Alayna Gallo and I were asked to be celebrity contestants in “shoot the puck” at the Chicago Blackhawks game on November 15th. Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated such an opportunity. The Blackhawks organization generously provided the Jersey Boys cast and crew with a penthouse suite to watch the game, so we had plenty of support from our friends.
Toward the end of the second period, Alayna and I were escorted downstairs, just outside the ice, where we were able to take a couple practice shots (Thank god! I haven’t held a hockey stick since I was 7 years old!) I can’t even begin to explain how nervous AND excited we were. With just a few seconds left in the second period, we were waiting just outside the ice doors when the Blackhawks scored. The energy of the 21,000 people in the arena skyrocketed. Alyana and I kept looking at each other with massive smiles plastered on our face saying “Oh my god, here we go!” There were 4 of us shooting the puck, including two children. Walking on that ice and scanning the thousands of people around me was an unbelievable feeling. Then, looking at the goal, I realized they blocked of most of it and left a tiny target the size of a mouse hole open. I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?”
They took Alayna and me to center ice and the children to the blue line. Sure enough, the boy, who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, shot it right in that tiny hole! The crowd went crazy. Alayna and I went crazy! When it was my turn to go, I set up like I was taught by my coach, Ryan Quinn West, looked directly at that silly little hole and shot the puck with all my might. I was seriously just hoping the puck would make it down there. As I was watching the puck slide down the ice I thought, “Wow, that’s going pretty straight. Hey, this is gonna be close. Oh my god, this might actually go in! HOLY ****!!!!!!!!!!!” I was completely stunned. Alayna’s reaction was priceless. We high fived and I stepped off the carpet, mouth gaping open in disbelief. I was so grateful I didn’t have to shoot again because I didn’t even know how I did it the first time! Alayna shot great as well. On her third shot we were all screaming for a replay. The puck literally sat inside the hole, but didn’t go all the way through.
Alayna and I had a fantastic time. All the Blackhawks employees were wonderfully supportive and seemed to enjoy our neurotic excitement. This experience will most definitely go down in history as one of my favorites.
-Merissa Haddad (Mary Delgado and others/JERSEY BOYS)