I was probably not the only one dreaming about the NHL as a kid. Playing the video games, collecting the cards, checking the results first thing in the morning (the games were always played after bedtime – a problem when growing up in Sweden). Having idols such as Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, Joe Sakic, and Dominik Hašek was probably as common. That is why it felt like a good idea to visit San Jose during our visit to northern California.
My interest has, however, been quite dormant for some years by now. I barely know the stars in the league and only acknowledge who eventually lifts the Stanley Cup. This didn’t mean, that the first thing I did after we had booked our flight tickets, wasn’t checking the NHL schedule for the upcoming season. I was more than happy to see that the season was about to start during our week in California and that the San Jose Sharks played their home opener against Vegas Golden Knights just two days before it was time for us to leave.
Taking the Train from Livermore to San Jose
Going from Livermore to San Jose didn’t seem the easiest thing. There are a few ACE trains from Livermore to San Jose in the mornings, heading all the way to Diridon Station. The station is actually right next to the SAP Center. The train took only about an hour. It is possible to buy the tickets at the station in Livermore and the ticket fare was around 10 USD one way to San Jose. Just remember that the ticket should get stamped before entering the train. There are small boxes similar to the ones that are common in Europe.
A Day in San Jose
Our first impression of San Jose was not so great. It is a big city with a center that felt post-mortem. It turned out that we should have made a bit more research before going. There were very few things to do during the day and seeing the center took less than an hour.
In conclusion, the city center is quite small. Additionally, the distances to other interesting sights are quite long. This made walking both possible and not the best option at the same time. We did have time to enjoy the sunshine and we eventually ended up at the San Pedro Market. This would turn out to be a perfect place to await the game, but we had not given up on walking just yet.
Instead, we took a walk through the campus of San José State University. Campuses in the US surely are different compared to Sweden. Our plan was to continue towards the Japanese Friendship Garden, but we turned around halfway there. It was a very hot day for walking any long distances and the neighborhoods started to look less convincing.
Our alternative was to turn around and sit down at the Plaza de César Chávez to enjoy the sunshine. Knowing how November and December in Sweden usually is, this felt like a necessity.
Where do the Shark fans gather for pre-game warm-up? We didn’t know but soon learned where. After our first visit to the San Pedro Market, we had decided to go back there before the game for a drink or two. It turned out to be a nest of Shark fans enjoying the happy hour before there march to SAP Center.
So with a glass of beer for me and wine for Susann, we found a table and sat down. We have in earlier posts written about the one great thing with traveling in the US. That is how open and friendly people are. This turned out to be true once more while we enjoyed our drinks. After some time, three men showed up and asked if they could share the table. It had started to get quite crowded and there were no more empty tables.
This would turn into some interesting discussions as the men were quite the mix. There were one police officer, one firefighter and one working in finance. As a Swede, it is always stunning how easy people talk with strangers abroad. We certainly learned quite a bit about the city and life there.
San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Let’s continue with the most important part of the day – the game. Getting some more drinks and a giant taco to enjoy while waiting for the game to start we really felt like this is not Sweden. The size of the food portions in the arena and the whole concept felt a bit distant from the ice hockey we know.
We were sitting as far up as possible and we’re lucky to get a Canadian next to us. Well, a Canadian that had had a season ticket with the same seat since the first season of the Sharks. He was able to tell us quite a bit about the team and he also shared some stories with us. Sitting furthest up in the arena was a great choice, the view of the game was still perfect and we could really enjoy the atmosphere.
And this is the NHL, it is more showbiz than hockey and the game intro really showed that. Even though the Vegas Golden Knights are a quite new team in the NHL, there is already some history with the Sharks. As this was Sharks territory they were more than happy to build up the pressure in the arena. What better way to do that then to show a recap from last season’s first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs? A series that the Sharks won in game seven.
This game did not follow suit. William Carrier scored for the Golden Knights already after five minutes and it continued in the wrong direction for the Sharks. The first period ended with 0-2 for Golden Knights after a goal also from Jonathan Marchessault. The second period wasn’t much better after a goal each from the sticks of Bryden McNabb and Tomas Nosek. The happy atmosphere in the SAP center was by now almost gone.
Vegas Golden Knights led by 0-5 halfway through the last period, once more from the stick of Tomas Nosek. It was first with only six minutes to go that San Jose Sharks were able to get their first goal of the evening. Barclay Goodrow was the hero of the evening for a team that really has a long way to go this season.
As a Swede, the hope was to get to see Erik Karlsson owning the game. Unfortunately, he was as confused as the rest of the Sharks.
With a losing home team, there was not much celebration in the arena. The atmosphere was nothing like the pre-season game I saw in Boston.
Getting Back to Livermore
We only had one plan to get back to Livermore, hoping to get back for 100 USD or less. Uber had price estimations of around 70 USD, so we had decided to give it a try. As expected the prices soared directly after the game so we played it cool and walked back to the San Pedro Market to wait there instead.
It took about half an hour before the prices were back in an acceptable range and we decided to book a ride. The accepted price was around 70 USD, but it soon changed to 45 USD for the trip. We have no clue how Uber calculates its prices, but for once it worked in our favor.
We will continue our trip, read more about our adventure in North America here >>