About FlyerSkater

FlyerSkater is a 40 something female who is an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan and former journalist who is thrilled to be writing about her favorite sport.

Player Development’s Main Ingredient Is Patience

.Highly touted prospects Samuel Morin, Shane Gostisbehere, and Travis Sanheim made big impressions in the Flyers’ pre-season training camp.  Though it seemed obvious that recent draft pick Sanheim would go back to his junior club before the NHL season began, many fans expected that Morin and/or Gostisbehere would stick with the big club, at least for a little while.  But before the regular season began, Morin was sent back to his junior club (he is not allowed to play in the AHL because he is not yet 20 years old) and Gostisbehere was sent to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  It is no secret that the Flyers desperately need help on defense, and Morin and Gostisbehere would likely have made an immediate impact in the NHL.  But new Flyers GM Ron Hextall has made it clear that he believes in being patient with young prospects and not rushing them to the NHL.

One Flyers fan on social media had an excellent analogy for these prospects who look NHL-ready but probably are not.  The fan said that the prospects were like cookies being baked in an oven.  They look ready and smell ready, but when you take them out of the oven and bite into them, you realize that they needed another five minutes in the oven.

Unfortunately for Morin, that oven has recently proved to be very hot.  He was struck in the mouth by a puck this week during play with his junior club and will be out 4-5 weeks.  Several fans commented that if Morin would have remained with the Flyers, the injury would not have occurred.  But there is certainly no way to know that.  it is a dangerous sport at any level.

My opinion is that Flyers fans have to trust the process and give these prospects enough time to develop, even if it means the Flyers defense suffers for a year or so.  With any luck, the Flyers will make the playoffs next spring, and in the lineup with be two of the most promising young defensemen the league has seen in quite a while.

Don’t Stop Believing

My husband and I are die hard Philadelphia Flyers fans living in Northern Virginia. On Saturday we made our first trip of the 2014-15 season to Philly to see the Flyers play their second home game of the season.  My husband came by his Flyers fandom naturally, having been born and bred north of Philly, living and breathing Philly sports since birth.  He introduced me to Flyers hockey several years ago and I fell hard.  I quickly learned that being a Philly sports fan means plenty of passion….and plenty of heartbreak.  Philly hockey fans are incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated, but also happy to explain how empty the proverbial glass really is.   While I try to remain positive about the Flyers and maintain my usual “glass half full” mentality, the bad news just seems to keep coming as things this season have picked up right where last season left off.

The Flyers made the 2014 playoffs and went seven games in round one with the always strong New York Rangers, losing the series when they easily could have won. But it was amazing that they made the playoff at all after starting the season with a 1-7 record and getting a new coach after losing their first three games.  Now here we were at the beginning of the 2014-15 season and the Flyers were 0-2 and getting ready to face a strong Montreal Canadiens team.  I had been looking forward to this game for months.  It had been a long, hockey-less summer (with the exception of the NHL Draft in Philly, which we attended), and I was thrilled that hockey was back.  In our second year as partial season ticket holders, we had secured seats in the lower bowl of the arena and I was happy at the thought of watching the games from near-ice view after last season’s in-the-rafters seats.

The game started out like a dream, with the Flyers dominating the Canadiens and scoring three unanswered goals by the end of the second period. New alternate captain Wayne Simmonds was on fire as usual, scoring two of those goals.  But like the Flyers of last year, it all suddenly began to unravel.  The weak Flyers defense caved as the Canadiens put on a shooting clinic at the goal in front of us.  Flyers backup goal tender Ray Emery was having an amazing game full of many near-impossible saves, but even he couldn’t keep the puck out of the net with this kind of barrage and little help from the defense.

