Follow the adventures of the Goalie Stick as it travels North America collecting NHL Goalie 'Graphs.

Goalies

Steve Stamkos [Not A Goalie] – Atlantic City, NJ Hurricane Sandy Benefit Game

During the lockout, Scott Hartnell & Brad Richards organized a charity event in Atlantic City, sponsored by Caesars.   Brad Richards’s team was mostly Rangers [and Ex-Rangers] with 2 Ducks [Corey Perry & Bobby Ryan] and James Neal.  Scott Hartnell’s team was mostly Flyers & Devils, a few left coast Flyers [aka Kings], Steve Stamkos, OK Subban & the legendary Martin Brodeur.  Interestingly enough the Flyers were still unable to win a game against Henrik Lundqvist.

The audience composed mostly of Flyers, Devils and Rangers fans with a few other teams scattered in the mix.  As they announced each player, Flyers & Devils fans boo’d the Ranger players.  Devils and Rangers fans boo’d the Flyers players.  Flyers and Rangers fans boo’d the Devils players.  If there’s one thing Flyers, Rangers & Devils fans can agree on, none of us liked the Pittsburgh Penguins.  James Neal drew the most & loudest boos from just about everyone in the arena.

The game was a lot of fun [I’ll post pics later] & afterwards my Dad and I went back to Caesars.  Since Caesars had sponsored the game, we figured there might be some players around we could get autographs from.  I’d already gotten the only goalies, Martin Brodeur & Henrik Lundqvist’s ‘graphs on my stick so I decided to try to get Steve Stamkos’s autograph on a hockey puck.  I changed from my Flyers Tee shirt into a Tampa Bay sweatshirt I’d had in my backpack, grabbed a Tampa puck & paint pen out of my back pack so I’d have it handy in case we saw him.   The nightclub at Caesars was having an after-party, but I don’t think my Dad realized that ‘after party’ meant ‘several hours after’.  I’m also pretty sure he’d never been to a nightclub as he didn’t seem to understand why I didn’t think it’d be a great idea getting his wheelchair into the nightclub.  [We tried anyway, and I don’t think my dad will be visiting any nightclubs any time soon.  I had an idea where some of the players might be, but my Dad said I was crazy and didn’t believe me.  After the wheelchair in the nightclub debacle, I told my Dad we should go to where I thought the players would be, but he wasn’t convicned so we decided to head home.

I don’t really understand why, but Caesars valet [car] claim is not in the same place as where we’d left the car.  The valet ticket needs to be brought upstairs and THEN you have to go back down to where you dropped the car off.  Instead of pushing my Dad around the entire casino again looking for elevators, I decided to leave him downstairs while I ran up to get the valet parking ticket scanned.  I conveniently left my Dad right in front of the place I’d told him all the hockey players would be at.  With my luck, Steve Stamkos would probably walk by while I was upstairs handing in the valet ticket.  Soooo..  I left the Tampa Bay puck and paint pen with my Dad and told him if he saw Steve Stamkos to get an autograph for me.  My Dad sarcastically agreed to do this for me & I ran up to the valet claim.

Having handed in the valet claim check, I went back downstairs to find my Dad holding a [now signed] Tampa Bay Lightning puck.  Sure enough only one hockey players had passed by and just happened to be Mr. Stamkos [one of the few current NHL players my Dad could easily recognize].  He was with Steve Downie, but I’d only given my Dad the one puck and I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize Mr. Downie.  My dad had asked him to sign the puck for me.  At first I thought my Dad had scribbled on the puck to mess with me because he didn’t think I knew where the players were hanging out at.  Or since I’d left him with just a Tampa puck.  The other people waiting in the valet area said they’d seen him sign the puck for my dad.   They thought it was strange my Dad holding onto a Tampa puck hoping he’d run into Steve Stamkos in Atlantic City.

???????????????????????????????

Our car hadn’t arrived yet & I asked my Dad if he wanted any of the players signatures while we waited for valet to bring the car around.  He said he wanted to get Henrik Lundqvist’s autograph, so I gave him a New York Rangers puck from my backpack and shook the paint pen.  Not even 5 minutes had passed when the very next person we saw [I swear it was the weirdest thing] Henrik Lundqvist walk by.  [Another one of the few current players my Dad recognized].  Henrk signed the Rangers puck for my Dad and then my car showed up at the valet. At this point my dad realized I DID know where the hockey players would be, we just thought it was weird that we just happened to see the two people we wanted to get autographs from.

I told this story to a few other people, who wanted to know why I carried unsigned hockey pucks for other teams & a Tampa Bay sweatshirt in my backpack.  Especially since they know were from Philly.  What is it you guys think women keep in the big purse we carry around with us?

Puck Drop IMG_2624 'New York' Starting Line Up ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? Stamkos 91???????????????????????????????       IMG_2661 ??????????????????????????????? IMG_2674 IMG_2675 IMG_2676 IMG_2677 IMG_2690 IMG_2692

Anyone know the last time these guys had a friendly chat during warm-ups?

Or shook hands like old pals?

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For More info on Operation Hat Trick game & the supported foundations:
http://atlanticcitynj.com/visitors/thingstodo/operationhattrick.aspx


Eddie Lack – Chicago Wolves Game [November 20, 2012 ]

(Note: Post was written during the NHL’s 3rd work stoppage — the great “Fall Lockout of 2012”)

It’s weird not taking my dad to hockey games.  I’m trying to pretend it’s still summer but it’s cold & I lost my summer tan.

I put one of my doggies [Fifi] to sleep Monday so it was sort of bad week.  I figured a mini vacation would help.  Watch some hockey, try 2 get goalie ‘graphs during the lockout.  I picked Chicago because their AHL team has a cute goalie that should be in the NHL after the lockout.  His NHL team is in Canada so getting his ‘graph in Chicago, is one less Canadian city to fly to.  [Goalies on Canadian teams are REALLY difficult to get].  My fave hotel is in Chicago too, the Palmer House Hotel (Hilton) which is the oldest ‘continuously operating hotel’ in the USA.  A millionaire named Potter Palmer gave the hotel to his wife as a wedding present.  Talk about overtly romantic gestures.  You don’t see wedding presents like that anymore*.  The hotel retains it’s historic looks from the outside and most of the common areas in the interior like the (humongous) foyer, lobby & hallways, but all of the rooms have been recently renovated to include modern amenities such as huge brand new flat screen HDTVs.

