If you know a Canadian, you will probably have heard them mention hockey once or twice. If they haven’t, they’re not authentic and you have cause to be very suspicious. To be more specific, “hockey” = ice hockey. Here in NZ we know hockey as field hockey so I want to be clear. The game I am referring to is a game played on ice, by feisty men who glide like ballerinas despite being covered from head to toe with padding. Men, burly in stature, armed with sticks, who crave blood and victory. It sends shivers up the spine!
Some of my fondest memories of being in Vancouver were the warm twilight times I spent walking home from work, feeling the electricity in the air when it was “hockey night in Canada”. The buses have it on their overhead destination signs, cars sport flags, a sea of blue and green shirts adorn the masses and if you work in hospitality (like I did), you KNOW it’s hockey night in Canada because you’re slammed just before the game starts and the phones are silent when they’re playing. If you’re not watching the game, or you are but you’re watching it on cable and someone else is watching it not on cable, you can hear the delayed yells of the fans, through the walls, the floors and from across the road, every time something major happens. The energy is infectious and it’s exciting!
There is a real sense of comradery and you can feel it. Unless the Canucks lose the Stanley Cup Final and then there’s riots… but that aside, it’s something special to be a part of.
I learned to appreciate the sport after being subjected to watching it in the early stages of being with Scott. I found it hard to follow because they moved too fast! I lost sight of the puck pretty much the whole time. I would find my mind wandering because I couldn’t concentrate on the game – I was getting dizzy trying to follow them. What just happened? Why did that guy just get sent off? Why are they fighting, are they allowed to do that? Why isn’t the ref doing anything? Woah! is that legal?! What is icing? Nope, it’s not something on a cake. There were too many questions and I was in danger of being on the verge of “annoying questions from the girlfriend when watching hockey”. Luckily, I kept my questions in check and any questions I did have, were answered politely (because he’s Canadian). We were early enough in the relationship that Scott probably didn’t want to piss me off by getting annoyed at me for being so sweet and innocent when it came to his favourite game 🙂 Plus he likes to know the answers to stuff.
I eventually began to concentrate on the game and tried my hardest to follow that little black circle as it darted back and forth. I started to really appreciate the level of skill these guys actually have in order to be able to switch direction at a moments notice, to keep an eye on that puck when I had no idea where it was half the time, to be covered in all that gear and still be able to glide gracefully like big bulky, sweaty, swans on water. And to get the puck past that giant, lithe goalie and several other players in front of that tiny net?! Pretty impressive stuff.
I may not know the rules, I have kind of forgotten what icing actually is and I still have to ask for clarification on the “power play“, but I really like watching it. It’s something Scott and I can do together and when it gets down to the nitty gritty games, it brings a really good bunch of pals together to yahoo, or commiserate, in unison.
If you’re Canadian, or you’ve been in Canada during the hockey season, you’ll know what I’m talking aboot. If you aren’t and you haven’t been to Canada you’ll never quite understand.
I leave you with this video which epitomizes the excitement and intensity that I’m trying to get across: