Hooked on Hockey

When Mama moved us to Minnesota during one of my elementary years, it was the only time we had lived outside of the South. After growing up in Kentucky, we were used to seeing snow, but not quite the snow that Minnesota had. And I don’t recall ever knowing about ice skating or hockey during my first eight years of life. I don’t remember much about the year we lived in Minnesota except a few of the fun things I got to experience (and getting a case of the chicken pox the day we were supposed to move back to Kentucky).

We lived next door to the school and they had an ice skating rink. All the neighborhood kids played hockey. Angie and I were still at the age where we played outside and explored. A friend of Angie’s named Tracie gave us a pair of her ice skates to share while we learned to skate. Of course, they fit Angie but I had to use extra socks to make them fit me. It didn’t matter because I was doing something new. Tracie had a little brother who played hockey and he gave us one of his old hockey sticks and a puck.

Even though my sister and I had to take turns using these items, it was my first introduction to ice skating and hockey and I liked it! Ice skating was different than roller skating and I had to get used to it. At first my feet felt stiffer, but soon I learned how to move my feet. It was always scary when it was Angie’s turn and she would pass the puck back and forth – especially when she made a pretend goal. “Thwack!” I would cover my head if I thought it would head my direction. After I healed from the chicken pox, we were back in Kentucky leaving me with very vague memories of the North.

I was a teenager when I thought about hockey again. The movie “Youngblood” with Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze was quite popular. Of course, I wanted to see it because of Rob Lowe, but I also liked (what little I knew of) hockey. Movies with hockey tend to show the roughness of the sport and the players always lose their teeth. At that time I was interested in the romance part of the movie, but I did like seeing the action of the game. I just wasn’t interested enough to learn the rules of the game enough to understand it or follow it.

When we moved to Chattanooga, it was strange to me that it hardly snowed. The blizzard of ’93 wasn’t really a blizzard to me, but just a Minnesota-type snow. My boys were small and it was the first snow they would ever see. The movie “The Mighty Ducks” was a series of movies my boys loved watching, so I learned a little more about hockey. Chattanooga didn’t have hockey that I knew of and I never saw hockey games being televised so watching the movies was the only thing I got to see of hockey. I was always so caught up in the plot and dialogue that I still didn’t learn the rules of the game.

Twenty years later, every sport you’d ever want to see is accessible on television and, with Nashville having an NHL team, Chattanooga has embraced hockey too. Now that I am dating a hockey fan it was a nice opportunity to actually get to see a live hockey game. I was excited and, even though I am a girlie-girl, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the game.

I made the drive to Nashville where the Predators were playing the Senators – a Canadian team. As Jason and I continue our long distance relationship, meeting two hours away in Nashville makes the four hours away seem bearable. I absolutely love the drive from Chattanooga to Nashville! It is so beautiful! I love passing Monteagle Mountain where I am between two walls of gorgeous rock and seeing water falling. Sometimes, it is cold enough to see icicles. This time, I saw a few places of gushing water and some of it had frozen. It was simply breathtaking. The pressure doesn’t feel too good when my ears pop or I get a slight headache, but that usually goes away whenever I make it to Nashville.

Jason and I had lunch and walked around the mall for a while. I really enjoy the face time that we have and the many things we talk about. Our lives apart from each other really seem to have room for the other as we learn how well we fit. As much as Jason makes me laugh, we have serious talks too. The newness of our relationship turned fairly quickly. You know… that infatuation period where you walk on clouds and feel a romantic high? I noticed that I came down from the clouds quicker than I had before when I attempted a relationship, but that was a good thing.

Jason and I didn’t hold back as far as talking about issues or our past. No one likes to share the troubles they have been through – especially if you worry that you will scare the other person off. But, Jason and I did that. We covered so much in emails to each other that if it were anyone else but Jason, I may have gotten chicken and not followed through with going to see him that first time. The long distance alone was something I had told myself I would never do. I think when it comes to love and ‘the right person’ you find that some of your ideals for plans change. You will put more effort in something that you see worthwhile that just fits.

