My First Dallas Stars Game (and Trip to Texas)

“Just be honest and forgive everyone.”

I wasn’t going to leave for long, but my father and our close friend told me those six words before I boarded a flight to Dallas, Texas, for the first time. I had some forgiving to do, which was hard, but my faith helped me get through these trying times.

I brought about 20 lbs of items for a three-day trip. I doubt I needed all those items, but I was always the traveler who’d rather be safe than sorry. I knew almost nothing about Dallas, as the only Texans I met pre-flight were those I ran into in California or Missouri, but I was determined to make my first year as a Dallas Stars reporter work. I was ready to put in the work.

When COVID-19 hit, I had little work. I couldn’t return to work at the San Jose Mineta International Airport because California was strict with travel. I bounced from California to Arizona to Missouri, trying to line up jobs. I eventually landed two St. Louis-based jobs, a marketing job for Emphatic and a columnist job at SB Nation’s St. Louis Game Time. But I still doubted my future in journalism. Not because I didn’t believe in myself but because I was unable to think clearly after an awful person threw a bible at my head during the pandemic. I wondered if I was a failure for a long time.

The pandemic eventually ended, but my luck seemed to run out. I lost both jobs and went home. Since I had a lot of connections, I received recommendations from left to right, and I tried to write a Dallas Stars column for anyone willing to read.

I didn’t overthink my opinions, which could’ve worked against me, but I’d like to clarify that I don’t hate Jamie Benn. I still believe he’s a dirty player, but the same could be said for other NHL players. I’m sure he’s a solid veteran leader on and off the ice, but he doesn’t pay my bills, so I should say what’s on my mind and not the feelings in my heart. Moreover, I had a great lunch with a great person in Dallas, and I softened my stance on Benn after I heard him talk about his positives. I usually don’t stand down, so this moment was surreal.

I wasn’t sure if Southern hospitality was legitimate, but when I visited Texas for the first time, I witnessed and experienced it myself. Aside from the great person in the previous paragraph, I received kindness, warmth, and welcome from other Texans, such as servers, customer service representatives, and even fellow commuters. I’ve grown accustomed to taking public transit. I learned how to take the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) in North Texas. I also learned about the streets if I wanted to take walks.

I went to the Dallas World Aquarium the morning of the Stars vs. Senators game. I enjoyed my visit. I saw a giant otter and many birds, fish, and other animals.

I attended my first Dallas Stars game at the American Airlines Center on Friday, December 15. As soon as I arrived at the AAC, I was in awe of the pregame festivities, from the fun games at the PNC Plaza to the Stars’ innovative introduction video and energetic warmup session. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

The Stars welcomed the Ottawa Senators to the AAC. The Stars came out on top with a 5-4 win over the Senators in a high-scoring home game. I’ve been told I picked a good game to watch the Stars in person for the first time. So, Friday’s circumstances weren’t ideal, but I had a blast regardless.

During the game, I chatted with some fans, including a couple who helped me take a few pictures for my feature and social media accounts. We had good conversations, and I felt the Southern hospitality even though this was a sporting event, not a dinner party. As a result, I learned some new slang and phrases. It seems like only yesterday when I didn’t understand a thing a Texan said, and I huddled around Google Dictionary almost every day to navigate a regional barrier.

I left the game with good vibes, except for Jake Oettinger’s lower-body injury and the Stars’ arguable defense and blueline issues. In addition, I purchased a Stars replica puck for my first-ever hockey puck.

I’m in Year 1 of covering the Dallas Stars. I could’ve moved on from journalism, but I took a dare to learn about the Stars and ran with it. It was therapeutic because there’s something special about the Stars that made me feel like I had a purpose in life, could stay sober, and could succeed in starting over, just like in the song “Starting Over” by Macklemore.

Let’s talk about the Stars and play Pantera. Follow me on Twitter @AnaKieu.

I’ll just leave this here.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Ana Kieu

Ana Kieu is a journalist by trade. Her love for sports shows in her writing, editing, and podcasting work. She writes about the NHL for Inside The Rink.

One thought on “My First Dallas Stars Game (and Trip to Texas)”

  1. I remember my first road trip, to see the Devils win the 2000 Stanley Cup….in DALLAS!! It’s amazing to see out of market fans finally get to the arena, I recently greeted an Aussie Devils fan at the Pru center and got him in to meet some players and gave him some old memorabilia. My accounts started out as an Out Of Market fan channel. So I love to see this, I am so glad you had fun and of course getting the win in a close game is always the most fun!!!! -Joe

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