ESPN's Paul Lukas came to town last week for a sports filled weekend that included pond hockey, curling, and watching the Vikings at Bunny's. He also got a generous dollop of Minnesota nice. The opening:
As it turned out, the weather did present some challenges, but not the ones I expected. And pond hockey was just the tip of my sports weekend iceberg. Here's how it went down:
Thursday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m.: I board a Minneapolis--bound flight out of LaGuardia and find myself sitting in the middle of two extremely sociable pond hockey teams. As I chat with them, two things become apparent: They really, really love hockey, and they really, really love beer. Not necessarily in that order.
"Pond hockey is, like, the essence of pure hockey," says Ryan Equale, sitting behind me. "We all started playing on ponds, we're all brothers out there, and at the end of the day everyone's together sharing a beer." I laugh and nod approvingly, not realizing I'll be hearing this sentiment repeated about 17 dozen times over the next two days.
Sunday, 9:25 p.m.: Garrett Hartley kicks the game-winning field goal for the Saints. I'm expecting some sort of a negative reaction, but there's no booing, no cursing, not even a collective groan. Instead, people quietly put on their jackets and shuffle out the door.
As I walk out, a woman gives me a glum smile and says, "What a bummer, eh?"
Minnesotans: the nicest people in the world, even in defeat. And even in late January.
Maybe next time he's in town Lukas should watch a game with Atomizer.