Hockey Road Trip: The Great Nor'easter (Part 2)

29 May 2020

In the first part of our final Hockey Road Trip, we braved the frigid conditions in Connecticut and Rhode Island - but now, it was time to return to Boston to complete "The Quest"...


After arriving in the Boston suburb of Revere late the night before, we slept in a bit before heading out into the cold surroundings on our way to the first stop of the day: the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.  I was a Presidential history buff as a child, so I've found myself enjoying these museums as an adult.  My wife, however, is not a fan so she stayed in the warm Airbnb apartment while Chad and I took the subway to south Boston. 

For the next few hours, we slowly wandered through the building learning about our nation's 35th President and his accomplishments.  There are very informative exhibits devoted to Kennedy's election and inauguration, as well as the development of the space program and the drama surrounding the Bay of Pigs and subsequent Cuban Missile Crisis.  I found it all fascinating and took my time strolling around - maybe I just didn't want to go back out into the cold, but we had a date with history!

Charlene met us for dinner at Hurricane's at the Garden, conveniently located within a block of TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins.  As expected, this and every other establishment near the arena was packed with hockey fans, many of them wearing Bruins jerseys.  But there was also an added touch to this evening: the presence of the Hartford Whalers!

When I planned this trip, I knew I had two Bruins games to choose from this week: the first was against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the other would see Boston face the Florida Panthers.  Before I made up my mind, the NHL made it for me - the Hurricanes announced they would be wearing Hartford Whalers uniforms for two games against Boston in the 2018-19 season, and March 5 was the second date.  That sealed it - I HAD to be there to see those sweet jerseys!!

TD Garden is situated against the Charles River, under a freeway overpass and above a very busy train station, so we weren't really able to walk around the building to get many pictures.  But there is a really cool statue honoring Bobby Orr (and commemorating one of the most famous goals in NHL history), so we grabbed a quick shot and ducked in out of the cold.


Just as I had hoped, the Whaler jerseys looked amazing up close.  That's right - up close!  Chad decided that since it was the final game in our last arena, we should pay a little extra to get great seats and it was completely worth it.

We also couldn't have asked for a better game, so we did our best to remain in our seats as much as possible, only leaving during the first intermission to get a photo with the Bruins mascot.  Sebastian Aho staked Carolina/Hartford to a 2-0 lead, scoring once in the first period and then notching another goal early in the second.  The Bruins clawed back to tie the game on goals by Chris Wagner and Jake DeBrusk, then took a 3-2 lead when Patrice Bergeron scored near the beginning of the final frame.  The home fans were ecstatic and kept the energy up for most of the third period, only to be silenced when Justin Williams tied the game with less than eight minutes to go.

Despite their best efforts, neither team could tally in the remaining time so "The Quest" would be completed with an overtime game!  Less than two minutes into the bonus period, DeBrusk forced a turnover right in front of us and fed David Krejci for the thrilling game-winner, giving the Bruins a hard-fought 4-3 victory.  Check out the unmistakable style of Bruins announcer Jack Edwards on the goal call here:

And just like was over.  Six years of planning, traveling, and coordinating had come to a most satisfying conclusion - Chad and I had seen a game in all 31 NHL arenas!

But there was still a few more days left in our trip and we didn't have too much to revel in the completion of "The Quest", so we headed back to Revere for some rest before the longest day of the week.


Due to heavy congestion and the cost of parking, we used the extensive subway system for our trip into Boston on Tuesday, which meant our rental car remained parked on the street all day - today, it would earn its keep.  We woke up bright and early, grabbed breakfast at the nearest Dunkin' Donuts, and drove north.  About an hour later, we arrived in Concord at the New Hampshire State House, admiring both the unique gold dome and the venerable statue of President Franklin Pierce.

This particular state capitol building wasn't terribly large, so our self-guided tour was over not long after it began.  This fit in perfectly with our busy schedule, so it was back to the car for another hour-long drive to Laconia, New Hampshire: home of Funspot, the largest arcade in the world!  Like the UConn women's basketball game, visiting Funspot had been in every potential Boston trip that I had ever planned, once I learned of its existence several years prior.  Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed at all.

