By Jenelyn Russo | Special to AnaheimDucks.com
When Ducks fan and season ticket holder Daiana Leedom received a phone call back in March from her account representative, she could hardly believe the news.
“I was shocked!” Leedom said. “And I was so excited. I couldn’t believe I’d won.”
As a part of the Ducks “23 Days of Renewals” program, season ticket holders who renewed their seats for the upcoming season during the designated spring period were randomly chosen as winners of a number of prizes ranging from game-used equipment and season parking passes to larger prize packages such as the one Leedom won – a trip for two to the 2016 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
A new fan of Ducks hockey, Leedom has had a pair of season seats for just one season. The Tustin resident attended her first NHL game during the 2013-14 season, a high-energy Ducks/Kings tilt at Staples Center.
“I had never been to a hockey game in person before,” Leedom said. “After that game, I was completely hooked. Watching hockey live is so much fun. It’s now my favorite sport.”
After attending a number of Ducks home games during the 2014-15 season, including some intense playoff contests, she, her husband Jeff, and their three kids decided last season to make the commitment to become season ticket holders.
“The Ducks are our home team, and I love everything about them and their organization,” Leedom said. “It’s great to be a part of Ducks hockey as a family.”
With her husband scheduled to be out of town on business the week of the NHL Awards, Leedom chose to take Jennifer Stice, her best friend of nearly 13 years, who has a pair of Ducks season seats right next to Leedom.
The two boarded a flight from Orange County to Las Vegas last Tuesday and arrived at their accommodations, the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, the hotel that also served as the NHL headquarters during the Awards.
They were welcomed to their room with Ducks-themed gear that got them poolside-ready, including water bottles and beach towels. After soaking up the sun Wednesday morning, they headed to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the event venue for the NHL Awards.
The pair took in the red carpet experience, lining up to catch a glimpse of this year’s award nominees, including Ducks center Ryan Kesler, who was a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward). Before heading into the show, the ladies attended a pre-show cocktail hour held at Hard Rock Hotel’s club, Vinyl.
Inside the theatre, Leedom and Stice sat just nine rows from the awards stage amongst players such as Kesler, and netminders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, who were awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy (goalkeeper(s) with the fewest goals scored against), a first for the Ducks organization.
As newer fans to the sport, they both appreciated the educational aspect of the league’s awards as well as how efforts both on and off the ice are honored each year. “It was great to learn about the history of each of the awards and to see which Ducks players had been previous winners,” Stice said.
“We’re grateful to the Ducks for the opportunity to not only see such a fun event, but to get a brief look into the NHL world. It was awesome. We had a ton of fun, and it was super exciting to be there.” Daiana Leedom
Added Leedom, “I liked how the league recognized players with awards for qualities like leadership, sportsmanship and community service.”
After the ceremonies and brief chats with Andersen and Gibson, the two headed to the awards post-show reception held at Hard Rock’s Vanity Nightclub. There, they got up close and personal with one of the main guests of honor that night, Lord Stanley’s Cup, a first for Leedom.
“It is such a beautiful trophy,” Leedom said. “It was a real treat to see it in person.”
A Las Vegas adventure that neither will soon forget, Leedom and Stice appreciated being a part of an experience that celebrated both Ducks hockey and the sport as a whole.
“We’re grateful to the Ducks for the opportunity to not only see such a fun event, but to get a brief look into the NHL world,” Leedom said. “It was awesome. We had a ton of fun, and it was super exciting to be there.”