ShoWare Center in Kent made its big debut last night, and opening night would have to be classified a success. A sellout crowd of 6,125 — with approximately 500 fans waiting in line before the doors opened almost two hours before the opening puck drop — coupled with a 4-3 victory over Everett, I’m not sure the T-birds could have asked for more.
Anyway, here’s some of my observations from the ShoWare Center opener:
– The building looks great both inside and out. The exterior is unique with the thin green lights built into the walkway and the angled mirrored overhang. Inside the concourse feels a little utilitarian, but the neon green paint on the concourse floor and for the section numbers on the wall gives it its own touch.
– The arena itself has a very intimate feel because it’s just the single bowl.
– You shouldn’t have any trouble if you’re seeking food or souvenirs. The concourse includes six concession stands and three souvenir stands (the team store and two booths around the concourse).
– But don’t plan on getting your exercise laps in during the intermissions. The concourse doesn’t span the entire 360 degrees because the locker rooms block the way in one end zone.
– Those end-zone locker rooms mean the teams have to skate across the ice to get to their benches rather than having bench access directly from the locker room. That makes life a little more complicated for athletic trainer Chris Walker and equipment manager James Stucky.
– A large number of Silvertip jerseys in the crowd. Good job snapping up those tickets.
– It’s unfortunate there had to be one ugly moment when a couple fans threw debris onto the ice after a possible Seattle goal was waived off. I was shocked that play was allow to continue while full water bottles were exploding on the ice.
– The one complaint I’d register is strictly based on the fact that I’m in the media. The press box is in the corner rather than at center ice, making it a bit of a strain to see the far end of the rink. I suppose it’s not too much of an adjustment for those used to the press box at KeyArena, which wasn’t centered either due to the odd hockey configuration in the building. If anyone happens to be in a center suite for future games against Everett and wants to give me an invite, I’d be happy to join the party (he, he).
So it was a lot of fun last night and I look forward to seeing more games there in the future.
As for the game itself, it was a rough one for Everett for 55 minutes before the Tips made it exciting at the end. Penalties just killed Everett as the power plays were 9-2 in favor of Seattle midway through the third period. Some of those penalties were just awful — I think I counted three stick penalties in the offensive zone. Everett coach John Becanic wasn’t so much upset with the calls against his team as the non-calls against Seattle. My own personal view is that the T-birds, jacked up for the opener, appeared to be playing on the edge, and it was curious they were only penalized twice in the first 50 minutes given how many borderline hits there were. But the Tips mounted a spirited comeback in the final five mintues, and Shane Harper, who scored twice, nearly had a chance to tie it in the dying seconds.
Everett gave an unexpected early debut to new goaltender Thomas Heemskerk, and I came away very impressed. He may have given up four goals, but none were soft, and there was only so much he could do with the Tips short-handed much of the game. Heemskerk exuded a confidence I’m not sure we’ve seen from an Everett goalie yet this season.
Tips star Kyle Beach suffered a broken nose and didn’t play in the game’s final 27 minutes (he was penalized for 17 of those minutes anyway for instigating a fight with Brad Haber). Beach took on Haber because of one of those questionable hits, when Haber knocked a vulnerable Harper head-first into the boards. Beach lost the fight, but I’m not 100-percent sure that’s when he suffered the broken nose. He got caught in the face by a shoulder from Stefan Warg early in the game and was holding his face as he headed back to the bench, so it may have happened there.