I met Blake for the first time at a Barons game, but most of my contact with him has been through Facebook since he does not live in Oklahoma City. Being a Canadian transplant to Oklahoma, he LOVES his hockey, and he is tremendously fun to talk to about anything hockey related. I only wish he and his family lived closer to OKC so they could more thoroughly enjoy this OKC Barons team. As you will see, Blake is a serious jersey collector and also a SERIOUS Boston Bruins fan. I think the Bruins family photo above probably gave that away!
Meet Blake Dryden – OKC Barons Fan!
PT: How long have you been a hockey fan?
Blake: Being born and raised on the east coast of Canada in Fredericton, New Brunswick, hockey has been part of my life for as long as I remember.
PT: Who is your favorite NHL team and why?
Blake: Boston Bruins as they were the closest team to home and where I was the three main teams were Boston, Montreal and Toronto. Not sure what turned me into a Bruin fan but more likely than not it was their style of play.
PT: Who is your favorite NHL player(s) and why?
Blake: Have a lot of favorite players first and foremost is Cam Neely as he was the prototypical power forward whose career was cut way to short. Moving to present I tend to like the players that don’t get the press – Adam McQuaid for example, a meat and potato defenseman for Boston who gives 100%. Also enjoy watching the new stars entering the game, watching them develop: Seguin, Hall, Eberle, Tavaras, and P.K. Subban.
PT: Do you have any hockey souvenirs? What are they?
Blake: I have a bunch of hockey stuff that I’ve been collecting since I was young, somewhere around 50 jerseys, pucks from different teams. My daughter has a cooler puck collection than me as she has been given pucks from Zdeno Chara twice, Steve Bégin (former Bruin), Kyle Beach from our trip to Rockford, Illinois last year to watch Barons, and Hunter Tremblay this year.
PT: What is your favorite hockey souvenir(s)? (Jersey, puck, etc.)
Blake: Has to be my print “The Battle of the Hill” which portrays the two local Universities back home playing a pond hockey game in remembrance of one of the former players who was killed during an off season accident. Next would be my Cam Neely jersey.
PT: If you are from OKC, were you a Blazers fan? And if so, how do you compare the Blazers with the AHL OKC Barons team?
Blake: Not from OKC but I have watched games in the CHL in both Tulsa and OKC and never liked the league. I grew up watching the AHL from the time I was 10 when the Fredericton Express was formed in my hometown. CHL to me was the equivalent of college hockey from home and overpriced for the product.
The OKC Barons Team (Players and Coaching staff):
PT: The OKC Barons are now two years old – did you have an opportunity to follow the team since the beginning?
Blake: Yes, I was very happy when I first heard they were coming to the city as I enjoyed watching the development of the new talent and future NHL’ers when I was home and now had the chance to see it again. Added bonus was when they announced the coaching staff as I watched both assistant coaches play in the AHL. Rocky was always the enemy as he played for rival team but Gerry was on the other side because he spent his AHL career playing in Fredericton and he always added some energy.
PT: How many games do you attend and/or watch on average? All? Most? Explain.
Blake: Not a whole lot – 4 or 5 a year if lucky as I live in Enid, Oklahoma and work a noon-8 shift M-F which makes it difficult to travel back and forth.
PT: What is your opinion of the team and coaching this season, so far?
Blake: I think the team and coach are a well-oiled machine. They have a good combination of the youth and experience that is needed to be successful in any league.
PT: Who are your favorite players and why?
Blake: Hard to have fav’s when you don’t see a lot but for me it would have to be Hunter Tremblay who played back east for The University of New Brunswick and helped bring them a National Championship last year.
PT: Which player were you most excited to see play this season?
Blake: One that I haven’t seen yet in person and has only had a few chances in OKC so far and that is Olivier Roy. I like watching goalies develop and that dates back as far as I can remember watching live hockey. As well watching Brule and he stood out the games I watched
PT: Who is your favorite new player this season (2011-2012)?
Blake: Pitlick because of the power forward style of play. In the games I’ve seen he played like a bull in a china shop.
PT: Describe your best team/player/coach experience this season:
Blake: Only really have one and that was during the warm-up. I was wearing my University of New Brunswick jersey and about halfway through it Tremblay skates by and sees it out of the corner of his eye. A few strides later and he snaps his head back and gives us a smile. Not long after is when my daughter gets the puck from Hunter after multiple tries of him trying to throw it over the glass. Thinking he never expected to see that jersey down here.
Off-ice Fan Experiences – this includes inside the arena, outside events and social media:
PT: How is the off-ice experience for you as a fan this season? Pass or Fail and Why?
Blake: Music – I went to a Bruins game and they had heavy playlist of late 80’s hairband music and the crowd ate it up, including my 4 year old daughter.
PT: What has been your best off-ice experience this season and why?
Blake: Making the friends I have through the Barons Facebook page which may not be as many as others here but I am glad to call them all my friends!
PT: What has been your worst off-ice experience this season and why?
Blake: Trying to buy playoff tixs over the phone last year and informed that I had to buy them at the ticket office or Ticketmaster as the phones calls were too many for them to do it for the playoffs.
PT: What would you like to change about the off-ice experience for next season?
Blake: Be creative and don’t rely on what others are doing. Be cutting edge and take chances so if something doesn’t work don’t try it again!
PT: As a fan, what is your opinion of the social media aspect (Twitter, Facebook, Website)? Pass or Fail and Why?
Blake: I think it is still a work in progress. There was great improvement from last year to this year for the website. Twitter and Facebook are just fine – gets me the info I need as it becomes available.