College Hockey Slap Schotts: Looking forward to going home
Growing up in Philadelphia and being a big Flyers fan, I dreamed of one day either covering the team as a reporter, or following in the footsteps of the late Gene Hart and be the team’s broadcaster.
Well, that dream didn’t come true. But I am going to experiencing a different thrill next week.
I will get to cover Union in my hometown.
Granted, it won’t be at the late, great Spectrum (America’s Showplace, as Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan always reminded us, and it was), but across the parking lot at the Wells Fargo Center. I’ve only been there once before, and it was for the AHL All-Star game back in the late 1990s.
I’ve been a sportswriter for 30 years. I have covered hockey for 29 of those years, the last 23 with the Dutchmen. I have covered the Hershey Bears when they won the Calder Cup in 1988. I have reported on numerous ECAC Hockey and NCAA tournaments.
But, for me, this is the pinnacle of my career. I’m going to get to go home and cover hockey in my hometown. I’m going to get to spend some time with my Mom (better known as The Queen) in the house I grew up in. The rate to spend there is cheap. Back when I used to cover the Dutchmen’s road games and it took me to Princeton (about 35 minutes north of where I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia), I would get to stay at Chez Schott. The room rate was reasonable (60 cents a night), and there was always a continental meal. I think my Mom has double the room for the Frozen Four.
And I would invite my media friends up for dinner, but I don’t think my Mom’s neighbors would appreciate a shuttle bus trying to get up the narrow street she lives on.
Being able to sit inside the Wells Fargo Center will be a thrill. I know the Spectrum isn’t there anymore — there is an entertainment complex occupying the spot where the Spectrum stood — but I have so many memories of going to Flyers games there with my parents and friends. Back in the Broad Street Bullies’ era, we were fortunate to have season tickets. The Flyers were so popular that if you didn’t have a season ticket, you were out of luck.
I was in the Spectrum the afternoon of May 19, 1974, when the Flyers beat the Boston Bruins, 1-0, to win their first Stanley Cup. Sitting in Section 5, Row 11, Seat 13, on that hot Sunday afternoon was a memory I will never forget. I was able to get out of school the next day and go with my Dad to the parade.
I was also in the Spectrum the afternoon of Jan. 11, 1976, when the Soviet Red Army team walked out on the Flyers because the Flyers were playing too rough. The Soviets came back, and the Flyers beat them, 4-1.
I did cover some Flyers games when I worked for the York Daily Record, and that was fun. The Flyers were affiliated with the AHL’s Hershey Bears at the time, and I was the YDR’s Bears beat writer.
I know there will be some emotions for me when I enter the Wells Fargo Center for next Wednesday’s practices. I really with my late Dad was here to join me. He would enjoy it.
But once I get settled into the media area, it will be time to take my emotions out of it. I have a job to do, and that is provide you with great coverage of the Dutchmen as they try to win their first NCAA title.
So, what is there for not only Union fans, but college hockey fans to do in Philadelphia when there aren’t any games?
For starters, the Phillies will be home next week. Their Citizens Bank Park opener is Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers at 3:05 p.m. The teams will play again next Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. and Thursday, also at 7:05 p.m. If you are driving to the Frozen Four, I would plan on getting there a bit earlier to ensure a good parking spot at the sports complexes in South Philadelphia.
If you are staying in downtown Philadelphia, you can take the Broad Street Subway to the Wells Fargo Center. You can get the subway at the City Hall station. It’s about a 10 to 15 minute ride.
As for the nightlife in downtown Philadelphia, I’ll point you to www.visitphilly.com. Click here. A lot has changed in the 33 years since I left to go to college, and I never, ever experienced the downtown nightlife. Seriously. Really.
Of course, you MUST eat a cheesesteak. The two popular choices are Pat’s and Geno’s. They are located across the street from each other at 9th Street and Passyunk Ave. Two other recommendations are Tony Luke’s, which is underneath I-95 at 39 Oregon Ave., and Jim’s Steaks at the corner of 4th and South streets.
And don’t forget to get a genuine Philadelphia soft pretzel.
Baby boy for the Tapps
Congratulations to Union assistant coach Jason Tapp and his wife, ABC10 (WTEN) news anchor and reporter Nicole Lally, on the birth of their third child on Tuesday. Kellen William Tapp arrived at 8:29 a.m. and weight 6 lbs., 12 ounces.
Lally tweeted that everyone is doing well.
Back to Bridgeport
The New Haven Register reported Tuesday that Union will return to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., next season to participate in a tournament with UConn, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart Dec. 27-28.
If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Twitter @slapschotts. Also, please become a fan of two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette On Ice, and my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.
Good Tuesday! Good Hockey!
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