After a full day of work meetings in Ottawa, we made our way to Scotiabank Place in Kanata for the NHL game between the visiting New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
I had been looking forward to the game for a couple of months although I was having trouble deciding whether or not to wear my Canucks jersey to the game. I wore my Canucks jersey four years ago to a Phoenix-Calgary game in Calgary and escaped unscathed. So I took my dilemma to Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging to generate some discussion and the majority of those who replied suggested not to wear the jersey. Still wanting to represent the blue and green somehow, I decided on my Canucks sweatshirt. And within my first two minutes of entering the arena, I had my first Roberto Luongo sighting.
I got to my seat just in time for puck drop and I noticed right away just how similar the view was to my regular season seats at Rogers Arena. See for yourself.
I also noticed that we’d be watching the battle of the backups: Ben Bishop was making his home debut for the Senators while Ranger Henrik Lundqvist was given the night off paving the way for Martin Biron. The first period was relatively unexciting with the Senators heading into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Rangers and Biron, the two Senators goals came on only four shots. Also during the first, I noticed something peculiar about the ice-cleaning crew: they were all men (a far cry from the attractive women who clean the ice in Vancouver). And they had helmets on. Safety first I guess!
The scoreless second period was rather dull as well, and somehow the Senators managed to muster up even less shots on goal, ending the period with three shots for a total of seven through 40 minutes. In fact, the highlight of the period was yelling at the Ottawa mascot “Sparty” as I tried to decipher just what exactly he was.
Thankfully, the third period picked up a little bit, including a goal from New Westminster native Kyle Turris. Then, with just a few minutes left to play, the PA announcer told us that if the Senators scored in the final minute of regulation, then every one of the 18,854 people in attendance would receive a free Wendy’s Baconator. With the score at 3-1 for Ottawa at the time of the announcements, we began licking our chops literally and figuratively.
Then, it happened. On an icing call against the Senators, Rangers coach John Tortorella pulled Biron out of the net with a full 2:37 left on the clock. Our anticipation turned into fear as we realized that our only hope of winning the burger would be if New York scored to pull within one or if Ottawa somehow missed the empty net for a minute and a half.
Alas, our fears were confirmed with Jason Spezza put the puck in the empty net with 1:27 remaining making the score 4-1 Senators. Biron came out to finish off the game and the rest was history, despite our desperate chants of “Burger! Burger!”
We were only 27 seconds away from a free burger. At an annual salary of $8,000,000, Jason Spezza can have a Baconator whenever he pleases. In fact, he could have bought everyone in the arena the burger and it would have cost him only 0.943% of his annual salary. That’s right: not even 1%! But no. He chose to do the selfish thing and score too early, depriving his faithful fans of a delicious and unexpected meal.
We dropped some people off at the hotel and then Gerard and I headed to a nearby pub to catch the third period of the Canucks game against the Winnipeg Jets. It was an exciting game to watch (even on TV) and by all accounts it sounds like it was a lot of fun in Rogers Arena. We had some fun on our own, chatting with some Westjet employees from Vancouver and avoiding the rowdy Winnipeg Jets fans on the other side of the room. And, because of Jason Spezza, we had to order some food to fill our empty stomachs.