*Note:  Less than 2 weeks after Potter presented the hotel to his wife, it burned to the ground  in the “Great Chicago Fire” (1871)

I’m flying to Chicago Monday.  Tuesday I’ll see the Chicago Wolves game.  [Really cute goalie] and he’s good a at keeping the pucks out of the net.  See…

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Sidebar:

I’ve tried a few times to get goalie ‘graphs before/after warm-up at local NHL games when I take my dad but visiting goalies don’t seem to like people that live in my city.  I’ve never seen any of the visiting goalies sign, wave or do anything nice for ANY of the fans at my arena — even fans of their own team.  When you see goalies on TV being nice to fans at an arena their visiting, whatever arena they’re at is NOT the Wells Fargo Center.  I find this slightly confusing given the strong sentiment Philadelphia fans have for their team, it takes a lot of courage, loyalty and an overt personality to show up at the Wells Fargo Center wearing anything that isn’t orange and black.  Anyone can wear a Detroit Red Wings jersey at a Columbus Blue Jackets home game, but it takes a special kind of person to wear a limited edition, commemorative, autographed [and might I add very expensive] Montreal Canadiens sweater bought by someone’s parents from the visiting goalie’s official website (you know who I mean — CP31).  I would think there would MORE of an appreciation from players on the visiting team for at least their own fans in a hockey market like Philadelphia, but the goalies don’t want anything to do with anyone that lives there.

I have to say with only one exception, the visiting Captains will always toss pucks over the net for fans — their own and even Flyers fans, but I’ve only once seen a visiting player sign an autograph after warmups at the Wells Fargo Center (Ottawa Senators Chris Neil – very nice guy) So while the captains [except for one] are always nice, the goalies never even smile at fans (even those wearing extremely expensive merchandise purchased from their official web sites) let alone sign autographs after warmups or even after a game.  While I can certainly understand they’re in their own little goalie world & all, I’d be somewhat more understanding if I hadn’t seen & heard of numerous occasions where the visiting goaltender WILL give away a stick or sign autographs for fans at just about every other arena in the league.  Sometimes to fans wearing their colors in a rival city, other times just to the rival teams’ fans.  Yet those same goalies can’t even crack a smile for their fans in Philadelphia.

I”m sure by now the ushers for the section next to the visiting team ice entrance must think I’m not too bright because I keep trying 2 get goalie ‘graphs even though I’ve not gotten one this way yet.  I always think maybe tonight if I smile really pretty at the new prospect backup before warm-ups, maybe he’ll think it’s b/c usually everyone pays attention to the other goalie & here was someone interested in them, maybe they’d think it’s cool sign my goalie stick.  But no luck.  Would you believe at a PRE-SEASON game [vs Toronto September 2011) with NO ONE wearing Blue & White even the BACKUP goaltender can’t manage to make eye contact with a fan screaming his name [….  Jonas Gustavsson] ?  (Maybe I was pronouncing it incorrectly?)

As we’ve established attempting to collect goalie ‘graphs before / after games / warmups isn’t very efficient, I should also point out that other common options for obtaining visiting players’ graphs are also not available in the Philadelphia area.  The visiting teams’ practice sessions are always closed, so this isn’t a viable option.  The area where the visiting team enters & leaves the arena to / from the visiting team bus is in a secured area making it impossible to obtain autographs the way I’ve seen pictures of people doing at other arenas.

I now return you to my post where I’m in the process of seeking alternative means of obtaining [active] NHL goalie ‘graphs ….

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My dad’s same friends said I should try 2 get visiting goalie ‘graphs at their hotels but I think that’s sort of creepy.  They also said when I go to warm-ups 2 wear low-cut tops & bounce a lot.  [I’m really good at it, I’m just not entirely sure it send the message that I want their autograph].  The next suggestion from my Dad’s friends was that I Tweet the goalie’s and ask them how I can maybe get their goalie ‘graph ahead of time.  I’m not really into social media overall and I’m not entirely sure if tweeting players is viewed in the same way that stalking them at their hotel would be however it seems slightly less intrusive so I thought I’d give it a try.  I got a Twitter account [iHeartHockey31]  & looked for cute goalies I was missing on my stick.  Given it was a new account with no followings attempting to contact high profile twitter accounts, I’m fairly certain my tweets have all ended up being flagged as potential spam and likely aren’t even seen by the players but what the heck.

Since I don’t mind getting ‘graphs at organized signings or charity events & goalies usually sign their name prettier when people are paying (or dontaing money to charity) for their ‘graph, maybe when I tweet them, I could offer to donate $ to their teams’ charity & see if they’d sign for me.  Since it’s Mo’vember (2012), I asked some of the cute goalies if they’d sign theGoalieStick in exchange for dontations to their Mo’vember pages.  The goalie for the Chicago Wolves [Vancouver Canucks] was the first one I tweeted & he said he’d sign theGoalieStick for me if I donated to his page, so I gave $250 for his Mo page and he said he’d sign for me at a game in Chicago.

Sweet…  one of my fave cities to visit [i LOOOOOOVE chicago style pizza  — and not that thick crust crap Pizzeria Unos calls ‘Chicago Pizza’, I mean real ‘Chicago Pizza’ like Gino’s East, Giordanos’s, Eduardo’s  where there’s layers of crust and toppings buried in between like a giant pie that takes 45 minutes to cook]

I’ve been to games in lots of NHL cities but don’t think I’ve been to an AHL game.  The Wolves didn’t have home games until the end of November.  The 20th was a weekday game where my fave hotel had a suite & airfare wasn’t expensive.  I had to get a ticket for the game.

AHL tickets were even LESS money then Tampa Bay tickets.  $50 for  first row seats behind the goalies.   I had to figure which side to sit by.  I checked out the visiting goalies to see if they were cute [or any good].  They weren’t [cute or good].  I wanted to sit behind the cute Chicago goalie but wasn’t sure which he was at twice.  I had to match up the wolfie mascot on the ice in a game to the ticket map & figure it out.  I think I got the right seats.

Now the big wardrobe question.  What team’s Girlie Tee to wear to the game.  [This whole T-Shirt issue probably needs a post of its own but anyway…. ]. As I’d decided not to buy new Flyers T’s  that wouldn’t work.  I tried really hard to buy a Rangers Tee, since I’d decided to be a Rangers fan since the last playoffs.  I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t bring my self to buy a Rangers Tee shirt.  The AHL & Chicago Wolves online store didn’t have girlie tees with goalie names on them so I finally settled on the idea of buying a Canucks T, the NHL team affiliated with Chicago.

