We’re kicking off this weekly series now because we recognize the need to plan ahead for these trips: flights must be arranged, hotel reservations made, game tickets purchased, rental cars…rented, etc. We’ll give you some tips for the above necessities, but the primary purpose of The NHL Weekend Roadie is to point you towards a potentially fantastic hockey-related road trip for every weekend of the regular season. For each roadie, we’ll do our best to stick to the following criteria:
1. Minimum of two games.
2. Only one round-trip plane ticket needed (in other words, no flights from one game to the next).
3. Maximum of five days on the road (weekend included), because people who can afford to take these trips have a finite number of vacation days.
With those rules in mind, let’s get on with it:
NHL Opening Weekend (Friday, 8 OCT – Monday, 11 OCT)
As the title of this post indicates, the theme for the inaugural NHL Weekend Roadie is (with apologies to Billy Joel) Newark State of Mind. Your itinerary is as follows:
Friday, 8 OCT: Dallas @ New Jersey – Season opener for both clubs. Surely, Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract fiasco will be resolved by then. Regardless, the first game for the post-Modano, post-Turco (and post-Lehtinen?) Stars should be interesting.
Saturday, 9 OCT: Dallas @ NY Islanders – Actually, with the easier travel back east, you have about four game options for Saturday, but this is the only one which will allow you to get back to your hotel before about 4:00am. Besides, Nassau Coliseum may be a dump, but it’s an historic dump which won’t be around forever. Also, A) the arena food is above average, and B) great seats are still available…and will be, even on game day.
Sunday, 10 OCT: Sightseeing in New York – No games today, so go get a pie at Lombardi’s. Make the pilgrimage to Ground Zero and St. Paul’s Chapel. Do. Not. Miss. The NHL Store. Cap your day with a pint (or three) of Smiling Pumpkin Ale at the Empire State Building’s Heartland Brewery. Get to bed early, because tomorrow’s a big day.
Monday, 11 OCT: The Daily Double!! – Monday is Columbus Day, which means you have a rare opportunity: Pittsburgh visits New Jersey in a matinee game (1:00pm) and Colorado is at Philadelphia in the evening (7:00pm). Thanks to Amtrak, you can watch two NHL games in person, in their entirety, in one glorious day! We OGA boys did the Daily Double two years ago, watching Buffalo hammer the Isles in the afternoon, then taking the train back to Penn Station and reaching our seats at Madison Square Garden just in time for the Devils-Rangers lovefest. ‘Twas an unforgettable day.
In addition to an awesome experience, you’ll gain instant Hardcore Hockey Fan Street Cred by catching four NHL games in three days, in three different arenas. Don't let this opportunity pass you by! Start making your reservations today. A few tips for your trip:
HOTEL – I recommend using Hotwire. As I type this, they have a 3.5-star hotel in the Newark airport area for a reasonable (compared to NYC) $89/night. Prices change quickly and often, so book at your own risk.
FLIGHTS – If you’re going to fly in on Friday, book an early morning flight – they should be cheaper than flights later in the day, plus you need to give yourself a healthy time cushion between your scheduled arrival time and game time. If you do the Daily Double, plan on flying home Tuesday morning.
GAME TICKETS – Individual game tickets aren’t on sale yet, so you’ll have to check the team websites for more info. If a game is sold out, check the TicketExchange on each team’s website for seats from season ticket holders.
GETTING AROUND – If you ever have the chance to drive around the greater New York City area, pass. Take public transportation. Check out the Amtrak, NJTransit, PATH, MTA and LIRR sites for schedules, pricing and maps.
There you have it: the first NHL Weekend Roadie. Got any favorite places to eat or drink in Newark? Post it in the Comments. Any important info I left out? Post it in the Comments. Got a better idea for an Opening Weekend roadie? You get the idea.
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