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The Puck Drops Here

Sep 21, 2011 08:30PM ● By Anonymous

Yes, you read that right. Hockey in Baltimore—professional hockey.

The Washington Capitals were in town, "hosting" the Baltimore Hockey Classic against the Nashville Predators at 1st Mariner Arena. I'm pretty sure this wasn't my first time at the arena, but I can't remember the last time I went. Safe to say, it was a while ago.

I'm sorry to say that it's not looking so good. The lack of updates since its conception in 1961 make it seem kind of out of date. It's not falling apart or anything like that, it's just not a shining pinnacle of modernity. Plus, the concessions folks ran out of pretzels and hot dogs at the stand closest to my seat. I guess they aren't use to sell-outs.

1st Mariner Arena is a point of contention among us Baltimore hockey folks. Its lack of updates essentially cost us a team. Once the Bandits left in '97, nobody came to replace them. Teams didn't want to set up in an outdated venue.

So, the fact that the Caps were in town was major news. Red and white jerseys flowed up and down West Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place. They crawled out of parking garages, and crammed into nearby bars.

And, the arena was packed. Fans cheered and clapped. Baltimore Hockey Classic memorabilia sold out long before the game ended.

Local celebs kept streaming across the jumbotrons, exclaiming how much Baltimore needed a hockey team. I cheered every time.

Unfortunately, the game wasn't quite what I'd hoped it would be. The heat of the arena made for some sloppy ice conditions, and the Caps matched the rink.

They looked sleepy, and out of their element. While the Predators kept things simple, and capitalized on crisp passes, the Caps just couldn't turn it around.

Maybe it was because they weren't used to the new lines, maybe it was because they were afraid of going all out in a preseason game. Either way, the Caps never got around to looking like a team.

Despite a last-ditch attempt at scoring in pulling Neuvirth out of the goal, and stacking the lineup with Ovechkin, Laich, Semin, Knuble, Backstrom, and Green, they just couldn't seem to poke one in there.

Instead, the boys in red wound up losing 2-0. At least the three Nashville vans behind me were happy.

And, y'know what? I was happy too.

I loved seeing hockey in Baltimore. After all, it'd been 14 years since the last game. Despite the loss, my spirits, and those of the fans who walked by me on the way to their cars, stayed high.

Hopefully someone important noticed the atmosphere in the arena last night. And if they need some extra encouragement, I just have this to say: bring a team back to Baltimore—you'll have a fan base in us.