NHL FAN FEST AND A HISTORY LESSON PART ONE

This was one, no the main reason why the Sports Diva did a 30 Plus Teams Tour of Las Vegas.

Usually my trips to Las Vegas are twice a year, February and June.

This year there was a real reason to go to Vegas at this time and it had NOTHING to do with gambling.

If you know the Sports Diva, you know that my mottos are, “Staying home is NOT an option”, and my favorite one, “Have a hockey team, will travel.”

Las Vegas does have a hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights and from February 4-5, they and the city of Las Vegas hosted the NHL All Star game and Fan Fest, which was at the Las Vegas Convention Center and ran from Thursday February 3 until Sunday February 6.

The All Star game was on Saturday February 5, but by the time it came on at 4pm, Eastern time, the Sports Diva was back in New York City.

The Skills Competition has always been my favorite but more about it in another post.

I was ready for two days at convention center for Fan Fest.

It didn’t happen, I only ended up seeing one day of Fan Fest, but that was okay by me.

It was fun seeing all things hockey, including the antics of the mascots from many of the teams including the host mascot, Chance, who is a lizard or as they call them in Nevada, Gila Monsters.

What I didn’t expect, though, was a history lesson on hockey.

The first exhibit as you walked into the west hall of the convention center past the banners of all 32 NHL teams was the exhibit showing the contribution to hockey by not just blacks but women and Native Americans (or First Nations, as they’re refered to in Canada as well.)

I saw names of players that I remembered watching over the years and players that I didn’t even know were black or Indigenous.

I wish this exhibit had been bigger or had as long a line as the line to see the Stanley Cup did.

RIDING ON THE NEW JERSEY TRANSIT

When I go to a New Jersey Devils hockey game like I did last night, October 1st, I normally take the New York City subway, F train from Queens to 33rd or 23rd street and take the PATH train to Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey, which is across the street from Prudential Center.

This time, I tried something different.

I took a Long Island Railroad train from my station, Locust Manor to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station in New York and took a train that I haven’t taken in years.

It was a New Jersey Transit train and the final stop for me was Penn Station in Newark.

The train is cheaper than taking the PATH train and it’s faster.

I was able to get a senior rate, something that I really don’t get on the PATH Train.

It was $2.45 each way and as I said it’s faster.

Roughly 15-20 minutes from New York Penn Station to Newark Penn Station, with a stop in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The PATH train takes about an hour, making many stops in New York City on the way to Journal Square in Jersey City.

After that, you have to change and take the train to Newark, with a stop in Harrison, New Jersey before you even get to Newark.

Don’t need to tell you how tiring that is.

Plus it’s $2.75 each way, without a senior rate.

It stops at the same place as the New Jersey Transit train does, but whereas the PATH train’s final stop is Newark, the New Jersey Transit train’s final stop could be ANYWHERE in New Jersey or even Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Both trains stop at tracks next to each other, so don’t get confused.

Now that I have a new and faster way to do a 30 Plus Teams Tour of the place they call, “The Garden State”, I’m surely going to take advantage of it.

ACTING THE FOOL IN LAS VEGAS

One of the reasons I went to do a 30 Plus Teams Tour in Las Vegas was because the local NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights was playing in the semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens.

Now they didn’t win the game but it gave me a chance to get together with some of my fellow hockey people from Las Vegas, who I hadn’t seen since March 2020 when we were all together for yes, another hockey game in Las Vegas.

Hey, the Sports Diva doesn’t play around when it comes to her sports watching and getting together with other sports loving peeps.

Now even though my “seat” was standing room and it was the hockey semifinals, it cost $75, which seems like a lot, but trust me, in New York City, at Madison Square Garden, we’d LOVE to pay only $75 for standing room, let alone a seat.

It was hard to say goodbye to my fellow Sports Divas, but thank God for social media, where we can keep the memories going of acting the fool in Las Vegas, and that’s a good thing.

WHERE I AM

This isn’t a long blog post today because just too much is going on.

Will talk about my flight on Jet Blue in another post.

But right now where did my suitcases and I end up?

Some people guessed Miami, others Los Angeles.

The answer is a place that I hadn’t been to in a year.

VEGAS BABY!

They’ll be lots of craziness going on because the Vegas Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup hockey semifinals and you just know that Sports Diva just has to be there, even if I don’t go to a game at TMobile Arena.

Enjoy my journey, it’s gonna be “lit”

CUTTING DOWN THE BUCKET LIST

Of all the 136 things left to do on my bucket list, this is one of the things that I really wanted to do more than anything else.

