Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Partying with the Bears

Note: This blog post is pretty much purely fluff.  I just wanted to share my experience of the Bears Cup Celebration and some of the funny things that happened.  Also, I'm barely conscious due to lack of sleep from this very event.

After watching the thrilling conclusion of the Calder Cup Finals on Monday night, after the tears of happiness subsided, news came out that the party would be Tuesday night, 7-10pm.  In my stupor, I suddenly thought, "I have to be in Hershey tomorrow!"  So I reserved a Zipcar, printed out directions, and went to bed thinking thoughts of that shiny Calder Cup being passed around the ice of the Giant Center.

The problem?  I work a 9-5 job and wouldn't be able to leave early.  The second the clock hit 5pm on Tuesday, I bolted out of the office.  Three hours of infuriating traffic and some speeding later, I arrived at the Giant Center around 8pm (free parking when it's usually $7? BONUS!)  I entered the floor and found a swarm of people (as I learned later, estimated to be about 5,000) on the covered ice surface.  I was able to track down my friend Kathryn, waiting for Karl Alzner's autograph.  I'd missed the presentation/speech part, but was just in time for the autographs.  I slid into line with Kathryn.

Alzner, much to my dismay, had shaved completely, and there was no trace left of the once-glorious lumberjack beard.


And *sob* After:

Next stop for me?  Cody Eakin.  A short line led to a very excited me nabbing a picture with the flame-haired Canadian.  But here's him with a small child.

I was continuing to pass by Michal Neuvirth's table (his line was too long for me to wait in) and he is one of the guys who chose to keep his stunna shades on.  Probably because his eyes were glazed over from how much he'd had to drink.

Steve Pinizzotto and Alexandre Giroux were sharing a table, and it was the next place I headed.  I already have Giroux's autograph (courtesy of last year's Caps Convention), so waited in the line for Pinner.  While some guys like Roo and Bryan Helmer opted for shaving their playoff beards into handlebar mustaches...

Pinner decided to go... a different route...

Yes, those will be stripes shaved into Pinner's beard.

I decided that with that look, Pinner strongly resembled a late-1990s AJ McLean, of Backstreet Boys fame:

Next... the time had come... for Keith Aucoin.  A shockingly short line meant I thankfully didn't have much time to panic, though by the time I got to him I was still shaking like a leaf.  He happily signed my jersey, which features his name and number, and I had enough time to snag a picture with him.  One of the best quotes of the night was courtesy of Coiner.  I wanted Coiner to sign on his numbers on the back of my jersey (the numbers are brown so a black Sharpie would not have worked), so Coiner reached over to grab the silver pen in front of tablemate Andrew Gordon.  It had run dry (thankfully I had bought silver Sharpies that day).  As I dug the pen out of my purse, Aucoin jokingly said of his linemate:
"I can't count on him for anything!"  
As with Alzner, Aucoin also shaved off the glory of his playoff, um, mutton chops.

Tablemate Andrew Gordon had a significantly longer line.  We soon found out why.  Gordo was having a conversation with everyone.  By the time I got to him, he confessed to me that he really had to go to the bathroom (being as the guys had been drinking, several of them kept hopping over the boards and sprinting off to use the restroom).  I found it hilarious that Gordo decided to share the status of his bladder with me.

By that time, there wasn't a whole lot of time left in the party.  I sprinted to Chris Bourque's line, who was trying to drive people from his long line into tablemate Simon Ferguson's nonexistent line (ribbing Ferguson in the process).  Bourque was sporting a Red Sox shirt and his MVP trophy was sitting on the table in front of him.  Bourque also was gracious enough to take a picture with me.

There were about 10 minutes left, and I noticed that Zach Miskovic had no line.  Signed and picture (and absolutely kicking myself for not chatting with him about growing up in the Chicago suburbs, as both of us did).  Braden Holtby's line was looking less than 10 minutes long.  Signed and picture.  I resisted asking him to be a part of my "Why Does He Do That?" feature regarding the famed "Holtbyisms."

After autographs were over, I made my first visit to the Bear's Den with tweeps Natalie (who shared her celebration experience with The Hockey Chronicles) and Kim, then hit the road, and finally got home around 2:15am.  It was a stellar evening, and well worth the less-than-5-hours of sleep.  Congratulations to the Hershey Bears, Calder Cup Champions for the 11th time.

(Autographs are, clockwise from the top left corner, Grant McNeill, Karl Alzner, Cody Eakin, Chris Bourque, Zach Miskovic, Andrew Gordon, Braden Holtby, Boyd Kane, and Steve Pinizzotto. And of course the back features Keith Aucoin.)

Final Note: Unless otherwise noted, all photographs in this post were taken by me and are my property.

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