Jason and I had our childhood as a safety net. It was easier already having known each other’s families and it has made it enjoyable to have stressors out of the way had we been strangers. As Jason and I have not held back and we trusted each other with personal information of our lives – we found that we are both in the same place spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Both of us are wise to all we have learned from our experiences and through God’s mercy and grace has enabled us to proceed without fear. We have our eyes open and we are being smart just enjoying things right where we are.

As we got to the stadium, Jason bought me a Predators jersey – loud yellow with navy and I love it! I went in the restroom to change out of the navy one that he let me borrow of his and put on my first hockey jersey for my first hockey game.

Seeing a live hockey game is very different from a live football game. It is almost like going to a carnival. I have never seen a live baseball game either, but I have seen them in movies and I would hear a campy organ being played in between plays. It was the same thing at the hockey game. I guess I thought if I could just watch the skating and passing of the puck and to know when a goal was scored, I could keep up with the game. I learned quickly that I had NO IDEA what was going on.

The first few plays, I actually let out a discouraged groan when the Senators lost the puck! Jason hollered, “Yeah – alright!” As I watched the red team whir around the rink, I realized I was rooting for them because they were my favorite color! As if I were studying for a pop quiz that was seconds away, I quickly chanted in my head “We are for the yellow team… we are for the yellow team” while hoping that Jason hadn’t heard me rooting for the wrong team.

I tried to follow along the best I could, but I really didn’t understand the rules enough to know why, after just a few battles for the puck, the organ would play, the crowd would chant certain things and loud rock music would play …but the scores on the scoreboard didn’t move. I decided that it was okay if I didn’t understand. I didn’t need football explained to me when we had gone to a Titan’s game, but I had to swallow my pride and ask Jason a few questions about hockey.

“If nobody scored, what are they doing?” He explained a few things, but the music was so loud that I really didn’t hear much. I just learned by observing throughout the game. The loud music was actually cool and really got you pumped up. I finally rooted for the right team and followed the game pretty well for a newbie. Jason had been coming to the games for years and he knew all the chants the crowd would say on cue.

I noticed that the scores on hockey are not very high. There isn’t an immediate seven points. One point. Just one point is scored when a player strategically slams a puck into the net. And the goalies were powerful and quick! I thought the score would be 1-1 the whole night! And it was.

Though I didn’t understand about powerplays, it was exciting just to be in the crowd watching it all. Some people left between sessions (which I learned are three – as opposed to four quarters in football) but I enjoyed taking it all in. Hockey is so entertaining that you never get bored. There is always something going on to keep you excited and full of energy.

I did learn about the blue line, icing and the opponent’s zone. I learned that the penalty box was like the ‘time out’ I used to give my boys (but I remembered that from the movies I had watched).

What I didn’t know… was that the fights I saw in the movies actually occurred! I had my era of fighting when I was school age, but as an adult I cannot stand to see a person strike another. I don’t like boxing and could not ever watch a boxing match.

In the third session with the game still tied, the crowd all of a sudden stood up yelling. I stood up too even though I wasn’t sure why and saw two players duking it out! I couldn’t understand why everyone was cheering as if this was a good thing! Why didn’t the referee stop it? Jason could tell I was perplexed and the mother hen in me almost wanted to go down there myself and stop those boys from fighting! When I asked Jason why the ref didn’t do anything, his answer was simple. “Would YOU want to get in the middle of that?”

As I watched the hockey players fight knowing that nobody was going to break it up, it was over almost as quick as it started and the two players both got time-out –er… put in the penalty box.

The game went into overtime and the Senators ended up scoring the deciding point. It was still a good game and so interesting that I actually want to learn the rules. I don’t know if watching a hockey game on television would be as fun, but I do know that I am hooked on hockey.


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