No, it’s not seeing Mount Rushmore, Pearl Harbor, the Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam.

It wasn’t even taking a ride on the High Roller in Las Vegas or a ride on all the streetcars in New Orleans.

It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for three years, but for some reason, never got the chance.

On March 1, I finally got the chance to do number 115 on my list.

Going to a Vegas Golden Knights hockey game.

From the moment you enter the building affectionately known as ‘The Fortress’, the TMobile Arena, which is located right behind New York New York Hotel and Casino and right next door to Park MGM, you get the feeling that you’re in for something completely different than any sporting event that you’ve ever been to.

It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting behind the glass, the benches, high up in the nose bleed seats or like me, watching the game from Hyde TMobile Arena, located on the very top of the arena, you can see all of the action going on down on the ice.

Hyde does have standing room, but if you get there early enough, you can sit next to your closest friends on couches.

There’s big screen tv’s where you watch the action as well if you can’t get close enough to the seats near the ice.

This is Vegas, peeps.

You’re going to get a little entertainment while watching the NHL’s newest team.

It might be the DJ spinning tunes up at Hyde between periods, members of the Cirque Du Solei performing on the ice between periods, the Vegas Vivas, the team cheerleaders taking pictures with fans before, during and after the game, Chance, the team mascot entertaining the crowd with his antics or even the team announcer, who whips up VGK Nation into a frenzy BEFORE the game starts.

I have been a hockey fan since 1967 and I have never experienced anything like I saw in Las Vegas.

It didn’t even matter that the team lost to their rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, that night.

I was finally happy after three years crossing seeing a Vegas Golden Knights game off my bucket list.

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FAN FEST TIME WITH THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS

This is a 30 Plus Teams Tour after all, and the Sports Diva is making the most of it.

On the last day of February , the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team had their annual Fan Fest at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

This year was different , though

Normally, the players meet and greet the fans.

Not this year.

Even though they never mentioned it, concerns about the Coronavirus might have had something to do with why the players didn’t interact with many of the fans , even seasons ticket holders.

However, fans did interact with the team mascot, Chance, the cheerleaders , known as the Vegas Vivas, the team play by play broadcasters and the in game entertainment people.

There were some Golden Knights players though, and while they were on stage, many of us loved the games that they played.

How well do you know your teamate, Vegas Golden Knights Family Feud, and other games were played by the players as well as a Question and answer session with the coach and new players .

Now what would a fan fest be without some swag and of course, the Sports Diva was happy .

A Team Sports Apparel Fashionista ALWAYS needs new swag.

Even though this fan fest was different, a good time in Vegas was had by all .

FAN GIRLING AT THE PLAYERS LOCKER

It’s located in Downtown Summerlin, a suburb of Las Vegas, right near the City National Arena, practice arena of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team.

The restaurant, called The Players Locker, is owned by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck and five of his closest friends in Las Vegas named Deryk Engelland, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, Reilly Smith and Shea Theodore.

Did I mention that his five closest friends just happen to play for the Vegas Golden Knights?

When you first walk into the restaurant, which opened for business in early February, not only will you see the five jerseys of the players, but this is a sports bar after all, so expect to see a big screen tv right in the middle of the restaurant showing some kind of sporting event.

The food, which isn’t expensive at all, are foods that you would find at a sports bar, but with a twist.

Some of them are named for the players or are foods that the players enjoyed either at home in Canada, Sweden, or the United States.

However, bring your appetite with you because the portions are HUMONGUS!

I couldn’t finish my loaded Nachos.

Thank God I didn’t order them with Chicken or Steak.

Someone would have had to carry me out of the restaurant.

I went with three of my Vegas friends right after we left practice.

Imagine our reaction when one of the players came in.

Talk about the Sports Diva and her posse losing their ever loving minds.

#MajorFanGirling

All of us were fanning ourselves after we left the restaurant.

Did I mention that he was one of the owners and just happened to be the favorite player of all four of us?

#TeamAlexTuchAllDay

If you happen to be in the Summerlin area while in Las Vegas, (Red Rock area is also nearby), have lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch at The Players Locker.

Who knows, you might just see one of the owners there.

Just don’t be that Fan girl or Fan guy.

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STANDING IN LINE AT MIKE ‘ S PASTRY

This bake shop in Boston was founded in 1946 in the North End by Mike Mercogliano.

Hence the name, Mike’s Pastry.

