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Last month Lisa Ovens had the opportunity to meet four Nashville Predator season ticket holders in Vancouver. Is it irony that they are in the post season and Lisa is not?

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Game One

by Lisa Ovens
Monday, April 14th, 2008

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Just under a year ago, the big topic in Vancouver and Canada in general was the pending sale of the Nashville Predators to Jim Balsillie. Canadian hockey fans and pundits alike spoke out loudly about how Nashville didn’t deserve an NHL team because, as they all felt, “no one cared about hockey in Nashville”. “Move the team to Hamilton” everyone agreed in unison.

And here we are, almost one year later, and it came down to the Predators and the Canucks fighting for that last spot in the Western Conference. the Nashville Predators are in the Playoffs, and the Vancouver Canucks are not.

Going back to last year, this Nashville hockey topic had dragged on and on through the summer. In fact, at my Canucks “State of the Franchise” season ticket holder meeting at the end of last June, it was the very first topic brought up at the round table discussion amongst local sports broadcasters on stage, prior to Dave Nonis addressing the crowd.

The amount of hand wringing over this issue led me to take a closer look at the hockey situation in Nashville. My findings: Nashville has a very passionate fan base. I wrote a couple of columns about Nashville last summer: click here and here.

I couldn’t help but support the “Save the Predators” movement because, well, it simply moved me. I am a hockey fan without borders. Often I am the hockey fan’s biggest fan. This doesn’t mean I think Hamilton doesn’t deserve an NHL team at all. It just means these Nashville Predator fans were so willing to move mountains to keep their team, that as a hockey fan, I had to do my part and support them. I sent down a Hockey & High Heels fun pack silent auction prize as a donation to help raise money to buy season tickets for the Boys and Girls Clubs and other non profit groups to enjoy hockey in Nashville. That’s a win win situation if there was one, if you ask me.

Eventually I heard from the woman who purchased the gift pack at one of the fundraisers. Her name is Sonya, a season ticket holder, a lovely woman who in turn supported me by purchasing books from me to give to her friends. Big shout out to Sonya – you rock!

And then I heard from Marie. Another Predators season ticket holder, Marie ordered a copy of H&HH, and also shared with me her feeling about the situation in Nashville. She also told me she was coming to Vancouver, along with three friends to catch the Preds play all three games on their Northwest Division road trip in March.

So last month, I had dinner, twice, with four delightful female hockey fans from Nashville. All season ticket holders, all serious hockey fans, these darlings of Tennessee met while talking hockey online on the Nashville Predators message board. Marie, also known as Predmaeden on the boards, the instigator of the trip, was a little surprised that she managed to pull off the planning successfully. “I knew it would be a little challenging once I had the idea to plan such a trip. Three cities in just under a week is a little crazy!”

The night before the game, I picked up Predmaeden, Fan Girl 10, PredatorsChick, and Dodgie at their hotel. We met at the lobby and I was greeted by four beautiful and lively female hockey fans. They had an aura about them, maybe you could call it “Tennessee Charm” that seemed to attract looks and smiles from everyone we met that night.

Dinner was a fantastic time for the five of us to share our hockey stories and experiences. We covered so many topics including differences between being a hockey fan in Tennessee vs. a fan in Vancouver. They told me about the fan experience at Predators games in the Sommet Center. After hearing their description, dang, I gotta go down there and check it out! Naturally we talked about the concern and struggle they faced throughout the sale of the team and what is was like to defend hockey in Nashville and at the same time keep their spirits high over a bumpy ride of a season.

The next night, we met for dinner again before the game. We went to a pub that hosts the Canucks Team 1040 Pre Game radio show. As we walked by show host Dave Pratt and Province columnist, Tony Gallagher, I said, “Hey Tony, look it’s a Predators fan from Nashville” as I pointed to Predmaeden. He didn’t miss a beat and shot back “Oh that’s nice but wouldn’t it be better if fans stayed in Nashville to watch the games?” Oh Geez, Tony, you are going to have to be a better super host – the 2010 Olympics are coming and this town’s gonna be crawling with visiting team fans!!!

Another great dinner, with the girls all dressed in their Predators gear. However the serving staff did seat us in the back of the restaurant and threatened to bring our food late. My Canucks vest wasn’t enough to over power the mustard, black and silver I guess.

We parted at game time as we were sitting in opposite sections at GM Place. I did spot the girls cheering when the Preds scored. It was a 6-2 loss for the Preds that night, and sadly the girls endured a little abuse from the fans behind them...

Just a Quick Public Service Announcement to hockey fans: Foam Fingers and flags are instruments designed for home team support. They are not meant to be used as poking devices, as in poking the heads belonging to the fans of the visiting teams.

The next day Predmaeden, Dodgie, PredatorsChick and Fan Girl 10 headed to Calgary for the last game of the trip. This trip was surely going to be a big part of their collective hockey scrapbooks, and I am so pleased that I was a small part of it.

I received a phone call from Predmaeden the night the Predators clinched their playoff spot. She expressed her condolences to me as the Canucks had missed the playoffs. She told me about that cheer, some of you may have heard about it. It was the spontaneous cheer that erupted in the stands at Sommet Center when the fans realized they were going to the 2008 playoffs. She said it was thrilling and, at the same time, a cheer of relief for the fans in Nashville. The cheer held up the game for about four minutes. I couldn’t help but feel happy for the Marie and her friends, and all who are supporting the team. They really do care about hockey in Nashville.

Tonight the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs come to Nashville. It’s game three, a must win for the Predators. They are down 2-0 in the series as they are face a very talented and determined Detroit Red Wings team. I’ll be watching this game and scanning the crowds for any glimpse of Fan Girl 10, Dodgie, PredatorsChick and the Predmaeden. I’ve seen them in action. And who knows, maybe I’ll get to Nashville next season and experience the “Hockey Tonk” in Nashville and catch a Preds game with my new hockey friends.

Happy Playoffs, everybody!

Don't forget the SWAG!!!!!

To see the Nashville Predators vs. The Detroit Red Wings *s*w*a*g* OFF, and other playoff match ups, click here

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