In a flash the score was 3-2 with about seven minutes left in the game and it was time for us to leave to start the long drive back to Virginia. As we exited the arena, the Canadiens tied the game.  It was probably a good thing that we left, because it was likely that the overly dramatic Canadiens fans sitting in front of us were now being berated by very angry Flyers fan.  And, as fired up as I had been during the game, there was no guarantee that I would not have participated in such a scene. The situation looked bleak because the Flyers never do well in shootouts.  And this one was no different.   I looked at my phone in dismay as the score read 4-3 Canadiens.

The one point earned by the Flyers for the tie was no consolation. I was so sad and angry.  I said to my husband:  “This is the only sports team I care anything about.  I can’t take it.  How do you blow a 3-0 lead in the third period at home?!”  He responded that everyone was saying this was a throw-away year (as the Flyers wait for their corps of young, talented defensemen to be ready to play in the NHL).  My response was:  “Well that doesn’t give you the excuse to blow a three-goal lead!”  I took a deep breath and reminded myself that it was still October.  There was so much hockey left.  Plenty of time for the Flyers to turn it around and start winning….and plenty of time for them to keep breaking my heart.  But I keep believing in the former…because that’s what being a fan is all about.

Hockey in Vegas and No Ice Girls

With the 2014-15 NHL season quickly approaching, this week brought several bits of news regarding the sport’s future. Rumors were flying that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has promised that there will be NHL expansion during the next few years. The city that is getting a lot of buzz as a potential site for a new NHL franchise is Las Vegas. My first reaction was, well why not? Then I thought about it and gave the idea a big thumbs down. And here’s why: As I have pointed out before, the NHL does not seem to know that their product can be too much of a good thing. There are already 30 teams, and some of them struggle financially, especially in southern cities like Phoenix and Nashville. Yet the NHL is apparently discussing putting another NHL team in the desert in a city that already has plenty of other attractions to vie for the attention of potential hockey fans.

I have only been to Las Vegas twice, and I cannot say that I have done any sort of research on the city’s population, its number of visitors per year, or their demographics. However, I heard a logical prediction on SiriusXM NHL Radio Network recently that sounded about right. The talk show hosts were predicting that since many Las Vegas residents probably work at night (given the vibrant Las Vegas night life and its related employment), these residents would not be able to attend evening hockey games on a regular basis. The other point made was that even if a Las Vegas NHL team could draw hometown fans, most of the game attendees would likely be tourists who are there to see “their’ team play against the home team. (I could easily see my husband and I planning a winter Las Vegas getaway around when the Flyers are playing there.) However, I don’t think that the NHL wants to fill a new arena with opponents’ fans. They want to build a strong home fan base and sell season tickets and luxury boxes to Las Vegas residents. We will see what happens, but I could see a Seattle or a Quebec City being a much more viable option for an expansion team. Or, better yet, maybe the NHL should just leave things as they are and avoid over-saturating the market and creating too much of a good thing.

The other piece of news that came out this week involved a Flyers home-game future without the Flyers ice girls. Though it has not yet been officially confirmed by the Flyers organization, apparently the ice girls have been nixed. I am sure many male Flyers fans out there are disappointed. Personally, as a female Flyers fan, I could care less either way. I always viewed the ice girls for what they were: attractive young women wearing very little clothing who skate around (very well I might add) cleaning the ice during breaks from play. My feeling always was that at least they were doing something versus just standing on the sidelines cheering.

Apparently, a recent article in the publication Mother Jones quoted former ice girls from various NHL teams (including the Flyers) complaining about poor working conditions and meager pay. I read the article and honestly I thought it was a bit ridiculous. Apparently, the girls were not allowed anywhere near NHL players socially (players walk into restaurant–ice girls box up their dinners and run); the girls were not allowed to eat in public while working, even when they were starving; and the girls got cold standing at arena doors greeting fans but were not allowed to put on their jackets. Sorry if I don’t shed a tear here, but no one forced them to sign up to be ice girls. And I would imagine that many current and former ice girls would say that it is a great experience that many girls would give anything to try.