The bakery sells cookies, pies, cakes, gelato, but it’s their assorted canolis that locals and tourists stand in line for in front of the bakery that’s located at 300 Hanover Street .

The bakery is opened everyday at 8am, but on Fridays and Saturdays , they stay open until 11pm instead of 10pm on the other nights .

Don’t even think of busting out that Visa or Master Card to pay for those gut busting desserts.

Cash only here, my peeps .

They will even ship your goodies for you to enjoy wherever you are in the United States by UPS on Mondays, Wednesday , and Thursday .

Now about that standing in line business .

Once you enter the store, which has more room than you imagine , the service is very fast, but just know what you want before the cashier takes your order, and if you want to, leave a tip.

These cashiers work hard to get everyone out and on their way to enjoy these goodies .

Besides the store in the North End, which is Boston ‘ s Little Italy , they have stores in Harvard Square in Cambridge , and Assembly Square in Somerville , Massachusetts .

You can tell someone went to the bakery by the distinctive blue and white box that says, Mike’s Pastry splashed all over it.

My friend and I waited for canolis , which are huge, and other pastries for about half an hour maybe.

While waiting , we struck up a conversation with the couple behind us, who were from Toronto and were in town not only for the baseball game , but the football game in Foxboro as well.

Me, of course, being the Sports Diva, just had to do one of the things that she loves best, talk about sports, especially baseball and hockey .

( Shoutout to Anthony and Sarah , btw, and I hope you both make it to Madison Square Garden to see a New York Rangers hockey game, even if you both are Toronto Maple Leafs fans , lol)

What did I get?

I got three of the pastries that Mike’s is famous for.

Canolis.

One regular , one Amaretto , and one Limoncello .

Sorry, not sorry, but three weren’t enough, but I didn’t get more.

Boston isn’t that far from New York City , so I can always get more or even have them delivered to me.

If you happen to do your own 30 Plus Teams Tour of Boston , make a trip down to Mike’s Pastry .

Your stomach might be sorry but not your wallet.

GOOD RIDDANCE 2018, HELLO 2019

In a few hours, 2018 will be a distant memory and 2019 will be here .

Most people will be having big parties, watching the ball drop in Times Square in New York City .

I will be one of those who will be eating, drinking and definately sleeping when midnight brings in 2019.

On New Year’s Eve day, however, the Sports Diva will be doing what she does no matter what time or year it is.

I’m going to another sporting event .

I’m going to be bringing in the new year , sort of, with my crazy and lovable members of my New Jersey Devils Posse that I mentioned in one of my most recent posts .

I hope all of you have a joyous and safe New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

I pray that 2019 is a great year for all of us.

GETTING TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS NO MATTER WHAT THE SEASON IS.

It’s less than a week before Christmas .

Don’t ask me if all my Christmas shopping has been done.

It hasn’t .

As for all those Christmas cards that I used to like to send out to friends and family after Thanksgiving .

Nope, that’s not happening this year.

As a matter of fact , the older I get, the less and less I feel about doing anything that has to do with Christmas .

This includes buying presents for everyone under the sun and mailing and giving out Christmas cards .

I really haven’t been in the Christmas spirit for a long time now and as I mentioned in one of my posts on my favorite holiday, it sure wasn’t Christmas .

What I do like to do though, not only at Christmas, but anytime, is getting together with people that I haven’t seen in a long time.

I don’t get to see these people that often because most of them live in New Jersey, not New York City like I do.

I call them affectionately, “My New Jersey Devils Posse “.

That’s right, you guessed it.

If they’re friends of the Sports Diva , some kind of sporting event is happening because they’re sports fans too, usually hockey and baseball, my two favorite sports.

This particular crew just happen to be fans of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

The only time I really see them is, of course, when I’m doing a 30 Plus Teams Tour of Newark, New Jersey .

Even though they love a different hockey team than I do , the Sports Diva always has a wild and crazy time with this crew, male and female.

We all tell stories about our families, friends, travels to other arenas to see our teams, ( this is a 30 Plus Teams Tour , duh!)the latest trade rumors, and dare I say it, HOCKEY GOSSIP!

Of course, no get together with my crew would be complete without some smack talk between us.

It’s fun, but not mean spirited.

In between periods of the game, there’s always time for a group photo, which is so much fun and I LOVE IT !

We can’t take serious pictures, so we all just act the fool.

Good times definately!

Being around my crew makes me realize that no matter what the holiday is or what the sports season is, friends, even if they aren’t close, are very special .

Thank you God for these guys, My New Jersey Devils Posse .