The Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks play during the first period of a game Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks play during the first period of a game Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Patterson: Kraken’s first home game was quite the spectacle

Seattle opens Climate Pledge Arena with a loss to Vancouver, but it was a memorable night to witness.

SEATTLE — On Dec. 4, 2018, I found myself inside a packed Henry’s Tavern in South Lake Union as the NHL made its official announcement that Seattle was being awarded an expansion franchise, and the enthusiasm for hockey and its future in the city was palpable.

Nearly three years later we finally received the payoff from that moment, as the Seattle Kraken played their first home game Saturday night at the brand-new Climate Pledge Arena against the Vancouver Canucks.

Therefore I decided to chronicle the experience of attending that first game:

3 p.m.

I’ve arrived at the Mercer Parking Garage. There’s no media parking, and I had no idea how early I’d have to arrive to find a reasonable parking spot, but I seem to have beaten the rush. Though at $30, I don’t know how reasonable I’d call it.

3:30 p.m.

Having arrived so early, I decided to wander my way to the nearby Dick’s, which is holding a Seattle Kraken Home Opener Party, complete with bands playing in the parking lot — everyone in attendance is decked out in Kraken gear — and fries transformed into poutine courtesy of the Edgewater Hotel. Solid.

4:15 p.m.

A light sprinkle combined with sunbeams breaking through the clouds has caused a rainbow to appear as fans begin lining up at the door for the 5 p.m. door opening.

4:30 p.m.

I spy a young man dressed in a forest green Everett Silvertips jersey with the vintage “E” logo waiting in line to enter. It’s Emrys Harper-Peck, who’s here with his parents Sharon and Rick. Sharon and Rick traveled all the way from Whidbey Island (Emrys lives in Seattle) to attend the opener.

The Harper-Pecks are partial season-ticket holders for both the Kraken and Silvertips, and in their 38 games they have between the two teams there’s just one conflict. I asked them why it was important for them to be at Saturday’s home opener:

“Because it’s a historic moment,” Sharon Harper-Peck said. “It’s the first home game, and I’ve been involved in the NHL Seattle effort for five or six year now. It just feels like we’re going to witness a birth.”

5:15 p.m.

I arrive at my spot on press row and find my part of the counter is taken up by a screen on a stand, so I don’t have counter space for my laptop. Therefore I improvise, and swivel the screen so it’s flat and place my laptop on top of it. The view from my seat is great, however. We’re looking almost straight down at the ice, and I’m situated in front of one of the two giant hanging video boards. It’s a great vantage point for watching play develop, but perhaps a little challenging for anyone who has a fear of heights.

6:15 p.m.

I make my way down to the concourse and it’s a madhouse, with barely any room to move through the mass of humanity occupying the utilitarian concrete hallways, and the lines for the $16 artisan beers are 20 deep.

I happen across former Silvertips broadcaster Mike Benton, who’s now doing the pregame, intermission and postgame shows for the KJR radio broadcasts. He’s at a table open to the public in the concourse, busily reading off highlights from other games.

There are plenty of unique nooks and crannies to discover, including a living wall, where plants grow freely as part of Climate Pledge Arena’s sustainable architecture.

6:46 p.m.

The last player off the ice from warmups for the Kraken is Yanni Gourde. One of his final acts before departing for the locker room is tossing a puck over the glass to a fan in the front row.

6:57 p.m.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is on hand, and his, “Hello Seattle,” greeting to the crowd is met by thunderous boos. It seems Kraken fans have learned the standard NHL fan operating procedure.

7:01 p.m.

In contrast, Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke is met by massive cheers when he greets the crowd. He goes on to retire the No. 32 jersey in honor of the fans — specifically the 32,000 who put down deposits on season tickets on the first day they were available.

7:07 p.m.

We have our first, “Release the Kraken!” by the PA announcer, and staff/player introductions commence. Once the dressed players get their turn the cheers are pretty even for everyone, with the distinctive, “Gruuu!” for goaltender Philipp Grubauer perhaps standing out. That is clearly going to be a thing.

7:14 p.m.

Seattle native Ann Wilson, the lead singer of the rock band Heart, belts out, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and receives a massive ovation.

7:16 p.m.

Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird gets proceedings started with a hype session straight out of a Seahawks’ 12th-Man flag raising ceremony, and we have opening puck drop on top of a red line that has white anchors painted along it.

7:27 p.m.

We have the first penalty in Climate Pledge Arena history, and Seattle’s Jared McCann has that dubious distinction as he’s called for cross checking during a period of sustained Vancouver pressure.

7:48 p.m.

Seattle has it’s first power play as Vancouver’s Juho Lammikko is sent to the box for a silly hoooking penalty in the offensive zone. The song that plays over the PA system? Seattle grunge band Alice In Chains’ “Man In the Box,” of course.


The lamp is lit! The first goal in Climate Pledge Arena history is scored by Seattle defenseman Vince Dunn. The teams were engaged in a long scrum in the corner just after the Seattle power play expired, and the fans booed the lack of a whistle as Vancouver tired to kill the remainder of the first-period clock. But the puck eventually squirted free, Seattle worked it to Dunn gliding in from the left point, and Dunn wired a shot that beat Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko to the far-upper corner with just 3.2 seconds remaining in the period. Seattle’s goal song, “Lithium,” by yet another Seattle grunge band Nirvana, can barely be heard over the cheers from the fans.

8:10 p.m.

The first intermission is almost over and it’s been surprisingly tame. I guess I’m just used to the Silvertips’ steady stream of fan-involved entertainment between periods.

8:13 p.m.

The second period is about to begin and the top-level perch is occupied by another local legend. This time it’s hip-hop artist Macklemore hyping up the crowd as his hit, “Can’t Hold Us,” blares over the sound system.

8:15 p.m.

Hockey and blood seem to go hand-in-hand, and we have our first blood on the ice. Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes is the victim of friendly fire as teammate Tucker Poolman’s stick gets up in his face. Cleanup duty is left to the linesman.

8:37 p.m.

It’s a tie game. A poor outlet pass is intercepted by Vancouver’s Connor Garland, who immediately whips a pass to Bo Horvat streaking down the middle. Horvat’s wrister gets under Grubauer to knot it at 1-1.

9:10 p.m.

One last hype session to start the third period, and this one gets the loudest cheer of the bunch as Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and receiver DK Metcalf appear on the perch. I’ll be curious to see if this tradition continues all season. Even if it’s just for the start of the game, there are a lot more hockey games than football ones, so they might run out of celebrities.

9:18 p.m.

The fans have been really into this, and they’re going bonkers after Seattle captain Mark Giordano gives the Kraken a 2-1 lead early in the third period, his shot from the left circle beating Demko following a quick transition.

9:34 p.m.

It’s not over yet. Horvat taps in a rebound on a late power play following a slick passing sequence. It’s 2-2, and we have late drama in the home opener. The fans are all on their feet waiving towels during the final media timeout.

9:40 p.m.

Uh-oh. A misplay by Dunn at the blue line sees Garland blow by him for a breakaway, and Garland buries his shot to give the Canucks a 3-2 lead.

9:45 p.m.

Grubauer is pulled for the extra attacker and Vancouver immediately gets an easy empty-net goal from Justin Dowling. That will do it, as the sellout crowd of 17,151 is leaving disappointed, but not empty-handed. Despite the loss, this was a moment everyone in attendance will remember forever. They were a part of history.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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