My First Tweetup

Sporting my Habs colours, even my iPhone wears bleu, blanc, rouge. Photo by Laura Kenney (@Habbykins)

On Feb. 11 the All Habs Tweetup crew hosted a Toronto event at St. Louis Bar and Grill for a Hockey Day in Canada match up between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

During the last year I’ve been reading up on these tweetup events and the friendships that come out of meeting fellow twitter Habs fans face-to-face, and finally had the opportunity to attend one myself.

After carefully choosing which of

My fiance wearing my step dad's Canadiens sweater. I couldn't resist taking a photo for all his Sens fans friends back home.

my bleu, blanc, rouge outfits to sport to the bar (I went with a Josh Gorges t-shirt), and raiding my step dad’s closet to give my Sens fan fiance a sweater to wear, we were on our way to show our colours in enemy territory.

Not going to lie…the following words did escape my mouth en route to the bar:

“The Habs better win this game, I am going to be so embarrassed if we take over a Toronto bar and have to walk out with a loss”

Luckily for me, Les Canadiens not only won, they completely dominated the blue and white in their home arena and shut them out on a night they were celebrating their beloved ex captain Mats Sundin.

From the moment I walked into the bar, I knew it was going to be a great night.

We were welcomed with open arms by my Twitter acquaintances whom I’ve built online relationships with throughout the last year or two.

It was pretty surprising when I didn’t even have to introduce myself; as I walked in Dayes yelled “hey! Melissa”

I finally got to meet @habbykins, @Kuyaz and @cokeaddict who I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with on Twitter about the Habs, my own hockey endeavours, and not to mention cake. Mmm, cake.

Michael Kuyaz and I meeting in person for the first time! I'm wearing a Gorges t-shirt, he's wearing Pacioretty!

I also met @thetonyjones and new follower @ange_ducharme, among others.

When Erik Cole scored five minutes into the second period to give Montreal a 1-0 lead, the entire bar (okay, our entire group…which made up 3/4 of the bar) errupted in cheers as @Kuyaz came around and gave everyone a high five.

The blue and white crowd at St. Louis would remain silent for the rest of the game as the Habs went on to rout the Leafs 5-0 just hours after Sundin claimed Toronto was the hockey capital of the world, in his pre game speech.

So much for that, eh Mats?

The Canadiens chased James Reimer out of the net after 40 minutes of play, after he allowed four goals on just 15 shots. Jonas Gustavsson replaced “Reim Time” between the pipes for the third period and was beat once on three attempts.

Carey Price made 32 saves for a perfect game, as Montreal won their fourth straight.

It was the first shutout by the Canadiens in Toronto since Jose Theodore blanked the Leafs 4-0 on Oct. 11, 2003.

The Canadiens league-leading penalty kill was tested five times, while they’re power play (which is second worst in the league) was 1-for-2.

Kuyaz and I, he added the caption. Photo by Dayes (@Cokeaddict)

Back to the Tweetup…

On each table was a piece of paper that included feedback on the event and a short quiz about Hockey Day in Canada.

Needless to say, I didn’t know a single answer on the test but wound of winning a prize, $25 St. Louis gift card, for ‘most creative answers’.

Mike managed to snap this photo as I was cheering for the Eller goal. Epic! Photo by Mike Milonow (@MikeMilonow)

When Lars Eller dangled Dion Phaneuf and undressed Reimer for the Habs fourth goal, we were pretty sure the Leafs would not be able to come back into the game in the third period.

During the second intermission our group sang happy birthday for former Montrealer Jaroslav Spacek, who was celebrating his 38th birthday.

There’s a video recording of it somewhere, you’ll have to ask @cokeaddict for it.

After filling up on nachos, wings, delicious drinks and plenty of high fives, hugs and photos the night came to an end and it was time to part ways.

A big thank you to @Kuyaz and @Cokeaddict for putting on a fabulous event. I can’t wait for the next one!

Next on my bucket list is to attend a Tweetup in Montreal.

AHL Outdoor Classic

I’ve been to a lot of live hockey games in my life: NHL, AHL, OHL, NWHL, CWHL, University etc… but I had never experience an outdoor game before, until this past weekend.