I don’t understand what marketing genius at the shop.nsh site thought they’d make money by preventing all roster player names to be used on their custom T-shirts, but discovered this to be the case as I tried to order a Canucks Tee with ‘Lack’ on the back.  No joke…  Here I was thinking .. what a cool way to let people pick out their favorite player without having to stock every size/color/name but no, not so much. U can have anything u want written on the back of a tee except the name players on the team.  [More on this coming soon.  Is it just me or is the NHL again finding new & creative ways of NOT letting me spend money?   [I’m beginning to see the source of the NHL’s revenue issues.] .

I managed to find a Canucks Tee that was made by the same company that made my fave Flyers Tee & finally settled on that.  When I got the Tee in the mail it fit just like my 5th & Ocean Flyers Tee did.  [how comfy are vintage burn-out tees]

Gameday – November 20, 2012

I flew in yesterday to make sure my stick would make it too [not that I’ve ever had issues on American, just being cautious].  It’s almost 10AM [technically in Chicago it’s almost 9AM here, but I’m not here long enough to bother with changing the zones on the laptop].  My fave pizza place in Chicago brought me the best pizza ever!!  [I can only eat one slice before I’m full].  You can’t get pizza anywhere else in the country like that [except for Giordano’s in Orlando & a place that I can’t remember the name of in Greektown in Detroit].  It’s not like that stupid chain Uno’s that claims to have Chicago Pizza.  It’s the yummiest stuff pizza pie ever.  [Totally worth the 2 hours in the gym for a slice].

Now to find something exciting to do in Chicago for the next few hours till the game.  Shouldn’t be too hard?

The game was pretty cool.  I had tickets for seats in the front row & tried to get some good pics, but the glass was really scratchy so it was hard to get really clear pics through the glass.  It was also a little foggy/cloudy [maybe from the pre-game fireworks] so pics across the ice didn’t come out too great.  [I noticed the same foggy effect when I watched the game later on TV].

Eddie Lack played really good and made lots of saves through the night.  The other goalie was really bad.  Really bad.  He got pulled [for an even worse goalie] after the second period].   The other team wasn’t doing a good job keeping the crease clear of people for him.  A few times I’m pretty sure his own team may have been screening him.  Eddie was way better than the Admirals’ goalies.

One of the ushers showed me where the players came out after the game to sign autographs, but I was a little worried about missing my flight later that night.  I had the last flight out that night.   There was a lady at the customer service desk, Becca.  When I told her I’d flown in to see the game, she said for a donation to the Chicago Wolves Charity, she’d take the stick back for me right after the game so I wouldn’t miss my flight.  She only asked for a $25  donation, but I gave $100 since it was for charity.

I brought theGoalieStick over to Becca during the second intermission.  After the game I waited where she’d told me to meet her.  Shortly after the game ended, she brought the stick out to me with Eddie’s signature on it!

Here’s where Eddie added his signature to theGoalieStick for me:

How Sweet is That 🙂

Thanks for the Goalie ‘Graph Eddie Lack !!!!

PS: Eddie’s team won the game.  And I made from flight home.  theGoalieStick wasn’t as lucky as it was stuck in Chicago for another night in Chicago.  Thanks to American Airlines for getting my stick back to me at 1AM in the morning almost TWO ENTIRE DAYS after I arrived home.  [Hence my biggest issue traveling to other cities to collect goalie ‘graphs, luckily this was the way home & not the way there)

** Update **

Eddie is now officially the backup for the Vancouver Canucks & has been doing really well since his debut this season (2013-14).  Now if only the Canucks can manage to trade Roberto Luongo’s huge contract, I might not have to visit Vancouver to get any goalie ‘graphs.  Also, Eddie had offered fans autographed items in exchange for Mo’vember donations.  In addition to signing my goalie stick, I (unexpectedly) also receive an autograph photograph AND an autographed puck a few weeks later in the mail, so I wanted to say thanks to Eddie Lack for the surprise gifts too.

Eddie Lack, you’re a true Swedish Sweetheart & I wish you all the best & lots of success in your NHL career.  


Martin Brodeur – North Jersey

Martin Brodeur – Central Park Restaurant in Roselle, NJ

People from other states don’t often consider NJ a state where the distinction ‘North Jersey’ or ‘South Jersey’ tends to make a difference.  Those same people have likely never driven on the NJ Turnpike.  To hockey fans, the North/South distinction can mean a world of difference when it comes to team loyalties, as the NJ Devils make their home in the Northern Part of the state while only the Delaware River stands between South Jersey & Flyers Territory.

Once again, I convinced my Dad to leave our friendly Philadelphia Flyers market area in South NJ & head up North into enemy territory to collect another goalie ‘graph.

The Martin Brodeur signing @ Central Park was listed on http://www.signingshotline.com.  I got a ticket as soon as my dad agreed to drive up there with me. [The Turnpike makes me sleepy, I can’t drive up & back the same day].  I was excited Ito add a ‘graph from a goaltending legend like Martin Brodeur.  The day of the event I made sure we left early to avoid traffic.  We got 2 Central Park in Roselle, NJ about an hour before the signing would begin.  There was event space at the restaurant where people already started waiting in line, but it was a large space so it didn’t feel over crowded & we could relax and talk to the other people there.  I showed my Dad cool hockey video clips on my Motorola Xoom while waiting for Mr Brodeur to arrive.  My Dad held our place in line while I wandered around to see what was going on.  A few of the other autograph-seekers began to notice the black & orange logo on my fave Flyer’s tee.  I happened to look up at my Dad & realized he’d conveniently decided 2 wear a RED polo shirt that day.  Somehow being female makes it OK to wear my teams’ colors into enemy territory.  I’m not sure if it’s an overall appreciation of having a female fans appreciate the sport in general or the distraction of my ‘lady lumps’ (as Fergie would call them) distorting the team logo on my tee shirt, but most men don’t seem to mind what teams’ tee shirt I wear regardless of where I am.

Other than starting up a few interesting conversations, I’ve never been seriously given a hard time anywhere in the United States for wearing Flyers T’s in other NHL cities.  Trying to pass through customs in Montreal wearing a Flyers Tee was a whole other story.  [I’ve not been back to Canada since].

