with some regret for the sleep I’d be missing (an important commodity of late) I agreed when a friend invited me to join him and a few others on a trip to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. The primary reason for the journey, which started on Friday night in Philadelphia at 7 p.m. and will hopefully end tonight around 10 p.m., was to see the Philadelphia Phantoms play the St. John Flames. Believe me, this devotion to an ahl team has gotten us plenty of strange looks and raised eyebrows along the way.

While the Phantoms victory of 3-2 in overtime was certainly one of the highlights of the trip for me, I will defend the little sanity that I have by pointing out that hockey was not my sole motivation. I was delighted at the opportunity to tour a part of our neighboring country that I have never seen before. Larry just wanted to see hockey. 😉

It has been an immensely enjoyable trip. The natives of St. John were incredibly friendly, even after their narrow loss in one of the better hockey games I have had the pleasure to attend. While we did not have the time or energy to see much of the town, we did get to converse with the locals in the pub and at the hockey arena. Between the gasps of surprise from those who checked our IDs or who, noting the Phantoms paraphernalia and other signs that we were out-of-towners, asked about our point of origin the natives seemed pleased that we came to visit their city; they asked us about Philadelphia and what we thought of St. John. The folks we asked for directions or suggestions on where to go for food and entertainment were amiable and helpful. I don’t recall encountering anyone who was outright rude or mean with the possible exception of the guy at the hockey game who approached us for no reason to rattle on about nothing and the counter girl at tim horton’s who seemed displeased or unnerved at the four of us ordering together (Larry says she was talking about us as she prepared the food). I was in turn confused by some of the looks she gave me during what seemed to me a not overly complicated order. I suppose it was just one of those things.

During the game the fans were very respectful. It was rather amusing to be the only ones cheering when the Phantoms scored. Consequently there was only our small source of shouts of jubilation at the end of the game. The Flames supporters were gracious in defeat, chatting with the Phantoms fans in their midst as we made our way back through the connecting buildings to our hotel (grateful not to have to step out into the bitterly cold night). This included a funny conversation with a group of young boys who approached us and asked to come back to Philly with us (don’t ask me why).

After the game and an attempt to find a different place to eat, drink, and be merry, we returned to Tapps Brewpub where we had lunched earlier in the day. We ended the day with the Flying Scotsman, a performer of Celtic music along with other genres and his own compositions. He was often corny in his humor and rather longwinded, but he was also an excellent musician.

After we got back to the hotel, we all crashed for the night. Around 3:30 a.m. one of us was awakened by team members of the Phantoms knocking on the door across the hall. She opened the door, thinking that the knock was for us, and attracted their attention. She stepped aside in the doorway, and they entered the room and woke the rest of us up as they talked. I opened my eyes to see hockey players in my room, but due to lack of sleep I promptly fell back into slumber. They invited us to the party, but c’est la vie.

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