It was a cold weekday afternoon in the middle of nowhere, so Funspot wasn't crowded at all, which worked in our favor quite well.  The massive three-story structure is filled with not only an enormous collection of classic arcade and pinball games, but also several party rooms and a miniature golf course.

My particular favorite was the American Classic Arcade Museum, a large room with various games separated by their manufacturer - all at once, my entire childhood rushed back to me!   Their collection included one of the oldest games (Pong), as well as a hockey game that I did not remember at all (Hit the Ice), so I spent a couple of joyous hours like a kid in a candy store.

Though I probably could have spent all day at Funspot, I knew we had to move on and so we were off on a two-hour drive to the city of Portland, Maine.  We arrived just before sundown and were greeted by even colder temperatures at a historic downtown area covered in a thick layer of ice, bordering the Portland Harbor.  Dinner came courtesy of Anthony's Italian Kitchen, before we walked to the nearby Cross Insurance Arena, home of the ECHL's newest team.

Though Portland had been home to an AHL franchise for forty years, the last team to play in the city (Portland Pirates) moved away in 2016, leaving a void for local hockey fans.  Thankfully, this wouldn't last long as the ECHL's Alaska Aces - which ceased operations in 2017 - were sold to Comcast Spectacor, the owners of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, and the Maine Mariners began play in the fall of 2018.  I thought it would be worth a drive to come see them in their inaugural season, and it wound up being one of the more memorable games I've ever seen.

First of all, this Wednesday was "Autism Awareness Night", so the game was played with a "subdued atmosphere in order to cater to fans with sensitivity to light and sound."  The normal barrage of loud music and flashing lights was eliminated, leaving a very unique presentation to the game of hockey.

The small weeknight crowd also made the arena even more quiet, allowing us to hear both the players talking to each other and the fans heckling the opposing Norfolk Admirals.  It was different for sure, and I hope those affected were able to appreciate the effort the team had made, but the lack of a goal horn was definitely odd for me.

I also noticed the presence of Mariners GM Danny Briere, who had recently wrapped up a lengthy NHL career.  I was actually at the 1996 NHL Entry Draft in St. Louis when Briere was selected in the first round by the Phoenix Coyotes, so I kept my eye on him as he played nearly 1000 games with five different franchises.

Danny was seated in a suite just at the top of a nearby section, and I saw him interact with fans during the first intermission, so I made my way there after the second period to introduce myself.  He was incredibly nice and generous with his time, chatting with me for several minutes about the 1996 Draft and his new role with the Mariners.  It's always a pleasure meeting a player I watched so much, and it made the long drive completely worth it!


After a long driving day, we reserved Thursday for sightseeing at the most popular Boston attractions, highlighted along the famed Freedom Trail.  Snow still covered the ground, and the temperatures remained fairly low as we took the subway downtown and started our tour at the Massachusetts State House.  The fourth and final state capitol of our trip included lots of great historical artifacts and another gold dome that shimmered in the sunlight.

Over the next several hours, we visited nearly all of the sights along the Freedom Trail: I was particular amazed by the history at such places as the Old South Meeting House and the Paul Revere House.  The fact that we could see so much on foot over the course of a long walking day was an added bonus, as the constant movement surely helped to keep us warm.  I know that no visit to Boston is complete without seeing these famous locations.

Paul Revere's grave at the Granary Burying Ground
Paul Revere statue - Old North Church
Benjamin Franklin statue - Latin School
Old South Meeting House
Just as we were wrapping up our day, we came upon a delivery driver who was stuck on a patch of ice and couldn't move his van.  Having often witnessed similar situations while living in the Midwest, I called for Chad and we pushed the van off the ice - once the driver was safely back on the street, he told us to wait while he reached in the back of his van and presented us with two large bags of fresh pasta as a reward!

We ended the day at Faneuil Hall, one of the more famous stops along the Freedom Trail.  In addition to various historical exhibits devoted to this "Cradle of Liberty", there is also a marketplace that features a large array of shops and eateries.  Ever the tourist, I used the opportunity to have my very first lobster roll (it was delicious) and buy some Boston-branded tea.

