, I was impressed with the overall spunkiness of the crowd.  At the game I attended last year the Wild were defeated by of a ruthlessly effective Detroit team, but tonight they were just plain B-A-D, and the crowd was UNimpressed.  There was booing of the home team after ALL three periods, and derisive cheering for the random lackluster Wild shot on goal.  I think of Minnesotans as very manicured and polite, so it was interesting to hear them let loose in giddy frustration.  While the crowd was clearly displeased, it also never lost its fundamental friendliness, and I was downright impressed with the camaraderie between fans.  I really hope that someday I get to see a spirited game in Minnesota, because I’d love to be apart of a celebrating Minnesota crowd.  The crowd deserved much better than what it got tonight.  On a personal note, it was fun to realize that although I’m a Sabres fan through and through, there is something fundamentally “Minnesotan” about how I express myself at a game.  I felt very at home with the Wild fans.  (Sadly, I also felt very at home with the Wild’s level of hockey.  Heh.)

The Blackhawks are really zippy and fun to watch.  Even Soupy.   I was not-so-secretly hoping that a disastrous Soupy spin-o-rama would lead to a Wild goal, but it was not meant to be tonight.  I even found myself kind of missing old sweaty Soupy.  When he’s not falling apart for your team on the ice because of his contract negotiations, he’s not so bad. Ya know?

The Hockey Gods really seem to want me to see hockey from a very specific angle this season.   When I got my Sabres tickets this year, I got half of them from a Sabres mini-pack, and half of them from Lizzie B’s season tickets.  I was very surprised to discover that through sheer coincidence, all those seats were in the same section (310).  I thought it was very charming to settle into our seats tonight and find myself with a familiar view.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this season has been staking claim to a specific part of the arena, and I’m amused that this claim seems to extend beyond HSBC Arena.


Upper deck, home team shoots twice.  This is my territory.

All in all, great night.  Thanks Sammy McSammerson!


9 Responses to “Minnesota-Style”

  1. 1 Patty (in Dallas) December 29, 2008 at 3:09 am

    I just realized that mini-donuts are what’s missing from the AAC. I thought the sugared pecans were gonna be it, but it’s painfully obvious now that it’s mini-donuts. :P

  2. 2 ms.conduct December 29, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Ugh, what a rotten game to see. Sorry about that. But hey, how about that Clutterbuck?! :D He and Mikko and Backstrom are the only ones who shouldn’t be skating Herbies right now.

    Tell ya what I’m looking forward to when I finally get to the X for a game is fried cheese curds. We don’t really have that kinda thing in Texas…

  3. 3 CrotchetyOriginalSam December 29, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I am in favor of Clutterbuck, for many, many reasons, and yes, he actually looked good last night. Mikko was just okay, as was Bruno, Backs was a stud, and absolutely everyone else sucked balls. I was definitely one of those booing, and despite my Philly roots, I really try not to do that very often. Herbies for everyone! (And it really might be time for someone upstairs to lose his job. This team was not put together in winning fashion.)

    (Btw, Ms. C, skip the curds at the X – they taste like they were fried up off-site and parked under a warming lamp for several hours. Grab yourself a bison burger and make a trip to the state fair or the winter carnival for your curds…)

  4. 4 Katebits December 29, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Patty, I had no idea how much I needed donuts with hockey until I had them. It was quite a revelation.

    Ms.conduct, Clutterbuck was the STAR of the show, and because of my preseason experience of scoping out his adoring, sign carrying fans, I feel a certain kinship with him. So, the Clutterbuck thing was fun.

  5. 5 Gambler December 29, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I absolutely agree that the Xcel is a truly gorgeous arena. I had a wonderful time at the game I attended there in October (not least because the Sabres won in a most entertaining fashion). I love the way it looks outside and in, and it was awesome walking around and looking at all the sweaters on display. There is something about the lighting there, too, and even though I was in the veeeeery last row in the house, I had a great view of all the action. All around a beautifully constructed and outfitted building.

    Unfortunately I was too poor of a student to spend money on expensive arena beer, but I commend your good taste, Kate. I don’t know what I would have done without Summit EPA this past semester.

    My sister graduated from high school with a kid named Clutterbuck, and I remember thinking, when I noticed him at the Wild game, how many Clutterbucks can there be in the world?

  6. 6 Chaz December 29, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Amen! The X is awesome. I think I miss it more this year because I haven’t seen any live hockey. =( My personal fav are the dudes that carry the mini donuts in “warmers” (a cool with heat) so the donuts stay hot AND you can be lazy and get donuts without leaving your seat. =)

  7. 7 Chaz December 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    and that should say cooler.

  8. 8 JBo December 30, 2008 at 2:27 am

    This might sound crazy, but the lighting there is somehow softer and more intimate than HSBC.

    Yeah, I totally agree. The lighting in HSBC is just too cutting on my eyes, and sometimes it hurts.

    I too miss sweaty Soupy. “Do your palms sweat?”

  1. 1 Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge, and Other Disgusting Atrocities: A Story in Two Parts « The Willful Caboose Trackback on December 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm

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