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Daniel - Poker Journal

Thanksgiving weekend Part II- A little Hockey Anyone?

28 Nov 2004

This was my second straight Thanksgiving in Grand Rapids with Lori and her family. The house was half close family, half zoo. Lori’s parents, Roger and Sandi, her sister Kimi and her husband Caleb, her other sister Jodi with her husband Mike, son Luke, and baby daughter Lin.

Add Mushu to the mix, along with the resident Chihuahua Moses, and to top it all off Kimi and Caleb’s new kitty Hermiones. Dinner was great but I think I ate too fast. I don’t touch any of the turkey being a vegetarian and all, but I had my fill of stuffing, lasagna, salad, corn bread, etc.

After dinner I plopped down on the couch and couldn’t move. I chilled there for a while until the cousins came over. One of them is a “future poker superstar” named Ben. He’s only 17 (I think?) but he and his friends play poker all the time. In fact last time I was in town I played a little $10 buy in in no limit hold’em freeze out at his friends house. I got busted out in fourth out of six. Oh well, worse things have happened I guess.

So the cousins stayed for a while and everyone shared various desserts. I was stuffed and took a pass. Once they left, everyone sat around and watched CSI and Without a Trace. The perfect time for me to squeeze in a nap because I just hate that genre of television. I realize the ratings are great, but I’ve never been big on the one hour drama series… well, except for Sopranos I guess but that’s different.

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The 26th was Caleb’s birthday so we decided to have an early dinner before going to the hockey game. We ate at a steakhouse called Logan’s so I put together a medley of sides since they didn’t offer any vegetarian dishes.

From there it was off to see the Griffins play host to the Chicago Wolves. As I mentioned in an earlier column a defenseman on the Wolves named Kyle Rossiter got me some tickets which was much appreciated.

I was so psyched to see some hockey. The Griffins are a good team too coming in at 11-4-1 while the Wolves were a respectable 7-6-1. In the first period the Griffins dominated play, but Wolves goalie Kari Peltonen was unbelievable.

I recognized Lehtonen from the NHL, he plays for the Atlanta Thrashers and was the #2 overall pick in 2002. Without Peltonen, the Griffins would have scored like four goals. As often happens in situations like that though, it was Chicago that scored in the dying seconds of the first period.

The second period got underway, and within two minutes the Griffins were on board! As a custom at Griffins games, the game after Thanksgiving is called “Teddy Tots.” After the first goal the Griffins score fans are supposed to throw teddy bears on the ice that will go to under privileged children.

There was eight people in our group so we made sure to stop off at Target and pick up eight Teddy bears. Personally I think it’s a great cause.

Of the eight in our group, there was a seven year old girl named Aliya, the daughter of my friend Matt who couldn’t be there because he had to work. It was her first hockey game and she was really into it. With minutes left in the second period I left early to surprise her.

I went to the “Zone” downstairs and bought her a Griffins jersey to match mine, a Griffins hat, and a Griffins claw. All the necessities for the ultimate fan. It was clear to me by the look on her face that she loved her gifts.

While I was gone the Wolves scored again making it 3-1 to end the second period. The Griffins really pushed in the third period but nobody was going to beat that goalie. Nobody. He was standing on his head and stopping anything in sight.

So the buzzer sounded and the Griffins lost one. At which point Lori tells me, “Every time I come to a Griffins game they always lose. Always.”
"Well now you tell me! Had I known that we could have left you at home!" Kidding of course.

I spoke with the people with the Griffins earlier about having Aliya meet the players and sign her new Jersey. We waited downstairs and finally got word that the guys were “decent”. I followed Aliya into the locker room, and as we turned the corner… oops! I quickly covered her eyes as two of the players must have missed the memo! Hopefully this won’t traumatize the little girl. I wonder if my buddy Matt will ever forgive me, “Daddy, daddy, guess what I saw at the hockey game?”

No damage was done though and I met the players in the locker room. They were all very good about signing her jersey, and in turn I signed some cards and things for them. Before I left I made arrangements to catch another game on the 26th of December. In fact, chances are I’ll get to drop the puck, how cool would that be! The plan then would be to play a little poker with the guys and give em’ all a few pointers.

The whole experience was pretty cool and I was excited to see a new hockey fan in the making in seven year old Aliya…Next Stop, Las Vegas…

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