Category Archives: It’s A Jersey Thing

Devils Army (Re)United

I’ve learned over the last couple of years that when you come to love hockey and follow a team closely, sometimes it’s hard to occupy yourself in the off season. After coming down off the roller coaster ride of excitement, I start to get slightly depressed thinking about how much I miss the atmosphere of game day and being with all the great people I’ve become friends with throughout the season (and now, years!).

After experiencing my first playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals as a fan, it was especially awesome knowing there were people around me who understood the various emotions bursting out. I never imagined I could get so overly emotional over a GAME. Having experienced it first hand NOW, I think I’ll handle myself better in the future, but at the time it was all raw, new and exciting. The upside of all of it is that the bonds I formed with my friends are stronger than ever before, and THIS summer we all made it our mission to see each other more often to ease the boredom and depressing aspect of waiting.

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This is Our Team, Our Town Devils Army

Devils Army 2012 Eastern Conference Finals

Photo Credit: New Jersey Devils

For the fifth time in franchise history the New Jersey Devils will be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. I was fortunate enough to be at Game 7 of 2003 when the Devils won their most recent championship. I stood next to my Dad as the seconds ticked down and Gary Bettman walked out, grabbed Lord Stanley’s Cup and handed it off to Scott Stevens. If you ask me what my best Devils’ memory is, well without a doubt, it’s that game. Now, when you ask my father, he’s often quick to say watching me watching the Devils win the Cup. That always resonated with me.

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Adam Poch: Reality Show Contestant… and Devils Fan?

Devils Army Generals with Adam Poch at the Digital Zone

Devils Army Generals with Adam Poch at the Digital Zone

Adam Poch may seem intimidating to those who don’t know much about him, but don’t let the metalhead persona and piercings fool you. The self-proclaimed “Heavy Metal Teddy Bear” was selected last summer to be a contestant on the 13th season of the hit reality show Big Brother. And the New Jersey native almost won!

Adam’s claim to fame on the show was his penchant for heavy metal music while embracing his softer side as an unashamed fan of the TV show Beverly Hills, 90210. But heavy metal devil horns aren’t the only horns this Hoboken resident is sporting.

Adam is a lifelong Devils fan. Despite his busy schedule, Adam has come to a few games at the Rock this season, and a few of the Generals had the opportunity to meet him recently during the January 17 game vs Winnipeg and the February 2 game vs Montreal. I was fortunate enough to be able to ask him a few questions about his experience as a Devils fan and his experience on the show.

For those unfamiliar, Big Brother is a reality competition game show that forces a group of contestants to live together in a house under constant surveillance, 24 hours a day, cut off from the outside world. There are weekly contests, prizes, and evictions, and the last person standing wins the grand prize of $500,000. Adam placed third out of fourteen contestants.  Here’s what he had to say:

What’s your “Devils” story? How did you come to be a fan? How long have you been a fan?

My Temple’s youth group went to a Devils game back in 1984. They were playing the Islanders and lost 5-4 in OT. But it was so much fun watching a hockey game live–I was hooked. Been a fan ever since.

Did you go to a lot of games growing up?

I grew up in East Brunswick, and when my friends and I started getting our drivers’ licenses, we would head up the Turnpike to go to games. Even though I was underage, tailgating was so much fun! I remember going to a Devils/North Stars game in February–it was FREEZING. My buddy and I sat in the car and took turns flipping the frozen burgers on the grill. We did not get into the game until the second period because it was so cold.

How often do you get to come to games now?

I go to about 10 games a year. I love the new arena. I was at the first game there. It was such an improvement over Brendon Byrne or whatever that place is called now! I loved seeing the murals all over the place. This is truly the Devils home!

Where’s your favorite place to watch when you can’t attend?

I love watching the games at home. The Devils have had some great play-by-play guys over the years. My favorite was Gary Thorne. But, c’mon, we all watch to see what Chico is gonna say, do, or eat! I am sure my neighbors do not like when I watch games at home, because I usually end up screaming at the TV. In fact, growing up, my father would not let me watch West Coast road games, because I would wake him up with my tantrums.

