Imagine being over 10 hours ahead of your favorite team during Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. Not ideal.
But Master Sergeant (Ret.) Robert Izydorek is used to it. Stationed at Misawa Air Force Base, in a remote area about 350 miles north of Tokyo, Bob describes the difficulties that come along with being the season ticketholder that has the farthest to travel for a Blackhawks home game.
How long have you been a season ticketholder?
I’ve been a season ticketholder since 2007. Our seats are located in Section 317, Row 11.
What brought you to Japan?
Well, I was in the service for 22 years, spent 10 years on active duty with the Air Force and then 12 years with the Illinois Air National Guard. I’ve been a bowler for my whole life, and I had at one time owned a small bowling alley in Lockport, Ill. I took a job managing a bowling center near St. Louis on Scott Air Force Base. We came to Japan in January 2013, where I currently run the bowling center on the U.S. Air Force Base in Misawa in northern Japan. I feel that I’m taking care of the troops out here, with bowling.
How often do you get back to the United Center for games?
|Bob and his wife, Deanna, pose with the Stanley Cup after the 2010 championship. (Photo courtesy of Bob Izydorek) |
Whenever we’re home, we go to games. When we’re gone during the year, our four kids use the seats. Once a year, we’ll come visit for about a month. We came to the banner-raising ceremony in 2013. We’re planning on seeing about eight games this year. This year, my wife, Deanna, and I are coming back in late November and will be staying until after Christmas. Our daughter Sarah is marrying a man who will be leaving for Air Force active duty in late December in Illinois, so we planned our annual trip around that. My wife and I are planning on following the team on the road to see them play New Jersey, Boston and the New York Islanders.How do you get your Blackhawks fix from such a drastically different time zone?
We watch all of the games we can on Gamecenter. If there’s a Sunday game at 12 p.m. in Chicago, that’s 2 a.m. our time. We’re up watching. During the playoffs, my wife will scream. The neighbors outside are used to that during the season, and they’ll say to each other, “There must be a game on!” She gets into it, really emotional. After the game I’ll take a nap until I have to go to work for the day.Do you know of any other Blackhawks fans in Japan?
One of the Squadron Commanders out in Misawa was wearing an Esposito jersey after a Hawks game! Yeah, there are a few of us Hawks fans out here.Are there any opportunities to see live hockey in Japan?
There are some hockey teams in Japan. Went to a Tohoku Free Blades game in Hachinohe, Aomori. We bought some jerseys. It was cool; the fans chant and cheer through the whole game, even horns going off. It was similar to minor league hockey: very rough. We saw some Canadian and American players out there. It was pretty fun. The food was unique. You have to wear a winter jacket in the arena—with fiberglass seats and no heat for the fans, you better bring a blanket!