By Kyle Stengel
The Carolina Hurricanes Stadium Series on Saturday was electric. Throughout the whole day, you could feel the excitement in the air.
Upon arriving at the game after waiting in the traffic for an hour with everybody else entering the lots, I could see people walking around with their jerseys on, hanging out with their family and friends, tailgating with pure smiles on their faces.
I helped my family and tailgating friends by setting up our table with the food we got from Bojangles, called the tailgate special. While doing this, we could see traffic still steadily flowing in. People were playing corn hole, and kids were running around joyfully.
Over by the PNC arena, there was a fan festival area set up. There were places to shoot a puck, watch professionals play the NHL video game, watch a live concert by local bands, take a picture with the Stanley Cup, and get a picture with 2006 Stanley Cup champion goaltender Cam Ward. My friends and I did all of the above and had the time of our lives. Ward was super kind, signed a towel while waiting in line, and talked to us.
After this, it was around 5 p.m., and the Carolina Hurricanes were making the march of champions walk over from PNC arena to Carter Finley, where the game was held. The NC State band, dance team, and cheerleaders led out the players, and the band played songs like the NC fight song. Cheerleaders were very passionate. Seeing how much NC State collaborated with the Canes was super cool.
After this, we returned to our tailgate area and hung out with our friends until the game started. Then, we noticed that outside of Carter Finley Stadium, the band and cheer team were performing again and going into the stadium to set up.
After about two hours, we decided to head in and take our seats; we, along with around 57,000 fans, went through security, bought food and Hurricanes merchandise, and went to sit down. We heard a loud voice come over the intercom say, “Now welcome to the ice, your Carolina Hurricanes” wow, let me tell you, I have never heard a loud noise compared to how loud this stadium erupted in cheers for our team. The players came out with all smiles, and you could tell we were in for a treat.
The national anthem was beautiful, and the flag was terrific. Then the lights went off, spotlights from the stadium field house made the ice red for the Canes, and fireworks went off. The band played to the crowd at the start of the game.
After the first period, the score was 1 to 0 Canes thanks to a goal from Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Canes fans were having a blast. It was now time for country superstar singer Jake Owen to perform. The lights turned off, and the fans turned on their phone flashlights, which created a very calm setting. Owen played his most popular hits, and the crowd loved it.
It was now time for the second period, and the Canes would score three goals, with Paul Stastny, Martin Necas, and Teuvo Teravainen notching the goals. Ultimately this doubled the sound of the stadium and sent the wave going along with multiple “Let’s go, Canes!” chants. The score was now 4-0 Hurricanes.
The NC State band played at intermission and showed what it is like going to an NC State-held event
In the third period, Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals scored. The game ended 4-1 Hurricanes, and it was fantastic looking around and hearing the chants while seeing pure smiles on everyone’s faces. We all knew that we had just had a once-in-a-lifetime day.
The City of Raleigh did an amazing job embracing this event and hosting the Washington fans. I can’t thank everyone who participated in making the first Stadium Series game in Canes history so incredibly enjoyable. The night ended with the Canes doing their traditional fan-loved victory storm surge. Ultimately, it was an experience I would never forget, and I am so happy that so many people enjoyed the event.
Pictures by Kyle Stengel and Mitch Baddour