I am not sure what the motive is behind the Flyers deciding to drop the ice girls. It is probably an effort to stay ahead of bad publicity (and perhaps law suits) that are likely to follow the Mother Jones article.  I just hope that this move is not some grand attempt to appeal to female hockey fans. Honestly, I cannot imagine a female fan being turned off to hockey because of the ice girls. I imagine that most female hockey fans either admire them or ignore them (or, like me, a little of both). I believe that the best way that the NHL can appeal to female fans is to treat us like any other fans. We love the game, know the game, love to see the game in person….and we do not want to wear pink jerseys.

I cannot wait for the NHL season to start and I am excited about the NHL’s future. Sometimes change is good. So, who knows, maybe hockey in Vegas and no ice girls is in hockey’s future.

Draft Day

As soon as I heard that the 2014 NHL Draft was going to be held in Philly, I knew I had to be there.  The free tickets to the draft were in demand, but since we are Flyers season ticket holders, my husband and I were able to secure a few.  It was strange walking into Wells Fargo Center that Friday evening and not seeing the familiar sheet of ice.  Instead, the floor was filled with neatly-aligned tables while the rest of the arena was dimly lit in purple.  The floor soon filled with men in black suits.  (I was disappointed to see only a few women walking around the arena floor and press row.)  It was exciting being at my first league event, and it was interesting seeing fans of other NHL teams wearing their favorite teams’ jerseys.

Things were relatively calm until NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took the stage.  Let the booing begin!  The boos were deafening and did not stop throughout his entire introduction, including the part where he was thanking Philadelphia for being such a good draft host.  I know….booing Mr. Bettman is a tradition and even he expects it.   And he really should not be surprised:  three lockouts during his 21-year tenure are nothing to be proud of.  However, one cannot deny that the NHL has seen major growth in popularity and revenues during his time as commissioner.   During the roll call — when a representative at each team’s table announces who will be making that team’s draft picks — each team name announcement was following by a loud “sucks!” from the crowd.   I know that this is a Flyers fans “thing” that happens at every Flyers home game.  I do not participate but I guess I “get it.”  I think most people see it as a sign of how passionate Flyers fans are about their team.  But this was not a Flyers game, it was an NHL event that was hosted by the Flyers.  I was a bit embarrassed to be a Flyers fan due to, in my opinion, boos that lasted way too long, and interruptions to the roll call that were unnecessary.  I am a Flyers fan first, but I am also an NHL fan.  I know….Philly sports fans have a reputation to uphold….snowballs and Santa Clause and all.  But I think that one can show passion for one’s team without being rude.

The atmosphere was electric as the Florida Panthers were on the clock to make the first draft pick of the night.  There had been rumors all week that new Flyers GM Ron Hextall was going to make a splash by trading up (from number 17) for the first pick.  But that trade never materialized and Florida made the first pick by selecting Canadian defenseman Aaron Ekblad.  (Apparently the Flyers and the Panthers were working on a deal.  Reportedly, the Panthers wanted Wayne Simmonds but, thank goodness, Hextall was unwilling to include him in the deal.)  I watched the draft on TV last year, but being there in person was very exciting.  I especially enjoyed seeing each team’s promotional video that was played during the three minutes each team had to come to the podium and make its selection.  Most of the vidoes were excellent, and the one for the Oilers actually made me want to visit Edmonton and attend an Oilers game(!)  It was great to be there for the beginning of professional hockey careers for these young men.  I know the stats…most of them will never skate on NHL ice, and even if they do it won’t happen for years.  But still, this night represented quite an accomplishment for them.  I noticed the facial expression of one of the prospect’s mothers as his name was called and he hugged her.  She expressed pride and relief, as if she was saying to herself, “All those years of driving him to hockey practice at 5 am finally paid off.”

