Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hop on the Chicago Express

I first heard of the Chicago Express when current Gwinnett Gladiators coach John Wroblewski told me there would be a new Chicago franchise in the ECHL.  John and I had the plan to meet for the first time when the Gladiators came to Chicago to play the Express.  It would also be my first time of seeing the Express.
Thanks to the hospitality of Bob Mills (Director of Media Relations) and the Chicago Express, Matt and I had the opportunity to attend the recent game and get a great look at everything involved in an Express game.
We got to the Sears Centre early and check out every level.  The staff there was so helpful, informative and funny.  They told us what we needed to see and joked with us as we wandered around the stadium.
The VIP Luxury suites offer comfort, great views and excellent food, among other amenities and are reasonably priced.  These would make an excellent setting for parties or any type of gathering.
There is a kids area behind the east goal.  It features several attractions, such as table top hockey, video games and a puck shooting game.  The Express mascot Trax can sometimes be seen here taking pictures with the kids.  Also, the kids can stand near the ice entrance and greet all players as they head to the ice.
The game itself was a tightly-contested battle.  The Express played a solid game, but came up just a bit short
The Club Seats sections are part of the Sears Centre premium seating plan.  You can watch the game from extra comfortable seats (similar to suite seating) or you can relax in the casual and comfortable concourse area.  There is also a bar and food service featuring a carving station.  It doesn't get much better than this.  You also have the ability to leave this special area to sit in regular seats just below the Club section (but why leave paradise?).
The game was a battle, as the Express played a solid game but came just a bit short, losing 4-3 to the Gladiators, who were in 1st place in the conference.  The crowd was very into the game, supporting their team from beginning to end.  We talked with many fans and found them all to be very informative, passionate and friendly.  It was dollar beer night and everyone drank and acted responsibly!
After the game, once again with the help of the staff, we were able to meet with coach John.  I wrote about that historic meeting last week.
As we made our way to the exit, many staffers asked us about our experience and wished us well and it wasn't just because we were part of the press.  We saw the staff talking to many of the fans as they exited.  What a pleasant way to end a fantastic night.  This really was a totally great experience.
The Express are the ECHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL and the Springfield Falcons of the AHL.  These players are young, hungry and talented.  The action is exciting and the Express organization certainly does a great job at making each game a fun experience.
I highly encourage anyone to go to to learn about this young team.  If you live near Chicago, go to a game.  If you live near any ECHL team, you should check out the great hockey they provide.
John Wroblewski and John Wroblewski in Hoffman Estates, IL-February 2012.

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