My aunt and uncle live in Phoenix. My uncle's family is from Minnesota so for baseball we root for the same team. His family left Minnesota before the Wild era so when it comes to hockey his allegiance falls to the local team, the Coyotes. I'd been out to Phoenix to see the Wild play here before with less than stellar results (Lats had a hat trick and Wild still lost). The Wild record in the desert hasn't been great, but when Frontier dropped their fares and Delta responded in kind, I couldn't resist making the trip. The Wild made me proud (and shushed the good-natured, but merciless teasing from my uncle).
I've done a few fan posts for baseball pictures but never for hockey. For those of you who haven't seen my baseball posts, let me preface this by noting I'm not a professional photographer. I use a 14MP Lumix compact zoom camera and an 8MP cell phone camera. DSLR's won't fit in my purse. I posted everything I took at Flickr (good, bad and blurry), but see some of my favorites after the jump.
Before and After:
We all love to talk about the weather. There was snow everywhere as we took off from MSP. Interesting contrast to the view from the patio Saturday morning. It's been mid to high 60's during the trip and while it's really really nice, it's not snow and I still love my snow.
Phoenix doesn't get snow, but they do get to have In-N-Out whenever they want. If you've never had it, I recommend heading west.
Warmup with Mikko:
A bonus of being at an away game 1200 miles from home is that it's really easy to get close to the glass during warmups. Mikko and team were very focused. Wellman was really the only player I saw acknowledge anyone outside the glass. A 10-12 year old boy was watching from the board and Casey snapped a puck into the glass right at his face. The kids reaction was cute. As they left the ice, they fist bumped the youngins that were hanging around the tunnel.
Yes, there were really that many empty seats. It's astounding. It was $1 beer, pop, and hot dog night on a Saturday night and the Yotes defend twice zone was this empty. It's heartbreaking. They didn't play great against the Wild, but they were a first place division team going into the night playing the first place team in the NHL, and they still didn't scare up 11K for attendance. It's a competitive team, in a great building, with a great setting (there are fountains outside!!!) but Glendale is not exactly as close as downtown St Paul, so the locals tell me they just don't draw the crowds. If you live in Phoenix and happen to read this, get out and go to a game.
The captain and his goalie:
Mikko was at the end of the congratulations line. Hackett was headed back toward the tunnel but happened to look back. Hackett was cute in warmups. I missed a great shot of him with a huge grin that was visible even through his mask. Our seats were about 5 rows up on the goal line on the goal Backstrom defended twice. It was a pleasure to watch him. My usual seats at the X are on the Wild attack-twice end so I don't always get to appreciate exactly how awesome he can be.
The full set of pictures is at Flickr. I had a great time in the desert with a team that's made me fall in love with them all over again. Here are the 3 stars from the game in pictures (all selected by AZ media):