Monday, 12 September 2011

Bring on the Zamboni: it's hockey time once again!

You may have gathered from some of my previous posts that I'm a bit of an ice hockey fan, although it's really only been the last year or so I've gotten very into it. I felt a strange sense of emptiness when the Stanley Cup Finals finished back in June because I realised that the new NHL season wasn't scheduled to begin until October, which was months away. I'm quite an impatient person and that's just too damn long to wait!

Happily the Elite League couldn't wait that long either and the first Belfast Giants home game against Sheffield Steelers was on Saturday 3 September - yay! So last Saturday, the Yorkshireman, sister dearest and I had a few pre-face-off drinks at home and then headed over to the Odyssey Arena for some pucking good fun.

First face-off of the season

The first thing we noticed was that the drink prices seemed to have increased somewhat at the bar since last year (£4.20 for a small bottle of wine!) and also that they stopped selling Coors Light (probably due to their change of sponsorship from Coors to Stenaline). Neither of these things made us particularly happy but we figured, hey, we were there for a good time, not for a long time, so we sucked it up and bought some more drinkies anyway. We also bought some tickets for the 50/50 competition and a puck each for the chuck-a-puck competition and then settled into our seats for the game.

Die-hard Giants fans seemed to be somewhat disappointed with the team's performance on the night, as apparently was their coach, judging from his decision to cancel their day off in favour of some good hard practisin'. However despite the shortage of goals I don't think it was that bad a game. I've stayed up til 3am to watch worse from the NHL. There was also a disappointing lack of fights or people being smacked up against the plexiglass but it was still entertaining. Sister dearest and I spent most of the game chanting, shouting, singing and screeching. It took about two days for my voice to recover.

After the game (which the Giants lost on a penalty shoot-out) we ventured next door to Rockies Sports Bar in the Odyssey Pavillion, where we finally got some decent (and cheaper) beer to prepare us for the long walk back into the city centre to get the bus home.

I had a great time at the game, even though the Giants lost and I lost the 50/50, chuck-a-puck and also my voice. I absolutely cannot wait to go back again. At £15.50 a ticket I'm afraid I can't quite afford to be a regular, but I'd love to try and get to a game once a month or so.

In the meantime the first New York Rangers game of the season is on 7 October so I'll be frequently checking out the ESPN America listings looking for that first televised game that will keep me up until ridiculous o'clock, waiting with baited breath for the Rangers to score and also to see what delightful outfit Don Cherry has in store for me this time.

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