It was 1997/1998, and the Flyers were fresh off of their “choking situation”, four game sweep at the hands of the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup. The Philadelphia Phantoms had just started in 1996 as the Flyers’ AHL/minor league affiliate and were the best team in the AHL with 111 points in their first season, and won the Calder Cup championship in their second.
My friends and I probably saw 30 Phantoms games together at the Spectrum that season. Tickets were $7 and beers $3.50, and you could still smoke pretty much anything anywhere along the concourse inside during the game.
We’d get together and have hoagies and a beer or six at the deli before hopping into Bill’s van to drive into the city. We’d get high the entire way down, then have another few while tailgating in the parking lot before the game. It was always a good time and none of us were angry drunks, so nobody ever got in any really serious trouble.
Noah was a smart kid. I could probably write an entire book about the guy, but in short, he was adopted, he was probably the most die-hard Deadhead I ever knew, and he was one of those guys who would take five doses of whatever you took. Always.
He and another guy had started getting into pills, which eventually led to us not hanging out so much because opiates make you an insufferable, irrational fucking idiot. But this was the period where his pill-addled antics were still entertaining, and at one of those Phantoms games he was the architect of one of the most memorable pranks I ever witnessed.
During that game, I had seats with one friend in the first row of the 2nd level at center ice, and Noah and Bill had the same seats directly across the red line on the other side. We were all pretty banged up as usual, but Noah was visibly so, even from across the arena.
You know the routine. Loud as hell. Falling all over the place even while seated. Spilling beers and shit. Mr. Partytime.
But this was highly amusing to us from our safe distance, and he was making an ass out of himself to get our attention the entire time.
It got to the point during a timeout where some local radio stooge would go around to the fans inside the Spectrum at random and ask trivia questions and give out prizes over the PA system, and of course he chose Noah to play “Let’s Make A Deal.”
In hindsight, I wonder why security hadn’t observed Noah’s high level of intoxication prior to committing to playing a game with him in public, but I guess it was just a simpler time.
The radio guy asked his name and hometown. His reply was whispered and almost inaudible. He asked him again. Another whisper, but audible this time because they had turned up the level of the microphone.
This continued, and each time Noah whispered his response they’d turn up and ask him to repeat himself.
Finally the guy asked him the million-dollar question:
“Noah, are you going to go with the $25 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate, or with what we have hidden in the box?”
And that time, Noah yelled at the very top of his lungs,
They had turned up his microphone so loud that I’m surprised he didn’t blow out some of the PA speakers. The level of his voice and the accompanying feedback was ear-splitting. Enough to rumble the seats.
We laughed for the rest of the game. I think Noah passed out and slept on the way home.
A few months later he got into heroin and you know the rest.
I still remember that moment fondly.