Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

I’m Still Not Sure What Icing Is

PassConsidering yesterday’s gold medal hockey match featured the USA vs. Canada, I found this timely.

Until three weeks ago, I had never been to a hockey game. In fact, besides back in 1980 when the USA defeated the Soviets, I had never watched one at all.

Always anxious for an excuse to take pictures, I snatched up two free tickets to the Allen Americans, a fairly new Dallas Stars farm team. The wife quickly cleared a guys’ night out and I frantically dialed up a couple of local friends. One of them is an avid hockey fan and even has his own skates and stick. Both of them are fellow shutterbugs.

(click any pic to enlarge)

Sadly, nobody’s schedule allowed a night out on such short notice.

Goalie's IntentBetween calls, I e-mailed my Canadian buddy and bigtime hockey fan (G’Oilers!) Simon to give me a few tips for a first-timer. He did that and more, and I was all set.

Only after I had wandered into the arena alone did I think to give away my other ticket. Oops.

I sat six rows up from the ice, near the corner — in football terms, about the 20-yard line. Maybe the 10.

Surprisingly warm, I shed my coat and took in the newness of it all. Besides the actual game, there was nothing new. The coupon-dropping miniature blimps I had seen at the National Junior College Basketball Tournament, and the supersized screen showing random surprised fans could be seen anywhere.

ReflectingThe game play was fast, and I had a very hard time keeping up with the puck for my pictures. By the time I aimed my camera at players slamming into the Plexiglass wall right in front of me, they were somewhere else on the ice. Usually when I’m not having luck with action shots at a sports event, I turn my lens to the spectators.

At the first intermission, the Zambonis came out. The marvelous machines drove over scuffed and scraped ice and left behind what looked like smooth, wet glass. I fixated on it despite having seen it just a few months prior at a birthday party for a friend of Benjamin.

For something completely different, there was a guy ramming a screwdriver into one of the holes used to secure the net to the ice. Occasionally he sprayed something into the icehole, and then drew the liquid out with a syringe and squirted it into a bucket.

That, I had never seen anywhere.

The second intermission offered another first. Without warning, red foam pucks started flying from the crowd down to the ice. I had no guess as to what was happening until a tiny dot of light appeared on the ice.

The fans who got their pucks the closest to the lighted dot won prizes. And there I sat, alone and puckless.

Get ItA minute or so into the third period, it was 9:20. I wanted to spend at least a little time with my wife, but figured that if there was another 18-minute intermission and another period after that, there was no way.

I’m sure some of you are adding all that up and thinking, “Wait a minute…” And you would be right. Not knowing, however, that there were only three periods in a hockey game, I grabbed my coat and left for home.

Although I picked up a few things by eavesdropping on a dad explaining the action to his son, and subsequently informed him when he had dropped his bag of peanuts, the solitary nature of my attendance left me feeling empty.

If free tickets come along again, I will go. This time, I will plan to take my son.

8 Responses to I’m Still Not Sure What Icing Is

  1. Icing is when the puck goes across 2 of the red lines without anyone touching it. You can google it and find it easy enough.

    The “Screwdriver and syphon” thing is to break the ice, add anti-freeze so the goals don’t freeze into the ice (safety). Otherwise, the goalie could get hurt in his back pretty bad falling backwards into a pole that’s frozen to the ground.

    I used to go to Hartford Whalers games quite a bit when they were here, now they’ve been gone for years.. and I miss them.

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  2. Love the faces in the “Reflecting” crowd shot, Mark. You got some good ones there.

    Regarding the USA-CANADA game, let me say that I’m very glad for the outcome, since I think a loss would have affected our nation in a much worse way than it did the US. It’s in the veins up here, man! We’ll take our hockey win, our record number of gold medals, and renewed sense of national pride for the time being. You guys can totally own the podium in two year’s time in London for the summer games. Deal?

    Moksha and I were live on Skype for most of the game, but my Canadian feed was about 5 seconds ahead of his NBC feed, so he got all my reactions before something happened on the ice. It was a sort of surreal experience for all parties involved.

    Good times!

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  3. I’ve tried to get into hockey. This season I really did try to follow my Blues. The NHL being the only major sports league to have teams in St Louis, Dallas, and Edmonton…I thought it would be perfect for a bit of smack-talkin’. Alas, I couldn’t do it. I will say though that watching a game with a friend makes all the difference. I’ve sat through (and enjoyed) televised soccer matches with my friend Jesse. And last night’s game with Simon was actually thrilling. Although even there I did admit to Simon that I really only wanted to win because it would make him sad ;)

    We missed you yesterday, by the way. Would have gladly given up the video to patch in your voice.

    Good pictures all around, but I think the reflection one is the winner. Amazing hoe crisp the reflected image is.

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  4. You know, I had people swear to me that seeing a hockey game live would give me a new appreciation for it. But alas, we never went to see a Blues game in the four years we lived in St. Peters, just outside of St. Louis. I regret that, because for some reason, I still believe the people who told me I should go were right, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it. There are few sports I don’t enjoy.

    But…with enough things to do already, and virtually no hockey here in Arkansas, it’s not high on my to-do list. But…I will go someday I’m sure.

    Cool picture Markus. It’s good that you ventured out.

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  5. Dave – That explanation makes total sense. I just didn’t think of it at all while I watched. Sounds like you’re a fan.

    Simon and Moksha – The crowd reflection shot was my favorite, too. In fact, it was the first one I prepped for web publication.

    Also, obviously I should have contacted you guys about watching the game. I worked for about an hour trying to make my Sony miniDV work as a webcam in a virtual XP window within Ubuntu (didn’t work), and then got it going on my dedicated XP machine in the computer room in about 30 seconds. I was all set to Skype it up, and skipped going to a birthday party with Shannon and Benjamin.

    Then I proceeded to watch the game live all by myself. I guess that’s what I get for not joining the whole webcam party sooner.

    Moksha and Charles – You both would enjoy watching it live, probably. It’s better than on TV, except it suffers a lot from lack of instant replay from various angles. Unlike the Olympics, where it gets players ejected, there was fighting.

    Charles, we definitely have an excuse for not taking to it right away. I don’t remember seeing anybody doing anything with ice skates besides on television until I was at least 25 or so.

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  6. The reflection picture is indeed amzing. Did you notice the guy and his twin brother (in the white hats)? I always thought icing the puck meant spreading frosting all over it.

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  7. I grew up in Montreal, home of the legendary Canadiens and the original shrine of hockey, the Forum. I went to loads of games as a kid, and my father would patiently explain the rules of the game to me as I sucked in the atmosphere of the place.

    I rather enjoy smaller-market venues because they’re so much more about the game – and not about the big-league, big-ticket mania that drives major league sport. In most of these places, the game still means something, and the fans get it.

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  8. I’ve only ever been to one hockey game in my life. I believe it may have been the Pittsburgh Penguins playing a Canadian team (Maple Leafs? Leaves?) At any rate, I was rather put out when the fans began to appear somewhat blood-thirsty. My chagrin peaked when a large man in the seat behind me jumped up to cheer for more blood and dropped his long wool coat ON MY HEAD and didn’t notice until I got tired waiting for him to remove it and crawled out from under it and waited for him to settle down and handed it back to him. It took both of my hands, it was a very heavy coat!
    Nope, haven’t been back to one since.

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