London’s own John Labatt Centre has been running a great intitiative for the past few months called The JLC Reviewer. The JLC has developed this promotion for fans to get a chance to take in their favourite show or event in exchange for a review if they are selected
I’ve been a hockey fan for as long as I can remember (see pic) and when the opportunity was announced for a chance to be a #JLCreviewer for the preseason game that took place last Thursday between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings I naturally made my interest known for possibly being selected to review the event.
After I received word that I was one of the lucky individuals chosen to attend the game and take part in #JLCreviewer campaign I immediately started to make plans for the night and who I would be bringing as my guest. It didn’t take me long to settle on asking my Dad to come along with me. He’s a longtime fan of the game and I thought it would be nice to give back to him as my family has been so helpful in all they have done for me since I moved to London just over 2 years ago.
I went by the JLC on the day prior to the game and collected my tickets and was lucky enough to bump into Chris Campbell – the man behind this and many other marketing initiatives at the JLC. I thanked Chris again for the opportunity and reiterated my admiration for all the great things that he and the JLC are doing to further the fan experience for their many exciting concerts and shows.
Once I was able to, I checked the seating chart to see where we would be situated in the stands and to my surprise, I found that we would be right at centre ice and not many rows up from the players benches. Score! I called my Dad to let him know and get him more hyped up about the experience and I myself was really excited for the big game on Thursday night.
Fast forward to Thursday evening….Talbot street around the JLC was closed from earlier in the afternoon for a street party prior to the game. The tailgate party featured several radio stations, live bands, beer garden, etc. and was all aimed at getting the fans hyped up for the game. From walking around in that atmosphere, I’d say it was a great little addition to the festivities of the evening. I wished I could have arrived earlier to spend more time at the street party but time was slipping away and the puck was dropping soon so we made our way into the arena to get set for the game. As we were walking in we were greeted by a slew of jerseys from both sides with a scattering of Leaf jerseys too. The place was packed and excitement level was high. There were fans scrambling in all directions either to buy a souvenir, something to eat or grab a beer.
We made our way to the seats we had reserved for us and like I mentioned earlier, the seats were amazing! Centre ice behind the Detrioit bench. A fantastic view of all the action! We had a birds eye view of Mike Babcock giving his team some last minute instruction and we were even close enough for my Dad to catch a T-shirt during one of the intermissions.
I took a great deal of photos throughout the game and tweeted some real-time score keeping as well. All of which contained the #JLCreviewer tag so you could easily search out those entries if you wish.
I won’t get into great detail about the game itself, my article is more on the experience of being there with the rest of the fans and taking in the experience of a live game. If you’d like to get a really good summary of the game details, you can check out another reviewers blog right here. I’ve met Ashley once or twice before and she is a hardcore hockey fan with Boston being her team and she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to hockey.
Suffice it to say that Detroit seemed to have the game in hand with a score of 3 – 1 over the Flyers with only a few minutes left in the thrid. Then Philadelphia poured it on and tied it up at 3 just before regulation time ended. Overtime solved nothing so then it was off to a shootout. The shootout was end-to-end excitement and as fans, we were lucky to witness this added element of value for a preseason game. I’m not sure how many rounds it lasted but it kept fans on their feet and the cheers were present to the very end. When the game was finally decided, it was Detroit that came away with the win but I’m sure all that were there felt like the experience was a huge win for hockey, The JLC and the city of London.
Even now, almost a week after attending the game, the hype, the fans, the atmosphere..all resonate with me as though I just walked out of the arena post-game. That’s what I’ll take away from my experience as a #JLCreviewer. Unfortunately, there was an incident that took place at the game that has taken on a life of it’s own and garnered national if not international media attention. I feel quite strongly about how this and other issues that have cropped up recently have put a negative slant on the city of London and essentially eclipse all the good that is being done here. I’ll reserve these comments for another blog post as the purpose of this one was to highlight a great event that I was lucky to be chosen and be a part of.
So many thanks to the great team at the John Labatt Centre for bringing the NHL to the Forrest City and giving fans an exciting night that won’t soon be forgotten. Personal thanks to Denise Testa for nominating me to be a reviewer for the event — I’ll be sure to do the same if London ever gets Maroon 5 to come here.
I also want to thank my Dad, Ed Sr. for being my guest and I hope he had as good a time as I did.