Updated: April 4, 2013 6:12AM
I love the Chicago Blackhawks. Tickets to Chicago Wolves games are simply cheaper.
With that in mind, my two sons and I boarded a bus last weekend destined for a game between the Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs. Ironically, the IceHogs are the top affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wolves are the top affiliate of the rival Vancouver Canucks.
The men’s club at church organized the father-son outing. A game ticket, bus ride and signed souvenir puck cost $35 per person. The cost of three Wolves package tickets wouldn’t buy even a single seat in the same section at the United Center.
Regardless, the bus ride itself was a thrill. I hated riding the bus to school as a kid. Now, we live within walking distance of my sons’ elementary school. My 6- and 5-year-old boys rarely board a bus. So stepping on the retired Greyhound bus headed to Rosemont added to the excitement.
We arrived about 20 minutes prior to puck drop. Being early proved valuable, as the pregame activities were a high point of the afternoon. The Wolves also entered the rink near our seats.
The lights went out as introductions began. Then, fireworks erupted over the ice. Giant flames followed, shooting balls of fire into the air. We were so close that Bubba and Peter covered their faces to shield themselves from the heat. Music blared and a laser light show dazzled.
Once the game began, my sons’ attention shifted to snacks. A bag of popcorn satisfied them for most of the first period. And while the Wolves’ ticket prices are cheaper than the Blackhawks, the concession stand prices are on par with any other professional sporting event.
The second-period highlights included cotton candy. Bubba and his pal attacked the giant bag of blue sugar. With five minutes left in the period, Bub looked like he’d mauled a Smurf. His face was speckled blue. His teeth took on a scary blue tint, and blue slime was pressed beneath his fingernails.
The third period was marked by a dish of Dippin Dots. The game wasn’t even over before the sugar rush turned into a crash. Bubba and Peter had lost interest in the game. They spent the final minutes watching the boy in the row ahead of us play games on a cell phone.
Still, both boys seemed to have a good time. They screamed at the top of their lungs for every Fan-o-Meter throughout the game. And they danced in the seats while mouthing the words to the pop songs played between face-offs.
I’m certain having their friends along for the game added to the enjoyment. This also proved beneficial for me, as I was able to talk with other dads while our kids acted like goofballs only an arm’s length away.
The Wolves lost the game. That didn’t seem to matter much. Had we driven to the game, we’d likely have left early. Instead, Bubba and Peter fought sleep during the bus ride home. I shoved my sticky sons into a hot shower later that evening. They fell asleep shortly thereafter.
The next day, the boys had the equivalent of hangovers. Peter took a 3-hour nap. Bubba woke up hoarse. I picked him up early from school. Once home, Bub headed straight to the bathroom.
Later, I opened the newspaper and read about Blackhawks game the prior night. I skipped over the story about the Wolves game we attended.
Like I said, I love the Blackhawks. Tickets to Chicago Wolves games are simply cheaper.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.