Who is your all-time favorite Devils player?

My all-time favorite player is Captain Kirk! No matter how bad the team was doing, you always knew he was going to give 100%. My favorite team of all time was the 1987-88 team that squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the season. I get the chills when I think about the call, “Cirella shoots, Pang save! MacLean HE SCORES! HE SCORES! THE DEVILS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME!” Yeah, that is from memory! The playoff run that year was great even though they did not win the cup. My other favorite player from that era was Dougie Brown. For all the younger fans, think John Madden! I remember going crazy (but trying not to yell) when Brown scored the OT game winner in Game 2 of the Conference Championship against the Bruins.

Who is your current favorite Devils player?

Right now, besides Marty, I like watching Zach Parise. He’s a homegrown player. I am glad he has come back after being injured last season. I cannot wait to see him raise the Cup!

Do you have a favorite piece of Devils memorabilia?

My Marty Brodeur jersey that I have had since 1999, has autographs from a lot of the players. I used to hang outside of the arena after games to meet the players. Sadly I do not have Marty’s autograph on it. But I remember chasing down Scott Gomez in his SUV to get him to sign it. Now if he sees me running after his car, he better not stop!

What’s your favorite Devils memory?

Wow–there were so many, but without a doubt, the 2000 Stanley Cup. I was at Game 1, and that was a rout. I never heard the arena that loud in all my years going. Even Kenny D got into the scoring. The bus back to the city that night was rocking. Then of course the final two games both went to OT, with Arnott scoring the series winner. The 1995 Cup was pretty awesome too. The fact that I was at Game 1 of the 2000 Cup makes it more personal to me.

You have a pretty strong social media presence with over 10,000 followers on Twitter and almost 3,000 fans on Facebook. What’s the question or comment that you get most often?

People always post bacon pictures or something about bacon on my wall. Bacon is to food as the Devils are to sports for me. I have great childhood memories of bacon and the Devils! Nothing that combines the two, but two of my favorite things in life!

What’s your favorite heavy metal band?

The band that made me into the metalhead I am today is Iron Maiden. In 1986, my friend played Powerslave for me, and my life was changed forever. From 1987 until now, I have seen them on every tour, sometimes two or three times per tour. “Fear of the Dark” is my favorite song by them!

You came so close to making it all the way to the end of Big Brother and you probably would have won if you did. What was your favorite part of your experience on Big Brother? Biggest challenge?

Yeah, third place. I was so close, I could taste the money. But I blew it at the end and did not earn my spot in the final two. If I made it to the final two chairs, I may have won. I knew going into the house I would have to earn the win, and I did not–so I am ok with it! Other than the obvious, meeting Tori Spelling, the best part for me was just getting on there. I have been a fan of the show for years, and have tried to get on a few times. To know there are only about 150 people to accomplish getting on there and I am one of them is the biggest thrill. My favorite challenge on the show was Big Brother Odyssey where we had to roll a ball back and forth on a slanted platform 300 times without dropping it. Even though I did not win, I lost by two to Jeff–it showed me I could compete in a tough physical challenge. Kinda like the 1987-88 Devils.

You tend to idolize the bad guys in Big Brother like “Evel” Dick (Donato), are you the same with your favorite hockey players?

Hahaha – yeah. Evel Dick was my all time favorite, and he had an enforcer type approach to playing the game. I would say he was like Scott Stevens. You could not go past him with your head down or he would level you. Last season I rooted for this season’s winner Rachel. She was more like a Claude Lemieux. Aggressive at times, but had the skills to back it up.

What Devils players would do well in the Big Brother house?

Well, he is not a current Devil, but Brian Gionta would probably do pretty well. It’s not always the biggest strong people that win. Sometimes the smaller scrappy people get further because they do better in endurance challenges. Funny story about him: I saw his second game down in Tampa. He was standing next to Mike Commodore during warm-ups, and I thought he was a player’s kid or something. How can anyone that small be an NHL player? But he turned out to be pretty good!

