I used to be a huge hockey fan. Big. Gigantic. I loved everything about it. Had Steelhead (local ECHL team) season tickets. Watched 2 or 3 nights a week on ESPN and seldom missed their NHL2Night recap show.
Well, then it all went to hell, starting with the big lockout a couple years ago. You can read my sad story here.
This season, I have been to maybe 3 Steelhead games, and have seen about 34 minutes of NHL hockey all year. Frankly, the NHL has killed my love for the sport. ESPN doesn’t hardly cover it on SportsCenter (plus, to see what little they do have, you gotta sit through NBA highlights. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than watch the NBA.), so I don’t even know who is doing what this year. I couldn’t even give you the roughest of standings if my life depended on it. I just don’t care any more.
But, last night I got a brief reminder of why I liked hockey so much in the first place.
Jess and I went to the Idaho Steelheads vs Anchorage Aces game. And boy, what a game. Granted, the Steelheads lost, but the game itself was tremendous. There was a fight 2 minutes into the game (which we won). Anchorage jumped out to a 2 goal lead, but in the second period Idaho scored twice to tie it.
I was even more delighted with these goals for one reason. They finally have a goal horn! See, in the NHL arenas, when a goal is scored by the home team, they blast away with a loud obnoxious air horn. It’s great! However, for years we have only had a piddly little whistle/siren thing that came over the equally piddly sound system. Now they have a proper horn. Granted, it is still coming over the speaker system, but it sounds nearly authentic. I wanted to see 10 goals scored just so I could hear the horn some more.
The other reason the game was so good, was there was a huge melee at our end of the ice. Our resident meathead Jeremy Yablonski got into a fight, that ignited a brawl. As he and an Alaskan player were going at it, they linesman were occupied in trying to break that up. That’s when another Steelhead, Nickerson, went nuts and started fighting. As all hell was breaking loose, Yablonski was fighting through the refs to get to one guy and Nickerson swung around and sucker punched a guy who was on the ice. When it was winding down, Yablonski then skated in front of Alaska’s bench and basically challenged the entire team to fight him. There were a few guys on the bench going absolutely ape-shit but their coach was hanging onto them (if you leave the bench during a fight, you are automatically suspended). Yablonski’s line… 2 minutes for instigating, 5 minutes for fighting, a ten minute misconduct, and a match penalty for intent to injure. Very nice.
It was quite the sight. Of course, the resulting penalties weren’t very fun. It boiled down to Alaska had a 5 on 3 powerplay for 5 minutes and another 2 minutes of 5 on 4. Alaska scored twice on that powerplay and pretty much ended the game.
I had a better than expected time. Does this mean I’m back to being a strong hockey fan? Not exactly. I mean, I still can’t see any on TV which GREATLY diminishes one’s access to the game. But, at least I had a small reminder of what I used to love, and obviously still enjoy.