Minnesota Wild Fans Put The "Energy" In Xcel Energy Center

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2008

Although the NHL is in the offseason and the start to next season begins in
October, the Minnesota Wild fans have already looked forward to reserving their spot in the "team of 18,000."

The Minnesota Wild franchise will begin its ninth season this October, but for Wild fans, the real season begins late August and early September when the preseason starts.

Just walking through the gates into the large open arena entrance, fans can already tell that the Xcel Energy Center is something special. The atmosphere is energetic, the air is cold, and the Wild jerseys are out in full force.

Arriving at your seat, the players are warming up. There are still many open seats, but quickly the sea of green becomes a sea of red and green.

The lights dim, the pre-game ceremonies have started. The opening video teaser gets the fans fired up about their upcoming opponent and how the Wild will overcome and defeat then.

Then the most memorable Minnesota Wild pre-game tradition begins, the Wild Anthem song. The team of 18,000 rises to its feat and begins to cheer as loud as they can. The song concludes and the the Wild flag is struck into center ice.

Here they come, the Wild enter the Ice. The music is loud, the goal horn blaring, the lighthouse flashing and the crowd is screaming for their hometown team. The starting lineup is announced with eruptions of applause after each player is introduced.

The crowd finally quiets, the only time the entire night for the singing of our national anthem. With the conclusion of the Star Spangled Banner, a hockey celebrity, public figure or Minnesota icon leads the crowd in the chanting of "lets play hockey".

The teams line-up at center ice. The referee signals to both goalies and the scorekeeper and then finally raises the puck over the center faceoff dot. The sticks square off, and the puck drops and the hockey game is underway.

After each Minnesota Wild goal, the crowd will jump to its feet, yelling and screaming, hands in the air and clapping to the goal song.

Even in a loss, the Wild fans are athletes of themselves. They shake it off, forget about it and are back the next home game 100 percent ready to do their part to help the Wild win.

It is truly a playoff type atmosphere when you experience a regular season game at the Xcel Energy Center. To the fans, every game is important because they know every point counts and they want to see their team one day lit the Stanley Cup.

In an ESPN article released last year, the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was awarded the official title of becoming the new "hockeytown".

Detroit and its Red Wings were the sole keeper of that title until last year, but Minnesota could have captured the award after its first season in 2000.

Before the Wild even played one home game, it retired the jersey No. 1 in honor of the fans. The Xcel Energy Center has set playoff, single game, and season attendance records, but the proudest record the arena holds is the longest current consecutive home game sellout record.

It's these same fans who have every season ticket sold out and have a waiting list in the thousands.

It's not the players, the coaches, or even the arena itself that makes the Xcel Energy Center what it is. It's the fans who have a love and a passion for the game of hockey, in the state of hockey.