Monday, February 01, 2010

On The Ice

We have a new American Hockey League team in Cedar Park called the "Texas Stars."

The AHL has a very high level of hockey, only one step below the NHL. It's roughly the equivalent of AAA in major league baseball.

Both Eli 8.6 and I love hockey, so thats all awesome.

Even better, Cedar Park is only about 15-20 minutes from our house. There are a series of tollways that connect right from our front door to the arena, so even during rush hour, it's an easy drive.

Then there's the arena, which is brand new. Capacity is about 6,500. If you're wondering how small that is, here's the frame: this arena has eighteen rows. That's right--eighteen rows plus a ring of luxury boxes. So when I say it's impossible to have a bad seat, it's the truth.

We went to see a game last Friday. I had only ordered tickets three weeks ago, but we were on the blue line, eight rows off the glass. Unbelievable. Hockey isn't really appreciated down here, so for us, it's the perfect situation: high -quality games and no crowd.

There's a mini-Pizza Hut in the arena, so we went early, arriving about forty-five minutes before the game, picked up personal pan pizzas, and had dinner in our seats (which was totally great). Plus, and this is even more ridiculous, they actually have waiters come by during the game if you want anything else. I'm not talking about some private V.I.P section, either--this was just a regular seat.

I'd seen hockey in person before (from much worse seats), but I'd never seen the warm-ups, which stunned me. The degree of casual precision involved was astonishing. There were so many guys skating so fast and shooting so many pucks that it was like a Busby Berkeley number on skates.

The Stars were playing the Abbotsford Heat (Abbotsford is about an hour from Vancouver), and since we were only about fifteen feet from the glass, it was all fantastic. The game was a rout, but we didn't care.

Hockey is great in HD, but it's true that it's different in person, especially if you're up close. The degree of second-to-second intensity in hockey is off the charts, and while that comes through on television, it's exponentially greater in person.

One of the advantages of playing Abbotsford is that we got to hear a beautiful rendition of the Canadian National Anthem, which must be one of the best national anthems in the world. Our national anthem sucks ass compared to Canada's.

Tangent coming.

I'm not trying to start a big argument here, but our national anthem has always bothered me. How in the world do we use a song with the lyrics "land of the free" when there were millions of slaves in the era when the song was written? Good grief!

Tangent off.

The second thing I noticed (and I've noticed this before) is that allowing fighting in hockey is stupid. Wait, don't send me the "fighting actually improves the game and prevents fighting" e-mails, because it doesnt. There were three fights in the game, and the last two fights were a direct result of the first.

I've easily watched 500+ games in my life, and while I understand the whole "protection" theory about how it helps prevent chippy play, I've never believed it. Referees need to call the game, and having players beat the shit out of each other is not an operative alternative.

Actually, let them fight all they want--just call a ten-minute major the second they take off their gloves. That would work.

Circling back to something vaguely resembling the topic now, we had a great, great time. As much as we both like hockey, seeing it in person is only going to make it even better, and I already went online and bought tickets for the game two Fridays away (on the 12th).

Eli doesn't know this yet, but we're on the blue line. On the glass.

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