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Vulgar Opinions: My Best Moments At HSBC / The First Niagara Center (NSFW)

09/07/12

I think most of you know by now that I just moved from Syracuse, NY to Seattle, WA.  So while I hope that my attendance at Sabres games won’t completely disappear, the days of ten game minipacks and buying an additional five games off stubhub are gone.  I therefore thought it would be fun to reflect on my best moments in that building.  In chronological order…

In Which Mike Ryan Scores Off Ray Emery’s Back And No One Is Terribly Impressed Because It’s Ray Fucking Emery

Date: January 4th, 2008

Score: Senators – 5, Sabres – 3

Recap:  Probably the only loss that will make this list, but you always remember your first.  It was the first game after the Winter Classic, and the Sabres bumbled their way to a three goal deficit before remembering Ray Emery was in net.  Kotalik scored on a sick feed from Vanek, Hecht scored on the power play on a sick feed from Vanek, and then Mike Ryan had the one moment where he showcased the one skill that made him kind of, but not really an NHL player.  He picked the puck up in the left wing corner, beat the defenseman skating around behind the net, threw it at Ray Emery from the goal line and…wait, what happened?  Ray Emery happened.

Mike Ryan at 3:52

And then the Senators top line scored twice and screw Dany Heatley.

 

HOLY CRAP RICHARD ZEDNIK IS DYING!

Date: February 10th, 2008

Score: Sabres – 5, Panthers – 3

Recap: My first Sabres win would be overshadowed by a guy nearly getting his head chopped off less than thirty feet in front of me.  I was in row 6 in what I have now dubbed ‘The Richard H. Zednik Memorial Decapitation Corner.’  (It’s not offensive because he survived.)  (Odd note, I am something like 8-0-1 when watching games in the RHZDMC.)  The twenty-ish minutes of dead fucking silence when Zednik was taken off the ice and then to the hospital until it was reported that he was in stable condition were among the most uncomfortable in existence.  Though some members of the Panthers have said otherwise, I think continuing the game was the right decision.  Zednik was in the hands of some wonderful Buffalo medical personnel, better for the rest of us to distract our minds while they worked.

 

Thomas Vanek Begins His Personal Mission To Destroy The Tampa Bay Lightning

Date: March 19th, 2008

Score: Sabres – 7, Lightning – 4

Recap: Like the aforementioned Senators game, I went to this one with my friend Britt.  We were in the last row in section 309, in front of one of those odd concrete shelf things.  As the Sabres went down 4-1 late in the second we decided, fuck it, let’s stand on the shelf and be dicks.  Jason Pominville tipped in a Paul Gaustad faceoff win (seriously), and then Thomas Vanek happened.  First Vanek possessed Jochen Hecht, because we all know the real Jochen Hecht would have put the puck on net from the goal line instead of wandering into the slot like some kind of goal scorer.  (What an asshole.)  Then Vanek scored three of the Vanekiest Vanek goals ever.  First he tipped in a shot taken by Derek Roy from the left half boards.  Then he pulled one of his “I’m standing in the slot and I know exactly where to slide the puck at 5 miles per hour to score a goal” moves.  Finally he forechecked a Lightning defender into coughing up the puck and Kari Ramo decided that the best place to put a Derek Roy shot was three feet up in the air on the open side.  Vanek makes the ensuing bat-in look so easy I’m not sure he was even awake.  (Which honestly didn’t matter at all because the Lightning defense decided the best place for Vanek was completely alone next to the goaltender.)  Finally he returned Jochen Hecht’s body to Jochen Hecht and 55 put in an empty netter from about six feet off the goal line by the boards.

Pictured: Shenanigans

 

So Begins The Birthday Run

Date: November 12th, 2008

Score: Sabres – 4, Blues – 3

Recap: The Sabres are 4-0-0 in games I’ve attended as a birthday present to myself.  (My birthday is November 12th.)  This relatively boring game was the first, and also my dad’s first game and win in the ‘new’ arena.  Buffalo scored three goals in the first 5:18 to chase Manny Legace and then proceeded to shit the bed for the rest of the game en route to a 4-3 win.  This was also the first year of my mini-pack, in which the Sabres went 3-6-1, and didn’t even look like they were on the ice at any point for most of the losses.

