Right at Home – My experience going to an NHL game in the center of the hockey universe.

The quiet just before the storm at the Canadian Tire Centre. A truly electrifying building.

The quiet just before the storm at the Canadian Tire Centre. A truly electrifying building.

When I first heard about the possibility of going to Ottawa and experiencing Canada’s capital on a trip sponsored by the University of Maine’s Canadian-American Centre, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity. I was primarily drawn in by, as my educators would probably hope, the chance to get to experience Canada’s cultural duality of Anglophone and Francophone influences (Ottawa being the best place to do that. After all: Right across the river is Quebec!). But me being raised the way I was by the people I was caused one particular thing to be stuck in the back of my head the whole time. I mean, how could it not?

When I first heard from Craig, the centre’s accounting support specialist, about a chance to get cheap tickets off of StubHub for the game on the night of Friday, October 25th for the Senators game against the Ducks, my heart skipped a beat. The chance to see my favorite sport from before I could walk in person in the best, most exciting environment possible – I couldn’t believe it. I took the initiative right away. And I must say, being in the nosebleeds – Definitely worth it. This was where the true fans were sitting – From the kids participating in profane chants at their own team’s expense (apparently, despite the Sens’ winning record, playing the opposition tight for the whole sixty minutes, and losing only 2-1, they still qualify for a “We suck!” after the organist finishes playing) to the somewhat coarse  and ferociously dedicated but seemingly friendly French young man sitting with his girlfriend behind me, everything in that upper balcony just oozed dedication and passion. The same sights and sounds can be found at the TD Garden – but being there, in the moment, in this place – It just gave me a special kind of chills. The same kind that I get when, say, watching highlights from the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run or their epic Game 7 comeback against the Leafs. All these sensations in a regular season game – It’s just unbelievable. A time that I’ll never forget. My father raised me to pursue new adventures, new experiences. He spent a considerable amount of time in Canada, having completed his undergrad in Nova Scotia, but he never went to an NHL game in the country – Even while living in Toronto. He said that this is only the beginning for me… If that’s the case, I wonder what’s next, because this felt like taking the view from the top of Mount McKinley.

It’s okay to plan for the future. But the key to happiness is not hoping for instant gratification in the achievement of long term goals. It’s to treat every day as a special, unique gift.

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