So with all of the season ending recaps, I started looking back at the past season and my trips and interviews. Since I try to be Miss Positive around here, why not share with you some of my favourite games and moments from this past season as we anticipate the 2011 NHL entry draft. If you will be heading down there, make sure to look out for me and say hello!
I had the pleasure of seeing Edmonton Oilers games in Raleigh North Carolina against the Carolina Hurricaines, in Detroit Michigan against the Red Wings, in St. Paul Minnesota against the Wild, and Denver Colorado against the Avalanche.
Each and every arena is a different experience in and to itself so I have different reasons for liking or not liking each arena. Overall, my favourite experience was the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul Minnesota. The arena is new and spacious, central and friendly. The glass was easy to view the game through and the fans were absolutely incredible. I can hardly wait to get back there and see my new friends for the entry draft. A very close second was of course the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, complete with Theo Peckham or Teddy Peckman's first NHL goal. The arena was magical in many ways, the fans were friendly and their singing along with the music in the arena was something I will never forget.
There were of course several games in Edmonton and Calgary. Of the Calgary games I am going to say the Oilers first game in Calgary where Magnus Paajarvi scored his first NHL goal for me at my request had to be the best. No, the Oilers did not beat the Flames. Had they, that would be my favourite Oilers game of the season. Hands down.
I had not only the pleasure of watching several Oilers prospects play this season, but also interviewing them. I was fortunate enough to make trips to Edmonton, Red Deer and even Medicine Hat to catch up with players. They are all gems in their own ways, but I did of course have a few favourite interviews.
For the WHL and Edmonton Oilers prospects, Tyler Bunz has to be my favourite to speak with. Bunz is clearly comfortable with the media and is looking forward to his bright future. Bunz came from behind the pack to be ranked the second best goalie in the WHL and despite a concussion suffered at the beginning of the WHL playoffs, lead his team past the Red Deer Rebels, and helped hold his team together despite being swept by Drew Czerwonka and the Kootenay Ice. Bunz was invited to the Team Canada junior hockey camp this summer. Of course we wish him luck.
In terms of the AHL, my favourite interview was with Oklahoma City Baron Colin McDonald despite the fact that he is no longer an Oilers' prospect. McDonald was honest and open and definitely won me over. After his season with the Barons, I hope that the Oilers will give him another look. If not, I want McDonald to make the NHL, to find a team where he can be successful. McDonald also made himself popular with Barons fans who will no doubt be disappointed if McDonald does not return.
Zack Stortini was another favourite interview, and I do want to characterize him as an NHLer, but he did end his season in the AHL. Stortini is heavily involved in his community, wherever he is. Stortini has worked hard to make it as far as he has, and you know that he is not about to give up and accept anything. The Oilers appear to have moved in a different direction, but Stortini should be able to find other work in the NHL.
What can I say, this one is a clear cut easy winner. Of course my favourite game of the year has to be the home opener, the first game of the season. The excitement and electricity over Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi's first NHL regular season games. Then of course there was the game itself. The mere memories of Eberle's goal and the win over those Flames kept me going when times got tough, and feelings were low at the end of the season. If only my boy Paajarvi had scored a hat trick here like he had during the pre-season, but then I wouldn't have any positive memories from games in Calgary now would I?
So there you have it. A reminder once again that this season was not all bad, and there are more things to come.