Bus trips to Utah, Idaho are long but with great scenery

BOISE, ID – This week I’m on the road with the Tulsa Oilers, providing the play-by-play for the games on Ustream.tv and ECHL-TV, so “My View From Here” is a very picturesque view of the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah, and Bosie, Idaho.

After a 21-hour bus trip, our first stop was in West Valley City, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for a game against the Utah Grizzlies last Wednesday night. The Grizzlies play in the Maverick Center, which was built in 1999 to be one of the host hockey venues for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Just the fact that this arena hosted Olympic hockey was pretty cool to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been in an Olympic venue before, to my knowledge, and I’ve been in a lot of sports arenas throughout the United States and France.

Before anyone told me about the Olympic history of the Maverick Center, I could tell it was built with hockey in mind. Two team locker rooms have direct access to each team’s bench, and there are several other additional locker rooms for additional teams and officials to use. Plus, the way the stands were configured, there were no bad sight lines throughout the arena.

The view of the mountains that surround the area is spectacular this time of year; as the valley may have just a dusting of snow while the mountains are snow covered and encircled by low clouds; really a beautiful sight on a sunny day.

The game didn’t go so well for the Oilers as they lost 5-2, with a couple of the Grizzlies’ goals scored into an empty net late in the third period.

We then traveled on to Boise, a five-hour drive, for a pair of games on the weekend. Our hotel, The Grove, is located right downtown, but the neat part is it’s attached to the CenturyLink Arena, and we can walk over to the arena for practices and the games. It makes it nice to go to the arena when you want to and get prepared for the game, and not have to get on and off the bus.

This is my second time to visit Boise and my second time in the CenturyLink Arena. The last time I was here was in February 2012 – this is where I began my first stint as the P.A. announcer for the Harlem Globetrotters, so it brings back some great memories. The CenturyLink Arena is also home to the NBA D-League’s Idaho Stampede.

The Friday night game was unfortunately another loss for the Tulsa Oilers (2-1). Although the two teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, Idaho scored what proved to be the game winner midway through the second period.

On Saturday night, Tulsa beat the Idaho Steelheads 4-2. Tulsa scored a goal with just 47 seconds left to ice the win.

Following the game, we jumped on the bus for a 24-hour ride back to Tulsa. The Oilers will be on the road again this weekend with a pair of games at Missouri on Friday and Saturday night. The next home game for Tulsa will be Jan. 26, against Allen, 7:05 p.m. at the BOK Center.

OTHER NOTES FROM THE ROAD

I saw on the news that Salt Lake City resident (and Olympic gold-medal skier) Picabo Street was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic violence in the presence of a child, for pushing her father down the stairs. This happened back on Dec. 23, but the charges were just now filed. Street told police she locked her 76-year old father in the basement after pushing him and called authorities. She said her father pulled her hair during a fight that her three children witnessed.

As we drove into Boise, we went right through the Boise State campus. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the college and their football stadium, but I still haven’t been in the stadium to see the blue turf in person.

While in Boise, the San Diego State men’s basketball team was staying at the same hotel. The Aztecs were in town for a Saturday night Mountain West Conference game with Boise State.

The first night we were in Boise, the Idaho Stampede hosted Rio Grande Valley in a D-League game at the CenturyLink Arena. I didn’t get a chance to go to the game, although I would have liked to, but Idaho won 128-114. The Stampede is owned by their parent club, the Utah Jazz. Remember when Tulsa had a D-League team?