Amodeo: My first live NHL playoff experience – Devils/Kings Game 5

By: Danny Amodeo, Contributing Writer
@DannyP29

Despite being an avid hockey fan, and someone that works within the game, I do not get to as many NHL games as I would like. That said, I couldn’t have picked a better game to go to for my first ever NHL playoff game.

I attended Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Newark, New Jersey with a friend of mine. He’s a die hard Devils fan, while I am a Kings fan – it couldn’t have worked out better for us, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

We purchased two tickets on StubHub somewhat last minute for $250 each. Considering that it was a Stanley Cup Final game and my Kings where playing, $250 was well worth it. Take into account how much Leafs tickets are during the regular season; it was very easy to justify spending the money to see a Cup Final game.

As we arrived to the Prudential Center, we could see that there was a massive gathering out front of the arena. Just behind the NHL.com outdoor studio, was a little party that was going on for Devils fans. Cheerleaders, yes cheerleaders at a hockey game, were standing on top of the welcome sign to the arena, smiling and dancing – definitely not hard on the eyes. As my friend and I walked around the gathering, more Devil cheerleaders were there to take pictures with fans. Then from the loud speaker came on the song “living in America” which got the entire crowd to cheer. As the song was playing, an American solider began to climb down from the top of the arena on a rope, with the crowd loving every second of it.

Coincidental Minors’ Danny Amodeo (left) with former NHLer and current TSN analyst, Ray Ferraro.

As we entered the arena, I noticed the NHL on NBC set and the TSN set. As my friend went to the Devils gift shop, Ray Ferraro ended up coming out and I was able to grab a picture with him. He was even nice enough to chat.  After finding out I was from St. Catharines, he asked me why I was a Kings fan and I jokingly told him, “…because there is no real hockey team in Toronto.”

After chatting with Ray, we continued to walk around the arena to get a feel for the place. Every time I saw a Kings fan, I got a high five or a fist bump. All Kings fan’s were united and hoping that we would see the Cup at the end of the night. All of the rink staff where extremely friendly, offering up their best chirps at me for wearing a Kings jersey, all while smiling and seemly having a great time. As we found our seats, I noticed there wasn’t a bad seat in the building. Every seat had a great view of the ice, and was not obstructed. Whoever designed the building did a great job.

I also, for the first time, met Coincidental Minors’ co-owner Tim Kolupanowich, whose family holds season tickets to the Devils as well as Philadelphia Flyers, and we chatted a bit about the series and the upcoming game. As more people filed into their seats, eventually Tim had to leave, and the pre-game skate began.

After the pre-game skate, and the quick flooding of the ice, the Devils pre-game entrance took place. I must say, whomever was in charge of the red light, the radar on the ice, and the pre-game features that lead the players back onto the ice did a great job. The second the Devils touched the ice, everyone in the building was on their feet, chanting for one team or the other.

Coincidental Minors’ executive editor Tim Kolupanowich (left) and contributing writer Danny Amodeo (right) at Game 5 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

The atmosphere in the building was insane. For those who say only Canadians really love the game of hockey, I would beg to differ and commend the fans south of the border for supporting their team and the game in general. Every play, every shot, every hit, every shift had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Despite the occasional “Devils fans, make some noise” on the PA, the crowd took it upon themselves to be extremely loud the entire night. Chants of Marty filled the arena several times, as Brodeur was stealing the show in Game 5.

I ended up having to witness a 2-1 Kings loss, as the Devils won and forced a Game 6. I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t witness my Kings take the Cup, but considering what a great experience I had, it made things a bit easier to deal with.

The folks in Newark really know how to make a hockey game enjoyable. Although we were still soaking everything up on the way home, my friend and I began to conjur up plans for our next road trip, which will likely involved a loop of games in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Philly and a return back to Newark. For those who have yet to experience an NHL playoff game, I highly recommend making it a priority next season! The experience is well worth the money.

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