With the AHL Outdoor Classic taking place less than 100 km from my house, in Hamilton, I jumped at the chance to watch future NHL stars duke it out, outdoors, in the middle of January.

This is Canada, eh.

Everything about the entire experience, from purchasing tickets to the final buzzer, was above my expectations.

I purchased my tickets online, where I was able to pick my seats from the section, to the aisle to the exact seat numbers I wanted. (In the end I wound up sitting two rows, in the same seat numbers, in front of fellow Tweeter @thirtyonesaves).

The ticket prices were outstanding, $80 per person, for great seats AND that deal came with tickets to the PepsiCo Outdoor NHL Alumni Game Friday night between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs and tickets for the AHL Outdoor Classic Saturday afternoon with the Hamilton Bulldogs hosting the Toronto Marlies at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

In the days leading up to the event I was a bit apprehensive because of the strange weather we’ve been getting around here lately, but it turned out to be the most beautiful weekend possible for outdoor hockey!

A beautiful January night for an outdoor NHL Alumni game

I had never been to an NHL Alumni game before either and wasn’t sure what to except from ex NHLers, especially when some people on Twitter said they’d never waste money on that, but I was actually blown away.

Sure, it was much slower than an NHL game but damn, most of those guys can still outplay me, that’s for sure!

Cujo was absolutely brilliant for the Leafs, some fans even went as far as to say he played better in the outdoor game than he did his last few seasons in the NHL!

During the second half of the NHL Alumni Game, Kraig Nienhuis left the Leafs bench and climbed on stage, in full equipment, to rock the crowd with his rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.

He wound up playing the tune again on Saturday for the record-setting crowd of 20, 565 fans at the AHL Outdoor Classic.

Before the game and between periods the ex NHL players signed autographs for fans waiting along the pathway to the dressing rooms.

It was funny how OLD some of those guys look now!

It wouldn't be an outdoor hockey game in Canada in January without a little snow.

The weather forecasters called for snow flurries at 9 p.m. and low and behold they were actually right, as flurries started coming down at 8:56, delighting the snow flake loving kid in me.

What I loved the most about this setting was how friendly the fans were – Habs and Leafs fans alike.

I was surrounded by Leafs fans and they chimed a few cracks at me here and there but they took the comebacks in great stride.

There were even a few people sporting Boston Bruins apparel -puke- that I was joking around with.

Normally the animosity between these fan bases is pretty high in other settings, so it was a welcoming surprise to share some good laughs with them.

Picturesque weather conditions for the first AHL Outdoor Classic in Canada

I couldn’t have asked for more picture-perfect weather for Saturday’s AHL game. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Hamilton came out flying, scoring less than 30 seconds in the game which led to an ensuing fight (which Hamilton won).

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs went on to lose 7-2.

The crowd kept cheering until the end though, not like the boos you would typically hear ringing through the Bell Centre.

If you didn’t have a chance to watch the live feed on Sportsnet, here is the game in six minutes from the NHL Videocenter.

You can find more photos of the game on the Facebook Page for the 2012 AHL Outdoor Classic presented by Molson.

Overall, it was a great experience that I would do over in a heart beat (although, I can’t see myself paying the $200+ ticket price for the NHL Outdoor Classic).

This guy made my night!

At Friday’s game there was a Habs fan sitting in front of us with a Cammalleri jersey on. He had taped over the name bar and wrote “GM is an idiot”.

I wound up posting the picture to Twitter and it was still getting retweets more than 24 hours later.

Amazing!

During the NHL Alumni game, one of the Hamilton announcers interviewed George Laraque at the Montreal bench regarding the coach, Guy Lafleur.

After telling the reporter what a great coach Guy was behind the bench, he threw a little jab at the Quebecois media with a sly grin on his face.

“He’s great…and he can speak French”

The entire stadium roared with laughter and the play-by-play announcers had a field day!

Oh, George…you funny man, you.

Here are a few other photos I took with my iPhone…sorry for the quality.

Canadiens Alumni lining up for the national anthem

Alumni players walking to the dressing room between periods

Rocking my bleu-blanc-rouge touque and Josh Gorges t-shirt before the game