Field Trippin': Lowell vs. Hartford at Prudential Center

Lowell_devils_2006-07_medium

via www.hockeydb.com

As Ranger General Manager Glenn Sather, reeking of beer or aftershave, was putting on a tie while sucking on a cigar, it became clear to me that this was no ordinary scrimmage game.

Okay, perhaps that's a tad too cinematic-sounding.  But that did happen.  It's one of the few humorous Glenn Sather stories that have emerged from yesterday's free scrimmage the Devils put on between their AHL franchise in Lowell and the Rangers' minor-league affiliate in Hartford.  The two teams are going to play twice at The Rock later this season, so perhaps this was a way to get the teams/fans used to seeing them on that rink.  Or, more likely, they wanted to keep the big team practicing on the practice rink while the kids got one last taste of the show before heading to Massachusets with Johnny Mac.

So, I thought it'd be fun.  I have a 12-4PM break between classes, and it's a 30-minute drive from school to Newark, so I felt it'd be a good way to see some prospects and explore what's new around the arena.

The main thing to point out about this game: it wasn't the best.  It had all the energy of a brain fart.  Both teams seemed tired, took bad penalties, and made tons of lazy plays.  Particularly the defensemen had a penchant for passing and skating with the puck up the middle of the ice in their own zone.

It's hard to say who really impressed me, though Matt Halischuk showed some signs of life, and Nathan Perkovich's goal was a wicked slapper.  It was also equally a shame to find out he'd have to leave the game after getting hit in the foot with a shot.  Gerald Coleman was also quite solid in goal.  We left before the third period, but here are some of the things we noticed on our trip to the Rock.  You can check out similar stuff in Fischer's recap of the STH Barbecue.  For now, on to the bullet points!

 

  • Some of the Devils/Rangers luminaries hanging around the concourse (as well as comments about any conversations I had with them in parenthesis): Lou Lamoriello, Larry Robinson, Jacques Caron, Chris Terreri, Grant Marshall (very friendly), Scott Stevens (too scared to speak to him), Mark Messier, Glenn Sather, John Tortorella (another really nice guy, had a big smile), Mike Sullivan, Chico Resch (Extremely Chico-y.  Friendly and eating), Tom Gulitti, Rich Chere, Sherry Ross (very nice, seeing Springsteen four times this fall) and I'm sure more that I am forgetting.
  • The hockey player statue outside the rock is smaller than I thought it would be.  It's mesmerizing to look at though, and I hope it becomes a great place for people to meet up before the game.  Hopefully, Devils fans and Flyer fans can start a rivalry between the hockey player and the 'Rocky' statue.
  • Checked out Brick City Coffee Co. which is on the bottom floor of the parking complex next to the practice rink.  Had the most delicious brownie I've had in years.  It's close to the Starbucks range in pricing, but if you're looking for some caffeine to perk up that drive home from Newark, it's closer than any Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks in the area.
  • The PNC Bank on the $10 ticket line side of the arena (as you'll find out soon enough, we're big proponents of the $10 ticket line) is now open.  The Devils are slowly, but surely creating a cool little complex of businesses around them.
  • A visit to the Devils' Den is a must-do for any trip to the Prudential Center.  Not too much new stuff, but I noticed that all the "Chico Eats" t-shirts now feature a replica autograph from the man himself.  I feel like I should get my money back, or at least a new shirt.  Another noticeable thing: with Brian Gionta gone, the Devils have lost one of the team's personalized t-shirt players.  Who replaced him?  Funny enough, it wasn't Brendan Shanahan or Travis Zajac or Paul Martin (all three of which should have t-shirts) but David Clarkson.  How popular is he with the fanbase that he now has his shirts next to Parise, Brodeur, Langenbrunner and Elias?
Overall, this was a fun trip to the Prudential Center (ever since it opened, we've literally found any excuse to go to the building) and I enjoyed spending time hobnobbing with Devils royalty, and watching some of the Devils future (hopefully) play the Rangers futures. I won't be going to the Devils-Phantoms scrimmage at the Mini-Rock on Saturday, but I'd bet it'll be packed, considering there were about 100 fans on a Wednesday afternoon for this one.  It's another example of the Devils continuing to improve their fan relations dep't. 
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