Wells Fargo Center was buzzing by the time it got to the Flyers’ pick at number 17.  Hextall stepped to the podium accompanied by huge cheers from the crowd.  And then, in an instant, 18-year-old Travis Sanheim went from being a junior hockey defenseman to being a professional hockey player who will hopefully be a Philadelphia Flyer one day.  It was fun watching Sanheim, who like most of the other prospects is just a teenager, walk to the podium accompanied by the loud cheers of the many Flyers fans in attendance.  And, when he put on the Flyers jersey and shook hands with the Flyers brass, he became one of ours.  As he made the media rounds and met the Flyers’ management and scouts, he was suddenly a star.  Prior to the beginning of round two of the draft on Saturday morning, my husband and I ran into Sanheim, who was in his Flyers jersey walking around the Wells Fargo Center concourse signing autographs and meeting fans.  He signed our Hockey News prospects issue and I congratulated him and wished him luck.  Here’s hoping that he will be part of a home-grown Flyers defense that could be one of the best in the league in a few years.

Most of the picks in the first and second rounds were from Canada and Europe as expected.  However, I was very pleased to see so many picks from the US, especially the US National Team Development Program.  I later read that over 30 percent of the 2014 daft picks were American–one of the highest percentages ever in an NHL draft.

Attending the draft was a blast and I am so glad to have been there.  It was special to be part of the Flyers faithful there to welcome new members of the organization into the fold.  The Flyers are holding their development camp at their training facility in NJ this week and these new draft picks are there.  And so the story begins.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Let me preface this post by saying that I am huge hockey fan.  I love the sport and never grow tired of it.  But why is NHL hockey still being played in the middle of June?  On the East Coast, summer is in full force and most people are thinking about swimming in a pool of cool water on a hot, sunny day, not bundling up to go inside an arena and watch a game played on ice.  I am enjoying watching the Stanley Cup finals (Go Kings!) and maybe I would feel differently if my Flyers were still playing right now, but I am ready for this season to be over.  Let’s crown the Cup champion, get ready for the upcoming draft, then start getting excited about next season (which begins in a mere three months).

My theory is that the NHL does not understand the concept of “too much of a good thing.”  Take the Winter Classic as an example.  Playing an NHL game in the middle of winter on an outdoor rink in a football or baseball stadium was a brilliant idea.  And it was special….when there was only one Winter Classic game per season.  I was at the WC in Citizens Bank Park in Philly on January 2, 2012.  It was an amazing experience at such a festive time of year.  Now, I imagine that most fans barely blinked an eye as the NHL played five outdoor games during the 2013-14 season:  one Winter Classic game and four games during the Stadium Series.  My feeling is that too many outdoor games take away the novelty and make the games seem ordinary, unlike those first WC games that seemed so magical.

When if comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs, I have no problem with the number of teams that make the playoffs.  I say, keep the number of playoff rounds the same, but make the playoff series best-of-five instead of best-of-seven.  Other sports leagues (such as the NFL) have one-game playoffs, so does the NHL really need best-of-seven playoff series?  I am not claiming to have done any kind of real math here, but I would imagine that best-of-five instead of best-of-seven series would knock at least a few weeks off of the playoffs, having them perhaps end before the official beginning of summer.

But no matter how logical it seems (at least to me) that a shorter NHL season would be a better NHL season,  I know that this will never happen because of one thing: $$$.  The NHL knows that it has probably the most passionate and loyal fans in professional sports.  We may not be as numerous as NFL fans, but we love our teams, know our sport well, and are willing to pay lots of bucks to attend games and buy merchandise…over and over again.  I heard that some NHL fans discussed boycotting the first few NHL games played after the 2012-13 lockout was over, but I did not see evidence that attendance suffered at any of those first NHL games in 2013.  Why?  Because we are die hard fans of the sport no matter what and were out of our minds without hockey and could not wait to see the NHL play again.  I know that I would not have agreed to boycott that first Flyers game that year.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are amazing and one-of-a-kind.  The level of play and intensity could not be higher, and it seems (at least this year) that the team matchups have been very good and even.  I was at Game 3 (the Flyers’ first home game) of the Flyers/Rangers series this past April.  It was my first playoff game and it was an amazing experience after having supported the Flyers all season, wondering if they would even make the playoffs after their disappointing start to the season.  The Flyers lost that playoff game (and went on to lose the series), but it was a night to remember.  I have never heard Wells Fargo Center that loud….or seen it that orange.  But it seemed weird to be going to a hockey game on a sunny, 70-degree day.  And now it seems even more strange that the playoffs continue almost two months later.   I hope that the Kings take it in four so that I can focus on attending the draft and getting hyped up about the 2014-15 NHL season.