Back to NJ….  As people began to notice the differing color scheme between my Tee & theirs, there was an increase in the stares & comments.  I explained I was a Flyers fan b/c they were my hometown team however I’d spent the day [and my dad’s day] driving up the turnpike and waiting here in line because [like them] I wanted an autograph from the all-time best goalie ever.  This explanation seemed to satisfy their curiosity and no issues ensued.  It’s well-known for years Philly that hasn’t seen any decent action between the pipes, so they were more than happy letting me visit their record-breaking netminder.  It could also have been the snug fit of my Tee-Shirt.  Either way, as usual, everyone was pretty friendly.

Note:  I try to wear a Flyers tee (when the dress code of the event permits) when collecting goalie ‘graphs because how cool is it to have pictures of other teams’ goalies standing next to someone wearing a Flyers Tee — usually smiling.  Aside from times when I had to dress nice for an event the only time I’ve cheated on the Flyers Tee so far was when getting Henrik Lundqvist’s goalie ‘graph.  I only cheated a little as it was right after the Winter Classic & I’d worn a Flyers vs Rangers Winter Classic Tee.  It was Grey with mostly blue writing but DID have a Flyer’s logo.  I’m not sure why but Rangers fans are slightly more intimidating than any of the other teams’ goalies’ whose ‘graphs I’ve collected so far.  [I’m not entirely sure I punctuated that last sentence correctly — my bad]

Back to NJ [again], once Mr. Brodeur arrived at the event, the line moved pretty quick.  This was the exact moment I realized I’d left my Canon Elph in the car [Elph not Elf  —  it’s a tiny pink camera that takes awesome pics when anyone other than my dad is using it.] There wasn’t enough time 2 run out to my car.  My dad had his iPhone.  When we got to the front of the line Mr Brodeur signed theGoalieStick for me.  My dad wanted a pic with Marty but there was a riser blocking wheelchair access so Mr Brodeur was really sweet & came over 2 pose for a pic with us.  Suffice to say I won’t be replacing my camera with an iPhone any time soon, but it’s still a sweet photo.  I thought it was very nice of Mr. Brodeur to come over so my Dad could be in the photo, especially when he had a long line of people to sign autographs for & given I was wearing his rival teams’ tee shirt.

Overall, the tickets for Marty’s goalie ‘graph weren’t too too expensive & the event was was well-organized.  We didn’t wait in line too long once Mr. Brodeur arrived (on time) so the event overall went very smoothly.

Martin Brodeur’s ‘graph was a really nice ‘graph so I wanted to make sure he could sign on a smooth (non-textured) part of the stick.  Since of the non-textured space on the front of the blade was filled, I had him start the other side of the blade with his ‘graph.  I handed him a red sharpie because that’s the color of the NJ Devils.  Marty also has a really pretty ‘graph like Henrik.  So far Marty and Henrik’s ‘graphs are my two favorites (maybe no one tell Nabby I said that).

I only need one more ‘graph and I’ll have all the starting goalies in the Atlantic Division.  I’m thinking the Pittsburgh Penguin’s goalie ‘graph is going to be somewhat challenging to obtain.  After the whole round 1 playoff thing, I may need 2 get a Penguin’s Tee 2 wear.  Not because I find Penguins fans intimidating but I’m slightly concerned their goalie might refuse 2 sign 4 me if he see’s I’m from Philly.

*** Update ***

The recent realignment of NHL divisions and recent changes in starting goaltenders has created a slight setback in my attempt to (at the very least) complete the starting goalies of my division, the now [awkwardly] named ‘Metropolitan Division‘  In addition to Marc-Andre Fluery [and / or Tomas Vokoun depending on whether he comes back or not] I also need to obtain Cam Ward and Braden Holtby’s ‘graphs.  Since having originally obtained New York Islanders goalie ‘graphs, I now also need to acquire Kevin Poulin and Anders Nillson’s ‘graphs.  This project continues to become more & more challenging.


Evgeny Nabokov, Rick Dipietro and Al Montoya – Islanders Children’s Foundation Casino Night

Islanders Children’s Foundation Casino Night

My Dad and I went 2 the first New York Islanders Children’s Foundation Casino Night where all of the Islanders goalies added their  ‘graphs to theGoalieStick.com

Prior to purchasing tickets for the casino night, I called to see if it was OK if 2 bring theGoalieStick to the event.   They said that it’d be OK as long as I got the ‘graphs during the VIP pre-party.  My Dad said he’d drive me out there if I bought the tickets. It was on a weekday, & I knew traffic on the jersey t-pike would make 4 a long road trip. [is it just me or is there always an overturned tractor-trailer on the GWB?].  We left in the morning and stopped at my brother’s in North NJ 2 have lunch w/ my sister-in-law, Julie [& so i could finish my makeup] before heading the rest of the way 2 the island.

Despite looking 4 my fave little black dress for days, I never found it so  I wore black  pants w/ a cute red cut-out back blouse.  It was a good thing I didn’t go w/ a dress b/c it’s hard enough helping my dad w/ his wheelchair wearing  5” heels at hockey games, so i’m not sure a dress would have made it easier.  My Dad bought a new suit, which my mom found off seeing as the last time he’d bought a suit was sometime b4 the Flyers won their first Stanley cup. I’ll fast forward over the rest of the road trip (for now).

The Islanders Children’s Foundation [ICF] Casino Night was at ‘The Inn at New Hyde Park’.  We were a little early b/c of avoiding traffic & waited in the lobby.  My Dad knows what most of the Philly sports players look like but didn’t know a lot about the Islanders before now.  I showed him lots of pics including my album of ‘unmasked’ goalie’ hockey cards so he’d know what they looked like.  My dad thinks John Tavares looks a lot like young John Lecair.  Prior to the trip the only thing my dad really knew about the Islanders is that they’d cheated the Philadelphia Flyers out of a Stanley Cup when they scored on an un-called off-sides.  Personally I don’t think this is the New York Islanders fault, but the referee’s fault.  I mean what was the Islander supposed to do — go to the ref & say he was offsides and the goal shouldn’t count?  So if anything my dad should be mad at the refs for that — not the Islanders.  I read (other) stories about the islanders from the internet to my dad during the long drive there so he’d know stuff about them.  My dad liked the stories about Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky most.  He also liked hearing about John Tavares growing up.

