Last Thursday, the Montclair State University German program was invited to attend the New Jersey Devil’s German Heritage Night. Although many of the students were not hockey fans, the New Jersey Devils’ managed to provide an incredible evening that the German program is unlikely to forget.
Samuel Burgasser, the New Jersey Devils’ account executive of group sales, invited the Montclair State German program along with 10 other programs from across the state to Prudential Center. A grand total of 300 German heritage group members attended the game.
Burgasser spoke on the creation of German Heritage Night.
“I came up with the idea when seeing some of the other heritage nights we do, like Portuguese and Ukrainian,” Burgasser said.
Hockey is generally not a sport one would associate with Germans. However, Burgasser explained how hockey is the perfect place for different cultures to come together.
“Hockey is a great place to celebrate culture because hockey players are from all over the world,” Burgasser said.
Dr. Thomas Herold, an associate German professor and head of the German department at Montclair State, shared his belief that the group outing to the hockey game was an important way for students to connect.
“I think especially small programs need something that creates a community outside the class that is more than conjugating adjective endings together,” Herold said.
German Heritage Night started with a gift from the Devils. Attendees received a drawstring bag and a beer stein. They were also given a wristband that would allow them to take a photo on the ice at the end of the game.
There were tables from different German heritage groups that handed out brochures and gummy bears. Fans could also get German food, such as bratwurst and Bavarian pretzels at the Biergarten. The Biergarten also offered German beer, such as Radeburger Pilsner.
Chris Vehmas, a freshman music education and German major, commented on the game.
“This is my first [hockey game],” Vehmas said. “It was really a fun and affordable way to watch a sport I don’t usually watch.”
The Devils played against the Detroit Red Wings. The game started off slow, with neither team scoring. However, there was a fight on the ice that kept the German program’s interest.
After the first period ended, the Montclair State German program’s name appeared on the big screen along with all of the other attending organizations.
The game picked up in the second period when the Red Wings scored a goal. The groan and discontent from the crowd was clear.
However, the Devils did not let the crowd down. They scored four points in under four minutes. The fourth was scored before the announcer finished explaining the third. The Devils ended up winning the game 4-1.
After the game, all of the clubs gathered to take a picture at center ice. There were no mats put down, so the ice was a treacherous walkway that everyone had to endure. It was scary, but surprisingly not as dangerous as previously imagined.
Trevor Kenny, a junior German major, detailed why he had so much fun at the game.
“It was great to bond with all my friends in my major and meet new people,” Kenny said.
Nell Radlick, a senior German major, had fun regardless of their usual apathy toward sports.
“I don’t like sports in general, but it was fun going and hanging out with the German group,” Radlick said.
The only complaints that the German students had to offer were in favor of cheaper food and a better quality beer stein.
German Heritage Night was an incredibly positive experience. Good food, good friends and a better sports team is a great recipe for an unforgettable night.