You win, hockey—I'm sold

(Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)
May 04, 2014|By Jay St. Pierre, @jaystpierre | RedEye

I'm not a virgin anymore.

Yeah, that's right, I went to my first hockey game this weekend—the second-round opener between the Blackhawks and Minnesota. And boy, was it a wild one.

I remember my first football game. Jerry Rice lit up the Saints for about 150 yards and two touchdowns.

My first baseball game was just as impressive. Chipper Jones hit an eighth-inning home run for the Braves and my favorite right fielder at the time, Jermaine Dye, threw someone out trying to advance from first to third.

My first basketball game was unforgettable. David West put up 38 points to lead the then-Hornets to a win against the Spurs in the Western Conference finals.

And with all those special memories, Friday's five-goal Blackhawks win ranks right up there.

I've been pretty vocal since moving to Chicago about my disinterest in hockey. Well, that has all changed, for three simple reasons.

1. Jersey shore

My God, you Hawks fans love your jerseys. Walking around the concourse, I couldn't help but notice the insane amount of them. Now, don't get me wrong, Saints fans love their jerseys, but we mix in a few polos, T-shirts and button-downs. It was a pleasant surprise seeing thousands of Kane, Sharp and Toews sweaters. Real fan bases know how to support their teams, and wearing those jerseys is step No. 1.

2. Pregame powerhouse

I've heard the national anthem sung a few hundred times. But never have I ever (yeah, that's a reference to that game we played as kids) heard it sung the way Jim Cornelison belts it out. Watching on TV, I've always wondered why fans go nuts over this guy. That question was answered when I heard the reaction to him in person. It sends chills down your spine when you hear a sold-out arena erupt like that. It's matched only by the anthem I heard Carrie Underwood sing at Super Bowl XLIV.

3. Lay off Corey

You have my word, I will not say ANYTHING bad about Corey Crawford for the rest of the season. The game is so much faster in person—TV really doesn't do it justice—and hearing the puck smash against his pads is like hearing someone drop a dumbbell on a padded gym floor. The box score said he saved 30 shots, but I swear he got knocked around at least 150 times that game.

I'll be back for more. It's just the latest postseason event I've been lucky enough to check off my list. I guess a World Series is the only thing left. But I won't hold my breath for that one, at least not while I'm living in this city.

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