Unsere Buffalo Sabres Sind Berliner
by Peter Farrell - posted 5:38 pm, October 8, 2011
This afternoon at O2 World Berlin, the Buffalo Sabres helped make a bit of hockey history, as they joined with the Los Angeles Kings in presenting the first ever NHL regular season game on German soil.
Buffalo won the game 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals by Luke Adam, Paul Gaustad and Drew Stafford. A fifth goal by Patrick Kaleta was disallowed because of a high stick pass by Cody McCormick. Nonetheless the Sabres fought off the fatigue of a two hour flight delay out Helsinki, having gotten around 4 AM, and as a result improved their record to 2-0.
The fans were clearly in support of Buffalo. All the Sabres merchandise at concession stands sold out early, while Kings gear remained on the shelves. The Sabres obliged by first giving the fans a stick salute at center ice, then, in true European style, raced towards each end zone and gave the fans yet another wave.
“It was all Christian Ehrhoff’s idea,” said Tyler Ennis. “He suggested it and we all thought it would be a good idea so we decided to roll with it.” Will the Sabres try such a display for the home fans at the First Niagara Center, bringing a taste of Euro hokcey for the Buffalo fans? “We’ll think about it,” replied Ryan Miller. “The guys really enjoyed doing it and we will be bringing a lot more home from this trip.” Thomas Vanek, speaking to packed house of German and Austrian media, added, “Well we’ll try to bring back the German beer, but we enjoyed it and then some.”
Vanek, who received second star honors, clearly savored the moment, doing a victory lap around the ice and tossing his hat and stick into the crowd. The adoring fans raised the noise level in reply to their hero.
As for our itinerary, the USRT whirlwind trip began in Helsinki this morning, as we made the trek to Helsinki-VAntaa airport for the short flight back to Berlin. There were more than a few Sabres fans wearing team gear in the airport, awaiitng flights over for part two of this regular season odyseey. Everyone was in good spirits and having a good time. Our flight went without a hitch, and we returned to the Westin Grand on Friedrichstrasse, grabbed some lunch and relaxed in preparation for tonight’s game.
O2 World Arena is a glitzy and sexy new structure, owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, and yes, the buildng has many similarities to LA’s Staples Center. It is on the Warschauer Strasse S-bahn exit in East Berlin, and the neighborhood surrounding the venue is gritty, industrial, barren, typical East Berlin and a work in progress. We can only surmise that the land was cheaper and more available than in the denser West end of the city.
From the get go one could see that this would be a very different crowd than that of last night. Plenty of Sabres jerseys spotted on the streets of Berlin, and outside the arena, and once things go going in the building, it was the Sabres being serendaded to the music of “Street Fighting Man” and “Sabre Dance”, chants of “Let’s Go Buffalo” wafting throughout the bowl, and also chants of “To-Mas Van-ek”, many Vanek jerseys also spotted in the crowd. The Buffalo Sabres and their supporters took over the O2 in Berlin on this night.
We hope you, our friends, our supporters, and our readers, have enjoyed our coverage from Europe on this amazing Ultimate Sports Road Trip adventure, via Artvoice, Artvoice Daily and WNYMedia. Tomorrow, Day 10, we will spend our final day in Europe on a whirlwind sightseeing tour of this wonderful city, then time to back our bags and head back home to our jobs and our real lives back in Buffalo. We will have a final wrap up on the trip up in a couple of days.
Danke Deutschland! Danke Berlin! And lots of love from the USRT