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Sidenote: I read on the back of a hockey card that Sam Gagner (whose Dad also played in the NHL — Dave Gagner) built a hockey rink in their backyard when Sam was growing up.  He taught Sam (and his best friend John) how to play hockey & the boys would spend every spare minute playing on the backyard rink.  Who would have known Sam’s best friend John would end up being a number 1 draft pick?  I have to image that Sam must have been a pretty popular kid in the neighborhood to have his own backyard rink [and NHL player-dad].

Additional Sidenote:  I later learned that another NHL player grew up in the same town as Sam & John, although the hockey card didn’t mention if he too played on Sam’s backyard rink (though I am VERY curious to know whether or not he played with them growing up).  I’d imagine John and Sam would have needed someone to mind the net for them on their rink and can’t help but wonder if they didn’t scour the neighborhood for a goalie, & get Steve Mason to strap on the pads for them every once in awhile.

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When the VIP hour opened we received Casino Dollars, tickets for prize baskets & an Islanders Canvas Logo.  A photographer took a really nice photo of me and my Dad in front the ICF Logo Press Wall. That was really cool! [They even gave us a copy of the photo which was really sweet]

After the photo, we wanted to look for the goalies so I could have them sign my Goalie Stick at the smaller VIP event before there were too many people.  We found Rick DiPietro first. He was a blackjack dealer.  A lot of people had told us before the event that Mr. DiPietro was really great with fans & they were right, he was really sweet.  He signed my goalie stick [in orange sharpie], posed for a photo with me & signed an Islanders hockey puck for my dad.

Next we looked for Al Montoya at the ‘Money Wheel’ game.  Mr.  Montoya was also really nice & added his goalie ‘graph to the others.  I didn’t realise until he posed for a photo he was THAT much taller than me.  I’m wearing 5″ heels in the photo & he’s still a lot taller than me.  Mr. Montoya also signed one of my Dad’s Islanders pucks.

Note: Mr. Montoya is with the Winnipeg Jets now, having signed during the summer free-agency.  That’s really cool b/c now I’ve got a Winnipeg Jets Goalie ‘Graph without flying 2 Canada & don’t have to deal with getting the stick through customs.

The last Islanders goalie ‘graph I needed was my fave [shhhh  don’t tell Mr DiPietro or Mr. Montoya I said that] — Evgeni Nabokov [Nabby].  He was the San Jose Sharks goalie for the longest time ever & is wearing a sharks outfit in every one of the hockey cards I had before this year, so it was sort of strange 2 see him wear an orange & blue sweater.  We didn’t see Nabby right away so I found a table to leave my dad with The Stick & my purse to check out the food.  They had a really nice spread including a Sushi Chef, Turkey Carver, Oyster Bar, Shrimp Cocktail setup & lots more. I was nervous being around so many cute hockey players so I wasn’t really hungry but tried some stuff &  brought my Dad food.  Even though I don’t like alcohol, I thought it was nice they offered the guests a full open bar.  I got my dad a diet soda and still water for me.  Then I left my dad with my purse & our other stuff to find Nabby.  He was at the slot machines.  I asked if he’d mind signing The Stick in ‘San Jose -Blue’ Sharpie [Not the real name of a Sharpie color — how cool would that be though —  just a color I thought looked close to San Jose Blue].  I told him it was OK he was an Islander now, I’d just seen him in a pretty color sharks outfit for so long and their team has the prettiest colors in the NHL so I thought it’d be cool if he signed in San Jose Shark Blue.  [He signed a Sharks Puck for my Dad too]

[Sorry… Another] Note: If anyone with NHL’s marketing division or the Sharpie Marker company is reading this, a line of NHL Team color Sharpie Markers would be really sweet for Autograph Collecting.  They could even be marketed as NHL-Team Color Sharpies for fans to make  signs/posters at games as well & for kid’s sport-themed art projects.  ‘San Jose Blue’, ‘Philadelphia Flyers Orange’ [which appears to be slightly different from ‘New York Islanders Orange’].  Don’t forget the second prettiest NHL color, ‘Colorado Avalanche Purple [or is it burgundy?  I have no idea & wish someone could take the guesswork out of this]  There could even be special editions for ‘Retro/Vintage’ like the cotton candy color blue outfit the Penguins wear.  And versions for 3rd Jersey Colors like the christmas green & red on the Wild’s 3rd Retro jersey.  There’s plenty of opportunity for limited edition special event Sharpies like ‘Flyers Winter-Classic Orange’ or that weird green color on the Devils uniform they wear once a year to pay homage to their current goalie’s first uniform on ‘Retro Jersey’ Game Day*.  LA Kings fans will need their über Limited [Serial Numbered] Stanley Cup Edition of the ‘LA Kings Purple’ Sharpies packaged in a silver plated case etched with all the Stanley Cup Winning Kings players names.   [Another missed marketing opportunity for the NHL to increase HRR]

*Interesting Fact – Did you know that Martin Brodeur is the only active NHL player to have played wearing his team’s ‘retro’ sweater AND the actual uniform the throwback jersey represents?

My Dad had my camera when Nabby signed my stick but later in the night I was able to get a photograph with him.  My dad doesn’t really understand how to work the camera  — you know how you have to hold the shutter half way down to ‘focus’.  He sits low in his wheelchair so when pics do come out, they’re at a bad angle.  After Nabby said he’d pose in the picture, the closest person was one of the Islanders skaters, so I figured I’d have them snap a picture instead of my dad.  I tapped the skater on the shoulder and asked if he’d take a picture “for me”.  He must have thought I meant take a picture “with me” like I wanted him  pose in a photo and have someone else take our photo together.  I tried to explain I wanted a picture of me with Nabby but my dad doesn’t know how to work the camera so I needed someone to operate the camera, taking a photograph of me posing with Nabby.  It was one of the really young, cute Islanders so I’m pretty sure this was the first time a fan had passed him over in favor of  Nabby.  This seemed to amuse his teammates & they started chirping him about being passed up for the [apparently less-requested-to-pose-in-photos] Nabokov but he (graciously) took a photograph of me & Nabby.

