Monday, September 30, 2019

Buffalo Sabres 3 at Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (SO, Preseason) - September 28, 2019

The second game of my Pittsburgh tripleheader was a preseason tilt between the Penguins and the Sabres. This was my third visit to PPG Paints Arena, although before it was known as Consol Energy Center. I took the T-Line from Heinz Field to Steel Plaza and raced over to the rink, picking up my media credential and bounding up the stairs to the main concourse. I arrived with 25 seconds gone in the first period, having missed nothing from what I could tell.

The reason I had a credential for this event is because it was a Kids Free Game. Since the Penguins moved here from the Igloo in 2010, the final preseason game has been reserved for kids. All tickets are distributed to local children and none are made available for sale to the general public. I had never heard of this initiative and wanted to write about it for Stadium Journey so a credential was necessary. I'll include more details in that article and link to it here. I was a bit surprised to see a scalper out front, as I figured few fans would want to spend the afternoon with 18,000 kids, but who knows.

Inside, the seating bowl was packed with kids, many wearing their hockey jerseys, which led to some colourful sections. Of course, everyone was making noise, especially when the scoreboard urged them on. It was quite the different atmosphere from a typical exhibition contest.

With the credential, I was able to move around and sat in the loge seats for the scoreless first period. Iceburgh, the mascot, was seen "chatting" with kids all around the rink. Again, this is a free event for these kids and one that they will not soon forget.

I went up to the press box for the second period, which saw Pittsburgh score twice within a minute with Patrick Hornqvist and Bryan Rust doing the honours, only for Buffalo to get one back 90 seconds later on a great slapshot from Marco Scandella.

I returned to the main concourse for the third period, standing near the exit as I had to leave by 6:30 to get to my next game that started at 7. This is close to the world's largest goalie mask, which has been here since 2011.

Unfortunately for me, the Sabres tied it midway through the period on a beauty from Zemgus Girgensons, who took a pass at the blue line, turned, broke in alone on Matt Murray, and deked him perfectly. With the game tied at 2 late, I decided to leave to get to the soccer match on time.

In the end, the Sabres won 3-2 in a shootout, so I didn't miss any goals (no, shootout goals are not goals). Not that it matters, as it was a preseason game, and my true tripleheader was ruined when I left the football game with 1:18 left.


PPG Paints Arena is the first venue where I have seen a preseason game, a regular season game, and a playoff game.



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