Blame It On The Jersey?

I used to not be superstitious about anything, much less sports.  But my husband has convinced me that being superstitious about your favorite sports teams might make sense.  Case in point:  Yesterday, the Flyers were visiting their division rival Washington Capitals in a Sunday afternoon game that was nationally televised.  Before leaving for lunch with a friend, I set up the DVR to record the game.  When I got home I checked the score on my phone and the Flyers were losing 4-2.  I was afraid to turn on the televised game for fear of jinxing the Flyers, but I kept an eye on the score via the internet.  To my pleasant surprise, the Flyers tied the game with two goals late in the third period, then went on to win in overtime on a goal by Vinny Lecavalier – giving him his 900th NHL point.   Quite the thrilling comeback indeed!

After the game ended I was excited to go back and watch the highlights on the DVR.  However, when I checked the recordings, the game was not there. I immediately knew what had happened:  my superstitious husband had erased it. When I asked him about it he defended his actions saying:  “Well, if I wouldn’t have stopped it, they probably would have lost 10-3.”   I wanted to be angry at him, but I couldn’t.  Because, I have learned that there may be something to this superstition thing.  In my husband’s case, there is no watching, recording, or checking in on Flyers games.  Because, when you do, something bad is bound to happen.

I also believe that superstition plays a role at games one attends. My husband and I like to stick to a routine when going to Flyers games:  arrive at Wells Fargo Center before the doors open, eat a cheese steak sandwich, and then head to our seats well before warm-ups start.  I have also decided that what I wear matters.  I usually wear my Chris Pronger jersey – my first (and favorite) hockey jersey.  However, when going to a recent game I decided to wear a Claude Giroux Winter Classic jersey.  The jersey is essentially mine by default.  Several years ago I ordered it for my husband for Christmas, thinking it would be the ultimate cool gift and a total surprise.  To my dismay (and surprise), the same day the jersey I ordered arrived, another Giroux Winter Classic jersey arrived, having been ordered by my husband for himself.   So, this particular Flyers game, I decided to wear “my” Giroux jersey.  Well, the Flyers lost the game and I vowed to never wear that jersey to a game again, even though I am a huge Giroux fan.  The next game, I wore my Pronger jersey and the Flyers won.

I know that I am not the only person who is superstitious about his or her favorite sports team.  I have heard other fans discuss this, and there is a popular beer commercial that explores fans’ good luck rituals, saying: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”  And, it is well publicized that many athletes are superstitious, especially when it comes to their game-day rituals.  But I say, if the Flyers lose when I am there, should I blame it on the jersey?

 

 

Heartbreaker/Stud

Sitting by the rink at a Flyers game is always a blast.  But this time brought a new element to the experience – sitting at the end of the rink where the Flyers warm up before the game.  My husband I got to our seats an hour before game time to find a group of girls (perhaps I should call them young ladies) in Flyers jerseys standing by the glass.  They were chattering about the Flyers and holding pink, heart-shaped signs that said “stud” on one side and “heartbreaker” on the other.   My first thought was, wow that’s gutsy (and a bit silly).  And my second thought was, wow, this warm-up should be interesting.