Everybody do the Tallinder

 

Teppo’s Last Game

Date: April 11th, 2009

Score: Sabres – 6, Bruins – 1

Recap:  I think if your first three Sabres games ever are a 3-0 loss to Cam Ward, a 3-0 loss to Martin Biron and a completely forgettable 5-3 loss to New Jersey, you probably kill yourself.  Luckily my sister hung in there and got to see the Sabres tear Boston a new one in the only Sabres game I’ve ever watched that meant nothing.  (They had been mathematically eliminated from the postseason.)  It was nuts.  Teppo Numminen bounced a point shot in off someone, Matt Ellis had two points and scored an actual skilled hockey goal and Thomas Vanek hit 40.  And the Butler did it.

 

My Name Is Petr Prucha, And This Is Jackass

Date: October 8th, 2009

Score: Sabres – 2, Coyotes – 1

Recap: I started celebrating the game winning goal before it happened.  Thomas Vanek was left all alone in the slot with the puck on the right side giving him a free one timer off the pass.  Somehow Jason LaBarbera made 37 fucking saves and generally looked like a superstar.  The 09-10 season was the best season for me as I saw the Sabres go 6-1-3 in my minipack.  Also this happened:

 

Patrick Lalime’s 200th, And Final Win

Date: March 27th, 2010

Score: Sabres – 7, Lightning – 1

Recap: I always liked Patrick Lalime, even when he was completely frustrating me as an NHL goaltender, mostly because he never really got a fair shot from the fans in Buffalo.  (Seriously, read some of my previous articles on him from that era.  He had close to the worst goal support in the NHL.)  So it was great to see the Sabres blow the doors off the Tampa Bay Lightning for him for win #200.  It has probably been forgotten by many, but this was also the game in which the Sabres clinched a playoff spot.  So the last two times the Sabres made the playoffs, Ryan Miller was on the bench for most to all of the clincher.  Hmm…

 

Divisiowned

Date: April 6th, 2010

Score: Sabres – 5, Rangers – 2

Recap: I have been at both the first and last home win each of the past three seasons, and every single ‘clinch’ game within that span.  The Sabres traded goals with the Rangers in a wild 2-2 first period, scored the go-ahead shortly after, and then John Tortorella thought the fighting-for-a-playoff-spot Rangers were better off with Alex Auld in net than Henrik Lundqvist.  Game.  Set.  Match.  Although since Lundqvist completely choked in the do-or-die game versus Philadelphia later on that season, he may have been right.  God Henrik Lundqvist sucks.

After watching the Sabres completely shit the bed in every game she attended in my first mini-pack season, it was nice to have the Sabres go undefeated (in regiulation) for her the second season.  Also, this happened:

 

LOLtby

Date: November 13th, 2011

Score: Sabres – 3, Capitals – 2 (OT)

Recap: About those birthday games…  There is a little bit of back story to this.  A few nights previous, the Sabres had biffed away a game against the Rangers that Thomas Vanek took most of the blame for when he gave Roy a can’t miss pass to the open side of the net where all Roy basically had to do was touch the puck.  Roy missed, the Sabres lost, and it was Vanek’s fault.  YOU WANT HIM TO SHOOT THERE!  If you played the ensuing whiner line in front of the US government, no one would ever vote against abortion again.  Frustrations had mounted as the Sabres had yet to win a game at home a month and a half into the season.  For my birthday I was going to get a Sabres jersey (one of the gorgeous new whites) and had narrowed my choice down to Leopold, McCormick, or Vanek.  That everyone hated Vanek at that point in time cemented my decision.  Right before the game I picked up a shiny new white Vanek jersey before having to run to my seat in row 2 of the 100s in the Sabres-shoot-twice end.  The rest, as they say, is history…

Yes, it’s mine.

