The Chicks rock Detroit City for H2H2

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.

Joe_Louis_Arena

By Candice Monhollan and Ally Pelphrey

(From left to right) Ally, Candice, Courtney and Liz, a.k.a., the Chicks. (Candice Monhollan)

(From left to right) Ally, Candice, Courtney and Liz, a.k.a., the Chicks. (Candice Monhollan)

North met South earlier this month when we — Candice and Ally — joined Courtney and Liz in Detroit for H2H2 and some long-overdue facetime with each other. If the true sign of a good time is how long it takes to recover, then you’ll understand why this article is coming to you late.

Herm to Hockeytown 2 (H2H2) was highlighted on our site’s With the Assist back on Jan. 31. Not only was it an excuse to party for a great cause — over $14,000 raised for Children’s Hospital of Michigan — but it provided a wonderful opportunity for four of your intrepid Chicks to finally meet face-to-face after a year of collaboration. It’s hard to believe the site has been online for a year now, but what better way to celebrate than a trip to the home of one of the greatest hockey organizations out there?

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One of the greatest non-Chicks quote of the weekend came when we visited a small shop in a strip mall called the Goalie Den. Courtney was in search of a place to get her Red Wings jersey customized and the rest of us wandered about the store, oohing and ahhing over some of the jerseys hanging up. The whole time in the store, we were giggling and ragging on each other. The lone guy working couldn’t help but hear everything we were saying and he became confused when we were discussing our teams. A Flyers, Avalanche, Red Wings and Thrashers fan all in Detroit? No one can blame him for wondering.

Courtney explained that it was the first day any of us have ever met in person. To which his jaw dropped and he replied that it seemed like we’ve known each other for years.

And that’s how it felt with us.

When people meet for the first time, there’s usually that little bit of awkwardness, but with the four of us, we skipped right past that stage. We all arrived separately at the airport where Liz collected us one-by-one.  There were no butterflies, no weird hellos. In fact, when the four of us were finally united by the Southwest terminal, we proceeded to do the Kaner shuffle.

The four of us have had countless e-mail, chats and conference calls throughout the year we’ve been a part of the site and it made for the impression that we’ve been lifelong friends to all outsiders who may have been eavesdropping at any point over the weekend.

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We spent Friday morning in Ann Arbor, touring USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. This is the place where future NHL players and Olympians hone their skills. Our tour took us down the “wall of fame,” a hallway lined with old team photos and pictures of former NTDP players who currently play in the NHL. We were able to explore all the inner workings of the U-18 and U-17 teams by touring their practice rinks, weight room, locker rooms and even a classroom where they learn life skills.

We also caught a glimpse of some of the players on the U-17 team as they prepared for a road trip. It was a little awe-inspiring to see these kids in front of us and know that many may soon be drafted and carve their own paths on NHL ice.

Then it was back to Detroit for the main event!

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The main event kicked off with a private party at Hockeytown Cafe where we had the opportunity to “tweet-up” with people we’ve been chatting online with for months. Many thanks to the H2H2 coordinators, including our site’s own Ellen Manuszak, and Hockeytown Cafe for providing a private room with a buffet and door prize raffle. The alcohol flowed freely and a lot of it we can’t talk about here. But rest assured, we arrived at Joe Louis Arena in style.

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The Joe is unlike anything either one of us is used to. The arenas we call home — Philips and Wells Fargo respectively — are state-of-the-art places with spacious two-level concourses and an overabundance of amenities. The Joe, on the other hand, is decidedly low-key and no-frills; it really does look like a concrete bunker with giant red doors. The concourse, windowless and painted black, should feel claustrophobic but it doesn’t, and perhaps that has everything to do with the sea of red and white filling it. Thick red curtains separate the arena proper from the concourse, and when you walk through it feels like stepping back into hockey from another decade.

There is nothing fancy about Joe Louis Arena, but who needs a fancy arena when you have rafters covered in that many banners? This is the home of a team that doesn’t need to dress up in the latest sports marketing finery to put butts in seats. You won’t get crazy intermission games or ice girls or — hockey gods help us — crowd wave technology here. No, this is a place where hockey can speak for itself, no accessories needed.

It’s fitting that the Red Wings, a team so steeped in tradition and solid, lasting success, play at a place like the Joe. And boy, did they give us one nail-biter of a game while we were there.

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The Red Wings skate out to celebrate Pavel Datsyuk's overtime winner. (Candice Monhollan)

The Red Wings skate out to celebrate Pavel Datsyuk’s overtime winner. (Candice Monhollan)

The game was a tough battle between the Detroit Red Wings and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers got off to a 1-0 lead only 6:40 into the first after Jimmy Howard let slip a Ryan Jones shot under his pad. Howard didn’t let the goal phase him as he went on to perform some spectacular saves to keep the Wings in the game.

Detroit believed they tied the game with 21.1 seconds left in the second after Todd Bertuzzi redirected the puck past Devan Dubnyk, but upon further review, it was determined Bertuzzi directed the puck with his glove and disallowed the goal.

The Wings kept pressing, but couldn’t capitalize on any chances, including a 5-on-3.  With under a minute and 30 seconds to go, head coach Mike Babcock pulled Howard for the extra attacker, and it paid off.

Captain Nicklas Lidstrom took a shot from the point and after a couple deflections off of Oilers, the puck slid right past Dubnyk before he could make it across with just 24.8 seconds left in regulation.

In overtime, Howard once again stood on his head with amazing saves, but what will be remembered is Pavel Datsyuk’s patience with the puck before he launched it over Dubnyk to win the game and sent the sellout crowd of 20,066 into a joyous frenzy.

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It lasted only four days, but it was some of the most fun, adventurous and entertaining four days any of us could have ever asked for.

We came to this new city – well, not in Liz’s case – and had the chance to explore and delve into the hockey culture that runs deep in this place rightfully called “Hockeytown.” The home fans were more than gracious and accommodating to this odd jumble of ladies who invaded the Joe.

It was quite a sad moment when we were dropped off one-by-one at the airport to return to our own homes and our own teams. The four of us formed such a close bond in those few days that it was tear-jerking to say our goodbyes.

We leave you with a final picture from outside the Ren Center in Detroit that best describes what Chicks Who Give a Puck has done. Here we all stand in our respective homes across the United States marked out on a map along the river walk. All of us from different backgrounds, different states, and different cultures. But here we are, brought together on this site and in Detroit by our common love of hockey.

Chicks_Who_Give_a_Puck

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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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