21st anniversary of attending my first San Jose Sharks game
“We are going to the Sharks game!”
Those were the first words out of my dad’s mouth in Jan. 1993 when he entered the house moments after his shift with the Sheriff’s Department ended for the night.
A couple weeks prior, my dad had asked me if I wanted to see the Sharks play at the Cow Palace if he could get tickets in the Sheriff’s Department raffle.
Being an excited eight year old at the time, I of course said, “Yes, I want to go see the Sharks.”
Even though I was excited, I didn’t know much about the game of hockey. I had seen a few games on television but nothing substantial. I knew who Wayne Gretzky was but that was because of the Pro Stars NBC Saturday morning cartoon and the Wayne Gretzky Hockey NES video game I had gotten for my eighth birthday in Nov. 1992, which was also the day I saw the original Mighty Ducks movie in theaters.
As soon as my dad said we were going to the game, he showed me the two tickets and said I had to keep my grades up. Not only did I keep my grades up, I started watching hockey more frequently on ESPN so I could better understand the game. However, I didn’t get to see a Sharks game on television as ESPN didn’t televise their games (nor mention them on SportsCenter) and the cable provider in my hometown didn’t offer the then SportsChannel network or the KICU channel.
Despite not being able to see a Sharks game on television, I was still excited about getting to see the Sharks play live. In fact, I started telling everyone at school (even if they weren’t listening to me) that I was going to see the Sharks. To this day, I think I was the only person in the entire school excited about going to a hockey game as everyone else was into baseball, basketball and football.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, the day finally arrived. That morning, my third grade class took a field trip to the fairgrounds for an agricultural/science workshop and all I could think about was getting to see the Sharks that night. School got out early as it was a minimum day and as soon as my parents picked me up, we started the long drive from South Monterey County all the way up to Daily City.
My grandparents on my mom’s side lived in San Mateo at time and we stopped there to rest for a bit before my dad and I made the 18-minute drive to the Cow Palace (my mom and brother, who was two-and-a-half years old at the time, stayed with my grandparents).
During the short drive over to the Cow Palace, my dad kept asking me, “Are you sure you want to go?” I didn’t even hesitate when I said, “TOTALLY!” As my dad pulled up closer to the Cow Palace, I read the scrolling text on the electronic sign out front that said, “Tonight, 7:30, Jets vs. SHARKS.” Upon seeing that electronic message, I felt a rush of excitement come over me I had never felt before even though I had been to the Cow Palace a few times prior for then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) live events and Disney on Ice.
As my dad and I walked into the Cow Palace, I found myself surrounded in a sea of teal as the smell of hot dogs and popcorn found their way to my nose. I noticed everything in the corridor looked the same as it did for the WWF events I had attended with the only thing different being the merchandise stands were selling Sharks gear instead of WWF shirts and posters. Immediately, I eyed the Sharks white jersey and my dad said, “We will come back later to the booth. Let’s go to our seats.”
I took one step into the seating area on one of the goalie ends and my jaw dropped. I was in awe of the hockey rink, the players and the giant Sharks flag hanging in the rafters. After several minutes of taking everything in, I gave my dad a giant hug and said, “THANK YOU SO MUCH!”
As for the game, the Sharks played hard but lost 9-5. I remember the fans in the section we were sitting in loved Sharks forward Kelly Kisio, who finished with four points on two goals and two assists, and cheered wildly everytime his name was mentioned by the PA announcer. Also with a four point game that night was Sharks forward Johan Garpenlöv, who registered a hat-trick and yes, I tried to convince my dad to throw his hat onto the ice, to which he laughingly said, “I don’t think so.”
Despite the loss, I walked a little taller and a little prouder the next day at school as I was wearing my brand new (and first ever) Sharks jersey, the same one I had eyed at the merchandise stands.