Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pengrowth Saddledome vs Rexall Centre

This will have to do...

After attending games in Calgary and then Edmonton on back-to-back nights a couple of weeks ago (both against the Blues), I'd originally intended on writing up a blog entry on each game. Especially since each game had a record breaking goal in it. On the Monday night in Calgary, Jarome Iginla scored his 365th goal as a Flame, to take the club lead ahead of Theoron Fleury. On the Tuesday night in Edmonton, Andrew Cogliano became the first player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in three consecutive games. There is no telling the next time that the Flames will have a player breaking the club goal lead (both because of Iginla's lengthy career left ahead of him, and the fact that there doesn't appear to be anyone in the system right now to challenge him for it), so that was a big milestone to be at. When it comes to Cogliano's record, it requires a lot of chance just to have back-to-back-to-back overtime games, let alone have one player score the decider in all of them. That record may never be broken...

But I've been so ridiciulously busy since then with hockey of my own (tournaments and league play and pickup), that I just haven't had the time and/ or energy to sit down and get it done. Now with it being so long ago, I've decided to just merge the two and compare the experiences in the same post...

Location



I know that this is a big point of contention for the boys up North, especially with all of the talk going on right now over the building of a new arena complex in the city core. If any of you have been over the the Battle of Alberta blog in the last year and a half, you've more than likely seen Grabia's coverage of every nuance of the proposal...

But I'm just going to cover my experiences with what is in place right now...

The Saddledome is located just southeast of the downtown core, and is just a few minutes walk from the c-train (Calgary's rapid transit system). There is the infamous connection to the Red Mile, which is just down 17th (albeit, it is a little ways down 17th from the Saddledome with a fairly 'interesting' area inbetween them). The fact that it is on the Calgary Stampede grounds means that there is ample parking on well-maintained lots while the Stampede is not in use. Given that a very significant portion of the population take advantage of the transit system and also the bars on 17th, there didn't seem to be any traffic issues before or after the game...

The Rexall Centre is located to the northeast of Edmonton, well removed from the city core. The parking areas were not overly well maintained and walking to the arena required being consistently at the mercy of the elements, as there was no coverage. As well, the arena itself is situated in such a way so that anyone going to the game only had a few apporaches to the building due to the necessity of crossing major roadways, which led to large crowds moving slowly together across bridges and such. And don't even get me started on how long it takes to get out of the parking lots after the game...

Advantage: Saddledome (and that doesn't even take into consideration the view of Calgary when you are leaving the arena)...

Pregame, intermissions and postgame



Before the Calgary game, when the team was on the ice doing there warmups, Dion Phanuef kept on coming in on the net from different angles and at different speeds and put it just inside the top right corner of the net on every shot. I'm putting this down because it seemd that no matter how far out he was from the net at the time he took the shot, he was able to put it exactly where he wanted to. I was reminded of this after seeing his goal in the Vancouver game last night, where he picked the top left corner as he was streaking in on Luongo...

There wasn't a whole lot different between the Calgary and Edmonton pregames, beyond the flames in Calgary, and the use of a big oil derrick in the entry of the Oiler players. And speaking of which, they could really stand to light it up a little better. They have a great prop, but it would definitely benefit from a little more in the way of pyrotechnics or at least better lighting...

In terms of what happened on the ice during the intermissions, there isn't a whole lot to write home about (the typical Timbit hockey stuff), beyond the irony of Edmonton having shootout competitions for their first one. When I saw this I just about busted a gut...

Off the ice however, my brother and I were a little stunned when we walked into the concourses in Edmonton. Usually whenever I go to an NHL game, people do the same thing between periods. They use the bathroom and then go get a beer and/ or something to eat and then bring it back to their seat. But Edmonton reminded us a lot of a small town rink. There they don't head right back to their seats, but instead they hang around in the concourse, or even sit at tables provided and talk with other fans until the next period starts. It was weird...

In terms of postgame stuff, both teams did the usual three stars thing and then everyone left...

Advantage: Rexall (the intermission thing was odd, but in a good way)...



During play

We actually had seats in nearly identical spots for both games (even down to being on the aisle both times), so our vantage points didn't vary. During the game in Calgary I had a kid that looked to be about 6'2" sitting in front of me and leaning forward the whole time. This was a little annoying, so I was pleasantly surprised when we got to Edmonton and noticed that they had notices up on the screens to keep your back pressed to your seat when play was going. And for the most part, everyone did...

There was a lot said during the playoffs a couple of years ago about how loud the Oiler crowd is during a game. When you walk into the Rexall Centre, you can certainly see why. The arena is tiny and is actually well built for amplifying sound. That being said, I thought that the Calgary game was more consistently noisey (in a good way). Granted, whenever they flashed 'I can't hear you!' at Rexall, the place suddenly got deafening... for about 5 seconds...

There also seemed to be problems with the out of town scoreboards in Edmonton, as they seemed to freeze on the score for the Anaheim-Phoenix game for the majority of the night. There was nearly a full slate of games that day, but it was hard to follow what was going on outside of the arena. I realize that we were there to see the Oiler game, but you still should be able to follow other games going on that night...

Advantage: Draw (Rexall impressed me with the seat thing, but I was equally unimpressed with the oft-advertised 'noise' and the non-functioning out of town scoreboard)...


Intangibles

On the way into the Flames game we picked up a program for $5. On the way into the game at Rexall, they handed one to both my brother and I, and after asking how much, we were told they were free. Imagine that, giving out a free keepsake that would help you follow the game better. Colour me impressed...

I realize that Rexall is a very old building in NHL terms, but I think I saw more concrete there than at the LeFarge plants west of Calgary. This seems to keep with the small town rink feel that I commented on before, but it killed the excitement a little. I want to be impressed when I walk through a storied building, no bored...

On the way to our seats in the Saddledome, they were giving out 4X7 hockey cards of Dion Phaneuf to the kids and apparently to the attractive girls as well. Which was kind of cool and made me wish I had brought along an attractive girl instead of my brother (but only for a second, as I like hanging out and watching hockey with my brother). But it was all good afterwards, as some people didn't feel the need to keep them (for shame!), so I managed to pick up a couple of them...

I realize that this doesn't really fit in anywhere, but it was also cool that the Flames had Theoron Fleury in the building that night to congratulate Iggy on his 365th goal on the big screen...

Last season (or maybe it was early this season), I remember WI talking about pocket dawgs on her blog and figured that whenever I made it out to a game in Calgary I would have to have one. Having now partaken in the odd cuisine, I was impressed. You think its just a hot dog, but they somehow taste better. And the burgers on sale outside the rink after the game were also very good...

Advantage: Saddledome


Final Tally

The Saddledome takes it! You didn't honestly think that I would let Edmonton win, did you? But I will concede that it did go into overtime and give them a point...

I'm sure I'm forgetting a number of things, in which case somebody will have to remind me and I may have to do some editing...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is cool