Sunday, January 16, 2011

Family Event: Chicago Wolves

A week ago Saturday, the wee ones went to their first hockey game ever. Now, I love my hockey. I adore hockey. I can even tell you what icing is, including when it's called and when it isn't. And why. At least until they change the rule on icing, which they're talking about doing (again).

So our first game came with the wee ones at ages 5 and 7. It wasn't an NHL game, however, as those are a little pricey to justify attending with the wee ones. It's a little hard to justify attending just with myself these days. Nope, we went to a Chicago Wolves game, an AHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers.

I've been to Wolves games before, and they never disappoint. They are super family friendly, and I've sat literally on the glass for $30 (ticket prices are a little higher now, but not the $425 the Blackhawks are asking - and no that is not an exaggeration). The play of hockey is just a touch below the NHL, and it's great.

I love that before games there is a party in the Skyline Room on Saturday nights where you can get your face painted, dance, play fun little games, try on equipment, and more. The wee ones adored it, too - although a couple of the songs were of a bit of a questionable nature for the family atmosphere. Fortunately the wee ones are young enough that it went over their heads. And yes, we did get their faces painted. They had a blast.

Granted, the "glasses" Little Miss won for tossing the Lego in the Bozo Bucket-like game creeped me out, but ... she enjoyed them.

The wee ones thought it was hilarious to pretend to be hockey players. They need to be a little older to really pull it off, but ... they had fun. And it's still cute, right?

The face painting - FREE, mind you - was incredible. Absolutely incredible. Little Miss had the mascot Skates painted, while Mister Man chose a flaming hockey puck. I was sad when we had to wash them off.

We headed over to the arena in time for the pregame fireworks. It's a fun little show, nothing huge, but it's a great introduction of players before the game. I was a little nervous that the noise would be too much for the wee ones, but they dealt with it. Little Miss didn't like all the noise, but she wasn't crying or begging to leave - which would have happened with at least Mister Man had we come a year or two earlier.

Mister Man got really into the hockey and loved cheering on the Wolves. He was interested in figuring out how the game worked, and after a few minutes I am proud to report that he was able to find and track the puck for the remainder of the game.

I like that hockey is a fairly fast paced game - they are generally over in about two and a half hours, so it isn't sitting still too long for the wee ones at this age. Mister Man was sorely disappointed when the Wolves lost (and badly), but he had a great time anyway.

To stretch our legs between the first and second period, I brought the wee ones into the entryway where the Wolves were sponsoring a Dog Adoption night. They do this frequently throughout the season where dogs from local shelters are brought in for hockey fans to visit with and potentially adopt. Most of the dogs brought to the game were adopted before it was over, and I have to admit that there were a few that tugged at my heartstrings.

The Wolves do a ton of things that are community minded like hosting the dog adoption events. There are players who go to libraries as part of the Read to Succeed program that provides incentives for children who reach reading goals. And yes, if you have a high school French class, teachers can arrange for a visit from a French speaking player - talk about an incentive to prepare for class! There is more from fundraising nights where jerseys are raffled or auctioned off to dinners with players and more. And yes, the wee ones schools every year get donated tickets from the Wolves to support their fundraisers.

In fact, this year, we will actually have a fundraiser for the school at a Wolves game. Discounted tickets, a hat, pennant, hot dog, and pop for $30 with $8 going to our school for each ticket sold. You can bet that we'll be there! (And hey, if you're interested in joining us, it's open to anyone, and I'm happy to sell you a ticket!)

Needless to say, this may have been the wee ones' first hockey game, but it certainly won't be their last at this family friendly venue. Even the mascot is extra fun - Mister Man was fascintated with his claws!

In the interest of full disclosure, the wee ones and I were provided with complimentary tickets, hats, and a cookie. I was not compensated, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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