Last night I had the pleasure of going to a game in Amarillo. It’s not that much of a drive from Albuquerque to Amarillo and really with most of my road trips that have gone through there, you barely feel like you’ve started when getting to Amarillo, so it was a no-brainer to follow the Ice wolves out there and actually see them at an away game. We rented an Airbnb which was really fantastic and had the requisite meal at the Big Texan before the game.
For whatever reason the Bull’s arena – the Budweiser Bullpen – has the away and home reversed from most other places. (I personally think it has to do with the ballet advertisement on the boards on that side which makes it look like the players are in tutus, but i have no proof this is why, lol.) In any case, it meant we’d purchased our tickets behind the Bulls box on accident and no exchanges were allowed on tickets. But the game was hardly sold out so we just shuffled seats behind the Ice Wolves as people came in and moved on with our lives. We eventually ended up in the row directly behind the box, which was fantastic. I’m not sure why it was completely sold and left open, my only thought was maybe it was for player’s family and a requirement of some sort. No real idea and I’m pretty sure that kind of thing is usually only NHL level events, but who knows,with a huge stadium, I could see it happening.
Their venue has seating all the way around versus ours being on one side only and was oddly warm for a rink. The guys had told me some places had sludgy ice and were far warmer than Outpost, and you could definitely see it there. I didn’t need anything beyond my jersey layer and ended up taking off my usual hockey-layers. Overall the seats are okay, though I prefer benches, and the staff were nice,so that’s a plus for the Bulls right there.
The first thing I was amused by was the fact that the Bulls seemed to have owned the fact that they’re called the Bulls. Whereas we have little foam versions of our mascot Chilly the wolf, they have red “Bulls Balls”. We bought two as our souvenirs and spent a minute snickering like twelve year olds over them.
As for the game itself, oh man did we kick some serious ass. We came out the gates hot as hell, keeping the Bulls on the run (there’s a joke about run with the bulls in here somewhere, but that would imply we were running from them, not vice versa lol). We scored at 6:01 into the first period, Emil Gabrielson (#18) netting a goal that took us a few seconds to notice from our perch. The crowd was interesting from the perspective of being the away team. Whereas at Outpost we tend to be pretty loud about things when the opposing team does stuff, it was just sort of… shocked silence? Strange, but okay, I could deal with that. I’m not really mean with my words though I do cuss upon occasion when yelling about something. I, too, was less loud than usual at Outpost, but I was apparently loud enough a couple girls stopped me after and told me they liked my enthusiasm and had big ol’ smiles for me. That felt nice.
Every chant of “Let’s go Bulls” that the announcer started, I waited until it died off and then yelled as loud as I could, “Let’s go Ice Wolves!” and my husband would do the clap part of it. Given I was sitting right behind the boys, I’m pretty sure they heard and I hope it helped bolster them in some small way. My other comments ranged from, “Hey, boys, take out the trash” (probably the meanest of things I ever say… unless we’re talking a certain team I’m a little mad at) to things like “keep it!’ or “get it out!” My husband likes saying “Defense!” when it’s needed and hilariously being so close to the benches, I actually heard one of the boys say that, too at one point.
Game-wise, Lauri Sertti (#28) scored for the Bulls in the first period, leaving us tied going off the ice at the end of the period. The second period started with a vengeance, at only 15:28 Spencer Rudrud (#7) claimed us another goal and then Keegan Langefels (#4) followed it up at 9:04. The Bulls couldn’t put anything in on us until the very end of the period with only 10.3 seconds on the clock, Matt Allen, their captain (#20) scored on us, slipping one past Mackay (#35).
The third period was intense. The Bulls actually pulled Glockner from the net and put in Max Gutjahr (#35), which was something sort of shocking, given Glockner is usually a freaking brick wall. At 19:06, Emil Gabrielson (#18) once again scored us a goal. Things got, in our announcer’s usual words “dicey” after that. Griffen Sanom (#17) and Nick Trela (#24) dropped gloves, but didn’t get too far on that fight. Another little tiff went off soon after, again nothing big. And then we got to Keenan Johnson (#79)’s fight and whoooo boy! Keenan doesn’t start fights he can’t end and he may have hit the ice first, but man, did he deliver on the fight. He and Aaron White (#10) had a go of it, Keenan got him in a choke hold and things got…we’ll go with messy given a ref got punched according to my husband. I saw part of it on a camera screen and part of it right in front of me. The crowd loved it. Keenan went in the box and then ended up serving a rest of game ejection for the fight, the decision made in retrospect apparently when he left the box and got kicked off the ice.
Drew Lorinchak (#20) scored us another goal at 7:23 and honestly, I’ve not seen the boys all look so happy as they did at that point, knowing it was going their way and not bound to turn around by then. And things did go their way, all the way to the end and it was beautiful. We won 5:2 and it was something to behold. While the Bulls put more shots on our net, we capitalized on the ones we took and it paid off. The guys were elated and so was I.
I’d found one of the Chilly foam figures in my bag and when they won, I pitched it into the box with them since I was right there at this little opening between the panels and it made Coach Phil Fox grin at me. We stuck around just long enough in-rink to tell the boys good job, share grins with them, and then headed for the parking lot.
When I’d mentioned to the guys during my little ‘let me throw questions at you for my book’ session we’d be in Amarillo, I’d been told if I stuck around to see the bus off, they’d have it honk at me. So we found it and I waited at the top of the ramp and true to their word, they did get the driver to honk and there were lots of waves from the veteran player’s end of the bus that made me smile real hard.
We found an awesome restaurant for dinner, ended up watching the end of an NHL game on the screens, had someone who worked really hard with my food allergies and they were super nice about the whole thing. A good meal, a good drink, lovely company (hubby), and a fantastic game to end the old year and bring in the new. What more could I have asked for?
I hope everyone’s new year began in such a great way and I hope it continues just as it has begun. With wonder, passion, great games, and greater people. Here’s to a rockin’ 2020, may all our hindsight be foresight in this year.
(I totally typo-ed Glockner as Blockner up there and seriously, that should be the guy’s nickname lol.)