As soon as the Flyers hit the ice, the girls started holding up the signs as different players skated by.  None of Flyers seemed to take notice until a Flyers defenseman, during a stretching session, looked over his shoulder at the girls and gave them a huge grin.  Then, a few minutes later, he did it again.  I wondered if the girls had any personal experience with the Flyers players, knowing full well that puck bunnies abound at all rinks.  But I chose to assume that this player was just being sweet and showing appreciation for his fans.

It is well known that the Flyers are aware of their status as professional athletes and use it well.  They are known to frequently visit a children’s hospital in Philadelphia, and they are involved in various charity events and efforts.

My point is:  the Flyers are appreciative of their many fans, including the female ones.  When I go to Flyers games (my husband and I have partial plan season tickets), I am pleased at the number of female fans that I see.   And, when looking and listening to what goes on around me at the games, I am pleased to see and hear a lot of women who are very into the game and very knowledgeable about it.  For example, sitting next to me at this particular game were a group of young ladies who were very knowledgeable about the game and very intense about every play.

Hockey has always been mainly a man’s sport and an “ole boy’s network”.   But I think things are slowly changing.  The USA women’s hockey team just won the silver medal in the Winter Olympics.  The NHL Network has an excellent female sportscaster who is knowledgeable about the game and seems well-respected.  And, I assume that females are visible in NHL front offices (but I do not know that for sure).  Ultimately, more female fans can only be good for the NHL and the sport in general.  And, it takes all kinds of female fans who go to the games for different reasons.  And, for this fan, a day sitting rink-side at a Flyers game is pretty high on the list of my favorite kind of day.

Icing On The Cake

I told myself it was an early 2013 Christmas present – even though it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet.  Anything to allow myself to tell the nice woman at the Guest Services counter at Wells Fargo Center “yes” to the two tickets on Row 2.   And fortunately my husband knew better than to try to stop me.  He just shook his head and dismissed any responsibility by telling the woman, “They’re her tickets anyway.”  I justified the decision like this:  it is a day-long outing coming from Northern Virginia to Philly, and a logistical challenge lining up three puppy sitters for our two mini-dachshund “fur babies.” We may as well make it worth our while.

We bit the bullet at our first game as Philadelphia Flyers season ticket holders in October and paid the extra $100 per ticket to upgrade from our designated seats in the upper level of the arena to the same second-row seats my American Express card just committed us to this evening.  And once you have a taste of the “on the glass” experience, no other seat in the arena will do.

I have become a huge Flyers fan this season, living and breathing every game and every story posted on Philly.com.  And it hasn’t been easy sometimes.  The Flyers had a terrible start, going 0-3 in the first three games of the season, leading to the firing of their head coach.

Things weren’t much better under new coach Craig Berube (aka Chief) at first as the team continued to flounder and ended up in the basement of an incredibly weak Metropolitan Division in the newly re-aligned NHL.  But I had stuck with them believing that they could eventually put some good hockey together, even though I wondered, along with many others, if this team just didn’t have the talent and should be dismantled and put back together under a new general manager.

But, a rock bottom moment against my hometown Washington Capitals in Philly on November 1 somehow turned things around.  Down by many goals and looking worse than a pee wee team ever could, a huge fight broke out that was capped by the Flyers’ goalie, Steve Emery, skating the length of the ice to take on the Capitals’ pretty boy goalie Brayden Holtby.  As Emery lifted his fists he said he told a stunned and confused Holtby, “You better protect yourself.”  The whole scene seemed like something out of the classic 1970s hockey movie “Slap Shot.”

I couldn’t believe that things had gotten this bad.  By the time of the fight, the Philly arena was nearly empty, and my husband and I threw in the towel a few minutes later.  But somehow the fight seemed to ignite something in the Flyers, and since then they have been on a roll.  The truth is more likely that it took them several weeks to adjust to Chief’s new defense- and skating-centered system.  But whatever the reason, it is working and the Flyers are winning, having won six of their last seven games while gathering points in all seven (one tie) in order to climb into the middle of the pack in their division.

