Winter sucks. During the winter it’s cold all the time and you either build a fire in the middle of a rainstorm or you’re turning the thermostat up to 75 degrees in the middle of a blizzard, enough snow on the road after twenty minutes to prevent your shitty Domino’s pizza from getting delivered.
Sometimes just a light sweater isn’t enough even when you’re inside and it gets dark really early, which is mildly annoying. Plus hockey season is going on, seeing as the game is played on ice and you don’t see frozen lakes in July (unless you’re at one of the Poles, I suppose, but with global warming I’m sure Al Gore will eventually tell us what we’ve done to those previously frozen lakes). I don’t know much about the sport besides some of its more obvious rules, like when the puck goes inside a net, that’s a goal. However, I am coming to genuinely love the game for a variety of unique, fun, and painful reasons.
What’s nice is that you don’t have to genuinely love hockey to enjoy it, and believe it or not, there are some things to like about hockey even if you don’t like hockey.
All The Fights
As just mentioned, hockey fights are pretty entertaining – it’s two bearded Nordic dudes twirling around together on the ice, gripping each other’s jersey as they use their other fist to throw punches, not always connecting. Some guys are really good at it, and they lack some teeth to prove it; others have noses that look like Mr. Potato Head was melted in an oven.
Fights can break out without warning, usually under the following conditions:
- A teammate got blindsided with a vicious check, forcing another guy to defend his honor with de-gloved fists.
- Too much shit was spoken, reaching a boiling point
- Someone scored and taunted the opposing bench
- Someone had a very punchable face
- A mother was insulted
- Someone got bored playing hockey and decided to start a brawl
The Lines On The Ice
I love the lines on the ice indicating where stuff is; the two blue lines, the weird center line, the four circles where the faceoffs are done, and the icing lines. I love them all.
Ice is boring, but the lines and stuff are kinda cool. Is it paint? Dye? Only Canadian person Martin Short knows.
The Tiny Net
The goalie wears a lot of padding, which makes sense since the puck isn’t exactly a Nerf ball. They look ridiculously immobile, blocking the entire goal while they hold a giant stick. Goalies are actually very agile; it seems like it would be hard to score, which it is, but some games can reach scores of 7-5 on occasion, so it’s not like the goalies are perfect. The tiny net is pretty funny when you finally notice it – some huge mass sliding on the ice in front of it, going to great lengths to prevent the puck from hitting the back of the tiny, tiny net.
I like when someone scores and the goalie’s Gatorade bottle flies off the top, which the goalie then has to go and grab as the sirens blare in celebration of a goal; they always look dejected in their giant outfits and detailed masks.
Very Fast Skating
Fastbreaks in hockey are amazing: centers, wingers, and defenders huffing and puffing down the ice, throwing their limbs about like they’re trying to punch a ghost as they skate along. I don’t get how they see the puck when it’s being passed so quickly, but they lash it around with keen accuracy for a sport played on ice all the while skating on said ice, and they don’t fall or run into the wall every time. Well, actually they do hit the wall a lot, usually with intent to commit assault (legal in hockey).
They’re basically running on ice and passing a weird disk around very quickly and they do it while not hitting each other in the mouth (most of the time).
When A Guy Loses His Stick
It’s great when someone loses their stick. This usually happens when it was:
- Eaten by a dog
When the game is going on and you’re on the ice without a stick, you’re a walking target and utterly useless to your teammates. Sometimes the guy will pass the puck with his skates, which is comical and genius but it doesn’t work very often, obviously.
Once when a stick was broken a player gave their stick to the guy who just lost his while they were stuck defending their goal; the charitable guy went up front in front of the opposing player who had the puck and tried to block his shot. Hockey players are a different breed.
If the puck is at your feet and you don’t have a stick to move it, chances are you’re getting smashed while some Russian dude skates off, muttering something you don’t understand, but feel in your heart. Also, your ribs were crushed, and one might have punctured a lung.
It’s okay, your line is up in three shifts, which is in like three or four minutes, so use your one good lung to catch some air, you’ll need it.
Speaking of lines, hockey has lines. Yeah, they have the paint (dye?) ones, but in this case, it means players are on the ice in different groups of five. Each group is called a ‘line’, and each line goes on shifts together. It’s like a little squad going to battle while the other guys breathe heavily and use those bottles to spout Gatorade into their mouths.
(I always miss part of my mouth when using those bottles like they do, and have to just put the thing directly up to my lips to drink; while it is pathetic, I do have all of my teeth and my nose isn’t bent in three different directions, so, yeah.)
Everyone On The Bench Sitting Together
When guys skate past the bench, you get a shot of everyone sat down, holding their sticks, visors reflecting the light, obscuring the top half of their faces and it looks very cool.
The only downfall is guys can glide right past you after they score a late goal, pretty much choking out the last bit of confidence one could have, and that happens to the entire bench.
It’s a great way to look really cool or really dumb. The bench also taps the floor with their sticks when a teammate gets in a fight and wins in show of respect, which is yet another thing to like about hockey even if you don’t like hockey.
Slamming Each Other Into The Glass
If you happen to sit on the bottom row at a hockey game, you’re bound to see some guy smash an opponent against the glass barrier right in front of you. Most people flinch as if the players are going to cascade through it and onto your lap, but all you see is one guy’s face pressed very hard against the glass, staring at you awkwardly. They grimace, attempting to break free but they only struggle as their opponent pushes harder.
The Penalty Box
For such a violent game, the penalty box is something that adds a bit of comedy to the sport. There’s a spot dedicated to players that have been especially bad, breaking rules like using their stick to poke at another player in an attempt to slow him down, or using it to knock the absolute crap out of him. Opposing players can both be sent to the sin bin, but unfortunately, they don’t sit together. They can continue to threaten one another through the glass, but no punches are thrown until they’re on the ice again.
When a player raises his stick behind him, standing over the puck you know he’s about to slap the shit out of it, and if he gets it just right, it’s going right into the net. If I was a defender there’s no way I would ever get in front of someone about to shoot a slapshot – I’m not about to lose half my jaw for the sake of blocking a shot that probably won’t go in on its own. It is cool when you see a slapshot go in from long range, but most of them just ricochet off the glass barrier behind the goalie.
The Mighty Ducks Movie Series
You can have a hatred for frozen water that knows no bounds and still enjoy The Mighty Ducks series (at least the first movie). Quack quack quack, Mr. Duckworth! The Flying “V”. Goldberg. The awesome team name. Emilio Estevez. The big kid Fulton Reed knew how to take a perfect slapshot, one that can spin so fast yet so slowly in mid air that everyone in it’s way can see it and avoid it, even the goalie. That was an iconic 90’s film, but it sucks if you watch it today.
It’s cold inside, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of where the puck is at any given time, but hockey isn’t too bad. Winter is still terrible.