We say it all the time, but we do truly believe it: Austin is an amazing place to raise a family. With this in mind, we’re on a mission to go discover all the things which make our town special. To help get out more without getting overwhelmed, we came up with the Austin Bucket List project. Each year, we pick 10 things we’d like to do in Austin — with or without our kids. That sounds doable, doesn’t it? Then, we document our adventures here, with the idea of getting each of you inspired to do the same.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m pretty clueless about hockey. I play soccer, so I get the basic idea of putting the puck in the net, but I have little to no clue about icing, power plays and I had never been to a Texas Stars game. Until this weekend.
A mom friend at school mentioned that she took her daughters to a game, and that they all had a blast, so I put it on my mental bucket list. It took practically the whole season to make it happen, but a group of 20 of us watched the Stars play the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Cedar Park Center. I’m happy to report that not only did we cross this item off my bucket list, but we all had a great time.
The Texas Stars are part of the American Hockey League, a 30-team professional league with teams in the United States and Canada. The only other AHL team in Texas is the San Antonio Rampage. The Stars are the minor league affiliate of the Dallas Stars (similar to how the Round Rock Express is connected to the Texas Rangers), and home games are played at the Cedar Park Center. In 2014, the Stars took home the Calder Cup, awarded annually to the top team in the league.
After a few false starts, I looked at the schedule and found a game that started at 7pm on a Saturday night. I sent an email to a handful of moms from school a few weeks before the game, thinking it would be more fun to go with friends. I was thrilled to have five families respond. I called the Group Sales office to see if it would make more sense to have us purchase family four pack tickets (each ticket comes with a hot dog and drink) or group tickets. The person I spoke with found us tickets that would qualify for the free hot dog and drinks and was able to get all the kids sitting in front of the adults, which I thought would be even more fun. One mom missed my email, but I was able to give her the name of the person I spoke to, and he found a few extra seats right next to our section, so she and her daughter were able to sit with us, which was great.
I learned that gates open one hour prior to the game, and that parking is included in the price of admission (I had heard some gripes from friends about paying extra for parking at Cedar Park Center, this was a nice bonus). Although we could have arrived right at 6pm to get a promotional item that was being given away that game, we opted to get there at 6:30pm. Luckily, it was a breeze to get to the Center on the toll road and it only took us a few minutes to park, and we were able to get a spot reasonably close to the entrance. We arrived at practically the same time as a few of the other families, so we all met at Will Call and I was able to leave tickets for the other family to pick up shortly afterwards. We picked up our hot dogs and drinks and headed to the stands.
I was shocked at how close our seats were, even though we were in the back row. We were by one of the goals, but it was still easy to see what was going on. I had seen an Ice Bats game at the Expo Center years ago, and this experience was far superior. The music and lights were loud, but not too loud for any of the kids, which was a relief since sometimes my son complains about the noise level at events like this. Even better, I had no problem talking to my friends next to me during the game.
I quickly remembered that I had met someone earlier who recommended bringing a cowbell, since fans use these during the games and they are expensive to buy there. No one in our group had one, and although some fans did, I felt like it wasn’t a necessity, so I breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t be asked to buy that for the next few hours by my child.
I had no idea what the kids would think of hockey. A few had been before, and they took the lead, cheering on the home team. At some points, their enthusiasm was so vigorous that we had to tell the kids to tone it down, but they did a great job at paying attention to the game and cheering (the crew of a dozen kids ranged from first grade through 5th graders). Of course, it didn’t hurt that we took advantage of the break between periods to treat them to popcorn, cotton candy and Amy’s Ice Creams.
I had no idea before the game that the Stars had won the Calder Cup, so watching them dominate during the game and score lots of goals made for a really exciting experience. The kids were totally shocked about the fighting during the games, and there was plenty of it. Between all of us adults, we were able to piece together enough knowledge about the sport to answer most of the kids’ questions.
At the end of the second period, another family and ours made the call to head home, since it was 8:45pm and we wanted to get the kids in bed at a decent hour (and we had a 20 minute drive home). The rest of the families got to see a few more goals and celebrate the Stars’ road to another Calder Cup.
As we left, one of my friends mentioned that her husband suggested they buy season tickets. My husband said he would definitely want to go to a game a year. I was so pleased it all came together and to cross attending a hockey game off my bucket list! What a fun night! If you’d like to see the Stars play this season, you have one more chance, this Saturday, April 18th against San Antonio.
Have you been to a Stars game? If so, any suggestions? Do you have a bucket list for Austin? If so, what’s on it?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 9-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]