Lake Erie Monsters Opener: An Eye-Witness Account

Last night, the Lake Erie Monsters kicked off their 2013-14 AHL season against the Abbotsford Heat at Quicken Loans Arena. Yours truly was in attendance since tickets were cheap and they were serving enough dollar hot dogs to keep my fat face smiling (until the nausea set in).

Here’s a recap of the action:

Pre-Game: There is a group of about a dozen people sitting in the two rows below us that look like they were rejected from Duck Dynasty. One guy looks like Bray Wyatt stole Blues Traveler’s hat and weight problems. They have a friend with them who is the epitome of the American stereotype. He’s wearing an American Flag bandana (red flag #1), already has a mostly empty beer (red flag #2), and a blank Atlanta Thrashers jersey with his name taped on the back (red flag #3). I already hate these people.

Captain Stereotype continues to live up to his appearance by loudly singing derogatory things during the Canadian national anthem (“What the **** is a maple leaf?” “Canada sucks!”) and then getting overly into the Star Spangled Banner. I hope he takes a header down the stairs soon.

First period: The Monsters come out flying from the start, fast and physical. The Heat look totally flat and flustered by the energy of the Monsters. Stefan Elliott, who many felt should’ve started the year in Colorado, flashed just why they felt that by leading an end to end rush, putting a shot off the pad of Reto Berra, leading to a Bryan Lerg rebound goal.

Apr 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Stefan Elliott (46) chases down Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin (25) during the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The pressure continued as Garrett Meurs stole a pass around the Heat blueline, broke in alone only to be hooked setting up a penalty shot.  I don’t care what level of hockey you’re watching, a live penalty shot is awesome every time. Unless you’re apart of the Trailer Park group in front of me, where you’re confused what’s happening and just angry when Meurs hits the post on his attempt. “SCORE A ****ING GOAL,” shouts Mr.Wyatt.

Later in the first, everyone got what they wanted: a fight. And by “everyone”, I mean “anyone who only shows up for fights.” I hate those people so much. It’s just people screaming obscenities and yelling “yeah” over and over again. They don’t have much to add. Anyway, Mitchell Heard of the Monsters flat out abused Carter Bancks of the Heat. The two tangled after a scrum in front and Heard just peppered his opponent with jabs before slamming him into the boards.

Half of the Duck Dynasty gang heads out for more beers as the first period ends and I finally stop wondering where the B.O. smell is coming from as it dissipates after they leave.

Quick note about the AHL experience that really bothers me: firstly, I HATE the “scream/make noise” prompts on the jumbotron. I was at the Bills/Browns game the night before and that place was so loud because the fans were organically excited. Big spots, big plays. That’s what’s supposed to get you excited, not a sign telling you to do so.

Secondly: it makes me realize just how dumb/programmed most of us really are and how easily we can be manipulated into doing what we’re told. They showed the AFC North standings, with the Browns in first, as well as the Browns logo to elicit the cheers they wanted. They followed it up with the Steelers logo to get the boos they wanted. Cheer, boo, cheer, boo. DO AS WE SAY, MONKEYS.

Thirdly: they really need to stop showing the people in the crowd, or some stupid clip, or whatever instead of the replay of whatever just happened. Several times, I wanted to see a replay of what just happened only to get some idiot whose life goal was to get on the big screen.

Second period: Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Sabres fan. So I’m used to incomplete performances and flat periods of hockey. The Monsters provided a little deja vu with the flattest, most uninspired period of hockey one could imagine out of this group. The Heat quickly jumped out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a few penalties and some really slick passing. Not to mention the best pylon imitations the Monsters defense could muster.

And remember what I said about Elliott? I’m starting to fully understand why he’s still in Cleveland. Errant, lazy passes, questionable decisions, and a total lack of strength on the puck. The guy is talented — he’s led three or four end-to-end rushes — but he’s still got so much to work on that it’s painfully obvious why he’s still in the AHL. Hope he fixes that.

It’s late in the second and the DD gang now has signs. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? More so, their signs are not only offensive and unoriginal, but flat out stupid. One has a “Canada sucks” sign which, dude, really? That’s the best you could do? Actually, yes, I know that’s the best you can do. There there. At least you spelled “Canada” right. Points for that. His buddy, American Stereotype, was not so lucky. He tried to write “Your mother is a whore” but used the wrong iteration of “your” and wrote “youre mother is a whore” because of course he did. You can’t be an American stereotype without a grammatically inaccurate sign. I’m kind of rooting for the Monsters at this point but considering rooting for the Heat just to spite these things (I didn’t use “people” because they’re not people).

Third period: Blues Traveler is like eight beers deep and just screaming the same three things at this point: “Score a ****ing goal!”, “Come on, goddamnit!”, and “Every time I come, they never ****ing win!” I can feel the three brain cells of the person next to me all firing and she is amused by the swear words.

Artist's rendition of the guy sitting in our section. (Credit: popscreen.com)

Artist’s rendition of the guy sitting in our section. (Credit: popscreen.com)

The Monsters, meanwhile, came out flying again and cut the lead to 3-2 just a minute into the third. Tons of quality chances right in front of Berra would be turned aside but by this point in the third, I was watching the Avs/Predators game on my phone. I’m not sure if it was because of the action on the ice or because of my hatred for the group in front of us. The B.O. smell was back in full force, by the way.

Josh Jooris snapped a wrister over Sami Aittokallio’s shoulder late in the period to make it 4-2, pretty much ending the game. An empty netter and a few dust ups kept the nimrods entertained for a few minutes as the game came to an end. I worried about leaving and having them close enough to us that I’d be able to hear/smell them some more, but thankfully, there was still movement and colors on the ice so they were plenty distracted.

Another fine evening of hockey action with Cleveland’s finest. Can’t wait for the next time we have tickets.

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Topics: 2013-14 Season, Abbotsford Heat, AHL, Lake Erie Monsters

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