On Friday, December 13th, our beloved Monsters faced the Rochester Americans in their first ever outdoor game, the Frozen Frontier at Frontier Field. Seventy dedicated fans (and a boatload of staff) piled on two buses and made the five hour trip to Rochester to cheer on the boys. While the final score (5-4 loss in a shootout) was disappointing, the experience was truly epic and so much fun!
We left from the parking lot of OBM Arena, the Monsters' practice facility. The drive was a bit dicey at times as it was pretty snowy. Sully agrees:
This drive is making me think I'm on an episode of ice road truckers.— Sullivan C. Goal (@monsterssully) December 13, 2013
The staff brought in box lunches from Potbelly's, and we made a short stop at a rest stop outside Buffalo. Pretty similar to the turnpike stops in Ohio except the coffee wasn't Starbucks (I got over it). They also kept us entertained with hockey movies--The Mighty Ducks, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and Miracle (which we had to finish on the way back).
When we got to the hotel, they distributed our goodie bags with limited edition hoodies and hats:
After checking in, we piled back on the buses for a tour at the Genessee Brew House & Pilot Brewery with dinner. This is a historic regional brewery but the brew house is fairly new, and the brewery there is where they experiment with new brews.
The brewmaster has a degree in biochemistry. From looking at him, I’m not sure if his education or his experience makes him more qualified for the job. I tried out their new Winter Harvest beer (the name alone made it an easy choice, given I am no beer connoisseur). My apologies to niwotsblessing--I did not see your request for a case of Genessee Cream Ale until we had left the brewery.
Then it was back on the buses to bundle up for the game.
I won't lie--it was COLD!! We all did our best to prepare. I went with my heaviest long underwear, thermal pants, new Monsters hoodie & hat, Polartec neck gaiter, ski gloves, and hand & toe warmers, and a long down coat. I saw others in multiple layers of long underwear, ski pants, and huddling under fleece blankets. The hand warmers were key! I did OK until about the second intermission, but my toes were pretty well numb after that. My biggest dilemma was if I pulled my gaiter up over my nose, my glasses fogged up! I finally just took them off--I could see better with no glasses than foggy ones. To get the idea, I'm near the top middle of the photo--I'm the one with swath of white fleece where my face should be.
You can see that it was quite a crowd. They announced a sellout (11,015) on the local news that night.
While we had a pretty good meal at the brewery, I got hungry halfway through the game. Apparently, mac & cheese is a big thing at Frontier Field. You can get it plain, with pulled pork, fried chicken, and (my choice) Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Bonus—the bowl stayed hot enough for me to warm my hands up holding it, for awhile, anyway. They also had hot coffee and of course beer, but since I didn’t think I could hold a cup without taking off my gloves, I went without.
I was a bit apprehensive about one thing when they announced it on the bus. They shut off the plumbing at Frontier Field for the winter, so the "facilities" consisted of a large bank of portable toilets. They had so many that the lines were very short. I’m a veteran at dealing with these at organized cycling events, so it turned out to be no big deal. Still, I’m glad I skipped the beer & coffee and only needed them once.
We had a much better view from our seats than I expected and could actually follow the play on the ice pretty well.
Rochester had seven inches of snow in the 24 hours preceding the game, but it stopped snowing before the game started. While not as picturesque as the first Winter Classic in Buffalo, it made it a whole lot easier to see and I'm sure much better for play.
As you know, the game itself was a roller coaster. We were all feeling pretty good when we we were up 3-1. I have to admit, the three unanswered goals took the wind out of our sails for a bit, but we never stopped chanting "Let's go Monsters!" and holding our own in enemy territory. We did our best to be LOUD and PROUD. I'm surprised I'm not hoarse. The Rochester fans were not too obnoxious, but for the few that wandered into asshole territory, there's a distinct advantage to an outdoor game--snowballs!
After the game, we had about 15 minutes of this:
NOT spectacular and way too long, considering we had been out in the cold for hours already. After it was over, we went down to the field for a group picture. If I can find a link to the photo, I'll add it in but it's not on the Monsters' Flickr feed and they haven't emailed it to us.
I hear that Coach Chynoweth hung around the hotel talking with some of the fans later on that night, but somehow I missed that. I suspect I was already in bed, still trying to warm up.
The trip back was uneventful despite the weather, which was even snowier than on the way out. But without the cold and the snow, I just don't think it would have felt right.
Despite the SO loss, the whole experience is something I will never forget, and can highly recommend to any hockey fan. Do I look like I had fun?
via farm6.staticflickr.com (photo by Shannon Elmerick)
The guys really appreciated it, too:
Had an absolute blast w the outdoor game tonight. Tough way 2 lose but want to thank all the CLE fans for showing support. We appreciate it!— bryan lerg (@BLerg11) December 14, 2013