Sunday, December 31, 2006

Week in Review: Plugging Portland

The AMHL photographer and I had no hockey (or donut)-related plans for last week’s vacation. Nope, we left for our three-day getaway on Tuesday afternoon with a full tank of gas and one sole intention: relaxation. Canada? We thought about it, of course. But, nothing much was going on in Ottawa, and we didn’t want to drive six hours to get there.

Instead, we chose Portland, ME a two-hour drive from Boston. Portland, where we had reservations at the Morrill Mansion Bed & Breakfast and planned to maybe go out for dinner and then watch the rest of the Boston Bruins’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Most every restaurant in the West End was closed, so we ordered pizza. Portland Pie’s pepperoni and pineapple was the best pizza we’ve ever had, at least in Maine. We ate the whole thing and then watched the Bs bludgeon the Blue Jackets. For two-plus periods anyway, until our boys blew a two-goal lead. In OT, the Bruins botched a line change and then watched David Vyborny beat Timmy Thomas on a breakaway.

On Wednesday morning, we drove northeast, to Bath…and beyond…to Damariscotta, where I had the best Steak and Stout Pie I’ve ever had in Maine and the photographer enjoyed the best Reuben sandwich she’s ever had, anywhere, at King Eider’s Pub.

After declining dessert, we drove a half hour south, desperate to see a lighthouse.

The photographer braved the whistling wind while on her quest for first class photos of Point Pemaquid. I sat in the passenger seat to escape the cold but had to endure a screeching child that walked in front of our car.

I was sleepy yet knew I needed exercise. But that damn wind and noisome child! Could my easy-freeze body and rabbit ears tolerate the weather and the whining?

My wife returned to tell me about what I was missing. “Waves crashing into rocks…come check it out,” she said.

I did. As angry teal waves, capped with raging foam, assaulted the coastline and then surged into the crags of the jagged rocks below us, a man wearing a Detroit Red Wings jacket approached.

I was wearing a logo-less assortment of clothing to keep warm in the face of the wind, so this fellow had no idea I was from Boston—until I initiated a conversation.

He seemed reluctant to partake in a lengthy discussion—perhaps he wanted to keep moving to stay warm, too— but I did learn that the while the Red Wings are doing okay in the standings, their power play prevents them from pushing past the Predators in the Central division.

The man from Michigan wasn’t keen on talking, but Ben from Cool as a Moose on Fore Street was only too happy to talk hockey.

On Thursday, while searching for gifts for friends and family, the Quebec native told us his store doesn’t have any hockey-related items. As the name might suggest, Cool as a Moose sells mostly moose-related items. Wearing his Nike hockey baseball cap, Ben said that although he wasn’t a big NHL fan—not since the 2004 lockout—he and his friends love going to the Beanpot games. Before moving to the States more than a decade ago, he didn’t have a favorite team but rather rooted for the teams with the most speed and his favorite players were Theo Flurry on the Flames, Jaromir Jagr on the Penguins, and Mark Messier on the Rangers.

He didn’t mention any Canadiens or Nordiques or Leafs—the team the AMHL photographer and I will watch at the Garden next Thursday—courtesy of Bernie Geffrion (R.I.P.) and Higs tickets in Boston. “Boom Boom” was the answer to last week’s New England Hockey Journal Radio Show question: Which Canadien had his number retired only days before his jersey would be raised to the rafters of the Bell Centre? I finally answered a trivia question correctly and scored two tickets to next week’s game.

I picked them up from Higs tickets on Friday. See you in Section 310!
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