I begged and begged for the chance to go to my first Blackhawks game. I was turning 21 in a few months and I knew I needed to get tickets early if I wanted to go. I began dropping hints to my family here and there hoping that they’d get the hint.
SIDE NOTE: I can’t stress enough how much I wanted to go to a Hawks game. It’s been my DREAM to just be in the same vicinity as the team, let alone watch them play a game on home ice.
About 2 months before I crossed the threshold of legal drinking age, my grandfather asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Before I could even think, I shouted out “BLACKHAWKS TICKETS!!!” He looked at me and said, “Sure, as long as I don’t have to go.”
Pretty sure I cried. I had gotten my first jersey the Christmas before…so it needed some good use. I research the best place to sit in the arena, the best food to get while you’re there, and the best way to get a shot at meeting the players. I finally found tickets that I loved, arranged the trip with my dad, and then created a countdown calendar. The best part about it was that the Hawks were playing the Blues….Best.First.Game.Ever
The day of included a hefty itinerary, but I was running on nothing but adrenaline, so nothing could bring me down.
5:00 am: Up bright and early. Put my jersey on, packed my camera bag, and watched Hat Trick, the 2015 Stanley Cup video, while I waited for my dad to pick me up
6:30 am: I hear a knock on the door and jump up! It’s time to go!
9:30 am: We are almost to downtown Chicago at this point….but we run into a bit of traffic…still pumped. Still hyped. Still happy
11:00 am: after searching for a parking spot, and aimlessly wandering, my dad and I walk to the best pre-game lunch ever…Portillos.
2:00 pm: Again, after searching for a parking spot, then walking 2 blocks, we made it to the Blackhawk’s Store on Michigan Avenue. All I wanted was a Hawks beanie, but I assure you that I left the store with much more merchandise than that.
3:30 pm: My dad pretty much had to drag me away from the store. We got in the car and headed towards the United Center (UC).I already had my new beanie on.
4:00 pm: Dad and I parked at the famous Billy Goat Tavern next to the UC and grabbed some drinks. I didn’t get carded…which was super disappointing. The bar was packed with Hawks fan and it was awesome. The atmosphere in the tavern was incredible and that only made me more excited for the atmosphere of the UC.
5:00 pm: I looked at my phone and noticed that the game was in about an hour. I wanted to get in line asap because they were giving away Patrick Kane bobbleheads to the first couple thousand people. Patrick Kane is my favorite player so there was no way I wasn’t getting a bobblehead!
5:30 pm: After waiting in the cold for a bit and chatting with other fans about my “Kiss Me Kane It’s My 21st” sign, the line had moved up enough that I could see through the UC doors. Getting through UC security was pretty simple other than the fact that they told me I couldn’t bring in my sign…not cool. I did get my P-Kane bobble head though which eased the pain.
6:00 pm: I quickly ran to our seat section and noticed you could make signs in the UC. I quickly grabbed some markers and a sign, sat on the floor with a crowd of 10-13-year-olds and remade my sign. After that we went and found our seats. As soon as we sat down, the horn sounded and both teams were on the ice for warm-ups. I was enamored. My dad had to snap me out of it so we could get food and drinks before the game started. I did get carded while in the UC, which for some reason, was the coolest thing ever to me.
I’ll be honest, the timeline was a blur from then on and it’s not because I had too much to drink…lol. I was completely enthralled in the whole experience. I was experiencing my favorite team in their home arena for the first time in my life. It was something I will certainly never forget. Also, I realized about halfway through the game that I was sitting about 10 seats away from Niklas Hjalmarsson’s wife and Bobby Hull was sitting behind me. For Blackhawks fans, you know how crazy cool that is!
The hawks won the game with a goal from Andrew Shaw (P.S still not used to him in a Canadiens jersey) and Artemi Panarin, otherwise known as “Breadman”. Watching professional hockey is fast paced and incredibly exciting. I thought watching at home was awesome, but there is truly nothing like being surrounded by other fans, watching the game in real time, and experiencing everything the Hawks organization has to offer. I finally know why they call it the Madhouse on Madison.