So here we were, a full hour before game time this November evening, mere feet from the glistening ice.  After some player interviews and Flyers history videos played on the scoreboard, the cool rap/techno music started blaring and the teams hit the ice.  Though my Flyers were at the other end of the rink, I could see them fairly well from my ice-level view.  I knew for sure that the swagger was back when I saw team captain Claude Giroux laughing and shoulder bumping his teammates.  Several weeks ago I remember watching him sternly shooting at the empty net during warm-ups—and missing.

Giroux was in a slump almost more disappointing than the team’s as he went 20 game without scoring a goal.  This from a gifted goal-scorer who graced the cover of the EA Sports NHL13 video game.  He finally broke out of the slump during a defining victory at home against the Edmonton Oilers several weeks ago.   I happily viewed that game from the club level with my visiting father, who as a Western North Carolina resident, was a “newbie” to the NHL experience.  When G scored it felt as if the Flyers had won the Stanley Cup.  Since then, he has been scoring and assisting more like the G we knew from previous seasons.

The thrill of sitting on the glass at an NHL game is beyond description.  The faceoffs are mere feet away, and the jarring checks into the plexiglass boom and shake the baricade, making you trust that it will stay in place.  My two favorite things to pay attention to from this viewpoint are the skating and the player’s faces.  The players’ eyes reflect an intense focus that is required to play this game and the instincts that tell the players where to go and what to do in a nano-second.  When this game is described as the fastest game on earth it is no exaggeration.

And the skating…don’t even get me started.  I am taking adult beginner ice skating lessons so I feel like I understand how incredibly difficult it is.  Yet these guys fly around effortlessly as if they are more comfortable on ice than on solid ground.  (I once had a junior hockey player tell me that is certainly the case for him.)

The turns, crossovers, one-foot glides, and backwards skating at top speeds without even looking behind amaze me.  I remember that when I took ice skating lessons more than 10 years ago, it took me months to do one back crossover, and I remained somewhat terrified of falling every time I attempted one after that.  Now, I wouldn’t even know how to start, which is why I have started over and recently began taking skating lessons again.

I am improving but still struggle sometimes just getting around the rink. I realize that skating in your 40s is definitely more challenging than skating in your 30s.  My balance is worse, my legs are not as strong, and the falls are harder (as is the getting back up part).  As a result, several months ago during my first trip back to the rink in over 10 years, I wondered if I was crazy trying this sport again. It can be dangerous as falling is an almost certainty.  And, I am living with kidney disease resulting from a rare auto-immune disease that I battled last year.  But, exercise is a good thing and I love the feel of gliding over the ice, so I am keeping up my courage and continuing with the lessons.

The hockey game progressed nicely and the Flyers looked so much better than they did earlier in the season.  They were skating hard, forechecking, getting good shots on goal and suddenly they had a 3-0 lead.

But, near the end of the second period,  the “old” Flyers returned.  They were sitting back on their heels, watching the NY Islanders skate around the Flyers zone, taking shots at their stellar goaltender Steve Mason.  (Easily the MVP of the season so far, I wonder if the Flyers would have had a victory in their first 20 game without Mase in net.)

However, unlike games of old, the Flyers didn’t cave as the Islanders got within one goal.  Instead, they picked up the pace and turned on the heat.  Near the middle of the third period, Jake Voracek, a favorite of mine who was possibly benched in the previous game for not performing well, dug the puck out of the corner right in front of me and fed it to Brayden Schenn in front of the net for a goal that gave the Flyers some breathing room with a 4-2 lead.

The Flyers hugged and celebrated the goal in front of me as I clapped and cheered as loudly as I could.  A perfect finish to a perfect evening.  Icing on the cake to another fun day centered around Flyers hockey.  I felt blessed as my husband and I rushed out of the arena into the bitter cold for our drive back to Virginia.  I bid the Wells Fargo Center goodbye – in appreciation for another great hockey game and with a bit of sadness knowing that I would have to wait over a month for another night of Flyers hockey.