 

Something Finally Usurps the first Lightning Game in Cray Cray

Date: January 1st, 2011

Score: Sabres – 7, Bruins – 6 (SO)

Recap: My other sister’s first win…in something like her sixth try.  Also the last game she would see before traveling to Spain for six months.  The score was 4-3 after the first, Drew Stafford scored yet another hattrick with under a minute to play and the shootout took place with empty nets.  Seriously…five goals and a missed shot.  The outcome would have been the same with no one in net.  Tukka Rask was slamming shit around and got pulled.  Tim Thomas was talking to himself and/or the ghost of Ronald Reagan and Tyler Ennis made a sick move that cause Thomas to hit his head on the crossbar, forever destroying whatever mental block was keeping his crazy at bay.

 

And Not Because of Hockey

Date: January 13th, 2011

Score: Sabres – 3, Hurricanes – 2

Recap: Purely selfish here as this was my first date with my current partner.  You know, the one I moved to Washington with.  The game itself was as unspectacular as they come, your generic 3-2 hockey game.

 

The Franchise Changes

Date: February 23rd, 2012

Score: Sabres – 4, Thrashers – 1

Recap: I was literally crying in the stands.  Seriously, between the music, the French Connection, and everyone understanding what it meant to the franchise, it was surreal.  I can’t believe anyone in Buffalo could concentrate on hockey that night.  Somehow the Sabres did and blew out a lackluster Atlanta team.  I’ve had a lot of good games I was ‘accidentally’ at thanks to my mini pack.  This was one of them.

 

CLINCHED!

Date: April 8th, 2011

Score: Sabres – 4, Flyers – 3 (OT)

Recap: The 11-12 season was a crazy one.  From the depths of the Eastern Conference to a playoff spot in a matter of weeks along with the emergence of Terry Pegula.  I don’t know how we made it through without succumbing to one collective heart attack as a sports city.  For me, this was the pinnacle of the season, vindicating everything that had happened in the prior months, and knowing that with Pegula at the helm, we were better off for the future.

 

“This is the only place I wanted to be!”

Date: November 8th, 2011

Score: Sabres – 6, Jets (Thrashers) – 5 (OT)

Recap: In which Rick Jeanneret and Dale Hawerchuk sword fought at center ice.  Seeing Rick Jeanneret get inducted to the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in person was special.  Like the Pegula game, I thought there was no way the on ice action would match that feeling.  Unlike the Pegula game, it did.  Coming off a series of poor performances, Ryan Miller would let in a 5-spot, or as he put it, “we’re going to do this again eh?”

Never have I seen a defense so thoroughly shit the bed as the Sabres did that evening.  They couldn’t account for anybody.   Every Jets (thrashers) rush up the ice, one defenseman would take the puck carrier and the other would stare at the back of Gerbe’s jersey contemplating the meaning of life.  There were so many wide open Jets it was ridiculous.  Dustin Byfuglien’s fat ass had a breakaway.  That’s like letting Drew Bledsoe rush for a hundred yards.  Luckily they’re the Jets, so at no point was anyone worried the Sabres would actually lose, especially when said Jets seemed hell bent on marching to the penalty box like the bunch of butthurt third line rejects they are.  Seriously, the Sabres had 12 fucking powerplay opportunities, and since butthurt rejects can’t kill penalties, they capitalized on five of them.  This was also the only good game Derek Roy played as a Sabre, probably because his bitch-diving actually served a purpose.

And what did I say about birthday games?  That’s right.

 

Did That Just Happen?  The Finale

Date: April 3rd, 2012

Score: Sabres – 6, Maple Leafs – 5 (OT)

Recap: The current record holder for the most ‘what the fuck’ game I’ve ever seen.  Marcus Foligno knocked Carl Gunnarsson into orbit, the Sabres crapped their way to a 3 goal deficit.  Alexander Sulzer pretended he was a forward, lack of defense included, Tim Connolly still managed to suck in a game where his team practically scored infinity goals, and Jordan Leopold scored the stupidest goal I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, it looks like the NHL glitched for approximately 20 seconds.  The only thing this goal is missing is Marcus Foligno getting up and humping Mike Komisarek’s face.

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