What do I like about hockey? It brings all the rival basketball fans together under one roof! Whether you’re a rabid Carolina Tar Heel, a Cameron Crazy Duke Blue Devil, or a howling wolf packer of NC State allegiance, y’all will wear red, black, and white when gathered under one dome pulling for the Carolina Hurricanes. Not only do the collegiate loyalties take a back seat but also the differences in backgrounds. You see white-collar guys seated next to blue-collar guys, and they’re all hollering for some Canadian or Finnish fellow with an unpronounceable name.
That’s another thing I like–the worldliness of it. These players aren’t from the hamlet down the road or from a state a car ride away. In the arena hang flags representing the origins of the players, a Czech flag is blowing next to a Maple Leaf. I like to watch the warm-ups before the game begins. I like to look at the huge TV screens featuring the different players as they don their masks. A handsomer group you won’t find, even in Hollywood! I used to picture hockey players as toothless, scarred, with askew noses and lopsided faces. No longer.
The etiquette is a bit intimidating, at first, in that you cannot leave your seat for a potty break when the puck is in play. And when you want to go to the restroom, it seems as if the puck is always in play. I had to get used to the screaming at the refs, as I am not prone to do that, but I understand that a poor call by a ref can mean certain defeat for your team. When teams go into overtime, it’s the first score in that net that wins the game so if a team has just been penalized by an erroneous call and has one fewer man than their opponents, it’s a major disadvantage and most likely a game changer!
I like the team spirit of hockey. No one can grandstand. Folks enjoy the fights. Not unlike reality TV and gladiator days of yore, there remains something exciting about witnessing spontaneous tempests. Me, I like hot dogs, pretzels, and Canadian beer. I like the loudness of the spectacle and the various activities they have for us spectators during breaks. I like the thumping music and the big screen with cameras zooming in on common folks in the stands, especially on enthusiastic tots bopping to the beat. I relish the family fun aspect. I like to watch the Zamboni reglaze the ice. I even like the coolness of the temperature which feels like winter–while daffodils bloom outside in sunny Raleigh, North Carolina.