We had no plans for the evening, so we just took our time roaming around the marketplace, which also included a replica of the bar from the popular sitcom Cheers!  I always end up planning so many events in these trips, so it was nice to relax and not feel rushed to go anywhere.  We stayed downtown until nightfall, then returned to the Airbnb in Revere to warm back up before bedtime.


We were back on the subway very early this morning, arriving at the Omni Parker House for a fancy brunch at the famed hotel where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier.  This restaurant is also recognized as the birthplace of one of my favorite desserts, the Boston Cream Pie, which I made sure to order after devouring a plate of pancakes.

Next up was a tour of Harvard University, which came in two parts: the first was the official tour conducted on campus, which was followed by an "unofficial" tour performed by Chad's cousin, who was attending Harvard at the time.  She showed us all around Harvard Square, and we stopped for lunch at Pinocchio's Pizza, the very small and popular joint where a young Mark Zuckerberg supposedly came up with the idea to create Facebook.

We then went back across the Charles River to see the Boston Central Library, so we could marvel at the amazing architecture of the historic McKim Building.  Being an avid reader, Charlene certainly enjoyed herself and I even lost her at separate times while we were inside.

Our final stop of the day was Northeastern University to see the men's hockey team face off against the University of New Hampshire.  Since we weren't familiar with the area and wanted to stay close for the game, we chose to wander aimlessly around the campus to kill time, visiting the bookstore and grabbing a bite in the food court.

In addition to seeing some "cawlidge hawkey" in the Northeast, this trip was all about going inside of Matthews Arena, the oldest hockey rink still in use and former home of the Boston Bruins during the 1920's.  The Northeastern Huskies were ranked in the Top 25 of college hockey all year, and would go on to win the Hockey East tournament and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament later that month.  But as I said, the game was somewhat secondary to walking around the famed venue.

Like the UConn women's basketball game from the previous weekend, today's hockey game would also be Senior Night, as the graduating players were honored before puck drop.  We purchased tickets close to the glass, but ended up walking around the concourse and sitting in various spots throughout the night - it was so cool to spend an evening at such a revered hockey site, which opened all the way back in 1910!


We climbed up all 294 steps to the top!
Our final day in Boston was a busy one, beginning with two of the Freedom Trail sights that we missed on Thursday: the U.S.S. Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument.  Each one offered historical insight and included museums with detailed facts about their inception, and I would highly recommend them both!

We then bid Boston farewell and drove north to Salem, the final destination of our trip.  In addition to discovering more about the infamous Witch Trials, we also learned of the nautical and maritime history of a town that is unfortunately more known for its 17th century notoriety.  Of course, we had to begin at the statue honoring the famous witch, Samantha, from the popular sitcom Bewitched:

After dining on more local cuisine - in this case, a fantastic bowl of clam chowder - we spent the rest of the afternoon walking throughout Salem, popping into various shops and museums.  Charlene did research ahead of time and found that our best bet for history on the Witch Trials would be the Jonathan Corwin House, which is the only structure still standing that has a connection to that most dark period in history.  The Witch House, as it is now known, offers an informative tour through the cramped building, documenting the persecution that those innocent women endured at the hands of fearmongers.

After an exhausting nine days that covered four states, it was time to return to Boston for our late evening flight back to Los Angeles.  We had completed "The Quest" in terrific fashion, and I couldn't be any more grateful to Chad for helping me accomplish this difficult task.  I know I made my father proud, and I can't wait to see where my future adventures will take me...


I was able to buy a shot glass at the Northeastern University bookstore, but I didn't find one that I liked at the Boston Bruins game, so I ordered this sweet ceramic glass online when I got home.  Can't forget the Boomer bobble head too!


Where to next?  That's a good question - the obvious thought would be to wait until the new Seattle franchise joins the NHL to extend "The Quest".  But for now, I guess there could also be some AHL locations to visit, like Cleveland or Milwaukee.  My wife and I want to see Mount Rushmore and Walt Disney World, and both of those cities have ECHL teams.  There's also still plenty of junior teams in Canada that I'd like to see.  Simply put, the possibilities are somewhat endless... 

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