How did you get on the show? 

I went to open auditions in NYC. The first year, I bombed. I was nervous and talked about everything except what makes me so unique. So the next time I went in, I had my script planned. I said, “My name is Adam; I am 38 years old; my three passions in life are Heavy Metal, Bacon, and Beverly Hills, 90210.” I saw a couple jaws drop. I made it all the way to finals and got a call as I was walking into the Cinderella / Scorpions concert saying, “Thanks, but no thanks. Try again next year.” Since I got so close, I knew I could do it. So over the next ten months I got myself in better physical condition by losing 100 pounds. The weight loss made me so much more confident, and when I went back the following year, they remembered me and were amazed by what I had done. I was not going to be denied this time. If they liked me last year, they were gonna love me this year. I tell everyone who wants to try out: Be yourself and be confident. The casting people see so many people, they can see through fake people who are trying to be what they think they want to see.

Do you get recognized a lot?

Yes, although as time goes by, it is less and less. It’s pretty amazing, though, how many different people watch the show. I have been stopped on the street by men and women of all ages who recognize me. At my first Devils game of the year, I was walking out between periods and this little girl was staring at me holding her dad’s hand. I leaned down and said, “You know who I am, don’t you?” She just looked at me and started to giggle and said, “Yeah!” Her father told me she recognized me earlier in the game and he said, “No that’s not him.” She kept saying yes it was, and then he heard me talking to my friend, and he recognized my voice. He told me his wife was supposed to come to the game with them, but she was home sick. She was the one who got them into the show, so I took a picture with his daughter, and he texted it to her. During the third period he came over and showed me her reply. It was something along the lines of , “OMG I am so jealous! Why didn’t I go?”

What else are you up to now?

I am back to my job. I was lucky my boss was a huge fan and did what she could to hold my job for me. She knew what was going on every step of the way, so it came as no shock when I told her I need up to 3 months off to pursue my dream. I am back going to concerts, hanging with my friends, living with my girlfriend Fara, and going to Devils games. Just living my life like I did before. I have no desire to be a movie star or anything like that. I just wanted to be on my favorite reality show. I did that, so now it’s back to reality!

Any last words for the fans?

Two things…
1) Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. If you have a dream, you can make it happen!
2) “Hey Devils, CATCH FIRE, turn that ice to steam. Hey Devils, CATCH FIRE, we got twice the team. Red hot getting hotter–make em make em sweat, CATCH FIRE!”

Thanks to Adam for taking the time to answer these questions. You can follow him on Twitter, @HeavyMetalTeddy, and Facebook (www.facebook.com/kingadpoch). Look for him at our Viewing Party this Tuesday in Hoboken!

AHL All-Star Classic ⎯ FANtastic

AHL All Star Weekend 2011 - Devils Army Generals with Alexander Urbom

Devils Army Generals Kevin Lankey and Allyson Wilcox with Alexander Urbom

Atlantic City. While the initial reaction of this famous Jersey Shore resort gambling town may not bring to mind thoughts of cold, ice, and sports entertainment, last “weekend” proved that hockey can thrive just about anywhere as long as the fans are satisfied.

Fellow Devils Army General Kevin Lankey and I had the incredible opportunity to attend all of the events for the annual AHL All-Star Classic held in historic Atlantic City last weekend and early last week. It was the first year in the modern history of the AHL that the All-Star Classic was held outside of a member city, and what an excellent choice it was!

Atlantic City is no stranger to hockey, as Boardwalk Hall served as home to the former ECHL Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies from 2001-2005. In addition, the close proximity to so many teams in so many markets in the area provided a diverse mix of AHL, NHL, and ECHL fans from Maryland to Connecticut and beyond. And of course, the overabundance of fun activities, delicious restaurants, scenic ocean views, and convenient walking-distance closeness to the action provided an atmosphere unlike any other.

