On Saturday, I joined my dad at the Consol Energy Center for an afternoon Pens game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. My dad has season tickets to the Pens; right in the very last row of Section 227. We love it - a great view, we can stand the whole time, and direct access to the upper concourse. It's the kind of place where a small community can form, and that is exactly what has happened. We don't just stand there alone during the game. We have "hockey friends" come and go throughout the game. Sometimes they stay for just the intermission. Other times they join us for whole periods; in some cases they've stayed for entire games. Our beer guy - the same beer vendor who has been selling my dad beer at Steelers and Pens games since my dad was MY AGE - knows us by name, calls at us from halfway around the arena, and has even once given me a beer on credit and another time left his case with me while he ran a quick errand. I've learned a lot about hockey from listening to my dad talk to these "hockey friends," to the point where I can even hang in there a little myself in those conversations. This is all to say that going to Pens games frequently because of these season tickets, has made a hockey game less of an event, and more of a gathering for me.
But every now and then you see an explosively awesome game. And it is once again an event. That's what Saturday's game was like. Explosively awesome. It wasn't dramatic or suspenseful; the Pens were never in the hole against Carolina and the final score was 8-1. Malkin scored three goals - A HAT TRICK! - in stunning displays of hockey ability. Staal got a short-hander and a power play goal. This was a fun game to watch, and I'm really glad that on one of the only crappy winter days we've had in this city, I was up there in the last row of the arena, cheering with my dad and our "hockey friends."