I first began to hear the excited, hockey-related chatter weeks ago. Some were reminiscing about previous seasons and what they hoped would occur during this one. Others simply counted down the days until the puck dropped. The time was soon upon us and as I watched the hype grow exponentially, I wanted a piece of it. I wanted to know what makes ice hockey the superior sport. I entered the Agganis Arena for a match against the University of Prince Edward Island with a Terrier sweater and an open mind and prepared to find the answers.
1. It’s incredibly dramatic.
The lights in the arena are dimmed. A theatrical video featuring screaming fans and a serious looking group of men in ice skates appeared. It was so extraordinarily intense that it energized an arena full of people even though the technicians forgot to turn the audio on. This energy continued when each of the players is given a formal introduction that included rotating spotlights and background music.
2. The players have nicknames.
Whoever started calling freshmen Patrick Harper, “Hat Trick Patrick” deserves an award. Not only does that name contain a phonetically pleasing rhyme, but it also contains a basic piece of hockey terminology (a hat trick occurs when a player scores three goals in a single game). Insulting but fun nicknames are used for members of the opposite team as well. The crowd referred to the Prince Edward Island goalie as “Sieve” throughout the entire game.
3. The violence is intense on the ice.
Just when it seemed that everyone was entirely consumed with sliding a puck to the other side of the rink, a Canadian slammed his body into a BU player. A spirited fight ensued as the pep band played a jaunty tune in the background. If you haven’t seen a fight occur on ice, I would recommend seeking one out. Fists flew and referees skated over to the scene at an Apolo Ohno-like speed. It must be noted that all of the aggression that occurred were graceful because it was occurring on ice.
4. The crowd was involved.
If you look at a sport like baseball, deep down, you know that everyone is there to slowly consume a plethora of junk food throughout the course of 9 innings. In hockey, things are different. The people who came to watch the game obviously were there to watch the game. They were completely engaged in the action, which made for an enjoyable and exciting environment.
5. Our team is good.
Nothing puts a damper on things more than watching a team try to salvage a match that cannot be won. Luckily, I didn’t have to do this. BU won the game 10-2, much to the delight of everyone in the room who was not Canadian.
My first hockey game was a success. It’s since become clear why this sport reigns supreme. Between all of the melodrama, graceful brawls and the fact that Boston is far too cold for water sports, it’s obvious why hockey is such a vital part of the BU culture.