The festivities kicked off on Sunday, January 29 with the 2012 AHL All-Star Skills Competition. There were seven Skills Events, including a Puck Control Relay, Fastest Skater, Rapid Fire, Hardest Shot, Accuracy, Pass and Score, and a Breakaway Relay. Prior to the Skills Competition, Kevin and I had the chance to interview a couple of the AHL East All-Stars, including Albany Devils player (and New Jersey Devils prospect) Alexander Urbom, who was a last-minute addition to the All-Star roster. While Urbom didn’t win his Skill (Hardest Shot), he definitely received quite an ovation throughout the entire weekend from the crowd, which included many New Jersey Devils and Albany Devils fans. All in all, the Skills Competition was a lot of fun, with all of the various AHL Mascots rallying support for their players throughout the arena stands. Despite the initial rounds of the Skills Competition being extremely close between the East and the West, the West ended up taking the W, with a final score of 18-10.

Following the Skills Competition, Caesars hosted the Post-Skills Party at the Palladium Ballroom. What a blast it was being able to mingle with other local hockey fans as well as the AHL All Stars themselves! Considering something like 93% of AHL All-Star Classic participants have competed in the NHL, the Post-Skills Party was a unique opportunity for the fans to chat and take pictures with the next Zach Parise (2005 participant). The All-Stars definitely seemed truly excited, proud, and humbled to be there, and the fans were just as excited to be able to meet them. If that wasn’t enough, there were plenty of things to do for fans of all ages, including dancing, air-hockey, and video games. And who can resist the words “All-You-Can-Eat”?!

The next day was another jam-packed, event-filled day, which included the State of the AHL Press Conference, Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony, and the All-Star Game.

The 2012 AHL All-Star Game was probably my favorite event of the weekend. The game itself was your typical high-scoring All-Star affair, despite it being the lowest scoring game since 2007. The first period was dominated by the East, who scored 6 goals in the first 17 minutes. The second period was dominated by West goaltender and former New Jersey Devil Yann Danis, who stopped all 11 shots against him, allowing the West to cut the East lead to one. Of course the game ended up going into a shootout, as the third period ended in a tie after the West scored 2 goals to the East’s 1 (which was assisted by Alexander Urbom!). The Best-Of-5 Shootout was eventually won by the West, who scored twice against Tyson Sexsmith, as West goaltender (and MVP of the game) Ben Bishop stopped 5 out of 5. It was an entertaining game, with some of the more fun moments coming during the intermissions. First intermission included a Mascot game that had it all–fights, a penalty shot, even a synchronized Tebowing session. The second intermission included a Chuck-A-Puck Contest, where fans throw hundreds of red rubber pucks onto a bullseye on the ice, and the closest puck wins cash.

It was a great experience, a great opportunity, and something I would absolutely love to do again. If you ever have the chance to attend an event like the AHL All-Star Classic, don’t pass it up! It’s a great way to get up close and personal with some of the hottest stars of tomorrow while enjoying the game we all love so much with people from all over the area. The AHL really knows how to organize a fun, fan-based event, and I can say that every fan in attendance had a great time, regardless of NHL affiliation. That’s not something you see very often.

New Jersey Welcomes Formula One in 2013

Formula 1 Racing Coming to New JerseyIt was officially announced yesterday that Formula 1 racing will be coming to the Garden State.  In June of 2013, the air will be filed with the sound of screeching tires and roaring engines as F1 racecars speed around the streets of Hudson County.  Specifically, the towns of Weehawkin and West New York will place host to the race.  Now, I know what you’re saying. “But Doug, there is no room there build a race track.”  Well, that’s been addressed.  Much like the world famous Monaco Grand Prix, the cars will race on the city streets.

The track combines the tight turns of a city track with a long straight offering a spectacular view of the city.  That view is not for the drivers though.  When driving at 200+ miles per hour, taking a glance at the city skyline is not exactly a safe idea.  Speaking of driving at 200+ MPH, it must be pretty fun to drive that fast past a 25 MPH sign.  I don’t know about you, but I’d get a good laugh out of that.

Oh, and did I mention this is a ten-year long agreement we are talking about?  That’s right.  Starting in June 2013, you can expect a race every summer for ten years.  The economic benefit is impossible to deny.  While a full economic impact study by Formula 1 is still in the works, the region can expect to see millions in economic development.  A quick quote from Governor Christie sums everything up: “The three-day event will bring very positive economic activity to the region, while giving fans of the sport in our region and around the world an exciting, new venue to experience Formula 1 racing. This is another example of how New Jersey remains a leader in hosting marquee national and international sporting and entertainment events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the Ironman Triathlon in various parts of our state.”

I’m sold.  I think this is a great idea, and I may even splurge for tickets when the time comes.  We could use the economic boost.  And bringing more and more unique sporting events can only bring positive attention to the state.  What do you think?  Maybe now members the Devils Army will turn into racing fans.

Feeding An Army: Hell’s Kitchen Lounge

Hell's Kitchen LoungeAlright Devils Army – here’s the first installment of Feeding an Army, a series of posts where “Cowbell” Steve and “Crazy” Jaime (me!) give you the breakdown on the various restaurants located around the Prudential Center area for your pre-game and post-game meals!

Our first adventure began on Saturday, October 8th which was the night of the Devils home opener, when we hit up Hell’s Kitchen Lounge for some pre-game festivities. Our group started arriving around 3PM and there was already a decent showing, but by 4PM the place was packed with Devils fans – inside and out! As will always be the case, Hell’s Kitchen was not aware of what we were doing, and we received no special treatment whatsoever and paid for our food and drinks out of our own pockets.

But enough about the fans, what about the food? Well, we started off with appetizers of course, Steve ordered the hummus with flat bread (we recommend the extra flat bread option… you’ll thank us later!) and I ordered some buffalo wings that were, as you would expect, HOT! These are two of our favorite dishes at Hell’s and there is usually not a night that goes by where we don’t order them. It’s a nice little “hold me over” before your dinner and enough to share for a whole group.

Hell's Kitchen Lounge, BurgerMoving on to dinner, we’ve both eaten a lot of burgers in our lives, but I always say that Hell’s Kitchen has some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The Brick City Burger is my personal favorite, and how can you go wrong with a half pound of beef, cheese, chorizo, onion rings & their signature meat spackle? It definitely hits home with that “Taste of Newark” feel, but that’s just one of their many burgers and sandwiches. In addition to the Brick City burger, they also offer the Guinness Burger with marbled Guinness bacon and cheddar (YUMMY!) and the Taylor Ham & Cheese Burger… talk about the New Jersey attitude! Let’s not start the taylor ham versus pork roll debate though (we all know it’s TAYLOR HAM)!

Steve decided to choose one of Hell’s Kitchen other options and ordered the Chorizo Sandwich, which gives you great big slices of grilled chorizo on a locally baked Portuguese roll along with peppers and onions and a side of fries. You can also substitute sweet potato fries on any of their dishes, which we both have a preference for. You cannot go wrong with any of these choices, as neither of us has ever had a bad burger or sandwich at Hell’s Kitchen. In fact, I think that each is better than the previous. I know your mouth is now watering and you’re trying to figure out just how fast you can get down there!

Hell’s Kitchen offers beer towers and as well as a variety of bottled beer and beer on tap. They also have other alcoholic beverages available, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t forget their specialty drinks either, my two personal favorites being “Lucifer’s Lemonade” and “Angels and Demons”. Please just remember to drink responsibly!

Hell's Kitchen Lounge, CrowdHell’s Kitchen has an eclectic atmosphere and 1950’s era style where Las Vegas meets the traditional pub. On game nights they open up their doors to a couple hundred hockey fans of all ages, but on non-game nights they’re a little more adventurous. Check out their website for more details!

 

 

Where: 150 Lafayette Street
Distance from The Rock: .3 miles (6 min – walking)
Distance from Newark Penn Station: .3 miles
Recommendation: Make Reservations on Game Nights, Check their schedule for fun on Devils’ off-nights.

Don’t forget to tell us about YOUR favorite spot: @DevilsGenerals, @CowbellSteve, @cj225devs

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