Towards the end of the 3rd period, with the scored tied, the game was way too intense... as I had predicted, another nail biter... the game went into OT and the Thrashers were rescued by Kovalchuk in OT with a huge shot past former Thrashers goalie Mike Dunham.
The hardest part of the entire night was the fact that being in the press / media box, you aren't supposed to cheer, yell, or jump up. That was near impossible. It's a natural reaction - as natural as breathing air. You just do it.
However, the biggest surprise of the night wasn't Kovalchuks goal. The biggest surprise was the fact that Hossa came back out to play in the 3rd period. He went down and went down hard after slamming into the boards. He was down for quite a while. The trainer went out to help... but Blueland cheered him on with the HOSSA! HOSSA! cheer and the crowd erupted when he got up. I thought man, this is devestating, he might be out for a month if not more... it looked bad. But no, he comes back in the game in the third and on top of that scores 19 seconds into the 3rd period. I told my fellow Blog Night Bloggers that, win or lose, the best thing that happened tonight was Hossa coming back out. Win or lose, that was the best news of the night.
So, to recap the night - We met outside the Philips Arena security entrance. We were given media credentials for the game... an all too cool token / souvenir for the experience. We were taken up to the 9th floor, which is where all of the TV, radio and print media are. We were taken to the upper area of the media seats... which might be high up, but have one HELL of a view. Remember when you used to play NES Hockey (still, by far, the best hockey video game ever made... you know it's true!) how you had an overhead view? The view from the press box area is as close to that as you can get. You can see plays develop... you can tell how plays will go before they even happen... not to mention awesome picture opportunities. You are about as high up as the highest seats in the building, but you are much closer to the ice than the seats.
During the first intermission, I had to use the restroom. I don't know if you call it luck, weird, or... well I'm not sure how you describe it... but I had the honor and privilege of taking a leak next to Mr. Billy Jaffee, former Thrashers play by play announcer, now commentating for the Islanders. With the Thrashers up 3-1, he didn't sound to pleased, but did mention (eerily) something along the lines of the Islanders being able to come back... and come back they did.
After the OT, we were taken down to the post game press conference. It's quite small press conference room... come playoff time, they'll need to make it about 10 times the size! The back drop is something I'd like to hang up in my room. Who needs wallpaper or posters when you can have a Thrashers / NHL backdrop? You can pretend to be in your own Thrashers post game press conference every single day!
After the short but sweet press conference (I took video and I will have it uploaded on YouTube shortly....)
After the press conference, we were taken into the locker room. Note there is a dressing room and a locker room. The dressing room door was open, and I noted that it "might be a bit intense for the females"... most of them turned their heads to see the glimpse of the Thrashers players getting changed out of their game gear. They were humorously told to close the door. We were able to take pictures of the locker room and a few players came in and out while we were there...but Kari did not make an appearance - I was hoping he would because my girlfriend has a SLIGHT obsession with him... which is all good with me.
The entire night went by so fast, it was such an experience, an experience I hope that they will soon again have. It all went by so fast. I've never been to a game where it all seemed to go by so fast.
I want to thank Ben, the Thrashers Web Guy, for inviting us all and taking us around tonight. It was something I'll never forget. It was also really cool to meet all the other bloggers. If I could do that every night, I would. If I could do that for a living, you'd bet I'd be there every night.
No other sport lets you get that close or have these kind of opportunities. It's too difficult to put the experience into words. Right now it all seems like a blur.
I couldn't have asked for a better night... Ok, well, after the Islanders tied it up after being up 3-0, it was a bit heart wrenching and an emotional drain after being on a 3-0 "high". But a win is a win, as a I heard at least a few of the players say.
If the Thrashers had Blog Night every night, I'd be there. I don't think most bloggers were trying to do a play by play, blogging live sort of thing... it was way more difficult to do that I thought... if someone is able to blog / write a play by play as it happens while watching the game and typing at the same time... you'd have to be superman... so if you read the actual postings of the game, good luck making most of it out... to be honest, there was no really good way to prepare for it. It's too hard to pay attention to the game and blog... you can't turn your head for a second or you'll miss something!
But this is a prime example of what makes blogging what it is and why it's become the biggest thing since the TV... ok, maybe not, but close enough to it! If this was a hockey city up north, there'd be a line wrapped around the building for even a CHANCE to experience something like this... so I'm thankful as can be to take part in this sort of experience.
Thanks again to the Thrashers for letting us do this and especially to Ben, the Web Guy, for being our guide.
Pictures and video of the post game conference are coming next!