Monday, March 27, 2006

Love, Hockey, and Other Things

Two of my friends are happily in love. I'm not going to say any more details than that, in case they want to remain anonymous, but if they see this, they will know that I am very happy for them!

Meanwhile, back in the midwest... Tirithien took me to a Toledo Storm hockey game on Friday night. The Storm are in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League). They're two levels below the NHL. The Storm are affiliated with the Red Wings, so I may have been seeing future Red Wings in their larval form!

I have to say, though, it was a very different experience than going to a Wings game. For one thing, the Toledo Sports Arena holds under 6000 people. Joe Louis Arena holds over 20000! So to me, it looked like about 3/4 of the arena was just missing! We had most excellent seats, though. Just a few rows back from ice level, right behind one of the goals. We were right next to the Zamboni entrance. The opponent of the evening was the Dayton Bombers, who are affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets. And to my glee, the Storm's uniforms were red and white while the Bombers' uniforms looked like a knock-off of the Columbus ones. I could tell who to root for without having to think about it!

The Storm's fans are... hmm, how shall I say this? Wild? Raucous? Vicious? All of the above? When Toledo was down 2-0 early, they were taunting their own players, lecturing them, screaming at them. But as soon as Toledo tied up the game, all was forgiven.

And glory be, there was a fight. Right in front of us! Various players had been wanting to go at it all night, but the referee and linesmen (only one ref in ECHL hockey, plus two linesmen) had been breaking them up. Finally one of the Dayton players tried to pick a fight with Jason Maleyko. According to the Storm's webpage, Maleyko is 6'2" and weighs 195 pounds. Not exactly the kind of guy who'd be called "Tiny" or "Shorty." And he made short work of his opponent. The crowd absolutely LOVED it. So did I! And so did Tirithien. He may not know all the ins and outs of hockey yet, but he certainly can tell when someone decisively wins a fight.

In the end, the Storm defeated the Bombers 5 to 2. It was a crazy time in the Sports Arena. It's kind of dark and dingy, and I would swear that even the ice surface is smaller than at the Joe, but it was so much fun! Maybe a purer form of hockey? Or maybe it's more fun to be part of the crowd when the crowd doesn't include corporate ticketholders trying to impress their clients? Everyone there was there to have fun, and they did.

Oh, by the way, Toledo has a player named Rob Snowball. Could there be a better name for a player of winter sports???


Tirithien said...

All hail Snowball! :-)

That was a blast. :-p Heckuva beatdown, too. :-D

Bainwen Gilrana said...

I have to say, Dayton's goalie deserved better than he got. He made 40 saves! The only fan reaction that really bothered me was when he was booed after being voted the second star of the game. He had a very impressive showing and deserved more respect than that.

clew said...

There's just no attractive image for the term "larval". I can only picture writhing grub worms. Ick. ;)

Bainwen Gilrana said...

No! They're cute little caterpillar hockey players. Soon they will spin themselves into the cocoon of the AHL and emerge as beautiful butterfly NHL players! ;-)

Actually, I forgot to include that during the first intermission, there was a little demonstration/scrimmage game between some very tiny children, some of whom looked barely big enough to walk properly, let alone skate! It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen in my life!