Monday, 11 February 2008

Jes Gölbez, Hockey Escort

by Jes Gölbez

How often does a Canadian get to take a total n00b to a hockey game? I'm talking about somebody who has never seen a hockey game and knows little about the sport other than it is played on ice.

Now, there are quite a few Canadians who don't like/watch hockey (be a patriot and report them to your local RCMP dispatch), but these people at least have a basic knowledge of the sport. Even my Gramma, who thinks hockey is a violent bloodbath *sigh* knows who Wayne Gretzky and Markus Naslund are.

Thus, it was quite a new experience for me to escort my girlfriend and some of her relatives from England to last night's tilt between the Vancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars. These people know and love 'footy' (obviously), and didn't even know hockey teams existed in the UK, nor did they remember the Theoren Fleury hurricane that tore through the British Isles.

Thankfully, they Brits quite enjoyed the experience, and were really looking forward to the game in the first place. It makes me wonder how other Brits would take to the game if they had some live exposure to it. Hell, they love Rugby, so why not hockey?

The Giants totally outclassed the Cougars (4-2 score, over 50 shots on goal for the Giants), and the game was fast-paced. The only black mark was the lack of an actual fight (which they hoped to see). Garet Hunt, who is smaller than pre-baby Christina Aguilera, challenged Magnusson, a HUGE Swede. The Chicken Swede promptly clucked away and Hunt got a misconduct. It was great to booooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Magnusson the whole 3rd period.

Now, hosting foreigners to a hockey game requires some patience, and it helps to compare hockey to whatever sport (soccer is easy) they know and love. There will be quite a few questions that seem odd, or just seem hard to answer because you never needed/thought about the answer to them. We know what Icing is, but explaining it can be much harder than you think

Some of the more interesting questions I remember
1. How long is a player allowed to be on the ice?
2. Do the players get teamed into set units? (think line combinations) Do they always stick together?
3. How do the players know who is supposed to go onto the ice? (It's hard to see the coaches barking instructions)
4. Why the hell are there blimps inside the arena? (Btw, the woman in front of me caught a prize from them. It was ... $2 off of a haircut. Ummm, is that it?)
5. When can players change on/off the ice? (Imagine soccer with on-the-fly changes? Heh)

All in all, they were more content to sit back and just enjoy the experience, so I ended up fielding far fewer questions than I thought I would be answering ... At least they didn't ask me to explain ICING.

That reminds me, I also caught a t-shirt for the first time in my life. Of course, it was for some stupid tool company, and it was bright white. Two strikes and your out! What a gyp.

Poor Zed :(

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