Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Ice Breaker Tournament: A Superficial Review


You are winner.
Disappointment was my initial feeling.  Then sleepy.  Then apathetic.  Then...meh.  Go hockey.
I hope this isn't true, but there were only 2,254 at the Sprint Center (according to the box score) last weekend for the Ice Breaker tournament.  That can't be right, can it?  Last year, on a college campus of a school in the finals, 9,000+ people attended.  Surely KC could have gotten half of that number to show up.  Either way, bully for those of you who got to see the games in person.

Before we freak out too much, it's worth a look at the attendance numbers when the Ice Breaker was in St. Louis, a neutral site, two years ago.  The final featured Boston University and Notre Dame, and only had just over 2,000 people attend (again, according to the box score).  The tournament was also in an NHL-sized arena -- Scottrade Center -- so, yeah.  Don't feel too bad, Kansas City hockey fans.  We beat the average!

But, I for one hoped more people would attend, especially for a televised event.  But, we can't always get what we want.  That didn't take away from the good times had by those in attendance, I'm sure.  Alas, there are other things to do on a Friday and Saturday night in Kansas City, despite popular belief.  The only real issue with people not showing up to the Ice Breaker is that hockey folks around town assumed people would pack the house for the Rangers-Avalanche game scheduled for the Saturday before.  Of course, the NHL is different than the NCAA for a variety of reasons, so fans found something else to do or went on living their lives instead of exchanging their tickets.

Here's a theory: It is my experience that people do not like the band Creed, much like the whole Internet has a problem with the band Nickelback.  I would argue that people do not like Creed mainly because the lead singer Scott Stapp has a history of being a huge douche.  That makes sense.  Those people suck.  But, one shouldn't be so quick to ignore that Mark Tremonti is a great alt-rock guitraist (thus, I would suggest one listen to Alter Bridge or Tremonti's band, two other sources of similar entertainment without the nuisance of having to support Stapp -- but alt-rock may not be your thing, so whatever). 

The NCAA is kind of like Scott Stapp.  Millions of people around the country are devoted fans to a particular college, but it's just not the same as rooting for professionals.  The NCAA isn't the highest level of athletics in the world, and in fact can be fairly annoying at times (as an institution), so fans may not have an inclination to just go to a particular event.  They go watch the Mavericks instead (Tremonti, in this analogy).  Just a theory.

Anyway, a packed lower bowl would have surprised me, but it would have been awesome to see.  Oh well.  I guess all of the incredibly informed people around the hockey-internet-o-sphere will point at this as a reason Kansas City is a vast wasteland not fit for life, let alone hockey.

The attendance issue -- which really isn't that much of an issue in hindsight -- aside, here are a few other problems I had with the presentation of the game.  Just some intangibles that could have made the experience better.

Bands
This one is tough, obviously, because the bands either had something else to do, or they couldn't travel logistically or financially.  It would have been cool, though, had Nebraska-Omaha brought a band or something since they don't have football and are only a couple hours away (more on that later).  The fight songs after a goal was a nice touch in their absence, though.

National Anthem
I don't know if there is some kind of rule in college forbidding anthem singers, so forgive me, but there seriously wasn't one, two, or four people around town that could have sang the National Anthem before each game?  Instead we get the pre-recorded anthem.  And I don't even think it was the one they use for the Olympics.  C'mon, where is the glee club, or the 25 year old Mariah Carey wannabe when you need them?

Merch
No merch tables?  What the hell?  There I was, with a fistfull of dollars, ready and willing to buy a Maine shirt or Notre Dame crap or whatever, but there was nothing.  What kind of capitalist country is this?  Even the MO Mavericks table was giving away free stuff.  Bummer, man.

Public Address Announcer
No argument here.  Steve Garrett is awesome and should PA announce for every sport in the city for the rest of forever.  I miss "KAAAAAAAANSAAAAS CIIIIITTTTYYYYY GOOOOAAALLLLLLLLLLLL" so hard you don't even know.

UNO Cheering Section
Fine the first night.  Actually funny at times.  The second night...how many times can you chant "U-N-O Mavericks" before it gets repetitive.  Three.  The answer is three times.  Though the exasperated "GOOOO WIZARDSSSSS" chant every now and then was a nice change of pace.

Ushers
I have no problem with these people.  They let us sit wherever we wanted.  Good on them.  I take umbrage with the three ushers who removed us from the upper deck like we were going to start a riot.  As if at any time a three-on-three Mortal Kombat death match could occur.  Well, maybe so of I wasn't in a hoodie, but next time bring it on. I'll be ready for ya then.

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