Toledo Walleye Hockey
This was actually one of my Christmas gifts last year. David thought I needed a Walleye mug to support our minor league hockey t3eam in Toledo to go with my Mud Hens mug. It made good sense to support both our minor league baseball team and hockey team, but there was one little oddity. I’ve seen the Hens play baseball more times than I can fount at both the old and new stadium. I’d seen the Toledo hockey team once at home in the old arena and once on the road in Dayton. They were the Storm then. I’d never seen the Walleye play!
That was until yesterday (Sunday February 26.) I’d gotten an email from the Northwestern Ohio Chapter of the National MS Society offering a free ticket to me and $5 tickets for my immediate family members to the Toledo Walleye game on February 26, the MS Awareness game. The event included t-shirts, luncheon and a raffle ticket for a gift card to the team shop. We didn’t win the raffle, which is okay because I already had the mug
During lunch the kids, all right and the adults too, were entertained by a slew of mascots from the “Mascot Mania” festivities. Spike, the Walleye mascot, made an appearance at the end of lunch, just before he left to put his skates on for the game. Paws, the Detroit Tigers’ mascot was there, as were the Mud Hens’ mascots, Muddy and Muddonna. Clementine, The News Hound, from our local newspaper, The Toledo Blade, was also in mascot attendance as well as favorite Toledoan "zooperstars," Jamie Farrmadillo, Jim Flealand and Kitty Holmes. It was a pretty cool event.
After lunch we went up the elevator to the main floor and fo8und our seats. I break here to say that, as a person of wheels, I LOVE new arenas with family/accessible rest rooms! I think of places where the handicap stalls really don’t have room for a wheelchair and a person in them and I just love those rooms where you wheel in, have room to turn around and lock the door and maneuver however you need to use the facilities. The diaper changing table is on a wall with enough room for a Mom or Dad to change a diaper without being pressed up against the opposite wall and to safely have an older brother or sister in the room instead of outside the stall. And if you leave the changing table down, it doesn’t decapitate the next person using a wheelchair when they come in. Yay Huntington Center and all the awesome new arenas! They have family restrooms at all the newer ball parks I’ve been to as well!
Back to our seat…
The NMSS group took up a full section, including the top wheelchair row. Sadly, I’m not the only one with MS who uses wheels at events. I did feel bad for David, though. I was the only one in a manual chair. David pushes so I can save my arms for things like the bathroom! But a power chair or scooter, in addition to being very expensive, also takes refitting one vehicle or another to transport it; another expense. Even from the top row, we had a great view.
The game started with the announcing of the starting lineup. Spike skated trough the mouth of a giant inflatable walleye head with a walleye flag. Then the members of the staring lineup came through as they were announced followed by the charge of the rest of the team. After the inflatable walleye was taken off the ice and the national anthem was sung, play began.
Then play stopped. The firs6t “fight” happened seconds into the game. I’m not a big hockey fan because of the “fighting.” I was a professional wrestling fan. That’s where you go if you’re hockey skills are lacking, but you handle the fight scripts well. I saw a few real fights when I was a kid. At least they seemed real to me then, nowhere near as fake as hockey fighting is now. I watched two guys hug each other and take pansy-punches at each other’s shoulders, trying to make it look like a hit in the head, but they missed by a Hulk Hogan’s rookie year mile. Maybe it’s the other way around. If you can’t cut it in professional wrestling, you learn how to skate.
I know, I know, a lot of people go to see the “fights.” I played hockey as a kid. I want to see a well-played game. The saddest thing is, when they weren’t fighting, there was some skill. The unfortunate part of that was it was mostly Cincinnati Cyclones really showing off hockey skills. That’s not to say that there weren’t some pretty Walleye plays, but the Cyclones’ passing game is pretty! The third period seemed to go so fast! The Walleye carried a 5-1 lead into the last period and barely escaped with a 5-4 win! But they did win after a few games losing streak, it was nice to be there for that.
So that was my first Walleye game. It was a fun event and I’ll no doubt go again, but not likely until after I’ve been to a countless few Mud Hens games first.