My dad likes Tezas Hold ’em so I’d left my dad at a poker table with Michael Grabner, one of the Islanders my Dad actually heard of before that night.  I’m not good at Poker (or gambling for that matter) & my short attention span won’t last more than a hand or two at Poker.  I also can’t remember which hand beats which other hand and apparently it’s ‘frowned’ upon to request this information during a game — when I usually need it.  I decided to check out the rest of the event having left my dad [and purse & stick & stuff] playing poker with Mr. Grabner & others.

The front of the room  had tables setup with player’s baskets [like the ‘favorite things’ baskets teams auction off for charity]. In front of each basket the guests drop in tickets. [We got a few with our Casino Night Dollars].  When the guests ‘cash out’ casino ‘winnings’ they get more prize tickets.   I checked out all of the baskets to see who had the coolest stuff so I could put my dad’s tickets in the basket I liked best. Just about everyone at the event put their tickets in John Tavares’s basket.  My Dad would have like to also, but seeing as there were so many tickets in his basket & not a lot in the other baskets, mathematically speaking it made more sense to try & win a different basket.  At least that’s the argument I presented to my Dad so he’d let me put all the tickets in the goalies’ baskets.  I did put one ticket in Mr. Tavares’s Basket — you never know.  Al Montoya’s basket had an autographed used goalie stick so I thought his was the best basket and gave my casino dollars to my dad since he’s good at Poker & he’d win tickets for me.  I bought more Casino Dollars later that night, but just traded them in for prize tickets instead of playing anything.

I did spend some time sitting with my Dad while he player poker, talking to Michael Grabner & other guests.  My Dad told Mr. Grabner how we were from South Jersey, & (being our local NHL team) have Flyers season for tickets.  We’d driven to Long Island to attend their charity event because [as I’d discovered during the season] apparently the visiting goaltenders are not very fond of even their own fans in Philadelphia.  While I gave it a good effort, having realized even the least popular team’s goalies don’t care for their Philadelphia-based fans, I’d have to go to each of the OTHER NHL cities if I wanted to get all the NHL goalies to sign my stick.  Mr. Grabner told my Dad the Islanders were visiting Philly the following week so we thought it was cool we’d get to see them play so soon after meeting them.

I carry around a photobook of cool pictures.  Some of them I took myself, some I found online & thought were cool and some are cool designs I made from photographs.  Nabby was playing poker at our table & I showed him my fave NHL.com Frozen Moments photograph of himself & and our [red-light] Russian goalie one of the NHL photographers had shot during warmups the last time the Islanders visited.  I like the pictures because both of the Russian goaltenders are are doing symmetrical mirror image stretches  on their respective sides of the red line.  Nabby told me Ilya’d start playing better soon and signed his half of the photo for me.  I personally disagree but politely kept my opinion of his countryman to myself.

Update: Ilya signed the other 1/2 of my photo a few weeks later at the Annual Flyers Carnival.
[Photo is from NHL.com ‘Frozen Moments’ Gallery from the 2011-12 season]

There was a silent auction with autographed memorabilia from different sports teams & other NHL teams and later a live auction, where John Tavares’s All-Star Jersey received a $10,000 bid. The Islanders also auctioned off an opportunity to travel with the team for one of their away games. Two guests got into a bidding war which after exceeding $10,000 the Islanders agreed to create a second opportunity so both bidders could win the ‘travel-with-the-team’ trip.  That was really nice of them.

Besides playing poker with Mr. Grabner, my Dad was excited to meet Mike Bossy.  Mr. Bossy was really friendly, signing a puck & posing for a picture with my Dad.

The Islanders GM is Garth Snow.  Mr. Snow used to be a goalie for the Flyers & I was excited to have an opportunity to meet a Flyers goalie while in Long Island.  My Dad told Mr. Snow how we’d traveled from South Jersey/Philly area [Flyers Territory] to attend their Casino night because I wanted to add the Isles goalie ‘graphs to my The Stick.

My Dad thinks I should start another stick and collect ALL the Flyers goalies ever.  Then when we travel to get NHL goalie ‘graphs if there’s ex-Flyer goalies there, I can get add their ‘graphs to my Flyers goalie stick.  My Dad even offered to give me a cut autograph of Pelle Lindbergh to attach to the stick, so I’ll be able to get ALL the Flyers goalies.

Note: Wayne Stephenson passed away (brain cancer) in 2010, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a cut autograph of his to add as well.

I brought a Flyers puck, hoping we’d get to meet Mr. Snow & he’d be OK signing a puck with a Flyers logo since he’s the Islanders GM.   He not only signed it for me but he also posed for a photo in front of the Islanders Children’s  Foundation Logo Press Wall with me.

From the Islanders 1st Annual Charity Casino Night

My Dad had been asking me all night to ask John Tavares’s to sign a puck for him but there were always a lot of people around his Black Jack table.  Anyone who knows me refuses to allow me to play blackjack. I was also asked to leave the the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  Not because I count cards but because I refuse to pull a card when I have 12 and the dealer has a 10 showing.  It was sort of awkward bothering Mr. Tavares because he had so many people around him the entire night & we weren’t playing blackjack at his table.  At the end of the night right before cash-out there was a spot at his table.  I tried really hard to play BlackJack  for a little while so I could ask Mr. Tavares to sign a puck for my Dad.  He did but I still felt sort of bad for him.  I would like to say that despite looking exhausted from a long night of entertaining fans, Mr. Tavares maintained a smile on his face the entire night & did his best to ensure every guest he met felt appreciated for helping to support the Islander’s Children’s Foundation.  As he was the most popular player there and likely the reason many people had bought tickets to the event, he’d been extremely bust the whole night.  I’d been watching him through the night (but not in a creepy way) and could tell he was getting a little fatigued towards the end, but he never turned anyone away and was super-nice to everyone, even people like me who weren’t really playing at his table but just pretending to for a few minutes to get his autograph (for my dad).

Once I cashed out my dad’s Casino dollars, I put few tickets in each of player baskets that had cool stuff.  I put 1 in John Tavares’s overflowing basket — just in case, but put most of them in Al Montoya’s basket b/c it had and autographed used stick.

We didn’t win any baskets but had a lot of fun at the event.  It was extremely well organized & entertaining.  Even the Islander players looked to be enjoying themselves while mingling with fans.  For the entire evening, the Islanders players were super friendly as they signed autographs & posed for pictures with guests.  My Dad especially enjoyed himself & continues to tell people about the event.  He appreciated the opportunity to meet Mike Bossy & Garth Snow but had the most fun being able to spend several hours playing poker with Michael Grabner.  As you can tell from the pictures,  I was excited to add 3 more goalie ‘graphs to my Warrior Swagger.

