Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Rewind: Black (n' Gold) Friday at Consol Energy Center

On Black Friday 2010 I was fortunate enough to unexpectedly receive a ticket to the Pens game against the Ottawa Senators. Supremely pumped to visit the Consol Energy Center for the first time and to see the Pens (and our beloved and recently departed Gonchar) up close from my amazing seat in the First Niagara Club Level, I felt a level of status I had only dreamt of previously.

Black (n' Gold) Friday 2009 was spent at the lovely Nassau Coliseum watching the Pens play the Islanders.  Here's hoping for a third consecutive Black (n' Gold) Friday in 2011!!!

The Hill District area to the rear of the CEC is beautiful.  There are many old buildings that have been interestingly adapted over the decades, surrounded by flat, empty, terrace-like yards that used to have houses on them.  As seen in the above shot, the CEC makes for a nice transition between such relatively small neighborhood buildings in the foreground and the city's notable skyscrapers in the back ground.

I was pretty impressed with this translucent, digital-print "brick-wall" privacy tarp that covers the chain link fences that enclose the CEC's loading zone in the rear of the building.  If you look closely at the second picture, you can see the fence through the bricks.  Awesome! and definitely not dorky, right!?  Now you know why I'm a painter.

On the way in I stopped for one of those obligatory portraits with the larger-than-life digital representation of Sidney Crosby... (note that 'Destiny' flows from his hockey stick and down the side of the building in the form of a golden rod of electricity!)

...and a life-sized Malkin who stared lovingly into my eyes, if only for an imaginary moment 

Since it was Black Friday, people were getting their shop on big time.  

Traipsing through the pro shop felt like more of a dazed, tryptophan-induced herding than an active pursuit.  I spotted these officially licensed hats which looked MEGA bootleg:

The food at the CEC is upscale for a sports arena.   There's sushi and better than average sandwich offerings, including a Philly cheese steak disguised as an egg roll.  Even the unbranded food was presented in a very particular, classed-up manner.  The cheese steak egg roll is the bottom-most food item in the below picture.

General fashion impression: I've never seen so many licensed Pens jerseys in my life!  It was as if someone was handing them out at the door.  It was kind of like being in New York because everyone was wearing black.  Astounding contrast to the marked absence of official hockey gear I remember from childhood.  People generally wore whatever Steelers or Pirates gear they already had.  A lot has changed in 20 years.  

Quite noticeably, there were zero Pens jerseys queuing for Tim Hortons, the arena's only Canadian establishment, which I took as proof positive that there were lots of Canadians in attendance, all of whom were in line and hungry for donuts.  Makes sense, Eh?, given that they must have been much hungrier than all the Americans still nursing their Thanksgiving indulgences.  Yoi!

Our seats were about 15 rows up from the visitor's bench, so we were fortunate enough to witness a verbal incursion between Chris Neil and a member of the crowd.  The guy (wearing the red-billed Pirates hat in the image below) must have really gotten under Neil's skin because they furiously yelled back and forth for several minutes.  I was too astounded to document the fight (apologies!).  Soon after his inappropriate verbal fight, Neil picked a fight with Fleury, who played a hell of a game.  To make a long story short: Pens 2, Ottawa 1, final score.

Thank you and congratulations to Blanca and Ignacio!  Here's to 33 more happy years!

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