Ben provided this excellent FanPost recapping last night's big viewing party downtown, so I wanted to promote it to the main page to make sure it gets the attention it deserves. Keep up the great work, folks, the FanPosts and commentary on this site over the last week has done Nashville proud as a hockey town. - Dirk
What better way is there to sum up the greatest Friday Night in Music City in a long time?
Sure, the night started off normal and unassuming. But there was a quiet energy rumbling in the Music City on Friday. It was noticeable everywhere. Something big was happening. Fang Fever was taking its hold on Nashville...
Nationally the Nashville Predators were already written off. ESPN and Versus commentators were quick to compare the team that had never won a road game, to the team boasting an all star line up. Nashville was already out. But strangely, the Predators fans, forgot to pay attention. All around Nashville, fans wore their finest attire. On an 80 degree day, people were wearing their hockey sweaters. Sweatshirts, T Shirts, Caps, beads, pajama pants, it didn't matter what, anyone with anything Preds was wearing it. Then, to top it off, the Musica Statue on 16th avenue was "Predatorized." Anonymous fans decked the statue out with hockey sticks, banners, jerseys and even a replica Stanley Cup. Fang Fever was definitely taking its hold on Nashville.
104.5 the Zone and Sports Seasons teamed up with the Blackstone Brewery to put on an awesome viewing party. I arrived at the party about 4:30pm, three hours before game time. Even so early, a crowd of probably 20 or 30 people or more had started to gather. The Zone had a table at the front set up full of swag from the station, and the entry tables. Fans were invited to pick who would score the Preds first goal. There was also a drawing to enter a hot dog eating contest, (Which I was NOT selected for ...boo) , for four lower bowl seats to the Tuesday, April 20th game.
The crowds kept pouring in to the Blackstone. By 5:15 all of the tables in the back room were full. By 6:00 the Blackstone staff was finding seats for fans anywhere they could. At about 5:50 pm the hot dog contest began. I wont go so far as to say that money was placed on which contestant would win, but I won't say that it wasn't. I know that Frank in the Green Shirt was the Cellblock favorite, but I thought that it may just be one of the skinny guys that would attack the dogs Joey Chestnut style. In the end, Frank did win, employing the Kobiyashi technique of dipping the buns in water. Frank, a Predators Season Ticket Holder, than did one of the classiest things a fan can do. Already having tickets to the game, he split his 4 tickets, and gave a pair to each of the contestants who were not STH so they could enjoy the game too.
Sport Seasons provided several 50.00 gift certificates and drawings were held throughout the night for these. 104.5 also had drawings for Zone gear and Nashville Predators giveaways. About 6:00 the TVs were switched to Versus, and the crowd settled in to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators game. The energy level throughout the Blackstone continued to rise. Even though the game only started 30 minutes later than normal, Preds fans had been waiting 6 days for this night, and anticipation was swelling. By 7:15, with the restaurant at standing room only, the atmosphere was almost electric. And at the same time, I think more than one person started popping tums or Rolaids. I know I was sure wishing for some. Codey and Jeremy from Section303 did a great job of throwing the crowd over the top. LETS GO PREDATORS cheers started erupting.
FINALLY the puck dropped, and at that moment, I think the atmosphere changed, we weren't just a couple hundred people sitting in a restaraunt with a game on. We were a couple hundred friends getting together to watch a little Playoff hockey. Complete with that one idiot friend rooting for the other team. During TV timeouts the giveaways were conducted. I am not going to even try to recap the game itself here, there are dozens others who can do it better than me, but with it still 0-0 after the 1st period, the sense of the crowd was relief and excitement. We made it through 1, 2 more to go. Even after the 2nd period goal by the Blackhawks, the crowd was still ready. We were down by one now, this was our game. During the 2nd intermission Predators PA announcer Paul McCann and his family were able to join the fun. And then it happened, so very early into the 3rd period, JP Dumont scored. The Blackstone went nuts. It was just like being in the arena. Hugs, High Fives, Paul screaming J P DuuuuuuuuMonnnntttttttttttttttttttttttttttt. I actually saw someone outside, on the side walk stop and try to look in the windows what was going on.
As for the previously mentioned guess the first goal contest.Out of a max capacity crowd, 4 people had JP Dumont. I bet their friends or spouses made fun of them, or they were already drunk. But either way, they didn't stop believing. Then, the unthinkable happened. JP Dumont scored, again! Now, I thought the crowd had given everything that it could after that first goal. I was wrong. I stood back and just took in the scene for a moment. The high fives, the hugs, the cheers. and a glimmer. Across the room, every single fan had a glimmer in their eye. The Predators were WINNING! Now we were really playing our game. Up 2-1, in the third, a close game. This was almost every game of the season. The fans at Blackstone were fired up, Then the Smithson empty Net. The Preds were going to win. Everyone was on their feet. The Curse Was OVER! The PREDS WON A ROAD PLAYOFF GAME! In all the excitement, we almost missed it, but there it was, Martin Erat, Spinderella himself, with the puck, and an empty net ahead. The Preds, who had no chance of beating the Blackhawks, just won 4-1.
The crowd at the Blackstone was through the roof at this point. The Cellblock guys were amazing getting the crowd up with Ole! I don't think anyone really wanted to leave, sure some people trickled out, but for five or ten minutes, the everyone just celebrated, the realization of what had just happened finally sank in.
A huge thanks to all the fans, the Blackstone and it's staff, Sport Seasons, and 104.5 The Zone. This was truly a remarkable party for Predators fans.