Ice Hockey?

81-383060215First of all, me writing about hockey is about like an accountant writing about lumberjacking…  Sure, the accountant may have chopped a little kindling in the back yard, but he’s probably never climbed a tree in spiked boots.  As far as my experience with hockey, I never played.  I have ice skated, though mostly in my youth.  In my most recent foray on the ice a dozen years ago, I used a borrowed pair of figure skates.  Imagine my surprise  when the toe point did its job and stopped me cold – as in flat on my face.  The result was a broken kneecap…  But attending the game was an interesting experience, so I felt I should probably write about it.

With the weather looking to cement only the fourth January on record that did not make it above freezing in Minneapolis-St Paul  — or even make it to freezing, actually —  I thought it appropriate when my brother-in-law Marty invited me to join him at a high school hockey game.

77-418245769Wow, did I gain a different perspective on the sport.  Perhaps it has to do with never having seen a live hockey game before (well almost never), but the sounds and sights and smells were more than a little different from a game followed on radio or TV.  A slap shot on TV sounds like hitting something hard with a stick.  In the rink, up close and in person (sixth row) it sounded like a rifle shot.  Bumping someone into the boards sound much more like murder and mayhem.  We saw a little bit of everything, from slap shots to goals, to stunning saves and even a penalty shot – which was saved, by the way.

I did see something happen that explained a newspaper phrase to me.  Someone had the puck taken off his stick.  I always thought that was a figure of speech, but I actually saw a player carrying (pushing along) the puck with his stick and an opponent reached in and just took the puck off his stick.  Interesting…

The thing that was most different from watching a game on TV was getting a feel for how and when the lines changed.  Marty told me that the Edina coach is known for a lot of line changes, and we saw ’em.  Didn’t do him much good, though, as his charges lost – even after pulling the goalie and leaving the net unprotected in order to put another offensive skater on the ice.  What a concept.

The hardest thing to get used to for a basketball/baseball/football fan like myself was the lack of control of the puck.  In basketball and lacross – even baseball and football, the players are supposed to maintain full control of the ball.  In hockey, its more like pushing the puck ahead and hope your guy gets to it before the other guy.  But it seems to work for them – and maybe with more exposure I’ll get used to it to.  But I should probably find a heavier coat for the next time I go.


5 Responses to “Ice Hockey?”

  1. 1 Polly February 14, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Hey Callen –

    Yeah, hockey is different. I played a little in Madison. Mostly I liked feeling like a boy by wearing hockey skates, going fast, leaning into corners, and not ending up flat on my face (at least not from the toe pick).

    Guess global warming is a little hard to believe with weather not even freezing for a month, huh? Zowie!


  2. 2 marty February 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Actually, hockey is no stranger to precision passing,
    especially at the higher levels. Sometimes its’s pro-
    blematic for the pass reciever to be at the appointed spot, i.e. in front of the goal. And in hockey, the center
    is frequently the “playmaker” not unlike the point guard in basketball. For this reason, I’m glad I was around
    when Wayne Gretzky was in his heyday ; the best playmaking center ever.
    Good post.

  3. 4 Stefanie March 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Of course, all true hockey begins at the local rink, with boys and girls playing rink rats for hours at a time. Dad’s coaching, flooding and maintaining ice while we stand on snow banks cheering which wearing tights, long johns, pants, snow pants, long underwear, turtle neck sweatshirt, coat, mittens, neck gator and hats. Now THAT’S hockey.

    • 5 Callen March 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm

      Now that’s a comment – thanks for helping with my hockey education. Marty’s been doing his best, but I’m afraid it’s a long road.

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