PS:  I’d also like to say we didn’t have any difficulty or access issues with my Dad’s wheelchair.  The valet people at the Inn provided assistance getting the wheelchair in and out of my car.  My heels were a bit higher than I normally wear so it was a little more difficult than it usually is but the valet attendants were extremely helpful.  Every aisles inside of the event room was wide enough to maneuver, the gaming tables were the right height for wheelchair accessibility and there wasn’t any area of the ballroom was in accessible or restricted from wheelchair access.  It is a very rare occasion that I’ve attended events with my dad and not had even a minor accessibility issue to some part of the event area, so I wanted to commend the New York Islanders, event organizers and staff at the New Hyde Inn for ensuring such ease of access to the entire event.

Additional Information:
This was the first Casino Night organized by the Islanders.  The event raised over $120,000 for the Islander’s Children’s Foundation.
Link to Photo Gallery of the Islanders Children’s Foundation Casino Night Event from Islanders Web Site:
http://islanders.nhl.com/club/gallery.htm?id=27406

Link to Islanders Children’s Foundation webpage with information on making a donation:
http://islanders.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=76888

PS:  Mr Grabner, Thank you so much for making this such an enjoyable event for my dad.  I told my dad to let you know we were from South Jersey and why we’d gone to Long Island b/c I didn’t want you or your teammates thinking I was stalking any of you if you happened to see us a few days later in Philadelphia, having just met all of you at your event in Long Island.

As I’d been slightly worried you’d find it strange seeing us in Long Island and then Philadelphia a few days later, you can imagine my concern over the extremely rare set of of circumstances that resulted in our sitting directly behind the Islanders player benches at a game in Tampa a few weeks later.  As well as the even stranger but entirely coincidental running into yourself with Mr. Okposo & Mr. Moulson having dinner in Tampa the night prior to that game.  I’m sure at some point in time, seeing the same person in several cities [especially while having dinner] might raise some concern so I wanted to explain the whole Tampa to make sure you knew that by no means was I stalking yourself or your fellow teammates.

My dad, uncle and grandpop went to Tampa for the Philly’s Spring Training.  During which time I’d been been forced to endure 3 afternoons of baseball.  If you’re not familiar with the sport, there’s no hitting, fighting OR cute goalies.  To be fair Chase Utley is sort of hot, but he’s not a goalie and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even at Spring Training that weekend.  As you probably know from visiting several times a year, while the beaches can be nice during the day, Tampa doesn’t have much of a nightlife.  Rather than spending our evenings in the hotel (being forced to watch Basketball — another boring sport with no hitting, fighting or cute players), I took it upon myself to buy tickets for everyone to the Saturday night Tampa Bay Lightning game.  As my uncle had planned the spring training even long before the NHL published their season schedule, it was pure coincidence your New York Islanders happened to be visiting that same weekend.

As I was buying tickets for the game, I became aware that most other NHL teams don’t have the same pricing tiers as that of the Philadelphia Flyers.  I’m fairly certain the last time ice row seats could be purchased for $100 for a hockey game in Philadelphia, I probably hadn’t been born yet.  So you can imagine my surprise and instant response to the opportunity to purchase extremely close-to-the-action seats for an NHL game for $100/ticket. The only section where there were 4 seats together happened to be behind the visiting team benches. If they’d had 4 seats by where the goalies play, I’d much rather have played there — no offense, but you can see I’m a big goalie fan.

It may also be difficult to believe but as I travel a lot for work, I’ve developed quite the fondness for extremely expensive Filet Mignon.  Thus I selected one of my favorite steakhouses in the Tampa to celebrate my grandpop’s birthday. I would like to point out that I had absolutely no knowledge you & your teammates would also be enjoying a meal at that fine establishment which I will not give the name of, so you can continue to enjoy peaceful meals when visiting the area.  Thus again it was entirely coincidental that we happened to pass by your table as my family was leaving.  As someone who appreciates a REALLY yummy steak, that chain of steakhouses just happened to be one of my favorites.

Interestingly enough, after we’d arrived at the steakhouse, my dad mentioned we were near the Yankees Spring Training facility (not something I was aware of when choosing the location to have dinner).  While I don’t personally have a fondness for the sport, I’d kept an eye out for Derek Jeter or A-Rod.  This is likely why I hadn’t even noticed you or your teammates until we were leaving. I apologize if we interrupted your dinner, I don’t like to do that to people but my Dad wanted  say hi because he remembered meeting you/  I also thought it would be a good idea if he explained the circumstances that would have us sitting behind you the next night so you’d know it was purely coincidental.  I was slightly concerned your seeing us in several various cities at this point would result in your asking security to escort us from the Tampa Bay Times Forum the following night upon seeing us seated directly behind you.

I hope you understand that while you’re certainly one of the more attractive players in the league, I was not in any way following or otherwise stalking you or your teammates in any way.  If I was going to stalk someone [which I am not nor have I ever considered] it would be a goaltender as you are probably aware by now, I have a thing for the masked me.

If you have a moment and scan through my posts, you’ll see that all the goalie ‘graphs I’ve collected have been at organized events, often charitable functions, where I pay / donate for each of the goalies’ autographs.

Note: Following the hockey game in Tampa, on the advice of some of the arena employees, I did wait outside the players parking lot with other fans in an attempt to obtain Dwayne Roloson’s ‘graph (as I couldn’t find any event in the are during the time we’d be there that he’d be signing at).  I would like to say that [a] i felt very uncomfortable in doing so [b] I met some of the people who actually DO stalk players — some of whom do not even like hockey — they just stalk celebrities and know WAY too much about their personal habits as they relate to arriving / leaving the arena [c] did not even get to see Dwayne Roloson before my dad, uncle & grandpop decided they no longer wanted to spend the evening standing outside the arena in the extremely humid evening Tampa weather.  [d] very much prefer waiting in line or attending events such as the one organized by the New York Islanders Charity Foundation to stalking hockey players outside the entrance of the arena.  My dad also agrees attending events / organized signings is a much better means of obtaining goalie ‘graphs moving forward.


