Those words are from a Jimmy Buffett song which complains about being “up north’, far away from his beloved Caribbean, when it’s cold outside and there’s nothing to do except watch hockey on TV. But Jimmy, those of us who actually live in northern climes know something you don’t. Going to a hockey game is a lot of fun!
A few days ago, Carolyn and I took the train up to Boston to see the Bruins play Carolina at the new Boston Garden. Having never seen a professional hockey game in person, it was a real adventure for me.
The first thing I noticed about watching hockey live is the players are moving much faster on the ice than they seem to on television. I used to wonder why the teams changed players so often, usually every minute or so. But now I understand. Those guys are sprinting up and down the ice at full speed every second. It’s like running the 100 yard dash a dozen times in a row. The players are soon exhausted and the teams needs to get some “fresh legs” on the ice.
Unlike football, where each play last about 10 seconds and is followed by a minute or more of inactivity, hockey players are in “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” mode every second of the game. Even soccer players don’t sprint end to end all game long the way hockey players do.
The second thing I noticed is the noise. A hockey arena is a closed space and the crowd is a boisterous, roistering mass. When a player swoops in on the opposing goal, they let out a collective cry of excitement that ricochets around the rink. If the shot misses, there is a loud groan of “Ooohhh” that echoes back from the rafters. And when the home team scores a goal? Oh, my. Pandemonium!
The other things you hear more clearly in person are the thok of the puck as it hits the blade of a stick and the whump of bodies colliding with the boards that encircle the rink. You just don’t hear these sounds of the game as well back home in your man cave.
Our tickets came via a colleague of Carolyn’s who has season tickets to the Bruins. They included admission to the Legends Club, where fans can enjoy a meal and a beverage in style before and during the game. One simply tells the waiter what you would like during the two 15 minute intermission periods and it is ready and waiting for you at your reserved table when you get there. Very pleasant!
We didn’t have much room for more food after our pre-game meal, so we shared a desert during those intermissions – a hot fudge brownie topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Yes, we had the same thing twice and it was delicious. Both times!
After the game, the arena emptied smoothly and we were on the T and heading home within 15 minutes. Since we took the train to Boston, we didn’t have the hassle of finding a place to park like we do going to Fenway and, thanks to the MBTA, we weren’t snarled in traffic outside Kenmore Square for an hour after the game. It was all very civilized and made for a delightful adventure. Even though it was, quite literally, only 20 degrees outside!