I had the pleasure of attending my first Grand Rapids Griffins games on Friday and Saturday. Since it was my first AHL game I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but the details weren’t that important… I was going to watch live HOCKEY. I commend the Griffins for making the entire game experience fun and enjoyable. The Red Wings games I’ve been to are fun and I enjoy myself, but the Griffins (and from what I can tell other AHL teams as well) really have fun with the pregame, intermission and commercial break activities. There was a T-shirt shooting machine gun, sandwich and hot dog cannons, goodies parachuting from the rafters and raining down like confetti, and the mascots came onto the ice riding in the Griff Mobile and doing donuts and having a good time.
Did I mention they shot hot dogs and sandwiches out of cannons?
I have a lot of fun and enjoy myself at Red Wings games (stupid lockout) but I honestly had more fun taking in a weekend of Griffins games. I met some friends down there and watched the games with them, good company and Hockey discussions while watching live Hockey added to the experience. Friday night was $1 hot dog and $1 beer night (I'm starting a petition to change the name to Larry Murphy Night) and after the game they opened up the rink and we got to skate around for close to an hour. This is an awesome event and I give kudos to the Griffins for doing it. How cool is it that I can say I learned to do crossovers on the Griffins ice at Van Andel Arena? It’s pretty darn cool.
Almost as cool as these two... almost.
Saturday night after the game, the Griffins had 3 players available for autographs- yeah for adding to my signed puck collection! I was surprised there weren’t more people taking advantage of both the open skate and opportunity to get autographs, but as someone who did take advantage of both; it was nice that there weren’t that many people involved. This was my first AHL game and even though the Griffins lost both nights (3-2 Friday and 4-3 SO Saturday) I still had an absolute blast. If you can get to any AHL games, I highly recommend you do so; it’s relatively cheap, a lot of fun, and it’s Hockey. I will definitely be attending more Griffins games this year regardless of what the NHL and NHLPA do (or don’t do).
At least we still have an opportunity to watch Goose in action.
Because of the NHL lockout, other Hockey leagues, clubs, and teams have benefited from increased awareness and interest. I sincerely hope that the increased interest in the AHL remains higher, even when we have NHL Hockey again. I want Hockey to thrive anywhere and everywhere and I want as many people as possible to watch, enjoy, play and be addicted to Hockey. I would love to see some AHL games broadcast on TV, and maybe the increased awareness and demand will help the process along. In the meantime, you can listen to theGriffins for free here and the AHL offers online streaming video packages or single game access here. I encourage everyone to support Hockey at any level they can. I had already planned to attend a few Griffins games, even before the lockout started, but the lack of NHL Hockey gave me extra motivation to do so. I’m extremely glad I did and the AHL will be have larger part of my Hockey life going forward. Go Hockey! Go Griffins!
Go ahead, puff your cheeks out and give it your best shot.
Don't get shut out of Hockey, get off your 5 hole and check out some other opportunities.
Ok, I'm done now... I swear.