Henrik Lundqvist – [Somewhere in] Yonkers, NY

Henrik Lundqvist – [Somewhere in] Yonkers, NY

I’d been trying for some time to get Carey Price’s ‘graph starting with a rescheduled Montreal-based signing back in October of last year.  The reschedule date was during the first week of January.  I was a little hesitant to buy plane tickets early since the October event had been rescheduled so I waited until it was closer to the event.  When I checked back later, the info now said the signing was somewhere out in Ontario.  It was really confusing but it turned out that the same day Carey was signing [wherever that turned out to be] Henrik Lundqvist would be at a signing in Yonkers, a few hours drive away [no plane tix needed].  I found someone to go with me to get Henrik Lundqvist’s goalie ‘graph on my stick and figured I’d try to get Carey’s another time.

I pre-paid for one autograph for my stick, but after we’d driven up there, I figured after spending the day driving up [and back] to Yonkers, between the tolls and gas and whatever else, maybe I should get something else signed.  When we got to the place he was signing, I started to root through my magic backpack [long story about the backpack] and managed to find a 2012 Winter Classic hockey puck.  I got the idea to have him sign on one side and later, at the Flyer’s Carnival that would be coming up a few weeks later, I could get Bob to sign the same puck.  Then I’d have both 2012 Winter Classic Goalies on a Winter Classic Puck.  How cool is that?

Since I’d only pre-paid for the one autograph for my stick, we had to wait in line a little longer to pay for the other autograph but it wasn’t too bad.  The autograph for the stick I think was $80 and the one for the puck was only $60].  I was a little worried about wearing a Flyer’s Tee in Ranger’s territory [Mr Lundqvist wasn’t the only Ranger signing that day] so I decided to compromise and I wore a 2012 Winter Classic Tee with the Flyers and Rangers on it.  [The Classic was just a few days before, so it was cool].  We were talking to some of the Rangers fans while we waited in line and they were pretty cool [even after we told them we were  from the Philly area.]

It seemed like a long wait but the entire signing event wasn’t more than 2 hours so it wasn’t actually a long time to wait.  When it was my turn, my friend took a pic of Mr Lundqvist adding his goalie ‘graph to my stick and then I was allowed to go around and get a picture with him.  I had him sign in Blue Marker since the Rangers are the Blueshirts.  My Lundqvist has a really cool looking goalie ‘graph, sort of like a pict-o-gram.  He signed right on the heel part of my Warrior stick.

Overall I thought the event [organized by Steiner Sports] was very well-organized and well run.  On the way back home we stopped at my FAVE pizza place in Manhattan [I know – Manhattan isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘on-the-way’ from Yonkers to South Jersey – but it was close enough].

I think Henrik’s goalie ‘graph is the coolest looking goalie ‘graph I’ve gotten.  🙂
Important Note: Just in case Mr. Brodeur happens to read this article, I would like to point out that I wrote this article PRIOR to obtaining Martin Brodeur’s goalie ‘graph on my stick.  So the above line should actually read :
“I think Henrik’s goalie ‘graph is the coolest looking goalie ‘graph I’ve gotten [to date].  :)”


Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky [Bob] – Meet the Team Event [Season Ticket Holders]

Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei [Bob] Bobrovsky

The easiest goalie ‘graphs to get were from Ilya and Bob since they’re here in Philly [Before Bob had to leave for Columbus].  The Flyers have a ‘Meet the Team’ Event for season ticket holders every year.  Bob and Ilya were in the same group so we were able to get both of their ‘graphs at the same time.  One of the staff members escorted us up to the club level so my dad could access the autograph with his wheelchair.  Wayne Simmonds [not a goalie] was in the same group — he signed pucks for me and my Dad].  I wanted to have Bob and Ilya sign in the pretty gold oil paint marker.  I thought since they’re my hometown goalies, they’re ‘graphs would look cool in gold.  I’d try to get the other ‘graphs in the goalies’ team color sharpie markers.  [Except teams with yellow colors since that won’t show up well.]

Ilya came over to where my dad and I were with a black sharpie all ready in his hand.  I tried to give him my gold paint pen and asked him to sign with that, but he said black would look better on the white stick, then signed with the sharpie he’d been holding.  Bob didn’t mind signing with the pretty gold paint pen.   Since players were only signing autographs at that time I couldn’t get a picture with them signing thegoaliestick but I did get photos with Bob and Ilya [and Kimmo, ‘Roo, Reader & Rinny] a few months later at the Flyers Carnival.]

Here’s pics with Bob & Ilya from the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Charity Carnival :

[BTW: I still think the gold color looks way cooler then the black sharpie but WHATever].


Antti Niemi Goalie ‘Graph – National Card Show in Chicago

Antti Niemi Goalie ‘Graph – National Card Show in Chicago

The first goalie ‘graph I got for my stick was Antti Niemi. He was going 2 be signing at the National Card Show in Chicago last summer, so my Dad and I flew out there for a day to get his autograph. [And some cool hockey cards]. I also bought a pic with him while we were there. It wasn’t digital so I had 2 scan it, but the colors look a little off. The actual pic doesn’t look as washed out. Antti was REALLY big and REALLY hot looking. My dad disagreed as he wasn’t too impressed with Antti’s wardrobe selection considering the price of the autographs [$80] and photos [$40]. [In addition to VIP admission to the Show etc]. My dad didn’t get that tee shirt had his name on it. I’d also rather see players looking comfortable than in stuffy suits [unless they’re comfortable wearing stuffy suits] Besides, as I explained to my dad, at $40 a photo, the Sharks goaltender has to put on a bug smile while posing next to a chick in a Flyers tee shirt. How many people can say they have a photo of a goaltender smiling next to a Flyers fan? My Dad thinks [based on other women’s opinions not his own] that Henrik is the hottest goaltender. Don’t get me wrong, Henrik’s a good-looking guy, but I tend to shy away from the GQ type. Nemo has that bigger frame and a little bit of a ‘bad boy’ look I go for somtimes.

After the photos, we got in line 2 wait for Antti to sign my goalie stick. We didn’t have 2 wait in line too long.  Since the zig-zag pattern roping off the line wasn’t ADA compliant [my dad needs a wheelchair when we go places that there’s a lot of walking], someone escorted us to the back of the autograph section where we got Antti to sign my stick for me. He signed in a pretty Silver Oil-Based Paint pen.  I picked out the silver since he’d be the first to add his goalie ‘graph to thgoaliestick.