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Thanksgiving Weekend, 2006

Day One Wed, 11/22 Rio Rancho
Day Two Thurs, 11/23 Prescott Valley
Day Three Fri, 11/24 Prescott Valley
Day Four Sat, 11/25 Phoenix
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Day Three, Prescott Valley

Had the whole day to spend before the hockey game in the evening. I started out going to Young's Farm. The brochure said they had a good breakfast and it was on a farm. Turns out the restaurant had burned down 3 weeks ago. A nice lady in the country store (she was picking up two freshly killed turkeys - it IS still a farm) told me about the Blue Hill Cafe just up the road. I went there and had a nice hearty breakfast and bad coffee.

Then headed to the movie theater. Got myself a good cup of coffee at a Starbucks type coffee shop across from the theater. Saw the movie 'Bobby'. It was about the events leading up to Bobby Kennedy's assassination... more about the hotel guests, staff, and event participants that evening. I quite enjoyed the movie though have read reviews that it does not depict the actual/true events and people that were affected.

For dinner, I ate at Garcia's (Mexican restaurant) then walked across the parking lot to the arena for the hockey game.

When I first started researching this trip, this arena was called the Prescott Valley Convention and Events Center. Nice enough name. It is now called Tim's Toyota Center (barf at name). I guess Tim payed plenty of $$$ for naming rights.

Here's the outside of the arena. A good looking arena. There's a paved walkway around the entire arena which one could stroll around (which I did). Parking is plentiful, free, close, well-lit, and safe. I'm going to guess and say it seats around 5,000 for a hockey game.

It is located walking distance to a shopping area with plenty of restaurants and a movie theater. A very new, well planned entertainment district in Prescott Valley. Now all they need is a baseball stadium!

Of the three games I saw on this trip, this one was, by far, the best experience for the following reasons: location of arena (previously mentioned), customer service, fans, and the players' appreciation of the fans. More on all of this later.

Arizona Sun Dogs
Tims Toyota Center
3201 North Main Street
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314

Prices were comparable to Rio Rancho (too high in my opinion). The giveaway was Thunder Sticks shaped like hockey sticks. I sat to the right of center ice, facing the bench. There was one level of seating and a second level with club boxes. Very similar to the Santa Ana Star Center.

Customer Service: The folks staffing the gift shop were swamped. Since it was a new arena, they were still in the process of getting things set up. The customer service rep went out of her way to dig in some boxes to find a lapel pin for me. One young gentleman (from Ithaca - I'm guessing he was into Sports Management) was as polite as can be listening to an old woman's (me) story of her hockey road trip.

This, too, was taken during warm ups. Nice looking logo.

Fans: I met a retired couple who had season tickets for the Sun Dogs. They were trying to get a booster club established (they called it something else, maybe a fan club.) A delightful couple.

During the game, the fans yelled, cheered and chanted throughout the game (without the assistance of music or the words 'make some noise' scrolling across the video display). It was absolutely awesome and contagious!! And with the Thunder Sticks, the arena was LOUD. And, it was packed. Not sure if it was a sell out or not but it was pretty close. That's always good to see.

Here's the inside of the arena, taken during warm ups. You can see about 15 rows in the main seating level (making any seat close to the action). You can also see the second level of club boxes/seating. Again, this night I would get to see Odessa play. The one minor downfall (if you can call it that) is that there were no cup holders on the seats. One had to place their drinks on the floor. Several in the area I was sitting in did, indeed, get knocked over.

Odessa had decent looking jerseys, as well. It was your classic style with the name Odessa diagonally placed down the front of the jersey.

In this photo, you can see the Suns jersey, a Sabres jersey, and an Avalanche jersey. At the time I went, the Sun Dogs were affiliates of the Colorado Avalanche.

A face off. You can see fans in the stands holding and using their Thunder Sticks.

Players: The Sun Dogs won 4 - 1 with several power play goals (some 5 x 3) and lots of energy. After the game was over, the Sun Dog players skated in a circle (the circle around the logo above) and pointed their sticks to the fans showing their appreciation of the fans. That HAD to be the coolest thing I had ever seen at a hockey game!

So residents of Prescott, Prescott Valley and other areas of AZ, or those passing through the area, get out and see a game. You will have a great time.

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